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Nikica Slavić, humanist

Nikica Slavić was a Croatian journalist and humanist, a philanthropist who was remarkable for his endeavours pertaining to human rights and better life. He was born on 26th February 1914 in a Knin merchant family. He attended primary and secondary school in Knin and Šibenik till 1929.

After that he attended and finished Merchant Academy in Novi Sad and the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb. He established and led the Folk University in Knin in 1941, and during that time he participated in numerous socio-philosophical intellectual discussions. Immediately before the World War Two he established People’s University and joined the National Youth Movement. Already as a young man he showed social consciousness, recognising the suffering of the poor and the deprived.

He joined the Anti-Fascist Movement in 1941 as an idealist believing in peaceful change of the world. He refused to carry weapons throughout the war and however incredible it may seem he managed to survive numerous dangers and war perils. After the war he moved to Zagreb and took a job in the Ministry of Education as a deputy minister and head of department for literature and film. He openly expressed his thoughts on the priorities for the advancement of the country and society. He believed that the country should be run by scientists and professionals and not by war generals and uneducated workers.

Because of his open criticism of the government and refusal of commemorative medal he was blacklisted by the regime at that time. On 11th April 1949 all his books were confiscated and he was arrested and taken to Goli otok (island where a political prison was situated in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) where he remained till 1952. As a true philosopher, he did not give up his ideals and aspirations and endured all tortures so other prisoners used to call him Gandhi.

He nearly died while he was on hunger strike and in 1952 he was transferred under strict surveillance of the secret service to Dr Josip Kajfeš prison hospital for treatment and rehabilitation. After his release he could not get any work till 1957 because, allegedly, the people did not want him. After the intervention of the Croatian Writers’ Society, namely M. Krleža, G. Novak and others, he was employed as a journalist for the area of Croatia and Slovenia.

He retired at his own request in 1967, and till then he had written numerous contributions in the fields of culture, economy, tourism, etc. He died in Zagreb on 31st December 2001. The town of Knin pays him tribute by setting up a memory corner in the Knin Museum. He is remembered by numerous intellectuals. One of the proofs is the book by Ludwig Bauer Records and Times of Nikica Slavić promoted at Zagreb Fest in 2007. The majority of his journalist works were not published but are kept as manuscripts in the State Archives in Zadar.

The life and principles of such individuals should be an example to the future generations. Freedom of thought and action is the basic human right that must not be limited by any means of repression. A man must be guided by the highest principles and the idea of good and Nikica Slavić testified with his whole being that the idea of good cannot be defeated.