Edo Murtic - Interview
Goebbels From Our Neighborhood
do Murtic is a Croatian painter, whose one thousand paintings are
exhibited in all the best galleries around the world. Murtic also possesses an enviable
collection of decorations among which he points out:
Indeed, why then the war?
That is question of all of us, which unfortunately does not have an answer. I documented with my exhibition the state I am in, the absolute unacceptability of crime. A war is a crime. That is something I cann't comprehend; only primitive nations or tribes solve their problems in such a way. A war is the fastest and easiest way to crime.
Many claim today that it was obvious that the war was inevitable, because we lived in an "unnatural community". Could you sense that enormous hatered ?
Never, not even in a dream.
Let us return to the beginning. Why do Croatian media ignore you? What have you done wrong?
I do not know. An official in the ministry of culture, Mrs. Dasa Bradicic, stated in a function, in front of twenty or so of my younger colleagues, that Murtic was favored by the communist authorities. Therefore, she reasoned, it was normal that I was today hampered in my work. That could be the answer to your question. By the way, this person was highly regarded in the previous system as a "politically suitable" comrade and official.
Do you think that it would have been natural for president Tudjman to go and bow to the victims of Jasenovac (largest death camp in Croatia during the WWII), instead of manipulating the numbers of those who died in that camp? This has encouraged those who would rehabilitate Independent State of Croatia (ISC - Nazi-puppet-state of Croatia; it was run by Croatian fascists - Ustashe), and lead to "soft" interviews, like the one with the commander of Jasenovac, which has recently been published.
That only shows the state of spirit and politics which can cost us dearly. When somebody today claims that the number of people murdered in Jasenovac was 25,000 rather than 700,000, that does not diminish the magnitude of the crime. It is not the numbers but the act that matters. I shall tell you how I experienced the first days of ISC. As a young man, I went with my late mother to the countryside to buy potatoes. Our train left Zagreb early in the morning and in the blue expanse of that morning I suddenly noticed a patch, similar to the tennis court, which was absolutely white. And then I saw an arm protruding from that whiteness, and than a head, hair ... It was a scene of slaughter. Ustashe killed the Serbs from the village of Gutovac, threw them in a pit and poured over quicklime. Therefore whiteness. It was the first shock I experienced in independent state and since, you know, the fear from that state has always been present. I am terrified by what might happen. Fortunately, we are today under the magnifying glass, but I tell you, if we were not, that horror could happen again today.
How do you see the Croatian culture today, and do you think that the so called patriotic art is the only one currently in favor?
It is hard to call that art, since it is above all an elementary primitivism and affected naivete. Danilo Kis said: when folk art, not in a traditional value sense, turns into a myth, that is when the fascism appears. What is created today in Croatia is valued not according to its quality, but according to the amount of nationalistic ardor it contains, regardless of how primitive it may be.
How do you react to incessant attacks on the most illustrious Croatian Cultural Institutions and their leading members?
Take Franco's Spain as an example; Picasso refused to return to Spain as long as fascists were in power; however, Franco copiously used Picasso in all exhibitions of the Spanish art throughout the world. Therefore, in spite of Picasso being a staunch opponent of Franco's regime, Fanco never tried to deny him a place in the ouvre of the Spanish art. Every normal country is proud of its artists and scientists (everything else will pass anyway). You may not agree with Vlado Gotovac's political views, but you cannot question the artistic value of his work.
Our Shepards and Their Sons
"Reevaluation of history" is currently fashionable, Mile Budak is glorified while Krleza is questioned; so much that the minister for culture declares that Krleza should be excluded from school texts. Do you have a comment?
My generation grew up with Krleza's values. We wanted social justice, artistic freedom and freedom in general; those were Krleza's messages. He is a giant and irreplaceable in our culture. That is why it is simply idiotic for the minister for culture to argue for the reevaluation of Krleza's works. I do not understand how the President can appoint these people, especially since he considers himself to be a scholar on Krleza?
Today's regime promotes Vinko Nikolic, a fascist - he was writing odes to the Poglavnik (Croatian Fuhrer, ie. leader), and today is supposed to be our idol. This man maintains that we were in darkness from 1945 till 1990, and that nothing significant occurred in Croatian culture. These are foolish statements! Difference between writing of Krleza and Mile Budak is so large that it is pointless to even discuss it. The fact that Mile Budak, who was our Goebbels is today turned into a saint is a dangerous stupidity of the political leadership. Croatia cannot be built in that tradition. It is sad that we discuss and talk about that at all.
How did you react to the change of the Victims of Fascism Square's name?
I think that was one of president Tudjman's greatest mistakes. Croatia had to build its future on a basis of participation in the antifascist coalition. The stripping of the Victims of Fascism Square's name is a disgrace.
How did you perceive Tito as a dictator only?
People who claim that Tito was only a dictator do not want to admit that at the end of WWII we had maybe 20km (12m) of asphalt around Zagreb; we had nothing and built everything during the last 20-30 years. I remember a statement by Mate Granic (Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs) about how his father, a shepard put seven of his sons through school. I ask you, in which other country could a shepard afford to educate 7 of his children?
Do you believe in a renewed communication of people from the ex-Yugoslav space?
In spite of everything, sooner or later we shall have to correspond again. People will have to find each other, regardless of whether we love each other or not. We cannot put Croatia in a helicopter and drop it somewhere in the southern seas like an island. We will have to take into account spiritual, linguistic and cultural links.
What could and how wake-up the Croatian public?
It is hard to talk about the Croatian public, so I shall again relate some of my experiences: I was fourteen when King Alexander (king of Yugoslavia - a Serb. Assassinated by the Croatian fascists in France) was murdered. The inhabitants of Zagreb came out in their thousands to meet the train which took the King's coffin to Belgrade, from the Sava bridge to Dubrave. They kneeled next to the railroad tracks and cried ... The Germans fascists came and we greeted them with flowers ... The partisans came. Zagreb was on her feet, elated ... Tito died. The whole Zagreb cried, hundreds of thousands were singing "for every good word".
These are the facts. That is a picture of us - Croatians
(text changed without permission of author)