Canadian Croatians And Memorial To Victims Of Communist Crimes

Croatian Martyrs Church, Mississauga, Canada
7 January 2018
From Left:
Ivan Grbesic (TTL), Reverend Ivan Vuksic, Alide Forstmanis (TTL),
Reverend Tomislav Kasic, General Zeljko Glasnovic (MP),
Tanya Granic Allen (Director, Croatian Heritage Association), Ivana Mandac (Director, Croatian Heritage Association)

Communism is estimated to have killed at least 100 million people worldwide, yet its crimes have not been fully compiled and its ideology still persists. In Croatia, the number of communist crimes victims is astonishing, and, yet, still rising, as new mass graves are being discovered and existing ones researched. The enormity of communist crimes is astonishing, which means difficult to comprehend. Yet, the mixture of speculative communist teaching and its fanatic delirium that pervades all milestones to progress towards a functional democratic state of Croatia leaves the bitter impression that communist mindset evidently goes on like an endemic illness.

Were civil activities and organisations in Croatia as free and as enabled to address the problems communist heritage fuels for general progress, economic robustness and society’s well being as civil activities are in Western democracies then one would come across a similar picture to the one rendered via October 2017 results of the Survey conducted in the US under the auspices of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. 75% of those participating in the survey (of all generations) consider that “Communism was and is still a problem”. And yet, communism is not a current threat nor do its teachings or habits interfere with citizens’ daily lives the way they do in Croatia.

Survey results October 2017
Victims of Communism Foundation, Washington, USA

It is, therefore, of special significance to maintain awareness of the fact that Croatian communities living within the Western democracies have always and are active in preserving the memory of communist crimes in former Yugoslavia (particularly Croatia) and their victims.

During this past weekend the Croatian Catholic parishes in greater Toronto area, Canada, with their community have presented to the charitable organisation Tribute to Liberty (TTL), whose sole mission is to build the Memorial to the Victims of Communism (about which I have also written in previous articles), with a $40,000 donation towards the building of the Memorial and, hence, made a notable impact in being included in this paramount project for victims of communist terror and horror – prior to this date and via fundraising activities carried on by the Canadian Croatian Chamber of Commerce $25,000 towards the building of the Memorial had already been donated. The presentation of the donation on Sunday 7 January 2018, Mississauga, that occurred in a church full of parishioners was carried out by Reverend Tomislav Kasic (Croatian Martyrs Parish – Mississauga) and Reverend Ivan Vuksic (Holy Trinity Parish – Oakville and also a delegate for the Croatian Bishops’ Conference for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Canada) on behalf of the Croatian Catholic parishes in Canada.

General Zeljko Glasnovic, Member of Croatian Parliament representing the Croatian diaspora was also there, taking part in the donations cheque presentation and addressing those in attendance. Thus, his presence perhaps also signalling that although the battles and efforts to decommunise Croatia (including the implementation of lustration), to which he subscribes strongly as a matter of both political platform and concrete actions, may appear and be a far post to reach, it is not unreachable.

Mr Ivan Grbesic, a member of the board of directors of Tribute to Liberty organisation,  a member of the board of directors of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and a Canadian Croatian representative and president on the Advisory Committee to the Croatian government’s Office for Croats living abroad, who lives in Canada, was also present. Canadian Croatian Community, including Montreal, Ottawa, Windsor, Vancouver and Winnipeg, among others, continues fundraising towards the building of the Memorial to the Victims of Communist Crimes in Ottawa.

When asked why he got involved with Tribute To Liberty charitable organisation, Ivan Grbesic, replied:

My father fled Herzegovina in 1965 when he was called to serve in the Yugoslav Peoples Arny – he went first to Austria and then to Canada – with my mother following suit in 1974. My father did not formally return to Croatia until 1990.

Given the experience of Croatians with communism after World War II, including Tito’s dictatorship, the death marches in Bleiburg, the ‘death pits’ all across Slovenia and Croatia, the trial of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, the activities of the secret police (UDBA), the assassinations and liquidations of Croatian émigrés, the student uprising during Croatian Spring (Hrvatsko Proljeće) in the early 1970’s, and the images of Goli Otok (Barren Island – prison for political opponents to communism during former Yugoslavia times) not to mention the carnage caused by those wearing the ‘red star’ during the Croatian War of Independence, this project is of significant importance to me personally. I want to make sure that these aforementioned chapters in our history are memorialised and that when my four children walk by the Memorial, they recall, among other things, the suffering and struggle of those who came before them in order for them to be able to lead the life they live. While we need to look towards the future, it is important to know who you are and where you come from. Were it not for the communist regime in the former Yugoslavia, many of us would likely not be living outside of Croatia today.”

Indeed, a similar personal story would be found with each and every one of the more than 8 million Canadians whose family roots are set in communist regimes of the past and, perhaps, of the present. The similar story would be found in many democratic countries of today.

It is estimated that there are over 8 million people living in Canada whose roots are in countries that suffered under communist regimes and the Memorial is a result of joint efforts by volunteers from various ethno-cultural communities in Canada including the Croatian one.

Memorial to Victims of Communism, Ottawa, Canada
Tribute to Liberty Project

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism – Canada, a Land of Refuge will recognise Canada’s international role as a place of refuge for people fleeing injustice and persecution and honour the millions who suffered under communist regimes. The project has had a number of setbacks in the past few years particularly with the 2015 changes of government in Canada and community at large making it, through consultation processes, a most contentious new landmark. Immersed in politics from birth, it has provoked strong opposition to its size, design and prime location. The space had for decades been reserved for a new justice building; it wasn’t even on the feds’ list of possible sites for future monuments and memorials. But, 2017 proved to be the year of major positive turnaround and progress.

The design of the Memorial, titled the “Arc of Memory” (created by Team Raff, May 2017)) is a dynamic living calendar, designed to capture the many moments of suffering and injustice to be commemorated, in solace and in gratitude. It’s a sculptural array of over 4,000 bronze rods configured into a sweeping arc. Over 4000 bronze rods are arranged along 365 slender posts, each one pointing at a unique angle of the sun, for every hour of every day, across a year. The memorial is divided in the middle at the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, inviting visitors to step through in a metaphorical journey from darkness and oppression to lightness and liberty. At a distance, the sculptural array of bronze rods expresses the vastness of the suffering of individuals under communist regimes. Up close, the memorial invites visitors to reflect on their own experiences.

The construction of the Memorial is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2018. The unveiling of the memorial is expected in November 2018 or early 2019. Ina Vukic


  1. That is one wonderfully different memorial structure.. I enlarged the photo and when finished it will be something to behold. And an amazing concept of it as one experiences the journey of light and darkness..
    Many thanks Ina for sharing..
    Have a Wonderful start to the New Year my friend..
    Love and Blessings.. <3

  2. Spectator says:

    While it has worldwide significance in terms of victims of communism this is a memorial to those millions of Canadians whose families have suffered under Communist regimes in the former Soviet Union, China, Poland, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and elsewhere. Not only does the memorial recognize their suffering, it also honors their contributions to Canada. Well done everyone!

  3. Looking at its history the memorial has seen its fair share of controversy and partisan wrangling over the past years, indeed. It had become somewhat of a part of the geopolitical propaganda battleground between the West and Putin’s Russia, but domestically, it has been the Canadian victims and their families who have born the brunt of partisan attacks. It is such an uplifting element of life today to see this Tribute to Liberty come out the other end of the propaganda war waged by what obviously was the leftist barricade to silence and erase the memory of communist crimes as determined for justice to victims. All kudos to these people who bat for justice for victims, the least today owes to yesterday.

    • A picture in miniature what today’s post-communist countries find themselves dealing with propaganda wise,and politically. Resistance within to recognition and justice for victims of communist crimes can get staggering, sadly.

  4. Reblogged this on Aquilon's Eyrie.

  5. I’m happy to see a memorial like this going up. People on the Left make some outrageous excuses for communism. There’s the old canard that “real/pure communism has never been tried.” Then, one article I came across claimed that communists at least believed that what they were doing was good, unlike those fascists who were motivated by the pure evil in their hearts. As if that can be an excuse for promoting a murderous ideology!

    I wish that there were more memorials to the victims of communism.

    • By all accounts, medievalotaku, the communist “good” murdered at least 10 times more innocent people than any other regime. And yes I too wish for more memorials to victims of communism. They will come!

  6. Dear Ina, in my life I have had the pleasure of Croatian friends as I was growing up. Please forgive me because I always was just a friend and ignorant of the things that were in the lives of them. Now I am older and when I read your works, it makes me cry that I was so ignorant. it is so easy to have a simple world view, but may I say that the kids I remember played good footy and punched hard and gave me something good because they were good people. Peace and love to you and yours.

  7. Ina ,
    thankyou for continuing to expose the lies and barbarism that is communism .

    Sadly the policies of globalism and free trade are leading us away from Christian teachings of self sufficiency and the richness of national identity , united by one love in Jesus .

    What we have today , in Oz North America and elsewhere , is defacto communism . That is why China is the new superpower .
    Totalitarianism did not fall in Eastern Europe it migrated to the West .

    We need to inform our children to the dangers of paganism .
    Time is running short , the technocracy is leading them away from Gods natural order .

    “Making money from nothing and backing it with nothing but the enforced taxes of its captive customers is nothing less than modern day secret slavery and has been the greatest financial fraud in history .”

  8. Kinezi ce gradi Peljeski most ! Pa to je katastrofa .
    Puno bolje da ga se uopce ne gradi . To ce ponisti nas narod i zlatnu prirodu . Jeli vi znate kako komunisti gradu .
    “Kakva meni placa takva tebi vrata .” ( napiseno na zastave avuta pod Jugi ) .
    Tamo Hrvati nece bi zaposleni !

    Politika je samo za glumce . Tragedija u Hrvatsku je bjurokracija , koji su ostali isti oni i djeca komunista . Iza zatvoreni vrata su doveli zemlju do dna . Globalisti prodali Domovinu za 30 dinari !
    Sram vas bilo .

    Hrvati to nisu zasluzili .

    • Anto, ne slažem se s vama po ovom pitanju. Vjerujem da će mnogi Hrvati biti zaposleni na gradnji mosta, a činjenice o već dokazanim visokim sposobnostima ove firme na izgradnji raznih objekata po sivijetu upućuju samo na dobro za pelješki most.

      • Ina ,
        Zasto nije Hrvatska kvalicifirana za gradi most .
        Dalmatinski majstori ( mestri ) su po sposobnosti vrhunsko priznati sve od Rimskega carstva .
        Mislim da Hrvati bi napravili kvalitetnije nego strane globalisticke firme .
        Inace , ” keep up the good work .”

      • Nitko im nije branio da se takmiče na natječaju, Anto, i da velikih majstora imamo i sigurno će oni doći tu do izražaja.Cheers!

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