Memory Control, Manipulation and the Truth

History is replete with examples of powers and regimes controlling memory. Today they call it the public relations business. By controlling memory, they destroy the truth and thereby deny the truth its right to life. And the right to life in our time is more and more problematic and is being denied more and more. All totalitarian regimes had monopoly, control and manipulation of memory. Therefore, witnesses and sufferers were forced to remain silent until the 90s. That was part of the official oblivion. In post-communist countries, the suppression of the memory of the victims of communism is visible. And that despite all the condemnations and resolutions of official Europe. On the one hand, we have too little memory, and on the other, too much forgetting (P. Ricoeur).

We become what we remember. Yes, we become what we remember! If we remember the truth, we become people of truth! If we remember a lie, then we become people of lies. Memory is also the medium through which a person's moral education takes place.

Bleiburg is like that. Hiding the truth is an immoral act of anyone who thinks and wants good. Killing people without trial is a crime! THESE ARE INNOCENT PEOPLE. Full stop! Killing innocent children and women is a crime! Full stop. Whoever denies that, denies everything that civilization has created! Full stop! Whoever denies this is on the side of evil! Full stop! Whoever denies this is still in the darkness of the ideology of communism! Full stop! Therefore, whoever today denies that Bleiburg and the Ways of the Cross happened, tomorrow will deny that Vukovar, Škabrnja, Dalj, Vocin, Saborsko, Nadin, Dubrovnik, Srebrenica, Prijedor, Uzdol, Konjic, Grabovica, Križančevo selo, Ravno, etc. happened. And today we are witnesses that this is true, just as those before us were witnesses of the Bleiburg truth! Full stop!

Croatia, my Croatia, still lives in great delusions. Communism is still an acceptable idea. Croatian Bleiburzi, Mirogoj, Sava and Gračan roads, Goli otoci and Gradiške are non-existent topics of the Croatian present. Only in Zagreb and its surroundings, thousands of people were killed in the same May as here. People still walk on the graves, and the city of Zagreb still celebrates criminals, thanks the partisans, the same ones who killed my brothers and hundreds of Croatian priests! A cemetery was even dug up on Mirogoj. Until today in 2024, the government does not allow the marking of that cemetery. The dead need only that.

They imposed the old communist, false story on us so that we would lose ours! They forbade the coat of arms with this or that field, forbade greetings, diasporas closed the doors, put the myths of some other places on the pedestal of memory to which everything with power bows. Myths of history and the glorification of false places and dates are still in force in the democracy of the 21st century.

They forbade Marko to sing, Ivan to remember and Stipe to defend his own. They still hide 1,800 missing from the Homeland War and countless thousands of communist victims. Kumrovec is still the largest communist pilgrimage site to worship the greatest dictator. Only in Croatia is communism still legal, desirable and publicly acceptable. No shame!

O tempora, o mores. In the land of Croats, we can still live together: black and white, communism and democracy, truth and lies, Kumrovec and Vukovar, Zrin and Serbs, July 27 and May 30, truth and lies! Everything is possible!


A eucharistic celebration for all victims of the Bleiburg tragedy and Ways of the Cross from the end of World War II, was held on Friday, May 17, 2024, in the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Bleiburg. It was led by the provincial of the Hercegovina Franciscan Province of the Assumption BDM Fr. Jozo Grbeš.

The liturgical celebration was organized by the Directorate of Pastoral Care for Croatians Abroad and the Croatian Catholic Mission in Klagenfurt on behalf of the Croatian Bishops' Conference and the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mass was celebrated by several priests, including the national director of the Ministry of Pastoral Care for Croatians Abroad, Rev. Tomislav Markić, delegate of the Croatian Foreign Shepherd for Austria and head of the Croatian Catholic Mission in Linz, Fr. Vjekoslav Lazić, head of the Croatian Catholic Mission in Klagenfurt, Fr. Pavo Dominković and the local pastor, Msgr. Ivan Olip. All present were greeted by Msgr. Olip who welcomed them warmly.

The epoch-making sermon of Fra Jozo Grbeš, which will go down in the annals of Croatian history, is transmitted here in its entirety:

Fra Jozo Grbeš

Love for the Forbidden and Forgotten

It's sad to be here! Both because of the tragedies of history and the tragedies of the present. This memory is actually a Requiem for the Forgotten. Bleiburg speaks to many consciences! It is dangerous to come here. It always was, because by coming to Bleiburg we have to search for the truth, know the truth, and live our lives with the truth! We are here out of love for the forbidden and forgotten because only love heals, forgives, understands and creates a new world! We are Christians, and that means that Christ gives us the strength to speak the truth in love and live a life of permanent forgiveness.

The Month of May

The month of May is the time to remember the great events of Croatian history. That memory, while it was forbidden in the homeland and while it was whispered about in the night hours of intimate family circles, in the diaspora, the middle of May was always a memory of the massacre on the Bleiburg field, the Ways of the Cross, the camps in Austria, Italy... in the diaspora of separated families, to the stories of the fate of people who all had the same cause.

We have lived in a world of whispers for too long. Words are spoken cautiously, and the truth is hidden due to fear. And mourning was forbidden. To ban memory at the starting point of all memories is a tragedy! The prohibition of memory, which is even supported by the Austrian Church, and not only it! About the tragedy in the 21st century, which is full of praise for human rights! Yes, innocent people were killed here! Today, the children of communists continue the work of their fathers, wrapped in anti-fascism, fighting for some kind of human rights... There are no human rights without the truth!

Just as there is no truth without love. It has real strength! As Christ said: "Don't be afraid! Because there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nothing secret that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, proclaim in the light; what is whispered in your ear, preach it on the rooftops! Do not be afraid of those who say, yes, you can kill the body, but you can't kill the soul!" (Mt 10, 26-28)

Facing the Past/The Path to Truth

A large part of recent Croatian history is the history of unreconciled memories. Reconciliation requires correct memory. Selective memories are always part of the manipulation of human destinies, sufferings, histories, or life itself. Unfortunately, few people want to face the sins of their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. So therefore the "transgenerational transmission" of lies occurs. And that transmission of lies is part of memory manipulation. When the former official communist versions of events and tragedies are questioned, people are called revisionists.

However, history changes, it needs to change because it depends on the memory and the witness, not only on the official versions of dictatorial regimes. The history of the human journey is also the history of dealing with suffering, evil and injustice. The official version of history also carries official forgetfulness. To forget that some people are victims, that innocents even existed is the beginning of a cycle of injustice. Forbidden history is part of the hidden truth. And what hurts more "the unspoken truth or the spoken lie?"

Responsibility for the past is also a moral obligation to remember. "To listen to a witness is to become a witness." - says the great Jewish witness of suffering, Elie Wiesel. I myself met the surviving sufferers, the witnesses of Bleiburg. Witnesses don't lie. Everything else is not important! If we don't believe the witnesses, who will we believe? Then what will we say, write, how will we interpret the events? They ban the Bleiburg memory because it is "a symbol and a reminder of the guilty conscience of all those who made it possible!" (L. Bencik)

And when we don't face the evil of the past, we repeat the conflicts. The 90s happened to us because it was forbidden to BE and speak the TRUTH. In the east of Europe, there is still a conflict today because the new age has never faced the victims of the past? Therefore, new Stalins and new evils are possible. The circle of evil has the same path -- from killing to lying!

This suicidal combination is devastating for the nation of the present and the future! It creates confusion in the younger generations because the question remains what is the truth. Bleiburg has been destroyed, banned, publicly defamed in recent years! Who is responsible? We are waiting for an answer! We are looking for dignity!

People of the Resurrection

But we are beings of the future, people of resurrection, hope and strength in truth, and above all love. Memory in love is divine in man. Memory in hatred is not God's. Forgiveness and truth lead to the future. This is the essence of the cross, the center of Christianity. After the resurrection, Christ revealed his wounds to witnesses who went around the world bearing the Truth. Those wounds were witnesses of his suffering, and the suffering became the basis of the resurrection, and the resurrection the basis of Christianity. It's the same with us. It can be like that with us too. When we discover other people's wounds, when we acknowledge other people's wounds, then we will also discover our own and go on the path of healing and forgiveness. (Cf. John 20:19-20).

Then we become people who understand, who love, who do not divide people, who forgive and create a new, better world.

We know the sacred dimension of time and memory. For us Christians, memory is an encounter with Christ, an encounter with the Truth. In the Eucharist, he left us the power of sacramental presence. Remembrance in an act that is real: "Do this in memory of me!"

Don't forget! Who wants to be forgotten? Who wants his suffering to be forgotten? True spiritual health also implies a healthy memory. If we realize this, we will be free people, in love with the truth, people of love, witnesses of kindness, harbingers of peace, people of joy and forgiveness.

Therefore from this place I call: Do not forget Bleiburg! Who can ban your memory?

Next year, let's all go to the Bleiburg field in silence and a long walk, praying the rosary and singing songs of love, dignified and pure. Because we are people of the resurrection and we have never been and never will be afraid to speak the truth and travel with the truth.


The commemoration of the Bleiburg tragedy and Ways of the Cross was also attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Austria Daniel Glunčić, the leadership and members of the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, representatives of the local Church from Klagenfurt Cape and Bleiburg, nuns and believers from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and BiH.

At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Rev. Markic thanked everyone who did not regret the effort to come to Bleiburg, "the source of the greatest tragedy of our nation, in which, on the Ways of the Cross after the end of the Second World War, many of our compatriots, as well as members of other nations and religions, lost their lives as victims of the communist revolution and of eyeless crimes.”

Before the final blessing, Fr. Jozo prayed the Prayer of Absolution for the deceased, especially for all those killed on the Ways of the Cross of the Croatian nation.

The liturgical singing was led by the Mixed Parish Choir "St. Ante" from Humac (Ljubuški) under the direction of Prof. Zdenka Vištica and with the organ accompaniment of Sr. Katarina Petković.

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