New Film About Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac USA Tour

The Interfilm and Catholic University of Croatia documentary by Croatia’s renowned journalist, book author, publicist and documentary film author and director Visnja Staresina “Stepinac – Cardinal and his conscience” (Stepinac – Kardinal i njegova savjest) was last week making its grand and premiere tour across the United States of America. The tour had a positive thread of Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs finally making a concerted effort to showcase in the outside world the truth about Cardinal Stepinac that had so violently been suppresed, fabricated and rigged for decades by communist Yugoslavia. This event would be much more positive and effective had the tour not been organised in manner and places that point to the more or less “preaching to the choir” rather than being placed mostly among those who do not know the truth and whose sense of history had been corrupted by the former communist regime. I personally would have loved seeing  more foreigners at these events than Croats, but am pleased at the promise of a better future for truth-promotion this government auspiced tour offers.

With whole-hearted and generous hospitality from members of the Croatian community in New York and a stellar cast from the Croatian diplomatic and government corps last week’s 14 June premiere screening under the organisation the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia in New York at the Croatian Catholic Parish St Cyril and Methodius and Raphael in New York’s Manhattan met with overwhelming love of truth and loud applause from the Croats and friends who attended the event and came to the big Parish hall despite it being a week night.

Primarily in the Croatian language but with a good balance laden with the English language as well, this documentary Stepinac – Cardinal and His Conscience is a story about the life of Alojzije Stepinac, about how as a man and the Archbishop of Zagreb coped with the greatest challenges of the 20th century, the global and universal significance of his work, the root of controversy that undeservedly follows him to this day, about the relevance of his example and the universality of his messages today. It is also a story about Croatian and European history of the 20th century, as an indispensable context of action. 

Hence, this film largely focuses on Cardinal Stepinac’s attitude towards Ante Pavelic, Head of World War Two Independent State of Croatia, Head of communist Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, Tito’s right hand man and Deputy Prime Minister of communist Yugoslavia Edvard Kardelj and Stepinac’s rescue of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia and his faith in God for whom he died honorably.

As a reminder, Tito as Head of totalitarian communist Yugoslavia, after Stepinac refused to separate the Croatian Catholic Church from the Vatican, mounted trumped-up charges against Stepinac in 1946 falsely alleging collaboration with the Ustashi regime that was allied then with Nazi Germany even though the latter was the military occupier etc., put him through a show trial without being permitted a defence, convicted him for treason, sentenced him to 16 years prison of which he served 5 at the notorious communist prison Lepoglava and then was moved to house imprisonment in Krasic, Croatia, where he died in 1960. 

Among most honoured attendees and guests in New York last week were HE Pjer Simunovic, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the USA, dr Esther Gitman, acclaimed historian and author of big body of historical and scientific research and of books about Alojzije Stepinac’s significant role during World War II in rescuing Jews and other ethnic groups caught in the winds of the Holocaust across Europe. The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the UN, Mr. Ivan Simunovic, the Consul General of the Republic of Croatia in NY Nikica Kopacevic,  the staff of the Embassy and the Consulate General and, of course, the Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, Nikolina Brnjac, Ane Strazicic Rodriguez (Ane Mljecka) on behalf of the American-Croatian Congress along with the film’s author Visnja Staresina herself were also at the premiere screening as special and honored guests among other attendees.

On behalf of the Croatian Catholic Parish Fr. Nikola Pasalic greeted the parishioners and guests present, thanked them for this praiseworthy event which is very important for the Parish particularly because, he said, the Croatian School and the folklore group that are part of the Parish both carry the name of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac.      

The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the USA, Pjer Simunovic, praised Visnja Staresina for her enormous efforts and commitment to discovering the real truth about Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, about Croatia and the creation of Croatian independent state in general. He especially thanked Dr. Esther Gitman, who has been fighting much of her life to prove through thorough historical research the truth and innocence of Cardinal Stepinac of all the misdeeds that the former regime had falsely charged him and persecuted him with.

I contacted Dr Esther Gitman after this event in New York and she said: “Visnja’s film is a serious work covering the work of Blessed Stepinac in various periods presented by serious and credible historians like Ivo Banac, Robin Harris, Jure Kristo and Michal Naida Brandel. 

Then there are testimonies of Holocaust survivors like myself and a few others. I regret that the promotion of the film tour was particularly poor and, hence, the attendance was just mediocre when it should have deservedly been much higher. I was truly sad to see in NY that not many people were informed anout the screenings afterwards l called Ella Miche, (I probably misspelled this) and she and her mother would’ve come if they knew about the event! I also heard that in Cleveland there were many people playing games in the venue but they didn’t come to view the film being screened  at same premises.

I really shouldn’t be involved with this side of the tour and yet knowing the continued and universal message of Stepinac I was saddened that the publicity and the advertising was poor and attendance minimal! Promoting the truth anout Blessed Cardinal Stepinac must be an all-encompassing effort by all of us, especially those whose life has been so profoundly affected by his deeds. I am most grateful though that this tour provided yet anther opportunity for truth to shine.”

I also caught up with the film’s author and director Visnja Staresina as she waited to board her plane back to Croatia in New York who said that “the American tour of Stepinac: The Cardinal and His Conscience was held in several cities: from LA, through Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh to New York. I see this as a first step, not only in presenting the film, but also in recalling the universal relevance of Stepinac’s legacy, which in his day was better known and recognised than it is today. It seems very important to me that the tour was held as part of cultural activities funded by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and organised by the Croatian Embassy in Washington and Croatian consular offices in the United States.

It also seems important to me that the film, for example in Washington, was seen by some people who are not from Croatia, and they are very important for Croatian international relations. It is important that they understand the so-called Stepinac case …

Particularly touching was the reaction of the renowned Chicago artist and gallerist John David Mooney, the last student of Ivan Mestrovic, who as a student at a Catholic High School in the United States, along with his classmates, once prayed for the release of Archbishop Stepinac even though they did not know about the whole Stepinac case. He, deeply moved, literally shed tears and weeped at the screening.

Several of our emigrants, who work with young people and not only with Croats, have expressed a desire to show them the film.”

It saddens me personally to have noticed, for instance in the case of New York screening, that among all those Croatian diplomatic dignitaries and even a government Minister not one of them it seems brought along a foreign colleague, a foreign diplomat or envoy and show off the beautiful Croatian truth in the good deeds of Alojzije Stepinac. This would have added another needed notch in the path to Stepinac’s canonisation that is stumbling upon many hurdles fabricated by former communists, Serbian Orthodox Church and their friends. How wonderful it would have been to see many more foreign and American people at this film’s screenings and some solid international mingling with the truth of Alojzije Stepinac and his remarkable human, benevolent and courageous conscience in times of peril and World War Two battlegrounds. 

When it comes to fighting for the truth in Alojzije Stepinac case, in taking strong, courageous and decisive steps then Dr Esther Gitman fortunately beats all while the Croatian government is still making baby steps. Film author and director Visnja Staresina deserves our gratitude and her great work for Croatian truth is noticed far and wide. Well done! Ina Vukic

Alojzije Stepinac: From Communist False Allegations to Universal Example of Humanity

Blessed Alojzije Stepinac sarcophagus in Zagreb, Croatia, cathedral

On 10 February 1960 Croatia’s Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac passed away in his house prison or confinement, having suffered several illnesses during his imprisonment. In 1953, Pope Pius XII made him a cardinal, although he was never allowed travel to the Holy See to be officially elevated. He died in 1960 of an alleged blood disorder, which was said to have been caused by the conditions he endured in jail. Recent tests of his remains by Vatican investigators show evidence he was also poisoned.

History and historical research have proven repeatedly that Stepinac was a man whose actions were opposed to the destructive tendencies of both fascist and communist regimes and whose being was burned and defaced by his enemies in order for it not to become a Catholic relic. Croatian Catholics view Pope Francis’s ambivalent relationship towards his predecessor’s spiritual patrimony is less related to issues like universal priestly celibacy or sex abuse in the Church, and much more so with the delayed canonisation of the most significant man of faith in 20th-century Croatia.

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

On his return from last year’s visit to Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, the Holy Father was asked about Stepinac’s canonisation, a man whom St. John Paul II declared Blessed in 1998. Francis replied: “The canonisation of Stepinac is a historic case. He is a virtuous man for this Church, which has proclaimed him Blessed, you can pray [through his intercession]. But at a certain moment of the canonisation process there are unclear points, historic points, and I should sign the canonisation, it is my responsibility, I prayed, I reflected, I asked advice, and I saw that I should ask Irinej (Head of Serbian Orthodox Church), a great patriarch, for help. We made a historic commission together and we worked together, and both Irinej and I are interested in the truth. Who is helped by a declaration of sanctity if the truth is not clear? We know that [Stepinac] was a good man, but to make this step I looked for the help of Irinej and they are studying. First of all, the commission was set up and gave its opinion. They are studying other sources, deepening some points so that the truth is clear. I am not afraid of the truth; I am not afraid. I am afraid of the judgment of God.”

Serbian Patriarch Irinej, whom the Pope calls “great”, like many of his predecessors, is a politician as much as he is a priest. Known for his nationalist statements justifying Serbian imperialism—a transgenerational project which underlies every 20th-century War in Former Yugoslavia —Irinej’s observations about Stepinac, who “did not want to hear the children’s cry” in concentration camps, are a first-class manipulation. The inaccuracies of Irinej’s statements about Stepinac and other historical phenomena were reported to Francis by the Episcopal Conference of Croatia before the Pope called him “great,” which makes Francis’s statement quite problematic.

How Pope Francis could say that both he and Irinej are interested in the truth is beyond any decent and objective person’s comprehension. Irinej as head of Serbian Orthodox Church had taken a key and leading role in falsifying Croatian history and WWII. Indeed, all Patriarchs before and after Irinej have been crucial in keeping the lies alive. Pope Francis knows this I am quite sure but what I am not sure is why does Pope Francis insists on talking to pathological liars of the Serbian Orthodox Church without even trying to make them aware that they are liars.      

Dr Robin Harris presenting his new book “Stepinac – His Life and Times” In Zagreb, Croatia 21 October 2016 Photo: HKS (Croatian Catholic University of Croatia)

 The historical irony is not only that Stepinac was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of – on the contrary, he was not a persecutor (or even a supporter of the persecution) of the Serbian, Jewish and Roma populations, but their saviour. Relevant research in both the Croatian and English languages – including “Stepinac: His Life & Time” by Robin Harris and “When Courage Prevailed: The Rescue and Survival of the Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945” and “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” by Esther Gitman -show that books on the subject written in communist Yugoslavia do not reflect the truth about the Croatian cardinal and are an ugly fabrication of history; the kind of fabrication that we know communist regimes were capable of and insisted on passing as truthful or factual.

Dr Esther Gitman and her book: “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” (Photo: Catholic University of Croatia)

In May 1943, Cardinal Stepinac openly criticised the Nazis and put his own life in danger; he is knowns to have rescued thousands of Jews, Croats, Serbs, and Roma from certain death during that Second World War that was marked by racial laws and extreme intolerance. At the end of World War Two, when communists started ruling over Yugoslavia and immediately set about falsely accusing Stepinac of Nazi collaboration because he would not separate the Croatian Catholic Church from the Vatican as the Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito sked him to do.  Without the right to defence in court Alojzije Stepinac was found guilty of Nazi collaboration at a mock trial, by the communist government and was convicted and sentenced sixteen years` hard labour on October 11, 1946. Archbishop Stepinac was denied effective representation and only met with his attorney for an hour before the trial. The government’s witnesses were told what to say, and the archbishop was not allowed to cross-examine them. After being convicted and sentenced, he spent five years in the notorious and cruel prison for political opponents to communism called Lepoglava, and in 1951, Tito`s government released him and ordered house imprisonment or confinement in the village of Krasic.

Even though the communist Yugoslavia government had forbidden him to resume his duties in the Catholic Church, Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953. In 1985, his trial prosecutor Jakov Blazevic admitted publicly that Cardinal Stepinac`s trial was an entire frame-up, and that Stepinac was tried only because he refused to sever thousand-year-old ties between Croatians and the Roman Catholic Church. On October 3, 1998 in Marija Bistrica, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, and referred to him as one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church.

In his article dated 10 February 2022 published on HKV portal (Croatian Cultural Council) dr Josip Sabol wrote that “today we can convincingly speak of Stepinac as a witness of the time, as a visionary whose visions and ideas became real. Let’s compare the time in which Stepinac lived with ours today. The opposite can hardly be greater: then fascism and communism in Europe – today democracy and the rule of law. Then the Church was persecuted in the socio-cultural catacombs – today the Church in the legally guaranteed freedom of action and presence in public life. Then the Church in the spirit of Pope Pius IX. to Pius XII. – today the Church in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Then the nation-state and national consciousness as supreme cultural-political values ​​- today transnational integrations and the globalised world.

Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

We could mention other contradictions between Stepinac’s and today’s time, for example contradictions in ethics, philosophy, morality. One thing is certain: the person of Stepinac and his life’s work are even more relevant today than before. His actuality and universal respect are proved by his beatification. Its universal value and greatness for today’s world and for the further development of the culture of life and salvation in today’s civilisation is proved by the unusual, incomprehensible, and unfounded opposition to the elevation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac to the altar of holiness by certain circles of society and politics. It is incomprehensible to a Catholic of a critical and open spirit how these unusual pressures on the Catholic Church, specifically on the Pope, could have stopped the already positive process of canonisation of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac.”

I have written before about the utterly unfair and painful moves towards the Catholic faith that Pope Francis has taken in the process of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac’s canonisation by requiring the Serbian Orthodox’s Church’s input (or blessing) when he knows very well that the Serbian Orthodox Church had moulded and controlled Serbian history of aggression towards Croats and falsifying Croatian history particularly that of WWII. If Pope Francis thinks that Stepinac’s WWII role has been one of compromised, then the Pope has a duty towards the Croatian people not to permit Croatia’s enemy and aggressor to help decide upon Stepinac’s canonisation.

Obviously, this is a purely political activity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia and towards Croatia. The Vatican needs to know that, and it probably does and hence, regretfully, a very visible distancing of many Croatians from the Catholic Church. Catholics in Croatia are asking for an end to the politicking of Croatia’s enemies on the issue of what is sacred and most sacred to the Croatian people and its history. Pope Pius XII proved a completely different attitude towards the Catholic Croatian people by awarding the honour of Cardinal to Archbishop Stepinac in the most difficult circumstances of his life. Pope John Paul II proved the excellence of the attitude of the Holy See towards the Croats by beatifying Cardinal Stepinac. At that time, the world public proved its belief in the truth of everything that was happening in communist Croatia as part of communist Yugoslavia. The American Archbishop Fulton John Sheen is known to have said of Alojzije Stepinac that “He entered the courtroom as the Archbishop of Zagreb and left the courtroom as a universal example of humanity and as the spiritual leader of his Croatian people.”

Dr Esther Gitman 2019 in Zagreb Cathedral paying respect at the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac sarcophagus (Photo: Ina Vukic)

The inclusion of a non-Catholic religious leader in the process of proclaiming a Catholic saint is to my knowledge unprecedented. Besides writing directly to Pope Francis , receipt of which letter was acknowledged and besides writing several articles on the issue of this ugly, unprecedented canonisation process, which alienates the faithful from their church both spiritually and physically, I am confident many others have pleaded with Pope Frances to stop this ugly madness.  Sadly, Francis seems to have initiated an unprecedented number of precedents in the Catholic Church so much so that I have no memory of Catholic people resenting, showing bitter disappointments in the precedents that do not appear to be founded on the faith and Church we have known all our lives.    

In a closing statement at the 1946 trial, Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac said in court: “My conscience is clear, and the future will show that I was right.” And he was right. Historical research and fact findings have unequivocally yielded proclamations of his innocence and for years now Pope Francis has evidently not been able to bring himself to seeing truth! Let’s pray he does! Soon! Ina Vukic

ARCHBISHOP ALOJZIJE STEPINAC IN THE DOCK

This year of 2021 the Advent begins on Sunday 28 November, and we prepare for the birth of Jesus. And in that preparation for the birth of Jesus I trust and pray that The Holy Father Pope Francis will reconsider the role he maintains the Serb Orthodox Church has in the canonisation of Croatia’s WWII Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, Blessed Alojzije Stepinac since October 1998 when Saint John Paul II, then Pope, beatified him.

With this article I step back in the time of October 1946 when the Yugoslav communists (among whom was an overwhelming number of Orthodox Serbs) wrongfully convicted the Archbishop, wrongfully treating him, wrongfully accusing and convicting him and others so that the communist regime may do what it pleased and that sick “pleasure” was in mass killings of Croats who fought for independence as well as women and children and the elderly.

Hence, I have here transcribed an article from the renowned newspaper The Scotsman, drawn to my attention by Dr Esther Gitman, the historian who has performed thorough research about Stepinac’s many activities in rescuing Jews, Serbs and others from sure death in the whirlwind of political and aggressive madness of WWII. 

The Scotsman (1921-1950); Oct 18, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Scotsman

pg. 4

“An Archbishop in the dock

Trial of the Yugoslav Primate

By Patrick Maitland

“To reaffirm faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and value of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women,” the United Nations signed the San Francisco Charter.

The above is the phrase in the Charter Preamble, to which Mr Dean Acheson, Acting U.S. Secretary of State, called attention last weekend with reference to the Zagreb trial of Monsignor Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb and Catholic Primate of Yugoslavia, on seven counts. “It is the civil liberties part of the thing which causes us concern,” he said.

The Archbishop was sentenced to sixteen years hard labour on charges of collaboration with the puppet Croat regime of the Ustashi leader, Pavelic, during the war, of responsibility for compelling Serbs, members of the Orthodox Church, to become Roman Catholics; of becoming Chaplain-General to the puppet Croat Army; of conspiring with Dr Matchek, the (now-exiled) leader of the Croat Peasants’ Party, with General Mihailovitch and others; and of issuing a pastoral letter on the eve of the Yugoslav  general elections last year, “falsely depicting the state of affairs in Yugoslavia and encouraging the Ustashi and other traitors to commit further crimes.”

 Mr Dean Acheson’s comment said the worrying aspects raised questions “as to whether the trial has any implications looking toward impairment of freedom of religion and of worship”; and he pointed out that, for example, the Supreme Court of the United States had always set aside as illegal all trials “in Courtrooms dominated by feelings adverse to the defendant by demonstrations of prejudice.”

No transcript of the trial has yet reached Britain, and one is eagerly awaited, for not only has the judgment provoked the first excommunication of the head of a State in more than a century, but this is the first occasion within recent years when an Archbishop has been brought before a lay court and so condemned on what amount of political charges.

The trial comes at a time when the world is looking for implementation of the Four Freedoms which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and when the Nuremberg Tribunal has set an all-time model for the dispensation of justice without prejudice.

TENDENTIOUS REPORTS

In the absence of a full report on the trial, it is worth noticing that agency reports from the Courtroom, and the reports issued by Tanjug, the Yugoslav official news agency, paint a fairly consistent picture. The Associated Press reported that a number of witnesses desired by the defence were never called. And the Archiepiscopal defendant was only one of several. It was a collective trial after the manner of that of General Mihailovitch whereat, also, the calling of a number of witnesses desired by the defence was ruled out of order.

The Tanjug reports would have brought an instant writ for contempt if they had been published in Great Britain during a British trial. Here are some excerpts: The defendants’ “witnesses mostly discredited the intention of defence counsel by the contradictory testimony … they were nonplussed when the Public Prosecutor proved” &c.: “Stepinac declared he did not want to answer questions put to him, in the first place in connection with the proofs of his criminal activities”; of a reference by the defence to alleged forced conversions: “Here Stepinac is using sophistry and verbalism … He did not speak of his Ustashi activity.”

Another day Tanjug incorporated into its report the phrases: “Despite all the proofs piled up against him” and made this reference to the “Caritas” organisation: “although it had been proved that the society was a lair of robbery.” Again: “The Judge dealt with Stepinac’s anti-national activities just before the liberation.”

No matter how grave the charges, the mere incorporation of these and kindred phrases in the report of the official news agency tends to bear out the implication of Mr Dean Acheson’s suspicion that the atmosphere in which the trial was conducted was hostile to the defendant.

ARCHBISHOP’S SPEECH

Mgr. Stepinac’s speech in defence has not been published abroad, save a few short phrases. It is fair to conclude that the foreign correspondents covering the trial, especially American correspondents writing for a Press which must cater for a considerable Catholic readership, tried to report this. The obvious conclusion is that the censor interfered. The Vatican organ. Osservatore Romano, however, clearly obtained at least some passages of the Archbishop’s speech, for it was able on October 5 to reproduce the following passage: –

“You speak of liberty and of religion in Yugoslavia and you say there is more liberty in the country than ever before. I reply that a great number of priests have been killed. You could have arrested them, but you have not the right to put them to death. The people of the country will never forget this. There has never been a greater scandal. Not a single bishop, not a single priest in the country knows in the morning if he will see the light of the next dawn. You ask for our loyalty and we ourselves are obliged to ask you to respect the least of our rights.”

That passage, coupled with those cited above from Tanjug account, give some idea of the tense atmosphere of the whole proceedings and how the trial was principally a test of political loyalties. While the trial was in progress the Press was forbidden to refer to any of Mgr. Stepinac’s deeds during the enemy occupation, when he is known to have given asylum to refugees of every race and creed who approached him. Among them were members of the present Government. Jews, Orthodox Serbs, Moslems, were repeatedly saved from death by his direct intervention. This much is known.

But the extent of the Archbishop’s personal popularity in Croatia can possibly be gauged from the fact that throughout the trial, the Zagreb churches were packed with people praying for him, and on October 2 the civil authorities banned assemblies of more than five persons outside any church. The ban is reminiscent of those attempted by Pavelich regime when, during the occupation, the Archbishop’s fiery denunciation of Nazi tyranny drew such crowds that he was compelled to preach from outside his Cathedral instead of within it.

“FORCED CONVERSIONS” 

Of the charges laid against the Archbishop, several are unsavoury. The most disagreeable was clearly the allegation that he had encouraged, or at the very least consented to, “forced conversions”. That many thousands of Orthodox Serbs living in Croatia were, in fact, compelled to join the Roman Catholic Church there is virtually bo doubt. But there is doubt about the nature of the force used. And a revealing letter reached the writer a few weeks ago from a Zagreb Serb giving a version hitherto unknown in this country. According to this source, the Pavelich regime issued decrees instituting certain civil disabilities for Orthodox, Jews and Protestants. The decrees constituted an inducement to the careless to abandon their church allegiance and join the Catholic Church with menial reservations.

This letter explains that the Orthodox Serbs of Croatia are actually deeply grateful to the Archbishop because he revised the formularies to which it is customary for a convert to assent in such a way as to make this nominal transfer of loyalty easier and less humiliating to those making the change from motives of security. To such folk, this writer asserts, the Catholic Archbishop was a hero and a protector.

This letter is not mentioned in any attempt to whittle away the evil of the practices which went on in outlying parts. In many parts of Bosnia the procedure was horrible and degrading. But the Archbishops defence has not been heard by the outside world, and this surprising tribute has been written from the centre of the crimes with which he was charged. It nay be worth adding that the Archbishop has been personally known to the writer over a period of years, and has always appeared a man of such deep sincerity that the charge of approving forced conversions would, on the face of it, seem monstrous.

A significant feature of the trial was the white heat of the propaganda with which it was surrounded. The writings and public statements made during the Mihailovitch trial are pale by comparison. The campaign was inaugurated by Marshal Tito hikself in a speech st Split on July 27. “All traces of an artificially produced dissatisfaction (with the regime) emanate from under the cassock,” he said. “To-day, sundry saints and miracles have come to the fore. Now what miracles do we need? We shall create these miracles ourselves by our own labour. Our people are no longer so stupid as to be duped by tales about saints and miracles. Let the saints remain in their churches where they belong.”

POLITICAL MOTIVE    

But the motive again and again appears to be political. For in another speech a few days later Marshal Tito revealed to this matter: “There are in Croatia, Serbia, and in other parts of the country priests among those men who are spreading discord among the people … Only a small part of the Catholic clergy goes with the people to-day; a far greater part goes against the people … They have again begun to spread hatred among Serbs and Croats.”

Reports which have lately reached London through uncensored channels – there is now a fairly steady flow of visitors moving back and forth – bring out a particular feature of the present situation. On the one hand, what the Serbs call the “repovi” – the “tails” of Yugoslavia – are generally speaking satisfied with the new regime. There is little talk of discontent in Slovenia, which is in a fair way to acquiring fresh territory in Venezia Giulia, and which is hopefully looking forward to the presentation of a formal claim to incorporate the Klagenfurt area of Carinthia.

The Montenegrins have little to complain of for they played a leading part in the National Liberation Movement from the start and have in general received a heavy share of the good jobs. The Macedonians in the South have won local home rule, and at least till lately enjoyed considerable freedom to defy the orders of Belgrade. Bosnia and Herzegovina have been flattered, likewise, with a degree of home rule. But from throughout Serbia and Croatia, which together must form the kernel of the newly federated State, constant if inarticulate opposition is reported.

It is purely a surmise, but available evidence and many straws in the wind suggest it, that the overall purpose of the Zagreb trial was to whip up Serb hatred against Croats – the cardinal weakness of the pre-war kingdom which enabled the dictatorship to prolong its tyrannical power.

Ina Vukic

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