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Ivan Freiherr Skerlecz
Ivan Freiherr von Skerlecz was born on 20 July 1873 in Oroszlo, Hungary.  Following a difficult year where Croatia-Slavonia was ruled as a dictatorship by the Hungarian Premier László Lukács, Skerlecz was appointed Ban of Croatia-Slavonia on 21 July 1913 by the new Premier, Istvan Tisza, and the Sabor was reopened.  Skerlecz was universally known as a highly likeable and good-natured man, but also pliable and wont to follow Tisza's lead.  In spite of this, Skerlecz had the concerns and issues of the South Slav peoples in his heart and worked to achieve greater autonomy for Croatia. 

This was best illustrated by his fights with the military.  Once war began, the army’s Kriegsüberwachtungsamt (KÜA), an office to monitor subversion in those areas of the country not considered “war zones,” began operating in western Croatia-Slavonia.  The eastern half of the country was part of the war zone, since the Syrmia region bordered Serbia.  Skerlecz defied KÜA where possible, questioning every arrest that was made.  Whereas Austria was a dictatorship under chancellor
Karl Stürgkh, Hungary’s parliament was still functioning, and Skerlecz managed to reconvene the Croatian Sabor in Agram in June 1915. 

This body, though subordinate to Hungary’s parliament in Budapest, nevertheless exercised as much autonomy as possible.  Their oath of loyalty to the Kaiser and victory was tinged with demands for guarantees of autonomy for the non-Magyars and non-Germans.  It was the first such public statement by a political body, and it raised an ire, but Skerlecz proved himself able to withstand the criticism from both the army and Budapest.  He remained Ban until 29 June 1917, when he resigned in protest of the ousting of Tisza by a cadre of ministers.  After WWI, he lived in Hungary rather than a Croatia controlled by the Karadjordjevic dynasty.

Ivan Freiherr von Skerlecz died in Budapest on 12 January 1951.

GWS, 6/01 [rev. 9/03]