Red Dubrovnik

A walk through Yugoslavia’s legacy in Dubrovnik and a visit to the Red History Museum.

With Krešimir Glavinić (Red History Museum). Featuring music by Sticky Keys.

Listen: “Red Dubrovnik” (Episode #87)

Transcript: “Red Dubrovnik” (Episode #87)

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

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PETER KORCHNAK: This is Remembering Yugoslavia, the show exploring the memory of a country that no longer exists. I’m your guide Peter Korchnak.

There are cities I used to love but later I broke up with them, for one reason or another. Places I used to love to visit, even lived in some of them, but now, well, it’s different. Prague. Venice. Budapest.

In the former Yugoslavia, it’s Dubrovnik that falls into that melancholic category of past loves. Or at least until recently. There is now a major reason to return to Dubrovnik—and that’s our show today.

[SOUNDBITE – “Yugoslav Space Program” by Sticky Keys]

PETER KORCHNAK: I happen to visit Dubrovnik in about ten year intervals. Three years after the war, in 1998, I and my then-girlfriend had the Old Town almost all to ourselves. New roofs which had replaced those destroyed in the siege just a few years prior gleamed in the spring sun. At the Pile Gate a shiny metallic map showed the locations of each damaged building. I remember the quietude as our footsteps and church bells echoed through the limestone-paved streets, the laundry billowed between centuries-old buildings across the narrow strips of sky, and cats scurried between hunting trophies.

Ten years later, I found myself in Dubrovnik with my parents and my wife, a jaunt from a summer vacation in Trogir. The tourism industry in Croatia had recovered, reaching a climax before it was to suffer the hit of the Great Recession. The Old Town was abuzz with throngs of tourists, rediscovering the Pearl on the Adriatic, as Lord Byron had called it. There was a line to go up to the walls now and August brutal and I pledged never to return again in the summer.

By my most recent visit, in December 2019, the Game of Thrones series, partly filmed here, had concluded—and tourism exploded. This being deep winter I managed to share Jesuit Stairs, the site of Queen Cersei’s walk of shame, with an empty hand truck and a tool box outside a shuttered restaurant. Outside the sea-facing rampart, Buža bar sat empty, with abandoned tables and chairs at the ready and the white skeleton of a canopy hovering in rust.

This is the irony of coming to the coast in winter: people are scarce between November and April but many hospitality businesses close for that precise reason. But the trade is more than fair. When the crowds and the pressure to put on an appearance for them subside, the place feels more like itself, more real, more tangible, the same way a true face may reveal itself once make up comes off. There’s a sense of relief and lightness during this break between work shifts, and the bura blows free through the emptied streets.

But the signs were unmissable, even though most of the city was shuttered for the off season. New signs hung at the entrances of narrow backstreets of Old Town, directing foot traffic in one-way direction. Countless trinket shops carried GoT souvenirs. Agencies advertised tours of GoT filming locations: the Red Keep AKA Lovrijenac, King’s Landing AKA Bokar Fortress, Gradac Park, Dubrovnik city walls, Lokrum Island AKA City of Qarth. You can still have your photo taken on the actual Iron Throne, a gift to the city from HBO. All kinds of other tours, on land and at sea. More bars and restaurants and cafes and wine shops. More shops period, boutiques or what I call fancy-shmancies. The place was gleaming and empty in more than one way.

Already in 2016 UNESCO warned Dubrovnik’s World Heritage Site status may be at risk unless the number of tourists and cruise ships gets under control. In 2017, 742,000 passengers on 538 cruise ships called at Dubrovnik, most headed to the depopulating Old Town. The number of local residents living in Old Town had fallen five fold compared with 1991 numbers. And it continues to fall as it’s mostly older people who remain. As a local resident told The Telegraph newspaper, “the crowds and the noise are forcing people out.”

I was one of 1.4 million tourists who visited Dubrovnik in 2019, and the city topped the chart for the world’s most overtouristed cities that year. Rick Steves has called Dubrovnik “a very pretty but soulless theme park,” at least from a certain perspective. And in 2023, World Travel Awards declared Dubrovnik as World’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination and Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination.

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Business has been at the heart of Dubrovnik’s existence. Founded in the 7th century, Ragusa, Dubrovnik’s original Latin name, was first a vassal of Byzantium, then Venice, and finally and very briefly Hungary. It became an independent city state in the 14th century and in the ensuing three centuries flourished and expanded into a major commercial center and sea power, rivalling and eventually outlasting Venice. From the Ottomans the Republic of Ragusa retained its independence with tribute payments, and it fended off rivals with the might of its diplomacy, neutrality, naval trade, including in silver and salt, and fortifications.

A devastating earthquake in 1667 precipitated Ragusa’s decline. Then in the 1800s, after five hundred years of independence, Dubrovnik found itself under empire after empire, the once proud republic reduced to being a “periphery of a periphery.” First it was occupied by Napoleonic France, then annexed along with the rest of Dalmatia by Habsburg Austria. In the wake of the First World War, Ragusa, now renamed Dubrovnik, became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, then during the Second World War part of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia.

Hundreds of local civilians perished in the hands of Italian Fascists, German Nazis, Croatian Ustaše, and Serbian Četniks, all of which were present or occupying the city at different times during the Second World War. Hundreds more Partisans died liberating the city and its environs.

In socialist Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik became a center of Adriatic tourism, particularly when the country opened up in the 1960s and then again in 1979 when the Old Town was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage sites list.

The stout medieval walls could not protect the city from the thousands of artillery shells lobbed on it by the Yugoslav People’s Army, an armed force of rump Yugoslavia comprising Serbia and Montenegro, during an 8-month siege in 1991-92. Over 300 military personnel and civilians died, hundreds more were wounded, and two thirds of all buildings suffered damage.

My last visit to Dubrovnik coincided with the anniversary of the siege. The Lazareti Creative Hub was showing the exhibit “Dubrovnik: A Scarred City,” about the destruction and swift restoration of the city in the 1990s. But I headed uphill for a permanent exhibition about the siege.

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In the switchbacks of the Mt. Srdj hiking trail, tombstone-like plaques mark the stations of the cross. A cable car terminates at a view point platform. Mt. Srdj is only about 400 meters tall but Old Town looks much further away down below. On the other side is the hinterland, where gray rocky hills of the Vlaštica massif roll along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A stone memorial cross here was built in 1935 to commemorate 1,900 years from crucifixion. According to the Church, the man who commissioned the cross, interwar Bishop Carević, was at the end of WWII under mysterious circumstances tortured, killed, and buried in an unmarked, uknown grave by the Partisans. The cross was destroyed in 1991 and replaced in 1997. Glass prayer candles in the colors of Croatia’s flag, some knocked over in the wind, and wreaths left over from the commemoration of the Day of Dubrovnik Defenders earlier in the week clustered around a slab prayer table and the rough-hewn plinth.

The 19th century Fort Imperial, which served as a defense outpost, hosts the Museum of the Homeland War. In the cavernous interior a handful of showcases contained artefacts from the conflict, like weaponry, clothes, or telecommunications equipment. Most of the exhibit consisted of panels featuring photographs, maps, and walls of text, in both Croatian and badly translated, typo-laden English. Quote, “That’s why it’s not an exaggeration to claim how Vukovar and Dubrovnik their defenders and citizens, were for the world public the best interpreters of the great just struggle of Croatian people for freedom and independence in the imposed dirty conquering war.”

In similar exhibits around Croatia dedicated to the war of independence, I find the same narrative strategy: flood the zone, as Americans might say, with eye-watering amount of information, saturated with names, dates, maneuvres, figures, and bombastic, dramatic language that, in this case, contrasts the victimhood and heroism of us, Croatians, against “Serbian-Montenegrin aggression” and “Serbian imperialist war.” The goal is to refute any evidence to the contrary, to have a scientific, historical backing for claims, to continue correcting the record, and telling the truth. Quote, “Until today, the scientific and wider public is deprived of the facts of many attempts of enemy blackmails and threats for razing and conquering Dubrovnik.”

I can’t help but think of the long-winded, propaganda jargon-laden texts that are the hallmark of every communist party’s education efforts. Similarly the socialism-era works glorifying the Partisans come to mind: the typical story in epic films and novels entailed a small local band fighting a superior enemy at great odds, making great sacrifices but ultimately prevailing, all under the command of their heroic leader—Tito then, Tudjman now.

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With how much the city lived and reminded itself of the war, it was no surprise traces of Yugoslavia had disappeared.

Indeed, the fictional city from a hit television show was more visible in Dubrovnik than the actual former country. But as elsewhere along the coast and the rest of Croatia, vestiges can be found—if you look for them.

On a plaque dated 1980 on the eastern city wall a five pointed star with waves running across it provides the backdrop for the inscription honoring all freedom-loving local sons who perished at sea.

The Arms Square, called Fighters Square during Yugoslavia, a tiny plaza between the first two arches of the eastern Ploče Gate offered the view of the harbor. Nothing here indicated that, between two cypress trees and a cafe terrace where stone pavers lay today, there once stood the city’s monument to the People’s Liberation War. Fighter on Guard, by Frano Kršinić, was installed on a plinth here in 1954 to commemorate the city’s liberation and its fallen. The bronze statue of a uniformed Partisan standing at attention and looking out at the sea was twice blown up in 1992. Perpetrators were never apprehended. The Fighter’s remains were moved to a local museum, the plinth razed, and the site paved over. Groups of old veterans and antifascists have been calling—in vain—for the monument to be restored and protesting—successfully—against the planned installation of a memorial to Pope John Paul II at this site of remembrance of anti-fascism.

At the opposite city gate, Pile, the Monument to the Defenders of Dubrovnik is gone too. The 2007 work, called Sea Cube, consisted of a glass-covered rectangle showing videos of lightning, war photographs, and names of the dead, to the tune of a local anthem. The multimedia piece malfunctioned so often local wags nicknamed it the Monument to the Fallen Windows, as in Microsoft Windows. By the time of the pandemic, the Sea Cube was deemed to be a hazard to passersby and got dismantled in 2020. On a nearby sea wall a long plaque installed at the same time as the Sea Cube continued to express eternal remembrance and gratitude to the city’s defenders.

Before it was the Red Keep at King’s Landing, Lovrijenac was an 11th century fortress the locals built on a promontory at the city’s western edge in record time before the Venetians could. High up on the wall inside a gate tower, a plaque by local communist youth dated 1965 commemorates all patriots imprisoned here between 1941 and 1945, quote, “whose zeal for freedom would be extinguished neither by the darkness of cells nor the force of fascist conquerors.” The words, in chipping red paint, echo those engraved in Latin just outside, above the main entrance, “It’s not good to sell freedom for all gold,” and the city’s motto dating to the Ragusa Republic era: Libertas (Freedom).

Allegiances and loyalties change as the winds of history blow this way or the other but the localpatriotic pride remains. And continuity, through regime changes and wars.

The multifaith Boninovo cemetery was built in the 19th century on the spot of a private summer manor used predominantly for prostitution. Its main part is Roman Catholic, centered around a chapel and a memorial cross that is the monument to the Homeland War amidst the graves of the city’s defenders. Official commemorations, attended by city officials, take place here around the 5th of August, Day of Victory, Homeland Gratitude, and Croatian Defenders.

In the peripheral parts, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish graves share space, in the northwestern edge, with the Memorial Tomb of People’s Liberation War Fighters. On the main plateau, a bronze statue of mother and child backs against a series of graves and a curved wall bearing a central relief featuring the emblem of the Union of Associations of People’s Liberation War Fighters: inside a five-pointed star, a man and a woman carrying a flag and submachine guns above a stylized laurel branch and the years 1941-1945.

Commemorations take place around the October anniversary of the liberation, in an undeground crypt. Local antifascists lay wreaths at a memorial inscription, which reminds the viewer reading it that the death of the fallen, whose names front tombstones lining the walls, meant something. Another commemoration takes place here around the Day of Antifascist Struggle, in June.

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PETER KORCHNAK: Some have found parallels between Ragusa’s balancing act between the western and eastern parts of the former Roman Empire and socialist Yugoslavia’s non-alignment. Thanks to the little city’s independence amidst big powers and its steadfast Roman Catholicism, in modern day Croatia Dubrovnik is considered, quote, a “quintessentially Croatian town.”

The edge of the bura wind sped me along the harbor to Gruž, a neighborhood that’s host to the ferry port. The cold and dry winter wind comes down the coast from the Velebit range, and while it’s weakest all the way down here, it still can turn galeic and shut down bridges or blow tiles off roofs.

The statue of Pope John Paul II ended up outside the Holy Cross Catholic Church and Monastery. Behind it, up the Holy Cross Street, is Muzej crvene povijesti, Red History Museum.

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KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: Dubrovnik has [a] monoculture of tourism. That’s the only industry that people can basically work in. We wanted to do something that is close, that is similar to what we graduated, and you and also something that we thought it would be important for, like local community.

PETER KORCHNAK: Krešimir Glavinić is a co-founder and co-owner of the Red History Museum, which is dedicated to the socialist history of Croatia.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: The old town of the Dubrovnik which is the most touristic part of the town is overcrowded in summer with tourists so this was a good way to have some, in a sense, touristic spot in other parts of in other parts of town which was not so touristic.

So we thought it was is really interesting and really important for this museum to happen on both sides, for tourists and for locals.

PETER KORCHNAK: Glavinić is a philosophy and archaeology major. The two other co-founders and co-owners are his brother Nino, a journalist, and girlfriend Kristina Mirošević, a product and graphic designer. A team of friends, including a historian, a stage lighting engineer, and an architect, provided further assistance.

Glavinić was born in 1987, and all other team members too were born either at the end of the socialist period or in the 1990s.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: In school, you had two pages, one to two pages about Yugoslavia. That was it. The Second World War, Partisans defeated the Nazis and Nazi regime in Croatia, with President Tito in charge. And 45 years later, Croatian people won their independence. And that was it. That was the whole history of Yugoslavia that that we were taught in schools.

And then what we realized, it was not so long ago, and we still live in the buildings they built. So today you can see real differences between buildings and parts of the cities that were built in Yugoslavia, and parts of the cities that were built in, in modern-day Croatia. So all these things, even though we maybe don’t acknowledge them, they influence, you know, our identity.

Most of the people that you will meet, were born in Yugoslavia. As I said, I was born in Yugoslavia. Still my parents that raised me they were basically the products of this new socialist society and their identity was influenced by this period. So it couldn’t be changed just like that with our shift from socialist country to modern capitalist country.

PETER KORCHNAK: A handful of museums deal with parts of the socialist history: the Jasenovac Memorial Museum is about the WWII-era concentration camp; the Victory Museum in Šibenik is dedicated to the Partisans and that city’s liberation; the Zagreb 80s Museum and its counterpart in Pula are about that particular decade. But the Red History Museum is the only such institution in Croatia entirely dedicated to the country’s Yugoslav period.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: In our society in like public speech or in media, basically the terms communism or Yugoslavia are like Voldemort in Harry Potter, you don’t say it. It’s so deep in us now in these 30 years not to talk about Yugoslavia. And that’s why we think it’s important.

There is no state museum about this part of our history, which we thought it was wrong. And that tells you all how much our society deals with its recent past. So we thought it’s important to have a museum about this so we can preserve the memory, we can explore this part of history, and we can promote some objective discussion about it.

PETER KORCHNAK: The space where the Muzej is located used to be part of TUP (Tvornica ugljenografitnih proizvoda), a factory established in 1953 to manufacture various carbon-graphite machine parts. In the surrounding area, called Tupovo naselje, the TUP neighborhood, apartments were built specifically for the factory workers. During the Homeland War, TUP made mines and explosives.

As the workers-owned company shrank, it began to rent out spaces on its premises, including to the Museum, which opened in 2019. The whole complex was then sold and repurposed into “an urban culture district” called TUP Factory. Aside from the Museum, it houses the first microbrewery in Dubrovnik and a night club.

Indeed, a museum of socialism was the vanguard of gentrification.

TUP was built on land the communists had confiscated from the Catholic Church, which essentially ruled the then traditional peasant society. Back in 2019 Glavinić told me, “For me it was unbelievable socialism even happened here.”

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: Yeah, we are surrounded with religion.

PETER KORCHNAK: Dubrovnik traditionally votes right, for HDZ, Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, Croatian Democratic Community, the party of independent Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman. HDZ is currently in power nationally, thanks to votes from Dubrovnik as well. The current mayor of Dubrovnik is also from HDZ.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: When we came first with the idea, first we talked with our families and our friends, and of course everybody except our mother, because mother always loves their children, but everybody else said that we are crazy and that somebody will kill us. And when we first went into the media there were some some people that threatened us with death, some people, Croatians from for example Germany, saying that they will sue us in European Court for Human Rights, and stuff like that.

The political atmosphere in a sense of the political parties in Dubrovnik was like, it’s a private museum in a private space so they couldn’t do much about it. So they just pretended like nothing is happening.

Although now after five, six years of existence, we have okay relationship with the city and with the local authorities.

PETER KORCHNAK: Glavinić estimates that 95 percent of locals who have visited the museum are, if not supportive, then at least fine with it.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: This silent majority is supporting the work of the museum. People understood that, they are hungry the next day also [and] they need to work for food and everything, so…

PETER KORCHNAK: The same goes for Glavinić’s father. Back when I visited in 2019, Glavinić senior, a HDZ member himself, was not only opposed to the Museum, he hadn’t yet visited it.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: He needed a few years to give it a chance. He came, he’s fine now with the museum. Still, he still thinks that it’s a wrong thing but he somehow accepted it as a fact. As we said, he’s still hungry every morning. So you know, it’s not the end of the world. He’s always trying to talk connect us with some of his Yugoslavia-hating friends for some projects, which is always interesting, because we always accept it but of course, we want to be objective. We don’t think it’s just one sided.

PETER KORCHNAK: The museum managed to survive the bumpy couple of years of the pandemic.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: Last three years, every year we are doubling our numbers of visitors. Last year was the best year so far, we had 24,000 visitors, which puts us in top 20 visited museums in Croatia.

When we talk about our visitors, 90 percent of them are foreign visitors.

Local people, mostly who wanted to visit visited the museum. We have a new gallery where we have free exhibitions. So that’s one of the ways how we try to stay connected with the local community. So they can four or five times a year come and see some some interesting exhibitions.

PETER KORCHNAK: An upcoming exhibition will highlight the Yugoslav-era monuments in Dubrovnik, most of which have been destroyed or removed.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: But in this business part, our main focus is of course, on tourists.

It’s interesting that the country that most of our visitors come [from] is United States. I think that’s like priest in a brothel. It’s like, forbidden, but you know, you want a sneak peek.

PETER KORCHNAK: Priest in a brothel… [LAUGHTER]

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: United States, France, and UK are top three countries that visit the museum.

PETER KORCHNAK: As for the Museum itself, it comprises three sections. The first provides context, explaining what communism and socialism were, and the differences between them.

Here you’ll also learn the history of communism in Croatia, beginning with the founding of the Communist Party in 1919, through the Second World War, until socialist Yugoslavia.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: After this first part, which we call the communism in theory, we come in the second part, which we call communism in practice, because at this point, so the communists are on [sic] power and we can see what they wanted to do, what they wanted to change, how they wanted to change it, what they did, and what were the results.

PETER KORCHNAK: Exhibits are interactive, but where it gets really hands on is—

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: —in the part of the museum which looks like Yugoslav apartment. And in this part we encourage visitors to open all the drawers, cabinets, and in that way, they can find out more, because in the drawers and cabinets there are, of course stuff but they’re also texts, infos about some parts of the history. And that’s, I think, a good way, because basically the visitors can choose how much they want to find out and they can construct their own experience of the museum.

The museum is not big in space, but people are welcome to stay as long as they want. So the longest somebody stayed in [the] museum was a little bit over six hours. At some point, we thought that the person died. We went to check. A lady from New Zealand, but she basically opened everything, read everything, she even sat on the couch in the in the living room in the apartment area of the museum, just to soak the atmosphere of the place. And that’s the best thing for us, we like when people take their time.

PETER KORCHNAK: Then comes the so-called Black Room, about—

So these kinds of things, relationship to the religion, labor camp in Goli Otok, so these kinds of things, were also I think, important to show.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: —all the things that were not talked about or even people didn’t know about it. Because we can’t forget, of course, that still this communist regime was a regime, it was definitely authoritarian. There was only one political party. So you couldn’t have too much difference in the political opinions. You couldn’t be outside of the Communist Party and still be politically active.

We were born at the end of Yugoslavia or in modern Croatia. And we don’t have any memories about it. So we can’t be nostalgic, we even can’t have any bad memories about because, basically we didn’t live in it. So I think it was a good thing. It helped us to make a museum that is objective, as, of course, something can be objective.

PETER KORCHNAK: The final section of the permanent exhibition is Socialism in Memory.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: So what we wanted to do is to collect stories for photos and memories of people that lived in [Yugoslavia], both bad memories and good memories. So we call people to donate to us stories and photos. For some people, this part of their life was terrible, and they will say it was terrible, because we didn’t have this or we didn’t have that. Some people will say that it was the best time of their life, maybe because they lived in the coastal part so they have some money because of the tourism or just because they were young.

Mostly, most of the people think of their student days or their high school days a their best parts of their lives. So history, facts can be read in different ways.

PETER KORCHNAK: At the very end, you can check out the K67 Kiosk, with period newspapers, cigarette packs, and a collection of dinar bills. And you can sit in a red Yugo 45 and, as of just a few weeks ago, also a Zastava 750 Fićo.

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: —yellow one, from 1985 first owner. The owner lived close to Zagreb. Bam, he drove it to Dubrovnik. It took 10 hours through Bosnia. He said [the] police stopped him five times, but just to see the car. [LAUGHTER]

PETER KORCHNAK: Though the museum suffers from some of the same issues as the hilltop one, and in fact as many others across central-eastern Europe, walls of text in unproofed translations, thankfully, here the walls are kept smaller, without overwhelming the visitor with names or data, and the stories more engaging (of course, it’s not war that’s the subject here).

Take the panel about Cockta.

“Upon returning from the United States in 1952, the board chairman of the Yugoslav company Slovenijavino showed a few bottles of Coca Cola at the board meeting and said a similar drink had to be produced in their company. A year later, the engineer Emerik Zelenika presented them with the first carbonated non-alcoholic beverage ever produced in Yugoslavia: Cockta, a drink containing 11 herbal extracts and a specific taste derived from pomegranate. The popularity of Cockta was not shadowed even by the arrival of its US role models (Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola) to the Yugoslav market in the late 1960s.

A student of architecture Sergej Pavlina created the logo and shape of the bottle and came up with the idea for the first poster of a polar bear drinking Cockta. Some management members did not fancy the idea, so the bear was crossed off and had to wait until someone from Coca Cola came to the same idea some 40 years later.”

And finally, there are plenty of tangible, interactive exhibits to offset the magnitude of serious reading materials. Plus other new additions since my visit four years ago: a VR tour of the TUP factory, a museum cafe featuring Yugoslav-era music and beverages, and a small gift shop that includes food products of Yugoslav-era brands including—

KREŠIMIR GLAVINIĆ: —Mikado chocolate, which was actually the first chocolate with rice in the world that was made in Yugoslavia.

PETER KORCHNAK: The socialist-era plaques are gone but the snacks continue to fill hungry ex-Yugoslavs’ bellies. And yours I hope, too. If you go to the Red History Museum in Dubrovnik, which I do recommend in case it isn’t yet clear, at the register mention that you heard about the Museum on this podcast and you’ll receive 20 percent off your ticket.

[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Balkan Blues” by Sticky Keys]

PETER KORCHNAK: Yugoslav socialism does remain a bit of a mystery. The Red History Museum serves both to dispel some preconceived notions about it and affirm the facts. I can’t wait to visit again soon, maybe even this year. I’m seeing it included on Dubrovnik tourism promotional materials. And on TripAdvisor it’s a number one museum in Dubrovnik. So 2024 should be even better for the Museum than last year.

The old socialism era joke said communists knew exactly what the future was going to be, the problem was the past, it kept changing. Croatia, and other countries of the former Yugoslavia, remain “mortgaged to the Yugoslav past,” to paraphrase Tony Judt’s expression. And if its past is to furnish it with meaning and purpose, it has to be not skipped over and silenced but rather taught afresh. When memory and state propaganda interfere with history, you get the mess of the Homeland War Museum. As Dubrovnik’s Red History Museum shows, the baton of history teaching is (or perhaps should be) in the hands of generations without the lived experience of the subject matter. Which points to the potential solution to the history illness, in Croatia and elsewhere. True objectivity cannot be attained, but the distance history requires is within grasp.

[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić]

PETER KORCHNAK: Next on Remembering Yugoslavia:

CHIARA BONFIGLIOLI: The Partisans wouldn’t have made it without the support of women.

PETER KORCHNAK: One hundred thousand women fought in Tito’s Partisan army and two million others helped the effort in other ways. But gender equality, for Yugoslav women remained elusive after the Second World War. In the next episode of Remembering Yugoslavia, roles and achievements of Partisan women in the People’s Liberation and Cold Wars.

Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts, follow to make sure you don’t miss out, and subscribe to support us.

[OUTRO MUSIC – “Jugoslavijo / Od Vardara pa do Triglava” by Horn Orchestra]

PETER KORCHNAK: That’s all for this episode of Remembering Yugoslavia, thank you for listening. Find additional information, links, sources, and the transcript of this episode at Yugoblok.com.

All guests’ opinions are solely their own; unless otherwise noted they do not express, reflect, or represent the views or opinions of any third party, including myself slash Remembering Yugoslavia.

Help make the podcast free and accessible to thousands of listeners. Get exclusive, early access to the extended and bonus episodes. Please support the show at RememberingYugoslavia.com/Donate.

Outro music courtesy of Robert Petrić.

Additional music by StickyKeys AKA Iva Janković. Check them out and inquire about gigs and commissions on Soundcloud.

The track “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić licensed under Creative Commons.

I am Peter Korchňak.

Ćao!

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