Tuesday, October 26, 2004

60 Years of… Something Better Than Before

On the night of October 26th 1944 units of 20th and 26th Division of Peoples' Liberation Army of Yugoslavia have entered Split.

This wasn't the end of World War II in this town – German explosive boats penetrated Split harbour in an unsuccessful attempt to sink British cruiser in Split harbour on February 12th 1945 – but it was nevertheless one of the most important events in this town's history – it marked the end of one era and start of another.

For the next 46 years this event was celebrated as "liberation". From 1990 onwards that event was officially ignored or described as "occupation" and "tragedy" by those who took arrival of democracy as an excellent opportunity to settle some score with those who were on the winning side of WW2.

However, with proper historical context, word "liberation" might not be the best way to describe what October 26th 1944 meant for Split, but it is much more appropriate than "occupation". Many of the liberators were home boys – Dalmatian Croats, who had filled the ranks of Tito's Partisan army with enthusiasm unmatched by any other ethnic and regional group of former Yugoslavia. Few months later city of Split would become provisional capital of Federal State of Croatia, the entity that would ultimately become today's Republic of Croatia. Finally, on October 26th 1944 Split was taken from the forces that wanted, if their ideology and practice was to be believed, to transform most of its citizens into sub-human slaves and have Split – the second largest city of Croatia – as part of another country.

This year, for the first time since Croatia became independent, City of Split has sent its officials to mark 60th anniversary of that event on the ceremony held in local theatre.

Perhaps this is one of the signs that World War II is finally coming to an end in Croatia.


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