A SLOVENIAN BECOMES THE FIRST MAYOR OF CELJE
The election of Dr Juro Hrašovec (1858—1957) as mayor of Celje in 1921 and his legacy
The first Slovenian mayor of Celje, Dr Juro Hrašovec (1858—1957), who led the city from 1921 to 1927, had already exerted an influence on the life of Celje during the Austrian era, and this continued until the end of the first Yugoslav state. While he was in office, the roads in Celje improved, bridges and public buildings were rebuilt, modern public lighting was installed, the city expanded, the city finances stabilized, and municipal enterprises were
placed on a solid and independent footing. He served on the Municipal Council of Celje until 1935, and throughout the First Yugoslavia, he was active as a lawyer and in many social and other fields. As the first elected Slovenian mayor and an exemplary and reliable city administrator, he played a historic role in the development of Celje, being involved in the Slovenian emancipation process after the dissolution of the Habsburg monarchy and the construction of Slovenian identity after the First World War.
DR JURO HRAŠOVEC – THE FIRST SLOVENIAN MAYOR OF CELJE
On 26 April 1921, the first post-war elections in Celje were held in favour of the Yugoslav Democratic Party, and on 18 May 1921, its member Dr Juro Hrašovec was elected the first Slovenian mayor of Celje. Exactly one hundred years later, the Celje Regional Museum opened an exhibition entitled Dr Juro Hrašovec – the First Slovenian Mayor of Celje, by Damir Žerič, MA. The museum holds a good part of the material heritage of the Hrašovec family, the main part of the exhibition comprising two short memoirs written by Hrašovec in 1936 and 1950. The exhibition highlights Hrašovec’s main activities: the efforts to achieve equality for the Slovenian language, the struggle to establish Slovenian schools, his involvement in the establishment and operation of Slovene financial institutions, his integrative role in the slogaštvo movement, and his mayoralty.
“I FLATTER MYSELF THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A GOOD SLOVENE, BUT NO MORE”
Founding of the All-Slovenian Liberal Party
The article deals with the activities of Juro Hrašovec during his Celje period under the Habsburg Monarchy. The main part of the study is devoted to the political developments in Slovenia during the relevant period, namely the movement to abolish the Styrian National Party and to establish an all-Slovenian Liberal Party. It presents the correspondence between Slovene liberals, especially those from Styria, including the views and activities of Juro Hrašovec. The article also examines the political situation in Celje at the turn of the century, when Hrašovec moved to Celje, and concludes with the year 1921, when, as a prominent Celje lawyer and one of the leading representatives of the liberal national movement in the city, he became the first Slovenian mayor.
“THIS CAMPAIGN WAS TAKEN OVER BY MR MAYOR HIMSELF”
Dr Juro Hrašovec and the Yugoslav Czechoslovak League in Celje
The Yugoslav-Czechoslovak League in Celje, founded in 1926, set as its goal the strengthening of ties and friendship in all fields between the newly established Yugoslav and Czechoslovak states. Throughout its existence, its President was Dr Juro Hrašovec, who, along with the teacher and intellectual Janko Orožen, was also its driving force. The Celje League successfully organized numerous lectures on Czechoslovakia, held celebrations on President Masaryk’s birthday and on the Czechoslovak National Day, organized free Czech language courses, a holiday camp for Czech schoolchildren, etc. The League was constantly plagued by financial problems: membership was not large (between 40 and 60 throughout the period), and membership fees were low. The management and the members were left almost to their own devices and their own resourcefulness.
1918: LAWYERS BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES
An amalgam of the Habsburg monarchy and the new Yugoslav state
The present text is a contribution to the understanding of the collapse of Austria; the author aims to explain the dilemmas and problems of the processes accompanying the completion and formation of the new Yugoslav state through the eyes of the legal profession, which included Dr Juro Hrašovec, the first Slovenian mayor of Celje. Methodologically, it is a playfully experimental approach to history from below and is mainly based on archival material from the Bar Association of Slovenia. The legal profession in the autumn of 1918 and immediately afterwards is of particular interest for at least two reasons. Firstly, because it forms one of the fundamental parts of the modern state – the judicial system; and secondly, because the proportion of lawyers among politicians, i.e., among decision-makers, was the highest of any professional group (not only in Austria, but in almost all Western democracies).
“THE NEW GERENT SHALL BE …”
National and Provincial Governments of the SHS and the Appointment of Municipal Governments
After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary and the formation of the State of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs, the National Government in Ljubljana decided to retain the existing administration at the level of districts and municipalities and to operate in accordance with the legislation in force. For various reasons, the Commissioner for the Interior appointed gerents to replace previously elected mayors. In Lower Styria this was specifically intended to remove German influence, but it also occurred elsewhere, e.g., in cases where the mayor had died. In some municipalities, these gerents were also given assessors to help them with their work. This article presents individual cases and seeks to identify the characteristics of these appointments in 1918 and 1919.
“THE SITUATION IS FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THAT IN THE REST OF SLOVENIA”
Prekmurje Gerents and Municipal Administration in Prekmurje (1919—1927)
The process of integrating Prekmurje into the new state framework after the Yugoslav occupation of the Western Hungarian border areas in the counties of Zala and Vas in August 1919 and the subsequent annexation of the province to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes took place in politically, culturally, and socially complex circumstances. In this article I analyse one aspect of the integration of Prekmurje: the administrative adaptation of the Prekmurje municipalities to the new administrative and legal framework. I describe the establishment of municipal administration and self-government in the years following the occupation of the province and analyse the obstacles faced by the new authorities, as well as the reactions of the local population to the wishes and expectations of the Yugoslav authorities. I show that this was a slow and gradual process, determined by the Hungarian administrative legacy, poor material conditions, the lack of education among the Prekmurje population, and
the scarce resources at the disposal of the Yugoslav state.
THE “LOST” LOWER STYRIA
Heinrich Wastian, member of the Graz Regional Assembly from Maribor (1918-20)
In this paper, the author analyses the period of upheaval in Lower Styria through the prism of the activities of Heinrich Wastian, member of the Regional Assembly from Maribor. The Germans were frightened by the creation of the new state; the dismissal of many German civil servants was practically the order of the day, while on the other hand, Slovenians were euphoric about the new times. The Provisional Provincial Assembly of Graz began its work on 6 November 1918 and included some of the deputies from the last pre-war elections (the Maribor deputies Heinrich Wastian and Hans Suppanz). At the next elections in May 1919, Wastian stood as a candidate on the list of the Styrian Farmers’ Party (Steirische Bauernpartei) and was elected as the representative of Lower Styria in the Regional Assembly (he did not stand again in 1920).
“MAY OUR BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL BUILDING HENCEFORTH BE DEDICATED TO SLOVENIAN YOUTH!”
The transformation of schools in Celje after the 1918 upheaval
The upheaval of 1918 saw Celje in a situation of heightened national antagonism, and the sharp division between Germans and Slovenes also affected the state of education. On 1 November 1918, the national government of the State of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs declared Slovenian the official language within its territory, and in the same month it introduced Slovenian as the language of instruction in primary and secondary schools. For members of other nations, the decree provided for minority schools with the national language as a compulsory subject, provided there were sufficient school-age children. In January 1919, the Slovenian school authorities began more actively to dismiss German-oriented teachers
and to appoint Slovene ones. Former German schools were converted into Slovenian schools and German parallel schools were set up for German pupils. After the 1918 upheaval, school celebrations were changed and new subjects were introduced (Serbo-Croatian, history of the Karađorđević dynasty).