After we reported two months ago that the Minister of Culture, Asta Vrečko from the Left party (Levica), after the closure of the Museum of Slovenian Independence, expressed her wish to see the statues of Tito and others returned to the Brdo Park, the Golob government has now also taken the position that Marshal Tito, even though he symbolises the former totalitarian regime, should be returned to Brdo. “Will religious zeal replace the rule of law?” wondered historian Dr Jože Dežman, suggesting that the Prime Minister should delete claims that have no basis in reality from official government documents. Only then should responsible and fact-based action be taken, rather than action based on fabrications and false accusations.
At the beginning of March, the Minister of Culture, Asta Vrečko, organised an expert consultation on the Brdo pri Kranju statue collection at the Ministry of Culture, because, apparently, the Ministry was bothered by the fact that part of the Brdo statue collection had been transferred to a museum in Pivka. “These are post-war works by top artists. We at the Ministry of Culture consider the transfer of the statues to be inappropriate,” the Minister pointed out. Vrečko insisted that the reason for the transportation was not restoration, but a transfer that was not carried out according to the established procedure, although at the time, the Public Economic Institute for Protocol Services of the Republic of Slovenia – Brdo (Javni gospodarski zavod Protokolarne storitve Republike Slovenije) explained that the Tito statue and the others had been removed with the intention of restoring them, as they had not been properly protected and researched since they were cast. It was announced that a conceptual project was being prepared for the proper presentation of the statues.
The government as a whole is on the same side as the Minister for Culture
Since it is, of course, not normal that in a democratic country, the statue of a mass murderer and dictator should be returned to a public place, the position of the Minister of Culture has caused quite a stir. This is also why MP Anja Bah Žibert, a member of the opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), decided to ask the government what its position was on the return of the statues to the Brdo pri Kranju estate. As expected, given that we can see that it has been acting in a highly ideological manner since it took office, the government also endorsed the position of the Minister for Culture. The government’s position is that the return of the works of art to the Brdo estate is justified. The return of the sculptures is therefore proposed after the completion of an expert examination of the condition of the works of art and after the conservation and restoration work has been carried out. “This should be followed by an expert decision on the appropriate placement on the basis of the park management project, which will also take into account the management strategy of the Brdo pri Kranju protocol estate,” the government’s reply states, adding: “As an important part of the collection of statues from the Brdo pri Kranju estate, the monument to Marshal Tito, in our opinion, also belongs to the park management of the protocol estate and it does not make sense to arbitrarily isolate it from the rest of the statues.”
As can be seen from the government’s reply, at the moment, on the basis of an expert meeting at the Ministry of Culture, “intensive coordination is taking place between the Museum of Contemporary History, the Brdo Public Economic Institute and the Restoration Centre of the Slovenian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, which is aimed at the restoration and conservation treatment of the damaged statues and their return to the Brdo estate, in accordance with the project for the redevelopment of the Brdo estate, in the coming months.”
It should be pointed out that, according to the media outlet N1, art historian Gojko Zupan explained at the consultation that there are different interpretations of the sculptures. According to the information at his disposal, the sculptures of Brdo Castle were mainly placed outdoors, some of them in the building, but, he says, “they were not created as public monuments, but as decorations for museum halls, protocol villas and gardens or public spaces.” After World War II, some wanted the collection of sculptures from the war and post-war period to find a place at the Ljubljana Castle, but this did not end up happening. The sculptures were sent to various parts of Slovenia, including Villa Bled.
Historian Dežman responded by pointing out the untrue claims
Dr Jože Dežman responded to the position of the government for the web portal Spletni časopis, pointing out in the very beginning of his letter to the Prime Minister that he had read with interest about the intention to return the sculptures, which are currently placed in the open-air depot of the National Museum Depositories in Pivka, to Brdo. “Is this confession of faith the result of the confession you had with the high priest of Titoism/Kučanism? After the confession, where you were supposedly given the revelation about the meaning of the Independence Monument, you said, “I also support all other initiatives in the direction of overcoming any divisions and bringing together the positions of the different sides.” Among your confessional penances, were you also asked to implement Milan Kučan‘s initiative, which he revealed to you at the partisan Pokljuka on the 9th of July 2022, when he instructed the government of the Republic of Slovenia: “I am sure that from this meeting of ours, we can signal our support for the demand that the statues be returned to Brdo. The current government is unlikely to have any problems with this”. Indeed, God’s mills are grinding …”
Dežman suggested to Golob that he should reveal his religious fervour in such a way that he would still keep his common sense when governing and that the decisions of the government of the Republic of Slovenia would have a basis in reality. As Dežman pointed out, the government’s statement, as well as the statements made so far by the Ministry headed by Minister Vrečko, are full of claims based on religious zeal rather than proven facts. “What regulations were allegedly violated in the setting up of the outdoor depot in Pivka? Have the competent authorities established any such thing or are the Ministry of Culture and the government of the Republic of Slovenia behaving like a revolutionary firing squad?” asked Dežman, adding that we have cultural protection conditions, and these require the investor to obtain a restoration and conservation programme. “This programme is ready and has been presented publicly. The funds for the implementation of this programme are provided by the Ministry of Culture,” he pointed out.
According to Dežman, the claim that the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia “virtually appropriated the remaining statues when they were transferred” is false. “The fact is that the statues were transferred to Pivka by means of the relevant contracts between the Brdo estate and the Museum of Contemporary History.” The allegation that the statues were endangered when they were transported to Pivka, he said, also has no basis in fact. “First of all, the installation of the open-air depot was part of the Museum of Contemporary History’s programme for 2022. That everything was in order with the programme was confirmed by the Ministry of Culture already under Minister Asta Vrečko, which approved the programme and the funds for the installation. The Council of the new museum also approved the report on the work of the Museum of Contemporary History in 2022,” he explained.
The government’s decision is creating a state of emergency and fuels the cultural fight
According to Dežman, it is extremely strange that a decision of the government of the Republic of Slovenia “creates a state of emergency and fuels the cultural fight.” He wondered whether there really is no one in the Ministry of Culture who is capable of acting within the scope of their competencies and legal powers. “Will religious zeal replace the rule of law?” he asked, suggesting to the Prime Minister that claims that have no basis, in reality, should be removed from government documents. Only then, he said, should action be taken that is accountable and based on facts, rather than on fabrications and false accusations.
Last year, the installation in Pivka was seen by over 40,000 visitors, which, according to Dežman, was much more than the number of people who saw the statues in Villa Bled, Brdo and Poljče. “They were very satisfied with the installation. If the statues, which were neglected, carelessly placed both at Brdo and Poljče and inventoried as consumables at Brdo and not inventoried at all at Poljče, had not been professionally handled, taken over by a cultural institution and properly exhibited, they would have met their miserable end at Brdo and Poljče. Last but not least, the monument to the Revolution in Ljubljana is just as neglected! The Revolution, Kidrič and Kardelj could also be professionally treated and properly exhibited in the open-air depot in Pivka,” he concluded.
And while you cannot find a single statue of Mussolini in Italy, things are very different here, even though we are a member of the European Union, just like Italy. On the one hand, this is not surprising, given that we are not even able to condemn all three totalitarian regimes, thanks to the influence of the left. Indeed, those who worship Communism to this day deliberately forget that even the Constitutional Court ruled a few years ago that Josip Broz Tito symbolises the former totalitarian regime to the greatest extent. “The name Tito symbolises not only the liberation of the territory of the present-day State of Slovenia from fascist occupation in the Second World War, but also the post-war totalitarian communist regime, which was marked by widespread and flagrant violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the Constitutional Court judges stated.