HISTORY OF CROATS IN HUNGARY
One of the most diverse and complex minority communities in Hungary in terms of origin, dialect, and ethnographic characteristics is the Croatian minority. According to researchers, the Croatian minority should be divided into at least seven (but some say twelve!) ethnic groups, which speak partly different dialects, and are geographically also separated from each other. They originate from different parts of the entire ethnic area of the Croatian mother nation, including some parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addition to present-day Croatia. A significant proportion of the Hungarian Croatian ethnic groups have their counterparts and relatives in Croatia, although some Croatian ethnic groups have evolved over the centuries within Hungary and gained their current characteristics here.
The Croatian language is divided into three main parts-these are called što, kaj, ča dialects based on three different forms of the interrogative pronoun-as well as several smaller dialects, and almost all of them can be found among the Hungarian Croats. All Croatian ethnic groups in Hungary are linked together by the fact that, except for one or two short periods in their history, they all have been Roman Catholics, which naturally means not only belonging to religion but also belonging to a particular circle of culture, which has given them a common cultural basis throughout history. This feature distinguishes them from southern Slavs who speak a similar language but have a different religion. In the western Balkans, religious affiliation has had a decisive influence on national development. Despite all the differences and unique characteristics described by ethnographers, their basic cultural characteristics, their most important traditions link the Croatian populations of Hungary, which are situated relatively far from each other and from the motherland.
The Hungarian Croatians came to their present place of residence at different times, but Croats were already living in some parts of Hungary, such as along the river Drava, during the era of Árpád house kings. Researchers generally agree that most of them arrived during the migration period before the Turkish conquest or during the Turkish rule, or even after the liberation of Hungary from the Turkish conquest between the 15th and 18th centuries, settling in Transdanubia, along the Danube and the southern parts of the Great Plain.
Let us start studying them following a line from north to south, south-east, as well as in the order in which they moved in.
The western Hungarian Croats, also known as Graditye/Gradišće Croats (formerly known as water Croats, Wasserkroaten), were the first to appear. Their ancestors fled to Hungary and Italy after the defeat of the Croats by the Turks at Krbava in 1493. Some noble families (the Batthyányis, Erdődys, Zrínyis, Jurisics Miklós) with estates both in Croatia and in western Hungary (in Győr, Sopron, Moson and Vas counties) had their Croatian serfs relocated from the vulnerable areas (Lika, Krbava, Pokuplje, Pounje, northern Dalmatia). Written sources mention them first in 1515 in Kismarton (Eisenstadt), which then belonged to Hungary. They moved in continuously, and this went on until the middle of the 17th century. They came from different parts of Croatia from the point of view of the dialect (all three large Croatian dialects can be found among them), and they became a united group of people with recognizable ethnographic features in Hungary.
In geographical order, the next Hungarian Croatian group is called by the researchers the Croats by the river Mura or Zala Croats. The majority of Croats in the Mura region moved to their present place after 1690 (after the liberation of Kanizsa from Turkey) and after the Rákóczi war of freedom, from Muraköz, the area between the two sides of the river Mura, and from the over-populated areas of western Croatia not occupied by the Turks. This Croatian group in Hungary is quite uniform in terms of dialect and cultural features; they all speak the kaj dialect.
The Croatian group along the river Drava lives in the southern parts of Somogy and Baranya counties, along the Croatian/Hungarian border river. In the 17-18th centuries, there were many Croatian villages in the northern part of Somogy county, near Lake Balaton. Several researchers assume that some of the Croatian population of the Árpád-era could have survived the Turkish occupation, similarly to the Hungarians of Somogy county, along the medieval Hungarian-Croatian ethnic border, in the protection of the river Drava’s marshes and forests. However, it is certain that at the end of the 17th and in the 18th century, this Croatian group also received plenty of supplies from Slavonia, from the other side of the river, and even from Croatia. This is confirmed by the fact that they are not uniform in terms of dialect. There are both što and kaj speaking villages in the area. The Bosnian Croatian people living in the villages around Pécs (and once also in Pécs), as their name suggests (Bosnian, that is coming from Bosnia) originate from the middle of Bosnia, which is partly inhabited by Croats even today, according to researchers. Some of them were already established in this part of Baranya county during the Turkish occupation. Still, at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, new groups joined them after the failed attempt of the Habsburgs to liberate Bosnia. They were also resettled by the Bishop of Pécs, Matthias Ignác Radonay (1687-1703), who wanted to increase the proportion of the Catholic population in his diocese.
The Sokac-Croats, who also live in Baranya and partly in Backa, came from Eastern Slavonia and Northern Bosnia. The majority of the Sokac speak the ancient form of the
i-version of the što dialect. Our first data about their presence in Baranya county are from the 16th century, but new immigration waves increased their number at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. The origin of the name Sokac is unclear; however, it is a fact that in the Western Balkans, the Sokac is usually the nickname of Croats, Catholics. Today, most of eastern Slavonia’s Croatians are part of this group, but there are also Sokac Croats in Vojvodina.
Bunjevac-Croats live in Backa (in the city of Baja and its surroundings) in Hungary, but they used to live in large numbers in some villages of Fejér and Pest county. In the 20th century, their names and origins were associated with the Buna River in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they were either considered to be a completely separate southern Slavic group or Catholic Serbs, whose origins have now been clarified by scientists. Their homeland is in Croatia, along the Dinaric Alps and Svilaja Mountains, and in Western-Herzegovina. Their name is probably connected to the stone hut (bunja) of mountain shepherds. They migrated between the 15-17th centuries to Backa and to the south-western regions of Croatia (Lika, Krbava, the Croatian coastline, Zadar area, etc.), where most of them still live. There are also calculations showing that nearly a quarter of Croatians is of Bunjevac origin. Their numbers grew, in the northern part of Backa, after the 15-year-war (1591-1606), and their last migration wave arrived in the Baja-Sombor-Subotica triangle in 1687. The Bunjevac speak a newer form of the i-version of the što dialect.
Another group of Croats, along the river Danube, live in the region around Kalocsa. They began to be labeled as Rac in the 18th century, and this name came to be accepted by them as well. Although the inhabitants of Croatian villages on Csepel island are also named Rac, they speak the same dialect as the Bunjevac, while those from the Kalocsa region use an ancient Slavonian što dialect. The Croats around Kalocsa moved from Slavonia in the 16th century, and today they form a unique archaic island. Speaking of the Rac-Croats, it should be noted that in 18th-century-sources, the Hungarian Croatian population groups are referred to by several names (often the same population in several ways), such as Croatian, Tot, Illyrian, Dalmatian, Sokac, Bunjevac, etc. The name of Catholic Rac spread mainly in the documents of the Chamber of Buda, but also elsewhere, even though in the Middle Ages, only the Orthodox inhabitants of Serbia were named Rac. This many-sidedness of the name later became the cause of many misunderstandings. Interestingly, the Croatian townspeople in Hungary liked to call themselves Dalmatian or Illyrian, regardless of their Bosnian, Bunjevac, or Sokac origins.
The 18th century and the first half of the 19th is a kind of golden age in the history of Croats in Hungary. Not only their number, but their place in Hungarian society was much more significant than today. They formed an absolute or relative majority in many settlements, where only old cemetery tombstones reveal their former presence today.
There were Croatian villages in the north of Somogy county, and around Lake Balaton in the 18th century, such as in Buzsák, the famous embroidery of which is also of Croatian origin. There were Croatian villages also in Fejér county at the time, and there were many more Croatian villages in Zala, Vas, Győr, and Pest counties than there are today. From the second half of the 18th century, more and more settlements inhabited only by Croats before had mixed populations, and assimilation started first in the cities and then in the villages, where the Croats were in the minority. This was more of a natural process, though.
Croatians moving to Hungary quickly settled into Hungarian society. Integration was facilitated (at least in the Hungarian Catholic regions) by the religious affiliation of Croatian immigrants. Their socioeconomic status in the 18th century was significantly different from that of the 20th one. In terms of both social and occupational structures, Croats in Hungary showed a much more diverse and complex picture 150-200 years ago, than in the last 100 years. Although most of them lived in a village and worked in agriculture, and the majority were serfs, but there were also Croatian landowners (nobles), such as the Bedekovics or Zajgar in Zala County. The 18th-century social composition and structure of the Bunjevac in Backa may be called complete because they had their own nobility: Latinović, Rudić, Pilasanović, Mamitžič, Vidaković, Adamović, Pijuković families, and many others. Most of them received their title and estates from Charles III and Maria Theresa, especially for their merits in the fight against the Turks. This nobility still spoke the language of their ancestors in the 18th century and became completely Hungarian in their mindset and language only in the 19th century. The Bunjevac also had advanced citizenship and played an important role in several cities in Backa. Naturally, they were predominantly village serfs, but at the same time, there were city Croats, even from among Bosnians and Sokac. The Bunjevac nobility played an important role in the political life of Bács-Bodrog county in the 18th century.
Almost everywhere village Croats dealt mainly with cereal cultivation, although animal husbandry also played an important role in their lives, especially after settling in. Livestock farming was preferred - in particular, in the first decades following their settling in, especially from Bosnia - as it was more profitable. The Bosnian Croats of Pécs of the 18-19th centuries were famous for their wine-producing. Also, after the liberation of serfs, vineyards and horticulture were widespread in the Bosnian villages around Pécs (usually among other Croatian folk groups in the districts of the city as well). Among the Bosnians in Baranya, cabbage cultivation was particularly common, and they were called “kupusari” (kupus means cabbage). In Croatian villages around Kalocsa - similarly to the Hungarian villages in the area - the cultivation of paprika was widespread. The Croats along the river Mura dealt with horse breeding in the second half of the 19th century. Strong horses (the Muraköz breed) were bred for the horse railway in Pest. Among Croats along the Drava region, pig breeding has spread (although with the decline of sheep breeding, the role of pork and lard became dominant in the food supply of other Croatian groups as well). Among the Croats along the Drava and the Bunjevac living by the Danube, as well as among the Sokac, fishing and shipping were also of importance. Some Croats along the Drava had tugboats. The Gradišće Croats of western Hungary also took jobs in the industry in the cities of the region (Sopron, Szombathely, and even Vienna) at the end of the last century, and in our century. The latter took place mainly because, after the liberation of serfs, the majority of Croatians had dominantly small estates, which did not provide an adequate livelihood for the relatively big families. In many places, such as for the Mura and Zala Croats, the quality of the fields was not good. Furthermore, many Croatian villages along the Mura or Drava lived in the grip of large estates, and only the regulations of rivers made it possible to increase their territories. For these reasons, emigration was significant mainly among the Croats of Gradišće, Mura, and Drava. Their destination was mostly the United States of America. Most of them have not returned, although some of them came home with a small fortune from the New World and bought land in their native village. The Sokac and Bunjevac living in Backa and Baranya were in a better position, as the fields were fertile there, and many of them had a considerable estate after 1848. The year 1848 was also important in the life of Croats in Hungary besides the liberation of serfs. Without exception, all the Croatian minorities joined the Hungarian Revolution. In the case of the Zala Croats, the violence of the Jelacic Border Guard teams added another cause, as they were equally violent in the Hungarian as well as the Croatian villages of Zala. We know of a Croatian priest in Baranya who sympathized with Jelacic and was therefore temporarily detained by the Hungarian authorities. The Bunjevac of Backa joined the National Guard and the army. One reason for this was that the Bunjevac nobility was more and more affectionate towards the Hungarians; the other was the conflict with the Serbs in Backa.
Before turning to the Croatian minority’s history in Hungary in the 20th century, we must not forget to talk about the Croats living in cities in the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th century, as they were a strong division, with considerable numbers.
A large number of Croats lived in Buda, especially in Víziváros (Water city), but also in Tabán, which was known for its Serbian dwellers. Even in the second half of the last century, the Catholic parish of Tabán had a Croatian language service. The Croatian Catholic population, mainly of Bosnian origin, first showed up in Buda in Turkish times. After the city’s liberation in 1686, they moved to the Hungarian capital in large numbers. A considerable number of Croat citizens lived in Pécs, Szeged, and even in Szentendre, though the latter was known more for its Serbs. The Croats who lived in Szentendre, called themselves Dalmatians, like the ones in Szeged, but while the Szeged ones are known to be Bunjevac, some researchers have proved that the Szentendre ones really come from Dalmatia. In the first half of the 18th century, Croatian citizens (Bunjevac or Sokac) were in absolute majority in Baja and Mohács. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the various ethnic communities lived peacefully but separately in their districts. Thus, the Croatian craftsmen and merchants of Pécs, Baja, and Mohács gathered in their own “Illyrian” guilds, they had their own “Illyrian” parishes (parochia Illyrica), and they had representatives in the city councils. In Baja, for example, until 1765, the members of the city magistrate were elected equally from among the three recognized
ethnic groups: the Bunjevac-Croatian (Natio Dalmatica), the German and the Serbian. In Baja, it was noted that even in 1768, the city judge took his oath in Croatian language in the Franciscan church (which was the Illyrian Parish).
The Hungarian Croat citizens originated mainly from Bosnia, which was abandoned by most of its Catholic population, and by all of its traders and craftsmen during the war against the Turks at the end of the 17th century. These people mostly relocated to Hungary. This is evidenced by the appearance of certain Oriental craftsmen (such as tanners, tobacconists) in Buda and Pécs. The guilds of the “Illyrian” alloys, furriers, shoemakers, potters, etc. wrote even their guild books in Croatian language (such documents can still be found in Pécs). These relocated Croatian citizens played an essential role in the reconstruction of several Hungarian cities after the Turkish times. However, the 19th century saw stronger and stronger assimilation among Croatian citizens. By the 20th century, after the Croatian nobility had already been Hungarianized, the Croatian citizens of Hungarian cities had also disappeared. This had adversely affected the Hungarian Croatian minority, whose social structure had become almost completely one-sided. This one-dimensional structure consisted of nearly entirely peasants, with only a few village craftsmen coloring this “monotonous” picture. In some places, there were commuting industrial workers, and the intellectuals were mostly represented by only one or two Catholic priests who remained affectionate towards Croatia. The Hungarian Croats, who entered other white-collar professions, were all Hungarianized before 1945, with one or two exceptions only. The relatively strong Croatian citizenship of the 18th century provided a sufficient financial background for Croatian culture in Hungary, as well as generous donations to its churches. This social background for the Croat culture in Hungary was not backed in the 20th century any longer, so it was almost entirely confined to folk culture.
Today (more precisely after 1945), we are witnessing the emergence of a new group of Croatian citizens and intellectuals in Hungary, especially in Pécs and Budapest, where major cultural and educational minority institutions have been established.
At the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century, there was a “national-cultural renewal” among two Croatian ethnic groups in Hungary, the Croatian people in western Hungary (Gradišće) and the Bunjevac in Backa. The former “renewal” was led by priest Mate Mersic Miloradic of Kimle, while the fights of the Bunjevac were supported by assistant bishop of Kalocsa, Ivan Antunovic. Among these two Croatian ethnic groups, cultural activity was revived, reading circles were established, newspapers were launched, books were published.
The first political organization of the Hungarian Croats, the Bunjevac-Sokac Party, was formed in Backa in 1913, which emphasized in its statutes that the Bunjevac and the Sokac are an integral part of the Croatian minority. However, after World War I, the party was only active in Yugoslavia. The Trianon peace treaty also affected Hungarian Croatians. Not only because the not too strong relations with the Croatian nation had ceased, but also because several Croatian minorities in Hungary were cut into two by the Trianon borders, including the Bunjevac and the Sokac in Backa and Baranya, as well as the Croatian people of Gradišće in western Hungary. The latter group found itself in three countries after 1920: in Austria and Czechoslovakia, besides Hungary. However, most of them would have voted in favor of Hungary, as was the vote of Kópháza in favor of Sopron. The minority policy between the two world wars was not favorable for the Hungarian Croatians, therefore, especially among the remaining Croatian city dwellers, Hungarianization was the officially expected attitude. However, at that time, the closed village communities were still resistant to assimilation pressures.
In both world wars, Croatians in Hungary made serious blood sacrifices in the Austrian army and the Hungarian army.
The short democratic experiment after the Second World War brought cultural renewal to Croats in Hungary. Croatian language elementary schools (which had totally disappeared in the previous 50 years) were established one after the other in villages. In 1946 the first secondary school was set up, and then in 1949, Pécs University also launched a Croatian teacher training major. In 1946, the first political organization was formed in order to bring together the whole of Croatians in Hungary, though it included Serbs and Slovenians, too. It was called the Democratic Association of South Slavs in Hungary. A political weekly was launched entitled ‘Nase Novine’.
This boom also started the development of Croatian intellectuals in Hungary. Still, the break-up between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and the deterioration of the Hungarian-Yugoslav relations affected the most active representatives of Croats in Hungary. Many of them were arrested, and others were interned in Hortobágy. The place of young Croatian teachers and intellectuals was often replaced by Yugoslav Stalinist immigrants, who brought with them an intolerant, artificially unifying cultural-political approach, which bore the idea of “the South Slavic unity” among the Hungarian Croats, though, this ideology also appeared between 1945 and 1949. The common Serbian-Croatian (actually Serbian) language was introduced in schools and the press.
When the Hungarian-Yugoslav relations started to improve, the Hungarian Croat minority did not develop intensive contacts with the Croatian parent nation. As a result of the events in Croatia in 1971, the Croatian version of the Serbian-Croatian language was again used in Croatian schools and the press in Hungary. Education suffered a severe blow in 1960-61, as a ministry decree abolished most of the Croatian schools. This and the forced entry to the cooperatives, the dissolution of traditional peasant communities, the expansion of modernization and urbanization – the challenges of which were not met by the weak Hungarian Croatian intellectuals-intensified assimilation. After World War II, the number of Croatians in Hungary was estimated at 90,000 (although the census showed much less than that), and since then, the number has been decreasing rapidly. In addition to Croatian bilingual secondary schools and primary schools in Budapest, Pécs, and Hercegszántó, Croatian is taught merely as an extra subject in the majority of Croatian speaking villages.
At the time of socialism/communism, a one-sided Croatian intellectual group emerged, mainly made up of teachers. The life of the minority within the framework of the dictatorship was perhaps even more controlled as compared to the majority nation.
In cultural life, folklore (minority “singing-dancing”) and poetry dominated.
After the change of regime, there have been substantial changes in the lives of Croats in Hungary. The Association of Croats in Hungary was established in 1989-90, and within a year or two, the formerly joint “South-Slavic” institutions, schools, media, etc. were separated. Separate Croatian institutions were established; new cultural associations, the Pécs Croatian theatre, the Croatian Scientific Research Association were set up; an independent Croatian literary journal was launched entitled Riječ; the editorship of Croatian radio and television programs became independent (after their establishment of the common South-Slavic form in the sixties and seventies); and instead of the old south-Slavic weekly, entitled Narodne Novine, the Hrvatski Glasnik was launched in Croatian language.
According to the minority act in 1994, the local Croatian minority self-government was elected. Then, in the spring of 1995, the Croatian minority municipality was established, and Mihály Karagics became its president.
As Croatia became independent, relations with the mother nation became intense. In the life of the Croatian minority in Hungary, the regime change has brought a special invigorating and renewal period, which may be able to slow down assimilation processes, which have become very intensified in the 1970s and 1980s.
A few words should be mentioned about the history of the religious and cultural life of Croatians in Hungary. Today, Croats in Hungary are unified from a religious point of view. All their population groups are devoted to the Roman Catholic Church. This has been the case in the past. However, in the 16th century, the Lutheran movement (Presbitarianism) spread temporarily among the western Hungarian Gradišće Croats and the Croats in the Drava region. Later, however, these Croatian Protestants returned to the Catholic Church. In the religious life of the Croatian people in Hungary, the Franciscan monks played a particularly important role. Parallel to the Turkish conquest of Hungary and the move of Croatians to Hungary, the Franciscan monks of Bosnia also appeared. Bosnian Franciscans settled at Bács in southern Hungary in 1533, and in 1541, after the fall of Buda, they appeared in Tököl, on Csepel Island, and in the Hungarian capital. In the 16th century, with papal permission, the Bosnian Franciscan Order extended its operation to the entire Hungarian territory of Turkish conquest. The Franciscans of Bosnia played a decisive role in the survival of Croats. However, it should be noted that from 1612 Croatian Jesuits also operated in Pécs, and secular priests of the Diocese of Zagreb were also active in Croatian villages in the Drava region, among the faithful. In the survival of the Croats in western Hungary, priests played a particularly important role, and King Ferdinand I authorized the free parish election for most of the Croatian villages. During the liberating wars against Turkey, the Bosnian Franciscans provided great help in the escape of the Croatian people of Bosnia to Hungary and Slavonia.
As already mentioned, the Croats had their own parishes in the 18th century. The Buda center of the Bosnian order spread religious literature written in Croatian, in the što dialect, while for the Zala Croats (who belonged to the Diocese of Zagreb until 1778) the bishopric of Zagreb wrote prayer books written in kaj dialect. In 1757, the pope established the Order of St. John of Kapistran from the Hungarian part of the Bosnian order, but this did not lead to a change, as there were numerous Croatian monks in the new order. At that time, several priests of Croatian origin reached the peaks of the Hungarian Catholic hierarchy-some of them becoming bishops. It did not do any good though that from the middle of the 18th century, the parishes were gradually taken away from the Franciscans, so the Croatian character was thrust into the background.
Even in our century, Croatian ethnic groups in Hungary had strong religious beliefs. In their lives, pilgrimages to Virgin Mary shrines played a particularly important role, where they could also establish contact with members of other Croatian folk groups. Máriagyüd, near Siklós, was a popular pilgrimage place for several Croatian ethnic groups in southern Hungary, where they could always participate in Croatian services.
Some Hungarianization also appeared in the Hungarian Catholic church in the 19th century. However, the Hungarian Croats often disapproved of the impairment of their language rights in the churches. The most serious incident occurred in 1897 in Hercegszántó, where the local Sokac rebelled against the Hungarian priest who changed the order of the Croatian-language worship, so they all joined the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Archdiocese of Kalocsa could only return three-quarters of them to the Catholic faith with great cause and trouble. Unfortunately, there are only a few Croatian villages today with Croatian language church services, although due to the good relationship between the Hungarian and Croatian Catholic Church, there are several Croatian missionaries among the Hungarian Croats.
The so-called high culture was primarily linked to the Catholic Church among Hungarian Croats of previous centuries. However, the first book written in Croatian for Gradišće Croats was composed by Protestant preachers, Consul Štefan and Anton Dalmatin in 1568. The next major Croatian religious work, a hymn book from 1609-11, was written by a Catholic priest, Grgur Mekinic.
We must make a note of the so-called “Buda cultural circle”, which is also of great importance for Croatian cultural history, where Bosnian and Croatian Franciscan priests operated in the framework of St. John of Kapistran Franciscan Order in the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. The Order College of the Franciscans of Bosnia, the Studio Generale, was in Buda, teachers of which were distinguished in several disciplines besides theology. Two excellent linguists, Stjepan Vilov and Lovro Bračuljević, already 100 years before Serbian Vuk Karadžić, had announced the basic spelling rules of Croatian literary language, namely: “Write as you speak!”. The works of historian and literary man Mirko Pavić and Grgur Cevapović, also a great historian, are significant from this cultural circle. The most prominent figure of the Buda cultural circle at the turn of the 18th-19th century was undoubtedly Matija Petar Katančić. Katančić was involved in archaeology and numismatics - also head of the archaeology department at the University of Pest -, Bible translation, and the introduction of time-scale poetry in Croatian poetry following the Hungarian pattern. His Fructus Auctumnales is an illustrious work of Croatian literature of the age, published in Latin and Croatian in 1791.
The Franciscans ran high schools in Mohács, and Baja - the tutoring was in Latin, naturally - but we know that in Baja elementary education in Croatian was set up. A Croatian elementary school was established in Pécs in 1722, with the help of the Jesuits and by the donation of Baron Ivan Makar, one of the city’s liberators. The community of Pécs Croats was considered of great strength, though it suffered several misfortunes, like the one in 1704, when both the Kuruc and the Serbian border guards carried out a great deal of destruction in their ranks. The cultural life of the Hungarian Croats was stagnating as a result of assimilation, only at the end of the 20th century was there a boom among the Croats of Gradišće and the Bunjevac. We must highlight the names of the book writer and teacher Mihovil Naković, and Mate Meršić Miloradić, who launched a Croatian newspaper in 1910, entitled Naše Novine. The assistant bishop of Kalocsa played the same role for the Bunjevac, Ivan Antunović, who launched a weekly paper in 1870 under the title Bunjevačke i Šokačke Novine. The literary paper Neven was also founded in 1884 by Bunjevac Mijo Mandić in Baja. Two Bunjevac playwrights, Ivan Petreš and Antun Karagić are worth mentioning from the period between the two world wars, who also organized theatre circles.
We remember here the two outstanding representatives of the Hungarian Croatian folklore, Fáklya and Baranya folk dance ensembles, as well as the famous choreographers, the Erkel-award-winning Kricskovics Antal and Vidákovics Antal; the latter was the founder and director of the Croatian Theatre in Pécs.