Zvonimir Gavranovic – Bleiburg: Massacre of the Croatian People 1945

Zvonimir Gavranovic (centre) and part of audience present at the launch of his book “Bleiburg: Massacre of the Croatian People 1945” in Sydney, 11 October 2023 at Parliament House Photo: Ina Vukic

“This is a masterly book that can change lives. Zvonimir Gavranovic has spent a lifetime studying this and meditating on its wider meaning. His research is impressive, his findings are sure, and his application to everyday life is sound. He knows that nurturing hatred for wrongs done in the past is bad for you. Yet if he urges forgiveness, he does not want us to forget our bloody past. It is a nourishing book,” noted by Edmund Campion of Sydney on the back cover of the book “Bleiburg: Massacre of the Croatian People 1945” by Zvonimir Gavranovic.

Zvonimir Gavranovic with his latest book, October 2023. Photo: Ina Vukic

In the author’s words said on 11 October 2023 in The Parliament of New South Wales premises in Sydney, at the book’s launch, it took the best part of ten years to write this book titled “Bleiburg: Massacre of the Croatian People 1945” published by ATF Theology, Adelaide, Australia, 2023. But then, everything it seems points to the conclusion that the author, Father Zvonimir Gavranovic, a Catholic priest of Croatian roots ordained in 1972 and since then serving in various parishes in Sydney, doesn’t do things superficially or “by halves”. He is a thorough, caring, dedicated author who contemplates beyond the times his book is written and published in. It reportedly took him almost 20 years to research for and write his previous sell-out book “In search of Cardinal Stepinac: a complete biography” published 2014 by Kršćanska Sadašnjost, Zagreb Croatia. (As a reminder to readers of this article, in May 1943, Archbishop of Zagreb Alojzije Stepinac openly criticised the Nazis and put his own life in danger to save Jews and other ethnic groups facing peril. At the end of World War Two, on basis of false accusations drummed up by communist Yugoslavia authorities 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. He spent five years in the prison of Lepoglava, and in 1951, Josip Broz Tito`s communist government released him and confined him to his birth village of Krasic in Croatia. Even though he was forbidden by the government to resume his duties as Archbishop or priest for that matter, Stepinac was named Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953. Due to pain caused by the many illnesses he contracted while imprisoned, Cardinal Stepinac died in Krasic on February 10, 1960. In 1985, his trial prosecutor, high-level communist operator, Jakov Blazevic, admitted publicly that Cardinal Stepinac`s trial was entirely framed, 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, Croatia, Pope John Paul II beatified Cardinal Stepinac, and referred to him as one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church. In 2016, a Zagreb court overturned the verdict against Stepinac from 1946. The Canonisation process for Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac is still ongoing in the Vatican.)

Bleiburg: Massacre of Croatian People 1945

“The purpose of this book is to serve as a memorial: it speaks on behalf of all those who had their voices silenced by terror…” writes Zvonimir Gavranovic in the Introduction to his book.

Contrary to what the book’s title may suggest, this book does not wholly focus on 1945 and the events often referred to in historical studies as “The Bleiburg Massacres and Way of the Cross/ Death Marches of Croatian People” but in an ordered presentation lined with historical and historiographical accounts tells the entire history of Croatia, summarising its beginnings – traces within the ancient Roman Empire, the seventh century AD increased emergence of the establishment of Croatian peoples’ settlements, the glory of the Kingdom of Croatia (925 – 1102), centuries under Habsburg including Austro-Hungarian Empires foreign rule, the forced inclusion of Croatia into kingdoms (on the territory of former Yugoslavia) under the thumb of the Serbian Monarchy immediately after the First World War, the start of World War Two where communists fighting for retention of Yugoslavia fought against the Croatian independence movement and army right up to 1945. In all that history in this book the reader is briefly but strongly presented with individual Croatian leaders who throughout centuries of foreign rule and oppression fought for Croatian identity and independence; at times tragically losing their own life in the process and never, due to stronger opposing forces at play, successful to the end.  

Zvonimir Gavranovic, October 2023, photo by Ina Vukic

“Reading Chapter One of Croatian history between the seventh century and the beginning of the First World War the reader will come to realise that the Croatian and Serbian people had the best of relations for centuries. Problems started to develop after the two nations came to live together in what eventually became Yugoslavia. The biggest upheaval for the Croatian people as for all the Balkan nations was the Turkish invasions. The Turkish invasions greatly depleted the Croatian nation …” said Zvonimir Gavranovic at the Sydney launch of his book.

The Second Chapter the book deals with the creation of what later became the former Yugoslavia (ceased to exist in early 1990’s) after the First World War. In the first instance it was called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes under Serbian Monarchy and after the assassination of Croatian leadership in the parliament in Belgrade the chapter shows how tensions between Serbs and Croats grew much stronger and dictatorship from the Serb Monarchy continued ruthlessly, antagonism heightened as Serbian King in 1929 changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In this chapter the reader is introduced to how, amidst dictatorship, oppression, denial of human rights to Croats, political instability within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia – amidst the enormous political tensions withing Europe as a whole, during late 1920’s and the 1930’s, the Croatian Ustasha movement was formed (the movement that would in April of 1941 proclaim the Independent State of Croatia).

“It was in Britain’s interests to escalate the war. Its Secret Service worked with the Serbian nationalists headed by air force colonel Dusan Simovic to overthrow (Serbian) Prince Paul and his government; this coup took place at night of 26 March 1941, installing the teenage Peter as the new King with colonel Simovic and his ultra-nationalist Serbs running the country. As a result Germany invaded the country on 6 of April 1941. It was the beginning of enormous sufferings of people of Yugoslavia. It is true that between the 6th and 10th of April of 1941 the Croatian people overwhelmingly supported the creation of a Croatian state, which became known as an independent State of Croatia. The leadership of this puppet state hoped that Croatia like Denmark would be a haven of peace…Sadly it was not. Initially it was peaceful in the country but then disorder developed. There were five different armies roaming Croatia which at that time included Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Zvonimir Gavranovic at the book launch in Sydney.

The reader is then presented with the rise of Communism as well as the persecution of Serbs and Jews in the Nazi-occupied Independent State of Croatia and the work led by Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac in saving these lives and sufferings. It presents the details of Croatian government’s order of withdrawal of its army to southern Austria, close to the town of Beliburg, on 6 May 1945 when civilians went with them, with peace being declared in Europe on 8 May 1945 and on 15 May 1945 Croatian Army surrendered. The British Army handed them all to Josip Broz Tito and his communist Yugoslavia, who slaughtered them, with Chapters Four and Five of the book dealing with the chilling and brutal Croatian Death Marches where hundreds of thousands of Croats perished because they were anti-communism and anti-Yugoslavia, while Chapter Six addresses the suffering of the Slovene people during the Second World War whose thousands of Civil Defense personnel were also returned by the British from Bleiburg and slaughtered by Tito’s communist partisans. In the same chapter the reader will also find the suffering of the German people in former Yugoslavia, of whom barely 60,00 survived from 500,000 being there before the war. Also, the suffering of the Montenegrin peoples of former Yugoslavia can be found here.

Entitled “Graves and Burial Places” Chapter Seven of the book brings to us the destinies of those that were slaughtered by the communist Yugoslavia partisans and to this day graves and burial places are still being discovered in Slovenia and Croatia. The Chapter contains names and locations of several mass graves and pits but history so far records several hundreds of thousands slaughtered innocent Croats and just under 2000 mass graves of communist crimes victims so far found in Slovenia and Croatia, and while this book does not delve into numbers it is of interest to insert that detail here in order to gauge the significance of “Graves and Burial Places”

Photo by Ina Vukic/ Zvonimir Gavranovic, Bleiburg: Massacre of the Croatian People 1945

Juxtaposed portraits of Serbian King Alexander Karadjorjevic, Croatian WWII Dr Ante Pavelic and communist Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito on a large screen during the book’s launch in Sydney was an eye-opening and thought-provoking image. It signalled the nature of the content of the book’s Chapter Eight; which one of these three people is at fault for the massacre, for the suffering and slaughter of Croatian people in 1945.  

In Zvonimir Gavranovic’s own words: “King Aleksander headed a brutal regime and was behind the assassination of the Croatian political leadership in Belgrade Parliament in 1928, he suspended the constitution and imposed dictatorship in 1929…he greatly antagonised the non-Serb populations of the country as well as some sections of the Serbian population …his actions caused wounds under various nationalities of the former Yugoslavia that had not been healed yet (as WWII began). Then the British handed these soldiers and civilians to Tito’s partisans one week after peace was declared in Europe in May 1945. No one thought that the British sense of fairness would hand these people to the communist partisans. Dr Ante Pavelic and his government didn’t show leadership that required ordering thousands of soldiers and civilians into Southern Austria, uncertain of what lie ahead, his aim was to withdraw as many soldiers and civilians as possible with the hope that the British would accept them as prisoners of war and to hold onto the Geneva Conventions. Pavelic, therefore, bears enormous responsibility for what happened and that’s something that Croatian people must realise. I place Tito and the communist party that he led as most responsible. Communism has no concept of forgiveness and mercy. Tito was extremely brutal and in this we gain insight into his brutality. Tito was no Nelson Mandela. When Tito was alive, he was regarded as a great statesman, his funeral was watched by millions, but what kind of statesman is that with everything that one fights for, lives for, collapses ten years after one’s death…”

A very striking chapter of this book is its last one – Chapter Nine: Reconciliation, Forgiveness and Peace. Zvonimir Gavranovic says that for this chapter he drew strength from his own personal religious tradition, reconciliation process in Northern Ireland, the reconciliation of the Jewish and German peoples as well as the South African Truth Reconciliation Committee. Bringing the perpetrators and the victims together, the perpetrators acknowledging their crimes and asking for forgiveness is the only way forward according to the author of this book where he provides various examples of true and moving reconciliation across the world.

“The British establishment has not revealed all there is to be revealed, it kept it from the British public. People of Britain are unaware of what happened in Southern Austria one week after peace was declared in Europe in May 1945. My hope is that in 2045 the centenary of the end of Second World War in Europe there’ll be celebration in Europe commemorating the end of the war in Europe but hopefully one week later the Bleiburg field not only presidents of Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro but also Serbia and members of the British Royal Family will be commemorating what happened there a century before.”   

Zvonimir Gavranovic (L), Ina Vukic (R) at the book launch 11 October 2023, Parliament of NSW premises in Sydney, Australia

This 375-page book on Croatian history and wounds that have marked a suffering existence and perishing of the Croatian people particularly under the communist Yugoslavia regime is well worth the read and ownership. It will provide the reader with a wealth of insights into the history of suffering of Croatian people but also with insights into sufferings of other people and how reconciliation becomes the highest and the worthiest pursuit for human history and well-being.  Ina Vukic

Croatia: Yet Another New Mass Grave of Communist Crimes Victims Discovered

Covering up or largely ignoring communist crimes, that were above all – horrendous, is an assault on truth.

Pits and mass graves such as Jazovka in the Zumberak Mountains area (and there are more than 1400 so far discovered in Croatia since its secession from communist Yugoslavia) filled with skeletal remains, rusted wiring they were bound together with when dumped into the pits alive or dying from bullets or knife wounds and rotting attire of thousands of communist Yugoslavia crimes’ victims,  like so many other places where the partisans executed their crimes, was erased from history until the fall of the communist regime soon after Berlin Wall fall in 1989.

Jazovka pit is the symbol and definition of communist partisan brutality and crimes against patriotic Croats, those who wanted nothing to do with any form of Yugoslavia, just independence. On 15 May 1945, a week after the end of World War II, communist partisans took numerous wounded Croatian soldiers who fought for and independent Croatia from Zagreb’s hospitals and brought them to the psychiatric hospital in Vrapce on the outskirts of the Zagreb, an institution then run by the Sisters of Charity. Once there, all the prisoners were strangled or butchered in the basement of the hospital. After killing them, the partisans loaded the corpses into trucks and transported them to Jazovka and other mass graves. Three nuns, Sisters Geralda Jakob, Konstantina Mesar and Lipharda Horvat, witnessed the massacre. The communists saw the sisters and decided to murder them so that there would be no witnesses to the horrific crime. The three nuns, along with many others, were thrown into the Jazovka pit.

 Until 1989, under the communist Yugoslavia regime, mass graves and pits filled with victims of communist crimes were kept as buried secrets and nobody apart from communist party operatives and the perpetrators of those crimes knew anything about these massacres of Croatian people. In fact, it could be called genocide against a political will for freedom and independence. In 1989 Jazovka mass grave was rediscovered by a speleologist, Mladen Kuka, but the exhumation of the victims’ remains would not take place until July 2020, when the Croatian Veterans Ministry began work and determined that there were at least 814 skeletons at a depth of about 40 metres. The first victims were Croatian soldiers captured in January 1943 and executed by the partisans. In 1945, the partisans used the pit for victims from Zagreb hospitals: wounded prisoners, civilians, doctors, nurses, and Catholic nuns. Most were dead when they were thrown into the pit, but others were thrown in alive to die in terrible agony.

The officials of Gospic, a town in the mountainous and sparsely populated region of Lika in Croatia, announced late last week that the third phase of exhumation of the newly discovered remains of people killed in the Second World War at the Gospic cemetery officially ended on Friday 13 October 2023, and a total of 253 victims of partisan-communist crimes have been found there. This is the date that overlaps with the day of the victims of nearby Siroka Kula, brutally killed by Serb rebels on the ethnic cleansing spree on October 13, 1991 in the midst of Yugoslav Army and Serb aggression against Croatia as it pursued exit from communism and independence.

The mass grave at Ovcara, Vukovar, is also one of the most tragic reminders of the sufferings of the Croatian Homeland War when 200 wounded persons from Vukovar Hospital were taken away by Serbs and executed near the estate of VUPIK (Vukovar Agricultural Industrial Complex) at Ovcara. The first public insights into the occurrences near Ovcara were provided in October 1992 in the article published in Vjesnik entitled “The Wounded were Taken Away Through the Rear Exit” on the basis of the testimony of a survivor, later a prisoner who was exchanged in Nemetin in 1992. Similarities in the manner and cruelty of crimes committed by Yugoslav communists after WWII and Serbs during the 1990’s War are enormous, and I believe not coincidental at all – both hated Croats for asserting their independence and freedom.

The 253 newly found victim of communist crimes in the area of Gospic will, reportedly, be buried in a common grave, i.e. the ossuary where the other exhumed remains of communist partisan crimes were buried before. In agreement with the Ministry of Croatian Veterans, if time permits we will continue the exhumations in Ličko Osik and Musaluk this year, otherwise exhumations are already planned for April and May next year in the area of Gospic and Lika-Senj County, stated the Gospic Town officials last week. And these exhumed finds are one small stone in the mosaic of the Croatian demographic breakdown that is currently happening throughout Croatia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, we send the message: “May it never happen again!”

Considering the size and complexity of the Gospic mass graves location, test excavations and exhumations were carried out in several phases of work, which were preceded by an extensive investigation of the location. Thus, a series of field surveys and aerial photographs of the location were carried out, as well as test excavations at several likely locations – along the cemetery fence, on the east side of the road and inside the playground, which confirmed the findings of human remains.

The first phase of test excavations and exhumations was carried out from October 18 to November 5, 2021, when the remains of 84 victims were exhumed. During the second phase of test excavations and exhumation, from June 27 to July 21, 2022, the remains of 69 victims were exhumed. The third and final phase was preceded by the raising of a 678m² asphalt layer of the road, and from September 20 to October 13, 2023, the remains of at least 100 more victims were exhumed. In total, in all phases, the remains of at least 253 victims were exhumed.

As expected, in the surrounds of the government heavily laced with protecting the former communists and Serb aggressor against Croatia, almost nothing of this awful find in Gospic was recorded by Croatia’s government-controlled mainstream media.  Lack of memory, or worse, selective memory, is increasingly common in Europe and in Croatia it has been force-fed to people for decades – since Croatia’s independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1991. It is sometimes enforced by memory laws that determine which victim deserves to be remembered and which to be forgotten. In Croatia no law has been passed to condemn the communist crimes, the symbols of communism. Communist butchery of patriotic Croats still awaits legislative, government and public condemnation.

These remains found in Gospic are victims, like hundreds of thousands of other Croats, of Yugoslav communist-partisan crimes, so we thank God for small mercies by which the bodies of people killed brutally, without court proceedings, human rights or justice, will be buried with dignity after almost 70 years.

The injustices of communism were not limited to mass murder alone. Even those who survived the communist deadly purges still were subjected to severe repression, including violations of freedom, of speech, freedom of religion, loss of property rights, and the criminalisation of ordinary economic activity. No previous tyranny sought such complete control over nearly every aspect of people’s lives as communism did.

Although the communists promised a utopian society in which the working class would enjoy unprecedented prosperity, in reality, they engendered massive poverty. Wherever communist and non-communist states existed in close proximity, it was the communists who used walls, shutting of borders, and the threat of death to keep their people from fleeing to societies with greater opportunities. Many fled nevertheless and they and their descendants are still a threat to the remnants of communist ideology still breathing in Croatia; some holding the reins of power, unfortunately.

The vast power necessary to establish and maintain the communist system after World War Two in Yugoslavia attracted quite a number of unscrupulous people, including many self-seekers who prioritised their own interests over those of the cause. But it is striking that the biggest communist atrocities were not exclusively perpetrated by corrupt party bosses, but by true believers like Josip Broz Tito. Precisely because he was a true believer in communism and socialism, he was willing to do whatever it might take to make his utopian dreams a reality. Ordering mass murders or tortures in political prisons was Tito’s modus operandi. In the end Tito made it to the top ten list of biggest murderers of own people of the twentieth century. Tito created a regime where many people tried to do as little work as possible at their official jobs, where possible reserving their real efforts for black market activity and corruption. As the old Yugoslav saying goes, workers developed the attitude that “no one can pay me as little as I can work!” No wonder that by 1989 the inflation in former Yugoslavia had escalated to about 1100%, shop shelves empty of most products, bead or petrol lines as long as eye could see…

Only with truth can a decent and, above all, a nation with a future be built. The better and the more we learn the painful lessons of the history of communist Yugoslavia, the more likely it is that we can avoid any repetition of its horrors. Hence, the recently discovered victims of communist crimes in Gospic are vital for Croatia’s future and its well-being. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Tito’s Bloodthirsty Unpunished Genocide

The month of May is one of the most poignant months for Croatians. Patriotic Croats, those who fought for independence during and since World War Two commemorate the victims of communist crimes, the multitudes of thousands brutally murdered at Bleiburg (Austria) in May 1945 and the hundreds of thousands murderously purged post WWII (Way of the Cross), while the communists and former communists celebrate what they call their liberation of Croatia in May 1945! The historical fact remains that Croatia was not liberated, it was forced to remain as part of Yugoslavia and the weapon used for that was genocide and mass murders of Croats who rejected communism.  

8th of May 2023 the so-called antifascists in Croatia, communists actually, celebrated “their” liberation of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, on May 8th 1945. Sickening accolades to murderous communists/partisans rang painfully in our ears because the historical facts point to absolutely nothing that can humanely be celebrated. The remains of brutal murder of innocent Croats by the partisans, including children, filled mass unmarked graves on the fields around the capital as well as its main cemetery Mirogoj. The fact is that archived boxes of death records in the cemetery contain names of people, men, women, and children whose date of death is recorded as 8th May 1945.  These registers of deaths speak of 8th May 1945 as a very sad day for Zagreb, on which many innocent people murdered and suffered terribly. There are tens of mass graves around Zagreb, alone. All those deaths and massacres occurred on 8th May 1945. Does this signify liberation! Not by a long shot. Partisans had orders: locate the people on the list they were given, take them within the hour and kill them! This pattern of killing is found in records of all cities, towns, and villages in Croatia from 8th May 1945 onwards.

More than one thousand mass graves, many of which contain several thousand victims of communist crimes, have been unearthed in Croatia; more than 1800 when those unearthed in Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are counted. Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito has been labelled by several credible academics and politicians across the world as among top ten mass murderers of 20th century

Zagreb was occupied, not liberated on 8th May 1945. Occupied in every possible way by genocidal communist forces as directed by communist Yugoslavia leader Josip Broz Tito using Stalinist communist methods that murdered some 36 million innocent Russian lives. After which a murderous totalitarian dictatorship followed in Yugoslavia.

The fact is that Yugoslavia was the most unsuccessful European country of the 20th century. There is no country in Europe, which is in its seventy years of existence, from December 1918 to January 1992, twice created and twice disintegrated in the seas of blood of its citizens. The first Yugoslavia (two versions of Kingdoms headed by Serbian Monarchy) lasted less than 22, and the other (communist Yugoslavia) for less than 47 years – together they survived less than the average life expectancy of European citizens. All possible economic and political arrangements have been tried in Yugosavia so that it could be preserved.  It was capitalist and socialist, monarchical and republican, genocidal and murderous, unitarist and federalist, pluralist and monistic, the king’s right-wing and the marshal’s left-wing dictatorship. She was in the West and the East, undecided and unaligned. Nothing helped. Yugoslavia fell in early 1990’s – rivers of blood just like during and post World War Two, but Croatia finally emerged free of the Yugoslav communist terror.

This genuine freedom though, is still being undermined and cut and disrespected. Instead of organising commemrations to victims of communist crimes during May 2023 the powers that rule Croatia celebrate false liberation! They are the participants in continued denial of justice to these victims! The occupation, not liberation, of Croatia in 1945 was initially physical, murders. Yugoslav/Partisan military forces killed many tens of thousands of Croatian, prisoners of war and civilians in Slovenia and Austria after the formal end of the war in 1945 and the slaughter continued for decades to come. This was not discussed in historiography and politics until the collapse of Yugoslavia in early 1990’s, partly because the state hid and erased the traces of its abominable crimes and because, through intimidation, it forced millions of inhabitants to remain silent – to live in a kind of schizophrenia in which they could not forget the past, and were not allowed to remember it. Then the communists turned to property, they sent innocent people to their deaths in order to steal their properties. The political occupation followed which was characterised by oppression, political prisoners, assasinations at home and in the diaspora of Croatian patriots and multitudes fleeing the country to the West in fear for their lives.

In June 2006 the Croatian Parliament adopted bz a large majority the DECLARATION ON THE CONDEMNATION OF CRIMES COMMITTED DURING THE TOTALITARIAN COMMUNIST REGIME IN CROATIA 1945-1990. Given today’s developments and those after that year in which former communists took more and more power in Croatia for whose independence they spilled not a single drop of blood, includes the following paragraphs: 

„… 4. The fall of totalitarian communist orders (regimes) in Central and Eastern Europe was not in all cases, and not even in the case of the Republic of Croatia, accompanied by national and/or international investigations of the crimes committed by those regimes. In fact, the perpetrators of these crimes were not brought before the court of the international community, as was the case with the terrible crimes committed by National Socialism (Nazism).

5. As a consequence, there is a very low level of awareness among the public of former communist countries, including the Croatian public, about crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes…

6. The Croatian Parliament is convinced that people’s knowledge and awareness of historical events is one of the prerequisites to avoid similar crimes in the future. In fact, moral assessment and condemnation of committed crimes play an important role in the education of young generations. A clear attitude of the international and national communities towards the past can and must be a guideline for our future actions.

7. The Croatian Parliament believes that victims of the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes who are still alive or their families deserve sympathy, understanding and recognition for their suffering…“ (Croatian National Gazette/Narodne Novine  NN 76/06 od 10.07.2006)

And this very parliament continues to promote the communist murderers, continues to justify these abominable crimes, continues to degrade the victims of communist crimes they condemned. It is truly sickening! Even more so knowing that this is not even a bit penalised by the European Union of which Croatia is a member state and which condemned most strongly all totalitarian regimes including the communist.

There is absolutely no doubt that the communist system was the most criminal of all totalitarian ones; of the fascist one, of the National Socialism one. The numbers of victims testify to that, the manner of killings testify to that… Croatian government of today, its cronies and parties of interest, with their public displays about liberation of Croatia in May 1945, have the audacity to claim that Croatia was liberated by mass murderers (of its wn people). Communist Leader Josip Broz Tito is still revered by quite a few and so is the communist five-pointed red star on the Yugoslav flag that was smothered by the bloody fight for independence during 1990’s. Several hundreds of thousands of innocent Croats have died at Tito’s orders, but there has been no trial for the communist criminals who caused the suffering, according to some published court opinions in Croatia during the last decade it was the communist system, not the individual criminals, who murdered (e.g. the 2014 case of Josip Boljkovac)! Communist crimes and their perpetrators have not been prosecuted, not even posthumously! The push in Croatia to label cold blooded murder by communists as political murders appears to be yet another tool of injustice towards victims in Croatia. Tito has not been prosecuted posthumously, either! Every possible excuse under the sun has been used by the government to avoid prosecution of communist crimes in Croatia.

And so, this May 2023, Croatia stands as divided almost never before. It is an independent state, free from former Yugoslavia but the remnants of Yugoslavia are felt and visible at every turn. The independence achieved through the Homeland War of 1990’s appears as something not at all important to the government and majority in parliament. They are more occupied with keeping the communist Yugoslavia spirit and mind alive than with anything else. Sheer cruelty towards own nation!

The reality in Croatia shows that the most powerful state and social institutions in Croatia persistently avoid confronting and distancing themselves from the criminal communist past. Moreover, within the Croatian state and social institutions, the criminal paradigm of Yugoslav communism and its value system, symbols and personality cult are advocated more and more openly and vulgarly.

We count our blessings, though, in all those who will, starting 12 May 2023, be commemorating the hundreds of thousands Croatian victims of communist crimes at Bleiburg, Austria, and the Way of the Cross, across Croatia, at mass graves and pits. Ina Vukic   

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