The Union of Death
Terrorists and Freedom Fighters in the Balkans
"The Insurgents and the Swastika"
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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"Even going back ten years it was easy to see something
gripping Yugoslavia by the throat.
But in the years since then the grip has been tightened, and tightened in my opinion by the dictatorship
established by King Alexander Karageorgevitch.
This dictatorship, however much it may claim a temporary success, must inevitably have the effect
of poisoning all the Yugoslav organism. Whether the poisoning is incurable or not is the question
for which I have sought an answer during two months in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and central Europe."
("Black Hand over Europe" by Henri Pozzi, 1935)
Yugoslavia was born in sin and in sin it perished. The King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Alexander I, a freshly self-proclaimed dictator, declared it on October 1929. It was a union of East and West, the Orthodox and the Catholic, Ottoman residues with Austro-Hungarian structures, the heart and the mind. Inevitably, it stood no chance. The Croats and the Slovenes - formerly fiery proponents of a Yugo (Southern) Slav federation - were mortified to find themselves in a Serb-dominated "Third World", Byzantine polity. This was especially galling to the Croats who fiercely denied both their geography and their race to cling to the delusion of being a part of "Europe" rather than the "Balkans". To this very day, they hold all things Eastern (Serbs, the Orthodox version of Christianity, Belgrade, the Ottoman Empire, Macedonia) with unmitigated contempt dipped in an all-pervasive feeling of superiority. This is a well known defence mechanism in nations peripheral. Many a suburban folk wish to belong to the city with such heat and conviction, with such ridiculous emulation, that they end up being caricatures of the original.
And what original! The bloated, bureaucracy-saddled, autocratic and sadistic Habsburg empire. Hitler's Germany. Mussolini's Italy. Unable to ignore the common ethnic roots of both Serbs and Croats - one tribe, one language - the Croats chose to believe in a vast conspiracy imposed upon the Serbs by corrupt and manipulative rulers. The gullible and self-delusional Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb wrote just before the Second World War erupted, in a curious reversal of pan-Serbist beliefs: "If there were more freedom... Serbia would be Catholic in twenty years. The most ideal thing would be for the Serbs to return to the faith of their fathers. That is, to bow the head before Christ's representative, the Holy Father. Then we could at last breathe in this part of Europe, for Byzantium has played a frightful role ... in connection with the Turks."
The same Turks that almost conquered Croatia and, met by fierce and brave resistance of the latter, were confined to Bosnia for 200 years. The Croats came to regard themselves as the last line of defence against an encroaching East - against the manifestations and transmutations of Byzantium, of the Turks, of a vile mix of Orthodoxy and Islam (though they collaborated with their Moslem minority during the Ustashe regime). Besieged by this siege mentality, the back to the literal wall, desperate and phobic, the Croats developed the paranoia typical of all small nations encircled by hostility and impending doom. It was impossible to reconcile their centrifugal tendency in favour of a weak central state in a federation of strong local entities - with the Serb propensity to create a centralist and bureaucratic court. When the Croat delegates of the Peasant Party withdrew from the fragmented Constituent Assembly in 1920 - Serbia and the Moslem members voted for the Vidovdan Constitution (June 1921) which was modelled on the pre-war Serbian one.
While a minority with limited popular appeal, the Ustashe did not materialize ex nihilo. They were the logical and inescapable conclusion of a long and convoluted historical process. They were both its culmination and its mutation. And once formed, they were never exorcised by the Croats, as the Germans exorcised their Nazi demon. In this, again, the Croats, chose the path of unrepentant Austria.
Croat fascism was not an isolated phenomenon. Fascism (and, less so, Nazism) were viable ideological alternatives in the 1930s and 1940s. Variants of fascist ideology sprang all over the world, from Iraq and Egypt to Norway and Britain. Even the Jews in Palestine had their own fascists (the Stern group). And while Croat fascism (such as it was, "tainted" by Catholic religiosity and pagan nationalism) lasted four tumultuous years - it persisted for a quarter of a century in Romania ("infected" by Orthodox clericalism and peasant lores). While both branches of fascism - the Croat and the Romanian - shared a virulent type of anti-Semitism and the constipated morality of the ascetic and the fanatic - Codreanu's was more ambitious, aiming at a wholesale reform of Romanian life and a re-definition of Romanianism. The Iron Guard and the Legion (of the Archangel Michael, no less) were, therefore and in their deranged way, a force for reform founded on blood-thirsty romanticism and masochistic sacrifices for the common good. Moreover, the Legion was crushed in 1941 by a military dictatorship which had nothing to do with fascism. It actually persecuted the fascists who found refuge in Hitler's Germany.
Fascism in Hungary developed similarly. It was based on reactionary ideologies pre-dating fascism by centuries. Miklos Horty, the Austro-Hungarian Admiral was consumed by grandiose fantasies of an Hungarian empire. He had very little in common with the fascists of the "white terror" of 1919 in Budapest (an anti-communist bloodshed). He did his best to tame the Hungarian fascist government of Gyula Gombos (1932). The untimely death of the latter brought about the meteoric rise of Ferenc Szalasi and his brand of blood-pure racism. But all these sub-species of fascism, the Romanian, the Slovakian (Tiso) and the Hungarian (as opposed to the Italian and the Bulgarian) were atavistic, pagan, primal and romanticist - as was the Croat. These were natural - though nefarious - reactions to dislocation, globalization, economic crisis and cultural pluralism. A set of compensatory mechanisms and reactions to impossible, humiliating and degrading circumstances of wrathful helplessness and frustration. "Native fascism" attributed a divine mission or divine plan to the political unit of the nation, a part of a grand design. The leader was the embodiment, the conveyor, the conduit, the exclusive interpreter and the manifestation of this design (the Fuhrerprinzip). Proof of the existence of such a transcendental plan was the glorious past of the nation, its qualities and conduct (hence the tedious moralizing and historical nitpicking). The definition of the nation relied heavily of the existence of a demonized and dehumanized enemy (Marxists, Jews, Serbs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Hungarians in Romania, etc.). Means justified the end and the end was stability and eternity ("the thousand years Reich"). Thus, as opposed to the original blueprint, these mutants of fascism were inert and aspired to a state of rest, to an equilibrium after a spurt of cleansing and restoration of the rightful balance.
When Serb domination (Serb ubiquitous military, Serbs in all senior government positions even in Croatia) mushroomed into the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes", it was only natural for dissenting and dissident Croats to turn to their "roots". Unable to differentiate themselves from the hated Serbs racially - they appealed to religious heterogeneity. Immediately after the political hybrid was formed, the Croats expressed their discontent by handing election victories to the "Croatian Peasant Party" headed by Radic. The latter was a dour and devout anti-Yugoslav. He openly agitated for an independent - rustic and pastoral - Croatia. But Radic was a pragmatist. He learned his lesson when - having boycotted the Constituent Assembly in Belgrade - he facilitated the imposition of a pro-Serb, pro-central government constitution. Radic moderated his demands, if not his rhetoric. The goal was now a federated Yugoslavia with Croat autonomy within it. There is poetic justice in that his death - at the hand of a Montenegrin deputy on the floor of the Skupstina in 1928 - brought about the dictatorship that was to give rise to Macek and the Sporazum (Croat autonomy). The irony is that a peasant-favouring land reform was being seriously implemented when a deadlock between peasant parties led to King Alexander's fateful decision to abolish the parliamentary system.
King Alexander I was a good and worthy man forced by circumstances into the role of an abhorrent tyrant. He was a great believer in the power of symbols and education. He changed the name of his loose confederacy into a stricter "Yugoslavia". In an attempt to defuse internal divisions, he appealed to natural features (like rivers and mountains) as internal borders. Croatia vanished as a political entity, replaced by naturally-bounded districts and provinces. The majority of Croats still believed in a federal solution, albeit less Serb-biased. They believed in reform from the inside. The Ustashe and Pavelic were always a minority, the Bolsheviks of Croatia. But King Alexander's authoritarian rule was hard to ignore: the torture of political opponents and their execution, the closure of patriotic sports societies, the flagrant interference in the work of the ostensibly independent judiciary, the censorship. There was bad blood growing between the King and more of his subjects by the day. The Croats were not the only "minority" to be thus maltreated. The Serbs maintained an armed presence in Macedonia, Kosovo, the Sandzak and even in Slovenia. They deported thousands of "Turks" (actually, all manner of Muslims) under the guise of a "re-patriation" scheme. They confiscated land from religious institutions, from the deportees, from big landowners, from the Magyars in Vojvodina and "re-distributed" it to the Serbs. Ethnic homogenization (later to become known as "ethnic cleansing") was common practise in that era. The Turks, the Bulgars, the Germans, the Greeks were all busily purifying the ethnic composition of their lands. But it made the King and the Serbs no friends.
The Serbs seemed to have been bent on isolating themselves from within and on transforming their Yugo Slav brethren into sworn adversaries. This was true in the economic sphere as well as in the political realm. Serbia declared a "Danubian orientation" (in lieu of the "Adriatic orientation") which benefited the economies of central and northern Serbia at the expense of Croatia and Slovenia. While Serbia was being industrialized and its agriculture reformed, Croatia and Slovenia did not share in the spoils of war, the reparations that Yugoslavia received from the Central Powers. Yugoslavia was protectionist which went against the interest of its trading compatriots. When war reparations ceased (1931) and Germany's economy evaporated, Yugoslavia was hurled into the economic crisis the world has been experiencing since 1929. The Nazi induced recovery of Germany drew in Yugoslavia and its firms. It was granted favourable export conditions by Hitler's Germany and many of its companies participated in cartels established by German corporate giants.
King Alexander I must have known he would be assassinated. Someone tried to kill him as he was taking the oath to uphold the constitution on June 28, 1921. For 8 long years he had to endure a kaleidoscope of governments, a revolving door of ministers, violence in the Assembly and ever-escalating Croat demands for autonomy. After the hideous slaughter on the floor of parliament, all its remaining Croat members withdrew. They refused to go back and parliament had to be dissolved. Alexander went further, taking advantage of the constitutional crisis. He abolished the constitution of 1921, outlawed all ethnically, religiously or nationally based political parties (which basically meant most political parties, especially the Croat ones), re-organized the state administration, standardized the legal system, school syllabi and curricula and the national holidays. He was moulding a nation single handedly, carving it from the slab of mutual hatred and animosity. The Croats regarded all this as yet another Serb ploy, proof of Serb power-madness and insatiable desire to dominate. In an effort to placate the bulk of his constituency, the peasantry, King Alexander established rural credit unions and provided credit lines to small farmers and rural processing plants. To no avail. The insecurity of this hastily foisted regime was felt, its hesitation, the cruelty that is the outcome of fear. The scavengers were gathering.
It was this basic shakiness that led the King to look for sustenance from neighbours. In rapid succession, he made his state a friend of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania (the last two in the frame of the Little Entente). Another Entente followed (the Balkan one) with Greece, Turkey and Romania. The King was frantically seeking to neutralize his enemies from without while ignoring the dangers from within. His death lurked in Zagreb but he was travelling to Marseilles to meet it. A vicious secret police, a burgeoning military, a new constitution to legalize his sanguinous regime conspired with a global economic crisis to make him a hated figure, even by Serb Democrats. Days before his death, he earnestly considered to return to a parliamentary form of government. But it was too late and too little for those who sought his end.
The Ustasha movement ("insurgence" or "insurrection", officially the "Croatian Ustasha Movement") was a product of the personal rebellion of Ante Pavelic and like-minded others. Born in Bosnia, he was a member of the Croat minority there, in a Serb-infused environment. He practised as a lawyer in Zagreb and there joined the Nationalist Croatian Party of Rights. He progressed rapidly and by 1920 (at the age of 31), he was alderman of Zagreb City and County. He was a member of the Skupstina when anti-Croat sentiment peaked with the triple murder of the Croat deputies. When Alexander the King dissolved parliament and assumed dictatorial powers, he moved (or fled) to Italy, there to establish a Croat nationalist movement, the Ustasha. Their motto was "Za Dom Spremny" ("Ready for Home" or "Ready for the Fatherland"). Italy the fascist was a natural choice - both because of its ideological affinity and because it opposed Yugoslavia's gradual drift towards Germany. Italy was worried about an ultimate anschluss ("unification or incorporation") between the Reich and Austria - which will have brought Hitler's Germany to Austria's doorstep.
Thus, the Ustasha established training centres (more like refugee camps, as they included the family members of the would be "warriors") in Italy and Hungary (later to be expelled from the latter as a result of Yugoslav pressure). Having mainly engaged in the dissemination of printed propaganda, they failed at provoking a peasant rebellion in north Dalmatia (promised to Italy by the Ustasha). But they did better at assassinating their arch-foe, King Alexander in 1934 (having failed earlier, in 1933). In this the Ustasha was reputed to have collaborated with the fascist IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) under Ivan Mihailov in Bulgaria. By joining forces with the IMRO, the Ustasha has transformed itself into a link in the chain of terrorist organizations that engulfed the world in blood and flames prior to the onslaught of the greatest terrorist of all, of Hitler. While some versions of the unholy alliance between the Bulgarian-Macedonian outfit and the Croats are unsubstantiated (to put it gently), it is clear that some assistance was provided by both lower Italian ranks and the IMRO. The actual murderer of the King was Mihailov's Macedonian chauffeur, Vlado Georgiev-Kerin. The Ustasha was also known for blowing trains and for attempting to do so on more than one occasion both in Croatia and in Slovenia. King Alexander seemed to have ordered the systematic annihilation of the Ustasha just before his own untimely Ustasha-assisted annihilation. Lt. Colonel Stevo Duitch "committed suicide" in Karlsbad and there were attempts - some successful, some less - on Pavelic in Munich, Percevic in Vienna, Servaci (Servatsi) in Fiume and Percec in Budapest. It was made abundantly clear to the Ustasha that it was an all-out war with no prisoners taken. The King had to go.
It was a strange movement, the Ustashe. Claiming the continuous "rights of state" of the Great Croatian Kingdom under Peter Kresimir and Zvonimir in the 11th century - they nonetheless gave up Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to Italy and, later, accepted a German occupation of eastern Croatia. Composed of frugal ascetics and avaricious operators, merciless romanticists and hard nosed pragmatists, murderous sadists and refined intellectuals, nationalist Croats and Serb-haters who had no coherent national agenda bar the mass slaughter of the Serbs. Thus, it was a social movement of the dispossessed, a cesspool of discontent and rage, of aggression too long suppressed but never sublimated, of justified social and political grievances irradiated by racism, national chauvinism, militarism and sadism. A grassroots reaction turned cancerous, led by a second hand, third rate Hitler-clone. A terrorist organization displaying the trappings of a state in the making. This is not to say that it lacked popular support. Tensions ran so high between Serbs and Croats that daily brawls broke in pubs and restaurants, trains and public places between Serb soldiers and Croat citizens in Croatia. The Ustashe fed on real friction, were charged by escalating tensions, mushroomed on growing violence.
Prince Paul, who acted as regent for 12 years old Peter II, permitted the operation of political parties but did not reinstate parliament. All this time, a Yugoslav opposition of democratic forces included Croat as well as Serb intellectuals and wannabe politicians. Vladko Macek himself - later, the epitome of Croat separatism and the most successful promoter of this cause - was a member. In the 1938 elections, his party - the Peasant Party - won an astounding 80% of the votes in Croatia. The regent, now much humbled by years of strife and paralysis - bowed to popular opinion so eloquently and convincingly expressed. He backed negotiations with Macek which led to a declaration of Croat independence in everything but name. The Sporazum of August 1939, a few days before the outbreak of World War II, granted Croatia self-government except in matters of national defence and foreign affairs. The Serbs were now disgruntled. The Serb Democrats felt abandoned and betrayed by Macek and his Faustian deal with the dictatorship. All other Serbs felt humiliated by what they regarded as a capitulation to irredentism, bound to have a disintegrative domino effect on the rest of Serbia's possessions. It is a surrealistic thing, to read the transcripts of these vehement and sincere arguments just four days before the world as all the conversants knew it, came to a shrieking end.
When German planes were pulverizing Warsaw, Yugoslavia declared its mock-neutrality. Everybody knew that Paul was pro-German. Even King Alexander before him signed a few secret pacts with the rising, ignore at your peril, Central European force. The Austrian national socialists who were implicated in the murder of the Austrian prime minister, Dolfus, in July 1934, escaped to Yugoslavia and resided openly (though disarmed by the Yugoslav police) in army barracks in Varadzin. In 1935, a fascist movement was established in Serbia ("Zbor"). Fascism and Nazism were not without their attractions to Serbs and Croats alike.
This is the great theatre of the absurd called the Balkans. Pavelic and the Ustasha were actually closer in geopolitical orientation to the Yugoslav monarchy (until Paul was deposed by the Yugoslav army) - than to Mussolini's fascist Italy. They were worried by the latter's tendency to block German designs on Austria. In a region known for its indefinite historical memory and lack of statute of limitations, they recalled how the Italians treated Montenegrin refugees in 1923 (returning them to Yugoslavia in cattle cars). They wondered if the precedent might be repeated, this time with Croat passengers. The Italians did, after all, arrest "Longin" (Kvaternik), Jelic and others in Torino following the assassination of the King. In the paranoid twilight zone of European Big Power sponsored terrorism, these half hearted actions and dim memories were enough to cast a pall of suspicion and of guilt over the Italian regime. Mussolini called Pavelic his "Balkan Pawn" but in that he was mistaken. There are good reasons to believe that he was shocked by the murder of King Alexander. In any event, the free movement of Pavelic and the Ustasha was afterwards severely restricted.
On March 1941, the Crown Council of Yugoslavia decided to accede to the Tripartite Pact of the Axis, though in a watered down form. Yugoslavia maintained the prerogative to refuse the right of passage in its territory to foreign powers. Yet, no one believed this would be the case if confronted with such a predicament. This decision - to give up Yugoslavia's main asset and only protection - its neutrality - was taken under pressure from the Croats in power at the time. The Pact was already joined by Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Two days after the Yugoslav Prime Minister (Dragisa Cvetkovic) and his foreign minister signed the Pact in Vienna - they were deposed together with the Regent Paul. The precocious Peter was made King of Yugoslavia by the rebellious officers, headed by General Dusan Simovic. The generals now in charge reverted to Yugoslavia's neutrality and refused to join the British-Greek naval treaty, for example. But what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations in favour of the conspirators and against the Tripartite Pact erupted all over Serbia. It was a challenge to Germany which it could not ignore. The Supreme Command of the Wehrmact (OKW) issued "Undertaking 25" (against Yugoslavia) and "Case Marita" (against Greece). The Yugoslavs mobilized (albeit with a surprising procrastination), the Germans invaded (on April 6, 1941) and, within 10 days it was all over. The Croats did their best to assist the new forces of occupation, disrupting and sabotaging the best they could army operations as well as civilian defence. It was clear that many of them (though by no means the majority) regarded the Serbs as the real occupiers and the Germans as long awaited liberators.
On April 10, 1941, six days into the invasion, the Germans declared the Independent State of Croatia (NDH, after the initials of its name in Croatian - Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska). Vladimir Mecak, leader of the Peasant Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia called on the people to collaborate with the new government. Overnight, a fringe terrorist organization, (erroneously) considered to be more a puppet of Italy that a true expression of Croat nationalism, found itself at the helm of government in circumstances complicated by internecine rivalries, inter-ethnic tensions, an history of hate and mutual resentment, a paranoia stoked by sporadic violence. The Serbs were evidently a fifth column and so were the Jews. Indeed, Croatia's Serbs wasted no time in joining resistance movements against the Nazis and the NDH. Anyhow, the vacuum created by Macek's surprising passivity and by the Church's abstention - was filled by the Ustashe. The new state included a part of Dalmatia (the rest went to Italy), the region of Srem and the entirety of Bosnia Herzegovina. It was the closest Croatia ever got to re-creating Great Croatia of a millennium ago. Fearful of Croat encroachment, the Slovenes hurried to discuss the declaration of their own state modelled after the NDH - only to discover that their country was split between Italy and Germany. In Zagreb, the enthusiasm was great. The 200 nor so returning Ustashe were greeted back even by their political rivals. People thronged the streets, throwing flowers and rice at the advancing former terrorist and German convoys.
The NDH existed for four years. It had 7 governments - only 5 of which were headed by Ante Pavelic. As opposed to popular opinion, the Ustashe were not a puppet regime, far from it. Both the Italians and the Germans express their continued frustration at being unable to control and manipulate the Ustashe. Despite their military presence and economic support - both Axis powers lacked real leverage over the ever more frantic activities of the Ustashe. Even when it was clear that the Croat NDH - in its genocidal activities - is alienating the Serbs and adding to the ranks of resistance movements throughout Yugoslavia, there was precious little the Germans or Italians could do. They held polite and less polite talks with the top echelons of their own creation but like the fabled Dr. Frankenstein found that the NDH had a life very much of its own and an agenda it pursued with vigour and conviction.
It is impossible - nor is it desirable - to avoid the issue of the mass killings of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Some Croats claim that "only" 60-70,000 were killed in Jasenovac and other camps. The very use of the word "only" in this context ought to send a frisson of repulsion down the spines of civilized men. The Serbs, Jewish scholars and many international scholars claim the number was between 300-600,000 people. The reason for the disparity in numbers is that - despite their "German" pretensions, the Croats acted like the least of the barbarous Balkanians in their mass slaughters. This was no industrial affairs, replete with bureaucracy and statistics. The massacres were atavistic, primitive, the call of blood and guts and scattered brains. It was an orgy, not an operation.
There is nothing much to tell about the NDH. The regime was busy enacting laws against deadly sins and minor vices (such as pornography). The collaboration with the Catholic Church proceeded smoothly. Laws were passed against the Jews. The NDH army fought the partisans and the Allied Forces. When it tried to surrender to the British army in 1945 - it refused to accept their capitulation and turned them over to the partisans. In a series of death marches army soldiers and civilian collaborators with the Ustashe were deliberately exterminated. The Balkans knows no mercy. Victims become butchers and butchers victims in nauseating turns. By 1944, the NDH lost half its territory either to the Germans or to the partisans. The rump state survived somehow, its leaders deserting in droves. Pavelic himself escaped to Austria, from there to Italy and Argentina. He survived an attempt on his life in 1957 and then fled to Paraguay and Spain where he died in 1959.
"After all, if the Croat state wishes to be strong, a
nationally intolerant policy
must be pursued for fifty years, because too much tolerance on such issues
can only do harm."
(Adolf Hitler to Ante Pavelic in their meeting, June 6, 1941)
"For the rest - Serbs, Jews and Gypsies - we have three
bullets. We shall kill one third of all Serbs. We shall deport another
third, and the rest of them will be forced to become Roman Catholic."
(Mile Budak, Minister of Education of Croatia, July 22, 1941)
"There are limits even to love... (It is) stupid and unworthy
disciples to think that the struggle against evil could be waged in a noble
way and with gloves on."
(Archbishop of Sarajevo, Ivan Saric, 1941)
"Croats no longer think that German troops are present
merely to provide
peace and security, but that they are here to support the Ustasha regime
[...] The Ustashas promote the impression that they act not only in
agreement with German instances, but actually on their orders. [...] There
is here today a deep mistrust of Germany, because it is supporting a regime
that has no moral or political right to exist, which is regarded as the
greatest calamity that could have happened to the Croat people. That regime
is based entirely on the recognition by the Axis powers, it has no popular
roots, and depends on the bayonets of robbers who do more evil in a day
than the Serbian regime had done in twenty years."
(Captain Haffner to General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau,
Plenipotentiary of the Wehrmacht in Zagreb, Croatia, 1941)
"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 against Ustasha 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 past."
(General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau to the OKW, July 10, 1941)
"The horrors that the Ustashi have committed over the
Serbian small girls is
beyond all words. There are hundreds of photographs confirming these deeds
because those of them who have survived the torture: bayonet stabs, pulling
of tongues and teeth, nails and breast tips - all this after they were
raped. Survivors were taken in by our officers and transported to Italian
hospitals where these documents and facts were gathered."
(Commander of the Italian Sassari Division in Croatia, 1941)
"Increased activity of the bands is chiefly due to atrocities
carried out by
Ustasha units in Croatia against the Orthodox population. The Ustashas
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 Croats have massacred and
sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand."
(Report to Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler from the Geheime Staatspolizei -
GESTAPO - dated February 17, 1942)
"From the founding [of the NDH] until now the persecution
of Serbs has not
stopped, and even cautious estimates indicate that at least several hundred
thousand people have been killed. The irresponsible elements have committed
such atrocities that could be expected only from a rabid Bolshevik horde."
(German foreign ministry plenipotentiary representative in Belgrade Felix
Benzler to Joachim von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Reich)
" (In Croatia under the Ustasha) ...over half a million
[Serbs] were murdered,
about a quarter of a million were expelled from the country, and another quarter
of a million were forced to convert to Catholicism."
(Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust)
(All quotes from "The Real Genocide in Yugoslavia: Independent
Croatia of 1941 Revisited"
by: Srdja Trifkovic, published in: www.rockfordinstitute.org and in: www.antiwar.com )
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