Victims Of Communism On Island Of Korcula Croatia

Victims of Communism on Korcula Croatia

If you’re not with us then you are against us, and, therefore, you must be liquidated – that was the motto Yugoslav communist Partisans lived by during and after WWII.

I did not even dare write about all the horrendous torment victims of Partisans on Korcula endured – Partisans in the village of Zrnovo were particularly cruel,” reports the Croatian Cultural Council (Hrvatsko Kulturno Vijece) portal as Franko Burmas having said.

The launching in Zagreb on Friday 29 January 2016 of Franko Burmas’ new book “Victims of communism on Korcula – searching for truth“, published by the Croatian Victimology Society and Biblioteca Documenta Croatica, brought back with live disquiet the horror stories I remember hearing throughout my childhood. The imagery of merciless brutality created by those stories in which hundreds upon hundreds of individuals from the relatively sparsely populated island who did not subscribe to Josip Broz Tito’s communist plans perished – murdered or thrown into pits alive – hit me with deep distress.

Franko Burmas (left) Zvonimir Separovic (right) Zagreb, Croatia 29 January 2016 Photo credit:

Franko Burmas (left)
Zvonimir Separovic (right)
Zagreb, Croatia 29 January 2016
Photo credit: reports that Zvonimir Separovic, president of Croatian Victimology Society, Rade Kastorpil, president of Croatian matica in Blato/Korcula and the author himself, Franko Burmas, spoke extensively about the book, which serves as a testament of evidence of the brutality of Communist crimes on the Island of Korcula. It was just as well that an entertainment segment was included with this launch – thus making the revelation of this ugly truth of WWII and Post-WWII Island of Korcula bearable. The doyenne of the Croatian National Opera, Dubravka Separovic Musovic, accompanied by Eva Kirchmayer-Bilic on the piano offered a most welcome moment at this launch of evidence of crimes no person should ever be faced with, let alone endure.

But sadly, the world still lags far behind in condemning communist crimes than where it is and has been for decades with view to the crimes of the Holocaust. It is books like this one written by Franko Burmas that hold a candle for a brighter future where all crimes regardless of which political persuasion they hide behind are equally condemned and equally smothered with outrage and unforgiving wrath.

Victims of communism on Korcula – searching for truth” by Franko Burmas is a witness to communist Partisan crimes committed during and after WWII on the Island of Korcula. Numerous pits in the ground and locations where executions of innocent people occurred – e.g. Vranina, Sibal’s feet, Paklenica, Butina, St Luke’s cemetery in Town of Korcula, St Cross cemetery in Blato on Korcula … all give witness to the “hatred and killing, trampling upon freedom, to the terrifying and unbelievable crimes, to the times when people did not know what awaits them tomorrow, where they are going, what to do,” says Franko Oreb in his Foreword to the book.

Section inside Butina Pit, post-WWII communist crimes mass grave on Island of Korcula - Butina Pit mass grave Photo taken October 2012

Section inside Butina Pit,
post-WWII communist crimes mass grave
on Island of Korcula –
Butina Pit mass grave
Photo taken October 2012

Franko Oreb says further in his Foreword that the truth of which this book speaks is horrific and painful and that it constitutes evidence of the terrible crimes committed by the communist regime in which people were swiftly punished, imprisoned, abused and murdered guided only by their suspicions, without bothering to provide for court trials or proof of guilt. It happened often that their death was not revealed and so even the official government office “Register of Deaths” did not include their names.

Oreb says that the book reveals a perfidious and a repressive face of government authorities connected to well-organised network of political and Party structures with the goal of keeping that regime alive and their status within it. The regime of those times successfully hid its crimes for a very long time causing a public veil of silence to cover them so that much dust and forgetting fell over the victims.

Old town Korcula, Croatia

Old town Korcula, Croatia

The book itself is also a kind of Korcula’s martyrdom record in which the names of the victims of WWII and Post-WWII period Korcula are written and recorded. It’s a record of 85 grim and ghastly  murders, some persons among them were from Dubrovnik brought to Korcula by Partisans as prisoners and liquidated there. Franko Burmas is a university trained and graduated lawyer with many years of experience and collection of data, including interviews with some people directly associated with the events, which have formed the foundations and factual body of his book. There were priests and intellectuals among the mass murder victims against whom the communist regime operators directed terrible lies and defamation saying they were enemies of the nation. And yet, all they did in life was dedicate their lives to the service of their people, to defending the faith, morality and the national sanctities. A list of more than several hundred of liquidated victims, thrown into pits, needs to be added to the ones named in the book as communist left no trace of names or the number of people they threw into pits such as Butina.

Blato, Island of Korcula, Croatia August 16 2012 funeral for earthly remains of communist crimes victims 1943 (including brother of dr Zvonimir Separovic) Photo: Ika/HRSvijet

Blato, Island of Korcula, Croatia
August 16 2012
funeral for earthly remains
of communist crimes victims 1943
(including brother of dr Zvonimir Separovic)
Photo: Ika/HRSvijet

Alena Fazinic asserted: “searching for the truth brought the books author to conclude that liquidations were really an ingrained part of the communists managers’ system (who later to become authority holders – from those at the country’s top to those in the small communities such as Korcula) – if you are not with us you are against us, our enemy, and, therefore, you must be liquidated.”

That is how the communists of Yugoslavia kept people in fear and that means obedience and submission.

Franko Burmas’ book also points to the fact that after WWII the communist practice continued: through fear, persecution, imprisonment, torture, even by murder stop every attempt at freedom of thought and living. Burmas has documented his book well, with many photographs and documents and is to be congratulated for joining those heroes of today who have no fear in speaking out about the crimes of former Yugoslav communists. Now, all Croatia truly needs is a proper and just condemnation of these crimes and lustration from its important social points and public and justice administration all those who are or were associated with the operatives of communist Yugoslavia. Croatia needs names not just a reference to the system and the more names of those criminals brought out into the public the better for the murderous system did not exist on its own – individual people kept it going. And the most awful truth of this trail of horrid communist crimes is that “Korcula” from this book was replicated multitudes of thousands of time throughout Croatia of the former Yugoslavia, but also the other states there. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Zgb)

1,700 mass graves: 90% victims of Communist crimes

Blato, Island of Korcula, Croatia August 16 2012 funeral for earthly remains of communist crimes victims 1943 Photo: Ika/HRSvijet

In Blato, on the Island of Korcula, in Croatia, a mournful, dignified event interred August 16 the earthly remains of three men who were thrown into the Paklenica pit  (Hell pit) on the feast of St Rocco, 16 August 1943, as victims of the communist totalitarian regime.

This event serves as stark, distressful reminder of horrendous crimes committed but as yet never brought to justice. The event touches deeply the survivors, the descendants of hundreds of thousands people (men women and children) whose life was brutally and murderously brought to an end during and after WWII in Croatia, by communist Partisans.

On Thursday August 16 2012 Mate Uzinic, the Bishop of Dubrovnik, led the Mass and rites for the remains of Petar Sardelic Fire, Mirko Sardelic Fire and Dusan Separovic Burcina. Bishop Uzinic said that the funeral takes us 69 years back “to the feast of St Rocco, when these men, as many others after them, as part of communist purges that ensued, were murdered at the pit of Paklenica without any court proceedings”.

Prayers for their souls and peace in the Lord is all we can do for them,” Bishop Uzinic said, adding: “Let this what we have done for them, and they are only a drop in the ocean, be the incentive for us not to abandon the intent that every victim receives his or her name, regardless of whether we deal with racist or class or national enemies, because that’s of least importance to victims, and if an exhumation and funeral like this one are not possible, then at least a decent marking of the gravesite as sign and as remembrance. Only this way will we stop creating myths and live in myths which are perpetually a potential danger for history to repeat itself in its worst shape.”

Regarding the criminals who perpetrated those crimes Bishop Uzinic emphasized that all this is done for them too. Not to judge or convict them as this is impossible today in most cases, even useless, but to encourage them to look the truth into its eyes and head onto the road of conversion for their own and for the sake of eternal salvation. But, Bishop Uzinic concluded, there’s a systematic desire to minimise, cover up, the victims and the crimes that occurred and this is best evidenced by the fact that in contemporary Croatia cases where exhumation, identification and burial of remains of victims, such as in this case in Blato, are very rare.

Furthermore, when it comes to victims of the communist era, there’s a conspiracy of silence and events such as the one in Blato August 16 2012 are so very important.

The earthly remains of brothers Petar and Mirko Sardelic Fire and Dusan Separovic Burcina were exhumed from the Paklenica pit in late 2011, after repeated demands from family members who wanted to give them a dignified farewell and burial.

The families of the victims expressed deep gratitude to the Mountaineer-Speleological Sociaty “Spivnik” and to Vlado Separovic Markota who searched the 40 metre deep Paklenica Pit, to Fra Jozo Baresic who was the first to pray at and bless the Cross over Paklenica Pit, to Tomislav Karamarko, the former minister for internal affairs of the Republic of Croatia (currently the president of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and leader of the largest political party in opposition), for appointing a special police unit to exhume the remains, to court experts dr Igor Boric and prof. dr. sc. Davorka Sutlovic who identified the earthly remains. Such gratitude was expressed in the joint press release of families of Slavenka Byok, Mara Burmas, Mirko Cetinic and dr. Zvonimir Separovic (Croatia’s former foreign minister 1991/1992, Croatia’s former minister of justice 1999/2000, Croatia’s Permanent Representative to the UN 1992, the Rector of University of Zagreb 1989/1991, also known as pioneer of Victimology for many years [and current] at the helm of the Croatian Society of Victimology).

Paklenica pit near Blato, Island of Korcula, Croatia Photo:

There are over 850 mass graves of victims of communist crimes discovered across Croatia and Paklenica Pit near Blato, Island of Korcula is among them. In his new book (June 2012) “Hidden scaffolds and gravesites of the Yugoslav communist crimes” (Prikrivena stratišta i grobišta jugoslavenskih komunističkih zločina) prof. Josip Jurcevic records the evidence of more than 1,700 mass graves across former Yugoslavia: Slovenia nearly 600, Croatia 850, Bosnia and Herzegovina 90 and Serbia about 190.

Prof. Jurcevic emphasises that about 89% of crimes associated with these mass graves were perpetrated by communist authorities, 8% still unconfirmed, while the remaining 3-4% crimes associated with these mass graves were perpetrated by Chetniks (Serbs), the authorities of the WWII Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Germans and Italians.

That which in this story terrifies is the fact that out of 850 mass graves in Croatia only 24 have been, either partially or fully, investigated and that was – prior to year 2000; prior to die-hard antifascist/communist Stjepan Mesic became Croatia’s president. Prof. Jurcevic says that after that date all work on mass graves had been terminated.

Until more is done for the victims of these crimes, until today’s so-called antifascists cower in remorse and contribute to justice for all, the humane face of humanity will – sadly – continue receiving its desperately needed sustenance from dedicated, self-sacrificing individuals such a those as are in the families that buried the remains of three communist crimes’ victims in Blato during the past week. Let’s pray that courage to persevere with justice for victims of communist crimes spreads far and wide. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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