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Croatia: A Nation Forged in War; Third Edition

Marcus Tanner
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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    Book Description:

    From the ashes of former Yugoslavia an independent Croatian state has arisen, the fulfillment, in the words of President Franjo Tudjman, of the Croats' "thousand-year-old dream of independence." Yet few countries in Europe have been born amid such bitter controversy and bloodshed: the savage war between pro-independence forces and the Yugoslav army left about one-third of the country in ruins and resulted in the flight of a quarter of a million of the country's Serbian minority.In this book an eyewitness to the breakup of Yugoslavia provides the first full account of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Croatia from its medieval origins to today's tentative peace. Marcus Tanner describes the creation of the first Croatian state; its absorption into feudal Hungary in the Middle Ages; the catastrophic experience of the Ottoman invasion; the absorption of the diminished country into Habsburg Austria; the evolution of modern Croatian nationalism after the French Revolution; and the circumstances that propelled Croatia into the arms of Nazi Germany and the brutal, home-grown "Ustashe" movement in the Second World War. Finally, drawing on first-hand knowledge of many of the leading figures in the conflict, Tanner explains the failure of Tito's Communists to solve Yugoslavia's tortured national problem by creating a federal state, and the violent implosion after his death.Croatia's unique position on the crossroads of Europe-between Eastern and Western Christendom, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans and between the old Habsburg and Ottoman empires-has been both a curse and a blessing, inviting the attention of larger and more powerful neighbors. The turbulence and drama of Croatia's past are vigorously portrayed in this powerful history.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17159-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Note on Spelling
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. 1 ‘The Unfaithful Croats’
    (pp. 1-15)

    In the village of Nin, where the dry rocky Karst of the Dalmatian hinterland meets the Adriatic Sea, stands a small, cruciform church. Squat and of simple dimensions it looks ancient and indeed is so, dating from the ninth century at the earliest and the eleventh century at the latest. It is said that the Church of the Holy Cross of Nin was built in such a way that the rays of the setting sun would fall on the baptismal font on the feast day of St Ambrose, the patron saint of the Benedictines of Nin. The font, known as...

  7. 2 Croatia Under the Hungarians
    (pp. 16-27)

    The union of the kingdoms of Croatia and Hungary, like the union of Poland and Lithuania, or of England and Scotland, was an unequal affair. The Croats insisted they had entered into the arrangement of their own volition and that the terms of thePacta Conventamade them an associated kingdom, and not a part of Hungary. The Hungarians had a less exalted view of this dynastic arrangement. The kings of the house of Arpad, who ruled until 1301, acknowledged Croatia’s separate identity, continued to be crowned separately in Croatia at Biograd, or Zadar, and left Croatia’s internal administration to...

  8. 3 The Ramparts of Christendom
    (pp. 28-40)

    A more determined foe than the Mongols appeared in the form of the Ottoman Turks. In the 1280s Osman I, a minor Turkic ruler, established a state in north-west Anatolia around the city of Bursa. From this stronghold, his descendants carried on a campaign of territorial expansion that was to consume the Byzantine Empire within a century and a half, give the Ottomans control over the entire Balkan peninsula and bring their armies to the gates of Vienna. By the mid-fourteenth century, the Ottomans already had a toe-hold in Europe, around Gallipoli. From there they subdued the Bulgarians and encircled...

  9. 4 ‘The Remains of the Remains’
    (pp. 41-51)

    There are no monuments to the Ottoman presence in Croatia today. The mosques of Slavonia were demolished after the Austrians drove the Turks from Croatia in the 1690s. Yet the Ottoman impact on Croatia was immense, scarcely less than the impact of the Turks on the other southern Balkan nations, the Serbs, Albanians, Greeks and Bulgars. For the best part of two centuries, most of Slavonia and Dalmatia was under Turkish rule. For the Croats, Ottoman rule was an unmitigated disaster with no redeeming characteristics. To the east, the Serbs lost their state and their independence. But the Orthodox Church,...

  10. 5 From Liberation to the French Revolution
    (pp. 52-65)

    The long rule of the Turks over most of Croatia came to a sudden end in the 1680s. Responsibility for the conflict fell squarely on the Turks. In 1683 the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa, decided to revive the tradition of conquest of the previous century. Marching an army of 200,000 soldiers out of Bosnia he made straight for Vienna, arriving outside the city on 17 July. What Suleyman the Magnificent had not achieved in 1529, Kara Mustafa hoped to achieve in his own day. It was a miscalculation. At first it seemed as if the Turks might get their...

  11. 6 ‘Still Croatia Has Not Fallen’
    (pp. 66-81)

    The prosperous torpor into which Slavonia sank in the eighteenth century and the wretched torpor into which Dalmatia sank at the same time were ended by the whirlwind of reform unleashed by the Emperor Joseph II, and by the subsequent impact of the French Revolution. The programme of reforms of the Habsburg Emperor centred on curtailing the privileged position of the Catholic Church, allowing Protestants freedom of worship, abolishing feudalism, introducing a more equitable system of taxation and promoting German as thelingua francathroughout the empire. The reforms caused uproar in Hungary and Bohemia and aroused the indignation of...

  12. 7 1848
    (pp. 82-93)

    The revolutions of 1848 propelled Croatia into a state of wild excitement. The trouble started in Italy after the election of Pope Pius IX, an alleged liberal, in June 1846. In December there were riots in Habsburg-ruled Milan and in February 1848 martial law was proclaimed throughout Lombardy-Veneto. But the conflagration enveloped Europe only after a republican revolution broke out in Paris in February, sweeping away the government of Louis-Philippe of Orleans, the ‘Citizen King’. By the beginning of March the contagion had spread to Bavaria and south-west Germany. In Hungary the nationalist leader of the Lower House of parliament,...

  13. 8 ‘Neither with Vienna Nor with Budapest’
    (pp. 94-107)

    It was said that he had the appearance of a medieval saint and that only in Latin did his sentences flow with power. The English scholar of the southern Slavs, Robert William Seton-Watson, wrote: ‘The well-known Italian statesman, Maro Minghetti, once assured the Belgian publicist Emile de Laveley that he had had the opportunity of observing at close quarters almost all the eminent men of his time. “There are only two”, he added, “who gave the impression of belonging to another species than ourselves. Those two were Bismarck and Strossmayer.” ’² Seton-Watson continued: ‘As the patron and inspirer of thought...

  14. 9 ‘Our President’
    (pp. 108-126)

    The last quarter of the nineteenth century was dominated by the policies and personality of Charles Khuen-Hedervary, Ban of Croatia and the devoted executor of Hungarian rule from 1883 until he was relieved of his post in 1903. During his long term of office, Budapest undermined the terms of theNagodbaand stepped up its attempts to Magyarise Croatia. He proclaimed his motto as ‘Red, rad i zakon’ – order, work and the law – but in practice he played on the divisions between Serbs and Croats to increase Hungarian control. He concluded that his Unionist predecessor asban, Levin...

  15. 10 The Sporazum
    (pp. 127-140)

    Shortly before the assassination of Radić in the Belgrade parliament, Josip Predavec, a Peasants Party official, gave this illuminating account of Croat perceptions of Serb rule:

    Right up to 1918 we lived under the guidance of native Croatian officials. The four main internal departments of government were housed in Zagreb, and in all internal matters, even under the Habsburgs, the Croat people were their own masters. Now, if you want to find those government departments, you must search for them at Belgrade … you will further find that all the police, the civil service and even the railwaymen on the...

  16. 11 The Ustashe
    (pp. 141-167)

    The storm came soon enough. On 6 April 1941, Germany declared war on Yugoslavia. At 6.40am the sirens wailed in Belgrade as the Luftwaffe bombed the city, killing thousands of people. German armies streamed into Yugoslavia from Bulgaria in the east and from Hungary in the north. The invasion was backed up by Hungarian, Bulgarian and Italian troops. Maček, who had been staying in the Hotel Bristol with the other Croat ministers, fled to Vrnjačka Banja in southern Serbia with the rest of the government, while the King and General Staff set up base at Zvornik, in eastern Bosnia. As...

  17. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  18. 12 ‘My Conscience Is Clear’
    (pp. 168-183)

    As the remnants of the NDH’s army fled towards the Austrian frontier with an enormous number of civilians in tow, the first Partisan troops entered the deserted streets of Zagreb on 8 May 1945. The population stayed indoors. One reason was Partisan radio warnings about continued fighting in the streets with the rump of the Ustashe. Another was a certain wariness about the Partisan Second Army, which contained many Serbs and Montenegrins who had fought as Chetniks before taking advantage of an amnesty offered by Tito in 1943 to any Chetniks or Domobrani who wanted to join the partisans. But...

  19. 13 Croatian Spring
    (pp. 184-202)

    For most Croats, the first signs of the revival of independent political activity appeared around 1967, when a reform movement began within the Croat League of Communists which some called the Croatian Spring and others Maspok (short formasovni pokret, or ‘mass movement’). Like Alexandar Dubcek’s movement in Czechoslovakia, it started within the ruling Communist Party, only to gather a popular, nationalist momentum all of its own. Like the Prague Spring, the reform movement in the Croatian Party was crushed from outside, and with it died any hope of political reform within the Communist system.

    The first signs of political...

  20. 14 ‘Comrade Tito Is Dead’
    (pp. 203-220)

    The announcement by the federal presidency in the spring of 1980 ended four months of speculation about his illness. ‘To the working class, to the working people and citizens, to the people and nationalities of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Comrade Tito is dead.’ It went on: ‘On 4 May at 15.05 in Ljubljana the great heart of the President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to beat.’ As the Blue Train carried his body from the Slovene capital through Zagreb to its final resting place in the House of Flowers in Belgrade, Croats caught their...

  21. 15 God in Heaven and Tudjman in the Homeland
    (pp. 221-240)

    On 28 February 1989 Franjo Tudjman and a small group of veterans from the Croatian Spring had gathered in the Writers’ Club in Zagreb, off Republic Square, to hammer out a programme for a new political movement in Croatia. Four months later on 17 June, after various delays that were caused by the obstructive tactics of the police, the new group at last received permission to hold a founding party congress at the Borac sports centre, in the suburb of Staglišće. The forty-eight founders met in an atmosphere of trepidation that the proceedings would be broken up by the police,...

  22. 16 ‘Serbia Is Not Involved’
    (pp. 241-260)

    Pakrac was a typical dingy Slavonian market town of about 10,000, with a small square in the middle. Two baroque churches, one Orthodox and one Catholic, faced each other over a bank of trees. Up the road was the once fine but now rather decayed palace of Lukijan, the Serb Orthodox Bishop of Slavonia. The Serbs’ choice of Pakrac was not accidental. In Slavonia as a whole, the Serbs made up only about 15 per cent of the population. Pakrac was the only Slavonian municipality in which Serbs formed a relative majority. It also occupied a strategic position in the...

  23. 17 ‘Danke Deutschland’
    (pp. 261-274)

    The Serbs tightened their grip round the two hostage cities of Vukovar and Dubrovnik. Of the two, Vukovar was in incomparably the worse position. Bombed by air and land almost day and night, it had no priceless architectural treasures to engage the world’s fickle attention.

    Dubrovnik was different. Since the first week in October the city had been surrounded by Montenegrin troops of the Yugoslav army on the landward side. Electricity was cut off and so was water. To the east, Božidar Vučurević, the burly Mayor of the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Trebinje (his nickname waskamijondžija, meaning lorrydriver), was...

  24. 18 Thousand-Year-Old Dream
    (pp. 275-298)

    In January 1992 I took the road from Belgrade to the hilltop town of Ilok, on the easternmost tip of Croatia, which was then under Serb control. United Nations peace-keepers had not yet been deployed in ‘Sector East’, as the Serb-held portion of Slavonia and Baranja would be called, and what used to be the Croatian border was marked by a perfunctory booth manned by a couple of bored-looking Yugoslav army troopers.

    The approach to Ilok was depressing, the villages on the way disfigured with bent steeples, and burned and half-demolished houses, the vineyards decayed and desolate. Ilok had been...

  25. 19 ‘Freedom Train’
    (pp. 299-313)

    On 26 August 1995 Tudjman boarded the first train to travel from Zagreb to Split since that hot August night five years before, when thebalvanrevolutionaries had blocked the line. The train was called theVlak Slobode– ‘Freedom Train’ – and its most distinguished passenger was in an expansive mood as he talked to the accompanying group of journalists. ‘They disappeared ignominiously, as if they had never populated this land.’ he said of the recently departed Serbs. ‘We urged them to stay but they did not listen to us. Well then,bon voyage.’

    At Karlovac and Gospić, the...

  26. Notes
    (pp. 314-329)
  27. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 330-332)
  28. Index
    (pp. 333-349)
  29. Back Matter
    (pp. 350-350)