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At Pippi’s Festival In Velenje, It Was Not Pippi Longstocking Who Was The Main Star – Instead, It Was Communist Dictator

From Saturday, the 9th of September, to Friday, the 15th of September, the Pippi Festival (Pikin Festival) took place in Velenje. This year, the 34th edition of the festival chose “Time Machine” as its central theme, a kind of journey through time during which children could learn about the characteristics of particular periods in the past, one of which is obviously the time of Yugoslav totalitarianism, as the photos of the event testify. A nostalgic look at a regime that built its supremacy on the liquidation of political opponents was clearly the key part of this festival.

The photographs from the festival were met with harsh responses from the part of Slovenian politics that is founded on democratic values. “Shame, ripe for criminal charges. They honour a mass murderer in front of children, and then hypocritically ask why there is so much violence in schools,” wrote the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Janez Janša.

The organisers of the festival wrote on the event’s website: “History is the best teacher, they say, and we often don’t learn enough from it.” Did the children who were exposed to the Yugonostalgic exhibition understand the emergence of communist Yugoslavia, the political repression that followed, the systematic exclusion of political rivals (most of whom were dead or in exile), the massive system of mutual spying that encouraged us to conspire against our neighbours?

For example, was it explained to young people that more people died under the symbol of the hammer and sickle than under the swastika? According to the book The Black Book of Communism, some 94 million people were liquidated by communist governments. Has it been explained to them how, in the post-war period, in the ‘backyard of our youth and yours’, the Communist regime maintained camps for the politically undesirable, women, children?

Did they explain the truth about Josip Bros – Tito to young people? Children do not need the image of a benevolent autocratic leader, a caretaker of the weak and the disabled, but the truth. Under his leadership and dictatorship, one of the darkest chapters in history took place on our territory, and the 750 murder and burial sites, which still silently, are proof of that and remind us of the horrific legacy of communism throughout Slovenia.

And lastly, has it been made clear to children that Tito’s cities were, in fact, a social engineering project? As the newspaper Delo reports, “They were mostly small or large towns, hardly cities, with a strong ideological or workers’ or industrial spirit. In their name, special cultural festivals and sports competitions were organised by representatives of Tito’s towns, special labour brigades were formed to ‘build the fatherland’, their pioneers held their own meetings…”

Communist relics belong in a museum

At a time when communist memorials are being removed at an accelerated pace in Eastern Europe, they still remain in place in Slovenia. What is more, some are even being “rehabilitated”, as in the case of the Broz memorial at the Brdo pri Kranju protocol building. In civilised societies, memorials that glorify an uncivilised time belong in a museum. There, they serve the function of memory and reminder of periods that should not be repeated. Seeing them is, of course, also of great importance for young people, but with the necessary context, which, so it seems, was lacking at the Pippi Festival.

Ž. K.

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