Pogledaj Full Version : Croats and Pan-Slavism

Željko Zidarić
30th-May-2012, 04:01 AM
Note: No references for this blog articl (http://www.freewebs.com/index44/croatsandpanslavism.htm)

The Pan-Slavic idea and Croatian quest for Statehood

The Croat experience of independence was rather brief. And it was terminated much earlier than that of their Serb neighbors, whose empire reached its height in the mid-fourteenth century and whose independence was not entirely snuffed out by the Ottoman invaders until the 1450s. The rulers of the Croat tribes in Dalmatia began adopting the title of Dux Croatiae (Duke of Croatia) in the 820s. The greatest among them, Tomislav, who was believed to have ruled from about 910 to 928 (the hard evidence is scanty), seems to have united the various Croat statelets in Dalmatia and Pannonia into one unit that encompassed most of contemporary Croatia and Bosnia. He had himself crowned king, and under him Croatia was sufficiently powerful to warrant an admiring reference in the Byzantine emperor Porphyrogenitus's account of his empire, De Administrando Imperio. Tomislav's big Croatia in the tenth century, like Tsar Dusan's great Serbia in the fourteenth century, was a temporary phenomenon. The Croats were unable to withstand the aggressive attentions of their more powerful Magyar and Venetian neighbors, and in 1102 the Croatian crown passed to the Arpad dynasty in Hungary under a pact by which the Croatian kingdom preserved its separate identity and institutions-above all, its parliaments, known as the Sabor, and a viceroy, known as a ban.

Serbs and Croats, therefore, shared a history of foreign domination. But the Serbs at least remained together in their servitude, under one Ottoman roof. They also had a national church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, founded in the thirteenth century and revived under Ottoman patronage in the 1560s. It was this institution, long after the extinction of the native aristocracy, that preserved the Serbs' strong sense of national identity and ingrained in their collective memory a recollection of a great pre-Ottoman independent kingdom.

The Croats in some ways were in a less favorable position. They did not remain united under foreign rule but were split three ways. The Ottomans ruled over Bosnia, the Dalmatian interior, and the eastern half of Slavonia; Venice ruled the Dalmatian coast (with the exception of the city-state of Dubrovnik); and the Habsburgs ruled a rump kingdom of Croatia after their election to the Croatian crown in 1527, following Hungary's virtual annihilation by the Turks at Mohacs. Nor did the Croats have a national church that could foster memories of their former statehood.

The early Croat rulers, after a brief hesitation in the 870s, took their religion from Rome rather than Byzantium. The popes thereafter frowned on any attempts to impart a national, Slav tone to the church in Croatia, suppressing the use of the native Glagolitic script and the vernacular liturgy, the use of which, with a few exceptions in certain areas, was prohibited in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Much later the Counter Reformation in Croatia would further weaken the national element in the Church, for the Croat Protestants wished to propagate the use of the Glagolitic script and made a conscious attempt to write in a dialect that would be understandable in all the different Croat regions. As a result of the Counter Reformation, the Croats remained under the deracinating influence of bishops loyal first to Rome, and then to Hungary, Venice, or the Habsburgs.

What kept alive a sense of common Croat identity among these separated and subjugated peoples, therefore, was not the Catholic religion.l It was literature and the memory of history sustained by the intellectual elite. During the Renaissance era, Venetian-ruled Dalmatia and Dubrovnik gave birth to influential intellectuals, mostly minor aristocrats and clergymen, Jesuits especially-who kept alive the memory of Croatia and the Croatian language when they composed or translated plays and books from Italian and Latin into the vernacular. No matter that the dialects of Dalmatia and Dubrovnik were different from each other-Dubrovnik used the so-called stokavian while further north, in Split, they preferred cakavian-and that both these dialects were somewhat different from the dialect of Zagreb, capital of the Habsburg-ruled north. They still thought of it as Croatian. When gimun Ko.icic, bishop of Modrus, had the Roman Missal printed in the vernacular in 1532, the title on the frontispiece was Misal Hrvacki (the Croatian Missal), and when Marko Marulic (1450-1524) of Split published the first known vernacular poem in Dalmatia in 1521, the History of the Holy Widow Judith, he put on the title that it had been composed "u versih hr?vacki slozena," "in Croatian verses." The Dubrovnik poet Dominko Zalataric (1555-1610) explained on the frontispiece of his 1597 translation of Sophocles' tragedy Elektra and Tasso's Aminta that it had been "iz vece tudieh jezika u Hrvacki izlozene," "translated from the great foreign languages into Croatian."

Many of these Dalmatian writers dedicated their works to heroes from the northern, Habsburg-ruled kingdom and, in so doing, showed that they still considered themselves members of a Croatian nation that transcended contemporary political boundaries. Zalataric dedicated his plays to Juraj Zrinjski, son of Nikola Subic Zrinjski, the warrior ban of Croatia who had perished in 1566 defending Sziget in Hungary from the Ottoman army for the Habsburgs. The Dubrovnik poet Vladislav Mencetic dedicated his Trublja Slovinska (Trumpet of the Slavs) in 1663 to another member of this celebrated Croatian noble family, in this case Peter Zrinjski, whom the emperor Leopold I had executed in 1671. These poets and writers complimented each other as great Croats when they addressed their baroque epistles to one another. "The Croatian peoples shout that you are the golden crown of which we are all proud," said Nikola Naljeskovic (1510-1586) of Dubrovnik to Ivan Vidali, of the island of Korcula, in an address from the early 1560s. Vidali replied in kind. "You are the glory and fame of the Croatian language," he declared in 1564, in an address that also extolled Dubrovnik-an oasis of Slav liberty between Venice and Turkey-as the "crown of Croatian cities."

The Dalmatian writers of the Renaissance era were pan-Slavs, using the words Croat, Slav, and Illyrian-the latter term borrowed the classical name for the Balkan peninsula-almost interchangeably. As the Ottoman juggernaut rolled over one Croat town after another (by the 1590s the Turks were only a few miles south of Zagreb), they put their faith in a great Slav brotherhood of nations that they hoped would eventually unite to liberate them from humiliating servitude to the sultan and the doge. While they were being enslaved, it was balm to the soul to dwell on the fact that way in the north, and to the east, there existed great independent Slav kingdoms.

For Ivan Gundulic (1588-1638), the baroque poet of Dubrovnik, that Slav liberator was going to be Poland, and it was to Poland that he dedicated his epic poem Osman following the Poles' victory over the sultan at Chocim in 1621.3 After the decline of Catholic Poland, Orthodox Russia took its place as the object of some Croat thinkers' hopes, inspiring Juraj Krizanic (1618-1683), a Jesuit from Karlovac in Habsburg Croatia, to undertake a hopeless and rather bizarre pilgrimage to the court of the Tsar Alexis in the 1680s. Krizanic's Slav internationalism was so indefatigable that even after the suspicious tsar had exiled him to Siberia his enthusiasm did not flag.

There was no tension between a commitment to Illyria and Croatia. It was not a case of either/or but of both/and. Pavao Ritter Vitezovic (1652-1713) of Senj's influential history book Croatia Rediviva (Croatia Reborn), written in 1700, wound the two notions together. Vitezovic identified as Croats all the contemporary Slav inhabitants of what the classically educated generally called Illyria. To be Croatian and Illyrian was as natural as being, for example, Prussian and German in the nineteenth century, or Scottish and British in the same period.

The pan-Slav element in Croat thought was a defense mechanism. The Dalmatian writers knew only too well that they were too puny, divided and few in number, to even contemplate confronting their Venetian or Turkish overlords. They were mournfully aware of the fact that they were a mere scrap of what they once had been, the "reliquiae reliquiarum," as the Croatian Sabor often described the country-a fragment of a fragment of the once-great and famous kingdom of Croatia.

The fantasy of belonging to a united Slav people that was as seamless as the robe of Christ (and as phony as the talk of Arab unity in our own time) sustained their hopes during the long centuries of foreign rule. The Croats not only were broken up into several bits but now lived intermingled with large numbers of settlers-the result of the huge demographic changes in the Balkans caused by the Ottoman invasion. In Bosnia, the most peripheral of Tomislav's conquests in the tenth century, the old Catholic populations had been enormously diluted since the sixteenth century by the conversion of a large proportion of the native Slavs. to Islam and by an influx of Serb Orthodox settlers to the barren and war-devastated lands of northwest Bosnia. There the demographic change was so striking that a region known until the early nineteenth century as "Turkish Croatia" had very few Catholic Croat inhabitants at all by that time. Even in the small Habsburg-ruled Croatian kingdom, Catholics increasingly lived cheek by jowl with Serb Orthodox settlers. This was especially so in the long strip of land, bordering the Ottoman Empire, known as the Vojna Krajina (the Military Border), which was governed directly by the Habsburg military authorities and in which the authorities expressly invited Serb refugees to settle. So a notion of Croatness that was designed to appeal to as many Slavs as possible was not merely idealism. It was a very practical response to Croatia's changed demographic reality.

Unable to alter their own destiny single-handedly, the Croats had to wait on the decisions-and armies-of the great powers. In the 1680s, the Habsburgs inflicted a series of stunning defeats on the Ottomans, ending their century-and-a-half rule over Slavonia and driving them, temporarily, from Bosnia as well. In Dalmatia the Ottomans were forced to relinquish control of the interior to Venice. When, in the course of the Napoleonic wars of the 1790s, Venice's Dalmatian empire passed also to the Habsburgs, most Croats found themselves again under one roof for the first time since the Middle Ages. There is no doubt that most Dalmatians wanted union-or as they would have put it, reunion-with the rest of Croatia. This was demonstrated by the great reception the city of Zadar gave the Croat Habsburg general Juraj Rukavina when he entered the city on behalf of the emperor in July 1797.

The Austrians, however, were careful to block the calls for Dalmatia and Croatia to be united into one administrative unit inside the empire, and they tried to foster a separate Dalmatian identity. In spite of this, popular support rose in Dalmatia throughout the century for the narodnjaci (nationals) who supported a reunited Croatia within the Habsburg Empire. Now it was the turn of the richer and more developed northern Croats to pay homage to the patriarchs of the "Illyrian" movement two centuries previously. Nothing could be more symbolic of this attitude of reverence than the great curtain designed in 1895 for the new Croatian National Theater in Zagreb. On it was portrayed a procession of literary worthies, sweeping up towards the figure of Gundulic, who was enthroned against a backdrop of the skylines of Dubrovnik and Zagreb-the former the symbol of Croatia's great past, the latter the hope of the future.

The expansion of the Habsburg Empire solved the greatest problem facing the Croatian nation since the 1500s, being dispersed in three states. And it brought to the forefront the question of Illyria-or, as it became known as in the less classical atmosphere of the 1860s, Jugoslavija, the land of southern Slavs. In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the dream of Slav unity had been a comforting fantasy, sustaining the drooping spirits of a defeated nation's thinking classes. By the nineteenth century, Illyrianism was no longer just a vague ambition but a pressing political question. The southern Slavs were no longer all subject to foreign rulers and thus were equal, if only in a common state of subjection. The first quarter of the century saw the creation of small Greek and Serbian principalities; later, a Bulgarian state would join their ranks. These little states all had big ideas. The Greeks dreamed of an empire in Asia Minor, the Bulgarians of Constantinople and Macedonia.

In Serbia, as early as the middle of the century, there were important politicians who talked openly of the impending dissolution of the Turkish empire and the coming battle with Austria over the spoils. The Serbian foreign minister Ilija Garasanin was one such official; in his Nacertanije-an outline of Serbia's foreign policy aims written in the 1840s-he spoke of their determination to reconstruct the great state that had once belonged to Tsar Dugan. "The foundations for building the Serbian empire must therefore be cleared and freed of all ruins and alluvia," he declared. "They must be revealed and then, on this hard and permanent foundation, new building must be undertaken and continued." The famous, though controversial, reformer of the Serbian alphabet, Vuk Karadzic, was another. Looking westwards, he pronounced Croatia a mere geographical expression and its inhabitants "brothers of the Roman law." They did not know that they were Serbs, he admitted, but in time would become Serbs, because they had no other name to adopt.

The Croat intellectuals of the nineteenth century were disappointed by the rise of an expansionist and rather belligerent Serbian nationalism. However much they railed against the Habsburgs or the Hungarians, they had taken it for granted that they lived in an infinitely more civilized and progressive state than their Illyrian brothers and sisters, who had spent the previous four centuries under the Ottomans, and they were surprised to find out that the newly independent Serbs now looked down on them. They did not like it when their Illyrian sympathies were interpreted as an admission that they did not really exist as a nation. Yet this was just how Vuk Karadzic did interpret it. "Clever Serbs," he said, "both Orthodox and Roman Catholic admit they are one nation," in "Serbs All and Everywhere," written in about 1836. "Only those of the Roman Catholic Church find it difficult to call themselves Serbs, but they will probably get used to it, little by little, because if they do not want to be Serbs, they have no other choice...."

The traditional yardstick of Serb identity was membership in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Karadzic took the more modern and secular yardstick of language in order to work Catholics and Muslims into his particular Serbian tapestry. Slavs who spoke a language that resembled Serbian were Serbs. Slavs who called themselves Croats were deceiving themselves: "I would say that this name belongs rightly first and only to the cakavci," he said, referring to the inhabitants of several Dalmatian islands where the local dialect used ca for the word "what," as opposed to the more widespread "sto". Even the inhabitants of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and its hinterland were Serbs. According to Karadzic this area was more truly known as upper Slavonia, not Croatia, and the local dialect was not a national speech at all but a "transitional" speech between Slovene and Serb. Garasanin and Karadzic were not, of course, the sole voices of nineteenth-century Serbia. In the last quarter of the century, Serbia became a virtual vassal of Austria-Hungary, the absolute opposite of what Garasanin had counseled. As for Karadzic, he was a persona non grata in the new Serbian state, where the powerful Church hierarchy deeply disapproved of both his reforms to the Cyrillic alphabet and his secular brand of nationalism, which seemed to place no special emphasis on the Orthodox faith. But what was increasingly typical of Garasanin and Karadzic among their contemporaries in Serbia was the assumption that Serbia was destined to absorb its smaller and weaker Slav neighbors.

The Croats did not drop their Illyrian, or Jugoslav, program, however. Again, this was not only idealism, but the result of a profound pessimism concerning their abilities to confront their enemies on their own. In the nineteenth century, these enemies were no longer the sultan or the doge but Hungarians, who from the 1790s with increasing energy and resolution pursued a policy of forcing the Hungarian language into Croatia's schools and official institutions, in spite of the fact that most Croats felt this violated the terms of their relationship with Hungary under the historic pact of 1102.

In 1848 Austria went to war and invoked the intervention of Russia in order to quash the Hungarians' revolutionary separatism. But in 1867, after the disastrous defeat at Sadowa at the hands of Prussia, Austria was too weak to resist the Hungarian demands for what was virtually a state within a state, and the subsequent division of the empire into two halves had enormous ramifications for the empire's smaller nationalities. Austria had become Austria-Hungary, and great Hungary gained a free hand over the Croats, the Serbs of Vojvodina, the Slovaks, and the Romanians of Transylvania.

With that development Croat hopes of winning a greater degree of home rule disappeared, as did the hope of uniting Croatia and Dalmatia into one unit inside the empire; for while Croatia passed into the Hungarian half of the empire, Dalmatia remained inside "Austria"-the lands represented in the Vienna parliament. In both halves of the empire, Croats again found themselves in need of allies. In Dalmatia, the Austrians favored the small Italian-speaking elite in the towns-the legacy of centuries of Venetian rule. In Croatia proper, Hungary built up the local Serb minority as a counterweight to the Croats. The prevailing opinion of Croat leaders such as Juraj Strossmayer (1815-1905), the bishop of Djakovo, was that Croats needed to keep their national movement as broadly based as possible in order to frustrate the Austrian and Hungarian policy of divide and rule. But not everyone in Croatia was happy with Strossmayer's irenical approach to the Serbs and with the direction that Illyrianism was taking Croatia. It was clear to these more skeptical spirits that Hungary's divisive tactics in Croatia in the last decades of the century were succeeding only too well and that despite what the Illyrians said about Slav brotherhood, the local Serb Orthodox population (which then comprised about 25 percent of the population) increasingly perceived its interests as quite separate-even antagonistic-to those of their Catholic Croat neighbors.

Earlier in the nineteenth century, the Orthodox of Croatia had seemed content with a Croat identity; indeed, the Habsburg Croat regiments in northern Italy that had gained such a fearsome reputation contained many Orthodox soldiers. During the year of revolutions in 1848, the question of whether Croats were Catholic or Orthodox was fairly irrelevant, so that when the strongly Illyrian patriot Josip Jelacic was installed as ban of Croatia in that year in Zagreb, it was the head of the Serbian church, Metropolitan Rajacic, and not the Catholic Archbishop, Haulik of Zagreb, who presided at the ceremony. The Metropolitan's benediction then had included an invocation to Jelacic "to protect the august House of Austria, sweet liberty, our nationality, and the common good of the Truine kingdom [of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia]."

Only a generation later, the assumption that there was a common nationality among Serbs and Croats and that all Serbs wished to protect the "august House of Austria" or the "Triune kingdom" would have sounded very anachronistic. By the turn of the century, the Orthodox subjects of the Habsburgs thought of themselves simply as Serbs and, like Garasanin and Karadzic, confidently anticipated the day when a reinvigorated Serbia would come and claim the land as its own. One reason for this change in attitude was that the young Serbian state was expanding and developing, and it became a much more powerful focus for the loyalty of all the Orthodox subjects of the Habsburgs than it had been a few decades earlier. In the 1860s the last Ottoman garrison was driven out of Belgrade. In the 1870s Serbia nearly doubled in size, at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, and-symbolically important-graduated from a mere principality, theoretically loyal to the sultan, to being a fullfledged kingdom. Serbia's growing power and self-confidence changed the terrain on which Serbs and Croats now met. The Serbs had at no stage been more than half-interested in Croat intellectual talk of Illyria or Jugoslavia. Now they became less so, as the tantalizing project of restoring Dusan's great empire loomed up before their imagination.

Towards the end of his life even Strossmayer, the inspiration and financier of the whole Jugoslav movement (he poured much of his own money into founding a Jugoslav Academy of Art and Science in Zagreb in the 1860s), became thoroughly disillusioned with the business of trying to build cultural and political ties with the Serbs. No man had done more in his generation to realize the dream of the Illyrian poets and writers of an earlier age and to hold out the hand of friendship. Yet by 1885 he was so alarmed by the rise of an exclusive Serbian nationalism that he was pleased when the Serbs were crushed in their brief war with Bulgaria. "The idea of resurrecting Dusan's kingdom is insane," he fumed. The Serbs, he declared, were now "crushing the idea of a Croatian state. We should pray now that they see that the grave they were digging for others they were preparing first of all for themselves."

The beneficiary of this disillusionment with the Illyrian project was Strossmayer's archrival for the loyalty of Croatia's youth, Ante Starcevic. Starcevic (1825-1896) came from much the same intellectual Illyrian background as Strossmayer. Strossmayer had been a protege of the great Illyrian ban Jelacic; Starcevic was the son of Orthodox mother and a Catholic father, and his uncle Sime Starcevic, a Catholic priest, had shown his strongly Illyrian sympathies during the brief Napoleonic occupation of Dalmatia by compiling a "French-Illyrian" dictionary. Starcevic and his supports, especially the radical nationalist Eugen Kvaternik, invested many of their hopes in Napoleon III, the godfather of the Italian Risorgimento and patron saint of national unification movements everywhere. In Starcevic, Vuk Karadzic met his match, or his mirror image. Karadzic saw Serbs "all and everywhere" on the basis of speech. Starcevic saw Croats everywhere as well, or at least from the Adriatic all the way to Bulgaria, not on the basis of speech but of history-the historical framework of the Croatian state of the tenth century at its greatest extent, under King Tomislav. This was the state that he was convinced the Croats had a historical right to, and his political party was naturally named the Stranka Prava (the Party of Rights), by which he meant the party of the Croatian state's rights. Like the French revolutionaries, to whom he owed many of his ideas, Starcevic was a secular nationalist who placed great emphasis on this concept of statehood-the Croatian state-and he insisted that all those living within the borders of this state were Croat citizens. The various religions and convictions of the people on the ground were of no more consequence to him than they were to Karadzic. Like Karadzic, he would have said, "They have no choice." It took a good deal of creative thinking to make sense of this fantasy state, which existed only in the imaginations of his followers, known as rightists, or pravasi. This was especially so when it came to Bosnia, where the Catholic proportion of the population had dwindled by the nineteenth century to only a fifth of the whole. Starcevic's pravasi met the Serbs' challenge to Bosnia head on, insisting that Bosnian Muslims were not only Croats but the most Croat of all Croats! In fact, they were the very blossom of Croatia, because they had not been corrupted by the dead hand of Austria. Their Islam was inconsequential-in a sense, it was a badge of innocence. As for the Serb Orthodox, who by the nineteenth century formed the largest ethnic group in Bosnia, they were dubbed Orthodox Croats, in spite of the fact that they now almost all thought of themselves as Serbs, pure and simple.

Croatian politics in the latter half of the nineteenth century revolved around a contest of ideas between the followers of Strossmayer, who still advocated Illyrian solidarity and rapprochement with the Serbs, and the followers of Starcevic. Strossmayer became quite bitter in his old age about Starcevic's success in weaning the hearts and minds of the coming generation in Croatia away from him. But in World War I it was Starcevic's project that foundered and Strossmayer's that appeared to triumph. The notion of a great independent Croatia simply could not survive the outbreak of a world conflict that brought home to the Croats just how small and dependent upon others they were for their very survival as a nation.

"The only chance for Croatians lies in the total defeat of Austria-Hungary but without causing its dissolution" was the gloomy prognosis of the leader of the Croatian peasants party, Stjepan Radic. Victory would leave Hungary invincible and more high-handed than ever with its minorities. Defeat was still more terrifying, for in the secret treaty of April 1915 in London, which the Croats soon found out about, the Entente powers offered Dalmatia to Italy, and Bosnia and much of Croatia to Serbia, in order to win them over and keep them on their side.

Faced with a threat that was, in a way, as calamitous as the Ottoman invasion, a new generation of Dalmatian intellectuals resolved to take action. Led by Ivan Mestrovic, Ante Trumbic, and Frane Supilo-an internationally famous sculptor, a former mayor of Split, and a journalist, respectively-they set up the Jugoslav Committee in 1915 as an organization dedicated to ensuring that the Great Powers did not succeed in consigning Croatia to another partition. Since Croatian independence seemed a hopeless prospect, they were determined at least to secure union for the whole of Croatia with their Slav neighbors in Serbia, on terms that approximated as much as possible the Illyrian ideal of freedom in diversity. It was fortunate for them that by the end of the war, the kind of secret diplomacy once practiced by the British and French was no longer in favor and that under Woodrow Wilson, America was forthright in championing the self-determination of nations. The Jugoslav Committee was also fortunate in that 1917 found the Serb leadership at their lowest ebb, in exile on Corfu and in despair of achieving a great Serbian state. The Jugoslav advocates were thus able to persuade the Serb leaders to line up-rather reluctantly-behind the idea of a common state of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. They succeeded in a sense, for it was the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes that inherited Dalmatia (or most of it), not Italy.

Beyond that, however, they were to be disappointed. They had never been Illyrian, or Jugoslav, at the expense of their own Croatian identity any more than the seventeenth-century Dubrovnik poets had been. Yet the Croats were incorporated with a certain amount of force into a centralized state that, though it officially adopted the name Jugoslavia in 1929, was really an extension of Serbia.

Source: Marcus Tanner

Illyrianism and the Croatian Quest for Statehood (http://domovod.info/zzfiles/Illyrianism and the Croatian Quest for Statehood 1997.pdf)

Željko Zidarić
30th-May-2012, 04:07 AM

Institute for Balkan Studies (http://www.rastko.rs/istorija/batakovic/batakovic-national_eng.html)
Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences - Belgrade


National integration in Southeastern Europe developed under the strong influence of several factors, which, depending on local conditions, varied from historicism to religion, shaping particular types of national movements. In the regions which the Turks ruled for centuries, in the beginning of the era of nationalism, ethnic particularity, expressed in the tradition of the millet, where the unity of ethnos and he Christian Church was legally ingrained in the administrative structure of the Ottoman Empire, the struggle for national rights was resolved by a consecutive series of uprisings and wars that decisively influenced the profiles of future national movements.

The religious factor was, in such cases, shaped by the millet tradition -Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians. It was one of the main levers of the national renaissances, the guardian of medieval traditions and the driving force of national ideologies. However, in further development of the new mostly secularized national states (Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria), it was no obstacle to their liberal and democratic transformation. For the Orhodox nations in the Balkans the model of the millet proved itself to be a solid base for transition to the standard European type of national integration - the nation-state model, based on the experience of the French Revolution.

Contrary to the authentically European model of integration, in the neighbourhood of the former Ottoman provinces turned into newly established national states, within the frontiers of another multinational empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, a Central-European model of national integration arose gradually - a clerical nationalism, mixed with feudal traditions. That model of nationalism was especially apparent in regions where the Roman-Catholic and Orthodox Church coexisted, like Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, and was coloured by an excessive religious intolerance. That model was developed also in Herzegovina and Bosnia, Ottoman provinces occupied by Austria-Hungary i 1878, where Christians, both Orthodox and Roman Catholic lived together, having been formely, under Ottoman rule, which had been exercised by the islamized Slavs - the Bosnian Muslims.

The clerical nationalism which emerged in Croatia offered a contemporary variant of the Civitas Dei - "God's state" - where religious affiliation, together with an anachronous interpretation of feudal "historical rights", became the firm basis of national identity, challenging all modern solutions, from romantic nationalism to liberal ideology.

The third, supra-national, essentially cultural model, founded on the ideas of the Enlightenment mixed afterwards with the experiences of a romantic era - ideas shared by the influential ideologists of modern nationalism from Fichte to Herder and Kollár to Stur - used as the basic criterion for national identity a common language. The Yugoslav idea as a viable political solution for the South Slav national question grew from this linguistic model of modern nationalism. Adopted primarily by the liberal intelligentsia among the Serbs and Croats, the Yugoslav idea could not be implemented in the undeveloped, predominantly agrarian society, impregnated by various feudal traditions, religious intolerance and often a xenophobic mentality. It was the example of "imagined communities", a kind of "protonationalism" professed mainly by the Croats, whose national revival was to begin. The Serbs and the Croats used linguistic nationalism in the form of a Yugoslav idea as and when needed, as an auxiliary device in respect of their own national integrations. Within the framework of their different political and socio-economic backgrounds, the Serbs and the Croats used it with fundamentally different interpretation of its real content.


The course of the national integration of the Serbs, shaped by the experience of the national revolution against the Ottoman Empire (1804-1815), gradually moved in the direction of the creation of an all Serbian nation-state. The establishment of a semi-independent Principality of Serbia under Ottoman suzerainty in 1830, marked only the first step towards the further gathering together of Serbian national territories. However, in contrast to the other Balkan nations (Greeks, Rumanians, Bulgarians) which followed the same model but were building their identity only on opposition to Ottoman rule, the ethnic mixture of the Serbs with the Croats in the lands within the frontiers of the Habsburg Empire, directed the Serbs, to accept, as an auxiliary model in projects for the union of all Serbian lands in a common state, as a complementary solution, the idea of a Yugoslav union.

The Serbian national programme - Nacertanije - put together in 1844 by Ilija Garasanin, a statesman of Bismarckian ambitions, was derived from various plans presented to him by liberal Polish emigrants who were led by Prince Adam Czartoryski and his diplomatic bureau in the Hôtel Lambert in Paris. The Polish advisers to the Serbian government projected an Illyrian state using the ancient name of Illyrians, as used earlier by the Emperor Joseph II and Napoleon for the Balkan peoples. This same name was proposed by the Croat revivalist as a common for all South Slavs. This Illyrian state as proposed by the Poles was to, under the guidance of Serbia, in time, cause the blending into a single nation of all the South Slav nations, which as well as the Serbs and the Croats, was to include the Slovenes and Bulgarians.

Garasanin modified that project in accordance with the Serbian experience and existing geo-political realities. Planning the unification of the Serbian lands under Ottoman rule (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northwestern Macedonia), Garasanin did not exclude the possibility of the creation of a common state of South Slavs with the Croats and the Bulgarians. Bosnia and Herzegovina were considered as Serbian lands inhabited by Serbs of the Orthodox and Islamic faith, with a small Catholic minority, who much later emerged as Croats.

The national aspirations expressed in the Nacertanije, were based on the concept of the sovereignty of the people, and they were used for the formulation of the state programme of the Principality of Serbia. This programme accorded with the model of l'Etat-nation, thus there was no difference between the state and the nation.(Garasanin's project was immediately accepted by Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrovic-Njegos, the greatest Serbian poet, ruler of Montenegro, another semi-independent Serbian state.) In the mid-nineteenth century, when Garasanin projected his Nacertanije, his ideas were politically legitimate according to accepted international standards of liberal nationalism. Furthermore, unlike the Serbian, national movements those of other South Slav peoples were only in a state of conception.

The basic idea of Serbian union in the Nacertanije, based as it was on the l'Etat-nation model, was imbued to a certain degree with historicism (the renewal of the medieval Serbian Empire of Stefan Dusan). However it conformed to the ideology of the legitimistic reaction in Metternich's Europe. The Nacertanije was essentially national in a liberal sense, favouring cultural initiatives and democratic organisation as preconditions of further national emancipation: "Supported by Turkish sovereignty and enjoying complete internal independence Serbia will show herself worthy of retaining it, just as she knew how to achieve it. We dare to state that Serbia has the right to have the sympathy of the constitutional Europe and that she deserves its trust."

The plan for Yugoslav union, then no more than a political fantasy, without any real possibilities of being realized, Garasanin left for the next phase, aware as he was of the strength of the Habsburg Empire. However, he was also convinced of the inevitability of its decay, without which the Serbian union, even in the distant future, would be impossible. Two decades later, at the height of planning a coalition of Balkan states and peoples against Turkey, (the First Balkan Alliance headed by Prince Michael of Serbia), Garasanin, then the powerful Minister of Foreign Affairs (1861-1867), when the first opportunity appeared for the dissolution of Austria(1866), stressed in a letter to Napoleon III that the Habsburg Empire was a strange agglomeration of peoples that should be recomposed according to the nationality principle.

In negotiations and correspondence with the leader of the Croatian national movement, Roman Catholic bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Garasanin was, in principle prepared to accept a plan for a federal Serbo-Croat state, after the anticipated union of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia. In considering the nature of the future Yugoslav state, Garasanin, however, started from the linguistic model, combined with notions of the nation-state: one Yugoslav nation was to have one language, because religion would not be allowed to act as a watershed that would divide them.

Garasanin's standpoints on the Serbian question and Yugoslav union, according to the liberal and democratic standards of the period, contained a certain duality, a characteristic of Serbian understanding of the future Yugoslav union. Serbian union was a major, but not the ultimate goal: after the creation of a united Serbian state as the first phase, Yugoslav union would follow, where the united peoples would eventually merge into a new - Yugoslav nation. The model of a nation-state, as applied to the Serbian union, implied the same formula for a future Yugoslavia: one people - one state. It was the only experience that the Serbs, like all the other Balkan nations shaped in a constant struggle for national rights and political independence against Turks - had experienced and were able to accept.


While the Serbian national integration developed from the narrower, national, towards the wider, Yugoslav unity, the Croat revivalist movement took the reverse direction. From the supra-national, linguistic (Illyrian and Yugoslav), through which a framework had been made for Croatian national integration, based on opposition to the Imperial Austrian and the feudal-national Hungarian ideology, it moved towards the narrower, exclusively national model. As one Croat historian stressed, "Yugoslavism played an integrating role only for the Croat nation. It did not influence the constitution of the Slovenian and Serbian nation. For them Yugoslavism obtained its significance only when the process of their national integration was already over."
In contrast to the Slovenians, who endangered by Germanisation, insisted on `natural rights` expressed in their linguistic and cultural identity, the Croats transformed their initial zeal for the broader Illyrian idea. They opted for linguistic unity by introducing the stokavian (stokavski) dialect, which they, borrowed from the Serbs, accepting the reform proposed by Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. The authentic Croatian dialects, kajkavian (kajkavski) and cakavian (cakavski), were gradually edged out from public use. A stokavian mode of expression, transliterated from the Serbian Cyrillic to the Latin script, was adopted as the Croat literary standard. Due to the stokavian dialect, the Croats gained their first important goal: the linguistic and cultural unity of their nation.

The Croats, after the first phase marked by Illyrian ideology, emulating the legitimistic organisation of the Habsburg Monarchy, found in the 'historical rights': the theory about the legal continuity of their medieval state, later known as the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia the model for their Volkgeist. From the Hungarians, Croatian political thought borrowed the theory of one political nation in the whole historic space of the Triune Kingdom, regardless of ethnic origin.

That theory directly threatened the national identity of the Serbs, who in Croatia and Slavonia constituted about one third of the population, concentrated mostly in the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina or simply Krajina), which was directly ruled by Vienna (up until 1881). In contrast to the situation of the Croats of what was then known as Civil Croatia and Civil Slavonia, as a standing army of the Habsburg Empire, the Serbian population in Krajina had been freed from feudal taxes.

Brief periods of Serbo-Croat co-operation (1848,1867-1868) occurred when the Croats needed the Serbs as allies in their political struggles with the Hungarians. They were characterized by the close relations of Serb leaders with the circle of liberal Catholics gathered around the neo-Illyrian People's party of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. His clerical option for the Croatian national question was compatible with the supra-national, linguistic model. A Catholic first of all and a Croat second, Strossmayer tried to adapt the Yugoslav idea and the linguistic unity proposed by the Illyrians to the principles of Catholic liberalism. In the cultural and political unity of South Slav nations he saw only one of the means to reconcile and unite the two disputing Christian Churches, the Roman-Catholic and the Serbian-Orthodox, but in a such a way that both in Krajina, Bosnia and Serbia, a Roman Catholic union would be imposed upon the Serbs, as a transitory measure on the road to the final acceptance of Catholicism.

The ultimate political goal of Strossmayer's party was the creation of the South Slav entity within the frontiers of the Austria-Hungary, which would encompass Serbia and Montenegro as well. Strossmayer's closest political associate Franjo Racki, explained their common doctrine and described the territories which would be encompassed by the Croatian "political nation": "The Croat people (had) a legal and permanent right to ownership of the whole space (west of the line extending) from the Bojana River (the southern border between Montenegro and Albania to the Drina River (which separates Serbia from Bosnia) to the Danube River (including Serbia)."

The other more profound clerical current, the one that proved most immune to all political changes, gathered around Ante Starcevic, the "father of a modern Croat nationalism". From an enthusiastic Illyrian in his youth, Starcevic became the ideologist of religious and racial intolerance directed against the Serbs. His theory of Croatian State-Rights became a foundation of future national integration, largely accepted by the domestic Catholic hierarchy loyal to Austria-Hungary, "the most Catholic monarchy in the world". In such a Croatian state, founded under the sceptre of Habsburg dynasty, there would be no room for non-Croat nations, especially not for the Serbs, who Starcevic considered to be "race of slaves, the most loathsome of all the beasts", and neither would there be room for the Jews, in respect of whom he wrote with unconcealed anti-Semitiism. The Slovenes were, as Starcevic called them, the "Alpine Croats".

Starcevic's model initially was not strikingly clerical (nevertheless he designated the Serbs in Serbia as the "Orthodox Croats"), however his concept harmoniously blended with clerical notions that were common both to the Croatian peasantry and the local Catholic clergy. The combination of racial and religious intolerance yielded a model of xenophobic, clerical nationalism, which, after Starcevic`s death, was built up upon by his successor Josip Frank, while the formally milder variant, based on the negation of national rights for the non-Croat peoples, remained in Croatian political tradition as a influential heritage stemming from Starcevic's doctrine.

After the First Catholic Congress in Zagreb 1900, which identified Roman-Catholicism with Croaticism, the clerical circles took control over the majority of the peasantry and a large part of the national elite, opposing the narrow layer of liberal intelligentsia especially that of the province of Dalmatia, which had its own Diet, under the jurisdiction of Austria, and which was separated from Croatia-Slavonia, which was incorporated in the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy.


Liberal intellectuals from Dalmatia (where many Catholics considered themselves as Serbs, including even some Catholic priests), drawing support from the model of Italian risorgimento saw the best defence of Croatian national goals in co-operation with the Serbs with whom they were ethnically and linguistically related, within the framework of the Yugoslav movement and with Serbia - constitutional monarchy with democratic regime after 1903 - as the South Slav Piedmont. In Croatia, a thin layer of liberal youth, both Croats and Serbs, formed under the strong influence of the liberal theories of nationalism of the Czech philosopher Thomas G. Masaryk, entered into political life at the turn of the century, with fresh ideas founded on a fervent pro-Yugoslav sentiment.
After a long pause between 1868 and 1903, the question of Serbian union once again acquired an more pronounced Yugoslav course. The Garasanin nation-state model, adapted to a linguistic, supra-national type of nation based upon language model, now acquired the characteristics of cultural action in the already profiled national movements. Milovan Milovanovic, one of the main ideologists of the National Radical Party in Serbia wrote in 1895 that Serbs and Croats are "one and the same nation"

The Yugoslav idea, as a democratic response to Habsburg legitimism and imperialism, after 1903 gradually became political raison d'ętre in Serbia, mostly because of the actions of prominent Serbian scholars and political leaders (Jovan Cvijic, Jovan Skerlic, Ljubomir Stojanovic, Stojan Novakovic). They gave the theoretical pattern for a projected Yugoslav state. Together with liberal Croats (Milan Marjanovic), and Bosnian Muslims (Sukrija Kurtovic) they wrote about Yugoslavs (divided into different tribes - Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) as a nation coming into being, with its centre in the patriarchal belt in the mid-Balkans, distinguished from others by the same language, related customs and a common past.

On the question on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the liberal concept of Yugoslav union came up against the insurmountable obstacle of religious intolerance propagated by the clerical circles of Croatia. They were supported by the ruling nobility in Vienna, and obtained the tacit approval of the Vatican. The Jesuit order dominated by Croats and which was successfully spreading religious intolerance, was introduced for purely political reasons in Bosnia-Herzegovina in late 19th century, by the ruling nobility of Austria-Hungary.

Anachronous, conservative and religiously intolerant, by its political traditions and beaurocratic structure the prototype of all kinds of retrograde ideologies, from anti-semitism and clericalism to the later Nazism, the Dual Monarchy fettered the development of various national movements in the Balkans. Relying on the conservative Catholic clergy Austria-Hungary was at the same time politically supporting Islam as a barrier to the social and national challenge coming from her main enemy in the Balkans - Serbia.

The clash of the national principle (the Balkans for the Balkans peoples) which Serbia aspired to, looking forward to the national unification of the Serbs, and the legitimistic ideology of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, resulted in Vienna trying to permanently crush the independence of Serbia, which - by its very existence - threatened the survival of the multi-ethnic Monarchy. The assassination of archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo 1914, was a long awaited opportunity for Vienna to settle accounts with Serbia.

Taking the programme of Yugoslavian union as her war aim in World War I, Serbia together with Montenegro, had in addition to the cultural and ethnical reasons, strong geo-political, strategic, and tactical reasons for the creation of a Yugoslav state. The Serbian Prime Minister, Nikola Pasic formulated, already in the summer of 1914, a global vision of the future union: the creation of a common South Slav state of twelve millions Serbs, Croats and Slovens as "one national state, geographically sufficiently large, ethnographically compact, politically strong, economically independent so that it could live and develop independently and in harmony with European culture and progress"

By creating a united Yugoslavia, Serbia would break away from the iron hug of Austria-Hungary and free herself from the further threat of the German "Drang nach Osten". The main obstacle for further expansion of the German Reich towards the Near East and Austria-Hungary towards the Gulf of Salonika was the independence of the two Serbian kingdoms, Serbia and Montenegro, linked with the Entente powers.

The Yugoslav programme of Serbia and Montenegro was well received in Vojvodina, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Krajina where the Serbs were the majority of population; it was widely accepted also in Dalmatia, a province with Croat majority, where because of the open menace of Italy and in accordance with the risorgimento ideology, Serbia was seen as the Piedmont of a future South Slav state.


The unification of Serbia (union with which had previously been proclaimed by Montenegro and Vojvodina, Srem and most of Bosnia-Herzegovina) with the Yugoslav provinces of former Austria-Hungary on December 1, 1918 itself, was carried out pursuant to the agreement between the Serbian government and the representatives of the Croato-Sloveno-Serb politicians from the Dual Monarchy. The First Agreement on the creation of a common South Slav State was signed with the exiled politicians of the Yugoslav Committee (the Corfu Agreement 1917) and in December 1918 with the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs in Zagreb. The unification (creation) of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes under the Serbian dynasty of Karadjordjevic, was put into effect without consulting the electorate: the aspirations of neighbouring countries, especially allied Italy, were threatening Slovenia and Dalmatia, and social revolution was devastating Croatia.
The unresolved question of the future internal organisation of the newly established Yugoslav state became the source of new inter-ethnic clashes. In accordance with the Garasanin's model of a nation-state, Serbs accepted the Yugoslavia as the final stage for resolving their national question. They were in favour of the French-type of centralized state, which would, along with firm democratic institutions, move in time, from the condition of one state into that of one nation ('our three-named people' or 'three tribes of a single people'). All Serbian political parties, save the Radicals who insisted on maintaining the Serbian name, were ready to accept the gradual creation of the new nation. The resolution of the national question was the reason that the national integration of Serbs almost stopped. It became difficult for the Serbs to separate their national interest from its Yugoslav framework: the only state that they would and could be identified with was Yugoslavia.

For the Croats, who considered themselves, without many strong arguments, as culturally and politically superior to the Serbs, the rivalry with the new political centre, Belgrade, was only a repetition of similar clashes with the authorities of Vienna and Budapest: this was a classical case of periphery reaction, which only in struggle against the centre renews its strength and its identity. As the Serbian national integration was checked, the Croats and the Slovenes received new impulses, because their nations in Yugoslavia, in contrast to Austria-Hungary, both had equal rights and were proportionally represented.

The King, Alexander Karadjordjevic (1921-1934), tried to resolve the ten years of continuous national clashes, misunderstandings and mutual disappointments, marked by the assassination of the prominent Croat peasant leader Stjepan Radic in the Parliament in Belgrade in 1928, by a coup d'Etat in 1929. Trying to save the unity of his Kingdom he sacrificed democracy and established a dictatorship. A unified Kingdom of Yugoslavia with a united Yugoslav nation was proclaimed and all parties with national affiliations were forbidden.

The collapse of this unitary concept of Yugoslavism, which only the Serbs were willing to accept, was heralded by the King's assassination by the Ustasas, the Croatian pro-fascist nationalist in Marseille 1934. The new Croat leader Vladko Macek in the late thirties openly proclaimed the will of his nation: "If the Serbs turn to the left, we will have to turn to the right. If they go right we will go left. If a war breaks out, we will be left no other choice but to join the opposite side to the one Belgrade chooses to support." The internal reorganisation of the country (Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian unities) which started after the creation of the Banovina Hrvatska as corpus separatum in 1939, was prevented by World War II.


The civil, ethnic and religious war during the Axis occupation (1941-1945), took about ten times more casualties than the actions of the occupying forces. The pro-nazi Ustasha rule in the Independent State of Croatia - which from 1941 to 1945 encompassed the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the south-western part of Vojvodina - was based on Starcevic's ideology. It was marked primarily by the attempt to found an ethnically "clean" national state. The Ustasha's Poglavnik (führer in the Croatian dialect) Ante Pavelic professed racial hatred: "How can Croatia, full of western culture, Latin Culture an German culture, Italian Humanist culture and German romanticism - exist together with the Orthodox, ruthless, savage Serbs?". A very considerable part of the Croatian political élite, supported by the Catholic hierarchy and Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac himself - supported this national and religious intolerance, and strongly supported policies of clericalism and racism, marked by mass killings, forced conversions and the deportation of the Serbian Orthodox population as well the slaughter of the Jews and Gypsies.
Herman Neubacher, Minister of the Third Reich stressed that in Croatia "we are dealing with the most horrific mass killings in the history of the world... The Ustasha leader and Poglavnik Ante Pavelic's recipe for the Orthodox reminds on of the religious wars during the bloodiest of times. One third must be converted to Catholicism, one third must be driven out of the country, one third must die. The purpose of this programme has already been fulfilled... When Ustasha leaders claims that a million Orthodox Serbs have been slaughtered, including babies, children, women and old people, then it is, in my opinion, boastful exaggeration. According to the reports I have received, the number of slaughtered amounts to three quarters of a million."

The reports on the massacres in the Independent State of Croatia were so horrible that American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 14th, 1943, wrote to Anthony Eden that Serbia itself should be established as independent, and Croatia put under a trusteeship.


The victory of the Communists in 1945, gained with the decisive support of the Red Army, resulted in an ideological innovation of King's Alexander's concept of integral Yugoslavism, as well as on the syntagm of 'brotherhood and unity' of all the Yugoslav peoples, both ideas being molded in conformity with the new social and totalitarian vision of Marxism-Leninism. The Second Yugoslavia was accepted primarily by the Serbs from Bosnia, Herzegovina and Krajina, the regions which were not steeped in the royalist traditions of Serbia and which saw their only protection within the frontiers of a renewed Yugoslavia. The Serbs in inner Serbia massively supported general Mihailovic's Home Army, which, abandoned by the Allies in 1943, two years later was, together with majority of the national élite destroyed by Tito's forces.
Tito's ideology was built upon the negation of the political and national integralism of the inter-war period. For the communists the Serbs were a nation firmly attached to royalism, the dynasty and "Great-Serbian hegemony" which "oppressed" all the other nations and minorities within Yugoslavia's frontiers. Simply said, if the pre-war Kingdom of Yugoslavia was based on the principle of - ' a strong Serbia - a strong Yugoslavia', the communist federation was organized on the opposite principle: 'a weak Serbia - a strong Yugoslavia'.

By combining Croatian federalist desires from the time of Austria-Hungary, and communist projects shaped by the Comintern in the same federalist, strongly anti-Serbian vein, Tito's Yugoslavia, after a consolidating period shaped by party centralism (1945-1966), glided gradually into national-communism. Consolidating his absolute power by balancing and nurturing national rivalries, Tito started to create a chain of autonomous national states, with self-sufficient economies and national nomenclatures. Their raison d'ętre - sine qua non - except inner Serbia, was the restraining of the potential danger of being dominated by the Serbs, which, by sheer numbers, were the biggest and territorially the most extended nation in the Yugoslavia.

The Titoist model of internal organization resurrected the old formulae of Austria-Hungary, albeit reshaped by the communists ideological intolerance, at expense of a country, which after the disappearance of Tito's authority, had, in consequence to fall apart. Ideologically relying on old Comintern concepts, which had shaped his thinking and attached by tradition to the Habsburg points of view on the national question, Tito, a Croat by nationality, was in a position to do to the Serbs what the last Habsburgs could not - to divide up their spacial extend, bringing it down to the borders that the Dual Monarchy was ready to recognize in favour of Serbia. All of that was done in the name of the Yugoslav idea with which the Serbs identified themselves without restraint.

At the expense of the Serbs, all the other nations in the Yugoslav communist federation completed their own national integrations (including Bosnia-Herzegovina where Muslim population recognized as a nationality aspired to create an ethnically Muslim communist republic), and this with the blessing of the Titoist-type national-communism. (The Constitution of 1974 defined Yugoslavia as a loose federation, actually, it appeared to be a confederation united only by Tito's iron authority.)

In the doctrinal absolutism of communist ideology, the clerical variant of national integration, with its aims and its characteristics - xenophobia and intolerance similar to the one from the age of Austria-Hungary - found a good framework for challenging all liberal and democratic, authentically European principles, in the name of which Yugoslavia was originally created.

The article was published in:
Dialogue, N° 7/8, septembre-décembre 1994, Paris 1994, pp. 5-13.

Dusan T. Batakovic