CRTICE IZ POVIJESTI HRVATA U AMERICI

Od Šibenika do New Yorka – „bez šolda“

umbri Bilo je to početkom 20. stoljeća kad se iz Hrvatske i drugih zemlja srednje i južne Europe masovno išlo tražiti sreću u Americi.  Išlo se iz potrebe – iz želje za kruhom i slobodom, vjerovalo se onima koji su prodavali ne samo putne karte nego i „maglu“, išlo se jer „svi idu“, a išlo i samo da se ide….
Tjelesno dobro razvijen, okretan i bistar momčić Božo Gicano iz Šibenika je gledao kako ljudi iz njegova mjesta svakodnevno odlaze u tu bajoslovnu Ameriku.  Njegov stariji prijatelj Srećko (vjerojatno rođak) već je bio u New Yorku, gradu koji je služio kao vrata tisućama novodošljaka na novi kontinent i u novi život.  Naravno, i Božo je sanjao kako će mu život biti sretan i lijep u tom velikom i bogatom svijetu, te čvrsto odluči poći preko oceana.  Njegova upornost i dobra sreća su ga na neobičan način dovele do željenog cilja.  Božino putovanje postade čak i atrakcija za novinare.  O njemu New York Times objavi članak na temelju kojeg su ove crtice i napisane.
Božin prvi pokušaj odlaska u svijet završio je neuspješno.  Naime, radi njegove upornosti, otac mu je jednog dana dao 100 forinti i svoj blagoslov, i dečko krene u Ameriku, ali se Božo ubrzo vratio doma.  Navodno ga je netko pokrao prije nego je stigao do mjesta polaska u daleki svijet.  Ostade praznih džepova, pa kamo će nego ćaći i materi.  Tko zna, možda je mali negdje novac i potrošio čim je kliznio ispod očeve kontrole.  Bilo kako bilo, novaca više nije bilo, a Boži se išlo u svijet.  Zato se on odluči prošvercovati do Amerike.  Mora da je mali bio „na vraga umetnut“!  Nekako se dočepa Trsta i tu se potajno ukrca na istoimeni brod do Aleksandrije u Egiptu.  Ali šta će on u Egipatu, on je pošao u Ameriku!  U Aleksandriji se prošvecuje na brod Fabyan i stigne u Liverpool u svibnju 1902.  Znao je Božo odakle brodovi redovito plove u New York.  Tu se nekako provuče bez karte na brod Saxonia, koji je polazio u New York.  Ali, na nesreću, otkriju ga i izbace s broda.  Dvadeset tegobnih dana je Božo proveo u Liverpoolu črkajući sretan trenutak.  Možemo samo zamisliti kako mu je bilo samu i bez „kinte“ u džepu u tuđem svijetu, ali velika želja za Amerikom mu je zasigurno pomogla izdržati sve nezgode.
Božin drugi pokušaj ukrcavanja bio je sretniji: nekako se prošvercao na Umbriu, tada jedan od najvećih i najpoznatijih putničkih brodova koji su redovito plovili od Liverpoola do NewYorka i natrag.  Ukrcao se u pola noći 13. lipnja 1902., dan prije nego je Umbria zaplovila preko Atlantika.  Božo se sakrio u kotao pomoćnog motora („donkey engine“) koji se upotrebljavao za destiliranje vode, ali samo u rijetkim slučajevima.  Božo je imao sreću da do takve potrebe nije došlo, jer da jest, to bi ga stajalo života.  Ipak je netko od putnika znao da je on na brodu i gdje se sakrivao, te mu je donosio komadiće kruha i kavu da bi preživio.  Je li to bio neki naš Jure, Mate, Ante… kome se Božo povjerio, tko zna.  Šestog dana plovidbe, na pučini Atlantika, jedan od brodskih inžinjera slučajno otkrije Božu u mračnoj i vrućoj kotlovnici.  Po izlasku na palubu, zamazanu i poderanu, netko od putnika mu je čak darovao odijelo, da momak pristojno izgleda.  Kad ga je uprava broda počela ispitivati nitko ga nije razumio niti su znali kojim jezikom govori.  Što će od njega nego ga povesti dalje, ta ne će ga baciti u more.  I tako naš Božo besplatno stigne do cilja, u New York, gdje ga predadoše službenicima imigracijskog centra na Ellis Islandu, kroz koji su tad prolazile na stotine tisuća imigranta godišnje.
Božo se sad našao u rukama onih koji odlučuju hoće li zakoraciti u zemlju o kojoj je sanjao ili će ga vratiti odakle je i došao.  U prvim trenucima su pomislili da je Mađar.  Ali, na Božinu sreću, tu se ubrzo nađe imigracijski inspektor George E. Schubert, koji otpočne s njim razgovarati i, na radost Božinu, Schubert veli kolegama, nije ovaj dečko Mađar, nego je došao iz Šibenika u Dalmaciji, iz grada u kojem sam i ja rođen.  Kakva slučajnost i sreća!  Od tog trenutka sve se odvijalo brzo i dobro.  Božine su se želje ispunile bolje nego je i sanjao.
Your browser may not support display of this image.Kad je šef ureda na Ellis Islandu, gospodin Williams, čuo priču o Božinu putovanju i da je pošao prijatelju Felixu/Srećku/ Gicanu u New Yorku rekao je da ovakav dečko, nakon tolikih napora da bi stigao u Ameriku, zaslužuje da ga se odmah pusti otići njegovu prijatelju Srećku i da može slobodno ostati u Americi.  Ali Božo nije imao Srećkovu adresu.  Jedino je znao da živi u New Yorku.  Ali Gospodin Schubert je znao za naseobine hrvatskih imigranata u gradu, a jedna od njih je bila i naseobina Dalmatinaca u Harlemu.  U roku od sat vremena Schubert je pronašao gdje Srećko stanuje, te povede Božu vlakom od Treće avenije do 111. ulice, zatim su pošli pješice do zgrade broj 2099 na Drugoj aveniji i na trećem katu nađu na okupu skupinu imigranata.  Kad su se došljaci pojavili na vratima, onaj najkrupniji među iznenađenim „domaćinima“ skoči, te sav uzbuđen počne vikati: „Božo, Božo“ i objeručke zagrli novodošlog „Amerikanca“.  Možemo samo zamisliti Božinu radost da je nakon toliko muke i „snalaženja“ mogao zagrliti svog prijatelja Srećka u dalekom New Yorku, kamo se uputio iz rodnog im Šibenika bez novčića u džepu.  Je li Božu sreća pratila u Americi kao što ga pratila do Amerike, ostaje zagonetka.
Ante Čuvalo – Chicago
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Ellis Island & New York početkom 20. stoljeća

Jottings about Croatians in America

Josip F. Mikulec

Tireless World Hiker

Some one-hundred years ago, the American press (and, I’m sure, elsewhere as well), reported on the then young, and I must say, very brave Croatian adventurer, Joža Mikulec.  He set out to circumnavigate the globe on foot in the span of five years.  With the start of this journey, Joža, one might say, became a perpetual wanderer.  Mostly hiking, he traveled the world some 28 years and achieved a degree of fame for having collected more than 30,000 autographs of world-famous people.  From time-to-time, some of the more notable American newspapers kept track of his wanderings across this globe of ours.

I haven’t noticed that this interesting, if not especially notable Croatian was mentioned among his fellow Croatians—at least not through the past decades or so.  I haven’t investigated as to how much was written about him in the Croatian press of the time.  I’ll leave that to those in Croatia who might be interested in his story.  Let this brief glance at Mikulec serve as my contribution to a fuller biography of this American Croatian who, by all accounts, was a restless soul who was always ready to break-in a new pair of shoes.

Joža Mikulec first caught my eye as I was searching trough some microfilm images of the Chicago Hrvatska Zastava  (The Croatian Banner), dated the 24th of January, 1908. The Banner carried a translation of an article that appeared in the Star Journal from Pueblo, Colorado, dated the 23rd of November, 1908.  Joseph Mikulec came through Pueblo at the time, and the Journal carried the story of his journey from Zagreb to Pueblo.

Among other facts, the article stated that Mikulec, a “young Croatian,” had arrived in Pueblo.  He had entered into an agreement with Matica Hrvatska (Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society) in Zagreb to hike 25,000 miles in the course of five years, and, upon completion of his trek that he would set to paper his journey for them. Matica, in return, would award him 50,000 crowns (c.$10,000 at the time) and also publish his account. The Star Journal stated that Josip was to have sent his report to Matica each and every week updating his journey.

Mikulec departed Zagreb on the 5th of February, 1906 and by the time he arrived in Pueblo, he had walked 15,800 miles. He had already exceeded his plan by 800 miles. Mikulec set out on his journey without any sort of material support. He simply sold picture postcards along the way so that he could have enough cash to feed himself. One could add, he found many kind and generous people along the way who were willing to come to his aid.

The Mikulec’s path took him across Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. He set out from Portugal by way of boat to Cape Town in Africa. From Cape Town he set sail for Argentina. He intended to cross from Mendoza into Chile, but, because of intense cold and snow in the Andes, he set out for Buenos Aires instead. Mikulec encountered particular difficulties when crossing the Argentinean Pampas. Besides the unfavorable terrain for hiking, and the lack of food and water, he was beset by robbers as well. That was toward the end of 1907. While in Buenos Aires, Mikulec came into contact with the richest Croatian in Argentina, namely, the ship-owner, Nikola Mihanović. Mihanović was most welcoming to him.

From Buenos Aires, Mikulec set out for Montevideo and then on to the North through Brazil (Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Vitoria, and Bahia). Once again, he was robbed while in Brazil, however, it was the mosquitoes that gave him the biggest pain. He set out from Brazil as a deckhand on a steamer bound for the U.S. He arrived in Philadelphia and from there, he set out for Baltimore and Washington. Leaving Washington, he set out through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, part of Ohio, onto Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and into Colorado. Wherever he traveled, he sought out the autograph of important people and state and civic officials. He would ask that they affix the official seal of their jurisdiction to the signed autograph. He had a special book made just for that purpose, and he guarded it against loss faithfully.

Colorado’s Star Journal article printed his comments of praise for America and the Americans. They mentioned that he arrived in Springs, Colorado on the 22nd of November, 1908, and that he would temporarily reside with Nikola Badovinac. After leaving the company of Badovinac, Mikulec continued his journey toward the western shores and on into Portland. From Portland he planned to set out for Australia and from there to Japan, across Asia, and on through Siberia by way of train to St. Petersburg, Russia.

I have not succeeded in finding a description of Mikulec’s journey to Portland and beyond. However, I did find an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated the 29th of July, 1910, wherein they report that the world traveler, Mikulec, arrived in Chicago on the 27th of July, and that the local Croatians were preparing a welcoming party for him on the 30th of July, in the National Hall on 18th Street. Mikulec would then set out for Springfield, capital city of Illinois, so as to obtain the autograph of the Governor just as he had done in all the states that he had traversed. The article also mentioned that he had an authentic autograph of President Taft. The article went on to say that Mikulec had worn out 42 pairs of shoes and that his journey was on schedule as he had planned and agreed to with Matica Hrvatska. In fact, he had said, he was 19 days ahead of his planned schedule.

From this “encounter” with Mikulec in Chicago, I was unable to thus far learn anything more about his journey until his reappearance in Chicago. The Tribune once again on the 21st of February, 1917—a full seven years later—writes that Mikulec once again arrived on foot in Chicago, and that his agreement with Matica Hrvatska was abrogated because he failed to fulfill his promise to journalize his travels as promised. They said that instead, he wrote what might be seen as a romanticized novel. This time they asserted that he had worn out 36 pairs of shoes. This would mean that Mikulec, despite his disagreement with Matica, continued his journey nonetheless and that he started anew to record how many shoes he had worn out. Meanwhile, the more important announcement in the article was the fact that Mikulec, adorned the length of his body with various medals of honor that he had received, had made a visit to the City Clerk’s Office of Marriage Registrations so that he could marry his fiancée, Mary Medrić. Mary was 36 years old at the time, and Mikulec was three years her senior. The author of the article notes that Mikulec, at the time of his registration, “is now plain Chicago ‘Joe’ instead of Croatian ‘Joža’,” and that the young couple would now reside at 1332 W. 18th Street, in Chicago. At the time, that part of Chicago had a very large Croatian community. One would think that Joe Mikulec, now married, would have settled down to a “normal” life among his fellow Croatians in Chicago. However, the newsman deceived himself: Mikulec remained the “Croatian Joža” and continued his adventurous journey across the world.

The New York Times, dated the 2nd of September, 1923, carried an article about Joseph Mikulec, the “collector of autographs.” The article goes on to relate that Mikulec had already traversed the globe twice, and had gathered autographs of important personages wherever he traveled. He found himself in New York city at the time of the article along with his leather-bound Autograph Book. The book, at the time, weighed a full 57 pounds. John F. Hylan, the mayor of New York, had signed Mikulec’s book as well as those who were well-known persons among the industrialists, artists, politicians, and others. The signatures of American Presidents, T. Roosevelt, W. H. Taft, W. Wilson, W. G. Hardy, C. Coolidge, along with other notables such as Lloyd George, Lord Curzon, the Prince of Wales, the President of China, Admiral Togo, J. Pierpont Morgan, and various senators, governors, ambassadors, etc. The article goes on to give a brief account of Mikulec’s first journey across the world, and adds that Joža’s full time residence was now (September, 1923) in Philadelphia. It goes on to say that he became a naturalized citizen in December of 1910, and that from 1910 through 1923 he journeyed through Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, India, Egypt, the Holy Land, and South Africa. Mikulec told the press that he was quite exhausted and that he wished to settle down into a “normal” life on some farm in the plains of America that has fertile soil. Along with this wish, he hoped to see his book of autographs in some appropriate museum. Meanwhile, wanderlust, and, perhaps, a new pair of shoes, won out again, and Mikulec set out from New York for the West.

Within two months time, (20th of November, 1923) the New York Times once again carried a somewhat longer article about Mikulec. The article goes on to say that Mikulec arrived once again in New York along with his 58 pound, 2,896 page book of autographs. Upon entering the city, Joža immediately set out for the Rosenbach rare book store so as to attempt to sell his book of autographs. His main reason for doing so was that he was exhausted of lugging that heavy book around. It is interesting to note that the New York Times newsman accompanied Mikulec to Rosenbach’s firm. The newsman reports that Mikulec bemoaned the fact that he had not succeeded in gathering so much as a single autograph of any monarch. He sought $10,000 for his collection. Dr. Rosenbach felt the collection was worth at least that amount, but that he did not traffic in such books. He, however, did suggest that Mikulec seek out Henry E. Huntington in California who, perhaps, might be interested in buying his collection. Hand on forehead, Mikulec bemoaned the fact that he had collected Huntington’s autograph but that it had not occurred to him to offer Huntington his collection.

We meet Mikulec once again on the pages of the New York Times, on the 30th of October, 1927. This time, the paper simply published a picture of Mikulec showing his book of autographs to admirers on the streets of Berlin. Clearly, Joža did not find a buyer for his collection of autographs as he had hoped to do in New York some four years earlier. Instead, Mikulec continued his wandering across the world.

The last article I was able to find about Mikulec was also in the New York Times, dated the 29th of April, 1928. The headline read: “Man 28 Years on Tour Collects Autographs.” The sub-head read: “Wheels 55-Pound Volume Containing 30,000 Signatures in a Special Carriage.” The article says that Mikulec was 50 years old at the time, that he was from Croatia, that he set out across the world some 28 years ago and gathered autographs of renowned people along the entire way including the autographs of several European rulers, and nine American Presidents as well as those of well-known artists, writers, actors, scientists, politicians, religious leaders, etc. He lugged his collection in a specially designed cart, but had to haul the book on his back as he visited various offices of those whose autograph he sought. Mikulec said that he had traversed hundreds of thousands of miles on foot gathering these autographs and that he would continue his journey.

Thanks to the internet (boards.ancestry.co.uk) we found the following facts: Josip Franjo Mikulec was born on the 15th of January, 1878, in the village of Krušljevo selo, Croatia, near Zagreb. His father was Josip Mikulec, and his mother was Kata Novosel from the same village. The internet also informs us that Mikulec arrived in America in 1905, that he married Anna Stiopu on the 20th of June, 1908 in Westfield Chautauqua County, NY, and that on his application for citizenship (September, 1910) he indicated that he was not married.

The New York Times article dated the 2nd of September, 1923 states that he was born in Stubice, Croatia. Krušljevo selo is near Stubičke toplice.  What is more, the article of 1928 states that Mikulec had been on his journey for the past 28 years. If that is accurate, then we must assume that he could have arrived in America even before 1905 and then returned to Croatia to enter into his agreement with Matica Hrvatska. He set out on that agreed-to journey on the 5th of February, 1906. It is reasonable to assume that Mikulec was somewhat acquainted with the world prior to his setting out on his hike across the world. As far as his marriage is concerned, if he did in fact enter into a union with the Rumanian poetess, Anna Stiopu, who also set out on foot across the world in May of 1905, it would seem that the marriage of these two world-travelers did not last long; meanwhile, we are told that Josip married in Chicago in 1917.

As I said at the start, this is no more than a small excerpt of the life of a Croatian who wandered the world endlessly. Many questions arise such as those that ask: where and how did he die; did he have any children; what all lands did he hike through; do any reports that he was to have sent to Matica Hrvatska exist, that is, if they ever existed at all; and especially pertinent, whatever happened to his book of collected autographs? Should all the details of Joža’s travels ever become know, and the whereabouts of his book of collected autographs, the name of Josip Mikulec would and should find its way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

It is my hope that this article will arouse the interest and attention of its readers about this tireless Croatian adventurer and hiker, and that this article will inspire someone to seek out, record, and publish a fuller biography of Josip Franjo Mikulec, as well as to discover where and when he ended his life and what became of his treasured book of autographs gathered over so many years.

Ante Čuvalo—Chicago

Translated by Duško Čondić from Croatian into English

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* Picture 1 – in possession of Ante Čuvalo
* Picture 2 – taken from the web: boards.ancestry.co.uk
* I am grateful to the staff of the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library in Pueblo for providing me with a copy of the Mikulec article from Star Journal, November 23, 1908.

Crtice iz povijesti Hrvata u Americi

JOSIP F. MIKULEC

NEUMORNI PJEŠAK KUGLOM ZEMALJSKOM

Unazad oko stotinu godina američke (vjerujem i drugdje) novine pisale su o tad mladom, moramo reći i veoma hrabrom, hrvatskom pustolovu Joži Mikulcu, koji se uputio pješice za pet godina obići kuglu zemaljsku. Tim putovanjem, moglo bi se reći, Joža postaje vječiti putnik. Putovao je širom kugle zemaljske, najviše pješice, barem 28 godina i proslavio se prikupljanjem preko 30.000 autografa raznih svjetskih uglednika. Neka važnija američka glasila pratila su, s vremena na vrijeme, njegov hod kroz ovaj naš bijeli svijet.

Nisam zapazio da se ovog, ako ne baš znamenitog, ali svakako zanimljivog Hrvata spominjalo među nama u Americi, svakako ne zadnjih desetljeća. Koliko se o njemu pisalo u Hrvatskoj u njegovo vrijeme i kasnije, nisam imao prigodu istraživati. To ostavljam znatiželjnima u domovini. Ovo moje upoznavanje s Mikulcem nek bude doprinos budućoj potpunijoj biografiji toga američkog Hrvata nemirna duha i uvijek spremna derati đonove novih cipela.

Joža Mikulec mi je prvi put „zapeo za oko“ kad sam pretraživao mikrofilmove čikaške Hrvatske Zastave i u broju od 24. prosinca 1908. pročitao prijevod članka iz dnevnika Star Journal od 23. studenog 1908 iz Pueblo, Colorado. Naime, koncem studenog 1908. Josip Mikulec je boravio u tom gradu i novine su donijele podulje izvješće o njegovu putovanju pješice od Zagreba do Puebla.

Među ostalim se veli, da je tih dana u grad Pueblo stigao Mikulec „mlad Hrvat“, koji je napravio ugovor s Maticom hrvatskom u Zagrebu (njezinim nakladnim zavodom) da će za pet godina proći 25.000 milja pješice i nakon putovanja napisati putopis, a Matica će mu isplatiti 50.000 kruna i izdati knjigu. Zato je Josip, veli novina, tokom putovanja svaki tjedan slao izvješće Matici o prevaljenom putu.

Mikulec je pošao iz Zagreba 5. veljače 1906. i do dolaska u Pueblo prevalio 15.800 milja, te da je nadmašio svoj plan i raspored putovanja za 800 milja. Putovao je bez ikakvih materijalnih sredstava, jedino je prodavao razglednice i od toga kupovao hranu. A moglo bi se zasigurno dodati, da je bilo uvijk dobrih i darežljivih ljudi koji su mu priskakali u pomoć.

Put iz Hrvatske našeg je Jožu vodio preko Italije, Francuske i Španjolske do Portugala. Otud je brodom otplovio u Cape Town, a odatle je otputovao u Argentinu. Htio je preći iz Mendoze u Čile, ali zbog hladnoće i snijega u Andama, pošao je prema Buenos Airesu. Posebice je imao problema preko provincije Pampa; osim neprikladna terena za hodanje, trpio je nestašicu hrane i vode, a usput su ga orobili i razbojnici. Bilo je to 1907. godine. U Buenos Airesu Mikulec se susreo s najbogatijim Hrvatom u Argentini, brodovlasnikom Nikolom Mihanovićem, koji ga je vrlo gostoljubivo primio.

Iz Buenos Airesa je otišao u Montevideo, zatim prema sjeveru kroz Brazil (Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Vitoria, Bahia). I u Brazilu je bio orobljen, ali su mu tamo najviše jada zadavali komarci. U Brazilu se, kao radnik, ukrcao na parobrod i stigao u Philadelphiu, a odatle je pošao u Baltimor i Washington – kroz Virginiju, Zapadnu Virginiju, Kentucky i dio Ohia, Indianu, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas do Colorada. Kamo god je prolazio, tražio je razne uglednije osobe da mu dadu autograf i, u slučaju državnih i drugih službenika, da udare pečat grada, općine ili države u njegovu knjigu napravljenu za tu svrhu, a koju je pažljivo čuvao.

Članak iz Puebla donosi i Josipove pohvale Americi i Amerikancima, te veli da je Mikulec 22. studenog stigao u mjesto Springs, Colorado, i da će odsjesti kod Nikole Badovinca, te zatim nastaviti put prema zapadnoj obali, a iz Portlanda je trebao poći u Australiju, pa preko Japana (Azije), te sibriskim vlakom preko Rusije do St. Petersburga.

Opis Josipova putovanja do Portlanda i dalje još nisam uspio pronaći, ali sam pronašao članak u Chicago Daily Tribune (29. srpnja 1910.) u kojem piše da je svjetski putnik Mikulec stigao u Chicago 27. srpnja, da Hrvati za njega priređuju doček za nedjelju 30. srpnja u Nacionalnom domu na 18. ulici, te da zatim odlazi u Springfield, glavni grad države Illinois, da bi od guvernera mogao dobiti autograf, kao što je dobio od drugih guvernera kroz čije države je prolazio. Također se navodi da je imao autentičan autograf predsjednika Amerike Tafta. Članak završava da je Mikulec dotad poderao 42 para cipela i da mu putovanje ide po planu kako je ugovorio s Maticom, i čak da je je 19 dana ispred planiranog vremena.

Iza ovog mog „susreta“ s Mikulcem u Chicagu, nisam mogao ništa pobliže saznati o nastavku njegova putovanja do njegove ponovne pojave u Chicagu. Gore spomenuta čikaška novina od 21. veljače 1917. (znači blizu sedam godina kasnije) piše da je Mikulec ponovo dopješačio u Chicago, da mu je propao ugovor s Maticom hrvatskom jer nije ispunio obećanja, da je počeo pisati putopis, ali se to izrodilo u romantični roman. Ovaj put se navodi da je poderao 36 pari cipela, što bi značilo da je Mikulec, premda nije ispunio Matičine uvjete, nastavio pješačiti i dalje, te valjda iznova počeo brojati koliko je poderao cipela. Ali najvažnija vijest u članku je ta da je Mikulec dan prije, „nakićen duzinom“ raznih odličja na grudima, sa svojom zaručnicom Mary Medrić posjetio gradski ured za vađenje vjenčanih dozvola. Ona je tada imala 36, a on 39 godina. Pisac članka veli da je Mikulec tad postao „obični čikaški ‘Joe’, umjesto hrvatskog ‘Jože’“ i da će mladi par živjeti na adresi 1332 W. 18. ulica, Chicago. Usput, u tom dijelu grada bila je jedna od tadašnjih velikih hrvatskih naseobina. Dakle, bilo bi za očekivati da se sad Joe Mikulec oženio, smirio i nastavio „normalan“ život među Hrvatima u ovom gradu. Ali, novinar se prevario, on je i dalje ostao „hrvatski Joža“ i nastavio putovati svijetom.

Naime, New York Times od 2. rujna 1923. donosi članak o Josephu Mikulcu, „sakupljaču autografa“. Članak ističe da je Mikulec dva puta obišao svijet pješice, sakupljajući autografe uglednijih osoba kamogod je prolazio. Tih dana je bio u New Yorku i njegovu ogromnu, kožom uvezanu knjigu s autografima (koja je tad težila 57 funti) potpisao je gradonačelnik John F. Hylan, kao i važnije osobe iz poslovnih krugova, kazališta, politike i drugi. U knjizi su bili potpisi američkih predsjednika T. Roosevelta, W.H. Tafta, W. Wilsona, W.G. Hardya i C. Coolidgea, kao i mnogih drugih uglednika: Lloyd George, Lord Curzona, Princa od Walesa, predsjednika Kine, admirla Togoa, J. Pierpont Morgana, raznih senatora, guvernera, ambasadora itd. Članak donosi sažetak priče o njegovu prvom putovanju i dodaje da je Jožin stalan boravak u to vrijeme (rujan 1923.) bio u Philadelphiji i da je u prosincu 1910 postao američki državljan, te da je otada, to jest od 1910. do 1923. obišao slijedeće zemlje: Australiju, Novi Zeland, Kinu, Japan, Indiju, Egipat, Svetu Zemlju i Južnu Afriku. Mikulec je za novine izjavio da je već umoran, da se želi smiriti i otpočeti „normalan“ život na kakvoj manjoj farmi u američkim plodnim ravnicama, a da bi knjigu sa autografima želio vidjeti u kakvu muzeju. Ali, ipak je želja za putovanjem pobijedila pa je Joža tada iz New Yorka krenuo prema zapadu.

Samo dva i pol mjeseca kasnije (20. studenog 1923.) New York Times opet donosi članak o Joži, ovaj put malo podulje štivo. Veli se da je Joža ponovo stigao u New York noseći svoju kjigu od 2.896 stranica i tešku 58 funti. Joža je došao u grad i odmah posjetio tvrtku Rosenbach, trgovinu rijetkih knjiga, da bih unovčio dragocjene autografe. Glavni mu je razlog za prodaju bio umor od nosanja te velike knjižurine. Zanimljivo je da ga je u trgovinu pratio novinar New York Timesa, koji opisuje Jožu i njegovo podrijetlo. Novinar dalje piše da je Joža vječiti putnik, nabraja iskupljene autografe znameniti ljudi, kako se Joža žali da nije uspio dobit autograf ni jednog kralja, itd. Mikulec je tražio 10.000 dolara za knjigu a vlasnik Dr. Rosenbach je prosudio da je to realna cijena, ali da se on ne bavi takvim knjigama, nego mu je preporučio posjetiti Henry E. Huntingtona u Kaliforniji, koji bi možda otkupio knjigu ove vrste. Mikulec se uhvatio za glavu i kazao da ima Huntingtonov autograf, ali da mu nije palo na pamet ponuditi mu knjigu kad je bio kod njega.

Jožu Mikulca ponovo susrećemo u New York Timesu 30. listopada 1927., ali ovaj put novina donosi samo njegovu fotografiju na kojoj znatiželjnim prolaznicima na ulicama Berlina pokazuje svoju ogromnu knjigu autografa. To znači da Joža nije prodao knjigu i da se nije smirio, kako je priželjkivao dok je bio u New Yorku četiri godine ranije, nego je nasatavio putovati svijetom.

Zadnji članak o njemu kojeg sam mogao pronaći u New York Timesu je od 29. travnja 1928., a naslovljen je „Čovjek 28 godina na turneji skupljanja autografa“. Podnaslov glasi: „Vozi u posebnim kolicima 55 funti težak svezak koji sadrži 30.000 potpisa.“ Članak navodi da je Joža tada imao 50 godina, da je iz Hrvatske, da je prije 28 godina pošao po svijetu skupljajući autografe poznatih osoba i da knjiga sadrži potpise nekoliko europskih vladara, devet američkih predsjednika i mnogobrojnih glasovitih umjetnika, pisaca, glumaca, znanastvenika, poltičara, vjerksih uglednika itd. Knjigu je vozio na posebno sagrađenim kolicima, ali ju je ipak morao na leđima nositi u urede osobama od kojih je tražio potpis. Josip izjavljuje da je prošao stotine tisuća milja i da nastavlja svoje putovanje svijetom prikupljajući autografe.

Zahvaljujući internetu (boards.ancestry.co.uk) nalazimo slijedeće podatke: Josip Franjo Mikulec rođen je 15. siječnja 1878. u selu Krušljevu od oca Josipa Mikulca i majke Kate r. Novosel iz istog sela. Također se, u istom izvoru, navodi da je Mikulec došao u Ameriku 1905. i da je oženio Annu Stiopu 20. lipnja 1908. u Westfield, Chautauqua County, NY, a da na molbi za američko državljanstvo (rujan 1910.) piše da nije oženjen.

U članku u New York Timesu od 2. rujna 1923. se kaže da je rođen u Stubici, a Krušljevu selo je nedaleko od Stubičkih toplica. Nadalje, članak iz 1928. navodi da Josip putuje već 28 godina, ako je to točno onda je on mogao biti u Americi i prije 1905., a zatim se vratiti u Hrvatsku i dogovarati s Maticom putovanje oko svijeta, koje je otpočeo 5. veljače 1906. Vjerovati je da je Joža ipak bio barem malo upoznao svijet prije nego se poduzeo poći pješice oko kugle zemaljske. Što se tiče ženidbe, ako je sklopio brak sa Annom Stiopu, rumunjskom pjesnikinjom koja je iz Rumunjske krenula pješice u svijet u svibnju 1905., izgleda da brak dvoje svjetskih lutalica nije trajao dugo i Josip se ponovo ženi 1917. u Chicagu.

Kako rekoh na početku, ovo je samo mali doprinos biografiji jednog Hrvata, vječitog pješaka lutalice po svijetu. Nameću se mnoga pitanja na koja bi trebalo odgovoriti, kao na primjer: gdje i kada je umro, da li je imao potomstvo, koje je sve zemlje propješačio, da li postoje izvješća koja je slao (ako je slao) Matici, a posebice gdje i kako je završila ta ogromna Jožina knjiga s autografima? Ako se pronađu detalji o Jožinim putovanjima i autografima, vjerujem da bi njegovo ime moglo i trebalo biti u knjizi Guinnes World Records.

Nadam se da sam člančićem barem malo probudio pozornost čitatelja na ovoga hrvatskog neumornog svjetskog putnika pješaka, te da će ovaj dopis nekoga ponukati istražiti, napisati i objaviti potpuniji životopis Josipa Franje Mikulca te pronaći gdje je i kako su završili on i njegovo blago kojeg je sakupljao toliko godina.

Ante Čuvalo – Chicago

***

* Slika 1.- u vlasništvu A. Čuvalo
* Slika 2. – uzeta sa web-a: boards.ancestry.co.uk
* Zahvaljujem osoblju u Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library in Pueblo za kopiju clanka o Josipu Mikulec iz Star Journal, 23. studenog, 1908.

Our Declaration – A 1916 declaration by Croatian and Slovene Priests in America

Our Declaration

(A 1916 declaration by Croatian and Slovene Priests in America)

As Croatians and sons of the nation of Croatia, and of our fraternal Slovene lands, from the very start, we hereby announce and confirm our political stance as regards our homeland during these bellicose times—times which hold seen and unforeseen consequences.

We stand on the national, state, historical, and written rights of the Nation of Croatia and her people, which are contained, among others, in the Coronation Oaths taken by Croatian rulers as far back as 1490 and beyond, in fact, up to this very day; these rights are also contained in the Electoral Charter from the year 1527, as well as in the Pragmatic Sanction dated 1712. In short, we stand by the program as represented by the Party of Right from the year 1894 and as developed and promulgated long since by the apostle of Croatianism, Dr. Ante Starčević, and as adopted by our Slovene brothers at the gathering in Trsat.

We believe in the strength, national awareness, and patriotism of the Croatian and Slovene Peoples whom much more powerful enemies were unable to crush, as witnessed by 14 centuries of our history. In that already realized past, we look to our freedom and independence.

We believe that the Croatians and Slovenes, who are bound by faith, history, culture, and a contemporary national consciousness, factors that are powerful features in the nation of all peoples, comprise one whole group of peoples in southern Europe, and, as such, have all the necessary prerequisites for independence.

We know that from its inception in 924, the Croatian Nation, stretching from Mt. Triglav to the Drina and from the Danube to the Adriatic has never ceased to be, not even in its darkest days in the past, nor in more recent times from 1790 to the present. She has remained as a Nation and as a People, and will continue to remain so. Her loyal sons will not traffic with her rights.

We know that official Austria and Hungary, Turkey and Italy, aided by Great Britain, have, through the centuries, encroached and truncated the sacred rights and freedom of the Croatian People. The past history of the Croatians and Slovenes has condemned publicly and continues to condemn those very same peoples for all the wrongs and violations of their rights. Through the centuries we have fought and stood firm for our rights, rights which we will continue to value and honor, and which we ourselves must and will ultimately accomplish. Those who doubt the abilities of people to free themselves, thereby deny existence to them. Peoples who gain their freedom at the hands of others soon become their subordinates.

In the name of humanity and the right of a People to exist, we strongly condemn Hungary’s politics of force, and Austria’s approval of such politics. We seek the right to freely develop and will continue to seek the right for Croatians to retain their own lands and sea, as well as all their other rights. In the name of all the Croatian and Slovene blood spilt on the battlefields of Europe, we will seek that all wrongs against us be corrected, for that spilt blood cries out for revenge from God who is the avenger of all wrongs.

Herein we assert that the so-called Serbian element which was born and lives in the nation of Croatia during the past fifty years, or, better said, since they emerged on the political scene in Croatia, has always and faithfully stood on the side and at the service of the enemies of Croatia—especially the Hungarians, Austrians, and Italians. As to the question of the Slavs in general, and the South-Slavs in particular, our thoughts are guided by those expressed in the writings of our Croatian statesmen—patriots in life and work—Eugen Kvaternik and Ante Starčević, as well as by the mournful experience related to this question which befell our great Bishop Strossmajer from the very founding of the Jugoslav Academy and up to the very year 1885. When Bishop Strossmajer wanted to visit Serbia, the response of the Serbian government was that it could not guarantee his life or safety if he were to visit his flock which lived in Serbia. The fanatcism of the Serbs, a particular characteristic of theirs, was previously seen as being strong, as based on their oft repeated syntagm: “Serbians all and everywhere.” That fanaticism is now even stronger. According to their notion and teaching, all the Balkan Peoples should be subsumed by Serbia. We do not wish to become Serbs, or Yugoslavs, nor Serbo-Croatians, but we will remain Croatians, brothers to all remaining Slavs; however, each in his own house, in his own land, and within the scope of his own rights. From the time our forefathers settled in our present homeland, we have evolved and we have created our own history in this manner.

With Italy’s entrance into the present war, she commended the insane Austrian politics against the Croatians and Slovenes as related to their Littoral and Dalmatia. By being favorable to the Italian minority, Austria prepared the way for the Italian aggression. The French, English, and Russian Trilateral Memo of Understanding promised Italy ownership of the Adriatic and possession of our shore and the lands between Trieste and beyond. We most strongly condemn this traitorous act carried out by the great powers. England did not offer the Island of Malta to Italy as a reward for entering the war—an island she rules but which is inhabited only by Italians; nor did she offer them greater rights in the Mediterranean wherein she and the French rule, and even less, dominion in Egypt. France did not grant Italy the territories of Savoy or part of Tunisia where more than one and one-half million Italians live. Russia, which has interests in the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, acceded to the promises made to Italy such that no one asked Serbia or Montenegro at the time the promise was made to Italy; rather, they simply informed it (Serbia) of what they sold to Italy. These who thunder and rule in Europe did not offer that which, by virtue of the principles governing nationhood, they should have offered; rather, they gifted the very eyes and door of Croatian state and people to treacherous and enemy Italy, so that she might close the door and eyes of the Croatian Nation forever. They offered the bones and flesh of the Croatian and Slovene Peoples at the marketplace so as to buy Italy’s entrance into the war, a war where Croatian and Slovene heroes are dying while defending their home and hearth from the treachery committed against their Peoples by France, England, and Russia. In the announcements to their peoples, these powers stated that they are going to war for sake of freeing small nations. Their history belies such an announcement since they never freed so much as one People. To the contrary, they, in fact, always opposed such freedom; nor should they castigate Germany or Austria in that regard. They promised foreigners a full two-thirds of Croatian lands such that one-third of its 110,000 square kilometers will cease to remain part of Croatia once the fundamentals of the Trilateral Agreement and Italy take place…“They divided my garments and cast lots for them.”

A free and united Croatia will order its international and political relationships, and will enter into agreements and laws according to the principle which states: “regnum regno non praescribit leges”—“One nation does not prescribe laws to another.”

Previous [pro-Yugoslav] declarations, starting with that from the gathering in Chicago on the 10th of March, 1915, fail to mention any sort of guarantees sought by an independent People as a condition of their independence; quite to the contrary, they obliterate the basis for individual and national existence for the Croatians. They divest Croatia of its past, its rights, its national name, and its national significance.

Thus far, there is no authoritative declaration on anyone’s part that Croatia will remain independent in “Yugoslavia”; to the contrary, representatives of the parties that have the authority to issue such a declaration made pronouncements at their gatherings and in their speeches in favor of a monarchical Serbia. We do not want the nation of the Croatian People to be swallowed by a unitary “Yugoslavia,” or better said, a Greater Serbia, a Croatia that is at least three centuries older than the nation of Serbia. We remain loyal to God, to our People and Homeland, and to him to whom our people conveyed their sovereign right to rule, and which persists to this day, and is sustained through the Crown of Croatian rulers.

In conclusion, and in the uncertain position in play on these shores wherein our immigrants live, let the tried and tested words of the defenders of our People’s rights, namely, Dr. Matko Laginje from Istria, representative Stjepan Zagorac from the province of Croatia, Rev. Ivo Prodan from Dalmatia, Bishop Šarić from Bosnia, and Dr. I Kreka, from Kranjska in Slovenia, serve as our guiding beacon.

Let the war end as it will, we do not abrogate our stand; rather, we will seek an Independent Croatian Nation along with all those rights possessed by a sovereign people.

Rev. Dr. E. Kajić

Rev. Pet. Čančarević (after signing the document, he withdrew his name)

Rev. Bosiljko Bekavac

Rev. Ivan Raab

Rev. Ambroz Širca

Rev. D. Krmpotić

Rev. A. Živić

Rev. Leon Josip Medić

Rev. Anton Sojar

Rev. Francis Podgoršek

Rev. Irenej Petričak

Rev. Mihael Tušek

Rev. Fr. Racinger

Rev. M. Hranilović

Rev. Valentin Mihelić

Nasa izjava 1916 – Izjava skupine hrvatskih i slovenskih svećenika u Americi

NAŠA IZJAVA“

I

K NAŠOJ IZJAVI“

STANOVIŠTE HRVATSKOG I SLOVENAČKOG SVEĆENSTVA

U AMERICI GLEDOM NA JUGOSLAVENSKU,

BOLJE VELIKO-SRPSKU PROPAGANDU U AMERICI.

CINE 25 CENTI

TISAK „NARODNOG LISTA“, NEW YORK, N.Y.

NAKLADA: CROATIAN PRINTING & PUBLISHING CO. N.Y.

1916

PREDGOVOR

Odkada je rat u Evropi započeo, nije hrvatsko svećenstvo izjavilo nigdje otvoreno svoje stanovište gledom na jugoslavensku, bolje veliko-srbsku propagandu, koja je u ovoj zemlji medju Hrvatima operirala punom parom, da prikže svojim gospodarem i najamnikom, e su Hrvati voljni i željni, da se odreknu Hrvatskog imena i povijesti, te da su voljni postati Jugoslaveni, bolje Srbi i podanici dinastije Karagjorgjevića.

To isto svećenstvo je dapače bilo prikazivano s jedne strane po Grškoviću, kao da je solidarno s njime, — dok se s druge strane tvrdilo za njeke svećenike, da su za Švabu i Magjare.

To je prisililo pod izjavu podpisane Hrvate i Slovence svećenike u Americi, da izadju sa „Našom Izjavom“, i kašnje „K našoj izjavi“.

NAŠA IZJAVA

Na prvom mjestu kano Hrvati i sinovi domovine Hrvatske i bratskih slovenačkih zemalja naglasujemo i ovim utvrdjujemo ovdje naše političko stanovište prema našoj domovini u ova ratna vremena, koja nose u sebi vidljive i nevidljive jošte posljedice.

Mi stojimo na narodnim, državnim, povjesnim i pisanim pravima države Hrvatske i njezinog naroda, koja se sadržavaju medju ostalim u krunidbenim zavjernicama hrvatskih vladara sve od god. 1490., i dalje sve do današnjega doba; zatim u izbornoj diplomi od god. 1527., te u pragmatičkoj sankciji od god. 1712. U kratko: mi stojimo na programu stranke prava od god. 1894., koga je u svojim spisima i govorima odavno razvio i dokazao apostol hrvatstva Dr. Ante Starčević, i koga na trsatskoj skupštini prihvatiše braća Slovenci.

Vjerujemo u snagu, narodnu svijest i domoljublje hrvatskoga i slovenačkoga naroda, za što nam svjedoči njegova prošlost od 14 vijekova, u kojoj ga mnogo jači neprijatelji skršiti nisu mogli, i na toj prošlosti ostvarenu gledamo njegovu slobodu i nezavisnost.

Vjerujemo, da Hrvati i Slovenci, koje veže vjera, povjest, kultura i suvereni narodni osjećaj, što su moćni faktori u državi svakoga naroda, sačinjavaju jednu cjelovitu skupinu naroda na jugu Europe, i kao takovi imaju sve preduvjete za samostalnost.

Znademo, da hrvatska država od Triglava do Drine, od Dunava do Jadrana, nije nikada od postanka svoga g. 924., prestala, pa niti u najcrnijim vremenima u dalekoj prošlosti ni u bližoj sadašnjosti od god. 1790. do danas. Ona je ostala kao država i kao narod, a takova će i ostati. Vjerni sinovi njezini neće pazariti sa njezinim pravima.

Znademo, da su službena Austrija i Magjarska, Turska i Italija, kojima je pomagala i Velika Englezka, kroz vjekove navaljivale i krnjile sveta prava i slobodu hrvatskog naroda. Prošlost Hrvata i Slovenaca odsudila je, odsudjuje neprestano i danas jošte živući narod sve krivice i oskvrnjivanja prava njegovih javnom odusdom i borbom za ista, zato uz sve ove nepravde i krivice ovaj narod ne traži osloboditelja niti ih očekuje izvana, nego iz samoga sebe, jer vjeruje u sebe da imade jakosti i samopouzdanja u radu i ustrajnosti u borbi za slobodu, koju vodi kroz stoljeća, koju će cijeniti i štovati, jer će ju sam izvojštiti. Oni, koji dvoje o sposobnosti naroda, da bi se sam oslobodio, niječu njegov opstanak. Narodi, kojima drugi dadu slobodu, postaju njihovi malodobnici.

Postupak magjarske nasilne politike i austrijsko odobravanje ove politike odsudjujemo najoštrije, i u ime čovječnosti i prava jednog naroda na opstanak i slobodan razvitak tražimo i tražiti ćemo, da Hrvatima ostanu njihove zemlje i more, njihova prava; sve krivice da se isprave, jer sadanja prolita hrvatska i slovenačka krv na bojnim poljima Europe vapi za osvetom Bogu osvetniku svake krivice.

Tvrdimo ovdje, da je takozvani srpski elemenat, koji živi i koji se je rodio u državi Hrvatskoj, kroz zadnjih pedeset godina, ili bolje odkada je stupio na političko polje u Hrvatskoj, uvijek i vjerno [je] stajao na strani i u službi neprijatelja Hrvatske, osobito Magjara, Austrije i Talijana. U pitanju Slavenstva uopće, Jugoslavenstva napose, vode nas misli izražene u spisima hrvatskih političara, patriota životom i radom, vrlih pokojnika Eugena Kvaternika i Ante Starčevića, te žalostno iskustvo koga je doživio u ovom pitanju veliki vladika Strossmajer od vremena osnutka Jugoslavenske akademije pak do god. 1885., kad je htio pohoditi Srbiju kano biskup svojih ovaca, koje živiše u Srbiji, no srpska vlada mu je pisala, da ne jamči za njegov život ako u pohode dodje. Fanatizam Srba, koji je njihovo osobito obilježje, bijaše prije jak, jer „Srbi svi i svuda“, sada je još jači; u njemu bi se morali po njihovoj nauci utopiti svi narodi na Balkanu. Mi ne idemo ni u Srbe, ni u Jugoslavne, ni u Srbo-Hrvate, nego ostajemo Hrvati, braća ostalim Slavenima, ali svaki u svojoj kući, i na svojoj zemlji i u opsegu svojih prava, jer smo se tako razvijali i povijest svoju stvarali od početka naseljenja pradjedova naših u sadanju domovinu našu.

Italija je svojim ulaskom u sadanji rat odsudila nepravednu, ludu austrijsku politiku, koju je Austrija vodila proti Hrvatima i Slovencima u Primorju i Dalmaciji, jer pogodjujući talijanskoj manjini Austrija je poripravila polje talijanskoj navali. Trojni sporazum, Franceska, Engleska i Rusija obećaše Italiji gospodstvo u Jadranu i posjed naše obale i zemlje od Trsta dalje. Ovaj prodajni rad koga izvedoše ove velevlasti mi najoštrije osudjujemo. Engleska nije Italiji ponudila za nagradu ulaza u rat, otoke Maltu u Sredozmenom moru, kojim ona gospodari, a na kome stanuju sami Talijani; niti većega prava u Sredozemnom moru, kjim vladaju Englezi i Francuzi, a još manje posjeda u Egiptu. Franceska ne dade joj pokrajine Savoie, niti Dijela Tunisa, u kojoj žive više od milijun i pol Talijana. Rusija, koja imade interesa u kraljevinama Srbiji i Crnoj Gori pristala je na obećanje Italiji, tako, da Srbije ni Crne Gore nitko ni pitao nije, kad je obećanje učinjeno, nego joj javiše što su Italiji prodali. Ovi koji sada grme i vedre u Europi ne ponudiše onoga, što bi po načelu narodnosti morali, nego su nevjernoj i neprijateljskoj Italiji dali vrata i oči hrvatske države i naroda, da ih ona zatvori i zasliepi za uvijeke. Kosti i meso hrvatskog i slovenskog naroda iznesoše na pazar, da kupe Italiju za rat, u kome pogibaju hrvatski i slovenski junaci braneći prag svoj od izdaje, koju počiniše Franceska, Engleska i Rusija na njihovom narodu. U svojim proglasima narodu za rat oglasiše one, da idu u rat za oslobodjenje malenih naroda. Povijest njihova jest protivna ovom proglasu, jer nijednoga naroda nikada oslobodile nisu, nego protivno, slobodu im uništile, te ne trebaju Njemačke i Austrije koriti radi toga. Obećaše tudjinu pune dvije trećine hrvatskih zemalja, tako da od 110.000 četvornih kilometara zemlje neće ostati Hrvatskoj niti jedna trećina, kada se izvede osnova ili ugovor izmedju trojnog sporazuma i Italije. „Razdijeliše haljine moje, i kockaše se za nje“.

Slobodna i ujedinjena Hrvatska u uredjivanju svojih medjunarodnih pravnih i političkih odnošaja ugovarati će i sklapati će ugovore i zakone po načlu: „regnum regno non praescribit leges“. Država državi ne propisuje zakona.

Dosadanje rezolucije počamši sa onom na sastanku u Chicagu od 10. ožujka 1915. ne spominju nikakvih garancija, koje samostalan narod kano uvjete svojoj samostalnosti traži, nego naprotiv držimo, da one ruše temelj hrvatskog individualnoga i državnoga opstanka, Hrvatsku lišavaju njezine prošlosti, njezinih prava, narodnoga imena i njezinoga državnoga značaja.

Autoritativne izjave do sada nema od nijedne strane, da će u „Jugoslaviji“ ostati samostalna Hrvatska, nego naprotiv izaslanici jedne strane, koja imade autoritet da to izjavi, izjavljivaše se na sastancima i u njihovim govorima, za monarhičnu veliku Srbiju. U jedinstvenoj državi „Jugoslaviji“ ili točnije Velikoj Srbiji nećemo da se gubi država hrvatskoga naroda, koja je barem tri vijeka starija od države Srba. Vjerni Bogu, narodu i domovini svojoj, te onomu, na koga je narod prenesao svoje suvereno pravo vladati, koje se odrazuje u kruni hrvatskih vladara.

Na koncu u ovom nejasnom položaju, koji se nalazi u ovim našim stranama, gdje mi iseljenici živimo, nama neka budu luči vodilicom patriotizam i riječi prokušanih boraca za narodna prava gg. Dra. Matka Laginje iz Istrije, zastupnika Stjepana Zagorca iz Hrvatske, don Ive Prodana iz Dalmacije, biskupa Šarića iz Bosne, te Dra. I. Kreka iz Kranjske.

Svršio se rat kako mu drago, mi se ne odričemo, već ćemo tražiti hrvatsku samostalnu državu sa svim njezinim pravima, koja imade suvereni narod.

Rev. Dr. E. Kajić

Rev. Pet. Čančarević (opozvao)

Rev. B. Bekavac

Rev. Ivan Raab

Rev. Ambroz Širca

Rev. D. Krmpotić

Rev. A. Živić

Rev. Leon Josip Medić

Rev. Anton Sojar

Rev. Francis Podgoršek

Rev. I. Petričak

Rev. Mihael Tušek

Rev. Fr. Racinger

Rev. M. Hranilović

Rev. Valentin Mihelić

Gornja „Izjava“ je podpuno jasna, nu, pošto je naravno, da se u takvim izjavama ili rezolucijama gleda biti što kraći, pokazala se potreba, da se „Našoj Izjavi“ dodade njeki komentar ili tumač. Tim više bila je to potreba, što protivnički listovi nas objedjuju, da mi ne želimo slobodu; da hoćemo ropstvo i slično. Pod naslovom „K Našoj Izjavi“ donosimo takovi komentar, u kojem neprijateljima političke samostalnosnosti naše Hrvatske domovine i trgovcima, njezinih prava dokazujemo, kako će izgledati sloboda naša drage domovine, koju naši politički protivnici očekuju od Četvrtoga Sporazuma (Entente).

K NAŠOJ IZJAVI

Hrvatski i slovenski svećenici i podpisani na „Našoj Izjavi“, izdali su tu „Izjavu“ skroz spontano bez ikakvih debata, sastanaka, poticanja, mamljenja, obećavanja ili prijetnja. Predložilo se pismeno, u kojemu smislu treba da izdamo izjavu i svi jednoglasno rekoše, da je takova izjava nuždna i da je svaki osjećao nuždu i dužnost slične izjave. Poznati izmamljivač političkih izjava, Don Niko Gršković, znade ponajbolje, da se od hrvatskih svećenika ne izmamljuju tako lahko jugoslavenske bolje slavosrpske izjave. To ga je poučio naš chicažki sastanak, na koji je došao sa svim svojim aparatima i spremama, kojemu su prisustvovali svi oni, na koje je on mogao računati, pa je ipak otišao duga nosa. Doista je bilo žalostno i tragično za toga trgovca političkih izjava, kada morade otići sa sastanka bez željno željkovane izjave, za koju već bio siguran i za koju je već bio sastavio kabelgram na londonski komite, što je glasio: Svi hrvatski svećenici su za jugoslaviju. To je moja zasluga. Molim da se uvaži, pa da bude što obilnija nagrada itd.

Jest, reći će kogod, al Gršković je ipak izmamio izjavu i s njom se pohvalio. Na ovaj prigovor mora se svakako ogovoriti. Gršković i njegova dva trabanta gg. Relić i Medin su najprije iznijeli čisto slavosrpsku rezoluciju, u kojoj traže ujedinjenje troimenoga naroda (srpskog, hrvatskog i slovenačkog) u jednu jedinstvenu državu — Jugoslaviju, dakako pod žezlom Karagjorgjevića.

Kad je ta rezolucija s indignacijom odbijena, da se oslabi utisak blamaže, trebalo je ma što poduzeti, jer inače s bogom ugled Don Nike pred cijelim Srpstvom i Slavosrpstvom; do vraga dinari, rublje pa i lire, kano i obećane časti u „njihovom kraljevstvu“ — Jugoslaviji. I Don Niko se dade na posao, da nas „uhvati u rijči“.

Donio drugu rezoluciju tako kapcioznu, da je mislio i u sebi uskliknuo: „eureka“! Ali i opet razočaranje, jer se rezolucija kljaštrila sve dotle, dok nije iz nje odstranjen svaki trag i miris Slavosrpštine.

U usvojenoj rezoluciji mi tražimo: 1. podpunu slobodu vjere; 2. ekonomsko osobodjenje i 3. ujedinjenje hrvatskog naroda.

Po sebi se razumije, da nismo mislili na ovaku vjersku slobodu, koju imadu katolici u Rusiji, Francuzkoj ili Srbiji. Takvu vjersku slobodu si mogu želiti naši katolički Slavosrbi, ali nikada pravi Hrvati katolici. Mi znamo, da je u Austro-Ugarskoj Monarhiji pdpuna sloboda vjerska, ali nije podpune slobode u upravi ckve, a osobito baš katoličke, u koju se država mješa. Samo takvu slobodu smo razumjeli u toj rezoluciji i nju zahtjevamo.

Ekonomičku t. j. financijalnu i gospodarstvenu slobodu traže svi pošteni i rodoljubni Hrvati, a osobito podpuno financijalno oslobodjenje od Magjarske, u koje nas je bacila nesretna nagodba sa Magjarskom.

To je program, odnosno esencijalni dio programa stranke prava, na koji mi prisižemo; dočim glavni korifeji naših Slavosrba rekrutiraju se iz koalicije, koja je magjarofilska i koja taj sistem naše financijalne podredjenosti brani i podržava. Zato Don Gršković nije s tim učinio nikakve usluge Potočnjaku magjaronu-koalicinašu i njegovoj prodajničkoj družbi.

Pod ujedinjenjem hrvatskog naroda rekli smo izrično i mislili ujedinjenje svih hrvatskih i slovenačkih zemalja u jednu nezavisnu i slobodnu državu, koja će si sama gospodariti, kojoj neće biti gospodarom ni Austrija, ni Magjarska, pa makar imala s njima zajedeničkog vladara (personalnu uniju). Eto, to je čisti program hrvatske stranke prava.

Eto, to je naš ideal, to znači ona naša izjava sastavljena na chikažkom sastanku. Na ovu rezoluciju je pristao i Gršković i njegova družba, osim Rev. Relića, kojemu je bilo prevruće na sastanku pa se izgubio prije vremena.

Rev. Gršković se pohvalio u svojoj novini, kako nas je naveo da se zamjerimo Austriji i veselo si tro ruke, a ne vidi sjerotinja, da se on blamirao prama svojim gospodarima. Da se mi ne bojimo zamjeriti Austro-Ugarskoj, predbaciti joj i najstrožije odsuditi njezine griehe počinjene na hrvatskom narodu, to mu je najrječitiji dokaz „Naša Izjava“.

ZAŠTO SMO IZDALI „NAŠU IZJAVU“?

Lovac i trgovac političkih izjava i rezolucija Don Niko Gršković i družina — tutti quanti — Slavosrbi neprestance nas trpali u slavensku torbu, da nas, kad dodje tome vrijeme, iztresu pred kralja Petra, a traže onda nagradu; da cijeli svijet vidi, da su se Hrvati odrekli svoje političke eksistencije i svakoga prava na nju, te se zadovoljuju s time da smiju pod dinastijom Karagjorgjevića zvati se Jugoslaveni. Tako su to zamislili „Srbi svi i svuda“; tako se imala ostvariti srpska „zavetna misao“. U tu svrhu se drže skupštine, stvaraju rezolucije, plaćaju mnogobrojne novine pisane ćirilicom i latinicom. Sve to vode i provode prodani Slavosrbi i Srbi.

Skupe po 200-300 ljudi (većinom svagdje Srbi) i onda se deru kao cirkuski pelivani: evo vidite ljudi, čujte narode, počujte Alirci, sav hrvaski narod se odriče svoje političke individualnosti i eksistencije i prelazi u jugoslavenstvo i jugoslavensku državu pod dinastijom Petra Mrkonjića. Takove se izjave dobro rentiraju kristalizirajući se u zlatne rublje i dinare, a bogme i u lire.

To je njima svejedno! Eksistencija je majke Hrvatske dobro unovčena. Dobije li još kogod mitru i prefekturu u kojme „Srezu“ velike Srbije (n. pr. Boduliju), onda je trud nagradjen. Dušo moja, šta hoćeš više!

Kad se započeo grozni rat mislili su naši handl-tandleri: ode Austrija k vragu, Hrvatsku će dobiti Srbija i posrbiti će nas istim načinom i sredstvima kano i macedonske Bugare, drži se Veljo, pametan budi, Veljo, ugrabi što možeš, unovči, što se dade unovčiti. Oni isti, koji su prije dvije godine prodavali (za peštanske tiz korone) hrvatsku morsku obalu Magjarima, stavljaju se na čelo toj izdajničkoj trgovini sa eksistencijom naše hrvatske domovine, koja jim ne bi smjela nikada ni kosti primiti.

Ne traže i ne tražiše izdajice svoje domovine, da jim Srbi poštuju prava i integritet domovine, da ne tiču u njezinu samostalnost. Ne, oni ne smjedoše o tome ni pisnuti, jer znaju kakva bi jih plaća čekala od „braće“ Srba (naime onaka, kakva i bugarske rodoljube u Macedoniji), kad bi „vrag odnio Austriju“ (to je njihov obljubljeni izraz) a hrvatske zemlje došle pod Srbiju. Ne, oni to ne traže, nego se odriču slobode i samostalnosti svoje domovine za Judinu plaću.

Jedanput sam rekao, Don Niki Grškoviću ovo: deder Ti poruči Srbima, da ne tiču u naše hrvatske zemlje, deder reci Srbima, da ćemo samo onda biti prijatelji i sretni, kad bude cielokupna ujedinjena Hrvatska slobodna uz slobodnu Srbiju, pa da čuješ odgovor! I on mi reče: „hoću, sutra ću to napisati“. Dobro, onda ću Ti skinuti kapu, rekoh ja. Ali Don Niko nije držao svoje obećanje; njemu se nije izplaćalo ovakovo stanovište. U slučaju, da je Austro-Ugarska doista propala, kao što smo i mislili na početku rata, onda bi svaki rodoljub Hrvat stavio se na gornje stanovište i pred cijelim svijetom to tražio za svoju domovinu; ali to se ne slaže sa srpskom zavetnom misli, kojoj se dadoše u službu naši prodani Slavosrbi ovdje i u domovini.

Mi smo u „Našoj Izjavi“ to stanovište zauzeli u slučaju pobjede Aliiraca, onim riječima: „Svršio rat kako mu drago, mi se ne odričemo, već ćemo tražiti hrvatsku samostalnu državu sa svim njezinim pravima, koja imade suvereni narod.“ Mi smo govorili iz duše i srca svih rodoljubnih Hrvata, koji neće pazariti sa pravima svog naroda i svoje domovine; mi smo u „Našoj Izjavi“ govorili iz duše stotina hiljada junačkih hrvatskih vojnika, koji se bore i ginu kano lavovli sa Talijanom, kojeg su pozvali u pomoć na račun naših hrvatskih i slovenačkih zemalja, oni isti, od kojih se naši prodani jugoslaveni nadaju spasu, a da budu još veće i smješnije budale, pišu i govore narodu, da će Velika Srbija uzprkos cijeloj Ententi iztjerati Talijane iz naših zemalja, ni pedlja, a ma baš ni pedlja joj neće dati od naših zemalja. Ako to nije vrhunac budalaštine i pljuska zdravom razumu hrvaskog naroda, onda nemože drugo ništa na svijetu biti. Organ Don Nike Grškovića je čak i to pisao, da je austro-talijanski rat samo finta, jer da su oni u zdogovoru kako će nas (Jugoslavene) zajednički uništiti.

„Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu“ neće dopustiti, da Talijani dobiju ma jednu stopu naših zemalja“, pišu i govore bez prestanka naši Slavosrbi; a sami znaju, da taj jugoslavenski odbor nevrijedi obsolutno ništa, da on nema upliva na vlade entente ni koliko zadnji fakin na londonskoj ulici.

Kad bi oni što vrijedili, dala bi jim bogata Englezka bar kruha da se najedu i da ga neprosjače od amerikanskih siromašnih radnika. Sav rad njihov je prosti humbug i mamipara. Oni bi sigurno razvikali svaki svoj uspjeh na sve strane svijeta, ali sav njihov rad i uspjeh sastoji se u varanju sirmonašnog naroda i mamljenju dolara od njega.

Ententa bi dala ne samo hrvatske nego i srpske zemlje i istome Kinezu, ako bi ju samo htjeo i mogao spasiti iz kaše, u kojoj se nalazi.

I tomu odboru je poslao Don Niko Gršković novac „Hrvatskog Saveza“, koji su rodoljubni hrvatski radnici smetali u korist Hrvatske, a nipošto za fakine, koji nam prodavaju domovinu Srbima i Talijanima.

Jest, oni nas prodavaju upravo i Talijanima, jer biti uz Ententu, koja nas prodaje Talijanima i onda od nje spas očekivati znači direktno prodavati svoju domovinu. Od ovoga se nemožete oprati, Vi Slavosrbi i izdajice Hrvatske, i kad bi još toliko gnjusoba na nas mogli izbaciti u svojim stovarištima laži i prostote, koliko ste jih dosada izbacitli. Vi to niste nikada ni pokušali s kakvim dokazom, nego samo gnjusobama i glupim rekriminacijama. Vaša Jugoslavenska — bolje velikosrpska — politika jest politika mrcinaša i vi leaderi te politike ovdje i u Londonu jeste pravi mrcinaši. Činilo Vam se da je Austro-Ugarska Monarkija a dosljedno i u njoj i naša mila domovina Hrvatska mrcina, na koju će se, na sada, spustiti srpski i talijanski orlovi strvinaši, da joj raznesu izmučeno tijelo. Da vam zapane koji komad toga tijela, Vi ste se s njima skupa sletili na tu umišljenu strvinu. Vama dovikuje hrvatski narod, koji se bori kano div proti svojima mrcinašima, dovikujemo mi i Hrvatska sa sv. Pismom: „jao vama psima (vodjama), koji skupa s vucima trčite i razdirete stado moje“. Jao vama mrcinaši!

Vi znate, da Srbi nemisle iskreno s nama; vi znate, da nam svojataju sve naše zemlje i niječu nam isto ime naše; vi znate, da Srbi u svojim nastavnim (školskim) knjigama to čine. Vi to niste nikada pobili, a ni kušali opovrći, jer je to opovrći nemoguće. Izmedju hiljada evo vam jedan dokaz srpskoga šovinizma. Srpski profesor B. [ovo je vjerujemo V./Vladimir, a ne B.] Karić, izdao je „Zemljopis za IV. razr. osnovnih škola“, štampom kraljevske državne srpske štamparije u Beogradu. Sada čujte samo njekoliko mjesta iz te školske srpske knjige:

Odmah na prvoj strani u sadržaju čitamo, da su srpske zemlje: Kraljevina Srbija, Bosna i Hercegovina, Stara Srbija, Makedonija, Crna Gora, Dalmacija, Istra, Hrvatska i Slavonija, Bačka i Banat“.

No kud i kamo je taj školski zemljopis zanimljiviji u pojedinim odjelima, gdje je govor o našim hrvatskim zemljama, koje prikazuje kao čiste srpske zemlje. Da se vidi, kuda je pohlepnost Srba težila, mi ćemo doslovno citirati, kako se nalazi u toj školskoj knjizi.

BOSNA I HERCEGOVINA.

Bosna i Hercegovina su dve srpske zemlje; nahode se u severozapadnom kutu balkanskog poluostrva i sa svih strana okružene su samim srpskim zemljama. Naroda ima u Bosni i Hercegovini na 1,320.000 duša, a to je sve sam Srbin, osim nešto malo cigana, Izraljaca (Jahudija) i doseljenih Nijemaca. Jezik, koji tamošnji Srbi, a naročito Hercegovci govore jest jezik, kakav čitamo u našim divnim narodnim pesmama, dakle najčistiji i naljepši južni govor srpski. Zapadni se govori u samo nekim krajevima prema granici Hrvatske. No Bosanci i Hercegovci i ako su pravi Srbi, na žalost nisu jedne vere (!). Istina, pravoslavnih imade najviše, 572.000, ali imade i muhamedanaca i katolika.

DALMACIJA.

Govoreći o Dalmaciji u toj knjizi, „koja služi mladoj srpčadi za nauku i izobrazbu“ piše se o Dalmaciji ovo:

„Naroda u Dalmaciji imade na 480.000 duša i to je sve sam Srbin. Imade 20.000 Talijana, koji žive po varošima. Velik deo Srba zovu se Hrvatima. Jedna je samo petina naroda pravoslavni, a ostalo su sve katolici… Dalmacija je kraljevina, ali kralja nema, već joj car austro-ugarski postavlja namesnika“.

Govoreći o Dubrovniku posvećuje mu najveću pažnju, pa veli: „Dubrovnik je najstarija srpska varoš, jer joj ima ne malo 1000 godina. Vodila je živu trgovinu po svim srpskim zemljama. Mnogo je slavnih naučnika i književnika srpskih (Pisci: Gundulić, Gjrodjević, Palmotić. Naučnik Bošković, itd.) rodjeno i živelo u Dubrovniku…“

ISTRA.

„U Istri imade 300,000 duša. Od toga broja dolazi 100.000 na Srbe, 43.000 na Slovence, koji su veoma srodni Srbima i 90.000 na Talijane. Bez malo svi su Istrani katolici, nešto samo preko hiljadu duša vere su pravoslavne. Značajno je to,što se u krčkoj eparhiji služba božja služi srpskim jezikom. Sve osnovne škole su talijanske, pa je stoga škola tamošnja Srbima davala vrlo malo znanja. No danas je mnogo bolje, jer imade do stotinu srpskih škola, u kojima se govori srpski jezik.

HRVATSKA I SLAVONIJA.

U Hrvatskoj i Slavoniji osem nešta Nemaca i Madžara sve su to sami Srbi, koji se u severo-zapadnoj Hrvatskoj zovu Hrvati. U Sremu narod govori čistim istočnim govorom srpskim. U ostaloj Hrvatskoj srpski je narod raznolik: Prema Štajerskoj i Kranjskoj su Kajkavci, a u Primorju Čakavci. No književni je jezik južni i istočni govor srpski. Po veri u severo-zapadnoj Hrvatskoj imade katolika, ali idući na jug i istok sve ih je manje, tako da ih u Liki nema nikako, jer su tamo sve samo pravoslavni.“ Govoreći o Fruškoj gori, veli: „Da je to sveta srpska gora, jer da u njoj imade šesnaest srpskih manastira“.

Sve to je popraćeno s ad hoc priregjenim zemljopisnim kartama, samo da se mladeži čim jače utuvi u glavu velikosrpstvo.

I tako smo u kratko iscrpili, kako se o pojedinim zemljama, čisto hrvatskim zemljama uči u srbijanskim školama. No svakako je najkarakterističniji zaglavak cijele knjige pod naslovom:

UKUPNI PREGLED SRPSKIH ZEMALJA.

Ne možemo, a da iz ovog odsjeka, koji je doista najzanimljiviji, i koji nam najjasnije odaje velikosprske težnje ne citiramo ponešto više, nego to u gornjim odsjecima.

„U svim tim zemljama, koje smo nabrojili žive srpski narod, pa smo te zemlje nazvali srpske zemlje. Severnu granicu tih srpskih zemalja čini reka Moriš do svoga ušća u Tisu, a onda ide suva severna granica Bačke, sad nastaje ići Dunavom do ušća Drave pa Dravom do izlaska u Štajersku, odavle Kranjskom do Trsta, pa preko raznih visova do izvora Kupe. Zapadna pako granica teče od Trsta do ušća Drinskog… Srpska zemlja u ovim granicama prostrana je ko Italija i velika ko kraljevina pet puta… U zemljama srpskim, koje se prostiru kraj Jadranskog mora: Istra zapadna Hrvatska, Dalmacija gorske kose idu uporedu s morskom obalom… Prostrane ravnice u srpskoj zemlji su: Podravina, Posavina i Podunavlje… Reke, koje teku srpskim zemljama staču se u tri mora: Jadransko, Belo i Crno more… Jedni od najglavnijih raskrsnica drumskih u srpskoj zemlji jesu: Zagreb, Mostar, Rijeka, Šibenik, Spljet, Dubrovnik i Kotor….

U srpskoj zemlji, u granicama, kojima smo ju ranije obuhvatili, ima naroda 8,760.000 duša, dakle četiri i pol puta toliko, koliko u kraljevini. No u srpskim zemljama ne žive sve samo Srbi, već imade u njoj i prilično velik broj i drugih naroda, a naročito Nemaca, Madžara, Vlaha, Arnauta i Talijana. (Svega samo ne Hrvata!)

Velika većina katoličkih Srba u severnoj Dalmaciji, Hrvatskoj i Istri zovu se Hrvati mesto Srbi. Ali to ne treba nikoga da buni e da pomisli, da su oni neki drugi narod, jer je njihov materinji i narodni jezik pravi srpski jezik. Tako se i muhamedanci u Bosni zovu Turci. Ali to nisu nikakvi Turci, već pravi Srbi. Da su oni pravi Srbi, a ne Turci vidi se otuda, da turski niti ne govore niti znaju, već govore pravim lepim srpskim jezikom, koji su govorili i predci njihovi, dok su još bili hrišćani…“

Dakle ne priznaju nam niti naš hrvatsko ime, već nam kažu, da se tako i Muhamedanci zovu Turcima kano i katolici Hrvatima, t. j. kako Muhamedanci nisu Turci, tako ni katolici u svim srpskim zemljama nisu Hrvati nego zgoljni Srbi. Hrvatu nema mjesta u hrvatskim zemljama. Cigani, Židovi, Talijani i Njemci obstoje i živu, ali Hrvati ne. Ex uno disce omnex. Take su manje više sve srpske školske knjige.

Možete li ovo pobiti, mrcinaši?

Mi vam možemo poslužiti sa stotinama srpskih pisaca i školskih naukovnih knjiga. Zašto nikada vi strvinaši, neopomenete te svoje prijatelje radi te nečuvene bezobraznosti, radi najgadijih i najdrzovitijih insulta? Zar Vam krv nevrije kad čitate i čujete ovo? Zašto šutite mrcinaši? Vi šutite, jer govoriti nesmijete, jer kad bi progovorili, onda ne bi imali mrcinaškog udjela na tijelu naše domovine i hrvatskog naroda — ne bi bilo nagrada.

„Srbi su se promjenili sada“, odgovarate vi. Na temelju čega to tvrdite? Recite nam, tko vam to jamči?

Sve do rata su Srbi tako pisali i govorili a sada se preko noć popravili i odrekli svog šovinizma i priznali Hrvatima pravo na njihove zemlje i na njihovo ime! Samo budala to može vjerovati. Quod gratis assertur, gratis negatur, kažu filozofi. Vi tvrdite svoje ludorije bez dokaza, a to mogu vam samo ludjaci vjerovati. Mi branimo naše stanovište sa nepobitnim dokazima i činjenicama.

Dopustimo za čas, da se ostvari Jugoslavija, pa pogledajmo, kako će ta Jugoslavija izgledati!

Mislim, da će svaka budala znati, da Jugoslavija znači zemlja na jugu, u kojoj stanuju Slaveni. Medju tim Slavenima nalaze se: Bugari, Hrvati, Srbi i Slovenci. Svjesni Bugari niti nemisle o jugoslavenskoj jedinstvenoj državi, ona je za njih najveće ludilo na svijetu. Vaša ćeJugoslavija obuhvaćati Srbe, Hrvate i Slovence. Dakle tri imena. Kojim će se od tih tri imena zvati narod, koji će sačinjavati Jugoslaviju? Hoće li Srbi žrtvovati svoje ime za volju Hrvata i Slovenaca? To Vam mogu samo budale vjerovati. „U Jugoslaviji biti će sva tri imena zadržana“, tvrdite vi. Ali kako će se zvati jezik tog jedinstvenoga troimenoga naroda, kako ga vi zovete? Hoće li to biti jugoslavenski jezik? Nonsense! Kraj svih ludorija koje ste rekli i napisali, ipak nećete uztvrditi, da će se zvati jugoslavenski jezik. Kako će se dakle zvati taj jezik pred cijelim svijetom? Da bude svima pravo, morao bi se zvati: srpsko-hrvatsko-slovenski jezik.

Pitajte, gospodo, sve iskrene Srbe, neka Vam oni odgovore na to pitanje.

Niti će Srbin, niti svijestan Hrvat, niti Slovenac odreći se svog jezika ili točnije svog imena i naziva svog jezika.

Recimo, da je ovo filologiziranje nuzgredna stvar, pa podjimo dalje promatarati Jugoslaviju sa političkoga gledišta.

Kako će izgledati Hrvatska u Jugoslaviji? Odmah u početku mi priznajemo, da smo genetički isti narod sa Srbima i Slovencima, ali politički niti smo bili niti hoćemo da budemo sa Srbima jedan te isti narod, zato smo uztvrdili u „Našoj Izjavi“: „Mi ne idemo ni u Srbe, ni u Jugoslavne, ni u Srbo-Hrvate, nego ostajemo Hrvati, braća ostalim Slavenima, ali svaki u svojoj kući, i na svojoj zemlji i u opsegu svojih prava, jer smo se tako razvijali i povijest svoju stvarali od početka naseljenja pradjedova naših u sadanju domovinu našu.“

Ostvarenje Jugoslavije može se samo zamisliti u slučaju pobjede Aliraca (četvornoga sporazuma), a onda kako će izgledati Hrvatska u Jugoslaviji?

Srbija dobiva: Bosnu, Hercegovinu, Dalmaciju (u koliko neće pripasti Talijanima) i Srijem. Italija dobiva: Istru i sve hrvatske otoke i preostali dio gornje Dalmacije (u koliko neće pripasti Srbima), ona dobiva i neograničeno gospodari hrvatskim morem, tom žilom kucavicom našega života i naše budućnosti. To znači od 110.000 četvornih kilometara, dobre tri četvrtine izgubiti će Hrvatska, na koju će se sletiti kao na strvinu braća Srbi i njihovi saveznici Talijani. Tako ogoljena i oglodana Hrvatska imati će čast, da bude pokrajina u Jugoslaviji, pod dinastijom Karagjorgjevića. Hoće li se ta reliquia reliquiarum (ostatak ostataka) smijeti zvati Hrvatskom? Sudeći po onomu, što su dosada o nama jednodušno i službeno učili Srbi, moramo i o tome podpuno zdvojiti, jer kako znamo, oni priznaju i Cincare u jugoslavenskim (t. j. srpskim) zemljama, ali Hrvate ne.

Djeca i budale mogu vjerovati laskanjima njekih Srba. To je samo zamka, da od hrvatskog naroda izmame političke izjave, kojima se odriču svoje samostalne eksistencije, svojih historičkih i narodnostnih prava i bacaju se u zagrljaj Srbima. Udica se zove Jugoslavija, u kojoj će tobože biti jedinstveni troimeni narod ravnopravan. Ta Jugoslavija nije ništa drugo, nego Velika Srbija. Kaže talijanska poslovica: „che ti accarezza piu di quell’ che suole, o ti ha ingannato or (???) ingannar ti vuole“. Tko ti se laska više nego obično ili te je prevario, ili te hoće prevariti. — Ta se poslovica ovdje ispunjuje.

Srbi nemaju nikakva prava na Bosnu. Sami su priznali, da nemaju historičkog prava na Bosnu i Hercegovinu, ali se pozivaju na narodnostni princip. Nu ni načelo narodnosti neda im toga prava. Po službenoj statistici, koja je sigurno više bila njima u prilog (hvala kratkovidnoj i protuhrvatskoj politici kojekakvih magjarskih Kalaja i Burina), nego Hrvatima, oni su sačinjavali 43 po sto pučanstva; dok Hrvati katoličke i muhamedanske vjere sačinjavaju 50 po sto pučanstva, a ostalo su druge narodnosti, izmedju kojih je najviše španjolskih jevreja (oko 4 po sto cijelokupnog pučanstva). Srbi svojataju sebi Muhamedance onako isto bezobrazno, kako nama Hrvatima niječu i isto naše ime i u samoj užoj Hrvatskoj; — nu, bosanski Muhamedanci nisu nikada bili niti će biti Srbi, oni se sada do jednoga priznaju Hrvatima. Isto tako i bosanski jevreji drže se samo s Hrvatima. Dakle ni po narodnosti oni nemaju pravo na Bosnu i Hercegovinu, ma koliko to trubili i lagali pred cijelim svijetom. A što istom, da rečemo o njihovom prisvajanju Dalmacije i Srijema? To je drzovitost, kojoj nema primjera na svijetu. Nu, kada su po njihovom učenju sve hrvatske zemlje srpske, u kojima ima Cigana, ali ne Hrvata, onda su dosljedni sami sebi i u toj tražbi. Zar Vas nije sram, mrcinaši, zar vi niste izdajice svojega naroda i svoje domovine?

Svi mrcinaši nisu u stanju nam dokazati, da će naša hrvatska domovina bolje izgledati u Jugoslaviji, koju bi stvorila pobjeda Aliiraca.

Da bi braća Srbi srbili po Bosni i drugim hrvatskim zemljama, koje jim naši strvinaši daju, onako, kako su srbili po Bugarskoj Macedoniji — nožem i olovom, o tome nitko nesumnja, tko ih pozna. Što bi bilo od hrvatskog naroda u Bosni i Hercegovini, koji se ne bi htjeo odreći svoga hrvatskoga imena? Vi svi dobro poznajete Srbe, pa nevjerujem da je kod vas bona fides ili tolika naivnost, da sami vjerujete u ono, što učite. Vjerujem da ona njekolicina naroda hrvatskoga, kojeg ste zaveli ovdje u Americi, nije kriva, nego prevarena. Vi Mrcinaši korifeji i prodanici, kada bi ste znali, da Austrija i u njoj naša Domovina nisu strvine, vi bi bili ljuti magjaroni i prodavali Magjarima meso svoje vlastite majke Hrvatske, kako ga sada prodajete Srbima i Talijanima. Kad ste već tako daleko zašli i zaletili se, nema vam povratka, pa zato varate naš biedni radnički narod, jer bi drukčije poskapali od gladi te od mrcinaša postali mrcine.

Srbskih dinara je nestalo već davno, dok druge Ententine vlasti mare za vas i za vaš londonski odbor toliko, koliko za gladne pse na londonskim ulicama, zato vam je jedini spas u zavedenom hrvatskom radniku, nu i to vrelo se brzo suši. Novac „Hrv. Saveza“ ste samovoljno požderali. Grane su se osušile. A šta onda? Idemo da vidimo što ćete sada izmisliti, čim ćete dalje varati hrvatski narod? Kako malo imade naroda u vas povjerenje najjasnije pokazuju kolekte za voj. udove i siročad. Kraj svega toga, da je N.H. Z [Narodna Hrvatska Zajednica, kasnije Hrvatska Bratska Zajednica] uzela u ruke to sabiranje, neide to nikako. A šta je tomu razlog? „Gospodine“, rekoše mi već mnogi, „mi se bojimo, da će taj novac poći onamo, kamo je pošao i novac „Hrv. Saveza“. Ja se bojim, da će gladni mrcinaši iz Londona svakako gledati, da se dočepaju te narodne muke, koju su delegati na zadnjoj konvenciji odredili „za hrvatske udove i siročad“.

Svaki dan čitam u novinama kako Hrvati šalju lijepe svote novaca za naše hrvatske stradalnike, ali ne u fond, koji je pod vlašću mrcinaških pristaša.

Pošto smo podpuno uvjereni, da će Hrvatska izgledati u vašoj Jugoslaviji onako, kako smo gore opisali, t. j. da će biti naše političko samoubojstvo, morali smo u „Našoj Izjavi“ najodlučnije odsuditi tu zamku postavljenu hrvatskom narodu. Mi vam se zahvaljujemo na srpskim i talijanskim osloboditeljima uz tu cijenu. Mi hoćemo „Hrvatsku Hrvatima!“ Mi tražimo onaku Hrvatsku, kakvu traži program stranke prava od g. 1894., koji su program usvojili i braća Slovenci; mi tražimo ujedinjenje svih hrvatskih zemalja u okviru Austro-Ugarske Monarkije; mi tražimo financijalno oslobodjenje od Ugarske; mi tražimo da budemo regnum aequale (jednako slobodna država) u Monarkiji, kano i Magjarska.

„Regnum Regno non praescribit leges“, doviknuli su naši stari Magjarima, to jim i mi dovikujemo. Za to ćemo se boriti i ne sumnjamo, da će svijesni hrvatski narod to svojim vlastitom snagom postići. Naša su prava i pravice okrnjene i gažene, pa smo i zato u „Našoj Izjavi“ digli muževno i neustrašivo naš glas. Mi nismo takovi optimiste, da se nadamo, da će nam rat u slučaju pobjede centralnih vlasti ostvariti podpuno program stranke prava; mi znamo, da hrvatski narod čeka još golema i žilava borba; ali čvrsto se uzdamo, da će naš žilavi narod postići svoja prava, to čvrsto naše uhvanje se osniva na opornoj sili hrvatskog naroda, koju nisu mogli slomiti mnogi jači neprijatelji kroz 9 stoljeća.

Neka se bratski srpski narod mane megalomanskoga šovinizma i sizanja za našim zemljama, neka prestane jednom za uvijek nijekati naše ime, neka ostaje u svojim granicama, pak ćemo se tek onda sporazumiti. Nije li ta šovinistička megalomanija Srba pozvala Rumunje i Grke da satru junački slovenski bugarski narod i to na najperfidniji način?

Taj težki grijeh izdajstva na bratskom narodu otudjio je težko i nepomirljivo zavadio ta dva naroda. Taj se neoprostivi grijeh već užasno osvećuje srpskom narodu. Kako da onda vjerujemo u njihovu iskrenost?

Slično je Rusija postupila sa Poljacima, pa će se i njoj osvetiti taj grije. Ako danas ima Slavena, koji se bore proti slavenske braće i traže zaštite u tudjina proti toj braći, kriv je tome narodni šovinizam i vjerski fanatizam. Rusija je otudjila sebi poljski narod, a Srbija si pravi neprijatelje od jednakokrvne hrvatske braće istim grijehom. Naši jugoslavenski leaderi htjeli bi nas uvjeriti, al dakako samo praznim riječima, da su se Srbi preko noći promijenuli. Takovo psiholožko čudo se ne dogadja preko noći.

Kako su Slaveni na Sjeveru: Rusi, Poljaci i Česi posebice razvijali i stvarali si svoju povjest, tako su se južni Slaveni: Bugari, Srbi i Hrvati posebice razvijali i stvarali svoju povjest. Taj proces vidimo i kod Germana, t. j. današnjih Njemaca i Škandinavaca, kod Romana i drugih. Njemci su se (u današnjoj Njemačkoj) ujedinili u savezne države, svaka pod svojom dinastijom, jer su i prije politički ujedinjeni bili. Hrvati i Srbi nisu nikada politički ujedinjeni bili, a k tomu su jih uvijek dijelile vjeroispovjesti i politički protivni uplivi Zapada i Istoka.

Sve te okolnosti, a ponajpače drzoviti srpski šovinizam čine Jugoslaviju skroz i skroz nemogućnom i apsurdnom. Srbi su, dosljedno svojemu šovinizmu i nijekanju Hrvatstva, na sve moguće načine i svagdje radili proti Hrvatstvu. U Hrvatskoj, Bosni i Hercegovini kano i u Dalmaciji bili su uvjek glavno orudje proti svakom hrvatskom pokretu u rukama protuhrvatskih vlada.

To znademo svi. Tko nezna za bratstvo jedne moćne magjarske stranke i Srba u kraljevini, koje je išlo za tim, da Srbi pomoćju Magjara dobiju Bosnu, Hercegovinu i Dalmaciju, a Magjari pomoćju Srba neograničeno zagospodare ostalim hrvatskim zemljama?

Dakle nema vraga ni sotone, s kojim se Srbijanci ne rote proti Hrvatima?

Pok. Ante Starčević je tu braću izvrsno poznavao, pa si je uzeo bio za životnu zadaću borbu proti Slavosrpstvu, on je neobičnom bistrinom svoga uma uvidio, da su naši Jugoslaveni Slavosrbi, da to Slavosrpstvo vodi do podpunoga političkoga samoubojstva hrvatskoga naroda. Sva ta njegova gigantična borba proti slavosrpstva, a za političku samostalnost Hrvata, izrazuje se u onoj njegovoj: „Hrvatska Hrvatima.“

Naši mrcinaši t. j. jugoslovenski apoštoli, računajući na glupost svojih čitatelja, htjeli bi sada dokazati čak i to, da je Starčević bio za Jugoslaviju. To oni hoće da dokažu iz njegove borbe proti nepravdama, koje je počinjala austro-ugarska monarhija proti Hrvatima; oni trgaju pojedine, obično nesuvisle, rečenice iz njegovih spisa i govora, da sipaju lug u oči hrvatskomu narodu, da „obsjene prostotu“, rekao bi Veliki pokojnik.

Više nego Austriju mrzio je on Slavosrbe. Da je sada pokojnik na životu, pa da čuje tu nečuvenu drzovitost današnjih Slavosrba, šta mislite da bi rekao? Rekao bi bez sumnje: „to je slavosrbski“, jer je njemu Slavosrbstvo bilo inkarnacija drzovitosti i bezobraznosti.

Zar zbilja se nestidite, vi strvinaši domovine tvrditi, da je Starčević bio za vašu Jugoslaviju. To je isto tako drzovito i bezobrazno, kao i to, što Srbi tvrde i u školama svojim uče, da u hrvatskim zemljama živu i Cigani, ali ne Hrvati.

Strossmajer je slijedio srce svoje, te je radio za zbliženje Jugoslavena, nu Starčević je politički uvidjavniji uvidio, da to vodi političkom samoubojstvu njegove domovine i njegova naroda, vidio je i znao, da su Srbi najveći neprijatelji Hrvatske.

Strossmajer je u zadnjim godinama svog života priznao svoju političku pogrešku i odobrio Starčevićevu nauku. Strossmajer nije nikada niti za jedan čas bio za političku Jugoslaviju, u kojoj bi njegova Hrvatska bila onako okljaštrena, kako bi bila u ovom slučaju (u slučaju pobjede Entente) gdje bi ju „braća“ Srbi i njihov talijanski saveznik razkasapili i do kosti oglodali uz pomoć i sudjelovanje naših jugoslavenskih strvinara. Strossmajerove se kosti vrte u grobu i protestiraju proti insinuacije naših mrcinaša, da je on htio, da Hrvatska bude pokrajina Karagjorgjevića. Dokažite, vi varalice hrvatskog naroda, kada i gdje je Strossmajer zagovarao tu jedinstvenu jugoslavensku državu, u kojoj će Hrvatska biti provincija? Dokažite, da je Strossmajer u opće zagovarao političko jedinstvo Srba i Hrvata. On je radio lih na kulturnom podizanju svij Jugoslavena (Bugara, Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca) i na njihovom kulturnom jedinstvu. Pak što je doživio od Srba god. 1885.? Po vašoj neizmjernoj gluposti i smješnosti tvrdite, da je to bila austrofilska Srbija onda. A što bi tek učinila Karagjorgjevićeva Srbija?

Nikada se niste usudili da predbacite Srbima te griehe, niti nesmijete toga učiniti, jer bi otvorili oči hrvatskomu narodu, a zamjerili se onima, od kojih očekujete vašu strvinarsku plaću.

Srbska beogradska propaganda je tako daleko zavela pravoslavne živalj u hrvatskim zemljama, da je ovaj svaki čas bio spreman na masacre svega, što se zove hrvatsko. Život medju pravoslvnim i Hrvatima katoličke i muhamedanske vjere u Bosni i Hercegovini postao je — hvala beogradskoj propagandi —upravo nesnosan. Prije tri godine su me uvjeravali ljudi u Bosni ob onomu, što nisam mogao absolutno vjerovati odavle iz tudjine, da je naime beogradska propaganda pripravljala u Bosni pravoslavne na pokolj Hrvata Muhamedanaca i katolika. Jednom riječju: toj propagandi [je] uspjelo, da je od ogromne većine naših pravoslavnih stvorila same veleizdajnike.

Koliko ima danas pravoslavnih u hrvatskim zemljama, koji nisu pripravni svaki čas izdati Srbiji svoju hrvatsku domovinu?

Prije pet godina u Bihaću u Bosni dogodio se ovaj slučaj: u gostioni sjedilo i veselilo se jedno hrvatsko družtvo sastojeći se od muhamedanaca i katolika, pjevali su „Živila Hrvatska i njezina prava“, za drugim stolom sjedila dva viša sudska činovnika pravoslavne vjere (Srbi), pa jim odpjevaše ovako: „Živila Hrvatska i njezina prava, zabila joj Srbija k….i dva j…“. (Neka mi oproste čitatelji, ovo nije moja prostota, nego njihova, t.j. one srpske gospode, a dogadjaj je tako eklatantan dokaz srpske snosljivosti, da ga nemogu prešutiti). Jedan odlični mladi beg trgne revolver, da ga saspe u zube gadnom stvoru, ali ga spriječiše drugi članovi hrvatskog družtva.

Trebalo bi, da naši Slavosrpski Jugoslaveni proglase ovako (po srpski) travestiranu „Živila Hrvatska“, za jugoslavensku davoriju, inače neće ugoditi Srbima. Tako su se Srbi u kraljevini Srbiji kroz generacije i generacije službeno (u svojim školama) odgajali a taj odgoj prenijela je srbijanska propaganda medju pravoslavne u hrvatskim zemljama. Tako si je Srbija stvorila od bugarskog i hrvatskog naroda najveće neprijatelje, radeći jim o glavama, a naša poslovinca kaže: „pri glavi i oca po glavi“.

Tako sada Hrvati uvidjaju više nego ikada dosada, da spas svoje individualne političke eksistencije traže u okviru Austro-Ugarske Monarkije. Eto, to je razlog „Našoj Izjavi“.

Mi ne laskamo Austro-Ugarskoj, nego odsudjujemo onako isto, kano i pok. Ante Starčević, sva bezzakonja počinjena na hrvatskom narodu i tražimo, da se poprave. Vjerujemo u snagu hrvatskog naroda, kojom će on to postići; vjerujemo, da će Pravda Božja uništiti tu državu, ako bude i nadalje počinjala slične grijehe na svojem najvjernijemu narodu. Uvjereni smo, da bi Hrvati dandanas kamokud bolje stajali, da nije bilo naših Srba, koji su kroz zadnjih 50 do 60 godina bili glavno orudje svih vlada proti svakom hrvatskom pokretu.

Hrvati bi, radi silnih nepravda što ih je počinila Austro-Ugarska proti njima, služeći se najviše Srbima i Talijanima, mogli sada zlorado se smijati, gledajući kako joj se osvećuju njezini grijesi počinjeni na hrvatskom narodu, kad se ne bi i o njihovoj koži radilo.

Don Niko Gršković u svojoj najslavorspskijoj novini „Hrvatski Svijet“ osvrnuo se na „Našu Izjavu“ u više brojeva, izasuo na nas sve psovke i prostote, koje je on već nebrojno puta do ogavnosti opetovao. To je cvijeće, koje raste samo u slavosrpskoj bašći. Što tko ima, to i dijeli.

Zaista, još nijedan hrvatski novinar, pa ni onaj u Americi, nije tako nisko pao kao on. Svaki članak vrvi epitetima: vol, hrt, svinja, tegleća marva, pas, vižle itd. Pratio sam pisanje i drugih novina, ali palmu gnjusobe i prostote odnio je Rev. Gršković. Njegova je zasluga, on je prvi uveo ovako divljaštvo; dok su drugi naši novinari (bar oni neslavosrpski) uzdržali se takvih izraza. Još ntko nije nazvao njega, ni psom, ni volom, ni hrtom, ni krmkom. „Štil je sam čovjek“, t. j. štil odaje čovjeka, rekli su pametni ljudi.

Bilo bi divno, kad se kome ne bi gadilo, da to cvijće Don Grškovića prevede na engleski i podkući amerikanskoj publici. On je sada pravi i podpuni Slavosrb. Njegovu slavosrpsku dušu i kulturu odaju i oni izpadi proti njegovoj braći svećenicima, koji mu nisu nikad ništa na žao učinili, osim toga, što neće da budu Slavosrbi i izdajice svog naroda.

On se prijeti u svojoj novini, kako će bosanske fratre, kojima on nije dostojan opanke skinuti, zaćerati u sakrištiju, da će s njima u njegovom novom kraljevstvu obračunati zdravo srpski, a to sve radi toga, što se bosanski franjevci brane, da ne dodju pod bratski srpski nož kano i Bugari u Macedoniji i albanežki katolici n. pr. P. Alojzije Palić. Bosanski su franjevci osvjestili i podigli Hrvatstvo u Bosni, a to je baš najveći zločin u očima Srba, a dosljedno i naših mrcinaša njihovih pristaša. Hinc illae lacrimae! Zato škripe zubima na njih.

Don Niko Gršković javno zove braću svoju katoličke svećenike hodžama i raznim drugim pogrdnim imenima. Rev. Relić, njegov trabant u Chicagu, zove nas hrvatske svećenike, kako sam čuo od ljudi iz njegove okolice, vatikanskom bandom. To je veoma značajno!

Dakle sve čisto slavosrpski. O. Medin travestira jednu propovjed za Veliki petak, makar da je sada pokladno vrijeme. Toj propovijedi samo fali zaključak, što bi imao glasiti ovako: s njime t. j. s Petrom (koji personificira Jugoslaviju) razapeše dva razbojnika s desna jednog hrvatskog Slavosrba (kojeg personificira on — Medin), a s ljeve jednog Talijana. Ta dva razbojnika počmu se medju sobom svadjati, jer se lijevi razbojnik počeo rugati Petru, radi čega ukori ga desni razbojnik, rakavši mu: „Ti talijanska canaglia (psina), zar se niti ne bojiš Boga (kano ni „izjavaši“). „Šuti“, odgovori Talijan, „ti si veći lopov od mene, ja sam htio otimati tudje, dok si ti, carogna croata, radio proti životu svoje vlastite majke“.

Bezobrazni Slavosrb postidjen obrati se k Petru i reče: Gospodaru, sjeti se mene kad unidješ u jugoslavensko carstvo svoje.

I odgovori mu Petar: zaista, zaista kažem vam obojici još danas ćemo k vragu svetrojica i jugoslavensko carstvo moje. Amen.

S Don Grškovićem natječe se u Slavosrpštini dr. Biankini iz Chicaga. I to je jedna velika zagonetka, koju možete riješiti samo onda, ako se stavite na načelo mrcinaške politike: „Austrju, a bogme i Hrvatsku odnese vrag, drži se stranke, koja te može bolje nagraditi.“ Dr. Biankini je po zanatu strastveni denuncijant i ulizica kod vlastih. U arhivima mnogih hrvatskih biskupija vidio sam bezdušne klevete na ovdašnje hrvatske svećenike. U Z. me pitaše, što mislim o njegovoj roboti. Rekao sam od prilike, da je B. profesionalni doušnik i klevetnik kod oblastih, dočim sam uputio preč. gospodu, da se — ako se baš zanimaju za nas — obrate na naše biskupe, koji su jedino kompetentni naši suci.

Čuo sam već davno, da je on i kod političkih oblasti bavio se istim zanatom. Koliko je na tomu istine, neznam, ali ovo što rekoh o njegovim denuncijacima kod duhovnih oblasti, opravdava sumnju, da je to činio i kod političkih austro-ugarskih oblasti. Ele, pravi Slavosrb!

Dok ovo pišem, dodje mi „Hrv. Svijet“ u ruke sa „svijetlom“ našeg o. Pere Čančarevića. U svijetlu toga „svijetla“ vidi cijeli svijet, da je naš dobročina Pero „pogriješio“ i samo zato podpisao „Našu Izjavu“, jer je mislio „da neće nikada izići na javnost“. Zar ovo nije dosta, da se vidi njegova slavosrpština!

Čestitamo vam, Slavosrbi, na tako iskrenom prijatleju! Doista divno „svijetlo“ i ogledalo Čančarevića! Sve drugo, Pero, što si napisao jesu bezobrazne laži i Tvoje poznate cifrarije, kojima si htio sakriti pravo „svijetlo“, da Te nitko neupozna, ali baš to „svijetlo“ osvjetlilo [je] Tvoj značaj kako treba. S čovjekom takoga značaja nije se moguće prepirati. Što si uztvrdio danas, poreći ćeš sutra. Da li je ozbiljno promišljena „Naša Izjava“, o čemu Ti sumnjaš, naći ćeš odgovor u člancima „K Našoj Izjavi“. Kod podpisa, „Izjave“ zaista smo se smijali , a to je išlo, Pero, upravo Tebe, jer smo znali, da si kuhan i pečen u slavosrpskoj kuhinji, pa ipak podpisuješ onakovu „Izjavu“. Tko se ne bi tu smijao?

Perino „svijetlo“ prosvijetlilo čak i don N. Grškovića, te u svjetlosti toga svijetla i pod utiskom Medinijeve propovijedi piše i on sličnu propovijed. Velč. Gospodo, to je sve čisto slavosrpski. Nitko se od nas ne veseli propasti Srbije, ali će nam biti milo i drago, ako vama Slavosrbima neuspije, da skupa sa svojim talijanskim ortakom ne razkomadate našu dragu hrvatsku domovinu. Vi ste vidili iz „Naše Izjave“, da mi želimo, da se svaki slovenski narod razvija u svojim granicama, dakle i Srbi. Mi tražimo za Hrvate, što jih ide po narvnom i Božjem zakonu. Zato za te vaše krokodilske suze i parashevalne propovjedi ja neznam drugog izraza nego onaj Starčevića: „slavosrpština“.

(Da čitatelji podpuno shvate moć ovoga Starčevića omiljenog izraza, moram jim reći, da je on Slavosrbima krstio one, koji su išli za uništenjem hravtske individualne političke eksistencije u korist Srbima, koje je on držao za najveće zločince svog naroda. Imenicu „slavosrpština“ il prislov „slavosrpski“ rabio je, da označi tu gamad ili — kako to on veli „pasminu“ i njezino djelovanje. On nije mogao u nijednom jeziku naći dosti jakoga izraza, pa ga sam iznašao. On doista prenosi taj izraz i na druge, kad hoće da jih što jedrije ošine. Čitam u novinama naših Slavosrba, da S. nije ni mislio na Slavosrbe, kad jih ovako zove, a ne vide, jad ih ne vidio, da je tu sliku Starčević od njiha uzeo, iz njihove duše izvadio i tom se slikom služio, da i druge njima slične prozove „Slavosrbima“ i njihova djela i značaj „slavosrpštinom“. A kako bi jih blagopok. Starčević tek onda zvao i okrstio, kad bi bio znao, da će mu ta gamad i istom Talijanu domovinu prodavati?)

Tendenciju i svrhu „Naše Izjave“ ste dobro pogodili i još bolje osvjetlili, kako se vidi iz vaših bjesomučnih napadaja, ma da joj po slavosrpsku izvrćete smisao. I mi smo zadovoljni sa njezinim uspjehom.

Da, „Naša Izjava“ je ustuk vašim izjavama, u kojima ste prodavali Hravtsku Srbima i Talijanima. Vi ste se odrekli samostalnosti svoje domovine, prava na samostalnu eksistenciju i prelazite u vašu ludu „Jugoslaviju“ u kojoj će Hrvatska izgledati onako, kako smo vam rekli u „Izjavi“ i u ovim člancima. Entente vaša spasiteljica pozvala i Talijane na račun naših hrvatskih zemalja, a vi to, hoćeš, nećeš odobravate i morate joj ljubiti ruke.

Bude li nama Hrvatima Ententa krojila sudbinu, onda će biti upravo onako, kako ju naša „Izjava“ riše. Reći će nam „pravdu“ forum njezin: „evo vaših rezolucija, u kojim se odričete svojih historičnih, juridičnih i suverenih prava i tražite da budete pokrajina u kraljevstvu Karagjorgjevića, pa neka vam tako bude; nu pošto je naš talijanski saveznik pomagao nama, to mu dajemo slovenske zemlje, njegova će biti Istra, svi vaši (hravtski) otoci, komad Dalmacije i njegovo će naravno biti vaše more; od vaših zemalja dajemo Srbima: Bosnu i Hercegovinu, Dalmaciju (u koliko ne dadosmo Talijanu) i Srijem. Ono što preostaje od vaše Hrvatske neka bude pokrajina Velike Srbije pod dinastijom Karagjorgjević, a vi ćete biti sretni, što ćete se smjeti zvati Jugoslavenima“.

To je neumoljiva logika, gospodo mrcinaši, koju vi sa svima vašim prostotama pobiti nemožete, a vi ćete se onda ceriti nad razkomadanim udima vaše vlastite majke i krv njezina će pasti na vaše glave.

Mi smo izdali „Našu Izjavu“, da prosvjedujemo pred cijelim svijetom, proti vašoj sotonskoj nakani. To smo bili dužni Bogu, hrvatskom narodu i svojoj savjesti. Mi se u „Izjavi“ pozivljemo na sva naša prava historična i narodnosna; dočim si vi svega toga odrčete. Vi ste pravi matricidae —majko-ubojice. Vi ćete i opet graknuti, kako će u Jugoslaviji biti spas i sloboda za sve jednaka; al ste sami uvjereni, da će Jugoslavija za Hrvate izgledati onako, kako smo vam ovdje rekli, jer vi dobro poznate što hoće Srbi i Talijani — ti vaši ortaci — od naše domovine.

„Naša Izjava“ nije nikakvi novi politički program; ona je program stranke prava poprimljen od svih Hrvata, u svima hrvatskim pokrajinama i od braće Slovenaca. To je program, kojeg paklenski mrze Srbi i Slavosrbi u našoj dragoj i nesretnoj Hrvatskj, te su osobito s pomoću Magjara nastojali, da ga svim mogućim sredstvima osujete. A zašto? Jedino zato, jer se kosi sa srbskom zavjetnom misli, a ta srbska zavjetna misao izključuje i isto hrvatsko ime, a pogotovo samostalnost Hrvatske.

Neće biti na odmet ako ovdje spomenem nješto o jednom slavosrpskom svešteničkom sastanku u Chicagu. Na tomu sastanku ustao jedan mladi hrvatski svećenik, pa će reći od prilike ovako: gospodo, ja nemogu shvatiti zašto vi negovorite o savezu izmedju Hrvatske i Srbije radje, nego li o ujedinjenju u jednu jedinstvenu državu Karagjorgjevića? Pa šta mislite, šta odgovoriše Srbi i Slavosrbi — naši mrcinaši? Pogledaše se izpod oka i prezirno predjoše preko toga na dnevni red, a u svojim izvještajima ni jednim slovcem ne spomenuše toga.

Nije li to prava perfidija slavosrpska, zar može itko pametan predmnijevati, da je kod njih bona fides? Neće Srbi da čuju o savezu slobodne, samostalne i cjelokupne Hrvatske sa Srbijom, jer bi to značilo raditi proti njihovoj zavetnnoj misli, koja nepoznaje ni Hrvatske ni Hrvata.

Naši Slavosrbi formalno pobjesniše na „Našu Izjavu“, a mi u tom neizmjerno uživamo. Sada zovu u pomoć državnu vlast, da nas proćera „za Dumbom“, jer da smo pogazili gradjansku prisegu ovim državama i slično.

Sjajno, slavosrbski. „Eh, da je srpski nož, da jim sudi“, misle si i uzdišu naši mrcinaši. Don Niko već prijeti, kako će nas „iztrijebiti“ poput Bugara u „srbskoj“ Macedoniji, ljutim nožem i hladnim olovom, dakako.

Gospodo Slavosrbi, kolikogod ste zlobni, toliko ste i glupi. Na „Našoj Izjavi“ ima podpisanih i njekoliko amerikanskih gradjana. Zar ima zakona na svijetu, koji će jim zabraniti da budu „vjerni Bogu, narodu i domovini svojoj“? Zar obstoji zakon, koji će negradjanima zabraniti, da izjave i podaničku vjernost: „onomu, na kojeg je narod prenesao svoja suverena prava“? Na temelju čega vi sudite, da su pogazili njeki od nas (gradjani S. D.) podaničku vjernost? Kad bi mi svi bili gradjani Sjed. Država, ni onda nas ne bi mogao nitko bijediti zbog nelojalnosti. Ta „vjernost“ znači ono isto, što vjernost Iraca prama Irskoj, Njemaca (gradjana S. D.) prama njihovoj domovini i amerikanskih Engleza prama Englezkoj i njezinoj vladi.

Durgo je ta vjernost, a durgo podanička lojalnost. Dodje li kad do toga, da pokažemo našoj novoj domovini gradjansku lojalnost, pa makar se radilo i o Austriji i hrvatskom vladaru, onda mi nećemo oklijevati, da pokažemo svoju lojalnost sigurno bolje i časnije nego vi slavosrpska „pasmina“.

Da umanjite važnost „Naše Izjave“ svi se požuriste, da unisono istaknete, kako smo ju poslali u „Narodni List“, premda ste znali, da smo „Našu Izjavu“ otisnuli posebice i poslali i vašim listovima kano i „Narodnom Listu“, a njeki ste ju i pretiskali. S tim ste samo pokazali, da vaša slavosrpština, uz sva druga gadna svojstva, zadržaje i — glupost.

U ostalom „Narodni List“ je zauzeo skroz naše političko stanovište, pa nema na svijetu razloga, zašto se ne bi smjeli poslužiti njime. K tomu je „Narodni List“ upravo radi svoga političkoga pravca najobljubljeniji i najrašireniji hrvatski list u Americi i mi smo mu zahvalni, što nam otvara svoje stupce.

Hrvatska Hrvatima!“

K.

(Kajić?)

Memorandum of the Croatian National Council of North America (1933)

MEMORANDUM

The Croat clings stubbornly to

freedom which has been transmitted to him

by his ancestors for so many centuries.

CROATIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL

Youngstown, Ohio, United States of America

“These are the ends for which the associated peoples of the world are fighting ….:

…. 2. The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship, upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery.”

PRESIDENT WILSON,

Address at Mount Vernon,

July 4, 1918.

“It is an old and indestructible demand of the Croatian People, that it should live in its own, sovereign, and independent state.”

D. HRVOJ,

Croatian Representative,

November 23, 1918.

Memorandum

Whenever a nation, or a state, becomes so “divided against itself” that the dissatisfaction, felt by one or more elements composing it, with their position in that state, and the intensity of their desire to break away from it, greatly out-weigh, on their part, all considerations favorable to its preservation and the retention of the status quo, even if this status be slightly modified, such a state—the lesson of history is unmistakable—cannot endure.  Such a state, moreover, is a standing danger to the peace of the neighboring nations, who are drawn into the conflict either by the very discord in, and the instability of, the country of incidence, or by the vortex formed by its ultimate sinking and vanishing from the surface.
The kingdom of Yugoslavia—formerly the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes—is a state, in which the discord between the component parts and the dissatisfaction of some of those parts with the ruling section have reached such heights and such intensity of feeling, that, if nothing is done to ease the strain, an open outbreak of hostilities is extremely probable, nay, inevitable.
What effect that happening would have on the peace in Southern Europe should not be a mystery to anyone familiar with the general situation in that part of the world.
At the present time, the only power, which keeps the discordant elements in Yugoslavia together, is the brutal force possessed and con– trolled by the ruling section, while the centrifugal forces consist of the desires and tendencies of most of the other sections to free themselves from the persecution and exploitation by the rulers.
The first and foremost of these sections—one that contains more than one-third of the total population of Yugoslavia—are the Croats, whose desire for freedom and independence is by no means unreasonable or whimsical, but is well founded on facts, and on the unfortunate experience they went through during the fifteen years of being a part of Yugoslavia.
The most important of these facts and experiences—the principal reasons for the Croatian demands and position—are as follows:

Croatian National Rights and Traditions.

I. The Croatian People represents a distinct, full-grown and highly civilized nation, with a fully developed national consciousness, based on twelve centuries of separate statehood and of continuous historic development, political, cultural and economic.

Fully organized State since Eighth Century

The main body of the Croatian people—seven of its strongest and largest tribes—came to present-day Croatia in the second quarter of the seventh century at the invitation of Emperor Heraclius, as the emperor’s allies in his fight against the Avars. In a bitterly fought war they succeeded in routing the Avars completely, and in conquering all the territories between the Danube and the Adriatic Sea, which they kept then for themselves, as their permanent habitation. Assimilating and absorbing all of the smaller Slavic tribes which had preceded them into this land, they were in a very short time able to organize their national state, which became as early as the middle of the eighth century an important factor in South-Eastern Europe. In the year 925, Croatia became a kingdom, which remained for two centuries the most powerful—with the exception of the Eastern Empire—and the best organized state in the Balkans and Central Europe.

In Personal union with Hungary

In 1102, the majority of the Croatian nobles elected as the king of Croatia the Hungarian ruler Koloman.  Thereby Croatia entered into a personal union with the kingdom of Hungary, preserving in that union not only the continuity of its separate statehood, but also the full sovereignty of the Croatian nation. This point is well established and is best illustrated by the fact that in 1527 the Croatian Diet elected as the king of Croatia Ferdinand I of Austria, quite independently and long in advance of the Hungarians.

Member State of Hapsburg Empire

By this election of Ferdinand all of Croatia—except Bosnia and Hercegovina then under Turkish rule—came into that combination of states, from which there developed in time the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Hapsburg Empire.
Although even then, while a part of this empire, Croats were successful in preserving the internal autonomy of their country and the political individuality of their nation, the powers of Vienna and Budapest were yet able to encroach upon their rights and violate their interests in a sufficient degree to make the Croatian people justifiably dissatisfied with their status and with the treatment accorded them by the common rulers. This dissatisfaction became especially strong after 1849, when a regime of cruel absolutism was established, which—by greatly diminishing the scope of Croatian national autonomy, and by continuing the division of Croatian people in two separate political bodies—served well the selfish interests of the associated nations, but was very detrimental to the political, cultural and economic interests of all Croats.

Complete Independence regained 1918

In accordance with the truths expressed in the first paragraph of this Memorandum, the final result of the above mentioned state of affairs was, that—at the first opportunity they had—Croats broke away from their exploiters, and made their country again completely independent. The opportunity was given them by the developments in the world-war, and the independence was proclaimed by the Croatian Sabor (Diet), as the legal bearer and representative of the Croatian national sovereignty, on October 29, 1918—two weeks before the armistice on the Western front.

Treachery and Fraud of 1918.

II. The union of Croatia with the kingdom of Serbia was concluded, on the Croatian side, by politicians who had absolutely no authorization for such an act. The method of the union and even its earliest results was entirely adverse to the wishes and expectations of the Croats. For these reasons the act of the union was never ratified by the Croatian people, but was, on the contrary, overwhelmingly rejected by them, not only at the elections for the Constituent Assembly in 1920, but also at every other opportunity which they had before and since that time.

The idea of united front of the South-Slavs

During the long fight against the supremacy of Austria and Hungary a conclusion was reached by a number of Croatian leaders that, when the complete independence of Croatia is finally regained, a special arrangement will have to be made in order to protect it from new assaults by the old enemies.  An ideal protection, many thought, would be found in the establishment of a united front of all the South-Slavic nations, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs and Bulgars, which could find its expression in a common united state, organized either as a federation or confederacy of free and autonomous peoples.

During the war

In accordance with this thought, whose popularity rose in proportion to the growing hegemonistic tendencies of the Austro-Hungarians, those Croatian leaders, who had been able to leave the country before the outbreak of open hostilities in 1914, together with some Slovenes and Serbs from the lands of the Monarchy, constituted themselves into a “Yugoslav Committee”, the purpose of which was to work for the liberation of all the South-Slavs from the Austro-Hungarian rule and their ultimate union with Serbia and Montenegro into a common state, which would act as the protector of the liberty and territorial integrity of each nation joining it.
Inside the country, in Croatia, this program was also gaining momentum. Its most open and most radical champion was then the Starchevich’s Party of Rights, which, on June 5, 1918 adopted a resolution, whose most important clause was the following:

Expected retention of Croatian statehood

“We demand liberty and the union of all our people into a national state of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which would preserve all the separate (national) individualities of our trinomial people, and guarantee the continuity of all the historic politico-juridical structures on its territory. On the basis of our own state-rights, we particularly demand the preservation of the continuity of the distinct Croatian statehood.”

Free State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs

This passage expresses not only what the members of the Starchevich’s Party of Rights thought, but also what the great majority of Croats wished, hoped for, and confidently expected from the union. In that expectation, the same declaration of the Croatian Diet, which proclaimed the complete independence of Croatia, expressed also the willingness of the Croats to join “a united, national, sovereign State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which would include all the territories in which this trinomial people now lives, irrespective of any provincial or international boundaries.” At the same sitting the Croatian Diet also recognized the National Council of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs—organized some time before—as the de facto government of the State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs—a fully sovereign and independent state, which was established on the basis of that declaration, and which included all the South-Slavic lands of the (former) Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
The duties and powers temporarily entrusted to the National Council SHS included those which up to that time were exercised either by the common government at Budapest, or by the central government at Vienna, or by the emperor; they also included the authority to enact necessary emergency legislation. The Council, however, was given no authority to conclude, on its own responsibility, a definite union with either Serbia, or any other -nation. The idea was to first complete the organization of the new State SHS, and then to enter, on a footing of full equality, into discussions with the constitutional representatives of Serbia, with the view of finding and establishing a mutually satisfactory basis, on which the union would ultimately be enacted.

The Geneva Protocol

The task of entering these discussions the Council entrusted to its own president, Doctor A. Koroshetz; to the president of the Yugoslav Committee of London, Doctor A. Trumbitch, and to a few other delegates. The meeting with the representation of Serbia—consisting of the prime-minister, Mr. N. Pasich, and of the chiefs of all the larger political parties—took place at Geneva, November 6-9, 1918. The result of the ensuing conference was the so-called “Protocol of Geneva”, which, although not quite satisfactory from the Croatian standpoint, was yet much more so than the act of Dec. 1, which superseded it. The Protocol, namely, not only accepted the principle of the complete equality of the State SHS with the kingdom of Serbia, but also left to the first named state its full sovereignty and self-government—with the National Council of Zagreb as the highest authority—until a new constitution had been adopted by the proposed Constitutional Assembly.

Intrigues and Nov. 24

Such an arrangement, however, was exactly what the real (though invisible) government of Serbia—a clique of militarists, financiers and politicians, with the prince-regent Alexander as one of the group—did not want. While the telegrams sent from Geneva were mysteriously “lost on the way”, this clique succeeded—by propaganda and cajolery, as well as by intrigues and various underhand deals—to so influence the membership of the National Council SHS at Zagreb, that it finally fell victim to the designs of the plotters, and decided (Nov. 24, 1918) for an immediate union with Serbia, conferring at the same time the highest executive authority on its prince-regent, Alexander Karageorgevitch.
Although the declaration, which proclaimed the above decision, contained also a few of what they considered as “saving clauses”, about which more will be said later, the members of the Council caused an irreparable mischief by their hastiness: Notwithstanding the fact that they had clearly overstepped their authority—which, of course, made their act constitutionally illegal—yet they had succeeded in giving over into the hands of the above mentioned ruling clique of Serbia all the real power in the whole country, administrative as well as military, opening thereby the way for all the misuse of that power, and for all the tyrannical persecutions, in which even some of them, themselves, later were victims.  This power, moreover, allowed Belgrade to manipulate further developments and arrangements connected with the organization of the united state in such a way, that Croats, instead of finding in the union a protection for their national independence and for the integrity of their territory, only found in it a monster, which has robbed them of both.

Beginning of terrorism

Immediately, namely, after the proclamation of December 1, 1918, Croatia was overrun by detachments of the Serbian army and gendarmerie, and a rule of terror and intimidation was introduced. The favorite method of this terror was and is the beating and flogging of the Croatian peasants and the incarceration of their leaders. The immediate motive for these atrocities was the fact that Croatian people—in contrast with the majority of their politicians, members of the National Council SHS—had a better sense of realities and of their national rights, and declined to accept the arrangement of Dec. 1 as final or legally binding.  In April 1919 they sent a petition with 157,669 signatures, to the Peace Conference at Paris, which petition pointed out the fact that, by their act of Dec. 1, the National Council SHS had clearly exceeded its authority, and that, therefore, this act was null and void.

Croats decline to accept the arrangement of Dec. 1

In November 1920, at the elections for the Constituent Assembly, Croats reiterated this stand.  More than three-fourths of all the Croatian votes were cast for parties — primarily the Croatian Peasant Party — whose programs included the non-recognition of the legality of the said act.  This position, as all the later parliamentary elections showed, was never changed by the Croatian people.

Broken Pledges.

III. Unauthorized on the Croatian side as it was, and such as it was, the Pact of the Union-if such a name could be given to a number of documents and declarations, the most important of which were the National Council’s resolution of Nov. 24, 1918, and the prince-regent’s address accepting the same—was afterwards broken, and violated in its most import- ant provisions, by the Serbian government and the executive head of the Serbian state.
In the National Council’s resolution of Nov. 24 the most important of the saving clauses”—on the basis of which many of the Croatian members, who would not have done so otherwise, voted for its adoption—was the following:

Constitution adopted contrary to preliminary provisions

“The final organization of the new state can be determined only in a general Constituent Assembly of the whole united nation of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, by a two-thirds majority of votes ….  For the Constituent Assembly is specifically reserved to determine: The Constitution, including the form of government—monarchy or republic,—the internal organization of the state, and the fundamental rights of citizens”.
In the address by which the prince-regent of Serbia, in behalf of that nation, accepted the Council’s declaration, and proclaimed the union of Serbia with the State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, we find this passage:
“In regard to the wishes and opinions with which you have acquainted me, and all of which I and my government unreservedly accept, the government will at once undertake to bring to realization everything you stated regarding the transitory period till the meeting and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, and also everything you stated regarding the election and the organization of that Assembly”.
However, when the Constituent Assembly finally convened, more than two years later—the intervening time was utilized by the ruling clique to engineer the elections to its own advantage—the new constitution was not adopted by a two-thirds, but by a simple majority, only 223 out of 419 members having voted for its adoption. Even this simple majority, moreover, could be secured only after several smaller groups had been openly bought by the government; the expropriated Bosnian begs, controlling the Bosnian Moslems’ Party, receiving, for instance, 100 million Dinars. Out of 91 Croatian representatives only 11 voted for the new constitution, while 51 members of the Croatian Peasant Party, faithful to the principle of non-recognition of the original act of the union, never took their seats in the Assembly.
Eleven out of ninety-one, a little more than 12%! Yet, in November and December 1918 no cry was heard oftener than the assertion, that there would be no “majorization” in the Constituent Assembly of either of the uniting peoples, i. e., that no constitution would be adopted, unless it received the support of the majority of each, the Slovenian, the Serbian, and the Croatian representation.

Inequality in rights and privileges

Another provision contained in the “Pact of the Union” and announced with all the loudness possible was the principle of the full equality in civic rights and privileges of all citizens, regardless of their being Slovenes, Croats, or Serbs.
In reality, as soon as the union was carried through in the above described manner, it became evident, that being a Croat was a terrible handicap to all those who had any business with governmental agencies and particularly for those who were qualified for, and wished to enter, any branch of the government service. The Serbian ruling clique and the Serbian politicians had plenty of their own henchmen to place in the government service, and the question of qualifications was not considered one of importance.  There were many instances of former clerks with only a couple of years of public school education displacing law-school graduates with 15 or 20 years of experience, in the important office of district commissioner.
Army, finances, railroads, public instruction, diplomatic corps and foreign service—all these departments of government were filled with Serbs, protégés of the Serbian politicians, and in none of these departments was there ever much of a chance for a Croat, unless, of course, he was willing to become useful, not to the people, but to the camarilla.
In the Austrian-Hungarian army there were always from ten to twenty commanding generals who were Croats.  In Yugoslavia, which was supposed to be “their own” country to the Croats, there were at one time more than 80 generals, and not one of them was a Croat, although there still lived several of the former Austro-Hungarian high officers of Croatian nationality, who had rendered, during the critical period of October and November 1918, a great service to the cause of liberty of all the South-Slavic peoples.
This simple example may serve as a fair illustration of the “equality in privileges and civic rights” as between the Croatian and Serbian citizens of Yugoslavia.

Dictatorship—violation of the original “pact”

Still another cardinal provision in that “Pact” concluded between representatives of Serbia and the members of the National Council SHS was the unconditional stipulation that the united country would be run in accordance with the principles of democracy and parliamentarism.
In the above mentioned address of acceptance of the National Council’s declaration of Nov. 24, the prince-regent made the following pledge:
“Faithful to the example and to the counsels of my exalted parent, I shall be the king to only the free citizens of the State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and shall always remain faithful to the great constitutional, parliamentary and broadly-democratic principles, based on the right of general popular franchise”.
This pledge was reiterated by the prince-regent in his first proclamation addressed to the people, and dated January 6, 1919, in the following words.
“As the king of a free and democratic people, I shall steadfastly, in everything I do, remain true to the principle of constitutional and parliamentary government . . .”
On the tenth anniversary-day of this last quoted proclamation, i. e., on January 6, 1929, king Alexander made another one by which he suspended the constitution, dissolved the parliament, and set up an absolutist dictatorship.

A Medieval Conspiracy.

IV. In setting up the dictatorship, the real rulers of Serbia have not only removed from their authority in Croatia the last remaining vestige of legality, but, since the preliminary steps leading to dictatorship included the murdering of foremost Croatian leaders, they have also made any reconciliation between Croatia and Serbia—for as long at least as they are the masters in the latter nation—quite impossible, except, of course, on the basis of complete restoration to the former of all the national and state rights.

Croatian opposition

The fraudulent manner in which the union with Serbia was executed, and the terrible misrule which followed that union, were naturally resented by the Croatian people, who in a short time developed a strong opposition to the whole system of government which was imposed on them against their will, and under which they were subjected to a reign of brutal terrorism. Since the very first elections held in the new state—those for the Constituent Assembly, in the fall of 1920—the Croatian voters expressed their dissatisfaction with the conditions by electing to the Belgrade parliament ever increasing numbers of deputies, who were opposed to the whole system on which the country was organized.
The Croatian opposition was becoming ever stronger. The ruling clique of Belgrade felt itself really endangered, and particularly so, when, through the efforts of Croatian deputies, one of their own number—R. Pasich, the son of the former veteran premier—had been publicly convicted for corruption, shady dealings, and misappropriation of -public property. Then, for the first time, rumors of an impending suspension of the parliamentary principle began to circulate in Belgrade coffeehouses and newspaper offices.

Croatian leaders doomed

The resistance of the Croats, however, was still increasing. Using the Belgrade parliament as the medium, through which they could be most easily heard, Croatian leaders were raising a cry of protest, which was becoming ever louder. The ruling camarilla was in a tight corner, but it was still far from being ready to give way to the will of the people. Instead, it decided: “Parliamentary must go, but, before this can be done effectively, Croatian leaders must first be put away . . where they could hold no speeches, and write no articles for the papers . . .”
June I 8 and 19, 1928 were busy days for some people in Belgrade. One of the busiest places was the king’s palace, where a great many conferences took place during those two days. One of the most frequent visitors to the palace was a Serbian representative, whose name was—Punisha Rachich. On the night of June 19, Punisha was there again and spent several hours in a talk with the Marshal of the King’s Court, Drag. Jankovitch.

Murder in the parliament

On June 20, this representative, a member of the parliamentary majority, asked to be recognized by the speaker. Afterwards he seemed to change his mind. But at the direct urging by the speaker—also, of course, a member of the parliamentary majority—he went to the rostrum and, immediately upon arriving there, he produced a revolver, which he leisurely proceeded to empty into a group of Croatian leaders. Result of the shooting: Two Croatian deputies dead, three wounded, one of the wounded being the chief of the Croatian Peasant Party, Stephen Radich, who died from the consequences of the shooting a few weeks later.
The first object of the conspiracy was attained. The way to the second was now open.
Dictatorship was proclaimed some six months after the shooting.

The Plight of Croatia.

V. Since one party to the Pact of the Union of December 1, 191 8, the National Council SHS, had no authority to conclude it; and since the other party to it, the king and the government of Serbia, had afterwards broken and violated its most important provisions: therefore, that pact is legally null and void, and the rule of Serbia over Croatia cannot be considered as resting on any other foundation, but on that of brut- al force. The main effects and consequences of that rule of force for Croatia were, and still are: the annihilation of the Croatian national individuality and of distinct Croatian statehood; the subordination of Croatian national and racial interests to those of Serbia; maladministration; economic exploitation of Croatia by the Serbian rulers; deliberate restraint of the cultural progress in Croatia; and a reign of terror and oppression.

Instead of better security — annihilation

ABOLITION OF THE STATE OF CROATIA. For twelve hundred years the Croatian people lived in their own national state. This state was at first completely independent, but since 1102 its independence of action was somewhat limited by the personal union with Hungary and, afterwards, by its becoming a member-state of the Hapsburg Empire. During all this time, however, Croatia preserved its individuality and distinctness as a nation, as well as the autonomy of its internal affairs. Resenting the hegemonistic policies of Hungary and the centralizing efforts of Vienna, and the encroachments upon their national rights and privileges, Croats made use of the opportunity given them by the developments in the world war BY MAKING THEIR COUNTRY AGAIN COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT. This newly won independence was, unfortunately, short-lived. Through treachery and fraud Croatia came into the grasping claws of imperialistic Belgrade, WHOSE FIRST MAJOR ACT, WHEN IN POWER, WAS THE ABOLITION OF THE SEPARATE CROATIAN STATEHOOD AND ANNIHILATION OF THE CROATIAN NATIONAL INDIVIDUALITY. Croatia was wiped off the map of Europe, its inhabitants transformed into a subject-people, its territories made into a domain for exploitation by the ruling class of Serbia.
Denationalization of the Croatian people was one constant policy of the Belgrade rulers. Since the establishment of the dictatorship this policy is particularly pronounced.  The use of the very names of “Croat” and “Croatia” was forbidden by a decree of the dictator, and also the Croatian flag, and every other emblem of Croatian national distinctness. The present generation of Croats is being forcibly prevented from using and honoring all that, which countless generations before it had zealously preserved, and had left to it, as its rightful heritage.

Betrayal of Croatian interests

SUBORDINATION OF CROATIAN NATIONAL INTERESTS IN THE FOREIGN POLICY OF YUGOSLAVIA. One of the main arguments propounded by the advocates of the union with Serbia among the Croatian politicians was, that such union would serve as a preservator for the integrity of the Croatian national territory.  This argument was proved as faulty, and the expectation on which it was based as unfounded, when a great part of Croatia was lost to it, only through either the criminal negligence or deliberate planning on the part of the Serbian diplomacy.

The terrible cost of “liberation”

ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION OF CROATIA. The economic policy of the Yugoslav (Serbian) government was from the very beginning violently anti-Croatian. Early in 1919 the government decided to devaluate the Crown (Krone), which was, naturally, the only money used in Croatia. The first act was to stamp all the Crown-notes with a special stamp, and to confiscate 20% of all the money offered for such stamping. Only a short time later, the stamped Crown was forcibly exchanged with the Serbian Dinar in the ratio of 4 Crowns for 1 Dinar—in spite of the fact that on international exchanges, although these were previously artificially manipulated through the selling of Crowns and buying of Dinars by the Belgrade government, the ratio was still much more favorable to the Crown. BY THESE TWO OPERATIONS THE CROATIAN NATION WAS ROBBED OF MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF ITS SAVINGS.
In addition to that, TAXES PAID BY CROATS WERE, AND STILL ARE, FROM THREE TO SIX TIMES AS GREAT AS THE TAXES PAID BY THE INHABITANTS OF SERBIA WITH THE SAME INCOME AND PROPERTY. This inequality has been defended by the Serbian politicians with the cynical statement, that the Croatian people were thereby paying only what they “owed” Serbia for their “liberation” from the Austro-Hungarian yoke!
The rate of taxation was not only exorbitant but truly ruinous. While the prices of agricultural products, which bring more than 80% of Croatia’s income, fell between 1921 and 1928 nearly 300%, the rate of taxation rose in the same period some 1500%.
The power of the government was also used to divert the flow of commerce in such a way as to benefit Serbia and weaken Croatia. There were many instances of government’s refusing a license to operate to a manufacturing or commercial concern unless and until it was willing to move its place of business from Croatia to Serbia.
DUE TO SUCH ECONOMIC POLICIES OF THE SERBIAN GOVERNMENT, CROATIA, ONCE A REMARKABLY PROSPEROUS COUNTRY, IS TODAY ON THE VERGE OF ECONOMIC RUIN.

Forcing down the standards of culture

GOVERNMENT’S SABOTAGE OF CROATIAN CULTURAL PROGRESS. In the field of cultural and educational endeavors Belgrade pursued the same policy in regard to Croatia as in the field of economic development. Many Croatian cultural institutions and organizations were forcibly dissolved and their funds confiscated by the government. The standards of teaching in the public schools were deliberately lowered, a great many of the high schools altogether abolished, and the standards of the University of Zagreb impaired by the refusal or restriction of necessary budgetary credits. Several of the most prominent professors at the University were dismissed, some because of their political convictions, some again simply in order to injure the cultural prestige of the Croatian nation in general, and of its main university in particular.
These were some of the means by which Belgrade hoped to equalize the cultural standing of Serbia with that of Croatia, WHOSE CIVILIZATION IS SEVERAL CENTURIES IN ADVANCE OF THE SERBIAN.

Corruption and incompetence of officials

MALADMINISTRATION. In accordance with their idea that Yugoslavia was only an enlarged Serbia, the Serbs retained the same administrative apparatus, which had been designed to administer a nation of a little more than 4,000,000 people, to administer a country with a population of more than 12,000,000. This apparatus was, moreover, filled with personnel—appointed for political reasons, as previously mentioned—so incompetent and so corrupt, that in a short time a terrific chaos became supreme in all the branches of public life.
Croatia, whose administrative machinery before the union was excellent, felt the change to the new system of inefficiency, incompetence, and plunder-by-bribery most strongly, for it was to Croatia that the worst element of the Balkanic Serbian officialdom was sent, THIS TYPE BEING THE MOST SKILFUL IN THE ART OF PERSECUTING AND TERRORIZING A PEACEFUL AND CIVILIZED PEOPLE.

Barbarian methods and oriental cruelty

OPPRESSION AND TERRORISM. From the time, when the first Serbian troops came into Croatia, and up to the present day, Croats were subjected to a reign of terror and oppression, which has few equals in the whole history of Europe. It began with the flogging of the Croatian peasants in the winter of 1918-1919 and reached its height in the killing of the Croatian national leaders in June 1928. During the era of dictatorship, consequent upon that killing, it was developed into a complete system of governing by terror and persecutions.

Culmination Under dictatorship

The installation of the dictatorship was followed by the suspension of the rights of assembly and free speech. Then the press was muzzled, and the whole country was put under a rigid censorship so that no cry for help may escape across the frontiers. When these preliminaries had been attended to, thieves and other common criminals were released from the jails and penitentiaries—to make room for the “political offenders”. In a short time all these jails and penitentiaries were filled to overflowing with the patriotic Croats, whose only “crime” was, that they wanted to remain true to their nation and their race. These prisoners were then generally subjected to the most inhuman cruelties imaginable, the purpose of which was to extract from them incriminating “confessions” by which others could be arrested and convicted.

Flogging, bastinado, murder

The favorite forms of torture were flogging and bastinado, but frequently methods were used which probably had not been employed since the times of the barbaric invasions. Only two of the many KNOWN instances: A merchant, Javor by name, was hanged by one arm, while burning candles were applied to his naked body. To M. Starchevich, a young college graduate, heavy weights were hanged on the most vital part of the male human body, and removed only, when the terrible pain caused him to loose consciousness. Later they were put on again, and the operation was repeated several times. It happened at times that one of the victims could not endure such or similar treatment, and he died either during the torture, or shortly afterwards. The unfortunate’s body was then generally thrown from an upper-story window down on the pavement below, to make it appear as though he had committed suicide.  In this particular manner, and in less than two years, eight Croatian patriots lost their lives in the Zagreb penitentiary alone.
Again, dozens of prisoners were killed by the police while being taken from one jail to another. The pretext was always that the victims had “tried to flee”, or that they were “resisting the officers of the law”.

Persecutions and killings of intellectuals

Croatian intellectuals seemed to be especially obnoxious to the dictatorial government of Belgrade. One of them, the University Professor Milan Sufflay, whose inborn astuteness had prevented Serbian agents from bringing him to jail by the favorite method of the frame-up, WAS FINALLY MURDERED BY PROFESSIONAL ASSASSINS HIRED FOR THAT PURPOSE THE AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT, MEMBERS OF THE ZAGREB POLICE FORCE.
The same method was used in the, fortunately unsuccessful, attempt to assassinate the Croatian leader Dr. Mile Budak. Doctor Budak escaped death only because of his strong constitution, but, as a consequence of the terrible beating he received in that assault, he had to spend many months in bed, recuperating from the wounds and from the shock to his nerves.
The latest victim is Jos. Predavec, the representative of the Croatian Peasant Party, who was murdered.
Such are the means upon which the King of Serbia and his camarilla rely in their efforts to restrain Croatia—enslaved by them only through fraud and treachery—from regaining its freedom and independence.
Can they be successful? Or will they succeed in only starting another general conflagration in Europe—as they did once before?

Conclusion

In view of all the reasons enumerated and all the f acts mentioned above, the Croatian National Council of North America, in the name of more than 250,000 American Croats, who have either countersigned or otherwise endorsed this Council’s resolution of February 22, 1932, hereby declares:
1. The rule of the king and the government of Serbia over Croatia has no basis in either law or equity. It is maintained exclusively by force, and in direct opposition to the repeatedly and clearly expressed will of the Croatian people. The further toleration of that rule is, for that reason, dangerous to the peace in Europe, and contrary to the best interests of civilized humanity.
2. The only true representative and the only de iure government in Croatia is at the present time the Croatian National Representation consisting of representatives chosen by the Croatian people in the parliamentary elections of 1927.
3. The Croatian National Council of North America heartily endorses—with the amending reservation, contained in clause 4 of this declaration—the resolution of the Croatian National Representation of November 1932, as interpreted and amplified by its now imprisoned president, Doctor Vlatko Matchek. This resolution calls for a return of Croatia to the status of October 29, 1918, and demands an immediate withdrawal of the Serbian army and of the king’s minions from the territory of Croatia, in order, that the Croatian nation may freely determine the form of government, under which it wishes to live, and all the relationships with the neighboring nations, into which it may wish to enter.
4. In reference to the future relationships of Croatia with the neighboring nations, including Serbia, the Croatian National Council of North America, in accordance with the opinions and demands expressed in the four appendices to this document and in the Joint-Memorandum of all the Croatian groups in emigration, feels duty-bound and fully authorized to state:
Americans of Croatian descent, and Croats residing in the United States and Canada, as well as all the other groups of the Croatian race now living outside the boundaries of Croatia (in South America, Belgium, France, Germany, etc.) have repeatedly and nearly unanimously expressed a decided preference, over all the other suggested solutions of the Croatian question, FOR THE REESTABLISHMENT OF CROATIA AS A COMPLETELY FREE, COMPLETELY SOVEREIGN, AND COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT NATION, inside of whose boundaries would be gathered and reunited all the historically Croatian territories on which Croatian people live in compactness.
5. Having been assured, and fully convinced, that Croats in Croatia agree completely with the above stated declaration of political aims of the Croatian nation, but are prevented from publicly proclaiming their convictions by the brutal force of their oppressors: Therefore we, the members of the Croatian National Council of North America, in the name of 250,000 people of Croatian origin now living on this continent, appeal hereby to the League of Nations, to the governments of the United States and Canada and all other civilized nations, to the Press, and to the individual statesmen and political leaders of the world., to use their power and their influence in such a way, as to speedily bring an end to the suffering and to the enslavement of the Croatian nation.
We particularly appeal to them to prevail upon the king and the government of Serbia to peacefully withdraw the Serbian troops and administrative apparatus from the Croatian territory, in order, that the Croatian nation may in complete freedom exercise its right of self-determination, and decide about its future. We also ask, that to the right of national self-determination of Croatia no strings be attached beforehand, and that the free decision of the Croatian people be in advance recognized as final and binding for all the parties concerned.
In conclusion, we again call attention to the fact, that, unless the just demands of the Croatian nation receive, in the future, more consideration from the League of Nations and other responsible factors, and, unless Serbia is prevailed upon to recognize Croatia’s right of national self-determination, and to peacefully withdraw from its territory, Croatian people have no other recourse open, but to resort to that kind of self-help, which may include open rebellion. If that happens, further conflicts will be unavoidable, and the peace of the world will again be disturbed.
The responsibility for such consequences will not rest with the Croats, whose just demands include only the recognition of their elementary rights to liberty and free development.

Youngstown, Ohio, September 20th, 1933.

Kuzma Kuharić

Ivan Stipanović

Ivan Krešić

Milan Billich

Appendices

Appendix No. 1

Declaration of the All-Croatian Congress

(On October 16 and 17, 1931, representatives from nearly all of the fraternal, educational, and political organizations of Americans of Croatian descent and of Croats residing in the United States and Canada, met in Detroit, in order to protest against the oppression of their brethren in the country of their common origin, and to design plans, whereby they could participate more actively in the fight for a free and sovereign Croatia.  This, the All-American Congress, unanimously adopted the following declaration:)
Americans of Croatian descent and Croats residing in the United States and Canada, as represented at this Congress, enthusiastically declare themselves in complete sympathy with their brethren in the country from which they originate, and with their demand for the re-establishment of the free and independent Croatia.
The All-Croatian Congress protests bitterly and vehemently against the oppression and the persecutions of the Croatian people in the homeland, and against the rule of terror and exploitation, the responsibility for which lies with king Alexander Karageorgevich and his henchmen.
This Congress appeals to the League of Nations, to the governments of all free nations, especially the government of the United States, and to all liberty loving and humane people throughout the world to do everything in their power to bring to an end the suffering of the Croatian nation by a general recognition of that nation’s right of self- determination.

Appendix No. 2

MESSAGE

OF THE CROATIAN PRIESTS

TO THE CROATIAN PEOPLE

IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

“We, the undersigned, Catholic priests of Croatian birth or ancestry, hereby proclaim to our beloved Croatian brethren this, our message and our vow:
In union with you, and with all true sons and daughters of Croatia, we shall always defend the vital interests of Croatia in national and religious affairs; and, with all the strength of our souls, we shall stand staunchly by our Croatian brethren, ever ready to make any necessary sacrifice, so that our brothers and sisters, who live across in the beloved land of our ancestors, with our humble help may regain for the Croatian people that position in the family of nations, which is rightly theirs as ordained by God and justice.”
Dated December 1st, 1931.
Rev. Mirko Kajić, D.D., pastor, Johnstown, Pa.
Rev. Oskar Šuster, pastor, Detroit, Mich.
Rev. Francis Podgoršek, pastor, E. Chicago, Ind.
Rev. Leo Jos. Medić, OFM., pastor, Steelton, Pa.
Rev. I. Petričak, OFM., Steelton, Pa.
Rev. Ivan Stipanović, pastor, Youngstown, Ohio
Rev. John Juricek, pastor, Omaha, Nebr.
Rev. Albert Žagar, pastor, Millvale, Pa.
Rev. Ilija Severović, pastor, Chicago, Ill.
Rev. Ambroz Mišetić, OFM., pastor, Milwaukee, Wis.
Rev. Špiro Andrijanić, OFM., pastor, So. Chicago, Ill.
Rev. Zvonko Mandurić, OFM., pastor, West Allis, Wis.
Rev. Blaž Jerković, OFM., pastor, Chicago, Ill.
Rev. Bono Andačić, OFM., San Francisco, Calif.
Rev. Franjo Bahorić, pastor, Los Angeles, Calif.
Rev. V. Vukonić, pastor, Lorain, Ohio
Rev. B. Badura, pastor, Lackawanna, N.Y.
Rev. Chas. A. Štimac, pastor, Kansas City, Kansas
Rev. Dobroslav Sorić, pastor, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Rev. A. Hugolin Feisz, OFM., Chicago, Ill.
Rev. Josip Mišić, Youngstown, Ohio
Rev. Anselm Slišković, pastor, Farrell, Pa.
Rev. Vladislav Luburić, OFM., Chicago, Ill.
Rev. Josip Matun, Cleveland, Ohio

Appendix No. 3

Resolution

ADOPTED AT THE 3rd CONVENTION OF THE H. B. Z.

(CROATIAN FRATERNAL UNION,)

HELD ON THE 27th OF JUNE 1932, IN GARY, IND.

The third Convention of the H. B. Z., representing and speaking in behalf of the 90,000 organized Croats in the United States and Canada, and interpreting the thoughts and feelings of its members concerning the conditions to which the Croatian nation in the old country is subjected, adopts, unanimously, the following declaration:
1) The H. B. Z. condemns most emphatically all the tyrannies and persecutions, that have been, and still are, perpetrated by the Belgrade regime over Croatia and the Croatian nation. It condemns the annulment of the millennial Croatian State, the total disregard of Croatian interests in the spheres of international politics, in economics, and its cultural development. It condemns the unabated use of terror as a means, by which the insane imperialism of Belgrade militarists tries to keep the Croatian nation forcibly and perpetually enslaved.  It condemns, explicitly, the imprisonment, flogging, torturing and murdering of Croatian leaders, eliminating, thereby, the best sons of the Croatian nation.
2) Having unbounded faith in the immortal American declaration of independence and of the inalienable right of every nation to its freedom and to an independent and self-sustaining national life, which right has been attested to the Croatian nation by the well known declaration of the President of the United States during the world war, this Convention solemnly demands the return to the Croatian nation its liberties, its confiscated rights and its stolen wealth. It, furthermore, demands the acknowledgement of its sovereign right to decide for itself, and to establish its own State: a free and independent Croatia with full freedom, full equality and perfect social justice for all its citizens.
3) The Convention greets all those Croatian patriots who work and strive in the spirit of the above declaration, calling to them: Persist, and do not relax, until the defrauded and sorely tried Croatian nation has established its right to a free life in a free State of Croatia.
4) The Convention honors the countless victims who sacrificed their lives in the struggle against the imperialistic tyranny and for the freedom of their nation and the rights of Man.

Appendix No. 4

AFFIDAVIT OF OFFICERS OF

THE CROATIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA

RELATIVE TO CIRCULATING PETITIONS APPEALING FOR THE NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF CROATIA

THE STATE OF OHIO

COUNTY OF MAHONING

ss:

KUZMA KUHARICH and REV. JOHN A. STIPANOVIC, both of Youngstown, Ohio, being first duly sworn according to law, upon their oaths severally depose and say:
That they are the duly elected, qualified and acting president and secretary, respectively, of THE CROATIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA; that as such, they were instructed and authorized to circulate, amongst the Americans of Croatian ancestry or Croatians residing in the United States of America and others, petitions which were styled “AN APPEAL FOR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF CROATIA”, and which contained the following language:
WHEREAS, the Croatians, who constitute one of the smaller civilized nations of Europe, have been wrongfully and unjustly denied their national independence and their right of self-determination after the World War; and
WHEREAS, militaristic Serbia now rules Croatia through force and deceit and chicanery; and
WHEREAS, the tyrannical, despotic and oppressive government of the Serbs is persistently subjugating and trodding over the Croatians, with a view of wiping them out of their motherland; and
WHEREAS, the Croatians in Croatia (including Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Hercegovina and Vojvodina), by reason of the Serbian military occupation of the Croatian provinces, are being wrongfully denied the privilege to freely express their honest convictions as to their right of self-determination as a nation.
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved, that we, the undersigned, either Americans of Croatian descent, or Croatians residing in the United States of America, or friends and advocates of justice and liberty for all nations, hereby appeal to you for the liberation of Croatia from the tyrannical and despotic rule and domination of the Serbs, and we further appeal to you for the national independence of subjugated and down-trodden Croatia.
Pursuant to said authority and said instructions, such petitions were circulated and the genuine and bona fide signatures of 41,087 such persons were procured; and that in addition thereto, the genuine and bona fide signatures of 66 civic, church and fraternal organizations, by and through their respective officers, were procured.
AND FURTHER, deponents saith not.
Kuzma Kuharić (signature)
Ivan Stipanović (signature)

SWORN to before me, and subscribed in my presence this 20th day of September, 1933.

Julia M. Matus, m.p.

Notary Public.

Povijest društva “Hrvatska žena grana broj 1” – A History of “Croatian Woman Branch # 1”

Povijest društva “Hrvatska žena grana broj 1”, Chicago

1929. – 2009.

Društvo „Hrvatska žena“ osnovano je davne 1921. godine u Zagrebu s dobrotvornim ciljem „pomaganja hrvatskoj sirotinji, katoličkom življu, te dobrim Hrvaticama bez imetka“. Njen osnutak je vezan za cijeli jedan pokret koji seže u srednji vijek, a posebice u XIX. stoljeće kada su osnivane mnoge zaklade, bratovštine i udruženja s ciljem pomaganja nevoljnima. Ni Hrvati, niti njihova društva, u tome ne bijahu iznimka. Nakon Prvog svjetskog rata i stvaranjem Kraljevine, a kao rekacija na velikosrpske ideje i ugroženost opstojnosti hrvatskog naroda, osnivanju se različita društva. Tako su žene uključene u Radićevu stranku osnovale društvo pod nazivom „Hrvatsko srce“, a osnivaju se i mnoga tzv. Gospojinska društva s istim ciljem. Upravo ta društva bila su preteče osnivanju društva “ Hrvatska žena“.

Društvo “Hrvatska žena“ je osnovala Marija Kumičić, a za prvu voditeljicu Društva izabrana je gospođa Zora pl. Trnski, a njene potpredsjenice bijahu Ivka barunica Ožegović i gospođa Marija Kumičić. Sama imena ovih dičnih žena govore o ozbiljnosti pothvata, te o njegovu kulturnom utemeljenju. U prilog njihovoj ozbiljnosti i odgovornosti spram onih koji pate, a koji su istog roda, govori i činjenica kako su uskoro nakon osnivanja Društva organizirani ogranci diljem Hrvatske: u Petrinji (srpanj, 1921.) u Osijeku (srpanj, 1921.), u Požegi (1921.), u Karlovcu (rujan 1921.), u Jastrebarskom (1922.), te Sisku, Daruvaru, Brodu na Savi, Gospiću, Ogulinu, Vukovaru i drugim gradovima širom Hrvatske.

Bijaše to od samog početka snažno organizirano Društvo s jasnim ciljevima na kulturnom i humanom polju. Njihova dobrota seže daleko, za njih se čuje od mnogih , a njihova ljubav nalazi korijena i daleko od domovine, gdje god žive Hrvati. Njihov rad najbolje je izražen već na samom početku u Pravilu Društva kojeg su izradile gospođe Slava Furst i Julka Patriarch, a koje je odobreno 21. svibnja 1921. U njemu se ističe:

“Zadatak je društva da goji među hrvatskim ženama smisao za društvenost, koja će rađati inicijativom i akcijom na nacionalnom i feminističkom polju, na polju čovječnosti, prosvjećivanja, morala, narodnog zdravlja, društvenosti i privrede.” Da bi žene što bolje ostvarile ove zadane ciljeve odmah su osnovani odsjeci, prosvjetni, feministički, privredni i socijalni. Pjesnički te ciljeve skladno spjeva Josipa pl. Glembay u Osijeku 1922:

“Za dom svoj živi, pati i radi

Sloga Hrvata nam je spas

Doći će i vama sretni dani

Zapjevajmo u sav glas

Ljubit slobodu, a mrzit zlo

Hrvatske žene geslo je to’.”

Njihova žar i ljubav prema svom narodu vodila ih je k aktivnostima na svim poljima te dovela Društvo u sukob s vlastima. Već dvadesetih godina u srpskoj monarhiji Društvo je bilo zabranjivano zbog “nacionalističkog i separatističkog djelovanja”. Zbog pozivanja istaknutih hrvatskih javnih djelatnika na skup obilježavanja imendana dr. Starčevića i Radića na koji se odazvalo oko 1000 ljudi, država je 12. lipnja 1922. zabranila društvo “Hrvatska žena”. Gotovo isti tjedan slična sudbina se dogodila i društvu u Karlovcu. Ove zabrane su bile kratkotrajne. Iako je Društvo u svim gradovima zbog svog izrazitog domoljublja bilo kažnjavano i zabranjivano, ono je dvadesetih i tridesetih godina ipak odlučno nastavljalo svoj rad. Njegov konačni slom i završetak rada dogadja se u vrijeme NDH-a, kada je zakonskom odredbom države NDH-a 5. svibnja 1943. godine “Društvo Hrvatska žena” nakon pune 22 godine “dobrotvornog, kulturno-prosvjetnog i rodoljubnog rada” prestalo djelovati. Oduzete su sve prostorije u matičnoj kući koja se nalazila u Patačićkinovoj ulici broj 1a.

Društvo “Hrvatska žena” u Americi

Već nekoliko godina nakon osnivanja Društva u Zagrebu, 27. siječnja 1929. godine, utemeljeno je Društvo “Hrvatska žena, Grana br. 1 – Chicago”. Početak je bio uistinu zanimljiv, a kada govorimo o povijesnom pregledu nastanka socijalnih, humanitarnih, pa i političkih ustanova, onda svakako moramo priznati da je to uvijek djelo pojedinaca koji su imali jasnije vizije, ciljeve i poglede od drugih. Takvu jednu viziju imaše gospođa Agata Djurak kada se sa svojom kćeri Vilmom Strunjak obratila vlč. Inocentu Bojaniću, o. dominikancu iz Hrvatske župe Presvetog Trojstva u Chicagu. Izrazile su mu želju za osnivanjem društva koje bi se bavilo kulturnim i humanitarnim radom. Vlč. Bojanić im izlazi u susret dajući im svesrdnu podršku. Uskoro dolazi do prvog inicijativnog susreta s kojeg je vrijedno zabilježiti slijedeća imena: Klara Škvorc, Barbara Balija, Rozalija Kovačević-Kirin, Rozalija Sedar-Vuksanović, Frances Frkonja, Mary Karačić, Borislava Absac, Ruža Cesar, Magdalena Guldenpfening. Društvu su dale ime “Hrvatska žena, grana br. 1 – Chicago”. Za prvu predsjednicu su izabrale gospođu Klaru Škvorc. Već na samom početku Inicijativni Odbor je odredio svrhu i ciljeve društva: “djelovati na kulturnom i humanitarnom polju i ujedno upoznati Amerikance i strance s Hrvatskom i njenom kulturom.” I od početka, članice ovog vrijednog Društva počele su ostvarivati upravo taj određeni cilj. Organizirale su brojne izložbe i zabave te nastupale u svim aktivnostima koje su Hrvati Chicaga pripremali. Njihova aktivnost uskoro prelazi granice grada Chicaga te dolazi do osnivanja još 26 grana diljem Amerike. Već na početku, Društvo je legalizirano dobivši državnu dozvolu i svoju povelju (charter).

Tridesetih godina i posebice četrdesetih godina u vrijeme rata, Društvo pomaže Crveni križ i vojnike – kako američke tako i hrvatske. Pomažu lokalne bolnice, šalju vojnicima pakete i uplaćuju novac u zajedničke fondove osnovane u tijeku II. svjetskog rata. Domovinu Hrvatsku takodjer pomažu u vrijeme ratnih nedaća, te šalju pakete pomoći u daleku i dragu domovinu. Po završetku rata i tijekom masovnog stradanja u domovini i patnje hrvatskog naroda u izbjeglištvu, Hrvatska žena slala je pomoć hrvatskim izbjeglicama i sirotinji u logore diljem Europe i Južne Amerike.

Stišavanjem poratnih nedaća, Društvo se vraća kulturnom radu, te pomaže hrvatske studente, posebice na Duquesne University, kako bi što bolje naučili pjevati hrvatske pjesme i svirati tamburicu i na takav jedinstven način promicati hrvatsku kulturnu baštinu. Upravo takvim radom one su uspjele dvije objektivno različite kulture; američku i hrvatsku stalno sjedinjavati i približavati jednu drugoj. Mlađe generacije Hrvata upravo su po tim aktivnostima naučile biti jedno, iako su trajno obilježeni dvjema kulturama. Kao ilustracija toga može nam poslužiti pjesma koju napisa još 1922. prva predsjednica Društva Klara Škvorc:

“Ja sam rodjen Amerikanac,

Ali ipak nisam Indijanac.

Moja me je majka naučila,

da mi je mila još jedna domovina.

Prva mila domovina moja,

Jeste zemlja Georga Washingtona,

A to mi je i ponos i dika,

Jer se zove Slavna Amerika.

A druga je domovina mila

Gdje se Otac i Majka rodila,

A to vam je ona gruda sveta

Hrvatska nam na tisuće ljeta.

I zato se ja ponosim s tim

Jer sam, Hrvatske majke sin.

Živila naša Amerika!

Živila naša Hrvatska!”

Pedesetih, šezdesetih pa i sedamdesetih godina, kada su domovinu (iako nedostupnu u komunizmu) snašle elementarne nepogode, poplave i potresi, Društvo ponovno šalje novčanu pomoć kao i pomoć u hrani i lijekovima. Tih godina su i mnogi hrvatski misionari pošli diljem svijeta navještajući kršćansku ljubav. Njihov život prečesto bijaše bijeda i neimaština. Hrvatska žena se brine i za njih, te im šalje pomoc kao i hrvatskim župama, školama, te obiteljima hrvatskih robijaša diljem svijeta.

Aktivnosti Društva u novije vrijeme

Društvo “Hrvatska žena, grana broj 1” ponaosob je vrlo aktivno u hrvatskoj zajednici grada Chicaga u posljednjih 20 godina. Njezina socijalna, humanitarna, kulturna, prosvjetna i nacionalna aktivnost zaista je veličanstvena. Spomenuti ćemo ovdje samo jedan mali dio velikih aktivnosti. Vec 1988. Društvo pruža pomoć hrvatskim književnicima u domovini kao i hrvatskim rodoljubima i aktivistima na raznim poljima djelovanja, diljem svijeta. Njihova pomoć karitativnim udrugama nastavak je tradicije i karizme koju Društvo njeguje od početka. Već tada, dok je komunizam još bio snažan u Domovini, oni potpomažu hrvatske producente u nastajanju filmskih zapisa o tragediji nacije u zadnjih 50 godina. Isto tako pomažu se i hrvatski zatvorenici u americkim zatvorima.

1989. godine Društvo slavi svoju 60. obljetnicu postojanja. Tom prigodom iz Domovine dolazi poznata liječnica dr. Ružica Ćavar, borac za ljudska prava Hrvata, posebice na medicinskom polju. Njezina nazočnost na ovoj obljetnici i govor o neizbježnim demokratskim promjenama u Domovini motiviralo je mnoge Hrvatice grada Chicaga da pristupe Društvu. Njezina nazočnost je zaslužna da se broj članica penje na divnih dvije stotine.

Dolaskom godine 1989., a to znači i godina uoči stvaranja hrvatske države, “Hrvatska žena” se aktivno uključuje u pomoć i nastojanje da se snovi povijesti što lakše ostvare. Tako već na početku materijalno pomažu Franju Tuđmana, budućeg hrvatskog predsjednika te ostale aktivne javne djelatnike u domovini i svijetu čija imena su obično bila pisana crnim slovima, a druženje s njima bilo više nego opasno.

Početkom devedesetih

Prijelomne 1990. godine novije hrvatske povijesti, Društvo izgrađuje jače veze s domovinom te svojim prilozima podupire i Crkvu i državu na putu k slobodi, neovisnosti i budućnosti. Iako domovina zove i treba pomoć “Hrvatska žena” nastavlja pomagati pojedince i obitelji u njihovim često hitnim slučajevima. Tako se pomažu oboljela i slijepa djeca itd. U ljeto 1990. godine u Hrvatsku putuju predsjednica Zlata Ivezic, tajnica Milica Trutin i rizničarka Nevenka Jurković. I nakon pune 43. godine u središnjem hrvatskom gradu, Zagrebu, osnivaju inicijativni Odbor Hrvatske žene u Domovini. Ovo su prva nastojanja i koraci povratka na izvore.

U jesen iste godine “Hrvatska žena” po prvi put održava Modnu Reviju koja postaje tradicionalna jesenska manifestacija Društva. Ovom revijom Društvo prikuplja znatna materijalna sredstva koja onda odmah upućuje u domovinu. Mjesec listopad 1990. posebice je važan u povijesti Društva “Hrvatska žena grana broj 1”, Chicago. Naime tada, 25. listopada 1990. predsjednica Društva, gospođa Zlata Ivezić odlazi na osnivačku skupštinu Hrvatske žene u Zagrebu i nosi im znakoviti povijesni dar neizbrisive povezanosti:

– izvorni barjak “Hrvatske žene”

– grb “Hrvatske žene”

– 2,000 dolara pomoći za početak rada.

Iste godine pomažu se i stradali rudari u rudniku Tuzla, te središnji katolički Karitas u Zagrebu. Godina 1990. je važna ne samo za ostvarenje povijesnog sna o državnosti Hrvata, nego i za budućnost samog Društva “Hrvatska žena”. Naime te godine sastaje se Uprava društva i svi članovi društva kako bi izglasali ciljeve i zadaće rada ovog Društva. Njihova vizija ukratko obuhvaća slijedeće:

* skupljanje humanitarne pomoći i rad na pripremanju kontejnera za Hrvatsku

* slanje pisama raznim ustanovama

* prodaja kolača i hrvatskih umjetnina s ciljem prikupljanja sredstava

* organiziranje javne molitve krunice i međugorskih molitvenih skupina

* prikupljanje financijskih sredstava

* organizacija dobrotvornih banketa

* prodaja maslinovih grančica s crveno-bijelo-plavom trakom na Cvjetnicu u hrvatskim župama grada Chicaga

* organiziranje godišnje modne reviju (Fashion Show)

Već u proljeće 1991. godine kada domovina zapada u političko-ustavne, državotvorne i regionalne krize, Društvo prepoznaje potrebe naroda i šalje prvi kontejner pomoći u domovinu. To je ujedno početak sveobuhvatne pomoći koje će Društvo slati u više od 100 kontejnera i vrijednosti više od 10 milijuna američkih dolara. Žene, članice Društva razvijaju svoje aktivnosti i traže nove načine kako bi, iako daleko, bile blizu onima koji pate. Kao plod takva razmišljanja one na Cvjetnicu 1990. godine po prvi put prodaju znakove mira-maslinove graničice u svim hrvatskim župama grada Chicaga. Od tada do danas to ostaje vrlo draga i plodonosna tradicija. Iste godine kada se mnogi prilozi Hrvata Amerike slijevaju u Hrvatski Nacionalni Fond i Hrvatska žena ne izostaje, nego već na početku daruje tom fondu u Chicagu 15,000 američkih dolara. U isto vrijeme šalju pomoć od 5,000 dolara za lijekove u Hrvatsku te 10, 000 dolara za stradale u već započetom ratu.

Kao što sam spomenuo na početku, njihova aktivnost nije samo humanitarna. Žene su aktivno sudjelovale i dizale svoj glas u borbi protiv rata, nasilja i jednostranosti američkih i europskih državnih kabineta. Tako Društvo održava molitvu bdijenja sa svijećama ispred gradske vijećnice u Chicagu, organizira demonstracije, šalje na tisuće pisama američkim kongresmenima u Washigton, D.C., skuplja peticije za priznavanje Hrvatske Države itd.

Valja spomenuti aktivno sudjelovanje i svih hrvatskih župa grada Chicaga u svim hvale vrijednim pothvatima Hrvatske žene. Župe su pomagale na različite načine sve akcije, ustupajući uvijek svoje prostorije, utjecaj i tradiciju.

Godine 1992. predsjednicom društva postaje gospođa Nevenka Jurković. Aktivnosti se nastavljaju i množe. Pomaže se izdanju knjige prof. P. Cohena o stradanju Židova u Srbiji, kupovini medicinskih aparata, pojedinačne pomoći hrvatskim ratnim invalidima i stradalnicima rata. Zbog sve većih takvih potreba Društvo organizira banket u ožujku 1992. ciji prihod je išao za pomoć hrvatskim invalidima, a već u travnju za pomoć hrvatskoj ratnoj siročadi. Prepoznajući opasnosti Istoka u Slavoniji i prepolovljavanja Istočne Hrvatske Društvo šalje pomoć gradu Osijeku od 4,500 dolara. U toj godini, gotovo svaki mjesec Društvo organizira humanitarne bankete za pomoć domovini, kao i za pomoć pri plaćanju kontejnera koji sve češće odlaze put Hrvatske. Želeći i na političkoj sceni učiniti što više Društvo pomaže pri dolasku uglednog američkog Senatora D’Amata u Hrvatski kulturni centar-Chicago. Sve učestalije članice Društva prodajom kolača poslije svetih misa u hrvatskim župama, pokušavaju puniti fond koji pomaže i obnavlja domovinu.

Već početkom godine 1993. kada je najavljeno da se počima s obnovom tek kupljenog prvog hrvatskog veleposlanstva na američkom tlu, Društvo šalje svoj doprinos. U ožujku nakon stizanja užasnih vijesti iz karlovačkog kraja, “Hrvatska žena” šalje pomoć karlovačkoj bolnici (10,000 dolara), a u mjesecu lipnju održava banket za žrtve silovanja i tom prigodom iz domovine pozivaju gospođu Jadranku Cigelj, jednu od preživjelih iz pakla srpskih logora. U istom mjesecu predsjednica Društva, gospođa Jurković i dopredsjednica Marica Tomačić odlaze u Zagreb na Prvi Hrvatski Sabor Hrvatske žene. Tim činom povijest se ponavlja i tako dokazuje da su svi napori kroz 70 godina Društva “Hrvatska žena grana br. 1”, Chicago uistinu bili proročki s ciljem povratka na korijene i ognjišta što se ovim činom i ostvarilo. U isto vrijeme ispred hrvatske župe Presvetog Trojstva u Chicagu održava se molitveno bdijenje za uspjeh navednog Sabora u Zagrebu.

Svjesni kako je važna informacija i kako često u novije vrijeme mediji, a ne ratnici stvaraju povijest, članice šalju prilog Hrvatskom Informativnom Centru u Zagrebu. U mjesecu studenom Društvo organizira doček znamenitog Hrvatskog narodnog kazališta iz Zagreba.

Društvo poziva u Chicago Katu Šoljić, hrvatsku majku koja je u Vukovaru izgubila 4 sina. Izuzetni napori su učinjeni i na pomoći koja se slala tek novoosonovanim podružnicama “Hrvatske žene” u domovini.

Godina 1994. počima uistinu svečano. Tako 5. veljače, Društvo proslavlja plemenitih 65 godina svoga postojanja. Svečanost počinje radnim sastankom u Hrvatskom etnićkom institutu u Chicagu (Drexel Blvd.), nastavlja se svečanom svetom misom u župi sv. Jeronima, te završava banketom u dvorani župe sv. Jeronima. Tom prigodom Društvo poziva sve predstavnike hrvatskih župa i ustanova grada Chicaga te mnoge ugledne goste:

Dragica Pandek – predsjednica Hrvatske žene iz Zagreba.

Mario Nobilo – veleposlanik Republike Hrvatske pri UN-New York.

Gordana Turić – zastupnica Hrvatskog Sabora iz Zagreba

Anthony Petrušić – predsjednik Hrvatske katoličke zajednice za Ameriku i Kanadu

Anthony Berić – predsjednik AMCRO – New York

Snježana Franetović – “Hrvatska žena grana br. 32”, Detroit

Paula Majdak – “Hrvatska žena grana br. 3”, Milwaukee

Jasminka Ćorluka “Hrvatska žena”, Montreal

Brothers Rigis i sestra Dora, Salvatorian Mission House, iz New Holstin – Wisconsin

Tom posebnom prigodom izdana je i vrlo dobro uređena spomen knjiga 65. obljetnica društva “Hrvatska žena grana br. 1”, Chicago. Valja ne zaboraviti da je Društvo također do sada tiskalo spomen knjige o 45., 50., 55., i 60. obljetnice postojanja.

Nakon toga nižu se aktivnosti koje obuhvaćaju sudjelovanja na hrvatskim svjetskim saborovanjima u Clevelandu i Zagrebu, sudjelovanje na hrvatsko-američkom Kongresu u Chicagu, suorganiziranje banketa “Akcija za život”, proslave dana državnosti, itd. U ljeto 1994. Društvo organizira izložbu hrvatske kulturne baštine u State Building u sredistu Chicaga.

Godine 1995. gost Društva iz Domovine je Damir Plavšić, predsjednik studenata HVIDRA-e, te tom prigodom Društvo pomaže ratne invalide s darom od 25,000 dolara. U ljeto te godine, ponovno pomažu Akciju za život, a u mjesecu listopadu modnu reviju čine drugačijom i neuobičajenom predstavljujući narodne nošnje iz hrvatskih pokrajina. Isti mjesec, svjesni kulturocida počinjena na hrvatskom jugu, Društvo organizira dobrotvorni ručak za pomoć franjevačkom samostanu u Konavlima (5,000 dolara). Također Društvo predstavlja i promovira film “Vukovar se vraća kući.” Pomaže se i rade na promociji hrvatskih interesa, te u tu svrhu Društvo daje potporu ($8,000) hrvatsko-američkoj udruzi.

Svjesni da je rat završio “Hrvatske žene” se spremno odazivlju potrebama na svim područjima života. Valja svakako, ponajviše ovdje naglasiti, kako je u vrijeme ratnih stradanja od 1992. do 1996. Društvo poslalo preko 100 kontejnera pomoći vrijednih preko 10 milijuna američkih dolara. Veliku ljubav u otpremanju kontejnera i organizaciji pomoći darovale su gospođe Milica Trutin i Nina Perović. U tome su obilato pomagali i mnogi drugi među kojima valja spomenuti Hrvatsku katoličku zajednicu, Salvatorian Mission House iz Wisconsina i dr. Sve Hrvatske župe grada Chicaga su vrlo aktivno sudjelovale u ovom projektu. Stoga, radi povijesti i ljubavi, vrijedno je zapamtiti da je Društvo pomagalo cijelu Domovinu. Imena mjesta to najbolje potvrđuju: Zagreb, Rijeka, Mostar, Zadar, Šibenik, Vrlika, Ljubuški, Kloštar Ivanić, Sinj, Osijek, Djakovo, Imotski, Karlovac, Vinkovci, Poljica kod Omiša, Šestanovac-Katuni, Posušje, Split, Široki Brijeg, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod, Vrgorac, Tomislavgrad, Gabela Polje-Metković i Čapljina, te pojedinci i skupine iz svih krajeva Hrvatske i Bosne i Hercegovine. Osim toga Društvo je pomagalo i mnoge američke socijalne ustanove kao npr. Mercy Home, Children Memorial Hospital, American Red Cross, Misericordia Home i dr.

Slijedeće godine 1996. Društvo organizira u Hrvatskom centru svečani banket u povodu 67. obljetnice svoga postojanja, te cjelokupan doprinos šalju hrvatskim političkim zatvorenicima u Americi. Kroz cijelu ovu godinu članice svojim neumornim radom pomažu razne ustanove u domovini, koje uključuju crkve, karitase, ogranke “Hrvatske žene”, centre za djecu i mladež i mnoge druge. U mjesecu svibnju aktivnost je izražena i u organiziranju izložbe dječjih radova na temu “Djeca Rata – Children of War” koja je održana na DePaul University u Chicagu. U mjesecu listopadu održana je tradicionalna modna revija. Prihod s ovog skupa poslan je Domu Dubrava koji se brine za osposobljavanje djece i mladeži s tjelesnim oštećenjima (25, 000 dolara) te Hrvatskom Kulturnom centru – Vukovar u izgradnji (4,000 dolara).

Iste aktivnosti se nastavljaju i 1997. gdje posebice treba istaknuti 68. godišnji banket Društva s osobitim gostima čija nazočnost je uvelike doprinijela dostojanstvenom obilježavanju časne prošlosti “Hrvatske žene”. Među mnogima, spomenuti ćemo samo one iz domovine: sarajevski nadbiskup Vinko kardinal Puljić, gospođa Ljilja Vokić, ministrica Prosvjete i Športa države Hrvatske, pomoćnica ministrice Vlasta Sabljak i drugi. Iste godine u mjesecu lipnju, Društvo pomaže u organizaciji izložbe djela poznatog i priznatog umjetnika hrvatske naive, Ivana Lackovića Croate koja je održana u Hrvatskom etničkom institutu u Chicagu. Iste godine ponovno pomaže Hrvatsko američku udrugu ($1,000) želeći tako pridonijeti boljitku općeg hrvatskog ugleda u Americi.

Godine 1998. među brojnim i pohvalnim pothvatima valja istaknuti svijest i pomoć Sveučilištu u Mostaru (30,000 dolara), te suorganiziranje izložbe o kardinalu Stepincu u Hrvatskom etničkom institutu u Chicagu u povodu 100. obljetnice rođenja. Znajući kako je od osobite potrebe vrijedno brinuti se o Istini o povijesti našega naroda, hvale vrijedno je spomenuti da je Društvo u mjesecu siječnju ’98. pomoglo svojim prilogom u slanju knjige dr. Ante Čuvala “Historical Dictionary of Bosnia and Herzegovina” u knjižnice većih američkih sveučilista. Istog mjeseca Društvo se pridružuje mnogim hrvatskim organizacijama diljem Amerike u akciji “Prijatelji Vukovara” te za obnovu centra za hendikepiranu djecu u Vukovaru daruje 3,000 dolara. Društvo je 6. listopada 1998. u Hrvatskom kulturnom centru organiziralo i pomoglo potpisivanje knjige “Healing the Heart of Croatia – Liječenje srca Hrvatske” autora poznatog kirurga dr. Novika i svećenika Josepha Kerrigana. Dr. Novik je ugledni profesor kirurgije i pedijatrije na sveučilištu Tennessee u Memphisu i direktor međunarodne zaklade za liječenje srčanih mana u djece. Zajedno sa svećenikom Kerriganom iz Memphisa, dr. Novik je spasio mnogu djecu u Hrvatskoj s urođenim srčanim manama od sigurne smrti. Na 18. dan istog mjeseca održana je uspješna tradicionalna Modna revija čiji prihod od 7,000 dolara odlazi u gore spomenutu svrhu.

Početkom godine 1999.(6. veljače) održana je u Hrvatskom centru u Chicagu svečana proslava 70. obljetnice postojanja ovog Društva. Među brojnim uzvanicima, iz domovine dođoše predsjednica Hrvatske žene iz Zagreba, Dragica Pandek, njena zamjenica Zlata Horvatić i saborska zastupnica Gordana Turić. Događaj je svakako posebnim učinio dolazak dr. Williama Novicka, poznatog dječjeg kirurga sa sveučilišta Tennessee iz Memphisa. Cjelokupan profit s ove obljetnice poslan je u zagrebačku bolnicu Rebro za pomoć djeci sa srčanim manama te kupnju specijaliziranih monitora. Krajem ožujka iste godine članice prodaju maslinove grančice ispred hrvatskih crkava zarađujući novac za nadolazeće projekte. U jesen iste godine, Društvo organizira još jednu uspješnu modnu reviju u hotelu William Tell. Zarada od te manifestacije poslana je za kupnju inkubatora u dječjoj bolnici u Splitu. Osim humanitarnog rada, Društvo podupire kulturne djelatnosti te dovodi dvije glumice Helenu Buljan i Dubravku Miletić koje izvode komediju u dvorani sv. Jeronima u Chicagu.

Godine 1999. Društvo pomaže obitelj Combaj s jedanaestero djece iz zagrebačkih Sesveta. Društvo je kumovalo na krštenju 11. djeteta.

Novi zanos u novom stoljeću

Početkom novog milenijuma, 2000. Društvo dovodi u Chicago poznatog pjevača Dražena Žanka. Njegov koncert je održan 29. siječnja 2000. u dvorani sv. Jeronima, a prihod ponovno poslan za djecu u splitskoj bolnici. Tradicionalna modna revija ove godine bila je drugačija. Naime poznata modna kreatorka Gordana Radić došla je iz Hrvatske te zaista pokazala američkoj publici svoje kreacije i najnoviju modu na hrvatski način. Revija koja je održana 22. listopada u hotelu Holiday Inn bila je vrlo uspješna i zanimljiva. Pomoć dobivena od ovog događaja je poslana bolnici Mostar (za kupnju gastroskopa).

Godina 2001. počela je ponovno kulturnom promidžbom. Naime Društvo je pomoglo promociju knjige Julianne Bušić “Ljubavnici i luđaci” koja govori o životnom putu Juliane i Zvonka Bušića i njihovoj borbi za slobodnu Hrvatsku. U mjesecu travnju iste godine (4. travnja), Društvo Hrvatska žena ponovno nastavlja prekinutu tradiciju humanitarnih ručaka na Cvjetnicu. Prihod s ovog ručka otišao je siromašnim hrvatskim obiteljima u Kninu preko karitasa Sv. Ante. U jesen iste godine (21. listopada) nastavljena je tradicija modnih revija. Te godine bila je revija posebice financijski uspješna. Održana je po prvi put u Hrvatskom centru u Chicagu, a sav prihod je otišao za pomoć stradalima u terorističkom napadu na New York. Donacija je poslana preko katoličkog karitasa. U godini 2002. održana su dva velika događaja. Ručak na Cvjetnicu (24. ožujka) za pomoć Vukovaru bijaše izniman događaj. Gošća ove svečanosti bila je ugledna spisateljica iz Zagreba Maja Freundlich. Na jesen iste godine, 20. listopada održana je modna revija u Royalty West hotelu.

U godini 2003. ručak na Cvjetnicu i vrlo uspješna modna revija održani su u Hrvatskom Centru također za pomoć domovini. Na modnoj reviji je sudjelovalo preko 450 gostiju i bijaše to najuspješniji skup takve vrste.

Godina 2004. također je vrlo aktivna. Ručak na Cvjetnicu ponovno je okupio Hrvate Chicaga u velikom broju gdje su iskazali svoju nesebičnost. Krajem ljeta (12. rujna), Društvo je organiziralo svečani banket za pomoć hrvatskom užniku Anti Ljubasu koji je mjesec dana prije toga izišao iz američkih zatvora nakon više od 23. godine robije. Banket izuzetno dobro posjećen održan je u dvorani sv. Jeronima. Jesenska modna revija održana u Hrvatskom Centru 24. listopada bila je ujedno i pomoć Srednjoj Bosni. Naime, sav prihod s ovog događaja otišao je za izgradnju dječjeg doma u Kiseljaku koji s velikom ljubavlju vode sestre franjevke. Na ovom događaju se prvi put predstavio novi hrvatski veleposlanik u Washingtonu gospodin Neven Jurica.

Nemoguće je sve nabrojiti,ali ukratko bitno je spomenuti slijedeće. Samo u razdoblju od pet godina, Društvo Hrvatska žena je darovalo pomoć u iznosu od 235.000 dolara. Veliki je to novac! Posebice veliki kada znamo da je izravno poslan siromašnima, najpotrebnijima. Na tu činjenicu doista treba biti ponosan! Sve članice ovog Društva doista mogu biti ponosne na svoj vrlo kvalitetno i nesebično obavljen posao.

Osim ovog financijskog podatka kako je lijepo znati da u tom istom periodu Društvo je pomagalo tako mnogo projekata i siromaha. Vrijedno je spomenuti samo neke: Pomoć hrvatskim zatvorenicima, hrvatskim radio klubovima, hrvatsko-američkom udruženju, hrvatskim crkvama u Chicagu, izgradnji spomen obilježja u domovini, udruzi za hrvatske studije u Americi, dječjoj bolnici u Chicagu, mnogim siromašnim obiteljima u domovini, od Zagreba, Splita, do Jajca, Vukovara, itd. dječjim domovima, raznim karitativnim udrugama, kulturnim manifestacijama, nabavci medicinskih uređaja za bolnice u domovini (Zagreb, Split, Mostar…), hrvatskim studentima, tiskanju knjiga o Hrvatskoj, simpoziju o Vukovaru u Washigton, D.C., nabavci zemljišta za kuće siromašnih Hrvata u Kninu, obiteljima stradalih u New Yorku i mnogi drugi projekti koje je pojedinačno nemoguće i spomenuti.

U istoj godini na 27. dan mjeseca studenog 2004. održana je svečana proslava 75. obljetnice postojanja Društva. Svečani banket je održan u dvorani Sv. Jeronima., a glavni gost iz domovine bio je vukovarski gvardijan fra Zlatko Špehar. Sav prihod ovog skupa poslan je za pomoć vukovarskoj djeci. Također na skupu je bila nova konzulica hrvatske države gospođica Zorica Matković. Kustos Hrvatskih franjevaca fra Marko Puljić predvodio je molitvu, a bili su nazočni svi predstavnici hrvatskih župa. Za Božić iste godine poslana je pomoć obiteljima u potrebi: obitelj Domazet za izgradnju kuće (Muć), obitelji Ivana Čuvalo za pomoć liječenja bolesnog djeteta (Ljubuški), mnogobrojnoj obitelji Drage Radića ( Slavonski Brod). Ukupni darovi u godini 2004. Koji su poslani potrebnima bili su u iznosu od 62,780.00 dolara.

Godina 2005. nastavljena je istim zanosom i ljubavlju. Već početkom godine (6. ožujka 2005.), u dvorani Sv. Jeronima održan je dobrotvorni ručak za bivšeg hrvatskog užnika Ranka Primorca, a nekoliko tjedana kasnije tradicionalnim ručkom na Cvjetnicu (20. ožujka) pomoć je poslana bolnici u Mostaru za nabavku medicinskog automobila kao i za dječju bolnicu u Rijeci. Na 15. dan mjeseca svibnja, zajedno sa svim hrvatskim župama grada Chicaga, Društvo je organiziralo skup sjećanja u povodu 60. obljetnice Bleiburga i tragedije Križnog puta. Jesenska modna revija održana je u William Tell hotelu , a modni kreatori su stigli iz Hrvatske, boutique “Rafaela” dizajnerice Jadranke Šegota. Za zabavu se pobrinuo legendarni Kićo Slabinac i Trio Rio. Prihodi s ovog skupa išli su za pomoć žrtvama vremenske nepogode, haragana Katrina, te za nabavku medicinskog aparata za bolnicu na Hvaru. Ukupni darovi u godini 2005. koje je Društvo skupilo i poslalo iznosili su 52,000.00 dolara.

Prva polovica 2006. godine obilježila je pomoći za potrebnu djecu. Naime na Cvjetnicu (6. travnja 2006.) svečanim ručkom u Hrvatskom centru u Chicagu pomognuta su djeca u “Dječjem domu Egipat” u Sarajevu i dječjem vrtiću u Kiseljaku. U jesen iste godine organizirano je skupljanje pomoći za obitelj Migić koja se vratila u Hrvatsku. Modnom revijom održanom 22. listopada u Hrvatskom kulturnom centru, Chicago, uz hrvatske momke i djevojke iz naše zajednice kao manekeni, skupljena je pomoć za dvije bolnice: u Splitu i Osijeku. Ukupni darovi poslani u toj 2006. godini iznosili su 34,830.00 dolara.

Godina 2007. počela je obilježavanjem i sjećanjem ponovno na bleiburške događaje. Naime na Cvjetnicu 1. travnja 2007. godine u Hrvatskom kulturnom centru organizirano je skupljanje donacija za izgradnju sakralnog prostora na Bleiburgu. Odaziv ljudi naše hrvatske zajednice bio ja zaista fantastičan. Zajedno sa hrvatskim župama našeg grada bio je ovo događaj ponosa. U jesen te godine održana je tardicionalna modna revija u Ashton Place hotel. Po prvi put Društvo je predstavilo modu poznate trgovine “Lord &Tylor”. Prihod ove revije otišao je za pomoć Domu zdravlja u Slunju. Također je poslana donacija za kapelicu u Vukovaru, te je pomognuta obitelji Tomić s 11 djece iz Slavonskog Broda. Ukupni darovi te godine 2007. dosegli su fantastičnih 68,330.00 dolara.

U prošloj godini 2008. nastavljen je rad istim žarom.  16. ožujka 2008. u Hrvatskom kulturnom centru u Chicagu, svečanim ručkom na Cvjetnicu pružena je pomoć obiteljima u nevolji i potrebi, te je poslana pomoć Udruzi Specijalne policije iz Domovinskog rata “Tigar” u Gospiću. U jesen prošle godine, 19. listopada održana je Modna revija pod nazivom “Tradicijsko u suvremenom” u Holiday Inn North Shore u Skokie. Ovo je bila drugačija modna revija od svih dosadašnjih, a predstavili su je gosti iz Zagreba s voditeljem gosp. Josipom Forjanom iz “Posudionice i radionice narodnih nošnji” iz Zagreba. Njihov dolazak je sponsorirao grad Zagreb, uz pomoć pročelnika za kulturu Pavla Kalinića. Sve ovo svakako ne bi bilo moguće bez nezaobilazne potpore u ovom i svim događajima, hrvatske konzulice gospodične Zorice Matković. Prihodi su poslani staračkom domu “Sveti Josip Radnik” u Ljubuškom kojeg vode časne sestre, s prvotnom namjerom uvođenja grijanja koje do tada nije postojalo. Također je poslana pomoć dječjem vrtiću “Pčelice” u Livnu, te baki Elizabeti Lepinski koja vodi brigu o svojoj unuci Matei koja je ostala bez oba roditelja. Ukupni darovi u 2008. iznosili su 48,000.00 dolara.   Na samom kraju godine, u najhladniju nedjelju mjeseca prosinca u povijesti Chicaga, u organizaciji “Društva Hrvatska žena grana broj 1”, održan je svečani skup u čast izlaska na slobodu hrvatskog užnika Zvonka Bušića. Tako je s ovom godinom i ovim skupom završeno jedno poglavlje povijesti u kojem je ovo časno Društvo nesebično pomagalo hrvatske užnike.

Tako je Društvo samo u zadnje četiri godine skupilo i poslalo pomoć u iznosu od 266,000 dolara za potrebe potrebnih. Iako članice ovog Društva o ovome nikada ne govore, ali je vrijedno spomenuti upravo ovu količinu darova kojima je Društvo učinilo život lakšim mnogima koji pate.

Za razliku od mnogih koji se hvale dostignućima, ovo ponizno Društvo tiho radi i svojim radom čini veličanstvene stvari. Kao što je više nego očito, ovo izuzetno vrijedno Društvo hrvatskih žena grada Chicaga pisalo je povijest djelima dobra i srcem ljubavi. Njihova potpora svemu onome što u sebi nosi pečat hrvatskog, vrijednost ljudskog, cijenu povijesnog i veličinu kulturnog, vrijedna su časti i poštovanja. Dani truda i godine rada, njih evo 80, znak su da i u vrijeme hrvatskih tragedija i requiema, narodnih uspona i padova, hrvatska žena i majka, ma gdje god bila, uvijek je sačuvala srce ljubavi i oči pune nade. Za nadati se je da će mlade djevojke i supruge ugledati već sada ovu zvjezdanu stazu koja je i mukom i suzom i radosti i vjerom stvarana kroz gotovo cijelo dvadeseto stoljeće i tako tu dobrotu nastaviti i prenijeti u godine i desetljeća koje će biti onoliko lijepa, koliko mu oni podare ljubavi, vremena, smisla, vizije i vezova koji ponovno slažu raskidane niti vrijednosti u povijesnom mozaiku čije geslo jest: dobro je činiti dobro!

Fra Jozo Grbeš

U Chicagu, mjeseca siječnja, godine Gospodnje 2009.

1

A History of “Croatian Woman Branch # 1”, Chicago

1929-2009

Its Origin in the Homeland

Croatian Woman” was founded in 1921, in Zagreb, with a simple mission: Help Croatians who are in need and less fortunate. Its roots are directly tied to a movement that began in the Middle Ages but strengthened in the 19th Century, a movement toward goodwill and Christian charity. Croatia, much like the rest of the Western World, had a multitude of brotherhoods, fraternities, and Roman Catholic organizations focused on philanthropy and altruism spread throughout the country. After the First World War and the creation of Yugoslavia, many of the existing and newly founded organizations began to take on Croatian-nation-oriented agendas in a direct response to the installment of the pro Serbian government and its attempt to erase the national identity of the Croatian people. Similarly, women involved in Stjepan Radic’s political party founded “Croatian Heart” with the same goals in mind: Helping Croatians who were less fortunate while also preserving Croatian Catholic culture. In fact, “Croatian Heart” was the predecessor to the organization “Croatian Woman,” which was founded by Maria Kumicic. The first president to be chosen was Zora pl. Trnski, and her vice presidents were Ivka barunica Ozegovic and Maria Kumicic. Being the wives of famous writers and political figures in Croatia, these women’s distinguished last names already displayed the legitimacy of the organization and its ability to influence the community. Another display of the organization’s legitimacy was its instant proliferation throughout the country: Petrinje (July 1921), Osijek (July 1921), Pozega (July 1921), Karlovac (September 1921), followed in 1922 by Jastrebarsko, Sisak, Daruvar, Gospic, Vukovar, and many other cities.

From the start “Croatian Woman,” as an organization, was strongly built with a foundation based on clearly set goals in the cultural and humanitarian fields. Their goodwill was deeply imbedded, far-reaching, and felt by many throughout the world wherever Croatians live and people are in need. Their work is best exemplified and stated in the beginning of the organization’s bylaws, which were written by Slava Furst and Julka Patriarch, and which were chartered on May 21, 1921. The bylaws state: “The goal of the organization is to cultivate a social standard among Croatian women, which is conducive to the promotion of social, public, economic, moral and humanitarian health in both national and feminist fields.” In order to achieve this, the women divided the goals into separate categories and designated four separate branches: cultural, feminist, humanitarian, and social. Josipa Glembay wrote this song to illustrate their goals in Osijek in 1922.

Live work and suffer for your country

For Croatian unity is our only hope

The day is near when we will rejoice

Sing proudly in one voice:

Condemn evil, cherish freedom —

This is the motto of Croatian women.”

Their unconditional love for their people led them into many fields which brought them into conflict with the authorities. In the early 1920s, during the Serbian monarchy, the organization was banned because of “nationalistic and separatist activities.” Because of their participation in the celebration of the famous Croatian activists Dr. Ante Starcevic and Stjepan Radic, where over one thousand people gathered, the state prohibited the existence of “Croatian Woman” on June 12, 1922. In nearly the same week “Croatian Woman” in the city of Karlovac suffered the same fate. The prohibitions, however, were short lived. Even though the organization was punished and prohibited because of their love for their people and their country, they continued their work with a strong determination. Despite all of their hard work, the N.D.H. shut down all existing offices of “Croatian Woman” on May 5, 1943. Twenty two years of humanitarian, cultural, and patriotic work, which began on Patacickinova Street, would cease to exist.

Croatian Woman” in America

Only a few years after the foundation of “Croatian Woman” in Zagreb, its first branch would open in Chicago. It was the original idea of Agata Durak and her daughter Vilma Strunjak to start a woman’s organization in Chicago’s Croatian community. She brought this idea to the attention of Dominican Father Innocent Bojanic at Holy Trinity Croatian Parish in Chicago. With his support, “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1 – Chicago” was founded on January 27, 1929. Soon the first meeting was called to order, with the following women present: Klara Skvorc (first president), Barbara Balija, Rosalija Kovacevic Kirin, Rosalija Sedar Vuksanovic, Frances Frkonja, Mary Karacic, Borislava Absac, Ruza Cesar and Magdalena Guldenpfening. From the beginning, the women decided that their main goals would be to help people on both the cultural and humanitarian levels while also displaying Croatian culture to the American people. Immediately, the group was active in creating exhibits throughout the greater Chicagoland area. The state of Illinois recognized the importance of the organization and granted them a legal charter within the year. Almost instantly twenty six other branches registered throughout the country.

During the Thirties and Forties, when war engulfed the entire world, “Croatian Woman” did all they could to help. In America and abroad, they worked with the Red Cross and local hospitals, sending packages to soldiers and medical aid to the wounded. They donated time and money to help their homeland, Croatia, and everyone who was suffering and in pain. After the war, when Croatian refugees were scattered all over Europe and South America, “Croatian Woman” did their best to accommodate their needs.

After the misfortunes of the war subsided, the organization returned to one of their original goals – promoting Croatian culture in America. In the Midwest, the organization showed great support for Duquesne University, one of the first universities to offer the Croatian language, Croatian folklore and Croatian music as part of their curriculum. Through this, “Croatian Woman” was able to help educate a new generation of Croatians born in America, who needed to combine the knowledge of two cultures. It was their goal to teach their children to be proud both of the United States of America and their Croatian heritage.

Even in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, when the homeland was isolated by the Iron Curtain of Communism, “Croatian Woman” found ways to send food, medicine and financial aid to the countless victims of flooding and earthquakes. Meanwhile, Croatian Catholic missionaries worked hard, combating misery and poverty, to spread the Christian Faith and love. “Croatian Woman” does all it can to support these missionaries and churches.

Activism Over the Last Fifteen Years

Over the last fifteen years “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1” has been highly active in Chicago’s Croatian community. This not-for-profit organization’s social, humanitarian, cultural and educational services to this community are magnificent to say the least. It would be impossible to list everything that they have done for Croatia and its Chicago community, so we will attempt to share only a small portion with you.

In 1988, “Croatian Woman” helped Croatian writers and activists in Croatia and all over the world. Their aid toward humanitarian groups and their leaders is only a continuation of their traditional work since their foundation in 1921. Even when Communism’s grasp of the country was the strongest, the organization helped countless independent film producers and artists spread the truth about the Croatian tragedy in Yugoslavia. During this time they also helped Croatian prisoners in America and elsewhere with letters, petitions, and legal counsel.

In 1989, the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary and was honored to receive Dr. Ruzica Cavar from Croatia as the keynote speaker at their annual banquet. Dr. Cavar was a human rights activist with a background in medicine. Her speech directly challenged the women of Chicago to get more involved in the democratic process here and abroad. As a result, the organization expanded from one hundred to over two hundred members in the Chicagoland area. The year 1989 also marked the beginning of Croatia’s decision to secede from Yugoslavia. “Croatian Woman” was actively involved in materializing the age-old dream of a free Croatia. From the beginning, the organization raised funds to help Franjo Tudjman, the future president of Croatia, and other political activists despite knowledge that these figures were blacklisted by the Yugoslav government, which made any association life threatening.

In 1990, the organization strengthened its ties to the Croatian government and its Catholic Church on the road to freedom, independence, and a brighter future. While doing so, “Croatian Woman” never forgot about its obligations to the poor and sick. An example of this was when the organization gathered funds to help a group of blind children who needed expensive surgeries to see again. That summer the president of “Croatian Woman” in Chicago, Zlata Ivezic; secretary Milica Trutin; and treasurer Nevenka Jurkovic traveled to Zagreb to help set up the revival of “Croatian Woman” in its homeland. After forty-three years of absence due to its prohibition in 1943, the organization made its triumphant return to Zagreb with the establishment of its startup committee.

In the fall of that same year “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1 – Chicago” hosted its first annual fashion show. The proceeds were immediately sent to Croatia. In October the president, Zlata Ivezic, traveled to Croatia to attend the first ever Assembly of Croatian Women in Zagreb. The trip was made special when Zlata Ivezic donated $2,000.00 in the name of “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1 – Chicago” and returned the original flag and coat of arms, two historical artifacts which had been guarded in Chicago for over sixty years.

In the same year, the organization sent financial help to coal miners in Tuzla, and the Catholic charity Karitas in Zagreb. This is also the year when the board, together with all of its members, gathered to revise and create a new set of goals to take “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1 – Chicago” into the future. This is a simplified version of their vision:

Gathering of humanitarian aid and preparing containers (40×10 feet) to be sent to Croatia.

Creating pamphlets, petitions, literature etc. for promotion of Croatian causes.

Organizing prayer services and vigils in the name of world peace.

Collecting donations.

Creating fund-raisers.

Organizing an annual fashion show.

Organizing bake sales.

Selling olive branches as a sign of peace.

In the spring of 1991, when Croatia was in the midst of the political, economic and regional crisis, the organization sent their first shipment of humanitarian aid, which would one day amount to over one hundred containers equaling more than $10 million in value.

During the same year, when everyone donated to the Croatian National Fund, “Croatian Woman” led the way by donating $15,000.00. They also sent $5,000.00 for medicinal needs and $10,000.00 to wounded soldiers in the escalating war.

As stated before, their activities were not only humanitarian. “Croatian Woman” also participated in, and organized many rallies and demonstrations in attempts to help win the battle for Croatia’s recognition. It is also important to acknowledge the local parishes and churches for their help and public approval and support during this time.

In 1992, Nevenka Jurkovic became president of “Croatian Woman, Branch No. 1 – Chicago.” Obligations and activities would also multiply due to the ever growing need for assistance in wartime Croatia. The organization helped Prof. P. Cohen published his book about the tragedies that had befallen the Jews in Serbia. They also purchased medical equipment and donated money to wounded soldiers and other victims of the war. Because of the growing need for financial aid, “Croatian Woman” found itself organizing at least one fund raiser/banquet per month. In March of 1992, proceeds went to Croatian war invalids. In April, proceeds went to Croatian orphanages throughout the country. Later, recognizing the hardships caused by the Serbian military in eastern Slavonia, the organization sent $4,500.00 to the besieged city of Osijek. At the end of the year, “Croatian Woman” co organized an event hosting as an honored guest the esteemed U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago.

In 1993, information was released that the first Croatian embassy would open on American soil and the organization did their part to help fund it. In March, after receiving the horrendous news of massive destruction in the area of Karlovac, “Croatian Woman” donated $10,000 to its hospital. In June, a banquet for rape victims of war was organized with Jadranka Cigelj, herself a victim of the Serbian-run concentration camps. She was the main guest speaker. In the same month, president Nevenka Jurkovic and vice president Marica Tomacic traveled to Zagreb to attend the first “Croatian Congress of Croatian Woman” in Zagreb, while members at home conducted a simultaneous prayer vigil. This would prove to be the definitive moment in the revival of “Croatian Woman” as an international organization with its roots finally replanted in Croatian soil.

In a time when history seems to be written and choreographed by the media, members of “Croatian Woman”, knowing the importance of information, sent letters, factual documents, and financial donations to the Croatian Information Center in Zagreb.

In November they organized the arrival of the Croatian National Theatre, famous for their theatrical performances all over Europe. The organization also invited and brought to Chicago Kata Soljic, a mother who lost four sons to the war, as a guest speaker.

1994 would prove to be a very special year. Beginning with its anniversary on February 5, “Croatian Woman, Br. No. 1 Chicago” celebrated an astounding 65 years of existence. This special day began at the Croatian Ethnic Institute at 4851 S. Drexel Blvd., followed by Holy Mass at St. Jerome’s Church in Bridgeport. The celebration ended at St. Jerome’s banquet hall, where everyone was honored by the presence of these highly esteemed guests:

Dragica Pandek, President, “Croatian Woman, Zagreb”

Mario Nobilo, Croatian Ambassador, United Nations, N.Y.

Gordana Turic, Croatian Parliament representative, Zagreb

Anthony Petrusic, President, Croatian Catholic Union for the U.S. and Canada

Anthony Beric, President, Amcro, New York

Snjezana Franetovic “Croatian Woman, Branch #32 – Detroit”

Pola Maydak “Croatian Woman Branch #3 – Milwaukee”

Jasminka Corluka “Croatian Woman – Montreal”

Brother Regis and Sister Dora of the Salvatorian Mission House, New Holstein, Wisconsin

At this same event, “Croatian Woman, Br. #1 – Chicago” published and released its 65th Anniversary edition, which contained local advertisements and a brief but concise history of the organization. Also worthy of mention, are the publications for the Chicago branch’s 45th, 50th, 55th, and 60th years of existence.

At this time “Croatian Woman” joined the Croatian World Congress in meetings held in both Cleveland and Zagreb, and also the Croatian American Congress in Chicago. Together with the Croatian Catholic Union and the Croatian parishes of Chicago, they helped organize the “Action for Life” annual banquet and which sponsored orphaned children from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also organized the Croatian Art Exhibit in the Chicago State Building which became a yearly event.

In 1995, special guest Damir Plavsic, president of HVIDRA (students wounded in war), was present at the banquet held at the Croatian Cultural Center which raised $25,000.00 for the wounded Croatian students. In October, “Croatian Woman” had its yearly Fashion Show which was special this year due to the fact that models displayed Croatian ethnic costumes. The organization also raised $5,000.00 for the Franciscan monastery in Konavle, near Dubrovnik. They also donated $8,000.00 to the “Croatian American Association,” whose main function is to lobby for Croatian causes in Washington.

Many people need to be thanked for the success of “Croatian Woman”: From the countless volunteers like Milica Trutin and Nina Perovic who individually helped pack the containers, to the organizations like the Croatian Catholic Union and the Salvatorian Mission House in Wisconsin, and all of the Croatian Parishes in Chicago who actively participated in this project. In all one hundred containers filled with over $10 million worth of aid was sent to various cities in Croatia. These cities all confirmed arrival and expressed their appreciation: Zagreb, Rijeka, Mostar, Zadar, Sibenik, Vrlika, Ljubuski, Klostar Ivanic, Sinj, Osijek, Djakovo, Imotski, Karlovac, Vinkovci, Poljica kod Omisa, Sestanovci Katuni, Posusje, Split, Siroki Brijeg, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod, Vrgorac, Tomislav Grad, Gabela Polje Metkovic, and Capljina, including different groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Croatian Woman” also gave a helping hand to social groups here in Chicago area, such as Mercy Home, Children’s Memorial Hospital, and Misercordia etc.

In 1996, “Croatian Woman” held their 67th anniversary banquet at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago, raising money for political prisoners and their families in the U.S. In May, they organized an emotionally touching exhibit at DePaul University which displayed the art work of children who had witnessed and survived the atrocities of the war against Croatia. That same year in October, their fashion show raised $25,000.00 for the Dubrava Center in Zagreb for handicapped children and young adults. They also raised $4,000.00 for the Croatian Cultural Center in Vukovar to help rebuild the devastated city.

In 1997, the annual banquet brought to Chicago special guests Cardinal Vinko Puljic, the archbishop of Sarajevo; Mrs. Ljilja Vokic, the Minister of Education and Sports in Croatia; and her assistant, Mrs. Vlasta Sabljak. In June, “Croatian Woman” helped to organize an art exhibit featuring the works of the famous naive artist Ivan Lackovic which were displayed in the halls of the Croatian Ethnic Institute in Chicago. They also gave another $1,000.00 to the Croatian American Association.

1998 proved to be another noteworthy year. Of the many actions taken, the most notable was the donation of $30,000.00 to the University of Mostar. They also co organized an exhibit honoring Cardinal Alojzija Stepinac on the 100th anniversary of his birth. They also helped sponsor a book by Dr. Ante Cuvalo titled The Historical Dictionary of Bosnia and Hecegovina, which was sent to the libraries of all major universities and many government officials. In January, “Croatian Woman” joined several other organizations in their support for “Friends of Vukovar” and donated $3,000.00 to help rebuild their center for handicapped children. In June, they organized the book signing of “Healing the Heart of Croatia.” Present at the Croatian Cultural Center were the authors – Fr. Joseph Kerrigan and world-renown pediatric heart surgeon Dr. William M. Novick. Dr. Novick is a professor at the University of Tennessee and also the medical director of the “International Children’s Heart Foundation.” Together with Fr. Kerrigan, a Catholic Priest at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tennessee, the two traveled to Zagreb and saved the lives of countless children from certain death.

On February 6, 1999 the 70th anniversary celebration of this organization was held at the Croatian Cultural center. Among the many guests present at this event was the president of Croatian Woman in Zagreb, Mrs. Dragica Pandek, vice president Zlata Horvatic, and Croatian parliament representative Gordana Turic. The presence of Dr. William Novick, the well-known children’s heart surgeon from the University of Tennessee in Memphis was especially significant for this event. The profit from this anniversary celebration was sent to Rebro hospital in Zagreb to help children with heart defects and to purchase heart monitors. On Palm Sunday of the same year, the members sold olive branches in front of our Croatian churches to help raise funds for upcoming events. In the fall of the same year another successful fashion show was held at William Tell hotel. Funds raised from this event were used to purchase incubators for the children’s hospital in Split. Aside from humanitarian work, the organization supported cultural events, such as bringing two actors from Croatia, Helen Buljan and Dubravka Miletic, who put on a comedy at St. Jerome’s parish hall.

In 1999, Croatian Woman also helped the Combaj family by being Godparent to the family’s 11th child.

The new millennium began with a concert whose performer was Drazen Zanko, a well-known Croatian singer. His concert was held on January 29th at St. Jerome’s parish hall and funds raised from the concert were sent once again to the children’s hospital in Split. The traditional fashion show was different in 2000 because the fashions presented were by Gordana Radic, a well-known Croatian designer who came from Croatia to introduce her wonderful clothing line. The event was held on October 22nd at the Holiday Inn hotel and was quite successful. The proceeds from this event were sent to Mostar (to purchase gastroscopes).

2001 began with another cultural event. The organization assisted in promoting the book by Julianne Busic, “Lovers and Madmen,” which tells the life story of Julianne and Zvonko Busic and their fight for a free Croatia. On April 4th of the same year, the traditional Palm Sunday luncheon was held. Proceeds were sent to Croatian families in Knin through St. Anthony’s charity. On October 21st of the same year, the annual fashion show was held and it was especially successful. It was held at the Croatian Cultual Center for the first time and all proceeds were sent to help the families of the victims of the September 11 tragedy in New York. The donation was sent through the Catholic charities.

In 2002 two very big events took place, the first was the Palm Sunday luncheon on March 24th. Proceeds from this event were sent to assist the city of Vukovar. The honored guest for this event was Maja Freundlich from Zagreb, who is a well-known writer. The other big event to take place was the annual fashion show on October 20th, which was held at Royalty West Hotel.

In 2003, the Palm Sunday luncheon and very successful fashion show were held at the Croatian Cultural Center. Proceeds from these events were sent to Croatia. Over 450 guests attended the fashion show, that being the biggest and most successful show.

The year 2004 was busy with several activities. The Palm Sunday luncheon gathered Chicago Croatians who once again showed their generosity to those in need. And on September 12th, the organization held a banquet to assist Ante Ljubas, who was released from prison after 23 years. The banquet was held at St. Jerome’s parish hall and many guests were present. The fall fashion show was held at the Croatian Cultural Center on October 24th and the proceeds were sent to Kiseljak to assist in building a day-care center, run by Franciscan sisters. Neven Jurica, the ambassador from Croatia, came from Washington D.C. to attend this event.

In the five years before it turned 75, “Croatian Women” demonstrated great vitality, as a summary of some of its accomplishments shows: assisting Croatian prisoners, radio clubs, the Croatian American Association, the Croatian parishes in Chicago, organizations for Croatian studies in America, a children’s hospital in Chicago, many families in need in Zagreb, Split, Jajce, Vukovar, etc., day-care centers, charities, cultural performances, building of memorials in Croatia, purchasing of medical equipment for hospitals in Zagreb, Split and Mostar, helping poor Croatian students, printing a book about Croatia, supporting a symposium about Vukovar in Washington D.C., purchasing property for Croatian refugees in Knin, helping families of the 9/11 tragedy in New York, and many other projects which are too many to list.

November 27, 2004, a grand celebration of the 75th anniversary of the organization’s existence was held in St. Jerome’s parish hall, featuring the main guest, Fr. Zlatko Spehar, the Franciscan Superior from Vukovar. All of the proceeds from this event went to help the children of Vukovar. The newly appointed Consul to Chicago of the Republic of Croatia, Ms. Zorica Matkovic, was also a guest. Fr. Marko Puljic, Custos of the Croatian Franciscans, led the prayers. Representatives from all of the Croatian parishes were in attendance. For Christmas of that year, help was sent to families in need: the Domazet family, to build a house (Muc); the Ivan Cuvalo family, for medical help for their child (Ljubuski); the many members of the Drago Radica family (Slavonski Brod). Donations collected in 2004 and sent to the needy were in the amount of $62,780.00.

The year 2005 saw the continuation of the same love and enthusiasm. Early in the year, on March 5, a benefit luncheon was held at St. Jerome Parish for former Croatian prisoner Ranko Primorac. A few weeks later the traditional philanthropic luncheon on Palm Sunday, March 20, took place for the benefit of a Mostar hospital’s purchase of an ambulance, as well as for the children’s hospital in Rijeka. On May 15, together with all of Chicago’s Croatian parishes, the society organized a memorial gathering in observance of the 60th anniversary of Bleiburg and the tragedy of the “Krizni Put” (the way of the cross traveled by Croatians tortured by the Partizans). The fall fashion show was held at the William Tell Hotel, with fashion creators from Croatia, featuring Jadranka Segota, a designer from boutique “Rafaela.” The entertainment was provided by the legendary Kico Slabinac and Trio Rio. Revenue from this event went to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and to the hospital in Hvar for the purchase of medical equipment. The total amount raised by the society in 2005 and given to charitable causes was $52,000.00.

The first half of 2006 was dedicated to helping needy children. Namely, on Palm Sunday, April 6, the annual benefit luncheon held at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago, helped two children’s centers: “Egipat Children’s Home” in Sarajevo, and the pre-school in Kiseljak. In fall of this year a collection was taken to help the Migic family, who returned to Croatia. The annual fashion show was held on October 22, at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago, featuring young people from our community as models. The proceeds from this event were sent to a hospital in Split and one in Osijek. Money raised during the year totaled $34,830.00.

The year 2007 began by marking and recalling once again the events at Bleiburg. At the annual Palm Sunday luncheon on April 1, the society organized a collection of donations to establish a sacred space at Bleiburg. The response of the Croatian people of our community was truly fantastic. This was a proud occasion for the Croatian community of our city. The yearly fall fashion show was held at Ashton Place Hotel. For the first time, the society presented fashions from the famous Lord & Taylor store. Proceeds from this event went to help the health center in Slunj. A donation was also sent to the chapel in Vukovar, and to the Tomic family of 11 children in Slavonski Brod. Total funds raised during this year reached the fantastic sum of $68,330.00.

Last year, 2008, the work of the society continued with the same zeal. The traditional Palm Sunday luncheon, held at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago, provided help to families in trouble and need by sending the money raised by the event to a special police association in Gospic. In the fall, the annual fashion show took place on October 19, at the Holiday Inn North Shore in Skokie under the title of “Traditional in Contemporary.” This one was different from all preceding fashion shows. It was presented by guests from Zagreb lead by Mr. Josip Forjan of the Zagreb shop for renting and making national costumes. The guests were sponsored by the city of Zagreb with the help of the Director of Culture, Pavle Kalinic. All of this, however, would not have been possible without the indispensable help of the Croatian Consul, Zorica Matkovic. Funds raised by this event were sent to St. Joseph the Worker home for the elderly in Ljubuski, an institution run by nuns. The primary purpose of this charitable donation was to install a heating system, something the home has never had. Funds also went to the preschool “Pcelice” in Livno, and to Elizabet Lepinski, a grandmother caring for her orphaned grandchild. Funds raised this year totaled $48,000.00. At the end of this year, on the coldest December Sunday in the history of Chicago, the “Croatian Woman, Branch #1” organization sponsored a special gathering in honor of the release of Croatian prisoner Zvonko Busic. This occasion marked the end of the year and the end of another chapter in the history of this noble organization that so unselfishly came to the aid of a Croatian prisoner.

In the last 4 years alone, this society raised funds and sent help in the amount of $266,000.00 to the needy. Although the members of this group never speak about this accomplishment, it is nonetheless worth mentioning the amount of donations that enabled the organization to make easier the lives of many who suffer.

It is apparent that this exceptionally worthy organization of Croatian women in Chicago bravely wrote their own history through volunteer actions and heart-felt love. Their support for all things related to love, humanity, culture, and the Croatian identity must be recognized and honored. These past times of hardship and years of labor are testament to the fact that through times of Croatian tragedy and persecution, Croatian women and mothers, wherever they might be, will always keep their hearts full of love and their eyes full of hope. Hopefully young women and wives, here in America and in Croatia, will recognize the importance of what their mothers and grandmothers established through blood, sweat and tears over many decades of work, and realize that the 21st Century will only be as beautiful and rewarding through the same volunteer labor and heart-felt love, which is exemplified in the Croatian Woman’s motto, “It is good to do good.”

Fr. Jozo Grbes


The Future of America's Croatian Youth

The Need for Modernization of the National and Grassroots Infrastructure of the Croatian-American Community

     Luka Misetic

     The future of the Croatian-American community lies, obviously, in its youth. The concept of the term “Croatian-American Youth,” however, encompasses a broad range of people who come from diverse backgrounds. They come from all class levels, they range in different ages, they come from various educational backgrounds, and they come from different upbringings depending upon the strength of the Croatian community from which they come. Despite this diversity, however, the “Croatian-American Youth” are remarkably consistent in their answers and views of the Croatian American community, and their vision of our community in the 21st Century.

     In an informal, unscientific internet survey of Croatian-American youth, ten questions were posed. These questions were as follows:

     1. How do you see the present general situation among Croatians in the USA?

     2. How do you see the future of the Croatian American Community in the USA?

     3. How do you see the role of your generation in the present/future Croatian community in the USA?

     4. How much is your generation really interested in preserving the Croatian identity in this country?

     5. How did the independence of Croatia affect your generation?

     6. What forces have had the greatest impact upon your Croatianism?

     7. How do you perceive the leading figures among the Croatians in the USA at the present time?

     8. If you visited Croatia in recent times, how do you perceive the general situation in Croatia?

     9. Would you consider going to Croatia to live and work permanently?

     10. What do you think, as an American Croatian, are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the Croatians in general?

     The results of this survey reveal that, in general, younger Croatian Americans have a strong attachment to their native land and wish to maintain as close a link as possible to their Croatian heritage. However, they also believe that our community is generally divided and lacks a sense of direction or purpose, especially with the achievement of Croatian independence and the end of the war. Almost all respondents felt that the community was filled with talented, educated and ambitious individuals who were dedicated to the strengthening of the Croatian American community, as well as to the development of an independent, democratic, free market Republic of Croatia. These resources, however, are being wasted because of the lack of organization within our community.

     This paper will provide an overview of the results of the unscientific Internet poll. We received 36 completed responses, ranging from each coast of the United States and points scattered in between. The following answers were provided to our questioning:

     What is the general state of the Croatian American Community?

     Respondents generally feel that the community is less proactive than it was in the early 1990’s. They describe the situation as “fragmented and unorganized,” “lacking unity,” and lacking leadership. Overall, there is a sense that the community is slowly deteriorating, and to make matters worse, this mood is combined with an overall sense of resignation that nothing much will change in the future. There is a consensus that our community lacks leadership and organization. Respondents describe a once vibrant community that is now experiencing a broad sense of apathy and malaise. On the positive side, some respondents believe that the community is vibrant, and that the future is bright because of the increasing numbers of educated professionals in our ranks.

     How does the youth see the future of the Croatian Community?

     The overall majority of respondents felt that the Croatian community would become (or would continue to remain) fragmented, unorganized, and assimilated. Others said that it was too difficult to tell, and a minority felt that the community would “remain strong and tight-knit.” The view of most was that there was a distinct lack of leadership and impetus to bring about long term unity and build a solid foundation for the Croatian-American community. A minority of respondents felt that the future of the Croatian-American community involved a return to Croatia, either on a permanent basis or through some other direct involvement with the home country.

     How do you see the role of your generation in the present/future Croatian community in the USA?

     Responses ranged from the positive: “we are the cross-roads generation that will transform our community as a result of our education and job opportunities;” to the negative: “the Croatian- American youth will assimilate into American culture, and it will be up to new immigrants to continue the Croatian culture in the United States.” Most responses were in between those two extremes. There is a certain level of anxiety among the respondents because most do not know what the future holds for the Croatian-American community. A level of frustration underlies their views of the future. This frustration appears to be born of a combination of factors, but mostly because there is a sense that there is interest and passion for Croatia and all things Croatian among the youth, but there is also a certain resignation to the notion that Croatian-Americans are too disorganized, too divergent, and lacking in leadership to capitalize on the interest and passion that certainly exists in their respective communities.

     How much is your generation really interested in preserving the Croatian identity in this country?

     A significant majority of respondents answered that there is a strong interest in preserving Croatian identity in this country. Our respondents, however, were unable to determine exactly which elements within the Croatian community were most interested in preserving culture, nor were they able to determine why this interest was prevalent. Nevertheless, almost all of the respondents felt that there is an interest within the younger Croatian generations for maintaining their cultural identity. It is interesting to note, however, the observations of some respondents who felt that this interest is developed on an individual by individual or family by family basis, and not as a result of the efforts of the Croatian community as a whole.

     How did the independence of Croatia affect your generation?

     This question evoked the most passionate answers among our respondents. All of the respondents felt that the achievement of Croatian independence was a turning point in their lives. A significant number, for example, recalled childhood days when classmates and others had no idea what Croatia or a Croatian was. Thus, these respondents felt that when Croatian independence was achieved, it was not only a national turning point, but a personal vindication which granted them co-equal standing with other ethnic groups and individuals. The essence of the responses was that Croatian independence increased their personal pride and self-esteem.

     Other positive views were that the drive for Croatia’s independence was a tremendous unifying force that served as a catalyst for social c
ohesion within our community. All of the respondents report with pride at the efforts of their own local Croatian community during 1991-95, when their communities provided material, financial and political support to Croatia in its struggle for independence.

     The negative, however, of this period of social cohesion is that the spirit of cohesion and progress deflated like a balloon after the struggle for independence was completed. The aftermath of the achievement of independence is that the community is left without a unifying goal. The energy of the early 90’s has dissipated.

     An interesting trend was the conclusion by some respondents that Croatian independence would have long term benefits for the maintenance of Croatian culture because more and more people would be traveling to or working in Croatia. The ties with the mother country will be stronger than in the pre-independence period, and as a result the Croatian-American community will be stronger and our culture more likely to be preserved.

      What forces have had the greatest impact upon your Croatianism?

     Our respondents offered both positive and negative influences on their “Croatianism.” Most, if not all, mentioned their parents as the primary source of their Croatian identity. The Church was a close second in terms of Croatian influence. Other positive influences on Croatian identity included: Croatian independence, the war for independence, more travel to Croatia, cultural/folklore groups.

     There were not many “negative influences” on our respondents’ Croatianism. Some negatives, however, included: disharmony with the Croatian community, too much politics associated with being Croatian, and disappointment with the Croatians in Croatia.

     How do you perceive the leading figures among the Croatians in the USA at the present time?

     Unfortunately, most of our respondents could not name a single leader within the Croatian- American community. Those that were mentioned included Melchior Masina, President of the Croatian Catholic Union; Anthony Peraica, former President of the Croatian American Association; Bernard Luketich, President of the Croatian Fraternal Union; and Dr. Ante Cuvalo, professor at Joliet Community College. Many respondents simply stated that the leadership of the Croatian-American community was comprised exclusively of older men, mostly first generation, and that there were no leaders within the younger generation.

     The inability to provide answers to this question reveals the fundamental frustration of the Croatian youth: the desire to capitalize on the passion for Croatia, but the lack of any recognizable leadership or institutions through which to organize.

     If you visited Croatia in recent times, how do you perceive the general situation in Croatia?

     Our respondents provided their answers in 1999, before the recent election and change in government in Croatia. Nevertheless, their answers provide insight into the perception of the Croatian-American youth regarding the situation in Croatia.

     All of our respondents feel that Croatia is a country of significant beauty and natural resources and that it has all the elements necessary to be a successful and prosperous nation. This includes the people, whom our respondents view as warm and friendly and the backbone of Croatia.

     Our respondents, however, view the overall situation in Croatia as bleak. Politically in 1999, our respondents felt that too much power had been concentrated in too few people and that this was not healthy for Croatia. The economic situation was viewed as depressing and bleak, and many commented that their relatives are struggling under these difficult economic conditions.

     Would you consider going to Croatia to live and work permanently?

     On the positive side, almost all of our respondents indicated that they would consider returning to Croatia to live and work permanently. The reason for this is summed up by one person: “When I am in Croatia, I just get the sense that this is where I belong.” Most indicated that they love Croatia, its natural beauty and the way of life.

     On the negative side, however, most respondents indicated that they would in fact not return to Croatia, even though they would consider it. The reason boils down to one reason only: the economy and the lack of opportunity. Our respondents reasoned that they did not believe that opportunities existed for them. They believed that even if they could obtain employment, they were not sure that they would receive paychecks. The standard of living is much lower than here in the United States, and our respondents were unwilling to lower their standard of living significantly.

     Most of the respondents perceived the situation in Croatia in 1999 as politically and economically bleak, and therefore did not believe that they would return permanently to Croatia in the near future.

     What do you think, as an American Croatian, are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the Croatians in general?

     The greatest strengths of the Croatian community, according to our respondents, were: hard- working people, united, proud, strong family bonds, determined, intelligent, honest.

     The greatest weaknesses of Croatians in general were: disunited, unmotivated (due to the end of the war), stubborn, impatient, lack of professional role models and leaders, too political. Others complained that Croatians in Croatia had become too lazy as a result of the communist system.

     It is interesting to note that our respondents were divided almost evenly as to whether the trait of “unity” was a strength or a weakness of Croatians in general.

     Conclusion

     The informal internet survey reveals that the Croatian American youth generally is very interested in maintaining its cultural identity and in helping Croatia prosper. Nevertheless, there is an overall frustration with the lack of leadership and organization within the Croatian-American community. The younger generation is crying out for the establishment of a new “social infrastructure,” that will unite the younger generation and the community as a whole.

     Much of the social infrastructure established over the last 50 years was designed to cater to the needs of either the post-World War II generation or of the immigrant generations of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Thus, churches, cultural centers and fraternal organizations were built for, and are currently dominated by, the over-40 age group. Needless to say, this has left many in the under- 40 crowd feeling left out, or alternatively feeling that the existing social infrastructure does not address the needs of a generation which is not blue collar, like their parents, but more likely employed in a profession. This younger generation feels that their talents are underutilized in the current social infrastructure. Furthermore, the current social infrastructure has built into it political and social divisiveness that is a remnant of earlier decades, and which often has nothing to do with the younger generation. The fact that these feuds continue serves to drive away a younger generation which wishes to help, but does not wish to immerse itself in the squabbles of the past.

     What is needed is a new, dynamic leadership that will capitalize on the energy, edu
cation and skill of the younger generation and provide new clubs or organizations (or new leadership in existing clubs or organizations) to modernize our community and take advantage of the tremendous resources that exist in the Croatian Youth, as well as the tremendous love for Croatia that our Croatian Youth possesses.

Triangular Relations: Croatian Diaspora, The U.S.A., And The Homeland

Presented at the Association for Croatian Studies symposium “Croatian Diaspora in the U.S.A. on the Eve of the Third Millennium” held at St. Xavier University, Chicago, April 17, 1999.
Ante Cuvalo – Chicago, Illinois
Introduction
For the ancient Greeks, diaspora [The word diaspora is a compound of two Greek words, speirein (to scatter) and the preposition dia (over, apart)] meant migration and colonization. In time, however, Jews who scattered throughout the world became known as the Diaspora. Today, diaspora denotes a variety of communities whose members or their ancestors have been dispersed from their original homeland for various reasons. Scholars do, however, distinguish several types of diasporas. One such categorization divides diasporas into the victim, labor, trade, imperial, and cultural diaspora types.[Cohen, Robin. Global diaspora – An introduction. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997, p. x.] According to this division, Africans in the Americas, Armenians, and Jews typify the victim, the British the imperial, Indians the labor, Chinese and Lebanese the trading, and the Caribbean the cultural diaspora. This and similar generalizations, however, do not reflect the full complexity of why groups of people leave their native land. The Croatian diaspora is a good example of multi-causal reasons for leaving the homeland.
Today’s Croatian diaspora communities in Austria (Gradisce/Burgenland), western Hungary, Moravia, Slovakia, Romania, and Italy are descendants of the Croats who left their country as the victims of Turkish invasions 500 years ago. The ancestors of the Croat diaspora community in Kosovo (today on the verge of extinction), however, were mining and commercial entrepreneurs who settled in the region before the Turkish onslaught.
The Croatian immigrants to the so-called New World, especially during the last one hundred years, have been leaving their homeland in large numbers for two main reasons: economic and political. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to delineate the two because the lack of economic opportunities was often linked to political oppression. In general, Croats who came to the U.S.A. and Canada at the end of the last and the beginning of this century were primarily a labor diaspora. The immediate post-World War II emigrants, on the other hand, fall into the category of victim diaspora. Most of them were directly or indirectly forced out from Yugoslavia as political undesirables. Those who left the country on their own, or were encouraged to leave, in the mid-1960s and after, were mostly job seekers in Western Europe. After staying in Western Europe for a while, many of them settled overseas, including in the United States. During this period, an increasing number of professionals, seeking better economic opportunities in the West, also left the homeland.
An interesting phenomenon, however, did occur among the Croats who left the country after 1918, especially among those who left in the 1960s and after. Namely, although they might have left the homeland for economic reasons, in a relatively short time many of them became political emigrants, seeing themselves as victims of the Yugoslav state and its regime. Lack of freedom prevented them from becoming fully conscious of their individual or national predicaments. They realized, only after leaving the country, that their misfortunes were a reflection of the predicaments of the Croats as a nation within the multi-national state of Yugoslavia. This resulted in their politicization and many began to see themselves as a “victim diaspora.”
Recent world events and the revival of Croatian independence and statehood have pushed the Croatian diaspora in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world into a new phase of history. The Croat diaspora today is in a process of reconfiguration, redirecting its energies, looking for new forms to express its identity and culture, and new ways of securing its own future. Not only the Croats in the homeland, but also the Croats outside the country are going through a time of major change. Hopefully for the better.
The First Side Of The Triangle: Croatian Diaspora And The U.S.A.
The question of identity
Is there a “homo Americanus?” There was a popular belief (held by some even today) that there was a “genuine” all-American culture into which all Americans should melt. In reality, this usually meant to conform to the Anglo-Saxon cultural values. Ethnicity was valued by some, but only as a social sub-system temporarily supplementing the culture of the majority. Thanks to the rise of Black Pride and Power, ethnicity in America became popular in the 1970s. Politicians recognized its potential and President Gerald Ford established an office of ethnic affairs in 1974. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, ethnicity has been pushed aside and even suspected of being a sign of intolerance and bigotry. “Multiculturalism” and “diversity” became the politically correct slogans of the day. These terms imply open-mindedness, inclusiveness, tolerance, and celebration of differences. In practice, however, the American form of multiculturalism, instead of being all-inclusive, turned out to be intolerant of ethnicity. Its primary focus was on gender, race, and sexual preference, while ethnic diversity was out of its scope. All Americans of European origin, for example, are seen as belonging to a single dominant and exploitative culture and history. Similarly, multiculturalists pay little attention to the ethnic differences of peoples whose origins are Latin American or Asian. The fact is that in the age of “multiculturalism” and in the name of “diversity,” ethnicity is ignored or even thought of as undesirable.
On the other hand, most European ethnic groups, including Croatians, surrender relatively quickly to the dominant American cultural values. Although I am just beginning to do research on the history of the Croatians in the Chicago area, it seems that within two or three generations the dominant American core culture is totally assumed by American Croats and what is left of the Croatian subculture are possibly grandma’s favorite dishes, a few ethnic melodies, in some cases attendance at Christmas Midnight Mass in a Croatian Catholic church, or coming to an annual Croatian festival for a taste of roasted lamb. But a meaningful ethnic consciousness is practically non-existent.
Furthermore, it seems that ethnic groups melt much faster in America than, for example, in Canada, Australia, or Latin America. This can be seen from the fact that it is quite normal for an ethnic child in Canada to be bilingual (or even trilingual), while to teach a child a second language in the U.S. is a major struggle. Learning a second language is thought by many to be a useless form of torture. Besides the lack of governmental support for ethnic language schools, the cultural predisposition in this country is such that to be an American and to speak English is more than enough!
In contrast to an aggressive pressure on immigrants and their children to Americanize during the early decades of this century, today’s Americanization process is more subtle. For example, in order to become a “true” professional and to climb upwards into the elite strata of American culture, ethnic children are expected to cut off their ties with the “historical burdens” of their parents. They are pressured to believe that the ethnic part of their lives is irrelevant, which in turn encourages them to forget the culture of their ancestors. Such young ethnics, even if they are raised in an ethnically aware home, are often tempted to “put off” their ethnicity until they are accepted by the professional elite. But, by the time they enter the elite culture, they already have distanced themselves too far from their ethnic base or become afraid that their professional success might be hurt if they identify with an ethnic group (especially, a small ethnic group). There are, for example, a number of important media, business, and political personalities of Croatian heritage in this country, but very few of them acknowledge their ethnicity.
American academia, for example, sees itself as the bastion of multiculturalism, tolerance, and diversity, yet it is very annoyed by ethnicity and what is referred to as “ethnic scholarship.” To be an accepted scholar, the commanding heights of American cultural and scholarly establishment require one to look at the world from their well-entrenched world view and accept all the prerequisites that come with it. For example, anyone who had an “unorthodox” view on the former Yugoslavia simply could not be “anointed.” In the Croatian case, one had a chance to be accepted into higher circles only if he or she were willing (or pretended) to speak “Serbo-Croatian” or to teach “Yugoslav” literature, to praise self-management and the socialist market economy, or be willing to embrace the official belief that Tito had resolved the nationality problem and had created a model system where the best of socialism and capitalism converged. To argue that all of the above was built on faulty foundations virtually meant professional death.
Thus, whether we admit it or not, all who want to move upwards into the American cultural elite and to be closer to the centers of power are pressured to cut off their ethnic ties or at least to make their ethnicity meaningless.
One should keep in mind, however, that it is always interesting, fulfilling, and sometimes rewarding to challenge the establishment and the existing status quo. To be an ethnic American, a Croatian-American, might not “fit” the conventional expectations of today’s core culture. But to have deep ethnic roots, to cherish one’s positive family traditions and values, to love the land of one’s own ancestors, and to add ethnic (Croatian) “spice” to the American culture can only enrich people’s lives and America, too.
Diaspora and the Host Country
Diasporas are usually a factor and sometimes a tool in the relationship between the so-called host country and the homeland. Very often, diasporas contribute to the establishment, strengthening, and maintenance of good relations between the new and the old homelands. The role of a diaspora can also be disruptive to such relations. However, the nature of a diaspora’s role is defined not only by the diaspora itself but many times by the host country and the homeland.
The Croatian diaspora has played both a disruptive and a constructive role in the relations between the U.S. and those who ruled the Croatian homeland. During the Yugoslav period, for example, the anti-Yugoslav Croat diaspora was seen as a harmful factor while the pro-Yugoslav segment of the diaspora was considered a positive catalyst. However, U.S. policymakers used both groups as tools of their policies toward the former Yugoslavia.
In the post-World War II period, the U.S. used the Croatian diaspora to put pressure on socialist Yugoslavia any time it wanted. Any visible recognition of pro-independence Croats by some U.S. state or federal official had an unpleasant echo in Belgrade. Furthermore, Croatians were active members of the so-called “Captive Nations” organization, which was at least a symbolic instrument of the U.S. foreign policy within the framework of the Cold War. On the other hand, when Washington wanted to make a friendly gesture and strengthen the ties with Belgrade, the elements of the pro-Yugoslav diaspora were used as instruments in promoting good relations and an attempt was made to neutralize the pro-independence groups.
The Yugoslav government used the diaspora for its own purposes, most of all by promoting visits to the “stari kraj” (the old country), by invitations to the Yugoslav independence day, by organizing festivals, etc. It used the diaspora to project an image of being a “normal” country wanting to have “normal” relations with the U.S. and with the rest of the world. The Yugoslav regime, through its agents, sometimes disguised as Croatian nationalists, undertook activities that blackened the reputation of pro-independence movement in the eyes of the world.
Furthermore, the host country and the homeland sometimes encouraged and even actively promoted divisions and fragmentation within the diaspora if they felt that its potential unity might be dangerous to the friendly relations between the two countries. The Croatian diaspora in the U.S., for example, was disunified for a long time not only because it was divided over the question of the Yugoslav state, but also because it was manipulated by both the American and Yugoslav government agencies.
At the beginning of the decade of the nineties, the role of the Croatian diaspora in this country became radically different from that of the past. As socialist Yugoslavia began to break up and the war of Serbian aggression began, American Croatians became a visible witness in Washington to the fact that the Croatian people at home and abroad wanted a free, independent, and democratic state of Croatia. During those few crucial years, the diaspora knew instinctively what to ask of the U.S. government and the American people: to stop the Serb aggression, recognize Croatian independence, and help Croatia in its post-war and post-communist era reconstruction. It is probably impossible to measure how much the diaspora did influence the official Washington and the American public opinion, but one could say for certain that its activities did have a very positive effect on the fate of the homeland and its relations with America.
Today, however, the Croatian diaspora’s influence on the official Washington or on the public opinion in America does not correspond to its size and potential, or to its love for the homeland. It seems that, at the present time, the Croatian community in the U.S.A. neither has a clear or well-defined idea of what its role in Washington should be nor does it have the necessary structures for translating its energies and potential into an effective presence in the U.S. capital.
In order to remedy the present situation, the Croatian diaspora should ask itself: Should the diaspora be simply an extension, a transmission belt, of the policies and wishes of the (present or future) government in Zagreb? Is it desirable for the diaspora to speak in Washington in unison or is it better to have a variety of constructive approaches to promote U.S.- Croatian relations? Can the Croatian diaspora in this country serve as a type of non-governmental organization and act as an independent factor in relation to both Washington and Zagreb, promoting the long-term interests of both countries? Can a diaspora in general, and the Croatian diaspora in particular, be an effective movement on the international level? And finally, how and who will define the role of the Croatian diaspora and/or frame its organizational structures into an effective presence in the U.S.A.? Is this possible and even desirable?
Furthermore, when individuals or groups from the Croatian diaspora come to Washington to speak on behalf of the homeland, do they know what to ask for? Do they themselves recognize and understand the problems in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina or the issues dividing Zagreb, Washington, and the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Do they come to Washington with realistic and well-planned proposals or with a list of generalities and improbabilities? One of the most sensitive and most important issues among the Croatians today is the future of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina; but does the Croatian diaspora have any realistic proposal to offer to the American power brokers or do they simply react to the problems of the moment?
Finally, the question should be asked: How effective is the Croatian diaspora in Washington today? The answer depends on its goals. If the goal is to get together once or twice a year to show official Washington that American Croatians love newly independent Croatia and, as a bonus, experience an emotional charge for doing a patriotic act, the answer is positive. But if the diaspora’s goal is to influence U.S. policies toward Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is apparent, the effectiveness of the Croatian diaspora is marginal at best.
Since the war of independence began, the Croatian diaspora has been focused on its relationship with official Washington, but the diaspora should not lose sight of the importance of its relations to the American community at large. Croatians have a proud tradition in America of being a hardworking, self-reliant, and family oriented community. However, Croatians are one of the “invisible” ethnic communities in the U.S.A.. There are no “Croatian towns” in our big cities, “Croatian pizza,” “Croatian bread”, or a “Croatian Riverdance” production. Croatians make the news only when something negative happens. But, much of the blame is due to American Croatians themselves. They must get more involved in various civic and community activities. Only those who are active become visible.
Today, with Croatia on the world map, the diaspora does not have to be preoccupied with national independence or with being a constant witness that Croatia does indeed exist. It can now direct part of its energies to becoming an organized, active, and more visible community in America. By getting involved as an ethnic group with other ethnics and the community at large, the Croatian diaspora can not only make itself a factor in American politics and culture, but also strengthen the life of the diaspora itself and reinvigorate ethnic pride in those who are on the way to losing their Croatian identity.
Second Side Of The Triangle: Croatian Diaspora And The Homeland
Pre-independence Era
In regard to relationships with the homeland, the Croatian diaspora in the U.S.A. was divided into two major camps throughout this century, especially since 1918. While one faction accepted the political status quo or actively supported the Yugoslav state, the others either had sympathies for, or actively promoted the idea of Croatian independence. The first group had amicable or at least working relations with Yugoslavia; the second advocated Yugoslavia’s dissolution. In turn, the Yugoslav regime not only abhorred the Croatian political emigrants but used all means, including assassinations, to curb their influence.
The political diaspora, although not well-organized or strong, served as witness to the truth in their belief “Jos Hrvatska ni propala dok mi zivimo!” (Croatia is not yet lost so long as we live!) and that was very disturbing to both the royalist and communist regimes in Belgrade. The pro-independence faction of the diaspora, however, did have an unofficial and invisible but vital relationship with the homeland. It was united with the homeland through the ideals of freedom and independence. It was this deep, and one might say, metaphysical unity that gave the Croatian diaspora legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Croatian people in the homeland.
Relations Since 1990
Since the declaration of Croatian independence, the diaspora’s relation with the homeland has been for the most part dynamic and strong, simultaneously it has also been going through some painful shifts and uncertainties.
At first, because of the war and newly realized freedom, relations were enthusiastic, idealistic, even euphoric. For the first time in many decades the homeland and diaspora were free to embrace one another.
In the last few years, however, working relations have been cooling off. Some of the reasons for this change are an “overheated” relationship during the war of independence and a realization that the decades of separation have resulted in different habits, outlooks, and cultures. While the diaspora’s loyalty to Croatia and its independence has not been shaken, there are increasing doubts about the political, economic, social, and cultural norms and practices in the “old country.” Common perceptions are that socialist work ethics, unprofessionalism, corruption, nepotism, cronyism and similar vices permeate the Croatian state system and that there is not much the diaspora can or is allowed to do about it. As a result, there are no significant efforts on the part of the diaspora to put pressure on the ruling elite in the homeland to steer the national ship in a different direction. Instead, there is growing silence and indifference, along with a gradually loosening of homeland-diaspora ties.
There are several official and semi-official channels between Croatia and the Croats in the world today. Besides the Catholic Church, which has been traditionally an important bridge between the homeland and the Croat immigrants, one should mention the following official diaspora-homeland links.
Presently, there are twelve members in the present Sabor (Parliament) in Zagreb who represent the diaspora. Two of them are from the United States. Unfortunately, those twelve neither reflect the general wishes or the will of the diaspora nor are they visible witnesses to the higher ideals of democracy and civil society within the present political system in Croatia. Although a certain percentage of Croatians in diaspora believe that there should be a direct link between the diaspora and the Sabor in Zagreb, they do not accept the present arrangements. They do not want such links to become a bone of contention or an instrument of party politics in Croatia. A constitutional formula must be found which will ensure that the genuine wishes and ideas of the diaspora are heard in the homeland, that those who represent the diaspora are accountable to the diaspora and not to a political party (or parties) in Croatia. Furthermore, those representing the diaspora, besides being a firm institutional bridge between the homeland and the diaspora, must promote the highest standards of freedom and democracy, stay above party politics, and promote long range interests of both the Croats in the diaspora and the homeland.
The second official bridge between Croatia and her diaspora, the Ministry of Return and Immigration, was recently abolished. Its main activities were concentrated on helping the returnees to cope with bureaucratic and other problems after coming back to Croatia. Such work was needed and praise-worthy, but the Ministry’s role was limited in regard to the life of the diaspora as a whole.
Hrvatska Matica Iseljenika/HMI (Croatian Emigrant Central Organization) has an established institutional tradition in linking Croatia and its diaspora. It was formed in 1951 as the Matica Iseljenika Hrvatske/MIH (Central Organization of the Emigrants from Croatia). Although it was under communist party patronage till 1990, through the decades of its existence it has created and kept formal contacts with many Croatian organizations and institutions throughout the world. Its most visible presence among the Croats in the diaspora today is through its two publications: a monthly Matica and an annual Iseljenicki Kalendar (Emigrant Almanac) Without minimizing its importance as an institution, it should be pointed out that from its inception the HMI has been oriented toward being a one-way street. For example, in the magazine Matica, which is very nicely edited, we regularly read about the past and present life and activities of the diaspora, that is to say, we read about ourselves. True, at times various views and opinions from the diaspora are published, as well as critical views from within Croatia about the homeland-diaspora relations. But a major shortfall of the HMI is that it promotes the presence of the homeland among the Croatians outside the country, but it remains an insignificant voice for the diaspora in the homeland.
During the Yugoslav socialist regime, the main role of the MIH was to promote and/or safeguard the ideals of socialism and Yugoslavism among the Croats in diaspora. MIH was not there to be an instrument through which the diaspora might influence the homeland or spread “dangerous” ideas in the country. Today, however, the situation is radically different; and, because it is different, the HMI and its publications would be better utilized to create the necessary strong and multi-directional bridge across which the various parts of the same people could freely communicate and enrich each other.
One of the most visible diaspora organizations in Croatia today, which claims to represent all Croatians scattered around the world, is the Croatian World Congress. With the blessing and the help of the present government in Zagreb and its media, it has been projecting itself as the linchpin between the homeland and the Croats outside the homeland.
The main weaknesses of the Congress, however, are that it is perceived (and with good reasons) as an extension of the ruling HDZ party, that its effectiveness is minimal (at least in the U.S.A.), and finally, that it is a form without much substance, because its legitimacy is derived from links to the ruling power structures in Croatia and not from the diaspora itself.
In order to become a genuine voice of the diaspora, the Congress must undergo a radical transformation, but it seems that this will not be the case in the near future. One might doubt if the present (and perhaps the future governments) in Croatia truly desire to see a unified and well-organized diaspora because if it did happen, the diaspora might be the wild card in Croatia’s domestic politics. Thus, the probability is that those in power and their allies are interested more in manipulating than in unifying the diaspora into a formidable force.
Croatia’s diplomatic missions in this country are the most immediate official links between the diaspora and the homeland. These missions are relatively new and both the diaspora and Croatia’s representatives are not used to such direct contacts. Too much ad hoc interference on the part of either side will be more disruptive than helpful. A problem exists also in the diplomatic staff: a significant number are former communist Yugoslav diplomats or at least those who viewed the diaspora as an enemy. For these reasons, major efforts are needed to create strong, rational, and well-planned foundations for good and lasting contacts that will be beneficial for Croatia, the diaspora, and the U.S.A.
In the relationship of the diaspora and Croatia, one should not neglect the role of those who have returned to the homeland. They are the living and most often positive links between the two worlds. But unfortunately some of the returnees are not helping homeland-diaspora relations. They often parade as the idealists, patriots, and “experts” who have returned to help Croatia. In reality, however, they are helping themselves and their large egos. Instead of being examples of higher political standards, they have often become, together with their likes in the country, political entrepreneurs without a sound ideology, without ideas, and without idealism. Such individuals often serve as negative examples for Croats at home and abroad. Through them, the diaspora sees the negative side of the situation in Croatia, and to the people in Croatia they represent all that is negative in the diaspora.
Finally, one of the most confusing issues among the Croats in the diasporas is their relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Generally speaking, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not taken seriously as the homeland of the Croats, even by those born there, although the Croats have been inhabitants of that land since the early Middle Ages and are recognized as one of the three constituent peoples in the country. Instead of trying to make direct links with the Croatian political, cultural, educational, and other institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both the self-proclaimed “leaders” of the diaspora and official Zagreb have been ignoring or even obstructing such ties. Preservation of national “unity” is the usual phrase one hears as a cover for ignoring this crucial issue, not only for the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also for the future of Croatia.
The Third Side Of The Triangle: Croatian Diaspora In The U.S.A.
Intra-community Relations
From the 16th century, Croatians have been present in this land. However, only since the end of the last century and the beginning of this one when more massive Croatian immigration began to take place, can we properly speak of a Croatian diaspora in the U.S. Although many immigrant Croats planned to return to their homeland after earning and saving a few dollars, their voyage to the New World was a one-way trip. Those pioneers, who were accepted as good laborers but expected to shed their “cultural baggage,” succeeded in establishing viable and functional Croatian ethnic communities in many American industrial and mining centers, despite enormous hardships. They built churches and clubs, published many newspapers and books, formed singing societies, folklore groups, and self-help organizations.
The intra-Croatian community life in this country, however, was not only creative and dynamic but also divisive. Suffice to mention just a few most visible divisions that persisted within the Croatian communities for many decades. Regional identities were quite strong. People came from various parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Burgenland Austria. Legally they were Austro-Hungarians, Italians, or later Yugoslavs while their primary identity still remained on a village or regional level. An interesting process did take place among the Croatians in America: many of them passed through the process of national homogenization not in Croatia but in the diaspora.
Ideological and political divisions and passions were strong, sometimes even violent, in the Croatian communities in this country, especially among the members of the first generation. Some accepted the ideals of socialism, Slavism, Yugoslavism, anti-clericalism, and atheism. Others cherished the national or religious identity, and for some the two were equally strong. Such divisions persisted even in the same organizations. The Croatian Fraternal Union, for example, was made up of various factions and it has passed through different stages of ideological shifts in its over a hundred years history.
In the last few years, the Croatian diaspora in the U.S. A. has been united more than ever before. Old regionalism and sharp ideological differences are diminishing. Support for the Croatian Spring in the late 1960s and frustrations with its brutal suppression at the end of 1971 served as a unifying factor among the Croats in the diaspora. And then came the war of Yugo-Communist-Serbian aggression and the emergence of Croatia as an independent country. These events of the early 1990s have solidified American Croatians in their ethnic identity and their support for the homeland. Furthermore, there are no significant ideological differences among the Croats in America today. The overwhelming majority of them believe that Croatia’s future can be secured only on the principles of the present norms of Western democracy and market economy. The underlining fact is, all factions, organizations, and generations within the active part of the diaspora are united in their love for the homeland and its freedom. But that unity and love may easily fade away if the present situation is not properly assessed, necessary adjustments made, and new visions and goals stimulated.
The Present Ambiguities
At the present time, however, the Croatian diaspora in this country is going through a major phase of uncertainty. The love for the homeland and Croatian pride is being undermined by growing indifference. What is happening is more than a cooling off period after an intensive activity during the war of independence. It seems there is a growing frustration with the unfulfilled ideals and goals that existed only a few years ago. It might be that the homeland is also frustrated with the diaspora. For the diaspora, the homeland was a beautiful dreamland, which many were not allowed even to visit. On the other hand, for many in the homeland, the Croats in the diaspora were either evil incarnated or selfless patriots and pure idealists. Now that the two sides are beginning to know each other, its seems neither one is happy with what they see. Hopefully this should not result in indifference or even resentment but in rational dialogue through which new and common goals might be found for the benefit of both the homeland and the diaspora.
While the older and more established institutions, like churches and fraternal unions are not shaken much by recent changes, a number of former organizations, mainly political ones, have disappeared or are fading away. (Hrvatsko Narodno Vijece, for example). There are no independent community oriented Croatian publications in this country any more. (“Danica” and “Hrvatski Glasnik”, for example died with the coming of Croatia’s independence). A number of new organizations (cultural, political, charitable…) have been started since 1990. Most of them began on an ad hoc basis. Some have already died out while a number of others are alive on paper only. Chapters of only one Croatian political party, namely the ruling HDZ, are still visible in a few Croatian communities in this country, but experience has shown that the existence of homeland political parties in the diaspora can not play a positive role but only a divisive one in the communities.
Two segments of Croatian diaspora in this country that are possibly the most confused at the present time are former politically active groups and individuals and the younger generation of Croats who have fallen in love with Croatia during her latest struggle for independence. Definitely, Croatia’s independence has exhilarated the first group because its life-long dreams were fulfilled. But there is now a sense of confusion regarding the role of the former political activists and their sense of purpose. There is a lack of desire and/or ability on their part to formulate and embrace new dreams and visions.
Many among the Croatian younger generation in America, on the other hand, are forward-looking, full of energy, enthusiasm, and love for their own ethnicity and for Croatia. They see themselves at the beginning of a new and great era for Croatians. Their main frustration stems from the lack of organizational structure and clearly formulated goals. These are college students and younger professionals, many of whom have gone through Croatian language schools and/or folk dancing and tamburitza groups, but now when they feel that they can actively participate in the community, their enthusiasm is stifled because simply there are no institutional structures through which they can express themselves and feel useful. This often results in disappointments, indifference, and quick abandonment of the Croatian identity.
Both the older, once politically active generation, and the younger American-Croatian enthusiasts have great potential. The first has economic potential and deeply rooted patriotism. The second have energy, education, and love for Croatian culture and the homeland. What is needed is finding a suitable framework for using these major potentials both for individual growth and for the greater good of the community. If the Croatian diaspora in the U.S.A. is to secure its future in the next millennium, either the old organizational structures have to be adapted to the present and future needs, or new ones established, or both.
If one takes a horizontal look at the Croatian diaspora in the U.S. today, it can be easily concluded that much of its energies are devoted to folk-oriented activities, like folk dancing, tamburitza music, and Croatian language for children. Then come sports, like soccer, bowling, and golf, along with annual festivals, fundraisers, and charitable activities. The parishes serve as the lasting and most popular gathering places and the activities are for the most part those of the older and established communities and organizations. But one should not forget that the newest Croat immigrants in the U.S.A. have been dispersed in small groups all over the country. They do not have organizations or parishes, and if something is not done, they will simply melt away.
If looked at vertically, however, we realize that the Croatian diaspora in this country never succeeded in reaching its goals of having lasting activities on a higher cultural and educational level. True, there is the Croatian Academy of America and the Association for Croatian Studies. But these are relatively small groups of self-motivated individuals who are trying to make a difference among American scholarly circles. But there is neither a Croatian college, nor a single Croatian chair at an American university, nor an independent institute for Croatian studies. What is even more disturbing is the fact that there is not even an appreciation for the need of such institutions. But only well-established scholarly institutions and hard-working professionals can bring about the desired results.
Furthermore, the Croatian presence in U.S. institutions of higher learning, especially in the field of humanities and social sciences, is minuscule. True, during the Yugoslav period, Croatian scholars were usually suspects of nationalism not only in Yugoslavia but in this country, too. The fact is that very few second-generation Croatians have interest or patience to pursue higher degrees in the above-mentioned fields. Croatian sons and daughters tend to follow the professions that are more financially rewarding rather than those in academia. Our young people are excellent high school and college students, but most of them do not find it rewarding to go to graduate schools, or if they do, they pursue “practical” and more materially rewarding professions.
Moreover, among the Croatians in the U.S. A. there are no established channels of cooperation among the bigger business entrepreneurs, professionals, and the community at large. A short-lived cooperation existed during the last war, but that is fading away. The class stratification among the Croats in this country is also more or less determined according to the above groups. The bigger entrepreneurs or those in well-paid professions are usually marginal to the community life. They are “occasional” Croatians. It seems that very few children from the upper-class are visible or active in Croatian communities or institutions. One of the major reasons for Croatian ineffectiveness and disfunctionalism as a community can be in this unbridged vertical stratification. But ways must be found to connect the various social, economic, and intellectual forces, if the Croatian community is to move forward into the next century, not only in preserving Croatian music, dances, and food recipes, but also in being present on a higher level of culture and education in this country.
Finally, an East European Jewish tale describes how a husband tells his wife that he has invested a million zloty and he is worried what will happen to his investment if the Messiah came. Everything would be lost. The wife answers: ” With God’s help, the Messiah will not come yet.”
The “Messiah has come,” an independent Croatia is here. The Croatians in the USA have invested much in the new homeland and, at the same time, many have worked for and dreamed about the freedom of Croatia. The question is can they save their life investments (not only material) in this country and still become a part of the “promised land”? Or is Croatia for most of the diaspora merely an imaginary homeland while America is the true “promised land”? We believe that question should not be asked in these terms. It seems that many American-Croats look at both countries as their true homelands. Many, if not most of them, believe that they do not have to abandon either one but embrace both.
The real practical questions for us today are: How can we become a part of the homeland although we are citizens of and live in this country? How can we find new ways to preserve and strengthen our ethnicity? How can we build wide and firm two-way bridges with the homeland and help Croatia and the Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina to live in security, freedom, prosperity, and a lasting peace? And how can we make a painless transition, if we decide to return to the homeland of our birth and our ancestors?
By raising the above issues and questions at this symposium, we hope to stimulate a constructive discussion among the Croatians in the USA and the homeland in pursuit of a better future for all the Croats in the next millennium.

The Croatian Diaspora in the U.S.A. on the Eve of the Third Millennium

“The Croatian Diaspora in the U.S.A. on the Eve of the Third Millennium”

A symposium held at St. Xavier University, Chicago, April 17, 1999

 
 
Welcoming Remarks by Ante Čuvalo – President of the ACS
 
On behalf of the Association for Croatian Studies (ACS), I would like to welcome all of you, especially our guests from outside the Chicago area, to the first symposium of the ACS. Your interest, sacrifices, and participation are greatly appreciated.
 
I would also like to express our deep thanks to St. Xavier University and its entire community for allowing us to gather at this distinguished learning institution.  Special thanks to the Department of History and Political science and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for sponsoring this event.  Dr. John Gutowski was our contact-person with the University, I thank him for enthusiastically supporting the symposium and for being a good friend.  Everyone I encountered at this institution has made me feel at home, and I am grateful for their friendliness and help.
 
Friends and colleagues,
We are not only at the end of the 20th Century and of the 2nd Millennium, but we are living through a very exciting and challenging period of history.  Within only the last ten years, the Soviet empire has imploded and the communist system with it.  A new realignment of the world order has taken place.  The bipolar world has vanished and a number of new independent states have emerged from under the rubble of communism.  But, the falling of the Berlin Wall has also unleashed new violence, wars, and suffering for many, including the people of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now Kosovo.  Furthermore, the old system has fallen apart but the earlier ruling elite is still alive and doing well.  This elite is trying to reinvent itself, but in many cases it is the same old mentality and habits in a new wrapping.
 
Today, there are many questions to be asked about the world as a whole.  Just to mention a few: how can we balance the growing globalization with the multiplication of independent nation states? Will the architects of the global free market and global civil society bring about a global meltdown and chaos or prosperity and peace for all?  How will the increasing power of the nongovernmental organizations and social movements at the international level affect the present role of the nation state?  Are we marching toward a clash of civilizations or toward a more harmonious and humane “global village”, or, at least, “global city”?  What will be the future and the role of racial, ethnic, and religious diasporas around the globe? Does globalization imply homogenization, or a colorful world of free individuals, groups, and peoples, or a world of intolerance?  But our task today is not global. We are here to take a closer look at an ethnic group, namely Croatians, in this country and see it from within and analyze its relations to the homeland.  Although our focus is on Croatian diaspora in the US, our discussions can not be isolated from recent events in Southeastern Europe.
 
Furthermore, we are here today to meet people, share our views, and to hear those of others.  We are here not to start a political movement, to raise funds, or to change the world.  It is time to look at ourselves, at our own problems and virtues. The Association for Croatian Studies is a scholarly organization and its task is to raise issues, to ask questions, to analyze, and make suggestions to those willing to hear them.  By doing that, we hope to make a positive contribution to the Croatian community at large.
 
Welcome and may all of you have a fruitful and enjoyable day.