Croatia - Between 2 Wars


DISCLAIMER: I believe that this type of post is allowed.

History of South Slavs is complex.History of Yugoslavia more so.In this intended series of articles I will give my best shot at explaining and giving a concise overview of the history of the Croatian nation during this turbulent period (but you already knew that).I am not as well versed on the history of other Slavic nations in Yugoslavia so I won’t dare to touch their stories.
Any constructive criticism is welcomed. I hope that this will give you some valuable insight into some of the history of our favourite powder keg.


Croatia in early 19th century.Slavonia and Croatia were under jurisdiction of ban and Croatian parliament.Dalmatia and the Military Frontier were under direct rule of Vienna.That changed over time

The idea of unity between South Slavic states is believed to have started during the rise of nationalism in the early 19th century.

In Croatia that period is called Illyrian movement or Croatian national revival. It aimed for unity of the south Slavic nations inside Habsburg Monarchy plus Bosnia. It had started primaraly as a Croatian movement and Croatian name was in use. Followers of the movement would establish The Illyrian party in 1841. (The People’s party after 1843.)

Vlaho Bukovac: Croatian revival

The party’s members would later openly advocate for the unity of Croatian lands (Croatia was split between Hungary and Austria after 1867.) and the creation of Yugoslavia. The leading man was a Catholic bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. It would suffer a break-up between the members after it became overly supportive of the government.

Other major parties at the time were:
UNIONIST PARTY: Advocating for closer ties with Hungary.

PARTY OF RIGHTS: Nationalist Croatian party led by Ante Starčević. They were created on the basis of anti-clericalism and full Croatian independence. The party would splinter in 1895. on Pure party of rights under Josip Frank (nationalistic, clerical and anti-Serbia) and The Party of rights (advocating for trialism and later Yugoslavia). The Pure party of rights will splinter some more.
preuzmi%20(2) Ante Starčević

AUTONOMIST PARTY : Dalmatian autonomy party in Dalmatian parliament.They quickly lost support in Dalmatia and The People’s party got it. At the end of the 19th century ,the support will lean towards The Party of rights.

CROATIAN PEASANT’S PARTY: Created in 1904. led by Radić brothers. They advocated for unity of Croat lands, trialism, full democratisation of the political scene, secularism and education of the peasants hoping to make them viable political body.
Antun_Radi%C4%87 images
Antun and Stjepan Radić

It is important to mention that the end of the 19th century was also the start of the anti-Serb sentiment in Croatia. Some of the factors included Serbian nationalism ,most notably, the idea of Greater Serbia, which included decent amount Croatian land and a theory of Vuk Karadžić which says that all people speaking shtokavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian language are Serbs (politicians like Ante Starčević held strong opposition to this and in turn denied the Serbs their nationality).
images A guess how Greater Serbia would have looked like.

One thing to note is that the line between a Croat and Serbs still wasn’t fully drawn on the religious basis (Svetozar Borojević comes to mind). Politicians like Radić brothers believed that the Orthodox Slavs in Croatia were being unjustly branded as Serbs and therefore didn’t see Croatia as their native state.

Another factor was the mandate of the despised Khuen Hedervary as ban (Croatian viceroy) who was pushing magyarization of the Hungarian part of Croatia. He made the People’s party a puppet party of the Hungarian government leading to its break up and he gave special benefits to Serbs who in turn flocked to his side.
200px-Khuen-H%C3%A9derv%C3%A1ry_K%C3%A1roly Karol Khuen Hedervary

In 1902. ,Nikola Stojanović published an article named “Serbs and Croats” analysing two nations.

One quote most remembered from this article is as follows: “This struggle must lead to an extermination of ours or yours. One side must submit. That this will be the Croats is assured by their small size, geographic location, surroundings (as they are mixed in with Serbs everywhere) and the general process of evolution, where the Serbian ideal means progress.”

No surprise, the article led to protests.

However, decent amount of Serbian and Croatian politicians were still working together with the goal of uniting all South Slavs in Yugoslavia. One of those cases was Croat-Serb Coalition (1905.) which saw to improve relations between Serbs and Croats and rally them against their common enemy ,government in Vienna.
The leaders of the coalition were Fran Supilo (The Party of Rights) and Svetozar Pribičević (Serb People’s Independent Party). They were foremost asking for trialism ,but it’s impossible to hide that they had something else in mind.Something more independent with the smell of rakija.

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Frano Supilo and Svetozar Pribičević



Interesting, looking forward to reading more!


… NOW !

                         DECISION OF THE CENTURY

On 28th of June 1914. one shot set ablaze the Balkan powder keg changing the course of history forever.

The Croatian position in the war has already been explained in the Croatia episode on The Great War channel. For the sake of this article I will be focusing more on the actions leading to the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes.

The main players in it were members of the Yugoslav Committee, founded in May of 1915. It consisted of politicans and emigrants from Austria- Hungary ,whose goal was to represent the possible state of South Slavs under the Habsburg crown. The most notable members were Fran Supilo, Ante Trumbić and the sculptor Ivan Meštrović.

preuzmi%20(3) Yugoslav Committee

preuzmi%20(9) preuzmi%20(10) Ante Trumbić and Frano Supilo

The Committee held little power and wasn’t recognised by the Entente. Its existence especially wasn’t favoured by Italy because the main reason why it joined the Entente was the promised Dalmatian coast. Second of all ,the dissolution of Austria-Hungary was still not fully agreed upon.

However ,one country they needed to open negotiations with was Serbia. Serbian stance on the unification is somewhat disputed. Some members of the Committee were suspicious of the intentions of Serbian prime minister Nikola Pašić. He wanted the unification to happen with the Serbian leadership considering that Serbia was the one suffering the toils of war. The example Pašić often used was the unification of Italy under Piedmont.

The Committee on the other hand, wished to be treated as an equal and weren’t eager to ,as they saw it, be annexed to Serbia under the guise of Yugoslavia. Frano Supilo was the loudest opponent who is believed to have left the group in 1916. for this very reason. He died in 1917.

After the February Revolution, talks of unification became more open and Serbia was willing to compromise. On Corfu , 20th of July 1917. the Declaration has been signed which stated that the future state would be a constitutional monarchy under Karađorđević dynasty. The internal formation of the state was still up for debate.
Members of Serbian government and Yugoslav Committee during the signing of Corfu Declaration.No, that is not Santa ,but Serbian prime minister Nikola Pašić.Santa is a hardcore communist after all.

Meanwhile, thousands miles away , in Zagreb similiar dilemma was growing. In the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) ,Croat-Serb Coalition under the helm of Svetozar Pribičević, had a majority. During the war, they were playing the safe game with the Hungarians waiting to see how the situation develops. The opposition led by Stjepan Radić was overall supportive of the Austria-Hungary hoping for the future federalisation of the monarchy. His outlook would change as monarchy descended into chaos alongside the political situation. In the middle of 1918., only the most optimistic expected AH to survive.

In Reichsrat 1918., Yugoslav Club read the May Declaration wishing for the unification of all South Slavic parts of the monarchy. The situation was going out of control. People’s Council (National Council) has been formed in early October. Emperor Karl’s Imperial Manifesto proposing the federalisation was rejected. On 29th of October 1918. Croatian Parliament cut all ties with Austria-Hungary. This date is considered the birth date of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The highest form of power was held by the People’s Council. Its president was a Slovene Anton Korošec.
preuzmi%20(8) images%20(1) Anton Korošec

220px-Session_of_Sabor preuzmi%20(11)
Last session of Sabor in Austria Hungary - Situation outside

The newborn country was ,politely said, a mess. It wasn’t recognized by the Entente,looting was commonplace to anarchical degree and it had no army. To calm the situation ,the People’s Council asked the Serbian army to restore order. The reports of violence and bias by Serbian army would be heavily criticised by Radić.

On the bright side the State inherited entire Austro-Hungarian navy, which was soon dismembered by Itay. Besides that ,Italy started an invasion taking the territory which was promised to them by the Treaty of London (1915.). This pushed the People’s Council to hurry their unification. It’s important to note that the indpendence was certainly out of the question.

preuzmi%20(5) Sinking of Viribus Unitis battleship

Some party of the country didn’t even consider the People’s Council as their representative. Vojvodina would join Serbia by its own accord on 25th of November ,while the county of Syrmia had done the same the day before. Some parts of Bosnia and Dalmatia were promising to follow suit.

Meanwhile, thousands miles away, the relations between the Committee (now legal representative of State of SCS) and Nikola Pašić have been going sour. There was little compromise regarding the way on how the future country was going to look like. Pašić was more eager to work with the People’s Council which was closer to his ideas of unification.

A compromise tried to be achieved in Geneva 6.-9. November. Pašić signed a Geneva declaration which stated that the internal affairs would be split between the two countries (Serbia and State of SCS). Serbian government back home found the declaration unacceptable so Pašić withdrew his signature.

On the night between 23rd and 24th November People’s Council need to make the decision. Majority ,led by Svetozar Pribičević, wanted to go through unification as soon as possible. On the other hand, you had Stjepan Radić. He was against any unification with Serbia which didn’t promise equality and sovereignty of Croatia. He proposed a confederation with 3 regents : Serbian king, Croatian ban and Slovenian prime minister. He was also a republican.

This proposal was refused and the People’s Council formed so called Naputak on 24th November. It stated that the State of SCS will unify with Serbia under Karađorđević dynasty. The constitution would be crafted by 2/3 majority in the Constituent Assembly. During that time the state will be governed by Provisional Representation and prince regent Alexander.

On that night Stjepan Radić held one of the most famous speeches in Croatian history. In popular culture it is seen as the last warning before the history-making decision. A decision which ,some believe, led to unimaginable suffering.
preuzmi%20(7) Stjepan Radić

28 delegates led by Ante Pavelić Sr. went to Belgrade and read slightly changed Naputak in front of the prince regent Alexander Karađorđević. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed on 1st December 1918. Trumbić became the foreign minister, Pribičević minister of internal affairs and Pašić became the country’s first de facto prime minister.

220px-SHS_1918_adresa_Aleksandru 28 delegates
svg images%20(1)

And it had no problems. None whatsoever.


I found this rough translation of Radić’s speech on the internet if you are interested.

Some reports say his longest speech lasted 12 hours.


If true, that man was Peter Jennings before Peter Jennings.