A note to the reader: It is often presumed that the “world” was ignorant about the national problems in the so-called First Yugoslavia, especially the fact that it was a terrorist state. The Serbian regime treated Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vojvodina, and Montenegro as occupied lands, and open terror was implemented on non-Serbs, mostly on the Croatians. We bring here an article published in the Melbourne Advocate, Australia, dated February 22, 1934, informing clearly to all those who wanted to hear the cries of the oppressed, about the plight of the Croatians at the time.



THAT monument of Liberal ineptitude, the Treaty of Versailles, has sown a harvest of dragons’ teeth in Europe which draws nearer to its ripening. In the name of liberty and self-determination, the historic tradition of the Western world was outraged, and the elaborate economic network which had grown up in the European States was rudely torn to fragments. The resulting chaos has produced appalling misery among the population of Central Europe; and the injustices committed in the hurried carving out of the new States have resulted in the reappearance of racial conflict in a more acute form among the people „liberated“ from the rule of Russia and Austria. We intend in the present study to give a detail picture of one corner of this scene of confusion by describing the tragic enslavement of an ancient Catholic people, the Croats, whose land has become part of the kingdom of Yugo-Slavia. This name – both new and ugly – has been given to a „Nation-State“ artificially created out of heterogeneous mass of races in the region east of the Adriatic Sea. These people – Servians, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Croats, Turks, Bulgars and Albanians – differ in history, culture, religion and even language, though most belong to the racial group of „Slavs“ – as Spaniards, Italians and Romanians are „Latin“. They have been flung together against their will under the supremacy of the least civilised of the larger groups, the Servians, under whose oppression they struggle. In particular, the inclusion of Croatia, Catholic and Latin, with a long tradition of political connection with Hungary, in a union with half barbarous people professing Eastern Orthodox, and only recently delivered from the de-civilising rule of Turkey, has weakened the whole structure of this part of Europe.

The Origins of Croatia

Croatia is a land with a heroic past. Situated at the north-western gate of the Balkans, the Croats defended the Catholic frontier for centuries against the onslaught of Islam, forming the outworks of Christendom – „Antemurale Christianitates“ (sic!) from the 15th to the 19th century. The race is anciently established, having migrated into the region between the Drava and the Adriatic in the fifth century A.D. The Croats were converted to Christianity by Italian missionaries under one Abbot Martin, and seven Bishoprics were set up – a number which was later increased. The Latin origin of Croatian Christianity made a gap between these Slavs and the Serbs and Bulgars, their neighbours, who were converted from the East, and fell into Schism with the Byzantine Church. Croatia formed the south-eastern frontier region of Charlemagne’s empire. The rule of the great Frank was willingly accepted; but the misgovernment of his successor led to a revolt. Under the Pope’s protection, Croatia became an independent kingdom until its peaceful union with Hungary in 1102.

The Middle Ages

The first period of Magyar rule was a happy one. The Balkans were still Christian land, and the Turkish menace to the West remote. Feudalism – alien to Slav tradition – grew up under the Arpad kings; the Church flourished and grew rich, its Bishops wielding great political power; and the religious Orders flourished, spreading learning through the land.

In 1301 came a break with Hungary. A French dynasty was established – the House of Anjou; and the King’s power increased. Marriage brought Croatia into the orbit of Holy Roman Empire; and in the late 14th century it was disputed between German and French-Neapolitan dynasties. Dalmatia, the coast region, was sold to Venice.

The Struggle with Islam

Then, at last, came the first Turkish raids in 1414-15, opening a new age of war for the defence of the West. Mohammed II occupied Bosnia after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and the Turkish war soon became almost continuous. Hungarian rule had been restored in Croatia, though the real Government was that of the military chiefs, or „Bans.“ But in 1526 came the great Christian disaster of Mohacs. The Hungarian King was slain and Hungary overrun. What remained of it passed, with Croatia, under the rule of the Austrian Hapsburgs.

Religious Problems

The Reformation reached Croatia after considerate success in Austria and Hungary; but though the new doctrines infected some of the powerful Zrinski family, they were refused toleration by the Ban, and made little headway.

The frontier with Turkey 1688, and a compulsory military levy established for its defence, which was maintained until 1873; so that all Croatia was an armed camp for the defence of Christendom. Turkish tyranny led to an influx of Orthodox Slavs into Croatia, and an attempt was made to secure the loyalty by persuading them to „Uniatise“ – that is, become Catholics, while retaining the Eastern rite – but without much success. The menace of Protestantism was removed by the influence of the Jesuits, who were established at Zagreb, and did much to improve education. Croat students regularly attended Italian universities in the eighteenth century, so that the Latin character of the people’s culture was fully maintained.

The National Revival

Under Austrian rule, Croatia had become increasingly Germanized; but the French Revolution, as in Italy led to changes which brought about revival of the national spirit. Napoleon in 1809 made Croatia part of his kingdom of Illyria; and French ideals made some headway during the period of his rule, which ended in 1814. In 1835 a reaction in favour of the Slav language began. The Croats demanded autonomy, but their loyalty was secured by the establishment as Ban of Josip Jellachich, who saved the Austrian throne in the 1848 revolution.

The defeat of Austria by Prussia in 1866 led to a reconstruction of the Empire as a dual monarchy by the „Ausgleich“ of 1867; and the next year Croatia concluded a compromise which secured her liberties within the Hungarian kingdom. The country was given self-government under a „Ban“ appointed by Hungary, who presided over the Legislative Assembly or „Sabor.“ This Assembly attended to local administration; but Croatia had also representation in the Hungarian Parliament and Cabinet; and it had a right to its own flag and language. There were grievances of various kinds, it is true – chiefly connected with overtaxation and maladjustment of tariffs – but it is instructive to compare the condition of Croatia in 1914 with its present state after „liberation“ by the arms of the Allies.

The Betrayal of Croatia

The Croats fought loyally for the Empire until its break-up became imminent. They then proclaimed their independence, setting up a seperate Government at Zagreb in 1918, which was recognised by Servia. The Allies, however, were determined to form a great Southern Slav State of all the groups in this region, and France – probably fearing the increase of Italian influence in Croatia – urged its union with Servia. This was attempted on a basis of equality at a series of conferences at Geneva. Croatia was to be associated in a federal bond with Servia and the other Slav States, but was not to be subject to the Servian dynasty. The Serbs, however repudiated this settlement. Their military predominance, at the close of the war, was complete, and they were able to force a Union on Croatia on their own terms. Since then, the Servian General Kalafatovich, has represented the Union as a result of the conquest and occupation of Hungarian territory; but this is entirely false. It was the freedom of a friendly Republic which was invaded after the Serbs had failed to secure their own terms by negotiation.

Croatia Enslaved

The imposed „Union“ was accompanied by a promise to call a free convention in six months; but the meeting was postponed for two years. During this time all power was concentrated in the Servian capital, Belgrade; and Serb soldiers and police occupied Croatia, setting up a reign of terrorism and corruption, whose object was the dissolution of the Croat State organisation.

At last the convention met. From the first the rule of the Servian dynasty was assumed, though the Croats had not recognised it. Their representatives, therefore, boycotted the Convention. Even so, the influence of the other combined groups was such that opposition to the new constitution – which divided Croatia into several provinces – could only be overcome by „rigging“ the electoral lists. Premier Pashitch threatened the Turkish group that if they did not serve his cause „they would never return home alive.“


The Convention of the new „Yugoslav“ State was ignored by the Croats until 1925, when their leader, Raditch, decided, on English advice, to act in the new Parliament, where it was hoped to obtain concessions by a combination of the minority groups with the Servian opposition. Vague promises of change were made by the Government itself, by the way of encouragement.

Raditch was overborne by the feeling of the „Moderates“ in his own camp; but he had prophesied that the reappearance of the Croats would lead to the union of the Servian parties in a „bloc“; and so it proved. The party of „The Strong Castle“ was formed on the initiative of King Alexander; and every effort was made to break the Croat leader’s power by compromising him in the eyes of his nation. When this failed, Raditch was simply shot dead in the House by a fellow member of Parliament, and the murderer – like the assassin of the Austrian Archduke in 1914 – was hailed as a national hero.

The Royal Tyranny

The Croats succeeded to Zagreb and the Parliament at Belgrade continued to legislate for the whole country without their consent. But it was necessary to take stronger measures in order to maintain the Servian predominance against the rising tide of opposition. In autumn 1928, therefore, on his return from Paris, the King tore up the former Constitution and declared a Royal Dictatorship, composing a new constitution of a highly autocratic character, in which all the provincial liberties were abolished and the country unified. While many of the Serb politicians took office under the regime, the new Croat leader, Dr. Matchek, was imprisoned. The King played the part of Richard II., and took over the „leadership“ of the Croat people. The commemoration of Raditch and visits to his grave were forbidden. The Croat flag might no longer be displayed; this prohibition also applied nominally to the old Servian colours; but the latter could be flown freely as the standard of the Orthodox Church. Young men, however, who bore the Croat flag as a banner, with religious emblems upon it, at the Eucharistic Congress of Dalmatia Croatia were attacked and some of them killed by the Servian police.

Croatia is at present under the rule of Servian police and soldiers, who exercise complete power. The law courts are merely police institutions; the torture of prisoners is freely practised. The education in Croatian schools is Servianised in its historical section, and an effort is being made to impose changes in the language and writing of the people. The banks and financial institutions at Zagreb are subjected to every kind of pressure in order that the savings of the people may be transferred to Belgrade. Meanwhile, the existence of a Croatian question is officially denied since Croatia has been absorbed in Yugo-Slavia, how―it is asked―can there be a Croatian question?

The Outlook

The attempt to destroy this brave and unhappy Catholic nation will, no doubt, meet with the failure which has always attended such brutalities. Meanwhile, the State of Croatia is a danger to Yugo-Slavia since it places her in a weak situation in face of the possible aggression of Italy, the neighbour whom she fears. There can be little doubt of what attitude the Croats would assume in such a case.

It is obvious that the regime of stupid violence in Yugo-Slavia cannot last. The problem is not touched by it. There are several possible solutions of this minority question. The idea of a federation of autonomous States under the Servian Crown has much to recommend it: but in the case of Croatia, the persecution has led to a growing demand for nothing less than complete separation. Indeed, historic, religious and cultural affinities are stronger here than those of race; and a revival of the older political ties with Austria and Hungary might be the most satisfactory solution. Croatia would thus become a member of the new Danube federation, which seems likely to be formed eventually, in order to solve the problem of the former territories of the Austrian Empire.

Transcribed by Nikola Dedić, Student of History at the University of Mostar

The article can be found here:


Introduction to the Document
On 6 July 1918, Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), a prominent member of the Pure Party of Right (Čista stranka prava), then led by Vladimir Prebeg, submitted to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb, an Interpellation on behalf of his political party. The Interpellation dealt with Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian prisoners-of-war in Odessa.
This address was a well-planned political move by the Pure Party of Right, which was in opposition and which wanted, through this Interpallation, to split the Croatian-Serbian Coalition (Hrvatsko-srpska koalicija), the ruling Party in the Croatian Parliament and, eventually, under the pressure of public opinion, to remove it from power.  However, they did not succeed in this because of the overall political situation.  The war was rapidly coming to an end and other political forces were already in action, resulting in the creation, on 5 and 6 October 1918, of the National Council of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs (Narodno vijeće Slovenaca, Hrvata i Srba) in Zagreb, which became the supreme political body in Croatian areas.
The Coalition which the Serbian wing dominated, was led by Svetozar Pribićević, who favored the idea of Greater Serbia.  His brother, Milan, was a colonel in the Serbian Army and had been sent — as noted earlier — on a military mission to North America to recruit volunteers, but had largely failed to do so.  The brothers cooperated closely.  Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Milan had met secretly with his brother, Svetozar, the most influential leader in the Croatian Parliament.  Svetozar later inspired the National Council (Narodno vijeće) to reject a Proclamation by the Emperor Karl to change the Habsburg Monarchy into a federal state of autonomous nations.  Instead, on 29 October 1918, the Croatian Parliament severed relations with Austria-Hungary, after having been a member of the Monarchy since 1527.  The National Council then proclaimed Croatia and Slovenia as an independent state — the State of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — and assumed the powers of the new state.  The Council then nominated provincial governments for Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia, with Zagreb as capital.  Nevertheless, the Council did not succeed in organizing a state government in spite of the fact that it had at its disposal practically all the attributes needed to do so: a Croatian Army; a Croatian fleet, which Austria-Hungary had surrendered to the Council; a solid and honest civil service and administration; and a central government in the Sabor (Parliament).  Who was responsible for this failure?  In our opinion the main responsibilities for this failure lay with the followers of the Yugoslav idea who sought a “union” of Croatia with Serbia, and so impeded the consolidation of the new Croatian-Slovenian state.
On 1 December 1918, Dr. Ante Pavelić106, a member of the Croatian Parliament and Vice-President of the National Council, headed a delegation to Belgrade for the purpose of promoting a “union” of the newly created State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — which the Serbian Government recognized officially — with the Kingdom of Serbia.  The Serbian Regent and Heir Apparent, Alexander Karadjordjević, then proclaimed (l December 1918) the creation of a new common State, the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenians (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca) which comprised three States — the State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia, and the Kingdom of Montenegro.
In this rush of far-reaching political events, the Interpellation, although it momentarily had an impact on public opinion was soon pushed aside by new events and has remained more or less unknown to the Croatian public, despite the fact that it was published by Obzor, a daily newspaper in Zagreb, and by papers in other towns as well.  News of it was also reported in the Central Powers’ press.107
The Interpellation was written by Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), working with his closest collaborators in the Pure Party of Right.  A great deal of information on Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian POWs in Odessa, was obtained from Mirko Puk.  Before Puk escaped from Russian captivity, he handed over a bundle of relevant documents to the Red-Cross service in Odessa.  On his safe return to his native Croatia, he was given these documents and subsequently passed them to Horvat.  Other volunteers, who had meanwhile returned from Russia, also supplied him with relevant documents.
The text of the Interpellation is presented here in its full length, as it was published in the Public Records, but without repetitions by the Speaker, and without most irrelevant or personal remarks by other delegates and the public in the galleries, which have been included only if they were significant.
On several occasions Dr. Horvat did not close his citations by quotation marks in the text, so we have closed them here with inverted marks in parenthesis.  We have also added some words throughout the text for purposes of clarity.  Some parts of the text of the Interpellation are not quite clear.  This was due to imprecision of the reporters who submitted, directly or indirectly, their texts to Horvat.  The elisions, signifying an interruption of the text are marked in the original.
The Interpellation108
The President [of the Parliament]: I interrupt the procedural debate and begin with interpellations.  Mr. Deputy, Dr. Alexander Horvat has the floor to deliver and explain his interpellation.
Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat: Honored House! [Visoki sabore!] To that hymn which shortly before Mr. Deputy, Dr. Živko Bertić, delivered, about a national union of Croatians and Serbians, based on the apparent talk of a soldier, I will take the liberty of adding several small [“]bouquets[“] in order to complete and [“]decorate[“] this super poem — a union of the people of Croatians and Serbs.
Some days ago, when my parliamentary colleague, Dr. Ivica Frank, cited some statements of Croatian soldiers who were tortured in captivity by their Serbian “brothers” in his introductory speech, there was shouts from all sides against him, demanding him to give names.  They talked about it as if he was inventing it [or] that certain persons had forced our people to make such statements; in a word, it was asserted that these were inventions and the Yugoslav newspapers wrote about “apparent violence[“] committed against the Croatian soldiers in Russia, presenting it all as a fiction of some “pravaši” [members of the Party of Right], or, as you like to call us [“]Frankists.[“]
Honored House, I would prefer that all this were not true; I would like those tens of thousands of Croatian soldiers whom the Serbians murdered in Odessa and threw into the Black Sea to be alive and to be able to return to their families.  Unfortunately, there are every day more and more people, living witnesses of this brotherly love; the prisoners-of-war are returning with broken ribs, lacerated, and tortured, who have suffered all the torture over there.
A few days before I delivered this Interpellation, several people came to me while I was in the [Hrvatsko] Zagorje [a region not far from Zagreb], who had recently returned from being prisoners-of-war, and started to tell me, of their own free will, what happened to them.  Gjuro Dumbović of the 25th Territorial Regiment [domobranska pukovnija], born in Zlatar, told me, that one day they were put in a cattle wagon, I think in Ekaterinoslav Guberniia, whence they were transported to Odessa.  As soon as they arrived in Odessa, a Serbian officer came to them and said that this was their means of transport and he had to take them over.  As soon as they left the wagons, pressure was put on them to declare themselves as Serbs.  They tried to resist, even though they were being maltreated and beaten with the butt-ends [of rifles] and in every possible way tortured, a large part, a great part, a huge part of them declared themselves ready to die rather than renounce their Croatiandom and declare themselves Serbs.  The Serbs told them: “We will not treat you like we have done up to now, but will further torture you till your soul leaves you.” (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Ah, common people. You want the Croatians and the Orthodox [Serbs] to kill each other, to cause a massacre.  Deputy Stipe von Vučetić: Be quiet, you Vlach! [a term used for Orthodox Serbs in Croatia, many of whom were ethnically of Vlach origin].  Deleg. Marko Mileusnić: And you priests too, I wonder, for religion says: Thou shalt not kill! …).
The President:  Mr. Deputy, keep order and do not interrupt the Speaker.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: He wishes to cause a massacre among the brethren.  A great noise is heard from the galleries.  The President rings a hand-bell.  Dr. Vuk von Kiš turns towards the galleries [and says]: Howling does not help you at all, we will not permit you to terrorize us
… [The text interrupted in the original]. (From the galleries comes an even greater howl and shouts directed at the Party of Right: “Traitors, down with the Frankists, scoundrels! “) I order the removal of [the persons] from gallery No. 3. (The gallery is emptied with a deafening uproar.) I interrupt the session.
The President (rings)!  The session continues.  To start with, I warn those who remain in the galleries to behave correctly, otherwise, at the first sign of approval or disapproval, I will empty the second gallery also.
I request Mr. Deputy, Dr. Horvat, to continue his speech.
Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat:  Even before the beginning of the Parliamentary Session, various sides communicated to us, that there is a plot to prevent the delivery of my speech.  This does not bother me.  I perform my duty and uncover the truth; I carry the original documents with which I want to show you how much the Croatians have suffered in this war from those who preach brotherhood here …[The text is interrupted in the original.] (A noise. Deputy Dr. Ivan Paleček: Rather tell us for which purpose you are doing that.)  The purpose is expressed in my Interpellation.
Gjuro Dujmović tells us that they were tortured in this manner and beaten in a most brutal way by the Serbs who joined the so-called 1st Division, formed in Odessa.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The Serbs from Croatia?) [Yes, the Serbs] from Croatia.
Many Croatians saved their lives solely, he told me, by avoiding saying that they were Croatians but [rather] Hungarians or Germans.  These they hit several times on their ribs and pushed them aside, but woe betide them if later on it was found that they were Croatians.  Such persons usually paid for this fact with their lives.
Ivan Jambrek of Radoboj was likewise pressured to identify himself as a Serb but told them: “Man, what kind of Serb would I be? I have three small sons and a wife and all of them are Croatian; therefore, I cannot be anything but a Croatian.”  They at once sentenced and punished him with 25 strokes of the cane and the man remained lying unconscious for several hours.  Nikola Šimunec of Bistrica, Ivan Iveković, Ivan Andrec of Stubica and Josip Poljak of Lovrečani were among those who were forced into this Yugoslav Division by force, and maltreated, before finally succeeding in running away.
Andrija Varga of Zlatar, Antun Hleb and Franjo Drvar told me the most terrible things about this violence.  When all this did not help, the Serbs drove them to a village near Odessa, even though they were exhausted.  There were several hundred of them there.  Here they locked them up in narrow cellars, about one hundred in each, in which there was hardly room for 20 people.  After that they poured boiling water over the beams above them in order to punish and kill these men.  Several of them were rescued due to the fact that some Russian [sic Ukrainian] women, when they saw these horrors, had pity on them and dashed off towards Odessa before coming across a contingent of Cossacks and told these otherwise pitiless soldiers what had happened and beseeched them to come to help these unfortunate men.  This detachment then came and delivered these men from the clutches of the Serbians.  Unfortunately, in one cellar [about] one hundred men suffocated, while the others were pulled out with bad burns.
These brave men, who did not want to break their oath to their Croatian King and betray their Croatian fatherland consoled each other, saying that the Savior had also suffered torments, and that the Christians were so great and powerful because of the blood of their martyrs; therefore, they said, they were ready to endure torture for their King and their fatherland as well.
The Czechs, who voluntarily joined the Yugoslav Division, for there were not enough Croatians and Slovenians, and for this reason it was necessary to fill out the Division with the Czechs, told them that there were already 60,000 armed Czechs against Austria, and that there would be double that many to see that Austria was completely destroyed.
Stjepan Rod of Brestovac, in the district of Zlatar, who was then on guard in [the town of] Delnice, made a statement to the same effect about these horrifying things.  In addition to this, whoever was interested could obtain a complete list of all the officers, particularly of Greek Orthodox religion, who went over to these Serbian battalions and by torturing our own men distinguished themselves (Deputy Većeslav Wilder: What have you found out in [the province of] Zagorje?).
Be quiet, I will present an original newspaper in which a leading article is written by Dr. Milivoje Jambrišak, former President of the Zagreb Civic Club of the [Croatian-Serbian] Coalition [Party].  This article has his signature and was printed in the newspaper issued in Odessa.  You will have an opportunity of convincing yourself.  (Deputy Dr. Ante Pavelić: Strange, this newspaper was confiscated from all the prisoners-of-war who came from Russia, so how could he come in possession of it?)
If you are interested in how I did so, I can give you information that you also may have.  Ask any of our officers and he will tell you about a colleague who succeeded in bringing over this newspaper sewn in his tunic or elsewhere in his clothes.  This one came in another way.
Our friend and political supporter, Dr. Mirko Puk, a lawyer in [the town of] Glina, and a first lieutenant of the 25th Territorial Infantry Regiment, left all his papers which he had collected in Russia to his friend and begged him to send them to him on a convenient occasion.  Several days ago, these papers were handed over to him by the Red Cross.  He delivered them to me.  I brought here two copies of the newspaper and can give them to you to see how Yugoslavia was forming in Petrograd and Odessa.
Vladko Nežić of Jaska said that the Czechs and Serbs asked him in Kiev what language he spoke.  He replied: Croatian.  After that they put him in a jail and kept him there for three days without food or drink.  In the end a Russian felt pity for him and freed him from the jail.  As soon as he went out into the corridor, a Serbian soldier met him with a bayonet attached to his rifle and struck him with its butt-end so that he lay unconscious for almost three days.  Afterwards he saved himself by escaping into the interior of Russia.
Lovro Gabrek of Jalžabet, a soldier of the 16th Infantry Regiment, was terribly tortured.  We read of similar tortures happening during the Inquisition in Spain.  After they cut and beat him from all sides, they plucked out his mustache hair by hair.  He had previously had a thick mustache, but came home without a single hair.  He said this happened with the assistance of the Serbian officers and also of ours, who had run over and joined this Yugoslav Legion.
These prisoners-of-war said that this treatment elicited the disapproval of all the inhabitants of Odessa, but no one dared to act, because the [strong hand of) tsarism was felt.  Anyone who dared to say a word, [feared] a fate would be inflicted upon him similar to that inflicted on those unfortunates.  A grave-digger in Odessa said one night that the Serbs brought him 18 dead Croatians to bury.  He said: “I must know the name of every person I bury and register it.”  They told him: “These are Croatians and therefore it is not necessary.” (Deputy Marko Mileusnić complains. … [The Deputies argue among themselves. – G.G.]
The President (rings a hand-bell): I beg the honorable Deputies that your discussions continue outside the Parliament.
Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat: Honored House! I mentioned here the names and later I will produce more convincing facts and harder evidence.  What I have just explained, the men told me directly.
In March of this year [i.e., 1918], while our men were scattered through various labor camps and when our army was coming closer and closer, the Czechs then became guilty of the greatest oppression against our people.  They took money and footwear from them and without any means of survival left them to starve.
These are officers who, being shy by nature, do not want their names to be generally known, but nevertheless reported these things and were [also] obliged to let the military authorities know, because each prisoner of-war is interrogated when he comes from Russia.  As I had a chance to come in contact with them, they told me the terrible things which had happened [there].  [The Serbs] put men in coffins alive and kept them there for several hours, and, after that, in their frightened state, forced them to join this Serbian, Yugoslav Legion.
One group of officers — when they [the Serbs] could not complete the Second Corps of the Yugoslav Legion, for our officers did not want freely to join it — they undressed them completely and chased them onto the second floor of a building.  On the way, the Serbian komitadžije [a term of Turkish origin denoting a member of a band of irregular soldiers in the Balkans] lashed their naked bodies.  When they came up, they once more chased them down with the same procedure and after that again to the second floor and, in the end, they threw them down onto the courtyard, waiting for them with fixed bayonets.  One of them was saved by falling on a pile of corpses of the killed Croatian officers, out of the reach of the bayonets and only broke his leg, [and later] came [crawling] to a hospital where he was saved.
Cases where they [the Serbs] cut up living bodies were nothing unusual, [or], when they cut off certain [sexual] organs from living bodies, these are the things of which the military records are more than full and which those men tell anybody who is interested in what happened.
Honorable members!  These were not only the men from the area of Zagorje [an area near Zagreb], but also our people from the further abroad.  (Deputy Dr. Franjo Poljak: The Serbs [from Croatia]? — they probably did not want to make them Serbs.)  Our men from Istra also suffered such tortures. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Why? This does not concern this Parliament.)  If it is true that [Deputy Dragutin von] Hrvoj talked about the Bulgarians who apparently tortured the Serbs, then it is even more necessary and appropriate in the Croatian Parliament that I tell how the Serbs tortured the Croatians.
An Istrian priest, Don D. Hlača, wrote a short report which was published in the newspaper, Hrvatska [Croatia], of 28 June [1918], where he said (Deputy Marko Mileusnić interrupts)
The President: Mr. Mileusnić please be quiet!
Deputy Dr. Alexander Horvat [continues] where he [Don D. Hlača] said that the soldiers from his parish were returning from Russian prison camps and telling horrible things [he reads]:
What they are saying about the Serbian love towards the Croatians is so [dreadful] that one’s flesh creeps.  To recognize oneself Croatian amongst the Serbian officers and soldiers and at the same time immediately not swear the oath of allegiance to the Serbian King and the State, would have meant to be condemned to the most terrible tortures.  Our Istrians can not admire enough the nobility and bravery of our Banial Croatians109 who withstood all the tortures, even paying for them with death rather than breaking their bond of loyalty to the Croatian fatherland and oath of allegiance to their lawful King [Emperors Franz Joseph and Karl I]. They [the Serbs] broke their fingers and dragged them about, keeping them for several hours in icy weather [and] tortured them with hunger, pressing them bound into a jail and then above them they would hang flavored fresh loaves, in order to get them to change their mind and join the Serbian army as “volunteers.” Some of them escaped these trials, declaring themselves Italians, because they knew some Italian.
The old priest, Stjepan Kropek, of Stari Pazin in Istra wrote us (he reads):
Our worthy paper Hrvatska occasionally published various documents, how the “brother Serbs” love us.  Our prisoners of war, who are returning from Russia, bear the best witness to that.  And let one not say that these are only illusions and unproved inventions.  I will state here what my parishioners tell me, those who recently returned from Russian captivity.
My parishioners who were in Odessa and the Kiev Gubernia (prefecture), tell me similar horrible things about the Serbian love which [the newspaper] Hrvatska mentioned in its number 2075, and tell with the greatest bitterness about the traitors, the Czechs and the Serbs, who tried in every possible way to persuade the Croatians to betray their King and join the Serbian or the Czech Legion against Austria.  For this purpose they used money and promises and various threats and when all this did not help, then the persons concerned were tortured, their hands and feet cut and in this mutilated state, whilst mocking them, the Serbs threw them into the Black Sea.  Among these martyrs there were mostly Banial109 Croatians and, particularly, certain [persons] of the town of Varaždin, as the eyewitnesses testified to me; also, the same would have happened to them had they not run away at a suitable moment.  For this, every honor and glory to our ever-living martyrs — the Banial Croatians and particularly to our Varaždinians!  The innocent blood of these our martyrs will enable our beautiful mother Croatia, which has such martyrs, to be once more [victorious], free, and glorious over all its enemies.  In their name I cry: Long live our brave soldiers of Banial Croatia, long live our dear Varaždinians! — (An expression of approval and acclamation by the Party of Right: Glory to them! Deputy Dr. Ante Pavelić: Glory to all our fallen soldiers.  Deputy Marko Mileusnić: This propaganda will not help you.)
Honored House, Sergeant-Major Vid Rajković, of Brinje, who returned from Russian captivity, relates this (Horvat reads):
The other day there was a Vergaterung [Assembly].  One Serbian officer was explaining and gave a speech: “Let those who wish to be Serbian volunteers step forward.”  From among us 1,200 soldiers only 20-30 men stepped forward mostly men from Banat and Srijem.  He, the officer, asked: “What are the rest of you going to do [?]”  “We are Croatians and we will not be volunteers and shoot our brothers and fathers.  You can shoot us down right now on the spot, we are not and neither will we be [Serbian] volunteers.”  The Serbian officer replied: “We do not need you.  We are going to send you to Siberia into the mines to be slaves.”  A day or two later, they put us into railway cars and the officers said: “You are going to Siberia into the mines, where all of you will perish miserably.”  (No one was given any food.) Our reply was: “Send us, we want to go even to Siberia.”  Unfortunately, on 27 October 1916 they brought us to the Odessa railway station.  There, numerous Serbian volunteers, Russian soldiers and Cossacks — all armed, waited for us.  We protested and did not want to come down from the coaches.  While surrounding us, they threw us from the cars and, under their guns with bayonets and Cossack switches, they forcibly brought us to a camp of volunteers.  Here they counted us, twenty by twenty, and led us to the volunteers’ barracks.  [There] they tore off our clothes, beat, and registered us.
I wanted in no way to register myself [as a volunteer].  Then the officer who was doing the registering hit me twice on my face, threw my cap from my head.  They extinguished a lamp which was on the writing table, then the volunteers came to help with the butt-ends [of rifles] and they beat me for a quarter of an hour in darkness until blood from my nose and mouth flowed all over me.  Seeing that there was no help [in this situation], I registered myself but under a name belonging to someone else from another commune and district.  In the morning I went for a medical visit.  I had a temperature of forty-one degrees and was spitting up blood.  Here there were Russian and Serbian doctors, who ordered me to be taken to a city-hospital.  When a cart came, a Serb was sent instead of me and I remained in a room for sick people.  In my great pain and agony I heard when the Serbian komitadji came for me, kicking me with his foot and asked: “Who are you, Croatian, cursed be your Croatian mother (majku ti hrvatsku)?  You will live only until this evening and no further.  Let the fish of the Black Sea eat you up.”  [After that] my friends came for me [:] Corporal (desetnik) Nikola Butković, Toma Rajković, home-guard Mirko, Mile and Jozo Pernar, Stipe Fumić, Ivan Lasić, Ivan Antončić.  I complained bitterly of [the treatment] and repeated what the komitadji had said.  They brought me over into their barracks, hid me, and spread news that I had died.  I was in bed for eight days before being able to get up.
On 6 November 1916, I changed my uniform and they brought me to a company.  I did not want this and said that I was sick and wished to stay until I was well.  On 15 November 1916, the Fourth Battalion moved from Odessa to Marinsko; since there was no clerk, they ordered me to be the company’s clerk and we came to Marinsko.  That night at 11 o’clock (22-23 November 1916), 215 men ran away in the direction of Odessa to a military commander.  There were 181 soldiers, 33 warrant-officers (podčasnik), one sergeant-major (narednik) three file-leaders (vodnik); the rest were corporals (desetnici).  Early in the morning, not far from Odessa, we met the Cossacks who were sent by the Serbian Army to pursue us.  The Cossack line stopped us and asked where we were going.  Then I and field-leader Mijo Culig and Stojan Papac begged the Cossacks to let us go to the Russian command or to the military chief.  They did not agree and drove their horses against us, drew out their sabers and lances and began to shoot.  Some of us were wounded.  Then they returned us to Marinsko, beating us on the way.  They beat me so much that I probably fell down 20 times into the mud.  They chased us like a wolf pursuing sheep.  They chased us for 5-6 kilometers and we ran, bare-footed, for our shoes remained in the mud.  We cried, for God’s sake.  When they had driven us up to Marinsko from where we had run away, a band of volunteers [already] was waiting for us.  I, as a sergeant-major and the battalion’s scribe, was at the head of the men.  By the time I came to the battalion command, I had received countless beatings with rifle-stocks and slaps in the face and had been pulled by my hair and mustache.  When commanded, the battalion major, Srdjan Gajić, came out [and said : ] “Sergeants, right turn” was his command.  When he noticed me he was half a meter taller and said: “Sergeant-major, you are here, cursed be your mother (j…. ti majku tvoju).  You caused trouble in my battalion among my men.”  He hit me in the face on the left and right side and I fell down and he said: “Komitadjis, take him into the cellar and do what you want with him.  In 24 hours I do not want to see him alive.”  When the komitadjis took hold of us sergeants, everyone got countless blows with the stocks of their rifles until we reached the cellar.  These komitadjis included the Gypsies Mito Munćan and his brother Lazo, from Banat; I do not know where the rest came from.  At the door of the cellar, Lazo hit me with a gun-butt on the neck and I fell down unconscious.  They tore off all my clothes and I neither heard nor felt anything.  When they poured cold water on me, I regained consciousness.  Then I noticed that I was naked.  All the money that I had they had taken away.  After half an hour, Captain Milan Tanasković came with four komitadjis armed with rifles; they opened the cellar and called [:] “Sergeant, come out.”  I came out.  He made inquiries as to why I had stirred up the men and as to why I was not a volunteer and gave a sign to the komitadjis.  They placed me in the middle of the room [and] two of them beat me with the butt-ends of their rifles in the back and two on the chest.  Then they threw me down on the floor and again started to beat me and throttled me until I lost consciousness.  They broke a finger on my left hand and the thumb on my right one.  You can still see  it today.  In this way they beat all the sergeants, one by one.  The soldiers, the men, were particularly beaten and locked up.  After an hour Captain Savić came and did the same [i.e., beat them].  In the evening the komitadjis again beat us with rifles, sticks, and shovels, jumping on our bellies and chests; the komitadjis drank wine and beer with our money, scoffing at us: “You Schwabians [Germans] earned good money and we are drinking and beating you.” (Dobro ste Švabe zaradili novaca, mi pijemo a vašu kožu bijemo.)  The next day, in the morning, the komitadjis again beat us.  After one hour Lieutenant-Colonel Jovan Korda came — this Korda [a Serb from Croatia] was born in Vinkovci — and Miloš Delić [a Serb from Bosnia], a Standard Bearer of the 26th Infantry Regiment and in civilian life, a teacher from the Bosnian border, called me and tried to persuade me to join the volunteers.   I did not want to do so at all and replied[:] “I am dying, I have been beaten and my finger is broken, what kind of a volunteer am I?  Then they became angry with me and said: “Lie down!”  I lay down and three komitadjis beat me with sticks till I became unconscious.  [Later] I could not get up.  They threw me into the cellar which was 12 steps below [ground].  That evening, the komitadjis beat me again.  This continued for four days.  On the fifth day, a Serbian doctor came and bound our wounds.  This time they stopped beating us.  During the 12 days in the course of which they dressed the wounds, the officers urged us to become volunteers.  In no way did we 33 sergeants want to do this.  Then one night Lieutenant-Colonel Jovo Korda took us 33 sergeants and 27 soldiers away as insurgents to the Serbian command in Odessa.  While the [Serbian] Commander of the battalion, Srdjan Gajić was sending us off to Odessa, he said: “Why, I do not know what will happen to you.  As far as I know about you, Sergeant, you will not remain alive.  For you, a sharp pole has been ordered and every five minutes they will impale you slowly on it, until you are dead.”  The Serbian volunteers beat us from midnight until morning.  In the morning, they drove us through Odessa to some factories and on the way they beat and tormented us.  After they had driven us [to the place], the next night the komitadjis beat us while we were imprisoned there.  The next day they ordered twenty blows for each one of us before returning us [again] to Marinsko.  After saying that, they gave us twenty strokes each and returned us to Marinsko.  Here they assembled us by companies, demoting me to the ranks, and I was chosen for all sorts of chores.  On 21 January 1917, we came to the town of Orehov in the Tavricheskaia Guberniia.  There were many Jews and Germans there to whom we told what our situation was.  They interceded on our behalf, particularly one teacher to whom I gave my 17 [hidden] rubles for a cable to Petrograd.  A commission came from there who freed us non-volunteers and returned us to captivity.
One man alone wrote this [Dr. Alexander Horvat said, continuing his presentation] and he correctly described these events.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić complains about something.)  So Mr. Mileusnić does not become nervous while complaining, I will supply him with what was written in Russia and what was publicly brought before the Soviet.110   In Petrograd there is a newspaper — Jugoslavia.  Here is the issue dated 9 July 1917.  Because you do not believe what our man writes, and because you are not of our opinion, I take the liberty of telling you that this paper says the following (he reads):
“Our national program is the complete liberation of the subjugated Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians and union for all, based upon the principle of complete equality and self-deternination.”  (Showing [the paper] left and right.) I wonder, I think I have read this program somewhere else.  (Laughter. Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Very well, and you [also] agree with it!)  The Yugoslavs wherever they may be are-showing a picture such as is here.  They cannot be in love for long; they quickly separate.  In the First Corps there were a great number of native Serbs, as well as [some] from the Kingdom of Serbia; the former commander Hadžić employed them so that they did not come under the command of General Živković, who had been requested by the Serbian Government on Corfu; he [Hadžić] went with these volunteers to Dobrudja — [a region in Rumania and Bulgaria] — where they suffered a terrible defeat as their own newspaper wrote about it, so that hardly one tenth of them returned, more dead than alive.  Because of the very bad Serbian treatment vis-à-vis these volunteers, a process of disintegration began in their camp.  On 6 May 1917 the journal, Slovenski Jug (The Slavonic South), published in Odessa, brought out a memorandum from those officers who left this Volunteer Corps as dissidents.  It would be too long to read it, even though I have noted it all down; however, it will be [in various ways] repeated several times.
The program of these dissidents was the establishment of a federative Yugoslavia.  They do not want Serbian domination; they wished for equality [even] of the Latin alphabet [used in Croatia and Slovenia] with the Cyrillic one [used in Serbia]; equality of the Croatian flag with the Serbian and Slovenian ones, which was not permitted to them in the First Yugoslav Corps of Volunteers.  On this occasion, 200 officers and 500 soldiers left, reported to the Russian authorities and demanded the creation of a separate Yugoslav Legion for them, which would not come under Serbian command.
As a condition, they postulated that they would not be used to conquer other countries but solely to occupy those Yugoslav lands which the Russian Army would conquer and there they would [then] keep peace and order.
These dissidents established in Petrograd a newspaper, Jugoslavia, which published the program mentioned above.  In order to justify their action, they felt obliged to publish in their journal all that had happened to them.  Therefore, in the issues of 7, 8, and 9 July 1917, a year ago, an account appeared under the title “The Serbian Volunteer Corps,” [recounting] all these events as told to the “Soviet of Soldiers and Workers.”  Several days ago, when Mr. Dragutin Hrvoj said here in Parliament with emphasis: The Serbian name is the most honorable in the whole cultural world today, I will answer him only with what the Yugoslav volunteers wrote about it and those who fought in the First [Volunteer] Corps but had to withdraw because of the Serbian treatment.  They said (he reads):
The history of the Serbian Corps of Volunteers in Russia is, by all means, one of the saddest pages in the history of the Yugoslavs.  There is not a catastrophe in our history which could be compared with the moral catastrophe to which this [Volunteer] Corps has brought us.  And who would say in advance how long this poisonous seed of distrust, of hate, crime and blood, which this [Volunteer] Corps has sown on our national field will last.  Never has a greater blow to the prestige of Serbia and to the whole idea of Yugoslav union been brought [than this one].
Now he is speaking [Dr. Alexander Horvat continues] about the idealism which those who joined this First Volunteer Corps in Odessa brought with them and about the enthusiasm with which they went to Dobrudja, where they suffered such a difficult and sad defeat.  At the beginning of Spring 1916, when the 1st Division of the First [Volunteer] Corps was created, it was decided to create a new volunteer division, the so-called Second Corps.  I will quote only some parts from the history of this Second Corps, even though it is so terrible that, only for the sake of information will I read it all. (He reads):
Among the officers whom Royal Serbia sent [to Odessa] in order to train [the volunteers] there were, of course, men of a good standard, but the majority of them did not even come close to performing their task satisfactorily.  So, for example, commander Colonel Hadžić ruined several divisions in Serbia and was generally known as an incompetent officer.  He had no other merits.
The Serbian officers simply continued their usual narrow military activity, taking no account at all of the specific character of the new military unit.  Apart from the usual insults, they still called the soldiers Schwabians and Magyars, and that was all.  The attitude vis-à-vis the officer volunteers was no better.  They looked down on them, often with disdain.  It happened that a Serbian officer told the officer volunteers that he despised them because they had broken their oath of allegiance to Austria.
Thus, it happened that [one day] the volunteers faced the very well-equipped Bulgarian, Turkish, and German Armies, while they had no proper rifles and lacked ammunition and had no artillery, in a word, without anything.
At that time, General Živković came to Russia in order to take command of the Corps [of Volunteers].  Instead of the promised two divisions, there were none.  The formation of the second division, for which they had hoped to acquire the Czech prisoners of war, was hampered from the beginning.  There was no hope that, through regular propaganda, at any foreseeable time it would be possible to gather a sufficient number of men. Kušaković and his friends were in distress. In order to overcome this, they threw themselves into a conscious-less, impudent, and reckless attempt to form the second division.
As early as 4 January 1916, the Russian Tsar had decided that the Yugoslav prisoners of war could be concentrated in the area of the Odessa Military Zone.  This was done at the request of the Serbian Embassy in order to facilitate propaganda in favor of a volunteer corps.  At the beginning, the Tsar’s decision was carried out only as far as the officers were concerned.  Almost all of the Yugoslav officers who were prisoners of war were brought to Odessa and among them there were agitators who urged them to join the [Volunteer Corps].  Those who did not want to join it were returned to the prisoner of war camps.
Colonel Košaković [sic= Kušaković] and his helpers used the Tsar ‘s decision to form, in the shortest possible time, a second division and in this way to justify their telegram to the Serbian Government which, accordingly, sent General Živković to Russia.
As before, the prisoner of war officers were transported to Odessa regardless of whether they wished to join the [Volunteer Corps]; likewise, they now transported the enlisted prisoners of war: Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians.
The prisoner of war officers were politely asked whether they wanted to join the Corps.  Those who refused were transported back to the prisoner of war camp.  Vis-à-vis the enlisted prisoners of war, a completely different tactic was used.  Each group of prisoners was escorted by Russian guards directly to the barracks of a complementary battalion of the 1st Division.  This was a long and narrow building, always humid, more similar to a prison than to anything else.  As a matter of fact, this dark structure was destined to be a Mamertine prison for innocent martyrs who were victims of mean, personal interests and dishonest intrigues.111
Gentlemen, these very men who escaped from Serbian hands [Dr. Alexander Horvat said]. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Why? This is not the concern of this Parliament.) (He reads):
On 1 October 1916, the prisoners of war working in the Odessa area until then were first transferred there.  There were about 1,000 of them, mostly Croatians and Slovenians.  In the barracks they were told that, according to the wish of the Russian Tsar, all South Slavs had to be mobilized, and for this reason they should not pay attention to whether they wanted to join the [Volunteer Corps] or not.  Then the commander of the battalion divided them into groups and assigned them to battalions.  It is quite natural that the prisoners of war protested.  For this reason, these prisoners, during the night of 1 and 2 October [1916], in groups of 10-15, were brought out to a coach-house, where they were beaten.  After the beating one half of the men agreed to join the battalions.  Those who remained firm were kept in the barracks where they did not receive any food.  During the day they lay on the barracks floor, exhausted from the beatings.  In the evening, more new victims were brought in, and during the night the beatings continued.
Every night several men were beaten so badly that the next day they had to be taken to hospital.  Besides this, every night there were one or two men who died [because of the beatings], and, as it was later known, these dead men were secretly thrown into the [Black] Sea near Odessa.  It was no wonder that at this time many “drowned” Austrian prisoners were drawn from the Sea.  How many men paid for the intrigue of Kušaković with their heads one cannot correctly establish.
Further it is said (he reads):
The barracks were located in the busiest part of Odessa.  Screams and calls for help from the unfortunate victims woke Odessa’s citizens from their sleep, upset by this inhuman treatment and senseless cruelty.  Nobody could protest, for at this time the whole of Russia was under the weight of the iron hand of Stürmer’s regime.  Those who committed these offenses had the full support of the Russian authorities and this was sufficient.  (Deputy Dr. Ivan Frank: There on the gallery, behave yourselves correctly.)  I would ask the galleries not to murmur [says the Speaker].  (Deputy Dr. Ivan Frank: I request that the Presidency makes a ruling.  Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The men have the right to do so.  The President rings his hand bell.)
Now this newspaper of the Yugoslavs in Petrograd asks (he reads):
And what did the gentlemen who portray themselves as guardians of the people’s interest do, as great fighters for liberty and for the pure Yugoslav idea?  Where at that time was the vocal Dr. Jambrišak?112  While the unfortunate victims were sobbing, screaming and dying under the hand of a torturer, Dr. Jambrišak was sitting with his people somewhere in the “Northern Tavern” and drinking dark red wine with money which came from unknown sources.  His intoxicated tongue was sluggishly turning in his mouth, while the great “politician” was expressing his sapient sentences [ideas], such as, for example: Ha-ha!  A Croatian is like a machine; it is only necessary to wind him up and he will go anywhere you want …  [Here and in the next two sentences the text was interrupted in the original.] Ha-ha, all of them are Frankists … It is only necessary to beat them well … Ha-ha, all the traitors have to be killed. [After all] why has one to have pity on various “rebels,” the dolts from Zagorje.  So spoke Jambrišak, this monster.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić mumbles something.  Deputy Ivan Zatluka: Be careful.  You know what Wilder told you.)
And now this gentleman who, later on, through certain nefarious intrigues, became a member of the “Yugoslav Committee” [in London], stated in the organ of the same Committee, Slovenski Jug, that he took responsibility for all these crimes committed in forming the 2nd Division and, in addition, he cynically boasted that the initiative for a forced recruitment for this division was his.
A particularly shameful infamy regarding the formation of the 2nd Division was that every prisoner of war, regardless of whether the man was joining it freely or not, was robbed without exception.  While the victim was sobbing under the blows which were falling upon him like rain, trying to protect his unfortunate head, at the same time the skillful hands [of his tormentors] were penetrating his pocket and plundering what little money he had saved while working in the interior of Russia as a prisoner of war, at a salary of 10-15 kopecks per day.113  Some intelligent persons distinguished themselves in this work, particularly Dr. of Law Čeremov.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: These are denunciations.)
In this way, the 2nd Division was formed in less than one month and General Živković had a Corps to command… [Text interrupted in the original].  It was clear to everybody that such “volunteers” could not be deployed to the front line, but Kušaković could not have cared less about that.  To him, it was most important to give the General a division and as for what would happen after that, nobody cared.
Nobody paid attention to what consequences such violence would have for the future relations of the Serbs with the Croatians and Slovenians.  There is no doubt that all those men in Odessa who were subjected to such violence will remain for a long, long time sworn enemies of Serbia and the Serbian people.
Thus, the Volunteer Corps, instead of becoming a school of brotherly concord, love, and reconciliation, became a school and hotbed of hatred.  In this lies the deep and sad tragedy of the 2nd Division, which was caused by several corrupt elements among the volunteers themselves, namely, the Serbian officers.
It is understandable that such silovoljci114 used the first opportunity to run away.  The Cossacks had their hands full to catch them and to return them to their regiments and battalions, where  severe punishment, of course, awaited them.  Punishment routinely consisted of beatings and jail; but, there were inventive commanders who tried to introduce some variety in the monotonous punishment.  Thus, for example, Major Perivoj Ilić, punished the unruly soldiers by sentencing them to death.  After that, he would order each of them to dig his own grave, then tied them up and brought soldiers who [supposedly] would shoot them; but, he was only playing a game of execution with them.  However, some commanders did not play such a game, but really did kill them and[or] gave orders to kill the unruly silovoljci.
Of course, every honest man, deep in his soul, was furious about such tyranny.  But to protest against it was dangerous, for one could share the same destiny which the Volunteer Captain Stolf, a Czech, got, because of just such a protest.  Two higher ranking officers killed him in a bestial way.
Some volunteers wrote about all these offenses to some Croatians and Slovenians living in Petrograd and they informed the Russian government about it, requesting that, in the interest of the Slavic cause, such treatment of Slavic prisoners of war should not be permitted.  Fortunately, at that time the Stürmer [government] fell and the new [but] short-lived government of Trepov emerged, and it was decided to investigate the recruitment of volunteers for the 2nd Division.  Serbian circles justified themselves by pointing out that the Croatians and the Slovenians were traitors to the Slavic cause, etc.  As is known, these circles still use these tactics today.
As a result of this, the Russian government ordered that in the future only those prisoners of war who freely declared themselves willing to join the Volunteer [Corps] were to be sent to Odessa.  This, at least, stopped the offenses and tyranny.  Of course, Dr. Jambrišak did not like it, because he was just working on a plan to mobilize all the Yugoslavs — the prisoners of war and he [even] said that all that had happened before “is nothing [compared] to that which he is going to organize[“].
Honored House [Dr. Alexander Horvat continued], these men are dissidents, those who were serving in the Serbian Legion and who established, as I said, an independent Yugoslav Legion and were publicly accused by Serbian General Živković, strangely enough using those same words which our gentlemen also use here.  Serbian General Živković called all the Yugoslav dissidents, simply “Frankists” and Austro-Hungarian agents-provocateurs.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: The devil with it!  Do they also know of Frankists over there?)  Mr. Mileusnić: Every Croatian who recognized the [Austro-Hungarian] King and who was outside the country was a Frankist to them.  The [term] Frankist symbolizes a synthesis of all Croatiandom.  (Shouts by the Party of Right: Quite so! Deputy Marko Mileusnić: In ’48 [1848, during the Revolution] we [Croatians] saved him [the Austrian King] and what did we get for that? … [the text is interrupted in the original, G.G.]  In order that you may be assured that I do not speak by heart, I will quote.  The second paragraph of Živković’s accusation states (he reads):
All those Croatians and Slovenians who joined the Corps [of Volunteers] and now resigned, are Frankists and Austrian agents-provocateurs who entered the Corps only for the following reasons:
1.- to spy on what one did in the Corps and report where necessary, namely to Austria. (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: And are there also spies over there?)
2.- to work for the destruction of the Corps.
3.- to free themselves from captivity and to live in Odessa with a high salary.
(Deputy Marko Mileusnić leaves the hall.) Bon appétit, Marko! (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Thank you!)
Honored House!  A dispute which arose between the [newspapers] Yugoslavia and Slavonic South, the Yugoslav organ which is published in Odessa, came to this: that Dr. Jambrišak, [in an article] in this paper, bearing his signature as a member of the Yugoslav Committee [in London], No. 18 of 13 May 1917, enrolled these dissidents and it is interesting that, while defending himself, he admitted the truth of all those things that our poor men who returned from Russia are saying.  While defending himself, he admitted that the success of recruitment for the 2nd Division was very poor. [Horvat quotes:]
The volunteer-officers, Croatians and Slovenians, joined in a substantial number, about 250, so that the intelligentsia was rather well represented.  As far as the soldiers are concerned, the response was not proportional, for only a few hundred joined, thus the number of the officers vis-à-vis the number of the soldiers was out of proportion.  This fact incited the Croatian and Slovenian officers and Dr. Potočnjak — (Dr. Potočnjak represented at that time the Yugoslav Committee in Russia) — to work on gathering more soldiers, Croatian and Slovenian; for this purpose [they decided] to send [some] officers, who would travel throughout Russia, to explain to the men in the military camps the purpose of the Corps and call them to join it as volunteers.  [However], due to lack of cooperation of the provincial and military authorities, on the one side, and also because of the work in the field during harvesting time when the men were dispersed while working, the success [of this initiative] was insignificant.  Among those who traveled, agitated and gathered volunteers were Milan Banić Golija, Landikućiš [Landikušić?] et al.
Further to this Dr. Jambrišak writes:
As I said, the level of success was very poor.  When we returned from the journey, we submitted reports about this and some expressed their thoughts and proposals as how to recruit more Croatians and Slovenians for the Volunteer [Corps].  After a short time, on my initiative and with the support of Dr. Potočnjak and with the consent of General Živković, an inquiry was made in the Corps with the intention of discussing this question.  During this inquiry it was decided, following a proposal of the Croatians and Slovenians present, to bring to Odessa with the help of the Russian authorities a larger number of Croatians and Slovenians and that the Croatian and the Slovenian volunteer-officers would move among [these] men and explain to them the real state of the situation and fry to convince them to become volunteers.  We declare our firm belief that in this way we will have success.  We particularly expressed and wrote in a formal statement that for this step we absolve official Serbia and the Corps of all responsibility; we take [full] responsibility for all the consequences vis-à-vis the Croatians and the Slovenians and all the others and we do not renounce this responsibility today but, on the contrary, even stress it.
The motivation which led us was in general this: By ill fortune the Croatians and the Slovenians were obliged to fight on the front lines against the Russians and earlier also against Serbia — against those [the Serbians] who were [supposed to] liberate us.  We, who happened to come to Russia, have to show that we wish to shake off Austrian rule and to go to the front lines with the brothers who are fighting against this oppression.  It is necessary to spill Croatian blood for freedom, for only he who is also ready to die for it respects liberty.
The national intelligentsia in such a case has the right to win over the nation for the struggle for liberation.  We consider it even a duty to organize the Croatians in Russia for the struggle, bearing in mind the great sacrifices of the [South] American Croatians who were owed a lot by the whole of Yugoslavia, and history will rightly appreciate their sacrifices and inscribe in golden letters on the pages of the history of the Great War.  We did not want to remain behind the [South] American Croatians and we [therefore] went to support them.
In the process of forming the 2nd Division into which about 3800 Croatians and 2100 Slovenians entered, some unpleasant things happened, due to the fact that our people were uninformed about the things which are almost unavoidable in such work.  In order to escape these harsh realities, an “educational command” was created in order to inform and politically educate the people.
The Serbian Command had to politically educate the volunteers, the silovoljci, in order that they understand why they were volunteers in the Serbian [Volunteer] Corps!  [Dr. Alexander Horvat correctly remarks]. (He reads):
In this work Banić, as a commander of the battalion, actively and energetically participated in the educational command and [also] Ivo Mance in the supplementary battalion, explaining and conducting the organization with all the means at his disposal.  The 2nd Division was formed and sent to nearby villages.
And now hear about the Austro-Hungarian discipline in the army which Dr. Bertić mentioned shortly before [Deputy] [Dr. A. Horvat said]. (He reads):
The officers who came from Corfu, used to hard discipline in the Serbian Army [sic!], insisted on harsh discipline not only for the soldiers but also for the volunteer officers, which is quite understandable under the circumstances.
Food-stuffs in Russia increased greatly in price, while the officers’ salaries were relatively small in comparison to the prices.  For this reason the volunteer-officers became dissatisfied and, from time to time, they expressed their demands for an increase in their salaries.  On account of the unsuccessful battles in the Dobrudja, their morale declined to some extent, which is quite understandable.  From this a desire was born not to go [any more] into battle except in their homeland.  Many officers could not accommodate themselves to the harsh discipline.
[The officers] requested that General [Živković] change the name of the Corps, improve their material conditions, replace the Serbian emblems with Yugoslav ones, that writing in the Latin alphabet be made equal to that in the Cyrillic, and that the Croatians and the Slovenians be separated from the Serbs and form separate regiments.  As far as religion was concerned, one had to be particularly watchful and not mix the Catholics with the Orthodox believers.  The Corps must also not be considered as an army of the Kingdom of Serbia, but as a separate revolutionary Yugoslav Army.  Finally, this revolutionary army, never and under any circumstances, must not be engaged outside of the boundaries of our unliberated national territory, and anyone who would try to engage it outside these boundaries — regardless from where he came — (as, for instance the engagement with the Russians in the Dobrudja expedition) — was to be brought before the people’s court.  In addition, the committee of officers demanded a parallel policy in the Corps, probably on the pattern of the Austrian Army?! and that the editorship of the Slovenski Jug be given over to them.  Švrljuga, being without work, wanted to get on the editorial board and [for this reason] he pushed them to propose this; however, I have to admit that in this he did not receive support from everybody.  As far as the newspaper is concerned, the General was, anyway, not in a position to fulfil this request, for Slovenski Jug was an organ of the Yugoslav Committee.  However, this did not prevent them from demanding it, wishing to sharpen the conflict.  As a condition for remaining in the Corps, they demanded a “guarantee” that Yugoslavia would be a federal state.
Dr. Jambrišak, who encouraged the massacres in association with the Serbian officers, in the end said about these Yugoslav dissidents (he reads):
They submitted a notorious memorandum which swarms with attacks on Serbia, but have not made a single remark against Austria.  They speak of Serbian imperialism, saying that the Croatians and the Slovenians will not fight in the Corps, for they are not ready to shed their blood to end their slavery, etc.  In short — and this is characteristic — it seems that the Croatians and the Slovenians are more satisfied in Austria than they would be in a union with Serbia.  In the introduction of the memorandum it is stated that they are fighting for Yugoslavia and at the end they demanded the disbanding of the Corps.
Now, Dr. Jambrišak speaks about the form of the future Yugoslav state and says that an agreement about this was not reached [between the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbian Government convened at Corfu], and that the people will decide after the war according to the principle of self-determination, which form [of state] they want — whether a republic [or] a federated Kingdom under the scepter of Karadjordjević, etc.
This historical survey of the origin, creation, and activity of the Serbian Legions describes the legions which destroyed tens of thousands of Croatian sons who fell into [Russian] captivity, whose parents were certainly waiting for them to return home.  It is consoling only that these thousands and thousands did not want to join these Serbian volunteers and died as martyrs rather than betray their Fatherland and their King.  And then let somebody tell me that this Yugoslav idea will not taint the Croatian nation [Dr. Alexander Horvat said].  (Deputy Dr. Živko Bertić: It will not taint it but cure it.  Noise [in the Parliament]).
When Ilija Rašković and Stjepan Ožbolt, members of the Domagoj academic club, both from Radziechowa, and the Slovenian Valencic, a sergeant-major, returned from [Russian] captivity, they wrote [a letter] dated 26 July [1917], as follows:
We endured more during our captivity than anybody else, and why should only we be forgotten and forsaken by all?  Even in a foreign country we did not forget our Fatherland — our dear mother Croatia; in Russia we suffered and shed our blood for no other reason than that we were born and educated by our Croatian mothers and for that reason we have been and are Croatians.  We were imprisoned, beaten, killed, and tortured by hunger.  But in spite of all the tortures and suffering and threats, nobody could compel the Croatians and Slovenians to renounce their name and become traitors to our Fatherland.
In vain thousands of good mothers, faithful wives and defenseless children awaited their dear sons, husbands, and fathers — bread-winners who left their lives and their bones in every part of Great Russia.  They wait for them in vain; they will never return.
If the Black Sea could speak, it could have told you how many thousands of Slovenian and Croatian sons it swallowed.  (Commotion in the galleries.)  Mr. President, what does this mean?  Why, will we the national representatives, be provoked by the galleries?  (Noise. Deputy Većeslav Wilder: Why do you disagree with the galleries.  Deputy Dr. Ivo Frank: To tolerate this consistent provocation is really a shame.  Noise. Deputy Većeslav Wilder: You wanted to have full galleries.)  We do not need them [i.e., the youths in the galleries].  (He shows the manuscripts.) These are our galleries.
I have here a letter from a man who was a volunteer for a year — (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: Is what are you saying the truth?  Newspapers are newspapers) — who spent those terrible days in Odessa and who has a complete report about what the Serbs from the Kingdom of Serbia and also from Croatia and Slavonia did.  (Deputy Marko Mileusnić: This is all untrue.)  I gave here the names of many men and I would ask that one does not speak in this way about these men who had courage to come give their names and who therefore personally bear witness to what they said.  This volunteer is named Juraj Grčević, now on leave of absence in Kompolje.  He said that in the middle of October 1916, when Russian policemen were picking up prisoners of war throughout Ekaterinoslav Guberniia and driving them, about 2,000, to Odessa, there was already a revolt, because our men did not want to be taken away to Odessa. In this report he said more about it (he reads):
On the second day there came to a camp for prisoners of war a Serbian Captain Majstorović accompanied by several Czechs, sub-lieutenants of the Serbian Legion, Warrant Officer Stanovoj, assistants, [and some] Russians.  While the Captain went to the Serb volunteers to get a report from them, the Czechs were persuading us to join the Corps [as they had had to].  Because of the lack of Yugoslavs, they had been called upon to replace our representatives.
Among the Croatian and Slovenian prisoners a storm of protests arose on the subject the Czechs had brought up: “We do not want to know about Serbia!  Separate us from Serbia and the Serbian officers!  Long live King Franz Joseph I! (Živio kralj Franjo Josip I!).  Majstorović left the report, ran up to us and shouted like a lunatic: “It is shameful what the Russians are permitting in the camp against the prisoners-of-war!  Bring machine-guns and make them ready!  If this would happen in Germany, the Germans would kill them all, for this I have documentary evidence (sic!).”
Assistant Stanovoj (a chief of the Russian police) accompanied by policemen with daggers hanging on their belts, shamed by [the remark of] the Serbian officers, ran towards the prisoners with a leather whip, beating them mercilessly [and shouting]: “Skotina! Russkie voennoplienny, raby!  Vam idti tuda kuda Rossiia hochet’.”  (Beasts! Russian prisoners of war, slaves!  Where Russia wants, there you will go.)  Majstorović knocked out a German with a saber who was watching the scene and after this the rest of the prisoners, the Germans and the Bulgarians, ran away to the barracks.  The Serb [Majstorović] shouted like an infuriated animal, vehemently brandishing his saber in his right hand in a circle above his head.  Cursing bitterly and threatening us, the officers of [Serbian] King Peter [then] went away.
After their departure a company of Russians promptly came, under the command of an officer, and with the Cossack bayonets drove half of the men, about 1,000, to the main railway station.  These captives demonstrated in front of the house of the voennyi nachal ‘nik (head of an administrative district).  The Russian soldiers, good-natured and honest, did not want to reestablish order. The voennyi nachal ‘nik had to send for the Cossacks who with sticks and daggers drove away the captives to the Ekaterinoslav main railway station and pushed them into wagons.  After two days they also drove us from captives’ camp and the only [difference was] that at the same time, the Cossacks took us away with two companies of Russian soldiers. The townspeople, surprised, were running after us and asked what we had done, thinking that they were conducting us to a place of execution.
At the main railway station they pushed us into the wagons and transported us towards Odessa. Many Russian soldiers could not understand what they were to do with us and how they could force us to go into battle against our own people.  Thinking about our situation, I asked them [our men] to keep in mind their oath of allegiance and stressed that it was impossible that the Serbs would force us [to join the Volunteer Corps] and give us arms, for it was against sound reasoning to give arms to the enemy; [however], if they would, in a mad state of mind, still give us arms, then they should know the consequences in advance.  For these words I almost paid with my life in Odessa.  The eyewitnesses will confirm this.
At the Balta railway station, we saw Captain Pandić, a Yugoslav, Serbocroat (sic!) of the Roman Catholic religion as he claimed, wearing a Serbian uniform with four stars on his shoulders.  A Serb, Kukić, a corporal in the 27th Infantry Regiment, who was in my railway car, spoke with him.  This spy was decked out with the Serbian tricolor and was around us all the time.  It was he who denounced me.
On 25 October 1916, in the middle of night, they drove us by force into the “Kanatnyi zavod” (the Rope Factory) on Bol ‘shaya Arnautskaya Street No. 2.  There were “Serbs everywhere” (Srbi svi i svuda), and two Yugoslavs were waiting for us.  The Serbs had guns in their hands and were wearing cartridge belts across their chests from where bullets stuck out.  This was at the time when the Bulgarians had utterly defeated the Serbian Volunteer Division in the Dobrudja and they, reorganizing themselves, were coming in small groups of three or four to Odessa, where the blood-thirsty General Živković and his Serbian officers gave them at once a chance to strike at the other dangerous Yugoslav nation, the Croatians, who, fortunately [for them], had no knives or guns in their hands, unlike the Bulgarians.
These were the Serbian legionaries, slabosilci, policemen, or komitadjis, as were called, who, at the time of mobilization of the Croatians and the Slovenians, committed countless crimes and were the authors of terrible cruelties.  The Odessa mobilization is a black spot in the history of the Serbian nation, and, because of this, the Yugoslav Piedmont — small Serbia — will be ashamed of itself forever.
There were, as I said, “Serbs everywhere”, Sub-Lieutenants Dr. Stefanović, Novaković, Blažević, corporals Dr. Čerenov of Novi Sad, Jerko Jedlička of Mostar and two Yugoslavs, captains Pandić and Gašparović and about eighty slabosilci armed to their teeth.  This guard of slabosilci at once expressed their dissatisfaction with the Austrian cap-badges (cocardes), wanting us all to tear them off and throw them away.  We did not permit that.  After  that the Yugoslavs of the Catholic faith started to indoctrinate us: that we had to be ashamed, because with our bravery as faithful servants we brought shame on the Croatian name!
When we dared to respond that there did not appear to be any evil in serving one’s own lawful ruler faithfully, that, on the contrary, we considered it a virtue and we were proud of fighting in the lines of the Austrian Army, that we were defending our Croatian bodies from the invasion of the enemy, the slabosilci surrounded these “preachers.”  Due to a lack of national consciousness, they could not find any Croatians but those who had thrown themselves against us like enraged animals.  They started to beat the barehanded captives with their fists, gun-butts, and sticks till they were bleeding; they knocked out their teeth, broke their ear-drums while hitting them on their ears, knocked them out with their fists and with their gun-butts, and broke their ribs while they lay on the ground.  The “preachers” of pure Serbian blood — not Yugoslav — (for the Serbs will always remain Serbs!) — not only permitted the slabosilci to beat [the prisoners of war] but they themselves beat them also.  The Šokci were violently falling to the ground because of the [“preachers'”] sabers.115  As they did so, these brother Serbs did not conceal their malevolence; [on the contrary] they were saying: “Hey! Šokac, this [blow] is for you; this one is for our [Orthodox] Church; this one is for the [Orthodox] priest (pop) Elijah, whom you brought in chains; this one is for killing the Serbian children,” etc.  The Yugoslav “preachers” [of the Catholic faith] did not actively participate in this indoctrination,” but, after the storm was over, when our Serbian brothers stopped running around us, while we were rubbing our ribs and cleaning off the blood, they informed us that beating is forbidden in Serbia, for it is the most democratic state in the world (sic!), but that it was rather we, with our mean-spirited answers, who made it possible for these honest patriots to justify themselves.  The leader of the Yugoslav Odessa “preachers,” the Yugoslav minister — as the blood-thirsty General Živković addressed Dr. Franko Potočnjak — did not show himself in front of the Croatian prisoners of war.  In spite of this, he carries the greatest moral responsibility for Odessa ‘s terrors, because General Živković received permission from Tsar Nicholas II for the mobilization of the Croatians referring himself to the Yugoslav Committee’s representative, Dr. [Franko] Potočnjak.
The intelligentsia went to sleep and the slabosilci surrounded us in a circle and watched us during the night.  Early the next morning, the intelligentsia came back.  A Czech, Janko Jedlička of Mostar, took me out among the men and brought me into a narrow corridor in which a Serbian policeman stood with a gun.  This policeman first pulled off the [Austrian] badge from my cap and then struck in the back with all his might with the butt-end of his rifle.  Blood started to come from my nose and mouth.  Jedlička stopped him, asserting that he must take me to Captain Majstorović.  This meeting concerned my “rebellion” in the railway cars on the way from Ekaterinoslav to Odessa.  Jedlička himself stated in front of two Croatian captives that I had to be executed for that.  He looked for Majstorović but he was not there.  After that he brought me before a Yugoslav officer who reproached me and with two policemen, he ordered them to drive me away to the 1st Battalion.  They drove still more prisoners of war to the same place, Croatians and Slovenians — (while the remainder were scattered amongst other battalions) — and started to distribute volunteer uniforms to them.  [However] when they put on Serbian caps (šajkače) — this sole symbol of King Peter’s army, for the rest  was Russian — many could not smother a revolt in their hearts and threw them away.  One Orthodox-faith Croatian from Lika threw his cap away: “I am not a Serb but an Orthodox-faith Croatian, a father of six children, I cannot and will not serve King Peter.”  The majority howled like wounded animals and threw themselves on the victim.  “You rogue, you have denied your religion, traitor!”  And they started to strike him with their fists on his head, below his ribs, in the belly.  In their rage, the inquisitors stumbled over one other, falling down and getting up, swearing, quarreling among themselves as to who would approach the victim.  And then they began a rotation, each one showing us his specialty in beating.  A Serb, Medvjedović, from Derventa, a sergeant in the 1st Battalion, beat him first and in a Japanese way: using ju-jitsu, striking the victim’s genitals with his knee.  Because of the pain the man fell to the ground.  Medvjedović trod him under his feet, forced him to stand up and strangled him while kneeing him in the genitals.  After that came a Serb volunteer, Obrad Komjen from Banja Luka, who beat the wretch with his fist against the temples of his head.  He was hitting with one fist on the temple on the one side and with the other on the other side.  [The beating] ended with a butt-end of the rifle of a Serb volunteer, Toma Tomić from Zvornik.  The man lost consciousness.  They threw him to the end [of the barrack?] and covered him with a tent.  This was about 10 o’clock in the morning and the man did not regain consciousness till that night.  During the night they took him out somewhere.
Another who threw away his cap was Marko Basarić, a Croatian of Bosnia, of the 3rd Bosnian-Herzegovinian Regiment.  The whole lot of slabosilci threw themselves on him and pushed him out through the door, beating him with their fists and the butt-ends of their rifles.
A third who threw away his šajkača was a Croatian Zagorac of the 14th Regiment.  They did not pull him out but pushed him with their fists into a jail.  The Serbs particularly hated and wished to take revenge on our soldiers of the brave 16th Infantry Regiment.  For Basarić and Zagorac, I later searched for their place of imprisonment, but nobody could tell me where they were.
The Slavosrbi (the Slavic Serbs) took our military uniforms, heavy coats, and boots and took them to town in order to sell them.  Before night fell, several Croatian prisoners came from the jail, black from beatings, and said that they had taken their money from them.  All this happened not only without judgement, but also publicly in the presence of the Serbians and the officers of the Legion.  And so I spent my second night in the volunteers’ division.  These horrible two nights and day!
That night there again came a transport of one thousand men into the Rope Factory.  At daybreak, they brought out the prisoners to the yard and began to “indoctrinate” them.  As they could convince nobody with words, the slabosilci intervened.  The brother Serbs beat the captive Croatians and the Slovenians with gun-butts, sticks, knuta116, and sabres.  I was in the court together with the captive Croatians, forcibly dressed in the uniform of the volunteers.  Suddenly somebody among the silovoljci shouted: “Let us not be given over to them!”  And all the silovoljci cried out “Hurrah!” throwing themselves barehanded onto the inquisitors.
The slabosilci fled.  The prisoners, dressed in Austrian and Russian uniforms, fraternized.  In a short time the slabosilci reappeared with the officers.  Both sides were shouting “Hurrah!”  But the barehanded ones had to run away when confronted with fixed bayonets.  I will never forget the panic and wild flight.  The men ran into the barracks, jumped over the walls into the hospital courtyard, and through the windows.
The slabosilci were catching the mutineers (ustaše), beating and forcing them into the jails.  The prisoners were forced back into barracks and there beaten savagely.  The prisoners’ screams, as though they were being cut alive, reached us.  After that, arrests followed and the [forced] wearing of the [volunteer] uniforms.  This happened to the first unit of the Reserve Battalion.  There were fourteen such units.
The Rope Factory had many rooms, corridors, and partition walls as in an ancient labyrinth.  In each of the rooms, in each of the corridors and cells of this labyrinth, tragedies were enacted and the innocent blood of the Croatian prisoners flowed.
The horrible things happening in Odessa’s labyrinth surpassed even the prisons where the Serbs were masters.  The narrow stairs were full of captive Croatians and Slovenians, so that there was not even a place to lie down.  There was no place even to sit down, so overcrowded was it.  The commander of the prison was a Serb volunteer, Dr. Čeremov from Novi Sad.  He had previously taken wallets from the men and had divided the money with the Legion staff; it was he who searched the  bags and assigned the places to the guards inside and outside the prison.  The imprisoned men did not receive food.  There  were men who languished in prison without food for five, six days.  The slabosilci withheld not only bread but also water from the hated Šokci.  It is true that the slabosilci conducted the captives to the toilets and for water, but on these occasions they gave vent to their anger by hitting them with the butt-ends of their rifles.  The men preferred to suffer from thirst than to go out. In general, the slabosilci beat [the prisoners] in the corridor in front of the prison, because inside there was not enough room.  Individuals were brought out [from the jail] into the corridor and were beaten with gun-butts, and their ribs, collar bones, and arms were broken in this way.  They broke the  hand of former prisoner of war Baša Rukavina, sergeant-major of the 79th Infantry Regiment, a tradesman from Otočac.  They also broke the arm of the Bosnian Croatian Bono Radić, while in the prison itself they only killed the inmates.  The Croatian prisoner and people’s champion, Mato Vrban from Cesarica, otherwise a fisherman from Rijeka, [a member of] the 26th National Shocktroop Regiment [Pučko-ustaška pukovnija],  told me: “In spite of pressure and beating I did not want to put on the volunteer uniform; therefore, they imprisoned me.  There, my money was immediately taken away.  I never saw it again.  During the day they conducted individuals from the jail to the corridor, beating and asking us to join the volunteers. They beat me too.”
Before night fell, they threw into jail a Croatian, Dr. Fabijanić, a medical doctor from Rijeka, who was dressed in the uniform of an Austrian officer.  I knew that he was a good Croatian and a patriot.  He shortly told me that he was engaged as a doctor in a [Russian] hospital and that, from there, the Russians sent him to Odessa.
The Serbs, using all the means at their disposal, wanted to have him as a doctor for the volunteers, and offered him officer’s rank.  He did not want to act against his convictions and therefore was imprisoned.  Night fell.  The men were crouching, leaning against the wall and against each other and falling asleep.  About midnight, the noise of keys turning sounded in the lock of the door.  Because of this rumbling noise everybody woke up and started to tremble.  The nocturnal visits of the slabosilci were known to all.  Two slabosilci, with bare bayonets in their hands, stepped in.  They kindled matches and looked for somebody.  Suddenly one [of the two slabosilci] jumped and hit a man near me with a stick on his chest.  The man wheezed and fell down.  His blood spattered over me.  The man was sick two or three times and then died.  He had had a heart attack.  The slabosilci illuminated his face with a match. “This is not him!” — they said and continued to search.  We stood petrified.  And again, one could hear a stab of the bayonet striking a bone and panting. When the sun rose, there was no dead man near me, no Dr. Fabijanić in the prison.  After the February Revolution of 1917, the writer of these lines presented this case with many others to the then “Deputies of the Workers and Soldiers.”
I also brought the case of Pavao Perić and Milan Lazić to the attention of the Soviet.  Perić and Lazić told [me the following]: “In the dead of night we were returning from the city to the Rope Factory.  As we were passing near the prison, we saw there a stopped wagon covered with a tarpaulin.  We uncovered it.  Four corpses in Austrian uniforms lay inside it.  When we heard steps, we rushed to one side and hid behind the bricks.  The slabosilci were bringing out a fifth corpse.  They threw it into the wagon, beat the horses and departed.  We followed them from a distance.  They arrived at the city cemetery, threw the dead bodies [from the wagon] into a ditch, put straw on them, and set fire to it.”
Fishermen and seamen continued to find dead bodies in the Black Sea … [the text interrupted in original.]
For a moment, I also looked through the bars into the jail from the court side, until the Legion watchmen drove me away.  The scene was frightful.  The prisoners were surrounded by the watchmen, slabosilci who were holding their guns with fixed bayonets, looking straight forward into their eyes [saying:] “You do not want to enroll [in the Volunteer Corps]?” and reproached the prisoners harshly. “Get up, get out!” [Then] they led individuals up into a narrow and dark corridor and in front of the window beat them very hard with their rifle butts.
All this happened at the end of October in the year 1916 at the Rope Factory.  Simultaneously, the Serbs were sending to the Entente’s press, particularly the British press, long reports about the “successful” establishment of the Yugoslav Army.
At that time, a decree by Tsar Nicolas II was read to the prisoners in which it was promised that they would not be sent to the front in the same way as the Serbian volunteers had been, until the Entente’s forces could break into the Yugoslav territories!
Every day they organized battalions and brought them to the village of Dol’nikove and Gn’ilakovo near Odessa where the 2nd Division of the Yugoslav [Volunteers] was based.  In front and at the rear of the battalions, the Serb volunteers and the slabosilci were marching under the Serbian flag in full combat order with weapons — rifles with bayonets fixed — while in the middle were the Croatians and Slovenians without weapons. With this they intended to manifest their Serbian nationality to Odessa’s Jews and Bulgarians, who were well informed of the secrets of the Rope Factory.  However, despite these “walking” battalions, the Croatians showed with their blood their national consciousness and loyalty to the House of Habsburg, not only to the Bulgarians and the Jews, but also in front of Odessa, in front of the Russian military establishment, and in front of all the representatives of the Entente States.  The bloody insurrections of the moriturI117 Croatians, which condemned them to a sure death, were crushed by the infamous and sordid celebration of the Serbs; they [the Croatians] were faithful to the “memory of Zrinski and Frankopan, and to many others like them.”118
A Croatian teacher, Slavko Felja, had information about the first revolt [of the Croatian prisoners] on the Kulikovo polje (Kulikovo Plain) from civilian eyewitnesses and from the insurgents themselves; he ran immediately after me into the prisoners’ camp.
They sent the “walking battalion” to the villages.  In the front and rear were the Serbian volunteers with ammunition and guns, in the middle the Croatians with guns but without ammunition.  The Legion officers surrounded the marchers with bared sabers.  And so they came to Kulikovo Plain.  On the isolated Kulikovo Plain the Croatians lost patience.  They stopped.  [Suddenly] the prisoners shouted: “Long live the Habsburg Monarchy!  Long live the Fatherland!  Long live King Franz Joseph I!”  (Živio kralj Franjo Josip I!)  This was just in those days when our deceased King of blessed memory was lying in state.  The Croatians on the Kulikovo Plain rendered him a final homage.
As lions, [the Croatians], leveling the barrels of their guns [like staffs, for they did not have ammunition], they stormed their tormentors with the battle-cry: “Živio Kralj!” (Long live the King!)
This battle-cry must have been terrible.  Even though they had loaded guns and sharp bayonets, the Serbs did not have the courage to withstand the assault.  They fled.  The heroes remained alone, venting their feelings and praising the King and the Fatherland.
The Serbs returned with the Cossacks.  Riding on their light horses, the Cossacks fired their guns at the insurgents … [ the text interrupted in the original.]  The [Serbian Corps of] Volunteers helped them with their firepower … [the text interrupted in the original].  A mass of the Croatian insurgents without ammunition still rendered homage to their legitimate King as they lay bleeding and dying [shouting]: “Long live Franz Joseph I!”
And so it ended on that battlefield where a large number of troops and blood remained, while those Croatian mutineers whom destiny had spared and who survived this horror, were sent by the Russian military authorities to the katorzhnaia rabota [forced labor] … [text interrupted in original].
The Serbs tried to hide this bloody event on the Kulikovo Plain, which was far from town, taking the “walking battalion” further afield more carefully now.
I saved myself, together with Janko Haramina, a reservist from the 25th Territorial Infantry Regiment, by taking refuge in a prisoner of war camp in Gradonachal’skaia Street No. 20 [in Odessa], bribing a commander of the camp; we gave him our last money and our boots after I unsuccessfully begged at the American consulate as well as at the Headquarters of the Russian military districts.
They [the Russians] also accepted in the camp Croatians and Slovenians, though rarely. There were also certain ones who escaped from their torturers and, covered with blood, ran to the Russian authorities.
From the fugitives I could actually ascertain the further development of events in the Rope Factory.
After the second rebellion in the town of Odessa and the tragedy in Slobodtsa Romanova [a little village called Romanovo], the Serbs changed their way of escorting [the “walking battalions”].
The rebellion at the turn of Bol’shaia Arnautcheskaia Street and Preobrazhenskaia Street, as well as in the heart of the town [of Odessa], took place when the Croatians and the Slovenians were conducted to the 2nd Division in the [nearby] villages.  Here the silovoljci threw away their Serbian effects, keeping their guns and shouted: “Da zdravstvuet Avstria!  Da zdravstvuet imperator Franz Josif I?’’  (Long live Austria. Long live Emperor Franz Joseph I!) The crowd rushed to the square.  The Legion officers and the Serb volunteers tried to restore order.  The insurgents, with the approval of the civilians, drove them away. Here in the neighborhood was the building housing the English and American Consulate.  General Marks, the Commander of the Russian military district, otherwise a great friend of the Serbs, came here with the Cossacks, who stood aside while General Marks parleyed with the insurgents.  Because of this unheard-of event, the crowd became bigger and bigger.  And [finally] Marks was left with no other solution than to invite the insurgents into the camp reserved for prisoners of war.
On the way, the insurgents broke the guns’ breech mechanisms.  The crowd followed them to the camp, openly protesting against their treatment by the Serbs.  The Russian district authorities conducted an inquiry and, by whatever means, wanted to get their hands on the mutineers.  The men replied bravely, admitting they were all equally responsible.  The Serbian officers participated in the investigation. General Živković demanded that [General] Marks shoot all the insurgents.  The matter ended with the insurgents  being sent to a forced labor camp, having an iron-smelting furnace, at Enakievo in the Donskaia oblast (the Don Region) among the Cossacks.  Among those insurgent Croatians who were known to me, an insurgent corporal, an old man, Karlo Horvat, of the 25th National Insurgent Regiment, ran away.
In Slobodtsa Romanova, at the Probochnyi zavod (Cork Factory), the Serbs deployed one regiment of Croatians and Slovenians, who had been forced to wear Legion uniforms.  The Serb komitadjis were also located there.  Ammunition was not given to the Croatians and Slovenians.  Colonel Ristić, a Serb, came to inspect [them].  The Legion volunteers ran to the silovoljci and told them that the Colonel was coming for an inspection, and threatened to flay off their skin if they did not behave correctly and peacefully and that, if and when the Colonel greeted them with “Pomoz Bog vojnici!” (God help you, soldiers!), they should reply: “Bog ti pomogao!” (God help you [too]!)
Ristić came and called God’s help.  Our (men) kept silent.  Ristić repeated: “God help you, soldiers!” [Our] reply was: “Long live King Franz Joseph I!  Long live Croatia!  Long live Austria!  We are not Serbian soldiers.”
Colonel Ristić and his companions ran away even though nobody threatened them and the men were barehanded.  Outside, the Serbian Colonel alerted a company of komitadjis and led them to the barracks where the Croatians and the Slovenians were.  He ordered them to stab the men, who were unarmed and neither guilty nor indebted to anyone, because they could not forget their Fatherland and their lawful King and would not serve the Greater Serbian idea.  The komitadjis then stabbed their victims.  Among the victims were those through whose bodies the komitadjis ran not only their bayonets but also the barrel of their guns.  There were a dozen slain and far more wounded.  One Istrian Croat, who also was wounded on this occasion, told me in Gr[adonachal’skaia] Street [No] 20 about this tragedy.  After the February Revolution of 1917, the tragedy was [also] brought up with the Soviet.
The tombs of these innocent victims are located in Slobodtsa Romanova.  Would it not be possible to endeavor to bring their remains back to the Fatherland?
After these events, the Russians did not permit, neither did the Serbs dare, after the forced recruiting, to send the Croatians and Slovenians to the villages to the 2nd Division or to place weapons in their hands.
Apart from the Rope Factory, they invented still one more tartarus119 in the same Slobodtsa Romanova at the Cork Factory. Oh infamy! Oh impudence!
The treatment in the Rope Factory remained the same; they, by terror and beatings and persecution of all kinds, forced the [Croatians] to volunteer and put the Legion uniforms on them.  They would then come after two or three days among them and cunningly ask [:] “Brothers, if anyone of you has no desire to remain here, he may announce this fact and we will dismiss him.  ” Of course, our people at once announced themselves for prisoners-of-war [instead].  After that, they brought them in groups of about twenty to Slobodtsa Romanova.  It was there that the so-called vaspitna komanda (Command for Re-education), where the Yugoslavs and the Serbs were bringing them to their senses, was located.  General Živković would come there, as well as the [members of the] Serbian Headquarters.  Officers, the Serbian “refugees,” the officials and writers also came there [like] Uncle Dragutin Ilić [ 1858-1926], a Nestor of the Serbian book, to ‘teach” and “re-educate.”  It goes without saying that the slabosilci were the most successful in “bringing men to reason,” using the butt-ends of their rifles and cudgels.
The horrors of the Rope Factory were repeated [here] as well, with this difference: the Legion officers saw that no one was spared from beatings; they assigned to each victim twelve or twenty-five strokes.
After that, when they assumed that the Šokci ‘s stubbornness was completely broken, they would bring the men in groups of 10 [or] 20 at a time, without weapons, to the Division Headquarters in the village.
There were many former prisoners of war who suffered at the Cork Factory and who returned from captivity.  “They tortured us there as Jesus was tortured,”  Stjepan Juratović, a corporal from the 26th National Insurgent Regiment, said showing his ribs.
However, the Croatians and the Slovenians from the Rope and Cork Factories, as well as those from the 2nd Division, would run away day by day throughout the winter of ’16 and ’17 [1916 and 1917] to the American Consulate [in Odessa] [and] to the Russian authorities [as well as] into the depths of Russia and to the front.
The American Consul, in order to protect himself from the uninvited guests, arranged to guard himself in the corridor of his palace using the Russian police, who arrested the fugitives.  ([For example], a former prisoner of war, Kuzma Kučan, a national insurgent of the 25th Regiment, was arrested together with his three friends by a Russian policeman in the corridor of the Amer[ican] Consulate.)  The Russian policemen also arrested the fugitives in the Russian District Headquarters as well as in the villages and further inside in Russia; they bound them and gave them over to the Serbs.  This was during the last days of Russia’s unbearable absolutism and our miserable wanderers felt all its severity, and even more so when they were handed back to the Serbs.
From a number of cases, I should mention this one[:] The Bosnian Croatians, Mijo Mirčić, Stjepan Ljeljić and Mijo Pranić, from the Bosnian Ranger [Division?] and a Croatian from the Hrvatsko Zagorje, Franjo Horvatek, of the 53rd I. R. [Infantry Regiment], ran away.  At that time, the Russians were sending all the prisoners of war to Odessa.  At the Serbian Battalion’s Headquarters, as a first “welcome” they beat them and sent them to a jail in the Rope Factory.  A Serbian volunteer, Metikoš, from Glina, was then supervising the jail.  He first confiscated their money.  After that and with the help of the Serbian guards, he flogged them and forced them to hit each other with all their force. “Look! — this is the way I hit him!” — he would say.  He beat the bare soles of their feet and, in the end, he whipped with his belt old [Franjo] Horvatek, riding him as a horse.  When he had finished “horse-riding,” he ordered him to open his mouth and he urinated into it.
And this I also brought up with the Soviet.  And it was like that until the February Revolution of 1917.  The Tsar abdicated [on 15 March 1917] and with this the entrenched Serbs [lost their power].
The Miliukov Government was formed as well as the Council of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.  From the very beginning, the Soviet took at once an inimical attitude toward the Serbs.  And we the prisoners of war did not stay with crossed arms either but reported our torturers to the Soviet.
The Soviet obliged the Miliukov Government to purge the Serbian troops of volunteers, to dismiss the Croatians and the Slovenians from service, and to send them to the camp for prisoners of war.  At that time a group of Yugoslav volunteer officers and the intelligentsia resigned from the Serbian troops and went over to the Russian Army.  The head of these new Yugoslav-Russophiles, Sub-Lieutenant Vrinjanin, tried to persuade us to volunteer for the Russian ammunition factory.
We, underfed, exhausted, and tortured prisoners steadfastly also resisted this new Yugoslav temptation, firmly protesting against this new Yugoslav bill of sale.
Honored House!  I could read I do not know how many more examples of such horrors.  [Dr. Alexander Horvat said].  I still have several cases here, but the matter is so dreadful and horrible that I think it is not necessary to paint this picture further.  [However], I will take the liberty of mentioning one thing which my Zagorci told me, whom I earlier quoted:
There were thousands of us before we left Russian captivity, who remembered all these tortures, all that the Serbs and the Czechs did to us in the name of the Yugoslav idea, and we made a pledge to avenge ourselves upon these our murderers.
I tried to dissuade him from this and told him: No one is demanding from you any revenge here.  Only be the living witnesses of the consequences for Yugoslavia of the (so-called) brotherhood of Serbians and Croatians.  (Applause from the Party of Right.)  [After that, Dr. Alexander Horvat] (reads) [this Interpellation which follows]:
“By virtue of all that [I presented above] I ask:
[l] Whether it is known to the Ro[yal] Croatian Government that the soldiers of the Greek-Orthodox faith from the Croatian regions, who fell into Russian captivity and in great majority came over to the Serbian Army, joining the so-called Yugoslav Legion, together with the Czech prisoners of war, had committed incredible bloodthirsty outrages against the prisoners of war who did not reject their Croatian nationality and fidelity to their legitimate Croatian King?
[2] Whether the Ro[yal] Croatian Government is willing to acquire for itself through the military authorities the correct facts about these events and to give at least material compensation from the confiscated property of all the traitors and torturers to the families of those Croatian martyrs who perished because of this Serbian-Yugoslav-Czech violence.
[3] Whether the Ro[yal] Croatian Government is willing to inform our [i.e., the Austro-Hungarian] Department of Foreign Affairs, about these horrors committed in the name and by order of Royal Serbia which is at war with us, in order to be able to deal with this unheard-of transgression of international law, on the occasion of peace negotiations and procure appropriate reparations to the Croatian soldiers who did not  betray their beliefs, and to their families.”
(Thunderous applause from the Party of Right.) [The End]
In the 13 January 1954 issue of the Croatian newspaper Hrvatska (Croatia), published in Buenos Aires, Milan Špoljarec published an article entitled: “Odesa. Na izvorima zločina” (Odessa. At the Sources of Crime).  When he wrote this article, Špoljarec was probably the last living eyewitness in the world who could still tell us first-hand about the crimes committed by the Serbs in Odessa in 1917, and we can compare his testimony with that in our document.  For these reasons, we will translate Špoljarec’s article in its entirety.
I was recruited for the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 15 August 1914.  Recruiting training started in Rijeka.  The old ship Belona was our barracks, office, and ambulance.
From here, I was assigned to the ship San Ištvan [Szent Istvan, sunk in July 1918], where I for the first time started to learn about the Serbs.  A certain sergeant of the Chief of Staff, a Dalmatian Serb (at least he felt himself to be that), persecuted me on every occasion.  In this he was helped by a lieutenant of the frigate, Miliković, a member of the Greek Orthodox faith.  I was compelled to demand a transfer; so I went to the 16th Infantry Regiment in Bjelovar and from there to the Russian front.
With this regiment I experienced my “baptism of fire” and went through many battles. As a result of a change in the fortunes of  war, on 7 September 1915, during a retreat by my regiment, I was in the rearguard which consisted of the 6th (mine) and the 7th companies.  That afternoon at about six o’clock I fell into Russian captivity.
We walked for fourteen days.  On the way the inhabitants looked at us inquisitively, throwing food to us.  Those who were stronger did better.  Many fell and remained behind because of hunger, and God only knows what their fate was.  Exhausted and starving, we came to Prehorvata.  From there we went by train to Kiev, and after that to Derniec, where we finally stopped.  Here there was a larger camp with some 40,000 prisoners of war.  There were also many different nationalities from the Austro-Hungarian regions, Germans, and Bulgarians.
Coming into this camp, they made an exception for us Croatians.  They separated us from all the other nationalities, formed us into a line and then robbed us.  They took away all our belongings in the true sense of the word: watches, rings, money, knives, forks, combs and even pulled off our shoes, took off our heavy coats and blankets, and tore off our medals.  At first when they separated us, we thought that this would be beneficial to us.  But what a disappointment when they started to rob us and, in addition, to do so in a mocking way: “These you do not need.  You will get that from the Russians brand-new.  Why you have come into a land of wealth and amity.”  The Serbs and the Czechs did all this because they had the upper hand in the camp.
The camp was without amenities.  Prisoners of war died day and night because of the hunger and cold.  When called to work, we Croatians also wanted to go, because this was an opportunity to have a mouthful of food.  But they rejected us.
After fourteen days, we Croatians finally were lined up.  A small ray of hope appeared in our eyes.  But what happened?  The very same Serbs who had plundered us not too long ago, came with caps (šajkače) on their heads and started to offer us their help and protection.  They delivered long speeches to us: “Brother Croatians, you fell into Russian captivity.  But the Russians are Russians.  They do not give you anything, neither accommodations nor food.  This little millet in hot water, without fat and salt, cannot be called food.  How long can you endure that?  They do not permit you to go to work, for there you will find amenities, clothes, and food.”  They spoke to us in this way, those same ones who had plundered us, chose those who would go to work, those who were daily preparing the millet in hot water!
However, this was not all.  After this sad introduction they came with generous proposals and nice promises: “In order to be closer to your dear fatherland, we accept you, brother-Croatians, under our protection.  We will transfer you to Serbia.  There, they will give you bread and work.  Those who want may go to the factories which are numerous and do not have enough workers.
Farmers are also accepted; one may also join the police force, and become officers or gendarmes and join the army too.  Everywhere you will be equal to us Serbians.”
Amongst the several thousand Croatians, there were in the camp some thirty [Orthodox] Vlachs from Bačka [the area between the Danube and and Tisa Rivers] who accepted.  All the rest of us preferred the camp with hunger and slow death.  We had learned more than enough about them during that short time.  We threw back in their faces all the dirty tricks which they had done to us.
The next day those thirty or so Vlachs came among us with the šajkače and the Serbian tricolor on their heads.  They brought us bread and bacon and offered it to us to eat. None of us — not even yesterday’s friends — looked at them nor accepted their food.
One and a half months passed thus when, finally, the Croatians also started to be sent to work.  I was transported with a group of 1800 Croatians to Kremčuh [Kremchukh].  A new life [began] but still a bitter one.  We were loading grain into the wagons in groups of ten.
And until ten wagons — one wagon per person — were loaded, there was no dinner for us which the brother Serbs and Czechs were preparing.  After dinner, new work: patching sacks, and there were an immense number of them.  This work was performed from supper, which was never taken before 11:30 at night, and sometimes even at two o’clock in the morning.  Only after that was there a short rest under the tents with one’s shoes under one’s head and sleeping in a great-coat, instead of on a mattress, and then all over again — really the life of a slave, under the command of the Serbs and the Czechs.
Between them and us relations were so tense that one night fighting and retaliation broke out.  Our men were using bottles and bare fists, while the Serbs had kitchen-knives.  There were many wounded on both sides, on our side about 15, of which one succumbed because of his wounds.  So the Serbo-Croatian brotherhood has been sealed with blood!
This conflict had, for the time being, some positive consequences.  The Serbs and the Czechs were removed, which brought peace for some time in our sad life.  So it was until the Spring of 1916, when a group of some fifty Serbs again came to our camp.  After their arrival, during the next five months, ten Croatians were killed in a mysterious way.  This incident was sufficient for us to understand why the Serbs had come here.
In the spring I was transferred, along with some 320 Croatians, to Piščana Gora [Pishchana Gora is near Kremchukh] to the military warehouse where life became considerably better.
Here one day we were standing in a line when a Serbian officer and a non-commissioned officer (podčasnik) came forward.  They delivered a speech trying to persuade us to join the so-called Serbian Legion.  During the speech, we were talking among ourselves.  Too bad that this was not recorded on film!  Even though our talk only served the purpose of showing them how little we cared about listening to them, I still heard several things with one ear, though unintentionally.  This was a call to join the Serbian Army and for a future common state which would particularly reward the volunteers with profitable posts in the state service, while each peasant volunteer would receive several acres of land  (više jutara zemlje) [1 jutro=1 acre], two oxen three cows, one pig, a house, a stable, farm buildings and all the necessary tools.
After that a certain Šimatović of Križevci asked to speak.  He had previously lived in Šibenik [Dalmatia] and asked the Serbian officer how he should address him, for he did not know his [military] grade.  To this [the officer] answered:
—I am a Serbian lieutenant, a Serbian mother bore me and with her milk nursed me.  What would you like [my] son?
After Šimatović had disproved all the false promises the Serb [officer] had made, and [showed that he] talked a lot of nonsense (nadrobio), he finished with these words:
—As long as you Serbs, who call yourselves a type of Yugoslav, continue conquering Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia (and let us not speak of Croatia), even the last Yugoslav will disappear!
Šimatović paid with [his] head for these words.  The Serbian [ officer] shot down “his son” in front of our eyes.
This same Serbian non-commissioned officer threatened us, telling us all that we would not see our homes for he would wait for us with his [? soldiers] on the border and decapitate us, put [us] in front of the cannon, or hang us from the trees.
Being conscious of our difficult position and perturbed by Šimatović’s death, we begged the commander of the town, a Russian colonel of German origin, to protect us from the Serbs.  We told him that we were soldiers of the Kingdom of Croatia and therefore did not wish any kind of a union with the Kingdom of Serbia, and never to fight against that side on which, as officers and soldiers, our brothers and fathers, were serving.
The Colonel replied that he was personally helpless in this matter, but he would intercede on our behalf through the Ministry of the Army in Petrograd.  At the same time he informed us that the Serbs would soon transport us to Odessa.
It was true.  Some twenty days later, a Serbian company arrived and surrounded our quarters.  They forced us into the courtyard and, while standing in a line, they counted us, searched our pockets and took away all the money from those who had any.  “Forward! ” [they ordered] up to the railway station.  Here they pressed us into the railroad wagons and closed the doors with padlocks.  I do not know how many days the journey to Odessa lasted, for during the whole trip they did not open the wagons and wagons were dark.  But because of our empty stomachs, it seemed long.  For all this time they did not give us food at all, while the air was suffocating and stinking; we relieved our needs in one comer of the wagon.  When we arrived in Odessa, other Serbs opened the wagons and criticized those who had deported us in such an inhuman way. They told us:
“Those who have neither heart nor soul have done that.  One does not treat even cattle in such a way and never men.  Those [Serbs] who conducted you here, are already in jail, while the commanders will be brought to the military court and shot.”
We know that they were telling a blatant lie.  Lying is in their blood.  They took us to wash, then to eat and, in the end, the old story [all over again].  At first they got all the facts from each one of us individually in the writing room, then came an explanation of why they brought us to Odessa: to join the Serbian Army against the common enemy.
We tried to prove to them that we did not have a common enemy: on the other side of the battle-line were our fathers, brothers and relatives; we had taken an oath of allegiance to the legitimate Croatian King.  For this reason we could not support the Serbian cause, but we begged them to consider us as prisoners of war and to treat us according to international agreements (the Geneva Conventions).
To this they responded that they [actually] did not need us but only gave us three days to think it over, and when we saw, they said, what kind of life and treatment they would give us, maybe some of us would like it and join their ranks.
Then they gave us “better” accommodations, lined us up close to a wall and ordered us to undress.  Then they obliged us, one by one, to lie down on a bench; one beat us and the other counted until twenty-five strokes were given.  “Now you may think it over for three days.”
Three days later, there was again an interrogation, but a shorter one.
—”Brother Corporal — he asked me first — did you think it through, do you want to join our fighting units or not?”
—”No!” was my answer.
—”No!” answered one by one the line.
—Nobody [said] “Yes.”
The Serbian captain who interrogated us turned to the guards [and said]:
[“] Take them back to think it over for three more days.”
We arrived again at the same accommodations.  The same treatment of 25 strokes.  Some of us, starved, weakened, and exhausted, lost consciousness under the blows.  Each of these unfortunate ones were put into a sack in front of our eyes and thrown into a cart which was standing in front of the door.
The same was repeated for the third time.  Those who lived through it and survived nine [such] days and 75 strokes, had to take off all their clothes and stay only in their underpants and shirts.  Then they kept them in a cellar.  In each such cellar there were ten Croatians.  Each day the batinaši [those who beat others] visited us two or three times with pictures of [Emperor] Franz Joseph [of Austria-Hungary] and [King] Peter Karadjordjević [of Serbia], asking:
—Do you love this picture of Peter?
—No! were the persistent Croatian answers.
With each “no” they returned with beatings, kicking, torture, and those who lost consciousness were put in sacks.
For eight days we stayed in those cellars and each day there was the [same] “whom do you love?” routine and putting of the unconscious into sacks and each day there were fewer of us.  They also brought us into the courtyard in order to see what was awaiting us for sure.  The scene was terrible:
Battered Croatians had to go through double lines of Serbs, of whom there were about two hundred and each one with a stick in his hand.  Some of those wretched ones could not endure even the third blow and fell.  After the tenth [blow], not a single one held out on this final path to his death.
The other scene was equally terrible: They [the Serbs] put those tortured and battered Croatian soldiers one by one into the middle of a [large] cellar and then, sealed with wire, poured upon them boiling water till they expired, suffering most serious injuries and torments.
After eight terrible days, the Russian colonel came from Petrograd with a commission.  He had kept his word as an officer.  He wrested us from the murderers’ hands; but of 920 men at the beginning, only 80 of us had survived.  We were checked by the doctor, investigated by the Russian commission about our treatment by the Serbs, and then taken to a hospital.
After two months we left the hospital and Odessa as well and returned to our old place, but only 71 of us, for nine could not recover from the “brotherly” kiss.
This I described in honor of the “brother” Serbs and those enthusiasts among the Croatians, who thought — and some perhaps still think — about a union of Croatians and Serbians.
Concluding Comments
1) Ante Trumbić was not only the President of the Yugoslav Committee in London, but also, due to circumstances, the main political leader of Croatian political activity outside Croatia during World War I.  For this reason it is relevant, we think, to ask a question: What was Trumbić’s main political idea, what did he really want to achieve?
Until the outbreak of the First World War, the main political idea of Trumbić and his followers was to unite Southern Croatia (Dalmatia and Istra) with Northern Croatia.  Wishing to realize his idea, Trumbić looked for ways and means of how to do it.  Unfortunately, he found no support in Vienna, which ruled Dalmatia and Istra, so that Trumbić put all his  hopes in Serbia.  The “Yugoslav idea” also had proponents in certain political circles of Croatia, especially among the youth and certain prominent individuals, such as Frano Supilo and the sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.
The outbreak of World War I brought another element to Trumbić’s politics — the possibility of destroying the Habsburg Monarchy and freeing the Croatians from its “yoke.”  However, the conclusion of the Treaty of London in 1915, by which Italy was to receive a large part of Southern Croatia as a price for rejection of the Central Powers in favor of joining the Entente, presented Trumbić with a new, and quite difficult, question — how to prevent the parceling of southern Croatian lands.  This definitely bound him to Serbia — Trumbić even traveled on a Serbian passport — which, in the end, “hardly moved its small finger” in favor of Croatia vis-à-vis Italy.  On the contrary, Pašić “bartered” with Italy to the detriment of Croatian interests, as we have seen elsewhere in this paper.
Trumbić obviously did not understand the Treaty of London as a passing historical phase, even though it was very hard and unjust, but which at the next historical turn would be corrected as, in fact, was to be the case.  We are of the opinion that the Treaty of London did not play a decisive role in Trumbić’s decision to tie his political fortunes to Serbia and go along with it to the end, assuming that there was previously a certain vacillation by him “to go with Serbia or without it” — all the more so for Trumbić had not exploited a favorable situation after the fall of Serbia’ s main supporting pillar — the Romanov dynasty — to extricate himself from this dependent position.
By tying his political fortunes to Serbia, Trumbić and the Yugoslav Committee in London actually tied their own hands and lost precious independence of action with all the consequences which resulted from doing so.  Subsequently, Trumbić’s political failures vis-à-vis Serbia had their source in that linkage, especially the failure to realize the idea of an Adriatic (Yugoslav) Legion.  Similarly, Trumbić’s struggle against Serbian exclusivism, which Pašić and his Government so openly expressed and implemented, was thus in vain.
Tying their political fortunes to Serbia in an attempt to realize their political goals secured the psychological and ideological “knot” that caused the policy pursued by Trumbić and Meštrović to fail.  Both of them, like their followers, were later deeply disappointed and turned back to the idea of Croatian statehood idea, forsaking the Yugoslav idea.  They saw that a harmonious life and equality among the Croatians (who became second-class citizens) and the Serbians had not materialized.  So they searched for ways to deliver Croatia from this new bondage, which proved to be much harder than at any time during the four centuries under Habsburg rule.
2) Like Trumbić, Ivan Meštrović and, initially, Frano Supilo — the main political leaders abroad during World War I — failed to develop alternative solutions. One of these undeveloped solutions, perhaps the most realistic at the time, was to work for a union of all the Croatian lands within the boundaries of a reformed Habsburg Monarchy.  This particular political line was followed until the end of 1918 by Alexander Horvat and others in the Party of Right.  It is interesting that the May Declaration of 1917 sought a solution to the Croatian Question within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  This Declaration was submitted to Vienna’s Parliament on 30 May 1917 by Anton Korošec, a Slovenian Catholic priest and President of the South Slav Parliamentary Club in Vienna.  From that point on, the Declaration became the basis for the policy pursued by the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians living within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  It received numerous statements of support from individuals, religious and secular organizations, counties, cities, electoral counties, and even whole provinces.120  The May Declaration was signed and presented by Korošec and Matko Laginja (1852-1930), a popular Croatian politician from Istra in 1920, together with 32 prominent Croatian and Slovenian political representatives.  The May Declaration was submitted at about the same time that Trumbić and several Croatian and Serbian members of the Yugoslav Committee in London were debating with Pašić and members of the Serbian government the form of government that a future South Slav State should have.  The agreement reached, the Corfu Declaration of 1917, effectively created a new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes under the Karadjordjević dynasty.  While the May Declaration had overwhelming support in the country as we quoted, the Corfu Declaration had only limited support, and yet it prevailed, because Serbia was on the side of the victors, and Trumbić had tied his policy to victorious Serbia.
During the four centuries (1527-1918) that the Croatians had lived under the Habsburg Monarchy, Austria had succeeded in forging the various nations in its empire into an integral economic, cultural, political and psychological union, with a generally accepted central authority, a fair judicial system, and an administration free of corruption.  It was a pity and, in my opinion, a great error on the part of the Western Powers to destroy this venerable Monarchy.  In a federalized Habsburg Monarchy, the united Croatian lands would have found their natural protection against a greedy Italy and an aggressive Serbia supported by Russia.  In addition, by fragmenting the Monarchy into small national states, the victors provided easy prey for Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s and, after his defeat in 1945, for the Soviet Union.
Perhaps Trumbić’s greatest mistake was to tie Croatia so closely to Serbia.  These two nations, the Serbian and the Croatian, had entirely different cultural, psychological, and national formations, in spite of similarities in their spoken languages.  The Croatians evolved in a Western, Habsburg, cultural milieu, the Serbians in an Oriental, Ottoman one.  There had been more than sufficient indications that clearly revealed the character and quality of the new partner with whom Trumbić wished to form a common state and a close union.  Bitter experience has shown us that this union was not achieved either in Royalist Yugoslavia (1918-1941) or in Communist Yugoslavia (1945-1991.)
3) The Yugoslav Committee in London also did not accept the idea of gradual union which Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), a prominent Czech scholar and statesman, discussed with Ivan Meštrović after the war in 1924 when the latter was a guest of President Masaryk.  Masaryk proposed that the South Slavs start with a confederation between Croatia and Serbia and not attempt a closer union until the Yugoslav idea was generally accepted.  This was in many ways a quite prudent and realistic position.121  Whether the circumstances of 1918 would have allowed the Croats and Serbs the leisure to do is not clear.
4) Yet another solution was not taken into consideration: to work toward Croatian independence outside the Habsburg Monarchy and without any link with Serbia.  Supilo had already proposed this idea in his seven-point Promemoria to Sir Edward Grey on 30 September 1915, and it seemed particularly promising at the end of the War.
5) Trumbić’s most serious mistake lay in the fact that he and his collaborators had abandoned the cardinal idea that had been predominant throughout Croatian history — Croatian statehood.  This idea was formulated in a new version by Ante Starčević (1823-1896), a Croatian politician and a founder of the Party of Right (Stranka prava).
Its fundamental idea rested on Croatian State Right (Hrvatsko državno pravo), the concept that as an ancient people with their own political institutions, the Croatians have as much right as anybody else to create their own independent state, even though neighboring states had obstructed their ability to exercise that right.  The political goal of the Party of Right was an independent Croatia within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy.  Starčević’s political influence in the country was great and many considered him the “Otac Domovine” (Father of the Nation).
For many years, Trumbić was an ardent supporter of Starčević’s ideas.  However, some years before the outbreak of World War I, he began to move away from the idea of the Croatian State Right, in part because he could not find support in Vienna for the union of the provinces of Dalmatia and Istra with Croatia.  He therefore moved away from supporting the idea of the Croatian State Right to working for the ethnic principle (narodnosna idea) which does not necessarily include in itself the notion of statehood.
Trumbić subsequently sought to solve the Croatian Question within a “peoples’ union” (narodnosno jedinstvo), in which each of the three peoples — Croatians, Serbians, and Slovenians — would preserve its autonomy.  This was a radical departure from the older historical policy of the Croatian State Right, which had been jealously guarded throughout the centuries of Croatia’s long history. By deviating from Croatia’s  historical policy, Trumbić and his followers assumed responsibility for the results of their new political orientation — results that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths of both Croatians and Serbians barely two decades after this new course was adopted.
6) As far as the Serbian Volunteer Corps in Odessa was concerned, we noted already that the Serbian element was predominant. Marko Marković has confirmed this in his research.  According to his data, which is based on sources from Serbia’s Military Archives, on 15 April 1916 the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division numbered 9,904 volunteers in all.  There were 9,751 Serbs from the Dual Monarchy, 84 Croatians, 14 Slovenians, 25 Czechs, and 30 others.  However, Marković concealed the real causes for this disproportionate number of Serbs to non-Serbs.  Nor did he discuss the horrible treatment of Croatian prisoners of war by the Serbs.  Although the Serbs tried to force the Croatians to join the Corps through beatings and torture, many chose death rather than the Corps, as we have seen throughout the Interpellation.  The apparently lopsided proportion of Serbs to Croatians thus has an explanation.  Regarding the dissidents in the Corps of Volunteers, particularly after the March Revolution of 1917 and the fall of the Romanov dynasty, Marković only noted that there was a crisis in the Corps, and he puts crisis in quotation marks, as if the split had been a “family quarrel”.  For this and other reasons, Marković’s interpretation must be considered deliberately misleading, even if his data is technically correct.
7) Likewise, the hypothesis put forward by a Serbian Professor, Dragoslav Janković, that economic causes were the main reasons for the failure to recruit volunteers among American Croatians cannot stand up to objective criticism.  The Serbs in the U.S. who lived in the same country, at the same time, and under the same general circumstances as the Croatians, did favor the idea of the Volunteer Corps and responded by joining it. But the Croatians and the Slovenians in the U.S. refused to join, so that the answer must lie elsewhere.  It seems that there was great enthusiasm amongst the Croatians for their old Fatherland.  This can be seen best amongst the Croatians of South America.  The different political views and understanding and the different national consciousness of Croatians, on the one hand, and of the Serbs, on the other, gives us a key, not only to explain the failure to recruit volunteers from North America, but to other differences of attitude and action between these two nations which were formed under the influence of different factors.
None of the above changed Trumbić’s misguided political position.  The differences of understanding at crucial junctures between the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbian government continued, even though the Committee tied itself to Serbia.  These differences came to the fore soon after 1918.  The Serbs quickly took practically all the power in the new state, and the Croatians went into opposition and led a resolute fight against Serbian centralism and oppression and for their own independence and self-government.  Events therefore provided proof that Trumbić and the Yugoslav Committee had based their idealistic political concept on unrealistic assumptions regarding Serbia and Croatia.
Despite his mistakes, Trumbić was personally very honest, and so spent the last years of his life in relative poverty.  He was a great Croatian patriot, who loved the Croatian people.  This judgement was equally true for Ivan Meštrović.  Both men sincerely regretted the political failure and the blind idealism which had led them in the wrong direction.
8) The reports regarding Croatian prisoners of war in Russia reflect not only their loyalty to their Croatian Fatherland, but also their loyalty to their legitimate King and the Habsburg Monarchy.  Assuming they were representative of Croatians in general, we can conclude that it is not correct to say that the Croatian people as a whole hated Austria and for this reason wanted to destroy it.  If there was hostility, it was directed more toward Budapest than toward Vienna.  It is far from the truth that Croatians lived in the Habsburg Monarchy in slavery and for that reason brotherly Serbia had to liberate them.  This myth, which took deep root in the generations after 1918, was the result of systematic propaganda from Belgrade and was calculated to further Serb interests.  I had heard or read hundreds of times during my studies there about the so-called Serbian “liberation” of Croatia from Austrian “slavery.”  Of course, I am not arguing that everything was perfect in the Habsburg Monarchy.  Far from it.  But it was not “slavery” as Serbian propaganda claimed.  Order and stability reigned, and corruption was unknown.  The administration and judiciary had high standards and, in general, people were satisfied.
Odessa in 1917 , Part Two, Journal of Croatian Studies 38 (1997): 51-114.
106Not the same person as the Ante Pavelić, a lawyer, who led the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) (1941-45).
107In 1911, Zagreb had several daily newspapers: Hrvatska straža, Jugoslavenski Lloyd, Jutarnji list, Morgenblatt, Narodne novine, Novosti, Obzor, Večer. See Leksikon Minerva, priručnik za modernog čovjeka (Zagreb: 1936), p. 978.
108Source: Stenografski Zapisnici Sabora Kralj[evine] Hrvatske, Slavonije Dalmacije. [Stenographic Records of the Parliament of the King[dom] of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia] Petogodište 1913.-1918. [The Quinquennium 1913-1918] Od CC. do uključivo CCLVI. saborske sjednice od 10. prosinca 1917. do 29. listopada 1918. [From the CC to inclusive CCLVI Parliamentary Sessions of 10 December 1917 till 29 October 1918] (Nastavak petog ratnog zasjedanja). [Continuation of the Fifth War Session.] Vol. VI. (Zagreb: Tisak Zemaljske tiskare, 1917 [i.e., 1918]. The text of Interpellation: pp. 987-1006, is printed in two columns per page, each ca. 17 x 27 cm.
109That is, the Croatians from the provinces of Croatia under the authority of the Ban (Viceroy).
110Any of the councils elected by the workers and soldiers of a district in revolutionary Russia.
111The Mamertine Prison was where early Christian martyrs, including St. Peter, were jailed, and has become proverbial as a harsh prison.
112Milivoje Jambrišak, Deputy to the Croatian Parliament and a supporter of the Yugoslav idea, joined the Yugoslav Committee in 1916.
113100 kopecks equaled one ruble, the Russian monetary unit.
114Silovoljci, the opposite of dobrovoljci (volunteers), i.e., those who were coerced into volunteering.
115The Šokci (singular: Šokac] were Roman Catholic Croatians living in the territories of northern Bosnia, Slavonia (the territory between the Drava and Sava Rivers), and along Danube.
116Knuta is a lash with small balls of lead at the end; in tsarist Russia it was used for whipping.
117A reference to the famous Latin phrase, morituri te salutant (“We who are about to die, salute you”), attributed to gladiators who greeted the Roman Emperor Claudius before fighting in the Coliseum.
118Petar Zrinski (1621-71) a Croatian magnate and viceroy of Croatia (1665-70).  Dissatisfied with Austrian policy vis-à-vis Croatia and Hungary, he led a plot, together with leading Hungarian magnates, against King Leopold I.  The aim of the plot was to force the King to obey the Constitution or to replace him.  The plot lasted several years and in the end Zrinski was left alone together with his brother-in-law, Duke Franjo Krsto Frankopan (1567-71).  They tried to get help from the Turks.  The plot was uncovered.  Lured to Vienna, both of them were executed at Wiener Neustadt on 30 April 1671.  Their huge properties were later confiscated.  The Houses of Zrinski and Frankopan benevolently supported Croatian literature and art.  As a result of this tragedy, the most essential interests of Croatia were set back for many years.
119Tartarus in Greek myth, the abyss below Hades where Zeus confined the Titans.
120Ferdo Šišić: Dokumenti o postanku Kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca 1914-1919. (Zagreb: Naklada Matice Hrvatske, 1920), p. 94.
121Ivan Meštrović, Uspomene na političke Ijude i dogadjaje (Buenos Aires: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1961) p. 173. “I have told you,” said Masaryk, “that I do not believe things will go easily, but that it was necessary to begin with a confederation, with a dualism between Zagreb and Belgrade.” Elsewhere in the paper it was said that Krunoslav Heruc (Geruc) lived for thirty years in Russia before the downfall of the tsarist regime.  He declared himself a Croatian and was accepted as such.  He worked for the Russian secret police.  In 1915, he and Ivan Gaparić, another Croatian, established Križanić, a Russian-Croatian society in Moscow, with a pro-Frankist political program.  In the Spring of 1916, another society, Yugoslavia, was also established there.  Its political program sought the creation of a Yugoslav state, organized as a federation that would include Bulgaria.  However, the Bulgarians, knowing the Serbian outlook better than did the Croatians, decisively rejected this idea.

  1. Primary Sources
  2. Memoirs

3. Secondary Sources:

  1. A) Books
  2. B) Articles

1. Primary Sources
Gradja o stvaranju jugoslavenske države (1.1. – 20.XII. 1918).ed., Dragoslav Janković and Bogdan Krizman, (Belgrade, 1964). 2 Vols.
Lazarević, Branko. Jugoslavenski dokumenti; pregled narodnog pokreta u domovini i inostranstvu za vreme svetskog rata. (Zagreb: Naklada «Obnove» jugoslavenskog nakladnog D.D., 1919). 72 pp.
Mandić, Ante, ed. Fragmenti za historiju ujedinjenja. Povodom četrdeset-godišnjice osnivanja Jugoslavenskog odbora. (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1956). 262 pp.
Paulová, Milada. Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914. – 1918. (Zagreb: Izdala Prosvjetna nakladna zadruga, 1925). 603 pp.
Stenografski Zapisnici Sabora kralj[evine] Hrvatske, Slavonije i Dalmacije Petogodiste 1913.-1918. Od CC. do uključivo CCLVI. saborske sjednice od 10. prosinca 1917. do 29. listopada 1918. (Nastavak petog ratnog zasjedanja) Vol. VI. (Zagreb: Tisak Zemaljske tiskare,  1917 [i.e., 1918]
Šisić, Ferdo. Dokumenti o postanku kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca – 1914.-1919. (Zagreb: Naklada «Matice Hrvatske», 1920). 329 pp.
2. Memoirs
Lloyd George, David. War Memoirs of Lloyd George (Boston: Little Brown, 1963). Vols. 4 and 5.
Meštrović, Ivan. Uspomene na političke Ijude i dogadjaje. (Buenos Aires: Knjiinica Hrvatske Revije, 1961) 417 pp.
Potočnjak, Franko. Iz emigracije Vol. I. (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Il (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Ill (Zagreb: Tisak «Tipografija», 1926). Vol. IV (Zagreb . Tisak «Narodnih novina,» 1926).
Steed, Henry Wickham. Through Thirty Years. 1892-1922; A Personal Narrative. (London: William Heinemann, 1924) 2 Vols.
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Albrecht-Carrié, René. Italy at the Paris Peace Conference (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938). 575 pp.
Hanak, Harry. Great Britain and Austria-Hungary During the First World War: a Study in Formation of Public Opinion. (London: Oxford University Press, 1962).
Hancock, W. K. Smuts; the Sanguine Years 1870-1919. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1962).
Kapidžić, Hamdija. Bosna i Hercegovina pod austrougarskom upravom; članci i rasprave. (Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1968).
Kiszling, Rudolf. Die Kroaten; der Schicksalsweg eines Südslawenvolkes. (Graz-Köln: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1956).
Kruševac, Todor. Sarajevo pod austro-ugarskom upravom. 18781918. (Sarajevo: [Izdanje muzeja grada Sarajeva], 1963.
Lučonoša (pseud.). Hrvatsko pitanje i Londonski ugovor (Zagreb: Tisak “Tipografija”, 1937).
Mamatey, Victor S. The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918; a Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957).
Mandić, Dominik. Hrvati i Srbi dva stara različna naroda. (Munchen-Barcelona: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1971).
Mandić, Dominik. Hrvatske zemlje u prošlosti i sadašnjosti. (Rim: Izdanje Ranjeni labud, 1972).
Marjanović, Milan. Londonski ugovor iz 1915; prilog povijesti borbe za Jadran, 1914-1917. (Eds., Mijo Marković and Vaso Bogdanov) (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960).
Die nationale Abgrenzung im Süden; ein Beitrag zur Realisierung der Selbstbestimmung der Vôlker Oesterreich-Ungarns. (Zagreb: Kommission bei L. Hartmann ‘s Buchhandlung (St. Kugli)], 1917).
Petrinović, Ivo. Ante Trumbić; Politička shvaćanja i djelovanje. (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1986).
Pilar, Ivan. Južnoslavensko pitanje; prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja (Die südslavische Frage und der Weltkrieg; ubersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-Problems). L. V. Südland (pseud.). [Transl. Wien 1918, ed. by Fedor Pucek] (Zagreb: Izdanje Matice Hrvatske, 1943).
Seton-Watson, Robert William. The South Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy. (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969 [Reprint of 1911 ed.]).
Sforza, Carlo. Fifty Years of War and Diplomacy in the Balkans; Pašić and the Union of the Yugoslavs. (Trans., J. G. Clemanceau Le Clerq.) (New York: AMS Press, 1966, Reprint of 1940 ed.).
Smith-Pavelić, Ante. Dr. Ante Trumbić; problem hrvatsko-srpskih odnosa. (Munchen: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije. 1959.
Starčević, Ante. Izabrani spisi (ed., Blaz Jurišić) (Zagreb: Izdanje Hrvatskog Izdavačkog Bibliografskog Zavoda. 1943).
Šepić, Dragovan. Italija, Saveznici i Jugoslavensko pitanje, 1914-1918. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1970).
Šidak, Jaroslav. Povijest hrvatskog naroda g. 1860-1914. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1968).
Šišić, Ferdo. Pregled povijesti hrvatskog naroda. [Ed., Jaroslav Šidak] (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska. 1962).
Wexler, Robert J., ed. Woodrow Wilson. 1856-1924; Chronology, Documents, Bibliographic Aids. (Dobbs Ferry. N.Y.: Oceana Publications. 1969).

  1. B) Articles

Bastaić, Konstantin. “Hrvatski sabor i Jugoslavenski odbor,” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 259-367.
Beroš, Josip. “Stav carskog dvora prema sjedinjenju Dalmacije s Hrvatskom,” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1962) VIII (2), pp. 163-175.
Bogdanov, Vaso. “Historijski uzroci sukobu izrnedju Hrvata i Srba.” Rad (Zagreb: JAZU, 1957), Knjiga 7, pp. 353-477.)
Bogdanov, Vaso. “Problem rješenja hrvatskog pitanja izvan okvira Habsburške monarhije na početku Prvog svjetskog rata; prilog historiji oslobodjenja južnoslavenskih zemalja.” Rad (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), Knjiga 15, pp. 51-74.)
Bogdanov, Vaso. “Starčevićeva stranka prava prema oslobodjenju i ujedinjenju južnoslavenskih naroda u toku Prvog svjetskog rata,” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. [Ed., Vaso Bogdanov] (Zagreb: JAZU. 1966). pp. 27-163.
Bogičević, Vojislav. “Aneksija Bosne i Hercegovine i Jugoslavensko pitanje.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1959), V (4),. pp. 330-345.
Bratulić, Vjekoslav. “O suradnji Južnoslavenskih zastupnika Carevinskog  vijeća (1894-1900) i o problemu nacionalnosti u Austriji.” In Anali Jadranskog instituta. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1961), Vol. 3, pp. 5-68. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1961).
Ekmečić, Milorad. “Stavovi Nikole Pašića prema američkim planovima pretvaranja Austro-Ugarske u federativnu državu.” Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godisnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja jugoslavenske države. Zagreb. 27-28 prosinac 1968. godine (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969) pp. 159-171.
Gross, Mirjana, “Hrvatska politika u Bosni i Hercegovini od 1878-1914.” Historijski zbornik (1966/67). Vols. 19-20. pp. 9-68.
Janković, Dragoslav. “O odnosima Jugoslavenskog odbora sa srpskom vladom u 1916. Godini.” Historijski zbornik (Zagreb: Savez povjesnih društava Hrvatske, 1976-77). 29-30, pp. 455-467.
Košak, Vladimir, ”Prilozi za istoriju 1917. godine,” Historijski zbornik (Zagreb, 1957), 10 (1-4), pp. 131-136
Krizman, Bogdan. “Austrougarska diplomacija u danima raspadanja Dvojne monarhije 1918. godine.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1962) VIII, pp. 15-38.
Krleža, Miroslav. “Razgovor sa sjenom Frana Supila.” Deset krvavih godina i drugi politički eseji. (Zagreb: Zora, 1957), pp. 177-210.
Krleža, Miroslav. “Slom Frana Supila.” Deset krvavih godina i drugi politički eseji. (Zagreb: Zora, 1957), pp. 155-174.
Leontić, Ljubo. “Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu i Jugoslavenska omladina.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu: u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 243-258.
Leontić, Ljubo. “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu.” Starine (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), Knjiga 50, pp. 5-169.
Mandić, Dominik, “Herceg-Bosna i Hrvatska.” Hrvatska Revija (La Revista Croata), (Buenos Aires, 1963), XIII, (4), pp. 423-462.
Marković, Marko. “Udeo dobrovoljaca u oslobodilačkom ratu.” Misel in Delo. Kulturna i Socijalna revija (Ljubljana. 1938), No. 12, pp. 68-80.
Milutinović, Kosta. “R. W. Seton-Watson i Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu: u povodu 50godisnjice osnivanja (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 451-480.
Renzi, William A. “The Russian Foreign Office and Italy’s Entrance into the Great War, 1914-1915; A Study in Wartime Diplomacy.” Historian (August, 1966) XXVIII (4), pp. 648-668.
Stefanovic-Djačic, Zorka. “O ulozi naših iseljenika u Južnoj Americi za vrijeme Prvog svjetskog rata.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 521-538.
Šepić, Dragovan. “Politika rušenja Austro-Ugarske i Južni Slaveni.” Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godišnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja južnoslavenske države. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), pp. 109-119.
Šidak, Jaroslav. “Nacionalni problemi u habsburgškoj Monarhiji.” Historijski pregled (Zagreb, 1961), VII (2), pp. 111-128.
Tomašić, Dinko. “Ethnic Components of Croatian Nationhood.” Journal of Croatian Studies (New York, 1963) III-IV, pp. 3-18.
Trumbić, Ante. “Elaborat o hrvatskom pitanju.” Kritika (Zagreb, 1971), No. 18, pp. 402-416. (Reprint of Trumbić’s Elaborate of the Croatian Question, dated 3 November 1932).
Trumbić, Ante. “Nekoliko reči o Krfskoj deklaraciji.” Bulletin Jugoslave (l November 1917) No. 26. (Reprinted in: Ferdo Šišić, ed., Dokumenti o postanku kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, 1914-1919 (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska, 1920), pp. 307-311.
Tudjman, Franjo, “Jugoslavenski odbor i stvaranje zajedničke države južnoslavenskih naroda.” Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), pp. 369-449.


This work deals with the question of Croatian volunteers during World War I. The main part consists of an Interpellation which was submitted to the Croatian Sabor (Parliament) on 6 July 1918. Together with other documentation, it tells of Serbian misdeeds against those Croatian prisoners of war in Russia who were sent to Odessa in 1917. In a Conclusion I will add my own reflections.
In Croatian historiography from 1918 until the present, several cursory, fragmentary works have been published regarding the question of Croatian prisoners in Russia during World War I. However, the interpretations of this question in these works have contradicted the documentary material available. This is particularly true of the historiography published after World War II in Yugoslavia. The only exception is Milada Paulová’s work, Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914. – 1918. (The Yugoslav Committee; History of the Yugoslav Emigration during the World War 1914-1918), published in Zagreb 1925.
None of these works, including Paulová’s study, has dealt with the “Interpellation” which was submitted to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb on 6 July 1918, and which documents Serbian crimes perpetrated against the Croatian prisoners of war in Odessa during World War I. The Interpellation1 was not published in Yugoslavia under the monarchy (1918-1941) nor during the period of the Socialist regime (1945-1991).
We cannot know for certain why the interpellation was not published in other works. But to publish this document in its entirety in historical studies published in Yugoslavia after 1918 would have meant publicly accusing the Serbs of crimes committed against their fellow countrymen, and this could not be allowed in either Royalist or Socialist Yugoslavia. So, after more than 70 years, we are publishing it for the first time in the English language.
In order to better understand the Interpellation, we will begin with a documentary review of the question of Croatian volunteers, that is: those in Odessa, in Italy, and in North and South America during World War I. This work will be divided into two parts. Part one is composed of four units: (l) The Volunteers in Russia; (2) The Volunteers in South America; (3) The Volunteers in North America; (4) The Volunteers in Italy.
In Part One I shall discuss the views of Ante Trumbić, President of the Yugoslav Committee in London, and of Nikola Pašić, Minister President of the Serbian government-in-exile on Corfu. I will also try to explain the reasons for their opposing views on the question of volunteers. In Part Two I shall present the document of the Interpellation itself, with a short introduction. In the Conclusion, I shall add some reflections based on the documentary material.
In 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, a number of
South Slavs were in Italy, among them Ante Trumbić2 , a lawyer from Split, a town on the Croatian coast in Dalmatia, and Frano Supilo (1870-1917), a pre-war politician from near Dubrovnik.
Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962), a famous Croatian sculptor, was also in Italy, where he had exhibited his work in Venice. These three men became the leading figures on the Croatian side, as did Nikola Stojanović and Dušan Vasiljević on the Serbian side. They met in Florence between 22 and 25 November 1914 to discuss the formation of a Committee. The actual Committee was formed in Rome, but not officially announced until 30 April 19153 in Paris. Named the Yugoslav Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor), its headquarters was in London, presided over by Trumbić. However, the Entente Powers did not recognize the Yugoslav Committee as an official representative of the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians living the southern regions of the Dual Monarchy. In order to establish itself and be accepted as such, the Committee had to prove to the Entente Powers that it really represented and spoke for the South Slavs in the Dual Monarchy4.
It was therefore necessary to contact the leading politicians in the Slavic areas of the Dual Monarchy. But political activity was both difficult and dangerous for those residing in the country in wartime, owing to strict censorship and the risk of incarceration. In order to circumvent such difficulties, Ljubo Leontić submitted a formal proposal to the Yugoslav Committee during one of its sessions in Rome. He proposed mobilizing the large numbers of Slavic emigrants. To do so, it was necessary:
(a) To set up an organization of volunteers to be recruited from the prisoners of war from the Croatian and Slovenian countries, who had reluctantly fought in Russia and Serbia, and from among the “economic émigrés” of the Southern Slavs in North and South America;
(b) To carry out political organization among the Southern Slavs the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbs in North and South America5.
Leontić’s proposal to recruit volunteers from among the Slovene and Croat prisoners of war in Russia was potentially significant, because if the Committee could use the volunteers for political purposes, it would strengthen the position of the Croatians and Slovenes. Serbian politicians, including Nikola Pašić, President of the Serbian Government in exile, did everything possible to preclude this possibility, as we will see later. Thanks to Trumbić’s indecision and, in our opinion, a misguided strategy which Trumbić, Meštrović, and others bitterly regretted later, the Serbs achieved their goal.
Worried over Italian pretensions to the ethnically Croatian regions of Dalmatia and Istra, the Committee was inclined to organize volunteer-troops, composed predominantly of Croatian prisoners of war in Russia. According to Franko Potočnjak, who was an active organizer during the war,
It was known that there were several hundred thousand prisoners of war from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians, from whom some were taken as lege artis prisoners, who could be said to be real prisoners of war, while the others had surrendered voluntarily. From these elements it endeavored to create legions which would have the duty to liberate [the homeland]…6
At its meeting on 11 January 1915 in Rome, the Committee decided to form a military unit from those volunteers in Russia under the name of “The Adriatic Legion” (Jadranska legija).
The Legion was called “Adriatic” because our Adriatic Sea symbolizes a synthesis of the ideals of all Yugoslavs who live along its shores or long for it, and because of the fact that the Legion could eventually be deployed in our territories along the Adriatic Sea…. The Legion would in any case come under a command provided by the Serbian Government7.
In early 1915, the Committee announced its intention to form an Adriatic Legion in Rome. Although its main purpose was to defend Croatia’s coast against Italian aspirations, this was naturally, not mentioned. Instead, the Committee presented the legion as an organization that would fight against Austro-Hungarian oppression and help the Serbian Army. However, the chief aim of the Legion was evident from its name, and the sensitive Italian press quickly guessed its real purpose and reacted quite sharply to it. The role of those volunteer troops became of even more importance after the signing of the Treaty of London on 26 April 19158. Potočnjak later noted that the volunteer troops had to execute one great, eminent national role; all their powers had to be consecrated solely for our national cause, regardless of anybody, including the Allies. … When the war ends, it will be necessary to drive out the German and Hungarian [military] units from our territories … [this will be] our tribute for the sacrifice of liberty: shedding blood9.
For political reasons, the name Adriatic Legion was obviously inconvenient, so after several months the Committee changed it to the Yugoslav Legion (Jugoslavenska legija), a name which grouped together the Croatians, the Slovenians and the Serbs — the South Slav peoples living in the Dual Monarchy.
Since Trumbić and the Croatian émigrée cooperated closely with Nikola Pašić and the Serbian government-in-exile, it is important to know both Pašić’s opinion of the Legion — which was shared by other Serbian leaders — and that of Trumbić and the Croatians. In order to understand Pašić’s stubborn and negative attitude toward the creation of a Yugoslav Legion, it is necessary to keep in mind the events of late 1915. Before the autumn offensive by the Austrian, German and Bulgarian forces, the Serbian army comprised about 300,000 soldiers. After the offensive and the Serbian army’s retreat through Albania and its transfer to Salonica, the Serbs counted only 130,000 troops in April-May 1916, including 6,000 officers10. Even this figure may be high, since only 122,000 troops had reached Corfu earlier11. Moreover, thousands of volunteers were included as members of the regular Serbian Army. Thus, the real number of Serbian troops was clearly less than the number claimed.
In order to replenish the ranks of the Serbian army, which had been reduced to less than half of its previous size, the Serbian Government-in-exile had two sources at its disposal: (l) volunteers from Slavic prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary in Russia, or (2) Croatian, Serbian, and Slovenian volunteers from among those who had emigrated in previous years to North and South America. A third possibility — to recruit refugees from Serbia, Montenegro, and the Croatian and Slovenian regions of the Dual Monarchy — did not seem very promising.
The Serbian Government sought to replenish the ranks of its army with volunteers from Russia and from North and South America by incorporating them anonymously. It simultaneously tried to prevent the Yugoslav Committee from creating a separate military force, which eventually could escape the control of the Serbian government and be used to secure Croatian interests, particularly along the Adriatic Sea. Eventually, such an independent force might even come into direct conflict with Serbian military forces, particularly if these volunteer-troops could be united with regular Croatian military forces in their own country after the dismemberment of the Habsburg Monarchy. These are the keys to understanding the attitude of Pašić, the Serbian Government, and the pro-Serbian politicians from the Dual Monarchy who were members of the Committee.
In short, the Serbian Government did not tolerate the idea of forming autonomous units of volunteers, because doing so did not serve Serbia’s interests. As Ante Mandić observed:
Persistently maintaining until the end of the war the attitude that Serbia was the only factor “which liberates,” it [the Serbian Government] jealously preserved the Serbian character of the Army and of all its actions. Even though its organs, when necessary, readily used phrases about Yugoslavism in its propaganda to recruit for the [Volunteer] Corps, [even then] the Serbian Government asked that the Army remain Serbian and exclusively Serbian in name as well as in reality, while the officers were asked “to imbue the volunteers with sound Serbian spirit”‘ and to inspire them for the Serbian cause…. the Serbian Government became afraid of the republican and federalist currents… (and) did not want to permit the formation of one large unit which later on ‒ under specific conditions ‒ might serve as a supporting base to the federalists as an army that could eventually escape its control12.
According to Trumbić and the Croatian wing of the Committee, the real purpose of the Adriatic Legion was to defend the Croatian Adriatic coast from the Italians. This goal also conflicted with Pasić’s political conception, because he constantly sought a separate agreement between Italy and Serbia; of course, to the detriment of the vital interests of Croatia.
The Adriatic Legion was objectionable to Pašić personally and [also] to the Radical [Party] majority in the government, and only for this reason did they constantly think about a treaty with Italy13.
We also can see clearly the same idea in Pašić’s statement to the Russian press, on the occasion of his visit to Petrograd, in the spring of 1916. His remarks drove a wedge between the Committee and the Serbian government, because, according to Novoe Vremya, a newspaper close to the Russian government and Court, Pašić had said that:
In Rome they are so convinced of the need to uphold the general interests of the Serbian and the Italian peoples, that the Government will certainly find a solution which will satisfy the Serbians. We will, of course, give Italy guarantees for its vital interests in the Adriatic Sea. What interests in the Adriatic Sea are necessary to Italy so that this guarantee can be realized, we will discuss later.14 (Emphasis added)
In other words, Pašić was ready to barter Croatia’s Adriatic coast to Italy for the purpose of acquiring and guarding Serbian interests. Of course, the Italian press warmly embraced the Serbian leader’s statement. Il Giornale d’Italia wrote: “The Serbian Minister-President accepts Italian hegemony in the Adriatic Sea15.
Such news from Italy caused great nervousness among some émigrés, increasing suspicions by some members of the Yugoslav Committee, especially by Frano Supilo, regarding whether Serbian politicians were sincere about the union of Croatia and Serbia as equals. The cause of this doubt was, as Supilo complained, “Serbian Orthodox exclusivism.” He seriously doubted the sincerity of the “Yugoslav program” and the intentions of the Serbian government and its Prime Minister. There were heated debates and reciprocal attacks within the Committee, particularly between the Croatian Supilo and the Serbians. The result was the resignation of Supilo from the Committee on 5 June 1916. After a long debate, Trumbić came to the conclusion that the Italian newspaper “tendentiously falsified” Pašić’s declaration in Petrograd, and so he shelved this crucial question.
Unlike Supilo, Trumbić failed to draw the necessary conclusions from Pašić’s declaration and the Serbian attitude vis-á-vis Croatia in general. This was the first, and fatal, psychological defeat of Trumbić by Pašić. In effect, Trumbić was trying to do the impossible ‒ to harmoniously unite two essentially different and opposing political conceptions. His attempt to realize a union of Croatia and Serbia as equals did not work then, and has not worked since.
Left alone, Supilo did as much as he could. He consistently and decisively maintained the seven points in his Promemoria, which he submitted to Sir Edward Grey on 30 September 191516. These points, summarized below, still have their importance:
If it is not possible to realize a common state in which Croatia and Zagreb will occupy an equal and comparable position to Serbia and Belgrade, and if Serbia would not be able to reform itself [that is, to reject its “Orthodox exclusivism”], then one has to work to assemble all the Croatian areas and unite them with Croatia proper, and a political union of all the Southern Slavs should be postponed until better times.
This view was shared and supported, particularly by Ivo de Giulli, a Croatian member of the Committee. In the summer of 1916, he gave the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs a Memorandum about the Croatian Question. De Giulli also sent a letter to Pašić, in which he resolutely defended Supilo and his political concept. But the Serbian members of the Committee, Vasiljević and Stojanovié, were decisively against Supilo, as were the Serbian government and Pašić. A year later, when Supilo died, there was no Croatian politician living abroad who could seriously challenge the exclusivist policies pursued by the Serbian government and Serbian leaders.
Even so, Pašić could oppose the Committee’s policy on the Adriatic Question only to a point. He had to support the Adriatic Question pro forma, as he noted on the back of a telegram to the Serbian Ambassador in Paris, Milenko Vesnić, dated 7 September 191617. Vesnić had advised “that all our people… abstain from giving statements about Italy’s posture toward us…18” However, when the time came to settle the question of the formation of the Adriatic Legion, Pašić defended Serbian interests to the detriment of the vital interests of the Croatian people.
Like Pašić, the Serbian Government and Serbian military authorities stubbornly stood by the idea that the volunteers had to be enlisted anonymously with the Serbian troops, and “. . .opposed the creation of such a separate [military] unit19.
Opposing conceptions of how the Legion was to be organized created tensions and difficulties between the Serbian government and the Committee that caused the postponement of the organization of the Yugoslav Legion. The Committee wanted a separate corps incorporated into the Serbian army. In the meantime, after their arrival from South America and from Russia, many volunteers were simply absorbed into existing Serbian units. As a result, “the number of volunteers who
actually fought in the Serbian army remains unknown.”20 At its meeting of 11 January 1915, the Committee decided to send Franko Potočnjak to Russia after he ended his mission in the United States. His main purpose was by “action and propaganda” to win over “influential Russian circles to our people’s cause.”21 His duty became even more important, because Supilo’s private mission there had failed.
Before going to Petrograd in the spring of 1916, Potočnjak interested himself in Supilo’s earlier actions in Russia. “I was told that he [Supilo] was met with suspicion, which contributed significantly to his… more than once visiting the Italian Consulate…”22
In mid-July 1915, after Franko Potočnjak’s departure for Russia, the Committee entrusted Ante Mandić, who had been in Russia since the beginning of the war, to open a branch-office of the Committee in Petrograd and to create a Volunteer Legion. Mandié began to work in this sense and when he arrived at the Serbian Embassy in Petrograd, he found “over 20,000, mostly very touching … letters and requests from prisoners-of-war…” who asked for help from the Serbian Ambassador.23 Mandić sent about 5,000 of those prisoners-of-war who had designated themselves as volunteers to Serbia, usually through Rumania, leaving to the Jugoslavenski Odbor and the Serbian Government the task of organizing a legion, as they wished, in Serbia. This work was continued until the autumn of 1915 when Serbia ‒ attacked by all sides ‒ underwent the collapse which [then] … cut off also the connections across the Danube and impeded the continued sending of volunteers.24
As noted earlier, in Serbia the volunteers were simply absorbed into the Serbian Army at the same time that the Serbian Government was postponing negotiations with the Committee in regard to the Adriatic Legion and negotiating with the Russian Government through Miroslav Spalajković, the Serbian Ambassador in Russia from 1913 to 1918, regarding the formation of military units in Russia using Slavic prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary. It was eventually decided to create an organization of volunteers in Odessa, so a Serbian consulate was established in the Ukrainian city. The Russian Supreme Command decreed that, from then on, all Croatian, Slovene, and Serbian officers and soldiers, prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary, who reported themselves ready to volunteer were to be sent to Odessa, the largest Black Sea port, where the Serbian consul, Marko Cemović, would oversee the national-political organization of this corps.
The military command was conferred on a Serbian Major, Z. Pejović.25 The Volunteer Corps also carried a Serbian name, “The Serbian Volunteers Corps,” which caused misunderstandings, repulsion, and opposition, particularly among the Croatian element.
The Russian Command began to send all prisoners of war from the South of the Dual Monarchy to Odessa, regardless of whether or not they were volunteers:
In about two months 19,700 soldiers had been collected… there, for whom neither the necessary accommodations, nor food, nor clothing, nor officer cadre were ready, in general nothing.26
More detailed data comes from Marko Marković, a Serb from Sarajevo who had access to the Archives of the Ministry of Defense of Serbia. He published his work in a Slovenian review, Misel in Delo in Ljubljana in 1938. There, he provided the following data:
…More and more volunteers were coming. At this time about 200 per day were arriving on average. On 15 March [1916] there were 181 officers and 5,365 volunteers and on 1 April 263 [officers] and 6,312 [troops]. On 19 April, the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division was constituted with soldiers for two regiments, and officers for all four regiments. On 15 April, the Division counted 9,904 volunteers (3,812 from Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2,065 from Croatia and Slovenia; 3,778 from Vojvodina; 171 from Serbia; 78 from the rest of the regions; according to nationality, 9,751 Serbs [from the Dual Monarchy]; 84 Croatians; 14 Slovenians; 25 Czechs; 30 others. Fifteen days later there were [already] 12,563 volunteers (4,997 [from Bosnia and Herzegovina]; 2,272 [from Croatia and Slovenia]; 4,977 (from Voj[vodina]; 200 from Serbia; and 117 others. On 31 May the Division had 404 [officers] and 13,075 [soldiers], and on 13 June [1916] there were 451 officers and 14,412 soldiers.27
As we can see from the above statistics, among the soldiers the Serbian element was absolutely predominant: 9,751 (15 April 1916) against 84 Croatians and 14 Slovenians. However, Croatian and Slovenian officers (137) exceeded the number of Serbian officers (116); in addition there were 36 Czech officers and a few others.28 Potočnjak saw the reason for the weak response of Croatian and Slovenian soldiers as due to the fact that the traditions and religion of the lower social strata predisposed them to reject the Yugoslav idea and union with Orthodox Serbia, which was something strange to them. The people, said Potočnjak, wanted a union of the South Slavs but within the framework of the old Monarchy. In other words, they saw their personal and national interests best secured within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy restructured on trialist or perhaps federalist principles. Under the circumstances, these solutions were probably both sound and realistic. However, the more educated circles looked at the national and political question from a different position. The officers of the “Volunteer Corps” saw in the Yugoslav idea a union of equals with Serbia.
The prisoners of war were sent to Odessa without much trouble. There, a selection was made from among them and those rejected — often Hungarian or German soldiers — were sent back. But this selection was made very superficially. According to Potočnjak:
. . . many of our people extradited to the [Serbian] consul in Odessa said that they had not volunteered, but had been forced to go to Odessa [while] wanting to remain faithful to their tsar [Franz Joseph] and preferred [rather] to return to Siberia.29
Commenting on these cases, Potočnjak concluded that they were “clear proof that we were not yet nationally and politically mature for the work we undertook.”30
Calling the “Volunteer Corps” in Odessa “Serbian” was completely at odds with the wishes of the Yugoslav Committee. The name also rankled the Croatian and Slovenian officers, who concluded that, because of its composition of three nations as an entity, the Corps should be called “Yugoslav”. This [however] was not approved nor accepted . . .31
In 1920, Marko Cemović wrote that “this idea among Serbian circles was seen as heretical.”32 So, from its inception, the Serbian Volunteer Corps in Odessa was beset by disharmony, hatred, and dissension:
When there was something trustworthy to say in a separate group or cluster, it was asked: is there any Croatian, Slovenian, or Serb present — as occasion serves — depending on those who wanted to talk and to come to an understanding.33
In April 1916, a group of Serbian officers, led by Colonel Stevan Hadžić, arrived from Corfu, where the Serbian Government had established its headquarters after its defeat by the Central Powers. Conditions in the Corps now became much worse. For instance, the Serbian officers from Corfu received a war-allowance of 8 rubles per day, while the Croatian and Slovenian volunteer-officers only got 2 1/2, effectively putting them into a lower category vis-á-vis the Serbian officers from Corfu; they were also not treated equally in comparison with the Serbian officers in the leading of operational units. But the Serbian officers evidently did not grasp the fact “that the Corps was a political formation with a military organization, that the political idea bore it and determined its aim and purpose, and that the military organization was only instrumental to that.”34
Potočnjak believed that the Serbian officers viewed the idea of national union from an exclusive Serbian point of view. “From here [germinates] a disgust for the names Yugoslav, Croatian, and Slovenian, and threats that anyone who would speak about such things would be eaten by the darkness, or simply “shot down.”35
According to Mandić, the Russian Government did not wish a union of Catholic Croatians and Slovenians with Orthodox Serbians. “The Russian Government,” he wrote, “skillfully used this hostile atmosphere to try to provoke a clash in the Volunteers Corps among the Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians … [over]… the idea of a federation between Croatians, Slovenians, Czechs, Hungarians… to prevent … the union of the Catholic Yugoslavs with [Orthodox] Serbia.”36
Conditions in tsarist Russia and in the Serbian Volunteer Corps were abominable by 1915, according to a report of October 1915 from Petrograd, sent by Mandić to the Committee in London. He warned that morale was low in Odessa:
…From our prisoners of war I am receiving most unpleasant news; some of them wrote me, the others let me know all kinds of things orally. All of them complain, complain, and complain [about] food, “lodging,” mistreatment, disorder, and hardships to which they are exposed for no reason… I know for certain that these complaints are not at all exaggerated… and the worst thing is that one can do absolutely nothing about them. [Russian] Headquarters is principally well inclined towards the Slavs and is helping them on the paper and does all that is possible; it does that honestly. However, the bureaucratic execution of the Headquarters’ orders, accustomed neglect and disloyalty, and the usual abuses on the side of the lower offices corrupt all… [The Russians], in consequence of their inborn laziness and inflexibility, quietly endure all these and do not show any compassion and pity, as they do not even have compassion for their own countrymen. …
Mandić considered living conditions uncomfortable and unhealthy:
It is necessary to mention that our [prisoners of war] suffer horribly from the cold… Living in shacks and stables where wind blows through the walls and rain comes through the roof…, dressed in those worn-out and shabby rags in which they were captured… half of them will die from this kind of life or because of it.…
So he urged immediate and drastic measures, including evacuation of the volunteers:
Because of this spiritual and moral misery, one cannot do anything here. The Russians are not in a position to understand the great misery of either our or their people, and even if they could understand it they would not do anything about it.… According to my understanding, two things should be done: first, collect some money in Europe and America and buy some coats and woolens and distribute them among the prisoners of war … You live among the people, try to collect some things… But one should do so carefully and not wound… Russian pride, otherwise ours would be even worse off. Second, one should take radical measures and, if possible, begin transportation of these unfortunates out of Russia, through Archangel… the Russians there would not make difficulties….
Acting to help the volunteers seemed urgent, owing to deteriorating conditions in Russia:
About the situation in Russia, I cannot tell you anything comforting: the state of affairs is becoming more and more difficult… It is beyond comprehension what is happening here. On the one hand, stocks of grain from last year still lie untouched in storehouses in this country which is famous for its wealth of forests and flocks, … on the other hand, there exist prohibitive prices and scarcity of grain, of flour, of sugar, of fuel, of fat and other basic commodities, so that the people have to wait for hours on the street… while huge quantities of these articles have lain unloaded in wagons at railway-stations in all larger cities since December 1914… About ten days ago or more, there was a strike in Moscow, which was suppressed in blood….
Mandić despaired of improvement, owing to a Russian society that was both selfish and obsequious:
Russian society had shown that it was rotten down to its roots, and poisonous, that it had neither honesty nor patriotism. Even the best individuals, who were independent and did not cringe before governmental authorities, became satraps and beasts of prey as soon as they came to power. These were people without any energy, without self-consciousness and pride, who lacked, in spite of all their Greek Orthodoxy, any ethical core. The only thing for which they were striving was to become by all means rich under any circumstances and with the least effort. The late Durnovo was right in saying, that one could only govern them with brutal absolutism….
Nor did Mandić see much hope, since he did not think the Russians were aware of how low they had sunk:
They stubbornly keep their traditions about the greatness of the State and the moral force of the Russian people, being protectors of the Slavs and of European culture and with this fiction they cover the reality of which they are really afraid…. This uncritical approach and the fear of the truth, which they cover with thundering phrases, does not only dominate the intelligentsia in the widest (Russian) sense, but all foreign policy is also based on it as well as the interior life of Russia. One cannot make them aware of the situation….
The best Mandić could imagine was to await better times, while striving to help those in Odessa:
Here we do not propagate our cause; Russia is now preoccupied with strategy and internal disorder and for this reason nobody would listen to us or read [our publications]. We are waiting for a better moment.37
This was the situation that greeted Franko Potočnjak when he arrived in Russia. Potočnjak arrived in Petrograd just before Easter 1916. Spalajković, the Serbian Ambassador in Russia (1913-1918), informed him about the situation there and about “our situation” in particular. He requested an audience for Potočnjak with Sazonov, but due to the Easter holidays, it was necessary to wait several days. In the meantime Mandić received a letter from Odessa written by Gjuro Kolumbatović, who described the terrible situation of the Serbian Corps there, a situation which was “extremely serious” and in serious danger of disintegration. Kolumbatović urged “somebody from the Yugoslav Committee come here at once and bring the situation under control.”38
So Spalajković, Mandić, and Potočnjak agreed that the audience with Sazonov should be postponed and that Potočnjak should promptly go to Odessa to try to settle the chaotic situation there. Mandić sent Trumbić Kolumbatović’s letter, together with earlier ones in order that the members of the Committee might better grasp the situation in Russia regarding the question of volunteers.
On his arrival in Odessa, Potočnjak saw that “the conditions in the Corps… were worse than I could imagine.”39 The problem went beyond the name of the Corps to fundamental differences over the intent of the formation:
The name Serb… designates one part of our people as do the names Croatian, … and Slovenian…. None of these names designates the whole people. And the [Serbian] Corps forms neither a part of it, nor forms a Serbian part alone. It [the Corps] has to include all three together: the Serbs, the Croatians, and the Slovenians…seek(ing) the common goal and power to create a common, united, consolidated, and liberated homeland…. Unfortunately such reasoning was not considered acceptable… but as an opposition to Serbian nationhood. Those who led the Corps, including several Serbian officers, … were one-sided and unable to understand the ideas which directed those who began the movement for the Legion and those [also] who responded to it. They still agreed completely with the Serbian exclusivism and looked with an evil eye upon all who merely dared to question the name of the [Serbian] Corps.40
In order to correct this situation, Potočnjak started to publish a paper known as the Slavic South (Slovenski Jug). Its purpose was to inform “the scattered brothers throughout all the Russian country” about political and military affairs, and to bring news from the homeland. The financial expenses were born by the Committee in London Had it not been able to pay them in full, Potočnjak had arranged with Pašić for the Serbian government to do so instead.”41
Pašić and the heir presumptive, Alexander, were both informed in writing of the whole situation concerning the tensions in the Corps in Odessa. Besides the “inner factors,” there was also an “outside influence” which affected the Corps’ situation. Such was the case, for example, of Krunoslav Heruc (or Geruc). Heruc who had lived in Russia for thirty years, presented himself as a Croatian representative and as such was accepted in Russian circles. Heruc also had connections with the Russian secret police. He and Ivan Gaparić established the Russian-Croatian Society, “Križanić,” in Moscow in 1915 which was pro-Frankist42, while the Yugoslavia Society — established in the spring of 1916 — followed the concept of the settlement of Yugoslavia upon a federalist principle that included Bulgarians among the South Slavs.
Heruc, who was in contact with the Russian authorities, worked to establish a separate Russian-Croatian Corps, similar to the Russian Czech Corps, but against the union of the Croatians and Slovenians with Serbia.43 Heruc had his people in the Serbian Corps in Odessa, whose work among the already highly dissatisfied Croatian and Slovenian officers contributed even more to aggravate the situation there. Only by the intervention of Potočnjak, Mandić, and Spalajković was Heruc’s influence on the Corps lessened.
As more and more volunteers arrived in Odessa, the Russian Supreme Military Command, by its decree of 10 October 1916 officially formed the Serbian Volunteer Corps (Srpski dobrovoljački korpus), which was split into two divisions — the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division (Prva srpska dobrovoljačka divizija) and the 2nd Serbian Volunteer Division (Druga srpska dobrovoljačka divizija). In September 1916, command of the Corps passed from the Serbian Colonel Hadžić, to General of the Serbian Army Mihajlo Živković. All administrative work was taken over by the 1st Division, apart from some troops who continued to use the name of the Serbian Corps. The 2nd Division still had to be completed.
When Rumania entered the war on the side of the Entente Powers in the autumn of 1916, the 1st Volunteer Division was hastily sent to Dobrudja to stop the Bulgarian advance. The plan of the Division was, in the event of success, to cross over the Danube and join the Serbian Army. The men fought well and their courage and persistence earned them an honored name. According to Mandić, the Division started the battle with 18,510 soldiers and received some 4,500 reinforcements during combat. The Division fought in the center with 30,000 Russians on its left, and five Rumanian divisions on its right.44 The battle lasted from 24 August until 12 October 1916. The Division succeeded in breaking down the Bulgarian-Turkish center, in capturing four batteries, and in seizing a considerable amount of military and war material. Its casualties were high: 42 officers dead and 208 wounded; 2,039 soldiers dead and missing, and another 6,047 wounded. According to the Bulgarian generals, Toshev and Kantardzhiev, their forces had lost 14,800 soldiers and officers. According to Paulova, the 1st Division’s losses were as follows: 32 of 500 volunteer officers (15 Serbs, 8 Croatians, 7 Czech, and 2 Slovenians), and seven regular officers from Serbia. Three hundred officers were wounded.45
The volunteer rank and file lost 1,939 men (l,810 Serbs, 41 Slovenians, 32 Croatians, 27 Russians, 26 Czechs, and 2 others), with 8,000 wounded. Tsar Nicholas was so satisfied with their performance that he ordered the immediate completion of the Second Division.46 But no one cared very much about the welfare of either the wounded or the Corps in general. Fifteen days after the battle, Mandić visited Odessa, where he found the wounded
…muddy, wounded, neglected; the officers lay in their bloody shirts, without dressings, without underwear, their clothes unchanged, without a penny in their pocket. They lay waiting… for the English lazarets, and… for their pay — from July [of 1916] onwards; and then to be transported into the interior of Russia, and — la commedia è finita! Nobody thinks any more about them, nobody cares about them…47
On 1 October 1916 the Serbians began a forced mobilization among the prisoners of war in the Odessa region. By the end of the month about 20,000 “volunteers” had been transported to Odessa, among them: 9,000 Croatians, 7,000 Serbs, and 4,000 Slovenians, most of whom “were included in the Legion against their will.”48 These volunteers completed the 2nd Division. Evidently, the forced mobilization was carried out by the Serbian captain Majstorović against the wish of the Russian authorities who wanted to select only those willing to volunteer and respect the wish of the prisoners-of-war, particularly the Croatians of the Roman Catholic faith, but apparently not of the Islamic faith. The Serbs informed the Russian authorities that the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina were apostates from the “ancestral Orthodox faith” and argued that it was necessary to return them to the Orthodox faith. This meant either extinction or acceptance of Orthodoxy, the same policy that the Serbs had carried out in Serbia and in Montenegro against the Muslims there during the time of the Vladika (Bishop), known as the istrebljenje poturica (extinction of the semi-Turks).
These volunteers filled out the 2nd Division, but their treatment was brutal. Those soldiers who did not want to wear uniforms were starved, cudgeled, and beaten with gun stocks. Their fingers were broken in doors, their heads forced into toilets, suffocating them. The result was a rebellion on 23 October 1916, that left 13 dead and 18 wounded.49 Some troops, as they fled the Corps, even shouted, “Long live Franz Joseph.” (Živio Franjo Josip!)50 By 20 November 1916, 44% had left the 2nd Division: 3,000 had deserted and 6,000 had been returned to Russian captivity. Of some 20,000 soldiers forming this Division, only 11,169 men remained.51 This massive desertion led General Živković to send a proposal to the Serbian government on 17 December 1916 declaring that the hated “Serbian name” of the Corps should be abolished among the Croatian and Slovenian deserters, and replaced by the name Yugoslav Volunteer Corps.52
However, apprehensive that the 2nd Division would be misused, as had the 1st, Potočnjak had already sent a letter on 1 December 1916 to Alexander, cautioning that:
The 1st Division of the Serbian Corps is completely broken, it can be said it barely exists. There is also a danger that the 2nd Division, just formed but not yet trained and not at all ready, could have been used in the same way and the same results reached. The wounded are greatly embittered [and] among the volunteer officers and soldiers [there is] a general discontent because they have been employed in the previous battles which did not solve [our] problem [and] on foreign territory; since they were gathered and responded to the call to fight for their national ideals and [national] interests for which they are still and always ready to sacrifice everything… [There exists] general discontent, bitterness, and revolt against the command of the 1st Division. It is extremely urgent to take steps which, possibly, will correct the first and prevent the second….53
When Potočnjak came back from Russia, he went to Corfu where he reported orally on the situation concerning the volunteers in Odessa and also in writing, giving the notes in person to Alexander on 30 May 1916. In his report, he noted the bad treatment meted out by the Serbian officers, particularly to the Croatian and Slovenian volunteers. He also reported that the Serbian officers beat them with “the kourbash, fists, and kicking, “cursing [their] father and mother,” and calling them a “herd of cattle,” and “Austrian swine.” 54Such atrocious mistreatment and torture of Croatian (and Slovenian) prisoners of war in Odessa over differences regarding the political purpose of the Corps, was a bad sign and boded ill for future relations between Croatians and Serbians.
Lest it appear that Mandić and Potočnjak exaggerated the mistreatment of the “volunteers” by the Serbian officers, we offer an opinion by Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962), the well-known Croatian sculptor, who was also actively involved in politics and was a founding member of the Yugoslav Committee in London. Here is what he had to say about the Bosnian Croatians of Islamic faith who were deported to Odessa:
The Second Corps was soon formed… For this Corps the Serbian flag was also ordered, for [they say] there is no other flag. The selection was strange. The Russians were of the opinion that only those who wished to fight should be separated and they particularly insisted on this for the Croatians who were put apart, asking each one who each one was. The Serbs were asked: “Which of the Serbs are Greek-Orthodox?” and those who reported themselves as such were at once set apart and registered as volunteers. The Croatians were asked whether they wished to join the Legion or not. For the Bosnians another procedure was used. The Catholics were set apart and the rest were asked: “Are you Bosnians?” if so, then all should be volunteers. When; the Muslims started to protest that they were not Serbs, they were separated and “in a special way persuaded.” What kind of persuasion this was, a certain Semez, a Greek Orthodox from Bosnia, to whom this “mission for Bosnians” was entrusted, told me one month later. ‘Each “Turk” who did not agree (and there were few of the uneducated who did agree), was beheaded and the others, when they saw them, said ‘so help me God’ (Boga mi), they then agreed….55
In the meantime, Russia was experiencing great internal changes. In March 1917, the Tsar abdicated and a provisional government was established, headed by Prince Lvov (1861-1925). The Foreign Office now came under the control of Professor Miliukov, who favored the idea of “Yugoslav union.” In those stormy days the spreading of liberal ideas also reached the Volunteer Corps in Odessa. Throughout these events a large group of officers, almost exclusively Croatians and Slovenians, expressed their wishes to the Command of the Corps. They asked that:56
l) the name of the Corps — “The Serbian Volunteer Corps”… be changed to the “Yugoslav Volunteer Corps;”
2) the political and juridical constitution of the future common state organization… be defined precisely in advance, based upon the federal principle of equality;
3) the Volunteer Corps… be preserved for the purpose for which it was created, namely, the liberation of the homeland;
4) the juridical and material status of the volunteer officers and soldiers… be clearly defined;
5) among the Corps’ command a special elected committee… be formed, composed of the volunteer officers and chosen from amongst them, which — like those in Russian military units — would work together with General Živković and take care of the political, juridical, and agitational side of the Corps’ work, that is, the formation of a “political commissariat.
The same group of officers forwarded a declaration to the Russian authorities, in which they declared that they wanted:
… Yugoslavia based upon the principle of democracy and equality for all three nations. We consider any other platform for our union impossible and harmful for each of the three nationalities…. A federation of the Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian countries — after the pattern of Switzerland or the United States of America — can only be realized through a strict conduct of the principle of equality. Our ideal, thus, is: a federative Yugoslavia… that…will be… an element of peace in the Balkans…. We wish for liberty and union so that our unhappy and exhausted nations can devote all their capacities, in a peaceful common life, to work for the promotion of material and spiritual cultures…. The “Greater Serbian” idea is not suitable to the Serbian people and is a product of fantasies and a state of mind of the military group which desires an armed clash in the Balkans and which, in the name of democratization, forced all Yugoslavs to serve the idol of crude power. “Greater Serbia” is opposed to our ideal of work and peaceful development; it signifies parasitism which is linked to expansionism, and is an external threat to all its neighbors.”57 (Emphasis added.)
In its reply to the demands of the Croatian and Slovenian officers to the Command of the Corps, the Serbian government accepted the requests regarding salaries and the status of volunteer officers, but it remained obdurate in its opposition to adding “Yugoslav” to the Corps’ name. However, it did rename the Corps, the “Volunteer Corps of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes” (Dobrovoljački korpus Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca). Other problems remained completely unsolved, and even the change of name was more of a tactical ploy than a real change of spirit. All other demands were rejected or ignored. Pašić and Serbia’s government-in-exile continued to reject the idea that the Volunteer Corps was a political formation with a military organization, and that its main purpose was the liberation of the Fatherland.
The Serbian Government also did not want to commit itself to a federal political and juridical arrangement of any future South Slav state. In other words, the Serbian government retained its exclusive and limited view.
Given the negative response of the Serbian government to demands for change, a group of volunteer officers sent a memorandum to the Russian Military Command in which they requested their integration into the regular Russian Army, stating why they had joined the Corps and why they wanted to leave it. Because of its importance in describing the officers’ state of mind and the Serbian attitude, we cite the main parts of this Memorandum to Velihov, from the Slovenski Jug (The Slavic South) issue of 1 June 1917, No. 17.
Odessa, 7 April/ 25 March 1917
Memorandum of the conditions in the [Volunteers] Corps.
The undersigned officers of the “Serbian Volunteer Corps,” we have the honor to present to you the following
[Our desire for] the liberation and union of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians in one independent state, in which each would enjoy complete equality in every aspect, attracted us to the “Serbian Volunteer Corps.” We have not and will not recognize any hegemony or supremacy of one nation over another,… No Greater Serbia, no Greater Croatia, no Greater Slovenia. Our ideal was and will remain a federative Yugoslavia. From the very beginning of the existence of the volunteer troops, we have endeavored to conduct our political program through [it], as the only possible and justifiable basis in order that the three hitherto separate nationalities come closer together in the geographical, political, cultural, religious, and historical fields. Our endeavors have been futile. Deceived from the beginning with various promises, we are finally convinced that we do not serve our ideal but the imperialistic and conquering aims of Serbian megalomania.
This is the primary reason why we cannot stay any longer in the Serbian Volunteer Corps. This megalomania did not stay in the framework of differences of ideology and principle; it has also been reflected in the hostile attitudes toward us and our soldiers, and it has assumed concrete forms of animosity,… tyrannies and crimes have been committed: robberies, beatings, tortures, even killings, the perpetrators of which have remained unpunished…. With regard to us, the volunteer-officers, our stay in the Corps is filled with humiliation and insults from the side of the so-called “proper Serbs”, that is, the officers who came from Serbia. All these [facts] led to…crises in the Corps….[Therefore] we have come to the conclusion that it is better that we shed blood… in the ranks of the Great Russian Army for Russian liberty — which we consider as a guarantee for our liberty — and for the just, rather than for the new enslavement of our people and the unjust. For this reason, we request our transfer to Russian service… [and ask] that proper measures be undertaken [to see] whether they are [really] volunteers of the Serbian Volunteer Corps or not….58
During the months of March and April 1917 the dissident process was in full swing. Once again it seemed that the Corps might disintegrate. So General Živković asked Mandić and Jambrišak, both members of the Committee in London, to come from St. Petersburg to Odessa in order to try to alleviate tensions in the Corps. They arrived around Easter. On their advice and under pressure from the local Russian military authorities, the Command of the Corps in Odessa finally accepted the idea of dividing “loyal” volunteers from the “dissenters.” As a result, 12,741 soldiers left the Corps (7,352 Serbs, 3,787 Croatians, 1,241 Slovenians, and 361 others), as did 149 officers (4 Serbs, 98 Croatians, 42 Slovenians, and 5 others). This amounted to 38% of the soldiers and officers of the Corps. By the end of May 1917, the Corps — which now included the 1st and 2nd Divisions with a Support Battalion — numbered 19,472 soldiers and 779 officers.59
Paulova’s data agrees in general with those of Marko Marković. However, Marković either did not explain the causes of the Corps’ crises, or did so with a few general phrases, putting the word “crises” between quotation marks, as if it were a small misunderstanding, or an innocent quarrel. He did not enter into the essence of the question — the basic difference in understanding of the political purpose of the Corps and the structure of a future South Slav state, owing to the opposing cultures and national characters — one a western-occidental and cosmopolitan culture, the other eastern, Orthodox and exclusivist. According to Marković:
At that time, the March revolution [1917] broke out, causing an evolution of events and nations. Soviet Military Committees were formed by the volunteers. One Russian Commission examine those who did not wish to remain as volunteers, and various commissars and members of the Soviets persuaded them to leave the Corps. The ranks of the volunteers were shaken. A “crisis” arose. 149 officers left the Corps (4 Serbs, 96 Croatians, 42 Slovenians and 7 others) as well as 12,741 soldiers (7,352 Serbs, [from the Dual Monarchy], 3,787 Croatians, 1,241 Slovenians and 361 others); there remained 779 officers (411 Serbs, 98 Croatians, 39 Slovenians, 98 Czechs, 125 Russian, and 8 others) and 19,472 soldiers (16,562 Serbs, 668 Croatians, 243 Slovenians, 90 Czechs, 1,847 Russians, and 62 others.60
The small number of Croatian (668) and Slovenian (243) relative to Serbian (16,562) volunteers from the Dual Monarchy who were left in the Corps confirms our thesis that most Croatians did not accept the Yugoslav idea and an unequal union of Croatia with Serbia. According to the intellectuals who diffused and worked for this idea, such a union was envisaged on an equal level in all aspects of life. Their political idea ignored the problems uniting the two different cultures, religions, and histories involved. When this “union” of Croatia and Serbia was actually proclaimed in 1918, many Croatian champions of the “Yugoslav idea” were deeply disappointed, for its fruits were bitter then, and have been bitter for the Croatians ever since.
After the Russian military authorities approved the request by Croatian and Slovenian officers to serve in the regular Russian Army, many of them left the Corps. In the Russian Army, they had the same rights as the Russian officers and soldiers, and some formed a separate battalion in Kiev; others were absorbed by Russian military units. Some later joined the “Red Army” and later still surfaced as political leaders of the Croatian left wing, among them Vladimir Čopić, called “Senjko” (1891-1937 [1939]), who was liquidated in the Stalinist purges in 1938 [1939].
The 1st Division of the Corps, after having absorbed part of the Second, was sent to the Rumanian Front together with the First Brigade —in all, 482 officers, 1,355 non-commissioned officers, and 12,095 soldiers. After the disintegration of the front, the Serbian Government succeeded in transferring the 1st Division, less the 2nd Brigade, to the Salonica front so it could join the Serbian Army. The remnants of the 2nd Division (184 officers and 2,875 soldiers) received permission (on 16 August 1917) to leave Odessa for Murmansk, where they embarked for England through the Arctic Ocean, eventually arriving in Salonica via France and the Mediterranean Sea.
The 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division was the last to leave the Odessa region for Archangel, in November 1917. On the way, they met Bolshevik military units, who wanted them to return to the Rumanian front. But Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) let them proceed. They reached Manchuria by means of the Siberian railroad. From there, they went south to the town of Dalnyi, near Port Arthur, where they were transported by British and French ships through the Suez Canal. They arrived in Salonica in the middle ofApril 1918.
Following the defeat of Serbia by the Central Powers, the Serbian Army was reduced to less than half its original size. This made the Serbian Government-in-exile on Corfu weaker both militarily and politically. Its situation became even worse after the fall of Serbia’ s main supporter ‒ the Romanov dynasty in Russia. As a result, Pašić was compelled to make tactical concessions to the Committee in London. In order to rebuild the Serbian army, as well as prisoners of war in Russia from the southern countries of the Dual Monarchy, Pašić also recruited Croatian, Slovenian, and Serbian volunteers from North and South America, where several hundred thousand people had immigrated before 1914.
In December 1915, Pašić’s attempt to win the Entente Powers over to the idea of volunteers did not bear fruit because of the question of their transportation from South and North America to Europe. In July 1916, Pašić tried again, and on 18 October 1916 the French Government granted Serbia a loan of two million francs, promising further loans, in order to cover transportation expenses, support, and training of the volunteers.61 The Tunisian port of Bizerta was chosen as their “concentration point.” The Serbian government sent two military missions to the Americas to spread the idea of voluntary military service, hoping to exploit feelings of ethnic solidarity among the emigrants from the Southern Slavic countries. The mission to South America was entrusted to Captain Spiro Poznanović, a personal and family friend of Nikola Pašić. The mission to North America was given to Milan Pribićević, a colonel in the Serbian Army and a brother to Svetozar Pribićević, leader of the governing Croatian-Serbian Coalition in Zagreb during the war years.
The Committee in London was not informed of all the initiatives undertaken by Pašić, nor of the convention between the Serbian Government and France. So once again the question of volunteers and of the formation of the Yugoslav Legion surfaced as a problem, especially when volunteers began to arrive in Bizerta, Tunisia, and were directly incorporated into regular Serbian army units, as had been the case with volunteers in Russia and those who had come to Serbia before Rumania entered the war. Trumbić faced a pressing task — to solve once and for all with the Serbian Government the matter of the Yugoslav Legion. Unfortunately, he fell ill and went to Cannes to convalesce, leaving Hinko Hinković and Josip Jedlovski to act on his behalf. Hinković, who was closer to the Serbian Government than Trumbić, sent a proclamation in November 1916 to the Americas in the name of the Yugoslav Committee, but without Trumbić’s knowledge and without consulting Jedlovski or other members of the Committee. In it, Hinković asked that all emigrant volunteers should put themselves “under the Serbian banner.”62 When Trumbić and the other members learned of this step, a very critical clash followed in the Committee, because the proclamation contrasted with the opinion of the majority and was directly opposed the Committee’s intentions.
Hinković’s letter arrived in South America at the beginning of January 1917. The central organization of the Jugoslavenska Narodna Obrana (Yugoslav National Defense) published it in the papers Jugoslavenska država (Yugoslav State) and Domovina (Fatherland), calling for the mobilization of all volunteers and designating Antofagasta as the main “concentration point,” with the town of Punta Arenas as a temporary center.63
By the end of January 1917, 475 had volunteered in the Republic of Chile alone.”64 This seems a relatively small number, but in a state which counted only five to six thousand Croatian colonists, it amounted to almost of the emigrants. On 7 January 1917, Hinković’s manifesto was sent to Argentina (Buenos Aires). By the middle of February the South American contingent of volunteers was ready. On 25 February the volunteers should have left Antofagasta for Bizerta, but did not do so, because, in the midst of the general enthusiasm among the emigrants, the Yugoslav National Defense received an urgent telegram from Trumbić. Writing from Cannes on behalf of the Yugoslav Committee, he said not to send volunteers to Bizerta and to stop the mobilization. The Yugoslav National Defense replied with a telegram asking for an explanation. The Committee replied that the reasons could not be cabled and ordered the Yugoslav National Defense to wait for written instructions.
At the same time, a Serbian captain, Poznanović, was urging the contingent of volunteers to leave Antofagasta. So the situation became muddled, leaving the volunteers stranded. The central office of the Yugoslav National Defense was confused, because it believed that the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbs were working together.65 Pašić held that the Committee had no right to stop the mobilization or the movement of volunteers, even though they were mostly Croatians and therefore of more concern to the Committee. He argued that he had obligations towards France, which had granted a loan to Serbia for this purpose. It was thus that, finally, the Committee learned of his deal with the French.66
Trumbić reiterated the point of view of the Committee in regard to volunteers:
The standpoint of our Committee was ‒ since the beginning of the war ‒ that our volunteers have to fight as a separate unit under the Supreme [Serbian] Command, and not anonymously, as we have several times informed the [Serbian] Government. It is the right and benefit of the whole cause that one knows where they are from and why they fight. This [attitude] we retain today….67
Pašić answered by letter on 18 March 1917, referring to a telegram from Antofagasta of 23 January 1916. In this telegram the delegates of the Congress sent their greetings to the old Serbian King, Peter. The sentence which Pašić stressed read that the participants of the Congress “greet with enthusiasm their king and their government, putting at his disposal their property and their lives.”68
Trumbić countered by referring to the resolution of the same Congress as a more authentic account of their loyalties. The resolution read, in part,
…We put ourselves at the unconditional disposal of the Serbian Government, expressing our complete trust in the Yugoslav Committee in London, which we consider our lawful representative for all Southern Slavic countries under the rule of Austria-Hungary….69 (Emphasis added.)
This disagreement over the fate of American volunteers occurred at the same time that dissidents were emerging among the volunteers in the Corps in Russia and after the tragedy of Dobrudja had already passed into history. All these events led the Committee to act decisively against the opposition of the Serbian Government concerning the already wearisome question of volunteers, and of the creation of the Yugoslav Legion. On 23 March 1917, Trumbić convened a plenary session in which the Committee unanimously decided to stick by the principles enunciated in 1915, adding the following new points:
(1) that the mobilization of the volunteers will only be effected among the emigrants from the Southern Slavic countries under Austria-Hungary, forming the already mentioned Yugoslav Legion;
(2) that the Serbian Government will not accept into its Army those volunteers who do not want to join the Legion but are from the Southern Slavic countries.
Trumbić sent the minutes of the session together with a long private letter to Pašić, at the end of which he complained that “from the Serbian side, in spite of all proposals by our Committee, nothing was done positively to create a Yugoslav volunteer unit….70
After receiving Trumbić’s telegram, mobilization in South America was stopped and everyone waited impatiently to receive directions from the Committee. These finally reached Antofagasta on 20 March 1917, signed in the name of the Committee by Mića Mičić, who had previously championed the idea of volunteers. But, again, no reason was given for stopping their mobilization and for delaying their transportation to Europe. This time the Committee asked the Yugoslav National Defense “whether the Yugoslavs of South America,” the greatest majority of whom were Croatians, “could organize one volunteer airborne unit with at least six airplanes and the necessary number of men.71 The expenses for this project were enormous, but not too long after, the Yugoslav National Defense answered that it was ready to do so, and would assume the entire expenses of the Committee.72 Trumbić then wrote to Pašić on 10 February 1917, asking the Serbian Government for its agreement to the creation of an airborne squadron. Pašić did not answer. On 10 April 1917, Trumbić tried again:
If you think that you can agree in principal to this idea, the Committee will give instructions for the realization of this project. The squadron would be the Aeronautic section of the Yugoslav Legion,… under the guidance of the Serbian Supreme Command.73
Pašić did not answer this letter either. Because of the Serbian Government and its official attitude, this project never materialized. Even so, the great patriotic feeling of the small Croatian colonies — which in South America were labeled “Yugoslavs” — was impressive. They could not have succeeded in securing the complete financial independence of the Committee, but they were willing to do what they could. As Paulova wrote:
It can be said that no other nation, nor any other part of the world, nor any other political alliance was ever so [well] organized and ideally devoted as the Yugoslav National Defense in South America.74
The situation in the United States regarding this question of volunteers was quite different from the one in South America. There was no serious attempt to recruit volunteers in the U.S.A. until the arrival of the Serbian military mission headed by Colonel Milan Pribićević in November 1916. One of the reasons for this lay in the neutrality of America in the war until 1917. But the main reasons were the political divisions and antagonisms between the Croatians and the Serbs. Milan Pribićević, personally quite popular and very energetic, had marked success among the Serbs, yet among the Croatians and Slovenians his mission failed, and in the end he asked to be discharged from his duty. Writing to General Rašić, the Serbian military delegate to the French Supreme Command, Pribićević said:
… It is known that I have a good reputation among them [i.e., the Croatians and Slovenians], yet I was not able to send more than 200 Croatians and Slovenians among the 3,000 volunteers I recruited. This small number is negligible. When one takes into consideration that there are three or four times more Croatians and Slovenians than Serbs, then it means I should have sent a minimum of 10,000. If this situation remains as it is, the volunteers’ engagement will result in the same situation as ended the one in Russia; today this result with the Croatians and Slovenians is already disgracing us, for it shows quite evidently that they are not with us in the movement.75
A similar report was also sent to Ljuba Mihailović, the Serbian Ambassador in Washington. In the report it was stated that the military mission of Milan Pribićević “was only restricted to the Serbian milieu,” while “the Croato-Slovenian element remained indifferent and a large part also inimical.”76 Milenko Vesnić, the Serbian Ambassador in Paris for many years (1904-1921 commented later on this Serbian failure in North America:
Our Yugoslav question in America — until the coming of the Serbian mission there — remained much worse than we thought in Europe. Except for the Serbs, whose patriotism remains undoubted, our other two peoples [i.e., the Croatians and the Slovenians] hold themselves in great reserve, … The Croatian and Slovenian priests, with the exception of several shining examples, were until recently opposed to this new [i.e., the Yugoslav] movement. [It is a pity that] at the very head of the Yugoslav movement in the United States there is no consensus; it can be said that we encountered an open split there.77
On the part of the Committee in London, there was no serious attempt at mobilizing the volunteers in North America. On 24 January 1915, Frank Potočnjak, a member of the Committee in London, arrived in New York, accompanied by Luka Smodlaka, a student at Oxford. The purpose of this trip was to acquire from the Croatian emigrants the necessary approval for the Yugoslav Committee to lead the liberation of the Southern Slavs from the Dual Monarchy, to work out their union with Serbia, and to gather funds.78 However, it was hard to accomplish these tasks, because in no other region of the world were Serbs and Croatians less ready for that union than in the United States.79
According to Paulova’s information, at that time around 90,000 Serbs from Croatian regions lived in the U.S. — but only a few thousand were from Serbia. Some 200,000 Slovenians and about 400,000 Croatians also resided in the States, and approximately 20,000 lived in Canada.
Almost all of these emigrants were working — some were coal miners, some businessmen, hostlers, and a small number of farmers…. Most… were without any political sense: their national consciousness was not developed; [general] education was low…. some colonies were 90% Austrophile….80
Commenting on the political conditions among the Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians in North America, Potočnjak concluded:
In one word… our situation in America was a living reflection of the conditions in the old countries…. Among the Croatians some understood the Yugoslav idea, but these were rare; among the Slovenians they were almost non-existent, while among the Serbs, there were none. The Serbian element was educated with a Serbian national sense and was conscious [of the political situation]; they well knew their duty towards Serbian nationhood and Serbia itself, and would not budge an inch further from that. They [i.e., the Serbian element] listened with pleasure to the national union and expansion towards Croatian or Slovenian nationhood, but for them this meant à tout prix and exclusively Serbian nationhood, which they eo ipso identified with a powerful Greater Serbia.81
In Croatia, comparing the idea of “union and unity” of the Southern Slavs with Serbia to the one in America, Potočnjak stated:
Neither here [i.e., in Croatia] nor there [i.e., in America] did the full and strong idea of union and unity govern, neither here nor there did [people] think or yearn for the creation of this and such a state [i.e., Yugoslavia] … Yet, there was something…: devotion and loyalty towards the Habsburg dynasty and the Monarchy, as well as a readiness for any sacrifice for them.82 (Emphasis added).
These are the main reasons for the failure of the Serbian military mission to recruit volunteers amongst the Croatians and Slovenians in North America, not the economic factor, as Dragoslav Janković wants us to believe:
However, the main reason [for the failure of the Serbian military mission in North America, G.G. ] it seems was the one of which the Serbian consul-general in New York M[ihailo] J. Pupin [1857-1934] informed [Nikola] Pašić (22 September 1916): “Today the Yugoslavs in America [are] so prosperous economically that [only] a small number [of them] would leave a permanent job in America which is well paid today and go to the Balkans to fight there,” Dragoslav Janković said.83
The experience of disillusioned volunteers may also have discouraged potential volunteers. For example, early in the war, a large group of Montenegrins left the U.S. for Serbia to fight. But they were deeply disappointed, both with the rude and primitive Serbian officers who treated them in the same way as those in Odessa did the Croatian and the Slovenian volunteers, and with the conduct of Serbian foreign policy. So they demanded to return to the United States of America after Serbia’s defeat. Janković also noted this:
Many of the volunteers who served in the Serbian army, came to [Pašić] with complaints that their superiors cudgeled them, boxed them on the ears, cursed, and insulted them. For this reason some of them wished to return to [the United States of] America, where they even wrote to their acquaintances discouraging them from coming here.84
It seems most probable that the main reason for the failure of the Serbian military mission to recruit volunteers among the Croatians and Slovenians in North America was the existence of a political division between the immigrants and an actual antagonism between the Croatians, on the one hand, and the Serbs, on the other.
Milan Pribićević, to a certain extent in agreement with the republican idea, and personally popular and agile, was quite successful in his military mission amongst the Serbs in North America. But amongst the Croatians and Slovenians his mission was a total fiasco, so that in the end, he requested to be discharged from his obligation.
It was thus due largely to the attitude of the Serbian Government that the question and formation of the Yugoslav Legion never materialized in the sense that the Committee had envisaged, even though conditions favored such a venture. Mandić reported that 100,000 to 120,000 soldiers, mostly volunteers, had surrendered to the Russians. All were Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbs from the Dual Monarchy.85 Therefore, the political capital that the Committee had wanted to acquire to strengthen its standing with the Entente — as the Czechs had done was lost. In addition, the military significance that the Legion would have had, if deployed to liberate Croatia and Slovenia, was permanently lost. But this was exactly what official Serbia wanted: Not to permit that the Yugoslav Committee in London become an independent and important political factor, supported by a military force while negotiations to resolve the Croatian Question were underway. The Serbian Government succeeded completely in its goals of isolating the Yugoslav Committee. Only after it had done so did it form the Yugoslav Legion.
Following the events of the spring of 1917 in Odessa, all the discontented “Croatian federalists” left Odessa. Those South Slavs who remained were more or less devoted to the idea of a Greater Serbia. When these volunteers reached Salonica, Regent Alexander, with his decree of 29 December 1917, officially formed the Yugoslav Division (Jugoslavenska Divizija), dissolving the Vardar Division, whose men were transferred to other divisions while its military material was taken over by the new division.
In this way the wearisome question of the creation of the Legion that the Committee wanted to form at the beginning of 1915 was finally resolved.
Statistical data on the number of volunteers is contradictory and was hidden by Serbia. But it seems that the proportion of volunteers in the Serbian Army was about the same as when action began on the Salonica front on 14 September 1918. The report transmitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 30/17 September 1918 to the Minister of War, General Rašić, put the total number of volunteers at 20,947.86
But, if we take into consideration the fact that the Serbian Army on the Salonica front numbered a maximum of 55.000 officers and soldiers, and that included, besides the Montenegrin and other volunteers from America, the men from the “Volunteer Corps of the Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians” from Russia, which consisted of 19,472 soldiers and 779 officers on 30 May 1917, and to which were added until 1 August 1917 2,008 more soldiers and 112 officers, [we] could rightly affirm that the liberation of the whole [Southern Slavic] territory, as well as of Serbia proper, was effected with the aid of the Allies.87
These figures were later confirmed by Serbian Duke [Vojvoda], Živojin Mišić (1855-1921). Svetozar Pribićević (1875-1936), after his disappointment with Belgrade, and the Karadjordjević dynasty, declared on 23 January 1928 in a public meeting in Zagreb that:
According to the information of the Serbian headquarters given to me by Duke [Vojvoda] Mišić, there were on the Salonica front 28,000 Yugoslav volunteers, a number equal to the number of Serbian soldiers; [while] the total amount of our military power consisted of one fifth of the total power on the Salonica front. And should there be a decision in Belgrade about Kajmakčalan it is a necessary to know that the Kajmakčalan-[victory] [is] as much ours as it is theirs.88
This statement brought strong protests from Belgrade as well as in the Serbian press. Regarding this problem, Ljubo Leontić said:
From the emigrant colonies and war prisoners’ camp, there were probably a total of fifty thousand Yugoslav volunteers in World War I. (The Volunteers Corps of the SHS [Serbs, Croatians, Slovenians] in Russia alone numbered ca. 42,000 fighters). Their number would probably have been] increased until a whole army of a minimum of one hundred thousand first-class fighters [would have been assembled], if human reason and the feelings of the Austro-Hungarian prisoners and Yugoslav volunteers had been respected. [However], the Greater Serbian officers forced the assembled volunteers into dissidence [through] brutal treatment and the obligation of an oath to the [Serbian] king, while they integrated the Yugoslav volunteers from the emigrant colonies into the Serbian troops in the same way [as the volunteers from Russia]. From all the prečani89 (without any differentiation between them) they wanted to conceal the number and, for political reason, they decreased the precise ratio and also for the main reason that the regular [Serbian] army with its reserves [being active] in continuous battle (and [through] disease after the retreat across the narrow Albanian passes) was reduced to some twenty thousand “effective guns.”90
At the same time, Leontić stated:
M. Vesnić, chief of the diplomatic-military mission of the Kingdom of Serbia, affirmed before the Executive Committee of the JNV [Yugoslav National Council] in Washington, that the Serbian Army was reduced to nineteen thousand fighters. With my own ears I heard this declaration of his.91
Although the Yugoslav Division was formed at the end from those elements which remained in the Corps after the dissidents had left, even those elements more or less faithful to Serbia were prevented from returning to their liberated homeland as victors.
…in accordance with the plan of the [Serbian] Supreme command… [the Yugoslav regiments] were only permitted to enter through Albania ‒ through the “back-door” ‒ Montenegro and Boka [Kotorska], where they were retained as long as possible. Also, owing to unscrupulous treatment [during] demobilization, they were almost completely blocked from influencing political events immediately after the war.92
Apart from the volunteers in Russia and those in South and North America, there were also thousands of Croatians in Italy who were ready to defend Croatian national interests. These had deserted from their units on the Isonzo (Soča) front toward the end of the war and had surrendered to the Italians. Until then, they had fought against the Italians to defend Croatia’s frontiers and the Dual Monarchy.
In order to comprehend this apparent change of heart on their part, it is necessary to understand the situation in 1917 and 1918. During 1917, there were drastic changes in the field of international diplomacy. With the coming to power of the Bolsheviks in Russia, the situation was transformed not only with regard to the governmental form and regime in the country, but also in the attitude towards its Allies. Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks did not wish to continue the war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On 28 November 1917, Lenin sent a note to all governments engaged in the war, asking them to stop the war and to begin negotiations for a “peace without annexation and indemnities on the basis of self-determination of peoples.”93 (Emphasis added.)
Germany and Austria-Hungary responded to this note, and on 22 December started negotiations at Brest-Litovsk.
In England and France, the opinion prevailed that the old Habsburg Monarchy should be preserved, even if in a smaller size, because of the European balance of power. It was simply necessary to reorganize it. Moreover, British and French policymakers saw Austria in the postwar period as a rampart against both German and Russian expansion in this region of the world, because their main enemy was Germany. Only Italy saw Austria-Hungary as its main enemy, as it sought to complete its national unification, secure its predominance on the Adriatic Sea, and prevent Slav expansion.94
The maximum Entente objective in regard to the Habsburg Monarchy was therefore its territorial weakening, not its destruction. At this point Italian diplomacy wished “to organize a bloc of anti-Slavic states from the territorially weakened and reorganized Habsburg Monarchy…[and] the Hungarians and Rumanians.”95 Such a bloc would, in an alliance with Italy, keep the Balkans under control and facilitate Italy’s penetration of these territories. Italy could then build a rampart against further Russian expansion towards the Mediterranean Sea. Since France and England considered Germany as their main enemy, the separation of Austria-Hungary from Germany was the main aim of the Entente’s diplomacy. The young Emperor and King, Karl I, who ascended to the throne after the death of Franz Joseph on 21 November 1916, sent a secret mission to the Entente Powers using the Prince of Parma, and his wife’s brother, Sixtus Bourbon. Unfortunately, his mission was unsuccessful.
Another attempt at a separate peace with Austria-Hungary was made by General Jan Smuts, a member of the British Imperial War Cabinet, and Count Albert Mensdorff-Pouilly, the ex-Austrian Ambassador in London. The talks were held on 18 and 19 December 1917 in Geneva, on the initiative of Count Czernin, the Austrian Foreign Minister. General Smuts informed Mensdorff that Great Britain had decided to destroy Prussian militarism, but that it wished to preserve Austria-Hungary under the condition that the Monarchy separate itself from Germany and be reorganized into a federalist state which would give to its people the widest autonomy. After explaining his conception of the League of Nations and of the British Empire’s destiny as a Commonwealth of Nations, Smuts said to Mensdorff that a similar destiny awaited the Austro-Hungarian Empire, once it broke free from German domination.
The best way to strengthen the bonds of sympathy between the British and Austro-Hungarian people was to liberalize as much as possible the local institutions in Austria-Hungary. We had no intention of interfering with her internal affairs, but we recognized that if Austria could become a really liberal Empire in which her subject peoples would, as far as possible, be satisfied and content, she would become for Central Europe very much what the British Empire had become for the rest of the world. She would become a League of Free Nations, very largely free from the taint of militarism, and she would have a mission in the future even greater than her mission in the past.96
Mensdorff excluded the possibility of a separate peace-treaty for Austria-Hungary, but — according to the Serbian Ambassador, Slavko
Grujić, in his dispatch of 3 November 1917 to Pašić — Mensdorff said “that, in order to strengthen the positions of the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count O. Czernin, in his negotiations with Berlin, Great Britain should clearly declare its war-aims, including its benevolent attitude towards the Dual Monarchy.”97 However, Mensdorff missed this “God-given” opportunity to conclude a separate peace-treaty between the Allies and Austria-Hungary.
The Entente gave Austria-Hungary a third — and final — opportunity in early January 1918. Great Britain and the United States publicly declared and guaranteed that their war-aims were not the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, but were only intended to secure considerable autonomies for their peoples. These declarations were made in the well-known speech of Lloyd-George (on 5 January 1918) and Wilson’s address a few days later to the U.S. Congress (on 8 January), where the latter outlined his Program for World Peace in the famous Fourteen Points.
In his address, Lloyd George said:
The division of Austria-Hungary is not our war-aim [but] we consider that it is impossible to eliminate the cause of trouble in this part of Europe, … until real autonomy, on evident democratic principles, is given to those Austro-Hungarian nations, for which they have been striving for a long time….98
A similar guarantee was also given to Austria-Hungary through the Fourteen Points. Points ten and eleven, dealing with the destiny of the Southern Slavic people in the Monarchy, declared that:
X: The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
XI: Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories [by the Central Forces] restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be established.99
The declarations by Lloyd-George and Wilson were of great political importance. In fact, the two Great Western Powers, namely Great Britain and the U.S.A., did not accept the principle of self-determination for the peoples, but did accept the federalist principle. Through this attitude, America, as the strongest power, deeply involved itself with the question of the form of the solution of the South Slav question.
There is no doubt that America took this attitude primarily because of strategic reasons: to facilitate the conclusion of a separate peace treaty with Austria-Hungary was to weaken Germany. American military experts also thought it better not to declare war on Austria-Hungary, since doing so would diffuse their military power across the European continent. They preferred to concentrate on Germany, because “Germany was the enemy. It had to be crushed first; all the rest will follow….”100
Besides these two reasons for the American approach to the Monarchy, there was, in ultima linea, also an economic reason. The leading
financial American circles considered Austria-Hungary an economic unity best left whole.101
There was one further political-strategic reason to seek a separate peace with Vienna — to prevent Russia ‘s further expansion towards the Mediterranean Sea. This reason was later pushed aside after the unsuccessful attempts at a separate peace-treaty with Austria-Hungary as more immediate strategic interests took priority. In our opinion, this was a cardinal and catastrophic mistake of World War I so far as its short-term and long-term consequences were concerned. Instead of restructuring the old Monarchy as a (con)federal state of equal parts, it was dismembered and the fragments were later easy prey for Hitler’s Germany and, after his defeat, for the Soviet Union, which occupied areas of the former Habsburg empire after 1945.
For many months, Entente diplomacy tried to separate Austria-Hungary from Germany and to conclude a separate peace. When all hopes were lost, as well as that of finishing the war in the near future, no other alternative remained to the Entente Powers other than that of accepting the idea of Henry Wickham Steed, the foreign editor of the London Times, that it was necessary to destroy Austria-Hungary.
Steed believed that the German-Austrian power block could be destroyed not through separation of the one from the other, but only through the destruction of Austria. An instrument to this end was the unsolved nationality question in the Dual Monarchy, particularly the Croatian Question, or the South Slav Question, as it was known. So Entente diplomacy sought to exploit the concept of self-determination. But it was a concept that proved itself to be extremely powerful and “explosive,” all the more so because the Dual Monarchy had surrendered its freedom to act to Germany and could no longer take independent decisions. Under these conditions, internal dissatisfaction led to demoralization on the Italian front, which rapidly deteriorated. Not only individual soldiers, but whole units rallied to the Italian side and in about six months, Austria-Hungary founded itself totally ruined. This process of internal decay was the reason why suddenly tens of thousands of Croatian soldiers surrendered during the last months of the War.
Ivan Meštrović was an eye-witness to these events, and his lucid account of the problem of the Croatian volunteers is of particular interest:
Many of our prisoners-of-war were in Italy. There were thousands of applications at the Serbian legation, requesting permission to join the volunteers and during the Congress — [held in Rome in April 1918] — and right after it there were more than twenty thousand [additional] soldiers and officers who registered themselves as volunteers…. Our prisoners of war, as well as we ourselves [the members of the Yugoslav Committee in London], requested that they may join the Salonica front, or create a specific Yugoslav unit in Italy, which would be led by our officers.
The Serbian Government wished them to go to the Salonica front, while the Italians were excusing themselves because of technical difficulties…. On the very day of Vidovdan [28 June], we, Trumbić and I, went to Nocera Umbra, where the officers of Yugoslav (sic!) nationality gathered, who demanded their separation from the Germans and the Hungarians. There were somewhat more than two hundred officers, of which one hundred and eighty declared themselves in a written form ready to go and fight against Austria. The soldiers, who declared themselves volunteers were about thirty thousand and said that there would be even more…. [Their head was a staff-officer], Colonel [Stanko] Turudija, who told us that he had not succeeded, in two attempts, in surrendering to the Italians with his soldiers…102
Apparently, the troops increasingly saw the Dual Monarchy as captive to Germany. Here is how Colonel Turudija explained it to Ivan Meštrović:
We were fighting like lions with the conviction that we were fighting for our land and (our Croatian) people, as you were fighting over there, and I would rather commit suicide than surrender to the Italians. Then, as a rumour started that the Emperor tried to make a (separate) treaty with the Entente (but without success, G.G.), they sent us the Germans and, when we saw the Prussian helmets, we thought: There is no more Monarchy, Wilhelm (the German Kaiser) commands now. From that time on, I wished to surrender but did not succeed, for, whenever I tried to surrender, the Italians surrendered to us.103
Then Turadija said:
If the London Treaty (of 1915) is abolished, we will all come over to this side. I spoke with Borojević.104 He thinks as I do. He was trembling all over because of relentlessness for action – (says Meštrović) – like a hound which is tied and hears yelping. He was saying that he is thinking day and night about action, that he has a complete plan in his head by which all our regions would be liberated in one month.
The Allies do not need to give us a single soldier, only weapons, and transport us from Ancona to central Dalmatia. Where and how, I will tell them, for I know where every single cannon is located, how many of them there are and of which kind. If the Allies do that, in twenty days all the maritime and mountain regions will be in our hands and the Austrian fleet will come to our side; in one month (also) the Italian fleet will not exist.
(Meštrović noted that Turudija had) asserted this in a fanatic way, indicating with his finger on a map, explaining it in a soldier-like manner; I, of course, did not disguise the fact that I do not understand it.105
We have now dealt, to a certain extent, with the problem of Croatian volunteers in World War I, those in Russia and South America, as well as in Italy. We must still present a short introduction to the Interpellation on this subject. As we said at the beginning, we will later present some reflections which may serve as conclusions to this subject.
1Interpellation (Lat. Interpellare), to interrupt the order of the day by demanding an explanation from the Minister concerned; to submit a written request to the concerned Minister regarding a particular subject. The author of this treatise published this Interpellation with an extensive introduction, in the Croatian weekly Danica (The Morning Star), Chicago, Illinois, from vol. 54, No. 40 (12 October 1984) through vol. 55, No. 28 (26 July 1985). The editor’s introduction was in vol. 54, No. 39 (5 Oct. 1984)
2Ante Trumbić was born on 17 May 1864 in the town of Split. He studied Law in Zagreb, Vienna, and Graz, then worked as a lawyer in Split. After joining the influential Party of Rights (Stranka prava), he was elected to the Dalmatian Diet. From the mid 1890s, Trumbié was active in the Dalmatian Diet. He was one of the main creators of a “new political course” and the Rijeka resolution (Riječka rezolucija). In 1908 he began to edit a daily newspaper, Velebit, at Split. During World War I he lived abroad and led the Yugoslav Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor) in London. After the war, when the state of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenians was created, Trumbić became its Minister of Foreign Affairs. He participated in the Versailles Peace Conference and the negotiations with Italy over the “Adriatic Question”. Deeply disappointed with the political structure of the new state, after the proclamation of the Vidovdan Constitution in 1921, Trumbić left the government to work for a federalist restructuring of the state. He did not belong to any political party, but in 1924 Trumbić jointed the Croatian Association (Hrvatska zajednica) and in 1925 he worked with Stjepan Radić (1871-1928), the most prominent Croatian politician Of the time. In 1926, Trumbić created the Croatian Federalist Peasant Party (Hrvatska federalistička seljačka stranka), and the following year, he was elected to the Parliament. In 1928, after the assassination of Stjepan Radić and his colleagues in the Parliament in Belgrade, Trumbić collaborated with Radić’s Croatian Peasant Party (HSS, Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka) In 1932, Trumbić created a political program for the Peasant Democratic Coalition (Seljačka demokratska koalicija), the Zagreb Points (Zagrebačke punktacije). Trumbić was a decisive opponent of the Serbian unitarist-centralist policy implemented by the Yugoslav regime. He died on 17 November 1938. His last years were spent in poverty.
3The date of the Committee’s establishment and constitution is still a matter of controversy. Ljubo Leontić, a political émigré in Italy from the beginning of World War I, one of the most active leaders of the younger émigrés, and a founding member of the Committee, claimed that the Yugoslav Committee in London was already de facto established in November 1914, and then constituted de jure at the plenary session in Rome on January 24, 1915.” See Ljubo Leontić, O Jugoslavenskom Odboru u Londonu: Jugoslavenska Narodna Obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko Narodno Vijeće u Washingtonu. (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1961), p. 22.
4The other members were: Frano Supilo, Ivan Mešrović, Milan Marjanović, Jovo Banjanin, Milan Srškić, Dr. Bogumil Vošnjak, Dr. Gustav Gregorin, Dr. Hinko Hinković, Dr. Franko Potočnjak, Dr. Julije Gazzari, Dr. Dinko Trinajstić, Dr. Mića Mičić, Dr. Nikola Stojanović, Dušan Vasiljević, Niko Župančić, Ivo De Guilli, and Josip Jedlowski. Several months later Dr. Ante Mandić, Dr. Ante Biankini, Rev. Niko Gršković, Ćiro Kamenarović, Paško Baburica, Vjekoslav Mitrović, Franjo Petrinović, Mihailo Pupin, and Pavle Popović joined. See Franjo Tudjman, “Jugoslavenski odbor i stvaranje zajedničke države jugoslavenskih naroda” in Vaso Bogdanov and others, eds., Jugoslavenski Odbor u Londonu: O povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966) p. 396; and Milada Paulova, Jugoslavenski Odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914.-1918. (Zagreb: Prosvjetna Nakladna Zadruga, 1925), p. 73.
5In our opinion, the term South or Southern Slavs is misleading, given that we do not refer to Northern Slavs. We speak about Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks. The South Slavs include nations with their own distinct names, histories, national characters, and separate national awareness, e.g., Bulgarians, Croatians, Montenegrins, Slovenians, and Serbs. This term was a creation of the 19th century and is used in this study only for convenience and should be abandoned as both obsolete and inexact.
6Franko Potočnjak, Iz Emigracije, IV: U Rusiji (Zagreb: Tisak Narodnih Novina, 1926), p. 4.
7Potočnjak, Ibid., p. 88.
8The Treaty of London was signed 26 April 1915 by Italy, England, France, and Russia. It assigned Italy, as an inducement to leave the camp of the Central Powers and come over to that of the Entente, Istria, Gorica, Trieste, Northern Dalmatia to the outskirts of Trogir, and almost all of the islands from Krk to Korčula. Owing in part to the objections to it by the President of the United States, this pact was not taken into consideration at the Paris Peace Conference. The borders of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians were only fixed in a separate treaty with Italy, signed at Rapallo on 12 September 1920.
9Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 89, 102.
10Dragoslav Janković, “O odnosima Jugoslavenskog odbora sa srpskom vladom u 1916. godini,” Historijski zbornik, Zagreb, Vol. XXIX-XXX (1976-77), p. 456.
11Janković, op. cit., p. 456, Note 5.
12Ante Mandić: Fragmenti za historiju ujedinjenja. Povodom četrdeset godišnjice osnivanja Jugoslavenskog odbora (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti (JAZU), 1956) p. 40.
13Ljubo Leontić: “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska narodna obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu,” Starine, Knjiga 50 (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), p. 25.
14DASIP; MID; PO [Diplomatski arhiv Državnog sekretarijata za inostrane poslove; Ministarstvo inostranih dela Srbije; Političko odelenje. Diplomatic Archives of the State Secretariat for Foreign Affairs; The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Serbia; Political Division]. 1916, f.[fascicule] IX, d. [dossier] VI. Srpske novine. (The Serbian Newspaper) No. 14, 10. 5. 1916, Pregled strane štampe, Pisanje ruskih novina, Ruskoe slovo, Reč, Birževye Vedomosti. Cited by D. Janković, p. 461.
15DASIP, MID, PO, 1916, f. IX, d. VI, Letters of 24.4.1916 and 27.4.1917 from Ristić in Rome to the (Serbian) Government on Corfu and to Pašić in Petersburg. Cited by D. Janković, Ibid., p. 461. See also Pašić’s declaration to Renzo Larco, Corriere della Sera, 9 May 1916. Cited by Mandić: Op. Cit., pp. 222-223, Document No. 149, Petersburg, 6/5, 23 April 1916.
16Edward Viscount of Falladon Grey (1862-1934) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain (1905-1916), leader of the Liberals and an opponent of Lloyd George, succeeded in entering into an agreement with Russia. In 1904 Great Britain and France came to an agreement regarding the colonial question in Northern Africa and from it developed a political Alliance (Entente), which received a semi-official name Entente cordiale (Germ. Herzliches Einverständnis, Croatian Srdačni savez. From this Alliance there developed (1907) the Tripleentente (Dreiverband, Trojni savez) between Great Britain, France and Russia, which remained in force during World War I. The smaller Powers later joined the “Tripleentente”, also known as Alliés et associés (Saveznici i Pridruženi). A general term was Entente Powers (Sile Antante) which defeated the Central Powers composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy (which during the war joined the Entente Powers for the price of the Croatian territories and colonial compensation, stipulated in the London Treaty 1915) and some other smaller Powers.
17Janković, op. cit., p. 463, Note 29.
18Ibid., p. 462, note 28, for Vesnić’s telegram from Paris to the Serbian Government on Corfu of 18. l. 1916.
19Mandić, op. cit., 40.
20Ibid., p. 40.
21Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 3.
22Ibid., p. 2.
23Mandić, op. cit., p. 43.
24Ibid., p. 43.
25Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 104.
26Mandić, op. cit., p. 44
27Marko Marković, “Udeo dobrovoljaca u oslobodilačkom ratu,” Misel in Delo, Kulturna in Socijalna revija. (Ljubljana, 1938) No. 12, pp. 68-80.
28Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 108.
29Ibid., p. 104.
30Ibid., p. 105.
31Ibid., p. 1 10.
32Marko Cemović: Domovina, Zagreb, 1 January 1920. Cited by Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 110.
33Potočnjak, op. cit., 110.
34Ibid., p. 111.
36Mandić, Fragmenti, p. 46.
37Mandić, op. cit., pp. 206-213. Document No. 141: “Mandić Odboru o situaciji i o radu u Rusiji” (Mandić to the Committee about the situation and work in Russia). (Petrograd [Petersburg], 30/17 October 1915). AJO-JAZU (Arhiv Jugoslavenskog Odbora Jugoslavenska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti. The Archives of the Yugoslav Committee, Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art), fascicle 84-I- Dr. Mandić.
38Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 7.
39Ibid., p. 9.
41Ibid., p. 14.
42A Croatian politician of Jewish background, Dr. Josip Frank was born in Osijek, Croatia, in 1844 and died in Zagreb in 1911. Frank collaborated closely with Ante Starčević (1823-1896), founder of the influential Party of Rights (Stranka prava), which sought an independent Croatia within the boundaries of the Habsburg Monarchy — a form of trialism, dividing the Monarchy into Austro-German, Hungarian, and Croatian areas. A close collaborator of Ante Starčević was Eugen Kvaternik (1825-1871), co-founder of the Party of Rights. After the death of Starčević, the Party of Rights split into two factions: the Croatian Party of Rights (Hrvatska stranka prava) led by Josip Frank, known as “Frankovci” (Frankists); and Starčević’s Party of Rights (Starčevićeva stranka prava) led by Mile Starčević, a nephew of Dr. Ante Starčević; it was therefore also known as “Milinovci” (The Followers of Mile [Starčević]).
43Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 7-8, 20.
44Mandić, op. cit., p. 48.
45Milada Paulova, Jugoslavenski odbor; povijest jugoslavenske emigracije za svjetskoga rata od 1914.-1918. (Zagreb: Prosvjetna nakladna zadruga, [1925], pp. 249-250).
46Paulova, op. cit., p. 253.
47Mandić, op. cit., p. 48.
48Ibid., p. 233.Doc. 155 (pp. 231-237), AJO, Fasc. 84 -1- Mandić. Original. (“Supplement to Mandić’s letter to Hinković about Volunteers.” [Petrograd?] 18/5 November 1916).
49Mandić, op. cit., p. 46.
50Paulova, op. cit., p. 254.
52Ibid., p. 255.
53Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 34-35.
54Ibid., p. 39.
55Ivan Meštrović, Uspomene na političke ljude i dogadjaje. (Buenos Aires: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1961), p. 70.
56Paulova, op. cit., pp. 318-319.
57From the Declaration of the Croatian and Slovenian Officers of the Volunteer corps. (Odessa, March 1917) See Mandić, op. cit., pp. 238-239, Doc. 158, AJO, Fasc. 8, Jugoslavenski odbor in Russia.
58Mandić, op. cit., pp. 239-240, Doc. 159, Slovenski Jug, Odessa, 1 June/19 May 1917, No. 17. (Italics in original)
59Paulova, op. cit., pp. 320-321.
<sup60Marković, op. cit., p. 77.
61Paulova, op. cit., p. 238.
62Ibid., p. 241.
63Ibid., p. 256.
64Ibid., p. 233.
65Zorka Stefanović-Djačić, “O ulozi naših iseljenika u Južnoj Americi za vrijeme Prvog svjetskog rata,” in Jugoslavenski odbor u Londonu; u povodu 50-godišnjice osnivanja. Editor, Vaso Bogdanov. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1966), p. 533.
66Paulova, op. cit., pp. 259-260.
67Paulova, op. cit., p. 260. (emphasis in the original)
68Ibid., p. 231.
70Paulova, op. cit., p. 269; Paulova also gives the minutes as well as a larger part of Trumbić’s letter: pp. 264-270.
71Ibid., p. 263.
72Ibid., p. 271.
73Cited by M. Paulova, Ibid., p. 272.
74Paulova, Ibid., p. 271.
75Gradja o stvaranju jugoslavenske države (1.I – 20.XII.1918), (ed., Dragoslav Janković and Bogdan Krizman) (Belgrade, 1964) 2 vols. Vol. I, p. 85, Doc. 66: M. Pribićević to M. Rašić,. New York, 5. II.[February] 1918.
76Gradja, op. cit., p. 129, Doc. 101, Vol. I, Mihailović to Pašić, Washington, 14/1 March 1918.
77Ibid, pp. 136-7, Doc. 107, Vol. I, Vesnić to Pašić. Paris, 20/7 March 1918.
78This journey was financed by the Serbian Government with 5,000 liras – the minimum that could cover his basic expenses. See Potočnjak, op. cit., p. 25.
79Paulova, op. cit., p. 66.
80Ibid, pp. 66-67.
81Potočnjak, op. cit., pp. 34-35.
82Ibid., pp. 35-36.
83Janković, op. cit., p. 459.
84Ibid., p. 459, note 12, Diplomatski arhiv Državnog sekretarijata za inostrane poslove (Diplomatic Archives of the State’s Secretariat for Foreign Affairs) and Političko odelenje (Political Division), 1916, f. IV., d. 1.: Pašić 27.I.1916.
85Mandić, op. cit., pp. 217-218.
86Gradja, op. cit., p. 337, Doc. 267, note 2, Vol. I.
87Mandić, op. cit., p. 74, note 26.
88The Salonica front extended from the Adriatic to the Ionian Sea, about 500 km. wide. The Allies’ Operative Forces counted 600,000 soldiers on the whole front against about the same number of soldiers of the Central Forces. The battle began on 14 September 1918 at 8 o’clock in the morning. Of particular importance was the peak of the mountain Kajmakčalan (2,521 m. above sea level) as the main defense point of the Bulgarian forces. See Svetozar Pribićević: Diktatura kralja Aleksandra. (Beograd, 1952) p. 64, cited by A. Mandić, op. cit., p. 74, note 26.
89The term prečani refers to the Serbs in Croatian areas, i.e., on the other side of the Drina River, which was seen as dividing the Occidental and Oriental civilizations and thus marking the historical boundary between Croatia and Serbia.
90See Ljubo Leontić, “O Jugoslavenskom odboru u Londonu; Jugoslavenska narodna obrana u Južnoj Americi i Jugoslavensko narodno vijeće u Washingtonu,” in Starine, Book 50 (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960), p. 79.
91Ibid., note 85. (Emphasis in the original).
92Leontić, op. cit., p. 80.
93Victor S. Mamatey: The United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918; A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 96.
94Dragovan Šepić: “Politika rušenja Austro-Ugarske i Južni Slaveni,” in Vasa Čubrilović, et al., Naučni skup; u povodu 50-godišnjice raspada austro-ugarske monarhije i stvaranja jugoslavenske države, Zagreb, 27-28. prosinca 1968. godine. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1969), p. 112.
95Ibid., pp. 112-113.
96W. K. Hancock, Smuts; the Sanguine Years, 1870-1919. (Cambridge: University Press, 1962), Vol. I, p. 467; see also: David Lloyd-George, War Memoirs (Boston: Little Brown, 1936), Vol. 5, pp. [19]-36, and Vol. 4, pp. [218]-261.
97Notes, Ante Trumbić, London, 8. I. 1918, in Gradja, op. cit., p. 20, Doc. 8, note 5, Vol. I; see also Hancock, Smuts, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 466-468.
98Gradja, op. cit., p. 14, Doc.2, Vol. I.
99Robert J. Wexler, ed., Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924; Chronolou, Documents, Bibliographical Aids. (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1969), p. 92.
100Mamatey, op. cit., p. 74.
101Milorad Ekmečić, “Stavovi Nikole Pašića prema američkim planovima pretvaranja Austro-Ugarske u federativnu državu,” in Naučni skup, op. cit., p. 161.
102Meštrović, Uspomene, op. cit., p. 109.
103Ibid., p. 110.
104Svetozar von Borojević (1856-1920), a Croatian of the Orthodox faith from the Lika region, was the supreme Austro-Hungarian commander on the Carpathians (1914-1915) and on the Italian front (1915-1918).
105Meštrović: op.cit. p.110 (Emphasis added).

Ante Čuvalo, Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog: Svjedočenja preživjelih

Ante Čuvalo, Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog: Svjedočenja preživjelih, Ljubuški-Chicago, 2014., 624 s.
Časni oci, cijenjene gospođe i gospodo,
Među ovim koricama knjige doktora Ante Čuvala pohranjene su mnoge sudbine, protkane krvlju, znojem, bolom, patnjom, ljudskom surovošću, neizvjesnošću, ali i borbom za preživljavanjem i nadanjima za mirom i povratkom kućama. Prihvatio sam se predstavljanja knjige iz dvaju razloga. Prvo što poznajem njezina auktora dr. Čuvala kao povjesničara i humanista prvoga reda, cijeneći njegove napore da usmenu povijest naših stradalnika predoči u pisanu povijest. Druga je što je moj otac Grgo Dodig iz Prologa (umro 2003.) preživio križni put. U više navrata propovijedao mi je doživljaje iz svoje životne kalvarije 1945. Nažalost, nisam ih bilježio jer sam se tada, kao i sada, bavio dalekom prošlošću naših predaka, koju tisuću-dvije godina unazad, misleći bit će vremena pa ću to snimiti i pribilježiti na papir. Ipak, brza kosa naše sestre smrti pokosi brzo staro, a katkad i mlado žito.  No ostale su mi u sjećanju neke slike koje mi je opisao, pune surovosti i gole borbe za opstanak, kakve se nalaze i u ovoj knjizi.
Knjiga ima tri dijela. Prvi dio su “Svjedočenja preživjelih”  (3-420 str.), poredanih abecednim redom, njih 64 sudionika. Nakon toga slijede “Svjedočenja iz druge ruke” (str. 422-469), gdje je prikazana 21 ljudska sudbina. Drugi dio knjige obuhvaćaju tabele (472-592. str.). Treći dio su “Dokumenti”  (str. 594-621.). Na kraju su Kazala imena (605-618), Popis mjesta kroz koja su prošli ili boravili sudionici Križnoga puta (str. 619-621), Zahvala (str. 623) onima koji su pomogli u pripremi knjige i na unutarnjim koricama zemljovid “Kolone smrti – najvažnijih križnih putova”, koji  je preuzet  iz knjige Stanislava Vukorepa, “Preživjeli svjedoče”, Zagreb, 2005.
Toponim Bleiburg, slovenski Pliberk, koruški gradić u Austriji od kojih 4.000 duša, potječe od njemačkoga blei, olovo, i burg, zamak, tvrđava, jer je blizu bio rudnik olova. I upravo je Bleiburg, Olovni grad, postao simbolom “olovnih vremena” za sve protivnike i neistomišljenike partizanske vlasti.  Bez obzira što je na Bleiburškom polju i u okolici stradao manji dio Hrvata (i drugih naroda), Bleiburg je postao metaforom svih hrvatskih stradanja od crvene vlasti krajem II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća (Bleiburški pokolj, Bleiburška tragedija). Hrvatska iseljenička literatura razdoblje, kada su mnogi zarobljeni Hrvati ubijeni na marševima kroz Jugoslaviju i u zarobljeničkim logorima, nazvala je “Križni put”. O tome se u dijaspori pisalo i govorilo (V. Nikolić, Bleiburška tragedija hrvatskoga naroda, München, 1976.), u Jugoslaviji to je bila tabu-tema. Na europskoj razini buru je uzvitlao Nikolaj Tolstoj koji je 1986. objavio knjigu The Minister and the Massacres (Ministar i pokolji), koja je bila u međuvremenu povučena, s dugim sudskim procesom. Objavljena je u prijevodu na hrvatski 1991. Knjiga Marka Grčića i drugih: Otvoreni dossier: Bleiburg, Zagreb: 1990, de facto prva je knjiga u Hrvatskoj koja je javno progovorila o toj temi. Pripremila ju je skupina novinara nakon serije intervjua sa sudionicima Križnoga puta, koji su prethodno bili objavljeni unovinama. Slijedile su knjige Josipa Jurčevića, Zvonimira Duspera, Miljenka Perića, Joze Marevića, kao i sjećanja sudionika, kao što je spomenuta knjiga Stanislava Vukorepa.
Zabilježena sjećanja preživjelih Ljubušaka vrlo su dojmljiva, puna napornih ratnih slika, opasnosti, uhićenja, namještenih optužnica, podmetanja, tortura, pokušaja nagovora lažnih svjedočenja i pritisaka  svake vrste. Na križnom putu bilo je i djece. Ljuba Biško iz Vitine tako se 1945. našla na maršu smrti s majkom i teko rođenom sestrom u svojoj sedmoj godini. Zapamtila je vrlo potresne slike – čovjeka koji jede uginula konja, nesretnika koji sebi reže grkljan ili majku koja s djetetom skače u rijeku, ne bi li skratila patnje. Ili Nada Tomić iz Humca rođena 1939. Don Aleksandar Boras kazuje kako su ih partizani u iscrpljujućem maršu čak noću tjerali u trk. Bilo ih je koji su trčali i spavali. “Nisam znao da je to moguće ali stvarno smo marširali, ponekad trčali i spavali. Neki su halucinirali”, pripovijeda don Aleksandar. Drago Bradvica iz Veljaka svjedoči da je bio toliko mučen tjelesno i psihički da ga u Mostaru u Sjevernom logoru rođena majka i sestra nisu prepoznale. U dvadesetoj godini bio je težak tek nešto više od trideset kilograma. Slično se dogodilo Ivanu Iki Nižiću, kojega je rođeni otac na povratku pred kućom pitao “Tko si ti”, misleći da je kakav prosjak. Bilo je rijetkih momaka iz marša smrti koji su se spasili bijegom iz  kolone, kao što je bio Vlado Matijašević iz Vašarovića. U knjizi ima svjedočenja koja su male literarne drame, pune događaja i neizvjesnosti, poput sudbine Vladimira Rose iz Vitine.
Svjedočenja iz druge ruke, kako se zove jedno poglavlje u knjizi, isto tako su opisi mnogih životnih drama krajem II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća, koja pripovijedaju supruge, sinovi i rodbina stradalnika. Uz životni put Stanka Čotića iz Lisica, prema kazivanju supruge Anice, nalazi se fotografija aluminijske vojničke zdjele s urezanim nadnevcima i mjestima u kojima je Stanko boravio tijekom Križnoga puta – 15. svibnja 1945. Maribor, pa Osijek, Vinkovci, Šid, Zemun, Pančevo itd., da bi kući stigao u studenom 1945.
Drugi dio knjige donosi tabelarne popise sudionika Križnoga puta i stradalnika iz II. Svjetskoga rata i poraća za svako mjesto u ljubuškoj općini. Tabele sadržavaju imena ljudi koji su preživjeli Križni put, koji su smrtno stradali na Križnome putu i onih koji su smrtno nastradali tijekom rata i u poraću, a nisu bili na Križnome putu. Prema prikupljenim podacima na Križnome putu bile su 2.172 osobe iz općine Ljubuški, smrtno ih je stradalo 1249, 923-je se vratilo kući, a 17 je umrlo od posljedica puta. Ako ovome dodamo 1.202 žrtve nastradale u ratu i poraću, a koje nisu bile na Križnom putu, ukupan broj smrtno stradalih Ljubušaka je 2.469 osoba, što je činilo 10 posto ukupna broja stanovništva općine. Radilo se o ljudima u punoj životnoj snazi, u fertilnoj dobi, tako da je to strahovit i nenadoknadiv gubitak za Ljubuški. Koliko sam danas na Radio-Ljubuškome čuo, dr. Ante Čuvalo rekao je kako je u odnosu na broj predratnih stanovnika najviše stradalih iz Teskere i Pregrađa. Ove crne statistike mogu poslužiti sociolozima i demografima kao korisno štivo u daljnjim proučavanjima, ali nećemo pretjerati ako kažemo da su ljubuški Hrvati u Drugom svjetskom ratu i nakon njega izgubili demografsku srčiku i bili stigmatizirani kao ustaše i zločinci.
U trećem dijelu priloženi su zanimljivi dokumenti sudionika Križnoga puta, od vojnih knjižica do presuda vojnih sudova i nekoliko rukopisnih zapisa ljubuških stradalnika.
Knjiga dr. Ante Čuvala dragocjeno je povijesno i dokumentarno djelo, zapis o tragičnim ljudskim sudbinama sredinom dvadesetoga stoljeća, tu pred našim vratima. Učinjeno je u zadnji trenutak kada se preživjeli križari mogu gotovo izbrojiti na prste. Možda mi sami, potomci naših ratnih i poratnih stradalnika, bilo prve ili druge generacije, trebamo okriviti sami sebe zašto to nismo uradili u proteklih – evo gotovo sedamdeset godina. Zato našemu učenom Anti iz Proboja treba odati veliko priznanje za golem trud i istraživački napor, koji je pokazao na pripremi i objavi knjige. Na kraju neka mi bude slobodno poigrati se glagolom čuvati: Dr. Čuvalo očuvao je od zaborava komad ljubuške povijesti. Neka ga čuva dragi Bog!

Radoslav Dodig

Ljubuški, 8.5.2014.

Vesna Čučić, The Republic of Dubrovnik: Final Crisis

Vesna Čučić, The Republic of Dubrovnik: Final Crisis. Chicago, Il.: CroLibertas Publishers, 2014. Pages XXIII+208.
An earlier version of Ms. Čučić’s book was published in Croatian in 2003 (Zavod za povijesne znanosti HAZU and Matica hrvatska in Dubrovnik), but now appears in a somewhat upgraded English language version thanks to an able translation by Duško Čondić. As a result, this important monograph will be available to a far broader international audience. Dr. Ante Čuvalo and Ms. Ivana Čuvalo Rosandić founded the CroLibertas Publishers with the sole purpose of publishing books—original monographs, translations, and reprints—of interest to those who wish to be informed about Croatia and her history, something that should not be the project of a small diaspora publisher, but of those Croatian institutions that are responsible for promoting the best of domestic scholarship. The Čuvalos’ first publication was a critical study of archival holdings from the Catholic parish of St. Jerome, a Croatian immigrant institution in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Čučić’s monograph is the second book in the series. The demise of the Republic of Dubrovnik was not the favourite episode for those who applied themes from the history of Dubrovnik as building material for the construction of the Croat national project. Contrary to the narratives of great achievement during the Republic’s heyday, the fall of the Dubrovnik polity was too depressing to bear. That in part explains why the subject was infrequently pursued. Besides the two-volume (and then strictly diplomatic) history by Lujo Vojnović (Pad Dubrovnika, 1908), which was published on the hundredth anniversary of the events and brought the story up to the Dubrovnik Annals 19 (2015) 151 final attempts at the Republic’s restoration (from the uprising of 1813 to the Congress of Vienna), there were practically no works on the subject, the somewhat forgotten English-language monograph by Harriet Bjelovučić: The Ragusan Republic: Victim of Napoleon and its Own Conservatism, which was published in 1970, being the sole exception. The dearth of research on the Republic’s final period has since been reversed thanks to Vesna Čučić’s expert insight into the world of troubled relations in Dubrovnik and the Adriatic basin at the turn of the eighteenth century, when Napoleon transferred the spirit of the Great Revolution into a set of legal, educational, and administrative reforms, and then, thanks to his military and strategic advantages, unleashed them on the unwilling European continent. Vesna Čučić’s monograph begins with the context of the French decision to seize Dubrovnik in 1806. The great game after the Third Coalition and the Peace of Pressburg (1805) led to the Franco-Russian conflict in the Bay of Kotor, where the Austrian authorities, under the pressure of the anti-French local movement, did not pass the Bay to the French, as provided by the Peace of Pressburg, but to the Russians instead. The French then occupied Dubrovnik under the pretext that Dubrovnik’s neutrality was compromised. Ms. Čučić’s approximations about the number of French troops on the territory of Dubrovnik (between 1,100 and 5,000) are particularly telling, as is her account of the role they played in combat against the Russo-Montenegrin army during the Russian siege of Dubrovnik, as well as on the nature of siege itself, which has been downplayed in the previous accounts. This episode, made notorious by the pillage and burning of Konavle, Cavtat, and a number of suburban settlements, has lived in the collective memory of Dubrovnik and helped legitimate the French contributions in defence of the city and its possessions. The arrival of fresh French troops in July 1806 repelled the Russian siege. These are unquestionably the best pages of the monograph and they stress the predatory nature of Russian-Montenegrin effort, something that Lujo Vojnović mainly circumvented in his Pad Dubrovnika. The rest of the book takes up the consequences of conflict, the expenditures that the Republic invested on the French army during the period of dual power (1806-1808), and the damage caused by Russians, Montenegrins, and Orthodox Herzegovinians. The biggest damages were incurred in Gruž, Rijeka dubrovačka, and Konavle, and in Konavle most especially in Čilipi, as well as Bačev Do and Gruda. Most houses were burned in Konavle (235), Župa (188) and borgo Pile (134); in percentages: in Obod (84.21%) and Pile (47.69%). Nor was the number of victims insignificant. According to some accounts there were 581 dead only in Konavle, and in the city itself, perhaps more than 150. Ms. Čučić clearly demonstrates that we have underestimated the last crisis of the Republic of Dubrovnik. This was not just the story of the French occupation but, in far greater measure, that of savagery committed by the Russo-Montenegrin forces, something that Medo Pucić called the expected behaviour of ‘beasts’: “Then the Frenchman grabbed Dubrovnik … / And by his godless violence / Though we were neither in the wrong or in debt / He destroyed our national rule. / Then the Moscovite went on to chase him / From both the land and the sea / And took with him a Montenegrin troop / And then sat himself round Dubrovnik / A wild hawk in a dove’s nest”. Dubrovnik’s last crisis was a confrontation between a small patrician oligarchy and modernity, as represented by a self-made emperor and his military force, both being products of the French Revolution, which is to say that they were dedicated to undermining the institutions of old Europe. Republican particularism was swept away by the uniformity of ‘scientific’ state and its centralism, which was not abridged under subsequent Habsburg rule. It is of great value to remind ourselves of this great epopee, the first act of the modern tragedy, which was far more dramatic than its last convulsions, behind the curtain that is steadily falling in our own time. Thanks to the translation of this valuable book, many new readers will discover the circumstances of Dubrovnik’s collapse in all of their depressing detail. Ms. Čučić deserves our thanks and recommendation.

Ivo Banac

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


Riječ logor, njem. Lager, iz gotskoga ligrs, znači spavaonica, ali u ratnom smislu sabirno mjesto muke i patnje, često i smrti. Nakon II. Svjetskoga rata otvoreni su mnogi saveznički logori za izbjegle osobe, civile i vojnike. Jedan od poznatijih među njima bio je izbjeglički logor „Campo Fermo“, koji se prostirao u gomili betonskih zgrada bivše tekstilne tvornice nedaleko od grada Fermo, koji se nalazi na obali jadranskoga mora u središnjoj Italiji i ima 37.000 st. U njemu se smjestilo oko 2.000 izbjeglica. Iako je strah od izručenja u Jugoslaviju bio stalno prisutan u Fermu, Hrvati su se trudili organizirati normalan život. Počeo je raditi dječji vrtić, osnovna i srednja škola, formirana je Matica Hrvatska, Hrvatski akademski klub, športska društva i  još neke udruge. Istodobno s društvenim i kulturnim djelovanjem na pozornici su izvođene predstave iz hrvatske baštine, hrvatski emigranti intelektualci započeli su političko djelovanje protiv komunističkog režima u domovini. Međutim, generalno stajalište Zapada bilo je naklonjeno Josipu Brozu Titu i partizanima. Usto, jugoslavenske tajne službe našle su suradnike, doušnike među hrvatskim emigrantima, što je dovelo do izdaje i propasti planiranih akcija odnosno do uhićenja i likvidacije pojedinih istaknutijih hrvatskih emigranata. Logor je djelovao od 1945. do 1948.
Ono što je zanimljivo za Fermo i hrvatske zatočenike u njemu svakako je način na koji su logoraši organizirali život, koliko je to bilo moguće u tadašnjim poslijeratnim uvjetima. O tome u predgovoru piše dr. Ante Čuvalo. U logoru je bio heterogen sastav izbjeglica – od profesora, svećenika i umjetnika do vojnika, seljaka i djece. Uz suglasnost britanske uprave birala se hrvatska logorska samouprava koja se brinula za životne uvjete. Imali su kuhinju, ambulantu, pjevački zbor, športsko društvo, dječji vrtić, folklornu skupinu, skaute, te sitne obrtnike – električare, limare, brijače, učitelje, glazbenike. Sagrađena je i kapela, utemeljena je prava hrvatska katolička župa.
Upravo o tim zbivanjima govori ovaj album. Kao što sama riječ kaže sastavljen je od niza slika i popratnih tekstova, negdje kraćih negdje dužih. Zasluga za oblikovanje albuma pripada Mariji Ramljak, voditeljici „Hrvatske male škole“ u logoru Fermo, Augustu Frajtiću, fotografu i dr. fra Dominiku Mandiću, koji je sačuvao albume u Franjevačkoj kustodiji u Chicagu. Uvod i pripremu za tiskanje obavio je dr. Ante Čuvalo, a dizajn i grafičku pripremu Emil Kordić. Nakladnik je CroLibertas Publishers Chicago. Knjiga se u glavnini sastoji od dva albuma: I. od str. 8 – 37. i II. od str. 40 – 55.
Kako na početku kaže voditeljica škole Marija Ramlja, junaci albuma su „mala hrvatska djeca, koja su morala ostaviti svoju domovinu“. Redaju se slike djece – vesele, radoznale, nemirne, razigrane, tužne, ali i ponosne što pokazuju u tuđoj zemlji da su kadri misliti, učiti, stvarati i živjeti. Redaju se tako frajtićevi svjetlopisi s djecom u prirodi, u hodalici, u dvorištu, školi, izletu, kolu i vjeronauku. Tako saznajemo da su napravili prvu priredbu s programom od dva i pol sata, djeca u dobi od 4 do 10 godina. Danas bismo rekli vrtić i osnovci. Napravljena je prava pozornica sa zastorima, okićena grbom i likovima u hrvatskoj narodnoj nošnji. Saznajemo isto tako da su veliku priredbu mališani imali za Majčin dan, da su predstave i igrokazi bili vrsno pripremljeni s obiljem kostima i obrazina. Vidimo na fotografijama da su Malu školu u Fermu posjećivali crkveni, vojni i civilni uglednici, među njima kardinal Ruffini, nadbiskup fermanski i general Findlaj. Na kraju prigodna programa u legendi gospođa Ramljak piše „kako se kardinal čudio visokoj kulturi našega naroda“.
I II. album iz 1946. donosi obilje životnih situacija malih junaka u logoru Fermo. Uz kulturni i športski život mališani marljivo uče engleski i talijanski jezik, pišu školske zadaće, vježbaju kola i plesove, sudjeluju u procesijama, prave male izložbe, skauti idu u prirodu, dijeli se Sveta pričest, kao i druge dječje radosti i obveze. Moraju se za mnoge stvari snalaziti, pa su tako djevojčice za jednu procesiju napravile lijepe haljine od mreže protiv komaraca.
Tako je Album izbjegličkoga logora Fermo ispunjen lijepim slikama i tekstovima, da unatoč ratu, neimaštini i izbjegličkim mukama, pokaže kako malo čovjeku treba za život. A to su u prvom redu pokazala djeca – i to ona najmlađa, koja su hrabro nosila na svojim plećima ratno breme, ali je u njima bilo duha – i vedroga, i ponosnoga, i prkosnoga i nacionalnoga. Zato je listanje ovakvoga albuma malo osvježenje i ugodno iznenađenje. Album je u neku ruku spomenik neuništivom čovjekovom duhu, svojevrsni antiratni manifest, ovoga puta u malenim tijelima, za hrvatski ponos.
Radoslav Dodig

Bleiburg upozorava na zločine da ih ne bismo činili te da poštujemo i cijenimo svaki život

Bleiburg upozorava na zločine da ih ne bismo činili te da poštujemo i cijenimo svaki život

Ante Čuvalo – razgovor

Katolički tjednik (Sarajevo) – 17. svibnja 2015.

Svibanj je već 70 godina obilježen komemoriranjem događaja (sa) završetka II. svjetskog rata. Među Hrvatima to je mjesec koji donosi i tužno sjećanje na sve izgubljene živote na Bleiburgu i Križnom putu koji je uslijedio. U povodu obilježavanja ove godišnjice, pričali smo s prof. dr. Antom Čuvalom, profesorom i piscem koji je svoju donedavnu američku adresu zajedno s obitelji zamijenio za onu rodne grude u Ljubuškom.
Razgovarala: Ksenija Ninić
Od političkog emigranta koji je 60-ih godina prošlog stoljeća odlučio napustiti Jugoslaviju, postao je uvaženi član američkog akademskog društva, istaknuti profesor, povjesničar i autor brojnih knjiga i članaka o Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini. On je prije nekoliko godina odlučio početi prikupljati svjedočanstva onih koji su preživjeli Bleiburg s područja općine Ljubuški, te je tako knjigom Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog zapisanom riječju zauvijek otrgnuo iz zaborava tužna sjećanja preživjelih.
Ove godine se navršava 70 godina od Križnih puteva Hrvata koji su započeli u Bleiburgu. Kako vrijeme utječe na sjećanje na Bleiburšku tragediju? Riječ „Bleiburg“ je metafora koja odmah priziva dva značenja. Na jednoj strani ona u sebi sadrži sva mučenja, progone i pogibiju na stotine tisuća Hrvata i Hrvatica u komunističko-jugoslavensko-velikosrpskim rukama po završetku Drugog svjetskog rata. Ona simbolizira tragediju koja je pogodila hrvatski narod u poraću općenito. Istodobno, ta riječ (kao i „Križni put“ ili putevi jer ih je bilo mnogo) Hrvatima implicira zločin i oslikava ideologiju mržnje onih koji su taj zločin počinili u ime dobro poznatih njihovih „ideala“. Bleiburg i sve što on označava je jedan od onih trenutaka u povijesti hrvatskog naroda koji se ne da izbrisati ili prekriti pepelom prošlosti. On je duboko urezan u pamćenje Hrvata diljem svijeta. Bleiburg, Križne puteve i masovna grobišta se može “zaobilaziti”, prešućivati, nijekati, zabranjivati…, ali to je neizbrisivo i nezaboravljivo. Bleiburg je prekretnica, znak, upozorenje…
V i ste objavili knjigu sa svjedočanstvima preživjelih Križnog puta iz općine Ljubuški. Što Vas je ponukalo da prikupljate ova svjedočenja? Bleiburšku tragediju sam osjetio već u ranom djetinjstvu. Naime, moj je otac bio na Križnom putu i nikad se nije vratio. Bio je jedan od na tisuće civila koji su iz Austrije pošli, ali nisu nikad došli doma. Ja sam se rodio poslije njegova odlaska prema sjeveru pred najezdom partizana u moj rodni kraj. U kući se znalo ili, bolje reći, govorkalo i nagađalo što se dogodilo. Oni koji su preživjeli Križne puteve, zatim logore i došli svojim kućama morali su šutjeti. I šutjelo se 50 godina! Iza mog bijega iz „titoističkog raja“ na Zapad o Bleiburgu sam čitao i čuo iz prve ruke, a ponešto i pisao. Imao sam, naime, izlaganje o Bleiburškoj tragediji 1987. na sveučilištu Oxford u Engleskoj. Bio je to opsežan simpozij o prisilnoj repatriaciji poslije Drugog svjetskog rata sa Zapada u komunističke zemlje.
Po povratku u domovinu zamolili su me da budem član Povjerenstva za istraživanje, obilježavanje i uređivanje grobišta u općini Ljubuški. Dok smo istraživali, javili su se neki ljudi sa zapisima o svojem Križnom putu. Zahvaljujući njima, počeo sam pronalaziti, uz pomoć drugih, osobe koje su preživjele Križni put, a još su bili na životu i sposobni svjedočiti. Tako sam prikupio 64 svjedočenja iz prve ruke, a knjiga sadrži i broj svjedočenja iz druge ruke. Osim toga, knjiga donosi popis onih koji su ubijeni na Križnom putu, kao i imena preživjelih.
Da bi čitatelji imali barem približno ideju o kakvoj se tragediji radi, navest ću nekoliko brojeva. Po onom što sam mogao prikupiti, iz ove općine bile su na Križnim putevima 2 172 osobe. Od toga je 1 249 nastradalo, a 923 vratilo se kući. Koliko znamo, 17 ih je umrlo od posljedica uskoro po povratku doma. K ovom treba dodati da su u ovoj općini tijekom rata i poraća nastradale 1 202 osobe koje nisu bile na Križnom putu. Dakle, ukupan broj stradalih u općini Ljubuški tijekom rata i poraća bio je 2 469. Kad uzmemo da je ratnih godina u općini bilo oko 24 500 stanovnika, znači da je u ratu i poraću nastradalo 10% pučanstva, a od toga najviše u poraću. To je zastrašujući broj žrtava, a da demografske gubitke i ne spominjemo.
Kakav ste dojam o preživjelima stekli razgovarajući s njima? Najviše me se dojmilo da ti ljudi govore o svojim patnjama, o mučiteljima, o strašnim prizorima… bez trunke mržnje i želje za osvetom. Iz razgovora se vidi da oni nisu ni u tim teškim danima progona mrzili, čak su se čudili tolikoj mržnji progonitelja, pa i sažalijevali ih jer su uvidjeli da te ljude mržnja izjeda i izluđuje. Nisu oni zaboravili nepravdu i muke, ali nisu dopustili da ih to progoni cijeli život. Istina, boli ih što se i danas niječe Bleiburg i posljedice Bleiburga. Neki od njih zapažaju da zapravo njihov Križni put nije nikad ni prestao jer su bili zauvijek označeni kao krivci, kao „neprijatelji naroda“. I današnji simpatizeri bivšeg režima i države najradije bi da se o svjedočenjima preživjelih ne piše jer im kvare sliku ideologije i režima koji je njima bio dobar, a sad su se našli u povijesnim i političkim prilikama koje nisu nikad sanjali ni željeli.
Križni putevi u jednu ruku i danas traju jer zemni ostatci ubijenih nisu nikad „stigli“ kući, oni i njihovi potomci još čekaju.
Postoji li svjedok koji Vam je ostao u posebnu sjećanju i kakva je njegova sudbina bila? Teško je izdvajati. Ljudi su proživjeli užasne stvari. Kako se može osjećati dečko od 16 godina kad mu oca, civila u godinama, ubijaju pred očima jer je htio zaštititi sina; kad majka u panici ostavlja bebu na putu jer više ne zna kako će s njom naprijed u nepoznato, ili kad majka baca dijete s mosta u rijeku; jednog brata ubijaju zbog kapi vode, a drugi kaže „Ubijte i mene“ te ubijaju ga. Nekoliko ih svjedoči kako su ih strpali, ugurali, u neku rupu kod Šida gdje se kopala zemlja za ciglu – bez vode, vrućina, bez zraka… izdiše se! Svaki koji je taj događaj pričao, kao da ponovno proživljava tadašnje muke. Ali, gotovo u svakoj mukotrpnoj priči nađe se zračak svjetla, neka ljudska dobrota, neki dobri anđeo. Netko je priskočio drugom jadniku u pomoć; dao mu kap vode ili komadić hrane; pomogao mu da miče naprijed jer ako zaostane iza kolone, ode glava; daju čak život da bi zaštitili drugoga. Tu su dobre djevojke i snaše koje su neustrašive u bacanju kruha i druge hrane ljudima u kolonama. Ili starac kojeg ubijaju dok on dijeli hranu, kako on veli, “svojoj djeci”. To su ljudi koje ne bismo smjeli zaboraviti. I oni su dio Križnog puta, kao što su i majke, supruge i djeca nastradalih.
Ovaj Križni put, dakle, nije se dogodio samo na bleiburškom polju, već je nastavljen i drugdje te trajao nekoliko mjeseci nakon predaje. Kod Bleiburga se dogodila predaja Saveznicima, odnosno Englezima, potom izručenje hrvatske vojske i civila Titovim snagama pa zato ovo zovemo Bleiburškom tragedijom. Ali to je bio samo početak. Ubijanje tu tek počinje i nastavlja se sve do grčke i rumunjske granice. Na primjer, u knjizi Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog nabrojeno je blizu 200 mjesta koja spominju samo stradalnici uvršteni u ovu knjigu. U tim mjestima su bili logori ili su kroz njih prošli. Ti marševi smrti trajali su tjednima i mjesecima. Osim masovnih stratišta po Sloveniji i sjevernoj Hrvatskoj, ubijalo se gdje je god netko od pratećih partizana htio ili kad su prolazili kroz sela sa srpskim pučanstvom. Iz svjedočenja preživjelih vidi se, na primjer, da su po dolasku u logor kod Požege mnogi „nestali“. Po svemu izgleda da je na tisuće ljudi iz tog logora odvedeno u sjeverozapadnu Bosnu i tamo pobijeno. Drugi su došli u mostarske logore, a onda završili u Neretvi, jamama oko Nevesinja i drugdje.
Do danas dvije stvari ostaju nejasne te se mnogo spekulira oko njih, a to su: motiv i odgovornost. Koji je, prema Vašem mišljenju, glavni motiv za masakriranje Hrvata u Bleiburškoj tragediji i može li se kazati tko je zapravo odgovoran za nju? Poznato je ono što je Tito rekao Ivanu Meštroviću, da se Srbima moralo dopustiti da se zadovolje, da se „iskale“. Ili ona Đilasova da se Hrvate moralo pobiti da bi Jugoslavija živjela. Ali mislim da su motivi bili i širi. U tim teškim ratnim vremenima i tom „brisanom prostoru“ slile su se tri ideologije koje su mrzile sve što je bilo hrvatsko i katoličko, posebice nisu mogli ni zamisliti da bi postojala hrvatska država, bilo koja i kakva. Prvo, jugo-omunistima i njihovim simpatizerima cilj je bio obnova Jugoslavije i boljševizam. Po uzoru na Lenjina, važno je bilo preuzeti vlast, a za taj cilj trebalo je žrtvovati sve i svakoga tko se našao na putu. Staljin im je bio još bliži i draži. Smetnja tom njihovu cilju su u prvom redu bili svi državotvorni Hrvati (bez razlike na ideologiju) i Katolička Crkva.
Drugo, velikosrbizam se pri kraju rata vrlo lako i rado pridružio komunistima da bi ostvario svoje ciljeve. Nije bilo važno je li pod kokardom ili crvenom petokrakom. To udruživanje četništva i partizanštine protiv svega što je hrvatsko i katoličko vidjeli smo ponovno u nedavnim vremenima.
Treća ideologija koja je vidljiva na Bleiburgu i kasnije je jugoslavenstvo. Tu su se našle snage, uglavnom hrvatske, koje su bile (i ostale) projugoslavenske. One su u prvom redu dolazile iz orijunaških redova i lijevog krila HSS-a, koje nisu ništa naučile od progona poslije 1918., pogibije u beogradskoj Skupštini i smrti Stjepana Radića. Ne mislim da su ovi imali namjeru pobiti toliko svojih sunarodnjaka, ali su se našli u vražjem kolu i kad se krvavi pir započne, onda nastaje pomrčina mnogih vrjednota. Dakle, svim tim snagama, a predvodila ih je komunistička partija, cilj je bio zatrti i ideju hrvatske države. Dakle, trebalo je „očistiti“ sve koji bi mogli osporiti njihove planove. Zanimljivo je da se jednog od još živih sudionika ratnih i poratnih događanja do nedavno moglo čuti kako govori o „čišćenju“ protivnika, kao da se radilo o smeću!
Što se tiče odgovornosti, tu bi se moglo početi od ljudi u vodstvu NDH i njihovim procjenama političkih i ratnih prilika, odlukom za povlačenje i uvjerenjem da će naći zaštitu, odnosno primjenu međunarodnih ugovora, kod zapadnih sila, tj. Engleza. Zatim dolazi odgovornost engleskog vojnog i političkog vodstva. Ne samo da nisu poštivali međunarodne konvencije, nego su izručili hrvatsku vojsku i civilne mase komunističkim snagama glumeći da ne znaju što će se s njima dogoditi. Najvažnije, izravnu odgovornost za masovne pokolje, Križne puteve i sve što se dogodilo zarobljenicima nakon što su pali u partizanske ruke snosi vodstvo komunističke partije, odnosno Tito. On i njegov najuži krug su primijenili čisti boljševizam i staljinizam. „Sve što nije s nama, protiv nas je“, i treba uništiti. Kad su oni ubijali nevine ljude, mladiće i civile, nisu oni njih ubijali kao pojedince, nego s njima su htjeli zatrti i klicu hrvatske državnosti. Ali, kako i znamo, Bleiburg je pobijedio njih, njihovu ideologiju i državu!
Tada, kao i danas, antihrvatstvo i antikatoličanstvo se umotavalo u celofan „antifašizma“ jer su komunisti poslije rata „oteli“ ideju antifašizma da bi sebe pokazali braniteljima ljudskih sloboda i, istodobno, pokrivali svoja zlodjela i totalitarizam. Začuđuje da se i danas nastoji nametnuti komunističko-jugoslavenski „antifašizam“ kao nekakva politička platforma za okupljanje antihrvatskih tradicija, čak i protiv branitelja Domovinskog rata, pa i same državnosti. Ali za neke je to zasigurno dobar „antifašistički“ biznis; nastoji se živjeti na račun ideologije, kao što su i prije živjeli izgoneći „zle duhove“ iz hrvatskog naroda.
Nakon sedam desetljeća točan broj stradalih još uvijek nije poznat, međutim, što je važnije od brojeva kada se priča o Bleiburgu? Broj je zasigurno velik, zapanjujući, ali još čekamo na temeljit pristup istraživanju svih ratnih žrtava pa i onih bleiburških. Propali režim nije nikad htio da se saznaju pravi brojevi jer onda ne bi mogao sa žrtvama manipulirati. Ni danas oni na vlasti nemaju za to volje. Zato se Katolička Crkva poduzela popisati broj žrtava rata i poraća preko svojih župa. Brojevi su svakako važni, posebice za znanstvenike, ali kad baratamo brojevima, onda (pre)često izgubimo iz vida ljude, s imenom i prezimenom, kao i njihove patnje i smrt. Zato svrha zapisivanja i objavljivanja sjećanja preživjelih je sačuvati od zaborava doživljaje konkretnih ljudi. Kroz njihove iskaze mi se približavamo stvarnosti, tragediji, koja se dogodila unatrag sedam desetljeća. Svako svjedočenje je prozorčić kroz koji možemo osobno pogledati što se to događalo. Zato, gdje god ima još živih svjedoka, treba zapisati njihova svjedočenja. To važi i za ratove iz devedesetih godina. Vrijeme prolazi, ljudi umiru, zaboravlja se. Zapisujte!
Iako u bivšem sustavu nije bilo poželjno govoriti o Bleiburgu, te se može kazati kako je bilo i zabranjeno, kako se u narodu uspio tako jako održati spomen o ovom Križnom putu? Ne može se govoriti o „nepoželjnosti“, nego o strogoj zabrani. Nije se smjelo o tomu ni zucnuti! Nedavno mi prijatelj iz Australije piše da je tek iz knjige Od Bleiburga do Ljubuškog saznao da mu je otac bio na Križnom putu. Ni svojoj djeci se o tomu nije pričalo. U najviše slučajeva, da bi ih se sačuvalo od „zla“, jer bi oni nešto o tome mogli progovorili. U mojoj kući, na primjer, govorilo se o ratu i poraću. A mi smo već kao djeca živjeli u dva svijeta, onaj u kući i onaj u školi. Znali smo što se smije, a što ne. Zato i jesam otišao u svijet, da budem slobodan! I ovdje vrijedi ona narodna: „Zaklela se zemlja raju da se tajne sve doznaju.“ Zato je potrebno sve iznijeti na vidjelo. Jedino tako se možemo svi suočiti s činjenicama i tražiti istinu, a istina oslobađa. Žrtve ne vape za osvetom, nego da ih sve, na bilo kojoj strani, prepoznamo i izrazimo svoje poštovanje. Jedino tako se mogu rane „čistiti“ i zacjeljivati. Nadam se da je svima do toga stalo ako žele bolju budućnost sebi i mlađim naraštajima.
V i ste od političkog emigranta postali istaknuti akademski građanin Sjedinjenih Američkih Država. Objavljivali ste članke i knjige, a mnoge o BiH i Hrvatskoj, čak je i Vašu knjigu Historical Dictionary of Bosnia and Herzegovina struka uvrstila među najbolje knjige te vrste. Uvijek ste bivali vezani uz hrvatske udruge u iseljeništvu te ste bili na istaknutim pozicijama. Kakva je percepcija Bleiburga u SAD-u, koliko je poznat ovaj Križni put Hrvata u Drugom svjetskom ratu? Na kraju Drugog svjetskog rata izručen je velik broj Kozaka, Ukrajinaca, Rusa… Staljinu, a Titu Hrvati, kao i jedan broj Slovenaca, Srba i drugih. Koliko mi je poznato, najviše se na Zapadu istraživalo i pisalo o onima koji su izručeni (oko 2 milijuna) Staljinu, posebice o Kozacima. O Bleiburgu i stradanju Hrvata nije bilo politički korektno istraživati i pisati. Poslije 1948. Jugoslavija i njezin režim su uzeti u „zaštitu“ Zapada, odnosno Amerike, pa nije bilo poželjno govoriti o zlodjelima Tita i njegova režima. Treba svakako imati na umu da oni koji su u smrt izručili tolike mase ljudi Staljinu i Titu nisu dali da netko podiže pitanje njihove odgovornosti za masovne zločine. S hrvatske strane se nastojalo probijati led gdje se moglo i kako se dalo. Prikupljalo se materijale, pisalo i objavljivalo, ali bilo je teško zainteresirati utjecajnije strane znanstvenike i medije za ovu temu. Osim političke korektnosti (pre)često se radilo o lijenosti i udobnosti kod društvenih znanstvenika i novinara. Lakše je bilo šetati Jugoslavijom, biti ugošćen i mlatiti praznu slamu kako je Tito “sve uspješno riješio”, nego dati se na istraživački rad i zamjeriti se svim moćnicima. Ali nemojmo zamjeriti strancima kad se to događa i među nama.
Znamo kako je hrvatska dijaspora rasprostranjena na skoro svim kontinentima, te je velika većina njih ponosna na svoje korijene i daje pozornost našoj tradiciji. Koliko naša dijaspora zapravo pridaje pozornosti obilježavanju Bleiburga? Ako govorimo o „staroj“ dijaspori, onoj koja je bježala ispod jugo-režima, njoj je obilježavanje Bleiburške tragedije važno, a još važnije joj je država Hrvatska, sudbina hrvatskog naroda općenito, čuvanje kulturnih i vjerskih tradicija itd. Njima i njihovoj djeci, rekao bih, više nego što očekujete. Za najnoviju dijasporu nisam siguran, barem za one u prekomorskim zemljama. Ne vidim da ih puno zanima ni zajedništvo u mjestima gdje žive, ni sudbina hrvatske države i naroda općenito, a kamoli Bleiburg i Križni putevi. Oni su većinom školovaniji nego prijašnja dijaspora, ali, čini mi se, pravi su individualisti i da nisu baš „ukorijenjeni“. Oni su „globalni“ pa im je hrvatsko „preusko“, no bojim se da i ne vide kako je s „globalcima“ najlakše manipulirati i žrtvovati ih za nekakve ideale koji zvuče dobro, ali su u konačnici šuplji jer su lišeni uzvišenijih vrjednota. Međutim, nadam se da će i ovaj val dijaspore pronaći svoje zajedničke ideale. Ako ne, brzo će se rasplinuti.
Koliko EU prepoznaje Bleiburšku tragediju kao neporecivi dio povijesti jedne od članica Unije? Europa je osudila sve totalitarizme, dakle i komunistički, sva njihova nedjela, sve njihove zločine. Na primjer, Parlamentarna skupština Vijeća Europe (2006.), Praška deklaracija (2008.), Rezolucija Europskog parlamenta (2009.), a imamo i Europski dan sjećanja na žrtve svih totalitarnih i autoritarnih režima itd. Ali, sve mi se čini da mnogi u ovom društvu ostaju “gluhi” na sve ovo. Ne žele prihvatiti povijesne činjenice. Njima je valjda bilo dobro, bili su poslušni i režim ih je nagrađivao, ili barem pustio u miru. Ne da im se nikako izići na svjetlo dana, gledaju unatrag u mračne dane totalitarnog režima i „faraonovo“ lažno svjetlo ih još hipnotizira.
Europa želi da se zna istina, što se dogodilo i tko je odgovoran za razne zločine. To vidimo i u sudskom procesu u Njemačkoj oko ubojstva Stjepana Đurekovića. Zato, ako su već „u Europi“ ili žele „u Europu“, moraju se odreći totalitarizma u svojim glavama i postati slobodni ljudi!
Kako Vi ocjenjujete suvremeno obilježavanje Križnog puta u Bleiburgu? Primiče se 70. obljetnica te velike tragedije i 16. svibnja bit će svečana komemoracija kod spomen-obilježja na bleiburškom polju. Svrha našeg odlaska na komemoraciju je iskazati počast žrtvama tog strašnog masovnog zločina, svima koji su nastradali na Križnim putevima i poraću, kao i onima koji su preživjeli strašne muke, od kojih većina danas počiva u miru Božjem. Nije i ne smije biti svrha komemoracije ideološka ili politička. Politizacija bilo kojih žrtava je grijeh protiv žrtava kojih se sjećamo. Bleiburg upozorava na zločine da ne bismo činili zločine, da poštujemo i cijenimo svaki život. Nije to mjesto vapaja za osvetom, nego vapaja za mirom, vapaja za bolju budućnost za koju su i oni položili živote.
Kaže se kako je povijest učiteljica života. Jesu li išta, i ako jesu, što su Hrvati naučili iz Bleiburške tragedije za nove naraštaje? Kaže se također da povijest dokazuje kako iz povijesti, nažalost, nismo ništa naučili. Zlo i sebičnost stalno izbijaju na površinu. Naravno, i ljudska dobrota. Među Hrvatima još postoji jaz koji će se premostiti onda kad prestanu lomiti koplja o prošlosti i okrenu se radu za bolju sadašnjost i budućnost, i kad političari i mediji prestanu koristiti „borbu za prošlost“ u postizanju političkih poena, a medij za svoje materijalne interese i ideološke manipulacije. Novi naraštaji trebaju znati o Bleiburgu, Križnim putevima i svim „bleiburzima“ da se takve tragedije ne bi ponovile. Trebaju znati tko su i što su, poštivati, čuvati i braniti svoje, poštivati druge i drukčije, biti ljudi mira, prvo u sebi i s drugima. Bleiburg je vapaj za sretniju budućnost Hrvatske i hrvatskog naroda. To je bio san i bleiburških žrtava!

The Role of the Hrvatski Književni list / Croatian Literary Gazette in the Croatian National Revival in the Late 1960s

 Ante Čuvalo

(Presented at the Spring Meeting of the Ohio Academy of History, Ohio Wesleyan University, April 25, 1987)

HK list br. 7Since the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918 (known as Yugoslavia after 1929), the unresolved question of inter-national relations in the country, or perhaps more correctly, a design of a Greater Serbia, has been the Achilles heel of the country.  In 1941, the state broke up because the Karadjordjević dynasty, the Belgrade regime, and the Serb-dominated bureaucracy and military treated the country merely as an expanded Serbian state.  Soon after the Second World War, the Communist Party, specifically its leader, Josip Broz Tito, proudly declared: “The national question … has been solved and to be precise, solved very well, to the general satisfaction of all our nationalities.  It has been solved in the way Lenin and Stalin have taught us…”[i]
However, centralism, unitarism, and “Yugoslavism” of the post-1945 regime were experienced by non-Serbs as expressions of the same old Serbian hegemony reinforced by Communist ideology and its claims to monopoly of power.  Slowly the Party “liberals” and intellectuals among the non-Serbs began to oppose growing powers of Belgrade and the Serbs at the expense of others.  Thus, after the ouster of the Vice-President Aleksandar Ranković in July 1966,[ii] changes began to take place; in particular, more freedom of discussion was allowed.
Leading Party “liberals” at the time attempted to control discussion on national issues by wrapping them in Marxist phraseology, but some younger intellectuals began to “unwrap” the crucial issue and started to talk more in national rather than in class terms.  The March 1967 Declaration on the Croatian Language was clearly a product of the on-going change.[iii]  The Declaration was the result of cooperation between Croatian Marxist and non-Marxist intellectuals.  It was also the first public act in which the Croatian national question was openly discussed in the post-War period.  It clearly indicated that a national revival was in the making.
HKL – First Independent Paper
In April 1968, the Hrvatski književni list (HKL) or Croatian Literary Gazette began to publish in Zagreb, capital of Croatia.  The paper, a kind of a sensation from the outset, was the first fully independent paper in the country since World War II.  Its readers fell neatly into two categories: they either enthusiastically praised it or condemned it.  However, both sides agreed that the paper, even in its short existence (April 1968 – October 1969), had a significant impact on the development of the Croatian national awakening in the late 1960s.  It also contributed to process of widening the political and social space on the unresolved economic, cultural, and even political relations of Croatia to the federal center in Belgrade.
The paper was published by the Association of Independent Writers – TIN, an organization founded in 1968 upon the unification of three smaller groups of artists: the Independent Group of Writer – TIN, Society of Worker Writers, and a small circle of writers who were in the process of forming an independent group but decided instead to join the TIN group.[iv]
The name TIN was taken in honor of a Croatian poet Tin Ujević (1891-1955), who was well-known for his bohemian life style and sharp criticism of everything that restrained freedom of the human spirit: “This is why we follow Tin.  The colors of our flag are the magnitude of the World, and power of the Letter; true Love and freedom of Truth”[v] – the paper declared.
A number of characteristics distinguished this group of writers and their paper from other literary circles in Croatia at the time.  This was the first independent paper in the country, published without any institutional or government support.  It was also the first to be identified as Croatian in its tile name.  In the first issue, the publishers stated: “The title of our paper clearly defines its [Croatian] identity and its initiators, but we explicitly emphasize that its pages are wide open to all.”[vi]  The paper also stressed its closeness to the common people, and it opened its pages to literary talents who were not acceptable to the cultural establishment.  It criticized the existing literary journals and their publishers for living in “an ivory tower” distant from the cultural needs of the people.  Because of their snobbery, HKL maintained, Croatian culture had been losing ground and its true tradition.
We ask who are the guilty ones? The immediate creators of such a cultural climate are sailing today on the Adriatic.  They are buying baroque furniture or are immersing themselves in cabalistic texts; to them everything is boring, about disappointments we will not even talk.[vii]
The editors of the new paper believed that the existing literary publications in Croatia were ignoring national heritage and local talent while showing off their supposed cosmopolitanism by paying too much attention to foreign writers and literary trends.  In their program, the TIN group announced: “We, in contrast to some other attempts, are starting in another direction – the opposite way – from the national towards the international.”[viii]  They also emphasized that their goal was to raise the cultural level of the Croatian people, not by rejecting the nation’s heritage but by building on old foundations. It was declared:
Culturally inferior people are not able to cooperate on an equal basis with other peoples.Their position will remain inferior!  That is why we firmly stand in the defense of traditions and consider its affirmation our main goal.[ix]
Socialism was accepted by these young writers, but they praised a different kind of socialism than the one they lived in:
Socialism is on our hearts, the real one, the inspired human life in socialism, full of beauty and justice; the one which our forefathers wanted for us, life free of insinuations by its enemies!  We are for truth and victory of true self/management, where we will truly govern with our voice in our realm.  We are not for social reform in word only, we are for the reform of human relations…[x]
The HKL attempted to close the existing gap between different social, regional, ideological, and even ethnic groups in Croatia.  The members of the board ranged from the best known Croatian composer of the century, Jakov Gotovac, to worker and peasant writers.  They resided in different places in the republic and came from various religious and ideological backgrounds: Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Marxist, and non-Marxist.  The paper covered a variety of subjects that other cultural literature or school textbooks had ignored since World War II.  It provided an opportunity for the younger generations of Croatians to discover their national heritage.
In the HKL, the young learned about people like Grgur Ninski, the leader of the Croatian Catholic church in the Tenth century who fought for the use of the vernacular in church liturgy;[xi] Markantun de Dominis, a Croatian humanist and “heretic” of the Sixteenth century;[xii] Ante Starčević (1823-1896), founder of the Croatian Party of Right and advocate of an independent Croatian state;[xiii] and the brothers Antun and Stjepan Radić, founders and leaders of the Croatian Peasant Party, that became the most important political force among the Croatians in the inter-war Yugoslavia.[xiv]
Testing the Waters
Besides unveiling the past, the paper slowly began to deal with the problems of the time.  A number of touchy issues were brought to the public’s attention: a massive Croatian emigration,[xv] the economy,[xvi] division of “surplus of labor,”[xvii] etatism,[xviii] resolutions of the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party,[xix] World War II casualties,[xx] and other.  The question of subordination of the Croatian language was mentioned one way or another in almost all of the gazette’s nineteen issues.  Actually, what broke the camel’s back in the eyes of the regime, as far as the existence of the paper was concerned, was the November 1969 article on the use of language in the Yugoslav armed forces by Jaka Avšič, a retired army brigadier general from Slovenia.  The regime used the article as an excuse to ban the paper.[xxi]
The board of the Republican Fund for Advancement of Cultural Activities refused to grant any financial aid to HKL.  In its explanation for the refusal, the board denounced the “conceptual and esthetic orientation of the paper,”[xxii] but without giving any specific objections to the paper’s content.  The publishers made public and legal appeals in response to the verdict, but all their efforts were in vain.  It was clear that the Party stood behind all of the anti-gazette decisions.
The paper, however, proved that it could exist on its own.  In its eighteen months of existence, its circulation tripled, from 12 to 35 thousand copies.  It had “far more [readers] than all other literary journals combined in Yugoslavia” at the time.[xxiii]  Even Party officials publicly acknowledged that “the circulation of the HKL was growing [too fast] and that the phenomenon should be examined.”[xxiv]
HKL was discussed at a number of Party meetings including those of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (CC LCC).  The paper was unanimously condemned by all of them.  At one such meeting Party members declared that “some papers and magazines” in Croatia, “especially the HKL,”
insist on a re-evaluation of the recent Croatian cultural and political past. Hrvatski književni list, from issue to issue, publishes treatises from cultural history in which it tries to correct the judgments of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia….[xxv]
Although the official reaction to the appearance of the HKL was one of condemnation, Party leadership did not ban the paper immediately or confront the publishers with trials and imprisonments.  This was a major departure from traditional dealings with “nationalist elements.”  The bulk of public confrontation with the paper and its publishers was “delegated” to those who were “paid to write,”[xxvi] to the Zagreb Committee of the LC, and to other groups under Party control.  Their duty was to discredit the paper on intellectual, esthetic, and ideological levels.  One of the chief accusations was that the paper dealt only with ghosts of the past and not with present needs and problems.  But once the paper began to discuss contemporary problems, especially economic ones, it was attacked for meddling in political issues.[xxvii]
Under Fire
The most vehement attacks on the paper, as well as on the alleged rise of nationalism, came from Miloš Žanko, Vice-President of the Yugoslav Federal Assembly at the time, a Party “conservative” from Croatia.  His fierce onslaughts, however, came without the blessing of the republican Party leadership in Zagreb.  He wrote a series of articles in Borba, the Party organ, immediately before the Third Plenum of the CCLC of Croatia (February 21, 1969).  It was obvious that he was not only condemning the alleged rise of nationalism but also putting pressure on the Central Committee LC in Croatia to change its “liberal” policies.  Eventually, those articles and another series published in the same paper from November 17 to 21, 1969 cost him his political career.
Even though the Central Committee condemned the paper and the Zagreb League of Communists in July 1969 declared that the paper “has formulated ideas and a political program directly opposed to the policies of the League of Communists,”[xxviii] its publication continued.  The Party’s new method of dealing with the situation was expressed by an official who stated at a Zagreb meeting on “socio-political questions” (May 1969) that the Party must face “certain problems” and influence them “not by decrees, but more often by contacts, arguments, and confrontations.”[xxix]  Because of such new tactics, the paper and its supporters experienced constant “confrontations” which in reality were blatant harassments.  For example, the post office would simply “fail” to deliver the paper to the readers.  Or teachers would “caution” students not to read it.[xxx]  Borba announced that workers in various print shops in Croatia refused to print the paper because of its anti-socialist ideological content, and for that reason, Borba alleged, its printing site was changed four times, ultimately moving to Ljubljana, Slovenia.          HKL, however, maintained that it had excellent relations with workers but was required to change printers in Croatia because of financial reasons and strikes in printing plants.  The paper also accused “political and administrative” officials of putting pressure on the printers in order to prevent its publication.[xxxi]  But when the paper ceased publishing in October 1969, it was alleged that workers in the name of self-management refused to print it.  Hence, Savka Dapčević-Kučar, President of the Central Committee LC of Croatia, boasted at the Tenth session of the CCLC of Croatia (1970) that the paper “died out without being banned.”[xxxii]  In 1974, however, one high Party official in Croatia openly stated that the paper had been practically “banned.”[xxxiii]
Hrvatski književni list had an important impact on the development of the Croatian national movement in the late 1960s.  Most of all, it tested the waters before the movement shifted into a higher gear after the Tenth Plenum of the CCLC of Croatia in January 1970.  It is interesting to note that the paper did not attract open support among most of the best known names in contemporary literary life in Croatia, as the Party leadership was proud to point out.[xxxiv]  But neither did they come out against it.  There are several possible explanations for why the Croatian cultural establishment as a whole did not lend its name to HKL.  As mentioned earlier, the paper distanced itself from that establishment from its beginning.  After the affair with the Declaration on the Croatian Language, the leading intellectuals and institutions possibly held back in order to see what would happen to HKL and the people associated with it, individuals who were younger in age and less known.  But even more importantly, while declaring that it accepted socialism as an ideal the paper and its publishers were critical of socialism as implemented in Croatia and the country as a whole.  At the same time, mainstream Croatian intellectuals began to accept the “liberal” platform of the Party, deciding to work through the existing system.
While HKL was still in existence, new cultural periodicals began to appear in Croatia.  They followed the course charted by HKL.  However, these new periodicals had firmer ground to stand upon than an independent paper like HKL.  They were published by old and established institutions like Matica hrvatska (Latin: Matrix Croatica), the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences or the Writers’ Association of Croatia.  Their contributors were leading professors at the Zagreb University and other intellectuals, many of them active members of the Communist Party.
One semi-official interpretation alleges that there was a “conspiracy” between individuals associated with HKL and the mainstream intellectual establishment in Croatia.  Allegedly, Hrvatski književni list served as a diversion while other forces, namely those around Matica hrvatska, were better organized[xxxv].  Although there is no evidence of such “plot” the proponents of the regime felt the need to create such theories in order to justify the persecutions of the students, intellectuals, and others in the post-Croatian Spring period (December 1971 and after).  However, the paper might have attracted too much of the Party’s attention and that provided more space for other groups of intellectuals in Croatia to strengthen their position.
HKL also had a mobilizing and unifying effect among the Croatians at large.  From its beginning in April 1968, the number of readers grew quickly.  By informing them about their culture, history, as well as contemporary problems and inequalities, it increased the interest of the readers, especially the younger generation, in their national past and present, as well as in the future prospects.  Its liberal socialist tone also provided a platform for national reconciliation between the Marxists and non-Marxist, even anti-Marxists.
Probably the most significant contribution of the Croatian Literary Gazette was that it served as a catalyst in the process of differentiation within the communist party elites in Croatia.  On one side, Žanko and the “conservatives” attacked HKL and the growth of the national movement in general.  On the other, “liberals” were relatively silent about the issues raised by the paper.  The “liberals” regarded Belgrade unitarism as a greater threat to the country and the system than an open discussion of national history and inter-national relations in the Federation.  However, many of the “liberals” of 1969 became “neo-conservatives” before the 21st Session of the Presidium of the CC LCY on December 1, 1971, which marked the end of the Croatian national movement, know also as the Croatian Spring.  Among those who were purged or jailed after December 1971 were many of the contributors to HKL, despite the fact that its publishing was halted in October 1969.  Zlatko Tomičić, its founder and editor, was sentenced to a five-year jail term.  The Croatian national movement was crushed.  The Party’s “democratic centralism” was strengthened, and inter-national relations in Yugoslavia continue to be unresolved.


“Declaration Concerning the Name and Position of the Croatian Literary Language” Journal of Croatian Studies Vol. 7-8, 1966-67, pp. 6-9.
Deseta sjednica CK SK Hrvatske. Zagreb: Vjesnik, 1970.
Bilić, Jure. Revolucija koja teče. Zagreb: Narodno sveučilište, 1975.
Haberl, Othmar Nikola. Parteiorganisation und nationale Frage in Jugoslawien. Berlin: Otto Harrassowitz, 1976,
Hondius, Frits W. The Yugoslav Community of Nations. The Hague: Mounto, 1968.
Ostojić, Stevo. Javni dnevnik. Zagreb: Globus, 1980.
Perić, Ivan. Suvremeni hrvatski nacionalizam. Zagreb: August Cesarec, 1976.
Newspapers and Journals
Encyclopaedia Moderna
Hrvatski književni list (HKL)
Vjesnik u sijedu

[i]                    Cited in Frits W. Hondius, The Yugoslav Community of Nations. The Hague: Mounto, 1968, p. 182, n. 347.
[ii]     The Fourth Plenum of the CC LCY was held on the Brioni Islands on July 1, 1966. It is best known for the removal of Aleksandar Ranković from his high positions in the communist party, government, and police.
[iii]    “Declaration Concerning the Name and Position of the Croatian Literary Language” was published in Telegram on March 17, 1967. Its English translation is found in Journal of Croatian Studies Vol. 7-8, 1966-67, pp. 6-9.
[iv]    Hrvatski književni list (HKL) No. 1, April 1968.
[v]     Ibid.
[vi]    Ibid. A number of writers from other republics and nationalities did contribute to the paper during its short existence.
[vii]    Ibid.
[viii]   Ibid.
[ix]    Ibid.
[x]     Ibid.
[xi]    Ibid., No. 14, June 1969.
[xii]    Ibid., No. 7, October 1968.
[xiii]   Ibid., No. 13, May 1969.
[xiv]   Ibid., No. 7, October 1968.
[xv]    Ibid., No. 8, November 1968.
[xvi]   Ibid., No. 17, September 1969.
[xvii]  Ibid., No. 11, February 1969.
[xviii]  Ibid., No. 17, September 1969.
[xix]   Ibid., No. 12, April 1969.
[xx]    Ibid., No. 15, July 1969.
[xxi]   The article by Avšič was published in Sodobnost (Slovenia) No. 4, 1970, pp. 408-427 and in Encyclopaedia Moderna (Croatia) No. 12, Spring 1970, pp. 111-119.
[xxii]  HKL No. 3, June 1968.
[xxiii]  Ibid.
[xxiv]  As cited in Stevo Ostojić, Javni dnevnik. Zagreb: Globus, 1980, p. 169.
[xxv]  Plenum of the EC CC LC of Croatia held on May 26, 1969, as in Politika, May 27, 1969.
[xxvi]  HKL No. 9, December 1968; Vjesnik April 20, 1968; Ibid., December 14 and 28, 1968; Ibid., February 15, 1969; Vjesnik u srijedu December 25, 1968; Ibid., January 25 and 29, 1969, and August 13, 1969.
[xxvii] HKL No. 15, July 1969.
[xxviii] Borba July 20, 1969 as cited in Othmar Nikola Haberl, Parteiorganisation und nationale Frage in Jugoslawien. Berlin: Otto Harrassowitz, 1976, p. 116.
[xxix]  As cited in Ostojić, Javni dnevnik, p. 169.
[xxx]  See, for example, HKL No. 10, January 1969.
[xxxi]  Ibid. No. 15, July 1969.
[xxxii] Deseta sjednica CK SK Hrvatske. Zagreb: Vjesnik, 1970, p. 16.
[xxxiii] Jure Bilić, Revolucija koja teče. Zagreb: Narodno sveučilište, 1975, p. 222.
[xxxiv] Deseta sjednica, p. 16.
[xxxv] Ivan Perić, Suvremeni hrvatski nacionalizam. Zagreb: August Cesarec, 1976, p. 17.




Military Chaplain Rev. Vjenceslav Vukonić, OFM

Written exclusively for the 1930 edition of Our Hope Croatian Almanac. Croatian Catholic Union U.S.A. Pages 117-138

Republished on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Prepared and translated by Duško Čondić and Ante Čuvalo.


Piše: Rev. Vjenceslav Vukonić (vojni kapelan u ratu)

(Naročito i isključivo za Kalendar N. N.)

Objavljeno u: Naša Nada Kalendar za američke katoličke Hrvate za opću godinu 1930. 

Hrvatska katolička zajednica U.S.A. Amerike; uredio ga Rev. Mijo Đuro Domladovac.

 Tiskara: Ameriška Domovina, Cleveland. st. 117-138.

Priredio Ante Čuvalo za ponovnu objavu prigodom 100. obljetnice početka Prvog svjetskog rata. Continue reading

Fra Dominik Mandić – prve godine u Americi: Novi svijet i novi izazovi


Fra Dominik Mandić – prve godine u Americi

Novi svijet i novi izazovi

dr. Ante Čuvalo


Objavljeno u:
Fra Dominik Mandić (1889. – 1973) – Zbornik radova sa znanstvenog simpozija održanog u prigodi 40. obljetnice njegove smrti (Mostar – Široki Brijeg, 24. i 25. listopada 2013.) Mostar – Zagreb: Herc. franj. provincija i Hrvatski institut za povijest, 2014, st. 81-109.
Sažetak: Svrha je ovog priloga osvrnuti se na djelovanje fra Dominika Mandića od njegova dolaska u Sjedinjene Američke Države (1951.) do kraja njegova starješinskog mandata (1955.) u komisarijatu hrvatskih (odnosno hercegovačkih) franjevaca u Sjevernoj Americi. Da bi se to moglo dolično sagledati, potrebno je njegovo djelovanje staviti u povijesni okvir hrvatske emigracije toga vremena, o čemu ću također donijeti kratak prikaz. Na kraju slijede neke prosudbe o fra Dominiku Mandiću, pa i one koje ukazuju na neke njegove ljudske slabosti, da bismo imali što potpuniju sliku njegova lika i djela. Ovaj se prikaz temelji gotovo isključivo na dokumentima koji se nalaze u njegovoj ostavštini.
Ključne riječi: Dominik Mandić, Sjedinjene Američke Države, komisarijat hrvatskih franjevaca, komisar, hrvatska emigracija.
Fra Dominik Mandić: His First Years in America: A New World and New Challenges
Abstract: The purpose of this contribution is to reflect on the work of Fr. Dominik Mandić from the time of his arrival to the United States (1951), until the end of his term as Superior General in the Commissariat of the Croatian (Hercegovinian) Franciscans in North America (1955). In order to have a better assessment of the work of Fr. Mandić after his arrival to the United States, it is necessary to place his activities in the historical context and framework of the Croatian diaspora of the time. Therefore, a short review of this period will be given. The article will present not only Mandić’s virtues but also his human failings. Thus, we will have a more complete picture of his character and his undertakings. This paper is based almost exclusively on the documents that he left behind at the time of his death.
Key words: Dominik Mandić; United States of America; Commissariat of the Croatian Franciscans; Commisar; Croatian Emigration
Dolazak u Ameriku
Fra Dominik Mandić u Sjedinjene Američke Države stigao je 5. studenog 1951. godine.[1] Posjet mu je bio službene naravi. Naime, poslan je od vrhovne uprave Reda Manje braće (OFM) iz Rima obaviti generalnu vizitaciju u Komisarijatu sv. obitelji hrvatskih franjevaca u Americi. Takvi su pohodi svake tri godine uobičajeni i svrha im je sagledavanje stanja u kojem se nalaze pojedinci i zajednica, da bi se lakše mogle donijeti smjernice rada prigodom izbora novog vodstva komisarijata.
Vizitacija je trajala od 19. studenog 1951. do 16. siječnja 1952.[2]  U pismu (3. Siječnja 1952.) fra Vitomiru Jeličiću, članu bosanske franjevačke provincije i tadašnjem generalnom definitoru vrhovne uprave Reda u Rimu, Mandić kaže da nakon vizitacije u Americi kani ostati do proljeća i zatim se vratiti u Rim.[3]
O svoja prva dva mjeseca u Americi 9. siječnja 1952. piše svom bliskom prijatelju i prijeratnom suradniku u političkom i društvenom radu u Hercegovini, gospodinu Žarku Vlahi u Buenos Aires: “Glavni dio mog službenoga posla već sam svršio.
Bio sam do sada u N. Yorku, Clevelandu, Youngstownu, Sharonu, Ambridgu, Pittsburghu, Rankinu, Steeltonu, Bethlehemu, Philadelphiju[!], Baltimoru, Washingtonu, Bostonu, Albany, Baffalo, slapovi Niagare, S. Beneventure’s University kod Oleana, St. Louis, Teutopolisu, Milwaukee. Putovao sam zrakom, željeznicom, a najviše kolima/automobilom. Redovito me je pratio snijeg, ali hvala Bogu, nijesam nigdje imao težega incidenta. Osim fratara i svjetovnih svećenika, u Washingtonu sam posjetio Dra Mačeka i Dra Kreka, a u Syracusi prof. Meštrovića, u N.Y. Ovdje u Milwaukee bili su kod mene u posjetima više mlađih hrvatskih intelektualaca i javnih radnika. Još se upoznajem sa ovdašnjim prilikama, ali općenito već sada svima savjetujem pomirljivost, slogu, složan rad za Hrvatsku na osnovu kršćanskih vječnih načela. Službeno još ću imati posla jedno mjesec dana, a onda ću se malo više pozabaviti ovdašnjim općim vjerskim i narodnim problemima, koji su u vezi s Hrvatskim narodom. Ovdje mislim ostati do na proljeće, a onda ću se povratiti u Italiju, po svoj prilici na kraće vrijeme, jer braća žele da bi došao stalno u USA.”[4]
Sudeći po izvješćima, fra Dominik je bio zadovoljan prilikama u komisarijatu te životom i radom njegovih članova. U spomenutom pismu Jeličiću kaže da se među braćom “osjeća kao kod kuće” i da mu Amerika “dobro prija za zdravlje: sdebljao sam se 7 – 8 funti”. Ali njegovi dojmovi o Americi i američkoj kulturi bili su izrazito negativni pa Jeličiću piše da mu “Amerika mnogo ne prija: premalo se osjeća duha i kulture, a previše materije i trke za novcem. Istina, ja sam se cijeli život bavio s ekonomskim pitanjima, ali sam uvijek taj rad zaslađivao s duhovnim vrednotama, s pastoralnim radom i sa kulturnim nastojanjima i kršćanskim umjetničkim užicima, što manjka u Americi. Ovdje je sve stavljeno na utilitarističku bazu. Ako propovijedaš ili ispovijedaš, dobit ćeš novčanu plaću, ako komu učiniš bilo koju uslugu ili djelo kršćanskog milosrđa, bit ćeš nagrađen novcem. Novac je u Americi mjerilo svakoga rada i svakoga uspjeha. Šport se više cijeni nego znanost, a za umjetnost nemaju gotovo nikakva smisla ni crkveni ljudi, a da ne govorim o svjetovnim ljudima i američkim bogatašima. Ovo mi je sve odvratno, i ne čini mi Ameriku lijepom ni privlačnom.”[5]
Mandićevi dojmovi o Americi tipični su za ljude koji u nju prvi put stignu iz Europe. No kad u njoj ostanu i pobliže je upoznaju, većina je i zavoli. To se dogodilo i fra Dominiku. Ali i prije dolaska američka pomoć, odnosno pomoć franjevačkih zajednica, različitih organizacija i pojedinaca, bila mu je dobrodošla i draga, posebice tijekom izgradnje velebne franjevačke crkve i zgrade središnje uprave Reda u Rimu, kao i u pomaganju izbjeglicama te mnogim ljudima i crkvenim ustanovama u Domovini u poratnim godinama.
Njegovi planovi nekoć su zasigurno bili da se poslije službovanja u Rimu i ratnog vihora vrati u Provinciju. No vjerojatno se već pri kraju rata, posebice kad je saznao za komunističke zločine na Širokom Brijegu u veljači 1945., te prije i nakon toga, otrijeznio od svakog jugoslavenstva pa ga je životni put umjesto u Hercegovinu doveo u Ameriku, gdje je nastavio svoj rad, u prvom redu kao starješina hrvatskog franjevačkog komisarijata. Kroz nakladništvo nastoji doprinijeti radu za slobodu hrvatskog naroda, što čini i slanjem pomoći najugroženijima, a uskoro se posve posvetio povijesnim pitanjima hrvatskog srednjovjekovlja, posebice povijesti Bosne i Hercegovine.
Ostanak u Americi i imenovanje za starješinu
Nakon završene vizitacije fra Dominik je 21. siječnja 1952. napisao izvješće vrhovnoj upravi Reda, u kojem je između ostalog izvijestio da je Komisarijat sv. obitelji utemeljen 1926., a godine 1931. bio predan u okrilje Hercegovačke franjevačke provincije, da ima 35 svećenika, jednog brata laika, 3 studenta filozofije i 16 sjemeništaraca. Od svećenika su 32 bila iz hercegovačke provincije, jedan iz zagrebačke, jedan iz bosanske i jedan iz američke provincije Presvetog Srca Isusova.
Od ukupnog broja, 7 svećenika bilo je rođeno u Americi, 12 ih je došlo u Ameriku prije rata, a 16 iza rata. Komisarijat je tada imao rezidenciju sv. Ante u Chicagu i služio 10 hrvatskih župa u Americi, i to u sljedećim mjestima: New York, Bethlehem, Steelton, Ambridge, Sharon, St. Louis, Chicago, South Chicago, Milwaukee i West Allis. Osim toga fratri su imali tiskaru u kojoj su, između ostalog, tiskali svoja izdanja: tjednik Danicu, mjesečnik Hrvatski katolički glasnik i godišnjak Hrvatski kalendar.
Izvijestio je da su prilike u komisarijatu dobre u svakom pogledu: u duhovnom, pastoralnom i materijalnom. Treba napomenuti da je mjesec dana ranije provincijalu u Mostaru između ostalog napisao: “Malo ima podijeljenosti između onih koji su prije došli u Ameriku i ovih novijih, i to glavno političke naravi, ali nema jačih mana, hvala Bogu, niti neliječivih zavada.”[6]
Za izbor starješine/komisara najviše glasova dobio je tadašnji starješina fra Vendelin Vasilj (18) a sljedeći po dobivenim glasovima bio je fra Ferdinand Skoko (10). Mandić je predložio novu upravu kako slijedi: starješina fra Vendelin Vasilj, a savjetnici fra David Zrno, fra Ferdinand Skoko i fra Božidar Benković.[7]7 Usprkos željama većine članova komisarijata, vrhovna uprava Reda u Rimu nije poslušala “glas naroda”, nego je 27. veljače 1952. fra Dominika Mandića imenovala starješinom Komisarijata sv. obitelji.
U cirkularnom pismu od 28. veljače 1952. upućenom svim članovima zajednice Mandić javlja da je imenovan komisarom i dodaje da je njegov plan bio ustoličiti novo starješinstvo koje je on predložio po volji većine fratara, zatim se malo odmoriti, vratiti se u Rim i raditi na povjerenoj mu dužnosti, nadajući se povoljnu trenutku za povratak u Domovinu. “Tako sam ja snovao i mislio, ali Bog je drugačije odredio. Vrhovno Starješinstvo Reda zaključilo je, da ostanem ovdje i da preuzmem upravu ovog Komisarijata. Ja iz vlastitog iskustva znam, da Gospodin posebno blagosivlje sv. posluh, i da je za redovnika najbolje, ako u svemu postupi prema željama i prema odluci zakonitih starješina. Tako je glasio i savjet sadašnjeg Komisara, mngp. O. Vasilja, i druge viđenije braće, s kojima sam se mogao posavjetovati.”[8]
Za članove komisarijatskog vijeća imenovani su od vrhovne uprave Reda: fra Vendelin Vasilj, fra David Zrno, fra Ferdinand Skoko i fra Božidar Benković. Mandić u spomenutom cirkularnom pismu poziva fra Vendelina “da i u buduće radi u Upravi komisarijata kao Vicekomisar sa istom požrtvovnošću i ljubavlju, s kojom je dosada radio u Komisarijatu”.[9] Zanimljivo je da u dopisu kojim provincijal fra Mile Leko definitorima hercegovačke provincije (31. ožujka 1952.) javlja imenovanje nove uprave u Chicagu, ne spominje fra Vendelina Vasilja nego samo Zrnu, Skoku i Benkovića,[10] a Mandić u spomenutom dopisu piše da je Vasilj imenovan za vicekomisara.
U više pisama napisanih prijateljima uskoro nakon imenovanja za komisara Mandić naglašava da je bio iznenađen odlukom vrhovne uprave Reda i da je prihvatio dužnost komisara “kao čisti čin sv. posluha”. On to toliko ponavlja da se može posumnjati da možda i nije sve bilo kako na prvi pogled izgleda ili kako je on to predstavio. U njegovoj ostavštini ima znakova da se ipak “nešto kuhalo” i prije njegova imenovanja, posebice zato što su i on i njegov nasljednik u vrhovnoj upravi, fra Vitomir Jeličić, znali da tadašnji hercegovački provincijal fra Mile Leko nije bio zadovoljan sa starješinstvom fra Vendelina Vasilja i da se nadao da će novi starješina biti netko drugi, možda Mandić.[11]
U pismu od 15. siječnja 1952. provincijal Leko piše fra Dominiku: “Mišljenja sam, da će biti najbolje, ako Vi, tu s braćom u sporazumu, sve svršite. Razumije se uz odobrenje Gen. Definitorija. Kod toga ćete sigurno uzeti u obzir i naše stanje i prilike, pa ne ćete ništa uraditi, što bi nama moglo biti in gravamen. Ne poznavajući dovoljno tamošnje prilike i stanje, da se odovuda daju definitivne decizije, situacija bi mogla nastati još zamršenija. Jedino je, što želim – in quantum possum – nalažem, da se [ne] upliću u političke zadjevice i trvenja. Svi znamo iz iskustva, koliko su nam takve stvari nanijele štete a nikakve koristi. Preporučite im savjet izabrane posude učeniku Timoteju: Nemo se implicat negotiis saecularibus. – Uostalom, za ono, što me pitate, obratit ću se i pp. Definitorima.”[12]
U pismu od 15. veljače 1952. generalni definitor fra Vitomir Jeličić javlja Mandiću da se na sastanku definitorija govorilo o Mandićevu imenovanju za komisara i da bi to bilo “zgodno” za komisarijat i za njega. “Da bi bili rado primljeni od sve braće u Komisarijatu, o tome nije nitko sumnjao. Općenito se međutim istaklo, da bi to i za Vas lično bio podesniji položaj nego što je onaj ovdje u sv. Anti i da bi se Vi tamo bolje osjećali, pogotovo među svojim, nego u novom ambijentu u Rimu, gdje nemate onog položaja, koji bi odgovarao Vama.”[13] U istom pismu Jeličić naglašava da će on sa svoje strane “nastojati da ispadne onako kao što Vi želite” te da je govorio s generalom Reda i da i on misli da bi se Mandić bolje osjećao u Americi nego na novoj dužnosti u Rimu.
Mandić (20. veljače 1952.) odgovara Jeličiću da mu je vijest o namjeri generalnog definitorija da ga imenuje komisarom došla “neočekivano”. “Ja na to nijesam mislio.”
Kad je pismo primio, otišao je u kapelicu i molio da Isus i njegova Majka “nadahnu Gen. Def. da donese odluku, koja bi bila najbolja za Red i ovaj Komisarijat”. Neka definitorij “zaključi, kako smatra najboljim. Ni s moje ni sa strane druge braće u Komisarijatu ne će imati poteškoća”.[14] Rezultat Mandićevih molitava bio je njegovo imenovanje za komisara, kako je već rečeno, 27. veljače 1952. godine.
Upitna legitimnost
Mandić je legalno imenovan za komisara, ali legitimnost njegova starješinskog mandata kod većine tadašnjih fratara u komisarijatu bila je i ostala upitna. Zajednica nije imala izbora nego ga prihvatiti za starješinu, ali pratio ga je gorak okus da je nametnut. Činjenica je da je Mandić nakon imenovanja za komisara dobio od prijatelja i poznanika lijep broj čestitaka koje je on sačuvao u svojoj arhivi, ali dok pozdravi i čestitke stižu od fratara i drugih iz Europe (Mostara, Splita, Sarajeva, Rima, Španjolske, Švicarske….) i Amerike, nisu pristizale od fratara iz komisarijata. Možda je bilo protestnih pisama, ali u njegovoj ostavštini takvih poruka nema.
Jedino se u njegovu pismu (12. ožujka 1952.) fra Špiri Andrijaniću može zamijetiti da mu je ovaj prije toga “nabacio” što se priča o njegovu imenovanju. Mandić piše: “Što ste iz Italije čuli, to su bablji poslovi. Ja na to [imenovanje] prije nijesam mislio, niti sam s kim o tome govorio. Ako je tko što pisao, bila je njegova lična kombinacija i nagađanje.”[15]
Stav fra Vendelina Vasilja prema Mandićevu imenovanju bio je otvoreno negativan, a zasigurno u tome nije bio usamljen. Mandić i njegovo starješinstvo prihvaćeno je iz poslušnosti, kako se i očekivalo, ali većina se tome nije radovala, što je dovelo i do opadanja Mandićeva ugleda. Odnosi su bili službeni. Kako je fra Dominik bio navikao da ga svi vjerno i radosno poslužuju, čini se da ga je fra Vendelinov stav iznenadio. U pismu fra Tugomiru Soldi (12. ožujka 1952.) o tome piše: “Jedino mi je teško, što viđu da je O. Vendelinu žao, što nije potvrđen za daljni trijenij, i što misli, da sam ja želio i radio da dobijem ovu službu. Neraspoložen je, i teškom sam ga mukom nagovorio da ostane u Chicagu i preuzme gvardijansku, glavnu službu poslije Komisara, u našem komisarijatu. Ja O. Vendelina cijenim i volim, i bit ću srećan, ako on htjedne sarađivati na opće dobro braće i Komisarijata.”[16]16 U pismu od 15. ožujka 1952. fra Baziliju Pandžiću Mandić slično piše: “Od svega mi je najteže, da je bivšem Komisaru žao da je smjenjen, i što misli, da sam ja kao vizitator radio da dobijem ovo mjesto. Ali hvala Bogu! Moj će posluh biti zaslužniji pred Bogom.”[17]
Mandić fra Vendelina za svog zamjenika vjerojatno nije postavio samo da mu ublaži “neraspoloženje”, nego da mu on kao mlad, sposoban i agilan subrat budne desna ruka u vođenju komisarijata. Naime, Mandić je došao u svijet koji nije poznavao.
U prvom redu nije znao engleski jezik (niti je ikada njime ovladao). Nisu mu bile poznate prilike među Hrvatima u Americi ni način na koji funkcioniraju hrvatske župe u toj zemlji i njihov odnos s mjesnim biskupijama, kao i odnos naroda prema svećenicima. Tu je i činjenica da on nije nikada bio “pastoralac”, a služenje na župama bila je glavna misija komisarijata i njegovih članova. On se u zajednicu, u nove prilike i novi svijet kao padobranom spustio računajući da će mu fra Vendelin voditi dnevne poslove, a on one “važnije”, za koje je smatrao da su na visini njegova ugleda i dostojanstva.
Izgleda da mu je ovu ideju o fra Vendelinovoj ulozi natuknuo i fra Tugomir Soldo u pismu iz Rima (28. veljače 1952.), u kojem piše: “Indiskrecijom sam doznao, da Vam je sa strane Definitorija ponuđena služba Komisara u našem Komisarijatu. I radi toga ne mogu a da Vam ne pišem. Najljepše Vas molim, da prihvatite tu službu.
To će biti u interesu Provincije i Komisarijata. Vi ste auktoritet i Vama ne će biti teško sa braćom upravljati, i svi će Vas slušati. Ja znam, da Vam je više dosta upravljanskih služba, ali sbog dobra zajednice prihvatite se i ovaj put. A da olakšate sebi posao, zadržite uza se Vendelina. Neka Vam bude desna ruka. Mlad je, agilan je i prodoran je, pa Vam posao neće biti težak. Tako ćete moći privesti kraju Tavelića mučeništvo, dokumente franjevačke prošlosti i napisati studiju svoje crkve, a svojim auktoritetom, znanjem i iskustvom bit ćete od velike koristi braći i Kustodiji.”[18]
Na Mandićevo razočaranje, fra Vendelin nije odigrao ulogu “sluge pokornoga” pa se za vrijeme svog mandata novi komisar ponajviše oslanjao na fra Ferdu Skoku, tadašnjeg župnika župe sv. Jeronima u Chicagu i člana uprave zajednice, kojega je na kraju svog mandata (1955.), valjda iz zahvalnosti, predložio za nasljednika.
Njegov je prijedlog u Rimu i prihvaćen, premda mu tadašnji generalni definitor fra Inocent Zrinski, franjevac zagrebačke provincije, o tome piše: “Za mene je to [da je predložio Skoku za starješinu] bila neka zagonetka, jer se iz Vaše relazije iz godine 1952. vidi, da niste bili baš oduševljeni za njega.”[19]
Rim – ukloniti i sjenu Mandićeve moći
Opće je mišljenje među fratrima u komisarijatu bilo da se nakon 12 godina (1939.- 1951.) njegove “vladavine” uprava u Rimu htjela osloboditi Mandića i njegova utjecaja te ga je zato poslala u daleku Ameriku. Tako fra Ivo Sivrić u svojim uspomenama “bez dlake na jeziku” zapisa: ”…vrhovna uprava franjevačkog Reda u Rimu formalno je potjerala fra Dominika iz Rima, imenovavši ga starješinom hrvatskih franjevaca u SAD”.[20] Moglo bi se reći da ga je uprava Reda za utjehu “promovirala” za komisara da mu to posluži kao stepenica pri “spuštanju” s vrhunaca moći u Rimu prema nizinama zemaljskim. Po završetku svog definitorskog mandata u vrhovnoj upravi Mandić je “28. srpnja 1951. imenovan upraviteljem franjevačke tiskare u Rimu koju je osnovao i koju je sve dotada uglavnom vodio”.[21] Ali, kako mu napisa i definitor Jeličić u citiranom pismu od 15. veljače 1952., položaj komisara u Americi bio mu je “podesniji” nego onaj u Rimu pa je vjerovati da je i Mandić bez oklijevanja prihvatio tu ideju ili ju je i sam priželjkivao i prije dolaska u Ameriku.
Mostar – ušutkati nepodobne
Ima pokazatelja da je za Mandićev odlazak u Ameriku i imenovanje za starješinu postojao i drugi, politički, motiv. Naime, u tadašnjoj franjevačkoj upravi u Hercegovini i šire vjerovalo se da on svojim autoritetom može ušutkati ili barem stišati glas domoljubnih “ekstremista” među tamošnjim hrvatskim fratrima u Americi, koje je režim redovito proglašavao ne samo ustašama, nego neke od njih i zločincima, čak i neke koji su u Americi bili još i prije Drugog svjetsko rata – fra Ljubu Čuvala, na primjer. Smatralo se da njihov rad u Americi nanosi štetu fratrima u Hercegovini i šire. Da se o tome govorilo i u Rimu, svjedoči pismo koje fra Dominik (24. studenog 1952. – tijekom posjeta Rimu) piše uredniku Danice fra Častimiru Majiću: “U Kuriji su uvjereni, da su zadnja zatvaranja i osude u Mostaru posljedica politiziranja hercegovačkih franjevaca u USA i pisanja Danice. Ovdje je mišljenje, da se Danica pretvori u opće kulturni i katolički tjednik ili da se preda u ruke svjetovnjaka. Uspio sam da se ne donosi nikakva odluka, nego da se prepusti nama da stvar uredimo, kako će biti najbolje za hrvatsku i katoličku stvar i u USA i u staroj domovini Hrvatskoj.”[22]
Tadašnji provincijal fra Mile Leko u spomenutom pismu od 15. siječnja 1952. Piše Mandiću: ”…[B]iti [će] najbolje, ako Vi, tu [u Americi] s braćom u sporazumu, sve svršite. Razumije se uz odobrenje Gen. Definitorija. Kod toga ćete sigurno uzeti u obzir i naše stanje i prilike, pa ne ćete ništa uraditi, što bi nama moglo biti in gravamen.” A ovu pomalo kodiranu poruku provincijal razjašnjava u pismu fra Baziliju Pandžiću nakon Mandićeva imenovanja za komisara: “Sve nas je ugodno razveselila vijest, da je naš bivši mnp. Definitor sad tamo u USA Komisar. Prije s Vendelinom[23] nije bilo sretna kombinacija ni za braću onamo a pogotovo za nas ovamo. To sam rekao bivšem Definitoru, a sadašnji zna to vrlo dobro. Stoga mi je drago i zahvaljujem Bogu, što je ovako učinjeno, te se molimo, da bude okrunjeno dobrim uspjehom.”[24] Dakle, bivši definitor, to jest Mandić, i Jeličić (njegov nasljednik) bili su upoznati s mišljenjem fra Mile Leke o fra Vendelinovoj “nepodobnosti” i željama provincijala da on ne bude ponovo izabran za starješinu.
U pismu iz Splita (6. svibnja 1952.) koje je potpisao fra Karlo (iz teksta se vidi da je to bio fra Karlo Nola, tadašnji provincijal splitske franjevačke provincije) stoji i sljedeće: “Drago mi je Vaše imenovanje za komisara, a i čestitam. Znam, da je to Vama sada teže, ali glede nas ovamo dobro je, da ste Vi tamo, da smirujete duhove; a i toga nam treba.”[25]
Treba imati na umu da su fra Mile Leko, fra Vitomir Jeličić i fra Karlo Nola bili bliski prijatelji fra Dominika Mandića i vodeći čimbenici među fratrima koji su prihvatili ideju suživota s jugo-komunističkim režimom. Prva su dvojica bila članovi svećeničkog udruženja “Dobri Pastir” u Bosni i Hercegovini, a potonji je bio na osnivačkoj skupštini udruženja u Sarajevu 25. i 26. siječnja 1950. i jedan od govornika na tom skupu.[26] Nadalje, kako se može vidjeti iz arhiva UDB-e, Nola je još 1947. savjetovao fratrima u svojoj provinciji da “moraju pomagati Narodnu vlast i nastojati da dodje do modus vivendi izmedju crkve i države. Upozorio ih je na činjenicu da je u FNRJ riješeno Hrvatsko pitanje sa kojim mogu biti oni zadovoljni, te da smo tako osigurani od naših vanjskih neprijatelja Italijana i Njemaca.
Ne smiju se nikako sastajati sa narodnim neprijateljima i moramo pomagati obnovu zemlje.”[27] Također, Nola je 5. rujna 1949. izvijestio ministra unutarnjih poslova NR Hrvatske Stevu Krajačića “da je kao vizitator u Hercegovini u svibnju te godine nastojao i uspio da u upravu Hercegovačke franjevačke provincije budu izabrani ‘ljudi snošljivi prema narodnoj vlasti’”.[28]
Fra Dominik Mandić je, blago rečeno, “imao razumijevanja” za svećenike/fratre koji su utemeljili svećeničko udruženje “Dobri Pastir” i kao generalni definitor bio njihov zaštitnik u Rimu. Pravdao je njihova djela i namjere koliko je mogao kod generala franjevačkog reda i u Vatikanu, a i general i Vatikan su bili protiv toga udruženja. On (10. ožujka 1950.) piše bosanskom provincijalu fra Jozi Markušiću “da je zagovarao Udruženje na odgovornim mjestima, koja hoće da svećenici čuvaju neokaljanu katoličku vjeru i crkvenu stegu”. Preporučuje mu da paze na to. “Neka sve nastoje raditi u dogovoru s biskupima.”[29]
Mandićevo razumijevanje za udruženje “Dobri Pastir” u prilikama kakve tada vladaju u Jugoslaviji vidi se i iz pisma koje 2. veljače 1952. (prije nego je imenovan poglavarom) šalje iz Chicaga definitoru Jeličiću u Rim: “Vidjeli ste, kako je lijepo priredio [fra Rufin Šilić] Kalendar Dobri pastir za god. 1952. Pun je lijepe pouke, koja je čitaocima pružena u jednostavnoj, ali misaonoj i mudroj formi. To je prava apologetika kršćanstva i kat. Crkve. Premda to izričito ne veli, Kalendar Dobroga pastira za god. 1952. jest trajna i jaka polemika s komunizmom. Sva su kriva i bezvjerska načela komunizma prorešetana i snažno pobijena. Svaki katolik koji taj Kalendar pročita, bit će ojačan u svojoj sv. vjeri, i ponosan na svoj katolicizam. Ja sam mnogo zahvalan fra Rufinu i drugim suurednicima i piscima Kalendara. U Jugoslaviji, gdje se nesmije ništa štampati što je kršćansko i katoličko, Kalendar Dobroga pastira god. 1952. učinit će mnogo dobra i u srcima mnogih čitatelja ojačat će vjeru i kršćansko osvjedočenje. Svima koji su sudjelovali na izdanju Kalendara Dobri pastir za god. 1952 neka bude hvala na uspjelom katoličkom apologetskom djelu, i na kuraži s kojom je pisan u zemlji progona, gdje se više cijeni glavica kupusa nego ljutska glava.”[30] Očito je da on osuđuje režim, ali hvali djelo koje je mogao iznjedriti samo kompromis s režimom.
U pismu (3. siječnja 1952.) definitoru Jeličiću Mandić piše: “Čujem da je dolazio u Rim Vaš prijatelj Smajo. Naravno, po srijedi su državni razlozi, ali ja mislim da mu je jedan od glavnih razloga bio, da vidi svog ‘prijatelja’ Vitomira. Jeste li mogli od njega što nova saznati? Kakav je dobio utisak o našoj Kuriji i crkvi?”[31] Jeličić mu već 9. istog mjeseca odgovara: “Moj ‘prijatelj’ je bio incognito, ne želi da se zna da je bio, veli u nekim trgovačkim poslovima (ako je moguće). Nije radi toga htio doći ovdje u kuriju, ja sam se s njim vidio vani. Teško je od njega išta saznati, osim da im Vatikan plaho smeta svagdje, napose u Americi.”[32] Ovo “napose u Americi” vjerojatno se odnosi (i) na hrvatske svećenike u Americi i taj Smajo je došao, podrazumijeva se, iz Bosne i Hercegovine u Rim (i) radi njihovih antikomunističkih i antijugoslavenskih djelatnosti u toj slobodnoj zemlji.
Što je Vatikan mislio o udruženju “Dobri Pastir” i fratrima u njemu, pokazuje činjenica da se fra Vitomir Jeličić, koji je bio savjetnik udruženja za pravna pitanja, “na zahtjev Vatikanskog Državnog Tajništva odrekao” službe generalnog definitora Reda na Uskrs 13. travnja 1952. Odmah je tu vijest javio Mandiću, ali mu nije smio ništa reći o razlozima odreknuća.[33] Mandić 8. svibnja 1952. piše ex-definitoru Jeličiću tumačeći mogući razlog zašto je optužen za “filokomunizam” i veli:
“Moguće da su u Drž. Taj. … povukli na srijedu optužbe protiv Svećeničkog udruženja u B. i H., koje postoje od njegova osnutka. Mi smo negda, Preč. O. General i ja, stišavali te optužbe dokazujući, da su naša braća potpuno pravovjerna i poslušna Sv. Stolici, a da su osnovala Svećeničko udruženje samo zato da zaštite svećenike i pravovjerni narod od potpunog iskorijenjenja. (…) Vaše riječi i spisi, koje se negda nevino tumačilo, sada su mogli postati neispravni i vrijedni ukora.”[34]
Fra Karlo Nola bio je u to vrijeme određen za generalnog vizitatora Hercegovačke franjevačke provincije, što mu je neslužbeno bilo već i javljeno, ali dekret nije dolazio. No Vatikan je “opozvao Nolu, jer je pristaša Udruženja i jer je držao onaj malo nezgodan govor na osnivačkoj skupštini Udruženja”.[35] Umjesto Nole provinciju je pohodio fra Inocent Zrinski iz zagrebačke provincije.
Definitor Jeličić i provincijal Leko, a možda i vodeći ljudi u Hercegovačkoj franjevačkoj provinciji, izgleda da su smatrali da je po svojoj nekadašnjoj ideološkoj orijentaciji, svom ugledu i autoritetu fra Dominik Mandić idealan za novog starješinu u Americi, koji će neutralizirati “ekstremiste”[36] u komisarijatu. Ali, na njihovu žalost, fra Dominik nije ispunio njihove nade. Ako je i imao namjeru nešto takvo poduzeti, njegova metamorfoza od jugofila u istinskog hrvatskog državotvorca bila je dovršena njegovim dolaskom u Ameriku.
Što se tiče narodnog rada fratara u Americi, jasno je sročio svoj stav provincijalu Leki u pismu od 5. travnja 1955.: “Kako viđu iz Vaših zadnjih pisama, Vi ste krivo informisani o našem držanju i pisanju ovamo. Razlike koje postoje u Vašem i našem gledanju i držanju nužne su posljedice tamošnje i ovdašnje stvarnosti. Vaši se pogledi upiru na sadašnjost i održanje na životu, a mi u slobodnom svijetu moramo gledati na budućnost i načelnost. I upravo s ovoga općega i dubljega gledanja Vaše je držanje, svih vas tamo, kako Vam je poznato, bilo jako kritizirano i osuđivano u samome Rimu. Ja sam vas uvijek branio i dokazivao sam, da je vaše držanje u interesu vjere i naroda. Govorio sam, i mislio s pravom, da Vi u interesu održanja morate voditi računa o postojećim stvarnostima i ići sve dotle, dok ne budu u pitanju dogmatska načela. Kad bi drugačije radili, nepotrebno bi nanosili štetu sv. Crkvi i narodu.
Vaš potrebni i dozvoljeni oportunizam mi u stranom svijetu niti možemo niti smijemo slijediti. Mi u slobodnom svijetu, u Americi, moramo voditi računa o našoj stvarnosti, gledati i raditi za bolju budućnost Reda i naroda. Kada bi mi u ovdašnjim prilikama mislili i pisali, kako Vi mislite i pišete u Vašoj stvarnosti, nas bi ovdje i naši najbolji vjernici, i naša hrvatska i američka sredina smatrali izdajicama. Vaša i naša stvarnost je različita, pa je nužno da svatko ide svojim putem gledajući da budemo korisni svetoj Crkvi i svom narodu, kojima moramo služiti i za njih se žrtvovati.”[37]
Poruka je jasna, neka “svatko ide svojim putem”. Ali sve do pred kraj komunizma i Jugoslavije postojala je u hercegovačkoj provinciji struja koja je smatrala da bi radi (dobrih) odnosa provincije s državnim vlastima, fratri u Americi trebali (za) šutjeti. Fra Dominik ne samo da nikoga nije ušutkivao, nego je i sam postao glasan zagovornik hrvatske državne samostalnosti i slobode.
Mirne vode tijekom starješinskog mandata
Od preuzimanja starješinstva pa do kraja Mandićeva mandata u proljeće 1955. komisarijat hrvatskih franjevaca u Americi plovio je mirnim vodama. Premda je Mandić u svom izvješću provincijalu početkom 1952. napomenuo da je bilo nekih razlika između novodošlih i “starodošlih”, i to je s vremenom nestalo. On piše provincijalu Jerki Mihaljeviću (11. lipnja 1955.) da u komisarijatu “nema posebnih poteškoća ni problema: sve je upućeno i teče redovitim putem”.[38]
Među važnijim pothvatima tijekom njegova mandata bila je kupnja i obnova dviju kuća u Chicagu, od kojih je jedna pretvorena u prvi samostan hrvatskih franjevaca u Americi, a u drugu je proširena već postojeća franjevačka tiskara. Naime, prva kuća koju su hrvatski franjevci u Americi (1943.) kupili za svoju uporabu, neovisno o župama, bila je zgrada na Drexel Boulevardu u Chicagu, nekoć vlasništvo bogataša Ryersona (Martin A. Ryerson, 1856. – 1932.). Služila je kao rezidencija fratrima koji nisu bili na župama i starješini komisarijata. Susjedna kuća na Ellis Aveniji, vlasništvo obitelji bogataša Swifta (Gustavus F. Swift, 1839. – 1903.), bila je već godinama prazna i kupljena je 1952. Bogataši su zbog dolaska crnaca u taj dio grada napustili svoje prostrane vile i s vremenom ih vrlo jeftino prodavali, pa i poklanjali.
Zbog dolaska novih fratara i sjemeništaraca iz Europe, kao i zbog izdavačke djelatnosti, fratri su kupili dvije napuštene kuće Swiftove obitelji. Fra Dominik je s ponosom na više strana javio vijest o kupnji: “Ovih dana kupili smo dvije kuće za budući novi samostan u Chicagu. Nalaze se odmah uz dosadašnju kuću na Drexel blvd. Glavna kuća bila je vila za stanovanje najvećega američkog tvorničara mesa, Swift-a, a druga manja za njegovu poslugu i gospodarstvo. Velika kuća, na pet podova (floor), ima 22 sobe i druge nuzprostorije. (…) Kada bi se danas ove dvije zgrade pravile, zapale bi sigurno jedan milijun dolara. Nama je obadvije ustupio vlasnik za samih 25.000$. Zapravo darovao nam.[39] Novu kuću preuređujemo za naš budući samostan. Tamo će prijeći sva braća iz Drexel blvd 4852 [4851!], a dosadašnja kuća ostat će za naš redovnički pomladak. Gospodarsku zgradu spojit ćemo s tiskarom i tamo urediti slagarnu, otpremu i uredništva. Ta se zgrada nalazi tik uz našu tiskaru, i može se s njom zgodno ujediniti. (…) Ja sam dao savjet, da se kupi Swiftova vila, spoji sa sadašnjim našim posjedom i tu izgradi naš budući samostan sv. Ante. Iz početka je bilo kod mnogih otpornosti i predrasuda, ali su brzo svi uvidjeli, da je ovo vanredno lijepa stvar i pogodna za daljni razvoj našega rada u Chicagu. Sada su svi zadovoljni i zahvaljuju Bogu, da nije što drugo prije kupljeno. Bez sumnje Božja providnost i posebna pomoć Gospina bdjela je nad cijelom stvari i vodila sve k cilju, da se na Drexelu stvori jedna velika i lijepa franjevačka kula rada i molitve.”[40]
Mandić (14. ožujka 1952.) izvješćuje i provincijala Leku o kupnji kuće i javlja mu da je novo starješinstvo zaključilo “da se naša kuća sv. Ante u Drexel Blvd Chicago proglasi i uredi kao pravi redovnički samostan”, da će novi samostan biti u novokupljenoj kući i da je za prvog gvardijana imenovan fra Vendelin Vasilj.[41] Blagoslov i svečano otvaranje prvog samostana hrvatskih franjevaca u Americi u novokupljenoj kući bio je 3. kolovoza 1952.[42] U pismu od 26. veljače 1953. Mandić podnosi provincijalu u Mostaru troškovnik i izvješćuje da je obnova kuće stajala 82.857 dolara.[43] Njegov je plan bio čim prije dovesti i sestre franjevke iz Hercegovine koje bi radile u samostanskoj kuhinji, tiskari i drugim poslovima.[44] Ali uza sve njegove dobre namjere, sestre su došle tek 1968. godine.
U više pisama s početka svoga starješinskog mandata fra Dominik naglašava da je kupnja napuštenih Swiftovih kuća bila njegova ideja i zasluga, ali po usmenoj predaji, koju sam više puta osobno čuo od fratara iz tog vremena, zasluga za kupnju i obnovu kuće pripisuje se fra Vendelinu Vasilju. To potvrđuje i službena mrežna stranica fratara u Chicagu, na kojoj čitamo da je kuća kupljena “i ubrzo pod vodstvom ondašnjeg kustosa fra Vendelina Vasilja preuređena”.[45] Vjerojatno su kuće kupljene na kraju fra Vendelinova ili na samom početku Mandićeva mandata, a preuređivanje je predvodio fra Vendelin, ali ne kao komisar, nego kao prvi gvardijan.[46]
Za vrijeme Mandićeva mandata hrvatski su franjevci utemeljili još jednu hrvatsku katoličku župu, u Monessenu, Pennsylvania, a Mandić u izvješću o stanju u 11 župa u kojima su tada djelovali članovi komisarijata hrvatskih franjevca iznosi i sljedeće podatke za razdoblje od 1952. do 1955. godine. Ovo donosimo radi boljeg uvida u tadašnje prilike među Hrvatima u Americi i iscrpnijeg sagledavanja rada tamošnjih fratara. U svim župama zajedno bilo je tijekom te tri godine: krštenih 1362, vjenčanih 489, umrlih 652, ispovijedi 157.400, pričesti 327.900, nedjeljnih i blagdanskih propovijedi 5874, učenika na vjeronauku 4467, misija i duhovnih vježba 52, broj duša (25. II. 1955.) 20.279, kongregacija Trećeg reda 7 s 237 živih članova i u 9 župnih škola 49 sestara.[47] Pored ovih statistika, Mandić je redovno i iscrpno davao financijska izvješća članovima zajednice i provinciji, što svjedoči da je bio dobar administrator, a iz pisama se vidi da je u svim nesporazumima s braćom izbjegavao konfrontacije i nastojao sve rješavati tihim putem.
Humanitarni rad
Dobro je poznato da je fra Dominik Mandić bio prava osoba na pravom mjestu kad se odmah poslije rata mnoštvo hrvatskih izbjeglica našlo po logorima i izvan njih u Italiji. On je tada bio generalni definitor i ekonom franjevačkog reda u Rimu. Novac je pristizao od franjevačkih provincija, posebice iz Amerike, za izgradnju franjevačke kurije i crkve u Rimu, a on je predvodio te velike radove.
Novac iz hrvatskog franjevačkog komisarijata u Americi koji je bio namijenjen hercegovačkoj provinciji ostajao je tijekom rata na pologu u Rimu, te je Mandić i to imao na raspolaganju. Osim toga on je “zaista imao lijepu svotu američkih dolara s kojima je radio na burzi (…), a bila je velika potražnja za američkim dolarima”.[48] Dakle, dobivenim novcem iz više izvora i stečenim u zamjeni dolara za lire Mandić je pomagao pojedincima, obiteljima, đacima i studentima, te sponzorirao razne djelatnosti u logorima. Bio je vodeći među tadašnjim hrvatskim svećenicima u Rimu u humanitarnom radu za svoje sunarodnjake u tim kriznim vremenima.[49]
Po dolasku u Ameriku fra Dominik je, kao komisar/starješina hrvatskih franjevaca, slao pomoć na više strana. Naravno, on je to mogao raditi zaslugom dobročinitelja i fratara koji su prikupljali i slali mu novac za dobrotvorne svrhe. On je u ime fratarske zajednice, a u nekim slučajevima i na svoju ruku, slao pomoć na razne načine: novac, hranu, odjeću, obuću i druge potrepštine, a svećenicima i misne intencije. Hrana se slala ponajviše preko braće Šare u Trstu i Ante Budimirovića u Rimu, a pošiljke su sadržavale, između ostaloga: brašno, rižu, ulje, šećer, mlijeko u prahu, kavu, grah, slaninu, mast, sapun za pranje, sapun za osobnu higijenu i druge potrepštine. Slalo se na puno strana, posebice provinciji u Mostaru i njezinim članovima, kao i drugim franjevačkim provincijama, sjemeništima, bogoslovijama, časnim sestrama i drugim crkvenim ustanovama, kao i za svećenike u zeničkom zatvoru preko časne sestre koja je u Zenici živjela i o njima vodila brigu koliko je bilo moguće. Slalo se i rabljenu ali kvalitetnu robu koju su fratri kupovali po niskoj cijeni od dobrotvornog društva svetoga Vinka Paulskog (Society of St. Vincent de Paul) u Milwaukeeju, Wisconsin,[50] a koja je mnogima itekako dobro došla u vrijeme velike neimaštine nakon rata.[51] Osim u Domovinu, pomoć je slana na više strana u svijetu: pojedincima, studentima, invalidima i, posebice, u izbjegličke logore u Europi: u Italiji, Austriji i Grčkoj.
Hrvatima u logoru Lavrio u Grčkoj šalje malu pomoć pred Božić 1953. i piše: “Bolno nas se doimlje vaše stanje.”[52] Za Uskrs 1954. šalje im čestitku i dar te poručuje: “Mi radimo da bi se svi izbjegli Hrvati preselili u USA.”[53] Za one u centralnoj Italiji šalje pomoć preko Hrvatskog dobrotvornog društva u Rimu i vlč. Krunoslava Draganovića. U pismu Draganoviću (22. ožujka 1953.) Mandić šalje uskrsni dar od 200 dolara za izbjeglice od Hrvatske pomoćne akcije “da znaju da nijesu zaboravljeni i da netko na nje misli”.[54] U logore u južnoj Italiji pomoć šalje preko vlč. Josipa Borošaka, a u Trst preko fra Dionizija Lasića u Rimu.[55]
Iz logora Capua velečasni Josip Borošak (21. srpnja 1953.) piše Mandiću o prilikama u izbjegličkim logorima i slanju pomoći. Kaže između ostalog i sljedeće: “Zadnja pomoć, koju ste poslali u logore u kojima radim bila je za Uskrs. Tom zgodom svaki hrvatski izbjeglica je dobio po nešto. Zadovoljstvo je bilo veliko.
Kako je od toga vremena prošlo nekoliko mjeseci, a potrebe su kod obitelji, djece i bolesnika jednake to sam slobodan zamoliti Vas, ako Vam je moguće izpred ‘Hrvatske Pomoćne Akcije’ poslati na moje ime – ovaj put samo za bolesnike-invalide, djecu-obitelji – dakle za one najpotrebnije… Nalaze se u bolnicama naši, mnogi bez ikakve pomoći ili Lire, tu su naši invalidi, pa neke s mnogo djece obitelji itd. Naročito bolesnici u logoru Pagani su bijedna stvorenja: bez dovoljno hrane, bez dobivanja odijela i cipela. Dosta je rečeno, ako Vam spomenem, da su svi bolesnici u tom logoru ovih dana predali sudu Upravu logora (A. M.P. Administrazione Missione dela Pace), budući da kao t. b. bolesnici i invalidi oskudijevaju sa najnužnijim, a od I.R.O-a su primili za svakoga velike svote, tj. za pristojno uzdržavanje… Tamo ima naših 22…Uglavnom stanje je ovako:
• 53 djece do 15 godina u tim logorima: Capua, S. Antonio, Aversa, Pagani i Mercatello
• 47 što bolesnika, što staraca, što invalida, kako u logorima, tako u bolnicama
Ovi su najpotrebniji i za ove sam slobodan zamoliti Vas, tako da bi im za Veliku Gospu podijelio. Pa makar kakva malenkost dobro će doći svakom djetetu i bolesniku…”[56]
Pomoć izbjeglicama u Austriji išla je preko vlč. Vilima Cecelje, odnosno preko hrvatskog Karitasa u toj zemlji. Velečasni Cecelja, moleći za pomoć, između ostalog piše: “Evo odlučih se obratiti na Vas, znajući da ste Vi uvijek imali razumijevanja za naš siromašni svijet. Da Vam pišem o jadu i bijedi nije potrebno. Došli ste i sami iz Europe pa ste svjedok svega. Htio bih Vas upozoriti na jednu bolnu činjenicu u kojoj leži naša velika poteškoća. Amerikanci i Austrijanci obustavili su primanje novodošlih izbjeglica u prihvatne logore, jer da nisu od onih ‘iza željeznog zastora’. Tako sad sav naš svijet koji dolazi, a ima ga mnogo, ostaje jednostavno na ulici. (…) Bježali su da se domognu slobode, a upadaju u teško ropstvo neimaštine i gladi.
(…) Najviše izbjeglica iz domovine dolazi u Austriju i naše su potrebe prema tome najveće. Živimo od milosti Božje.”[57]
Mandić je, osim hrvatskim studentima u Španjolskoj, slao pomoć i nekim drugim pojedincima, vjerojatno bez znanja uprave komisarijata. Na primjer, sinu Ante Cilige Pavlu, srednjoškolcu u Parizu,[58] i Dragi Barsiću, sinu svojih prijatelja Ivana i Ruže Heinrich iz Buenos Airesa, koji je tada studirao u državi Ohio, SAD. Iz pisama se vidi da je gosp. Heinrich bio iz Sarajeva i da je bio bliži Mandićev suradnik u poratno vrijeme u Rimu.[59]
Hrvatska pomoćna akcija i Fond kardinala Stepinca
Odmah nakon rata hrvatski svećenici u Sjedinjenim Američkom Državama utemeljili su Hrvatsku katoličku pomoćnu akciju (Croatian Catholic War Relief Association) i obratili se hrvatskom narodu i američkim biskupima za pomoć hrvatskim izbjeglicama. Prikupljene doprinose slali su preko Bratovštine Sv. Jeronima u Rimu.[60] Već prije fra Dominikova dolaska u Ameriku “Pomoćnica” se pomalo gasila pa su je fratri odlučili obnoviti i preko nje prikupljati darove za potrebne. U okružnici braći od 11. listopada 1952. Mandić piše o Hrvatskoj pomoćnoj akciji: “Potrebe Hrvata, koji stradaju radi odanosti svojoj sv. vjeri i Domovini, svakim danom rastu. Da bi se tim potrebama barem donekle moglo udovoljiti, prema prijedlogu bratskih konferencija za vrijeme sv. duhovnih vježba Komisarijatsko vijeće na sjednici od 25. IX. t. g. zaključilo je, da se opet oživi, u našem djelokrugu ‘Hrvatska pomoćna akcija’ za pomaganje potrebnih Hrvata u Inozemstvu i Domovini. Prema tome zaključku u svakoj se našoj župi ima trajno i sistematski sakupljati za Hrv. Pomoćnu akciju, napose u svim našim župama ima se svake druge nedjelje kupiti druga kolekta [milostinja] u tu svrhu. Potanje naputke za sakupljanje prinosa za Hrv. pomoćnu akciju donijet će u narednim brojevima Danica i Hrv. Kat. Glasnik.”[61] Otada su franjevci vodili Hrvatsku pomoćnicu, a Savez hrvatskih svećenika u Americi, u kojem su bili svjetovni svećenici i redovnici, utemeljio je Fond kardinala Stepinca u namjeri da se novac iz njega šalje po kardinalovoj želji.[62]
O Pomoćnici i Fondu Mandić piše prijatelju Vlahi: “[Tvoja] misao o Fondu kard. Stepinca već je ostvarena, naravno u našim hrvatskim krugovima i u dosta čednoj formi i uspjehu. Sakupljanje za taj Fond pokrenuto je nakon sastanka hrv. Svećeničke zajednice [misli se na Savez hrvatskih svećenika u SAD] ovdje u Chicagu koncem listopada o. g. Osim te akcije postoji i Hrv. Pomoćna akcija, koju sam ja s našim franjevcima pokrenu u rujnu o. g. (…) Oba fonda, Stepinčev i HRPA, imaju glavno pred očima hrvatske iseljenike i njihove potomke. Gdje bude izgleda pokucat će i na tuđa vrata. (…) Prinose dakle HRPA trošit ćemo za sadašnje dnevne potrebe, a one Stepinčeva fonda zasada će se polagati na banku, dok sam Kardinal Stepinac ne odredi u što i na koji će se način utrošiti. (…) svijet teško daje, i (…) ni jedan ni drugi fond ne će imati Bog zna kakvih sredstava na raspolaganje. Ja sam voljan na ovom polju raditi i sve učiniti, da se pomognu potrebni u Izbjeglištvu i u našoj patničkoj Domovini.”[63]
Trebalo je pomagati ne samo izbjeglice u logorima, nego i one koji su pristizali u Ameriku. Tako Mandić u okružnici od 31. listopada 1953. članovima komisarijata, između ostaloga, piše: “Na sastanku svećenstva u Chicagu, dne 26. X. o. g. osnovan je posebni svećenički odbor, koji će se brinuti za smještaj izbjeglica. Na osnovu novoga američkoga zakona za DP [displaced person] preporučujemo svim PP OO. po našim župama, da se požrtvovno zauzmu za smještaje izbjeglica na području svojih župa. Na to nas svjetuje i ljubav prema našoj braći, koja bez kuće i zanimanja stradaju po logorima, a i ljubav prema našim hrvatskim župama u USA., koje će imati razlog svog opstanka samo dotle, dok se oko njih budu kupili Hrvati, koji govore hrvatskim jezikom.”[64]
Kako Mandić u navedenom pismu g. Vlahi i napisa, prikupljena pomoć bila je u “dosta čednoj formi”, ali ipak je uvijek ponešto pristizalo iz više župa i slalo se najugroženijima, kojima su i mali darovi puno značili, a ponajviše su im bili znak hrvatske solidarnosti i zajedništva.
Prilike u emigraciji početkom 1950-ih
U pismu generalnom definitoru fra Inocentu Zrinskom (25. studenog 1955.) fra Dominik između ostalog piše: “U Americi su naime Hrvati pocjepani u ‘crkvenjake’ i ‘neovišnjake’. Prvi se drže svećenika i organizovani su u hrvatskim kat. župama. Drugi nemare za crkvu ili su prema njoj neprijateljski raspoloženi. U pogledu narodnom ovi su zadnji ‘jugoslaveni’. Crkvenjaci su dobri Hrvati i traže od svojih svećenika da s njima surađuju u vjerskim i narodnim stvarima”.[65] Taj temeljni dualizam među Hrvatima u Americi još slikovitije opisuje poziv čiji se tekst nalazi u Mandićevoj ostavštini, a kojim se moli Hrvate da pomognu subraći u potrebi. Naslov je apela “Brat nebratu a bratu nebrat” i kaže: “To su oni Hrvati, u kojima teče hrvatska krv, koji su rođeni od oca i majke Hrvata, ali im je srce pokvarila lažna propaganda, jugoslavenska i komunistička. Oni se zanose i hvale Titovu Jugoslaviju, koja progoni sve čestite Hrvate i satire našu sv. vjeru; druže se i ljube srpske četnike, koji se neiskreno pokrivaju pod jugoslavenskom koprenom, a u duši su zadrti veliko Srbi, iskopajnici Hrvatske i zatornici svih pravih Hrvata.
Ovakvi Hrvati jugoslaveni ili komunisti vjerujući lažnoj propagandi, nazivaju svakog Hrvata, koji ne hvali Tita i srpsku kamu, ustašom i koljačem. Nebratu je brat, a svome bratu Hrvatu nebrat. – Sinovi i potomci ponosnih Hrvata! Očistite Vaša srca i od danas ljubite sve ljude, ali na prvom mjestu, kao što Bog zapovijeda i narav, Vašu krvnu braću Hrvate. Budite bratu brat! Tu ljubav pokažite djelima milosrđa pomažući onu braću Hrvate, koji se nalaze u biedi i nevolji, i to glavno radi srbokomunističkog progona. Vašu pomoć pošaljite na adresu: Hrvatska pomoćna akcija, 4851 Drexel Blvd., Chicago, Ill, USA.”[66]
Tadašnja podjela Hrvata na “jugoslavene” (a dobar broj njih bili su i (pro)komunisti) i na domoljube (od kojih je većina bila u bližem ili daljem kontaktu s hrvatskim katoličkim župama), bila je prisutna među Hrvatima u Americi sve tamo od početka 20. stoljeća pa do raspada jugo-režima i jugo-države. Tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata i odmah nakon njega prva se skupina osjetila ojačanom jer je sebe smatrala pobjedničkom, dok je sve koji su bili za hrvatsku samostalnost nazivala ustašama, sljedeći primjer i upute jugo-režima.
Ali osim postojanja ovih dvaju suprotnih tabora, i odnosi među domoljubnim Hrvatima bili su, blago rečeno, slojeviti pa višeput i napeti. Premda ih je sve povezivala ljubav za domovinu, razdvajala su ih različita mišljenja o tome kako, u tim poratnim prilikama i u tuđem svijetu, doprinijeti slobodi i samostalnosti Hrvatske, kojim putem ići prema zajedničkom cilju. Naravno, bilo je to povezano i s osobnim taštinama i ambicijama pojedinaca.
Jedan manji broj ali utjecajnih “realista” želio je samostalnu i demokratsku Hrvatsku, ali nisu vidjeli mogućnost (barem u skorijoj budućnosti) rušenja komunističke Jugoslavije, koja je postala dio poratnog svjetskog poretka. Tako Ivan Meštrović u pismu fra Dominiku Mandiću od 30. svibnja 1952. među ostalim piše: “Na Vaše refleksije o našoj privrženosti jedinstvu jugoslavenskih naroda neću se opširnije osvrtati, jer vidim da ste i Vi sami proživjeli što i ja, kao i toliki drugi Hrvati, i da smo se svi razočarali. Razočaranje je bilo toliko i događaji su bili takvi, da se logično nameće zaključak da je rastava jedini izlaz. Tu je riječ, međutim, lako izustiti, ali je teško naći načina da se obadvije strane zadovolje i to ne samo u njihovim subjektivnim osjećajima nego da to bude za obadvije strane i objektivno pravedno.
Nepravedno rješenje za ma koju stranu povećalo bi nesigurnost za obadvije. Ono bi nas dovelo do neprestanih borbi i do kombinacija trećih da budemo njihovi graničari i da se međusobno trijebimo. A teškoća razdiobe nije samo u tomu. Postoji i antipatija zapadnih protiv svakoga atomiziranja. Zato je, čini mi se, najbolja taktika s naše strane da dokažemo da nije krivica na našoj strani, nego na njihovoj, jer oni neće da se urazume i da shvate da jednaki ne mogu biti podređeni jednacima.
Što možemo drugo činiti u ovim prilikama?”[67] Ovakva grupacija u hrvatskoj političkoj emigraciji bila je prisutna sve dok nisu počeli pucati okviri jugo-države i njezina komunističkog režima.
Ratni vihor u emigraciju je donio Vlatka Mačeka, predsjednika Hrvatske seljačke stranke, te još neke vodeće ljude HSS-a. Najbrojnije članstvo HSS-a u Sjevernoj Americi bilo je u Kanadi, a samo mali broj u SAD-u. Članovi i simpatizeri te stranke bili su ponajviše iseljenici generacije koja je došla u svijet 1920-ih i 1930-ih godina. Nepovjerenje između starih doseljenika i novih emigranata HSS-a bilo je uzajamno, posebice kad se uzme u obzir da je krajem rata i odmah nakon njega vodstvo te stranke u emigraciji dalo podršku Titu i partizanima. Po dolasku u Ameriku dr. Maček se nastanio u Washingtonu i mnogi su vjerovali, ili bolje reći nadali se, da će pokušati okupiti emigrantske snage i izvan HSS-a te postati vodeći zagovornik hrvatskih antijugoslavenskih i antikomunističkih stremljenja u centru američke i svjetske moći. Ali, nažalost, od toga nije bilo ništa. On se bavio čuvanjem stranačke stege i dokazivanjem da je on, odnosno HSS, jedini koji ima istinski politički legitimitet u hrvatskom narodu.
Novi veliki val emigranata pristigao je poslije rata u svijet i sa sobom donio novu snagu, ali i nove političke podjele. Jedni su vjerovali u obnovu ustaškog pokreta na čelu s Antom Pavelićem i u beskompromisnu borbu do obnove hrvatske državne samostalnosti. Ali i među njima je došlo do podjela, između ostalog i kad se čulo da Pavelić u Argentini razgovara s nekim vodećim Srbima o mogućim kompromisima.[68]
U Europi je djelovao dr. Branko Jelić, nekadašnji suradnik Ante Pavelića i glavni organizator predratnog Hrvatskog domobrana u Sjevernoj i Južnoj Americi. On je imao svoje sljedbenike i nastojao organizirati snage u Europi i šire u Hrvatski narodni odbor, te biti vodeći glas u emigraciji.[69]
Među novim emigrantima bilo je dosta školovanih ljudi koji su zagovarali “novi put” u borbi za samostalnu i demokratsku hrvatsku državu. Uvidjeli su da od Mačeka nema nade, a da je Pavelić autoritativan i kompromitiran, pa su radili sami ili u manjim skupinama na kulturnom polju i/ili zagovarali opće hrvatsko djelatno zajedništvo temeljeno na demokratskim principima.[70] U SAD-u su se “neovisnjacima” pridružili i brojni članovi nekadašnjeg Hrvatskog domobrana u Americi, čije je djelovanje bilo zabranjeno tijekom rata. Od ovakvih pojedinaca i neovisnih skupina potekla je i organizacija Ujedinjenih američkih Hrvata, u kojoj je djelovalo i nekoliko hrvatskih franjevaca, u prvom redu fra Silvije Grubišić, fra Ljubo Čuvalo i fra Častimir Majić, a potonja dvojica bili su i dugogodišnji urednici tjednika Danica. Fra Dominik Mandić ostao je izvan ili, kako je vjerojatno on to smatrao, iznad svih stranaka i političkih skupina, i nastojao pomirujuće djelovati među svima za koje je smatrao da mogu doprinijeti boljitku hrvatskog naroda.
Rad na nacionalnom polju
Nakon fra Dominikova imenovanja starješinom hrvatskih franjevaca u Americi (1952.) uz čestitke koje su pristizale iskazivane su i nade da je on osoba oko koje će se moći okupiti nove hrvatske snage, posebice kulturne i intelektualne, koje će dati novi zamah stvaralaštvu među Hrvatima u svijetu. Na primjer, u pismu od 29. travnja 1953. vlč. Stjepan Lacković mu piše: “Ja vjerujem, mnogopoštovani, da je Vaš dolazak u ovu zemlju među hrvatski narod od osobitog značenja. Tako i mnogi drugi misle, koji se zanimaju za naše javne poslove i stvari. Oni očekuju od Vas, posebno u pravcu smirivanja zaoštrenih duhova i prilika među nama.”[71]
Vjerojatno je i on imao osjećaj poslanja da, kao što je bio uspješan u Rimu, svojim radom, poznanstvima i utjecajem poluči značajnije uspjehe. U pismu Bogdanu Radici (10. travnja 1952.) osjeća se Mandićeva spremnost za novu misiju: “U ovoj velikoj i slobodarskoj zemlji prilike Hrvatskog naroda i na vjerskom i na narodnom polju su vanredno teške i razrovane. Što bude do mene, spreman sam sve učiniti da se te prilike poboljšaju, najprije na vjerskom a onda i na narodnom polju. Želim, i u tom ću pravcu gledati usmjeriti rad moje braće, da se Hrvati u Americi otresu modernih zabluda, napose zlokobnog komunizma, i da živu privatno i u obitelji pravim kršćanskim životom, koji je osnova i najbolje jamstvo i vremenitoj sreći pojedinca i naroda. U Narodnom pogledu želim da svi složno upregnu sve sile, kako bi i Hrvatski narod u Domovini što prije došao do svoje slobode i blagostanja u svojoj slobodnoj i samostalnoj državi Hrvatskoj.”[72] Ta on je poznavao gotovo sve uglednije Hrvate u svijetu, a mnogima od njih je pomogao kad su bili u najtežim danima izbjeglištva. Broj pisama i imena ljudi s kojima se dopisivao poslije dolaska u Ameriku uistinu je dojmljiv. Bio je u vezi gotovo sa svim poznatijim Hrvatima u tadašnjoj emigraciji i osjećao je da može biti osoba oko koje će se okupiti nove snage u zajedničkom radu za Hrvatsku.
Njegov rad na nacionalnom polju iz toga vremena bio je postavljen na dva paralelna kolosijeka koji su vodili k istom cilju: doprinijeti željenoj slobodi Hrvatske i hrvatskog naroda. Prvo, gdje god je mogao, on poziva domoljubne Hrvate na slogu i zajedništvo. Od mnogih ćemo navesti samo dva citata iz njegovih pisama u kojima savjetuje uzajamno uvažavanje i slogu. U pismu Anti Ciligi od 7. travnja 1954. piše:
“Ja svima savjetujem, pa i Vama, da se između Hrvata što manje vode polemike. Mi imamo toliko naših narodnih problema i vanjskih neprijatelja, da je šteta trošiti vrijeme i novac u međusobne prepirke poimence kad se radi o ličnim napadajima.”[73]
Slično poručuje i Ivi Bogdanu: “U današnjim vanredno teškim prilikama Hrvatskoga naroda i Katoličke Crkve u Hrvatskoj naše snage valja da budu upućene drugim ciljevima, a ne sitnim ličnim obračunavanjima i optužbama. I gdje je potrebna kritika i upozorenje, ja sam uvijek za to, da se čini s mnogo obzirljivosti, ljudski i kršćanski.
Nužna je i potrebna služba istini, ali u svemu valja da vlada kršćanska ljubav.”[74] Podizao je on glas kad je trebalo osuditi notorne laži, pa makar one dolazile i od Hrvata,[75] ali njegovo je opće djelovanje bilo poštivanje mišljenja drugih, uvažavanje i nenapadanje. Njegova pismohrana svjedoči da se dopisivao s Hrvatima članovima različitih stranaka, političkih opredjeljenja, profesija i vjera, i sve ih nastojao pomirljivim tonom okupiti i/ili ohrabriti u radu za dobro hrvatskog naroda.
Drugo, nije Mandić ostao samo na davanju savjeta, nego je svojim inicijativama pokušao okupiti ljude u konkretnom radu na izdavanju knjiga na hrvatskom i engleskom jeziku, što je služilo hrvatskim nacionalnim interesima. Franjevačka zajednica u Chicagu već je izdavala Hrvatski katolički glasnik (od 1942.), Hrvatski kalendar (od 1944.) i Danicu (od 1945). Od 1947. fratri su imali svoju tiskaru, a iz poratne Europe stigao je u Ameriku veći broj mlađih i učenijih fratara te brojni izbjegli hrvatski intelektualci rasuti diljem svijeta. Fra Dominik je tu vidio ogroman potencijal koji je želio kanalizirati za opće dobro.
Početkom 1953. godine Mandić piše prijateljima da “proučava mogućnosti, da ovdje [u Chicagu] osnujemo Hrvatski izdavački zavod, koji bi u stalnim serijama izdavao originalna djela hrvatskih pisaca u Iseljeništvu, i tim omogućio hrvatsko stvaralačko djelovanje na polju pisane riječi i u ovim tragičnim vremenima za Hrvatski narod”.[76] U pismu mons. Juraju Mađercu (30. siječnja 1953.) navodi dodatne razloge za pokretanje izdavaštva: “Na mom povratku iz Rima,[77] u Lurdskoj špilji, stvorio sam odluku, da pokušam organizirati izdavanje knjiga za hrvatsku inteligenciju, i hrvatski narod uopće u Izbjeglištvu na kršćanskim osnovama. U Hrvatskoj je danas Društvo sv. Jeronima raspušteno; mnogi su hrvatski nakladni zavodi obustavljeni ili skrenuti sa svoje hrvatske kolotečine; Hrvatskoj Matici i Akademiji data je druga zadaća u protuhrvatskom i protukršćanskom smislu.
Hrvatski pisci, koji su izbjegli u Inozemstvo, nemaju materijalnih mogućnosti, da štampaju svoja djela. Na taj način hrvatsko stvaralaštvo na polju pisane riječi dovedeno je u opasnost da bude prekinuto i da zataji u ovim najotsutnijim vremenima za Hrvatski narod i za njegovu hiljadugodišnju kršćansku kulturu. S namišljenom organizacijom i izdanjima ja bih želio tome predusresti i dati mogućnosti sposobnim Hrvatima u Izbjeglištvu da štampaju svoje radove i nastave svijetle hrvatske tradicije iz doba slobode i kršćanskog života.”[78]
Plan izdavačkog rada najavio je u nekoliko pisama početkom 1953., a najjasnije ga je izložio u pismu (11. ožujka 1953.) dominikancu o. Hijacintu Eteroviću: “S pomoću Božjom, a pod zaštitom Marije, Kraljice Hrvata, ovih dana ću najaviti Iseljenoj Hrvatskoj, da smo na Drexelu u Chicagu osnovali Hrvatski izdavački institut ‘Croatia’, koji će izdavati slijedeće nizove knjiga:
1. Hrvatska duhovna knjižnica.
2. Hrvatska prosvjetna knjižnica.
3. Knjižnica hrvatske lijepe knjige.
4. Knjižnica savremenih pitanja.
Po jedna knjiga od svake knjižnice s Hrvatskim Kalendarom činit će Kolo od pet knjiga. Svake godine štampat će se jedno kolo, a s vremenom po mogućnosti i više.
Uz hrvatska izdanja Izdavački će zavod izdavati i Hrvatsku američku knjižnicu, kojoj će biti svrha, da upozna strani svijet, koji engleski govori, s Hrvatskom i njezinim težnjama. Ova će posebno imati pred očima i potomke Hrvata u Americi, koji više ne govore hrvatski. U ovoj će se knjižnici izdavati zasada po jedna knjiga godišnje. (…) O gornjim izdanjima ja već ima godinu dana razmišljam i dogovaram se. Definitivnu odluku stvorio sam na 6. prosinca 1952. klečeći pred kipom Majke Božje u Lurdskoj špilji.”[79]
O financiranju izdavaštva fra Dominik (14. siječnja 1953.) piše Franji Trogrančiću u već spomenutom pismu: “Sredstva za izdavanje spomenutih knjižnica mislim da ću moći skupiti organizacijom stalnih pretplatnika i dobrotvornim prinosima.
Početni kapital žrtvovat će naš Hrvatski Komisarijat u USA.”[80] U tu svrhu Mandić je, uz izdavački institut, utemeljio i Hrvatsku prosvjetnu zakladu. Kategorije su članstva bile: zakladnici, koji u roku od dvije godine podmire troškove tiskanja jednog hrvatskog djela na hrvatskom ili engleskom jeziku; dobrotvori, koji godišnje doprinesu $50.00 za deset godina ili odjedanput $500.00; utemeljitelji, koji godišnje doprinesu $20.00 ili odjedanput $250.00; stalni pretplatnici, koji godišnje doprinesu $10.00. Članovi pod 1-3 dobivaju sva izdanja Hrv. prosvj. zaklade besplatno, a stalni pretplatnici jedno kolo od 5 svezaka.[81]
Dok je fra Dominik prve dvije godine po dolasku u Ameriku bio urednik Hrvatskogkalendara, na suradnju je pozvao i dobio poznatija imena u emigraciji i istovremeno okupio ljude s kojima bi mogao otpočeti izdavačku djelatnost. Sljedeće su knjige izašle u izdanju Hrvatskog izdavačkog zavoda “Croatia”: Lucijan Kordić, Od zemlje do neba (1953.), Antun Bonifačić, Vječna Hrvatska (1953.), Vatro Murvar, Hrvatska i Hrvati (1953.), Dominik Mandić, Zbornik Croatia (1953.), Basil & Steven Pandžić, A Review of Croatian History (1954.), George W. Cesarich (Vilko Rieger), Croatia and Serbia: Why is Their Peaceful Separation a European Necessity? (1954.), Marijan Mikac, U povorci smrti (1954.), Branimir Marić, Glasovi Domovine – Hrvatski narodni pjevnik (1954.), Antun Bonifačić and Clement S. Mihanovich, eds., The Croatian Nation in Its Struggle for Freedom and Independence (1955.).
Suočavanje sa stvarnošću
U okružnici od 31. ožujka 1954. fra Dominik članove komisarijata izvješćuje (i) o radu Hrvatskog izdavačkog zavoda “Croatia”, “koji je pred godinu dana osnovan sa znanjem i odobrenjem Kom. Vijeća, ustanova je i vlasništvo Komisarijata hrv. franjevaca u USA. (…) Sve dosada štampane knjige ‘Croatia’ je platila tiskari po redovitim dnevnim cijenama. Zavod je aktivan i moći će nastaviti svojim radom…”[82]
Premda je izvješće optimistično, HIZ “Croatia” nije još dugo opstao. Nije bila riječ samo o tome da se Mandić umorio, nego ni novčana potpora ni intelektualna suradnja njegovu izdavačkom pothvatu nije pristizala ni blizu kako je on očekivao.
Spomenut ćemo neke od razloga za takav neodaziv. Novčana sredstva nisu pristizala ni blizu Mandićevim očekivanjima jer prosječan hrvatski iseljenik/emigrant nije imao ni vremena ni interesa za knjigu. Glavna mu je preokupacija bilo zaraditi za potrebe svoje obitelji i školovanje djece te ponešto uštedjeti. K tomu, oni nešto imućniji nisu imali sluha za kulturne vrednote. Nažalost, rijetki su bili i oni i među dobro plaćenim profesionalcima koji su bili spremni žrtvovati ako ne vrijeme, a ono barem nešto novca za opće dobro. Takvo je stanje bilo i trajno ostalo u hrvatskoj dijaspori. Ipak, prosječan iseljenik/emigrant bio je, u granicama svojih mogućnosti, najtrajniji i najstabilniji darovatelj za sve pothvate pa i za (skromno) izdavaštvo.
Osim s financijskim problemima, fra Dominik se suočavao i s velikim poslom u pronalaženju suradnika za svoje projekte. Poseban je problem bio nedostatak prevoditelja na hrvatski ili engleski. U vezi s tim on se žali prijatelju dr. Andriji Artukoviću (pismo od 22. rujna 1953.): “Najteža je stvar s engleskim zbornikom.
Za to imam mnogo glavobolje i dopisivanja, ali stvar ide dosta sporo. Neki mi pisci još nijesu poslali svoje radove, a onda dolazi pitanje prijevoda na engleski. Ja tu ne mogu ništa učiniti, a ni ovi naši ovdje, jer dovoljno ne poznajemo engleski jezik za književni dobar prijevod. Tražim prevodioce, ali se teško nalaze, jer ljudi ili dobro ne poznaju engleski ili hrvatski. Mučim se i nastojat ću gurati dalje, nemam zadovoljstva u toj stvari, kako bi trebalo. (…) Novčano pitanje ‘Croatia’ još nije potpuno osigurano, ali se uzdam u pomoć Gospinu, da ćemo moći osigurati tiskarske troškove za nastavak rada i u slijedećoj godini. Opet je najteže za engleski Zbornik. Za taj dosada nemam ni predbroja ni novčanih prinosa gotovo ništa. (…)
Za sada sve mora biti osnovano na dragovoljnoj suradnji i ličnim žrtvama.”[83] Zbog spomenutih poteškoća zbornik na engleskom The Croatian Nation objelodanjen je tek 1955., u isto vrijeme kad se HIZ “Croatia” ugasio.
Treba napomenuti i sljedeće poteškoće s kojima se Mandić suočio, a koje možemo naslutiti iz njegova dopisivanja. Naime, dok je on sanjao da franjevački samostan u Chicagu, tiskara i izdavaštvo (pod njegovim vodstvom, naravno) postanu “franjevačka kula rada i molitve”,[84] mnogima u intelektualnim i političkim krugovima u emigraciji to nije odgovaralo. Stvarao se naime osjećaj da fratri u Chicagu svojim brojem, brojem župa koje su služili i izdavačkim djelatnostima imaju previše utjecaja ne samo na crkvenom, nego i na kulturnom i političkom polju. K tomu je većina fratara u komisarijatu bila rodom iz Hercegovine pa je nekima rast njihove moći postajao zazoran. Ovo se ponajbolje iščitava iz Mandićeva pisma Ivi Bogdanu (pisano na “Novu, Marijansku godinu 1954.”): “Uostalom ovamo često stižu vijesti, da u B. Airesu postoji cijela skupina Hrvata, pa i iz Hrv. kat. pokreta, koja javno omalovažuje ‘planinske Hrvate’, Herc. franj. Provinciju, Hrv. franj. Komisarijat u USA, našu ‘crnogorsku’ tiskaru itd. … [U] pogledu Vaše aluzije na Hrv. Izd. Zavod ‘Croatia’, kojom bi mi htjeli osigurati ‘jednoj franjevačkoj provinciji dominantnu poziciju u hrvatskoj publicistici i kulturi’. Mi u cijelom našem radu, pa i u izdanjima ‘Croatia’, ne idemo da stvaramo bilo u Iseljeništvu, bilo u Hrvatskoj nakon povraćene slobode, nikakvu prevlast niti vodstvo bilo na kojem polju. Naša je jedina namjera i želja, da služimo Bogu i svom Hrvatskom narodu, koliko nam naše sile i dane prilike dopuštaju. Službu svome narodu i svojoj sv. Crkvi nitko nam ne će moći zabraniti dok budemo imali snage i poleta.”[85]
Rastući utjecaj fratara u Chicagu ne samo da se nije sviđao antiklerikalnim strujama u hrvatskoj emigraciji, nego nije prihvaćan ni od svjetovnih svećenika,[86] ali ni među redovnicima pa i fratrima iz drugih provincija u iseljeništvu. Na primjer, Mandić osjeća da mu se u izdavačku djelatnost stalno “ubacuje” dominikanac o. Hijacint Eterović i krug hrvatskih intelektualaca koji su zajedno s njim izdavali katoličku reviju Osoba i duh. Kad je Mandić najavio izdavanje Novog zavjeta u prijevodu fra Gracijana Raspudića, Etrovićev je krug izdao Sveto pismo u prijevodu nadbiskupa Ivana Šarića. Dalje, Mandić najavljuje izdavanje zbornika o Hrvatskoj i Hrvatima na engleskom, a Eterović uskoro nakon toga najavljuje sličan zbornik.[87]
Među fratrima zadarske i splitske provincije koji su se poslije rata našli u Argentini bilo je razilaženja, a između dvaju fratarskih glasila, Glasa sv. Antuna iz Buenos Airesa i Danice iz Chicaga, u to je vrijeme vladala napetost.[88] Možda je to bilo i za očekivati. Naime, nakon poratnog kaosa formiranje raznih i različitih hrvatskih emigrantskih krugova bilo je dio procesa stabiliziranja prilika i svaka se od tih postojećih ili nastajućih skupina htjela afirmirati na svoj način i steći određen utjecaj.[89] Imalo je to i pozitivnu stranu: unosilo je dinamizam u život emigracije.
Zacijelo je bilo previše očekivati da će sve ili većina postojećih sastavnica Mandića prihvatiti kao središnju osobu oko koje će se okupljati hrvatske kulturne snage.
Tradicija i uloga na koju su fra Dominik Mandić i fratri u Hercegovini (i u nekim drugim hrvatskim provincijama) bili navikli, nije bila objeručke prihvaćena od mnogih u hrvatskom iseljeništvu pa je Mandić uvidio da će morati suziti krug svojih djelatnosti. Na prvom mjestu odlučio je pustiti da se Hrv. izd. zavod “Croatia” tiho ugasi. Takvu odluku on opravdava umorom i zdravstvenim problemima, ali pravi razlog bila su Mandićeva nerealna očekivanja da on može ujediniti hrvatske intelektualne i financijske snage u Americi, pa i u emigraciji općenito, te uspješno otpočeti novi zamah stvaralaštvu u hrvatskoj emigraciji. Njegove želje i ambicije bile su u preveliku raskoraku sa stvarnošću.
U proljeće 1955. godine istječe Mandićev mandat komisara komisarijata hrv. franjevaca, kad se gasi i “Croatia”. Nakon toga fra Dominik utemeljuje Hrvatski povijesni institut u Chicagu, koji će izdavati njegova buduća djela. Mandić se povlači u tišinu samostana sv. Ante, gdje sve do kraja života neumorno nastavlja istraživati, pisati i objavljivati priloge i knjige iz hrvatske povijesti, posebice o Bosni i Hercegovini.
Umjesto zaključka
Fra Dominik se Mandić od ranih godina penjao prema vrhuncima franjevačke hijerarhije i, premda nije postao general, bio je jedan od najutjecajnijih fratara u Redu Manje braće u vrijeme Drugog svjetskog rata i poraća. Nakon službe u Rimu dolazi u Ameriku s osjećajem da može napraviti velika djela. Ali Mandić nije bio “narodni fratar”, čovjek puka. Nije bio organizator nego službenik institucije i uvijek se držao “viđenijeg” društva u Crkvi, kulturnoj i političkoj eliti, pa i “viđenijih” fratara. Hrvatski doseljenici u Americi bili su vični drukčijim odnosima između naroda i svećenika od onih u domovini, posebice u Hercegovini i Bosni, i nisu se mogli identificirati s Mandićem ni Mandić s njima. Zato ni njegovi pothvati nisu imali odjek ili veću podršku među “običnim” ljudima u iseljeništvu.
U svom vladanju i djelovanju Mandić je o sebi imao jako visoko mišljenje i svjesno izgrađivao svoj ugled. Vidimo i u privatnim pismima da više puta naglašava osobne zasluge: bila je “moja ideja” za kupnju Swiftovih kuća, za oživljavanje Pomoćnice, za izdavački zavod… I brižno čuvanje svojih pisama, dopisa i druge arhivske građe govori da je želio da se i preko te ostavštine čuva i gaji njegov povijesni lik. I uspio je. (Je li čuvao i sve ono što nije išlo njemu u prilog, ne znamo.) Svojim glasom, oslovljavajući (gotovo) svakoga s “Vi”, ne ulazeći u otvorene verbalne konflikte i ne odgovarajući na provokacije, on je na profinjen i nenametljiv način ostavljao dojam da pripada “višoj klasi” crkvenih uglednika. A koliko sam čuo od starijih fratara u Americi, nekoć je imao i želju postati biskupom. Zato se valjda po dolasku u Ameriku jedno vrijeme i predstavljao monsignorom. Sa svim fratrima imao je korektne odnose, ali bili su rijetki (ako je bio itko) s kojima je bio blizak. Ove napomene ne umanjuju veličinu Mandićeva lika i djela, nego žele natuknuti da Mandić nije bio bez ljudskih slabosti, a ako uistinu želimo opisati čovjeka, onda i one trebaju biti dio njegova portreta.
Dobro je poznato da fra Dominik Mandić nije bio dosljedan u svojim političkim opredjeljenjima, ali je jedno sigurno: bio je dosljedan u samodisciplini i neumoran u radu, posebice od vremena kad se posvetio povijesnim istraživanjima. Poslije starješinskog mandata Mandić se nesebično dao na ustrajno istraživanje i pisanje o temama koje su bile zabranjene u komunističkoj Jugoslaviji. Svaki dan, osim nedjelje, bio mu je radni dan, pa i kad je već bio pri kraju svog života. Bio je uvjeren da svojim radom doprinosi boljitku svog hrvatskog naroda, domovine, Crkve i franjevačkog reda.

[1] Mandićeva ostavština: pismo Žarku Vlahi, svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 14.
[2] Mandićeva ostavština: Relatio, svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 37.
[3] Mandićeva ostavština: pismo V. Jeličiću, 3. siječnja 1952., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 4.
[4] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 14.
[5] Ibid., iz pisma Vitomiru Jeličiću 3. siječnja 1952., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 4.
[6] Pismo provincijalu (23. prosinca 1951.), Arhiv Provincije: SP, svezak 156, f. 18.
[7] Mandićeva ostavština: Relatio, svezak 5, mapa 1, ff. 37-44.
[8] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, ff. 78-79.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Arhiv Provincije: SP, svezak 156, f. 110.
[11] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 142.
[12] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 16. Mandić je u pismu provincijalu (23. Prosinca 1951.), između ostalog, pisao: “Želio bih samo znati, da li namjeravate, da Kapitul Provincije imenuje starješinstvo u Komisarijatu, ili da to učini Generalno starješinstvo u Rimu?” Arhiv Provincije: SP, svezak 156, f. 18.
[13] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 62.
[14] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 70.
[15] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f 105.
[16] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 106.
[17] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 112.
[18] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 84.
[19] Ibid., pismo od 10. svibnja 1955., svezak 6, mapa 2, f. 108.
[20] Ivo Sivrić, Krvave godine, Chicago – Mostar, 1996., str. 101.
[21] Bazilije Pandžić, Životopis Dr. fra Dominika Mandića, OFM., Chicago, 1994., str. 119.
[22] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 485.
[23] Fra Vendelin Vasilj (1909. – 1971.) pobjegao je iz partizanskog zarobljeništva u Sloveniji te preko Austrije i Italije 1946. došao u Ameriku. Uskoro po dolasku u Chicago objavljeno je njegovo svjedočenje u dnevniku Chicago Tribune (4. svibnja 1946.) o strahotama koje su počinili partizani krajem rata i u poraću.
[24] Fra Bazilije Pandžić 31. ožujka 1952. piše Mandiću: “Sinoć sam primio pismo od Mnog. O. Provincijala i prepisujem Vam njegovo mišljenje o Vašem imenovanju.” Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 142.
[25] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 216.
[26] B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 115.
[27] Državni arhiv u Splitu, f. 409, SUP za Dalmaciju, kut. 168., Kler – Bilten, Split, 22. Decembra 1947. – preuzeto 24. kolovoza 2013.
[28] Miroslav Akmadža, “Položaj Katoličke crkve u Hercegovini u prvim godinama komunističke vladavine”, pdf – preuzeto 23. kolovoza 2013.
[29] B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 115.
[30] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 51.
[31] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 4.
[32] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 13.
[33] B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 116.
[34] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 229.
[35] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f . 211. Pismo Mandiću od O.T:S:./ O. Tugomir Soldo/, 4. Svibnja 1952.
[36] Ekstremnim nacionalistima naziva fra Ignacije Gavran one u svijetu “kojima je smetalo što se Udruženje upušta u razgovore i surađuje s komunistima, i što su vođe Udruženja izjavljivali da žele biti lojalni građani nove države”. Velimir Blažević, “Svećeničko udruženje ‘Dobri Pastir’ s pozitivne strane”, – preuzeto 25. kolovoza 2013.
[37] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 6, mapa 2, f. 106.
[38] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 2, f. 129.
[39] Mandić (9. veljače 1952.) piše fra Davidu Zrni da im je Swift prodao kuću tako jeftino “u nadi, da ćemo ju dobro čuvati i da će ostati bitno neizmjenjena, a ito da ne će nigda doći u crnačke ruke…” Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 55.
[40] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 104 – pismo fra Dominiku Ćoriću, 11. ožujka 1952. Slično piše i fra Baziliju Pandžiću 15. ožujka 1952., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 112.
[41] U pismu provincijalu Leki Mandić donosi detaljan opis kuće. Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 107. Piše i fra Vitomiru Jeličiću (24. svibnja 1952.) da će od rezidencije napraviti samostan i svetište sv. Ante, te govori da će kuća imati sve potrebne kriterije koje zahtijevaju pravila Reda i Crkve da bi postala samostan. Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 265.
[42] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 379 – poziv Hrvatima na otvaranje samostana; “Prvi hrvatski samostan u Americi”, Croatian Almanac (Hrvatski kalendar), 1953. Chicago: Croatian Franciscan Press, 1953, str. 210-212.
[43] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 101.
[44] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 407 – pismo provincijalki Gasparini Sučić 6. rujna 1952. O dolasku sestara govori u još nekoliko pisma iz tog vremena.
[45] – preuzeto 25. kolovoza 2013.
[46] U pismu fra Baziliju Pandžiću (15. ožujka 1952.), kao i u spomenutom pismu fra Dominiku Ćoriću, Mandić piše (uz napomenu da je on dao savjet za kupnju): “ovih dana smo kupili dvije nove kuće”. To je dakle moglo biti krajem veljače ili početkom ožujka 1952. Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 4 i f. 112.
[47] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 456.
[48] I. Sivrić, Krvave godine, str. 105.
[49] U Rimu je 19. srpnja 1945. utemeljena crkvena humanitarna ustanova “Bratovština sv. Jeronima”, koja je pomagala hrvatskim izbjeglicama. Mandić je bio u odboru bratovštine i pomagao njezin rad na razne načine. – preuzeto 30. kolovoza 2013. O Mandićevu humanitarnom djelovanju tih godina u Rimu vidi B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 96 i dalje.
[50] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 485.
[51] O slanju hrane vidi, na primjer, ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 500 i svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 647.
[52] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 637.
[53] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 136.
[54] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 155.
[55] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 130 – pismo Hrvatskom dobrotvornom društvu 8. travnja 1954. Dobrotvorno društvo bosansko-hercegovačkih Hrvata u Italiji Mandića je zbog njegovih zasluga u humanitarnom radu 26. prosinca 1953. imenovalo svojim počasnim članom, i na toj godišnjoj skupštini promijenilo ime u Hrvatsko dobrotvorno društvo u Rimu. Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 01.
[56] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 391. Radi uspostave dobrih odnosa jugo-režima i Crkve, vlč. Borošaku bilo je kasnije zabranjeno djelovati u izbjegličkim logorima. Nadalje, u izbjegličkim logorima u Italiji krajem 1948. godine još je bilo 2726 Hrvata, a od toga 136 djece. Vidi Andrija Lukinović, “Bratovština sv. Jeronima na djelu”, dio III, Studia Croatica, . – preuzeto 30. kolovoza 2013.
[57] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 479. Vidi i pismo od 6. srpnja 1954., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 248. O teškim prilikama hrvatskih izbjeglica u Austriji vidi pismo Mandiću na engleskom jeziku (7. siječnja 1955.) od Joan Freifrau von Maltzhan. Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 2, f. 05-07.
[58] Ibid., sveza. 5, mapa 2, f. 345, f. 485, f. 657, te svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 314 i f. 315. Pavlu Ciligi slao je mjesečno 50 dolara.
[59] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 338 i f. 546.
[60] Američki su biskupi Pomoćnici tada darovali 10.000 dolara. B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 96.
[61] Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 435.
[62] Na sastanku Saveza u Chicagu 26. listopadu 1953. Fond je jedna od točaka dnevnog reda. Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 466.
[63] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 63. Pismo Ž. Vlahi datirano je 2. veljače 1953. pa događanja s Fondom i HRPA mora da su bila 1952., a ne “ove godine”, kako u pismu stoji.
[64] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 562. Novodošle je trebalo smjestiti kod nekoga od župljana, pobrinuti se za hranu, biti im prevoditelj, naći im posao… Fra Berto Dragićević posebno se bavio useljeničkim pitanjem. Vidi na primjer Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 193.
[65] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 2, f. 215.
[66] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 673. Mandić je najvjerojatnije autor teksta.
[67] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 286.
[68] Vidi pisma Vjekoslava Luburića Mandiću od 29. travnja 1956. Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 3, ff. 39-41 i 3. lipnja 1956. Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 3, ff. 49-51.
[69] O domobranstvu u Americi pobliže vidi Mario Jareb, Ustaško-domobranski pokret: od nastanka do travnja 1941., Zagreb: Školska knjiga, 2006. Pobliže o dr. Branku Jeliću vidi Jere Jareb, Političke uspomene i rad dra Branka Jelića. Cleveland: M. Šamija, 1982. (Chicago: Hrvatska franjevačka tiskara).
[70] Vidi, na primjer, pismo Vinka Nikolića Mandiću od 10. siječnja 1953. Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 2, ff. 22-23.
[71] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 266.
[72] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 164.
[73] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 188.
[74] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 05.
[75] Na primjer kad je objavljen članak Bogdana Radice, “Cardinal Stepinac and Dictator Tito”, u liberalnom neovisnom katoličkom listu Commonweal iz New Yorka (Vol. LVII, br. 25, 27. Ožujka 1953. str. 618-621), u kojem je oklevetao hercegovačke franjevce u stilu jugo-komunističke propagande, Mandić je na te neistine oštro reagirao te, među ostalim, pisao uredniku lista (D. Mandić, svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 194) i objavio u Danici 8. travnja 1953. članak naslovljen “Klevete g. Bogdana Radice protiv franjevaca iz Hercegovine”. Mandićeva ostavština: svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 201. Da mu je dužnost braniti istinu i fratre, Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 280.
[76] Pismo Dušanu Žanku (početkom 1953.), Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 7. Slično piše Vatri Murvaru, Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 8; Franji Trogrančiću u pismu (14. siječnja 1953.), Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 27; vel. Anti Livajušiću (14. siječnja 1953.) i predlaže mu da pripremi životopis S. B. Leopolda B. Mandića, Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 28.
[77] Mandić je boravio u Rimu od 26. listopada do 2. prosinca 1952. Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 500.
[78] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 59.
[79] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 131.
[80] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 27.
[81] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 95.
[82] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 105.
[83] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 465.
[84] Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 104.
[85] Ibid., svezak 6, mapa 1, f. 05.
[86] Na primjer, časna sestra Bazilija Popović, za vrijeme svog putovanja i kupljenja darova po Americi, (25. studenog 1952.) piše Mandiću i sljedeće: “Držim da sam dužna reći Prečasnom kao poglavaru još jedno, naravski strogo povjerljivo. Na mom putovanju susrećem se sa mnogima, pa mi onako prostodušno govore svega. ‘Kako ćemo mi biti dobri i složni, kad je mržnja i nesloga među našim fratrima i svjetov. svećenicima. Fratri su previše zagriženi.’” Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 482.
[87] Vidi Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 238; svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 258; svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 621, svezak 5, mapa 2, ff. 422-424 i B. Pandžić, Životopis, str. 130.
[88] Vidi pismo Ive Lendića Mandiću (15. svibnja 1953.), Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, ff. 301-310; pisma Ive Bogdana Mandiću (21. studenog 1953. i 18. prosinca 1953.), Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, ff. 591-592; Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, ff. 650-651. Mandića pismo (22. svibnja 1953) fra Stjepanu Rade u Buenos Aires, Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 2, f. 321.
[89] Čak i vodstvo Saveza hrvatskih ratnih ozljeđenika i nemoćnika iz Argentine protestira što fratarska Hrvatska pomoćna akcija kupi pomoć i za invalide, a to je njihova zadaća i dužnost. Ibid., svezak 5, mapa 1, f. 449.