By: Dr Teo Zor
In an interview with Rudi Šeligo in the magazine Ampak with the title Krivda je samo individualna (Guilt is only individual) in November 2001, Dr Jože Pučnik separated from Dr Tine Hribar.
To the question of Rudi Šeligo: “Have you read Tine Hribar’s editorial Unhappy Nation for Nova revija, which you got your hands on as one of the editors and will be published in the magazine in a few days?” Jože Pučnik answered:
“Of course. With great interest. He introduced us to thoughts of post-war crimes that I have not found in him so far. I was so pleasantly surprised at this turnaround. But only to the last paragraphs, in which he vague and I find it hard to decipher. If I try, I come to these conclusions. Tine Hribar formulated his contribution Unhappy Nation in a context that is difficult to recognise, which is not the context of the rule of law. This also explains his esoteric use of capital letters: Party, Actions, Event, Crime, Power, Fact, Truth, Trauma, Justice, with which he supposedly expresses that in his composition these terms do not appear in their everyday meaning, but in another, which he does not explain in more detail.
Tine Hribar did not write in the context of the rule of law, so his conclusions do not address the problems and contradictions of the legal system of this country, which since its founding ten years ago, paralysed like a sparrow before a snake, helplessly watches crimes without touching them. For Tine Hribar, communist crimes are not in the context of the rule of law, but on another level, symbolically marked by capital letters. Understanding this level is quite arduous. My only support is the reference points, which Tina Hribar emphasises: Kučan’s erroneous thesis about several truths about the time of the revolution existed only until the appearance of Zdenka Cerar. With her performance (which one? when?), attempts to cover up the crime as a crime failed.
Therefore, Kučan’s later thesis that “a crime is a crime” must be taken seriously. For me, this is just a tautological statement of the self-evident, and for Tine Hribar, this “thought of Crime” is an important content that “we must (…) take as absolute”.
That is why Tine Hribar decides that it is necessary to “immediately determine the state of affairs” and “record” crimes, i.e., the Truth. So, he says: “And only on the next, i.e., third level we can move (…) to the level of justice and law.” I would like to emphasise that the last two terms of this statement are really written with a small initial. And Tine Hribar develops his view on post-war crimes further:
“We are at a key point, at a turning point, so those who are in too much of a hurry, who would like to skip levels, please do not overtake. Do not put Justice before the Truth. Do not demand lustration because that will make catharsis impossible.” And so on. With the term lustration, Tine Hribar transfers to this article everything he wrote publicly about lustration a few years ago. This further dissipates the fog to cover up what he wants to say. However, he wants to say that the rule of law should continue to stare paralysed and inactive at the whole series of these obsolete monuments of the revolution, which organised and committed the most heinous crimes in Slovenian history.
He has been staring for so long that they will say goodbye to this world in a biological way as highly respected heroes and that they will be accompanied in Žale by the highest dignitaries of the Slovenian state, as was the case with General Ozna Ivan Maček. This is “humanism” and this “catharsis” according to the recipe of Tine Hribar, who only a few weeks ago decided that “we must proceed without delay to determine the state of affairs”.
I do not know where Tine Hribar lives, as his wife Spomenka correctly identified these crimes with great courage sixteen years ago, and many others have researched them very concretely and in all empirical details and published the results. And one more thing, dear Tine Hribar: Is the application of the criminal law of our country a “lustration” when it comes to communist massacres and when it comes to perpetrators who were the bearers of the communist revolution? Is it necessary to talk in more detail about the Udba evidence for the recent conviction of Vinko Levstik? Does the rank of major and general in the Communists also mean immunity? Indeed, a strange notion of the rule of law!
Returning to the original question; I was happy to read Hribar’s article, and his conclusions told me again that there is no ferry from (his) ‘Island of Despair’.”
About the answer of Dr Hribar in this interview with Dr Pučnik writes Jure Trampuš in Mladina in January 2002: The departure of the founder – Tine Hribar, left the editorial board of Nova revija after twenty years. Tine Hribar was therefore an active and influential Nova revija member. In last year’s issue, he published the introductory text Unhappy Nation. He talks about Slovenia’s past, post-war massacres, and responsibility for them. Simultaneously with the publication of the text, more precisely even a few days before that, in the issue of Ampak, another Nova revija editor, Jože Pučnik, spoke about the same topic.
In an interview for Ampak, which originated from a former column linked to Nova Revija, Pučnik sharply attacked Hribar’s strikes, which have not yet been published. After the interview was published, Tine Hribar demonstratively resigned from the editorial board of Nova revija and the Ampak publishing council.
In his resignation statement, he wrote that his text was used for polemical purposes, specifically abused by Jože Pučnik and Rudi Šeligo. “Such behaviour is one of the procedures I was subjected to at another time. Of course, not from friends, but from opponents.” At the beginning of 2002, the almost twenty-year-old cultural monthly was left without its father of ideas.
Summary of the most important highlights from the article by Dr Tine Hribar – Unhappy Nation, NR no.: 234/235, year: 2001
The Communist Crime, which consists of both post-war massacres and unburied and concealed dead, was revealed, also in the mid-1970s, by Edvard Kocbek. Smolet’s Antigone in the early 1960s talks about the Polynices, the unburied Dead, that is, the consecrated dead. How is it that barely fifteen years after the Crime, the communist authorities allowed the publication and then the staging of this drama? Because it does not talk about the Crime as such and in its entirety. In addition, in Sophocles’ Antigone, from which Smole derives, Polynices is pre-marked as a national traitor. So, with the label with which the Communists, given the intertwining of the national liberation struggle and the communist revolution, the Home Guard, and the counter-revolution, marked the killed – and unburied – Home Guards.
This could not be deduced from Smolet’s Antigone. Only Kocbek came to light with a clear word. Hence the violent reaction of the ruling Communists and their collaborators, former “companions”, especially Kocbek’s former comrades, that is, those Christian Socialists who partly during the war (when the Dolomite Declaration was signed), partly after it (after the establishment of the communist cowardice, the “dictatorship of the proletariat”) completely subordinated to the communists; accepted the so-called leading role of the Communist Party. Asked when he found out about the “massacre of the Home Guard” and what should be done in view of the “unheard of fate of the Home Guard”, Kocbek answered in an interview from the mid-1970s:
“Above all, we must elevate it from denial to public recognition. We need to raise it from repressed and crippled consciousness to clear and courageous consciousness. The people in charge must explain to us how the liberation victory could have aroused such a disgusting fear of the adversary.” (Gulf of Trieste, March 1975, p. 150). In an interview, for which, according to Boris Pahor, he asked himself questions, Kocbek demanded “public confession of guilt”. However, he did not name the culprits or those responsible. Also in the interview, the massacre, which is otherwise a severe enough mark, is not marked with the worst mark. None of the participants calls the disgusting Act by its last and real name. The word “crime” is missing. Rebula and Pahor talk about the “event” in the article After the Storm, in which they explain the circumstances of the interview and the “state” affair that developed after its publication. About the Event and not the Crime.
There was no direct confession of the post-war massacre, so there was no recognition of this massacre as hell, let alone a “public confession of guilt”. The alleged confrontation between the victims and the accuser still took place in the way that Kocbek experienced a year after the massacre. When he learned of the massacre, he sought an explanation from the leading communists, he said in an interview; he expected an “open and cruel answer”.
In the middle of 1986, in the 45th issue of Nova revija, we published a block on Antigone and the previously carefully hidden Diary of Dušan Pirjevec. His diary entries, made in 1974/1975, focus on Kocbek and his attackers. Pirjevec notes that the civil war was “exactly as Kocbek describes it”, while emphasising the following: Kocbek is not consistent, he does not confess to the end, so he is not completely honest, etc. So Kocbek does not do that. In fact, he did much worse: ‘instead’ of the communists, he ‘raised consciousness’ – this is his formulation – a crime that – as he writes – besieged us like trauma. And not just ‘instead of’ communists. Much more: it is now the way the Communists ‘took upon themselves’ their sin, even though they did not do it. The act was raised to consciousness and the communists did not ‘prevent’ it, and by not preventing it, they ‘cleansed’ themselves. The trauma is over. The Party is sovereign and does not enter into a debate with Kocbek, not even regarding the Liberation Front, and yet this party ordered the legalisation of Kocbek’s interview, which means that it is also in favour of massacring home guards, but once again in people’s minds. The Party itself wanted this to be known once and for all, that there would be an end to allusions and the like.
Restalinization soon proved to be the Indian summer of Slovene communism. At the spiritual level, free thinking and acting according to conscience could not be blocked. This is evident from Pirjevec’s text. Pirjevec already uses the word “crime”, which is not in Kocbek’s “formulation” to which he otherwise refers. The massacre raised in consciousness did not remain only a massacre, from it and beyond it began to grow its criminality. However, the trauma was not over. For communist cleansing was just “cleansing”, rinsing, not catharsis. But it was the end of the taboo. The Party did not have to enter a debate with Kocbek, but a few years later it was forced into such a “dialogue”; first with the author of Guilt and Sin, and then with others.
The paradox or irony of history is that de-tabooing the massacre and allowing a reprint of Kocbek’s interview, as cunning as they wanted to be, were one of the elements that enabled the “honorary” withdrawal of the Communists over the next fifteen years. In this way, they escaped direct political and legal, but not moral and historical responsibilities. The fact that the first generation of criminal communists was not capable of real cleansing means that they have shifted their burden to their children and the children of children. Once the Slovenian nation is saved from trauma, personal trauma will continue to accompany it.
Years of preparations for Slovenia’s independence, the abolition of the communist regime and the introduction of parliamentary democracy began. Even before the free elections, Demos’ parliamentary victory and the election of Milan Kučan as President of the Slovenian Presidency, the Nova revija journalists and theologians agreed on a reconciliation ceremony in Rog, and after the victory, we tried to achieve what we finally succeeded in doing, that in addition to the Catholic Church and Slovene culture, the “Slovene state” also took part in the ceremony. The reconciliation ceremony was three months after the victory of democracy in July 1990. In the meantime, if we look at the new and new initiatives of the last decade, we missed the opportunity we had immediately after the free elections.
At the time, Dr France Bučar was convinced that it would be enough to declare the end of the civil war in his inaugural speech as the Speaker of the Assembly, so he did not accept Spomenka’s proposal Declaration on National Reconciliation (with elements of condemnation of communist totalitarian rule). Although the proclamation, which was an exposure of the hitherto failed civil war, upset the members of the defeated heirs of communism in the democratic elections, this was clearly not enough.
Because then nothing happened. Not even after independence. Although the ministers of the Slovene Christian Democrats in both Peterle’s and Drnovšek’s governments held key ministerial positions in connection with the arrangement of the graves of the slain and the issuance of death certificates, and Demos ordered that the latter initiate appropriate proceedings, for the state prosecutor of the former Home Guard, a leading member of the leadership of the New Slovenian Covenant, they did not – none of them – do what they should in their moral duty and authority. Today, they invoke insurmountable obstacles.
We are now at a point where we are still living with trauma as the unburied dead remain unburied, without names, and at the same time it is the end of both the unbearable taboo and the blocking fear. Fear still exists, it has not completely subsided, but there are more and more people who no longer think about it. They won and spoke up. They point to new and new Crime scenes. They also testify about criminals. Truth is coming to light; it is becoming clearer day by day. And because the Crime is too great, it cannot be said: Sin is said, but not the sinner. Therefore, the names of the executioners will have to be published with the names of the victims. Although only after their deaths.
It was the hardest to get to, so the path to it was also the longest, to the basic real name, that is, to the naming of the Event for Crime. As soon as this name was pronounced, it was clear that sooner or later the names of its bearers, i.e., criminals will have to be said as well. Who are these criminals? Who is to blame for the Crime, for the Slovenian crime of all crimes?
It is the fault of the Slovene Communist Party, which at the end of the war under its auspices, and at the same time under the pressure of Yugoslav and Russian bayonets and tanks, usurped power with the favour of the British. Who were the leading Party executors at the time? The main among the leading Party members was Edvard Kardelj, so he, even though he may have carried out Tito’s or Stalin’s will, is also most to blame for the Crime. His right-hand man was Ivan Maček, the brother of Kardelj’s wife and the head of Ozna (i.e., the head of the “striking fist” of the Party), then the head of the SNOS department of internal affairs or the minister of the Interior of the People’s Republic of Slovenia.
Formally, Boris Kidrič, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, was primarily responsible for the Crime. Such was public opinion at the time. On June 21st, 1946, Kocbek wrote: “I found the Vodniks at home. They communicate the opinion of the street that was relieved in front of Kidrič the bloodthirsty.” (Dnevnik 1946/II p. 39). Two testimonies, Pirjevec’s repeated oral testimony and the written testimony of Josip Vidmar, confirm the above assumption. Pirjevec said that Kidrič landed on the Crime after violent pressure, but then drank and raged until he collapsed drunk after three days. Vidmar recounts how he cried. All this does not absolve Kidrič of guilt, it only directs us to the main criminals: to the party ideologue Kardelj and the party operative Maček, the executor of Kardelj’s decisions and orders. That is why Jože Pučnik is right when he demanded that the judicial investigation of the Crime start at the top, with the main culprits. These culprits were not direct slaughterers, yet they cannot be treated otherwise than as executioners. They were executioners without bleeding from their hands (which may not be true for everyone, as some are said to have been bloodied from blood in Oz prisons from the interrogated and tortured), but they are still more responsible for the Crime than the executors. What has just been said is a historical Event.
Today, therefore, it is no longer possible to repeat the conspiracy form that historians will “judge the objective course of events and evaluate these events”. Strictly speaking regarding individual events and people, it will even be so, but not regarding the Event. When we recognised the Event as a Crime, we have already placed the “objective course of events” under the climate of the Event, i.e., the Crime, despite we do not yet know about all their interrelationships.
Even the quadruple structure of the interwar, occupation period (national liberation resistance, Home Guard collaboration, communist revolution, and White Guard counter-revolution) is not only the truth as a view, but the real truth. What can still be debated, in which we can discover new facts, including the fuller truth about the quadruple structure, is not this structure itself, but the weight of the individual elements in it. Regarding the ratio between the relatively small number of killed Italian and German occupiers on the one hand and the number of deaths from the fratricidal war on the other, historians are very likely to find that there is no balance between these elements.
That the revolutionary element prevailed, seen in reverse, that the national liberation struggle was subordinated to the communist revolution: it was hegemonically summed up and instrumentally abused. It is at this point that another very high threshold will have to be crossed. We will have to accept, so to speak, get used to the fact that a national hero can be a criminal at the same time or that a criminal could also have been a national hero.
What we can theoretically distinguish on a structural level and therefore also separate, we cannot do with an individual in whom the liberation partisan and the Stalinist revolutionary are inextricably linked and united in the same person. The same applies to the connection between counter-revolution and collaboration, which betrayed or handed over to the occupier and then killed and died in concentration camps so many Slovenian people: men and women, as well as children who were torn from their mothers. Overall, the fratricidal war, which is worse than the usual civil war, sucked in both partisanship and home defence.
The horrific post-war Event is now, after more than half a century, finally before us in all its obscurity, hence its presence and obviousness. All attempts to cover it up as such as Crime are doomed. Therefore, we must take Kučan’s already unknown idea of Crime absolutely:
“A crime is a crime, and it must be treated in the same way.” If we relativise this item, we find ourselves in an unsolvable contradiction. However, if we take it as unconditional, we must proceed without delay to determine the situation in all its details. To truth-based recording as correctness, i.e., in the right view. And only on the next, i.e., the third stage can be moved from the level of the right view and the right findings to the level of justice and law.
We are at a key point, at a turning point, so those who are in too much of a hurry, who would like to skip levels, please, please, do not overtake. Do not put Justice before the truth. Do not request lustration, as this will prevent catharsis. Do not first demand, empirically, the late abolition of wrestling pensions; before the Crime is politically and legally – so far only philosophically and morally – marked, before the criminals are recorded at all, let alone distinguished and excluded. Let us also be compassionate; if we are already as unyielding as Oedipus, also to self-blindness, at least let us not inflict deadly wounds on others. Whoever really cares about national reconciliation can wait another year or two after fifty years of waiting and perhaps give up revenge.
National reconciliation, which can only arise from a common view of the past, is, if true, as Dahrendorf tells us, a condition for a happy present for every nation, including the Slovene nation.
Answer by Dr Jože Pučnik to Dr Tine Hribar
Answer by Dr Jože Pučnik to Dr Tine Hribar: “If I return to the initial question; I was happy to read Hribar’s article, and his conclusions told me again that there is no ferry from (his) Island of Despair,” should be understood in the context of the essay Cultural Renewal of Slovenia in the 1999 book Nova revija Sproščena Slovenija, where he emphasised the following: In 1999, Slovenia is a country that did not provide the basic conditions for the preservation of national identity, nor did it provide a structural framework for the normalisation of the situation and the modernisation of society. Slovenia is in a deep value, economic and political crisis. Therefore, I proceed from the thesis that the democratic order of the state and the fundamental life interests of Slovenes are endangered. In the implementation, I will try to explain and substantiate the initial thesis, and in conclusion, there should be some thoughts on what we should do to overcome this crisis and to protect the fundamental interests of the Slovenian nation.
We must also remember the fact that from September 1993 to September 1996, Dr Jože Pučnik headed the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the investigation of post-war massacres, legally dubious trials, and other irregularities. The Commission of Inquiry has issued an Interim Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of Post-War Massacres, Legally Doubtful Trials, and Other Such Irregularities. And this report condemns the extrajudicial mass post-war massacres carried out separately, as published in the Rapporteur of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia of October 17th, 1996, No. 42. The report emphasises the following:
The Communist Party of Slovenia, Edvard Kardelj, Boris Kidrič, was the one that commanded the interwar and post-war crimes. And it was the Slovene OZNA that organised them, and the Slovene KNOJ units committed most of these crimes. Regarding personal legal, political, and moral responsibility for these communist crimes, we found in the commission that it lies with the persons who were at the same time in leading positions of the Communist Party, the Slovene Ozna, and the Slovene KNOJ units.
In Slovenia, the OZNA is the successor to the VOS (Security Intelligence Service). The VOS was founded by the Communist Party in March 1941 and remained an instrument of the Communists from its establishment until its abolition in February 1944, as only members of the party were allowed to work in it. Even the liquidations during the war carried out by the VOS were ordered only by the Communists, although it was considered an LF service. In the short period from February to May 1944, when the OZNA was founded, the same work was performed by the Department of Internal Affairs, headed by the same people (Ivan Maček, Vito Kraigher, Dušan Bravničar, Slavko Zore, Vladimir Diehl, etc.). Rapporteur of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia of October 17th, 1996, No. 42.