Die Tragödie von Bleiburg und Viktring (Klagenfurt; Verlag Hermagoras, Mohorjeva, 2011)
Review in English by Dr. Malte Olschewski
A summary and review of the book:
Florian Rulitz, The tragedy of Bleiburg and Viktring, Partisan violence in Carinthia in the example of the anticommunist refugees in May 1945.
by Dr. Malte Olschewski
The massacres of Bleiburg –starting of mass killings on Austrian territory and the bones of Croatian and Slovene refugees in Carinthia graves- A book about the murdering orgies of the partisans below the Karawanken mountains.
The pale papers of parish archives, written orders, war diaries, a short letter of an aunt, official records of reburials, with difficulty typewritten reports of a police station, inscriptions on graves, news paper reports from former times and reports from surviving persons and contemporary witnesses also. Military reports from the archives in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia: The historian Florian Rulitz from Carinthia has searched and provided a lot of various sources which he invesgtigated and rated over many years.
After the capitulation on 8th May 1945 the situation in the south part of today’s Federal State Carinthia was like in a hell. At the end of the war a large stream of armed and civilian units from Slovenia and Croatia gave way to Carinthia. In the same time the country was occupied by British units.
Under mysterious circumstances not cleared up today the British delivered the Croatian and Slovene refugees to the Tito units what means most the same as execution and death. About 500 000 military units and civilians were encircled at the Bleiburg field, attacked with fire by the partisans, disarmed by the British and delivered to the Tito units. Mysterious and not cleared by Rulitz also was the agreement of the Croatian commander Herencic for the disarming by a few of British units only. With women and children on the head and the following special units of the “Black Units” the breakthrough to the west would have been possible because a few of tanks and units only were available under the leadership of the colonel Scott stopping them on their way.
The partisan leader Basta was not able to stop the long advance of the Croatians from Zagreb. The Ustasha and home guards were victorious in each battle. But now in view to the alliance with the British during the negotiations at the Bleiburg castle he threatened to attack immediately with his encircling units nevertheless the Croats have been victorious up to this time. What was offered to Herencic in the Bleiburg castle for the disarming of his units? Nobody knows it. The order for disarming was like the hell. Basta started the fire shooting from the woods. The Croats were massacred and some of them committed suicide also. The British watched to the massacre. The massacres started in Austria and were finished on today’s Slovene and Croatian territory. Already in Slovene Koroska there were mass killings.
Similar was happening at the field of Viktring where had fled mostly Slovenes, pro-German home guards, various political colored Serbian and Russian Cetniks as well as civilians and some Croatian Ustasha and Domobrances. The malicious deceit is documented by the British army: “To tell nothing about the destination…! The Slovenes were informed they would be evacuated to Italy by trains. But the destination of the trains was the Secret Service of Tito after crossing the tunnel through the Karawanken-mountains. Today’s Slovenia became a killing place. More then 600 mass graves are known like those near Thesen (Tezno), Huda Jama, Liescha (Lese) or Gottscheer Wald (Kocevski rog). Night for night one could hear the shootings of the executors in the woods. There were supposed about 100 000 victims on Slovene territory only. There were included civilians of Carinthia also -dislocated and killed under the view of the British. Till now there are estimated 130 Austrian civilians altogether. The major part of them is buried in mass graves at Slovene Koroska in the Mießtal.
For the time between 8th May and the day of the withdraw of the Yugoslav partisans Dr. Rulitz investigated in the parish and police sources more then 350 dead anticommunist refugees. But there have been much more killings on the Austrian territory. Sources would report about more then 1000 killed refugees in the Bleiburg area and in south Carinthia. The major part of the corpses were not let in Austria but carried to Yugoslavia and buried in mass graves near the border (Liescha, Poljana, Unterdrauburg and Zancani near Windischgrätz. There are mass graves in the marsh fields at the Bleiburg field also.
In May 1945 the contemporary witness Neubersch has seen personally for himself the killing and burial of 10 persons by the partisans. More then 100 of corpses were transported to Yugoslavia by trucks. About 50 corpses of Croatian Ustashas were carried to the military cemetery of St.Veit/Glan. Several bones were found because of works on the railway facilities in the 1960ies and 1970ies near the border at Grablach but this was not reported. The original wording: “Near the border of state in 1967 I put out fence posts to another place. I uncovered human bones and remains of jaw bones with teeth. The right scene is hot for those things, therefore I was very thoughtfully!” In addition there are a lot of scattered individual graves around the Bleiburg field.
At least 1000 persons of ONA and KNOJ had been involved and some of them are still alive. Boris Kidric and Edvard Kardelj represented political marionettes in Slovenia. Kosta Nadj was commanding officer of the third partisan army and responsible for the killings, Simon Dubajic was a mass killer of refugees in Slovenia and Carinthia. The head of Tito’s Secret Service in Slovenia was Ivan Macek. Responsible for the executions in Carinthia was Mitja Ribicic later on prime minister of whole Yugoslavia. In 1991 he was accused but without further conviction. Milan Basta was commanding and political officer of the 51th Serbian division around the Bleiburg field. Above all his division consists about monarchist Cetniks with new and changed instructions. Later on he wrote some books about the war with many honors. Fermo Flaimisch was identified as executor of Liescha.
Rulitz identifies the responsible persons on the British side: The special representative Harold MacMillan, the chief of staff of the British army Toby Low and Charles Knightley – the commander of the British forces in Carinthia. Rulitz explains the indirect offense of the British by “horse trading”. Tito’s troops would withdraw from Carinthia till 21th May 1945 when there would have been delivered the Croats and Slovenes before. It seems –but not provable- here was another game in the background. Initially the British general commander in Casserta Marshal Alexander was bypassed in this cruel game. MacMillan was flown to Klagenfurt secretly for deciding the delivery with Toby Low. To obtain the appropriate commands Toby Low bypassed not only Alexander but also the co-determining Americans in Casserta. Nicolai Tolstoij stated in his books “The Minister and the Massacre” and “The Klagenfurt Conspiracy” probably a higher causation reaching up to Moscow. Significantly Toby Low left Carinthia immediately to get a member of the House of the Lords as Lord Arlington. After a short time Harold MacMillan was British prime minister.
Florian Rulitz has cleaned up with some legends. The acclaimed encirclement battles for the final victory against the so called “home traitors” at Carinthia and Slovenia in the partisan literature have been battles on the marches of retreating units. The author has investigated along the Karawanken to discover previously unknown or wrong graves. In many cases among the victims there were women and children. Killed or fallen Croatian refugees have been undressed and were buried naked as partisans to improve smaller losses for the myth of the final encirclement battle. In this time a lot of scattered corpses in the whole area were available.
Therefore in many graves but also at the military cemeteries Völkermarkt and St.Veit Glan are not buried those are named on the signs. Therefore the countless refugees killed by partisans were scattered buried on field graves or in cemeteries and offered a welcome instrument for victim-monopolizing. The refugees were abused by the two predominant cultures of remembrance and their political intensions. Many of the killed refugees were simply summarized as German war fallen. The fact of buried refugees below partisan monuments in Carinthia is no isolated case. Often the partisans buried killed and naked refugees as partisans. They wanted to improve the losses for the myth of the encirclement final battle. At the mass grave of partisans at the cemetery of Ferlach and of St. Margareten Rosental are buried refugees below partisan monuments also.
Several murders in the area of Völkermarkt/ Bleiburg run deep in the depths of the Balkans. The mutilations on the corpses indicate Yugoslav partisans who came from the Bosnian-Serbian mountain area. These actions of revenge have been manifested in the collective memory of the people on the Balkans during the centuries of Ottoman rule and left their traces. In my books “Der serbische Mythos” (The Serbian myth) and “Die geheime Geschichte der Kriege in Jugoslawien” (The secret history of the wars in Yugoslavia) I gave a description about several cases of this kind of killings in the time of the Turk wars up to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The corpses in the district of Völkermarkt showed horrible mutilations: the eyes gouged out and the genitals cut off. On the Bleiburg field the body of a soldier was pulled from the skin. Secondly there exists a similar report about a mass grave nearby the city of Bleiburg: dead persons had no more fingernails. They were torn out individually.
This procedure was usually applied in the desperate struggles of the Balkans people against the Turks and was called the “Glove of Janissary”. The Janissaries (Turk military units) put the hands of their prisoners into boiling water and tore off the fingernails then. In the time of approximately 15th May 1945 in the area of Völkermarkt/Bleiburg the 51th Vojvodina division operated under command of Milan Basta and the 17th Bosnian division of the 3. Yugoslavian army also, the crimes are unambiguously caused by Serbian partisans on Croatian victims. The rule of Slovene partisans is excluded completely in this case. These were civilized Central Europeans and preferred shootings and strangulations above all. However in their brutality Croatian partisans were equal strong as it is proved by the murdering attacks of the 11th Dalmatian brigade.
Rulitz reports several times about parish-men complaining about grave-openings and the transfer of “inseparable bones” in South-Carinthia.
Slovenian farmers were complaining after end of the war also. In St.Veit near Laibach the water was poisoned by corpses. The masses of the rotting corpses in the forests let rise gases and noise. And they whispered themselves fearfully: “this is Tito speaking”.
Rulitz could sight also documents showing that the British have used the refugees for a deal called “horse-trading”. In the negotiation-rounds at Klagenfurt on the 15th, 19th and 20th May was decided the delivery of the refugees versus the withdrawal of the Yugoslavian partisans. The repatriations from the British camps north of the Drau were negotiated exactly on those days. Consequently one can say that the anticommunist refugees had to pay with their human lives for the remaining of South Carinthia to Austria also.
About Dr. Malte Olschewski from Carinthia: PhD in history and a specialist of the atrocities of partisans (was first written in 1966 for the dissertation about the partisans in Carinthia called “Die psyhologische Kriegsführung und Propaganda der Titopartisanen in Kärnten und Slowenien” (“The psychological warfare and propaganda of Tito partisans in Carinthia and Slovenia”) and was a former correspondent of the ORF (Austrian Radio and TV).
Veröffentlicht unter: Justitia, resistance, Terrorismus, war · Etiketten: 11th Dalmatian brigade, 17th Bosnian division, Austrian territory, Black Units, Bleiburg, Bleiburg field, Boris Kidric, British, capitulation, Carinthia, colonel Scott, Croatia, Croatian, Croatian Ustasha, Croats, Croats were massacred, Der serbische Mythos, Die Tragödie von Bleiburg, Domobrances, Edvard Kardelj, Fermo Flaimisch, Florian Rulitz, Gottscheer Wald, Harold MacMillan, Herencic, Huda Jama, Ivan Macek, KNOJ, Kocevski rog, Kosta Nadj, Lese, Liescha, Lord Arlington, mass killings, massacres of Bleiburg, Mitja Ribicic, murdering orgies of the partisans, Nicolai Tolstoij, ONA, partisans, pro-German, refugees, Serbian, Slovene, Tezno, The Klagenfurt Conspiracy, The Minister and the Massacre, Thesen, Tito, Viktring, Yugoslav partisans, Zagreb