“It would be glib to say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, but it would be equally as reckless to allow a morose Croatia political system to hoodwink a new generation of Croats growing up in a free, independent and democratic Croatia”
Writes Branko Miletic
In Singapore there is a WWII memorial called the War Memorial Park, which is a popular tourist attraction. This is because beneath the huge obelisk marker that honours the city-state’s war dead are buried the remains of all those Singaporeans who fell victim to the brutality of the Japanese occupation between 1942-45.
So after 72 years and countless requests from both the citizens of the Republic of Croatia and the wider Diaspora, the time has come for Croatia to build a permanent memorial to all the victims of the Bleiburg atrocity for the sake of their memory and that of future generations.
Why such a monument cannot be placed in the centre of Zagreb is a matter of discussion, however suffice to say, it would be a fitting way that any civilised, modern democracy would and should honor innocent victims of the horrors of wars past.
The name Bleiburg has become synonymous with the massacres perpetrated by Tito’s Partisans that resulted in the death of up to 300,000 people. It is estimated that two-thirds of these were Croats.
From those 200,000 victims, it has also been calculated that anywhere up to 20 per cent or some 40,000 people were non-military personnel – i.e. civilians.
So the question remains, why there has been no official, government-led recognition of this horrendous historical event in Croatia itself? After all, Croatians now have the ability and opportunity to write history their way, in their own words and through a purely Croatian perspective.
It is also hard to explain why Croatians in the Diaspora, some of whom have the financial and networking means to push or even plan an official, Croatian-based memorial for the horror of Bleiburg choose not to do so.
Perhaps it is apathy, ignorance or maybe even a touch of shame at the scale of the killings, but regardless of the reason, it does the Croatian people no favours by playing this event down or ignoring from a government perspective.
It would be glib to say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, but it would be equally as reckless to allow a morose Croatia political system to hoodwink a new generation of Croats growing up in a free, independent and democratic Croatia into forgetting the sacrifices that their forebears made well before the first shots were fired back in 1991.