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

Rebuttal to Seb Starcevic’s Rant Claiming Croatian Celebration of Fascism in Australia

 

Seb Starcevic’s article is an example that evidences the fact that we still do not live in a post-truth world and never have. On the contrary, we live in a pre-truth world where truth is yet to arrive.

Seb Starcevic’s article “In Australia, some Croats openly celebrate fascism,” published  on Balkaninsight portal on 10th September 2019 presents to the public a point on the continuum of vicious Serb anti-Croat propaganda, often weaved with tangents of malicious historical lies and allegations of some sort of terrorism and fascism being alive and kicking within the Australian Croatian community.  Apart from the evidently calculated intention to inflict damage to the reputation of the Croatian people in Australia, even though he uses the phrase “some Australian Croats”, it does seem that the article was also written in order to throw the truth-seeking scent off the current historical research in Croatia that has the capacity of debunking the Serb-led propaganda about WWII Jasenovac camp in Croatia. Sonja Biserko a Serbian campaigner for human rights, the founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia stated in recent years that the Serbian history is based on lies and myths and so it is of no surprise that the maintenance of such history has been transported into Australia by those of Serb extraction.

Starcevic opens his article saying that in Sydney’s western suburbs a Croatian club flies two flags: Australian and the flag of the WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH. Contrary to innuendo in Starcevic’s article suggesting some criminal activity he attempts to associate with this flag, Australian law does not prohibit the NDH flag on its soil and it is not unlawful to fly similar flags of legitimate historical states or states who fought for independence but did not succeed in their fight. Starcevic would perhaps like the public to think that by flying the NDH flag some sort of soft fascism, if not fully blown fascism in practice is at the core of it! Nothing could be further from the truth. While in his article Starcevic calls WWII Croatia a Nazi puppet state he omits to say that Serbia was one also and that WWII flag of Serbia is also raised at some Serbian clubs and Chetnik organisations in the diaspora (and that flag represents Milan Nedic’s and Serb Chetnik’s fight against communists in collaboration with the Nazis, responsible for the first Jew-free country in WWII Europe). The important thing about the NDH flag raised at the club Starcevic writes about is that it is the flag that represents Croatia’s struggle for independence and, given the horrific times of the 20th century that struggle occurred in, one can with regret say that there were crimes committed by members on all sides, but the truth is also  that  majority of members of the independence movements did not commit crimes. And that is a historical fact.

Then, in a malicious attempt to paint the Australian Croats as terrorists, his article goes into telling the public about Dr Kristy Campion’s historical terrorism research that also delves into Croatian Ustasha activities in Australia in the 1960’s and the 1970’s.  He conveniently omits to also refer to modern day facts as found after the release to the public of relevant Commonwealth of Australia Archives a few years back that are said to have revealed a collaboration between secret services – parts of Australian ASIO and Yugoslav (read Serb) UDBA – which can be associated with the framing of Croatian immigrants for planning terrorist activities. Starcevic further omits to mention that in Campion’s bibliography there is a significant reference to “Alleged Croatian Terrorist Organisation” and NOT “Croatian Terrorist Organisation” (PDF).  It would seem too much to expect that Starcevic would even consider the truth or a possible truth about Australian Croats given that such truth shows up his writings as nothing more than blatant hate speech.

After referring to a former Croatian Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor as having said that no one should dismiss the crimes of the WWII Ustashe regime Starcevic goes on to say: “…But that didn’t stop Australia’s Croatian community from hosting an assortment of far-right figures in 2018, including journalist Igor Vukic and Croatian politician Zeljko Glasnovic, who have downplayed the crimes of the Ustasa regime. In a speaking tour called ‘Croatia Uncensored’, Vukic, Glasnovic and others visited Croatian clubs around Australia to discuss a variety of controversial topics, including the ‘the myth and lies of Jasenovac’, a concentration camp established by the Ustasa in WWII. The number of those who perished in the camp is regularly disputed by right-wing politicians and commentators in Croatia.” The fact is that the claimed and estimated numbers of those perished in Jasenovac range from the ludicrous and physically impossible 1 million, to some 40,000, and these numbers do not come from right-wing politicians so why wouldn’t the right-wing politicians, or any politician for that matter, go about disputing the numbers! In fact, and for the truth’s sake, it is desirable to dispute them and delve into research to come to the truth.

While Starcevic omits to corroborate with verifiable references his generalised claims that Vukic, Glasnovic etc “have downplayed the crimes of Ustasa,” one would expect from a journalist making such claims to provide in the same article some evidence or corroboration for his claims that during the “Croatia Uncensored” speaking tour in Australia there was “downplaying of the crimes of the Ustasha regime” as well as to the claim that research into Jasenovac camp constitutes a controversial topic! Since when do attempts to find the truth through historical research constitute a controversy? Or are we dealing here with possible fear in Starcevic and those like him that Serb propaganda will eventually be proven a lie, scientifically and factually?

How deplorable it is for a journalist to write about two historical researchers (Kristy Campion and Igor Vukic) in the same article and in that same article label one of the researchers (the one who researched Croatian Ustashe of late 1960’s and 1970’s/Campion) with credibility and the other (researching historical documentation and archives on WWII Jasenovac) as being controversial! It would seem that Starcevic would ignore the integrity of fact-based historical research on WWII Croatia if it bit him on the back side.

From Left: Zeljko Glasnovic, Josip Jurcevic, Tom Sunic, Igor Vukic
Croatia Uncensored tour 2018

Furthermore, as one of the organisers of the 2018 “Croatia Uncensored” talking tour in Australia I can confirm that the tour was organised in order to raise Croatian public discussion on existing barriers in Croatia preventing the development of a fully functional democracy and to give support to the various scientific historical research endeavours, such as Vukic’s, that aim to present verifiable historical facts on the victims of Jasenvac camp. If Vukic is to be called by derogatory names and insulted as Starcevic does in his article, for attempting to break the myth and lies about Jasenovac then that name-calling talks about Starcevic more than what it does about Vukic. Vukic’s research (and research of others on the same issue) is particularly relevant given the rampant and wild estimates of victims that allegedly perished in WWII Jasenovac camp at the hands of Ustashe that keep the world ill-informed and Croats generally vilified. The historical fact in pursuits of the truth is that Jasenovac remained open until 1953 and that it was used for post-WWII communist purges. Surely to reach a post-truth existence one needs to confirm by documentary and testimonial research what was what! It is a fact that research into Jasenovac camp has been alarmingly non-existent, scarce or inadequate during the decades of communist Yugoslavia regime. Why would anyone want to stop or thwart any research into history – regardless of the outcome of such research!?

Starcevic goes further in his attempt to vilify Australian Croatians by saying that several clubs pay tribute to convicted war criminals such as Slobodan Praljak and Dario Kordic but fails miserably to tell his readers that the conviction in the Hague rested upon some political support or “chain of command responsibility” and no evidence was presented to the court that, for instance, Kordic ever ordered any killings. Hearsay evidence and political constructs reportedly played a significant part in court judgments and Praljak committed suicide in the Hague courtroom as judgment against him was pronounced – maintaining his innocence of crimes the court had convicted him of. Given that fact, and given the professionally reported political weight weaved into the very indictments and judgments that saw these two Croats convicted of war crimes in the Hague, who personally committed no crimes, one would think that if someone decides to hail as heroes these two men then that someone is not guided by some Croatian nationalistic creed but by the very perceptions that justifiably enter a human mind upon such occasions and circumstances. The democracy we live in cherishes personal opinions as a given right but frowns upon opinions designed to vilify entire communities as Starcevic appears to be doing.

Starcevic says further in his article: “In recent years, this rhetoric has escalated to anti-Serb vandalism and death threats. In 2016, a Serbian Orthodox church in Geelong was vandalised with the Ustasa logo, swastikas and fascist slogans such as ‘the only good Serb is a dead Serb’…” For the first time, ever, through this article written by Starcevic the Australian Croats are associated with the said vandalism! Unless Seb Starcevic knows the facts as to who the perpetrator/s of this criminal vandalism was/were but failed to publish the details in his article, then only one conclusion is possible: Seb Starcevic is on the bandwagon of the propaganda whose only aim is to vilify Croats; to spread hatred and hate speech. That is absolutely unacceptable and utterly un-Australian! Besides, how can anyone tell that it may not have been an Australian Serb who committed that vandalism on the Orthodox church in Geelong? Why write about this act of vandalism in this article about Australian Croats? Certainly, to my knowledge, no one had been arrested for or charged with that crime, Croat or otherwise. The idea that it could have been a Serb who vandalised the church with Ustasha logo is not far-fetched when we know that the Australian Serb Vitomir Misimovic infiltrated in the 1970’s the Australian Croatian community pretending to be a Croat named Vico Virkez only to frame and falsify his court testimony against the so-called Croatian Six for terrorism. We know that those Croats were convicted of attempted terrorism, we know they served jail sentences for it, but we also now know that they were framed by no other than Australian Serbs, Yugoslav (Serb) Secret Police UDBA.

Starcevic’s viciously malicious intent to vilify Croats through innuendo is also palpable in the following paragraph of his said article: “On Tuesday, a Sydney resident named Ivan – who is Croatian – tweeted about seeing a man on a train with an Ustasa tattoo on his leg. Ivan told BIRN the man looked to be in his early twenties and was wearing shorts that exposed the Ustasa logo on the back of one of his calves,” writes Starcevic. Well Mr Starcevic can you or BIRN please ask that “Sydney resident Ivan” whether the man on the train with Ustasa tattoo on his leg is actually of Croatian extraction! Guess what Mr Starcevic – Prince Harry wore a Swastika on his sleeve in public only a few years ago!  Ina Vukic

 

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