A Short Survey of Croatian History
Croatia is located in southeastern Europe and extends along the eastern
coast of the Adriatic Sea. This area makes up littoral Croatia. The Dinaric
mountains extend parallel to the Adriatic coast, and this area is called Dinaric
Croatia. In the north, Croatia comprises a large part of the Pannonian plains, and
this region is called Pannonian Croatia. All three regions comprise a geographic
unity, and the diversity of Croatia is such that the areas complement each other.
Today the majority of the Croatian ethnic territory is administratively
and politically included in two republics: SR Croatia and SR Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both
of these republics comprise an entity historically, culturally, linguistically and
economically. Their area is 107,667 km2 and their population is 8,692,000,
according to the 1981 census.
Historians and anthropologists trace the first home of the Croatians to
a region called "Harauvat-is" located in present-day Afghanistan.
Croatian name first mentioned on the inscription of Persian ruler,
Darius the Great.
Croatians move northward to the Carpathian Mountains in present-day
southern Poland. In this area they establish a powerful state called White Croatia with
its capital "Hrvat" (present-day Krakow).
620 - 640
Croatians arrive in present-day Croatia and adopt Christianity.
First international treaty between Croatian Duke Borko and Pope
810 - 823
Duke Ljudevit Posavski establishes powerful state in northern
Duke Trpimir establishes the Trpimirovic dynasty in southern
First Croatian state document written in Latin.
Croatian duke Tomislav crowned King.
1058 - 1076
United Croatia under Petar Kresimir.
Representatives of 12 Croatian clans elect Hungarian King Koloman as
their ruler ("Pacta Conventa"). Croatia remains independent.
1354 - 1391
Bosnian ruler Stjepan Tvrtko rules over Bosnia and Croatia.
Dalmatia (southern Croatia) occupied by Venetians
Bosnia occupied by Turks (Ottoman). Croatia in constant battles with
Turks. Croatia sustains tremendous casualties while fighting the Turks.
Croatia turns to the Habsburgs for help in her battles with the
Turks, and one part of Croatia ruled by the Habsburgs. Massive emigration of Croatians
(especially to Burgenland, Austria and Molise, Italy).
The two most distinguished noble Croatian families Zrinski and
Frank- opan are extinguished with the execution of Petar Zrinski and Frane Krsto Frankopan
in Austria. Croatia falls under direct military rule of Austria.
Napoleon abolishes the Republic of Venice and rules over Dalmatia.
With the arrival of Napoleon's troops in Dubrovnik (Ragusa), a
repub- lic free for centuries loses its independence.
1815 - 1848
All Croatian lands except Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austrian
"Matica Hrvatska" cultural and publishing institute
founded in Zagreb, capital of Croatia.
Abolition of serfdom in Croatia.
Habsburg Empire becomes Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary.
Dalmatia and Istria under direct rule of Austria, northern Croatia under Hungarian rule,
and Bosnia and Herzegovina under Turkish rule.
Eugen Kvaternik instigates a rebellion in Rakovica for the inde-
pendence of Croatia.
Ante Starcevic officially proclaims the "Party of Croatian
Rights" which practically existed since 1861.
Following the Russian Turkish wars and the Berlin Congress, Bosnia
and Herzegovina annexed by Austria.
1883 - 1902
The Hungarians through the "Croatian" Vice-Roy Károly
Khuen-Héderváry use the Serbian minority in Croatia to deny Croatians their right to
their language and nationality.
Anti-Hungarian and anti-Austrian riots. Some 50,000 Croatians leave
their homeland for America.
Founding of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party by Stjepan and
By secret treaty in London, the Allies promise a large part of
the Croatian territory to Italy for having sided with them during the war. A Yugoslav
Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor) is founded in London.
Croatian Parliament (Sabor) during an historic session severs all
ties with Austria and Hungary and proclaims the independence of Croatia.
Pro-Yugoslav faction goes to Belgrade to bring Croatia into the
King- dom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes without consulting the Croatian Sabor or the
Croatian people. Stjepan Radic referred to them as silly geese not knowing what they were
1918 - 1919
Serbian army by means of murder and terror "pacify"
Croatians, Mon- tenegrins and Macedonians.
1918 - 1928
Stjepan Radic struggles for a "neutral Croatian peasant
Workers' Socialist Party of Yugoslavia founded in Belgrade.
Stjepan Radic goes to France, Great Britain and Soviet Union to ad-
vocate the Croatian cause.
Croatian Peasant Party outlawed. Radic imprisoned.
During a session in the Belgrade Parliament, the radical Serbian
rep- resentative, Punisa Racic, assassinates Croatian deputies Pavle Radic and Djuro
Basaricek and fatally wounds Stjepan Radic. King Alexander Karagjorgevic is behind these
Stjepan Radic dies from wounds suffered after being shot in the Bel-
King Alexander disbands all political parties and proclaims a
dictator- ship. This same year the country is officially named Yugoslavia.
Dr. Ante Pavelic, member of the "Party of Croatian Rights"
and former deputy in the Belgrade Parliament, founds the Ustasha Movement. In Sofia, he
signs an agreement with Bulgarian and Macedonian nation- alists for a common struggle
against Belgrade. Croatian patriots are persecuted, imprisoned, and executed.
Intellectuals are particularly the objects of this oppression. Personalities such as
Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann as well as organizations such as the League of Nations
protest against such conduct by Belgrade. "The league should muster all possible aid
to protect this small, peaceful and highly civilized people", said Einstein in his
protest against terror in Croatia in his letter to the International League for the Rights
of Man. (The New York Times, May 6, 1931.)
While on a state visit to France, King Alexander is assassinated by
Croatian and Macedonian revolutionaries in Marseille.
1934 - 1938
Police brutality and many uprisings in Croatia. Ustasha Movement ac-
tive in Croatia despite strictest prohibitions and terror by Belgrade.
Opposition parties led by Vlatko Macek obtain
more than 1,300,000 votes i.e. absolute majority over the pro-fascist government of M.
Stojadinovic, despite government threats and terror.
Just before the outbreak of WW II Cvetkovic Macek
government.Croatians obtain some autonomy with the creation of the so-called
"Banovina of Croatia".
Yugoslavia joins the fascist countries within the "Tripartite
Germany attacks Yugoslavia which capitulates after only a few days.
Proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Dr. Ante
Pavelic returns from Italy and takes over the government in Croatia. One part of Croatia
under Italian rule; while the other is under German and Hungarian rule.
Serbian nationalists under the leadership of Draza Mihajlovic,
so-called Chetniks, carry out horrible massacres in eastern and southern parts of the
Croatian state. Throughout that year, they executed tens of thousands of Croatian
Catholics and Muslims.
Following Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, Tito's Partisans
rebel against the Germans and the Italians and at the same time against the newly created
Western Allies stop aiding the Chetniks under D. Mihajlovic and
supply massive aid to Tito. With the capitulation of Italy, the Partisan Movement in
Croatia rapidly grows in strength.
Ivan Subasic, former Croatian Vice-Roy during the short-lived
Banovina of Croatia, becomes President of the Yugoslav government in exile. Subasic's
agreement with Tito makes it possible for the Communists to take over the government.
6. - 15.V.1945
Massive numbers of Croatian soldiers and civilians withdraw from
Croatia and march towards southern Austria to surrender to the Western Allies. They arrive
in the small village of Bleiburg where the British hand them over to Tito's Partisans. The
infamous "Death Marches" result in the most horrible slaughters in the history
Archbishop of Zagreb and later Cardinal, Alojzije Stepinac is
sentenced to 16 years imprisonment (he died in jail in 1960). It is only this year (1985)
that his prosecutor Jakov Blazevic admits publicly that Stepinac's trial was entirely
unjust and that this high-ranking ecclesiastic was tried only because he refused to severe
thousand year-old ties between the Croatians and the Roman Catholic Church.
Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia formally expelled from the Comintern by Stalin.
Leading Croatian Communist Andrija Hebrang imprisoned and murdered.
Western powers, particularly the U.S.A., begin supplying massive aid to Yugoslavia
"in order that Yugoslavia maintain her independence from Moscow". Far more than
"maintaining her independence from Moscow" this aid to Yugoslavia served to
suppress every national tendency for freedom and all desire for human rights and
Tito begins acting the role of the non-aligned leader, siding neither with the East nor
with the West, but receiving aid from both sides. The U.S.A. particularly stand out in
profusing aid to the Yugoslav dictatorship as, after all, to many other dictatorships.
Tito hands over the Hungarian revolutionaries to the Soviets (even the leader of the
revolution in Hungary, Imbre Nágy) denouncing them as"fascists and
Yugoslavia establishes diplomatic ties with West Germany. Hundreds of thousands of workers
from Croatia leave for Western capitalist countries to earn a living.
The most powerful man of that time in Yugoslavia, Alexander Rankovic, is removed from
power. Among his many positions, he was chief of the notorious Yugoslav secret police, the
UDBA. It was then learned that out of 5 million Croatians, some 1,300,000 were blacklisted
by the UDBA.
"Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary language" signed by
19 leading scholarly and cultural institutions and some 140 linguists, writers and
Savka Dabcevic-Kucar and Mika Tripalo emerge as the leaders of the liberal Communist Party
of Croatia which demanded more autonomy and national rights for the Croatian republic.
At a special meeting of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia at Karagjorgjevo, Serbia,
Tito strongly denounces nationalism and the "rotten liberalism" in Croatia which
results in the dismissal of the Croatian leadership of the time.
Strikes by tens of thousands of students. As police and troops converge on the Croatian
capital, Zagreb, the students and workers end their strike, avoiding possible bloodshed.
This is the end of the "Croatian Spring", and thousands of young people,
artists, writers, scholars and intellectuals of most diverse profiles are imprisoned. Some
get long-term imprisonments, others die under very mysterious circumstances (e.g. the
secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Croatia, Pero Pirker,
general Viktor Bubanj and one of the leading columnists Neda Krmpotic, for whom it was
officially reported that "she died suddenly following a serious illness").
Cultural organizations such as "Matica Hrvatska" are banned. Eighteen newspapers
and magazines are forbidden.
1971 - 1972
Between two and three months, over 1,600 people imprisoned.
Guerrilla activities "Bugojno" in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Several prominent Croatian intellectuals escape to West European
countries. Some of them later assassinated (one of the most significant Croatian
journalists, Bruno Busic). The same fate will befall some who fled some ten years later to
the West, e.g., Stjepan Djurekovic.
Tito dies in Ljubljana, buried in Belgrade.
Armed insurrection by Albanians in Kosovo which due to varied
intensity and diverse forms, lasts until today (1985).
First multiparty, democratic elections in Croatia since World War
II: Communist Party loses in favor of the Croatian Democratic Union.
New, democratic Croatian parliament formally established; a new
constitution is proclaimed.
Military intervention of the Yugoslav Army, Serbian irregulars and
Chetniks in Croatia.
Twelve European Community countries plus 27 more countries recognize
Croatia as an independent, sovereign state.