Croatia 1867-1890 1929-1941

Croatia within SHS, 1918-1929

Croatia Joining SHS, and the Question of the Border with Italy . During World War I, Croat politicians actively promoted the establishment of a federation of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, a dominant reason being that such a federation might help to gain independence from Austria-Hungary. This concept also assured the cooperation of Croatia's considerable ethnic Serb minority and might help realize the old dream of incorporating Dalmatia into Croatia.
In October 1918 independence from Austria-Hungary suddenly became a realistic possibility, but Italian troops occupied a large part of Dalmatia, territory allocated to Italy by the Treaty of London 1915; if she would hold on to the territory, Croatia would only gain southern Dalmatia, an exclave. So the National Commission set up in Zagreb hurried unification with the Kingdom of Serbia in order to meet the Italian challenge. The immediate goal - to gain international recognition, with Serbian support to cause Italy to withdraw from Dalmatia, was achieved; Italy only held on to the city of Zadar (Zara) and to all of Istria (1920). However, Italy withdrew her troops at an agonizingly slow pace, using the withdrawal to pressure her goals regarding the state of Fiume.
The city of Rijeka (Fiume), supposedly a Free City, after an irregular occupation by Gabriele d'Annunzio's followers, came under Italian occupation and in 1924 was formally annexed by Italy.

Croatia's Position within SHS . The procedure by which the unification of Serbia and Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia & Herzegovina-Vojvodina was implemented, failed to clearly regulate the new state's constitution. While Serbia was a stable entity, the other part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, according to the Croat language abbreviated SHS, had only been created as an anti-Austrian coalition. When the new state was proclaimed on December 1st 1918, an agreement on the form of government temporarily replaced a constitution; in 1920 a constitution was adopted - with the representatives of the Croat Peasant Party abstaining - which defined SHS, despite the name of the kingdom, as a unitary state.
Within the new state, politicians from Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina emphasized the federal character of the state, while many Serbian politicians supported centralist institutions.
In the 416 member Skupstina, Croatia and Slavonia was represented by 93 representatives, Dalmatia by another 11.

The Economy . Economically, the unification with Serbia opened up a market for Croatia's industry; Zagreb became a commercial center with significance beyond the historical borders of Croatia-Slavonia. In 1925 Zagreb was linked by rail with Split. On the Dalmatian coast, tourism began to develop.
The Serbian Dinar was introduced in Croatia etc. at a rate highly favourable to Serbia; while the overvaluation of it caused protest on the side of the Croatian populace, SHS did not experience the post-war hyperinflation which caused so much suffering in contemporary Germany, Austria, Hungary. Taxation in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia was higher than in Serbia proper; state investments were concentrated on Serbia proper. The general standard of living in Croatia was below pre-war level.

Croatian Politics . The year 1918 marks a shift in Croatian party politics; traditional patriotic parties had achieved their old goals of a Yugoslav State incorporating both Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia. On the other hand, they could be held responsible for the hurried integration into SHS, without having negotiated a proper constitution.
The lack of a federal constitution proved harmful; the new state treated advocates of a federal or republican constitution as hostile elements. To most administrative posts in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, ethnic Serbs were appointed.
In front of the background of widespread economic distress, the young Communist Party gained a significant share in the votes of 1920 municipal elections, but then was suppressed by the central government on the grounds that the party was illegal because she rejected the monarchy. Of the Croat politicians who, as members of the Yugoslav Committee, had been responsible for the hurried integration of Croatia into SHS, only Ante Trumbic played a brief role in post-war SHS, as minister of foreign affairs, an office he resigned in 1920 because of Serbian domination of the new state.
The Croatian Peasants Party, under the leadership of Stipe Radic, initially rejected the monarchy, and added the adjective 'Republican' to her name. Her main demands focussed on a revised constitution, establishing the federal principle and preventing central institutions to override it. The other Croat parties joined Radic's Peasant Party in forming a Croat Block; Radic also sought the support of Slovene and Bosnian parties with the same objectives, renegotiating the constitution. In 1925 he was arrested, accused of treason, but released upon lack of evidence; soon after Radic altered his policy, now recognizing the monarchy - the party name changed to Croatian Federalist Peasants Party, Radic briefly held the post of minister of education. However, continued attempts by the Belgrade administration to impose centralization ended temporary cooperation. The Croatian Peasant Party, the strongest political force in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, continued to demand fundamental change; the administration in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, largely composed of ethnic Serbs, found it extremely difficult to function; in 1928 most of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia was virtually under martial law (NIYB).
In June 1928, during a session of the Belgrade Skupstina (parliament), a fellow representative drew a gun and shot three Croat politicians, killing two and injuring Stipe Radic. The incident caused demonstrations in Zagreb. Radic died from his wounds.

Croatia, History of, from Discover Croatia, from , from, illustrated
Yugoslavia, from Library of Congress, Country Studies
Article : Croatia within the First Yugoslavia, Stjepan Radic, Frano Supilo, Ante Trumbic, Ivan Mestrovic, Yugoslav Committee, Croatian Peasant Party, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS Historical Maps of Croatia, from, bilingual
REFERENCE Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press (1985) 1999
Ivo Goldstein, Croatia - a History, (1999) McGill-Queen's UP 2001
Tihomir Cipek, The Croats and Yugoslavism, pp.71-83 in : Dejan Djokic (ed.), Yugoslavism. Histories if a Failed Idea, University of Wisconsin Press 2003, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.7103 D626y
Article : The Southern Slav State, in : Statesman's Year Book 1919 p.686 [G]
Article : Croatia and Slavonia, in : Americana Annual 1927 p.234, 1928 p.210 [G]
Article : Jugo-Slavia, in : New International Year Book 1919 pp.369-370, 1920 pp.381-382, 1921 pp.397-399, 1923 pp.396-398, 1925 pp.358-359, 1928 pp.378-381 [G]
Arthur Achleitner, Aus Kroatien. Skizzen und Erzählungen (From Croatia, Sketches and Narrations), 1920, posted by Gutenberg Library Online, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 6th 2003, last revised on October 15th 2007

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz