Ljubljana, August 21, 2009
A statement by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference on the first Remembrance Day for the Victims of Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes
On April 2, 2009, the European parliament called for “August 23 to be declared an all European Remembrance Day for victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, so that we could with dignity and impartially honour their memories.” For that reason the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference is encouraging the Slovenian public to join in on August 23 for the all European Remembrance Day to also commemorate our own Slovenian victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes: firstly, those that came as a result of the Nazi and Fascist occupation and, secondly, those incurred during the revolution carried out by the Communist Party.
We Slovenians are one of the European nations which experienced Fascist, Nazi, and Communist terror and violence especially cruelly. While, according to public opinion, Nazism and Fascism have both been suitably assessed and rejected, the Communist totalitarian regime still waits for such an unambiguous judgement. The reasons for this vary. One has to do with the fact that Communism remained in power in Slovenia for a long time, and that it concealed its true form. The European Parliament had precisely that in mind when it stated that “no political organ or political party may have the exclusive right to interpret history”, and that “those organs and parties cannot in any way claim that they are being objective.” What’s more, lately there has been an effort by some to “rehabilitate” our Communist past and its key members, a process in which the injustices committed by its key members are being seriously down played and deemphasised. The renaming of a street after Tito in our capital city, and the continued practice of naming streets and squares after key members of the Communist regime, is in complete opposition to the letter and spirit of the above-mentioned European Parliament resolution, not to mention resolution No. 1481 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from January 26, 2006, which speaks of the need for international judgment for criminals of the totalitarian Communist regime. Actions of this kind demonstrate the state of both the spirit and ethical principles of a portion of the community in the Republic of Slovenia, and stand as a mockery to all victims of Communist totalitarianism. We are not merely taking into account the thousands killed during the war and after, but also victims of the political process, Goli Otok, and all other individuals, who, for decades after the revolution, experienced injustices, disdain, and exclusion, merely because their ideas, opinions, and political views were not “in line with the Party”. Any attempt to praise the key members of the regime, which – as is specifically emphasised in the fundamental constitutional document on the autonomy and independence of the Republic of Slovenia – did not function as a state based on rule of law, and in which there were serious human rights infringements, represents a violation of our fundamental democratic constitutional values and principles.
The ultimate goal of these kinds of memorial efforts must be national reconciliation, for a true and lasting reconciliation can only be built on the truth. The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference is therefore once again calling for an impartial determination of the truth, and for actions of truthfulness and reconciliation. The Commission expects that the uncovering and marking of hidden graves will continue with all the determination and consistency that it deserves. Concurrently, the Commission asks all who are present, especially the editorial boards of various papers and web portals, to take measures to prevent so-called hateful speech, which is all to prevalent among us. Hateful speech is an essential component of, and bound to, totalitarian ideologies; it reminds us of them and revives them, while also preventing the process of reconciliation, mutual respect, and friendly coexistence among those of different ideas and faiths. Making this effort for these people is our duty, and with them also lies our future.
Msgr. Dr. Anton Stres
Assistant to the Archbishop of Maribor and
President of the Commission for justice and peace at SBC