Competitive Victimhood – Injustice For Victims Of Communist Crimes

 

All good people owe it to the victims of communism to learn what happened to them and pursue justice for them. It has often been said, and I agree, that until Croatia’s left and those operationally associated with communism in former Yugoslavia acknowledge how evil communism had been we will continue to live in a morally confused world, unable to move forward into freedom and democracy.

Lord help you if you ever dare to utter the truth that Communism in Europe exterminated more people than Nazism! You should know better! You should know that you live in a politically shaped dystopian world, which beats fear into the bones at any such thought – for the Holocaust must be maintained as the largest politically motivated mass murder of all times! If you are courageous enough to use suppressed historical facts and, using these, argue differently, then you are labelled with negative connotations as being a historical revisionist. You are stigmatised without mercy, rhyme or reason.

The apparent need to compete over victimhood is perhaps one of the greatest inhibitors of reconciliation processes, and removing it can crucially contribute to an enduring peace.

In the context of genocidal pursuits, I and all fair-minded people are not interested in the question of who was worse, but I and all fair-minded people are interested in justice for all victims, whether they be those of the Holocaust or those of communist purges and crimes.

I don’t want nor intend to contribute to the growing phenomenon of competitive victimhood, which has undoubtedly developed by the elevation of one group of victims and the belittling and the dehumanising of the other, and in which various persecuted or formerly persecuted groups scramble for public pity and financial compensation while other groups are made to suffer continued injustice and erosion of their human dignity. But it seems to me that to compare and contrast the two main types of 20th century totalitarian regimes (Nazism and Communism), and to discuss them as evidence of similar evil tendencies in human nature, is not only legitimate, but banal: Hannah Arendt did it way back in the 1950s. Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil”, which has ramifications for both totalitarianism as a project and the pathways of resistance. The very fact that it doesn’t seem banal to everyone-that to talk about Hitler and Stalin (Tito in Yugoslavia’s case) together can still raise hackles and cause offence-is indicative of precisely the phenomenon tackling competitive victimhood.

While the word “genocide” may, to some, be inappropriate to apply to all of the multitudes of communist mass murders, communism and Nazism can be said to have shared at least one essential trait: both kinds of regime legitimated themselves by using the rhetoric of dehumanisation, and by establishing categories of enemies who were persecuted and destroyed on a mass scale. Most people of the “West” may have grown up not knowing that communist regimes had committed horrible crimes on a grand scale and it is time those communist crimes are treated everywhere for the evil they were. Most people across former Yugoslavia, including Croatia, have until 1990’s grown up not knowing about the horrible crimes committed by the communists.

And hence, I turn to an article written and published (tabletmag.com) this past week by Menachem Z. Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, in which he twists the truth of the Jasenovac remembrance plaque for Croatian HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) defenders killed in the area in action of defending Croatia from 1990’s Serb aggression and includes the twist into his misguided and utterly politically coloured claim that “Croatia Is Brazenly Attempting to Rewrite its Holocaust Crimes Out of History”. It seems to me that the only purpose of this article is to add fuel to the existing concocted fire that stigmatises modern Croatia as a place that broke away from communism (at overwhelming human and material costs) not because of the unbearable communist system criminal oppression but because of some trumped-up nostalgia for WWII Ustashi system.

Memorial plaque to 11 HOS
defenders killed in Jasenovac in 1991

In late 2016,” writes Rosensaft, “far-right political figures and veterans of the 1990-era Croatian Defense Forces put up a plaque in the Croatian municipality of Jasenovac that featured the ‘Za dom spremni’ (For Home Ready) slogan. The ostensible reason for putting up the plaque was to commemorate 11 fighters of the Croatian military who died during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Croatian journalist Vojislav Macoko placed the controversy squarely in historical and moral perspective. Setting the plaque in the town of Jasenovac was ‘unacceptable’ for a number of reasons, he said. ‘The first is that it is unacceptable to erect a monument with such a greeting because it’s the Ustasha salute. This is public glorification of domestic Nazism. The other reason is because it is, of course, Jasenovac’.”

Sorry Rosensaft, but there is nothing ostensible about raising a plaque marking the location area where the Croatian defenders died in 1991 and placing on the plaque the image of the legally valid insignia under which the killed soldiers fought to defend Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression. The patriotic salute “For Home Ready” has its roots in centuries old history of the Croatian people, not in WWII.

It is significant to note that Rosensaft chose not to quote any of the Croatian journalists whose statements regarding the plaque aligned with this truth; he chose the one that suited his political agenda that appears to undermine Croatia’s 1990’s fight against communism and the current attempts by many to reveal and prosecute communist crimes to the full. What seems disturbing is the likelihood that Rosensaft may uphold the right of the WWII Jasenovac victims to have memorial plaques in the locations they perished in but denies the same right to the victims of Serb and communist Yugoslavia onslaught against Croatia in 1990’s!

A brief detour is necessary here to address the campaign in many formerly communist Eastern and central European countries to place Nazism and Communism on the same moral plane, or even to depict Stalinism and the various post-Stalinist strains of communism as worse—more evil, if you will—than Nazism,” writes Rosensaft. “Without in any way minimizing the oppression and suffering endured by large parts of the populations under Communist regimes, it is beyond question that no post-WWII Communist regime anywhere in Europe committed or attempted to commit genocide. To be sure, there were large-scale political imprisonments, far-reaching deprivations of civil and human rights, and politically motivated killings.”

Oh calamity! To Rosensaft, in excess of 64 million communist crime body count in Europe (source R.J. Rummel) including 1.1 million in communist Yugoslavia is a mere “politically motivated killing”, not genocide. No, probably not just genocide – but definitely democide; “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder” (R.J. Rummel).

However,” Rosensaft continues, “as Yehuda Bauer stated eloquently in response to a 2009 resolution of the European Parliament determining Aug. 23, the anniversary of the signing of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, as a date to commemorate the victims of both regimes, ‘to compare this with the murder of many millions of Europeans by the Nazi regime, and especially with the state-planned genocide of the Jews (Holocaust) in the context of Nazi crimes generally … is a distortion of history.’ The comparison is especially invidious, as Bauer made clear, because ‘a certain number’ of those persecuted by the Communists ‘had, in fact, been Nazi collaborators.’

This was certainly the case in Croatia, where the post-war Tito regime engaged in large-scale killing of members of the Ustasha, but this was in revenge and retaliation for the crimes—and they were crimes—committed by the Ustasha during their reign. Such politically motivated excesses, however heinous, cannot be compared, let alone equated, with the genocides that the Ustasha had unleashed on Serbs, Jews, and Roma…

Rosensaft omits to write about the innocent civilians and citizens mass murdered by the Tito’s communist regime and Serbian Chetniks during and after WWII. He omits to tell the public that Jasenovac camp remained opened for some years after WWII where, it is claimed, multitudes of politically undesirable Croats perished under communist regime and those body counts thrown into the WWII body count. Let’s trust in the possible wisdom and will of humanity that this part of the dark history will come to light as research takes the path of good will towards victims.

Rosensaft in his article appears to justify mass murder committed against Croats under political guises of communist revenge and retaliation, giving an outrageous bias to his article in terms of both humanity and justice. To him, it would seem, revenge and retaliation are acceptable but only for the communists to use! No need to think too hard why all this may be so.

Rosensaft goes on to write about the historical recordings of the Holocaust victims in Croatia by Ivo and Slavko Goldstein without telling the readers that Goldsteins were writing history as part of and under the protection and licence of the communist Yugoslavia machinery. The machinery that from the start set out to stigmatise Croats, the WWII independence from Yugoslavia politics, as the only people within the territory of former Yugoslavia to had engaged in persecution and murder of Jews, despite the fact that Serbia was one of the first European countries to declare itself “Jew-free” by having exterminated 94% of Serbian Jews by mid-1942! He omits to mention the unbearable Serb-led oppression against Croats that lasted for decades within the post-WWI concoction known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In a 2011 New York Times interview, talking about genocide, the same Rosensaft stated that “There are always political elements to these cases. There are always ambiguities.” And in 2017, in the article referred to in this article, he has the gall to justify and colour as acceptable the communist political motivations for mass murders but not those of the other side of the political spectrum of WWII Croatia!

Since WWII politics form a large part of Rosensaft’s reflection upon the tragedy that the Holocaust was for humanity his article would hold much more credibility had his analysis of current day Croatian efforts to expose and deal with communist crimes also included the WWII and post-WWII communist politics. We should feel continuing revulsion at the crimes of both communism and Nazism, but Rosensaft seems to have occupied a seat in the victimhood competition wagon where victims of the Holocaust are to be regarded as somehow more deserving of human compassion than those of communism. To me, a wrongful death resulting from walking into a gas chamber is no worse than the one resulting from being bludgeoned and pushed alive into a pit. The historical fact is that communism spread further and lasted longer than Nazism and, in that, it produced more victims. Surely, even Rosensaft needs to acknowledge that fact without painting the plights in Croatia to pay tribute and deliver justice to the victims of communist crimes as some twisted historical revisionism! Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. Ina, I admire you for standing up for all victims regardless of how, where and why just that they are a victim and have suffered enough ….A good post I wish you well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stevie10703 says:

    “While the word “genocide” may, to some, be inappropriate to apply to all of the multitudes of communist mass murders, communism and Nazism can be said to have shared at least one essential trait: both kinds of regime legitimated themselves by using the rhetoric of dehumanisation, and by establishing categories of enemies who were persecuted and destroyed on a mass scale.”

    IMO, it is an appropriate term to use because that’s exactly what it was, genocide. What is it that Stalin did to the Ukrainians in the 1930’s where he starved 6-10 million of them to death, that is the classic definition of genocide but papers like the NY Times hid this in their reporting.

    Milovan Djilas, the Serbian said, “In order for Yugoslavia to live, Croatia must die,” and the Croatians died not just in Tito’s Yugoslavia but also During and after WWII and in the first Yugoslavia as well where Croatians were murdered left and right and yet, this is ignored. What do these people think Bleiberg and the Krizni Put were?

    The reason the left and the media ignores Communist/Socialist mass murders is because they believe in that ideology. Remember Nazis were Socialists and papers like the NY Times praised Hitler when he first took power and lets not forget the Fascists, who were Italians, were looked upon fondly by FDR who sent representatives to Italy to learn more about fascism because as FDR said, “Fascism was more progressive than the New Deal.” Heck, look how the left treated the Castro’s, Che Guevara, and of course Hugo Chavez…with kid gloves and swooning all over them.

    When I was in graduate school, I had to explain to people how evil Communism/Socialism were because I knew first hand what happened to my parents and their families during that time and I was told that my opinion didn’t matter because I had “a biased opinion,” can you imagine that? My father was 10 years old and the oldest of 4 children and he was forced to watch his mother get murdered by a firing squad and she was left on the street for 4 days and finally buried in a mass grave and yet, my opinion is biased….sickening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alas, Stevie10703 – democide! Includes genocide and more. Thank you!

      Like

      • Stevie10703 says:

        Ina, its amazing how even our own people can turn a blind eye to what happened to us in both Yugoslavia’s. One just needs to look at how much the Croatian populations have dropped in former Croatian places like Boka Kotorska to know this didn’t happen by accident. I don’t remember the exact numbers but from what I remember reading a few years back, Boka Kotorska’s population was 95% Croatian in 1917 and now its less than 5%.

        Like

      • Your figures are near the mark, around 6% Croats in Boka Kotorska these days, Stevie…what a terrible history there also…

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  3. In my opinion Mr. Rosensaft, through his myopic, biased and critically flawed reasoning has proven the merits of two well-known adages. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – he has proven that he is sorely in need of tutelage on the subject of communism – in particular as it relates to countries of former Yugoslavia, as he is certainly no expert! Indeed his statements have the inevitable negative consequence of portraying him to be either stupid, or even worse, wilfully ignorant to the suffering of human beings, irregardless of their race, creed, political ideology, “innocence” or “guilt”. Pointing directly to the second adage; “Better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”…..enough said.

    Za Dom Spremni!

    Like

  4. Great article that makes it clear that the atrocities under
    Communism are as atrocious as those of Nazism. All life
    is precious and should be respected.
    I think, however that loss of life under Nazism and
    under communism should be discussed separately, one
    took place during WII while the communist carnage
    Took place after the war! Ina’s article should appear in major
    Daily newspaper!

    Like

    • Indeed Esther, thank you, however there were multitudes of communist crimes that also occurred before and during WWII, as I believe research and fact revelations will show in the coming years if not months.

      Like

  5. Vrana Veritas says:

    Just a few tiny facts to add:
    1. Democratic elections as of 1990s in Croatia have not swapped Communists from power, even worse ex political Bolshevik Secret police repressive pathological part has been in operation ever since. By mere neglect of psychological rage, highest level of Bolsheviks, still ruling politically and with repression over Croatia, produced as of 2013, for themselves colloquial name “Lex Perkovic”, in ultimate attempt to keep all the communist crimes secrets sealed, by saving Master of political killers, Josip Perkovic from German court processing for communist political murder of INA -Petrol Co. marketing manager, S. Djurekovic.

    2. The war in Croatia since 1991 has not been the war against communism nor communists, yet that has been the Homeland Defense War against armed aggression on behalf of Greater Serbia Project, solely.

    3. In Croatia there has not been any hint of Lustration, nor any serious official confronting with the historical totalitarian Bolshevik repressive past. All the secret communist archives and Secret police dossiers, hiding methodical oppressions and political murders against non Bolshevik, democratic part of the Croatian nation, all these documented proofs are tightly closed from the public eyes in Croatia, only in use for court process in Germany (Udba/SDS RSUP SRH: Perkovic – vs. political murder of S. Djureković).

    4. HOS – Croatian defense Forces, have been considered threats for Croatian government, in spite that HOS fought exclusively against Serbian aggression, during the war as of 1991. The head of HOS HQ, Ante Paradžik, has been assassinated by Croatian state police co-ordinated by “Lex Perkovic” Bolshevik network., simultaneously with Stalin political mounted court processes, further arrests, harassments, tortures , kidnappings, murders of other HOS/ZNG/HV commanders treated as threats to intact communist (era) still in political power.

    5. HOS has been retrogradely legally incorporated within Croatian Armed Forces, in 1996, by the Law signed by president of Croatia (NN 108/96), but only those HOS true members acquired their full status rights by the Law, who were not considered any further serious threat to Communist establishment, have been silent and pleased to serve Potemkin, political, Villages scenery.
    The true democratic part of Croatian nation still fears all sorts of possible, primarily existential oppression, stay still and mute, preferring exodus then trying to oppose the national disaster caused by missed (democratic and at least refined) Lustration. All other disputes, besides basic Lustration, (Goli otok (Bare island) Gulags, Australia treason – Bugojno – “Fenix” 72, could be just secondary refined “ex cathedra” biased views, lamentings.
    The Crow of Truth.

    Like

    • Thank you Vrana Veritas, Croatian Homeland War was indeed a defensive war – Croatia defended itself from Serb aggression and communists at the time of Croatia’s path of seceding from Communist Yugoslavia did not want secession. So the latter did cause quite a struggle for Croatia, which is evident even today. Decommunising Croatia must at last become a priority.

      Like

  6. I agree with you Ina Vukic i can tell you a true story what happen to good Croatian that love Croatia so much that after war he was murder nothing will change in Croatia it is still run by Communism !!!!

    Like

  7. Communism was largely a Jewish affair. The holocaust story allowed the Jews to play the role of perpetual victims and hide their roles as victimizers.

    Like

  8. Thank you for doing this. I am sure that if crimes are forgotten then they will be repeated.

    Like

  9. anonymous says:

    this is for the communist for arround the world, Move your ass madfucker, if you want to be rich, don’t, be fresh, communist can’t be that fresh, capitalis work for their very own money, they are another goal, the communist are loose, the mexicans are loose thieves, their partners the bunch of military communist regirme from america and mexico, with out the politics, those regime want to be thief from the hughes factories from arround the world, the military regime against the political goberment those want to be thieves support it by the soviets..grow you borders even high’est, how unhuman, you don’t be gay, you don’t be loose unhuman brake to your own, brake in your own country, be rich rich forn inside your own country, your own oil your own farm.

    Like

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