The USTAšE (pronounced ), also known as USTASHE, USTASHAS, and
USTASHI, were members of the USTAšA – CROATIAN REVOLUTIONARY
MOVEMENT (Croatian : Ustaša – Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret), a
Croatian fascist , racist , ultranationalist and terrorist
organization , active, in its original form, between 1929 and 1945.
Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of
Jews , Roma as
well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during
World War II
World War II .
The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism , Roman
Croatian nationalism . The
Ustaše supported the
creation of a
Greater Croatia that would span the
Drina River and
extend to the border of
Belgrade . The movement emphasized the need
for a racially "pure"
Croatia and promoted genocide against Serbs,
Romani people , and persecution of anti-fascist or dissident
Ustaše were fiercely Roman Catholic, identifying it with
Croatian nationalism. They declared that the Catholic and Muslim
faiths were the religions of the Croatian people. They claimed the
Islam of the
Bosniaks was a religion which "keeps true the blood of
When it was founded in 1930, as USTAšA – CROATIAN REVOLUTIONARY
ORGANIZATION (Croatian : Ustaša – Hrvatska revolucionarna
organizacija), it was a nationalist organization that sought to create
an independent Croatian state. When the
Ustaše came to power in the
NDH, a quasi-protectorate established by Fascist
Italy and Nazi
World War II
World War II , its military wings became the Army of
Independent State of Croatia and the
Ustaše militia (Croatian :
The movement functioned as a terrorist organization before World War
II but in April 1941, they were appointed to rule a part of Axis
-occupied Yugoslavia as the
Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which
has been described as both an Italian-German quasi-protectorate, and
as a puppet state of
Nazi Germany .
The NDH collaborated with the Italian and German occupation forces in
Yugoslavia in fighting an increasingly unsuccessful campaign against
the resistance forces, the
Yugoslav Partisans , who were recognized in
late November 1943 as the military of the Allied Yugoslav state. As
German forces withdrew from Yugoslavia in 1944–1945, the Ustaše
organized an exodus from the country, which led to the Bleiburg
* 1 Name
* 2 Ideology
* 2.1 Ideological roots
* 2.2 Political programme and main agendas
* 3 History
* 3.1 Before
World War II
World War II
World War II
World War II
* 3.4 After the war
* 4 Ethnic and religious persecution
* 4.1 Concentration camps
* 5 Connections with the
* 6 Structure
* 7 Symbols
* 8 Use by Serbian nationalists
* 9 Modern usage of the term "Ustaša"
* 10 In popular culture
* 11 See also
* 12 References
* 13 External links
The word ustaša (plural: ustaše) is derived from the intransitive
verb ustati (Croatian for rise up). "Pučki-ustaša" (German :
Landsturm ) was a military rank in the Imperial Croatian Home Guard
(1868–1918). The same term was the name of Croatian third-class
infantry regiments (German :
Landsturm regiments) during World War One
1914–1918. Another variation of the word ustati is ustanik (plural:
ustanici) which means an insurgent , or a rebel. The name ustaša did
not have fascist connotations during their early years in the Kingdom
of Yugoslavia as the term "ustat" was itself used in
denote the insurgents from the Herzegovinian rebellion of 1875. The
full original name of the organization appeared in April 1931 as the
Ustaša – Hrvatska revolucionarna organizacija or UHRO (Ustaša –
Croatian revolutionary organization); in 1933 it was renamed the
Ustaša – Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret (Ustaša – Croatian
revolutionary movement), a name it kept until World War II.
One of the major ideological influences on the Croatian nationalism
Ustaše was 19th century Croatian activist
Ante Starčević ,
an advocate of Croatian unity and independence, who was both
Habsburg and anti-Serbian in outlook.
He envisioned the creation of a
Greater Croatia that would include
territories inhabited by
Serbs , and
Slovenes , considering
Serbs to be
Croats who had been converted to
Orthodox Christianity , while considering the
Slovenes to be "mountain
Croats". Starčević argued that the large Serb presence in
territories claimed by a
Greater Croatia was the result of recent
settlement, encouraged by
Habsburg rulers, and the influx of groups
Vlachs who took up
Orthodox Christianity and identified
themselves as Serbs. Starčević admired
Bosniaks because in his view
Croats who had adopted
Islam in order to preserve the
economic and political autonomy of Bosnia and
Croatia under the rule
Ottoman Empire .
Ante Pavelić and Italy's Duce
Benito Mussolini on 18 May 1941 in
Rome . The
Ustaše were heavily
influenced by Italian
Fascism and politically supported by Fascist
Adolf Hitler with Pavelić at the
Berchtesgaden , Germany. The
Ustaše increasingly came
under the influence of
Nazism after the founding of the NDH in 1941.
Ustaše used Starčević's theories to promote the annexation of
Croatia and recognized
Croatia as having two
major ethnocultural components: Catholics and Muslims. The Ustaše
sought to represent Starčević as being connected to their views.
Ustaše promoted the theories of Dr
Milan Šufflay , who is
believed to have claimed that
Croatia had been "one of the strongest
ramparts of Western civilization for many centuries", which he claimed
had been lost through its union with Serbia when the nation of
Yugoslavia was formed in 1918. Šufflay was killed in
Zagreb in 1931
by government supporters.
Ustaše accepted the 1935 thesis by a Franciscan friar, Father
Krunoslav Draganović , who claimed many Catholics in southern
Herzegovina had been converted to
Orthodox Christianity in the 16th
and 17th centuries, in order to justify a policy of forcible
conversion of Orthodox Christians in the area to Catholicism.
Ustaše were heavily influenced by
Nazism and fascism .
Pavelić's position of
Poglavnik was based on the similar positions of
Duce held by
Benito Mussolini and
Führer held by
Adolf Hitler . The
Ustaše, like fascists, promoted a corporatist economy. Pavelić and
Ustaše were allowed sanctuary in
Italy by Mussolini after being
exiled from Yugoslavia. Pavelić had been in negotiations with Fascist
Italy since 1927 that included advocating a territory-for-sovereignty
swap in which he would tolerate
Italy annexing its claimed territory
Dalmatia in exchange for
Italy supporting the sovereignty of an
Mussolini's support of the
Ustaše was based on pragmatic
considerations, such as maximizing Italian influence in the Balkans.
After 1937, with the weakening of French influence in Europe following
Germany's remilitarization of the Rhineland and with the rise of a
quasi-fascist government in Yugoslavia under
Milan Stojadinović ,
Mussolini abandoned support for the
Ustaše from 1937–39 and sought
to improve relations with Yugoslavia, fearing that continued hostility
towards Yugoslavia would result in Yugoslavia entering Germany's
sphere of influence. The collapse of the quasi-fascist Stojadinović
regime resulted in
Italy restoring its support for the Ustaše, whose
aim was to create an independent
Croatia in personal union with Italy.
However, distrust of the
Ustaše grew. Mussolini's son-in-law and
Italian foreign minister Count
Galeazzo Ciano noted in his diary that
Duce is indignant with Pavelić, because he claims that the
Croats are descendants of the Goths. This will have the effect of
bringing them into the German orbit".
Nazi Germany initially didn't support an independent Croatia, nor did
it support the Ustaše, with Hitler stressing the importance of a
"strong and united Yugoslavia". Nazi officials, including Hermann
Göring , wanted Yugoslavia stable and officially neutral during the
Germany could continue to securely gain Yugoslavia's raw
material exports. The Nazis grew aggravated with the Ustaše, among
them Reichsfuhrer SS
Heinrich Himmler , who was dissatisfied with the
lack of full compliance by the NDH to the Nazis' agenda of
extermination of the Jews, as the
Jews who converted
to Catholicism to be recognized as "honorary Croats", thus exempt from
POLITICAL PROGRAMME AND MAIN AGENDAS
In 1933 the
Ustaše presented "The Seventeen Principles " that formed
the official ideology of the movement. The Principles stated the
uniqueness of the Croatian nation, promoted collective rights over
individual rights and declared that people who were not Croat by
"blood " would be excluded from political life.
Those considered "undesirables" were subjected to mass murder. These
principles called for the creation of a new economic system that would
be neither capitalist nor communist and which emphasized the
importance of the Roman
Catholic Church and the patriarchial family as
means to maintain social order and morality. (The name given by
modern historian to this particular aspect of
Ustaše ideology varies;
"national Catholicism ", "political Catholicism " and "Catholic
Croatism" have been proposed among others.) In power, the Ustaše
banned contraception and tightened laws against blasphemy .
Joseph Deniker 's map of European races (1899) identified "Dinarics"
as the dominant group in parts of
Central Europe , northern
the northwest Balkans.
Ustaše accepted that
Croats are part of the
Dinaric race , but
rejected the idea that
Croats are primarily Slavic, claiming they are
primarily descended from Germanic roots with the
Goths . The Ustaše
believed that a government must naturally be strong and authoritarian.
The movement opposed parliamentary democracy for being "corrupt" and
Bolshevism for interfering in family life and the economy
and for their materialism . The
Ustaše considered competing political
parties and elected parliaments to be harmful to its own interests.
Ustaše recognized both
Roman Catholicism and
Islam as the
national religions of the Croatian people but initially rejected
Orthodox Christianity as being incompatible with their objectives.
Ustaše emphasized religious themes, it stressed that
duty to the nation took precedence over religious custom. In power,
Ustaše banned the use of the term "Serbian Orthodox faith",
requiring "Greek-Eastern faith" in its place. The
Old Catholics who did not recognize papal infallibility .
Orthodox Christian churches were plundered and burnt during Ustaše
Ustaše altered their stance towards the Orthodox faith in
August 1941 when the NDH allowed those Orthodox
Serbs who held no
political association with Serbia to be permitted to attain Croatian
citizenship and be declared Aryans. On 2 July 1942 the Croatian
Orthodox Church was founded, and Orthodoxy thus became one of
Croatia's state religions.
Ustaše attached conditions to the Croatian citizenship of
Muslims, such as asserting that a Muslim who supported Yugoslavia
would not be considered a Croat nor a citizen but would instead be
considered a "Muslim Serb" who could be denied property and
Ustaše claimed that such "Muslim Serbs" had to earn
Croat status. The
Jews who practiced
authorized Jewish converts to Catholicism to be recognized as Croatian
citizens and be given honorary Aryan citizenship that allowed them to
be reinstated at the jobs from which they had previously been
Ustaše supported the creation of a corporatist
economy. The movement believed that natural rights existed to
private property and ownership over small-scale means of production
free from state control. Armed struggle, revenge and terrorism were
glorified by the Ustaše.
Ustaše introduced widespread measures, to which many Croats
themselves fell victim.
Jozo Tomasevich in his book War and Revolution
in Yugoslavia: 1941-1945, states that "never before in history had
Croats been exposed to such legalized administrative, police and
judicial brutality and abuse as during the Ustasha regime." Decrees
enacted by the regime formed the basis that allowed it to get rid of
all unwanted employees in state and local government and in state
enterprises, the "unwanted" being all Jews,
Croats who were all thrown out except for some
deemed specifically needed by the government. This would leave a
multitude of jobs to be filled by Ustashas and pro-Ustasha adherents,
and would lead to government jobs being filled by people with no
BEFORE WORLD WAR II
Map of a
Greater Croatia in a 26 October 1939 article of the
Hrvatski Domobran newspaper associated with the Ustaše
organization of the same name,
Hrvatski Domobran , which sought
Croatian diaspora emigrants in
Argentina and elsewhere.
The article rejected the
Cvetković–Maček Agreement and the borders
it provided to
Croatia as insufficient.
In October 1928, after the assassination of leading Croatian
Stjepan Radić ,
Croatian Peasant Party President in the
Yugoslav Assembly by radical Montenegrin politician
Puniša Račić ,
a youth group named the Croat Youth Movement was founded by Branimir
Jelić at the University of
Zagreb . A year later
Ante Pavelić was
invited by the 21-year-old Jelić into the organization as a junior
member. A related movement, the Domobranski Pokret—which had been
the name of the legal Croatian army in
publication of Hrvatski Domobran, a newspaper dedicated to Croatian
national matters. The
Hrvatski Domobran to the United
States to garner support for them from
Croatian-Americans . The
organization around the Domobran tried to engage with and radicalize
moderate Croats, using Radić's assassination to stir up emotions
within the divided country. By 1929 two divergent Croatian political
streams had formed: those who supported Pavelić's view that only
violence could secure Croatia's national interests, and the Croatian
Peasant Party, led then by
Vladko Maček , successor to Stjepan
Radić, which had much greater support among Croats.
Various members of the Croatian
Party of Rights
Party of Rights contributed to the
writing of the Domobran, until around Christmas 1928 when the
newspaper was banned by authorities of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats
Slovenes . In January 1929 the king banned all national parties,
and the radical wing of the
Party of Rights
Party of Rights was exiled, including
Pavelić, Jelić and Gustav Perčec. This group was later joined by
several other Croatian exiles. On 20 April 1929 Pavelić and others
co-signed a declaration in
Sofia, Bulgaria , with members of the
Macedonian National Committee, asserting that they would pursue "their
legal activities for the establishment of human and national rights,
political freedom and complete independence for both
Macedonia". The Court for the Preservation of the State in Belgrade
sentenced Pavelić and Perčec to death on 17 July 1929. The exiles
started organizing support for their cause among the Croatian diaspora
in Europe, as well as North and South America. In January 1932 they
named their revolutionary organization "Ustaša". In November 1932 ten
Ustaše, led by
Andrija Artuković and supported by four local
sympathisers, attacked a gendarme outpost at Brušani in the Lika
Velebit area, in an apparent attempt to intimidate the Yugoslav
authorities. The incident has sometimes been termed the "Velebit
uprising ". Play media
Universal Newsreel 's film about the
assassination of Alexander I.
Eugen Dido Kvaternik organized the assassination of King Alexander I
by a Bulgarian mercenary,
Vlado Chernozemski , a member of the
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). Soon after the
assassination, all organizations related to the
Ustaše as well as the
Hrvatski Domobran, which continued as a civil organization, were
banned throughout Europe. Pavelić and Kvaternik were detained in
Italy from October 1934 until late March 1936. After March 1937, when
Italy and Yugoslavia signed a pact of friendship,
Ustaše and their
activities were banned, which attracted the attention of young Croats,
especially university students, who would become sympathizers or
members. In February 1939 two returnees from detention,
Mile Budak and
Ivan Oršanić, became editors of Hrvatski narod, known in English as
The Croatian Nation, a pro-
WORLD WAR II
Axis Powers invaded Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941. Vladko Maček,
the leader of the
Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) which was the most
influential party in
Croatia at the time, rejected German offers to
lead the new government. On 10 April the most senior home-based
Slavko Kvaternik , took control of the police in
in a radio broadcast that day proclaimed the formation of the
Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). The
name of the state was an attempt to capitalise on the Croat struggle
for independence. Maček issued a statement that day, calling on all
Croatians to cooperate with the new authorities. A unit of
Meanwhile Pavelić and several hundred
Ustaše left their camps in
Italy for Zagreb, where he declared a new government on 16 April 1941.
He accorded himself the title of "Poglavnik"—a Croatian
approximation to "Führer". The
Independent State of Croatia was
declared on Croatian "ethnic and historical territory", what is today
Istria ), Bosnia and
Herzegovina , Syrmia
Bay of Kotor . However, a few days after the declaration of
Ustaše were forced to sign the Treaty of Rome
where they surrendered part of
Šibenik , Split ,
Mljet and part of
Konavle and the
Bay of Kotor to
Italy . De facto control over this
territory varied for the majority of the war, as the Partisans grew
more successful, while the Germans and Italians increasingly exercised
direct control over areas of interest. The Germans and Italians split
the NDH into two zones of influence, one in the southwest controlled
by the Italians and the other in the northeast controlled by the
Germans. As a result, the NDH has been described as "an Italian-German
quasi-protectorate". In September 1943, after Italian capitulation,
the NDH annexed the whole territory which was annexed by Italy
according to Treaty of
Meeting in Bosnia between representatives of the
Independent State of Croatia officers (including the
and the Croatian Home Guard )
The Army of the
Independent State of Croatia was composed of
enlistees who did not participate in
Ustaše activities. The Ustaše
Militia was organised in 1941 into five (later 15) 700-man battalions,
two railway security battalions and the elite Black Legion and
Poglavnik Bodyguard Battalion (later Brigade).
On 27 April 1941 a newly formed unit of the
Ustaše army killed
members of the largely Serbian community of Gudovac, near
Eventually all who opposed and/or threatened the
outlawed. The HSS was banned on 11 June 1941, in an attempt by the
Ustaše to take their place as the primary representative of the
Vladko Maček was sent to the Jasenovac
concentration camp , but later released to serve a house arrest
sentence due to his popularity among the people. Maček was later
again called upon by foreigners to take a stand and oppose the
Pavelić government, but refused. In early 1941
ordered to leave certain areas of Zagreb.
Pavelić first met with
Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941.
Mile Budak ,
then a minister in Pavelić's government, publicly proclaimed the
violent racial policy of the state on 22 July 1941. Vjekoslav "Maks"
Luburić , a chief of the secret police, started building
concentration camps in the summer of the same year.
in villages across the
Dinaric Alps led the Italians and the Germans
to express their disquiet. According to writer/historian Srđa
Trifković , as early as 10 July 1941 Wehrmacht Gen. Edmund Glaise von
Horstenau reported the following to the German High Command, the
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW):
Our troops have to be mute witnesses of such events; it does not
reflect well on their otherwise high reputation . . . I am frequently
told that German occupation troops would finally have to intervene
Ustaše crimes. This may happen eventually. Right now, with
the available forces, I could not ask for such action. Ad hoc
intervention in individual cases could make the German Army look
responsible for countless crimes which it could not prevent in the
Historian Jonathan Steiberg describes Ustaša crimes against Serbian
and Jewish civilians: "Serbian and Jewish man woman and children
were literally hacked to death". Reflecting on the photos of Ustaša
crimes taken by Italians, Steinberg writes: "There are photographs of
Serbian woman with breasts hacked off by kitchen knives, man with
eyes gouged out, emasculated and mutilated".
A Gestapo report to Reichsführer SS
Heinrich Himmler , dated 17
February 1942, stated:
Increased activity of the bands is chiefly due to atrocities carried
Ustaše units in
Croatia against the Orthodox population. The
Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against
males of conscript age, but especially against helpless old people,
women and children. The number of the Orthodox that the
massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred
In September 1942 an
Ustaše Defensive Brigade was formed, and during
Ustaše battalions were re-organised into eight
four-battalion brigades (1st to 8th). In 1943 the Germans suffered
major losses on the Eastern Front and the Italians signed an armistice
with the Allies , leaving behind significant caches of arms which the
Partisans would use. An Ustaša, disguised as a woman, captured
by Partisans of the 6th Krajina Brigade
By 1944 Pavelić was almost totally reliant on
Ustaše units, now
100,000 strong, formed in Brigades 1 to 20, Recruit Training Brigades
21 to 24, three divisions, two railway brigades, one defensive brigade
and the new Mobile Brigade. In November 1944 the army was effectively
Ustaše control when the Armed Forces of the Independent
Croatia were combined with the units of the
Ustaše to form
18 divisions, comprising 13 infantry, two mountain and two assault
divisions and one replacement division, each with its own organic
artillery and other support units. There were several armored units.
Fighting continued for a short while after the formal surrender of
Army Group E on 9 May 1945, as Pavelić ordered the NDH forces
to attempt to escape to Austria, together with a large number of
Battle of Poljana , between a mixed German and Ustaše
column and a Partisan force, was the last battle of
World War II
World War II on
European soil. Most of those fleeing, including both
civilians, were handed over to the Partisans at Bleiburg and elsewhere
on the Austrian border . Pavelić hid in Austria and Rome, with the
help of Catholic clergy, later fleeing to
AFTER THE WAR
Terrorism in Yugoslavia
After World War II, many of the
Ustaše went underground or fled to
countries such as
Germany and some countries in
South America , notably
Argentina , with the assistance of Roman
Catholic churches and their own grassroots supporters.
For several years some
Ustaše tried to organize a resistance group
called the Crusaders , but their efforts were largely foiled by the
Yugoslav authorities. With the defeat of the Independent State of
Croatia, the active movement went dormant. Infighting fragmented the
surviving Ustaše. Pavelić formed the
Croatian Liberation Movement ,
which drew in several of the former state's leaders. Vjekoslav
Vrančić founded a reformed
Croatian Liberation Movement and was its
leader. Maks Luburić formed the
Croatian National Resistance .
Blagoje Jovović, a Montenegrin , shot Pavelić near
Buenos Aires on 9
April 1957; Pavelić later died of his injuries.
ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
The Holocaust in the
Independent State of Croatia and World
War II persecution of
Serbs An entire Serb family lies
slaughtered in their home following a raid by the Ustaša militia,
Ustaše soldiers sawing off the head of Branko Jungić,
an ethnic Serb, near Bosanska Gradiška . Serb civilians forced
to convert to Catholicism by the Ustaša in Glina
Ustaše intended to create an ethnically "pure" Croatia, and they
Serbs then living in Croatia, Bosnia and
the biggest obstacle to this goal.
Mile Budak ,
Mirko Puk and Milovan Žanić declared in May 1941 that the goal of
Ustaše policy was an ethnically pure Croatia. The strategy to
achieve their goal was:
* One-third of the
Serbs were to be killed
* One-third of the
Serbs were to be expelled
* One-third of the
Serbs were to be forcibly converted to
The NDH government cooperated with
Nazi Germany in the Holocaust and
exercised their own version of the genocide against Serbs,
Roma (aka "gypsies") inside its borders. State policy towards Serbs
had first been declared in the words of Milovan Žanić, a minister of
the NDH Legislative council, on 2 May 1941:
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.
Ustaše enacted race laws patterned after those of the Third
Reich , which persecuted
Jews , Romani and
Serbs , who were
collectively declared to be enemies of the Croatian people. Serbs,
Jews, Roma and Croatian and Bosniak dissidents, including Communists,
were interned in concentration camps , the largest of which was
Jasenovac . By the end of the war the Ustaše, under Pavelić's
leadership, had exterminated an estimated 30,000 Jews, 29,000 Gypsies,
and between 300,000 and 600,000 Serbs.
The history textbooks in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
cited 700,000 as the total number of victims at Jasenovac. This was
promulgated from a 1946 calculation of the demographic loss of
population (the difference between the actual number of people after
the war and the number that would have been, had the pre-war growth
trend continued). After that, it was used by
Edvard Kardelj and Moša
Pijade in the Yugoslav war reparations claim sent to
Germany . The
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says:
Due to differing views and lack of documentation, estimates for the
number of Serbian victims in
Croatia range widely, from 25,000 to more
than one million. The most reliable figures place the number of Serbs
killed by the
Ustaše between 330,000 and 390,000.
The Jasenovac Memorial Area maintains a list of 83,145 names of
Jasenovac victims that was gathered by government officials in
Belgrade in 1964, as well as names and biographical data for the
victims identified in recent inquiries. As the gathering process was
imperfect, they estimated that the list represented between 60%–75%
of the total victims, putting the number of killed in that complex at
between roughly 80,000–100,000. The previous head of the Memorial
Area Simo Brdar estimated at least 365,000 dead at Jasenovac. The
analyses of statisticians
Vladimir Žerjavić and Bogoljub Kočović
were similar to those of the Memorial Area. In all of Yugoslavia, the
estimated number of Serb deaths was 487,000 according to Kočović,
and 530,000 according to Žerjavić, out of a total of 1,014,000 or
1,027,000 deaths (respectively). Žerjavić further stated there were
197,000 Serb civilians killed in NDH (78,000 as prisoners in Jasenovac
and elsewhere) as well as 125,000 Serb combatants.
Belgrade Museum of Holocaust compiled a list of over 77,000 names
of Jasenovac victims. It was previously headed by Milan Bulajić, who
supported the claim of a total of 700,000 victims. The current
administration of the Museum has further expanded the list to include
a bit over 80,000 names. During
World War II
World War II various German military
commanders and civilian authorities gave different figures for the
number of Serbs,
Jews and others killed inside the territory of the
Independent State of Croatia. Historian Prof.
Jozo Tomasevich has
posited that some of these figures may have been a "deliberate
exaggeration" fostered to create further hostility between
Croats so that they would not unite in resisting the Axis. These
figures included 400,000
Alexander Löhr ); 500,000 Serbs
Lothar Rendulic ); 250,000 to March 1943 (Edmund Glaise von
Horstenau); more than "3/4 of a million Serbs" (Hermann Neubacher) in
1943; 600,000–700,000 in concentration camps until March 1944
(Ernst Fick); 700,000 (Massenbach).
Of some 39,000
Jews who had lived in territory which became the
Independent State of Croatia, at least 30,000 died.
Main article: Concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia
Ustaše militia execute prisoners near the Jasenovac
concentration camp A knife nicknamed "Srbosjek" or
"Serbcutter", strapped to the hand, which was used by the Ustaše
militia for the speedy killing of inmates in Jasenovac.
The first group of camps was formed in the spring of 1941. These
* Danica near
* Jadovno near
* Kruščica near
Travnik in Bosnia
* Loborgrad in
* Tenja near
These camps were closed by October 1942. The Jasenovac complex was
built between August 1941 and February 1942. The first two camps,
Krapje and Bročica, were closed in November 1941. The three newer
camps continued to function until the end of the war:
* Ciglana (Jasenovac III)
Kozara (Jasenovac IV)
* Stara Gradiška (Jasenovac V)
There were also other camps in:
Karlovac — Jastrebarsko
Children's Concentration Camp
Kerestinec prison near Zagreb
Lepoglava prison near Varaždin
Numbers of prisoners:
* between 300,000–350,000 up to 700,000 in Jasenovac (disputed)
* around 35,000 in Gospić
* around 8,500 in Pag
* around 3,000 in Đakovo
* 1,018 in Jastrebarsko
* around 1,000 in Lepoglava
CONNECTIONS WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Catholic clergy involvement with the Ustaše
Ustaše policies against
Eastern Orthodoxy are incorrectly
associated with "
Uniatism " in some Eastern Orthodox circles. This
term has not been used by the Roman
Catholic Church except for Vatican
condemnation of the idea in 1990. The
Ustaše represented an extreme
example of "Uniatism" which was based on nationalism rather than on
religion. They supported violent aggression or force to convert
Serbo-Croatian speaking Orthodox believers to Roman Catholicism. The
Ustaše held the position that
Eastern Orthodoxy , as a symbol of
Serbian nationalism , was their greatest foe and never recognized the
existence of a Serb people on the territories of
Croatia or Bosnia –
they recognized only "
Croats of the Eastern faith". They called
Croats of the Islamic faith", but tolerated Muslims and in
fact received some support from Bosniak Muslims during
World War II
World War II in
the form of the Handschar division .
Some priests, mostly
Franciscans , particularly in, but not limited
Herzegovina and Bosnia , took part in the atrocities themselves.
Miroslav Filipović was a Franciscan friar (from the Petrićevac
monastery) who allegedly joined the Ustaša as chaplain and, on 7
February 1942, joined in the massacre of roughly 2730
Serbs of the
nearby villages, including some 500 children. He was allegedly
subsequently dismissed from his order and defrocked, although he wore
his clerical garb when he was hanged for war crimes . He became Chief
Jasenovac concentration camp where he was nicknamed "Fra
Sotona " by fellow Croats.
Mladen Lorković , the Croat minister of
foreign affairs, formulated it like this: "In Croatia, we can find few
real Serbs. The majority of Pravoslavs are as a matter of fact Croats
who were forced by foreign invaders to accept the infidel faith. Now
it's our duty to bring them back into the Roman Catholic fold."
Marko Došen (far left, giving
Nazi salute ) and Archbishop Alojzije
Stepinac (far right)
For the duration of the war, the Vatican kept up full diplomatic
relations with the Ustaša state (granting Pavelić an audience), with
its papal nuncio in
Zagreb , the Croatian capital city. The nuncio was
briefed on the efforts of religious conversions to Roman Catholicism.
World War II
World War II ended, the
Ustaše who had managed to escape from
Yugoslav territory (including Pavelić) were smuggled to South America
. This was largely done through rat lines operated by Catholic
priests who had previously secured positions at the Vatican . Some of
the more infamous members of the Illyrian College of San Girolamo in
Rome involved in this were Franciscan friars
Krunoslav Draganović and
Dominik Mandić, and a third friar surnamed Petranović (first name
Ustaše regime had deposited large amounts of gold plundered from
World War II
World War II into
Swiss bank accounts. Out of a
total of 350 million Swiss francs , an estimated 150 million was
seized by British troops ; however, the remaining 200 million (ca.
$47 million) reached the Vatican. In October 1946 the American
intelligence agency SSU alleged that these funds were still held in
Vatican Bank . This issue was the theme of a class-action suit
Vatican Bank and others (see Alperin v.
Vatican Bank ).
Alojzije Stepinac , Archbishop of
Zagreb during World War
II, was accused of supporting the
Ustaše and of exonerating those in
the clergy who collaborated with them and were hence complicit in
forced conversions. Stepinac stated on 28 March 1941, noting early
attempts to unite Croatians and Serbs:
"All in all,
Serbs are of two worlds, northpole and
southpole, never will they be able to get together unless by a miracle
of God. The schism (between the
Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy
) is the greatest curse in Europe, almost greater than
Here there is no moral, no principles, no truth, no justice, no
In 1998 Stepinac was beatified by
Pope John Paul II . On 22 June 2003
John Paul II visited
Banja Luka . During the visit he held a Mass at
Petrićevac monastery. This caused public uproar
due to the connection of the monastery with Filipović . At the same
location the Pope proclaimed the beatification of a Roman Catholic
Ivan Merz (1896–1928), who was the founder of the
"Association of Croatian Eagles" in 1923, which some view as a
precursor to the Ustaše. Roman Catholic apologists defend the Pope's
actions by stating the convent at
Petrićevac was one of the places
that went up in flames, causing the death of 80-year-old Friar
Alojzije Atlija. Further, it was claimed by the apologists that the
war had produced "a total exodus of the Catholic population from this
region"; that the few who remained were "predominantly elderly"; and
that the church in Bosnia then allegedly risked "total extinction" due
to the war.
At the top of the command was the
Poglavnik (meaning "head") Ante
Pavelić. Pavelić was appointed the office as Head of State of
Adolf Hitler had accepted
Benito Mussolini 's proposal
of Pavelić, on 10 April 1941. The Croatian Home Guard was the armed
forces of Croatia, it subsequently merged into the Croatian Armed
The symbol of the
Ustaše was a capital blue letter "U" with an
exploding grenade emblem within it.
The flag of the
Independent State of Croatia was a red-white-blue
horizontal tricolor with the shield of the Coat of Arms or
the middle and the U in the upper left. Its currency was the NDH kuna
. The checkered coat of arms of the NDH started with a white field in
the corner, and that of today's
Croatia starts with a red field in the
corner. Some possible explanations are that the white field symbolizes
the Croatian nationality, as opposed to the red field which symbolizes
the Croatian state; or that the white field is used on the so-called
Ustaše greeting was "
Za dom - spremni! ": Salute: Za dom! For
home(land)! Reply: Spremni! (We are) ready!
This was used instead of the Nazi greeting
Heil Hitler by the
Ustaše. While the greeting was invented in the 19th century by
Josip Jelačić , today it is nominally associated with
Ustaše sympathisers by
Serbs or non-
Ustaše conservatives associated
with the Croatian
Party of Rights
Party of Rights . However, some
Croats see it as a
patriotic salute, because it was used long before the
emphasising defending one's home and country. On the internet, it is
sometimes abbreviated as ZDS.
USE BY SERBIAN NATIONALISTS
In the 1980s, Serbian historians produced many works about the forced
conversion during World War Two of
Serbs to Catholicism in Ustaša
Croatia. These debates between historians openly became nationalistic
and also entered the wider media. Historians in
Belgrade during the
1980s who had close government connections often went on television
during the evenings to discuss invented or real details about the
Ustaša genocide against
Serbs during World War Two. These
discussions had the effect of being theoretical deductions that served
as a precursor for the eventual ethno-demographic engineering that
took place in Croatia.
MODERN USAGE OF THE TERM "USTAšA"
After World War II, the Ustaša movement was split into several
organizations and there is presently no political or paramilitary
movement that claims its legacy as their "successor". The term
"ustaše" is today used as a (derogatory) term for Croatian
ultranationalism . The term "Ustaše" is sometimes used among
Serbophobia or more generally to defame political opponents.
Slobodan Milošević 's rule was approaching its end, some
protesters called him an "Ustaša".
IN POPULAR CULTURE
This section DOES NOT CITE ANY SOURCES . Please help improve this
section by adding citations to reliable sources . Unsourced material
may be challenged and removed . (August 2016) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message )
Ustaše plays an important role in
Harry Turtledove 's short
alternate history story, Ready for the Fatherland. It plays a brief
background role in
In the Presence of Mine Enemies , an unrelated work
by the same author. In both these works, the regime founded by
Pavelić lasted several decades beyond the 1940s.
Independent State of Croatia
World War II
World War II in Yugoslavia
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to the common tradition of our Churches".
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