Croatia: The End of Anti-Fascism

European Parliament

A European Parliament resolution has 19 September 2019 condemned Communism as equivalent to Nazism. To my view equating communism with Nazism is not enough; communism or its fantasy name of anti-fascism surpasses in the bulk of its crimes any other regime known to humanity. The moral superiority Anti-Fascists of Croatia (of Yugoslavia and all other former communist European states) have pinned to themselves undisturbed by the facts of history that sink such moral superiority to the depths of despair is set to fall and be banished. Remembering and acting upon the real past will ensure that.

“Remembering the victims of totalitarian regimes and recognising and raising awareness of the shared European legacy of crimes committed by communist, Nazi and other dictatorships is of vital importance for the unity of Europe and its people and for building European resilience to modern external threats,” is a strong point as to how the Resolution emphasises the importance of Europe’s historical memory for its future needs.

The parliament demands development of a “common culture of remembrance that rejects the crimes of fascist, Stalinist, and other totalitarian and authoritarian regimes of the past as a way of fostering resilience against modern threats to democracy, particularly among the younger generation.”

Some will undoubtedly say that legislating to establish an ‘official’ view of history, such as EU Parliament on 19 September 2019 with its resolution on “the importance of remembrance for the future of Europe” is not a good idea. However, when looking from the victims’ point of view this resolution has all the hallmarks of setting justice right for all. We are only too aware that history of Communist crimes during and post-WWII has enjoyed blanket coverups and unjustifiable justification while crimes committed by the Nazi regime were kept in European history as the only crimes that have been committed en masse against humanity.

In the mid‐2000s many believed that the Holocaust could become a common memory for Europe. This was opposed by many also, mostly Central and East European conservatives in former communist countries, politicians and intellectuals on the grounds that an exclusive emphasis on the Holocaust would not do justice to the victims of other totalitarian regimes (particularly the communist regimes). While very few of them questioned the uniqueness of the Holocaust openly by declaring Nazism and communism ‘equally criminal’ (Sandra Kalniete, quoted in Troebst s. [2010], ‘Halecki Revisited’; p. 60. Pakier, M. and Strath, B. [eds] A European Memory? New York:Berghahn Books), they did argue that paying too much attention to the victims of the Holocaust came at the expense of the victims of other totalitarian regimes, so the latter are effectively treated as second‐class victims. This communist crimes agenda was and is opposed mostly by the European (including Croatia) left whose proponents believe that it illegitimately relativises the Holocaust and falsifies history by equating communist regimes with Nazism. The main elements of the anti‐communist rhetorical repertoire had been developed before the European memory debate. In the 1990s many conservative politicians in post‐communist countries built their political profile on an uncompromising anti‐communist stance and on the objective of raising awareness about the crimes of communist regimes and their victims.

There was no other way to give justice for the forgotten and downtrodden victims of communist crimes. So, good for these politicians I say. One could go further and say that the former communist countries in Europe fought against communism in order to bring justice to all victims, regardless of which regime brought them about.

The European parliament’s resolution on ‘the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’ is to replace previous political statements on human rights in relation to that conflict. The motion for the EUP Resolution was conceived as a spirited statement against all forms of political extremism. The text reaffirms “the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law” while calling on all EU institutions “to do their utmost to ensure that horrific totalitarian crimes against humanity are remembered” and “guarantee that such crimes will never be repeated.”

Given that resolutions confirming commitments to the condemnation of totalitarian regimes, like the 2009 one that saw  the establishment of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism each 23 August, which has been in place for over a decade, one may well ask what does this new resolution really add to the continent’s political ingredients? For all its admirable sentiment, this latest resolution gives a firm footing to making history right even though there are those who will say that a deeply problematic form of historical revisionism lurks beneath the surface. If, however, one considers historical revisionism as a necessary process to reflect true facts not myths (the European history, Croatian history of the 20th century is riddled with myths and fabrication driven by the communists) then the only opponents to this EU resolution will be former communists and their allies. No doubt about it – they still want to hide behind their false mask of bringing freedom to the people.

It’s time the Croatian Constitution removes from its Historical Foundations any reference to anti-fascist contribution to the independence of Croatia! It had none! Anti-Fascists always fought for Yugoslavia! And a communist one at that!

“European integration has, from the start, been a response to the suffering inflicted by two world wars and by the Nazi tyranny that led to the Holocaust, and to the expansion of totalitarian and undemocratic communist regimes”, reads the text of the Resolution.

The resolution in its article M.3 is undeniably correct in its assertion that “Nazi and communist regimes carried out mass murders, genocide and deportations and caused a loss of life and freedom in the 20th century on a scale unseen in human history”. Treating the two as equal would not be my choice of approach, nor a reflection of factual history. That is, If the world measures the severity of crimes against humanity by the number of victims then Communist regimes murdered many millions more than the Nazi regime did and in that sense its place in condemnation needs to be lifted above the crimes of Nazi regime. And, I do not say this in defence of the Nazi regime – I say this in defence of victims of both the Nazi and communist regimes. Croatia alone is filled with mass graves of communist crimes, almost 2000 discovered so far! And when you look at the population living there during and after WWII these figures take on an unfathomably horrific proportion!

The EU Resolution “Expresses its deep respect for each victim of these totalitarian regimes and calls on all EU institutions and actors to do their utmost to ensure that horrific totalitarian crimes against humanity and systemic gross human rights violations are remembered and brought before courts of law, and to guarantee that such crimes will never be repeated; stresses the importance of keeping the memories of the past alive, because there can be no reconciliation without remembrance, and reiterates its united stand against all totalitarian rule from whatever ideological background.”

This article of the resolution is hopefully bound to embolden Croatian politicians and activists to make the necessary steps, pass laws and the like in order to finally usher in Lustration (decommunisation) – rid all corridors of power of former communist operatives and those publicly known to promote the Yugoslav communist regime that once was. Some will say there are no communists in Croatia but have no doubt: communist culture, communist mindset, communist nostalgia – exist! And this is what is holding Croatia back from progressing into a fully democratic, customer, taxpayer needs oriented nation.

Hence, practical policy and legislation in Croatia (as in the whole of Europe and beyond) are still hindered by the different treatment of the past. People across the world and particularly in the West still know very little about how much of Central Europe (Croatia included) and most of Eastern Europe fell under a different dictatorship after Hitler’s occupation was defeated that was no better. It has disrupted practical cooperation and remains a very serious obstacle on the road to more effective and closer cooperation in the EU. The resolution includes a proposal to add talking about the crimes of totalitarian regimes to the programs of all EU schools.

Here is hoping, and indeed a platform for the positive and superior portrayal of Croatia’s communists and partisans in school textbooks to be removed swiftly.

The matter of a European memory is far from being a merely symbolic issue with no political consequences. Imagining Europe and its past in different ways will lead to different and real political outcomes. What is at stake in answering these questions from the past is nothing less than the future direction of the EU, and closer to home – of Croatia. As visions for the future of the organisation are intimately connected to historical accounts of the continent’s past, determining the common European approach to the past is a highly influential decision for the EU’s future.

Banning the symbols of Nazism but not those of communism leads to unjustifiable double standards and feeds those double standards. Croatia surely knows that but the overwhelming power held by former communists or sympathisers of former communist Yugoslavia still chooses to ignore that.

There is one particularly noteworthy genre of writing among the many that developed in the 20th century in Europe. After World War II communism enslaved the people of much of Central Europe and most of East Europe. But the tragedy does not end there – communist regimes erased their true story from the overall history of the Continent. Europe had just rid itself of the plague of Nazism. It was quite understandable that after the bloodbath of the war, few people had the strength or resolve to face the bitter truth. They could not deal with the fact that behind the communist regimes, communists continued to commit genocide against the peoples of these countries.

Dr Esther Gitman and her book:
“Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights”

For 50 years the history in Croatia (as in all former communist countries) was written without the participation of these victims of genocide. Not surprisingly, the victors of World War II have written a history that separates the good from the bad and the right from the wrong from their perspective. Not from the perspective of the truth! It is only since the collapse of the Berlin Wall that researchers have been able to access archived documents and the life stories of the victims. It is only after Croatia won its Homeland War in 1995 (1998 with peaceful reintegration of Serb and Yugoslav Army aggressor occupied areas) (the war for secession from communist Yugoslavia) that Croatia was able to research its own truth. These confirm the truth that the two totalitarian regimes – Nazism and Communism – were equally criminal, albeit communist crimes far surpass those of the crimes ascribed to the so-called Ustashe regime of the NDH/WWII Independent State of Croatia. Indeed, research such as Dr Esther Gitman’s (a Holocaust survivor herself) into the rescue and survival of Jews during NDH verifiably demonstrates that good deeds and good was widespread among Croats (non-communists) during those horrific times of war in Croatia.

We must never see the two ideologies as holding different positions on the scale of good and bad just because one of them was victorious over the other. That battle against Fascism cannot be seen as something, which for ever exonerates the sins of the communist regime that oppressed countless innocents in the name of communist ideology. I am firmly convinced that it is the duty of our generation to reverse this mistake. The losers in World War II must also write their story, because it deserves a firm place in the overall history of Europe and the world. Without this, the broader history will remain unilateral, incomplete and dishonest – and utterly unfair to the victims of communist crimes.

General Zeljko Glasnovic
Independent Member of Croatian Parliament
for Croats living abroad

The Croatians living outside of Croatia, the millions that fled the communist regime know this fact only too well. It is, therefore, a welcome move which the European Parliament made on 19 September. Perhaps, the strongest (but almost lone) voice in the Croatian Parliament – that of the independent member for Croatians in the diaspora and Bosnia and Herzegovina – retired General Zeljko Glasnovic, who has been a persistent and loud advocator for justice for victims of communist crimes and decommunisation of Croatia (and often laughed at within the parliament by the majority parliamentary members who draw their roots from the former communist pool because of the decommunisation platform content of his speeches) will now get to pursue his agenda surrounded by the silence of shame (or even fear from own guilt) on the faces of former communists and their staunch followers sitting there! Ina Vukic


Croatia: Glorification of Communist Crimes as anti-Fascist Achievement

Bleiburg: 68th anniversary of communist massacres  Photo: Tomislav Miletic.Pixsell

Bleiburg: 68th anniversary of communist massacres
Photo: Tomislav Miletic/Pixsell

Even if, after thoroughly studying the victims of the Holocaust (some 11 million, 6 million of which were Jews) and the victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes (some 100 million), one concludes that the Nazis and their collaborators were worse criminals than the Communists, that still does not justify the massive size and inhumanity of the difference between the enormous attention paid to the crimes of the former and the appalling neglect of the latter.

During the weekend that has just passed Croatia has been confronted with the utterly ugly face of government and politically ideological discrimination against victims of horrible communist crimes. The feeling one could pick-up on the streets is that Croatia is at volatile crossroads where there seem to be only two possible outcomes: an oppressive and socially insensitive political system (akin the one that was under communist Yugoslavia) will entrench itself further into the corridors of power – and therefore society, or that those who hold the rights of all victims above all else (including political scoring) will rebel ferociously against the government that evidently has little if any empathy with Croatian suffering; be it suffering from WWII pro-Nazi collaborators or suffering from Communists and their collaborators.

Croatia’s Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, said on Saturday 11 May that he was not going to attend any of the two commemorations – one marking the 68th Anniversary of victims of WWII and post-WWII Bleiburg massacres by Croatian/Yugoslav communist Partisans, and the other marking Jasenovac camp extermination by pro-Nazi Croatian Ustashe forces) because “the competition between the two spreads intolerance…

For the Croatian Prime Minister, therefore, paying respects to the victims of WWII is an act of intolerance … spreading hatred (?)!

Absolutely unforgivable!

A commemoration marking the 68th anniversary of the mass murders of soldiers of the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and civilians by communist Partisans was held at Bleiburg field in Austria on Saturday 11 May. Some 10,000 people from all over the world gathered and remembered. Croatian government sent no one; Croatian President Ivo Josipovic did not attend nor did he send representatives. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ),main party in opposition, representative, Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect Tomislav Tolusic of said that “the ideological descendants of the criminals who committed these crimes in the aftermath of World War II are today still trying to rewrite history“.

Ideological scions of those same criminals responsible for Bleiburg and the death marches are again trying to conceal their crimes, downplay them, and push them into oblivion as well as to smear the victims. The members of that same batch do the same not only with Bleiburg but also with the Homeland Defence War,” Tolusic said.

Jasenovac: 68th anniversary of breakout of inmates of concentration camp  Photo: Nikola Culuk/Pixsell

Jasenovac: 68th anniversary of breakout of inmates of
concentration camp Photo: Nikola Culuk/Pixsell

On Sunday 12 May in Jasenovac, a commemoration was held to mark the 68th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac concentration camp, which had been run by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime from 1941 to 1945. The commemoration called for permanent remembrance of the victims so that similar crimes would never again recur.

Croatia’s President Ivo Jospipovic attended the Jasenovac commemoration. During his speech President Josipovic called for thwarting any attempt to revive the ideology of the Holocaust and ideologies directed against other people only because they are of different ethnic or religious background.

We must not forget the experiences from Jasenovac, the Holocaust and the Ustasha ideology (of the 1941-1945 pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia, NDH) and we must not forget that the members of the Croatian people participated in them”, Josipovic said, recalling that according to the statistics of the camp, 83,301 victims were killed in the camp complex in Jasenovac, and the victims were Serbs, Jews, Roma, Bosniaks as well as Croats whom the then regime deemed to be enemies to the Ustasha ideology.

President Josipovic also said that the Croatians “can be proud of their anti-Fascist movement the victory over Nazism and of those of them who stood against crimes“. That victory (in WW II) and our victory in the (1991-1995) Homeland Defence War are the foundations of the present-day Croatian state that is about to join the European Union as a full member, Josipovic emphasised.

Well, if the truth was like Josipovic said then that truth is only half-baked.  The truth is that the anti-Fascist WWII victory came with even worse crimes committed by them than what Ustashe/pro-Nazi crimes stand for.

The truth is that anti-Fascists hide their ugly crimes by emphasizing the crimes of Ustashe.

The truth is that anti-Fascists glorify the horrid of atrocities committed by them during and after WWII!

Who wants to be proud of such a history where one criminal blames the other, and victims of one receive no justice while the victims of the other get it all?

And all fail to speak of the multitudes of Croats who wanted nothing to do with one criminal or the other!

Indeed there is competition between the two, as Prime Minister said, and its competitors are former communists (including the Prime Minister), their descendants, and today’s anti-Fascists in Croatia. The competition is all about forcing and preserving a notion of some righteousness of WWII and post-WWII communists. Well, when it comes to victims of cold-blooded murder of those who did not agree with the communists – there is no righteousness, no excuses, and no justification.

It’s a well-known fact that Communist crimes and atrocities have not received their full due anywhere in the world, so too not in Croatia. As well as in the rest of the world, in Croatia (former Yugoslavia), victims of communism outnumber even those of the Nazis (of Ustashe in Croatia). Part of the reason is that the communists, unlike the Nazis, were, due to strong post WWII political lobby and perpetually publicised Nuremberg Nazi trials, perceived as having noble motives. And, the Croatian government and the President still promote that terrible notion and battle hard to sustain such an increasingly unsustainable perception and reality.

Thankfully, the world has grown up, matured – turning in disgust and revolt against any attempts to justify murder for political gain. And communists murdered multitudes that stood against communism.
For Croatia, 1945 marked the imposition of Communist rule and return to Yugoslavia. Shielded by their fight against Nazi Germany, Communists used WWII to get rid of domestic political competition as well. Tens of thousands fell victim to Communist crimes after WWII. After liberating Croatia from Nazis and establishing the new state of Yugoslavia, Communists went after the anti-Communist Croatian army units who had retreated to Austria (Bleiburg) and surrendered to British troops. Britain, however, turned 340.000 soldiers and civilian refugees over to Yugoslav authorities who, according to different estimates, murdered up to 200,000 of them. Terror continued after Communists had secured power and by 1953, some 116,000 people had been repressed, including 26,947 killed. Although the terror later subdued, Croatia had tens of thousands political prisoners during 1948–88.
To this date over 850 mass graves of victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes have been discovered in Croatia alone; the search for new ones still continues.
Many hundreds of thousands (if we take the second and third generations into account) of Croatian victims of communism are still alive today and many of them are strewn all over the world. They include those that survived Bleiburg and the Croatian Way of the Cross that followed after WWII – those hunted down by anti-Fascists or communists after being forced to return to Yugoslavia … and their descendants, many thousands of dissidents subjected to political oppression, several hundreds of thousands murdered after WWII or thrown alive into pits, hundreds of thousands who had no choice but to emigrate from communist Yugoslavia because not being pro-Communism also meant unsustainable existence…dozens upon dozens assassinated abroad by Yugoslav Secret Police UDBA… and all their descendants who, as human beings, deserve recognition of their suffering and justice; the perpetrators must be held responsible whether dead or alive.

People may say that the perpetrators are mostly dead by now. Yes that is the case, but there is also the concept and the possibility to deal with criminals posthumously.

The political leadership, which places political interests above human rights, above justice for all the victims, simply cannot be allowed to thrive. Croatian government and the President of Croatia have demonstrated that they cannot lead the Croatian nation into a fully democratic society because their anti-Fascist political baggage interferes severely with humanity; discriminates between victims according to which political alignment the perpetrators belonged.

It is only natural that victims of communist crimes must have and deserve justice and if the current governing lot in Croatia is to continue in such wicked ways, denying this justice, then not only won’t all the victims receive justice, but there will be no natural justice (a pinnacle of democracy) in Croatia; unless, of course, the victims and victims’ descendants revolt and achieve that justice.

And I, a recipient of Two medals of honour for my contribution to the Croatian Homeland War victory (and I believe neither Zoran Milanovic nor Ivo Josipovic have one; both stood at sidelines guarding the communist league), personally stand here and testify:

Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic is telling a scandalous lie when he says that anti-Fascist movement stands behind the victory of Croatian Homeland War! What about the majority that fought to defend and create the independent Croatia who had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What about the Croatian diaspora that overwhelmingly fought and helped create the independent Croatia, that had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What stood behind the victory in 1990’s Homeland War was an unconditional love for Croatia, an absolute will and determination to abandon communism (anti-Fascism), to develop democracy (which, by the way, was and is not a movement that belongs to anti-Fascism), to reconcile the past by bringing justice for all victims, including the victims of communist crimes, not just a continued acknowledgment and condemnation of Holocaust crimes.

Vast majority of these qualities were never, nor are they now, attributes of anti-Fascism.

My patience is running out; my bon ton is wearing thin, and the thought springs to mind: Zoran Milanovic and Ivo Josipovic stop regurgitating the anti-Fascist bullshit, stop insulting our intelligence and human compassion, and get on with the job of making Croatia a fair and a non-discriminatory society when it comes to victims! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)



Croatia: violent clashes involving Europe’s ultra-nationalists imminent

Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb, Croatia

As I sensed in my previous post, Croatia’s minister of interior affairs, Ranko Ostojic, has Thursday 12 April banned International nationalists’ conference and rally that were organised by Croatian Pure Party of Rights.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic confirmed the ban and stressed that the reasons for the ban had to do with one’s view of the world and political positions.

Those who in their platforms call for destruction of Croatia’s constitutional order and lay claims to parts of Croatia’s territory – and such people have been announced as participants (in the gatherings) – they can visit Croatia as tourists, but they cannot come here as political opponents,” Milanovic said.

Milanovic said that the government had a responsibility towards its citizens to oppose such ideologies.

Such things won’t be tolerated, not now and not ever,” he said.

Milanovic referred to the Hungarian ultra-right Jobbik party which has announced its arrival in Zagreb for the gathering and has publicly stated it wants to annex parts of Croatian territory to Hungary.

Such attitude could be believed if the situation was clear-cut. But it’s not.

To pour oil onto the already burning issue the Croatian Civilisation movement (Hrvatski uljudbeni pokret), right-wing political orientation, is attempting to playing a dangerous game it seems. It wants to hold a rally in Zagreb’s central Ban Jelacic Square around the same time when the banned rally was supposed to be held. It has received permission from the police to do so!

They’ve published Zagreb’s police permission, dated 11 April, to hold a gathering on Friday 13 April for “distribution of political material and expression of political views”.

While the international conference and rally organised by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights is banned, the rally being organised by the Croatian Civilisation movement is allowed!

Zagreb’s police reasons for denying the holding of the International nationalists conference and rally was that persons that engage in inciting violence were to attend (most likely meaning ultra-right parties and movements from other European countries), and Croatian law forbids such gatherings.

That’s understandable, but given that representatives from those European ultra-right wingers are going to be in Zagreb as planned, now merely as “tourists” as their events have been banned, there is every likelihood that they will be present at the rally organised by Croatian Civilisation Movement on Friday 13 April. Given that Citizens’ actions groups are geared up to hold their “Fascism – not in my city” rally the world can expect a rapid combustion of ugly proportions.

One frets that the world will not see these events in Croatia as free expressions of political views but rather as evidence, albeit warped, that fascism is still alive and kicking in Croatia.

Croatian government it seems has not thought this whole saga through, or perhaps they have? Perhaps the former communists want the ugly nationalistic scenes to occur in Croatia, to feed their rhetoric of antifascist righteousness?

And if the rally gets ugly and the Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, currently in the Appeals Chamber at the ICTY, are mentioned there, one can bet one’s last dollar that at least some of the world news headlines will not be kind to them even if they played no role in the rally nor have any control over it.

If Croatia’s Prime Minister Milanovic is truly serious about his statement that ultra-right gatherings will never be tolerated in Croatia then he has the responsibility to ban all gatherings where there is even a minute chance of violence occurring, ultra-right nationalists joining even as by-standers.

If he does not do that then he has failed to protect Croatia’s reputation as a country that upholds its laws that ban violence. There are oodles of signs that clashes are imminent between the ultra-right and leftists on Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb on the evening Friday 13 April, and it’s not as if Milanovic could say “I didn’t know”. If he does nothing to stop any of the announced rallies his actions can justifiably be described as reprehensible – through and through. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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