Held under the auspices of the Croatian parliament, the commemoration pays tribute to civilians and soldiers of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia killed in the aftermath of World War II by Yugoslav Partisans at Bleiburg, Austria and during subsequent marches back to then Yugoslavia called the Way of the Cross.
Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković laid a joint parliament-government wreath accompanied by Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman as the prime minister’s envoy.
Mass for the victims was said by military ordinary Jure Bogdan, who said Bleiburg and the Way of the Cross were a deep, unhealed wound.
“The cessation of armed conflicts, bombings, destruction and dying on front lines and in the rear was experienced by the peoples of Europe as a great relief, as the establishment of peace and freedom, which the Croatian people expected to. But the month of May 1945 is especially remembered in our country as a month of horrible slaughters of captured soldiers and civilians handed over to the Yugoslav army by Western allies,” Bogdan said.
That May, unlike for other peoples, who were given back freedom and democracy, meant for us, with the arrival of the Marxist totalitarian system, a new beginning of the persecution, imprisonment and killing of innocent people, he added.
On the 76th anniversary, we honour all victims, primarily WWII victims, the victims who preceded the war on our territory and all disarmed soldiers, the large number of civilians who fled from the establishment of the communist regime, who were killed without a trial, Bogdan said.
For a long time the Bleiburg and Way of the Cross victims did not have the right to public commemoration in their country, he said, adding that every innocent victim was due equal respect.
“There must be no difference on racial, national, confessional, party or world view grounds,” Bogdan said, adding that single and mass executions without a trial or proof of guilt were serious crimes always and everywhere.
A prayer for the Islamic victims was said by Mersad Kreštić, deputy chief imam in Zagreb.
The Bleiburg and Way of the Cross victims were also honoured at Loibach field near Bleiburg, Austria.
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