Croatian Hawk Exhibition

Croatian Hawk Exhibition
The founding initiative
The first idea and subsequent initiative for the establishment of a physical exercise society in Croatia can be traced to the year 1866 and the first visit of Ljubljana’s “Southern Hawk” to the Croatian singing association “Circle” in Zagreb on the 300th anniversary of the death of Nikola Šubić Zrinski.
More concrete steps were taken only in June 1874 when the first discussions about the possibility of establishing a Croatian Hawk society took place in Zagreb at the proposal of physician dr. Josip Fon. An initiative committee was established at that time, headed by the priest and high school headmaster Josip Torbar.
By mid-October 1874, Zagreb’s local German society announced an initiative to establish a German physical exercise society “Turnverein” in Zagreb. In an attempt to steal the march, Josip Fon and Josip Torbar’s initiative committee crafted the first rules of the Croatian Hawk and registered the Croatian Hawk society in Zagreb on December 27th 1874. Ivan Vončina, at the time the Mayor of Zagreb and a noted member of the National Party, was chosen as the society’s first president.
Membership of the Croatian Hawk
Following its founding, the Croatian Hawk had 185 members – 19 founders, 66 active athletes and 100 supporters.

The more notable names among the members of the Croatian Hawk deserve mention: the writer August Šenoa, the professor, priest and Rector of the University of Zagreb Matija Mesić, the Croatian Parliament Member Frano Flonegović, the future Mayor of Zagreb Milan Amruš, the noted Croatian historiographer Tadija Smičiklas, the former Illyrian movement member and high school professor Vjekoslav Babukić among many others.

Some 3/10 of the members were officials of various category (national government, municipal, etc.), around 3/10 of the members were local entrepreneurs, some 2/10 were merchants, 1/10 lawyers and solicitors, while 1/10 were high school and university professors, physicians, engineers and landowners.

The athletes were led by Friedrich (Miroslav) Singer, at the time Croatia’s only physical exercise teacher, who was chosen as the first exercise leader (notable) and the teacher of physical exercise at the Croatian Hawk in Zagreb.

Expansion of the Hawk societies
Following Zagreb’s society, Croatian Hawk societies were formed in Varaždin in 1877; Bjelovar and Krapina 1884; Zadar, Karlovac and Vukovar 1885; Koprivnica 1887; Ogulin 1889; Split 1893, etc. Croatian Hawk societies were founded not just in Croatia, but in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United States of America and in South America.

By the beginning of the First World War, there were around 180 Croatian Hawk societies that had between 15 and 20 000 members.

At the time, the Croatian Hawk was the largest and most numerous physical exercise and social movement in Croatia.
A Czech idea from German examples
The causes behind the establishment and work of the Hawk movement are largely tied to the political situation in the Habsburg, that is the Austro-Hungarian, monarchy. Caught up in a wave of political, social and economic change appearing in the empire and particularly by the development and strengthening of the national and political consciousness, the 60s of the 19th century see the appearance of the Hawk movement in Czechia.

The movement was formed as a tool for political struggle, inspired by the German Turnverein physical exercise system, and intended to enable mass gatherings to demonstrate unity, weight of numbers and ability of initially Czech citizens, later enlarged to represent all Slavic citizens.

Physical activity was a founding principle and basic activity, but the establishing ideas and the goals of the Hawk socities were political and ideological: the fight against germanization and hungarization, the development and preservation of national consciousness and the fight for the preservation and advancement of the rights of Slavic lands in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Hawk movement was established for “the preservation of the homeland” and “taught individuals to ‘serve the people’”.

The political dimension of the Croatian Hawk
The bearers of the Hawk ideas in Croatia were largely urban liberals. Societies were formed in the cities for the most part, but the leadership of the movement was well-aware of the situation in Croatian lands at the time, specifically that the majority of the population was agrarian and so the movement emphasized efforts in rural areas claiming that it was the peasant that was “the foundation of the people”.

Any Croatian or Slav could be a member of the movement, regardless of their class or station. The societies exclusively used the Croatian language, but a common question arose on the possibility of others becoming members of the societies, largely Jews, Germans or Hungarians. The leadership of the movement largely left that question up to individual Hawk societies, nevertheless insisting that the societies must take into account the need to preserve the “Croatian and Hawk character” of the societies.

The leadership of the movement was largely composed of active members of the National Party, the Croatian Rights’ Party and, in the beginning of the 20th century, the Croat-Serb Coalition and the “New Course” political movement. They advocated for the unification of South Slavic lands within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, later on, for the establishment of an independent South Slavic nation. This latter goal was not communicated publicly, as it would have made it impossible for the movement to gain support from the existing government.

The movement’s function was explicitly political and ideological. The motto of the Croatian Hawks was: “In our right arm, strength, In our hearts, resolve, In our thoughts, our homeland.”. Everything was subordinate to the homeland, something that clearly marked the movement’s political stance. Official statements on political neutrality were demanded by the laws that allowed the Croatian Hawk to be registered as a physical exercise society, but its activities nevertheless turned the Croatian Hawk into a popular movement.

The Croatian Hawk Federation
The sheer number of Croatian Hawk societies triggered the establishment of the Hawk Federation. The founding assembly of the Federation of Croatian Hawk Societies, later the Croatian Hawk Federation, took place in Sušak (Rijeka) on November 6th 1904. The Federation’s headquarters were in Zagreb and its first president was Stjepan Miletić, a famous writer.

Hawk societies within the Federation were, from 1907 onward, organized into larger regions, termed parishes by the movement. This action was intended to ease the organization of landings, avoid material and financial issues in the work of individual societies and allow the movement to better coordinate.

The parishes sent their representatives to the Federation assembly, paid annual membership fees, participated in public exercises organized by the Federation, organized their own public exercises, sent their notables to the Federation’s meetings of notables …

V. World Gymnastics Championships in Torino
At the initiative of Franjo Bučar, the Croatian Hawk Federation became a member of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 1907 to allow Croatian athletes to participate in international gymnastics competitions. Franjo Bučar was subsequently elected to be a member of the administrative board, while Martin Pilar became a member of the technical committee of the FIG.

The Croatian Hawk Federation’s representation first appeared at the V. World Gymnastics Championship in Torino in 1911. Of the eight participating representations, the Croatian athletes took up seventh place.

The event was notable as the first time a Croatian representation appeared at an official international event under a Croatian flag.

The end of the Croatian Hawk
At a meeting of representatives of various Hawk organizations of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that took place in Novi Sad on June 28th 1919, the Hawk Federation of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was established. In 1920 it would be renamed into the Yugoslav Hawk Federation, headquartered in Ljubljana. The Federation operated under the motto: “One people, one nation, one Hawk”.

Dissatisfaction with conditions within the unified federation grew and in 1922 the Croatian Hawk Federation is re-established as a separate and fully independent organization which reached its pinnacle with the organization of the III. Croatian All-Hawk Landing of 1925.

Following the establishment of the January 6th Dictatorship in 1929 all Hawk organizations bearing national names were banned and a demand was issued that all Croatian Hawk societies join the Hawk of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. At an extraordinary session of the assembly of the Croatian Hawk Federation, on December 15th 1929, led by the Hawk Elder Milan pl. Praunsperger, the assembly unanimously concluded that they would not join the newly established Hawk of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and that all societies of the Croatian Hawk would be disbanded.

The basic exercise of the Croatian Hawk were gymnastics exercises. Gymnastics exercises, according to the Tyroš systematization, had four groups: exercises without equipment or aid from others, exercises with equipment, group exercises and exercises with partners. The greatest achievements were reached in exercises with equipment (gymnastics) and in group exercises (at Hawk Landings).

Hawks presented their accomplishments and training at public exercises and Landings. Landings were publicly organized forms of physical exercise events with large numbers of athletes. Landings, as a rule, were not competitive events.

Hawks were divided into age groups: descendants (up to 14 years of age), generations (between 15 and 18 years of age) and members. The Croatian Hawk’s exercises included equally children and youth, titled Hawklets, girls and women, titled She-hawks, and adult men, titled Hawks.

Public exercises and Landings
The first public exercise demonstrating the physical accomplishments of the Croatian Hawk’s members took place in Zagreb in 1878. Aside from Zagreb’s Hawks, the event saw the participation of Hawk societies from Varaždin and Ljubljana.

Public exercises were organized by individual Hawk societies or even several societies as a group during mutual visits. Landings were the largest and most notable events, gathering a large number of societies typically organized at the Hawk parish level. The Croatian Hawk Federation organized three massive, All-Hawk Landings in 1906, 1911 and 1925 that saw all Croatian Hawk societies and numerous Hawk societies from outside Croatia participating.

Public exercises and Landings had a general exercise programme that had two core parts: mass group exercises of athletes and exercises on gymnastics equipment.

Hawks and sports
Individual Hawk societies established specialized sports sections that often transformed into sports clubs. Sports activities within Hawk movement included cycling, fencing, shooting, swimming, rowing, football, tennis, mountaineering, horsemanship and so on.

The Hawk movement generally viewed sports as being too internationalized, unlike the Hawk movement that viewed itself as oriented towards the nation and Slavic culture in general. They also viewed sports as lacking in importance for society in general as, aside from championships, it did not tend towards other social, moral or political goals.

The core Hawk idea was to achieve perfection and harmony in motion by hard work, without ambition for competition or victory.

Cultural activities and the Hawk in Croatian schools
The Hawk societies took to educational and cultural activities with enthusiasm. The societies formed orchestras, fanfares, choirs, bands and even theatre groups. Behind this was an idea that cultural activities guided by the motto “Enlightenment towards freedom” would contribute to the preservation and advancement of the national consciousness of the Croatian Hawk and the surrounding community.

At its founding in 1874, the Croatian Hawk was allowed to be active in high schools and even teach gymnastics, mandatory physical education in schools. The Hawk movement’s notables Miroslav (Friedrich) Singer and Franjo (František) Hochman were the first teachers of physical exercise in schools for teachers and carried the activities establishing the need to teach gymnastics in all Croatian schools.

All teaching plans and programmes for gymnastics in Croatian primary and secondary schools were founded on Hawk principles, their approach to exercise and their exercises all the way up to the Second World War.

Limitations in available space and skilled cadre actually saw physical education classes within many of the primary and secondary schools of the Croatian school system be organized by the Hawk societies themselves, while teachers were often Hawk notables.

Hawks and social life
In addition to exercise, great care was given to the spread of Hawk ideas. Pursuing that goal, the Hawks saw to the organization of a bountiful social life in the regions they were active in. They regularly organized dances, feasts, plays, lotteries and other events. They also organized lectures, exhibitions, theatre productions and worked on opening reading rooms, public libraries, as well as the establishment of choirs and music bands.

The movement often organized public excursions and mutual visits with other Hawk societies by establishing “Travel tills”, while the uniforms of the society were organized by “Uniform commissions”. It was through excursions and visits that various regional Hawk societies established links and it was in this way that they presented themselves to local communities in order to attract previously undecided citizens into their ranks.

Dances held a particularly prominent place in Hawk activities, as they often saw traditional dances and circles takes place. The Hawks did also take a notable educational stand by fighting against alcoholism and their efforts to educate and promote healthy and hygienic habits among the citizenship.

1906, 1911, 1925
All-hawk Landings
All-Hawk Landings were the most important and largest Hawk events. Their organization represented the ultimate test of the strength and social impact of Hawk societies. All-Hawk Landings attracted great public, political and media attention and represented first-class events for the Hawks.

The first All-Hawk Landing was organized in 1882 in Prague, assembling some 1 500 athletes which included representatives of the Croatian Hawks. The fourth All-Hawk Landing in Prague increased that number to 15 000 Hawks, She-Hawks and Hawklets.

The Croatian Hawk Federation, immediately following its establishment in 1904, threw itself into the organization of the first Croatian All-Hawk Landing which took place in Zagreb in 1906. It was followed by two additional Croatian All-Hawk Landings in 1911 and 1925, both in Zagreb.

Croatian All-Hawk Landings of 1906 and 1911
The first Croatian All-Hawk Landing took place in Zagreb, September 2nd and 3rd 1906 with the support of the then newly elected government and Viceroy. There were 3 590 Hawk participants, of which 1 728 were Croatian. Guest participants included Hawks from Czechia, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia and Bulgaria.

The first All-Hawk Landing proved incredibly successful. Aside from the exercises, the event saw a grand reception for arriving guest, a march of all participants through the city, as well as numerous concerts, exhibitions and theatre plays. A specialized venue with stands for the public was built for the event, near today’s Drašković street in Zagreb.

The second All-Hawk Landing took place between August 12th and 16th 1911. It was around 4 500 participants, approximately 2 000 Croatians, with guests from Czechia, Slovakia, Serbia, the Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, the United States of America, as well as from the French Gymnastics Federation.

III. Croatian All-Hawk Landing of 1925
The third Croatian All-Hawk Landing (August 14th – 16th 1925) was organized on the 1000th anniversary of the Croatian Kingdom (925 – 1925) and had a strong political and social element.

That event saw the erection of a particular creation in Zagreb’s Maksimir park – the Hawk Tumulus. Built from earth brought from 155 locations throughout Croatian lands, interred within the Tumulus’ foundations were items of Croatian culture from that period – books newspapers and magazines of import, as well as memorials of all Hawk societies that aided in the Tumulus’ construction.

The Tumulus was renovated and completed in 1995. At the time a lump of earth blessed with a kiss by the Pope John Paul II during his visit to Zagreb on September 10th 1994 was added to the construction.

Hawk buildings in Croatia
The beginnings of a systematic approach to the construction and renovation of sports venues in Croatia can be traced to the introduction of mandatory physical education into primary schools in 1874 and with the establishment of numerous societies of the Croatian Hawk.

A great number of Hawk Halls were built at the beginning of the 20th century with the Hawks’ own funds – largely stemming from voluntary donations from members. This fact, more than anything, proves the strength and importance of the Hawk movement.

The numerous Hawk venues built throughout Croatia often represented the centre of social and cultural life and became centres of public entertainment in their communities.

Some of the 20 or so Hawk venues built included: Zagreb (1883), Split (1908), Zlatar (1910), Bjelovar (1911), Sisak (1913), Križevci (1913), Karlovac (1924), Vinkovci (1927), Osijek (1928).

Zagreb Hawk Hall of 1883
The increase in membership and growing interest in physical exercise far surpassed the capacities of the then-available school practice venues, so the leadership of the Croatian Hawks invested their own funds in 1883 to build a Home of the Croatian Hawk. The grounds, gifted to the Hawks by the city of Zagreb, were located at the city’s Fairgrounds, while the building itself, designed by the Hawk member and architect Milan Lenuci, was built in a mere half a year. The Home of the Croatian Hawk would become known as the Hawk Home or simply the Hawkery.

Today, the Hawk Hall represents one of the oldest sports venues in Europe that continues to serve in its original purpose in a near-original state – it serves as a practice venue for children and youth, as well as top Croatian gymnasts.

The Hawk Hall was renovated multiple times, most thoroughly in 1987 when it was renovated according to its original design for the 1987 Zagreb Universiade. During the renovation, the building was restored fully, the reconstruction being made according to original photographs of the hall. The renovation included the creation of copies of the original large chandeliers in the hall which continue to hang there today.

“Hawk” magazine – 140 years
In 1878, the Croatian Hawks in Zagreb began publication of the monthly magazine “Hawk”, the physical exercise gazette, Croatia’s first specialized and expert magazine from the fields of physical exercise and sports. Its editors were Andrija Hajdinjak and Franjo Hochman. Unfortunately, the magazine was terminated a year later due to financial difficulties.

The “Hawk” magazine’s bounty of content contained articles that covered general issues of physical exercise, the methodology of physical exercise, expert information, stories of noted representatives of the Hawk movement as well as news from the country and the world connected to the Hawk movement.

The goal of the magazine, as stated by its editors, was to spread physical exercise across the homeland and to rationalize its usage in public schools – thus, it was intended to provide guidelines and instructions for physical exercise teachers in everyday school practice.

Hawk periodicals
The cessation of the “Hawk” magazine left Croatia without a Hawk publication up to 1890, when the Croatian Hawk begins publication of the magazine “Gymnastics”, with Franjo Hochman as its editor.

This magazine, aimed at gymnastics in schools and wider society, was published for nine years, up until 1899. For the first three years of the magazine’s publication, its editor was Franjo Hochman, but following his death, the job was taken over by dr. Franjo Bučar.

The magazine had a clear and recognizable editorial policy, bringing numerous articles as well as practical instructions for work in Hawk societies and in schools. A particularly valuable contribution was the magazine’s systematic overview of school curricula, as well as methodological instructions for conducting physical exercise classes, which was invaluable in the absence of expert literature.

The gap in Hawk periodicals lasts until 1903, when dr. Franjo Bučar, aided by the Croatian Hawk in Zagreb, revives the “Hawk” magazine to promote physical exercise. The magazine began as the official gazette of Zagreb’s Croatian Hawk before becoming one of the Croatian Hawk Federation in 1904 when it was renamed into “Croatian Hawk”. In accordance to its purpose, it was heavily focused on Hawk issues and acted as an official gazette for the movement.

Monographic Hawk publications
The first books, schoolbooks and instruction manuals in the Croatian language tied to physical exercise and sports began appearing following the establishment of the Croatian Hawk and the introduction of physical exercise as a mandatory school class in public schools in 1874. These publications also present the oldest monographic publications from the fields of kinesiology in the Croatian language.

The author of the first monographic publications from the field of physical exercise in Croatian was A. Hajdinjak. His notable characteristic, aside from the fact that he was the first to write books and instruction manuals in the field, was that he wrote his works under a strong influence of the German approach to physical exercise, even if he himself was a member of the Croatian Hawk.

It would be the publications of F. Hochman and A. J. Löffler that physical exercise in Croatia came under the strong influence of the Czech physical exercise approach, primarily formed through the Hawk movement.

By the beginning of the First World War, there were 13 valuable monographic publications tied to the Hawk movement and physical exercise published in Croatia.