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The Wreckognition of Modern Croatia

Wreckognition of Modern Croatia
Role of Propaganda in Injustice
Lonely Planet's "Western Balkan" History
Off the Planet Propaganda


During January 2000 it was broadcast around the world that because HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) lost the recent election Croatia would no longer face isolation in the West. But is the western attitude towards Croatia really about to change? There is little evidence yet.


Anti-Croatian slander occurs but many Croats do not understand why. To understand why, first a brief description of the slander, which has been endured by Croatian people for decades, is necessary. This slander occurs with impunity because Croatia has been a 'stateless' nation for most of the 20th century and its people had no way to fight back. No matter who is in power in Croatia, anti-Croatian propaganda may continue until Croats better organize their priorities.


In a large percentage of the western media there is a tradition of over-stating alleged Croatian guilt and understating aggression towards Croats. Reporting during recent events has been predictably negative, following the death of Dr. Tudman, the assassination of 'Arkan' and recent sentencing at the Hague.


For example, Arkan's notorious war crimes against one-half of the Croatian population is described in the media as an 'ethnic cleansing campaign' by a Serbian 'patriot' (Herald-Sun, 23/1/2000); but a single incident alleged against Croats at the Hague was compared to Dachau or Katyn by the media. (Age, 16/1/2000)


Anti-Croatian propaganda is certainly not a legacy only of the HDZ. During the 1960s and 1970s, according to a book entitled, 'Trial by Slander' (Les Shaw, 1973) Croats in Australia had a "public image worse than halitosis". Propaganda techniques used against Croats far exceeded name-calling used against any other 'stateless' group in the world. Name-calling, lying, association with disapproved ideas, use of generalities, quotations out of context, selective omission, stereotyping and simplification, stalling and repetition techniques, together with negative graphic images have nurtured an anti-Croatian atmosphere in the West.


For example, the ABC radio series, 'Background Briefing' which preceded the movement to establish War Crimes Trials in Australia began its first program on 10 April 1986, and 'Background Briefing' used false accusations against Croatian people as its foundation. (Previously, Croatian independence had been associated with the 10th April 1941, and it is obvious that the 10th of April was specifically chosen to launch the series, "Nazis in Australia".)

In another example, in 1988 the shooting of the student Josip Tokic, during a peaceful Croatian demonstration outside Sydney's Yugoslav Consulate was often misinterpreted by the media and Time Australia's response was particularly unwarranted. 'Time Australia' alleged that what the Croatian community were teaching their Australian-born children was worse than pornography, paedophilia and drugs in school grounds.

In yet another incredible example, the late Croatian President Dr. Franjo Tudman was acceptable as an Amnesty International 'Yugoslav' Prisoner of Conscience, but when he associated himself with Croatian independence his media image was deliberately changed. One example of the 'about-face' of the media against Tudman is the following. Dr. Tudman, and those who voted for him, were attacked in the book, 'Denying the Holocaust' (1993) on page seven, even before the mention of David Irving on page eight. In David Irving's opening defence statement on 12 January 2000, when he took the author of 'Denying the Holocaust', Deborah Lipstadt, to court for libel, he explains that it is enough to be accused of denying the holocaust to be labelled an outcast from society, 'a pariah', 'like being called a wife beater or a paedophile'.


Unwarranted anti-Croatian propaganda is never-ending. At the beginning of Chapter Two in 'The Hand that Signed the Paper' by Helen Demidenko, 1994, a book about the WWII Ukraine, Goran Ivanisevic is alleged to have told reporters that friends had taught him how to fire a machine-gun in 1993 (no source given): "It was tough to control but, oh, it was a nice feeling-all the bullets coming out. I was thinking it would be nice to have some Serbs standing in front of me." -- So opens Chapter Two in a book about the Ukraine during WWII, with alleged words of a Croatian tennis celebrity, Goran Ivanisevic, allegedly spoken in 1993. (An unsubstantiated quotation used out of context.)


Prize-winning Demidenko (Darville) next wrote a short fiction in 'Meanjin' (November 1995, University of Melbourne) entitled "Pieces of the Puzzle" which associates teenagers in multicultural Australia of Croatian background with Ukrainian WWII history.


In Australia a subsequent scandal broke out about Demidenko, but Demidenko has her supporters, for example in the book 'Gangland' by Mark Davis (1997) who alleges that Ukrainians should get published more in Australia. Robert Manne and others attacked Demidenko as an anti-Semitic; and Davis attacked the so-called 'politically correct' who attacked Demidenko; but nobody defends Croats!


Over the decades it was hard to find the word Croatia in the media associated with the ancestry of settlers in Australia. However, in 1999, the book about the infamous 'backpacker' murders in Australia was published. The first sentence in the book tells how the convicted man was born in 'Croatia'. Whether it was the assassination of Palme in Sweden, or the Russell Street bombing of Police headquarters in Melbourne, or unfounded allegations about a demonstration in Sydney, Croats were accused without a trial on the front page.


Yet, in contrast, at the new Melbourne Immigration Museum's permanent 'main exhibit', Croats are not among those who came to Australia! The Consul of Croatia was not invited to the opening. (And this travesty of justice occurred in spite of my Croatian Australian Immigration Museum committee's hard work to establish one of the first 'temporary' ethnic exhibits there.)


One of the lowest propaganda tricks is used in an English children's educational series by Wayland Books, 'The War in Former Yugoslavia' (1997). This book depicts Croatian amputees holding up pictures of Stjepan Radic whilst they were demonstrating at Maastricht for recognition of Croatia by the EC. (It was stjepan Radic who had first petitioned in Europe foir Croatian recognition following WWI.)


However, in a deliberate attempt to manipulate history, the caption in the book under the photograph of Stjepan Radic reads that the amputees were holding "portraits of Ante Pavelic, leader of the infamous Ustasha." (This educational series in several other of its publications always blacken the Ustasha whilst omitting Stalin's crimes.) These 'educational' books are available in library's children's collections around the world.


Croatian voters have been led to believe that if they voted against HDZ, the West will treat them equally. Time will tell. It was not HDZ or its leadership who were responsible for tarnishing Croatia in the West, as alleged in a recent 'Croatia Weekly' (14/1/2000) where Tihomir Dujmovic wrote in "HDZ Won Elections for Opposition". Slobodna Dalmatia wrote: "It takes arrogance to reduce a people, with considerable cultural capacities, to tamburitza, folk songs and naïve art, to make enemies out of one's own allies in the neighbourhood and the whole world ."


Those responsible, I am sure the above journalists will discover as time goes on, are the enemies of Croatia, and certainly not the HDZ.


It's the extremists in Croatia, who have most direct links to Croatia's enemies abroad. Mark Thompson's "A Paper House: the Ending of Yugoslavia" (1992) is on 'Recommended Reading' lists in the Wayland Books children's education series, discussed above, and the same Mark Thompson, a former 'Mladina' correspondent at the same time as Dobroslav Paraga, translated a book into English for the Croatian Helsinki Committee. Mark Thompson denigrates Croatian history and writes that Split's harbour which is on the 'Illyrian' coast is grubby. (Has Thompson forgotten that Croatia was being bombarded?)


Zvonimir Cicak of the Croatian Helsinki Committee and Dobroslav Paraga of the breakaway 'Croatian Party of Rights-1861' encourage anti-Croatian propaganda. Paraga could be seen spreading malicious lies about the Croatian government to American congressmen, and when Croatia was under attack from the whole world and vulnerable because of a UN Arms Embargo. It is ironic that Paraga claims that some in HDZ are 'anti-semitic' towards him, because of his Jewish background, when it was Paraga himself who was using a Nazi-type of salute at political rallies in Croatia.


Nations such as Australia spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually promoting a positive image overseas for tourism. Unfortunately, the opposite situation occurs n the case of Croatia where not only is little spent on changing Croatia's image, but Croatia's enemies obviously spend millions to blacken Croatia, beginning with educating the young with falsified anti-Croatian propaganda in school texts.

The democratic world deserves a better deal for their children's education.
It is important for the world to understand that Croatia is being lied about in the western media because the newly recognized nation has not mustered the will and resources to fight back yet. Until then, Croatian history is a likely scapegoat for extremists in the western media. Unfortunately truth and justice in the western world are the victims.
Jean Lunt Marinovic
January 2000

Lonely Planet's 'Western Balkans' History

Originally published in January 2007 as an extract from the article, 'Is the Tesla-Macek Telegram Authentic?'
In Lonely Planet's first edition of 'Western Balkans', 2006, Nikola Tesla is described as being born in "northern Serbia". There is no excuse for this deliberate falsification of history because Lonely Planet is contradicting their own tourist guide book 'Croatia', 2005 edition, where it says in the column, in bold text: "Did You Know: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the father of the radio and alternating electric current technology, was born in Croatia. The Tesla unit for magnetic induction was named after him."
And there are more alterations to Croatian history. In 2006 Lonely Planet has rewritten its description of the Vojna Krajina: "Austrians invited Serbs to settle in Vojna Krajina (Military Frontier) north of Zadar. The Serbs in the borderlands had an autonomous administration under Austrian control. These areas were reincorporated into Croatia in 1881". In three earlier editions Lonely Planet has mentioned Vlachs, and other Orthodox peoples' existence in the Vojna Krajina, but this history has now disappeared from the latest Lonely Planet information about Croatia in its "Western Balkans" guide. As I have argued in the article, "Who Are the Croatian Orthodox?", the claim that all Vlachs in Croatia were exclusively of Serbian ancestry contradicts the well-known European history of the Vlachs by Fortis, and the philosopher Rousseau who romanticized the lifestyle of the Vlachs as Europe's 'noble savages'.
If what Lonely Planet claims is true then Nikola Tesla would have said he was from Serbia when he entered America, but he actually said he was from Croatia (born in Smiljan, Lika). Tesla identified himself as being born in Croatia on his arrival at the Castle Garden Immigration office in Manhattan in 1884, even though the Croatian region of his birth was administered from Austria and not directly from Croatia at the time Tesla was living there. In other words, Tesla did not have to say he was from Croatia, and could have said he was from Austria, so he freely made his choice. Tesla's ancestors (real surname Draganic) had lived in Croatian territory for centuries. Indeed, nowhere has it ever been written that Tesla's ancestry reaches back to 'Serbia' per se.
The false claim by Lonely Planet that Nikola Tesla was born in "northern Serbia " seems to be a deliberate attempt to spread lies and the Croatian government should expect a public retraction.
(Note: Since the above was written, another newspaper supplement/magazine has written: "In 1891 Serbian-born Nikola Tesla designed a device .". (Sunday Herald Sun, part 3 "The Greatest Inventors", page 8, February 2007)
Jean Lunt Marinovic
January 2007

Off the Planet Propaganda

A condensed version of this article, originally published in December 2000
It is unfortunate that Lonely Planet uses a tourist guide about Croatia for political purposes. Anti-Croatian propagandists have found a new market and this will be just the beginning. On the surface, this book, and others appear comprehensive and helpful, but after closer examination, contradictory statements begin to confuse the conscientious reader.
For example, in Lonely Planet' the introduction incorrectly tells how "most of" Croatia "even at the height of the conflict . remained untouched by war", even though in fact, much of Croatia was devastated by Serbian bombs.
Therefore, in their tourist guide, in spite of the above statement, a warning is necessary: "Warning . under no circumstances should you stray off the road into fields or abandoned villages (etc.) . it's important to be aware that certain areas of the country are still dangerous . still undergoing de-mining operations which will not be complete for many years." The unsafe areas according to this tourist guide, in contradiction to the introductory statement, stretch from Slavonia to Knin to Karlovac to the Zadar hinterland.
"All the country (Croatia) lacks is the kind of clearly defined image that has turned more modest European destinations into international hot spots", according to Lonely Planet's editors. Therefore, it is tragic and ironic that Crotia's image has been stereotyped as 'fascist' once again in this tourist guide. For example, a pro-Serbian bias is blatantly evident in discussions about the war in 1990-1995, and about WWII. This type of political judgment is absent from many Lonely Planet guides on other countries.
Serbs always suffer it seems but when discussing Croats it seems they are really just Serbs anyways, according to Lonely Planet: "religion is the only factor separating the ethnically identical populations".
Cardinal Stepinac is referred to as the "Controversial Cardinal" whose actions are allegedly "ambiguous", and apparently, according to Lonely Planet, "Croatian and Serbian are still often referred to as one language". In addition, this tourist guide repeats undocumented allegations almost word-for-word from other recent titles. (For example, 'The Death of Yugoslavia', Lilber & Little, 1995; 'A Paper House: The Ending of Yugoslavia', Thompson, 1992; 'Croatia: A Nation Forged in War', Marcus Tanner, 1997.)
No matter what side of the political fence you are on, any anti-Croatian statements which are blatantly false, or undocumented, oir ideologically oriented, should be left out of an attempt to promote a positive image of Croatia. Croatia's enemies are setting a trap and they are very experienced propagandists who inextricably mix good material with lies and omissions.
Jean Lunt Marinovic
December 2000
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