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Mate (1882-1944)

Mate was born a year or so after Croatia was re-formed, on November 14, 1882, the third of Josip I and Janjica’s ten children and their first son. His name is Mathew or Matt in English and he was born in the house in Stajnica. After finishing high school in Senj [note: not sure what the source for this was, but his name does not appear on the list of matriculants that I found on the web. Is it possible that he did not do well at school and was sent to the Military School?] Mate went to the Military Academy in Budapest where he learnt to speak Hungarian and became skilled in sword-fighting or fencing. 

Mate was 19 when he graduated from the Academy in Budapest on August 18, 1901. He went on to become an officer in the Croatian Home Guard.

As a talented swordsman Mate completed the Advanced Swordsman course at Wiener Neustadt (a town located south of Vienna) and was reputed to be one of the best swordfighters in Habsburg Monarchy. I have a trophy that Mate won in a fencing tournament.

At the age of 23 he took a post as a teacher at joint Cadet school of Hungarian-Croatian home defence in Pécs in Southern Hungary, very close to the Croatian border. He was there for about three years (from 1905 to 1907).
Mate was then assigned to be company commander at the NCO (Non-commissioned Officers) school in Zagreb. He started smoking somewhere around this time.

World War 1
He was called into an active unit from his posting to the NCO school. In the war he came to prominence as a battalion commander of 25th home regiment in the front in Serbia, where he was seriously wounded. He apparently led a “heroic battle” in Serbia. More details will follow on this in a new book on Stajnica.

Per Wikipedia, in the fall of 1913, Tito was sent to a school for non-commissioned officers and became a sergeant, serving in the 25th Croatian Regiment based in Zagreb. So, it’s possible that Mate was his commanding officer for a while.

In spite of his injuries, in 1915 Mate went to the Russian front where he spent two years. Then, in December 1918 as the war ended, he participated with the 1st the Karlovac infantry regiments in Međimurje where the Hungarians were expelled by Christmas of the same year.

WW1 had ended with large scale desertions from the Austro-Hungarian army and Croatia descended into chaos. In Lika, a group of deserters called Zeleni Kader (Green Cadre or Corps) was causing havoc and Mate, who had opted to stay in the army, was sent to Brinje to bring law and order to the area. He apprehended three men, tried them in a military court and had them hung in the town square. 

Shortly after that (in 1921) at the age of 39, he resigned from the army. He had spent 20 years in the army.

Normal life – 20 years between the wars

When the first world war ended, the five brothers all returned home. The three older brothers had been conscripted at the beginning of the war (see picture) and the two younger ones were only conscripted later. When war broke, Slave was 18 and Vlado was only 15. Vlado only spent a few months in the army when the war ended.

It was quite unusual that in a such a large family of boys, all survived. The next 20 years were the golden era for this Murković family. The world was at relative peace, business was good and the family prospered. The family centered around the house in Stajnica. Even family that married and went away to live in other towns would come back to Stajnica for summer holidays or for hunting expeditions in the fall. 

{from here to the end of this page it is messy ... needs editing, re-writing, organizing....}

Around the end of the war, Mate met Beata von Serda Teodorski through Tade (Beata’s uncle, her mother’s brother). They got married and by 1922 they already had their second son. Beata had previously been engaged to a German baron who was an officer in the German army. Tragically, her fiancé had died in WW1. Beata's mother was Croatian whose last name was Sladović and her father was a Polish general who was stationed in Zagreb during the Austro-Hungarian empire. The general, Josef Serda Teodorski, married the Croatian girl and become very attached to Croatia. In 1894, the couple had a little girl that they called Beata and they went to live in Poland for a while but on the general’s retirement they relocated to his holiday house that he had bought in Sušak (which is now part of the city of Rijeka). Beata's father, Josef Serda Teodorski, may be buried in the military cemetery in Pula, Istria (or it may be an officer with a similar name that died in a submarine?).

Mate and Beata had two sons, Borna and Dodo. Beata had a terrible first night of marriage (story…?). 

After Mate retired from the Army, he continued to be focused on fencing. He taught at and was a member of the first Croatian fencing club. Mate went into the family business when his father (Josip I) bought him a saw-mill in Ličke Jesenice which was some 50 km (?confirm distance?) east or inland of Stajnica. Ličke Jesenice was the location of the train station that one would need use to take the train to Zagreb. The extended family then had three mills: Stajnica, Ličke Jesenice and in Jezerane.

For a number of years, Beata and the boys lived in her fathers’ house in Sušak (which is now part of the city of Rijeka) while he worked at the mill at Ličke Jesenice.

As WW1 had ended, Mate left the army and went into the family business. Josip I (his father) bought him a saw-mill in Ličke Jesenice which was some 50km (?confirm distance?) east or inland of Stajnica. The family then had three mills: Stajnica, Ličke Jesenice and in Jezerane. Ličke Jesenice was also the location of the train station that one would need use to take the train to Zagreb.

World War 2

Mate Murković

When WW2 broke, Mate returned to the army commanded the Croatian 1st Infantry Division as Colonel for an unknown period that ended in December 1942. 
Vojnik do srži, nije ostao neaktivan i u 2. svjetskom ratu. Godine 1941. postaje zapovjednikom divizijskog područja u Sarajevu, pa 1942. preuzeo zapovjedništvo divizije u Bjelovaru, pa zapovjednikom domobranske pripreme. Godine 1943. promaknut je u generala, a zatim umirovljen. Njegov sin također je služio u domobranstvu, a poginuo je 1942. godine kod Rostova. Shrvan sinovljevom smrti, general Matija Murković umro je u Zagrebu 10. srpnja 1944. godine

Njegova vojna karijera kao i ratni put kroz dva svjetska sukoba, svrstavaju ga u sam vrh vojnih časnika i zapovjednika sa brinjskog područja.
In August 1942 he received notice that his son Borna had died on the Russian front. The news was devastating to both Mate and Beata. Beata had always coloured her hair dark to hide some of the grey that was starting to show. After she received the news of Borna’s death, she stopped colouring her hair and her head went all white. In 1943 Mate achieved the rank of General and retired shortly thereafter, a sick man.

Josef Serda Edler von Teodorski
Born 1900, died June 10, 1918. Beata had a picture in her album of a grave that I’ve discovered is located in the Military cemetery in Pula. This is the grave of a young 18 year old man who died on the Saint Stephen (SMS Szent István) on June 10, 1918. There is film footage of the sinking on Youtube, but I'm not sure how this person is connected to Beata's father. I suspect that this may have been her brother.

As the war was ending, Mate died (July 10, 1944) at the age of 61 in Zagreb from lung cancer brought on by years of heavy smoking. He was buried in the military section in Mirogoj, the main cemetery in Zagreb with full military honours (get picture of his grave). In May 1945, Yugo-bolsheviks destroyed his grave. For a long time an article from a Serbian newspaper that read 'Matija Murković vijao je naše čete na Crnom vrhu' was kept in the Murkovic Lodge in Stajnica.
Mate’s wife and surviving son (Beata and Dodo) escape to Germany and later to the USA. The initially go to Milwaukee, but end up in Los Angeles. Seka visits her aunt in LA and goes there to be with Beata in her final days.

Mate used to smoke a lot and he would even smoke in bed when he could not sleep at night. Beata used to dislike this a lot and he had to sleep in a spare room.

Research and citations

Book that mentions Murković : ”TKO JE TKO U NDH” or in English ”WHO IS WHO IN NDH”. NDH stands for Independent State of Croatia, which means the Croatian State from 1941 – 1945.

On page 287 there is a short CV of MATIJA MURKOVIĆ.

It says that he was (military) general, born in Stajnica near Jezerane 14/11/ 1882. and died in Zagreb 10/7/ 1944. Graduated at the Secondary School in Senj, and at military Academy ”Ludoviceum” in Budapest 1901.

He was a professional officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Between 1905 and 1907 he was a professor at the Cadet School in Pecs in Hungary.

In the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes (named Yugoslavia after 1929) he was promoted a major in 1920 but retired in 1921.

After NDH was established he was reactivated  and with a rank of major he commanded 2. Infantery Regiment (regular army, Domobrani). Till his retirement in 11/6/1943  he was CO of Bosnian Divisional Region’s  5th Infantery Division (1941), 1st Infantery Division (1942/43). In June 1943 he was promoted to a rank of General (Domobrani).


He had a son BORNA who was a lieutenant in the Croatian Army. He was an officer in 369th (strengthened) Domobrani Regiment which was trained in Stockerau in the German Reich (Austria) for combat in Russia. Regimental war diary mentions that lieutenant Murković died from wounds in Venci, a place in Russia, on 20 August 1942 in a field military hospital. At he front in Russia, particularly battlefield of Stalingrad, 369th Croatian Regiment had many casualties and one of them was young Murković. Those who survived Stalingrad were taken prisoners by the Russians.

This was found in a book entitled ”HRVATSKO DOMOBRANSTVO U DRUGOM SVJETSKOM RATU” (Croatian Domobrani in Second World War), author is IVAN KOŠUTIĆ ( page 179).

The Imperial Croatian Home Guard (Croatian: Carsko Hrvatsko domobranstvo) was the Croatian army section of the Honvéd (Hungarian Army)which existed from 1868 to 1918. The force was created by decree of the Croatian Parliament on December 5, 1868.



A Roman road linking the Eastern world to the West passed through this town. The road had ruts that were 56.5 inches apart which was the track width for Roman wagons and this may have ultimately determined the width of the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle today ... but that is a story for another day.


In May 1914 Josip Broz (Tito) the Marshall of Yugoslavia from 1943 to the date of his death on May 4, 1980, (the day that Dede opened champagne in celebration) won a silver medal at a fencing competition of the Austro-Hungarian Army in Budapest – this may have been the same tournament that Mate had won ten years earlier – check the records in Ludovika when you next visit Budapest.