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Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 3. Young, Religious, and Radical: The Croat Catholic Youth Organizations, 1922–1945

Sandra Prlenda

Texte intégral

“Everything’s getting organized! Freemasons, socialists, and liberals are organizing, so let us organize, too.”
Anton Mahnič, bishop of Krk, 1903

  • 1 Any involvement of priests and commited Catholics in politics, including those referred to in this (...)
  • 2 See Martin Conway, Catholic Politics in Europe, 1918–1945 (London: Routledge, 1997), 40–44.

1This often quoted call to religious youth marks the beginning of what is known as the Croatian Catholic movement. It led to several political and social projects organized by Catholic intellectuals and priests from the turn of the century until the Second World War.1 They all shared in the belief that rapid social change was endangering the Catholic faith and the church in their position as the supreme arbiter in society. In addition to priests, the majority of these groups included lay intellectuals and students whose activities ranged from editing newspapers and magazines and participating in public polemics with liberals to founding an (unsuccessful) political party. Their most successful initiative was an organization for the upbringing of young Catholics that in its best years assembled more than 40,000 active members and younger children who were trained for the “rechristianization” of public life. Although by no means dominant in Croatian interwar society, the huge amount of energy that its leaders spent to ensure the visible presence of Catholic values in a traditionally Catholic society invites us to try to understand the dynamics of this kind of youth mobilization. Whereas most of its ideological foundation was drawn from the militant Catholicism in contemporary Europe known as Catholic Action,2 the specific historical context pushed the Croat interpretation beyond the framework of three contending ideologies (Catholicism, liberalism, and Communism). It was nationalism that would explain both the ups and the unhappy downs of organized young Croat Catholics.

2This chapter traces Catholic youth mobilization through two organizations, Hrvatski orlovski savez (the Croat Eagle Union, 1923–1929) and its successor Krizărska organizacija (the Crusaders’ Organization, 1930–1945).

3The former was a Catholic gymnastic society banned by Yugoslavia’s King Aleksandar at the beginning of his dictatorship in 1929. The latter inherited all but the name and the gymnastics. Although the Eagles and Crusaders claimed to be outside of daily politics, their program of publicly confronting both liberalism and Communism with radical Catholicism has generated continual accusations of “clericalism” by liberal, leftist, or non-Croat nationalist elements, not just by interwar Croat Peasant Party leader Stjepan Radić and post-1945 Communist historiography. I will argue that the public char-acter of the ideological confrontation with their liberal or leftist adversaries combined with interwar Yugoslavia’s challenge to Croat national identity to make these lay youth organizations a major political force in the twentiethcentury history of the Catholic Church in Croatia.

Youth and Catholicism in Modern Croatian Politics

  • 3 Anton Mahnič, Knjiga života. Izvatci iz govora i članaka Biskupa Antuna Mahnică, 149, as quoted in (...)

4Anton Mahnič, bishop of Krk, was one of the most vocal proponents of organized action for both clergy and laity to promote the rechristianization of society. Already in 1903 he had written that “liberalism has taken public life away from Christ and the Church by proclaiming religion a private mat-ter. An individual can believe and pray to God alone, while state, science, arts, legislation, and public schools acknowledge neither God nor Christ, nor do they obey any supreme law. Therefore a human being is divided in two: a private and a public person. A double morality is molded for him, a double consciousness: public and private. … Public life has to be reconquered for Christ, whom God the Father made King not only of individuals but of peoples and states, and consequently of public life.”3

  • 4 See Herbert Jedin, ed., Velika povijest crkve, vol. 6, part 2 (Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnjost, 1981)
  • 5 Until then, according to the Concordat that had regulated the position of the church in the Habsbu (...)
  • 6 See Mark Biondich’s preceding chapter on the evolution of Croat nationalism.
  • 7 For detailed accounts of the Catholic movement until 1918, see Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, and K (...)

5These terms defined the struggle of the Catholic Church against the secularization that characterized much of European religious history during the nineteenth century.4 However, in Croatia liberal clerics such as Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Rački, founding fathers of Yugoslavism, were more active as national leaders than as proponents of strict Catholicism. Even more conservative priests gladly involved themselves in politics and were not criticized, as long as the most important political issue was the struggle for national rights in the German- and Magyar-dominated Habsburg monarchy. What finally mobilized the church in Croatia politically and turned religion into a political question, was new legislation proposed by the liberal government in Hungary from 1894 on.5 But political organizing proved ineffective because of the divisions among the priests. Among the general public, the idea of founding a Catholic political party was seen as unnatural. This was a society where Catholicism was a tradition, not a political option. The main political alternatives to be chosen were Yugoslavism, promoting cooperation with non-Catholic South Slavs, or integral Croat nationalism, which tended to neglect religious differences.6 Among various new initiatives, newspapers, and associations that advocated social criticism from a Catholic viewpoint, it was the youth movement that managed to create the most durable structure.7

  • 8 Mirjana Gross, “Studentski pokret 1875–1914,” in Spomenica u povodu proslave 300-godišnjice Sveuči (...)
  • 9 They were forbidden to study in Zagreb after they had burnt the Hungarian flag during Emperor Fran (...)
  • 10 See Mile Vidović, Povijest Crkve u Hrvata (Split: Crkva u svijetu, 1996), 355–59.

6A majority of political, social and cultural undertakings in Croatia, as in other Central and East European societies in the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, involved high school and university students. In the early period of national integration, prospective intellectuals took their first steps in political organizing for the national cause at provincial theological seminaries and at the law faculty in Vienna, and from 1874 in Zagreb. Towards the end of the century, the student groups tried to emancipate themselves from the often disappointing set of existing political parties and to find their own voices in politics and culture. At first, Zagreb university students supported existing political parties, such as the Party of Right, exhausting their patriotic enthusiasm in celebrations and concerts.8 Moving beyond that celebratory spirit (nazdravicărstvo, or toasting) of the 1880s, the next generation of students sought to further political emancipation, the social and cultural improvement of the population, and their own intellectual and moral edification. Croat students in Prague (the “Progressive Youth”), future national leader Stjepan Radić among them, embraced this new approach under the influence of Professor Tomáš Masaryk.9 They also brought back criticism from Prague of the role of the Catholic Church in Croatian history and culture. For example, they judged the pope’s purported medieval designation of the Croats to be Antemurale Christianitatis (the ramparts of Christendom) shameful. Young modernist writers also denounced the large contingent of priests in cultural institutions such as the Academy of Sciences and Arts and the cultural institution Matica hrvatska.10

  • 11 He was influenced by Spanish Catholic writer F. Sardà y Salvany, who in the 1880s in his book Libe (...)
  • 12 As Anton Bozanić explains, the division of spirits (in Slovenian ločitev duhov, in Croatian dioba (...)
  • 13 “Radical Catholicism” and “Catholic radicalism” were the terms used by the movement’s participants (...)

7In this atmosphere, Catholic students began to organize under the direct influence of Bishop Mahnič. A Slovene by birth, he was not just conservative but intransigent, refusing unconditionally any compromise with liberal ideas.11 First in Slovene Carinthia, and then in Croatia, he launched an appeal for what he called the “division of spirits.”12 Echoing the papal encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius X that asked the Catholic laity to engage in social life from a position of radical Catholicism, he urged young laypersons to carry on that struggle: “The Croatian people must opt for God or against God. Croatian youth will follow the banner of Christ or the banner of Lucifer.”13

  • 14 Vlado Šrajcer, Luč 1912–1913, no. 17–20, as quoted in Krišto, Prešićena povijest, 197.
  • 15 Initiator Ivan Butković was a priest from the island of Krk, Mahnič’s diocese.
  • 16 See Zlatko Matijević, Slom politike katoličkog jugoslavenstva, and idem, “Hrvatska pučka stranka i (...)

8The youth of the era were at first reluctant to choose sides. One of the Catholic students described the students’ state of mind in these times: “In the lower grades, there was mechanical fulfilling of religious duties, in the higher ones negligence, and at the university contempt for the faith. … ‘Progressivism’ was at its peak. Most of the university students, and a considerable number of those in high school, were progressive, antireligious; the rest were indifferent. Religiosity and Catholicism were proclaimed to be enemies of culture, and committed Catholics seen as mentally inferior.”14 The first student Catholic society, Hrvatska, was founded in Vienna in 1903 by only five students, three of whom were priests.15 Three years passed before the Croatian Catholic Academic Club, Domagoj, named after a medieval Croat prince, was founded at a meeting of Catholic students at Trsat, again with only five members. Soon, however, these small student groups were entering into genuine newspaper wars with other young intellectuals who were violently attacking clericalism, however they defined it. Nationalistic young Croats considered the church to be the slave of Rome and demanded the establishment of a national church; Yugoslav advocates wanted the role of religion minimized, as it contributed to the separation of the Croats and the Serbs. The Catholics were also divided, as some were more willing than others to support Yugoslav unification. As they finished their studies, the core of the Catholic intellectuals, members of academic clubs such as Domagoj, formed the Seniorat in 1912. This group proposed to direct the whole Catholic movement and provide ideological guidelines. It was a small élite which nonetheless hoped to realize its program through political participation. The new political cards dealt after the First World War and the creation of the new Yugoslav state gave them their chance. They founded the first and only Croat Catholic political party. This was the Croat People’s Party (Hrvatska pučka stranka), which in the elections to the Constituent Assembly in Belgrade in 1920 won 46,599 votes and nine seats. It would be their best result—in 1923 the party won no seats, returning to Parliament only in 1927 with one seat.16

The Eagles: Physical Culture and Ideological Competition

  • 17 As the archives of the Crusaders’ organization were seized by the Communist security service after (...)

9In contrast to the failed political project of the small Seniorat, the supposedly apolitical set of local clubs for Catholic youth would prove much more successful. Their ascent began in 1923 when the existing set of youth and gymnastic organizations, already called Orlovi (Eagles), united to form one national Catholic gymnastic association. As already noted, in 1929 King Aleksandar banned all organizations, including gymnastic ones, based on “tribal” (ethnic), religious or regional affiliation. The organization was then transformed into the Great Crusaders’ Brotherhood and Sorority, with the same membership, leadership, ideology, and methods of work minus the gymnastics. In 1939, there were 43,100 Crusaders, male and female, in Croatia, Bosnia and Bačka (in the Vojvodina).17

  • 18 Ivan Merz (1896–1928) devoted all of his short life to organizing Catholic youth. He studied liter (...)
  • 19 URL: http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p11arcan.htm
  • 20 For concise information on the Eagles in Czechoslovakia, see Miloš Trapl, Political Catholicism an (...)
  • 21 Compare these to the symbolic apparatus of the Communist Pioneers analyzed in chapter 6 below by I (...)
  • 22 It seems that the geographical distribution of the Eagle branches corresponded to the previous div (...)
  • 23 The president of the Croatian Eagle Union and of the Great Crusader Brotherhood until 1938 was Ivo (...)

10A new approach shaped this type of Catholic mobilization. The originator and main ideologist of Orlovstvo (Eaglehood) among the Croats, Ivan Merz,18 enthusiastically embraced the concept of Catholic Action proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in the encyclical Ubi arcano Dei in 1922.19 It invited the laity to “participate in a hierarchical apostolate.” Lay organizations had to be strictly apolitical but were expected to include the clergy and act upon their bishops’ directions (nulla sine episcopo). Those principles marked a sharp break with previous practice in the Catholic movement. Political parties, syndicates, and cooperatives were, as organizations with “worldly goals,” left out of the Action. Merz, although himself a Senior, applied the new apolitical approach by borrowing from Czechoslovakia20 via Slovenia. The vehicle was a youth organization that primarily functioned as a gymnastic society but whose ambition was to nurture, through discipline, spiritual guidance and promotion of group unity, a new generation that would bring victory to Catholicism over liberalism in Croatia. At the great international Eagle assembly (slet) in Ljubljana in 1920, 5,000 young Croat Catholics participated in a parade with Czechs, Slovaks and Slovenes, totaling 50,000 people. Existing Croat youth gymnastic sections united in 1923 to form a centralized organization with an elaborate ideology, methodology, structure and paraphernalia such as uniforms, an emblem, a flag, songs, a slogan (Sacrifice, Eucharist, Apostolate) and a salutation (God lives!).21 Some of this was taken from Czech and Slovene models, some were original additions. The Eagles’ membership grew steadily; new local organizations were founded in small towns and villages all around Croatia and Bosnia.22 The female branch, Savez hrvatskih orlica, was founded in 1925.23

Members of the Croat Catholic Eagles in Prelog, in the Croatian region of Medjumurje (1926)

Public performance of female Eagles in Bosnia

  • 24 Dusăn M. Bogunović, Pregled telesnog odgoja i Sokolstva (Zagreb: Hrvatski štamparski zavod, 1925), (...)
  • 25 Engaged by the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, the Falcons participated in the arm (...)

11Nationalistic gymnastic societies had a considerable tradition in Slavic lands. The most important, Sokol (Falcon), was founded in 1862 in Czech lands, and spread in a couple of decades to other Slavic peoples. It combined mass physical exercises in a military spirit with liberal, nationalistic and pan-Slavic ideas, in order to mobilize popular resistance to Germanization in the Habsburg monarchy. The aim was to build healthy and disciplined youth with a developed national consciousness, ready to fight, when the moment came, for national liberation. The Slovene (1863) and Croat (1874) Falcons had similar goals, even more so the Serb Falcons. Serb branches emerged between 1904 and 1909 in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Croatia, espousing a common nationalistic program for the unification of all Serbs.24 Eventually, some Falcon leaders began to cooperate with each other and promote Yugoslav unification. In 1918 armed squads of Falcons were therefore engaged by the new political authorities in Zagreb to help establish the Yugoslav state.25

  • 26 For instance, Croatian nationalistic authorities in the 1880s enabled the Croatian Falcons to teac (...)

12As we can see, the link between physical education and political ideas was there from the beginning. A healthy individual was seen as a prerequisite for national liberation, a disciplined body being valued for physical fitness in an eventual armed confrontation. Gymnastic societies were also well suited to organize a large number of people, especially youngsters, around an idea. A spirit of togetherness emanating from assembled bodies performing the same movement fostered the sense of belonging to a larger community, in this case the nation. The Croat Eagles represented the Catholic response to the Falcons’ pronounced liberalism and religious indifference. At the same time, the socialists founded similar organizations for workers. Physical education, in the epoch when it gradually entered national systems of education, became a field for ideological competition.26

  • 27 Protulipac, Hrvatsko Orlovstvo, 20–26.

13Joining with this trend toward collective physical exercises, the leaders of the Croat Eaglehood theorized in detail about gymnastics as a tool both for building a healthy, disciplined generation and for carrying the Catholic message to the world. The apostolic spirit, the foundation of Catholic Action, made from disciplined squads of performers not simple sportsmen but knights of Christ. The rechristianization of public life was the main goal of the Eaglehood, making it in that respect different from various other intraecclesiastic congregations aiming at spiritual renewal. Of the four demands for Catholic radicalism in Eagle ideology, three were related to the public sphere. First, Eaglehood was equated with the division of spirits, as defined by Mahnič, since the manifest character of their activities enabled clear-cut ideological differentiation in the local community. Secondly, by the public confession of faith, religion was to be restored to public life. Thirdly, the clergy could assume the leading public role it had lost under liberal criticism. The fourth demand was for the radicalization of religious life. One of the visible signs of strict religious life was the frequent taking of communion, a change from the prevailing practice of receiving the Eucharist only at Easter and Christmas.27

  • 28 The Falcon program also included light athletics and exercises with equipment; hence their members (...)
  • 29 Organizacijski vijesnik 6 (1924): 4–5. See also Priručnik Orlovske organizacije (Osijek: Naklada S (...)
  • 30 The first great international Eagle slet, in which Croatian Catholics participated, was held in Lj (...)
  • 31 See Dusăn Žanko, “Two words on symbolic exercises,” Organizacijski vijesnik 2 (February 1925): 15.

14One goal was, therefore, to show a large membership and the strength of the idea by using public space for group exercises. This would convey both to the performers and to the public a strong sense of collective identity and ideological unity. Thus a modern mass organization could use the discipline of the body as a classical method of disciplining the mind, a fundamental part of Catholic tradition. So-called simple exercises were purposely preferred as accessible to everyone regardless of physical condition.28 They consisted of turning movements of arms, head, and body, executed simultaneously by the whole group. The Eagles’ Organizational Bulletin theorized that “through simple exercises we show our strength towards the outside. Every member can do them, and by this the public may evaluate the work and progress of the organization. No other type of exercise involves such a multitude of performers as the simple exercises do.”29 Regular gatherings at the local, national, or international level,30 the so-called slets, were events of central importance. There were mass performances of symbolic exercises such as “We Are Eagles” and the “Dalmatian Boatman,” where the movements also conveyed the content of the songs that accompanied them. “The Croats from the Time of Their Arrival until [King] Tomislav” was presented on the occasion of the celebration of the millennium of the Croatian king-dom, as recorded in Document 2.31

Eagles training in Gornje Selo on the island of Šolta (1926)

  • 32 “No one can serve two masters!” Organizacijski vijesnik 1 (January 1926): 23. The fact that member (...)
  • 33 Žutić, Sokoli, 23.
  • 34 Ibid. See also Marica Stanković, Mladost vedrine (Zagreb: Veliko krizărsko sestrinstvo, 1944), 21. (...)
  • 35 35 As in the ethnically mixed town of Pakrac. Nedjelja, 1940, no. 4, and no. 34: 3.

15In practice, Croat Eaglehood competed in the highly politicized realm of physical education with the state-sponsored gymnastic society Jugoslavenski Sokol (Yugoslav Falcon) that promoted the national (Yugoslav) spirit. Eagles and Falcons vied for their young public on both ideological and national grounds. Complicating the competition was the separate presence of the nationalistic but anti-clerical Hrvatski Sokol (Croat Falcon). Their structural relation was one of mutual exclusiveness, grounded on the Catholic side in a refusal to compromise with what was seen primarily as liberal ideology, a major threat to Catholicism. Membership in both organizations was strictly forbidden, and Catholic membership in scout associations or other sport clubs strongly discouraged, on the ground that their religious indifference presented a moral danger for young persons.32 The Falcons were labeled from the beginning in Eagles’ discourse as “our adversaries” (naši protivnici). The Eagles, on the other hand, were denounced as a clerical and political organization not only by the Falcons but even more so by the leader of the preeminent Croat Peasant Party, Stjepan Radić.33 Likewise, the Croatian Serb leader Svetozar Pribićević, as minister of education in 1922, prohibited all students from being members, condemning them as politically oriented organizations.34 Schoolteachers, as state employees, and often ethnic Serbs were expected to encourage membership in the Yugoslav Falcon. Sometimes they were very hostile to, or at best ignored, the Eagles’ (and later the Crusaders’) representations of their pupils.35

Crusaders’ Brotherhood in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula

  • 36 “Falcon is Falcon, whether Croat or Yugoslav. For us, it is a liberal organization we have to supp (...)
  • 37 Membership of the Eagles in the extremist Croatian Nationalist Youth (Hanao) was also strictly for (...)
  • 38 Fights over politics between the memberships of Eagle and Falcon were reported in Imotski (1925), (...)
  • 39 A girl from the village of Rakitovica, in Slavonia, wrote to Zagreb in 1927 how “many think that o (...)

16Although the Yugoslav Falcon was promoted by the state to eradicate “tribal” differences, Catholics in the 1920s insisted on the ideological divide between liberalism and Catholicism. They denounced the religious indifference of both the Yugoslav and the Croat Falcons. The predominance of the ideological over the national is particularly noticeable in the frequent exchanges between the Eagles and the Croat Falcons.36 The Croatian nationalist orientation of the Eagles was nonetheless explicit, and they therefore competed in the 1920s at the local level with other Croat nationalists, some of them anti-clerical, such as Radić’s Peasant Party, or the Croat Falcons.37 The animosity was not limited to the press; it occasionally led to verbal and physical violence, as when one organization held a public performance or other gathering.38 (See Document 1.) In some small towns and villages, several organizations had to share the same building for training and assemblies, pushing the rivalry into open confrontations.39

The Crusaders as an Alternative School

  • 40 The Croatian words prosvjeta and odgoj, used to define the Eaglehood, imply more than education—th (...)
  • 41 Žutić, Sokoli, 40.

17Much as the Eagle was, by its athletic nature, an attractive tool for assembling a young crowd, this was not a mere gymnastic club. In the first place it was designed to be an organization for education and upbringing—a kind of alternative school for the Catholic élite.40 This last dimension became dominant after King Aleksander banned all political parties and all organizations based on tribal, religious, or regional affiliation, including organizations for physical education, in 1929. The state took control of physical culture, regarding it as a tool for the promotion of integral Yugoslavism; hence Sokol Kraljevine Jugoslavije (the Falcon of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) became the first state organization for physical education. Membership was mandatory for all schoolchildren.41 All local Eagle branches were disbanded, flags and uniforms locked in boxes, to the great regret of many teenagers. The Catholic laity had to find other ways of action in the unfavorable circumstances of a royal dictatorship that outlawed even the use of ethnic names.

  • 42 Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 88–103. The first issue of the new journal, Križ, was sequestered, Prot (...)
  • 43 The role of priests in the organization was defined according to the principles of the Catholic Ac (...)

18This they nonetheless did in a couple of weeks. Ivo Protulipac and his associates quickly sketched the rules of the new organization and submitted them to Zagreb archbishop Antun Bauer and other bishops for confirmation. They found their new niche under the umbrella of the Catholic Church and registered as a religious association, part of the Apostolate of Prayer, under the supervision of the Jesuits. The leadership of the Eagles, Ivo Protulipac and Marica Stanković, were at the head of the “new” organization, the Great Crusader Brotherhood and Sorority, the Crusaders. Even though Protulipac was arrested and questioned by the authorities, the Crusaders were a religious association and therefore remained outside state control.42 Local organizations were slowly set up anew. The state authorities watched and suppressed any gathering outside church premises. Thus it seemed that the movement was restricted to the sacristy. More than before, the parish priest became a very important figure. If he was willing, he was the one who provided space and time for weekly meetings and Sunday Mass assemblage.43 Still, a nucleus of lay activists from Zagreb, Ivo Protulipac, Avelin Ćepulić, Marica Stanković and others, remained as active as ever, traveling every weekend to the provincial towns and villages, founding local branches, giving lectures and propagating their ideas.

  • 44 The Crusaders’ organization assembled separate local organizations of peasants, workers, high-scho (...)
  • 45 Joso Felicinović and Frano Grgić, Naš put: Nacrt za vjersko-prosvjetni rad omladine (Zagreb: Velik (...)

19Although the Eagles were also designed as an organization for upbringing and education, the Crusaders were able to develop this mission to a greater extent. The conceptualization was ambitious, aiming at shaping the totality of the young person’s character and at reaching all social classes.44 Reaffirmation of faith and moral conduct (particularly the physical and spiritual purity of boys and girls in adolescence) made up a large portion of the pedagogical effort. Yet the ultimate goal was to form a disciplined and militant younger generation in order to secure radical Catholicism in many aspects of social life. Instead of training for gymnastics, boys and girls met separately each week to listen to lectures and discuss them. Topics regularly included liturgy and faith, the organization’s management, social problems (the church and social questions, anti-Communism), and Croatian history.45 According to the Crusaders’ manual, 90 percent of the members left schooling after primary school. These lectures were therefore seen as crucial to the continuous education of young peasants and workers.

  • 46 Stj. Tomislav Poglajen D. I., “Na krizărsku vojnu protiv boljševičkog bezboštva,” Križ 1 ( January (...)

20The Crusaders took great care in building up a very centralized organization, with strict procedures for communication between the central office in Zagreb and local organizations. The central office planned and prepared activities, summer courses, brochures, and lectures. Along with anti-liberalism, anti-Communism became another main ideological concern of the Crusaders in the 1930s. Most of the local assemblies and summer courses included at least one lecture on the social question, with a critique of Communism. Their newspapers repeatedly wrote of the dire situation in the Soviet Union, stressing the persecution of religion and the anti-religious upbringing of children and youth. Republican persecution of the Catholic Church in Spain was also highlighted. With the pope leading the anti-Communist campaign, the Crusaders’ publications followed suit: “Brethren Crusaders! Vox Papae, Vox Christi! Be apostles of the word: speak out to the people about the horrors of Bolshevist atheism, about deadly misery, about the bestial subjugation under which Russian people now live, into which all the world will plunge if the young Crusader generation doesn’t stop it. To make it easier for you, we will say it again: Be Crusaders, that is, defenders and conquerors!”46

  • 47 Felicinović, Naš put, 18–20. Also, “The Crusader has to wear his badge publicly on his chest, beca (...)

21The concern for exerting decisive influence on the public thus remained very important, though now approached somewhat differently. Document 3 shows these methods of work. Not allowed to appear in public as a group, the Crusaders kept holding weekly meetings, lectures and debates, but once again with the clear goal of creating committed Catholics, who would themselves act in public. The pedagogical manual “Our Way” was explicit about the objective of the weekly meetings—first, through lectures and discussions the youngsters had to understand actual social issues; and second, through declamations and play-acting they should be encouraged and trained for public speaking, in order to defend Catholic ideas in front of their friends and co-villagers.47 In villages and small towns, the tavern and the square were the central places of socializing and political life, where all kinds of ideas were put forward and discussed. Before and after the dictatorship, there were activists of the Peasant Party, sympathizers with the Communists, supporters of the government, as well as atheists pure and simple—all of them considered by the Crusaders’ mentors as dangerous “demagogues” that poisoned youth. The Crusader was encouraged and trained to speak up confidently, with strong arguments, and passionately defend his beliefs. More than a prayer circle, the Crusaders’ organization was a school for public exhortation.

  • 48 Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 219–22.
  • 49 A “resolution on fashion and dance” was passed in 1926 by the Union of Croat (Female) Eagles, unde (...)
  • 50 Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 121.

22Female Crusaders worked especially hard to fulfill their apostolic program in their environment. Document 4 represents an appeal for a larger participation of girls in the movement. Charity work was carried on in the framework of Christmas Action, when members collected food and clothes for poor worker settlements. There they sought to bring back workers who had deserted religion, partially under Communist influence. Some new methods of work were copied from Belgian Catholics, such as the “Easter Struggle,” started in 1937. Participants in this initiative asked people to go to Easter confession and communion by distributing leaflets on the streets, in factories, and at the university.48 Female Crusaders employed in factories were encouraged to pray loudly during work breaks and to form prayer groups. At the same time, elements of the everyday life for youth were supposed to be remodeled in accordance with Catholic morality: wearing decent clothes and avoiding make-up, dancing in pairs, mixed bathing-places, and short sportswear.49 Such strict demands were not easily accepted by the young, especially the boys. Nonetheless, a group of Crusaders did manage to disrupt the Zagreb performance of scantily clad Josephine Baker.50

  • 51 “Our youth has to learn to openly profess the Catholic beliefs. Hence the collective holy communio (...)
  • 52 In May 1932 one such Eucharist celebration took place in Sarajevo. The program included a processi (...)
  • 53 In 1930 he was accused of inciting religious hatred in his programmatic article in the first issue (...)

23Additionally, the Crusaders continued organizing Sunday parades, collective communions, and public meetings for the community, with singing, theater, and oratory. In this fashion, they stayed in the public eye as an important religious and national organization.51 Eucharistic congresses in big cities were places and times for mass gatherings, when boys and girls traveled to Zagreb or Sarajevo from the greatest distance to demonstrate the magnitude of Catholicism.52 The celebration of Christ the King was established as a new holiday in 1925, by which the Catholic Church wanted to underline the sovereignty of Christ even in this world. It became one of the most important dates in the Crusaders’ calendar, as did the Pope’s Day from 1932. On these occasions, the president of the Great Crusaders’ Brotherhood, Ivo Protulipac, used his oratorical skill to deliver speeches that landed him in court, accused of political involvement.53

  • 54 In her book written in 1944, Marica Stanković openly discourages religiously mixed marriages. Stan (...)

24Those accusations were largely related to the Crusaders’ Croat nationalism. From the beginning, love for the homeland was declared to be a religious duty and one of the principles of the organization. Yet the homeland was not Yugoslavia, but Croatia, imagined in its greater version, as the land where Croat people lived, including Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bačka. Especially in those areas beyond Croatia proper, the Crusaders’ movement fostered a process of national integration and integral Croat national identity. Thus in Sombor, Teslić, and Sarajevo, the Crusaders shared the vision of Holy Croatia, learned about Croatian history, and sang the Croatian anthem at every meeting, just like their fellows in Zagreb or Senj. The movement proceeded within a strictly national framework, so that even contacts with their Slovenian counterparts were not pursued. The Crusaders provided young people with an alternative way of life through which the leadership sought to separate them from both non-Catholic and Yugoslav influences. In all the texts produced by and for the Eagles and Crusaders, the name of the state, Yugoslavia, was rarely if ever mentioned. “In this state” was the usual way of identifying the entity containing the “homeland,” which was always understood as Greater Croatia. Nor was there any mention of non-Catholic citizens and neighbors, of Orthodox Christians or Muslims.54 The past they related to was the narrative of Croatian kings, freedom fighters, and Croatian relations with the papacy throughout history.

  • 55 See “O stogodišnjici rođenja Ivana Protulipca. Prilog povijesti hrvatskog katoličkog pokreta,” Kol (...)
  • 56 See Lav Znidarčić, “Organizirano djelovanje katoličkih svjetovnjaka na području Zagrebačke Nadbisk (...)

25By the late 1930s, the nation was gaining equal importance with God in the Crusaders’ agenda. More than before, the catchwords “God, Church, Homeland” appeared in their discourse. Membership grew along with the Croat national movement for political emancipation from Belgrade. Protulipac approached Vladko Maček, Radić’s successor as head of the dominant and expanding Croatian Peasant Party, who had cut back on his predecessor’s anti-clericalism. This approach prompted internal dissension inside the Catholic movement against Protulipac.55 The hierarchy decided to intervene in the longstanding rivalry between the Crusaders and the Domagoj (Seniors), over which it did not have enough control. The attempt to put all Catholic organizations under one authority was, however, unsuccessful. In 1936 Protulipac was first appointed to the position of the president of Catholic Action, the umbrella organization, but soon resigned under pressure from his opponents. They now came from two directions, not just from the rival Domagoj but also from an increasingly assertive Archbishop Stepinac. Stepinac then founded the so-called neutral Catholic Action, a set of classbased organizations for Catholic peasants, workers and students, in which the Seniors held leading positions.56

The first public performance of the Little Crusaders’ brass band in Dubrovnik (1939)

  • 57 The Croat Hero promoted the building of a “new man in a new and better Croatia,” while its newspap (...)
  • 58 A separate entity, Banovina Croatia was formed under the Sporazum of 1939 with the Belgrade govern (...)

26After Protulipac was dismissed by Stepinac in 1938, he weakened the Crusaders’ organization further the next year when he formed a new youth organization, Hrvatski Junak (Croat Hero). He did so in cooperation with several leading figures from the Croat Peasant Party, former active members of the Croat Falcon, and some former Crusaders. After fifteen years at the head of the Catholic movement, Protulipac now created a militant, exclusive nationalist organization that, by some accounts, advocated fascist ways of mobilizing the young.57 Apparently, many Crusaders joined the Croat Hero, which was supported by the newly permissive Maček administration of the enlarged and explicitly Croatian banovina.58 The outbreak of war in 1941 deepened the crisis for any separate Catholic movement. The Crusaders enthusiastically welcomed the proclamation of Croatian independence as the final coming of the New Holy Croatia for which they had fought over the past two decades. Four days after the invasion of Yugoslavia and the bombing of Belgrade, on 10 April, German troops entered Zagreb and made it possible for leaders of the Fascist Ustasă party, (see chapter 2) to proclaim the Independent State of Croatia. The Crusaders’ newspaper cheered the “resurrection of the Croatian state” as the most beautiful Easter in all Croat history. The accomplishment of their dreams about the state, expressed in Document 5, was even seen by some as a fulfillment of the Crusaders’ mission and the end of their raison d’être.

  • 59 Just to name a few: the president of the Great Crusader Brotherhood, Felix Niedzielsky, joined the (...)
  • 60 Lav Znidarčić, “Sjećanje živih svjedoka na Čedomila Čekadu,” in Marko Josipović and Mato Zorkić, e (...)

27There was, however, no special place for Crusaders within the Ustasă state apparatus. The regime demanded mandatory participation in the “Ustasă Youth” for all children and young people. Its leader, Ivan Orsănić, had been an active member of the Eagles’ administration in the 1920s (as was his good friend Dusăn Žanko, now intendant of the Croatian National Theater). During his reception of twenty-nine Crusader leaders on 19 June 1941, Ustasă chief Ante Pavelić expressed his desire to cooperate with the Crusaders, but it seems that not much happened after that. Other Crusader leaders soon took high-ranking positions within the Ustasă Youth.59 When a group of Crusader leaders visited the influential canon of the Sarajevo archdiocese, Čedomil Čekada, he sharply criticized the participation of Crusaders in the Ustasă movement as “intolerable politicization.” Marica Stanković justified the inclusion of her colleagues in the leadership of Ustasă Youth on the grounds that they had to prevent the dominance of liberals and anti-Catholics in the only official youth organization.60

  • 61 Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 213.

28By the end of 1941, internal discussions prompted another effort to depoliticize the Crusaders’ organization. It was proclaimed in an official resolution of December 1941 that members who had already entered the Ustasă movement or the state administration must leave the Crusaders. Consequently, the president of the Great Crusader Brotherhood, Felix Niedzielsky, left the Crusaders in 1942. The Crusaders’ newspaper Nedjelja stopped putting panegyrics to Ante Pavelić on its front page. Favorable news about the Ustasă movement, plus anti-Semitic and anti-Communist articles that had appeared during the first six months after the proclamation of the new state, now vanished. Besides traditional religious topics, it covered news about Crusaders who died in the Ustasă and regular army ranks fighting against the “bandits.” Letters were printed from Crusaders on the Eastern front in Ukraine who wrote of their pride in fighting against the bestial Reds. As Živko Kustić put it later, “If I had been a few years older, I would have definitely volunteered for the Eastern front against the Bolsheviks.”61

  • 62 Žarko Brzić, Nasmijano lice. Tragom životnih putova prof. Marice Stanković (–Dakovački Selci: Žups (...)
  • 63 Brzić, Nasmijano lice, 55.
  • 64 She wrote that only a few of the imprisoned (female) Crusaders were “politicians” (i.e., political (...)

29With this wider war, the activities of the Crusaders’ organization declined. Male members volunteered or were recruited into the regular army. Female Crusaders provided food and lodging for refugee members, as well as continued education for refugee school children.62 They continued such activities after the Communist assumption of power in May 1945. In an agreement with the Crusader leadership, Archbishop Stepinac disbanded the for-mal Crusader organization. Yet some groups continued to work. Marica Stanković, the restless activist, pursued her apostolic vocation in these new circumstances. Some female Crusaders helped captured soldiers of defeated armies in the partisan POW camps by providing them with food, underwear or medicine.63 They met secretly in churches. But Marica Stanković also continued to promote what was the essence of the Crusaders’ ideology— publicly defending the church and Catholicism. As a teacher, she attended the great meeting of teachers convoked by the Communists on 2 July 1945, at which the speakers attacked Archbishop Stepinac. She and a colleague publicly voiced their disagreement and disgust with what they regarded as defamation of their shepherd. She was arrested in September 1947, accused of conspiracy and anti-state activities, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, together with seven other (mainly female) Crusaders. She spent five years in harsh postwar detention, along with female Crusaders who were active Ustasăs and nationalists, opposed to her more religious orientation.64

Conclusion

30Marked by the “clericalist” stigma in the Communist period, the Eagles and the Crusaders still remain in the shadow of contemporary Croatian historiography’s interest in the controversial figure of Archbishop Stepinac. Yet the role of the Catholic Church in shaping modern Croat identity cannot be properly assessed without further research into grassroots Catholic organizing. The same could be said of interwar Croatian political history, often too narrowly focused on the Croat Peasant Party and its success in elections. A brief glance, offered by this study, at the political landscape in smaller communities shows that irreconcilable political differences were to be found even among teenagers. This invites us to further study of the political orientation and influence of the Catholic Church in interwar and wartime Croatia and Yugoslavia.

  • 65 With a permanent identity crisis, as chapter 10 by Marko Bulatović in this volume demonstrates.

31As for Catholic grassroots mobilization, whether in the form of gymnastics or as an alternative educational initiative, the principle message sent to the youngsters was always the same: be Catholic and speak out. Their leaders, mainly young laypersons themselves, were selling an old idea on the market of historically new competing ideologies: liberalism, Communism, nationalism, Yugoslavism. Not least of the sources of their appeal was the method of mobilization they used. Collective participation in parades, processions or gymnastic performances, with all participants dressed as one, together with confidence in the world dimension of Catholicism affirmed through mass celebrations with thousands taking part, fostered the process of identity-building among receptive adolescents. The merging of religious and national identity with particular efforts to ensure its presence in the public realm were, in a multi-religious and multi-national country such as Yugoslavia was,65 necessarily perceived as a strong political choice. Its cultural and social consequences survived the twentieth century.

Sources

Document 1:

32Here we are in Sinj, a nice squad of male and female Eagles, but our adversaries are always nagging us because to them we are a constant pain in the neck. The other day (the 21st of the current month) they proved the full extent of their hatred. Our whole Eagle society undertook an excursion to a nearby village close to the Cetina River. There we held our assembly and the whole program in nature. You can imagine how wonderful we felt. We all started parading from Sinj as early as half past seven, accompanied by our marching band, and arrived at the destination of the excursion around nine o’clock. It was more delightful there than at any promenade. We had fun all day long and in the evening, at around six-thirty, we arrived at the market place in Sinj, where we were met by Falcon bandits. But God was with us. We were informed by their party that Falcons were getting ready and that we should be prepared. We were marching without fear in our most imposing stride to the sound of our band, playing the Eagle’s march, when all of a sudden their people rushed and started slapping our people. But ours yelled “hurrah,” charged, and pounded them good. They got what they asked for. And so, my dear friend, they are only making us stronger with these attacks, and are even disregarded by their own smarter party members. This is what I really wanted to describe to you in detail.

33Source: A letter written by Fileta Franjić from Sinj, 1922, published in: Marica Stanković, Mladost vedrine (Zagreb: Veliko Krizărsko Sestrinstvo, 1944), 25.

Document 2:

34At the beginning of August this year, all Croat Eagles should gather in this old Croatian city in Dalmatia—first because the importance of the slet about to be held demands it, and secondly because with that slet the Croat Eaglehood is celebrating the thousandth anniversary of our kingdom.

35The slet is by itself a very powerful tool of our work. During the slet we become aware of our forces and strengthen our brotherhood. We put forth much propaganda for Eaglehood and through public manifestos assert to the public the strength and magnitude of our principles. We become visible to the world with all our values, present ourselves to the people with one complete performance, and announce our final victory to the liberal intelligentsia.

36Yes, all of this is waiting for us in Šibenik. The consciousness of our Eagles’ duty is calling us there, because a young Eagles’ army is about to be shown there for the first time in all its present strength that it has among the Croats.

37But our ardent patriotic love is also calling us there. The consciousness of Croatianhood and nationality. Šibenik is placed in the middle of the Croatian kingdom’s cradle, on the rugged Dalmatian coast, where the Croatian national crown sprouted and developed its activities throughout the centuries—from great Tomislav to the last one, Peter.

38It is the best place to celebrate the millennium, where the Croat Eaglehood needs to perform with the utmost dignity and thus express its patriotic feelings. To the sounds of the Eagles’ anthem, thousands of Eagles’ voices should shout to the first king: Glory!

39Therefore, brethren Eagles, get busy!

40Prepare your Eagle uniforms, so that we can show ourselves in all our beauty and shine as the knights of Christ. …

41Particular attention should be given to the special exercise, “The Croats from Their Time of Arrival until Tomislav,” which every Eagle should know. …

42Once again I shout, brethren Eagles, let’s go to Šibenik, so that we can repay our debt to mighty Tomislav with our Eagles’ strength and prove to the world that

43we are still a strong Croat race.

44God lives!

45(Note: emphasis and display of the text as in the original form, except for the word “slet.”)

46Source: Dusăn Zănko, “Let’s go to Šibenik!”, Organizacijski vjesnik 3, no. 3, 1May 1925, 1.

Document 3:

47To accomplish their goal, the Crusaders will:

  • endeavor that all member Crusaders be Catholic in their lives, full of faith and God’s spirit. Therefore, all members will:
  • participate in church meetings, at least once a month, when the chaplain determines;
  • live by the principles of the Catholic faith and collectively receive Holy Communion every month;
  • attend to spiritual exercises at least every other year. If it is not possible to observe closed spiritual exercises (especially in the Home of Spiritual Exercises), the exercises will be organized for the whole membership in a local church;
  • collectively participate in religious celebrations, everyone with his own society, according to the decisions of the council of the Crusader Brotherhood or superior units. Participation in the Easter and Corpus Christi processions is always collective;
  • celebrate together special Crusader holidays;
  • be active in liturgical life and spread the liturgical movement.
  • endeavor that all members receive the right education, suffused with religious truths, and are ready in their knowledge, inspired by the spirit of togetherness in their lifework. Therefore, they will:
  • organize Crusader meetings, instructors’ lectures, and courses of study on religious, cultural, social, and general issues;
  • establish libraries and reading rooms, rehearse and give performances, recitations, etc.;
  • foster music and singing, especially liturgical;
  • nourish the fellowship by collective games, excursions, etc.
  • spread Catholic consciousness, determination, and instruction among Catholic population, especially through:
  • fighting against cursing and swearing, our national evil;
  • working for devoting the family to the Holy Heart of Jesus, working on the mobilization of the masses in religious associations, spreading the Catholic press, etc.;
  • organization of manifestations, special religiously instructive lectures for the common people, meetings, conventions, entertainment in the Catholic spirit, our society’s papers and publications;
  • helping the ecclesiastical authorities in pastoralization, particularly by participating in the catechistic education of believers as catechism instructors, as well as by working for the missions in missionary sections of their own.
  • In order to facilitate their work, the Crusaders will collect material funds from membership fees, contributions, donations, and manifestations.
  • For female Crusaders, special regulations are to be decreed.

48Source: “The means of social work,” from the Manual of the Crusaders’ Organization (1930), published in: Božidar Nagy, Hrvatsko Krizărstvo: Pregled osnivanja, razvoja i obnove Krizărske katoličke organizacije u Hrvatskoj (Zagreb: Krizărska organizacija—Postulatura za beatifikaciju Ivana Merza, 1995), 108

Document 4:

49Yes, if we want all our people to be reborn in Christ, if we want the former religious ardor of the Croats to return to the hearts of our children, our youth, families, and public life, it is impossible to accomplish this without a woman, a mother, and a girl. She makes the basis of the family, she has children’s education in her hands, her influence on public life is constantly growing stronger and larger. …

50Liberal organizations have well noticed the importance of the woman and her influence on the family and public life, and therefore are making efforts to conquer the woman’s world, especially female youth. Only among us, the Catholics, do many still question whether it is necessary to organize female youth in Catholic associations. … Girls are good by their nature, they are pious, so at this moment they don’t need any association. The most important task is to organize young men. … This is the wisdom of some who, in the end, don’t organize either of them, because the liberal organizations have already taken the youth away.

51The Female Crusaders’ Organization clearly and openly announces: We want a strong, firm, solid movement of Croatian Catholic female youth. We want religiously and eucharistically built units, which will nourish with the richness of their souls everyone with whom woman by her vocation comes in touch. We want thoroughly educated girls, whose life will be completely permeated by Catholic principles, the principles of real truth and devoted love for their fellow men. We want to create a strong army among the girls, always ready to fight for the Kingdom of Christ. …

52Although the Female Crusaders are not the only religious organization among us, none of the others carries out work with children as systematically as we do. The little five-year-old girls are already organized, and by the age of fifteen the delicate child soul must be completely cultivated in the Catholic spirit. Our best members come from the troops of the Little Crusaders.

53In this way the Female Crusaders’ Organization has organized children, girls, and women, because when a Crusader girl gets married, she becomes a leader and stays in touch with the association. …

54Like no other organization, we develop in a girl a sense of apostleship, apostolate in family and in public. Today we need strong, formed, iron women and girls that will raise their voices everywhere. This is the essential characteristic of the Female Crusaders’ Organization. We cannot find it in any other organization. Therefore, we are certain that every friend of Catholic thought will support our organization. There should not be a place without it. Let the Crusaders unite all the noble girls of our villages and towns.

55Source: Marica Stanković, “Why the Female Crusaders’ Organization?” Križ 3, 5 May 1932, 5–6.

Document 5:

56The Great Crusader Brotherhood has passed on, through Ustasă military chaplain Dr. Ivo Guberina and Reverends Cvitanović and Vitezić, this salutation to the Poglavnik, the regime’s leader Ante Pavelić:

57“It is our indescribable joy and happiness that, on behalf of the Great Crusader Brotherhood and the whole Crusaders’ Organization, we can salute our Poglavnik, liberator of the Croat people and founder of the independent State of Croatia.

58Our members, led by our motto, “Sacrifice, Eucharist, Apostolate,” had no fear of difficulties; on their communion bench they sought heavenly solace, and among the people they were the apostles of our religious and national sanctities. Raised in the spirit of Catholic radicalism, which in its principles knows no compromise, they had no knowledge of yielding in the Croat nationalist program, either.

59Today, when the sun of freedom has shone, we remember all the events and mishaps of our long-lasting activities. We remember how gendarmes and mercenaries of former regimes battered our members, stamped on our flags, tore off Croatian colors and badges from our chests, restricted our work in church and sacristy, until our members among the Senj victims and in other places testified to their idealism with blood and their own lives. But at the same time we remember our meetings and camping, when young men inscribed the letters “ŽAP” [acronym for “Long live Ante Pavelić”] onto the tree barks, and when at night, around the campfires, reverberated the song, “Come back, Ante, Croatia is calling you!”

60Dear Poglavnik, the Crusaders salute you and declare their deep love and loyalty to you. Let the Almighty bless you and our state! And the Crusaders will keep on building immortal souls for God, and unbreakable characters for the Croat nation.

61God lives! For homeland prepared!
Chaplain-General Dr.Milan Beluhan
President Dr. Felix Niedzielski
Secretary Ivica Kribić

62Source: “Crusaders Greet the State of Croatia and the Poglavnik,” Nedjelja, 27 April 1941, 2.

Notes

1 Any involvement of priests and commited Catholics in politics, including those referred to in this chapter, was simply labeled by its opponents and post-1945 Communist historiography as “clericalism.” Post-Communist historiography prefers to speak of “organized Catholicism,” “political Catholicism,” even “Catholic Croatism” and “Catholic Yugoslavism,” their respective national programs. The most detailed monographs are Jure Krišto, Prešućena povijest: Katolička crkva u hrvatskoj politici, 1850– 1918 (Zagreb: Hrvatska sveučilišna naklada, 1994); Mario Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo: Počeci političkog katolicizma u banskoj Hrvatskoj, 1897–1904 (Zagreb: Barbat, 1997); and Zlatko Matijević, Slom politike katoličkog jugoslavenstva: Hrvatska pučka stranka u političkom životu Kraljevine SHS, 1919–1929 (Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest, 1998). There is no comprehensive nor analytical historiographic account of the professedly apolitical youth organizations examined in this chapter, except for an uncritical book by Božidar Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo: Pregled osnivanja, razvoja i obnove Krizărske katoličke organizacije u Hrvatskoj (Zagreb: Krizărska organizacija—Postulatura za beatifikaciju Ivana Merza, 1995).

2 See Martin Conway, Catholic Politics in Europe, 1918–1945 (London: Routledge, 1997), 40–44.

3 Anton Mahnič, Knjiga života. Izvatci iz govora i članaka Biskupa Antuna Mahnică, 149, as quoted in Nagy, 14.

4 See Herbert Jedin, ed., Velika povijest crkve, vol. 6, part 2 (Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnjost, 1981).

5 Until then, according to the Concordat that had regulated the position of the church in the Habsburg monarchy since 1855, the church in Croatia had suffered only the loss of the direct control of public schools. Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, 57– 60. The defense of Catholic principles as fundamental collective values of the Croat nation was used for the first time in the election campaign of 1897, with a large participation of priests. Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, 64. In 1900 the first forum of organized Catholics, the Croatian Catholic Congress, took place in Zagreb.

6 See Mark Biondich’s preceding chapter on the evolution of Croat nationalism.

7 For detailed accounts of the Catholic movement until 1918, see Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, and Krišto, Prešućena povijest.

8 Mirjana Gross, “Studentski pokret 1875–1914,” in Spomenica u povodu proslave 300-godišnjice Sveučilišta u Zagrebu (Zagreb: Sveučilište u Zagrebu, 1969), 456.

9 They were forbidden to study in Zagreb after they had burnt the Hungarian flag during Emperor Francis Joseph’s visit to Zagreb in 1895.

10 See Mile Vidović, Povijest Crkve u Hrvata (Split: Crkva u svijetu, 1996), 355–59.

11 He was influenced by Spanish Catholic writer F. Sardà y Salvany, who in the 1880s in his book Liberalism Is a Sin demanded that the Catholic Church formally condemn liberalism and all modern ideas born after the French Revolution, as Pope Pius IX had done in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors. Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, 218.

12 As Anton Bozanić explains, the division of spirits (in Slovenian ločitev duhov, in Croatian dioba duhova) was “the cultural struggle that was supposed to result not only in drawing the line between conservative Catholic and liberal intellectuals, but also in the gradual elimination from public life of all ideas that contradicted in any way the Catholic interpretation of reality.” Quoted in Strecha, Katoličko hrvatstvo, 219. Cf. the Kulturkampf in Germany in the 1870s.

13 “Radical Catholicism” and “Catholic radicalism” were the terms used by the movement’s participants themselves. This basically meant consistency in faith and actions. Protulipac defines Catholic radicalism as the public profession of faith. To Mahničthe term is opposed to Catholic liberalism—defined as “Catholic duplicity, compromise of the Catholics with the devil by reason of ‘peace, concord, and general unity.’” Such behavior included reading the atheist or anti-Catholic press and supporting anti-Catholic political parties, while at the same time attending church. See Ivo Protulipac, Hrvatsko Orlovstvo (Zagreb, 1926), 18–20.

14 Vlado Šrajcer, Luč 1912–1913, no. 17–20, as quoted in Krišto, Prešićena povijest, 197.

15 Initiator Ivan Butković was a priest from the island of Krk, Mahnič’s diocese.

16 See Zlatko Matijević, Slom politike katoličkog jugoslavenstva, and idem, “Hrvatska pučka stranka i dr. Ivan Merz,” Obnovljeni život, 3–4 (1997): 232–33. The majority of Croatian votes was gradually taken over by the Croat Peasant Party, whose leader Stjepan Radić became the incarnation of the Croat national movement in the first decade of life in the common state of the South Slavs.

17 As the archives of the Crusaders’ organization were seized by the Communist security service after the Second World War and their whereabouts are still unknown, we have only summary data on membership during the period 1931–1939, as follows: 3,600 (1931), 4,755 (1932), 8,800 (1933), 11,599 (1934), 14,060 (1935), 16,508 (1936), 22,800 (1937), 26,689 (1938). These numbers apply to the Great Crusader Brotherhood, the organization’s male branch. It was divided into class-based subgroups. In 1937, there were 1,000 high-school students, 4,610 workers, 8,700 peasants, and 8,490 Little Crusaders (under fifteen years old). As for the Great Crusader Sorority, data for 1938 indicate 15,000 members in 414 sororities—123 for peasant girls, 74 for working girls, 25 for high-school students, 185 for Little Crusaders, and 7 for leaders. Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 158–159. At the same time (1939), there were 590 members of Domagoj, 47,000 members of the Yugoslav Falcon in Croatia proper (adults and non-Croats included), and 9,000 members of the Communist Youth (SKOJ) in the whole of Yugoslavia. For membership of the Yugoslav Falcon, see Nikola Žutić, Sokoli: Ideologija u fizičkoj kulturi Kraljevine Jugoslavije, 1929–1941 (Beograd: Angrotrade, 1991), 167. For the Communist Youth, see Povijest Saveza komunista Jugoslavije (Beograd: Izdavački centar Komunist – Narodna knjiga – Rad, 1985), 152. The total population of Croatia in 1931 was 3,430,000, while the ethnic Croats in all of Yugoslavia totaled three million.

18 Ivan Merz (1896–1928) devoted all of his short life to organizing Catholic youth. He studied literature in Paris (1920–1922), where he became acquainted with organizations such as La Croisade eucharistique française, whose slogan “Sacrifice, Eucharist, Apostolate” he borrowed for the Eagles. He was the moving spirit and secretary of the Croatian Eagle Union from its founding until his death. The process of his beatification is currently (2002) in its final phase.

19 URL: http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p11arcan.htm

20 For concise information on the Eagles in Czechoslovakia, see Miloš Trapl, Political Catholicism and the Czechoslovak People’s Party in Czechoslovakia, 1918–1938 (Boulder, Col.: Social Science Monographs, 1995), 35.

21 Compare these to the symbolic apparatus of the Communist Pioneers analyzed in chapter 6 below by Ildiko Erdei. The white cross, cap and uniform were also seen as a constant spur to the member’s good behavior.

22 It seems that the geographical distribution of the Eagle branches corresponded to the previous divisions between pro-Yugoslav Seniors and Domagoj, on the one hand, and the uncompromising faction, on the other. Thus, strong centers of Eaglehood, and later Crusaders, were the diocese of Sarajevo (Bosnia), Slavonia, central and northern Croatia, the diocese of Šibenik in Dalmatia, and the Adriatic islands. The bishops that especially supported their work were Antun Bauer (Zagreb), Ivan Ev. Sărić (Sarajevo), Josip Srebrnić (Krk), Jerolim Mileta (Šibenik), Mihovil Pušić (Hvar), Antun Aksămović (–Dakovo), Petar Čule (Mostar), and Smiljan Čekada (Skopje, Sarajevo). Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 68. There were very few branches in Herzegovina, or in ethnically mixed areas of Croatia such as Lika. The Jesuits tended to support the Eagles and Crusaders more than the Franciscans did.

23 The president of the Croatian Eagle Union and of the Great Crusader Brotherhood until 1938 was Ivo Protulipac (1899–1946), a lawyer, and the president of the female Eagles and Great Crusader Sorority until 1945 was Marica Stanković (1900–1957), a teacher.

24 Dusăn M. Bogunović, Pregled telesnog odgoja i Sokolstva (Zagreb: Hrvatski štamparski zavod, 1925), 66–96. On the unification of ethnic Falcons into one Yugoslav organization, see Dusăn M. Bogunović, Od Ujedinjenja Sokolstva do II. Sokolskog Sabora (Zagreb, 1924).

25 Engaged by the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, the Falcons participated in the armed conflict with the former Austro-Hungarian soldiers who demonstrated in favor of the republic on 5 December 1918. See Ferdo Čulinović, Jugoslavija između dva rata (Zagreb: Izdavački zavod JAZU, 1961), 1: 160–68.

26 For instance, Croatian nationalistic authorities in the 1880s enabled the Croatian Falcons to teach Falcon gymnastics in schools. The subsequent oppressive regime of Khuen-Héderváry, in order to suppress Yugoslavism, curricula in 1893, propagated the introduction of the Swedish gymnastic system into school curricula, as it was different from the Slavic and the German systems alike. Žutić, Sokoli, 6. Gymnastic systems were considered to be expressions of national spirit.

27 Protulipac, Hrvatsko Orlovstvo, 20–26.

28 The Falcon program also included light athletics and exercises with equipment; hence their members participated in European gymnastic competitions. Among the Eagles, such disciplines were recommended for advanced members, if circumstances allowed. The ideal was a healthy, harmonious and beautiful body, without exaggerated muscle size or tone.

29 Organizacijski vijesnik 6 (1924): 4–5. See also Priručnik Orlovske organizacije (Osijek: Naklada Strossmayerovo orlovsko okružje –Dakovo, 1923), 118–22. Public performance is there presented as an image of success, an agitational tool, and a source of enthusiasm and courage.

30 The first great international Eagle slet, in which Croatian Catholics participated, was held in Ljubljana in 1920. In 1922, in Brno (Czechoslovakia), the Croatian flag was carried by the future Zagreb archbishop, young Alojzije Stepinac.

31 See Dusăn Žanko, “Two words on symbolic exercises,” Organizacijski vijesnik 2 (February 1925): 15.

32 “No one can serve two masters!” Organizacijski vijesnik 1 (January 1926): 23. The fact that members of those organizations and clubs could also belong to other religions was perceived as a particular problem. In fact, the readers were warned that for that reason “the Church condemns joining those associations.”

33 Žutić, Sokoli, 23.

34 Ibid. See also Marica Stanković, Mladost vedrine (Zagreb: Veliko krizărsko sestrinstvo, 1944), 21. The Yugoslav Falcon was temporarily the only organization in which a high-school student could engage.

35 35 As in the ethnically mixed town of Pakrac. Nedjelja, 1940, no. 4, and no. 34: 3.

36 “Falcon is Falcon, whether Croat or Yugoslav. For us, it is a liberal organization we have to suppress every step of the way. The brethren have a duty to distribute our new inexpensive brochure, ‘The Croat Falcon from the Catholic point of view,’ especially among Catholics who maybe still sympathize with this Falcon. We need to break their ridiculous illusions that this Falcon isn’t liberal and atheist.”—“Mi i hrvatsko Sokolstvo,” Organizacijski vijesnik 10/11 (November/December 1924): 7. The paper also invited members to submit reports on activities of both Croatian and Yugoslav Falcons in their towns, with special attention to their attitude toward religion. It was suggested that the leader of the Falcons was an apostate priest and that Catholics only joined the Falcons because they wanted to be good Croats, or for the sake of fun. Organizacijski vijesnik 1 (January 1925): 3.

37 Membership of the Eagles in the extremist Croatian Nationalist Youth (Hanao) was also strictly forbidden. “Our Eagles are definitely better Croats and will be enormously more useful, and bring more good to our people, than the elements that have elevated nationalism to the altar but serve it with every means.” Organizacijski vijesnik 10/11 (October/November 1924): 7. However, it is not possible to find a specific political program or standpoint on the Croat national question or the Yugoslav state (e.g., federation vs. a unitary state, separatism, republicanism). Those issues were seen as quintessentially political and therefore avoided.

38 Fights over politics between the memberships of Eagle and Falcon were reported in Imotski (1925), in Cernik (Slavonia, 1926), in Čitluk (Herzegovina, 1927) where weapons were fired, in the village of Bojnikovac near Bjelovar (1928), and in Tuzla (Bosnia, 1929). Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 53–54; Orlovska strază 5 (1927), 4: 129–30; 6 (1928), 10. In August 1940, in Sombor (Vojvodina), the members of the local soccer team attacked the Crusaders that wore Crusader uniforms, while the following week the Falcons disrupted the Crusaders’ assembly in Pag. Nedjelja 1940, no. 34: 8 and no. 35: 4. See also Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 202–4, for reports on conflicts with the Communist Youth (SKOJ) and Peasant Concord (Seljačka sloga), an educational organization of the Croat Peasant Party.

39 A girl from the village of Rakitovica, in Slavonia, wrote to Zagreb in 1927 how “many think that our organization is political and directed against Radić’s movement. The villagers protest and incite the membership to split. Without our own hall, we exercised in our private homes, and when the weather was fine we met outside in the field, where we were exercising and reading. … ” Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 50.

40 The Croatian words prosvjeta and odgoj, used to define the Eaglehood, imply more than education—the former has the connotation of “enlightenment” and “mass education,” while the latter means “upbringing,” often more precisely defined as of a physical, moral, religious, and patriotic sort.

41 Žutić, Sokoli, 40.

42 Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 88–103. The first issue of the new journal, Križ, was sequestered, Protulipac imprisoned, and Archbishop Bauer put under pressure to ban the Crusaders, but they persevered in their plans.

43 The role of priests in the organization was defined according to the principles of the Catholic Action, thanks to Ivan Merz. While in Slovenia priests could become members of the Eagle, though not in any special position, in Croatia the members were strictly laypersons; but every organization had one priest as a spiritual guide, the chaplain (duhovnik).

44 The Crusaders’ organization assembled separate local organizations of peasants, workers, high-school students, leaders and children (Little Crusaders). Separation was grounded on the idea that each class (stalež) and gender had its own needs. The brotherhood of all classes and respect for fellow Eagles of different social rank were promoted in the spirit of Christian democracy.

45 Joso Felicinović and Frano Grgić, Naš put: Nacrt za vjersko-prosvjetni rad omladine (Zagreb: Veliko Krizărsko Bratstvo, 1936), 6–11. As Živko Kustić remembers, “When I was fifteen, I already knew what revelation, dogma, and devout belief were, and what smelled like heresy. We knew all about the persecutions of Christians in Spain, Mexico, Russia; we knew who Hitler and Stalin were, we knew that Nazism, Fascism and Bolshevism were dangerous, negative phenomena.” Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 212.

46 Stj. Tomislav Poglajen D. I., “Na krizărsku vojnu protiv boljševičkog bezboštva,” Križ 1 ( January 1931): 12.

47 Felicinović, Naš put, 18–20. Also, “The Crusader has to wear his badge publicly on his chest, because he is sent out to defend God, the church, his nation and society. The Crusader has to be an apostle in the family, in the school, in the workshop, in the field, in the office, in the military barracks, in the parish, so that Christ’s spirit is felt everywhere. At all times and in all places, Crusaders have to be apostles and soldiers of Christ the King.” Ibid., 82.

48 Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 219–22.

49 A “resolution on fashion and dance” was passed in 1926 by the Union of Croat (Female) Eagles, under the influence of Ivan Merz. Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 35. Archbishop Stepinac later regularly devoted circular letters to issues such as dancing and bathing. For all aspects of desirable behavior, including standpoints on fashion, entertainment, the separate upbringing of boys and girls, and specific exercises for females, see Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 120–57.

50 Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 121.

51 “Our youth has to learn to openly profess the Catholic beliefs. Hence the collective holy communions, collective participation in processions or pilgrimage, advocacy of Catholic ideas, etc.” Felicinović Naš put, 98.

52 In May 1932 one such Eucharist celebration took place in Sarajevo. The program included a procession with 15,000 people, a brass band, a parade with torches and lamps (all in red, white, and blue, the colors of the Croat national flag), a serenade under the episcopal building, the singing of patriotic and religious songs such as “To the Croats,” “God and Croats,” and “We Want God,” an assembly in the National Theater, and a high mass. Josip Srebrnić, bishop of Krk, proclaimed the Eucharist congress in Sarajevo to be “the historical foundation for the future of Croat Herceg-Bosna” (i.e., Bosnia and Herzegovina). Križ 6 (June 1932): 9. The movement of Eucharist congresses originated in France in the 1880s. See Jedin, Velika povijest crkve, 248–49.

53 In 1930 he was accused of inciting religious hatred in his programmatic article in the first issue of the Crusaders’ periodical Križ, but the charges were dropped. In 1938 he was again on trial, accused of antistate activities, because in his speech at the Eucharistic congress in Bosanski Brod, on 22 August 1937, he allegedly called for an independent Croatian state. See Vladimir Cicak, Za istin: Nekoliko dokumenata povodom procesa vođenog protiv Dra Ive Protulipca (Zagreb, 1938).

54 In her book written in 1944, Marica Stanković openly discourages religiously mixed marriages. Stanković, Mladost vedrine, 166.

55 See “O stogodišnjici rođenja Ivana Protulipca. Prilog povijesti hrvatskog katoličkog pokreta,” Kolo, 2 (1999): 501–23. Protulipac (a lawyer) defended Maček in his trial at the Court for Protection of the State in 1933.

56 See Lav Znidarčić, “Organizirano djelovanje katoličkih svjetovnjaka na području Zagrebačke Nadbiskupije (1852–1994),” in Zagrebačka biskupija i Zagreb, 1094–1994 (Zagreb: Nadbiskupija zagrebačka, 1995), 386–437.

57 The Croat Hero promoted the building of a “new man in a new and better Croatia,” while its newspaper wrote sympathetically about militant organized youth in Italy, Germany, Slovakia and Japan. The program treated the youth as “the executor of national, social and cultural-revolutionary enterprises.” (For a comparison with Romania’s Legion of the Archangel Michael, see Constantin Iordachi’s chapter 1 in this volume.) Zdenka Lakić, “Prodor ideologije fašizma u redove omladine. Djelovanje ‘Hrvatskog junaka’ u razdoblju 1939–1941,” Marksistička misao 3 (1986): 74. Lakić traces continuity in the activities of some former Crusaders, who became activists in the Croat Hero and later joined the Ustasă movement. Ivo Protulipac was completely passive during the Second World War, but nonetheless in 1945 he fled the country with the Ustasă army and others. He was assassinated in Trieste in January 1946 by an agent of the Communist secret service.

58 A separate entity, Banovina Croatia was formed under the Sporazum of 1939 with the Belgrade government. In 1940 both the Yugoslav and Maček’s (Croatian) administration intensified persecution of Communist and other political opponents, adopting anti-Jewish legislation as well.

59 Just to name a few: the president of the Great Crusader Brotherhood, Felix Niedzielsky, joined the state administration (as podžupan) in Tuzla and Banjaluka, and in 1944 became a commander in the Ustasă Youth, a position until then held by Ivan Orsănić, also a former Eagle. Vlasta Arnold joined the Women’s Vine of the Ustasă movement and in 1943 became deputy commander. Kaja Pereković was active in the Women’s Ustasă Youth.

60 Lav Znidarčić, “Sjećanje živih svjedoka na Čedomila Čekadu,” in Marko Josipović and Mato Zorkić, ed., Život u sužbi riječi. Čedomil Čekada (Sarajevo: Vrhbosanska katolička teologija, 1997), 112.

61 Nagy, Hrvatsko krizărstvo, 213.

62 Žarko Brzić, Nasmijano lice. Tragom životnih putova prof. Marice Stanković (–Dakovački Selci: Župski ured, 1990), 102.

63 Brzić, Nasmijano lice, 55.

64 She wrote that only a few of the imprisoned (female) Crusaders were “politicians” (i.e., political activists). The majority were students and intellectuals, girls who idealistically joined the Ustasă Youth or out of charity helped outlaw Ustaše in the mountains. Marica Stanković, Godine teške i bolne (Zagreb: Glas koncila – Suradnice Krista Kralja, 2000), 40. See also Mara Čović, Sjećanje – svjedočenje: Zvuči kao prică a bila je istina! (Rijeka: Riječki nakladni zavod, 1996). It should be noted that those Ustaše who continued fighting after May 1945 appropriated the name of Crusaders but were not in any way related to this organization. Marica Stanković also founded the civic order, the Associates of Christ the King (Zajednica Suradnica Krista Kralja), which was an old wish of her spiritual teacher Ivan Merz, and devoted herself to this community after her return from prison. Brzić, Nasmijano lice, 32. She died in 1957. Lav Znidarčić, president of the Great Crusader Brotherhood from 1942, died in December 2001.

65 With a permanent identity crisis, as chapter 10 by Marko Bulatović in this volume demonstrates.

Table des illustrations

Légende Members of the Croat Catholic Eagles in Prelog, in the Croatian region of Medjumurje (1926)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2422/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 660k
Légende Public performance of female Eagles in Bosnia
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2422/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 457k
Légende Eagles training in Gornje Selo on the island of Šolta (1926)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2422/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 532k
Légende Crusaders’ Brotherhood in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2422/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 574k
Légende The first public performance of the Little Crusaders’ brass band in Dubrovnik (1939)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2422/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 546k

Auteur

Sandra Prlenda is a historian from Zagreb, affiliated with the Centre for Women’s Studies in Zagreb, where she works on nationalism and religion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

© Central European University Press, 2006

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540