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Croatian Bannate in Yugoslavia (1939-1941)

Banovina Hrvatska

Last modified: 2004-10-23 by dov gutterman
Keywords: yugoslavia | croatia | croatian bannate | banovina hrvatska |
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[Croatian Bannate]
Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak, 29 Sugust 2001

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Banovina Hrvatska was created in 1939 by the agreement Cvetkovic-Macek (Cvetkovic being prime-minister of Yugoslavia, and Macek leader of HSS, Croatian peasants' party supported by more than 90% of the votes from Croatians at the time). The agreement was in making a national region in Yugoslavia for Croatians, with intention to solve the "Croatian question" in Yugoslavia. Banovina (Banate) was the name of administrative divisions of Yugoslavia between the two world wars. Until 1939 there were several (7, if I recall correctly) banovinas all having borders that were not equal to national borders (with intention of unifying peoples into Yugoslavs). In 1939 the agreement was made to make one banovina for Croatians, that included two of former banovinas (Primorska - roughly Dalmatia, and Savska - roughly Central Croatia and Slavonia) and some regions that were taken from other banovinas. The new Banovina Hrvatska included what is now Croatia (excluding Istria, Rijeka and Zadar, of course) and the area between rivers Sava and Drava (Drau) called Eastern Srijem reaching the town of Zemun (that is today a suburb of Belgrade), and the area south of Dubrovnik - the Bay of Kotor (Cataro) and further south til Ulcinj. Also a wide area of what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina was included, mainly the western Herzegovina, roughly what is today the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All except the last is what was the Triune Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia when it joined Yugoslavia.
Since 1918 the national flags were banned, alowing only the flag of Yugoslavia to be displayed (and, by the way, the Serbian tricolour was proclaimed the flag of the church, and was displayed so). In 1939, following the agreement and formation of Banovina Hrvatska, the Croatian tricolour was re-established.
The flag used in Banovina Hrvatska was the Croatian tricolour. The flags for official use had the coat of arms in the middle (the chequy shield), and that was the arms of Banovina (I mean the simple chequy shield). The flag used by the civil population was either simple tricolour, but much frequently the flag with the three arms. I don't have many references to this (of course, I have references for the history, but in Croatian). In Flagmaster 068 there is a short paragraph on this period:

"... from 1848 onwards the tricolour of red, white and blue ... and often including the shield of 'Greater Croatia', became popular, and was in use until 5 January 1929, when the regional flags were prohibited by the Belgrade government. They were permited once more in 1939."

I beleive that the 'regional flags' were prohibited much earlier than 5 January, but this would be the latest date, since on 6 January the king Alexander I proclaimed a dictatorship and banned all political parties and 'regional feelings'.

"Flags trough the Centuries" (exibition catalogue) is also quite short of the period:

"After the fall of the Habsburg monarchy Croatia became part of the unitary Kingdom of SCS (1918) - and lost right to use the Croatian tricolour as a state flag. In spite of this the Croatian tricolour lived on in the flags of political and town societies which unremittingly worked for a solution of the Croatian problem within the monarchy of Yugoslavia. In 1941 ... "
Zeljko Heimer, 7 Novemeber 1996

After the People's Committee (Narodno vijeće) declared that State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs is joining the Kingdom of Serbia November 27, 1918 and when it was realised on December 1, 1918, Croatian national symbols were just tolerated. They were at that time seen as symbols of Croatian nation, not as of any statehood. That is why Slavonian and Dalmatian arms were not represented anywhere.
According to the Constitution of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, adopted July 28, 1921, coat-of-arms of Croats was described as shield of 5 x 5 square fields of red and white colours and it was placed in the newly formed country's coat of arms, together with Serb and (kind of) Slovene coat of arms.
Later, when king Alexander proclaimed dictatorship and Yugoslavia on January 6, 1929, all national symbols were banned and Croats, Slovenes and Serbs were described just as three branches of one newly proclaimed Yugoslav nation.
After the assassination of king Alexander in Marseille October 9, 1934, circumstances gradually lead towards the Agreement between Maček (pron. Machek) (leader of in that time strongest Croat party - Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS) and Cvetković (pron. Tswetkovich) (Yugoslav prime minister)) in August 26, 1939. It brought to Croats creation of Bannate of Croatia (Banovina Hrvatska) with wide autonomy. From this time, until April 10, 1941, Bannate of Croatia adopted its flag and coat-of-arms.
Flag was simple tricolour red-white-blue. Coat of Arms were shield of chequered pattern with twenty-five alternating red and silver fields. The same coat-of-arms was again official from June 25, 1990 to December 22 1990.
Exact ratio of that flag is probably equal as at that time of Yugoslav flag, so it was 2:3, although it was seen in many variations.
Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak, 29 Sugust 2001

All sources seem to agree that the Croatian tricolour was used after 1939, sometimes mentioning that the variant with the coat of arms in the middle was for the state use.   I have tried to find any legal document or anything else that would confirm the (re)adoption of the Croatian tricolour at the time, but alas...
The matters seems to have been regulated "by natural law" rather then by some written order or regulation. However, the matter of the coat of arms was well documented and has relatively few more examples of its use.   In the Croatian Hitory Musemu exhibition cataloge of 2000 Rhea Ivanuš: "Stoljece promjena", Hrvatski povijesni muzej, Zagreb, 2000. there is covered a document issued by the Bannate office: Okružnica Kabineta bana Banovine Hrvatske, br. 64178-1940. od 10. rujna 1940. HPM/PMH 6387a, b.   It is a circular letter sent to practically all of the state and local bodies in Croatia after the formation of the Bannate, instructing how to use the coat of arms in its two forms (greater and lesser), inclduing two pages of drawings of the two coat of arms. The letter is dated 10 Spetember 1940, so the coat of arms must have been granted earlierly then that. I assume that the grant was made by the royal regent or something like that, but on it I have no information yet.  
I am grateful to Ms. Dubravka Peic Caldrovic, the senior curator of the herladry and sphragistics collection of the Croatian History Museum, who made me available the letter and the drawings after which I made my redrawings.  
The lesser coat of arms is: chequy gules and argent, bordered or, crowned with the Yugoslav royal crown proper. The greater coat of arms is: a double headed eagle argent beaked langued and membered gules crowned with the Yugoslav royal crown proper bearing on a golden bordered inescutcheon chequy gules and argent. The circular letter determins the primary use of the greater coat of arms on larger inscription plates while the lesser coat of arms was primarly for the use within administrative seals. The intention of the letter was (as stated in it) to end with various interpretations of the coat of arms usage noted in the fist months of the Bannate administration.  
With one such seal the letter is stamped, and I am sure that one may find a number of documents stamped with such seals in 1939 through April 1941. According to the information I read somewhere (and can't remember where, so I can't find it) these administrative seals were mostly continued to be used by the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945) (NDH) in 1941 by cutting out, more or less sucsessfully, the crown above the shield (and usually also some of the lettering). Some were eventually replaced with the new seals with the NDH coat of arms, but some were still used until the end of the war.  
The greater coat of arms were used on the inscription plates on the entrances of the buildings with public offices. I have seen two such plates in museums, tough I am sure that they are more that I have not noticed. In both cases they are white oval convex plates (similar to those nowdays mostly used only on the embassies and like), containing the coat of arms in the middle and the name of the institution along the edges. One such is in the Rijeka martitme and historical museum bearing inscription o fthe Port Authority, and an othe I have just seen few days ago in Varaždin city museum, bearing the name and titles of a public notary.  
The Coat of Arms without the crown as shown below by Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak seems to have not been in official use (though it seems that indeed such crownless versions were used on flags).
Zeljko Heimer, 5 September 2004

Coat of Arms

Lesser Coat of Arms

by Zeljko Heimer, 5 September 2004

Greater Coat of Arms

by Zeljko Heimer, 5 September 2004

Unofficial Coat of Arms

by Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak, 29 Sugust 2001