Croatia: No Victim Of Communist Crimes Mourns Death Of Josip Broz Tito

Thirty-nine years ago on 4th May 1980 I sat with friends watching a matinée movie at a theatre in the centre of Zagreb, Croatia, and suddenly the movie stopped screening, lights came on and a man, his face an embodiment of doom, gloom and despondency, appeared on the stage announcing Josip Broz Tito’s death. The Yugoslav dictator, the communist criminal had died – I sighed with relief, making sure nobody noticed my relief. I joined the rest of the moviegoers exiting the theatre with their heads bowed – dazed and bewildering silence was deafening! Got out into the streets to face people walking along the footpaths silently, heads down, lost – overcast of doom and gloom as if the promise of life had just been sucked out from underneath their feet … Unsure what to expect, people went straight home, waiting for further news or, better said, how to express grief one was expected to feel even though multitudes could dance from joy if only there was freedom to express that joy. Theatres, streets and restaurants were deserted in no time. The air was uncomfortably heavy with one question: Now what? What do we do now?

The overwhelming majority of the population of Yugoslavia at that time did not know it, but the answer to “ now what?” had been prepared well in advance – Tito’s death has changed nothing for you; you continue as you were conditioned to adore Tito and what he was! Ahead of Tito’s death the communist regime had prepared special editions of newspapers that were simply sent to press, in order to reach newsstands the same evening. Communist controlled television and radio programmes had also been made in advance – ready to go on air.

The police and the army were put on the highest alert.

That media content was engineered to serve the regime’s needs is unsurprising, considering that Yugoslavia was an oppressive dictatorship and autocracy. But the quick mobilisation of the army shows just how bad an autocracy it was. The mobilisation of its army was not to fend off any would-be external enemy but to ensure its people, whom the system feared, was kept in check.

A couple of days later Tito’s coffin, on its way to the burial place in Belgrade, arrived at the central railway station in Zagreb and brought out into the vast city square in front of the station. The army and the police (in either uniform or civilian attire) took up strategic positions, ensuring order. All workers from all employers (communist government owned and run, of course) in Zagreb were ordered and commanded to go to that square, stand in a designated spot and “mourn” and “wail”. Photographs of millions mourning Tito’s passing that circled the world were the result of multitudes being forced to go to the event, no one dared not to go. The staged “goodbye to Tito” event, in particular, the realisation of how shockingly successful the communist regime under Tito was in brainwashing its people, creating servants of them like no other oppressive government apparatus I had come across, had sunk into me like a heavy load impossible to bear.

This country under Tito’s regime had managed to brainwash quite a number of its people into behaving as if the brutal and genocidal communist crimes ( led by Tito himself) during and after WWII were a necessity and a “human right” within the realm of communist regime survival. Within a couple of months my bags were packed, to leave. It would take a generation or two to cleanse the nation of communist mentality, I was certain of that and certain that such cleansing would be ugly.

Josip Broz Tito manipulated the Leninist doctrine to suit his needs and boost his popularity – all in pursuit of power. He used the Communist secret police UDBa to take command of Yugoslavia in Belgrade after the Second World War, and quickly subjected the country to a one-party system under the control of one man – himself. When he realised that Moscow wanted to curb his power, Tito broke off ties with Stalin (1948) and started flirting with the West. Once his new friends started pushing for fair elections and a multi-party system, he turned his back on them, too …

From early 1960s Tito decided to open the borders to Yugoslavia’s unemployed – so that they could go and work abroad. A huge wave of people left, hoping for jobs that did not have Communist party membership as the main prerequisite. But free travel was not for everybody – many political opponents and dissidents were banned from leaving the country, just as they were banned from working in it. In fear of reprisal and brutalities against them multitudes of anti-communist Croatians fled Yugoslavia before the opening of the borders, risking their own lives in that process.

Whoever Tito saw as an obstacle to his ultimate control was removed – killed, or arrested and sent to labour camp. One of the most notorious ‘penitentiaries’ for political prisoners was Goli Otok (Naked Island), which operated in a similar way to Stalin’s death camps. During Tito’s 37 years of rule, tens of thousands were detained and punished for speaking out against the regime, or even for expressing divergent views… hundreds of thousands of innocent Croatians murdered, dumped into mass graves either while still alive or dead.

Saturday 4 May 2019 saw a number of chilling events in Croatia remembering with seeming respect and devotion Tito’s death, by displaying the symbols of communist Yugoslavia, photos of Tito – by spreading further lies and deceit about how great Tito was. The hundreds of mass graves of victims of communist crimes strewn across Croatia – remain without justice. The events that marked remembrance of communist crimes victims did not make it into the Croatian mainstream media.

Nothing much has changed there; communist sympathisers and followers still control the mainstream media. The leaders of Croatia’s antifascist movement, such as former presidents of Croatia like Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic, repeatedly identify themselves with Tito. They offer no apologies for Tito’s methods and the Communist Party’s crimes. Ivo Josipovic had the gall last week to try and convince the Croatian public that the scores innocent Croatian monks murdered in February 1945 by Tito’s communists during WWII in Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, were a legitimate military target – because they were anti-communist!

Be aware, antifascism is not a catchall category of democrats as Croatian antifascists, and many throughout the world, paint it. It is a communist construct. It is, indeed, meaningless without reference to communist ideology. Its exponents quickly manifest this even today by their willing defence of the record of Communism, their espousal of a recognisable (anti-Western) Communist world view, and their unshakeable conviction that the only threat to civilisation comes from the Right, not the Left.

Tito, in fact, behaved as Communists do, promoting revolution by the mass liquidation of potential opponents, by subverting every independent institution, and by bringing all power within the Party’s control. He authorised the killing of hundreds of thousands of people without trial, some with staged trials — soldiers, conscripted Home Guard members, unpolitical civilians, Catholic priests, monks and nuns, doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, businessmen, women and children. The mass graves, where people were thrown in alive to be slowly suffocated by the weight of those who followed, are still gradually being excavated and the mainstream media instead of keeping this fact in public view constantly choose to pay it a lip service and bury it as quickly as the victims in those mass graves perished. For fear of annoying influential Communist cadres, who had joined anti-Communists to create the fledgling Croatian state in 1991, these horrible crimes were for many years left unmentioned. Until recently, most Party and secret police archives were similarly inaccessible. There has been no lustration of Party members and functionaries. Not a single trial within Croatia has been held of a Communist official: only in Munich, after Germany managed to secure their extradition, were two high-ranking Yugoslav secret police officials (Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac) given life sentences (2018) for a politically authorised murder on German soil in 1983.

Tito’s communist murder squads operated across Yugoslavia, across Croatia, across the world. Surely, his death cannot be mourned or remembered by anything other except disdain and contempt for Tito and what he stood for! The only thing that can be mourned in Croatia is the fact that no person, no persons who engaged in that murderous purge of anti-communist Croatian people have been brought to justice, no condemnation of the communist regime has been achieved so to stamp, once and for all, Croatia’s past under the communist regime with facts that show unreservedly that Tito’s communist Yugoslavia was a frightening bundle of crimes and genocide against humanity. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Mentality Change Equals Croatian National State

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of the Republic of Croatia

26 April 2019 (last leg of Grabar-Kitarovic Presidential mandate):

Addressing a special session of Karlovac County Assembly on County Day on Friday, Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said that the most significant measure at the moment needs to be “reforming our mentality,” in order to make the Croatians think and work faster, more resolutely and in a better organised manner. She acknowledged with praise Prime Minister the Andrej Plenkovic’s cabinet for reducing taxes and administration levies, however, she claimed that the “most significant reform we need to implement is to reform our mentality,” so that at all levels, we can think and work more resolutely, faster and in a more organised manner.

1 July 2015 (first leg of Grabar-Kitarovic presidential mandate):

“The key for solutions and for coming out from this economic crisis is in increase of jobs but also in change of mentality, strengthening of accountability and political courage,” said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the inaugural meeting of her presidential committee for economic affairs in Croatia, “that is what I want to see in Croatia – economic growth, opening of new jobs, increase of employment, creation of new values and new products, export, fiscal discipline and productivity in public administration. We need to change in order to come out of this situation we are in. Solutions exist, it’s just that we must have enough political courage and accountability in order to implement them.”

The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia in the last point within the Historic Foundations section says the following:

“At the historic turning-point marked by the rejection of the communist system and changes in the international order in Europe, the Croatian nation reaffirmed, in the first democratic elections (1990), by its freely expressed will, its millennial statehood and its resolution to establish the Republic of Croatia as a sovereign state.”

About the need for mentality change

Bravo President Grabar-Kitarovic for reiterating the need to change mentality in Croatia but it’s a clear as a sunny day that Croatia’s government and presidential forces have not rejected the communist system (mentality), rejection of which is fortified in the country’s Constitution. With a heavy dose of bitterness I can understand why, after the Homeland War ended and all Croatian Serb-occupied territory liberated (1998), communist presidents Stjepan Mesic and Ivo Josipovic never bothered to even accentuate to the people of Croatia that a change in mentality was needed in order for Croatia to move ahead; in order to rid it of communist mentality. I say communist mentality even if Grabar-Kitarovic did not define it as such because neither she nor anyone else needs to spell this one out.

And now we have the case of four years wasted since the President had stated the obvious – that Croatia needs a change in mentality – also! President Grabar-Kitarovic is still, after four years, telling Croatian people they need a mentality change or reform. I guess when one doesn’t really seem to care about what one says, just as long as it sounds good for political grandstanding, one is not likely to roll ones sleeves up and do something about it. Her repeated expressions of need to change mentality are evidently mechanical – a parroting exercise.

It is a fact that former communist countries have since 1989 (since the fall of Berlin Wall) been going through a painful metamorphosis on a confusing path toward acceptance of the individual responsibilities freedom brings and of acceptance of democratic values. Croatia is no different except for the fact that nothing has been officially done to drive a mentality change. Individual politicians and academics have been constantly addressing the problem of enormous barriers to progress that communist mindset or mentality represent in Croatia. So it’s not as if Grabar-Kitarovic would have been without allies were she truly mindful enough of tackling mentality change.

It is time for change – now!

The debilitating impact of the communist moral and psychological legacy on the socioeconomic transition into democracy means that even after three decades (almost) of formal independence as a sovereign state, Croatia is still struggling to find its way forward. The fact that former highly positioned communist operatives still hold the fort of key socio-economic and political structures has been and is a source of painful discontent and disappointment; a source of apathy that continues to see dismally low voter turnout at elections and a source of staggering brain drain from the country. It is a source, I believe, that drives the much present call for togetherness and unity of all Croatian patriotic political parties these days of election campaigns for the European Parliament. The sad part is that only very, very few of those calling for such unity mention the need to affirm a Croatian national state; a state of Croatian people (with minorities respected). This line of action would among other benefits, return to the forefront the intentions and plights within the massive and united movement all those years ago of late nineteen eighties and early nineties when almost 94% of voters in Croatia voted at a referendum to rid themselves of communist Yugoslavia.

The communist Yugoslavia regime succeeded in penetrating very deeply into many people’s minds and influenced their way of working, doing business and the sphere of public administration. Corruption, bribery, political pressure, nepotism, theft of public property, reliance on borrowed money to pay wages…all were the hallmarks of the communist mindset and mentality. These echoes of the communist Yugoslavia period are still alarmingly evident in Croatia and while the task of getting rid of them, or mellowing them down to insignificance or non-intrusive level, appears difficult, it is definitely not a Sisyphean one! We have seen that in other former communist countries of Europe, where communist regime’s practices were and are taken head on.

The Croatian governments’ inability to coordinate efforts and prioritise challenges of transitioning from communism resulted in failure to implement judicial and pragmatic economic reforms had further exacerbated many social problems. This political chaos supported wild privatisation, so that the major state-owned companies passed into the hands of well-connected apparatchiks, who continued turning the gaps in institutional and legislative control to their own advantage from the start. The wave of privatisations in the 1990s turned post-Yugoslavia Croatia into a society largely run by new-tycoons, where newly emerged elite with enormous wealth and often decisive control over public policy transformed their economic power into political influence to preserve their dominance; to preserve communist mentality. The roots of nepotism and corruption that existed in communist Yugoslavia are alive and kicking in Croatia.

Promotion of Croatian national identity was considered practically a criminal act in communist Yugoslavia, and Croats living abroad who identified themselves as Croats were hunted down one way or another. All the Yugoslav republics were subject to domination by communist bureaucrats, who were sent far and wide to preserve the Josip Broz Tito’s dictatorship even to remote outskirts of the Western World where Croatian nationals who rejected communism had settled, where the communist Secret Police UDBa assassinated scores. Party control became brutal after WWII, and hundreds of thousands Croatians murdered in communist purges. The fear factor contributed vastly and intentionally to the development of unique national behaviour, which in turn influenced ideology and the operations of various organisations and social institutions. Massive corruption, deeply rooted in the public consciousness, has interfered with post-Yugoslavia economic and political systems in Croatia. Without a change in mentality, the very corruption fuelled by political elites, including those holding the judiciary, will be the bullet that will destroy the Croatian peoples’ dream (a human right) for self-determination.

The theory of behavioural economics suggests that national self-awareness is an important pre-requisite for economic decision-making. Western principles, when forcefully applied to the dominant communist (anti-capitalist) mentality, look like expensive make-up on the wrinkled face of reality. Socio-cultural factors that determine successful transformation (from communist mentality) include individualism vs. collectivism and power distance. The former is self-explanatory as to any healthy thriving of economic development; competition and individual responsibility are at the forefront of thriving economies. In societies with a large power distance, professionals are not consulted but are instructed by the power centres; Croatia still suffers much from this communist regime’s ailment because of which some “elites” think they know everything but will still pretend to seek professional advice.

Today, calling oneself a Croatian patriot (usually meaning the one who was and is against communism) or uttering the age-long greeting “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) exposes one to being branded as fascist or neo-Nazi, and criminally prosecuted or fined for that greeting! Today, wearing or displaying the communist Yugoslavia red five-pointed star, or Yugoslav flag, does not brand one as anything, nor is it punishable by law! Communism and communist mentality is alive and kicking in Croatia.

Yes, Madam President, political courage is needed and you and most of Croatia’s government cabinet members do not have it! And, courage cannot be learned!

All Croatia needs now is for those who have demonstrated political courage by loudly and continuously advocating for changes from the communist mindset to get voted into government. All Croatians need now is to assert their national right that was asserted through the bloody and brutal Homeland War of Serb aggression; to assert their Croatian national state and measure the extent and values of State sovereignty through it. After all, it was the Croatian people by vast majority who voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia, who fought and lost thousands of lives for it and they have earned the right to finish the task of decommunisation. After all, rejection of communisim is embedded in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.

Decommunisation is the only agent that will bring the mentality change President Grabar-Kitarovic is talking about, albeit unconvincingly as to her determination and courage to implement the processes and socio-political structures needed for it. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Guise Of Secular Pursuits

 

One wonders how much of the current uproar and hullabaloo from the former Yugoslav communist party political heirs (Social Democratic Party/SDP, GLAS party…), now in government opposition, pressuring the review of the so-called Vatican Agreements (signed in late 1990’s, these represent a legal framework of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the state of Croatia, and not with the Vatican state), has to do with the continuance of trying to destroy the fundamental spiritual values and identity of the Croatian nation. Communist Yugoslavia was anti-religion, anti-church and while hordes of former communists suddenly, after secession from Yugoslavia, turned into churchgoers, engaged and participated in Holy Easter and Christmas Day festivities… it is painfully clear that this was in majority of cases an act to win people support which would assist former communists in retaining power and thus thwart the country’s transition from communism into democracy.

The protagonists of the push for Vatican Agreements review are painfully loud with their arguments that religious studies, catechism and the like must be driven out of schools, out of school curriculum. That this push comes at a time when Croatia is reviewing its school curriculum is no accident.

Secularism or the obligation to achieve it, separation of church from the state, are brought into play here; omitting dismally to acknowledge the fact that even the most secular democracies of the world see supports to the church, through various government grants, just as they see supports to NGO’s or other civil society projects.

The time has come for catechism to be removed from schools and given back to the church,” claimed ferociously Anka Mrak-Taritas, GLAS Member of Croatian Parliament while SDP and other GLAS politicians claim that due to the Vatican Agreements the state gives too much money to the Catholic Church, which makes the Church an unacceptably potent political influencer. They keep schtum about the greater amounts of funds the state hands out to NGO’s who travel the active political path in destroying Croatian identity and traditional values of Croatian being!

We need to be reminded here that, after WWII, the president of communist Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito tried hard to break the relationship between the Croatian people and the Holy See, by offering Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac to create a “Croatian National Church”! Stepinac rejected this offer, saying that the Catholic faith is universal and does not discriminate among people on basis of their nationality. In 1952, because of Stepinac’s rejection to form a “Croatian National Church”, horrible attacks and terror against Croatian bishops followed. Pope Pius XII named Stepinac a Cardinal at the time and this communist angered dictator Tito. Tito then severed diplomatic ties with Holy See and accused the Catholic church of interfering in Yugoslavia’s internal affairs, while attempting to completely isolate Croatia from the Holy See and the Catholic Church worldwide. It was only in August of 1970 when some diplomatic relations were reinstated with the Holy See.

Surely, since religion is amongst the high markers of the Croatian identity then the state must ensure that religious teachings (whether they go under the term of catechism or another term) are among the choices in education that the state must fund. Whether religious teachings are driven through government funding of the church or are part of state-run school program is, at the end of the day, not as important as maintaining the choice for religious education is. Driving the teaching of catechism solely to church’s responsibility is irresponsible and truly mean-spirited of any government, whose responsibility is to ensure overall well being of its people, including spiritual.

Catechism or religious teachings are part of school curriculum, whether obligatory (as in private schools for example) or optional/extra-curricular (as in public schools), in most Western democracies. Education breeds understanding, compassion, and moulds morality that defines a nation.

Religion is a big part of the Croatian society, of any society for that matter. So why make it so difficult if not to destroy it!

Since antiquity, religious traditions have shaped individual and collective self-understandings, cultures of knowledge and the realm of politics founded on nation’s moral values. Religion, faith, still to this day has a paramount role in the most fundamental level of culture, of co-creating conceptions of what it is to be human and without teaching it in schools (as well as elsewhere) cultural foundations of a nation, as we know them, are on shaky grounds, if not in quicksand.

I am not referring to prayer here. I am advocating for religious literacy and the best way to achieve this is by teaching children in the home and in the schools beginning at an early age about faith and spiritual traditions. Freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of a State do give those who are not religious the freedom to exercise their rights but democracy, after all, is much about majority when it comes to government tax revenue and the government has the obligation to ensure everyone’s rights and due privileges are supported.

In Constitutions of democratic countries all religious communities are equal before the law and separate from State. Such is the case for Croatia also. There are several definitions of secularism and the emphasis on “separate” is the weakest one, especially when you get people in an uproar because churches get “… support from State”.

The cited 85% of population being of Catholic conviction is said to have been the argument for signing the treaty in 1996 between the Republic of Croatia and the Holy See, known as the Vatican Treaty/Vatican Agreements, which regulates relations between the State and Catholic Church in Croatia. The treaty covers state funding to the Church as well as access to religious teaching in schools.

Among its elements the Vatican Treaty pays attention to the religious education of children from the early age (preschool) till the end of elementary school, the age of 14. The Vatican Treaty is implemented in the state elementary schools by offering children the subject of religion as one of the choice courses. The subtlety of this arrangement is that those children who do not opt for this course do not have an alternative activity; they are left to roam the school precinct – blame the government, not the church for this!

The push from former communists in Croatia for a review of the Vatican Agreements has a nasty by-product, which I believe, is deliberate: for religion to be treated in society as taboo even though they’re banging on that it’s all about ensuring secularism.

Religion here is being used as a way to separate people and fire up more division and unrest. Religion should be treated as something to be shared and celebrated.

And on that note I do like the June 2017 US Supreme Court decisive ruling that religious institutions should be eligible to receive public funds for secular purposes. This opens up a wonderful window for humanity in a world where secularism has almost banished the idea that faith and religion have a role to play in secularism. Ina Vukic.

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