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Franjo Tuđman

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Franjo Tuđman
1st President of Croatia
In office
30 May 1990 – 10 December 1999
Prime Minister Stjepan Mesić (1990)
Josip Manolić (1990–91)
Franjo Gregurić (1991–92)
Hrvoje Šarinić (1992–93)
Nikica Valentić (1993–95)
Zlatko Mateša (1995–99)
Preceded by Ivo Latin (as President of the Presidency of Croatia)
Succeeded by Vlatko Pavletić (acting)
1st President of the Croatian Democratic Union
In office
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Vladimir Šeks (acting)
Personal details
Born (1922-05-14)14 May 1922
Veliko Trgovišće, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
(now Croatia)
Died 10 December 1999(1999-12-10) (aged 77)
Zagreb, Croatia
Resting place Mirogoj, Zagreb, Croatia
Political party Croatian Democratic Union
Other political
League of Communists of Yugoslavia (1942-1967)
Spouse(s) Ankica Tuđman (née Žumbar)
Alma mater Belgrade Military Academy
Profession Politician, historian, soldier
Religion lapsed Catholic (considered atheist by some),[1] see Relation to the Catholic Church
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance Yugoslavia
Service/branch Yugoslav Partisans (1942–45)
Yugoslav People's Army Ground Forces (1945–61)
Croatian Armed Forces
Years of service 1942–1961
Rank Major General (YPA)
Vrhovnik (HV)[2][3]
Unit 10th Zagreb Corps[4]
Battles/wars World War II in Yugoslavia

Franjo Tuđman (Croatian pronunciation: [frǎːɲo tûd͡ʑman]; 14 May 1922 – 10 December 1999) was a Croatian politician, historian and major general of the Yugoslav Army. Following the country's independence from Yugoslavia he became the first President of Croatia.

In his youth he fought during World War II as a member of the 10th Zagreb Corps of the Yugoslav partisans, later attaining the rank of major general of the Yugoslav Army in 1960. After his military career, he received a doctorate in history in 1965 and worked as a historian until coming into conflict with the regime. He lived relatively anonymously in the following years until the end of communism, whereupon he began his political career by founding the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in 1989.

HDZ won the first Croatian parliamentary elections in 1990, and Tuđman became the President of the Presidency of SR Croatia. As president Tuđman pressed for the creation of an independent Croatia. On 19 May 1991 an independence referendum was held, which was approved by 93 percent of voters, and on 25 June 1991 Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Tuđman led Croatia during its War of Independence that ended in 1995 and was one of the signatories of Dayton Agreement that put an end to the Bosnian War. He was re-elected president in 1992 and 1997 and remained in power until his death in 1999.

Early years

Franjo Tuđman's childhood home in Veliko Trgovišće

Franjo Tuđman was born on 14 May 1922 in Veliko Trgovišće, a village in the northern Croatian region of Hrvatsko Zagorje, at the time part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The family moved to the house marked as his birthplace soon after he was born.[5][6] His father Stjepan ran a local tavern and was a politically active member of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).[7] He had been president of the HSS committee in Veliko Trgovišće for 16 years (1925–1941 and had been elected as mayor of Veliko Trgovišće in 1936 and 1938).[8] Mato, Andraš and Juraj, brothers of Stjepan Tuđman, emigrated to America.[9] Another brother Valentin also tried to emigrate but a travelling accident prevented him and kept him in Veliko Trgovišće, where he worked as an (uneducated) veterinarian.[9]

Besides Franjo, Stjepan Tuđman had an elder daughter Danica Ana (who died as a baby), Ivica (born in 1924) and Stjepan "Štefek" (born in 1926).[9] When Franjo Tuđman was 7 his mother Justina (née Gmaz [10]) died [11] while bearing her fifth child.[10] Franjo Tuđman's mother was religious, unlike his father and stepmother. His father, like Stjepan Radić, had anticlerical attitudes and young Franjo adopted his attitudes.[7] As a child Franjo Tuđman served as an altar boy in the local parish.[12] Franjo Tuđman attended elementary school in his native village from 15 September 1929 to 30 June 1933 and was an excellent student.[13]

He attended secondary school for eight years, starting in the autumn 1935.[14] The reasons for the interruption are not clear, but it is assumed that the primary cause was an economic crisis in that period.[15] According to some sources the local parish helped young Franjo to continue his education[16] and his teacher even proposed him to be educated to become a priest.[17] When he was 15 his father brought him to Zagreb, where he met Vladko Maček, the president of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).[7] At first young Franjo liked the HSS, but later he turned towards communism.[18] On 5 November 1940 he was arrested during student demonstrations celebrating the anniversary of the Soviet October revolution.[19]

World War II

On 10 April 1941, when Slavko Kvaternik proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) Tuđman left school and started publishing secret newspapers with his friend Vlado Stopar.[19] He was recruited into the Yugoslav partisans at the beginning of 1942 by Marko Belinić.[19]

His father also joined the partisans and became a founder of ZAVNOH. According to Tuđman, his father was arrested by the Ustaše, and one of his brothers was taken to a concentration camp.[19] They both managed to survive, unlike the youngest brother Stjepan[19] who was killed by the Gestapo[20] fighting for the Partisans in 1943.

Tuđman was traveling between Zagreb and Zagorje using false documents which identified him as a member of the Croatian Home Guard. There he was helping to activate a partisan division in Zagorje.[19] On 11 May 1942, while carrying Belinić's letter, he was arrested by the Ustaše, but managed to escape from the police station.[19]

Career in Belgrade

Franjo Tuđman and Ankica Žumbar were married on 25 May 1945 at the Belgrade city council.[21] In this way they wanted to confirm their faith in the communist movement and the importance of civil ritual over religious ones.[21] (In May 1945 the government created the law which allowed civil weddings, taking weddings (among other things) out of Church jurisdiction). They returned to work that same day.[21]

On 26 April 1946 his father Stjepan and stepmother were found dead.[21] Tuđman has never managed to clarify the circumstances of their death. According to the police finding his father Stjepan killed his wife and then himself. Other theories accuse Ustaše guerrilla (Crusaders) and members of the Yugoslav secret police. (OZNA).[21] Even Tuđman himself has stated different versions of these accounts.

Franjo and Ankica did not graduate from secondary school. They did so after the war, in Belgrade.[22] He graduated from the Partisan High school in 1945 and she finished five semesters of English language in the Yugoslav Foreign Office.[22]

In 1953 Tuđman was promoted to the position of colonel and in 1959 he became a major general.[22] At the age of 38, he had become the youngest general in the Yugoslav army.[citation needed] His promotion was not extreme but it was atypical for a Croat because senior officers were increasingly likely to be Serbs and Montenegrins.[22][dubious ] In 1962 Serbs and Montenegrins composed 70% of army generals.[23]

Tuđman attended the military academy in Belgrade,[24] like many officers who did not have formal military education. He graduated from the tactical school on 18 July 1957 as an excellent student.[25] One of his teachers was Dušan Bilandžić, his future advisor.[26]

In 1952 he became president of TK Partizan tennis club.[27] On 23 May 1954 he became secretary of JSD Partizan Belgrade[28] and in May 1958 its president,[28] becoming the first colonel to occupy that position (all previous holders were generals).[28] He was placed in that position in order to solve administration problems inside of the club, especially the football section. When he came there Partisan was a kind of intelligence battlefield where leaders of UDBA and KOS struggled for influence inside society.[29] That has caused clubs (despite having notable and good players) to have bad results, especially its football section.[30] During his club presidency the club adopted the black-white striped kit which is used to this day. According to Tuđman he wanted to create a club that would have a pan-Yugoslav image and oppose the Red Star that had an exclusive Serbian image.[31] Tuđman was inspired by FC Juventus uniforms. However, Stjepan Bobek (former player of FK Partizan) claimed that uniform colors idea was in fact his which he passed on to Tuđman.[32] Tuđman's leadership of Partizan was quite successful.


In 1963 he became professor at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Political Sciences where he taught a course called "Socialist Revolution and Contemporary National History".[33] Tuđman left active army service in 1961 at his own request and began working at the Institut za historiju radničkoga pokreta Hrvatske (English: Institute for the History of Workers' Movement of Croatia), and remained its director until 1967.[33] His insistence on a Croatian interpretation of history turned many professors from University of Zagreb like Mirjana Gross and Ljubo Boban against him.[34] In April 1964 Boban denounced Tuđman as a "nationalist".[34]

During Tuđman's leadership the Institute became a source of alternative interpretations of Yugoslav history which caused his conflict with official Yugoslav historiography.[26] He, however, did not have an appropriate academic degree which would make him a valid historian. He began to realize that he would need to obtain a doctorate in order to keep his position. His dissertation was entitled "The causes of the crisis of the Yugoslav monarchy from unification in 1918 until its breakdown in 1941" and was a compilation of some of his previously published works. The University of Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy had rejected his dissertation saying that some parts of it were already published.[35] The Faculty of Arts in Zadar (then part of University of Zagreb, today University of Zadar) however, accepted it and he graduated on 28 December 1965.[36][35] In his thesis he stated that the primary cause of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia's breakdown was the repressive and corrupted regime which was at odds with the contemporary mainstream Yugoslav historiography which considered Croatian nationalism to be its primary cause.[35] Bogdanov and Milutinović (both ethnic Serbs) did not object to this.[35] However, the publisher "Naprijed" from Zagreb cancelled the contract with him following his refusal to change some "controversial" statements in the book.[35]

Tuđman publicly supported the goals of Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Literary Language.[clarification needed] The Croatian Parliament and League of Communists of Croatia from Zagreb, however, attacked it and the board of the institute requested Tuđman's resignation.[37]

In December 1966 Ljubo Boban accused Tuđman of plagiarism.[38] He stated that Tuđman had compiled four fifths of his doctoral thesis from articles published previously in the magazine "Forum" and rest of it from Boban's own thesis.[38] Tuđman was then expelled from the Institute and forced to retire in 1967.[24]

Between 1962 and 1967 he was the president of "Main committee for international relations of Croatian league of communists main board"[clarification needed] and deputy in the Croatian parliament between 1965 and 1969.[24]

Dissident politics

Apart from his book on guerrilla warfare, Tuđman wrote a series of articles criticizing the Yugoslav Socialist establishment. His most important book from that period was Velike ideje i mali narodi ("Great ideas and small nations"), a monograph on political history that brought him into conflict with the central dogmas of the Yugoslav Communist elite with regard to the interconnectedness of the national and social elements in the Yugoslav revolutionary war (during World War II).

In 1970 he became a member of the Croatian Writers' Society.

In 1972 he was sentenced to two years in prison for subversive activities during the Croatian Spring. According to Tuđman's own testimony[citation needed], the Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito personally intervened to recommend the court to be lenient in his case, sparing him a longer prison sentence. The authorities of SR Croatia additionally intended to prosecute Tuđman on charges of espionage, which carried a sentence of 15–20 years in prison with hard labour, but the charge was averted on Tito's intervention. Other sources mention that the writer Miroslav Krleža also lobbied for Tuđman.[33] According to Tuđman, he and Tito were close friends.[39] However, Tuđman described Tito's crackdown on the Croatian spring as an "autocratic coup d'état".[40] The Croatian Spring was a national movement that was actually set in motion by Josip Broz Tito and the Croatian communist party chairman Vladimir Bakarić amid the climate of growing liberalism in the late 1960s. It was initially a tepid and ideologically controlled party liberalism, but it soon grew into a mass nationalist-based manifestation of dissatisfaction with the position of Croatia within Yugoslavia, and thus threatened the party's political monopoly.[citation needed] As a result, the movement was suppressed by Tito, who used the military and the police to put a stop to what he saw as separatism and a threat to the party's influence. Bakarić quickly distanced himself from the Croatian communist leadership that he himself had helped to gain power earlier and sided with the Yugoslav president. However, Tito took the protesters' demands into consideration and in 1974 the new Yugoslav constitution granted the majority of the demands sought by the Croatian Spring.

On other topics like Communism and one-party political monopoly Tuđman remained mostly within the framework of the communist ideology of the day. His sentence was eventually commuted by Tito's government and Tuđman was released after spending nine months in prison.

In 1977 he travelled to Sweden using a forged Swedish passport in order to meet members of the Croatian diaspora.[41] His trip appeared to be undiscovered by Yugoslav police. However, on that trip he gave an interview to Swedish TV about the position of Croats in Yugoslavia that was later broadcast. [41] Upon returning to Yugoslavia Tuđman was put on trial again in 1981 because of this interview, and was accused for having spread "enemy propaganda". On 20 February 1981 he was found guilty and sentenced to three years of prison and 5 years in house arrest.[42] However, he served only eleven months of the sentence.[24]

In June 1987 he became a member of the Croatian PEN centre.[24] On 6 June 1987 he travelled to Canada with his wife Ankica in order to meet members of the Croatian Canadian community.[43] They were trying not to discuss sensitive issues with emigrants abroad fearing that some of them might be agents of the Yugoslav secret police UDBA, which was a common practice at the time.[44]

During his trips to Canada he met many Croatian emigrants who were natives of Herzegovina or were of Herzegovinian ancestry, and some of them later became Croatian government officials after the country's independence, most prominent of whom was Gojko Šušak. These meetings abroad in the late 1980s later gave rise to many conspiracy theories. According to these rumours the Croats of Herzegovina had somehow used the meetings to earn a huge amount of influence inside the HDZ, as well as the post-independence Croatian establishment.[45]

Formation of the national program

In the latter part of the 1980s, when Yugoslavia was nearing its demise, torn by conflicting national aspirations, Tuđman formulated a Croatian national programme that can be summarized in the following way:

  • The primary goal is the establishment of the Croatian nation-state; therefore all ideological disputes from the past should be thrown away. In practice, this meant strong support from the anti-Communist Croatian diaspora, especially financial.
  • Even though Tuđman's final goal was an independent Croatia, he was well aware of the realities of internal and foreign policy. So, his chief initial proposal was not a fully independent Croatia, but a confederate Yugoslavia with growing decentralization and democratization.
  • Tuđman envisaged Croatia's future as a welfare capitalist state that will inevitably move towards central Europe and away from the Balkans.
  • With regard to the burning issues of national conflicts, his vision was the following (at least initially): he asserted that Serbian nationalism, controlled by the JNA, could wreak havoc on Croatian and Bosnian soil. The JNA, according to some estimates the fourth European military force re firepower, was being rapidly Serbianized, both ideologically and ethnically,[46] in less than four years. Tuđman's proposal was that Serbs in Croatia, who made up 12% of Croatia's population, should gain cultural freedom with elements of territorial autonomy.
  • As far as Bosnia and Herzegovina was concerned, Tuđman was more ambivalent: Tuđman did not take a separate Bosnia seriously as shown by his comments to a television crew "Bosnia was a creation of the Ottoman invasion ... Until then it was part of Croatia, or it was a kingdom of Bosnia, but a Catholic kingdom, linked to Croatia".[47][page needed] He thought that Bosniaks are, essentially, Croats of Muslim faith and will, when freed from Communist censorship, declare themselves ethnically as Croats, thus making Bosnia a predominantly Croatian country (with 44% Bosniaks, 17% Croats and 33% Serbs). But, these illusions were soon dispelled.[48]

On 17 June 1989, Tuđman founded the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

President of Croatia

Internal tensions that had broken up the Communist party of Yugoslavia prompted the governments of federal Republics to call for the first free multi-party elections since 1945.

Essentially, this was a nationalist Croatian movement that affirmed Croatian values based on Catholicism blended with historical and cultural traditions which had been generally suppressed in communist Yugoslavia. The aim was to gain national independence and to establish a Croatian nation-state. His party triumphed and got around 60% seats in the Croatian Parliament. After a few constitutional changes, resulting in many Serbs being purged from their commanding positions in the police, security forces, the media and factories.[49] Tuđman was elected to the position of President of Croatia. Germany's foreign policy started to analyse his economic policy: "HDZ was not just corrupt, but it followed an idea: Tuđman intended to create a class of reliable national entrepreneurs as a counterpart to the defunct one-party system. An important role was reserved for the returning Croats who had been living abroad. HDZ rapidly abandoned this idea and became a corrupt party system of privatisation".[50]

Since the split among communists in Yugoslavia along ethnic lines was already a fact at that time, it seemed inevitable that the conflicts would continue following the multi-party elections which brought to power new political establishments in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while at the same time the same communist officials kept their posts in Serbia and Montenegro.

On 25 April 1991, the Croatian Parliament decided to hold an independence referendum on 19 May. Croatian Serbs largely boycotted the referendum.[51] The turnout was 83.56%, of which 93.24% or 2,845,521 voted in favour of the independence of Croatia. Both Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991, but due to the negotiation of the Brioni Agreement, a three-month moratorium was placed on the implementation of the decision, and the Parliament cut all remaining ties with Yugoslavia on 8 October.

War years

The importance of Tuđman's leadership was seen at crucial junctures of Croatia's history: the all-out war against the combined forces of the Yugoslav Army and Serbian rebels, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Operation Storm and the Dayton peace agreement. For instance: Tuđman's strategy of stalling the Yugoslav Army in 1991 by signing frequent ceasefires mediated by foreign diplomats was effective — when the first ceasefire was signed, the emerging Croatian Army had seven brigades; the last, twentieth ceasefire the Croats had taken the field with 64 brigades. However, he failed on 2 and 3 August 1991 to make a truce with Ante Marković and Slobodan Milošević, after a successful Croatian military action, he had in haste invited mediators of the European Community to observe this ceasefire negotiations with Ante Marković and Slobodan Milošević.[52] On 30 August 1991 after meeting with President François Mitterrand, Mr. Tuđman said that growing violence posed a "danger for the whole of Europe". Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev met Tuđman at the Kremlin on 1 October 1991.

On October 5, President Tuđman made a speech in which he called upon the whole population to mobilize and defend against "Greater Serbian imperialism" pursued by the Serb-led JNA, Serbian paramilitary formations, and rebel Serb forces. The JNA and Serbian irregulars seized control of about 30 percent of Croatia's territory by the end of 1991. On 14 December 1991, Germany recognized Croatia's sovereignty, and many observers believed that Tuđman's good relationship with Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Germany's foreign minister at the time, had a lot to do with this decision.

Hostilities in Croatia ended for a time in January 1992 when the so-called Sarajevo Agreement was signed, that became a lasting ceasefire. Meanwhile the war had spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where fierce fighting continued until 1995. However, the military situation in Croatia itself remained unsettled. Croatia was recognised by the European Community on 15 January 1992 and became a member of the United Nations on 22 May. Franjo Tuđman won the presidental elections in August 1992 in the first round with 57.8% of the vote.

Tuđman rebuilt and reequipped the Croatian army and in August 1995 caried out Operation Storm that put an end to the war in Croatia.

War in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević meeting in Karađorđevo on alleged agreement

On 25 March 1991 Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević had a meeting at the Karađorđevo hunting ground in northwest Serbia that later became known as the Karađorđevo agreement. The meeting became controversial due to claims that the two presidents discussed the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia. However, the claims came from persons that were not present at the meeting and there is no record of this meeting that proves an existence of such an agreement.[53]

Following the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbs attacked different parts of the country.[clarification needed] The state administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina effectively ceased to function having lost control over the entire territory. The Serbs wanted all lands where Serbs had a majority, eastern and western Bosnia.[citation needed] The Croats and their leader Franjo Tuđman also aimed at securing parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Croatian.[clarification needed] The policies of the Republic of Croatia and its leader Franjo Tuđman towards Bosnia and Herzegovina were never totally transparent and always included Franjo Tuđman's ultimate aim of expanding Croatia's borders.[54][55][56] In the Tihomir Blaškić verdict, the Trial Chamber found that "Croatia, and more specifically former President Tuđman, was hoping to partition Bosnia and exercised such a degree of control over the Bosnian Croats and especially the HVO that it is justified to speak of overall control".[48]

Stjepan Mesić, the former president of Croatia, revealed thousands of documents and audio tapes recorded by Franjo Tuđman about his plans during a case against Croat leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina for war crimes committed against Bosniaks.[57][58] The tapes reveal that Tuđman and Milosević ignored pledges to respect Bosnia's sovereignty, even after signing the Dayton accord.[57][58] In one conversation Tuđman told an official: "Let's make a deal with the Serbs. Neither history nor emotion in the Balkans will permit multinationalism. We have to give up on the illusion of the last eight years ... Dayton isn't working. Nobody - except diplomats and petty officials – believes in a sovereign Bosnia and the Dayton accords".[58] In another he is heard telling a Bosnian Croat ally: "You should give no indication that we wish the three-way division of Bosnia".[57] The tapes also reveal Tuđman's involvement in atrocities against the Bosniaks in Bosnia including the Croatian president covering up war crimes at Ahmići where more than a hundred Bosniak men, women and children were terrorised, and then shot or burned to death.[57][58]

In 2004 six Bosnian Croats (Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Corić and Berislav Pušić (hr)) were indicted by the ICTY for being part of a joint criminal enterprise which included war crimes against the Bosniak population during the creation of an ethnically pure Croatian quasi-state Herzeg-Bosnia on the territory of the internationally recognized state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the indictment numerous persons participated in this joint criminal enterprise. Each participant, by his or her acts, omissions, practices or conduct, both individually and in concert with or through other persons, substantially contributed to carrying out the enterprise and accomplishing its purpose. Franjo Tuđman, among others, participated in the joint criminal enterprise.[59] As the indictment mentions not just the former President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman but also other key Croatian officials (such as Gojko Šušak, former Minister of Defence and Janko Bobetko, a senior army general) the Croatian government filed a motion in 2006 to be allowed to participate in the trial as amicus curiae in order to "assist in the interpretation of historical and political facts and the determination of truth". The ICTY dismissed Croatia's motion, concluding that "it would not be in the interests of justice to allow a state – whose former political and military officials are named in the indictment as the participants in the joint criminal enterprise – to participate in the proceedings as the amicus curiae".[60]

Post-war policy

As a result of the war, infrastructure sustained massive damage, especially the revenue-rich tourism industry. Privatization in Croatia and transformation to a market economy was thus slow and unsteady, largely as a result of public mistrust when many state-owned companies were sold to politically well-connected at below-market prices. With the end of the war, Croatia's economy recovered moderately, but corruption, cronyism, and a general lack of transparency stymied economic reforms and foreign investment.[61] There were accusations that the daughter of Franjo Tuđman, Nevenka Tuđman, participated in an illegal mediation in 1996. In 2002 charges were raised against her,[62] but in 2007 she was freed of charges that she used her social position, arranged business and received commission for it.[63] The method of privatization contributed to the increase of state ownership because the unsold shares were transferred to state funds. In 1999 the private sector share in GDP reached 60%, which was significantly lower than in other former socialist countries.[64] The privatization of large government-owned companies was practically halted during the war and in the years immediately following the conclusion of peace. As of 2000, roughly 70% of Croatia's major companies were still state-owned, including water, electricity, oil, transportation, telecommunications, and tourism.[65]

As a result of the macro-stabilization programs, the negative growth of GDP during the early 1990s stopped and turned into a positive trend. Post-war reconstruction activity provided another impetus to growth. Consumer spending and private sector investments, both of which were postponed during the war, contributed to the growht in 1995-1997. The consumer boom was distrupted when the economy went into recession in mid 1998, as a result of the bank crisis when 14 banks went bankrupt.[61]

During his presidency parts of the media claimed that Tuđman's rule was overtly autocratic and that he showed little sensitivity to public criticism. In particular, allegations concerning civil rights violations against the minority Serb population surfaced.[49] In 2001 a review from the International Press Institute reported an increased number of libel lawsuits that were initiated during Tuđman's mandate.[66] Notably, Tuđman was implicated in covering up the murder of the Zec family.[67]

Some of the opposition parties in Croatia advocated the view that, far from Europeanising Croatia, Tuđman was responsible for its "Balkanisation" and that during his presidency, he acted like a despot. Other parties, for instance HSP, argued that Tuđman was not radical enough in his defence of the Croatian state.[68]

In 1991 football club GNK Dinamo changed its name to HAŠK Građanski, and another name change followed in 1993, when the club was renamed to Croatia Zagreb. The name change was widely seen as a political move by the leadership of then newly independent Croatia, with the goal of distancing the club from its Communist past. However, the name change was never accepted by their supporters, and the club renamed themselves back to Dinamo on 14 February 2000.

Tuđman fell ill with cancer in 1993. Although he recovered, his general health had deteriorated by the late 1990s. On 1 November 1999 he appeared in public for the last time. While being hospitalized opposition parties accused the ruling HDZ of hiding the fact that Tuđman was already dead and that the authorities were keeping his death secret in order to win more seats in the upcoming January 2000 general election. Tuđman's death was officially declared on 10 December 1999.[69]


Tuđman was conferred by the Croatian Parliament the military rank of Supreme commander of Croatia, or 'Vrhovnik' on 22 March 1995.[70][71] It was the highest honorific title in the Croatian Armed Forces and equivalent to Marshal.[72] Tuđman was the only person to ever hold this rank. He held it until his death. The uniform for this position allegedly was modelled on the uniform of Josip Broz Tito, since Franjo Tuđman was Major General of Yugoslav People's Army.[1] The title was eventually abolished in 2002.[73]

War crimes allegations

It is true that Mr. Tuđman was not charged because he is dead, but alive, he would be here on the accused bench. General Bobetko, that he was alive, he would be accused of the bench. It should be borne in mind when talking about a joint criminal enterprise.[74]

—Judge Jean-Claude Antonetti

Had Tuđman lived longer, he would have been possibly brought up on war crimes charges by the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Graham Blewitt, a senior Tribunal prosecutor, told the AFP wire service that "There would have been sufficient evidence to indict president Tuđman had he still been alive".[75] The Tribunal's indictment of Croatian general Ante Gotovina lists Tuđman as a key participant in a "joint criminal enterprise" aimed at the "permanent removal of the Serb population from the "Krajina" region by killing, force, fear or threat of force, persecution, forced displacement, transfer and deportation, appropriation and destruction of property other minority belongings & means".[76] In 1995, Carl Bildt had suggested that Franjo Tuđman was as guilty of war crimes as the "Krajina" Serb leader Milan Martić. Bildt was declared a persona non grata by Croatia following these statements.[77][78] because he "lost the credibility necessary for the role of a peace mediator".[77][78]

In the Trial of Gotovina et al, the Trial Chamber found Franjo Tuđman to had been the leader of a joint criminal enterprise the purpose of which was to permanently remove the Serb civilian population from the territory of Republic of Serbian Krajina. The Chamber found that Tuđman was a key member and that he intended to repopulate the Krajina with Croats.[79] Klaus-Peter Willsch compared the Ante Gotovina verdict, where the late Croatian president Franjo Tuđman was posthumously found to have been participating in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, with the 897 Cadaver Synod trial in Rome, when Pope Stephen VI had the corpse of Pope Formosus exhumed, put on trial and posthumously found guilty.[80] On November 2012, however, ICTY appeal court revoked the verdict and they (Tuđman, Mladen Markač and Ante Gotovina) were found not guilty because of lack of evidence.

In May 2013, the ICTY, in a first-instance verdict against Jadranko Prlić, found that Tuđman was leader of the joint criminal enterprise against the non-Croat population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[81]

Tuđman as historian

Tuđman did not have a formal academic education as historian.[82] He approaches history as a Marxist scholar and Croatian attorney.[83] He always considered history as means of forming society.[84] His voluminous, more than 2,000 pages long, Hrvatska u monarhističkoj Jugoslaviji (English: Croatia in Monarchist Yugoslavia), has come to be assigned as reading material[85] concerning this period of Croatian history at some Croatian universities. His shorter treatises on national question, Nacionalno pitanje u suvremenoj Europi (English: The National question in contemporary Europe) and Usudbene povijestice (English: History's fates) are still well-regarded essays on unresolved national and ethnic disputes, self-determination and creation of nation-states in the European milieu.[citation needed]

Horrors of War

Horrors of War: Historical Reality and Philosophy (Croatian: Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti; literal translation Wastelands of historical reality)

In 1989 Tuđman published his probably most famous work, Horrors of War: Historical Reality and Philosophy (Croatian: Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti; literal translation Wastelands of historical reality) in which he questioned the different claimed numbers of victims killed during World War II in Yugoslavia. It was believed that hyperinflation of Serbian casualties in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) had occurred believing such inflations were used to promote Anti-Croatian sentiment leading into the Yugoslav Wars.[citation needed]

Some Serbian historians had put the number of Serbs killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp at 300,000–800,000, though these figures are not internationally recognized and have been claimed to be inflated for biased reasons. Though some researchers such as the Israeli Yad Vashem and the Simon Wiesenthal Center agree with these figures.[86] However, A number of Croatian historians and many other international organizations such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Jasenovac museum are speaking of less than 100,000 victims. That number is supported also by Croatian Jewish historiographer Ivo Goldstein."Jasenovac". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2007.  "Logor". (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 1 April 2007. 

The last serious research of victim numbers before the Yugoslav wars was conducted by Croatian economist Vladimir Žerjavić and Serbian researcher Bogoljub Kočović. 59,589 victims (of all nationalities) have been identified by name in a Yugoslav name list that was made in 1964. These closely match up with Tudjman's claims. In his book Tuđman had estimated, relying on some earlier investigations, that the total number of victims in the Jasenovac camp (Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, Croats, and others) was somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000.[87]

In his "Horrors of War", Tuđman had accepted historian Gerald Reitlinger's estimates that the number of Jewish deaths during World War II was closer to 4 million as opposed to the most quoted number of 5 to 6 million.[88] Another frequently mentioned quotation is the claim that "the establishment of Hitler's new European order could be justified by the need to remove the Jews".[89] Aside from the war statistics issue, Tuđman's book contained views on the Jewish role in history that many readers found simplistic and profoundly biased. Tuđman based his views on the Jewish condition on the memoirs of Croatian Communist Ante Ciliga, one of the top officials, and later a renegade, of the pre-war Komintern, who described his experiences in the Jasenovac concentration camp during a year and a half of his incarceration. Ciliga's experiences, recorded in his book Sam kroz Europu u ratu (1939–1945), paint an unfavorable picture of his Jewish inmates' behavior, emphasizing their alleged clannishness, ethnocentrism and apartness. Ciliga claimed that Jews had held a privileged position in Jasenovac and actually, as Tuđman concludes, "held in their hands the inmates management of the camp up to 1944", something that was made possible by the idea that "in its origins Pavelić's party was philo-Semitic".[90] Furthermore, Ciliga theorized that the behavior of the Jews had been determined by the more than 2000-year old tradition of extreme ethnic egoism and unscrupulousness that he claims is expressed in the Old Testament.[91] He summarized, among other things, that "The Jews provoke envy and hatred but actually they are 'the unhappiest nation in the world', always victims of 'their own and others' ambitions', and whoever tries to show that they are themselves their own source of tragedy is ranked among the anti-Semites and the object of hatred by the Jews".[91] However, in another part of the book, Tuđman himself did express the belief that these traits weren't unique to the Jews; while criticizing what he alleges to be aggression and atrocities in the Middle East on the part of Israel, he claimed that they arose "from historical unreasonableness and narrowness in which Jewry certainly is no exception".[92]

The accusations of antisemitism primarily based on Horrors of War were sometimes disputed because Tuđman had contacts with representatives of the World Jewish Congress and various[citation needed] Jewish intellectuals, such as (Alain Finkielkraut and Philip J. Cohen). Still, the accusations were invoked by Tuđman's opponents. During his 1990 election campaign, on 16 April 1990 Tuđman said at a rally:

All sorts of other lies are being spread today, I do not know what else they will invent. I've heard that I'm of Jewish descent, but I found, I knew of my ancestors in Zagorje from around 350 years ago, and I said, maybe it would be good to have some of that, I guess I would be richer, I might not have become a Communist. Then, as if that's not enough, then they declare that my wife is Jewish or Serbian. Luckily for me, she never was either, although many wives are. And so on and so forth spreading lies ...


The part of the statement about his wife was later widely criticized, including criticisms by the officials of the Wiesenthal Center.[94] Croatian historian Ante Nazor cited Miroslav Tuđman's and Stijepo Mijović Kočan's later thoughts about the statement being directed against the former Yugoslav communist system rather than against Jews or Serbs; instead about mixed marriages being used by Croats as a means to promotion in the system.[93]

On 22 April 1998, President Tuđman received the credentials of the first Israeli ambassador to Croatia, Natan Meron. In his speech Tuđman said, among other things: "During the Second World War, within the Quisling regime in Croatia, Holocaust crimes were also committed against members of the Jewish people. The Croatian public then, during WWII, and today, including the Croatian government and me personally, have condemned the crimes that the Ustaše committed not only against Jews but also against democratic Croats and even against members of other nations in the Independent State of Croatia".[95]

Relation to the Catholic Church

Živko Kustić, Croatian Eastern Catholic priest and journalist in Jutarnji list wrote that Tuđman's perception of church role in Croatia was quite contradictory to the goals of Pope John Paul II. Moreover, Kustić expressed doubt that Tuđman had ever been truly religious except when he was very young. Tuđman considered the Catholic religion to be important for modern Croatian nation. When he was taking the oath in 1992 he added sentence "Tako mi Bog pomogao!" (English: So help me God ) which was not in the official text.[96] In the 1997 he officially included that sentence in the oath.[96] However, Tuđman's era was the era of the Catholic revival in Croatia. Church attendance rose; even former communists massively participated in church sacraments. The state was funding building and renewal of churches and monasteries. Between 1996 and 1999 Croatia signed various treaties with the Holy See, by which the Catholic Church in Croatia was granted some financial rights, among others.[97] Tuđman was buried in the Roman Catholic rite as a proper religious Catholic. That made some people suspicious since he was not publicly married in church. Tuđman's biographer Darko Hudelist suggests that Tuđman did marry before his death (either voluntarily or under pressure from Zagreb cardinal Franjo Kuharić).[98] However, he admits that there is no material evidence to prove that theory.[99]


Tuđman's grave at the Mirogoj cemetery (in the background)

Tuđman is credited with creating the basis for an independent Croatia, and helping the country move away from communism and towards democracy. He is sometimes given the title "father of the country" for his role the country's independence. His legacy is still strong in many parts of Croatia as well as in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatian majorities; there are schools, squares and streets in some cities named after him, and statues have been erected. Plans to create a square in Zagreb after the late president, proposed by his family and supporters, encountered discontent among the citizens. Their attempt of changing the Roosevelt or Marshal Tito Square failed, and a large square near the Ilica Street in Črnomerec, Zagreb was named after him in December 2006.[101] In December 2002 poll by Croatian web-portal 69% voters expressed positive opinion about Tuđman.[102] In a June 2011 poll by Večernji list, 62% voters gave the most credit to Tuđman for the creation of independent Croatia.[103]

The transition to a democratic state has proven slower and more problematic in Croatia than in other CEEC candidates for EU accession. Mostly due to the years of war where the main focus was on how to defend from Serbian forces and stop the war and partly due of communism legacy.[citation needed]

President Tuđman, who came to power in 1990 and presented himself as the 'hero of national resistance to Belgrade's hegemony', no longer enjoyed the unanimous support of the Croatian public by the end of the millennium. Signs of discontent were the social problems arising from an unemployment rate variously estimated at between 18 and 20%.


  • Wife Ankica Tuđman – head of the Za djecu Hrvatske (For the children of Croatia) humanitarian fund
  • Son Miroslav Tuđman (born 1946)[104] – secret service chief during his father's presidency, independent right-wing candidate for the 2010 election.
  • Son Stjepan Tuđman
  • Daughter Nevenka Tuđman (born 1951)[105]
  • Grandson Dejan Košutić (son of Nevenka) – in the beginning of Franjo Tuđman's presidency he was the owner of a company that imported drinks;[citation needed] later Dejan Košutić built a private shooting range "Domagojevi strijelci".[citation needed] Afterwards, he was a part-owner of the Kaptol banka – the bank was liquidated because of a negative media campaign.[citation needed] In 2002 he opened a business for package delivery in Serbia, in 2005 he started an information security consulting company in Croatia, and in 2008 he founded the Information Security portal.[106]
  • Grandson Siniša Košutić (son of Nevenka) – race car driver
  • Grandson Franjo Tuđman – illegitimate son of Stjepan Tuđman.

Honours and decorations


Awarded by the Croatian Parliament in 1995:[107]

Military rank



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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ivo Latin
(as President of the Presidency of Croatia)
post created
President of Croatia

30 May 1990 – 10 December 1999
Succeeded by
Vlatko Pavletić (acting)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Post established
President of the Croatian Democratic Union
17 May 1989 – 10 December 1999
Succeeded by
Vladimir Šeks (acting)
Military offices
Preceded by
New Title
22 March 1995 – 10 December 1999
Succeeded by
Title Abolished