Croatian spring

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The Croatian Spring ( Croatian Hrvatsko proljeće ) was a political reform movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that demanded more rights and autonomy within Yugoslavia for the then Socialist Republic of Croatia . From political opponents he was referred to as maspok ( Serbo-Croatian masovni pokret for "mass movement").  



In the 1960s, the socialist Republic of Yugoslavia began to open up slowly and cautiously, especially on a cultural level .

One of the main political prerequisites for further liberalization was the dismissal of the secret service chief Aleksandar Ranković , who was considered a supporter of a centralized state, in June 1966 . In the mid-1960s , efforts initiated by the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia began to give the republics more powers. The explosive question arose about the future of the Yugoslav state and how it should be shaped.

In Croatia there was also a generation change at the head of the League of Communists of Croatia , whose main representatives ( Savka Dabčević-Kučar , Miko Tripalo and Pero Priker ) were supporters of liberal politics and focused on strengthening the position of Croatia within the Yugoslav state.

Events got under way in March 1967 when numerous Croatian writers and linguists such as B. Miroslav Krleža , and the Croatian PEN Club published a declaration on the name and status of the Croatian written language . From this declaration a Croatian national movement developed, which was initially mainly supported by intellectuals and supported by many student organizations. According to its name, this movement was a "mass movement" (masovni pokret), which sought to enforce the interests of the Socialist Republic of Croatia under national auspices and while largely maintaining socialist rhetoric .


In Yugoslavia, the policy of a common Yugoslav identity was pursued in the 1950s and 1960s.

At first the demands were directed against the Yugoslav "unitarianism" and the respect for Croatian tradition and independence. Later, issues such as the restoration of Croatian state independence were called for.

The main demands of the Croatian Spring included civil rights for Croatian citizens, in particular the right to their own Croatian nationality and the use of today's Croatian state flag.

In the Croatian spring calls for a decentralization of the economy were voiced, which would have allowed the republic to retain a larger share of the income from tourism , which flourished especially in the Adriatic coastal region . On average, more than 50% of the foreign currencies reached Yugoslavia through Croatia, of which only around 7% remained in the republic. An independent Croatian national bank would have enabled a more favorable distribution of the income for Croatia, but restricted the right to use the Yugoslav national bank. As a result, Croatia would have lost its rights to support from the Federal Fund for Underdeveloped Regions, of which the republic received 16.5% between 1965 and 1970 (in comparison: in the same period, 46.6% of the fund fell into the economically weakest region Province of Kosovo ). The monopolies of the Yugoslav Investment Bank and the Foreign Trade Bank , through which Belgrade regulated foreign investment and trade , were also questioned .

Further criticisms of the Yugoslav central government were the increasing emigration and emigration to the economically strong growth countries of Western Europe, against which the government did nothing, and the deportation of conscripts to other republics.

Reaction of the Yugoslav central government

In 1971 demonstrations were organized in which thousands of students in Zagreb publicly advocated their goals, in particular for greater independence of the Croatian state from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In November, Zagreb students under Dražen Budiša blocked the university and called for a general strike.

In the same year three Croatian linguists ( Stjepan Babić , Božidar Finka and Milan Moguš ) published a Croatian spelling under the title Hrvatski pravopis , which, however, was also banned and all copies burned. The reason for this was that a Croatian and not a Serbo-Croatian language (or Croatian-Serbian ) was deliberately represented. However, one copy made it to London , where the book was reprinted and published.

Even then, the Serbian national minority living in Croatia feared for their rights. All this made it easy for Tito, who could fully rely on his army, to finally eliminate the movement at a Croatian Central Committee meeting called on December 1, 1971 in Karadordevo, by supporting the movement in the Croatian party leadership with the support of Vladimir Bakarić forced to resign and brought their opponents to power.

Yugoslavia's head of state and party, Josip Broz Tito , whose policy under the motto “brotherhood and unity” aimed at the progressive integration of the various Yugoslav ethnic groups in the socialist federal state, told the leadership in Zagreb: “I am very angry [...]. Croatia is the key problem in our country in terms of the frenzy of nationalism. There is that in all republics, but it is the worst with you now. ”According to Tito, legitimate demands should very well be discussed, but not blackmailed through nationalist mobilizations.

Party leader Savka Dabčević-Kučar and other senior officials of the liberal Croatian Communist Party such as Miko Tripalo and Dragutin Haramija continued to support the national movement. Dabčević-Kučar had warned of increasing "foreign infiltration" as early as 1970 and claimed that "Croatia has become more of a home for Serbs and other nationalities than the Croatians themselves."

On Tito's intervention, the party leadership in Zagreb was dismissed in December 1971 and the suppression of the “mass movement” began. Vladimir Bakarić , Milka Planinc and other high-ranking representatives of the Communist Party of Croatia expelled numerous accused from the Communist student organization and the Communist Party. A total of 741 members, including numerous professors, were expelled from the party, and 411 lost their functions. Charges have been brought against protagonists of the Croatian national movement, such as the future President Franjo Tudjman and other members of the Zagreb cultural association Matica hrvatska .


In the course of the Croatian Spring, a new constitution was passed in 1974, which granted the individual republics additional rights of autonomy and thus fulfilled some of the essential demands of the 1971 demonstrations. One of the constitutional articles contained the right to secession for the individual constituent republics , an option that was used by most constituent republics in 1991. At the end of 1988, the Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia declared some amendments to be ineffective, as they believed that the term Croatian language put the Serbs in Croatia at a disadvantage in public life.

Several of the student leaders of the Croatian Spring later became influential politicians. Ivan Zvonimir-Čičak, for example, became the head of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights , Dražen Budiša became the chairman of the Croatian Social-Liberal Party and Savka Dabčević-Kučar , Miko Tripalo and Dragutin Haramija became founding members of the new Croatian People's Party .

Numerous leaders were arrested, ill-treated and sentenced by the then Yugoslav communist regime to years of imprisonment for verbal crimes.

Leading Croatian dissidents such as the later presidents Franjo Tuđman and Stipe Mesić , General Janko Bobetko , Vlado Gotovac , Marko Veselica , Vlatko Pavletić and Dražen Budiša were sentenced to long prison terms and a professional ban .

Zagreb - Split highway

During this short period of political emancipation , the construction of the A1 motorway from Zagreb to Rijeka and Split began. However, only the 50 km short section to Karlovac was completed , after which the construction project was discontinued on the orders of the Belgrade central government. This project was only realized 32 years later, in 2004. Today this north-south connection from Zagreb to Vrgorac (near Ploče ) is continuously passable. This motorway shortens the travel time on the approximately 400 km long route from Zagreb to Split from previously around six to four hours.


Individual evidence

  1. Hrvatsko proljeće , Croatian Encyclopedia,, accessed September 4, 2019
  2. Slobodna Dalmacija, Ravnopravnost zvana šovinizam, September 9, 2002 (Croatian)
  3. ^ Srećko Matko Džaja : The Political Reality of Yugoslavism (1918–1991): with special consideration of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Oldenbourg, Munich 2002. (= studies on contemporary science in Southeast Europe. 37). P. 134.
  4. a b Konrad Clewing, Oliver Jens Schmitt: History of Southeast Europe. Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2012, p. 620.
  5. ^ Srećko M. Džaja: The Political Reality of Yugoslavism (1918–1991): with special consideration Bosnia-Herzegovina. Oldenbourg, Munich 2002 (= studies on contemporary studies in Southeast Europe. 37). P. 136.
  6. Viktor Maier: The Titostaat in crisis: Yugoslavia after 1966. In Dunja Melcic (ed.): The war in Yugoslavia. Wiesbaden 2007, p. 203.
  7. ^ A b Marie-Janine Calic: History of Yugoslavia in the 20th century. Munich 2010, p. 253.
  8. ^ Marie-Janine Calic: History of Yugoslavia in the 20th century. Munich 2010, p. 252.