Government Considering Ban on Symbols of Totalitarian Regimes

Total Croatia News

The main issue is whether to ban Communist symbols such as the red star, which is also a symbol of antifascist struggle during the Second World War.

At the beginning of the yesterday’s session of the government, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković spoke about a memorial to fallen soldiers of HOS at Jasenovac. The memorial has recently been in the focus of attention, since it contains a logo which includes the inscription “Za Dom Spremni” (“For Homeland Ready”), which was used during the Second World War by the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state established by Germans and Italians. Jasenovac was the location of a large concentration camp where over 80,000 Jews, Serbs and antifascist Croats were killed during the Second World War, reports Novi List and Večernji List on December 9, 2016.

“The Croatian government expresses reverence for all the victims of Jasenovac, as well as for the Croatian veterans who lost their lives there during the Homeland War. We are aware of the sensitivity aroused by the symbol, however, such symbols were approved in the past, at institutional and government level”, said Plenković. He pointed out different rulings issued by the courts related to the symbols of totalitarian systems and announced that the government would establish a committee to consider the issue in a calm and rational way. The goal is to adopt an acceptable legal solution, in order to determine the position of the society towards the symbols of totalitarian regimes, said Plenković.

The memorial in Jasenovac has caused uproar among NGOs and liberal political parties, which claim that it is unacceptable to use the “Za Dom Spremni” slogan anywhere, and particularly at the site of the largest concentration camp in Croatia. On the other hand, rightwing associations demand that communist symbols should be banned instead, given the atrocities committed by communist regime after the Second World War.

So far, there are absolutely no details about how a possible law on banning the symbols of totalitarian regimes would look like, whether their usage would be considered to be a crime or a misdemeanor, and who will draft the proposal. Sources say that the law should identify a five-pointed star as a symbol of communism, but they do note that it is also a symbol of antifascist struggle and that its ban would spark a revolt.

“After the state budget is adopted, we will begin work on this law. Relationship towards symbols of totalitarianisms can be part of the criminal law, but also of the misdemeanor law, or it can be a special law”, said a source. He noted that they would study legal provisions of other countries when it comes to symbols of totalitarianism.

However, the source believes that politicians are again dealing with topics which divide the public and which are part of the past. “The major complaint to the previous HDZ leadership was that they spoke too much about the past, and now we are reopening the topic which does not offer easy answers”, said a source from HDZ.

Faced with question how the government would react to the memorial in Jasenovac, Prime Minister Plenković recently said that, 70 years after the end of the Second World War, it was about time to finally determine the position towards totalitarian regimes and their symbols.

One of the problems for those advocating for the ban on the red star is the fact that the current Croatian Constitution determines that Croatia as it now exists was founded as part of the antifascist struggle during the Second World War, whose symbol was the red star. Also, Franjo Tuđman, the first president of independent Croatia, revered by those on the right, was a high-ranking member of Yugoslav partisans at the time, and fought against fascists wearing a red star on his cap.


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