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Diego Han

Diego Han holds a Master’s degree in history from the ‘Juraj Dobrila’ University in Pula (Croatia). Since August 2015 he has been employed as a researcher at the Centre for Historical Research Rovinj, where he was previously a trainee from 2009 to 2014. Since 2013 he has been a collaborator of the Istrian Historical Society. His academic interests include contemporary history, nationalisms and totalitarianisms, war and peace studies, geopolicy, and human and social rights.

The Relativization of the Fascist NDH in the Contemporary Croatian Nationalism

After almost three decades since the beginning of Yugoslavia’s breakdown, the Croatian state is falling deeply into a new nationalistic narrative. Even though part of the EU, and thus actively participating in various European integration processes, the Croatian political spectre is getting rapidly swollen by nationalistic topics and discourses, while the right-wing government passively observes the gradual radicalization of the population, especially on the right. In a delicate historical context (the migration crisis, Brexit, Trump, Russia etc.), stability and security are, as it often happens, searched in the past and in this case in the legacy of the fascist puppet state called Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (NDH) existed from 1941 to 1945. This development can be particularly seen in the new meaning that many are trying to give to the fascists salute ‘Zadomspremni’ (For home ready), which is falsely claimed to be an ‘old salute used by the Croats for centuries’, and thanks to relativization of the NDH in general, which history is often ignored or dismissed. Furthermore, both the salute and the legacy of the NDH are tightly connected to the myths of the Independence war fought in the early 1990s, when the NDH ideology and symbolism has regathered importance.

Given these preconditions, the goal of this paper is to analyse how the contemporary Croatian nationalism is ‘adjusting’ the state’s history, changing facts and turning them into new truths by the relativization of its fascist past. In order to achieve that goal, an attentive examination of the current political discourse will be made and compared to the historical facts that it is supposedly based on.