Jakša Kušan Collection
The collection testifies to the thirty-six-year activity of Croatian journalist and writer Jakša Kušan (1931), who propagated the idea of a democratic, pluralistic and free Croatia in exile from 1955 to 1990. By editing and publishing the non-partisan magazine Nova Hrvatska, he tried to inform the Croatian and global public about the suppression of human rights and civil liberties in socialist Croatia and Yugoslavia.
Zagreb Vrhovec 26, Croatia 10000
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Name of collection
Jakša Kušan Personal Papers
Provenance and cultural activities
The private collection of Croatian journalist and writer Jakša Kušan (1931), which consists of books, photographs and letters, testifies to the thirty-six-years. from 1955 to 1990, in which he propagated the idea of a democratic, pluralistic and free Croatia while living in exile. By editing and publishing the non-partisan newspaper Nova Hrvatska, he tried to inform the Croatian and global public about the suppression of human rights and civil liberties in socialist Croatia and Yugoslavia.
As a young man, Kušan expressed attitudes that were not in line with the dominant communist discourse and, in 1955, he was forced to abandon his homeland for political reasons and go into exile, where he remained until the fall of communism in Croatia. He created a network of associates in London with the aim of collaborating on the political education of Croatian society and worked on anti-Yugoslav propaganda. In 1958, he launched the periodical Hrvatski bilten (Croatian Bulletin) which was soon renamed Nova Hrvatska (Vlašić 2010, 291-292). It was published in London as a monthly magazine, and in 1974 it became a bi-monthly.
Unlike most émigré publications that were edited by one or two people, Nova Hrvatska had a large and professional editorial office and very well-organized archives and documentation. During its 32 years of publication, the magazine had many contributors, among others Zlatko Markus, Boris Maruna, Tihomil Rađa, Gojko Borić, Branko Salaj, Guido Saganić, Vladimir Pavlinić, Željko Toth, Vlado Koretić, Bogdan Radica, etc. Thanks to the contributions of the twenty donors - friends of the magazine - who donated a thousand dollars each, they managed to buy a six-room house near the Wimbledon Park subway station (2 Farquhar Road). According to Kušan (2000, 103), it was the best investment in the magazine’s history. They kept the magazine’s library, newspaper archive and related documentation in the basement of the house. This documentation also included files on the magazine’s contributors. This documentation and Kušan’s activities were an affront to the Yugoslav authorities. Kušan's editorial activities in Nova Hrvatska were under constant scrutiny by the Yugoslav secret police (UDBA/SDS). Nevertheless, the collection never came into the hands of the Yugoslav secret service.
After the fall of communism, when the Republic of Croatia gained its independence, the editorial board decided that there was no purpose in publishing the magazine any longer. Kušan decided to return to Croatia and to transfer the magazine’s archives and his personal papers. As this involved a massive amount of material, he decided to donate it to the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK), which had already shown great interest. In 1994, when the two trucks which transported the materials to the NSK building were being unloaded, a storm rolled in and destroyed a significant part of these materials.
Part of Kušan's personal collection, which he kept at his London apartment, was also given to the NSK, while he retained the rest and it is still in his possession in his apartment in Zagreb today. Thus, two collections were made – the Nova Hrvatska Collection in NSK and the Jakša Kušan Personal Papers. Kušan promised to donate his private collection (containing books, photographs, brochures and private correspondence since the mid-1950s) to the Franciscan gymnasium in Visoko (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Asked by a COURAGE interviewer whether he was aware of the importance of compiling his collection, he said he was aware that one day this material could mean a great deal to historians researching not only the history of Croatian emigration, but also the history of Croatia in general (interview with Kušan, Jakša_2).
Jakša Kušan's private collection is not available to the public and was used exclusively by Kušan when writing his memoirs.
Description of content
After Jakša Kušan donated most of his personal archive, together with the editorial archive of Nova Hrvatska to the National and University Library in Zagreb, Jakša Kušan retained a small part of his collection in his home in Zagreb. This collection contains over 1,000 books, mainly on historical themes, mostly from Croatian history, which the collector has kept for his personal use and work. The collection also contains several hundred photographs, mostly negatives, which emerged over the years in the editorial office of Nova Hrvatska. Most of the photos are related to the appearance of Nova Hrvatska at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair was a significant event in the history of the Croatian émigré cultural opposition. The editorial board of Nova Hrvatska, together with the publisher Hrvatska revija, were the first Croatian émigré institutions to appear as publishers at the fair. As of 1973, they appeared together in Frankfurt every year. According to Jakša Kušan, participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair “showed that cultural events could be more lethal to political dictatorships and totalitarian systems than terrorist attacks and assassinations” (Interview with Kušan, Jakša_2). He also pointed out that the public who came to the fair was not the ordinary audience for a book fair. “Our booth was also visited by workers who would often come directly from work, wearing work clothes. The booth was always full, although the visitors knew that the members of the Yugoslav secret police were monitoring the event” (Interview with Kušan, Jakša_2). This event had oppositional features, and the Yugoslav authorities even tried to ban it through diplomatic channels (Kušan 2000, 123). Despite attempts by the Yugoslav authorities to prevent such appearances, each year Nova Hrvatska and Hrvatska revija expanded their production of publications and their booth.
The collection also contains a smaller amount of archival documents, primarily Kušan’s correspondence with various people from the 1950s to the early 1990s, in which they were critical of the Yugoslav communist system. Some of the letters that were quite confidential, especially the documentation that was related to informants from Croatia, which Kušan kept outside the editorial office in his private residence at 93 Dora Road, London. His brother Zlatko, an attorney, was one of the essential informants for Nova Hrvatska. He wrote very detailed reports (sometimes printed, sometimes handwritten) about political and social events, court proceedings, and similar. He was never discovered. He put short messages in Yugoslav newspaper packages sent to his brother in London, which was not illegal. The other way his brother provided information was to use the Braille alphabet. Through Zlatko's friend Mirko Vidulić, who was blind, they sent books in Braille, which contained various materials. They also used free Braille mail (Kušan 2000, 223). Kušan and the Nova Hrvatska editorial board were also informed by the Croatian guest-workers (Gastarbeiters), some of whom regularly travelled to Yugoslavia and who informed them of political trials and other events and took photographs.
The collection also contains some brochures that also testify to the cultural opposition during socialist era, such as a brochure of the Free Europe University in Exile summer school program, which Kušan attended in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The collection also contains a copy of a video (VHS) interview with Jakša Kušan on Australian television in 1967, in which he openly talked about the violation of human and civil rights in Socialist Yugoslavia.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
- photos: 100-499
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 0-9
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
London, United Kingdom
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Mihaljević, Josip
- „Babić – Finka – Moguš: Hrvatski pravopis, 1971. (londonac)“. Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje. Accsessed April 22, 2018. http://ihjj.hr/iz-povijesti/babic-ndash-finka-ndash-mogus-hrvatski-pravopis-1971-londonac/57/
- Babić, Stjepan, Božidar Finka, and Milan Moguš. Hrvatski pravopis (Croatian Ortography). London: Nova Hrvatska, 1972.
- Bačko, Matea. „Pogledi hrvatske intelektualne emigracije na hrvatsko pitanje u Jugoslaviji od 1971. do 1990. na primjeru Hrvatske revije i Nove Hrvatske“ (Views on the Croatian Question within Yugoslavia from 1971 to 1990 by the Croatian Intellectual Emigration on the Example of Hrvatska revija and Nova Hrvatska. MA thesis. Zagreb: Croatian Catholic University, 2018.
- Blažeković, Milan. Bio-bibliografski leksikon suradnika Hrvatske revije (Bio-bibliographical lexicon of the Hrvatska revija magazine contributors). Zagreb: Školske novine-Pergamena, 1996.
- Čizmić, Ivan, Main Sopta and Vlado Šakić. Iseljena Hrvatska (Croatia emigration). Zagreb: Golden marketing-Tehnička knjiga, 2005.
- Durin-Horniyk, Veronika. „The Free Europe University in Exile Inc. and the Collège de l'Europe libre (1951-1958)“. In Katalin Kádár Lynn (ed.), The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare: Cold War Organizations Sponsored by the National Committee for a Free Europe / Free Europe Committee, pp. 439–514. Saint Helena,CA: Helena History Press, 2013.
- Elezović, Almir. „Nova Hrvatska – nezavisni list za domovinu i emigraciju“ (“Nova Hrvatska: Independent journal for homeland and emigration”). Lucius, vol. 1 (2002), no. 2: 129–151.
- Hameršak, Filip. „Kušan, Jakša“. Hrvatski biografski leksikon (Croatian Biographical Lexicon). Accsessed March 22, 2018. http://hbl.lzmk.hr/clanak.aspx?id=11571
- Katalinić, Kazimir. Od poraza do pobjede: povijest hrvatske političke emigracije: 1945.-1990. (From defeat to victory: history of Croatian political emigration: 1945-1990), vol. 1. Zagreb: Naklada Trpimir, 2017.
- Krašić, Wollfy. „Hrvatsko proljeće i hrvatska politička emigracija“ („Croatian spring“ and the Croatian political emigration“). Doctoral thesis. Zagreb: Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, 2016.
- Kušan, Jakša, interview by Mihaljević, Josip and Albert Bing, May 25, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
- Kušan, Jakša, interview by Mihaljević, Josip, April 05, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
- Kušan, Jakša. Bitka za Novu Hrvatsku (Battle for New Croatia). Rijeka: Otokar Keršovani, 2000.
- Novak, Božidar. Hrvatsko novinarstvo u 20. stoljeću (Croatian journalism in 20th century). Zagreb: Golden marketing-Tehnička knjiga, 2005.
- Scott-Smith, Giles. „The Free Europe University in Strasbourg: U.S. State-Private Networks and Academic 'Rollback'“. Journal of Cold War Studies, vol. 16 (2014), nu. 2: 77-107.
- Vlašić, Anđelko. „List Nova Hrvatska 1958.-1962.“ (“The Paper Nova Hrvatska, 1958-1962"). In Nada Kisić Kolanović, Zdenko Radelić, Katarina Spehnjak(eds.), Disidenstvo u suvremenoj povijesti (Dissent in contemporary history), pp. 291-314. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest, 2010.
Kušan, Jakša, interview by Mihaljević, Josip, April 05, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Kušan, Jakša, interview by Bing, Albert , Mihaljević, Josip, May 26, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection