I always welcome invitations to professional conferences. They are always an opportunity to hear and learn something new, to exchange ideas and views with colleagues. The focus of my interest is the study of the Holocaust – a subject that, for some, still belongs to sensitive historic subjects. For me, the further away a conference is from home, the better my feelings about participating; the closer it is to the Homeland (with a capital 'H'), the worse the knot in my stomach. Why? Because in Croatia, sensitive subjects are slowly being transformed into taboo subjects.
Apart from the usual labels of being a Yugo-nostalgic, Freemason, Jew, Serb, foreign mercenary etc., speaking publicly about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism has secured me overt death threats, just as has speaking publicly about Antifascism. That is why I find it hard to explain to my colleagues from the U.S. or the Netherlands why I am so excited about organizing an online quiz entitled „70 years since victory was won“. What's the big deal? The big deal is the fact that, in 2015, someone would call you an „Antifascist“, meant as an offense.
When reading about the events regarding the relationship towards Antifascist values in former Yugoslav countries, we can reach the conclusion, probably rightly so, that in Montenegro the situation is not that bad. The uprising of July 3 1941, a symbol of the Antifascist struggle in Yugoslavia, had become the Statehood Day of Montenegro. Still, this was aided by the fact that Montenegro gained international recognition on the same day in 1878 at the Berlin Congress, so there was no dilemma that July 13 would get its proper treatment.
“Professor, how is it possible that, as an elementary school pupil, I learned that the Partisans were good and the Četniks were bad; as a secondary school student, I learned that Partisans were good, but so were the Četniks; and today, in University, I am learning that Partisans were bad and Četniks were good?”
“Dear colleague, it is called ‘transition’!”
“Us people from the Balkans are afflicted with an illness, the obsession with change”, said in his time Jovan Ćirilov, dramatist and member of the first Committee for the change of street names in 1991. Between 1991, while Vojislav Šešelj and his supporters were holding performances in front of the House of Flowers, brandishing a wooden stake they would drive through the heart of Josip Broz Tito, and 1996, while the Mayors of Belgrade were Milorad Unković, Slobodanka Gruden and Nebojša Čović of the Socialist Party of Serbia, 70 streets were reassigned and 110 were given new names.
One of the photographs made during WWII made its way around the world. It displays the moment when, on May 22 1942, Partisan commandant Stjepan (Stevan) Filipović, a noose around his neck, fists held up high, hailed freedom and called the gathered people to take up arms and begin the fight against Fascism. This photograph, life-sized, has found its place in the United Nations building as a symbol of resistance to Fascism. A monument to this revolutionary was erected in Valjevo in 1961.
The educational system in Bosnia-Herzegovina is probably one of the least functional ones in the world. In a country with only 3.5 million inhabitants, there are as many as 13 Ministries of Education and at least 12 different curricula. Especially problematic is the situation in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where each of the 10 Cantons has its own education department and, consequently, its own curriculum which may or may not differ substantially from curricula that are in place elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H). This is a direct consequence of the political system of B-H, with the fact that severely divided jurisdictions enable extreme autonomy in curriculum making, with much room for the influence of politics and political ideologies.
"A referendum with fewer signatures and more petition sites" - this is the message of a new civil initiative by 15 unions and seven civil society organisations to launch the collection of signatures for a new referendum so as to ensure that signatures continue to be collected in public places and that the number of signatures required to call a referendum be reduced to 200,000.
Representatives of Ukrainian civil organisations said in Zagreb that they urgently needed international support to put more pressure on the authorities to document the serious human rights violations there.
Representative of a civil initiative that opposes the sale of Croatian motorways, on Thursday opposed the government-sponsored Plan B regarding the monetisation of the debt of the motorways' operators, namely the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the HAC-ONC toll and maintenance company's shares to citizens and pension funds, saying they do not want the motorways to be sold to private capital.
Non-profit civic associations set up an eight-metre-high Trojan horse in Zagreb's main square on Wednesday symbolising the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States, urging citizens to sign a petition against the TTIP.