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The fHartyrdom of Croatia.

By C. Battorich.

Up to the present the Serbs have succeeded in
hushing up the fact before the great Western Powers
that, owing to the decision of the Entente who made
themselves the advocate of the smaller nations' rights,
quite a number of these nations in the Balkans and
the adjoining territories have been delivered to the
ruthless incapacity of Serbian imperialism, deprived of
their fundamental rights, and filled with exasperation
in consequence. The Bulgarians, Hungarians, Croats
and Slovenes, Albanians and Montenegrians have
been made the object of inhuman sufferings and
oppression, and the still outstanding peace threatens
them with complete ruin.

The now broken up Habsburg Monarchy and ill-
fated Hungary had managed Croatia's affairs for
decades in such a manner that the Croatian nation
in autumn 1918, confiding in the wisdom of the
great Western Powers, put up with the then state
of affairs, though not without regret at the detach-
ment from the fellow-sufferer in many years' strug-
gles and alarm at the attitude of its Balkan neigh-
bour. Yet individual opinion remained silent and the
whole of the nation followed those that had taken
the lead in this critical hour. Disappointed in its old
friends, it forgot the bitterness of thirteen centuries
and with brotherly sentiments turned towards the
Serbs, in anticipation of but the best and noblest

7. sz.

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C. Battorich

treatment from that people, the worthy ally of the
great French, Italian and English nations.

The entering Serbian army very quickly enligh-
tened the Croats as to their error ; they had thrown
open the doors of hitherto unvanquished Zagrab not
to a well-disposed friend, but to the harsh conque-
rer of the Balkans. While the members of the Natio-
nal Council, who thought themselves in possession
of supreme power, held conferences and took coun-
sel as to the measures to be adopted, the Serbian
sheriff installed himself in his office and let every-
body know, in a Balkan fashion, that it was his
authority people had to reckon with.

The history of the 38 days in which the terri-
tory of the former Monarchy was reshaped reads
like a fascinating story. Yougoslavia came into being
at Zagrab, on paper at least, as an independent state.
Proud Zagrab, the capital of a small country re-
stricted in its national life hitherto, at once became
the centre of a 7 — 8 million state, furnished with
all the attributes of a worthy representative of the
nation's life. True, that state of things was but a
temporary one; yet appearances bespoke of all con-
ditions for the future evolution being dependent on
the Croation nation which was to take the lead in
the new state to be organised, since the country
under Zagrab's imperium was the foremost as to
size, numbers of inhabitants, economic conditions
and progress in civilisation.

At the beginning of November, Korosec, the Pre-
sident of the National Council, entered an agree-
ment with the Serbian Premier Pasic, in which he
stipulated that until the formation of the Consti-
tuent Assembly the National Council would exer-
cise supreme power in Yougoslavia, and that it were
the Constituent's task to decide on the form of
government. With this Convenant signed on 9*^ No-
vember at Geneve the culminating point of the 33

The Martyrdom of Croatia

days state's history was attained ; what follows is
the story of its decline. In the middle of November
Pasi6 rendered invalid the agreement and the begin-
ning of December found the Serbian Regent Alexan-
der proclaiming the constitution of the kingdom
SHS. Thus the sovereignty promised in conjunc-
tion with provincial autonomy was rendered a scrap
of paper.

November was the month of disillusion for the
Ciroats. The mean behaviour of the entering Ser-
bian troops, bearing the banner of the Karagyor-
gyevics, soon succeeded in alienating the whole of
the population and engendered a keen republican
movement among the Croatian nation hitherto quite
averse to republican sentiments. The exclusively
Croatian parties in particular assumed a decidedly
republican attitude : the peasants' party, .the lega-
lity party, the Starcevic and progressive parties.
Discusted with the deeds of the Serbian royal army,
they thought the interests of the Croatian nation
better, safeguarded by a Yougoslav Republic. As a
matter of course, the Serbs were ill pleased with
this republican movement and soon arrested its lea-
der Stephen Radic and some of his followers, pro-
hibiting all newspapers of republican tendencies.
The Starcevic and progressive parties, in response
to the manifesto issued in December, ceased their
republican agitation, while the peasants' and legality
parties are to this day the object of violent perse-

At Christmas a common cabinet came into being,
after long and often seemingly fruitless negotiations,
in which the Croatian parties with the exception
of those considered illoyal found due representation.
Svetozar Pribicevic, the Croatian Serb notorious for
his hate of the Croats, became Minister for Home
Affairs and hastened to inaugurate an outspoken
anti-Croatian policy on the whole line. Even the

C. Battorich

unabashed Mihalovich, renowned for the unprece-
dented corruption of his regime and his servility
to public opinion, did not appear sufficiently trust-
worthy to him, for which reason he made him retire
and appointed Polacek of Czech-Serbian descendance
Banus for Croatia. This appointment was a fla-
grant breach of the December agreement since it had
happened without consulting the Croatian Diet.
Pribicevi6 interdicted the further sittings of the Diet
and thus neither Polacek nor his successor Tomlje-
novic could make his appearance before this body,
as customary in compliance with the tradition or
many centuries. With this act the Croatian auto-
nomy had de facto ceased to exist. The Hunga-
rians had not ventured on such a course of action
even at the time of the most embittered struggles.
Polacek as well as Tomljenovic were regarded as
plain officials by the Home Minister. They were
deprived of every attribute indicative of the Banus'
political significance. Under Hungary's rule, the Ba-
nus had been the third of the country's standard-
bearers, inferior in rank but to the Archbishop and
Governor. In Hungary the Banus was dependent
on the Premier only, the result of the "liberation"
to-day is displayed in the highest Croatian civil
office having lost all significance and the Banus
being exposed to dismissal at the Home Minister's

In March 1919 the common government assem-
bled the common Parliament at Belgrade. But we
must not imagine this Parliament to have been formed
on the basis of general elections. The Serbian
Scupstina selected the members of the Parliament
from its own ranks or simply appointed them like
in Macedonia and Montenegro ; in other parts of
the country they were nominated by the political
groups or parties according to a certain scheme
they had agreed on. Needless to state that neither

The Martyrdom of Croatia

the legality party, nor the peasants or the Magyar-
phile unionists obtained any seats.

Yougoslavia is an artificial creation to such a
degree that even this assembly which came into
being in compliance with the government's wishes
did not prove capable of work. The Parliament,
during its half year's existence, did not read a
single bill. The racial, cultural and religious anta-
gonism occasionally caused outbursts of such vio-
lence that an ad hoc majority was unattainable.
One crisis followed the other and gradually every
Croatian and Slovene party fell off, and so did the
founders of Serbia's greatness, the radicals. The
minority party, the so-called democrats, whose lea-
der was Pribicevic, remained in power. This party
is governing for about half a year now, without
any parliamentary control, and endeavours to sup-
press the excitement spreading throughout the
country by means of corruption and party-terror.

It is easy enough to imagine what was Croatia's
fate under Mr. Pribicevi6' absolutism. Zagrab soon
sank to the rank of a mere provincial town. The mo-
ther-country's union with the neighbouring Croatian
lands (Bosnia, Dalmatia), on the way of realisation
under the Habsburgs' hegemony and warranted by
a Hungarian Law, was defeated and the integrity
of old Croatia's territory threatened. The county
of Szerem, one of Croatia's most fertile districts,
was treated as integral part of Serbia. To econo-
mically subdue the Croatian nation, the crown
was artificially depreciated, fell below the worth
of a dinar, and finally was declared to represent a quar-
ter of a dinar in spite of its intrinsic value being the
same. Under the title of land-reform they robbed
the middle-sized estates from the landowners who
had always most devoutly promoted the national
idea. With the introduction of a governmental anti-
denominational system they offended the Catholi-

C. Baitorich

cism inherent in the Croatian race. To deprive
it of one of its main sources of strength which
Catholicism had always afforded it and to which
it was bound by a thousand memories of its past,
the Serbs started a movement aiming at the uni-
fication of the Catholic and Orthodox Church with
the aid of the state's subsidies. The sons of the
Croatian nation in the officials' staff were sup-
planted by Serbs, the Croatian recruits were dragged
to Albania and Macedonia and Croatia invaded by
semi'Savages from the remotest parts of the Bal-
kans. With their aid a regime of terror was estab-
lished. Who dared resist, was thrown into dun-
geon. Even the leaders of the movement for im-
proving the payment of the Croatian officials' staff
were detained. They are still imprisoned and unable
to obtain adequate defence. Radic, the peasant lea-
der, has suffered confinement for nine months al-
ready, having been tried now only ; on the other
hand the Bolshevist agitators are at liberty to
follow their vocation.

It is the obvious aim of Pribicevic to mate-
rially and morally reduce the Croatian nation to
such an extent as to render it an easy prey to
Serbian appetites. It had already suffered oppres-
sion on the hands of Austrian emperors, had been
hampered in its evolution by the Magyars ; but
neither had made its national annihilation their
overt object ; that was reserved to its present

We cannot forbear asking in how far do these
facts agree with the noble principles proclaimed by
the Entente Powers ? Will the great Western nations
not stop to consider that in default of the realisa-
tion of their avowed principles, the countries of the
former Monarchy and the Balkans will have to
look another way for the guidance they absolu-
tely depend on in their present state of upheaval ?

The Martyrdom of Croatia

We Croats address our plea to all Europe
in the name of the peoples suffering oppression:
do not deliver us to the Moloch of Serbian impe-
rialism. The thirteen centuries that we have spent
uninterruptedly in the defence of Western civi-
lisation against the encroachments of Byzantium
and Asia justify us in calling attention to the tra-
gic fate of our nation. We do not ask' for any
particular favour, but for justice. Let the Entente
order the plebiscite to take place, in the absence
of Serbian troops, and every Croat will accept the
result. The self-determination of the peoples re-
mains an empty phrase if they are not consulted
as to their fate ; yet we have never been ques-
tioned on this all-important issue.

Let Europe know that neither we nor the Hun-
garians and Bulgarians, nor the other nations un-
der oppression will ever content themselves with
this their lot. If Europe will not afford them jus-
tice, they are determined either to achieve the recog-
nition of their rights or to perish to the last man.
Whether this our struggle for freedom will not
inflame all Europe again, whether the new world
to arise will not bereave the Entente Powers of
their conquest's harvest, we leave to the insight
of Western public opinion to ponder on.

Horny&aszky V., Budapest.

If you want to keep abreast of events in

East Europe
read the following publications:

East European Problems

No. 1. The Peace-Treaty Proposed to Hun-
gary. By Couqt Albert Apponyi.

No. 2. Establishment of Three States in
the Place of One. By A. Kovacs.

No. 3. The Solution of the Fiume Question.

By D. Ddrday.

No. 4. The Geographical Impossibility of
the Czech State. By Dr. Francis Fodor.

No. 5. Can Roumanian Rule in East-Hun-
gary Last? By A. Kovacs.

No. 6. West-Hungary. By Gustav Thirring.

No. 7. The Martyrdom of Croatia.

By C. Battorich.

No. 8. The Hungarians of Moldavia. By

John Tatrosi.

For specimen copy please apply to

Low, W. Dawsons & Sons, London E. C.

St. Dunstan's House, Fleet Street.
Steiger & Comp. New- York E. 49 Murray Street.
Ferd. Pfeifer (Zeidler Brothers), Budapest IV.

7 Kossuth Lajos Street.






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Online LibraryC BattorichThe martyrdom of Croatia → online text (page 1 of 1)