Rusko Matulić Collection
The bequest of Rusko Matulić, an American engineer and writer of Yugoslav origin, is held in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The collection largely encompasses Matulić's activities as a political émigré in the United States of America, when he mainly dealt with the publication of the bi-monthly bulletin of the Committee Aid to Democratic Dissidents in Yugoslavia (CADDY). The bulletin and organization acted as a part of the Democratic International, established in New York in 1979. Mihajlo Mihajlov, one of the most prominent Yugoslav dissidents, was a member and the main initiator of launching the CADDY organization and its bulletin. Rusko Matulić was Mihajlov's main collaborator in the overall CADDY project.
Stanford Galvez Mall 434, United States of America 94305
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Name of collection
- Rusko Matulić Papers
Provenance and cultural activities
The Rusko Matulić Collection encompasses the period from 1964 to 2010. Most of the records deal with the period since 1979, when first initiatives for the establishment of the Committee to Aid Democratic Dissidents in Yugoslavia (CADDY) and its bi-monthly bulletin in English appeared, to the end of 1992, when the bulletin ceased publication, i.e., when the CADDY finally ended all of its activities in 1994 (Rusko Matulic Papers, box 4). The Hoover Institution received the records in 2011, four years before Matulić's death, and the second part of the records, related to books, was donated by his family to the Archives of Yugoslavia in Belgrade. There is no inventory description of the collection, although it is open to the public in its entirety. The collection was not created with any special purpose in mind, but rather as a result of Matulić's work for the CADDY and the editing of its bulletin. Additionally, it was the result of Matulić's interest in collecting bibliographic materials on Yugoslav issues in America. The materials from this collection have not been previously used either in exhibitions or publications.
Although Mihajlo Mihajlov initiated this organization to help dissidents and publish an internal newsletter, Matulić played the main organizational and editorial role, which can be seen when examining the collection itself. Matulić's collection was not hidden from the secret police of the Yugoslav regime because it was held in New Jersey (USA) and was therefore not censored by the Yugoslav authorities. However, on several occasions, various newspapers in Yugoslavia in the 1980s, such as Vjesnik (Zagreb) and Politika (Belgrade) criticized the activities of this organization and the content of its bulletin, as they were considered hostile toward the socialist Yugoslavia. The main reason why the regime press attacked them was that that Matulić and the circle of people around CADDY and its bulletin called for the abolition of the one-party communist dictatorship and the democratization of Yugoslavia. In particular, the regime and the media under its control were concerned that CADDY had disclosed information to about the systematic violation of the 1975 Helsinki Convention on Human Rights in the US and the West (Rusko Matulić Papers, Box 1). Apart from the Yugoslav regime, CADDY was also attacked by certain circles of Croatian political émigré communities. Thus, Vinko Kužina from the organization American Croats for Human and National Rights, wrote that such a society is primarily concerned with the survival of Yugoslavia and that it is primarily Serbian-oriented (Rusko Matulić Papers, Box 2).
The American conservative foundation Freedom House was involved in promoting human rights, political freedom and democracy in the Cold War era and it financed the newsletter and CADDY in general. In the 1980s it gave moral and political support to dissidents in Yugoslavia who were persecuted for expressing thoughts that did not comply with the official line of the then Yugoslav regime. One can only speak of the emergence of a more powerful dissident movement in Yugoslavia after Tito's death, when, apart from CADDY, other international human rights organizations such as Helsinki Watch and Amnesty International began to more closely monitor Yugoslav internal affairs. Apart from being a dissident support group, CADDY tried to influence the US government so that it would change its policy of support for Yugoslavia after Tito in the 1980s.
At the beginning of its work, CADDY had to deal with both US-Democratic and Republican administrations under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, who supported Yugoslavia as the "most liberal" communist state, ignoring the aforementioned human rights situation and the lack of political freedom. Thanks to CADDY and the work of both Matulić and Mihajlov, international organizations such as Amnesty International and Helsinki Watch began to show a greater interest in human rights issues in Yugoslavia. In a letter signed by Jeri Laber, then the chair of the US Helsinki Committee, she expressed deep gratitude to Rusko Matulić, who was, on her opinion, the person who deserved the most credit for informing the Western public that during the 1980s Yugoslavia had the highest number of political prisoners in Europe (Rusko Matulić Papers, box 3).
In addition to receiving support from various US organizations and foundations, CADDY also brought together pro-democracy and pro-Yugoslav political émigré, just as Rusko Matulić himself was. However, the main emphasis of the committee and its bulletin was still on dissidents from Yugoslavia and their activities. In the first phase of their activities, the committee’s main leaders were Mihajlo Mihajlov, Milovan Đilas and Franjo Tuđman from 1980 to 1984. After Đilas left CADDY due to his dispute with Mihajlov in 1984, he was replaced by Momčilo Selić, a Serbian dissident who published a samizdat with Đilas and Mihajlov in 1979. Due to this samizdat, he was sentenced to prison and he later received asylum in Canada in 1983. After Tuđman left CADDY in June 1988, Croatian lawyer and dissident Vladimir Šeks joined (Rusko Matulić Papers, box 2). The dissident names in the main presidency had only symbolic significance, while Matulić assumed the entire burden of the work and preparations required to publish the bulletin and administer CADDY, as evidenced by the extensive correspondence preserved in this collection.
Description of content
The Rusko Matulić Collection contains 24 boxes of archival materials and is filed under internal number 2011C11 at the Hoover Institution Archives. Its contents mostly cover Matulić's volunteer work for CADDY.
The collection contains numerous letters and other correspondence, memorandums, addresses, lectures and speeches by various actors on the immigrant and dissident scene, as well as numerous individuals and other US institutions interested in the status of human and political freedom in Yugoslavia after Tito's death. Matulić's collection contains various materials and information about circumstances in Yugoslavia in the 1980s, as well as cases of the regime’s political persecution of dissidents. The collection includes material on the most famous political trials against Franjo Tuđman, Marko Veselica, Vlado Gotovac, Dobroslav Paraga, Vladimir Šeks, Gojko Đogo, Vojislav Šešelj, Ernst Brajder, Dragoljub Mićunović, Janez Janša and his group (Ivan Borštner, David Tasić and Franc Zavrl) known under the abbreviation JBTZ, the “Belgrade Six," etc.
Besides court trials, the collection also contains testimony on the activities of these dissidents, and their articles, letters and appeals to the international public and US institutions. Thus, Vladimir Šeks, as president of the Croatian Human Rights Federation in the SFRY, addressed an appeal to the American Bar Association (ABA) through Matulic and CADDY, requesting that it put pressure on the Yugoslav authorities to allow his attorney to effectively defend dissidents in political trials. In the Franjo Tuđman case, CADDY tried to influence the American Historical Association (AHA) to advocate for Tuđman's defence in court proceedings. Based on the collection, it is apparent that CADDY provided significant support to the dissident circle in Belgrade gathered around Serbian writer and dissident Dobrica Ćosić known as the Committee for the Defence of Freedom of Thought and Expression. The collection contains numerous materials that the CADDY collected about dissident activities in Yugoslavia and presented to the American political and intellectual public, writing letters and appeals to various scholarly and university organizations, Congress, the Senate and individuals members thereof, as well as President Reagan, to inform them of the restricted political liberty and human rights violations in Yugoslavia.
Besides Mihajlov, Matulic also worked closely with Vane Ivanovic and Desimir Tošić in his work at CADDY. This was actually a group of émigrés from Yugoslavia gathered around the émigré review called Naša reč (Our Word) and the Democratic Alternative organization founded in London in 1956. Democratic Alternative gathered Matulić's supporters of pro-Yugoslavian orientation who advocated for the survival of the Yugoslav state, but at the same time they demanded its internal democratization. Most of them were Serbian political émigrés, but some were also Slovenian, Croatian and Bosnian Muslim. Apart from the already mentioned Tošić and Ivanović, there were other personalities, such as Adil Zulfikarpašić, Branko Pešelj, Ivan Jukić, Vladimir Predavac, Bogoljub Kočović, Ljubo Sirc, Nenad Grisogono, etc.. Among Croatian émigré circles, Matulić maintained the closest relationships with Jakša Kušan and his magazine Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia) in London, and Jure Prpić, who was a historian from John Carroll University in Cleveland. An important collaborator of Matulic and the CADDY was Oskar Gruenwald, originally from Vojvodina, who worked at an American research institute in Santa Monica, California. He also was involved in editing and writing for the anthology Human Rights in Yugoslavia in 1986. (Rusko Matulic Papers, box 2).
The Rusko Matulić Collection testifies to the strong influence that CADDY had during the 1980s, so that its activities were noted in various newspapers and the international, émigré and Yugoslav press. In addition to the Russian émigré scene, which was interested in Yugoslavia because of Mihajlov, the following newspapers and magazines wrote about the work and mission of CADDY: The New York Times, The New Leader, Vjesnik, Nova Hrvatska, Croatia State, Russkaya mysl’, South Slav Journal, American Srbobran, Naša Reč, Danica, Slavic Review, and The New Republic.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Patton, Sarah
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Jersey City, United States of America
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Kljaić, Stipe
Matulić Rusko. 1981. Bibliography of sources on Yugoslavia, Palo Alto: Ragusan press.
Matulić, Rusko. 1986. „Repression of Dissent in Yugoslavia (1956-1984)”, Human rights in Yugoslavia, New York: Irvington Publishers.
Matulić, Rusko. 2014. Contribution for the Bibliography of Mihajlo Mihajlov, New York: Xlibris.
Rusko Matulic papers, no. 2011C11, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Patton, Sarah, interview by Kljaić, Stipe , December 12, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection