WHY WE CHOSE TO RESTORE IVAN KOZARAC'S BIRTH HOUSE?

It is sometimes hard to find a reason or a motif behind one’s action or decision. One may not be fully aware of something that exists in one’s being, and then, suddenly, that something completely encapsulates one’s mind and forces one to make unique decisions.

 

This process is something my husband and I experienced when we decided to buy Ivan Kozarac’s birth house.

 

I grew up along the right, lowland bank of the river Bosut and my husband grew up in a village nearby. Water and nature were the driving forces that made us decide on where we want to build our home. The possibility of purchasing the birth home of Ivan Kozarac appeared for us and we decided to cease it.

 Ivan Kozarac house before restoration 

We fell instantly in love with the house on the left bank of the river Bosut, in the Krnjaš borough, a tranquil place surrounded by trees and greenery. The 2000 square meters property was ideal for us. However, we were aware that our family home must not be built at the expense of Kozarac’s old home and that its proximity demanded certain architectural and landscaping choices and styles regarding our own home.

 

We were very pleased to be able to both build our own dream family home and renovate Ivan Kozarac’s birth home. We were aware of the expenses that came with our decision, however, being brought up to love our country and its cultural heritage, we knew our decision was right. In addition to that, being able to give something back to our Vinkovci community and our Croatian people gave us strength and perseverance during the project’s realization.

 

We were fully aware that the renovation of the Ivan Kozarac birth home was our task and our task alone and that the financial or any other kind of help was not to be expected. 

 

Being both aware of the situation and being brought up by hard working, devoted and religious people who always instructed their children to respect the others, but to always remember to have a special appreciation for one’s heritage, we decided to take the matter into our own hands. It was clear that the house has to be brought down since it was completely frazzled and destroyed by damp. The new house was to be built using the same measurements and making it look just like the original.

My husband and I are the type of people who keep their promises. Since we are not experts in the field of restauration and construction, we asked our prominent local experts to help us refurbish this valuable cultural heritage. Having consulted the experts, we decided to rebuild the house in 1910’s style, the time of Ivan Kozarac.

 

The construction work was prolonged due to several archeological discoveries, but we took pride in the fact that we have the possibility to share this special locale and all of its wonders with both ours and all the future generations.  

 

My husband and I hope that we can lead by example when it comes to people of means who can help in preserving the cultural heritage. Why wait for other people or the state to do something when you can take action yourself?

 

I would personally like to preserve Krnjaš in its original form and help restore other valuable cultural gems in greater Vinkovci area to show the wealth of our heritage to us, our country men and the tourists visiting from faraway places.

Katarina Stanić

IVAN KOZARAC'S BIRTH HOUSE GRAND OPENING

This article was published in Vinkovački list, page 6, September 19th, 2014.

When Bosiljko and Katarina Stanić decided to buy a property containing Ivan Kozarac’s birth house, they were aware of the arduous task that lay ahead. The plot in Josip Kozarac street number 38 contained the great poet and writer’s old house, which was protected under special laws. The Stanić family was informed they would have to finance the restoration on their own. After building their own family home in the back yard of the property, Stanićs decided to tackle with the restoration. Due to damp and frazzle, but also numerous modifications made by the previous owners, the house had to be brought down and the new one, the exact replica of the 1910’s home of the great Ivan Kozarac, was to be built instead. The house was to be turned into a memorial home.


The real outline of the house was visible once the construction work brought the house down to its foundations. The Conservatory department of the Cultural Heritage Protection section in Vukovar inspected the house and gave clearance to the Stanić family to build the house according to old blueprints but also to have a Plexiglas floor instead of the usual wooden one in order for the visitors to be able to see the entire archeological exhibition found while renovating the house.

 

The renovation of both building and the landscape surrounding it was done with the help of experts from several city’s cultural institutions such as: Vinkovci City Museum, Library of Vinkovci, Joza Ivakić City Theatre, City of Vinkovci Tourist Board and CASA center Vinkovci.

 Greeting guests 

 Greeting guests 

 Ivica Mandić, Ministry of Culture representative and MP 

Archeological excavation found Stone Age burial grounds, dating from 5700 BC but also 19th century traces of life. The façade was restored to its 1911 style with a help of a postcard. The original memorial plaque revealed in 1920 which decorated the façade was moved to the exhibition area and a copy of the plaque was made to replace the original one on the façade. The interior of the house is true to the time in which Ivan Kozarac lived, with just a few digital devices. The porch, garden, flower beds and the well were also restored to its original style. The boards, containing information about 19th century Vinkovci and the story of Krnjaš, its importance, its life and its writers were erected next to the restored well.


The restauration work began in April 2014 and was finished on September 11th 2014. The grand opening with its accompanying events was also held on September 11th 2014. The beautiful cobbled atrium of the Stanić family house served as a venue where Ivica Mandić, the Ministry of Culture representative and MP welcomed hosts and their guests by citing the “The pride of Croatian people” inscription carved onto the house’s façade, the very house built to serve as the monument of pride for both Vinkovci and Slavonia and to show what a single successful entrepreneur can achieve to preserve the heritage of his hometown.

 Zdravko Kelić, Vukovarsko-srijemska County Deputy 

Mandić’s speech was followed by County Deputy Zdravko Kelić speech and prof. dr. sc. Stipe Botica, President of the 6th Annual Croatian Slavic Congress organizational board speech. The 6th Annual Croatian Slavic Congress took part in the week preceding the opening. Vladimir Andrić, a member of the Joza Ivakić City Theatre group, was the organizer and the moderator of the accompanying events. Several Vinkovci’s actors including Selena Andrić, Martina Stjepanović, Ivan Čačić, Tomislav Bundić and Zorko Bagić took part in the grand opening events by reading several poems and quotes by and about Ivan Kozarac. Ivan Kozarac’s most famous poem “Milovo sam garave i plave” adapted by Ivo Tijardović was performed by tamburitza band “Dike”.


The poem reading was followed by the official house opening ceremony, which lasted for 25 minutes, representing the short 25 years of the great poet’s life. Following the recital of the “Garavuša” poem performed by young actress Martina Stjepanović, Bosiljko Stanić, the host, founder and CEO of “Boso”, gave his speech, saying how he and his wife regarded the restoration of the Ivan Kozarac house as their civil and patriotic duty. He thanked the employees of all of Vinkovci’s cultural institutions, the Birth House of Ivan Kozarac Restauration and Opening board, the City of Vinkovci and also everyone attending the opening ceremony and thus giving another layer of importance to the event. He gave special thanks to Vinkovci’s major Mladen Karlić, MD, writer Miroslav Slavko Mađer and the dean of the Vinkovci’s deanery Stjepan Krekman.

Prof. dr. sc. Stipe Botica, President of the 6th Annual Croatian Slavic Congress organizational board

Vladimir Andrić as Đuka Begović

Tamburitza band “Dike” - Guests at the ceremony

In his speech, Major Mladen Karlić emphasized the importance people of Vinkovci put on the life and the work of Ivan Kozarac by showing up to the ceremony in such a great number. He also thanked the Stanić family for everything they have done to make the house such a monument to cultural heritage. The great Croatian poet and writer Miroslav Slavko Mađer also addressed the audience. He talked about the importance the Krnjaš borough carries for him and the importance of the house and its famous resident, Ivan Kozarac, author of unforgettable stories and poems such as “Slavonska krv” and the father of Đuka Begović novel which explores the Slavonian condition.

Mađer referred to this restored house as a future cultural temple and the long-lasting monument to the city on the river Bosut.

 

Mađer also referred to Zlatko Tomičić and Dubravko Horvatić, authors of works concerning Krnjaš and former Roman Colonia Aurelia Cibalae, modern Vinkovci, who share the opinion on the importance of Vinkovci as a city of culture and the newly restored Ivan Kozarac memorial home. Lastly he thanked the city’s government, institutions and associations for all their help and support and gave special thankyou to the Stanić family for all their hard work on restoring the Ivan Kozarac birth house, the pride of Vinkovci and whole of Croatia.

 

Following the religious ceremony, dr. sc. Anica Bilić, manager of the CASA Vinkovci Scientific center, led the tours of the memorial home for the guest groups.

 

A booklet containing a prologue written by Katarina Stanić explaining the motifs behind the house restoration was published specially for the opening ceremony. The booklet also contained the presentation of the archeological excavation found beneath the house written by curator Maja Krznarić Škrivanko, Kozaracs’ origin text written by Tihomir Marojević and several other texts written by mr.sc. Zlatko Virc who also served as the booklet’s editor.

Antun Smajić

Home owner Bosiljko Stanić and actors lead guests to the Ivan Kozarac’s birth house

MIROSLAV SLAVKO MAĐER'S SPEECH

Dear guests, fellow Vinkovci citizens, dear Krnjaš and Kozarac street neighbors,

 

It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to this special occasion. I would like to start my speech by saying that I was given an honorable and patriotic duty to speak to you as a writer from Vinkovci who spent most of his life in this Krnjaš borough, where great Slavonian writers were born and raised. One of those writers is our very own Ivan Kozarac, the author of , the most important novel exploring Slavonian condition.

 

This Krnjaš monument will hopefully remain a permanent memorial to the city on the river Bosut, which was mentioned in poetic works by both Zlatko Tomičić and Dubravko Horvatić. They knew that the ancient , this pre-historic Roman points to the oldest city in Europe, but also to the culture in general.

 

And, now and forever, this fiery Đuka Begović lives among us once again. He walks through our streets, this Bosut’s Krnjaš, among his Slavonian people, their fields and forests…His and ours Vinkovci, the ancient Meraja, lead us through history as a city which knows how to live for culture, art and science – thus making this memorial home a permanent marker of the dedication city’s government, institutions and associations show to preserving key cultural locations.

KAuthor Miroslav Slavko Mađer

Dear friends of the literary Bosut, let’s open the gate of this, may I say, historical monument and let us thanks Mr. and Mrs Bosiljko Stanić for their dedication, hard work and above, all their loyalty to the culture and the arts which made them restore the house of this famous author, whose importance did not disappear throughout the years. This Krnjaš author produced a great work – his novel . We will not and cannot forget the words uttered by A. G. Matoš saying that Ivan Kozarac was: “beautiful as a Slavonian lady sick as Slavonia itself and with him died the best author of the future.” Acclaimed poet and critic Matoš’s ingenious observation about Kozarac being the author of the future is nothing short of prophetic vision based on the enormous talent Kozarac possessed. The great Miroslav Krleža himself stated that: “nobody wrote as beautifully as corporal Kozarac.” The “nobody” part is the greatest accolade to the one who was born to become the greatest.

 

These precious words of the unequalled Krleža and Matoš resonates with special importance in this place, in front of the sacred doors of book and ancient graves. Here, with deep respect, but also great wish that from this day on we permanently continue to make this house the meeting point and the sacred ground of all of Vinkovci’s prominent authors and to make this park filled with their busts, portraits, memorial plaques but also to pay homage to all archeologists, musicians, curators, painters and sculptors, all the living and the dead aficionados of creation and all honorable citizens of Vinkovci, all of us, regardless of our differences in the approach to the poet in this city on the river Bosut, let’s join our forces to benefit our city which always held the cultural banners high proving that the size of the city does not define its importance.

 

Lastly, my dear guests, allow me as one of the oldest Vinkovci’s authors to open the gates to this new/old house and home of the ever living Ivan Kozarac…come, esteemed guests – your Ivan Kozarc is awaiting.

 

                                                                                                                                                                              Miroslav S. Mađer

Host Bosiljko Stanić

Interior of the house and guests

Mayor dr. Mladen Karlić

THE GRAND OPENING OF THE BIRTH HOUSE OF IVAN KOZARAC

Ivan Kozarac’s birth house project,

wholly funded by the Stanić family,

is a good example of valorization and preservation

of Croatian cultural heritage

RSeptember in Vinkovci and Slavonia always means one thing - Vinkovačke jeseni – celebration of ethnological, ethnographical and cultural heritage. In addition to that, this September also brought the 6th Annual Croatian Slavic Congress held both in Vinkovci and Vukovar. Such an important event brought together many scholars concerned with Slavistics and Croatian studies. These important guests were able to witness an equally important cultural and literary event – the grand opening of Ivan Kozarac’s birth house. Kozarac was a genius poet and a modernist writer who, unfortunately, died very young.

Dr.sc. Anica Bilić presents the exhibition to the esteemed guests

Ivan’s life and appearance were a real life’s representation of his sickly, modernist characters but also a striking difference to his most famous protagonist – joie de vivre enthusiast, alcoholic, lover of life and all of its pleasures – bećar Šokac the hero of Đuka Begović.

 

Born on February 8th, 1885 in Josip Kozarac street number 37 (today 38), Ivan Kozarac left school early due to bad grades. “My sophomore year in high school was the time I decided to take advanced German, Latin, Croatian and Religious Education classes. However, shortly after, my father died and I decided to leave high school. (…) I wanted to breathe the fresh air, I wanted the freedom, the field work, the village.” Nearly impossible by today’s standards, the thirteen year old boy left school and became notary intern with the Vinkovci County Court.

Kozarac’s early puberty was not constricted by youth care centers and guardians who would look after him and restore him to the path of social development, as is the case with young adolescents today.

 

The cruelty of life, sickness and poor living conditions give one strength to carry on and finish one’s work. Ivan found his calling in writing. Due to his illness, Ivan lived both in Vinkovci and Zagreb. During the period from 1907 until 1909 he is working as a corporal in Karlovac where he starts to write his novel Đuka Begović.

After being released from the army due to his illness, Kozarac urges his colleague, fellow author and editor of Ilustrovani obzor Vladimir Linaček to: “find me a permanent position within the Obzor (morning edition), I am willing to work very hard for my pay.”

 

Those were the days that produced Ivan’s photography we usually see: a young man in a uniform, with styled moustache. This portrait is probably the one Matoš was referring to when he sad that Kozarac was: “beautiful as a Slavonian lady snaša, sick as Slavonia itself and with him died the best author of the future.” Ivan spend his last days in 1910 working as a manager with the Croatian Writers and Directors Association publishing company. He frequented Brestovac sanatorium near Sljeme but neither the sanatorium nor his doctor and fellow writer Milivoj Dežman could save Ivan’s life.

 

He died in poverty in Vinkovci when he was just 25 years old. He spent his final days in Krnjaš, the borough of his famous neighbor writer Joza Ivakić and his long deceased uncle Josip Kozarac.

 

In May 1910, Ivakić wrote to Branko Vodnik: “Ivan Kozarac is going through a rough patch. He is increasingly ill, and his family cannot afford anything. (…) If you can, please urge “Matica” or “Društvo” to send him a welfare cheque of around 200 krunas as soon as possible. If he dies, the money will be used for his burial.” Kozarac was buried in Vinkovci Mary Magdalene cemetery on November 18th at 15:30. Ivakić held the eulogy filled with poetic sentences and Slavonian cathartic words: “Patriot, good comrade and friend, adieu! (…) Here, on this cemetery, near Nevkoš and Krnjaš, near plum orchards, meadows and gardens, the ones you wrote about so much. (…) here, the resting place of Reljković and Josip Kozarac. Here, in your hometown, sleep thy eternal sleep (…).”

 

People leave their work and houses behind. A well-known fact is that the spaces we lived in and the works we did tell a story about who we are. Participants of the 6th Annual Croatian Slavic Congress, other guests and fellow Vinkovci residents were privileged to be a part of the grand opening of this house on September 11th, 2014.

 

Vinkovci’s famous modernist writer finally got his new/old restored home! Old, re-built house, with two front view windows and backyard porch is an exact replica of the old Kozarac house in the Josip Kozarac street, number 37, near Krnjaš, Ervenica and Bosut, the now preserved zone. The story of restoration of this writer’s house is the story of modern Croatian reality in which the individual is forced to fight one’s way through numerous conservation laws.

 

Krnjaš borough was formed during the 18th century and was mostly populated by farmers. Old 19th century postcards from Vinkovci show the old wooden bridge and the borough that still remains unchanged. Pannonian houses with backyard porches.

 

The Stanić family, who bought the Kozarac house, gave the writer a new life and allowed the visitors to take a glimpse into the past. Kozarac-Stanić project is a good example of valorization and preservation of Croatian cultural heritage. The investors spoke to the Conservatory department of the Cultural Heritage Protection section in Vukovar to gain permission to build the new house and convert the old building into a museum. All project and conservatory documentation, detail archeological reports concerning pre-historical and Roman settlements, archeological presentation of the findings that can be seen through Plexiglas floor, interior design, landscape design – everything was financed by the Stanić family!

 

They did not receive any financial help from the EU funds (nor did they ask for it), designed to stimulate cohesion policy of various projects under structural funds which are accessible to all EU countries, including Croatia. For example, one of the priority areas of the ERDF is sustainable urban development concerning the investment and development of infrastructure (such as environment preservation – Kozarac garden and horticulture and investment in touristic and educational infrastructure).

 

Good examples of EDRF’s investments showed and will continue to show all of its benefits, from new employment opportunities to cultural heritage preservation, and when it comes to Vinkovci, the investments can brand the city as a desirable tourist destination. Kozarac house is a revival of this writer’s creative profile, channeled through period pieces and a little library aiming at preserving, presenting and celebrating this famous writer inside his own house. This is the reason why this space is very suitable for various educational activities.

 

The moment the archeological excavation started (and we all know they are very expensive), the Kozarac-Stanić project actively participated in restoration and discovery of both pre-historic Krnjaš settlement and the remains of Roman city named Colonia Aurelia Cibalae. The skeleton replicas in former graves that can be seen beneath the Kozarac house’s Plexiglas floor bear witness to Starčevac culture dated from 5730 BC to 5638 BC. Graves now contain dummies, which is a clear, but also morose form of presentation since the Kozarac house is home to many pre-historic graves.

 

The great poet, Miroslav Mađer, although born in Hrtkovci, said, during the grand opening, that: “I would like to start my speech by saying that I was given an honorable and patriotic duty to speak to you as a writer from Vinkovci who spent most of his life in this Krnjaš borough, where great Slavonian writers were born and raised. One of those writers is our very own Ivan Kozarac…” He especially thanked Mr. and Mrs Bosiljko Stanić for the selfless role they played in financing and preserving cultural heritage, which they did not inherit as relatives, but they were aware that they will give this heritage to future generation that will frequent this house.

 

“This Krnjaš monument will hopefully remain a permanent memorial to the city on the river Bosut… And, now and forever, this fiery Đuka Begović lives among us once again. He walks through our streets, this Bosut’s Krnjaš, among his Slavonian people, their fields and forests…His and ours Vinkovci, the ancient Meraja, lead us through history as a city which knows how to live for culture, art and science – thus making this memorial home a permanent marker…”

 

Eight years have passed since 2006, when the first draft of the restoration plan was accepted, and this day, September 11th 2014. Various experts were given a chance to be a part of this construction, conservation and restoration project. The whole project, worth whooping 160 000 euros was wholly financed by the Stanić family. City of Vinkovci, Ministry of Culture and Vukovarsko-srijemska county did not financially participated in the project. The Stanić family never asked for any kind of financial assistance.

 

The grand gesture that the Stanić family showed is an exception in modern Croatian culture. We are talking about parvis componere magna project! If we choose to compare great things with little things, this project can be used as a good example, and not an exception that testifies of the importance of managing cultural heritage. We have the opportunity to give our people the opportunity to enjoy our mutual treasures.

 

 

Dubravka Brezak-Stamać

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to say thank you to everybody who supported us and thus helped us accomplish this restauration.

 

We would like to thank the Vinkovci City Museum, Vinkovci Library, CASA Centre Vinkovci, Joza Ivakić City Theatre and the Tourist Department of the Vinkovci Tourist Board.

 

We would also like to give a special thanks to the Birth House of Ivan Kozarac Restauration and Opening board: Major Mladen Karlić, MD, manager of the City of Vinkovci Culture and Tourism Department dr.sc. Marijo Banožić, Vinkovci City Museum director Danijel Petković, archeologist Maja Krznarić Škrivanko, ethnologist mr.sc. Ljubica Gligorević, sculptor Dejan Duraković (designer of archeological presentation, exhibition and posters), Library of Vinkovci director Emilija Pezer, CASA Center Vinkovci manager dr.sc. Anica Bilić, Vinkovci Tourist Board CEO Martina Matković, BA, Joza Ivakić City Theatre manager Zdenko Rečić, BA and the president of “Hrvatski sokol” Association Vinkovci mr.sc. Zlatko Virc.

 

We would also like to thank our other colleagues: mr.sc. Mandica Sanković (at the time of the documentation procurement she was the Urban Development, Construction and Environment Protection of the City of Vinkovci Board manager), Tihomir Marojević, Tomislav Šalić, Šima Dominković, Ljubica Ambrinac-Rajs, Marija Sokola, Ksenija Petričić, Andrija Čavar, Marija Delić (Andrijaševci), Marija Bratoš (Komletinci), Janja Kulovnjak (Rokovci) and Branko Šimetić (Ivankovo).

 

We would like to offer our special thank you to our employees for all of their hard work: Tomislava Skender, Ivan Balžević Ivica Ćosić and Zlatko Majtan.

 

Katarina and Bosiljko Stanić