September 1976 Hijacking of TWA Plane – A Detailed Reconstruction of the Evening in Which the Whole World Learned About Croatia’s Suffering Under Communist Yugoslavia

From left to right: Zvonko Busic, Marko Vlasic, Petar Matanic, Frane Pesut and Julienne Busic after arrest at Paris Airport. There are detectives behind them. Photo: The New York Times, September 13, 1976. | Photo: New York Times/archive

Zvonko Busic believed that good things should be shared with everyone. What he lived, worked for and believed in, what he sacrificed for, is presented in his book “All Visible Things”, which is available on Amazon. From now on, we are happy to inform you, you will be able to have access to this part of Croatian history every other Wednesday and print it out free of charge, in Croatian and English, on the dijaspora.hr portal. Chapter by chapter, drop of blood by drop of blood, and life day by day in 33 parts – with only one goal! He will live on…

“The Hijacking

After the decision was made, I immediately began preparations. I started studying necessary materials, locating appropriate collaborators, and planned a meeting with Bruno to discuss the Declaration I intended to have printed in newspapers and thrown from the plane. The main handbook for making the bomb was the then popular ‘Anarchist’s Cookbook’. Julie was later accused of having torn pages out of this book in the library, which really upset and angered her, since she comes from a family of book lovers who would consider that an unforgivable sacrilege. She firmly insisted that all she did was photocopy the pages, not tear them out, although it was a totally insignificant point in the trial.

I studied airplanes as well. The plane, I believed, had to be appropriate for what I intended. The choice fell on the Boeing 727. The traditional characteristics one looks for in a plane – speed, size, type, and power of the motor – were not the most critical. What was important was that the plane had double doors, so that the first door could be opened from the inside of the plane, then closed, and then the second door opened, so that the well-known suction phenomenon could not occur, drawing everything and everyone out of the plane. This double-door element was used by the famous American robber and blackmailer, D. B. Cooper. After he got the money and released the passengers, he ordered the crew to take off and wait for further instructions. He also said nobody was allowed to leave the cabin without his permission, and he would kill the first one who dared. After they waited quite a while for instructions about where to fly, one of the stewardesses took a risk and entered the passenger seating area. But it was totally empty, although the doors and windows were firmly closed. It turns out Cooper had used the advantage of the double doors. He went into the middle door space, then closed the first door, opened the second and parachuted out. With the money! He was never caught.

I was not interested in money, but the double doors seemed ideal to me for throwing leaflets. That is why I chose the Boeing 727. I was fortunate enough to meet a stewardess who had been on that flight with D. B. Cooper. She told me in great detail how the entire action unfolded, never suspecting the source of my interest for Cooper and the Boeing 727. The first blow to my plan took place when I learned from the pilot, after I had taken control of our plane, that after the Cooper events, the doors were altered on that type of plane. Leaflets could no longer be thrown from the plane. What’s more, because of the possible danger that the leaflets could be sucked into the motor, they could not be thrown in any other way, either. So, we had to put a second plane in the air in Montreal. From there we then headed for Europe.

I did need a certain amount of money for the action I had planned. This was fairly simple; a close friend gave me 10,000 dollars without my having to explain any details about the action. He had complete trust in me, and I felt information should be given out sparingly even to the participants in the action. It was enough for them to know the basic plan; the details were known only to me. Julie knew the most, but even she did not know there was a real bomb in the locker of the train station. Frane Pesut, one of the participants, said he was ready to help Croatia in any way without knowing the details. Slobodan Vlasic also knew about the action in greater detail, but did not know the explosive was fake. He was the most knowledgeable in assembling explosives, so I gave him the task of assembling all the different parts of the alleged ‘bomb’ in the plane’s bathroom, which he did, thinking it was real. Frane’s finger even turned blue from holding the switch for thirty-two hours!

Why did I not tell them everything? First, I knew we were all going to prison, since we planned to surrender after the media printed the leaflets and threw them over certain cities. This surrender was supposed to be one of the key elements of the action. After our surrender and after the passengers had spoken, we hoped, given the humaneness of our behavior toward them, that the whole world would know of the dictatorship in Croatia and nobody would be able to say that we, fighters for Croatian freedom, acted like cold-blooded terrorists, although the hijacking itself was a drastic action. I thought my co-defendants would have an easier defense after the surrender and receive a lesser sentence the less they knew of my intentions. Second, I wanted to have the whole action under control. I was afraid that if there had been real explosives in the plane, some unforeseen circumstance could lead to an accident and harm innocent victims. This was out of the question! On the other hand, if it was known the explosives were not real, something could also go wrong. One of us could expose this through our behavior, get panicky or something. Third, why hide it? At that time, I was quite paranoid, like most political emigrants. The Yugoslav Secret Service harassed us, spied on us, killed us, infiltrated into our ranks. Therefore, a secret you haven’t shared with anyone remains yours alone and you are its master; otherwise, it controls you.

The preparations went according to plan. In the spring, Julie and I traveled to Europe to meet with Bruno. He accepted the task of writing The Call for Dignity and Freedom. Julie hoped that Bruno, who was older and more mature, would maybe talk me out of the action. Of course, that did not happen. We spent most of our time at the Boden Lake. Julie had even gone to Herzegovina. It presented a certain risk, but she as an American could afford it. That June in 1976 was the last time I saw Bruno. They murdered him two years later when I was already in prison serving a life sentence.

Julie typed the leaflet text on a friend’s typewriter, Marijan Gabelica. I knew the police would investigate this so I did not attempt to hide this fact. It is true that Gabelica was the best defense. Before launching the action, we stopped at his place and returned the typewriter. When the police questioned me, I told them whose typewriter it had been. Gabelica really had no idea why I needed the typewriter. And since he didn’t know, they were unable to charge him with anything.

We bought the pots in a market and wrapped them up as gifts before going to the airport. We said we were going to a friend’s wedding. The metal detectors could not detect the clay, and even if they had found it in a baggage search, they would not have suspected anything. It might have seemed bizarre that I was carrying clay with me, but they would not have considered it a dangerous substance. Regardless of all my security measures, I still was unsure whether I was being followed or under suspicion, so I spent the day and night before the action bar hopping so I’d be seen ‘drinking’, and finally went to bed at dawn. Just in case I was being followed, I was sure nobody in his right mind would think that I could have performed such an action as a hijacking after such a ‘wild’ night.

The whole action was based upon a very nuanced psychological exercise. For more than thirty hours we were in absolute control of the situation in the plane, as well as holding several governments at bay, throwing leaflets, and dictating the printing of the leaflets in leading world media while flying over two continents – all without so much as a nail file in our pockets. If the fatal case with Officer Murray had not occurred, it would have been the most successful and unblemished hijacking in history. As it was, it left within me and the others a bitter taste, a deep regret and remorse that will follow us all our days.

Well-intentioned people have often asked me why I had to leave explosives in the locker at the train station. It seemed to them a senseless and unnecessary addition to a well thought-out plan. But this is not so. The explosives in the locker were every bit as important a part of the plan as the clay in the pots. It was intended to give credibility to my negotiations with the American authorities, the agents, and the police. The pots we carried with us were identical to the pot left in the locker, except that in ours there was clay, and in the other real explosives. Without this bomb, someone might believe we were bluffing. Besides that, it was my intention in the beginning to present ourselves as dangerous terrorists not to be fooled with, because that was the only way our demands would be met. Therefore, the bomb was an important element in the overall plan.

However, it is difficult to live with the knowledge that an innocent person died as a collateral victim of an idealistic action, for which he had no idea or interest. The issue of accidental, innocent victims is one that is always considered when an action with dangerous elements is undertaken. And I gave the most thought of all in my planning to this aspect of the action. That is why, after all, the hijacking took place without using any weapons whatsoever. But a tragedy happened where it was least expected, where there was not, it seemed, even a theoretical chance that things would go wrong.

I have already written about how I am almost positive that certain agencies were involved in the death of Officer Murray. The hijacking surprised both Americans and the Yugoslav Secret Police, and it would be difficult to prove that there was some kind of agreement between the two to compromise the action. But I am convinced there was. I claim this not to free myself from guilt. Guilt is above all a moral category. I have absolved the legal, judicial aspect of guilt through my 32 year-long imprisonment that I served longer than countless murderers, rapists, and career criminals. The moral aspect of my guilt is left to my own conscience and to the Almighty, regardless of whether Murray’s death was caused by the negligence of those who detonated the bomb, or a diversion by certain intelligence agencies. I placed the explosives in the locker and I carry guilt for the death they caused, regardless of what happened after their removal to the detonation site four hours later.

So, I am not trying to absolve myself from guilt by means of some later reconstruction, but I truly believe that there was involvement by people who wanted at all costs to compromise the entire action. There seemed to be considerable concern and uneasiness among the American agencies as well. Several New York Times articles (September 12 and 14, 1976), only days after the hijacking, wrote of the ‘painstaking evaluations’ undertaken by the head of the bomb section in the wake of the ‘first such fatality in 37 years’. The department head acknowledged that “none of these experts wore protective gear when they approached the device… as they were required to under police regulations”, including Officer Murray, who was described as ‘a gung ho cop who was one of the first to take on a dangerous task’. However, ‘the cause of the explosion eluded them,’ but not the answer to the question of why the officers were not wearing required protective gear. ‘What clearly perplexed the bomb squad… was why the device failed to respond to impulses generated by the remote control mechanism that the police normally use to detonate explosives in the demolition pit.’ One theory the police pursued, according to the NYT article, ‘was that the remote control gadget did activate the bomb several minutes after it was supposed to, just as officer Murray and the others approached the device.’ This would be the exact scenario I had discussed with Ames: the frequency of the remote control device was overridden and disabled, and at the very moment the officers were bending over the bomb, all without protective gear, another ‘player’ with a different game plan activated the device. My discussions with Ames gave me even more concrete knowledge of the probability and logic of my conclusions. Of course I deeply mourn the death of the innocent police officer, but I’ve thought seriously and often about the entire case, and it always seemed to me that there was a dark shadow of the Yugoslav Secret Police, UDBA, hanging over it.

(Editor note: Two years after this book was first published in Croatia, an American intelligence expert and former NSA analyst, John Schindler, released the first well-documented and credible expose of the long-term UDBA-FBI connections and their collaboration in the United States and elsewhere (The Observer, January 4, 2016). This confirmed the possibility, even probability, that the explosion at the Bronx detonation site in our case could well have been sabotage:

Why Hasn’t Washington Explained the 1975 LaGuardia Airport Bombing?

http://studiacroatica.blogspot.hr/2010/02/dr-john-r-schindler-agents-provocateurs.html)

During the hijacking, I spent most of the time in the pilot’s cabin. Julie and Matanic communicated most with the passengers. Pesut and Vlasic represented a kind of understated threat; at least, that was how we intended the passengers view them. When I learned from the pilot that leaflets could not be thrown from the plane we were in, the situation became more complicated, but I did not despair. In fact, the entire time I had the feeling I was keeping the situation under perfect control. I knew the police had confirmed the explosives in the locker were genuine so I was not concerned that someone would get the idea we had hijacked the plane totally unarmed. Actually, in dangerous actions, this is usually the case – when the plan is made, the decision reached, and the action launched, one simply functions according to plan.

Then the shock came in Paris, when we got the news that a police officer had died. At first, I did not want to believe it; I thought the intelligence services had printed a special, false edition of the New York Times in order to destroy our morale. I sent Julie from the plane to call certain phone numbers and confirm the truth of this news. When I learned it was really true, it was clear to me that the action was over. There would be no further throwing of leaflets over Zagreb and Solin, where at that time the 1300-year anniversary of Christianity in Croatia was being celebrated. When I had been planning the hijacking, among several symbolic dates I had decided on this one. The knowledge that an innocent person had become a victim and a human life lost led to our immediate surrender. It was probably the most difficult day in my life, and I have had thousands of extremely difficult days. The intensity of feelings I experienced in just one day was immeasurable. From the belief of having a situation under perfect control, that I was doing something significant for the ideals I had fought for my entire life, and then to extreme desolation that things had taken such an utterly unexpected turn.

I did not completely despair, though, because what was begun had to be brought to an end. The surrender took place in an orderly fashion and without panic. First the passengers exited, along with my colleagues. The pilot and I remained until the end. Although the police ordered the pilot to come out before I did, he refused to do so, suspecting the Special Forces would shoot me. He insisted we leave together; he even put his arm around my shoulder so that, if that had been their intention, they would not be able to shoot me without endangering his life as well.

Then he gave the journalists gathered around the plane this widely reported statement: ‘This drama is over for the crew and travelers, but for Taik and his comrades it has only just begun.’ Many years later, I was flying from Split to Zagreb. As I passed the pilot in the aisle, he recognized me and asked with a wry smile, ‘So where are we flying today, Mr. Busic?’ The sincere humor in the voice of this man reminded me of the captain of the hijacked plane. I would say I am one of the few hijackers who has only had good experiences with pilots. Zvonko Bušić”

(Republished by Ina Vukic with permission)

Croatian Diaspora: Living For and Giving To Croatia

Marko Franovic (L) Dr Ivan Hrvoic (R), Photo: Hrvatski tjednik

 The 23rd June 2022 issue of the revered Hrvatski Tjednik (Croatian Weekly) had published an extensive interview conducted by the Weekly’s Editor in Chief Ivica Marijacic with two prominent Croatian expats who are both successful businessmen, philanthropists of note and profound patriots to Croatia.  I have translated below into the English language much of the said interview primarily because it provides a clear and proud picture and a profile of the Croatian diaspora, of Croats living abroad who were a significant part of the strength in the 1990’s that made it possible for Croatia to leave communist Yugoslavia, defend itself from brutal Serb aggression and establish a democracy in a new independent state.

One of the interviewees is Sydney Australia based Marko Franovic who fled the oppression of communist Yugoslavia from Croatia and his native Boka Kotorska to arrive in Sydney Australia in 1960, embark on a long journey of hard work, business acumen and entrepreneurship coupled with his Croatian patriotic activism, publishing, humanitarian activities and outstanding philanthropy towards the betterment of both his new homeland Australia and his first Homeland Croatia.      

The other interviewee is Toronto Canada based Dr Ivan Hrvoic, a Croatian scientist, innovator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who in 1972 emigrated to Canada and in 1980 founded his own the company GEM systems Inc. for measuring the earth’s magnetic field for magnetic observatories, searching for minerals, diamonds, and oil, for volcano and earthquake studies, for archaeological research, metrology, etc. His company today rates as a leading company in its specialty and he is considered as one of the leading, probably the best experts in the world when it comes to measuring the Earth’s magnetic field. Hrvoic was very active politically in Canada during the 1990’s having focused on Croatian patriotic activities that would prove invaluable in Croatia’s secession from communist Yugoslavia and the creation of a democratic and independent Croatia.   

Both of you left Croatia a long time ago, you come here often. How do you feel every time you touch Croatian soil?

 Marko Franovic: I have been in Australia for 61 years, but every time I come to Croatia, I am just as happy as if it were my first time. I follow everything that happens in Croatia intensively, I am frustrated with many things and every time I touch, as you say, the Croatian soil, with happiness and pride, I feel hope, I always hope that it will be better in Croatia. It saddens me to see that only a little is moving in the right direction.

 Ivan Hrvoic: I have been in Canada for 50 years, I come often, once, or more every year, but every time I feel like I came home. Of course, not everything in Croatia is happening according to my liking, but we all expect and demand that the situation improve, that there is finally a normal democracy here. But I repeat, the first feeling is always that I have come home and there is nothing that can pay for that.

You both went out into the world fleeing communism. Did you have any ideals that you believed in or didn’t believe would come true? What can you say today about that, have your ideals been realised, not only the political ones but also others?

Marko Franovic: I have always been and remain an optimist. When I say that I am going to Croatia, I always say that I am going home, even though my home is down in the Bay of Kotor, and the Bay of Kotor, as we know, is no longer in Croatia. But I always say, when people ask me, that I go home to Croatia. When they remind me that this is not Croatia, I answer that Boka has always been Croatia for me. If the existing world no longer allows it, it doesn’t matter for me it is always Croatia. Finally, I fled 60 or so years ago because Boka did not stay in Croatia, Josip Broz Tito gave it to Montenegro. I remember in 1954 I was the youngest apprentice in the workshop, I was only 13 years and four months old. It was a repairs unit for the army. One man says he heard that Boka would belong to Croatia. But that was according to what Grandma liked, that’s what she dreamed of. This, unfortunately, did not happen then or today, it will never happen again. We must be aware of this fact: we cannot start a war with the Montenegrins today to get Boka back. In the meantime, we Croats moved out of there, as my brothers and I did. Others began to inhabit the area. But let me answer your question: I never gave up on Croatia, although I said in 1982 that I would not think about Croatia anymore because there were so many UDBA or Yugoslav secret service operatives that it was unbelievable. UDBA supervised everything. While I was initially in Italy, I was a member of HOP (Croatian Liberation Movement), in Australia I didn’t want to join that organisation because I realised that UDBA was overseeing everything. I am proud of everything that is Croatian, but unfortunately there were bad people among us.

In 1991, the Croatian state was created. In that sense, I asked if your political ideals had been realised.

Marko Franovic: Of course, they were. I saw another God in Dr Franjo Tudjman. I was happy we got the man who returned the state. For the first 20 years I believed in the realisation of that dream, but later, when I saw how many UDBA operatives were infiltrated into everything, I was suspicious. In 1984 we decided to build a church, we got together and organised in Australia. I got involved with all my heart and when people saw that people like me and I were giving $ 10,000 each to buy land and build a church, everything started like a river, everyone started giving as much as they could. And so, we succeeded and strengthened. We built two churches in a year in Sydney.

Ivan Hrvoić: I left after the Croatian Spring. I have the same attitude today towards Yugoslavia and communism as I had then. At that time, however, I did not believe that there would be an independent Croatian state because it was a communist system and there did not seem to be any force that would realise it, although the Croatian Spring was encouraging in that sense. When Tito broke the resistance of the springers near Zagreb with tanks, my hopes somehow faded. But when Franjo Tudjman appeared at the head of the movement 20 years later, it was phenomenal for me, like a new awakening or birth. I had quite high duties in Canada. I was the vice president of the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and the president of the AMCA (Alma Mater Croatica). That association was supposed to be cultural, but I turned it into a political one. We lobbied for Croatia, we went to demonstrations, we demanded that the aggression against Croatia be stopped, we helped in all ways and made ourselves available to the Homeland. So, that’s right – in the 90’s my political ideals came true.

Is the Croatian emigration disappointed with the attitude of the Croatian authorities towards it?

 Ivan Hrvoic: I think so. After the first glorious years of the establishment of Croatia and especially the Homeland War, we were told: “We don’t need you anymore, now we have money and don’t interfere … etc.” This greatly disappointed the Croatian emigrants. Later, all bridges to emigration were completely demolished by a shameful electoral law according to which they gave us three seats in parliament, to vote only at diplomatic missions and to many these were a thousand kilometres away, while at the same time they gave three seats in parliament to the practically aggressive Serb minority who are still paid to vote. It is so frustrating and humiliating for us Croats throughout the world. After that, bridges to our emigrants were no longer built. I had the opportunity to talk about this humiliation to former President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic when she was with us. She didn’t change or try to change anything.

Marko Franovic: The Croatian diaspora is very frustrated, it has almost no ties with the Croatian government.

Why, in your opinion, does Croatia fail to free itself from Yugoslavianism and myths like Jasenovac, even though it has been free and independent for more than 30 years? Here, the media and politics still create a pro-Yugoslav atmosphere, every year in the spring we are collectively subjected to the months-long terror of one Milorad Pupovac and Jasenovac myth. Why can’t Croatia slam the door on these relics of Yugoslavian and Greater Serbian politics?

Ivan Hrvoic: That is a very open and complex question. I see that the moves made by our political elite lead more and more in the direction of Yugoslavia, even though it is a failed idea, and, in my opinion, it will never succeed again. But unfortunately, some forces still insist on this, I think because the network of those who lived well in Yugoslavia and terrorised others, especially us Croats, is now being renewed and completed again. That network has become extremely powerful and strong. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic commands it. He and his partner Milorad Pupovac are managing it and we, unfortunately, do not have any movement in Croatia that would give hope that this will stop any time soon. For example, all this right wing – it’s all a collection of big ambitions, everyone thinks they are the new Stjepan Radic or Ante Starcevic, but that’s not the case. They cannot agree and become a force, so there are no changes.

Marko Franovic: First, we have to understand that we were educated in lies. We are ashamed of our nation and our Croatian past instead of being proud of our past and loving it. If we blush when we say we are Croats, that is terrible. We must know that our past was clean, that our past is not the one we were taught about in the communist system, not the one taught to us in schools by Serbs and communists. My nephew once asked me how I could love the Ustasha, when they, he says, killed children. I told him that he went to school, but he didn’t learn there that two and two are four, but only as a joke that the Ustashas were killing. The Ustashas did not kill. Historian Stjepan Lozo wrote well: Serbs were not killed because they were Serbs, but because they killed Croats, and everything that the Serbs accused the Croats of, they themselves actually did to us Croats. This has been proven in all or much of the most current research, but we don’t seem to believe those researchers. That is why I have now started an association headed by Dr Andrija Hebrang with the aim of promoting the historical truth. For me, Dr Hebrang is another Tudjman; a man who was not in with the communists and is independent and free. Our goal is to spread our true Croatian history. We have been learning a lie for 80 years. Today, schools still interpret that more than 83,000 people were killed in Jasenovac, and it is known that 16,800 people passed through Jasenovac, while the number of victims in various ways (including death) was slightly more than 1,500. And that is true.

Marko Franovic (L) Ivan Hrvoic (R) in Zagreb Croatia June 2022, Photo: Hrvatski Tjednik

Could it happen in another country that it stands accused without evidence by its privileged citizens and people living in it, like Croatia is often slandered by Milorad Pupovac who often flees to the country of aggressors during the biggest holidays and does not want to be in Croatia?

Ivan Hrvoic: That is unthinkable anywhere except in Croatia. Not only do they have no evidence for their allegations, but they are also not trying to find it, and they are preventing any attempt to verify or investigate. This is nowhere to be found in the civilised world. The question is, of course, how to get out of that situation. That’s a big question. The only legal way is elections, and in the elections, people were discouraged because their choice was reduced to HDZ or SDP, and it is not known who is worse between the two of them. We already have some third parties that are not yet unfortunately strong enough to be a real threat those two.

You are successful entrepreneurs, you earn a great deal of money with your businesses, knowledge, and skills, and you spend a lot of money on various charity projects. I know you both shared with others many millions. It is my opinion that today patriotic thought in Croatia would practically die out if it were not for you, because Plenkovic’s government, through Minister Obuljen, suffocated it and preferred to help hostile anti-Croatian projects. Are you sorry for the money you gave for these purposes?

Marko Franovic: I will never be sorry. My plan is to invest for Croatia, not in Croatia, for as long as I live. I have invested in every idea to help Croatia, whether it is the renovation of churches or political campaigns, institutions, films, books, projects. I invested a lot of money for Ivo Sanader. Do you remember his warranty card? Trust me, I wrote him those seven promises. I wouldn’t mention everything – movies, books, associations … I share my surplus. I get up at 4 in the morning and go to work, I come back around 6pm and so on five days a week, and on Saturdays I work until 6pm. Myths about my wealth are being spread, but such stories are not simply true. I have investments that I have achieved by working, saving. Indeed, money comes to me very successfully, but I work constantly just as my 60 employees do.

Ivan Hrvoic: As you yourself said, we do not want self-promotion when we help many and when we just talk about it. I almost never talk about it. I can say that I must have received a message from above at one point: “If you have extra money, you have to share it with your friends, with your people!” The argument for this is that once we leave, we will not be able to take anything with us. Croats, like, for example I think, Jews, do not have this culture of giving and it is only a minority that donates. And I have orientated myself to help many. As a last example, for example, I helped the deaf-mute with a smaller amount, some of our defenders, I helped Ms Zeljka Markic with the referendum, and when there are some more important actions, I give more. I covered all the costs of the Croatian Orthodox Church for symposia, in Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Rijeka … There is no need to talk about films, books, translations of these books in the world with the aim of opposing Serbian propaganda. We founded the Croatian-Canadian Academic Society in Canada with the aim of translating and spreading our truth around the world. I don’t know how much of an impact it has, but I am fighting for Croatia as much as I can.

(Translated and prepared by Ina Vukic)

Another Antisemitism Splotch By Ivo Goldstein Against Croats

If it wasn’t for Croatian historian Ivo Goldstein’s past and perpetual fabrications and malicious lies against the World War Two Independent State of Croatia, such as alleged “bone-crushing machines” to hide the number of killed at Jasenovac camp or that Ante Pavelic’s Ustashe regime towards Serbs (whose enormous toll in exterminating Serbia’s 94% of Jews by mid-May 1942 is perpetually hidden by Goldstein himself) had a policy, even though Goldstein admits and states that such a policy had never been published or printed (!), that translated into “one third of Serbs to be killed, one third to be expelled and one third to be forcibly converted to Catholicism”, for Goldstein’s malicious and tragically categorising of Antisemitism into perpetrating ethnic groups rather than political or religious pursuits directed from authorities above, his new 640-page book on antisemitism in Croatia over the centuries may be taken as a crucial piece of encyclopaedic work. He fails miserably and I would say purposefully to note that while Croatian people had lived on the territory, he writes about for centuries they were, in reality, ruled and dictated to by foreign powers not their own until some thirty years ago.  Then again, it may be encyclopaedic only if one is to look at the hatred against Croats, undeserved imputations against Croats of others’ deeds, that emanate from the pages of Ivo Goldstein’s new book.  All in all, Ivo Goldstein’s as his late father Slavko historical work has always evidently existed to justify and protect Yugoslav communists and their crimes and to rub smears after smears at the fight for independence Croats had engaged in after decades and centuries of oppression.

When in 1918, resulting from World War One, the “Western Allies” tossed Croatia from the Habsburg Monarchy to the rule of cruel Serbian Monarch, creating forcefully the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, this is what Croats picked up as a matter of force as far as antisemitism is concerned but Ivo Goldstein would make you believe it was the Croats that held these views against Jews because they were transferred upon Croatian soil by the ruling Serbian Monarchy regime: “The story of the Jews of today in the Balkan States is chiefly concerned with Rumania, for their numbers in Bulgaria (76,000) and in Serbia (15,780) are but few, and their influence small amid the general population. To grasp at all the intricacies of the Jewish question, and the extent of the prejudice against them, it is needful briefly to review the condition, economic, political, and social … the real control lies in the hands of one class. These are the nobles… King Petar seems outwardly friendly to the Jews, and they enjoy some equality of civil and religious liberty. Yet this freedom does not, in Serbia, extend itself to social intercourse. As yet, the Jews have no share in public life or government. A few are successful in law and medicine…”, “The Conquering Jew”, John Foster Fraser, 1915, pp 232-234.

Immediately after World War Two communist Yugoslavia authorities placed in all key educational, cultural, economic, and political positions its own people including uneducated or barely educated individuals who fought in the war as partisans under the pretence of being antifascists but in fact were murderous communists or covering up those murders.  And so, the stage was set for fake academics, for fake school directors, for fake university professors…the stage was set that gave licence and free hand to writing Croatia’s history regarding its independence fight under the Ustashe regime as it pleased the political goals of mega murderer Josip Broz Tito. Of course, this political appointment trend to key positions in Yugoslav society saw the rise of communist Slavko Goldstein and his son Ivo as some credible historians and, to eternal grief of Croats, they made up wild lies and inserted gruesome fabrications in order to paint the Croatian patriots who fought from freedom from Yugoslavia the darkest of the dark. Ivo Goldstein is still at it, seemingly changing his tactics from publishing wild lies or fabrications to stealthily imputing hateful thins against patriotic Croats! All that was possible during the totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia and it left awful stains on innocent Croatian people.

Last couple of weeks have seen in Croatia several launches of the latest book by historian Ivo Goldstein ‘Antisemitism in Croatia – from the Middle Ages to the Present’ published by Fraktura from Zapresic.

“Antisemitism has historically become a paradigm of hatred of the other and the different and paradigms – the ‘ancestor’ of all nationalisms and chauvinisms. But in terms of consequences, it is the most terrible of all because it culminated in the most terrible crime of all time – the Holocaust,” recently said the book’s editor Vuk Perisic. He added that the book describes the process of creating hatred in Croatia, with an extremely rich presentation of archival material, newspaper articles and political speeches. Well, if the severity of a crime is defined by the number of victims and brutality and depravity in the manner of murders then surely communist crimes take the top position! But no use of telling that to either Goldstein or Perisic as both are in the business of denying justice to victims of communist crimes. Weren’t all revolutions in human history, weren’t all wars in history of mankind the result of insufferable oppression, pressure, dictatorships etc!?   

Thankfully, political scientist from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Dr Mirjana Kasapovic, in her review of the Ivo Goldstein new book, emphasised that it is “embarrassing to read only bad books”, and she put Goldstein’s work in that category.

“Antisemitism in Croatia from the Middle Ages to the Present” by Ivo Goldstein, as Kasapovic states in her review, is a thematically, theoretically and methodologically demanding work.

It should be noted that in the scientific literature, antisemitism is studied “as a political ideology, political and social movement and state policy, either within one state or comparatively in several states.” However, as Kasapovic herself observes, Goldstein writes about only one country in his work. This of course is yet another example of his anti-Croatian and pro-Serbian bias when it comes to World War Two and the Jewish question in both; Serbia not Croatia was the one who declared itself “Jew Free”, having exterminated about 94% of its Jews by mid-1942 and Croatia had never pursued such a goal. 

“I write deliberately about the country, not the state, because most of Croatia’s history since the Middle Ages was not an independent state, but Croatian lands were included in various state formations – the Habsburg Monarchy, the Venetian Republic, the Ottoman Empire, the Dubrovnik Republic, France, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia – in which there were more or less recognisable geographical, ethnic, cultural and political entities. One can speak of the state only from 1941 to 1945 (NDH) and after 1991 (Republic of Croatia).

Goldstein solved this problem by tacitly ‘writing’ the modern Republic of Croatia into history and treated Croatian countries that were part of various state formations in the Middle Ages and the New Age, and today are part of the Republic of Croatia, as areas of Croatia,” explains Kasapovic.

This means that, for example, “antisemitism in Austro-Hungarian towns and cities of Varazdin, Sisak and Zagreb was treated as antisemitism in Croatia. Such an approach is pragmatic, but not unproblematic. As antisemitism was and remains state policy, the question is to whom state-produced or sponsored antisemitism in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy should be attributed.

Isn’t that Austrian and Hungarian, not Croatian antisemitism? The opposite is also true: aren’t non-discriminatory state legal acts against Jews, such as the Edict of Tolerance of Emperor Joseph II, Austrian, not Croatian documents? The problem is even more complicated if we keep in mind that state and non-state antisemitism were intertwined: non-state antisemitism was often caused or encouraged by the state, but the state government often banned and suppressed antisemitic incidents in society and punished their perpetrators.

Therefore, Kasapovic believes that “Goldstein did not consistently adhere to this methodological approach, so he included antisemitism in Croatia as phenomena in areas that in the indicated part of history were not, and are not today, parts of Croatia.”

With some caricature, it could be said that only the 17th century Croatian noble families Zrinski and Frankopani are missing in the gallery of characters Ivo Goldstein puts out in his book, especially since it is suggested in one place that the Hungarian-Croatian King Andrew II, who ruled in the 13th century, was an anti-Semite.

Worst of all, to Ivo Goldstein, they all appear to be the forerunners of the Holocaust. For many great European thinkers and artists – from St. Augustine to Luther, from Kant to Voltaire, from Balzac to T. S. Eliot – binds some form of antisemitism, but it is difficult if not evil to claim that they prepared the Holocaust. When it comes to unfairly portraying Croats rather than their rulers over the centuries as antisemitic Ivo Goldstein does not appear truthful or fair or ethical for that matter. Ivo Goldstein’s bias against the Croatian people who fought against any form of Yugoslavia during World War Two and those who fought against communist Yugoslavia in 1990’s is an enormous burden for history to cleanse in the service of justice and truth. To talk of antisemitism as the only precursor to the concept of Holocaust as defined in its Greek origins “sacrifice by fire” would also appear for many as blasphemous. What of the much larger “sacrifice by fire” entailed in communist purges and mass murders whose body counts are much, much, higher than those of the World War Two Holocaust. Ivo Goldstein should abstain from writing about either if for nothing else then because of the portrait of communist Yugoslavia mega murderer Josip Broz Tito whose portrait still to this day reportedly hangs in prominent places in Goldstein’s home and visibly in the public offices he had until recently occupied. Ina Vukic

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