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Croatian Homeland War Museum,   21 July 2014

Tanks, howitzers, anti-aircraft-artillery, armoured transports and a MiG-21 Fishbed are among the exhibits of the war that can be found in the Croatian Homeland War Museum in Karlovac. The collection is set up on the battlefield which saw some of the heaviest fights by the Croatian Army, which defended Karlovac and the main road Karlovac-Plitvička Jezera.

 

Inside the museum you can find a memorial for the 239 soldiers that were killed during the defence of the bridge in Turanj. Around the museum destroyed buildings can be seen built by the army of the Habsburg monarchy and the Yugoslav Army. My personal highlight was of course the MiG-21bis Fishbed that can be found here mounted on a pole. This jet was the latest MiG-21 delivered to the Croatian Air Force during the Homeland War.

 

Besides the MiG-21 on the pole, you can also find a wreck of a MiG-21bis inside the museum. This wreck is a Yugoslav Air Force example with serial 17130. The aircraft originally served with the 117th Air Regiment at Željava Air Base near Bihać.  On

November 9th 1991 it took off from its home base with the task to bomb and rocket the village of Saborsko. Saborsko defenders, members of the Ministry of Interior and National Guard fighters opened fire from anti-aircraft machine guns. The aircraft was hit and crashed on the surface of Slunj Military Training Ground.

 

 

Republic of Croatia during the Homeland War (1991-1995) 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 marked a beginning of a new era in the European history which, for many Eastern European countries, meant the change from an one-party communist regime to a multi-party, democratic system. For the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) this meant the dissolution through a gory armed conflict.

 

In the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, the SFRJ faced a crisis that almost entirely blocked the functioning of the federal state. Croatia and Slovenia asked for a decentralized, confederate state, as opposed to a centralized and unitarian state strongly advocated by Serbia. The traditional, nationalist myth on the unification of all Serbs in one territorial entity, “the Great Serbia” was again brought to life.

 

In April and May 1990, Croatia held its first multi-party elections which resulted in a victory for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), a party led by Dr. Franjo Tuđman that promulgated in its programme the intention of establishing a democratic, independent and sovereign state. Soon after the elections, the Serbs in Croatia initiated a one-sided establishment of their own autonomy in Croatia in line with the plans devised in Belgrade that the independence of Croatia will no be allowed with the national borders Croatia had within the Yugoslav Federation.

 

From 1991 till 1995, Croatia fought a defence and liberation war in which it defended its territory from the Serbian aggression within the internationally recognized borders. War and subsequent devastation engulfed 54% of Croatian territory occupied by 36% of Croatian population. Over 22.000 people died in the Homeland War in Croatia. The war damage was estimated at 37.1 billions of US dollars.

 

 

Chronology:

 

22/23 April & 6/7 May 1990 – Multi-party elections held in Croatia; Croatian Democratic Union led by Dr. Franjo Tuđman won the elections.

30 May 1990 – The first Croatian multi-party parliament was constituted.

17 August 1990 – A referendum on “Serbian autonomy” was held; the rebelled Serbs blocked the roads in the cities of Knin, Benkovac and Obrovac in an incident known as the “Log Revolution”.

21 December 1990 – “Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina” (SAO Krajina) formally established.

31 March 1991 – “Bloody Easter”, units of the Croatian Police regained control over the National Park Plitvice; in the armed conflict with Serbian terrorists a young policeman, Josip Jović, died and became the first Croatian victim of the Homeland War.

2 May 1991 – Serbian terrorists in Borovo Selo near Vukovar killed 12 and wounded 21 Croatian policemen.

19 May 1991 – Croatian citizens voted for the independent and sovereign Republic of Croatia at the referendum.

25 June 1991 – Croatian Parliament adopted the Declaration on the Proclamation of the Sovereign and Independent Republic of Croatia (this day is celebrated as a national holiday – the Statehood Day).

3 July 1991 – Yugoslav National Army (JNA) tanks were deployed to Baranja and Eastern Slavonia thus initiating a joint open attack by the JNA and rebel Serbs on Croatia.

8 October 1991 – Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Croatia (this day is now celebrated as Croatia’s Independence Day).

18 November 1991 – The fall of the city of Vukovar followed by a missive massacre of wounded people from Vakovar’s hospital in the nearby field of Ovčara; thousands were taken prisoners and placed into camps, and the remaining Croatian population was exiled.

19 December 1991 – Republic of Serbian Krajina was proclaimed in the city of Knin consisting of SAO Krajina, SAO Western Slavonia, and Serbian district of Slavonija, Baranja and Western Srijem.

2 January 1992 – In Sarajevo, representatives of the Republic of Croatia and JNA signed the cease-fire agreement thus initiating the deployment of UNPROFOR forces along the cease-fire lines.

13 January 1992 – The Republic of Croatia was recognized by the Vatican.

15 January 1992 – Croatia was recognized by 12 countries of the European Union.

22 May 1992 – The Republic of Croatia became a member of the UN.

22 January 1993 – Croatian Army’s military Operation “Gusar” (Pirate) also known as Maslenica, connected Dalmatia with inland Croatia again.

9 September 1993 – Croatian Army liberated the area called Medački džep (Gospić-Medak pocket area)

1-3 May 1995 – Croatian Army’s military Operation “Flash” resulted in the liberation of Western Salvonia and Posavina.

2-3 May 1995 – Rebelled Serbs shelled Zagreb and other Croatian cities.

4-8 August 1995 – Croatian Army’s military Operation “Storm” resulted in the liberation of occupied Croatian territory in Northern Dalmatia, Lika, Banovina and Kordun.

5 August 1995 – Croatian forces liberated the city of Knin (this day is celebrated as a national holiday – Victory Day, Homeland Thanksgiving Day, and the Day of Croatian Defenders)

12 November 1995 – The signing of the Erdut Agreement between the authorities of the Republic of Croatia and the local Serb authorities of the Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia region on peaceful reintegration of these parts into the constitutional and legal system of the Republic of Croatia.

 

 

Karlovac during the Homeland War

The geostrategic, military and political position of Karlovac determined its role throughout history. The city was first established as a military fortress in 1579, and presented the last line of defence against the Ottoman conquerors. During the Homeland War, the city constituted the front line of defence against the Serbian aggression, and presented the key strategic point in Croatian defence which, if overrun, would make it possible for the aggressor to cut off one part of the Croatian territory. The position of the city at the beginning of the war was additionally made harder because of numerous JNA military barracks and other military object situated in the city and the surrounding area.

 

The attacks on the city began in the summer of 1991 from occupied areas of Banovina and Kordun where members of local troops of Territorial Defence “SAO Krajina” were soon aided by incoming JNA brigades from Serbia. A large number of refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina poured into Karlovac during the war. In August 1994, there were 17.477 refugees and displaced persons in Karlovac County alone. All of them received much needed help, accommodation and food.

 

In the military Operation “Storm” all of the occupied areas of Karlovac County were liberated. On the last day of the operation Turanj and Tušilović were also liberated. In the entire county, the war left behind devastated areas, hundreds of dead and wounded people, cities and villages destroyed, and many of the cultural heritage sites devastated of damaged. A total of 26.347 pieces of anti-armour and antipersonnel landmines were identified in the Karlovac County area and it is presumed that a significant number of mine-fields with unknown number of mines are yet to be identified.

 

 

   

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