ODESSA 1917 FROM A CROATIAN PERSPECTIVE – GEORGE GRLICA PART TWO – THE INTERPELLATION

A) THE INTERPELLATION TO THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT

 

Introduction to the Document

 

On 6 July 1918, Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), a prominent member of the Pure Party of Right (Čista stranka prava), then led by Vladimir Prebeg, submitted to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb, an Interpellation on behalf of his political party. The Interpellation dealt with Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian prisoners-of-war in Odessa.

This address was a well-planned political move by the Pure Party of Right, which was in opposition and which wanted, through this Interpallation, to split the Croatian-Serbian Coalition (Hrvatsko-srpska koalicija), the ruling Party in the Croatian Parliament and, eventually, under the pressure of public opinion, to remove it from power.  However, they did not succeed in this because of the overall political situation.  The war was rapidly coming to an end and other political forces were already in action, resulting in the creation, on 5 and 6 October 1918, of the National Council of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs (Narodno vijeće Slovenaca, Hrvata i Srba) in Zagreb, which became the supreme political body in Croatian areas.

The Coalition which the Serbian wing dominated, was led by Svetozar Pribićević, who favored the idea of Greater Serbia.  His brother, Milan, was a colonel in the Serbian Army and had been sent — as noted earlier — on a military mission to North America to recruit volunteers, but had largely failed to do so.  The brothers cooperated closely.  Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Milan had met secretly with his brother, Svetozar, the most influential leader in the Croatian Parliament.  Svetozar later inspired the National Council (Narodno vijeće) to reject a Proclamation by the Emperor Karl to change the Habsburg Monarchy into a federal state of autonomous nations.  Instead, on 29 October 1918, the Croatian Parliament severed relations with Austria-Hungary, after having been a member of the Monarchy since 1527.  The National Council then proclaimed Croatia and Slovenia as an independent state — the State of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — and assumed the powers of the new state.  The Council then nominated provincial governments for Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia, with Zagreb as capital.  Nevertheless, the Council did not succeed in organizing a state government in spite of the fact that it had at its disposal practically all the attributes needed to do so: a Croatian Army; a Croatian fleet, which Austria-Hungary had surrendered to the Council; a solid and honest civil service and administration; and a central government in the Sabor (Parliament).  Who was responsible for this failure?  In our opinion the main responsibilities for this failure lay with the followers of the Yugoslav idea who sought a “union” of Croatia with Serbia, and so impeded the consolidation of the new Croatian-Slovenian state.

On 1 December 1918, Dr. Ante Pavelić106, a member of the Croatian Parliament and Vice-President of the National Council, headed a delegation to Belgrade for the purpose of promoting a “union” of the newly created State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — which the Serbian Government recognized officially — with the Kingdom of Serbia.  The Serbian Regent and Heir Apparent, Alexander Karadjordjević, then proclaimed (l December 1918) the creation of a new common State, the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenians (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca) which comprised three States — the State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia, and the Kingdom of Montenegro.

In this rush of far-reaching political events, the Interpellation, although it momentarily had an impact on public opinion was soon pushed aside by new events and has remained more or less unknown to the Croatian public, despite the fact that it was published by Obzor, a daily newspaper in Zagreb, and by papers in other towns as well.  News of it was also reported in the Central Powers’ press.107

The Interpellation was written by Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), working with his closest collaborators in the Pure Party of Right.  A great deal of information on Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian POWs in Odessa, was obtained from Mirko Puk.  Before Puk escaped from Russian captivity, he handed over a bundle of relevant documents to the Red-Cross service in Odessa.  On his safe return to his native Croatia, he was given these documents and subsequently passed them to Horvat.  Other volunteers, who had meanwhile returned from Russia, also supplied him with relevant documents.

The text of the Interpellation is presented here in its full length, as it was published in the Public Records, but without repetitions by the Speaker, and without most irrelevant or personal remarks by other delegates and the public in the galleries, which have been included only if they were significant.

On several occasions Dr. Horvat did not close his citations by quotation marks in the text, so we have closed them here with inverted marks in parenthesis.  We have also added some words throughout the text for purposes of clarity.  Some parts of the text of the Interpellation are not quite clear.  This was due to imprecision of the reporters who submitted, directly or indirectly, their texts to Horvat.  The elisions, signifying an interruption of the text are marked in the original.

The Interpellation108

The President [of the Parliament]: I interrupt the procedural debate and begin with interpellations.  Mr. Deputy, Dr. Alexander Horvat has the floor to deliver and explain his interpellation.

Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat: Honored House! [Visoki sabore!] To that hymn which shortly before Mr. Deputy, Dr. Živko Bertić, delivered, about a national union of Croatians and Serbians, based on the apparent talk of a soldier, I will take the liberty of adding several small [“]bouquets[“] in order to complete and [“]decorate[“] this super poem — a union of the people of Croatians and Serbs.

Some days ago, when my parliamentary colleague, Dr. Ivica Frank, cited some statements of Croatian soldiers who were tortured in captivity by their Serbian “brothers” in his introductory speech, there was shouts from all sides against him, demanding him to give names.  They talked about it as if he was inventing it [or] that certain persons had forced our people to make such statements; in a word, it was asserted that these were inventions and the Yugoslav newspapers wrote about “apparent violence[“] committed against the Croatian soldiers in Russia, presenting it all as a fiction of some “pravaši” [members of the Party of Right], or, as you like to call us [“]Frankists.[“]

Honored House, I would prefer that all this were not true; I would like those tens of thousands of Croatian soldiers whom the Serbians murdered in Odessa and threw into the Black Sea to be alive and to be able to return to their families.  Unfortunately, there are every day more and more people, living witnesses of this brotherly love; the prisoners-of-war are returning with broken ribs, lacerated, and tortured, who have suffered all the torture over there.

A few days before I delivered this Interpellation, several people came to me while I was in the [Hrvatsko] Zagorje [a region not far from Zagreb], who had recently returned from being prisoners-of-war, and started to tell me, of their own free will, what happened to them.  Gjuro Dumbović of the 25th Territorial Regiment [domobranska pukovnija], born in Zlatar, told me, that one day they were put in a cattle wagon, I think in Ekaterinoslav Guberniia, whence they were transported to Odessa.  As soon as they arrived in Odessa, a Serbian officer came to them and said that this was their means of transport and he had to take them over.  As soon as they left the wagons, pressure was put on them to declare themselves as Serbs.  They tried to resist, even though they were being maltreated and beaten with the butt-ends [of rifles] and in every possible way tortured, a large part, a great part, a huge part of them declared themselves ready to die rather than renounce their Croatiandom and declare themselves Serbs.  The Serbs told them: “We will not treat you like we have done up to now, but will further torture you till your soul leaves you.” (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Ah, common people. You want the Croatians and the Orthodox [Serbs] to kill each other, to cause a massacre.  Deputy Stipe von Vučetić: Be quiet, you Vlach! [a term used for Orthodox Serbs in Croatia, many of whom were ethnically of Vlach origin].  Deleg. Marko Mileusnić: And you priests too, I wonder, for religion says: Thou shalt not kill! …).

The President:  Mr. Deputy, keep order and do not interrupt the Speaker.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: He wishes to cause a massacre among the brethren.  A great noise is heard from the galleries.  The President rings a hand-bell.  Dr. Vuk von Kiš turns towards the galleries [and says]: Howling does not help you at all, we will not permit you to terrorize us

… [The text interrupted in the original]. (From the galleries comes an even greater howl and shouts directed at the Party of Right: “Traitors, down with the Frankists, scoundrels! “) I order the removal of [the persons] from gallery No. 3. (The gallery is emptied with a deafening uproar.) I interrupt the session.

The President (rings)!  The session continues.  To start with, I warn those who remain in the galleries to behave correctly, otherwise, at the first sign of approval or disapproval, I will empty the second gallery also.

I request Mr. Deputy, Dr. Horvat, to continue his speech.

Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat:  Even before the beginning of the Parliamentary Session, various sides communicated to us, that there is a plot to prevent the delivery of my speech.  This does not bother me.  I perform my duty and uncover the truth; I carry the original documents with which I want to show you how much the Croatians have suffered in this war from those who preach brotherhood here …[The text is interrupted in the original.] (A noise. Deputy Dr. Ivan Paleček: Rather tell us for which purpose you are doing that.)  The purpose is expressed in my Interpellation.

Gjuro Dujmović tells us that they were tortured in this manner and beaten in a most brutal way by the Serbs who joined the so-called 1st Division, formed in Odessa.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The Serbs from Croatia?) [Yes, the Serbs] from Croatia.

Many Croatians saved their lives solely, he told me, by avoiding saying that they were Croatians but [rather] Hungarians or Germans.  These they hit several times on their ribs and pushed them aside, but woe betide them if later on it was found that they were Croatians.  Such persons usually paid for this fact with their lives.

Ivan Jambrek of Radoboj was likewise pressured to identify himself as a Serb but told them: “Man, what kind of Serb would I be? I have three small sons and a wife and all of them are Croatian; therefore, I cannot be anything but a Croatian.”  They at once sentenced and punished him with 25 strokes of the cane and the man remained lying unconscious for several hours.  Nikola Šimunec of Bistrica, Ivan Iveković, Ivan Andrec of Stubica and Josip Poljak of Lovrečani were among those who were forced into this Yugoslav Division by force, and maltreated, before finally succeeding in running away.

Andrija Varga of Zlatar, Antun Hleb and Franjo Drvar told me the most terrible things about this violence.  When all this did not help, the Serbs drove them to a village near Odessa, even though they were exhausted.  There were several hundred of them there.  Here they locked them up in narrow cellars, about one hundred in each, in which there was hardly room for 20 people.  After that they poured boiling water over the beams above them in order to punish and kill these men.  Several of them were rescued due to the fact that some Russian [sic Ukrainian] women, when they saw these horrors, had pity on them and dashed off towards Odessa before coming across a contingent of Cossacks and told these otherwise pitiless soldiers what had happened and beseeched them to come to help these unfortunate men.  This detachment then came and delivered these men from the clutches of the Serbians.  Unfortunately, in one cellar [about] one hundred men suffocated, while the others were pulled out with bad burns.

These brave men, who did not want to break their oath to their Croatian King and betray their Croatian fatherland consoled each other, saying that the Savior had also suffered torments, and that the Christians were so great and powerful because of the blood of their martyrs; therefore, they said, they were ready to endure torture for their King and their fatherland as well.

The Czechs, who voluntarily joined the Yugoslav Division, for there were not enough Croatians and Slovenians, and for this reason it was necessary to fill out the Division with the Czechs, told them that there were already 60,000 armed Czechs against Austria, and that there would be double that many to see that Austria was completely destroyed.

Stjepan Rod of Brestovac, in the district of Zlatar, who was then on guard in [the town of] Delnice, made a statement to the same effect about these horrifying things.  In addition to this, whoever was interested could obtain a complete list of all the officers, particularly of Greek Orthodox religion, who went over to these Serbian battalions and by torturing our own men distinguished themselves (Deputy Većeslav Wilder: What have you found out in [the province of] Zagorje?).

Be quiet, I will present an original newspaper in which a leading article is written by Dr. Milivoje Jambrišak, former President of the Zagreb Civic Club of the [Croatian-Serbian] Coalition [Party].  This article has his signature and was printed in the newspaper issued in Odessa.  You will have an opportunity of convincing yourself.  (Deputy Dr. Ante Pavelić: Strange, this newspaper was confiscated from all the prisoners-of-war who came from Russia, so how could he come in possession of it?)

If you are interested in how I did so, I can give you information that you also may have.  Ask any of our officers and he will tell you about a colleague who succeeded in bringing over this newspaper sewn in his tunic or elsewhere in his clothes.  This one came in another way.

Our friend and political supporter, Dr. Mirko Puk, a lawyer in [the town of] Glina, and a first lieutenant of the 25th Territorial Infantry Regiment, left all his papers which he had collected in Russia to his friend and begged him to send them to him on a convenient occasion.  Several days ago, these papers were handed over to him by the Red Cross.  He delivered them to me.  I brought here two copies of the newspaper and can give them to you to see how Yugoslavia was forming in Petrograd and Odessa.

Vladko Nežić of Jaska said that the Czechs and Serbs asked him in Kiev what language he spoke.  He replied: Croatian.  After that they put him in a jail and kept him there for three days without food or drink.  In the end a Russian felt pity for him and freed him from the jail.  As soon as he went out into the corridor, a Serbian soldier met him with a bayonet attached to his rifle and struck him with its butt-end so that he lay unconscious for almost three days.  Afterwards he saved himself by escaping into the interior of Russia.

Lovro Gabrek of Jalžabet, a soldier of the 16th Infantry Regiment, was terribly tortured.  We read of similar tortures happening during the Inquisition in Spain.  After they cut and beat him from all sides, they plucked out his mustache hair by hair.  He had previously had a thick mustache, but came home without a single hair.  He said this happened with the assistance of the Serbian officers and also of ours, who had run over and joined this Yugoslav Legion.

These prisoners-of-war said that this treatment elicited the disapproval of all the inhabitants of Odessa, but no one dared to act, because the [strong hand of) tsarism was felt.  Anyone who dared to say a word, [feared] a fate would be inflicted upon him similar to that inflicted on those unfortunates.  A grave-digger in Odessa said one night that the Serbs brought him 18 dead Croatians to bury.  He said: “I must know the name of every person I bury and register it.”  They told him: “These are Croatians and therefore it is not necessary.” (Deputy Marko Mileusnić complains. … [The Deputies argue among themselves. – G.G.]

The President (rings a hand-bell): I beg the honorable Deputies that your discussions continue outside the Parliament.

Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat: Honored House! I mentioned here the names and later I will produce more convincing facts and harder evidence.  What I have just explained, the men told me directly.

In March of this year [i.e., 1918], while our men were scattered through various labor camps and when our army was coming closer and closer, the Czechs then became guilty of the greatest oppression against our people.  They took money and footwear from them and without any means of survival left them to starve.

These are officers who, being shy by nature, do not want their names to be generally known, but nevertheless reported these things and were [also] obliged to let the military authorities know, because each prisoner of-war is interrogated when he comes from Russia.  As I had a chance to come in contact with them, they told me the terrible things which had happened [there].  [The Serbs] put men in coffins alive and kept them there for several hours, and, after that, in their frightened state, forced them to join this Serbian, Yugoslav Legion.

One group of officers — when they [the Serbs] could not complete the Second Corps of the Yugoslav Legion, for our officers did not want freely to join it — they undressed them completely and chased them onto the second floor of a building.  On the way, the Serbian komitadžije [a term of Turkish origin denoting a member of a band of irregular soldiers in the Balkans] lashed their naked bodies.  When they came up, they once more chased them down with the same procedure and after that again to the second floor and, in the end, they threw them down onto the courtyard, waiting for them with fixed bayonets.  One of them was saved by falling on a pile of corpses of the killed Croatian officers, out of the reach of the bayonets and only broke his leg, [and later] came [crawling] to a hospital where he was saved.

Cases where they [the Serbs] cut up living bodies were nothing unusual, [or], when they cut off certain [sexual] organs from living bodies, these are the things of which the military records are more than full and which those men tell anybody who is interested in what happened.

Honorable members!  These were not only the men from the area of Zagorje [an area near Zagreb], but also our people from the further abroad.  (Deputy Dr. Franjo Poljak: The Serbs [from Croatia]? — they probably did not want to make them Serbs.)  Our men from Istra also suffered such tortures. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Why? This does not concern this Parliament.)  If it is true that [Deputy Dragutin von] Hrvoj talked about the Bulgarians who apparently tortured the Serbs, then it is even more necessary and appropriate in the Croatian Parliament that I tell how the Serbs tortured the Croatians.

An Istrian priest, Don D. Hlača, wrote a short report which was published in the newspaper, Hrvatska [Croatia], of 28 June [1918], where he said (Deputy Marko Mileusnić interrupts)

The President: Mr. Mileusnić please be quiet!

Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat [continues] where he [Don D. Hlača] said that the soldiers from his parish were returning from Russian prison camps and telling horrible things [he reads]:

What they are saying about the Serbian love towards the Croatians is so [dreadful] that one’s flesh creeps.  To recognize oneself Croatian amongst the Serbian officers and soldiers and at the same time immediately not swear the oath of allegiance to the Serbian King and the State, would have meant to be condemned to the most terrible tortures.  Our Istrians can not admire enough the nobility and bravery of our Banial Croatians109 who withstood all the tortures, even paying for them with death rather than breaking their bond of loyalty to the Croatian fatherland and oath of allegiance to their lawful King [Emperors Franz Joseph and Karl I]. They [the Serbs] broke their fingers and dragged them about, keeping them for several hours in icy weather [and] tortured them with hunger, pressing them bound into a jail and then above them they would hang flavored fresh loaves, in order to get them to change their mind and join the Serbian army as “volunteers.” Some of them escaped these trials, declaring themselves Italians, because they knew some Italian.

The old priest, Stjepan Kropek, of Stari Pazin in Istra wrote us (he reads):

Our worthy paper Hrvatska occasionally published various documents, how the “brother Serbs” love us.  Our prisoners of war, who are returning from Russia, bear the best witness to that.  And let one not say that these are only illusions and unproved inventions.  I will state here what my parishioners tell me, those who recently returned from Russian captivity.

My parishioners who were in Odessa and the Kiev Gubernia (prefecture), tell me similar horrible things about the Serbian love which [the newspaper] Hrvatska mentioned in its number 2075, and tell with the greatest bitterness about the traitors, the Czechs and the Serbs, who tried in every possible way to persuade the Croatians to betray their King and join the Serbian or the Czech Legion against Austria.  For this purpose they used money and promises and various threats and when all this did not help, then the persons concerned were tortured, their hands and feet cut and in this mutilated state, whilst mocking them, the Serbs threw them into the Black Sea.  Among these martyrs there were mostly Banial109 Croatians and, particularly, certain [persons] of the town of Varaždin, as the eyewitnesses testified to me; also, the same would have happened to them had they not run away at a suitable moment.  For this, every honor and glory to our ever-living martyrs — the Banial Croatians and particularly to our Varaždinians!  The innocent blood of these our martyrs will enable our beautiful mother Croatia, which has such martyrs, to be once more [victorious], free, and glorious over all its enemies.  In their name I cry: Long live our brave soldiers of Banial Croatia, long live our dear Varaždinians! — (An expression of approval and acclamation by the Party of Right: Glory to them! Deputy Dr. Ante Pavelić: Glory to all our fallen soldiers.  Deputy Marko Mileusnić: This propaganda will not help you.)

Honored House, Sergeant-Major Vid Rajković, of Brinje, who returned from Russian captivity, relates this (Horvat reads):

The other day there was a Vergaterung [Assembly].  One Serbian officer was explaining and gave a speech: “Let those who wish to be Serbian volunteers step forward.”  From among us 1,200 soldiers only 20-30 men stepped forward mostly men from Banat and Srijem.  He, the officer, asked: “What are the rest of you going to do [?]”  “We are Croatians and we will not be volunteers and shoot our brothers and fathers.  You can shoot us down right now on the spot, we are not and neither will we be [Serbian] volunteers.”  The Serbian officer replied: “We do not need you.  We are going to send you to Siberia into the mines to be slaves.”  A day or two later, they put us into railway cars and the officers said: “You are going to Siberia into the mines, where all of you will perish miserably.”  (No one was given any food.) Our reply was: “Send us, we want to go even to Siberia.”  Unfortunately, on 27 October 1916 they brought us to the Odessa railway station.  There, numerous Serbian volunteers, Russian soldiers and Cossacks — all armed, waited for us.  We protested and did not want to come down from the coaches.  While surrounding us, they threw us from the cars and, under their guns with bayonets and Cossack switches, they forcibly brought us to a camp of volunteers.  Here they counted us, twenty by twenty, and led us to the volunteers’ barracks.  [There] they tore off our clothes, beat, and registered us.

I wanted in no way to register myself [as a volunteer].  Then the officer who was doing the registering hit me twice on my face, threw my cap from my head.  They extinguished a lamp which was on the writing table, then the volunteers came to help with the butt-ends [of rifles] and they beat me for a quarter of an hour in darkness until blood from my nose and mouth flowed all over me.  Seeing that there was no help [in this situation], I registered myself but under a name belonging to someone else from another commune and district.  In the morning I went for a medical visit.  I had a temperature of forty-one degrees and was spitting up blood.  Here there were Russian and Serbian doctors, who ordered me to be taken to a city-hospital.  When a cart came, a Serb was sent instead of me and I remained in a room for sick people.  In my great pain and agony I heard when the Serbian komitadji came for me, kicking me with his foot and asked: “Who are you, Croatian, cursed be your Croatian mother (majku ti hrvatsku)?  You will live only until this evening and no further.  Let the fish of the Black Sea eat you up.”  [After that] my friends came for me [:] Corporal (desetnik) Nikola Butković, Toma Rajković, home-guard Mirko, Mile and Jozo Pernar, Stipe Fumić, Ivan Lasić, Ivan Antončić.  I complained bitterly of [the treatment] and repeated what the komitadji had said.  They brought me over into their barracks, hid me, and spread news that I had died.  I was in bed for eight days before being able to get up.

On 6 November 1916, I changed my uniform and they brought me to a company.  I did not want this and said that I was sick and wished to stay until I was well.  On 15 November 1916, the Fourth Battalion moved from Odessa to Marinsko; since there was no clerk, they ordered me to be the company’s clerk and we came to Marinsko.  That night at 11 o’clock (22-23 November 1916), 215 men ran away in the direction of Odessa to a military commander.  There were 181 soldiers, 33 warrant-officers (podčasnik), one sergeant-major (narednik) three file-leaders (vodnik); the rest were corporals (desetnici).  Early in the morning, not far from Odessa, we met the Cossacks who were sent by the Serbian Army to pursue us.  The Cossack line stopped us and asked where we were going.  Then I and field-leader Mijo Culig and Stojan Papac begged the Cossacks to let us go to the Russian command or to the military chief.  They did not agree and drove their horses against us, drew out their sabers and lances and began to shoot.  Some of us were wounded.  Then they returned us to Marinsko, beating us on the way.  They beat me so much that I probably fell down 20 times into the mud.  They chased us like a wolf pursuing sheep.  They chased us for 5-6 kilometers and we ran, bare-footed, for our shoes remained in the mud.  We cried, for God’s sake.  When they had driven us up to Marinsko from where we had run away, a band of volunteers [already] was waiting for us.  I, as a sergeant-major and the battalion’s scribe, was at the head of the men.  By the time I came to the battalion command, I had received countless beatings with rifle-stocks and slaps in the face and had been pulled by my hair and mustache.  When commanded, the battalion major, Srdjan Gajić, came out [and said : ] “Sergeants, right turn” was his command.  When he noticed me he was half a meter taller and said: “Sergeant-major, you are here, cursed be your mother (j…. ti majku tvoju).  You caused trouble in my battalion among my men.”  He hit me in the face on the left and right side and I fell down and he said: “Komitadjis, take him into the cellar and do what you want with him.  In 24 hours I do not want to see him alive.”  When the komitadjis took hold of us sergeants, everyone got countless blows with the stocks of their rifles until we reached the cellar.  These komitadjis included the Gypsies Mito Munćan and his brother Lazo, from Banat; I do not know where the rest came from.  At the door of the cellar, Lazo hit me with a gun-butt on the neck and I fell down unconscious.  They tore off all my clothes and I neither heard nor felt anything.  When they poured cold water on me, I regained consciousness.  Then I noticed that I was naked.  All the money that I had they had taken away.  After half an hour, Captain Milan Tanasković came with four komitadjis armed with rifles; they opened the cellar and called [:] “Sergeant, come out.”  I came out.  He made inquiries as to why I had stirred up the men and as to why I was not a volunteer and gave a sign to the komitadjis.  They placed me in the middle of the room [and] two of them beat me with the butt-ends of their rifles in the back and two on the chest.  Then they threw me down on the floor and again started to beat me and throttled me until I lost consciousness.  They broke a finger on my left hand and the thumb on my right one.  You can still see  it today.  In this way they beat all the sergeants, one by one.  The soldiers, the men, were particularly beaten and locked up.  After an hour Captain Savić came and did the same [i.e., beat them].  In the evening the komitadjis again beat us with rifles, sticks, and shovels, jumping on our bellies and chests; the komitadjis drank wine and beer with our money, scoffing at us: “You Schwabians [Germans] earned good money and we are drinking and beating you.” (Dobro ste Švabe zaradili novaca, mi pijemo a vašu kožu bijemo.)  The next day, in the morning, the komitadjis again beat us.  After one hour Lieutenant-Colonel Jovan Korda came — this Korda [a Serb from Croatia] was born in Vinkovci — and Miloš Delić [a Serb from Bosnia], a Standard Bearer of the 26th Infantry Regiment and in civilian life, a teacher from the Bosnian border, called me and tried to persuade me to join the volunteers.   I did not want to do so at all and replied[:] “I am dying, I have been beaten and my finger is broken, what kind of a volunteer am I?  Then they became angry with me and said: “Lie down!”  I lay down and three komitadjis beat me with sticks till I became unconscious.  [Later] I could not get up.  They threw me into the cellar which was 12 steps below [ground].  That evening, the komitadjis beat me again.  This continued for four days.  On the fifth day, a Serbian doctor came and bound our wounds.  This time they stopped beating us.  During the 12 days in the course of which they dressed the wounds, the officers urged us to become volunteers.  In no way did we 33 sergeants want to do this.  Then one night Lieutenant-Colonel Jovo Korda took us 33 sergeants and 27 soldiers away as insurgents to the Serbian command in Odessa.  While the [Serbian] Commander of the battalion, Srdjan Gajić was sending us off to Odessa, he said: “Why, I do not know what will happen to you.  As far as I know about you, Sergeant, you will not remain alive.  For you, a sharp pole has been ordered and every five minutes they will impale you slowly on it, until you are dead.”  The Serbian volunteers beat us from midnight until morning.  In the morning, they drove us through Odessa to some factories and on the way they beat and tormented us.  After they had driven us [to the place], the next night the komitadjis beat us while we were imprisoned there.  The next day they ordered twenty blows for each one of us before returning us [again] to Marinsko.  After saying that, they gave us twenty strokes each and returned us to Marinsko.  Here they assembled us by companies, demoting me to the ranks, and I was chosen for all sorts of chores.  On 21 January 1917, we came to the town of Orehov in the Tavricheskaia Guberniia.  There were many Jews and Germans there to whom we told what our situation was.  They interceded on our behalf, particularly one teacher to whom I gave my 17 [hidden] rubles for a cable to Petrograd.  A commission came from there who freed us non-volunteers and returned us to captivity.

One man alone wrote this [Dr. Alexander Horvat said, continuing his presentation] and he correctly described these events.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić complains about something.)  So Mr. Mileusnić does not become nervous while complaining, I will supply him with what was written in Russia and what was publicly brought before the Soviet.110   In Petrograd there is a newspaper — Jugoslavia.  Here is the issue dated 9 July 1917.  Because you do not believe what our man writes, and because you are not of our opinion, I take the liberty of telling you that this paper says the following (he reads):

“Our national program is the complete liberation of the subjugated Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians and union for all, based upon the principle of complete equality and self-deternination.”  (Showing [the paper] left and right.) I wonder, I think I have read this program somewhere else.  (Laughter. Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Very well, and you [also] agree with it!)  The Yugoslavs wherever they may be are-showing a picture such as is here.  They cannot be in love for long; they quickly separate.  In the First Corps there were a great number of native Serbs, as well as [some] from the Kingdom of Serbia; the former commander Hadžić employed them so that they did not come under the command of General Živković, who had been requested by the Serbian Government on Corfu; he [Hadžić] went with these volunteers to Dobrudja — [a region in Rumania and Bulgaria] — where they suffered a terrible defeat as their own newspaper wrote about it, so that hardly one tenth of them returned, more dead than alive.  Because of the very bad Serbian treatment vis-à-vis these volunteers, a process of disintegration began in their camp.  On 6 May 1917 the journal, Slovenski Jug (The Slavonic South), published in Odessa, brought out a memorandum from those officers who left this Volunteer Corps as dissidents.  It would be too long to read it, even though I have noted it all down; however, it will be [in various ways] repeated several times.

The program of these dissidents was the establishment of a federative Yugoslavia.  They do not want Serbian domination; they wished for equality [even] of the Latin alphabet [used in Croatia and Slovenia] with the Cyrillic one [used in Serbia]; equality of the Croatian flag with the Serbian and Slovenian ones, which was not permitted to them in the First Yugoslav Corps of Volunteers.  On this occasion, 200 officers and 500 soldiers left, reported to the Russian authorities and demanded the creation of a separate Yugoslav Legion for them, which would not come under Serbian command.

As a condition, they postulated that they would not be used to conquer other countries but solely to occupy those Yugoslav lands which the Russian Army would conquer and there they would [then] keep peace and order.

These dissidents established in Petrograd a newspaper, Jugoslavia, which published the program mentioned above.  In order to justify their action, they felt obliged to publish in their journal all that had happened to them.  Therefore, in the issues of 7, 8, and 9 July 1917, a year ago, an account appeared under the title “The Serbian Volunteer Corps,” [recounting] all these events as told to the “Soviet of Soldiers and Workers.”  Several days ago, when Mr. Dragutin Hrvoj said here in Parliament with emphasis: The Serbian name is the most honorable in the whole cultural world today, I will answer him only with what the Yugoslav volunteers wrote about it and those who fought in the First [Volunteer] Corps but had to withdraw because of the Serbian treatment.  They said (he reads):

The history of the Serbian Corps of Volunteers in Russia is, by all means, one of the saddest pages in the history of the Yugoslavs.  There is not a catastrophe in our history which could be compared with the moral catastrophe to which this [Volunteer] Corps has brought us.  And who would say in advance how long this poisonous seed of distrust, of hate, crime and blood, which this [Volunteer] Corps has sown on our national field will last.  Never has a greater blow to the prestige of Serbia and to the whole idea of Yugoslav union been brought [than this one].

Now he is speaking [Dr. Alexander Horvat continues] about the idealism which those who joined this First Volunteer Corps in Odessa brought with them and about the enthusiasm with which they went to Dobrudja, where they suffered such a difficult and sad defeat.  At the beginning of Spring 1916, when the 1st Division of the First [Volunteer] Corps was created, it was decided to create a new volunteer division, the so-called Second Corps.  I will quote only some parts from the history of this Second Corps, even though it is so terrible that, only for the sake of information will I read it all. (He reads):

Among the officers whom Royal Serbia sent [to Odessa] in order to train [the volunteers] there were, of course, men of a good standard, but the majority of them did not even come close to performing their task satisfactorily.  So, for example, commander Colonel Hadžić ruined several divisions in Serbia and was generally known as an incompetent officer.  He had no other merits.

The Serbian officers simply continued their usual narrow military activity, taking no account at all of the specific character of the new military unit.  Apart from the usual insults, they still called the soldiers Schwabians and Magyars, and that was all.  The attitude vis-à-vis the officer volunteers was no better.  They looked down on them, often with disdain.  It happened that a Serbian officer told the officer volunteers that he despised them because they had broken their oath of allegiance to Austria.

Thus, it happened that [one day] the volunteers faced the very well-equipped Bulgarian, Turkish, and German Armies, while they had no proper rifles and lacked ammunition and had no artillery, in a word, without anything.

At that time, General Živković came to Russia in order to take command of the Corps [of Volunteers].  Instead of the promised two divisions, there were none.  The formation of the second division, for which they had hoped to acquire the Czech prisoners of war, was hampered from the beginning.  There was no hope that, through regular propaganda, at any foreseeable time it would be possible to gather a sufficient number of men. Kušaković and his friends were in distress. In order to overcome this, they threw themselves into a conscious-less, impudent, and reckless attempt to form the second division.

As early as 4 January 1916, the Russian Tsar had decided that the Yugoslav prisoners of war could be concentrated in the area of the Odessa Military Zone.  This was done at the request of the Serbian Embassy in order to facilitate propaganda in favor of a volunteer corps.  At the beginning, the Tsar’s decision was carried out only as far as the officers were concerned.  Almost all of the Yugoslav officers who were prisoners of war were brought to Odessa and among them there were agitators who urged them to join the [Volunteer Corps].  Those who did not want to join it were returned to the prisoner of war camps.

Colonel Košaković [sic= Kušaković] and his helpers used the Tsar ‘s decision to form, in the shortest possible time, a second division and in this way to justify their telegram to the Serbian Government which, accordingly, sent General Živković to Russia.

As before, the prisoner of war officers were transported to Odessa regardless of whether they wished to join the [Volunteer Corps]; likewise, they now transported the enlisted prisoners of war: Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians.

The prisoner of war officers were politely asked whether they wanted to join the Corps.  Those who refused were transported back to the prisoner of war camp.  Vis-à-vis the enlisted prisoners of war, a completely different tactic was used.  Each group of prisoners was escorted by Russian guards directly to the barracks of a complementary battalion of the 1st Division.  This was a long and narrow building, always humid, more similar to a prison than to anything else.  As a matter of fact, this dark structure was destined to be a Mamertine prison for innocent martyrs who were victims of mean, personal interests and dishonest intrigues.111

Gentlemen, these very men who escaped from Serbian hands [Dr. Alexander Horvat said]. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Why? This is not the concern of this Parliament.) (He reads):

On 1 October 1916, the prisoners of war working in the Odessa area until then were first transferred there.  There were about 1,000 of them, mostly Croatians and Slovenians.  In the barracks they were told that, according to the wish of the Russian Tsar, all South Slavs had to be mobilized, and for this reason they should not pay attention to whether they wanted to join the [Volunteer Corps] or not.  Then the commander of the battalion divided them into groups and assigned them to battalions.  It is quite natural that the prisoners of war protested.  For this reason, these prisoners, during the night of 1 and 2 October [1916], in groups of 10-15, were brought out to a coach-house, where they were beaten.  After the beating one half of the men agreed to join the battalions.  Those who remained firm were kept in the barracks where they did not receive any food.  During the day they lay on the barracks floor, exhausted from the beatings.  In the evening, more new victims were brought in, and during the night the beatings continued.

Every night several men were beaten so badly that the next day they had to be taken to hospital.  Besides this, every night there were one or two men who died [because of the beatings], and, as it was later known, these dead men were secretly thrown into the [Black] Sea near Odessa.  It was no wonder that at this time many “drowned” Austrian prisoners were drawn from the Sea.  How many men paid for the intrigue of Kušaković with their heads one cannot correctly establish.

Further it is said (he reads):

The barracks were located in the busiest part of Odessa.  Screams and calls for help from the unfortunate victims woke Odessa’s citizens from their sleep, upset by this inhuman treatment and senseless cruelty.  Nobody could protest, for at this time the whole of Russia was under the weight of the iron hand of Stürmer’s regime.  Those who committed these offenses had the full support of the Russian authorities and this was sufficient.  (Deputy Dr. Ivan Frank: There on the gallery, behave yourselves correctly.)  I would ask the galleries not to murmur [says the Speaker].  (Deputy Dr. Ivan Frank: I request that the Presidency makes a ruling.  Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The men have the right to do so.  The President rings his hand bell.)

Now this newspaper of the Yugoslavs in Petrograd asks (he reads):

And what did the gentlemen who portray themselves as guardians of the people’s interest do, as great fighters for liberty and for the pure Yugoslav idea?  Where at that time was the vocal Dr. Jambrišak?112  While the unfortunate victims were sobbing, screaming and dying under the hand of a torturer, Dr. Jambrišak was sitting with his people somewhere in the “Northern Tavern” and drinking dark red wine with money which came from unknown sources.  His intoxicated tongue was sluggishly turning in his mouth, while the great “politician” was expressing his sapient sentences [ideas], such as, for example: Ha-ha!  A Croatian is like a machine; it is only necessary to wind him up and he will go anywhere you want …  [Here and in the next two sentences the text was interrupted in the original.] Ha-ha, all of them are Frankists … It is only necessary to beat them well … Ha-ha, all the traitors have to be killed. [After all] why has one to have pity on various “rebels,” the dolts from Zagorje.  So spoke Jambrišak, this monster.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić mumbles something.  Deputy Ivan Zatluka: Be careful.  You know what Wilder told you.)

And now this gentleman who, later on, through certain nefarious intrigues, became a member of the “Yugoslav Committee” [in London], stated in the organ of the same Committee, Slovenski Jug, that he took responsibility for all these crimes committed in forming the 2nd Division and, in addition, he cynically boasted that the initiative for a forced recruitment for this division was his.

A particularly shameful infamy regarding the formation of the 2nd Division was that every prisoner of war, regardless of whether the man was joining it freely or not, was robbed without exception.  While the victim was sobbing under the blows which were falling upon him like rain, trying to protect his unfortunate head, at the same time the skillful hands [of his tormentors] were penetrating his pocket and plundering what little money he had saved while working in the interior of Russia as a prisoner of war, at a salary of 10-15 kopecks per day.113  Some intelligent persons distinguished themselves in this work, particularly Dr. of Law Čeremov.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: These are denunciations.)

In this way, the 2nd Division was formed in less than one month and General Živković had a Corps to command… [Text interrupted in the original].  It was clear to everybody that such “volunteers” could not be deployed to the front line, but Kušaković could not have cared less about that.  To him, it was most important to give the General a division and as for what would happen after that, nobody cared.

Nobody paid attention to what consequences such violence would have for the future relations of the Serbs with the Croatians and Slovenians.  There is no doubt that all those men in Odessa who were subjected to such violence will remain for a long, long time sworn enemies of Serbia and the Serbian people.

Thus, the Volunteer Corps, instead of becoming a school of brotherly concord, love, and reconciliation, became a school and hotbed of hatred.  In this lies the deep and sad tragedy of the 2nd Division, which was caused by several corrupt elements among the volunteers themselves, namely, the Serbian officers.

It is understandable that such silovoljci114 used the first opportunity to run away.  The Cossacks had their hands full to catch them and to return them to their regiments and battalions, where  severe punishment, of course, awaited them.  Punishment routinely consisted of beatings and jail; but, there were inventive commanders who tried to introduce some variety in the monotonous punishment.  Thus, for example, Major Perivoj Ilić, punished the unruly soldiers by sentencing them to death.  After that, he would order each of them to dig his own grave, then tied them up and brought soldiers who [supposedly] would shoot them; but, he was only playing a game of execution with them.  However, some commanders did not play such a game, but really did kill them and[or] gave orders to kill the unruly silovoljci.

Of course, every honest man, deep in his soul, was furious about such tyranny.  But to protest against it was dangerous, for one could share the same destiny which the Volunteer Captain Stolf, a Czech, got, because of just such a protest.  Two higher ranking officers killed him in a bestial way.

Some volunteers wrote about all these offenses to some Croatians and Slovenians living in Petrograd and they informed the Russian government about it, requesting that, in the interest of the Slavic cause, such treatment of Slavic prisoners of war should not be permitted.  Fortunately, at that time the Stürmer [government] fell and the new [but] short-lived government of Trepov emerged, and it was decided to investigate the recruitment of volunteers for the 2nd Division.  Serbian circles justified themselves by pointing out that the Croatians and the Slovenians were traitors to the Slavic cause, etc.  As is known, these circles still use these tactics today.

As a result of this, the Russian government ordered that in the future only those prisoners of war who freely declared themselves willing to join the Volunteer [Corps] were to be sent to Odessa.  This, at least, stopped the offenses and tyranny.  Of course, Dr. Jambrišak did not like it, because he was just working on a plan to mobilize all the Yugoslavs — the prisoners of war and he [even] said that all that had happened before “is nothing [compared] to that which he is going to organize[“].

Honored House [Dr. Alexander Horvat continued], these men are dissidents, those who were serving in the Serbian Legion and who established, as I said, an independent Yugoslav Legion and were publicly accused by Serbian General Živković, strangely enough using those same words which our gentlemen also use here.  Serbian General Živković called all the Yugoslav dissidents, simply “Frankists” and Austro-Hungarian agents-provocateurs.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The devil with it!  Do they also know of Frankists over there?)  Mr. Mileusnić: Every Croatian who recognized the [Austro-Hungarian] King and who was outside the country was a Frankist to them.  The [term] Frankist symbolizes a synthesis of all Croatiandom.  (Shouts by the Party of Right: Quite so! Deputy Marko Mileusnić: In ’48 [1848, during the Revolution] we [Croatians] saved him [the Austrian King] and what did we get for that? … [the text is interrupted in the original, G.G.]  In order that you may be assured that I do not speak by heart, I will quote.  The second paragraph of Živković’s accusation states (he reads):

All those Croatians and Slovenians who joined the Corps [of Volunteers] and now resigned, are Frankists and Austrian agents-provocateurs who entered the Corps only for the following reasons:

1.- to spy on what one did in the Corps and report where necessary, namely to Austria. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: And are there also spies over there?)

2.- to work for the destruction of the Corps.

3.- to free themselves from captivity and to live in Odessa with a high salary.

(Deputy Marko Mileusnić leaves the hall.) Bon appétit, Marko! (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Thank you!)

Honored House!  A dispute which arose between the [newspapers] Yugoslavia and Slavonic South, the Yugoslav organ which is published in Odessa, came to this: that Dr. Jambrišak, [in an article] in this paper, bearing his signature as a member of the Yugoslav Committee [in London], No. 18 of 13 May 1917, enrolled these dissidents and it is interesting that, while defending himself, he admitted the truth of all those things that our poor men who returned from Russia are saying.  While defending himself, he admitted that the success of recruitment for the 2nd Division was very poor. [Horvat quotes:]

The volunteer-officers, Croatians and Slovenians, joined in a substantial number, about 250, so that the intelligentsia was rather well represented.  As far as the soldiers are concerned, the response was not proportional, for only a few hundred joined, thus the number of the officers vis-à-vis the number of the soldiers was out of proportion.  This fact incited the Croatian and Slovenian officers and Dr. Potočnjak — (Dr. Potočnjak represented at that time the Yugoslav Committee in Russia) — to work on gathering more soldiers, Croatian and Slovenian; for this purpose [they decided] to send [some] officers, who would travel throughout Russia, to explain to the men in the military camps the purpose of the Corps and call them to join it as volunteers.  [However], due to lack of cooperation of the provincial and military authorities, on the one side, and also because of the work in the field during harvesting time when the men were dispersed while working, the success [of this initiative] was insignificant.  Among those who traveled, agitated and gathered volunteers were Milan Banić Golija, Landikućiš [Landikušić?] et al.

Further to this Dr. Jambrišak writes:

As I said, the level of success was very poor.  When we returned from the journey, we submitted reports about this and some expressed their thoughts and proposals as how to recruit more Croatians and Slovenians for the Volunteer [Corps].  After a short time, on my initiative and with the support of Dr. Potočnjak and with the consent of General Živković, an inquiry was made in the Corps with the intention of discussing this question.  During this inquiry it was decided, following a proposal of the Croatians and Slovenians present, to bring to Odessa with the help of the Russian authorities a larger number of Croatians and Slovenians and that the Croatian and the Slovenian volunteer-officers would move among [these] men and explain to them the real state of the situation and fry to convince them to become volunteers.  We declare our firm belief that in this way we will have success.  We particularly expressed and wrote in a formal statement that for this step we absolve official Serbia and the Corps of all responsibility; we take [full] responsibility for all the consequences vis-à-vis the Croatians and the Slovenians and all the others and we do not renounce this responsibility today but, on the contrary, even stress it.

The motivation which led us was in general this: By ill fortune the Croatians and the Slovenians were obliged to fight on the front lines against the Russians and earlier also against Serbia — against those [the Serbians] who were [supposed to] liberate us.  We, who happened to come to Russia, have to show that we wish to shake off Austrian rule and to go to the front lines with the brothers who are fighting against this oppression.  It is necessary to spill Croatian blood for freedom, for only he who is also ready to die for it respects liberty.

The national intelligentsia in such a case has the right to win over the nation for the struggle for liberation.  We consider it even a duty to organize the Croatians in Russia for the struggle, bearing in mind the great sacrifices of the [South] American Croatians who were owed a lot by the whole of Yugoslavia, and history will rightly appreciate their sacrifices and inscribe in golden letters on the pages of the history of the Great War.  We did not want to remain behind the [South] American Croatians and we [therefore] went to support them.

In the process of forming the 2nd Division into which about 3800 Croatians and 2100 Slovenians entered, some unpleasant things happened, due to the fact that our people were uninformed about the things which are almost unavoidable in such work.  In order to escape these harsh realities, an “educational command” was created in order to inform and politically educate the people.

The Serbian Command had to politically educate the volunteers, the silovoljci, in order that they understand why they were volunteers in the Serbian [Volunteer] Corps!  [Dr. Alexander Horvat correctly remarks]. (He reads):

In this work Banić, as a commander of the battalion, actively and energetically participated in the educational command and [also] Ivo Mance in the supplementary battalion, explaining and conducting the organization with all the means at his disposal.  The 2nd Division was formed and sent to nearby villages.

And now hear about the Austro-Hungarian discipline in the army which Dr. Bertić mentioned shortly before [Deputy] [Dr. A. Horvat said]. (He reads):

The officers who came from Corfu, used to hard discipline in the Serbian Army [sic!], insisted on harsh discipline not only for the soldiers but also for the volunteer officers, which is quite understandable under the circumstances.

Food-stuffs in Russia increased greatly in price, while the officers’ salaries were relatively small in comparison to the prices.  For this reason the volunteer-officers became dissatisfied and, from time to time, they expressed their demands for an increase in their salaries.  On account of the unsuccessful battles in the Dobrudja, their morale declined to some extent, which is quite understandable.  From this a desire was born not to go [any more] into battle except in their homeland.  Many officers could not accommodate themselves to the harsh discipline.

[The officers] requested that General [Živković] change the name of the Corps, improve their material conditions, replace the Serbian emblems with Yugoslav ones, that writing in the Latin alphabet be made equal to that in the Cyrillic, and that the Croatians and the Slovenians be separated from the Serbs and form separate regiments.  As far as religion was concerned, one had to be particularly watchful and not mix the Catholics with the Orthodox believers.  The Corps must also not be considered as an army of the Kingdom of Serbia, but as a separate revolutionary Yugoslav Army.  Finally, this revolutionary army, never and under any circumstances, must not be engaged outside of the boundaries of our unliberated national territory, and anyone who would try to engage it outside these boundaries — regardless from where he came — (as, for instance the engagement with the Russians in the Dobrudja expedition) — was to be brought before the people’s court.  In addition, the committee of officers demanded a parallel policy in the Corps, probably on the pattern of the Austrian Army?! and that the editorship of the Slovenski Jug be given over to them.  Švrljuga, being without work, wanted to get on the editorial board and [for this reason] he pushed them to propose this; however, I have to admit that in this he did not receive support from everybody.  As far as the newspaper is concerned, the General was, anyway, not in a position to fulfil this request, for Slovenski Jug was an organ of the Yugoslav Committee.  However, this did not prevent them from demanding it, wishing to sharpen the conflict.  As a condition for remaining in the Corps, they demanded a “guarantee” that Yugoslavia would be a federal state.

Dr. Jambrišak, who encouraged the massacres in association with the Serbian officers, in the end said about these Yugoslav dissidents (he reads):

They submitted a notorious memorandum which swarms with attacks on Serbia, but have not made a single remark against Austria.  They speak of Serbian imperialism, saying that the Croatians and the Slovenians will not fight in the Corps, for they are not ready to shed their blood to end their slavery, etc.  In short — and this is characteristic — it seems that the Croatians and the Slovenians are more satisfied in Austria than they would be in a union with Serbia.  In the introduction of the memorandum it is stated that they are fighting for Yugoslavia and at the end they demanded the disbanding of the Corps.

Now, Dr. Jambrišak speaks about the form of the future Yugoslav state and says that an agreement about this was not reached [between the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbian Government convened at Corfu], and that the people will decide after the war according to the principle of self-determination, which form [of state] they want — whether a republic [or] a federated Kingdom under the scepter of Karadjordjević, etc.

This historical survey of the origin, creation, and activity of the Serbian Legions describes the legions which destroyed tens of thousands of Croatian sons who fell into [Russian] captivity, whose parents were certainly waiting for them to return home.  It is consoling only that these thousands and thousands did not want to join these Serbian volunteers and died as martyrs rather than betray their Fatherland and their King.  And then let somebody tell me that this Yugoslav idea will not taint the Croatian nation [Dr. Alexander Horvat said].  (Deputy Dr. Živko Bertić: It will not taint it but cure it.  Noise [in the Parliament]).

When Ilija Rašković and Stjepan Ožbolt, members of the Domagoj academic club, both from Radziechowa, and the Slovenian Valencic, a sergeant-major, returned from [Russian] captivity, they wrote [a letter] dated 26 July [1917], as follows:

We endured more during our captivity than anybody else, and why should only we be forgotten and forsaken by all?  Even in a foreign country we did not forget our Fatherland — our dear mother Croatia; in Russia we suffered and shed our blood for no other reason than that we were born and educated by our Croatian mothers and for that reason we have been and are Croatians.  We were imprisoned, beaten, killed, and tortured by hunger.  But in spite of all the tortures and suffering and threats, nobody could compel the Croatians and Slovenians to renounce their name and become traitors to our Fatherland.

In vain thousands of good mothers, faithful wives and defenseless children awaited their dear sons, husbands, and fathers — bread-winners who left their lives and their bones in every part of Great Russia.  They wait for them in vain; they will never return.

If the Black Sea could speak, it could have told you how many thousands of Slovenian and Croatian sons it swallowed.  (Commotion in the galleries.)  Mr. President, what does this mean?  Why, will we the national representatives, be provoked by the galleries?  (Noise. Deputy Većeslav Wilder: Why do you disagree with the galleries.  Deputy Dr. Ivo Frank: To tolerate this consistent provocation is really a shame.  Noise. Deputy Većeslav Wilder: You wanted to have full galleries.)  We do not need them [i.e., the youths in the galleries].  (He shows the manuscripts.) These are our galleries.

I have here a letter from a man who was a volunteer for a year — (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Is what are you saying the truth?  Newspapers are newspapers) — who spent those terrible days in Odessa and who has a complete report about what the Serbs from the Kingdom of Serbia and also from Croatia and Slavonia did.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: This is all untrue.)  I gave here the names of many men and I would ask that one does not speak in this way about these men who had courage to come give their names and who therefore personally bear witness to what they said.  This volunteer is named Juraj Grčević, now on leave of absence in Kompolje.  He said that in the middle of October 1916, when Russian policemen were picking up prisoners of war throughout Ekaterinoslav Guberniia and driving them, about 2,000, to Odessa, there was already a revolt, because our men did not want to be taken away to Odessa. In this report he said more about it (he reads):

On the second day there came to a camp for prisoners of war a Serbian Captain Majstorović accompanied by several Czechs, sub-lieutenants of the Serbian Legion, Warrant Officer Stanovoj, assistants, [and some] Russians.  While the Captain went to the Serb volunteers to get a report from them, the Czechs were persuading us to join the Corps [as they had had to].  Because of the lack of Yugoslavs, they had been called upon to replace our representatives.

Among the Croatian and Slovenian prisoners a storm of protests arose on the subject the Czechs had brought up: “We do not want to know about Serbia!  Separate us from Serbia and the Serbian officers!  Long live King Franz Joseph I! (Živio kralj Franjo Josip I!).  Majstorović left the report, ran up to us and shouted like a lunatic: “It is shameful what the Russians are permitting in the camp against the prisoners-of-war!  Bring machine-guns and make them ready!  If this would happen in Germany, the Germans would kill them all, for this I have documentary evidence (sic!).”

Assistant Stanovoj (a chief of the Russian police) accompanied by policemen with daggers hanging on their belts, shamed by [the remark of] the Serbian officers, ran towards the prisoners with a leather whip, beating them mercilessly [and shouting]: “Skotina! Russkie voennoplienny, raby!  Vam idti tuda kuda Rossiia hochet’.”  (Beasts! Russian prisoners of war, slaves!  Where Russia wants, there you will go.)  Majstorović knocked out a German with a saber who was watching the scene and after this the rest of the prisoners, the Germans and the Bulgarians, ran away to the barracks.  The Serb [Majstorović] shouted like an infuriated animal, vehemently brandishing his saber in his right hand in a circle above his head.  Cursing bitterly and threatening us, the officers of [Serbian] King Peter [then] went away.

After their departure a company of Russians promptly came, under the command of an officer, and with the Cossack bayonets drove half of the men, about 1,000, to the main railway station.  These captives demonstrated in front of the house of the voennyi nachal ‘nik (head of an administrative district).  The Russian soldiers, good-natured and honest, did not want to reestablish order. The voennyi nachal ‘nik had to send for the Cossacks who with sticks and daggers drove away the captives to the Ekaterinoslav main railway station and pushed them into wagons.  After two days they also drove us from captives’ camp and the only [difference was] that at the same time, the Cossacks took us away with two companies of Russian soldiers. The townspeople, surprised, were running after us and asked what we had done, thinking that they were conducting us to a place of execution.

At the main railway station they pushed us into the wagons and transported us towards Odessa. Many Russian soldiers could not understand what they were to do with us and how they could force us to go into battle against our own people.  Thinking about our situation, I asked them [our men] to keep in mind their oath of allegiance and stressed that it was impossible that the Serbs would force us [to join the Volunteer Corps] and give us arms, for it was against sound reasoning to give arms to the enemy; [however], if they would, in a mad state of mind, still give us arms, then they should know the consequences in advance.  For these words I almost paid with my life in Odessa.  The eyewitnesses will confirm this.

At the Balta railway station, we saw Captain Pandić, a Yugoslav, Serbocroat (sic!) of the Roman Catholic religion as he claimed, wearing a Serbian uniform with four stars on his shoulders.  A Serb, Kukić, a corporal in the 27th Infantry Regiment, who was in my railway car, spoke with him.  This spy was decked out with the Serbian tricolor and was around us all the time.  It was he who denounced me.

On 25 October 1916, in the middle of night, they drove us by force into the “Kanatnyi zavod” (the Rope Factory) on Bol ‘shaya Arnautskaya Street No. 2.  There were “Serbs everywhere” (Srbi svi i svuda), and two Yugoslavs were waiting for us.  The Serbs had guns in their hands and were wearing cartridge belts across their chests from where bullets stuck out.  This was at the time when the Bulgarians had utterly defeated the Serbian Volunteer Division in the Dobrudja and they, reorganizing themselves, were coming in small groups of three or four to Odessa, where the blood-thirsty General Živković and his Serbian officers gave them at once a chance to strike at the other dangerous Yugoslav nation, the Croatians, who, fortunately [for them], had no knives or guns in their hands, unlike the Bulgarians.

These were the Serbian legionaries, slabosilci, policemen, or komitadjis, as were called, who, at the time of mobilization of the Croatians and the Slovenians, committed countless crimes and were the authors of terrible cruelties.  The Odessa mobilization is a black spot in the history of the Serbian nation, and, because of this, the Yugoslav Piedmont — small Serbia — will be ashamed of itself forever.

There were, as I said, “Serbs everywhere”, Sub-Lieutenants Dr. Stefanović, Novaković, Blažević, corporals Dr. Čerenov of Novi Sad, Jerko Jedlička of Mostar and two Yugoslavs, captains Pandić and Gašparović and about eighty slabosilci armed to their teeth.  This guard of slabosilci at once expressed their dissatisfaction with the Austrian cap-badges (cocardes), wanting us all to tear them off and throw them away.  We did not permit that.  After  that the Yugoslavs of the Catholic faith started to indoctrinate us: that we had to be ashamed, because with our bravery as faithful servants we brought shame on the Croatian name!

When we dared to respond that there did not appear to be any evil in serving one’s own lawful ruler faithfully, that, on the contrary, we considered it a virtue and we were proud of fighting in the lines of the Austrian Army, that we were defending our Croatian bodies from the invasion of the enemy, the slabosilci surrounded these “preachers.”  Due to a lack of national consciousness, they could not find any Croatians but those who had thrown themselves against us like enraged animals.  They started to beat the barehanded captives with their fists, gun-butts, and sticks till they were bleeding; they knocked out their teeth, broke their ear-drums while hitting them on their ears, knocked them out with their fists and with their gun-butts, and broke their ribs while they lay on the ground.  The “preachers” of pure Serbian blood — not Yugoslav — (for the Serbs will always remain Serbs!) — not only permitted the slabosilci to beat [the prisoners of war] but they themselves beat them also.  The Šokci were violently falling to the ground because of the [“preachers'”] sabers.115  As they did so, these brother Serbs did not conceal their malevolence; [on the contrary] they were saying: “Hey! Šokac, this [blow] is for you; this one is for our [Orthodox] Church; this one is for the [Orthodox] priest (pop) Elijah, whom you brought in chains; this one is for killing the Serbian children,” etc.  The Yugoslav “preachers” [of the Catholic faith] did not actively participate in this indoctrination,” but, after the storm was over, when our Serbian brothers stopped running around us, while we were rubbing our ribs and cleaning off the blood, they informed us that beating is forbidden in Serbia, for it is the most democratic state in the world (sic!), but that it was rather we, with our mean-spirited answers, who made it possible for these honest patriots to justify themselves.  The leader of the Yugoslav Odessa “preachers,” the Yugoslav minister — as the blood-thirsty General Živković addressed Dr. Franko Potočnjak — did not show himself in front of the Croatian prisoners of war.  In spite of this, he carries the greatest moral responsibility for Odessa ‘s terrors, because General Živković received permission from Tsar Nicholas II for the mobilization of the Croatians referring himself to the Yugoslav Committee’s representative, Dr. [Franko] Potočnjak.

The intelligentsia went to sleep and the slabosilci surrounded us in a circle and watched us during the night.  Early the next morning, the intelligentsia came back.  A Czech, Janko Jedlička of Mostar, took me out among the men and brought me into a narrow corridor in which a Serbian policeman stood with a gun.  This policeman first pulled off the [Austrian] badge from my cap and then struck in the back with all his might with the butt-end of his rifle.  Blood started to come from my nose and mouth.  Jedlička stopped him, asserting that he must take me to Captain Majstorović.  This meeting concerned my “rebellion” in the railway cars on the way from Ekaterinoslav to Odessa.  Jedlička himself stated in front of two Croatian captives that I had to be executed for that.  He looked for Majstorović but he was not there.  After that he brought me before a Yugoslav officer who reproached me and with two policemen, he ordered them to drive me away to the 1st Battalion.  They drove still more prisoners of war to the same place, Croatians and Slovenians — (while the remainder were scattered amongst other battalions) — and started to distribute volunteer uniforms to them.  [However] when they put on Serbian caps (šajkače) — this sole symbol of King Peter’s army, for the rest  was Russian — many could not smother a revolt in their hearts and threw them away.  One Orthodox-faith Croatian from Lika threw his cap away: “I am not a Serb but an Orthodox-faith Croatian, a father of six children, I cannot and will not serve King Peter.”  The majority howled like wounded animals and threw themselves on the victim.  “You rogue, you have denied your religion, traitor!”  And they started to strike him with their fists on his head, below his ribs, in the belly.  In their rage, the inquisitors stumbled over one other, falling down and getting up, swearing, quarreling among themselves as to who would approach the victim.  And then they began a rotation, each one showing us his specialty in beating.  A Serb, Medvjedović, from Derventa, a sergeant in the 1st Battalion, beat him first and in a Japanese way: using ju-jitsu, striking the victim’s genitals with his knee.  Because of the pain the man fell to the ground.  Medvjedović trod him under his feet, forced him to stand up and strangled him while kneeing him in the genitals.  After that came a Serb volunteer, Obrad Komjen from Banja Luka, who beat the wretch with his fist against the temples of his head.  He was hitting with one fist on the temple on the one side and with the other on the other side.  [The beating] ended with a butt-end of the rifle of a Serb volunteer, Toma Tomić from Zvornik.  The man lost consciousness.  They threw him to the end [of the barrack?] and covered him with a tent.  This was about 10 o’clock in the morning and the man did not regain consciousness till that night.  During the night they took him out somewhere.

Another who threw away his cap was Marko Basarić, a Croatian of Bosnia, of the 3rd Bosnian-Herzegovinian Regiment.  The whole lot of slabosilci threw themselves on him and pushed him out through the door, beating him with their fists and the butt-ends of their rifles.

A third who threw away his šajkača was a Croatian Zagorac of the 14th Regiment.  They did not pull him out but pushed him with their fists into a jail.  The Serbs particularly hated and wished to take revenge on our soldiers of the brave 16th Infantry Regiment.  For Basarić and Zagorac, I later searched for their place of imprisonment, but nobody could tell me where they were.

The Slavosrbi (the Slavic Serbs) took our military uniforms, heavy coats, and boots and took them to town in order to sell them.  Before night fell, several Croatian prisoners came from the jail, black from beatings, and said that they had taken their money from them.  All this happened not only without judgement, but also publicly in the presence of the Serbians and the officers of the Legion.  And so I spent my second night in the volunteers’ division.  These horrible two nights and day!

That night there again came a transport of one thousand men into the Rope Factory.  At daybreak, they brought out the prisoners to the yard and began to “indoctrinate” them.  As they could convince nobody with words, the slabosilci intervened.  The brother Serbs beat the captive Croatians and the Slovenians with gun-butts, sticks, knuta116, and sabres.  I was in the court together with the captive Croatians, forcibly dressed in the uniform of the volunteers.  Suddenly somebody among the silovoljci shouted: “Let us not be given over to them!”  And all the silovoljci cried out “Hurrah!” throwing themselves barehanded onto the inquisitors.

The slabosilci fled.  The prisoners, dressed in Austrian and Russian uniforms, fraternized.  In a short time the slabosilci reappeared with the officers.  Both sides were shouting “Hurrah!”  But the barehanded ones had to run away when confronted with fixed bayonets.  I will never forget the panic and wild flight.  The men ran into the barracks, jumped over the walls into the hospital courtyard, and through the windows.

The slabosilci were catching the mutineers (ustaše), beating and forcing them into the jails.  The prisoners were forced back into barracks and there beaten savagely.  The prisoners’ screams, as though they were being cut alive, reached us.  After that, arrests followed and the [forced] wearing of the [volunteer] uniforms.  This happened to the first unit of the Reserve Battalion.  There were fourteen such units.

The Rope Factory had many rooms, corridors, and partition walls as in an ancient labyrinth.  In each of the rooms, in each of the corridors and cells of this labyrinth, tragedies were enacted and the innocent blood of the Croatian prisoners flowed.

The horrible things happening in Odessa’s labyrinth surpassed even the prisons where the Serbs were masters.  The narrow stairs were full of captive Croatians and Slovenians, so that there was not even a place to lie down.  There was no place even to sit down, so overcrowded was it.  The commander of the prison was a Serb volunteer, Dr. Čeremov from Novi Sad.  He had previously taken wallets from the men and had divided the money with the Legion staff; it was he who searched the  bags and assigned the places to the guards inside and outside the prison.  The imprisoned men did not receive food.  There  were men who languished in prison without food for five, six days.  The slabosilci withheld not only bread but also water from the hated Šokci.  It is true that the slabosilci conducted the captives to the toilets and for water, but on these occasions they gave vent to their anger by hitting them with the butt-ends of their rifles.  The men preferred to suffer from thirst than to go out. In general, the slabosilci beat [the prisoners] in the corridor in front of the prison, because inside there was not enough room.  Individuals were brought out [from the jail] into the corridor and were beaten with gun-butts, and their ribs, collar bones, and arms were broken in this way.  They broke the  hand of former prisoner of war Baša Rukavina, sergeant-major of the 79th Infantry Regiment, a tradesman from Otočac.  They also broke the arm of the Bosnian Croatian Bono Radić, while in the prison itself they only killed the inmates.  The Croatian prisoner and people’s champion, Mato Vrban from Cesarica, otherwise a fisherman from Rijeka, [a member of] the 26th National Shocktroop Regiment [Pučko-ustaška pukovnija],  told me: “In spite of pressure and beating I did not want to put on the volunteer uniform; therefore, they imprisoned me.  There, my money was immediately taken away.  I never saw it again.  During the day they conducted individuals from the jail to the corridor, beating and asking us to join the volunteers. They beat me too.”

Before night fell, they threw into jail a Croatian, Dr. Fabijanić, a medical doctor from Rijeka, who was dressed in the uniform of an Austrian officer.  I knew that he was a good Croatian and a patriot.  He shortly told me that he was engaged as a doctor in a [Russian] hospital and that, from there, the Russians sent him to Odessa.

The Serbs, using all the means at their disposal, wanted to have him as a doctor for the volunteers, and offered him officer’s rank.  He did not want to act against his convictions and therefore was imprisoned.  Night fell.  The men were crouching, leaning against the wall and against each other and falling asleep.  About midnight, the noise of keys turning sounded in the lock of the door.  Because of this rumbling noise everybody woke up and started to tremble.  The nocturnal visits of the slabosilci were known to all.  Two slabosilci, with bare bayonets in their hands, stepped in.  They kindled matches and looked for somebody.  Suddenly one [of the two slabosilci] jumped and hit a man near me with a stick on his chest.  The man wheezed and fell down.  His blood spattered over me.  The man was sick two or three times and then died.  He had had a heart attack.  The slabosilci illuminated his face with a match. “This is not him!” — they said and continued to search.  We stood petrified.  And again, one could hear a stab of the bayonet striking a bone and panting. When the sun rose, there was no dead man near me, no Dr. Fabijanić in the prison.  After the February Revolution of 1917, the writer of these lines presented this case with many others to the then “Deputies of the Workers and Soldiers.”

I also brought the case of Pavao Perić and Milan Lazić to the attention of the Soviet.  Perić and Lazić told [me the following]: “In the dead of night we were returning from the city to the Rope Factory.  As we were passing near the prison, we saw there a stopped wagon covered with a tarpaulin.  We uncovered it.  Four corpses in Austrian uniforms lay inside it.  When we heard steps, we rushed to one side and hid behind the bricks.  The slabosilci were bringing out a fifth corpse.  They threw it into the wagon, beat the horses and departed.  We followed them from a distance.  They arrived at the city cemetery, threw the dead bodies [from the wagon] into a ditch, put straw on them, and set fire to it.”

Fishermen and seamen continued to find dead bodies in the Black Sea … [the text interrupted in original.]

For a moment, I also looked through the bars into the jail from the court side, until the Legion watchmen drove me away.  The scene was frightful.  The prisoners were surrounded by the watchmen, slabosilci who were holding their guns with fixed bayonets, looking straight forward into their eyes [saying:] “You do not want to enroll [in the Volunteer Corps]?” and reproached the prisoners harshly. “Get up, get out!” [Then] they led individuals up into a narrow and dark corridor and in front of the window beat them very hard with their rifle butts.

All this happened at the end of October in the year 1916 at the Rope Factory.  Simultaneously, the Serbs were sending to the Entente’s press, particularly the British press, long reports about the “successful” establishment of the Yugoslav Army.

At that time, a decree by Tsar Nicolas II was read to the prisoners in which it was promised that they would not be sent to the front in the same way as the Serbian volunteers had been, until the Entente’s forces could break into the Yugoslav territories!

Every day they organized battalions and brought them to the village of Dol’nikove and Gn’ilakovo near Odessa where the 2nd Division of the Yugoslav [Volunteers] was based.  In front and at the rear of the battalions, the Serb volunteers and the slabosilci were marching under the Serbian flag in full combat order with weapons — rifles with bayonets fixed — while in the middle were the Croatians and Slovenians without weapons. With this they intended to manifest their Serbian nationality to Odessa’s Jews and Bulgarians, who were well informed of the secrets of the Rope Factory.  However, despite these “walking” battalions, the Croatians showed with their blood their national consciousness and loyalty to the House of Habsburg, not only to the Bulgarians and the Jews, but also in front of Odessa, in front of the Russian military establishment, and in front of all the representatives of the Entente States.  The bloody insurrections of the moriturI117 Croatians, which condemned them to a sure death, were crushed by the infamous and sordid celebration of the Serbs; they [the Croatians] were faithful to the “memory of Zrinski and Frankopan, and to many others like them.”118

A Croatian teacher, Slavko Felja, had information about the first revolt [of the Croatian prisoners] on the Kulikovo polje (Kulikovo Plain) from civilian eyewitnesses and from the insurgents themselves; he ran immediately after me into the prisoners’ camp.

They sent the “walking battalion” to the villages.  In the front and rear were the Serbian volunteers with ammunition and guns, in the middle the Croatians with guns but without ammunition.  The Legion officers surrounded the marchers with bared sabers.  And so they came to Kulikovo Plain.  On the isolated Kulikovo Plain the Croatians lost patience.  They stopped.  [Suddenly] the prisoners shouted: “Long live the Habsburg Monarchy!  Long live the Fatherland!  Long live King Franz Joseph I!”  (Živio kralj Franjo Josip I!)  This was just in those days when our deceased King of blessed memory was lying in state.  The Croatians on the Kulikovo Plain rendered him a final homage.

As lions, [the Croatians], leveling the barrels of their guns [like staffs, for they did not have ammunition], they stormed their tormentors with the battle-cry: “Živio Kralj!” (Long live the King!)

This battle-cry must have been terrible.  Even though they had loaded guns and sharp bayonets, the Serbs did not have the courage to withstand the assault.  They fled.  The heroes remained alone, venting their feelings and praising the King and the Fatherland.

The Serbs returned with the Cossacks.  Riding on their light horses, the Cossacks fired their guns at the insurgents … [ the text interrupted in the original.]  The [Serbian Corps of] Volunteers helped them with their firepower … [the text interrupted in the original].  A mass of the Croatian insurgents without ammunition still rendered homage to their legitimate King as they lay bleeding and dying [shouting]: “Long live Franz Joseph I!”

And so it ended on that battlefield where a large number of troops and blood remained, while those Croatian mutineers whom destiny had spared and who survived this horror, were sent by the Russian military authorities to the katorzhnaia rabota [forced labor] … [text interrupted in original].

The Serbs tried to hide this bloody event on the Kulikovo Plain, which was far from town, taking the “walking battalion” further afield more carefully now.

I saved myself, together with Janko Haramina, a reservist from the 25th Territorial Infantry Regiment, by taking refuge in a prisoner of war camp in Gradonachal’skaia Street No. 20 [in Odessa], bribing a commander of the camp; we gave him our last money and our boots after I unsuccessfully begged at the American consulate as well as at the Headquarters of the Russian military districts.

They [the Russians] also accepted in the camp Croatians and Slovenians, though rarely. There were also certain ones who escaped from their torturers and, covered with blood, ran to the Russian authorities.

From the fugitives I could actually ascertain the further development of events in the Rope Factory.

After the second rebellion in the town of Odessa and the tragedy in Slobodtsa Romanova [a little village called Romanovo], the Serbs changed their way of escorting [the “walking battalions”].

The rebellion at the turn of Bol’shaia Arnautcheskaia Street and Preobrazhenskaia Street, as well as in the heart of the town [of Odessa], took place when the Croatians and the Slovenians were conducted to the 2nd Division in the [nearby] villages.  Here the silovoljci threw away their Serbian effects, keeping their guns and shouted: “Da zdravstvuet Avstria!  Da zdravstvuet imperator Franz Josif I?’’  (Long live Austria. Long live Emperor Franz Joseph I!) The crowd rushed to the square.  The Legion officers and the Serb volunteers tried to restore order.  The insurgents, with the approval of the civilians, drove them away. Here in the neighborhood was the building housing the English and American Consulate.  General Marks, the Commander of the Russian military district, otherwise a great friend of the Serbs, came here with the Cossacks, who stood aside while General Marks parleyed with the insurgents.  Because of this unheard-of event, the crowd became bigger and bigger.  And [finally] Marks was left with no other solution than to invite the insurgents into the camp reserved for prisoners of war.

On the way, the insurgents broke the guns’ breech mechanisms.  The crowd followed them to the camp, openly protesting against their treatment by the Serbs.  The Russian district authorities conducted an inquiry and, by whatever means, wanted to get their hands on the mutineers.  The men replied bravely, admitting they were all equally responsible.  The Serbian officers participated in the investigation. General Živković demanded that [General] Marks shoot all the insurgents.  The matter ended with the insurgents  being sent to a forced labor camp, having an iron-smelting furnace, at Enakievo in the Donskaia oblast (the Don Region) among the Cossacks.  Among those insurgent Croatians who were known to me, an insurgent corporal, an old man, Karlo Horvat, of the 25th National Insurgent Regiment, ran away.

In Slobodtsa Romanova, at the Probochnyi zavod (Cork Factory), the Serbs deployed one regiment of Croatians and Slovenians, who had been forced to wear Legion uniforms.  The Serb komitadjis were also located there.  Ammunition was not given to the Croatians and Slovenians.  Colonel Ristić, a Serb, came to inspect [them].  The Legion volunteers ran to the silovoljci and told them that the Colonel was coming for an inspection, and threatened to flay off their skin if they did not behave correctly and peacefully and that, if and when the Colonel greeted them with “Pomoz Bog vojnici!” (God help you, soldiers!), they should reply: “Bog ti pomogao!” (God help you [too]!)

Ristić came and called God’s help.  Our (men) kept silent.  Ristić repeated: “God help you, soldiers!” [Our] reply was: “Long live King Franz Joseph I!  Long live Croatia!  Long live Austria!  We are not Serbian soldiers.”

Colonel Ristić and his companions ran away even though nobody threatened them and the men were barehanded.  Outside, the Serbian Colonel alerted a company of komitadjis and led them to the barracks where the Croatians and the Slovenians were.  He ordered them to stab the men, who were unarmed and neither guilty nor indebted to anyone, because they could not forget their Fatherland and their lawful King and would not serve the Greater Serbian idea.  The komitadjis then stabbed their victims.  Among the victims were those through whose bodies the komitadjis ran not only their bayonets but also the barrel of their guns.  There were a dozen slain and far more wounded.  One Istrian Croat, who also was wounded on this occasion, told me in Gr[adonachal’skaia] Street [No] 20 about this tragedy.  After the February Revolution of 1917, the tragedy was [also] brought up with the Soviet.

The tombs of these innocent victims are located in Slobodtsa Romanova.  Would it not be possible to endeavor to bring their remains back to the Fatherland?

After these events, the Russians did not permit, neither did the Serbs dare, after the forced recruiting, to send the Croatians and Slovenians to the villages to the 2nd Division or to place weapons in their hands.

Apart from the Rope Factory, they invented still one more tartarus119 in the same Slobodtsa Romanova at the Cork Factory. Oh infamy! Oh impudence!

The treatment in the Rope Factory remained the same; they, by terror and beatings and persecution of all kinds, forced the [Croatians] to volunteer and put the Legion uniforms on them.  They would then come after two or three days among them and cunningly ask [:] “Brothers, if anyone of you has no desire to remain here, he may announce this fact and we will dismiss him.  ” Of course, our people at once announced themselves for prisoners-of-war [instead].  After that, they brought them in groups of about twenty to Slobodtsa Romanova.  It was there that the so-called vaspitna komanda (Command for Re-education), where the Yugoslavs and the Serbs were bringing them to their senses, was located.  General Živković would come there, as well as the [members of the] Serbian Headquarters.  Officers, the Serbian “refugees,” the officials and writers also came there [like] Uncle Dragutin Ilić [ 1858-1926], a Nestor of the Serbian book, to ‘teach” and “re-educate.”  It goes without saying that the slabosilci were the most successful in “bringing men to reason,” using the butt-ends of their rifles and cudgels.

The horrors of the Rope Factory were repeated [here] as well, with this difference: the Legion officers saw that no one was spared from beatings; they assigned to each victim twelve or twenty-five strokes.

After that, when they assumed that the Šokci ‘s stubbornness was completely broken, they would bring the men in groups of 10 [or] 20 at a time, without weapons, to the Division Headquarters in the village.

There were many former prisoners of war who suffered at the Cork Factory and who returned from captivity.  “They tortured us there as Jesus was tortured,”  Stjepan Juratović, a corporal from the 26th National Insurgent Regiment, said showing his ribs.

However, the Croatians and the Slovenians from the Rope and Cork Factories, as well as those from the 2nd Division, would run away day by day throughout the winter of ’16 and ’17 [1916 and 1917] to the American Consulate [in Odessa] [and] to the Russian authorities [as well as] into the depths of Russia and to the front.

The American Consul, in order to protect himself from the uninvited guests, arranged to guard himself in the corridor of his palace using the Russian police, who arrested the fugitives.  ([For example], a former prisoner of war, Kuzma Kučan, a national insurgent of the 25th Regiment, was arrested together with his three friends by a Russian policeman in the corridor of the Amer[ican] Consulate.)  The Russian policemen also arrested the fugitives in the Russian District Headquarters as well as in the villages and further inside in Russia; they bound them and gave them over to the Serbs.  This was during the last days of Russia’s unbearable absolutism and our miserable wanderers felt all its severity, and even more so when they were handed back to the Serbs.

From a number of cases, I should mention this one[:] The Bosnian Croatians, Mijo Mirčić, Stjepan Ljeljić and Mijo Pranić, from the Bosnian Ranger [Division?] and a Croatian from the Hrvatsko Zagorje, Franjo Horvatek, of the 53rd I. R. [Infantry Regiment], ran away.  At that time, the Russians were sending all the prisoners of war to Odessa.  At the Serbian Battalion’s Headquarters, as a first “welcome” they beat them and sent them to a jail in the Rope Factory.  A Serbian volunteer, Metikoš, from Glina, was then supervising the jail.  He first confiscated their money.  After that and with the help of the Serbian guards, he flogged them and forced them to hit each other with all their force. “Look! — this is the way I hit him!” — he would say.  He beat the bare soles of their feet and, in the end, he whipped with his belt old [Franjo] Horvatek, riding him as a horse.  When he had finished “horse-riding,” he ordered him to open his mouth and he urinated into it.

And this I also brought up with the Soviet.  And it was like that until the February Revolution of 1917.  The Tsar abdicated [on 15 March 1917] and with this the entrenched Serbs [lost their power].

The Miliukov Government was formed as well as the Council of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.  From the very beginning, the Soviet took at once an inimical attitude toward the Serbs.  And we the prisoners of war did not stay with crossed arms either but reported our torturers to the Soviet.

The Soviet obliged the Miliukov Government to purge the Serbian troops of volunteers, to dismiss the Croatians and the Slovenians from service, and to send them to the camp for prisoners of war.  At that time a group of Yugoslav volunteer officers and the intelligentsia resigned from the Serbian troops and went over to the Russian Army.  The head of these new Yugoslav-Russophiles, Sub-Lieutenant Vrinjanin, tried to persuade us to volunteer for the Russian ammunition factory.

We, underfed, exhausted, and tortured prisoners steadfastly also resisted this new Yugoslav temptation, firmly protesting against this new Yugoslav bill of sale.

Honored House!  I could read I do not know how many more examples of such horrors.  [Dr. Alexander Horvat said].  I still have several cases here, but the matter is so dreadful and horrible that I think it is not necessary to paint this picture further.  [However], I will take the liberty of mentioning one thing which my Zagorci told me, whom I earlier quoted:

There were thousands of us before we left Russian captivity, who remembered all these tortures, all that the Serbs and the Czechs did to us in the name of the Yugoslav idea, and we made a pledge to avenge ourselves upon these our murderers.

I tried to dissuade him from this and told him: No one is demanding from you any revenge here.  Only be the living witnesses of the consequences for Yugoslavia of the (so-called) brotherhood of Serbians and Croatians.  (Applause from the Party of Right.)  [After that, Dr. Alexander Horvat] (reads) [this Interpellation which follows]:

“By virtue of all that [I presented above] I ask:

[l] Whether it is known to the Ro[yal] Croatian Government that the soldiers of the Greek-Orthodox faith from the Croatian regions, who fell into Russian captivity and in great majority came over to the Serbian Army, joining the so-called Yugoslav Legion, together with the Czech prisoners of war, had committed incredible bloodthirsty outrages against the prisoners of war who did not reject their Croatian nationality and fidelity to their legitimate Croatian King?

[2] Whether the Ro[yal] Croatian Government is willing to acquire for itself through the military authorities the correct facts about these events and to give at least material compensation from the confiscated property of all the traitors and torturers to the families of those Croatian martyrs who perished because of this Serbian-Yugoslav-Czech violence.

[3] Whether the Ro[yal] Croatian Government is willing to inform our [i.e., the Austro-Hungarian] Department of Foreign Affairs, about these horrors committed in the name and by order of Royal Serbia which is at war with us, in order to be able to deal with this unheard-of transgression of international law, on the occasion of peace negotiations and procure appropriate reparations to the Croatian soldiers who did not  betray their beliefs, and to their families.”

(Thunderous applause from the Party of Right.) [The End]

B) MILAN ŠPOLJAREC’S ARTICLE:

“ODESAŠ NA IZVORIMA ZLOCINA.”

In the 13 January 1954 issue of the Croatian newspaper Hrvatska (Croatia), published in Buenos Aires, Milan Špoljarec published an article entitled: “Odesa. Na izvorima zločina” (Odessa. At the Sources of Crime).  When he wrote this article, Špoljarec was probably the last living eyewitness in the world who could still tell us first-hand about the crimes committed by the Serbs in Odessa in 1917, and we can compare his testimony with that in our document.  For these reasons, we will translate Špoljarec’s article in its entirety.

I was recruited for the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 15 August 1914.  Recruiting training started in Rijeka.  The old ship Belona was our barracks, office, and ambulance.

From here, I was assigned to the ship San Ištvan [Szent Istvan, sunk in July 1918], where I for the first time started to learn about the Serbs.  A certain sergeant of the Chief of Staff, a Dalmatian Serb (at least he felt himself to be that), persecuted me on every occasion.  In this he was helped by a lieutenant of the frigate, Miliković, a member of the Greek Orthodox faith.  I was compelled to demand a transfer; so I went to the 16th Infantry Regiment in Bjelovar and from there to the Russian front.

With this regiment I experienced my “baptism of fire” and went through many battles. As a result of a change in the fortunes of  war, on 7 September 1915, during a retreat by my regiment, I was in the rearguard which consisted of the 6th (mine) and the 7th companies.  That afternoon at about six o’clock I fell into Russian captivity.

We walked for fourteen days.  On the way the inhabitants looked at us inquisitively, throwing food to us.  Those who were stronger did better.  Many fell and remained behind because of hunger, and God only knows what their fate was.  Exhausted and starving, we came to Prehorvata.  From there we went by train to Kiev, and after that to Derniec, where we finally stopped.  Here there was a larger camp with some 40,000 prisoners of war.  There were also many different nationalities from the Austro-Hungarian regions, Germans, and Bulgarians.

Coming into this camp, they made an exception for us Croatians.  They separated us from all the other nationalities, formed us into a line and then robbed us.  They took away all our belongings in the true sense of the word: watches, rings, money, knives, forks, combs and even pulled off our shoes, took off our heavy coats and blankets, and tore off our medals.  At first when they separated us, we thought that this would be beneficial to us.  But what a disappointment when they started to rob us and, in addition, to do so in a mocking way: “These you do not need.  You will get that from the Russians brand-new.  Why you have come into a land of wealth and amity.”  The Serbs and the Czechs did all this because they had the upper hand in the camp.

The camp was without amenities.  Prisoners of war died day and night because of the hunger and cold.  When called to work, we Croatians also wanted to go, because this was an opportunity to have a mouthful of food.  But they rejected us.

After fourteen days, we Croatians finally were lined up.  A small ray of hope appeared in our eyes.  But what happened?  The very same Serbs who had plundered us not too long ago, came with caps (šajkače) on their heads and started to offer us their help and protection.  They delivered long speeches to us: “Brother Croatians, you fell into Russian captivity.  But the Russians are Russians.  They do not give you anything, neither accommodations nor food.  This little millet in hot water, without fat and salt, cannot be called food.  How long can you endure that?  They do not permit you to go to work, for there you will find amenities, clothes, and food.”  They spoke to us in this way, those same ones who had plundered us, chose those who would go to work, those who were daily preparing the millet in hot water!

However, this was not all.  After this sad introduction they came with generous proposals and nice promises: “In order to be closer to your dear fatherland, we accept you, brother-Croatians, under our protection.  We will transfer you to Serbia.  There, they will give you bread and work.  Those who want may go to the factories which are numerous and do not have enough workers.

Farmers are also accepted; one may also join the police force, and become officers or gendarmes and join the army too.  Everywhere you will be equal to us Serbians.”

Amongst the several thousand Croatians, there were in the camp some thirty [Orthodox] Vlachs from Bačka [the area between the Danube and and Tisa Rivers] who accepted.  All the rest of us preferred the camp with hunger and slow death.  We had learned more than enough about them during that short time.  We threw back in their faces all the dirty tricks which they had done to us.

The next day those thirty or so Vlachs came among us with the šajkače and the Serbian tricolor on their heads.  They brought us bread and bacon and offered it to us to eat. None of us — not even yesterday’s friends — looked at them nor accepted their food.

One and a half months passed thus when, finally, the Croatians also started to be sent to work.  I was transported with a group of 1800 Croatians to Kremčuh [Kremchukh].  A new life [began] but still a bitter one.  We were loading grain into the wagons in groups of ten.

And until ten wagons — one wagon per person — were loaded, there was no dinner for us which the brother Serbs and Czechs were preparing.  After dinner, new work: patching sacks, and there were an immense number of them.  This work was performed from supper, which was never taken before 11:30 at night, and sometimes even at two o’clock in the morning.  Only after that was there a short rest under the tents with one’s shoes under one’s head and sleeping in a great-coat, instead of on a mattress, and then all over again — really the life of a slave, under the command of the Serbs and the Czechs.

Between them and us relations were so tense that one night fighting and retaliation broke out.  Our men were using bottles and bare fists, while the Serbs had kitchen-knives.  There were many wounded on both sides, on our side about 15, of which one succumbed because of his wounds.  So the Serbo-Croatian brotherhood has been sealed with blood!

This conflict had, for the time being, some positive consequences.  The Serbs and the Czechs were removed, which brought peace for some time in our sad life.  So it was until the Spring of 1916, when a group of some fifty Serbs again came to our camp.  After their arrival, during the next five months, ten Croatians were killed in a mysterious way.  This incident was sufficient for us to understand why the Serbs had come here.

In the spring I was transferred, along with some 320 Croatians, to Piščana Gora [Pishchana Gora is near Kremchukh] to the military warehouse where life became considerably better.

Here one day we were standing in a line when a Serbian officer and a non-commissioned officer (podčasnik) came forward.  They delivered a speech trying to persuade us to join the so-called Serbian Legion.  During the speech, we were talking among ourselves.  Too bad that this was not recorded on film!  Even though our talk only served the purpose of showing them how little we cared about listening to them, I still heard several things with one ear, though unintentionally.  This was a call to join the Serbian Army and for a future common state which would particularly reward the volunteers with profitable posts in the state service, while each peasant volunteer would receive several acres of land  (više jutara zemlje) [1 jutro=1 acre], two oxen three cows, one pig, a house, a stable, farm buildings and all the necessary tools.

After that a certain Šimatović of Križevci asked to speak.  He had previously lived in Šibenik [Dalmatia] and asked the Serbian officer how he should address him, for he did not know his [military] grade.  To this [the officer] answered:

—I am a Serbian lieutenant, a Serbian mother bore me and with her milk nursed me.  What would you like [my] son?

After Šimatović had disproved all the false promises the Serb [officer] had made, and [showed that he] talked a lot of nonsense (nadrobio), he finished with these words:

—As long as you Serbs, who call yourselves a type of Yugoslav, continue conquering Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia (and let us not speak of Croatia), even the last Yugoslav will disappear!

Šimatović paid with [his] head for these words.  The Serbian [ officer] shot down “his son” in front of our eyes.

This same Serbian non-commissioned officer threatened us, telling us all that we would not see our homes for he would wait for us with his [? soldiers] on the border and decapitate us, put [us] in front of the cannon, or hang us from the trees.

Being conscious of our difficult position and perturbed by Šimatović’s death, we begged the commander of the town, a Russian colonel of German origin, to protect us from the Serbs.  We told him that we were soldiers of the Kingdom of Croatia and therefore did not wish any kind of a union with the Kingdom of Serbia, and never to fight against that side on which, as officers and soldiers, our brothers and fathers, were serving.

The Colonel replied that he was personally helpless in this matter, but he would intercede on our behalf through the Ministry of the Army in Petrograd.  At the same time he informed us that the Serbs would soon transport us to Odessa.

It was true.  Some twenty days later, a Serbian company arrived and surrounded our quarters.  They forced us into the courtyard and, while standing in a line, they counted us, searched our pockets and took away all the money from those who had any.  “Forward! ” [they ordered] up to the railway station.  Here they pressed us into the railroad wagons and closed the doors with padlocks.  I do not know how many days the journey to Odessa lasted, for during the whole trip they did not open the wagons and wagons were dark.  But because of our empty stomachs, it seemed long.  For all this time they did not give us food at all, while the air was suffocating and stinking; we relieved our needs in one comer of the wagon.  When we arrived in Odessa, other Serbs opened the wagons and criticized those who had deported us in such an inhuman way. They told us:

“Those who have neither heart nor soul have done that.  One does not treat even cattle in such a way and never men.  Those [Serbs] who conducted you here, are already in jail, while the commanders will be brought to the military court and shot.”

We know that they were telling a blatant lie.  Lying is in their blood.  They took us to wash, then to eat and, in the end, the old story [all over again].  At first they got all the facts from each one of us individually in the writing room, then came an explanation of why they brought us to Odessa: to join the Serbian Army against the common enemy.

We tried to prove to them that we did not have a common enemy: on the other side of the battle-line were our fathers, brothers and relatives; we had taken an oath of allegiance to the legitimate Croatian King.  For this reason we could not support the Serbian cause, but we begged them to consider us as prisoners of war and to treat us according to international agreements (the Geneva Conventions).

To this they responded that they [actually] did not need us but only gave us three days to think it over, and when we saw, they said, what kind of life and treatment they would give us, maybe some of us would like it and join their ranks.

Then they gave us “better” accommodations, lined us up close to a wall and ordered us to undress.  Then they obliged us, one by one, to lie down on a bench; one beat us and the other counted until twenty-five strokes were given.  “Now you may think it over for three days.”

Three days later, there was again an interrogation, but a shorter one.

—”Brother Corporal — he asked me first — did you think it through, do you want to join our fighting units or not?”

—”No!” was my answer.

—”No!” answered one by one the line.

—Nobody [said] “Yes.”

The Serbian captain who interrogated us turned to the guards [and said]:

[“] Take them back to think it over for three more days.”

We arrived again at the same accommodations.  The same treatment of 25 strokes.  Some of us, starved, weakened, and exhausted, lost consciousness under the blows.  Each of these unfortunate ones were put into a sack in front of our eyes and thrown into a cart which was standing in front of the door.

The same was repeated for the third time.  Those who lived through it and survived nine [such] days and 75 strokes, had to take off all their clothes and stay only in their underpants and shirts.  Then they kept them in a cellar.  In each such cellar there were ten Croatians.  Each day the batinaši [those who beat others] visited us two or three times with pictures of [Emperor] Franz Joseph [of Austria-Hungary] and [King] Peter Karadjordjević [of Serbia], asking:

—Do you love this picture of Peter?

—No! were the persistent Croatian answers.

With each “no” they returned with beatings, kicking, torture, and those who lost consciousness were put in sacks.

For eight days we stayed in those cellars and each day there was the [same] “whom do you love?” routine and putting of the unconscious into sacks and each day there were fewer of us.  They also brought us into the courtyard in order to see what was awaiting us for sure.  The scene was terrible:

Battered Croatians had to go through double lines of Serbs, of whom there were about two hundred and each one with a stick in his hand.  Some of those wretched ones could not endure even the third blow and fell.  After the tenth [blow], not a single one held out on this final path to his death.

The other scene was equally terrible: They [the Serbs] put those tortured and battered Croatian soldiers one by one into the middle of a [large] cellar and then, sealed with wire, poured upon them boiling water till they expired, suffering most serious injuries and torments.

After eight terrible days, the Russian colonel came from Petrograd with a commission.  He had kept his word as an officer.  He wrested us from the murderers’ hands; but of 920 men at the beginning, only 80 of us had survived.  We were checked by the doctor, investigated by the Russian commission about our treatment by the Serbs, and then taken to a hospital.

After two months we left the hospital and Odessa as well and returned to our old place, but only 71 of us, for nine could not recover from the “brotherly” kiss.

This I described in honor of the “brother” Serbs and those enthusiasts among the Croatians, who thought — and some perhaps still think — about a union of Croatians and Serbians.

Concluding Comments

1) Ante Trumbić was not only the President of the Yugoslav Committee in London, but also, due to circumstances, the main political leader of Croatian political activity outside Croatia during World War I.  For this reason it is relevant, we think, to ask a question: What was Trumbić’s main political idea, what did he really want to achieve?

Until the outbreak of the First World War, the main political idea of Trumbić and his followers was to unite Southern Croatia (Dalmatia and Istra) with Northern Croatia.  Wishing to realize his idea, Trumbić looked for ways and means of how to do it.  Unfortunately, he found no support in Vienna, which ruled Dalmatia and Istra, so that Trumbić put all his  hopes in Serbia.  The “Yugoslav idea” also had proponents in certain political circles of Croatia, especially among the youth and certain prominent individuals, such as Frano Supilo and the sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.

The outbreak of World War I brought another element to Trumbić’s politics — the possibility of destroying the Habsburg Monarchy and freeing the Croatians from its “yoke.”  However, the conclusion of the Treaty of London in 1915, by which Italy was to receive a large part of Southern Croatia as a price for rejection of the Central Powers in favor of joining the Entente, presented Trumbić with a new, and quite difficult, question — how to prevent the parceling of southern Croatian lands.  This definitely bound him to Serbia — Trumbić even traveled on a Serbian passport — which, in the end, “hardly moved its small finger” in favor of Croatia vis-à-vis Italy.  On the contrary, Pašić “bartered” with Italy to the detriment of Croatian interests, as we have seen elsewhere in this paper.

Trumbić obviously did not understand the Treaty of London as a passing historical phase, even though it was very hard and unjust, but which at the next historical turn would be corrected as, in fact, was to be the case.  We are of the opinion that the Treaty of London did not play a decisive role in Trumbić’s decision to tie his political fortunes to Serbia and go along with it to the end, assuming that there was previously a certain vacillation by him “to go with Serbia or without it” — all the more so for Trumbić had not exploited a favorable situation after the fall of Serbia’ s main supporting pillar — the Romanov dynasty — to extricate himself from this dependent position.

By tying his political fortunes to Serbia, Trumbić and the Yugoslav Committee in London actually tied their own hands and lost precious independence of action with all the consequences which resulted from doing so.  Subsequently, Trumbić’s political failures vis-à-vis Serbia had their source in that linkage, especially the failure to realize the idea of an Adriatic (Yugoslav) Legion.  Similarly, Trumbić’s struggle against Serbian exclusivism, which Pašić and his Government so openly expressed and implemented, was thus in vain.

Tying their political fortunes to Serbia in an attempt to realize their political goals secured the psychological and ideological “knot” that caused the policy pursued by Trumbić and Meštrović to fail.  Both of them, like their followers, were later deeply disappointed and turned back to the idea of Croatian statehood idea, forsaking the Yugoslav idea.  They saw that a harmonious life and equality among the Croatians (who became second-class citizens) and the Serbians had not materialized.  So they searched for ways to deliver Croatia from this new bondage, which proved to be much harder than at any time during the four centuries under Habsburg rule.

2) Like Trumbić, Ivan Meštrović and, initially, Frano Supilo — the main political leaders abroad during World War I — failed to develop alternative solutions. One of these undeveloped solutions, perhaps the most realistic at the time, was to work for a union of all the Croatian lands within the boundaries of a reformed Habsburg Monarchy.  This particular political line was followed until the end of 1918 by Alexander Horvat and others in the Party of Right.  It is interesting that the May Declaration of 1917 sought a solution to the Croatian Question within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  This Declaration was submitted to Vienna’s Parliament on 30 May 1917 by Anton Korošec, a Slovenian Catholic priest and President of the South Slav Parliamentary Club in Vienna.  From that point on, the Declaration became the basis for the policy pursued by the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians living within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  It received numerous statements of support from individuals, religious and secular organizations, counties, cities, electoral counties, and even whole provinces.120  The May Declaration was signed and presented by Korošec and Matko Laginja (1852-1930), a popular Croatian politician from Istra in 1920, together with 32 prominent Croatian and Slovenian political representatives.  The May Declaration was submitted at about the same time that Trumbić and several Croatian and Serbian members of the Yugoslav Committee in London were debating with Pašić and members of the Serbian government the form of government that a future South Slav State should have.  The agreement reached, the Corfu Declaration of 1917, effectively created a new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes under the Karadjordjević dynasty.  While the May Declaration had overwhelming support in the country as we quoted, the Corfu Declaration had only limited support, and yet it prevailed, because Serbia was on the side of the victors, and Trumbić had tied his policy to victorious Serbia.

 

During the four centuries (1527-1918) that the Croatians had lived under the Habsburg Monarchy, Austria had succeeded in forging the various nations in its empire into an integral economic, cultural, political and psychological union, with a generally accepted central authority, a fair judicial system, and an administration free of corruption.  It was a pity and, in my opinion, a great error on the part of the Western Powers to destroy this venerable Monarchy.  In a federalized Habsburg Monarchy, the united Croatian lands would have found their natural protection against a greedy Italy and an aggressive Serbia supported by Russia.  In addition, by fragmenting the Monarchy into small national states, the victors provided easy prey for Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s and, after his defeat in 1945, for the Soviet Union.

Perhaps Trumbić’s greatest mistake was to tie Croatia so closely to Serbia.  These two nations, the Serbian and the Croatian, had entirely different cultural, psychological, and national formations, in spite of similarities in their spoken languages.  The Croatians evolved in a Western, Habsburg, cultural milieu, the Serbians in an Oriental, Ottoman one.  There had been more than sufficient indications that clearly revealed the character and quality of the new partner with whom Trumbić wished to form a common state and a close union.  Bitter experience has shown us that this union was not achieved either in Royalist Yugoslavia (1918-1941) or in Communist Yugoslavia (1945-1991.)

3) The Yugoslav Committee in London also did not accept the idea of gradual union which Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), a prominent Czech scholar and statesman, discussed with Ivan Meštrović after the war in 1924 when the latter was a guest of President Masaryk.  Masaryk proposed that the South Slavs start with a confederation between Croatia and Serbia and not attempt a closer union until the Yugoslav idea was generally accepted.  This was in many ways a quite prudent and realistic position.121  Whether the circumstances of 1918 would have allowed the Croats and Serbs the leisure to do is not clear.

4) Yet another solution was not taken into consideration: to work toward Croatian independence outside the Habsburg Monarchy and without any link with Serbia.  Supilo had already proposed this idea in his seven-point Promemoria to Sir Edward Grey on 30 September 1915, and it seemed particularly promising at the end of the War.

5) Trumbić’s most serious mistake lay in the fact that he and his collaborators had abandoned the cardinal idea that had been predominant throughout Croatian history — Croatian statehood.  This idea was formulated in a new version by Ante Starčević (1823-1896), a Croatian politician and a founder of the Party of Right (Stranka prava).

Its fundamental idea rested on Croatian State Right (Hrvatsko državno pravo), the concept that as an ancient people with their own political institutions, the Croatians have as much right as anybody else to create their own independent state, even though neighboring states had obstructed their ability to exercise that right.  The political goal of the Party of Right was an independent Croatia within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  Starčević’s political influence in the country was great and many considered him the “Otac Domovine” (Father of the Nation).

For many years, Trumbić was an ardent supporter of Starčević’s ideas.  However, some years before the outbreak of World War I, he began to move away from the idea of the Croatian State Right, in part because he could not find support in Vienna for the union of the provinces of Dalmatia and Istra with Croatia.  He therefore moved away from supporting the idea of the Croatian State Right to working for the ethnic principle (narodnosna idea) which does not necessarily include in itself the notion of statehood.

Trumbić subsequently sought to solve the Croatian Question within a “peoples’ union” (narodnosno jedinstvo), in which each of the three peoples — Croatians, Serbians, and Slovenians — would preserve its autonomy.  This was a radical departure from the older historical policy of the Croatian State Right, which had been jealously guarded throughout the centuries of Croatia’s long history. By deviating from Croatia’s  historical policy, Trumbić and his followers assumed responsibility for the results of their new political orientation — results that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths of both Croatians and Serbians barely two decades after this new course was adopted.

6) As far as the Serbian Volunteer Corps in Odessa was concerned, we noted already that the Serbian element was predominant. Marko Marković has confirmed this in his research.  According to his data, which is based on sources from Serbia’s Military Archives, on 15 April 1916 the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division numbered 9,904 volunteers in all.  There were 9,751 Serbs from the Dual Monarchy, 84 Croatians, 14 Slovenians, 25 Czechs, and 30 others.  However, Marković concealed the real causes for this disproportionate number of Serbs to non-Serbs.  Nor did he discuss the horrible treatment of Croatian prisoners of war by the Serbs.  Although the Serbs tried to force the Croatians to join the Corps through beatings and torture, many chose death rather than the Corps, as we have seen throughout the Interpellation.  The apparently lopsided proportion of Serbs to Croatians thus has an explanation.  Regarding the dissidents in the Corps of Volunteers, particularly after the March Revolution of 1917 and the fall of the Romanov dynasty, Marković only noted that there was a crisis in the Corps, and he puts crisis in quotation marks, as if the split had been a “family quarrel”.  For this and other reasons, Marković’s interpretation must be considered deliberately misleading, even if his data is technically correct.

7) Likewise, the hypothesis put forward by a Serbian Professor, Dragoslav Janković, that economic causes were the main reasons for the failure to recruit volunteers among American Croatians cannot stand up to objective criticism.  The Serbs in the U.S. who lived in the same country, at the same time, and under the same general circumstances as the Croatians, did favor the idea of the Volunteer Corps and responded by joining it. But the Croatians and the Slovenians in the U.S. refused to join, so that the answer must lie elsewhere.  It seems that there was great enthusiasm amongst the Croatians for their old Fatherland.  This can be seen best amongst the Croatians of South America.  The different political views and understanding and the different national consciousness of Croatians, on the one hand, and of the Serbs, on the other, gives us a key, not only to explain the failure to recruit volunteers from North America, but to other differences of attitude and action between these two nations which were formed under the influence of different factors.

None of the above changed Trumbić’s misguided political position.  The differences of understanding at crucial junctures between the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbian government continued, even though the Committee tied itself to Serbia.  These differences came to the fore soon after 1918.  The Serbs quickly took practically all the power in the new state, and the Croatians went into opposition and led a resolute fight against Serbian centralism and oppression and for their own independence and self-government.  Events therefore provided proof that Trumbić and the Yugoslav Committee had based their idealistic political concept on unrealistic assumptions regarding Serbia and Croatia.

Despite his mistakes, Trumbić was personally very honest, and so spent the last years of his life in relative poverty.  He was a great Croatian patriot, who loved the Croatian people.  This judgement was equally true for Ivan Meštrović.  Both men sincerely regretted the political failure and the blind idealism which had led them in the wrong direction.

8) The reports regarding Croatian prisoners of war in Russia reflect not only their loyalty to their Croatian Fatherland, but also their loyalty to their legitimate King and the Habsburg Monarchy.  Assuming they were representative of Croatians in general, we can conclude that it is not correct to say that the Croatian people as a whole hated Austria and for this reason wanted to destroy it.  If there was hostility, it was directed more toward Budapest than toward Vienna.  It is far from the truth that Croatians lived in the Habsburg Monarchy in slavery and for that reason brotherly Serbia had to liberate them.  This myth, which took deep root in the generations after 1918, was the result of systematic propaganda from Belgrade and was calculated to further Serb interests.  I had heard or read hundreds of times during my studies there about the so-called Serbian “liberation” of Croatia from Austrian “slavery.”  Of course, I am not arguing that everything was perfect in the Habsburg Monarchy.  Far from it.  But it was not “slavery” as Serbian propaganda claimed.  Order and stability reigned, and corruption was unknown.  The administration and judiciary had high standards and, in general, people were satisfied.

 

______________________________________________________

ENDNOTES

Odessa in 1917 , Part Two, Journal of Croatian Studies 38 (1997): 51-114.

106Not the same person as the Ante Pavelić, a lawyer, who led the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) (1941-45).

107In 1911, Zagreb had several daily newspapers: Hrvatska straža, Jugoslavenski Lloyd, Jutarnji list, Morgenblatt, Narodne novine, Novosti, Obzor, Večer. See Leksikon Minerva, priručnik za modernog čovjeka (Zagreb: 1936), p. 978.

108Source: Stenografski Zapisnici Sabora Kralj[evine] Hrvatske, Slavonije Dalmacije. [Stenographic Records of the Parliament of the King[dom] of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia] Petogodište 1913.-1918. [The Quinquennium 1913-1918] Od CC. do uključivo CCLVI. saborske sjednice od 10. prosinca 1917. do 29. listopada 1918. [From the CC to inclusive CCLVI Parliamentary Sessions of 10 December 1917 till 29 October 1918] (Nastavak petog ratnog zasjedanja). [Continuation of the Fifth War Session.] Vol. VI. (Zagreb: Tisak Zemaljske tiskare, 1917 [i.e., 1918]. The text of Interpellation: pp. 987-1006, is printed in two columns per page, each ca. 17 x 27 cm.

109That is, the Croatians from the provinces of Croatia under the authority of the Ban (Viceroy).

110Any of the councils elected by the workers and soldiers of a district in revolutionary Russia.

111The Mamertine Prison was where early Christian martyrs, including St. Peter, were jailed, and has become proverbial as a harsh prison.

112Milivoje Jambrišak, Deputy to the Croatian Parliament and a supporter of the Yugoslav idea, joined the Yugoslav Committee in 1916.

113100 kopecks equaled one ruble, the Russian monetary unit.

114Silovoljci, the opposite of dobrovoljci (volunteers), i.e., those who were coerced into volunteering.

115The Šokci (singular: Šokac] were Roman Catholic Croatians living in the territories of northern Bosnia, Slavonia (the territory between the Drava and Sava Rivers), and along Danube.

116Knuta is a lash with small balls of lead at the end; in tsarist Russia it was used for whipping.

117A reference to the famous Latin phrase, morituri te salutant (“We who are about to die, salute you”), attributed to gladiators who greeted the Roman Emperor Claudius before fighting in the Coliseum.

118Petar Zrinski (1621-71) a Croatian magnate and viceroy of Croatia (1665-70).  Dissatisfied with Austrian policy vis-à-vis Croatia and Hungary, he led a plot, together with leading Hungarian magnates, against King Leopold I.  The aim of the plot was to force the King to obey the Constitution or to replace him.  The plot lasted several years and in the end Zrinski was left alone together with his brother-in-law, Duke Franjo Krsto Frankopan (1567-71).  They tried to get help from the Turks.  The plot was uncovered.  Lured to Vienna, both of them were executed at Wiener Neustadt on 30 April 1671.  Their huge properties were later confiscated.  The Houses of Zrinski and Frankopan benevolently supported Croatian literature and art.  As a result of this tragedy, the most essential interests of Croatia were set back for many years.

119Tartarus in Greek myth, the abyss below Hades where Zeus confined the Titans.

120Ferdo Šišić: Dokumenti o postanku Kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca 1914-1919. (Zagreb: Naklada Matice Hrvatske, 1920), p. 94.

121Ivan Meštrović, Uspomene na političke Ijude i dogadjaje (Buenos Aires: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1961) p. 173. “I have told you,” said Masaryk, “that I do not believe things will go easily, but that it was necessary to begin with a confederation, with a dualism between Zagreb and Belgrade.” Elsewhere in the paper it was said that Krunoslav Heruc (Geruc) lived for thirty years in Russia before the downfall of the tsarist regime.  He declared himself a Croatian and was accepted as such.  He worked for the Russian secret police.  In 1915, he and Ivan Gaparić, another Croatian, established Križanić, a Russian-Croatian society in Moscow, with a pro-Frankist political program.  In the Spring of 1916, another society, Yugoslavia, was also established there.  Its political program sought the creation of a Yugoslav state, organized as a federation that would include Bulgaria.  However, the Bulgarians, knowing the Serbian outlook better than did the Croatians, decisively rejected this idea.

SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

  1. Primary Sources
  2. Memoirs

3. Secondary Sources:

  1. A) Books
  2. B) Articles

 

1. Primary Sources

 

Gradja o stvaranju jugoslavenske države (1.1. – 20.XII. 1918).ed., Dragoslav Janković and Bogdan Krizman, (Belgrade, 1964). 2 Vols.

 

Lazarević, Branko. Jugoslavenski dokumenti; pregled narodnog pokreta u domovini i inostranstvu za vreme svetskog rata. (Zagreb: Naklada «Obnove» jugoslavenskog nakladnog D.D., 1919). 72 pp.

 

Mandić, Ante, ed. Fragmenti za historiju ujedinjenja. Povodom četrdeset-godišnjice osnivanja Jugoslavenskog odbora. (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1956). 262 pp.

 

Paulová, Milada. Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914. – 1918. (Zagreb: Izdala Prosvjetna nakladna zadruga, 1925). 603 pp.

 

Stenografski Zapisnici Sabora kralj[evine] Hrvatske, Slavonije i Dalmacije Petogodiste 1913.-1918. Od CC. do uključivo CCLVI. saborske sjednice od 10. prosinca 1917. do 29. listopada 1918. (Nastavak petog ratnog zasjedanja) Vol. VI. (Zagreb: Tisak Zemaljske tiskare,  1917 [i.e., 1918]

 

Šisić, Ferdo. Dokumenti o postanku kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – 1914.-1919. (Zagreb: Naklada «Matice Hrvatske», 1920). 329 pp.

 

2. Memoirs

 

Lloyd George, David. War Memoirs of Lloyd George (Boston: Little Brown, 1963). Vols. 4 and 5.

 

Meštrović, Ivan. Uspomene na političke Ijude i dogadjaje. (Buenos Aires: Knjiinica Hrvatske Revije, 1961) 417 pp.

 

Potočnjak, Franko. Iz emigracije Vol. I. (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Il (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Ill (Zagreb: Tisak «Tipografija», 1926). Vol. IV (Zagreb . Tisak «Narodnih novina,» 1926).

 

Steed, Henry Wickham. Through Thirty Years. 1892-1922; A Personal Narrative. (London: William Heinemann, 1924) 2 Vols.

 

3. Secondary Sources

 

  1. A) Books

 

Albrecht-Carrié, René. Italy at the Paris Peace Conference (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938). 575 pp.

 

Hanak, Harry. Great Britain and Austria-Hungary During the First World War: a Study in Formation of Public Opinion. (London: Oxford University Press, 1962).

 

Hancock, W. K. Smuts; the Sanguine Years 1870-1919. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1962).

Kapidžić, Hamdija. Bosna i Hercegovina pod austrougarskom upravom; članci i rasprave. (Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1968).

 

Kiszling, Rudolf. Die Kroaten; der Schicksalsweg eines Südslawenvolkes. (Graz-Köln: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1956).

 

Kruševac, Todor. Sarajevo pod austro-ugarskom upravom. 18781918. (Sarajevo: [Izdanje muzeja grada Sarajeva], 1963.

 

Lučonoša (pseud.). Hrvatsko pitanje i Londonski ugovor (Zagreb: Tisak “Tipografija”, 1937).

 

Mamatey, Victor S. The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918; a Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957).

 

Mandić, Dominik. Hrvati i Srbi dva stara različna naroda. (Munchen-Barcelona: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1971).

 

Mandić, Dominik. Hrvatske zemlje u prošlosti i sadašnjosti. (Rim: Izdanje Ranjeni labud, 1972).

 

Marjanović, Milan. Londonski ugovor iz 1915; prilog povijesti borbe za Jadran, 1914-1917. (Eds., Mijo Marković and Vaso Bogdanov) (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960).

 

Die nationale Abgrenzung im Süden; ein Beitrag zur Realisierung der Selbstbestimmung der Vôlker Oesterreich-Ungarns. (Zagreb: Kommission bei L. Hartmann ‘s Buchhandlung (St. Kugli)], 1917).

 

Petrinović, Ivo. Ante Trumbić; Politička shvaćanja i djelovanje. (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1986).

 

Pilar, Ivan. Južnoslavensko pitanje; prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja (Die südslavische Frage und der Weltkrieg; ubersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-Problems). L. V. Südland (pseud.). [Transl. Wien 1918, ed. by Fedor Pucek] (Zagreb: Izdanje Matice Hrvatske, 1943).

 

Seton-Watson, Robert William. The South Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy. (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969 [Reprint of 1911 ed.]).

 

Sforza, Carlo. Fifty Years of War and Diplomacy in the Balkans; Pašić and the Union of the Yugoslavs. (Trans., J. G. Clemanceau Le Clerq.) (New York: AMS Press, 1966, Reprint of 1940 ed.).

 

Smith-Pavelić, Ante. Dr. Ante Trumbić; problem hrvatsko-srpskih odnosa. (Munchen: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije. 1959.

 

Starčević, Ante. Izabrani spisi (ed., Blaz Jurišić) (Zagreb: Izdanje Hrvatskog Izdavačkog Bibliografskog Zavoda. 1943).

 

Šepić, Dragovan. Italija, Saveznici i Jugoslavensko pitanje, 1914-1918. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1970).

 

Šidak, Jaroslav. Povijest hrvatskog naroda g. 1860-1914. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1968).

 

Šišić, Ferdo. Pregled povijesti hrvatskog naroda. [Ed., Jaroslav Šidak] (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska. 1962).

 

Wexler, Robert J., ed. Woodrow Wilson. 1856-1924; Chronology, Documents, Bibliographic Aids. (Dobbs Ferry. N.Y.: Oceana Publications. 1969).

 

  1. B) Articles

 

Bastaić, Konstantin. “Hrvatski sabor i Jugoslavenski odbor,” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 259-367.

 

Beroš, Josip. “Stav carskog dvora prema sjedinjenju Dalmacije s Hrvatskom,” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1962) VIII (2), pp. 163-175.

 

Bogdanov, Vaso. “Historijski uzroci sukobu izrnedju Hrvata i Srba.” Rad (Zagreb: JAZU, 1957), Knjiga 7, pp. 353-477.)

 

Bogdanov, Vaso. “Problem rješenja hrvatskog pitanja izvan okvira Habsburške monarhije na početku Prvog svjetskog rata; prilog historiji oslobodjenja južnoslavenskih zemalja.” Rad (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), Knjiga 15, pp. 51-74.)

 

Bogdanov, Vaso. “Starčevićeva stranka prava prema oslobodjenju i ujedinjenju južnoslavenskih naroda u toku Prvog svjetskog rata,” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. [Ed., Vaso Bogdanov] (Zagreb: JAZU. 1966). pp. 27-163.

 

Bogičević, Vojislav. “Aneksija Bosne i Hercegovine i Jugoslavensko pitanje.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1959), V (4),. pp. 330-345.

 

Bratulić, Vjekoslav. “O suradnji Južnoslavenskih zastupnika Carevinskog  vijeća (1894-1900) i o problemu nacionalnosti u Austriji.” In Anali Jadranskog instituta. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1961), Vol. 3, pp. 5-68. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1961).

 

Ekmečić, Milorad. “Stavovi Nikole Pašića prema američkim planovima pretvaranja Austro-Ugarske u federativnu državu.” Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godisnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja jugoslavenske države. Zagreb. 27-28 prosinac 1968. godine (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969) pp. 159-171.

 

Gross, Mirjana, “Hrvatska politika u Bosni i Hercegovini od 1878-1914.” Historijski zbornik (1966/67). Vols. 19-20. pp. 9-68.

 

Janković, Dragoslav. “O odnosima Jugoslavenskog odbora sa srpskom vladom u 1916. Godini.” Historijski zbornik (Zagreb: Savez povjesnih društava Hrvatske, 1976-77). 29-30, pp. 455-467.

 

Košak, Vladimir, ”Prilozi za istoriju 1917. godine,” Historijski zbornik (Zagreb, 1957), 10 (1-4), pp. 131-136

 

Krizman, Bogdan. “Austrougarska diplomacija u danima raspadanja Dvojne monarhije 1918. godine.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1962) VIII, pp. 15-38.

 

Krleža, Miroslav. “Razgovor sa sjenom Frana Supila.” Deset krvavih godina i drugi politički eseji. (Zagreb: Zora, 1957), pp. 177-210.

 

Krleža, Miroslav. “Slom Frana Supila.” Deset krvavih godina i drugi politički eseji. (Zagreb: Zora, 1957), pp. 155-174.

 

Leontić, Ljubo. “Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu i Jugoslavenska omladina.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu: u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 243-258.

 

Leontić, Ljubo. “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu.” Starine (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), Knjiga 50, pp. 5-169.

 

Mandić, Dominik, “Herceg-Bosna i Hrvatska.” Hrvatska Revija (La Revista Croata), (Buenos Aires, 1963), XIII, (4), pp. 423-462.

 

Marković, Marko. “Udeo dobrovoljaca u oslobodilačkom ratu.” Misel in Delo. Kulturna i Socijalna revija (Ljubljana. 1938), No. 12, pp. 68-80.

 

Milutinović, Kosta. “R. W. Seton-Watson i Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu: u povodu 50godisnjice osnivanja (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 451-480.

 

Renzi, William A. “The Russian Foreign Office and Italy’s Entrance into the Great War, 1914-1915; A Study in Wartime Diplomacy.” Historian (August, 1966) XXVIII (4), pp. 648-668.

 

Stefanovic-Djačic, Zorka. “O ulozi naših iseljenika u Južnoj Americi za vrijeme Prvog svjetskog rata.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 521-538.

 

Šepić, Dragovan. “Politika rušenja Austro-Ugarske i Južni Slaveni.” Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godišnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja južnoslavenske države. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), pp. 109-119.

 

Šidak, Jaroslav. “Nacionalni problemi u habsburgškoj Monarhiji.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1961), VII (2), pp. 111-128.

 

Tomašić, Dinko. “Ethnic Components of Croatian Nationhood.” Journal of Croatian Studies (New York, 1963) III-IV, pp. 3-18.

 

Trumbić, Ante. “Elaborat o hrvatskom pitanju.” Kritika (Zagreb, 1971), No. 18, pp. 402-416. (Reprint of Trumbić’s Elaborate of the Croatian Question, dated 3 November 1932).

 

Trumbić, Ante. “Nekoliko reči o Krfskoj deklaraciji.” Bulletin Jugoslave (l November 1917) No. 26. (Reprinted in: Ferdo Šišić, ed., Dokumenti o postanku kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, 1914-1919 (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska, 1920), pp. 307-311.

 

Tudjman, Franjo, “Jugoslavenski odbor i stvaranje zajedničke države južnoslavenskih naroda.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 369-449.

ODESSA 1917 FROM A CROATIAN PERSPECTIVE – George Grlica

This work deals with the question of Croatian volunteers during World War I. The main part consists of an Interpellation which was submitted to the Croatian Sabor (Parliament) on 6 July 1918. Together with other documentation, it tells of Serbian misdeeds against those Croatian prisoners of war in Russia who were sent to Odessa in 1917. In a Conclusion I will add my own reflections.

Introduction

In Croatian historiography from 1918 until the present, several cursory, fragmentary works have been published regarding the question of Croatian prisoners in Russia during World War I. However, the interpretations of this question in these works have contradicted the documentary material available. This is particularly true of the historiography published after World War II in Yugoslavia. The only exception is Milada Paulová’s work, Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914. – 1918. (The Yugoslav Committee; History of the Yugoslav Emigration during the World War 1914-1918), published in Zagreb 1925.

None of these works, including Paulová’s study, has dealt with the “Interpellation” which was submitted to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb on 6 July 1918, and which documents Serbian crimes perpetrated against the Croatian prisoners of war in Odessa during World War I. The Interpellation1 was not published in Yugoslavia under the monarchy (1918-1941) nor during the period of the Socialist regime (1945-1991).

We cannot know for certain why the interpellation was not published in other works. But to publish this document in its entirety in historical studies published in Yugoslavia after 1918 would have meant publicly accusing the Serbs of crimes committed against their fellow countrymen, and this could not be allowed in either Royalist or Socialist Yugoslavia. So, after more than 70 years, we are publishing it for the first time in the English language.

In order to better understand the Interpellation, we will begin with a documentary review of the question of Croatian volunteers, that is: those in Odessa, in Italy, and in North and South America during World War I. This work will be divided into two parts. Part one is composed of four units: (l) The Volunteers in Russia; (2) The Volunteers in South America; (3) The Volunteers in North America; (4) The Volunteers in Italy.

In Part One I shall discuss the views of Ante Trumbić, President of the Yugoslav Committee in London, and of Nikola Pašić, Minister President of the Serbian government-in-exile on Corfu. I will also try to explain the reasons for their opposing views on the question of volunteers. In Part Two I shall present the document of the Interpellation itself, with a short introduction. In the Conclusion, I shall add some reflections based on the documentary material.

ODESSA IN 1917

PART ONE

Preamble
In 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, a number of
South Slavs were in Italy, among them Ante Trumbić2 , a lawyer from Split, a town on the Croatian coast in Dalmatia, and Frano Supilo (1870-1917), a pre-war politician from near Dubrovnik.

Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962), a famous Croatian sculptor, was also in Italy, where he had exhibited his work in Venice. These three men became the leading figures on the Croatian side, as did Nikola Stojanović and Dušan Vasiljević on the Serbian side. They met in Florence between 22 and 25 November 1914 to discuss the formation of a Committee. The actual Committee was formed in Rome, but not officially announced until 30 April 19153 in Paris. Named the Yugoslav Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor), its headquarters was in London, presided over by Trumbić. However, the Entente Powers did not recognize the Yugoslav Committee as an official representative of the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians living the southern regions of the Dual Monarchy. In order to establish itself and be accepted as such, the Committee had to prove to the Entente Powers that it really represented and spoke for the South Slavs in the Dual Monarchy4.

It was therefore necessary to contact the leading politicians in the Slavic areas of the Dual Monarchy. But political activity was both difficult and dangerous for those residing in the country in wartime, owing to strict censorship and the risk of incarceration. In order to circumvent such difficulties, Ljubo Leontić submitted a formal proposal to the Yugoslav Committee during one of its sessions in Rome. He proposed mobilizing the large numbers of Slavic emigrants. To do so, it was necessary:

(a) To set up an organization of volunteers to be recruited from the prisoners of war from the Croatian and Slovenian countries, who had reluctantly fought in Russia and Serbia, and from among the “economic émigrés” of the Southern Slavs in North and South America;

(b) To carry out political organization among the Southern Slavs the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbs in North and South America5.

Leontić’s proposal to recruit volunteers from among the Slovene and Croat prisoners of war in Russia was potentially significant, because if the Committee could use the volunteers for political purposes, it would strengthen the position of the Croatians and Slovenes. Serbian politicians, including Nikola Pašić, President of the Serbian Government in exile, did everything possible to preclude this possibility, as we will see later. Thanks to Trumbić’s indecision and, in our opinion, a misguided strategy which Trumbić, Meštrović, and others bitterly regretted later, the Serbs achieved their goal.

Worried over Italian pretensions to the ethnically Croatian regions of Dalmatia and Istra, the Committee was inclined to organize volunteer-troops, composed predominantly of Croatian prisoners of war in Russia. According to Franko Potočnjak, who was an active organizer during the war,

It was known that there were several hundred thousand prisoners of war from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians, from whom some were taken as lege artis prisoners, who could be said to be real prisoners of war, while the others had surrendered voluntarily. From these elements it endeavored to create legions which would have the duty to liberate [the homeland]…6

At its meeting on 11 January 1915 in Rome, the Committee decided to form a military unit from those volunteers in Russia under the name of “The Adriatic Legion” (Jadranska legija).

The Legion was called “Adriatic” because our Adriatic Sea symbolizes a synthesis of the ideals of all Yugoslavs who live along its shores or long for it, and because of the fact that the Legion could eventually be deployed in our territories along the Adriatic Sea…. The Legion would in any case come under a command provided by the Serbian Government7.

In early 1915, the Committee announced its intention to form an Adriatic Legion in Rome. Although its main purpose was to defend Croatia’s coast against Italian aspirations, this was naturally, not mentioned. Instead, the Committee presented the legion as an organization that would fight against Austro-Hungarian oppression and help the Serbian Army. However, the chief aim of the Legion was evident from its name, and the sensitive Italian press quickly guessed its real purpose and reacted quite sharply to it. The role of those volunteer troops became of even more importance after the signing of the Treaty of London on 26 April 19158. Potočnjak later noted that the volunteer troops had to execute one great, eminent national role; all their powers had to be consecrated solely for our national cause, regardless of anybody, including the Allies. … When the war ends, it will be necessary to drive out the German and Hungarian [military] units from our territories … [this will be] our tribute for the sacrifice of liberty: shedding blood9.

For political reasons, the name Adriatic Legion was obviously inconvenient, so after several months the Committee changed it to the Yugoslav Legion (Jugoslavenska legija), a name which grouped together the Croatians, the Slovenians and the Serbs — the South Slav peoples living in the Dual Monarchy.

Since Trumbić and the Croatian émigrée cooperated closely with Nikola Pašić and the Serbian government-in-exile, it is important to know both Pašić’s opinion of the Legion — which was shared by other Serbian leaders — and that of Trumbić and the Croatians. In order to understand Pašić’s stubborn and negative attitude toward the creation of a Yugoslav Legion, it is necessary to keep in mind the events of late 1915. Before the autumn offensive by the Austrian, German and Bulgarian forces, the Serbian army comprised about 300,000 soldiers. After the offensive and the Serbian army’s retreat through Albania and its transfer to Salonica, the Serbs counted only 130,000 troops in April-May 1916, including 6,000 officers10. Even this figure may be high, since only 122,000 troops had reached Corfu earlier11. Moreover, thousands of volunteers were included as members of the regular Serbian Army. Thus, the real number of Serbian troops was clearly less than the number claimed.
In order to replenish the ranks of the Serbian army, which had been reduced to less than half of its previous size, the Serbian Government-in-exile had two sources at its disposal: (l) volunteers from Slavic prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary in Russia, or (2) Croatian, Serbian, and Slovenian volunteers from among those who had emigrated in previous years to North and South America. A third possibility — to recruit refugees from Serbia, Montenegro, and the Croatian and Slovenian regions of the Dual Monarchy — did not seem very promising.

The Serbian Government sought to replenish the ranks of its army with volunteers from Russia and from North and South America by incorporating them anonymously. It simultaneously tried to prevent the Yugoslav Committee from creating a separate military force, which eventually could escape the control of the Serbian government and be used to secure Croatian interests, particularly along the Adriatic Sea. Eventually, such an independent force might even come into direct conflict with Serbian military forces, particularly if these volunteer-troops could be united with regular Croatian military forces in their own country after the dismemberment of the Habsburg Monarchy. These are the keys to understanding the attitude of Pašić, the Serbian Government, and the pro-Serbian politicians from the Dual Monarchy who were members of the Committee.

In short, the Serbian Government did not tolerate the idea of forming autonomous units of volunteers, because doing so did not serve Serbia’s interests. As Ante Mandić observed:

Persistently maintaining until the end of the war the attitude that Serbia was the only factor “which liberates,” it [the Serbian Government] jealously preserved the Serbian character of the Army and of all its actions. Even though its organs, when necessary, readily used phrases about Yugoslavism in its propaganda to recruit for the [Volunteer] Corps, [even then] the Serbian Government asked that the Army remain Serbian and exclusively Serbian in name as well as in reality, while the officers were asked “to imbue the volunteers with sound Serbian spirit”‘ and to inspire them for the Serbian cause…. the Serbian Government became afraid of the republican and federalist currents… (and) did not want to permit the formation of one large unit which later on ‒ under specific conditions ‒ might serve as a supporting base to the federalists as an army that could eventually escape its control12.

According to Trumbić and the Croatian wing of the Committee, the real purpose of the Adriatic Legion was to defend the Croatian Adriatic coast from the Italians. This goal also conflicted with Pasić’s political conception, because he constantly sought a separate agreement between Italy and Serbia; of course, to the detriment of the vital interests of Croatia.

The Adriatic Legion was objectionable to Pašić personally and [also] to the Radical [Party] majority in the government, and only for this reason did they constantly think about a treaty with Italy13.

We also can see clearly the same idea in Pašić’s statement to the Russian press, on the occasion of his visit to Petrograd, in the spring of 1916. His remarks drove a wedge between the Committee and the Serbian government, because, according to Novoe Vremya, a newspaper close to the Russian government and Court, Pašić had said that:

In Rome they are so convinced of the need to uphold the general interests of the Serbian and the Italian peoples, that the Government will certainly find a solution which will satisfy the Serbians. We will, of course, give Italy guarantees for its vital interests in the Adriatic Sea. What interests in the Adriatic Sea are necessary to Italy so that this guarantee can be realized, we will discuss later.14 (Emphasis added)

In other words, Pašić was ready to barter Croatia’s Adriatic coast to Italy for the purpose of acquiring and guarding Serbian interests. Of course, the Italian press warmly embraced the Serbian leader’s statement. Il Giornale d’Italia wrote: “The Serbian Minister-President accepts Italian hegemony in the Adriatic Sea15.

Such news from Italy caused great nervousness among some émigrés, increasing suspicions by some members of the Yugoslav Committee, especially by Frano Supilo, regarding whether Serbian politicians were sincere about the union of Croatia and Serbia as equals. The cause of this doubt was, as Supilo complained, “Serbian Orthodox exclusivism.” He seriously doubted the sincerity of the “Yugoslav program” and the intentions of the Serbian government and its Prime Minister. There were heated debates and reciprocal attacks within the Committee, particularly between the Croatian Supilo and the Serbians. The result was the resignation of Supilo from the Committee on 5 June 1916. After a long debate, Trumbić came to the conclusion that the Italian newspaper “tendentiously falsified” Pašić’s declaration in Petrograd, and so he shelved this crucial question.

Unlike Supilo, Trumbić failed to draw the necessary conclusions from Pašić’s declaration and the Serbian attitude vis-á-vis Croatia in general. This was the first, and fatal, psychological defeat of Trumbić by Pašić. In effect, Trumbić was trying to do the impossible ‒ to harmoniously unite two essentially different and opposing political conceptions. His attempt to realize a union of Croatia and Serbia as equals did not work then, and has not worked since.

Left alone, Supilo did as much as he could. He consistently and decisively maintained the seven points in his Promemoria, which he submitted to Sir Edward Grey on 30 September 191516. These points, summarized below, still have their importance:

If it is not possible to realize a common state in which Croatia and Zagreb will occupy an equal and comparable position to Serbia and Belgrade, and if Serbia would not be able to reform itself [that is, to reject its “Orthodox exclusivism”], then one has to work to assemble all the Croatian areas and unite them with Croatia proper, and a political union of all the Southern Slavs should be postponed until better times.

This view was shared and supported, particularly by Ivo de Giulli, a Croatian member of the Committee. In the summer of 1916, he gave the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs a Memorandum about the Croatian Question. De Giulli also sent a letter to Pašić, in which he resolutely defended Supilo and his political concept. But the Serbian members of the Committee, Vasiljević and Stojanovié, were decisively against Supilo, as were the Serbian government and Pašić. A year later, when Supilo died, there was no Croatian politician living abroad who could seriously challenge the exclusivist policies pursued by the Serbian government and Serbian leaders.

Even so, Pašić could oppose the Committee’s policy on the Adriatic Question only to a point. He had to support the Adriatic Question pro forma, as he noted on the back of a telegram to the Serbian Ambassador in Paris, Milenko Vesnić, dated 7 September 191617. Vesnić had advised “that all our people… abstain from giving statements about Italy’s posture toward us…18” However, when the time came to settle the question of the formation of the Adriatic Legion, Pašić defended Serbian interests to the detriment of the vital interests of the Croatian people.

Like Pašić, the Serbian Government and Serbian military authorities stubbornly stood by the idea that the volunteers had to be enlisted anonymously with the Serbian troops, and “. . .opposed the creation of such a separate [military] unit19.

Opposing conceptions of how the Legion was to be organized created tensions and difficulties between the Serbian government and the Committee that caused the postponement of the organization of the Yugoslav Legion. The Committee wanted a separate corps incorporated into the Serbian army. In the meantime, after their arrival from South America and from Russia, many volunteers were simply absorbed into existing Serbian units. As a result, “the number of volunteers who
actually fought in the Serbian army remains unknown.”20 At its meeting of 11 January 1915, the Committee decided to send Franko Potočnjak to Russia after he ended his mission in the United States. His main purpose was by “action and propaganda” to win over “influential Russian circles to our people’s cause.”21 His duty became even more important, because Supilo’s private mission there had failed.

Before going to Petrograd in the spring of 1916, Potočnjak interested himself in Supilo’s earlier actions in Russia. “I was told that he [Supilo] was met with suspicion, which contributed significantly to his… more than once visiting the Italian Consulate…”22

I. THE VOLUNTEERS IN RUSSIA

In mid-July 1915, after Franko Potočnjak’s departure for Russia, the Committee entrusted Ante Mandić, who had been in Russia since the beginning of the war, to open a branch-office of the Committee in Petrograd and to create a Volunteer Legion. Mandié began to work in this sense and when he arrived at the Serbian Embassy in Petrograd, he found “over 20,000, mostly very touching … letters and requests from prisoners-of-war…” who asked for help from the Serbian Ambassador.23 Mandić sent about 5,000 of those prisoners-of-war who had designated themselves as volunteers to Serbia, usually through Rumania, leaving to the Jugoslavenski Odbor and the Serbian Government the task of organizing a legion, as they wished, in Serbia. This work was continued until the autumn of 1915 when Serbia ‒ attacked by all sides ‒ underwent the collapse which [then] … cut off also the connections across the Danube and impeded the continued sending of volunteers.24

As noted earlier, in Serbia the volunteers were simply absorbed into the Serbian Army at the same time that the Serbian Government was postponing negotiations with the Committee in regard to the Adriatic Legion and negotiating with the Russian Government through Miroslav Spalajković, the Serbian Ambassador in Russia from 1913 to 1918, regarding the formation of military units in Russia using Slavic prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary. It was eventually decided to create an organization of volunteers in Odessa, so a Serbian consulate was established in the Ukrainian city. The Russian Supreme Command decreed that, from then on, all Croatian, Slovene, and Serbian officers and soldiers, prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary, who reported themselves ready to volunteer were to be sent to Odessa, the largest Black Sea port, where the Serbian consul, Marko Cemović, would oversee the national-political organization of this corps.

The military command was conferred on a Serbian Major, Z. Pejović.25 The Volunteer Corps also carried a Serbian name, “The Serbian Volunteers Corps,” which caused misunderstandings, repulsion, and opposition, particularly among the Croatian element.

The Russian Command began to send all prisoners of war from the South of the Dual Monarchy to Odessa, regardless of whether or not they were volunteers:

In about two months 19,700 soldiers had been collected… there, for whom neither the necessary accommodations, nor food, nor clothing, nor officer cadre were ready, in general nothing.26

More detailed data comes from Marko Marković, a Serb from Sarajevo who had access to the Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Serbia. He published his work in a Slovenian review, Misel in Delo in Ljubljana in 1938. There, he provided the following data:

…More and more volunteers were coming. At this time about 200 per day were arriving on average. On 15 March [1916] there were 181 officers and 5,365 volunteers and on 1 April 263 [officers] and 6,312 [troops]. On 19 April, the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division was constituted with soldiers for two regiments, and officers for all four regiments. On 15 April, the Division counted 9,904 volunteers (3,812 from Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2,065 from Croatia and Slovenia; 3,778 from Vojvodina; 171 from Serbia; 78 from the rest of the regions; according to nationality, 9,751 Serbs [from the Dual Monarchy]; 84 Croatians; 14 Slovenians; 25 Czechs; 30 others. Fifteen days later there were [already] 12,563 volunteers (4,997 [from Bosnia and Herzegovina]; 2,272 [from Croatia and Slovenia]; 4,977 (from Voj[vodina]; 200 from Serbia; and 117 others. On 31 May the Division had 404 [officers] and 13,075 [soldiers], and on 13 June [1916] there were 451 officers and 14,412 soldiers.27

As we can see from the above statistics, among the soldiers the Serbian element was absolutely predominant: 9,751 (15 April 1916) against 84 Croatians and 14 Slovenians. However, Croatian and Slovenian officers (137) exceeded the number of Serbian officers (116); in addition there were 36 Czech officers and a few others.28 Potočnjak saw the reason for the weak response of Croatian and Slovenian soldiers as due to the fact that the traditions and religion of the lower social strata predisposed them to reject the Yugoslav idea and union with Orthodox Serbia, which was something strange to them. The people, said Potočnjak, wanted a union of the South Slavs but within the framework of the old Monarchy. In other words, they saw their personal and national interests best secured within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy restructured on trialist or perhaps federalist principles. Under the circumstances, these solutions were probably both sound and realistic. However, the more educated circles looked at the national and political question from a different position. The officers of the “Volunteer Corps” saw in the Yugoslav idea a union of equals with Serbia.

The prisoners of war were sent to Odessa without much trouble. There, a selection was made from among them and those rejected — often Hungarian or German soldiers — were sent back. But this selection was made very superficially. According to Potočnjak:

. . . many of our people extradited to the [Serbian] consul in Odessa said that they had not volunteered, but had been forced to go to Odessa [while] wanting to remain faithful to their tsar [Franz Joseph] and preferred [rather] to return to Siberia.29

Commenting on these cases, Potočnjak concluded that they were “clear proof that we were not yet nationally and politically mature for the work we undertook.”30

Calling the “Volunteer Corps” in Odessa “Serbian” was completely at odds with the wishes of the Yugoslav Committee. The name also rankled the Croatian and Slovenian officers, who concluded that, because of its composition of three nations as an entity, the Corps should be called “Yugoslav”. This [however] was not approved nor accepted . . .31

In 1920, Marko Cemović wrote that “this idea among Serbian circles was seen as heretical.”32 So, from its inception, the Serbian Volunteer Corps in Odessa was beset by disharmony, hatred, and dissension:

When there was something trustworthy to say in a separate group or cluster, it was asked: is there any Croatian, Slovenian, or Serb present — as occasion serves — depending on those who wanted to talk and to come to an understanding.33

In April 1916, a group of Serbian officers, led by Colonel Stevan Hadžić, arrived from Corfu, where the Serbian Government had established its headquarters after its defeat by the Central Powers. Conditions in the Corps now became much worse. For instance, the Serbian officers from Corfu received a war-allowance of 8 rubles per day, while the Croatian and Slovenian volunteer-officers only got 2 1/2, effectively putting them into a lower category vis-á-vis the Serbian officers from Corfu; they were also not treated equally in comparison with the Serbian officers in the leading of operational units. But the Serbian officers evidently did not grasp the fact “that the Corps was a political formation with a military organization, that the political idea bore it and determined its aim and purpose, and that the military organization was only instrumental to that.”34

Potočnjak believed that the Serbian officers viewed the idea of national union from an exclusive Serbian point of view. “From here [germinates] a disgust for the names Yugoslav, Croatian, and Slovenian, and threats that anyone who would speak about such things would be eaten by the darkness, or simply “shot down.”35

According to Mandić, the Russian Government did not wish a union of Catholic Croatians and Slovenians with Orthodox Serbians. “The Russian Government,” he wrote, “skillfully used this hostile atmosphere to try to provoke a clash in the Volunteers Corps among the Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians … [over]… the idea of a federation between Croatians, Slovenians, Czechs, Hungarians… to prevent … the union of the Catholic Yugoslavs with [Orthodox] Serbia.”36

Conditions in tsarist Russia and in the Serbian Volunteer Corps were abominable by 1915, according to a report of October 1915 from Petrograd, sent by Mandić to the Committee in London. He warned that morale was low in Odessa:

…From our prisoners of war I am receiving most unpleasant news; some of them wrote me, the others let me know all kinds of things orally. All of them complain, complain, and complain [about] food, “lodging,” mistreatment, disorder, and hardships to which they are exposed for no reason… I know for certain that these complaints are not at all exaggerated… and the worst thing is that one can do absolutely nothing about them. [Russian] Headquarters is principally well inclined towards the Slavs and is helping them on the paper and does all that is possible; it does that honestly. However, the bureaucratic execution of the Headquarters’ orders, accustomed neglect and disloyalty, and the usual abuses on the side of the lower offices corrupt all… [The Russians], in consequence of their inborn laziness and inflexibility, quietly endure all these and do not show any compassion and pity, as they do not even have compassion for their own countrymen. …

Mandić considered living conditions uncomfortable and unhealthy:

It is necessary to mention that our [prisoners of war] suffer horribly from the cold… Living in shacks and stables where wind blows through the walls and rain comes through the roof…, dressed in those worn-out and shabby rags in which they were captured… half of them will die from this kind of life or because of it.…

So he urged immediate and drastic measures, including evacuation of the volunteers:

Because of this spiritual and moral misery, one cannot do anything here. The Russians are not in a position to understand the great misery of either our or their people, and even if they could understand it they would not do anything about it.… According to my understanding, two things should be done: first, collect some money in Europe and America and buy some coats and woolens and distribute them among the prisoners of war … You live among the people, try to collect some things… But one should do so carefully and not wound… Russian pride, otherwise ours would be even worse off. Second, one should take radical measures and, if possible, begin transportation of these unfortunates out of Russia, through Archangel… the Russians there would not make difficulties….

Acting to help the volunteers seemed urgent, owing to deteriorating conditions in Russia:

About the situation in Russia, I cannot tell you anything comforting: the state of affairs is becoming more and more difficult… It is beyond comprehension what is happening here. On the one hand, stocks of grain from last year still lie untouched in storehouses in this country which is famous for its wealth of forests and flocks, … on the other hand, there exist prohibitive prices and scarcity of grain, of flour, of sugar, of fuel, of fat and other basic commodities, so that the people have to wait for hours on the street… while huge quantities of these articles have lain unloaded in wagons at railway-stations in all larger cities since December 1914… About ten days ago or more, there was a strike in Moscow, which was suppressed in blood….

Mandić despaired of improvement, owing to a Russian society that was both selfish and obsequious:

Russian society had shown that it was rotten down to its roots, and poisonous, that it had neither honesty nor patriotism. Even the best individuals, who were independent and did not cringe before governmental authorities, became satraps and beasts of prey as soon as they came to power. These were people without any energy, without self-consciousness and pride, who lacked, in spite of all their Greek Orthodoxy, any ethical core. The only thing for which they were striving was to become by all means rich under any circumstances and with the least effort. The late Durnovo was right in saying, that one could only govern them with brutal absolutism….

Nor did Mandić see much hope, since he did not think the Russians were aware of how low they had sunk:

They stubbornly keep their traditions about the greatness of the State and the moral force of the Russian people, being protectors of the Slavs and of European culture and with this fiction they cover the reality of which they are really afraid…. This uncritical approach and the fear of the truth, which they cover with thundering phrases, does not only dominate the intelligentsia in the widest (Russian) sense, but all foreign policy is also based on it as well as the interior life of Russia. One cannot make them aware of the situation….

The best Mandić could imagine was to await better times, while striving to help those in Odessa:

Here we do not propagate our cause; Russia is now preoccupied with strategy and internal disorder and for this reason nobody would listen to us or read [our publications]. We are waiting for a better moment.37

This was the situation that greeted Franko Potočnjak when he arrived in Russia. Potočnjak arrived in Petrograd just before Easter 1916. Spalajković, the Serbian Ambassador in Russia (1913-1918), informed him about the situation there and about “our situation” in particular. He requested an audience for Potočnjak with Sazonov, but due to the Easter holidays, it was necessary to wait several days. In the meantime Mandić received a letter from Odessa written by Gjuro Kolumbatović, who described the terrible situation of the Serbian Corps there, a situation which was “extremely serious” and in serious danger of disintegration. Kolumbatović urged “somebody from the Yugoslav Committee come here at once and bring the situation under control.”38

So Spalajković, Mandić, and Potočnjak agreed that the audience with Sazonov should be postponed and that Potočnjak should promptly go to Odessa to try to settle the chaotic situation there. Mandić sent Trumbić Kolumbatović’s letter, together with earlier ones in order that the members of the Committee might better grasp the situation in Russia regarding the question of volunteers.

On his arrival in Odessa, Potočnjak saw that “the conditions in the Corps… were worse than I could imagine.”39 The problem went beyond the name of the Corps to fundamental differences over the intent of the formation:

The name Serb… designates one part of our people as do the names Croatian, … and Slovenian…. None of these names designates the whole people. And the [Serbian] Corps forms neither a part of it, nor forms a Serbian part alone. It [the Corps] has to include all three together: the Serbs, the Croatians, and the Slovenians…seek(ing) the common goal and power to create a common, united, consolidated, and liberated homeland…. Unfortunately such reasoning was not considered acceptable… but as an opposition to Serbian nationhood. Those who led the Corps, including several Serbian officers, … were one-sided and unable to understand the ideas which directed those who began the movement for the Legion and those [also] who responded to it. They still agreed completely with the Serbian exclusivism and looked with an evil eye upon all who merely dared to question the name of the [Serbian] Corps.40

In order to correct this situation, Potočnjak started to publish a paper known as the Slavic South (Slovenski Jug). Its purpose was to inform “the scattered brothers throughout all the Russian country” about political and military affairs, and to bring news from the homeland. The financial expenses were born by the Committee in London Had it not been able to pay them in full, Potočnjak had arranged with Pašić for the Serbian government to do so instead.”41

Pašić and the heir presumptive, Alexander, were both informed in writing of the whole situation concerning the tensions in the Corps in Odessa. Besides the “inner factors,” there was also an “outside influence” which affected the Corps’ situation. Such was the case, for example, of Krunoslav Heruc (or Geruc). Heruc who had lived in Russia for thirty years, presented himself as a Croatian representative and as such was accepted in Russian circles. Heruc also had connections with the Russian secret police. He and Ivan Gaparić established the Russian-Croatian Society, “Križanić,” in Moscow in 1915 which was pro-Frankist42, while the Yugoslavia Society — established in the spring of 1916 — followed the concept of the settlement of Yugoslavia upon a federalist principle that included Bulgarians among the South Slavs.

Heruc, who was in contact with the Russian authorities, worked to establish a separate Russian-Croatian Corps, similar to the Russian Czech Corps, but against the union of the Croatians and Slovenians with Serbia.43 Heruc had his people in the Serbian Corps in Odessa, whose work among the already highly dissatisfied Croatian and Slovenian officers contributed even more to aggravate the situation there. Only by the intervention of Potočnjak, Mandić, and Spalajković was Heruc’s influence on the Corps lessened.

As more and more volunteers arrived in Odessa, the Russian Supreme Military Command, by its decree of 10 October 1916 officially formed the Serbian Volunteer Corps (Srpski dobrovoljački korpus), which was split into two divisions — the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division (Prva srpska dobrovoljačka divizija) and the 2nd Serbian Volunteer Division (Druga srpska dobrovoljačka divizija). In September 1916, command of the Corps passed from the Serbian Colonel Hadžić, to General of the Serbian Army Mihajlo Živković. All administrative work was taken over by the 1st Division, apart from some troops who continued to use the name of the Serbian Corps. The 2nd Division still had to be completed.

When Rumania entered the war on the side of the Entente Powers in the autumn of 1916, the 1st Volunteer Division was hastily sent to Dobrudja to stop the Bulgarian advance. The plan of the Division was, in the event of success, to cross over the Danube and join the Serbian Army. The men fought well and their courage and persistence earned them an honored name. According to Mandić, the Division started the battle with 18,510 soldiers and received some 4,500 reinforcements during combat. The Division fought in the center with 30,000 Russians on its left, and five Rumanian divisions on its right.44 The battle lasted from 24 August until 12 October 1916. The Division succeeded in breaking down the Bulgarian-Turkish center, in capturing four batteries, and in seizing a considerable amount of military and war material. Its casualties were high: 42 officers dead and 208 wounded; 2,039 soldiers dead and missing, and another 6,047 wounded. According to the Bulgarian generals, Toshev and Kantardzhiev, their forces had lost 14,800 soldiers and officers. According to Paulova, the 1st Division’s losses were as follows: 32 of 500 volunteer officers (15 Serbs, 8 Croatians, 7 Czech, and 2 Slovenians), and seven regular officers from Serbia. Three hundred officers were wounded.45

The volunteer rank and file lost 1,939 men (l,810 Serbs, 41 Slovenians, 32 Croatians, 27 Russians, 26 Czechs, and 2 others), with 8,000 wounded. Tsar Nicholas was so satisfied with their performance that he ordered the immediate completion of the Second Division.46 But no one cared very much about the welfare of either the wounded or the Corps in general. Fifteen days after the battle, Mandić visited Odessa, where he found the wounded

…muddy, wounded, neglected; the officers lay in their bloody shirts, without dressings, without underwear, their clothes unchanged, without a penny in their pocket. They lay waiting… for the English lazarets, and… for their pay — from July [of 1916] onwards; and then to be transported into the interior of Russia, and — la commedia è finita! Nobody thinks any more about them, nobody cares about them…47

On 1 October 1916 the Serbians began a forced mobilization among the prisoners of war in the Odessa region. By the end of the month about 20,000 “volunteers” had been transported to Odessa, among them: 9,000 Croatians, 7,000 Serbs, and 4,000 Slovenians, most of whom “were included in the Legion against their will.”48 These volunteers completed the 2nd Division. Evidently, the forced mobilization was carried out by the Serbian captain Majstorović against the wish of the Russian authorities who wanted to select only those willing to volunteer and respect the wish of the prisoners-of-war, particularly the Croatians of the Roman Catholic faith, but apparently not of the Islamic faith. The Serbs informed the Russian authorities that the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina were apostates from the “ancestral Orthodox faith” and argued that it was necessary to return them to the Orthodox faith. This meant either extinction or acceptance of Orthodoxy, the same policy that the Serbs had carried out in Serbia and in Montenegro against the Muslims there during the time of the Vladika (Bishop), known as the istrebljenje poturica (extinction of the semi-Turks).

These volunteers filled out the 2nd Division, but their treatment was brutal. Those soldiers who did not want to wear uniforms were starved, cudgeled, and beaten with gun stocks. Their fingers were broken in doors, their heads forced into toilets, suffocating them. The result was a rebellion on 23 October 1916, that left 13 dead and 18 wounded.49 Some troops, as they fled the Corps, even shouted, “Long live Franz Joseph.” (Živio Franjo Josip!)50 By 20 November 1916, 44% had left the 2nd Division: 3,000 had deserted and 6,000 had been returned to Russian captivity. Of some 20,000 soldiers forming this Division, only 11,169 men remained.51 This massive desertion led General Živković to send a proposal to the Serbian government on 17 December 1916 declaring that the hated “Serbian name” of the Corps should be abolished among the Croatian and Slovenian deserters, and replaced by the name Yugoslav Volunteer Corps.52

However, apprehensive that the 2nd Division would be misused, as had the 1st, Potočnjak had already sent a letter on 1 December 1916 to Alexander, cautioning that:

The 1st Division of the Serbian Corps is completely broken, it can be said it barely exists. There is also a danger that the 2nd Division, just formed but not yet trained and not at all ready, could have been used in the same way and the same results reached. The wounded are greatly embittered [and] among the volunteer officers and soldiers [there is] a general discontent because they have been employed in the previous battles which did not solve [our] problem [and] on foreign territory; since they were gathered and responded to the call to fight for their national ideals and [national] interests for which they are still and always ready to sacrifice everything… [There exists] general discontent, bitterness, and revolt against the command of the 1st Division. It is extremely urgent to take steps which, possibly, will correct the first and prevent the second….53

When Potočnjak came back from Russia, he went to Corfu where he reported orally on the situation concerning the volunteers in Odessa and also in writing, giving the notes in person to Alexander on 30 May 1916. In his report, he noted the bad treatment meted out by the Serbian officers, particularly to the Croatian and Slovenian volunteers. He also reported that the Serbian officers beat them with “the kourbash, fists, and kicking, “cursing [their] father and mother,” and calling them a “herd of cattle,” and “Austrian swine.” 54Such atrocious mistreatment and torture of Croatian (and Slovenian) prisoners of war in Odessa over differences regarding the political purpose of the Corps, was a bad sign and boded ill for future relations between Croatians and Serbians.

Lest it appear that Mandić and Potočnjak exaggerated the mistreatment of the “volunteers” by the Serbian officers, we offer an opinion by Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962), the well-known Croatian sculptor, who was also actively involved in politics and was a founding member of the Yugoslav Committee in London. Here is what he had to say about the Bosnian Croatians of Islamic faith who were deported to Odessa:

The Second Corps was soon formed… For this Corps the Serbian flag was also ordered, for [they say] there is no other flag. The selection was strange. The Russians were of the opinion that only those who wished to fight should be separated and they particularly insisted on this for the Croatians who were put apart, asking each one who each one was. The Serbs were asked: “Which of the Serbs are Greek-Orthodox?” and those who reported themselves as such were at once set apart and registered as volunteers. The Croatians were asked whether they wished to join the Legion or not. For the Bosnians another procedure was used. The Catholics were set apart and the rest were asked: “Are you Bosnians?” if so, then all should be volunteers. When; the Muslims started to protest that they were not Serbs, they were separated and “in a special way persuaded.” What kind of persuasion this was, a certain Semez, a Greek Orthodox from Bosnia, to whom this “mission for Bosnians” was entrusted, told me one month later. ‘Each “Turk” who did not agree (and there were few of the uneducated who did agree), was beheaded and the others, when they saw them, said ‘so help me God’ (Boga mi), they then agreed….55

In the meantime, Russia was experiencing great internal changes. In March 1917, the Tsar abdicated and a provisional government was established, headed by Prince Lvov (1861-1925). The Foreign Office now came under the control of Professor Miliukov, who favored the idea of “Yugoslav union.” In those stormy days the spreading of liberal ideas also reached the Volunteer Corps in Odessa. Throughout these events a large group of officers, almost exclusively Croatians and Slovenians, expressed their wishes to the Command of the Corps. They asked that:56

l) the name of the Corps — “The Serbian Volunteer Corps”… be changed to the “Yugoslav Volunteer Corps;”
2) the political and juridical constitution of the future common state organization… be defined precisely in advance, based upon the federal principle of equality;
3) the Volunteer Corps… be preserved for the purpose for which it was created, namely, the liberation of the homeland;
4) the juridical and material status of the volunteer officers and soldiers… be clearly defined;
5) among the Corps’ command a special elected committee… be formed, composed of the volunteer officers and chosen from amongst them, which — like those in Russian military units — would work together with General Živković and take care of the political, juridical, and agitational side of the Corps’ work, that is, the formation of a “political commissariat.

The same group of officers forwarded a declaration to the Russian authorities, in which they declared that they wanted:

… Yugoslavia based upon the principle of democracy and equality for all three nations. We consider any other platform for our union impossible and harmful for each of the three nationalities…. A federation of the Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian countries — after the pattern of Switzerland or the United States of America — can only be realized through a strict conduct of the principle of equality. Our ideal, thus, is: a federative Yugoslavia… that…will be… an element of peace in the Balkans…. We wish for liberty and union so that our unhappy and exhausted nations can devote all their capacities, in a peaceful common life, to work for the promotion of material and spiritual cultures…. The “Greater Serbian” idea is not suitable to the Serbian people and is a product of fantasies and a state of mind of the military group which desires an armed clash in the Balkans and which, in the name of democratization, forced all Yugoslavs to serve the idol of crude power. “Greater Serbia” is opposed to our ideal of work and peaceful development; it signifies parasitism which is linked to expansionism, and is an external threat to all its neighbors.”57 (Emphasis added.)

In its reply to the demands of the Croatian and Slovenian officers to the Command of the Corps, the Serbian government accepted the requests regarding salaries and the status of volunteer officers, but it remained obdurate in its opposition to adding “Yugoslav” to the Corps’ name. However, it did rename the Corps, the “Volunteer Corps of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes” (Dobrovoljački korpus Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca). Other problems remained completely unsolved, and even the change of name was more of a tactical ploy than a real change of spirit. All other demands were rejected or ignored. Pašić and Serbia’s government-in-exile continued to reject the idea that the Volunteer Corps was a political formation with a military organization, and that its main purpose was the liberation of the Fatherland.

The Serbian Government also did not want to commit itself to a federal political and juridical arrangement of any future South Slav state. In other words, the Serbian government retained its exclusive and limited view.

Given the negative response of the Serbian government to demands for change, a group of volunteer officers sent a memorandum to the Russian Military Command in which they requested their integration into the regular Russian Army, stating why they had joined the Corps and why they wanted to leave it. Because of its importance in describing the officers’ state of mind and the Serbian attitude, we cite the main parts of this Memorandum to Velihov, from the Slovenski Jug (The Slavic South) issue of 1 June 1917, No. 17.

Odessa, 7 April/ 25 March 1917
THE VOLUNTEER OFFICERS TO VELIHOV

Memorandum of the conditions in the [Volunteers] Corps.

The undersigned officers of the “Serbian Volunteer Corps,” we have the honor to present to you the following

MEMORANDUM

[Our desire for] the liberation and union of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians in one independent state, in which each would enjoy complete equality in every aspect, attracted us to the “Serbian Volunteer Corps.” We have not and will not recognize any hegemony or supremacy of one nation over another,… No Greater Serbia, no Greater Croatia, no Greater Slovenia. Our ideal was and will remain a federative Yugoslavia. From the very beginning of the existence of the volunteer troops, we have endeavored to conduct our political program through [it], as the only possible and justifiable basis in order that the three hitherto separate nationalities come closer together in the geographical, political, cultural, religious, and historical fields. Our endeavors have been futile. Deceived from the beginning with various promises, we are finally convinced that we do not serve our ideal but the imperialistic and conquering aims of Serbian megalomania.

This is the primary reason why we cannot stay any longer in the Serbian Volunteer Corps. This megalomania did not stay in the framework of differences of ideology and principle; it has also been reflected in the hostile attitudes toward us and our soldiers, and it has assumed concrete forms of animosity,… tyrannies and crimes have been committed: robberies, beatings, tortures, even killings, the perpetrators of which have remained unpunished…. With regard to us, the volunteer-officers, our stay in the Corps is filled with humiliation and insults from the side of the so-called “proper Serbs”, that is, the officers who came from Serbia. All these [facts] led to…crises in the Corps….[Therefore] we have come to the conclusion that it is better that we shed blood… in the ranks of the Great Russian Army for Russian liberty — which we consider as a guarantee for our liberty — and for the just, rather than for the new enslavement of our people and the unjust. For this reason, we request our transfer to Russian service… [and ask] that proper measures be undertaken [to see] whether they are [really] volunteers of the Serbian Volunteer Corps or not….58

During the months of March and April 1917 the dissident process was in full swing. Once again it seemed that the Corps might disintegrate. So General Živković asked Mandić and Jambrišak, both members of the Committee in London, to come from St. Petersburg to Odessa in order to try to alleviate tensions in the Corps. They arrived around Easter. On their advice and under pressure from the local Russian military authorities, the Command of the Corps in Odessa finally accepted the idea of dividing “loyal” volunteers from the “dissenters.” As a result, 12,741 soldiers left the Corps (7,352 Serbs, 3,787 Croatians, 1,241 Slovenians, and 361 others), as did 149 officers (4 Serbs, 98 Croatians, 42 Slovenians, and 5 others). This amounted to 38% of the soldiers and officers of the Corps. By the end of May 1917, the Corps — which now included the 1st and 2nd Divisions with a Support Battalion — numbered 19,472 soldiers and 779 officers.59

Paulova’s data agrees in general with those of Marko Marković. However, Marković either did not explain the causes of the Corps’ crises, or did so with a few general phrases, putting the word “crises” between quotation marks, as if it were a small misunderstanding, or an innocent quarrel. He did not enter into the essence of the question — the basic difference in understanding of the political purpose of the Corps and the structure of a future South Slav state, owing to the opposing cultures and national characters — one a western-occidental and cosmopolitan culture, the other eastern, Orthodox and exclusivist. According to Marković:

At that time, the March revolution [1917] broke out, causing an evolution of events and nations. Soviet Military Committees were formed by the volunteers. One Russian Commission examine those who did not wish to remain as volunteers, and various commissars and members of the Soviets persuaded them to leave the Corps. The ranks of the volunteers were shaken. A “crisis” arose. 149 officers left the Corps (4 Serbs, 96 Croatians, 42 Slovenians and 7 others) as well as 12,741 soldiers (7,352 Serbs, [from the Dual Monarchy], 3,787 Croatians, 1,241 Slovenians and 361 others); there remained 779 officers (411 Serbs, 98 Croatians, 39 Slovenians, 98 Czechs, 125 Russian, and 8 others) and 19,472 soldiers (16,562 Serbs, 668 Croatians, 243 Slovenians, 90 Czechs, 1,847 Russians, and 62 others.60

The small number of Croatian (668) and Slovenian (243) relative to Serbian (16,562) volunteers from the Dual Monarchy who were left in the Corps confirms our thesis that most Croatians did not accept the Yugoslav idea and an unequal union of Croatia with Serbia. According to the intellectuals who diffused and worked for this idea, such a union was envisaged on an equal level in all aspects of life. Their political idea ignored the problems uniting the two different cultures, religions, and histories involved. When this “union” of Croatia and Serbia was actually proclaimed in 1918, many Croatian champions of the “Yugoslav idea” were deeply disappointed, for its fruits were bitter then, and have been bitter for the Croatians ever since.

After the Russian military authorities approved the request by Croatian and Slovenian officers to serve in the regular Russian Army, many of them left the Corps. In the Russian Army, they had the same rights as the Russian officers and soldiers, and some formed a separate battalion in Kiev; others were absorbed by Russian military units. Some later joined the “Red Army” and later still surfaced as political leaders of the Croatian left wing, among them Vladimir Čopić, called “Senjko” (1891-1937 [1939]), who was liquidated in the Stalinist purges in 1938 [1939].

The 1st Division of the Corps, after having absorbed part of the Second, was sent to the Rumanian Front together with the First Brigade —in all, 482 officers, 1,355 non-commissioned officers, and 12,095 soldiers. After the disintegration of the front, the Serbian Government succeeded in transferring the 1st Division, less the 2nd Brigade, to the Salonica front so it could join the Serbian Army. The remnants of the 2nd Division (184 officers and 2,875 soldiers) received permission (on 16 August 1917) to leave Odessa for Murmansk, where they embarked for England through the Arctic Ocean, eventually arriving in Salonica via France and the Mediterranean Sea.

The 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division was the last to leave the Odessa region for Archangel, in November 1917. On the way, they met Bolshevik military units, who wanted them to return to the Rumanian front. But Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) let them proceed. They reached Manchuria by means of the Siberian railroad. From there, they went south to the town of Dalnyi, near Port Arthur, where they were transported by British and French ships through the Suez Canal. They arrived in Salonica in the middle ofApril 1918.

II. THE VOLUNTEERS IN SOUTH AMERICA

Following the defeat of Serbia by the Central Powers, the Serbian Army was reduced to less than half its original size. This made the Serbian Government-in-exile on Corfu weaker both militarily and politically. Its situation became even worse after the fall of Serbia’ s main supporter ‒ the Romanov dynasty in Russia. As a result, Pašić was compelled to make tactical concessions to the Committee in London. In order to rebuild the Serbian army, as well as prisoners of war in Russia from the southern countries of the Dual Monarchy, Pašić also recruited Croatian, Slovenian, and Serbian volunteers from North and South America, where several hundred thousand people had immigrated before 1914.

In December 1915, Pašić’s attempt to win the Entente Powers over to the idea of volunteers did not bear fruit because of the question of their transportation from South and North America to Europe. In July 1916, Pašić tried again, and on 18 October 1916 the French Government granted Serbia a loan of two million francs, promising further loans, in order to cover transportation expenses, support, and training of the volunteers.61 The Tunisian port of Bizerta was chosen as their “concentration point.” The Serbian government sent two military missions to the Americas to spread the idea of voluntary military service, hoping to exploit feelings of ethnic solidarity among the emigrants from the Southern Slavic countries. The mission to South America was entrusted to Captain Spiro Poznanović, a personal and family friend of Nikola Pašić. The mission to North America was given to Milan Pribićević, a colonel in the Serbian Army and a brother to Svetozar Pribićević, leader of the governing Croatian-Serbian Coalition in Zagreb during the war years.

The Committee in London was not informed of all the initiatives undertaken by Pašić, nor of the convention between the Serbian Government and France. So once again the question of volunteers and of the formation of the Yugoslav Legion surfaced as a problem, especially when volunteers began to arrive in Bizerta, Tunisia, and were directly incorporated into regular Serbian army units, as had been the case with volunteers in Russia and those who had come to Serbia before Rumania entered the war. Trumbić faced a pressing task — to solve once and for all with the Serbian Government the matter of the Yugoslav Legion. Unfortunately, he fell ill and went to Cannes to convalesce, leaving Hinko Hinković and Josip Jedlovski to act on his behalf. Hinković, who was closer to the Serbian Government than Trumbić, sent a proclamation in November 1916 to the Americas in the name of the Yugoslav Committee, but without Trumbić’s knowledge and without consulting Jedlovski or other members of the Committee. In it, Hinković asked that all emigrant volunteers should put themselves “under the Serbian banner.”62 When Trumbić and the other members learned of this step, a very critical clash followed in the Committee, because the proclamation contrasted with the opinion of the majority and was directly opposed the Committee’s intentions.

Hinković’s letter arrived in South America at the beginning of January 1917. The central organization of the Jugoslavenska Narodna Obrana (Yugoslav National Defense) published it in the papers Jugoslavenska država (Yugoslav State) and Domovina (Fatherland), calling for the mobilization of all volunteers and designating Antofagasta as the main “concentration point,” with the town of Punta Arenas as a temporary center.63

By the end of January 1917, 475 had volunteered in the Republic of Chile alone.”64 This seems a relatively small number, but in a state which counted only five to six thousand Croatian colonists, it amounted to almost of the emigrants. On 7 January 1917, Hinković’s manifesto was sent to Argentina (Buenos Aires). By the middle of February the South American contingent of volunteers was ready. On 25 February the volunteers should have left Antofagasta for Bizerta, but did not do so, because, in the midst of the general enthusiasm among the emigrants, the Yugoslav National Defense received an urgent telegram from Trumbić. Writing from Cannes on behalf of the Yugoslav Committee, he said not to send volunteers to Bizerta and to stop the mobilization. The Yugoslav National Defense replied with a telegram asking for an explanation. The Committee replied that the reasons could not be cabled and ordered the Yugoslav National Defense to wait for written instructions.

At the same time, a Serbian captain, Poznanović, was urging the contingent of volunteers to leave Antofagasta. So the situation became muddled, leaving the volunteers stranded. The central office of the Yugoslav National Defense was confused, because it believed that the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbs were working together.65 Pašić held that the Committee had no right to stop the mobilization or the movement of volunteers, even though they were mostly Croatians and therefore of more concern to the Committee. He argued that he had obligations towards France, which had granted a loan to Serbia for this purpose. It was thus that, finally, the Committee learned of his deal with the French.66

Trumbić reiterated the point of view of the Committee in regard to volunteers:

The standpoint of our Committee was ‒ since the beginning of the war ‒ that our volunteers have to fight as a separate unit under the Supreme [Serbian] Command, and not anonymously, as we have several times informed the [Serbian] Government. It is the right and benefit of the whole cause that one knows where they are from and why they fight. This [attitude] we retain today….67

Pašić answered by letter on 18 March 1917, referring to a telegram from Antofagasta of 23 January 1916. In this telegram the delegates of the Congress sent their greetings to the old Serbian King, Peter. The sentence which Pašić stressed read that the participants of the Congress “greet with enthusiasm their king and their government, putting at his disposal their property and their lives.”68

Trumbić countered by referring to the resolution of the same Congress as a more authentic account of their loyalties. The resolution read, in part,
…We put ourselves at the unconditional disposal of the Serbian Government, expressing our complete trust in the Yugoslav Committee in London, which we consider our lawful representative for all Southern Slavic countries under the rule of Austria-Hungary….69 (Emphasis added.)

This disagreement over the fate of American volunteers occurred at the same time that dissidents were emerging among the volunteers in the Corps in Russia and after the tragedy of Dobrudja had already passed into history. All these events led the Committee to act decisively against the opposition of the Serbian Government concerning the already wearisome question of volunteers, and of the creation of the Yugoslav Legion. On 23 March 1917, Trumbić convened a plenary session in which the Committee unanimously decided to stick by the principles enunciated in 1915, adding the following new points:

(1) that the mobilization of the volunteers will only be effected among the emigrants from the Southern Slavic countries under Austria-Hungary, forming the already mentioned Yugoslav Legion;

(2) that the Serbian Government will not accept into its Army those volunteers who do not want to join the Legion but are from the Southern Slavic countries.

Trumbić sent the minutes of the session together with a long private letter to Pašić, at the end of which he complained that “from the Serbian side, in spite of all proposals by our Committee, nothing was done positively to create a Yugoslav volunteer unit….70

After receiving Trumbić’s telegram, mobilization in South America was stopped and everyone waited impatiently to receive directions from the Committee. These finally reached Antofagasta on 20 March 1917, signed in the name of the Committee by Mića Mičić, who had previously championed the idea of volunteers. But, again, no reason was given for stopping their mobilization and for delaying their transportation to Europe. This time the Committee asked the Yugoslav National Defense “whether the Yugoslavs of South America,” the greatest majority of whom were Croatians, “could organize one volunteer airborne unit with at least six airplanes and the necessary number of men.71 The expenses for this project were enormous, but not too long after, the Yugoslav National Defense answered that it was ready to do so, and would assume the entire expenses of the Committee.72 Trumbić then wrote to Pašić on 10 February 1917, asking the Serbian Government for its agreement to the creation of an airborne squadron. Pašić did not answer. On 10 April 1917, Trumbić tried again:

If you think that you can agree in principal to this idea, the Committee will give instructions for the realization of this project. The squadron would be the Aeronautic section of the Yugoslav Legion,… under the guidance of the Serbian Supreme Command.73

Pašić did not answer this letter either. Because of the Serbian Government and its official attitude, this project never materialized. Even so, the great patriotic feeling of the small Croatian colonies — which in South America were labeled “Yugoslavs” — was impressive. They could not have succeeded in securing the complete financial independence of the Committee, but they were willing to do what they could. As Paulova wrote:

It can be said that no other nation, nor any other part of the world, nor any other political alliance was ever so [well] organized and ideally devoted as the Yugoslav National Defense in South America.74

III. THE VOLUNTEERS IN NORTH AMERICA

The situation in the United States regarding this question of volunteers was quite different from the one in South America. There was no serious attempt to recruit volunteers in the U.S.A. until the arrival of the Serbian military mission headed by Colonel Milan Pribićević in November 1916. One of the reasons for this lay in the neutrality of America in the war until 1917. But the main reasons were the political divisions and antagonisms between the Croatians and the Serbs. Milan Pribićević, personally quite popular and very energetic, had marked success among the Serbs, yet among the Croatians and Slovenians his mission failed, and in the end he asked to be discharged from his duty. Writing to General Rašić, the Serbian military delegate to the French Supreme Command, Pribićević said:

… It is known that I have a good reputation among them [i.e., the Croatians and Slovenians], yet I was not able to send more than 200 Croatians and Slovenians among the 3,000 volunteers I recruited. This small number is negligible. When one takes into consideration that there are three or four times more Croatians and Slovenians than Serbs, then it means I should have sent a minimum of 10,000. If this situation remains as it is, the volunteers’ engagement will result in the same situation as ended the one in Russia; today this result with the Croatians and Slovenians is already disgracing us, for it shows quite evidently that they are not with us in the movement.75

A similar report was also sent to Ljuba Mihailović, the Serbian Ambassador in Washington. In the report it was stated that the military mission of Milan Pribićević “was only restricted to the Serbian milieu,” while “the Croato-Slovenian element remained indifferent and a large part also inimical.”76 Milenko Vesnić, the Serbian Ambassador in Paris for many years (1904-1921 commented later on this Serbian failure in North America:

Our Yugoslav question in America — until the coming of the Serbian mission there — remained much worse than we thought in Europe. Except for the Serbs, whose patriotism remains undoubted, our other two peoples [i.e., the Croatians and the Slovenians] hold themselves in great reserve, … The Croatian and Slovenian priests, with the exception of several shining examples, were until recently opposed to this new [i.e., the Yugoslav] movement. [It is a pity that] at the very head of the Yugoslav movement in the United States there is no consensus; it can be said that we encountered an open split there.77

On the part of the Committee in London, there was no serious attempt at mobilizing the volunteers in North America. On 24 January 1915, Frank Potočnjak, a member of the Committee in London, arrived in New York, accompanied by Luka Smodlaka, a student at Oxford. The purpose of this trip was to acquire from the Croatian emigrants the necessary approval for the Yugoslav Committee to lead the liberation of the Southern Slavs from the Dual Monarchy, to work out their union with Serbia, and to gather funds.78 However, it was hard to accomplish these tasks, because in no other region of the world were Serbs and Croatians less ready for that union than in the United States.79

According to Paulova’s information, at that time around 90,000 Serbs from Croatian regions lived in the U.S. — but only a few thousand were from Serbia. Some 200,000 Slovenians and about 400,000 Croatians also resided in the States, and approximately 20,000 lived in Canada.

Almost all of these emigrants were working — some were coal miners, some businessmen, hostlers, and a small number of farmers…. Most… were without any political sense: their national consciousness was not developed; [general] education was low…. some colonies were 90% Austrophile….80

Commenting on the political conditions among the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians in North America, Potočnjak concluded:

In one word… our situation in America was a living reflection of the conditions in the old countries…. Among the Croatians some understood the Yugoslav idea, but these were rare; among the Slovenians they were almost non-existent, while among the Serbs, there were none. The Serbian element was educated with a Serbian national sense and was conscious [of the political situation]; they well knew their duty towards Serbian nationhood and Serbia itself, and would not budge an inch further from that. They [i.e., the Serbian element] listened with pleasure to the national union and expansion towards Croatian or Slovenian nationhood, but for them this meant à tout prix and exclusively Serbian nationhood, which they eo ipso identified with a powerful Greater Serbia.81

In Croatia, comparing the idea of “union and unity” of the Southern Slavs with Serbia to the one in America, Potočnjak stated:

Neither here [i.e., in Croatia] nor there [i.e., in America] did the full and strong idea of union and unity govern, neither here nor there did [people] think or yearn for the creation of this and such a state [i.e., Yugoslavia] … Yet, there was something…: devotion and loyalty towards the Habsburg dynasty and the Monarchy, as well as a readiness for any sacrifice for them.82 (Emphasis added).

These are the main reasons for the failure of the Serbian military mission to recruit volunteers amongst the Croatians and Slovenians in North America, not the economic factor, as Dragoslav Janković wants us to believe:

However, the main reason [for the failure of the Serbian military mission in North America, G.G. ] it seems was the one of which the Serbian consul-general in New York M[ihailo] J. Pupin [1857-1934] informed [Nikola] Pašić (22 September 1916): “Today the Yugoslavs in America [are] so prosperous economically that [only] a small number [of them] would leave a permanent job in America which is well paid today and go to the Balkans to fight there,” Dragoslav Janković said.83

The experience of disillusioned volunteers may also have discouraged potential volunteers. For example, early in the war, a large group of Montenegrins left the U.S. for Serbia to fight. But they were deeply disappointed, both with the rude and primitive Serbian officers who treated them in the same way as those in Odessa did the Croatian and the Slovenian volunteers, and with the conduct of Serbian foreign policy. So they demanded to return to the United States of America after Serbia’s defeat. Janković also noted this:

Many of the volunteers who served in the Serbian army, came to [Pašić] with complaints that their superiors cudgeled them, boxed them on the ears, cursed, and insulted them. For this reason some of them wished to return to [the United States of] America, where they even wrote to their acquaintances discouraging them from coming here.84

It seems most probable that the main reason for the failure of the Serbian military mission to recruit volunteers among the Croatians and Slovenians in North America was the existence of a political division between the immigrants and an actual antagonism between the Croatians, on the one hand, and the Serbs, on the other.

Milan Pribićević, to a certain extent in agreement with the republican idea, and personally popular and agile, was quite successful in his military mission amongst the Serbs in North America. But amongst the Croatians and Slovenians his mission was a total fiasco, so that in the end, he requested to be discharged from his obligation.

It was thus due largely to the attitude of the Serbian Government that the question and formation of the Yugoslav Legion never materialized in the sense that the Committee had envisaged, even though conditions favored such a venture. Mandić reported that 100,000 to 120,000 soldiers, mostly volunteers, had surrendered to the Russians. All were Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbs from the Dual Monarchy.85 Therefore, the political capital that the Committee had wanted to acquire to strengthen its standing with the Entente — as the Czechs had done was lost. In addition, the military significance that the Legion would have had, if deployed to liberate Croatia and Slovenia, was permanently lost. But this was exactly what official Serbia wanted: Not to permit that the Yugoslav Committee in London become an independent and important political factor, supported by a military force while negotiations to resolve the Croatian Question were underway. The Serbian Government succeeded completely in its goals of isolating the Yugoslav Committee. Only after it had done so did it form the Yugoslav Legion.

Following the events of the spring of 1917 in Odessa, all the discontented “Croatian federalists” left Odessa. Those South Slavs who remained were more or less devoted to the idea of a Greater Serbia. When these volunteers reached Salonica, Regent Alexander, with his decree of 29 December 1917, officially formed the Yugoslav Division (Jugoslavenska Divizija), dissolving the Vardar Division, whose men were transferred to other divisions while its military material was taken over by the new division.

In this way the wearisome question of the creation of the Legion that the Committee wanted to form at the beginning of 1915 was finally resolved.

Statistical data on the number of volunteers is contradictory and was hidden by Serbia. But it seems that the proportion of volunteers in the Serbian Army was about the same as when action began on the Salonica front on 14 September 1918. The report transmitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 30/17 September 1918 to the Minister of War, General Rašić, put the total number of volunteers at 20,947.86

But, if we take into consideration the fact that the Serbian Army on the Salonica front numbered a maximum of 55.000 officers and soldiers, and that included, besides the Montenegrin and other volunteers from America, the men from the “Volunteer Corps of the Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians” from Russia, which consisted of 19,472 soldiers and 779 officers on 30 May 1917, and to which were added until 1 August 1917 2,008 more soldiers and 112 officers, [we] could rightly affirm that the liberation of the whole [Southern Slavic] territory, as well as of Serbia proper, was effected with the aid of the Allies.87

These figures were later confirmed by Serbian Duke [Vojvoda], Živojin Mišić (1855-1921). Svetozar Pribićević (1875-1936), after his disappointment with Belgrade, and the Karadjordjević dynasty, declared on 23 January 1928 in a public meeting in Zagreb that:

According to the information of the Serbian headquarters given to me by Duke [Vojvoda] Mišić, there were on the Salonica front 28,000 Yugoslav volunteers, a number equal to the number of Serbian soldiers; [while] the total amount of our military power consisted of one fifth of the total power on the Salonica front. And should there be a decision in Belgrade about Kajmakčalan it is a necessary to know that the Kajmakčalan-[victory] [is] as much ours as it is theirs.88

This statement brought strong protests from Belgrade as well as in the Serbian press. Regarding this problem, Ljubo Leontić said:

From the emigrant colonies and war prisoners’ camp, there were probably a total of fifty thousand Yugoslav volunteers in World War I. (The Volunteers Corps of the SHS [Serbs, Croatians, Slovenians] in Russia alone numbered ca. 42,000 fighters). Their number would probably have been] increased until a whole army of a minimum of one hundred thousand first-class fighters [would have been assembled], if human reason and the feelings of the Austro-Hungarian prisoners and Yugoslav volunteers had been respected. [However], the Greater Serbian officers forced the assembled volunteers into dissidence [through] brutal treatment and the obligation of an oath to the [Serbian] king, while they integrated the Yugoslav volunteers from the emigrant colonies into the Serbian troops in the same way [as the volunteers from Russia]. From all the prečani89 (without any differentiation between them) they wanted to conceal the number and, for political reason, they decreased the precise ratio and also for the main reason that the regular [Serbian] army with its reserves [being active] in continuous battle (and [through] disease after the retreat across the narrow Albanian passes) was reduced to some twenty thousand “effective guns.”90

At the same time, Leontić stated:

M. Vesnić, chief of the diplomatic-military mission of the Kingdom of Serbia, affirmed before the Executive Committee of the JNV [Yugoslav National Council] in Washington, that the Serbian Army was reduced to nineteen thousand fighters. With my own ears I heard this declaration of his.91

Although the Yugoslav Division was formed at the end from those elements which remained in the Corps after the dissidents had left, even those elements more or less faithful to Serbia were prevented from returning to their liberated homeland as victors.

…in accordance with the plan of the [Serbian] Supreme command… [the Yugoslav regiments] were only permitted to enter through Albania ‒ through the “back-door” ‒ Montenegro and Boka [Kotorska], where they were retained as long as possible. Also, owing to unscrupulous treatment [during] demobilization, they were almost completely blocked from influencing political events immediately after the war.92

IV. THE CROATIAN VOLUNTEERS IN ITALY

Apart from the volunteers in Russia and those in South and North America, there were also thousands of Croatians in Italy who were ready to defend Croatian national interests. These had deserted from their units on the Isonzo (Soča) front toward the end of the war and had surrendered to the Italians. Until then, they had fought against the Italians to defend Croatia’s frontiers and the Dual Monarchy.

In order to comprehend this apparent change of heart on their part, it is necessary to understand the situation in 1917 and 1918. During 1917, there were drastic changes in the field of international diplomacy. With the coming to power of the Bolsheviks in Russia, the situation was transformed not only with regard to the governmental form and regime in the country, but also in the attitude towards its Allies. Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks did not wish to continue the war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On 28 November 1917, Lenin sent a note to all governments engaged in the war, asking them to stop the war and to begin negotiations for a “peace without annexation and indemnities on the basis of self-determination of peoples.”93 (Emphasis added.)

Germany and Austria-Hungary responded to this note, and on 22 December started negotiations at Brest-Litovsk.

In England and France, the opinion prevailed that the old Habsburg Monarchy should be preserved, even if in a smaller size, because of the European balance of power. It was simply necessary to reorganize it. Moreover, British and French policymakers saw Austria in the postwar period as a rampart against both German and Russian expansion in this region of the world, because their main enemy was Germany. Only Italy saw Austria-Hungary as its main enemy, as it sought to complete its national unification, secure its predominance on the Adriatic Sea, and prevent Slav expansion.94

The maximum Entente objective in regard to the Habsburg Monarchy was therefore its territorial weakening, not its destruction. At this point Italian diplomacy wished “to organize a bloc of anti-Slavic states from the territorially weakened and reorganized Habsburg Monarchy…[and] the Hungarians and Rumanians.”95 Such a bloc would, in an alliance with Italy, keep the Balkans under control and facilitate Italy’s penetration of these territories. Italy could then build a rampart against further Russian expansion towards the Mediterranean Sea. Since France and England considered Germany as their main enemy, the separation of Austria-Hungary from Germany was the main aim of the Entente’s diplomacy. The young Emperor and King, Karl I, who ascended to the throne after the death of Franz Joseph on 21 November 1916, sent a secret mission to the Entente Powers using the Prince of Parma, and his wife’s brother, Sixtus Bourbon. Unfortunately, his mission was unsuccessful.

Another attempt at a separate peace with Austria-Hungary was made by General Jan Smuts, a member of the British Imperial War Cabinet, and Count Albert Mensdorff-Pouilly, the ex-Austrian Ambassador in London. The talks were held on 18 and 19 December 1917 in Geneva, on the initiative of Count Czernin, the Austrian Foreign Minister. General Smuts informed Mensdorff that Great Britain had decided to destroy Prussian militarism, but that it wished to preserve Austria-Hungary under the condition that the Monarchy separate itself from Germany and be reorganized into a federalist state which would give to its people the widest autonomy. After explaining his conception of the League of Nations and of the British Empire’s destiny as a Commonwealth of Nations, Smuts said to Mensdorff that a similar destiny awaited the Austro-Hungarian Empire, once it broke free from German domination.

The best way to strengthen the bonds of sympathy between the British and Austro-Hungarian people was to liberalize as much as possible the local institutions in Austria-Hungary. We had no intention of interfering with her internal affairs, but we recognized that if Austria could become a really liberal Empire in which her subject peoples would, as far as possible, be satisfied and content, she would become for Central Europe very much what the British Empire had become for the rest of the world. She would become a League of Free Nations, very largely free from the taint of militarism, and she would have a mission in the future even greater than her mission in the past.96

Mensdorff excluded the possibility of a separate peace-treaty for Austria-Hungary, but — according to the Serbian Ambassador, Slavko
Grujić, in his dispatch of 3 November 1917 to Pašić — Mensdorff said “that, in order to strengthen the positions of the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count O. Czernin, in his negotiations with Berlin, Great Britain should clearly declare its war-aims, including its benevolent attitude towards the Dual Monarchy.”97 However, Mensdorff missed this “God-given” opportunity to conclude a separate peace-treaty between the Allies and Austria-Hungary.

The Entente gave Austria-Hungary a third — and final — opportunity in early January 1918. Great Britain and the United States publicly declared and guaranteed that their war-aims were not the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, but were only intended to secure considerable autonomies for their peoples. These declarations were made in the well-known speech of Lloyd-George (on 5 January 1918) and Wilson’s address a few days later to the U.S. Congress (on 8 January), where the latter outlined his Program for World Peace in the famous Fourteen Points.

In his address, Lloyd George said:

The division of Austria-Hungary is not our war-aim [but] we consider that it is impossible to eliminate the cause of trouble in this part of Europe, … until real autonomy, on evident democratic principles, is given to those Austro-Hungarian nations, for which they have been striving for a long time….98

A similar guarantee was also given to Austria-Hungary through the Fourteen Points. Points ten and eleven, dealing with the destiny of the Southern Slavic people in the Monarchy, declared that:

X: The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.

XI: Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories [by the Central Forces] restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be established.99

The declarations by Lloyd-George and Wilson were of great political importance. In fact, the two Great Western Powers, namely Great Britain and the U.S.A., did not accept the principle of self-determination for the peoples, but did accept the federalist principle. Through this attitude, America, as the strongest power, deeply involved itself with the question of the form of the solution of the South Slav question.

There is no doubt that America took this attitude primarily because of strategic reasons: to facilitate the conclusion of a separate peace treaty with Austria-Hungary was to weaken Germany. American military experts also thought it better not to declare war on Austria-Hungary, since doing so would diffuse their military power across the European continent. They preferred to concentrate on Germany, because “Germany was the enemy. It had to be crushed first; all the rest will follow….”100

Besides these two reasons for the American approach to the Monarchy, there was, in ultima linea, also an economic reason. The leading
financial American circles considered Austria-Hungary an economic unity best left whole.101

There was one further political-strategic reason to seek a separate peace with Vienna — to prevent Russia ‘s further expansion towards the Mediterranean Sea. This reason was later pushed aside after the unsuccessful attempts at a separate peace-treaty with Austria-Hungary as more immediate strategic interests took priority. In our opinion, this was a cardinal and catastrophic mistake of World War I so far as its short-term and long-term consequences were concerned. Instead of restructuring the old Monarchy as a (con)federal state of equal parts, it was dismembered and the fragments were later easy prey for Hitler’s Germany and, after his defeat, for the Soviet Union, which occupied areas of the former Habsburg empire after 1945.

For many months, Entente diplomacy tried to separate Austria-Hungary from Germany and to conclude a separate peace. When all hopes were lost, as well as that of finishing the war in the near future, no other alternative remained to the Entente Powers other than that of accepting the idea of Henry Wickham Steed, the foreign editor of the London Times, that it was necessary to destroy Austria-Hungary.

Steed believed that the German-Austrian power block could be destroyed not through separation of the one from the other, but only through the destruction of Austria. An instrument to this end was the unsolved nationality question in the Dual Monarchy, particularly the Croatian Question, or the South Slav Question, as it was known. So Entente diplomacy sought to exploit the concept of self-determination. But it was a concept that proved itself to be extremely powerful and “explosive,” all the more so because the Dual Monarchy had surrendered its freedom to act to Germany and could no longer take independent decisions. Under these conditions, internal dissatisfaction led to demoralization on the Italian front, which rapidly deteriorated. Not only individual soldiers, but whole units rallied to the Italian side and in about six months, Austria-Hungary founded itself totally ruined. This process of internal decay was the reason why suddenly tens of thousands of Croatian soldiers surrendered during the last months of the War.

Ivan Meštrović was an eye-witness to these events, and his lucid account of the problem of the Croatian volunteers is of particular interest:

Many of our prisoners-of-war were in Italy. There were thousands of applications at the Serbian legation, requesting permission to join the volunteers and during the Congress — [held in Rome in April 1918] — and right after it there were more than twenty thousand [additional] soldiers and officers who registered themselves as volunteers…. Our prisoners of war, as well as we ourselves [the members of the Yugoslav Committee in London], requested that they may join the Salonica front, or create a specific Yugoslav unit in Italy, which would be led by our officers.

The Serbian Government wished them to go to the Salonica front, while the Italians were excusing themselves because of technical difficulties…. On the very day of Vidovdan [28 June], we, Trumbić and I, went to Nocera Umbra, where the officers of Yugoslav (sic!) nationality gathered, who demanded their separation from the Germans and the Hungarians. There were somewhat more than two hundred officers, of which one hundred and eighty declared themselves in a written form ready to go and fight against Austria. The soldiers, who declared themselves volunteers were about thirty thousand and said that there would be even more…. [Their head was a staff-officer], Colonel [Stanko] Turudija, who told us that he had not succeeded, in two attempts, in surrendering to the Italians with his soldiers…102

Apparently, the troops increasingly saw the Dual Monarchy as captive to Germany. Here is how Colonel Turudija explained it to Ivan Meštrović:

We were fighting like lions with the conviction that we were fighting for our land and (our Croatian) people, as you were fighting over there, and I would rather commit suicide than surrender to the Italians. Then, as a rumour started that the Emperor tried to make a (separate) treaty with the Entente (but without success, G.G.), they sent us the Germans and, when we saw the Prussian helmets, we thought: There is no more Monarchy, Wilhelm (the German Kaiser) commands now. From that time on, I wished to surrender but did not succeed, for, whenever I tried to surrender, the Italians surrendered to us.103

Then Turadija said:

If the London Treaty (of 1915) is abolished, we will all come over to this side. I spoke with Borojević.104 He thinks as I do. He was trembling all over because of relentlessness for action – (says Meštrović) – like a hound which is tied and hears yelping. He was saying that he is thinking day and night about action, that he has a complete plan in his head by which all our regions would be liberated in one month.

The Allies do not need to give us a single soldier, only weapons, and transport us from Ancona to central Dalmatia. Where and how, I will tell them, for I know where every single cannon is located, how many of them there are and of which kind. If the Allies do that, in twenty days all the maritime and mountain regions will be in our hands and the Austrian fleet will come to our side; in one month (also) the Italian fleet will not exist.

(Meštrović noted that Turudija had) asserted this in a fanatic way, indicating with his finger on a map, explaining it in a soldier-like manner; I, of course, did not disguise the fact that I do not understand it.105

We have now dealt, to a certain extent, with the problem of Croatian volunteers in World War I, those in Russia and South America, as well as in Italy. We must still present a short introduction to the Interpellation on this subject. As we said at the beginning, we will later present some reflections which may serve as conclusions to this subject.

 

______________________________________________

 

1Interpellation (Lat. Interpellare), to interrupt the order of the day by demanding an explanation from the Minister concerned; to submit a written request to the concerned Minister regarding a particular subject. The author of this treatise published this Interpellation with an extensive introduction, in the Croatian weekly Danica (The Morning Star), Chicago, Illinois, from vol. 54, No. 40 (12 October 1984) through vol. 55, No. 28 (26 July 1985). The editor’s introduction was in vol. 54, No. 39 (5 Oct. 1984)

2Ante Trumbić was born on 17 May 1864 in the town of Split. He studied Law in Zagreb, Vienna, and Graz, then worked as a lawyer in Split. After joining the influential Party of Rights (Stranka prava), he was elected to the Dalmatian Diet. From the mid 1890s, Trumbié was active in the Dalmatian Diet. He was one of the main creators of a “new political course” and the Rijeka resolution (Riječka rezolucija). In 1908 he began to edit a daily newspaper, Velebit, at Split. During World War I he lived abroad and led the Yugoslav Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor) in London. After the war, when the state of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians was created, Trumbić became its Minister of Foreign Affairs. He participated in the Versailles Peace Conference and the negotiations with Italy over the “Adriatic Question”. Deeply disappointed with the political structure of the new state, after the proclamation of the Vidovdan Constitution in 1921, Trumbić left the government to work for a federalist restructuring of the state. He did not belong to any political party, but in 1924 Trumbić jointed the Croatian Association (Hrvatska zajednica) and in 1925 he worked with Stjepan Radić (1871-1928), the most prominent Croatian politician Of the time. In 1926, Trumbić created the Croatian Federalist Peasant Party (Hrvatska federalistička seljačka stranka), and the following year, he was elected to the Parliament. In 1928, after the assassination of Stjepan Radić and his colleagues in the Parliament in Belgrade, Trumbić collaborated with Radić’s Croatian Peasant Party (HSS, Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka) In 1932, Trumbić created a political program for the Peasant Democratic Coalition (Seljačka demokratska koalicija), the Zagreb Points (Zagrebačke punktacije). Trumbić was a decisive opponent of the Serbian unitarist-centralist policy implemented by the Yugoslav regime. He died on 17 November 1938. His last years were spent in poverty.

3The date of the Committee’s establishment and constitution is still a matter of controversy. Ljubo Leontić, a political émigré in Italy from the beginning of World War I, one of the most active leaders of the younger émigrés, and a founding member of the Committee, claimed that the Yugoslav Committee in London was already de facto established in November 1914, and then constituted de jure at the plenary session in Rome on January 24, 1915.” See Ljubo Leontić, O Jugoslavenskom Odboru u Londonu: Jugoslavenska Narodna Obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko Narodno Vijeće u Washingtonu. (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1961), p. 22.

4The other members were: Frano Supilo, Ivan Mešrović, Milan Marjanović, Jovo Banjanin, Milan Srškić, Dr. Bogumil Vošnjak, Dr. Gustav Gregorin, Dr. Hinko Hinković, Dr. Franko Potočnjak, Dr. Julije Gazzari, Dr. Dinko Trinajstić, Dr. Mića Mičić, Dr. Nikola Stojanović, Dušan Vasiljević, Niko Župančić, Ivo De Guilli, and Josip Jedlowski. Several months later Dr. Ante Mandić, Dr. Ante Biankini, Rev. Niko Gršković, Ćiro Kamenarović, Paško Baburica, Vjekoslav Mitrović, Franjo Petrinović, Mihailo Pupin, and Pavle Popović joined. See Franjo Tudjman, “Jugoslavenski odbor i stvaranje zajedničke države jugoslavenskih naroda” in Vaso Bogdanov and others, eds., Jugoslavenski Odbor u Londonu: O povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966) p. 396; and Milada Paulova, Jugoslavenski Odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914.-1918. (Zagreb: Prosvjetna Nakladna Zadruga, 1925), p. 73.

5In our opinion, the term South or Southern Slavs is misleading, given that we do not refer to Northern Slavs. We speak about Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks. The South Slavs include nations with their own distinct names, histories, national characters, and separate national awareness, e.g., Bulgarians, Croatians, Montenegrins, Slovenians, and Serbs. This term was a creation of the 19th century and is used in this study only for convenience and should be abandoned as both obsolete and inexact.

6Franko Potočnjak, Iz Emigracije, IV: U Rusiji (Zagreb: Tisak Narodnih Novina, 1926), p. 4.

7Potočnjak, Ibid., p. 88.

8The Treaty of London was signed 26 April 1915 by Italy, England, France, and Russia. It assigned Italy, as an inducement to leave the camp of the Central Powers and come over to that of the Entente, Istria, Gorica, Trieste, Northern Dalmatia to the outskirts of Trogir, and almost all of the islands from Krk to Korčula. Owing in part to the objections to it by the President of the United States, this pact was not taken into consideration at the Paris Peace Conference. The borders of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians were only fixed in a separate treaty with Italy, signed at Rapallo on 12 September 1920.

9Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 89, 102.

10Dragoslav Janković, “O odnosima Jugoslavenskog odbora sa srpskom vladom u 1916. godini,” Historijski zbornik, Zagreb, Vol. XXIX-XXX (1976-77), p. 456.

11Janković, op. cit., p. 456, Note 5.

12Ante Mandić: Fragmenti za historiju ujedinjenja. Povodom četrdeset godišnjice osnivanja Jugoslavenskog odbora (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1956) p. 40.

13Ljubo Leontić: “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska narodna obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu,” Starine, Knjiga 50 (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), p. 25.

14DASIP; MID; PO [Diplomatski arhiv Državnog sekretarijata za inostrane poslove; Ministarstvo inostranih dela Srbije; Političko odelenje. Diplomatic Archives of the State Secretariat for Foreign Affairs; The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Serbia; Political Division]. 1916, f.[fascicule] IX, d. [dossier] VI. Srpske novine. (The Serbian Newspaper) No. 14, 10. 5. 1916, Pregled strane štampe, Pisanje ruskih novina, Ruskoe slovo, Reč, Birževye Vedomosti. Cited by D. Janković, p. 461.

15DASIP, MID, PO, 1916, f. IX, d. VI, Letters of 24.4.1916 and 27.4.1917 from Ristić in Rome to the (Serbian) Government on Corfu and to Pašić in Petersburg. Cited by D. Janković, Ibid., p. 461. See also Pašić’s declaration to Renzo Larco, Corriere della Sera, 9 May 1916. Cited by Mandić: Op. Cit., pp. 222-223, Document No. 149, Petersburg, 6/5, 23 April 1916.

16Edward Viscount of Falladon Grey (1862-1934) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain (1905-1916), leader of the Liberals and an opponent of Lloyd George, succeeded in entering into an agreement with Russia. In 1904 Great Britain and France came to an agreement regarding the colonial question in Northern Africa and from it developed a political Alliance (Entente), which received a semi-official name Entente cordiale (Germ. Herzliches Einverständnis, Croatian Srdačni savez. From this Alliance there developed (1907) the Tripleentente (Dreiverband, Trojni savez) between Great Britain, France and Russia, which remained in force during World War I. The smaller Powers later joined the “Tripleentente”, also known as Alliés et associés (Saveznici i Pridruženi). A general term was Entente Powers (Sile Antante) which defeated the Central Powers composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy (which during the war joined the Entente Powers for the price of the Croatian territories and colonial compensation, stipulated in the London Treaty 1915) and some other smaller Powers.

17Janković, op. cit., p. 463, Note 29.

18Ibid., p. 462, note 28, for Vesnić’s telegram from Paris to the Serbian Government on Corfu of 18. l. 1916.

19Mandić, op. cit., 40.

20Ibid., p. 40.

21Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 3.

22Ibid., p. 2.

23Mandić, op. cit., p. 43.

24Ibid., p. 43.

25Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 104.

26Mandić, op. cit., p. 44

27Marko Marković, “Udeo dobrovoljaca u oslobodilačkom ratu,” Misel in Delo, Kulturna in Socijalna revija. (Ljubljana, 1938) No. 12, pp. 68-80.

28Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 108.

29Ibid., p. 104.

30Ibid., p. 105.

31Ibid., p. 1 10.

32Marko Cemović: Domovina, Zagreb, 1 January 1920. Cited by Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 110.

33Potočnjak, op. cit., 110.

34Ibid., p. 111.

35Ibid.

36Mandić, Fragmenti, p. 46.

37Mandić, op. cit., pp. 206-213. Document No. 141: “Mandić Odboru o situaciji i o radu u Rusiji” (Mandić to the Committee about the situation and work in Russia). (Petrograd [Petersburg], 30/17 October 1915). AJO-JAZU (Arhiv Jugoslavenskog Odbora Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti. The Archives of the Yugoslav Committee, Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art), fascicle 84-I- Dr. Mandić.

38Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 7.

39Ibid., p. 9.

40Ibid.

41Ibid., p. 14.

42A Croatian politician of Jewish background, Dr. Josip Frank was born in Osijek, Croatia, in 1844 and died in Zagreb in 1911. Frank collaborated closely with Ante Starčević (1823-1896), founder of the influential Party of Rights (Stranka prava), which sought an independent Croatia within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy — a form of trialism, dividing the Monarchy into Austro-German, Hungarian, and Croatian areas. A close collaborator of Ante Starčević was Eugen Kvaternik (1825-1871), co-founder of the Party of Rights. After the death of Starčević, the Party of Rights split into two factions: the Croatian Party of Rights (Hrvatska stranka prava) led by Josip Frank, known as “Frankovci” (Frankists); and Starčević’s Party of Rights (Starčevićeva stranka prava) led by Mile Starčević, a nephew of Dr. Ante Starčević; it was therefore also known as “Milinovci” (The Followers of Mile [Starčević]).

43Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 7-8, 20.

44Mandić, op. cit., p. 48.

45Milada Paulova, Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskoga rata od 1914.-1918. (Zagreb: Prosvjetna nakladna zadruga, [1925], pp. 249-250).

46Paulova, op. cit., p. 253.

47Mandić, op. cit., p. 48.

48Ibid., p. 233.Doc. 155 (pp. 231-237), AJO, Fasc. 84 -1- Mandić. Original. (“Supplement to Mandić’s letter to Hinković about Volunteers.” [Petrograd?] 18/5 November 1916).

49Mandić, op. cit., p. 46.

50Paulova, op. cit., p. 254.

51Ibid.

52Ibid., p. 255.

53Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 34-35.

54Ibid., p. 39.

55Ivan Meštrović, Uspomene na političke ljude i dogadjaje. (Buenos Aires: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1961), p. 70.

56Paulova, op. cit., pp. 318-319.

57From the Declaration of the Croatian and Slovenian Officers of the Volunteer corps. (Odessa, March 1917) See Mandić, op. cit., pp. 238-239, Doc. 158, AJO, Fasc. 8, Jugoslavenski odbor in Russia.

58Mandić, op. cit., pp. 239-240, Doc. 159, Slovenski Jug, Odessa, 1 June/19 May 1917, No. 17. (Italics in original)

59Paulova, op. cit., pp. 320-321.

<sup60Marković, op. cit., p. 77.

61Paulova, op. cit., p. 238.

62Ibid., p. 241.

63Ibid., p. 256.

64Ibid., p. 233.

65Zorka Stefanović-Djačić, “O ulozi naših iseljenika u Južnoj Americi za vrijeme Prvog svjetskog rata,” in Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. Editor, Vaso Bogdanov. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), p. 533.

66Paulova, op. cit., pp. 259-260.

67Paulova, op. cit., p. 260. (emphasis in the original)

68Ibid., p. 231.

69Ibid.

70Paulova, op. cit., p. 269; Paulova also gives the minutes as well as a larger part of Trumbić’s letter: pp. 264-270.

71Ibid., p. 263.

72Ibid., p. 271.

73Cited by M. Paulova, Ibid., p. 272.

74Paulova, Ibid., p. 271.

75Gradja o stvaranju jugoslavenske države (1.I – 20.XII.1918), (ed., Dragoslav Janković and Bogdan Krizman) (Belgrade, 1964) 2 vols. Vol. I, p. 85, Doc. 66: M. Pribićević to M. Rašić,. New York, 5. II.[February] 1918.

76Gradja, op. cit., p. 129, Doc. 101, Vol. I, Mihailović to Pašić, Washington, 14/1 March 1918.

77Ibid, pp. 136-7, Doc. 107, Vol. I, Vesnić to Pašić. Paris, 20/7 March 1918.

78This journey was financed by the Serbian Government with 5,000 liras – the minimum that could cover his basic expenses. See Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 25.

79Paulova, op. cit., p. 66.

80Ibid, pp. 66-67.

81Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 34-35.

82Ibid., pp. 35-36.

83Janković, op. cit., p. 459.

84Ibid., p. 459, note 12, Diplomatski arhiv Državnog sekretarijata za inostrane poslove (Diplomatic Archives of the State’s Secretariat for Foreign Affairs) and Političko odelenje (Political Division), 1916, f. IV., d. 1.: Pašić 27.I.1916.

85Mandić, op. cit., pp. 217-218.

86Gradja, op. cit., p. 337, Doc. 267, note 2, Vol. I.

87Mandić, op. cit., p. 74, note 26.

88The Salonica front extended from the Adriatic to the Ionian Sea, about 500 km. wide. The Allies’ Operative Forces counted 600,000 soldiers on the whole front against about the same number of soldiers of the Central Forces. The battle began on 14 September 1918 at 8 o’clock in the morning. Of particular importance was the peak of the mountain Kajmakčalan (2,521 m. above sea level) as the main defense point of the Bulgarian forces. See Svetozar Pribićević: Diktatura kralja Aleksandra. (Beograd, 1952) p. 64, cited by A. Mandić, op. cit., p. 74, note 26.

89The term prečani refers to the Serbs in Croatian areas, i.e., on the other side of the Drina River, which was seen as dividing the Occidental and Oriental civilizations and thus marking the historical boundary between Croatia and Serbia.

90See Ljubo Leontić, “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska narodna obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu,” in Starine, Book 50 (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), p. 79.

91Ibid., note 85. (Emphasis in the original).

92Leontić, op. cit., p. 80.

93Victor S. Mamatey: The United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918; A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 96.

94Dragovan Šepić: “Politika rušenja Austro-Ugarske i Južni Slaveni,” in Vasa Čubrilović, et al., Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godišnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja jugoslavenske države, Zagreb, 27-28. prosinca 1968. godine. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), p. 112.

95Ibid., pp. 112-113.

96W. K. Hancock, Smuts; the Sanguine Years, 1870-1919. (Cambridge: University Press, 1962), Vol. I, p. 467; see also: David Lloyd-George, War Memoirs (Boston: Little Brown, 1936), Vol. 5, pp. [19]-36, and Vol. 4, pp. [218]-261.

97Notes, Ante Trumbić, London, 8. I. 1918, in Gradja, op. cit., p. 20, Doc. 8, note 5, Vol. I; see also Hancock, Smuts, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 466-468.

98Gradja, op. cit., p. 14, Doc.2, Vol. I.

99Robert J. Wexler, ed., Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924; Chronolou, Documents, Bibliographical Aids. (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1969), p. 92.

100Mamatey, op. cit., p. 74.

101Milorad Ekmečić, “Stavovi Nikole Pašića prema američkim planovima pretvaranja Austro-Ugarske u federativnu državu,” in Naučni skup, op. cit., p. 161.

102Meštrović, Uspomene, op. cit., p. 109.

103Ibid., p. 110.

104Svetozar von Borojević (1856-1920), a Croatian of the Orthodox faith from the Lika region, was the supreme Austro-Hungarian commander on the Carpathians (1914-1915) and on the Italian front (1915-1918).

105Meštrović: op.cit. p.110 (Emphasis added).

JE LI ISTINA da američki Hrvati nijesu učinili ništa za svoju staru domovinu Hrvatsku? – Predavanje: Ivan Krešić, 1934

Odnosi domovine Hrvata i iseljene Hrvatske
“Iseljena Hrvatska, na tisuće milja daleko od rodjene grude, u tudjemu svijetu, uza sve, što je braća na domu zaboravila, i uza sve to, što je gospoda političari smetali, varali, razočarali — ta Iseljena Hrvatska u Sjevernoj Americi nije nikada zaboravila stare domovine Hrvata, te je po svojoj mogućnosti i svojim prilikama radila i uradila mnogo za tu svoju dragu domovinu. I spremna je uvijek da i dalje radi, da se i dalje žrtvuje.”
Ivan Krešić, New York, 1934.

JE LI ISTINA
da američki Hrvati nijesu učinili ništa za svoju staru domovinu Hrvatsku?
(Predavanje, što ga je održao Ivan Krešić na redovnoj 73. sjednici Kola HSK “Eugen Kvaternik” u New Yorku, N.Y. dana 15. srpnja 1934.)

_________

“Strahovali smo: što će biti od nas bez kompasa naših prirodnih glavara? (Strossmayera i Starčevića.) Ali strah nas prevari, jer ono, što bijaše u njima najbolje — ljubav za narod i vjeru u slobodu . . . čuvaju naše osirotjele kolibe, što živu od amerikanskih muka”.
​August Matoš.
“Imali smo gospodu, koja su gradila Veliku Hrvatsku, a hrvatski narod u Ameriku tjerali”.
Stjepan Radić.

Ove rečenice dvojice Hrvata, kojima je za sva vremena osigurano mjesto i na stranicama hrvatske povjesnice i u srcima hrvatskog naroda, naveo sam na čelu svog predavanja naročito da istaknem ovo:
​Prije svjetskoga rata napisale su se u domovini Hrvata čitave hrpe hrvatskih knjiga, čitava brda hrvatskih novina i časopisa, vodila se mahom gospodska politika, s godine u godinu stvarale se stranke i strančice, svako malo pisali se novi programi, — dok je jedna jaka, svježa, zelena grana te domovine svih Hrvata muku mučila u tudjem svijetu, u iseljeništvu, u ovoj našoj Sjevernoj Americi.
​Javili su se ti hrvatski iseljenici na ovim ovdje stranama — recimo, da budemo sigurni — pred svojih 60 godina, i ako imademo dokaza, da su amo dolazili još i ranije.
​I kroz svih tih, recimo, 60 godina, sve do svršetka velikog rata, u svim onim hrpama hrvatskih knjiga, u svim onim brdima hrvatskih novina i časopisa, u onoj “visokoj” gospodskoj hrvatskoj politici, u onim bezbrojnim hrvatskim strankama i programima, jedva da ćete igdje naći vrijedna spomena o tisućama i tisućama hrvatske djece, koja morala u tudji svije — preko velike lokve — trbuhom za kruhom.
​”Gradili Veliku Hrvatsku” — rekao je Stjepan Radić godine 1917. — “a narod hrvatski u Ameriku tjerali!”
​Tjerali i — zaboravili!
​A taj iz domovine protjerani hrvatski narod — kako to prije toga, g. 1906. napisao August Matoš — svojim znojem podržavao i hranio hrvatske opustjele kolibe: “one, što živjele od amerikanske muke”, od muke naših amerikanskih iseljenika . . . .
​I tako, posvema zaboravljeni od domovine, posve prepušteni samima sebi, a u 99 postotaka došli iza pluga, motike i vesla u tudju daleku zemlju, medju strane ljude stranoga jezika, stranih običaja, stranoga života — hrvatski siromašni iseljenik u Sjevernoj Americi našao se odjednom kao da iz neba pao — bez prijatelja, bez savjetnika, posvema, isključivo oslonjen na svoje jake mišice, na svoju zdravu pamet.
​Možemo li mi danas pravo zamisliti, pravedno ocijeniti to stanje, taj položaj sirote hrvatskog iseljenika u ovim stranama?
​”Sirotinja, što ošla trbuhom za kruhom preko oceana!”
​Ove sam teške riječi čitao pred više od dvadesetak godina u jednom našem starokrajskom listu, a te riječi, u glavnome, označuju mišljenje 99 postotaka naše starokrajske gospode — političara, pisaca, novinara, bankara — o iseljenim Hrvatima, označuju njihovo mišljenje, pa dosljedno i njihovo ravnanje prema nama.
​Sirotinja, koja je i nebu teška — tko da o njoj računa vodi? Dolazi u račun tek onda, kad i magarac, kojega na pir zovu samo i jedino, kada treba da drva nosi!
​Ovom toli zgodnom narodnom hrvatskom rečenicom tako se vjerno osvjetlava odnošaj naše starokrajske gospode prema nama iseljenicima: Magarac, pir i — drva!
​Bez straha, da će me itko pobiti, iznosim ovu tvrdnju, spreman da je krvavim dokazima iz povijesti odnosa stare domovine prema Iseljenoj Hrvatskoj i dokažem. I to od prvih početaka do dana današnjega!
​Međutim, ta posvema samoj sebi prepuštena, od domovine čisto zaboravljena, pa prezrena “prekoceanska sirotinja, što ošla trbuhom za kruhom” — oslonjena, kako rekoh, isključivo na svoje mišice i svoju glavu, nije utonula u ovom velikom tudjem moru, nije se pretopila u ovom u povijesti još nevidjenom američkom strahovitom kotlu, koji sve tali i pretapa; ostala je, održala se je živa i zdrava — pa je August Matoš godine 1906. ustvrdio živu istinu, kad napisao, da od “amerikanske muke” živu osirotjele hrvatske kolibice, koje čuvaju ono najbolje — ljubav za narod i vjeru u slobodu . . . .
​I samo već radi te muke, koja se nikada pravo ocijeniti ne će, teška, krvava je pljuska, kad se — pa ne znam, u čije ime bilo! — dolazi pred toga hrvatskog iseljenika, pa mu se onako s nokta u brk dobacuje:
​Nijesi za Hrvatsku svoju učinio ništa!
​Krvava pljuska, koja valjda ipak ne će baš toliko zaboljeti, a samo zato ne će, jer — nije prava! Američki Hrvat već priviknuo takvim kruškama od svoje starokrajske gospode. Ali ipak boli, svejedno boli. I američki je Hrvat nikada zaboraviti ne će!
​Rekoh: — I ako posvema zaboravljena od stare domovine i prepuštena u tudjemu svijetu sama sebi, Iseljena Hrvatska u Sjedinjenim Državama nije se izgubila, nije utonula u moru tudjinstva. Dapače, sve obrnuto:
​Taj hrvatski iseljenik sam, posve sam, bez ikakve pomoći iz stare svoje domovine, stvara ovdje sebi društva, podiže crkve i škole, pokreće novine i svaki put, kad misli, da ga treba njegova stara domovina Hrvatska, odazivlje se svim srcem, svom dušom svojom, koja je i u tudjini ostala hrvatska. A — posebno zarezujem — odazivlje se američki Hrvat iz čiste ljubavi, bez i trunka sebičnosti i računa.
​Prenesite se duhom u teške one dane pred svojih četerdeset godina, u one dane, kada pada prvi zarodak današnje velike i jake Hrvatske Bratske Zajednice, najveće organizacije Hrvata na svijetu, organizacije, kakve starokrajska gospoda ni danas još nijesu mogla da stvore — prenesite se duhom u one dane, prolistatje stranice toga rada, pregaranja, žrtvi, ljubavi istinske, svijesti prave i žive, koja je pred više od 40 godina prožimala hrvatskog iseljenika u ovim stranama; prolistajte te stranice, ispisane žuljavom rukom sirotinje hrvatske u dalekom tudjem svijetu . . . . I na tim stranicama povijesti naše Iseljene Hrvatske naći ćete doduše i pogrešaka, i zala — ta, Bože moj, što je taj sirotan, dok na domu bio, naučio od svoje školovane gospode? Što?! Kako ga domovina u strani svijet otpremila? Što je na domu naučio, što čitao, koji i kakove dobre primjere vidio?!
​Pred gospodskim kaputom na deset koračaja smjerno kapu skidao — — —
​Pa ipak, i takav, kakav je bio, kad se našao u tudjemu svijetu, koji mu davao bar tu slobodu, da za sebe i svoju brigu vodi, da se udružuje, da slobodno svojim jezikom govori i njim se u svojoj hrvatskoj crkvi Bogu moli — taj i takav hrvatski iseljenik našao je u sebi i dovoljno snage i dovoljno pameti, da se održi, da se organizuje, da u najtežim prilikama sačuva živu svoju hrvatsku svijest, pa da je u nebrojenim prilikama djelom, živim djelom posvjedoči.
​I da taj hrvatski iseljenik nije stvorio ništa drugo, nego samo svoju Hrvatsku Bratsku Zajednicu, imao bi potpuno pravo da ponosno kaže na nju kao na lijep, divan plod svoga zamjernoga rada i svoje žive svijesti.
​I od te njegove Zajednice već svojih 40 godina koristili su se i svejednako se i danas koriste, izravno ili neizravno, i ona naša starokrajska gospoda, koja su znala i znadu i danas još dobaciti američkim Hrvatima:
​— Za Hrvatsku nijeste učinili ništa!
​A osim velike zajednice, stvorio je hrvatski iseljenik u Sjedinjenim Državama još toliko drugih neodvisnih, samostalnih organizacija; gradio je crkve, podizao škole hrvatske, domove hrvatske . . . Žalim, što mi vrijeme ne dopušta da se malo bliže osvrnem na rad Zajednice i samostalnih hrvatskih organizacija, na rad, od kojega se je i ter kako okoristila stara domovina Hrvata, a koji na žalost nije još pravo ocijenjen.
​Ovdje bi se morao još posebice da osvrnem na naše hrvatske svećenike i na naše hrvatske novinare u Iseljenoj Hrvatskoj, na sve njih od reda, bez razlike. Možete i jednima i drugima spočitnuti i ovo i ono, zamjeriti im jedno i drugo, ali jedno stoji: Bili su sa svojim narodom, sačinjavali su jaku, živu vezu, što je Iseljenu Hrvatsku postojano vezala sa starom domoviniom.
​Nije bio zavidan položaj ni jednih ni drugih. Bilo je grešaka, pa i krupnih. Ta i oni, svećenici i novinari, i oni su ljudi. Ali njihov rad i zasluge za hrvatstvo nepristran pametan ne će zanijekati, pa i oni, mrtvi i živi, osjećaju težinu krvave pljuske:
​— Za Hrvatsku nijeste učinili ništa!
​Jest, jest! — doći će starokrajski gospodin, pa će kazati: — Sve to može da bude tako, sve vam to mi još i možemo da priznamo, ali, ali — Gdje je vama, američkim Hrvatima, narodno politički rad, gdje su vam uspjesi takvog rada? U tom pogledu nijeste vi za domovinu Hrvatsku učinili zapravo skoro ništa!
​Iseljena Hrvatska ima potpuno pravo da na taj glas odgovori ovako:
— Lagano, lagacko, poštovana starokrajska gospodo! Ako su volovi plahi, zemlja je već podjeljena! Pa nam dozvolite, da mi hrvatski iseljenici, sa svoje strane, zapitamo vas, gospodu ovako:
​A gdje je, gospodo, vaš politički rad? Gdje su vam uspjesi toga vašega političkog rada? Što ste to vi na starome našemu domu uradili, što bi nama u iseljeništvu služilo jakim poticalom, dobrim ugledom za naš rad ovdje?
​Mi znamo samo ovo: — Vi ste se dijelili u stranke, kojima broja ne znamo, dok je krov nad glavom Hrvata gorio! Tjerali ste visoku gospodsku politiku, koje naš hrvatski svijet nije razumio, a od koje narodu i domovini Hrvata nikada koristi nije bilo! Medjusobom ste se grdili i na noževe klali!
​U mladosti, gospodo, bili ste i ter kako grlati, pjesnici, veliki rodoljubi, da izašaviš iz mladosti — uz vrlo rijetke, časne i velike iznimke — sniženo poljubite skute i koljena tlačitelja i izrabljivača svog naroda!
​A kada je kucnuo onaj veliki, ondaj stoljećima očekivani čas, koji imao da okrene sudbinu i Hrvatskoj već jednom donese slobodu, vi ste se, gospodo časna, izgubili ko dlijeto iza pasa i svi, ama svi, — neki prije, neki poslije — svi do jednoga polomili ste koljena, trčeći da čim prije stignete u Beograd, protiv kojega ste i nas kasnije pozivali! Odoste u Beograd, a nakon položene prisege na onaj ustav, koji je brisao našu domovinu, našu državu Hrvatsku.
​A — svaki put, kada ste se sjetili, da negdje tamo u dalekoj Americi, o kojoj pojma nijeste imali, živi hrvatska sirotinja, koja “ošla preko velike lokve trbuhom za kruhom”, — svaki put, kada je koji od vas dolazio toj hrvatskoj sirotinji u Americi, — svaki puta, svaki od vas, donio nam je samo zlo, razmirice, zadjevice, svadju, ostavio nam u baštinu crva, da nas toči, a on sa sobom nosio — tvrde američke dolare!
​I tako je to bilo sve počelo tamo od Hinka Sirovatke 1904. godine, preko jugoslavenskih propagatora za vrijeme svjetskog rata, pa preko Kežmana do Košutića, da manjih vaših “zvijezda” i više-manje “apoštola” niti ne spominjemo.
​Jest, visoka i učena gospodo, sve ovo je živa, sveta istina. Vi je možda zaboravljate, ali je ne zaboravlja hrvatski iseljenik, a zaboravit je ne može, jer ju je i ter kako teško osjetio i na svojoj duši i na svojoj kesi . . . .

* * *
Da ne spominjem ranijih žrtvi, rada i pokušaja Iseljene Hrvatske, pa obilnih doprinosa za svaku dobru hrvatsku narodnu stvar u staroj domovini, ja ću ovdje da izažmem rad i žrtve američkih Hrvata posljednih 25 godina:
​Imali smo jak, čvrst “Hrvatski Savez”, sagradjen na živoj i jakoj svijesti američkih Hrvata. Za par mjeseci proširio se je bio po svim Sjedinjenim Državama, a zanosom, iskrenim, pravim hrvatskim zanosom, da mu je šteko primjera naći. — Da spomenem samo jedno, i to ovo:
​Iz toga Hrvatskog Saveza potekao je mladi Hrvatski revolucioner, ili kako bi se to danas reklo “ustaša”, Stjepan Dojčić, kojega će se Zagreb valjda i danas još sjećati radi njegovoga revolvera, koji 18. kolovoza 1912. odapeo pred zabrebačkom prvostolnicom prema grudima magjarskoga eksponenta Cuvaja. A sjećat će ga se i radi onoga njegovoga, Dojčićeva, muškoga, junačkoga držanja na zagrebačkom sudu, gdje taj mladi, američki Hrvat, revolucioner, nije prezao, nije molio za milost, niti dozivolio, da ga “uhvati trema”, nego slobodno junački kresao, spreman da glavu dade. (I danas još živi član Hrvatskoga Saveza, današnji Kolaš, koji Dojčiću platio put u Zagreb.)
​I taj Hrvatski Svez likvidirao nam je starokrajski gospon, starokrajski političar . . . .
​Imali smo Hrvatski Sokol — svjestan, jak. Proširio bio jaka krila od Atlantika do Pacifika. Pa? — Pa i Hrvatski Sokol likvidirao nam starokrajski gospon, starokrajski politicus, koji kasnije u Zagrebu gradio vile, raskošne kuće, palače . . . .
​Tko je nama u Americi za vrijeme svjetskog rata bogumrsko lagao? — Naša draga hrvatska braća, starokrajski gosponi, starokrajski političari . . . .
​Kada je ono blagopokojni Stjepan Radić stao da budi, drži i organizuje hrvatsko selo, taj jedini sigurni oslon hrvatske zemlje, naroda i države, američki Hrvati, makar već strahovito razočarani, — jer toliko puta prevareni od starokrajske gospode političara, — dižu se i opet i stvaraju svoju Hrvatsku Republikansku Ligu. I za malo, Liga okuplja hrvatsku iseljenu djecu, razasutu po Americi; Liga se širi, jača, — — a u času najboljega razmaha, eto iz stare domovine gospona političara, eto nam Kežmana, da nam Ligu pocijepa, a za malo i uništi, da se mi, kako ono rekao Kuzma Kuharić, ko rakova djeca razbježimo . . . . Opet razočarani, opet bačeni unatrag, opet prevareni od starokrajskih gospona.
​Ovo su, braćo i sestre moje, sve jučerašnji dogadjaji, sve nepobitne povjesničke činjenice, što su se zbile za naših dana. I na temelju tih činjenica imamo potpuno pravo mi, američki Hrvati, kada nam starokrajska gospoda dodju i kažu, da za svoju Hrvatsku nijesmo učinili ništa, da iznesemo za odgovor gornje činjenice, a uz ovaj dodatak:
​Ako sav taj naš rad, ako sve te naše žrtve nijesu donijele ploda, koji smo imali pravo očekivati, krivi ste tome vi, samo vi, starokrajska gospodo političari! Od vas nikada ništa dobra naučili nijesmo! A zla mnogo i — previše!
​I sve, ama sve, što mi ovdje počinili, a na što ste vi svoje ruke stavili — sve, ama sve to nam je od reda propalo!
​Sačuvali smo samo naše hrvatske dobrotvorne organizacije, a sačuvali smo ih samo i jedino za to, jer vama, starokrajska gospodo političari, nije bilo dozvoljeno, da u te naše organizacije svoje prste miješate! Da ste ih miješali, mi bismo danas bili i bez tih skoro jedinih naših oslona u tudjemu svijetu!
​Ima vas mnogo, koji se sjećate 15-godišnjega rada i života, što ih je američki Hrvat u čistu zanosu, iz najčistije ljubavi doprinosio za Hrvatskog Radišu, za svoju hrvatsku sirotinju. Ima vas mnogo, koji ste u tome radu i u tim žrtvama živo sudjelovali. Vi, braćo i sestre u New Yorku, znadete ovo: Naša newyorška grana, uz pripomoć “Danice”, za samih pet godina dana poslala je Radiši u Zagrebu pet tisuća dolara.
​Pa — tko nas je opet u tome zanosu ohladio, tko nas je u toj tako lijepoj vjeri orazočarao? I opet naša starokrajska gospoda!
​Ovdje ću maločak, samo za časak da skrenem, da vam kažem ovo:
​Teško rumenilo stida me oblijeva, dok sam tuj nedavno čitao izvješće sa posljednje Radišine skupštine u Zagrebu. Naša se gospoda tamo na tolko zaboravila, da je jedan od delegata, hrvatski seljak iz Bosne, bolno zavapio:
​”Došli smo s tolikim veseljem u naš Zagreb, a sada me je, gledajući, što radite, gospodo, skoro stid, da sam Hrvat!”
​Vratimo se sebi: — Gdje je danas onaj naš lijepi zanos, ona naša čista vjera, kojom smo radili i žrtvovali za Radišu? Pitajte za odgovor našu starokrajsku gospodu, pa ih podučite, neka paze na jezik, kada, recimo, osudjuju našu hrvatsku sirotinju u Americi, koja razočarana posvema nad starokrajskom gospodom i njihovom “visokom politikom” traži izlaza i utjehe u internacionalizmu ili u taboru onih, koji joj propovijedaju o takvom političkom i socijalnom poretku, u kjem takvova gospoda, s kakvom su oni imali posla, neće imati riječi . . . .

* * *
Kada je ono u lipnju 1928. pukla puška u beogradskom štala-parlamentu i ubila predstavnike, pa i vodju hrvatskog naroda, — i opet se diže, kako to starokrajska gospoda vole da kazuju, “sirotinja, što preko lokve ošla trbuhom za kruhom”, pa sama bez ičije pomoći stvara sebi svoju organizaciju, stvara Hrvatsko Kolo.
​Ali podučena teškim, skupim, gorkim iskustvom sa starokrajskom gospodom, postavlja svoju novu organizaciju na široke, izvanstranačke, svehrvatske temelj, a na svoj barjak piše:
— Sve za Hrvatsku, sve za Hrvatsku, koju dakako sačinjava i ova naša Iseljena Hrvatska!
​I zove: — U kolo, u jedno veliko bratsko i hrvatsko kolo sve, što pravo hrvatski misli i osjeća i sve, što hoće da radi i žrtvuje! Sve, sve, što u Iseljenoj Hrvatskoj hrvatski diše, sve bez razlike stranaka i strančica, bez obzira na imena i nazive, na boje i oznake. A uslov je jedan jedini: Čista i prava hrvatska svijest, zdrava pamet, pošteno hrvatsko srce, živa hrvatska svijest, iz koje niče jaka volja, da se radi i žrtvuje za hrvatski narod!
​Da je taj program pravo pogodio hrvatsku dušu, vidjelo se je već za prvih mjeseci nakon osnutka Hrvatskog Kola. To vam je svima poznato i ne treba da opetujem, ali se moram zaustaviti na ovome:
​Kada se Hrvatsko Kolo najljepše stalo da širi, eto opet starokrajskoga gospona političara, koji će da “mudrom” starokrajskom politikom — razbije Kolo. Svi se još dobro sjećamo g. Košutića i njegove rabote, a u vrijeme najvećega djela, što ga je Iseljena Hrvatska ikada još poduzela, u vrijeme narodnoga glasovanja za slobodu Hrvatske.
​Hvala kolaškoj svijesti, pokušaj starokrajskoga gosponda Košutića nije uspio — glasovanje je provedeno, braći u kraju dano je u ruke jako oružje tisuća slbodnih hrvatskih glasova, Hrvatsko Kolo je sačuvano i baš nekako u to doba objačano sa 11 novih Kola.
​Pokušaj g. Košutića doduše nije uspio, ali je ipak — štetovao, kao što su nam štetovali svi uopće pokušaji, svih uopće starokrajskih gospona političara. Preko te štete smo prešli, a ja je ovdje iznosim za još jedan dokaz svojoj tvrdnji:
​”Dosada smo od starokrajskih političara trpili samo štete u svome narodnom hrvatskom radu”.
​Nije istina, da američki Hrvati nijesu učinili ništa za svoju staru domovinu Hrvatsku, nego je povjesna istina, da su učinili mnogo, te da bi učinili bili i mnogo više, da ih nijesu u tome radu ometala starokrajska gospoda političari i političarčići.
​Tako su ta gospoda radila do danas!
​Hoće li i od danas?
​Iskrena želja, topla molba i iskreni uzdah nas Hrvatskih Kolaša i Kolašica jeste ovaj:
​Daj, Bože, i ti lijepa srećo hrvatska, ako te uopće igdje ima, — daj, pa od danas okrenuli drugim, pravim putem. Daj, Bože, pa se dogodilo ovo:
​Neka naša draga hrvatska braća s one strane otpočnu nešto zbilja hrvatsko, nešto zbilja naše, samo naše, neka nam djelom pokažu, da je to nešto zbilja naše, samo naše hrvatsko, neka djelima pokažu, da je njihov rad uistinu za bolju i ljepšu budućnost slobodne i nezavisne države Hrvatske, pa neka onda vide oni opet hrvatskog iseljenika u Americi!
​Neka nam naša draga hrvatska braća s one strane oceana ne zamjere, ako ne vjerujemo u igre slijepoga miša, ako ne možemo da vjerujemo u kabanice, ispod kojih vire papci stoljetnih zakletih neprijatelja Hrvatske i hrvatskog naroda. Neka nam ne zamjere, ako — opareni — i u hladno pušemo, pa neka ne dolaze da nas radi toga vrijedjaju i u obraz nam pljuju, dovikujući nam, da za našu Hrvatsku nijesmo učinili ništa!
​Mi od Hrvatskog Kola, od njegovoga početka do dana današnjega, vršili smo, vršimo i vršit ćemo svoju narodnu hrvatsku dužnost po svome najboljemu uvjerenju, a prema zrelo promišljenome i savjesno sastavljenomu programu Hrvatskog Kola. Na dosadašnji rad i na dosadašnje uspjehe možemo mirne duše ponosno pokazati. A da se pravo omjeri taj naš rad i ti naši uspjesi, moraju se u obzi uzeti teške prilike, u kojima živimo, i brojni, a jaki neprijatelji naši, te uopće neprijatelji hrvatske misli. Pa i taj kolaški rad i ti kolaški uspjesi ogoljuju onu krvavu nepravdu, što se Iseljenoj Hrvatskoj nanosi, kada joj se veli, da za Hrvatsku nije učinila ništa.
​Imam više pisama od ruke iz pera dra. Ante Pavelića, koji se ne može dovoljno da nahvali programa i rada našeg Hrvatskog Kola, a u jednom od zadnjih svojih pisama veli dr. Pavelić doslvce ovo:
​”Pisao sam u New York, da se ne dira Hrvatsko Kolo, jer mi ovdje dobro znamo, što nam Kolo vrijedi!”
​Već samim ovim riječima i sam Ante Pavelić obara tešku nepravdu, što nam se nanosi, kada nam se veli:
​— Za Hrvatsku nijeste učinili ništa!
​Prije nego završim, primjetit ću, da sam ove retke metao na papir onako, kako mi ih pamćenje i srce u pero kazivalo, a ne mogu dovoljno nažaliti, što mi dnevni posao ne dozvolio, da predmet obradim, kako to pravom zaslužuje. Bit će, valjda za to vremena u buduće!
​Pa da u poskupcu izažmem ovako:
​Iseljena Hrvatska, na tisuće milja daleko od rodjene grude, u tudjemu svijetu, uza sve, što je braća na domu zaboravila, i uza sve to, što je gospoda političari smetali, varali, razočarali — ta Iseljena Hrvatska u Sjevernoj Americi nije nikada zaboravila stare domovine Hrvata, te je po svojoj mogućnosti i svojim prilikama radila i uradila mnogo za tu svoju dragu domovinu. I spremna je uvijek da i dalje radi, da se i dalje žrtvuje.
​Pa i sama starokrajska gospoda dokazom su za to: Kadgod su k nama amo došli, nije im trebalo tražiti Iseljene Hrvatske — svaki put su je našli, svaki put su došli na gotovo!
​Ne govoreći za druge, kazat ću za naše Kolaše ovo:
​Kada je ono dr. Ante Pavelić sretno umaknuo iz tamnice, koja se Hrvatskom zove, a ispred beogradskih krvnika, prvo ga je pozdravilo Hrvatsko Kolo. Nitko drugi! Sjećam se, kada je prvi put Danica počela pisati o dru. Anti Paveliću, mnogi su me naši dobri Hrvati iz raznih strana Amerike pitali: A tkoje taj Ante Pavelić? Pisao sam i tumačio, a vi se svi još dobro sjećate, da su Kola Hrvatskih Sinova i Kćeri spremno priskočili u pomoć i novčanu dru. Anti Paveliću. Vjerujući da radimo za dobru hrvatsku stvar, mi smo Kolaši i Kolašice svestrano pozdravljali našu braću u emigraciji, a prema programu našega Kola: — Pomagati sve, što je hrvatsko!
​Zar je i Hrvatskome Kolu upućena ona teška riječ:
​— Za Hrvatsku nijeste učinili ništa?
​Ako je zbilja i Kolu upućena, mi je Kolaši pobijati ne ćemo, tek ćemo naglasiti i podcrtati ovu:
— Laž je to, svetogrdna laž, a neumitna povjesnica nas uči, da laž još nikoga oslobodila nije, pa ne će valjda ni nas Hrvate!
​Ja rekoh, a kazat ću i opet, gdjegod mi se prilika pruži, a vi, kolaška braćo i sestre moje, — mislite!

* * *
Počeo sam, navevši riječi jednoga od najljepših hrvatski srdaca, što ga je ikada Hrvatska majka nosila, riječi hrvatskoga prognanika pjesnika Augusta Matoša. Dozvolite mi, da njegovim riječima i svršim.
​Ma što govorila kako god radila naša starokrajska gospoda političari, mi, hrvatski Kolaši, a s nama i ostali dobri i svijesni sinovi i kćeri Iseljene Hrvatske, tvrdo vjerujemo vjeru hrvatsku, pa u toj vjeri ponavljamo riječi, što ih je izgovorio hrvatski sin Matoš, kada — za vizionarskoga povratka iz iseljeništva u Domovinu, vidio Majku Kroaciju, pa joj zavapio:
​”Kroacijo, majko moja! — padnem ničice i obujmim joj koljena. — Hrvatska, bakljo mojih tamnih putova, tvrdi kruše mojih nevolja, suzno uzglavlje mog progonstva! Kroacijo, jedina, posljednja boginjo mog buntovničkog bogomračja! Pruži mi kraljevsku, prosjačku ruku i ti ćeš disati i bitisati donle, dok bude biti i disati posljednje tvoje dijete. Diži se, Hrvatsko! Jer i ako smo sami i slabi, u početku bijaše hrvatska riječ i riječ Hrvatska će biti djelo!”

* * *
Ivan Krešić (Ston, 1878. – Berkley, 1956.) – došao u SAD 1906. i bio, među ostalim, pokretač, vlasnik i urednik novine Hrvatski list i Danica hrvatska; jedan od utemeljitelja Hrvatskog saveza i potom Hrvatskog kola.

Ante Čuvalo, Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog: Svjedočenja preživjelih

Ante Čuvalo, Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog: Svjedočenja preživjelih, Ljubuški-Chicago, 2014., 624 s.

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Časni oci, cijenjene gospođe i gospodo,

Među ovim koricama knjige doktora Ante Čuvala pohranjene su mnoge sudbine, protkane krvlju, znojem, bolom, patnjom, ljudskom surovošću, neizvjesnošću, ali i borbom za preživljavanjem i nadanjima za mirom i povratkom kućama. Prihvatio sam se predstavljanja knjige iz dvaju razloga. Prvo što poznajem njezina auktora dr. Čuvala kao povjesničara i humanista prvoga reda, cijeneći njegove napore da usmenu povijest naših stradalnika predoči u pisanu povijest. Druga je što je moj otac Grgo Dodig iz Prologa (umro 2003.) preživio križni put. U više navrata propovijedao mi je doživljaje iz svoje životne kalvarije 1945. Nažalost, nisam ih bilježio jer sam se tada, kao i sada, bavio dalekom prošlošću naših predaka, koju tisuću-dvije godina unazad, misleći bit će vremena pa ću to snimiti i pribilježiti na papir. Ipak, brza kosa naše sestre smrti pokosi brzo staro, a katkad i mlado žito.  No ostale su mi u sjećanju neke slike koje mi je opisao, pune surovosti i gole borbe za opstanak, kakve se nalaze i u ovoj knjizi.

Knjiga ima tri dijela. Prvi dio su “Svjedočenja preživjelih”  (3-420 str.), poredanih abecednim redom, njih 64 sudionika. Nakon toga slijede “Svjedočenja iz druge ruke” (str. 422-469), gdje je prikazana 21 ljudska sudbina. Drugi dio knjige obuhvaćaju tabele (472-592. str.). Treći dio su “Dokumenti”  (str. 594-621.). Na kraju su Kazala imena (605-618), Popis mjesta kroz koja su prošli ili boravili sudionici Križnoga puta (str. 619-621), Zahvala (str. 623) onima koji su pomogli u pripremi knjige i na unutarnjim koricama zemljovid “Kolone smrti – najvažnijih križnih putova”, koji  je preuzet  iz knjige Stanislava Vukorepa, “Preživjeli svjedoče”, Zagreb, 2005.

Toponim Bleiburg, slovenski Pliberk, koruški gradić u Austriji od kojih 4.000 duša, potječe od njemačkoga blei, olovo, i burg, zamak, tvrđava, jer je blizu bio rudnik olova. I upravo je Bleiburg, Olovni grad, postao simbolom “olovnih vremena” za sve protivnike i neistomišljenike partizanske vlasti.  Bez obzira što je na Bleiburškom polju i u okolici stradao manji dio Hrvata (i drugih naroda), Bleiburg je postao metaforom svih hrvatskih stradanja od crvene vlasti krajem II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća (Bleiburški pokolj, Bleiburška tragedija). Hrvatska iseljenička literatura razdoblje, kada su mnogi zarobljeni Hrvati ubijeni na marševima kroz Jugoslaviju i u zarobljeničkim logorima, nazvala je “Križni put”. O tome se u dijaspori pisalo i govorilo (V. Nikolić, Bleiburška tragedija hrvatskoga naroda, München, 1976.), u Jugoslaviji to je bila tabu-tema. Na europskoj razini buru je uzvitlao Nikolaj Tolstoj koji je 1986. objavio knjigu The Minister and the Massacres (Ministar i pokolji), koja je bila u međuvremenu povučena, s dugim sudskim procesom. Objavljena je u prijevodu na hrvatski 1991. Knjiga Marka Grčića i drugih: Otvoreni dossier: Bleiburg, Zagreb: 1990, de facto prva je knjiga u Hrvatskoj koja je javno progovorila o toj temi. Pripremila ju je skupina novinara nakon serije intervjua sa sudionicima Križnoga puta, koji su prethodno bili objavljeni unovinama. Slijedile su knjige Josipa Jurčevića, Zvonimira Duspera, Miljenka Perića, Joze Marevića, kao i sjećanja sudionika, kao što je spomenuta knjiga Stanislava Vukorepa.

Zabilježena sjećanja preživjelih Ljubušaka vrlo su dojmljiva, puna napornih ratnih slika, opasnosti, uhićenja, namještenih optužnica, podmetanja, tortura, pokušaja nagovora lažnih svjedočenja i pritisaka  svake vrste. Na križnom putu bilo je i djece. Ljuba Biško iz Vitine tako se 1945. našla na maršu smrti s majkom i teko rođenom sestrom u svojoj sedmoj godini. Zapamtila je vrlo potresne slike – čovjeka koji jede uginula konja, nesretnika koji sebi reže grkljan ili majku koja s djetetom skače u rijeku, ne bi li skratila patnje. Ili Nada Tomić iz Humca rođena 1939. Don Aleksandar Boras kazuje kako su ih partizani u iscrpljujućem maršu čak noću tjerali u trk. Bilo ih je koji su trčali i spavali. “Nisam znao da je to moguće ali stvarno smo marširali, ponekad trčali i spavali. Neki su halucinirali”, pripovijeda don Aleksandar. Drago Bradvica iz Veljaka svjedoči da je bio toliko mučen tjelesno i psihički da ga u Mostaru u Sjevernom logoru rođena majka i sestra nisu prepoznale. U dvadesetoj godini bio je težak tek nešto više od trideset kilograma. Slično se dogodilo Ivanu Iki Nižiću, kojega je rođeni otac na povratku pred kućom pitao “Tko si ti”, misleći da je kakav prosjak. Bilo je rijetkih momaka iz marša smrti koji su se spasili bijegom iz  kolone, kao što je bio Vlado Matijašević iz Vašarovića. U knjizi ima svjedočenja koja su male literarne drame, pune događaja i neizvjesnosti, poput sudbine Vladimira Rose iz Vitine.

Svjedočenja iz druge ruke, kako se zove jedno poglavlje u knjizi, isto tako su opisi mnogih životnih drama krajem II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća, koja pripovijedaju supruge, sinovi i rodbina stradalnika. Uz životni put Stanka Čotića iz Lisica, prema kazivanju supruge Anice, nalazi se fotografija aluminijske vojničke zdjele s urezanim nadnevcima i mjestima u kojima je Stanko boravio tijekom Križnoga puta – 15. svibnja 1945. Maribor, pa Osijek, Vinkovci, Šid, Zemun, Pančevo itd., da bi kući stigao u studenom 1945.

Drugi dio knjige donosi tabelarne popise sudionika Križnoga puta i stradalnika iz II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća za svako mjesto u ljubuškoj općini. Tabele sadržavaju imena ljudi koji su preživjeli Križni put, koji su smrtno stradali na Križnome putu i onih koji su smrtno nastradali tijekom rata i u poraću, a nisu bili na Križnome putu. Prema prikupljenim podacima na Križnome putu bile su 2.172 osobe iz općine Ljubuški, smrtno ih je stradalo 1249, 923-je se vratilo kući, a 17 je umrlo od posljedica puta. Ako ovome dodamo 1.202 žrtve nastradale u ratu i poraću, a koje nisu bile na Križnom putu, ukupan broj smrtno stradalih Ljubušaka je 2.469 osoba, što je činilo 10 posto ukupna broja stanovništva općine. Radilo se o ljudima u punoj životnoj snazi, u fertilnoj dobi, tako da je to strahovit i nenadoknadiv gubitak za Ljubuški. Koliko sam danas na Radio-Ljubuškome čuo, dr. Ante Čuvalo rekao je kako je u odnosu na broj predratnih stanovnika najviše stradalih iz Teskere i Pregrađa. Ove crne statistike mogu poslužiti sociolozima i demografima kao korisno štivo u daljnjim proučavanjima, ali nećemo pretjerati ako kažemo da su ljubuški Hrvati u Drugom svjetskom ratu i nakon njega izgubili demografsku srčiku i bili stigmatizirani kao ustaše i zločinci.

U trećem dijelu priloženi su zanimljivi dokumenti sudionika Križnoga puta, od vojnih knjižica do presuda vojnih sudova i nekoliko rukopisnih zapisa ljubuških stradalnika.

Knjiga dr. Ante Čuvala dragocjeno je povijesno i dokumentarno djelo, zapis o tragičnim ljudskim sudbinama sredinom dvadesetoga stoljeća, tu pred našim vratima. Učinjeno je u zadnji trenutak kada se preživjeli križari mogu gotovo izbrojiti na prste. Možda mi sami, potomci naših ratnih i poratnih stradalnika, bilo prve ili druge generacije, trebamo okriviti sami sebe zašto to nismo uradili u proteklih – evo gotovo sedamdeset godina. Zato našemu učenom Anti iz Proboja treba odati veliko priznanje za golem trud i istraživački napor, koji je pokazao na pripremi i objavi knjige. Na kraju neka mi bude slobodno poigrati se glagolom čuvati: Dr. Čuvalo očuvao je od zaborava komad ljubuške povijesti. Neka ga čuva dragi Bog!

Radoslav Dodig

Ljubuški, 8.5.2014.

Vesna Čučić, The Republic of Dubrovnik: Final Crisis

Vesna Čučić, The Republic of Dubrovnik: Final Crisis. Chicago, Il.: CroLibertas Publishers, 2014. Pages XXIII+208.

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An earlier version of Ms. Čučić’s book was published in Croatian in 2003 (Zavod za povijesne znanosti HAZU and Matica hrvatska in Dubrovnik), but now appears in a somewhat upgraded English language version thanks to an able translation by Duško Čondić. As a result, this important monograph will be available to a far broader international audience. Dr. Ante Čuvalo and Ms. Ivana Čuvalo Rosandić founded the CroLibertas Publishers with the sole purpose of publishing books—original monographs, translations, and reprints—of interest to those who wish to be informed about Croatia and her history, something that should not be the project of a small diaspora publisher, but of those Croatian institutions that are responsible for promoting the best of domestic scholarship. The Čuvalos’ first publication was a critical study of archival holdings from the Catholic parish of St. Jerome, a Croatian immigrant institution in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Čučić’s monograph is the second book in the series. The demise of the Republic of Dubrovnik was not the favourite episode for those who applied themes from the history of Dubrovnik as building material for the construction of the Croat national project. Contrary to the narratives of great achievement during the Republic’s heyday, the fall of the Dubrovnik polity was too depressing to bear. That in part explains why the subject was infrequently pursued. Besides the two-volume (and then strictly diplomatic) history by Lujo Vojnović (Pad Dubrovnika, 1908), which was published on the hundredth anniversary of the events and brought the story up to the Dubrovnik Annals 19 (2015) 151 final attempts at the Republic’s restoration (from the uprising of 1813 to the Congress of Vienna), there were practically no works on the subject, the somewhat forgotten English-language monograph by Harriet Bjelovučić: The Ragusan Republic: Victim of Napoleon and its Own Conservatism, which was published in 1970, being the sole exception. The dearth of research on the Republic’s final period has since been reversed thanks to Vesna Čučić’s expert insight into the world of troubled relations in Dubrovnik and the Adriatic basin at the turn of the eighteenth century, when Napoleon transferred the spirit of the Great Revolution into a set of legal, educational, and administrative reforms, and then, thanks to his military and strategic advantages, unleashed them on the unwilling European continent. Vesna Čučić’s monograph begins with the context of the French decision to seize Dubrovnik in 1806. The great game after the Third Coalition and the Peace of Pressburg (1805) led to the Franco-Russian conflict in the Bay of Kotor, where the Austrian authorities, under the pressure of the anti-French local movement, did not pass the Bay to the French, as provided by the Peace of Pressburg, but to the Russians instead. The French then occupied Dubrovnik under the pretext that Dubrovnik’s neutrality was compromised. Ms. Čučić’s approximations about the number of French troops on the territory of Dubrovnik (between 1,100 and 5,000) are particularly telling, as is her account of the role they played in combat against the Russo-Montenegrin army during the Russian siege of Dubrovnik, as well as on the nature of siege itself, which has been downplayed in the previous accounts. This episode, made notorious by the pillage and burning of Konavle, Cavtat, and a number of suburban settlements, has lived in the collective memory of Dubrovnik and helped legitimate the French contributions in defence of the city and its possessions. The arrival of fresh French troops in July 1806 repelled the Russian siege. These are unquestionably the best pages of the monograph and they stress the predatory nature of Russian-Montenegrin effort, something that Lujo Vojnović mainly circumvented in his Pad Dubrovnika. The rest of the book takes up the consequences of conflict, the expenditures that the Republic invested on the French army during the period of dual power (1806-1808), and the damage caused by Russians, Montenegrins, and Orthodox Herzegovinians. The biggest damages were incurred in Gruž, Rijeka dubrovačka, and Konavle, and in Konavle most especially in Čilipi, as well as Bačev Do and Gruda. Most houses were burned in Konavle (235), Župa (188) and borgo Pile (134); in percentages: in Obod (84.21%) and Pile (47.69%). Nor was the number of victims insignificant. According to some accounts there were 581 dead only in Konavle, and in the city itself, perhaps more than 150. Ms. Čučić clearly demonstrates that we have underestimated the last crisis of the Republic of Dubrovnik. This was not just the story of the French occupation but, in far greater measure, that of savagery committed by the Russo-Montenegrin forces, something that Medo Pucić called the expected behaviour of ‘beasts’: “Then the Frenchman grabbed Dubrovnik … / And by his godless violence / Though we were neither in the wrong or in debt / He destroyed our national rule. / Then the Moscovite went on to chase him / From both the land and the sea / And took with him a Montenegrin troop / And then sat himself round Dubrovnik / A wild hawk in a dove’s nest”. Dubrovnik’s last crisis was a confrontation between a small patrician oligarchy and modernity, as represented by a self-made emperor and his military force, both being products of the French Revolution, which is to say that they were dedicated to undermining the institutions of old Europe. Republican particularism was swept away by the uniformity of ‘scientific’ state and its centralism, which was not abridged under subsequent Habsburg rule. It is of great value to remind ourselves of this great epopee, the first act of the modern tragedy, which was far more dramatic than its last convulsions, behind the curtain that is steadily falling in our own time. Thanks to the translation of this valuable book, many new readers will discover the circumstances of Dubrovnik’s collapse in all of their depressing detail. Ms. Čučić deserves our thanks and recommendation.

Ivo Banac

Dubrovnik Annals 19 (2015), p. 150-151.

ALBUM ”IZBJEGLIČKI LOGOR FERMO”

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Riječ logor, njem. Lager, iz gotskoga ligrs, znači spavaonica, ali u ratnom smislu sabirno mjesto muke i patnje, često i smrti. Nakon II. Svjetskoga rata otvoreni su mnogi saveznički logori za izbjegle osobe, civile i vojnike. Jedan od poznatijih među njima bio je izbjeglički logor „Campo Fermo“, koji se prostirao u gomili betonskih zgrada bivše tekstilne tvornice nedaleko od grada Fermo, koji se nalazi na obali jadranskoga mora u središnjoj Italiji i ima 37.000 st. U njemu se smjestilo oko 2.000 izbjeglica. Iako je strah od izručenja u Jugoslaviju bio stalno prisutan u Fermu, Hrvati su se trudili organizirati normalan život. Počeo je raditi dječji vrtić, osnovna i srednja škola, formirana je Matica Hrvatska, Hrvatski akademski klub, športska društva i  još neke udruge. Istodobno s društvenim i kulturnim djelovanjem na pozornici su izvođene predstave iz hrvatske baštine, hrvatski emigranti intelektualci započeli su političko djelovanje protiv komunističkog režima u domovini. Međutim, generalno stajalište Zapada bilo je naklonjeno Josipu Brozu Titu i partizanima. Usto, jugoslavenske tajne službe našle su suradnike, doušnike među hrvatskim emigrantima, što je dovelo do izdaje i propasti planiranih akcija odnosno do uhićenja i likvidacije pojedinih istaknutijih hrvatskih emigranata. Logor je djelovao od 1945. do 1948.

Ono što je zanimljivo za Fermo i hrvatske zatočenike u njemu svakako je način na koji su logoraši organizirali život, koliko je to bilo moguće u tadašnjim poslijeratnim uvjetima. O tome u predgovoru piše dr. Ante Čuvalo. U logoru je bio heterogen sastav izbjeglica – od profesora, svećenika i umjetnika do vojnika, seljaka i djece. Uz suglasnost britanske uprave birala se hrvatska logorska samouprava koja se brinula za životne uvjete. Imali su kuhinju, ambulantu, pjevački zbor, športsko društvo, dječji vrtić, folklornu skupinu, skaute, te sitne obrtnike – električare, limare, brijače, učitelje, glazbenike. Sagrađena je i kapela, utemeljena je prava hrvatska katolička župa.

Upravo o tim zbivanjima govori ovaj album. Kao što sama riječ kaže sastavljen je od niza slika i popratnih tekstova, negdje kraćih negdje dužih. Zasluga za oblikovanje albuma pripada Mariji Ramljak, voditeljici „Hrvatske male škole“ u logoru Fermo, Augustu Frajtiću, fotografu i dr. fra Dominiku Mandiću, koji je sačuvao albume u Franjevačkoj kustodiji u Chicagu. Uvod i pripremu za tiskanje obavio je dr. Ante Čuvalo, a dizajn i grafičku pripremu Emil Kordić. Nakladnik je CroLibertas Publishers Chicago. Knjiga se u glavnini sastoji od dva albuma: I. od str. 8 – 37. i II. od str. 40 – 55.

Kako na početku kaže voditeljica škole Marija Ramlja, junaci albuma su „mala hrvatska djeca, koja su morala ostaviti svoju domovinu“. Redaju se slike djece – vesele, radoznale, nemirne, razigrane, tužne, ali i ponosne što pokazuju u tuđoj zemlji da su kadri misliti, učiti, stvarati i živjeti. Redaju se tako frajtićevi svjetlopisi s djecom u prirodi, u hodalici, u dvorištu, školi, izletu, kolu i vjeronauku. Tako saznajemo da su napravili prvu priredbu s programom od dva i pol sata, djeca u dobi od 4 do 10 godina. Danas bismo rekli vrtić i osnovci. Napravljena je prava pozornica sa zastorima, okićena grbom i likovima u hrvatskoj narodnoj nošnji. Saznajemo isto tako da su veliku priredbu mališani imali za Majčin dan, da su predstave i igrokazi bili vrsno pripremljeni s obiljem kostima i obrazina. Vidimo na fotografijama da su Malu školu u Fermu posjećivali crkveni, vojni i civilni uglednici, među njima kardinal Ruffini, nadbiskup fermanski i general Findlaj. Na kraju prigodna programa u legendi gospođa Ramljak piše „kako se kardinal čudio visokoj kulturi našega naroda“.

I II. album iz 1946. donosi obilje životnih situacija malih junaka u logoru Fermo. Uz kulturni i športski život mališani marljivo uče engleski i talijanski jezik, pišu školske zadaće, vježbaju kola i plesove, sudjeluju u procesijama, prave male izložbe, skauti idu u prirodu, dijeli se Sveta pričest, kao i druge dječje radosti i obveze. Moraju se za mnoge stvari snalaziti, pa su tako djevojčice za jednu procesiju napravile lijepe haljine od mreže protiv komaraca.

Tako je Album izbjegličkoga logora Fermo ispunjen lijepim slikama i tekstovima, da unatoč ratu, neimaštini i izbjegličkim mukama, pokaže kako malo čovjeku treba za život. A to su u prvom redu pokazala djeca – i to ona najmlađa, koja su hrabro nosila na svojim plećima ratno breme, ali je u njima bilo duha – i vedroga, i ponosnoga, i prkosnoga i nacionalnoga. Zato je listanje ovakvoga albuma malo osvježenje i ugodno iznenađenje. Album je u neku ruku spomenik neuništivom čovjekovom duhu, svojevrsni antiratni manifest, ovoga puta u malenim tijelima, za hrvatski ponos.

Radoslav Dodig

Na KRAJU PUTA-Osvrt na knjigu”Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog-Svjedočenja preživjelih” – Miljenko Stojić

Na KRAJU PUTA-Osvrt na knjigu”Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog-Svjedočenja preživjelih”

Miljenko Stojić

 

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Ante Čuvalo, Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog. Svjedočenja preživjelih, CroLibertas Publishers, Ljubuški – Chicago, 2014.

Mnogo je u ovoj knjizi životnih priča, a meni za oko zape jedna naoko puno jednostavnija od drugih: »Baka Mara«. Susjed je kriv da su joj ubili sina. Ne može to prežaliti. On umire, a umrijeti mu se ne da. Svi znaju da mu samo baka Mara može pomoći. Prebacimo se u sadašnjost. Nije mi poznato kako će umirati neki drugi, kao npr. Budimir Lončar za kojega pišu da je ovih dana zamolio nekog svećenika u Zadru da mu vodi sprovod. Bila to istina ili ne, to jasno kaže kako u hrvatskom narodu postoji jaki vapaj za pravdom. Ne želi mrziti, spreman je oprostiti, ali je spreman i voljeti svoje do žrtve života. Ova knjiga to bjelodano dokazuje.

»Prilikom napredovanja naišli smo na trojicu naših ustaša koje je neprijatelj bio zarobio. Bili su nabijeni na kolce i ispečeni. Mislim da je ovaj događaj uvelike uticao na moje kasnije ponašanje. Prvi put sam spoznao kolika je mržnja naspram hrvatskoga naroda i kako ćemo proći ukoliko ne budemo imali svoju državu. Nažalost, nakon 1945. te crne slutnje su se i obistinile. Na tisuće Hrvata je završilo u Bleiburgu i u masovnim grobnicama koje su partizani krili punih 50 godina. I danas kad mislim o tome vremenu, mogu reći da sam ponosan što sam bio ustaša. Naravno, osim izroda kojih je svaka vojska imala, mi smo bili prava vojska, s odličnim ustrojem, a Bog i naš hrvatski narod bili su svetinje kojima smo se klanjali.« (str. 3. – 4.) Ove riječi, tako rekući, nalaze se u svim donesenim svjedočenjima pa ne ćemo navoditi tko ih je točno izgovorio. Hrvatska mladost išla je braniti svoju državu. Za politiku je bio zadužen netko drugi. I povijest je potekla tako kako je potekla. Nakon 7 desetljeća još rasplićemo njezine tokove, njezine misli, još tražimo ubijene. Očito se 1945. na ovim prostorima nije dogodila nikakva demokracija, nego je jedan totalitarizam zamijenio drugi.

Treba biti skroz pokvaren pa reći da njih 64-orica iz prvog dijela knjige lažu. Slično vrijedi i za svjedočenja iz druge ruke, njih 16, kao i za tri životne priče u dodatku. Pa ih onda slijede tablice, broj ubijenih po mjestima ljubuške općine. Toliko jezovito da nam počne izgledati nestvarno. Najblaže djeluje nekoliko donesenih dokumenata tamo pri kraju knjige, iako i oni nose svoju mučnu težinu. Kad čovjek sve to pogleda, zastane i zahvali se Bogu što je ipak konačno došlo vrijeme kakve takve slobode. Možemo govoriti o svojim mrtvima, možemo ih pokopati ako smo im pronašli tijela. Jugokomunisti su to sa svojima davno učinili. Ova knjiga velik je korak prema tome. Od zaborava je otrgnut djelić istine, jasnije nam je što se događalo i zbog čega. Na djelu je bila mržnja, drug Đilas bi rekao plemenita mržnja. Uništavala je sve pred sobom i dojučerašnje mirne susjede pretvarala u neljude.

Svjedoci iz knjige prošli su križni put, ali su prošli i vrata smrti u samome Ljubuškom. Neki su isprebijani, neki su bili uhićeni, ali su ipak preživjeli. Drugi su završili na jednom od ljubuških stratišta. Tijekom proteklih godina tragalo je i još traga za njima povjerenstvo za obilježavanje i uređivanje grobišta iz Drugog svjetskog rata i poraća na području općine Ljubuški, na čelu s Vicom Nižićem. Pronađeno ih je do sada 60-ak, nekima je pomoću DNK analize vraćeno čak i ime i prezime. Hvala svima koji su u tome sudjelovali. Iskazali su se pojedinci, država ne. Između ostaloga unatoč tome što se radi o posmrtnim ljudskim ostatcima državne ustanove ne sprovode istragu o onome što se i zbog čega dogodilo. Očito ne vole diranje u već proglašenu jugokomunističku istinu. A ona je tako lažna.

Ovih dana ruski grof i engleski povjesničar Nikolaj Tolstoj ponovno progovori što se to s Hrvatima zbilo na kraju Drugog svjetskog rata. Svjedoči da je sa svime počeo slučajno i što je više ulazio u bit stvari sve ga je to sve više zaokupljalo. Nije ga zaustavio ni sudski progon u Engleskoj kada je objavio knjigu u kojoj Engleze okrivljuje za svjesno izručenje Hrvata na Bleiburškom polju jugoslavenskim komunistima, odnosno Josipu Brozu Titu. Kasnije je razgovarao i sa Simom Dubajićem pa mu je opseg masakra postao jasniji. Danas se slaže s hrvatskom predsjednicom Kolindom Grabar Kitarević koja je iz svoga ureda maknula bistu Josipa Broza Tita, jer on je jednostavno diktator i masovni ubojica. Posjećuje i svoju domovinu Rusiju gdje su komunisti njegovoj obitelji sve oduzeli i još ništa nisu vratili.

Rusi, dakle, imaju svoga Nikolaja Tolstoja, mi u našem ljubuškom kraju, a i šire, imamo svoga Antu Čuvala. Još ni danas nije uputno iznositi na vidjelo lepezu jugokomunističkih zločina. Zna to Čuvalo još od davnih dana kada ga je Udba pratila u stopu. Ali je ustrajao. Podario je svome narodu i sebi remek djelo, recimo to bez ustezanja, iako je ova knjiga zapravo tek kriška naše zajedničke patnje, ponovimo još jedanput tu misao. Zbog toga je pozvan svatko onaj tko ima nešto reći na ovu temu da to što prije učini. Vrijeme prolazi, svjedoka je sve manje, neki su iz ove knjige već otišli pred lice svoga Boga i tako završili svoje svjedočenje. Zasučimo rukave i iziđimo iz jugokomunističkog mraka na svjetlo dana. Nemojmo si umišljati da smo to već učinili. Da jesmo, ovakve knjige bile bi potrebne samo povjesničarima, a ne nama. Još je puno laži i krivih stavova oko nas.

Pada mi sada na um nepoznati starac koji nastoji nahraniti barem nekoliko preumornih i izgladnjelih logoraša. Negdje tamo kod Požege, kako je posvjedočeno u ovom našem djelu. Od Bleiburga pa dotle ubijali su ih na svakom koraku. Najprije sprovodnici, a onda pučanstvo nekih sela i mjesta. Išli su naravno pješice. I starac im poželi pomoći. Brane mu, tuku ga, ali on ustrajava. Na kraju su ga odveli u nepoznato, a logoraši su zaplakali za njim. Mogao se praviti da ga se sve to ne tiče, međutim nije, iskazao je svoju ljudskost. Tako su činile i žene duž čitave hodnje smrti. Sve su uznastojale da uhićenima olakšaju patnje. Prebijane su, ubijane, ali se nisu dale. Našao se čak i poneki sprovodnik koji je pokušao pomoći koliko je mogao. Zlo je carevalo i ljudi su birali hoće li mu podleći li ne.

Isto se dogodilo i kod kuće, u ljubuškom kraju. Netko je u novoj vlasti nastojao pomoći, netko se pripuštao zločinu. Svjedoci imenom i prezimenom govore i o jednima i o drugima. To je dobro. Služi čišćenju našega pamćenja i doprinosi da konačno pomirdba stigne u ove krajeve. Kao primjer onoga tko nastoji pomoći mogli bismo navesti Ivana Primorca Škopu, a kao primjer onoga drugoga Zaima Konjhodžića, i to zbog čizama. Ubio je čovjeka, obuo njegove čizme i sutra dolazi u njegovu kuću pitati ukućane poznaju li ih. Malo je reći da je to perverzno. Kao slične svjedoci su naveli i Ivana Granića, Marijana Primorca, Juru Galića… Ali okrenimo se mi radije našim mučenicima.

Unatoč svim progonima puk je od samoga početka ustrajao na svome putu. Zbog toga se i moglo dogoditi da je u velikom broju došao na pokop hrvatskog vojnika Ivana Alilovića 1947. (str. 1.) Znamo, bila su to vučljiva vremena, sveopći progon. Škripari se još nisu predavali. Ozna ih je lovila pa se i sama znala prerušiti u njih, raditi zlodjela, da ih puku jednostavno ogadi. I ta priča traje do danas, puno je još toga zagađeno jugokomunističkom laži, njihovim stavovima i porukama.

Netko će se očito naći pa će početi po ovim svjedočenjima snimati filmove, pisati književna djela, jednostavno umjetnički stvarati. I to će biti doprinos našemu narodnom pomirenju. Baka Mara je shvatila da je opraštajući pomogla ne samo susjedu nego i samoj sebi. Priča kaže da su je poslije obično viđali s krunicom u rukama. I to je ta naša tipična hrvatska slika: Bog i naši roditelji koji ga nisu izdali. Valjda će tako sljedeći naraštaji reći i za nas.

 

 

Stepinac ponovo na velikosrpskom sudu

Dok smo slavili 17. obljetnica proglašenja Alojzija kardinala Stepinca blaženim mi smo katolici Hrvati očekivali da će u najskorijoj budućnosti naš mučenik biti proglašen svecem Katoličke crkve. Ali, sve nas je zatekla vijest kako je papa Franjo predložio da se ustanovi radna skupina sastavljena od katoličkih i srpsko-pravoslavnih stručnjaka koji će navodno preispitati da li on zaslužuje biti proglašen svetim, odnosno da li jedan katolički i hrvatski mučenik srbo-komunističkog režima “prolazi” srpske standarde svetosti! Kakva lakrdija kad znamo koga je sve SPC proglasila svetima! Ovaj Papin korak je, u prvom redu, uvreda onima koji su vodili proceduru (Kauzu) Stepinčeva proglašenja blaženim i svetim jer u najmanju ruku implicira da nisu bili dovoljno temeljiti, kritični i objektivni. Ali nije to uvreda samo njima, nego i samoj Kongregaciji za kauzu svetaca i Katoličkoj crkvi u Hrvata.

 

Novi “slučaj Stepinac” me podsjeća na vremena kada je (1964.) Papa Pavao VI dodijelio odličje “Velikoga križa reda sv. Silvestra” Ivi Vejvedi, jugoslavenskog komunističkog diplomatu, vjernog sljedbenika Marksa, Lenjina, Staljina i Tite; španjolskog dragovoljca, nekadašnjem političkom komesaru u primorsko-goranskim partizanskim postrojbama i uredniku “Primorsko goranskog partizana” u kojem je pisao da je zadatak partizana: “Čišćenje oslobođenoga teritorija od izdajica te partizanskih jedinica od  kolebljivih i nepovjerljivih elemenata”. Tako su njegove postrojbe “očistile” (pobile) među ostalim i Ivana Jurajića (župnik u Rakovici), Juraja Matijevića (župnik u Gerevu), Zvonku Milinovića (župnik u Podsteni), Josipa Pretnera (župnik u Liču), Vladimira Stuparića (župnik u Sincu), Antuna Žilaveca (kapelan u Otočcu), i mnoge druge. Vatikan je morao znati tko je on, ali ipak mu je dao odličje. Ne, nije odlikovan zbog “čišćenja” svećenika i drugih, nego radi pregovora koji su doveli do državnog sporazuma između Vatikana i Titove Jugoslavije, a kojeg su 25. lipnja 1966. podpisali opunomoćenici Milutin Morača, predsjednik Odbora za vjerska pitanja, nekadašnji zapovjednik 4. krajiške udarne brigade i najpoznatiji po razaranju Kaknja (1943.), i mons. Agostino Casaroli, Državni podskretar za izvanredna pitanja. Znakovito je da podpisivanju protokola nije nazočio nijedan visoki ili niži predstavnik Katoličke crkve, čak ni tadašnji beogradski nadbiskup mons. Bukatko, koji je bio zagovaratelj sporazuma između Vatikana i Beograda. Ne samo da nisu bili prisutni na podpisivanju, nego se sve radilo bez savjetovanja i dogovora s hrvatskim katoličkim biskupima. Radilo se o nama bez nas! Radi većih interesa, naravano! Ostpolitik mons. Casarolia!

 

Usput ću podsjetiti mlađe generacije, jedan od glavnih zahtjeva jugo-režima bio je da se katolički svećenici ne će baviti politikom i terorizmom! Što implicira da su se zaista (hrvatski) katolički svećenici bavili politikom i terorizmom tada i u prošlosti – znači i za vrijeme II svjetskog rata! I ovo je Vatikanska diplomacija potvrdila ugovorom! Jedan od razultata ovog bilo je micanje mons. dr. Krešimira Zorića s dužnosti Ravnatelja pastve u hrvatskoj emigraciji i ograničenje djelovanja nekim “nepodobnim” hrvatskim svećenicima u Rimu.

 

Današnji dosluh između vatikanske diplomacije i Beograda podsjeća me na ta prošla vremena. Očito, Beograd želi uvući Vatikan u svoju igru, i do sada mu uspjeva, da na “slučaju” Stepinac optuži njega i Katoličku crkvu u Hrvata u novijoj povijesti za “politiku i terorizam”, slično kao i u Protokolu iz 1966. Po svemu izgleda, radilo se opet bez savjetovanja s hrvatskim biskupima. Išlo se u “dialog” sa Srbima o nama, i opet bez nas!

 

Nije jasno da li ova vatikanska ispružena ruka dolazi od Papina slabog poznavanja velikosrbizma i ovog dijela Europe ili iz sličnih krugova u Vatikanu kao što su bili oni iz šezsesetih, koji su preko izmučenih leđa vjernih Hrvata katolika pravili mostove s komunističkim i velikosrpskim režimom. Ili tu ima i tradicionalno talijansko-srpskog dosluha? Što je da je posrijedi, očita je razlika između papa Ivana Pavla II., koji je iz iskustva “u dušu” poznavao komunizam, velikorusizam i velikosrbizam, i pape Franje, kojimu je poznata Južna Amerika a ne Europa, posebice ovaj dio kontinenta. Ne mogu svi znati sve, ali i pape mogu tražiti savjete iz prve ruke! Po svemu vatikanska diplomacija, koliko god bila na glasu, nije prozrela ili možda ne želi prozreti velikosrpsku ideologiju koja je jedna od bitnih sastavnica Srpske pravoslavne crkve. Još više, SPC je čuvarica ideologije srpskog mesijanizma i imperijalizma. U razgovoru s američkim znanstvenikom jedan srpski monah reče (1982.) kako je “očito da je samo u povijesti Srba i Židova umješana ruka Božja”! Dakle, i Srbi su izabrani nebeski narod!

 

Kad su bizantski car i patrijarh bili u bijegu iz Carigrada, koji je pao u ruke “Latina”, Srbima je to bio idealan trenutak od njih iznuditi samostalnost Srpske pravoslavne crkve (1219.) Njezin utemeljitelj i vođa, Rastko (Sava) Nemanjić, je od samog početka stavio crkvu u službu države. Cilj je bio jasan: jačati centralnu vlast i širiti državu prema katoličkom zapadu. Nije bila slučajnost da je od osam novo-utemeljinih episkopija (1219.) jedna bila na granici s Bosnom (Dabar), dvije u novo-osvojenim katoličkim zemljama (Zeta i Hum), gdje bila “šaka” pravoslavaca. Ali srpska crkva je uvjek bila spremna za osnivanje episkopija kao “duhovno” sredstvo srpskog širenja prema zapadu. Tako je bilo i za vrijeme turske vladavine, kao i početkom devedesetih.

 

Nije njima nikada bilo, a ni danas, do ekumenizma, nego do osvajanja tuđih zemalja i obmanivanja svjetske javnosti kako su oni žrtve hrvatskog nacionalizma i katolicizma. Vatikanska diplomacija ima svoje snove i iluzije te želi preko nas praviti mostove. Ne samo vatikanska, nego i zapadna diplomacija općenito i danas preko naših poslušnika stalno nas gura u zagrljaj sa Srbima da bih ih zadržali na “ovoj strani”, da nebi otišli prema istoku, gdje duhovno pripadaju. I tako Srbi po bizantskoj tradiciji vagaju i ucjenjuju!

 

Vidjet ćemo u skoroj budućnosti koliko će Srbi upregnuti Vatikan u svoju igru da bi preko ponovnog suđenja Stepincu sudili svim “ustašama”, a to su svi Hrvati koji su htjeli i borili se za svoju samostalnu hrvatsku državu. Njima je problem država Hrvatska, ova ili bilo koja druga, a “slučaj” blaženog Alojzija Stepinaca je samo još jedna prigoda koju žele iskoristit protiv Hrvata i države Hrvatske. Nažalost, papa Franjo i vatikanska diplomacija je tu “naletila” i, valja očekivati, da će biti iskorištena kao i šezdesetih godina. Ne će to stajati puno njih, nego nas Hrvate! Ako ništa drugo, gubimo i gubit ćemo vrijeme “zabaljajući se” srpskim lažima kojima je izvor nepresušan.

 

Ante Čuvalo

Hrvatsko slovo, god. XXI, br. 1068, 9. listopada 2015

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Mons. A. Casaroli i M. Morača podpisuju Protokol 1966.

 

Kriza s migrantima : Ovo je svojevrsna invazija kojoj se ne vidi kraja

Ovo je svojevrsna invazija kojoj se ne vidi kraja

Rijeka ljudi što svakodnevno pristiže u Europu s Bliskog istoka/Jugozapadne Azije je u ovom trenutku humanitarni problem i, nema dvojbe, tu treba priskočiti u pmoć. Treba se pobrinuti za svakodnevne potrebe tih ljudi, posebice za djecu, starce i žene. To je u čemu se svi slažemo i očito je da to ljudi dobre volje i provode u djelo. Zatim dolazi ono teže i kompliciranije: što su uzroci ovog kaosa, jesu li to politički ili ekonomski emigranti, tko sve trguje i zarađuje na ovim ljudima, tko im je obećao da je Njemačka “obećana zemlja”, tko se sve pridružuje ovoj najezdi, posljedice njihova dolaska (kratkoročne i dugoročne)…, i zatim donošenje odluka što i kako poduzeti. Glede ovih pitanja izbile su na površinu velike razlike među europskim političarima, analitičarima i narodom općenito, a to je bilo i za očekivati. Ovo je svojevrsna invazija kojoj se ne vidi kraja.

Mi smo, nažalost, ne tako davno gledali na tv ekranima prave ratne zbjegove iz Vukovara i drugih mjesta, ali ovo danas nisu te slike (i dobro je da nisu). Vidimo uglavnom mlade i sposobne ljude, muškarce. Ne bježe oni zasigurno jer im je lijepo u rodnom kraju, ali ovaj masovni bijeg nije rješenje problema od kojih bježe. Na jednoj strani, njihov egzodus imat će trajne posljedice za njihovu domovinu kao i njihova “najezda” u EU i njezine članice.

Zvuči vrlo humano i politički korektno, na primjer, “propovijedati”: otvorite granice i nek narod dolazi. Svi ste dobro došli. To je, navodno, jedino humano i “europsko” rješenje. Humanost iz fotelja, bojim se, dovest će do još gorih problema, od destabilizacije društva i gospodarstva u mjestima gdje te mase dođu, do mržnje i sukoba. Lako je teoretizirati kako bi bilo humano i lijepo ovo ili ono. Treba biti realan i otovren u tim procjenama i nastojati sagledati trenutačne ljudske probleme kao i posljedice, kratkoročne i dugoročne, a ne samo bacati politički korektnu maglu. Na primjer, na sinoćnjem “Otvorenom” koga smo mogli vidjeti i čuti nego nam nametnute “dežurne vertikale duha” Ž. Puhovskog i S. Sarnavaku (uz dvojicu imigranata)! Jesu li to jedini glasovi u Hrvatskoj, jedina savjest, jedna mjerila po kojima bi trebali se vladati i donositi odluke? Ova tragična ljudska priča i teška situacija zaslužuju bolje!

1Znam ja što znači biti emigrant i imigrant. Prošao sam, kao i na tisuće drugih, logore, ispitivanja (talijanske) policije i Interpola, i tek potom sam dobio političiki azil. Svaki dan su iz logora u Trstu “marice” vraćale ljude do granice i predavali ih Titu, tada se govorilo da ih “prodaju” za kubik daske. Trebalo je proći kroz podulji proces useljenja u Ameriku, imati sponzora, dobrotvornim društvima koja su plaćala kartu trebalo je vratiti novac itd. Država na nas nije potrošila ni dolara. Trebalo je dokazati da zaslužujemo utočište i da nećemo biti na teret društvu nego da imamo potencijal doprinijeti društvu koje nas prihvaća. Nitko nije otvarao granice izbjeglicama poslije Drugog svjetskog rata i poručio „samo dođite“. Živilo se po logorima godinama. Sjećam se da sam još neke starije zatekao (1966.) u logoru koje nitko nije htio!

Sve normalne države u koje narod doseljuje moraju imati uvid i kontrolu tko i zašto doseljuje, jer u suprotnom doći će do negativnih posljedice i za migrante i domaće pučanstvo. Osim toga, jedno je kad bježe pojedinci i manje skupine, a drugo je ovaj pokret masa. Naravno, kao i u svakoj masi, uz normalne ljudi to ima nepoželjnih elemenata. Bilo bi glupo očekivati da radikalne islamske snage nisu poslale i ne šalju svoje simpatizere unutar ovog pohoda na zapad. To je važno sigurnosno pitanje.

Lako je postaviti se politički korektno, a ne biti spreman ili ne imati odgovornost snositi posljedice ovih događanja. Države koje nisu “luka jele ni lukom smrdile” sad moraju snositi teret bliskoistočnih tragedija koje su dio ne samo geopolitike velikih sila, nego i inter-islamskih sukoba čije su vođe pronašle prikladan vakum moći da zarate sa svim svojim neistomišljenicima i “nevjernicima”. Treba imati na umu da u ovim masama postoje pripadnici različitih sukobljenih islamskih struja i vjerskih intepretacija pa se može očekivati da s njima pristignu i međusobni sukobi i u dijaspori. Kako čujemo, salafisam je najbrži rastući muslimanski pokret u Njemačkoj. Zato svi imigranti prolaze kroz proces selektiranja i nema razloga da i svi ovi koji pristižu en masse ne prođu kroz “rešeto” kao i svi mi koji smo emigrirali. Ali koliko se može zamjetiti ovi emigranti, ili dobar broj njih, su spremni platiti svoj put u zemlju koju su oni sami odredili za svoj cilj i zahtjevaju da ih se tamo odvede. Ako ne, onda čak i prijete ili se podiže pitanje europske (ne)humanosti kao ucjena. Izbjeglice općenito, posebice ratne, su sretne da se mogu negdje skloniti da bi sačuvale glavu, djecu i obitelj. Izgleda mi da u ovom slučaju bježe ratnici, a djeca, žene i stari su ostali negdje u ratnim zonama.

Dobro je poznato je da je Hrvatska zemlja iseljenika, ali bila je ona i utočište useljenika. Zato Hrvati imaju veliko iskustvo s emigracijama i imigracijama. Pogledajte Hrvate u Austriji, Mađarskoj, Rumunjskoj, Novom svijetu, diljem Europe… Svagdje su se odlično integrirali i oni su bogatstvo zemlje u kojima žive. A u hrvatske zemlje dolazili su imigranti ne samo tijekom Domovinskog rata, nego i u doba osmanskih osvajanja i kasnije. I većina doseljenih se odlično integrirala u hrvatsko društvo. Oni su postali blago ove zemlje i hrvatske kulture. Ali, nažalost, imamo i slučaj da iz jedne skupine tih nekadašnjih imigranata neki ni danas ne žele prihvatiti Hrvatsku kao svoju domovinu. Čak su podigli rat protiv nje i njezine neovisnosti za interes d2rugih.

Dakle, kad se govori o integracijama imigranata davnih i današnjih svi se ne integiraju jednako, a neki ne žele nikako. Takvi očekuju, pa i zahtijevaju, da se domaćin i njegove vrednote i kultura mijenjaju prema došljacima, a ne suprotno. U ime manjinskih prava, naravno! Nije ovo slučaj samo u Hrvatskoj nego na puno strana. Dakle, treba procjenjivati tko sve dolazi s namjerom da se zaista integrira u društvo gdje dolazi, a tko želi nametati svoje nazore i vrednote tamo gdje dolazi.

Nažalost, imamo mi i tragično iskustvo kada je više stotina tisuća hrvatskih migranata nakon 2. svjetskog rata vraćeno u ruke Titinih “antifašista” i većina ih je pobijana. Hrvatske emigrante je Udba ubijala sve do kraja 1980-tih. Te tragedije ni danas u Hrvatskoj nije popularno spominjati da ne bi uvrijedili one koji su ih pobili i one koji opravdavaju taj režim, dakle i zločine. Ovo napominjem jer naši najgrlatiji pobornici humanizma i prava migranata danas bili su dio opresivnog režima ili ga još brane i veličaju.

3Mi koji smo bili emigranti i potom cijeli život bili “doseljenici” s ljubavlju i simpatijom gledamo na sve prognane i progonjene, ali smo i realisti. Imamo iskustvo s procesima useljavanja i integracije u durge kultrne, rase, etničke i vjerske sredine. Iskusli smo i pozitvnu i negativnu stranu seljenja. Dakle, iz iskustva napominjem, vrlo je važno da oni koji danas donose odluke o ovim ljudima koji su u svojim glavama zacrtali cilj i žele da im se pomogne, i to pod hitno, stići do njega, u prvom redu da se pobrinu za njihove ljudske svakodnevne potrebe, a u donošenju važnih odluka o njihovoj budućnosti da budu razumni, trezveni, realni i državnički, da ne “prelamaju preko koljena”, jer posljedice njihovih odluka biti će važne i durgoročne za Hrvatsku i Europu.

 

Ante Čuvalo

http://www.hkv.hr

Objavljeno: 17. rujna 2015.