|Persecution of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia|
Genocide of the Serbs
|Part of World War II in Yugoslavia|
Serbs, expelled from their homes in the Independent State of Croatia, march out of town carrying large bundles.
|Location||Independent State of Croatia (Axis-occupied Yugoslavia)|
| Genocide |
|Perpetrators||Independent State of Croatia (Ustashe)|
|Motive||Anti-Serb sentiment, Greater Croatia, anti-Yugoslavism, Catholic fanaticism, Croatisation|
The Persecution of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia, also known as the Genocide of the Serbs (Serbian : Геноцид над Србима / Genocid nad Srbima) included the extermination, expulsion and forced religious conversion of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs by the genocidal policies of the Ustashe regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) between 1941 and 1945, during World War II. The Ustashe regime systematically murdered approximately 300,000 to 500,000 Serbs out of whom up to 52,000 died at the Jasenovac concentration camp, according to current estimates.
Serbian is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia, co-official in the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro, where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population, as well as in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Forced conversion is adoption of a different religion or irreligion under duress. Some who have been forced to convert may continue, covertly, with the beliefs and practices originally held, while outwardly behaving as converts. Crypto-Jews, crypto-Christians, crypto-Muslims and crypto-Pagans are historical examples of the latter.
The Serbs are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group that formed in the Balkans. The majority of Serbs inhabit the nation state of Serbia, as well as the disputed territory of Kosovo, and the neighboring countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro. They form significant minorities in North Macedonia and Slovenia. There is a large Serb diaspora in Western Europe, and outside Europe there are significant communities in North America and Australia.
Ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs can be traced back to the Great Schism of 1054. During the time of the Austrian Empire, many Croats came to resent the privileges granted to Serbs living in the Military Frontier of the Habsburg Monarchy.Following the collapse of Austria-Hungary in the final days of World War I, the Croat and Slovene-dominated State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was established. Having fought on the side of the Central Powers during the war, ethnic Croats and Slovenes — who formed the majority of the state's population — were viewed unfavourably by western nations and as such they failed to gain recognition from the Great Powers. This left them no choice but to join a union largely dominated by ethnic Serbs, which came to be known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Upon its creation, the state was composed of six million Serbs, 3.5 million Croats and 1 million Slovenes. Being the largest ethnic group, the Serbs favoured a centralized state, whereas Croats, Slovenes and Bosnian Muslims did not.
Croats or Croatians are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group native to Croatia. Croats mainly live in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but are also recognized minorities in such countries as Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, which had lasted until the 11th century. The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.
The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.
Approved on 28 June 1921 and based on the Serbian constitution of 1903, the so-called Vidovdan Constitution established the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as a parliamentary monarchy under the Serbian Karađorđević dynasty. Belgrade was chosen as the capital of the new state, assuring Serb and Orthodox Christian political dominance.In 1928, Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Stjepan Radić was assassinated on the floor of the country's parliament by a Montenegrin Serb leader and People's Radical Party (NRS) politician Puniša Račić. The following year King Alexander I proclaimed the 6 January Dictatorship and renamed his country the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to deemphasize its ethnic makeup. Yugoslavia was divided into nine administrative units called banovinas, six of which had ethnic Serb majorities. In 1931, the king issued a decree which allowed the Yugoslav Parliament to reconvene on the condition that only pro-Yugoslav parties were allowed to be represented in it. Marginalized, far-right and far-left movements thrived. The Ustaše, a Croatian fascist party, emerged as the most extreme movement of these. The Ustaše were driven by a deep hatred of Serbs and Serbdom and claimed that "Croats and Serbs were separated by an unbridgable cultural gulf" which prevented them from ever living alongside each other. They organized the so-called Velebit uprising in 1932, assaulting a police station in the village of Brušani in Lika. The police responded harshly to the assault and harassed the local population. In 1934, the Ustaše cooperated with Bulgarian, Hungarian and Italian right-wing extremists to assassinate Alexander while he visited the French city of Marseille. Alexander's cousin, Prince Paul, took the regency until Alexander's son, Peter II, turned eighteen. Ustaše leader Ante Pavelić believed that the assassination would cause Yugoslavia to disintegrate. Instead, countries that had assisted the organization, such as Italy and Hungary, cracked down on its members, arrested them, and destroyed their training camps at Yugoslavia's behest. According to historian Slavko Goldstein, the Ustaše planned to commit a genocide against ethnic Serbs for years prior to the outbreak of World War II. One of Pavelić's main ideologues, Mijo Babić, wrote in 1932:
The Vidovdan Constitution was the first constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It was approved by the Constitutional Assembly on 28 June 1921 despite the opposition boycotting the vote. The Constitution is named after the feast of St. Vitus (Vidovdan), a Serbian Orthodox holiday. The Constitution required a simple majority to pass. Out of 419 representatives, 223 voted for, 35 voted against and 161 abstained.
The Karađorđević, pl. Karađorđevići / Карађорђевићи, pronounced [karad͡ʑǒːrd͡ʑeʋit͡ɕ]) is a Serb dynastic family, founded by Karađorđe Petrović, the Veliki Vožd of Serbia in the early 1800s during the First Serbian Uprising. The relatively short-lived dynasty was supported by the Russian Empire and was opposed to the Austria-Hungary supported Obrenović dynasty. After Karađorđe's assassination in 1817, Miloš Obrenović founded the House of Obrenović. The two houses subsequently traded the throne for several generations. Following the assassination of Alexander in 1903, the Serbian Parliament chose Karađorđe's grandson, Peter I Karađorđević, then living in exile, for the throne of the Kingdom of Serbia. He was duly crowned as King Peter I, and shortly before the end of World War I, representatives of the three peoples proclaimed a Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes with Peter I as sovereign. In 1929, the Kingdom was renamed Yugoslavia, under Alexander I, the son of Peter I. In November 1945, the throne was lost when the League of Communists of Yugoslavia seized power, during the reign of Peter II.
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkan Peninsula. The urban area of the City of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while nearly 1.7 million people live within its administrative limits.
|“||When blood starts to spill it will gush in streams. The blood of the enemy will turn into gushes and rivers, and bombs will scatter their bones like the wind scatters the husks of wheat. Every Ustaša is poised [...] to thrust himself upon the enemy, with his body and soul, to kill and destroy it. The dedication, revolvers, bombs, and sharp knives of the Croatian Ustaše will cleanse and cut whatever is rotten from the healthy body of the Croatian people.||”|
Croatian opposition to a centralized Yugoslavia continued following Alexander's assassination, culminating with the signing of the Cvetković–Maček Agreement by Croatian politician Vladko Maček and Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković on 26 August 1939. By signing the agreement, Belgrade sought to accommodate moderate Croats through the creation of a largely autonomous Banovina of Croatia which covered 27 percent of Yugoslavia's territory and included 29 percent of its population. It also ensured that Maček became Yugoslavia's deputy premier. Ultimately, the agreement was not successful—it led to other Yugoslav ethnic groups demanding a status similar to that of Croatia and failed to satisfy right-wing Croats such as those that had joined the Ustaše, who wanted a fully independent Croatian state.The Ustaše were enraged by the very notion of Maček having negotiated with Belgrade, denouncing him as a "sell out". Right-wing Croats quickly orchestrated anti-Serbian incidents across the newly formed Banovina, and in June 1940, a Croatian National-Socialist Party was established in Zagreb. On 25 March 1941, Yugoslavia bowed to German pressure and signed the Tripartite Pact in an effort to avoid war with the Axis powers. Two days later, a group of Serbian nationalist Royal Yugoslav Air Force officers organized a coup d'état to depose Prince Paul and the government of Dragiša Cvetković. Peter was declared to be of age and was elevated to the throne. Upon hearing news of the coup, Adolf Hitler immediately ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia.
The Cvetković–Maček Agreement was a political agreement on the internal divisions in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which was settled on August 26, 1939 by Yugoslav prime minister Dragiša Cvetković and Vladko Maček, a Croat politician. The agreement established the Banovina of Croatia, drawn to include as many ethnic Croats as possible, which effectively created a Croatian sub-state in Yugoslavia, a demand of Croat politicians since the 1918 founding of Yugoslavia.
Vladimir "Vladko" Maček was a Croatian politician in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and as a leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) following the 1928 assassination of Stjepan Radić, was a leading Croatian political figure until the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941. As a leader of the HSS, Maček played a key role in establishment of the Banovina of Croatia, an autonomous banovina in Yugoslavia in 1939.
Dragiša Cvetković was a Yugoslav politician active in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In April 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis powers, and the puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was created, ruled by the Ustaše regime. The ideology of the Ustaše movement was a blend of Nazism,Catholicism, and Croatian ultranationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span to the Drina river and the outskirts of Belgrade. The movement emphasized the need for a racially "pure" Croatia and promoted the extermination of Serbs (who were viewed as ethinic foreigners, ) Jews , and Gypsies.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state in Southeast Europe and Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1941, during the interwar period and beginning of World War II. From 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term "Yugoslavia" was its colloquial name since its origins. The official name of the state was changed to "Kingdom of Yugoslavia" by King Alexander I on 3 October 1929.
The invasion of Yugoslavia, also known as the April War or Operation 25, was a German-led attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II. The order for the invasion was put forward in "Führer Directive No. 25", which Adolf Hitler issued on 27 March 1941, following the Yugoslav coup d'état.
A puppet state, puppet regime, or puppet government is a state that is de jure independent but is de facto completely dependent upon an outside power. It is nominally sovereign but effectively controlled by a foreign or otherwise alien power, for reasons such as financial interests, economic or military support.
A major ideological influence on the Croatian nationalism of the Ustaše was the 19th-century nationalist Ante Starčević.Starčević was an advocate of Croatian unity and independence and was both anti-Habsburg and anti-Serb. He envisioned the creation of a Greater Croatia that would include territories inhabited by Bosniaks, Serbs, and Slovenes, considering Bosniaks and Serbs to be Croats who had been converted to Islam and Eastern Orthodox Christianity and considering the Slovenes to be "mountain Croats".
Ante Starčević was a Croatian politician and writer. His works are considered to have laid the foundations for Croatian nationalism and he is referred to as "Father of the Homeland" by some Croats.
Greater Croatia is a term applied to certain currents within Croatian nationalism. In one sense, it refers to the territorial scope of the Croatian people, emphasising the ethnicity of those Croats living outside Croatia. In the political sense, though, the term refers to an irredentist belief in the equivalence between the territorial scope of the Croatian people and that of the Croatian state.
The Bosniaks are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group inhabiting mainly the area of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A native minority of Bosniaks live in other countries in the Balkans; especially in the Sandžak region of Serbia and Montenegro, and in Croatia and Kosovo. Bosniaks are typically characterized by their historic tie to the Bosnian historical region, traditional majority adherence to Islam since the 15th and 16th centuries, common culture and Bosnian language. As of 2017 Bosniaks are also recognised as a national minority in Albania. English speakers frequently refer to Bosniaks as Bosnian Muslims or simply as Bosnians, though the latter term can also denote all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina or apply to citizens of the country.
Starčević argued that the large Serb presence in the territories that were claimed by a Greater Croatia was the result of recent settlement, which had been encouraged by the Habsburg rulers, along with the influx of groups like Vlachs who took up Eastern Orthodox Christianity and identified themselves as Serbs.The Ustaše used Starčević's theories to promote the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia and they recognized Croatia as having two major ethnocultural components: Catholic Croats and Muslim Croats, because the Ustaše saw the Islam of the Bosnian-Muslims as a religion which "keeps true the blood of Croats." Armed struggle, genocide and terrorism were glorified by the group. Alexander Korb wrote:
|“||A German-Croatian agreement enabled Ustaša militias and Croatian state agents to unleash a campaign ethnic cleansing directed against the Serbs who lived on the soil the Ustaša claimed was part of Greater Croatia||”|
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After Nazi forces entered into Zagreb on April 10, 1941 Pavelić's closest associate Slavko Kvaternik proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) on a Radio Zagreb broadcast. Meanwhile, Pavelić and several hundred Ustaše volunteers left their camps in Italy and travelled to Zagreb, where Pavelić declared a new government on 16 April 1941. : Führer, English: Chief leader). The Independent State of Croatia was declared to be on Croatian "ethnic and historical territory".He accorded himself the title of "Poglavnik" (German
This country can only be a Croatian country, and there is no method we would hesitate to use in order to make it truly Croatian and cleanse it of Serbs, who have for centuries endangered us and who will endanger us again if they are given the opportunity.
The NDH combined most of modern Croatia, all of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of modern Serbia into an "Italian-German quasi-protectorate".NDH authorities, led by the Ustaše militia, then implemented genocidal policies against the Serb, Jewish and Romani populations living in the new state. The Ustashe cruelty and sadism shocked even Nazi commanders.
Viktor Gutić made several speeches in early summer 1941, calling Serbs "former enemies" and "unwanted elements" to be cleansed and destroyed, and also threatened Croats who did not support their cause.
In 1941 the usage of the Cyrillic script was banned,and in June 1941 began the elimination of "Eastern" (Serbian) words from the Croatian language, as well as the shutting down of Serbian schools. Ante Pavelić ordered, through the "Croatian state office for language", the creation of new words from old roots (some which are used today), and purged many Serbian words.
In the summer of 1941, Ustashe militias and death squads burnt villages and killed thousands of civilian Serbs in the country-side in sadistic ways with various weapons and tools. Men, women, children were hacked to death, thrown alive into pits and down ravines, or set on fire in churches.Some Serb villages near Srebrenica and Ozren were wholly massacred, while children were found impaled by stakes in villages between Vlasenica and Kladanj.
A large number of massacres were committed by the Ustashe. Some of the more notable ones were:
The Ustashe set up temporary concentration camps in the spring of 1941 and laid the groundwork for a network of permanent camps in autumn.The creation of concentration camps and extermination campaign of Serbs had been planned by the Ustashe leadership long before 1941. In Ustashe state exhibits in Zagreb, the camps were portrayed as productive and "peaceful work camps", with photographs of smiling inmates. Croatia was the only Axis satellite to have erected camps specifically for children.
Serbs, Jews and Romani were arrested and sent to concentration camps such as Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška, Gospić and Jadovno. There were 22–26 camps in NDH in total.Special camps for children were those at Sisak, Gornja Rijeka and Jastrebarsko, while Stara Gradiška held thousands of children and women.
The largest and most notorious camp was the Jasenovac-Stara Gradiška complex,the largest extermination camp in the Balkans. An estimated 100,000 inmates perished there, most Serbs. Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburić, the commander-in-chief of all the Croatian camps, announced the great "efficiency" of the Jasenovac camp at a ceremony on 9 October 1942, and also boasted: "We have slaughtered here at Jasenovac more people than the Ottoman Empire was able to do during its occupation of Europe."
Bounded by rivers and two barbed-wire fences making escape unlikely, the Jasenovac camp was divided into five camps, the first two closed in December 1941, while the rest were active until the end of the war. Stara Gradiška (Jasenovac V) held women and children. The Ciglana (brickyards, Jasenovac III) camp, the main killing ground and essentially a death camp, had 88% mortality rate, higher than Auschwitz's 84.6%.A former brickyard, a furnace was engineered into a crematorium, with witness testimony of some, including children, being burnt alive and stench of human flesh spreading in the camp. Luburić had a gas chamber built at Jasenovac V, where a considerable number of inmates were killed during a three-month experiment with sulfur dioxide and Zyklon B, but this method was abandoned due to poor construction. Still, that method was unnecessary, as most inmates perished from starvation, disease (especially typhus), assaults with mallets, maces, axes, poison and knives. The srbosjek ("Serb-cutter") was a glove with an attached curved blade designed to cut throats. Large groups of people were regularly executed upon arrival outside camps and thrown into the river. Unlike German-run camps, Jasenovac specialized in brutal one-on-one violence, such as guards attacking barracks with weapons and throwing the bodies in the trenches. The infamous camp commander Filipović, dubbed fra Sotona ("brother Satan") and the "personification of evil", on one occasion drowned Serb women and children by flooding a cellar. Filipović and other camp commanders (such as Dinko Šakić and his wife Nada Šakić , the sister of Maks Luburić), used ingenious torture. There were throat-cutting contests of Serbs, in which prison guards made bets among themselves as to who could slaughter the most inmates. It was reported that guard and former Franciscan priest Petar Brzica won a contest on 29 August 1942 after cutting the throats of 1,360 inmates. Inmates were tied and hit over the head with mallets and half-alive hung in groups by the Granik ramp crane, their intestines and necks slashed, then dropped into the river. When the Partisans and Allies closed in at the end of the war, the Ustashe began mass liquidations at Jasenovac, marching women and children to death, and shooting most of the remaining male inmates, then torched buildings and documents before fleeing.
The Ustashe viewed religion and nationality as closely linked; while Roman Catholicism and Islam (Bosnian Muslims were viewed as Croats) were recognized as Croatian national religions, Eastern Orthodoxy was deemed inherently incompatible with the Croatian state project.They saw Orthodoxy as hostile because it was identified as Serb. On 3 May 1941 a law was passed on religious conversions, pressuring Serbs to convert to Catholicism and thereby adopt Croat identity. This was made on the eve of Pavelić's meeting with Pope Pious XII in Rome. The Catholic Church in Croatia, headed by archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, greeted it and adopted it into the Church internal law. The term "Serbian Orthodox" was banned in mid-May as uncompatible with state order, and substituted it with "Greek-Eastern faith". By the end of September 1941, about half of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, 335 priests, had been expelled.
— Ustashe chief ideologist Mile Budak, 13 July 1941.
Ustashe propaganda legitimized persecution partly based on historical Catholic–Orthodox struggle for domination in Europe and Catholic intolerance towards the "schismatics".Following Serb insurgency provoked by Ustashe terror, killing and deportation campaign, the State Directorate for Regeneration launched a program in the autumn of 1941 aimed at mass forced conversion of Serbs. Already in the summer, the Ustashe had closed or destroyed most of the Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries and deported, imprisoned or murdered Orthodox priests and bishops. The conversions were meant to Croatianize and permanently destroy the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Vatican was not opposed to the forced conversions. On 6 February 1942 Pope Pious XII privately received 206 Ustashes in uniforms and blessed them, giving symbolical support to their acts. On 8 February 1942 envoy to the Holy See Rusinović said that 'the Holy See joyed' over forced conversions. Cardinal Luigi Maglione, the Holy See secretary, encouraged the Croatian bishops in a 21 February 1942 letter to speed up the conversions, and also stressed that the "Orthodox term" be replaced with terms "apostates or schismatics". Many fanatic Catholic priests joined the Ustashe, blessed and supported their work, and participated in killings and conversions.
In 1941–42,some 200,000 or 240,000 –250,000 Serbs were converted to Roman Catholicism, although most temporarily. Converts would sometimes be killed anyway, often in the same churches they were rebaptized. 85% of the Serbian Orthodox clergy was killed or expelled. In Lika, Kordun and Banija alone, 172 Serbian Orthodox churches were closed, destroyed, or plundered. On 2 July 1942, the Croatian Orthodox Church was founded in order to replace the institutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church, after the matter of forced conversion had become extremely controversial.
Many Catholic bishops and priests in Croatia openly supported the Ustashe actions, and also, there were no condemnations of the crimes, public or private, by the Catholic hierarchy.The Croatian Catholic Church and Vatican in fact viewed policies against Serbs as advantegous to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, historian Tomasevich praised some of the public statements and deeds made by archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, but noted that there were shortcomings in statements and actions regarding genocidal actions against the Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church. In his diary, Stepinac said that "Serbs and Croats are of two different worlds, north and south pole, which will never unite as long as one of them is alive", along with other similar views. Croatia's rehabilitation of Stepinac in 2016 met negative reaction in Serbia and Republika Srpska.
An estimated 120,000 Serbs were deported from NDH to German-occupied Serbia, and 300,000 fled by 1943.The general plan was to have prominent people deported first, so their property could be nationalized and the remaining Serbs could then be more easily manipulated. By the end of September 1941, about half of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, 335 priests, had been expelled.
During the war and during Tito's Yugoslavia, various numbers were given for overall war casualties. [a] Estimations by Holocaust memorial centers also vary. [b] The historian Rory Yeomans concluded that the most conservative estimates put the lower number of 200,000 and possibly as many as 500,000 Serbs killed by Ustashe death squads, executed, or perished at concentration camps.Tomasevich said that the exact number of victims in Yugoslavia is impossible to determine. Sabrina P. Ramet estimated at least 300,000 Serbs "massacred by the Ustaše".
In the 1980s, calculations on World War II victims in Yugoslavia were made by Serb statistician Bogoljub Kočović and Croat demographer Vladimir Žerjavić. Tomasevich described their studies as objective and reliable.Kočović estimated that 370–410,000 Serbs died in the NDH during the war. He did not estimate the number of Serbs killed by the Ustaše, saying that the task of categorizing the victims would in most cases be impossible. Žerjavić estimated the total number of Serb deaths in the NDH at 322,000, of which 125,000 died as combatants, while 197,000 were civilians. Žerjavić categorized the civilian casualties at 78,000 killed by the Ustaše in prisons, pits and camps, including Jasenovac, 45,000 killed by the Germans, 15,000 killed by the Italians, 34,000 killed in battles between the warring parties, and 25,000 that died of typhoid. The number of victims at the Jasenovac concentration camp remains a matter of debate, but current estimates put the number at around 100,000, about half of which were Serbs.
In Serbia and in the eyes of Serbs, the Ustashe atrocities constituted a genocide.Some Western and Jewish authors acknowledge it as a genocide, or, if not calling it explicitly "genocide", call Ustashe policies and acts "genocidal". R. Lemkin also called Hungarian and Bulgarian policies against Serbs genocidal.
Catholic extremism was at the heart of Ustaše policy and this meant that many Serbs in the NDH were given the option of either converting to Catholicism or face deportation to a concentration camp.Serbs who refused to renounce the Orthodox Christian faith ultimately faced death in concentration camps across the NDH, especially at Jasenovac concentration camp. In the post-war era, the Serbian Orthodox Church considered that the Serbian victims of this genocide were martys. As a result, the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates Holy New Martys of Jasenovac Concentration Camp on September 13.
After World War II, most of the remaining Ustashe went underground or fled to countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and Germany, with the assistance of Roman Catholic clerics and grassroots supporters.
The Yugoslav communist government did not use the Jasenovac camp as was done with other European concentration camps, most likely due to Serb-Croat relations. Tito's government attempted to let the wounds heal and forge "brotherhood and unity" in the peoples.Tito himself was invited to, and passed Jasenovac several times, but never visited the site.
With the Partisan liberation of Yugoslavia, many Ustashe leaders fled and took refuge at the college of San Girolamo degli Illirici near the Vatican.Catholic priest and Ustashe Krunoslav Draganović directed the fugitives from San Girolamo. The US State Department and Counter-Intelligence Corps helped war criminals to escape, and assisted Draganović (who later worked for the American intelligence) in sending Ustashe abroad. Many of those responsible for mass killings in NDH took refuge in South America, Portugal, Spain and the United States. Luburić was assassinated in Spain in 1969 by an UDBA agent; Artuković lived in Ireland and California until extradited in 1986 and died of natural causes in prison; Dinko Šakić and his wife Nada lived in Argentina until extradited in 1998, Dinko dying in prison and his wife released. Draganović also arranged Gestapo functionary Klaus Barbie's flight.
In the Croat diaspora, the Ustashe became heroes.Ustashe émigré terrorist groups in the diaspora (such as Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood and Croatian National Resistance) carried out assassinations and bombings, and also plane hijackings, throughout the Yugoslav period.
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Some Croats, including politicians, have attempted to minimise the magnitude of the genocide perpetrated against Serbs in the World War II puppet state of Germany, the Independent State of Croatia.
By 1989, the future President of Croatia, Franjo Tuđman (who had been a Partisan during World War II), had embraced Croatian nationalism, and published Horrors of War: Historical Reality and Philosophy , in which he questioned the official number of victims killed by the Ustaše during the Second World War. In his book, Tuđman claimed that fewer than thirty-thousand people died at Jasenovac.[ citation needed ] Tuđman also estimated that a total of 900,000 Jews had perished in the Holocaust. Tuđman's views and his government's toleration of Ustaša symbols frequently strained relations with Israel. Nonetheless, in his book, he did confirm that genocide happened:
It is a historical fact that the Ustasha regime of NDH, in its implementation of the plan to reduce the 'hostile Serb Orthodox people in Croatian lands', committed a large genocidal crime over the Serbs, and proportionately even higher over the Roma and Jews, in the implementation of Nazi racial politics.
An example of ultranationalist, anti-Serb sentiment in contemporary Croatian public life is Thompson, a Croatian rock band that has been protested against on numerous occasions for having sung Ustaše songs, most notably Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara . People publicly displaying Ustaše affiliation at Thompson concerts in Croatia and elsewhere is a frequent occurrence, leading to complaints from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In 2006, a video was leaked showing Croatian President Stipe Mesić giving a speech in Australia in the early 1990s, in which he said that the Croats had "won a great victory on April 10th" (the date of the formation of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941), and that Croatia needed to apologize to no one for Jasenovac.Later on, Mesić apologized for his indecent statement and stated that he undoubtedly considered anti-fascism to be the basis of modern-day Croatia, appreciated Yugoslav Partisans and considered it necessary to "reaffirm anti-fascism as a human and civilization commitment in the function of the unavoidable condition for the building of a democratic Croatia, a country of equal citizens."
On 17 April 2011, in a commemoration ceremony, Croatian President Ivo Josipović warned that there were "attempts to drastically reduce or decrease the number of Jasenovac victims", adding, "faced with the devastating truth here that certain members of the Croatian people were capable of committing the cruelest of crimes, I want to say that all of us are responsible for the things that we do." At the same ceremony, then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said, "there is no excuse for the crimes and therefore the Croatian government decisively rejects and condemns every attempt at historical revisionism and rehabilitation of the fascist ideology, every form of totalitarianism, extremism and radicalism... Pavelić's regime was a regime of evil, hatred and intolerance, in which people were abused and killed because of their race, religion, nationality, their political beliefs and because they were the others and were different."
In 2008, in Melbourne, Australia, a Croat restaurant held a celebration to honour Ustaše leader Ante Pavelić. The event was an "outrageous affront both to his victims and to any persons of morality and conscience who oppose racism and genocide", Dr. Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, stated. According to local press reports, a large photograph of Pavelić was hung in the restaurant, T-shirts with his picture and that of two other commanders in the 1941–45 Ustaše government were offered for sale at the bar, and the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia was celebrated. Zuroff noted this was not the first time that Croatian émigrés in Australia had openly defended Croat Nazi war criminals.
It is high time that the authorities in Australia find a way to take the necessary measures to stop such celebrations, which clearly constitute racist, ethnic, and anti-Semitic incitement against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies.
The Ustaše had sent large amounts of gold that it had plundered from Serbian and Jewish property owners during World War II into Swiss bank accounts. Of a total of 350 million Swiss Francs, about 150 million was seized by British troops; however, the remaining 200 million (ca. 47 million dollars) reached the Vatican. In October 1946, the American intelligence agency SSU alleged that these funds are still held in the Vatican Bank. This matter is the crux of a recent class action suit against the Vatican Bank and other defendants.
World War II and especially its ethnic conflicts have been deemed instrumental in the later Yugoslav Wars (1991–95).
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Israeli President Moshe Katsav visited Jasenovac in 2003. His successor, Shimon Peres, paid homage to the camp's victims when he visited Jasenovac on 25 July 2010 and laid a wreath at the memorial. Peres dubbed the Ustaše's crimes to be a "demonstration of sheer sadism".
The Jasenovac Memorial Museum reopened in November 2006 with a new exhibition designed by a Croatian architect, Helena Paver Njirić, and an Educational Center, designed by the firm Produkcija. The Memorial Museum features an interior of rubber-clad steel modules, video and projection screens, and glass cases displaying artifacts from the camp. Above the exhibition space, which is quite dark, is a field of glass panels inscribed with the names of the victims.
The New York City Parks Department, the Holocaust Park Committee and the Jasenovac Research Institute, with the help of then-Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), established a public monument to the victims of Jasenovac in April 2005 (the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps.) The dedication ceremony was attended by ten Yugoslavian Holocaust survivors, as well as diplomats from Serbia, Bosnia and Israel. It remains the only public monument to Jasenovac victims outside the Balkans.
To commemorate the victims of the Kragujevac massacre, the whole of Šumarice, where the killings took place, was turned into a memorial park. There are several monuments there: the monument to the murdered schoolchildren and their teachers, the "Broken Wing" monument, the monument of pain and defiance and the monument "One Hundred for One", the monument of resistance and freedom. Serbian poet Desanka Maksimović wrote a poem about the massacre titled Krvava Bajka (A Bloody Fairy Tale).
The Jasenovac concentration camp was an extermination camp established in Slavonia by the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. The camp was established and operated solely by the governing Ustaše regime rather than by Nazi Germany as in the rest of occupied Europe. It was one of the largest concentration camps in Europe and it has been referred to as "the Auschwitz of the Balkans" and "the Yugoslav Auschwitz".
The Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement, commonly known as Ustaše, was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultranationalist and terrorist organization, active, as one organization, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.
Ante Pavelić was a Croatian general and military dictator who founded and headed the fascist ultranationalist organization known as the Ustaše in 1929 and governed the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist Nazi puppet state built out of Yugoslavia by the authorities of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, from 1941 to 1945. Pavelić and the Ustaše persecuted many racial minorities and political opponents in the NDH during the war, including Serbs, Jews, Romani, and anti-fascist Croats.
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II fascist puppet state of Germany and Italy. It was established in parts of occupied Yugoslavia on 10 April 1941, after the invasion by the Axis powers. Its territory consisted of most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia, but also excluded many Croat-populated areas in Dalmatia, Istria, and Međimurje regions.
Catholic clergy involvement with the Ustaše covers the role of the Croatian Catholic Church in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a Nazi puppet state created on the territory of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia in 1941.
Jure Francetić was a Croatian Ustaša Commissioner for the Bosnia and Herzegovina regions of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II, and commander of the 1st Ustaše Regiment of the Ustaše Militia, later known as the Black Legion. In both roles he was responsible for the massacre of Bosnian Serbs and Jews. A member of Ante Pavelić's inner circle, he was considered by many Ustaše as a possible successor to Pavelić as Poglavnik (leader) of the NDH. He died of wounds inflicted when he was captured by Partisans near Slunj in the Kordun region when his aircraft crash-landed there in late December 1942.
Ljubomir "Ljubo" Miloš was a Croatian public official who was a member of the Ustaše of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. He served as commandant of the Jasenovac concentration camp on several occasions and was responsible for various atrocities committed there during the war. He fled Yugoslavia in May 1945 and sought refuge in Austria. In 1947, he returned to Yugoslavia with the intention of starting an anti-communist uprising. He was soon arrested by Yugoslav authorities and charged with war crimes. Miloš was found guilty on all counts and hanged in August 1948.
Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburić was a Bosnian Croat member of the fascist Ustaše movement who headed the system of concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during much of World War II. Luburić also personally oversaw multiple massacres of Serbs, and spearheaded the contemporaneous genocides of Jews and Roma in the NDH.
Andrija Artuković was a Croatian lawyer, politician, and senior member of the Croatian nationalist and fascist Ustaše organisation, who held the Interior and Justice portfolios in the Government of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II. He signed into law a number of racial laws against Serbs, Jews, and Romani people, and was responsible for a string of concentration camps in which tens of thousands of civilians were murdered and mistreated. He escaped to the United States after the war, where he lived until extradited to Yugoslavia in 1986. He was tried and found guilty of a number of mass killings in the NDH, and was sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out due to his age and health. He died in custody in 1988.
Rafael Ranko Boban was a Croatian military commander who served in the Ustaše Militia and Croatian Armed Forces during World War II. Having participated in the Velebit uprising in 1932, he joined the Royal Italian Army and returned to Croatia following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. He fought with the Ustaše until the end of the war, when he is reported to have evaded the Yugoslav Partisans and reached the Austrian town of Bleiburg. Nothing is known of what happened to him afterwards, and it was rumoured that he was either killed in Podravina in 1945, died fighting with the Crusaders in Herzegovina in 1947, or, less likely, emigrated to the United States via Argentina, joined the United States Army and fought Communist forces in the Korean War. In 1951, he was named the Croatian Minister of Defence in-exile by Ustaše leader Ante Pavelić.
The Glina massacres were killings of Serb peasants in the town of Glina in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) that occurred between May and August 1941, during World War II. The first wave of massacres in the town began on 11 or 12 May 1941, when a band of Ustaše led by Mirko Puk murdered a group of Serb men and boys in a Serbian Orthodox church before setting it on fire. The following day, approximately 100 Serb males were murdered by the Ustaše in the nearby village of Prekopi. Estimates of the overall number of Serbs killed from 11–13 May range from 260 to 417. Further killings in Glina occurred between 30 July and 3 August of that same year, when 700–2,000 Serbs were massacred by a group of Ustaše led by Vjekoslav Luburić. Ljubo Jednak, the only survivor of these killings, went on to testify at the trials of the several prominent figures in the NDH after the war. Puk was captured by British forces in 1945 while attempting to flee to Austria and was extradited to Yugoslavia the following year, where he committed suicide. Luburić escaped Yugoslavia after the war and moved to Francoist Spain, where he was killed by a person generally assumed to be an agent of the Yugoslav State Security Service.
The Jadovno concentration camp was a concentration and extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. Commanded by Juco Rukavina, it was the first of twenty-six concentration camps in the NDH during the war. Established in a secluded area about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the town of Gospić, it held thousands of Serbs and Jews over a period of 122 days from May to August 1941. Inmates were usually killed by being pushed into deep ravines located near the camp. Estimates of the number of deaths at Jadovno range from 10,000 to 68,000, mostly Serbs. The camp was closed on 21 August 1941, and the area where it was located was later handed over to the Kingdom of Italy and became part of Italian Zones II and III. Jadvono was replaced by the greater sized Jasenovac concentration camp and its extermination facilities.
The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia refers primarily to the genocide of Jews, but sometimes also include that of Serbs and Romani (Porajmos), during World War II within the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist puppet state ruled by the Ustashe regime, that included most of the territory of modern-day Croatia, the whole of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the eastern part of Syrmia (Serbia). 90% of Croatian Jews were exterminated in Ustashe-run concentration camps like Jasenovac and others, while a considerable number of Jews were rounded up and turned over by the Ustashe for extermination in Nazi Germany.
Edgar Angeli was Croatian rear admiral of Navy of the Independent State of Croatia.
The Ustaše Militia was military branch of the Ustaše, established by the fascist regime of Ante Pavelić in the Axis puppet state the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in Yugoslavia during World War II.
The Gudovac massacre was the mass killing of around 190 Bjelovar Serbs by the Croatian nationalist Ustaše movement on 28 April 1941, during World War II. The massacre occurred shortly after the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia and the establishment of the Ustaše-led Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). It was the first act of mass murder committed by the Ustaše upon coming to power, and presaged a wider Ustaše-perpetrated campaign of genocide against Serbs in the NDH that lasted until the end of the war.
The Dinara Division was a Chetnik division that existed during World War II. Organized in 1942 with assistance from Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin and headed by Momčilo Đujić, the division incorporated commanders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, northern Dalmatia, and the Lika region with the intent of establishing a purely Serb state cleansed of other nationalities. The division was under the control of supreme Chetnik commander Draža Mihailović and received aid from Dimitrije Ljotić, leader of the Serbian Volunteer Corps, and Milan Nedić, head of the Serbian puppet Government of National Salvation.
Zdenko Blažeković was a Croatian fascist official who held several posts in the World War II Ustaše regime in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). He was the student commissar at the Ustaše University Centre (USS), leader of the male Ustaše Youth organisation and a sports commissioner in the NDH.
Marijan Mijo Babić (1903–1941), nicknamed Giovanni, was a deputy of the Croatian fascist dictator Ante Pavelić, and the first commander of all concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia. He was head of the Third Bureau of the Ustasha Surveillance Service, and was also a member of the Main Ustaše Headquarters, one of the two main deputies of Pavelić.
The Kruščica concentration camp was a concentration camp established in the Independent State of Croatia during World War II. This short-lived camp was founded in April 1941 for women and children. The camp was founded by Mijo Babić, a deputy of the Croatian fascist dictator Ante Pavelić, and the first commander of all concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia.
The Independent State of Croatia willingly cooperated with the Nazi “Final Solution” against Jews and Gypsies, but went beyond it, launching a campaign of genocide against Serbs in “greater Croatia.” The Ustasha, like the Nazis whom they emulated, established concentration camps and death camps.
Povijesna je činjenica da je ustaški režim NDH, u provedbi svojih planova o smanjenju ‘neprijateljskog srpsko-pravoslavnog pučanstva u hrvatskim zemljama’ izvršio velik genocidni zločin nad Srbima, a razmjerno još veći nad Romima i Židovima, u provedbi nacističke rasne politike.
Genocides in Europe