Jakša Kušan’s Forgotten Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Croatia

Josip Mihaljević

Croatian Institute of History

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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 13 Issue 1  (2024):107-132 DOI 10.38145/2024.1.107

Croatian journalist and writer Jakša Kušan (1931–2019) was one of the most prominent Croatian émigré dissidents. By editing and publishing the non-partisan magazine Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia), he tried to inform the global public about the suppression of human rights and civil liberties in socialist Yugoslavia, even under constant threat of being attacked by the Yugoslav secret police. After the fall of communism, he returned to Croatia and continued his work in the media and the civil sector for a brief time. In this article, I offer an overview of the most relevant of Kušan’s oppositional activities during the period of communist rule in Croatia and Yugoslavia and consider the roles and impact of his activities. I also venture some explanation as to why his life and work have mostly been forgotten in today’s Croatia. One possible answer to this question could be his complex relationships with the Croatian dissidents who won the first multiparty elections in Croatia in 1990. My discussion is based on the findings of the COURAGE project (Cultural Opposition – Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries), oral history sources, and archival documents of the Yugoslav secret police.

Keywords: Jakša Kušan, Croatian émigré, dissent, socialist Yugoslavia, Croatia, democracy, COURAGE project, Yugoslav secret service

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