Bunjevci Croats in BačkaThe presentation also extends to distinguished Croatians from Srijem and Banat.
Ivan Antunović (1815-1888), Bunjevci Croat and bishop in Kalocsin Hungary, was oustanding Croatian writer.
The Catholic Insitute for Culture, History and Spirituality in Subotica is bearing his name (Katolički institut za kulturu, povijest i duhovnost Ivan Antunović iz Subotice). Andrija Anišić objavio je 2013. svoju doktorsku disertaciju o naučavanju Ivana Antunovića o vjerskoj i moralnoj obnovi obitelji.
An important Croatian politician, general and nobleman, ban (governor) Josip Jelačić (1801-1859) was born in the town of Petrovaradin. It is little know that there is the so called Russian branch of the family of Jelačić's, about which Stjepan Radić, Croatian politician and martyr, wrote an interesting article "The Russian branch of our Jelčić's". The descendants of the Russian branch live, among others, in France, under the name of Iellatchitch.
Pere Tumbas - Hajo (1891-1967), conductor, composer, and the famous tamburitza player, was very active among Backa Croats in Subotica, which was his birthplace. His greatest success was the sensational triumph at the "International folklore festival" in Langolen in Wales (Great Britain) in 1952, where his reduced 4 member orchestra (normally 7 players) and 8 dancers won the first prize, among 16 best folklore groups of the world (including the Russian balalaika group and Spanish flamenco players). The administrative authorities in Belgrade never gave him opportunity again to show his brilliant tamburitza play outside of ex-Yugoslavia. Despite this, the Croatian Tamburitza society from Pittsburgh, directed by Walter Kolar, performed throughout the USA many songs arranged or composed by Hajo. In the journal The Tamburitzan, directed by Walter Kolar (Pittsburgh), Hajo has been represented as the most famous tamburitzan.
When he died, the funeral march gathered all tamburitzans from Subotica and its environs, young and old, amateurs and professionals. Hundreds of players escorted legendary Hajo with soft, trembling sounds of their instruments.
Pere Tumbas Hajo: Koncertno Bunjevačko kolo [MP3], Subotički tamburaški orkestar
The Subotica Tamburitza Orchestra (Suboticki tamburaski orkestar) is the top quality orchestra of tamburitzans, founded in 1976. It is interesting that the original name was planned to be "Tamburaski orkestar Tumbas Pere - Hajo", but the then political structures of ex-Yugoslavia did not permit this name.
It is interesting that for the preparation of their costumes Croatian women in Backa used silk material from Lyon, France.
One of the symbols of Bunjevci Croats is a very beautiful song Kolo igra, tamburica svira, composed in the 19th century. The song is very popular.
In his weekly "Obitelj" (Family) Josip Andric wrote articles against Hitler already in the thirties of the 20th century. During WW2 he was arrested by Gestapo, but after three months of prison, upon the intervention of the Slovak government, he had been released.
An article about Josip Andrić in Hrvatska riječ, Subotica
Josip Andrić: Slovačka slovnica, Hrvatsko-slovačko društvo, Zagreb 1942.,
the first grammar of Slovak language, ever written outside of Slovakia; published by Croatian-Slovakian Society in Zagreb.
Many thanks to sister Berislava Grabovac of the Mary's Court in Lužnica near Zagreb for permission to take the photos of this book.
We owe to Josip Andrić our first information about the glory of the Irish early Christian civilization, the fact that not only the British, but also the Francs received the Christian religion from them. He belonged to the Croatian Bunjevci and Šokci. During many years, and especially since 1991, they have been going through the process of almost complete ethnic and cultural extinction, with a rate and violence unknown in Europe after 1945. Only in the period between 1971 and 1991 (before the Greater Serbian aggression!) the number of the Bunjevc and Šokci Croats dropped from 140,000 to 74,000. It should be noted that, according to Jovan Erdeljanović, in 1930 in the region of the so called Vojvodina (the name imposed in 1945 during Communist Yugoslavia) there were 400,000 Croats, see [Sekulić, Bački Hrvati]. In this region the Croats had no any national minority rights until 2002.
More about Josip Andrić can be seen in [Matija Evetović, pp. 563-565].
More information about Croatian Coats of Arms.
The name of "Vojvodina" (Serbain name for "dukedom") has been imposed in 1945, although the Croats in Backa never had "vojvoda". In the period of 1930 - 1941 the Croats in Bačka were using the name of Bačka Hrvatska (information by Dr Ante Sekulić, see [Sekulić, Bački Hrvati]). It is interesting that near the town of Subotica there is a village called Hrvatski Majur (= Croatian estate).
According to Blaško Rajić (a priest and General Vicar of the Bačka Bishopric), in the period of 1918 - 1924 Subotica had 100,000 inhabitants, out of which 80,000 were Croats, 2,000 Serbs, 1,500 Hungarians, and the rest were Jews, Germans and others (see [Sekulić, Bački Hrvati]).
According to the 1910 recension, Subotica then had 94610 inhabitants, while Croatia's capital Zagreb had 79038. See [Prćić, p. 21]. The same source (on p. 133) provides the following data, for which the city of Subotica can be proud of:
Aleksa Kokić (1913 - 1940) is a well known priest and a poet born in Subotica as a Bunjevci Croat.
In his verses explained us the following:
These verses have been carved on a marble tablet in Subotica (in Pučka kasina) in 1936, on the occasion of 250 years of the arrival of Bunjevci Croats to Bačka.
Albe Vidaković (1914 - 1964), born in the town of Subotica in Bačka, was an important composer of Croatian church music. He also collected Croatian musical folklore. The Institute for Church Music in Zagreb is named after him. He composed three Glagolitic masses, inspired by Croatian Glagolitic singing.
Albe Vidaković belonged to Bunjevci Croats around the city of Subotica. Bunjevci Croats are recognizable by their beautiful ikavian dialect and folklore which is very close to that of Croatian north-east. When he was born, Subotica was the city with the second largest number of Croats after Zagreb, our capital. Even more interesting is the fact that in the period 1900-1904 Subotica was the largest Croatian city, with more Croats than Croatian capital Zagreb! For more information see [Jasna Ivančić].
Near the town of Subotica there is a village called Mala Bosna (Small Bosnia).
Nikola Andrić (1867-1942) was born in the city of Vukovar. He was a philologist, writer, editor, and translator, mainly from French, German and Russian (about 60 novels). Besides his native Croatian, he was fluent in seven languages. In 1911 he published his linguistic work Branič jezika hrvatskoga (Defender of Croatian language). For more details see www.matica.hr . Nikola Andrić published an important monograph [Hrvatske narodne pjesme] (Croatian folk poems), which contains a relatively large collection of groktalice [PDF], today almost completely forgotten type of poems. The name of groktalica is very little known. Since I had opportunity to listen to groktalica singinig by late Mrs. Cecilija Milanković from Subotica when she visited Zagreb on several occasions around 2000, I decided to add a few lines about these very tender and poetic songs. According to her own words, even in Subotica a very few people know this way of singing.
Groktalice, according to academician Ante Sekulić, are poems of balladic content accompanied by singing (Groktalice su pjesme baladicnog sadrzaja pracenog pjevanjem, see [Lipe Riči, p. 4]).
They were published in above mentioned monograph by [Nikola Andrić], and the poems had been collected by Ive Prćić during many years.
The origin of the name groktalica is the following: for the one who sings nice (lipo piva) in Backa it is said that his voice is trembling, i.e. grokti in Croatian. It is interesting that in some parts of Slavonia (i.e., on the North-East of Croatia) the groktalice are also known under the same name.
The oldest Croatian football clubs was FC Bačka, founded in Subotica in 1901, playing in the then Croatian league.
I adore the art of straw weaving of the slamarke among the Bunjevci Croats in Backa. At the 1976 international exhibition of naive art in Moscow Ana Milodanović (from Zednik) won the gold medal with her work with straw weaving. Also, Kata Rogić (from Đurđin) had exceptional honour to present her work to Pope Paul the VIth. See [Zelić] and Slamarska sekcija iz Tavankuta.
It is interesting that Bunjevci Croats have two different names for grandmothers: majka for mother's mother, and nana for father's mother.
In 1928 Ivan Meštrović sent four recommendation letters to his influential friends in Croatia in which he asked to help the Croatian Youth Society BUNJEVAC from the city of Subotica to visit the land of their grandparents - south of Croatia and BiH. As he stated, Bunjevci Croats in Bačka have preserved the character of their grandparents in their ikavian speech and customs. See "Marulić", 5/1998, 908-911.
Ivan Meštrović carved the bust of Ante Evetović Miroljub, poet and priest in Subotica. It was placed in front of the Subotica cathedral in 1936, removed during the Hungarian occupation in 1940, and placed there again in 1996. Mestrovic also carved the bust of Ambrozije Boza Sarcevic, lawyer and cultural worker.
Among distinguished Bunjevci Croats we mention also Gaja Alaga, theoretical physicist of international reputation, and a member of Croatian Nobility from Bačka.
Paško Rakić (1933) is outstanding international expert in neurobiology. He was born in Ruma, Srijem, and his parents come from the region of Lika in Croatia (this information courtesy Tomislav Žigmanov). Professor at Yale, USA, educated at the University of Belgrade (M.D. and Ph.D.), he wrote the following: Both [science and art] want to find some meaning or order in the large picture of chaos. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of other national institutions, recipient of numerous honours throughout the world, including Croatia.
"I consider Pasko to be one of the most brilliant neuroscientists not just of this generation but in the history of neuroscience," says Susan Hockfield (Nat. Med. 11, 110; 2005), former provost of Yale and now president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "What he's contributed to neuroscience is really on the order of Cajal or Golgi [Nobel Prize winners, 1906].", see Nature Medicine. His wife Patricia Goldman Rakic, who tragically died at the car accident in 2003, was also outstanding neouroscientist. Both of them are founding editors of the prestigeous scientific journal Cerebral CORTEX, Oxford. Professor Pasko Rakic maintains a fruitful collaboration with his colleagues in Croatia.
Ivan Gutman, born in the city of Sombor, is distinguished Croatian expert in Mathematical Chemistry, prolific author of more than 1200 scientific articles, a member of editorial boards of numerous professional journals, professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Kragujevac. He has two PhD's: in Chemistry (from the University of Zagreb) and in Mathematics (from the University of Belgrade). Among his monographs we mention
Stevan Horvat was distinguished Croatian wrestler, twice the world champion in the category up to 55 kg: in 1963 in Helsingborg, Sweden, and in 1966 in Toledo, USA. Subsequently he was instructor and coach of national wrestling teams of Japan, USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Slavador and the Netherlands. More information can be seen in the Leksikon podunavskih Hrvata - Bunjevaca i Šokaca, part 9 (H), pp. 62 and 63. In 2012 a bust was unveiled in his honour at the University of Novi Sad. The meaning of his second name, Horvat, is just - Croat.
Rajko Ljubič is a film director from Subotica, and author of numerous documentaries and short movies that deal with the life of the Bunjevci and Šokci Croats. He donated many of his flms to the Catholic Institute for Culture, History and Spirituality "Ivan Antunović" (Katolički institut za kulturu, povijest i duhovnost Ivan Antunović ) in Subotica.
cultural society Vladimir Nazor, town of Sombor
Very important role in Croatian Christmas family tradition has the day of Materice (materitse), which is celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent, and is dedicated to all Mothers. The following Sunday, just before Christmas, is called Oci (otsi) or Očići (ochichi), and is dedicated to all Fathers.
We would like to illustrate the position of Croats in the present Backa. An important poet Jakov Jašo Kopilović (1918 - 1997), born as a Bunjevac Croat in the city of Subotica, refused to change his nationality for membership in the Serbian Academy of Sciences (SANU, Belgrade), as it has been offered to him. Information by his closest relatives, and by prof. Joja Ricov, his personal friend (Joja Ricov is a poet, laureate of international prize "Golden Partenopa" and "Knight of Art for 1997", conferred by The Universal Academy "Neapolis" for fine arts, sciences and literature in Naples, Italy; member of Sindicato Libero Scrittori Italiani di Roma; a close friend of Italian Nobel prize winner Salvatore Quasimodo).
In order to split and divide the Croatian community in Backa, the regime of Milosevic invented a new national minority in 1997, called "Bunjevci", giving them all national minority rights, and persuading them to deny their Croatian identity by police terror and forced mobilization to Kosovo. It must be said that the brutal methods employed by Milosevic are very successful. In 1997 new birth certificates have been issued for the Croats in the region Backa and Srijem in which their nationality has been simply changed to Serbian, i.e. old birth certificates have been falsified. Those Croats who refused to change their national name never had, and still do not have any national minority rights in Backa. For comparison, the Serbs in Croatia have their schools, while this right has been denied to a still relatively large Croatian community in Backa. Contrary to the Croats, a very small community of only several thousand Ukrainians in the Danube region has the usual national minority rights - schools, admission to radio, TV, press, state support. In October 1999 the authorities in Belgrade refused to issue visa for Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, retired Zagreb Archbishop, who planned to visit Croatian Catholics living in Backa. It was only by the end of 2002 that the situation began to improve a little - a few Croatian classes for children were opened, and cultural societies of Bunjevci Croats.
Jakov Jašo Kopilović
Jakov Jaša Kopilović (1918-1997)
Many thanks to Mr. Naco Zelić for the photos.
from the private collection of Mr. Naco Zelić
Poetry notebook by Matija Dulić, that she decorated with her straw-weaving.
Photo-monograph by Naco Zelić: Slikovali smo se (We have been photographed)
Polivači accompanied with tamburitza orchestra, Subotica 1914. Source Naco Zelić: Slikovali smo se.
Tamburitza players from Tavankut 1938. Source Naco Zelić: Slikovali smo se.
Many thanks to Mr. Naco Zelić for permission to reproduce these photos here.
Mr. Naco Zelić, distinguished Croatian publicist, lawyer and diplomat, on the right,
born in Subotica (1930), in his appartment in Zagreb, with Darko Žubrinić.
Mr. Naco Zelić (Zagreb) delivered a short speech [MP3] in Croatian, on the occasion of publishing
Pasionska baština Hrvata u Podunavlju, IX, Zagreb - Subotica, 2013, 500 pp.,
additional information and here
(Passion Heritage of Croatians in the Danube Region)
The monograph contains collected papers from the 2012 conference organized in Sombor by Urbani Šokci (Sombor, president Mrs. Marija Šeremešić), Pasionska Baština (Zagreb) and the Association for Culture of Vojvodina Croatians (Subotica) Mr. Zelić spoke during the presentation of the monograph on 30th Jan 2014 in Croatian Writer's Association. Many thanks to Mrs. Sonja Bušić from Croatian Catholic Radio for her audio recording of Mr. Zelić's speech.
According to personal information by Mr. Naco Zelić, during a short period from 1952 till the end of 1958, about 5000 (five thosand) of Croatian pupils were attending Croatian schools in Bačka: there were four primary schools in the city of Subotica, and three in the towns of Đurđin, Tavankut and Žednik. In the years arround 2015, this number has been reduced to only one primary school in Subotica, with less than 150 pupils, where approximately 30 pupils are inscribed each school year.
The Bunjevci Croatians have published a relatively rich collection of books: until 2017, about 1400 titles in various fields have appeared (information by the courtesy of Mr. Naco Zelić).
Fantastic photo-monographic book by Marinko Piuković.
Julijana Dulić, Subotica, portrait by Bela Loschinger, 1908.
Many thanks to Dr. Elizabeta Kovač Striko (grand-daughter of Mrs. Dulić) for permission.
George J. Prpic, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, John Carroll University, Department of History, Cleveland, USA, was born in Banat (in the village of Djala).
Prof.dr. Luka Štilinović, objavljeno u Živjeti zajedno, br. 1/2001, župskom listiću župe Utrine u N. Zagrebu.
Napisao prof.dr. Luka Štilinović. Zahvaljujemo profesoru Štilinoviću na dopuštenju za objavu. D. Ž.
Dr. Luka Štilinović je ugledni profesor Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, rodom iz Subotice (1935.).
Fantastic book Naši mladenci (Our Brides) by Stanka Kujundžić, published by
Hrvatsko akademsko društvo (Croatian Academic Society) in Subotica
Živko Mandić: Rječnik govora santovačkih Hrvata, Znanstveni zavod Hrvata u Mađarskoj, 2016.
Cecilija Milanković, Subotica
Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, November 1st 2014, at the Monument to Bačka Croats, Mirogoj, Zagreb.
Photo by Nikola Piasevoli, Zagreb.
The family of Tuteković's from Nikinci:
1st line - Katarina Tutekovic, Veronika, Pavao, Franjo, Petar, 2nd line - Ivan, Marta, Marija, Tereza.
Many thanks to my dear friend Veronika Mašić (b. Tuteković) for kind permission to publish this photo.
Her grandfather on the father's line is from Udbina in Lika.
Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in Subotica
Those wishing to learn more about the history of Backa Croats (Bunjevci and Šokci) may consult the following references (especially books written by dr. Ante Sekulić, a leading expert for the history and culture of Croats in Bačka):