The history of the Croatian Association of Technical Culture (CATC)
The Croatian Association of Technical Culture (CATC) is the highest national institution in the field of technological culture whose aim is to promote technical culture in the Republic of Croatia (Law on Technical culture, Official Gazette, 76/1993, Article 25).
It took its current name on July 3rd 1992, under the circumstances of developmental changes of the Croatian society, which became based on a market-oriented economy, on private initiatives and a civil (parliamentarian) democracy in an independent state. The amateur involvement in technical activities began on the Croatian territory at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century, when citizens started gathering into various organizations (photo-clubs, aeronautical societies, sailing associations, canoeing clubs, etc.).
By World War II there were almost 100 such organizations that in 1946 formed the Republic Committee for Technique and Sports, which in 1948 transformed into the Croatian People’s Technique Association.
Its basic task was to enable the reception, dissemination and implementation of scientific and technological achievements as well as industrialization – a condition for the transition from an agrarian structure into a modern society – through technical education.
The association of citizens for the purpose of engagement in technological contents at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century is linked to the increasing development and the general influence of science and technology on the entire social life and progress, and to the program of the Croatian National Revival that held a pronounced place for the formation of a new rational type of culture, and the awareness that it takes science and technology to preserve the identity of the Croatian nation and take place among other nations. This is recognized in the words of dr. Franjo Rački (1828-1894), historian and politician, during his election for the first president of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts: “A people that adopted science, assured its future, removed the chains of slavery, said farewell to the dominance of others, and stepped into the line of world authorities.” The motto of Croatian revivers was: “Through education to freedom”. Owing to this program, all the central scientific and cultural institutions (Central Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the modernized University of Zagreb) in the second half of the 19th century developed an impressive revival and promotional activity, thus stimulating and enabling the dissemination of scientific findings and technical achievements. The consequence of this was that the associations of technical enthusiasts appeared almost simultaneously or insignificantly later compared to the Western countries, and their national associations were founded between the two world wars.
In the 1980s thirteen republic associations, five special joint forms of activity and municipal-city associations of technical culture were members of the Croatian People’s Technique. The following republic associations were active then: Croatian Automotive Association, Croatian Photographic Union, Croatian Sailing Association, Croatian Canoe Federation, Croatian Film Clubs Association, Croatian Association of Societies for Informatics and Computers Activity, Croatian Astronautical and Rocketry Organizations’ Association, Croatian Association of the Societies of Technical Culture Pedagogues, Croatian Inventors Association, Croatian Amateur Radio Association, Croatian Motor-nautical and Water-skiing Association, Croatian Sport Sea-fishing and Underwater Activities’ Association and the Croatian Aeronautical Federation. The joint forms of activity were: the “Science to Youth” movement, young technicians’ clubs, school cooperatives, publishing and the Board for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge “Nikola Tesla”.
The Croatian People’s Technique, in spite of the characteristics of a communist political and economic system it was created and functioned in, followed the scientific, technic and cultural heritage of the Croatian people. Its membership opposed the nationalization and transformation of these organizations into a part of the massive bureaucratic administrative-political regime. Based on this activity, the Croatian People’s Technique formally freed itself from the declaratory ideological elements and started a metamorphosis in 1989.
From the beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the Croatian Association of Technical Culture, still named the Croatian People’s Technique, began a programmatic and organizational transformation along with its associations, while approximately ten thousand of their members participated in the Homeland War since 1991.
Today the basic goals of its activity have to do with the promotion of the common interests of its members: the development and promotion of technical culture of the citizens, technical education of the young generation (including scientific and technical literacy), the popularization of science and technnique and the stimulation of the development of science and technique.