Croatian Antifascists deny the Victims of post-WWII “Croatian Holocaust” the dignity of remembrance

Saturday February 18 dawned cloaked in horribly and utterly immoral, inhumane, distressing colours for much of Croatia.

Ivan Fumic, the president of the association of Croatian World War II antifascists (Communists) announced that the association’s executive committee will put a motion to the Croatian Parliament to cease sponsoring the annual commemorative event that pays tribute to the victims of the May 1945 Bleiburg (Austria) massacres.

Transcript from Croatian TV newsreel above (2007): “celebrations of victory by the antifascist coalition of Yugoslavia in WWII also had its dark side. After the surrender of the armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia and a multitude of civilians at the Bleiburg field in Austria on 15th May 1945 bloody revenges followed against disarmed soldiers, civilians and even women and children. The actual number of victims has not to this day been confirmed. Some estimates say that the Partisans, in their revengeful madness murdered between 40 and 70 thousand Croatians. Others mention 200 thousand. Responsibility for the Bleiburg murders and victims goes all the way to the military and political leadership of the Communist Yugoslavia. Although the Third Reich surrendered on 8th May the agony of the Croatian army lasted another seven days. The Ustashi leadership had in the end of the war decided to withdraw into Austria and surrender to the West. According to the testimony of General Patrick Scott 200,000 Croatian soldiers and 500,000 refugees fled towards Bleiburg in the hope that the British would take them under protection. But instead of protecting them the British handed them over to Tito’s army. Croatian regular army surrendered itself in accordance with the war regulations, awaiting the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions. Instead of salvation in the West for many it meant going into death. Victims fell individually and in large groups in various places; near Maribor, at Kocevski Rog, in Maceljska forest and many pits along the path of prisoners’ way of the cross there remain many graves with tens of thousands of killed Croatians. Even today the bones of the murdered are being discovered. One day trials followed against the army and government officers, which regularly ended with a death sentence. During those painful days of cruel revenge only Zagreb’s Archbishop Stepinac openly protested against the bloody persecutions. The truth about Bleiburg as a symbol of Croatian victims and division was hidden for decades, only after the fall of the Communist regime the victims are afforded appropriate tribute and the greatest one is at the Bleiburg field.

J. Ivan Prcela (historian, survivor of the Croatian way of the cross associated with Bleiburg massacres, author of book “Operation Slaughterhouse) has from Cleveland USA, February 17, written an Open letter to the Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, asking him when he will apologise for the victims of Tito’s (antifascist/ Communist) mass murders. This letter followed soon after Josipovic visited Israel and apologised for the victims of Jasenovac concentration camp.

Prcela, as historian and witness/survivor of post WWII Communist crimes, says in that letter: “You, president, just like your predecessor Stipe Mesic, fall for the Serbian-Jewish lies and astronomical numbers about the so-called Holocaust in Jasenovac. As a historian and surviving victim of the only too horrible Croatian holocaust am abhorred at those lies and ceaselessly point my finger, showing that Jasenovac hides masses of murdered Croatian war prisoners. These murdered wretches were taken straight to Jasenovac on trucks from Slovenia and Croatian regions and buried around there – to ‘prove’ the crimes of the Croatian Ustashe. Those lies and astronomical numbers of Ustashi crimes are recorded in the Yad Yashem in Jerusalem! Without any fear, about a month ago, I have warned Jerusalem’s newspapers and dr Efraim Zuroff, the spreader of those and many other lies, all at the expense of the defenders of the Independent State of Croatia.” 

To apologise for crimes is to be human, normal and considerate. Numbers of victims of crimes are not important here for even a single murder is horrible and must be condemned and punished. It is a profound tragedy though, that no one has yet apologised for the mass murders of Croatians by the antifascists/Communists after WWII.

To rub salt into this wound the antifascist association of Croatia now wants to remove the significant part of dignity from the Bleiburg commemorations that its government had afforded them via parliamentary sponsorship for years. The cruelty that antifascists showed in the days after WWII has not, it seems, mellowed. If anything, it’s become more vicious.  Is it because it’s attempting to, in any-which-way, thwart the process of bringing the perpetrators of Communist crimes to justice? Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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