Old women haunt Croatia

Večernji list, May 9, 1993, p. 6

Branimir Donat

If I am not mistaken, the novel “Grička vještica” (The Witch of Grič) appeared in Croatian literature at the beginning of the First World War. Even though it had every characteristic of a low form feuilleton – this had no influence on the allegedly good taste to win the author’s fantasy and stop the fabrication of obstacles to love among the novel’s characters, particularly thanks to the unjustified slander that the beautiful and too good countess Nera was – a witch.  In the 1960s, Vladimir Bayer, a professor at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb, published a study entitled “Contract with the Devil” on witches and 17th century trials. These folk superstitions had been forgotten and evidence of their existence has appeared only over the past couple of years. During those war years, a few ladies appeared who, without any exaggeration or romantic embellishment, were named witches – due to the spells they had cast on Croatia. The pages of high-circulation and, truth be told, mostly respectable liberal newspapers in the USA and Germany became their meeting-places. Informed people claim that there are five witches, and one of them recently wrote an article entitled “Confession of a Croatian Witch” in “The Women’s Review of Books” which was later published in the Nedjeljna Dalmacija newspaper. 

Anile activities of five ladies 

In a significant socio-cultural study by Margaret A. Murray entitled “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe”, one can find interesting data about women who signed “contracts with the devil”. The authors tried to prove that those women were “victims of prejudices of interpreters of certain historic periods”. All this forces me to interpret the activities of these five women, unfairly denounced consciences of truth, freedoms and rights of women to their own destinies, as a historic delusion of those who, including myself, fiercely attack their work and claim that they are disloyal to Croatia. Nevertheless, if it makes them happy, they should carry on with their slander, gossip and denouncing. I do not consider this feminist but rather anile activities. However, the following example will show how their half-truths or little sweet aestheticized lies are being recycled in political beliefs and “objective” information in the world.
The article “Between national identity and solidarity” by Claudia Fregiehn was published in the Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung on April 30th. I will state what the author has written as a result of an echo of some of the thoughts of the mentioned ‘old women’ from Croatia and how she proves what were the effects of the “historic prejudices” on which witch hunts were based in the past and in Croatia at the moment. 

Watering of lies 

The author writes this about rapes: “…the basis for a permanent deprivation of women’s rights was simultaneously, and especially in Croatia, established with the help of an extreme biological family policy”. When translated into the language of reality, this would mean that: “in Croatia one can live rather well with the third child allowance, paid maternal leaves last for several years, society has been throwing gifts around to create as many new Croats – future nationalists as possible”.
The lady from Berlin further writes that: “...many Croatian women have been so closely tied with their husbands and nation through common sufferings (of the war – note by author) that they have accepted the imminent reproduction policy, where they are considered as natural raw material for the maintenance of the nation and not as social subjects, as a price.” The author even claims that only feminists from Belgrade rejected that.
And the best comes at the end: “...veterans who come back home from the front-lines rape their wives.” The meaning of the text is found in the claim that: “The distribution of the spent money based on the ‘watering-can’ principle fulfils its own purpose, which states that ‘We help everyone equally because we are all women’, is at best only formal” and then the conclusion follows: “The real responsibility for this, that ‘everyone is equally’ supported is for money to be sent to Zagreb, where it partially serves to achieve nationalist aims and interests! This form of power allows the women from West the luxury to keep out of important political issues.”
I believe you have survived!