Todor Kuljić Post – Yugoslav Memory Culture – Fascism, Socialism and Revisionism in the new Memory of West Balcan



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(unpublished book)

Todor Kuljić

Post – Yugoslav Memory Culture
Fascism, Socialism and Revisionism in the new Memory of West Balcan -
C o n t e n t
P r e f a c e
I FASCISM
1. Fascism and defascification in Yugoslavia
2. New Remembrance of Fascism: Between Decretory Antifascism and Anti-antifascism


  1. Hegemony of Anti-Anti-Fascism : Legalization of National anti-Fascism

II SOCIALISM


1. Was Tito the Last Habsburg?

Reflections on Tito's Role in the History of the Balkans

2. Yugoslavian self-management system


3. The conditions of the historical processing of the Yugoslav socialism

III REVISIONISM





  1. On the Conversion and self-consciousness of the Yugoslav Social Science Intelligentsia

2. Historiographical Revisionism

- in Post-Socialist Regimes


IV MEMORY CULTURE

1. The New (Changed) Past as Value Factor of Development

2. The celebrations and the symbolic geography of the West Balkans
3. Remembering Crimes – Proposal and Reactions
4. Reflections on the principles of the critical culture of memory

P r e f a c e

The essays collected in this book are published in the last 15 years and deal with the same problems of today modern discipline memory culture. No without good reason the post cold war memory concentrates on fascism and socialism. This is a book about threee points: fascism, socialism, revisionism. Broadly speaking there are three controversal points which marks the actually postyugoslav memory culture. Like my previous books these essays are also written to exasperate people who refuse to look at the past except the prism of today’s political correctness. It is hoped that the pages which follow will offer a contribution, even though not a definitive one.

The main content of this book is published in the last 15 years in the domestic and foreign journals and books: Fascism and defascification in Yugoslavia 1998, in S.U.Larsen ed. Modern Europe after Fascism 1943-1980s., Columbia Univ. Press, New York 1998, Vol. I: 828-849; On the Conversion and Self -Consciousness of the Yugoslav Social Science Intelligentsia 2001, in I.Spasić, M.Subotić ed. Revolution and Order, IFDT , Beograd: 369-385; Historiographic Revisionism in Post-Socialist Regimes 2002, in The Balcans Rachomon, Helsinki files 11, Beograd: 7-47; The New (changed) Past as value Factor of Development 2006. Sociologija Vol.XLVIII, No.3: 219-230; Yugoslavia's Workers Self-Management, in A.Szylak,O.Ressler ed.,Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies, Gdansk, Wyspa Institute of Art 2007: 192-198; Was Tito the Last Habsburg ? Balkanistica (University of Mississippi) Vol 20 (2007): 85-100. Remembering Crimes – Proposal and Reactions 2009, in D.Vujadinović, V.Goati ed. Serbia at the Political Crossroads, FES, Belgrade: 197-213. The celebrations and the symbolic geography of the West Balkans 2009. Политичка мисла (Скопје), год.7, бр.27: 97-109.

In Belgrade Oktober 2013. T.K.

I FASCISM

1. Fascism and defastification in Yugoslavia
The Main Characteristics of Fascism in the Balkans
In terms of socio-economic development, pre-war Europe can be divided into three regions. First, the most developed capitalist countries with an influential liberal-bourgeois heritage which managed to overcome the inter-war crisis without major difficulties. The second group also consisted of developed countries, but there fascism came to power. Those were imperi­alist powers under acute threat of a proletarian revolution between the world wars. The third group comprised backward, underdeveloped countries like the Balkans. These were small peasant nations which took their first steps towards industrialisation between the two world wars. The bourgeoisie of these countries consisted of mostly unproductive classes connected with the monarchy, dependent on foreign capital. The working class was not developed, and there were almost no middle classes. Nevertheless, fascism also appeared in those countries, It appeared, partly as monarcho-military dictatorships which used fascist ruling methods between the late 1920s and the early 1930s, but, fascist tendencies were also present in the movements of nationalistic-military and intellectual opposition. In different forms these two patterns of fascism would occur later in the 1940s, when under conditions of German occupation, they were able to merge without conflict and strengthen each other.

Fascism in the Balkans was characterized by its prominent homogenous agrarian origins. Capitalist classes (versus bourgeois classes and the proletariat) were not only weak in numbers, but also had a different status when compared with similar groups in the developed industrial countries of the West. They were far more strongly influenced by the old, semi-feudal ways of rule and behaviour. Class consciousness was blurred by a conservative, patriarchal form of the master-servant relationship. They wcre not only anti-socialist, but also prominently anti-democratic, known for sentiments of reactionary anti-capitalism, patriarcho-conservative criticism of culture and other forms of peasant, romantic and religious ideologies which opposed the rationalism of the West. Occasional threats of a revolutionary, plebeian-proletarian solution of all national and social problems were magnified by the fear of the influence of the October revolution in Russia. The mere vicinity of the Soviet Union gave rise to an extremely reactionary policy and accelerated the emergence of strong, anti-revolutionary movements. Thus, communist parties that were originally legal were banned very early in the Balkans (in Yugoslavia and Romania in 1921; in Bulgaria in 1925 and in Greece in 1936), leaving the illiterate peasantry to the manipulations of the conservative peasant parties. Not only was legal social opposition lacking in the timid Balkan parliaments, but these countries, consisting as they did mainly of rural areas without influential urban centres, did not oppose dictators, being unaware of how to protect their interests in a parliamentary system. Uneducated peasantry was readily attached to a strong leader who, they assumed, combined the characteristics of a father and protector of a nation in a godlike way, and who was an absolute ruler, not an official with limited authority.

In the Balkan states nationalism was the ideological basis not only for fascism, but for nearly all political movements. Thus, in Yugoslavia, the national question was especially acute after the First World War. A majority union of southern Slavs in the Balkans in 1918 was made up of five different although closely related nations, with three religions (Orthodox, Catholic and Moslem), three similar but not identical languages (serbo-Croat, Slovene and Macedonian) and two alphabets (Cyrillic and Latin) in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. These five nations had never been united before and they had different political, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Although the Yugoslav state developed as an axis of resis­tance against the Habsburg Empire which threatened with magyarisation and germanisation, it was still unable to neutralize nationalistic and separatistic tendencies in the country. Aggressive nationalism took the form of revisionism, separatism and defence of the status quo. Since the Balkan countries were in a state of subjugation in relation to developed imperialist countries, the scope of their nationalisms was restricted, i.e. there was no possibility of solving interior problems by expansion. Therefore, in the country itself, nationalism was extremely active against the peoples on the same soil. There was also another factor which gave strength to nationalism in these countries. The new capitalist classes, the bourgeoisie, the

intelligentsia, the new middle classes and a part of the urban working class, originated from ethnically foreign elements: in Yugoslavia from the Jewish and Cincar “kaishari”, in Hungary from Germano-Austrian, Czech or Slovak groups, and in Romania from Hungarian and Saxon groups. Fascism, there­fore, played a conclusive role in the formation of nations in an extremely reactionary way; to the bourgeoisie, intelligentsia and middle classes it offered the destruction of parasitism and a new “national” division of privileges, while, with the help of racist propaganda, offering the lower classes a place in national society and with it, the abolition of the anachronistic master-servant relationship. (Lackó 1986:40) In these countries fascism existed without being conspicious, as nationalism was a cover for many different movements. In the ideologies of fascist-type movements, scmi-contemporary and traditional elements of their own historical heritage were interwoven with more modern features of German and Italian fascism, whose principles were often uncritically adopted.

A major difference between fascism in the Balkans and in other European countries was the degree of collaboration from the clergy. Fearing that the workers’ movements would lead to revolution, the church collaborated with all anti-communist movements to protect its status and interests. The ideologies of fascist movements collaborating with clerical groups in southeast countries like the Iron Guard in Romania, the Arrow Cross in Hungary, the Ustasha in Croatia, and Zbor in Serbia, developed a religiously mystical character almost resembling that of Christian sects. The prominent religious character of these ideologies made them different from developed fascism which, owing to its broader basis, was able to establish a more independent relationship with the church. However, Balkan fascism encompassed all the typical fascist characteristics like the struggle against bourgeois democracy, Judaism, masonry and communism as well as the glorification of a charismatic leader. A heterogenous combination of religious and fascist contents in the ideologies of these movements received a national, religious or political character, depending on which was the most suitable for gathering the masses under the circumstances, while fascist strategy in these parts was also characterized by both conservative and pseudorevolutionary elements. The underdeveloped countries now had their own middle class fascist followers, though the broader fascist basis still consisted of peasants and members of the working class.

In spite of the fact that some of the regimes in the southeastern European countries were, to a great extent, fascistoid, the fascist movements themselves, though their influence was by no means negligible, were indisputably in opposition to these regimes. In the eyes of bourgeois circles

in power, fascist movements were not reliable keepers of order but breakers of the heavily maintained peace and mobilizers of nearly immovable poor classes. That was the reason why, in these countries, the bourgeoisie in power and the fascist movements did not make alliances until the war. This alliance was the condition needed to establish a fascist state. In fact, in both Italy and Germany, the removal of the “radical” wing within the fascist movement was a requisite for a similar alliance between the more plebeian fascist forces and traditional conservation. In underdeveloped countries there were even greater obstacles. This was probably due to the fact that the revolutionary threat from the working class was weaker here, making authoritarian regimes or military dictatorships efficient enough on their own in their struggle with the left. Even under German occupation, when quislings came to power, the Germans never relied on local fascists any­where. As a rule, pro-German circles within the bourgeoisie and the anny which exhibited far less radical views in internal affairs were more reliable. Thus, in Romania, the occupying forces relied on general Antoanescu, not on the fascist Iron Guard. In Hungary they relied on admiral Horthy nearly all the time, not on Szalaszi, and in Serbia on general Nedić, not on D. Ljotić. The fascistification of regimes was achieved by other means. Power­ful groups from the bourgeoisie and the army made direct or indirect alliances with great fascist powers and oriented their domestic and foreign policy towards fascism. The effects of fascism, however, did not differ much from those in the developed fascist states.2

The Development of the Main Fascist Movements in

Yugoslavia: The “Zbor” and Ustasha Movements
The Yugoslav national movement, the “Zbor” (company), was formed from several profascist organizations and groups at the beginning of 1935. (For the development of “Zbor”, see M. Stefanović 1984; B. Gligorijević 1963 and 1965; and for the ideology of “Zbor”, T. Kuljić 1974.) Through the unification these fascist movements, which until then had been scattered and acting more or less spontaneously, they obtained a somewhat stronger institutional basis and became more active. The role of these organizations

was primarily to form the core of the cadre preparing to take command after the occupation, while they were of no consequence in the political life of the country until 1941. The German Nazis took great interest in the activities of the “Zbor”, and called it the “regenerator of Yugoslavia”. The movement had the financial support of some local industrials but drew Genuan subsidy as well. “Zbor” agitated in the country and tried to mobilize as many followers as possible. The emblem of “Zbor” was a shield with a spike and a sword; its followers greeted each other by holding up the right hand to imitate the Nazi salute, and had crosses similar to swastikas on their posters. They emphasized that they wanted to create a ’New order” and promised to take over Nazi ideas and enrich them with religious and local characteristics”. Nevertheless, during the existence of “Zbor” in pre-war Yugoslavia D. Ljotic failed to build up a movement with which he could participate in the struggle for parliamentary influence and introduce a fascist programme. “Zbor’s” efforts were even unsuccessful after the occupation when its status was reduced to that of subsidiary troops of the quisling pro-German bourgeoisie.

Of all nationalist movements in inter-war Yugoslavia, the Croat Ustasha movement was by far the most fascist. (About the Ustasha movement and state, see the books of B. Krizman 1978, 1983 and 1986; F. Jelic-Butić 1977; L. Hory and M. Broszat 1965.) The Ustasha movement came into existence in an atmosphere of national and social crisis of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at the end of the 1920s. In opposition to the Yugoslav idea the separatist Ustasha idea of a Greater Croat State was modelled on the ideology of the Croat Party of Law (frankovci) of the 19th century. After the proclamation of the monarcho-dictatorship in 1929, the lawyer Ante Pavelic fled to Austria and became one of the leaders of the Croat antiyugoslav opposition. He came into contact with members of the Frankovci, who had fled from Yugoslavia as early as 1918 and with members of the Macedonian separatistic movement VMRO (The Inner Macedonian Revolu­tionary Organisation). With Italian fiancial support they established camps for the military training of exiles and members of the Croat Ustasha move­ment in 1932. Their idea of a Greater Croatia was chiefly based on the territorial importance of the Drina river as “a boundary between the two worlds, East and West”, while their ideas for the organization of the state were very unclear at the time of the formation of the movements which took the form of a semimilitary organization with the “Poglavnik” as its leader. In October 1934 the Ustasha assisinated the Yugoslav King Alexander Karadjordjević in Marseille. After this event, under pressure from Yugoslavia, Italy interned Ustasha on the Lipar islands while Pavelić was arrested. At that time a more intensive fascistification of the movement began and the plan for the solution of the Croat question was adopted. Pavelic finished his long report under the title “The Croat Question” in October 1936 and submitted it to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main ideas reported there are as follows:

1. Croats are not of Slav but of Gothic origin.

2. Yugoslavia was founded aginst the will of the Croat people and the Versailles Treaty should be abolished.

3. The main enemies of the Croat liberation movement are Serbs, Jews, masons and communists.

4. That is why a nationally strong Croatia should be established, the unity of which is guaranteed by the peasantry and a strong central European cultural tradition.

The historical role of the Croat state is to be the fortress of the West against the East and its bastion against bolshevism (Krizman 1978:235-245). In due course, they felt, this programme could be realized. Though imprisoned, the Ustasha had Italian protection and represented the Croation reserve for the future. Less important was the National Socialist Labour Party which was founded by Stjepan Buć from the right wing of the Croat peasant party and local frankovci in Zagreb in June, 1940.

The day after the coup d’etat in Belgrade, instigated by a pro-British group of army officers who were against the pact signed between Yugoslavia and Germany on March 27th 1941, the Duce received Pavelić which meant, for the Ustasha, that the hour had struck. It seems, however, that the Germans had intended to rely on the old politician Maček, not on Pavelic, after the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. As no agreement had been reached with Maček, Pavelic took office on April 15th 1941. In agreement with the German plan for the partition of Yugoslavia, Italy guaranteed Croat independence. Germany had the key role in the arrangement of politi­cal forces in the Balkans and, as the war developed, Mussolini became more and more dependent on Hitler. The Pavelić movement tried to strengthen its leading role by introducing the Ustasha movement into the main state institutions, particularly the army and the public service. It was necessary to infiltrate the administration in accordance on the German and Italian model. This fascistification of Yugoslavia was obviously a direct imitation of the fascist organization of the state, of the party and of the economy in the fascist core countries. The corporative ideas, and the Nazi and anti-semitic laws of a fascists state were introduced, as well as

concentration camps. Poglavnik was the head of state and government, the leader of the movement and the highest military commander. Their aim was “clean Croat living space” and the extermination of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. While the model for the “solution” of the Jewish problem could be found in the racist policy of the Third Reich, the Serb question was more difficult. Serbs accounted for nearly one third of the new “Independent State of Croatia”, so they could not simply be exterminated or interned. With the willing help of the Ustasha Catholic clergy, a pro­gramme of compulsory mass conversion to Catholicism was carried out in order to achieve a confessionally homogenous population. Catholic clergy were employed as missionaries in the Catholic expansion to the East. This expansion was followed by mass slaughter of Serbs. At the same time in the propaganda it was maintained that Bosnian Moslems were “racially genuine Croats”. It was a more primitive and more reactionary way of fascistification than that employed in Germany or Italy. Although the social impact of Balkan and of German fascistification was similar, the difference between them was approximately of the same order as that between a dagger and a gas chamber. In their utopian-reactionary racist ideology and firm intention to develop a pure Croat state, the Ustasha were very similar to the Nazis. It seems that the sources of the differences between them lay mostly in their different levels of development. In the Ustasha movement petty-bourgeois anti-monopolism and anti-communism were less noticeable due to underdeveloped capitalism and the weakness of the local working class. Their possibilities of extending their nationalism to other countries by expansion were small, making the nationalism in the country itself stronger than in the developed, nationally homogeneous fascist countries. That is why the ideology and practice of the Ustasha movement were determined more by national goals than class-war. Thus, the Ustasha model differed from Italian, Hungarian or Austrian fascism, while the unity of national and religious objectives described here shows many similarities with the Romanian Iron Guard.

Because of national antagonism, mainly between the Serbs and the Croats, fascism was able to take root exceptionally easily in Yugoslavia. The ideological transformation of nationalist antagonism into passionate — and even religious — feelings could take place because of the romantic light in which the Serbs and Croats were seen as two absolutely distinct nations, although they did not differ in their language but only in their religion. Antagonism between Orthodox Chritianity and Catholicism became the driving force behind the fascistification in Croatia, while anti-Catholicism in Serbia was of no importance in the same process.

Of all the nationalist forces in pre-war Yugoslavia, the Croat Ustasha movement was the most fascistically inclined. While victorious Serbian nationalism, in the inter-war period, was politically and ideologically oriented towards Western bourgeois democracy, Croat nationalism from the very beginning belonged to the bloc of “late nations” of 1919, so that its natural tendency was towards the leading powers in central Europe (Italy and Germany), which wanted a revision of the Versailles peace treaty. Naturally enough, these plans for revision were not supported by Serb fascists. Both fascist move­ments were based upon national conservative tradition. Though ideologically similar, the two fascist movements had different concepts of state organization. The Ustasha fervently criticized “unnatural Yugoslav unity” aiming at a reactionary and chaotic re-Balkanization, while the Ljotic followers, on the basis of the tradition of Greater-Serbia, stood for the Yugoslav solution. Even after his defeat in April 1941 Ljotić did not give up this idea, thus differing from general M. Nedić (the chief of the quisling regime in Serbia), who supported the orthodox separatistic ideal of Greater Serbia.

It is noteworthy that both Ljotić’s and the Ustasha fascist movements were supported by some active clergy. In Croatia the Ustasha was clearly pro-Catholic and actively reinforced by the church, while in Serbia the bogomils (an order of the Orthodox church) supported Zbor. In both move­ments the fascistification of religious nationalism was expressed in a romantic glorification of the roots, a return to the rural and pre-capitalist past and in a huge increase in the number of conversions to the Catholic and Orthodox religions. Intolerance was more prominent in the Ustasha movement, based on the thesis that Croats differed deeply from other Slays. A logical consequence was their geopolitical demand for a Croat state as an exclusive living space. In the ideology of both movements it is obvious that their intention was to reconcile a religious outlook of life with characteristic fascist contents most of which were borrowed from Nazism. This was also true of the organization of the party and later of the occupa­tional quisling state administration for which the German, rather than the Italian example, was followed. In general, there was more fascistification in Croatia than in the “Serbian peasant community country”; the fascist movement was stronger there and fascism penetrated more state institutions. (For more details see F. Jelic-Butić 1977.) It seems that the role played by the followers of Ljotic was less important in Serbia due to the ethnically more homogenous population. Revanchism, which was an excuse for genocide, was also stronger in the Ustasha movement. Pavelić intended to create an ethnically and racially pure Croatia, which meant the exter-


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