- Hamburg, Germany
Miko Tripalo was “par excellence homo politicus” (Josip Šentija). Together with Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Tripalo was the most prominent figure among the Croatian communists in the reform movement known as the Croatian Spring - "The Man Who Symbolises '1971'". His political engagement is a paradigmatic example of the generations of Croats in the latter half of the 20th century who, from their initial commitment to the communist movement and the pursuit of its democratisation, ultimately "rejected the communist illusions and sent them into the dustbin of history."
Although originally from a wealthy family, Tripalo joined the Communist Party during the Second World War, since it was at the forefront of the anti-fascist struggle. After the war, he held many political functions. As the president of the youth organization in Croatia and both the student of youth organizations of Yugoslavia, he distinguished himself by his "broad-mindedness, openness and ability to gather and motivate people". In Zagreb, where, he had been working since the autumn of 1962, he introduced a new style of politics, and "democratised decision-making, involved young and educated people, and promoted vigour in cultural life." He thus gained a reputation as a reformist who became one of the most prominent Croatian politicians in the second half of the 1960s. In crucial year of 1971, Tripalo was a member of the Presidium of the League of Yugoslav Communists and a member of the Presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) representing Croatia. Despite being touted as one of the potential successors to Josip Broz Tito, Tripalo took a stand at the forefront of the Croatian reform movement and remained consistent in his reformist views and demands for the crucial social changes. With a group of similarly reform-minded politicians, Tripalo linked the effort to democratise the social and political system with the restructuring of the Yugoslav federation, which would replicate the republics as equal federal states.
After the fall of Croatian Spring, he was dismissed from all posts and excluded from public life. With the introduction of democratic changes in the 1990s, he again became politically engaged (in the 1990s he was one of the leaders of the National Coalition of the People's Party and the Croatian People's Party, and in 1994 he was joined the Social Democratic Action of Croatia). From 1993 until his death in 1995, he was a member of Parliament. The five years of Tripalo's public activity prior to his death were marked by patriotism and principle; in public appearances, his commitment to "liberalism, democracy and anti-fascism" was characterized by clear and unambiguous stances; he criticised the controversies of daily politics in the same way he had done in 1971. He consistently advocated Croatia's independence, defending Croatian sovereignty, and warned that Croatia’s best defence was democratic development, promotion of equality and a better life of all of its citizens.
In April 1993, Tripalo participated in the establishment of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, serving as a deputy chairman . In November 1993, he became chairman of the board of directors of the Open Society of Croatia. When Tripalo died on 11 December 1995, the Human Rights Award of the Croatian Helsinki Committee was named after him. A constant of Tripalo’s overall engagement is his striving to reject ideological orthodoxy, applied equally to rigid communism and nationalism: "Based on his understanding of politics, there was a belief that only the democratic and national rights of citizens could lead society out of stagnation and inter-ethnic conflict."
- Sinj, Croatia 21230
- Zagreb, Croatia
Dorin Tudoran (born June 30, 1945, Timișoara, Romania) is a Romanian poet, essayist, journalist, and prominent dissident. A resident of the United States since 1985, he is the author of more than fifteen books of poetry, essays, and interviews. Born in Timișoara, he attended the Mihai Viteazul High School in Bucharest, until 1963. He pursued his studies at the Faculty of Languages and Literature of the University of Bucharest, obtaining a B.A. degree in 1968. Tudoran made his literary debut in 1973 with a volume of poetry, Mic tratat de glorie (A Little Treatise of Glory). He was an editor at the journals Flacăra (The Flame) (1973–1974) and Luceafărul (The Morning Star) (1974–1980). From 1977 to 1981, he belonged to the ruling council of the Writers’ Union of Romania. Tudoran emerged from 1976 as one of those young authors who who were in conflict with the older generation of writers. In the early 1970s he had benefited from the relative relaxation of the regime to make frequent trips abroad, and thus was able to establish contacts with a number of employees of Radio Free Europe (RFE) and other Romanian exiles, which was to facilitate his later dissident activities. Tudoran’s dissidence originated in an internal conflict, which erupted during the Writers’ Union Conference in July 1981. Tudoran launched a series of polemical articles which exposed cases of plagiarism in works of writers from the group obedient to the party. He gradually evolved from his early views, restricted to problems of culture, to a critique of the communist regime. In 1983, Tudoran was the first dissident who radicalised himself to the point of asserting that arbitrariness of decision-making was part of the very essence of the communist system. Through his fellow dissident Mihai Botez, Tudoran acquired a channel of communication with RFE, which he used in the following years to propagate his views. In an interview which he granted to a Vienna-based correspondent of France Presse on 7 September 1983, Tudoran clearly stated that Ceauşescu’s regime constituted an absolute dictatorship, while the Party was reduced to a simple appendix to his personal rule. He also co-signed a memorandum, which Geza Szőcs initiated and addressed to the United Nations in order to draw attention to the violations of minority rights in Ceauşescu’s Romania (he was the first dissident of Romanian ethnic origin to do so). Nevertheless, Tudoran’s most important dissident text remains his seventy-page-long essay on the condition of intellectuals in communist Romania, Frig sau Frică? (Cold or Fear?). Written in early 1984, this essay was published in French in L’Alternative (co-edited by Mihnea Berindei), a periodical which closely covered the dissident movements in East-Central Europe. At that time, Tudoran’s work was evaluated as the most radical text of a Romanian dissident since Paul Goma. Deeming his situation in Romania to be hopeless after expressing such radical views, Tudoran decided to immigrate to the United States and submitted the appropriate application for his entire family to the US Embassy in April 1984. Although he was granted an entry visa in July 1984, the Romanian authorities denied him an emigration visa. To protest at his worsening situation, Tudoran went on hunger strike and wrote several open letters to Ceaușescu in which he explained his reasons for leaving Romania. He viewed emigration as a fundamental human right, seeing himself as a “political hostage” of a brutal dictatorship. An international campaign for him to be allowed to emigrate was launched. Coordinated by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Romania (with the direct involvement of Mihnea Berindei) and RFE, this campaign was supported by a number of well-known Western writers, historians, and political scientists. He finally got an exit visa on 2 July 1985, due to the pressure of the US Congress, which was reviewing Romania’s Most Favored Nation status. After his immigration, Tudoran worked for a while as an editor for Voice of America (1987–1990). His most important achievement was the creation of the periodical Agora, which was devoted to the propagation of an “alternative” vision of Romanian culture. Published in Romanian, this journal attracted many Romanian exiles and became a notable cultural phenomenon within the Romanian community abroad. After 1990, he started working for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a Washington, D.C.-based organisation. From 2004 to January 2007, Tudoran was editor in chief of Democracy at Large, a publication of that organisation. He also served as Senior Director for Communications and Research at IFES. After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Tudoran returned to Romania in 1990 as an envoy of IFES. He later worked as country director for the IFES office in Chișinău, Moldova. He helped launch two NGOs in the region – CENTRAS (Romania) and ADEPT (Moldova), and also served on their boards of directors. At present, Tudoran is a frequent editorialist, commentator, and analyst in a wide variety of international media outlets.
- Bucharest, Romania
Franjo Tuđman was born in Veliko Trgovišće, a village in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region, on 14 May 1922. He attended primary school in his hometown, and then secondary school and the commercial academy in Zagreb, where he participated in the national anti-monarchist democratic movement, for which he was arrested twice in 1940. During the Second World War in Yugoslavia, he participated in the antifascist Partisan movement in north-western Croatia. At the beginning of 1942, he became a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and by the end of the war, he advanced in the military hierarchy to the rank of major. At the beginning of 1945, he moved to Belgrade as one of the Croatian representatives in the General Staff of the National Liberation Army and the Partisan Contingents of Yugoslavia. Later, he had other duties in the Yugoslav People’s Army, and also was a member of the editorial board of the Military Encyclopaedia (http://www.tudjman.hr/zivotopis/).
In Belgrade in 1957, he completed his studies at the High Military Academy. In the same year, he published his book on military history and theory, Rat protiv rata. Partizanski rat u prošlosti i budućnosti (The war against war: the Partisan war in the past and future) (Tuđman 1957). In 1960, he was promoted to the rank of general, after which he left active military service and devoted himself to scholarly research, primary in the field of history, military theory, contemporary national history, philosophy of the history and international relations. Soon he returned to Zagreb and in 1961, with the support of the leadership of the League of Communists of Croatia Communist Union, was appointed the first director of the newly-established Institute of the History of the Labour Movement of Croatia (today’s the Croatian Institute of History) (Kolar Dimitrijević 2011). As of 1963, he taught at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb. He defended his doctoral thesis in 1965 at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science in Zadar (“Causes of the Crisis of Monarchist Yugoslavia from unification in 1918 until its collapse in 1941.”
Due to his views on certain historical issues, he came into conflict with the communist authorities, who accused him of being non-Marxist and nationalistic in his research work. This primarily pertained to his struggle against manipulations regarding the number of victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp, his attitude that each nation in the Yugoslav federal state was entitled to their own armed forces, and his opposition to the imposition of collective guilt on the Croatian people due of the creation of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II. He was a member of the managing bodies of the Emigrant Foundation of Croatia (1964-1968), and, during his research in the United States in 1966, he established close relations with Croatian intellectuals there. Although he was not a signatory to the 1967 Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language, he faced political consequences due to suspicion that he was one of the Croatian intellectuals who created the atmosphere for the Declaration’s appearance. The Party (League of Communists) accused him of poor management of the Institute, and he was forced to resign and retire. He was expelled from the Party primarily because his views on recent national history were characterized as opposed to those of the League of Communists (Čepo 1982, 26).
Despite expulsion from the Party, a period of his very intense scholarly activity began. He focused on issues of Croatian history and reality, which served as a preparation for his later political action. Tuđman's scholarly work resulted in the book Velike ideje i mali narodi (Grand ideas and small nations) (Tuđman 1969), which examined the role of small peoples in history and their right to self-determination. For Tuđman, the right to self-determination did not conflict with the possibilities for international integration such as the European Community of the time. Promoting the peaceful coexistence of sovereign nation-states (including a united Germany), he also disagreed with the high-state misuse of socialist internationalism (Hameršak 2016).
In 1970 he became a member of the Association of Croatian Writers, a member of the Steering Committee of Matica hrvatska and, as of 1971, the president of Matica hrvatska’s Commission on Croatian History. During the Croatian Spring, he lectured and wrote about the necessity of “Croatian state sovereignty” in numerous journals and also participated in the debate on amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Croatia. After the quelling of the Croatian Spring, he was arrested in January 1972 and sentenced to two years of harsh imprisonment and banned from public activities for two years, while his military rank was stripped and his passport seized. The verdict fully endorsed the accusations levelled in the indictment, which stated that Tuđman wanted to overthrow the socialist system in Yugoslavia with the aim of creating an independent Croatia with a capitalist system through his involvement in Matica hrvatska and by fostering ties with Croatian political émigrés and foreign countries. His punishment was reduced to nine months in 1973 (Vuković 2004).
Although he was banned from public activity, he continued to maintain ties with dissidents in Yugoslavia and beyond. After serving his prison sentences, he began to intimately associate with other intellectuals who had also suffered consequences after the crushing of the Croatian Spring, primarily members of Matica hrvatska and the leaders of the defeated liberal wing of the League of Communists of Croatia – Miko Tripalo and Savka Dabčević Kučar. Tuđman also formed ties with political émigrés, with whom he met in Austria, the Federal Republic of Germany and Sweden in 1977, illegally crossing the Yugoslav border (Manolić 2016, 140-147). He wrote that the democratisation of political life and a genuine democratic agreement among the Yugoslav peoples were the only solution to the crisis in the SFRY. He furthermore advocated the "Scandinavization" of Yugoslavia, recalling that the conditions for lasting peace and harmonious coexistence of the Scandinavian nations were created only after all forms of Scandinavian unions with Danish or Swedish hegemony had been eliminated and independent nation states had been established (Tuđman 1981c).
Due to his conversations and interviews with journalists from Western European media, in which he criticised the communist monopoly and advocated a multiparty democracy, he was again prosecuted. In 1981, he was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, with a five-year ban on any public activity. He was convicted of repeatedly disseminating falsehoods in conversations with foreign journalists, and thus, given the external element, committing the criminal offence of enemy propaganda (Tuđman 2011c, 99). The media in Yugoslavia were strictly controlled, and the regime had done everything to prevent contacts between foreign journalists and Yugoslav dissidents. Foreign journalists who talked to Tuđman in the 1980s were detained at the border, their materials were seized, and they were expelled from Yugoslavia. However, it was impossible to stop the distribution of Tuđman's closing arguments from his trial in 1981. Tuđman defended himself by presenting data that had shaken certain dogmas of Yugoslav communist society and which demonstrated the unfavourable status of the Croatian people in the SFRY. His final word in court was photocopied and distributed hand to hand, not only in Croatia but also in the émigré communities, in which several "wild" editions were soon published (Tuđman 1981, Tuđman 1981b, Tuđman 1981d).
Tuđman served a sentence in the Lepoglava penitentiary from January 1982 to February 1983, but due to severe health problems, he was temporarily released. He returned to serve his sentence in May 1984, but after several months the Supreme Court released him conditionally due to his health.
When his passport was restored in 1987, he travelled to Canada, then to the United States, Germany, Sweden and Austria, meeting with Croatian émigrés to spread and promote his ideas about national reconciliation between the Croatian right and left, that is, about the unity of the Croatian people and the creation of a Croatian national democratic movement. By gathering like-minded individuals, he soon drafted his political platform, focusing on the creation of a sovereign democratic Croatian state. Since 1989 political pluralism was allowed in Yugoslavia, and at the forum of the Association of Croatian Writers in Zagreb, Tuđman unveiled his initiative to create a democratic party, which he founded in June 1989 (the Croatian Democratic Union) and served as its elected chairman (Knežević 2015). After the first democratic elections in 1990 and the victory of the Croatian Democratic Union in Parliament, on May 30, he was declared President of the Presidency of the Republic of Croatia.
In the Republic of Croatia, he won presidential elections twice (in 1992 and 1997). However, assessments of the character of his governing style are ambivalent and cover a broad spectrum, ranging from those who see him as a "founding father of the homeland" to those who see him as an authoritarian ruler.
Under his leadership, the Republic of Croatia was internationally recognized and defended its territorial integrity during the Croatian War of Independence. In 1995, he participated in the peace conference on Bosnia and Herzegovina and was a signatory to the Dayton Accords. His presidential term in office, during which Croatia fought the war for its independence, he governed with a firm hand, which is why he faced much criticism. A part of the Croatian public labelled him an authoritarian nationalist leader, and even compared him to Slobodan Milošević (Hameršak 2016). His policy toward Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most controversial areas of his political biography. There are claims that Tuđman, together with Slobodan Milošević, wanted to partition the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, after Tuđman’s death, Carla del Ponte, the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that she would have indicted Tuđman had he not died in 1999 (http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0104/27/i_ins.00.html). Debates on Tuđman’s presidential tenure and his role in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still ongoing in recent Croatian historiography (See Goldstein 2004; Sadkovich, 2006; Banac 2010; Lučić, 2010).
As mentioned previously, Franjo Tuđman fostered intense oppositional activity in the period of socialism. It began in the sphere of historical scholarship and culture and developed into the most potent political opposition to the then communist regime. He was particularly critical of academic historiography, which, in his opinion, rarely dared to step out from the framework of the "political correctness," that is, the postulates of the ruling ideology. Although he based his views on official documents and credible sources, he was tried and sentenced twice. On 4 June 1982, he wrote in his diary: "I still have the consolation that in wrestling with muddled misapprehensions, in the end, I paid for breaking the 'black legend' that, in proportion, the greatest crimes in World War II had been perpetrated on the Croatian soil" (Tuđman 2011b).
Franjo Tuđman suffered consequences for his attitudes and views, which later became his political platform. He began with different views and interpretations of certain historical themes, diverging from mainstream history and historians. When he was expelled from the communist organisation, he gradually abandoned the Marxist ideology and turned to the principles of pluralism and democracy. This evolutionary process of Tuđman's thought can also be seen on the pages of his diary. The arguments with which he defended his attitudes quickly spread through illegal channels across the country and abroad and later became the basis of his political platform, with which he won the first free multi-party elections in Croatia.
He died in Zagreb on 10 December 1999 and was buried at Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetery. Currently, he is mostly remembered by the Croatian public as a stern and charismatic personality, a man who deserves the most credit for Croatia gaining its independence. The newly reconstructed Zagreb airport was named after him in 2016.
- Belgrade, Serbia
- Veliko Trgovišće, Croatia
- Zagreb, Croatia
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic