In early March 2009 in an abandoned mine shaft in Huda Jama near Laško, Slovenia, investigators made a horrifying discovery. After breaking through ten barriers a mound of bodies was found. They belong to the victims of post-World War Two massacres from the period of the Communist revolution.
The horrific images of mummified bodies that were covered in lime and had been killed with firearms or cold weapons shocked the people of Slovenia and representatives of neighbouring countries.
According to some estimates, 4000 people died in the shaft, including women and children. Most prisoners were killed brutally at the crime scene, whilst a number of bodies bear witness to the fact that even live prisoners were walled into the cave.
Croatian political leaders, headed by the deputy prime minister, came to pay their respects to the victims, some of which are thought to be Croatian, whilst on the Slovenian side the President of the Republic Dr Danilo Türk, who on Women’s Day (8 March) near Huda Jama met with representatives of women’s organisations, was asked by journalists for his comments, he said: “Today I am here because of a primary issue (Women’s Day) and will not discuss secondary issues.”
The President of the League of the Combatants of the National Liberation War Janez Stanovnik admitted that he had known about the post-War massacres all along, but never mentioned them because it would mean re-opening old wounds. He is convinced that the massacres were ordered by Josip Broz - Tito and considered legitimate by the then Western Allies. Other high representatives, including the President of the Republic, are still trying to put this crime into the context of the post-War events in Europe. The historian Jože Pirjevec, who is close to the Liberal Democrats, thus said: “I’d like to emphasise that this discovery must not be taken too emotionally as it has to be placed in the historical framework, i.e. the time in which these massacres took place.” He also wondered whether, were those guilty ever found, it would make any sense to “drag them to court”.
In contrast, the director of the Study Centre for National Reconciliation Andreja Valič at the publication of the news about the massacre at Huda Jama emphasised that this was one of the worst forms of post-War violence by the Communist authorities. It is significant that the ruling coalition, which this week confirmed a supplementary budget, withdrew a large proportion of the funding necessary for the Centre continuing its activities.
I knew, but...
“I knew, but I feel no guilt about not having spoken about this. The goal of the National Liberation War was not just liberation, but also a social revolution, the establishment of a new social order,” said Janez Stanovnik a few days after the discovery of the grave. He has known about over 600 hidden mass graves with over 100,000 bodies in them all along. But he simply said nothing about it because this was a part of the context of the ‘new social order’.
The communists threatened to kill anyone who wanted to fight against the occupiers outside the National Liberation Front. In 1942, many middle-of-the-road politicians who refused to join the Front were killed. The Slovenian Communists have with regard to the extent of the massacres and the choice of the methods used proven themselves to be more than worthy of their Nazi and Stalinist models, who used similar methods. They even subsequently surpassed their achievements, by hiding and denying their crimes, as well as in the stubborn justification of them. Nazis were tried in Nürenberg. After Stalin’s death some of the worst executioners in his purges were sentenced and shot. The former Russian President Vladimir Putin, once a KGB member, two years ago paid his respects to the victims of the purges with military honours and pronounced words condemning the crimes such as we have never heard from a Slovenian president. In Cambodia, the organisers of mass murder carried out by the Communist Party are on trial. In Poland, a film was made about Katyn. In Slovenia, meanwhile, any attempt to suitably and without bias present on film this most tragic period in Slovenian history has been suppressed. A few individuals who have timidly proposed such an attempt have immediately been labelled by their peers as traitors.
However, some honesty can be found in Stanovnik’s words as on the day of the discovery he said that the massacres happened under the command of Josip Broz Tito. With this he admitted that the only place for Tito should be in museums, in the company of various Karadžićs, Stalins, Pol Pots and others of this ilk. In spite of this, we can still find in Slovenia a few streets and squares bearing the name of this war criminal, nowadays branded as such even by left-leaning historians.
In spite of this, the president of the young generation of Social Democrats – who was not even born in Tito’s time – is still publicly praising Tito, claiming that he knew how to steer Yugoslavia towards progress. He is also proposing that all the symbols related to the democrat Jože Pučnik, who was very active during the process of Slovenia becoming independent, and even those connected with Pope John Paul II should be removed because, according to the young Social Democrats, they are dividing Slovenian society.
The municipal authorities in the capital Ljubljana, headed by left wing Mayor Zoran Janković want to go even further. In spite of the discovery in Huda Jama and the admission by the President of the League of Combatants about Tito’s involvement in post-War massacres, they intend to name one of the roads in the capital after Josip Broz Tito. The explanation? The erasing of history, as purportedly carried out by authorities not willing to accept history and traditions (who this is aimed against is not quite clear as Ljubljana has been controlled by the left for the last 12 years) must be prevented. “It is not important what Tito was, but the fact that around the world Tito's name is associated with the struggle for human dignity,” is the message conveyed by the president of the commission in charge of naming streets in the Municipality of Ljubljana to the relatives of all the 100 thousand people and more killed after World War Two. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall it has never happened in the developed world that a street would be named after a Communist dictator, but in Slovenia, which only a year ago successfully led the Council of the European Union, this is still clearly quite possible.
The leftwing authorities in Slovenia are once more glorifying communist crimes (4)