Before continuing to read the text below, a few things need to be elaborated on. Background information that gives more insight. Firstly, mention must be made about the role of the Serbian Orthodox church in the 19th century, the times of the first actual appearance of it on Croatian soil, mainly around the 18th century after the Serb Migrations from Ottoman Turk controlled Serbia, as well as the older history of Orthodoxy in Croatia.
Although especially now, and for over a thousand years, because of history and the politico-cultural movements over the centuries, Croatia has been tied overwhelmingly to Western Europe and Roman Catholicism. However the fact remains that there was at times an Orthodox/Byzantine rite presence in the Croatian lands long before the appearance of Serbs. Croatia was for centuries a bulwark against Ottoman Turks encroaching onto the European continent, but even before that it was a Kingdom that was situated at times as the dividing line between Catholic Western Europe and the Byzantine East. There were even times when Croats in some areas belonged to the Byzantine Rite church,(or more precisely the Eastern/Greek Catholic churches, which was common even in Italy) During the early years of Croatian statehood in the 9th century to 11th century, Croatian kings and rulers made alliances and agreements with Rome, The Franks and even the Bulgarians as well as Constantinople/Byzantium whenever the need arose or proved to be advantageous to the Croatian Kings.
The Eparchy of Križevci later was a monumental example of catering to Greek Catholic rite Croats centuries later. (This was very unpopular with the newly arrived Serbs however. After the Ottoman defeat in the Battle of Sisak of 1593, the Habsburgs established an ecclesiastical jurisdiction in full communion with Rome and separate from the Serbian Orthodox Church, on 17 November 1735, the supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church occupied by force of arms the monastery of Marča and two years later, on 17 June 1737, set fire to it. The monastery was restored to the Byzantine-Rite Catholics in 1753 but many Orthodox Serbs opposed the new eparchy and viewed it with disdain) The Serbian orthodox leadership were proclaiming that they should be the only church to have authority and jurisdiction over any and all Orthodox or Byzantine-rite people. Some instances of Catholic churches being outright taken by Serbs have been documented.
So even well after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, a few pockets of these Eastern rite churches still existed. Through the following centuries, especially along the coastal areas during the "Age of Empires", some Byzantine rite churches sprang up in response to Orthodox people arriving......traveling merchants, soldiers and sailors from Russia and Greece, and to a lesser degree, from Ukraine and Romania in some areas. The late 18th century Orthodox church of St. Elias in Zadar being a prime example. (Which I also saw in person in 2011 and found out many of these and more interesting facts) These few and far between Orthodox churches were however for the most part just churches that catered to ALL of these Orthodox rite people in that area, including Croats. However, after the first noticeable appearance of Serbs arriving from Ottoman areas in the 18th century as mentioned, suddenly many of these churches started to become strictly Serbian Orthodox churches. People and communities who attended services there for years were suddenly forced to become Serbian orthodox or flee. Over time, much later, during the first Yugoslavia in the 20th century, the Serbian royal dictatorship even started the practice of building Serbian churches in Non-Serb lands where there wasn't even a population of Serbs or even of any Orthodox people to speak of, up to even building an arrant Serb church in the city of Ljubiljana. (All this is just some good background information to know) For more about the facts discussed this far see croatianmedievalhistory.blogspot.ca and strossmayeryugoslavia.blogspot.ca
Another example, and this information is omitted on Wikipedia for obvious reasons by you know who. The Zagreb Orthodox Cathedral is today considered a Serbian Orthodox cathedral, mainly because of politics over the past century and a half. What isn't mentioned is this. The church was originally the Catholic church of St. Margaret which belonged to the Zagreb diocese, and was mentioned even in 1334 as the parish church next to which „St. Margaret fairs“ were held. Later the church was added to the parish church of St. Mark and in 1794 it was sold to Greek Orthodox merchants who worked in Zagreb as merchants and bankers and were a beneficial people to be included into Croatian society, contributing in and promoting many spheres of Croatian culture. When the number of Greeks was reduced after a time, orthodox Serbs then started moving into the city, (again attempting to promote the idea to the Austro-Hungarian empire that they are the only orthodox people in the Croatian lands, and so then they started using the church as well. In a short time the remaining Greeks had to leave or were coerced into learning Serbian script and language and thus becoming Serbs. This was similarly done to other pockets of Orthodox or Greek Catholic parishioners) Due to it's age, the old church was demolished and on its place the present Cathedral of the Transfiguration of The Lord was built. Because of its history, the street behind the church is today called Margaretska, and the one going in front of the church is called Transfigurations. It was built in 1866 and was designed by a Croatian architect Franjo Klein. In 1883-1884, it was restored by an Austrian architect Hermann Bollé. That was when the historical iconostasis with icons were added to the church, made by painter Epaminondas Bučevski from Černovci in Bukovina. Bollé restored the church two more times, in 1899 when the new cap tower was put and in 1913/ 1914 when the front of the church was completely modified. During all this time the Serbian community totally usurped the church and vehememently considered it to be strictly Serbian.
....Does this Orthodox/Greek Catholic presence bother me? Not at all. Why should it? Croatia will never be an Orthodox country or people because Croatia's historical course, cultural ties and direction were for the most part set in stone well over a thousand years ago. However, if a segment wants to use a Byzantine/Greek rite these days, all the power to them. They will still be Croatian in Croatian lands. These days you can find Croatian Pagans, atheists, secular humanists, polytheists, Jewish, Lutheran and other denominations, maybe not many but they are there. In Croatia you can even find followers of other religions, even followers of Hare Krishna , Church of Scientology and other groups/new age movements. (Although I'm concerned especially with Jehova Witnesses, Mormons and American Televangelist types making a presence in Croatia, or other types of cults that just want your money and mind) I guess my main point is that if there is a need or desire for a formation of a Croatian Orthodox Church on Croatian soil these days, by Croats who want to use the Greek rite, then so be it. As mentioned, there was already a Byzantine rite Croatian presence in some places back during the formation of the earliest Croat realms, principalities, dukedoms and kingdom., just like in some other Slavic nations. Who am I to say they can't, mustn't and are forbidden too?...Let alone some religious body or organization from another country tell them they can't
|(If you find this piece interesting, you may also like to find out more related information at strossmayeryugoslavia.blogspot.ca regarding the origins of the word/concept of "Yugoslavia" and what exactly the meaning and ideas behind it were. Also, croatianmedievalhistory.blogspot.ca would be of interest to people who would like to know more about Croatia's very early history, from even before we arrived to the Adriatic, which I only touched upon here. *There's a cool documentary video series there too..swords, chainmail armor, battles, intrigue, special effects..all that*)|
Since the beginning of the Christian era, the Greek Orthodox religion has spread into Croatia due to the periodic settlement of various ethnic groups. Orthodox Christians gradually assimilated into Croatian society over the millennia and together with Catholic Croats they formed an integral part of the 19th and 20th century Croatian national struggle. Until the end of WWII a Croatian Orthodox church existed. These facts have been deliberately censored from history, with fatal consequences. These Orthodox people, or 'Pravoslavac' (as they are colloquially known) should have their own Orthodox church in Croatia, but their human rights are denied by the EU's pro-Serbian tradition.
Visible signs appear everywhere that Serbian nationalism is being presented as multiculturalism. For example, in Bosnia and Hercegovina a new statue of 'Multicultural Man' stands in stark contrast to the backdrop of a segregated country where Serbia rules over 49% of the territory. And in Lika, Croatia, a new statue of Nikola Tesla and Tesla multimedia museum are used by Serbia to justify their propaganda and control over all Orthodox people in Croatia. Less than one quarter of the 4.5% Orthodox Christians in the 2001 Croatian census are of Serbian ancestry but all of those ethnic groups are included in Serbian propaganda numbers to justify Serbian territorial expansion in Croatia.
Anatomy of Identity Theft
The identity of the Orthodox people in Croatia has been stolen by Serbia. The Serbian propaganda claims to ethnicity in Croatia are so ridiculous that doubt overshadows credibility. One Serbian website even claims that Serbs created the Croatian national movement in the 19th century, a movement which incidentally they criticize at the same time as having an anti-Serbian platform.
The 17th century migration of Serbian people led by their church Patriarchs into north-east Croatia (Vojvodina) occurred simultaneously with political changes there, following the Ottoman decline. This migration gradually led to Serbian political claims over a wide geographical area of Croatia. By 1848 the Serbian Patriarchate of Srijemski Karlovci was established in Habsburg-occupied Croatian lands.
Meanwhile, in 1879 the Serbian Orthodox Church in Serbia regained its autocephaly and in 1882 the Kingdom of Serbia was recognized. Thus, by 1883 in Croatia, the first Serbian Orthodox schools appeared, and the Serbian flag was being used in their orthodox churches there. The ethnic status quo in 19th century Hapsburg-occupied Croatia therefore began to change when the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate was given the opportunity to take over existing Greek Orthodox churches.
By the end of the 19th century most former Greek Orthodox Churches in Croatia were taken over by Serbian priests, and Serbia in this way began to claim all Orthodox people as Serbian constituent people in Croatia. The choice that emerged was to be either Serbian Orthodox or Catholic Croatian under Austrian/Italian or Hungarian administration.
Following the union of Serbia with the state of Serbs Croats and Slovenes, the Serbian Patriarchate of Srijemski Karlovci was shifted to Belgrade in 1920. By 1931 and the creation of the Serbian dictatorship, the constitution and reorganisation of the Serbian Orthodox church was finalized. From this time all Orthodox peoples of the whole of Yugoslavia, including Croatia, became classified officially as of Serbian ancestry no matter what their ethnic background.
During WWII a Croatian Orthodox church accommodated the orthodox minorities in Croatia. But after WWII the Croatian Orthodox hierarchy (under Metropolitan Germogen) was executed by orders from Belgrade, and their cathedrals became officially Serbian-a fact little mentioned in history books. In communist Yugoslavia a nationalist Serbian hegemony was threatened by the existence of the extant Eastern Orthodox Church in Croatia, even though the Greek Orthodox faith there preceded Serbian Orthodoxy. In contrast, the situation with the Catholic church in the former Yugoslavia was more tolerant. A Vatican protocol restricted the church activities, and thus even Cardinal Stepinac was spared an execution following his trial. (Up to 500 Franciscans and Catholic Priests were murdered however by Serbian-led communists after WWII.)
First Apostles in Croatia
In the context of Croatian history we can say that at the time of St. Paul's second imprisonment in Rome, he sent his disciple Titus to Solin or Salona on the Dalmatian coast, where he founded the first Christian See there in AD 65. (see Timothy 2, 4:10) St. Paul had himself travelled and preached as far as Illyricum, today's Croatia, during his third missionary journey between AD 53 and 57. (see Romans 15:19) 10 In addition, many early settlements in Croatia came under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.
Orthodox Vlachs in Croatia
It is said that the Ottomans brought with them nomadic Vlachs (Morlacchi or Wallachs, etc.) to settle land depopulated by either the plague or those who had fled or died during the Ottoman invasion. The majority of these Vlachs of the Orthodox faith were mostly assimilated into Croatian civilization by the 18th century, between Istria and Dubrovnik, and throughout the Lika, Dalmatia and other parts of Croatia. Often these Orthodox settlers along the Adriatic coast had been deliberately forced to inland Croatia by Venice and its Allies, during and after the Ottoman retreat (for example, the Uskoks of Senj)
If these Vlachs had been of Serbian ancestry as claimed, why is it that the land where they originated from was known as 'Turkish Croatia'? In addition, if these migrating Vlachs had been exclusively of mixed Serbian ancestry as claimed by their propagandists it is unlikely that they would have been at the centre of the enlightenment debate. After all, the Vlachs were the virtuous so-called 'noble savages' romanticized by Rousseau. In conflict with Rousseau, Voltaire cited the 'Morlaque' of Dalmatia as an example of people who had a lowly place in the development of enlightened civilization.
In one of many sources which allude to the true ethnicity of the original Orthodox in Croatia, Larry Wolff (in Venice and the Slavs) writes that "The heterogeneous Orthodox society of Zadar included Greek and Russian soldiers and Sarajevo merchants ... and (others) from Corfu and Crete. The Venetians were concerned to reduce foreign influence on Orthodox Dalmatians, including the Morlacchi".
The presence of Vlachs is established in history, philosophy, novels, decrees or statutes, and place names on genuine original maps. 12 Place names such as Latinski Islam or Grcki Islam or the Vlasko More, as well the existence of former Greek or Eastern rite churches in Croatia testify to the existence and identity of the Vlachs and other Orthodox people in Croatia. Vlachs spoke an old vulgar Latin language and used the Latin script and this is no doubt why only five per cent of Misha Glenny's so-called-Krajina Serbs understood the Cyrillic script, something Glenny incorrectly attributed to an alleged Croatian government policy instead of to their non-Serbian ancestry.
Orthodox Stradioti in Croatia
The Stradioti were brought-in by the Venetians from occupied Greece to fight land battles in occupied Croatia. For half a millennium the Stradioti were behind the establishment of the Eastern Greek Orthodox communities in Venetian occupied Croatia. Their existence has been documented in Venetian archives and by many other European contemporaneous sources. Not only did the borders of Venetian occupation change frequently but forced migrations of these Orthodox communities also occurred, leading to new settlements in inland Croatia.
And there were other Orthodox in Croatia including Croats, Czechs, Greeks, Macedonians, Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, etc. All along the Adriatic coast, and inland, Greek Orthodox churches were built to serve the various Orthodox settlers, many becoming Uniate churches later.
Other evidence of the existence of the Croatian Orthodox people is available. In Zagreb the church known as St. Margaret was first a Greek Orthodox church. St. Margaret was first a Greek Orthodox church and later taken over by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Today's church of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolis of Zagreb-Ljubljana on Preobrazenska Street Zagreb was originally the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Preobrazenja on Petar Preradovic Square, built in 1866 on the site of a former Catholic church.
Likewise in Sarajevo or Zadar or Lika, the churches now called Serbian Orthodox were originally known as Greek Orthodox churches which had been built or converted to accommodate the Eastern Orthodox faith to the various settlers therein. In Sarajevo what is now a Serbian Saborna Church was once a Greek Orthodox church, was built in 1882 on site of Freedom Square (formerly Tomislav Square).
The Orthodox church of St. Ilijha in Zadar (St. Elias) once served the Greek Orthodox community there and not the Serbs. St. Ilija's Church (St. Elias) church built in 1773 in place of a medieval church (1563) of the same name once served the Greek Orthodox congregation of soldiers, merchants or sailors etc. who had settled there. St. Ilijah only came under the Serbian Dalmatian Eparchy at the end of the 19th century. According to the above-mentioned author Wolff, Obradovic, a visiting Serbian-born pioneer of Serbian nationalism in Croatia, was preaching in Zadar in 1771 to the "Schismatic" Orthodox community, but was denied settlement in Skradin because Venetian authorities did not want a 'foreign' influence on the Orthodox Dalmatians and Morlacchi. If the Orthodox settlements there had been Serbian then how would the situation arise that a visiting Serbian priest would be called a 'foreigner' by the Venetian authorities? If the so-called slavicized Orthodox were under "foreign" threat from a visiting Serb, it is not likely that they were at that point in time of mixed Serbian origin. In 1876 in Skradin itself a new church replaced the original Greek Orthodox church which at some point was taken over by Serbian priests
This take-over pattern was repeated in many settlements throughout Dalmatia and Croatia and is part of the oral history of the local inhabitants, and to speak of it in public under the former communist Yugoslav regime or in Royalist Yugoslavia would have meant instant arrest or death. Today it appears that pro-Serbian EU policy has taken over the role of the former Yugoslav government with an agenda of anti-Croatian conditions.
According to the book about the life of Pavlinovic, a 19th century Croatian priest, on the topic of the Orthodox faith in Croatia, the Orthodox peoples of Croatia were not Serbian. According to Pavlinovic the Orthodox in Croatia were members of the old Croatian Greek Orthodox church from the early middle ages, for example, Vlachs or Romanians, Greeks, and other merchants who had assimilated into Croatian society under the Habsburg dynasty. 14 These Vlachs had been recognized as such in Venetian and Habsburg statues since the 17th century.
To sum up, the Orthodox Minorities in Croatia include:
- descendants of original inhabitants of Pannonia or Dalmatia,
- the first Croatian settlers,xdescendants of Croatian Catholics who willingly or forcibly were converted to Orthodoxy
- descendants of Orthodox Vlahs (introduced by Ottomans into Croatia)
- descendants of Orthodox Straddiotti (merchants originating from Turkish occupied Greece under Venetian era),
- other descendants of, Czech, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Macedonian, Ukrainian or other Eastern European immigrants, and among this latter group Serbs are only one ethnic group who came.
Nikola Tesla's Anniversary
On the occasion of the Tesla anniversary in July 2006 the American Ambassador Robert Bradtke visited Tesla's birthplace, Smiljan, north of Gospic in Lika Croatia with the Croatian and Serbian leadership. Mr Bradtke's message about the Tesla anniversary had a diplomatic tone, as he recalled a message from President Bush to President Mesic that "Nikola Tesla is proof that real greatness surpasses national borders and differences".
Elsewhere around Croatia the 150th anniversary of Nikola Tesla's birth has been marketed as evidence of some sort of mythical rapprochement between Serbs and Croats, or as a unifying force in the Balkans. 15 The Year 2006 was proclaimed 'Nikola Tesla Year' by the Croatian government and by UNESCO and the Serbian government.
Around the world However, in contrast to assimilation in America, when there is reference to the Orthodox people in Croatia, the assimilation argument is missing, referring instead to an alleged several hundred years of Serbian settlement in Croatia, without documentation.
The Washington Times headline claims "Tesla's Memory a healing force" (16 July 06). On the Institute for War & Peace Reporting website, D. Hedl claims "Inventor's Memory Brings Croats and Serbs together" (20 July 06). The Setimes website claims "Croats, Serbs put aside differences to honour Tesla" (13 July 06). And the Tesla Memorial Society of New York claim on their website that "Nikola Tesla is a unifying force for peace in the Balkans"; and that the "Proclamation of Nikola Tesla Day through United Nations will increase the brotherhood and peace in the Balkans and throughout the world"! On the Western Australian Science website Serbs celebrate the "Serbian-American" who lit up the world (14 June 06). The Canadian Serbian community celebrated Tesla's anniversary at Niagara Falls calling Tesla "the greatest son of the Serb nation". And the Archive of the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade has been named by UNESCO as "Memory of the World". (Tesla Society website) And in the UK David Bowie is to star in a new film about Tesla entitled "The Prestige".
Nikola Tesla's Ancestry
Talk about Tesla's ancestry was different during his lifetime however, for example when a different American Consul visited Gospic, as told in the chapter, 'A Night in Lika' in a book by Dorothea Orr in 1936. 16 The US Ambassador had visited decades ago in the early 1930s not long after Tesla had appeared on the front of Time Magazine (Vol XV III No. 3, 1931 20 July). On that occasion in Gospic the US Ambassador didn't see any reason to mention Tesla even though the centralist Serbian dictatorship ruled over Croatia! Even in America, during Tesla's lifetime little interest appeared in his ethnicity. Any major public association with Serbian identity seems to have taken place after Tesla's death for political gain.
Tesla's anniversary was not the first time a large gathering was attracted in his name. In January 1943 Serbia or Royalist Yugoslavia was an important WWII western ally, and Tesla's funeral was obviously a convenient platform to express this alliance. Tesla's funeral was a large 'Yugoslav' event in New York. And, at his eulogy the famous Mayor of New York City, LaGuardia, born to Italian and Hungarian Jewish parents from Trieste, described Tesla as the son of a Greek clergyman who had been born in Austria-Hungary and graduated from school in Croatia! He would have chosen his words carefully. LaGuardia had also worked in the US Consulate in Trieste before working at Ellis Island as a translator, eventually rising to the rank of major on the Italian Austrian WWI frontline, then becoming director general for UNRRA in 1946.
Tesla's father, whose real family name was Draganic had been ordained at what had originally been a Greek Orthodox Church, not a Serbian Orthodox church. If there was any portion of Serbian ethnicity in the Draganic or maternal Mandic line it would have originated several hundred years before his ancestors arrival in Hercegovina. Tesla did not attend a Serbian school because none existed at the time in Croatia. Some of the Orthodox churches throughout Dalmatia and Lika we see today were not there when Nikola Tesla was born. The 18th century church of St. Peter & St. Paul (where Nikola Tesla's father was a priest) was renovated several times, but for some unexplained reason it appears that after WWII its façade was changed from the original architectural style to an earlier pilaster style.
St. Peter & Paul Church, Smiljan, Lika Croatia Before WWII
St. Peter & Paul Church, Smiljan, Lika Croatia After WWII
How long does a person's family have to reside in a place before they identify with its culture? In America it takes about 2 generations, or less. Even prominent American ethnic groups today are worried about the rapid assimilation rate in spite of multiculturalism. However, in contrast to alleged assimilation in America, when there is reference to the Orthodox people in Croatia, the assimilation argument is missing, referring instead to an alleged several hundred years of Serbian settlement in Croatia, without documentation.
In spite of all this however, even Tesla identified himself as a Croat on his arrival at the Castle Garden Immigration office in Manhattan in 1884, even though the Croatian region of his birth was administered from Austria and not directly from Croatia at the time Tesla was living there. In other words, Tesla did not have to say he was from Croatia, and could have said he was from Austria, so he freely made his choice. In any case, Tesla was not the type of individual to overly concern himself emotionally with other people, politics or national fanfare, as it has been acknowledged today that he displayed classic autistic-savant characteristics (similar to well-known Temple Grandin).
The pro-Yugoslav sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, of Croatian birth, had created monuments to honour Tesla as a 'Yugoslav', not as a 'Serb', in America and Belgrade.
And there are other reasons to question the ethnic origin of Nikola Tesla. Tesla's ashes had not been held at an American Serbian church grounds, nor was there ever a bust of Tesla by the Serbian church where Mihajlo Pupin's monument can be found. In addition, if Tesla had really been Serbian, would it not be the case that the Serbian-born scientist and Serbian activist (and one-time Serbian Ambassador in US) M. Pupin in America would have come to his aid in 1911 (Serbia was a recognized nation at that time) when Tesla had a mental breakdown due to the lack of funding for his Wardenclyffe project on Long Island.
Indeed, one website which highlights how Tesla has been virtually erased from American history attributes this to the fact that Tesla did not have large segments of the general public complaining on his behalf. It would appear obvious that until recently Tesla has been almost ignored by Serbia, an observation which is surprising when one considers the might of the former Yugoslav or Serbian lobby in America!
Only after his death did Tesla become more important to Belgrade. The main source of claims to Tesla's Serbian ancestry seem to have originated from Sava N. Kosanovic, a member of the Yugoslav Mission to the USA in New York during WWII. Tesla's sister had married a Serb, and Sava Kosanovic was their son suggesting perhaps that Tesla's association with Serbian ethnicity occurred indirectly through marriage of his relatives, and not through his ancestors.
Nikola Tesla's passport from 25th November 1883. Note in the top left and center the official passport declaration of the government authority and coat of arms of the Croatian Triune Kingdom
At his eulogy the famous Mayor of New York City, LaGuardia, born to Italian and Hungarian Jewish parents from Trieste, described Tesla as the son of a Greek clergyman who had been born in Austria-Hungary and graduated from school in Croatia! He would have chosen his words carefully. ... Tesla's father, whose real family name was Draganic had been ordained at what had originally been a Greek Orthodox Church, not a Serbian Orthodox church, , even Tesla identified himself as a Croat on his arrival at the Castle Garden Immigration office in Manhattan in 1884, even though the Croatian lands of his birth was administered from Austria and not directly from Croatia at the time Tesla was living there. When one includes the hush-hush little known fact that Tesla received no monetary assistance or support from the Belgrade government or especially from any of the various American-Serb organizations, especially in his later years, claims after his death appear contradictory. It seems that seeing Tesla as strictly a Serb is a later construct, a product of Serbian nationalist propaganda. ( Example: In 1924 Tesla left the Hotel St. Regis in New York owing a debt of over $3,000. After having moved out over six months earlier and never making an effort to resolve the debt, Tesla was sued for the balance. Shortly afterward, a sheriff's deputy was sent to Tesla's office at 8W 40th St. to seize furnishings in order to satisfy the debt. Tesla managed to persuade the officer to grant him an extension. Soon after he meets Ivan Meštrović in New York, an internationally renowned Croatian sculptor. They became good friends and admirers of each other and later exchanged numerous letters. In the years just prior to his death, even though Tesla did not have any funds, he specifically asked Meštrović make a bust of himself and that it not be sent to Serbia, but rather displayed in Croatia after his death. The Tesla statue was made by Meštrović after his death and currently resides at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb)
The Politics of Reconciliation
The expression of one's ethnic or religious identity is a basic human right enshrined by the United Nations Charter. It is questionable whether or not the new EU history project in the Balkans will be able to accommodate those human rights in Croatia however.
"Reconciliation through education" is the motto adopted by the Stability Pact in its new Balkan 'History Workbook' project. This project is being developed by the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation which will present history from a multi-perspective approach, allegedly to eradicate ethnocentrism. The EU's Stability Pact will be called the Regional Cooperation Council in the future and that name change indicates that the next phase of their agenda in the former Yugoslavia is being launched, namely 'conflict resolution'. Conflict Resolution doctrine theorizes that the conflict management process can be thought of as a continuum from total destruction of the other to complete integration with the other". This doctrine artificially imposes reconciliation between former adversaries by building upon the coexistence which was in place before the conflict began in a process of "Peace Learning". It would seem that the EU "Reconciliation through Education" advocates are experimenting with the "Peace Learning" theory.
The disturbing part of this process is that its foundation rests on 'what existed before'. Thus, in place of the former Yugoslavia, we have advocates of an artificial Western Balkan state, with the unstable foundation of the alleged previous peace of the 'negotiated social order'.
The problem is that the previous 'social order' in the former Yugoslavia translated into Serbian-led control of the workplace, education, Orthodox religion, government and military. Foreigners who were shocked at the Serbian bombing of Sarajevo had believed that a successful coexistence existed there before because of the state-manufactured illusion conjured up for the Winter Olympics.
Unfortunately there is no foundation of justice and human rights to build on from the former Yugoslav state. From the perspective of Croatian families who have been subjected to genocide under the former Yugoslavia, their sacrifice for freedom will now be reinterpreted again, this time in schools. The Croatian leaders should ask why their former masters get to alter the new EU history workbooks before they do. From past experience Croats know that this alternative 'multi-perspective' history will serve Serbian nationalism in Croatia, and never reconciliation, because there is no evidence that Serbian nationalism has moderated.
The reason for the Serbian ascendancy in Croatia is more complex than mere irredentism. An east-west struggle between superpowers lurks behind the scenes. Croatia, like Greece, has contributed more to western civilization than eastern, but the conversion from Greek Orthodoxy to Serbian Orthodoxy in Croatian territory took Croatia away from western development.
In this essay I have given evidence to show that Croatian society has always been heterogeneous. And, I have shown that the Orthodox believers in Croatia have worshipped in their own Greek Orthodox churches during the past two thousand years. I have also discussed how those Greek Orthodox Churches in Croatia were taken over by the Serbian Patriarchate during Hungarian/Austrian occupation and the former Yugoslavia.
For centuries the Orthodox people in Croatia have been used as 'cannon fodder' and vassals, but not always by the East, as under the Ottomans and the Austro/Hungarian empire. The Venetians also used the Orthodox settlers to fight for their interests against the East. Under the Serbian-led former Yugoslavia however Croatia was taken again into the eastern bloc.
Even today the Serbian minority in Croatia wants to use all the Orthodox numbers for their 'greater-Serbia' ambitions. In 1991 Serbs in Croatia may have failed in their attempt to link territory to the issue of minority rights but in the 21st century there is evidence that their goals have not yet changed. For example around the world Serbian publicity about the 150th anniversary of Nikola Tesla reveals the emphasis placed on his alleged Serbian ancestry, even though contradictory evidence exists and his ancestors had lived in Croatian territory for centuries. Indeed, nowhere has it ever been written that Tesla's ancestry reaches back to 'Serbia' per se. Actually, the claims go only back to his origins in 'Herzegovina', where the absurd Serbian claim that all Vlachs there were of Serbian ancestry is without foundation.
It would seem that some in the European Union want to 'contain' Croatia, and to do this they are bowing to Serbian intransigence in Croatia and in Bosnia & Herzegovina. This pro-Serbian sentiment in the EU illustrates how an east-west struggle still exists there, one reason why the European Union still has no constitution or unified foreign policy.
An atmosphere of greater religious freedom and equality in Croatia would go a long way towards reconciliation. For example, much confusion exists in Catholic sources about 19th century Croatian history. Conflicting information, with missing dates and incorrect sequencing of events, creates a maze which allows Serbian propaganda to continue unchallenged. It's as if the Nikola Tesla Museum complex is the reincarnation of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The following question needs to be answered. Why is lobbying for the creation of a Croatian Orthodox Church not 'politically correct' - after all, if Montenegro and Macedonia can have an Orthodox Church, why not Croatia? The metamorphosis of Croatian Orthodoxy under Serbian leadership for the past century has been the source of destabilization, and until the issue is resolved no reconciliation will occur at a grass roots level. Will the EU's alternative perspective 'history workbooks' reflect the will of the Croatian people? Perhaps only Croatian membership in NATO can create an east-west balance of power in Croatia. One thing is for certain, politically correct manipulation of history will not lead to reconciliation.
Seizure of Croatian Orthodox Churches
At the end of WWII the Metropolitan Germogen and 42 priests of the Croatian Orthodox Church were executed under the Yugoslav communist regime by those who Obrknezevic described as "Great Serbian chauvinists" ... "a communist system was biased to such an extent regarding the existence of the Croatian Orthodox Church that it took a standpoint of militant intervention for the exclusiveness of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as the only Orthodox Church..." In the 21st century, as in the 19th and 20th century Serbia uses the Croatian parliament and the Serbian Orthodox church as a platform for their irredentist policies.
An atmosphere of greater religious freedom and equality in Croatia should be non-negotiable. Why is the creation of a Croatian Orthodox Church not 'politically correct' if every other nation in the world has its own national Orthodox church.
researched by Jean Lunt Marinovic