Independent State of Croatia (NDH)
The most murderous of the Nazi puppet states
Death Toll: 750,000 – 900,000
750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews & 26,000 Roma
Flag of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) Flag and coat of arms
The greatest genocide during World War II, in proportion to a nation’s population, took place, not in Nazi Germany but in the Nazi-created puppet state of Croatia. There, in the years 1941-1945, some 750,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 26,000 Gypsies – men, women and children – perished in a gigantic holocaust. These are the figures used by most foreign authors, especially Germans, who were in the best position to know… The magnitude and the bestial nature of these atrocities makes it difficult to believe that such a thing could have happened in an allegedly civilized part of the world…
— Professor Edmond Paris, “Genocide in Satellite Croatia, 1941- 1945” Introduction, Chicago, 1961, The American Institute for Balkan Affairs
The assassination of the first Yugoslavia’s King Alexander set the stage for the invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Axis. The assassin, Vlado Chernozemski, was a Bulgarian, member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and an experienced marksman. Immediately after assassinating King Alexander, he was cut down by the sword of a mounted French policeman, and then beaten by the crowd. By the time he was removed from the scene, he was already dead. IMRO worked in alliance with the Croatian Ustaše group led by Ante Pavelić, under the secret sponsorship of Italian fascist Benito Mussolini.
When the Axis Powers invaded, occupied and dismembered the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, they installed Croatian fascists, called the Ustaše, in their own state, which was expanded to include the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
With the help of his friend, General Sladko Kvaternik, Pavelic proclaimed Croatia an independent state on April 15, 1941. Dispatches from Nazi-controlled Hungary described him as President and Kvaternik as his Premier. The new state was composed of Bosnia, Herzegovina and Dalmatia as well as the old Croat province. In a note to Mussolini and Hitler, Pavelic asked for recognition of “the independent state of Croatia.” Both dictators informed the Croat leader that in the name of the Axis powers the recognition sought not only was cheerfully granted but that both powers received “with joy and satisfaction” the news that the Croat people had won their struggle for independence in an hour when the Axis powers had demolished the artificial creation which once was Yugoslavia.
One of Dr. Pavelic’s first acts was the baning of all political parties and the prohibition of all public meetings. To pay his debt of gratitude to Italy, the self-styled chief of the Croat national government convinced his followers that a king of Croatia, preferably an Italian prince, would lead the little state to new heights. The last monarch to wear the crown — golden clover leaves surmounted by a cross and an apple — had been Croatia’s King Petrus, who died in battle in 1097. Since then the state had always been under foreign domination, most of the time Hungarian. On May 17 Pavelic went to Rome to formalize the offer of the throne.
On June 6, 1941 Pavelic was received by Hitler in Berchtesgaden for a two-hour conference. Witnesses at the meeting were Marshal Hermann Goring and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The talk was one of a series of several carefully guarded diplomatic negotiations between Axis and Balkan leaders. The topic of the conversation was never disclosed, but it was believed that Pavelic asked for a guarantee of independence and was promised that Italy would do nothing drastic. Afterward Pavelic presented the Fuhrer with a flag from the Seven Years’ War and a chess set, both formerly belonging to King Frederic the Great.
Fascist Croatia immediately committed a genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma. The raging fury with which the Ustaše movement carried out their own “Final Solution” program of wholesale racial slaughter, expulsion of populations and forced religious conversion shocked even the German Nazis.
Pavelic was quoted as saying: “Croatia gives its full adherence to the principles and reasons which inspire a united front for creation of a new order in the European and Asiatic World. Croatia’s induction into the military alliance of the Axis powers had immediate effect on its Jewish problem.” Dr. Ante Pavelic announced that it would be solved “in a radical way un der the German order.” Also ordered by Hitler to put a “river of blood” between the Serbian and Croatian nations, Pavelic did so.
Though it seems entirely unbelievable that German Nazi (and Italian Fascists) were shocked – there are many books, their memoirs, where they just had to talk about their Croatian allies gruesomeness.
On April 12, 1941, two days after Croatia became an independent state and joined the Axis, an order was published in the Zagreb newspapers requiring all Serbs not natives to the town to leave within twenty-four hours and threatening that anyone hiding Serbs would be shot.
This order, by Dr. Ante Pavelich, head of the Independent State of Croatia, was a prelude to a massacre of Serbs not surpassed for brutality and atrocity in the whole sorrowful history of the human race.
The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces, the Ustashi, the Home Defense [Domobrani], and the regular army.
Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31, 1941, mass arrests were made in Zagreb, Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja-Luka, Travnik, Dubrovnik, Livno, and other towns. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31, when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres.
The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. They continued intermittently until November 1945, by which time practically all the 1,250,000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out.
Croatian Ustaše succeeded in murdering more than third out of two million Serbs that got in their hands in Croatia and Bosnia in World War II. Some 200,000 Serbs were forcefully converted to Catholicism. The entire Roma population of Croatia was wiped out.
Entrance into Jasenovac death camp number 3, with the sign presenting it as a “Labor Service of the Ustasha Defense – Concentration Camp No. III” The coat of arms above is inscribed: “Everything For the Fuhrer, Ustasha Defense.” Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Europe, edition 1995, page 91, entry “Croatia”
Slavko Kvaternik (the second in command to the Croatian WWII fuehrer, Dr Ante Pavelic) explained (on the day of formation of the WWII “Independent State of Croatia”, on April 10, 1941) how pure Croatia should be built – by forcing one third of the Serbs to leave Croatia, one third to convert to Catholicism, and one third to be exterminated.
Soon Ustasha bands initiated a bloody orgy of mass murder of Serbs unfortunate enough not to have converted or left Croatia on time. The enormity of such criminal behavior shocked even the conscience of German commanders, but Pavelic had Hitler’s personal support for such actions which resulted in the loss of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition, the Ustasa regime organized extermination camps, the most notorious one at JASENOVAC where Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and other opponents were massacred in large numbers.
Herman Naubacher, Hitler’s personal assistant for the South-East Europe and the Balkan affairs, in his book “Sonderauftrag Sudosten 1940-1945. Bericht eines fliegenden Diplomate”, Gottingen, 1956, on page 31, writes the following:
“The Orthodox recipe of Ante Pavelic, Ustashi leader and Croatian Fuehrer, reminds one of the religious wars in the bloodest aspects: one-third must become Catholic, one-third must leave the country and one-third must die. The last item was executed. When the leading men of the Ustashi movement are stating that they have slaughtered one million Serbs (including infants, children, women and aged) this in my opinion is a self-praising exaggeration. According to the reports that have reached me, my estimate is that the number of those defenseless slaughtered is some three quarter of a million. [750,000]”
Encyclopedia Britannica had the following sentence when talking about WWII in Yugoslavia:
“…In Bosnia…the Croatian fascists began a massacre of Serbs which, in the whole annals of World War II, was surpassed for savagery only by the mass extermination of Polish Jews.”
Letter written by Privislav Grizogono, a Croat and a Roman Catholic, member of the Yugoslav Diplomatic Corps, Minister to Czechoslovakia, Minister to Poland, addressed to Dr. Aloisius Ste- pinac, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, February 8, 1942. Published in translation by the American Srbobran, a Serbian paper of Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.A., February 24, 1943:
These atrocities do not amount to killings alone. They aim at extermination of everything Serbian: women, children, and aged men, and in terribly wild tortures of the victims. These innocent Serbs were stuck on poles alive, and fires were built on their bare chests. Literally they were roasted alive, burned to death in their homes and churches. Boiling water was poured on live victims before mutilation; their flesh was salted. Eyes were dug out of live victims, ears amputated, noses and tongues lobbed off. The beards and mustaches of priests, together with their skin, were ripped off rudely by knives. They were tied to trucks and dragged behind them. The arms and legs of the victims were broken and their heads were spiked.
They were thrown into the deep cisterns and caves, then literally bombed to pieces. Crowbars smashed their heads. Their children were thrown into fire, scalding water, and fed to the fired lime furnaces. Other children were parted by their legs; their heads crushed against walls and their spines dashed against rocks. These and many other methods of torture were employed against the Serbs – tortures which normal people cannot conceive. Thousands of Serbian bodies floated down the Sava, Drava, and Danube rivers and their tributaries. Many of these bodies bore tags: ‘Direction-Belgrade, to King Peter.’ In one boat on the Sava there was a pile of children’s heads, with a woman’s head (presumably the mother of the children) labeled: “Meat for John’s Market-Belgrade” (meaning meat for the Serbian market).
The case of Milenka Bozinich from Stapandza is a particularly gruesome one: they dug her unborn child out of her with a knife. Then, in Bosnia, a huge pile of roasted heads was found. Utensils full of Serbian blood were also discovered; this was the hot blood of their murdered brothers that other Serbs were forced to drink. Countless women, girls, and children were raped, mothers before daughters and daughters before mothers, while many women, girls, and female children were ushered off to Ustashi garrisons to be used as prostitutes. Rapes were committed even before the altars of the Orthodox Church.
About 3,ooo Serbs were murdered in the Serbian Orthodox Church at Glina, and the massacre of Serbians before the altar at Kladusha with sledge hammers is something never mentioned in history…. There are detailed and official minutes (reports) about these unheard-of crimes. They are so terrible they have shocked even the Germans and Italians. Many pictures were taken of these massacres and torture orgies.
Jasenovac Concentration Camp
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Vol. 2, Page 739, entry: “Jasenovac”:
Jasenovac, the largest concentration and extermination camp in Croatia. Jasenovac was in fact a complex of several subcamps, in close proximity to each other, on bank of the Sava River, about 63 miles (100km) south of Zagreb. The women’s camp of Stara Gradiska, which was farther away, also belonged to the complex. Jasenovac was established in August 1941 and was dismantled only in April 1945. The creation of the camp and its management and supervision were entrusted to Department II of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaska Narodna Sluzba, UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburic, who was personally responsible for everything that happened there.
Croatian ultra-nationalist revisionists who now place the number of dead as low as 40,000 or to a high of 97,000 imply that there were no atrocities committed against the Serbs and Jews for the remaining three years of the war.
There were only 87 survivors of the Jasenovac Concentration Camp, named the “Auschwitz of the Balkans” by most historians. These survivors place the number of dead in excess of 800,000.
One of those survivors was Antun Miletich, a Croatian. Here is his 1948 testimony:
“There is not a pen capable of describing the horror and terror of the atmosphere at Jasenovac. It surpasses any human fantasy. Imagine Hell, the Inquisition, a terror more dreadful than any that ever before existed anywhere, run by bloodthirsty wild animals whose most hidden and disgusting instinct had come to the surface in a way never before seen in human beings — and still you have not said enough.”
Scores of Ustase (Croatian fascists) served in the camp. The cruelest was former priest Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic, who killed scores of prisoners with his own hands.
Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac. The number of Jewish victims was between twenty and twenty-five thousand, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to Auschwitz for extermination began. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia – from Zagreb, from Sarajevo, and from other cities and smaller towns. [….] The acts of murder and of the cruelty in the camp reached their peak in the late summer of 1942, when tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the area of the fighting against the partisans in the Kozara Mountains. Most of the men were killed in Jasenovac. The women were sent for forced labor in Germany, and the children were taken from their mothers, some were murdered and others were dispersed in orphanages throughout the country.
In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustashe blew up all the installations and killed most of the inmates. An escape attempt by the prisoners failed, and only a few survived. The Ustaše interned, tortured and executed men, women and children in Jasenovac. The largest number of victims were Serbs, but other victims included Jews, Romani people, and Croatian resistance members opposed to the regime (i.e., Partisans or their sympathizers, categorized by the Ustaše as “communists”). Upon arrival at the camp, the prisoners were marked with colors, similar to the use of Nazi concentration camp badges: blue for Serbs, and red for communists (non-Serbian resistance members), while Roma had no marks. (This practice was later abandoned.) Most victims were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac.
Serbs constituted the majority of inmates in Jasenovac. In several instances, inmates were immediately killed for confessing their Serbian ethnicity and most considered it to be the reason for their imprisonment. The Serbs were predominantly brought from the Kozara region, where the Ustasa captured areas along with partisan guerrillas. These were brought to camp without sentence, almost destined to immediate liquidation, accelerated via use of a machine-gun.
Jews, being the primary target of Nazi-oriented Genocide, were the second-largest category of victims of Jasenovac.Most of the executions of Jews at Jasenovac occurred prior to August 1942. Thereafter, the NDH started to deport them to Auschwitz. In general, Jews were initially sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia after being gathered in Zagreb, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina after being gathered in Sarajevo. Some, however, were transported directly to Jasenovac from other cities and smaller towns.
Roma in Jasenovac consisted of both Roma and Sinti, who were captured in various areas in Bosnia, especially in the Kozara region. They were brought to Jasenovac and taken to area III-C, under the open sky, in terms of nutrition, hydration, shelter and sanitary that were below the camp’s standards. During the reign of fascist Croatia, the entire Roma population of Croatia would be exterminated.
Anti-fascists consisted of various sorts of political and ideological antagonists of the Ustasa. In general, their treatment was similar to other inmates, although known communists were executed right away, and convicted Ustasa or law-enforcement officials, or others close to the Ustasa in opinion, such as Croatian peasants, were held on beneficial terms and granted amnesty after serving a duration of time. The Ustasa also imprisoned various sorts of other ethnicities: Ukrainians, Romanians,Slovenes and Montenegrians.
The living conditions in the camp evidenced the severity typical in Nazi death camps: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, and cruel behavior by the Ustaše guards. Also, as in many camps, conditions would be improved temporarily during visits by delegations – such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944 – and reverted after the delegation left.
Food: Again, typical of Nazi death camps, the diet of inmates at Jasenovac was insufficient to sustain life: The sorts of food they consumed changed during the camp’s existence. In camp Brocice, inmates were given a “soup” made of hot water with starch for breakfast, and beans for lunch and dinner (served at 6:00, 12:00 and 21:00). Food in Camp No. III was initially better, consisting of potatoes instead of beans; however, in January[when?] the diet was changed to a single daily serving of thin “turnip soup”. By the end of the year, the diet had been changed again, to three daily portions of thin gruel made of water and starch. Food changed repeatedly thereafter.
Water: Jasenovac was even more severe than most death camps in one respect: a general lack of potable water. Prisoners were forced to drink water from the Sava river, which was contaminated with ren (horseradish).
Accommodations: In the first camps, Brocice and Krapje, inmates slept in standard concentration-camp barracks, with three tiers of bunks. In Camp No. III, which housed some 3,000 inmates, inmates initially slept in the attics of the workshops, in an open depot designated as a railway “tunnel”, or simply in the open. A short time later, eight barracks were erected. Inmates slept in six of these barracks, while the other two were used as a “clinic” and a “hospital”, where ill inmates were concentrated to die or be liquidated.
Forced labor: As in all concentration camps, Jasenovac inmates were forced daily to perform some 11 hours of hard labor, under the eye of the Ustasa captors, who would execute any inmate for the most trivial reasons, allegedly for “sabotaging labor”. The labor section was overseen by Ustasas Hinko Dominik Picilli and Tihomir Kordic. Picillii would personally lash inmates to work harder. He divided the “Jasenovac labor force” into 16 groups, including groups of construction, brickworks, metal-works, agriculture, etc. The inmates would perish from the hard work. Work in the brickworks was hard. Blacksmith work was also done, as the inmates forged knives and other weapons for the Ustasa. Dike construction work was most feared.
Sanitation: Inside the camp, squalor and lack of sanitation reigned: clutter, blood, vomit and bodies filled the barracks, which were also full of pests and of the foul scent of the often overflowing latrine bucket. Due to exposure to the elements, inmates suffered from impaired health leading to epidemics of typhus, typhoid, malaria, pleuritis, influenza, dysentery and diphtheria. During pauses in labor (5:00-6:00; 12:00-13:00, 17:00-20:00) inmates had to relieve themselves at open latrines, which consisted of big pits dug in open fields, covered in planks. Inmates would tend to fall inside, and often died. The Ustase encouraged this by either having internees separate the planks, or by physically drowning inmates inside. The pit would overflow during floods and rains, and was also drained into the lake, from which inmate drinking water was taken. The inmate’s rags and blankets were too thin to prevent exposure to frost, as was the shelter of the barracks. The clothes and blankets were rarely and poorly cleansed, as inmates were only allowed to wash them briefly in the lake’s waters once a month save during winter time, when the lake froze. Then, a sanitation device was erected in a warehouse, where a few clothes were insufficiently boiled.
Lack of personal possessions: The inmates were stripped of their belongings and personal attire. As inmates, only ragged prison-issue clothing was given to them. In winter, inmates were given thin “rain-coats” and they were allowed to make light sandals. Inmates were given a personal food bowl, designated to contain 0.4 ltrs of “soup” they were fed with. Inmates whose bowl was missing (stolen by another inmate to defecate in) would receive no food. During delegation visits, inmates were given bowls twice as large with spoons. Additionally, at such times, inmates were given colored tags.
Anxiety: The fear of death, and the paradox of a situation in which the living dwell next to the dead, had great impact on the internees. Basically, an inmate’s life in a concentration camp can be viewed in the optimal way when looking at it in three stages: arrival to camp, living inside it, and the release. The first stage consisted of the shock caused by the hardships in transit to camp. The Ustase would fuel this shock by murdering a number of inmates on arrival and by temporarily housing new-arrivals in warehouses, attics, in the train tunnel and outdoors. After the inmates grew familiar with the life in camp, they would enter the second and most critical phase: living through the anguish of death, and the sorrow, hardships and abuse.
The peril of death was most prominent in “public performances for public punishment” or selections, when inmates would be lined in groups and individuals would be randomly pointed out to receive punishment of death before the rest. The Ustase would intensify this by prolonging the process, patrolling about and asking questions, gazing at inmates, choosing them and then refrain and point out another.
As inmates, people could react to the Ustase crimes in an active or passive manner. The activists would form resistance movements and groups, steal food, plot escapes and revolts, contacts with the outside world. The passive inmates, the majority, would react by attempt to survive, to go through the day unharmed. This is not “going in line to slaughter”, but rather another approach to survival, which deprived the Ustase of the possibility of completely dehumanizing the inmates.
However, some of these inmates became in this way utterly primitive, as their whole life revolved around following orders and eating a bowl of soup. Thus they became “musselmans”: physically appearing as living skeletons, but mentally stripped of their humanity beyond hope of salvation. All inmates suffered from psychological phenomena to some extent: obsessive thoughts of food, paranoia, delusions, day-dreams, lack of self-control. Some inmates reacted with attempts at documenting the atrocities, such as Nikola Nikolic, Djuro Schawrtz and Ilija Ivanovic, who all tried to memorize and even write of events, dates and details. Such deeds were perilous, since writing was punishable by death and tracking dates was hard. “King of the Cutthroats”
On the night of 29 August 1942, the prison guards made bets among themselves as to who could liquidate the largest number of inmates. One of the guards, Petar Brzica, boasted cutting the throats of about 1,360 new arrivals.
Other participants who confessed to participating in the bet included Ante Zrinusic, who killed some 600 inmates, and Mile Friganovic, who gave a detailed and consistent report of the incident. Friganovic admitted to having killed some 1,100 inmates.
He specifically recounted his torture of an old man named Vukasin; he attempted to compel the man to bless Ante Pavelic, which the old man refused to do, although Friganovic cut off his ears, nose and tongue after each refusal. Ultimately, he cut out the old man’s eyes, tore out his heart, and slashed his throat. This incident was witnessed by Dr. Nikola Nikolic.
In the concentration camp at Jasenovac, on the night of August 29, 1942, orders were issued for executions. Bets were made as to who could liquidate the largest number of inmates. Peter Brzica cut the throats of 1,360 prisoners with a specially sharp butcher’s knife. Having been proclaimed the prize-winner of the competition, he was elected King of the Cut-troats. A gold watch, a silver service, and a roasted sucking pig and wine were his other rewards.
The case of Peter Brzica is undoubtedly one of the most incredible in this category. Brzica was a law student and an ardent member of the foremast Catholic organization called the Catholic Crusaders. Srbosjek
Brzica and others used a knife that became known as srbosjek, meaning “Serb-cutter” (“cutthroat”). Its agricultural purpose was to make it easier for the field workers to cut wheat sheaves open before threshing them.
Systematic extermination of prisoners
Besides sporadic killings and deaths due to the poor living conditions, many inmates arriving at Jasenovac were scheduled for systematic liquidation. An important criterion for selection was the duration of a prisoner’s anticipated detention. Strong men capable of labor and sentenced to less than three years of incarceration were allowed to live. All inmates with indeterminate sentences or sentences of three years or more were immediately scheduled for liquidation, regardless of their fitness. Systematic extermination varied both as to place and form. Some of the executions were mechanical, following Nazi methodology, while others were manual.
The mechanical means of extermination included:
Cremation: The Ustase cremated living inmates, who were sometimes drugged and sometimes fully awake, as well as corpses. The first cremations took place in the brick factory ovens in January, 1942.
Engineer Hinko Dominik Picilli perfected this method by converting seven of the kiln’s furnace chambers into more sophisticated crematories..; Crematories were also placed in Gradina, across the Sava River. According to the State Commission, however, “there is no information that it ever went into operation.”. Later testimony, however, say the Gradina crematory had become operational. Some bodies were buried rather than cremated, as shown by exhumation of bodies late in the war.
Gassing and poisoning: The Ustase, in following the Nazi example, as set in Auschwitz and Sajmiste, tried to employ poisonous gas to kill inmates that arrived in Stara-Gradiska. They first tried to gas the women and children that arrived from camp Djakovo with gas vans that Simo Klaic called “green Thomas”. The method was later replaced with stationary gas-chambers with Zyklon B and sulfur dioxide.
Manual methods, the Ustase’s favorites, were liquidation that took part in utilizing sharp or blunt craftsmen tools: knives, saws, hammers, et cetera. These liquidations took place in various locations:
Granik: Granik was a ramp used to unload goods of Sava boats. In winter 1943-44, season agriculture laborers became unemployed, while large transports of new internees arrived and the need for liquidation, in light of the expected Axis defeat, were large. Therefore, “Maks” Luburic devised a plan to utilize the crane as a gallows on which slaughter would be committed, so that the bodies could be dumped into the stream of the flowing river. In the autumn, the Ustase NCO’s came in every night for some 20 days, with lists of names of people who were incarcerated in the warehouse, stripped, chained, beaten and then taken to the “Granik”, where weights were tied to the wire that was bent on their arms, and their intestines and neck were slashed, and they were thrown into the river with a blow of a blunt tool in the head. The method was later enhanced, so that inmates were tied in pairs, back to back, their bellies were cut before they were tossed into the river alive.
Gradina: The Ustase utilized empty areas in the vicinity of the villages Donja Gradina and Ustice, where they encircled an area marked for slaughter and mass graves in wire.
The Ustase slew victims with knives or smashed their skulls with mallets. When gypsies arrived in the camp, they did not undergo selection, but were rather concentrated under the open skies at a section of camp known as “III-C”. From there the gypsies were taken to liquidation in Gradina, working on the dike (men) or in the corn fields in Ustice (women) in between liquidations. Thus Gradina and Ustica became Roma mass grave sites. Furthermore, small groups of gypsies were utilized as gravediggers that actually participated in the slaughter at Gradina. Thus the extermination at the site grew until it became the main killing-ground in Jasenovac. Grave sites were also located in Ustica and in Draksenic.
Mlaka and Jablanac: Two sites used as collection and labor camps for the women and children in camps III and V, but also as places where many of these women and children, as well as other groups, were liquidated at the Sava bank in between the two locations.
Velika Kustarica: According to the state-commission, as far as 50,000 people were killed here in the winter amid 1941 and 1942. There is more evidence suggesting that killings took place there at that time and afterwards.
Nazi Croatia Today
Today’s Independent State of Croatia is the copy of the Nazi puppet state of some fifty years ago. The country has the same: name, flag, national emblem, national anthem, currency, uniforms (black shirts).
Jewish leaders were UNANIMOUS in saying they saw worring PARALLELS BETWEEN THE NAZI AND PRO-NAZI MASSACRES OF 50 YEARS AGO and the unease of Jews in Croatia under strongly nationalist regime in the break away republic TODAY… “What worries us is that those in power in Croatia NOW are largely THE SAME AS DURING THE NAZI ERA… In some cases THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME PEOPLE, now in their seventies and BACK from exile under the Communists. In other cases, they are the CHILDREN OF THE USTASHA… THEY WEAR *THE SAME BLACK SHIRTS*, the same black trousers, many carry THE SAME “SERBO-SEKS” [KNIVES FOR THE SERBS]…” said Dr. Klara Mandic, a senior Jewish community leader.
— Phil Davidson [British] The Independent October 21, 1991, page 10 “War raises old anxieties for Croatian Jews”
The Croatian government has revived many of the paraphenalia of the Nazi puppet regime headed by Ante Pavelic in the early 1940s. STREETS AND SQUARES HAVE BEEN RENAMED AFTER USTASHA HEROES.
Plans are well under way to REINSTATE the kuna, THE CURRENCY OF THE FASCIST STATE. THE CROATIAN FLAG ONCE AGAIN SPORTS SAHOVNICA, THE RED AND WHITE CHEQUERED SHIELD WHICH SYMBOLIZED PAVELIC’S STATE – symbol which some… equate with a reunited Germany flying the swastika…
It is less easy to explain that lack of international reaction to the RESURGENT FASCISM *SO EVIDENT* in the building of the new nation. British suggestions of economic sanctions on account of Croatia’s military involvement in Bosnia have been repeatedly blocked by Germany… Germany is siding with Croatia… former partners in tourism and GENOCIDE. On the American side, THERE ARE NONE SO BLIND AS THOSE WHO WILL NOT SEE. SWASTIKAS, BLACK UNIFORMS, *RAPE AND PILLAGE* fade into insignificanse beside the demonic image the State Department has built for the Serbs.
— Kenneth Roberts [British] THE SPECTATOR March 19 1994, pages 16, 17, 18 “UNRECONSTRUCTED NAZISM ON DISPLAY – The Germans warmly support the Croats. Kenneth Roberts says this reuniting of Second World War allies is distasteful”
Encyclopedia Britannica, Edition 1943, Vol 23, page 923 (Yugoslavia and war) describes the flag of the Croatian Ustashe: “The new flag of Croatia consists of three broad stripes, red, white and blue, and superimposed upon them a shield of checkered red and white squares”.
Open then any new book that shows the international flags (or stroll in front of the United Nations and check the flags there) and you will easily recognize the Ustasha flag of the Nazi time.
NAZI NOSTALGIA IN CROATIA
by Diana Johnstone Sept. 6, 1999
[ (c) Diana Johnstone, 1999. This article may be distributed non-commercially by any method including reposting on websites, email and printing, but please reproduce it in full including this note. For commercial distribution contact http://www.emperors-clothes.com to make arrangements.]
When I visited Croatia three years ago, the book most prominently displayed in the leading bookstores of the capital city Zagreb was a new edition of the notorious anti-Semitic classic, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Next came the memoires of the World War II Croatian fascist Ustashe dictator Ante Pavelic, responsible for the organized genocide of Serbs, Jews and Romany (gypsies) that began in 1941, that is, even before the German Nazi “final solution”.
However, if the Croatian fascists actually led, rather than followed, the German Nazis down the path of genocide, that doesn’t mean they have forgotten their World War II benefactors. After all, it was thanks to Hitler’s invasion of Yugoslavia that the “Independent State of Croatia” was set up in April 1941, with Bosnia-Herzegovina (whose population was mostly Serb at the time) as part of its territory. And the hit song of 1991, when Croatia once again declared its independence from Yugoslavia and began driving out Serbs, was “Danke Deutschland” in gratitude to Germany’s strong diplomatic support for Zagreb’s unnegotiated secession.
In the West, of course, one will quickly object that the Germany of today is not the Germany of 1941. True enough. But in Zagreb, with a longer historical view, they are so much the same that visiting Germans are sometimes embarrassed when Croats enthusiastically welcome them with a raised arm and a Nazi “Heil!” greeting.
So it should be no surprise that this year’s best seller in Croatia is none other than a new edition of “Mein Kampf”. This is not a critical edition, mind you, but a reverently faithful reproduction of the original text by that great European leader, benefactor of Croatian nationalism and leader of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
The magazine “Globus” reported that “Mein Kampf” is selling like hotcakes in all segments of Croatian society. For those who want to read more, there is a new book entitled “The Protocols of Zion, the Jews and Adolf Hitler” by Mladen Schwartz, leader of the Croatian neo-Nazi party New Right, and “Talks with Hitler” by the Fuhrer’s aide Herman Rauschning, as well as various other memoires celebrating the Ustashe state whose violent massacres of Serbs shocked the Italian fascist allies and even German diplomatic observers at the time.
The dissident Croatian writer Predrag Matvejevic, who has Italian citizenship, has sent the Rijeka daily “Novi List” an open letter to the Association of Croatian Writers and the Croatian center of the International PEN club denouncing their failure to protest at this promotion of the absolute worst of racist Nazi propaganda. “Passing through the streets of Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik and other cities in Croatia, countless Croatian citizens whose parents took part in the anti-fascist Partisan struggle are ashamed to see the works and photographs of Hitler and other Nazi and Ustashe criminals displayed in bookshop indows,” he wrote. “Their publication is a disgrace to Croatia and its culture”. This is “no accident”, he said, “in Tudjman’s Croatia.” For this is the same regime, he noted, that has allowed the destruction of thousands of monuments to the victims of fascism, from one end of Croatia to the other, and in which mass is celebrated non-stop in honor of the Ustashe “fuhrer” Pavelic in the churches of Split and Zagreb, the Italian daily “Il Manifesto” reported on September 3.
In another report in “Il Manifesto”, Giacomo Scotti reported from Zagreb that the terrorist campaign by nationalist bands led by the neofascist “Croatian Party of Rights” has been stepping up its pogroms against the small number of Serbs now living in the Krajina region. The overwhelmingly Serb population was driven from the Krajina by the U.S.-backed “Operation Storm” in August 1995. Officially, under heavy international pressure, the Croatian government has allowed some Serbs to come back, mostly old farmers. However, on August 25, the Croatian Supreme Court denied local tribunals the right to hear complaints from citizens who had not been allowed to enter their property, thus encouraging lawlessness.
With the complicity of the authorities, armed bands have been breaking into the few homes reoccupied by their Serb owners, beating and threatening old people and devastating their farms, chopping down trees and destroying crops to force them to leave. These facts are contained in two letters to the Croatian government from the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
By now, however, it is abundantly clear to everyone that crimes of intimidation, physical violence, murder, robbery, vandalism or “ethnic cleansing” are of no interest to Western governments, to international media or to any court in the world so long as the victims are Serbs.
Back From the Grave
By A.M. Rosenthal The New York Times, OP-ED, April 15, 1997 (for ‘fair use’ only)
Mr. Rosenthal was Editor of The New York Times for many years.
In World War II, Hitler had no executioners more willing, no ally more passionate, than the Fascists of Croatia.
They are returning, 50 years later, from what should have been their eternal grave, the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Western allies who dug that grave with the bodies of their servicemen have the power to stop them, but do not.
Croatian Fascists, known as the Ustashe, fought alongside German troops against Serbs, Muslims and Croats trying desperately, and vainly, to block the Nazi conquest of Yugoslavia. In 1941 Hitler rewarded Croatian Fascists by carving out a Croatian state and letting them run it. They did not let him down.
The Ustashe slaughtered Serbs, Jews and non-Fascist Croats — and with such glee and such cruelty that their name became a terror and stench throughout Europe.
Croatia disappeared with Hitler’s annihilation in 1945. A half-century later the West created a new Croatia, by recognizing the secession from Yugoslavia of Croatian nationalists, led by one Franjo Tudjman.
Not all were Fascists, by any means, but now the Ustashe is running in elections, brutalizing its enemies — Croat, Serb or Jew. Mr. Tudjman is giving them what they need most — presence, and the rewriting of history.
Two documents are a short course on the Ustashe. To honor the murdered and protect the future, read them. From pages 323-328 of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (Macmillan): ”More than a half million Serbs were killed, a quarter million expelled, 200,000 forced to convert to the Catholicism of the Croatian Fascists.
”Thousands were hurled from mountain tops, others were beaten to death, entire villages were burned down, women raped, people sent on death marches in the middle of winter, still others starved to death.”
Jews? Ante Pavelic, the Ustashe leader, announced that the Jews would be ”liquidated within a very short time.” They were, most of the 40,000.
But some chosen as victims did survive. Study the picture of the children after the camps were freed. They wear only bones and tightened skin. Serbs? Jews?
The second document is a fine piece of journalism from Croatia by the New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges (April 12) about the rebirth of Fascism there — the bullying, the sieg-ing and heil-ing in Croatian, the whole nastiness. Most important is the increasing work of Mr. Tudjman — a longtime Holocaust denier — to recast the Fascists as patriots and founders of the new Croatia.
This man likes to talk about how he himself fought German soldiers. Now a major political, military and financial beneficiary of the West, he permits pictures of Fascists dead and alive to be plastered around the country. He gives special status and pensions to Ustashe veterans. He tried to get the body of the killer-chief Pavelic returned from Spain, where he had fled, and buried with honor in Zagreb — like reburying Himmler under the linden. The family objected. So he brought back another Ustashe killer, this one alive, and made him a member of Parliament.
Western recognition of Mr. Tudjman’s Croatia was pushed hardest by Germany despite warnings from Bosnian Muslims that the timing could set off war among themselves, Serbs and Croats.
Franjo Tudjman is now ours. The West cannot evade responsibility for the rebirth of Fascism in Croatia. Peter Galbraith, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, told me he had denounced Croatian ethnic cleansing of Serbs last year, and considered the glorification of the Ustashe an insult to Croats who fought Nazis, and to American veterans of World War II.
Mr. Tudjman and his Fascist proteges brush off ambassadorial protest with insult. Would he brush off the Presidents of the U.S. and France, the British Prime Minister — or the Chancellor of Germany — if they took action to stop Croatian Fascism? Such as denouncing the Tudjman buildup of the Ustashe, then reducing Western representation to sub-ambassadorial and slashing economic help to Croatia — the whole list?
That won’t change the Ustashe or improve Mr. Tudjman’s sickness of body and character. But it could force him to end Fascist rehabilitation work. Or has the West become so sick itself that it will permit Croatian Fascism to live on beyond the grave?
Video: Jasenovac Death Camp
In 1983, Croatian director Lordan Zafranović made a harrowing documentary about Jasenovac, the biggest death camp operated by the 1941-1945 “Independent State of Croatia.”
The film, “Jasenovac: Blood and Ashes” was suppressed during the 1990s, following the rise of Tudjman’s nationalist government. Zafranović himself was blacklisted and lived in exile in Prague.
- The film has recently become available on YouTube, with English subtitles: