A fitting commemoration of the Bleiburg massacre?

The annual commemoration ceremony for several thousand Croatian soldiers executed by partisans at the end of World War II in the Austrian town of Bleiburg took place on the weekend. Because the soldiers served the Ustashe regime, the commemoration is exploited by right-wing extremists who often bear fascist symbols. This year the Austria police cracked down on participants. But the event remains controversial - and not just in Croatia.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Not a commemoration but a far-right meeting place

Official Croatia is supporting a fascist parade, Austrian author and cultural scientist Wilhelm Kuehs writes in a reader commentary published in Standard:

“Officially this is a commemoration of the dead held here in southern Austria. ... But the dead play a secondary role on the field in Loibach. In reality this is a networking venue for right-wing and far-right groups. And we're not just talking about a few isolated war-games groups or student society members proudly displaying their duelling scars. These are people who are either already in power or soon could be. From the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović downwards, official Croatia supports this fascist parade.”

Novi list (HR) /

Commemoration not all that bad nowadays

Austria's politicians are reacting far too late to the right-wing iconography at the commemoration, Novi list contends, pointing out that the ceremony has taken place in a civilised atmosphere for some years now:

“The Ustashe iconography has all but disappeared. You see the odd person wearing a cape or lifting their right hand in a salute, but that's about it. But now all of a sudden Socialists from the state of Carinthia have discovered that some kind of event is taking place in their province and have started kicking up a fuss. ... The state's intervention was superfluous. But the events of 20 years ago have now caught up with the organisers. If they draw the right conclusion perhaps it won't all have been in vain. Because maybe the future will make the event what it should be: a commemoration of ten thousand victims and needless bloodshed. And not a place where frustrated individuals show solidarity with a criminal project.”

Autograf.hr (HR) /

Ustashe's atrocities shouldn't be hushed up

A more critical stance vis-à-vis the crimes of the Ustashe regime is missing at the acts of commemoration in Bleiburg, Autograf.hr finds:

“Those who only commemorate the 'innocent victims' [of the Bleiburg massacre], which is what the Catholic (arch-)bishops and politicians who gather there every year do, and more importantly, fail to condemn the Ustashe regime, make no mention of the fact that the 'victims of Bleiburg' fell as a result of the Ustashe terror and the genocide of Serbs, Jews and Roma. They remain silent about how the Ustashe fighters fought their way to Bleiburg and murdered innocent Slovenian farmers and plundered their farms right to the bitter end. Not only do they not know how to commemorate the past, but they are also manipulating it to a large extent.”