Croatian Institute of History
The Croatian Institute of History, the successor to the Institute of the History of the Labour Movement and the Croatian Institute of Contemporary History, was founded in 1961. The Institute’s scholars engage in comprehensive research and elaborate analyses to gain greater insight into Croatian history in the regional and European context from the early Middle Ages to recent history. The Croatian Institute of History is housed in the palace at Opatička 10 (Zagreb, Croatia). This is a unique building, rich in history and values, among Golden Hall, Pompejanska Hall and the Renaissance Studio merit particular emphasis. These representative facilities are used for the organization of scholarly meetings and concerts of classical music.
During the mid-1960s, the Institute itself acted as a sort of dissident institution. Namely, although the highest Communist authorities in Croatia (Executive Committee of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia) founded it to research the history of the labour movement and the history of the socialist revolution and the Communist Party, the Institute also began to study certain sensitive topics in Croatian national history, such as the number of victims in the Second World War and the Jasenovac death camp. This new direction was not acceptable to the party leaders in Belgrade and Zagreb. The Institute had published conclusions that differed from previous official assessments by the Yugoslav authorities and institutionalised historiography, which resulted in a Party attack in 1967 (Kolar Dimitrijević 2011, 7). After the 1967 party purge, in which the former Institute’s director Franjo Tuđman was removed, the Institute was reorganised and staffed with the more loyal personnel. The new course was to adhere to the dictates of the highest Party officials. During the Croatian reformist movement (the Croatian Spring) the Institute was not part of the cultural-oppositional circle of institutions, but rather opposed this phenomenon.
Despite the official communist "orthodoxy" of the Institute's research policy, in the 1980s there were individuals who conducted their research on their own and publicly released their results, which seemed to be ideologically and politically incorrect to the ruling nomenklatura. One of them was Dr Ivan Jelić, who wrote the article "Concentration camps" in the Encyclopaedia of Croatian History and Culture (1980), in which he dared to estimate that only tens of thousands of victims (mostly of Serbian origin) were killed in the Jasenovac camp, even though the official figures were as high as to 700,000. Because of this article, the encyclopaedia was severely criticised, politically disqualified, and finally withdrawn from the market.
Sociologist and ethnographer Lydia Sklevicky, one of the most renowned feminist writers in Croatia, began her career as an assistant at the Institute from 1976 to 1988 by working on the project "Sociological-historical aspects of organised activities and the social status of women in Croatia, 1945-1980." She was the first Croatian researcher who dealt with the social history of women and the women's movement and investigated the processes of women's emancipation as a long-standing process of cultural change in society. In her M.A. thesis on "Women and power - the historical genesis of one interest," Sklevicky attempted to explain, by using historical material, women's activities before, during and after World War II, that is, during the National Liberation War and socialist revolution, and showed the discrepancy between proclaimed emancipation and the limited fulfilment of women's rights in socialist Yugoslavia (Anamarija Starčević Štambuk, " Lydia Sklevicky"). This kind of social criticism qualifies Sklevicky as a member of the cultural opposition, although she was not persecuted for it.
After the fall of communism in Croatia in 1990, the Institute was renamed to the Institute of Contemporary History, and after it expanded its scope of research to all periods of history from the early Middle Ages, it was renamed the Croatian Institute of History in 1996. In the same year, the Institute established its Section for the History of Slavonia, Syrmia and Baranya in Slavonski Brod, whereby the Institute became the largest public research institute in the humanities and the central institute in the Republic of Croatia for historical studies.
The Institute also has its library, which was founded in 1962 and contains nearly 100,000 volumes from the social sciences and humanities, with particular emphasis on contemporary history. The library includes a book department and a periodicals department, and collections of prominent historians like Jere Jareb, Božidar Ivanuš, Ivan Jelić and Fikreta Butić-Jelić. An exceptional treasure of its fund is the high number of rare brochures. The library exchanges the Institute’s journals (Časopis za suvremenu povijest, Povijesni prilozi, Review of Croatian History) with similar institutions at home and abroad (78 foreign and 113 domestic addresses). The library serves primarily for the work of Institute’s staff (scholars), but other scholars and citizens are allowed to visit and use the library by prior arrangement. The working hours of the library are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besides head librarian Darija Pancirov, Martina Jurčić also works there as an expert associate.
Zagreb Opatička ulica 10, Croatia 10000
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Date of founding
Type of organisation
- Government/State organisation
- Collection of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (1956 - 1965)
- Commission for Ideological and Political Work of People's Youth of Croatia (1945-1962)
- Commission for the Examination of Nationalist Phenomena in the Emigrant Foundation of Croatia (1964-1967)
- Jere Jareb Collection
Author(s) of this page
- Mihaljević, Josip
Main actor of
- Aquisition of the Commission for the Examination of Nationalist Phenomena in the Emigrant Foundation of Croatia by the Croatian State Archives, 1995
- Donation of the Jere Jareb Collection to the Croatian Institute of History, 1997
- Event (general): Academic workshop „From Obscurity to Visibility“, 2017
Kolar Dimitrijević, Mira. 2011. „Franjo Tuđman i organizacija rada u Institutu za historiju radničkog pokreta Hrvatske od 1961. do 1967.“ (“Franjo Tuđman and the organisation of work at the Institute for History of the Workers Movement of Croatia, 1961-1967“). In Vijoleta Herman Kaurić (ed.), Dr. Franjo Tuđman u okviru hrvatske historiografije (Dr Franjo Tuđman in Croatian historiography), pp. 9-40. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest.
Turkalj, Jasna. 2011. „Predgovor“ (“Foreword“). In Zdenko Radelić, Jasna Turkalj (eds.), Pola stoljeća prošlosti - Hrvatski institut za povijest : (1961.-2011.) (Half a Century of the Past – The Croatian Institute of History 1961-2011), pp. 9-10. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest.
Radelić, Zdenko. 2011. „Institut za historiju radničkog pokreta Hrvatske 1961.–1990.“ (“Institute of History of the Labor Movement of Croatia 1961-1990“). In Zdenko Radelić, Jasna Turkalj (eds.), Pola stoljeća prošlosti - Hrvatski institut za povijest : (1961.-2011.) (Half a Century of the Past – The Croatian Institute of History 1961-2011), pp. 13-63. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest.
Jurčić, Martina, interview by Mihaljević, Josip, December 08, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection