Vladko Maček

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Vladko Maček
Vladko Maček crop.jpg
Maček takes an oath to become vice president of Yugoslav government-in-exile
President of the Croatian Peasant Party
In office
8 August 1928 – 15 May 1964
Preceded by Stjepan Radić
Succeeded by Juraj Krnjević
Deputy Prime Minister
In office
26 August 1939 – April 1941
Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković
Dušan Simović
Succeeded by Juraj Krnjević
Leader of the Opposition
In office
8 August 1928 – 26 August 1939
Personal details
Born (1879-07-20)20 July 1879
Jastrebarsko, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
Died 15 May 1964(1964-05-15) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C., United States
Nationality Croat
Political party Croatian Peasant Party
Relations Stanisław Maczek (cousin)
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Occupation Politician, lawyer

Vladimir "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 1929 assassination of Stjepan Radić, and through World War II.

Early life[edit]

Maček was born into a Slovene-Czech family in the village of Kupinec near Jastrebarsko, southwest of Zagreb. The famous Polish general Stanisław Maczek was his cousin. In 1903, he earned a law degree at University of Zagreb. After clerking at various Croatian courts he opened a private law practice in 1908 in Sv. Ivan Zelina. He joined the Croatian Peasant Party at its founding. After World War I, during which he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army, he became a close associate of Stjepan Radić. In 1925, after Radić's visit to Moscow and the Croatian Peasant Party joining the Peasants International, Maček was arrested by the Royal Yugoslav authorities. While in jail, he was elected to the National Assembly. In July 1925, after HSS had joined the government, Maček was released.[1]

HSS leadership and Banovina of Croatia[edit]

Croatian Ban Ivan Šubašić, Vladko Maček and Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac opening the Sava Bridge in Zagreb

Maček became the leader of the party on 13 August 1928 following Radić's assassination.[2] He quickly became a main opponent of King Alexander and was arrested in April 1933 and sentenced to three years in jail for treason.[3]

Maček was released following Alexander's assassination in 1934. His stated aim during that period was to transform Yugoslavia from a unitary state, dominated by ethnic Serbs, into a new form of state organization in which Croatian statehood would be restored. His ideas appealed to a majority of Croats, and the Croatian Peasant Party gradually gained popularity. He nurtured close relations with other opposition parties in Yugoslavia and, although his coalition lost elections in 1938, it remained a force for reckoning. His persistence and political skills finally paid off in August 1939 with Dragiša Cvetković in the Cvetković–Maček Agreement and the creation of the Banovina of Croatia (Banovina), 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.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

This triumph proved to be short-lived as Banovina collapsed along with Yugoslavia when it was invaded by the Axis invasion in April 1941. Seen by Nazi Germany as an ideal leader of a new Axis puppet state—the Independent State of Croatia—Maček was offered the opportunity to become prime minister, but refused the offer twice. He called on the supporters of HSS to respect and co-operate with the new regime of Ante Pavelić, while at the same time delegating Juraj Krnjević to represent the Croatian people in the Yugoslav government-in-exile.[citation needed]

Maček's strategy proved to be detrimental both for his party and himself. In October 1941 he was arrested and interned in Jasenovac concentration camp where he was put under the watch of Ljubo Miloš for some time.[4] Five months later, on 16 March 1942, he was placed under house arrest together with his family at his home in Kupinec. His family 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.[4] In the meantime, HSS began to fracture along ideological lines—some of its members joined the Ustaše, while others joined Tito's Partisans. Although bitterly opposed to the former, Maček was equally distrustful of the latter and in 1945 emigrated, first to France, then to the U.S.[4]

Later life[edit]

Maček's memorial in the Peasant Party's arcade in Mirogoj

On 12 June 1945 Maček was received by French foreign minister Georges Bidault who offered him the right of domicile in France.[5] He visited the United States for the first time in 1946 after receiving a visa by order of the Department of State.[6] He was received by mayor David L. Lawrence of Pittsburgh while delivering a speech in that city.[7]

Last years/death[edit]

Maček helped found the International Peasants' Union along with Georgi Mihov Dimitrov in 1947. He was offered the leadership of the numerous Croatian émigré groups, but refused. He died of a heart attack in Washington D.C. on 15 May 1964, aged 84. His remains were taken to Croatia in 1996 and buried in the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb. He was posthumously awarded the Grand Order of King Dmitar Zvonimir in 2004.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maček, Vladko". Croatian Encyclopedia (in Croatian). Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  2. ^ Ramet 2006, p. 74.
  3. ^ Jelavich, Barbara (1983). History of the Balkans: Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 201. ISBN 0-521-25249-0. 
  4. ^ a b c Maček, Vladko (1957). "XVI: Prison Again". In the Struggle for Freedom. University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 244–253. ISBN 978-0-271-06665-3. 
  5. ^ Boban, Branka (2007). "Vladko Maček u emigraciji – od izlaska iz zemlje do odlaska u SAD" [Vladko Maček in Emigration – From Leaving Croatia in 1945 until His Departure to the USA]. Radovi Zavoda za hrvatsku povijest (in Croatian). 39 (1): 243–258. 
  6. ^ "U.S. View Maček [As] No War Criminal", The Windsor Daily Star, 26 September 1946.
  7. ^ "Croat Leader Visits Here", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 13 September 1946.[page needed]
  8. ^ "Odluka o odlikovanju posmrtno dr. Vladka Mačeka Veleredom kralja Dmitra Zvonimira s lentom i Danicom". nn.hr (in Croatian). Narodne novine. 27 December 2004. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 

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