Sunday, 22 May 2016

Stjepan Filipović (27/1/13 -22/5/42) - " Death to fascism, freedom to the people ! "

(image: of Filipović with his arms in the air, moments before his death)

Today 22 May, 1942 - Stjepan Filipović, a Croatian Partisan during World War II, was hanged by the fascists. He is one of the heroes of anti-fascist struggle in Yugoslavia during World War 2.  He  had joined the workers movement  in 1937, becoming a member of  the Communist Worker’s Revolutionary Movement, and shortly thereafter was arrested for his political activity. He was imprisoned for one year, and upon his release was forced to leave Kragujevac. Soon after the German invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Filipovic returned to Kragujevac and volunteered for active duty in the partisan struggle against the occupiers. He was posted to Valjevo where he was given responsibility for the organizing of arms and the gathering of new supporters to the cause. He rose quickly in the ranks of the partisan resistance and eventually became commander of his own battalion, the Tomnasko-Kolubarski detachment.
On February 24 1942 he was captured by Axis forces and given to the Germans, tortured in Loznica, then in Sabac. Before being taken to solitary confinement, he said "Comrades, hope for nothing. Be brave when they shoot you. Don't show them that our death is their victory."
As his executioners  put a rope around his neck, Filipović defiantly thrust his hands out and denounced the Germans and their Axis allies as murderers, shouting "Death to fascism, freedom to the people!" He urged the Yugoslav people to resist and implored them to never cease resisting.
He was declared a national hero of Yugoslavia in 1949. 
In the city where Filipovic died, which is in present-day Serbia, there was a monumental statue  in his honor replicating that Y-shaped pose — an artistically classic look posed between death and victory.
Since the break up of Yugslavia he has been claimed by all sides - Valjevo monument -it's in Serbia remember -calls him Stevan Filipovic, which is the Serbian variant of his given name. But as Serbia is the heir to Yugoslavia he at least remains there  as a legitimate subject for a public memorial.
But has been targeted by fascist resentment since 1961 when it was  first erected, torn down in 1991, it's plinth sadly since then  desecrated by fascist scrawls .Reconstruction is  currently being planned by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
With nationalism and intolerance creeping back into Croatian life it would be a shame that the memory of this anti-fascist hero was destroyed forever.We should continue to stand against the dark  forces of fascism, forces ever so real that will crop up in time of crisis and turmoil that must always be beaten back before these vile ideas take root.

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