Croatia: Poor Levels of Democratisation Continue as Corruption Prevails

Over the past thirty years, Croatia has witnessed democratic transitions take root across all levels of government and society. That was, after all, the choice its people had overwhelmingly made from 1990. Millions of oppressed people in Croatia, who voted in 1991 (94% of voters) to secede from and sever all ties with the totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia, are still struggling to realise true freedom and shared opportunity due to deep rooted corruption in governments. The transition from communism to democracy has since year 2000, after President Dr Franjo Tudjman’s death, been teetering on the edge of truly meaningful transition to more free society because former communist high operatives in Yugoslavia took hold of the government and power in their main stations.

Democratic gains made up to year 2000 stalled after that year or even deteriorated as fragile democratic institutions buckled under the enormous challenges of governance that was and is still nurturing corruption and nepotism and equal opportunities and competition on merit rather than political suitability remained the enemy of true progress with democracy.

It is usual to keep asking the question of how far along has Croatia come in developing its democracy after all these years? How does one measure the degree and even the type of democracy Croatia was desirous of developing and for which it spilled rivers of its own blood during the Homeland War of 1990’s?

Despite a vast academic literature on democratisation in the past twenty years in particular, the factors that allow some democratic transitions to succeed as others stall or backslide remain poorly understood by policymakers and, indeed, much of the public or consumers of democracy. And particularly so in Croatia which sees incompetent, often with strong traces of communist indoctrination, people employed in government institutions through family or friendship ties (nepotism) regardless of their abilities to perform the job they are employed to do. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the relative importance of economic development and modernisation, economic structure, inequality, governance and rule of law, civil society and media, structure of government, and education have been exhaustively debated throughout the world and so too in Croatia.

Several civil society and academic organisations have launched projects that measure the health of democracies across the world. Components of measuring democracy and according to three indexes, among many, are as follows:
Freedom House Index:
• Elections • Participation • Functioning of Government • Free Expression
• Organisational Right • Rule of Law • Individual Rights
Economist Intelligence Unit Index: • Elections • Participation • Functioning of Government • Political Culture • Civil Liberties
V-Dem Index: • Elections • Participation • Deliberation • Egalitarianism
• Liberalism (individual rights)

While one would struggle to find a body or institution, or even professional research, in Croatia whose main aim is to provide measures and progress and state of democracy in Croatia it is perhaps most useful to examine the two basic indicators of democratisation that can be used separately to measure the level of democracy, but, because they are assumed to indicate two different dimensions of democratisation, it is reasonable to argue that a combination of them would be a more realistic indicator of democracy than either of them alone. These are Participation and Competition. Participation is as important dimension of democracy as competition. If only a small minority, or barely half of the adult population eligible to vote takes part in elections, the electoral struggle for power is restricted to the upper stratum of the population, and the bulk of the population remains outside national politics and influence for change. In Croatia there has been both dwindling and gradual decline of turnout at elections since year 2000, Parliamentary or National Assembly/Sabor and Presidential elections have followed a similar trajectory of participation reduction.

In the first multi-party elections in 1990, at the dawn of wanting secession from communist Yugoslavia, three parliamentary chambers were elected in a two-round majoritarian system: the Social-Political Council, the Council of Municipalities and the Council of Associated Labour. Turnout for the election each chamber varied. It was as follows: Social-Political council (84.5% in first round in all constituencies, 74.82% in second round in 51 of 80 constituencies), Council of Municipalities, which was abolished in 2001, (84.1% in first round, 74.6% in second round) and Council of Associated Labour (76.5% in first round in all constituencies, 66% in second round in 103 of 160 constituencies).

In 1991 the referendum for secession from Yugoslavia, the Croatian Independence Referendum, saw a staggering 93.24% electoral turnout and participation.
In 1992 General Elections for Parliament or National Assembly saw an admirable 75.6% turnout,
1995 elections saw 68.8% turnout,
2000 elections saw 70.5% turnout,
2003 saw 61.7% turnout,
2007 elections saw 59.5%,
2011 elections saw 54.3% turnout,
2015 elections saw 60.8% turnout,
2016 elections saw 52.6% turnout,
2020 elections saw 46.4% turnout.

Similar pattern of dwindling and reducing participation was seen at Presidential elections in Croatia and referendums during the same decades.

One may say that reducing voter turnout is a pattern seen in many democracies across the world. For Croatia, though, a country that was so highly determined to exit the communist regime voter turnouts were expected to remain high for several decades as transition into full democracy continues. But former communists made sure such a transition was not to be smooth or thorough! Sadly! The exceptional will to fight for a fully democratic Croatia we witnessed in the 1990’s Homeland War in Croatia appears weakened and intimidated, just as it used to be during the life of communist Yugoslavia that saw progress into freedom and autonomy cruelly crushed. Today, the crushing is done in sophisticated and stealth ways.

Power sharing is then certainly more superficial in societies where voter turnout at elections that are competitive with multiple parties running is low and significant proportion of voters do not participate in deciding who and how the new governments will move forward than in societies where most of the adult population takes part in elections. Both dimensions, participation and competition, are equally important and necessary for democratisation. Political competition in Croatia has been strong with almost too many political parties and independents competing. It is often heard that comparing to its voting population (around 3.6 million) the existence of some 170 political parties, many of which compete at general elections, is a nightmare of its own. It suggests wide distrust in existing political parties and political leaders as well as the hopeless notion that just about anyone can be a politician and successfully lead the country. But does such a relatively high level of competition compensate for the relative lack of participation in the democratic processes in Croatia is a question the answer to which is obviously no. Just as a high level of participation cannot compensate for a low level of competition. While closely associated with the level of democratisation each of these two dimensions contain factors and facets that are equally important if democracy will thrive.

The level of democratisation is considered high if both participation and competition variables are high. While competition is high in Croatia its value for democratisation is low because elections have since year 2000 become not free elections but rather marred by justified distrust in the electoral commission, in vote counts and corrupt practices. Hence, competition at elections in Croatia means very little as the overt healthy competition does not end up with healthy or trusted true results of voter choice. Votes stolen or falsified, or suspected of being stolen and fabricated, is a scandal that had blanketed all general elections in Croatia since year 2000.

Gradually, over the past two decades in Croatia voter distrust has become the main culprit for relatively low participation. The justified fear of unwanted communist mindset and practices having crept into Croatia’s power corridors has influenced significant disappointment and distrust in the electoral procedures and democracy itself, which led to significant voter abstinence during elections. One often hears in Croatia ‘what’s the use of voting when the election results have been determined or fixed in advance’! In more than two decades Croatian authorities have failed miserably in building people’s trust in the electoral system and have in this way also contributed to a relatively poor level of democratisation. Croatia has failed miserably at providing for proper and due access to polling stations for all its voters and voters living abroad, which are many due to massive emigration, suffer the gravest discrimination and denial of voting right through lack of reasonable access to polling.

Measuring democratisation of Croatia has not, as I said, been pursued in Croatia with any vigour, regularity, credibility, or reliability. Perhaps that is because the government is not in the business of either measuring its democracy itself or funding NGO’s or institutions to do the measuring of progress. Perhaps also because of fear of reprisals from the government in case any such measure inevitably means criticism of the government. It is not unusual in Croatia to see government critics and opponents being ostracised, ignored, or blackened purposefully. But thankfully external organisations across the world who monitor democracy and democratisation have produced ample reports and studies on the state of democracy in Croatia and while some may be biased on political grounds many provide solid guiding information. For example, in 2020 Freedom House has in its ‘Nations In Transit’ report among other things said the following about democracy in Croatia:

“The year 2020 saw no real improvement in Croatia’s democracy… In 2020, the Croatian judiciary convicted former prime minister and HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) leader Ivo Sanader, as well as the HDZ itself, on corruption and money-laundering charges. These convictions came more than 10 years after the crimes were committed and may yet be appealed. Sanader and the HDZ had previously been convicted in 2014, but those sentences were later overturned.

The year was marked by notable cases of grand corruption, including a major pre-election scandal involving the high-ranking HDZ official and former Knin mayor Josipa Rimac. Alongside a dozen other important political figures, Rimac stood accused of favouritism in assigning a lucrative wind farm contract. An illegal private club in Zagreb frequented during the COVID-19 lockdown by politicians (including the president) was run by Dragan Kovacevic, former CEO of the state-owned oil transport company JANAF. Under his leadership, JANAF mismanaged public procurements, and Kovacevic was found to have personally accepted large bribes. These and other instances demonstrated a pattern: unless scandals come to the surface through journalistic investigations or other means, Croatian institutions do not wholeheartedly pursue inquiries into grand corruption…

The relatively large electoral competition in Croatia has seen during the past five years increased electoral campaign-finance laws passed that have increased transparency but, also, have failed to close several loopholes. Political influence over the media is strong, with reporters who criticise the government subject to dismissal, and defamation suits often used to intimidate or harass journalists. Media pluralism is quite limited. Hence, high competition hides low competition as access to mainstream media by all competitors is selective and discriminatory.

Regulations are sometimes inconsistent and subject to frequent change. Courts lack independence, and a significant case backlog persists. High-profile politicians and public figures have been indicted, but many prominent individuals have been acquitted after interference by powerful interests.”

The state of democratisation in Croatia has not changed since 2020, which saw the lowest turnout at presidential and general elections in the history of Croatian independence and secession from communist Yugoslavia. Participation, therefore, as a key variable in the level of democracy is dangerously low and with grand corruption (corruption at all levels of society and economy whether by theft, nepotism or bribery) plaguing the country still serious political crises loom. In February of this 2022 year Croatian construction minister Darko Horvat was arrested in a corruption probe and investigations continue into his alleged abuse of power while in office. In March of this year, former Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Marina Lovric Mercel was sentenced by the Zagreb County Court to seven years in prison for a series of corrupt practices while running one of Croatia’s poorest counties.

Until a different path is taken by the country’s leadership, the government first and foremost, it is unlikely that Croatia’s democracy will fundamentally improve. It is likely that the communist mindset will continue ruling; it is likely that corruption and thievery will hold their front of co-dependency within the leadership and power corridors unless, of course, drastic measures are taken by the people that have at their helm a steel determination to rid Croatian power lines of communists and communist Yugoslavia high operative’s children and grandchildren whose mindset and behaviour have been shaped by communism.

It is said that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear! It is impossible to make something very successful or of high quality out of something which is unsuccessful or of poor quality. Yugoslav communists knew ‘sod all’ about democracy and they did not care for true democracy and power sharing; egotistic pursuits were the threads in the fabric of Yugoslav communist pursuits. Since year 2000 Croatian leadership has been saturated with the proverbial sows! People in positions because of their political weight and personal association with those already in power and not because of professional merit. Democratisation in Croatia maintains a cosmetic mask – Croatia’s leaders keep associating themselves and their policies with those of the European Union. But, in fact, the application and practice of those policies are at pathetic level ruled by corrupt practices on the ground. Ina Vukic

Croatia: A Nation’s Unrelenting Grief and Suffering On 29th Anniversary of Serb Aggression

Zeljko Glasnovic (Top centre), Jure Buric (bottom right corner), Tomislav Mercep (bottom right centre), Mato Mostarac (top right)

It has been a balmy breeze I stood in all this poignant week in Sydney, Australia, as I watched and participated in the profoundly moving emotions of the grieving Croatian nation. It was a week of the 29th anniversary of the blood-soaked fall of Vukovar in 1991, of bestial massacres of Croatians by Serbs in Skabrnja, of the death of widely revered hero who tried with all his might and unstoppable courage to prevent the Yugoslav and Serb aggressor decimating the Croatian people – Tomislav Mercep (according to multitude of credible claims, convicted by Croatian courts of war crimes on basis of trumped-up charges) and the death of dr. Anto Kovacevic, political prisoner of former communist Yugoslavia and a fearless activist for democratic and independent Croatia. I faced and saw multitudes of inconsolably sobbing widows, widowers and grown children, brothers, sisters, neighbours… of those Croatians whose life was brutally and cruelly cut short in the 1990’s during the Serb aggression against Croatia.

To make matters horribly worse and to keep the Croatian nation in perpetual grief (and anger) Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his government, which comprises of Serbs associated with 1990’s bloody aggression against Croatia, in this same week announces a new law that would provide war pensions even to the Serb civilian victims of the 1990’s in Croata! The agony Plenkovic and his government are inflicting upon Croatian victims of Serb aggression has no bounds it seems.

This Croatian government’s mindset is deplorable and depraved.  

As far as I can see that new law does not even take into consideration the fact that most Serb civilians in the rebel-Serb areas of Croatia brutalised, ethnically cleansed of Croats, occupied for years by those Serbs, would not satisfy the definition of civilians because they were complicit in one way or another with the aggression, tortures, banishments of Croats, murders … any so-called Serb civilians participated in Serb hostilities against Croats in Croatia before and during the Homeland War and the new law and its regulation does not appear to provide measures of essential proof as to who was a “true” civilian and who was a “civilian combatant”, helping willingly the anti-Croat Yugoslav and Serb military on their path of destruction, murder, genocide, torture, rape, ethnic cleansing.

I did not see during this week of mourning in Croatia either the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic or the President Zoran Milanovic summon the people of Croatia to look beyond grief, to believe that the deaths they mourned had not been in vain. The President Zoran Milanovic laid a wreath in Vukovar’s Ovcara memorial field where the Serbs in 1991 slaughtered hundreds of Croatian wounded and sick, carting them off to their execution at that spot from the devastated Vukovar Hospital but je said not a single word while or after laying the wreath; his lips did not move, not even in silent prayer for the slaughtered victims. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic walked with the procession from Vukovar’s hospital to the Ovcara killing field, saying that “it is important to pursue information about those still missing,” from the Homeland War. But in that procession of remembrance he took with him his deputy prime minister, Boris Milosevic, a Serb, who came to Vukovar to lay a wreath for the aggressor and murdering Serbs who died during their bestial attacks against Croatians!

Speaking about the presence of Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic in the procession of remembrance in Vukovar, Plenkovic said that “Croatia won the Homeland War and thus extended a hand for coexistence to minorities… These are the messages of the future, focused on the values we share…” To add salt to the wounds of the atrocious attempts to equate the victims with the aggressor in Croatia, the Special Envoy of the President of Serbia for Resolving the Issue of Missing Persons with Croatia, Veran Matic, also huddled in Vukovar with a wreath for victims. His presence is mockery of Croatians, both fallen and living – both he and Serbia’s President Aleksander Vucic have and had means to access information about the missing Croatians from the days of aggression and still after almost 30 years they all keep silent with that information, hiding it on purpose.  And there are no messages to that effect coming from either the President or the Prime Minister of Croatia!

As to Serb civilians being “civilian combatants” in aid of Serb aggression against Croatia I am reminded this week of the heart-wrenching story of a Croatian man from Croatia’s Vukovar who ended up in Sydney, Australia, to recover from unspeakable tortures by the hand of Serb “civilians” during the 1990’s after the International Red Cross had come across the Manjaca concentration camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mato Mostarac told his harrowing story in 1995 to the ABC TV documentary program Four Corners, which was producing the award-winning documentary film “The Coward’s War”, headed by Australia’s renowned investigative journalist Chris Masters. I myself assisted as psychologist and interpreter in the interviewing for the documentary film of the deeply traumatised survivors of Serb aggression.

Mato Mostarac’s Serb neighbours in Vukovar broke into his yard in late August 1991, beat his wife who cowered in pain and was paralysed from it, and forcefully took him with other Croats in a truck to the Begejci concentration camp in Serbia, for a while in Begejci and then transferred to the Serb-held Manjaca concentration camp (Bosnia and Herzegovina); a death camp of brutality unseen since WWII. Serbs cut and chopped Mato and the other Croatian victims with a razor blade over their bodies and faces, tortured and raped or forced them to watch a detainee father rape his detained son and vice versa… Many indications show that Serb civilians were largely not civilians but cruel torturers and murderers of Croats, in aid of the communist and Serb aggression against Croatia. When I met Mato Mostarac, his whole face and body were marked with numerous thin and long scars from razor blade cuts… Here is a bit of what Mato Mostarac told us at the shooting of the 1995 Australian state television documentary ABC “The Coward’s War”:

„After they (Serbs) took their turns I was completely covered in blood. I had a white jumper on, and everything was soaked in blood. I ate all my blood, dried blood, it dried all over me. I’d pluck it together with the fibres from the jumper and all that. I’d eat all that event the blood from my hair. I ate everything … hungry…hungry…and they just give you water…“

As to the passing of Tomislav Mercep and on the fact that some consider Mercep a national hero while others (mainly die-hard communists of former Yugoslavia) consider him a war criminal, here is what, according to Fenix Magazine, Croatian newspaper base din Germany, dr Jure Buric (wartime Mayor of devastated Dubrovnik, former member of Croatian Parliament) said this week:

„Tomislav Mercep – for some a hero, for others a criminal. The latter have a court verdict they can wave around for something like that, and the former have common sense and a good memory of his heroic deeds at a time when a rifle and a cannon and a pencil and a bad word attacked him and his homeland. Is it heroism to defend his home? It is! Is it heroism to defend your people? It is!

And? – there is further and no further. There is no further, because when a man defends himself, he can do something dishonourable, but even that dishonourable deed should be viewed through the prism of reality and the moment when we cannot all control our emotions and actions, because it is not a ballroom dance with pleasant music and chess. The buzzing of bullets and destructive grenades are the music here, and on the board are living, not wooden figures. So who is who ?! A punishment is enough for an honest man if he realises that he did something dishonourable, because he has to live with it. He doesn’t even need a punishment that will make the other side happy and drive him to the grave ahead of time.

For such a thing, courts and court scales are needed, on which everything should not be thrown in order for the desired party to prevail.

With Tomislav Mercep, the court scales tipped against him and it was not easy for him or us to watch the hero rot, like my friend the late prefect Đuro Brodarac (who died in prison), who was met by the same fate.

Only you, the latter, rejoice in his death, but know that there are infinitely many more of the former – those who mourn him and pray to God for his soul!“

As to Veran Matic’s visit to Vukovar this week representing Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, retired general and former Member of Croatian Parliament, Zeljko Glasnovic, summarised so clearly and aptly the widespread sentiments across Croatia and its diaspora in his Facebook status:

„Veran, continue to be “faithful to your fatherland” and do not tell empty stories once a year when you come to Croatia. What kind of reconciliation are you talking about, what kind of cooperation and search for the missing are you talking about? You know where they went missing, why don’t you tell us Veran? You come to worship falsely and provoke false sympathy. Did you lay a wreath in the centre of Vukovar where in April, 45 years ago, 200 most prominent citizens of Vukovar were killed by the army that fought under the same five-pointed star under which Vukovar was destroyed in ’91? Did you lay a wreath at a mass execution site near Vukovar where 400 Croatian soldiers were killed by the same communist villains at the same time?

You will show the true respect you are talking about only when you say ‘SORRY, WE HAVE COMMITTED AGGRESSION AGAINST CROATS, we killed you, we raped your wives, we killed your children, we looted and burned your homes, we demolished your churches, we took out eyes, cut off hands, ears and fingers of your defenders, we buried them in pits, because of us mothers do not know where the graves of their children are, we have turned your people into refugees, we killed civilians and the wounded, we massacred them, we abused them, we are still silent today about where your missing are, SORRY WE REPENT.’

The persistent equating of the victim with the aggressor does not make your kneeling credible, Veran, no matter how much you cause your knees to bleed in Ovcara and other execution sites, you and those who will come after you. Veran, what kind of delay in normalisation and the search for the missing are you talking about? There is no delay, WE do not know Veran where our people disappeared to, YOU know and are silent. Who’s at a standstill here?

Tell us, Veran, who carried out the aggression on Croatia – we defended ourselves, and died while defending our country for the freedom of our people. After your ‘pal’ Sljivancanin (Veselin) was released from prison (after serving two-thirds of 17-year sentence for ICTY war crimes in Vukovar conviction) he gave a statement that ‘he did not finish his job in Vukovar’, and you would like to reconcile? You are covering up crimes against Croats just as all Croatian governments are covering up the communist crimes from World War II.

Veran, until the last bone is found, until you all kneel and cry over your crimes, until all your war criminals are punished, until you pay the last penny, until you admit aggression, until you open the archives, NONE of you need to come to any of our anniversaries. ALL of you, Veran, are persona non grata in Croatia for me. And not only you, but also half of our government that cooperates with you as the UDBA (communist Yugoslavia Secret Services) did to cover up and forget as many crimes as possible. A prime example of this, despite all the relevant evidence, is the honourable man Nikola Kajkic, who exposed you and was no longer suitable for our institutions while in the case of the betrayal and surrender of our generals to The Hague they were very expeditious and quick: “Locate, identify, arrest, transfer “. You just continue kneeling, Veran, our killed people also knelt before you as you (all)  brutally executed them – but they received no mercy.“

No memorial or monument to Croatian suffering such as Ovcara/Vukovar and Skabrnje during the 1990’s Homeland War should be a diving board for politics and especially not the politics of equating the victim with the aggressor. This is unacceptable, cruel and designed to keep the Croatian people who fought for and defended Croatia and Croatians for independence. Perpetual grief for the sufferings Croatians endured or fell victim to has not yet steeled the Croatian people for the future they lost rivers of blood for in the Homeland War. Grief should unite towards building a better future but, alas, the Croatian government and leadership continue interrupting that positive outcome from national grief…their sights are set on diminishing the value and the direction Croatian people took at the risk of their own lives from the very bloody dawn of Serb aggression. Time to put the foot down against the thugs in Croatian government and leadership who equate brazenly and cruelly the victim with the aggressor. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Remember The Months of November!

The month of November is coming up.

In 1942 it was the month that, I believe, sealed the brutal fate of Croatian independence for decades to come like no other in the history of Croatian people.

It was the month that saw the communists of Yugoslavia hold their first organised congresses or meetings at which the communists, opposing the fight for and the creation of an independent Croatia, declared themselves as legitimate representatives of the Yugoslav people, that is, peoples living within the territory of the failed Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This was the time when Croatia had already declared independence from the dark Kingdom of Yugoslavia and was fighting for it amidst German occupation and communist aggression to save Yugoslavia. The criminal thugs against freedom, the communists put on the cloak of “antifascism” and convened the so-called Antifascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia/ ”AVNOJ” (Bihac 26 November 1942 and Jajce 29-30 November 1942).

The fact was and remains that the communists’ army, the Partisans, under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito, were nothing more than terrorists, torturers and mass murderers – for power and control over multiple nations and their territories (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia). The tragedy of this for the plight of Croatians for self-determination and independence was not only the fact that this plight was murderously silenced during WWII, it continued after WWII and it continues to this very day even though Croatia had won its war of independence in 1990’s and its formal breakaway from communist Yugoslavia in October 1991.

The tragedy against Croatian independence and democracy continues to this day perhaps because the wretched AVNOJ is embedded into the Croatian Constitution giving it wrongfully some credit in the historical achievements or milestones in the path to independent Croatia of today. This fact gives wings to former communists and their subscribers to continue running down Croatian independence and to continue giving Serbs and their declared anti-Croat Chetniks a power in decision-making at the high levels of Croatian politics and, therefore, awful macabre reality.

The reality is that the process of equating the Croat-victim with the Serb-aggressor of 1990’s Croatia remains on the appalling government’s agenda and this is done under a pretence of desired reconciliation just like the WWII Yugoslav communists killed off the Croatian independence fight under a pretence of antifascism! And hence, the history of Croatian independence plight was written by communists, filled with lies and half-truths against Croats and the same continues today where Serbs play a major part in this.     

Between 1945 and 1948, the Yugoslav communist government punished wartime fighters for the independence of Croatia. British forces in Austria captured members of disarmed Croatian Ustashe and Home-Guard forces along with thousands innocent refugees. These were returned to Yugoslavia, where Partisans summarily executed thousands of innocent Croats. The Communists often used collaboration charges to stifle political and religious opposition, as well as economic and social initiatives that would see communist Yugoslavia bankrupt anyway. The Roman Catholic Church bitterly opposed the new communist order. After the war, the Yugoslav authorities executed over 200 priests and nuns charged with participating in alleged Ustashe atrocities. The Yugoslav communists had kept open the Jasenovac camp in Croatia until about 1951 (!), which was labelled as a concentration camp where the Holocaust came to life with the extermination of Jews and others. Any attempts to research the true nature and numbers of Jasenovac victims are being dealt harsh blows – they gets called historical revisionism, with negative connotations, of course.

The irrefutable fact remains that open and unequivocal communist denunciations of anti-Semitism and reported exterminations of the Jews was not of any importance to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Indeed, the Communist Party made no efforts, urgent or otherwise, in any rescue of Jews. Whether that was because within it were many powerful Serbs who were evidently agreeable to Serbia being proclaimed Jew-free in 1942 after the extermination of some 94% of Jews in Serbia, is a point that deserves attention of historians, and political analysts. On the contrary, proclamations against anti-Semitism by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia were few and painfully sporadic, and acts of rescue or aid even more rare and painfully sporadic. Most importantly, however, the question of anti-Semitism and the unfolding European-wide Nazi genocide simply did not figure prominently on the Yugoslav communists’ agenda – which itself is a revealing fact about their ‘Jewish policy’, insofar as there was a consistent policy, or even one at all. Rescue of the Jews from the hands of the Nazis or any of their collaborators was thus never formulated as a stated objective of the Yugoslav communists.

The rescue of Jews in WWII Croatia was a strong characteristic in Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac’s efforts, indeed. He was not a communist sympathiser and, hence, to this day his enormously good deeds are more or less ignored and shunned by the powers in Croatia that have among them a large number of former communists and a relatively large number of anti-Croatian independence Serbs.

The Yugoslav Communists with their Serb Chetnik partners go to enormous lengths in covering up the atrocities they committed against freedom-loving Croats. The discovery of some 1000 mass graves of victims of communist and Chetnik crimes on Croatian soil after Croatia set on its path of independence from Yugoslavia in 1990 is a disturbing witness to the Partisans’ terrorism and murder and torture. It’s almost every week that Croatia learns of new crimes committed against its people during WWII and after WWII.

Very few people know, for example, about the gruesome Chetnik massacre of Croats that took place on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in Dugopolje near the city of Split. The crime began on October 2, 1942 and lasted for several days. Don Mijo Marović from Mravinci (Split) reported the crime to the NDH authorities on October 19, 1942. In the Chetnik massacre in Dugopolje and Kotlenice, 32 Croats were killed in the most brutally possible ways: by throwing them into the fire, gouging out their eyes while they were alive, breaking their skulls, cutting off and pulling out their hearts, etc. See full article on Narod.hr portal.

In reporting these atrocities to the NDH authorities don Kajo Marovic wrote on 19 October 1942: “… According to the above-mentioned years, it can be seen that the people who died were all old and could not escape and were weak children. Four of these were thrown into the fire, where they ended up in the most severe torment. Seven were killed with revolvers, and the rest were all slaughtered and brutally tortured. Some had their skulls cut open, their brains removed, others had their eyes gouged out alive, they were tortured and slaughtered. Others had their hearts taken out again and thrown into the field. Once they cut off a man’s head, then put his head on a pig and placed it among the horses and pigs they slaughtered. They were disfigured, it was a horror to watch them. All were buried on October 5 in the church cemetery in Dugopolje, and some even later, when they were found.

All the people of Dugopolje, 3,200 inhabitants, fled before these horrors to Dicmo, Sinj, Klis, from where they have not yet returned home from fear. One part of the people returned and took refuge in the houses that were spared. A large number of people do not even think of returning, because they have nowhere to come or anything to live on…”

For a thorough presentation of details of communist’s and Chetnik’s victims in Digopolje area I would recommend the reading of the 2011 book by Blanka Matkovic and Josip Dukic: “The Victims of Dugopolje” (Dugopoljski  žrtvoslov).  

As in November 1942 so too in November 1991 the Croatian plight for independence was suffocated with atrocities committed against it. In November 1991 the Serb and Yugoslav forces massacred hundreds of Croatians in Vukovar and its nearby Ovcara and expelled more than 20,000 Croats from that Croatian town! In November 1991 Vukovar was ethnically cleansed of its non-Serb population amidst the rivers of Croatian blood spilled for Croatia’s independence.

As Croatia in November 2020 marks commemorations of Vukovar and sufferings of Croats during the 1990’s Homeland War for independence it should also remember November 1942! The same suffering and terror were put in place, installed, in 1942 as were in 1991.

AVNOJ or Yugoslav communists have no place in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and I would personally like to see that all commemorations of victims for Croatian independence also begin to include a strong pressure and resolve to remove the mention of AVNOJ from the Constitution as a contributor to the creation of the modern democratic and independent Croatia. AVNOJ stopped independence in WWII, AVNOJ tried to stop independence during 1990’s. The truth must begin to root out the communist lies, the Serb lies and what a good time for that is November 2020! AVNOJ was written into the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia in 1990 – at the time when president Franjo Tudjman and leading figure in the movement for the independence of Croatia hoped for reconciliation between all WWII sides but since then Croatia had endured a war and an ongoing onslaught against full independence from former communists/Partisans and of course anti-Croatia Serbs. Surely, evidence enough that former communists have not given up on carrying a torch for the criminal regime that communist Yugoslavia was and even carrying a torch for the Greater Serbia lies and destructive depravities. Ina Vukic

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: