KISZLING, Die Kroaten, Der Schicksalsweg eines Südslawenvolkes. Graz and
Köln: Hermann Böhlaus Nachf., 1956. VIII + 266 pp. illus.
justifies the publication of his work with two reasons: as an Austrian he is
extremely interested in the nation which suffered a terrible tragedy on the
Austrian soil at Bleiburg at the end of the World War II; he is grateful to the
friendly nation who shared bad and good with the Habsburg dynasty and fought
successfully for 350 years against the Turks. These ideas show in advance the
scope of the work. The author stresses political relations between the Croats
and the Habsburg dynasty and treats the Croats as a nation of the Western
civilization and culture. Also he is leaning toward a possible solution of the
Croatian problem in a Danubian Federation.
Croatian history is discussed particularly from the political point of view
with a strong emphasis on military and war problems. The study of cultural and
social developments serves the author only for a better understanding of
military and political questions. Of course, there is a great deal of material
for military studies concerning the region inhabited by the Croats. On the one
hand the Croatian territory had been a military crossroad throughout centuries;
on the other hand the Croats had shown very high military capabilities. The
author used the documents from the Vienna War Archives and many other published
the medieval Croatian history, the author produces many correct facts and
information, but there are also some theories which have been changed or
completely abandoned by modern historians. Probably the author had no
opportunity to study closely the medieval Croatian history. He, therefore,
accepted the results of the known Croatian historians, as for instance
iić, Pilar (Südland), and Hauptmann. The author deals mostly with the
north-western part of Croatia which was never occupied by the Turks. He does
not encompass the whole Croatian ethnical territory. He mentions Istria only
occasionally. His information concerning Syrmium is not always creditable.
Bosnia, he oscillates between the Croatian and the Serbian theses. Therefore,
the political and historical questions on the one side and the ethnical
elements on the other side are not treated equally.
Croatian relations to Hungary and to the Habsburg dynasty, the author shows
more sympathy to the latter. He speaks more of the Military Frontier organized
by the Habsburgs than of the civil Croatia under the bans. Furthermore, he
emphasizes more the Croato- Hungarian conflicts than the many centralization
and Germanization attempts of the Viennese court. Therefore, the reader is not
able to understand the oscillation of the Croats between Vienna and Budapest.
some false information, the political development of the Croats in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries is correctly explained taking into account
different tendencies: towards Austria, Hungary, and Serbia. The author also
deals with Croatian inclination toward Belgrade which made the creation of the
first Yugoslavia possible. In the discussion of World War I, the interest for
the military problems predominates. At this occasion the author praises the
Croatian high military commanders in the Austro-Hungarian army. The period from
1918 to 1941 is very well discussed so that the reader will be able to
understand the Serbo-Croatian conflict and the creation of the Independent
State of Croatia.
interesting and also the largest chapter is that which deals with the
Independent State of Croatia, 1941-1945. The modern period of the Croatian
history, particularly the period of World War II is almost unknown outside
Croatia. Neither during World War II nor after it, has the world opinion shown
enough interest in the Croatian question. A few books published about the
Croatian problem have been inspired by political propaganda, and for this
reason they are not credible. Therefore, Kiszling's work is very important for
the study of Croatian history during World War II. It is the first book
discussing the entire historical development of the Croats until 1945. Even in
Croatia there is no such a work. We do not have enough words to stress the
importance of Kiszling's book from this point of view. It is a pioneer work.
The author knows very well the problems and treats them objectively. He uses
many monographies published recently and also the manuscript of General
Glaise-Horstenau, who was the German military representative in Zagreb
follows a whirl of political and war events: the political background of the
creation of the Independent State of Croatia; the former German sympathy for
Yugoslavia; no German interest in Croatia, and later on German interest in
her because of the military necessities; Italian pressure and yielding of the
Croatian political leadership; military operations and methods of Ustaas,
Partisans, and Četniks; political intrigues and war devastations;
incapability of the Croatian political leadership; the series of reasons which
caused the catastrophe at Bleiburg; occupation of Yugoslavia by the Communists
and innumerable losses of lives.
is well instructed and sure in dealing with political and military problems.
However, he does not make a clear distinction between the original aspirations
of the Croatian people and wrong ways and methods applied by the Ustaa
government. Nevertheless, the author gave a good opinion concerning the
Croatian aspirations to establish their own sovereign state.
It is true
that the author sympathizes with the Croats, but his sympathy does not
influence his objectivity in dealing with the complicated Croatian problems. He
explains and shows all the positive capabilities and the negative inclinations
of Croatian people. In conclusion, the author expresses his hope that the
Croats will surpass and master all the difficulties due to their high qualities
such as courage, fidelity, and a strong will for survival.
of the book is concise, without unnecessary disgressions. The work is very
informative, with many data and historical details. It is illustrated with some
excellent portraits and maps.
recommend this outstanding work to those who can read German.