Rijeka in
Patriotic Defence War

 

During the year 1991, when the aspiration to a gain political and constitutional independence of the Republic of Croatia from the union of Yugoslav republics was realised, a brutal aggressions of its territory took place.

In the June of 1991, the armed aggression of the Yugoslav National Army began in Slovenia, while a similar scenario also threatened Croatia, where, during the summer, municipalities with the Serb majority proclaimed the separation and the terror over the non-Serb inhabitants began.

Already in the July of 1991, eastern Slavonija was attacked, while single attacks and incidents in other parts of Croatia developed into an open war of Serbia, the Yugoslav National Army and rebel Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Republic of Croatia. Serb leader Milo�evi� and intellectual and military elite of Serbia dreamt of defeating the new state by military operations, in this way wanting to reach the imaginary border Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag, namely, the border of the so-called Great Serbia.

While the greatest part of Croatian eastern borders was already involved in war operations, the situation in Rijeka and its surroundings was seemingly peaceful. However, a nerve-rackingplay was taking place in Rijeka and the entire regional Association of Municipalities in the summer and autumn of 1991. Its main characters were the threatening Yugoslav National Army, cautious politicians who wished to maintain the peace, growing Croatian underground forces hiding within police forces, and the population, for a long time unaware of the actual dangers and the war that was going to follow.

Eventually, Rijeka gave a huge contribution to the defence of Croatia in the Patriotic Defence War. Its industry was active throughout the war, despite the fact that economy suffered from isolation and although many people were engaged on the frontline. Through negotiations, the politicians succeeded in arranging a peaceful separation with the Yugoslav National Army, which withdrew from Rijeka for good in the December of 1991. Much before that, thousands of veterans from this region went to Lika in an organised way, a hundred kilometres away from their home in order to defend it on that line.

This book faithfully presents the situation in the wartime Rijeka and the closest front-line in Lika. It is written in a clear and documented way, in the author and other speakers’ words, most of whom are war commanding officers and the leading people of Rijeka in 1991. In a detailed manner, the book describes the preparation, the growing of, the development and the war operations of the police special forces and the armed units of the corps of the national guard, the territorial defence and the civil defence, subsequently of the Croatian army, war medical corps and general logistics. It also describes the provision of spiritual care and the giving of shelter to a great number of displaced persons and war refugees.

The enemy was stopped at the cost of many lives lost, on the 150-kilometre long front-line in Lika, in 1991 and 1992. The most vital part of the population of Rijeka, Primorje, Gorski kotar and Kvarner islands was engaged in this war. These people changed their civil daily life for the winter in Lika and the bloody and pitiless war.

The imperative was to safeguard Lika, as the enemy breakthrough would have meant to have Croatia split into two parts. In one moment, in the beginning of 1992, there were four brigades in Lika from Rijeka, Primorje and Gorski kotar, with single armed units in other brigades. This book describes their campaign, which finishes in 1995 with Oluja, the liberation operations of the Croatian army and police, when the enemy was entirely defeated and the sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia regained in all of its territory.

Two hundred and thirty members of the Croatian Army from the area of Rijeka and Opatija, Hrvatsko Primorje and the islands, as well as Gorski kotar, laid down their lives in the Patriotic Defence War, which lasted from the summer of 1991 to the end of 1995. More than a thousand of them were wounded, while many remained permanently disabled, nowadays needy of the state and local government care.

The book Rijeka in Patriotic Defence War is the first to praise the local remembrance of the Patriotic Defence War, lived by ten thousands of veterans on the front-line and in logistics, not such a long time ago. The memories are still fresh, while there are many speakers and witnesses. They constitute the mosaic of a story that wishes to be told in a perfectly honest way - a story of those heroic times.