19:35 / 16.06.2021.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Two-day expert forum held to mark 50 year anniversary of the Croatian Spring

Matica Hrvatska

Matica Hrvatska

Foto: Sanjin Strukic / PIXSELL

2021 marks 50 years since the end of the Croatia Spring, a national reform movement striving to protect Croatia’s national identity, language and culture.

The Croatian Spring started in March of 1967, and lasted a full four years, eight months and two weeks, until December of 1971. The movement was led by the reformist faction of the League of Croatian Communists, Croatia's oldest national institution - Matica Hrvatska, and the Croatian Student Federation. Among the notable participants were Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Miko Tripalo, Pero Pirker, Dragutin Haramija, Petar Šegedin, Vlado Gotovac, Šime Đodan, Marko Veselica, Dražen Budiša, Ante Paradžik, Ivan Zvonimir Čičak and Franjo Tuđman, who would go on to lead Croatia to independence in the 1990’s and become the first Croatian President.

The uprising against the Yugoslav Communist authority was brought about in part due to the level of financial contribution Croatia was being forced to pay into the federal budget, but also due to the cultural and demographic threat to the Croatian national identity, specifically efforts to eradicate the Croatian language and Croatian culture.

Participants in the Croatian Spring movement were calling for a greater decentralization of the Yugoslav federation and economic reforms, greater affirmation of Croatian language and culture. All of these sentiments were echoed in large part by the citizenry, and with Communist authorities in Belgrade unwilling to compromise, resulted in massive protests.

Ultimately however, the communist regime crushed the movement, resulting in the political persecution of thousands and the banning of Matica Hrvatska.

Marking 2021 as the 50th anniversary a two-day expert conference is being held in Zagreb. The Secretary General of Matica Hrvatska, Zorislav Lukić, explained his institution’s policy during the Croatian Spring: "Matica Hrvatska and its program can be summed up in a few slogans; Croatia as an independent country, the Croatian Army on Croatian territory, the Croatian language as the only official language in Croatia, and in the future Croatia as a member of some form of European community."

Historian Ivica Lučić noted that the movement’s roots can be traced back even further than March of 1967: "The Croatian Spring was a very long process, one could say that its flowers began blooming immediately after the Second World War, with resistance against the totalitarian regime. This never stopped, there were always people who fought and who were imprisoned for their ideas, for trying to preserve their identity and their language."

Source: HRT

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