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  • Jeremiah

Yugoslav Ideology: The truth of "Yugoslavism" V/XV

By Jovan Dučić

First published in Amerikanski Srbobran, 1942


Let us see this Yugoslvism of Strossmayer's in its full extent.

Strossmayer was a magnate of the Church, a rich priest with ambition of a Mezzena, a "splendid" gentleman, with a lot of inherited instincts for leadership and conquest. As in the poor Croatia at the time there was nothing historic nor royal from the Middle Ages, he knew that a tourist who is an artist, or one who is an archeologist, would not find anything of interest there. That is why he was determined to make a little Florence out of Zagreb, where he would be Lorenzo Medici. First the made in Đakovo a grand cathedral, to which as a German he brought more luxury than taste. But he was also the first to initiate the idea that Zagreb should already have its University and gave the first 60 000 forints as a donation, which at the time presented quite a large sum. Then, as was proper, he built the Yugoslav Academy, Yugoslav Gallery of paintings, for which it was said to be worth 3 000 000 forints, which was perhaps a bit much; he also helped for the National Library to be built and the Museum. The aim of these institutions was twofold: to help the cultural movement, but to also attract all the Slavs surrounding Zagreb there as their brightest centre.

This did not give any special results. Društvo Srpske Slovesnosti, with a somewhat humbler name, still gave Zagreb its greatest contemporary philologist, Dr Đura Daničić, to start there the building of a new and biggest Rječnik [tran. note: Thesaurus] of our joint štokavijan language of Serbian national poems and the Serbian philologist died working on this, leaving the Rječnik to be continued by another Serb, Dr Pero Budmani from Dubrovnik and later the Croatian philologist, Dr Toma Maretić. This Rječnik of Daničić's was the main scientific work that Zagreb ever started. Daničić was supposed to create there a language base for the language of the Croatian Academy of Sciences. He was nicely received as a friend of unity as well, which meant a generosity towards Croatian national imperialism, which Daničić would only see in the seventies [tran. note: 1870s]. Arriving in 1866, he came at a time of joint fight against Vienna, which acted on him as well. Already in 1850 together with Vuk Karadžić he wrote at a meeting in Vienna with the main Illyrians "Pravila" [tran. note: Rules] for the use of Serbian literary language in Croatia. Until then he was also writing "Razlika srpskog i hrvatskog jezika" [tran. note: The difference in Serbian and Croatian laguages] establishing that Croatian language was the čakavijan dialect and as Vuk believed that štokavijan was spoken only by Serbs, wherever they may be. Already in the seventies Daničić felt Croatian chauvinism. The journal "Književnik", the forerunner of "Rad" wrote that Serbs should in the future be called Croats or Serbs. Daničić therefore wrote to Novaković from Zagreb: "Here is death and there life..." (see Vrhovac about Đ. Daničić). But he did not feel like leaving the Rječnik which had already reached to "čobo". He wrote to Belgrade that it would be a shame to leave this great scientific endeavour: "Better US than THEM..."

What was the practical politics of bishop Strossmayer actually?

A pious Catholic propagator can only secondly be a national fighter; and a Croatised German can only be a Slavic idealist on the side. If anyone thinks otherwise, he does not know human psyche. This is why the binding thread which went through the labours of bishop Strossmayer always showed the same direction: convert the Bosnian Muslims to Catholicism and get the Orthodox Serbs unionised. This is why his main obsession was Bosnia. This was the mirage over the bishop's Residence in Đakovo. As at the side of this enlightened and agile bishop there was Dr Frano Rački, a well-known historian, who wrote about Croatian State Right (Odlomci hr. drž. prava, Vienna, 1861) it is small wonder that he was the first one to write that Bosnia "was once Croatian". Đakovo, which indeed was once in the XV century at the head of Bosnian church hierarchy, had to naturally based on those memories then make much larger conclusions as well. That is why besides young Strossmayer, of a conqueror's blood, Rački himself did not lay his claims about the Croatian nature of Bosnia as a scientist, but as a politician.

Bosnia was at the time of Strossmayer and Rački truly like a rich bride, which was waiting for a good match. After the Crimean War, Serbia, being somewhat freer from pressures by Austria and Russia, showed (especially after its wars in 1875-1878 with Turkey) the possibility to attract to itself all the South Slavs under Turkish rule. We know that Bulgaria had already in Bucharest concluded an agreement with the Serbs to be liberated by the Serbian army and they were ready in exchange for that to have the Serbian prince as their ruler and a Serbian name for the future joint army. Bosnia was therefore in the focus of Strossmayer and his friend Rački.

Therefore it was from Đakovo that the fight for Bosnia as Croatian land was to be begun!

The biggest obstacle was the Bosnian people themselves, even the Catholic Bosnians. No one in Bosnia knew much about Croats, nor their cultural centre as the general homestead for all South Slavs. A Bosnian Franciscan, the well-known Ivan Jukić, already wrote before: "In Bosnian Krajina they do not even know the Croats' names..." ("Hrvatsko Kolo", 1847). A bit later the historian Ivan Kukuljević would also write (in his "Putovanje po Bosni", 1858, 36): "Now the Croatian name has already disappeared here". Finally, long after this, the same will be written by Antun Radić, the brother of the future chief of Croatian people Stjepan Radić: "In plenty of places I have sufficiently and directly made sure that the Croatian name in Bosnia and Herzegovina's peasant population is completely unknown" (Zbornik za narodni život i običaje južnih Slovena, IV, 1899, p. 38; Đerić, 47). As it were, this state continued during the Austrian occupation of Bosnia.

This would have probably continued to this day if in our governments there were not people who for a long number of years were men who had no interest in national questions. It is no wonder that to Croats was given in 1939 from Belgrade as their national property a great expanse of that land, for which Serbdom was the only one spilling its blood since it exists and where, as we can see, the Croatian name was, to the contrary, always foreign.

Translated by Books of Jeremiah

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