By Jean W. Lunt-Marinovic,
Melbourne, 25 January 2004.
A recent newspaper opinion poll in Croatia named Tito as the greatest
Croat. Below is my response to that propaganda trick which is highly
unrepresentative of public opinion in Croatia.
As I reflect on the idea that anyone in their right mind in Croatia
could vote for Tito as the 'Greatest Croat' in a recent opinion poll,
first it needs to be said that there is no proof that all of those who
voted for Tito were of Croatian origin. A great propaganda trick it is,
and media coverage of it seems to use a similar language. There are
still a few who attempt to rehabilitate Tito.
According to the well-known American author Michael Moore, in his book
'Stupid White Men', Tito should be reincarnated in a multi-billion
dollar Lazarus Project. Moore mistakenly argues that under Tito there
was "peace" but when he died all hell broke loose. Moore needs to
research a little bit more! "Reincarnating Tito" is the heading of an
article on the internet about Kumrovec (Transitions Online). Also, the
last scene of a Croatian-produced movie about the ghost of Tito was
censored on Australian television because of words that Tito will not be
heard from again.
A Personal Reflection
An opinion poll, a rumour or story, or knowledge from the classroom is
one thing; but it is another thing altogether to believe it, much less
begin to deeply understand it. I have sat and reflected amongst the
ruins of Zadar, bombed by the western Allies in 1944 to defeat Italian
occupation. I have also sat and reflected at the Camp X memorial near
Toronto where Anglo/American and pro-Yugoslav resistance forces were
trained, some ultimately ending up in the Slovenian mountains in 1944.
part of Camp X mural at Whitby Ontario Canada at Garden of the
In 1989, I reflected on makeshift barbed-wire handcuffs as I held them
in my hand, removed by journalists from the skeletons of Tito's victims
found in mass graves at Jazovka.
I have come to understand the need to defeat Nazism and Fascism, as
German submarines sank ships in Canadian waters. When you are under
attack you organize your defence, the defence of your civilians and your
property and your nation.
After a war you commit to reconstruction. Tito did the opposite, at
least in Croatia, and evidence is there if you search for it.
In contrast to the western society I grew up in, I could not begin to
understand Tito's brutal tactics, even though I have come to know about
them. The concept of genocide was outside the realm of my personal
understanding. I knew it happened but it didn't fully register in my
mind because it was foreign to me, as if from Mars. My sheltered and
privileged upbringing had not prepared me for such horrendous concepts.
For me, oppression equated with poverty, and discrimination equated with
racism. These are things I witnessed in contrast to my own personal
experience. There was nothing I could equate genocide with in my mind.
I had heard about Tito, read about Tito, learned about Tito and Titoism
at university, and witnessed the legacy of trauma survivors experienced
from living under Tito's rule, yet it still wasn't registering! Even
amongst the old surviving Croatian communist elite it does not seem to
have registered, as to what it was like to be an ordinary Croatian
citizen. The current Croatian President Mesic's comment about the Tito
win in the opinion poll illustrates just how out of touch he is with his
people when he alleged that Tito fulfilled the destiny of the Croatian
Genocide of Croatian People
One of the ministers of the first Kingdom of Croats Serbs and Slovenes,
Pribitchevic, remarked in the 1920s that the Sava River would flow
backwards before the Croats would ever accept Serbian hegemony. In
between the collapse of the first Royalist Yugoslavia and the imposition
of Communist Yugoslavia, there was Croatian resistance to Serbian
hegemony. However, most of that generation were massacred during Tito's
"peace" as Tito uttered the words that the Sava River would flow
backwards before Croats ever got their freedom.
Immediately following WWII Tito organized a genocide of the Croatian
population. The genocide of Croatian people is known as the "Bleiburg
Genocide". It began after massive columns of Croatian people, in May
1945, were turned back from various crossings at the British Sector of
the Austrian border. But the Austrian border region itself was a
matter of contention between Tito and the Western Allies in May 1945.
Some Croats, including civilians and women and children, who had already
surrendered, were immediately killed by Tito's Partisans in this no
Tito's terrorism took the form of mass executions, death marches, gulag
imprisonment, purges (32,000 Croatian intellectuals lost their
livelihood in the 1971 Croatian Spring), the highest number of political
prisoners per capita in the world, assassinations of dissidents, loss of
Croatian population due to illegal border escapes, underdevelopment of
Croatian regions and later-on, deals with western nations to get rid of
his rural unemployed Croatian population overseas. Statistics in all
host nations where people from former Yugoslavia settled, show that
Croats were in the majority.
How many hundreds of thousands of deaths might have been avoided with a
50-50 presence in 1944-45?
No Churchill-Stalin 50-50 Split
We have been brainwashed with catchphrases such as the "50-50 Split" of
the former Yugoslav territory between Churchill and Stalin at Yalta, and
the "Tito-Stalin Split" in 1948, when Stalin renounced Communist
Yugoslav membership of the Cominform. Mythology and intrigue surround
In mythology the "Tito-Stalin Split" has been the centre pin of the Tito
personality cult both in domestic and foreign policy. But, in reality,
the "Tito-Stalin Split" was only a temporary break in a long-term
relationship between Tito and the Soviet Union. As soon as Kruschev
succeeded Stalin the split was over. It is no coincidence that both
the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union fell together near the close
of the 20th century.
The only type of split that did eventuate in post-WWII Yugoslavia was
not territorial, but political and economic in form. The industrializing
West and the Eastern bloc gave to Yugoslavia the worst of both their
worlds, according to an analysis of IMF debtor nations.
Communist Yugoslavia, a military and police state complete with
ideological indoctrination, brutally enforced a command type economy,
and was funded by the IMF which was dependant upon five different
constitutional reforms to keep face in the democratic world. This was
Tito's totalitarian legacy: a fifty-fifty hybrid split.
And, as for the Churchill-Stalin 50-50 Split, it didn't happen.
Tito's Iron Curtain
Because the Churchill-Stalin "50-50 Split" failed to take place after
WWII, Tito, emboldened by a strong Soviet presence, was able to
consolidate his totalitarian control and exterminate an entire
generation of Croatian citizens. Indeed, what happened in reality was a
Tito-Churchill Split, but nobody has invented a phrase for that era!
Tito was, for the West, a Benedict Arnold. Tito accepted Western
supplies and money to fight fascism but then used it to consolidate his
own pro-soviet power base, and betrayed western interests, and
terrorized his own citizens. By the time there was a temporary break
in Soviet-Yugoslav relations, it was already too late for half a million
Croatian citizens. Indeed Tito's immediate post-WWII terrorism was part
of the reason why Churchill commented that an iron curtain had descended
Instead of cooperation from Tito or Stalin, or any 50-50 division, the
West had to deal with Tito's threats, emboldened by his pro-Soviet
Central Committee. It is highly unlikely that these Croatian civilians
would have been turned back from the British Sector in May 1945, en
masse, had the command realized the enormity of the massacres to
follow. There were no satellite cameras then. How could the elite
command in the West who had led privileged lives begin to imagine or
understand what lay in store for Croatian people. They had heard about
Stalin's genocide in the Ukraine but didn't yet equate Stalin with Tito.
After the release of documents thirty years later we learned that it was
Tito who had been responsible for the absence of any timely territorial
50-50 division at the end of 1944, and not the fault of Western Allies.
Instead the Western Allies had to deal with Tito's defiance regarding
Anglo/American landings on the Dalmatian coast (as revealed in archival
accounts re Tito & his Prime Minister, Subasic); and with Tito's
territorial ambitions in Slovenia or Trieste. More than once Tito made
it clear to the western Allies that if they landed in Croatia they would
have to deal with a powerful resistance by his Yugoslav Partisan
divisions along the Dalmatian coastline.
What happened after WWII in Tito's Yugoslavia was worse than what
happened in Milosevic's Yugoslavia in the 1990s, but this time the
satellite camera enabled the world to witness everything, and ultimately
put an end to it. And eventually, you guessed it, a 50-50 split of
Bosnia-Herzegovina is now monitored by four nations, but this was never
to happen in post-WWII Yugoslavia.
Thus, massacres of hospital patients from Vukovar occurred in 1991 just
as they had occurred in Jazovka in 1945. For example, a karst sinkhole
in Sosice near Zagreb contains the remains of 40,000 skeletons and
evidence from the Croatian hospital. Similarly during recent
construction of a highway in Slovenia tens of thousands of skeletons
were uncovered with evidence that they were men, women and children,
mostly of Croatian origin.
Time for an Accountable Leadership
A recent critic of an article in Zadarski List, Ivo Matanovic from
Zadar, commented that under Tito it was the bloodiest era which Croatia
ever experienced in its history. (HV, 23.1.04) The Yugoslav/Montenegran
dissident, Milovan Djilas was quoted as saying that Croats had to die
that Yugoslavia could live. American President Truman also remarked on
the genocidal policies of Tito. Indeed more Croats died under Tito
during 40 years than in the previous 400 years of occupied Croatia.
Tito's infamous reign of terror is similar to Pol Pot's, and he
certainly did not "fulfil the destiny of the Croatian nation".
For the sake of regional stability in the 21st century, it's time for
old Croatian cadres to get in touch with their fellow man. If the
Croatian media and the Croatian leadership cannot get it right today,
how can Croatian people expect the rest of the world to really
understand their plight? In the British House of Commons in 1874,
Disraeli remarked that "Upon the education of the people, the fate of
this country depends". In the same theme, according to H.G. Wells,
"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and
catastrophe". In the Croatian nation there is a need for deeper
understanding about the cruel decades of terror under Tito!
Jean W. Lunt-Marinovic
Melbourne, 25 January 2004