Friday, September 24, 2004

---> 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.


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.


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)


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-à-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.


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.


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.


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



  1. 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.
  2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. General Assembly of the United Nations, Decemeber 10th, 1948.
  3. How to improve our lot? According to Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., pp. 162-3.
  4. 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.
  5. Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., p. 403
  6. Z. Kulundzic, op.cit., p. 361
  7. Z. Kulundzic, op.cit.,
  8. Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, R. Spellers and Sons, New York, 1957.
  9. Što je i što hoće Hrvatska seljačka stranka, J. Paukovic, Coventry, England, 1969.


Blogger Craig said...

Anyone know of an English translation of either fiction or non-fiction that illustartes the life style of peasant Croatia around the times of Radic?

11:46 AM  

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