THE CROATS UNDER YUGO-SLAVIAN RULE
A Visit of Investigation
The authors of this Report are members of the Balkans Committee which meets from time to time in the House of Commons. We have both interested ourselves for many years in Minority problems in the Balkans and elsewhere.
In 1931 Mr. Rhys Davies, accompanied by the Rev. James Barr (then M.P. for Motherwell) made an inquiry and report on the treatment of the several million Ukranians in Eastern Galicia under Polish rule, Those interested in that particular issue in our own country were, we are assured, much better informed of the situation by a perusal of that study made on the spot.
This present Inquiry made by the undersigned follows on similar lines the one made by Messrs. Barr and Davies on Eastern Galicia. The spirit which animated us to undertake this task was the same, namely, a desire to find out the truth. So much has appeared in the public Press and so much interest has been aroused of late among a number of our own people at home on the troubles in the Balkans that we decided to visit Yugo-Slavia and see the situation for ourselves. We wanted to know whether the adverse Press reports about the treatment of the Croats were justified, whether the situation in Yugo-Slavia was as terrible as painted and whether the Government of that country designated as a 'dictatorship' was quite as harsh in its treatment of the Croats as was alleged.
We had, of course, no reason to harbour a critical attitude towards the Yugo-Slavian government, neither were we bound by any person or organisation to favour the Croats if we found on inquiry that their present unfortunate position is of their own making. We were free from the beginning to report as we found.
We, therefore, approached the Croatian problem without any bias, and in our examination of the case called to our aid as much of the judicial mind as we could command. We decided that if we found the Government harsh we would say so. On the other hand, if we found the Croats unreasonable in demanding what they conceive to be their rights we would report that failing too.
We endeavoured to find out what the answer of the Yugo-Slavian Government would be to the charges made by the Croats; but it is obviously difficult to secure answers from Governments on issues of this kind. Finally, our conclusions are set forth in this Report.
Whilst we travelled separately on some occasions we satisfied ourselves of the facts by other means.
28, Westfield Avenue,
RHYS J. DAVIES,
House of Commons,
Geography and History of Croatia
The Croats inhabit those territories of South-Eastern Europe which gave the old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy much of its status as a great Power, namely, the Eastern coast of the Adriatic and the territory lying between the Adriatic and the Middle-Danube.
The northern portion of this territory is the part properly called Croatia; the Southern coastal province is Dalmatia, and between them lie Bosnia and Herzegovinia.
The Croats settled down in these countries in the sixth century and created and organised their own State. In the twelfth century Croatia formed a personal union with Hungary, and with Austria in the sixteenth century; both unions lasted till the end of the Great War.
Some Dalmatian towns and islands were for four centuries under the domination of Venice. All Croatian countries for centuries suffered very much from Turkish incursions; Bosnia and Herzegovinia were ruled by Turkey until 1878.
In spite of all this the sentiment of Croatian national and State individuality has never ceased to exist.
Until the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy the relations of Croatia to Hungary and Austria were based on treaties concluded between the representatives of Croatia and those of Hungary and Austria. The last, concluded in 1868, was known as the "Compromise" ("Nagodba"). According to "Nagodba" pre-war Croatia enjoyed a considerable measure of legislative and administrative autonomy. Home affairs, Justice, Education, and Agriculture were in particular the autonomous concerns of Croatia.
The last pre-war decades of Croatian public life may be characterised, on the one hand as a struggle against Hungary's violation of Croatia's autonomy; on the other as a struggle for the restitution of Dalmatia, illegally detached from Croatia and transformed into an Austrian province, and of Bosnia and Herzegovinia, which were proclaimed by Austria and Hungary a separate body and were jointly governed by them.
Geography and History of Serbia
The Serbs settled, in the sixth and seventh century, in the regions eastwards of the Croats; south of the river Save [Sava] and East of the Dvina [Drina]. The Dvina has constituted for centuries the frontier between the spheres of influence of Western and Eastern Culture in Southern Europe. With the break-up of the old Roman Empire into two separate States - Western and Eastern - the Dvina became their frontier. The Croats, who had settled in the Western sphere, became Roman Catholics and adopted the Latin alphabet; the Serbs fell under the influence of Byzantium, were baptized by the Greek Church and adopted the Russian alphabet. Although the Croats and the Serbs are Slavs and speak almost the same language, and Croatia and Serbia were for more than a thousand years separated only by a river, they had never in history formed together a single State.
At the end of the fourteenth century, after the defeat of Kossowo (1389), Serbia became a Turkish province. The Turkish domination lasted until the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The Croatian national character was formed under the influence of the Western nations; the Serbian character on the other hand was influenced by Byzantium on the one side and by the Turks on the other.
Differences Between Serbia and Croatia
Mr. G.E.R. Gedye, for many years the correspondent of the English and American Press in Central and South-Eastern Europe, says in his recent work: "Heirs to the Habsburgs" (London, May 1932). "The gulf between Serb and Croat is patent to the most casual tourist on leaving the respective railway stations of Zagreb and Belgrade. The Orient seems very distant when one leaves Zagreb. I saw it first in 1925. It looked to me a modern German city. How different was Belgrade. It was, of course, inevitable that the citizen of Zagreb, with all his superiority of culture, should have resented the fact that he was treated not even as an equal, but almost as a member of a conquered race. A horde of Serbian officials, paid largely out of the yield of the heavy Croatian taxation, swept up from oriental Belgrade and spread corruption and extortion."
"The Croat's western manners and culture won him not respect, but contempt in the new State with which he had voluntarily thrown in his lot - he was regarded as an emasculated, degenerated Serb by the sturdy Serbs of the Kingdom (Serbia)."
(Pages 211, 212)
The Croats declare with undoubted unanimity that bad faith, contempt for human life, murder as a means of political struggle and corruption, are the main features of the Serbian character. The last hundred years of Serbia's history is a record of events which could have been possible in Western Europe only in middle-ages. With a few exceptions all their dukes and kings were either murdered or dethroned.
Creation of Yugoslavia and Her Recognition by the Great Powers
The terms in which the Serb--Croat-Slovene State (now officially designated Yugo-Slavia by Belgrade) was recognised by the Great Powers can be found in the preamble to "The Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and the Serb--Croat-Slovene Staten concluded on 10th September 1919, at Saint--Germain-en-Laye. The following obligations are enumerated in this preamble, which were accepted by Serbia previous to the conclusion of this Treaty:-
"Whereas the Serb, Croat and Slovene peoples of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy have of their own free will determined to unite with Serbia in a permanent union for the purpose of forming a single sovereign independent State under the title of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and
"Whereas the Prince Regent of Serbia and the Serbian Government have agreed to this union, and in consequence the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes has been constituted and has assumed sovereignty over the territories inhabited by these peoples, and
"Whereas the Serb, Croat and Slovene State of its own free will desires to give the populations of all territories included within the State, of whatever race, language or religion they may be, full guarantees that they shall continue to be governed in accordance with the principles of liberty and justice."
It will be noted from the Treaty quoted above that the Principal Allied and Associated Powers recognised the Serb, Croat and Slovene State on condition, (1) that the Serb, Croat and Slovene peoples of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had of their own free will determined to unite with Serbia in a permanent union, and (2) that the Serb, Croat and Slovene State gave to the populations of all territories included within the new State of whatever race, language, or religion they may be, full guarantees that they would be governed in accordance with the principles of liberty and justice.
"The Free Will of the Croatian People"
The Croats were originally in favour of a commonwealth of the Southern Slav Peoples. This commonwealth signified for them the fraternity of the Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, and Bulgars; free, not only in their dealing with other nations, but in their mutual relations with each other. Their conception was embodied in the idea of one State-community composed of the States of the Southern Slavs.
What was Done to Realise this Idea
At Zagreb, on 29th October 1918, Croatia's Parliament (Sabor) broke all relations with Austria-Hungary, proclaimed the independent State of Croatia, and voted a resolution in favour of the formation of the Serb, Croat and Slovene State, adding that: "The Constituent Assembly of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes will decide as to the form (republic or monarchy) as well as to the inner construction (confederation or federation) of the State with a qualified majority, which would give protection against the will of a simple majority."
All other manifestations of the Croats in favour of the original suggested Southern Slav Union contained the same safeguards. The best known among them was "The Declaration of Corfu of 7th July 1917." It stipulated regarding the constitution of the new community that "the constitution must be voted by a qualified majority."
"The Declaration of Corfu" was accepted and signed by Mr. Pashich [Milan Pašić], Prime Minister of Serbia.
On 9th November 1918, in Geneva, the representatives of Croatia and other Southern Slav countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy agreed with the representatives of Serbia upon a temporary Constitution covering the new community then about to be formed. This Constitution had to remain in force until a decision of the Constituent Assembly was reached. According to this agreement there were to be established two governments, one at Belgrade for Serbia, and the other at Zagreb covering Croatia and the former Austro-Hungarian provinces. In addition, there were to be created joint ministries dealing mainly with foreign affairs, military questions, and with preparations for the Constituent Assembly.
The Attitude of Serbia
The representatives of Serbia demonstrated at the very beginning of the life of the new community that they did not attach much value to the moral and juridical obligations assumed previously by them.
Instead of putting into effect the agreement of 9th November 1918, signed in Geneva by Prime Minister Pashich [Milan Pašić] and by representatives of all Serbian political parties, Serbia imposed her own rule on the Croatian countries. Taking advantage of the position of Serbia as a victorious State, her military representatives occupied Croatia immediately after the conclusion of the Armistice. Under the protection of the army the Belgrade Government took possession of all power in the Croatian countries and commenced forthwith to exploit them economically to the profit of Serbia, and systematically oppressed Croatian national life in all its spheres.
Although the representatives of Serbia accepted the engagement to convoke the Constituent Assembly within a time limit of six months, they postponed its convocation fox a period of two years, with the object of consolidating the power of Serbia in the countries occupied by the Serbian army after the Armistice.
The Constituent Assembly of 1921 meant nothing but setting the seal of legal form upon the fact created by force in the period of 1918 to 1920. With this object in view the principle of the qualified majority was not applied. Moreover, elections were ordained on a basis of the popular census of 1910, which gave a huge and inadequate representation to Serbia. Faced with such a situation the Croats declined to participate in the Constituent Assembly.
The Constitution of 1921, adopted almost unanimously by all the political parties of Serbia, was the culminating point of Pashich' pan-Serbianism. It cut Croatia to pieces and completely subjected her to the Belgrade Government. But it was only one of the initial phases of pan-Serb efforts. It was applied by the subsequent Governments just as it suited the pan-Serbian cause.
In spite of requirements to the contrary contained in the Constitution, the police became all-powerful. To illustrate this it will suffice to recall the imprisonment of the Croatian national leader, Stephan Raditch [Stjepan Radić], and of his five collaborators in 1924 and 1925. They were kept for six months under arrest by the police, despite the fact that the tribunals had pronounced that no legal ground existed for prosecuting them.
The general elections hold under this Constitution were infamous by reason of the methods of violence and of the corrupt-ion employed. Although the Serbs are but a minority in the whole country they have always returned about 65 per cent: of the deputies at general elections.
Assassination of the Croatian National Leader in the Belgrade Parliament
The principal obstacle to the stabilisation of the power of Serbia over the rest of the peoples rested in the continued resistance of the Croatians, organised and led by Raditch. Serbia believed that his removal was the indispensable condition of the consolidation of her domination. On 20th June 1928, Punisha Rachich [Puniša Račić], a member of the Government majority, drew five revolver shots against Raditch and his colleagues in an open sitting of the Belgrade Parliament, gravely wounded Raditch, killed two of the Croatian deputies, and badly injured two others. After having perpetrated his crime, the murderer shouted, "I have accomplished my duty...long live Greater Serbia." Seven weeks later, 8th August 1928, Raditch died.
The crime of 20th June 1928 had already been hinted at by the Belgrade Press. "Politika" published a leading article at the end of which it declared that it could easily find a citizen able to settle Raditch's account if the State did not. "Samouprava," the principal organ of the strongest Serbian political party, wrote on several occasions in the same strain. The journal of Prime Minister Vukichevich [Velimir Vukićević], "Yedinstvo," [Jedinstvo] published at the beginning of June 1928, an article signed by its editor in which he affirmed that it was absolutely in the interest of the State that Raditch should be assassinated. The assassin has since been styled a "national hero" by the Serbian priests.
On 6th January 1929, King Alexander proclaimed his dictatorship. He tried to justify this act by declaring the Croatian demands for self-government to be "irreconcilable and unreasonable." He spoke thus: "raced with the dilemma of either permitting the division of the State into autonomous units, or of imposing - even by force – the manifest interest of the country, I have chosen the second course and have abolished the Constitution."
The King-Dictator expressed the same idea in other declarations. In his speech from the throne on 6th January 1932 King Alexander said: "By means of the Constitution of 1921 we strove to carry out our State and national task, but it became clearer and clearer that our national idea has not received, in the Constitution of the Triune State, its adequate expression nor the force of an organised national unity. In such a State organisation, our organised political life had with difficulty attempted to emerge from the narrow limits of the separate ethnic groups. By my decision of 6th January 1929 I have broken with this State. It was my sacred duty to the nation and history."
All the King's dictatorial acts are in conformity with these declarations. He has forbidden, first of all, the use of the Croatian name and flag; has dissolved all Croatian political parties; has dissolved or suppressed Croatian national institutions; has rendered impossible all free manifestations of Croatian national life; has invaded the Croatian countries with police and agents. He has supported the brutal practices of the police in Croatia, whose methods were styled by the "Times," 11th February 1931, as "a European scandal," and which were denounced by Professor Einstein in his appeal addressed to the "Ligue des droit de l'homme." The right of assembly and the freedom of the Frees were annulled. Criticism of any sort, directed against the dictatorship and its supporters has been threatened with severe punishments.
The culminating point of the activities was reached in the royal decree of 3rd October 1929. By virtue of this decree an artificial Serbian majority was established in six of the nine newly established provinces. For instance, the Serbs are in the minority in Bosnia. There has been created in Bosnia, through rearrangement and the adding of large districts of Serbia, three new provinces, each with a Serbian majority. In this way the Serbs have a majority in two-thirds of the provinces, although they only form two--fifths of the population.
CROATIAN PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION
Croatian Peasants' Party - National Leader, Dr. Matchek
Their importance and their role are exposed in the following statement - as the Croats of Chicago put the case recently:
"Since 1915 the Croatian Peasants' Party had formed the political representation of the Croatian nation. Of the sixty-seven Croatian deputies elected at the last general elections in 1927 (with the exception of the Mussulmans of Bosnia, organised on a confessional basis), sixty-one belonged to the Croatian Peasants' Party, the six remaining deputies being shared among five other political formations. As a consequence, the Croatian Peasants' Party is not a party in the ordinary sense of the word, but is identical with the Croatian nation itself, politically organised. For this reason, all succeeding Belgrade regimes, desiring to suppress the Croatian nation have carried on a merciless campaign against the party and more particularly against its founder and leader, Stefan Raditch. For the same reason, the present leaders in Belgrade are paying special attention to the successor of Raditch, the present Croatian national leader Dr. Matchek [Vladimir Maček, 1879-1964]. During the first months following upon the proclamation of the Dictatorship, they tried to win him over by offers of ministerial portfolios. These measures proving fruitless, they then resorted to methods of intimidation and threats. Finally, he was arrested as a criminal and a case was trumped up against him. To the indignation of the civilised world, they proceeded to the torture of a score of persons with the object of extorting accusations against Dr. Matchek from them. These methods being unasked, they were obliged to acquit him and to set hire at liberty."
"For some time past, attacks and menaces of assassinations have been systematically pursued against Dr. Matchek, as was the case with the late Raditch during the last months before his assassination. Now, as then, the attacks and the threats emanate from individuals and organisations which though irresponsible, are nevertheless dependent upon the regime. Recently these threats have become more and more frequent. The words pronounced by King Alexander at Zagreb on January 31st were: 'There are now no intermediaries between the King and the people; I have removed them because they have offended the supreme interests of the nation by sowing hatred and killing faith.'"
This declaration has been interpreted by some elements as giving them authority to neutralise the unbending Dr. Matchek as Punisha Ratchitch neutralised Stephan Raditch.
We draw the attention of the public opinion of the world to these facts and hold that it is our duty to emphasise that the responsibility for the life and the personal security of Dr. Matchek rests with the Dictator of Belgrade and his more intimate collaborators.
CROATS' ACTIVITY ABROAD
The dictatorial regime has, of course, suppressed all political activity. Nevertheless the Croatian National Representation has not remained silent. It sent a delegation (deputies Koshutich [August Košutić, 1893-1964] and Krnyevich [Juraj Krnjević, 1895-1988]) to Western Europe with the object of enlightening Europeans about the trend of events under the dictatorship and particularly about the real opinion of Croatia.
This Delegation addressed two memoranda to the principal representatives of public opinion of the world. It has also published regularly a newspaper entitled "Croatia" (Editor: Krnyevich) appealing to the same public opinion.
One of the best statements on the situation under the dictatorship may be found in the memorandum of the Delegation of National Representation of Croatia which is worth while quoting here:-
"Whereas the representatives of the free and civilised nations are holding conferences at The Hague, at Geneva, and in London, with the object of finally liquidating the world War and assuring general peace by means of the collaboration of all nations in mutually respecting liberty and equality and in recognising the right of existence of all peoples, the National Representation of Croatia is constrained to address to the entire civilised world and in particular to the League of Nations and to the Governments of all civilised nations, the following memorandum:
The regime of the absolute King of Serbia is imposed by force on the entire Croatian nation, and:
(1) Deprives it of its elementary national rights, guaranteed by international law, in particular:
Because it effaces and arbitrarily prohibits the use of the name of the Croatian nation, which nation is recognised in the Treaties of Peace as an international factor, and which has never renounced either its name or its existence in the community of nations;
Because it prohibits the use of the Croatian flag and the Croatian arms;
Because it compels the winding-up of or forbids the existence of the Croatian cultural societies; because it does away with the Croatian language in the schools and the Administration; restricts and falsifies Croatian history in the school books and thus attempts to hamper the progress of Croatian culture; to denationalise future generations of Croats and to render Croatian literature inaccessible to them;
Because it suppresses the religion of the Croats and dishonours their tombs (as at Zagreb, 1st November 1929);
Because it arbitrarily divides the Croatian territories and, at the same time, subordinates them to Serbian domination and prohibits the use of their century-old State names - Croatia, Bosnia, etc;
Because it imposes, without the approbation of the nation, imposts and other public taxes, which are collected by force and expended without control and, for the greater part, for the benefit of Serbia;
(2) Attempts by means of the unlimited absolutist regime to annihilate national representation - elected, in spite of persecution and numerous acts of violence, with the national leader Stephan Raditch at the head of the poll at all elections (November 28th 1920; March 8th 1923; February 8th 1925; Sept-ember 11th 1927) - and, regardless of the national conscience and the national desire - incontestably expressed, wishes to substitute national representation by appointed functionaries;
(3) Imprisons the President of the national representation, Dr. Vladimir Matchek - relying on manufactured evidence and confessions extorted by the police - and drags him before an extra-ordinary tribunal where the case is dealt with behind closed doors.
(4) Renders the legal defence of national interests impossible by abolishing the liberty of the Press and the right of meeting; by prohibiting criticism of the actions of the organs of the regime; by abolishing the independence of judges; by instituting an extraordinary tribunal for political misdemeanours; and by introducing an all-powerful police force which employs with impunity the most incredible forms of torture - consisting particularly in kicking in various parts of the body, beating with batons and with sandbags, tying to the wall, pricking with nails and pins, tearing off the finger nails, burning with lighted candles applied to the naked body, torturing by hunger and thirst to the point of rendering unconscious. It even puts its prisoners to death without having to answer for the crimes thus committed."
THE EINSTEIN APPEAL
About the middle of April 1931 the celebrated savant, Professor Albert Einstein, addressed an Appeal in common with the well-known German writer, Heinrich Mann, through the intermediary of the German section of the Ligue des Droits de l'Homme to the central organisation of that League, saying as follows:
"We do not wish to fail in our duty of drawing the attention of the LIGUE INTERNATIONALE DES DROITS DE L'HOMME to events which have led to the assassination of the Croatian savant, Dr. Milan Sufflay [Milan Šufflay, 1879-1931], on February 18th of this year.
"As Dr. Sufflay was returning to his home in Zagreb on the day indicated, he was attacked in the street from behind and, according to the information at our disposal, was struck down with an iron bar. He died the day after as the result of injuries received.
"He was well known for his scientific works. Publication of accounts of his activities in the Zagreb newspapers was forbidden; even his obituary notices were confiscated and the sending of telegrams of condolence was prohibited. No one was permitted to publish any announcement as to the time of the funeral and the flying of the flag of mourning from the University was "also forbidden. The authorities even went so far as to expel from Zagreb the students who formed part of the funeral procession, and to remove from the tomb the wreaths decorated with Croatian colours.
"The name of the assassin, Nikola Jukitch [Nikola Jukić], is well known; as also is that of the association of which he is a member - 'Young Yugoslavia.' It is further common knowledge that the assassination had been arranged at a meeting on the night of February 11th 12th in the apartment of the town commandant, General Belimarkovitch [Beli Marković]. The following members of the 'Young Yugoslavia' association took part in this meeting; Brkitch, Godler, Martzohetz, and the murderer, Jukitch. The police of Zagreb nevertheless officially announced, on February 19th, that the identity of the assassin was unknown.
"In view of this terrible situation, we beg the LIGUE INTERNATIONALE DES DROITS DE L'HOMME to do its utmost to suppress the pitiless regime of violence which reigns in Croatia, as we have just exposed it. Murder should not be tolerated as a weapon to be unscrupulensly employed as a means to attain political ends."
SERBS OUTSIDE SERBIA
M. Svetozar Pribitchevitch [Svetozar Pribićević, 1875-1936] who was for a quarter of a century leader of the Serbs in Croatia, who played a prominent role in the formation of Yugoslavia, and who, during the first decade of the existence of Yugo-Slavia, participated in almost every government is strongly combating the present Yugo-Slavian regime. He was persecuted by the dictatorship and is living in Paris. In his book, recently published, he denounces the policy of Serbia in very strong terms:
"I cannot condemn too severely the policy pursued by Belgrade against the Croats. I should not like, at the moment, to say too much about the Serbs outside of Serbia. First of all, I will speak of the Croats. Before the war I constantly had occasion to eulogise in the 'Srbobran' of Zagreb (former organ of the Pribitchevitch Party in Austria-Hungary) the measure of liberty which reigned in Serbia. I constantly insisted to the Croats that they would see what liberty meant when they were united to Serbia. Events have utterly belied my words. Instead of the home of liberty that she was before the war, Belgrade has become a centre of violence, of reaction and autocracy, without its equal in ferocity and unscrupulousness in any other Balkan country; still less in the rest of Europe."
The present "Constitution" of Yugo-Slavia, dated 3rd September 1931, is analysed in the following published by Dr. Y. Krnyevich, in "Croatia" dated September 10th 1931.
The essential characteristic of a parliamentary regime is that the government should be responsible to parliament, and that its existence should depend upon a vote of confidence of the parliamentary majority.
"The Constitution decreed by King Alexander, 3rd September 1931, does not accord this right to the parliament which it creates. The appointment and the dismissal of the government depends entirely upon the goodwill of the sovereign. Article 77 stipulates: that the King shall appoint and dismiss the President of the Council and the Ministers; the President of the Council and the Ministers shall form the Council of Ministers which shall be under the immediate authority of the King.
"Parliament is to be composed of two chambers: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. In order that any Bill may become law, it will have to be approved by both chambers and sanctioned by the King. The deputies are to be elected. Half the Senators will be elected whilst the other half will be appointed by the King. Universal suffrage will operate, but it will not be secret; no protection will be accorded to minority parties (Article 54). As a consequence of Article 13, which stipulates that: The political parties may not be constructed upon either a religious, regional or nationality basis; it will depend entirely upon the authorities whether a candidature may be admitted or not.
"Making the existence of the parties dependent upon the goodwill of the governing power and introducing the open vote, means merely adding to the possibilities for abuses at elections. One must add, too, that the Deputies and Senators will not enjoy complete immunity. They may be proceeded against for crime or defamation without the previous consent of the Chamber of Deputies or of the Senate (Article 74). By the addition of the Senate - one half appointed by the King - to the Chamber of Deputies, the legislative body is rendered entirely dependent upon the King.
"In the official communication broadcast by the 'Avala' agency, the banovines are described as enjoying a 'wide autonomy.' The banovine will have its Council elected by the population of the banovine, and the executive organ of the Council will be the Committee of the banovine. The operation of any act by these organs may be suspended by the 'ban' (Governor) (Article 93), who is to be nominated on a proposition of the President of the Council of Ministers and who is to be the representative of the central power in the banovine (Article 86). According to Article 93, the 'ban' is empowered to suspend execution of tall decisions which might be harmful to the State.' By this measure, all autonomy vested in the banovine is rendered illusory. Moreover, the budget voted by the Council of the banovine must be approved by the Finance Minister of the central government (Article 95). Thus, the 'autonomous' authorities of the banovine will be completely dependent in their activities upon the central administration.
"It will be seen from the clauses which we have examined, that the King will remain de jure or de facto, directly or indirectly, the absolute master of the central administration, of the legislative body and of the 'autonomous' administration of the banovines. Moreover, he will be the supreme chief of the Army (Article 29). He may declare war and conclude peace (Article 31). He will be authorised to conclude purely political treaties with foreign powers without being obliged to obtain the consent of Parliament (Article 65). His civil list will not be liable to be reduced by Parliament without his concurrence (Article 49); and he will be able, without Parliamentary approval, to prolong by a year the duration of the budgetary financial period.
"The most curious point of all, however, is that the King reserves to himself and his successors the right to submit this present Constitution to the same fate as that abolished by him on 6th January 1529. He proclaims himself to be 'the guardian of the national unity and the integrity of the State' Article 29). In his Declaration accompanying the promulgation of the Constitution, he remarks: 'The safeguarding of national unity and of the integrity of the State is my sacred duty and constitutes the highest aspiration of my reign. It was the object and the principal task of the regime introduced on January 6th 1929' If we examine Article 29 in the light of the quoted proclamation, we see that the new Constitution authorises the King to annul this Constitution the moment he considers such a course to be necessary for 'safeguarding of national unity and the integrity of the State,'
"The foregoing proves clearly that by this Constitution no diminution is to take place in the absolute and arbitrary power of the Dictator; it is to continue disguised under a semi-constitutional form. There is but one difference: in regard to the responsibility for acts performed by the King. Under the regime instituted on 6th January 1929, all responsibility fell upon the King personally. By Article 34 of the new Constitution, he does away with responsibility for his acts by vesting the Council of Ministers with full responsibility for all the acts of the sovereign. It is correct to say that this is the solitary essential innovation introduced into the regime instituted at the commencement of 1929.
"Chapter 2 deals with personal security; the inviolability of domicile; the liberty of the Press and the rights of association; but it is added to all the articles relating to these rights and liberties that they are granted 'within the limits of the law.'
"All laws at present in existence," says Article 118, "will remain in force." Thus, in the matter of personal security, civic rights, the liberty of the Press, and the rights of association, nothing has been changed. Everything remains as before with the sole difference that has just been mentioned, that, according to the Constitution proclaimed, the formal responsibility for acts performed by the King's personal regime is shifted from the shoulders of King Alexander to those of his Ministers."
THE KING'S JUSTIFICATION OF THE "CONSTITUTION" CRITICISED BY THE CROATS
"What is the object of the latest move by King Alexander, and what will be the political repercussions of the new Constitution of 3rd September 1931 upon the existing problems in Yugoslavia? These are questions which occur to everybody, and it will be necessary for us to give an answer to them.
"In the Constitution itself and still more in the proclamation accompanying the Constitution, the King particularly emphasises that the Constitution of September 3rd is but a fresh means for the execution of the policy which he formally adopted as his own when he inaugurated his absolute regime at the beginning of 1929.
"In Article 29 of the Constitution it is laid down that: 'The King is responsible for the safeguarding of national unity; he is the guardian of its permanent interests.' In the form of the oath (Article 39) the King swears 'to watch over above all things, the national unity.' His proclamation commenced:
'The safeguarding of the national unity ... is my sacred duty and constitutes the highest aspiration of my reign.' It then continues: 'It was the object and the principal task of the regime introduced on January 6th 1929.' He defines in concluding his proclamation, the reasons which have actuated the granting of the constitution: 'I have decided to place the work accomplished and the execution of the national and State policy upon a wide basis of immediate collaboration with the people.'
"The most prominent organ of the present regime, the 'Novosti,' of Zagreb, comments upon the granting of the Constitution in its issue of September 4th 1931 in the following terms: 'The Constitution and the royal proclamation are imbued with the idea which has so frequently been insisted upon by the King as the law for himself and for all: national unity. Henceforth, then, there can be no more misunderstanding as to our national orientation. The fundamental law is such that all accepted national parties will be obliged to respect national unity. This law does not admit of the organisation of parties upon either a religious, regional, or nationality basis. Herein resides one of the supreme interests of our nation and a principal condition of its existence and of its prosperity, considering that it was the differentiation of parties of religious, nationality and regional origin which rendered possible and even sustained all separatist tendencies and hampered the processes of national and State consolidation. This signifies that the parties will not be able to be revived under the form which characterised them before 6th January 1929. These parties contained the nucleus of all existing discord and separatism. According to the Royal manifesto it is evident that this passage to a constitutional life admits of an intensifying of work in national and State affairs, in the same direction as hitherto followed, with the collaboration of the people, and does not constitute any change from or any slackening in the progress so far attained)"
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These two commentaries from the most reliable sources - from the King himself and from his most prominent organ - show in a striking manner the policy pursued by the King in his proclamation of the Constitution of 3rd September 1931.
The expression "national unity" is but a euphemism for pan-Serb policy. In the name of "national unity" the organ of the late President of the Council, Voukitchevitch, Jedinstvo, ("Unity") clamoured for the death of Stephan Raditch. In the name of "national unity" Punisha Ratchitch fired upon the Croatian deputies and assassinated Stephan Raditch. It was in order to safeguard "national unity" that King Alexander imposed his absolute regime upon the country on 6th January 1929 and he has invoked the same principle in doing all possible during the past two years to destroy Croatian national life, and more particularly to disorganise the public life of Croatia. For the realisation of this ideal, he has not hesitated to introduce into Croatia the methods hitherto employed in Macedonia. That was why the present Croatian national leader, Dr. Matchek, was imprisoned, although innocent, for six months; that was why the agents for the dictatorial regime have brutally tortured some score of Croats in order to extort from them accusations against Dr. Matchek and to be able, by means of these accusations, to hound the successor to Stephan Raditch out of public life. Hundreds of Croats have, in the name of "national unity," been sentenced to death and to penal servitude; and now, the Constitution of September 3rd has no other object than to create this "national unity."
The constitution gathers all power into the hands of the central administration. This power - the central administration - will be maintained, in a preponderating degree in the hands of the King. In so far as he grants any power to the legislative body, he makes certain, by the constitution, that this body shall be dominated by those elements which are sworn to his policy.
The constitution confirms the division of the State into banovines. These latter are delimited in such a way as to divide up the Croatian countries and to distribute them between different banovines. Moreover, the banovines are so divided that the Serbs, although representing but two-fifths of the total population, hold an absolute majority in six banovines out of nine. Furthermore, the constitution renders the activity of the "autonomous" organs of the banovines absolutely dependent upon the central power.
King Alexander intends to carry on his efforts with the aid of the same persons who have so far been collaborating with him. Relying upon this staff he will endeavour as he declares in the Constitution to "place the work accomplished and the execution of the national and State policy upon a wide basis of immediate collaboration with the people." Will he succeed in these new efforts?
The correspondent of "Le Temps" at Belgrade, well known for his intimate connections with the present regime in Yugo-Slavia, wrote a week or so ago in his despatches that King Alexander "was far from the accomplishment of his task." We will add to this just observation that he will never achieve it. No force exists capable of effecting the destruction of the political organisation of the Croatian nation organised by its immortal chief, Stephan Raditch, or of suppressing its struggle for liberty, much less of annihilating the Croatian nation, and of erecting upon its ruins a Great Serbia.
King Alexander openly took charge of the execution of the pan-Serb policy when he proclaimed his Dictatorship, thus linking his own fate with that of this policy. By his act of September 3rd he gives proof once again that he is personally devoted to the accomplishment of this policy.
That is why he will most surely share its fate.
This is the most important fact which emerges from a consideration of the granting of Yugoslavia of the constitution of September 3rd, 1931 ("Croatia," September 10th, 1931).
THE ELECTORAL LAW AS THE CROATS SEE IT
On September 10th, 1931, King Alexander promulgated the electoral law for the election of the national deputies. We give hereunder the essential features of this law:
For the election of deputies, a candidature is only valid if the candidate's name appears upon a list of candidates for the entire territory of the State (Chapter V of the law). Each list must show the chief candidate of the list and also as many district candidates as there are administrative districts throughout the State and capital towns of the banovines (Articles 18 and 21). The candidature of the chief of the list must be supported by sixty signatures of the electors of each administrative district throughout the State and of each banovine capital. In addition, the chief of the list must be able to show for all the district candidates two hundred signatures obtained from among the electors in the district candidate's district (Articles 18 and 21). The lists of candidatures will have to be submitted for approval to the Supreme Tribunal of Belgrade (Article 17) which will reject as invalid all lists not showing a candidate for every district or not having fulfilled the requirement of two hundred and sixty signatures of support obtained in each district (Article 24).
The electoral law specially emphasises that the voting is public (Articles 15 and 47).
After the election, the seats of the deputies will be shared according to the following disposition:
The list which obtains a relative majority of votes will be awarded two-thirds of all the deputies to be elected. Without taking into consideration the number of votes cast for this list in Serbia, Croatia, etc., it will obtain two-thirds of the seats in Serbia, Croatia, etc. The other third of the seats available will be shared among all those other lists obtaining more than fifty thousand votes. If the list obtaining a majority of votes should at the same time find itself with an absolute majority, it will further participate also in the division of the remaining third of available seats (Article 61). Every deputy must follow the policy pursued by the chief of his list. Should he abandon it, he loses ipso facto his seat in Parliament (Article 12).
There does not exist in Yugoslavia any political organisation which could obtain two hundred and sixty signatures in each district of the State, even if the dictatorial law prohibiting all political activities were not in force. That is why no political organisation can deposit its list of candidates according to the newly-decreed law, The Royalist Party, now in process of formation, and which is founded upon the strength of the army, the police, and all the administrative apparatus, would be still less in the way of obtaining the necessary number of signatures. However, by means of the electoral law and by means of the law concerning voting the following possibilities are created:
(1) The lists were passed shortly before the electoral law. In consequence, communal authorities appointed by the regime are enabled to include in the voting lists the names of persons deceased or absent;
(2) The "signatures" of such persons may be affixed to the lists by police officials;
(3) The Supreme Tribunal of Belgrade, entirely dependent upon the Government, may sanction these lists as valid. According to the provisions of Article 20 of the electoral law, no person other than he whose name is signed has the right to contest the authenticity of a signature affixed to a list of candidates. The King is thus assured that no one will be able to contest the authenticity of the signatures in favour of his list. By decreeing this law, he has assured his party of victory at the elections. In order to avoid all possibility of opposition, even within his own party, it is provided in Article 12 of the electoral law that all deputies who do not strictly adhere to the policy of the chief of their list thereby lose their seats in Parliament.
In addition, the electoral law renders it impossible in advance for Croatia, Slovenia, and the other national minorities to elect any representation. By an artificial distribution of seats it sets up as the formal representatives of Croatia and the Croatian countries, persons elected by votes cast outside Croatia. Thus it is the intention to continue the same comedy played under the dictatorial regime by proclaiming as representatives of Croatia individuals who enjoy not the slightest authority in Croatian public life.
THE CONTEST: KING VERSUS THE PEOPLE
The outcome of such a struggle admits of no doubt. All tyranny is temporary; nations, on the contrary, are eternal. In all parallel combats it has always been the nation which has claimed the final victory. It can never do anything else in the case of King Alexander.
Article 13 of the Constitution stipulates: "Citizens enjoy the right of association and meeting within the meaning of the law." What constitutes this right? King Alexander has defined it with accuracy in the law governing Associations and Meetings, decreed on September 18th, 1931.
The following are the salient points of this law:
"No society - with the exception of societies formed with an object purely lucrative - may be created without the sanction of the police authorities (Chapter I). Such societies which are, by their names, their aims and their constitution opposed to the prescriptions of the Constitution are prohibited. This also applies to physical culture societies founded on either religious, national or regional bases (Art. 4)."
As far as political organisations are concerned, they are subjected to quite special considerations. The law forbids the formation of political parties or other political associations founded on either religious, national or regional bases. It also prohibits the creation of parties which may include in their programme revision of the Constitution decreed by the King.
In order to effect the formation of any other sort of political organisation, the following procedure must be observed:
It is essential that at least one hundred persons should make written application to the Minister of Police, enclosing a copy of the statutes of the political party which they propose to form and soliciting sanction to form such party on the basis of the statutes as submitted.
The Minister of Police is not obliged by law to reply to this request within a fixed period. There is no recourse from his decision (Art. 13).
The founders of the party, having received an affirmative reply from the Minister of Police, may proceed with building their party (Art. 13). Every political party most possess a committee of at least sixty members in each administrative district of the State (Art. 14). Having concluded the organisation of their party, the founders must once again have recourse to the Minister of Police, to whom they are obliged to submit proofs that their party has been actually organised in conformity with Art. 14 and from whom they must request sanction for the continued existence of their party. The Minister of Police must decide, within a time limit of two months, whether he is going to authorise the continuance of the party's existence or not. Here again there is no recourse from the decision of the Minister (Art. 15).
All societies, including associations and political parties, are obliged to submit to the police upon demand from them the lists of their members and the minutes of their meetings (Art. 6 and 9). The police have power to annul any of their decisions which may be contrary to the dispositions of the laws (Art.10).
Furthermore, the Minister of Police has power to dissolve political parties should he consider that their activities are at all contrary to the law. This decision is also without appeal (Art. 16).
In order to hold a meeting, whether in the open air or inside a building, it is necessary to obtain previous sanction from the police. If the police do not reply to the request for sanction of a meeting within at least twenty-four hours before the time of the projected meeting, it must be presumed that the meeting is forbidden (Art 31).
The police have power to dissolve any meeting in course of its progress should they consider that such a meeting is "contrary to the interests of the State" (Art. 25).
Only those political parties whose existence has been authorised by the Minister of Police have the right to hold meetings without previous authorisation (Art, 32).
The Croats recollect in Croatia the absolutism of the tyrant Bach in the years 1850 to 1860. But the police regulations of Bach in matters touching upon organisations and political meetings were as nothing in comparison with the constitutional and legal dispositions of King Alexander in 1931. There were some people in Western Europe who, immediately after the War, spoke glowingly of the democratic spirit and the liberalism of King Alexander. As far as we can see, better evidence of his "democracy" and of his "liberalism" can scarcely be found than in the law governing Associations and Meetings conceived and promulgated by him on September 18th, 1931. ("Croatia," October 1st, 1931).
Those are the charges made by the Croats against the present Yugo-Slav regime.
III.- REPORT AND CONCLUSIONS
In order to test the accuracy or otherwise of the serious charges made by the Croats against the Government at Belgrade, we paid a visit and studied the issues involved on the spot.
We stayed some days in Zagreb, the capital of old Croatia, early in September 1932, spent a short time in Belgrade, and visited the countryside as well. One of the fundamental facts to be borne in mind is that of the 14,000,000 people comprising the Yugo-Slav State, about 5,000,000 are Serbs and about 3,500,000 are Croats. They form the largest two separate nations in the country.
We set forth below our considered conclusions on the present situation.
1.- We must sincerely thank the Yugo-Slavian Legation in London and the Government of Yugo-Slavia for their courtesy to us throughout our visit; and we must also pay tribute to those representative men and women of every shade of political opinion in that country, and those of none, for helping us to an understanding of their complicated problems. The English communities were particularly helpful.
2.- Whilst we were allowed complete freedom of travel and inquiry we were conscious all the time that our movements were well known to the authorities. All those whom we met who are opposed to the present regime had to tell us every-thing almost in whispers.
3.- The first impression we got in entering, and indeed in travelling through the country was, that it is practically an armed camp, that the people are held down at the point of the bayonet and that argument and reason are of no avail in political circles. Measuring the situation by British political standards at home the Dictatorship is absolute; the King reigns supreme; Parliament is merely a puppet of the Throne and the military are its tools. We are not unmindful, however, of the difficulties confronting any Government administering affairs in Yugo-Slavia.
4.- The Yugo-Slavian State comprises nearly 14,000,000 souls, made up of Serbs, who form the largest single nation; the Croats, who come next in order of numerical strength; Slovenes; Montenegrins; Macedonians; Turks; several thousand Jews and a considerable number of Gypsies. The Allied Powers, at the close of the Great War, threw all these people into one camp, made a Treaty to guide them with certain guarantees of religious liberty and justice, and expected them to work harmoniously together for ever again.
5.- That those guarantees of religious liberty and justice are not being kept is obvious at once. The Serbs have gained control of the governmental machine, the King is a Serb, and the absolute domination of his race over the rest is apparent everywhere.
6.- The Serbs belong to their own Orthodox Church which is practically co-incident with their own nation; it embraces hardly anybody outside themselves. The Croats on the other hand are Roman Catholics and their Church knows no national boundaries. Therein lies one of the chief causes of the present conflict between these two largest sections within the Yugo-Slav State.
7.- The Croats have for centuries been accustomed to a Diet of their own, with complete autonomy over their own territory, but owing allegiance to the Hapsburgs which lasted up to the end of 1918. They are naturally, therefore, very sore at losing their autonomy and freedom, being governed by an iron hand from Belgrade and ruled by a nation which they rightly think is accustomed to a lower standard of culture and political customs than they have acquired themselves.
8.- Whilst the Croats were always held to be among the best soldiers under the Austro-Hungarian Dynasty they are now definitely precluded from occupying higher posts in the Yugo-Slav army; no Croat is found among the many hundred Colonels and several Field-Marshals now in command.
9.- The same principle of excluding Croats from the professions is being pursued. Several hundred Professors and teachers in educational institutions were dismissed in June 1932 on the pretext that they were redundant or on grounds of economy. Later on, however, a number of their places were filled by Serbs.
10.- The exclusion of Croats from the teaching profession for the future is done in a very subtle way. The Minister at Belgrade has appointed a National Commission of seven persons to examine and appoint teachers for the whole country. Only one of them is a Croat; with the result that in the examinations every Croat student fails to satisfy the "educational" standards laid down by at least six members of the Commission.
11.- The country has recently been divided into nine banovines something corresponding to our own counties, with a governor appointed by the King sitting in authority in the centre of each banovine. The Croats complain that they are excluded from these posts. The divisions, however, contrary to the usual practice, take little notice of the old national and cultural boundaries.
They have been so arranged that, to use an illustration, the lowlands of Scotland have, for administrative purposes been joined up with Cumberland and Westmorland, whilst Flint and Carnarvon--shires have been attached to Cheshire and Lancashire.
12.- There is a complete censorship of the Press; and the day after we left the country one of the leading intellectuals of Belgrade was brought before the courts, and the capital sentence was asked for merely because he had issued some printed matter severely critical of the present regime. We were assured that similar criticism in our own country would pass almost unnoticed. This gentleman is, by the way, a Serb, but a man of generous democratic views. We saw ourselves a censored report of a speech delivered at the Geneva Disarmament Conference by our Mr. Arthur Henderson.
13.- The King issued a Decree some time ago abolishing all political parties with either a religious or national colouring. The Croats can no longer organise on national lines, just as if to say that there can be no Scottish or Welsh National Parties tolerated in Britain. They must all drop national and religious sentiments and form political parties on Yugo-Slavian lines only, provided, of course, they must not be Labour or Communist Parties. The effect of this Decree is, that only one Party, and that the governmental, can secure the necessary permission from the police to hold public meetings or issue printed matter. This has meant, of course, driving a consider-able amount of political propaganda underground. Trade unionism is almost crushed out by the same process.
14.- The Croats under the Hapsburgs were always entitled to unfurl their own national colours. All that is now prohibited. This, however, does not prevent them getting their own back on the authorities on occasions. They paint their national colours on their glass ware and other domestic articles; and we saw some Croatian flags hanging on trees that did not belong to any person in particular.
15.- We took a long motor trip through the countryside outside Zagreb and were met by considerable numbers of the peasants in the villages. They presented us with little souvenirs and flowers, and we were assured later that some of those who handed us those small gifts were arrested by gendarmes and put in prison for a fortnight without trial. The penalties for all such demonstrations are severe in Croatia.
16.- Those who support the present regime would have it that the nationalist feelings in Croatia are dying down, and that Dr. Matcheck, their leader, would never be able to rally Them as did their late leader, Stephan Raditch, who was assassinated in Parliament some few years ago. We can hardly believe that claim after the practically unanimous demonstration of the villagers which we witnessed almost under the eyes of the gendarmes, In fact, we are of opinion that all the elements of a national rising are innate in the Croatian peasantry, and that unless freedom is granted them very soon some ugly consequences must ensue.
17.- We are firmly convinced that no regime at Belgrade can ever destroy the national spirit of the Croats and certainly will not undermine their allegiance to Rome. Even responsible Serbians at Belgrade admit all this.
18.- The River Dvina outs Yugo-Slavia almost in the centre. The Croats claim that this river is the natural dividing line between the Orient and the West. The Serbs have always borne an Oriental outlook whilst they (the Croats) are imbued with Western ideas. Whether that claim is good or not we are certain from casual observations that the further East we travelled within the country the standard of life deteriorated. It is true that Belgrade is now being built up on Western lines; but Zagreb was completely Western before the Great War.
19.- The tragedy of it all may be illustrated by the case of Mrs. Raditch, the widow of the assassinated peasant leader, and her family. Her eldest son is an exile in Paris and her con-in-law an exile in Vienna. It was stated that none of them could secure passports to visit each other. We were assured, too, that other very responsible and prominent Croats cannot secure passports for travel under the present regime; they are prisoners in their own country, as it were.
20.- The peasants complain bitterly against increased taxation and the continued economic depression. They blame this on the regime. We are sure, on the other hand, that whatever the faults of the regime Yugo-Slavia could not have escaped the economic distress which is common throughout Europe. In a free country, however, the people would be more ready to suffer such depressions. It is obvious that much of the increased taxation goes towards the upkeep of the military. The roads outside Zagreb are in a shocking condition and education is gradually being neglected. We must, however, pay tribute to the excellent work done by the staff at the Rockefeller Institute of Hygiene at Zagreb.
21.- We have satisfied ourselves that the present monarchy is exceedingly unpopular. Even the Serbs feel that a change would be welcomed. The country has experienced about thirty governments in ten years or so; and whereas the King seems to have got rid of some doubtful Ministers from time to time he has collected around him still more doubtful personalities.
Corruption is stated to be rampant. The charge is made against the King that the amount he takes from the revenue is exorbitant. We cannot vouch for that, but it is clear that for a small country like Yugo-Slavia he does not require five castles for himself and family. The Zagreb Town Council has recently been induced to purchase from the local rates one of those castles, and that edifice by itself would do credit to a Monarch ruling the destinies of an Empire of considerable dimensions. There is no doubt in our minds that the powers at present vested in the monarchy must be curtailed.
22.- The economic situation is almost desperate. The budget is in a bad way, and it is estimated that three-fifths of the revenue is spent on the armed Forces. The salaries of the military and police are paid regularly, but that is not the case with teachers and other employees of the State. Parliament meets on an average about once a fortnight; and, incidentally, each Member is paid about five pounds per annum more than the rate applicable to Members of our own House of Commons. The whole machinery of State seems to be well oiled.
23.- We were told that the Government had actually taken loans by force from the Croatian Banks at Zagreb and that no interest is forthcoming on them. Moreover, by devious means the Government is making it practically impossible for Banks established by Croatian capital to function. The result is that small depositors in the countryside are offering their passbooks for sale at 25 per cent of the money values stated thereon. We were told that the National Health Insurance Funds are practically bankrupt owing to corruption at the top.
24.- Another complaint made against the Government by the Croats is, that Judges and Magistrates are removed from their high offices if their decisions are in any way lenient to Croat political offenders, of which there are very many nowadays. Those high posts, so we understand, are almost exclusively reserved to Serbs, even in the Courts of Croatia.
25.- We could not corroborate the statement, but it was made over and over again, that France is in collusion with the Belgrade Government for military purposes; a kind of entente against Italy which looks for expansion towards Albania across the Adriatic. If this is so the French Government ought to know that it rests on men of straw for any support it may require against Italy. Whilst we can have no sympathy with Italian ambitions it must not be forgotten that the Croats reside nearer to Italy than the Serbs; and should a conflict arise at any time between the Serbs and the Italians at the instance of France, it is not likely at the moment that the goodwill of the Croatians would be forthcoming for Yugo-Slavia.
26.- The Croats, owing to their present unfortunate position, are harbouring the idea that they might as well break away from the Yugo-Slav State and join up with some of the border Western countries like Austria and Hungary. That idea, however, should not be encouraged. The difficulties of revising the Treaty are colossal. The Croats knew the Serbs when the Treaty was discussed at the end of the Great War; and although the marriage between them has not been a success so far there is no reason why a real attempt should not be made to reconcile the parties within a new constitution which would give the Croats and the other several nationalities within the present State greater autonomy on a federal plan. The present banovines should be altered in such a way as to coincide with the old national frontiers and ancient culture. That would seem to be the next step to take. In any case a trial should be made on that federal basis to see if these fourteen million people can at all live together in harmony.
27.- We enquired as to whether the Croats had made an appeal to the League of Nations for the enforcement of the provisions of the Treaty, and were told that the Croats had no standing in the matter. They are not a Minority; they are a nation within a State. They cannot, therefore, approach the League; their case is not the usual Minority problem. It is, however, quite competent for any one of the Powers signatory to the Treaty of Saint Germain to call the attention of the League to the violation of the Treaty provisions; and it is just here that the British Government might be induced to draw the attention of the League to the present situation.
28.- We are positive that the Croats in particular cannot be Serbianised even under the guise of a grandiose Yugo-Slavian slogan. Their language may be the same; but their alphabet differs fundamentally, The Serbs will have it that the Croats by virtue of being able to speak the same Slav language should all merge into one Yugo-Slavian body with the rest. The Russians speak the Slav language too; but that does not make them Serbs. The people of the United States of America speak English, but they would hardly admit that they are British. And the classical case of Ireland should not be forgotten in this argument.
29.- If the Yugo-Slav State is to be made permanent the spirit of the Treaty granted by the Allied Powers must be adhered to. The only way out of the impasse is to give federal autonomy in some form to the several nationalities comprising this new State. Some of the extremists in Croatia demand, not only autonomy, but their own Croatian army within a federal system, owing final allegiance to Belgrade. We hardly think that that claim could be sustained. Federalism by all means; but the forces of law and order must always rest with the central government we think, except that the police might be governed locally on British lines.
30.- Finally, it is obvious, not only to casual tourists like ourselves, but to Serbs as well as Croats, that the present state of affairs cannot last much longer. We shall be happy if we have been able to contribute in the slightest degree in bringing about a change for the better in Yugo-Slavia.
(This document was drafted before 10th October when a report appeared in the "Manchester Guardian" that serious troubles had arisen in Croatia)
 This article was researched by Tomislav Jonjić and Ivan Popović, from Zagreb and Željko Zidaric from Toronto, to whom we thank.