Born in Veliko Trgovišće on 14 May 1922, Tuđman participated in the Partisan movement and early in 1945, holding the major’s rank, he went to Belgrade as one of the Croatian representatives in the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia Supreme Headquarters.
Tuđman also worked in the Yugoslav People’s Army Chiefs of the General Staff and on the Military Encyclopedia’s editorial board. In 1960, he was promoted to the rank of general, after which he left active military service.
Upon returning to Zagreb, he worker as a researcher and in 1961 founded the Institute for the History of the Workers’ Movement of Croatia, becoming its director. Since 1963, he taught at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Sciences.
Due to his views on some historical issues, he came into conflict with the authorities and was ousted from the Communist Party, removed from the University of Zagreb, replaced as director of the Institute, and forced to retire.
In January 1972, after the Croatian Spring national movement was crushed, he was arrested and, in a rigged trial, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Thanks to an intervention by author Miroslav Krleža, the sentence was reduced to nine months.
Due to an interview with Western media in which he advocated pluralist democracy, he was arrested in 1981 and sentenced to three years.
When pluralism was allowed in Yugoslavia in 1989, at a panel of the Croatian Writers Society, Tuđman outlined the platform of the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) party, of which he was elected president at a 17 June founding assembly.
After the party’s victory in the first democratic election in 1990, parliament proclaimed him chairman of the Presidency of the Social Republic of Croatia.
After Croatia became independent, he won two presidential elections, in 1992 and 1997. His terms were marked by the military aggression on Croatia, its international recognition in January 1992, the 1991-95 Homeland War, the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region which ended in 1998, and the reinforcement of Croatia’s international position.
In 1995, Tuđman co-signed the Dayton agreement, which restored peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He died in Zagreb on 10 December 1999.
Two separate events to mark Tuđman’s 100 birthday
On Saturday, the HDZ will mark Tuđman’s 100 birthday with a special programme. A symposium entitled “Always and everything for Croatia” will be held at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, with speeches by HDZ president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Tuđman’s closest associates, HDZ founders, dignitaries and party officials.
Some of Tuđman’s former associates will mark his birthday in Vukovar, including his younger son Stjepan.
For more, check out our politics section.