Pogledaj Full Version : A Nation Actually Too Proud to Fight

Željko Zidarić
10th-March-2012, 06:29 PM
Published: May 14, 1922 Copyright © The New York Times

Croatia Wants to Be a Republic, But Will Not Use Force.

Memorializes Genoa Conferencein a Remarkable Document, Hitherto Unpublished.

On the eve of the Genoa conference the Croatian Deputies of the Jugoslav Parliament, from which body they seceded when, a year ago, it became evident that the Constitution of the monarchy of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was to be for an autocratic Greater Serbia and not for a Federation of South Slav States, unanimously addressed a resolution to the conference praying that the intelligence and sympathy of the statesmen assembled at Genoa should prevent Croatia from being dominated by Serbia.

On May 9 the news reached Bari delle Puglic, on the Italian Adriatic coast, and was cabled to this country that the Croats had proclaimed an independent republic and that a Government had been inaugurated with Stephen Raditch as President of the Counsel. On the following day the Serbian Legation at Geneva informed the League of Nations that it was not true that an independent republic had been "established," although it admitted that the Croatian population had for some time resented the domination of Serbia "and ever since the union of all Jugoslavs have been trying to break away from the Belgrade Government, but without decisive results."

The memorial sent to Genoa throws a flood of light upon the subject. It is not known whether it ever reached its destination or, reaching it, was entertained by the conference, but is is here published for the first time. Diplomats consider it to be one of the most remarkable documents of its kind. Like the manifesto issued by M. Raditch, a year ago, it admits the common ethnic origin of the Croats and Serbs, but declares that the former received their education from Western and Central Europe and not from the East, which, by inference, makes their culture superior to that of the Serbs. Also like the Raditch manifesto, it solemnly declares that whatever their sufferings the Croats will not take up arms in defense of their inalienable rights, preferring to leave their case to the judgement of "enlightened democracies." The Raditch manifesto had said on this point:

"If a revolution broke out in Croatia it would be against my will, and the responsibility would rest with the people and not with me. I am also opposed to revolution, because we have no arms. If foreigners were to supply arms it would involve obligations on our part, and in that case we should be fighting for foreign interests."

Why Croatia will not fight against Serbia, although it does not wish her to subjugate Croatia, but why, to use M. Raditch's own words, "We do not fear this struggle, for we are stronger," is explained in the memorial unanimously adopted by the sixty-three Deputies of the Croatian bloc sitting at Zagreb, the ancient capital of the Crownland of Croatia. It relates many things which have been going on far behind the scenes, while the seemingly more portentous dramas were being staged by the great powers.

"We Croats entered European history as a civilized and self-conscious nation and founded in the second half of the ninth century an independent State, composed of the Croatian littoral on the Adriatic in the ancient Dalmatia of the Romans and of the Croatia on the Danube in a part of the ancient Upper Panonia of the Romans.

"The Croatian Nation and State received their political and literary education from Western Europe--from Italy and France--and their economic and social organization from Central Europe--from Austria, Germany and Bohemia. In this way the Italian Renaissance brought about a Croatian Renaissance in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; the French Revolution achieved a political and liberal movement either by its direct influence on the Croatian littoral and Danubian Croatia, or by the effect of its ideas, during which time ideas of economic and social progress were introduced into Croatia by means of an administration and an academic German system.

"Croatian nationalism, therefore, has its source in the humanitarian individualism of a universal Church (the Roman Catholic) and Croatian society is entirely a matter of European development, both in literature and education.

"The political independence of Croatia has never been legally interrupted and Croatia has always had the possession of a State possessing its own territory, Parliament and Government. During the World War the Croatian Diet at Zagreb was one of the few European Parliaments which never lost sight of the unity of European interests or of those of the world.

"The Croatian soldiers during the World War quickly revolted on the Russian front, and, even before the end of the war, these soldiers and the Croatian people became entirely inspired with sincere pacifism and democratic republicanism...

"This is why the Croat, led by Deputy Raditch, took part in the great demonstrations of the Bohemians at Prague on April 13, 1918; this is why, on Sept. 22, 1918, the Croatian Parliamentary opposition voted against the diplomatic note of Count Burian, then Minister of Charles I. of the Hapsburgs, and elected delegates to the Peace Conference on the distinct understanding that they should represent the Croatian Nation; this is why the National Council of Zagreb, in the beginning of October, 1918, grouped around independent Croatia all the Jugoslav countries of former Austria-Hungary in a free and prosperous federation similar to that of the American...

"The proclamation of complete independence of Croatia, unanimously voted by the Croatian Parliament on Oct. 29, 1918, was, therefore, the logical consequence of the politics and culture which Croatia had been developing for more than a thousand years, and all the more so because when it proclaimed the independence of Croatia the Croatian Parliament expressed the wish to found a Federal State with the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro under conditions brought about by national groups and not by the votes of self-proclaimed leaders.

"Serbian politicians counteracted against all these designs by proclaiming the domination of the Monarchy of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on Dec. 1, 1918, without even having asked the consent of the Croatian Parliament, much less of the Croatian Nation. The convention of the Croat Peasant party of Nov. 25, 1918, where 2,832 delegates, in the name of 50,000 constituents declared for the neutral Republic of Croatia; the extraordinary convention of the same party, held on Feb. 3, 1919, where the 6,872 delegates in the name of 150,000 constituents proclaimed their firm will to defend to the last the right of self-determination of the Nation and State of Croatia against the tyranny of the Belgrade Government; the petition of the same party covered with 167,000 signatures sent at the end of May, 1919, to the Peace Conference at Paris; the plebiscite of the republic itself which took place on Nov. 28, 1920 (the day of the electons for the Constituent Assembly of Belgrade), affirming the right, pure and simple, of self-determination for the Nation and State of Croatia--all these manifestations emphasizing the popular will counted as nothing with the politicians of Serbia so badly advised that they began to praise their regime already bearing down upon Croatian political and national individuality as well as upon its economics and culture.

"The magnificent proclamation of the neutral Republic of Croatia of Dec. 8, 1920 at Zagreb... did not prevent the Serbian Government of Belgrade from continuing its violent and savage policy against the people.

"The Balkanization of Croatia was the result, and this Balkanization is full of danger for the rest of Europe and for the peace of the world...

"The details of the program of the Nation and State of Croatia are contained in the Constitution of the neutral Republic of Croatia of June 26, 1921, and the Croatian Nation will omit no means, armed revolution excepted (the case of armed defense for the national existence is well understood by the people, however), knowing well that if they labor peacefully they will little by little gain the sympathy and moral support of all really enlightened statesmen and of all nations truly civilized.

"Zagreb, Capital of Croatia, Jan. 14, 1922."
(This memorial is signed by 63 Deputies of the Croatian Bloc).