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Gvozd – The Journal of the Croatian National Youth (HANAO) from Vukovar. A contribution to the understanding of the Croatian National Youth’s press and ideology in Slavonia and Srijem

Željko Karaula

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page 241-265

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The paper presents the short-lived activities and the ideological profile of the first journal of Croatian National Youth in Vukovar, Gvozd. The journal was, first of all, a means of assembly of the Croatian youth from Vukovar and its surrounding area and a means of elevation of the Croatian spirit among the Croatian youth. It was under the influence of the so-called Croatian Block (consisting of the Croatian Republican Peasants’ Party [HRSS], Croatian Union [HZ], and the Croatian Party of Rights [HSP]) and it served as a transparent newspaper of these parties, who wanted the Croatian youth to become involved in the political events in Srijem and eastern Slavonija, as well as the principal newspaper of the new organization of the Croatian National Youth in indicating the directions of the cultural and political standpoints of the Croatian Youth, especially in relation to rival organizations ORJUNA (The Organization of Yugoslav Nationalists) and SRNAO (Serbian National Youth). Even though this paper presents just a small segment of the activities of the Croatian National Youth (HANAO) and its journal Gvozd in eastern Slavonija and Srijem, both in terms of time and in terms of contents, it is very important to emphasize the initial stage of the development of ideology of the Croatian youth, which had not been completely defined at the time, and which was manifested through their journal Gvozd, especially because HANAO is very quickly going to expand to all Croatian regions and become a force that the top echelons of the government are going to have to take into consideration. During its short period of activity, the journal Gvozd from Vukovar was focused mainly on solving the problem of the difficult position of the Croatian nation in eastern Slavonija and Srijem, especially in the town of Vukovar. In their striving to introduce a centralist regime into the new state and to establish a political and demographic control of the County of Srijem, the ruling radical-democratic structures populated Srijem with volunteers from the Saloniki Front (who were predominantly of Serbian nationality), persecuted the Croatian intelligence, and formed paramilitary troops (ORJUNA and SRNAO) that terrorized the Croats in the region, thus forcing Croatian national political parties to found and organize the Croatian National Youth (HANAO) as a youth organization that would respond to the regime’s terror in an adequate way – by counter-terror. The principal ideological source from which most of the articles in Gvozd stemmed was the definition of the Yugoslav state, which Gvozd considered a state of the Serbs, believing that the Serbian political factors would never allow Croats to become an equal factor in this state. With its short-lived activity Gvozd proved to be a good medium for transferring HANAO’s ideas from Vukovar by organizing many HANAO subsidies in surrounding villages, and it showed to the Croatian national parties that such an organization of Croatian youth served their narrow-partisan and also national interests as a means to exert pressure on the regime, showing also that the Croats were never going to accept such a condition in the country that was dictated by Serbian political and court circles.


Vukovar, Croatian National Youth (HANAO), newspaper Gvozd, Croatian Block, ideology

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