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 »  Home  »  People  »  Croatians in America - photo collection by Vladimir Novak, part 1
 »  Home  »  History  »  Croatians in America - photo collection by Vladimir Novak, part 1
Croatians in America - photo collection by Vladimir Novak, part 1
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  01/7/2008 | People , History | Unrated
Croatian Energy, page 1

Vladimir Novak

America is today the most important factor in creating Croatian democracy - the best school for Croatian Energy.

Antun Gustav Matoš (1873-1914)
Croatian poet, writer, and journalist

Vladimir Novak with Alma Franulović Plančić in Croatian national costume

Vladimir Novak was born in 1928 in Varaždin, Croatia. At the age of 14 he joined the Military Academy "Zastavnička škola", which was the most elite military unit during the Independent State of Croatia. He graduated from Real Gymnasium in Varaždin and in 1948 he studied the History of Arts at the University of Zagreb and later at the Motion Picture Academy in Belgrade.

He left Yugoslavia in 1959 as a political refugee and lived three years in Belgium. He arrived in the U.S.A. in 1962 and received his citizenship five years later. While living in Los Angeles he organized the Croatian Radio Program in 1963 (it is still on air), produced the very first Croatian flag with the printed chekered emblem, and organized the first and only rasing of the Croatian flag at the Los Angeles City Hall.

During the Entire 36 years of his life in the exile, he had been very active in Croatian and American politics and received many special commendation awards and honours.

He has been self-employed in commercial photography and advertising and he won several top awards for his work. His credits include photographs of some noted personalities, such as the United States President Ronald Reagan, general Omar Bradley, admiral dr. Uslyssess Sharp Grant IV., hotel-magnate Conrad Hilton, famous singer John Elton, and many others including motion picture stars. However, he was mostly involved in promoting the Croatian cause.

Since 1970 Vladimir Novak also collected and restored over 4000 valuable photographs dealing with Croatian immigration in America. Fortunately, he was able to bring them to Croatia in early 1994, when he retired and returned to his homeland.

Above Josip Turkalj's studio on the campus of Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He taught here fine arts and sculpture for many years after moving here from Notre Dame University where he was assitant to famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.

Moses, Notre Dame, Indiana, by Josip Turkalj

Above Turkalj's 18 feet bronze statue of Moses in front of the Notre Dame Library in South Bend, Indiana (1963).

Josip Turkalj was born in Rakovica, Croatia in 1924. He finished his studies in Yagreb and Academz delle Belle Arte in Rome. He came to America in 1957 and had impressive exhibitions throughout United States, and many of works of art are in public and private collections also in Canada, Italy, Croatia and Argentina.

Josip Turkalj died in 2007 at his home in Cleveland Heights at the  age of 82.

Vladimir Novak with Josip Turkalj (Joseph Turkaly) in his studio in Cleveland,1971

Above The Croatian Liberty Home Inc., in the Collinwood (Cleveland). It was built and managed by the C.F.U. Lodge 235 and it was a center for Croatian activities from 1950 to early 1980's when work on the new Home began in Eastlake.

Above Scene from Graničari (The Frontiersmen) performed in 1931 by members of the drama group Abrašević.

The drama society was founded in 1921 and was active until 1961. Its director was Joe Kovačević.

Above Anton Cetin, artist from Toronto, and Vladimir Novak in Idaho.

Above Vladimir Novak with Josip Crnobori (1907-2005, on the left), Croatian painter in New York, and his wife. Photo taken in Zagreb.

October 15th, 1950: Grand opening of the Croatian Home at 4033 main Street in East Chicago, Ind., built by a group of Croatians of Harbor area, where there are the still mills. In the center (in white suit) is Frank Migas, mayor of East Chicago, on his left is John Vukovic and on his right is John Ceperich, the officers of the Croatian Home organization.

This organization was very active for the first 25 years, then slowly declined as the younger Croatians moved to other areas. Finally, in 1981 the building was sold.

Above Paul Draženović, pioneer and gold miner born in 1891 in Croatia, the region of Lika. He came to Alaska in 1911. During many rough and arduous years he accumulated several smaller gold mines. From 1967 he was spending his remaining years in a Pioneer's Home.

FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR is a feature length documentary that through first hand interviews, stock footage, narrative recreations and news reels shot by Brenda Brkušić, remarkable American Croatian film maker. It is a shocking truth that has been silenced within a generation of survivors for the past 50 years. The film is also depicting the struggle for independence in the early 90's.

Brenda Brkušić

Brenda was born in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles where she received her Bachelor Fine Arts degree. At the age of 22 she produced and directed her multi-award winning beautifully done movie Freedom from Despair.

In 2005 her hard work was recognized also by the US Congress and she was honored in the United States House of Representatives.

The infamous Goli otok (Naked island)

The island of Goli Otok, one of concentration camps where thousands of  Croatians as well as others were persecuted and killed during the Yugoslav communist regime.

Copyright 2008, photos by Vladimir Novak. All rights reserved.

Please, go to the next page below.

  • Comment #1 (Posted by Mira Plecko)

  • Comment #2 (Posted by John Ceperich)

    Hi Mr. Novak,
    That is my dedo in front of the Croatian Home in your photo from 1950. Seeing this picture was a pleasant reminder of what a leader and proud hrvat John G. Ceperich really was. Hvala.
  • Comment #3 (Posted by ECK SPAHICH, FRITCH, TEXAS)


  • Comment #4 (Posted by Anton Angelich)

    What a wonderful photographic odyssey of Croatian-Americana. Please continue the process and showcase more from your archives. We hope that you share some of the photos that the Croatian New Yorker Club sent to you years ago... Puno hvala. Anton Angelich, Trustee, Croatian New Yorker Club ( P.S. There also was another man with ancestry from our part of the world lost on the U.S.S. Arizona: Jerry Angelich
  • Comment #5 (Posted by Nedjeljko Jerkoviæ)

    This is excellent.I d like you to help me if you can.My grandfather had gonne to America 1913,and after few mounts he went to Aberdeen(probably).He is Ante Jerkovic,and i think that he married Mara Setka.If you have any information about this please return e-mail back because i am writeing a book about familly.thank you very much.
  • Comment #6 (Posted by george novak)

  • Comment #7 (Posted by felix vlacic)

    Cestitam g.Novak na ulozenom trudu.Koliko energije asamo jedna osoba Lijep pozdrav iz canade
  • Comment #8 (Posted by Ahmet)

    Have been following this a bit, and find a mere 28 % of the elttcoraee voting for membership astonishing. A Danish referendum would be invalid with those numbers.Was in the EU Parliament back in 2005, watching the parliamentarians as hungry wolves putting pressure on the Croatian Government to get Gotovina, disregarding all other points towards EU membership. The parliamentarians made it clear that it was an obligation of the Government to change the opinion of the citizens to no longer admiring him for winning the war and bringing lasting peace to Croatia. The foreign minister explained that they had undertaken extensive efforts to influence public opinion, but still drew the line at going into private homes to take down pictures of the national hero.They got Gotovina later, he now sits in Hague accused of "Not preventing the death" of 150 people during Operation Storm. To my knowledge still not convicted, he is widely considered a "War criminal" in the press, who reports it as a fact, not as a charge.Looks to me like a choice between national pride already heavily damaged and dismal economy. I understand that most Croatians chose not to vote at all.
  • Comment #9 (Posted by John Sabo)

    My great-grandfather is the Frank Hoffer shown in Part 1, Croatian Energy, page 5. He came to the U.S. as Andrej Uršanović. He changed his name to Frank Hoffer while in Philadelphia. My grandmother was his youngest daughter - Frances Dulcie Uršanović Hoffer Sabo, born in Karlovac in 1884. Thanks for giving him the credit for the bringing of the Tamburica to America!
  • Comment #10 (Posted by Jeanne Therese Sabo Finn)

    Thank you for your credit given to our great grandfather, Frank Andre Ursanovec Hoffer, and to his daughters, our aunts- Mima, Katica, Anna, and to his daughter, our grandmother, Frances Dulcie, for his contribution of building, introducing and playing the Tamburitza,a national Croatian musical stringed instrument, along with his daughters at the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and various other events. His daughter, Frances, was our grandmother, mother of our father, John W. Sabo Jr.,born April 29,1907,in Pueblo, Colorado,where he was a life-long resident until he departed this life. His siblings included Russel C. Sabo (a long -time resident of Cheyenne,Wyo.,and Gladyce Sabo Krutak (a long-time resident of New Orleans, LA)
  • Comment #11 (Posted by Chad Martinac)

    My names Chad Martinac, born and raised in Kansas City Ks, Strawberry Hill. Where our beautiful little retreat from the world on top and overlooking KC, From St John The Baptist Catholic Church right here. I long to know where I came from. So I had fraternal grandpa named George and his brother Butch. My uncle John Martinac,Dad Jay Anthony Martinac and by marriage John and James Vrbanic. My name isn't widely used so where did I come from? Do I have Martinacs in Croatia now,still? And would they welcome me? My great grandfather Vladimir came here at what time or why, I don't know. Strawberry Hill was and Is Kansas City's "Little Croatia" please google us and email me at I would love some info , or contact.

    Chad Martinac.
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