1. Section 1994 - 1996
To: Norman Chock <email@example.com>
Date: January 14, 1995Questions sent by Cathia Ludewig, Kimberly Bernardino, and Christine Leonida at Waianae High School, Waianae, Hawaii.
I don't know how much you know or learned about the political and cultural history of the Nations at the South of Europe that includes the Balkan Peninsula too. The South Slavic tribes came to these regions about the 6th century. The South Slavic national tribes are scattered and live in several states of Southern Europe. Certain nationalities had their own states at certain times of the since mediaeval past and few didn't have any at all. The course of history and evolution of civilization was quite different to all of them though.
The Croats had a continuous statehood of varying forms: as an independent state first and later in a confederation with Hungarians with whom they joined the Austrian Empire few centuries later. Croatia was NEVER conquered by Turks and deserved its name of the ANTIMURALIS CHRISTIANITAS (Rampart of Christianity) in 16th century by defending the Christianity from the Islam. The regions of the Kingdom of Croatia (then as part of the Austrian Empire) were reduced to their minimum by end of 16th century. The Turks invasion culminated by controlling Southern Europe: whole Balkan Peninsula, Serbia (conquered 1389), Bosnia (fell 1463) and Hercegovina (few years later), southern part of Dalmatian Coast (but not Dubrovnik), Slavonia (part of Crotian Kingdom) etc. The Croatian territory was reduced to the RELIQUIA RELIQUIARUM CROATIA (Remnant of Remnant Croatia) - but the largely reduced state still existed. These few details of a long past still throw 'shadows' on present political ideas and popular slogans.
The victorious States in World War I. made radical changes for all South Slavic Nations. For the FIRST TIME - a new state was formed known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in 1918. From then on, Serb intellectuals, politicians and military leaders dominated this new state. In 1929 Croatian political leaders were assassinated at the Parliament in Beograd. Soon after the King Alexander I. (a Serb) renamed the state to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His ruling was of a dictator that followed by increasing oppressions and persecutions of anything against Serb interest. The idea of Serb dominance was nothing new in ruling over all other South Slavic nationalities. [Read in: "Ilija Garasanin's Programme of the Foreign policy at the end of 1844".]
Garasanin proclaimed the Serb foreign policy at the time when Serbia was still involved in fierce fights with the Turks to regaining lost provinces after some 5 centuries. This document was published secretly in 1906 first time and became known as "Nacertanije Ilije Garasanina" later. It contained that most ominous slogan: "Srbi svi i svuda" (Serbs [are] all and everywhere). Several years later, the same document was released to the public (1931) coining the term of and drives for "The Great Serbia". These ideas (some 150 years old!) were contained in documents and speeches of Serbia's intellectuals and politicians after Tito's death in 1980 again. They are being used too by present Serbs' leaders ex-Communists who turned into Socialists and who joined in with the Ultra Nationalist Movement known as "Cetniks" (read "Tchetnick") recently too.
It was obvious, that the resistance and rejection of all other NON-SERBIAN nations would follow such an extreme domination by Serb's leaders. One can observe the results of this ideology of one national-super-value ("Serbs all and everywhere") and of ultra-nationalistic politics (by Cetniks) now. This fascistic ideology is also the background of present schizophrenic and paranoid conflict between Peoples living in former Yugoslavia's regions.
The CROATS did liberate themselves of former Yugoslavia's yoke in 1991 and got their independent state early in 1992. This important and historic event happened after about 8 centuries again. Now, it will depend entirely upon the Croatians achieving how their state should exist and how should they live there in future.
This minimum of explanations was certainly necessary. I wouldn't like you starting any kind of polemic or controversy with Serbs or Croats who live in Hawaii. I don't know who they are or which generation they belong as Hawaiians. Also, I really cannot imagine how much they know about the history of their respective nations. There isn't any point just repeating political slogans from whichever source they do come. One should learn thoroughly from one own nation's history and evolution first. Then, try understanding and accepting the same from other nations' in away as yours own one respectively.
However, do any nation's leaders learn anything from the respective history at all and ever? I doubt it deeply! The Peoples are deceived and let it be so for a (long) while. Therefore, they DO have to suffer because of their lack of schooling and ignorance by choosing or following the wrong leaders always.
Now, let me try to answer your questions as good as I can. Of course, my answers are personal and based upon my rather complex life history. I have to restrict myself too otherwise this e-mail would never reach Hawaii.
Q1: Did you experience any tension felt between the Croats and Serbs?
A1: Yes, starting from my childhood, through school years and until my graduation in 1943. Children were regularly threatened (when misbehaving) with "Gendarmes" or "Cetniks" which would come to pick them up. Gendarmes (Men of Arms) were always from Serbia proper, at least in my hometown Osijek. Cetniks were fierce looking people with long beard, dark black uniform and a fur-hat with an emblem of a skull & crossed bones. Cetniks wore knives in their boots and in a belt with a pistol and ammunition stuck in it. I noticed certain increase of tensions as I was getting older as well as with the growing comprehension of disputes between Croats and Serbs.
Q2: Were there any times when you felt persecuted against by the Serbs?
A2: There were some events when I had experienced being the son of a prominent layer who was a liberal but stern Croat. He had many differences and disputes but remained persistent in his believes and opinions. However, my father never entered into the politics. He despised hypocrisy and vileness - no insulting meant!
Q3: What are your views on the Ustashi?
A3: The word "Ustasa" (read as "Ustashah") means "insurgent". A group of these Croatians emigrants (about 300) returned to Croatia from Italy on April 11th, 1941. At that time, German Armies broke all the resistance in Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The political leaders of the "Banovina Hrvatska" (since 1939 it was Autonomous County within Yugoslavia) declared their will for an independent state. The Father of Croatian statehood revival was Dr. Ante Starcevic (read "Startchevich"). The ultra-nationalists believed that achieving Starcevic's idea would be by joining with the Powers of Germany and Italy (Nazis and Fascists). Thus, the Ustasas took over Starcevic's political ideology sullying it by methods and commitments to ultra-nationalisism, racism, religious intolerance and suppression by brutal force of any opposition. In short: the Ustasa Movement disgraced Croatians' right on self-determination.
Q4: Did you have any personal experience with the Ustashi, meaning did you ever know anyone or see any acts that they carried out?
A4: Yes, I did have personal experiences under the Ustasa's regime. These were all distressful and tragic resulting from methods and commitments to as explained before. I would still have to explain too much more of it. Just note that many friends, relatives and most of my mother's family members were abducted (because of Nazis' racial laws) and dissapeared to never return. ALL OF THEM - who were either detained for political reasons or abducted to concentration camps for their origin - DIED sooner or later during the times of WWII.
I was called to in army service to the "Hrvatski Domobran" (the Croatian regular Army) in October 1943. I spent the last 15 months of WWII fighting against Tito's Armies. I lead soldiers of a Howitzer Battery as their only officer into the captivity of the victorious Yugoslav Army. This happened about 3 km short of Dravograd early morning of the May 15th, 1945. From May 17th until June 2nd a walked bare-footed some 500 km and survived the "DEATH MARCH" on route 2. Are any more comments necessary?
Q5: We have talked to a Serb and a Croatian who now live in Hawaii. Serb we talk to made it seem like the Ustashi was a big Croatian movement that massacred Serbs, while the Croatian said that the Ustashi was actually only a very small number of people that were not only Croatian. Did they not carry out all these bad things against just Serbs, but also Croatians who did not support them, and we were wondering what you knowledge of this is and how you felt about this subject?
A5: Please, read carefully the prelude part as well as the previous answers too. Nobody has the RIGHT to JUSTIFY any means or acts of oppression, destruction, torture, rape and murdering because of: racial or religious or national or cultural differences. The same applies to differences in historical, social and economical developments. The dead persons cannot resuscitate by new dead ones - old and torn up wounds cannot be mended by opening new ones. My compatriots should remember these by not following the paranoid leaders. Nevertheless, I wonder whether anybody would do it!
Q6: What are your feelings on the current war going on today?
A6: Bitter, sorrowful and anxious - if one could express once own feelings in short. The worst of all is the political and nationalistic background that started this bloodshed and fratricide, genocide and ethnical cleansing. It's not a WAR or even a CIVIL WAR in the sense you would know it. The ideology of NATIONALISM and FASCISM motivates recent developments in former Yugoslavia. Fascism annotates the super-value to the one Nation with respect to all other less valuable ones. The present Serb political ideology is based upon opinions formed around mid of 19th century (see introduction). These two slogans were newly coined only: "Where a Serb lives - this is Serbia" and "Where a Serb's grave is - that's the Serbs' land." This is the basic ideology for the restoration of GREAT SERBIA what ever it was meant in the past of 150 years or today.
The end of the present conflict would come, when the leaders of Serbia proper, political and intellectual, drop that ideology described by a.m. slogans for good and for ever. This must happen for the best of all Serbs and all other neighboring nations, some of which are all of the same South Slavic stock too.