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People’s representative of the Croatian Peasants’ Party and his district: the work of Stjepan Hefer in the territory of Osijek and Valpovo (1924-1941)

Suzana Leček

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 474 Kb

str. 189-240

preuzimanja: 1.426



The well-preserved personal archive of Stjepan Hefer from Osijek, attorney at law, who had been a member of the parliament from the ranks of the Croatian Peasants’ Party (HSS) during the 1930s, and accepted the position of Grand County Head in the Independent State of Croatia, provides us with insight into numerous problems of the time. Since a big portion of the archive pertains to the period before 1941, it is interesting primarily for the researchers of the pre-war period, whom it can provide with important data for the study of various aspects of life (politics, economy, culture, the workers’ issue). Even though Hefer’s archive is personal, it contains mostly official documents that do not tell us much about his ideological attitudes. Still, from everything that we now know, we can say that he did not diverge from Maèek’s politics in any way in the pre-war period, and after he became the Grand County Head in the Independent State of Croatia, on several occasions he voiced his dissatisfaction with the official Ustasha politics and attempted to protect the victims of persecution. The preserved documents are much more interesting to us as a source for the reconstruction of the role of a parliament member of the Croatian Peasants’ Party in the 1930s. To some extent they can present to us the network of connections, obligations, powers and impotencies of the party’s high officials; HSS’s battle to establish a local self-government as opposed to the state’s centralism; conflicts within the party at times when it seemed the strongest from the outside; and especially the problems they were faced with when they achieved a certain degree of self-government, for which they had fought for a long time, in the Banate of Croatia (Banovina Hrvatska). They show us how important personal abilities and dedication were in the organization and maintenance of the network of HSS’s organizations (political, economic, cultural, protection and workers’ ones) at the time when HSS did not formally hold power. The preserved materials also offer a glimpse into the broad range of problems that a member of parliament was expected to deal with. Hefer was faced with a number of practical local tasks on a daily basis and his knowledge of law came very handy in dealing with them. His archive also familiarizes us with another group of problems that the official journals never mention: the personal conflicts within the party. They help us understand in which way these conflicts were resolved in circumstances in which HSS did not hold actual power (by personal patience, by invoking the authority of a member of the parliament or the top echelons of the party, or by reorganization). The documents from Hefer’s archive help us understand the difficulties in the struggle for municipality self-government and for the implementation of the subsidiarity principle 1936-37, and they also shed a new light on the conditions in the Banate of Croatia, especially its unsuccessful efforts to create its own new administrative apparatus by invoking the legal provisions about the municipal and banate self-government.

Ključne riječi

Croatian Peasants’ Party; people’s representative; municipality; subsidiarity; Banate of Croatia

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