Croatia’s Blanka Matkovic (Matkovich), a PhD candidate at Warwick University UK, has published her Master in Philosophy dissertation in book form titled “Croatia and Slovenia at the End and After the Second World War (1944-1945): Mass Crimes and Human Rights Violations Committed by the Communist Regime”.
The book is exceptionally well written and is an outstanding example of authorship – factual, clear, compelling, and essential. Through her research and meticulous digging through State and other historical archives Matkovic excavates the many mass graves of communist crimes, brings to life in our minds the multitudes of victims and the horrid last moments of their otherwise proud lives and reveals previously unknown details about communist crimes.
“This book focuses on the events that took place in late 1944 and 1945 in Croatia and Slovenia when the intensity of violence was strongest. At that time, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), assisted by the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav Army, the Department for the Protection of the People (OZNA) and the Corps of People’s Defence of Yugoslavia (KNOJ) conducted organized terror not only by intimidation, persecution, torture and imprisonment, but also by the execution of a large number of citizens perceived by the KPJ as disloyal, passive, ideological enemies or class enemies. However, investigating war and post-war crimes committed by communist regime was not possible until 1990, after the democratic changes in Yugoslavia. This book is based on documents kept in the archives of Croatia, Slovenia, the UK, and Serbia. Many of them, especially those in Croatia, recently became available to the public, which makes them extremely valuable source of data to the academics and students in this field and which shed new light on these historical events…” (Quote from the book back cover).
With this book Blanka Matkovic delivers one of the most harrowing stories of all time. Communist crimes. This is a rare book in the English language by many measures, not least of which is the way in which Matkovic captures the magnitude of communist atrocities against Croatian people. What is frightening and tragic also is the reality in Croatia, riddled with communist descendants in power, that there are many who turn a blind eye to these atrocities and by doing so do an unforgivable injustice to their own country and people.
This book demonstrates how terror, ideology and mass murder were integrated and institutionalised in the realms of the oppressive rise to power of the communist party in Yugoslavia. Through its referenced sources for the facts presented the book gives the reader original insights and anecdotes into the ways communists went on about committing atrocities against political opponents – innocent people – thus manufacturing a nation of victims that would haunt the nation as a whole for generations.
Although the book reveals cold and brutal documented and researched facts of communist crimes committed against Croatian people en mass in Croatia and Slovenia it reads like a shattering real crime genre novel – difficult to put down until read in its entirety. It is an eye-opening book as to how political pursuits of communist terror ravaged mercilessly the Croatian being, which pursued independence and freedom. The book is a sweeping study of chilling facts of mass murders and demonstrates how the former Yugoslav communist institutions together with their Partisan armed forces ravaged the very soul of Croatian freedom and independence, and this unreconciled bloody past continues to poison Croatia’s present and threatens to strangle its future.
The truth of communist crimes is a dangerous path to follow. Communist crimes formed the very essence of the continuation for almost five decades of the communist regime in former Yugoslavia. Most of today’s current ruling elites in Croatia are descended directly from the communist regime, including its terror apparatus. They are unlikely to voluntarily condemn and bring themselves to justice and this book, along with the ones published on the same topic are largely ignored by the bent mainstream media as well as the ruling elites. In light of this, how can one view Croatia as a serious democracy free of totalitarian regime? Croatia has endured a bloody war in early 1990’s to achieve independence from communist Yugoslavia but still today refuses to face its communist, totalitarian past and in doing so, threatens the welfare and well being of its own people.
Matkovic’s book also serves as an another but significant breaking of silence over the horrors of Communism in Yugoslavia that have caused so much suffering – the detailed revelations of the multitudes of mass crime events spotted across Croatia and Slovenia are a particular evidentiary strength of this book. It reads as a dramatic “criminal indictment” of totalitarian Communism within a fact sheet of chilling evidence. The indictment becomes far overwhelming if we consider the vast areas affected by the communist crimes evidenced in this book, yielding a truly colossal record of skeletons and, apart from the depravity of political fury, absolutely unfathomable suffering.
In her book Matkovic attempts to provide answers to questions that have preoccupied many a mind during the past seventy years or so and these questions are:
1. How many people were killed in Yugoslavia during and immediately after the Second World War and how many of them fell victim to communist repression?
2. Which military units were perpetrators?
3. How did they carry out executions?
4. Was the violence systematically organised and carried out under the command of the Yugoslav Army and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia?
After reading this book every reader is bound to ask himself/herself: What now? Matkovic transports the reader into the tragic times of communist atrocities and even if the presented evidence cannot, perhaps, after more than seventy years, serve as evidence for a criminal court trial it certainly serves as evidence for a moral trial against communism, which must be mounted in Croatia as a national priority if Croatia is to stand on feet of a healthy nation. Ina Vukic, prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)