Croatia: You Can Run But You Cannot Hide From Depravity Of Communist Crimes

“Here rest 294 victims of World War II and/or Post World War II period. Gracani” Photo:HINA

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s glaring absence from the burial ceremony of earthly remains of 294 communist crimes victims, recently dug out of mass graves at Gracani on the outskirts of Zagreb, on Friday 23rd August 2019  has thrown a national spotlight on the token, unconvincing and reluctant compassion afforded the victims of communist crimes by official Croatia. According to records kept by parshioner, the late Miroslav Haramija, 738 Croats were murdered by Partisans in 1945 in Gracani area and excavations of mass graves are set to continue.  23 August is European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Totalitarian Regimes and this year central events towards that remembrance were a Mass at St Michael’s church and funeral rites and burial for the 294 victims of communist crimes, of Partisans. The services at Gracani were led by Msgr. Zlatko Koren in conjunction with Don Marko Med, the parish priest, Fr. Marin Matančić, and other priests.

Mons. Koren emphasised that in this place of commemoration, 294 victims of World War II and the post-war period proclaim victory: “The victory of good over evil. Victory over sin. Victory over death.”

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA

It would indeed be a complete victory of good over evil had the entire Croatian leadership bowed their heads at the burial place of the remains of these 294 victims. It would indeed be a complete victory of good over evil had Croatia’s leaders announced a plan for fitting monuments for victims of communist crimes to be erected across Croatia, just like the existing monument to the victims of fascism/Nazism/Ustashas at Jasenovac. Certainly, there were countless more victims of communist Partisans than there were victims of Ustashas. Concrete evidence of this exists in the uncovered mass graves that add up so far to 1,700 across Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1000 in Croatia alone!). Much is yet to be done for the good to truly triumph over evil when it comes to the history of Croatians, particularly the 20th Century one. That body of work to be done still pertains to the condemnation of communist crimes and to building of monuments to victims in mass graves rather than marking the mass grave sites with mere crosses and humble plaques! Communist crimes were devastatingly huge in Croatia and this fact must not be marked by small remembrances but giant monuments to the suffering, visible by naked eye from the stars above.

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA

“Among the victims there are 63 minors. At least 112 people were killed with a bullet to the head. These bones today, after 74 long years, are finding their peace,” said Croatan Veterans Minister Tomo Medved said at Gracani on Friday 23 August 2019. Stating the obvious would not be my choice of words on this very important occasion for justice.

“Today’s event, like many other events in many other places, confirms not only a totalitarian but also a criminal character of the communist system. We must talk about this, because, like how we condemned the Ustasha regime, just as loudly and clearly we must talk not only about the totalitarian but also the criminal character of communism,” said Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković. To the point, but talk is cheap and Jandrokovic knows it! It blows over with the wind in seconds and all remains as usual – no official declaration of condemnation, no laws passed in parliament to reflect this, no banning of communist regime’s insignia and symbols. No banning of Josip Broz Tito’s birthday celebrations. No banning of Day of Antifascists!

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA

“While in the democratic world Fascism, Nazism and similar regimes were morally and politically condemned, their victims places of death and their graves marked, and numerous guilty people convicted, Communism in Croatia, without a proper and complete condemnation, smuggled its way into democracy. Therefore, at this place, I clearly condemn totalitarian regimes, both the Communist and the Ustasha and I clearly condemn Greater Serbian totalitarianism, and its aggression against Croatia,” said President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović at Gracani on Friday. Same as Jandrokovic, really. Grabar Kitarovic failed to spell out how “proper and complete condemnation” of communist regime should be achieved. The President of Croatia has a duty to give practical direction and undertakings for a complete condemnation of communist crimes she refers to. Words are cheap!

To add insult on the injury, the actual wooden cross that marks the burial place of the 294 victims of communist crimes at Gracani says absolutely nothing about who their murderers were! The writing on the cross says: “Here rest 294 victims of World War II and/or Post World War II period. Gracani”.

Absolutely heartbreaking and demoralising!

Their murderers were the communists so say it loud and say it again and again and again, until the truth sinks into every memory and every human heart.

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA


In addition to the commemoration and the burial of the remains at Gracani last Friday, the actual locations of mass executions were presented to the public for the first time; with shocking, disturbing photographs of the innocent victims! If this wasn’t enough for the Croatian leaders mentioned above to give to the public a real sense of determination that communist crimes will be utterly and completely condemned, I don’t know what will be. Milan Bandic, the Mayor of Zagreb, was present there also. While he generally boasts of beautifying Zagreb with lots of grand fountains and statues, he did not announce any fountain or statue or monument to be built in condemnation of communist crimes. His past is in a communist family, as is for most at the top echelons of Croatian current leadership, including the president’s.

The politicians in Croatia who walk on eggshells when it comes to condemning communist crimes, spread cheap and empty words in acknowledging the victims of communist crimes, ensuring that the burial places of the victims don’t name their murderers, create an atmosphere where such crimes are further pushed into insignificance as such atmosphere encourages unjustifiable justification of communist crimes –  can run (in such ways) but they cannot hide. When faced with the enormity of communist crimes in Croatia, with the overwhelming number of mass graves – nothing these politicians in power can mitigate or lighten the horrendous weight of those crimes.

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA

Croatia is abound with victims of communist crimes – almost every second family with its descendants has a horror story of its own to tell, where loved ones had been murdered, imprisoned for speaking against communism, simply being related to an anti-communist,  forced to flee and emigrate to avoid persecution or personal properties confiscated and given to communists; the communists even chased those who emigrated  across the world, assassinating dozens and blackening the names of all, maliciously, evilly, labelling them as extremists and terrorists. A large portion of the victims of communist crimes were not conscious enemies of the communist regime. They were punished according to their belonging, as “socially dangerous elements”. These were mostly family members of people who have been branded opponents of the regime because they sang no praises to Tito and his communists; women, children and elderly persons. Victims of communism have to be remembered as innocent victims of regimes founded on communist ideology and also as people who stood up to regimes of terror in the name of democracy, the rule of law, and independent statehood, or for other motives.

And those who committed these heinous crimes and atrocities have not faced justice nor have the stolen properties been restored to original owners. There is no real remorse nor condemnation for these acts of communist depravity within the corridors of power. The words spoken at occasions such as the one in Gracani on Friday are cheap and frankly, without real demonstrations of legislative work (such as banning communist symbols, removing from the Constitution the claimed credit given to antifascism as part of the foundation of today’s independent Croatia) that would cement condemnation of communist crimes these words are insulting.

Gracani, Zagreb 23 August 2019 – burial of remains of 294 victims of communist crimes recently dug out of mass graves. PHOTO: HINA

Denial of the Holocaust has been criminalised and listed as hate speech etc., almost worldwide. Are then victims of communist crimes less worthy of such dignity because they were not Jewish! All victims are equally victims and the time has come when denial of communist crimes must be criminalised.

The resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism passed in the European Parliament in April of 2009 recommended declaring 23 August the day of remembrance for victims of communism and Nazism and this has been done in many European countries and in North America. The remembrance of the victims of the Nazi regime, first and foremost victims of the Holocaust, and of the victims of communist regimes on one and the same day has been called an attempt to deprive the Holocaust genocide of its historical uniqueness. Eastern European countries are accused of attempting to hide the collaboration of their own peoples with the national socialists at that time behind the remembrance of victims of communism. Politicising tends to always confuse and bias issues but in 21st century we should be free to say that a victim of the Holocaust is in no way more unique than a victim of communist regimes. Each are a side of the same coin – the coin of power usurpation by brutal force and disregard for human life.  It is time to rip out of the ground the monuments raised during the times of former Yugoslavia to honour the WWII communist Partisans and raise instead, monuments to victims of communist crimes! Ina Vukic




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