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Ivo Pilar and the Art of the Possible: Croatia between Central Europe and the Balkans

Croatian Institute of History
Publication Date
  • Ivo Pilar
  • Croatia
  • Central Europe
  • Balkans
  • Political Science


Dr. Ivo Pilar (1874-1933), attorney, politician and specialist in geopolitics, was among the most distinguished Croatian intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century. As a politically-engaged publicist, his works appeared in the German and Croatian languages, often under pseudonyms (Zajedničar [‘The Unionist’], L. von Südland, Florian Lichtträger). He actively participated in politics during his twenty years in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Tuzla). He was one of the founders of the Croatian National Union. At the beginning of his political career he was at odds with the Sarajevo Archbishop Josip Stadler, but later, during the First World War, the two co-operated closely. In the last year of the war he became a member of the Frankist Party of the Right in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In his political activity, he sought a solution which he felt the most suitable to the existential needs of the Croatian people inside the boundaries of the Central European geopolitical space. The political leadership of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had no understanding for the momentous results of his knowledge pertaining to potential solutions to the Croatian question within the context of the then exceptionally important “South Slav question”. In the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Pilar became a persona non grata due to his political convictions, and he was prosecuted by the courts. During the dictatorship of King Alexander, he was politically close to the leadership of the then banned Croatian Peasant Party. His violent death remains unexplained to this day.

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