Military Wiki
Franjo Tuđman
1st[a] 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
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]
Unit 10th Zagreb Corps[3]
Battles/wars World War II
^a 1st counting from the 1990 Croatian parliamentary election. 17th Croatian president overall.

Franjo Tuđman (pronounced [fraːɲo tudʑmaːn]; 14 May 1922 – 10 December 1999) was a Croatian politician. 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 Yugoslav partisans, becoming later the youngest general in the Yugoslav army. After his military career, he 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.

He became President in 1990, as the HDZ won the first post-communist multi-party elections, and a year later he proclaimed Croatian independence. He was re-elected twice and remained in power until his death in 1999.

In May 2013, the ICTY, in a first-instance verdict against Jadranko Prlić, found that Tuđman took part in the joint criminal enterprise against the non-Croat population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[4]

Early years

Franjo Tuđman's birthplace 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. His father Stjepan ran a local tavern and was a politically active member of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).[5] 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.)[6] Mato, Andraš and Juraj, brothers of Stjepan Tuđman, emigrated to America.[7] 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.[7]

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).[7] When Franjo Tuđman was 7 his mother Justina (née Gmaz [8]) died [9] while bearing her fifth child.[8] 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.[5] As a child Franjo Tuđman served as an altar boy in the local parish.[10] Franjo Tuđman attended elementary school in his native village from 15 September 1929 to 30 June 1933 and was an excellent student.[11]

He attended secondary school for eight years, starting in the autumn 1935.[12] The reasons for the interruption are not clear, but it is assumed that the primary cause was an economic crisis in that period.[13] According to some sources the local parish helped young Franjo to continue his education[14] and his teacher even proposed him to be educated to become a priest.[15] When he was 15 his father brought him to Zagreb, where he met Vladko Maček, the president of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).[5] At first young Franjo liked the HSS, but later he turned towards communism.[16] On 5 November 1940 he was arrested during student demonstrations celebrating the anniversary of the Soviet October revolution.[17]

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.[17] He was recruited into the Yugoslav partisans at the beginning of 1942 by Marko Belinić.[17]

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.[17] They both managed to survive, unlike the youngest brother Stjepan[17] who was killed by the Gestapo[18] 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.[17] On 11 May 1942, while carrying Belinić's letter, he was arrested by the Ustaše, but managed to escape from the police station.[17]

Career in Belgrade

Franjo Tuđman and Ankica Žumbar were married on 25 May 1945 at the Belgrade city council.[19] In this way they wanted to confirm their faith in the communist movement and the importance of civil ritual over religious ones.[19] (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.[19]

On 26 April 1946 his father Stjepan and stepmother were found dead.[19] 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).[19] 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.[20] He graduated from the Partisan High school in 1945 and she finished five semesters of English language in the Yugoslav Foreign Office.[20]

In 1953 Tuđman was promoted to the position of colonel and in 1959 he became a major general.[20] At the age of 38, he had become the youngest general in the Yugoslav army.

His promotion was not extreme but it was atypical for a Croat because senior officers were increasingly likely to be Serbs and Montenegrins.[20] In 1962 Serbs and Montenegrins composed 70% of army generals.[21]

Tuđman attended the military academy in Belgrade,[22] like many officers who did not have formal military education. He graduated from the tactical school on 18 July 1957 as an excellent student.[23] One of his teachers was Dušan Bilandžić, his future advisor.[24]

In 1952 he became president of TK Partizan tennis club.[25] On 23 May 1954 he became secretary of JSD Partizan Belgrade[26] and in May 1958 its president,[26] becoming the first colonel to occupy that position (all previous holders were generals).[26] 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.[27] That has caused clubs (despite having notable and good players) to have bad results, especially its football section.[28] 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.[29] 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.[30] 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".[22] 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.[22] His insistence on a Croatian interpretation of history turned many professors from University of Zagreb like Mirjana Gross and Ljubo Boban against him.[31]

In April 1964 Boban denounced Tuđman as a "nationalist".[31] During Tuđman's leadership the Institute became a source of alternative interpretations of Yugoslav history which caused his conflict with official Yugoslav historiography.[24] 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.[32] 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.[33][32] 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.[32] Bogdanov and Milutinović (both ethnic Serbs) did not object to this.[32] However, the publisher "Naprijed" from Zagreb cancelled the contract with him following his refusal to change some "controversial" statements in the book.[32]

Tuđman publicly supported the goals of Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Literary Language.[Clarification needed] The Parliament of Croatia and League of Communists of Croatia from Zagreb, however, attacked it and the board of the institute requested Tuđman's resignation.[34]

In December 1966 Ljubo Boban accused Tuđman of plagiarism.[35] 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.[35] Tuđman was then expelled from the Institute and forced to retire in 1967.[22]

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.[22]

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 1971 he was sentenced to two years in prison for subversive activities during the Croatian Spring. According to Tuđman's own testimony, 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.[22] According to Tuđman, he and Tito were close friends.[36]
However, Tuđman described Tito's crackdown on the Croatian spring as an "autocratic coup d'état".[37] 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.[38] 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. [38] 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.[39] However, he served only eleven months of the sentence.[22]

In June 1987 he became a member of the Croatian PEN centre.[22] On 6 June 1987 he travelled to Canada with his wife Ankica in order to meet members of the Croatian Canadian community.[40] 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.[41]

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.[42]

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,[43] 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".[44] 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.[45]

On 17 June 1989, Tuđman founded the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), together with some radical nationalists.

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.

His first journey in 1989 was to the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt in Austria, where, as a General of the old Yugoslav Army he persuaded his friends to convene a public meeting organized on 5 March 1989, where he met people like Ivo Sanader, Ivan Milas and others. Immediately Fiat, a co-manufacturer of Zastava in Serbia also still in Yugoslavia as Croatia at that time wanted to buy and extend the factory, which at the time was producing more than 250,000 cars a year. Slobodan Milošević personally intervened. "We will not sell off our country's wealth".[46] The Break-up of Yugoslavia and its Brotherhood and unity became a fait accompli.

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 commandind positions in the police, security forces, the media and factories.[47] 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".[48]

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.

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.[49] 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.

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.[47] In 2001 a review from the International Press Institute reported an increased number of libel lawsuits that were initiated during Tuđman's mandate.[50] Notably, Tuđman was implicated in covering up the murder of the Zec family.[51]

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.[52]


Tuđman was conferred by Parliament of Croatia, the military rank of Supreme commander of Croatia, or 'Vrhovnik' on 22 March 1995.[53][54] It was the highest honorific title in the Croatian Armed Forces and equivalent to Marshal.[55] 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.[56]


The most common accusation is that of and despotism. The opposition to Tuđman's ruling HDZ party advocated the view that, far from Europeanising Croatia, Tuđman was responsible for its "Balkanisation", and despite claiming that Croatia belonged to the Central European political sphere, he acted like a Balkan despot.[57] Hence, it was claimed, Franjoism had nothing to do with either the legacy of Croatian state-right or its political and social culture and was thus self-defeating in its attempt to distance Croatia from all things Yugoslav, as it was only through Franjoism that the two were related.

War involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

File:Tuđman Milošević meeting while writing the Karađorđevo agreement.GIF

Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević meeting in Karađorđevo on alleged agreement

Secret discussions between Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević on the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia were held as early as March 1991 and are known as the Karađorđevo agreement. Despite the name "agreement" all "proofs" for this "agreement" are based on rumors of persons that were not present at the meeting.[58] There is no record of this meeting that proves existence of any agreement.[58] 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.[59][60][61] 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".[45]

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.[62][63] The tapes reveal that Tuđman and Milosević ignored pledges to respect Bosnia's sovereignty, even after signing the Dayton accord.[62][63] 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".[63] In another he is heard telling a Bosnian Croat ally: "You should give no indication that we wish the three-way division of Bosnia".[62] 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.[62][63]

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.[64] 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".[65]

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.[66]

—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".[67] 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".[68] 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.[69][70] because he "lost the credibility necessary for the role of a peace mediator".[69][70]

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.[71] 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.[72] On November 2012, however, ICTY appeal court revoked the verdict and they (Tuđman, Mladen Markač and Ante Gotovina) were found innocent.

Privatization controversy

President Tuđman initiated the process of privatization and de-nationalization in Croatia. However, this was far from transparent and fully legal.[citation needed] The fact that the new government's legal system was inefficient and slow, as well as the wider context of the Yugoslav wars caused numerous incidents known collectively in Croatia as the "privatization robbery" (Croatian language: privatizacijska pljačka ).[citation needed] Nepotism was endemic and during this period many influential individuals with the backing of the ruling party acquired state-owned property and companies at extremely low prices, afterwards selling them off piecemeal to the highest bidder for much larger sums.[citation needed] In the vast majority of cases this caused the bankruptcy of the (previously successful) firm, causing the unemployment of thousands of citizens, a problem Croatia still struggles with to this day.[citation needed]

It is also beyond doubt that not few shadowy figures who moved close to Tuđman, the centre of power in Croatian society, profited from this enormously, having amassed wealth with suspicious celerity[citation needed]. Although this phenomenon is common to chaotic reforms in most post-communist societies (the best example being Russia with its "oligarchs"), the majority of Croats[citation needed] are of the opinion that Tuđman could and should have prevented at least a part of these malfeasances because nothing similar had happened to Slovenia, which had also been part of the former Yugoslavia.

The charge of nepotism and favoritism (elitism), frequently levelled at Tuđman himself, has been resolved in 2007 when his daughter, Nevenka Tuđman, was found guilty of corruption, but acquitted because too many years had passed since the time of the crime.[73][74] There are also other instances of apparent family nepotism. His son Miroslav Tuđman occupied the position of Chief of the HIS, the Croatian secret service, during the time of his father's presidency.[75] Franjo Tuđman is often accused of having acquired his personal property by dishonest means.[76]

Horrors of War

Horrors of War: Historical Reality and Philosophy (Croatian language: 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 language: Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti

literal translation Wastelands of historical reality) in which he questioned the official numbers of victims killed during World War II in Yugoslavia. It then slowly spirals towards the true center of his work
the attack on what he claimed was a hyperinflation of Serbian casualties in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH).[citation needed]

Most Serbian mainstream historians had put the number of Serbs killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp at 300,000–800,000. Serbian historian Pero Morača claimed that all Croats supported Ustaše during World War II.[77] Many researchers such as the Israeli Yad Vashem and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, still maintains similar figures, which were also reported by German, Italian, Croatian and Partisan generals during the war.[78] However, some Croatian historians and some 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.[79][80]

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. 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. These figures are considerably lower than the generally accepted numbers, which caused ample controversy. Tuđman had also claimed that many victims of the camp were not actually killed but perished due to unhealthy living conditions.[81]

An article published in April 1993 in The New York Times had quoted Simon Wiesenthal as saying that Tuđman had estimated in the book that 900,000 Jews (instead of six million) had perished in the Holocaust.[82] Croatian officials called the claim a mistranslation fabricated by political opponents, saying that Tuđman had only questioned the number of Jews killed in the NDH.[82] The American Jewish Committee then provided a translation of the book in which Tuđman alleged that the estimate "of six million dead is based to the greatest extent on emotionally biased testimonies as well as on one-sided and exaggerated data on postwar calculations of war crimes and on the settling of accounts with the defeated perpetrators of war crimes".[82] Mario Nobilo, Croatia's Ambassador to the United States at the time, said that Tuđman was only opposed to using numbers for political reasons and added that Tuđman's estimate of the total number of Jews killed in World War II was between five to six million.[82]

In his "Horrors of War", Tuđman had accepted historian Gerald Reitlinger's estimates that the number of Jewish victims during World War II was closer to 4 million as opposed to the most quoted number of 5 to 6 million men, women and children murdered.[83] 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".[84] 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".[85] 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.[86] 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".[86] 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".[87]

Accusations of chauvinism

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.[82] 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.[88]

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".[89]

NK Croatia Zagreb naming dispute

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GNK Dinamo is a football club from Zagreb. In 1991 it was renamed into HAŠK Građanski and in 1993 into NK Croatia Zagreb. Tuđman opposed renaming it to Dinamo. According to him name Dinamo was too communist. The name Dinamo was chosen by communists of Zagreb inspired by other clubs from communist countries like Dinamo Moscow, Dinamo Kiev, Dinamo Bucureşti, Dinamo Tirana etc. That caused a conflict between Bad Blue Boys and club officials. Bad Blue Boys objected to Tuđman that they used to defend "Croaticity" under the same name in Communist Yugoslavia. Dinamo had a fame for being supported by Croatian nationalists. Tuđman had a vision of NK Croatia as powerful European club. He was open supporter of it and was accused for inappropriate involving into the work of the club. The conflict ended when the club renamed itself back to "Dinamo" couple months after Tuđman's death and HDZ's loss on parliaments elections.

Tuđman as historian

Tuđman did not have a formal academic education as historian.[90] He approaches history as a Marxist scholar and Croatian attorney.[91] He always considered history as means of forming society.[92] 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[93] 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] His most famous work Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti (English: Horrors of war), has become regarded, by the majority of Croatian analysts and historians, as a book of historical importance only.[Clarification needed]

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.[94] In the 1997 he officially included that sentence in the oath.[94] However, Tuđman's era was the era of the Catholic revival in Croatia. Church attendance rose; even former communists massively stated with church sacraments. The state was funding building and renewal of churches and monasteries. Between 1996–1999 Croatia has signed various threaties with the Holy See by which the Catholic Church in Croatia was granted some financial and other rights.[95] Tuđman was buried with Roman Catholic rite as proper religious Catholic. That made some suspiocios since he was not publicly Catholic marriage|married in church. Tuđman's biographer Darko Hudelist suggests that Tuđman did get marry before his death (either volunteerly or upon the pressure of Zagreb cardinal Franjo Kuharić).[96] However, he admits that there are no material evidence that prove that theory.[97]


Mr. President, like all the great people during life you will not wait enough for the proper interpretation of your merits for the nation, it will be done only by future generations, but believe me it will be done. You'll be a great man of Croatian history, but not during your life, but when ratings will be made with cool heads.


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.[99] In December 2002 poll by Croatian web-portal 69% voters expressed positive opinion about Tuđman.[100] In a June 2011 poll by Večernji list, 62% voters gave the most credit to Tuđman for the creation of independent Croatia.[101]

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.

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 – secret service chief during his father's presidency, independent right-wing candidate for the 2010 election.
  • Son Stjepan Tuđman
  • Daughter Nevenka Tuđman – found guilty of corruption but never imprisoned because too many years had passed from the time of the crime which was during her father's presidency.[102]
  • 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.[103]
  • 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:[104]

Military rank



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  • Hudelist, Darko (2004) (in Croatian). Tuđman – biografija. Zagreb: Profil. ISBN 953-12-0038-6. 
  • Radelić, Zdenko (2006) (in Croatian). Hrvatska u Jugoslaviji 1945. – 1991.. Zagreb: Školska knjiga. ISBN 953-0-60816-0. 
  • Sadkovich, James J. (2010) (in Croatian). Tuđman – Prva politička biografija. Zagreb: Večernji list. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/953-7313-72-2|953-7313-72-2]]. 
  • Tanner, Marcus (2001). Croatia : a nation forged in war (2nd ed.). New Haven; London: Yale University Press. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0-300-09125-0|0-300-09125-0]]. 
  • Tuđman, Franjo (1989) (in Croatian). Bespuća povijesne zbiljnosti : rasprava o povijesti i filozofiji zlosilja (2nd ed.). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/86-401-0042-7|86-401-0042-7]]. 

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

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