Croatia: Reconciliation Cannot Be Achieved With Denial Of Truth And Lacking Love For Nation Of People

Ina Vukic, August 2020

 

Many people are asking me these days what is the reaction of the Croatian diaspora to the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of victory in Knin on August 5.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, was neither visually nor morally nor truthfully a celebration of the great and deeply sacrificial victory over the brutal and obscene Serbian or Yugoslav aggressor! What that celebration was is a false picture of the truth and reality of that time and now!

During the Homeland War, Croats and anti-Croatian Serbs did not sit together in any rows, let alone in the front row of the battlefield, but on opposite sides. On one side, aggressive brutally murderous Serbs, and on the other side, Croats whose lives were endangered in the middle of that Serbian aggression.

Then in Knin on August 5, we saw and heard General Ante Gotovina who, without a shred, without a shred of shame or embarrassment, dishes out some lesson that discipline is needed in war and in peace! Of course, this mention of discipline certainly referred to the HOS (volunteer Croatian Defence Forces), whose defenders of the Homeland War and Operation Storm  were standing at that time on the streets of Knin during the celebration of Operation Storm with police threats directed at them. Because, you see, their slogan For Homeland Ready (Za Dom Spremni), which infused courage and determination for an independent Croatia, bothers the current government of the Republic of Croatia. This slogan was decisive in the defence of the Republic of Croatia, i.e. in the establishment of independence.

Then, General Gotovina, straight-faced, gave himself the right to speak about discipline, which in this case should surely keep HOS defenders, under police pressure and threats behind the lines, the police lines, while others, undeserving others, celebrated part if not the whole victory to which they contributed, to which HOS contributed and deserve to be a part of its celebrations.

So, I have never seen such perversion anywhere in the world. That something like this should happen, that the celebration of victory should be denied to those who contributed to that victory, in national defense or in national victory.

Perversion itself!

It is not just about discriminating against HOS defenders in this case, it is about perversion against the Homeland War, perversion against victory.

HOS Veterans denied access to celebrations
of Victory/ Operation Storm
in Knin, Croatia, 5 August 2020
Photo: Screenshot

And then so that this discrimination and perversion could become even stronger or better – worse! – at almost the same time not far from Knin in Grubori, the Croatian government, that is, Serbian politics in Croatia, organised a commemoration for victims of a crime against six Serb civilians that took place some three weeks after Operation Storm. The crime was committed by individuals who, in fact, with that act of crime violated the policy of the Croatian defence, the policy of Franjo Tuđman, the policy of Gojko Šušak, also now deceased. So, this commemoration in addition to the victory celebration in Knin was simply planned in order to diminish the value and the validity of the victory of Operation Storm. That’s why they sent Tomo Medved (Deputy Prime Minister) there. The appearance of Tomo Medved in Grubori at the commemoration for the victims of a crime committed by disobedient individuals who violated the policies and orders of the Croatian defence. This appearance by Tomo Medved there undoubtedly symbolises also that the top of Croatia wants to attribute this crime committed by individuals to the overall Croatian defence in the Homeland War. And that is nothing else but an another step in equalising the victim and aggressor in the Homeland War.

So, a perversion, perversion which I and I believe many others have not experienced before.

What courage against the Croatian people!

But, all this said, Croatian diaspora was before the Homeland War, during the Homeland War and after the Homeland War “For Homeland Ready” and for God and Croatia,  democratic Croatia, ready!

Some will say that by organising the celebration of 25th Anniversary of the magnificent victory over the brutal Serb aggressor in Knin at almost the same time they organised the commemoration for the victims of crime against six Serb civilians that occurred in the nearby village of Grubore, three weeks after the victorious Operation Storm, is good for reconciliation! Well, my professional opinion derived from my substantial training and experience as a Psychologist, tell me that nothing can be further from the truth. Firstly, the killing of the six Serb civilians occurred on 25 August 1995, twenty days after this Serb-occupied Croatian territory was liberated by Operation Storm, and the commemoration should have been planned for that date! Secondly, the ICTY Appeals Tribunal (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) in the Hague had, in its Judgment in the Gotovina & Markac case, in November 2012, stated that “the state and military leadership had no role in their planning and creation” of this crime. So, why join the commemoration for these victims with the glorious victory of Operation Storm!? Utter perversion and political manipulation in the lame efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Serb aggressor and Croatians whom they attacked, perhaps? But here is the reality: one cannot achieve reconciliation through the denial of truth nor through lacking love for one’s people! And the current government with its Serb minority elected coalition clearly possess both of these characteristics that are not reconciliation-friendly: denial of truth and lacking love for the Croatian nation. Ina Vukic

Below is the video in the Croatian language with English subtitles that I have made with the above record of distressing happenings in Croatia around the celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of Operation Storm. Please visit!

 

The Killing of “For Home And Country”

HOS Croatian defence forces formation insignia with “For Home Ready” slogan

The pursuits of “forget the past, turn to the future” within Croatia’s halls of power have for at least two decades echoed ad nauseam. This past particularly being that of WWII past and post-WWII past – the conflicting coexistence of independent Croatia fighters (Ustase) and those who fought to keep Croatia as part of Yugoslavia (Communists). One would have thought that the 2017 creation of the Council for Dealing with Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes,  sparked into being by the politically leftist or pro-communist driven controversy of the slogan “Za Dom Spremni” (For Homeland Ready) behind which slogan stood all fighters for Croatian independence, old and new, would actually deviate potential political earthquakes from political to historical level.

No such fortune in Croatia – regretfully.

The Council was created to work out a response to the question of how to deal with the enduring legacy of Croatia’s 20th Century non-democratic regimes: the WWII Ustasa movement with its legacy, albeit unrealised on a lasting level, of Independent State of Croatia, NDH, and socialist Yugoslavia, led by the League of Communists.

The starting point is a clean break from all totalitarianism,” said Andrej Plenkovic, the prime minister in Croatia’s centre-right government said then in March 2017.

Those that want Croatia to become a truly functional democratic state that has well and truly rid itself of persistent and utterly damaging communist mindset rightly expected that the year zero of Croatian modern state, will be and remain the beginning of the Homeland war (1990).

But, such deserved expectations have proven to be painfully in vain. The Council has last week made recommendations for legal amendments that the salute “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) be made illegal but to allow the exceptional use of the ‘Za dom spremni’ when for instance marking anniversaries of 1990’s military units who used that slogan as part of their insignia during the Homeland War.

The Council failed to make recommendations that the communist Red Star be banned!

The current war for memory is a war for a dominant reading of the past – the tip of a very large iceberg, that has been standing in the way of Croatian “national reconciliation”. Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president, juggled between the Red and the Black past of the WWII Croatia mobilising popular support for the independence from Yugoslavia. Today, Tudjman’s HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union Party) and its political leadership are pretending to seek heritagisation of his legacy, and emulate his methods in using the present to pacify the tensions from the past. So far, that unifying force that prevented further excursions into the past was a societal consensus on the Homeland war (1991-1995). Next to that, the EU future of the country – backed by all major political parties – was meant to bring Croatia closer to the West, and farther from the Balkans. Yet, after EU accession the country struggles in finding its own place in the family of European peoples, but also in leaving the past behind.

It fought a bloody defence from Serb/communist Yugoslavia aggression in early 19990’s, in Homeland War to leave the past behind and yet the powers that be keep churning up new ways to keep the past alive.

The Council’s failure to address the Red Star, communist totalitarian regime’s insignia in the same way as it treated the WWII salute used by the NDH devotees spells unrest and strangles any chance of true progress with Croatian national state reconciliation. It failed miserably at setting Croatia’s modern history right. It failed to direct the torchlight of a democratic future Croats fought for in 1990’s against communists and communist Yugoslavia aggression.

It failed to recognise and acknowledge the plight of the massive Croatian diaspora for true freedom from communist totalitarianism, which drove them away from Croatia post-WWII!

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic first mentioned setting up the Council for Dealing with Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes (totalitarian regimes) in December 2016 during a row over a plaque with ‘Za dom spremni’ installed in Jasenovac as a mark of the area where where a number of Croatian fighters were brutally murdered by the Serb aggressor in early 1990’s, situated near the site of the WWII concentration camp, where Jews, Serbs, Roma and Croatian anti-fascists were killed between 1941 and 1945.

Andrej Plenkovic made no mention at the time of the even more horrific and numerous communist crimes during the era and and the need to deal with those. That certainly send uneasy, fretting messages to all who had hoped that the Council would deal equally with the insignia and symbols of both WWII NDH and communist Yugoslavia.

They were right to fret for last week’s decision by the Council stinks with communist power still on the loose in Croatia.

Former communists did not want an independent Croatia, did not fight for it in any decisive or significant way but usurped the victory of others over communism to hold onto the idea that communism was somehow responsible for Croatia’s freedom and democracy! A revolting state of affairs. Utterly disregarding the horrors of the communist totalitarian regime.

After the final meeting of the Council last Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a press conference along with the president of the council, Zvonko Kusic, who is also the president of Croatian Academy Sciences and Arts.

Since the issue of the work of this Council was related to the concrete case of the HOS plaque, it’s clear… that this chant on that plaque is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, there is no dilemma there. But [Kusic] also acknowledged the fact that under strictly prescribed conditions it could be used in exceptional situations,” Plenkovic said, completely bypassing the fact that in announcing the formation of the Council in March 2017 an expectation was created to deal with symbolism of totalitarian regimes in general, not just the HOS (Croatian defence forces) memorial plaque in Jasenovac.

He rejected journalists’ suggestions that the government is not condemning the legacy of the Ustasa regime, but added that this refers to “a completely different context” – the use of the chant by the HOS in the 1990s war.

“‘Za dom spremni’ on the HOS’s coat of arms can be used only exceptionally, only in relation to those situations, sites or cemeteries, where HOS members were killed. This permission does not change the conclusion that the slogan is unconstitutional,” Kusic said.

After Plenkovic’s comment in March 2017 that the point of establishing the Council was to make “a clean break from all totalitarianism”, media have speculated about whether it would suggest a ban on both ‘Za dom spremni’ and the Communist red star, which was used by the Yugoslav anti-fascist Partisans and the Yugoslav People’s Army.

The European Court of Human Rights in 2008 ruled in favour of a Hungarian politician, Attila Vajnai, who was handcuffed and sentenced to a year’s parole in 2003 for wearing a red star, saying the ban violated his freedom of expression.

The ECHR established that the red star is still a symbol of the international workers’ movement and the fight for a more just society, as well as a legitimate symbol of the left that it used by some political parties in Europe.

Kusic also said on Wednesday that the red star and other symbols of Communism carry both positive and negative connotations, and that the link to the anti-fascist struggle is “undisputable”, but lawmakers can decide if some Communist symbols incite violence or hatred.

But Kusic conveniently disregarded the 2012 Knin, Croatia, court decision that ruled that the salutation “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home – Ready) has been known throughout the whole of the Croatian history, from the times of Nikola Subic Zrinski (1556 – 1566), and as such it does not signify any so-called “Ustashe attribute” with which it is burdened. 

No doubt about it – lustration at all levels is called for. Otherwise not only will love for free Croatia perish completely under the communist thumb but with it all dignity for the humanness and justice in the “For Home and Country” mindset known and cherished always by those of the West whose democracies have developed exactly because of it. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

Cruel Irony Afflicts Unveiling Of Monument To Croatian Freedom Fighter

Defending “For Home Ready” greeting
Zagreb, Croatia, 11 November 2017
Photo: Screenshot

It is a cruel insult and cruel irony that on Armistice Day, 11th November, when World War I allies mark with respect and piety those who gave their lives for freedom and their emblems, police authorities in Zagreb, Croatia, go about disrupting remembrance gathering organised for the unveiling of the monument to the legendary Zarko Manjkas – Crvenkapa, who lost his life defending Vukovar and freedom for Croatia in November 1991, and attempt to seize the HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag under which Crvenkapa fought and died. The monument itself does not have the HOS emblem under which Crvenkapa lost his life fighting, which is a sad and utterly unjust consequence of current push in Croatia to declare the “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) illegal. The HOS emblem itself and the flag carrying it are protected under the Croatian law. On it, the salute “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) is written and the process to render this salute illegal is already in train as the left-leaning lot carrying political and power clout wrongfully place its origins in WWII fight for Croatian independence.

Just imagine a Britain, or any Allied country, today where the salute and greeting “For Home and Country”, or similar WWI or WWII salutes across the Allied world, were threatened with bastardisation and extinction! The protests would be as fierce as defending freedom from aggression were.

It was such an uplifting feeling to watch Croatia’s brave young, many of whom are children or grandchildren of those who gave their lives for Croatia’s independence, fiercely and determinately hold their stead, refusing to budge to the police pressure to remove the HOS with “Za Dom Spremni” salute from sight at the unveiling of monument to Crvenkapa.

The words exchanged between a young lady holding the HOS flag, other young people there, and police as recorded on the video taken in Zagreb on Saturday 11 November at the unveiling of monument to the fallen HOS fighter for freedom are as follows:

Young man: “It’s a mistake for the man who got killed for Croatia as member of HOS … everyone here is bothered by the fact that the monument is missing the HOS emblem, because he died for that, in that unit.”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why we are here? To give honour to our killed Crvenkapa, keeping in mind that we are very saddened by the fact that there is no HOS emblem on the monument nor ‘For Home Ready’ sign that he proudly carried and under which insignia he was killed … What impression will the future generations have looking at this monument…that Croats respect their patriots, their defenders who gave their lives for Croatia …for the freedom of Croatia.”

Policeman: “Close the flag … you have breached the law”

Police try to remove legal Croatian army banner
Photo: Screenshot

Young lady holding HOS flag: “We have breached no law, this is a legal Croatian army flag…Manjkas died under this emblem on his cap and you did not put it on the monument … who is bothered by the emblem I don’t know…you cannot move a flag at the opening of a park dedicated to a HOS fighter …”

Jounalist to the young lady holding the HOS flag: “What do you say about being chased out from here?”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “What’s there to say! Do we live in a free a free Croatia, or is this still Yugoslavia? Do Chetniks (Serbs) rule over Croatia or, perhaps, Croats …let’s take authority into our own hands and free ourselves from the pests …” – “No, not a chance, no…this flag is legal Croatian army flag that created our State,” she replies as another policeman’s insistence that she takes the HOS flag down.

Second policeman: “Please, everything is alright, the flag is O.K., move the banner…”

Young lady holding HOS flag: “Why, why should the banner be taken down. We are trying to show a big mistake, a big injustice …”

Second young man: “This is persecution of Croatian defenders … this is not right… my father was in the 204th Vukovar brigade, he fought together with HOS, HOS carried its own insignia ‘Za Dom Spremni’ and HSP (Croatian Party of Rights) was written there …”

Policeman: “Move the banner! …” ( The banner had writing on it: “Who is bothered by the ‘For Home Ready’ greeting on Crvenkapa’s monument?”

Third policeman: “Young lady, let’s have a talk, come with me…come here…” Young lady holding HOS flag: “But why!? … OK…”

Journalist: “Why are you forbidding them…” he asks the policeman

Third policeman: “We are not forbidding anything …” he says as he lead the young lady holding the HOS flag to the side.

Zarko Manjkas Crvenkapa Monument
Zagreb, Croatia
Photo: afp

The police, despite trying very hard, did not manage to intimidate these young people insisting on showing the flag and banner under which members of HOS fought and died for independent Croatia. So proud! Make no mistake here – Croatian authorities and their pervasive communist mindset are attempting to kill the love for independent Croatia that carried its defenders into the bloody battles of Serb aggression during early 1990s. No different to oppression that was in communist Yugoslavia. How else could one interpret the intimidating police surges against the holding up of a legal banner!? Ina Vukic

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