On Croatian history textbooks[1]

(The text has been written after one month research in the Institute for international textbook research "Georg Eckert" in Braunschweig, Germany, and thanks to the scholarship received from this institute).



Goran Latinovic, MA

After becoming independent in 1991, one of the most important tasks of the Croatian state was to raise awareness on the glory and grandeur of the Croatian people in the past and its “a thousand years long” statehood. Such attempts were not aimed only at shaping the identity of the modern Croat (which was certainly one of the priorities), but also preparing him for the actions by the Croatian state at the time and those about to happen. Besides using the mass media, TV mostly, the most suitable means to achieve that goal were, naturally, history textbooks for primary and secondary schools.

The Croatian past from the Early Middle Ages until the end of 18th century was presented in the textbooks for the sixth grade of primary school and the second grade of grammar school. The period from the end of 18th century until 1918 is presented in the textbooks for the seventh grade of primary school and the third grade of grammar school. The topics from the tempestuous 20th century (after 1918) are in the textbooks for the eighth grade of primary school and the fourth grade of grammar school. Creation of myths in the Croatian past was the most visible in the first generations of textbooks, but it is more or less present in almost all textbooks from the last decade of 20th century and the beginning of 21st. At the same time, the history of Serbs was presented almost exclusively in a negative context, unless some territories, events or persons from the Serbian history were presented as a part of the Croatian history, which is not a rare case in Croatian textbooks.

Amongst the textbooks that deal with the oldest period of the Croatian history, the most important one is by Ivo Makek[2]. The textbook had four editions and had been used until the school year 1996/1997. New political circumstances appearing after 1991 enabled Ivo Makek to make significant changes to his textbook from mid-1980-ties, which he wrote together with Josip Adamcek, and adapt it to the new situation.

While writing about the arrival of the Croats, as well as about the territory they populated, the author mentions Byzantine Emperor Heraclius I who invited the Croats to fight against the Avars and adds: “The Croats really came to Dalmatia, waged war with the Avars and defeated them, and then populated the whole area from the Drina and Danube to the Adriatic Sea”. On a map below this text, red arrows mark the immigration of the Croats and blue arrows immigration of the Slavs. The author does not give any differences between the Croats and the Slavs. Also, on the map there is the word “Croats” written in large letters on a wide territory from Varaždin to Cavtat, and in small letters it reads “Serbs” on a very narrow territory between the rivers Tara, Drina and Lim.[3] Besides calling the residents of Duklja Croats, Ivo Makek says that the eastern border of the area populated by Croatian tribes was the river Drina, stressing that the immigration of the Croats was “like a torrent, stopping on the banks of the fast Drina, but it flowed over the whole Adriatic area and to the east and even reached Greece”. Over that territory the Croats mingled with the natives, so the Croatian national being has heritages of the Illyrians, Celts, Romans, Goths and Avars[4].

Ivo Makek is full of praise for Ljudevit Posavski, and thinks that his rebellion against the Franks authority (819 – 822) was an impressive undertaking. However, he never mentions his escape to the Serbs (in Bosnia” “who were said to populate most of Dalmatia”[5]. The text of the Frank chronicler would not fit into Makek’s story about Croats as the only inhabitants of the area between Istria and the Drina, and about Serbs who only inhabit the area between the Tara and Lim. Besides, the gratitude that the Lord of Lower Pannonia showed to the Serbian lord who was his host would also not fit into the black-and-white picture of Serbs and Croats presented in this textbook.

The author of the first history textbook for the sixth grade of primary school in independent Croatia especially emphasizes the importance of Croatian ruler Tomislav who, according to Ivo Makek, united “coastal” and “Sava Valley” Croatia, and from that time “until today, from the Drava to the sea spans the unified state – Croatia”[6]. Besides repeating an ancient myth on two Croatias – “coastal” and “Sava Valley” (which is also partially rooted in the Serbian historiography), Makek probably stated the greatest untruth in the whole textbook: that from 10th to 20th century, during a stormy millennium, from the Drava to the Adriatic Sea there was only one state – Croatia. Makek continued praising Tomislav and his war against the Bulgarians, stressing that the Croatian ruler “saved a small Serbian state at the time from being possibly wiped off the face of the earth forever”.[7]

Except when writing about the arrival of the Croats, Ivo Makek refers to the works of Byzantine Emperor and writer Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus from mid-10th century even when he speaks about the strength of the Croatian army during Tomislav’s rule, expressed in obviously exaggerated number of footmen, horsemen and ships. However, due his selective approach to this historical source, Makek holds back the parts referring to the volume of territory populated by the Serbs and Croats. According to Constantine VII Porphyrogenits, the Croats not only did not reach the Drina, but not even the Neretva. The ethnic border between the Serbs and Croats in Early Middle Ages was much more to the west than the Croatian myth-makers try to present and the border was the river Cetina, Croatian counties Imota, Livno and Pliva, as well as the Vrbas valley.[8]

Hungarian King Coloman saw that despite the victory in Gvozd in 1097 “that he could not keep his power in Croatia by force. Therefore, in 1102 an agreement was made between Croatian nobles and King Coloman. The contract is named Pacta Convent”. This formed a “Croatian-Hungarian state union, i.e. Croatian-Hungarian state”. The map showing this “state union” from the Adriatic to the Carpathians reads “Croatian-Hungarian State”.[9]

Those Croatian scientists who were known to be knowledgeable in Croatian medieval history rejected this source or thought it to be very unreliable, partially due to the fact that it was created only in mid or late 14th century, and partially because “such agreements in 12th century were completely unknown and impossible”.[10] However, the authors of Croatian history textbooks (with one exception) absolutely do not question the reliability of this source and portray the Croats as a completely equal factor in the “state union” with the Hungarians. Although the Croatian medieval state ceased to exist in 1102, i.e. it became a part of the Hungarian Kingdom; all Croatian textbooks call the new state after 1102 a “Croatian-Hungarian” state. Political reasons protected this source, because the “Pacta Convent” was one of the foundations of the myth on Croatian “one thousand years old” history of statehood.

None of the authors of Croatian history textbooks questions the Croatian character of the city of Dubrovnik, and neither does Ivo Makek. He says that the Roman population was assimilated by Croats “after the arrival of the Croats from the surrounding areas” so “Croatian town – Dubrovnik” came to be.[11] Not only was Dubrovnik presented as a Croatian town, but also as a part of Croatia in continuity from the Middle Ages. In a unit titled Dubrovnik Republic from early 16th to late 18th century it reads that a textile manufacture existed in Dubrovnik – “the first in Croatia”.[12]

Numerous historical sources indicate that Dubrovnik developed in a Serbian ethnic environment and that it was repopulated by Serbian immigrants from near and far. In late 18th century the Serbian element overcame the Roman and others. For example, out of 552 persons from the Balkan countries who were sold to Dubrovnik during the Middle Ages, only eight of them originated from Croatia, two from Albania and one from the Drava, while all others were from Bosnia, Serbia and Zeta. The similar ratio is the same for other categories of the settlers.[13] Dubrovnik people called themselves, and their neighbours, Slavs (Slovini), and Dubrovnik author Mavro Orbin in 1601 wrote The Kingdom of Slavs (Il regno degli Slavi) in which he dedicated almost 200 pages to the Serbs, and only a several dozens of lines to Croats, calling Croatia “a very distant country”[14]. Dubrovnik author Medo Pucic wrote in 1867: “As an island amidst the Venetian land, from the ancient times existed Dubrovnik, a Serbian republic of craftsmen and merchants”, and Croatian historian Natko Nodilo, a long-time professor at Zagreb University, concluded that in Dubrovnik the Serbian language was used “if not from the very beginning, then from as long as people remember”.[15] Dubrovnik became a part of Croatia only in 1939.

Considering the fact that the Croats stopped “at the banks of the fast Drina”, we do not need to stress that Makek considers Bosnia to be a Croatian land. From that stems his completely arbitrary assessment that “before the Turks arrived, around 85% of the populations were Catholics. Less than 10% were Patarens, and around 5% of them were Orthodox Christians”. [16] He claims that “in Bosnia and Herzegovina until late 16th century there were no members of the Orthodox Church (…) The Orthodox population appeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina when the Vlachs arrived from the mountains around the upper Drina and its tributaries”.[17] It is interesting that the author on the history map on page 11 of his textbook calls the inhabitants of the area around the upper Drina Serbs. Besides, numerous churches and monasteries build until mid-16th century tell us that Orthodox Serbs were on the territory of today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina very early.[18]

The advance of the Turks was fateful “both for the Balkans and Europe, but the most fateful for the Croats”, because “several thousands of Croats were taken from different Croatian areas into Turkish slavery. There they were tortured into converting to Islam. Many of them rather suffered torture and death than to renounce the Catholic faith”. The Turks treated Orthodox Christians and Protestants more mildly “and often supported them on the expense of Catholics”.[19]

The author claims that the Turks conquered Croatian areas with the help of a unit of the “Vlachs”, whom the Turks populated on the pillaged Croatian lands. Makek says that the “Vlachs” on their own accord “because they lived from it, broke through the borders and looted, burned and enslaved”. He concludes: “With the arrival of the Vlachs – who are called that in all the sources – next to the border, the ethnic composition of the people in the Croatian areas under the Turkish authority changed”.[20]

The theory on the “Vlachs” who under the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church and modern Serbian state were assimilated into Serbs in 19th century has been present in the Croatian historiography for a long time. Croatian historians base this on historical sources which call the Serbs “Vlachs”. However, the science knows that the Serbs who settled on some territories of what is today the Republic of Croatia (as well as some territories in Bosnia and Herzegovina) had a special vlach status, which was given by the Turks to cattle herding population in border areas. The Serbs with a vlach status were a widespread and mobile social class, they watched over the border and participated in war campaigns, and as compensation they had certain tax reliefs and the right to an internal self-administration.[21] However, undermining the vlach benefits caused them to move from the Ottoman Empire into the neighbouring countries. Although they are frequently mentioned as the “Vlachs”, many times this name goes with an interpretation, such as one by a Slovenian travel writer in 1530 who wrote that on the area from the River Una to Vrhbosna (Sarajevo) also live “Serbs (Surffen), whom they call the Vlachs (Wallachen), and we call them Zigen (Cici, Cici) or martolozi”.[22] Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I wrote in 1538 to Croatain Governor Petar Keglevic how he had been informed “that captains and dukes of Rašani or Serbians, i.e. Vlachs, who usually call themselves Serbs” with their subject crossed in good health from Turkey to Austria.[23]

However, there was emerging hostility between the settled Serbs, who did not want to give up their benefits, and Croats who were feudal lords or their serfs which over time grew fuelled with new factors. The negative attitude towards the Serbs in modern Croatia “proves an unnecessary complex of a group who, after being dispersed some time ago, started to form a nation very late. Scientific half-truths and constantly promulgated old untruths, those which are against rational cognition, were pushed forward into the public and education without receiving much resistance.”[24]

Therefore, theories of settled Serbs as “Vlachs”, an insufficiently explored ethnicity who share nothing with the Serbs and other Slavs, and who were in the meantime turned into Serbs, are “unfounded thoughts”.[25]

Almost identical to the Makek’s textbook (some chapters were copied) was a textbook by Frane Sabalic[26], and which was used just for one school year (1996/1997). The only novelty compared to the Makek’s textbook was Sabalic’s strong claim that the Croats are of Iranian origin and that they were assimilated by the Slavs on the territory of today’s southern Poland, Bohemia and Slovakia, where they founded a state “Great or White Croatia” with the capital in Krakow.[27]

Somewhat moderate, i.e. objective attitude towards the history of Croats and their neighbouring peoples is expressed in a textbook by Neven Budak and Vladimir Posavec.[28] The authors of this textbook, which had several editions, do not advocate the notion of two Croatias (“coastal” and “Sava valey”) but just one, presenting it within the borders described by Emperor Constantine VII Porphryrogenitus. They state that north of Croatia there was “an area with still some Avar authority. That area was known as the ‘land between the Sava and Drava’ or Lower Pannonia, later to be called Slavonia”. Unlike Makek and Sabalic, Budak and Posavec reject the thesis on Iranian, Avar and Gothic origin of Croats, as well as the attempts to portray Croatia as a strong central state from the beginning. They advocate a Slavic, i.e. Slavic-Romanic version of the ethnic genesis of the Croats and stress that Croatia was just an alliance which would gather counties in case of danger.[29] Budak and Posavec did not discuss the ethnic composition of the population of Bosnia, and they did not avoid saying that in 1377 Tvrtko crowned himself the King of Serbs and Bosnia. Also, the authors of this textbook do not refrain from saying that Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic opened the door to Bosnia to Turks, because he invited them to fight together against the Hungarian king.[30]

Because of such portrayal of the Croatian past, Neven Budak and Vladimir Posavec waited for two full years for the competent authorities to allow their textbook to be used, although with its contents, methods and graphics it was much better than the previous ones. However, despite a significant deviation from the mythological presentation of the Croatian history portrayed in the previous textbooks for the sixth grade of primary school, neither Budak and Posavec managed to avoid telling the old story about the “Vlachs”, and to mention that Roman Catholics in Bosnia besides to Islam, also converted to Orthodox Christianity in order to survive under the Turks.[31]

A textbook that Neven Budak made together with Marijo Mogorovic-Crljenko is even better technically prepared, simpler and more suitable for the children of that age.[32] In terms of its contents, this textbook is very similar to the one Budak co-wrote with Posavac, but it brings an important novelty. Basically, it is the only Croatian textbook which deals with the oldest Croatian history, and which questions the authenticity of the source known as “Pacta Conventa”. The textbook says that only in 19th century an unknown chronicler wrote a story about the negotiation between the Hungarian King and Croatian nobles, so the question here is: why would Coloman negotiate with the Croats after he had already defeated them?[33]

None of the Croatian history textbooks from 1990-ties and early 21st century had such a clear mythological presentation of the Croatian history as the first textbook for the second grade of grammar school, written by Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek.[34] Besides repeating well-known stories from Makek’s textbook, they bring something new. In a chapter titled Croats in Andalusia Miroševic and Šanje say that Croats arrived to Andalusia mostly as prisoners and that there were over 13,000 of them in mid-10th century. “Some of those Croats, mostly from Dalmatia, would distinguish themselves during the fall of the Umayyad Emirate in Cordoba”, and especially “Dalmatian Al-Mujahid Adb Allah al-Amiri”. The map titled Moorish lands in Spain under the administration of Andalusia Croats shows a territory involving a part of Andalusia, then Valencia, Murcia and Balearic Islands. Besides that, Miroševic and Šanjek write that the town of Cairo was founded by “General Djawahar (911 – 922)”, who had been born in Cavtat and whose name was Blaž Vodopic.[35]

On page 45 of this textbook there is a map titled Origin and movement of Croats. On that map, over a vast territory south of the Caspian Lake in today’s Iran, it is written “Harauvat, Harahvati 6th and 5th century B.C.”. From there “Croats” moved to an area north of Azov Sea, where, also over a vast territory, it reads “Choroathos (Horovatos) 2nd and 3rd century”. These “Croats” moved later on even more to the west, to an area around the Vistula, Odra and Laba rivers, and then finally settling over a territory between the Drava and Danube (including the whole of Syrmia) and the Adriatic Sea, i.e. from the Drina and Drim (in today’s Albania) to Slovenian areas. On that territory the author distinguishes three Croatias: “White”, “Sava Valley” and “Red”.

It would be a right thing to say that similar theories also appeared amongst the Serbs in 1990-ties. However, unlike the Croatian state where various myths entered school textbooks as verified scientific truths, in the case of Serbs pseudo-historians and their theories not only were banned from getting into textbooks, but they also became a subject of scientific criticism and ridicule.[36]

Miroševic and Šanjek write that Croats live in Duklja, and that Stefan Nemanja “colonizes the area with Orthodox Serbs, with much help of the Orthodox Church. During the Serbian colonization of Duklja Great Prefect Nemanja and his successors use slaughter and destruction of other people’s holy sites”.[37] Seeing Duklja as a land of “Red Croats” is based on the Chronicles of Pries Dukljanin (Bar Genealogy) which draws the most attention according to the scientific historiography, although it does not deserve it the least as a historical source. It was written in 12th century in Latin, but in 15th century a Croatian edition of the text was made, in which an unknown translator deliberately put word Croats instead of Slavs. Besides that, he inserted Croats where the Latin edition had not mentioned them. Therefore the news from the Chronicles of Priest Dukljanin are “quite unreliable”, so the “critical historiography barely takes them into consideration”.[38]

However, Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek believe the Bar Genealogy to be a very reliable historical source, just as the one telling on alleged agreement between the Hungarian king and Croatian landlords, stressing that this act “kept the Croatian statehood legally intact”.[39] In accordance with that, Croatia in the second half of 14th century involved, inter alia, the whole of Bosnia, Syrmia and the Dubrovnik Republic.[40]

Miroševic and Šanjeg complemented a very negative attitude towards the Serbs with some original interpretations, so for example the main reasons for the fall of the Serbian Empire they found in “the fact that the state was too big for real economic, political and cultural potential of the Serbian people. More cultural and economically stronger Greeks opposed the Serbs, and Albanians, Bulgarians and Macedonians did not want to suffer the Serbian authority anyway”.[41] As the reason for the defeat of the Crusade army at Varna in 1444 they name the refusal by Despot Ðurde Brankovic to let “the Crusader army” pass through Serbia. “This defeat was the work of the foul politics of the Serbian despot, and also many Orthodox Christians in Serbia and Byzantium who would rather see a Turkish turban in Constantinople than a Roman hat. Hate against anything Latin (Catholic) consumed Orthodox Christians even in 15th century, even when they defended themselves against the Turks”. [42] However, the science determined that Despot Ðurad Brankovic did not want to join the campaign against the Turks because it had not been well prepared and because his participation in such a campaign would endanger the future existence of the Serbian Kingdom. Besides that, Miroševic and Šanjek neglect the fact that the western “Christians” – Genovese, for a fee helped the Turkish fleet to reach Varna across the Bosporus.[43]

“The Vlachs had a friendly attitude” towards the arrival of the Turks, and together with them they “suddenly and treacherously attacked ancient Croatian lands”. Still, the Croatian parliament offered “the Vlachs” to become “full members of the Croatian Kingdom”, i.e. “to recognize the Croatian legal system in principle”. However, they “refused cooperation with the institutions of the Croatian state where they arrived as unwanted guests”[44]

The authors of this textbook moved the founding of Zagreb University to 1669.[45]

Andelko Mijatovic joined Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek in 1997 as a co-author.[46] This textbook is identical to the previous one, and considering the fact that the last edition was published in 2000, the fact remains that a low-quality textbook, filled with myths and explicit intolerance towards the Serbs, was used in the Republic of Croatia for seven school years (1994/1995 – 2000/2001).

One of the characteristics of history textbooks in Croatia from 1996 is pluralism, i.e. introducing parallel textbooks, which enabled different publishers (Školska knjiga, Alfa and Profil) to print different textbooks for the same grades, and sometimes one publisher would print two different textbooks for the same grade. In accordance with this practice, from 1996 in Croatia another textbook for the second grade of grammar schools was used, by Vladimir Posavec and Tatjana Medic.[47] This textbook, which had three editions, is significantly different from the one we mentioned before, and similar to the sixth grade textbook that Posavec wrote with Neven Budak.

Expanding Croatian borders to the area that became a part of Croatia only in 20th century, as well as some areas that were not even a part of the fascist Croatia (1941 – 1945), is also a characteristics for the authors of textbooks which covered the period from late 18th century to 1918. So already in the foreword of the first Croatian textbook for the seventh grade of primary school it reads that in the second half of 18th century the only free part of Croatia was the Dubrovnik Republic,[48] and the map Croatia in the first half of 19th century shows a marked territory of today’s Croatia without Baranya, but with the whole of Syrmia and the Bay of Kotor.[49] Although according to this map Bosnia and Herzegovina were not a part of Croatia, Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic do not question the Croatian character of these lands. They write that the Croatian Roman Catholic population in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the oldest one, but that it significantly decreased “due to exodus, forced conversion to Islam and even to Orthodox Christianity”. Potrebica and Pavlicevic say that Bosnia and Herzegovina were a part of Croatia in the past and that it was natural that the Croatian parliament and the Governor demanded “them to be returned to Croatia”, especially after 1878. However, since the Austro-Hungarian authorities rejected such a demand, the Croats were disappointed, because it did not respect their “historical rights”[50]. The authors of this textbook do not end with the borders of the Croatian ethnic space at the Drava and Danube, because “from the ancient times” Croats lived not only in Syrmia, but also in Baranya and Backa, “and in 17th century new groups calling themselves Bunjevci and Šokci moved there from Bosnia and Herzegovina.[51]

Although the croatization of the Roman Catholic population in Bosnia and Herzegovina started in 19th century, testimonies that not even in the second half of 19th century most of Herzegovinian and Bosnian Roman Catholics had the Croatian ethnic consciousness were left by a high-ranking Austrian officer (1863) and the Russian Consul in Mostar (1869)[52]. A wide-spread phenomenon of Roman Catholics identifying themselves as Serbs, and not only in these regions, was condemned by Franciscan monk Petar Bakula in 1869 who advised them to reject the old sense of ethnicity and embrace the new[53]. Although the Austro-Hungarian occupation of 1878 aided this process, it did not end not even in late 19th century, which was also witnessed by Croatian politician Antun Radic who in 1899 noticed that the word Croat was completely unknown for the village population in Bosnia and Herzegovina[54]. Converting Serbs into Roman Catholics (if they had not been that since the middle ages) and turning them into Croats was a long historical process, which was especially intensified after the Congregation for the Faith Propaganda had been established in 1622 and who, at least formally, ended in 1990 by a decision of the Croatian Catholic Congress in Zagreb to equalise the terms Roman Catholic and Croat, which proclaimed Roman Catholics speaking the Serbian language and Shtokavian dialect to be Croats[55]. So amongst others, Bunjevci and Šokci were also proclaimed Croats. Considering the fact that the contemporary Croatian nation is largely built on the Serbian ethnic basis, we should not be surprised by the attempts of the authors of Croatian textbook to “justify historically” the modern understanding of the Croatian people by moving into a distant past.

Potrebica and Pavlicevic write that Ljudevit Gaj in 1830 had a thought of the “Shtokavian dialect as a common people’s language of Croats and a part of Southern Slavs”. They say that the members of the Illyrian Movement contributed the Shtokavian dialect to be fully accepted “as a literary language of all Croats”, so the Illyrian Movement “was and remains only a Croatian national movement which is to lay foundations of the modern Croatian nation”[56]. However, Potrebica and Pavlicic “forgot” to mention that an official Austrian delegation in 1761 under the term “Illyrian people” defined the Serbs[57], as well as that the leader of the Illyrian Movement, Ljudevit Gaj in 1848 wrote in the Danica magazine that the Serbian language is “our literary language”[58]. Also, at the time when the nation was identified with the language, all Shtokavian speakers, regardless of their denomination, were considered Serbs. Such understanding was also advocated by Bohemian philologists and historian Josef Dobrovsky (1788), Hungarian Historian Johan Christian Engel (1801), Slovenian philologist Jernej Kopitar (1819) and Bohemian historian and philologist Pavle Josif Šafarik (1826)[59]. By adopting the Illyrian name, the Croatian reformists gave a great contribution to the spreading of the Croatian name far outside the Kajkavian dialect area, where it had been only found by foreign scientists until then.

In Croatian history textbooks covering 19th century, a special place has Croatian participation in the 1848/1849 Revolution. Potrebica and Pavlicic write that the war against the Hungarians defeated the “idea of Great Hungary and cut with a sword the state and legal link between the Croatian and Hungarian kingdoms hundreds of years old. In the recent history of Croatian lords, Jelacic was the first after centuries to be supported by the whole of Croatian people from the Drava to the Bay of Kotor, and from the estuary of the Save into the Danube to the sea”[60]. Also, the textbook constantly stresses the “centuries-old special state and legal position of Croatia” and mentions some “Croatian state”, which is impossible to find in any history atlas, unless it was printed in Zagreb. They also emphasize decisions of the Croatian Parliament from 1861 “which founded the new Croatian state, determined its self-governance, borders, county system, education and cultural institutions”[61].

Tales of Serbs, in the way started by the authors of the Croatian textbooks for the sixth grade of primary school and the second grade of grammar school, was continued by the authors of textbooks for the seventh grade of primary school and the third grade of grammar school. Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic say that Serbia wanted to expand to “non-Serbian areas”, and that the Serbs “expressed their conquering desires in the document Nacertanije (Draft)” and that this document represents “the first complete programme of the Great-Serbian conquering policy which starts with the principle that all Serbs must live in one State”[62]. There is not a single Croatian textbook that does not write about the Nacertanije in this way. However, what is neglected is the fact that the Nacertanije was created with the involvement of the British and French governments, as well as Polish immigrants, for the fear that the new government in Serbia after 1839 could abandon their policy of gathering Southern Slavs around Serbia and then seek support in Russia. Therefore, the Nacertanije was not only a result of Ilija Garašanin’s thoughts on creating a Yugoslav state, but also a result of the efforts of two western governments to suppress the Russian influence in Serbia and the Balkans. The negative attitude towards the Nacertanije as “a Great-Serbian project” started to spread especially after 1930 when the German revisionist policy started to accuse Serbia that it was responsible for starting the First World War[63].

Serbia “was heavily defeated” in 1876 and all its later success was achieved exclusively thanks to Russia. The Berlin Congress in 1878 determined the borders in the Balkans “which mostly exist today”[64].

All that Ante Starcevic wrote about the Serbs he did “in the defence of his national dignity and rights of the Croatian people on their name, territory, history and culture”, and basic characteristics of one and a half century long conflict between Serbs and Croats are in the fact that the Serbs create “conquests programmes”, and Croats only answer by “defending their national being”[65]. Serbs in Croatia “conduct anti-Croatian policy and oppose the unification of Croatia, cooperate with the enemies of Croatia (Italians and Hungarians), rouse Great-Serbian pretensions on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia through their magazine (“Srbobran” in Zagreb and “Srpski glas” in Zadar), rouse conflicts between Croats and Serbs. Such attitude of Serbian politicians causes a revolt amongst Croats, first among them members of the Croatian Party of Right (pravaši), a group around J. Franko”[66]. Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic conclude with regrets that Croatian-Serbian coalition was “damaging for the later history of Croatia”, because it brought it into a state with other South Slavs “in which the hegemony and authority was taken by the Serbs. The Serbs suffocated national feelings of all non-Serbian peoples, Croats as well”[67].

While the Croats and Muslims waited for Frantz Ferdinand to take the throne and reorganize the Hapsburg Monarchy, “Serbs with the help of Belgrade were working on assassinating him, starting a war and conquering Bosnia and Herzegovina by force”[68]. Neither Potrebica nor Pavlicevic could avoid talking about Serbian victories in 1914, but they added that Serbs after the Battle of Cer “massacred Croatian soldiers and soldiers of other nationalities in the Austro-Hungarian army. According to some data, out of 65,000 prisoners of war, only 25,000 of them were handed over to the Italian authorities in Valona. The rest of them were murdered during the retreat in 1915/1916 from Niš to Valona”[69]. An American journalist testified how the Serbs treated their prisoners. In Niš he noticed that Austro-Hungarian captive soldiers were walking around the streets in uniforms and unescorted[70]. However, the authors of Croatian textbooks try to show the continuity of “Serbian crimes” over the Croats, starting from 16th to the end of 20th century, using completely fabricated data. The textbook does not say anything about how Serbs in Austro-Hungarian Empire were persecuted, or about enormous human and material losses that Serbia suffered during the war.

Potrebica and Pavlicevic emphasize the importance of the decisions made by the Croatian Parliament on 29th October 1918 which “based on Croatian state law” severed all relations with Austria and Hungary and proclaimed Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia “an independent state which joins the State of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs. In a text titled Serbia conquers other people’s territory it reads, inter alia, on how the Serbian army looted Croatian areas, and in a text titled State of national oppression of non-Serbian peoples it is stressed that the Yugoslav state was foreign to Croats and the in it they were under “constant terror and various persecutions”[71].

The last, fourth edition of this textbook was published in 1995, and after that appeared a textbook written by Damir Agicic[72]. This textbook was used until 2001/2002 (only the publisher was changed in 1998), and compared to the previous one it did not bring anything new, because Agicic just repeated the story already told by Potrebica and Pavlicevic. For him it was a success that instead of Hungarian, the official language in Croatia was Latin[73], and he considers Zemun to be the most eastern of Croatian towns[74]. Agicic gave more attention to Ante Starcevic, because he had opposed “the Great-Serbian expansionism” and for his “contributions in Croatian history of the second half of 19th century he was named the Father of Homeland”[75]. Ante Starcevic (1823 – 1896) was, in fact, the father of Croatian extreme nationalism, who claimed that the Serbs were “despicable slave creatures”, and a “spawn that should be hacked with an axe”[76]. Starcevic was the ideologist of the extermination of Serbs and as such a role model to the Croatian fascist regime (1941 – 1945). Croatian historian and politician Franjo Racki (1828 – 1894) said that Starcevic’s book Slavic-Serbian breed was “a new Gospel” for Croatian youth[77]. If we look at the general attitude in the modern Croatian society, which is almost daily manifested in different way, the works and teachings of Ante Starcevic have a lasting worth for the Croats.

In 2001, Damir Agicic wrote a new textbook for the seventh grade of primary school, this time together with Snježana Koren and Magdalena Najbar-Agicic[78]. Compared to the one he did by himself, this one was somewhat more moderate, but not deprived of old stereotypes. In unit Serbia and Montenegro in the first half of 19th century they repeated already mentioned comments on the Nacertanije, and also gave attention to the absolutist rule of Prince Miloš. Also, they portrayed an image of Belgrade in mid-19th century with a comment that there had been 14 mosques in town, and just one church[79]. This textbook did not stress Starcevic’s negative attitude towards the Serbs, but towards Austria, quoting his speech which ends with words “God and Croats”[80].

Non-scientific representation of Croatian past, with maximally expanding the borders of the Croatian ethnic area and constant emphasis on “the Croatian historical and state right”, is also a basic characteristic of the first textbook for the third grade of grammar school in independent Croatia[81]. The authors of this textbook belong to the same historiographical school as the authors of most previous textbooks, which is quite obvious from their contents. Intolerance against Serbs is also clearly expressed here. Trpimir Macan and Franko Miroševic write that not even after “gaining independence, the propagators of Great Serbia did not rest. Both in local and foreign media, they fuelled territorial pretensions. The spirit of Nacertanije was ever-present in both intellectual and political circles. Obsessed with the idea, with untruths and myths they glorify their past, especially the time of Dušan’s Empire. They claim it expanded to Bosnia and Croatia (Slavonia and Dalmatia), even Bohemia, although we know that the western borers of Dušan’s Empire did not cross the Drina”[82]. Still, this textbook brings something new. While the authors of all other Croatian textbooks dealing with this period think that Serbia has nothing to look for beyond borders defined in 1878, Macan and Miroševic do not share that opinion. They think that Serbia has nothing to look for outside the 1833 borders, so they even consider Serbian liberation wars (1875 – 1878) to be conquests. They write that even after those wars, Serbs begun “to persecute Albanians committing genocide over them. They burned their houses in the attempts to force them out of Serbia”[83].

In 1998, Andelko Mijatovic joined Trpimir Macan and Franko Miroševic[84], and this textbook was last published in 2001, which indicates that yet another textbook with very negative attitude towards the Serbs was in Croatian classrooms for a long time (1993/1994 – 2001/2002).

In the dawn of a new century, another textbook for the third grade of grammar school was printed[85], which was not as militant as its predecessors. The authors of this textbook write that until 1991, Vice-Roy Jelacic was not considered to be a positive figure, and that his role was exaggerated after 1991, and they conclude that he had in fact been a loyal soldier who had done what the Emperor commanded, which was expected of him[86].

Still, regardless of the Croatian Democratic Union party losing the authority in 2000, the impression is that there is no significant difference between the textbooks published during their rule and those published after the 2000 elections. Almost all authors of Croatian textbooks are burdened with the same stereotypes (with one or two exceptions), although some of them tried to have a nicer “packaging”. It would be interesting to study the Croatian textbooks written after the Croatian Democratic Union came back to power in late 2003, and which were still unavailable to the institute which conducted this research.

By the way, most of the authors of Croatian history textbooks claim that Ruder Boškovic, Josif Runjanin, Mihajlo Latas, Petar Preradovic, Svetozar Borojevic and Nikola Tesla were Croats. If they do not say explicitly that they were Croats, then they look for a neutral solution, so Latas was born in “an Orthodox Christian family from Krajina”, and Tesla is “our countryman”. Most of the time they avoid the word Serb, which is completely in accordance with the notion that everyone born on the territory of today’s Croatia is a Croat, regardless to when he or she was born.

The authors of textbooks covering history after 1918 are also burdened by rigging of historical facts and intolerance towards Serbs. Everyday political rhetoric, inappropriate for the academic world and textbooks that should have an educational purpose is even more present here, and some observations are very similar to the hate speech very typical for the Croatian society at the time when the textbooks were created.

The author of the history book for the seventh grade of primary school in independent Croatia thinks that on 1st December 1918 Croatia “lost its statehood which it until then had for over a thousand years”[87]. The bloodshed in Zagreb on 5th December 1918 announced the position of Croats in the new state. The celebration of unification organised by Serbs involved “insulting Croats and anything Croatian”, and Croats came and started shouting against the Monarchy and the King, the police intervened and killed 15 and wounded 20 people[88].

After 1918 Croats were constantly under the attacks of the “Great-Serbian hegemony”, and Stjepan Radic opposed it. He was “neither a separatist, nor an enemy of the Yugoslav state”. Still, he was murdered, and after the assassination Puniša Racic got out of the building shouting: “Long live Great Serbia!” This event showed “the whole world how uncivilised that society was and what sort of morally unhealthy environment it was”[89].

One gets the impression that Croats were never in a worse condition then in the common state with the Serbs, i.e. that nobody had ever oppressed them as brutally as the Serbs had after 1918. Ivo Peric claims that it was enough for someone to say publically that he was a Croat to get killed[90]. In unit Position of Croats in the shackles of centralism and Great-Serbian hegemony Peric says that the Serbs “from the beginning thought the common state, created in 1918, to be an extended Serbia (i.e. enlarged, Great Serbia), in which they felt and acted as Great Serbs, suppressing and oppressing other peoples”. Also, it says that Croatia was economically exploited in various ways[91].

The creator of the theory of an alleged economic exploitation of Croatia was Rudolf Bicanic whose book Economic basis of the Croatian issue (Zagreb, 1938) had a political background and where he presented a series of arbitrary and incorrect data. What sort of “exploitation” it was tells us the information that from 1918 to 1938 almost twice as much was invested in industry in Croatia (with Slavonia and Dalmatia), then in industry in Serbia. Serbian economists pointed out the flaws of Bicanic’s book already in 1940[92].

In unit Croatian issue asks to be solved Ivo Peric stresses that Croats have had their own state since 4th century and that in 1102 with a special agreement they recognised the Arpad dynasty “the right on Croatian-Hungarian crown”, and then in 1527 with a similar special agreement recognised to the Habsburg dynasty “the right of heredity to the Croatian-Hungarian crown”, which was valid until October 1918 when the Croatian Parliament decided to sever “all previous state and legal relations with Austria and Hungary”. The author adds that with the established State of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs “with Zagreb as the capital, and Croatia as a part of the state (from 29th October to 30th November 1918) kept its autonomy and with it important characteristics of its statehood”. All of that disappeared with the Vidovdan Constitution in 1921, and then “Croatia for the first time in a thousand years lost its statehood and it ended the line”. The Croats could not make peace with it “because, exposed to the Great-Serbian hegemony, became unequal, oppressed, humiliated”[93]. Ivo Peric was not the only writer of Croatian history textbooks who believes in the truth about the myth of Croatian a thousand years long statehood, just as he was not the only one avoiding using comparative method while presenting the history of Serbs and Croats, because he also says nothing about Serbia also losing its statehood in 1918, and a real one, not fictional.

The textbook frequently mentions “the Great-Serbian hegemony”, which confirms that this stereotype became a very gratifying subject of study “not just in psychology of politics, but also socio-linguistics”[94]. The authors of Croatian textbooks should know that Austro-Hungarian diplomacy had the pivotal role in spreading the myth of “Great Serbia”, trying to discredit Serbia in order to prevent the creation of a Serbian state within the ethnic borders and to find justification for all measures it was to take against Serbia in the future. Also, the Roman Catholic Church also had an important role in spreading the myth of “Great Serbia” justifying their aggressive politics towards Southeast Europe calling it a mission in the name of European civilisations, i.e. a barrier to the inroad of “Byzantines”[95].

Peric writes that after Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Pact there were demonstrations in the country and he concludes that he Yugoslav army was in shambles after the April War 1941[96]. However, he does not say that the demonstrations were organised almost exclusively in Serbian towns, i.e. towns with Serbian majority[97]. Also, he avoids mentioning that the combat readiness of the Yugoslav army was significantly weakened by actions of Croatian officers and soldiers, who started rebellions in the army and joined the attackers, killing and capturing Serbian officers and soldiers[98].

An independent state was a desire of the Croatian people, and since Germans and Italians knew of it, they provided assistance for Croats. In the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Ustashas “exercised terror over Jews and Gypsies, and over Serbs, especially because of their earlier hegemonic politics and the appearance of Chetniks and their crimes in Croatia”[99]. This is the only sentence in the Croatian textbook for the eighth grade of primary school where author Ivo Peric mentioned the suffering of the Serbian people in the NDH. Therefore, the Ustasha crimes were just a reaction to “Serbian hegemonic politics” prior to 1941, and reaction to the appearance of Chetniks and their “crimes”. However, we can see from many documents created by the leadership of the NDH that the genocide over Serbs started before Partisans and Chetniks appeared and that it was an organised state work[100]. Although one of the main inspirers and organisers of the genocide over Serbs was the Roman Catholic Church headed by Archbishop of Zagreb Alojzije Stepinac[101], Ivo Peric defends him quoting an excerpt from Stepinac’s letter which should show how he condemned war crimes. However, from the contents of that letter it is obvious that he did not protest because of the deportation of Serbs to camps, but because of the cruel way it had been done, so he proposes “a more humane and considerate way”[102].

In unit Resistance and fight of anti-fascist Croatia Peric writes about the appearance of armed groups in Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia, without discussing the ethnic composition of those units. In a very small part dedicated to the Second World War, the Serbs were mentioned only in few places and not as the leaders in the anti-fascist struggle, but as enemies against whom the Croatian anti-fascists fought, with a conclusion that the anti-fascist struggle was waged “mostly in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina”[103]. Considering the fact that the terror over Serbs in the NDH was hardly mentioned, it is no surprise that the author of this textbook not even once discusses the number of murdered and converted Serbs in the NDH, or the number of Serbs who were exiled from fascist Croatia. However, under the title Terror of Chetniks in Croatian areas until the end of the war Peric writes that Serbs committed “terrible genocide over Croats and Muslims, wanting to create ethnically pure Serbian areas in some parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. They planned a complete annihilation of Croatian and Muslim population in other areas as well according to the Great-Serbian ideology. Their aim was to create Great Serbia…” Peric concludes that what the Serbs failed to achieve then, they tried to do with “the aggression” on the Republic of Croatia in 1991[104].The author adds that in Bleiburg and at the “Way of the Cross” between 50,000 and 300,000 Croats were killed and died[105].

Ivo Peric’s textbook is a classic example of switching criminals and victims. Many testimonies by Croatian allies, some of them who were appalled by the cruelty of Ustasha crimes, show how unrealistic Peric’s views are[106]. A testimony of the magnitude of the genocide was also given by Hitler’s special envoy for the Balkans, Herman Neubacher, who in his memoirs wrote that according to reports he had received around 750,000 Serbs were murdered in the NDH[107].

The Croatian state was created at the Third Session of ZAVNOH (National Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Croatia) in 1944 in Topusko, and then it joined the Yugoslav federation. However, it was not a true federalism, because all of the authority was in Belgrade, and the new state “declaring one’s ethnicity was supressed, especially for non-Serbs”. So, the oppression of Croats continued even in the socialist Yugoslavia and “in order to supress and hinder Croats, they were unjustly and purposely blamed for the Ustasha war crimes. The number of Ustasha crimes was so exaggerated that it seemed only in Jasenovac more Serbs had been murdered then the number of all of human victims in the whole of Yugoslavia. Although Croats were massively participating in the anti-fascist armed struggle (1941 – 1945), including against Ustashas, those facts were deliberately overlooked”[108].

Dissatisfaction of the Croatian people led to some demands in 1971 which were initially supported even by Tito, but under pressure of “anti-Croat (hegemonic, centralistic and Great-Serbian) forces” he forced the Croatian leadership to resign[109].

All textbook authors dealing with contemporary history, without any exception, claim that the main and only factor to blame for the Yugoslav crisis and war was “the Great-Serbian politics”. Ivo Peric believes that Serbia was unsatisfied with the abolishment of Kosovo and Vojvodina’s autonomy, so it wanted to strengthen centralism and achieve its “hegemonic” goals. “Everyone became clear that such expansionistic Serbian politics could only have two goals: either that the whole of Yugoslavia becomes an expanded Serbia (under Yugoslav name) or to create Great Serbia”. The Croatian people in the Yugoslav state were “constantly exposed to Great-Serbian aspirations to dissolve and destroy it”[110].

“In their enslaving expansionism, supporters of Great Serbia were also captivated by insane genocide politics, i.e. to create ethnically pure areas in the territories they wanted to take (and that meant exiling or killing Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbian peoples from those areas, leaving and populating only Serbs there)”. Ivo Peric concludes that Serbs committed “much and even too much evil in Croatia”, because they “tried to kill as many people as possible and destroy as much material assets as possible. They used rocket launchers, guns, bombs and rockets to destroy churches, monuments, hospitals, schools, factories, residential and administrative buildings. They even attacked ambulance cars, although those cars were always marked with a red cross. For those non-civilised attackers no international signs were valid, nor did they have any care. They slaughtered, shot, hanged, massacred, looted, burned, took people to numerous collection camps, not just in Glina and Knin and other towns, but also to Serbia”[111].

On page 147 of the textbook there is a photograph of Hans Dietrich Genscher with a caption: “A great friend of independent and sovereign Croatian state”.

It is important to mention that each history book in Croatia had to go through a certain procedure at the authorised ministry, i.e. its use was authorised by the Croatian government. Ivo Peric’s textbook did not have any problems in that regard and although it was very militant and filled with a series of untruths and stereotypes, it was in use for eight years (1992/1993 – 199/2000). In 1996 the publisher was changed, and compared to the previous editions (1992 -1995) the units covering the war were supplemented. So in the last edition of Peric’s textbook it reads that the Croats intended to peacefully put under control “the occupied territories”, but the Serbs kept violating truces and agreements, so Croatia was forced to take armed actions. There is a photograph of a boy without a leg with a caption: “In attacks of Great-Serbian aggressors many children were killed or wounded. This three-year-old boy from Bihac became disabled after the enemy attacked his town”. At the end of the textbook, the unit titled A country of rich future Ivo Peric writes that Croatia “has hard-working and capable people, their numbers augmented by Croatian returnees from diaspora. Croatia is a very beautiful country. Its natural beauties make it one of the most beautiful countries in the world. On the basis of all of this, we can draw a conclusion that Croatia is a country of a rich and happy future”[112].

The textbook does not even mention the exile of over 200,000 Serbs from the Republic of Serbian Krajina in 1995, or the crimes committed over them during the war.

In 2000, three new history textbooks for the eighth grade of primary school were published in Croatia. The textbook by Vesna Ðuric is very similar to Peric’s. Still, unlike Ivo Peric who did not mention at all who organised the assassination of King Aleksandar in 1934, Vesna Ðuric writes that it was done by the Ustashas and the VMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation)[113]. She mentions Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška where “tens and tens of thousands of people” were killed[114], and at “the Way of the Cross” and Bleiburg “several tens of thousands of Croats lost their lives”[115]. Just like Ivo Peric, Vesna Ðuric hardly mentions the Ustasha crimes over the Serbs in the NDH, does not reveal that the Serbs were the basis of the anti-fascist struggle and exaggerates the sufferings of Croats. Her attitude towards Ustashas and Chetniks is illustrated by captions under photographs of Ante Pavelic and Dragoljub Mihajlovic. The caption under Pavelic’s photo reads: “Ante Pavelic (1889 – 1959), lawyer, the leader of the Croatian Party of Rights and founder of the Ustasha movement”, and under Mihajlovic’s it reads: “Draža Mihajlovic (1893 – 1946), a Chetnik duke, collaborator with Germans and Italians. Under his command numerous crimes over civilian population were committed. Arrested in 1946 and sentenced to death by firing squad as a war criminal”[116].

Nothing new is said also in the textbook by Maja Brkljacic, Tihomir Ponoš and Dario Špelic[117], and the textbook by Snježana Koren has not been deprived of stereotypes as well[118]. Still, unlike the authors of all previous textbook for the eighth grade of primary school, Snježana Koren dared to write that the Ustasha regime “also conducted persecutions on the ethnic basis, which were primarily aimed against the Serbs”. She says that several concentration camps were established “where several tens of thousands of people of various ethnicities lost their lives (accurate number unknown), and the most notorious was the one in Jasenovac. In the camps people were subjected to forced labour, torture and mass executions. Most of the Croatian people condemned the crimes over their fellow countrymen”[119]. Snježana Koren writes that in the beginning there were more Partisan units “in the areas with Serbian population, which suffered Ustasha persecutions”[120].

Still, besides some progress towards objective presentation of the past, there is no significant difference between Snježana Koren and the authors of other textbooks for the eighth grade of primary school. Although she is not as nearly militant as the authors of other textbooks, she is also burdened with numerous stereotypes, which is apparent from units dealing with the last decade of 20th century. The political crisis in Yugoslavia was “caused by Serbia”, and soon it was apparent “that the true aim of Miloševic’s politics was in fact conquering Bosnia and Herzegovina. From April 1992, Serbian forces started even more bloody war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which soon grew into a tragic conflict of the three local peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs”[121]. Snježana Koren’s textbook was published several times in the following years.

All untruths that Ivo Peric said in the textbook for the eighth grade of primary school he repeated in his textbook for the fourth grade of grammar school, with a difference that his hate speech is even more present here, i.e. more suitable to the age of grammar school seniors. He writes that in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia the Serbian police “molested Croats senselessly by stomping on them, hitting them with clubs, tying them to rocks, poking them with needles and nails, pulling their fingernails out, burning their naked bodies with candles, and torturing them with hunger and thirst”[122]. Also, Serbian gendarmes would beat Croatian children and shot on churchgoers cursing their “Catholic God”[123]. The Serbian Orthodox Church was against a concordat, because it wanted the Roman Catholic Church “to work in difficult and legally unregulated conditions, so the effects of its work would be less efficient. The opposition of the Serbian Orthodox Church was also caused by its desire to have more space for converting Catholics into Orthodox Christianity and its hatred for Catholics”[124].

In order for “Great Serbia supporters” to have an excuse for “the aggression”, in January 1991 they showed a film, Truth about arming the HDZ in Croatia prepared by JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) film makers “using mostly forgeries”. On 1st and 2nd May 1991, Serbs in Borovo Selo “savagely massacred Croatian policemen: first they tortured them, cut theirs eyes out, and then cut their throats. Those savageries of Serbian terrorist showed their utmost inhumanity and their endless pathological hatred of Croats”[125]. The textbook praises “great moral and political support” shown to Croatia by Helmut Kohl, Hans Dietrich Genscher and Pope John Paul II[126]. Peric’s fourth grade grammar school textbook was used for six years (1993/1994 – 1998/1999), only the publisher was changed in 1997. Just like in new editions of the eight grade primary school textbook, units covering the 1991 -1995 war in the post-war editions of the fourth grade grammar school textbooks were supplemented, inter alia with a hypocritical statement that the Serbs during the offensive on the Serbian Krajina left that area on their own accord “although from the very beginning of Operation Storm the President of the Republic of Croatia sent them a message over radio and television not to leave their homes, that all their civil and human rights would be guaranteed, and that all those who lay their arms would have amnesty, except for those who committed war crimes”[127].

In 1999, a textbook for the fourth grade of grammar school by Suzana Lecek, Magdalena Najbar-Agicic, Damir Agicic and Tvrtko Jakovina was published. Compared to the previous textbooks dealing with contemporary history, the group of authors almost did not give anything new. They try to justify the crimes over Serbs with the fact that Ustashas “answered with equal means to the historical experience of violence by the Great-Serbian regime of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and Chetnik resistance after the NDH had been established: with terror over the whole people”. This is the first textbook to give an approximate figure of the people murdered in Jasenovac – “around 50,000”[128]. We do not need to mention that all authors of Croatian textbooks dealing with contemporary history believe that a significant percentage of the people murdered in Jasenovac were Croats.

We can see that the authors of Croatian history textbooks are not well-informed not when it comes to the past, but also the present, when the authors of this textbook note that Croats are displeased with the work of the International Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia because the accused are “mostly Croats”[129]. Still, we have to ask ourselves: are they just being misinformed or deliberately give incorrect information?

All of the bad characteristics of previously mentioned textbooks were shared also by the textbook by Hrvoje Matkovic and Franko Miroševic. There is nothing especially new in it, except that they went further in the estimates of the people killed in Jasenovac – “around 80,000”[130]. Matkovic and Miroševic write that there were especially many Partisan units in areas with Serbian population, because a large part of the Serbian population could not accept “the establishment of a Croatian state and did not except it, regardless of the Ustashas”. They believe that Ustasha persecutions only augmented Serbian hostility towards the NDH “which soon increased the gathering of rebels”[131].

It is important to stress that all history textbooks published in Zagreb after 1991 were used in Croatian schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina until 2001 when in Mostar local textbooks were printed, with textbooks from Zagreb as models[132]. Along with Mostar historians, the authors of textbooks published in Zagreb participated in the writing of these textbooks, and as it is usually the case with Croats from Herzegovina, the textbooks from Mostar are even more radical than those from Zagreb.

At end of this attempt to point out the untruths, myths, stereotypes and prejudice so abundant in Croatian history textbooks (with one or two exceptions), if we wanted to summarise in several sentences what their authors wrote it would go something on the lines of this: the Croats are one of the oldest European peoples, probably of Iranian origin, who in 7th century populated a vast area from the Adriatic Sea (with islands) in the south to the Drava and Danube in the north, and from Slovenian counties in the west to the Drina and Drim in the east. On that territory the Croats established several states, with two states later on developing independently: Croatia and Bosnia. The first one joined with Hungary with a special agreement in 1102, and the continuity of its statehood was not interrupted not even after 1526. The Croats are a part of Western-European Roman Catholic civilisations with its border at the Drina River, with some members of dualist heresy present in Bosnia. There were no members of the Orthodox denomination on the Croatian ethnic area until the Vlachs, descendants of the ancient population of the Balkans, came together with the Turks. Together with the Turks they killed, looted and enslaved Croatian people and destroyed legacies of the Croatian Roman Catholic culture. Under the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church and modern Serbian state, the Vlachs were turned into Serbs in 19th century, playing a role of the fifth column in Croatia and serving the interests of Great Serbia. Members of the Croatian Party of Rights led by Ante Starcevic opposed their destructive politics. Besides the Vlachs, the Serbs on the territory west from the Drina were also Croats who converted to Orthodox Christianity during the Turkish rule. The thousand-year-old continuity of the Croatian state was interrupted by the Serbs in 1918, when the most difficult period in the history of Croatian people started. The Great-Serbian hegemonic politics oppressed Croats ethnically, politically, culturally and economically as nobody else before. The proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in 1941 fulfilled the wishes of the Croatian people, and individual persecutions of the Serbian population in the NDH were just a reaction on the previous Great-Serbian politics, and rebels who could not accept the Croatian state. The Croats participated in anti-fascist struggle en masse, and they were subjected to Chetnik crimes and genocide. The exploitation of Croatia continued even in the socialist Yugoslavia, because all of the authority was still in Belgrade, and this state, as the monarchy before it, was a dungeon for Croatian people. Everything the Serbs failed to do in the history so far they tried to achieve with the aggression on the Republic of Croatia in 1991. Their aim was again to create Great Serbia, purified from Croats and other non-Serbian peoples. Still, the Croats won again and resisted the Serbian aggression and genocide.

Based on everything said we can conclude that the Rights Party’s idea from the second half of 19th century, which were one of the ideological bases for the genocide over Serbs (1941 – 1945), are still present in the whole of Croatian society, Croatian historiography included. The authors of Croatian history textbooks (with rare exceptions) presented the history of Croats in a way not nearly close enough to the real historical development. Besides creating an image of the glory and greatness of the Croatian people and state in the past amongst the new generation of Croats, the authors of Croatian textbooks also nurture an image of the Serbs as a genocidal people and the worst Croatian enemies. Such indoctrination creates a general intolerance for Serbs, which has lasted continuously from 1991 with more or less intensity. Besides that, with constant mention of the Bay of Boka, Herzegovina, Bosnia and Syrmia as Croatian lands, the authors of Croatian history textbooks express open pretensions towards territories of neighbouring peoples and states. In that way they create the perception that potential conflict around, for example, Syrmia or Bosnia would not be an act of aggression on someone else’s land, but a legitimate struggle for liberating one’s own, which deliberately prepares generations of Croats for future actions of the Croatian state.


By same author: Funds and collections of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatian archives and museums



[1] The paper was written after spending one month at the Institute for International Textbook Research “Georg Eckert” in Braunschweig (april 2006). Published in the Collected History Papers of the Serbian Cultural and Publishing Society, vol. 73, Novi Sad 2006, pg. 211 – 236.

[2] Ivo Makek, History for the Sixth Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1992.

[3] Ibid, pg. 11

[4] Ibid, pg. 37 – 40

[5] Vladimir Corovic, History of Bosnia, Banja Luka – Belgrade 1999, (reprint of 1940 edition), pg. 127

[6] Ivo Makek, named book, pg. 46

[7] Ibid

[8] Byzantine sources for the history of Yugoslav peoples, vol. II (edited by Božidar Ferjancic), Belgrade 1959, pg. 33 – 35; History Atlas (chief editor Miloš Blagojevic), Belgrade 1997, pg. 35

[9] Ivo Makek, named book, pg. 53 - 56

[10] Nada Klaic, History of Croats in Early Middle Ages, Zagreb 1971, pg. 31 – 33

[11] Ivo Makek, named book, pg. 86

[12] Ibid, pg. 146

[13] Dušanka Dinic-Kneževic, Migrations of South-Slavic Populations to Dubrovnik in Middle Ages, Novi Sad 1995, pg. 254 - 258

[14] Mavro Orbin, Kingdom of Slavs, Belgrade 1968, pg. 197

[15] Jeremija D. Mitrovic, Serbs of Dubrovnik, Belgrade 1992, pg. 26 and 31

[16] Ivo Makek, named book, pg. 93

[17] Ibid, pg. 153 - 154

[18] Boris Nilevic, Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina Until the Renewal of the Pec Patriarchate in 1557, Sarajevo 1990, pg. 144 -171

[19] Ivo Makek, named book, pg. 80, 152 - 153

[20] Ibid, pg. 123

[21] Radovan Samardžic, Serbian People under Turkish Rule, History of Serbian People, vol. III-1, Belgrade, 1993, pg. 102

[22] Benedikt Kuripešic, Travelling through Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania in 1530 (translation Ðorde Pejanovic), Sarajevo 1950, pg. 102

[23] Radoslav M. Grujic, Apologia of Serbian People in Croatia and Slavonia and Their Main Characteristics, Zagreb 2002 (reprint of 1909 edition), pg. 55

[24] Radovan Samardžic, named book, pg. 100 - 101

[25] Milan Vasic, Vlachs in the Ottoman Border Regions in Serbia and Bosnia, Islamization on the Balkan Peninsula – Selected Works of Milan Vasic, vol. I (edited by Rade Mihaljcic), Banja Luka – Istocno Sarajevo 2005, pg. 198

[26] Frane Sabalic, History for 4th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1996

[27] Ibid, pg. 7

[28] Neven Budak and Vladimir Posavec, Birth of Modern Croatia and Europe – from the Migration of Peoples to Absolutism: History Textbook for 6th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1997

[29] Ibid, pg. 27 – 28

[30] Ibid, pg. 75

[31] Ibid, pg. 136

[32] Neven Budak in cooperation with Marija Mogorovic Crljenko, History Textbook for 6th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 2001

[33] Ibid, pg. 57

[34] Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek, Croatia and the World from 5th to 18th Century, Zagreb 1994

[35] Ibid, pg. 57

[36] Radivoj Radic, Serbs Before and After Adam – History of a Misuse: A Word Against “New-Romanticists”, Belgrade 2003, 2005

[37] Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek, named book, pg. 87

[38] Nada Klaic, named book, pg. 17 - 22

[39] Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek, named book, pg. 87

[40] Ibid, pg. 165

[41] Ibid, pg. 87

[42] Ibid, pg. 124

[43] Momcilo Spremic, Despot Ðurad Brankovic and His Age, Belgrade – Banja Luka 1999, pg. 353 – 354

[44] Franko Miroševic and Franjo Šanjek, named book, pg. 184 – 185, 273

[45] Ibid, pg. 266

[46] Franko Miroševic, Franjo Šanjek and Andelko Mijatovic, History for 2nd Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 1997

[47] Vladimir Posavec and Tatjana Medic, Creation of European Civilization and Culture (5ht – 18th century): Textbook for 2nd Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 1996

[48] Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic, History for 7th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1992, pg. 5

[49] Ibid, pg. 41

[50] Ibid, pg. 145 – 146

[51] Ibid, pg. 130

[52] Milorad Ekmecic, Creation of Yugoslavia 1790 – 1918, vol. II, Belgrade 1989, pg. 255 and 258.

[53] Ibid, pg. 145

[54] Tomislav Kraljacic, Kalaj’s Regime in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1882 – 1903, Banja Luka – Srpsko Sarajevo 2000, pg. 83

[55] Jovan Radonic, Roman Curia and South-Slavic Countries from 16th to 19th Century, Belgrade 1950, pg. 688

[56] Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic, named book, pg. 52 - 54

[57] Milorad Ekmecic, named book, vol. I, pg. 32

[58] Ibid, pg. 427

[59] Ibid, pg. 47 – 48, 423 - 425

[60] Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic, named book, pg. 64

[61] Ibid, pg. 113

[62] Ibid, pg. 78

[63] Milorad Ekmecic, named book, vol. I, pg. 469 - 484

[64] Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic, named book, pg. 87 – 88

[65] Ibid, pg. 104

[66] Ibid, pg. 133 – 134

[67] Ibid, pg. 144

[68] Ibid, pg. 149

[69] Ibid, pg. 167

[70] John Reed, War in Serbia 1915, Cetinje 1975, pg. 25

[71] Filip Potrebica and Dragutin Pavlicevic, named book, pg. 174 - 179

[72] Damir Agicic, History for 7th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1996

[73] Ibid, pg. 28

[74] Ibid, pg. 79

[75] Ibid, pg. 65

[76] Vasilije Krestic, Through Genocide to Great Croatia, Novi Sad – Belgrade 199, pg. 36

[77] Vasilije Krestic, History of Serbs in Croatia and Slavonia 1848 – 1918, Belgrade 1995, pg. 242

[78] Damir Agicic, Snježana Koren and Magdalena Najbar-Agicic, History for 7th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 2001

[79] Ibid, pg. 75 – 79

[80] Ibid, pg. 111

[81] Trpimir Macan and Franko Miroševic, Croatia and the World in 18th and 19th Century, Zagreb 1993

[82] Ibid, pg. 153

[83] Ibid

[84] Franko Miroševic, Andelko Mijatovic and Trpimir Macan, History for 3rd Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 1998

[85] Magdalena Najbar-Agicic, Tvrtko Jakovina, Suzana Lecek, Stjepan Matkovic and Damir Agicic, History Textbook for 3rd Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 2000

[86] Ibid, pg. 168 – 169

[87] Ivo Peric, History for 8th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1992, pg. 13

[88] Ibid, pg. 20

[89] Ibid, pg. 41 – 45

[90] Ibid, pg. 66

[91] Ibid, pg. 63 – 65

[92] Kosta Mihailovic, Economic Aspect of the “Great-Serbian Politics”, Great Serbia – Truths, Misconceptions, Misuses: Proceedings from the International Scientific Meeting held at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) in Belgrade from 24th to 26th October 2002, Belgrade 2003, pg. 74 - 76

[93] Ivo Peric, named book, pg. 66

[94] Ljubomir Tadic, “Great-Serbian Hegemony” as a Stereotype in Late 20th and Early 21st Century, Great Serbia – Truths, Misconceptions, Misuses: Proceedings from the International Scientific Meeting held at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) in Belgrade from 24th to 26th October 2002, Belgrade 2003, pg. 144

[95] Slavko Terzic, Austro-Hungarian Myth on “Great Serbia” and its Modern Use, Great Serbia – Truths, Misconceptions, Misuses: Proceedings from the International Scientific Meeting held at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) in Belgrade from 24th to 26th October 2002, Belgrade 2003, pg. 315 and 319

[96] Ivo Peric, named book, pg. 85

[97] Velimir Terzic, Fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia 1941: Causes and Consequences of the Defeat, vol. I, Belgrade – Titograd 1984, pg. 442 - 443

[98] Ibid, vol. II, pg. 506 – 512

[99] Ivo Peric, named book, pg. 89

[100] Nikola Živkovic and Petar Kacavenda, Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia: Selected Documents, Belgrade 1998

[101] Viktor Novak, Magnum Crimen: Half Century of Clericalism in Croatia, Zagreb 1948; Rastislav V. Petrovic, Genocide with Vatican’s Blessings, Belgrade 1992; Gojo Riste Dakina, Genocide Over the Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia: Be Catholic or Die, Belgrade 1995; Marco Aurelio Rivelli, Archbishop of Genocide, Nikšic 1999; Veljko Ðuric Mišina, Serbian Orthodox Church in the Independent State of Croatia 1941 – 1945, Veternik 2002

[102] Ivo Peric, named book, pg. 91

[103] Ibid, pg. 98

[104] Ibid, pg. 110

[105] Ibid, pg. 112

[106] Lazo M. Kostic, Croatian Bestialities in the Second World War According to Statements of Pavelic’s Allies, Belgrade 1990

[107] Herman Neubacher, Special Task the Balkans, Belgrade 2005, pg. 50

[108] Ivo Peric, named book, pg. 129 - 130

[109] Ibid, pg. 136

[110] Ibid, pg. 140 – 142

[111] Ibid, pg. 150 - 152

[112] Ivo Peric, History for 8th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 1999, pg. 118 - 120

[113] Vesna Ðuric, History Textbook for 8th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 2000, pg. 68

[114] Ibid, pg. 92

[115] Ibid, pg. 115 - 116

[116] Ibid, pg. 47 and 113

[117] Maja Brkljacic, Tihomir Ponoš and Dario Špelic, History 8: Textbook for 8th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 2000

[118] Snježana Koren, History Textbook for 8th Grade of Primary School, Zagreb 2000

[119] Ibid, pg. 91

[120] Ibid, pg. 101

[121] Ibid, pg. 159 and 165

[122] Ivo Peric, Croatia and the World in 20th Century, Zagreb 1993, pg. 95

[123] Ibid, pg. 102

[124] Ibid, pg. 105 – 106

[125] Ibid, pg. 207 – 208

[126] Ibid, pg. 213 – 215

[127] Ivo Peric, History for 4th Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 1997, pg. 251

[128] Suzana Lecek, Magdalena Najbar-Agicic, Damir Agicic and Tvrtko Jakovina, History 4: Textbook for 4th Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 1999, pg. 167 – 168

[129] Ibid, pg. 289

[130] Hrvoje Matkovic and Franko Miroševic, History 4: Textbook for 4th Grade of Grammar School, Zagreb 2001, pg. 289

[131] Ibid, pg. 172

[132] Ivo Makek and Andija Nikic, History 6, Mostar 2001; Ivan Dukic, Krešimir Erdelja, Andrija Nikic and Igor Stojakovic, History 7, Mostar 2001; Hrvoje Matkovic, Božo Goluža and Ivica Šarac, History 8, Mostar 2001; Franko Miroševic, Franjo Šanjek, Andelko Mijatovic and Andrija Nikic, History 2, Mostar 2001; Stipe Jurkovic, Andelko Mijatovic, Franko Miroševic and Trpimir Macan, History 3, Mostar 2001; Hrvoje Matkovic, Franko Miroševic, Božo Goluža and Ivica Šarac, History 4, Mostar 2001