In Croatia: A Robe of Political Evil

Memorial cemetery of victims of Homeland War Vukovar Croatia
(inset: Kreso Beljak)


When in this day and age in Croatia the president of the Croatian Peasant Party (Hrvatska seljačka stranka/HSS) declares at the Serbian Orthodox Christmas soirée organised by the Serbian National Council in Zagreb that he deeply believes in brotherhood and unity between Serbs and Croats chills run down the spine. Chills run down the spine not because the concept of brotherhood and unity is an aversive concept generally but because, in this case, it refers to the slogan devised and used by the Yugoslav League of Communists during and post WWII to enforce totalitarian communist creed. This was the creed in which, in particular, Croatian plights for freedom of Croatia were mercilessly crushed and the pinnacle of that crushing oppression was activated in the 1990’s brutal Serb aggression against Croatia when the latter declared its independence and secession from communist Yugoslavia.

To wind back the clock when it comes to the pronounced and pervasive (if not forced) Serb-led imposition of conditions for the lack and impossibility for true brotherhood and unity between Croats and Serbs we need to wind the clock back at least one hundred years. On 5th December 1918 on the main square in Zagreb 18 Croats protesting against the formation of the first Yugoslavia (Serb led Kingdom of Serbs Croats and Slovenes/later known as Kingdom of Yugoslavia) were murdered and the 20th century era of Serb dictatorship and oppression accelerated in both speed and intensity. The first bloody Yugoslavia commenced, which not only murdered/fatally wounded Croatian founders of the Croatian Peasant Party, Stjepan Radic and Duro Basaricek, but in its rampage against Croats it pursued the decades long road of displacing and forcing into exile and emigration of Croats from Yugoslavia (Croatia). It imposed local rule by Serbs in Croatia; installed Serbs as local gendarmes in Croatia and installed Serbs at the head of military power, which committed heinous crimes against Croats and forced them to hand over their land to the Serbian Orthodox Church so that even such power could also hold Croats hostage in their own country. Then came the Second World War, Croats seeking independence from Yugoslavia but Serbs, armed with the force of Josip Broz Tito and his communists, succeeded in building themselves into the constitution of that Second Yugoslavia (communist), thus ensuring that any Croat plan for independence and self-preservation is smothered and criminalised. Communist crimes, marked by assassinations of Croats living abroad and hundreds of thousands mass graves of murdered Croats spread like wildfire. Democracies have Opposition in parliament; totalitarian Yugoslavia (Croatia) had its political emigration. When in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s Croatia mustered enough courage to again seek independence from Yugoslavia once again the Serb led aggression was horrendous. Croatia succeeded in defending itself and became independent and sovereign state. Then in 2000 came the former communists, who undeservingly call themselves antifascists, into power and with it the political degradation of Croatian independence, of Croatian national being and, sadly, this continues to the detriment of progress in democracy and self-preservation. The persistent equating of victim with the aggressor has a distressing thread that feeds nostalgia for communist Yugoslavia and attempts to trivialise, if not erase, the fact that Serb aggressor existed and exists.

That brotherhood and unity can exist in earnest between the abuser and the abused, or between an aggressor and a victim, without ensuring and contributing to justice being achieved, is evidently mean-spirited ammunition of politically evil individuals who apparently delight in the suffering of the victim or the abused, for personal political gain. Furthermore, such mean-spirited politics have the tendency to invade all aspects of culture, leaving fair-minded people dazed and speechless from sheer pain for humanity.

Indeed, Kreso Beljak’s declaration at the Serbian Orthodox Christmas soirée in Zagreb on Sunday 6 January 2019 has the hallmarks of evil politics. Certainly, there was no brotherhood and unity when 18 Croats were murdered in December 1918 in Zagreb for protesting against the formation of Serb-led Yugoslavia; certainly, there was no brotherhood and unity when the founders of his political party, Stjepan Radic and Duro Basaricek, were murdered/fatally wounded in Belgrade in June 1928; certainly there was no brotherhood and unity when multitudes of Serbs holding powerful positions within the communist Yugoslavia apparatus and committed or ordered the committing of heinous communist crimes against Croats in WWII and post-WWII Croatia and, certainly, there was no brotherhood and unity when Serbs embarked upon the vicious and genocidal aggression against Croats in the 1990’s. And this pathetic, deplorable figure of a politician, Beljak, tells the world he still believes in brotherhood and unity between Serbs and Croats! He may believe what he likes but when his belief is imposed upon the nation that still suffers gravely from the Serb aggression then his words deserve nothing less than condemnation and profound contempt.

“We live in an age of genocide, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and torture, evil threatens us in ways radically different from tsunamis and financial panics. Nature unleashes its wrath and people rush to help the victims. Evil politics shows its face and we seem paralysed over how to respond” (Political Evil, Alan Wolfe). Beljak’s declaration regarding brotherhood and unity was surely well thought out prior to its utterance at the Serb soirée in Croatia; it was uttered to insult and belittle the enormity of suffering endured by Croats in the defence of their homeland against brutal and genocidal aggression. I see no large rallies in the streets of Croatia against such politics as Beljak’s, which tear away from the truth of Serb aggression. Apart from some media of mentions to that effect, I see no affirmative actions to oust Beljak from the Croatian Peasant Party, I see no actions to strip him of the parliamentary seat he currently holds (the parliament created amidst the horrendous Serb aggression against Croatia), I see no person in the government slapping him on the wrist (to use a metaphor) for his utter cruelty towards the Croatian nation… Croatia needs to get very serious about the problem of evil politics used to undermine its own, rightful and righteous sovereign existence.

One of the chief goals of democratic politics is to achieve justice, restituting wrongs not just for particular people but also injured nation and injured groups within it. Concentrating on Croatia as a victim of Serb aggression, which it has been for over one hundred years, would not be an incidental by-product of a cultural awakening in the country where the current political quagmire is suffocating a fully orderly life, but should be an essential feature of Croatian democracy.

It was the Homeland War veterans with the other freedom and democracy aspiring people that risked becoming the victims of Serb aggression in the 1990’s – for democracy. But, today, the values defended and fought for in the same Homeland War do not enjoy enduring national pride that ensures justice and deserved acknowledgement for victims of Serb aggression. How then are we to take the apparent fact that, for sizeable segments of the Croatian population, the suffering of those who placed their life on the line for democracy and freedom – became victims – seems more likely to invite apathy or disdain? Much of Croatian politics increasingly resembles a grim contest to prove who can be the most mean-spirited; who can talk us into believing that Serb aggression did not really occur or, if it did, that it was not that bad.

In pondering upon such a question I’m reminded of the work of American social psychologist Melvin Lerner, which gives us a clue as to how or why this grim reality exists. In the 1970s, Lerner and his collaborators were struck by the widespread phenomenon of “victim blaming”.

Lerner’s explanation was that we are equipped with a cognitive bias he dubbed the Just World Hypothesis. Its implied proposition is that the world distributes rewards and punishment equally. In situations where we are confronted with suffering and are unable to do anything to alleviate that suffering we tend to resort to the assumption that the victims somehow brought their fate upon themselves. Hence, came the pressure from the EU corridors and beyond to equate the victim with the aggressor and many Croatian politicians from the former communist echelons picked up on such deplorable political harangue – with deviant glee.

Since Serbs appear to understand and promote victim politics, using them to continue denial of their aggression, ethnic cleansing and genocide in order to realise the Greater Serbia dream, then perhaps we are entering a historically right time to press on with lustration in Croatia. Giving justice particularly to the multitudes of victims of communist crimes. One can justifiably conclude that it is the severe lack of prosecuting communist crimes the injects “courage” into individuals to pursue justification of communist crimes and, hence, wrap nostalgia for communist Yugoslavia into “desirable” robes. Unless prosecution and condemnation of communist crimes in Croatia is achieved there will never be real justice for all in Croatia, nor prosperity of a functional democracy and self-determination. Booting Beljak out of the parliament (and Croatian Peasant Party) would be good sign of at least some justice in Croatia for the victims of the Homeland War in particular. Ina Vukic

Another Croatian Maliciously Convicted By Yugoslav Communist Regime – Rehabilitated

Filip Lukas
B: 26 April 1871
D: 26 June 1958

Zagreb county court on Thursday 20 July 2017 published its decision to quash the verdicts that communist Yugoslav “people’s” courts handed down on 21 November 1945 convicting and pronouncing death-by-firing-squad sentence to academic Filip Lukas, in absentia, over his close ties with the WWII Independent Croatia movement. Wise and careful, Prof. Lukas fled Croatia just before the communist Partisans entered Zagreb and lived in Rome, Italy, to his death in 1958.

The communist Yugoslav courts convicted and sentenced him to death because of his academic and publishing works, which makes his case very revealing example of the maliciousness and depravity the Yugoslav “antifascists” operated during WWII and after it. His only “crime” was that he headed the Croatian Matica (Matrix) organisation (mainly promoting Croatian culture and connecting Croatian communities throughout the world) from 1928 to 1945 and for being chief editor of “Our Homeland” journal. His case had been hidden from the Croatian public until about 2008 when researchers found documents relating to it buried in State archives in Zagreb.

The court in Zagreb on Thursday 20 July decided in favour of the conservative Christian NGO ‘In the Name of the Family’, which filed in January 2017 the request for the review of the case and for Lukas’s rehabilitation. The NGO’s attorney Kresimir Planinic had said at the time that “we want to expose the way in which the communist totalitarian regime functioned and in which many Croats suffered and perished… We want to correct the injustice and help remember our Croatian historical greats from who we can learn a great deal for both today’s and future Croatian opportunities.”

“It has been established that Filip Lukas was convicted for politically criminal actions, of verbal political offense, which was a result of the obvious abuse of the political power exercised in the criminal proceedings by the then communist authorities that violated internationally recognised principles of juridical states, such as the principle of lawfulness and the principle of applying a more lenient law,” said the Zagreb court decision from Thursday 20 July 2017. The court explained that at Lukas’s trial, the Yugoslav courts used a law that was passed in 1945, although he was tried for alleged acts dating from the 1941-44 period. The 1945 law provided for courts to prosecute alleged crimes committed before it came into force, but only if the sanctions are more lenient than in the law in force at the time of the crimes. The court also, among other errors made in the Yugoslav courts at the time of Lukas’ conviction in 1945, pointed out that there was no death sentence in the previous law (the law prior to 1945) for the crimes of which Lukas was convicted, so the 1945 law was incorrectly applied in his case.

Zagreb county court in July last year also annulled a verdict convicting Croatian WWII-era Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, arguing that he did not get a fair trial under the Yugoslav Communist regime.

Today’s “antifascists” (pro-Yugoslav communism lot) will try and justify Luka’s 1945 communist court conviction by saying that Lukas supported the WWII Independent State of Croatia regime headed by Ante Pavelic and the Ustashe. It appears they hold the Orwellian neologism – thoughtcrime – as something that should perhaps be practiced today; thought, speech and actions control – just like their communist predecessors practiced years before George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” came into being! Beliefs contrary to the communist norms were indeed a crime in post-WWII Yugoslavia as Lukas’ case evidences.

“Our Homeland” Journal
Croatia 1943

For libertarians, the idea that courts can weigh the thought, belief, or emotional affect behind an act is chilling. Hate itself counts for nothing in criminal law. Violence counts for a lot. Hate paired with violence, under hate crimes laws, counts for even more. Like the neutrino, hate has no mass, but it changes things. In a free society it should be axiomatic that only action, never thought, can be subject to punishment. Lukas was never a man of violent acts nor of incitement to violent acts and certainly 1945 his indictment did not list any.

It needs to be said that, during the times of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia hatred for Croatian self-determination in Serbia saw Serbia’s politicians publicly call for the murder of Croatia’s leader Stjepan Radic and his Croatian parliamentary colleagues from the Croatian Peasant Party – and in 1928 Punisa Racic did just that while the parliament was in session in Belgrade. Post-WWII Yugoslav communist totalitarian regime continued with the same practices. Not aligning in thought and belief with the communist regime was a crime, regardless of whether such thoughts or beliefs were displayed during or after WWII.

While Croatia’s criminal law today provides for hate speech sanctions if such speech is practiced with a clear aim of spreading racial, religious, gender, national, ethnic hatred, or hatred based on skin colour or sexual orientation, or other characteristics, or with the aim to disdain, publicly promotes thoughts of racial superiority, ethnic or religious superiority … it is there to be adhered to by all, for obvious reasons that engage a civil society into respecting freedoms of thought and speech, without casualties. The lesson “antifascist” reactions during the past few days to the rehabilitation of Filip Lukas teach are those that point to the sad reality that, regardless of the fact that the Zagreb court delivered a just annulment of the 1945 Lukas verdict, today’s communist mindset present in Croatia must be eradicated. Bit by bit, if it cannot be achieved with speed. Court cases that prod into the past communist judicial injustice, like Lukas and Stepinac ones, go a fair way toward achieving this.

There is much that we can do, through individual, collective, and governmental action, to heal the wounds of an unjust and hateful past. A self-confident, mature democracy (which Croatia is yet to become with our help) that trusts its own capacity for public debate can afford to leave the policing of mind and tongue to the North Koreans, but not to the recycled communists in Croatia who wrongfully call themselves antifascists and who keep throwing spanners into democratic and just anti-communist works that are essential if Croatia is truly to become a full democracy. Ina Vukic

In Memoriam – Mojmir Damjanovic

Mojmir Damjanovic 1940's Vienna, Austria

Mojmir Damjanovic
1940’s Vienna, Austria


A 20th Century Personal Journey of Love and Suffering For Croatia

Mojmir Damjanovic passed away at 96 years of age on 10 November 2016 in Sydney Australia – he was my friend.

For Mojmir life began soon after the end of World War I, when Croatia was torn away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and unwillingly forced into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia).

Born in Blato on the island of Korcula in Croatia on August 7, 1920 Mojmir was the seventh child born to Anton and Vica. He was raised in a poor, working and authentically loving Croatian family. He said many times in his later, very prosperous life: “Our house was a house of poor people, but filled with mutual love and respect.”

Political stand had always occupied a very large space in Mojmir’s life and it was political turmoils just at the brink of World War II that saw Mojmir flee his beloved Croatia, forging a life path that would be memorable, fruitful and above all exemplary of humanity and human compassion. For there was never a single person who came at his door asking for help or a single person Mojmir met in the streets needing help that Mojmir did not help. “No questions asked” – was Mojmir’s motto in helping someone in need.

Love for Croatia, the independent Croatia, was almost more important than the daily bread in his childhood home as his father, an honest and decent man, was an ardent follower of Stjepan Radic (1871-1928) – the man whose political policies promoted love for Croatia and the Croatian people. Anton, and then his son Mojmir, always promoted freedom of Croatia, which proved to be very dangerous for Mojmir during his young life in Croatia, ravaged at the time by the dictatorship of the Serbian Monarchy and then after World War II by the Yugoslav communists.

A misfortune of incalculable gravity struck young 12-year-old Mojmir when his father died suddenly from a sudden infectious disease. His role in helping his mother at the family small farming fields suddenly became a heavier burden – but the boy Mojmir persisted, almost competing with himself to help and please his struggling mother.   Mojmir, though, soon realised that after his father’s death he could accept anything except living in Blato.

Barely fifteen years old he headed to the nearby bay of Prigradica, caught the boat to the town of Korcula where he would spend a couple of years as apprentice waiter at a local hotel. The little money he did earn as apprentice was almost all sent to his struggling mother in Blato in order to ease her burden harsh poverty brought about. There he found his first love Lucy but that wasn’t to be – youth had many pulls and one of Mojmir’s was to give up fighting for his first love, to give up waiting for her to become of age – and go and pursue his dream, which was to conquer the poverty he was born into.

Mojmir had by now proven that adversity had not been stronger than him – he would take adversity on and shape it into a better future.
And so at the ripe age of 17, although heartbroken, the strong desire to progress in life, the desire for a better life and better opportunities led him in 1938 to leave the island of Korcula and work at a hotel in Herceg Novi near Dubrovnik and then in 1939 to hotel “Mlini” in Dubrovnik where he earned a higher wage than he could even imagine while on the island of Korcula. He could now help his mother in Blato and save some money for his future.

Mojmir’s will to succeed and better himslef soon, in the same year of 1939, saw him head for Croatia’s capital Zagreb where he found a job as a waiter with a wage that continued to impress him and surpass the dreams of the boy born into poverty in a big village on a not too big an island in Croatia. This was the moment in Croatia’s tortured history when Croatia became an autonomous province – known as Banate of Croatia – within the oppressive and cruel Kingdom of Yugoslavia under the Serbian Monarchy. Mojmir hoped that the establishment of the Banate or autonomous province would be a path through which Croatia would achieve its long-desired independence and freedom. But, Croatia was mercilessly torn apart internally by the communist movement whose goal was far from a free and independent Croatia. Forces against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and subordination in Croatia to the Serbian King were also tearing Croatia apart. All this political turmoil and distress threatening further reductions of freedom in Croatia caught Mojmir and many like him who had always stood for a free Croatia in a swell of unrest.


In the early months of 1941 Mojmir like many of his generation joined the “Ustashe Youth” movement in Croatia – the movement that had independent Croatia as its primary and the only goal for the country as a whole. But, shock was to hit him soon after when he discovered in May 1941 that the Ustashe movement for independent Croatia had agreed to the crowning in Rome of the Italian Prince Aimone, 4th Duke of Aosta, House of Savoy, as King Tomislav II of Croatia. Mojmir saw this crowning as betrayal of the Croatian people and it was more than he could stand and watch unfolding – almost immediately in June 1941 he sought to flee that homeland he loved and the closest destination from where he stood was Vienna, Austria.

Vienna greeted him in August 1941 with the dazzling, the bright, and the light but also the strange sensations – he used to say. He walked right into a job there in a factory making airplane parts and never missed a month sending money to his mother in Blato who depended entirely on his help. It was in 1942 that he found a job as a waiter in “Mein Stube” restaurant in Vienna – a place where Austrian and German elite met, ate and socialised and the place that, for ease of local pronunciation, gave him a Germanised name “Fritz”.

Immediately after World War II ended in May 1945 Mojmir decided to go and visit his mother in Blato, Croatia. He rode on the “Allied forces train” from Vienna through southern Austria and Slovenia into Croatia and saw with his own eyes the horrors of thousands of slaughtered, massacred innocent Croatian bodies, strewn across the fields and over the many shrubs at and around the Bleiburg field. Breath stopped in his throat – he could not even imagine horrors of these proportions, let alone see them. These horrors of communist crimes he never forgot and they followed him all his life, welling tears of pain into his eyes as easily as the rain falls, forever making his love for Croatia stronger and stronger.


The local operatives communist “people’s power” took him in for questioning as soon as he arrived in Blato; they considered him an enemy of the communist Yugoslav state – he had lived in Austria during the war and was in heart and mind a follower of the Croatian independence Radic movement, just as his father used to be. He was expedited to Dubrovnik for further questioning or better said – interrogation or inquisition by communists whose only aim was to purge Croatia of those who did not agree with communism. He soon discovered that local Blato communist men were planning to kill him during the night of his return to Blato from Dubrovnik. He’d heard such purges were frequent under the new communist regime, he’d seen the deaths at and he swiftly fled Blato. He planned to return to Vienna but was caught and arrested while on the train through Slovenia towards Austria by the communist operatives who did not tolerate Mojmir’s identification as Croat rather than Yugoslav.

He committed no crime but still found himself in the Yugoslav communist prison at Maribor in Slovenia where he was tortured, humiliated and kept hungry for several months. When released via intervention of local friend he needed three months to recover – he was so beaten and exhausted from torture by the communists.

In the early months of 1946, hiding and looking behind his shoulders in fear of being caught again by the communists, he managed to smuggle himself back to Vienna – where he joined Hilda and his son Peter and lived with them to the beginning of 1947 when Hilda left to live with her parents and took Peter with her.

In 1949 while still in Vienna he married Diana, whose father was a Jew and mother a Catholic, whose father and sister perished in Nazi Concentration camps – Auschwitz and Mauthausen. Fleeing Austria with Diana, making sure he left adequate money to provide for his son Peter’s education in Austria, after spending brief time at a refugee camp in Germany Mojmir and Diana sailed from Germany in January 1951 for Australia. Mojmir was determined to start a new life and beat poverty, yet again. Soon after arriving in Melbourne they were directed to the refugee camp Bonegilla, near Albury at the border between Victoria and New South Wales, from where Mojmir went to work as labourer at the well known Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. Within months, as Diana preferred living in a city, he said, they were transferred to the Sydney’s Villawood refugee camp from where they both worked in factories, creating a new life but never without yearning for his homeland Croatia and never without sending money to his mother in Blato so she too could live the new life he was creating.

Mojmir Damjanovic Sydney, Australia, 2002

Mojmir Damjanovic
Sydney, Australia, 2002

By 1952 Mojmir and Diana had saved enough money to try in their new country Australia their luck at that which Mojmir knew best from his childhood – farming. He worked the farm and grew tomatoes on someone else’s land at the outskirts of Sydney while still working a full time factory job. Mojmir did this to 1955 as he expanded his farming into poultry farming – egg production. In 1958 he brought his beloved mother Vica from Blato in Croatia to live with them on the farm, where she stayed for 10 years to finally leave Australia so she could be buried with her Anton one day when she died.

Between 1954 and 1965 Mojmir’s marriage to Diana was blessed with three sons he loved and wanted around him all his life – Ronald , Daniel and Joseph – Mojmir’s life did hand him a sorrowful lot that he found almost impossible to overcome – the tragic loss of his young son Ronald in 1987.

And in poultry farming not everything went smoothly especially as in the 1970’s and 1980’s the government sought to control the production and quality of eggs to be distributed to the markets and created it’s now notoriously remembered “Egg Board”. All of us who remember the 1970’s and 80’s may also remember that Mojmir featured on TV, radio and printed news quite frequently – labeled alongside his few farmer friends as a “rebel”, fighting that establishment which sought to control poultry farmers and their produce. On 5th November 1988, on pages 81 to 86 of The Sydney Morning Herald, one could for instance, find the following tribute: “If the system is rorting you, then you are justified in law and in morals to rort it to survive…It is a hot afternoon in late October and the five rebels are gathered…to tell yet another reporter why they are prepared to lose their homes in an attempt to defy the corporation and the egg marketing system… Watching these men closely, one does not see a group of rorting farmers intent, in the rhetoric of the corporation, on making profit by ‘ratting on their mates’. One sees instead the proud Croatian face of Mr Damjanovic, 68, in heavy black-rimmed glasses…” And Mojmir was a proud Croatian man indeed who fought hard for justice on all fronts that came his way: on successfully fighting that which he saw as corruption and injustice imposed by various bodies in the shape of egg boards and commissions in New South Wales during the eighties even at the risk of losing everything.

Justice was a very important concept that ruled Mojmir’s life and he fought for it in both his private life and business and in supporting and helping multitudes that came knocking at his door. Mojmir was particularly bound by his love for Croatia and the Croatian people – opened his farm at Sydney’s Eastern Creek during the seventies to establishing a Croatian cultural and social club carrying the name of “Brothers Radic”. During the Croatian Homeland War of the 1990’s Mojmir helped countless people and donated significant funds to charities and humanitarian aid helping Croatia survive the terrible war of aggression against it. After the Homeland War he pursued his help towards justice for victims of communist crimes and was a lifelong honorary member of the Croatian Victimological Society seated in Zagreb. To his dying day Mojmir sought to protect the Croatian souls of political persecution, the innocent souls whose only sin in life was their true love for an independent Croatia.


Prof. dr. Zvonimir Separovic, the first foreign minister of independent Croatia, the first UN representative in New York of independent Croatia, the current president of the Croatian Victimological Society, wrote about Mojmir’s death on the society’s webpage and said, among other things: “Mojmir was a dear, big man. He came from Blato on the island of Korcula, from a poor family of Veli Ucijak precinct, who had a hard life, but also – a wealthy and a successful life. His life was hard as he had to leave his home in search for bread, across Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Vienna to far Australia. He was persecuted and a victim of communist totalitarian regime…”


May you rest in peace dear friend Mojmir.

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


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