Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Tuđman, Franjo (1922–1999)

Yugoslav military officer and first president of the Republic of Croatia (1990–1999). Born in Veliko, Trgovišće, in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (now Croatia) on 14 May 1922, Franjo Tuđman attended secondary school in Zagreb and graduated from the Military Academy in Belgrade in 1957.

Tuđman worked in the Yugoslav Ministry of National Defense during 1945–1961, becoming one of the youngest generals in the Yugoslav Army in 1960. He left active military service the next year and began a new career as head of the Institute for the History of the Labor Movement of Croatia (1961–1967). During 1963–1967 he was also an associate professor of history at Zagreb University, where he earned a doctorate in political science in 1965.

Tuđman was a member of the Socialist Republic of Croatia's parliament during 1965–1969. After participating in the Croatian Spring movement, he was imprisoned for two years beginning in October 1972. He was again imprisoned during 1981–1984 for his political activities aimed at Croatian independence.

In 1989 Tuđman was one of the founding members of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). After the HDZ won the first democratic elections in 1990, he joined the parliament, which designated him president of the new Republic of Croatia. In 1991 Tuđman led his country to full independence from Yugoslavia and in the subsequent war with Serbia, which lasted until 1995 and claimed thousands of lives.

Tuđman was reelected president in direct elections in 1992 and 1997. His regime was characterized by both significant human rights abuses and political repression. In 1995 he signed the Dayton Agreement but refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal. Tuđman died on 10 December 1999 in Zagreb.

Lucian N. Leustean


Further Reading
Tanner, Marcus. Croatia: A Nation Forged in War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.
 

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