At that time Yugoslavia snapped four of the most wanted German RAF-terrorists. And what did Tito? He said that he will only deliver them when he gets several exiled Croats from Germany in return. Interesting to know that in that moment the German justice system refused such an option on juridical grounds. Germany refused the request from Belgrade and Tito has let the German left wingers run. This was no doubt a shock for Bonn, the government was totally embarrassed. This episode showed that you get yourself in trouble if you get involved with totalitarian Regimes.
“In any case, the documentary “Tito’s Murder Squads’ example is scrupulous journalistic work in which cover all important elements of the story on its clearing now work more Germans than what is happening in Croatia“, concluded in his review of the film recently shown on German television Das Erste, Gordan Duhaček, a prominent Croatian journalist who specializes in foreign policy. I was talking with the creators of the film Frank Hofmann and Philipp Grüll. before shooting, during the shooting and after the television premiere. Here I transferring our last conversation.
- What is your idea with whom you’re going to make a movie?
We have started in early 2013 in order to deal with the issue. Initially, we mainly dealt with the Djureković-case. But we were clear relatively quickly: This is part of an even larger, shocking story that has happened in German society. And we were both amazed that so little was known on this subject and no documentary film has been produced about this topic so far. So we decided to close this gap with a 45-minute documentary which should give the audience an idea of the whole issue.
- Has this idea realized?
We hope so. Even though we know that even in a 45-minute-documentary we can show only a small part of what really has happened.
- What kind of problems did you have while recording?
It was not easy for us to approach these issues. There were several reasons: First of all that the there wasn’t a debate about these murder cases in Germany. It is also a topic where the information does not just lie in the street. We needed a lot of time to get us to open up access to information, to figure out how to approach former secret service employees and to build trust with contact persons. We had to ask for access to German archives and had to wait a long time for replies. In many cases our applications were refused. It was a lot of research in several countries with documents in multiple languages. All that was quite a challenge for us.
- Can you point out some of the interviewees in the film and why?
We were particularly impressed by Robert Zagajski, the son of the murdered Djuro Zagajski, and how he deals with the past. You never get the impression that he is embittered or that he wants revenge. He did not think in extremes like friend or foe like many others. He just wants to know what really has happened with his father when he was only 17 years old.
One of the most disturbing interviews was that one with Milan Dorić who spied exile Croats under the code name Hanzi in Germany. He said hello and immediately told us: No one was murdered for no reason. He said that while Robert Zagajski, the son of a victim, stood next to him. During the whole conversation one got the impression: Dorić knows so much more than he wants to say. And it was obvious: His connections to the German authorities are still fine. He even had German police investigation files at home.
- How you from the German experience watching on the “Croatian Dealing with the Past” (absence public discussion about the events during socialism and Tito’s era, the behavior of executive power that the extradition Perković and Mustač does not come..) ?
It’s always difficult for a country to face the dark chapters of its past and we as Germans should certainly not give lessons here. But for Croatia EU membership was maybe a great opportunity to deal also with this past. Having in mind other EU member states that are going through such a process. Poland for example or even Germany with the communist past of the former GDR. Experiences like the one of the Berlin headquartered Stasi documentation authority that is connected with other similar authorities all over central and eastern Europe might be helpful for Croatia as well under the European Union umbrella. In that sense, maybe the European Union can even have a similar impact on Croatia like Western Germany on Eastern Germany. For all the people who still do not know who killed their relatives it would be very important, that Croatia and other former Yugoslav countries starts this process.
- You have touched the fact that the German government knew that the Yugoslav secret police engaged in state terrorism on German soil. Is there any more to tell on the subject of what you are able to in the film?
What we have not really discussed in the film: Tito was not only important because he was a leader figure of the non-aligned countries. For a moment, he was also thought to be a key figure for the German government in the fight against left-wing terrorism. In the 70’s Germany was under shock of the crimes of the german terror group RAF. And Yugoslavia was always seen as a possible refuge for the RAF terrorists. This is also a reason why Germany wanted good relations with Tito and the Yugoslav security forces. But in 1978 it became clear that the German strategy is not really paying off. At that time Yugoslavia snapped four of the most wanted German RAF-terrorists. And what did Tito? He said that he will only deliver them when he gets several exiled Croats from Germany in return. Interesting to know that in that moment the German justice system refused such an option on juridical grounds. Germany refused the request from Belgrade and Tito has let the German left wingers run. This was no doubt a shock for Bonn, the government was totally embarrassed. This episode showed that you get yourself in trouble if you get involved with totalitarian Regimes.
- How will the German media to accompany nearly trial Perković and Mustač?
More than 130 journalists have been accredited for the process and a majority of them works for German media. It will not be the number-one-issue in Germany, but the interest is unusually high for such a topic. And it is growing, because many journalists are getting aware that it might become an exceptional court case to follow. The former intelligence chief of another country will stand trial in Germany. That’s new.
- What messages will have a trial for the German public, and what for Croatian?
The court case could help in the best case to ensure that the German public gets aware of these murder cases, this state terror after all these years. For most of the people in Germany it is still completely unknown that the Yugoslav secret service has committed murders in the former Federal Republic. Many people are still thinking: Yugoslavia was a very nice country and Tito was not so bad. That he and his successors are responsible for probably the longest unsolved murders in postwar German history are responsible would probably shift the image of former Yugoslavia and Tito. The message to the Croatian public will be that murder is not barred in Germany and that – even if it took a while – German authorities are willing to investigate these crimes and to put the responsible people to jail. It could be that the Deliveries of Mustač and Perković were not the last ones.