The year 1945 was in many of its political and social aspects a watershed in Croatian history.
It is still debated, variously interpreted and evaluated, not only in Croatia, but also far beyond. This is because it is still impossible to consider from an objective distance the intense political events and ruptures that let loose an avalanche of tensions between society and the individual.
Besides the well-known and verified historical facts, the undeniably most important events of 1945 are the end of the Second World War and the first use of the atomic bomb in warfare. For Croatia, it is vital to note that it was simultaneously on the side of the victor and the defeated, and that it experienced a radical change in government. Additionally, while setting up this exhibition, we endeavoured to highlight other aspects that marked that year but which did not have an exclusively military/political character. We were interested in what actually transpired in 1945, from January to December of that year, which contained several legitimately repressive political systems, fascist and communist, as well as the continued persistence of monarchist aspirations. We were also interested in the background of political events, how they transformed societal relations, and “the everyday” which weighed down the ‘little’ people.
We chose to present the entire year, since we wanted to show well known but also entirely obscure, neglected facts. The intention of this exhibition is not to strike a balance between the various political sides or to seek some unattainable balance, nor is it to impose some absolute truth, but also not to minimize the military victory over fascism. Certainly not the latter. There is no disputing that 1945 saw the end of the public and tangible forms of the fascist ideology, which was particularly devastating in terms of its racism, national intolerance, repression and terror, but we are aware that it also saw the onset of a long-lasting era of the communist ideology, with all of the inconceivable consequences of its repressive system.
History must be constantly re-examined, particularly those years, events, phenomena and personalities which have already become unquestioned, canonized and firmly entrenched – not to turn them on their head, but to show what, in fact, earned them this status.