Bleiburg Commemoration Passes without Major Incident

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 19, 2019 – The gathering in Loibach field, outside Bleiburg in the southern Austrian region of Carinthia, held on Saturday to commemorate soldiers of Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime who were killed there at the end of World War II, passed without major incident, local police said.

Police said that far fewer people attended the event than announced, adding that one person was detained for using the Nazi salute at the end of the commemoration.

Last year seven persons were detained and penalised for displaying banned insignia. Judge Christian Liebhauser-Karl was quoted as saying that the absence of incidents at this year’s commemoration was due to resolute police action last year.

On March 1 this year, Austria amended its law that bans the display of symbols of outlawed organisations to include Ustasha insignia.

This year’s commemoration attracted about 10,000 people, or a third fewer than expected, APA news agency said quoting Carinthia police. The two protest rallies against the Loibach field gathering were also attended by fewer people than expected, attracting about 100 persons in total, it added.

During a solemn mass in the Lobach field, Krk Bishop Ivica Petanjek said in his sermon that Croatian people had the right to and should preserve the memory of their past and pay tribute to all the victims.

Petanjek said that the Bleiburg commemoration showed that people could not be deprived of their memories. “Gatherings such as this one indicate that memory cannot be taken away from people, because we know very well what a person who has lost it resembles.”

“May all who hear this try to understand that they cannot destroy such gatherings, because when our grandmothers and parents transmitted memories of past events to us, they were not transmitting hatred but only remembrance in the light of Christian faith. We are not here today because we hate anyone but for the sake of our loved ones, whom we pray for and commend to God’s mercy,” he said in his sermon.

Petanjek warned that “we are only ostensibly living in a united Europe”. In recent months, we have clearly understood that we are in the European Union but the borders between us are like high mountains, he underscored. He also added that a lot of strength had been invested into efforts to show only one opinion about the events commemorated in Bleiburg.

It has been made possible for those who for decades did their utmost to erase our people’s memories of the past events, to raise their heads again and show how huge darkness was in their hearts, the bishop said in reference to efforts of opponents who insisted on the ban of the Bleiburg commemorations.

“I believe that among our people are many wise and reasonable individuals who are ready to open their hearts and minds to the Truth and believe the Truth, without waiting for the truth to come from Europe or across the ocean. Why do we expect and ask others to evaluate us, judge us and impose their truth upon us,” wondered Petanjek.

“How long shall we litigate among ourselves? How long will others judge us and tell us what is true? When shall we want to hear the word of truth, sit at the same table and live in fellowship as brothers and sisters?”

More Bleiburg news can be found in the Politics section.


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