Predavec – Josip 1884-1933

Janko, Jage and [presumably] Josip bottom left.

Josip Predavec’s Wikipedia entry is here. News article on his death including an autopsy report is here.


Josip’s brother was Đuro Predavec.


The following is translated from a French translation of a Croatian-language book:

In a letter that Stjepan Radić sent to his brother Antunin May 1908, he drew his attention to Josip Predavec by using the following words: “He is a force – let us warn”. This remark by Radić was not unfounded. Predavec had already demonstrated good intellectual abilities in his early youth. Starring Stjepan and Antun Radić’s entourage, he had followed their teaching and carried out various business related to what they were doing. It was by following this path that he introduced himself in the following years among the restricted circle of the leadership of the Croatian Peasant Party (later the Croatian Republican Peasant Party, and finally the Croatian Peasant Party), to the point to become vice-president.

Josip Predavec was born on July 2, 1884 in the village of Rugvica near Dugo Selo. He had finished high school in Zagreb and, according to the advice of Stjepan Radić, had completed his agronomy studies at Tabor in Bohemia. When he became an agricultural expert, he took a keen interest in the progress that could be made in this area. It should be emphasized that agriculture was the main economic sector in Croatia and the overwhelming majority of the Croatian population was linked to it. Predavec had therefore devoted itself to a sector of enormous importance for Croatia and the Croatian people. He deepened and completed his knowledge of the subject by traveling in Central and Western Europe. He was, moreover, admired by the agricultural performances showed Denmark. When it came to organizing agricultural production, he devoted himself mainly to the corporate activity to which he devoted a large part of his public commitment. He himself wrote many articles dealing with agricultural issues and when he was imprisoned in Lepoglava he wrote the bookSelo i seljaci ( The village and the peasants , published in Zagreb in 1934), which was well received among the peasant people.

The great confidence that Stjepan Radić had placed in Josip Predavec gradually turned into a real collusion so that the latter would eventually be admitted as a member of the Radić family. Radić’s correspondence testifies to this. The letters which suggest this intimacy were written in the years preceding the First World War, ie in the first years of activity of the Croatian Peasant People’s Party. This party was founded by the Radić brothers when Predavec had also set about organizing and strengthening it in Croatian villages. His activity was particularly evident in the main body of the party – the Dom- but that did not prevent him from participating in the political meetings and the pre-election activity.

In 1910, Predavec applied as a national deputy in Virovitica, but he had a disappointment when he arrived in this region. Indeed, the district representative, Mraović, had him incarcerated. He sentenced him to five days’ imprisonment on the pretext of vagrancy, and then arranged for him to be sent to his home commune at Dugo Selo after passing through Zagreb. However, Dr. Antun Radić, who had been elected both in the Velika Gorica and Dugo Selo electoral districts, retained only the mandate of the first constituency. In renewed elections for the Dugo Selo constituency, Josip Predavec ran for HPSS lists and was elected. He was barely 26 years old. C ‘Devet seljackih zastupnika ( Nine Peasant Deputies – 1912): “He is the youngest member of the peasant party, and also the youngest member of the Croatian Sabor, but he also belongs to the founders of the Peasant Party. to his most able workers. “

With family in Dugo Selo

Predavec displayed even more activity within the party when the Yugoslav state was created after the First World War. It was the time when the formation of the Radić brothers had evolved from a small party in Parliament to become the main Croatian political force and where its leader Stjepan Radic had taken the lead in the fight against centralism and the Great Hegemony. Serbian. Josip Predavec was among the leaders of this fight alongside the tireless party president, Stjepan Radić.

Radić’s struggle against the practice of centralism in this just-founded state, but also against the way in which it was created, had begun with unification. At the HSSP’s special general assembly, which took place on Streljana in Zagreb on February 3, 1919, Stjepan Radić delivered an energetic attack on those in power, starting with Svetozar Pribičevićbut also the regent Alexander. He had given his interpretation of the republic, pointing out that it was a “political community and a concord in freedom”. That is why he had called for a “Croatian republican state”, adding that he wanted national unity or Yugoslavia as long as it was a “federative Yugoslavia, an integral Yugoslavia of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs” . Josip Predavec also took part in the assembly, he was now one of the two vice-presidents of the party. Given the widespread echo of the Streljana assembly, the government initially banned the publication of the Dom(February 26), then on February 27 he ordered the arrest of Stjepan Radić and Josip Predavec. This is the origin of Predavec’s first arrest in the Yugoslav state, where he will visit prisons on other occasions. (A month later Predavec will be released).

A confirmation that Predavec had actually ascended to the first place in the party, just below Stjepan Radić, is provided by the case of the appointment of delegates to the State Council of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which had been convened for March 1, 1919. (This Council of State had been called the Provisional National Representation). Before being arrested, Stjepan Radić had received an invitation from the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs that the Peasant People’s Party send two of its representatives to the Provisional National Representation. Although the party indicated that this body was by no means recognized as a representative of the Croatian people, it had nevertheless decided to have it represented by Stjepan Radić who would have had Josip Predavec as his deputy. (The second appointed delegate was Dragutin Karla Kovačević and his deputy wasVladko Ma ček ). However, a new decision will be taken at the session of the Main Committee, namely not to recognize the SHS State Council as representative of the Croatian people. “The HSSP does not send its delegates to this Council”. Nevertheless, the fact of having appointed Predavec to serve as substitute for the first delegate, Stjepan Radić, shows that she could be his position among the party leadership.

In 1920, Stjepan Radić was in prison for several months. During this interlude, Predavec conducted the affairs of the party jointly with the second vice-president Maček. It was they who, on April 11, 1920, convened the eighth main assembly of the Croatian Peasant Peoples Party. Such an assembly was banned by the gendarmerie but the ban Matko Laginja allowed despite all its behavior, although not in Zagreb but in Podsuded. Predavec displayed a lot of activity at this meeting, preparing the resolution in particular. In the resolution that was adopted, there was often mention of the HPSS program of December 22, 1904, a program that the party still regarded as topical. In one of the resolutions (out of the nine adopted), it was pointed out that “

The elections to the Constituent Assembly had been called for November 28, 1920. The party had prepared for the elections despite the fact that HPSS President Stjepan Radić had been in prison. Predavec and Maček were the ones who took care of the electoral preparations. On September 20, they revealed the party’s election platform on behalf of the Main Committee. Since the program referred to a Yugoslav Federal Republic, the Minister of Justice had the terms in question deleted. Predavec and Maček then published a statementin which they pointed out that the Croats had come to the conviction that this Community State should be based on an enlightened humanity and not on Cyrillic, and that the national fraternity should be shown as an entire equality between Croats, Slovenes and the Serbs. This statement included the following sentence: And our native Croatian Serbs will not recover their senses, only then stop saying that they are the bosses, since they will have seen that Croatia in Yugoslavia is gaining height and by means of the voluntary intervention of all, and more particularly Dalmatian, Herzegovinian and Bosnian Croats. Moreover, in addition to the “congenital sisters”, Bulgaria was also mentioned in this statement, which shows the pen of Stjepan Radić who had made contact with Predavec and the HPSS leadership since his prison. Proof of this is that at the October 23rd electoral meeting, Predavec had read in person the message he had received from the president under lock and key which will be approved unanimously. After that, he also read the electoral message of the party that the present members had accepted without discussion. At the next election meeting, the electoral lists will be adopted and will be proclaimed by the Predavec vice president who was himself a candidate on the list of the county of Zagreb.

The eve of the elections was to be released Stjepan Radić. The election results meant a real triumph for the Croatian People’s Party, which had won 230,000 votes and 50 seats in the Constituent Assembly. Among the national deputies of HPSS was Josip Predavec. Immediately after the elections, an extraordinary general assembly was convened for December 8, 1920. In his address to the assembly, Stjepan Radić declared that the Croatian peasant people had expressed their free will in the elections for the recognition of their holy Croatian homeland. within the international borders of the South Slavs as a peasant republic.

Then was disclosed the decision to change the name of the party. It was precisely Josip Predavec who did it. Here again we see a sign of his position in the party. It was stated in this decision that in the elections of November 28, 1920 the Croatian peasant people elected “by a great concord” the Croatian peasant republican majority and that hence the party would henceforth bear its full and true name, namely the Croatian Republican Peasant Party, or HRSS. Then Predavec read the decision on the Constituent Assembly.

The HRSS did not send its elected national to the Constituent Assembly in Belgrade, but still established contact with some MP clubs to probe their views on the organization of the state. Thus, according to the decision of the session of the national deputies of the HRSS dated December 12, 1920, a delegation was sent to Zemun to hold talks with the group of radicals gathered around Stojan Protić, with the Muslim Club, the Slovenian clerics, the Agrarian Club and some other groups (including the Communists). The national deputy Josip Predavec was at the head of the delegation whose members were Juraj Krnjevic, Dragutin Kovačević, Mato Jagatić and Rudolf Horvat. Before Predavec and his comrades leave, initial positions had been specified in anticipation of negotiations with representatives of the different groups. Above all, it had been emphasized that the interlocutors should be made to understand that in the State there can be no question of a majority vote. The delegation had stayed in Zemun from 15 to 17 December. On his return, Predavec filed a detailed report. The HRSS continued to refrain from participating in the work of the Constituent Assembly, its representatives did not go to Belgrade. 

After the Vidovdan Constitution was passed, a new stage in the fight against centralism, now legalized, would be undertaken. Josip Predavec put his fervor as a Croatian politician. Many of the HRSS’s political actions, initiated and conducted by party leader Stjepan Radić, will dominate the entire Croatian political scene. Predavec followed logically all the decisions of the party. In subsequent parliamentary elections, until the dictatorship of 6 January is established, he will run as a national deputy and he will be elected. In the elections of 1923 and 1925, he will be representative in the county of Zagreb and in 1927 in the comitatfrom Bjelovar-Križevci. When Charles of Habsburg had attempted in 1921 to seize the royal throne in Budapest and had undertaken to restore the Double-Monarchy, the HRSS had issued a protest proclamation, which had been signed by Stjepan Radić and both Vice Presidents Josip Predavec and Dr. Vladko Maček. Predavec had also been engaged in the Croatian Bloc – the political alliance between the HRSS on the one hand and the Croatian Community and the Croatian Law Party on the other – which had been formed after the Vidovdan Constitution had been passed. There is also Predavec among the delegation of the Croatian Bloc (alongside Juraj Krnjević and Mate Drinković), who went to Belgrade in 1922 with the aim of

Subsequently, Predavec is again among the restricted HRSS leadership. At the meeting of the Main Committee on July 1, 1923, he was re-elected vice-president of the party (the party had at that time four vice-presidents: besides Predavec were still Dr. Vladko Maček, Jure Valetić and Dragutin Karla Kovačević). Predavec played a leading role in the leadership of the party and its activities when Radić stayed abroad in 1923-1924 (Stjepan Radić then visited Vienna, London and Moscow). This is the time when Stjepan Radić decided to present the plan on “the Yugoslav Union”, having been conceived in London. This union would be born on the basis of an agreement between Croatia and Serbia. Radić then told some of the Croatian deputies in the national parliament how much it was necessary to overthrow the Pašić government. It was also during this period that Matko Laginja was received in audience with King Alexander and that he drew his attention to the fact that Radić “defends the integrity of the territory of the present state”. To this, the king had replied that he was ready to accept all “what the parties agree or what the honest people agree on for the good of the state and the people”. On his return to Zagreb, Laginja immediately called Predavec and Maček to inform them about the contents of the talks he had conducted with the king. In the absence of the President,

Predavec played his part in all the ups and downs of the years 1924 and 1925. He chaired the sessions of the Croatian national representation and went to Belgrade for talks on relations between the HRSS and the government of Davidović. When at the beginning of 1925, the regime attacked the HRSS (application of the Promulgation against the party because of the stay of Radić in Moscow and the announcement that the HRSS would adhere to the Peasant International who acted under cover of the Comintern), he shared the fate of all the other leaders of the HRSS, who at the beginning of January 1925 had also been apprehended after the spectacular arrest of Stjepan Radić.

In the 1925 elections, the HRSS won its biggest victory so far: it received 532,872 votes and 67 seats in Parliament. The Pašić-Pribičević government persisted in the strong stance towards Stjepan Radić, but in the circles around King Alexander and among the radical summits a new formula had matured, that on collaboration with the Peasant Party and with Stjepan Radić. The talks with Radić were held in the Zagreb courthouse. This led to Radić’s recognition of the Vidovdan Monarchy and Constitution (Stjepan Radić’s statement will be read in the National Parliament on March 27, 1925 by Pavle Radić). Then come the negotiations with the Radical Party and the conclusion of an agreement on the basis of which the government will be formed between the radicals and the group of Radić (the RR government). Stjepan Radić believed that his political shift would lead to Croatian autonomy within the borders of the common state. However, this change of political course created a stir among the HSS (the party had lost the term “republican” since it had recognized the Constitution of Vidovdan). Some deputies left the party. During these crucial events, Josip Predavec had firmly stood by Stjepan Radić, fully approving his political acts. Then, when Stjepan Radić broke the agreement with the radicals and that he had concluded a political alliance with his great opponent the day before in the person of Svetozar Pribičević (the HSS and the Independent Democratic Party had concluded an alliance called the Democratic Peasant Coalition), we found Predavec among the ranks of this new formation. At the session of Deputies of the Peasant-Democratic Coalition held in Zagreb on January 21, 1928, Predavec was one of the rapporteurs and he presented a detailed account of the financial and economic problems.

The presentation on the activities of Josip Predavec, however, can not be complete without mentioning his participation in the work of the Departmental Assembly of the Department of Zagreb in 1927 and 1928. Having seen the fatal consequences of the central administration, King Alexander and the leading summits in Belgrade had decided in 1927 to set up county assemblies (the state had been divided into 33 departments under the Vidovdan Constitution), and they had enabled them to ensure that the current economic problems at the local. Since until 1929 legislation had not been standardized in the territory of the SHS Kingdom, the departments had been able to use the old laws. It was particularly important for thecounties. In elections to the Zagreb Parliamentary Assembly, Radić’s HSS won 90% of all MEPs’ seats. Among the elected departmental representatives was Josip Predavec, who had been heavily involved in the work of the Departmental Assembly. Stjepan Radić was also elected and appointed chairman of the Departmental Committee at the first meeting. The work of the assembly was conducted in three sessions. In this, Stjepan Radić dominated during the first session and with Josip Predavec in the second. On the other hand, during the third session, the main character was Josip Predavec, who had succeeded Stjepan Radić as chairman of the departmental committee. He continued the policy of Stjepan Radić so that through the institutions of the Departmental Assembly of Zagreb be carried out certain actions for the good of the whole Croatian people. The minutes of the Departmental Assembly of the Zagreb Department reveal this activity and how much the action of Predavec had been ample and fruitful (of course, this also applies to Stjepan Radić), something little known to the public until then . The Radicals tried by all means to counter this activity and gradually they suppressed this administration yet provided by law. this also applies to Stjepan Radić), something that was little known to the public until then. The Radicals tried by all means to counter this activity and gradually they suppressed this administration yet provided by law. this also applies to Stjepan Radić), something that was little known to the public until then. The Radicals tried by all means to counter this activity and gradually they suppressed this administration yet provided by law.

After the attack on Stjepan Radić in the National Assembly on June 20, 1928 and his death on August 8, 1928 was going to remain vacant the post of president of the party. The national deputies of the HSS, gathered at the meeting of August 13, chose as president Vladko Maček unanimously, and this on proposal of Josip Predavec. Predavec had been expected to succeed Radić and rumors had circulated about a rivalry between Maček and Predavec. That Predavec had tabled a proposal to have Maček elected was interpreted as an intentional gesture by the party leadership and Predavec himself to deny rumors about the rivalry between the two vice-presidents.

At the time of the dictatorship of January 6, the regime systematically persecuted Croatian politicians including Josip Predavec. He was accused of circumventing the legal regulations in the work of Selo-banka, where he had benefited from a decisive influence and where he had conducted the sanitation procedure. The trial against Predavec began on May 18, 1930, in the main hall of the Zagreb courthouse. Although the indictment had charged Predy with economic crime, it was more than obvious that the whole trial was aimed at politically disqualifying him. The lawyer of Predavec, master Mirko Košutić, publicly stated in the courtroom that this was a trial against the economic institutions of the former HSS. It was therefore a question of striking the strongest Croatian political force and decapitating the direction in which Predavec held the first place after President Maček. Predavec had also been defended in court by master Ivan Pernar, master Mate Mintas, master Radivoje Walter, master Ivan Pohor, master Ziga Scholl, master Mile Budak and others. The final defense argument should have been delivered by Master Ante Trumbić. However, he had to cancel his coming to the final deliberations because at the same time took place in Belgrade the trial against Dr. Vladko Maček that Trumbić was defending on the spot. Predavec was convinced that the course of the trial as a whole had proved his innocence and had “washed him of defamation”. However, on 7 June 1930, to the dismay of Predavec and the public opinion, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and three years of disqualification from his civic honor and to 5,000 dinars.

Predavec had been convicted of economic crime but in fact this sentence for such an offense removed him from public life and deprived him of all political activity. The trial against Predavec was a clear expression of the conflict between Croatian sentiment and the big-Serb circles in power in Belgrade. Josip Predavec had become the target of the dictatorial regime’s attacks in order to eliminate a prominent Croatian politician who enjoyed a reputation in the eyes of Croatian opinion, especially among the ranks of the peasants. His sentence was extended twice, and he did not leave prison until the end of 1932 (he was taken into custody in December 1929). He left the prison beforeZagrebacke punktacije ).


After being released from prison, Predavec was no longer able to act politically as the dictatorial regime remained in place. The work of the HSS, as well as that of the other political parties, was completely thwarted. In fact, Predavec remained Vice President of the HSS, but the basic organizations of the party were dissolved and the leadership continued. And it was then that he was cowardly murdered in front of his house in Dugo Selo, only one year after being released. This happened on July 14, 1933, apparently on the orders of the Belgrade regime, who tried to portray the murder of Predavec as a revenge-motivated act. He was murdered by Tomo Koscec of Dugo Selo, who testified against him at his trial. The widow of Predavec, a mother of six,


Without a doubt Josip Predavec had been one of the most prominent and diligent tenors of the Croatian peasant movement. His enviable energy at work and his excellent knowledge of economic issues made him a very significant figure in the leadership of the HSS. Predavec was, in a word, the author of the economic and social conceptions of the peasant party that Stjepan Radić himself had often initiated by his considerations. It was precisely through Predavec, with whom he shared similar views on economic problems, that Stjepan Radić defined the economic policy of his party. This led Predavec to become the first man in the party alongside Stjepan Radić. 

Source: Hrvoje Matković, Studije iz novije hrvatske povijesti (Studies on Croatian Modern History), Golden Marketing – Tehnička knjiga, Zagreb, 2008, p. 337-345.

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