GLOBALNA ILI IZUMIRANJE HRVATSKE!
‘Opinion’ commentary by, Jean W. Lunt-Marinovic, Melbourne Australia, 23/02/2002.
"Croatia is a small nation." "Emigration is a Croatian tradition." "Global Croatia." "Without our blessed diaspora there would never have been an independent Croatia on the map." These pro-diaspora statements quoted above compete with issues of greater importance for Croatia. The unpopular issue I refer to is "Izumiranje Hrvatske".
Croatia is now in a transition period. This generation which fought and died and struggled, making us all proud, is being replaced by an aging population in Croatia. In other words, things won’t always be the way they are in Croatia today. For example, in any Croatian zupanija, such as Zadar, even under the harshest of occupying regimes, there have been more graduating doctors or priests, etc. per capita, than from amongst those assimilated Croats in the so-called democratic and prosperous world. In sports also, Kostelic, or Ivanisevic, or Suker have shown us how the world applauds their personal triumph when they win under their national flag. The richness of the spirit can overcome any financial struggle. The struggle for Croatia’s survival can only be successfully generated from within Croatia itself, but Croatia is dying-out due to an undefined glorification of the overseas diaspora.
Diaspora input must be measured against the consequences of mass emigration and its negative effects on the nature of Croatian politics. In Croatia panslavists gained more power in the last election by default! Abroad there is a limit to what can be done on a political dimension. Whilst foreign governments are now obliged to tolerate Croatia’s new status, the legacy of the past will distort the truth for a couple of generations to come. Amongst the overseas Anglo/Celtic elite, when you mentioned the "C" word (Croatia) you were in for it—I speak here as a person perceived to be ‘one of them’, and not as a person perceived to be of Croatian background.
Overseas I have witnessed many red faces over past decades, when I have challenged various professors, politicians, government administrators and committee members, or multicultural advocates, that access and equity legislation should be applied to Croats also. I have witnessed an entire roomful of multicultural writers walk out in protest whilst I was reciting my poem about Croatia. (see poem below) I have watched the faces of lecturers and administrators go red when I challenged their ‘facts’ or decisions in front of students or colleagues. I have been left standing alone by street revolutionaries who walked away from my question of why Croats are always deemed reactionary and Yugoslavs are always progressive. I have questioned the campaigning ‘right’ during elections who ignored my questions, and moved onto another topic—the silent treatment! Which is worse? Better know your rights!
Not all opposition rests with non-Croats however. The same attitudes surfaced when I tried to push my point of view through the Croatian disapora agendas. My agenda has always been that Croats should not, without question, ‘sponsor-on-demand’ their relatives to settle ‘overseas’. It is easy to say that the problem lies only with the government of Croatia, or with the international community, but this should not take away from the responsibility of us all. As ‘relatives’ who live overseas, we hold the key to Croatia’s population decline, or growth. The role of the diaspora needs to be placed under more scrutiny and held accountable. What Croats in the overseas diaspora fail to accept is that this ‘sponsor-on-demand’ relationship is not a bridge between Croatia and its "diaspora"—rather it is a direct contribution to the dying-out of Croatia.
‘Global Croatia’ is an umbrella concept that can excuse too many competing agendas, and underpinning these agendas is the inherent acceptance of continued mass emigration. Assimilation, once overseas, is unavoidable, and in the meantime, Croatia continues to suffer from ‘brain drain’ and ‘brawn drain’. Croatia is not so small—but its population is! Emigration should never be called a ‘tradition’—continuing mass emigration is a ‘scandal’. The term ‘global Croatia’ is an oxymoron.
(Written by Jean W. Lunt-Marinovic, Melbourne Australia.23/2/2002)
Below is my poem and article published in Hrvatski Tjednik, 23/7/1985.
(I recited this poem at a meeting in 1986 of Victorian Multicultural Writers’ Association)
THE SPIRIT OF SOSICE
(Dedicated to Croatian Students)
In the shadows of night at Sosice
There’s an eerie whisper in the air
The branches of the old oak trees
Have witnessed a tragedy there.
No one passes that bottomless pit
The place which nature forsook
Scarcely wide enough across to fit
One man … yet so many men it took.
It’s forbidden to go near that hole
Because if you listen near its top
You’ll hear the echo from every soul
As one after another they dropped.
Like a sea shell’s constant call
From the sea bed underneath
The young cadets tell of their fall …
How they were pushed to their death.
Five hundred cadets fell so young
To their death that fateful day
Murdered before they could belong
But their spirit still lives to say:
"Croatia had been in the dark
For many centuries it’s true
But in 1941 she set her mark
And raised her ‘red white blue’.
"We were young and proud to enlist
Though little of Croatia we’d seen
Yet the one thing we’d always missed
Was the freedom ‘that might have been’.
" ’If only’ our fathers and theirs before
Hadn’t won wars for a foreign race
‘If only’ they’d known what lay in store
Of the veil on their Motherland’s face.
"The uniforms we wore were Croatian
And we pledged our lives for her
Never again to be in the situation
That our enslaved forefathers were.
"It was our privilege to defend
We were proud unto the last fellow
Who’d have known we’d meet our end
On the path towards Gornje Selo.
"Captured before we’d seen battle
By a yugoslav partisan band
We were then herded like cattle
And swallowed up in the land.
"The flesh was ripped from our side
As our bodies plunged into the deep
But we screamed out before we died:
‘Our Croatian spirit will never sleep.’ "
This poem is a tribute to the 500 military cadets who died as loyal Croats, who placed love of their country above a communist ideology. More than 20,000 military trainees were disposed of by the yugoslav regime in a barbaric fashion after the war. I have chosen to write about the fate of these 500 because a relative who still mourns the brutal act has related her loss to me.
As you sit in class take a good look at the student next to you. Are you envious of his pride and confidence as he sings on his National Day, whether it be Australian, American, Canadian, Italian, Greek, etc.? Are you always left out when it is time to show the class where their country is on the big map of the world, or read the history of their country’s heroes in an encyclopaedia, or show a picture of their flag in the pages of history? The cadets in the poem were eager to participate in Croatian history. After centuries they had the chance to re-join their Motherland’s dismembered body, to straighten her spine, bent over centuries of being pulled from one empire to another: Venice, Ottoman Turkey, Austria/Hungary, France, yugoslavia.
Their dream was short-lived. Their spirit however is alive in the Croatian youth of today. One day when Croatia is free it is your duty to build monuments at all such places where those who died knew the meaning of being Croatian. Under yugoslavia today those places are closed to the world with barb wire. Their patriotism deserves much more, it deserves an esteemed place in history.
Jean W. Lunt-Marinovic, July, 1985.
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