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Vladko Maček


Vladko Maček (20 June 187915 May 1964) was a Croatianmarker politician from the first half of the 20th century. He led the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) after Stjepan Radić and through World War II.

Early life

Maček was born to a Slovene-Czech family in the village of Kupinec near Jastrebarskomarker, southwest of Zagrebmarker. A famous Polish general Stanisław Maczek was his cousin. In 1903 Vladko earned a law degree at University of Zagrebmarker. After clerking at various Croatian courts he opened private law practice in 1908 in Sv.marker Ivan Zelinamarker.

Maček joined Croatian Peasant Party since its founding. After World War I, during which he had served in Austro-Hungarian Army, he became close associate of Stjepan Radić. In 1925, after Radić's visit to Moscowmarker and Croatian Peasant Party joining Peasants International, he was arrested by Royal Yugoslavmarker authorities. While in jail, he was elected to the National Assembly. A few months later HSS joined the government, paving the way for Maček to be released.

HSS leadership and Banate of Croatia

Maček became the leader of party following Radić's assassination. He quickly became one of the main opponents of King Alexander and his dictatorship. For that he was again arrested in April 1933 and sentenced to three years in jail for treason. He was released following Alexander's assassination in 1934. His stated aim during that period was to transform Yugoslavia from unitary state, dominated by ethnic Serbs, into new form of state organization in which Croatia would have its statehood restored. Maček's ideas appealed to large numbers of Croats and Croatian Peasant Party gradually gained supporters among all classes and followers of all ideologies. Maček also nurtured close relations with other opposition parties in Yugoslavia and although his coalition lost elections in 1938, it remained the force to be reckoned with.

Maček's persistence and political skills finally paid off in August 1939 with Dragiša Cvetković in the Cvetković-Maček Agreement and creation of Banate (Banovina) of Croatia, a semi-autonomous entity which contained Croatia and large sections of today's Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. HSS became part of the coalition government while Maček himself became deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia.

World War II

This triumph proved to be short-lived, because Banovina collapsed together with Yugoslavia following Axis invasion in April 1941. Seen by Germanymarker as an ideal leader of a new Axis puppet - the Independent State of Croatiamarker - Maček was offered the opportunity to become prime minister of the new state, but he refused the offer twice - being one of the few Croatian (and European) politicians at the time to believe that the Axis would ultimately lose the war. Instead, his main aim was to preserve Croatian people from war and unnecessary suffering. He called supporters of HSS to respect and co-operate with the new regime of Ante Pavelić, while at the same time he delegated Juraj Krnjević to represent Croatian people in Yugoslav government-in-exile.

Maček's strategy proved to be detrimental for his party and himself. In October 1941 he was arrested and put in Jasenovac concentration campmarker. A few months later he was put into house arrest at his home in Kupinec. In the meantime, HSS began to fracture itself on ideological lines - some of its members joined the Ustaše while other joined Tito's Partisans. Although bitterly opposed to the former, he was equally distrustful to the latter and in 1945 he emigrated, first to Francemarker, than to USAmarker.

Later life

Maček's memorial in the Peasant Party's arcade in Mirogoj
Still respected in exile, he was offered to lead the numerous Croatian emigration, but he refused.

He died in Washington D.C.marker His remains were brought to Croatiamarker in 1996 and buried at the Mirogojmarker cemetery in Zagrebmarker. He was posthumously awarded the Grand Order of King Dmitar Zvonimir in 2004.

References

  1. Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans: Twentieth century. Cambridge University Press, 1983. (p. 201)
  2. 185 27.12.2004 Odluka o odlikovanju posmrtno dr. Vladka Mačeka Veleredom kralja Dmitra Zvonimira s lentom i Danicom


See also




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