This week on Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Jayne Persian [Twitter]. Jayne is an historian and the author of Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians (NewSouth, 2017) and the co-editor — with Evan Smith and Vashti Jane Fox — of Histories of Fascism and Anti-Fascism in Australia (Routledge, 2023) to which she contributed (with Evan) a chapter on ‘European and Australian Fascisms: The Case of Ferenc Molnár and National Socialism in Cold War Australia’. We spoke to Jayne about how and why the Ustaše in Australia was to be, in the opinion of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood (Hrvatsko Revolucionarno Bratstvo, HRB), ‘the citadel of Croatian national consciousness abroad’.
See also : antifa notes (october 2, 2022) : nazis @ Australia Cup (Sydney) + Youth Fest (Melbourne) (October 2, 2022) | Melbourne Croatia/Knights ultras still being d*ckheads (February 22, 2015) | Croatian fascism in Australia (January 20, 2010) | “Scum” issue statement on 2007 ISD gig at Melbourne Croatia (November 7, 2007) | Neo-Nazis split Croat community (October 7, 2007) | Dr. Cam on Helen Coonan’s fascist flirtation (May 3, 2007).
4.30pm, Thursday, March 23, 2023 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website
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The HDP (Croatian Movement for Statehood) never hid its admiration for the Ustasha puppet regime established after Hitler’s troops conquered Croatia and the rest of Yugoslavia in 1941. Like other Ustasha groups in the West, it celebrated April 10, the date the neo-Nazi regime was established. It glorified the Ustasha fuehrer Pavelic and General Luburic who were responsible for the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats.
The HDP leader was Nicola Stedul, who left Yugoslavia in 1956 for West Germany to join the movement headed by Pavelic and later a rival one, the HNO (Croatian National Resistance) headed by Lubiric. He was an HNO representative in Australia from 1966 to 1971, a time when the HNO and other radical Ustasha groups carried out a series of bomb attacks. The then Liberal Government and ASIO outrageously covered up for those responsible for these bombings. The SWP at the time condemned these terrorist attacks.
The HNO, which later became the HDP, was also on record as carrying out numerous terrorist attacks in Western Europe. In one attack, HDP hero, Miro Baresic, assassinated the Yugoslav Ambassador in Sweden in 1971. He was released the following year when Ustasha terrorists hijacked a jet. He went to Spain, then Paraguay, where he joined the death squads of the dictator Stroesner. Baresic was arrested in the USA by the FBI and returned to prison in Sweden.
The neo-Nazi credentials of the HDP were as clear as a pike-staff. But they also tried to woo the left. Stedul formed the “Socialist Party of Croatia” in exile precisely for the purpose. In Australia, they approached Left Labor figures …and the SWP. Only the SWP welcomed them.
In 1982, the HDP tried to march on May Day in Melbourne and received a hostile reception. The SWP took up their cause and for the next few years campaigned vigorously on their behalf against every other section of the left and progressive movement who pointed out the HDP’s attitude to the Ustasha and its terrorist and neo-Nazi links. It was pointed out that in the early 1970s, war criminals here such as Srecko Rover tried to woo the Left and that early Ustasha and then the HDP had a well documented record of trying to woo the Soviets ever since the Tito split with Stalin in 1948.
What were the reasons for the SWP’s blind endorsement of these Ustasha? SWP leader David Holmes wrote in August 1983 that “the HDP leaders are revolutionaries…As a result of the collaboration between the HDP and the SWP and also through the development of the class struggle in this country, many more Croatians will come to see the need to build a revolutionary workers’ party here and fight to overthrow capitalism.”
It is easy to see the very special “entrism” involved here. It is into a whole community – there were then over 150 000 Croatian migrants in the Australian workforce. The HDP had some support among them. By “collaborating” with them, the SWP hoped to recruit among that community which would see the need for a “revolutionary workers’ party” (that is, naturally the SWP/DSP). It is a very big raiding party involved; a couple of hundred SWPers taking over the Croatian community… Such is the stuff of dreams!
Enough then to ignore what the HDP actually wrote about the Ustasha regime, enough to even lionise the terrorist neo-Nazi Baresic in the columns of Direct Action (now “Green Left Weekly”).
The SWP did recruit a few HDP members into their ranks, but after all their abject apologising for the HDP, its leaders here soon broke off links with the SWP, precisely because the SWP was trying to recruit its members. Even then, the SWP refused to criticise the HDP or admit its error, speaking of it following a “rightwing drift” in 1984, although its extreme-right credentials were available well before.