Strange findings in closets and attics


Texte by Vesna Miholić

The challenging time connected to the pandemic of virus Covid 19 has changed the course of everyday life for the people all around the world. Being on a lock-down at our homes, especially now, with the beginning of spring, we, the tourist guides, are feeling it strongly.

We had to accept a new “normal“ and instead of uncovering the secrets of Zagreb‘s streets to our foreign visitors we had to adapt and venture into discovering the secrets of our home’s nooks and crannies that were somewhat neglected for too long. At least, that is what I have done. So, with great joy I share my findings.

This beautiful uniform set, that was patiently waiting in the back of my closet, is a part of my family’s inheritance passed down to me from my great-great aunt Barbara. She and her husband Franjo were the upstanding citizen of city of Zagreb, and together they witnessed the turbulent era of Mid 1900’s. Two World Wars and the financial crises didn’t crush their spirits. At the beginnings of 1920s, Franjo, as an ex-solder joined The Humanitarian society “Ban Jelačić” founded in 1886 and kept the membership until 1948 when all the activities were stopped. They were promoting the philanthropic agenda and provided for the financial aid to their members during the time of illness and support to the widows and the children after the member’s passing away. As a Society they were entitled to participate to the official city events, anniversaries, and the religious processions. During these „outings “, they had the right to wear the official uniform that consisted of the blue trousers and the blue-gray jacket. My great-great uncle Franjo was at one point the President of the Society and his uniform was decorated with the golden epaulets and trims. Over the jacket a red cape was worn with the golden braids. The uniform was completed with the sabre. The sabre was considered only an honorary weapon and it was strictly forbidden taking it out of its sheath.

Blissfully unaware of this rule, that sabre was a faithful companion  to my brother’s and mine childhood plays, but even if the whole set had been a part of our life since we could remember we always knew that it was an item worthy of respect. And we were right.

The Uniform’s design introduced in 1933 was inspired by the historic uniform of the Governor and general Josip Jelačić and one of the most respected Croatian political figures of the 19th century whose equestrian sculpture today dominates Zagreb’s main square.

Having served in the military the members of the Society wore their uniforms proudly supported by the official Society flag as seen in the image taken during a procession in the center of Zagreb in 1934.

They had all the right to be proud because not only they assured the security of their families, but they were, at the same time, Zagreb’s first responders in case of the major natural disasters.

My uncle’s lavishly decorated uniform is maybe tucked safely in the closet but the willingness to give a helping hand to your fellow man in times of need is a value and a tradition still very much alive today, proven these days in the city of Zagreb which is healing after destructive March 22nd earthquake.

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