Croatian MEP Joins Urge For Stepping-Up Dealing With Communist Crimes

EPP

 

With the new European Union Parliament on the way since elections in May 2014 and the election last week of Jean-Claude Juncker as the European Commission President there is a movement that caught my attention from the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) to make stronger steps forward regarding doing something about communist crimes rather than just sitting inanimately on the EU 2009 declaration which condemned totalitarian regimes.

It is well established that the European Parliament emphasises the need to keep alive – through remembrances etc. – memories of Europe’s tragic and horrendous past in order to keep paying respect to the victims, condemn those who perpetrated the crimes and to thus build foundations for reconciliation, which foundations are to be based on truth and remembrance. It also holds that Nazism was the dominant historical experience in Western Europe while Central and Eastern Europe had experienced both Nazism and Communism to equally dominant proportions that affected nations.

Regardless of what the EU Parliament may hold, the fact remains that the “original” EU, prior to expansion into Eastern Europe, had existed, and in many instances still does, quite comfortably under the conviction that World War II was good because it fought against fascism and Nazism. Along came Eastern Europe countries that do not fit this formula, that do not share this European memory – they brought to the EU the memory of Communism in its ugly robes, the robes that can perhaps be weighed through arguments of conservative European intellectuals and historians, particularly from Germany, who in the second half of 1980’s articulated their convictions that the Holocaust was not fundamentally different to other experiences of state terror and mass extermination in the 20th century, such as Stalinism, Communism. As one may expect such claims and views were strongly repudiated by mainstream left-wing intellectuals who insisted on the uniqueness of the “Final Solution” and denounced the historians’ writings as politically charged and revisionist, despite the fact these were founded on historical truths of horrendous crimes. Ten years later, in 1997, “The Black Book of Communism” was published in France – a critique of blindness among both intellectual and political elites towards Communist crimes due to focusing entirely on the Holocaust; a critique that was immediately rebuffed by a broad front of left-wing French writers and politicians who rejected outright any direct comparison between Nazism and Communism.

In April of 2009 the EU Parliament passed its Resolution on European Conscience and totalitarianism, condemning all totalitarian regimes crimes including communist regime ones.

Meanwhile and counting, over 850 mass graves of communist crimes victims had been discovered in Croatia alone – a horror story equally as atrocious as the Holocaust.

The achievements of European post-WWII integration are often described as a direct response and a real alternative to the suffering inflicted by two world wars and the Nazi tyranny that led to the Holocaust and to the expansion of totalitarian and undemocratic Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. And, indeed, a united Europe shall never be achieved until the EU recognises Nazism, Fascism and Communism as a common legacy and persists on dealing with their crimes thoroughly. While the crimes of Nazism and fascism have been dealt with strongly ever since the Nuremberg trials immediately after WWII such justice has conspicuously eluded the communist regimes’ crimes.

Remembrance debates at the EU level over the last decade can be seen as the replication of previous struggles in EU member states over how best to deal with the past and, as such, these debates remain just that – debates. Unlike in Western European Member States, where the notion of the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust still takes centre stage as an identification-marker, I believe, due to the lack of other viable founding narratives for European integration, at the more generalised European level the idea of Nazism and Communism as equally damnable is gaining acceptance particularly in the process of EU enlargement into the Eastern European countries. The latter have thus brought into the EU different cultures of remembrance where Communism joins Nazism at the helm of condemnation.

Full integration of EU will depend on the success of the process dealing with Communist crimes; lifting these to the level the Holocaust occupies in the collective psyche and historical memory and remembrance in the EU. Perhaps the relevant EU member states will see a more visible platform for dealing with communist crimes in the coming few years especially given the contents in the EPP letter to Jean-Claude Juncker and the possibility of actions, rather than declarations, to follow on the matter.

The European project is based on common values of democracy, truth and reconciliation. The EPP Group emphasises the need to increase public awareness about European history and the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes. The EPP Group believes that the European Institutions, and notably the European Commission, should encourage a broad, European-wide discussion about the causes and consequences of totalitarian rule. This is not merely an historic or emotional problem. It is a problem for a truly comprehensive integration of Europe”, the 17 July EPP letter to Juncker states.
I strongly believe that the European project can be built only on truth and reconciliation. The European Parliament has already condemned crimes committed by totalitarian regimes. But still, we are witnessing the relativisation of these crimes, especially in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore the new Commission should continuously address this issue and support projects related to promoting European remembrance and conscience“, said Croatian Andrej Plenkovic MEP.
I am convinced that it is of key importance to raise public awareness and to encourage a broad, European-wide discussion led by the European Commission about the causes and consequences of totalitarian rule to achieve historical conciliation. It is a question of reasserting and defending European values, which are being challenged by those countries outside the EU that have not yet come to terms with the past and are using falsified history to justify aggression against their neighbours“, emphasised Latvian Sandra Kalniete MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group.
Unaddressed and neglected heritage of totalitarian crimes has proved to be a real obstacle to deepened European integration and remains a fertile soil for Euro-scepticism and extremism. Integrating different historic experiences of 28 member nations and sharing them mutually is the best guarantee of our common future“, underlined Estonian Tunne Kelam MEP.
The European Parliament emphasised in its Resolution on ‘European Conscience and Totalitarianism’ of 2 April 2009 that the goal of disclosure and assessment of the crimes committed by the Communist totalitarian regimes is reconciliation which can be achieved by admitting responsibility, asking for forgiveness and fostering moral renewal.
In order to attain the objectives of the EP 2009 Resolution, EPP Group MEPs believe that it is necessary that one of the new European Commissioners in Juncker’s team also includes in her/his portfolio topics related to European history and remembrance. More than 20 EPP Group MEPs signed an appeal to President Juncker in this regard.
The EPP Group is also of the opinion that the European Commission should find the most appropriate means to ensure an adequate degree of institutional and financial support for the work of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience which assumed a key role in promoting the prevention of intolerance, extremism, anti-democratic movements and the recurrence of any totalitarian rule in the future. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.; M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Glorification of Communist Crimes as anti-Fascist Achievement

Bleiburg: 68th anniversary of communist massacres  Photo: Tomislav Miletic.Pixsell

Bleiburg: 68th anniversary of communist massacres
Photo: Tomislav Miletic/Pixsell

Even if, after thoroughly studying the victims of the Holocaust (some 11 million, 6 million of which were Jews) and the victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes (some 100 million), one concludes that the Nazis and their collaborators were worse criminals than the Communists, that still does not justify the massive size and inhumanity of the difference between the enormous attention paid to the crimes of the former and the appalling neglect of the latter.

During the weekend that has just passed Croatia has been confronted with the utterly ugly face of government and politically ideological discrimination against victims of horrible communist crimes. The feeling one could pick-up on the streets is that Croatia is at volatile crossroads where there seem to be only two possible outcomes: an oppressive and socially insensitive political system (akin the one that was under communist Yugoslavia) will entrench itself further into the corridors of power – and therefore society, or that those who hold the rights of all victims above all else (including political scoring) will rebel ferociously against the government that evidently has little if any empathy with Croatian suffering; be it suffering from WWII pro-Nazi collaborators or suffering from Communists and their collaborators.

Croatia’s Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, said on Saturday 11 May that he was not going to attend any of the two commemorations – one marking the 68th Anniversary of victims of WWII and post-WWII Bleiburg massacres by Croatian/Yugoslav communist Partisans, and the other marking Jasenovac camp extermination by pro-Nazi Croatian Ustashe forces) because “the competition between the two spreads intolerance…

For the Croatian Prime Minister, therefore, paying respects to the victims of WWII is an act of intolerance … spreading hatred (?)!

Absolutely unforgivable!

A commemoration marking the 68th anniversary of the mass murders of soldiers of the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and civilians by communist Partisans was held at Bleiburg field in Austria on Saturday 11 May. Some 10,000 people from all over the world gathered and remembered. Croatian government sent no one; Croatian President Ivo Josipovic did not attend nor did he send representatives. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ),main party in opposition, representative, Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect Tomislav Tolusic of said that “the ideological descendants of the criminals who committed these crimes in the aftermath of World War II are today still trying to rewrite history“.

Ideological scions of those same criminals responsible for Bleiburg and the death marches are again trying to conceal their crimes, downplay them, and push them into oblivion as well as to smear the victims. The members of that same batch do the same not only with Bleiburg but also with the Homeland Defence War,” Tolusic said.

Jasenovac: 68th anniversary of breakout of inmates of concentration camp  Photo: Nikola Culuk/Pixsell

Jasenovac: 68th anniversary of breakout of inmates of
concentration camp Photo: Nikola Culuk/Pixsell

On Sunday 12 May in Jasenovac, a commemoration was held to mark the 68th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Jasenovac concentration camp, which had been run by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime from 1941 to 1945. The commemoration called for permanent remembrance of the victims so that similar crimes would never again recur.

Croatia’s President Ivo Jospipovic attended the Jasenovac commemoration. During his speech President Josipovic called for thwarting any attempt to revive the ideology of the Holocaust and ideologies directed against other people only because they are of different ethnic or religious background.

We must not forget the experiences from Jasenovac, the Holocaust and the Ustasha ideology (of the 1941-1945 pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia, NDH) and we must not forget that the members of the Croatian people participated in them”, Josipovic said, recalling that according to the statistics of the camp, 83,301 victims were killed in the camp complex in Jasenovac, and the victims were Serbs, Jews, Roma, Bosniaks as well as Croats whom the then regime deemed to be enemies to the Ustasha ideology.

President Josipovic also said that the Croatians “can be proud of their anti-Fascist movement the victory over Nazism and of those of them who stood against crimes“. That victory (in WW II) and our victory in the (1991-1995) Homeland Defence War are the foundations of the present-day Croatian state that is about to join the European Union as a full member, Josipovic emphasised.

Well, if the truth was like Josipovic said then that truth is only half-baked.  The truth is that the anti-Fascist WWII victory came with even worse crimes committed by them than what Ustashe/pro-Nazi crimes stand for.

The truth is that anti-Fascists hide their ugly crimes by emphasizing the crimes of Ustashe.

The truth is that anti-Fascists glorify the horrid of atrocities committed by them during and after WWII!

Who wants to be proud of such a history where one criminal blames the other, and victims of one receive no justice while the victims of the other get it all?

And all fail to speak of the multitudes of Croats who wanted nothing to do with one criminal or the other!

Indeed there is competition between the two, as Prime Minister said, and its competitors are former communists (including the Prime Minister), their descendants, and today’s anti-Fascists in Croatia. The competition is all about forcing and preserving a notion of some righteousness of WWII and post-WWII communists. Well, when it comes to victims of cold-blooded murder of those who did not agree with the communists – there is no righteousness, no excuses, and no justification.

It’s a well-known fact that Communist crimes and atrocities have not received their full due anywhere in the world, so too not in Croatia. As well as in the rest of the world, in Croatia (former Yugoslavia), victims of communism outnumber even those of the Nazis (of Ustashe in Croatia). Part of the reason is that the communists, unlike the Nazis, were, due to strong post WWII political lobby and perpetually publicised Nuremberg Nazi trials, perceived as having noble motives. And, the Croatian government and the President still promote that terrible notion and battle hard to sustain such an increasingly unsustainable perception and reality.

Thankfully, the world has grown up, matured – turning in disgust and revolt against any attempts to justify murder for political gain. And communists murdered multitudes that stood against communism.
For Croatia, 1945 marked the imposition of Communist rule and return to Yugoslavia. Shielded by their fight against Nazi Germany, Communists used WWII to get rid of domestic political competition as well. Tens of thousands fell victim to Communist crimes after WWII. After liberating Croatia from Nazis and establishing the new state of Yugoslavia, Communists went after the anti-Communist Croatian army units who had retreated to Austria (Bleiburg) and surrendered to British troops. Britain, however, turned 340.000 soldiers and civilian refugees over to Yugoslav authorities who, according to different estimates, murdered up to 200,000 of them. Terror continued after Communists had secured power and by 1953, some 116,000 people had been repressed, including 26,947 killed. Although the terror later subdued, Croatia had tens of thousands political prisoners during 1948–88.
To this date over 850 mass graves of victims of WWII and post-WWII communist crimes have been discovered in Croatia alone; the search for new ones still continues.
Many hundreds of thousands (if we take the second and third generations into account) of Croatian victims of communism are still alive today and many of them are strewn all over the world. They include those that survived Bleiburg and the Croatian Way of the Cross that followed after WWII – those hunted down by anti-Fascists or communists after being forced to return to Yugoslavia … and their descendants, many thousands of dissidents subjected to political oppression, several hundreds of thousands murdered after WWII or thrown alive into pits, hundreds of thousands who had no choice but to emigrate from communist Yugoslavia because not being pro-Communism also meant unsustainable existence…dozens upon dozens assassinated abroad by Yugoslav Secret Police UDBA… and all their descendants who, as human beings, deserve recognition of their suffering and justice; the perpetrators must be held responsible whether dead or alive.

People may say that the perpetrators are mostly dead by now. Yes that is the case, but there is also the concept and the possibility to deal with criminals posthumously.

The political leadership, which places political interests above human rights, above justice for all the victims, simply cannot be allowed to thrive. Croatian government and the President of Croatia have demonstrated that they cannot lead the Croatian nation into a fully democratic society because their anti-Fascist political baggage interferes severely with humanity; discriminates between victims according to which political alignment the perpetrators belonged.

It is only natural that victims of communist crimes must have and deserve justice and if the current governing lot in Croatia is to continue in such wicked ways, denying this justice, then not only won’t all the victims receive justice, but there will be no natural justice (a pinnacle of democracy) in Croatia; unless, of course, the victims and victims’ descendants revolt and achieve that justice.

And I, a recipient of Two medals of honour for my contribution to the Croatian Homeland War victory (and I believe neither Zoran Milanovic nor Ivo Josipovic have one; both stood at sidelines guarding the communist league), personally stand here and testify:

Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic is telling a scandalous lie when he says that anti-Fascist movement stands behind the victory of Croatian Homeland War! What about the majority that fought to defend and create the independent Croatia who had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What about the Croatian diaspora that overwhelmingly fought and helped create the independent Croatia, that had nothing to do with communism or anti-Fascism? What stood behind the victory in 1990’s Homeland War was an unconditional love for Croatia, an absolute will and determination to abandon communism (anti-Fascism), to develop democracy (which, by the way, was and is not a movement that belongs to anti-Fascism), to reconcile the past by bringing justice for all victims, including the victims of communist crimes, not just a continued acknowledgment and condemnation of Holocaust crimes.

Vast majority of these qualities were never, nor are they now, attributes of anti-Fascism.

My patience is running out; my bon ton is wearing thin, and the thought springs to mind: Zoran Milanovic and Ivo Josipovic stop regurgitating the anti-Fascist bullshit, stop insulting our intelligence and human compassion, and get on with the job of making Croatia a fair and a non-discriminatory society when it comes to victims! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

SOME RELATED POSTS ON THIS BLOG

ON COMMUNIST CRIMES:

http://inavukic.com/2013/02/06/croatia-unveiling-the-impostor-that-tito-was-a-backdrop-to-communist-crimes/

http://inavukic.com/2012/10/30/croatia-catholic-church-set-on-ending-distressing-injustice-for-victims-of-communist-crimes/

http://inavukic.com/2012/08/25/croatia-governments-deafening-silence-for-victims-of-totalitarian-regimes/

http://inavukic.com/2012/08/19/1700-mass-graves-90-victims-of-communist-crimes/

http://inavukic.com/2012/07/29/fortunate-are-the-countries-spared-from-communism-after-wwii/

http://inavukic.com/2012/07/03/josip-broz-tito-embodiment-of-communist-crimes/

http://inavukic.com/2012/06/26/europe-demands-justice-for-victims-of-communism-croatia-must-follow/

http://inavukic.com/2012/06/02/croatia-stjepan-mesics-antifascist-claptrap-insults-the-truth/

http://inavukic.com/2012/04/29/croatia-government-attempting-to-belittle-wwii-communist-crimes/

Croatia: Rescue and Survival of Jews – World War II

Dr Esther Gitman

Dr Esther Gitman

New review of Esther Gitman‘s book “When Courage Prevailed :The Rescue and Survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia by Esther Gitman (Paragon House, ISBN 978-1-55778-894-8) by Mishka Gora

“No one likes to admit they have been duped, so it is no surprise that we have not seen headlines declaring that the history of Eastern Europe as we know it is largely based on Communist propaganda.  What is disquieting, however, is that there hasn’t been a rush by historians to delve into the hitherto closed archives and set the record straight.  Indeed, one of the areas that has remained largely unexamined, despite the popularity of Holocaust literature, is the rescue and survival of Jews during World War II.  Bucking this trend is Esther Gitman, whose book When Courage Prevailed details the extraordinary efforts of non-Jews to save Jews, often at great risk to their own lives, under the puppet regime of the Independent State of Croatia (which territorially also included Bosnia and Hercegovina)…”

“The most eye-opening chapter of When Courage Prevailed is perhaps the one about the Catholic Church and the Zagreb Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac who was subsequently convicted by the Communists for assisting the Ustaše in a highly political trial.  Gitman analyses diplomatic correspondence, Stepinac’s letters and “inspirational” sermons, and his interaction with both the Ustaša government and the Jewish community to argue compellingly that Stepinac “found himself between a rock and a hard place” but despite this was “outspoken” against the Ustaše and Nazis.  He also personally intervened to secure the survival of many Jews, some of whom he even gave sanctuary on church property.  Interestingly, the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb declined Stepinac’s offer of sanctuary so that he could remain with his people, but he did entrust his entire library to the Archbishop’s safekeeping and it was duly returned to the Jewish community in its entirety after the war”.

Mishka Gora’s complete review of  Esther Gitman’s book can be found at Online Opinion website or on Eyes of the Mind

Please click the book cover image on the left sidebar of this webpage (Croatia, the War, and the Future) for book purchase link.

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