CROATIA: MYTH AND REALITY
C. Michael McAdams

MYTH: "THERE WAS NO RETRIBUTION AGAINST THE CROATIANS AFTER WORLD WAR II"

Myth: Because Tito was a Croatian, no retribution was taken against Croatian officials, soldiers or civilians after World War II by the victorious communists.

Reality: Thousands of Croatians were slaughtered immediately after the War; tens of thousands more were sent to prisons; government officials were executed, and those who escaped were tracked down and murdered in foreign lands well into the 1960s.

That there was no retribution against the Croatians after World War II is not so much a myth as an outright attempt to falsify history. As is the case with several other myths, Serbian apologists gave new currency to this story in the world press during the Croatian war for independence of 1991-1995.

Bleiburg

Until the mid 1990s, the post-war massacres of Croatians were almost unknown outside the Croatian community. To many Croatians, the single word "Bleiburg" summarizes the pain endured by a nation, The Bleiburg-Maribor massacres were documented in such works as Operation Slaughrerhouse by John Prcela and Stanko Guldescu, In Tito's Death Marches and Extermination Camps by Joseph Hecimovic, Operation Keelhaul by Julius Epstein, Bleiburg by Vinko Nikolic, and perhaps best known, The Minister and the Massacres by Count Nikolai Tolstoy. [read on: The Bleiburg Tragedy]
Tolstoy's account of how one British officer was implicated, so outraged the British authorities that Tolstoy was sued for millions and the book was banned. That these massacres occurred is irrefutable. Only the number of deaths and the depth of American and British duplicity are in question.

The story of Bleiburg began in early 1945 as it became clear that Germany would lose the War. As the Gennan Army retreated toward the Austrian border, the Red Army advanced, and the communists began their consolidation of power, anarchy prevailed in what was Yugoslavia. A dozen or more nationalist movements and ethnic militias attempted to salvage various parts of Yugoslavia. Most nationalists, Croatian, Slovenian, and Serbian alike, were anti-communist and all had visions of the Western Allies welcoming them into the coming battle against communism. Croatians especially cherished the totally unsupported notion that Anglo- American intervention would save an independent Croatian state, just as they did in 1989.

As in every other part of eastern Europe, armies, guvernments and civilian populations began moving toward the Western lines. Some were pushed before the retreating Germans; others followed in their wake. Many travelled in small bands, armed or unarmed, while others were well organized into mass movements of people and equipment. Along the trek north they fought the Partizans and each other. Many surrendered; others fought to the death.

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Edición electrónica de Studia Croatica, 1998