The second week of the International Summer Camp „Venues of victims // Venues of Perpetrators“offered numerous interesting insights in contemporary history and culture of remembrance in the south-western regions of Croatia. The stay in Pula was predominantly shaped by dealing with the periode of socialistYugoslavia (1945-1991) and the Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990´s. The participants visited the island of Brijuni, the former summer residence of the long-time president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito and several sites in the town of Pula related to the period of yugoslav-state-socialism. The visit of the „SENSE Agency / SENSE Center for Transitional Justice“ gave again an opportunity to the participants to deal with the issue of secession wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s and it´s still ongoing juridical processing.
The last days of the project took place in Rijeka and surrounding area. After a half-day long visit to Opatija and Croatian Museum of Tourism, the participants of the Summer Camp discovered the complex and interesting history of Rijeka, the biggest port and third biggest city in Croatia. The excursion to Island Goli (Goli otok) provided the shocking insight into the venue of repression and non-democratic government on the Eastern shore of the Adriatic sea during the period of Yugoslav state-socialism. The remains of the former (political) prison provided a space for a fruitful discussion among participants, facilitators and attending experts about the status of socialist period in the culture of remembrance of different post-socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
The final day of the International Summer Camp took place in the village Lipa near Rijeka. The village was destroyed by the Nazi troops and it allies in a single day in spring 1944. During the operation, a majority of the villagers have been executed, disregarding their age. The guided tour through the village and local museum offered the information about the truculent act of violence.
In the following discussion, the question of appropriate dealing with Lipa and other venues of state-runed political violence was of essential importance. The case of the massacre in Lipa 1944 was juxtaposed with other visited venues during the two weeks of International Summer Camp. The participants from 12 countries commonly agreed about the importance of dealing with the past and visiting of venues of ideological and political violence for the strengthening of civic education and contemporary democratic culture. Moreover, many of them expressed their satisfaction with a project that provided numerous interesting insights into the contemporary history and culture of remembrance in Croatia and beyond. As many of them pointed out, dealing with the history and remembrance on the Croatian case helped them to improve the understanding of history and remembrance in general.
After two intensive weeks of the International Summer Camp in Croatia, the participants will be surely able to rethink the history and culture of remembrance in their home countries from a different perspective. The gained ideas should help them to comprehend the complexity of both issues widely than before and to better understand the importance of dealing with the past for the streghtening of civic education and promotion of pluralistic democratic culture in general.
Photos: Theresa Rhode, Markus Rebitschek, Alexandro Yaramis