11/2007 – Fragments of truth revealed regarding yugoslav communist crimes

Fragments of truth revealed regarding yugoslav communist crimes

In the past few years, numerous publications, interviews and encounters have emerged in Croatia and Slovenia regarding the denouncements of crimes committed during the Yugoslav communist regime between the end of the Second World War and the immediate post-war period.
 Nothing new, though, for the Italian exiles of Venezia Giullia and Dalmatia, who lived through those events in the first person, nor for the few specialists who had the vocation of self-exclusion from the larger media circuit in order to work on events such as the ones concerning ours, events that, in the past, no one wanted to report.
 We knew all too well the kind of complex web of national traditions, ideologies, ethnic and religious hatred had marked the history of the republics of ex-Yugoslavia, from the building up, in the 19th century, of one united state, from Illyrianism to Yugoslavianism, from the contradictions of the Balkan Wars from 1912 to 1913 and of the First World War, with Croatian and Slovenian regiments on the front lines ready to defend the Habsburgs while their pro-Yugoslav leaders met at Corfu and elsewhere to create a base for a unified, monarchical state under the Karageorgevic dynasty.
 We knew all about the internal tensions felt amongst the different national groups during the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which made the Skupcina of Belgrade impracticable and impotent, and which exploded in 1941, aided and abetted by Germany and Italy, both of which had great interest in dismembering that constitution, planned on the ruins of the Austrian empire and to erase the 1915 Pact of London, which had promised Italy its “unredeemed territories”.
 We are able to recognize the recurring political games played at the cost of those populations, protected and instrumentalized in order to define spheres of influence in south-eastern Europe. It is happening once more, among Germany, Russia, Great Britain and France, with the US acting as “supreme judge” and Italy as the “fifth wheel”, always present but unable to defend its own interests.
 We are not surprised, therefore, when we hear about the “patriotic wars” of the last decades of the 1900s, or the latest problems in Kosovo, or even the flow of initiatives, in the Croatian and Slovenian press and in  their public opinion, in attempts to show with what ferocity and agression the “pax titian” was imposed on the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
 From the communal graves at Bleiburg to the foibe of Kocevje, and the valleys on this side of the Julian Alps.

The Catholic Press on the Venezia-Giulia tragedy

After the authoritative statements made by local Church prelates in Croatia last summer, the official organ of the Italian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, “L’Avvenire”, dedicated articles and opinions to this important topic in both the October 7th and 17th editions.
 We have always welcomed, with great satisfaction, the articles and services that L’Avvenire, and a good part of the Catholic press, have dedicated to the persecutions sufferef by the Italians of Venezia-Giulia and Dalmatia. A relevant, and often decisive, factor in these persecutions carried out by the Yugoslav regime, was the religious factor, and particularly, in territories where Italian lived, belonging to the Catholic Church and subsequent faith witnessing. This, while we do not forget the off-notes played by certain newspapers just a few years ago, which underlined the rightful indignation of our people and the reprimand of Church authorities.

Recently we have had the honor of seeing published by the “Osservatore Romano”, on the 5th of August of this year, a volume of memoirs dedicated to the life of Father Flaminio Rocchi, who was one of the numerous priests who accompanied us into exile at the end of World War II and stayed close to us in the subsequent decades.
 An ample testimony in documents in the possession of our associations and also the Italian government (State Archives, Foreign Ministry, etc.)underlines how celebrations of religious feastdays, the attendance at liturgical functions and the sacraments, the belonging to Catholic associations (Catholic Action, ACLI, etc) were all used as elements of accisation against individuals, families, teachers and their students, as “enemies of the people” or the “revolution”.
 In fact, it mustn’t be forgotten, and we must emphasize, in the spirit of historical precision and to avoid misunderstandings, that the provinces of Pola, Fiume and Zara, along with the provinces of Trieste and Gorizia in their geographic extension at the time, belonged to Italy as approved by international treaty. The relative diocese and religious provinces were part of the Italian national ecclesiastical governing structure, and important religious events, such as the eucharistic congresses, were held regularly throughout the these regions, in exactly the same wasy as in the rest of Italy.
 The references to the 7000 Italians massacred by the Yugoslav communists (being part of the AVNOJ under orders of Marshall Tito) solely in territories which today belong to Slovenia but which then were part of Italy (namely, Valli dell’Isonzo, dell’Idria, del Vipacco, the Carso, and the coastal regions of northern Istria) represent a very significant quantity, when compared to the places in which the local Italian minority – the exception being the Istrian coast – was not the majority, population-wise.
 We must add to these victims the thousands of Istrian Italians from what is now Croatia, and the cities of Fiume and Zara – where the local Italian population was the extreme majority – killed in the same way by Tito’s forces. One arrives at en estimate of between 15,000 and 20,000 people, if both military and civilian victims are included, killed immediately after capture, or sent to die in one of the Yugoslav concentration camps, such as Borovnica, in Slovenia, cited in the article, or the Croatian camp of Stara Gradiska.
 The information emergin from recent studies and research confirm in full that which our exile associations have always sustained and which has been ignored or hidden for decades, until the recent passage of legislature, in 2004, that instituted the Day of Remembrance, February 10th. Thus emerges the huge scope of the crimes committed in the name of an atheist and materialistic ideology, which in our case struck against us for being both Catholic and Italian.
 It is evident that this data, when compared to the overwhelming data describing Tito’s excesses in the same period against political adversaries in Yugoslav territories in 1940 (Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Bosnians, Albanians, slavic Macedonians, Hungarians, etc.) can appear minor, but minor they are not when one realizes that the Italian population in those regions at the time was approximately a million people, including the territories of Gorizia and Trieste returned to Italy in 1947 and 1954.
 Thirty-nine clergymen were killed by Tito’s Partisans in a year and a half; of these, 36 were Italian, and most of them local. As for any martyrs, no matter what nationality, we are wating for our priests and religious to have their martyrdom recognized, after having lost their lives due to their faith. Some of them are already being considered for beatification.
 Perhaps we could say, without worrying about lacking in modesty, that it was the Democratic state of Italy, between the 1990s and 2004, which opened the way towards a collective consciousness of these topics: that even a mobement and a regime, such as Tito’s communist regime, reached victory through spreading death amongst the populations it wanted to protect, not to mention “the others”. “the foreigners” of which the borderlands needed to be cleansed, without any regard whatsoever of their native identity and the history of their cultural and political past.

Lucio Toth

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