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|President of the Croatian Peasant Party|
8 August 1928 – 15 May 1964
|Preceded by||Stjepan Radić|
|Succeeded by||Juraj Krnjević|
|Deputy Prime Minister|
26 August 1939 – April 1941
|Prime Minister||Ivan Šubašić
|Succeeded by||Juraj Krnjević|
|Leader of the Opposition|
8 August 1928 – 26 August 1939
|Born||20 July 1879
|Died||15 May 1964 (aged 84)
Washington DC, United States of America
|Political party||Croatian Peasant Party|
|Relations||Stanisław Maczek (cousin)|
|Alma mater||University of Zagreb|
Vladko Maček (20 June 1879 – 15 May 1964) was a Croatian politician active within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the first half of the 20th century. He led the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) following the assassination of Stjepan Radić, and all through World War II.
Maček was born to a Slovene-Czech family in the village of Kupinec near Jastrebarsko, southwest of Zagreb. A famous Polish general Stanisław Maczek was his cousin. In 1903 Vladko earned a law degree at University of Zagreb. After clerking at various Croatian courts he opened private law practice in 1908 in Sv. Ivan Zelina.
Maček joined Croatian Peasant Party since its founding. After World War I, during which he had served in Austro-Hungarian Army, he became close associate of Stjepan Radić. In 1925, after Radić's visit to Moscow and the Croatian Peasant Party joining the Peasants International, he was arrested by Royal Yugoslav authorities. While in jail, he was elected to the National Assembly. A few months later HSS joined the government, paving the way for Maček to be released.
HSS leadership and Banate of Croatia
Maček became the leader of the party on 13 August 1928 following Radić's assassination. He quickly became one of the main opponents of King Alexander and his dictatorship. For that he was again arrested in April 1933 and sentenced to three years in jail for treason. He was released following Alexander's assassination in 1934. His stated aim during that period was to transform Yugoslavia from unitary state, dominated by ethnic Serbs, into new form of state organization in which Croatia would have its statehood restored. Maček's ideas appealed to large numbers of Croats and Croatian Peasant Party gradually gained supporters among all classes and followers of all ideologies. Maček also nurtured close relations with other opposition parties in Yugoslavia and although his coalition lost elections in 1938, it remained the force to be reckoned with.
Maček's persistence and political skills finally paid off in August 1939 with Dragiša Cvetković in the Cvetković-Maček Agreement and creation of Banate (Banovina) of Croatia, a semi-autonomous entity which contained Croatia and large sections of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina. HSS became part of the coalition government while Maček himself became deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia.
World War II
This triumph proved to be short-lived, because Banovina collapsed together with Yugoslavia following Axis invasion in April 1941. Seen by Germany as an ideal leader of a new Axis puppet - the Independent State of Croatia - Maček was offered the opportunity to become prime minister of the new state, but he refused the offer twice - being one of the few Croatian (and European) politicians at the time to believe that the Axis would ultimately lose the war. Instead, his main aim was to preserve Croatian people from war and unnecessary suffering. He called supporters of HSS to respect and co-operate with the new regime of Ante Pavelić, while at the same time he delegated Juraj Krnjević to represent Croatian people in Yugoslav government-in-exile.
Maček's strategy proved to be detrimental for his party and himself. In October 1941 he was arrested and put in Jasenovac concentration camp where he was put under watch of Ljubo Miloš for some time. Five months later, 16 of March 1942, he was put into house arrest at his home in Kupinec together with his family and they shared his internment, first in Kupinec then two months of 1943 (9 January to 9 March) in Luburić's Zagreb apartment (which they shared with Luburić's aged mother and his two sisters) and finally from 9 December 1943 until the collapse of Pavelić's Ustaša regime in May 1945 in his Prilaz 9 house in Zagreb. In the meantime, HSS began to fracture itself on ideological lines - some of its members joined the Ustaše while other joined Tito's Partisans. Although bitterly opposed to the former, he was equally distrustful to the latter and in 1945 he emigrated, first to France, then to the USA.
On June 12, 1945 Maček was received by French foreign minister Georges Bidault who offered him the right to residence in France. He visited the United States for the first time in 1946 after receiving a visa by orders of the Department of State. He was received by mayor David L. Lawrence of Pittsburgh while delivering a speech in that city. He helped found the International Peasants' Union along with Georgi Mihov Dimitrov in 1947.
Still respected in exile, he was offered to lead the numerous Croatian emigration, but he refused. He died in Washington D.C. of a heart attack on May 15, 1964 a month short of his 85th birthday. His remains were brought to Croatia in 1996 and buried at the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb. He was posthumously awarded the Grand Order of King Dmitar Zvonimir in 2004.
- Stanisław Maczek, Vladko Maček's cousin
- Ramet 2006, pp. 74.
- Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans: Twentieth century. Cambridge University Press, 1983. (p. 201)
- Vladko Maček, In the Struggle for Freedom, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park and London, 1957, Chapter XVI: Prison Again, pages 244-253.
- Branka Boban, Vladko Maček in Emigration – From Leaving Croatia in 1945 until His Departure to the USA. Journal - Institute of Croatian History, Vol.39 No.1 October 2007.
- U.S. View Macek No War Criminal, The Windsor Daily Star, Sep 26, 1946.
- Croat Leader Visits Here, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sep 13, 1946.
- 185 27.12.2004 Odluka o odlikovanju posmrtno dr. Vladka Mačeka Veleredom kralja Dmitra Zvonimira s lentom i Danicom
- Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918–2005. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34656-8.
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