Commission on Religious Matters of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly (1963-1993)
The records of the Commission on Religious Matters of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly in the State Archives in Vukovar (at present situated in the Archival Collection Centre in Vinkovci) is a part of the archival fund of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly covering the period from 1963 until 1993. The collection contains materials that testify to the local oppositional activity of different religious institutions from the area under the jurisdiction of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly and also to the state control over them.
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Name of collection
Fund of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly/Commission on Religious Matters of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly (1963-1993)
Provenance and cultural activities
Based on the new territorial organisation, which was enacted under the Constitution of Socialist Republic of Croatia, the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly was established in 1963. Since 1974, that Municipality was a part of Union of Municipalities of Osijek until the fall of the socialist regime and the new transformation of territorial organisation in the Republic of Croatia in 1993. In 1963, the Commission on Religious Matters of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly began to function; it was charged with control over religious institutions in the territory of the Vinkovci Municipality. The Commission worked under the conditions of a centralist socialist dictatorship and was under the direct oversight of the Republic Commission on Religious Matters, which operated under the Executive Council of the Parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, that is to say, under the direct control of League of Communists of Croatia. The archival records of the collection were created by the same Commission in the territory of the Vinkovci Municipality from 1963 to 1993.
The primary aim of the Commission was to monitor the work of religious communities, since religion was perceived as a factor detrimental to the building of a socialist society. The Commission was otherwise formed after the period of repression, primarily against the Catholic Church, but also other religious communities (1945-1960). At the time of the so-called liberalization of the Yugoslav regime, it had to serve the purpose of normalization and dialogue between the government and religious communities. The pinnacle of this process was the Protocol between the Vatican and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1966. That event signified the establishment of diplomatic relations between them as of 1970. All of this occurred in the shadow of the Second Vatican Council, which was proceeding in an atmosphere of seeking dialogue between the Church and the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe. Later, this became well known as the Vatican Ostpolitik inaugurated by Pope Paul VI. The collection testifies to the attempt to control that part of society, in this case religious institutions, which were deemed inimical to socialist regime and its ideology. Apart of the Roman Catholic Church, which was the largest and best organized religious community, the regime also monitored other churches, such as the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church and the Jewish and Protestant communities as well. The commission particularly focused on religious activities characterized as those which propagated “anti-socialist morals” in public, such as sermons by priests, public missionary work and catechism instruction, publishing of the religious press and books, and the general influence on the young people. No less important were issues pertaining to the construction of churches and the problems surrounding the confiscation of church property.
The archival records of the collection were held in one of the buildings of the Vinkovci Municipality before they were deposited at the Archival Collection Centre in Vinkovci in 1993. Until 2008, the collection was under the jurisdiction of the State Archives in Osijek before it was transferred to the jurisdiction of State Archives in Vukovar. The collection was not hidden from the communist authorities, because its documentation was the result of state and party control. It is mainly open to the public. It is noteworthy that in the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, the archival records of Commissions on Religious Matters are mainly open to the public , but only for the period from 1944 to the 1960s while their public availability is subject to legal restrictions for the period from the 1970s to 1990, and it is mostly closed to the public. For example, the Svetozar Rittig Personal Papers (Rittig was the founder of the Republic Commission on Religious Matters) are still accessible only to a limited degree, even though he died over 50 years ago.
Description of content
The collection consists of 19 archival boxes. It was registered under classification code A.5.5. at the State Archives in Vukovar (Archival Collection Centre in Vinkovci) and belongs to the fund of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly, which has the signature HR-DAVU-SOVK and includes 193 books and 372 archival boxes. The collection pertains to the work of the Commission on Religious Relations under the jurisdiction of the Vinkovci Municipal Assembly. It covers the period from 1963, when the Vinkovci Municipality was established, to 1993. It includes letters, reports, studies, correspondence with higher state authorities and representatives of religious institutions.
Through these records, one can follow the strategy of the regime in its stance on religion and religiosity in general. It also shows the state's delays in granting licenses for the construction of new churches, especially the Roman Catholic Churches. There are various forms of correspondence between different offices of religious institutions with the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission was the first institution in the Vinkovci Municipality that religious communities would contact if they had some request. It also includes various epistles, brochures, books, prayer books and periodicals. Most of these materials pertain to the Roman Catholic Church, which was deemed the greatest enemy of the regime and all other religious communities. There are also records of other religious groups, primarily the Serbian Orthodox Church, followed by the Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church and the Jewish community. The material is in paper format and mostly written in Croatian.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Elez, Petar
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vinkovci Vojarska ulica 1, Croatia
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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
1) Akmadža, Miroslav. Crkva i država: dopisivanje i razgovori između predstavnika Katoličke crkve i komunističke državne vlasti u Jugoslaviji (Church and State: correspondences and conversations between represantatives of the Catholci Church and communist government in Yugoslavia). Zagreb, Slavonski Brod: Društvo za povjesnicu Zagrebačke nadbiskupije Tkalčić, Hrvatski institut za povijest - Podružnica za povijest Slavonije, Srijema i Baranje, (I i II. sv. ), 2008-2009.
2) Akmadža, Miroslav. Katolička crkva u komunističkoj Hrvatskoj 1945.-1980. (The Catholic Church in the communist Croatia 1945-1990). Zagreb, Slavonski Brod: Despot infinitus; Hrvatski institut za povijest, Podružnica za povijest Slavonije, Srijema i Baranje, 2013.
3) Radić, Radmila; Mitrović, Momčilo (ur.). Zapisnici sa sednica Komisije za verska pitanja NR/SR Srbije 1945-1978. godine (Records of the Commission on Religious Matters of the People’s Republic and Socialist Republic of Serbia). Beograd: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije, 2012.
4) Mirescu, Alexander. “A Curious Case of Cooperation and Coexistence: Church–State Engagement and Oppositional Free Spaces in Communist Yugoslavia and East Germany”. Hungary Historical Review 4, br. 1 (2015), 82-113.
Elez, Petar, interview by Kljaić, Stipe , March 17, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection