“Less than a week before this year’s commemoration at Bleiburg, set for May 12, the event has attracted a lot of attention in the Austrian public and local law enforcement. For the first time in decades, counter-protests have been announced, and the public debate in Austria centres around public displays of fascist symbols.

The event, held every year in May near the town of Bleiburg in southern Austria only a few kilometres from the Slovenian border, commemorates tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians loyal to the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) regime who fled to Austria to surrender to Allied forces in the closing days of World War II in May 1945.

However, the British army turned them over to Yugoslav Partisans, who sent them on death marches towards Yugoslavia, where many of them perished over the next few months.

Although officially sponsored by the Croatian Parliament and supported by prominent members of the Croatian Catholic clergy, the event has caused controversy in Croatia since the early 1990s, and is perceived as a gathering of right-wing and far-right Croatian groups, with some of them openly displaying World War II-era Ustashe insignia and symbols on the site, the Loibacher Feld near the town of Bleiburg.” (N1)