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  Croatians were Austrians??!!

Well, sort of.

Many people studying their genealogy for the first time get confused when they discover that their Croatian ancestor was an Austrian citizen (in some cases a Hungarian citizen).

All immigrants who were born before 1919 in what is now Croatia were born in Austria and were citizens of Austria. No, they weren't real Austrians. They were Dalmatians or Croatians or Slavonians (or in some cases a minority ethnic group like Serbs or Hungarians who were living in Croatia). But they weren't real Austrians.

Real Austrians are of Germanic blood and speak a Germanic language. Croatians are of a Slavic blood and speak a Slavic language. What is today Croatia was occupied territory in those days. Austria ruled Croatia.

However, many Croatian-born "Austrians" went out into the world and found it to their advantage to play up the "Austrian" angle. No one knew where Croatia or Dalmatia was but everyone had heard of Austria and Vienna (operas, Mozart, Strauss waltzes, etc.). And most of them had left at a very young age and had not received the indoctrination necessary for them to feel the pride of being "Croatian" vs. being "Austrian." So they claimed to be Austrian but they weren't. Back home they would have been soundly chastised for such claims.

Many an argument has ensued over this point over the years among the diaspora. Today few people of Croatian descent can understand what all the fuss was about. But back then it was a very big deal.

But for genealogy purposes we must admit they were, indeed, Austrian citizens.