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‘GREATER’ YUGOSLAVIA / PROPAGANDA: Etnografska Karta. Zemlja Srba Hrvata Slovenaca. / Mapa Etnográfico de los Paises Yugoslavos. / [Ethnographic Map of Yugoslavia]. Zoom

‘GREATER’ YUGOSLAVIA / PROPAGANDA: Etnografska Karta. Zemlja Srba Hrvata Slovenaca. / Mapa Etnográfico de los Paises Yugoslavos. / [Ethnographic Map of Yugoslavia].


Extremely rare and unusual – a very large-format propaganda and ethnographic map depicting the maximal territory of the envisioned future nation of Yugoslavia, published in Buenos Aires during the height of World War I by the Croatian émigré and political activist Marcel Kolin.

Author: Marcel KOLIN (1888 - 1948).
Place and Year: Buenos Aires: Oficina Cartográfica Balcarce, 1917.
Code: 65294

Chromolithograph, folding into original grey paper wrappers bearing printed title and explanatory text, former owner’s pastedown slip to front cover and upper-left corner of map (Good, map with some wear and chipping along original folds with very minor loss, some light stains from old tape repairs to verso; wrappers with edge-wear and detached at spine), 98 x 126 cm (38.5 x 49.5 inches). 


This extremely rare, very large-format, separately issued work is one of the most extraordinary maps concerning Yugoslavia to be made during the 20th Century.  Made in 1917, at the height of World War I, but before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it depicts the hoped-for future nation of Yugoslavia, with its maximal territorial scope as envisioned by Pan-South Slavic activists.  It was published in Buenos Aires, having been devised by the prominent pro-Yugoslavian propagandist Marcel Kolin, who then resided in exile in Chile.  The publication was officially sponsored by the Jugoslavenska narodna obrana (JNO, the Yugoslav People’s Defence organization), a committee of Croatians living in South America dedicated to the cause of an independent Yugoslavia.

The purpose this quad-lingual map was to establish and legitimize the notion of a future ‘Greater Yugoslavia’ in the minds of both Yugoslavians and global powers in the run up to the end of World War I and the supposed defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  In short, it was hoped that if the notion of a ‘Greater Yugoslavia’ gained popular currency then the supposedly victorious Entente powers would be inclined to support its creation at the resulting peace conference.

The brightly coloured and beautifully designed map seeks to educate the observer on the geography and ethnic identity of the people of the Western Balkans.  The map depicts the entire region with great accuracy and detail, employing four languages (Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, English and French).  All major cities and towns are labelled, railways delineated, historic battlefields marked, and regions and nations named.  The map employs colour coding to represent the natural territories of the regions’ various ethnic groups.  Controversially, ‘Yugoslavs’ are identified a single, monolithic ethnic group, with their ingenious territories coloured in a light, bright pink hue; while the territories of the region’s other main ethic groups are identified as follows:  Italians (green), Germans (yellow), Hungarians (reddish pink), Romanians (light blue), Bulgarians (orange), Greeks (brown) and Albanians (dark pink).  Areas of mixed populations are shown as intermingled lines of the appropriate colours.

Where the map’s rhetorical nature comes into play is its over-representation of the ethnic Yugoslav presence.  While all the areas coloured either whole or partially in the Yugoslav’s hue of pink were indeed home to significant minority populations of indigenous Yugoslavs, the map over-represents their presence in many border and coastal areas, at the expense of other ethnic groups.  The somewhat exaggerated presence of Yugoslavs is used by Kolin as the basis for his ambitious proposed boundaries for the newly envisage nation (represented by fine dotted lines) as being of a ‘Greater Yugoslavia’ (Velika Jugoslavija) model.  Here its domains extend to include many areas with (in actuality) majority non-Yugoslav populations, such as Trieste city, the area round Celovec (Klagenfurt), Carinthia and part of the northern Banat around Temešvar (Timisoara).  Thus, Kolin depicts the maximal possible boundaries for Yugoslavia, motivated not just out of nationalistic fervour, but perhaps, on a practical level, as the starting point for a bargaining position with respect to its eventual boundaries.  This accorded to the agenda of the Yugoslav Committee, the prime mover behind the creation of large, united and independent Yugoslavia.  As it turned out, Yugoslavia’s boundaries upon its establishment in October 1918, were noticeably circumscribed from those depicted on Kolin’s map.

Below the title, Kolin includes the mission statement of the ‘Jugoslave [Yugoslav] national programme’, translated into three languages:

‘The Jugoslave (Southern Slavs), i.e., the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, are by blood language, and traditions, no less by economic, and political conditions, one homogeneous nation with identical aims in their national life.  Therefore they ask the liberation of all Jugo-slavish lands to be united into a sole and free national estate.’

The Birth of Yugoslavia

The notion of a coherent Pan-South Slavic identity is an old one, that first arose during the 17th Century, even if the notion of forming a South Slavic state was then, and for generations thereafter, a near impossibility, as these lands were variously part of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires.  It was not until the Revolutions of 1848-9 that the notion of reviving independent Slavic states in Central and Southern Europe, including some form of Yugoslavia, was considered to be a viable possibility.  Serbia’s de facto independence from the Ottomans, in 1878, proved that South Slavic self-determination was possible, and while most of the rest of the future Yugoslavia remained a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the succeeding era saw that more pronounced assertion of individual national identities (ex. Croatian and Slovenian), as well as the parallel (and competing) concept of a Pan-South Slavic national polity.  Indeed, various South Slavic intellectuals and political activists prosed reforming the Habsburg Empire to allow for some form of South Slavic autonomy, in the way Hungary was granted its own distinct status as a kingdom within the Empire in 1867.  However, Vienna, which ruled over many different Slavic peoples, was adverse to any notion of Slavic self-determination and managed to suppress these designs before they gained traction.

World War I (1914-8) proved to be the catalyst for transformative change in the Western Balkans, as it was throughout Europe.  From the outset of the conflict, the Austro-Hungarian Empire played a weak hand, and secessionist movements, including that advocating for the creation of an independent Yugoslavia, were given succour.  The driving force in the movement to create a united South Slavic state was the Yugoslav Committee (Jugoslavenski odbor), formed in 1915.  The committee’s actions were spearheaded by Croatians, and it gained global currency through its diaspora membership, which formed branches in Paris, Geneva, St. Petersburg, Cleveland, Washington, and Valparaiso, Chile (of which Marcel Kolin was a principal).  The Committee’s activities were often run on the local level by its subsidiary organizations, such as the JNO in South America. 

The Yugoslav Committee scored its transformative breakthrough at the Corfu Conference (July 20, 1917), whereby the organization formally joined forces with the Kingdom of Serbia to agree to one day soon form a united Yugoslavia (the conference is specifically referenced on the present map).  Importantly, this design was given the formal backing of both Britain and France.  As Austria-Hungary and her allies were by this time loosing the war, the realization of an independent Yugoslavian state was becoming a probability.  However, its precise composition and boundaries was very much up in the air, as the ownership of many coastal and peripheral regions would be hotly contested by various other states.  It was at this moment that Kolin’s present propagandist map was made in an effort to tip the scales in Yugoslavia’s favour. 

As it would turn out, Kolin’s dream would (mostly) become a reality.  In October 1918, in the dying days of World War I, the newly independent state of Yugoslavia (bearing the formal name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) was declared and was quickly recognized by the soon-to-be victorious Western powers.  However, Yugoslavia’s territory would not to be as extensive as the present map had proposed.  The Allies had all along been double-dealing, essentially promising anything to any country that would support them over the Central Powers.  Without telling the Yugoslavians, the Allies had singed the secret Treaty of London (1915) with Italy, under which they promised to give Rome all of Istria, much of Western Slovenia and large parts of Dalmatia to Italy, in return for their active support in the war.  These territories, including Trieste, were indeed given to Italy, even though many of the areas had majority Yugoslav populations.  Elsewhere, Timisoara became a part of Romania, while Hungary, although, much reduced in size, was able to retain some of the lands that the Yugoslavs had coveted.  Moreover, in 1920, the Allies permitted Austria to conduct a rigged referendum, whereby she was able to retain possession of most of the Slovene-majority parts of Carinthia. 

In spite of these disappointments, the Pan-South Slavic movement was brilliantly successful, as it had realized the creation of an independent Yugoslavian state occupying the majority of the native territories of its constituent nationalities.  As it would turn out, some of the remaining Yugoslav claims would be redeemed following World War II, when the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia gained all of Istria, Western Slovenia and the remaining parts of Dalmatia from Italy.

Marcel Kolin & the ‘Yugoslav People’s Defence’ organization (JNO)

Marcel Kolin (1888 - 1948) was one of the most prominent ‘international public intellectuals’, who advocated for the creation of an independent Yugoslavia in the period leading up to its birth.  He was born in Durborvnik, and in the years before World War I worked as a teacher in a variety of different places in Dalmatia.  As early as 1911, he appears as an activist in the Yugoslavian cause, publishing his first pamphlets on Pan-South Slavic unity.  Upon the outbreak of the war, the Austro-Hungarian authorities, which had hitherto considered Kolin’s Yugoslav advocacy activities to be merely a nuisance, began to see them as dangerous acts of treason.  Kolin had to escape the country via Italy and Switzerland, eventually landing at Lima, Peru, where he found a teaching job. 

In 1915, Kolin moved to Antofagasta, Chile, where he quickly became a major figure in the international Yugoslavian movement.  It should come as no surprise that Kolin felt at home in Chile, as that country, along with Argentina, had very large and well-established Croatian communities, dating back to the 1870s.  Indeed, today hundreds of thousands of Chileans and Argentines trace Croatian ancestry.

In Antofagasta, Kolin became the first secretary of the Jugoslavenska narodna obrana (JNO, Yugoslav People's Defence organization), at its founding meeting on May 2, 1915.  The group was enthusiastically supported and well funded, operating schools, social clubs and newspapers, all promoting the Yugoslavian cause.  Kolin was its propaganda master, publishing numerous books and pamphlets, of which the present map was one of his most interesting and impressive works. 

The JNO was no sideshow.  Its vast network of politically influential supporters had a significant role in building international acceptance of the creation of Yugoslavia.  By 1918, the JNO successfully lobbied the South American countries to support the country’s creation and, in turn, the South Americans employed their extensive network of contacts in Europe to help drive the cause home. 

In 1920, after Yugoslavia’s creation, Kolin returned to Croatia, where he became involved in the relatively new genre of cinema, as the head of the Zagreb Film Festival and the director of Lijepa naša domovina [Our Beautiful Homeland], an upbeat patriotic movie geared towards Yugoslav expatriates.  Kolin later worked for the Croatian Ministry of Education in Zagreb, before returning to his native Dubrovnik.  There he dedicated the rest of his life to philanthropic and cultural pursuits, becoming a major figure in the local Red Cross and one of the founders of the Dubrovnik Maritime Museum.

A Note on Rarity

The present map is extremely rare – we can trace only 2 institutional examples, at the National & University Library of Slovenia (Ljubljana) and the National and University Library in Zagreb.  Moreover, we cannot trace any sales records.

Interestingly, the present example of the map features the former pastedown owner’s slip (to front cover and upper-left corner of map) of Katica Stupićić, a prominent JNO leader based in Punta Arenas, Chile.

References: OCLC: 444673052 / National & University Library of Slovenia (Ljubljana): COBISS ID: 91528192; National and University Library in Zagreb: 000236547.  Cf. [Marcel Kolin biography:] Paulina Radonić Vranjković, Hrvatski biografski leksikon (2009).



Availability: In stock