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Original scientific paper

The first Conference of Zionists in Southslavic lands within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy held in Slavonski Brod in 1909.

Ljiljana Dobrovšak

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page 234-266

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On the basis of newspaper articles the author of this paper details the beginnings of the Zionist movement in the Brod district and describes the foundation of the Association of Zionists in Southslavic lands in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Brod in 1909. The author also addresses the issue of the impact of the Association on further development of the Zionist movement in Croatia and Slavonia. At the beginning of the 20th century Croatia had not yet been ready to embrace Zionist ideas. Namely, at the time of the emergence of the Zionist movement in Europe, what were later to become Zionist leaders in Croatia were only high school students. Herzl’s ideas did reach them, however, they still opposed assimilation. Later when they went off to attend universities in the cities of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (Vienna, Budapest, Brno, Prague etc.), the Jewish youth grew to accept the ideas of Zionism, they joined in the Zionist movement and took these ideas back to Croatia and Slavonia. At the time of the Zionist Congresses in Croatia, as well as during the Congress held in Brod, the Zionist ideas still did not enjoy wide popularity and did not recieve wide support among the Jewish population. The movement only came into full swing after World War I, after the unification of the Jewish communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. Through their intense activity, Croatian Zionists prepared the ground for the emergence of the future Zionist movement in Croatia; in 1902 the Society of Academics from Southslavic lands Bar Giora was founded in Vienna; the unique Zionist organization was founded in Osijek and later in Zagreb, the first Zionist society in Vinkovci was established in 1904; and 1906 saw the emergence of the Zionist Society «Theodor Herzl» in Osijek. Zionist Congresses were held in Osijek in 1904 and 1906, in Zemun in 1908 and in Slavonski Brod in 1909. Books were published and the newspaper Židovska smotra was launched in 1906.
The Croatian Zionists thus laid the groundwork for the future Zionist Conference held in Slavonski Brod in August 1909. At this conference the Association of Zionists in Southslavic Lands of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was established, whose goal was to found one joint Zionist association which would bring together the Zionists from Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Rijeka and to organize major fund raising for the Jewish National Fund. Rules of procedure were also adopted and a board was elected with headquarters in Osijek. Although after the Brod held Conference a Zionist movement sprang in Brod and in other places in Slavonia, in parallel to the foundation of Zionist societies and stronger activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (which hosted the last Zionist conference in Sarajevo in 1910), the Zionist movement was not strong or numerous enough to develop into a massive campaign. Nevertheless, it did lay the foundations for the future Zionist movement in Croatia.


Jews, Zionism, Slavonski Brod, Slavonia

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