news 29 Jul 13

Anti-Fascist Uprising Commemorated in Croatia

The 72nd anniversary of the uprising against Croatia’s Nazi puppet government in the village of Srb was marked at a commemoration which heard warnings against the falsification of history.

Boris Pavelic

The commemoration in Srb on Saturday was addressed by former President Stjepan Mesic, the honorary president of the Croatian anti-fascist association SAB, who warned that “falsifiers of history are trying to change history and they are doing well, because they have the same space in the Croatian media as anti-fascists”.

On July 27, 1941, several hundred men from around Srb, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, took up arms and rebelled against the Ustasha authorities, Croatia’s Nazi puppet government at that time, after its troops had killed about 900 Serb civilians in the area.

The nature of the uprising is disputed by extreme right-wingers, who hold a small protest near the commemoration each year, claiming that it was a Chetnik (Serb nationalist) rebellion against the Croatian state.

Renowned writer, historian and publisher Slavko Goldstein, who fought in World War II as an anti-fascist partisan and spoke at the commemoration as the personal representative of Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, said that the right-wing protesters were “the biggest pests in Croatia”.

He said it was true however that 179 Croats were killed in revenge attacks in the nearby village of Boricevac after the uprising.

“Those victims should be recognised,” he said.

Milorad Pupovac, the president of Serbian National Council in Croatia, which organised the commemoration alongside SAB, said “those who spread brotherhood and tolerance” were under attack in contemporary Croatia.

Speaking at the commemoration, he said that “history would be very different if there was no brotherhood between the Serbian and Croatian peoples in those days in 1941”.

The anniversary of the uprising was marked every year as the ‘Fighters’ Day’ holiday when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia.

But after Croatia won independence, the celebration was transferred to June 22, the day on which the first armed anti-fascist unit was formed in the town of Sisak in central Croatia in 1941.

The change reflected inter-ethnic tensions in Croatia, because the uprising in Srb was led by Serbs, and the unit in Sisak was formed predominantly by Croats. Both actions were led by communists.

There was a monument to the uprising in Srb in the village during the Yugoslav period, but it was destroyed during the 1990s, alongside about 3,000 other anti-fascist monuments that were demolished during the Croatian independence war and afterwards.

The monument was restored in 2010 with state money, and unveiled by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.

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