The Union of the Associations for the Values of the National Liberation Movement of Slovenia (ZZB NOB) has proposed that Slovenia should outlaw the wearing of fascist and Nazi symbols and put an end to the activities of groups with extreme beliefs who without reservations dress in uniforms of supporters of Nazi Germany. This would all be well and good if they were consistent, but their proposal did not even mention symbols of communist Yugoslavia, whose regime slaughtered 570 thousand people, predominantly political opponents that could have in one way or another threatened the preservation of the criminal totalitarian system.
Member of the ZZB NOB presidency Marjan Križman was the one who put forward the suggestion which has recently been adopted by ZZB NOB. He told Mladina that his decision had been influenced by the fascist and Nazi slogans that had been appearing in Slovenia along with people brazenly wearing symbols and uniforms of supporters of the Nazi regime. During all this he completely “forgot” to raise the issue of people wearing communist symbols even though it is completely impossible to watch a state ceremony without seeing symbols of the Yugoslav People’s Army.
Symbols of totalitarianism can be observed all over Slovenia
Last month, strollers on Poljanska Street in Ljubljana were shocked when they saw a Nazi flag hanging from a balcony of one of the apartment buildings. This was not an isolated case since last year hooked crosses had appeared in Štepanjsko naselje and Idrija as well as in many other places around Slovenia. There had also been an incident three years ago when many drivers were alarmed by an SUV with a Koper licence plate displaying a Nazi symbol and the phrase “Arbeit macht frei”, which had been put on the entrance of the Auschwitz concentration camp (the so-called factory of death) in the time of Nazi Germany. Of course, there is no reason to lose much time talking about the prevalence of communist symbols since it is hard to find anyone that has not seen them in person or on television in the hands of Yugo-nostalgics who yearn for the “good old times”.
Some European countries could serve as an example to Slovenia
Ukraine is definitely a country that could serve as an example to Slovenia – two years ago it banned the use of communist symbols, names, songs, and propaganda which represent a communist or nationalist regime. Last year, the Polish parliament adopted the Decommunisation Act, which gave local authorities one year to remove all symbols of the repressive communist regime from public spaces.
In neighbouring Italy, where the glorification of the fascist regime and propaganda was already criminalised in 1952, and where eventually gestures, actions, and slogans connected to a totalitarian ideology were prohibited as well, people have been encouraging a strengthening of the anti-fascist legislation. The proposal foresees a ban on the display of fascist symbols in public as well as their production and sale. But in Slovenia there are some individuals who produce Nazi flags and sell them over the internet, and it is also possible to buy a number of Yugoslav flags.
Why are changes in Slovenia not going in the right direction?
Slovenia is heading in the opposite direction – despite efforts by the biggest opposition party SDS, the leaders of the country do not want to adopt the resolution of the European Parliament concerning European awareness and totalitarianism, which urges countries to commemorate victims of totalitarianism and condemn such systems. Even though the SMC party agreed that the resolution essentially concerns victims of totalitarian regimes, those that need to be remembered respectfully, that remind us of mistakes which must not be repeated, the party failed to make a step forward and direct Slovenia down the path towards normality, justifying its inaction with claims that the proposers only intend to exacerbate an ideological battle. The undeniable sad fact (which many do not want to acknowledge) is that despite 130,000 victims which were killed extrajudicially on the Slovenian territory, no one has been held accountable for these crimes against humanity, and that is wrong.
In Germany and Italy, where fascism and Nazism originated, these totalitarian systems have been prohibited and the only proper thing would be to ensure that this applied in Slovenia as well. However, consistency is important, so people must also make an important step forward in the case of communism and start down the path to reconciliation. Totalitarian systems have caused the deaths of too many innocent people, and the heartbreak suffered by their relatives simply cannot be ignored. This is why it is very hard to understand how some people can completely forget the death toll of totalitarian regimes and march around with a smile on their face while displaying their symbols. What happened to empathy for the dead and their saddened relatives?