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Croatization or Croatisation (Croatian: kroatizacija or pohrvaćenje) is a term used to describe a process of cultural assimilation in which people or lands ethnically partially Croat or non-Croat become Croat. The process can be voluntary or forced.


Croatia under Austrian rule

In the early 19th century, Croatia was a part of the Habsburg Monarchy. As the wave of romantic nationalism swept across Europe, the Croatian capital, Zagreb, became the center of a national revival that became known as the Illyrian Movement. Although it was initiated by Croatian intellectuals, it promoted the brotherhood of all Slavic peoples. For this reason, many intellectuals from other Slavic countries or from the minority groups within Croatia flocked to Zagreb to participate in the undertaking. In the process, they voluntarily assumed a Croatian identity, i.e. became Croatised, some even changing their names into Croatian counterparts and converted to Roman Catholicism, notably Serbs.

Even with a large Slavic (Croatian) majority, Dalmatia retained large Italian communities in the coast (in the cities and the islands, largest concentration in Istria). Most Dalmatian Italians gradually assimilated to the prevailing Croatian culture and language between the 1860s and World War I, although Italian language and culture remained present in Dalmatia. The community was granted minority rights in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia; during the Italian occupation of Dalmatia in World War II, it was caught in the ethnic violence that followed the fascist repression: what remained of the community fled the area after World War II.[1] The Italian community of Istria were forced to change their names to Yugoslav, during Tito's Yugoslavia.

The same happened - but in minor percentage - with the Italians in Istria and Rijeka, who were in the majority on most of the population in most of the coastal areas in the first half of the XIX century, while at the beginning of World War I were the less than 50%.

Croatization in Independent state of Croatia

The Croatization during Independent State of Croatia was aimed primarily to Serbs, with Jews and Roma to a lesser degree. The Ustaše aim was a "pure Croatia" and the biggest enemy was the ethnic Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ministers announced the goals and strategies of the Ustaše in May 1941[2]:

  • One third of the Serbs (in the Independent State of Croatia) were to be forcibly converted to Catholicism.
  • One third of the Serbs were to be expelled (ethnically cleansed).
  • One third of the Serbs were to be killed.

Croatization of Italy's Julian March and Zadar after WWII

After World War II most of the Italians left Istria and the small areas of Italian and Italy occupied Dalmatia in the Istrian exodus. The remaining Italians were assimilated culturally and even linguistically during Tito's rule of communist Yugoslavia.

Notable individuals who voluntarily Croatized

  • Dimitrija Demeter, a playwright who was the author of the first modern Croatian drama, was from a Greek family.
  • Vatroslav Lisinski, a composer, was originally named Ignaz Fuchs. His Croatian name is a literal translation.
  • Laval Nugent, a field marshall and the most powerful noble in the Illyrian Movement, was originally from Ireland.
  • Petar Preradović, one of the most influential poets of the movement, was from a Serb family.
  • Bogoslav Šulek, a lexicographer and inventor of many Croatian scientific terms, was originally Bohuslav Šulek from Slovakia.
  • Stanko Vraz, a poet and the first professional writer in Croatia, was originally Jakob Frass from Slovenia.
  • August Šenoa, a Croatian novelist, poet and writer, is of Czech-Slovak descent. His parents never learned the Croatian language, even when they lived in Zagreb.
  • Dragutin Gorjanović-Kramberger, a geologist, paleontologist and archeologist who discovered Krapina man [3] (Krapinski pračovjek), was of German descent. He added his second name, Gorjanović, to be adopted as a Croatian.
  • Slavoljub Eduard Penkala was an inventor of Dutch/Polish origins. He added the name Slavoljub in order to Croatize.
  • Lovro Monti, Croatian politician, mayor of Knin . One of the leaders of the Croatian national movement in Dalmatia, he was of Italian roots.
  • Adolfo Veber Tkalčević -linguist of German descend
  • Ivan Zajc (born Giovanni von Seitz) a music composer was of German descend
  • Josip Frank, nationalist Croatian 19th century politicia, born as a Jew
  • Vladko Maček, Croatian politician, leader of the Croats in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after Stjepan Radić and one time opposition reformist, maker of the Cvetković-Maček agreement that founded the Croatian Banate, born in a Slovene-Czech family
  • Savić Marković Štedimlija, publicist and Nazi collaborator, Montenegrin by origin
  • Emil Uzelac, Ustaša pilot, Serb (born Milan)
  • Fedor Dragojlov, Ustaša commander


  1. ^ Italian's disappearance in Dalmatia
  2. ^ The same statements and similar or related ones were also repeated in public speaches by single ministers as Mile Budak in Gospic and, a month later, by Mladen Lorkovic. Source: Eric Gobetti: "L' occupazione allegra. Gli italiani in Jugoslavia (1941-1943)", Carocci, 2007, pagine 260; ISBN 8843041711, ISBN 9788843041718, quoting from V. Novak, Sarajevo 1964 and Savez jevrejskih opstina FNR Jugoslavije, Beograd 1952
  3. ^ Krapina C

See also

External links



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