A look into the future shows rough sailing ahead. With all that is happening in Slovenia and beyond, we are looking at anything but stability and growing prosperity in the months and years ahead. Predictions of actions at such a time are risky, but one thing is indisputable: the more of us there are, the stronger we will be. The stronger the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) is, the more successful Slovenia will be in facing the tough challenges ahead.
In one year of its rule, the Golob-Kučan government coalition has staged a series of moves that represent a revival of the ideological conflict and cultural fight. Some of them have been built upon with a large measure of topical revanchism. None of these moves were proposed or initiated by the opposition or civil society. Some of the government’s moves are fundamentally at odds with the constitutional values of the Slovenian state. Slovenia has never been as divided in the last 30 years as it is today. The last year has been a year of lost opportunities, a year of symbolic returning to Yugoslavia and a year of resurrecting the sinister ghosts of a dark past.
The harmful actions of those in power
The Kučan-Golob government coalition has completely failed to address people’s everyday hardships, and it failed even harder in realising its promises of reform. It has even implemented two anti-reforms. It halved the net pay rise for all employees and stopped the implementation of the law on long-term care for the sick and elderly. It has increased the waiting times in the healthcare sector, as 40,000 more people than before are now waiting for a specialist, despite the extra money it allocated for healthcare. The costs of food are among the highest rising in the whole of Europe. It is taking the building of roads, kindergartens, schools, and sports halls out of development programmes, while increasing funding for those who have been making death threats in recent years. The pensioners have also been completely let down, and farmers and entrepreneurs are treated with condescension and, at times, even insulting attitudes. In a year, the Golob-Kučan government has done very little for Slovenia, and more damage than any government to date. To make sure that this is not seen, they have monopolised the national media outlet, Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS). After decades of at least occasional pluralism, the idea of only one worldview being allowed has now returned there. But the increasing obviousness of the disaster that is the current government, due to its incompetence, the narcissism of the key players and the total control of the government by the godfathers from behind the scenes, in its current composition, can only last for a year at most. And with reconstruction and a possible change of leadership, then at most another year.
They will probably trigger early elections themselves. For the same reason as they have done several times before – to prevent an even worse result in a regular election due to the erosion of public support. In the interests of a sane and patriotic Slovenia, elections will be held when a sufficiently large number of voters are able to compare the current and the previous mandate and separate the wheat from the weeds. However, we are not there yet. We are in a delicate, dangerous time in which death threats are made with impunity, or individuals are rewarded for making such threats. We know where this is leading. Turning a blind eye to the truth can bring the danger even closer and increase it. So let us face it and strengthen our ranks.
How is this even possible?
On the 26th of May 1942, a few minutes after eight in the morning, the liquidators Franc Stadler – Pepe and Kamil Kratochwill, on the orders of Edvard Kardelj and Boris Kidrič, murdered Dr Lambert Ehrlich and student Viktor Rojc in cold blood.
“Who are these people who, in the midst of a cruel war and foreign occupation, are capable of murdering their brothers in cold blood?” the late Professor Justin Stanovnik once asked himself. The people who gathered at the funeral of Dr Lambert Ehrlich could not understand, for the most part, how something like this could be possible.
In his later writings, Justin Stanovnik found the answer. Only people of a special calibre are capable of ordering or executing something like this. People who consider themselves to be worth more than others. Bolsheviks. People without shame. People who are able to justify the most heinous criminal acts that defy the human mind in the most sacred terms. Or, as Boris Kidrič taught in various versions, “A communist is a humanist even when he ruthlessly exterminates the class enemy.”
The enforcement of this principle has resulted in the destruction of civilisation in our country, which was built up over the centuries, with ups and downs, and which is based on the 10 Commandments and the instruction “Thou shalt not kill!” This principle has been replaced by a culture of death which is, unfortunately, growing again today.
Today, just like in 1942, most people cannot understand how it is possible that in Slovenia, a country at the heart of the European Union and NATO, monuments to dictatorship and drastic human rights violations are being restored to public places; that a minister of a parliamentary party is bowing to a mass murderer, while another minister is officially celebrating the creation of the criminal Communist Party of Slovenia; that the Museum of Slovenian Independence is being abolished, while at the same time, a monument to the bloody civil war and revolutionary terror is being carefully cleaned; that MPs from the parties of the government coalition, during their speeches, publicly express their sympathy for the one-party communist dictatorship; that five (5) Constitutional Court judges make a decision, and then sometime later the same decision is overturned by four (4) Constitutional Court judges. That the government of an EU Member State abolishes the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communist Violence. This last one, in particular, should be a very alarming signal for everyone. But is it?
The emergence of death threats
Open, public death threats against political competition emerged in Slovenia more than a decade ago. First, they were expressed more timidly, but then the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that they were practically permissible because they were not criminal. A boom followed. The hanging of dolls with images of politicians, the kicking of replicas of our heads in front of the building of Parliament, the burning of dolls with images of ministers of our government, a market full of banners with the word DEATH, mass-produced in public institutions. RTV Slovenia and POP TV and all the other so-called mainstream media cheerfully, without critical distance, sent pictures and calls for death from these political orgies of cycling, where physical violence also broke out on several occasions, day after day, week after week, until the dreadful word DEATH was domesticated again.
In this atmosphere, the Mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Janković, made a speech banning the burial of Roma women and children murdered by the partisans in the Žale cemetery, saying that they were traitors, without those who preach the rule of law every day asking themselves how a baby could be a traitor and whether Janković had any authority to decide on this at all. And where is this written?
Today, the Golob government is retrospectively removing the offence fines for the organisers of these mass calls for DEATH by a special law, even though the penalties were mostly formally imposed for violating health protection measures that were in place throughout the EU. Do we understand the message of this law that can be read between the lines? The SDS-led government had also established two national days of remembrance for the victims of the mass pogroms of the last century: the Holocaust Memorial Day and the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communist Violence. While for almost 80 years, various celebrations and commemorations have been held practically throughout the year at the sites of the crimes of national socialism and fascism, and no one has ever disputed this, the Golob government abolished the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communist Violence on the very eve of its second commemoration. They dare not yet abolish the National Holocaust Remembrance Day, but the outspoken anti-Semites of the Boris Vasev type on RTV Slovenia and elsewhere are becoming more and more vocal, despite the protests from abroad, and the government party of the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD) continues to operate shamelessly in a villa that once belonged to the murdered Jewish family Moskovič.
The barbaric act of abolishing the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communist Violence is unprecedented in history. It sends the message that crimes against humanity in the name of their ideology are permitted, and the victims of such crimes are unworthy of remembrance. That the relatives of some are first-class citizens and the relatives of others are second-class citizens, even when it comes to the fundamental right to a grave, to mourning, and to remembrance. A barbaric act which, combined with the domesticated threat of DEATH, brings back the spirit of civil war to Slovenia.
That this is indeed the case is evidenced by the incredible increase in the number of death threats of all kinds that have proliferated in the public arena and which the writer of these lines receives daily through all possible channels. The people who say or write them are showing up at public events with weapons. The police officer who threatened to liquidate me and sent the threat from his work computer a few years ago was acquitted in court. The former head of the Yugoslavian State Security Administration in Slovenia, Janez Zemljarič, who was buried with military honours by the Golob government, threatened to kill me. The left-wing magazine Mladina even published a play about how to throw people into caves. They are organising events on how to become a partisan in 2023. Individual remnants of the cyclists, who often stop in front of the Parliament, threaten us with death in the presence of the police.
Just as the people who gathered at the funeral of Dr Lambert Ehrlich were mostly unable to comprehend how something like that was possible and had no idea what they were supposed to do after it happened, so today, most well-meaning people in Slovenia refuse to grasp what the re-introduced word DEATH and the parallel creation of a hostile atmosphere actually means. That is why some people are more disgusted with those of us who have pointed this out than with those who are threatening death. In today’s Slovenia, threatening death is not considered hate speech, but warning about death threats is.
They say that it is those who condemned the government’s abolition of Remembrance Day who are calling for civil war, not those who took the barbaric decision. Many of them also argued last February that Ukraine had attacked Russia, not the other way around. Today, it is abundantly clear to everyone that the government’s abolition of the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communist Violence has once again openly returned the sinister spirit of the civil war to Slovenia. No government of any country has ever done anything like this. But the spread of this atmosphere of division did not start yesterday. The latest wave has been continuing since 2008. Week after week, they parade with guns in uniforms with totalitarian symbols, singing songs of blood and vengeance and sending us to Argentina and to the firing range. Without a single reaction from the prosecution or the judiciary. When any thinking individual realises that this has happened before and calls for a defence, they are immediately accused of calling for violence. This, too, has been seen before. Before Kardelj and Kidrič ordered the physical liquidation of the Slovenian elite in the spring of 1942, they banned, under the threat of the death penalty, any armed resistance to the occupier outside the Liberation Movement. Then, in just a few months, their troops and hordes, led by Zdenka Kidrič and Ivan Maček, massacred almost 1,000 Slovenians and Roma people in the wider Ljubljana area, while only a few Italian occupiers fell at that time. At a time when there were no village guards or Home Guards. At a time when people were simply unable to grasp the terrible danger and to resist it in time.
Being aware of the danger
These lessons of history are worth remembering. The current situation creates additional space for the totalitarian concept of the most radical elements of the government coalition and the deep state to infiltrate its trajectories. We must be able to recognise the danger before it is too late. The appeals for appeasement, the search for a non-existent middle way between justice and injustice, between crime and victim and similar illusions are merely the wind in the sails of those who are making threats.
The fact that the actions of the rulers we are witnessing today, when the noble word FREEDOM is once again being used to justify deeply reprehensible, totalitarian practices and to literally restrict freedom of speech, economic initiative, and even the right to mourn, commemorate, and bury the dead (instead of those who rule under that name being concerned with solving people’s problems and prosperity), are once again reviving the ominous spirit of CIVIL WAR, should be clear at least to those who know the history of the twentieth century on our soil. They know that whoever glorifies a crime is capable of repeating it.
For all others, and especially for those who threaten DEATH; who allow or even publicly encourage such threats, the following warning applies. Those who ordered the murder of Dr Ehrlich in 1942, and those who carried it out and justified it, were deeply hidden underground, paradoxically protected also by the Fascists, since the Italian occupier at the time did not allow any organised self-defence, and at the same time it suited the Communists to kill the elite of the nation they wished to subjugate. The murderers erected monuments to themselves only after the war. Those who threaten DEATH today, who applaud such threats or encourage them by implementing the government measures listed above, are mostly publicly known. The digital world holds all these records. So, beware. Should it occur to anyone to order or repeat an act such as that which took the life of Dr Lambert Ehrlich or Ivan Kramberger, this action will not go unanswered. A revolt will break out, and there is no tax haven that is far away enough where those responsible can hide from the hand of justice.
It is time to face reality
That is why today, we democrats and patriots are calling for everyone to face reality. To those who have the goodwill to see the danger and to help expel the threat of DEATH and violence from the Slovenian public space. And to those who have again deliberately and aggressively imported it from the darkest and most tragic times of Slovenian history, to realise that the lady with the scythe is swinging from both sides. In one of my last conversations with Professor Justin Stanovnik, he told me that they had realised too late that people of a particular calibre only understood this language. So, we have used it, and we believe that they have understood it. But we no longer believe that they will listen to what we have to say. They have taken things too far. That is why we are strengthening our ranks.
(This piece, which was originally titled “Let’s Strengthen Our Ranks!” was first published in the SDS party’s bulletin)