22 / 2005
Irena Gantar Godina


The article gives a survey of life and work of three Slovenian intellectuals-emigrants, Luka Zima, Lovro Mahnič and Franjo Marn, who were, as were many Slovenians, deeply impressed by the announced results of the all-Slavic Congress in Prague in 1848. Therefore they decided not to study in the German environement since it proved to be unfavourable for the preservation of Slovenian national identity. Thus they decided to study in Slavic Prague. The Charles University was up to 1882 only a German University, but living in Prague they could have experienced Slavic milieu and Slavic atmosphere. After 1860 they could have witnessed the Czech cultural and political activities which even intensified their South-Slavic sentiments. Also for these reasons they decided to work as grammar teachers in »Illyrian« Croatia where they spent all their lives.

The discussed emigrant intellectuals had few things in common: they all were philologists, but it was only Lovro Mahnič who was fully occupied with Slavic languages, while Zima and Marn worked with classical philology. They all had great pedagogical abilities, at the time acknowledged also by the Croatian society. The most distinctive was their devotion to South-Slavic idea. They all decided to leave for Croatia voluntarily, as they expected more Slavic, more motivating milieu. After 1860 the then Croatian society was permeated with enthusiasm for »Croatisation« in all the spheres of life, particularly education, expressing national and political demands. Consequently, many Slovenian gymnasium professors who the Croats found overly loyal to the authorities, wished to and in fact left Croatia. In such, rather demanding atmosphere Franjo Marn and Luka Zima successfully and rapidly adapted by entirely devoting themselves to school and scholar work. They became honoured and loyal members of Croatian society. In the memory of Croats they both remained an example of »the good Slovenians«. Lovro Mahnič was different: he rejected to conceal his political convictions and activities and his way of life as well; in general, he was not able to adjust to the demands of any of the then society, not only Croatian. Nevertheless, August Šenoa’s novel “Prijan Lovro”, is a monument in remembrance of his short life.
As permanent displaced persons, Zima, Marn and Mahnič, being both, Slovenians and South-Slavs, successfully helmed between the demands of the Croatian nationalism and their commitment to preserve their national identity.