Commemoration of 74th Anniversary of Bleiburg Begins

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 18, 2019 – A commemoration on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy, which was under a lot of public pressure in recent weeks, began at Loibach Field near Bleiburg, Austria on Saturday with prayer at the Croatian grave at the Unterloibach cemetery.

After that, there would be a procession to the field, where mass will be served, followed by a prayer for the Islamic faithful and wreath-laying at the monument to the victims.

For the first time, the commemoration will not include political speeches nor the presence of Croatia’s top state officials.

The commemoration has drawn a large number of people, as well as police, and the area is full of warnings that everything is under video surveillance. Participants carry the Croatian flag and no banned insignia have been spotted.

In March, the Klagenfurt Diocese rejected a request by the Croatian Bishops’ Conference to hold mass at the commemoration, saying it was being politically instrumentalised and that it had become part of a political-national ritual in the service of a selective interpretation of history.

Media speculated the commemoration was in question, which prompted Croatian state officials to talk with their Austrian counterparts, after which the commemoration was approved as a public gathering.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Thursday laid wreaths at the monument in the Loibach field, saying he came to pay tribute to all victims and dismissing what he described as attempts to politicise his act and noting that he did not come to downplay the nature of the WWII Ustasha regime.

Before visiting Bleiburg, Jandroković and his associates laid wreaths at monuments to people killed in the aftermath of WWII at the Dobrava cemetery near Maribor, Slovenia, and they are expected to lay wreaths on their way back to Croatia at Macelj, a town on the border with Slovenia.

A week before, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović lit candles and laid flowers at memorials at Bleiburg and at Macelj and Huda Jama in Slovenia, paying her respects to those killed in May 1945

The organiser of the commemoration, the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, called on everyone not to display Ustasha symbols or use salutes or insignia that are banned by Croatian and Austrian law.

The Croatian government’s envoys at the commemoration are ministers Lovro Kuščević and Tomo Medved.

Last week, antifascist associations from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Italy held a rally in Bleiburg, asking the Austrian government to ban the commemoration, which they said was “an event that is being promoted as a gathering of believers who want to pay tribute to innocent victims killed in the aftermath of WWII,” but “is nothing but a lament for the failed Ustasha para-state.”

They said the Austrian government had the duty to ban the rally under its constitution and in compliance with the European policy of fighting fascism and neo-fascism.

More news about Bleiburg can be found in the Politics section.


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