Bleiburg – Evoking Memories Of Victims Of Heinous Communist Crimes

Commemorating victims of
communist crimes at Bleiburg
13 May 2017
Photo: Ina Vukic

Do not permit anyone telling you differently: commemorating the Croatian victims of mass murders by the hand of communist Yugoslavia in May 1945 at Bleiburg, Austria, and along the so-called Way of the Cross, after WWII had ended, is and always has been just that. Not a nostalgic celebration of the WWII Ustashe ideology as today’s defenders of communism would like you to believe. Precisely because acknowledging and accepting that their predecessors had committed heinous crimes against innocent Croats who simply did not want a communist Yugoslavia is a reality and truth they do not accept.

“Yes to the death-commemoration, no to any form of anti-Semitic or fascist instrumentalisation” was the main thrust at the commemorative mass for the victims at Bleiburg held in the Catholic church in Klagenfurt, Austria, on Thursday 11 May 2017. The diocese, as all other commemoration participants have repeatedly and clearly and decisively distanced themselves from any glorification of a political past and hang close to the necessity of the need to condemn these communist crimes. Today, Saturday 13 May 2017, once again, thousands of participants arrived at Bleiburg from all over the world including from Croatia.

Commemorating victims of
communist crimes at Bleiburg
13 May 2017
Photo: Ina Vukic

 

The commemoration at Bleiburg gives and gave the relatives of the victims, the people that care about justice for the victims, the opportunity to commemorate and pray for innocent people killed at that time in 1945, whose deaths are still a deeply divisive issue within the Croatian nation precisely because the former communists and their current followers tend to justify these horrible crimes on false grounds that the victims were all subscribers to fascism.

The sad and unacceptable fact remains that the horrors of the immediate post-WWII period in the Communist Yugoslavia have long been concealed and therefore the Bleiburg field has become a place of Christian memory for many survivors, for their families, for their friends, for thosevwho care about justice.

Commemorating victims of
communist crimes at Bleiburg
13 May 2017
Photo: Ina Vukic

As a reminder, the place of the commemoration at Bleiburg was the scene of horrifically dramatic events in May 1945. Croatian, and their families, who had fought for an independent Croatia, as opposed to fighting for a communist Yugoslavia, had already surrendered to the British troops in Carinthia, were handed over to the communist partisan federations of Yugoslavia. Hundreds of thousands died in marches and massacres – at Bleiburg field, around it, along the way to Yugoslavia buried in hundreds of mass graves and pits.

The memory of these victims was forbidden during the communist period in Yugoslavia. Hence, the massacres that are easily tantamount to democide, at and beyond the Bleiburg field gained more and more importance for the survivors, their families and those who wanted an independent, free Croatia, and a large memorial for the victims was built there.

 

Commemorating victims of
communist crimes at Bleiburg
13 May 2017
Photo: Ina Vukic

Recent days have seen a relatively great deal of criticism about the Bleiburg commemoration, some antifascists from Croatia and Austria even tried to stop the commemoration from going ahead. They kept drumming the false tune that this commemoration was yet another attempt to rehabilitate the Croatian WWII Ustasha regime, which they wrongly but purposefully label as fascist. Their agenda continues to be that of justifying as necessary these heinous communist crimes. On Tuesday 9 May 2017 various antifascist groups had appealed to the Office of the Carinthian Provincial Government (Austria) to ban the commemorative event at Bleiburg. On Wednesday the Green Party of the Greens also took a position and spoke of the “largest meeting of revisionists, neo-Nazis and supporters of a fascist state”. Albert Steinhauser, Justice and Constitutional Jury of the Greens, criticized, as in previous years, that symbols and flags were used in the celebration, which were forbidden in Croatia. He accused the Austrian authorities of inactivity.

The assessment of the event as a large right-wing extremist march by the crticisers is utterly and fundamentally wrong. Bleiburg commemoration is an ecclesiastical event that has existed for over 30 years – said the head of the Carinthian administration, Helmut Mayer, on Wednesday 10 May. 98 per cent of the visitors were members of the dead, he emphasised.

Similarly, the responsible District Chairman Gert-Andre Klösch argued that the event was not to be prohibited according to the Austrian legal order.

On Thursday 11 May, the Israeli religious community also criticised the sacrifice and said that it was disguised as an ecclesiastical celebration. Furthermore, the cultic community spoke of “misleading” and “highly questionable events”.

Commemorating victims of
communist crimes at Bleiburg
13 May2017
Photo: Ina Vukic

 

Cardinal Bozanic recalled at the commemoration in 2015 that 70 years ago, a large part of Europe and the world had experienced liberation from totalitarian ideologies and many bad things, but not Croatia. In May 1945, “terrible massacres, crimes against humanity under the symbol of the five-pointed star began.” Bleiburg had been the place where “death marches, crossroads, had begun, without witnesses, courts and judgments, all with the aim of eliminating any memory of the victims and their graves.”

Speaking and writing about these May 1945 crimes was forbidden in former Yugoslavia and freedom to speak and write about them came with the foundation of independent Croatia in theearly 1990s. Therefore, the memorial in Bleiburg is so very important. At least the memories had been and are being collected here, evoked and placed onto the path of justice for the Bleiburg victims, where they belong. These memories testify of a time when silence was commanded, trampled on the memory trampled with fear, and witnesses were punished.

“At dawn – I was dumbfounded. The road and the field were red from blood, bodies everywhere.

I still see that picture in front of me. It was a nice sunny day, which brought us misfortune as two hunting planes with red stars painted on them appeared in the sky above us from the Slovenian side. They came as an overwhelming surprise and started to fire with machine guns at the miles-long columns of civilians, mostly women and children. At each break of fire we flew into the canals by the road and hid in the bushes. The HOS (Croatian defence forces) officer was on horseback, and in constant flight backward and forwards whispered: ‘Faster, faster!’ I did not hurry because I was afraid of the aircraft” – remembers 82-year-old Zelimir Kuzatko, a survivor of the May 1945 Bleiburg massacres.

Lest We Forget! Ina Vukic

 

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    REMEMBERING THE EVILS IS PART OF DOING MORE GOOD! 🙂 –J.E.C.

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  2. HRVOJE MRAVAK says:

    unfortunately most croatians in todays croatia cried with their hearts and soul for their god tito when he died-lets be realistic if the yugoslav economy was succesful-sfrj odnosno yugoslavia would still exist today.ina we in dijaspora see things clearer-and i know u are aware ina that titos favourite jna general tudman wanted a yugoslav confederation of republics under the control of belgrade-we can thank brainless- milosevic more than tudman that croatia is independent today-because when sloba started the war-all chances of tudmans yugo confederation disappeared 6 foot underground-and what happens after tudmans death-these so called croatian citizens vote for the last jugoslav president mesic twice-and then they vote for another anti-croat-josipovic.so ina tell me the logic in all of this-for me 25 years of these yugoslav presidents-and yugoslav- hdz sdp domination in the so called hrvatski-sabor proves my point that in todays little croatia-we would be lucky to have 1 million people who love croatia with their heart and soul and who know the truth about bleiburg-jasenovac etc the point is the devil titos soul dominates croatia and only the new generations can give us hope for the future+a new generation that has to reject the beliefs of their parents and grand parents and so on

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    • While I believe you’re deluded about the success of Yugoslavia – for its life was propped up by borrowed money it could not pay off, hence the misery of 1980’s – Hrvoje, the truth remains that after it was decided that such Yugoslavia could no longer exist, several models were bandied around but at the end of the day it was Franco Tudjman who led the quest for independent Croatia.

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  3. Bleiburg is the symbol and the metaphor of all Croatian suffering. God bless the Croats

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  4. Truth offends people whose life is defined by lies and deceit. Communists built a vast empire on lies that have retarded people’s ability to think and feel. Bleiburg is a tragedy for Croatia, but also for the world because they let it happen; specifically the British. They should also be held accountable as knowing accomplices. Because of the communists my parents fled Yugoserbia, and I missed out on my natural homeland and family. For this I cannot forgive them or the Serbian Chetnik imperialists for destroying our beautiful homeland and people.

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  5. Veronika says:

    Thank you Ina. God Bless. I lost my dida/granddad then, (my dad was only 3 and his brother was a newborn, his siblings were all under 10). Dida was not active military but a peasant fleeing the Partisans. Dida’s remains are in a mass grave somewhere between Austria and Croatia. We have no idea where.
    We owe these memorials to the thousands of victims. This can never be forgotten and needs to be explained over and over again like the Armenian Genocide and Ukrainian Holodomor.

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    • Such tragedy and sadness and horror, Veronika must be reckoned with and I agree the memory revisited over and over again until at least some justice is had for the victims. So many fallen brutally and their graves unknown – an injustice like no other

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  6. Nice article.. Please follow me and read my article to

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  7. americro says:

    It is interesting to note that just a few years ago the UK added another thirty years of secrecy to the Bleiburg / WWII / Yugoslavia archives. Nothing to see here, move along now….

    Like

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