Tias Mortigjija

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Tias Mortigjija
Born(1913-04-07)7 April 1913
Dubrovnik, Austria-Hungary
Died14 September 1947(1947-09-14) (aged 34)
near Samobor, FNR Jugoslavija
Occupationwriter, journalist
Nationality Croatian
Notable workschief editor of Ustaša Weekly news magazine Spremnost

Tias Mortigjija (7 April 1913 14 September 1947) was a Croatian journalist, publicist, and member of the Croatian Historical Revolution, best known for his activities during the existence of the Independent State of Croatia. During this period he was chief editor of the most important Croatian newspaper and magazine, Spremnost .

Croats Slavic ethnic group

Croats or Croatians are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group native to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are also a recognized minority in a number of neighboring countries, namely Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Independent State of Croatia Former country, fascist puppet state

The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II fascist puppet state of Germany and Italy. It was established in parts of occupied Yugoslavia on 10 April 1941, after the invasion by the Axis powers. Its territory consisted of most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia, but also excluded many Croat-populated areas in Dalmatia, Istria, and Međimurje regions.

Spremnost was a weekly newsmagazine of former Ustaše movement from Zagreb, that has written about everything, politics, war, economy and culture. Magazine was published from the beginning of 1942 until breakdown of the Independent State of Croatia in May 1945.


Early life

Mortigjija was born in Dubrovnik, then part of the Austria-Hungary, on 7 April 1913. He attended elementary school and high school in his native town. As a high school student, he began to publish poems, reviews, articles and debates in several Croatian newspapers and magazines. After completing high school in 1931, he enrolled in University of Zagreb, studying history and geography. He completed study in 1940, just before World War II. During his study at the University of Zagreb he continued publishing and served as the editor of various journals between 1933 and 1936. [1] Mortigjija was appointed as an assistant in the department of economic history at the High Economic and Commercial school in Zagreb, but never worked in the position because he was too busy doing editorial work.

Dubrovnik City in Dubrovnik-Neretva, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a city on the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Its total population is 42,615. In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union between 1867 and 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed when the Austrian Empire adopted a new constitution; as a result Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) were placed on equal footing. It dissolved into several new states at the end of the First World War.

University of Zagreb Largest Croatian university

The University of Zagreb is the largest Croatian university and the oldest continuously operating university in the area covering Central Europe south of Vienna and all of Southeastern Europe.

In his autobiography, Mortigjija said that in his youth he was a keen Yugoslavian, but his opinion changed in 1928 after Puniša Račić's attack on the Yugoslav Parliament. The assassinations turned Mortigjija to Croatian nationalism. Mortigjija was inspired by the ideas of Ante Starčević [1] who argued in the mid-1800s for an independent Croatian state.

Puniša Račić Serbian politician

Puniša Račić was a Montenegrin Serb leader and People's Radical Party (NRS) politician. He assassinated Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) representatives Pavle Radić and Đuro Basariček and mortally wounded HSS leader Stjepan Radić in a shooting which took place on the floor of the Yugoslavian parliament on 20 June 1928. He was tried and handed a sixty-year sentence, which was immediately reduced to twenty years. He served most of his sentence under house arrest and was killed by the Yugoslav Partisans in October 1944.

Ante Starčević Croatian politician

Ante Starčević was a Croatian politician and writer. His works are considered to have laid the foundations for Croatian nationalism and he has been referred to as "Father of the Homeland". A number of his views are considered to be chauvinistic, racist and anti-semitic and remain controversial.

Career during the Independent State of Croatia

Beginning with the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia in April 1941, Mortigjija was editor of the most important national newspaper, Hrvatski narod. In February 1942 he left the newspaper to work as director and chief editor of the newly founded weekly magazine Spremnost , a journal of the Ustaše movement. Mortigjija was a member of the Ustaše movement since 1941, serving as a reserve sergeant and later captain, although he never did subscribe to Ustaše ideology.

Sergeant Military rank

Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternative spelling, serjeant, is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British Light Infantry. Its origin is the Latin serviens, 'one who serves', through the French term sergent.

Hrvatski narod and Spremnost were typical puppet papers [2] that followed the policy of the Axis powers and in particular the Third Reich. They published anti-Jewish propaganda which quoted text from Deutsche Zeitung—German language newspapers printed by the Nazi party through Franz Eher Nachfolger. [3] The papers also printed articles about the Serbs, Gypsies and other "inferior" races. In December 1944 Martigjiga was dismissed from Spremnost, replaced by Franjo Nevistić.

Puppet inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer

A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figure, that is animated or manipulated by a person called a Puppeteer. The Puppeteer uses movements of his hands, arms, or control devices such as rods or strings to move the body, head, limbs, and in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet. The Puppeteer often speaks in the voice of the character of the puppet, and then synchronizes the movements of the puppet's mouth with this spoken part. The actions, gestures and spoken parts acted out by the Puppeteer with the puppet are typically used in storytelling. Puppetry is a very ancient form of theatre which dates back to the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece. There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made from a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use. They range from very simple in construction and operation to very complex.

Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

When the collapse of the Independent Croatian State was imminent, Mortigjija and thirty other journalists fled to Austria on 6 May 1945. While in the refugee camp, Mortigjija accepted a job to organize social activities, events, and lectures on Croatian history. He organized a committee of the Initiative-Croat refugees in Carinthia. He began publishing a newspaper on 1 March 1946 that would become the voice of Croatian refugees in Austria. [1]

Trial and death

At the request of authorities of the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the British occupation forces in Austria delivered Mortigjija into Yugoslavia on 2 September 1946. Mortigjija was investigated and put on trial in Zagreb. He was found guilty and was sentenced to "death by firing squad and the loss of all civil rights". The Supreme Court upheld the conviction on 8 September 1947. He was executed on 23 October 1947 in the area of Samobor. [1]

Later retrial

In the late 1990s Tias Mortigjija's son, Mato Mortigjija, petitioned the courts for a new trial for his father. Mato Mortigjija's lawyer, Antun Mihočević, argued a long trial at the County Court in Zagreb. On 18 February 2003 a three judge panel acquitted Tias Mortigjija. "In his writings", noted panel, "Mortigjija did not personally exhibit positive totalitarian elements, and in any case did not approve abuse and intimidation..." [4]

Mortigjija's case is seen as a test case. In 1945, over 40 journalists were executed and 47 were banned from public work. Similar retrials for some of these journalists are expected.

The verdict provoked a divided reaction by the public. Croatian daily newspaper Vjesnik published editorials that denounced the work of Nazi sympathizers such as Mortigjiga. [3] Other editorials claimed that the criticism was based on prejudice against the Ustaše movement. [5]

The verdict was greeted in some emigrant circles as a rare example of correcting injustice committed during by the communist Yugoslavian government. For example, President of the Association of Croatian Emigrants wrote to former Croatian President Ivo Sanader asking that Mortigjija's case be used as an example for other cases. [6]


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