Empowerer

The period of Croatia within ex-Yugoslavia (1918-1941, 1945-1991)

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© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)

It is interesting that the greatest promoters of creating a state of the Southern Slavs, i.e. the idea of Yugoslavia, were the Croats (Josip Juraj Strossmayer on the first place), but they did not conceive of it as the centralized, Serb-dominated state. Their aim was to preserve the Croatian national identity and the sovereignty of Croatia and to organize the new state of South Slavs on a confederative basis.
See Strossmayer's absolute no to union with Serbs by academician Josip Pecaric (in Croatian).

That is why the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, established in 1918, did not obtain the confirmation and permission of the Croatian Parliament. This state, created in 1918 from the Austro-Hungarian part, (Slovenia, Croatia, Vojvodina, Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Serbia and Montenegro, which were opposing sides during the First World War (1914-1918), contained a germ of numerous future conflicts. It was composed of different traditions, religions, nations, languages and scripts.

At that time the region of Vojvodina did not include Srijem (the territory between rivers Sava and Danube), that before 1918 belonged to Croatia. Vojvodina belonged to Hungary before 1918.

The idea of Yugoslavia was in fact the best opportunity for Serbian nationalists to create the Greater Serbia, which was completed in 1918 according to the 1844 secret program. Montenegro lost its independence in 1918 after being brutally annexed to Serbia. The independence of Montenegro was regained in 1945 within the Tito's Yugoslavia.

The whole property of the Austro-Hungarian state and booty was confiscated by the Serbian authorities. Immediately after 1918 all the leading positions in the army were seized by Serbian officers, who treated Croatia as a hostile territory in the common state (it was publicly declared in 1919!). On the other hand, it was presented to Europe as if the Croats had entered willingly the union with Serbia.

The Serbian legislature, juridical and military 19th century law was simply implemented into the new state without changes and without consultations with the Croats. It resulted in unbearable terror and persecutions of Croatian peasants and intellectuals. Croatian teachers were retired and persecuted.

Equally difficult was the economic terror of the Belgrade government. The Croats were not proportionally represented in the government and diplomatic corps. The old currencies - Serbian dinars and Croatian (Austrian) crowns, which in 1918 had the same value, were in 1919 changed for the new dinar in the following ratio: 1 dinar = 4 crowns!

On the other hand,

  • taxes were lower in Serbia,
  • the major part of foreign loans was spent in Serbia,
  • high administrative posts were filled exclusively with the Serbs (civil servants in Croatia were appointed by the central administration in Belgrade).



Very cruel persecutions of the Muslims by the Serbs resulted in their massive emigration to Turkey soon after the foundation of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, where Serbia was the leading and privileged nation. The same happened to several hundred thousand Muslims soon after the Second World War. We have witnessed the same persecutions since 1992. Only in the first half of 1992 about 250,000 Croats and Muslims were exiled from Bosnia to Croatia, as an adding to its own 350,000 citizens exiled from the occupied areas.

One of the most outstanding and most popular personalities in the Croatian political history was Stjepan Radic (1871-1928), the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party, assassinated in the Yugoslav parliament in Belgrade (capital of present Serbia) in 1928 together with his colleagues. The assassination was organized at the Royal court in Belgrade. Radic strived to renew the Croatian sovereignty and the economic and cultural emancipation of Croatia. He wanted the state of the Southern Slavs to be reorganized on confederative basis, without Serbian hegemony.



For more information see:

Stjepan Radic, His Life - His party - His politics, written by Ante Cuvalo,
The significance of Stjepan Radic to the Croatian nation in the past and present (1825-1871), by Jure Petricevic
Stjepan Radic: The Russian branch of our Jelacic's

Stjepan Radic completed his studies in France, on École Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris, with the thesis La Croatie actuelle et les Slaves du sud.

During the 1991-1998 Serbian occupation of the city of Vukovar, one of its streets was renamed after Radic's assassin. International community insists on Croatia that the name of assassin of one of greatest Croats of the 20th century is left for the time being. It seems that the Croats will endure this insult, in the name of peaceful reintegration of the Vukovar region which had started in the beginning of 1998 under the auspices of UN.


The culmination of the Serbian police terror took place during the personal dictatorship of king Aleksandar Karadzordevic since 1929. One of the historical documents from that period, showing `methods' of the Serbian police and administration, is a bill on 13 dinars and 15 paras charged to a Croatian family in 1934 for five bullets fired at the father, who was sentenced to death. The families were persuaded even to pay the `expenses' of the execution within eight days, under the threat of confiscation of their property. Croatian archbishop Alojzije Stepinac reported about this event to the French diplomat Ernest Pezet in 1935.
For more details see

  • A photocopy of the bill received by the son of Ivan Varga to pay 13.15 dinars for the five bullets by which his father was killed on January 11, 1934 (see the bottom of the page).
  • [Cristophe Dolbeau], and Marija Novak: "Stepinac o srpskom teroru u Meddimurju", Glas koncila, May 17, 1998, p. 20.



Belgrade made use of the world economic crises in 1929 to destroy the Croatian banking system, which had been the strongest in Yugoslavia.

Out of 165 active army generals of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1929 - 1941) only 2 were the Croats, and - 161 Serbs. In 1937, out of 22 Yugoslav ambassadors 20 were Serbs and only two Croats, see [Peric, p 42].

All this led to the formation of the Croatian separatist group called Ustasha, which gathered around Ante Pavelic (1889-1959). It had been supported by the fascist Italy.

Croatian scientists were also victims of the Greater-Serbian terror. So Milan Sufflay, historian of international reputation known by his numerous scientific contributions, especially in the field of albanology, was assassinated by a steel rod on a street in the center of Zagreb in 1931. After the dramatic events that followed, Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann sent an appeal to the International League of Human Rights in Paris to protect Croats from the terror and persecutions of the Serbian police. It was also published in the New York Times (6th May 1931). As we learn from this letter, the newspapers in Zagreb were not allowed to report about Sufflay's activity; it was not allowed to attach a half-mast flag on the main building of the University of Zagreb in his honour; the time of the funeral could not be announced publicly, and even condolence messages were not allowed to be telegraphed. In their letter Einstein and Mann hold the Yugoslav king Aleksandar explicitly responsible for the state terror over the Croats. The letter concludes that it should not be tolerated that killings be allowed as a means to achieve political goals. We should not allow killers to be promoted as national heroes. The king himself was assassinated by a Macedonian patriot in Marseille in 1934 (there are indications that there was a collaboration of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization with the Ustasha organization).

  • Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann: Appeal on the occasion of killing of Professor Milan Sufflay in Zagreb
  • New York Times (May 6, 1931): Einstein Accuses Yugoslavian Rulers in Savant's Murder,
  • A Letter of Protest sent by American intellectuals organized by Roger N. Baldwin, Chairman of the International Committee for Political Prisoners, to the Yugoslav representative in Washington on November 24, 1933.




Milan Sufflay at the funeral of Stjepan Radic in 1928, Zagreb
copyright by [Darko Sagrak: Dr Milan pl. Sufflay...], on this web with permission

An extremely valuable account on the terrorist methods of the Pan-Serbs in Yugoslavia between the two WWs has been written by Henri Pozzi, a brave French diplomat (his mother was English) and a close witness, in his book Black Hand over Europe, London, 1935. "Black hand" is the name of the Pan-Serbian secret terrorist organization, very close to the Royal court in Belgrade. It was the "Black hand" that organized the assassination of the Austrian archduke Ferdinand Habsburg in Sarajevo in 1914, which meant the beginning of the First WW.
The book contains an important article The Story of the Black Hand and the Great War by a Montenegrin intellectual Voislav M. Petrovich, p. 243-267. He committed suicide in London in 1934 after a violent campaign instituted against him and threats of the Black Hand. It is interesting that Petrovich had published a Serbian grammar in London in which he succeeded in getting the English Press to use the word "Serbia" instead of "Servia".

All the best posts in Croatia were occupied by the Serbs. Around 1930 the situation in Croatia was to following (see Henri Pozzi, p.35):

at the Croatian ministry of the Interior 113 out of 125 officials were Serbs,
at the Foreign office 180 out of 219,
at the Presidency of the council 13 out of 13,
at the Ministry of Justice 113 out of 136,
at the Securities Bank 196 out of 200,
at the Court 30 out of 31.
Croatia had to keep about sixty thousand Serb gendarmes, police and soldiers.
In 1934 the Croatian community in the USA sent

APPEAL TO THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS (now UN)
with 43,000 signatures of American Croats. The petition urged the League to secure the independence of Croatia from Yugoslavia on the plea that Yugoslavia was mistreating the Croats. It was initiated by Ivan A. Stipanovic (1890-1970), a parish priest in Youngstown, Ohio, USA. The petition began with a reference to Woodrow Wilson's plea for the right of self-determination. The memorandum was sent to embassies of all nations represented in the USA and to the Pope Pius at Rome. Signatures were collected during 1932 and 1933 in 26 American states, Washington, and in three provinces in Canada, and all of them authenticated by notaries public in these states. The petition was soon stolen from the Geneva archives of the League of Nations, see an article published in Youngstown Vindicator, 10th December 1934.

The tendency of administrative parcelization of Croatia that started in 1922 was revised by the establishment of the autonomous Croatia - Banovina Hrvatska - in 1939. It also included parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After the military defeat of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, parts of Croatia were annexed to Italy and Hungary, and the rest of Croatia was occupied by the Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. In this part of Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina the occupational forces enabled the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH, Nezavisna drzava Hrvatska, 1941-1945), with its own fascist ustasha order introduced from Italy and Germany, and with Ante Pavelic as its president. It brought misfortune to many Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and Croats. The aim of the Ustasha regime was to have ethnically pure Croatian territories. Mass executions were organized in the infamous Jasenovac concentration camp, similar to those in Germany and Poland. A part of captives has been left to the German occupational rule in NDH and transported to concentration camps in Germany and Poland. There is no doubt that this was the darkest period of the Croatian history. For those wishing to obtain a more complete information on the history of Independent state of Croatia we recommend to consult an essay of Sentija in [Macan, Sentija]. We also recommend you to consult an extensive book of [Paul Garde].

John Kraljic (New York, USA): The New York Times, Croatia and History

Disappointment with the NDH came very soon. Forty days after its proclamation there came the "Rome agreement", in fact a dictate of the fascist Italy (Pavelic's protector in time of his emigration), by which large parts of Croatian national territory, including Dalmatia, had to be ceded to Italy, and Medimurje to Horthy's Hungary. The vassal status of NDH towards Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy greatly reduced the initial support that NDH enjoyed among the Croats.

The Independent state of Croatia (NDH), though awaited by many who wanted to get rid of the Yugoslav terror, led to the new tragedy of the Croats. They were divided in two opposing parts - those who supported the Independent State of Croatia, and those who joined the Antifascist movement, which fought for the new Yugoslavia on federative basis, where the Croatian state would enjoy the same rights as others. Thus, however contradictory it may seem, both opposing parts of the Croatian population fought for the same goal - for free Croatia.

It should be noted that, though NDH had its fascist ustasha order introduced from Italy and Germany, never in the history there was any fascist (or ustasha) party in Croatia. This is a clear indication of the negative attitude of great majority of the Croats towards Fascism. On the other hand, in 1941 the Serbian Fascist Party has been founded in Belgrade by Dimitrije Ljotic, the principal Fascist ideologist of Serbia, Nedic's second in command. The Serbian government under General Milan Nedic, a close collaborator of the Nazi officials, proclaimed Belgrade to be the first "Judenfrei" city in Europe (see [Cohen] in Helsinki or Cohen's important book for more details). Belgrade was the only European capital that had concentration camps exclusively for Jews (Sajmiste and Banjica), see e.g. [Pecaric]. There are no holocaust memorial tablets in Belgrade, as is the case in the similar camps elsewhere in Europe. It is estimated that the number of victims is comparable to that in the Jasenovac camp.

Croatian population was mostly peasant, politically organized in the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), by far the strongest in the country before 1941. Its strength stem from the popularity of Stjepan Radic, killed in the Belgrade parliament in 1928. Vladko Macek, who took over the leadership of HSS after Radic's assassination, had been imprisoned by the Ustasha regime in 1941 in Jasenovac, and then kept in custody. When the WW2 ended and Tito's communist regime started, the Croatian Peasant Party was forbidden.

An amazing antifascist case of "Stadium" in Croatian capital Zagreb is for sure without precedent in the history of WW2, in the part of Europe already occupied by nazists and fascists. In May 26, 1941, all secondary school pupils in Zagreb had to gather on a city stadium, lined in ranks. The ustasha officials ordered all Jews and Serbs to step forward. And what happened? ALL PUPILS stepped forward - Croats, Jews, and Serbs - aware of the police terror that awaited them.

On the other hand (also without precedent in the history of WW2), three months later, August 13, 1941, "An appeal to Serbian people" was signed by 545 leading Serbian intellectuals in Belgrade, including four archbishops, at least 81 university professors, artsits, etc. Two of the best known intellectuals are Aleksandar Belich, a linguist, one of the "scientific" founders of Greater Serbian program, and Viktor Novak, who became ardent communist after 1945, and wrote a voluminous Magnum Crimen accusing the Catholic Church and Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac for "collaboration with ustashis" (its "reliability" is well known; of course, his books are extensively cited by Serbian sources). The "Appeal" represented a public call to support Nazi occupying forces and local quislings in Serbia. Many of the signatories (the complete list can be seen in [Cohen], p. 158-172) became important figures after 1945 in Tito's Yugoslavia (!), and 28 of them even members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. This Academy has created intellectual program for the unsuccessful project of Greater Serbia, i.e. Serbia extended to BiH and a large part of Croatia.

It is very little known that the famous Sarajevo Haggadah (Jewish Bible) has been saved from German Nazis by Jozo Petricevic, director of the Sarajevo Museum in 1941.

Here we would like to mention a tragic fate of a division composed of about 500-1000 Catholic and Muslim Croats which has been sent by force to France in 1943 by the Nazis in order to fight there. Originally this division was predicted to act as a defensive formation exclusively on the Croatian soil. A rebellion of the Croatian troops which took place in Villefranche-de-Rouergue (capital of an arrondissement in the region of Aveyron) in September 1943 shows clearly the patriotism of Croatian soldiers. The goal of the rebellion within Nazi troops was to approach the French Liberation Movement and Anglo-Americans, and then to come back to Croatia. It had a tragic outcome, with only a few who managed to escape. This rebellion, the first within the Nazi military system during the WW2, was highly esteemed by the French citizens of Villefranche-de-Rouergue.



When the city was liberated in 1944, they decided to pay tribute to these tragic victims by naming one of its streets as Avenue des Croates. The French witnesses called this insurrection la révolte des Croates. According to Louis Erignac, Villefranche-de-Rouergue was the first free city of occupied France. Even today citizens of the city regularly commemorate this tragic event (September 14th). In 1952 the participants of the Croatian Partisan Movement planned to build up a memorial to the Croatian victims in Villefranche-de-Rouergue (with a sculpture of Vanja Radaus), but this has been prevented by the (ex)Yugoslav government in Belgrade under the pretext that in this way the "quislings" would be honoured. For more details see [Croatie/France], and a monograph [Grmek, Lambrichs] related to this subject.

See also Louis Erignac: La révolte des Croates, published in 1980 and 1988.
Yves Molly, a French poet, wrote a poem Fils de Croatie (Croatian sons).
Croatia gave a great contribution to the victory of the Antifascist coalition in the Second World War. Out of all the brigades and divisions of Tito's Liberation Movement created on the territory of former Yugoslavia, the great majority was from Croatia.

We find it pertinent to cite the following words of Georges-Marie Chenu, Ministre plénipotentiaire, the first Ambassador of France in Zagreb (1992-94), see [Gregory Peroche], p. 10:


Pendant trop longtemps, l'opinion publique française ignora que, parmi les résistants au nazisme dans la région, plus de la moitié étaient croates ou slovčnes et qu'au début de 1944 - les combats se prolongčrent aprčs la capitulation du Reich - il y avait en Croatie autant de résistants actifs qu'en France, pays neuf fois plus peuplé!
Stjepan Filipovic (1916 -1942), a Croatian antifascist born in Opuzen, in Dalmatian part of Croatia, was hanged publicly in the city of Valjevo in Serbia. The beginning of WW2 found him in Serbia where he was working as a factory worker. His grand monument in Valjevo still exists, with his serbized name (Stevan). Present Serbain sources (as well as former Yugoslav sources) present him as a Serb hanged by the Germans. There exists a photo taken just a moment before his hanging, where one can clearly see Serbian chetniks together with German officers, one of many proofs of their very close collaboration. This amazing photo of a victim of the fascist terror is also exhibited in the building of UN in New York. Whose terror? The nationality of this Croatian victim of the Serbian and German Fascism is not indicated. See [Ljubica Stefan] for more details.



Petar Perica (1881-1944) composed two sacral songs still extremely popular among the Croats: Do nebesa nek se ori (in 1900, at the age of 19) and Rajska Djevo (in 1904, at the age of 23). In 1901 he entered the Society of Jesus. Killed by communist partisans in 1944 on the islet of Daksa near Dubrovnik.

Hrvoje Kacic: "Dubrovacke zrtve", Jugokomunisticki teror na hrvatskom jugu 1944. i poratnim godinama (pocetak Bleiburga)

After the capitulation of Italy in 1943 the Anti-fascist council for the national liberation of Croatia (ZAVNOH) decided to join Istria, Rijeka, Zadar, the islands and other occupied areas to Croatia. All agreements made by the NDH and the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the fascist Italy were torn up.

Not only the Croats participated in the Anti-fascist war in Croatia, but also a part of the Serbian minority in Croatia and many other ethnical groups. A part of Serbs in Croatia joined the Greater-Serbian extremist organization (chetniks) which collaborated with the occupational forces.

The mass crimes against the Croats and Muslim Slavs committed by the Serbian chetnik movement were particularly cruel. The aim was to create ethnically pure Greater Serbia that would include Bosnia-Herzegovina and a large part of Croatia.

Ljubica Stefan: Americko gostoprimstvo zlocincu Momcilu Djuicu, Hrvatsko Slovo, November 6, 1998

By the end of the Second World War the remaining parts of the NDH Army together with many civilians began to withdraw to Austria, and in the battles until 15 May 1945 they surrendered to the Yugoslav Army, which surrounded them. Many people who flew to Austria in mid-May 1945, were sent back by the British military authorities (who had jurisdiction over a part of Austria) to the Yugoslav partisans. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civil captives were killed after the capitulation. The symbol of the Croatian tragedy is the slaughter of Croats near the city of Bleiburg in Austria. Those who were not killed immediately, were forced to walk up to 700-800 km. (the infamous "death marches") with mass executions on the way, organized mostly by Serbian partisan officers. These death marches are known among the Croats as "krizni put" (Way of the Cross). Many sites of mass executions were discovered throughout Croatia and Slovenia after democratic changes in 1990.

For more information see [Tolstoy] and [Zugaj],
Zvonko Springer (Salzburg): Withdrawal and Death March, ...During recent construction works [in 2000] of a highway near Maribor (Republic of Slovenia) the roadbed crossed a filled in 1941 anti-tank trench whose length, one reckons, was some 2.5km. On the excavated part of it of some 70m one found and had to remove thousands of bones of some 1,200 skeletons of entirely decomposed male bodies. Considering some 15 skeletons per meter (!) in that excavated trench part only, one derives to say over 30,000 killed males being buried there... [the place of this horrific mass slaughter in Slovenia is still not marked by any visible sign].
In 1999 the resources from the Republic of Slovenia reported of as many as 110 mass graves of Croats discovered in this state, victims of the "Way of the Cross" in 1945 immediately after the end of WW2. Among them there were not only soldiers, but also a large number of civilians. The Slovenian public was shocked by the size and number of these graves.
In 2001 Slovenian sources reported of as many as 296 mass graves on their territory, and an estimate of about 190,000 Croats killed immediately after the end of WW2 (May 1945 and later), mostly Croats. Only in the region of Tezno woods Slovenian sources estimate about 60-80,000 killed. Many children bones have been found among the remains victims.
Pieteta
It is sad that the Croats in present day Slovenia do not enjoy the status of national minority, contrary to the much smaller Slovenian community in Croatia. Note that the second name Horvat is among the most widespread in Slovenia.

See a list of 456 Croatian Catholic priests, theology students and religious brothers killed by communists and Serbian chetniks in the former Yugoslavia during and after World War II, written by Ante Cuvalo. A detailed and well documented scholarly monograph concerning the chetnik crimes in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina is [Dizdar, Sobolevski].

One of the great tragedies of the Second World War was the slaughter of 12,000 Polish officers in the Katyn wood (Poland) in 1940. Also a mass grave with more than thousand Ukrainian peasants and workers in Vinica (Ukraine), killed in 1938, was found by Germans. The Soviets accused Germans for these horrible crimes, and vice versa. Among leading European experts from 12 countries in pathological anatomy, two Croatian specialists were invited by the International Committee of the Red Cross to take part in the investigation in 1943: prof.dr. Eduard Miloslavic and prof.dr. Ljudevit Jurak. The result was that this cold-blooded mass slaughter was committed by the Soviets. Prof.dr. Miloslavic emigrated in time from ex-Yugoslavia to the USA by the end of WWII, while prof. Jurak remained in Zagreb, and was imprisoned on the demand of the Russian NKVD by the Yugoslav communists in May 1945. It was offered to him that he would not be accused as a military criminal and that his life would be spared if he declared that his report for the Red Cross Committee had been signed under pressure. He refused to do so, fully aware of the consequence.
For example, NKVD officers forced Bulgarian specialist Markov to withdraw his signature under the threat of death sentence.
Ljubica Stefan: Ljudevit Jurak - nasa rana i ponos.

Dr. Edward L. Miloslavich Croatian investigator of the Katyn Forest tragedy

It is a well known fact that the Jasenovac concentration camp is a symbol of the fascist terror in Croatia during the WW2. However, it is not widely known that the same concentration camp served to the communist regime during several years after the WW2, where many innocent Croats have been killed until the end of 1947 without any trial. Thus Jasenovac is a place of both

fascist terror (1941-1945) and
communist terror (1945-1947) in Croatia.
Altogether 62 Yugoslav concentration camps are known to have existed in the period from 1945-1951 (including the Jasenovac camp from 1945-1947), with unknown number of victims of communist terror, see here.
Very indicative is the fact that Tito (1892-1980), president of former Yugoslavia, never payed a visit to Jasenovac.

There are more than hudred persons in Croatia who obtained "The Certificate of Honour" and "The Medal of the Righteous" from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem till now, for

saving the Jews in Croatia during the WW2.
To our knowledge there are at least eight National Heroes of the USA that are of the Croatian descent or having Croatian ancestry. One of them is Petar Tomic (Tonic -> Tomic is his clan-surname, originally Petar Herceg). He lost his life while saving the crew on the warship "US Utah AG-16" when it was bombed in the battle for Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was a member of the Croatian Fraternal Union, USA, and was born in Herzegovina in Prolog near Ljubuski. President Franklin Roosewelt awarded him posthumously for his courage by the Medal of Honour. In 1942 a new warship "Tomich DE-242" was built in the USA, that was named after him.
Due to initiative of Adam S. Eterovich, USA, his relatives were found in 1997 after more than 50 years of search, and in order to deliver the medal his birthplace in Herzegovina was visited by US admiral J. Robert Lunney.

Saving the USA soldiers in Croatia during the WWII

Andrija Hebrang (1899-1948), one of the leaders of Tito's partisan movement in Croatia, was killed brutally in Belgrade (date unknown) after being unjustly imprisoned in 1948. Like Stjepan Radic, he wanted Yugoslavia to be organized on the confederative basis.



A symbol of the spiritual resistance against the Yugoslav communist regime was the Croatian Cardinal Dr. Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960). In 1946 he was sentenced to 16 year's imprisonment. He stayed in custody until his death, despite many protests coming from the free world. During the communist period in Croatia (1945-1990) he had been designated as a military criminal even in school textbooks.

The Yugoslav diplomatic personnel, which was mostly Serbian, together with the well organized Belgrade propaganda, made an attempt to stigmatize the Croats as apt to genocide, by assigning all the victims of the war to the Croats, including those killed by partisans, during and immediately after the Second World War. As a result of this, even today we hear from some very uncritical Western intellectuals to operate with quite irrational ciphers. An important monograph about population losses in former Yugoslavia in 1941-1945 is [Zerjavic]. See also

The Inventions and Lies of Dr Bulajic on Internet, discussing the number of victims of WW2, Jasenovac, etc., written by the leading authority - Vladimir Zerjavic.

It is not possible to describe, even in outlines, the extent of the martyrdom of the Croatian emigrants, and the persecutions of the Yugoslav secret police that followed after 1945, so that here we shall mention it only in passing.

One of outstanding Croatian emigrants was Ante Ciliga (born in Istria, Segotica near Vodnjan, 1898 - 1992) who spent 6 years in Russian concentration camps: 1930 - 1936. His book Au pays du grand mensonge, Paris 1938 (In the land of great lie) revealed the truth about stalinist concentration camps to the world audience. It is probably the first anti-stalinist book, translated into many languages, including Japanese. He also spent one year (1942/1943) imprisoned in the Jasenovac concentration camp. Other books: The Russian Enigma, London 1940, Il labirinto jugoslavo, Rome 1983.

Related web page: Stjepan Tomislav Poglajen or Tomislav Kolakovic (1906-1990)

Great importance in the recent history of Croatia had the Declaration about the Name and Position of the Croatian Literary Language (Zagreb, 1967). The declaration asked for the right of the Croats to call their language by their own national name - the Croatian language, to enable its unimpeded development, and expressed a protest against the Serbian predominance in official texts in Croatia. It was signed by 130 leading Croatian writers and linguists (including Miroslav Krleza), many of whom were then persecuted and maltreated by the Yugoslav police.

In order to be more clear, it will be necessary to make the following comparison. The history of the Serbian literary language started in the 19th century with Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, who wrote the Serbian dictionary, published in Vienna in 1818. On the other hand, Croatian literary language had already centuries of rich history, starting with the important Baska glagolitic tablet carved by the end of 11th century. Until the 19th century the Croats already had numerous dictionaries, the earliest being from the 16th century. Let us list the authors of eight of the most important Croatian dictionaries published before 1818:

Faust Vrancic (1595, Venice);
Jakov Mikalja (Giacomo Micaglia, 1649, Loreto, 1651 Ancona); it is interesting that Mikalja founded the first school for Croatian children in Temisoara in Romania;
Juraj Habdelic, Dikcionar ili reci slovenske (1670, Graz);
Ardelio della Bella (1728, Venice; 1785, Dubrovnik);
Ivan Belostenec (1740, Zagreb);
Andrija Jambresic, Franjo Susnik (Zagreb, 1742);
Joso Voltiggi (1803, Vienna);
Joakim Stulli (1801, Budapest; 1806, 1810, Dubrovnik).
We also know of six unpublished Croatian dictionaries that remained in handwriting, written before the 19th century. We know even of a Croatian - Turkish dictionary from 1631 published in the Arabian Script (critical edition published by Dervish Korkut in 1943).

The things are becoming more clear if one knows that Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic borrowed many Croatian words from the monumental dictionary of Joakim Stulli (which has as many as 80,000 lexical units) for the needs of his Serbian dictionary, the first dictionary of the Serbian language. The reform of the writing in the spirit "write as you speak" undertaken by Karadzic in 1818, so that to every sound there corresponds a unique written letter and vice versa, had been performed almost two centuries earlier by a Croat Bartol Kasic (Rituale Romanum, written in the Croatian language, Rome, 1640).

Many toponyms in Croatia obtained distorted names during 1918-1991 Yugoslav period in order to assign them Serbian sound. This is the case even with some towns; see an illuminating article by Zvonimir Bartolic: Beli Manastir (in Croatian).

In the period of ex-Yugoslavia, 70% of the police stuff in Croatia was Serbian, while they constituted 12.2% of the entire population. In some Croatian regions these figures were even more striking: in Istria the police stuff was 82% Serbian, 95% school teachers were the Serbs. The Serbs also occupied almost all the leading positions in majority of the Croatian schools, enterprises and political institutions.

One of the founders of the nonalignment movement, together with presidents Nehru and Naser, was Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980), a Croat born near Zagreb, the president of former Yugoslavia. His great merit was the brave 1948 decision, not to allow the Soviet dictatorship of Stalin. However, he retained a rigid communist system and tolerated the cult of his personality. His attempt to solve the national problem in the former Yugoslavia was not successful in the long run. Although he was a Croat, a great majority of military personnel in the former Yugoslav army was Serbian. This equally applies to the Yugoslav diplomatic personnel and the state administration. The extent of the economic exploitation in favor of Serbia and Yugoslav Army brought Croatia in unequal position within the Yugoslav federation. Especially difficult was the period after Tito's death (1980-1990), when the Yugoslav crisis began to sharpen. It culminated in the Greater-Serbian aggression on Croatia that started in 1991.

The Yugoslav state under Tito had six republics and two autonomous provinces. Each of these eight entities had a town renamed according to Tito's name: Titovo Velenje (in Slovenia), Titova Korenica (in Croatia), Titov Drvar (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Titograd (in Montenegro), Titovo Uzice (in Serba), Titov Veles (in Macedonia), Titov Vrbas (in the then Autonomous region of Vojvodina), and Titova Mitrovica (on the then Autonomous region of Kosovo). In 1990s the prefix "Tito" has been removed from all these eight names.
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  1. Željko Zidarić avatar
    JURE PETRIČEVIĆ: The Significance of Stjepan Radić to the Croatian Nation in the Past and Present

    This essay first appeared in the book "Hrvatski Portreti" – (Croatian Portraits) published by Hrvatska Revija in Switzerland (Book Eleven - Munich - Barcelona, 1973, edited by Lucijan Kordic and Jure Petricevic; translation - Vicko Rendic and Jacques Perret).

    The book "Hrvatski Portreti" is now available on this website.

    THE SIGNIFICANCE OF STJEPAN RADIC TO THE CROATIAN NATION IN THE PAST AND PRESENT (1825-1871)


    by Jure Petricevic

    Stjepan Radic is an eminently great phenomenon in Croatian history; a politician who laid new foundations and went his own way; an organizer of the peasantry and of the whole Croatian nation such as had not appeared in Croatia until then; a great orator and writer; a fearless combatant for humanity, peace and social justice; an advocate of new ideas for the foundation of Croatian state and society. A leader around whom the whole nation gathered, he was rightly called the leader and teacher of the Croatian nation. A martyr who fell under the enemy’s bullet, he gave his life for his humanitarian and patriotic ideals. He dedicated himself to advocating the cause of the peasant party.

    Croats are celebrating the centenary of the birth of Stjepan Radic. Unfortunately the Croatian nation at home cannot freely celebrate this their great son. But Croats all around the world, some openly, some in silence, in their hearts defer to the spirit and ideals of this great Croatian champion. Croats will remember that the coup against Radic was the prelude to the immeasurable sufferings and misfortune of their fatherland which followed and which they beheld. With that in mind they will discover that, in spite of the contempt for human rights for which Radic fought all his life, Croats are determined and unyielding in the fight for those rights and freedoms.

    And we celebrate abroad the life and deeds of Stjepan Radic. We are more closely interested in his ideas, his programs, his work and struggle, his successes and failures, his political legacy and significance for the Croatian people today. At first let us quickly glance over his life. Some of the more salient facts of Radic’s life will facilitate our understanding of his teachings and deeds.


    I. SOME FACTS ABOUT THE LIFE OF STJEPAN RADIC:

    Stjepan Radic was born on May 11th, 1871 of poor peasant parents in the village of Trebarjevo Desno, not far from Sisak. His brother Ante was exactly three years older, being born on May 11th, 1868. Dr. Ante Radic in the main laid the ideological foundations of the Croatian peasant party while Stjepan developed and diffused them among the people.

    Stjepan Radic already as a boy decided never to enter any service, but to dedicate himself to politics, teaching and defending his people. He traveled throughout Croatia as a high-school boy. Because of a demonstration against the Hungarian ban Khuen-Hedervary in Zagreb in 1888, he was jailed and expelled from high school. Later on as a student at the University of Zagreb he was sentenced to four-months’solitary confinement in Sisak and dismissed from the university because of a statement he had made against the same ban. He left university to study in Prague. Later on he travelled to Russia. Radic was expelled fro the University of Prague in 1894. He was enrolled at the outset of 1895 in the University of Budapest, but after burning the Hungarian flag on the occasion of Franz-Joseph’s visit to Zagreb in the fall of 1895, he was expelled from there and banished from all kingdoms and countries represented at the Imperial Council in Vienna.

    After getting out of jail Radic travelled to Russia. From Moscow he went to Paris in 1897 where he enrolled at the Free School of Political Science. He graduated in 1899 cum laude and his dissertation under the title "Contemporary Croatia and the Southern Slavs" was particularly excellent. After his return to Prague and then to Zemun Radic came to the fore as a politician with a superior education. He was jailed again in 1901 and suffered further. Finally he came to Zagreb where he became the secretary of the coalition of opposition parties in Croatia.

    For a long time Radic had prepared for the establishment of the Croatian peasant party founded at the end of 1904. He presided over it from its very inception. He then issued the program of the Croatian peasant party, the first modern social program in Croatia. With his brother Ante he began in 1905 to publish the party organ "Dom"(Home) through which they both politically educated and instructed the Croatian peasantry.

    Radic with his party made scarcely any headway in the elections because of the restrictions placed on the right of peasants to vote. With an insufficient number of votes, the Croatian peasant party received no seats in the elections of 1906. In 1908 it received two seats and Radic made his debut at its representative in the Croatian parliament where he fought for the rights of the Croatian peasantry and for the defense of Croatian statehood in the face of war and Hungarian violence up to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918.

    In 1911 Radic founded the Slavic Bookstore in Zagreb with his wife Marija as a source of financial security for him and his family so that he could live independently. Radic delivered a speech at the momentous session of the Croatian parliament on October 29th, 1918 in which it was resolved than any political union with Hungary must be dissolved and that Croatia must become independent. Next day the parliament transferred its authority to the National Council of the countries of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Backa and Baranja. In a historical speech during the evening session fo the central committee of the National Council on November 28th, 1918, Radic contested the decision on the unification with Serbia and on the dissolution of the Croatian state. He denied the central committee the right to make such a resolution. Even the National Council as a body was not empowered by the nation to reach such a conclusion. He defended the millennium and statehood, advocating an alliance for a federative republic of the South Slavs, including the Bulgarians.

    Later Radic with his party, which received 50 seats in the elections of 1920 and 70 seats in 1923, did not recognize the unification with Serbia nor the Serbian dynasty and its authority in Croatia. Together with the republican majority delegates from the banate of Croatia he sent a message on February 11th, 1921 to the Serbian regent Alexander denying him the right to rule in Croatia and indicting the Belgrade government for lawlessness and violence. Radic and the Croatian people’s delegation boycotted the Belgrade constitutional parliament that had adopted on June 28th, 1921 the constitution of St. Vitus’s day without Croatia’s representation. Under Radic’s leadership the Croatian republican majority delegation approved on April 1st, 1921 the Croatian constitution under the title "Constitution of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia" which was declared on June 26th, 1921, two days before the St. Vitus’ day constitution. Radic was the author of a memorandum to the Croatian national delegation on August 13th, 1922 stressing the declaration of an independent federative republic of Croatia including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slavonia, Banat, Backa and Baranja. He had sent it to the League of Nations on October 29th, 1918. In it he protested the occupation of the federation by Serbia and begged the Council of the League of Nations to recognize the political and national identity of Croatia and to advise the Serbian government to recognize the political identity of Croatia and accordingly to proceed to reach an agreement with Croatia.

    In 1923 Radic visited Paris, London and Moscow in order to seek aid against Serbian occupation and oppression. That mission being a failure, he returned to Zagreb in August 1924. When Pasic and Pribicevic returned once again to power, Radic’s position was precarious. Instead of going abroad again he remained in Zagreb, but incognito, in order to campaign for the elections. The government declared the so-called Law for the Defense of the State on January 1st, 1925, which was directed against the Croatian peasant party. In the elections of February 1925 Radic’s party gained its greatest victory to date, registering over half a million votes but because of the gerrymandering of electoral districts it lost three seats (from 70 to 67).

    Radic’s clandestine status was untenable and he was found out. He was arrested and menaced with a long prison term and the interruption of his work. He then did a complete about-face, changing his tactics from top to bottom, but not his goal. He recognized the constitution and the Karageorgevic dynasty in order to lead the fight against violence, oppression and injustice legitimately and in collaboration with Pribicevic and the Serbian opposition. He and his colleagues participated in government. He attempted to gain a majority in parliament, to affect the reform of the state and to restore the regime to its position in 1918 prior to the unification with Serbia. But the Serbian ruling class with the court taking the initiative organized and brought about an assassination attempt on Radic in the Belgrade parliament on June 20th, 1928. Radic was critically wounded. His nephew Palve Radic and Dr. Juro Basaricek were killed. Two other delegates were critically wounded, Ivan Grandja and Dr. Ivan Pernar. Radic died of his wounds in Zagreb on August 8th, 1928.

    Dr. Vladko Macek was elected as his successor. Not even five months after Radic’s death king Alexander introduced a dictorship on January 6th, 1929. (1)


    II. WHAT WAS RADIC’S DOCTRINE AND HOW DID HE PUT IT INTO EFFECT?

    1. Peasant Reformation

    The French Revolution destroyed the feudal system and proclaimed the political equality of all citizens. After the American Revolution, the French Revolution signified the turning point in the humanization of mankind. The ideas of the French Revolution and of American liberty took hold of Europe and opened up an era of democratic regimes. But in practice the 19th century ushered in the bourgeois regime that in the era of industrialization did not mean social justice. Thus the labour movement appeared with Marxism at it head. Taking the form of communism it precipitated the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, prescribing government by the workers and peasantry but eventually resulting in a dictatorship of an elite party minority lasting to the present day.

    In Western Europe the labour movement and with its Marxism subsided. It evolved from a manifesto for the dictatorship of the proletariat to the socialist movement, which accepted democratic principles and acknowledged accordingly similar political rights to its political adversaries. The socialist parties of Western Europe realized and achieved social justice and the rights of the workingman without revolution and within the framework of peace and development. Today in most free European states they participate in government.

    In Croatia, under the influence of the ideas inherent in the French revolution of 1848, serfdom was abolished, but still the peasants remained socially and politically disadvantaged. Only a small number of peasants had the right to vote. As a class it was economically exploited. The main cause of the condition Radic perceived in the educated gentry, in the alien spirit fostered in the schools of the landed upper class and in the unenlightened peasantry.

    Radic here operated a major revolution. He was seeking all political rights and equality as well as social justice for the peasants. Through his movement and the Croatian peasant party he converted the Croatian peasantry into a political force of the first importance and the main political force in Croatia. Although the peasantry constituted the great majority of the people, only through Radic did it become the political nucleus and basis of the nation. Radic was seeking similar political and social rights for the workers. He aimed at the creation of a Croatian peasant republic in order to realize political and social justice. In that republic the peasant majority would rule democratically.

    As head of the Croatian national delegation after 1918, Radic rallied around himself, through the Croatian peasant party, not only the Croatian peasantry, but also a large part of the intelligentsia and almost all the middle class. Radic thus created a general national movement through the Croatian peasant movement. After the cultural and national revival called Illyrism and the political resurgence proclaimed by Starcevic, Radic forged a new national-social resurgence in Croatia. Today Croats are experiencing a fourth national revival in the struggle for cultural and national identity, economic independence and Croatian statehood.

    2. Defender of Fundamental Human Rights

    Stjepan Radic was a most determined and consequential defender of fundamental human rights. Imbred with a feeling for his rights and freedom for his peasant background, he was also influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution and later by the fourteen-point program of the American president Wilson at the end of World War I. He was the first in Croatia to draw up the political document containing all fundamental human and democratic rights. This is the constitution of the Neutral Peasant Republic of Croatia proclaimed on June 26th, 1921. Here Radic laid down as the foundation of Croatian society a republic based on self-determination of the people, the inviolability of the individual, freedom of movement, the sanctity of the home, security from the censorship of mail and equality of the sexes. Furthermore in the constitution freedom of assembly, of the press and of association is guaranteed. The people are the supreme sovereign.

    Such freedom has been realized in the United States of America, France, England, Switzerland and other Western nations. But those freedoms are non-existant in Croatia or exist only in part, when even today they have not yet materialized. In the contemporary world more and more states are being organized along these foundations. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly provisionally adopted the universal Declaration of Human Rights in accordance with which all states ought to be organized. (2) The fundamental rights and liberties of Radic’s constitution are of lasting value and could be built into the constitution of contemporary Croatia.

    3. Champion of the Croatian State and National Identity

    In the struggle against Hungarian authority in Croatia, Radic always took the stand that the erstwhile Croatia was a separate state under the agreement reached between Hungary and Croatia. He never acknowledged it as a foundation of Croatian politics but only as a weapon in the fight against Hungary in order to preserve old rights. He defined the erstwhile sovereignty of Croatia in the following terms: "Croatia is a state under the agreement or compromise of 1868 whereby it has its own boundaries and its own government which in its principal affairs ought not to be subjected to anyone in this world, save to its own people, that is, a government responsible only to the people (The people appoint the delegates in parliament and the government is accountable to parliament for everything)"(3)

    And then Radic stressed: "And if we remember particularly that the glory and authority of the banate of Croatia are over 1000 years old and that the agreement was reached in 1868 then we will easily understand that the glory and authority of the banate of Croatia are the foundation of the Croatian state, namely that in its constitution lie the rights of the Croatian state. This means that in Croatia neither Hungarian nor German nor Italian nor any other foreigner commands or governs."

    Radic took this same stand even later vis-ŕ-vis the Serbian authority in Croatia. In the Recommendation of the republican majority delegation of the banate of Croatia, headed by Radic, to the Serbian regent Alexander on February 11th, 1921, he stated the following: "It is our duty and our primary irrevocable right that in the name of the Croatian nation and state we proclaim irrevocably null and void the formal petition submitted on December 1st, 1918, to Your Majesty by the 28 members of the interim session of the National Council, only eight of which were members of the Croatian parliament. It was a violation of the letter and spirit of the statue enacted by the Croatian parliament on October 29th, 1918. It was against the express will of the Croatian people corroborated by 157,669 signatures in the petition submitted at the end of April 1919 to the Peace Council in Paris and to the President Wilson himself. The Croatian parliament proclaimed on October 28th, 1918 that Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, together with Rijeka and Medjimurje, was a quite independent state and delegated to the National Council alone supreme power but without the right to delegate that power. At the same time it resolved to join solely a common but not at all united state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs in which the constituent assembly would quite freely determine the form of government, one in which we Croats would never be outvoted in parliament". (4)

    The Recommendation stressed in this way that the proclamation of the monarchy was null and void on the territory of the new Croatian state as proclaimed on October 29th, 1918. "The Serbian monarchy was proclaimed solely by Your Royal Majesty over the entire aforesaid territory merely on the basis of the aforesaid petition of the National Council on December 1st, 1918 which already then was de jure and de facto null and void. The Croatian people in its plebiscite of November 28th, 1920 proclaimed it specifically null and void, such that mere armed force alone contrary to the will and express right of the Croatian people could never maintain in Croatia the terror unparalleled and at the price of innumerable und uninterrupted acts of violence and lawlessness."(4)

    Radic’s idea for a Croatian state comes particularly to the fore in the memorandum of the Croatian national delegation on August 13th, 1922, to the League of Nations in Geneva. It states: "Croatia is, then, entering a new post-war era as a sovereign state and a parliamentary republic. Around this independent Croatia (to which already belongs Medjimurje, the territory between the Drava and the Mura, a wholly Croatian region which up to this date belonged to Hungary) one federative state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs has formed and undited: Bosnia and Herzegovina with their national government at Sarajevo; Slovenia with its national government at Ljubljana; and finally Banat, Backa and Baranja under the government of the National Council in Novi Sad."(5)

    Radic then advocated the idea of a confederation of South Slavs in which each member state would keep its identity. Out of his declarations, programs and papers it becomes clear that, unless Croatia became a member state of such a commonwealth with the full assent of the Croatian people, Radic rejected every other solution and advocated a quite autonomous Croatian state.

    Because of his defense of the Croatian nation’s sovereignty and his advocating of Croatian statehood in pre-war monarchical Yugoslavia the Serbian oligarchy suborned a certain Punisa Racic to assassinate him. Radic ended his life as a defender of Croatia’s national independence.

    Radic, like a great number of the Croatian intelligentsia, in his youth advocated the idea of a national unity of South Slavs, including Bulgarians. But he deliberately devoted himself to preserve the cause of Croatia’s national identity. He argued for the brotherhood of all Slavs in order to create a fraternal Slavic unity under the patronage of "big brother" Russia that would present a great power. Yet later on he revised his position with respect to national unity, although not even before had he advocated Yugoslavism in terms of integral national unity. Concerning this the Croatian republican majority delegation unequivocally declared the following, in the seventh session held on June 26th, 1921 in Zagreb where the constitution of the neutral peasant republic of Croatia was proclaimed: "Croats are in all points of view especially from the political viewpoint a separate nation. No Croatian political party or group had ever had or could have in its program the dissolution of the Croatian nation or the amalgamation of the Croatian nation with another or with a new nation. Therefore, Croats, as a separate nation, seek and reserve for themselves the absolute and unlimited right of self-determination."(6)

    As Croats are a separate nation, so they on the basis of the right of self-determination decide themselves about their fate. They alone have the right to proclaim an independent Croatian state and to enter into alliances and leagues with other states without ever renouncing their sovereignty. Such is the meaning of Radic’s program and struggle for a Croatian republic. Radic’s republic is peaceful and neutral such as is even today the actual situation in Croatia. Of course today in the atomic era of the industrial civilization a peasant society cannot be realized. It is not possible fro the reason that among us the agricultural population has fallen below half of the total number of the population. In Croatia one has to count on a much greater decline in the peasant population approaching the level of that in Western Europe where the agricultural population stands mostly at 5% to 15%. The social structure of the population today is essentially different for Radic’s time and accordingly the peasantry can no longer represent the decisive factor in politics. But Radic’s has shown with his fundamental idea of a neutral and pacific Croatian republic that he was contemporary, far seeing and devoted to the peasants’ rights. He was a modern pioneer of social justice in Croatia.

    4. Radic introduces action and dynamic in Croatian political life

    In view of Radic’s political methodology he is a new phenomenon in Croatian pulbic life. Until the appearance of Radic, political life – ideas, programs, organizations, actions – in the main concerned the narrow stratum of the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. The public, workers, peasants and small artisans played no role in the political life. And in addition to this, politics was predominately limited to basic "statement of faith", learned articles in newspapers with a narrow circulation. In the main politics was a static affair, for the most part inert and unreceptive of the new circumstances and new life. In reaction, Radic criticized this bourgeois and futile approach to politics and introduces a vigorous activity and dynamic in Croatian political life. His public life was marked by an uninterrupted sequence of actions full of surprises and vicissitudes. Never letting out of his sight his financial goal, Radic was an extraordinary tactician knowing how to utilize every new opportunity by masking often his true intentions.

    Radic was a great orator. Before him no one in Croatia as an orator attracted such a huge number of people. More than 10,000 people would come times to hear him speak, often coming from quite far away. Radic was very talented in popularizing his political views but was also the author of many solidly scientific treatises. He had very weak eyesight, approaching blindness. To compensate for this he developed an extraordinary memory thanks to his powerful intellect. The far-sightedness of his spirit was exceptional.

    5. Radic – leader of the people

    From Radic’s successes in the elections it became clear that he was the leader of the Croatian nation. His success was unusual. In the elections of 1920 he received 231,000 votes and 50 seats; in 1923 474,000 votes and 70 seats; in 1925 he reached a peak with 533,000 votes, but only 67 seats because of the Serbian government’s practice of gerrymandering the electoral districts. In the elections of 1927, because he acknowledged the Kavageorgevic dynasty and departed for Belgrade, Radic received far fewer votes (368,000) but 61 seats. The assassination attempt against Radic and his death in 1928 reunited the whole Croatian nation on the principles, which he had formulated.

    Radic’s successor Dr. Vladko Macek became, like Radic, the president of the Croatian peasant party and in fact the leader of the Croatian nation. The great qualities of Radic and the development of circumstances placed him far above his close associates. The whole cause, success and failure of the party were invested in his person. His successor Dr. Vladko Macek automatically acquired the position that Radic had. After the death of Radic, the Croats followed Dr. Macek and the Croatian peasant party as one front in the elections of 1935 and 1938, although not all Croatian voters were members of the Croatian peasant party. On account of the legal decrees in force at that time this party could not enter the elections independently, but only as a part of the opposition coalition on behalf of which Dr. Macek entered the electoral lists as leader of the untied opposition. In the first Jeftic elections of 1935 the Croatian peasant party received about 600,000 votes (of a total of 1,076,000) and 44 seats; in 1938 in the Stojadinovic elections 801,000 votes (of the total 1,365,000) and 44 seats. (7)

    At that time the genuine Croatian national front was reinstated. It had great political force and weight. But that strength soon ebbed away without much result. At the outset of the war the front disintegrated into several opposing camps and certain factors came to the fore that together with unfavourable external precipitated the Croatian nation into disaster.


    III. WHY WAS CROATIAN POLITICS UNSUCCESSFUL AFTER RADIC?

    Radic had united the whole Croatian nation in the struggle to achieve national freedom and social justice, unchaining tremendous forces. Notwithstanding, the Croatian nation had not been liberated these 40 past years, but rather came yet further under foreign yoke until today its existence is actually threatened. External circumstances in any case have aggravated the situation but the main reasons for Croatia’s failures, particularly in the Second World War and after, one should look for within itself, in its political leadership. The external circumstances sometimes, undoubtedly, were favourable to Croatia’s endeavours.

    Why did the great deeds of Radic not suffice to free Croatia? This question we ask once more today on the occasion of every commemoration of Radic. We must seek the answers and reach some conclusion for the future. At first let us put the question thus: what has happened with Radic’s legacy? But concerning the destiny of the Croatian people, Radic followers were not alone to decide, but in great measure the ustace and the Croatian communists.

    1. Radic’s legacy, Macek’s politics

    Dr. Vladko Macek assumed the leadership of the Croatian peasant party and indeed of the whole of Croatian politics after Radic’s death. Because of the royal dictatorship and of his imprisonment, his activity was curtailed and his goals could not be clearly expressed. But later on the direction and aims of Macek’s politics gradually developed. Croatian public opinion at that time began to insist with the greater determination on secession from Belgrade and on the creation of a Croatian state.

    Macek precisely with regard to the crucial question was unclear, obscure and indecisive. By an agreement with the Serbian politician Cvetkovic in 1939, Macek, with the help of the erstwhile regent Prince Paul, achieved certain autonomy for Croatia and indeed affirmed its position. By regarding the territorial boundaries or autonomy it did not represent a final solution to the Croatian question, namely by gaining further concessions and perhaps by some lesser territorial modifications. He embraced the idea of unification with Serbia and of a solution to the Croatian question within the framework of Yugoslavia. He neither advocated nor saw any other solution. This is evident from his attitude during the war when he took the direction of the Croatian peasant party, although his persecution and incarceration at the hands of the Pavelic regime curtailed his activities. From Macek’s memoirs one can also perceive his pro-Yugoslavian orientation. (8)

    The Croatian peasant party under Macek’s leadership committed a fatal error when it joined the Yugoslavian government in exile during the war and especially when its leading members Subasic and Suteja joined Tito’s government at the end of the war. With the act the Croatian question was attenuated at the level of international politics and reduced to the internal question of Yugoslavia. The Western Allies requested this and Macek could readily comply with that request since he himself advocated a Yugoslavian solution to the Croatian question.

    The politics of Macek and the Croatian peasant party facilitated Pavelic’s accession to power and gained him many more followers in Croatia then he had enjoyed before. Pavelic, with his ustace movement, formed the only prevailing political party advocating the idea of a Croatian state.

    The Croatian peasant party in the spirit of Macek’s politics of participation in the Yugoslavian government abroad ceased to lead its own active political life. A great number of delegates in the party did not accept its politics and went of to Pavelic to collaborated with the so-called independent state of Croatia (N.D.H.). Only a small number later on went over to Tito. The most powerful political party before the war, during that difficult and fateful epoch of the war it no longer exercised an active role. The party renounced its role and submitted to external influences. The most powerful Croatian political party passed on during that fateful epoch into a state of lethargy. Indeed that inactivity and indecisiveness did not come suddenly. It was the chief trait of Macek’s politics in general and the reason for which already in the 1930s the Croatian peasant party and its membership declined. It was a great contrast with Radic’s activity and dynamism.

    Macek’s Yugoslavism, his submission to the will of a foreign power and his passivity are important reasons why the great historical legacy of Radic did not benefit the Croats to a marked degree.

    After the war Dr. Juraj Krnjevic effected a decisive reappraisal in the Croatian peasant party with respect to its attitude toward the solution of the Croatian question. In contrast to Macek, he declared himself consistently and decisively against Yugoslavian solution to the Croatian question and in favour of a Croatian state. With his advent at the head of the Croatian peasant party after Macek’s death, the former pro-Yugoslavian policy was abandoned. In connection with this Dr. Krnjevic as president of the Croatian peasant party declared at the Congress of the Croatian peasant organization held in Toronto at the end of August 1969: "Let me make it brief…because of all that it was necessary to hold this congress and to state outright that there is no affair that we of the Croatian peasant party and movement would not be equal to, though supposedly once more we cannot go alone, without "union", without following somebody or other, some Peter or Paul…We stand firmly by the principle of a sovereign Croatian state democratically constituted just as the Croatian nation was in 1920 and 1921 under Radic’s leadership, in accordance with Western civilization and what the free world recognizes as useful to Europe and to mankind." (9)

    Although this attitude can no long correct the fatal political errors of the Croatian peasant party and its consequences in the last war, nevertheless it signifies a major advance. Krnjevic demonstrated the error of Yugoslavism in which the Croatian peasant party under Macek’s leadership was fatally mired. If the leadership of the Croatian peasant party 30 years ago had engaged in politics in that frame of mind, the situation of the Croatian nation would be much better today.

    2. Ante Pavelic’s fatal errors and the road to disaster

    Pavelic was the sole leading Croatian politician before the war who advocated the idea of Croatian statehood and fought for its realization. As far as the relation to foreign powers went he repeated the basic errors of Macek. He subjugated Croatian interests to foreign powers and by his politics substantially contributed to Croatia’s defeats and sufferings during the war and after. Soon after the creation of an independent Croatian state with the so-called Rome agreements of May 18th, 1941, Pavelic ceded to Italy a large part of Croatia’s Adriatic littoral, thereby enabling the Italians to participate in the administration of the remaining coastal zone of the Croatian state of his day. With that Pavelic already at the outset dealt the infant state a heavy blow. Indeed, after the capitulation of Italy on August 8th, 1943, Pavelic revoked those shameful treaties, calling Italy "treacherous allies". But later on after the downfall of fascist Italy he again subordinated Croatia’s interests politically and militarily to the Germans in such measure as to find the fate of the Croatian state closely to Hitler’s Germany. Pavelic never looked for any other external political alliance or course of action. Nor did he affect any other solution. He simply involved the Croatian state totally in the German retreat from Croatia and Germany’s capitulation. Neither in domestic nor in external affairs did Pavelic prepare alternate solution. His fatal politics at the end of the war created the impression to the outside world that only a small group of Croats mattered in the Croatian state and not the immense majority of the Croatian people. Pavelic’s dissolution of the state and the army, on the surface of it, did nothing to alter that impression. This act facilitated the mass killing of Croatian soldiers and civilians during the Bleiburg tragedy, not to mention the persecution and execution of Croats in Yugoslavia for many years after the war.

    3. The Croatian Communist commit Croatia’s fate into Serbian hands

    The Croatian communists repeated the fatal and disastrous errors of those Croatian politicians who in 1918 delivered the Croatian nation into the hands of Alexander Karageorgivic, thereby reducing Croatia to a territory and colony under Serbian occupation. The Croatian communists underestimated the unsolved Croatian national question and indeed partially negated its existence. They blindly committed the fate of Croatia into the hands of Alexander Rankovic and his Udba, of the army and of the Yugoslav federation. Even after the fall of Alexander Rankovic the situation of the Croatian nation was not basically modified. While former colonial peoples achieved national liberation, the Croatian communist authority subjugated its own nation to another. Such a policy not only hampered the forthcoming liberation of Croatia but also presented a danger to the very existence of the Croatian nation.

    These three political factors – the politics of the Croatian peasant party under Macek’s leadership, the politics of Pavelic and of the Croatian communists – are the intrinsic reasons for Croatia’s failures after the death of Radic. They are in great measure to be blamed for the difficult position of the Croatian nation today, more so than the external circumstances.


    IV. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RADIC IN THE PRESENT

    Stjepan Radic elevated himself by his ideas, his work and merits above all parties and groups, becoming the benefactor of the Croatian nation. He represents the model of the staunch defender of its national identity, sovereignty and statehood. Radic as the first Croatian politician proposed as the supreme goal of Croatian politics the realization of a fundamental humanity and social justice. He pointed out the weak points and errors of Croatian politics and had the energy to see and to correct his earlier mistakes and blunders with regards to Yugoslavism and unity with the Serbs. He combined social and national factors with his pacifism and neutrality and also with his republicanism and combativeness. He drew from the wholesome sources of his country’s past and traditions, introducing the ideas of Western democracy on Croatian soil, indicating a new direction for Croatian politics and giving it a new and lasting configuration. He stands among the greatest sons of Croatia. He united in himself the thoughts and deeds of Gubca, Zrinski, Frankopan, Starcevic and Kvaternik, as their successor.

    Inspired with the ideas, works and sacrifices of Stjepan Radic and learning from the mistakes of Croatian politics after Radic we must build a better future for the Croatian nation.


    EYES OF STJEPAN RADIC

    They were not made for mundane horizons
    Firmly they looked afar, far to the century’s end.
    Objects and images too near were veiled from them
    Because they too clearly saw the splendour of the Great Spring.
    The wrinkles around them drew a silent smile;
    Rocking in the cradle it lives on long after death.
    Then they looked out over the swelling and turgid sea
    In which his thought was a silvery fish.
    O gentle, dead eyes gouged out by bloody hands
    Too powerful for mortal lot, unattainably remote –
    Now you hover everywhere, over village, plain and people.
    The sea cradles you as the sun and bears you as rivers of pearls.
    Head bowed, a giant stalks little Croatia
    Carrying the gentle dead eyes in his rough palm.

    Ivan Goran Kovacic



    Jure Petričević

    http://www.magma.ca/%7Erendic/radic.htm

    -------------------------------------------

    FOOTNOTES:

    The life and work of S. Radic is reviewed in the book of by Z. Kulundzic Stjepan Radic – Politicki spisi (Political Works), published in Zagreb in 1971 by the publishing firm Znanje; in the book by M. Kovacic, From Radic to Pavelic published by the Knjiznica Hrvatske revije in 1970.
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights. General Assembly of the United Nations, Decemeber 10th, 1948.
    How to improve our lot? According to Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., pp. 162-3.
    Recommendation of the republican majority delegation of the banate of Croatia to the Serbian regent Alexander on February 11th, 1921. S. Kulundzic, op.cit., pp. 347-8.
    Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., p. 403
    Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., p. 361
    Z. Kulundzic, op.cit.,
    Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, R. Spellers and Sons, New York, 1957.
    Što je i što hoće Hrvatska seljačka stranka, J. Paukovic, Coventry, England, 1969.
  2. Željko Zidarić avatar
    Josip Pečarić: Strossmayer nije ideolog jugoslavenstva
    SLOBODNA DALMACIJA, NEDJELJA 4. veljače 2001. - TJEDAN:

    ČINIMO LI NEPRAVDU PREMA STROSSMAYERU SVRSTAVAJUĆI GA U ISTI KOŠ S ONIMA KOJI SU POMAGALI ZATIRANJU HRVATSKOG NARODA U BIVŠIM ZAJEDNICKIM DRŽAVAMA


    APSOLUTNO NE SAVEZU SA SRBIMA

    Za razliku od hrvatskih Jugoslavena, koji se bore za jugoslavenstvo u kome je jasna vladajuća srpska pozicija, Strossmayer je bio svjestan da takvo jugoslavenstvo donosi samo zlo. On je dobro poznavao srpski narod i njegovu mržnju prema katoličanstvu i Hrvatima, što nam zorno pokazuju njegova pisma Račkom. Tako 10. travnja 1884. piše: "Narod nam je u vrlo opasnom položaju. Srbi su nam krvavi neprijatelji ... Dočim se mi ljuto borimo prot Mađara, Srbin brat iza leđa na nas navaljuje"

    Piše: Josip PEČARIĆ


    Gojko Borić je u Slobodnoj Dalmaciji od 27. siječnja 2001. dao izvrsnu analizu puzajućeg jugoslavenstva koji današnja vlast provodi u Hrvatskoj. Borić kaže: "Ideološki ’Jugoslaveni’ kao Predrag Matvejević, Slobodan Šnajder i Ivo Banac nastavljaju posao koji su započeli Ljudevit Gaj, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Viktor Novak, Ivo Andrić, Stipe Šuvar i Goran Babić (da navedemo samo neke ’korifeje’ jugoslavenstva u 19. i 20. stoljeću). (…) Ponovno su cijenjeni radovi Dubravke Ugrešić i Lordana Zafranovića koji Hrvatsku ne mogu ni smisliti." Naravno, Borić ne zaboravlja spomenuti i "prvog putnika u Beograd poslije Domovinskog rata" Igora Mandića.

    Čini se ipak da činimo nepravdu i prema Gaju i prema Strossmayeru stavljajući ih u isti koš s onima koji su bili svjedoci (ili su pomagali) zatiranju hrvatskog naroda u zajedničkoj državi sa Srbima. Svima njima pojam jugoslavenstvo upravo znači to, dok Gaj i Strossmayer nisu mogli na tako nešto ni pomisliti.

    Posebna je uloga Josipa Jurja Strossmayera u svemu tome. Upravo će njegovo "jugoslavenstvo" biti jedna vrsta opravdanja svim hrvatskim Jugoslavenima, koji vole reći kako je on "mecena jugoslavenstva". To su povjerovali i mnogi državotvorni Hrvati, pa i oni Strossmayera izjednačavaju s hrvatskim Jugoslavenima koji zatiru hrvatski narod kroz cijelo dvadeseto stoljeće. U stvari tako državotvorni Hrvati daju alibi hrvatskim Jugoslavenima u njihovu zatiranju svega hrvatskog kroz čitavo dvadeseto stoljeće, pa i danas kada nam se neposredno poslije velikogsrpskog genocida nad hrvatskim narodom i krvavo izborene slobode, opet nudi (za početak) carinska unija.

    A da Strossmayer nije nipošto nikakav korifej Jugoslavenstva pokazale su knjige: "Hrvatski domoljub Josip Juraj Strossmayer", Zagreb, 1995. i "Zbornik radova o Josipu Jurju Strossmayeru", Zagreb, 1997., kao i Korespondencija Josip Juraj Strossmayer – Serafin Vannutelli 1881 – 1887, Zagreb 1999. O Strossmayerovoj političkoj ideologiji Blaž Jurišić, Strossmayer iza kulisa, Hrvatska revija, II, 3, Zagreb 1929, str. 145-159, kaže: "Osnovna linija njegove politike uvijek je ista i jednostavna. On hoće da Hrvatskoj osigura samostalnost u federaciji bilo austrijskoj, bilo ugarskoj, bilo jugoslavenskoj. Ni jedna od ovih alternativa nije se ispunila, i Strossmayerov politički san ostao je neostvaren."

    U stvari, stvarna Strossmayerova želja je bila oslobađanje hrvatskog naroda, što se vidi iz njegova pisma Račkom (9. prosinac 1882.): "Rado bih doživio oslobođenje svoga naroda, ali nemam nade", a kao pragmatičar svjestan pozicije u kojoj se njegov narod tada nalazio, mogućnost za to je vidio jedino kroz ostvarenje jedne od tih alternativa. Pri tome je najvjerojatnije njegovo jugoslavenstvo bio oblik pritiska na austrougarsku vlast upravo da bi ostvario hrvatsku samostalnost.

    Možda ideja princa Ferdinanda o davanju Slavenima ravnopravnog statusa u Monarhiji, zbog čega je i bio ubijen, leži i u Strossmayerovu djelovanju. Jer ugled Strossmayera je bio doista veliki. Recimo, talijanski državnik Marko Minghetti, koji je imao prilike upoznati najistaknutije ličnosti svoga vremena rekao je: "Postoje samo dvojica pred kojima sam imao dojam da pripadaju nekoj drugoj vrsti nego mi ostali." Ta dvojica su Bismarck i Strossmayer.

    Matija Pavić i Milko Cpelić (Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Biskup bosansko-đakovački i sriemski god. 1850-1900. Zagreb, 1904.) ističu da je najvažnije obilježje biskupovog državno-političkog djelovanja nastojanje da se Hrvatskoj osigura slobodan i samostalan razvitak. To je konkretno značilo (str. 428) ujedinjenje hrvatskih zemalja u jednu Hrvatsku, te državnu samostalnost Hrvatske u okviru Habsburške Monarhije, te preuređenje Monarhije u "federaciju" u kojoj bi Hrvati okupili oko sebe druge južne Slavene u Austriji i Bosni. Oni ističu: "On nikada nije promijenio toga svoga načela."

    Ali dopustimo da je biskup, kako kaže Jurišić, mogao misliti i širu jugoslavensku zajednicu, tj. da je to nešto više od pritiska. Razmotrimo takvu Strossmayerovu jugoslavensku ideju. Ona ima tri bitne komponente:- Zagreb je centar južnoslavenskog okupljanja;- Približavanje pravoslavnih južnoslavenskih naroda Rimu i- Bugari su uključeni u takvo okupljanje južnoslavenskih naroda. Ako se govori o nekoj ideji, ona mora biti ostvarena ili ne. Očito da ni jedna točka Strossmayerove ideje nije ostvarena, pa je očito da hrvatski Jugoslaveni nemaju nikakvo uporište u opravdavanju svog sluganstva velikosrpskoj ideji.

    Recimo, odmah nakon pojave Okružnice iz 1881. godine o sv. Ćirilu i Metodu, gdje je elaboriran njegov poziv pravoslavnim Slavenima da priđu Rimu, Strossmayer je doživio velike napade iz Srpske pravoslavne crkve, pa je bio i "duhom nečistim zaveden". O samoj ideji o uniji Ivo Pilar (Južnoslavensko pitanje i Svjetski rat, Hrvatska demokratska stranka, Varaždin 1990, str. 336-340) kaže: "Namisao bijaše upravo veličanstvena, ali već unaprijed osuđena na neuspjeh; morala je doživjeti istu sudbinu, koju je doživjela papinska politika i koju će uvijek morati doživjeti." Naravno, takve ideje i mogu ostvariti samo tako veliki ljudi kakav je i bio biskup Strossmayer. Upravo zato što je on pokušao i nije uspio dokazuje Pilarovu tvrdnju da je tako nešto unaprijed osuđeno na neuspjeh!

    Zašto je sama ideja po Pilaru bila veličanstvena? Odgovor je opet jednostavan. Strossmayer želi zlo sasjeći u korijenu. A zlo u korijenu velikosrpskog zla je oduvijek bila Svetosavska crkva. To je tako zorno pokazala i uloga SPC u Domovinskom ratu. Za razliku od hrvatskih Jugoslavena koje spominje Borić, i koji se bore za jugoslavenstvo u kome je jasna vladajuća srpska pozicija, Strossmayer je bio svjestan da takvo jugoslavenstvo donosi samo zlo. On je dobro poznavao srpski narod i njegovu mržnju prema katoličanstvu i Hrvatima. To nam zorno pokazuju njegova pisma Račkom.

    Tako 15. prosinca 1861. piše: "Ako drugo, onda sam opazio, da se neke stvari po srpskih ruku sasvijem srpski, ili bolje rekuć turski rješavaju. Ima Srbina u namjesništvu, koji se gledaju i meni i crkvi katoličkoj osvetiti, što se ne ćemo posrbiti."U pismu od 25. lipanja 1883. Strossmayer piše o srpskom "barbarstvu" i "okovima srpskim", a posebno je znakovito pismo od 10. travnja 1884. gdje kaže "Narod nam je u vrlo opasnom položaju. Srbi su nam krvavi neprijatelji. Dobro je rekao - mislim Marković - da dočim se mi ljuto borimo prot Mađara, Srbin brat iza leđa na nas navaljuje." U istom pismu spominje i "grob, kog Srbi nam kopaju".

    U pismu Serafinu Vannutelliju, papinskom nunciju u Beču, od 2. prosinca 1885., biskup Strossmayer ukazuje na velikosrpske težnje za obnavljanje Dušanovog carstva, a spominje i balkansku federaciju: "Mađari već dva i više desetljeća posebno nastoje da srpski narod u Hrvatskoj i izvan Hrvatske za svoje ciljeve pridobiju i učine ih svojim nakanama posve odanim. Iskorištavaju u tu svrhu taštinu Srba koji smatraju da su ispred svih drugih pozvani da, uskrisivši carstvo svoga cara Dušana, jedini na Balkanskom poluotoku zavladaju. To je anakronizam i opsjena bolesnog uma iz četrnaestog stoljeća kad je Dušan, kralj svakako vrlo sposoban no isto tako vrlo podmukao i okrutan, živio (…) Ponavljam: tu misao ponovno oživljeti isto je što i trabunjati prepuštajući se pukim opsjenama ali, nažalost, narodi zahvaćeni nadutošću i sebičnošću ravnaju se radije snovima i opsjenama negoli istinom i pravdom koje traže žrtve i požrtvovnost.Mađarskim probicima i nakanama odgovara da nadraže slavenski narod protiv slavenskog naroda te da Srbe nagovore da, s jedne strane, Hrvatska bude opljačkana i bačena u ropstvo; da se s druge strane, Bugari satru i učine nepomičnima, pa da oni uglavnom jedini vladaju i negdašnje Dušanovo carstvo obnove. (…) Ja sam dabome najčvršće uvjeren da je na Balkanskom poluotoku jedino moguće, a po Bogu i moralnom zakonu valjano, imati bratsku federaciju raznih naroda, među kojim će narodima dakako Slaveni igrati glavnu ulogu, dokle se za to svojom vjerom, krepostima i žrtvama, jednako tako ljubavlju i međusobnom slogom, budu znali svoga božanskog određenja dostojno pokazati. (…) Ponavljam iz svega svog srca: Hrvatska, kakva je vazda bila i kakva će vazda ostati, pravi je Božji dar uzvišenoj vladarskoj kući i svemu carstvu da na Balkanskom poluotoku obdrži prvo mjesto, pobjedivši i sebi prije svega podloživši srca i savjesti naroda pošto zauzme i podvrgne sama njihova područja i zemaljske granice. No, zaista je istina, da bi tome uzvišenom cilju Hrvatska mogla odgovoriti, treba prije svega da se na slobodu izvuče ispod stranog odlučivanja, tiranije i vlasti, te da se sebi samoj, to jest svojoj cjelovitosti, slobodi i snazi vrati. (…)Meni se čini da je skrajni čas da se jadnoj Hrvatskoj pomogne. Ako se ne varam, kao što je godine 1848. i 1849. početak spasa krenuo od Hrvatske, tako i danas mogu, kako se čini, počeci njena popravka i njezine snage biti ono, čega se Austrijsko Carstvo iz dana u dan sve većma trebati da svoju moćnu jakost i djelotvornost posvuda iskaže.
    U tom pogledu pitanje Hrvatske pod nipošto nije, kako tvrde Mađari, samo nutarnje pitanje Ugarske, nego je pitanje cijeloga Carstva i uzvišene dinastije.”

    Zgodno je Strossmayerovu zalaganju da Zagreb, a ne Beograd, bude centar južnih Slavena dati dio iz pisma Vannutelliju od 19. travnja 1887. gdje biskup kaže da je "Biograd, nekako Carigrad u malome, grad vrlo važan, središte gotovo nedvojbeno i od Boga samoga preodređeno da na Balkanskom poluotoku izvrši veliki utjecaj. Iz Biograda rijekom Savom lagan je pristup Zagrebu koji je također grad vrlo važan i dostojan pažnje, koji premda nije tolike važnosti za trgovačku i gotovo svjetsku politiku kao Biograd, ipak je nedvojbeno predodređen za atenej južnih Slavena, o čemu već sada ima jasnih naznakah. Ja i moji prijatelji htjeli smo na svaki način prvenstvo sačuvati Zagrebu, tim prije što je on središte katoličanstva, pa dakle iz zapadne kršćanske kulture. No, nažalost, onima koji su tu namjeru trebali objeručke prigrliti ponestalo je pravog razumijevanja i snage da na tome najodlučnije porade te sve zapreke, koje su se pojavile, nadvladaju."

    Ali posebno su znakoviti događaji u svezi sa Zavodom sv. Jeronima u Rimu iz 1901.-1902. - veoma značajni događaji u hrvatskoj povijesti o kojima se, nažalost, u Hrvatskoj i među povjesnicima malo zna, a trebali bi biti uključeni u sve školske udžbenike povijesti. Naime, 1901. godine papa Lav XIII dao je Zavodu hrvatsko ime. To je uzbudilo diplomatske krugove diljem Europe. Usprotivile su se Italija, Francuska, Austrija, Mađarska, Rusija, Srbija i Crna Gora, pa se išlo i do izravnih ucjenjivanja Svete Stolice.

    Odlučujuću ulogu tada je odigrala Crna Gora. Naime, na Berlinskom kongresu 1878. Crna Gora je dobila Bar, pa je knjaz Nikola proglasio tamošnje katolike (Hrvate) Srbima (tzv. Srbi-katolici), i tražio da se Zavodu sv. Jeronima uz hrvatsko doda i srpsko ime! Tim povodom biskup Strossmayer piše kardinalu Rampolli: "U srcu i duši Srba vlada nesnošljivost prema katoličkim Hrvatima. Stoga se naš zavod ilirski ili hrvatski u Gradu ne smije nikako nazvati srpskim. Taj se pojam apsolutno ne smije upotrebiti".

    Papa je 1902. vratio Zavodu ilirsko ime, a hrvatsko on dobiva tek 1971.

    Kolika se nepravda čini Strossmayeru izjednačavajući njegovo jugoslavenstvo s hrvatskim Jugoslavenima iz vremena postojanja Jugoslavije najbolje pokazuje usporedba s jednim drugim velikim hrvatskim političarem iz dvadesetog stoljeća – s Mačekom. Naime, Maček je naslijedio Stjepana Radića, koji je umro od posljedica ranjavanja u beogradskoj Skupštini, preživio je Drugi svjetski rat, pa sigurno zna za četničke zločine tijekom tog rata, ali i za stotine tisuća ubijenih Hrvata poslije rata. Pa ipak je umro vjerujući da Hrvatska treba biti u Jugoslaviji, državi koja nije bila, niti može biti ništa drugo nego Velika Srbija. A i prva i druga Jugoslavija nastale su na zločinima nad hrvatskim narodom!

    Slično stajalište ima i njegova stranka danas. Sjetimo se da su na posljednim izborima na kojima je pobijedio HDZ išli s parolom: "Stvorili smo Banovinu bez kapi prolivene krvi." Dakle: "S nama bi imali bolju Hrvatsku u Jugoslaviji bez kapi prolivene krvi." To i nije ništa drugo nego Mačekova vizija Hrvatske u Jugoslaviji.

    Kako izgleda Strossmayerovo apsolutno ne u usporedbi s politikom HSS-a. Zar sama činjenica da papa Lav XIII. tada nije uspio jednom svom Zavodu dati ime koje je htio jer je to ime bilo hrvatsko ime, ne opravdava Strossmayerovu pragmatičnu politiku u njegovoj borbi za slododu hrvatskog naroda?

    To Strossmayerovo apsolutno ne je značilo apsolutno ne bilo kakvom savezu sa Srbima. A ono njegovo "Rado bi doživio oslobođenje svoga naroda" zorno pokazuje gdje bi se on svrstao da je živio u vremenu kada je nada za slobodom postala realnost! To njegovo apsolutno ne vrijedi i danas. To je apsolutno ne carinskim unijama, tj. balkanijama, jugoslavijama, svemu sličnom što nam pripremaju bjelosvjetski sponzori velike Srbije.

    Josip Pečarić

    Slobodna Dalmacija, 4. veljače 2001.