“The truth is a deep water and shouldn’t offend anyone, but it can hurt. However, in this truth of ours there is nothing painful, it is actually beautiful. Difficult, bloody, but beautiful,” Milanović said in his address at the central Antifascist Struggle Day commemoration in Brezovica Memorial Park near Sisak.
The commemoration was organised by the government and was attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for the first time. This was the first time he and Milanović attended an event together after months of conflict over the selection of a new Supreme Court president.
We are doing Sisak Partisans no favor if we constantly underline they were Croats
Talking about the establishment of the First Sisak Partisan detachment 80 years ago today, Milanović said it was formed by “77 Sisak communists, revolution fighters, fighters for a better order and change.”
He said “we are not doing a favour” to those people by constantly underlining that they were Croats and that that was a Croatian struggle. “Yes… they were all Croats. However, they were first and foremost communists fighting for revolution, for a Soviet Croatia, not democracy.”
“Those were heroes, heroes of calibre, but other people as well, adventurers who often crossed the line and committed an injustice. All that is our history, our truth. It doesn’t offend, it shouldn’t be better.”
Croatia was on the side of the truth and good
Milanović said he did not come to Brezovica to “force my truth on anyone” but to point to things that put Croatia where it belonged.
“Croatia wasn’t just on the side of the winners, Croatia was on the side of the truth and good, the majority of the Croatian people and Croatian Serbs. To point out all the time that they were winners and not losers is a risky look on life and destiny. It means that we could have lost had the Axis, for example, won the war. Would that have made our resistance any less worthy?”
Croatia was also on the side of risk, danger and courage, therefore Croatia, just as Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro, has a deep reason to celebrate Antifascist Struggle Day, Milanović said.
The Sisak detachment was not the first one formed in Europe, but there was a symbiosis of the antifascist struggle that took place in Žabno and then in Sisak a month later, on 22 July 1941, when Ustasha forces surrounded the Partisans, he said.
Uprising with Serb brothers and sisters to preserve humanity
After that, the fighters went to the Banija region “to rise up to arms, together with our Serb brothers and sisters, to preserve humanity.”
“Communist agitation on the one hand while on the other, because at that time the Croatian people wasn’t ready for an uprising, the Serb people in Croatia, our brothers in arms in that war. Together with Croatian officers, they carried that people’s uprising. It happened in Kordun and Banija.”
Speaking of the role of Croats in WWII, Milanović said that joining the antifascist struggle was “an act of incredible bravery” for them because they lived in relative comfort in comparison with Serbs and Jews, who were persecuted and killed in the Nazi-styled 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia.
He said there were still people in Croatia, not just a few, who did not approve of celebrating Antifascist Struggle Day, “but that’s how it is in a political system.” He also underlined the fact that the whole state leadership was at today’s commemoration.
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