Croatia: No Justice For Victims Of Communist Totalitarian Regime

Retired General Zeljko Glasnovic
Photo: Screenshot

Never kid yourselves that the future does not rest upon the history; the history of struggles and sufferings regardless of their sources from everyday life or everyday people. Russia is fighting fascism to the last swastika; Ukraine is combating communism to the last red star (and so have other Eastern European countries that have been fighting the red star communism ever since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989). They have been racking up success after success.

Tomorrow, 23 August is the Black Ribbon Day in the European Union, marking the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and, it is a Day of International of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. This day symbolises the rejection of extremism, intolerance and oppression. Of recent years, some of the more successful countries in the process of lustrating communist mindset in order to transition fully into democracy have been labelled as developing a new breed of authoritarian rule or undemocratic regime. Hence, one can easily find these days media writeups that, say, Hungary is becoming a hybrid regime rather than a semi-consolidated democracy because its Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues his assaults on Hungary’s democratic institutions! Poland is not far behind being a target of these attacks that mainly come from the leftist or communist-prone establishments within the EU and beyond. It is a demonstrable truth that in Hungary or Poland, just like in Croatia, these democratic institutions are a far cry from democracy – they are riddled with former communist red star apparatchiks and its today’s apologists.

These critics conveniently circumvent the fact that in order to rid a nation of its oppressive totalitarian regime such as communism one must be firm and controlling in policy and process. No pain, no gain – says the well-ingrained idiom when it comes to success stories, especially!

Sadly, and infuriatingly, the picture of Croatia’s fight against totalitarian regimes of the past is a selective one to the point of cruelty. The victims of the WWII Ustashe regime (often wrongly referred to as a fascist or pro-Nazi regime by those who seem to lack knowledge of profound truth) have been given much deserved justice through continued commemorations and monuments over past decades, while the memory of victims of Tito’s communist regime is more often than not tossed into a dark ditch where it can’t be seen properly as the communist former apparatchiks and today’s apologists occupying high positions in the so-called democratic institutions still wear the red star with sickening pride; they say they were and are Antifascists! Antifascism was never a regime of oppression and murder, and communism was.  Croatia’s communist murderers and oppressors had thrown the Antifascist cloak over their shoulders a long time ago, as directed by one of the top ten mass murderers of the 20th century world – Josip Broz Tito.

The resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism passed in the European Parliament in April of 2009 recommended declaring 23 August the day of remembrance for victims of communism and Nazism. In September 2019 the EU Parliament passed a resolution declaring both Nazism and Communism (and other totalitarian regimes of the past) criminal regimes.

On 7 December 2016, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic spoke at his government cabinet meeting about a memorial to fallen soldiers of HOS (1990’s Croatian Defence Forces) at Jasenovac. The memorial had become a focus of national and international attention, since it contained a logo which includes the inscription “Za Dom Spremni” (“For Homeland Ready”), which was used during the Second World War by the Independent State of Croatia but also HOS defence forces in defending Croatia from the brutal Serb aggression in the 1990’s Homeland War:

“The Croatian government expresses reverence for all the victims of Jasenovac (Jasenovac camp WWII), as well as for the Croatian veterans who lost their lives there during the Homeland War. We are aware of the sensitivity aroused by the symbol; however, such symbols were approved in the past, at institutional and government level”, said Plenkovic.

He pointed out different rulings issued by the courts related to the symbols of totalitarian systems and announced that the government would establish a committee to consider the issue in a calm and rational way. The goal is to adopt an acceptable legal solution, in order to determine the position of the society towards the symbols of totalitarian regimes.

Well, in 2018 Croatia’s government formed a Committee that would deal with “confronting the past”, which committee was full of former and current communist operatives! Suffice to say, nothing came out of that exercise that would, for example, outlaw the communist red star.

And here we are in August of 2020 and Andrej Plenkovic is Croatia’s Prime Minister again (despite the fact that with a low voter turnout under 17% of voters voted for his HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union party. He formed a government, again in coalition with the Serb minority representatives who achieved a parliamentary seat by special electoral mechanism which does not require of ethnic minority representatives to have sweeping numbers of votes in their court – they can get a seat even with one hundred or less votes! Plenkovic has even given the Serb minority representative the position of Deputy Prime Minister (Boris Milosevic, Milorad Pupovac’s puppet in installing Serbia’s anti-Croatia politics in Croatia!).

Disaster! As I wrote only recently, fearing such an outcome.

Andrej Plenkovic’s government has, in effect, done nothing bar spread rhetoric about the need to bring about legislation on criminalising symbols of past totalitarian regimes, including communism that defined national politics of former Yugoslavia. And it’s painfully clear that Plenkovic is not about to do anything on this front in this new four-year mandate as Prime Minister. His close political allies from Serb minority have amplified their demands for the usage of “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) slogan to be criminalised, while there is no mention of criminalising the red star!

Have no doubts about it: Plenkovic’s and Milanovic’s pockets still keep the metal communist red star badge warm!

They are not about to criminalise its use any time soon! They are not about to afford real justice to any victims of communist crimes no matter how many more new mass graves with their remains are discovered.

Some say that one of the problems for those supposedly advocating for the ban on the red star is the fact that the current Croatian Constitution determines that Croatia as it now exists was founded as part of the antifascist struggle during the Second World War, whose symbol was the red star. But they omit the fact that the current Croatian Constitution also states that today’s Croatia is founded on the 1990’s Homeland War – the terrible war of Serb aggression that took place because Croats (94% of voters) wanted out of communism or communist Yugoslavia. The absolute truth is that the WWII Croatian antifascists (communists) did not fight then for an independent Croatia but for Croatia to remain within Yugoslavia! Hence, they must be removed from the Croatian Constitution of today.

It is not a surprise, although it is very sinister against Croatia’s democracy or its full development, that Plenkovic’s HDZ did everything it could to ensure that the retired general Zeljko Glasnovic does not get into this new Croatian Parliament makeup! Reports of electoral fraud and theft of votes (11 votes) from Glasnovic have persisted in some of the Croatian media since 5th July 2020 General Elections. Indeed, Glasnovic has according to these reports, taken steps to rectify the claimed electoral fraud against him. One may ask at this point: but why would Plenkovic and HDZ party do that? Well, one answer that pops to mind is the fact that while a member of Croatian Parliament Glasnovic was the leading politician in Croatia who insisted and persisted on lustration, on banning the symbols of the communist regime, on decommunisation so that Croatia may have a fair chance of a functional democracy, etc. Without Glasnovic in the parliament we may see some sporadic speeches along those lines or individual MPs coming out from time to time with similar demands but there will most likely be no pressure imposed for the chance, no consistency and persistence in demands for change. The focus on the absolute need to condemn the communist totalitarian regime of former Yugoslavia and its symbols will thus be washed away and communists with their apologists will literally get away with murder!

Is this what most Croatian people want? I don’t think so! A time will come in the not so distant future when 94% or more voters will let us know that, just like they did in 1990.

One of the most disturbing things about Yugoslav communism is how quickly Croatia changed after WWII ended and they took power. Croatia went from pursuing independence and self-preservation to being taken hostage by Serb-led communist stronghold where political prisons arose like mushrooms after rain, where communist purges by mass murder and individual assassinations cleared the terrain from anti-communists, where hundreds of thousands fled the closed borders fearing for their lives or the taking away their human right to work etc. All this with about fifteen years from the end of WWII.

In her work “The Origins of Totalitarian Regimes” Hannah Arendt wrote: “The success of totalitarian movements among the masses meant the end of two illusions of democratically ruled countries in general and of European nation-states and their party system in particular. The first was that the people in its majority had taken an active part in government and that each individual was in sympathy with one’s own or somebody else’s party. On the contrary, the movements showed that the politically neutral and indifferent masses could easily be the majority in a democratically ruled country, that therefore a democracy could function according to rules which are actively recognised by only a minority. The second democratic illusion exploded by the totalitarian movements was that these politically indifferent masses did not matter, that they were truly neutral and constituted no more than the inarticulate backward setting for the political life of the nation. Now they made apparent what no other organ of public opinion had ever been able to show, namely, that democratic government had rested as much on the silent approbation and tolerance of the indifferent and inarticulate sections of the people as on the articulate and visible institutions and organisations of the country. Thus when the totalitarian movements invaded Parliament with their contempt for parliamentary government, they merely appeared inconsistent: actually, they succeeded in convincing the people at large that parliamentary majorities were spurious and did not necessarily correspond to the realities of the country, thereby undermining the self-respect and the confidence of governments which also believed in majority rule rather than in their constitutions.”

As in many modern democracies so too in Croatia, we can see evidence of indifference and pervasive feelings of helplessness. There is low voter turnout and an assumption that things will be the way they are no matter what an individual does, whether he/she votes or not.

There is significant pent-up energy in apathy. Arendt suggests that the desire to be more than indifferent is what totalitarian movements initially manipulate until the individual is totally subsumed.

“The disturbing factor in the success of totalitarianism is … the true selflessness of its adherents: it may be understandable that a Nazi or Bolshevik will not be shaken in his conviction by crimes against people who do not belong to the movement…; but the amazing fact is that neither is he likely to waver when the monster begins to devour its own children and not even if he becomes a victim of persecution himself…” Arendt wrote.

It’s important to understand that it is simple to isolate people who already feel isolated. When you feel disconnected from the system around you and the leaders it has, when you believe that neither your vote nor your opinion matters, it’s not a huge leap to feel that your very self has no importance. This feeling is what totalitarianism figured out how to manipulate by random terror that severed any form of connection with other human beings. And, indeed, the very inactions in Croatia to rid the state system and its operations of former communists and their apologists reeks of a mosaic constructed to keep alive the authoritarianism of former Yugoslavia that instilled corruption.

The fear is a requirement – fear is what keeps that anti-Croatian identity movement going. In Croatia there is already very noticeable fear of saying anything against the government; the fear of losing one’s job is among the most frequently encountered fears on the streets of Croatia. So, how does a government get this “power”?

Arendt argues that there is a “possibility that gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts, that man may be free to change his own past at will, and that the difference between truth and falsehood may cease to be objective and become a mere matter of power and cleverness, of pressure and infinite repetition.”

You may find here the reasons why murderous Yugoslav communist regime still lives on the streets of Croatia. The lies about prosperity of living in Yugoslavia still fill the cracks that appear to reveal the ugly truth of communist Yugoslavia.

This battle with truth is something we see today in Croatia. Opinions are being given the same weight as facts, leading to endless debates and the assumption that nothing can be known anyway. The research being carried out into WWII facts including the facts of Jasenovac Camp are aggressively labelled as historical revisionism. The government does not support them, especially if the uncovered facts go against the grain of communist and Serb -written history. The unearthing of almost 1000 mass graves of communist crimes’ victims since 1991 is barely afforded a mention in the controlled mainstream media and new mass grave dig-sites are often stopped and a ban put on them!

It is this turning away from knowledge that opens the doors to totalitarianism. “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it,” wrote Arendt so many years ago. To our alarm, her words ring true to today’s Croatia, the Croatia since year 2000 when former communists swindled their way into governments promising democracy and prosperity. Their words still linger in the ears of those who still vote for them even though their children and grandchildren have either left Croatia in search of a gainful employment and decent, prosperous living!

Had Plenkovic’s HDZ government and all Croatian governments since year 2000 collaborated with the Croatian Serbs who fought alongside Croats in defending Croatia from Serb aggression Croatia would today be many steps ahead in condemning the former Yugoslavia communist regimes, in justice for its victims. But, no, he and they chose to collaborate with the likes of Milorad Pupovac who stems from and is aligned with those Croatian Serbs that formed a part of the Serbian aggression forces against Croatia in 1990’s.

No justice for victims of communist regime crimes yet! The fight for it must continue for the sake of a better future. Our future rests on our past and that past must be dealt with in all its depravity when depravity defined it, and for Croatia it is so defined through depravity of the communist mindset. Ina Vukic

Croatia – A Case Of Crumbling Self-Determination Under Communist Pressure

Top: retired general Zeljko Glasnovic during former mandate in Croatian Parliament
Bottom from Left: Furio Radin (Italian minority), Milorad Pupovac (Serb minority), Andrej Plenkovic and Goran Jandrokovic (HDZ party),
Gordan Maras, Nenad Stazic,Arsen Bauk, Davor Bernardic (SDP)

 

It took a willing fight of only one exceptional Homeland War veteran (retired General Zeljko Glasnovic) for the main parties of Croatia to show their intolerance towards independent Croatia!

Trebala je spremna borba samo jednog izuzetnog branitelja Domovinskog rata (generala Željka Glasnovića) da glavne stranke Hrvatske pokažu svoju netrpeljivost prema neovisnoj Hrvatskoj!

The Perils Of Enemy Of The People Climbing Into Croatia’s New Government

 

While getting relatively most seats as single party, Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ did not get enough votes in recent General Elections in Croatia on 5th July 2020 to form a majority government. It will need coalition with other parties.

Touting on Croatia’s streets and media that the composition of the new government could include a former rebel Serb whose immediate family, if not he himself, participated in ethnic cleansing and murder of Croats during the Homeland War, is generating increasing bitterness and despair among people such as the one were Israel of today to appoint a high-ranking WWII Nazi official as one of its deputy Prime Ministers. Certainly, any Croatian Prime Minister’s plan for the appointment of Milorad Pupovac as one of the deputy Prime Ministers would push a large number of Croatians to the brink of despair and there is no telling which way that would evolve if Andrej Plenkovic embarks on that path in the composition of his new government. Would it set off a higher than the usual high number of people leaving Croatia, or would it trigger massive unrests? Milorad Pupovac has stated publicly a couple of days ago that candidature for a high position (such as deputy Prime Minister) in Croatia’s government would be discussed in his Serbian party room early next week; indications are that it could also be his condition for forming part of the coalition of the new HDZ minority government.

Milorad Pupovac has been re-elected into the parliament by his Serbian minority under the Croatian electoral laws that permit an ethnic minority representative win seats with barely a couple of hundred votes! There are 8 seats in the Croatian Parliament reserved for ethnic minorities! It’s no secret that Pupovac’s seat in the parliament has always been the subject of condemnation and strong opposition with the Croatian population. Essentially because he works against Croatian people and the truth.

Indeed, it is no secret that the leader of the Serb minority community in Croatia went to his village of Ceranje Donje near Benkovac during the 1990’s war of Serb aggression against Croatia and during Serb occupation of Croatian territory, which the Chetniks (Serbs) kept under control after ethnically cleansing all Croatians and other non-Serbs from that region of Croatia. Pupovac’s brother Vojislav was a member of the murderous Serbian paramilitary forces in Croatia, and his other brother Mladen wasn’t far behind. There have also been testimonies and conclusions in the Croatian media over time that Milorad joined his brothers and rebel Serbs in Croatia in the armed aggression against Croatian people.

Justifiably, serious concerns and disapproval by people regarding any possibility of appointing of Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister is a warning of sorts that increased conflicts about the values and goals set in the Homeland War are likely to erupt even more in the not so distant future.  It is almost unfathomable why a government that is supposed to serve the values cemented in the foundations od the state’s very existence would actually take the road of purposeful insult against its own people. Yes, appointing Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister

  • would be a deliberate and ultimate insult against Croatian people who fought off the Serb aggressor in the 1990’s;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the thousands killed during the war;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against hundreds of thousands of Croats ethnically cleansed from their homes and sent on a road of torture, rape and murder;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the enormous material damage done to Croatia by the Serbian aggressor;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against independence Croatians paid for with life and blood;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against facts of history of Croatian suffering;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against common sense and human decency and dignity;
  • it would be a deliberate insult against the human right of self-preservation;
  • it would be a deliberate insult to me personally and, I am certain, to millions of others.

And, at the end of the day if, by any chance, an excuse for such deputy-primeminstership appointment is claimed within the bounds of reconciliation then that excuse would be nothing short of a lie! One cannot achieve reconciliation by inflicting pain upon subjects of such reconciliation. Offenders against Croatia’s independence and its people and their representatives must be brought to suffer for their wrongdoing and not rewarded! How can Croatia ever even hope to achieve the sought result of Serbia and Serbs paying compensation for war damages to Croatia and its people if its government places a representative of those who perpetrated the damage almost at the helm of its government!?

Reconciliation requires that facts must be faced, nor avoided. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is and has been avoiding the facts of Serb aggression against Croatia in 1990’s in many instances. The fundamental truth of the stories of those in Croatia who were murdered, who were raped, who were tortured and placed into torture camps, who were ethnically cleansed and banished from their homes and their pain, cannot be denied.

Reconciliation requires accessibility to records and all state archives. This is not done in Croatia. Reconciliation requires culturally appropriate healing, and this is not being done in Croatia. Reconciliation requires placing the victim of aggression at the forefront of politics and human rights, and this is not being done in Croatia. Indeed, if Croatia’s new government appoints Milorad Pupovac as deputy Prime Minister it would make yet another abominable step in trying to water down the brutal aggression against Croatian people and deny the victims the human right to justice.

Ultimately, reconciliation is about bringing in justice and there is no justice in appointing and active anti-Croat such as Pupovac as a member of executive government of Croatia.

Among the communist left, there is a common tendency to see fascism within every manifestation of nationalism or patriotism. Indeed, the very Milorad Pupovac has constantly labelled all patriotic Croatians as fascists or Ustashe! The fact that he himself stood behind and is aligned with Serb Chetniks does not seem to bat an eyelid of the present Croatian government nor any government reeled in since Dr Franjo Tudjman’s death in late 1999. In right-wing circles, in contrast, “fascism” is a curse that is to be evaded, a kind of persistent suspicion that must be rebuffed – as exemplified by their much-portrayed image and desire for a full democracy, for lustration, and national identity that would stand by its people through thick and thin.

Croatia’s, the nation’s, values are being eroded by former communists, by universal liberal tenets and by “foreign” influences, including those within the European Union. The British fought for retention of national values by voting for Brexit; I hope that Croatians will have the strength and determination to fight off this prostitution of national values as is entertained by some with the very notion that Pupovac could have a role in the executive government.

It’s very possible that the constant sense of crisis in which the Croatian political consciousness has been immersed for two decades, hinders the creation of a feeling of a single, sharp and acute crisis that would spur or incite the masses into action for needed change. The ongoing state of emergency in economic downfall, in the continual degradation of Homeland War veterans who brought independence, the ongoing belittling of Homeland War values, the ongoing corruption and nepotism and clientelism akin to former communist Yugoslavia, the ongoing denial of basic rights such as voting to the massive diaspora … dulls the sting of urgency:

When “bombs” slam regularly into parts of the country’s existence, they too become routine, albeit a lethal routine.

In parallel, Croatia’s political and legal institutions have also undergone further erosion as former communists continue holding key positions. If bringing a rebel Serb, such as Milorad Pupovac, around the table of executive government doesn’t bring the sting of urgency to save the Croatian people from the pit of hand-to-mouth existence – nothing will! The reality is that for most Croatians in Croatia there is hardly enough food or money to live on, hence tens of thousands leave the country each year. The government is about to blame Covid-19, coronavirus, for all the country’s perils; why else would it appoint dr Vili Beros, the leading personality in the build-up of public coronavirus panic since February this year, who was relatively unknown before that, as new Health Minister!

We can argue all we want about the appropriate role of government in the economy, but the outcome will be determined in the political sphere, not the intellectual one. And the political reality in Croatia is that while some voters (at 2020 general elections only about 17.5% of voters voted HDZ in as leading party to form new government) appreciate what governments do for them, they generally feel that public policies are beholden to powerful special interests. And they are not wrong – concentrated interests are powerful and do dominate much policymaking. Those concentrated interest groups in Croatia revolve around former communists; those who help corruption and theft, clientelism, thrive! And now, if Milorad Pupovac enters as deputy Prime Minister, added to that we can, regretfully, be certain that these interest groups are not only about holding on tight to communist mindset but also about degrading and terminally running into the ground those groups who fought for, suffered for, sacrificed for the independence of Croatia from communist Yugoslavia.

To top the insult against the Croatian people, the very people Pupovac and his Serbs attacked viciously in 1990 with the aim of wiping them off their very own lands, said a couple of days for the Croatian media that “he wants to be an equal partner in the Croatian government”! The audacity and disrespect of that man is repugnant! He or any other enemy cannot be equal partner in the government that arose from bloodied ashes of Serb aggression against Croatia. Croatian people were not aggressors they were victims of Serb aggression! Ina Vukic

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