April 10th – “A Juncture in Time”

April 10th – A Juncture in Time

JUNCTURE” noun. A point in time, especially one made critical or important by a concurrence of circumstances: “At this juncture, we must decide whether to stay or turn away.”

Although the war that raged for some 4 years in the early to mid-1990s, following Croatia’s initial declaration of independence on the 25th of June 1991, was hard-fought and ultimately led to Croatia securing its borders from Greater Serbian aspirations, Croatian statehood was ultimately achieved at the conclusion of Europe’s largest post-WW2 land battle, “Operation Storm,” which lasted 4 days and concluded on the 8th of August 1995.

Ultimately, this war aimed to release Croatia from the yoke of Serbian-dominated Communist Yugoslavia, established at great cost to the Croatian people at the conclusion of WW2 by Josip Broz Tito and his communist forces. However, it was not the first time Croatia had declared its independence.

At the conclusion of WW1, Croatia, which had been dominated by the Austro-Hungarian empire for the preceding 400 years, briefly regained its  independence with the declaration of the re-establishment of “The Lands of the Croatian Crown of King Zvonimir” on the 22nd of October 1918. Its independence, although still in an equal-footed union with Austria and Hungary, survived for a total of 9 days. At that time, the Croatian “Sabor” (Parliament), on the 29th, declared the end of the union and all ties between Hungary and Croatia, uniting all Croatian lands and entering the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs.



The decision eventually proved fatal to Croatian independence. In the proceeding years, a realization developed that the Croats had merely stepped from a fire into a furnace as Serbian aspirations began to subdue both Croatian and Slovenian cultures in an attempt to assimilate them into a greater Serbian ideology.

On the morning of June 20, 1928, Stjepan Radić, Leader in Opposition of the Croatian political party “Hrvatska seljačka stranka,” who had been a lifelong opponent of the formation of the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, was assassinated during a parliamentary sitting by Puniša Račić, a representative of the People’s Radical Party from Montenegro. Radić eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away on the 8th of August 1928.

Račić was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison, which was immediately reduced to 20 years. He spent most of his sentence under house arrest in a comfortable villa, attended by three servants, and was free to enter and leave at will. The leniency of his sentence came as a result of his connection with the Chetniks. He was released from house arrest on March 27, 1941, but was eventually shot by the Yugoslav Partisans on October 16, 1944, during the liberation of Belgrade from the Axis powers.

As a result, on January 6, 1929, the political crisis triggered by the shooting resulted in Serbian Monarch King Aleksandar Karađorđević, with the support of his “Chetnik” royalist guard, abolishing the constitution, dissolving the parliament, banning all ethnic, regional, and religious political parties, and declaring a royal Serbian dictatorship under a new national name and identity, Yugoslavia. His justification for doing so was to curb separatist tendencies and mitigate nationalist passions. However, while quelling all other nationalist passions, it allowed the Serbian nationalist passion to expand and dominate.

Circa 1929: , Stjepan Radić addresses a rally in Dubrovnik, the Croatian Flag with historical white field first crest can be seen aloft in the background. This historic flag is today falsely condemned as fascist.

Between 1929 and 1941, Croatian politicians, intellectuals, clergy, and common people suffered continuous persecutions under the new dictatorship. Yet, the die had been cast.

After the assassination of Stjepan Radić, world-renowned Croatian professor Milan Šufflay wrote “Croatia in the Light of World History and Politics,” escalating the situation of Croats who were suffering under the Yugoslav dictatorship from which they had to free themselves.

He emphasized that the border between Western and Eastern Civilizations lay on the Drina river, on which the mighty Roman Empire snapped into two… “A border both spiritual and cultural,” explaining that while the Croatian people had passed through the Roman-Western retort, the Serbian people passed through the Byzantine-Turkish, and that, in reality, the psyche of the two peoples was essentially different and that unification of the two peoples would make Croatia a guinea pig for vivisection experiments. “In Croatia, the Yugoslav idea is a shallow wreckage under which the Croatian national volcano boils; only a subtle push is necessary to make it erupt.”

Members of the Yugoslav regime organization “Young Yugoslavia,” under royal protection, ambushed him at the doorstep to his home in Zagreb, fracturing his skull with a hammer and subsequently killing him. They then broke into his apartment and took manuscripts on which he was working. There was never any investigation about the assailant, and the authorities denied any knowledge of the events. Any activities associated with Šufflay’s funeral were banned.

Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann sent a letter to the International League for Human Rights in Paris appealing to the global cultural public to protest against the murder of Milan Šufflay, appealing for the protection of Croatian people from the oppression of the Yugoslavian regime. The appeal was addressed to the Paris-based Ligue des droits de l’homme (Human Rights League) and made the front page of the New York Times on May 6, 1931. It directly accused the king of complicity in the crime.

In June 1940, a trial was organized for Šufflay’s murder, eventually identifying the assailants as police agents Belošević and Zwerger, who subsequently fled to Belgrade. All later attempts of the Croatian courts to have them extradited were fruitless. The dream of renewed self-determination seemed to slip away with each passing day. It was only due to the winds of war again sweeping across the European continent that an opportunity under controversial circumstances presented itself.

April 10th, 1941 – A Juncture in Time

On March 3, 1941, Yugoslav Prince-Regent Pavle Karađorđević secretly went to Nazi Germany to negotiate with Adolf Hitler about the accession of Yugoslavia to the Tripartite Pact. The meeting took place on the 5th of March 1941 between Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of Germany, and Pavle Karađorđević, Prince Regent of Yugoslavia, at Berchtesgaden and lasted some 5 hours.

As a result of these negotiations, on March 25, 1941, Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact with the Axis powers. The agreement was reached after months of negotiations between Germany and Yugoslavia prior to and proceeding Prince-Regent Pavle Karađorđević’s visit to Berchtesgaden. Two days after its signing at the Belvedere in Vienna by Joachim von Ribbentrop, German foreign minister, and Dragiša Cvetković, Yugoslav Prime Minister, a military coup took place in Yugoslavia, the government of Dragiša Cvetković was arrested, the regent himself was removed from power, 17-year-old King Peter II, who was declared full age on this occasion, was raised to the throne, and the installation of a national unity government under the leadership of General Dušan Simović was formed.

On the same day, the former regent prince Pavle Karađorđević signed a renunciation which Germany used as a pretext for invading Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941.

Had the Tripartite Pact succeeded, the fate of Croats, Slovenes, and constituents of other now contemporary segregated or independent regions of the former Yugoslavia would be questionable at best simply because the Greater Serbian aspirations which had conspired under international scrutiny in the preceding 23 years would now most likely be accelerated and enforced with greater vigor behind the enclosed borders of the AXIS juggernaut. As some 150,000 German troops crossed into the Northern regions of Croatian territory enroute to Belgrade, a detour of their planned route to Greece, and some additional 100,000 Italian troops landed on its Southern Adriatic shores, the Croatian people faced a juncture not only in time but also in history. Was this a moment to seize, or another to capitulate and again fall into servitude to foreign interests?

April 10th in modern terms.

Following the end of WW2, Croats suffered the Genocide of an estimated 1,000,000 of its citizens commencing on the 12th of May 1945, four days after the official end of the war in Europe. Along with its surrendered armed forces, which constituted a third of the total number of refugees that was predominantly made up of civilians, were handed over by the British 5th army in Austria to Tito’s pursuing forces.

This action, which betrayed the standing Geneva conventions, resulted in a campaign of genocide over the coming months which resulted in 1,700 mass graves scattered across Austria and the former territories of the newly founded and now extinct Yugoslavia. The history of the Bleiberg Reparations as they are referred to are well known and easily accessible on today’s digital platforms. Croats who fled in the proceeding years and settled around the world formed the backbone of international resistance to global communism, and indeed their primary focus and occupier of their own homeland in the form of Broz Tito’s communist Yugoslav regime.

It was therefore that the 10th of April was adopted as their commemorative date of independence, a stateless people now who clung to a date and juncture in time, a date that some saw as a date of infamy, yet a date that needs to be put into context.

On the 10th of April Slavko Kvatarnik addressed the nation via a radio broadcast from the capital Zagreb advising that Croatia had declared its independence and that the independent state of Croatia had re-emerged. At that moment, let’s refer to it as being at 10:00 a.m. on the morning of, Croatians had realized their centuries-old dream of once again being fully independent. It is for this reason that dawn on this date, Croats post-1945, and to this day recognize this date, including dates associated with the independence of the 1990s conflict, as official junctures in time when the Croatian people rose from obscurity to stand independent and free.

April the 10th is such a date in history, the aspirations of the Croatian people were fulfilled and while there is still conjecture as to what transpired on the 11th of April 1941 and thereafter, the unification of its people with the deepest sincerity and intent of the 10th must and will always be viewed in a positive light. The date is a juncture in time that cannot be denied, much as the 8th of May 1945 was celebrated with the greatest of intent and hope for Europe at the conclusion of WW2; what happened on the 9th and thereafter with the persecution and genocide under and as a result of the spread of communism across the same liberated lands cannot tarnish that date for its intent and sacrifice.

Croats never forgot this date; it formed the basis of their legitimacy as a people and culture, the last date, not a period, when their shackles had been removed. It created communities focused on once again establishing that independence; it was the single date, out of 365 in their adopted new homelands, where they paid homage to their ancestral roots, retained focus on who they were, and what they as descendants of those who had struggled for generations before them had committed to.

There are those that would dispute such intent, but we need only look at two other celebrated dates to give this further context. Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, while the day preceding Israel’s Independence Day is Yom HaZikaron, which is dedicated to the memory of fallen Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilian victims of terrorism. With respect to its history thereafter, and events which have taken place in the years and decades thereafter, it can also be argued that the 14th of May which is now viewed as contentious by a split global audience nevertheless is not indifferent.

The same can be stated for Australia Day, the official National Day of Australia which is observed annually on 26 January; it marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet and raising of the Union Flag of Great Britain by Arthur Phillip at Sydney Cove. Today the citizenship of Australia is also widely split with regards to what is being celebrated with alternative terms such as, Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, Survival Day and the extreme, Invasion Day being implied to it.

In both instances, what the intent was on each date, and the ensuing circumstances of time as it passed thereafter for each are junctures in time, as Australian Croats, in Australia we celebrate this date as the establishment of a society that provided us, as refugees in the overwhelming number of cases, as a land where we could participate democratically in the pursuit of individual liberty and growth as a people with democratic intentions, who recognize its first nation inhabitants and traditional owners and accordingly respect their culture, history, and acceptance allowing us to form part of today’s Australian society.

The 10th of April’s significance in the context I discuss here was realized and recognized by one politician early on, a man who would eventually rise to become the leader of the free world and force communism to its knees globally.

Ronald Reagan, in his position as Governor of California in 1968, declared the recognition of 10th of April as Croatian Independence Day, the following is a transcript of that proclamation.




Executive Department ; State of California.

WHEREAS         The Croatian nation, ever since its early beginning in the seventh century, has had to fight to preserve freedom and independence, and In the pursuit of democratic processes created, more than a thousand year ago, one of the oldest elected parliamentary bodies, the Sabor; and
WHEREAS         Croatia is presently subjected to force and terror exerted by Yugoslavia which has prevented the election of representatives to the Sabor and has deprived Croatians of the basic human rights of self-determination, free elections, economy, culture, rel1gion, and even language; and
WHERRAS        More than 150,000 Americans of Croatian descent live in California, participating in economic, cultural, and political developments of the Golden State and always maintaining their vigilance against Communist aggression by sharing their knowledge and experience;

NOW THEREPORE, I, RONALD RRAGAN, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, do hereby proclaim April 10th as CROATIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY to honor these Californians and Invite all citizens to give renewed devotion to the Just aspirations of all people for national independence and human liberty.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed here this 4th day of April One Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty Night.

Ronald Reagan


Attest: Frank M. Jordan

Secretary of State

As an ethnic group, not only in Australia but globally, we come together on the 10th of April each year. We gather not to raise the WW2 “U” emblazoned ensign of the Independent State of Croatia, but to hoist the centuries-old flag of our forefathers, bearing the same national crest that prominently adorns the ancient church of St. Mark in the courtyard adjacent to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb.




This flag and crest were ratified by the Croatian Parliament in 1868 as the nation’s standard. It is the same flag that was raised in Zagreb in 1991 and worn by President Franjo Tudman during that flag-raising ceremony amidst Croatia’s most recent declaration and struggle for independence. This flag is neither obsolete nor fascist; it is protected under the Croatian constitution and has been utilized by the Croatian Diaspora for the past century. Today, it is often seen as representative of the Croatian Diaspora.

We extend an invitation to fellow citizens of our adopted countries and members of all cultures to join us at these dawn events. On the 10th of April, a pivotal juncture in time and a beacon of hope over the proceeding decades, we not only celebrate the continuation of Croatian culture but also commemorate its resurgence from the ashes in 1991 and eventual triumph in 1995.