Monday, November 14, 2005

Croatian New York?

A couple weeks ago, Slavs of New York ran the post Slovenes in the East Village, which caught the eye of Glory of Carniola. To be mentioned on such a fantastic blog was great, but what was even better was the comments by DarkoV.

Apparently, back in the 1970s and 1980s New York City had its very own Croatian nationalist terror attacks. Who knew?

The group was called the Croatian National Resistance, or Otpor (or Odpor) for short. It was founded by Vjekoslav “Maks” Luburic, a leader of Croatia’s World War II-era Ustasha government.

Aside from New York City, the group was also active in Chicago and Los Angeles, with other members also in Cleveland, San Francisco and Toronto as well as in South America and in Europe.

Their primary goal was to secure the independence of Croatia from the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia but their activities mostly consisted of attacks on pro-Yugoslav or moderate Croats in the US and elsewhere.

Among the incidents:

29 December 1975 –
LaGuardia Airport attack. Croatian Nationals at LaGuardia Airport kill 11 and injure 75 after detonating a bomb with the force of 20 sticks of dynamite in a coin operated locker at the TWA terminal. The force of the explosion turned locker doors and metal pieces from baggage carousels into deadly shrapnel.

10 September 1976 – TWA hijacking. Terrorist Zvonko Busic, his wife and three other Croatian terrorists, as a result of concerns about the plight of Croatia within then communist Yugoslavia, hijack a TWA jetliner from LaGuardia Airport, bound for Chicago and re-routed to Paris, seizing 86 passengers. There were no weapons aboard the plane, but genuine explosives were left behind in a Grand Central Station baggage locker in order to create the impression that there were weapons on the plane. Bomb Squad Officer Brian Murray tragically lost his life attempting to deactivate the bomb. Another Glory of Carniola reader adds, that was the flight where Vesna Vulović secured the most terrifying world record of all: surviving the highest fall without a parachute. And apparently Vesna landed straight into a folk song, “Vesna stuardesa” (check out Aviation Security International, How to Survive a Bombing at 33,00 Feet)

1977 - Assasination attempt on Radomir Medic at United Nation mission.

1978 - Two killed. Yugoslav immigrants Ante Cikoja and Krizan Brkic were killed in New York City and Los Angeles, resp.

1978 - Two critically wounded. Another two Yugoslav immigrants critically wounded in an attack in New York City.

2 July 1982 –
Landmark sentencing of six Otpor activists on racketeering charges, including two planned murders.

6 July 1982 – Bombings in New York. Four New York Yugoslav sites bombed by Otpor in retaliation.

25 January 1983 -
The First Otpor RICO Trial in New York City. Decision handed down in the case of USA vs. Franjo Ivic Nedjelko Sovulj, Ivan Cale and Stipe Ivkosic. All four Otpor members were convicted on various charges; Cale was sentenced to 35 years, Ivic to 30, Ivkosic and Sovulj both to 20.

14 April 1983 -
The Second Otpor RICO Trial in New York City. Thirteen-week trail results in the conviction of six more Otpor activists. Defense lawyers accused the prosecution of being in bed with UDBA, the Yugoslav secret police, and alleged their clients were victims of the communist Yugoslav government, which influenced the US government to bring forward the charges.

The group was the subject of an episode of the FBI Files on the Discovery Channel which aired about this time last year.

DarkoV concludes: It was not a pleasant time to be an American of Croatian birth, who had no interest in any violent overthrow. Luckily, the main organizers were arrested or they disappeared, so life returned to normalcy again, namely, back to the times when most Americans didn't know who or what a Croatian was.

Thanks for the info, DarkoV!

Previously on Slavs of New York: Slovenes in the East Village and Manhattan's Croats


Anonymous said...

Zdravo pijatelji,

I'm a former New Yorker(Serbian). Back when I lived there, we were Yugoslavian, not Serb or Croatian, etc. Just totally blown away by this. I was flipping through the channels and caught the FBI files show about this. Can't believe I never heard about this 'till now! Very interesting, as is this site.

Anonymous said...

yes, Croats did many nasty things.
Jasenovac, terrorising and blowing up people, ethnic cleansing and now there is a strong NAZI movement in Croatia.
God only knows where this will end.

Neo-Nazism In Croatia/ Obsession With Historical Paradox

Over 60,000 fans celebrating Croatia's Nazi past with a Hitler style hand salutes - "Sieg Heils".

Many children in Croatia are raised in Ustashe tradition. Neo-Nazism in Croatia is scarcely, if at all, restricted by the law - as of year 2004, and Croatia silently allows people to use symbols of the Independent State of Croatia and Ustaše freely. Since gaining independence, Croatia has often been accused of ignoring its dark past and erasing evidence of former Fascist and Nazi crimes. In one prominent case, Zagreb's "Square of Victims of Fascism" was renamed the "The Square of The Great Men of Croatia", provoking widespread criticism of Croatia's attitude toward the Holocaust. Many streets have been renamed after prominent Ustasha figures such as Mile Budak, which provoked outrage in the Serbian minority, that still numbered 12% in 1991. despite of WWII genocide.

The memory of the Ustasha genocide was still very vivid when Croatia started secession from SFRY, and Serbs in Croatia were frightened from the new developments. Croatia has no laws against historical revisionism and holocaust denial, nor does it regard denazification as a major priority. Unlike Germany and Austria, Croatia places no restrictions on the exhibition of Nazi and Ustaše symbols. Although prohibitions existed under the Communist regime of Yugoslavia, they disappeared with Croatian independence in 1992, and public display of such symbols is now relatively common, if controversial. To their modern supporters, the Ustaše are considered to have been merely victims of the Bleiburg massacre and there have even been proposals by President Tudjman to rebury them together with victims of Jasenovac concentration camp as a sign of national reconciliation, although it should be noted that Croatian partisans were only a very small proportion of casualties at Jasenovac.

Croatian Serbs, whose cousins died in the Jasenovac concentration camp and other concentration camps in Croatia, were insulted by such proposals. The resurgence of the Ustaše movement in present-day Croatia is partly due to the financial support of Ustaše emigration to HDZ during the 1990s. That resurgence is today publicly visible even at the Croatian government level. An attempt was made to bring to the justice Nada Sakic who was a guardian at the Stara Gradiska concentration camp; her cruelty towards the prisoners is reflected in diverse testimonies that were the basis for her extradition in in November 1998 to Croatia - where she was held until her release. Croatian government granted her Croatian citizenship. Mrs. Sakic, then 72, was never even indicted by the Croatian authorities. The Croatian government falsely claimed that no evidence or witnesses exist to indict Mrs. Sakic. However, the New York based Jasenovac Research Institute was in contact with Survivors living in Yugoslavia who had given eyewitness testimony to Mrs. Sakic's crimes at Stara Gradishka (part of the Jasenovac camps). At the First International Conference on Jasenovac in New York City in 1997 one of these Survivors, Mara Vejnovic, gave an eyewitness account of Nada Sakic's activities as a death camp commander. Proving the existence of a ready audience for fascist thought in Croatia, Mein Kampf was published and sold in the year of 1999 - in the number more than 600 copies in hardback within days at the remarkable price of 500 kuna (75 dollars each) - roughly equivalent to a week's average salary here. That time German foreign minister Joschka Fischer was prompted to press his Croatian opposite number Mate Granic to have Hitler's book banned in Croatia. In 1999 a suit was filed at a court in San Franciso against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) and against the Franciscan order, the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustashe), the National Bank of Switzerland and others. The suit was filed by Jewish, Ukrainian, Serb and Roma survivors, as well as relatives of victims and various organizations that together represent 300,000 World War II victims. The plaintiffs demanded accounting and restitution. One of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs is Jonathan Levy. "Many of the plaintiffs have been reluctant to be pictured, after all these years," says Levy. "Many are still terrified of the Ustashe, the Serbs particularly. Unlike the Nazi Party, the Ustashe still exist and have a party headquarters in Zagreb." In protests, supporters of Ante Gotovina and other suspected war criminals often carry nationalist symbols and pictures of Ante Pavelic. Among children, black Ustaše uniforms are now more commonly seen in Croatia than are those of the Young Pioneers. Public appearance of the Ustashe veterans seen in Zadar are tepidly condemned by some newspapers. Singing infamous Jasenovac i Gradiska Stara song which glorifies Ustashe and their genocide over Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies is popular even among schoolchildren and treated more like as yelling or screaming in public.

Anonymous said...

Good job eloquent anonymous for this lovely little speech here, you totally succeeded in making Croatians look like total fascist freaks. I for one am a Croatian highschool student which does not deny the fact that the ustaše did war crimes and lots of other nasty things, hey, my grandfather was an ustaša but not because he wanted to be, he was forced to be one and he died in Bleiburg(try googleing up that) although he was an honorable and non bloodthirsty man. And on the other hand take a look at vukovar, a croatian city witch the serbs attacked and totally destroyed in the croatian war of independence and the serbian chetniks committed several thousand murders on the croatian soil not even 20 years ago. My dear people the war lasted since 1991-1995. My dear people i lost my whole family who lived in Bosnia in Banja luka, a city that was consisted mainly of croatians and bosnians(muslims) and which is now predominantly serbian. There are a lot of examples but i do not have the strength to continue. And my dear anonymous friend, please dont judge the whole croatian nation just because of a few extreme examples (by this i mean neo-nazism), how many chetnik gathering are there annually held in serbia??? i bet you wouldnt know so please dont hate the entire croatian nation because someone from your family told you that we are all bloodthirsty fascists. Thank you, hvala ti na vremenu

a croat said...

right on anonymous #2. most soldiers in WWII only fought for who they had to, not because they had political ideals. one of my great uncles was an ustasa and the other was a partizan, it was only a matter of who came to the door looking for them first. to clear another thing up for anyone who is reading and is not from the former yugoslavia: serbs are cetnici just much as croats are ustase, and cetnici committed the same crimes the ustasa did, even coming out with stamps to commemorate belgrade becoming the first "jewish free" city in europe. partizans fought against the axis powers, and they included all ethnicities from the former yugoslavia.

a croat said...

in reference to my previous comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see that pro communist ignorant fools still exist.. why dont you write about the thousands of innocent croats slaughtered by serbs in the 90's. These croats were all heros!

a croat said...

to the above anonymous, if your comment was directed at mine i'm sorry if i didn't make myself clear. by no means am i pro communist, that would go against my entire upbringing. i was only trying to be as objective as possible and not play tick-for-tack of victim tallying that goes on in most of these types of discussions. i was just trying to spell it out for nonbalkan people that have the wool pulled over their eyes into thinking that croats were nazis and sole perpetrators of crimes. my main point was that if people believe partizans were the good guys, then it includes all "yugoslavian" ethnicities.

Jelena said...

All this talk about Nazi this Nazi and that needs to be examined as new info, and lies are exposed. There were Nazi collobators all over Europe, even including (gasp!)Serbia. I've heard enough bs about the chetniks, mihailovich, innocent serbs, hugely inflated numbers of victims, false histories, long enough. In Canada there were never any Jugo anything, clubs, teams, centers..nothing. Because here nobody was indoctrinated and forced to call themselves some made up nationality. Serbs have had their eyes on neighbouring countries/people lands for hundreds of years. There's a reason that 1 by 1 all the Republics opted for going for independence, leave Serbia to the Srbs.

NDH1941 said...

Croatians wanted to be as far away from the kingdom of Yugoslavia and the communist leadership of that pig Tito. There is a reason why there was a ustasa uprising in 1941, read real history books not these history books that are written by the Yugoslav communists and the rest of the people that were impacted. Remember that during Tito's time after world war 2 people were taught whatever the communist nation of Tito wanted them to be taught. He taught the children and other students in Croatia about jasenovac, yet didn't mention Bleiburg. Pathetic, Yugoslavia never existed in my house and I am proud to say that my father holds ante pavelic dear to his heart as he instilled the idea in Croatians minds of an independent state of Croatia.

Max said...

TODAY’S INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA IS THE COPY OF THE NAZI PUPPET STATE OF SOME FIFTY YEARS AGO. THE COUNTRY HAS THE SAME: NAME, FLAG, NATIONAL EMBLEM, NATIONAL ANTHEM, CURRENCY, UNIFORMS (BLACK SHIRTS)...Tudjman's HDZ party was heavily financed by members of the Croatian diaspora, especially by remnants of the Ustasa movement in the United States, Canada and Australia. In March of 1991, fascist organizations in Croatia demonstrated, calling for the overthrow of the Yugoslav government and the expulsion of all Serbs from Croatia. On March 5, 1991, they attacked the federal army base at Gospic. Thus, civil war began.Franjo Tudjman was a monster, but he was our/not mine!!/ monster.Fascism became "in vogue" in Tudjman’s Croatia. On Zagreb's streets, and in cities and towns throughout the republic, newsstands freely hawked Ustasha paraphernalia -- swastikas, the Fascist coat-of-arms, pictures of Ante Pavelic and other trinkets were sold openly.Much of Tudjman's financial backing was provided by Ustashe émigrés and several Ustashe war criminals were invited to attend the first convention of Tudjman's political party, the Croatian Democratic Union. Tudjman constantly harped on nationalist themes, saying at one point, "Thank God, my wife is neither a Serb nor a Jew."Tudjman presented a medal to a former Ustashe commander living in Argentina, Ivo Rojnica. After Rojnica was quoted as saying, "Everything I did in 1941 I would do again," international pressure prevented Tudjman from appointing him to the post of ambassador to Argentina. When former Ustashe official Vinko Nikolic returned to Croatia, Tudjman appointed him to a seat in parliament. Upon former Ustashe officer Mate Sarlija's return to Croatia, he was personally welcomed at the airport by Defense Minister Gojko Susak, and subsequently given the post of general in the Croatian Army. On November 4, 1996, thirteen former Ustashe officers were presented with medals and ranks in the Croatian Army. The Krajina Serb population was resisting the rule of a Croatian regime that was clearly fascist. The war in Croatia was not the result of some “joint criminal enterprise,” or conspiracy, to create “greater Serbia.” The war in Croatia occurred because the Serbian population refused to be dictated to by a fascist regime in Zagreb.On August 3, 1995, Croat forces supported by the U.S. and headed by an American general launched a decisive attack in Krajina, expelling 300,000 Serbs, killing 14,000 people, and burning tens of thousands of Serbian homes as well as Orthodox churches and monasteries.It was the greatest GENOCIDE/ethnic cleansing in Europe since WWII.

Max said...

Over 60000 fans celebrating Croatia's Nazi past with a Hitler style hand salutes - "Sieg Heils"....

Anonymous said...

Max - you are full of shit! Do you know what you are talking about - take some truths and twist it - that's what Tito did too, so I guess it's okay to sprout your propaganda just like the rest. You want to talk about ethnic cleansing? You want to go visit Vukovar or Srebrenica. No war goes without atrocities which is unfortunate, but if you want to sprout paragraphs of bullshit, be objective. Go to the library and get some extracts from the Manchester Times and the New York Times and read what really happened pre WWII and post WWII, that Tito couldn't change even if he changed text books in the former Yugoslavia. You may also want to look at the footage of Vukovar after the Serbian slaughter of Craotians. By the way - the flag is not the same anymore. It is fact the only churches burned were Croatian Churches and Muslim Mosques! It is fact that the greatest ethnic cleansing was Srebrenica. It is fact that there was no dictatorship but the ideal of the Greater Serbia being created was the reason the Serbs went to war, it has always been the reason. Go do some more googling that's not one sided, might keep you busy.

Anonymous said...

Im no ustasa ....or nazi or call it whatever u would like....Id like for u to reasearch David Cole and the holocaust. Also i would like if u get a chance speak to austrian or any who were alive still alive about concentration camps...and not the mainstream BS. Some of these concentration camps were alegedly build post ww2. Begs to question what the Ustasa,partizani and whoever else was all about. What i am saying is that your comment makes sence bases on mainstream media/history/science.....As Sir Winston Churchill once said.."history is written by the victor".....lets stop pointing fingers and really get to the cire of this. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Amazing that fools promote division amongst their own people still today. Serbians, Bosnians, Montenegrins, and Croatians are genetically the same race of people as proven via dna testing by science. They speak the same language, eat the same food, listen to the same music. But here they are still wanting to kill each other rather than creating a strong alliance like it once was.

Anonymous said...

Thank you . It is a well known religious war . Croatian Ustasha and Tito are Croatian a Croatian Communist . Nazi and Ustasha is same the Nazi's where shocked at how evil the Croatian Fasicts were .