© Bojan Mrđenović
GEDENKEN, ERINNERN, HANDELN
On the other hand I was supported by antifascist groups, and even war veterans stated their open support for me. You mentioned that the public discourse about remembering changed in the last few decades. How would you say did it change and who are the main actors in remembrance culture and politics? While we see the rise of the uncritical approach towards our recent history related to Franjo Tuđman, we had some very interesting and important changes within our politics targeting our war past and our relation to it. This is especially important with regard to our relation towards nationalism and this nationalist conflict between Croatia and Serbia. I would say the HDZ, the Croatian Democratic Union, undertook some important steps toward a reconciliation of this conflict. The era of extreme right-wing politicians who openly celebrated the fascist movement in Croatia during World War II is now gone, at least when we look at what ruling parties and state officials are doing. There were gestures of reconciliation between Croats and Serbs in the public space. An example of this would be the visit of the Croatian minister of the Croatian veterans to the place where innocent Serbian civilians were killed. Furthermore, representatives of Croatian Serbs commemorated places where Croatians were killed. This conciliation is also related to the Independent Democratic Serbian Party becoming part of the ruling majority. The coalition between HDZ and the Independent Democratic Serbian Party surely brings some important gestures.
On the other hand, this coalition faces very harsh oppositional attacks from very dangerous, some would even say terroristic, movements. These groups are proposing violence towards the left, towards Serbian minorities and their representatives, and also to both the former and present government because of their alliance with the Serbian minority. So it is difficult to say whether we are heading towards a better future in that respect or whether things are getting worse day by day. Looking at economics in Croatia, however, I would say we are in a dire position at the moment. Poverty is growing, we have a very low percentage of employed people and very low and poor wages. This poverty is related to right-wing movements and governments across Europe. It is not something specific to Croatia but a general problem of capitalism.
“This historical revisionism is coming from the European centre and is not something specific to Croatia or the ‘Eastern’ parts of Europe. ”
And what about the scientific community? Is there a consensus in the Croatian scientific community about, for example Tuđman and the events in World War II? And how is this intertwined with the public discourse? No, there is no consensus, definitely not. But there are many historians that are pointing to the fact that we need to approach questions such as this rationally. And I would say that those historians are positively framed and that they are real scientists who are considered relevant historians by the public.
FRANJO TUĐMAN: Franjo Tuđman was the first elected president of Croatia and is considered as the founder of modern day Croatia. After high decorations as a partisan general in the Second World War he became renown as a nationalist critique of the Communist Reign in Yugoslavia in the 1960s. His role in the rise of nationalism in the region of the former Yugoslavia is considered quite significant. Under his presidency corruption and nepotism prospered. He also opposed efforts to modernize the Croatian legal system, especially concerning war crimes. Nevertheless, he is still idolized as “father of the nation” in modern day Croatia.