A) THE INTERPELLATION TO THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT
Introduction to the Document
On 6 July 1918, Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), a prominent member of the Pure Party of Right (Čista stranka prava), then led by Vladimir Prebeg, submitted to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb, an Interpellation on behalf of his political party. The Interpellation dealt with Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian prisoners-of-war in Odessa.
This address was a well-planned political move by the Pure Party of Right, which was in opposition and which wanted, through this Interpallation, to split the Croatian-Serbian Coalition (Hrvatsko-srpska koalicija), the ruling Party in the Croatian Parliament and, eventually, under the pressure of public opinion, to remove it from power. However, they did not succeed in this because of the overall political situation. The war was rapidly coming to an end and other political forces were already in action, resulting in the creation, on 5 and 6 October 1918, of the National Council of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs (Narodno vijeće Slovenaca, Hrvata i Srba) in Zagreb, which became the supreme political body in Croatian areas.
The Coalition which the Serbian wing dominated, was led by Svetozar Pribićević, who favored the idea of Greater Serbia. His brother, Milan, was a colonel in the Serbian Army and had been sent — as noted earlier — on a military mission to North America to recruit volunteers, but had largely failed to do so. The brothers cooperated closely. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Milan had met secretly with his brother, Svetozar, the most influential leader in the Croatian Parliament. Svetozar later inspired the National Council (Narodno vijeće) to reject a Proclamation by the Emperor Karl to change the Habsburg Monarchy into a federal state of autonomous nations. Instead, on 29 October 1918, the Croatian Parliament severed relations with Austria-Hungary, after having been a member of the Monarchy since 1527. The National Council then proclaimed Croatia and Slovenia as an independent state — the State of Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — and assumed the powers of the new state. The Council then nominated provincial governments for Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia, with Zagreb as capital. Nevertheless, the Council did not succeed in organizing a state government in spite of the fact that it had at its disposal practically all the attributes needed to do so: a Croatian Army; a Croatian fleet, which Austria-Hungary had surrendered to the Council; a solid and honest civil service and administration; and a central government in the Sabor (Parliament). Who was responsible for this failure? In our opinion the main responsibilities for this failure lay with the followers of the Yugoslav idea who sought a “union” of Croatia with Serbia, and so impeded the consolidation of the new Croatian-Slovenian state.
On 1 December 1918, Dr. Ante Pavelić106, a member of the Croatian Parliament and Vice-President of the National Council, headed a delegation to Belgrade for the purpose of promoting a “union” of the newly created State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs — which the Serbian Government recognized officially — with the Kingdom of Serbia. The Serbian Regent and Heir Apparent, Alexander Karadjordjević, then proclaimed (l December 1918) the creation of a new common State, the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenians (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca) which comprised three States — the State of the Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia, and the Kingdom of Montenegro.
In this rush of far-reaching political events, the Interpellation, although it momentarily had an impact on public opinion was soon pushed aside by new events and has remained more or less unknown to the Croatian public, despite the fact that it was published by Obzor, a daily newspaper in Zagreb, and by papers in other towns as well. News of it was also reported in the Central Powers’ press.107
The Interpellation was written by Alexander Horvat (1875-1926), working with his closest collaborators in the Pure Party of Right. A great deal of information on Serbian mistreatment of Croatian and Slovenian POWs in Odessa, was obtained from Mirko Puk. Before Puk escaped from Russian captivity, he handed over a bundle of relevant documents to the Red-Cross service in Odessa. On his safe return to his native Croatia, he was given these documents and subsequently passed them to Horvat. Other volunteers, who had meanwhile returned from Russia, also supplied him with relevant documents.
The text of the Interpellation is presented here in its full length, as it was published in the Public Records, but without repetitions by the Speaker, and without most irrelevant or personal remarks by other delegates and the public in the galleries, which have been included only if they were significant.
On several occasions Dr. Horvat did not close his citations by quotation marks in the text, so we have closed them here with inverted marks in parenthesis. We have also added some words throughout the text for purposes of clarity. Some parts of the text of the Interpellation are not quite clear. This was due to imprecision of the reporters who submitted, directly or indirectly, their texts to Horvat. The elisions, signifying an interruption of the text are marked in the original.
The 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 , 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 , 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 , 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?
 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.
 Whether the Ro[yal] Croatian Government is willing to inform our [i.e., the Austro-Hungarian] Department of Foreign Affairs, about these horrors committed in the name and by order of Royal Serbia which is at war with us, in order to be able to deal with this unheard-of transgression of international law, on the occasion of peace negotiations and procure appropriate reparations to the Croatian soldiers who did not betray their beliefs, and to their families.”
(Thunderous applause from the Party of Right.) [The End]
B) MILAN ŠPOLJAREC’S ARTICLE:
“ODESAŠ NA IZVORIMA ZLOCINA.”
In the 13 January 1954 issue of the Croatian newspaper Hrvatska (Croatia), published in Buenos Aires, Milan Špoljarec published an article entitled: “Odesa. Na izvorima zločina” (Odessa. At the Sources of Crime). When he wrote this article, Špoljarec was probably the last living eyewitness in the world who could still tell us first-hand about the crimes committed by the Serbs in Odessa in 1917, and we can compare his testimony with that in our document. For these reasons, we will translate Špoljarec’s article in its entirety.
I was recruited for the Austro-Hungarian Navy on 15 August 1914. Recruiting training started in Rijeka. The old ship Belona was our barracks, office, and ambulance.
From here, I was assigned to the ship San Ištvan [Szent Istvan, sunk in July 1918], where I for the first time started to learn about the Serbs. A certain sergeant of the Chief of Staff, a Dalmatian Serb (at least he felt himself to be that), persecuted me on every occasion. In this he was helped by a lieutenant of the frigate, Miliković, a member of the Greek Orthodox faith. I was compelled to demand a transfer; so I went to the 16th Infantry Regiment in Bjelovar and from there to the Russian front.
With this regiment I experienced my “baptism of fire” and went through many battles. As a result of a change in the fortunes of war, on 7 September 1915, during a retreat by my regiment, I was in the rearguard which consisted of the 6th (mine) and the 7th companies. That afternoon at about six o’clock I fell into Russian captivity.
We walked for fourteen days. On the way the inhabitants looked at us inquisitively, throwing food to us. Those who were stronger did better. Many fell and remained behind because of hunger, and God only knows what their fate was. Exhausted and starving, we came to Prehorvata. From there we went by train to Kiev, and after that to Derniec, where we finally stopped. Here there was a larger camp with some 40,000 prisoners of war. There were also many different nationalities from the Austro-Hungarian regions, Germans, and Bulgarians.
Coming into this camp, they made an exception for us Croatians. They separated us from all the other nationalities, formed us into a line and then robbed us. They took away all our belongings in the true sense of the word: watches, rings, money, knives, forks, combs and even pulled off our shoes, took off our heavy coats and blankets, and tore off our medals. At first when they separated us, we thought that this would be beneficial to us. But what a disappointment when they started to rob us and, in addition, to do so in a mocking way: “These you do not need. You will get that from the Russians brand-new. Why you have come into a land of wealth and amity.” The Serbs and the Czechs did all this because they had the upper hand in the camp.
The camp was without amenities. Prisoners of war died day and night because of the hunger and cold. When called to work, we Croatians also wanted to go, because this was an opportunity to have a mouthful of food. But they rejected us.
After fourteen days, we Croatians finally were lined up. A small ray of hope appeared in our eyes. But what happened? The very same Serbs who had plundered us not too long ago, came with caps (šajkače) on their heads and started to offer us their help and protection. They delivered long speeches to us: “Brother Croatians, you fell into Russian captivity. But the Russians are Russians. They do not give you anything, neither accommodations nor food. This little millet in hot water, without fat and salt, cannot be called food. How long can you endure that? They do not permit you to go to work, for there you will find amenities, clothes, and food.” They spoke to us in this way, those same ones who had plundered us, chose those who would go to work, those who were daily preparing the millet in hot water!
However, this was not all. After this sad introduction they came with generous proposals and nice promises: “In order to be closer to your dear fatherland, we accept you, brother-Croatians, under our protection. We will transfer you to Serbia. There, they will give you bread and work. Those who want may go to the factories which are numerous and do not have enough workers.
Farmers are also accepted; one may also join the police force, and become officers or gendarmes and join the army too. Everywhere you will be equal to us Serbians.”
Amongst the several thousand Croatians, there were in the camp some thirty [Orthodox] Vlachs from Bačka [the area between the Danube and and Tisa Rivers] who accepted. All the rest of us preferred the camp with hunger and slow death. We had learned more than enough about them during that short time. We threw back in their faces all the dirty tricks which they had done to us.
The next day those thirty or so Vlachs came among us with the šajkače and the Serbian tricolor on their heads. They brought us bread and bacon and offered it to us to eat. None of us — not even yesterday’s friends — looked at them nor accepted their food.
One and a half months passed thus when, finally, the Croatians also started to be sent to work. I was transported with a group of 1800 Croatians to Kremčuh [Kremchukh]. A new life [began] but still a bitter one. We were loading grain into the wagons in groups of ten.
And until ten wagons — one wagon per person — were loaded, there was no dinner for us which the brother Serbs and Czechs were preparing. After dinner, new work: patching sacks, and there were an immense number of them. This work was performed from supper, which was never taken before 11:30 at night, and sometimes even at two o’clock in the morning. Only after that was there a short rest under the tents with one’s shoes under one’s head and sleeping in a great-coat, instead of on a mattress, and then all over again — really the life of a slave, under the command of the Serbs and the Czechs.
Between them and us relations were so tense that one night fighting and retaliation broke out. Our men were using bottles and bare fists, while the Serbs had kitchen-knives. There were many wounded on both sides, on our side about 15, of which one succumbed because of his wounds. So the Serbo-Croatian brotherhood has been sealed with blood!
This conflict had, for the time being, some positive consequences. The Serbs and the Czechs were removed, which brought peace for some time in our sad life. So it was until the Spring of 1916, when a group of some fifty Serbs again came to our camp. After their arrival, during the next five months, ten Croatians were killed in a mysterious way. This incident was sufficient for us to understand why the Serbs had come here.
In the spring I was transferred, along with some 320 Croatians, to Piščana Gora [Pishchana Gora is near Kremchukh] to the military warehouse where life became considerably better.
Here one day we were standing in a line when a Serbian officer and a non-commissioned officer (podčasnik) came forward. They delivered a speech trying to persuade us to join the so-called Serbian Legion. During the speech, we were talking among ourselves. Too bad that this was not recorded on film! Even though our talk only served the purpose of showing them how little we cared about listening to them, I still heard several things with one ear, though unintentionally. This was a call to join the Serbian Army and for a future common state which would particularly reward the volunteers with profitable posts in the state service, while each peasant volunteer would receive several acres of land (više jutara zemlje) [1 jutro=1 acre], two oxen three cows, one pig, a house, a stable, farm buildings and all the necessary tools.
After that a certain Šimatović of Križevci asked to speak. He had previously lived in Šibenik [Dalmatia] and asked the Serbian officer how he should address him, for he did not know his [military] grade. To this [the officer] answered:
—I am a Serbian lieutenant, a Serbian mother bore me and with her milk nursed me. What would you like [my] son?
After Šimatović had disproved all the false promises the Serb [officer] had made, and [showed that he] talked a lot of nonsense (nadrobio), he finished with these words:
—As long as you Serbs, who call yourselves a type of Yugoslav, continue conquering Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia (and let us not speak of Croatia), even the last Yugoslav will disappear!
Šimatović paid with [his] head for these words. The Serbian [ officer] shot down “his son” in front of our eyes.
This same Serbian non-commissioned officer threatened us, telling us all that we would not see our homes for he would wait for us with his [? soldiers] on the border and decapitate us, put [us] in front of the cannon, or hang us from the trees.
Being conscious of our difficult position and perturbed by Šimatović’s death, we begged the commander of the town, a Russian colonel of German origin, to protect us from the Serbs. We told him that we were soldiers of the Kingdom of Croatia and therefore did not wish any kind of a union with the Kingdom of Serbia, and never to fight against that side on which, as officers and soldiers, our brothers and fathers, were serving.
The Colonel replied that he was personally helpless in this matter, but he would intercede on our behalf through the Ministry of the Army in Petrograd. At the same time he informed us that the Serbs would soon transport us to Odessa.
It was true. Some twenty days later, a Serbian company arrived and surrounded our quarters. They forced us into the courtyard and, while standing in a line, they counted us, searched our pockets and took away all the money from those who had any. “Forward! ” [they ordered] up to the railway station. Here they pressed us into the railroad wagons and closed the doors with padlocks. I do not know how many days the journey to Odessa lasted, for during the whole trip they did not open the wagons and wagons were dark. But because of our empty stomachs, it seemed long. For all this time they did not give us food at all, while the air was suffocating and stinking; we relieved our needs in one comer of the wagon. When we arrived in Odessa, other Serbs opened the wagons and criticized those who had deported us in such an inhuman way. They told us:
“Those who have neither heart nor soul have done that. One does not treat even cattle in such a way and never men. Those [Serbs] who conducted you here, are already in jail, while the commanders will be brought to the military court and shot.”
We know that they were telling a blatant lie. Lying is in their blood. They took us to wash, then to eat and, in the end, the old story [all over again]. At first they got all the facts from each one of us individually in the writing room, then came an explanation of why they brought us to Odessa: to join the Serbian Army against the common enemy.
We tried to prove to them that we did not have a common enemy: on the other side of the battle-line were our fathers, brothers and relatives; we had taken an oath of allegiance to the legitimate Croatian King. For this reason we could not support the Serbian cause, but we begged them to consider us as prisoners of war and to treat us according to international agreements (the Geneva Conventions).
To this they responded that they [actually] did not need us but only gave us three days to think it over, and when we saw, they said, what kind of life and treatment they would give us, maybe some of us would like it and join their ranks.
Then they gave us “better” accommodations, lined us up close to a wall and ordered us to undress. Then they obliged us, one by one, to lie down on a bench; one beat us and the other counted until twenty-five strokes were given. “Now you may think it over for three days.”
Three days later, there was again an interrogation, but a shorter one.
—”Brother Corporal — he asked me first — did you think it through, do you want to join our fighting units or not?”
—”No!” was my answer.
—”No!” answered one by one the line.
—Nobody [said] “Yes.”
The Serbian captain who interrogated us turned to the guards [and said]:
[“] Take them back to think it over for three more days.”
We arrived again at the same accommodations. The same treatment of 25 strokes. Some of us, starved, weakened, and exhausted, lost consciousness under the blows. Each of these unfortunate ones were put into a sack in front of our eyes and thrown into a cart which was standing in front of the door.
The same was repeated for the third time. Those who lived through it and survived nine [such] days and 75 strokes, had to take off all their clothes and stay only in their underpants and shirts. Then they kept them in a cellar. In each such cellar there were ten Croatians. Each day the batinaši [those who beat others] visited us two or three times with pictures of [Emperor] Franz Joseph [of Austria-Hungary] and [King] Peter Karadjordjević [of Serbia], asking:
—Do you love this picture of Peter?
—No! were the persistent Croatian answers.
With each “no” they returned with beatings, kicking, torture, and those who lost consciousness were put in sacks.
For eight days we stayed in those cellars and each day there was the [same] “whom do you love?” routine and putting of the unconscious into sacks and each day there were fewer of us. They also brought us into the courtyard in order to see what was awaiting us for sure. The scene was terrible:
Battered Croatians had to go through double lines of Serbs, of whom there were about two hundred and each one with a stick in his hand. Some of those wretched ones could not endure even the third blow and fell. After the tenth [blow], not a single one held out on this final path to his death.
The other scene was equally terrible: They [the Serbs] put those tortured and battered Croatian soldiers one by one into the middle of a [large] cellar and then, sealed with wire, poured upon them boiling water till they expired, suffering most serious injuries and torments.
After eight terrible days, the Russian colonel came from Petrograd with a commission. He had kept his word as an officer. He wrested us from the murderers’ hands; but of 920 men at the beginning, only 80 of us had survived. We were checked by the doctor, investigated by the Russian commission about our treatment by the Serbs, and then taken to a hospital.
After two months we left the hospital and Odessa as well and returned to our old place, but only 71 of us, for nine could not recover from the “brotherly” kiss.
This I described in honor of the “brother” Serbs and those enthusiasts among the Croatians, who thought — and some perhaps still think — about a union of Croatians and Serbians.
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.
- Primary Sources
3. Secondary Sources:
- A) Books
- 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.
Lloyd George, David. War Memoirs of Lloyd George (Boston: Little Brown, 1963). Vols. 4 and 5.
Meštrović, Ivan. Uspomene na političke Ijude i dogadjaje. (Buenos Aires: Knjiinica Hrvatske Revije, 1961) 417 pp.
Potočnjak, Franko. Iz emigracije Vol. I. (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Il (Zagreb: Komisija knjižare Mirka Breyera, 1919), Vol. Ill (Zagreb: Tisak «Tipografija», 1926). Vol. IV (Zagreb . Tisak «Narodnih novina,» 1926).
Steed, Henry Wickham. Through Thirty Years. 1892-1922; A Personal Narrative. (London: William Heinemann, 1924) 2 Vols.
3. Secondary Sources
- A) Books
Albrecht-Carrié, René. Italy at the Paris Peace Conference (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938). 575 pp.
Hanak, Harry. Great Britain and Austria-Hungary During the First World War: a Study in Formation of Public Opinion. (London: Oxford University Press, 1962).
Hancock, W. K. Smuts; the Sanguine Years 1870-1919. (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1962).
Kapidžić, Hamdija. Bosna i Hercegovina pod austrougarskom upravom; članci i rasprave. (Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1968).
Kiszling, Rudolf. Die Kroaten; der Schicksalsweg eines Südslawenvolkes. (Graz-Köln: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1956).
Kruševac, Todor. Sarajevo pod austro-ugarskom upravom. 18781918. (Sarajevo: [Izdanje muzeja grada Sarajeva], 1963.
Lučonoša (pseud.). Hrvatsko pitanje i Londonski ugovor (Zagreb: Tisak “Tipografija”, 1937).
Mamatey, Victor S. The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918; a Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957).
Mandić, Dominik. Hrvati i Srbi dva stara različna naroda. (Munchen-Barcelona: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije, 1971).
Mandić, Dominik. Hrvatske zemlje u prošlosti i sadašnjosti. (Rim: Izdanje Ranjeni labud, 1972).
Marjanović, Milan. Londonski ugovor iz 1915; prilog povijesti borbe za Jadran, 1914-1917. (Eds., Mijo Marković and Vaso Bogdanov) (Zagreb: JAZU, 1960).
Die nationale Abgrenzung im Süden; ein Beitrag zur Realisierung der Selbstbestimmung der Vôlker Oesterreich-Ungarns. (Zagreb: Kommission bei L. Hartmann ‘s Buchhandlung (St. Kugli)], 1917).
Petrinović, Ivo. Ante Trumbić; Politička shvaćanja i djelovanje. (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1986).
Pilar, Ivan. Južnoslavensko pitanje; prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja (Die südslavische Frage und der Weltkrieg; ubersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-Problems). L. V. Südland (pseud.). [Transl. Wien 1918, ed. by Fedor Pucek] (Zagreb: Izdanje Matice Hrvatske, 1943).
Seton-Watson, Robert William. The South Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy. (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969 [Reprint of 1911 ed.]).
Sforza, Carlo. Fifty Years of War and Diplomacy in the Balkans; Pašić and the Union of the Yugoslavs. (Trans., J. G. Clemanceau Le Clerq.) (New York: AMS Press, 1966, Reprint of 1940 ed.).
Smith-Pavelić, Ante. Dr. Ante Trumbić; problem hrvatsko-srpskih odnosa. (Munchen: Knjižnica Hrvatske Revije. 1959.
Starčević, Ante. Izabrani spisi (ed., Blaz Jurišić) (Zagreb: Izdanje Hrvatskog Izdavačkog Bibliografskog Zavoda. 1943).
Šepić, Dragovan. Italija, Saveznici i Jugoslavensko pitanje, 1914-1918. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1970).
Šidak, Jaroslav. Povijest hrvatskog naroda g. 1860-1914. (Zagreb: Školska knjiga. 1968).
Šišić, Ferdo. Pregled povijesti hrvatskog naroda. [Ed., Jaroslav Šidak] (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska. 1962).
Wexler, Robert J., ed. Woodrow Wilson. 1856-1924; Chronology, Documents, Bibliographic Aids. (Dobbs Ferry. N.Y.: Oceana Publications. 1969).
- 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.