from Ideology to Aggression
To Extermination: Ours or Yours? (1902)
An article detailing views of Serbian cultural and
political superiority over the Croats, which basically negated the existence of the
Croatians as a separate nation
Nikola Stojanovic (1880-1964) was a politician and lawyer from Mostar. Before World War I
he was very active in opposing the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and founded an opposition
paper called "Narod" (Nation). During the war he was part of the Yugoslav
Committee, which worked to unite the South Slavs. He was considered an expert on
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and was an adviser for that region during the Peace Conference of
1918-19. The following article, first published in "Srbobran" (a Zagreb-based
periodical) number 168-9 in 1902, shows that his commitment to the Yugoslav ideal only
went as far as it would help to realize greater Serbian aims. It is apparent that
Stojanovic was influenced by scholars like Karadzic, who tried to negate the validity of
any claims the Croatians make to a separate nationhood, by saying that the Croatians can
only be defined by Catholicism and as a "subservient" people. Stojanovic also
displays a certain disdain and even hatred for the Croatians, a trait that later Greater
Serbian ideologists and politicians would exhibit towards any other nation that hindered
the realization of their goals.
Immediately after its publication, this article touched off an anti-Serbian riot in
Zagreb, the Croatian capital.
* * *
"Serbs and Croats are, according to some, two tribes of the same nation; to others
two separate nations (nationalities); still to others one nation, one tribe.
A tribe originates in the time before the formation of a state, a nation emerges in a
state at the initiative of one tribe. In our history, this role was filled by the tribe of
Stevan Nemanja, but after this we have many examples showing that Serbian leaders didn't
want or didn't comprehend the union of interests of all religions, without which there can
be no talk of a political union. The Serbs were politically united during the defense of
Kosovo and by the subsequent shared fate of slavery under the same authority. Cultural
unity, founded by Saint Sava, was at its best in this magnificent defense and in the later
amalgamation of the Serbian aristocracy with democracy into one indivisible, wonderful
whole-democracy with aristocratic pride. In this lies the importance of the Battle of
Kosovo, in this sense the Serbian defeat in Kosovo meant one great victory.
During the time of their independence, or after their union with the Hungarians, the
Croatians did not have a developed national consciousness nor a comprehension of the
common interests of all Croats. The Congress of Split in 924, when the Croats changed
their church liturgy from Slavic to Latin, and the fact that before the pact with Koloman
there was 12 tribes (which is shown on the Croatian coat of arms) most clearly shows this.
The Croatian nobles united with the Hungarian nobility in 1102, with whom they were united
by religion-the one unifying element of those times. Feudalism was imposed on the common
people. The difference in religion between the nobles and the serfs, which was the key to
Serbian resistance, could not play a role among the Croats, because they all had the same
faith. Of course, the clergy helped make the people even less capable of political action.
This is how it came to today's situation, where the mass of people do not participate in
any political struggles, and the Croatian interests are represented by a few cliques who
serve everybody's interests except those of the Croatians, and have succeeded in having
them identified with the Croatian people.
The Croatians have neither a separate language, nor unified customs, nor a firmly unified
lifestyle, nor, most importantly, a sense of mutual affiliation, and because of this
cannot be a distinct or separate nation.
The Croatians are thus neither a tribe nor a separate nationality. They are now something
between a tribe and a nationality, but without hope of ever becoming a separate
nationality. . . Their wandering in the 19th century from Gaj's Illyrianism to
Strossmeyer's Yugoslavism to Starcevic's Croatianism proves this quite well. Their
leaders, who wanted to create a nationality to fit the needs of others, forgot that a
nation as a product of history is not created over night, and that various myths cannot
destroy the Serbian pride in their past, expressed in their epic poetry, and put in its
place pride in the 'shining Croatian past'. Their celebration of Zvonimir, who by choice
became the pope's vassal, of those thousands of soldiers, who in the service of Austria
fell on the battlefields of central and southern Europe, their elevation of Ban Josip
Jelacic as a national hero, who was nothing more than a servant of the Viennese camarilla
used against the Hungarians, are very typical of the Croatian people. That nation which
sees its ideal in the service of others cannot seek anything more than to be
that-servants. This is the morale that rules Croatia today.
It is a sad fate of a nation that is ever a servant and a toy in someone else's hands! Can
there even be talk of national pride? And what can this group accomplish in a battle with
a nation whose image of a hero is identical to the image of a Serbian and where along with
democratic rule there is a great noble feeling and pride?
Croatians often assert that they have some sort of cultural advantage over the Serbians.
Those who do not have a distinct view of the world (in religion, customs, education etc.),
no national art nor literature, dare to speak of Croatian culture.
Croatians, therefore, are not and cannot be a separate nationality, but they are on the
way to becoming part of the Serbian nationality. Taking on Serbian as their literary
language was the most important step in this
The process of blending is unstoppable, as these are masses speaking the same language,
and by the same token we must reject without any declamation of unity a battle between the
intelligentsia and the middle class; as the Serbs and Croats in today's form are two
The struggle which is going on between liberalism and conservatism is personified in the
struggle between the Serbs and the Croats. The contrast between the historical state right
which serves as the basis for all Croatian parties (which is not found in any liberal
parties-at least not in Europe) and the natural ights expressed in Serbian national
thought which is the basis of Serbian political programs (and shows no trace of
clericalism or conservatism) is the best proof of this.
There are hardly any Croatian newspapers that do not have priests in the editorial staff
or managing them; there are no important corporations where the clergy is not represented.
Identifying Catholicism with Croatianism, they have truly succeeded in setting up a great
obstacle for the penetration of Serbian thought. It is interesting that in Djivo's (Ivan
Gundulic) classic city this did not come to pass. The proud people of Dubrovnik decided on
Serbianism, although the other Dalmantian cities, which were under the influence of the
same Italian culture, decided on Croatianism. Dubrovnik was a free republic, but the
remaining cities were under the domination of Venice. The liberated people decided to go
with the liberated and progressive Serbian nation, the subjugated people chose subservient
and regressive Croatia.
This is the best proof that only concepts of freedom separate us, that we are simply two
In the struggle between these parties there can be no talk of unity, as their principles
come from a separate foundation, and because the Croatians are somebody else's
avant-garde, whereas the Serbians represent the principle of the "the Balkans for the
On the basis of this principle the Serbs must unite with other Balkan nations, leaving
internal Balkan questions for another time. Croatians, as the representatives of foreign
expansionist desires, are totally excluded from this, not because of their national
characteristics, rather as a nation that allowed its fate to be managed by a few cliques
who are obviously serving the interests of foreign governments.
This struggle must lead to an extermination "of ours or yours". One side must
submit. That this will be the Croats is assured by their small size, geographic location,
surroundings (as they are mixed in with Serbs everywhere) and the general process of
evolution, where the Serbian ideal means progress.
With the education of the masses and their participation in politics, the clericist idea
will finally subside. The fall of clericalism in our nation means the fall of Croatianism.
We hope that this will happen soon, for there is a sizeable number in the intelligentsia
among the Croats who are spurring this process along, seeing that a unified Serbian nation
means economic, political and cultural independence, and freedom from German encroachment.
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