Greater Croatia: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maximum extent of lands claimed by advocates of a Greater Croatia

Great Croatia (Croatian: Velika Hrvatska) is a term applied to the certain currents within Croatian nationalism.


Origin of the concept

The basis for these territorial claims is the "Croatian state and historical right", a concept dating back as far as the 15th century and to the time when Croatia was in union with Hungary. According to the proponents of this concept, all the lands that were part of Croatia before Ottoman invasions of the 15th, 16th and 17th century should be "restored" under full Croatian control. The movement grew especially after the Croatian national revival of the 19th century and the 1878 annexation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary.

The "Croatian state and historical right" concept was later also boosted by the "ethnic right" concept, thus, the idea of Greater Croatia, was seen as a future large Croatian state that would include both, lands perceived as "historically and ethnically Croatian."

Birth of the modern idea of a Greater Croatia in the 19th century

The modern idea of a Greater Croatia dates back to 19th century, even before the 1878 annexation of Bosnia. It was mostly connected with the Croatian right-wing politics. For example the rightist newspaper Hervatska (Croatia) writes in the article Which is the True Croatian Policy and Who Represents It? (No. 6 of 1871): "The lands to which Croatia's state rights extended, in terms of history and nationality, stretch from Germany to Macedonia, from the Danube to the sea and according to their separate provincial names, they are: Southern Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Gorizia, Istria, Croatia, Slavonia, Krajina, Dalmatia, Upper Albania, Montenegro, Herzegovina, Bosnia, Rascia, Serbia - have one true name - the State of Croatia. These lands extend over four thousand square miles and their inhabitants number up to eight million people."

The standpoint of Hervatska was not a solitary one. In 1869 Eugen Kvaternik wrote to don Mihovil Pavlinović that if the policy of the Party of Right is followed, if the Croatian "state and historic right" is observed, then "not from Drava to the sea, but from Salzburg Alps to Kosovo and Albania, will fly the flag of the pure and unsoiled Croatia!"

The Croatian writer, Đuro Deželić, follower of Starčević's Party of Right, published in 1879 the book Croatian Nationality or the Soul of the Croatian People, in which he wrote that inhabited by the Croats and therefore Croatian provinces are: "all of the present day Dalmatia with the Bay of Kotor, Bosnia with the Turkish Croatia, and the Novi Pazar Pashalik (Rascia), present day Hercegovina which back in 1789, when Angel wrote his history book, was called Turkish Dalmatia, and finally Montenegro with Northern Albania."

In the hope of realizing its ambitions regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian Sabor, on August 28, 1878, in an address to Emperor Francis Joseph, expressed the hope that Bosnia might be so constituted that "in the course of time it could be handed over to be governed by the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia". Desire for Bosnia and Herzegovina was such that Croatian bishop Strossmayer bitterly wrote to Rački on March 24, 1878: "Our people are staring at Bosnia and Herzegovina but have lost sight of the fact that all our internal logic is against it. How can we be liberated by someone who would sink us in a drop of water, who is always obsessed with it, to do us in, to throw upon us an eternal anathema!"

The Croat expansionist ambitions were also expressed in the programme of the Party of Right which was drafted at the beginning of November 1893. The first point of this programme said: "The Croatian state and natural right must be revived, by restoring the wholeness of the Kingdom of Croatia through the unification of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Rijeka, Međumurje, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Istria, Kranjska, Carinthia and Styria within the Habsburg Monarchy." According to this party, there are three categories of countries. The first includes the lands which make up the "real scope", and which include what was then Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia with the city of Rijeka and surroundings which are annexed by Hungary in 19 century. The second category are the countries to which a Croats are majority. It is made by Međimurje (which was annexed by Hungary in 18 century), Kingdom of Dalmatia, a part of Istria and the north-western parts of Bosnia for geography reasons. The third category includes the lands which the nationalist Croatian circles wanted to see as part of Croatia on the basis of the "Croatian state and natural right". In their programme of 1893, the Rightists included Styria, Carinthia, Kranjska and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Early 20th century

In the first issue of the newspaper Hrvatstvo, which appeared in Zagreb on May 2, 1904, in the editorial entitled Our Program, it states: "We shall fight for the independence of the Roman Catholic Church, for its rights and institutions against whatever attack may come from any quarter. (...) We shall endeavour through constitutional methods to obtain the greatest possible organic extension of the Croat state right. We recognize only one political people in the Croat lands - the Croatian people, only one state flag - the Croatian flag, only one official language - the Croatian language."

The idea of Greater Croatia was not forgotten in the nationalistic camp even after the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes came into being. For example, Stjepan Radić, president of the Croat Republican Peasant Party, in a statement given to the London Daily News, published on July 22, 1922, spoke about the provinces of Bačka, Baranja and Banat annexed from Hungary and Croatia by Serbia in 1918, which he said were "unreasonably and illogically called Vojvodina", and demanded that these provinces must not be administered as purely Serbian lands, "but a plebiscite (under the supervision of the League of Nations) must be carried out with one question: Serbia - Belgrade or Croatia - Zagreb."

A year later, in a letter from London sent on September 23, 1923, to the Presidency of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party, Radić suggested the drawing up of a "map of Croatia and Croats" which would show, in addition to Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Međumurje, Prekomurje, all the former lands of Austria-Hungary (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bačka, Banat and Baranja), and even Montenegro and Macedonia. In his instructions how to produce this map which was intended for foreign countries and had to feature explanations in French or English, Radić pointed out: "In the area from Subotica to Jadran, all the districts with more than fifty percent Croats (Bosniaks are called Muslim Croats), marked in blue colour, and Orthodox in red colour."

Like Radić his succesor Vladko Maček in one of his statements in 1936, each province, "Vojvodina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and even Dalmatia, could opt as they liked or rather, as the deputies of these lands, elected in the election for the constituent assembly, should decide. In other words, if Vojvodina wants to go along with Serbia - good, if she wants a special status in Serbia, it's also good. But if she wants to opt out, it's good too. If she wants to be with Croatia together or separately, it's fine again." The note about Maček's territorial demands was left by Jovan Jovanović-Pigeon, head of the Agriculturists' Party, after a confidential talk with Prince Paul Karađorđević. At a meeting between the Prince and Maček, which took place before the Cvetković-Maček agreement, asked by the Prince "What for you is Croatia?", Maček replied: "It is the banovinas of Primorje and Savska." At another meeting Maček asked for Dubrovnik, next for the banovina of Vrbas. In a third talk his appetites increased, and Maček claimed Srijem up to Ilok, Brčko with the surroundings, Bijeljina, Travnik, Fojnica and Herzegovina. All these areas were traditionally and historically Croatian.

Croatia's incessant endeavour to spread over the broadest possible geographic area found expression during the Independent State of Croatia. Dissatisfied with its size, too, the ustashas, through Slavko Kvaternik, attempted to enlarge it. In a telegram of May 14, 1941, the German envoy Siegfried Kasche transmitted to his Foreign Ministry Kvaternik's wish to enlarge the "Croatian" territories up to the Albanian border, to include the towns of Priboj, Prijepolje and Pljevlja. Kasche supported this demand reasoning that "the Croatian troops are already stationed there", However, Italy was against it. Count Ciano described this Kvaternik's demand as "Croatian imperialism". In his Diary he wrote on June 30, 1941: "Pavelić now wants the Sandžak of Novi Pazar. A senseless, unjustified demand. I have prepared a letter, signed by the Duce, whereby we reject such pretensions."

Croatian assessment of the geopolitical situation

Among the many issues which burdened and still continue burdening relations between the Croats and Serbs is Croatia's geopolitical position according to the prevailing assessment of Croatian politicians and geopoliticians. Croatia's geopolitical position resembles, in the words of the Croatian historian Vjekoslav Klaić, "a well spread out sausage".

The shape of Croatia is compared by some to a banana or crescent. A Croatia such as this, in the conviction of many Croats, has no chance of surviving and progressing. Antun Radić explained it in the following words: "Dalmatia united with Croatia would resemble the crust of bread, and the middle part which you would cut out would be Bosnia and Herzegovina cut out from the Croatian bread. If we want to eat to satisfaction, we also need the soft middle, we need Herzeg-Bosnia." For Antun's brother Stjepan, Bosnia was "like the gizzard to the rest of Croatia. How can a person live if you take out his gizzard?" In the view of Frano Supilo, "Croatia without Bosnia would always be a toy in the hands of whoever ruled in today's occupied provinces," i.e. in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To gain a permanent economic and financial independence, Croatian politicians believe that they have to seize new territories. Hrvatski dnevnik of 1914 wrote about it as follows: "Croatia in its present size cannot survive because she needs some more provinces for its own economic build-up."

Dr. Ivan Pilar, known under aliases Südland, Dr. Juričić and Florian Lichttrager wrote that "from the geopolitical standpoint, Triune Kingdom without Bosnia and Herzegovina has no chance of maintaining itself either politically or economically". According to Pilar, "Croatia and Slavonia, separated from Bosnia and Dalmatia, its natural component parts, is a torso incapable of life". He wrote also: "The Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, with its long and narrow territory of very little depth (Dalmatia in places only a few kilometers) which extends in two directions, is not capable of being the center of any state and political structure, and in this shape as a political body has no future whatever. In our opinion this realization was the cause of a feverish search for a wider framework for our national development before year 1878, when we played around with the Illyrian and Yugoslav movements. The Triune Kingdom will obtain its elementary conditions of life only once it has annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croatian people in the territory of the Triune Kingdom has very little hope of maintaining themselves, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is seen as an essential condition for the national survival and political development of the Croatian people. Limited to the Triune Kingdom only, the Croatian people can only have a hand-to-mouth life, but will have a full life if they have Bosnia and Herzegovina." According to Pilar, Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia are the shell, and Bosnia and Herzegovina the core of Croatia.

Croatian nationalism and maps of Croatia

Taking up this idea about the shell and the core, the Lexicographic Institute of the FPRY from Zagreb, under the leadership of Miroslav Krleža, in the fourth volume of Encyclopedia of Yugoslavia, which appeared in 1960, in the chapter on Croatia, drew up a geographic map of that republic annexing to it Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the way to the Drina river, not omitting the smallest piece of land on the left bank of that river. When the same Institute, in the seventh volume of Encyclopedia of Yugoslavia, published in 1968, in the chapter on Serbia, attached the geographic map of that republic, it did not use the same method. It stopped Serbia upon the Drina river, hardly crossing to its left bank. In this respect they have more than one century old tradition. Back in 1862, Josip Partas, following a design drafted by Franjo Kružić, published a geographic map entitled "Historical Map of the Entire Kingdom of Croatia with the marked boundaries of the existing provinces and the indication of important ancient and new settlements". This map was printed in the Zagreb printing works of Dragutin Albreht. It embraced, as lands of the Kingdom of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, south-eastern parts of Serbia and south-western areas of Slovenia.

In conformity with the Croatian aspirations that Croatia's eastern border should be on the Drina, is the ethnographic map by Nikola Zvonimir Bjelovučić. In his booklet Etnografske granice, Hrvata i Slovenaca (Ethnographic Borders of the Croats and Slovenes) which was published in Dubrovnik in 1954, the map Ethnographic Boundaries of the Croats in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Surrounding Countries, was published, drawn by Bjelovučić in 1933. Showing quite considerable territorial enlargements, this map is very reminiscent of Pavelić's NDH. As parts of Croatia are given the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bay of Kotor until below Bar, the areas of western Bačka, the area of Baja in the then and the present Hungary, parts of Hungary southeast of Pécs, a long belt along the left bank of the Drava, from St. Martin in the east to Donja Lendava in the west, and the whole of Srem. Intentionally drawn inaccurate, Bjelovučić's map is more the expression of Croatian territorial aspirations than an expression of real ethnic relationships. It covers all the lands which according to Croat "state and historic right" should belong to Croatia. Ethnic relationships helped Bjelovučić to publicly state, albeit in an obscure way, Croatian national and political aims.

See also


  1. Vasilije Đ. Krestić, Genocidom do velike Hrvatske, Novi Sad - Beograd, 1998. [1]
  2. Dr Tomislav Bogavac, Nestajanje Srba, Niš, 1994.
  3. Lazo M. Kostić, Srpska Vojvodina i njene manjine, Novi Sad, 1999. (about Greater Croatian aspirations to Bačka and Syrmia)
  4. Lazo M. Kostić, Čija je Bosna?, Novi Sad, 1999. (about Greater Croatian aspirations to Bosnia)

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address