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Banate of Croatia (Yugoslavia, 1939-1941)

Banovina Hrvatska

Last modified: 2014-03-08 by ivan sache
Keywords: banate of croatia | banovina hrvatska |
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Presentation of the Banate of Croatia

After the People's Committee declared on 27 November 1918 that the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs would join the Kingdom of Serbia, which was realised on 1 December 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 the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, adopted on 28 July 1921, the coat of arms of Croats was described as a shield of 5 x 5 square fields of red and white colors 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 6 January 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 Marseilles on 9 October 1934, circumstances gradually lead towards the Cvetković-Maček Agreement, signed on 26 August 1939; Cvetković was the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, while Maček was the leader of the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS), supported by more than 90% of the Croatian votes at the time. The agreement formed the Banate of Croatia, a national region in Yugoslavia for Croatians, with the goal to solve the "Croatian question" in Yugoslavia.

A Banate (Banovina) was an administrative division set up in Yugoslavia between the two world wars. Until 1939 there were seven Banates, all having borders that were not equal to national borders, with the intention of unifying peoples into Yugoslavs. In 1939 the agreement was made to make one Bannate for Croatians, which included two of the former Banates (Primorska - roughly Dalmatia, and Savska - roughly central Croatia and Slavonia) and some regions that were taken from other Banates. The new Banate of Croatia included what is now Croatia, excluding Istria, Rijeka and Zadar, as well as the area between rivers Sava and Drava, called Eastern Srijem, reaching the town of Zemun (today a suburbs of Belgrade), and the area south of Dubrovnik - the Bay of Kotor (Cataro) and further south until 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 previously formed the Triune Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia when it joined Yugoslavia.

Željko Heimer & Janko Ehrlich Zdvořák, 29 August 2001

Flag of the Banate of Croatia

All sources seem to agree that the Croatian tricolor was used after 1939, sometimes mentioning that the variant with the coat of arms in the middle was for the state use. The issue of the flag seems, however, to have been regulated "by natural law" rather than by any written order or regulation.

Željko Heimer & Janko Ehrlich Zdvořák, 5 September 2004

Coat of arms of the Banate of Croatia

[Lesser coat of arms]         [Greater coat of arms]

Lesser (left) and greater (right) coat of arms of the Banate of Croatia - Images by Željko Heimer, 5 September 2004, after documents kindly provided by Ms. Dubravka Peić Caldrović, from the Croatian Historical Museum

Rhea Ivanuš (Stoljeće promjena [ivr00]) presents Okružnica Kabineta bana Banovine Hrvatske, a document on 10 September 1940 by the Banate Office. This is an instruction sent to practically all of the state and local bodies in Croatia after the formation of the Banate, prescribing how to use the greater and lesser coat of arms of the Banate, illustrated with two pages of drawings of the two coat of arms.
The intention of the letter was, as stated in it, to end with various interpretations of the coat of arms usage noted in the first months of the administration of the Banate.

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 checky gules and argent".
It was used on the inscription plates on the entrances of the buildings with public offices. The two plates I have seen in museums are white oval convex plates, similar to those nowadays mostly used in embassies and like, containing the coat of arms in the middle and the name of the institution along the edges. The first one, kept in the Rijeka Maritime and Historical Museum, bears the inscription of the Port Authority; the seocond one, kept in the Varaždin Town Museum, bears the name and titles of a public notary.

The lesser coat of arms is "Checky gules and argent, bordered or, crowned with the Yugoslav royal crown proper".
Its primary use was on administrative seals. These administrative seals were mostly continued to be used by the Independent State of Croatia 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 new coat of arms, but some were still used until the end of the war.

[Unofficial coat of arms]

Unofficial coat of arms of the Banate of Croatia - Image by Janko Ehrlich Zdvořák, 29 August 2001

The coat of arms without the crown seems to have not been in official use, though it seems that, indeed, such crownless versions were used on flags.

Željko Heimer, 5 September 2004