About Melbourne’s The Age Newspaper Picking On Croats In Australia 

Screenshot of Image in The Age, Melbourne Australia, 11 June 2023 – a politically twisted comparison and innuendo

Perusing the pages of the Australian “The Age” on 11 June 2023 an unsuspecting, politically naïve, or historically ignorant reader may get the idea that Croatia’s War of Independence/Homeland War (secession from communist Yugoslavia), fought in defence from brutal and bestial Serb aggression, during 1990’s, was a war led by the Nazi ideology. Why the article’s authors placed an image of the renowned (cleared of mounted war crimes charges at the Hague International Criminal Tribunal in 2012) Croatia’s 1990’s general Ante Gotovina next to the image of Ante Pavelic, Ustasha leader of World War Two Croatian independence fight, can easily be seen as an act of mean spirit, prostitution of history, and provocation for hatred. Definitely insulting to many. It also seems like a last-ditch attempt to give credence to falsified history when the article’s authors write: “… That state, ruled by a movement called the Ustasha, on conservative estimates killed 500,000 Serbs, Jews and Romani people during the war…” Wow! To what journalistic substandard and dark underground has The Age come to? Why regurgitate victim estimates (evidently constructed upon nothing but political pursuits) when there are credible research findings in Croatia (e.g. Blanka Matkovic, Stipo Pilic, Igor Vukic…) that for years have debunked these lies about World War Two Croatia victims, including the Jasenovac camp referred to in this article? Some, maybe even the authors of the article in The Age, guided by some political interests, might say that this latest research is all about attempts to minimise or undermine the Holocaust concept when in fact such research intends to shed a light on facts as they occurred, using historical documents as such w available in various state archives. 

Given WWII Serbia’s pursuits of a Jew-Free state (achieved by May 1942) it is most insulting to read this in the article after referring to celebration of what authors claim was a Nazi state of Croatia (instead of Nazi occupied) in parts of Croatian community: “The open celebration of that past is a source of tension with Serbian and Jewish Australians.” This kind of denial of Serbia’s extermination of 94% of its Jews by May 1942 we find in this The Age article is enough to drive any informed human being to despair! 

According to yesterday’s article in the Australian The Age newspaper, written by Ben Schneiders and Simone Fox Koob, titled “Symbols of hate: The lingering afterlife of Croatian fascism in Australia” it would seem that only World War Two Croatian fight for independence (from the oppressive and dictatorial Serb Monarchy in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, from any kind of Yugoslavia including the Post-WWII communist one) cannot justify the victims of this humanly acclaimed just pursuit! I have not read anything from these two journalists that would label as symbol of hatred anything to do with the terrible victims of British colonisation or imperialistic regime, of pain that preceded the American War of Independence, of the victims of Belgian King Leopold II in Congo, of “successful” WWII Serbia “Jew Free” (Judenfrei) pursuits which, by the way, WWII Croatia never had despite its regretful racial laws (by the by, Serbia also like Croatia was occupied by Nazi Germany but Croatia’s then leadership did not like Serbia lead 94% of its Jews to slaughter), of Joseph Stalin, of Mao Zetong …and all will agree these were the result of genocide, of obvious or written racial and/or politically coloured laws. The First Nations’ Voice in the Australian Parliament may yet give these two journalists plenty of fodder to feed their pens with. I am yet to see these two journalists writing about symbols of WWII Serbia as symbols of hate, and there would be plenty of those in Australia!

The above said is not to justify any crimes or horrors perpetrated by any totalitarian, dictatorial regime but it is an expression of loathing for the practiced double standards when it comes to victims in general. The 21st century should not be a carbon copy of the 20th when crimes of one regime were justified and crimes of another condemned.

One may think that the authors of this article are trying to justify the move to legislate the banning of Nazi symbols as symbols of hatred. But one cannot accept as well-meaning the singling out of one part of one community in such an endeavour. A biased one at that. The article waffles on about some bombings in Australia allegedly perpetrated by Croats but it gives no direction as to where a reader could find confirmation of those. What a reader could find, though, is a plethora of unsubstantiated finger-pointing at Croats during 1960’s and 1970’s terrorist activities in Australia. Undoubtedly all part of the communist Yugoslavia agenda to blacken the Croatian name in Australia. The article gives almost no due attention to the fact that a judicial review of 1981 criminal convictions for attempted terrorism against the Croatian Six men is currently afoot in Australia.

The authors of this article attempt to pin further credibility to their obviously biased claims about Nazi extremists in the Australian Croatian community by quoting the Croatian Ambassador in Canberra, Betty Pavelich: “there is no place for glorification of totalitarian regimes, extremism, or intolerance. We firmly believe that it behoves us all to ensure that disinformation, glorification and the mainstreaming of criminal, totalitarian ideologies, their symbols, and movements, do not take root in modern societies.” The authors, though, fail to dig into Croatian reality further, which would present and confront them with about 1700 mass graves, remains of more than 500,000 murdered innocents, so far unearthed (since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991) in Croatia and Slovenia – an undeniable horror of communist crimes and communist regime. Whose symbols would also amount to symbols of hate. And yet, no mention of that in the article!

The article’s authors further fail to comment or acknowledge that it was Croatian patriotic members of the Australian Croatian community, that included those they now, evidently tendentiously, implicate as Nazi extremists, who backed the fight against communism in 1990’s to achieve democracy and independence of Croatia. In January 1992 Australia recognised the sovereignty and independence of Croatia that was engulfed in war of defence against communist and Serb onslaught. It was the parts of Australian Croatian community that pride themselves in the true meaning of “For Home Ready” (Za dom spremni) chant, that for them had absolutely nothing to do with Nazism or Ustasheism, who lobbied and fought for this freedom. That should tell us a great deal about the bravery for freedom and democracy the chant had and has as its underlying force. It is now banned by law in Croatia but, then again, there is still a great deal of sacrifice to be had to rid Croatia of communist heritage and its oppressive ways.  The authors of this article in The Age evidently stay blind to the fact that the Croatia which spilled rivers of blood defending itself from Serb aggression in 1990’s is still fighting against the usurpation (via rigged elections) of power by the “camp” of former communist operatives.

Furthermore, the article talks of “For Home Ready” (Za dom spremni) chant heard at soccer games in Australia as the Ustashe or Nazi catchcry! The Ustashes had used that salute in World War Two but it stems from centuries back and Croatian fight for freedom. If one was to pay heed to statements like those found in this article in The Age regarding the chant, it comes to mind that World War Two “For Home and Country” slogans often seen in Britain may also have stemmed from Nazism as well! It needs to be said that any young person of Croatian descent using that chant at soccer games or in public it is above all a symbol of love for one’s ancestors who suffered greatly for freedom. They chanted it in the 17th century against the Habsburg absolute rule, they chanted it even in Australia during 19th century to First World War when Croatia was under the control Austro-Hungarian Empire, they chanted it during and post-World War One when Croatia was controlled by Serbian Monarchy, they chanted it during World War Two when Croatia fought to be free of Serb Monarchy and free of Josip Broz Tito’s communism, they chanted it in 1990’s while fighting off Serb and communist Yugoslavia. They always chanted “For Home Ready” to be free and sovereign people as they once were and were entitled to under self-preservation principles.    

As per a clearly palpable political agenda The Age has with this article coloured the entire Croatian immigration (community) to Australia with the same stroke of what tends to feel like harassment and vilification. The authors here unequivocally state that “Srecko Rover, (was) a man who would play a pivotal role in the emerging Croatian community in Australia.” This is an unforgivable lie and hateful innuendo! Have these journalists taken a good look at the fact and profile of Croatian community in Australia? Obviously not! The purpose of this article seems to me like many from the past in Australian media: serving a political agenda that has nothing to do with the truth or facts when it comes to Croats. For what reason I do not know but I guess many could take a gander and conclude there is an attempt to purposefully paint an ugly picture.

This article of mine, of course, is not to justify any actual crimes ever committed in pursuit of independence even though the world has upheld the right to self-determination of any people as a nation while individual crimes perpetrated in the process are detestable and abhorrent. The above said article in The Age does not itself present a clear reason as to why, seemingly out of nowhere, a part of the Croatian community is attacked for its WWII symbols and all others, like the Serbian community, are spared the abuse. I assume, that is, that the reason for writing this article may lie in the Australian recent legislature on banning Nazi memorabilia. Indeed, that is a good move by the government in my book but unless other totalitarian regimes’ symbols are also banned that legislation will not stop intolerance for unfairness and double standards.  I hope that the symbols of all totalitarian regimes, including the communist will be banned. After all, the latter has murdered more than a hundred million innocent people, who also deserve justice, not just the Holocaust victims. But then again, will various trade deals with communist regimes not “permit” such due justice? I, for one, would like to read an article in The Age on communist symbols of hate and how they affect members of Australian communities. There is certainly plenty of Australians who have fled the horrors of communism from various countries, not just Croatia.

The intended banning of the swastika begs the question: why is there no banning of the communist five-pointed red star or the ISIS flag? Both also symbolise hateful ideologies that led to genocide of politically undesirable millions or as in ISIS case the attempted genocide of minority communities – Yazidis and Christians. If we apply the same rationale behind the calls to ban Nazi symbols, then we should apply it to expressions of all violent so-called extremist movements.

Rather than banning only Nazi symbols and salutes, it seems to me that instead of just that, there is a dire need for a strong focus on education about Nazi, fascist and communist movements equally, and their horrible consequences. The generations of victims who lived through these horrors are slowly disappearing, dying, and their lived history is slipping from the grasp of younger generations. If we continue in a biased way, where, mildly said the pot is calling the kettle black, it is having and will have very real consequences for the future generations; this calling one evil – evil, and not the other (evil), will undoubtedly shape future generations into believing that evil can be acceptable. And it is not, no matter who perpetrates it. Ina Vukic


  1. Mainstream media digging up anything for a story because their numbers are down. Nobody believes what they have to say these days anyway!

  2. zrinkas says:

    Draga Ina, Hvala Ti na Tvojoj Bitci za Nasu Domovinu Hrvatsku i Njenu Casnu Borbu kroz stoljeca!!! Bozji Blagoslov Tebi i Tvojima!!! 🙏🏼🇭🇷🇺🇸🙏🏼

  3. I remember you called out the “New York Times” for its reporting about Croatia awhile back on the blog. Its signature “All the News that’s Fit to Print” means squat!

    • Yes Elisa, a great deal of such writing falls on deaf ears but at least it is there and someone read it. We need to pursue the truth always. Hugs!

  4. Peter Lozo, BSc, PhD (Adelaide) says:

    ‘For the Homeland Ready’ salute is banned in Croatia.



    “The slogan has banned for public use by several Croatian Constitutional Court decisions. On three separate occasions, the court ruled the slogan’s use to be an expression of racist ideology.”


    • Given you, Peter Lozo, sign off with a PhD title I am surprised that you appear to have not researched the matter re reported by some media banning of salute Za Dom spremni by law in Croatia. The fact is that the salute Za Dom spremi has not been explicitly banned by any law in Croatia. The fact is that the arresting police act in accordance with the Infringements Act where, for instance coupled with the Public Order Act they may arrest someone for that salute on the ground that it offends some people. But that interpretation of the law is actually personal one, some other arresting police officer may not interpret it that way. By the way n1 media to which you place links is Serbian owned and as far as President Milanović is concerned he is of communist stock and not much can be trusted from his mouth on that matter.

  5. Peter Lozo, BSc, PhD (Adelaide) says:

    Regarding the salute ‘Za dom spremni’:

    The Constitutional Court of Croatia issued a public statement in 2020 reminding that it had ruled the salute as an “Ustaša salute” and that the salute was in breach of the constitution. I think that the relevant article of the Constitution is Article 39.

    You will find the statement at the following link: https://www.usud.hr/sites/default/files/dokumenti/Priopcenje_od_5._lipnja_2020.pdf

    • Well Peter Lozo, the Constitutional Court did not say the salute was in breach of he constitution but that it is not in accordance with the Constitutiol and in the same breath it labelled Za Dom Spremni an Ustashe salute, and this was a Press Release of the court’s opinion not based on any testing in the court or judgment, the truth for the salute per se different. That is, the Ustashi used it during WWII however, the salute itself dates back centuries. There have been court cases in Croatia where the salute ZaDom Spremni was judged as not an Ustashi salute and this judgment was never overturned by the Constitutional Court. E.G. https://www.jutarnji.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/sud-u-kninu-utvrdio-za-dom-spremni-ne-predstavlja-ustasko-obiljezje-vec-je-stari-hrvatski-pozdrav-1630947

      The Constitutional Court is full of judges who were communist operatives from former Yugoslavia and in this matter their opinion is biased and hateful

      • Peter L. says:

        Ina, You are absolutely correct that the slogan isn’t a breach of the Constitution of Croatia. I used incorrect terminology. I should have used the term ‘inconsistent’.

        Anyway, about the Knin court case you provided a link to, the following is from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Za_dom_spremni

        “In 2011, a municipal court in Knin dismissed the case against a craftsman who sold souvenirs which contained the salute Za dom spremni. The court ruled that accused didn’t wear clothing or souvenirs with slogan that encourage national, racial or religious hatred, but instead he was selling them. While the former is punishable by law, the latter is not. The court ruling cited defendant’s claim that “Za dom spremni is an old Croatian salute known throughout history” as a part of the defense statement, however, it didn’t state any opinion on that subject.”

        In other words, the Municipal Court didn’t offer an opinion on whether the slogan had been used throughout the history.

        As far as I was able to determine, there are several variants on that slogan but the variant that we are focusing on was first used by Ustasha. It’s my opinion that such slogans shouldn’t be used by Croatian soccer fans in Australia, nor should they use the Nazi salute.

      • Peter Lozo, Please steer away from Wikipedia on this matter as articles there can be written by anyone. Rather, get hold of the actual Judgment (arguments for dismissing the case contained within the court’s decision) from the Knin court and then get back on track! Again, World War Two Ustashi merely used the historical salute For Homeland Ready which can in many ways be compare to the slogan “For Home and Country” found in Britain during wars!

  6. Peter Lozo (Adelaide) says:

    Below I paste couple of paragraphs from today’s article by the same authors.

    ‘Healing wounds, the Jewish and Croatian community come together’


    Ben Schneiders and Simone Fox Koob

    June 25, 2023



    “Three Sydney United fans were charged for making Nazi salutes at October’s Australia Cup soccer final, while nearby another fan flew the Ustasha flag – the emblem of the murderous World War II regime of the Nazi-puppet state of Croatia.”

    “Sydney United has some active far-right supporters who have regularly displayed Ustasha or Nazi symbols over many years. A statement by the club issued after the Australia Cup final warned it would not welcome fans that were not respectful: “Their views will never be tolerated.”
    I fully agree with the comments by the Sydney United management. There is no place for such ultra-nationalists behavior by a minority of Croatians in Australia, particularly at soccer games.

    • Peter, Sydney Morning Herald SMH as The Age from Melbourne appear to have the same agenda which could be classified as leftist and, hence, they will push the idea that Ustashas an Nazis are one and he same thing, which could not be furthest from the truth. While it remains true that Croatia was occupied by Nazis in World War Two Croats do not display the swastika as the SMH article suggests.

  7. Peter L. says:

    Ina, if you can refer me to the original court document. I will be pleased to read it. I have researched many criminal trials over the past decade and have realised that journalists often misinterpret what is said in the Court’s judgment. I do not trust the news article that you seem to trust.

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