- Created on Monday, 24 October 2016 00:00
An institute was opened in October of last year in the Hungarian village of Serdahel (Tótszerdahely) that was the home and workplace of writer, culture professional, pedagogical writer and collector of oral traditions of the Mura River region Croats Stipan Blažetin/Blazsetin István. The Stipan Blažetin Institute of Croatian Culture and Education is the first of three institutions that the Croatian Minority Self-Government plans to open with the objective of intensifying work on the preservation of the Croatian language, customs and culture in the face of the growing assimilation of the Croatian ethnic minority in Hungary. Blažetin spent forty years working among the Mura River region Croatians in the fields of social, cultural and sports activity and dedicated his entire life to improving their status in Hungary. This institute is the best possible way the Croatian community in this neighbouring country can repay their debt to him.
Writer Đuro Vidmarović writes about Blažetin succinctly, informedly and with great respect: "Blažetin was a Hungarian patriot, meaning that he accepted the legitimacy and legality of all the laws and regulations adopted by the Hungarian government, including its policies towards ethnic groups. Secondly, Stipan Blažetin, although serving as a school principal and inspector, did not abandon his Croatian roots, he did not retreat into a spurious South Slavic identity, he remained a conscious member of the Croatian ethnic minority. Thirdly, Blažetin wrote in the Standard Croatian Language, drawing on the local dialect of the Mura River region Croats and on that of the Šokac Croats of Santovo. This was, at the time, a very courageous stance and it served as a model, unfortunately, to few. Fourthly, as a pedagogical writer Blažetin based his work on modern pedagogical principles. Fifthly, as a writer Blažetin kept abreast of the Croatian literary scene, freeing himself of the traditional declamatory poetic discourse, but not from poetry coloured by party ideology. Sixthly, Stipan Blažetin was a pleasant person in private company and a good parent, evidence by the fact that his son Stjepan has followed in his footsteps and is emerging presently as a poetic heir to his father." (www.hkv.hr)
This year the Stipan Blažetin Institute of Croatian Culture and Education, the Stipan Blažetin Croatian Minority Self-Government in Serdahel and Katarina Zrinski Elementary School, with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources and of the Federation of Croatians in Hungary, prepared a two-day event – the 2016 Mura River Region Autumn Days of Literature. An exhibition opened on the 27th of October at the Fedak Manor on the life of Stipan Blažetin on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of his birth, including a quiz for pupils titled Who Was Stipan Blažetin. On the 28th of October Katarina Zrinski Elementary School hosted the screening of a short film produced by an international film workshop, followed by the celebration of the anniversary. This was followed by the announcement of the results of the Bodoljaši competition and quiz, the presentation of commendations and the laying of a wreath at the Blažetin grave. Stjepan Prosenjak, the principal of the music school in Letinja (Letenye), spoke at the civic centre in Serdahel about Dr Vinko Žganac, a collector of Mura River region folk songs. The Popevka našega kraja (Songs of Our Region) culture programme featured performances by children from Serdahel and choirs from ethnic Croatian settlements.
This shows again that the legacy of Stipan Blažetin lives on among the local Croatian communities and is passed on to younger generations. We hope this will remain the case in the future – if, of course, there are new diligent culture enthusiasts the likes of Stipan Blažetin.
Text by: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek