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Tito's Terrorism

Opinion Poll

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. 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 nation!

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 into Yugoslavia by Tito's communist Partisans
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 both splits.
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 upon Europe .
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 Carinthia and 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.

Lessons Unlearned

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. ("Strategies of containment" oxford Uni Press 1982) 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 Lunt Marinovic
January, 2004
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