AN APPEAL OF CROATIAN INTELLECTUALS FOR THE FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
- For quite some time now the Croatian public has witnessed the attempts of political leaders and parties to turn themselves into supreme interpreters of national and world history, especially that of the twentieth century, and then most especially of the Second World War.
- These attempts are manifest not only by endeavors to manipulate the public, but notably in aspirations to prescribe the historical truth by way of resolutions and declarations made by political institutions and their para-political offshoots, and sometimes in attempts to limit scholarly research and interpretations by decisions of judicial bodies that are relevant for individual, concrete cases.
- Historiography is a scholarly discipline, not an ideological club. Her task is to research and interpret the past, without subjecting it to present-day ideological conceptions and or by having it serve the current political needs.
- The history of the Croatian nation, which developed in the context of European and global political, ideological, cultural, economic, and other controversies, was marked during the past century and a half by powerful conflicts, which contributed to deep divisions in Croatian society. These were not averted in the War of Independence (Homeland War), which marked the victory of the Croatian people’s struggle for independence and in which the sovereign Croatian state was created and defended.
- These divisions were reflected in historiographic controversies and dilemmas that have been ongoing for decades and which from day to day gave rise to new understandings and new interpretations. These understandings and interpretations disregard political and ideological dogmas, because they necessarily derive from the character of historiography as a scholarly discipline. They are the product of new research, newly-discovered documents, and testimonies. Every attempt to restrict them and prescribe them by political declarations, legal arrangements, and judicial decisions is an attack on scholarship, democracy, and freedom.
- Only undemocratic, totalitarian regimes prescribe truth, and only those who know nothing of history, fail to understand that the prescription of truth is one of the main reasons for the destruction of these regimes. It is illusory to think that social controversies, as an integral part of democratic society, can be removed by repression and interdicts. Every interdict or “truth” that is directly or indirectly enacted by the state can only deepen the existing social divisions and seriously endanger the freedom of expression and research.
- For these reasons we call on the Croatian public and all the responsible factors to resist political, legal, and judicial limitations on scholarship, as well as every attempt to prescribe desirable, ideologically orthodox “truths”. We issue a warning that the opposite is to embark on the path without return – the path of censorship and thought control. The democratic order can more easily endure the negative consequences of misuse of totalitarian symbols and the apology of totalitarian regimes, no matter how unreasonable and harmful, then to endanger the freedom of thought and speech, the freedom of expression and research.
LIST OF SIGNATORIES (listed in alphabetical order):
1. dr. sc. Mato Artuković
2. prof. dr. sc. Ivo Banac
3. dr. sc. Nikica Barić
4. doc. dr. sc. Zlatko Begonja
5. dr. sc. Ante Delić
6. izv. prof. dr. sc. Andrea Feldman
7. dr. sc. Mislav Gabelica
8. dr. sc. Vladimir Geiger
9. dr. sc. Zlatko Hasanbegović
10. dr. sc. Mario Jareb
11. dr. sc. Tomislav Jonjić
12. dr. sc. Stipe Kljajić
13. prof. dr. sc. Mijo Korade
14. dr. sc. Jure Krišto
15. dr. sc. Ana Lederer
16. dr. sc. Zlatko Matijević
17. dr. sc. Stjepan Matković
18. dr. sc. Anđelko Mijatović
19. doc. dr. sc. Ana Munk
20. prof. dr. sc. Slobodan Prosperov Novak
21. dr. sc. Amir Obhođaš
22. prof. dr. sc. Ante Uglešić
23. izv. prof. dr. sc. Ivica Vigato
24. izv. prof. dr. sc. Teodora Vigato