Croatia: a hostage of WWII history or…?

Croatian Homeland War Memorial Medal

Friday 13 July article by Zeljko Jurjevic “ The Homeland war is a shrine and it cannot be in the shadows of Ustashe, Partisans, and various (Radimir) Cacic’s and (Stjepan) Mesic’s …”  points to the issue that there are groups (in Croatia) in whose interests it is for Croatia to be seen as a country still preoccupied with World War II Ustashe and Partisans. The article leads one to see that turning to history is an easy way out from having to deal with the reality of the economic crisis. At the same time, Jurjevic, points out, Croatian Homeland War is being muddied and its veterans losing out on the deserved place in society. Jurjevic asserts that Croatia is a hostage of its WWII history and that this is not as harmless as it may appear.

No, it’s not as harmless as it may appear. It’s not just political spin to “mark the time”. It is the WWII Partisans’ descendants or sympathisers’ vessel through which they attempt to claim total credit for today’s independent and democratic Croatia.

Croatia’s Homeland War (1991 – 1995) is the foundation of today’s independent and democratic Croatia.

Because today’s Croatia was created with almost equal participation of the descendants of WWII Home Guards (politically neutral for much of WWII until they were forced to either join Ustashe, join Partisans, or die), Ustashe (fascists, pro-Nazi) and Partisans (communists, some were antifascist) Croatia simply cannot desert this history, leave it to historians without delivering justice for all the victims of all crimes committed during and after WWII.

Today’s Croatia was created (during 1990’s) by the unity of all Croatians, those that lived in Croatia and those that lived abroad, by the politically and historically right-winged, left-winged and neutral, descendants of WWII Ustashe, Home Guards and Partisans – equally! Only through such a marvelous unity was Croatia able to come out victorious against the manifold militarily stronger Serb aggressor.

There’s almost a relentless plight – at times reminiscent of a desperate cry – to have the importance of Croatian Homeland War veterans and defenders elevated to their rightful place of deservedness. Their love and dedication to the freedom and self-determination of Croatian people, more often than not, become marred by the woes of WWII history: Ustashe vs Partisans. The advocates of communist Partisans wickedly and unjustifiably equate the latter with the Homeland War veterans.

There lies the bone of great discontent, and the compelling reason why WWII communist crimes must be prosecuted.

In recent years, in Croatian media, a good number of journalist analyses and statements by various politicians (usually left oriented) have “urged” that “Croatia must move on, leave the history to historians, etc.”

Suffice to say that most of such “outbursts” have been closely associated with events that pointed to heinous crimes against Croatian people committed by the communist totalitarian regime of Josip Broz Tito (former Yugoslavia).

While Croatian people of all walks of life condemn the crimes committed by the pro-Nazi Ustashe regime of the Independent State of Croatia/NDH, when it comes to the crimes against humanity committed by communist Partisans, the pro-communist lot hails them as actions of justified revenge!

Of course, even a blind and politically ignorant individual can see that Croatia’s so-called antifascists (communists) hide the crimes of their predecessors by emphasising those of WWII Ustashe.

This is, all will agree, wrong.

Then, there’s a notion circling around in some loud circles that if Croatia processed and condemned communist crimes, Croatia would be left without any “goodness” in its people; that goodness of today’s Croatia comes from antifascists/communists.

What a load of garbage!

Leftists maintain (wrongly) that if it weren’t for antifascism there would be no modern, independent and democratic Croatia today!

The only way Croatia will lose its “goodness” is if it doesn’t prosecute communist crimes. Because of the WWII widespread Nazi crimes the whole of Germany had once been condemned and yet, it stands proud now, it has moved on a long time ago because no stone had been left unturned when it came to crimes committed against humanity during WWII.

In that respect Germany was the lucky country. It got closure for the victims of Nazism, however painful for some die-hards that closure might have been.

Croatia, would not be a lucky country in the decades following WWII – the ruling communists made sure that crimes committed by their echelons do not end up in the same dark social dungeons as those committed by the Ustashe.

Unlike for Germany, unlike for Ustashe, many WWII crimes committed in Croatia by communists still remain unpunished.

Neither communism nor fascism brought anything good to Croatian people. Both were one-party totalitarian regimes that persecuted those with opposing views.

There’s renewed glorification in Croatia of the former communist system and its ideologist Josip Broz Tito.  Various groups take advantage of the current economic crisis and say that life used to be better under the Serbo-Chetnik Yugoslavia that mercilessly persecuted Croatian people.

This too, is another angle in the pro-Communists’ attempts to evade the destiny of having communist crimes prosecuted. It is an established fact that from 1945 – the day WWII ended – Yugoslav (including Croatian) antifascism/communism became a criminal, anti-Croatian, Serbo-Yugoslav system for the persecution and genocide over Croatians. There has been no regime in history that murdered so many Croatians as did the Yugoslav communist regime under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito.

It is an absolutely undisputable fact that, in 1991, 94% of Croatian voters voted for independence from communist Yugoslavia, voted for democracy and self -determination. That fact in itself speaks clearly that the Croatian people were fed-up, to say the least, with oppressive Yugoslavia.

It is an undisputed fact that descendants of all WWII sides created today’s Croatia. Everyone who participated and contributed to the great freedom and democracy must be hailed a hero. That is what happens in every civilised world.

But, how can descendants of some be branded less worthy than others, because of their historical bloodlines! The descendants of fascists cannot allow the descendants of communists to steal all the blissful thunder of the cries for freedom and the struggle for freedom from early 1990’s. This is particularly so because the descendants of fascists know that the descendants of communists committed terrible crimes that have gone unpunished.

While the descendants of all WWII sides cannot be held responsible for the deeds of their ancestors, they must be held responsible to reconcile history. They must bring justice to those victims of crimes who have been forgotten and who have had no closure for their suffering (victims of communist crimes) which would allow them to move on, leave history to historians.

So, Croatia is not a hostage to WWII history. On the contrary, Croatia is struggling to rectify history and bring all to their deserved place. It only seems as if there’s a hostage-of-history situation in Croatia but the bottom line is the one being frantically drawn by the tactics of communist sympathisers whereby they do not want prosecution and condemnation of communist crimes.

Croatia will, in many ways, be a poor country if the shaping of its future solely depends on the descendants of criminals who got away (from justice)! This goes for corruption, as well as for WWII and post-WWII crimes. Ina Vukic, prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian War Veterans: Conditions for prosecution of Communist Crimes exist

Association “Testament”

The Association “Testament” Zagreb (Association of Croatian war veterans from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Diaspora) has July 10 sent a letter to Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic.

I consider the letter most revealing of the repugnance many feel in the political climate of Croatia where the leftist president and the government take every opportunity to justify communist crimes and equate WWII communist partisans with the defenders of 1990’s Homeland War, the most deserving people in the creation of independent Croatia.

The War Veterans association also believes that the conditions for the processing of communist crimes have been created in Croatia. I, for one, am so pleased to read that and trust significant progress will ensue.

Translation into English of the letter:

In regard to your statement at the celebration of Antifascist battles and the formation of the First Partisan detachment, in Brezovica forest, 22nd June 2012, in which you said that ‘Partisans from 1941 were the same as the Croatian defenders of 1991’, we feel the need to react and turn to you and to the whole of the Croatian public.

It’s true that 1941 Partisans rose against Fascism and Nazism, and we condemn those systems as well. But the Bolshevik Communists took advantage of the Partisan movement and, under the mask of antifascism and battle for Yugoslavia, created a new totalitarian system – criminal, undemocratic communist system, that lasted until the first democratic elections of 1990. We do not want to hear that the foundation for creating today’s state of Croatia was the ‘Partisan’ battle that created one undemocratic state of Yugoslavia. Croatian war veterans wish to promote the truth about the Homeland war and about the creation of Croatian state, and in this we do not consider as the truth those statements claiming that Croatia arose on foundations of Partisan battles and how there would be no Croatia if there were no Partisan movement.

The facts are that the Communists, through the Partisan movement, led by Marshall Josip Broz Tito – who has been counted among the 10 worst world criminals -purposefully committed enormous crimes against Croatian people. Those same Communists had between 1941 and 1990 murdered and persecuted Croatian children, women, sons, fathers and innocent priests like the Blessed Aloysius Stepinac. They persecuted and imprisoned patriots and all others who weren’t like-minded, and especially those who proudly nurtured a national identity and protected national interests, particularly those who aspired to creating a sovereign Croatian state.

Croatian defenders rose to defend their homeland against the aggressor who wore the red star on their cap, which you called ‘lovely’, the same as the Partisans wore in 1941. Those same aggressors devastated the hero city of Vukovar, Skabrnja, Dubrovnik and a large part of the Republic of Croatia. Croatian defenders fought against the red star, and you equate and identify us with them.

Mr President, do not also equate antifascist partisans (whose battles we respect) with the communist partisans because they fought for different goals and had different ideologies and visions for a future state.

Croatian war veterans created Croatia, courageously fighting with the Croatian coat of arms on their foreheads, under the Croatian flag, with rosary-beads around their necks, led by Dr. Franjo Tudjman who was a Partisan general and a true antifascist. When in the former state (Yugoslavia) he spoke about the idea and the aspiration of the people for independence, he was marginalised, persecuted and imprisoned by the system created by Tito’s communist. After the liberating Operation Storm and after other military actions the Croatian war veterans did not murder aggressor army captured soldiers, members of paramilitary formations or cevilians of Serbian nationality. On the contrary, the Serbian aggressors murdered and banished thousands of civilians and defenders, and took them to camps across Serbia. Tito’s partisans had along the Way of the Cross and Bleiburg murdered thousands of unarmed captured soldiers and civilians.

Mr President, do not continue in the tracks of the former president of the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, who justifies the crimes against Croatian people at Bleiburg with the thesis that Ustashe also committed crimes and so there was a need to take revenge upon tens of thousands of innocent Croatian civilians.

We also consider as incorrect and unfounded the statements that Croatian army committed aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary HV (Croatian Army) and HVO (Croatian Defence Council) had in 1995 liberated Bosnia and Herzegovina and brought peace to that area. Handing over the transcripts with “state secret” stamp on them to foreign intelligence services, the former president Mesic betrayed the whole of the Croatian nation and Croatian national interests. He spent a large part of his presidential mandate on muddying president dr. Franjo Tudjman and in underrating his contribution in the creation of the Republic of Croatia. Croatians have condemned that and today, Stjepan Mesic is on the social and political margins.

The Croatian war veterans (defenders) are deeply offended by your comparison with the Partisans. Today, Croatian defenders are not interested in the Ustadshe or the Partisans. We condemn crimes committed by any side. It’s a historical fact that on 27 July 1941, at Srb (where you yourself visited, laying wreaths and giving tribute to the antifascist uprising), the armed Chetnik formation of 1000 Chetniks, under Đujić’s  leadership, joined by 60 Serbian communists, was founded. They committed enormous crimes when they murdered Croatian civilians. On 25th July 1990 an assembly was held at which the ‘Declaration of the sovereignty and autonomy of the Serbian people’ was made. Those people had on 17th August 1990 raised the ‘log’ revolution. (Blocking off Croatian Krajina as Serb territory within Croatia)

While on visit to Israel you vilified your own countrymen – to which you are the president – by stating that in Croatia an ‘Ustashe snake’ still exists, so that with your politics of flattery, like your predecessor Mesic, you could leave an impression of a just person.  You, yourself, know that after the war (WWII) and during the creation of Yugoslavia revenge against Croatian families who were not on the side of the communists continued, and in the way where even their grandchildren were persecuted. So, where is that ‘Ustashe snake’ coming from? We hold that a communist-UDBA (UDBA = Yugoslav Secret Police) snake exists in Croatia which has committed many murders of Croatians in Croatia and across the world for which they have never been held accountable. Today, all conditions to begin these processes have been created regardless of how much the protectors of these criminals are trying to ensure that it doesn’t come to that.

Finally, we must say that we have no prejudices nor need to distort the facts or customisation of history because our Homeland War was defensive and liberating. If there were individual crimes from our side we condemn them and wish that those who committed them to answer for them, and not for the honourable and innocent commanders, such as Generals Gotovina and Markac, to be interned in the Hague prison.

Mr Josipovic, you need to invest more efforts and energy to help their defence, and the defence of other war veterans such as Veljko Maric who has been convicted in the country that was the aggressor against Croatia. We expect from the president of our country to advocate for the defence of national values and the values of the Homeland War, in which Croatians, Bosniacs, Serbs and members of other nationalities participated. With this we want for Croatia to be a democratic country, arising from togetherness and reconciliation, which would cooperate with all surrounding countries in the future, but upon healthy foundations, and not upon lies, falsehoods and skewing of historical facts.

With respect,

Association ‘Testament’ City of Zagreb and Zagreb County Branch

President, Josip Vidovic

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic: will his metaphoric Ustashi snake divert attention from post-WWII Communist crimes

Cartoon: Ivo Josipovic and the Snake

When a Head of a country – a President – starts evoking a terrible long-gone past and resurrecting it, pinning it, maliciously, as active inclinations of today’s decent freedom loving citizens then we know that country is in danger of long-lasting disarray and disenchantment. This can no longer be seen as political rhetoric to win votes or political backing, but it must be seen as a blatant, vilifying attack on the decency of that whole country and a profound insult to fellow citizens at whom such resurrections of the past are directed.

It was February 2012 when Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic began using the word “snake” in talking about those members of the World War II Croatian society who participated in the Nazi/fascist driven extermination of Jews.

Of course, and in simple words but true, World War II Croatia was divided in the political loyalties’ sense just as a dysfunctional family might be today. There were those that joined the Ustashi/pro-Nazis, there were those who joined the Partisans/pro-Communists (pro-Yugoslavia) and there were those who joined neither.

Regardless of this, the world seemed to see mainly the Ustashi side of Croatia since WWII. This was undoubtedly due to the worldwide intense hunt for those who participated in the Holocaust exterminations and due to the task the Communist Yugoslavia placed upon itself: to destroy and vilify the Croatian name.

In February, when in Israel, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic requested forgiveness from Holocaust survivors in his address to the Knesset. “Some members of my nation worked to systematically destroy parts of humanity [in World War II],” Josipovic said. “We must look in our hearts, at the darkest stain in our history. We must know: The snake is weak, but it is still there.

And since we are at Jasenovac camp killings, I am truly and deeply disappointed (although not surprised) that Josipovic had not mentioned that Jasenovac camp remained open and operational well into 1948, under the Yugoslav communist rule. How many innocent, but anti-communist or anti-Yugoslav Croatians were murdered there between 1945 and 1948? That, I trust, despite the antifascist kicking and screaming, will be widely revealed and it will not constitute any revision of history but a correction of history to march the truth.

An extract from article on the Truth about Jasenovac in Fokus, 27 May 2005: “When Partisans took over Jasenovac, a large number of prisoners from the Way of the Cross ended up in there…at Gradina, in Partisan Jasenovac Croatians were killed! The largest cemetery is there! …the Partisans carried out mass slaughters there in 1945…

The very idea that in his speech in Israel Josipovic suggested that in Croatia today the political movement or program that resulted in the extermination of Jews during WWII is still active, albeit weak, is something that outraged me, and many, many people in Croatia. Simply because it is not true.

Then, in April 2012, expressing his gladness when the Government banned the International ultra-nationalist conference in Zagreb, Josipovic said: “And I, myself, was attacked when I concluded that the Ustashi snake exists, the snake is not widely accepted nor a part of our dominant culture and tradition, but we need to know that it exists and we need to be ready to react to it in an appropriate manner”.

He did not however move a finger to stop the antifascist rally in Zagreb at the same time, which basically ran amuck, ranting and raving about fascism that does not exist. But antifascists have a burning need to keep the idea of fascism alive, so that their heinous crimes against humanity of the era gone by get pushed into the background.

The open, public rhetoric such as the above from Josipovic should neither be accepted nor tolerated in Croatia. But, alarmingly, it is becoming more and more prevalent from the mouths of the governing coalition (former communists/antifascists) as well as the president.

It seems to have become a loud and brazenly insulting weapon the governing coalition and the president use in order to maintain divisions in society, in order to strengthen their power over people, in order to divert the population from the critical underperformance of economy they don’t seem to know how to move forward (apart from borrowing more money) and, I strongly believe, in order to put-up a fight against the trends in the condemnation and the processing of World War II Communist crimes.

Then on Sunday 22 April at the Jasenovac camp commemoration, after mentioning that the camp was run by the Ustashi, he said: “Often nothing is learned from tragic events because new movements emerge all the time that would want to trample on humanity, freedom and democracy. Often we can hear in the media those programs in which revisionists change history, wanting to change our future as well. But, our future will not change because Croatia has enough clever and honest people. Never again will Fascist, Nazi or Ustashi ideas pass in Croatia...”

Now, if I were a naïve bystander I would just move on and not think twice about what Josipovic said here. But I’m not naïve; I know too well that Josipovic and the Croatian governing coalition work from the platform built by communists who committed crimes against humanity in Croatia and Yugoslavia. The injustice is that the Ustashi were condemned and convicted for their crimes and the communists weren’t.

The cartoon of Ivo Josipovic and the Snake signifies the fact that the snake he says is still present in Croatia is a myth of his own creation,  just as snake-charming is.

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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