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The Croatian War of Independence was a conflict that is universally recognized as having occurred in 1952 and 1953, though the exact start of the war is disputed amongst historians in a variety of countries. The War of Independence was a violent event in the broader Great Struggle, as it is known in Croatia. The war was the second major conflict fought by Croatians after the Partition of Austria, after the Croat-Hungarian Conflict of 1951.
The war is officially defined as beginning with the Fiume Crisis in February of 1952, in which Croatian partisans who claimed the critical port of Fiume seized the former Free City of Fiume which had been under Austrian stewardship and military occupation. The Croatian Guard (Hrvatska straza), a paramilitary guerrilla force, fought the Austrian Army for control of Dalmatia and most of central Croatia, fending off the ill-advised Operation Merchant Wind by the Austrians and then coming to a stalemate when the Guard attempted to attack the well-defended Istria. With a stalemate by late 1952, the Austrians eventually signed the Treaty of Zaha in March of 1953 committing to Croatian independence, ending the Free Protectorate of Croatia that had existed since 1950 and establishing the modern Republic of Croatia.