A trio of authors, Nikola Benčić, Štefan Zvonarić and Miroslav Šašić, have produced the first textbook covering the history of the ethnic Croatian enclave of Gradišće. The book was published by the Gradišće-Croatian Culture Association and funded through education institutions in Austria and Croatia.
Applying a modern methodological concept in history instruction, a trio of authors, Nikola Benčić, Štefan Zvonarić and Miroslav Šašić, have penned the first textbook covering the history of the ethnic Croatian enclave of Gradišće. The volume was published by the Gradišće-Croatian Culture Association, the oldest such ethnic Croatian association in this enclave, in the capital of Austria’s Gradišće/Burgenland federal region in 2018. The book was promoted in Zagreb at the Croatian Museum of Education on the 30th of May. Joining the museum’s director and the president of the Gradišće-Croatian Culture Association at the event were many guests of honour from Croatia and Austria, with a music programme performed by the church choir of Veliki Borištof (Großwarasdorf). Everyone was welcomed by Gradišće-Croatian Culture Association president Stanko Horvath, a member of the Croatian Government’s advisory body on Croats abroad, and by Milan Bošnjak of the Central State Office for Croatians Abroad, followed by presentations by Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts member Benčić and his co-authors Zvonarić and Šašić.
The book is an innovative single-volume secondary school textbook covering general history subjects with a comprehensive treatment of the Gradišće Croatian component from prehistory to the present day in the territory of the modern-day European countries of Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. The book was financed by the Austrian federal ministry for education and science and Croatia’s Central State Office for Croatians Abroad. It presents complex, layered, diverse and multifunctional historiographical content of exceptional clarity. Endeavouring at all time to be as accessible as possible to pupils, who are the focal point of the training and education process conducted in multilingual and multicultural European regions, the authors have created a remarkably coherent and methodologically consistent textbook. The latter attribute reflects the happy meeting of this team of authors, created in the direct practical joy they take in the study of Croatian history and culture in the new and old homeland. In the late fifteenth and in the course of the sixteenth century, namely, faced with Ottoman incursions, Croatians moved out of the Lika, Krbava, western Bosnia, Kordun, Banovina, Gorksi Kotar and Slavonia regions and resettled in western Hungary, Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, Slovakia and Moravia, continuing their lives and creative work there in over three hundred settlements. In these many centuries of history of the Gradišće enclaves only the Geschichte des Burgenlandes (1996) textbook had offered a partial recounting of the Croatian history of the region, but lacking the more modern interpretations presented in the leading lights of Gradišće Croatian historiographic primers that cover the four centuries of Croatian presence in these destinations, such as Ivan Dobrović’s first and second primers (published in 1924 and 1929), Jožef Dreisker’s 1872 volume Pripetenja Ugrov, or even Mate Karal’s 1880 tome Povesti Ugarske (“A History of Hungary”). Also significant and relevant in this context are the historiographical oeuvres of Dragutin Pavličević, Mate Ujević, Alojz Jembrih and Željko Holjevac, authors from Croatia proper. The team of authors, following an initiative of Gradišće-Croatian Culture Association president Stanko Horvath, undertook the innovative structuring of the gap presented by the lack of a comprehensive textbook covering the general history of the ethnic Croatian Gradišće enclave. They appear to have succeeded in their mission if we are to judge by the excellent reviews of the education authorities in Austria. Thus, this textbook can be used in classroom instruction not only in Austria, but also in Hungary and Slovakia as of this school year. An abundance of photographs of prominent figures and key events, other illustrations covering showcase points of interest, and maps complement the text of this 312-page volume. The befitting layout of these quality images as an integral part of the text provides pupils with additional information on events in history. The quantity of information and the method of interpretation of historical processes, events and figures is appropriate to the interests of secondary school age pupils. The authors’ high level of awareness of the multilingual backgrounds of the pupils informed the linguistic and stylistic level of the textbook narrative printed on the margins of the pages that aims to facilitate both a comprehension of historical issues and their easier learning at the level of terminology presented in three languages (the local Gradišće dialect of Croatian, standard Croatian, German and Hungarian). The authors drew on the latest results of historiographic research, providing pupils with insight into the most recent interpretations of national history.
The content is presented in ten thematic sections: 1. An Introduction from Prehistory to the Great European Migrations; 2. Life in the Old Homeland; 3. The New Homeland; 4. The Wars of the Seventeenth Century and the Resistance to Habsburg Policies; 5. The Nineteenth Century; 6. The Early Nineteenth Century; 7. Between the World Wars; 8. The Second World War; 9. The World After the Second World War; and 10. The Contemporary World, covering the period right up to the present twenty-first century, which saw all the Gradišće Croatian enclaves united under the umbrella of the European Union, including, as of 2013, their land of origin, Croatia. Each section also includes a summary and notes of interest. The textbook includes references and citations with multiple indexes of towns and villages, states and provinces, mountains, rivers and seas and a list of illustration sources. Contributing their efforts to the team of authors were Mirko Berlakovich and Ivan Rotter, responsible for the language and style editing, Katja Wukovits, who did the cover design, and Matthias Wagner, who produced the fantastic layout of this textbook.
By: Vesna Kukavica