May 20, 2005
Translated by Hilda Foley
In the hall of the Croatian Catholic diocese in Toronto, Canada, on May 13 the film Freedom from Despair was shown in English and Croatian, the day after in the hall of the Croatian diocese of Hamilton, on the 15th in Oakville and at the Rogers Theater in Living Arts Center in Mississauga. The producer and director of the film is a young Croatian, Brenda Brkusic, born in Chicago, USA but now lives in L.A. Her film received the following awards: Best Documentary International Student film Festival Hollywood, Best Documentary New York International Independent Film Festival, Best Documentary Chapman Studios Filmmaker Awards, Special Recognition Dubrovnik International Film Festival.
The showing of this very valuable documentary film from the young Croatian whose parents were practicing Catholics and as such were persecuted in communist Yugoslavia, was organized by Erica Zlomislic who was born in Canada along with the consultation of the mentioned dioceses in Canada. The halls where the film was shown were filled with older and younger Croatian immigrants and their descendants, who were born, grew up and were educated in Canada and the first part of the movie describes the great disappointment of those Croats who at the time of the renewal of Yugoslavia in 1945 and the coming to power of the Communists believed the seductive promises how the new Yugoslavia will be a state of freedom, prosperity and national equality for all people, which was not the case in prewar royal Yugoslavia, or as the communists called it "Monarcho-fascist Yugoslavia". Instead of keeping their promises, the communists were massively killing, persecuting and imprisoning their real or imagined political and ideological enemies, forcibly driving the village and city youths into voluntary works throughout the country, putting pressure on state employees to join the communist party KPJ, later changed to SKJ. When Moscow threw the Yugoslav communist party out of the Kominform in 1948, accusing them of being agents of the western capitalists, they tried in practice to prove that it was not true, that they are truer Leninists and Stalinists than their teachers and models who have thrown them out of the communist family and who are falsely accusing them that they betrayed Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism.
Even as they started building community homes on a voluntary basis in practically all villages in the country while Yugoslavia was still a member of the Kominform, established in Belgrade, which was supposed to be the starting point of collectivism (the establishment of farmer co-operatives), the government, after being thrown out of the Kominform escalated the forceful collectivization. That was supposed to have been the proof of their faithfulness, attachment and devotion to the common
doctrine. As the farmers gave heavy resistance, the pressure became stronger and tens of thousands ended up in prisons from where they were sent to heavy work in labor camps, while many in slavonia and other richer regions committed suicide. After that unsuccessful experiment in which the tyrannical and criminal government was defeated and was forced to back off, the agriculture never again recovered and the surplus of the work force, by the decision of the party leadership, went as guest workers to the capitalist countries in which most remained permanently.
In the film the so-called Punishing and Rehabilitation Institutions Stara Gradiska, Lepoglava and Goli Otok are pictured and according to the mentioned information, in these institutions including also others in the country, there were on the average more political prisoners than in any other previous communist country in Europe. Because of all these crimes, in the film Josip Broz Tito is put in line with the greatest war and post war criminals of the XX century. The film also shows the demonstration of the Croatian University students on the then-called Trg Republike in Zagreb, who were dispersed with water canons by the national militia, for which today's leader on the Pantovcak (Mesic) put the blame not long ago on Drazen Budisa and others from the student leadership of that time.
If the government will allow the showing of the film on Croatian TV, the viewers in Croatia will have the opportunity to see the big demonstrations of the Croatian Diaspora in Washington during the Serbian and Yugo-communist aggression against the Croatian Republic, after Croatians under the leadership of Dr. Tudjman in a referendum decided to leave Yugoslavia and declare their independent and sovereign state.