From My Memories of Meštrović




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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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In December 1948 I sent from Madrid an issue of Croatia Press[1] to Ivan Meštrović. The sculptor who had left Europe in January 1947,[2] was living at that time in Syracuse, New York, at 201 Marshall Street. I sent him the newsletter at the suggestion of friends who told me that Meštrović had seen some earlier issues and would be interested in receiving the bulletin regularly. A month later I received from Meštrović a handwritten letter in Croatian dated January 12, 1949, in which he said:


Thank you for your letter of December 17 as well as for your bulletin Croatia Press.


Your effort is useful and commendable. Carry it on as far as you can. Perhaps our people will be aroused, will come to their senses, and instead of sterile discussions and arguments, will start with something more positive. If that were to happen perhaps your bulletin would expand as Mr. Tijan[3] anticipates.


I wish you my best in the New Year, etc.



After that letter, I exchanged with Meštrović occasional brief communications of no special significance. When in 1952 I immigrated to the United States, and particularly after I visited him in Syracuse in June 1953, our contacts became more frequent.


When I visited him, Meštrović lived at 817 Livingston Avenue. It was an unpretentious but cozy home, which Meštrović's family had made a miniscule Croatian oasis in this provincial American city. I thought how strange it was that he had moved to Syracuse to live. After all, one would recall that in 1924-25 he had spent about nine months in the United States and had exhibitions in New York (Brooklyn Museum), Chicago, Detroit, and other cities; that his two equestrian statues of American Indians have been standing in Grant Park in Chicago since 1928; and that shortly after his arrival in 1947 the Metropolitan's Museum in New York honoured him with its only one-man show of a living artist, an event unprecedented in the museum's historu story.


If one were to compare his Syracuse home with his beautiful homes in Croatia, and the old barn converted into his studio with the studios he had left behind, then one could truly appreciate the sacrifice he made by deciding voluntarily to remain in exile. However, the greatest sacrifice for him was being separated from his people. But he did not complain. He got a place to work and was able to make a living, though modest by the standards he was used to. To him the most important thing of all was to have a place where he could work.


At the time of my visit, about two months before Meštrović's 70th birthday — I was 35 then — I found him vigorous, jovial, and in good spirits. The weekend I was there we spent fifteen hours together, with most of the talking done by him. It seemed he wanted to give me as much background information as possible about the numerous important events in which he had taken an active role. It was a fascinating story characterized by witty observation, occasional anecdote or spicy comment, and the philosophical reminiscences of a man who had an extraordinary gift of understanding the human condition with penetrating insight into both body and soul. It was obvious that he enjoyed enormously any opportunity to talk in his mother tongue with his compatriots, particularly if they shared similar interests and concerns for Croatia and faced in their own ways the problems of adjusting to life in America.


Meštrović told me that upon his arrival in the United States he had found that many Croatians active in cultural affairs were interested in establishing a committee, something like a Croatian National Commitee.[4] It was to be expected that in such a committee Meštrović would play a leading role. He was sympathetic to the idea, and he thought that the trial and sentencing of Aloysius Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb, in October 1946 and the general situation in Croatia and Yugoslavia provided strong arguments for the formation of the proposed committee.


Dr. Vladimir Maček, President of the Croatian Peasant Party between the two World Wars, who had also arrived in the United States in 1947, was overwhelmingly called to lead the committee. Without Maček no representative committee could be put together. Meštrović, who had always attempted to stay aloof from party politics and who therefore could serve as an arbiter among various political groups, was willing to serve on such a committee and give it his full support, as he had done for other causes in the past. While praising Maček for his extraordinary integrity, Meštrović was critical of what he called his lack of political drive. Interestingly enough, later during one of my first visits to Maček in Washington, he told me "Meštrović keeps saying that he is not interested in politics, but he is always involved in it".


The sculptor told me many details about efforts made by Yugoslav officials, including Tito himself, to induce him to return to Yugoslavia. His long-time friend Monsignor Svetozar Ritig, pastor of St. Mark's Church in Zagreb — one of the few Catholic priests who joined Tito's partisans during the war — wrote him long letters saying that Tito wanted him to return and that Meštrović was then needed more than ever, as Tito's regime was embarked "on doing something new never done before in history". This was followed by a public invitation Tito made through Jo Davidson,[5] an American sculptor who completed a bust of Tito.


Upon his return to the United States Davidson said to the press that Tito had told him: "Tell Meštrović not to be a fool. His studio in Split is intact. His sculptures are preserved. Tell him to return". Asked by the press for his reaction, Meštrović answered that the Yugoslav ambassador in Washington had conveyed to him similar messages on several occasion even suggesting he could go back for a visit incognito before making his final decision. Meštrović added that he had replied to the ambassador: "I will return incognito to Belgrade only when Tito leaves incognito for Moscow".[6]


Meeting with Djilas


Meštrović told me about his meeting with Milovan Djilas and asked me to keep it confidential. Djilas, who was at that time the most important man after Tito in the Yugoslav Communist Party and government, had arrived at New York in the fall of 1949 to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations. Sava Kosanović, the Yugoslav ambassador in Washington, informed Meštrović that Djilas had an important message for him and would like to meet him personally. At Kosanović's insistence Meštrović finally agreed to see him in New York City in mid-November. Meštrović was staying at the Henry Hudson Hotel.


As arranged, Djilas and Kosanović arrived in the hotel after parking their limousine in a nearby street. Meštrović suggested that instead of going somewhere by car, they all walk to a Greek restaurant not far from the hotel where the food was good and where they could talk. Djilas told him that Tito had been deeply offended by the sculptor's rebuke of his invitation made through Davidson, but since the Marshal deeply appreciated his art and believed Meštrović to be misinformed about the situation in Yugoslavia, he was inviting him again to come back.


Djilas added that Tito personally vouched that Meštrović would enjoy full freedom. There were no strings attached. No. one would ask him to make any statements which might be interpreted as political support of the Party or government; moreover he could even criticize them, if he chose to do so. The Yugoslav government would buy Meštrović monumental Pietŕ, which had been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum, for a substantial amount in U.S. dollars (a six-digit figure was mentioned). Furthermore, upon his return he would have at his disposal all of the means and services that would be his if he were a member of the Yugoslav government.


Everything would be placed at his disposal, because they believed him uniquely qualified to inspire and lead the artistic life of Yugoslavia. Djilas confessed to him that the artists in Yugoslavia had concentrated on the topics of the "people's war of liberation and socialist construction". No one had forced them to do so, Djilas said, but they chose that way, and now they were coming to repeat themselves in a stereotyped manner. "We want the arts to be liberated from these stereotyped forms. We want diversity and believe that there is no one who could give a more forceful and vigorous impetus to a new trend in that direction than you".


During their discussion, Meštrović told me, he questioned Djilas about the trial, sentencing, and treatment of Cardinal Stepinac. Djilas replied frankly: "To tell you the truth, I believe — and not only I — that Stepinac is a man of integrity, of unwavering character. He really was sentenced as a righteous man, but how many times has it happened in history that just men were sentenced because of political necessity".


To Meštrović's question "Who in your opinion has more followers in Croatia, Tito or Stepinac?" Djilas replied: "This is a difficult question, but I will answer it honestly. We have in Croatia no more than 3%, and in Yugoslavia as a whole no more than 5%. But that does not matter, because Christianity also began with a small number of followers".


Meštrović made it quite clear to Djilas and Kosanović that he would be very uncomfortable as the only non-Communist enjoying complete freedom, including the right to criticize the Communist regime without incurring the risk of punishment, while some of his friends had lost their lives and others were languishing in prison. Though it was obvious that Meštrović was not going to accept Tito's invitation, Djilas insisted that the sculptor give him a reply to Tito's message.


"If this must be done", Meštrović said to Djilas, "you will find my reply in the following story. I hope it will not bother you that this is a story about Heaven. There was a man observing Saint Peter opening a small window, giving a quick look, and closing it firmly. Curious, the man asked about that window, and Saint Peter told him that it was a window with a view to Hell. The man asked if he could take a look. Saint Peter told him that this was dangerous, and he advised him not to do it, but the man persisted and Saint Peter finally acquiesced.


When the man looked through the window, he was fascinated with the spectacle he saw: there were half-naked young girls dancing, there were tables loaded with the best food and drink, orgies and frolics were in progress. Seeing that, the man insisted that he wanted to go to Hell. "Are you so foolish?" Saint Peter asked him. But despite the repeated warnings "Don't forget; once you go there there is no return for you", the man insisted, and Saint Peter finally let him go. At the very moment the man entered Hell, the scene changed completely. He found himself surrounded with toothless old women and black devils grinning maliciously. The man, dumb-founded, asked: "What happened? Where are those girls, the wine, the food?" "That was only propaganda", answered one of the devils, and all Hell burst into laughter. This story is my reply", said Meštrović to Djilas. "Did you understand it?" "Yes", Djilas answered dryly.


In the article I wrote about my conversation with Meštrović, published in the September 1953 issue of Hrvatska revija,[7] I naturally did not mention Meštrović's meeting with Djilas, and I limited myself to stating generally that Tito sent messages and emissaries in an attempt to convince Meštrović to return, counting on the sculptor's homesickness. I know that Meštrović told to other people the story of his meeting with Djilas, under the condition that they keep it confidential, and they did. When in January 1954 Djilas was stripped of all party and government positions at the dramatic meeting of the Central Committee in Belgrade, I obtained from Meštrović a lengthy interview, which I published in the February 1954 issue of Croatia Press.[8]


There Meštrović for the first time publicly stated that he had met and talked to Djilas on one occasion, but he gave no details, saying only: "As far as I could ascertain from that meeting and discussion with him, he is a convinced and zealous Communist, but he is against the socalled Moscow Stalinist implementation of Communism. He is an intellectual and an idealist, and there may be a certain number of those like him among our Communists; in addition he is a Montenegrin individualist". Not until three years later did Meštrović publish in Hrvatska revija a detailed account of his discussion with Djilas, and even then it was about only that part which dealt with the innocence of Cardinal Stepinac.[9] Meštrović's version of his talks with Djilas and Kosanović, as he told it to me in June 1953, was for the first time reported in my Croatian language memoirs of Meštrović published in Hrvatska revija in 1962.[10]


Later, after Djilas got in more trouble with the Party and government and was sentenced to prison, I talked about his case with Meštrović on several occasions. We agreed it was ironic that Djilas' former party comrades justified his imprisonment by "political necessity" in the same way that Djilas explained the imprisonment of Cardinal Stepinac.


Another topic we discussed that June weekend was the deteriorating health of Cardinal Stepinac, who suffered from a rare blood disease. Meštrović told me of several things he had done already and others he planned to do. He had asked Cardinal Spellman as well as some other prominent American Catholics to intervene with the U.S. Government to make it possible for some specialists to examine the Cardinal, advise about his treatment, and provide necessary medications. He told me that he had also sent a direct appeal to Tito expressing his hopes that Tito would have enough respect for the character and courage of the Cardinal, despite the fact that they were ideological adversaries, to make it possible for Stepinac to get proper medical care. This appeal was answered almost immediately, stating that three physicians were offered, but that Stepinac had refused them. Meštrović had his doubts and said he would continue to push the Yugoslav authorities to allow Stepinac to be examined by physicians of his choice or by American specialists.


Present and Past, New Sculptures


During our conversations Meštrović reached as far back as World War I to explain some historical events in which he took part, providing fascinating details, anecdotes, or a view from his current perspective. From his words one could sense how much idealism had guided him, Ante Trumbić, Frano Supilo, and other Croatians who during World War I had formed the "Yugoslav Committee" in London, working toward the goal of establishing Yugoslavia, a country that would comprise Southern Slavs, including Croatians, Serbians, Slovenes, and others. They conceived and visualized the country in a quite different form than it has turned out. No one likes to acknowledge that the ideals and hopes in which he had invested so much of his youthful enthusiasm have betrayed him, but Meštrović did that without vacillation. "Because of predatory neighbors and because of cultural, economic, and other reasons, we thought that a common state would be the best solution. Even today when a foreigner notes that there is not much difference in the language and looks at a geographic map, it seems that this is the best solution. Unfortunately, we just cannot be together".


Between the two World Wars he was often a guest at the Belgrade court, and he narrated many details from his discussions with King Alexander I and Prince Paul. He also talked about his imprisonment in 1941 in Zagreb by the regime of Ante Pavelić, and how he had burned the notes of his memoirs. He said that he had largely rewritten and restored them, but that they had not yet been put into proper order to be ready for publication.


Meštrović usually did not talk much about his art. He did not this time either, as he took me through his studio. He had completed a really herculean twenty-six foot high statue of bronze called "Man and Freedom", destined to decorate the facade of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The statue had just been dismantled to be packed for shipment, so I saw smaller scale models. Other works included a six foot bronze of Saint Anthony for Oxford University and a portrait bust in plaster of the Croatian scholar Vatroslav Jagić (1838-1923) for the University of Vienna. He had been working on a full scale model of a huge monument to the Montenegrin poet Prince Bishop Petar Petrović Njegoš (1813-1851). This was to be Meštrović's gift to the People of Montenegro- The monument was later executed in grey granite and set above Njegoš grave at Lovćen mountain, not without controversy both in Yugoslavia and among certain exiles to whom I will refer later.


I also saw a finished model of the statue of a Croatian poet, the Franciscan monk Andrija Kačić-Miošić (1704-1760), who is the author of the very popular book of poems Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskoga (Venice, 1756), a collection written in the style of long epic ballads glorifying national heroes of the past in the struggle for freedom and justice. The verses of Kačić, who called himself "Old Man Milovan", were so popular that many village people knew them by heart and have transmitted them from generation to generation for two hundred years. Meštrović himself memorized these stanzas in his childhood and would occasionally recite some of them or quote from them.


Meštrović made the Kačić statue for the Franciscan monks of the monastery of Zaostrog, Croatia, where Kačić lived. The Franciscans planned to observe the 250th anniversary of Kačić's birth in the spring of 1954, so they asked Meštrović if he could make a statue of their famous confrere. Meštrović readily agreed to make it as his gift, but he could not defray the cost of casting it in bronze, as this would be a costly proposition in the United States. He wrote to the Franciscans to ask the State Foundry in Zagreb to make the casting free of charge. He grinned telling me that as it was quite certain that Tito's censors would read this letter before the monks, this might influence those in power to make a favorable decision. After all, he believed that the regime would take into account the reverence that the Croatian people feel toward Kačić. The statue would be placed in Brist, the birthplace of the poet, which is in the vicinity of Zaostrog.


I made some color photographs of the sculptures and models in his studio, and of the artist himself; the latter was published in Hrvatska revija in 1962.


These are the highlights of my conversations with Meštrović in Syracuse in June 1953, which I have described in the article in September issue of Hrvatska revija.


Statements on Stepinac


After my conversation with Meštrović I understood much better some of the allusions in his statement on Cardinal Stepinac which he had sent me six months earlier and which was published in the Syracuse Herald Journal of December 11, 1952. Meštrović's statement said:


"Archbishop Stepinac has remained consistent in his actions and his beliefs. In public and private he has been speaking the truth of his own conviction and defending the conviction of the Croat people. His statements at the Zagreb trial demonstrated this. Cardinal Stepinac's identification with the beliefs and aspiration of the Croatian people brought about his condemnation by the regime, despite the fact that they knew he was innocent of the alleged crimes.


"In vain did those who took away his freedom console themselves by declaring that history has been filled with examples of just men being condemned because of 'political necessity.' They will fail to persuade anyone that such condemnations in the past were humane; nor will the citation of cases of 'political necessity' in the present profit the present regime in the eyes of the people.


"The head of the present Yugoslav government has himself declared—I think imprudently—that the Serbian elements in present day Yugoslavia and their clergy are opposed to the liberation of the Cardinal. This opposition is the real reason for the continued detention of the prelate. What becomes then of the slogan 'Brotherhood and Union?' How can this be construed to prove that there is stability within the state if half of the people consider as 'traitor' the man whom the other half of the people regard as a saint? How can other stares have faith in such a country?


"I do not know the attitude of the Serb people towards the Stepinac case; I only know the 97 per cent of the Croat people are for Stepinac and only 3 per cent for the Communists, according to the Communists themselves. Consequently, if the present Yugoslav regime desires to appease the Croat people and the great Roman Catholic Church, they must give Stepinac his full freedom and let him exercise his religious duties. Stepinac has remained faithful to his people and to the Church which he symbolized. No regime can eradicate the people and their faith.


"I know that such a solution would be disagreeable to the regime after all that has happened, but to admit one's own mistake and correct it is more courageous than to ignore it. The regime has Stepinac physically in its power but not morally and they are balancing unsteadily on a tight rope over a chasm.


'The Stepinac case indicated that those who believe in immortal life are the more courageous. Stepinac and those who are similar to him believe that the true life cannot be shackled or destroyed. Therefore, the struggle is between two unequal powers, one transitory the other eternal.


"Those who hold at the present moment the reins of power should contemplate a little whose will be the ultimate victory. The Montenegran [sic] Serbian-Orthodox Bishop and a great poet Njegos said: "Happy are those who live for ever; they had a reason for being born". The others are either not remembered at all or only mentioned for their evil."


Shortly after my conversation with Meštrović in Syracuse Tito repeated publicy that Stepinac was refusing medical help because he wanted to make himself a martyr. This prompted Meštrović to dispute Tito publicly. In a statement to the press Meštrović disclosed information that he had just received from reliable sources inside Yugoslavia. The Syracuse Herald Journal of July 23, 1953, reported Meštrović's statement in an article under the headline "Rare Blood Disease Threatens Life of Yugoslavian Cardinal". The following is the text of the article:


A rare blood disease will threaten the life of Aloysius Cardinal Stepinac of Yugoslavia if he is not permitted to visit Germany or the United States for treatment, Ivan Meštrović charged this morning.


Meštrović, prominent Yugoslavian sculptor-in-residence at Syracuse University, revealed today that informants inside Yugoslavia had smuggled out word about Stepinac with the hope that Meštrović would make the cardinal's true condition known outside Yugoslavia.


Two weeks ago, said Meštrović, Marshal Tito declared that the cardinal had refused medical examination, and refused to go to a seaside resort for his health.


Stepinac wanted to be a martyr, said Tito, and Yugoslavia would take no further action. Stepinac is confined to his native village of Krasnic (sic).


Disputing Tito's statement, Meštrović said he had received reliable information that several "noted Croat physicians" had examined the cardinal a few weeks ago, diagnosing his dines as a rare blood disease.


These physicians are of the opinion he should come to Boston for treatment, said Meštrović, adding that Stepinac 's life "is in grave danger if he is not given proper treatment".


"In Yugoslavia", he explained, there are not the necessary facilities to treat such an illness".


"The statement of Marshall Tito asserting that Stepinac has refused medical examination is exact only if he was referring to a group of physicians that might have been sent by the authorities and in whom Stepinac did not have confidence.


It is not true that Stepinac is seeking to be a martyr. It is true that the cardinal is not afraid to die, but it is out of the question that he wants to contribute to the shortening of his own life. This is completely contrary to Christian teachings.


"I am sure that Marshall Tito knows that to die in defense of one's religious and national rights is not the same as to commit suicide.


Tito seems to expect the early death of the cardinal, charged Meštrović, but he "does not seem to realize that if Stepinac dies he will be a much more dangerous opponent for the regime than he is while alive."


The cardinal's death would further deepen he conflict between the Yugoslav government and all of Christianity, predicted Meštrović.


"The case of Cardinal Stepinac is only a part of a wider conflict between two worlds and two ways of life", he commented.


"Stepinac is the symbol of this struggle against the denial of God in Yugoslavia, but he is not the only victim in the struggle for the freedom of the human conscience. Many other bishops and hundreds of priests are imprisoned in Yugoslavia".


Stepinacs case has another aspect in addition to the religious side, said Meštrović. His persecution is regarded by the Croats as persecution of the entire Croat nation within Yugoslavia.


"This is why the death of the cardinal could be just as fatal for the internal cohesion of the Yugoslav state in the future as the assassination of the Croat leader Radić was in the past".


The cardinal was found guilty in 1946 of collaborating with the Axis powers and was given a 16-year sentence, but freed in 1951 on condition he does not leave his native village without permission and that he does not perform any of his churchly functions.


His Seventieth Birthday


A few months before the sculptor's seventieth birthday, on April 29, 1953, the American Academy of Arts and Letters made the announcement that Ivan Meštrović had been selected to receive its Annual Award of Merit. It pointed out that Meštrović was the only living man to have had a one man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It also said that he had been described as "a mystic of vigor, violence, majesty and profundity," and "the greatest sculptor of religious subjects since the Renaissance".[11]


Time magazine of May 18, 1953, in an article "Life Begins at 70" described Meštrović as a sculptor of the old school who works "with a blazing intensity; he has been known to do as many as nine major works plus a score of minor pieces in a single year". Nearing his 70th birthday the sculptor "served notice that time had dulled neither his vigor nor his artistry". Time described several of his recently completed sculptures, and the article further stated that to a question about the philosophy that guided him through his work, the sculptor had replied:


"Sculpture and art in general should contribute to human civilization, to human progress and mankind's spiritual development. In my opinion, 'abstract in art' is only another slogan. All great art must be expressed within the limits of form. As though must be expressed in form, so the craftsmanship of the artist must be subjected to the discipline of honest workmanship".


The Time article was accompanied by a picture of Meštrović with his model of the sculpture of Njegoš.


A group of Croatian writers addressed the sculptor on the occasion of his 70th birthday and solicited his views on numerous topics. The questions and answers written in Croatian were published in Croatia Press and Hrvatska revija.[12] This lengthy interview is of special interest as it revealed the sculptor's intimate views on several topics. Here are excerpts from his answers to a few questions.


To the first question of how he felt at 70 he answered that he felt it more as a number, as a grizzled beard reflected in his mirror, than physically and by his mental disposition. "I am not disturbed by the fact that the number of my years indicates that the end cannot be that far, because life does not have too much attractiveness, and man lives through it as a duty". He explained that he had asked himself the same question at the ages of forty, fifty, and sixty, and the question was: "What have you accomplished of all that which you have planned and wanted to do? How much of the blame falls on yourself and how much on circumstances, that you have accomplished only some trifles of what you aspired to do?"


However, he said, he should not complain; other people in the past had similar problems.


"An artist by the nature of his calling is a stranger anyway, whether he is abroad or in his homeland, and he must reconcile himself to his fate, must seek his chez soi and develop it within to other regions and foreign lands, its roots have always lived from the attached little clod of that soil from which it sprung".


himself. However, in my life, I had a priceless companion: poverty; poverty in both a narrower and a broader sense, that of my family y and my nation. The first helped me never to be afraid of material difficulties, for I reasoned I could never have less than I had when I started. The second drove me to persevere in my work, so that at least in my own field my nation's poverty would be diminished. I always harbored a feeling which I whispered silently to myself: 'You, my small poor homeland, you are for me the greatest and dearest thing in the entire world'. If I have accomplished anything of value I am indebted to that feeling more than to anything else. No matter how far fate and circumstances have blown the frail tree of my life.


To a question about the fate of his "Arts Pavilion" in Zagreb, which had been the property of the Croatian Arts Society when the government of Ante Pavelić transformed it into a mosque in 1941, Meštrović said that at that time in his capacity as President of the Curatorial Committee he protested against seizing the Society's property; however, he later felt that this had been "a prudent and appropriate decision of 'Poglavnik', because about a million Croatians of Moslem religion have a right to have in the capital their own visible and characteristic place of worship. I thought that in our general national interest this was more important than our artistic needs. I have heard that the building has again been transformed, and that it is no longer a mosque. I do not know what purpose it serves now. As far as I am concerned, if I were the owner of the building, I would have donated it to our Moslem brothers to use for their place of worship"[13]


Responding to a question about the monument to the millions of Jews who perished during World War II, planned to be erected in New York City, Meštrović said that he had the approval of the committee in charge of erecting the monument and of the respective Art Commissions of New York City and New York State, but that some crisis had developed within the committee promoting the project, so that the plan had been shelved. He did not know if it would be revived. "The monument", he said "was conceived on a universal basis, i.e. as a monument to all the victims who had fallen in the last war, but in the primary place would be the Jews, because the number of their victims was proportionately highest and they had been killed so cruelly. The center of the monument was to be an obelisk inscribed with the Ten Commandments as the moral center of all civilized humanity. Beside the Decalogue some sentences from the Sermon on the Mount would have been included. The main figure of the monument would be Moses, who with a powerful move directs humanity toward an understanding of the Commandments and obedience to them. In a long relief behind his figure there would be shown a multitude representing humanity, figures from all nations and religions, and the great spiritual leaders who through the centuries strove toward the moral ideal of humanity".


One of the questions asked Meštrović was: "Critics have often said that you are against so called abstract art. What does that mean?"


He answered, "You have done well to formulate your question as 'what does that mean', as that makes my answer easier, which is that I don't know either, even though I belong to this age. I am not against searching for the new, far less against accomplishments which do not observe certain established rules. But in this case I see neither frank searches, nor accomplishments worthy of mention. One could discuss- this topic at length, but it belongs more to the field of psycho-pathological analysis than to the field of artistic endeavors. It is perhaps characteristic of our time, which in its spiritual convulsions or powerlessness overturns all concepts of values. It is better that I be short, because even those more outspoken than me can through longer explanations fall easily into controversies. This could happen more easily to me, because in principle I am not against the new; moreover, I believe that where there is no innovation there is no creativity. However, I would not engage in a discussion of artistic accomplishment in sculpture, let us say, where a piece of twisted iron hanging on a wire from the ceiling is labeled `Aspiration' or whatever else comes into the head of some artist; or a piece of soiled canvas looking as if somebody had cleaned his brush on it is referred to as 'Colorative Mood'; or lines drawn with a ruler forming squares, triangles, and irregular circles is entitled 'Cosmos' ... Some of the old masters of the past, if they could see these achievements would say: 'Untalented ignoramuses'. However, even such a judgment would be only half the truth, to which should be added the pathology of our times and a swindle which continuously is looking for slogans, with such slogans then becoming 'schools'. After half a dozen isms they found 'abstract'. This sounds more profound, more mystic, like something which ostensibly could be compared with metaphysics."


There was not only praise on his birthday. Kanadski Srbobran, the organ of the Serbian National Defense, a Canadian Serbian-language newspaper, attacked Meštrović and the Croatian people in general. Meštrović replied on July 19, 1953, with a letter to the editor. He sent me a copy of that letter, and I published it in Croatia Press.[14] Following is the English translation of some parts of that letter, sparked by the sculptor's fine irony:


I would not comment on the author's opinion about the concept of the above-mentioned sculpture [Meštrović's "Njegoš"] nor on the "caricatures" of the Serbian heroes, whom, according to him, I have maliciously disfigured. I would not comment because I am familiar with the aesthetic perception of the contemporary Balkan people and their concepts about art. The author could have rather addresed himself to the many people over the world who for over half a century have written about those sculptures, to explain to them that as a matter of fact they have "nothing Serbian in them". And how could they have, naked as they are without Balkan breeches and dolmans or knivds, called concealed vipers—which, after all, could not be shown in the sculpture because they are hidden. Nor would I comment on the author's statement that in the "pitiful Croatian history" I could not find motives. I could only offer him an apology that, although being Croat, I regarded those heroes of mine in the same way as Grgur of Nin or Matija Gubec, though he could not find any others of value on the Croatian side. At that time I and my generation did not see such strict boundaries separating Serbians and Croatians as the present generation sees.


Meštrović was particularly incensed by the insinuation that he had exploited Serbia materially, and he said that if any one could bring him proof of that, he was willing for every dinar he had received to return a thousand.


It is true that at my initiative Serbia erected its pavilion at the International Exhibit in Rome in 1911 in which, besides my work, there were exhibited works of other of our artists, both Croatians and Serbians. That pavilion cost Serbia a certain amount of money and an attack from Austria, but its prestige, which had not been that great, was enhanced in the world, and it began to be looked upon as a leader in the liberation of the South Slaves.


Also in his letter he referred to the arrangement he had made in 1919 with the government of the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenes by which he donated the fragments of the Kosovo monument under the condition that the government pay him annual dividends for the cost of the materials and the work invested. The government had paid him only for a few years.


"God help the poor Serbs ... I wish that, together with Njegoš, and not just for them but for their Croatian brothers as well, who also need God's help".[15]


Meštrović Becomes a U.S. Citizen and Donates Art Work to the Croatian People


On April 11, 1954, Meštrović was awarded the "Christian Culture Award" given annually by Assumption College of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In his acceptance speech he described how he had started his series of wood carvings "The Life of Christ".[16]


Meštrović could have become an American citizen in 1952, but as in many other matters he waited for his decision to mature. It disturbed him that his acceptance of American citizenship could be interpreted as renouncing his Croatian nationality. Several of his American friends had told him that no one demands anymore that people forget their national origin; moreover, that they are welcome to point to it and emphasize it. However, on the eve of accepting American citizenship in November 1954, Meštrović wanted to make this point clear, and in an interview with Owen Crumb of the Associated Press on November 7, 1954, he said:


"There is nothing unusual about my becoming an American citizen. I am simply following in the footsteps of millions of Americans who came to this country as immigrants. Like them, I have come to the United States seeking liberty and a peaceful way of life.


"I am honored, but above all, happy to become a citizen of this great and free country, a country whose greatness can be measured not only by her geographic size and material resources, but also by her invigorating spirit of freedom which gives dignity to the human being, life for the democratic form of government and hope to the world.


"I seek citizenship as a matter of firm conviction and as a result of a deep desire to become an American, knowing that by doing so I need not exclude my love for the Croatian people from whom I drew my life and my inspiration."


Meštrović was one of 22 distinguished persons selected to represent 50,000 new citizens throughout the United States to be received in the White House by President Eisenhower in a nationally televised ceremony".[17]


It was not a pure coincidence that in the same interview in which he discussed U.S. citizenship Meštrović revealed the details about the gift he had made to the Croatian people and the conditions he had made to the government of the Croatian Republic. Here is that part of Owen Crumb's article:


Although Meštrović refused to return to Yugoslavia after the Second World War, his house and chapel in Split, which he built between the wars, were not confiscated by Tito. Meštrović has not forgotten "the Croatian people from whom I drew my life and my inspiration" and his belief in the force of religion.


He disclosed in an interview this week that he had converted his house and chapel into a museum and that, seven months ago, he shipped the "Life of Christ" panels to Yugoslavia to be installed in the chapel as a gift to the Croatian people.


"The Government of the Croatian republic agreed to the conditions.


"I was informed by Dr. Cvito Fisković, commissioner of art and historical monuments, that the panels had been installed. Interestingly enough, no publicity halt been given to this fact, nor has there been any announcement that I have opened my house and chapel to the public and given my art work to the Croatian people.


"I wrote the bishop of Split, requesting the prelate to consecrate the chapel and to appoint a priest to celebrate mass in the chapel.


"A month ago I received a letter from the bishop, telling me that he had discusssed the matter with Dr. Fiskovic who said that since such a matter was outside of his jurisdiction, he had for-warded the request to the government in Belgrade.


"That is where the matter stands."


Asked whether he thought the anti-religious and anti-Catholic Tito government would respect the agreement to permit masses in the chapel, Meštrović replied:


"I don't know. I feel, however, that the government will respect its signature to the agreement."


Apparently another battle of wits has shaped up with Tito still bargaining for Meštrović's return.


It would appear that Marshal Tito will get his answer on Thursday.


In an interview given to United Press[18] at the same time Meštrović repeated that he had donated his home to the Croatian people, providing that the home be turned into a museum and that the chapel in Split as well as another in his native village, become public monuments but remain at the same time places of worship under ecclesiastical jurisdiction.


The United Press correspondent asked Meštrović for his reaction to Tito's pro-Western policy, to which Meštrović answered:


"I believe like many other people, that Tito was forced to embark by circumstances on a pro-Western policy. Despite the fact that Tito shares the ideology of the Soviet rulers, he does not wish to be Moscow's vassal and does not want the Soviet Union to exploit his country and rule it as a satellite. Tito's "pro-Western" policies have helped him in two directions: 1.) He has received considerable economic help, and 2.) the peoples of Yugoslavia have grown somewhat less hostile to the regime since Tito no longer gets his orders from Moscow. Tito cannot be blamed for desiring to remain neutral and independent from the two great world power blocks because the first duty of every statesman is to defend the interests of his own country."


To a question: "Do you think Tito is doing a good job in unifying the peoples of Yugoslavia," Meštrović replied:


"I believe that Tito might have the best intentions in this question, but as far as I know, he cannot succeed in unifying the peoples of Yugoslavia because he is unable to grant full equality to the Croats and Serbs. This can readily be seen from the statement Tito made to an American newspaperman in which he asserted that he could not release Cardinal Stepinac and stop persecuting the Catholic Church because of the Serbs. In other words he acknowledged that today, as before, under the monarchy, the ruling group is Serbian. This the Croats cannot accept, nor can the Macedonians, Albanians, etc."


Meštrović was very happy when he received the news that the Yugoslav government after several months of delaying tactics finally gave the permission for consecration of his two chapels as agreed when he donated his residences to Croatian people. Frane Franić, Catholic bishop of Split consecrated the chapel of Holy Cross on March 7, 1955 in presence of a large crowd of people. I published a report on chapel's consecration in Croatia Press.[19] America, National Catholic Weekly Review (New York, vol. 93, no. 8, May 21) gave to that event wider publicity in article "Moral victory for Meštrović". The article referring to Meštrović gift to Croatian people said:


"The Communist Government pledged that it would allow the consecration of the chapels and their use for religious purposes, but later hedged on its promise and delayed fulfillment. According to the April issue of Croatia Press, a bulletin published in Cleveland, Ohio, the Ministry of the Interior in Belgrade sent confidential instructions to local Communists in Split, site of one of the chapels, directing them not to permit the chapel's consecration. The Catholic press in the United States and elsewhere got hold of the story. On March 7, Dr. Frane Franić, Catholic Bishop of Split, consecrated Mr. Meštrović's chapel, having finally received permission from the Communist authorities. The only assignable reason for their capitulation seems to be the unfavorable publicity which the Ministry's underhand action produced abroad. According to the Croatia Press, people in Yugoslavia consider that Professor Meštrović has won a signal moral victory over the Communist regime. It is all the more meaningful for having been won in the field of religious art."


Leaving Syracuse for Notre Dame


The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, conferred upon Meštrović an honorary degree in 1954. The President of the University, Father Theodore Hesburgh, asked the sculptor on that occasion if he would like to come to Notre Dame to teach religious art and work at "a place where his work would really be appreciated". Meštrović accepted the offer and joined the factulty of Notre Dame in September 1955 under the university's Distinguished Professor Program.


More honors were bestowed upon Meštrović. The American Institute of Architects in presenting the sculptor their Fine Arts Medal for 1955, accorded him the following citation.


"From your shephered boyhood in the Dalmatian Alps to your mature achievements in Europe and America, you have held steadfastly to the conviction that art is the most profound expression of man's spiritual nature. Never forgetting the lessons learned from the past, with a devout respect for the integrity of materials, you have constantly aspired to a simpler more direct form of expression—a form undesistandable by men of all races, all creeds, of all time.


Notre Dame University conferred upon Meštrović a Doctor of Fine Arts degree on June 5, and Marquette University the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on June 8, 1955. [20]


Two exhibitions of Meštrović's art were held in 1955, one in Syracuse in January and one in South Bend in November at the Festival of the Arts that is presented annually by the Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters.


Anna W. Olmsted, director of the Syracuse Museum of Arts, in an article in the Syracuse Post Standard (January 29, 1955) said the art works for Meštravić's "magnificent exhibition" were selected by the Maestro himself. She quoted Rodin's statement calling Meštrović "the greatest phenomenon among the sculptors" and Edward Alden Jewell of the New York Times who referred to Meštrović's "exceptional power in the broad sculptural tradition stemming from Michelangelo by way of Rodin", and then said: "Religious subjects have been portrayed passionately, with unfailing spiritual quality. The several Madonnas are beautiful in their simplicity created with never a hint of sentimentality. When stark tragedy is depicted as in the stone relief "Refugees", "Grieving Woman", and "Jesus Taken down from the Cross" in wood, one marvels at the evidence of deep emotion wrought through understatement and elimination of unnecessary details.


"Not that all the works are tragic—far from it. There are "The Lute Players", a flagstone relief: "Christmas Song", "Angel with Violin" in wood, "the Baggipe Player" in marble, and the wonderful dark stone relief "Archers of Domagoj" with its fuge like rhytms; and many happy "Mother and Child" themes."


In concluding the article she said that Meštrović's years as sculptor in residence at Syracuse University had brought him many new friends and admirers who were quite unreconciled to his pending departure from Syracuse and who wished him and his wife God-speed.[21]


After I moved from Cleveland to New York City in 1956, Meštrović would always call me when coming to New York. He would arrange his business in such a way as to have a free afternoon and evening, and I would meet him and we would spend several hours in conversation. Most of the time he stayed at the Hotel Barbizon Plaza on Central Park South. Other times he was at the apartment of his son Mate (Matthew). Typically, I would leave my office about four o'clock and we would start to talk in his hotel room. Later we would sometimes have dinner at a restaurant in the Barbizon, or more often at Macario's, a small Italian restaurant on 58th Street. We would stay there until ten or eleven o'clock at night. Meštrović wanted to be current on Croatian cultural and political affairs. I informed him of everything I knew about this, and in turn I heard from him numerous extremely interesting details on current and past events. These meettings were for me among my most rewarding experiences.


That year 1956, within the span of a few weeks Meštrović was in New York twice. The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded Meštrović their Gold Medal for Sculpture on May 23. At the same ceremony Aaron Copland was presented the Gold Medal for Music. On the same occasion Meštrović was one of seven artists inducted as members of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.[22]


Columbia University awarded Meštrović the degree of Doctor of Letters on June 8 at the University's 202nd commencement"[23] On both occasions he met with some New York Croatians. During the early days of that June, Tito made a trip to Moscow, returning the previous year's visit by Khruschev to Belgrade. Alluding to Meštrović's statement made some years earlier turning down Tito's invitation, I said to him jokingly: "Meštar, now that Tito has departed for Moscow, you should return to Yugoslavia". "Oh, no, no", he replied laughingly, "I said when Tito returns to Moscow and remains there".


In the year 1956 Meštrović executed several religious works for Notre Dame, among them "Christ and the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well' in bronze and black marble, located on the campus; a crucifix; a wood relief "Last Supper", and others.


Relations Between Croatia and Serbia


It seems that Meštrović's energy did not decrease with advancing age. Remarkably, besides his involvement in American life and strenuous full time work in his studio, he also followed numerous Croatian exile publications as well as others published within Yugoslavia itself. Above all, he corresponded with numerous people. There was, of course, his business correspondence in English and other languages, and personal letters from his friends and acquaintances, Croatian and others, including some of his compatriots he never knew personally. His wife Olga, who looked after him in every way possible, was of invaluable aid in handling his correspondence. It was characteristic of Meštrović that — while always stressing his position of being a nonpolitical person — he could not resist the temptation to state his opinion in political matters whenever he had an opportunity to do so, and particularly when challenged. So when the editor of Savremenik, a Serbian language news magazine published in Paris, sent a questionnaire to a number of prominent people from Yugoslavia living abroad, Meštrović included, Meštrović was one of those who promptly obliged. The questions and answers published in Savremenik no. 12 (1957) were also reproduced in Zajedničar,[24] published by the Croatian Fraternal Union in Pittsburgh, the largest Croatian-language weekly newspaper in the United States.


Since Meštrović has been often referred to as one of the architects of the first Yugoslavia, his answers to Savremenik are of special interest in as far as they indicate some conclusions to which he had arrived at this stage of his life. In the following paragraphs I will either reproduce or summarize in English the most important points he made.


"Neither the exiled politicians, nor myself", he wrote "are called to say the last word on relations between Croatia and Serbia and the relations among the republics of Yugoslavia. Only the peoples of those republics, and of the autonomous regions as well, will have this word. Politicians can and will search for a common platform, but as I said, the final decision is up to the people on the basis of equal rights. A contented population represents the greatest and only real strength of each nation (state) or of a community of nations (states). Now let's go to your questions".


Question: "Is it possible and desirable to find a common platform for unified political action on the part of the democratic representatives of Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian emigrées?"


Answer: "It is understandable that a common platform for all the peoples of Yugoslavia and particularly of Croatians and Serbians, who live on 80% of the territory of Yugoslavia and represent about 70% of its population, would seem desirable. However whether it would be possible to form such a platform, I do not know. It seems to me that the prospects are poor. The basic problem of Yugoslavia has been, and remains, a consenting agreement on relations between Croatia and Serbia as states. I believe that such an agreement would be welcomed by the other associated members of the Yugoslav community of nations because it could serve them as a model in settling their own relations with the community. Only on the basis of such an agreement between the representatives of Croatia and the representatives of Serbia would it be possible to establish conditions for joint actions directed internally or externally".


Question: "Hasn't the time come for the democratic representatives of our three peoples in exile to address an appeal to their compatriots calling on them to unite in the struggle against the Communist dictatorship and to link their struggle with the struggle of the other peoples of Yugoslavia?"


Answer: "It is always time, and especially now, for our political representatives to act in a conciliatory manner and advise their followers to conduct a tolerant and mutually respectful discussion on the questions which separate them. This could only be helpful, even if it would not bear immediate results. Who preaches peace is on the right path."


To a question as to what is the main obstacle to a joint struggle of political exiles against the Communist dictatorship, Mestrović gave a lengthy answer in which he pointed out: "The main and essentially the only obstacle is that the representatives of Croatia and Serbia — if they are that, or to the extent that they are that — in representing the two main nationalities have been unable so far to reach an agreement about their future mutual relations, if they have ever seriously attempted to do so ... By failing to deal with this main problem, the solution of the problem is avoided altogether ... "


"As for removing Communist dictatorship in the country [Yugoslavia), I believe that it is possible to make a contribution to its removal from outside by countering it with new, sounder, more liberal, and more justice-promoting ideas. But to remove it totally would be possible only from inside when new ideas gain the upper hand".


"One of the strongest arguments of today's rulers [of Yugoslavia) in justifying their dictatorship is that the former politicians and their generation were unable to solve the problem of relations between Croatia and Serbia, as well as their relationship with the other nations and nationalities within Yugoslavia, and that they were not in favor of policies promoting social justice. Activities of the politicians in exile seem to give some credence to this argument. Of course, Communist practice is different from theory. Though today's federal structure is fair enough, the governments of the republics have little power, and basically everything is under Belgrade's centralist rule. The situation is no better with respect to social justice, as the Communists enjoy all the privileges. If the exiles could agree on a constructive program and continuously jab at Communist weaknesses, this might perhaps be the best way to force them to change, or at least to bring them to reason. However, one should recognize that they have done some good things which will stay. They stopped the continuation of the civil war, though the adversaries suffered enormously heavy losses which were the result of savage revenge rather than of necessity. The head of the state has conducted a subtle, skillful, and courageous foreign policy — except toward the church — and so far has achieved good results, which his adversaries must recognize."


"In concluding this letter I wish to emphasize that the Croatian people are today determined more than ever to establish their own state in which they, along with those Serbian brothers remaining and enjoying equal rights within the borders of the Croatian state, will be their own masters. The Croatian people cannot and will not abandon this right at any price. It is not pleasant to stir up old quarrels, but their experience with the first and second Yugoslavia has only strengthened the Croatians in this decision. Serbia and Croatia have many common interests and can form a united front toward third parties, but they cannot administer justice to each other or impose laws upon each other. When our Serbian brothers comprehend this and take it into account, then it will be easy to make an agreement with the Croatians, and the two peoples will continue to live side by side enjoying security for the mutual benefit of both".


In 1958 Meštrović completed an eleven-foot bronze statue of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the priest who offered the first parish mass in the continental United States almost four hundred years ago. The statue at the ancient Mission of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, Florida, was unveiled and dedicated by Joseph P. Hurley, Archbishop of Florida, on April 13, 1958, before almost five thousand pilgrims. Meštrović and his wife were also present.[25] The same night Meštrović was rushed to a hospital in Jacksonville, where late in the night an appendectomy was performed on him. His condition was excellent, and he recovered promptly.


Archbishop Hurley, who served as Papal Nuncio to Yugoslavia after World War II, had a great admiration for Archbishop of Zagreb Aloysius Stepinac, whose trial he had attended. Hurley ordered some other religious sculpture from Meštrović, and they became friends, visiting each other. I know that at one time he suggested that Meštrović, and he collaborate in writing a book about Stepinac.


Visit to Stepinac and Tito


After having carefully evaluated all arguments pro and contra, in 1959 Meštrović came to the conclusion that the moment had come to visit Croatia after seventeen years of absence. He had noted changes in that period of time and had pointed out some positive achievements; his son Matthew had made a trip there and traveled all over the country; the sculptor had received assurances that he would be able to travel without any restrictions and see anyone he wanted. He told me that the first person he was going to see would be Cardinal Stepinac, who after being released from jail, lived confined in the parish house of his native village Krašić in the vicinity of Zagreb.


Meštrović and his wife Olga left New York by ship on June 23 and took the train from Paris to Zagreb, where they arrived on July 3. The next day, the American Independence Day, Meštrović and his wife were the center of interest at a reception held at the U.S. Consulate in Zagreb. The Yugoslav newspapers, however, reported Meštrović s arrival very briefly, in only a few lines. The Meštrovićs met their son Tvrtko, who lived in Zagreb; their other son Matthew from New York joined them there a day or two later. The sculptor visited two of his old friends, Monsignor Svetozar Ritig[26] and Milan Ćurčin.[27] Both were in poor health. Ćurčin, one of Meštrović's closest friends and confidants had been paralyzed and bed-ridden for over a year. There were only brief moments when he could speak coherently. Ritig also was partly paralyzed and talked and walked with difficulty. Meštrović declined Ritig's invitation to stay in his residence, as he was quite happy in the Hotel Esplanade, a Zagreb landmark that the sculptor knew well from old times. However, he accepted Ritig's offer to use his government car, apparently placed at Ritig's disposal because of the high position he had in the government. Having accepted that offer, Meštrović found that Ritig's nephew, a certain Angelo, a younger man, was around him most of the time. He described him as a "servile type" as he told me about his Zagreb encounters. When he told Angelo that he would like him to have Ritig's car ready for Friday morning July 10 to take him and his wife to Krašić to visit Stepinac, Angelo turned pale, got fidgety, and said that he was afraid this could not be done. Then apparently he went to consult some people from the Yugoslav police UDBA and returned with the suggestion that Meštrović write a petition to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Meštrović flatly refused and said that he believed he had the right to move freely whenever he wished to go. Faced with the sculptor's adamant decision, no further attempt was made to stop him from visiting Stepinac. He went to Krašić with Ritig's car.


The police guard in front of the parish house was removed that day.


The Meštrovićs arrived at the Krašić parish house about 10 o'clock in the morning, had lunch with Stepinac and the pastor Josip Vraneković, hastily prepared by the nuns, and stayed there until 4:30 in the afternoon. This was the first time that anyone had visited Stepinac without a special permit. It was a big surprise for the Cardinal and an emotional encounter of the two men, as Meštrović recounted to me later. The Yugoslav press did not publish a word about Meštrović's visit to Stepinac, but when a few days later, on July 13, he met Miloš Žanko, the Minister of Education of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, this was immediately published in all the papers.


As soon as I received information that the Meštrović-Stepinac meeting had taken place, I reported it in Croatia Press,[28] which thus was the first in the world to break the news at the time when Meštrović was still in Yugoslavia. Many periodicals made use of the Croatia Press report[29] America, National Catholic Weekly Review based on it an editorial.[30] On August 20 I wrote a letter to the New York Times with a critical comment about Paul Underwood's dispatch from Zagreb that had been published by the Times on August 19. Along with my letter I sent a copy of the latest issue of Croatia Press and called their attention to Meštrović's visit to Stepinac. A few days later I received a reply dated August 25. The first part of the letter was a reply to my comments on Mr. Underwood's report; the second acknowledged that the meeting between Meštrović and Stepinac had gone unnoticed, but said that the Times would follow it up.[31]


Monsignor Ritig organized a dinner in honor of Meštrović. Among those present were Zlatan Sremec, President of the Sabor (Croatian Parliament); Većeslav Holjevac,[32] mayor of the City of Zagreb; the sculptor Frano Kršinć,[33] and others. When Sremec asked Meštrović if he intended to visit Tito, Meštrović answered that he did not plan to ask for it. "What would you do if you were to receive an invitation?" Sremec continued. "I would not refuse it", Meštrović answered. The very next clay he received the invitation to visit Tito at Brioni.


Meštrović arrived at Brioni on July 25 and stayed there for a week. After that he went to Split, then to Otavice, the village of his ancestors and of memories of his youth. From there he proceeded on to Zagreb and again by train to Paris, from Paris to Le Havre, then by the "Queen Mary" to New York.


There are many details about Meštrović's trip to Croatia that I have published, partly in English and partly in Croatian, in succesive issues of Croatia Press between June and September 1959.[34] I wrote a larger article in Croatian after Meštrović's death for Hrvatska revija, which includes an account of his talks with Stepinac and Tito.[35] Meštrović himself had briefly described his meeting with Stepinac in Hrvatska revija after Stepinac's death.[36]


Meštrović spent a few days in Paris and met some Croatian friends, among them Ante Smith Pavelić.[37] Meštrović also met in Paris the editors of Nova Hrvatska, a Croatian language newspaper published in London, and in talks with them he gave an account of his impressions from his trip to Croatia. He briefly discussed his visits with Stepinac and Tito and reported that the antagonism between Croatians and Serbians was great and that nationality conflicts existed even within the Communist Party [38]


While he was in Paris Meštrović visited the Museum of Auguste Rodin,[39] his former teacher and friend. He entered the garden, full of sculptures, then the museum and Rodin's house, which he knew so well. In that house Meštrović had spent many days and nights with both Rodin and Bourdelle.[40] Every room brought back to him recollections of some event related to their work or to discussions or good times they had together. When he learned that Bourdelle's widow was still alive, he went to visit her in Montmartre. Bourdelle's house had also been converted into a museum. Both Meštrović and Mme. Bourdelle were deeply moved by this unexpected encounter after so many decades.[41]


Meštrović also revisited the Louvre, where he wanted to see only three sculptures: the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samotrace, and the goddess Hera.[42]


Meštrović and his wife with their little granddaughter Olga Šrepel (daughter of their late daughter Marta) arrived on the "Queen Mary" at New York on September 1. Waiting for them at the pier were their daughter-in-law Jane, Matthew's wife, with her little daughter Marta and myself.


The fact that Meštrović had been Tito's guest in Brioni prompted the Yugoslav representative to the United Nations, Dobrivoje Vidić, to board the ship in New York Harbor to greet him and offer any assistance he might need. Correspondents from the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, and Time magazine had boarded the ship earlier. Meštrović in talking with them about his impressions, had the highest praise for Cardinal Stepinac, his opinion of whom had been confirmed by their meeting. However, he also talked quite favorably about Tito. When Jane and I met the Meštrović's, the correspondents were still around. Talking with the Times correspondent I mentioned to him that while the Yugoslav press had given wide publicity to Meštrović's visit to Tito, it had not printed a single word about the sculptor's visit to Stepinac. In the news reports on Meštrović's return published the next day, no one mentioned Tito's diplomats who had met him. The New York Times published a picture of Meštrović and reported only his visit to Stepinac, passing silently over his visit with Tito.[43]


The next day Meštrović visited Cardinal Spellman and informed him about his trip. I met him after that in the Hotel Barbizon Plaza, and we spent almost four hours together.


Meštrović looked refreshed, invigorated, and more jovial than usual. He told me that two weeks ago, on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, which was also his 76th birthday, he attended mass in the small Church of the Holy Cross in his former estate, beneath the rugged hills on the shore of the blue Adriatic. This is the church filled with Meštrović's wood panels depicting the life of Christ and with his crucifix above the altar. He said that the priest sang the mass in the Old Croatian language, and that the people prayed as devoutly as they had over the centuries. This was one of the most pleasant memories he brought back.


He told that he had found Cardinal Stepinac in good shape physically and mentally; there were no visible signs of his complicated blood disease, and despite the fact that the Cardinal was isolated by the police from the outside world, it seemed that he was relatively well informed.


Tito, he said, was an extremely capable political leader. During the week the sculptor stayed at Brioni, they met and talked on several occasions. Their last meeting was the most interesting. Though Meštrović had more than sufficient proof of my discretion, he nevertheless asked me especially to reveal to no one what he was going to tell me. Referring to the last meeting with Tito, he said that they both were on the terrace with no one else around. At a certain moment Tito went and closed the door to the room and with tears in his eyes told him: "Believe me, I am not less a Croat than you", and he embraced the sculptor.


I told Meštrović that this seemed incredible. Tito painstakingly and systematically avoided any reference to his nationality; he was particularly cautious that no one would identify him even indirectly as a Croatian, or infer that from the fact that he was born in Croatia. "Meštar, are you sure that he was sincere, that he was not acting?" I asked him. Meštrović assured me that Tito was sincere. "It was his spontaneous and emotional reaction. I don't believe he was pretending, and why should he do so?"


"To leave a good impression on you. He was aware that you consider him an extraordinary able politician, in which I agree with you, but you had reservations toward him as a man and toward his character, as well as for his role in Serbo-Croatian relations". I told him that it was in Tito's interest to remove those reservations that Meštrović had, being well aware of the enormous prestige the sculptor had throughout the world and in Croatia. "To Tito it would be more important for you to acknowledge his patriotism and noble motives in the kind of partly tragic role in which he attempted to portray himself to you, than for you to compliment his masterful tactics in politics. To him it would be more important to get such recognition from a man of your prestige and reputation than from all the communists of Yugoslavia together".


"No, no, why should I be important", Meštrović said, "and what would Tito have gotten from that? I believe that he did not have in mind any special motive. He talked very emotionally".


In his talks with Tito, Meštrović raised the question of the massacre of the Croatian Army (domobrans and ustashas) and the civilians who were returned from Austria by the British after the end of World War II in May 1945. Tito answered that nothing could have been done to prevent the Serbs from venting their rage.


Meštrović pointed to some political problems in Bosnia and particularly mentioned to Tito the need for a Bosnian railroad connection with the harbor of Split. The problem of new railroad construction had at the time enormous political and economic importance. The Serbian centralists were urging and finally prevailed in constructing a "pan-Serbian" railroad from Belgrade to Bar, which turned out to be one of the most expensive ever built in Europe. These railroad projects were then being much discussed by experts in Yugoslavia. In America, Pavle D. Ostović,[44] Meštrović's friend, was one who -urged the connection of Split to Sarajevo and further into Serbia as the most economical and most favorable for all concerned, Serbs included. Ostović had urged Meštrović to raise this question if he had an opportunity. Tito answered Meštrović that there were some difficulties, but that he was certain the railroad from Bosnia to Split would be built.


Meštrović told me that he had said to Tito that it was a wise idea to have made his residence at Brioni. This stressed the point that no one else had anything to seek on the eastern coast of the Adriatic except the people who were living there.


Among the interesting items Tito told the sculptor was that among all war criminals, Stalin was by far the greatest, as he had literally murdered millions of people.


Meštrović told me that in his talks with Tito he did not touch upon the question of Stepinac.


Tito again invited Meštrović to return to Yugoslavia. The sculptor answered that he was now an American citizen. Tito replied that this did not present any problem, and that Meštrović could keep his American citizenship if he preferred.


Talking about his impressions from Split, the sculptor regretted that he did not meet the bishop Frane Franić, who was out of town, but he was deeply moved when the pastor of the Split Cathedral in Peristil took him in hand at the entrance, and they walked through the church full of people to celebrate the Te Deum, a solemn thanks-giving liturgy. He was very satisfied with the way his home was being turned into a museum, and he had the highest praise for the expertise of Cvito Fisković, the director of the Archaeological Museum in Split, who was in charge of the Meštrović Museum.


Meštrović did not plan to go to Montenegro to see the progress of the work on the location of his monument to Njegoš, as he wanted to limit his visit to Croatia only. However, a group of Montenegrins visited the sculptor in Split to greet him and discuss some details. The Njegoš monument, a three times life size plaster figure, was sent from the United States to Split. Andrija Krstulović, a stone mason and a former pupil of Meštrović, executed it in granite in 1958. The Yugoslav press, as it started to write more about Meštrović after his visit to Tito, made a lot of fuss about the Njegoš monument. It seemed as if Meštrović had returned especially to see the completion of the monument. The sculptor told me that he considered the Njegoš Mausoleum neither his best nor his most important work.


Meštrović remarked that he found the Croatian Communist leaders in the southern parts of Croatia along the Adriatic coast, such as Eduard Jardas, mayor of the City of Rijeka, and Vicko Krstulović of Split, a member of the Central Committee and many government bodies, to be much more alert and determined to look after Croatian national interests than those in Zagreb in similar or higher positions.


Death of Stepinac


The evening of February 10, 1960, the day Cardinal Stepinac died, I talked on the phone with Meštrović. He had been in his studio in South Bend when he heard the news. It had been exactly six months to the day since he had seen the cardinal in Krašić, and the last thing he had expected was for Stepinac to die so soon. Meštrović was deeply moved. He was going to send telegrams to Franjo Šeper, Archbishop of Zagreb, and to Josip Vraneković, the pastor in Krašić. He would mail me copies of the telegrams so that I could forward them to Croatian emigré papers as I might see fit. As I was at that time president of the Croatian Academy of America, I told him that the Academy would send a telegram to Šeper.


Two weeks after Stepinac's death I received through some friends a message from a person close to the Archdiocese of Zagreb expressing a wish that Meštrović make a tombstone monument for Stepinac, who had been buried in the Zagreb Cathedral. I was asked to forward the message to the sculptor. I did so by my letter of February 29, in which I also included a clipping from the Catholic weekly The Tablet, with a report on the contents of a recent letter of Stepinac to the District Court of Osijek. In that letter Stepinac answered the summons to testify in a trial against the priest Ciril Kos and in two instances mentioned Meštrović.[45]


A week later, on March 6, I wrote again to Meštrović and attached a letter received from Zagreb. The letter had been received by the same person, but it was addressed to no one and was not signed. It was accompanied by a brief note dated February 24, 1960. However, there was no doubt about the identity of the sender, and it was clear that he would not have sent it without the approval of the hierarchy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Zagreb. The letter made a reference to the last meeting of the sculptor and the cardinal in Krašić, offered some suggestions about the monument, and provided some technical details. It also listed the following attachments: 1) The cardinal's death mask; 2) several photographs; 3) the layout, with measurements of the place for the sarcophagus and for the planned monument; and 4) the cardinal's coat-of-arms with his device "In Te, Domine, speravi". These attachments were not included. However, my friends received a private letter confirming the earlier messages and adding that this matter had been discussed with Archbishop Šeper and that a consensus had been reached regarding the monument for the Zagreb Cathedral.[46]


Meštrović answered my letters by his letter of March 20, in which he said that so far he had not received the attachments mentioned in the letter from Zagreb, as apparently I had not either. "The idea to erect a monument to Cardinal Stepinac in the Zagreb Cathedral is absolutely appropriate, and that Šeper could not make a move for it is understandable, considering the situation in which the Church and the clergy live. He could not address me directly after I sent him the telegram on the occasion of Stepinac's death expressing my hopes that the Croatian clergy would follow Stepinac's example". Meštrović continued that despite his having a lot of work, he was ready to make a monument to Stepinac in the Zagreb Cathedral which would "match his modesty and resoluteness in both religious and national spirit and position." He would make a model in plaster without charge. The cost of casting it in bronze and transporting it to Zagreb should be — as the message from Zagreb had suggested — at the expense of American Croatians. This should be done discreetly, in the form of a spontaneous idea of American Croatians, and not of a particular group or circle. "I believe that in this case it would be inappropriate to give to it a propagandistic form, because the act alone would speak for itself. In that way, after all, a possible conflict with the government would be avoided, though they would understand quite well the significance of the entire event". He said that he would be coming to New York the next month, and then we could discuss it all.[47]


I wrote to Meštrović again on March 20 and 23 informing him that I had received a copy of a detailed report on Stepinac's last days in Krašić written by the priest Vraneković; that the photographs and other materials related to the planned monument to Stepinac still had not arrived, but that I expected to receive them soon. I wrote him also about some other matters, mentioning that we had just mailed him the first issue of the Croatian Academy's Journal of Croatian Studies, in which there was published an excerpt from the dissertation of his son Matthew. I also mentioned that in the next issue of the Journal we would like to publish an English translation of some excerpts or a chapter from his memoirs, which he was planning to publish in Buenos Aires.


As Meštrović had announced, he arrived in New York with his wife, and we met on April 16, the Saturday before Easter, at the apartment of his son Matthew. With the Meštrovićs, father and son and their wives, I spent all afternoon there. The discussion centered on the last days of Stepinac, the situation of the Catholic Church in Croatia, and Croatian national affairs in general. Meštrović talked again about some impressions and experiences from his last year's visit to his homeland, adding always new details. We discussed the problem of finding suitable people to form a Committee of American Croatian Catholics for the Cardinal Stepinac monument for the Zagreb Cathedral. The promised material from Zagreb still had not arrived. For the present we were going to keep the planned project secret.


In a lighter vein we talked about Meštrović's plans to spend his summer vacation on the Spanish island of Mallorca, which I knew well. Following our conversation I wrote to a prominent family in the island for suggestions to make Meštrović s stay there more pleasant.


On May 3 I forwarded to Meštrović several photographs of Stepinac, including his death mask and other materials received from Zagreb.


Meštrović replied to my letter on June 4. Regarding the Stepinac photographs he said: "The one with the children is an engaging one and could serve for some occasion. Not really for the monument in the Cathedral, I would think, but perhaps for the little church in Krašić; better, one might say, for the courtyard between the church and the parish house. I don't need the mask, because a death-mask cannot serve for the form of a living man. After all, I know his figure by heart as I have already done it three times, and there would not be any difficulty making it for the Zagreb Cathedral. Therefore, there is no question about that, but rather how to find the means to convert the model into a permanent material, how to arrange transport to the homeland, and what approach to use to avoid conflict with the authorities so they would not ban the importation and erecting of the monument. As I wrote you, I don't believe they would unless a provocative and agitational manner is used. They would understand that both things are implied by the creation of this monument, but I believe that they would forgo any idea of obstructing it".


* * *


Meštrović was not willing to travel by airplane, and his physicians advised him not to travel to Europe by ship, as this would be too tiresome for him. So instead of going to Mallorca, he and his wife went to the Bahamas, where they stayed two or three weeks. I saw him in New York before and after the trip. He did not enjoy the vacation in such a hot, humid climate, and he seemed more tired when he returned. On the day we met, during and after our dinner, he talked about some of his memories from his childhood and youth.


The next month, August 1960, President Eisenhower sent him a telegram on his 77th birthday, and members of the Croatian Board of Trade from Detroit organized a large birthday party in South Bend. As they toured Meštrović's studio, they saw a plaster model of "Stepinac Meeting Christ". This was the model of the monument intended for Stepinac's tomb in the Zagreb Cathedral. Meštrović explained to the group all the problems which remained in the way of realizing the project and transporting the monument to Zagreb.


In October Meštrović suffered a stroke that left him partly paralyzed and affected his vision. There were still so many things he wanted to finish. In Buenos Aires his book of memoirs Uspomene na političke ljude i dogodjaje[48] was about to come off the presses. In a brief period of time he made an almost miraculous though incomplete recovery. It was a difficult year for him, and then came the news in the fall of 1961 that his son Tvrtko had taken his own life in Zagreb. It was as if a lightning bolt had struck an old oak tree. This tragic event — in his own words — presaged the sculptor's death, which came on a winter day in January 1962.


His body was returned to his native soil to rest in the mausoleum in Otavice, which he had built. Meštrović's monument to Stepinac found its way to the Zagreb Cathedral five years after the sculptor's death, following a long political and diplomatic struggle. The Croatian Board of Trade from Detroit had commissioned Josip Turkalj, one of Meštrovićs students from Notre Dame, to execute the statue in marble. Only after persistent efforts of the Croatian Board of Trade over several years, and a year after the dismissal of the head of the Yugoslav Police Alexander Ranković, during a somewhat more liberalized period in Croatia, was the monument to Stepinac shipped from Detroit to Zagreb in August 1967.[49]


* * *


Meštrović as I knew him during the last period of his life was at the same time a simple unassuming man and a complex personality with varied interests. He shared these interests, as always, with people of several generations, varied social levels, and different nationalities. As his principal interest was centered on Croatian affairs, he did not bother to cultivate other social contacts more than was necessary. It is characteristic that the book he wrote and published shortly before his death was not a book on the arts, but his Memoirs on Political Men and Events. This was the main subject of all conversations and communications I had with him. While he often spoke about the past, he was equally eager to know what was going on currently, to learn about new developments in Croatia, in Yugoslavia, and among Croatian exiles abroad. This was not just to satisfy his curiosity, but for the practical purpose of determining what action he could take under the circumstances presented to him. While it was relatively easy for him to shape his sculptures using his mental power and physical strength, it was not that easy to influence events in his homeland thousands of miles away and being physically separated from his countrymen. His voluntary exile and the enormous personal sacrifice this meant for him, was one of the few means at his disposal to demonstrate where and for what he stood.


Meštrović was never inclined to talk about his art, leaving it rather to his sculptures to speak for themselves and convey his mes-sages. These messages clearly signaled what were his major preoccupations at the time. As he grew older they centered more and more on "the great teachings of the Sermon on the Mount", as he put it, and the themes and figures of Croatian national history.


Besides his absorption in the themes of the "Life of Christ" which he had been carving in wood — the series is one of the highest achievements of his art—he had been collecting his reminiscences and conducting "Imaginary Conversations with Michelangelo", some of which he published in Croatian in Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires). In a way this was a part of Meštrović's continuing conversation with the greatest artist of the Italian Renaissance which had begun with his essay on Michelangelo published in 1926. The essay includes what may be construed as a statement of Meštrović's own articles of faith where the arts are concerned: "One must be in love with eternity before one can produce a work that is even a shadow of that eternity. Immortality is confined within us as in a prison. We must bring it into the light and bring it into harmony with what is immortal around us and above us. That is inspiration, the Muse, revelation".


As Meštrović was kept busy by teaching and working in his studio, by transferring the themes from the New Testament and from Croatian history into wood and plaster, by conducting for solace his imaginary conversations on the arts, and in company with others conducting real conversations and correspondence, chiefly on Croatian affairs, and taking care of his family — all these things presented the tight circle of a world of his own. That world did not have very much in common with the world by which he was surrounded. To find a mode for coexistence within the two worlds was his formula for survival, though this coexistence was not always easy for him. However he accepted it stoically, almost fatalistically, and never complained.


The contrast of these two worlds was sublimely expressed by Richard M. Elman, a former Syracuse University student, in an article published in The Commonweal [50] on the occasion of Meštrović's death.


"I was a student then, and as guilty as the others of ignorance and callousness toward Meštrović. Moreover, I am convinced now that he encouraged the superficiality of our attentions, finding privacy in its falseness, and knowing that it required less of him than if he had had to give of his true self to the University community. If he had once been a celebrated charismatic figure, he now seemed to favour obscurity. He was usually uncommunicative, even somewhat sullen-looking. While we chattered about the Korean war, Elizabeth Taylor, Faulkner, McCarthy, and Meštrović, all in the same sentences, he carved stone and wooden images of such immense proportions they could barely be contained in the little shabby barn in the back yard of an exclusive sorority house."


"Once I had the good fortune to sit next to him at a campus meeting of so-called young intellectuals where he had consented to be the honored guest and to talk with the students about Art."


Elman went on to describe a brief incident when the student chairman asked Meštrović if he had always wanted to be a sculptor, even as a little boy. Meštrović muttered an inaudible reply. Then the chaplain took it upon himself to explain Meštrović's remarks, delivering a lengthy lecture on Christian art.


"I recall the look of incredulous disgust which the sculptor exhibited then, and how sorry I was to have been a party to such a sham. For if the chairman's question had seemed impertinent or moronic, what followed it was an insult to that gentle stone cutter from Croatia who had grasped his craft through his peasant father. As my young classmates discussed their vocational and emotional problems with the artist, I was aware that there was a good deal of the peasant's simplicity and strength still lurking in the man; and I was also aware after viewing the heroic scale of the figures on which he had worked that Meštrović's simplicity and his lack of cant had more bite than the sophistication of the intellects against whom he was pitted. It troubled me to have to stare back at his large dark eyes, acknowledging that we could not understand the terms of his beliefs because we had grown so far away from them".


I well remember the occasion when in a New York restaurant, after other subjects were exhausted, Meštrović recalled his days as a shephered boy on the slopes of Svilaja Mountain at the turn of the century and recited verses from the epic poems of the 18th century Croatian friar Andrija Kačić Miošić, to whom I referred earlier in this article. The waiter, who thought that the bearded sculptor was a rabbi, perhaps speculated that he was reciting some prayers. As I listened to him and recalled how these verses had been recited for two centuries in villages along the Adriatic coast and its hinterland, I thought how unreal, strange, and incomprehensible all this would sound to the people around us if they knew what it was he was saying. It was very apparent how much he enjoyed recalling his youthful experiences and repeating the words which had stuck in his memory from that time. I shared his joy.


As Meštrović had his imaginary conversations with Michelangelo on the arts, he had them with Kačić as well, though on a different subject, in a poem he wrote on the occasion of Kačić 250th birthday. In that poem, published elsewhere in this issue of the Journal, Meštrović through Kačić discusses the problems and aspirations of the Croatian people. He also wrote an introduction to the American edition of Kačjć's book.[51] As Kačić used to call himself "Old Man Milovan," Meštrović in concluding his introduction addressed him in this way:


"Naš put je, Starče, dugačak kao onaj od prvog do šestog dana, kad se Gospodu htjede stvorllti čovjeka. Mrak na ovom putu smo najbolje mi osjetili i stramputice uočili, ali nam Bog vid sačuva za nadolazeći dan."


"Our journey, Old Man, is a long one, as from the first to the sixth day when the Lord decided to create man. We best perceived the darkness on this road, and we noted the ways leading us astray, but God preserved to us the sense of sight for the day to come".



[1] Croatia Press is a Croatian-language news service and bulletin which I started to publish in Rome in 1947 and continued in Madrid from 1948 through 1951. Since 1952 it has been published in the United States, initially in English and Croatian, and ultimately in English only.

[2] Meštrović left Croatia in 1942. He lived in Rome in 1943 and in Lausanne, Switzerland, from 1943 to 1946. He returned to Rome in 1946, where he completed his monumental Pietŕ in marble. At the suggestion of Malvina Hoffman (1887-1966), a well known American sculptor, Syracuse University offered Meštrović in 1946 a position as sculptor in residence, which he accepted. Malvina Hoffman, a pupil of August Rodin, was an old friend of Meštrović from the time she met him in Paris during World War I.

[3] Professor Pavao Tijan. who since, 1946 has lived in Madrid, was a member of the editorial board of Hrvatska enciklopedija (The Croatian Encyclopedia) published in Zagreb from 1941 to 1945. Meštrović was advisor to the board for contributions on the arts. (Five volumes, covering A to Elektrika, of the planned 12-volume encyclopedia were published. Tito's regime burned almost all the copies of the undistributed fifth volume. Leksikografski Zavod, established 1950 in Zagreb, used most of the resources of the former Hrvatska enciklopedija when it began to publish its Enciklopedija Jugoslavije in 1955.) Tijan later became the director and editor of the Enciclopedia de la Cultura Espańola, which he initiated and which was published in five volumes from 1962 to 1968.

[4] Important source material for Meštrović s views on men and events relating to Croatian political and cultural affairs as well as on Meštrović's family life is contained in the letters he wrote since his arrival in the United States to the Croatian journalist and writer Bogdan Radica [Raditsa]. Radica, a former press attache of the Yugoslav embassy in Washington, had joined Tito's government, worked for a short period of time in the Ministry of Information in Belgrade, them left Yugoslavia in 1945, denouncing Tito's regime in articles which gained wide publicity in the American press, including Reader's Digest. Meštrović's letters to Radica were published under the title "Pisma Ivana Meštrovića Bogdanu Radici (1946-1961)", Hrvatska revija (Munchen-Barcelona), XXXIII, no. 2 (June 1983), pp 193-234, and XXXIII, no. 3 (Sept. 1983), pp. 457-92. A total of 81 of Meštrović's letters and some supplementary communications were published.

[5] Jo Davidson (1883-1952) was a noted American portrait sculptor. He was a follower of Henry A. Wallace's Progressive Party and an admirer of Tito.

[6] Davidson's statement and Meštrović's reply were published in the New York Times of Oct. 29, 1949. See also Croatia Press, III, no. 47 (Nov. 8, 1949).

[7] Karlo Mirth, "Susret s Meštrovićem", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), Ili, no. 3 (11) (Sept. 1953), pp. 332-37.

[8] Meštrović o Djilasovom slučaju", Croatia Press, VIII, no. 134 (Feb. 1954), pp. 13-17. While the interview deals primarily with Djilas' "heresy", it contains Meštrović s views on other topics related to relations between Croatians and Serbians.

[9] Ivan Meštrović, "Stepinac — duhovni heroj", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), VI, no. 3 (23) (Sept. 1956), p. 193.

[10] Karlo Mirth, "Iz uspomena na Meštrović", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), XII, no. 4 (48) (Dec. 1962), pp. 445-68.

[11] New York Times, Apr. 30, 1953. See also Croatia Press, VII, no. 118 (May 1953).

[12] "Interview sa Ivanom Meštrovićem prigodom njegove 70-godišnjice," Croatia Press, VII, no. 123-124 (Aug. 1953), pp. 10-18; "Ivan Meštrović govori ...", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), III, no. 3 (11) (Sept. 1953), pp. 327-32.

[13] Meštrović's special interest and concern for Moslems is reflected in his letters to Dragutin (Charles) Kamber (1901-1 69) Kamber, pastor of thr Catholic Parrish Church of Our Lady of Croatia in Toronto, was working on an informative book on Islam for Croatian Catholics, and Meštrović encouraged him in that project. See Kamber's article "Meštrovićeva briga za Muslimane, Prilog boljem poznavanju jednog hrvatskog gorostasa", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), XII, no 4 (48) (Dec. 1962), pp. 435-44. Kariber's article indudes several letters Meštrovič wrote to him between 1954 and 195b. This is important source material.

[14] "Meštrovićevo pismo Srbobranu," Croatia Press, VII, no. 121-122 (July 1953), pp. 19-21; reprinted in Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), III, no. 3 (Sept. 1953), pp. 337-38.

[15] "Pomoz Bože jadnijem Srbima ... ", from a verse of Petar Petrović Njegoš.

[16] "Message of Ivaln Meštrović, Christian Culture Winner 1954," Croatia Press, VIII, no. 137 (May 1954), pp. 3-7. The text of Meštrović's acceptance speech is also reprinted elsewhere in this issue of the Journal of Croatian Studies. [Vol. XXIV, 1983, pp. 23-26].

[17] Croatia Press, VIII, nb 143 (Nov. 1954), pp. 1-2 (English section) and pp. 6-8 (Croatian section).

[18] "An Interview with Meštrović, Croatia Press, VIII, no. 143 (Nov. 1954), pp. 2-5.

[19] "The Yugoslav Communists Have Finally Allowed the Consecration of the Meštrović Chapel in Split", Croatia Press, IX, no. 148 (Apr. 1955). pp. 1-3.

[20] "Professor Meštrović Awarded Doctorates at Notre Dame and Marquette Universities", Croatia Press, IX, no. 150 (June 1955), pp. 11-12.

The Notre Dame citation said that Meštrović is "a world-renowned sculptor of religious subjects as well as a modern patriot whose sculptures have often portrayed the aspirations and traditions of the people of his native Croatia ... " The citation also welcomed him to the Faculty of Notre Dame and said: "In his many sculptures of Christ, His Mother, and the Saints, he incarnates the convection that faith is the transfigurative element of art, 'its inner fire without which sooner or later it fades and dies': and he reveals that his own art, in all its wisdom, talent, and technique, has powerfully discovered the life-giving and creative Word."


The following is the text of the Marquette University citation:


"Ivan Meštrović, a patriot, whose genius expressed with epic power the indomitable spirit of his beloved Croatia. 'The greatest phenomenon among the sculptors' said the immortal Rodin. The tyrant could not conquer him whom the freedom of American citizenship won for us. His strong impulse towards God, called forth from his remarkably prolific genius, creations of power, deep reverence, and standing originality. The timelessness, vitality, and monumental dignity of his work have justly won for him the acclaim of being. one of the greatest religious sculptors of all time. Because he reflects the essence of the classical spirit with striking clarity, remarkable splendor and astonishing variety of design, he has merited the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa."

[21] See also "Meštrović Sculptures and Drawings on Exhibit," Croatia Press, IX, no. 146 (Feb. 1955), p. 5.

[22] "Amerika daje nova najviša priznanja Meštrović", Croatia Press, X, no. 160 (June 1956), pp. 24-26.

[23] The following is the text of the citation read by Dr. John A. Krout, vice president and provost of Columbia University:

"Ivan Meštrović is presented for the degree of Doctor of Letters. A hamlet in the valley of Dalmatia was his childhood home. The soaring peaks of the Dinaric Alps belonged to him as they seemed to stir the unfoldiing genius of a shephered boy tending his flocks. His father, a gifted native craftsman, guided his son's early efforts. The boy fashioned his. first crucifix for his humble parish church. A visitor glimpsed God-given gifts and there began the artistic odyssey—to Paris, Vienna, Rome and Zagreb—which brought him high honor while still a youth. His is work which shall be timeless, for it is the expression of human feeling wrought in marble, and granite, and wood. Here is the complete master of plastic endeavor, achieving his mood with equal facility in any medium. America is now his home, and sister universities, first Syracuse, now Notre Dame, have claimed him. Columbia has the privilege today, Mr. President, of honoring him for his contribution to an art at once noble and vehement, an art universal in its appeal."


Dr. Grayson Kirk, president of Columbia University, in conferring the degree said: "In one of the most heroic forms of man's artistic expression, you have uplifted us. You have expressed in enduring stone and wood imperishable thoughts which will inspire generations of the future as they inspire us now. Columbia'proudly will inspire generations of the future as they inspire us now. Columbia proudly welcomes you to its roll of distinguished honorary alumni." — "Text of Degree Citations at Columbia," New York Times, June 6, 1956, p. 28.

[24] "Ivan Meštrović o odnosiima Hrvatske i Srbije," Zajedničar (Pittsburgh), Aug. 21, 1957, p. 3.

[25] The Florida Catholic, XIX, no. 24 (Apr. 18, 1958). Reports and several pictures. See also Croatia Press, XII, no 184 (Apr. 1958), pp. 14-15.

[26] Svetozar Ritig [Rittig] (1873-1961), churchman, historian and politician, was pastor of the Church of St. Mark in Zagreb. He is the author of studies on church history, particularly on the usage of Old Church Slavonic in the Catholic Church liturgy in Croatia. Ritig joined Tito 's partisans in 1943, and after the war was a member of the Yugoslav Constitutional Assembly and was Minister Without Portfolio in the government of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1946-1954). He was one of a few Croatian Catholic priests who closely collaborated with the Yugoslav Communist Party at a time when the Party carried out the most oppressive measures against the Catholic Church in Croatia. Ritig's role was fully exploited by the Party in extolling a few collaborationist clergymen as "patriots", in contrast to the vast majority of others labeled as "class enemies" or even "traitors". This line was useful in the Party's efforts to impress public opinion abroad, but had quite a contrary effect in Croatia, where the majority of the population is Catholic and viewed Ritig with scorn and contempt.


Ritig was a long-time friend of Meštrović from the period between the two World Wars, and he wrote to the sculptor in America numerous letters urging him to return to Yugoslavia. By condemning the Yugoslav government's policies toward the Catholic Church in Croatia publicly and privately, Meštrović made it dear that his position was opposite to that of his old friend.

[27] Milan Ćurčin (1880-1960) was a Serbian poet and publicist and the editor of Nova Evropa (Zagreb, 1920-1941). Ćurčin's close relationship and friendship with Meštrović dates back to World War I, when they were both members of the Yugoslav Committee in London. Ćurčin is the author of the English-language study Ivan Meštrović, a Monograph, published in London in 1919. After the war Ćurčin settled in Zagreb and edited Nova Evropa. Meštrović s backing of Nova Evropa included material support for the periodical. Ćurčin also edited a second monograph on Meštrović, published by Nova Evropa in 1933 in four languages. Meštrović's essay on Michelangelo was published in Nova Evropa in November 1926. Meštrović used to call Ćurčin by the familiar form of "Ćurčija."

[28] "Meštrović Visited Stepinac", Croatia Press, XIII, no 198 (June 1959 with a note that the editing was completed on July 30}), pp. 2-3. Also, in Croatian: "Meštrović posjetio kardinala Stepinca", Ibid., pp. 13-15.

[29] Among them The Florida Catholic, Volksbote (Munchen), and El Diario Illustrado (Santiago de Chile).

[30] "Return to Yugoslavia," America, September 5, 1959, p. 664.

The editorial said that Meštrović, "the greatest living sculptor, possibly the greatest since Michelangelo" has not concealed his sympathy for Tito's victim Cardinal Stepinac. "When, in early July, after 16 years of voluntary exile, the artist returned home for a brief stay, he reserved his first important visit for the distinguished prelate now under house arrest in the small village of Krasic. The whole country, according to Croatia Press, soon buzzed with the news.


"The press has been discreet about the details of Meštrović's return to Yugoslavia. The artist, now an American citizen will return to his sculpture courses at Notre Dame University at the end of summer. His visa was granted him by the Tito regime in hopes that his visit would serve to bolster its own prestige. The trip seemes to have served rather to highlight the central position Cardinal Stepinac still holds in the minds and hearts of Croatian Catholics at home and abroad. To that extent the visit has been a boon to the Yugoslav faithful".

[31] The text of the New York Times letter of August 25, 1959, to K. Mirth, signed by Nathaniel M. Gerstenzang:


Thank you for your letter of August 21, and for the enclosure of Croatia Press, No. 198. We were grateful to you for sending it to us.


Regarding your comment about Mr. Underwood's dispatch from Zagreb that was published on August 19, it would appear important to note that he reported that "the older generations remember the hardships of earlier years and tend to accept the Government's views, etc., concerning curbs on consumption. Mr. Underwood did not make a positive statement in this regard, but undoubtedly was reporting about what he has found to be true, i.e., that they tend to accept, etc. There is quite a difference.


The reporting in Mr. Underwood's dispatch concerning detail of the Zagreb demonstrations in May would certainly indicate that there is opposition to certain results of life under the present regime.


As for the meeting between Ivan Meštrović and Cardinal Stepanic [sic], that indeed went unnoticed, and we are grateful to you for bringing it to our attention. There does not seem to be much in your report on the meeting beyond the fact that the two men had met, but we intend to try to follow this up In the hope of finding out some of the things that might have been discussed.


We will send the information to Mr. Underwood so that he can look into the matter on his return to Yugoslavia, and we will suggest to him that he should attempt to visit Cardinal Stepanic himself. Since M. Meštrović will be returning to this country shortly perhaps we will be able to contact him after his return.


Again, we thank you very much for bringing these matters to our attention.


[32] VećesIav Holjevac (1917-1970), one of the leading Croatian Communists, was organizer and commander of partisan units in Croatia between 1941 and 1945. After the war with the rank of lieutenant general he was commander of the Zagreb Military District, military commander of Istria, and head of the Yugoslav military mission in Berlin. He had a number of other high positions in government and was mayor of the city of Zagreb from 1952 to 1963. When he became president of Matica Iseljenika Hrvatske, an organization set up to cultivate relations with Croatians abroad, he advocated a revisionist pragmatic approach, considering the sharp ideological differences of the past outdated. For that he brought upon himself the wrath of the Party dogmatists and Yugoslav centralists. He is author of the book Hrvati izvan domovine [Croatians Outside Their Homeland], which I reviewed in the Journal of Croatian Studies, VII-VIII (1966-67), pp. 171-76. Holjevac was a supporter of the liberal Communist Croatian leaders Savka Dabćević-Kućar and Miko Tripalo, who were forced to resign in December 1971.

[33] Frano Kršinić (1897-1982), who is regarded as the second greatest Croatian sculptor of the century after Meštrović, and who knew Meštrović better and longer than most of Meštrović's contemporaries, recalled Meštrović s last visit to Zagreb in 1959 in conversations he had with Jakov Sedlar and Boris Grbin. Their talks with Kršinić should have been published in a book by the Zagreb publishing house Globus in 1980, but its publication was stopped by the authorities.


Excerpts from that unpublished book were published in the first issue of Likum ("O"-zero issue, Zagreb, Feb. 1983). Answering a question about Meštrović s visit to Zagreb in 1959, Kršinić said to the authors that one day Ms Magašić and Miloš Žanko, Minister of Education of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, told him that Meštrović was coming to Zagreb and asked him what they should do. Kršinić answered: "As he has donated [to the Croatian people] all of that [i.e, Meštrović's residences and sculptures] in Mletačka Street [Zagreb] and in Split, you should put everything at his disposition. He should be a guest of the City of Zagreb and have a car made available to him, as he definitely will want to see Stepinac". They said, "That's exactly what we don't want," and I told them: "Regardless of whether you want it or not, if necessary he will take the American ambassador and go there with him. You cannot prevent him from seeing Stepinac; he gave to Stepinac his last will to look after. You know, before the war Stepinac was somebody, and today he is nobody, but they are friends, and you can do nothing about it." Kršinić also said that Većeslav Holjevac, the mayor of the city of Zagreb, took Meštrović by car and showed him what had been built there. "They found themselves attuned on the Croatian national wavelength. Both Holjevac and Meštrović have told me that. I took him to the Academy to show him a new wing which had been added ... From Zagreb he went to Split. I asked him if he was going to see Njegoš on Lovćen [Meštrović's sculpture, which had been donated to Montenegro], but Meštar told me that this time he did not want to go outside of Croatia. He spent a few days with Mate Ujević [editor of both the discontinued Croatian Encyclopedia and later of the Yugoslav Encyclopedia, and old friend of Meštrović]. They drank and talked. He met Tito also".

After Likum's "zero-issue", as far as can be determined, no other issue of the periodical has appeared [Nova Hrvatska (London), XXV, no. 12 (312) (June 19, 1983), pp. 12-13].

[34] Croatia Press, XIII, nos. 6, 7-8, and 9 (198, 199-200, still 201), from June to Sept. 1959.

[35] Karlo Mirth, "Iz uspomena na Meštrović", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), XII, no. 4(48) (Dec. 1962), pp. 445-68. Also as an offprint.

[36] Ivan Meštrović, "Stepinac — simbol hrvatske neslomljivosti", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), X, no. 1 (37) (Mar. 1960), pp. 22-25.

[37] Ante Smith Pavelić is a prominent Croatian-born American. A former Yugoslav diplomat, Pavelić is known as an analyst of South Slavic affairs. He usually signs his articles "Observer". Pavel is also the author of the book Dr. Ante Trumbić — Problemi hrvatsko-srpskih odnosa (Munchen: Knjižnica Hrvatske revije, 1959). Meštrović wrote the preface to the book.

[38] Zdenka Palić and J.K. [Jakša Kušan], "Razgovor s prof. Ivanom Meštrovićem. 'Hrvati i Srbi — dva svijeta; "Nova Hrvatska — "New Croatia" (London), 11, no. 8-9. (Aug.-Sept. 1959), p. 5. The paper also published a picture of Meštrović and the editor Jakša Kušan.

[39] Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

[40] Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), French sculptor.

[41] See Ante Smith Pavelić and Bogdan Radica, "Zadnji Meštrovićev pohod Hrvatskoj", Hrvatska revija (Buenos Aires), XII, no. 4 (48) (Dec. 1962), pp. 319-22.

[42] Ante Smith Pavelić and Bogdan Radica, Op. cit.

[43] "Sculptor Sees Stepinac and Finds Him Cheerful", New York Times, Sept. 2, 1959.

[44] P. D. Ostović, "Construction of New Railway Lines in Yugoslavia," Croatia Press, IX, no. 5 (149) (May 1955), pp. 1-6.

Pavle D. Ostović (1894-1972) was a close friend of Meštrović from the time of World War I when both men were members of the Yugoslav Committee in London, Ostović being the Committee's secretary from 1916 to 1918. After the war Ostović, who was primarily engaged in business, lived in Zagreb. He was also active in public life and remained very close to Meštrović. Ostović was one of 37 signatories of the "Zagreb Memorandum" of 1935, protesting the lawlessness and censorship and asking for restoration of political freedoms and amnesty for political poisoners. Meštrović was one of the chief promoters of the memorandum and the third person to put his signature on it, the first two being Archbishop of Zagreb Ante Bauer and Archbishop Coadjutor Alojzije Stepinac. Among other signatories, many of them Meštrović's friends, were Svetozar Ritig and Milan Curćin.


Ostović, who was a well known anglophile, was imprisoned by Tito's regime and sentenced to hard labor (1945/46). Released from prison, he left the country and spent the rest of his life in Canada, mostly in Montreal, except for about two years (1950/52) when he stayed with Meštrović in Syracuse working on his book on the formation of the first Yugoslavia, its downfall, and the formation of Tito's Yugoslavia. Meštrović provided the author with a wealth of information, allowing him to read the manuscript of his reminiscences and guiding the direction of his work in several instances. The book contains a (number of documents relating to the activities of the Yugoslav Committee in London during World War I, as Meštrović was especially interested that such documentation be included. Meštrović wrote an introduction to the book in which he praised the author for his "deatohment and impartiality" in bringing out the truth, but also pointed out that he differed with the author's conclusions. See P. D. Ostović, The Truth About Yugoslavia, with an introduction by Ivan Meštrović (New York: Roy Publishers, 1952, 300 pp.).

[45] See also "Last Letter of Cardinal Stepinac Reveals Inhuman Treatment of the Final Days of his Life", Croatia Press, XIV, no. 1-3 (205-207) (Jan.-Mar. 1960), pp. 12-15; "Meštrović Interviewed About Stepinac's Letter", Ibid., pp. 15-16; "Father Kos, Mentioned in Stepinac Letter, Sentenced to Seven Years in Jail", Ibid., p. 17.

[46] I give a more detailed account of the messages exchanged and other activities relating to Meštrović s monument to Stepinac in the Zagreb Cathedral in my article in Croatian: Karlo Mirth, "Meštrovićev spomenik kardinalu Stepinicu u zagrebačkoj katedrali", Hrvatska revija (Munchen-Barcelona), XXXIII, no. 4 (132) (Dec. 1983), pp. 688-96.

[47] The concluding part of Meštrović s letter of March 20, with a reference to his visit to New York, was for some reason left out of the published version of the letter in my article in Hrvatska revija, XXXIII, no. 4 (132) (Dec. 1983), p. 690.

[48] Ivan Meštrović, Uspomene na političke ljude i dogadjaje (Buenos Aires: Knjižnica Hrvatske revije, 1961, 417 pp.). The printing of the book was completed October 10, 1961. During a brief period of liberalization in Croatia lasting from about 1968 to 1971, Meštrović s book was published under the same title in Zagreb in 1969 by Matica Hrvatska. However, to make the publication possible, the publisher made minor changes, mostly by omitting references that the Yugoslav Communist censors might find objectionable. Nevertheless, Matica Hrvatska found itself under fire, particularly because of the "Guide to Important Names and Ideas" in Meštrović's text. Borba, the organ of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Zagreb), published on October 17, 1969, the article "Odgovorni su urednik i članovi redakcije" [The Editor and the Members of the Editorial Board Are Responsible} by I. Družijanić, in which he reported that the Party organization for the city of Zagreb had voiced strong criticism of those who had worked on the publication of Meštrović's memoirs. The Party particularly denounced Miroslav Brand, professor at the University of Zagreb, Vlatko Pavlerić, and Trpimir Macan, who were responsible for the editorial work. According to the article, the members of the "basic organization" of the League of Communists within the publishing house had accepted the criticism as justified, and the director Pero Budak had stated that a new guide to personal names and ideas referred to in Meštrović's memoirs was about to be published. The warning was clear: There is danger in reading Meštrović's memoirs without consulting the League of Communists-approved guide to the persons mentioned in his book.

[49] For details see Karlo Mirth, "Meštrovićev spomenik kardinalu Stepincu u zagrebačkoj katedrali". Hrvatska revija (Munchen-Barcelona), XXXIII, no. 4 (132) (Dec. 1983), pp. 688-96. Op. cit.

[50] Richard M. Elmap. "For Ivan Meštrović, 1883-1962", The Commonweal, LXXV, no 20, (Feb. 9, 1962), pp. 506-07.

[51] Andrija Kačić Miošić Razgovor ugodni, Uvod napisano prof. Ivan Meštrović (Chicago: Stanislav Bork, 1954).