Historical background of Slavonia, Valpovština (Valpovo surroundings) and the village of Ladimirevci

Ladimirevci is a village in north-eastern part of Croatia 20 km away from Osijek. In length of two kilometres it stretches along the right bank of the river Karašica, which is parallel to the river Drava. Ladimirevci is officially a suburb of the town Valpovo. According to the 2001 census the village has 1662 inhabitants and it is one of the best developed villages in the area. The village of Ladimirevci has a very long and interesting history. In order to fully understand its development and today’s importance this historical aspect will be dwelled on in most detail. The territory of today’s Ladimirevci was populated as early as in the Neolithic (4 - 5000 years B.C.) and the remains of ceramic and tools, which were found on the locality called Željkovac (near Ladimirevci) are the best pieces of evidence for such theories. Celtic and Illyrian tribes kept invading this area until 27 B.C. when the Romans came. As early as in the 1st century they managed to take total control over their Empire despite the frequent conflicts with the “domestic” Illyrian tribes. In the 1st century the Romans built a road Petovia - Mursa, and in the 3rd century a town called Iovalium which is today’s Valpovo.

That way they made a great contribution to the development of this area. In the 4th century the stability of the Roman Empire was shaken by the Huns’ and Goths’ invasions. In the 6th century Avarians encroached the mentioned area and many Slavic tribes accompany them. After long and successful battles with the Avares (610-640) the Croats finally managed to invade the region of today’s Slavonia. After the fall of the Avaian state in 802 the Croats still had to subdue to the Frankish rule. In the 9th century the Bulgarians, who overpowered the Franc, became new rulers of Slavonia and today’s Valpovo. The remnant of the times when the Bulgarians ruled this area is the name of the river Karašica (kara=black, and torrent). Until 925 the Bulgarians, Francs and Hungarians fought for power over this territory. The Duke of the Dalmatian Croatia named Tomislav succeeded in expelling the Hungarians till the river Drava which is still valid as a state border between Croatia and Hungary. Soon after he pronounced himself Croatian King he united all Croatian countries and lead them to fight against the Bulgarian King Simeon. Moreover, he won the war and set new borders for Slavonia and Bosnia. In 10th and 11th century the Croats finally were the only rulers of their land. However, this harmony was soon again interrupted in 1097 when Hungarians again tried to gain power over Slavonia. In that same year Hungarian King Coloman defeated the last Croatian King Petar Svačić at the Battle of Gvozd. Nonetheless, Hungarians never again established complete authority over this area. In 1102 Hungarian King Coloman was forced to sign a contract “Pacta conventa” with the Croatian nobility. According to that contract Croatia and Hungary were independent countries linked only by the Ruler’s personality. Since many of Slavonian nobility died in wars, Coloman pronounced the territory of Slavonia to be the King’s ultimate possession (terra regalis) and thus he gave the land to disposal only to the Hungarian nobility.

The very name of Ladimirevci was first mentioned in 1392 in the register for collecting the Pontiff’s tenth. Even before this, around 1333, there was a record of existence of the village called Sanctus Cosma and Damyanus, which was situated near the above mentioned Neolithic locality of Željkovac. It is believed that one part of inhabitants of today’s Ladimirevci originate from Sanctus Cosma and Damyanus. It is believed that the old locality was left for some reasons and people started to build a new settlement along the river Krašica. The name of the Village of Ladimirevci probably came from the old Croatian name Ladimir, who supposedly was the head of the new founded village.

After the empowered Turkish army managed to overcome the Hungarian King Ludovik III at the Mochach Filed battle, the Turks began massive invasions of this region. They gradually conquered most of the cities including the town of Valpovo. During the Turkish rule Ladimirevci had 8 houses with 16 catholic families. Life was very difficult in this period because peasants had to pay various taxes to the Turkish rulers and they became slaves in their own houses. The Turkish rule lasted for 144 years and it ended on September 30, 1687. From 1688 Valpovština was under the government of Imperial Court Chamber but in 1721 it again gets a new feudal ruler: Austrian Baron Peter Anton Hilleprand der Prandau was awarded Valpovo and 40 surrounding villages (including Ladimirevci) as an award for his special contributions in the army. Baron Prandau actually helped to improve the economy in this area by building the roads within the landed property, meliorating the land and by initiating arrivals of the first German artisans. In 1852 Ladimirevci got a public school, whereas in 1908 the first railway station was made in the village. When the World War I started in 1914 the majority of the male population was mobilized and women and children were left alone to do the land. Crises was getting bigger and bigger and by the end of 1918 Austro-Hungarian monarchy started to disintegrate. In the new founded State of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes Ladimirevci lost its status of a commune which was again obtained as late as January 1, 1927, when the first elections for 12 members of the commune committee were held. Commune committee’s building was finished in August 1927. In 1931 the first signs of the World’s big economic crises became evident in Ladimirevci and the situation got even worse in 1932 when 90% pigs died of a pig plague and almost all wheat crops were destroyed by rust. In 1937 the branch of Croatian Peasant’s Party was founded in Ladimirevci. It the same year an illegal cell of the Croatian Communist Party was established in the village, since its political activity was strictly forbidden in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Radical party, which supported the policy of the King and the one of the Belgrade government, existed in the village since 1941. In spring 1941 all men were mobilized to fight in War the Yugoslav Army’s side but they soon fell apart and they surrendered to the Germany. On April 10, 1941 Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed. That was a satellite-state of Fascist-Ustasha government under patronage of Germany and Italy with dr. Ante Pavelić on head. Those events reflected also in Ladimirevci where NDH (Independent State of Croatia) leadership was introduced. The Germans from the village founded their own organization named “Kulturbund”, opened a German library and even masses were served in German. In 1942 Ustasha-German authorities started exercising tyranny over the helpless domestic people. As a consequence, some Jewish and gipsy families were taken to the prisoner’s camps or at least they were bereaved their property. During 1943 around 40 people from the village of Ladimirevci joined the Partisans. On April 14, 1945 the Partisan troops finally entered the village killing many members of the NDH troops or forcing them to labour in the prisoner’s camps. During the World War II nine inhabitants of Ladimirevci died as members of the Partisans and 27 of them belonged to the NDH troops. As German Army began to withdraw towards the west many inhabitants of Ladimirevci who were of German origin decided to go with them. The ones who stayed were eventually taken to improvised prisons on the Valpovo fair area. Their possessions were taken away from them and they were mostly expatriated to Germany. After taking control over the village the Partisans brought in labour commitment on all public agricultural goods, which was valid for all work capable people until 1947. The elections for the local National Committee were held in May 1947. In that same year a law on maximal possessions was issued. According to the law people who had more than 30 acres of land had to give up their goods. In December 1947 Villager’s Working Society was founded in Ladimirevci and only 13 families joined it. Since peasants avoided joining this organization, the communist government often used force and blackmail to make the peasants do so. Peasant’s working society built a mutual co-worker’s stall in 1949, and in 1950 the rest of the economic buildings such as objects for keeping pigs, corps, brandy production etc. Buying out of agricultural goods was often done at very low prices and the State soon realized that that was an easy way of ruining national economy. For that reason those societies were abrogated in 1953. Since then real economical progress became evident in Ladimirevci. In January 1963 the village was supplied with electric power and during the next few years many inhabitants help in building out the infrastructure. They build paved roads, sidewalks, flood-protection systems and some buildings for public good such as: clubhouse, fire station, cinema, mortuary, school etc. Until 1991 Ladimirevci was one of the best organized and developed villages in Valpovština. In 1990 Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began falling apart. In May 1991 a Referendum for separation of Republic Croatia from SFRY was held and 98% of Ladimirevci inhabitants supported that idea like the rest of the Croats. Based on the referendum results Croatian National Council brought a decision for official separation from the then state and declared The Republic of Croatia an independent state. As a result, Serbian rebels from some parts of Croatia announced autonomy over the territory where they were majority. Members of the Yugoslav National Army (which turned out to be Proserbian army) and some other paramilitary forces started aggression on the young democratic Republic of Croatia and the eastern part of the Republic of Croatia was the first to endure those strikes of the aggression. The war lasted till 1995 and it was known as “Homeland War”. In 1991 the Ministry of Defence ordered formation of the Unit for national protection and a hundred inhabitants of Ladimirevci joined it right away. In autumn 1991 about 50 people voluntarily joined a real army unit called “Brigade 107” which had its headquarters in the nearby town Valpovo. During the Homeland War Ladimirevci was attacked three times whereby only material damage was made. New school was opened in September 1992 in presence of political and church authorities. In summer 1995 the Croatian Army started an action called “The Storm” and through quick and sudden breakthroughs they managed to win back the occupied territory together with Knin which was the centre of the Serbian paramilitary state. After some time through peaceful reintegration the territory of Osijek-Baranja County was entirely incorporated in the Republic of Croatia.

On May 27, 1997 Ladimirevci became a home of the SOS Children’s village which is founded and financed by an international humanitarian organization SOS-Kinderdorf International, Imst (Austria). SOS Children’s villages are settlements (family hoses and other buildings) which are being opened in the whole world and they enable parentless children to be raised in family-like-conditions.

During the past few years, private initiative, which was not desirable in the former political system, was becoming more evident and thanks to it several private companies were opened in the village. Today, our village needs foreign investments and founding of the new companies in which people from the village could find employment. This village has everything to make one’s investment successful: attractive and pleasant environment and what is most important educated and hard-working young people which certainly deserve a better future.




Suveniri Vranjković
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