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An International Symposium
"SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE 1918-1995"


Publisher: Croatian Heritage Foundation & Croatian Information Centre
For the Publisher: Ante Beljo
Expert Counsellor: Dr. sc. Dragutin Pavlicevic
Editor: Aleksander Ravlic
Graphic Design: Gorana Benic - Hudin
Printed by: TARGA
Copies Printed: 2000
ISBN 953-6525-05-4

IMPRESSUM

CONTENTS


 

 


Dr. sc. Stjepan Srsan
director of Historical Archives in Osijek
research associate history of Slavonija and Baranja
Povijesni arhiv, K. Firongera 1
54000 Osijek-Croatia

ETHNIC CHANGES IN BARANJA, 1918 -1995
Until the Turkish advance at the commencement of the 16th century, Croatians and Hungarians resided in Baranja. Nevertheless, with the Turkish advances during the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a growing number of refugees from Serbia and Bosnia, Catholics and the Orthodox (Croatians, Serbians, Vlachs, Montenegrins and others) entering Baranja. During the Turkish Wars, many castles, churches and villages that had been built in the Middle Ages were destroyed and the migrations mixed the population of diverse national groups. During the battle for liberation from the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 17th century, significant ethnic changes occurred since almost the entire Muslim population and a part of the Orthodox population, in particular those who served in Turkish units, retreated, along with the Turkish army. Nevertheless, some "raja" (Christian Turkish subjects without rights), Croatians, Hungarians and somewhat less, Orthodox settlers, especially Serbians, remained in the villages.

Two landed estates in the 18th century gave Baranja its characteristics: the Belje Estate, first owned by Prince Eugen of Savoy and afterwards by the Archducal House of Habsburg and the Darda Estate, first owned by General Veterani and afterwards by Esterhazi, Palfi and Schaumburg Lippe, western European aristocrats. Through cultural, economic, and social developments in the 18th century, Baranja rapidly attained western European standards. Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches were constructed. Many citizens took to work and found prosperity on the fertile land. Religious life was organized by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant parishes, civil life by the Baranja county, while estate owners managed commercial affairs and, until 1848, administrative-judicial affairs of the first stage. Baranja was situated in Hungary, although the borders between Croatia and Hungary were not as strictly specified as they were following 1918, namely, properties, church territories, ethnic mixture and cultural ties were so strong that free communication always existed in the Croatian-Hungarian community. Throughout history until 1918, it has been stated that the inter-ethnic relations in Baranja were good. It was understood that the people were to be respectful and loyal subjects on the land they resided upon respecting her laws and working towards the welfare of the state and one’s own home. It is known from documents, old maps, and censuses that the border with Serbia until 1918 were the Danube and Sava Rivers. Thus, Vojvodina and Baranja had always situated in the composition of Croatian-Hungarian state.

In the schematism (official list of people belonging to the church administration) of the Pecs Diocese for 1855, printed in Pecs in Latin, there exists data and authentic sources for the population of Baranja. The Pecs Diocese included the deaneries of Branjin Vrh and Darda in Croatian Baranja. When the Greek separate ceremony is listed in the schematism as religious affiliation, it is then in general understood that these are people of Serbian nationality, although some other nationalities which were represented by religious affiliation to the Orthodox faith (Vlachs, Romanians, Macedonians, Bosnians, Greeks, and such) should also be taken into consideration.

According to Revai Lexicon (Volume II, p. 587) 1900, in the district of Branjin Vrh (southern Baranja, Croatian Baranja) there were 47, 470 inhabitants. They include:

Hungarians 17,325 (35.0%),
Croatians 11,198 (23.6%),
Germans 12,324 (26.0%),
Serbians 5,873 (12.4%),
Others 750 ( 1.5%)

TABLE 1: Religious afiliation of the inhabitans off Baranja in 1855

Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, in her former southeastern territories, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was established. On December 1, 1918, however, Serbian diplomacy and politics, with the aid of the army, realised the unification of all territories into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes, later to become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This is when Serbia began to actualize the idea of one great state on territory where Serbs (people of the Orthodox faith) lived or settled on. Thus, the territory of Vojvodina and Baranja came under the authority of a separate Serbian administration. Croatia protested against the administrative annexation of Baranja and Vojvodina since Baranja had never belonged to Serbia, neither constitutionally, culturally nor ethnically, but had always gravitated towards Croatia and Hungary. This was the work of the Serbian occupation of Baranja, since prior to 1919, only some 12% of the population of Baranja were Serbian who were the fourth largest national group following the Hungarians, Germans and Croatians. Nevertheless, after 1918, the Belgrade regime began to settle Baranja with Serbian volunteers from the Salonika Front and placed its people on the rich Belje Estate. Once the richest estate, it soon became poor, since theft and the loss of funds to Belgrade contributed to turning Baranja into a Serbian colony.

According to official statistics in 1921, there was a population of 49, 694 in Croatian Baranja of which:

Croatians 9,965 (20.0%),
Hungarians 16,639 (33.5%),
Germans 15,955 (32.1%),
Serbians 6,782 (13.6%),
Other 363 (0.7%)

By religious affiliation:

Catholics 35,343 (71.22%),
Evangelicals and Calvinists 6,856 (13.8%),
Orthodox 6,782 (13.6%),
Jewish 363 ( 0.7%)

Major ethnic changes occur in Baranja towards the end of 1944 when Germans were forced to flee ahead of the advancing anti-fascist army. This was a real exodus of the German population who had lived in Baranja for centuries. Subsequently, Serbs from passive areas, who knew less about farming than about politics and protecting the new socialist (Greater Serbian) state, moved into the wealthy houses.

When the borders between Croatia and Serbia were determined in 1945, the Djilas’ state commission decided that Baranja belonged to Croatia. With this, the historical, constitutional, cultural, ethnic and territorial question was legitimately resolved because all these elements made Baranja a part of Croatian and not Serbian territory. After 1945, the ethnic make-up of Baranja shows how it was populated by a majority of Croatian and not Serbian inhabitants. Thus, according to data from the Federal Institution for Statistics in Belgrade in 1961, the situation in Baranja was the following from the total of 56.087 inhabitants. (TABLE 2)

Given that life in Baranja after 1945, was being suffocated by the unproductive, one-party, totalitarian communist system, with no private enterprise and progressive economic management, it is understandable that the new democratic wave and demands for progress moved towards the path of freedom, the multi-party system and the free market in Croatia in 1990. A group of privileged Serbians, however, aided by the former Yugoslavian National Army, and inspired by the idea of a Greater Serbia, with the use of weapons, cast off the legal Croatian authority in Baranja and occupied it. A great number of non-Serbian inhabitants were forced to leave due to Serbian terrorism and tyranny, thus ethnic cleansing of all the non-Serbian populace, primarily Croatians and Hungarians was accomplished.

TABLE 3: Population Census of Baranja in 1991 and 1992

Through violent ethnic cleansing in 1991 and 1992, the Serbs altered the ethnic composition of Baranja and for the first time "jumped" to first place. The ethnic make -up is seen by comparing the official population census of March 31, 1991 and the one carried out on the occupied territory of Baranja during the period of January 27 through March 5, 1992, after the ethnic cleansing of the entire non-Serbian population. If we compare the Hungarian census from the schematism of the Pecs Diocese from 1855 as well, we may observe how the ethnic picture in Baranja changed as a result of Serbian politics and tyranny to the benefit of the Serbs and to the disadvantage of the Croatians, Hungarians and Germans. The Serbian occupiers within only a year (from 1991- 1992) completely altered the ethnic picture of the population in Baranja by the forceful method of ethnic cleansing. The facts show that there was no question of any type of oppression of the Serbs; it was rather the forceful actualization of the idea of a Greater Serbia; the capture of Croatian territory and the violent alteration of the ethnic make-up of the population.

Thus, tables with statistical data with respect to the population of Baranja from 1855-1992, display great ethnic changes. (TABLE 4). First, the Germans in 1944-45 were forced to leave Baranja and in 1991-92 Croatians, Hungarians and other non-Serbs.

The reason is the same: the advance of Serbia and Serbians onto Croatian state territory with the goal of creating a Greater Serbia.

The above table statistically displays the actualization of greater-Serbian politics in Baranja beginning some 90 years ago. There are three fundamental differences in the population of Baranja during the period up to 1918, from 1918 to 1991 and from 1992 onwards.

Up to 1918, Croatians made up 1/5 (20%) of the population, Serbians 1/8 (12.5%), Hungarians 1/3 (33.3%), (which is understandable, because Baranja was in the Croatian-Hungarian union), Germans over 1/4 (27%) and others 7.2%.

From 1918 to 1991, Croatians made up 2/5 (43%) of the population, Serbians 1/4 (25%), Hungarians 1/5 (22%), and others 1/10 (10%).

After the Serbian aggression and the occupation of Baranja in 1991, and the expulsion of the non-Serbian populace, according to the Serbian census of 1991, only 1/5 (20%) of the remaining population was Croatian while the Serbian populace "grew" to 3/5 (60%), with Hungarians making up less than 1/6 (16%) and others 4%.

The enormous ethnic changes stated above are the result of Serbian ethnic cleansing following the Serbian occupation of Croatian Baranja.

Prof. dr. Josip Pecaric: Croatians of Boka Kotorska from 1918 until Today


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