Remembering the Bleiburg Massacres and Communist Yugoslavia Crimes Against Croatian Patriots

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Map of Mass Graves of victims of communist Yugoslavia crimes in Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina compiled in 2017 by Croatian association of historians “Dr Rudolf Horvat”, PHOTO: Screenshot 15 May 2021 https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1acZrR00vSr3kkgGXBZUsSL0Dbk&ll=43.93469114726703%2C18.12258350000001&z=7

Today, in Croatia, the communist Yugoslavia legacy of lies, deception, silence, denial of communist crimes and secrecy conspire against Croatia’s well-being and against the future for which rivers of Croatian patriotic blood was spilled during the 1990’s Homeland War. Without full disclosure of the crimes and criminals, without lustration and/or disabling former communists and their followers from power in Croatia, the political future of the country as a functional democracy remains uncertain and unlikely. Indeed, without a lustration the region within which Croatia sits remains politically unstable and widespread corruption is set to continue undermining livelihoods of the people and peace.

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This year, this month of May, marked the 76th Anniversary of the end of World War Two. At the end of World War II, despite the victory of the Allies in Europe and the official defeat of fascism, the secret genocidal killing continued as organised groups of Yugoslav communist Partisans, starting on 15th May 1945 at Bleiburg Field in Austria under the very noses of the British forces administering that part of Europe after the War, sought and pursued revenge against those who fought for and wanted an Independent Croatia. Most of the refugees reaching Bleiburg left the Croatian capital of Zagreb on 7 May 1945. A column of people approximately 70 kilometres long was reported by Radio London to be moving north to Austria from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, people scrambling to leave Yugoslavia, “overtaken by a fear of the Partisan units” (Portmann, M. [2004], Communist Retaliation and Persecution on Yugoslav Territory During and After World War II [1943-1950], pp 130-134).

Josip Broz Tito’s communist Yugoslavia killing machine started the brutal genocide there at Bleiburg and continued under the pretence of repatriation, forced repatriation to communist Yugoslavia of those who were fleeing it. This genocidal mass murder of Croatian patriots continued as the so-called death marches, the Way of the Cross, in that forced repatriation process as well as communist purges continued for several years to come. The British records indicate that up to 700,000 unarmed men, women and children were massacred by the Yugoslav Partisans, forcibly repatriated and their bodies dumped, as we now know, in over 1700 mass graves.

Croatian children were among those who fled communist Yugoslavia in May 1945 and were brutally massacred

On Bleiburg Field in southern Austria, the great deception began on 15 May 1945. According to records of the British Foreign Office Headquarters 5th Corps, 200,000 Croatian and Slovenian soldiers and military personnel, as well as 500,000 civilians headed to Bleiburg at the end of World War II seeking asylum, expecting that the British would abide by the principles of the Geneva Conventions and provide them sanctuary to protect them from Partisan reprisals. They expected deadly reprisals from the communist Yugoslavia regime because, refusing to endure the oppression and brutalities against Croatians within any Yugoslavia, they fought for an independent Croatia during WWII.  

Historical writings after WWII show that the great majority of the people the British forced back from Austria, Bleiburg, were simple peasants. They had no murders on their hands. They had not been Croatian Ustashas or Slovenian ‘Home Guards’. Their only fear was of communism and the reputation of the communists. The British forces pursued an unforgivable act by sending these refugees back to communist Yugoslavia knowing they were sending them to certain and brutal death.

Croatian civilians, children, women, unarmed soldiers fleeing communist Yugoslavia in May 1945

According to the testimony of a Partisan soldiers: the orders came from the staff of the 11th Dalmatian Brigade that the most reliable communists, both officers and soldiers were to be chosen for a confidential task… They (communists) created a special unit of them, which amounted to seventy people. Every day between 10 to 20 trains arrived at the station full of people. They didn’t receive any food or water. The overwhelming majority of them were collapsing. Most were men. A smaller proportion were women who were raped in the pit before they were shot… Two hundred boys from 14 to 16 years of age. Everyone was killed. All killed. In two pits. There were 30,000 to 40,000 killed in 8 days… The Partisans went to Lake Bled on vacation on Sundays after eight days of killing, then came back for another round. From Kočevja alone we sent over twenty freight cars of clothes. Daily we sent two to three freight cars of personal effects of the dead (Tolstoy, N. [1986], The minister and the massacres, London: Century Hutchinson Ltd., pp. 198-200). Yugoslav communists created many extermination squads that operated at local levels across Yugoslavia but the relatively greatest number of them operated within Croatia for a number of years, even within the WWII Jasenovac camp which Tito’s communists kept open until 1952 where, according to new and emerging research of historical archives and facts, extermination of anti-communist Croats occurred constantly.   

Croatian refugees fleeing communist Yugoslavia in May 1945

Killing civilians and prisoners of war after the Second World War is the greatest massacre of unarmed people of all times in that territory. Compared to Europe, the Yugoslav communist massacres after the Second World War are probably in size and ferocity second only to the Stalinist purges and the Great Famine in the Ukraine. Because of its relatively short time, the number of murdered innocent people, the way of execution and massiveness, the so-called Bleiburg Massacres (that encompass murders at Bleiburg and the years that followed) is an event that can be compared to the greatest crimes of communism and National Socialism. Communist Yugoslavia’s leader Josip Broz Tito, under whose command the State-ordered purges and massacres of Croats occurred, stands listed among the World’s top 10 mass murderers of the Twentieth century.

And yet today’s powers that be in Croatia fail to legislate a ban on communist Yugoslavia symbols, insignia and celebrations! They barely pay a lip service to the commemoration of Bleiburg massacres and the State-owned or controlled mainstream media barely give it a mention. It would be a reflection of absolute truth that this appalling situation in remembering the victims of the communist Yugoslavia totalitarian regime exists because those who committed these crimes are and were among families of many today’s persons who hold positions of power or some form of control.   

All of the crimes committed in Tito’s name from 1940 to 1980 were repeated again during the 1990’s war when Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina sought to secede from communist Yugoslavia. The message of the Serb-led Ovčara massacre at the outskirts of Vukovar, the message of ethnic cleansing of Croats from two thirds of Croatian sovereign territory, the message of thousands of rapes, tortures and murders committed by Serbs and Yugoslav forces, is identical to the message of the horrible massacres of more than 1700 mass graves and pits filled with the remains of brutally massacred Croats and Slovenes.  Communist Yugoslavia hid these crimes, and it was only in early 1990’s when Croatia became an independent state, even if it was still in the midst of brutal Serb aggression and war of defence, that historical archives opened up and research into truth began without fear of communist reprisals.

Today, in Croatia, the communist legacy of lies, deception, silence, denial of communist crimes and secrecy conspire against Croatia’s well-being and against the future for which rivers of Croatian patriotic blood was spilled during the 1990’s Homeland War. Without full disclosure of the crimes and criminals, without lustration and/or disabling former communists and their followers from power in Croatia, the political future of the country as a functional democracy remains uncertain and unlikely. Indeed, without a lustration the region within which Croatia sits remains politically unstable and widespread corruption is set to continue undermining livelihoods of the people and peace. Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. It’s a very sad heart-breaking story.

  2. Such a horrible part of our past and yet people want to erase it and pretend it didn’t happen? These communists should be shamed of themselves!

  3. It sounds like the British Army /Government owes Croatia a big apology for turning a blind eye at such an important part of the after the War clean up. I wish you could get the lustration you want and even more that a list is made and published of al those officials that have remained communist and tied to the ideas of Communist Yugoslavia. If that was done at the right time then maybe those officials would b voted out and finally give Croatia a chance to shine as a Democratic Country with a properly written history of it’s struggles.
    Huge Hugs

    • Thanks David. For possible interest I provide a link in English (confessions of some who were there taking orders to send Croats back) I do not think Croatia will ever get an apology but an acknowledgment would be a start from upper echelons…Hugs

  4. bobomostarac says:

    A terrible crime that must not be forgotten! Thank you Ms. Vukic for this hart beaking story and renewing our memory.

    We have one more documentary about it:
    Remembering The Bleiburg Massacres, 15 May 1945

    https://www.newsforum.tv/videos/counterpoint-remembering-the-bleiburg-massacres

    They live and will live forever in our hearts!

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/22/d5/3b/22d53bd3666041cddfd364acbd6b514a.jpg

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
    and let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May they rest in peace. Amen.

  5. Thank you for visit and like , Ina ! 🙂
    Alioșa ! 🙂

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