News 23 Mar 15

Anti-Fascist League Founded in Croatia

The newly-formed Anti-Fascist League will attempt to tackle what it says are the growing pro-fascist and extreme nationalist tendencies in Croatian society.

Sven Milekic



Juraj Hrzenjak.

“A general victory over Nazi fascism is still to be achieved,” the Anti-Fascist League’s first honorary president, 98-year-old World War II veteran and longtime activist Juraj Hrzenjak, told the launch of the campaign movement in Zagreb on Saturday.

Defeating fascism “is generally a long process, especially in Croatia and other countries in transition”, Hrzenjak said.

“The Anti-Fascist League will advocate for peace, equality and freedom for all people under equal conditions,” he added.

The alliance was set up by a network of anti-fascist, human rights and World War II veterans’ NGOs, as well as representatives of ethnic minority and religious communities.

Hrzenjak said that 32,000 people from various NGOs and from the academic community have already joined over the last ten months since the alliance began operating non-officially.

Former Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, who attended the launch of the alliance to show his support, said it was a shame that there was still a need to campaign against fascist ideas.

“The debate about the past is always a debate about the future,” Josipovic said.

Former Croatian President Ivo

Josipovic (centre).

“Those who revise history, who want to make a patriotic regime out of the fascist regime that existed here during the war [the Nazi-allied Ustasa regime in Croatia during WWII]... are sending a false picture of our past and denying historical facts,” he said.

Veteran human rights activist Zoran Pusic said that nationalist tendencies could currently be seen “not only in Croatia, but also even in the most democratic countries in the world, some of which are members of the EU”.

“Something that I think should be the goal of this League is to warn about worrying facts which are somewhat similar to events that directed Europe towards the arrival of fascist regimes, with all catastrophic consequences it brought,” Pusic said.

Croatian historian Slavko Goldstein, who specialises in WWII and socialist Yugoslavia, said that despite former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito’s wartime struggle against Nazi-allied forces, he could not be held up as an anti-fascist hero.

“He was an anti-fascist leader for four years [1941-45]. Immediately after the war, in 1945, he was not an anti-fascist, since he introduced Stalinism, which is something that is contrary to anti-fascism,” Goldstein told the meeting.

“Anti-fascism is the defence of human rights and democracy,” he explained.

Representatives of anti-fascist NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia meanwhile said that they were talking about forming similar alliances in their own countries with a view towards creating a wider regional alliance.

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