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Investigation finds widespread celebration of fascism in Croatian community

TJI Pick
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Published: 13 June 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

A Sydney Morning Herald investigation has uncovered evidence that the Australian-Croatian community embraces its Nazi past.

Major sporting and cultural clubs in Australia’s large Croatian community openly celebrate fascist anniversaries while displaying emblems, flags and maps of the murderous Ustasha regime of World War II.

The investigation uncovered how mainstream the celebration of the Nazi-backed regime that slaughtered Serbs, Jews and Romani people from 1941-45 is in key institutions of the Croatian community.

The regime is conservatively estimated to have killed 500,000 people, including political opponents, and is widely regarded by historians as having committed genocide.

Croatia’s ambassador to Australia, Betty Pavelich, said in response to the investigation that there was no place in society for the “glorification of totalitarian regimes, extremism or intolerance”.

So open is the celebration of fascism that a Sydney-based website has been selling Ustasha-themed keyrings, T-shirts, beanies, stickers and prints of wartime Croatian dictator Ante Pavelic, a close ally of Adolf Hitler, while a separate Melbourne-based website sells Ustasha flags.

On April 10, six men were filmed at the Melbourne Knights soccer club doing stiff- armed salutes as they sang a song extolling the Ustasha, also spelt Ustase.

One of the men  was dressed in black while flying a Croatian military flag with the slogan “Za dom, spremni” printed on it which means “For homeland, ready”. It was a slogan used by the Ustasha and its use can attract fines in modern-day democratic Croatia.

Fascists in our midst: the community whose leaders embrace Nazi links (SMH)

‘Symbols of hate’: The lingering afterlife of Croatian fascism in Australia (SMH)

Banning neo-Nazis will give them exactly what they want (Malcom Knox, SMH)
In banning Nazi symbols, Australian governments clearly want to contain cultural skirmishes from tipping over into actual violence. But banning cultural artefacts gives our Nazi the opportunity to mutate, an opportunity he will seize. Already, he has created his own language for public display: he wears a black bucket hat, black clothes, a black mask, and he waves the Australian flag. It might be hard for a government to ban those.

Photo: Ustasha flag, for sale on e-bay

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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