Croatian Patriots Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Franjo Tudjman’s Birth And Kevin Spacey as Tudjman In New Historical Documentary Film

Franjo Tudjman the First President of Independent Croatia (L), Kevin Spacey as Tudjman in “Once Upon a Time in Croatia” historical documentary film 2022 (R)

The meaning of life for Croats today, on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franjo Tudjman, we look and see his idea for us, and that is the sovereignty of the Croatian state and the sovereignty of the Croatian people. The Croatian people have until 1990 lived in communities with other nations for over 800 years, not by their own choice but by the violence of foreigners, but there has always in those centuries been a desire to establish a nation state. It was Dr. Franjo Tudjman who, like no other leader before him, succeeded in making this desire a reality as the bipolar political world of communist Yugoslavia collapsed. He succeeded largely because he knew how strongly Croatian emigration breathed with the idea of Croatian freedom, that he turned to us for help in the diaspora, that he believed in our pure love for a free homeland and for a free Croatian people, that he unconditionally gained our trust in him and in his work for Croatia and the Croats! 

For the sovereignty of the Croatian state and the Croatian people, the Croatian diaspora was in crucial times (late 1980’s and 1990’s) inseparable from Franjo Tudjman.

Villains and venomous people often say that Croatia’s freedom and independence would have come by itself, because they must in some way try to justify their own non-commitment to the fight for independence. However, all important research on this topic, all the facts and the whole truth show how very much Tudjman’s political considerations have led to the Republic of Croatia today being a country with its own territorial integrity and a respected member of the international community. Everything that happened in the 1990s under the leadership of the first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was the basis for everything that the Croatian people proudly inherited wherever they lived and for achieving Croatia’s national strategic goals, i.e., independence and partnership membership in Euro-Atlantic integration.

Today, 14 May 2022, it is very appropriate to look at Franjo Tudjman and his scientific works, his activities, his behaviour, his political development throughout his life and we see that he has always consistently and constantly dealt with key issues in the Croatian people. His solidarity with the idea of ​​a sovereign Croatian people has been present since his youth in the 1950s. In the 1990s, he turned his idea into a reality of happiness and joy and the merits for and of all of us, except the communists or operatives of the former communist Yugoslavia.

His speech on May 30, 1990, at the inaugural session of the Croatian Parliament was a recipe and instruction on what should be done to achieve an independent and sovereign Croatian state in every sense and get rid of communism and communist achievements rooted in the people and authorities under the coercion of the totalitarian regime of the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, as soon as Tudjman passed away in 1999, the former communists muscled themselves into the Croatian government and political leadership, again, belittling the Homeland War and the 1990’s fight against communist Yugoslavia and the aggressor Serbs. In these moves, Croatian emigrants became forcibly pushed away from their homeland just as they were during communist Yugoslavia, forcibly, and Croatian diplomacy largely ignored and belittled key Croatians in the diaspora who, together with homeland Croatia, built and created an independent Croatia.

The latter communist weaving in the leadership of Croatia continues to this day. When it comes to democratic elections and voting it seems that the muscle of former communists in Croatia is stronger than that of those who fought for it and lost blood for it! To change this in future more patriots must turn up for voting at general elections. The truth is that the make-up and mask the Croatian authorities wear is to try to show that they are cooperating with the diaspora and thus maintain a false impression of cooperation with the emigrants and the diaspora. When it comes to all the Croatian governments since year 2000 there is no relationship of real cooperation or reciprocal respect because the Croatian governments have not wanted that in the fullest meaning of the word and concept. After all the diaspora was and is overwhelmingly anti-communist and those in government are overwhelmingly descendants of communist stock – born and bred communist one might say.

Former communists and their squadrons know very well that if lustration happened many of them from the Croatian authorities would have been booted out from their powerful positions had Tudjman lived longer, so even today those who criticize them and want them out of power are suppressed and oppressed and intimidated. I know that personally and I’m sure of it. Late one night in June 1995, when Dr. Franjo Tudjman was visiting Australia, we met and talked about the transition to democracy from communism. Tudjman told me these words: “Ina, we have a lot to clean up from the ranks of the authorities once this war is over and the whole territory of Croatia is liberated, then lustration will follow …” He passed away in 1999, unfortunately, from serious illness about a year after the complete liberation of Croatia from the Serbian occupation in 1998! And after Tudjman’s death, nothing could be expected from Stjepan Mesic and Ivica Racan except the anti-Croatian equating of the victim with the aggressor, the false criminalisation of the Homeland War and slanderous propaganda against Croats wanting nothing to do with communist Yugoslavia!

Historian Josip Mihaljevic, a participant in the recent academic conference in Zagreb on May 5, 2022, in honour of the 100th anniversary of Tudjman’s birth, pointed out that the Croatian reform movement began to develop in the 1960s and culminated in 1971 with the Croatian Spring and the lobby to redefine Croatia’s and Croats’ position within Yugoslavia.

“Recently available sources of the Yugoslav security intelligence services, primarily Josip Broz Tito’s chief intelligence officer Ivan Miskovic,” Mihaljević said, “show that Franjo Tudjman and Veceslav Holjevac are the founders of the entire Croatian national movement (of 20th century).”

Croatian patriotic emigrants, the Croatian diaspora was the dominant element of victory in the Homeland War and in the creation of an independent Republic of Croatia because Franjo Tudjman wanted so, knowing that without us from the diaspora nothing would come out of the desire for an independent Croatia. And that is why we are eternally grateful to him, and the thanks comes from all of us living in someone else’s world in which we can proudly keep our heads up high because of Tudjman!

Tudjman was very interested in Croats from exile and emigration and considered Croatia’s attitude towards Croats abroad an important political issue, key to the success of Croatia’s millennial dream. The ties between Franjo Tudjman and the Croats who fled communist Yugoslavia after World War Two began in 1966 with his sabbatical visit to the United States. There, as a member of the Executive Board of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, he met with some of the most prominent Croatian emigrants, intellectuals, who lived and worked in the United States. These meetings were of an official nature related to the maintenance of Croatian culture in the diaspora and the like and had no political character, but later served the communist regime to prosecute Tudjman for allegedly plotting to overthrow communist Yugoslavia along with Croatian political emigrants (as mentioned in the book “Tudjman’s First Political Biography” James Sadkovich, 2010 on page 192). Tudjman’s further ties and contacts with Croats in exile and patriotic émigrés continued in the 1970s, when Tudjman, as a political dissident, was prevented from public activities and publishing in communist Yugoslavia.

With the help of a circle of intellectuals gathered around the Croatian emigrant newspaper Poruka slobodne Hrvatske (Free Croatia’s Message), Tudjman illegally (because his passport was confiscated immediately after the Croatian Spring of 1971) visited Sweden and Germany in 1977, where he met with Croatian politicians and activists in exile. After his passport was returned to him in 1987, Tudjman travelled to Canada the same year, where he lectured to emigrated Croats and met with representatives of emigrant organisations. Tudjman visited North America again in 1988 and held a series of lectures and meetings with Croatian emigrants in Canada and the United States. In Autumn of 1988, Tudjman visited Germany, where he also gave a series of lectures to expatriate Croats. A number of patriotic Croats living in South America and Australia in those years also joined Tudjman’s lectures and talks while in Canada and the United States, and the weekly newspapers “Hrvatski vjesnik” (Croatian Herald) from Melbourne Australia and “Spremnost” (Readiness) from Sydney stood out in those times of communist bans and censorship as media sources of information and thoughts of Franjo Tudjman and his associates who announced a new hope and a new possibility and the final liberation of Croatia from communist Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of 1989, a group of Croatian dissidents decided to launch an initiative to establish a democratic political party, a people’s movement that would later be called the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). This gathering, like all meetings regarding the creation of an independent Croatia at the time, was held in secret, usually in private cottages, away from the communist police. The support and share of Croat emigrants were fiercely and crucially present in this initiative. At the end of January and the beginning of February 1989, Tudjman wrote the Preliminary Draft of the Program Basis of the Croatian Democratic Union, in which he presented his views on the attitude towards Croatian emigrants. The HDZ’s program framework states that the Croatian people have special reasons for concern, but also because their historical misfortunes have scattered about a third of their national identity on all continents of the world. The continuation of this document emphasises that further disintegration should be prevented, and the return and connection with the homeland of such many emigrants that only a few nations have should be encouraged.

In June 1989, at the Jarun, Zagreb, the founding assembly of the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) elected Franjo Tudjman as the party’s first president. Tudjman’s proposal for the HDZ Program Declaration was also accepted, which included the issue of attitudes towards Croatian emigrants. The founding assembly was attended by many prominent emigrants who personally witnessed this huge step towards Croatian independence and on their return to the countries in which they lived began a movement of unprecedented masses of Croats and expatriates rushing to help in every sense and need to realise Tudjman’s or Croatian dream. So, soon after the founding of the HDZ, party branches began to form among Croatian emigrants. The first organisation of the HDZ in the diaspora was founded on July 9, 1989 in Zurich, Switzerland. On the occasion of Tudjman’s arrival at the Slavic Congress in Chicago in November 1989, HDZ branches were established in 16 cities on the North American continent. In the autumn of 1989, the first branches of HDZ were established in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and at the same time a significant number of party branches were formed in Australia. By establishing branches in all countries of the world inhabited by Croatian emigrants, HDZ had formed itself as a kind of global or planetary Croatian national movement to which most of us have contributed by voluntary work, sacrifice and/or financial generosity. Here, in Australia, we have dozens of Croats who outstandingly advocated for an independent and sovereign Croatia, a sovereign Croatian people, almost superhumanly advocated for a free homeland, and we have thousands and thousands of Croats who personally helped and contributed to the creation of an independent Croatian state and firm encouragement of Franjo Tudjman to proceed.

And for that reason, thousands upon thousands of us Croatian patriots in Australia say loudly today: happy 100th birthday, Franjo Tudjman! You still live in our hearts. Thank you!

Personally, I am glad that today we are among the first people living outside Croatia to see a new film by director Jakov Sedlar “Once Upon a Time in Croatia” in which the role of Franjo Tudjman is played by world-famous and award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. The world premiere of this film took place in Zagreb on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. This film is an amazing display and portrayal of Franjo Tudjman’s thinking and aspirations, vision, and circumstances of creating an independent Croatia and was successfully made despite the boycott and lack of funding by Croatian state institutions. This latter fact is added to the list of destructive efforts and moves of former communists and / or their children and grandchildren to trample and belittle everything we all fought for together, without them, in the 1990s. They know in their grumpiness and perversion that no one before Franjo Tudjman has done more than him for the lasting and world-recognised independence of Croatia! And that is why they are boycotting this film about him. And the rest of us? We shout eternal glory to Franjo Tudjman and thank him! Ina Vukic

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