I was about to write some more on Igor Bavčar and his fall from grace, but it will have to wait a couple of days, as good old World War II themes are again on the agenda. This time it’s about whether a street in Ljubljana should be named after Josip Broz Tito.
Josip Broz – Tito
In socialist Yugoslavia every republic and region had a town or a city named after Tito. There were Titograd (Montenegro), Titovo Velenje (Slovenia), Titova Korenica (Croatia), Titov Drvar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Titovo Užice (Serbia), Titov Veles (Macedonia), Titova Mitrovica (Kosovo) and Titov Vrbas (Vojvodina). On top of that there were countless streets, roads, squares, circles, boulevards and avenues, but – curiously enough – no airports However, with ascent of democracy most of these topographical items (my use of euphemisms impresses even myself) were renamed in favour of other heroes or geographical features. Thus, in Ljubljana Titova cesta (Tito Street) was split in two and renamed Slovenska cesta and Dunajska cesta – Slovenian Street and Vienna Street respectively. But some survived. While Velenje dropped its adjective. it did retain its very own Tito Street. As did Koper and some other Slovene towns and cities.
However, in the wake of discovery of Huda Jama massacre, Janez Janša’s SDS (echoed by the entire political right wing) called for removal of any and all topographical references to Tito, as well as removal of his statues – although there is only one left on public display (you guessed it: in Velenje).
The call received a cool-to-frigid response, despite the fact that SDS ventured to portray Josip Broz – TIto as a mass murderer and a dictator. Or maybe that was the very reason for a muted response. Because while Tito was definitely responsible for post-war massacres (he was at the top of the military and political command structure) and he definitely was an authoritarian (oscillating between a harsh dictator and a benevolent non-elected leader, depending on circumstances), he also won the war, was instrumental in keeping at least part of Primorska in Slovenia and – last but not least – decentralised Yugoslavia to the point of making republics de-facto independent. Not to mention the usual socialist features of high employment and good social and health care.
In short, in Slovenia Tito is remembered for things both excellent and terrible.
However, in response to SDS’ call for complete removal of reminders of Tito from public spaces, Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković started stirring the pot as he proposed that a new street, next to the future Stožice football stadium is to bear the name of Josip Broz Tito. Naturally, the right wing went apeshit, with Mlada Slovenija (youth organisation of NSi, Janša’s former coalition partner) going as far as saying that “Ljubljana cannot have a street named after Tito” and started collecting signatures against it all over Slovenia (mostly via internet).
Personally, I think the youth at NSi should go stick their heads in the bucket, because I will not have people from other parts of Slovenia telling me how streets in my city will be named. On the other hand, mayor Janković is needlessly stirring up shit, because there really is no need (neither political nor moral) to have a street named after Tito again – if another street had to be stripped of his name in the first place. As for SDS – their call is nothing short of rewriting history, a past time extremely popular with that particular party. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. However – I have a distinct felling that there is a hidden agenda. Namely. if a street is stripped of it’s name, it will have to be renamed. No points for guessing after whom…