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From Jasenovac to Yugoslavism: Ethnic persecution in Croatia

during World War II

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Adeli, Lisa M.

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FROM JASENOVAC TO YUGOSLAVISM: ETHNIC PERSECUTION IN CROATIA


DURING WORLD WAR II
by
Lisa M. Adeli

Copyright Lisa M. Adeli 2004

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the


DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
WITH A MAJOR IN HISTORY
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

2004

UMI Number: 3131581

Copyright 2004 by
Adeli, Lisa M.

All rights reserved.

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As members of the Final Examination Committee, we certify that we have read the
dissertation prepared by
entitled

Lisa Marie Adell

From Jasenovac to Yueoslavlsm: Ethnic Perser-uti nn

in Crnafia

during World War II

and recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement for the
Degree of

Doctor

""l-.

of

Philosophy

V...

it,

L,....

Frederick Kellogg

Aj\AAIKAA. (
"

"

san Crane

date

a ' (AIKAAX^

date

Douglas fWeiner

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date

date

Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the


candidate's submission of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and
recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.

Dissertation Director:

Frederick Kellogg

date

STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an
advanced degree at The University of Arizona and is deposited in the University
Library to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission,
provided that accurate acknowledgment of source is made. Requests for permission for
extended quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be
granted by the copyright holder.

SIGNED;

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
In writing this dissertation, I owe a debt of gratitude to many people at the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum, especially to Dan Napolitano and Steve Feinberg,
who encouraged me to undertake the research and helped me find the funding, and to
Sanja Primorac, who worked tirelessly to organize and catalogue the Jasenovac collection
and gave me access to the documents. I also could never have done this without the
support and constructive criticism of my dissertation advisor, Frederick Kellogg.

DEDICATION
To my family: my husband, Aman Adeli, my sons Bobby, Shawn, and Ross Adeli,
my father, Daniel D'Antimo, and my mother-in-law, Esmat Azizkhani. Without their
support, I could never have written this.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

ABSTRACT

9-10

CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND
Notes to Chapter 1

11 - 24
25-29

CHAPTER 2: THE FORMATION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA


AND THE PERSECUTION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES
30-58
Notes to Chapter 2
59 - 70
CHAPTER 3: REACTION AGAINST THE PERSECUTION OF MINORITY GROUPS
IN THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
71 - 88
Notes to Chapter 3
89-96
CHAPTER 4: THE GROWTH OF INTERETHNIC COOPERATION IN THE
CAMPS
97-110
Notes to Chapter 4
111-116
CHAPTER 5: THE DISCREDITING OF ALTERNATIVES TO YUGOSLAVISM
117-127
Notes to Chapter 5
128-131
CHAPTER 6: THE IMPACT OF ITALIAN AND GERMAN POLICIES ON ETHNIC
RELATIONS WITHIN THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA .132-151
Notes t o Chapter 6
152-157
CHAPTER 7: THE EXPANSION OF YUGOSLAVISM AND THE PARTISAN
MOVEMENT IN THE CAMPS
158 - 169
Notes to Chapter 7
170 - 173
CHAPTER 8: THE IMPACT OF ETHNIC PERSECUTION IN THE INDEPENDENT
STATE OF CROATIA ON THE PARTISAN MOVEMENT
174-199
Notes to Chapter 8
200 - 211
CHAPTER 9: CONCLUSION
Notes to Chapter 9

212 - 215
216

EPILOGUE
Notes to the Epilogue

217-219
220

APPENDIX: LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

,221 -223

TABLE OF CONTENTS - CONTINUED


WORKS CITED:
UNPUBLISHED SOURCES/ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
PUBLISHED PRIMARY SOURCES
SECONDARY SOURCES

224 - 232
233 - 248
249 - 255

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (MAPS)

THE DESTRUCTION OF YUGOSLAVIA AND THE FORMATION OF THE


INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
31
IMPORTANT CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND TRANSIT CAMPS IN THE
INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
46
JASENOVAC ENVIRONS 1942

,47

ABSTRACT
During World War II, the Croatian ultra-nationalist Ustasa persecuted nearly two
million Serbs, Jews, and Roma in the Independent State of Croatia, a state that included
present-day Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Ustasa-run Jasenovac concentration
camp became a lasting symbol of ethnic persecution. Political analysts today often cite
this genocide as proof that ethnic violence and fragmentation within the region are
inevitable. However, an equally important reality is that within just four years, Ustasa
excesses had provoked a widespread popular reaction against the violence and against the
national exclusivity that inspired it.
Although many people in Croatia and Bosnia initially celebrated the collapse of
Yugoslavia in 1941 and supported the declaration of Croatian independence, the Ustasa's
brutal treatment of minority groups quickly alienated much of the population. Opposition
to ethnic persecution took many forms, including assisting people targeted by the
government, hiding victims or helping them to escape from the country, aiding prisoners
of the regime, and, occasionally, publicly protesting discriminatory measures. Within the
concentration camps as well, prisoners of different ethnic backgrounds came together in
food sharing and newsgathering cooperatives in a common effort to survive. This
rejection of ethnic violence served to discredit the extreme Croatian nationalism
represented by the Ustasa -and also its Serbian counterpart represented by the Cetniks.
The result was a resurgence of Yugoslavism, a renewed emphasis on the interdependence
of Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and others.

Opposition to ethnic persecution also fueled the expansion of the Partisan resistance
and shaped the character of that movement, causing its leaders to develop a program of
ethnic equality and a federally organized postwar government. The ideology of Yugoslav
unity transformed the Partisans into a popular movement, allowing the Partisans to
triumph over both the Serbian domination of the prewar Yugoslav kingdom and the
fratricidal violence of the Independent State of Croatia.
Thus, people's reaction against atrocities in Croatia during World War II had
important consequences for the entire region. The issues of ethnic violence, conflicting
concepts of nationalism, and resistance are interrelated and, when considered together,
give a fuller picture of developments in Yugoslav history.

11

Chapter 1: Background
The history of Yugoslavia during World War II, and indeed throughout the entire
twentieth century, revolves around ethnic conflict. The conflict is rooted in the existence
of two diametrically opposed national concepts: Yugoslavism, the ideal of uniting the
various South Slavic peoples (i.e. Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Bosnian Muslims, and others)
into one political entity, and national particularism, the aspiration of many of those same
peoples to establish separate national states. During the Second World War, ethnic
tensions within the area reached crisis proportions after the Axis powers, Germany, Italy,
Hungary, and Bulgaria, launched a joint invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. The main
battleground in this struggle, both physically and ideologically, was the area that became
known as the 'Independent State of Croatia' (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska or NDH), a
fascist puppet state that included most territories of the present-day countries of Croatia
and Bosnia-Hercegovina. During the ensuing four years of war, from 1941 to 1945, the
Croatian fascist Ustasa party sought to impose a narrow view of Croatian nationalism
within the NDH, using unspeakable violence and brutality to achieve its goals. In
response, proponents of Yugoslavism had to develop new models of theory and political
organization in order to achieve the recreation of a unified Yugoslav state after the war.
The result of the struggle and the reaction against the genocide in wartime Croatia would
have far-reaching ramifications, not only in the immediate postwar years but in more
recent times as well.
In order to understand the conflict between Yugoslavism and national separatism in
Croatia during World War II, it is necessary to look at the social, ideological, and political

12

background to the ethnic conflict in that area. Ethnic or 'national' differences among the
region's inhabitants have deep historical roots. Although the majority of people in both
Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina come from a common Slavic base' and speak some
dialect of the Serbo-Croatian language, differences in religion, national consciousness,
and historical experience have divided the population into separate national entities:
Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. Each group looks to medieval times for its origins,
harking back to when Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia had formed independent kingdoms.
The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into southeastern Europe and the Ottoman defeat
of combined Balkan forces on the plains of Kosovo in 1389 brought an end to these
medieval states and inaugurated a centuries-long struggle between the Ottoman Turks and
their Habsburg Austrian rivals. The struggle between the two civilizations precipitated
demographic changes in the Balkan Peninsula as areas were depopulated in the fighting,
and displaced people from other regions filled in the gaps. By the nineteenth century, the
various linguistic and religious groups were completely intermingled in most areas.
Ethnic identification, which developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into
national consciousness, was determined by religious affiliation: Croats are Catholics,
Serbs are Orthodox Christians, and Bosnians of the Muslim faith are similarly labeled
"Muslim" as their national designation. Confessional differences, rather than geographic
residency, have become the primary determinant of ethnic identity separating these
peoples. For example. Orthodox inhabitants of Croatia are considered Serbs, rather than
Croats regardless of their place of residence. Cultural and historical differences have
further widened the gap. The Croats, who went from Ottoman to Habsburg rule by the

13

sixteenth century, have been marked by central European influences, including the
adoption of the Latin alphabet for the Croatian language. The Serbs, on the other hand,
under first the Byzantine and then the Ottoman Empires, retained a more eastern
orientation and even during five centuries of Ottoman rule, continued to use a form of the
Cyrillic alphabet introduced to them by Byzantine missionaries. Bosnian Muslims, in the
meantime, had adopted the dominant religion of the Ottoman Empire and were fully
integrated into the Ottoman culture. Educated Muslims in Bosnia even used the Ottoman
form of Turkish, written in Arabic letters, for official purposes until Bosnia's absorption
into the Habsburg Empire in 1878. Thus, the three largest groups in the area that became
the NDH, while sharing a common language, developed three completely different
cultural systems.
Although maintaining separate identities, the various ethnic groups lived in close
proximity to each other and were intermingled within the same geographical area. For
instance, Croatia included a large Serbian population, especially in a region known as the
'military frontier,' supported by the Habsburgs between 1578 and 1881 as a buffer zone
against Ottoman military advances. This region, located in the middle of present-day
Croatia, had been depopulated during the preceding two centuries of warfare between the
Ottoman Empire and Europe, and so Austrian officials had offered Serbs inducements,
such as local autonomy and freedom from taxes, if they would settle there and form a
barrier protecting Austria from Turkish incursions. Centuries later, descendants of the
Serbian settlers in Croatia still retained their separate identity and status. Within Bosnia
too, a similar mixing of populations had occurred. This ethnic diversity continued on into

14

the twentieth century. The 1931 Yugoslav census showed that of Bosnia's 2,323,491
inhabitants, 44.2% were Orthodox (Serbs), 30.9% Muslims, and 23.6% Catholics
(Croats).^ These groups frequently lived together in the same towns and villages, making
it impossible to create ethnically unified states in the area.
In addition to South Slavic groups, both Bosnia and Croatia were home to significant
non-Slavic minorities. Jews had been arriving in the Balkans for centuries: Ladinospeaking Sephardic Jews fleeing the persecutions in Spain in the fourteenth century,
Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazic Jews migrating from other parts of the Habsburg Empire in
later years. Although Sephardic Jews formed the majority of Bosnia's Jewish community
while Ashkenazic Jews predominated in Croatia, both Jewish communities coexisted
peacefully and frequently intermarried. German-speaking people, the Volksdeutsche, also
settled in Croatia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in Bosnia after its
occupation by Austria in 1878. About 80% of these native Germans were Catholic and
the rest Protestant.^ Communities of Hungarians, who spoke the Magyar language, lived
in Croatia as well. Finally, groups of semi-nomadic Gypsies, more properly referred to as
'Roma,' inhabited all parts of the Balkans.
The primacy of the national question in the NDH during the 1940s was a natural
extension of its importance from the nineteenth century onward, during which time two
differing concepts of nationalism developed: Yugoslavism and a separate Croatian
nationalism. Yugoslavism, the idea of uniting all South Slavs (including Serbs, Croats,
Bosnian Muslims, and others) into one common state, had its origins in the midnineteenth century Illyrian movement. Illyrianism was primarily a literary and cultural

15

movement, resulting in the establishment of a common Serbo-Croatian literary language,


but Yugoslavism, developed later in the nineteenth century by Croatian church leaders
Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Racki, had a specific political goal: the unification of
the South Slavs into one political entity to keep the Slavs from being completely
dominated by Austria-Hungary.'* However, at the same time that Yugoslavism was taking
root among a certain portion of the Croatian intelligentsia. Ante Starcevic and Eugen
Kvaternik were developing an alternate view of nationalism in Croatia: the Croatian right
to independence. The Party of [State] Rights, founded by Starcevic and Kvaternik,
completely rejected the idea of Yugoslav unity, even declaring that the Serbs were
inferior to the Croats.
The formation of a Yugoslav state^ in 1918 exacerbated rather than resolved the
conflict in Croatia between these two competing concepts of nationalism. Hastily formed
upon the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War,
the new 'Kingdom of the Serbs Croats, and Slovenes' soon became a centralized state
under the Serbian Karadordevic dynasty. Many Croats disliked the centralized, Serbiandominated state structure and urged, at the very least, a reorganization of the kingdom
along federal lines. The largest Croatian political party, the Croatian Peasant Party led by
Stjepan Radic, assumed the lead in advocating decentralization of the state structure,
seconded by other parties such as the Independent Democratic Party in Serbia and the
Yugoslav Muslim Organization in Bosnia. The assassination of several Croatian Peasant
Party leaders, including Radic, in June 1928 in the midst of a parliamentary session
further underscored the ethnic tensions that threatened to overwhelm the new state. In

16

January 1929, King Alexander dissolved the parliament and declared a personal
dictatorship. This act in itself provided no real solution to the deep internal problems but
rather increased the tensions that would tear the state apart in 1941.
Paradoxically, the reaction to the dictatorship within Croatia was an increase in
support for groups on both ends of the political spectrum: the Communist Party of
Yugoslavia, led by Josip Broz (Tito), and the Croatian ultra-nationalist Ustasa, led by
Ante Pavelic. This political polarization occurred even on the individual level. For
example, Cedomil Huber, later a political prisoner in the NDH, recalled that in the 1930s
he was a member of SKOJ,^ the Communist youth movement, at school and
n

simultaneously a student of Ustasa ideals at the Catholic church he attended.


Although officials of the Yugoslav kingdom feared both these political extremes, the
most immediate threat came from the right, especially from the Ustasa (which means
Rebel), an extremist group of Croatian separatists. Although the Ustasa claimed only 900
n

members prior to the proclamation of the NDH in April 1941, the organization proved
dangerous to the Yugoslav state partly because of the violence of Ustasa methods but
mainly because of the organization's connection to Italy, a country with designs on
Croatian territories along the Adriatic Sea. From its inception in the late 1920s, the
Ustasa had been sponsored by Italy and had adopted many of the trappings of Italian
fascism. Most of its leaders, including Pavelic, spent over a decade in exile in Italy,
during which time Pavelic met Italian leader Benito Mussolini and received financial
support from Mussolini's government for anti-Yugoslav, terrorist activities. The internal
threat from Croatia's far right and the external threat from Italy resulted in the

17

assassination of the Yugoslav king Alexander Karadordevic in Marseilles, France, in


1934. The action, at least temporarily, served to mobilize public opinion in Croatia
against both the Ustasa and its Italian mentors. Yugoslavia demanded that the League of
Nations take action against Italy as Yugoslav police investigator Vladeta Milicevec
claimed to have evidence that "contained everything that was necessary to institute
proceedings against Italy, or rather, Mussolini..^ Italy narrowly averted an
international investigation of the incident by interning the leaders of the Ustasa, including
Pavelic. However, Pavelic's deputy Mile Budak privately confided to Croatian Peasant
Party leader Vladko Macek that Mussolini maintained his ties with the Ustasa, keeping
their men in camps "like a chained pack of hounds. When in need of them, he would set
them free for a spell to serve his own purposes and afterwards bind them again as tight as
ever."' Thus, the Ustasa movement abroad continued to represent a threat to
Yugoslavia.
Within Croatia itself, the dominant political organization continued to be the Croatian
Peasant Party; however, the Ustasa's ultra-nationalist ideology got increasing coverage in
the Croatian right-wing press during the 1930s. The Ustasa organization's 1932 charter
declared as its primary goal the freedom of the Croatian people from foreign rule,''
especially from what Croatian rightists regarded as the Serbian hegemony over the
Yugoslav kingdom. However, Croatian independence from Yugoslavia was to be only
the first step toward the fiilfillment of its national destiny; the next step would be creation
of an ethnically pure state to ensure that Croatia would be free of the influence of national
minorities such as the Serbs. Many moderate Croats, who did not generally approve of

18

the Ustasa leadership or methods, nonetheless sympathized with its anti-Serbian


orientation, especially after Yugoslavia's transformation into a royal dictatorship in 1929.
The anti-Semitism espoused by the Ustasa was more controversial and less popular
perhaps than anti-Serbian sentiments. According to Paul Benjamin Gordiejew, author of
the sociological study Voices of Yugoslav Jewry, "the position of the Yugoslav Jewish
community as a whole during most of the interwar period was relatively
good... .Antisemitism had no broad, organized form in interwar Yugoslavia until just
before the Second World War...

Gordiejew's statements, however, referred to

Yugoslavia as a whole; the situation in the territory that became the Independent State of
Croatia was a bit more complicated. Ado Kabiljo, a Bosnian Jew, reported that before the
1

war, the Serbs, Croats, Muslims, and Jews in his part of Bosnia all lived peacefully
together without any hint of prejudice; only under fascist influence following the German
invasion did the situation change.
Within Croatia-proper, possibly as a result of its long association with the Habsburg
Empire, anti-Semitism had deeper roots. Nonetheless, even there, the most popular
political movements, including the powerful Croatian Peasant Party, actively opposed the
anti-Semitic propaganda that began to appear in the Croatian right-wing press in the mid1930s.In addition, intermarriage between Croats and Jews was relatively common, a
fact that in itself signifies a high degree of social integration within the community.
Interestingly enough, it seems that "quite a few Croat leaders had strong family ties with
Jews..

Prominent figures in the government of the NDH, including Marshal Slavko

1 *7
^
IS
Kvaternik, Milovan Zanic, and even the top leader of the Ustasa, Ante Pavelic

19

himself'^ had Jewish wives or other close relatives. Furthermore, those Jews who
adopted a Croatian ultra-nationalist outlook were not discriminated against as other Jews
were; pro-Croatian Jews were, in fact, regarded quite favorably by the Ustasa, though not
so favorably by many of their Jewish contemporaries.Thus, ambivalence toward the
Jews rather than outright anti-Semitism existed in Croatia and even within the innermost
circles of the Ustasa party itself.
To some extent, the sudden upsurge in anti-Semitism beginning in the 1930s was a
byproduct of fascist ideology. The Ustasa charter of 1932 explicitly forbade Jews from
joining the party although the organization was theoretically open to "true Croatian
nationalists without regard to religion."

Anti-Semitic writings began to appear both in

the Ustasa movement abroad and in the right-wing press within Croatia in the mid-1930s
as a direct result of German influences,^^ leading some scholars to regard anti-Semitism
as "imported goods."^^ Indeed, the persecution of Jews and Gypsies was becoming
"standard policy in Nazi-occupied territory,and the Ustasa leadership, having spent
many years in Italy and Hungary, clearly intended to follow the fascist model along with
its program of organized anti-Semitism.^^ Even the phraseology adopted by the Croatian
fascist press was strikingly similar to that found in Nazi German publications. Rightist
Croatian newspapers described the need for a "radical solution of the Jewish question
both from the racial and the economic viewpoints,"^ the warning of a Jewish conspiracy
to take over the world, and the assertion that any measures taken to solve the Jewish
98
problem "cannot be too severe." Even Jews who had converted to Christianity could
not be trusted as they were still "pure Jews by race."^^ Therefore, it is evident that Ustasa

20

theory, if not its practice, with regard to the Jews mirrored the racial theories popular
throughout Nazi-occupied Europe at that time, rather than being a Croatian irmovation.
Another factor contributing to the anti-Semitic policies of the Ustasa was its leaders'
perception that Jews were affiliated with Communists and Serbs, two groups that
Croatian fascists considered to be particularly subversive elements. The idea that Jews
were associated with Communism "borrowed heavily from the European fascist
movements,"^ but was nonetheless a common theme in official Croatian publications.
One example is a booklet by Nikolaj Federov entitled Boljsevizam i Zidovstvo
[Bolshevism and Judaism], published in 1942, stating that Judaism and Communism are
identical with their goal the destruction of both Christianity and Islam.

After the war

began, public notices and newspaper headlines frequently associated the two groups,
announcing "the execution of another 87 Jews and Communists" and celebrating the
issuance of the death sentence to "50 Jews and Communists ...

Although exaggerated

for propaganda purposes, the perception of a close relationship between Jews and
Communism did have some basis in fact. Gordiejew described the younger generation of
Jewish youth as undergoing a distinct political shift to the left during the 1930s. Over
time, he concluded, "a politicized generation came into being, united by Jewish descent
-ic
and a left-wing orientation."
Another spur to anti-Semitism was the identification of the Jews with the Serbs.
Again, the public was presented with this idea in newspaper articles, such as one
appearing in Nova Hrvatska [New Croatia] in May 1942 that deplored the "old friendship
of Serbs and Jews."^^ As in the case of the association of Jews and Communists, the

21

Ustasa propaganda about the solidarity of Jews and Serbs was rooted in fact. Josip Erlih,
a Jew who lived in Croatia in the early 1940s, contrasted the friendliness of relations
between the Jewish and Serbian communities of Croatia with the presence of open antiSemitism among the Croatian population of the same area.37 Thus, in the NDH, the
Ustasa justified the resolve to persecute the Jews by playing on popular fears that they
were in collusion with Serbs and Communists, both groups that were out of favor with
the current regime.
On the eve of Yugoslavia's entry into World War II, political discontent and ethnic
strife increasingly undermined the stability of Croatian society. The Croatian right wing
press became increasingly strident in its attacks on Serbs and Jews. Meanwhile, the
German minority in Croatia, the Volksdeutsche, became more militant and nationalistic,
even organizing large, public meetings at an Osijek city park.

-30

Attempts by the

Yugoslav government to ameliorate this growing discontent within its borders were
mostly ineffective. The Cvetkovic-Macek Agreement^^ of August 1939 that granted
Croatia internal autonomy within Yugoslavia, did little to stem the rising tide of unrest.
The combination of political opposition and ethnic tensions in Croatia was a volatile mix.
Thus, when German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian armies marched into Yugoslavia
on 6 April 1941, most Croats had ambivalent feelings about the invasion. Few rallied to
Yugoslavia's defense or protested the creation of the Independent State of Croatia.
Before examining the ethnic persecution that occurred in the NDH during World War
II and analyzing the reaction against that persecution, it is important to note that very little
scholarly work has been done on this subject. There seem to be two major barriers. For

22

non-Yugoslav scholars, the main issue is a conceptual one: whether one can classify the
ethnic persecution in the NDH as part of the Holocaust. Since the Holocaust, by
definition, refers mainly to the persecution of Jews, and to a lesser extent to the
persecution of Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other groups,
many specialists in the history of the Holocaust are uncomfortable studying the situation
in Croatia where Serbs were the primary targets of the Ustasa regime.'^" This uncertainty
as to whether ethnic persecution in the NDH should really be included within the scope of
Holocaust historiography has led researchers to avoid studying the genocide in Croatia in
World War II or to limit their studies to Jewish suffering in the region.
Yugoslav historians in the Communist era had another reason to avoid undertaking a
scholarly analysis of the persecution in wartime Croatia: fear of inflaming the divisive
tendencies within the country that the Yugoslav regime was striving to suppress. Under
Tito and his immediate successors, any real analysis of Croatian atrocities during the
1940s was avoided as potentially damaging to relations among the Serbs and Croats and
thus to Yugoslav unity. For this reason, during the decades of Communist rule, Yugoslav
historical accounts made no mention of ethnic persecution in wartime Croatia, except as
acts of terror perpetrated by foreign invaders.
[Due to] the exigencies of political expediency, the victims of war were all
lumped together in the category of 'victims of Nazi terror.' By virtue of this
political construction, genocide was placed in a broader context, terminologically
undefined, so that the past could be put aside and the national groups living in
the country could more easily attain a 'brighter future, and the brotherhood and
unity of peoples.'"'*'
Therefore, both historians of the Holocaust and Yugoslav historians of the World War II

23

era had reasons to avoid a critical analysis of the wartime genocide in Croatia, so for fifty
years after the establishment of the NDH, little was written on the topic.
It was not until the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, starting in 1991, that scholars turned
their attention to the ethnic persecution in Croatia and Bosnia during the 1940s, a sudden
outpouring of scholarship that has a pronounced bias and obvious ulterior motives. Serbs
took the lead in this research, hoping to justify to their own people and to the world at
large the reasons for Serbian opposition to the establishment of separate Croatian and
Bosnian states.'^^ Even books with a scholarly apparatus, such as Smilja Avramov's
Genocide in Yugoslavia, have a modern-day focus, trying to explain the destruction of
Yugoslavia and the animosities of recent years in light of earlier historical developments
in Croatia. Recent Croatian books on the World War II era, especially those published
abroad in the years immediately preceding Croatia's 1991 secession from Yugoslavia, are
just as biased, often portraying the suffering of the Croatian people during the war
without even mentioning the Ustasa persecution of minorities during that same era."*^
Ironically, recent scholarship on the NDH, often sensationalized and inaccurate, is almost
as much of a stumbling block to a scholarly analysis of Croatian internal affairs during
World War II as the lack of attention paid to the subject in previous years.
As a consequence of viewing the 1940s genocide in Croatia and Bosnia through the
prism of recent developments, the focus of research in the 1990s has been a narrow one,
centering almost exclusively on the centrifugal forces in the region, on the horrifying
ethnic violence that was tearing Yugoslavia apart from within. As a result, scholars have
focused mostly on the perpetrators of atrocities and on the segment of the Croatian

24

population that gave its tacit approval to Ustasa goals, if not always to the methods
employed by the group. How^ever, this depiction of the persecution of minority groups in
the 1940s as a precursor of 'ethnic cleansing' fifty years later is limited, ignoring equally
important realities, such as the increasingly widespread reaction within the NDH against
ethnic persecution and the resurgence of Yugoslavism, the centripetal ties that bound, and
still bind, the various ethnic groups together. These latter themes comprise the basis of
this dissertation.

25

Notes to Chapter 1

' John V. A. Fine, "The Medieval and Ottoman Roots of Modem Bosnian Society," in
The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages
to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia, edited by Mark Pinson (Cambridge; Harvard University
Press, 1994), 3.
^ Kraljevina Jugoslavia, Opstina Drzavna Statistika, Definitivni Rezultati Popisa
Stanovnistva (Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Office of State Statistics, definitive results of a
census of the population), 1937 results of the 1931 census (Microfilm, University of
Texas, Austin).
^ Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and
Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 282.
^ Branka Prpa-Jovanovic, "The Making of Yugoslavia; 1830-1945," in Burn This House:
The Making and Unmaking of Yugoslavia, edited by Jasminka Udovicki and James
Ridgeway (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 44.
^ The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was created by the Treaty of Versailles
that ended World War 1.
SKOJ, an acronym for Savez komunisticke omladine Jugoslavije (Union of Communist
Youth of Yugoslavia), was the Communist youth movement.
^ Cedomil Huber, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: USHMM Archives), tape 1, 4.
o

Tomasevich, 337. Another scholar, Fikreta Jelic-Butic, gave the figure of 2,000
members as the number most commonly used, but she admitted that there is no hard data
to support this figure. Fikreta Jelic-Butic, Ustase i Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska 19411945 (The Ustasa and the Independent State of Croatia), 2"^* ed. (Zagreb: Sveucilisna
naklada liber, 1978).
^ Vladeta Milicevic, A King Dies in Marseilles (Bad Godesberg: Hohwacht, 1959), 79.
Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, translated by Elizabeth and Stjepan Gazi
(University Park; Pennsylvania State University Press, 1957), 173.
Ustav Ustaske Hrvatskog oslobodilackog pokreta" (Constitution of the Ustasa Croatian
independence movement), originally published in "Ustasa," a private pamphlet (Zagreb
1941), in Documents on the Crimes of the German Occupation Forces against the
Peoples of Yugoslavia during World War II, Collection of the Federation of Jewish

26

Communities in Yugoslavia (Microfiche, USHMM Archives) (hereafter cited as Crimes


ofGer. Occ).
Paul Benjamin Gordijew, Voices of Yugoslav Jewry (Albany: State University of New
York Press, 1999), 60.
It is important to note that although to American readers, the reference to "Serbs,
Croats, Muslims, and Jews" does not seem to be a parallel construction, most Yugoslavs
consider even the latter two groups (Muslims and Jews) to be national groups. In both
Croatia and Bosnia, religion, not language or geographical residence, is the primary
determinant of one's ethnicity. For example, adherents of the Orthodox faith living in
Croatia are considered to be Serbs, not Croats, even though their family might have lived
in Croatia for generations and the dialect they speak is very different from that spoken in
Serbia-proper. The same situation is true in Bosnia, where the situation is even more
complex. Yugoslavs classify Bosnian Catholics as Croats and Bosnian Orthodox
Christians as Serbs. Bosnian Muslims and the Jews of either Croatia or Bosnia are
simply labeled Muslims or Jews, their religious affiliation determining their ethnic label.
Notice that in the case of Bosnia, as in Croatia, language is not a determining factor; all of
the ethnic groups share a common language.
Ado Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcripts
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: USHMM Archives), tape 1, 2.
Ivo Goldstein, "Anti-Semitism in Croatia," m Anti-Semitism Holocaust Anti-Fascism,
edited by Ivo Goldstein and Narcisa Lengel Krizman (Zagreb: Jewish Community, 1997),
39-40 (hereafter cited as Anti-Semitism).
Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Harper Colophon
Books, 1961), 458.
"Izvjestaj" (Report) from the Yugoslav Royal Legation to the Vatican, dated 28 Sept.
1942. (AJ 103-27-174.) Hrvatska u arhivima izbjeglicke vlade 1941-1943: Izvestaji
informatora o prilikama u Hrvatskoj (Croatia in the archives of the Govemment-In-Exile
1941-1943: reports on conditions in Croatia), edited by Ljubo Boban (Zagreb: Globus,
1985), 163 (hereafter cited as H. u arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade).
A German general stationed in Croatia contemptuously refers to Zanic as "the closely
Jew-related Legislative Minister Zanic." Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, Report of 4
November 1941 to the German high command, Records of German Field Commands:
Rear Areas, Occupied Territories, and Others (microfilm. United States National
Archives, Washington D.C.), Micro. No. T-501, Roll 267, Frames 664-665.

27

Tomasevich, 348.
Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997,transcript of tape recording
(Washington D.C.: USHMM Archives), tape 1, 9.
Ustasa, "Pravila Organizacije" (Rules of the organization) in Crimes of Ger. Occ.
Ivo Goldstein, 33-34.
Luka Vincetic, "Anti-Semitism in the Croatian Catholic Press before the Second World
War," in Anti-Semitism, 63.
Elinor M. Despalatovic, "The Roots of the War in Croatia," in Neighbors at War:
Anthropological Perspectives on Yugoslav Ethnicity, Culture, and History, edited by Joel
M. Halpern and David A. Kideckel (University Park: Pennsylvania State University
Press, 2000), 88.
Ivo Goldstein, 51.
"Zidovsko ce se pitanje radikalno rijesiti" (The Jewish question will be radically
solved), Hrvatski narod (Croatian nation), 6 May 1941, The Land Commission of the
People's Republic of Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their
Collaborators, 1944-1947, Croatian National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM
Archives) (hereafter cited as Land Commission).
Andrija Artukovic, "Politicko-upravane prilike" (Political-administrative conditions),
speech given in 1942, Land Commission.
OO

Protiv Zidova treba poduzeti najstroze mjere" (The strictest measures must be
undertaken against the Jews), Hrvatski Narod (Croatian Nation), 20 April 1941, Land
Commission..
90

"Uputa za sastav izjave o rasnoj pripadnosti" (Instructions for the composition of a


statement on racial affiliation), Ustasa Ministry of Internal Affairs of ISC Records, 19411945, Croatian National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM Archives).
Aleksa Djilas, The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution,
1919-1953 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 113.
Nikolaj Federov, Boljsevizam i Zidovstvo: upovodu 25 godisnjice ruske rovolucije
1917-1942 (Bolshevism and Judaisim; In commemoration of the 25"^ anniversary of the
Russian Revolution, 1917-1942), in State Commission for Determination of Crimes
Committed by the Occupiers and Their Supporters in the People's Republic of Croatia

28

(ZKRZ) records, Croatian National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM Archives), 7.


Ibid., 5.
"Strijeljanje daljnjih 87 Zidova i komimista" (The execution of another 87 Jews and
Communists), 5 August 1941, Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Records
Relating to the Occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II, 1940-1947: Orders,
Announcements, Reports, Lists, Memoranda (Microfiche, USHMM Archives) (hereafter
cited as Occup. ofYug.).
"Oglas" (Proclamation), 22 September 1941, Occup. ofYug.
Gordiejew, 54.
"Tko je stvorio bivsu drzavu" (Who will create the future state). Nova Hrvatska (New
Croatia), 3 May 1942, Land Commission.
^^Erlih, tape 1, 4.
Erlih, tape 1,3.
The Cvetkovic-Macek Agreement (Sporazum), signed on August 26, 1939, was an
agreement between Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic and Croatian Peasant
Party leader Vladko Macek. The agreement consolidated the various regions of Croatia
into one "banovina" and provided Croatia with autonomy in internal affairs. In addition,
several Croats joined the Yugoslav cabinet. While the agreement might have alleviated
some of the ethnic tensions within Yugoslavia, it was signed just days before the outbrealc
of World War II.
'*^When I was a Mandel fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I was
told by some of the other Holocaust educators that studying what happened in Croatia
"does not count" as research on the Holocaust. People who regard themselves as
historians of the Holocaust tend to agree.
Smilja Avramov, Genocide in Yugoslavia (Belgrade: BIGZ, 1995), 1.
Milan Bulajic in his 1991 book Genocide of the Serbs, Jews, and Gipsies in the Ustashi
Independent State of Croatia (Belgrade: n.p., 1991) admits outright that the purpose of
his book is to shed light on events in contemporary Croatia. Some other examples of
historical research into the era written with a modern political agenda are: Milan Bulajic,
Antun Miletic, and Dragoje Lukic, Never Again: Ustashi Genocide in the Independent
State of Croatia (NDH) From 1941-1945 (Belgrade: Ministry of Information of The
Republic of Serbia, 1992); Slobodan Kljakic, Conspiracy of Silence (Belgrade:

29

Srbostampa, 1991); Rastislav Petrovic, The Extermination of Serbs on the Territory of the
Independent State of Croatia (Belgrade: Srbostampa, 1991); CxpaxHHja Kypaynnja
(Strahinja Kvirdulija), 'TeHoiiHa nan; cp6HMa y HesaBHCHoj /Ip^aBH XpBaxcKoj"
(Genocide against the Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia), in Cp6u y XpeamcKoj:
Hace/baeawe, 6poj u mepumopujajiHu pasMeuimaj (Serbs in Croatia: Settlement, number,
and territorial distribution), edited by Vujadin Rudic, 241-256 (Belgrade: The University
of Belgrade Faculty of Geography, 1993).
'^^For examples of this type of writing, see the following: Ante Beljo, Genocide: A
Documented Analysis, translated by D. Sladojevic-Sola (Sudbury; Northern Tribune
Publishing, 1985). Ivo Omrcanin, Holocaust of Croatians (Washington D.C.: Samizdat,
1986). Zora Marov, The Wandering Years (Anaheim: KNI Inc., 1984).

30

Chapter 2: The Formation of the Independent State of Croatia and the Persecution
of Ethnic Minorities
The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) came into existence as a byproduct of World
War II, created on 10 April 1941, just days after a massive German blitzkrieg destroyed
the Yugoslav kingdom. Yet, the term 'independent' in the title was misleading. The
Axis powers, Germany and Italy, determined Croatia's borders, forcing the NDH to cede
traditionally Croatian regions along the eastern shore of the Adriatic to Italy and awarding
Croatia the territory of Bosnia-Hercegovina' as compensation. The Axis also determined
the political structure and leadership of the new state. Within days of the formation of the
Independent State of Croatia, Ante Pavelic and other Ustasa emigres returned from Italy
and were installed by their Italian mentors as Croatia's new leaders. In addition, Italy and
Germany divided the NDH into zones of occupation, and both countries sent military
forces to the area. Thus, the so-called 'Independent State of Croatia' was completely
dominated by foreign powers.
Despite limitations on its autonomy, the new state appeared to many nationalists to be
a fulfillment of their aspirations: the long-desired rebirth of Croatia after nearly one
thousand years of sublimation within multinational states ruled by Austrians, Hungarians,
and, more recently, the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Therefore, a significant proportion of the

Croatian population welcomed the conquering troops as liberators. Bozo Svarc, a Jew
who watched these developments with misgivings, recalled that residents of Zagreb
greeted German troops with ovations and flowers.^ At least initially then, Croatia's

31

AUSTRIA

Maribor
HUNGARY

Varazdtfi
Subotica

^NIA#

VPJVODIN-A

ZAGREB

ITALY

Bjeiovar
BACKA

BARANJA

Xiastfebarsko
Kaif ovi<

Osiiek

H ,

Rijeka
(Fiume)
^Topusko
#.
BANfJA

ISTRIA

Wasenovac

^Kozara

Pozega
SlavonskiBrod frusk^Sora^
Bosanski Sfod
SRIJEM

Zmun

\ Prtiedor

^\
\
Zone

Nov! Sad

jjBogatic;

/Banja tuka
\\

8ELGRAD

BOSNIA i
SERBIA

"VDrvar

\ SARAJEVO
ftoma4

Konjtc
Occupied by Germany
i1 Annexed to Albania
TTl Annexed to Hungary
Ml Annexed to Italy
* Bosnia-Herzegovina
before 1918
German-Italian
demarcation line
- - Zone border

SO

100 km.

X HERZEGOVINA

p T Mostar

f^Metkovic

SArjDZAK^;
MONTENEGRO

Korculd
KOSOVO
Dubrovnik
orira

BayofKotor

The Destruction of Yugoslavia and the


^
Porrnation of the Independent State of Croatia, 1941

32

gravitation into the fascist orbit met with little opposition.


Popular enthusiasm for the new state soon cooled. The first blow to the popularity of
the Ustasa government came when Axis pressure compelled officials of the NDH to
acquiesce in the Pact of Rome, which determined the new border between Croatia and
Italy. Croatian nationalists, shocked by Italy's annexation of traditionally Croatian
territories along the Adriatic coast,^ were not mollified by the inclusion of BosniaHercegovina within the NDH, which Italy granted to Croatia as compensation. Croatian
Peasant Party leader Vladko Macek observed that:
After the publication of the text of the Pact of Rome, a moral depression
descended upon the inhabitants of Zagreb. The widespread discontent, however,
remained below the surface since even mild expressions of opposition were
punished by death or detention in a concentration camp from which few ever
returned.^
Undoubtedly, the "widespread discontent" indicated by Macek had its roots in
disillusionment over the Ustasa's subordination to Italy. Ultimately, however, a more
important factor in undermining the Ustasa's base of support was the specter of
"detention in a concentration camp" and the waves of state-sponsored ethnic persecution
in 1941 and 1942.
We have seen earlier that ethnic diversity characterized the territories incorporated into
the NDH. Although some anomalies in the official Yugoslav census figures make it
difficult to determine the exact numbers of people belonging to each ethnic group,^ some
figures can be extrapolated from the available data. In 1941, the total population of the
NDH was approximately 6.5 million people. Catholic Croats made up just 51% of the
population with somewhere between 3.1 million^ and 3.3 million^ people, an extremely

33

narrow majority. The Muslims of Bosnia, approximately 700,000 individuals, comprised


an additional 11% -12% of the population."' These two groups allied with the nativeGermans and Magyars, who together made up approximately 3% of the population,'' to
become the leading ethnic groups of the new state. Of the groups classified by the
Ustasa as undesirable elements, the Serbs were by far the largest with nearly 2 million
people, just over 30% of the total population.'^ Jews and Gypsies, or Roma, also were
significant minority groups within the NDH. Menahem Shelah, who researched the Jews
1

in Yugoslavia, places the number of Jews in the NDH at 45,000, though other sources
give estimates closer to 40,000.'"' There is also some controversy as to the number of
Roma, with Shelah giving a combined figure for Roma and other small minorities at
27,000'^ and David M. Crowe, who studied the Roma of Eastern Europe, listing the
population of Roma alone at 28,500.'^
A number of factors contribute to the complexities of categorizing the population by
ethnicity and make an exact determination of these numbers impossible. First, a precise
estimate of the Jewish population is difficult to determine given the fact that tens of
thousands of Jewish refugees from the persecution in nearby Germany and Austria
migrated to or passed through Yugoslavia between 1938 and 1941. It is also difficult to
pinpoint the exact number of Roma because their semi-nomadic lifestyle rendered the
1931 census count inaccurate and because Roma were sometimes counted as Croats,
Muslims, or Serbs according to their religion. Finally, many individuals did not fit into
traditional categories for classification. Some people who considered themselves Serbs
but had converted from Orthodox Christianity to the Uniate form of the Christian faith

34

were classified as Croats by the Ustasa government although many Uniates were
ambivalent toward or resentful of this label.'' Others were of mixed ancestry as ethnic
intermarriage in Croatia had become commonplace before the war. Cedomil Huber,
whom Yugoslav reporter Jasa Almuli interviewed about his experiences as a victim of
Ustasa terror, described his lineage as so intermingled that he challenged the interviewer,
"And now you tell me what I am!"'^ However, regardless of the exact numbers, the
Croats and the ethnic groups allied with them made up a combined total of not more than
65% of the population, hardly an overwhelming numerical dominance within the state.
The Ustasa emphasized the resulting insecurity of Croatia's claim to be a national state,
portraying Croatia as being perilously close to losing its national character.
The Independent State of Croatia soon faced the practical problem of how to bring
about national unity in an ethnically diverse state, a problem further compounded by the
delineation of the new border between Croatia and Italy. The percentage of Croats within
the NDH declined with the cession of the predominantly Croatian part of the Adriatic
coast to Italy, while the acquisition of Bosnia-Hercegovina increased the numbers of
Serbs and Jews in the state. Expressing concern about the ethnic diversity in the NDH,
Milovan Zanic, an official in the Ustasa government, who interestingly enough was
himself married to a Jewish woman, proclaimed in June 1941 that "this must be a country
of Croats and of no one else, and there is no method that we as Ustashe will not use in
order to make this country truly Croatian...

However, since the current reality was a

bit different, accommodations had to be made with other ethnic groups, particularly with
the Volksdeutsche and the Bosnian Muslims.

35

Although the Volksdeutsch population of Croatia was relatively small, numbering


approximately about 170,000 people,^" its political ties to the powerful Nazi state and its
1

control of the most productive farmland gave the German-speakers an importance


greater than their numbers would indicate. The Ustasa authorities curried favor with
them, giving them rights to use their own language and develop their own cultural
ryy

organizations.

'yy

The Ustasa leadership saw them as a "loyal, constructive element"

despite their "ultra-nationalist orientation."^'^ From the perspective of one Croatian


official, the German minority's participation in separate cultural associations and its
Greater German orientation did not interfere with the native Germans' loyalty to the
Croatian state as they had in previous years considered themselves to be Croats and still
shared common interests with the NDH.^^ In addition, Croatians regarded themselves
and the Volksdeutsche as sharing a common Aryan racial identity.

Pseudo-scientific

racial ideas of a shared identity along with more pragmatic considerations, such as the
native Germans' support from the occupation forces and the fact that their numerical
insignificance within the NDH eliminated them as potential rivals, led Ustasa authorities
to indulge the aspirations of this particular minority.
The question of the Muslims, the largest ethnic group in Bosnia-Hercegovina, had
greater repercussions within the NDH. The Ustasa claimed the Muslims as a branch of
the Croatian nation and accorded them legal equality with Catholics. Ustasa leader Ante
Pavelic, even appointed a Muslim as his vice premier,^^ an important step in gaining the
allegiance of prominent Muslim leaders, who desired the kind of favored nation status
they had enjoyed under first Ottoman and then Habsburg rule.^^ hi addition, the

36

authorities made concessions to Muslim sensibilities by enacting a special law exempting


Roma of the Muslim faith from the persecution that was standard policy - in Croatia and
other Nazi satellite countries - for Roma of all other faiths.^ Thus, the government of the
NDH made at least some attempt to ensure that there was, according to an official Ustasa
TI

report, "not the least friction between Catholics and Muslims."

Begirming in late April 1941, the NDH enacted a series of laws establishing the basis
of the differentiation between these favored nationalities and other, unwelcome, ethnic
groups. According to Croatia's Legal Ordinance on Citizenship, dated 30 April 1941,
citizenship in the NDH was guaranteed to all people of Aryan descent as long as they
were loyal supporters of the new Croatian state.^^ Croatian officials applied the label
'Aryan' to Croats, the local German and Hungarian populations, and Bosnian Muslims.
The Ustasa followed the Nazi example in classifying Jews and Roma as non-Aryans, but
also included Serbs in this category.^^ In fact, Serbs were considered a particularly
undesirable non-Aryan people, whose purpose was to Serbianize and Balkanize Croatian
lands and to move Croatia outside the European camp.^'^ Another law, the Legal
Ordinance on Racial Classification, also proclaimed on 30 April, specified that racial
status was determined genetically, according to the racial categorization of one's
grandparents. On the same day, the regime promulgated a law to maintain racial purity,
forbidding Jews and other non-Aryans in Croatia from marrying Aryans.^^ Thus, within a
single day, all Jews, Roma, and Serbs found themselves relegated to an inferior position
in Croatian society.
After 30 April, Ustasa officials promulgated legal restrictions against non-Aryans so

37

quickly that within the first few months after the declaration of the NDH, the government
had "proceeded to enact all those measures which German bureaucrats had toiled over for
eight years."

37

On 5 May, Jews were ordered to register their property and businesses,

and the government appointed supervisors to oversee Serbian and Jewish firms.

38

On 9

May, the government evicted Jews and Serbs from the northern parts of Zagreb and
limited their freedom of movement in the other parts of the capital.

By mid-May,

authorities ordered the removal of Serbs and Jews from teaching staffs and civil service
positions.'^ Regulations curtailed expressions of Serbian and Jewish cultures, and it
became illegal for Serbs to write in the Cyrillic alphabet. Following the Nazi model, the
Croatian state soon required the public identification of individuals belonging to 'inferior'
ethnic groups. Jews had to wear identifying markers, at first yellow ribbons, but later
V

^I

armbands depicting a Star of David with the letter 'Z' [Zidov] denoting 'Jew.'

Serbs

had to wear white bands with the term 'Pravoslavac,' [Orthodox] on them.''^
More ominous measures followed. In August 1941, the Croatian government formed
the Ustasa Surveillance Service [Ustaska nadzorna sluzba] to suppress anti-state activity
and to control ethnic minorities within the state. The Ustasa had already begun to
establish concentration camps by early summer 1941, and a law of 25 November 1941
affirmed that "objectionable and dangerous people" were to be interred in these camps."^^
In addition, Jews and Serbs accused of membership in Communist organizations received
a much harsher penalty than that received by Croats and Muslims accused of the same
offense."^"^ Minister of the Interior Andrija Artukovic ordered that armed Communists be
executed on the spot and unarmed ones sent to concentration camps.''^ The very rapidity

38

with which the state promulgated repressive measures caught many people by surprise.
According to a 1945 report of the Land Commission for the Determination of the Crimes
of the Occupiers and Their Collaborators, the general population often regarded the new,
discriminatory legislation as temporary and thus made few objections.
In theory, Croatian authorities made these discriminatory measures on a racial, not
religious, basis. While faith was a marker of Jewish or Serbian identity, the Ustasa
regarded both Jews and Serbs as inferior because of their blood, rather than because of
their religious practices. In other words. Catholic converts of Jewish descent, or even the
children of these converts, were still regarded as Jews, rather than Croats. Vladko
Macek, leader of the Croatian Peasant Party, noted that "even a Catholic nun of Jewish
extraction had to go to church with the conspicuous yellow ribbon [identifying her as a
Al

Jew] on her black habit."

Consequently, conversion to the Catholic faith did not spare

Jews or Serbs from persecution though there was great confusion on this point both
among the endangered minority populations and among some members of the Catholic
clergy. Paradoxically, an important exemption protected Jewish, and occasionally
Serbian, relatives of party members or those Jews and Serbs who were active supporters
of the new government. People of non-Aryan birth who had proven themselves to be
Croatian nationalists before the war or who had married Croats prior to the establishment
of the NDH were accorded the same rights as Aryans in the state.''^
The ambiguity in the treatment of minorities raised several issues. First, how could
one prove one's loyalty to the Croatian nationalist cause? The Ustasa government
recorded the receipt of hundreds of petitions - such as requests for Aryan rights, requests

39

not to wear the Jewish sign, permission to work, requests for an exemption from antiJewish measures,'*^ and so forth - asking for leniency because of loyalty to the Croatian
state or, in one case, because of a lack of involvement in politics.^" Some petitions were
successful, such as that of two Jewish women, Gizela Herzog and her daughter Eli
Kaufer, who obtained an official letter of declaration from the Ustasa authorities stating
that both were to be recognized as "true Croats" because of their long-standing
membership in Croatian nationalist women's organizations.^' Sometimes people's
professional expertise qualified as service to the state; many prominent Jewish doctors
and businessmen were exempted from restrictions for this reason. For example, in his
memoirs, Macek related that a minister of the Ustasa government reacted in shock when a
well-known Jewish surgeon reported to a meeting wearing the Jewish sign on his chest:
"By God, doctor, there is no need for you to go around with this thing."^^ Another Jew,
Alexander Klein, even represented Ustasa headquarters on a business trip to Hungary and
Italy."
Another area of ambiguity was the status of people in mixed marriages and
particularly the status of their offspring. While conversion to Catholicism in itself did not
guarantee immunity from persecution, people who were converts to Catholicism and
married to Catholics received honorary Aryan status. Melita Svob, who interviewed
many Jewish survivors of persecution in the NDH, noted that there were additional,
complicated considerations;
It was different if the wife was of Aryan origin of the husband. If the husband
was an Aryan, the Jewish woman had to change her religion in the Catholic
Church, and the children of such marriage were to be considered Aryans. When

40

the woman was an Aryan and the man Jew, the decisions concerning such
marriage were different. It also depended on the fact whether the children were
baptized or not.^"^
Thus, despite the official theories of race propounded by the Ustasa, officials in the NDH
were often more pragmatic in practice, often willing to exempt well-connected Serbs, or
especially Jews, from the state's draconian legal restrictions.
While the Serbian and Jewish questions loomed large in Ustasa thinking, little
attention was paid to the Roma even though the persecution of Roma was just as harsh as
that directed against Serbs and Jews. Mark Biondich in his study of the treatment of the
Roma in the Independent State of Croatia noted that Roma were never mentioned in pre
war Ustasa writings; only after the Ustasa assumption of power in 1941 was there some
debate in political circles about the policy toward this segment of the population.^^ By
July 1941, the Croatian government ordered all Roma in Zagreb to register with the
police or they would be severely punished.^^ The central government then directed local
police offices to compile a census of Roma in their localities and organized the
deportation of any nomadic Roma who had entered NDH territory after the outbreak of
the war.^^ Deportation to concentration camps would follow later. Even as the
persecution of the Roma escalated, the Croatian press remained silent about the issue, a
marked contrast to reporting about measures taken against Jews and Serbs.
For the Ustasa, the persecution of the Serbs, rather than of Jews and Roma, was the
primary objective, a factor that represents an anomaly in Holocaust historiography.
According to Huber, who served in the 1990s as president of a Jasenovac survivors'
organization, the Ustasa's treatment of Jews and Roma was copied from Nazi Germany,

41

while the persecution of the Serbs was the product of a "domestic racism" unique to
Croatia.^^ In the mid-1940s, the findings of the Land Commission of Croatia for the
Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators reached this same
conclusion, noting that in regions with a large native-German population, the
Volksdeutsche took responsibility for the persecution of the Jews, while the Croatian
Ustasa focused on the persecution of the Serbs.Yugoslav social historian Smilja
Avramov concurred that anti-Serbian attitudes were deeply rooted in Croatia: "Genocide
of the Serbs is a much more complex issue and cannot be explained as merely an
extension of Nazi policy to include the Serbs."^*^ Although Avramov approached the
issue from a sociological standpoint while Aleksa Djilas examined the issue from a
political perspective, both agreed that the roots of Croatian policies toward the Serbs hark
back to the nineteenth century nationalist traditions of Starcevic and his successors. As
Djilas noted: "For all their imitation of Nazism and fascism, the simple and, perhaps,
terrible truth is that the essentials of the Ustashas' ideology were not much outside the
mainstream of Croatian nationalism....It was their methods that made them distinctive."^'
In other words, deeply rooted anti-Serb attitudes in Croatia shaped the course of the
Holocaust in the NDH, and led, according to Avramov, to the "moral imperviousness of a
large segment of the Croatian people to the sufferings of the Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies."^^
The centrality of the Serbian question affected the methods adopted by the Ustasa in
its attempt to create an ethnically homogenous Croatian state. Legal restrictions against
national minorities represented merely the first step toward this goal, but organized
genocide through the concentration camp system soon followed. Jews and Roma, lesser

42

threats both in numbers and in terms of political power, could be contained through
concentration camps, but the plaimed elimination of nearly two million Serbs required
several additional measures: conversion from the Orthodox to the Catholic faith,
expulsion, and spontaneous massacres, as well as incarceration in concentration camps.
The Ustasa authorities relied mainly on the first three of these methods during the first
year of their rule, but each method proved to have serious drawbacks.
The forcible conversion of Orthodox Christians to Catholicism was a simple solution
since it sjanbolically erased the problem by transforming Serbs into Croats as religion
was the major criterion distinguishing between the two groups. The Ustasa authorities,
aided by some Catholic priests, organized the systematic murder of Orthodox priests, the
burning of many Orthodox churches, and the forced baptisms of Serbs into the Catholic
faith.^"^ Zdravko Antonic in his documented study of the persecution of Bosnian Serbs in
the NDH noted claims in contemporary Croatian and Bosnian periodicals that up to
70,000 Serbs were forcibly converted to Catholicism by late 1941

Although this figure

is probably exaggerated, mass conversions did indeed occur, and the participation of
many Catholic clergy was perceived as representing "tacit local (and Vatican)
ecclesiastical approval."^ However, even the most zealous of the Catholic clergy had to
recognize that forced conversions represented only a superficial solution, not an actual,
lasting change.
Another method of achieving ethnic homogeneity in the NDH was to evict many
thousands of Serbs from their homes in ethnically mixed areas of Bosnia and to deport
them to Serbia, but this solution also had its limitations. German authorities in the

43

Balkans had at first given their unofficial approval to the concept of resettlement,
especially as the Germans hoped to move some Slovenes into Croatia to make room for
Volksdeutsche settlers in Slovenia.^^ However, when the Ustasa organized the transfer of
17,000 people to Serbia between April and August 1941 and expelled approximately
90,000 others from their homes,^^ the German authorities controlling Serbia were
overwhelmed by the influx of refugees into their area and called a halt to further
population transfers.^ Therefore, the leaders of the Lidependent State of Croatia came to
recognize early on that, given the limitations of forced conversions and resettlement,
killing large numbers of the Serbs was the only permanent way to rid Croatia of the
Serbs.
In the first months after the creation of the NDH, the Ustasa organized local massacres
of Serbs in public places such as the Orthodox Church in Glina and the Karitska Jama
gorge in Hercegovina^^ For Milija Bjelica, a Serb who managed to escape from the mass
grave at Karitska Jama, the specter that "accompanies me like a shadow throughout my
whole life" is the fact that "among the murderers our acquaintances and nearest neighbors
71
were most active." In fact, there were numerous cases in which Muslims and Croats
alike, even Catholic priests, participated in the brutal killing of Serbs from their area,
people who had previously been their neighbors and coworkers.
Djilas analyzed the reasons behind the "participatory and open character of Ustasha
terrorism" in the early months of the NDH.

The basic problem for the Ustasa was

building a broad base of support since the movement had, before the war, been small, on
the fringe of Croatian politics.^^ Lacking the resources to organize the liquidation of

44

several million Serbs in concentration camps, the regime hoped to intimidate the Serbs
and thus gain their submission to the new order7'* If these measures provoked the Serbs
to rebel, that too would serve the Ustasa cause. The government hoped that Serbian
reprisals against civilians would create a wider rift between the Serbs and the more
moderate Croatian and Muslim elements, creating a "feeling of irreversibility in SerbCroat relations that would make any thought of a revived Yugoslavia literally
unthinkable."^^ This assessment seems to be borne out by the fact that only Serbs, rarely
"Ift
Jews and Roma, were victims of spontaneous public killings. Furthermore, according
to Djilas, both the NDH and the German occupation forces considered terrorism and
genocide as fundamental national duties, an integral part of the new fascist world order.
Ustasa leaders encouraged new recruits to their cause to participate in killings as soon as
possible, both to demonstrate their commitment to Croatian nationalism and to ensure
their continued loyalty by driving a wedge between them and their co-nationalists outside
of the Ustasa movement.^^ Finally, the killings seemed to be sanctioned by the Croatian
Catholic Church as a way to advance the cause of Catholicism by ridding Croatia of
adherents of the Orthodox Church.
Massive, public killings proved to have several drawbacks. The Ustasa soon found
that the brutality of its new regime did not create a broader base of support for the
movement, but rather aroused opposition among its own people, as will be seen in the
next chapter. In addition, the terror provoked the Serbian population to organize
paramilitary bands, Cetnik [self defense] units, that carried out reprisals against Croatian
and Muslim civilians, leading many citizens to feel that the new government was

45

incapable of ensuring the security of its people. The resulting unrest also caused tension
in relations between the government of the NDH and its German allies, for the Germans
criticized the disorder in the NDH.^^ Thus, within the first year of the Ustasa's rise to
power, the government began to modify its policy toward the Serbs by discontinuing
public killings of Serbian villagers and expanding its system of concentration camps to
handle an increasing number of Serbian peasants as well as the Jews, Roma, and political
prisoners who had been the camps' first inmates.
Although the Ustasa established many concentration camps throughout the NDH,

70

the Jasenovac camp complex, consisting of five sub-camps strung out along the Sava
River about sixty miles south of Zagreb and not far from Bosnia, soon became the
centerpiece of Croatia's system of persecution. The first two sub-camps to be established
were Krapje and Brocice, commonly referred to as Jasenovac I and II respectively, but
they were only in existence for a few months before massive flooding caused them to be
abandoned in fall 1941. The main parts of Jasenovac then became Camp III, the
Brickyard Camp [Ciglana], and Camp IV, the Leatherwork Camp [Kozara], that housed
several workshops, including a chain mill, electric power plant, tailor shop, and cobbler's
workshop in addition to the brickyard and leatherwork shop. The oldest section of the
Jasenovac complex, but the last to be officially incorporated into the system as Jasenovac
V, was Stara Gradiska, which had been a Habsburg prison since 1799 and had become a
place to detain political prisoners after the establishment of the Yugoslav kingdom in
1918.^ In the first months after the rise of the Ustasa to power, Stara Gradiska remained
a prison. However, with the influx of Croatian political prisoners into Jasenovac, the

Greater
German

Loborgrad
lanica

Hungary

Jarak
Tenje

Zagreb

Italy

Croatia

Osijek

Kraljevica

Stara Gradiska
Jadovno

Gospic

Bosnia-Hercegovina

Serbia

Montenegro
Indicates pre-1918
borders

Important Concentration Camps and Transit Camps in


the Independent State of Croatia^

ON

48

Ustasa decided to convert Stara Gradiska into a concentration camp and establish it as a
branch of the Jasenovac complex.

Besides housing male prisoners, Stara Gradiska

became the only section of Jasenovac for women and children.


Those prisoners who were formally admitted into any of the five sub-camps
considered themselves lucky since camp guards executed most prisoners on the killing
grounds of Gradina, located just outside Jasenovac, immediately upon their arrival at the
camp. In fact, NDH Minister of the Interior Andrija Artukovic alluded to the mass killing
of prisoners when he stated that the Jasenovac camp could "receive an unlimited number
of prisoners."^'' Inmates were first stripped of all possessions except for the clothes they
were wearing.^^ Then, camp officials assigned all adult male inmates a job in one of the
workshops or as outdoor laborers tending livestock, cutting wood, digging graves, or
building a dam to prevent flooding in the camps. The relatively small number of women
admitted to Stara Gradiska^ were mostly assigned to agricultural work or even sent as
slave laborers to Germany. Most of the work sites contributed little to the economy
outside the camp system. Therefore, Jasenovac was not a 'work camp,' organized for the
exploitation of labor, but rather a 'concentration camp' or even a 'death camp,' which had
as the primary goal the killing of as many prisoners as possible.
Jasenovac, which handled tens of thousands of people during the four years of its
existence, required a great deal of manpower to run. First, the Ustasa endeavored to gain
at least the tacit consent of the population in the surrounding area. Support was ensured
in an unusual manner: the Ustasa deported or killed the mostly Serbian villagers who had
originally inhabited the area around Jasenovac and turned over their land to Ustasa

49

families and poor peasants brought in to do manual labor for the camp officials. In
addition, the government needed administrators and guards to operate the camps. Damir
Mirkovic, who studied the victims and perpetrators of the genocide in the NDH, noted
that the Ustasa organization included many Catholic clergymen as members.87 Vladimir
Dedijer indicated that clerics were also well represented in the Jasenovac administration,
among them the most notorious director of the camp, the brutal Catholic monk Miroslav
Filipovic-Majstorovic.^^ The lower-level guards at Jasenovac, on the other hand, were
usually uneducated peasants, often from desperately poor, rural regions such as
Hercegovina.
Even in the midst of such a brutal era as the Holocaust, the Ustasa stood out, not only
in terms of the percentage of the population it targeted but also in the methods it used. In
the German-run death camps outside Croatia, modern technology such as the gas
chambers allowed concentration camp guards to distance themselves from the killing.
The guards at Jasenovac, however, employed more hands-on methods, executing tens of
thousands of victims at close range, sometimes with bullets but more often with hammers
and mallets. Some camp directors became personally involved in the killing, such as
Vjekoslav Luburic who was notorious for using a knife to murder prisoners on Christmas
80

Eve.

When the gravediggers - prisoners who were themselves slated for execution -

could not keep up with their work, bodies were often thrown into the Sava River so that
they could "swim to Belgrade," the Serbian capital, located along the confluence of the
Sava and the Danube Rivers. The perpetrators suppressed any sense of guilt by regarding
the victims as less than human and as a threat to the Croatian nation.^" Any prisoner who

50

tried to establish some personal contact with the guards aroused their fury, such as the
prisoner who referred to a guard as a brother and was viciously beaten for that
familiarity.^' Under these conditions, prisoners were well aware that their chance of
long-term survival was slight.
Jasenovac opened soon after the establishment of the NDH. Throughout the summer
and fall of 1941, Jewish men between the ages of 16 and 60 were taken from their homes
and deported to the camps. Jewish women and children followed, starting in November
of that year. However, not all Jews were equally at risk of being deported to the camps.
According to Ado Kabiljo, the first Jews taken in Bosnia were arrested because of their
association with Serbs.^^ Ustasa authorities allowed Jewish committees in Zagreb and
other big cities to remain free so as to supply food to detainees being transported to the
camps and, later, to send food, clothing, and other supplies to support prisoners during
their incarceration.^^ Although camp guards stole a lot of these supplies, some food
reached the prisoners, and the committees continued their shipments until the liquidation
of the camps in April 1945.'' In addition to members of these committees, some Jewish
doctors were also spared, especially in Bosnia where the Ustasa assigned about seventy
Jewish doctors to fight endemic syphilis in the towns,^ or were given a privileged
position within the camps.
From late June 1941 until spring 1942, Jewish prisoners made up an overwhelming
majority of the inmate population;^ however, a growing number of political prisoners,
mostly Communists, came from various ethnic groups: Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian
Muslims, as well as Jews. A turning point came after the hard-fought Battle of Kozara

51

between the fascist forces - German, ItaUan, and Croatian Ustasa troops - and the
Partisans in the summer of 1942. When the Partisans were driven from the area, which
98

was near enough to Jasenovac for prisoners to hear the sounds of the artillery, the
Ustasa began massive deportations of whole villages full of Serbs, who had presumably
aided the Partisan forces. Croatian troops herded men, women, and children to the
camps. Although Ustasa camp guards executed most of the new arrivals outside the
entrance to the camp, they admitted enough new prisoners to strain the already meager
resources of the camps and further reduce the standard of living there.^^
Over time, the ethnic composition of the prison population became more diverse. At
the same time as large numbers of Serbs joined the original population of Jews and
political prisoners - mostly Croat and Muslim - in Jasenovac, Roma began arriving at the
camp as well. The deportation of Roma to the camps began in May 1942, much later than
the deportation of Jews. The Ustasa moved slowly in persecuting the Roma because the
primary focus of Croatian nationalists was on the Jewish and Serbian questions and
because many Muslims objected to anti-Roma legislation.^'''' Yet despite the slow start,
tens of thousands of Roma arrived at the camps after the spring of 1942. Camp officials
executed the vast majority of Roma prisoners outside of Jasenovac,"" meaning that Roma
had a comparatively smaller impact on the prison population than Serbs. Nonetheless,
enough Roma arrived in the camp to change its ethnic balance.
As Sava Petrovic, a Serbian former inmate, later testified, by mid-1942, more Serbs
than Jews were in Jasenovac.'"^ Ljubo Milos, one of the camp commanders, agreed with
that assessment, stating at his trial after the war: "While I was in charge in Jasenovac, the

52

largest part of the prisoners were Serbs, a smaller part were Jews, and a very small
number Croats, while Gypsies were immediately taken for liquidation and so were not
taken into the camp."'*'^ By 1944 no new transports of Jews were arriving at Jasenovac
since by that time all the Jews of Croatia and Bosnia had already been arrested, were in
the committees supplying food for the camps, or were in hiding.

Therefore, the Serbs

became an even greater majority in the camps during the last years of the war.
The socioeconomic background of the prisoners also changed over time. In the early
days of Jasenovac, most prisoners, whether they were arrested as Jews, Serbs, or political
opponents, were "more or less all intellectuals."'''^ Later, the large-scale arrests of
Serbian villagers after the struggle for Kozara brought in less educated peasants, and the
few Roma who entered the camp tended to be from a lower socioeconomic class as well.
Thus, the prison population in the NDH changed noticeably over the four years of its
existence.
Within the camp system, officials separated the prisoners by ethnicity, a systematic
division that began at the time of their arrest. An official police directive dated 23 July
1941 clearly stated that political prisoners, specifically those accused of membership in
the Communist Party, should receive different sentencing according to ethnicity, with
Bosnian Muslim and Croatian communists being held in temporary custody and Serbian
and Jewish communists sent directly to concentration camps.' Mihaljlo Marie, a
Serbian survivor of Jasenovac, verified that this policy was put into practice. When
police arrested him in a roundup of Communist Party members,'''^ officials of the NDH
sent the Serbs, including Marie, and Jews arrested in the raid to the camps but released

53

Croatians arrested in the same raid.'^^ In the case of the Roma, both ethnicity and
religion determined their fate. Muslim Roma were not sent to Jasenovac at all; Orthodox
ones were arrested and sent to the camps; Catholic ones were sometimes used as laborers
for the Ustasa in the area around the camps but were later killed when it was presumed
that they "knew too much."' Thus, ethnic origin, with religious affiliation factored into
the equation, determined the fate of people accused of crimes in the Independent State of
Croatia.
Within the Croatian concentration camps themselves, the Ustasa attempted to keep
ethnic groups separate from one another. Ustasa authorities often sent people arrested in
the first weeks after the proclamation of the NDH to the Danica camp, where Jews, Serbs,
and Croats were held in separate areas.Soon afterwards, Jews and Serbs were shipped
to different, presumably harsher, camps while Croatian prisoners remained at Danica.'''
Within the Jasenovac system, the same divisions occurred, at least initially. Serbs, Jews,
119
Croats, and Muslims were assigned to separate sections of the camp, sometimes with
barbed wire between the sections, as was the case in the short-lived Jasenovac II.113
Camp officials even attempted to divide Ashkenazic from Sephardic Jews."'* Those
whom the authorities classified as Croats, including people who identified themselves as
Serbs but who were not of the Orthodox faith - those who had converted to the
evangelical Protestant faith or who were Uniates - were held in the Croatian part of the
Stara Gradiska camp."^
The division along ethnic lines, which sprang directly from the Ustasa ideology of
racial purity, led to a hierarchy of prisoner groups within the camps. Since Croats and

54

Bosnian Muslims represented the leading nations in the NDH, these groups received
preferential treatment within the camps. Ironically, this meant, in effect, that the Ustasa
usually accorded political prisoners, who had been arrested because of their opposition to
the new government, better food and living conditions than prisoners who had committed
no crime at all. Jews and Serbs, who constituted the majority of camp inmates, occupied
a more or less equal position within the prison system, despite Serbian claims that Jews
were better treated than Serbs''^ and Jewish claims that Serbs were better treated than
Jews.''' In reality, the only matter in which Serbs seemed to have had an advantage was
in the exchange of prisoners between Ustasa and Partisan forces, for the Ustasa was more
likely to trade Serbian prisoners than Jewish ones.''^
Prisoner testimonies usually agree, however, that the worst treatment in Jasenovac was
accorded to the Roma, a group that was particularly vulnerable as it was less united than
Croatia's Jewish community and less numerous than the area's Serbian community. In
addition, many in the Ustasa apparently felt a particular enmity toward this group because
of the presumed "lawless tendencies" of the Gypsies."^ The Roma in Croatia thus
suffered grievously, with approximately 90 percent of their number dying during the four
years of war, a higher proportion than either Serbian or Jewish losses in the region.120
When Roma arrived at Jasenovac, camp guards immediately killed most of the women
and children and many of the men on the fields of Gradina outside of the camp. Ustasa
guards assigned the Roma men who survived the initial selection to the 'Gypsy Camp' in
191
camp IIIC, which was the worst part in the worst camp of the Jasenovac system.
Therefore, as in Dante's Inferno, Jasenovac had different levels of hell, and Roma

55

inhabited the lowest level.


Within the camps, the prison guards meted out punishment according to a prisoner's
ethnic group. For example, when some Jewish prisoners escaped in 1943, camp officials
forced the Jews held in Stara Gradiska to return to Jasenovac-proper and to wear chains
for three months.In another case, Ustasa reprisals against Jewish inmates after the
discovery of the involvement of a few of their co-religionists in a scandal called the 'Gold
Affair' led a fellow Jewish prisoner, Sado Koen-Davko, to state that he wanted to kill the
offenders with his OAvn hands.Similarly, the Ustasa held Serbian prisoners
accountable for offenses committed by Serbs,'^"* even executing some Serbian prisoners
in retaliation for Partisan attacks on the area near Stara Gradiska'^^ under the assumption
that Serbian villagers in the NDH were the organizers of the attack. Thus, prison
authorities held each ethnic group collectively responsible for the actions of anyone else
from the same ethnic group.
The Ustasa's obsession with ethnicity also resulted in an unusual experiment within
Stara Gradiska in which prison officials tried to determine whether Serbian children could
be reeducated to switch their allegiance to the Croatian people. Looking back to an
Ottoman Turkish tradition of abducting Balkan children, training them in the Ottoman
way of life, and using them as a loyal work force to fill even high-level positions, the
Ustasa experimented with creating their own cadre of 450 so-called Janissaries'^*^ from
among the children in the camp.

197

Apparently, the experiment was unsuccessful, for the

authorities soon gave up trying to transform concentration camp children into an Ustasa
force.

56

The most controversial question involving the Jasenovac camp system is the number
of victims. The exact number is difficult to determine due to the fact that, in the final
days of the camp, the Ustasa burned all the registers and even the camp itself

I '^O

The lack

of documentation has led to controversy in Yugoslav historiography between those


termed as "minimizers," who claim that 40,000 - 50,000 victims died in Jasenovac,129
and the "maximizers," who insist on the much larger figure of 700,000 victims of
Jasenovac'^'' and one million victims in the NDH as a whole. There are many reasons for
such a huge discrepancy. The Yugoslav goverrmient released the larger figure
immediately after the Second World War with a specific purpose: to show Yugoslavia's
great suffering in the war so as to gain more in any reparations payments that might be
1-11

forthcoming from Italy and Germany.

In more recent times, the debate over the

number of dead in Jasenovac has become even more acrimonious. Some Serbs within
Croatia and Bosnia have used the figure of 700,000 or even one million dead to justify to
world public opinion and to their own people their desire to break with the newly
established Croatian and Bosnian states, while Croatian nationalists have countered with
claims that up to 300,000 fleeing Croats,civilians as well as soldiers,were killed by
vengeful Partisan forces in the final days of the war. Thus, historical accuracy has been
sacrificed in the interest of specific political purposes both in the immediate postwar
period and in the 1990s.
More recent studies by Bogoljub Kocovic and Vladimir Zerjavic - based on a
statistical analysis of population, emigration, and birth figures - refuted the more
exaggerated claims. Kocovic's calculations put total Serb losses in Croatia at 125,000

57

and in Bosnia-Hercegovina at 209,000.Although these figures mean "that in the NDH


approximately one of every six Serbs lost his or her life during the war,"'^^ the numbers
include all Serbian casualties, people who died in the fighting, in massacres, and in the
wartime typhus epidemic as well as in the camps. In other words, the figure of 700,000
dead in Jasenovac alone must be greatly inflated. Zerjavic concurred. His calculations
put the number of victims killed at Jasenovac at approximately 85,000, including 50,000
Serbs, 13,000 Jews, 10,000 Roma, and 12,000 Croatian and Bosnian Muslim political
prisoners.Interestingly enough, a recently published book by Jozo Tomasevich
disagreed with Zerjavic's assessment of the number of Roma victims. Putting the pre
war figure of the Roma population of the NDH at 25,000 in 1941 and noting that the 1948
census figures for the same area identified only 847 Roma, he concluded that Jakob
Danon's estimate of 20,000 Roma killed at Jasenovac was probably more accurate.

I'in

Regardless of the exact numbers, it is evident that, although they are considerably lower
than the estimates of contemporary Serbian nationalists, the number of dead is still
astounding, leading writers such as Avramov, a Serb, to suggest the existence of an
"abysmal moral depravity of a large section of Croatian society."'^^
While Avramov's analysis seems to make sense within the context of contemporary
political developments, a focus on the breakdown of Yugoslav unity ignores the powerful
ties that bind together Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Yugoslav Jews. These ties
were damaged but not broken between 1941 and 1945, despite the terrible strain on ethnic
relations during the years of Ustasa ascendancy in Croatia. In fact, it took only four years
for the NDH to fail, and paradoxically, the failure was most evident within the NDH

58

itself, an area that had taken the lead in developing the 'Yugoslav' orientation of the
Partisans into a national program. It was precisely the extremism of the Ustasa and the
horrors of the persecution in Croatia that alienated much of the population from the
fascist cause, so that the Ustasa movement, in trying to put forth a policy of ethnic
separation, evoked the opposite response, an increase in cooperation among people of
various ethnic groups.

59

Notes to Chapter 2

^ As Croatia is shaped like a boomerang, Croatian nationalists have always coveted the
territory of Bosnia-Hercegovina to round out the country's territory, giving it more
defensible borders. In addition, the presence of a significant Croatian minority in that
region makes the armexation of Bosnia necessary in order to achieve the nationalist ideal
of bringing all Croats within the Croatian state. In fact Pavelic referred to Bosnia as "the
heart of the Croatian people." CxpaxHita Kyp^yJinja (Strahinja Kurdulija), 'TenoiiHA
uajj, cp6HMa y HesaBHcnoj ^acasH XpsaxcKoj" (Genocide against the Serbs in the
Independent State of Croatia), in Cp6u y XpeamcKoj: HaceAyaeaibe, 6poj u
mepumopujcuiHU pasMetumaj (Serbs in Croatia: Settlement, number, and territorial
distribution), edited by Vujadin Rudic (Beograd: Geografski fakultet Univerziteta u
Beogradu, 1993), 242.
^ Croatian historian Ante Beljo considers the collapse of Yugoslavia to represent a
"plebiscite of the Croatian people for a Croatian state," especially as virtually all Croatian
officers in the Yugoslav army threw their support behind the newly-created Croatian
state. Ante Beljo, Genocide: A Documented Analysis, translated by D. Sladojevic-Sola
(Sudbury: Northern Tribune Publishing, 1985), 74.
^ Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of
tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape 1,
5.
Adapted from a map in the database of the Wexner Learning Center in the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum. It comes from the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1996).
^The territories ceded to Italy included territories along the Adriatic coast as well as most
of the islands just offshore. For an exact listing of the lands granted to Italy, see:
"Ugovor o odredivanju granica izmedu kraljevine Hrvatske i kraljevine Italije"
(Agreement on the determination of the borders between the kingdom of Croatia and the
kingdom of Italy), 18 May 1941, inNezavisna Drzava Hrvatska Ministarstvo Vanjskih
Poslova (Independent State of Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Medunarodni ugovori
1941 (International agreements 1941) (Zagreb: Hrvatska Dr&vna Tiskara, 1941), 49-50.
^Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, translated by Elizabeth and Stjepan Gazi
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1957), 233.
It is important to note that exact figures are difficult to determine for several reasons.
For one thing, in the 1931 census, the last to be conducted before the war, the country was
divided into nine administrative units, banovinas, with borders that did not correspond to

60

the traditional regional designations or to the borders of the later NDH. In addition, the
number of Jews is difficult to determine from the census figures, as Jews were included
under the broad category of "others, those without a religion, and unknown." Finally,
population changes occurred during the decade between the 1931 census and the outbreak
of World War 11. See the results of the 1931 census: Kraljevina Jugoslavia, Opstina
Drzavna Statistika (Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Office of State Statistics), Dejinitivni
Rezultati Popisa Stanovnistva (Definitive results of a census of the population)
(Microfilm, University of Texas, Austin).
^ Smilja Avramov, Genocide in Yugoslavia (Belgrade: BIGZ, 1995), 235.
^ Menachem Shelah, "Genocide in Satellite Croatia during the Second World War," in A
Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, ed. Michael
Berenbaum (New York: New York University Press, 1990), 74.
'Ibid., 74.
''ibid., 74.
Ibid., 74.
Ibid., 74.
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1990).
Shelah, 74.
David M. Crowe, A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia (New York:
St. Martin's Press, 1995), 219.
'^Mara Vejnovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 17 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1,3.
Cedomil Huber, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1,1.
Vladimir Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, translated by Harvey L.
Kendall (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1992), 130.
on

Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and


Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 282.

61

The Volksdeutsch were mostly located in Slavonia and Srem although there were
smaller numbers in northern Bosnia.
A.N. Stotzer, "Stellung des Volksdeutschtums in Kroatien" (The position of the native
German population in Croatia), Neue Ordnung (The new order) (Zagreb), 23 August
1942, article found in the Friedrich Katz collection, Part 3, Box 12 (Archives of the
Hoover Institution on War Revolution and Peace, Stanford University).
"Zapovjednictvo II. domobranskog zbora" (The command of the 2"^" Civil Defense
Company), collection of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Records
Relating to Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yugoslav Peoples during World War
II, 1941-1943 Reports, Lists, Orders (microfiche, USHMM Archives) (hereafter Crimes
against Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples).
Pavle Vinski, testimony before the Land Commission of the People's Republic of
Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators, 19441947, dated 7 September 1945, Croatian Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM
Archives).
"Obavjestajni izvjestaj zatrecu deseticu od 19-29. srpnja 1941 godine zapovjedniku
kopnene vojske Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske" (Informational report for the third ten-day
period from the 19*'' - 29"* of July 1941 to the commander of the ground forces of the
Independent State of Croatia), Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples.
The concept of Croats as part of a superior, 'Aryan' race was embodied in a series of
racial laws promulgated the end of April 1941. To explain to the Croatian people the new
laws and the new terminology used in those laws, Ustasa authorities published
"Tumacenje rasnih zakonskih odredbi" (Translation of racial legal orders), 2 May 1941,
in Ustasa: Dokumenti o ustaskom pokretu (Ustasa: Documents of the Ustasa movement),
edited by Petar Pozar (Zagreb: Zagrebacka Stvamost, 1995), 165-169 (hereafter cited as
Ustasa).
-yj

For the purpose of this dissertation, the term 'Bosnian Muslim' is redundant. While
Serbs lived in both Bosnia and Croatia and could thus be labeled 'Bosnian Serbs' or
'Croatian Serbs,' virtually all the Muslims in the NDH lived in Bosnia, making the term
'Bosnian Muslims' repetitious.
First Osman Kulenovic, then his brother Dzafer-beg Kulenovic, served in this role.
^^Ivan Tolj, "Izvjestaj o prilikama u Sarajevu i ostalom dielu Bosne" (Report on
conditions in Sarajevo and other areas of Bosnia), dated 4 November 1941, in Zlocini na

62

jugoslovenskim prostorima u prvom i drugom svetskom ratu: Zbornik dokumenata


(Atrocities on Yugoslav territories in the First and Second World Wars: A collection of
documents), vol. 1, compiled by Slavko Vukcevic, Zlocini Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske,
1941.-1945 (Atrocities in the Independent State of Croatia) (Beograd: Vojnoistorijski
Institut, 1993], 814 (hereafter cited as Zlocini).
^"Nalog ustaske nadzome sluzbe zupskoj redarstvenoj oblasti Sarajevo" (Order of the
Ustasa supervisor to the district police for the Sarajevo region), dated 9 June 1942, in
Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac, 1941-1945: Dokumenta (The Jasenovac concentration
camp, 1941-1945), vol. 2, compiled by Antun Miletic (Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986),
305 (hereafter cited as Kon. log. Jasenovac).
"Desetodnevni izvestaj stozera Vrbaskog divizijskog podrucja" (Ten-Day report of the
chief officer of the Vrbaska Territorial Division), dated 29 July 1941, Crimes against
Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples.
"Zakonsku odredbu o drzavljanstvu" (Constitutional ordinance on citizenship), 30
April 1941, collection of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Records
Relating to the Occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II, 1940-1947: Orders,
Announcements, Reports, Lists, Memoranda (Microfiche, USHMM Archives) (hereafter
cited as Occup. of Yug).
Ustasa leader Ante Pavelic, writing as early as 1936, denied that Serbs and Croats are
related peoples. Pavelic, Ante. "Hrvatsko pitanje" (Croatian question), 28 October 1936,
Ustasa.
Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske (Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in the Independent State of Croatia), Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska na braniku nove Europe
(The Independent State of Croatia on the ramparts of a new Europe) (Zagreb:
Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske, 1942), 9-11.
Ante Pavelic, "Zakonsku odredbu o zastiti arijske krvi i casti Hrvatskog naroda" (Legal
ordinance on the defense of Aryan blood and the honor of the Croatian people), dated 30
April 1941, in Zlocini, vol. 1, 25.
Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Harper Colophon
Books, 1961), 455.

Ante Pavelic, "Zakonska odredba o obveznoj prijavi imetka zidova i zidovskih


poduzeca" (Legal order on the required registration of Jewish property and Jewish
businesses), 5 May 1941, in Ustasa.

63

Tomasevich, 384-385.
"Zidovi i Srbi moraju za 8 dana napustiti sjevemi dio Zagreba" (Jews and Serbs have 8
days to leave the northern part of Zagreb), 9 May 1941, in Ustasa, 172-173.
"Povjerenistvu za Bosnu i Hercegovinu prosvjetnom odjelu" (Regulation of the
Ministry of Religion and Education for Bosnia and Hercegovina), dated 16 May 1941,
Occup. ofYug.
"Zidovsko ce se pitanje radikalno rijesiti" (The Jewish question will be radically
solved), Hrvatski narod (Croatian Nation), dated 6 May 1941, in Occup. ofYug.
Ustaski Stan pozega opcinskom poglavarstvu Velika" (Regulation of the Ministry of
Religion and Education for Bosnia and Hercegovina), dated 13 May 1941, in Occup. of
Yug.
Ante Pavelic, Ante "Zakonska odredba o upucivanju nepocudnih i pogibeljnih osoba
na prisilni boravak u sabime i radne logore" (Legal order on the instructing of
objectionable and dangerous individuals through forced residence in assembly and work
camps), 25 November 1941, in Ustasa, 215-216.
"Nalog ravnateljstva ustaskog redarstva Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske u Zagrebu" (Order
of the Directorate of the Ustasa Police of the Independent State of Croatia in Zagreb),
dated 23 July 1941, and "Nalog ravnateljstva za javni red i sigumost Nezavisne Drzave
Hrvatske" (Order of the Directorate for Public Order and Security of the Independent
State of Croatia), dated 14 August 1941, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 2, 56-57 and 73.
Milan Bulajic, Ustaski zlocini genocida i sudenje Andriji Artukovicu 1986. godine
(Ustasa Atrocities of Genocide and the Trial of Andrija Artukovic in 1986), vol. 4
(Beograd: Izdavacka radna organizacia "RAD," 1988-1989), 818.
Okruzna komisija za utvrdjivanje zlocina okupatora i njihovih pomagaca (Regional
Commission for the Determination of the Crimes of the Occupiers and Their
Collaborators), report dated 1 October 1945, in The Land Commission of the People's
Republic of Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their
Collaborators, 1944-1947, Croatian National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM
Archives) (hereafter cited as Land Commission).
"^^Macek, 233.
"Zakonsku odredbu o rasnoj pripadnost" (Legal ordinance on racial affiliation), 30
April 1941, Occup. ofYug.

64

Ustaski redarstva zidovski odsjek (Ustasa police's Jewish division). "Kazalo" (Index),
n.d., in Lobar Grad, Gornja Rijeka, Jasenovac, Kruscica, and Kupar: Concentration
Camp Records (Microfilm, USHMM Archives) (hereafter cited as Concentration Camp
Records).
Karlo Stern, "Molba za pustnje iz logora" (Request for release from the camp), 15
October 1941, in Concentration Camp Records.
CI

Drustvo Hrvatska Zena (Croatian Women's Society), "Ocitovanje o Eli Kaufer Igizeli
Herzog" (Declaration on Eli Kaufer Igizeli Herzog), 4 September 1941, in Concentration
Camp Records.
" Ibid., 233.
" Hilberg, 457.
Melita Svob, Jews in Croatia: Holocaust Victims and Survivors (Zagreb: Research and
Documentation Center of the Holocaust Victims and Survivors in Croatia, 2000), 36.
Mark Biondich, "Persecution of Roma-Sinti in Croatia, 1941-1945," in Roma and Sinti,
Under-Studied Victims of Nazism: Symposium Proceedings (Washington D.C.: Center for
Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2002), 33.
" Ibid., 34.
" Ibid., 35.
Huber, tape 5, 9.
"Pogibija Zidova u Hrvatskoj" (The killing of Jews in Croatia), report dated 10 October
1945, Land Commission. See also "Memorandum on Jasenovac," drawn up on 29 May
1947, in Crimes of Ger. Occ.
Avramov, 389.
Aleksa Djilas, The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution,
1919-1953 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 115.
Avramov, 391.
" Ibid., 309.

65

Edmund Paris, Convert...or Die: Catholic Persecution in Yugoslavia during World


War II, translated from French by Lois Perkins (Chino: Chick Publications, 1988), 94-95.
Zdravko Antonic, Dokumenta o genocidu nad Srbima u Bosni i Hercegovini od aprila
do avgusta 1941 (Documents about the genocide of the Serbs in Bosnia and Hercegovina
from April to August 1941) (Banja Luka: Srpsko Sarajevo, 2001), 37.
Shelah, 77.
Martin Luther, telegram to the German Legation in Croatia, 17 July 1941, in
Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. 13 (Washington D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1964), 157-158 (hereafter cited as Ger. For.
Pol).
Tomasevich, 395.
Reinhard Heydrich, telegram to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, 26
September 1941, in Ger. For. Pol, 570.
Dedijer, 155-164.
Ibid., 160.
Djilas, 122.
TX

According to C. Michael McAdams, at its height in 1942, the Ustasa party had only
60,000 members, over 60% of whom were from impoverished western Hercegovina,
where there had always been strong anti-Serbian leanings. C. Michael McAdams,
Croatia: Myth and Reality (Arcadia, CA: Croatian Information Service, 1992), 31.
Although there were probably many more supporters of the Ustasa than actual party
members, it is still likely that they represented a minority of the population of the NDH.
Djilas, 122.
Srdja Trifkovic, Ustasa: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929-1945
(London: The Lord Byron Foiindation for Balkan Studies, 1998), 144.
lf\

Dorde Licma, Dossier Artukovic (Zagreb: Centar za informacije i publicitet, 1986), 55.
Djilas, 122-123.

78

Jonathan E. Gumz, "Wehrmacht Perceptions of Mass Violence in Croatia, 1941-1942,"

66

in The HistoricalJournal 44, no. 4 (December 2001), 1019-1020. This topic will be
considered in more detail in Chapter 6.
See the map on the next page. Not all of these were concentration camps; some were
transit camps through which prisoners passed on their way to camps such as Jasenovac. It
is significant to note that most of the camps were located in Croatia-proper, rather than in
Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Vjekoslav Zugaj, Stara Gradiska (Zagreb: N.T.D. Mato Lovrak, 1997), 197.
This map is adapted from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Historical
Atlas of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1996), 172-173. Note that the
NDH shared a border with Germany due to the latter's absorption of Austria and Slovenia
in addition to sharing a boundary with German-occupied Serbia.
This map is taken from the database of the Wexner Learning Center in the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum and comes from the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing,
1996), 176.
Ljubo Milos, "Ljubo Milos o koncentracionom logoru Jasenovac" (Ljubo Milos on the
Jasenovac concentration camp), in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 2, 1080.
Bulajic, Ustaski zlocini genocida, vol. 4, 818.
Unlike at the German-controlled camps, such as Auschwitz, prisoners in Ustasa camps
never wore uniforms.
Most women were killed in the fields of Gradina immediately upon their arrival and
thus never entered the camps.
Damir Mirkovic, "Victims and Perpetrators in the Yugoslav Genocide 1941-1945:
Some Preliminary Observations," in Holocaust and Genocide Studies 7, no. 3 (winter
1993), 327.
Dedijer, 268.

British report, 9 July 1949, in Milan Bulajic, UZG, 831.


Avramov, 296-297.
Gjuro Schwarz, testimony, dated 10 October 1945, in Land Commission.

67

Ado Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,8.
Slavko Radelj, statement before a Zagreb commission 21 May 1947, Crimes of Ger.
Occ. See also, Zidovska Bogostovna Obcina, Osijek (Jewish Religious Union, Osijek),
report dated 8 November 1941, Land Commission. See also, Zidovska Bogostovna
Opcina Brod (Jewish Religious Union, Brod), letter to Zidovska Bogostovna Opcina
Sarajevo (Jewish Religious Union, Sarajevo), dated 8 December 1941, in Dokumenti o
stradanju Jevreja u Logorima NDH (Documents on the persecution of Jews in the camps
of the NDH), compiled by Avram Pinto and David Pinto (Sarajevo: Jevrejska Opstina,
1972), 15.
Jakov Kabiljo, "Sjecanja Jakova Kabilja" (Memories of Jakov Kabiljo), in Secanja
Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the Jasenovac camp), compiled by
Dusan Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972), 97 (hereafter cited
as Secenja Jevreja).
Slavko Goldstein, "The Jews of Croatia in the Anti-Fascist Resistance," in AntiSemitism Holocaust Anti-Fascism, edited by Ivo Goldstein and Narcisa Lengel Krizman
(Zagreb: Jewish Community, 1997), 137 (hereafter cited as Anti-Semitism).
Ado Kabiljo, tape 1,8. See also, Ravnateljstvo ustaskog redarstva (Directorate of the
Ustasa Police), Zagreb, report dated 24 March 1942, Ustasa Ministry of Internal Affairs
of ISC Records, 1941-1945 (Microfilm, USHMM Archives).
07

Narcisa Lengel Krizman, "Camps for Jews in the Independent State of Croatia," in
Anti-Semitism, 92.
Ibid., 98.
Ibid., 99.
Biondich, 36-37.
Ibid., 39.
Sava Petrovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 12 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 2, 10.

68

Ljubo Milos, excerpts from his testimony, in Kon. Log. Jasenovac, vol. 2, 1016.
Jakov Kabiljo, 104.
Bozo Svarc, tape 1,8.
Ravnateljstvo ustaskog redarstva (Directorate of the Ustasa Police), Zagreb, report
dated 23 July 1941, circular, in Occup. ofYug.
Marie always claimed that he was falsely accused. According to his testimony, he
himself was not a party member at that time but merely the friend of two party activists.
Mihajlo Marie, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1,3.
Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.; U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
2, 13.
Milan Pollak, testimony dated 2 April 1947, in Land Commission.
Bozo Svarc, testimony, dated 17 July 1945, in Land Commission.
Adolf Fridrih, "Sjecanja Adolfa Fridriha" (Memories of Adolf Fridrih), in Secanja
Jevreja, 29.
Vukasin Zegarac, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade, dated 10 April 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1, 222.
Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,9.
Mara Vejnovic tape 2, 7. See also Duro Medic, testimony to Nedic's Commission for
Refugees and Those Who Resettled in Belgrade, dated 11 April 1942, in Kon. log.
Jasenovac, vol. 1, 230.
Drago Hadzi-Colakovic et al., testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and
Those Who Resettled in Belgrade, dated 13 April 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1,
248. See also, Milo Despot, interview by Jasa Almuli, 26 July 1997, Belgrade,
Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum Archives), tape 1, 20.

69

Jakob Danon, testimony dated 26 May 1945, Land Commission.


"^Ibid.
Dorde Milisa, U mucilistu-paklu Jasenovac (In the torture chamber-hell Jasenovac)
(Zagreb: n.p., 1991).
Biondich, 41.
1 '71

Jakica Danon, testimony, dated 19 June 1945, in Land Commission.


Sajer, tape 1,22.

1"yx

Sado Koen-Davko, "Sjecanja Sada Koena-Davka" (Memories of Sado Koen-Davko),


in Secanja Jevreja, 165.
Marie, tape 2,1.
19 ^

Jakica Finci, "Sjecanja Jakice Fmcija" (Memories of Jakica Finci), in Secanja Jevreja,
194.
The Janissaries were crack Ottoman troops, made up of soldiers who had been taken
as children from the Balkans, converted to Islam, and trained to become loyal slaves of
the Ottoman sultan.
Sajer, tape 5, 5.
19R

Report of the State Commission for Determining Crimes by the Occupying Forces, in
Occup. ofYug.
190

Among the "mmimizers," one must include the 1990's Croatian nationalist leader
Franjo Tudman, who claimed that the victims of Jasenovac could be numbered in the 30
and 40 thousands. See, Franjo Tudman, Bespucapovijesne zbiljnosti: Rasprava o
povijesti i filozoflji zlosilja (Wilderness of historical realities: The debate about the
history and philosophy of the power of evil), 2nd ed. (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod Matice
Hrvatske, 1989), 316.
Mirkovic, 320.
1 -7 1

Vladimir Zerjavic, Yugoslavia - Manipulations with the Number of Second World War
Victims (Zagreb: Croatian Information Centre, 1993), 31.

70

'^^Ibid., 10.
Zlatko Isakovic, Identity and Security in Former Yugoslavia (Aldershot: Ashgate
Publishing Limited, 2000), 42.
Bogoljub Kocovic, Zrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji (Victims of the Second
World War in Yugoslavia) (London, 1985), 126. Qtd. in Aleksa Djilas, The Contested
Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919-1953 (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1991), 126.
Djilas, 127.
Zerjavic, 31-32.
Tomasevich, 610.
Avramov, 342.

Chapter 3 - Reaction against the Persecution of Minority Groups in the


Independent State of Croatia
Although the collapse of Yugoslavia and the establishment of an independent
Croatia initially enjoyed widespread public support within Croatia, the Ustasa's brutal
treatment of the Serbs, Jews, and Roma quickly alienated the majority of the population'
and brought about a growing opposition to the violent policies of the state. Historian
Philip J. Cohen claims that the erosion of popular support occurred very soon after the
formation of the NDH, during the first five weeks of the new regime, as the Ustasa's
"lawless behavior - murders, persecutions, and robberies committed in the name of the
Pavelic regime - became general public knowledge." Cohen cites German sources as
showing that after these initial weeks, the Ustasa received the full support of only two
percent of the Croatian population. A personal account by Dragutin Kamber, a Croat
who initially greeted the establishment of the new state with overwhelming enthusiasm,'^
provides an example of this process. Kamber explains that within ten days of the
inauguration of the new regime, he already had misgivings about the internal policies of
the Ustasa government, particularly about its racist ideology - which he regarded as a
German imposition - and the Croatian leadership's failure to arrive at a moral and
Christian solution to the Serbian problem.^ Kamber himself retained some degree of
sympathy for the Ustasa,^ but many others did not. In fact, widespread disillusionment
with the brutality of the new government soon led to a revival of Yugoslavism, an
emphasis on the bonds joining the various peoples of Croatia and Bosnia, rather than a
focus on the issues separating people from different ethnic backgrounds.

To understand the process by which this reaction against the discriminatory policies
of the Ustasa regime occurred throughout the NDH, it is necessary to examine some
specific cases in which individuals belonging to one ethnic group assisted people from
another group. Then, an analysis of contemporary documents from that time period will
show whether these cases were perceived by contemporaries as isolated instances or
whether they represent, as scholars such as Elinor Despolatovic and Cohen suggest, a
general trend in Croatian public opinion away from the narrow national particularism
represented by the fascist government. Finally, it is important to consider whether
concern for people from other ethnic groups developed primarily among persecuted
nationalities' or whether significant numbers of people from the ruling groups - Croats,
native-Germans, and Bosnian Muslims - sympathized with the Serbs, Jews, and Roma
targeted by the government.
Many people in the NDH were first exposed to the genocidal nature of the regime
when people that they knew became victims of persecution. Since intermarriage between
Serbs and Croats, Croats and Jews, and Bosnian Muslims^ and Jews was quite common
in interwar Yugoslavia, some Croats and Muslims had close family members who were
targeted by the Ustasa. Quite a few individuals from favored ethnic groups took steps to
assist their less fortunate in-laws. For example, the wife of Jewish Jasenovac inmate
Josef Grossepais-Gil had a brother who was married to a Croatian woman. This woman
and her family regularly sent food packages to Grossepais-Gil during his incarceration in
the concentration camp.^ Eduard Sajer, a Bosnian Jew, also had non-Jewish relatives as
his sister Moncika was married to a Muslim man, who tried to save Moncika from

deportation to a camp.' Thus, some citizens of the NDH, although not initially engaged
in political opposition, intervened to help family members from persecuted minority
groups.
More frequently, Croats and Bosnian Muslims had friends, neighbors, or co-workers
from other ethnic groups, whom they tried to shield from the effects of Ustasa
persecution. For example, Josip Erlih, a Jewish teenager living in the Croatian region of
Slavonia in the early 1940s, described his mother's struggle to support the family during
the harsh winter of 1941-1942 after the Ustasa had arrested Josip's father. Instrumental
in their survival was his father's former colleague, a member of the Volksdeutsch (native
German) ethnic group, who considered himself a "great Yugoslav."'' This friend, a mill
owner, provided the Erlihs with so much flour that they were able to survive the winter
and even help feed Josip's aunt and her four children. Another Jew, Zdenka Novak, who
lived in Croatia, described how some Serbian friends offered to help her family by
providing her father with false papers indicating that he was a practicing Orthodox
Christian, an offer that he refused as representing a denial of his Jewish identity.'^ Olga
Njemirovski, also a Croatian Jew, wrote that the behavior of her family's Christian
friends was "in every way exemplary. They helped in everything that was necessary and
even didn't avoid dangerous situations for themselves in order to help us."'^ For
example, friends of the family agreed to hide their valuables, including jewels, fur coats,
and personal possessions, after the war returning to the Njemirovski family everything
that had been entrusted to them.'"* Not only was this an act that showed honesty and
integrity but also courage as the Ustasa had made the concealment of Jewish property a

punishable offense.'^ Njemirovski also described a "very nationalist-minded" couple,


Ustasa sympathizers who nonetheless helped Njemirovski and her family exchange
money so that they could get a fair rate of exchange that would have been denied to them
as Jews.'^
Others publicly protested to the authorities about the treatment of one of their friends
or acquaintances. In the case of Suljo, a Muslim from Sarajevo, a spontaneous protest led
to his arrest and internment in Jasenovac. According to Jasenovac survivor Esref
Badnjevic to whom Suljo told his story not long before dying of starvation, Suljo was
arrested after witnessing the Ustasa murder of a close Serbian friend named Vaso, who
was killed just because he was a Serb. Suljo told Badnevic, "Could I have watched
quietly how they executed my brother, my friend Vaso? No! Never! When they
executed him, I yelled out 'That is an atrocity.'"'^ Enraged at this outburst, the Ustasa
arrested Suljo himself and sent him to his death in Jasenovac.
Other people in the NDH opened their homes to refugees from other ethnic groups.
During the course of the war, massive population shifts occurred. The United States
Office of Strategic Services estimated in June 1943 that over 400,000 people left Croatian
territory, and nearly 100,000 entered Croatia from other areas.These figures do not
include internal refugees who fled to other parts of the NDH to escape discriminatory
policies or armed conflict, nor do they include people displaced in the final two years of
the war. Under such circumstances, the inhabitants of Croatia often provided temporary
housing even for people from different ethnic groups. For example, Marko Sopic notes
in his recollections of life during the war that in one Bosnian town, Ustasa authorities

forced all Serbs and Slovenes out of their homes, which were then occupied by Ustasa
families. Well-known Muslim families in the area took in the refugees.'^
Another case is that of Mustafa and Zejneba Hardaga, a Muslim couple living in the
Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Mustafa Hardaga was acquainted with Josef Kavilio, a
Jewish man who operated a small company in a building owned by Hardaga. When
Kavilio's home was destroyed during the German bombing of Sarajevo in April 1941,
Hardaga offered to take in the entire family of four. Sheltering a Jewish family at that
time was not yet illegal, but it was certainly inconvenient and crowded as Mustafa's
brother and sister-in-law were also living in the same apartment. In addition, the
Hardagas were observant Muslims, and the women of the family always wore veils in the
presence of non-related men. Thus, Josef Kavilio's presence in their home must have
been difficult for Zejneba and her sister-in-law, who then had to wear a veil even within
the confines of their own home.
The destiny of the two families remained intertwined, and the Hardaga family took
serious risks for their Jewish friends. Kavilio soon succeeded in smuggling his wife and
children to Mostar, which was under Italian control and thus a relatively safe place for
91
Jews, but he himself remained in Sarajevo to sell his business. He was then arrested in
the Ustasa's general roundup of Sarajevo's Jews in the winter of 1941-1942. Upon
learning of his arrest and conscription into a forced labor brigade, Zejneba Hardaga
risked harassment by Croatian authorities by making repeated trips to his worksite,
bringing enough food for Kavilio and his fellow prisoners.^^ When Kavilio finally
escaped from the Ustasa, the Hardagas again took him in. This time his Muslim hosts

knew that they risked arrest and deportation to Jasenovac if their action were discovered.
In fact, Zejneba's father, Ahmed Sadik, was arrested for hiding another Jewish family
and eventually died in Jasenovac. When Kavilio had recovered from his internment, he
managed to escape from the NDH and rejoin his family in Mostar, where all of them
survived the war.^^
Many others also made the transition from assisting Jewish acquaintances to acts of
rescue. For example, Olga Bartulovic and her sister-in-law Dragica had become
acquainted with a Jewish family with whom they shared a house on the Italian-occupied
Yugoslav coast. When Nazi Germany took over the area after the fall of Italy in mid1943, Olga and Dragica provided their Jewish friends with false papers, found them a
hiding place in a convent, and then smuggled them to safe territory.^'' Another rescuer
was Ivan Vranetic, a Croatian teenager who spent the years between 1942 and 1944
finding hiding places and food for many Jews of his area and even those who entered the
region as refugees. Vranetic's efforts were all the more remarkable as he lived near the
border of German-occupied territory and had to move his charges from place to place to
avoid German patrols, often hiding with them in the forests until it was safe for them to

9^

return to his village. Similarly, Olga Kukovic and Risto Ristic, living in different parts
of the NDH, helped hide their Jewish neighbors and smuggle them to Italian-controlled or
Partisan-controlled territory.Yet another rescuer was a Bosnian Muslim trucker named
Izet Amautovic. Upon hearing that the Jews of Travnik, Bosnia, were about to be
arrested, Arnautovic made several illegal trips in which he smuggled people to safety.^^

77

The Jews were not the only ones to require such assistance; Croatia's Serbian
population was in a precarious position as well. Ljiljana Ivanisevic, a Serb, described the
mass deportation to Jasenovac of the Serbs from Veliko Nabrde and surrounding villages
in Slavonia, the northeastern part of Croatia. As Ivanisevic and the other villagers
gradually became aware of the dangers of their situation, her aunt attempted to find
someone to rescue her grandson who was just over a year old. Finally, the Serbian
villagers encountered a man^^ who was a member of Yugoslavia's German-speaking
minority. In desperation, Ivanisevic's aunt threw the baby to him, and he saved the
child's life.^
Sometimes even people who were official members or supporters of the Ustasa
intervened to help friends from different ethnic backgrounds. Novak wrote in her
memoirs that when police arrested her and many other Jews of Zagreb, a Croatian
official, whom she knew as Mr. Jedvaj, arrived to obtain her release. Luckily for Novak,
Jedvaj was a close friend of the Ustasa official in charge of the prisoners and so was able
OA

to take her home to her family.

In September 1942, Radojka Tatomirovic, a Serb, told a

similar story in her testimony before the Commission for Refugees and People Who Have
Resettled in Belgrade, a commission established by Milan Nedic, the head of the Serbian
government during the years of Nazi occupation.^' Her fiance, Dusan Radosevic, was
able to get the help of some Croatian friends, who procured the release of Radojka and
her family from the Stara Gradiska camp.
Even law enforcement officials charged with enforcing discriminatory legislation
sometimes took pity on friends or acquaintances from persecuted minority groups. Josef

Konforti, a Jewish physician, received assistance from an unUkely quarter: the wife of the
police chief,a former employee of Konforti's family. With her husband's knowledge,
she brought the Konfortis food while the family was in prison.^'* Bozo Svarc, another
Jewish detainee, recalled that when his group was doing forced labor before being
transferred to Jasenovac, a fellow prisoner recognized as a prewar acquaintance a highly
placed Ustasa official, a commander who had served in the Ustasa in Italy even before
the group took power in Croatia. Despite the very great risks involved,the prisoner
appealed to the Ustasa commander, who recognized him and procured his release.^*^
Svarc himself was assisted by a Croatian schoolmate, Janko Mihajlovic, whom Svarc
described as a man from an aristocratic background whose family had become very poor
"xn
and who thus saw membership in the Ustasa as a way to regain his social status.
Although Mihajlovic lacked the authority to procure Svarc's release, he assisted his
Jewish friend by listing him as an electrical fitter, which was really his father's
occupation, and then by getting Svarc and nine other schoolmates assigned to good jobs
TO

at the transit camp of Gospic, where they were well-fed and "saved in that way."

Such

accounts show that many people, who were generally sympathetic toward the regime,
opposed some of its harsher policies when those policies were applied to people whom
they knew personally.
Many others opposed the persecution in principle, coming to the assistance of people
whom they had never met. Novak, for example, recalled how, exhausted from fleeing
from the Germans, she knocked on the door of a stranger's house. The occupants, a large

79

peasant family, most likely Croatian, asked her in for dinner, and, upon hearing her story,
invited her to stay with them. Novak recalled;
They told me that these territories often exchanged 'rulers' - one time the
Ustase, another time the Partisans. During the fighting, the children went
to hide in the vineyards, and it was decided that I should go with them.
They also told me that many Jewish refugees were actually hidden in the
village.'^"
In fact, Novak soon discovered other Jews that she knew, even her own in-laws, among
those who had taken refuge in the vineyards."^' The Croatian villagers did not seem to be
acting out of any particular political conviction. Quite the contrary, they were motivated
by an awareness of the very impermanence of political solutions and a deeply rooted
sense of hospitality and human decency.
The plight of children especially inspired strangers to action. Melita Svob, who
interviewed many Jewish Holocaust survivors in Croatia, wrote:
Almost one third of the Holocaust survivors in Croatia belong to the generation
that was saved due to being pre-school children (or bom between 1941 and 1945)
so the Nazi had no evidence of them. They were hiding during the war in
villages, refugee camps, under false name, in strange [Croatian] families.
Svob also recounted cases in which children interned in concentration camps "were
handed through barbed wire over to stranger who saved them."'*^ A similar tale was told
by Ivanisevic, the Serbian girl mentioned previously who survived internment in the
Stara Gradiska camp. She recalled that a Croat from the town of Zagorje ran a local
humanitarian organization that rescued some of the older Serbian children, including
some of her ovm relatives, by taking them away from the harsh conditions of Jasenovac
and putting them to work with livestock.'''' Apparently, the children were well treated by
the families that hosted them, so much so that one childless couple regarded Ivanisevic's

cousin as their own child and later sought to adopt him. When Jasa Almuli, an
interviewer from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, asked whether the
children might actually have been taken from the camp, not for humanitarian purposes,
but so that they could be forcibly converted to Catholicism, Ivanisevic firmly denied any
pressure to change their religion."^^ A report from the Royal Yugoslav Legation to the
Vatican in September 1942 indicated that these accounts of the rescue of children were
not unusual, claiming that Croatian villagers saved 6,000 Serbian children and that the
peasants who took them in did so willingly and lovingly in order to save their lives.''^
The rescue of Ivanisevic herself was an even more remarkable story. The little girl
was not a resident of the children's section of Stara Gradiska because her aunt had
smuggled her into the adult section in an effort to protect her. The child continued to live
there for almost two years, even after her aunt's death. One day a Croatian man, Zlatar
Grga, visited the camp to obtain the release of his daughter, who had been arrested
because of her marriage to a Serbian Communist. The camp authorities informed him
that his pregnant daughter had been killed immediately upon her arrival, the standard
Ustasa policy for pregnant women. Devastated and angered by the news of his
daughter's death, he was leaving the camp when he caught sight of Ivanisevic, a filthy
and emaciated Serbian girl. He later told her that he could not look away from her eyes,
so he returned to the authorities and asked that the release papers he had obtained for his
daughter be used to free Ljiljana instead. Even though the Serbian girl was dirty, sick,
and unaccustomed to a normal life, and although his wife was at first horrified by her
husband's spontaneous decision to bring her home, the couple cared for her lovingly until

survivors from her family claimed her at the end of the war/^ Thus, the plight of
children spurred some people to oppose the discriminatory policies of the Croatian fascist
regime.
The sight of prisoners also evoked pity from those who encountered them. Erlih, a
Jew^ish former camp inmate, recounted that, during his group's transport by train across
Croatia to Jasenovac, the cattle cars full of prisoners had to be opened several times to let
in air. When the guards opened the cars, peasants passing by would throw in fruit for the
prisoners to eat.

People living in the vicinity of concentration camps also offered

assistance. According to an eyewitness account written just after the war by former
prisoner Albert Maestro:
I want to stress that civilian inhabitants of the villages Jasenovac and
Krapje took every opportunity to help the camp inmates with food,
although putting themselves in jeopardy. The road from Jasenovac
to the village of Mlaka passed near the camp, and peasants took
advantage when not being watched to leave some bread or bacon
near the road or to offer some words of comfort.'^^
Edo Neufeld and Jakov Kabiljo^ told similar stories. Neufeld described that when
Ustasa troops forced a column of prisoners to march through the town of Gospic in July
1941 en route to the detention center there, the civilian population peering out through
the windows of their homes made disapproving gestures, some of them wiping away tears
at the fate of the prisoners.^' Kabiljo claimed that many of the peasants living in the
vicinity of Jasenovac in early 1942 were also very sympathetic to the plight of the
inmates, frequently slipping them food when the Ustasa guards were not watching.^^
Unfortunately, most of the nearly one thousand Orthodox Serb peasants from that area
were arrested in May 1942 and themselves became prisoners in the camp.^^ The area of

Gradina was completely depopulated^"^ and became part of the concentration camp
complex, while another near-by village was taken over by Ustasa troops, who established
a permanent garrison there.^^
Ironically, when Croatian peasants were brought in to replace the original Serbian
inhabitants of the area, they too began to sneak food to the prisoners. Vladimir Cesal, a
Croatian teenager whose family had been brought into the area around Stara Gradiska to
tend livestock, later recounted that his father gave food t o s o m e o f t h e p r i s o n e r s . E v e n
though other villagers were aware of his actions, when the Ustasa investigated, none of
his neighbors reported his activities to the authorities.^^ Maestro corroborated this
impression that many Catholic Croats living in the vicinity of the camps disapproved of
the persecution. At times the camp guards forced Jewish and Serbian prisoners to attend
Mass in a neighboring Catholic church, often with camp commander Miroslav FilipovicMajstorovic himself presiding over the services. Maestro got the strong impression "that
people and local parishioners were on our side."^ Muslims in the area, just across the
border in Bosnia, also seemed sympathetic toward the prisoners. In fact. Ado Kabiljo
and a group of about twenty prisoners took into consideration when making plans to
escape that the Bosnian Muslim peasants were unlikely to cooperate voluntarily with the
Ustasa guards.^^ Thus, it appears that no matter what the ethnic affiliation of the villagers
around the camps - Serbian, Croatian, or Bosnian Muslim - or even whether the Ustasa
handpicked the villagers in the areas immediately adjacent to Jasenovac, the Croatian
authorities encountered opposition to their genocidal policies.

83

Knowledge of the existence of the concentration camps spread beyond the vicinity of
Jasenovac, and some people without any direct ties to the camps or their inmates became
involved in assisting the prisoners. Testimony in the Jasenovac archives^" describes the
existence of a committee, led by women with Partisan sympathies, that provided food to
prisoners in the camps and maintained ties with some officials in the Stara Gradiska
administration who were in a position to assist the prisoners.^' In addition, the Croatian
government permitted some prominent Jewish families to maintain their freedom so that
the previously existing Jewish community organizations could provide food to the
prisoners in the concentration camps. In fact, the three largest Jewish communities those of Zagreb, Sarajevo, and Osijek - completely supported camps in Loborgrad,
Gornja Rijeka, and Dakovo, supplied many of the transit camps and transports, and
contributed some of the supplies for Jasenovac as well.^^ These supplies were distributed
to all prisoners, not just Jewish ones. According to a 1942 report to the Yugoslav
government-in-exile^"^ in London, the Jewish organization in Zagreb agreed to provide
food packages to Serbian prisoners whose own relatives were unable to send packages,
and even Croatian inmates often got parcels from Jewish communities to tide them over
until food packages arrived from their own families.^^
Sometimes individuals with no ties to any organization assisted strangers in need. For
example, Janella Ana-Madika, a former inmate of the Lepoglava camp, later testified that
she and many others could not correspond with relatives because the Partisan liberation
of the Bosnian and Croatian territories in which their relatives lived cut them off from the
Ustasa controlled regions in which the camps were located. Near starvation, many

women out of desperation wrote to the acquaintances of other iimiates who were from the
area around Varazdin, which was still part of the NDH. The food packages the women
inmates received from these total strangers saved their lives.^^ Thus, an ever-widening
circle of people became aware of the desperate plight of the prisoners in the Ustasa camp
system and became concerned with alleviating some of the harsh conditions there.
These cases were far from isolated incidents, and in fact sympathy toward persecuted
groups in the NDH was fairly widespread despite Ustasa attempts to divide people along
ethnic lines, or maybe because of those very policies. Marija Kosic, a Serbian woman
who had fled the NDH, testified before Nedic's refugee commission in Nazi-occupied
Serbia that the Ustasa had arrested some Croats for opposing the persecution of the Serbs
in Croatia.^^ Other reports, issued by members of the Croatian Peasant Party - the
dominant pre-war party in Croatia - to the Yugoslav government-in-exile in London
described widespread dissatisfaction with the Ustasa's persecution of minority groups.
For example, A. Juretic, wrote that Croatian villagers totally opposed the persecution of
their Serbian neighbors and even tried to help the children of these neighbors.^^ Thus,
many individuals opposed the discriminatory policies of the Ustasa.
In fact, there were several formal protests to the authorities by Croatian villagers
dissatisfied with the indiscriminate persecution of the government. For example, in the
village of Dolic in Croatia, seventy-two Croatian peasants signed a petition asking the
authorities to free the family of Josip Klein, who the government had arrested in a general
7n
roundup of Jews. Another protest occurred when local authorities arrested eighty Roma
from the Pisarovina district of Croatia in May 1942. A group of forty Croatian peasants

protested the arrest of their Roma neighbors, requesting that the local prefect, Dragutin
71
Stare, release them because they had not done anything wrong. Similarly, peasants in
Kutjevo (in the Pozega district) and Vrpolje (in the Brod district) also submitted written
petitions to the authorities asking them to release from prison the Roma from their area.

72

Only in the final case were the protests successful; in Vrpolje, authorities released ten
Catholic Roma families.^^ Yet, even though most of the petitions were unsuccessful, it is
significant that Croatian villagers had, on more than one occasion, publicly voiced their
disapproval of the government's discriminatory policies.
Some Ustasa officials noted the lack of popular support for their policies. An Ustasa
official in Zemun worried that the principle of Yugoslavism was strong, especially
among Croatian high school students.'"* Nonetheless, Croatian authorities seemed
confident that they could rely on most Croats to support the nationalist regime,
expressing more concern about signs of discontent among non-Croatian groups. During
the early months of the NDH, a colonel of the Ustasa'^ reported that even though most of
the Croatian population acquiesced in the measures being taken against the Jews, the
Serbian population disapproved.'^ More ominous to Ustasa officials were reports from
Bosnia that the many of the region's Muslims disliked the persecution of minorities. A
police report from the Bosnian town of Banja Luka in September 1942 noted that
Muslims had assisted some women who had escaped from Stara Gradiska,'' while a
police informant from Derventa reported nearly two years later that stories of the bad
situation in the Stara Gradiska and Jasenovac camps were circulating among the Bosnian
Muslim population and alienating many people from the fascist government.'^ Thus,

even government officials v^ere aware of the general population's growing revulsion
against the oppressive policies of the regime, especially with regard to its mistreatment of
minority groups.
In Bosnia, particularly among the Muslims, who constituted one of the ruling groups
in the NDH, the latent dissatisfaction with the harsh treatment of minorities came to be
expressed publicly on several occasions. The Jewish physician Konforti later wrote that
the mostly Muslim residents of Travnik, Bosnia, held widespread public protests when
local Ustasa authorities ordered a large-scale deportation of the city's Jews in January
1942.

Because of the extremely cold weather at that time, many residents of the city

feared for the health of the people scheduled for deportation. Although the Ustasa
authorities refused to delay the transport until the weather improved, a compromise was
reached; officials assigned Konforti to accompany the transport in order to reassure the
concerned citizens that efforts were being made to safeguard the health of Travnik's Jews


80

during their journey. In addition, some prominent Muslims of Sarajevo as well as some
members of the Muslim religious leadership, while not opposing the Ustasa government's
right to rule, nonetheless criticized those Muslims who participated in atrocities against
the Serbs.^'
While there are fewer official reports describing the Muslim attitude toward the Roma
than toward the Serbs, Muslim leaders at least attempted to protect from persecution
those Roma who had converted to Islam.^^ In Sarajevo, Doboj, Brcko, Srebrenica, and
other areas lived Roma who were highly assimilated into the Muslim community; they
had Muslim names, dressed like Muslims, and had exchanged a nomadic lifestyle for

settled homes and professions.

Q-3

The Ustasa, desiring to maintain its support among

Bosnian Muslims, deferred to public pressure and exempted some Bosnian Roma from
persecution.
A specific indictment of Ustasa discriminatory practices lodged by prominent
Bosnian Muslims as well as the reasoning that underlay their complaints can be seen in
one of several open letters sent to Bosnian officials. One truly remarkable document is a
letter dated 12 November 1941 and sent to two Muslim government ministers, Dzafer
Kulenovic and Hilmija Beslagic. The letter, signed by leading members of the Muslim
community in Banja Luka, opened with an indictment of the regime's atrocities. It
stressed that religious tolerance was a Bosnian tradition and decried the forced baptism of
Orthodox Serbs by Catholic clergy.In addition, the letter requested that the
government reassert control over the "wild" members of the Ustasa, some of whom had
apparently disguised themselves as Muslims by donning fezzes when carrying out
massacres of Serbs.

QC

The authors warned that such actions jeopardized the state's

interests by provoking a violent reaction and urged the state to guarantee the security of
its citizens' life, property, and religious freedom.^^ Most remarkable of all was that,
despite the enormous risks for the signatories, dozens of Muslims signed their names to
the document.
In their criticism of the Ustasa's treatment of minority ethnic groups during the war,
Bosnian Muslims frequently cited the principle of religious tolerance, which they
perceived as dating back to Ottoman Turkish rule in Bosnia or, even further back, to the
earliest days of the expansion of Islam.^^ Muslim leaders in Bosnia used this perception

88

of local cultural traditions as grounds for condemning the Ustasa persecution of Orthodox
Serbs and Jews, both groups identified by religious affiliation. The Bosnian Muslim
community's public protests against the abusive treatment of minorities in its midst were
unique in the history of the Second World War.^^ Although not all Bosnian Muslims
agreed with this perspective or took steps to oppose the NDH's genocidal policies, it is
apparent many people disapproved of the government's genocidal policies. In fact,
Marko D. Sopic, an eyewitness observer, noted that Ustasa atrocities led to a decline of
support for the NDH within Bosnia.^^
It is evident, then, that Ustasa policies with regard to minority populations were not as
widely accepted in the Independent State of Croatia as the proponents of racial purity
would have hoped. Opposition by a significant portion of the Croatian and Bosnian
population to ethnic persecution took many forms, including offering assistance to friends
or relatives targeted by the regime, hiding victims or helping them to escape from the
country, aiding prisoners of the regime, and, occasionally, publicly protesting specific
government measures. In other words, the discriminatory policies of the NDH often
evoked the opposite response from the one the Ustasa had hoped to achieve. Instead of
fostering a separation of the different ethnic groups and the elimination of so-called
"impure" elements from the Croatian population, the government leadership unwittingly
brought about a renewed recognition of the interconnection of Serbs, Croats, Muslims,
Jews, and Roma within Croatian society, in effect, bringing about a resurgence of
Yugoslavism.

89

Notes to Chapter 3

' Elinor M. Despalatovic, "The Roots of the War in Croatia," in Neighbors at War:
Anthropological Perspectives on Yugoslav Ethnicity, Culture, and History, edited by Joel
M. Halpern and David A. Kideckel (University Park: Pennsylvania State University
Press, 2000), 88.
Philip J. Cohen, Serbia's Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History (College
Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1996), 93.
^ Ibid., 93.
He claims that the majority of Croats in the first days of the revolution regarded Ante
Pavelic as "the hero of the day...half God, the greatest Croat of all centuries..." Dragutin
Kamber, Slom N.D.H: Kako sam ga ja prozivio (The fall of the NDH: How I survived it)
(Zagreb: Hrvatski Informativni Centar, 1993), 5.
^ Kamber, 9.
Kamber wrote that, all in all, there were only a small number of actual evildoers and
that most Ustasa were simply guilty of loving Croatia more than anything on earth. Ibid.,
7.
n

According to an Ustasa official report, only the Serbs disliked Ustasa measures against
the Jews. "Obavjestajni izvjestaj za trecu deseticu od 19-29. srpnja 1941 godine
zapovjedniku kopnene vojske Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske" (Informational report for the
third ten-day period from the 19"' - 29"^ of July 1941 to the commander of the ground
forces of the Independent State of Croatia), Federation of Jewish Communities in
Yugoslavia, Records Relating to Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yugoslav Peoples
during World War II, 1941-1943 Reports, Lists, Orders (microfiche, USHMM Archives)
(hereafter cited as Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples).
Q

The Muslims referred to in this study were all speakers of the Serbo-Croatian language
and residents of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Because in this particular context, using the term
"Bosnian Muslim" is redundant, I will henceforth use the simpler term "Muslim" as is
common in Yugoslav historiography.
^ Interestingly enough, Grossepais-Gil's brother-in-law's wife (whose name is not
mentioned in the memoirs) had converted from Christianity to Judaism before the war,
only reverting back to Christianity during the war in order to save her family. Josef
Grossepais-Gil, "Sjecanja Josefa Grossepaisa-Gila" (Memories of Josef Grossepais-Gil),
in Secanja Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the Jasenovac camp).

90

compiled by Dusan Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972), 291
(hereafter cited as Secanja Jevreja).
Moncika, however, insisted on staying with her mother when government authorities
arrested the older woman. Both mother and daughter were sent to a camp, where both
eventually died. Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28 June 1997. Belgrade,
Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum Archives, 1997), tape 2, 13.
Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,7.
10

Zdenka Novak, When Heaven's Vault Cracked: Zagreb Memories (Braunton Devon:
Merlin Books, 1995), 34.
Olga Njemirovski, The Holocaust and the Jews of Yugoslavia (Jerusalem: Gefen,
1996), 12.
'^Ibid., 12-13.
Ante Pavelic, "Zakonska odredba o sprecavanju prikrivanja zidovskog imetka" (Legal
order on the prevention of hiding Jewish property), 5 June 1941, in Ustasa: Dokumenti o
ustaskom pokretu (Ustasa: Documents of the Ustasa movement), edited by Petar Pozar
(Zagreb: Zagrebacka Stvamost, 1995), 195.
Njemirovski wrote that the couple exchanged new banknotes for the old ones because
"if a Jew brought money to the bank, he or she didn't get anything in exchange, but an
'Aryan' did." Njemirovski, 12.
Esref Badnjevic, "Da se ne zaboravi" (So that it is not forgotten), in Rijeci koje nisu
zaklane (Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan Trivuncic (Jasenovac:
Spomen-podrucje, 1977), 76 (hereafter iizyec/).
"Population Movements in Yugoslavia," 30 June 1943, collection of the United States
Office of Strategic Services, Germany and Its Occupied Territories during World War II
(microfilm. University of Arizona, Tucson).
Marko D. Sopic, Pred vratima Sarajeva: Zapisi i sjecanja o narodnooslobodilackom
pokretu i Visocko-fojnickom NOP odredu na podrucju od Sarajeva do Zenice (Before the
gates of Sarajevo: Notes and memories of the National Liberation Movement and the
Visoko-Fojnica National Liberation Movement Division in the area between Sarajevo
and Zenica) (Sarajevo: Savez udru&nja boraca narodnooslobodilackog rata opstina,
1970), 35.

91

Mordecai Paldiel, Saving the Jews: Amazing Stories of Men and Women Who Defied
the "FinalSolution" (KockwilXe,: Schreiber Publishing, 2000), 115.
91

Italian authorities in Yugoslavia often thwarted German efforts to persecute the Jews;
therefore, many Jews who sought to escape the Holocaust found refuge in Italianoccupied territory.
^^Ibid., 115.
Mustafa and Zejneba Hardaga were later recognized in Israel as Righteous among the
Gentiles for their selflessness in helping a Jewish family survive the Holocaust. Nearly
fifty years passed, and then the situation was reversed; the Kavilios had the opportunity
to save the Hardagas. The Kavilio family had immigrated to Israel after World War II.
Upon learning that the Hardagas' lives were in danger because of the Bosnian civil war
of the 1990s, members of the Kavilio family contacted Yad Vashem, the Israeli
organization that honors the victims and the rescuers of the Holocaust. The organization
interceded with the Israeli government and procured special immigration visas for
Zejneba Hardaga, her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. Tova Rosenberg (nee
Kavilio), who as a child had been saved by the Hardagas, was at the airport to greet the
family when they arrived in Israel. Although Zejneba died soon afterwards, the rest of
her family received Israeli citizenship.
Sherrow does not specify what constituted "safe territory," but the term probably refers
to the Partisan-occupied zone; Victoria Sherrow, Righteous Gentiles (San Diego: Lucent
Books, 1998), 80.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, "Portrait of Croatian Rescuer Ivan Vranetic,"
[cited 20 May 2002]; www.ushmm.org/uia-cgi/uia_doc/query/2?uf=uiaPuHxIJ;
INTERNET.
'y/r

Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, "Stories of Moral Courage," [cited 27 January
2002]; www.ifr.org/stories.html: INTERNET.

'^7

Josef Konforti, "Sjecanja Dra Josefa Konfortija" (Memories of Dr. Josef Konforti), in
Secanja Jevreja, 210.

Ivanisevic did not mention the name of the man. Since she herself was a child at the
time, she most likely could not remember the name.
Ljiljana Ivanisevic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 19 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1,6.

92

Novak, 36.
The commission is usually referred to in Yugoslav documents as "Nedic's
commission."
Radojka Tatimorovic, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade, dated 12 Sept. 1942, in Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac, 19411945.
(The Jasenovac concentration camp, 1941-1945), compiled by Antun
Miletic (Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986), vol. 1,452 (hereafter cited as Kon. log.
Jasenovac).
Konforti does not mention either the name of the police chief or of the chief s wife.
Konforti, 217.
The commander, in order to prove his loyalty to Ustasa ideals, could have killed the
prisoner on the spot.
Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,11.
Ibid, tape 1, 7.
Ibid, tapel, 10.
Svarc later learned that, soon after helping his classmates, Mihajlovic came into
conflict with the Ustasa and was expelled fi'om the organization.
Novak, 51.
Ibid., 51.
Melita Svob, Jews in Croatia: Holocaust Victims and Survivors (Zagreb: Research and
Documentation Center of the Holocaust Victims and Survivors in Croatia, 2000), 32.
Ibid., 36.
Ivanisevic, tape 1,16.
Ibid, tape 1,16.
Nikola Moscatello, "Izvjestaj" (Report), dated 28 September 1942, original document
in the Yugoslav Archives, in H. u arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade - Hrvatska u arhivima

93

izbjeglicke vlade 1941-1943: Izvestaji informatora o prilikama u Hrvatskoj (Croatia in


the archives of the Govemment-In-Exile 1941-1943: reports on conditions in Croatia),
edited by Ljubo Boban (Zagreb: Globus, 1985), 164 (hereafter cited as H. u arhiv.
izbjeglicke vlade).
Ivanisevic, tape 2, 5-8.
Erlih, tape 1, 11.
Albert Maestro, Memories of the Ustasha Camps (Ein-Shemer: n.p., 1996), 5.
He is probably related to the Kavilio mentioned earlier. Many of the spellings of
names have been changed as survivors immigrated to other countries and changed their
names. Kabiljo remained in Yugoslavia and retained the Serbian language spelling of his
name while Kavilio emigrated to Israel after the war.
Excerpt from Edo Neufeld's testimony, cited in Zvi Loker, "The Testimony of Dr. Edo
Neufeld: The Italians and the Jews of Croatia," Holocaust and Genocide Studies 7, no. 1
(spring 1993), 72.
Jakov Kabiljo, "Sjecanja Jakova Kabilja" (Memories of Jakov Kabiljo), in Secanja
Jevreja, 92.
" Ibid., 92.
Dusan Misiraca, "Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac," in Milan Bulajic, Ustaski zlocini
genocida i sudenje Andriji Artukovicu 1986. godine (Ustasa Atrocities of Genocide and
the Trial of Andrija Artukovic in 1986) (Beograd: Izdavacka radna organizacia "RAD",
1988-1989), vol. 2, 806-807 (hereafter cited as Ustaski zlocini).
^^Milan Bulajic, Ustaski zlocini, vol. 4, 818-819.
Vladimir Cesal, testimony, dated 4 August 1988. Original document from Jasenovac,
processing center of the USHMM, Linthicum, Maryland, July 2001.
"Ibid., 3.
Maestro, 22.
Ado Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
2, 6.

94

The Jasenovac memorial in Croatia, established when Croatia was part of socialist
Yugoslavia, originally included archival material. However, when Croatia broke away
from Yugoslavia and established an independent Croatia in the 1990s, the memorial
became extremely controversial. The new Croatian government, led by Franjo Tudman,
feared that Serbs would use the memorial and evidence of Croatian atrocities against
minorities in the NDH to show Croatian nationalism in an unfavorable light and decided
to dismantle the memorial. Apparently, an archivist, fearing that the documents and other
artifacts would be destroyed, hastily packed them into boxes and hid them in a basement
while Serbs and Croats argued bitterly about their fate. The United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum became involved in the year 2000 and eventually negotiated a
solution: the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum would take possession of all the artifacts
for one year, organize and catalog them, and then help the Croatian government to set up
an appropriate memorial. I accessed the original documents, at the USHMM processing
center in Linthicum, Maryland, in July 2001, eight months after museum analyst Sanja
Primorac had begun organizing them. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances, many of
the documents' identifying labels were missing.
The Partisans did not reveal the names of the officials. Testimony from the Jasenovac
archives with the bibliographical references missing. (Processing center of the USHMM,
Linthicum, Maryland, July 2001).
Narcisa Lengel Krizman, "Camps for Jews in the Independent State of Croatia," in
Anti-Semitism Holocaust Anti-Fascism, edited by Ivo Goldstein and Narcisa Lengel
Krizman (Zagreb: Jewish Community, 1997), 94 (hereafter cited 2l5 Anti-Semitism).
A letter from the Jewish Religious Regional Office in Zagreb to the Jewish Regional
Offices directs its members to help feed people in staying in Zagreb while being
"evacuated." It does not specify that food is to be provided only to Jewish evacuees, and
in fact, other accounts indicate that Jewish authorities provided food to Serbian evacuees
as well. "Zidovska Bogostovna Opcina u Zagrebu Zidovskim Bogostovnim Opcinama"
(The Jewish Religious Regional Office in Zagreb to the Jewish Regional Offices), 8 July
1941, in Concentration Camp Records - Lobor Grad, Gornja Rijeka, Jasenovac,
Kruscica, and Kupar: Concentration Camp Records (Microfilm, USHMM Archives).
After the fall of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the government of the Kingdom of
Yugoslavia relocated to London, where it sought to represent the interests of the country
to the Allies.
"Izvjestaj predsednistva vlade Kraljevine Jugoslavije u Londonu" (Report of a
representative of the Yugoslav government-in-exile in London), dated 22 July 1942, in
Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1, 397.
Sabolevski, 108.

95

Janella Ana-Madika, "Sjecanja Janelle Ane-Madike" (Memories of Janella AnaMadika), original document from Jasenovac. (Processing center of the USHMM,
Linthicum, Maryland, July 2001).
Marija Kosic, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade, dated 13 November 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1,519.
A. Juretic, "Izvjestaj J. Krnjevicu" (Report of J. Krnjevic), dated 23 December 1942, in
H. u arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade, 176.
70

Mihael Sabolevski, "Jews in the Jasenovac Group of Concentration Camps," in AntiSemitism, 109.

71

Mark Biondich, "Persecution of Roma-Sinti in Croatia, 1941-1945," in Roma and Sinti,


Under-Studied Victims of Nazism: Symposium Proceedings (Washington D.C.: Center for
Advanced Holocaust Studies in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2002),
45.
Ibid., 45.
Ibid., 45.

Mjestno Zapovjednictvo Zemun (Local commandant at Zemun), report dated 14 July


1942, in Occup. ofYug.
The colonel's name is not given on the document, and his signature is illegible.
1f\

"Obavjestajni izvjestaj za trecu deseticu od 19-29. srpnja 1941 godine zapovjedniku


kopnene vojske Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske" (Informational report for the third ten-day
period from the 19"* - 29"^ of July 1941 to the commander of the ground forces of the
Independent State of Croatia), Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples.
77 ^

Zupske Redarstvene Oblasti Banja Luka, "Izvestaj Uredu oponomocenog ministra


NDH" (Regional police from the Banja Luka region's report to the Office of the
Authorized Minister of the NDH), dated 11 September 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol.
I,447.
78

Ustaski agenat iz Dervente (Ustasa agent from Derventa), report dated 31 May 1944, in
Genocid nad Muslimanima, 1941-1945. Zbornik Dokumenta i Svjedocenja (Genocide
against the Muslims, 1941-1945: A collection of documents and Testimonies), compiled
by Vladimir Dedijer and Antun Miletic (Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1990), 517.
7Q

Ostensibly the Jews were being relocated to work sites; in reality, they were being sent
to concentration camps.

96

^Konforti,211.
O1

Francine Friedman, The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation (Boulder: Westview


Press, 1996), 125.
Yeshayahu A. Jelinek, "Bosnia-Herzegovina at War: Relations between Moslems and
Non-Moslems," Holocaust and Genocide Studies (1990): 289.
Biondich, 38.
Letter from a Muslim group in Banja Luka to Dzafer Kulenovic and Hilmija Beslagic,
dated 12 Nov. 1941, in Zlocini, vol. 1, 833.
Ibid., 834-835.
Ibid., 836.
Jelinek, 289.
Ibid., 289.
Sopic, 30.

97

Chapter 4: The Growth of Interethnic Cooperation in the Camps


The growth in cooperation among the various ethnic groups extended into the
concentration camps themselves. Partly as a reaction against the Ustasa's desire to keep
groups separated from each other, prisoners began to work together for survival.
The first barriers breached by the camp inmates were the physical boundaries
separating the various ethnic groups. According to a Jewish prisoner Bozo Svarc, even in
the earliest days of Jasenovac, when camp officials attempted to house the Jewish and
Serbian prisoners in separate sections, the two groups still managed to communicate
freely regardless of attempts to keep them apart.' Ethnic mixing also occurred when
prisoners lied about their ethnic identities, as in the case of a Bosnian Muslim named
Hasan, who told fellow prisoner Esref Badnjevic that he had pretended to be a Serb so as
not to be separated from a group of Bosnian Serb friends.^ Therefore, even when camp
authorities tried to maintain a strict separation of ethnic groups, they were unsuccessful.
It is not surprising that the Ustasa soon abandoned attempts to keep the groups
divided. Camp IIIC, for example, called the "Gypsy Camp" because the Ustasa had
originally assigned only Roma to that section, was soon used to house new arrivals from
-3

the other ethnic groups. The physical separation of ethnic groups broke down even
further with the influx of Serbian detainees into Jasenovac in summer 1942. During June
and July 1942, the Germans and Ustasa had undertaken a combined campaign against the
Partisan resistance movement in the Kozara district of northwest Bosnia, and Serbian
villagers from the area were suspected of supporting the resistance forces. In retaliation,
the Ustasa rounded up many of the Serbs from the area, some 60,000 men, women, and

children, and drove them on foot to Jasenovac.'^ Although Ustasa guards killed most of
the men at Gradina immediately upon their arrival at the camp,^ enough of the newly
arrived Serbs were admitted to the camps to cause such overcrowding in the barracks that
separate living quarters for Serbs, Jews, and others became impractical. Probably around
the time of the Kozara offensive and the resulting expansion of the prisoner population,
Serbs and Jews alike began to sleep at their worksites rather than in the camp itself.^
Since groups of prisoners assigned to each workshop were integrated, living quarters
became so as well. Ultimately, the Jasenovac administration was unable to maintain
physical barriers to keep prisoners of different ethnic groups apart.
Social divisions among prisoners similarly broke down in the camps. Those who
before the war had been a boss or an employee now perceived one another as equals, as
fellow sufferers.' Ethnic labels also lost their meaning as, in the words of Jasenovac
survivor Milos Despot, "It didn't make much difference who was a Serb, who was a Jew
n

because they were all in the same torment." A Serbian escapee reported to a skeptical
commission of Serbs in wartime Belgrade that Croatian prisoners in the camp usually
cooperated closely with their Serbian fellow sufferers, rather than with their co-nationals,
the Ustasa.^ Croatian former-inmate Ivica Skromrak later reflected that Croats
imprisoned in the camp also had close relations with Jewish inmates.In fact, the
prisoners became so accustomed to the intermingling of ethnic groups that they were
shocked when, upon the arrival in 1943 of a delegation from the Swiss Red Cross, the
Jasenovac administration separated the prisoners by ethnic group'' and forced them to
wear identifying patches.'^

99

Before examining the specific ways in which ethnic groups in Jasenovac worked
together to survive, it is important to investigate some controversial allegations about the
mistreatment of prisoners by the grupnici, the group leaders appointed by camp officials
from among the prisoners. The controversy began with the publication in 1989 of a
book,^^ Bespucapovijesne zbilnosti, by Franjo Tudman, who would soon become the first
president of Croatia following its secession from Yugoslavia. After civil war broke out
in the former Yugoslavia in 1991, two Serbian women, Vida Jankovic and Svetlana
Raicevic, published a short work entitled Franjo Tudjman/On the Jews. This 17-page
publication is a translation into English of certain excerpts from the second edition of
Tudman's work in which he asserted that Jewish group leaders appointed by the Ustasa,
rather than the Ustasa guards themselves, carried out much of the persecution of the
Serbs and Roma at Jasenovac.

This allegation that Jews were partly responsible for the

oppression of Serbs and Roma in the NDH caused an immediate outcry from both Jewish
and Serbian scholars and ultimately led the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
to send an investigator to interview ten survivors of Jasenovac.'^
In the postscript to the fifth edition of Tudman's work,'^ Ante Knezevic, a Croat,
responded to the controversy by alleging that the Serbian translators of Franjo
Tudjman/On the Jews had erred in two ways: by their linguistic imprecision arising from
difficulties with the Croatian language as well as English and by their selective choice of
excerpts from the book, which aimed to portray the author, then president of Croatia, as a
fascist and anti-Semite.

17

The first part of Knezevic's argument is questionable as it is

based on the assumption that Serbian and Croatian constitute separate languages. Yet,

100

the recognition of Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian as three separate languages, which has
only occurred since the breakup of Yugoslavia, is purely political, based on the
assumption that each independent nation needs its own national tongue. Linguists, on the
other hand, classify all three as dialects of one language and reject Knefevic's idea that
Serbs carmot properly understand Croatian. Knezevic's second criticism, however, has
merit. The Serbian publication of Franjo Tudjman/On the Jews served a definite political
agenda: the discrediting of the Croatian president. Ultimately, the debate about linguistic
or political differences between Tudman and the Serbian translators of excerpts from his
book does not change the fact that Tudman asserted in the second edition of Bespuca
the camps18 and
povijesne zbilnosti that Jews constantly intrigued against the Serbs in
'

that the Jewish group leaders were therefore as responsible as the Croatian camp guards
for the persecution of Serbian prisoners in Jasenovac.
Of more significance to this study than the reasons behind Tudman's statements is the
question of whether or not his analysis of ethnic relations in Jasenovac is accurate. The
main source Tudman cited in supporting his controversial statements is the 1942
testimony of Serbian former-prisoner Vojislav Prnatovic. Pmatovic was, in fact, an
inmate in Jasenovac for three months from the end of December 1941 to the end of
March 1942. Upon his release, he reported to Nedic's commission in German-occupied
Belgrade in April 1942 and made the statements cited by Tudman.'^ Yet, other formerinmates of Jasenovac, both Jewish and Serbian, refuted his statements with regard to the
group leaders in the camps. For example, former detainees Eduard Sajer, a Jew, and
Cedomil Huber, a Croat, both admitted that Jews held a relatively large proportion of the

positions of group leaders but felt that this situation arose, not out of Ustasa favoritism,
but because the Jews were the first to arrive in the camps and were more likely to be
skilled workers than the semi-literate, poorly skilled Serb peasants who arrived the
following year?'' Furthermore, the timing of the complaints is significant. None of the
01
people who testified after 1942 made any allegations similar to those of Pmjatovic.
When specifically questioned about the existence of Jewish discrimination against the
Serbs in Jasenovac, Mihajlo Marie, a Serb, stated that, although a few bad characters
could be found in every ethnic group, only a very small number of Jewish group leaders
were corrupt?^ Another Serb, Mara Vejnovic, stated flatly, "I don't know of even one
case in which Serbs were persecuted by Jews."
What then could explain the discrepancy in testimony? Significantly enough, several
negative accounts of Jewish group leaders given by Jasenovac survivors, including the
testimony of Pmjatovic, were given in 1942 in German-occupied Belgrade before
Nedic's Commission for Refugees and People Who Have Resettled in Belgrade. When
appearing before a commission of a Serbian government under the domination of Nazi
Germany, refugees testified in a climate that encouraged the expression of anti-Semitic
views or complaints about how Croatian authorities mistreated Serbs while favoring
Jews, views corresponding to German anti-Semitic thought. Indeed, Serbian officials
would also have welcomed such accounts, seeking any opportunity to encourage German
pressure on the Croats to end the Ustasa's mistreatment of the Serbian population of the
NDH.^'*

Another reason for the discrepancy is the time in which the testimonies against Jewish
group leaders were recorded. The complaints centered around two particular Jewish
group leaders, Bruno Dijamantstajn and Spiler, both of whom were group leaders in early
1942. For example, in a July 1942 complaint to Nedic's commission, former prisoner
Drago Syjetlicic specifically accused Dijamantstajn of mistreating the Serbs and keeping
them separated from Jewish prisoners.^^ In fact, Dijamantstajn and his associates, who
were later implicated in a scandal called the Gold Affair,were generally disliked, even
by their Jewish co-religionists, whom the Ustasa punished on account of Dijamantstajn's
^7
corruption. Spiler, another Jewish group leader accused of abusing his authority, was
V

similarly disliked as much by his fellow Jews as by the Serbs.^^ In fact, Hinko Singer, a
Jew, called Spiler "one of the worst barracks commanders,"^ one who mistreated
prisoners under his control, regardless of their ethnicity. Thus, both the pressures of
testifying before a commission of a Serbian government that was collaborating with
Germany and the misdeeds of a few individuals affected the testimony of Prnjatovic and
several other Serbs, leading to allegations of abuses that are not generally found in other
testimonies.
In actuality, the position of the group leaders was limited, especially as they
themselves were prisoners, whom Ustasa authorities appointed to lead a work group.
Although the group leaders were responsible for their workers, they did not really have
any special privileges, nor did they work closely with the Ustasa. The group leaders
rarely had input even into the most basic decision of which workers would join their
group. Ustasa officials themselves assigned jobs to prisoners, jealously maintaining what

was, in effect, a life or death decision since those not assigned to a workplace were
immediately killed in Gradina. Although a guard's personal preferences and the victim's
ethnic origin sometimes factored into an official's decision, usually the Ustasa handed
out work assignments on a more or less pragmatic basis, according to a prisoner's stated
pre-war occupation.^ Thus, group leaders were not ones with any power during the
selections;^' they lacked the power to send people to their deaths as some of the Belgrade
refugees implied.
Most eyewitness accounts indicated that the majority of group leaders treated their
workers fairly, regardless of ethnic background. Indeed, many group leaders used their
limited authority to protect their workers from other ethnic backgrounds. Jakov Atijas, a
Bosnian Jewish survivor of Jasenovac, gave two instances in his memoirs. One was the
case of Sado Koen, a group leader at Kozara who encouraged the Ustasa to assign many
people, both Serbs and Jews, to the leather shop even though he knew that they had no
training as shoemakers; according to Atijas, Koen saved many people by this method.32
In addition, Atijas credited a Croatian grupnik, Mato Sego, with saving his own life.
After some prisoners escaped, the camp authorities decided to execute a large number of
Jews in retaliation, and Atijas was one of those sentenced to death. Sego managed to
obtain a written document from camp authorities removing Atijas from the list of those
slated for execution, enabling him to "escape certain death."

Another prisoner, a Croat

named Ivica Skromrak, who had been arrested because of his communist activities,
recounted that a Jewish group leader had assisted him. When he arrived at Jasenovac in
mid-1942, other prisoners told him that the camp director, Ljubo Milos, harbored a

104

special hatred of Croatian communists, considering them traitors to the NDH. Thus,
when he was assigned to work at Lancara, Skromrak was afraid to reveal his distinctively
Croatian name to the authorities. To cover up his ethnic origin, he introduced himself to
the Jewish group leader, giving the Serbian name of Cedomir Mirkovic. The group
leader, knovm as Engineer Salomon, had already learned Skromrak's real name, but as he
told Skromrak later, he agreed that it was safer to have a Serbian name than a Croatian
one, and so he assisted the prisoner by writing down the pseudonym in place of his real
name.34
There are many other examples of group leaders from one ethnic group assisting
prisoners from another. Marie, a Serb, vouched for his group leaders, both of whom were
Jewish. These leaders sought to protect their workers from the random nighttime
selections for execution in the camps by convincing the Ustasa to let them sleep at their
workplace, the chain-making plant.^^ A Jewish man named Mine, who led a group of
workers responsible for shipping along the Sava River, was similarly characterized by a
Serbian worker as a good man who treated all of his workers well and sought to save
their lives.^^ Sava Petrovic, a Serb who was a teenager when sent to Jasenovac, also
recalled that his Jewish group leader, whom he referred to as Engineer Polgar, saved his
life. Polgar covered for him when he had tj^hoid fever, concealing from camp guards
the fact that Petrovic was too ill to work since sick prisoners were often sent to the
execution grounds.^^ Thus, it is evident that many group leaders came to view their
workers of all nationalities as their charges and used their limited power to protect them.

105

The working groups within the Jasenovac system became extremely close-knit, almost
like a family, as prisoners not only worked together but also shared the same living
quarters at night. Petrovic, for example, described his mixed group of thirteen workers in
the chemistry workshop: two Serbs, four Jews, one Bosnian Muslim, and six Croats.
"We all got along well among ourselves," he reported, "how could we not?"

Petrovic

also related that the Jewish prisoners would sometimes receive food packages from
Jewish committees outside the camps. Those receiving a food package would share the
contents among their colleagues in the chemistry workshop, even those like Petrovic
himself who lacked relatives on the outside who could send him food: "We divided it up.
Nothing was hidden... .Whoever received something gave to you a little, to you a little,
and it was divided up like that."^^ Several times Petrovic reflected: "We lived as one
family....We helped each other out as one family."'^" Despot reported that Mine's work
group also shared resources, dividing food, cigarettes, and anything else that one member
of the group received in packages from home."^' The work groups, thus, became the
central unit of organization in the camps, and prisoners soon realized that their very
survival was bound up with that of the other members of their unit."^^ Ironically, the fact
that these work groups were ethnically mixed led the prisoners to develop in the camps
the very Yugoslav consciousness that the Ustasa had sought to undermine.
Interestingly enough, this sense of Yugoslav solidarity did not represent a denial of
ethnic differences; rather, camp inmates showed a tolerance for diversity in religious
beliefs. Jasenovac survivor Josef Grossepais-Gil described Kozara as a large, one-story
building with several small rooms. One of the rooms became a Jewish place of worship

106

in which many devout Jews chose to sleep so that they could rise early and pray, often the
Kaddish, the prayer for the dead.'^^ The other prisoners accepted this arrangement and
apparently were not alienated by such expressions of religious or ethnic diversity.
In fact, prisoners of different ethnic backgrounds working together to ensure their
common survival seemed to be the norm rather than the exception. A Jewish prisoner
Hinko Singer stated that "relations among the prisoners were generally good."'*'' He
added that when new groups of prisoners arrived in the camps, more experienced inmates
would brief the newcomers, warning them which guards were dangerous and providing
them with other useful information.'*^ New prisoners, regardless of their ethnicity, were
immediately integrated into prison society.
In addition, reports abound of prisoners voluntarily sharing scarce food with less
fortunate prisoners. Salomon-Monika Musafija mentioned in his memoirs that even
before arriving at the camp, prisoners began sharing food. He related that government
authorities first transported his group of prisoners to Zagreb from other parts of Croatia
without giving those arrested any food or water during the journey. In Zagreb a local
Jewish committee sent food for the Jewish prisoners, who then shared these provisions
with the Serbs, who had no organizations to provide food for them.'*^ Vladimir Novak, a
Croat living in Zagreb, told a similar story. When he was arrested, he could get food
from relatives living nearby, but the Serbian prisoners, from Srem and other remote areas,
had no local relatives to bring them food. When Novak offered to share his supplies with
the less fortunate prisoners, they were initially hesitant to accept his assistance, fearing

107

that, as a Croat, he would be punished for aiding Serbs. However, Novak was willing to
take the risk, and the hungry Serbian prisoners gladly accepted his help.'*^
Once the prisoners arrived at the camps, the process of sharing resources continued.
Duro Medic, a Serb, recounted that during his stay in the Jastrebarsko camp, the Ustasa
authorities failed to provide prisoners with adequate food. Therefore, Jewish prisoners,
who received packages from home, fed the Serbian and Croatian prisoners, who did not.

48

Immediately after the war, a Croatian woman, Ksenija Zelic, was brought by a Jewish
friend and fellow survivor of Stara Gradiska to testify before a Jewish committee in Split
about how Croatian women, who had received more food rations than their Jewish fellow
prisoners in the camp, had assisted the Jewish women by providing food to them.'^^ In the
words of Marie, a Serb, "If I received even a small piece of bread.. .1 neither wanted nor
could eat that piece of bread myself I divided it into three parts: I myself took one piece,
I gave one to a Jew, and I gave one piece to a Gypsy."^ The prisoners thus tended to
band together for survival rather than competing with each other for scarce resources.
Prisoners came together in other ways too. Ado Kabiljo, a Jew, described that during
the better times in the Stara Gradiska camp, the Ustasa assigned him to work "on the
economy," meaning a job outside of the camp. For a short while, the guards even fed
him well enough that he had the strength to play soccer in his spare time with some
friends, one a Croat and another a Muslim.^' Another Jewish detainee, Erlih, received
help for recurring problems with his feet when a Croatian political prisoner fixed his
shoes for him.^^ Sometimes prisoners even risked their lives to help another. One
example was Kabiljo, who encountered a Serbian prisoner who had recently escaped

108

from the punishment cell and was so starved that he started to eat the fodder of the pigs
that Kabiljo had been assigned to tend. The Jewish prisoner felt so sorry for the starving
man that he gave him his own lunch, an act for which Kabiljo himself was punished with
a stint in solitary confinement.^^ Evidently, prisoners in the camps often felt a sense of
solidarity and responsibility for each other that transcended ethnic lines.
Many survivors of Jasenovac felt they owed their lives to people from other ethnic
backgrounds. Any prisoner who suffered an injury or became sick with a serious illness
would usually be sentenced to death during the daily selections unless other prisoners
helped to conceal the infirmity. On many such occasions, prisoners worked together to
save another. For example, Vejnovic, a Serbian teenager who became ill with typhus,
survived because a Jewish doctor lied to an inquiring Ustasa official, telling him that she
was Croatian, not Serbian, and that she was suffering from influenza, rather than
typhus.^'' In another case, when Sajer was recovering fi-om minor surgery on his foot, his
friends of various nationalities, including some Serbs and a Muslim, helped him by
acquiring food and medicine and by concealing his infirmity from the authorities.^^
Similarly, a Jewish doctor assisted Stevo Mazic, a Croat arrested for his membership in
the Communist Party, when he was injured by an Ustasa. The doctor, Eugen Satler,
saved Mazic at risk of his own life, covering for Mazic so he would not be executed
because of his inability to work.^^
The ill or infirm were not the only prisoners in need of protection; children too young
to work were fi:equently taken to Gradina for execution. Ljiljana Ivanisevic, the little
Serbian girl who had been smuggled into the women's section of Stara Gradiska by her

109

aunt, recounted a moving story about a way in which she was saved after her aunt's
death. An Ustasa guard, noting that the girl was alone, asked the women nearby if she
had a mother. Realizing that the child would be put to death if the truth were known, a
Jewish woman named Bendl^^ claimed Ljiljana as her own daughter. Bendl cared for the
girl and protected her from selections until she herself became the victim of a selection, at
which point other strangers took on responsibility for the child.^^ Ivanisevic, like so
many others who survived Jasenovac, remembered the assistance she had received from
other prisoners and, even decades after the war ended, felt a sense of kinship with the
other survivors, regardless of whether they were Serbian or Jewish.^^
As work groups crossed ethnic lines, so too did prisoners collaborate with their
diverse groups of colleagues in escape attempts. Some of the escape plans involved an
entire working group. The members of Mine's group, for example, planned their escape
together, thirty or forty prisoners in all, a group that, according to Ado Kabiljo, included
Jews, Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, and possibly even a Croat.^ Similarly, prisoners at
Kozara as well as those at the main camp at Jasenovac organized mass uprisings and
escape attempts in the last days of the camps. During the attempts to escape, prisoners
sought to help each other in addition to saving themselves. Petrovic, for example, who
did not know how to swim, nearly drowned in the Struga River during his escape from
Jasenovac. Luckily, a Jewish man paused in his own flight to pull the nineteen-year-old
Serbian youth from the water.^' During the escape from Kozara, two friends, Stojan
Lapcevic, a Serb, and Egon Berger, a Jew, worked together to survive.*^^ Serbs and Jews
also collaborated on individually planned escape attempts, such as the case of Jakov

110
^5

Atijas, who escaped with a Serbian friend by hiding in a boat.

As escape attempts were

essentially life or death situations, they required a great deal of mutual loyalty and trust,
revealing the strong bond that had developed among prisoners of different backgrounds.
Huber recalled the sense of solidarity that developed among the prisoners of the camp:
"If you entered the camp once, then it was no longer important whether you were a Serb,
Croat, Jew, Gypsy, Czech. Whatever you were did not matter to anyone. You were a
prisoner."^'* In other words, despite the fact that most prisoners were sent to Jasenovac
because of their ethnicity and despite Ustasa attempts, at least initially, to keep ethnic
groups separated, most prisoners developed a sense of common identity with other
prisoners that transcended ethnic distinctions.

Ill

Notes to Chapter 4

' Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1, 15.
^ Esref Badnjevic, "Da se ne zaboravi" (So that it is not forgotten), in Rijeci koje nisu
zaklane (Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan Trivuncic (Jasenovac:
Spomen-podrucje, 1977), 94 (hereafter cited as Rijeci).
^ Jakica Danon, testimony, dated 19 June 1945, in The Land Commission of the People's
Republic of Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their
Collaborators, 1944-1947, Croatian National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM
Archives) (hereafter cited as Land Commission).
^ Menachem Shelah, "Genocide in Satellite Croatia during the Second World War," in A
Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, edited by Michael
Berenbaum (New York: New York University Press, 1990), 78.
^ According to Shelah (see endnote #4), the Ustasa sent most of the women to Germany
as laborers and killed or sent to Croatian homes and orphanages approximately 20,000
children.
^ Jakica Finci, "Sjecanja Jakice Fincija" (Memories of Jakica Finci), in Secanja Jevreja
na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the Jasenovac camp), compiled by Dusan
Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972), 193 (hereafter cited as
Secanja Jevreja).
Egon Berger, 44 Mjeseca u Jasenovcu (44 months in Jasenovac) (Zagreb: Graficki
Zavod Hrvatske, 1966), 16.
o

Milos Despot, interview by Jasa Almuli, 26 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1, 16.
^ Vukasin Zegarac, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade, dated 10 April 1942, mKon. log. Jasenovac - Koncentracioni
logor Jasenovac, 1941-1945. DoArwmewto (The Jasenovac concentration camp, 19411945), compiled by Antim Miletic (Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986), vol. 1, 228
(hereafter cited as Kon. log. Jasenovac).

112

"Razgovor sa Ivicom Skromrakom" (Conversation with Ivica Skromrak) in AndriJa


Hebrang: Svjedoci govore (Anrija Hebrang: Eyewitnesses Speak), edited by Pavle
Kalinic, 2"'* ed. (Zagreb: Narodne Novine, 1996), 105.
Julio Bing, testimony, dated 18 May 1945, in Land Commission.
Interestingly enough, camp authorities labeled political prisoners simply as
"Communists" with no further information about their ethnic origin.
The book is; Bespucapovijesne zbilnosti: Rasprava o povijesti i filozofiji zlosilja
(Wilderness of Historical Realities; The Debate about the History and Philosophy of the
Power of Evil), 2nd ed. (Zagreb; Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1989).
Franjo Tudman, Franjo Tudjman on the Jews: Excerpts from the book "Wastelands Historical Truth," translated by Vida Jankovic and Svetlana Raicevic (n.p., n.d.), 14-15.
Reporter Jasa Almuli conducted the ten interviews in Belgrade in June and July 1997,
originally taping each interview on audiocassettes. Each interview was later transcribed
as a written document. The interviews were open-ended, lasting for several hours.
Although Almuli asked each Jasenovac survivor at some point in the interview specific
questions about the relationship of different ethnic groups in the camp, he encouraged the
eyewitnesses to tell everything that they could remember relating to their experiences in
the NDH; their life before the rise of the Ustasa to power, how their life changed with the
outbreak of the war, their arrest and transport to the camp, conditions within the camp,
how they survived, and how their experiences in Jasenovac shaped their life after the war.
Franjo Tudman, Bespuca povijesne zbiljnosti: Rasprava o povijesti i filozofiji zlosilja
(Wilderness of Historical Realities; The Debate about the History and Philosophy of the
Power of Evil), 5th ed. (Zagreb; Hrvatska sveucilisna naklada, 1994).
Anto Knezevic, postscript to Bespuca povijesne zbiljnosti: Rasprava o povijesti i
filozofiji zlosilja (Wilderness of Historical Realities; The Debate about the History and
Philosophy of the Power of Evil), 5th ed., by Franjo Tudman (Zagreb: Hrvatska
sveucilisna naklada, 1994), 694.
Franjo Tudman, Bespuca povijesne zbiljnosti: Rasprava a povijesti i filozofiji zlosilja
(Wilderness of Historical Realities: The Debate about the History and Philosophy of the
Power of Evil), 2nd ed. (Zagreb; Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1989), 318.
BojHCJiaB M. HpiiaTOBHh (Vojislav M. Pmjatovic), "JacenoBau" (Jasenovac), in
BejiuKOMyneHUHKu Jacenoeaij, YcmauiKa meopnuija cupmu: ffoKyuenmu u ceedonewa
(The great place of martyrdom, Jasenovac, the Ustasa's factory of death: Documents and

113

eyewitness accounts), compiled by AxanacHje JeBXHh (Atanacije Jevtic) (BeorpaA: Fjiac


i^pKBc, 1990), 57-58.
Cedomil Huber, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording, tape 3,16, and Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28
June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording, tape 5, 7-8 (Washington
D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives).
1

Testimonies arising from a variety of sources, including reports to Yugoslav


investigative commissions of the immediate postwar period, eyewitness accounts
published after the war, and the interviews by Almuli recorded for the USHMM in 1997,
either fail to mention or expressly deny the persecution of camp inmates by group leaders
of any ethnic background.
Mihajlo Marie, interview by Jasa Almuli, 9 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
3, 12.
Mara Vejnovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 17 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 3,5.
The Germans felt that Croatian mistreatment of the large Serbian minority in the NDH
was a major cause of the Cetnik and Partisan revolutionary outbreaks in the area. In
other words, German Army (Wehrmacht) reports indicted Ustasa genocidal violence as
causing disorder, while portraying their ovm violence against civilians as applied in ways
that discouraged revolutionary unrest. For more information on this topic, see Jonathan
E. Gumz, "Wehrmacht Perceptions of Mass Violence in Croatia, 1941-1942," The
HistoricalJournal 44, no. 4 (December 2001): 1015-1038.
'ye

Drago Svjetlicic, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade, dated 7 July 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1, 368.
The Gold Affair was a moneymaking scheme in which several group leaders were
involved, apparently in an attempt to ensure their own survival. The leaders of the affair
were publicly executed. Following the established Ustasa procedure of punishing other
prisoners for the misbehavior of their co-religionists, Jewish prisoners were punished for
Dijamantstajn's involvement in the scandal.
Sado Koen-Davko, "Sjecanja Sada Koena-Davka" (Memories of Sado Koen-Davko),
in Secanja Jevreja, 65.

114

See references by Milovan Zee, a Serb, in "Izjava iz 1942" (A Statement from 1942),
39, and Hinko Singer, a Jew, in "Vec 1941. u Jasenovcu" (Already in 1941 in Jasenovac),
47, both accounts found in Rijeci.
Singer, 47.
Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
3, 6-7.
The term "selection" in Holocaust scholarship refers to the process by which camp
authorities chose prisoners for execution. The first, and largest, selection occurred upon a
prisoner's arrival at the camps. In most German-run camps, routine selections took place
each morning during the morning roll call; however, at Jasenovac the daily selection took
place in the evenings after the prisoners had returned from work.
Jakov E. Atijas, "Sjecanja Jakova Atijasa" (Memories of Jakov Atijas), in Secanja
Jevreja, 78.
Ibid., 79.
"Razgovor sa Ivicom Skromrakom," 104-105.
Marie, tape 1,20.
Despot, tape 1,16-17.
Sava Petrovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 12 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1,15.
Ibid., tape 2, 1.
Ibid., tape 2,4-5.
Ibid., tape 2,1-2.
Despot, tape 1,15.
For yet another account of food sharing in camp workshops, see Singer, 52.
Josef Grossepais-Gil, "Sjecanja Josefa Grossepaisa-Gila" (Memories of Josef
Grossepais-Gil), in Secanja Jevreja, 291.

115

Singer, 56.
Ibid., 56.
Salomon-Monika Musafija, "Sjecanja Salomona-Monike Musafije" (Memories of
Musafija Salomaon-Monika), in Secanja Jevreja, 22.
Vladimir Novak, "Iz Savske u Jasenovac" (From Savska to Jasenovac), in Rijeci, 22.
Duro Medic, testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who Resettled
in Belgrade, dated 11 April 1942, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1, 231.
Ksenija Zelic, testimony in the office of the Jewish Union in Split, dated 8 June 1945,
in State Commission for Determination of Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and Their
Supporters in the People's Republic of Croatia records. Original document in Croatian
Archives. (Microfilm, USHMM Archives).
Marie, tape 2, 2.
Ado Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington B.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 1, 20.
CO

Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
3,2.
Kabiljo, tape 1,24.
Vejnovic, tape 1,17.
Sajer, tape 2,11.
Stevo Mazic, "Bio sam medu vrtlarima" (I was among the gardeners), in Rijeci, 18.
The woman had Ljiljana memorize her name, but as Ljiljana was a young child at the
time, she later forgot the first name of her protector.
CO

Ljiljana Ivanisevic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 19 July 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia,


transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives, 1997), tape 1, 19-20.
Ibid., tape 2, 12.

Kabiljo, tape 2, 3.
Petrovic, tape 2, 22.
Berger, 88. Also, Stojan Lapcevic, testimony to the Regional Commission for the
Determination of War Crimes in Nova Gradiska, dated 10 May 1945, in Kon. log.
Jasenovac, vol. 2, 964-965.
Atijas, 80.
Huber, tape 1,18.

117

Chapter 5; The Discrediting of Alternatives to Yugoslavism


We have seen that a reaction against ethnic persecution led, outside the camps, to a
feeling of sympathy for the prisoners and, inside the camps, to the growth of interethnic
cooperation among the prisoners. In addition, the atrocities served to discredit moderate
elements of the Croatian leadership that represented alternatives to Yugoslavism: Vladko
Macek, head of the powerful Croatian Peasant Party, and Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac,
the top Croatian dignitary in the Catholic Church.
Macek had been the most powerful political leader of Croatia before 1941.
Succeeding to the leadership of the Croatian Peasant Party after the assassination of
Stjepan Radic in 1928, Macek had openly opposed the dictatorship of King Alexander
Karadordevic and the Serbian domination of the Yugoslav state. Although he was
imprisoned for several years during the 1930s because of his political views, Macek
remained the most popular political leader in Croatia and continued to advocate change
by peaceful means. Eventually, with the Second World War looming on the horizon, the
Yugoslav government realized the need for an agreement with the Croats. Prime
Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic entered into negotiations with the Croatian Peasant Party,
culminating in the signing of the Cvetkovic-Macek Agreement on 26 August 1939, an
agreement that gave Croatia a wide measure of autonomy in Yugoslav affairs. His
cooperation with the Yugoslav state, however, earned Macek the hatred of the Ustasa,
placing him in a precarious position when the Ustasa came to power in April 1941.
After the Axis invasion, Macek refused to go into exile and leave Croatia along with
other members of the Yugoslav government. He advised his followers not to resist the

118

new rulers,' but he himself refused to collaborate with the Ustasa government. The
German authorities, realizing that the Ustasa had only a narrow base of support, soon
offered Macek a position as leader of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), but Macek
again declined to participate in a government under fascist control. This refusal led to his
arrest in October 1941. Vjekoslav Luburic, a notorious director of Jasenovac, personally
took him into custody. At first there was some uncertainty about what to do with the
prisoner, and Macek feared he was about to be executed. Finally, Ustasa guards took him
to a building near the Jasenovac camp, where he was held for ten days. From there, his
captors transferred him to a facility within Kozara, the Brickyard Camp of Jasenovac, a
barracks housing important prisoners as well as the camp leadership. The building had
covered windows so that he could not see out, and other prisoners could not see him.
Macek's incarceration in Jasenovac, while difficult, was in no way typical. He shared a
room with Lieutenant Ljubo Milos, who would one day become director of the camp,
received adequate food, and was given medicine when he contracted influenza.^
Nonetheless, his internment gave him a taste of the persecution that was occurring in the
NDH.
On 16 March 1942, Macek was released from the concentration camp and held under
house arrest at his home in the village of Kupinec, Croatia, for the rest of the war.
Although he felt frustrated at being "reduced to the role of a helpless onlooker,"^ he still
tried to influence events within Croatia and take action against the oppressive measures
of the Ustasa regime. As he put it;
I drew the attention of the Croatian peasants living in mixed regions to the
himianitarian principles that had guided Stephen Radic, encouraging them to

119

extend whatever help they could to their Serbian fellow-peasants. I also


dispatched a series of peasant messengers to various parts of Croatia with similar
advice to the population. Among them were Peric from Hercegovina, Blazak
from Moslavina and the National Deputy Andrija Pavlic. Peric was caught and
shot in Hercegovina by the Germans. Blazak was killed by Communist partisans.
Pavlic was taken to an Usatsa concentration camp, where he was mistreated so
badly that he barely stayed alive.^
Thus, Macek himself remained personally committed to the ideals of Yugoslavism and
tried to influence peasant supporters of his party to oppose state policies of ethnic
discrimination.^
On the surface, it appears surprising that Macek and his party failed to organize active
resistance to the Ustasa regime despite their obvious distaste for the government and
especially the regime's treatment of minority groups. The Croatian Peasant Party's
adoption of a 'wait and see' policy, not cooperating with the government but not
opposing it either, was predicated on the expectation that the Allies would eventually win
the war and drive the Ustasa out of power. Although this policy was reasonable, in the
crucible of war, it came to be seen as passive. Especially after 1942, Croatians
increasingly turned away from the traditional leadership of the Croatian Peasant Party
and joined the ranks of the Partisan resistance movement.^ Thus, Vladko Macek and
others in the Croatian Peasant Party leadership were discredited, not because of their
actions but because of their inaction.^
Another powerful social force in Croatia that lost support because of its wartime
policies was the Catholic Church in the NDH, headed by Archbishop Ivan Saric in
Bosnia and Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac in Croatia. According to an American
historian, Jozo Tomasevich, there was a natural affinity between the Catholic Church and

the Ustasa regime as both were authoritarian, anti-Yugoslav, anti-democratic, antiFreemason, and above all anti-Serbian, anti-Orthodox, and anti-Communist.^ Yet, the
main reason that the Catholic Church supported the new goverrmient was because the
NDH represented a fulfillment of Croatian nationalism, the long-desired establishment of
an independent Croatian state. Therefore, many devout Catholics were enthusiastic
supporters of the Ustasa, even when it became clear that the authorities were engaging in
genocide against the non-Catholic, non-Croatian sections of the population.
An interesting anecdote related by Macek sheds some light on the unquestioning
commitment to Croatian nationalism among many practicing Catholics. During his
months in Jasenovac, Macek roomed with Ljubo Milos, who later became commander of
Jasenovac. During the time that they lived together, Macek noticed that Milos was a
devout Catholic. One day the imprisoned leader of the Croatian Peasant Party questioned
his roommate:
Pointing out the monstrosity of his actions, I asked if he were not afraid of the
punishment of God. He replied quickly and with a bluntness that staggered me.
"Don't talk to me about that," he said, "for I am perfectly aware of what is in
store for me. For my past, present and future deeds I shall bum in hell, but at
least I shall bum for Croatia."'^
According to Milos's rationalization, the end justified the means; moral scruples were
subordinate to the interests of Croatian nationalism.
The Catholic clergy were divided on the issue of the ethnic persecution in the NDH.
In his book about Catholic complicity in wartime Croatia, Yugoslav former-Partisan
Vladimir Dedijer, who was himself an eyewitness to several atrocities during the war,
wrote an entire section on massacres led by priests,'' a subject also raised by historian

121

Edmund Paris in his monograph on massacres and forced conversions in wartime


Croatia'^ and the Serbian Orthodox Church's book published in Chicago in 1943.*^
Some Ustasa priests, such as the infamous commander of Jasenovac, Miroslav FilipovicMajstorovic, were active in the administration of concentration camps. On the other
hand, many other clergymen opposed the atrocities in Croatia.Some priests risked
censure by the authorities and tried to assist prisoners in the camps, such as the case cited
earlier'^ of the Catholic organizations involved in rescuing children from Jasenovac.
The Catholic clergy's attitude toward the conversion of Orthodox Serbs or Jews to
Catholicism also varied. Sometimes, priests affiliated with the regime forcibly converted
S e r b s . M o r e often, the situation was more complex. Members o f the clergy frequently
officiated at conversion ceremonies at the urging of Serbs and Jews, who embraced the
Catholic faith in an attempt to avoid persecution. There were various motives for
clergymen to agree to such conversions, some accepting converts merely to increase the
size of their parishes, and others attempting by this means to assist people persecuted by
the regime. In Macek's view, priests who took in converts were to be commended:
Very striking is the case of a priest in the Sarajevo diocese who told a number of
Orthodox people: "Children, you see that your mother (Orthodox Church) is in
grave distress and she carmot take care of you. Come to your aunt (Catholic
Church) and when your mother recovers, you will return to her."'^
On the other hand, Macek acknowledged that there were other priests who were stricter
in accepting converts, requiring them to study for several weeks. These priests, Macek
wrote, were "severely censured by Orthodox Serbs for refusing help to their neighbors in
1o

need."

Thus, the clergy in Croatia were far from unanimous in their response to ethnic

persecution under the Ustasa government.

The most controversial aspect of the Catholic Church's role in the Croatian genocide
was the position of the higher Church leadership. The highest official in the Catholic
Church in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Ivan Saric, was an outspoken champion of the Ustasa
cause, who even supported genocide as a means of creating national unity.' The German
Commanding General in the NDH, Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, wrote disapprovingly
of Saric in his journal, describing the Bosnian archbishop as a Croatian extremist who
'y(\
wanted a radical solution to the Serbian problem. When General Glaise von Horstenau

suggested to Croatian authorities that the NDH needed to focus on the establishment of
law and order in the state rather than undertaking disruptive operations against the Serbs,
Saric made little attempt to hide his disdain for the general's advice.^' Evidently, the
highest leader of the Catholic Church in Bosnia-Hercegovina stood completely behind
the government and its policies.
A more powerful and much more controversial figure is the Catholic Archbishop
Alojzije Stepinac of Zagreb, the highest-ranking and most influential Catholic official in
the NDH. There is no doubt that Stepinac welcomed the formation of an independent
Croatian state in April 1941. In a circular letter to the clergy of Zagreb, published in the
Zagreb newspaper Katolicki List [Catholic Newspaper] on 29 April, he described the
establishment of the NDH as "the culmination of an ideal long cherished and desired by
our people."^^ He fully endorsed the leadership of Ante Pavelic and the Ustasa:
"Knowing the men who are today at the helm of the Croat nation, we are deeply
convinced that our efforts v^ll find understanding and assistance,"^^ and urged the clergy
to "Prove yourselves, venerable brethren, now, and fulfill your duty toward the young

Croat State."^'^ On 26 June 1941, the archbishop met with Pavelic, warmly greeting the
Ustasa chief and promising "sincere and loyal collaboration for the better future of our
homeland."^^ Thus, it is apparent that, at least initially, Stepinac fully backed the Ustasa
regime.
The Archbishop's attitude toward the regime's persecution of ethnic minorities is less
clear. Stjepan Gazi, a Croatian official in the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile, reported in
spring 1942 that Stepinac "energetically protested in the name of the Church against the
persecution of Serbs and Jews."^^ Macek also portrayed Stepinac as an outspoken critic
of the Ustasa's genocidal policies, writing of the archbishop's "courageous opposition to
terrorism," his admonition to Pavelic to observe the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not
kill, and his sermons against racial discrimination, which "were famous with the
Croats."^^ Others claimed that the Catholic leader was criminally negligent in failing to
curb Ustasa terrorism and, indeed, he was brought to trial on this charge after the war.
Yet, it seems that reality lies somewhere in between these two opposing positions.
On the one hand, Stepinac communicated his disapproval of Ustasa excesses on
several occasions, appealing directly to government leaders. As early as 14 May 1941,
the Archbishop sent a letter of protest to Pavelic about the killings of Serbs in Glina,

98

and eight days later, appealed to another government leader, the minister of the interior
Andrija Artukovic:
I ask you, Mr. Minister, to give appropriate orders so that the Jewish laws and
others similar to them (the measures against the Serbs, etc.) be executed in such a
way that the human dignity and personality of each man is respected. The
provision that the Jewish insignia must be worn ought to be suppressed.^^

124

Later, in March 1943, he wrote to Pavelic, "There are many in the concentration camps
who are irmocent or who have not deserved so severe a punishment," and then hastened
to add, "I am sure that such unjust measures do not come from you, but rather from
irresponsible persons who have been guided by passion and personal greed."

Later that

spring, he intervened on behalf of the surviving remnant of the Jewish community,


informing Artukovic, "I am enclosing the petition of the Jewish religious community of
Zagreb asking authorization to work for the welfare of those (Jews) who still remain free.

Every consideration recommends the petition as just."

Therefore, Stepmac did attempt

to intercede with the government to moderate its policies toward ethnic minorities.
Nonetheless, little evidence supports claims by Stepinac's supporters that the
archbishop was "the greatest defender of the Jews not only in the Independent State of

Croatia but in Europe" and that he personally assisted thousands of Serbian


children.33

Critics of Stepinac point to numerous shortcomings in his policies. For one thing, critics
argue, most of his communications with government officials showed more concern for
persecution of Catholics than those of other faiths. For example, in a letter to Artukovic,
Stepinac asked that the government "respect the baptized members of the Jewish race,"
specifically those that converted before the war.^"^ While he asked that Catholics of
Jewish extraction be exempted from restrictions, he approved of measures to keep
"Catholic non-Aryans" and "other non-Aryans" apart since mixing of the two groups
would undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.^^ In another letter to Pavelic in
late fall 1941, Stepinac asked to send Christmas aid to Catholics in Jasenovac and
Loborgrad because "many of them are in a situation worse than that of the Jews who have

not been baptized."^ The CathoUc leader in Croatia must also be counted among those
clerics that Macek criticized for restricting the number of people converting to the
Catholic faith in order to avoid persecution. In March 1942, he urged priests accepting
converts to "pay strict attention to the reasons for which these people wish to embrace the
Catholic faith....These people must embrace the Catholic religion with a pure intention,
without dishonest motives, with faith in the truth of Catholicism."

Obviously,

Stepinac's main concern in his relationship with the Ustasa government was the
protection of the Catholic population of the NDH.
The archbishop's most specific criticisms of the regime's ethnic policies were
expressed quietly through private correspondence with government officials. In public,
he limited his remarks to generalizations, criticizing the concept of racism, rather than
condemning any specific government policy.^^ For example, although he directed priests
to convert only those people who showed a genuine interest in the Catholic faith, he did
not chastise those clergymen who had participated in forced conversions or specifically
mention the occurrence of such practices.^^ Nor did he make specific reference to the
killing of Jews and Serbs specifically, instead referring vaguely to inhumane treatment of
prisoners and to the detention of innocent people in concentration camps.^*^ Thus,
Stepinac's response to the persecution of minority groups was hesitant, rather than
decisive.
Stepinac's behavior during World War II is hotly debated even today. Biographer
Stella Alexander described the controversy as a conflict between two myths: the
Orthodox Serbian myth that Stepinac collaborated with the regime and was therefore an

accomplice in the persecution of the Serbs, and the Catholic Croatian counter-myth that
Stepinac was a saintly man/' who stood in opposition to the persecution within the
NDH.'^^ The reality is that the archbishop was neither a staunch supporter of the Ustasa
leadership, nor an outspoken opponent of government policies, nor even one who
vacillated between the two extremes. Stepinac's fault was the narrowness of his
worldview, his single-minded and exclusive focus on Catholicism in Croatia and limited
ability to perceive the broader issues of his time. Thus, he fretted about swearing and
immodesty in women's dress'*^ at a time when people were dying in concentration camps
and asserted that "no people during this war has been so cruelly stricken as the unhappy
Croatian people"'''^ even as evidence mounted of the horrendous atrocities against Jews
and others throughout Europe. By the end of the war, he became preoccupied with the
rise of Communism in Croatia and the impact this could have on the Catholic Church.
Stepinac's fault, then, lay in his narrow range of concern in a time that required vision of
its leaders, and the Croatian Catholic Church's fault lay in its inaction in the face of
ethnic persecution in a situation that required humanitarian intervention.
To put the position of the Croatian Catholic Church in a broader context. Archbishop
Stepinac's relative inaction in limiting the Croatian genocide reflected the attitude of his
superiors at the Vatican. Historian Jure Kristo pointed out in his two-volume work on the
relations between the Catholic Church and the NDH that the Vatican was rather
ambivalent in its support for the Croatian regime. On the one hand, the Vatican approved
of a Catholic Croatian state; on the other hand, the standard policy of the Holy See was
not to recognize territorial changes during a war. Therefore, even though the Vatican

127

received delegations from the NDH, the Vatican distanced itself from the Croatian
government by assigning lower level Vatican officials to meet with Croatian leaders.''^
In her study of Vatican complicity in the Holocaust, researcher Susan Zuccotti was far
more critical of the relationship between the Catholic leadership and the NDH. "The
Holy See did virtually nothing to diminish the violence and suffering" against Jews and
Serbs even though the Vatican was fully informed about the persecution occurring
throughout Europe."*^ Zuccotti feels that the Church's silence in the wake of the
Holocaust is inexcusable:
It is hard to argue that a Vatican intervention in Croatia would have made no
difference, or that it would only have made things worse. That argument was
made after the war to justify the papal silence with regard to the Germans, but it
did not apply to the Croatians. The Ustasha fanatics who were tormenting Jews
and Serbs were practicing Catholics. Some of them might have been beyond the
reach of moderating influences at the time, but not all. The Church leadership in
Rome should at least have tried."^^
Thus, Stepinac's ambivalence toward Ustasa policies in Croatia reflected the
ambivalence of his superiors in Rome.
Regardless of one's interpretation of actions by the Croatian Peasant Party and the
Catholic Church in wartime Croatia, the fact is that both of these organizations, which
had been quite influential in 1941, were discredited during the war owing to their failure
to offer decisive resistance to the discriminatory policies of the NDH. Croatians and
Bosnians began to look elsewhere for a solution to the violence and disorder of the war
years.

128

Notes to Chapter 5

' Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, J941-1945: Occupation and
Collaboration (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 2001), 256.
^ Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, translated by Elizabeth and Stjepan Gazi
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1957), 240-244.
^ Ibid., 236.
Ibid., 237.
^ For example, Duka Pazdrijan, a Croat, recounted that his father was a radicevac
(supporter of Radio's Croatian Peasant Party) and a pan-Slav as were most of the
peasants in his village. In fact, Pazdrijan wrote as if affiliation with the Croatian Peasant
Party and a Yugoslav orientation were interchangeable. See Duka Pazdrijan,
"Preslagivao sam kipove svetaca" (I piled up statues of saints) in Rijeci koje nisu zaklane
(Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan Trivuncic (Jasenovac: Spomenpodrucje, 1977)., 31.
^ Tomasevich, 360.
n

See Hrvoje Matkovic, Povijest Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske: Kratak Pregled (History of
the Independent State of Croatia: A short overview) (Zagreb: Naklada Pavicic, 1994),
166, and the German military report, November 1942, in the files of Karl Christian von
Loesch (Archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford
University), 20.
o

From 1943, underground Partisan newspapers in Croatia and Bosnia, such as


Oslobodenje (Liberation), Glas (Voice), and Glas Slavonije (Voice of Slavonia),
identified Macek and "his clique" with the Ustasa, implying that his refusal to become
directly involved in anti-Ustasa agitation meant a tacit acceptance of the organization's
goals.
^ Ibid., 369.
Macek, 245.
See "Documents on Massacres under the Leadership of Priests" in Vladimir Dedijer,
The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, translated by Harvey L. Kendall (Amherst:
Prometheus Books, 1992), 176-221.
12

See Edmund Paris, Convert...or Die: Catholic Persecution in Yugoslavia during World

129

War II, translated from French by Lois Perkins (Chino: Chick Publications, 1988), 107115.
See the Serbian Eastern Orthodoc Diocese for the United States and Canada,
Martyrdom of the Serbs: Persecutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Massacre
of the Serbian People (Chicago: Palandech's Press, 1943), 173-177.
Stjepan Gazi, who was associated with the Yugoslav Govemment-in-Exile, believed
that the majority of the clergy, especially those at higher levels, opposed discriminatory
policies. Stjepan Gazi, "Izvjestaj iz Zeneve" (Report from Geneva), dated 25 Mar. 1942,
in Hrvatska u arhivima izbjeglicke vlade 1941-1943: Izvestaji informatora o prilikama u
Hrvatskoj (Croatia in the archives of the Govemment-In-Exile 1941-1943: reports on
conditions in Croatia), edited by Ljubo Boban (Zagreb: Globus, 1985), 43 (hereafter cited
as H. u arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade). Also, Edmund Paris gave examples of two clergymen
who publicly spoke out against ethnic discrimination although he disagreed with Gazi
and labeled them the exception rather than the rule among the Croatian clergy. In
Convert...or Die: Catholic Persecution in Yugoslavia during World War //, translated
from French by Lois Perkins (Chino: Chick Publications, 1988), 109. Viktor Novak
similarly gives the example of Josip Loncar, who spoke in church against the persecution
of minorities and was sent to Jasenovac because of it. Viktor Novak, Magnum Crimen:
Pola Vijeka Klerikalizma u Hrvatskoj (Great crimes: Half a century of clericalism in
Croatia) (Zagreb: n.p., 1948), 607.
See Chapter 3.
See Dedijer, 348-374.
Macek, 235.
Ibid., 235.
Srdja Trifkovic, Ustasa: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929-1945
(London: The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, 1998), 142.
Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, Ein General im Zwielicht: Die Erinnerungen Edmund
Glaises von Horstenau (A general in twilight: The memoirs of Edmund Glaise von
Horstenau), vol. 3: Deutscher Bevollmachtiger General in Kroatien und Zeuge des
Untergangs des Tausendjahrigen Reiches (German Deputy General in Croatia and
Witness of the Fall of the Thousand Year Empire), edited by Peter Broucek (Vienna:
Bohlau Verlag, 1988), 96. This entry was dated April 1941.
Ibid., 96.

130

yy

Alojzije Stepinac, Circular Letter to the Clergy of the Zagreb Archdiocese, published
in Katolicki List (Catholic newspaper), Zagreb, 29 Apr. 1941, in Richard Pattee, The
Case of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1953), 258.
Ibid., 260.
Ibid., 260.

Alojzije Stepinac, "Poglavaru je duznost sluziti narodu u ljubavi i pravdi!" (The duty
of a leader is to serve the nation in love and justice), 26 June 1941, in Propovijedi,
govori, poruke, 1941-1946 (Sermons, speeches, messages, 1941-1946) (Zagreb: AGM,
1996), 28 (hereafter cited as Propovijedi).
Stjepan Gazi, "Izvjestaj iz Zeneve" (Report from Geneva) dated 25 Mar. 1942, in H. u
arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade, 43.
Macek, 235-236.
Tomasevich, 398.
OQ

Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Andrija Artukovic, 22 May 1941, in Pattee, 301.


Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Ante Pavelic, 6 March 1943, in Pattee, 311.
Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Andrija Artukovic, 8 May 1943, in Pattee, 312.

Jure Kristo, Katolicka crkva i Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska 1941-1945. (The Catholic
church and the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945), 2 vols. (Zagreb: Hrvatski
Institut za Povijest, 1998), 372.
Ivan Muzic, Pavelic i Stepinac (Pavelic and Stepinac) (Split: Logos, 1991), 73.
Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Andrija Artukovic, 22 May 1941, in Pattee, 301.
Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Andrija Artukovic, 30 May 1941, in Pattee, 302-304.
Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Ante Pavelic, undated (fall 1941), in Pattee, 345.

Alojzije Stepinac, Circular Letter, 2 March 1942, in Pattee, 373.


As, for example, in Alojzije Stepinac, "Rase i narodi su Bozje tvorevine!" (Races and
nations are God's creations). Sermon, 31 October 1943, m Propovijedi, 176-180.
39

Milan
Bulajic,
The Role of the Vatican in the Break-up of the Yugoslav State (Beograd:

131

Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia, 1993), 88-89.


^Ibid., 125-126.
According to Italian author Marco Aurelio Rivelli, the Vatican today honors the
memory of Stepinac. On a visit to Croatia, Pope John Paul II kissed the holy relic of
Stepinac, considering him blessed in the church. Marco Aurelio Rivelli, L 'Arcivescovo
del Genocido (The archbishop of genocide) (Milano: Kaos, 1999), 271.
Stella Alexander, The Triple Myth: A Life of Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (New York;
Columbia University Press, 1987), 3-4.
Ibid., 105.
Quoted in Alexander, 109.
Jure Kristo, Katolicka crkva i Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska 1941-1945 (The Catholic
church and the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945) (Zagreb: Hrvatski Institut za
Povijest, 1998), 369.
Susan Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 114.
Ibid., 115.

132

Chapter 6: The Impact of Italian and German Policies on Ethnic Relations within
the Independent State of Croatia

While World War II precipitated a shift in internal power relations within Croatia, the
war also brought two foreign powers, Germany and Italy, into the equation. The
occupying powers jockeyed for position within their separate spheres of control in the
Independent State of Croatia (NDH), and in their rivalry, patronized one or another of the
competing ethnic groups. In fact, Italy and Germany often pursued radically different
policies toward ethnic persecution within the NDH and even toward the different
collaborationist and resistance movements as well. In this way, the policies of Italy and
Germany played an important role in the interethnic struggle occurring within Croatia,
ultimately contributing to the development of Yugoslavism in the area.
Immediately upon the destruction of the Yugoslav state, the Axis powers had to
grapple with practical issues concerning the military occupation of the region. At a
meeting in Vieima on 21 and 22 April 1941, Germany and Italy agreed to a demarcation
line, dividing the Independent State of Croatia between them. (Refer to the map on page
31.) The Germans took the northeastern half, ensuring their control of the major northsouth railroad lines, strategic raw materials, and the Danube River. Italy annexed
outright some Croatian territories along the Adriatic seacoast and occupied militarily
some adjoining regions in the southwestern part of the country. Thus, although the
Ustasa was nominally in charge of the country, the leaders of the supposedly independent
state had to contend with various occupying armies.

Italy's annexation of traditionally Croatian territories along the Adriatic coast created
an immediate and permanent strain in relations between Italy and the Croatian
government. Italy's territorial acquisitions also brought discredit on the Ustasa regime.
According to the American historian Jozo Tomasevich, the Croatian people could not
help but notice the irony that a group that "built its career on the supposed struggle of the
Croatian people for freedom and independence was installed in power by the traditional
enemies of the Croatian nation and paid for it by losing a choice part of Croatian
territory."' Ustasa authorities, recognizing the precariousness of their position, turned
away from Italy and began to rely on Germany to support the government, especially as
Germany proved to be the more powerful of the two occupying countries.
The support of Nazi Germany was essential to the survival of the Ustasa goverimient.
In fact, the German Supreme Command was the architect of the Independent State of
Croatia, deciding to create a Croatian state on 3 April 1941,^ several days before the Axis
invasion of Yugoslavia and a full week before the first Ustasa officials returned to
Croatia from their residence abroad. Walther Hewl, an official on Adolf Hitler's personal
staff, reported to the German Foreign Ministry that Hitler told Croatian foreign minister
Mladen Lorkovic that "as an Austrian by birth, who in his youth had so often associated
with the people from the close-by southeast, he was particularly interested in the Croatian
state."^ However, on the subject of Croatian border disputes with Italy, Germany was
less supportive of the NDH. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop urged the
Croats to make an agreement directly with Italy and not to expect Germany to plead
Croatia's case. As he explained in a telegram to the German Legation in Croatia,

134

Germany's relations with Italy were more important than its relations with Croatia.'' As
another official of the foreign ministry affirmed:
Croatia always had to remember that the Fuhrer and the Duce were friends and
that Italy and Germany were allies. Therefore the tendency among certain people
in Croatia to wish at times to put a little sand in the mechanism of the Axis was
entirely misdirected.^
In other words, although Germany had created the NDH and maintained it in power,
German support for Croatia was not without limits.
Top German officials in Croatia disagreed about the efficacy of Ustasa rule and
whether Germany should continue to keep the Ustasa in power. General Edmund Glaise
von Horstenau, commander of the German Army in Croatia from April 1941 until
September 1944, was a staunch critic of the Ustasa. He noted in his journal in April 1941
that the Ustasa represented a revolution of old men and old imperial officers and was not
able to attract young people to its cause.^ He felt that the unpopularity of Pavelic's
government "proves without a doubt to be more and more a mistake"^ and recommended
that Croatian Peasant Party leader Vladko Macek replace Pavelic as head of the
government. The powerful German ambassador to the NDH, Siegfried von Kasche,
opposed this suggestion, arguing that the Ustasa was the only reliable element as far as
o

Germany was concerned. Eventually, the issue of whether or not to overhaul the
Croatian government proved a moot point as Macek refiised to participate in any
proposed reorganization, leaving Germany without a viable alternative.
The primary source of friction between German officials and its Ustasa allies was the
treatment of ethnic groups within the Croatia. Both parties agreed that three ethnic
groups - the Croats, Volksdeutsche, and Bosnian Muslims - should share power within

135

the NDH. Hitler himself had advised Croatian foreign minister Lorkovic to implement a
policy of close collaboration among the three groups.^ Controversy arose about the
treatment of the so-called 'non-Aryans.' Although both governments, agreed in principle
that Jews and Serbs were non-Aryans''' who should be brought under control, the
Germans felt that the Jews should be the primary target, while the Croats considered the
Serbs to be a much more important threat to Croatian nationalism. As a result, German
officials complained that the Ustasa regime was rather easy on the Jews, possibly because
some members of the Croatian government had Jewish relatives,'' yet criticized the
Croats for being excessive in their persecution of the Serbs.By summer 1941, the
difference in emphasis had devolved into a heated controversy over the treatment of the
Serbs in Croatia.
Ustasa officials were surprised by the criticism leveled at their Serbian policy by some
German officials, especially as others in the German leadership encouraged Croatia's
anti-Serbian measures. For example, when Pavelic met with German foreign minister
Ribbentrop on 6 June 1941, Ribbentrop expressed displeasure with Croatian plans for the
Serbs, yet when Pavelic met with Hitler later that same day, the German leader actually
encouraged the Croatians to persecute the Serbs. In fact, Hitler advised Pavelic to pursue
a "nationally intolerant policy" for fifty years "because too much tolerance on such issues
can only do harm."13 The Ustasa government had already started slaughtering Serbs
before this date, but Hitler's attitude gave further impetus to Croatian persecution of the
Serbs. In the words of Yugoslav historian Srdja Trifkovic, "His [Hitler's] encouragement
to Pavelic had a major long-term impact not because it induced the Poglavnik''^ to do

136

something he had not intended to do in any event, but because it gave him carte blance
[sic.] to go all the way in his intentions."'^
As the persecution of the Serbs intensified during the summer of 1941, some German
officials grew increasingly concerned about the Ustasa regime's harshness toward its
large Serbian minority. The most outspoken critic of Croatian policy was General Glaise
von Horstenau, who had several reasons for his vehement opposition to the persecution of
the Serbs. First, he was a man of principle, who frequently referred in his journal to
concepts of ethics and morality. He seemed to be "an essentially decent officer of the old
school"' who was genuinely shocked by reports of the atrocities occurring within the
NDH. Second, the general felt Croatian authorities' persecution of the Serbs was
responsible for inciting a wave of rebellions and reprisals, leading to disorder that he felt
was detrimental to German interests in the region. Glaise's assistant. Captain Arthur
Haeffner, had extensive connections throughout the NDH and provided his superior
officer with detailed, accurate information. Both Haeffner and Glaise were concerned
that Croatian atrocities were responsible for the growth of the Cetnik resistance
movement, a Serbian nationalist force. Even worse, from the general's point of view,
Croatian attacks were driving the Cetniks into a "panslavic-Communist path" causing
many people in Croatia to look back with nostalgia to the quiet time under Yugoslav
17
^
rule. Haeffner felt that most rebels were neither Cetniks nor communists, but simply
persecuted people who preferred to die fighting rather than to become passive victims.'^
General Glaise feared that political unrest in Croatia was quickly getting out of control

137

and advised Germany to take immediate action to curb the Ustasa's mistreatment of the
Serbs.
On 19 July 1941, Heribert von Troll-Obergell, the Charge d'Affaires in the German
legation in Croatia, informed the Foreign Ministry in Berlin that:
The Serbian question has become considerably more acute in the last few days.
The ruthless carrying out of the resettlement with many unfortunate by-products,
and numerous other acts of terror in the provinces...are giving even the soberminded Croatian circles reason for serious concern."'^
Troll-Obergell stated in his report that military sources in Serbia and Bosnia had been
informing the Zagreb legation about "the dangerous character of these occurrences" and
that German authorities in Croatia had been forced to express their concerns to the top
leaders in the NDH.^ On 10 August, he sent another telegram informing the German
goverrmient about rebellions in Bosnia:
Contrary to Croatian accounts, which blame these uprisings wholly on Serbian
influences, the German military headquarters and thoughtful Croat circles agree
that the ruthless, bloody methods of the Ustase bear part of the responsibility for
these outbreaks. The feeling against the Ustase among the Croat military is very
tense."^'
A further cause for concern was that knowledge of atrocities against the Serbs was
spreading throughout the region. On 15 August, a directive from the German foreign
ministry informed officials in Zagreb about the publication of two Red Cross reports on
the executions of Serbs in Croatian and Hungarian territories and urging that authorities
there take measures "to counteract a propagandistic exploitation of these incidents."^^
Despite these warnings about the negative impact of the unrest in Croatia, the German
government did little more than make recommendations to Ustasa officials that the

Croatian government curb the violence against the Serbs and try to prevent news of the
unrest from spreading.
By 1942 the German government was confronted with the rapid growth of the
Partisans, a communist-led and pan-Yugoslav resistance movement, especially in Bosnia.
An unsigned German military report from 1942 warned that dissatisfaction with the
Ustasa was causing the growth of "anti-racists," who the author felt were supported
politically and financially by the Jews and by the policies of Italy. The writer believed
23

the disorder could become serious enough to lead to the overthrow of the Croatian state.

Glaise also warned of the crisis in the NDH. In a journal entry dated November 1942, he
wrote that he had received reports of atrocities in Bjelovar, Bosnia. He had personally
insisted on a joint German-Croatian investigation, which found that 6,500 people had
been killed. The general was furious, having personally seen trains loaded with hungry
women and children that the Ustasa were deporting even after the Croatian government
assured the Germans that the persecutions had stopped.^"*
General Glaise was still fuming about what he had seen in Bosnia when he heard that
three villages had been attacked by Ustasa troops operating out of Jasenovac.
The commander confronted Pavelic and demanded the right to visit a concentration
camp. With an Ustasa escort, the German military commander visited the concentration
camp at Sisak, where he saw dying children and other sights which so horrified him that
he said he would spit on the people who organized such a thing. In his view, the camp
was the peak of horror in the world. He had heard reports that Jasenovac was even
worse, but he could not believe that was possible.

Glaise did not consider his reaction

139

unusual; he had apparently received complaints from other German army officers about
the atrocities. The general regretted that he did not have the power to stop the killings
though he believed that his protests had saved many lives?^
The Germans soon found that many members of the Bosnian Muslim population of
the NDH shared Germany's concern over Ustasa policies that antagonized the Serbs.
Although the Muslim community in Bosnia and Hercegovina had originally supported
the creation of the NDH, believing that the Ustasa regime would provide Muslims a
wider measure o f autonomy than they had experienced i n the Yugoslav k i n g d o m , t h e y
soon became disillusioned. For one thing, the Croatian government granted Muslims
very few political positions, only 19 out of 478 government posts within Bosnia.^^
However, the main difficulty that the Bosnian Muslims experienced within the NDH was
the violent unrest caused by the regime's persecution of the Serbs. Serbian Cetnik forces
sprang up and carried out bloody reprisals against the Muslim civilian population; the
Partisan movement also grew rapidly within Bosnia, and their battles with Croatian,
Serbian, and Axis forces were fought throughout Bosnia. Croatian atrocities, Serbian
retaliation, and political opposition took a terrible toll on the region; German sources
estimated that by 1943 over 100,000 Muslims were dead and 250,000 were refugees.
In the midst of a destructive civil war, Bosnian Muslims tried a variety of solutions.
Some Muslims remained avid supporters of the Ustasa,^'' freely participating in the
massacre of the Serbs. Others, blaming the Croats for starting the conflict within Bosnia,
sought an accomodation with the Serbian Cetniks, reasoning that Muslims and Serbs
were neighbors who had to find a way to live together in peace.^' Ever greater numbers

140

enlisted in the Partisan forces, hoping for a pan-Yugoslav solution to the violence. Still
other Bosnian Muslims looked to Germany for support, hoping Germany would annex
the area, bring an end to the existing chaos, and grant the Muslims autonomy within
Bosnia.^^
Some young men who hoped Germany would support the aspirations of the Bosnian
Muslims enlisted in the Handzar (Sword) Division, a Bosnian Muslim SS division^^
formed by the German SS chief Heinrich Himmler in March 1943. A former soldier in
the division, Imam Dzemal Ibrahimovic, later reflected on the way in which ethnic
conflicts within Bosnia motivated many of the volunteers who joined the Handzars:
We had witnessed what the Cetniks had done and were determined to aid our
countrymen. This stirred us to join the division. Who else was in a position
to help us? The Germans were willing to provide us with weapons and military
leadership....We (sought to) end the Serbian attacks and to save what remained of
the Muslim settlements (in Bosnia) after the massacres at Gorazde, Foca, Zenica,
and near the Drina.^"^
Nevertheless, although many Muslims originally turned to Germany in the hope that the
German presence would end the destructive cycle of ethnic conflict in Bosnia, Germany
eventually came to support those very factions most responsible for the conflict. Within
two years of the creation of the NDH, Germany was providing support both to the
Croatian Ustasa, whose policies had provoked ethnic violence in the first place and
eventually to the Serbian Cetniks, whose focus had shifted from fighting the Axis to
countering the growth of the Partisan movement.
Ultimately, Germany's failure in Croatia stemmed from its inability or unwillingness
to control ethnic conflict in the area. Some German officials, most notably General
Glaise, continued to urge the Nazi government to put pressure upon the Ustasa to stop the

141

persecution of Serbian civilians. However, the German goverrmient eventually came to


perceive the communist-led pan-Yugoslav movement to be a greater threat than ethnic
separatism to German interests in the Balkans. In the later years of the war, German
troops tried to counter the Partisans by carrying out reprisals against civilians, such as
massacres in Dalmatian villages in 1944.^^ By the war's end in spring 1945, the Germans
had aligned with the three contending ethnic forces in the NDH - Croatian Ustasa,
Serbian Cetniks, and Muslim Handzars - all of whom found themselves retreating
together as multi-ethnic Partisan forces advanced throughout Bosnia and Croatia.
Meanwhile, Italian authorities in Croatia watched German maneuverings in the area
with distrust. Italian foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano wrote in his diary on 19 June 1941
that Italy's leader Benito Mussolini was frustrated with Germany's role in Croatia and
quoted Mussolini as saying: "It is of no importance... that the Germans recognize our
rights in Croatia on paper, when in practice they take everything and leave us only a little
heap of bones. They are dirty dogs, and I tell you that this cannot go on for long."37 On
3 November 1941, Ciano recorded that Mussolini was concerned about the Ustasa's
preference for Germany over Italy: "The Duce is indignant with Pavelic, because he
claims that the Croats are descendants of the Goths. This will have the effect of bringing
them into the orbit of the German world. Even at the present time we have clear signs of
this maneuver."^^ A month later, Ciano voiced a similar complaint: "The Croatians are
very sympathetic toward us. Pavelic also likes us, but all of them are terrorized by the
Germans, and it does not even occur to them to offer resistance to any pressure from
Berlin."^^ In many ways, Italians and Croats, traditional rivals in the Adriatic region, had

142

always distrusted each other; the rivalry between Germany and Italy in the region merely
exacerbated the tensions.
The complexities of Italian competition with both the Croats and the Germans had an
important impact on the ethnic violence in the area. In order to understand Italian
intervention in Croatia, it is necessary to understand that the Italian army in Croatia,
much more than the German army there, was a political factor, and "on the issue of
Croatia it acted as an autonomous pressure group with considerable decision-making
power.In 1941, the Axis powers divided the Independent State of Croatia into three
zones: a region annexed to Italy (Sector A), a region occupied by the Italian army, but
under Croatian administration (Sector B), and another region controlled by the German
army. Eventually, Italy further divided Sector B as Italian occupying forces moved to
take over administrative duties in some of Sector B to halt Croatian atrocities against
Serbs. That area became known as Sector C."" Adding to the confusion, Germany and
Italy never formally delineated the borders separating the different sectors. In each area,
the occupation forces pursued different policies toward the Croatian government and
toward the various ethnic groups inhabiting the NDH.
At first, Italian forces did little to discourage ethnic violence in the areas under their
control and, in fact, sought to use that violence to their advantage. Even though Italians
and Croats shared a common Catholic religious background, the Italian army command,
Supersloda (Superior Command for Slovenia-Dalmatia), favored the Serbian Orthodox
population over the Croatian majority.Italian collaboration with the Serbs came about
partly because the Serbs had no irredentist claims against Italy while Croats were Italy's

143

traditional rivals for control of the Adriatic coast and partly because Italy sought to use
the Serbian Cetniks against the Ustasa and later against the Communists.In addition,
the civil strife in Croatia worked to the advantage of Italy as some Serbs and Bosnian
Muslims entreated Italian forces in the area to restore order, giving the Italian army a
good reason to extend their occupation in Croatian territory."^"^ Although the Italians tried
to curb Ustasa excesses against Serbs in their zones of occupation, the Supersloda did
little to curb Cetnik atrocities against Croats. In fact, Italian support for the Cetniks led in
October 1942 to two of the worst massacres of Croatian and Bosnian Muslim civilians in
Sector B.'*^ Thus, Italian authorities in Croatia favored the Serbs but exacerbated the
ethnic violence between Serbs and Croats.
Italian policy toward the persecution of Croatia's Jewish population was even more
complex. In the summer of 1941, when the first concentration camps in Croatia were
formed, Italian authorities did nothing to hinder their formation. Jewish prisoner Edo
Neufeld testified that when he was in the Gospic camp in July 1941, thousands of Serbs
and some Jews were taken to their death. Although Italian forces in the area numbered at
least 7,000 while the Ustasa had barely 500 men, Italians troops did not prevent the
Ustasa from slaughtering civilians, an apathy that Neufeld found incomprehensible."^^
Local Italian officials knew of the killings; Neufeld related that high-ranking Italian
officers strolled by, watching indifferently as people were being marched to their death.'^^
Similarly, an Italian military unit stationed six kilometers from one of the Pag Island
camps failed to oppose the genocide there. Some local people asked an Italian
commander in the area to intervene, but he told them that he did not have the authority to

144

take action against the Ustasa."^^ In one area near Rijeka (Fiume), a representative of the
Italian authorities actively assisted in rounding up Jews.'^^ Thus, in the first months after
the foundation of the Independent State of Croatia, Italian forces did little to stop the
persecution of Jews in the area.
However, Italian officials, who were less anti-Semitic than many of their German
counterparts, soon reacted to the killing of civilians by taking direct action to aid the
Jewish population of Croatia. At first the efforts were unofficial, the work of individual
Italians, rather than a matter of state policy. For example, a Croatian Jew, Dan Millin,
recounted that an Italian colonel in Karlovac saved Millin's family and got them to safety
in Italy.^*^ Jossepe Papo, another Jew living in Italian-occupied Karlovac, told a similar
story. During the war, he was living in an apartment next door to an Italian officer.
When the Ustasa came to arrest Papo's family, their Italian neighbor intervened and
eventually got a military transport to take them all out of the NDH and into the zone
directly controlled by Italy.^' Papo's family was not the only one to flee Ustasa
persecution in Italian military vehicles. In one case, Italian officers smuggled some
prominent Jews out of Croatia in Italian tanks, which Italy had supposedly sent to
suppress the Partisans. When the Germans found out, they complained to Italian
authorities, who then court-martialed the officers involved in the incident for using
government transport to help Jews to escape. The leniency of the sentence - several days
of house arrest - showed that the Italian authorities were more concerned with placating
the Germans than with punishing the offenders.

Individual Italian officials also became

involved in the rescue of some Jewish children. Itzak Itai, a Jew, had been in the midst of

145

an operation to smuggle Jewish children out of Austria when the Axis invasion of
Yugoslavia trapped him in Zagreb under German control. With the aid of Italian officials
along different points of his route, he managed to transport forty Austrian and Yugoslav
children by train to the Italian zone in Croatia and then into Italy, where they would be
safe.^^
In 1942 the rescue of the remaining Jews of the NDH became more or less an official
policy for Italian authorities stationed in Croatia. By spring 1942, the German
government had begun organizing the deportation of the surviving Jews of Croatia to
Auschwitz and other concentration camps in Poland. German officials expected Italian
authorities to cooperate by handing over the Jews in their zones of occupation to the
Germans. However, the Italians refused to allow the deportation of Jews from their
zones.
Some of the reasons for the Italian position were undoubtedly political. In a secret
communication to the Italian foreign ministry, written in mid-September 1942, some
unnamed officers in the army explained their opposition to the request to hand over the
Jews:
a. It would represent a grave blow to the prestige of the Italian Army in all of
Croatia and the Balkans.
b. It would be interpreted by everyone as a violation of the guarantees that we
have given to the population of the occupied zones, guarantees that specifically
excluded every discrimination based on religion or race.
c. It would also have dangerous repercussions among the Orthodox population
who may think that they too, after the Jews, would be placed under the control of
the savage Ustasa and would therefore have grave consequences on the morale of
the masses and the pacification of the country.^"^

In addition, Italian officers had received orders in 1941 to end the Ustasa's slaughter of
Serbian civilians within the Italian-controlled zones, and these officials saw the
protection of the Jews as part of their orders to safeguard the rights of civilians.Thus,
many Italian officials within Croatia viewed the protection of Croatian Jews to be in the
best interest of Italian policy in the region.
Most historians, however, feel that the Italians' main motivation was humanitarian.^*^
Although, as we have seen, Italian officials had failed in 1941 to undertake consistent
action to save the Jewish population of Croatia, by 1942 the Italians were prepared to act
decisively. An important reason for the change was that they were much better informed
in 1942 than they had been previously about the persecution of Jews throughout occupied
Europe. Information from news broadcasts, reports of Italian soldiers returning from the
Russian firont, and accounts of the killing of Jews within the NDH had reached Italian
officials in Croatia. For example, Roberto Ducci, the head of the Italian foreign
ministry's Croatian office, affirmed that he had received reports about atrocities against
the Jews.^^ General Giuseppe Pieche, a high-ranked Italian military official in northern
Croatia, similarly reported in a memorandum dated 4 November 1942 that Croatian Jews
from the German occupied zone deported to the east had been "eliminated" through the
use of "poison gas."^^ Ducci also claimed that Italians disliked the immorality of the
Ustasa. Having witnessed massacres of Serbian civilians in Bosnia, Italians in Croatia
were unwilling to hand over the region's Jews for the same treatment.^ Thus, a
significant number of Italian officials wanted to block the deportation of Jews from lands
under their control.

147

The rescue of the remaining Jews of Croatia involved even the top levels of the Italian
command in Croatia, including generals Mario Roatta, Giuseppe Pieche, and Vittorio
Castellani, and also included some highly placed officials in Rome, such as Luca Pietro
Marchi, Roberto Ducci, and the Marquis D'Ajeta.^ The position of the central
govenmient in Rome was less clear. In August 1942, when Mussolini got a
memorandum about the German request to transfer Croatian Jews to Germany, he wrote
the words "nulla osta" (nothing against this) across it. Since no specific instructions
followed on how to implement the decision, some Italian officials considered their
leader's response to be intentionally vague, neither an order to comply with the German
request nor a directive not to do so.^' In fact, Ducci would later claim that he had the
backing of both Mussolini and Ciano in his measures to save the Jews of Croatia.''^
Historian Daniel Carpi disagreed, writing of Mussolini's "nulla osta": "the meaning of
these words was that the Jewish refugees should be handed over to the Germans, even
though it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that this meant their death."^^ The
highest levels of the Catholic Church at the Vatican, including the Pope, were similarly
evasive, despite urgent appeals from Italian authorities in Croatia asking the Catholic
Church to assist Jews threatened with deportation.^"^ Therefore, it was mostly the lower
and mid-level Italian officials, rather than the top leadership of Italy or of the Catholic
Church that took on the responsibility to aid Croatia's Jews.
The number of Jews in the Italian zone is difficult to determine. Originally, less than
1,000 Jews lived in the territories of Croatia that came under Italian occupation,^^ while
the majority of Croatia's prewar Jewish population lived in cities such as Zagreb and

148

Sarajevo, located in areas annexed by Germany. However, by 1943, an influx of Jewish


refiigees fleeing Ustasa persecution in the NDH increased the Jewish population of the
Italian zones to between 2,000 and 5,000. Most likely, the higher figure is more
accurate, as the Italians gave lower numbers to downplay to the Germans the Jewish
population in Italian lands and as Jews continued to be rounded up and added to the
holding camps until September 1943, rendering the earlier figures inaccurate.^ In order
to assist such vast numbers of people, the Italians would have to mount a large-scale
rescue operation.
The main tactic employed by Italian authorities was procrastination, finding "by
agreement with the command in Croatia, every possible argument and every possible
delay to avoid this [the deportation of Jews to Poland] ever happening."^ The Italians
stalled, claiming that they needed time to verify the nationality of the Jews in their zones.
Since only Croatian Jews were to be deported to the camps, not Italian Jews over whom
the Germans had no jurisdiction, Italian officials needed to determine which Jews were
originally from the areas directly annexed by Italy and thus classified as Italian citizens
ineligible for deportation.^ During the first week of November 1942, Italian troops
rounded up Jews in Italian-controlled parts of Croatia and interned them, ostensibly while
officials investigated which Jews were Italian citizens and which were refugees from
other areas. Many were held on the island of Rab (called Arbe by the Italians), in a camp
that Ducci claimed was established on an Adriatic island in order "to shelter them from a
surprise attack. It was easy enough for anyone, let's suppose the Germans, to get to a
camp that was on the coast. It was harder to cross over even a strait to go to the island."

149

Italians did their best to reassure the Jews, who were naturally terrified by these
developments, that the move to the camp on Rab was for their protection. Soon the
internees found that they were free to practice their religion in the camps and even to
continue their education, which included lessons in the Italian language. Thus, Jews
continued to live in the western regions of Croatia despite the precariousness of their
situation.
In the meantime, negotiations continued about the fate of the Jews in the Rab camp of
Italian-occupied Croatia. The Germans were becoming increasingly suspicious of Italian
motives. As early as 20 October 1942, Kasche reported from Zagreb to his superiors in
Germany: "I keep getting the impression that the Italian attitude is intended to drag the
matter."^' Developments over the next several months merely confirmed his suspicions.
Within Italian ruling circles in Rome, the topic of the Jews in Croatia was important as
well. In late November or early December, General Roatta met with Mussolini, and the
latter agreed that Croatian Jews not be deported from the camps and that the refugees be
allowed to renounce their Croatian citizenship, paving the way them to move to Italy in
the future.'^ Throughout the first half of 1943, the standoff continued with the Germans
insisting that the Jews be turned over to them and the Italians refusing to comply with the
demands.
By summer, the fate of the Croatian Jews became even more uncertain. With the
American occupation of much of Italy and the fall of the Italian fascist regime in late July
1943, it was obvious that the Italian army was no longer part of the Axis and would have
to turn over its holdings in Croatia to the Germans. Even in the midst of a national crisis,

some Italian leaders worried about what would happen to Croatian Jews when the Italian
army withdrew from its eastern Adriatic territories. On 19 August 1943, Augusto Rosso
of the Italian foreign ministry telegraphed the Commander of the Second Army: "We
must avoid leaving behind the Croatian Jews or handing them over to the mercy of

9973
strangers, deprived of all protection, or exposed to the danger of repressions...." In the
final days of the occupation, Italian officials continued to delay turning the camp at Rab
over to the Germans in order to allow Partisan forces the opportimity to move into the
area. When in September 1943 the Italian troops could no longer postpone their retreat,
they encouraged the Jews to flee to Partisan-controlled territory. Approximately two
hundred Jews, mostly the old and infirm, chose to remain at Rab; all were captured by the
Germans and sent to Auschwitz.'^ Several thousand others made it to the Partisan lines
where most joined the Partisan army, some serving in a special Jewish unit, the Fifth
Battalion, others in ethnically mixed units. Jews too young to fight were protected by the
civilian population in the liberated areas.^^ The majority survived the war.
Even though German and Italian policies toward the various ethnic groups in the
Independent State of Croatia varied greatly, in the long run, both countries contributed to
the growth of Yugoslavism in the NDH. The Germans' harsh measures toward the Jews
and the Nazis' inability to curb Ustasa atrocities against the Serbs facilitated the growth
of the Partisan movement, while Italian efforts to protect Serbs and Jews achieved the
same end. Furthermore, the defeat of both Italy and Germany in World War II eventually
discredited all groups that collaborated with them ~ the Croatian Ustasa, the Serbian

151

Cetniks, and the Bosnian Muslim Handzars ~ leaving the multi-ethnic Partisan forces as
the true victors in the conflict.

152

Notes to Chapter 6
' Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and
Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 239.
^ Supreme Command of the (German) Armed Forces, Top Secret Communication on
Yugoslavia, 3 April 1941, in Office of the United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution
of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol.3 (Washington D.C.: United
States Government Printing Office, 1946), 838-839.
^ Walther Hewl, memorandum, 28 November 1941, in Documents on German Foreign
Policy, 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. 13 (Washington D.C.: United States Government
Printing Office, 1964), 866 (hereafter cited as Ger. For. Policy).
^ Joachim von Ribbentrop, telegram to the German Legation in Croatia, 21 August 1941,
in Ger. For. Policy, ser. D, vol. 13, 342.
^ Paul Otto Gustav Schmidt, memorandum, 30 November 1941, in Ger. For. Policy, ser.
D., vol. 13,886.
Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, Deutscher Bevollmdchtiger General in Kroatien und
Zeuge des Untergangs des Tausendjdhrigen Reiches [German Deputy General in
Croatia and Witness of the Fall of the "Thousand Year Empire"], vol.3 of Ein General
im Zwielicht: Die Erinnerungen Edmund Glaises von Horstenau [A general in twilight;
The memoirs of Edmund Glaise von Horstenau], edited by Peter Broucek (Vienna:
Bohlau Verlag, 1988), 97.
^ Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, report of 4 November 1941 to the German high
command, in Records of German Field Commands: Rear Areas, Occupied Territories,
and Others (microfilm. United States National Archives) (hereafter cited as Ger. Field
Commands).
o

Vladko Macek, In the Struggle for Freedom, translated by Elizabeth and Stjepan Gazi
(University Park: Peimsylvania State University Press, 1957), 240.
^ Hewl, 866.
The Croatian categorization, approved by the German government, is evident in such
laws as the "Zakonsku odredbu o drzavljanstvu" (Constitutional ordinance on
citizenship), 30 April 1941, and Occup. ofYug., and Ante Pavelic, "Zakonsku odredbu o
zastiti arijske krvi i casti Hrvatskog naroda" (Legal ordinance on the defense of Aryan
blood and the honor of the Croatian people), dated 30 April 1941, in Zlocini Nezavisne
Drzave Hrvatske, 1941.-1945 (Atrocities in the Independent State of Croatia). Vol. 1 of
Zlocini na jugoslovenskim prostorima u prvom i drugom svetskom ratu: Zbornik

153

dokumenata (Atrocities on Yugoslav territories in the First and Second World Wars: A
collection of documents), compiled by Slavko Vukcevic (Beograd: Voinoistoriiski
Institut, 1993), 25.
In a 1941 report to the German high command, he wrote disparagingly of the "Jewrelated" Foreign Minister Zanic. Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, Report of 4 November
1941 to the German high command, in Ger. Field Commands.
Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, report of 13 September 1941 to the German high
command, in Ger. Field Commands.
Srdja Trifkovic, Ustasa: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929-1945
(London: The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, 1998), 139.
The term 'Poglavnik,' referring to Ustasa leader Ante Pavelic, is the Croatian word for
'leader' and thus the equivalent of Duce in Italian or Fiihrer in German.
Trifkovic, 139.
Trifkovic, 145.
Glaise, report of 13 September 1941, in Ger. Field Commands..
Walther Haeffner, report to Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, 14 June 1941, qtd. in Vasa
Kazimirovic, NDHusvetlu nemackih dokumenata i dnevnika Gleza fan Horstenau 19411944 (The NDH in light of German documents and the diary of Glaise von Horstenau,
1941-1944) (Belgrade: Nova Knjiga/Narodna Knjiga, 1987), 112-113.
Heribert von Troll-Obergell, telegram to the German Foreign Ministry, 10 July 1941,
in Ger. For. Policy, ser. D, vol. 13, 113.
He mentioned that German officials had contacted Marshal Slavko Kvatemik and
foreign minister Lorkovic and that General Glaise had personally expressed to Pavelic
"his grave concern over the excesses of the Ustase." Ibid., 113-114.
Heribert von Troll-Obergell, telegram to the German Foreign Ministry, 10 August
1941, in Ger. For. Policy, ser. D, vol. 13, 301-302.
Erich Albrecht, letter to the German legations in Croatia and Hungary, 15 August
1941, in Ger. For. Policy, ser. D, vol. 13, 317-318.
O'X

Untitled 88- page report on the military in Croatia, November 1942, 20-22, in the files
of Karl Christian von Loesch (Archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution,
and Peace, Stanford University) (hereafter cited as Loesch files).

154

Glaise, Deutscher Bevollmdchtiger General in Kroatien, 166.


Ibid., 167.
^^Ibid., 168.
Enver Redzic, Muslimansko autonomastvo i 13. SS Divizija: Autonomija Bosne i
Hercegovine i Hitlerov Treci Rqjh (Muslim autonomy and the 13"' SS Division: The
autonomy of Bosnia and Hercegovina and Hitler's Third Reich) (Sarajevo: Svjetlost,
1987), 14.
George Lepre, Himmler's Bosnian Division: The Waffen-SS Handschar Division,
1943-1945 (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1997), 15.
^^Ibid., 16.
Some supporters of the NDH, such as a writer in the German-language newspaper in
Zagreb, used the specter of Cetnik atrocities to encourage Muslims to remain part of the
Croatian nation. "50.000 gradanskih zivota" (50,000 citizen's lives), Spremnost
(Preparation) (Zagreb), 17 October 1944, in Loesch files.
"Das Muselmanische Problem in Kroatien: Bosnien und die Herzegowina" (The
Muslim Problem in Croatia: Bosnia and Hercegovina), 22 May 1943, report in Loesch
files, 12.
In particular, many upper class Bosnian Muslims looked back nostalgically to the
autonomy they had had under German administration in the days of the AustroHungarian Empire.
Schutzstaffel (SS) meant "Protection Squad" in German. Heinrich Himmler built the
SS into a large organization that served many functions. The Bosnian Handzar division
belonged to the Waffen-SS, a branch of the SS that served as military units in the German
army.
Lepre, 316-317, quoted from the author's telephone interviews with Imam Dzemal
Ibrahimovic on 11 December 1995 and in June 1996. (The term 'imam' designates him
as a Muslim religious official.)
As late as January 1945, the Germans were still getting assurances from some Croats
that they would support the Ustasa and Pavelic to the end. See for example, "Riickblick
auf das vergangene Jahr 1944" (Retrospective of the past year 1944), 31 December 1944,
report in Loesch files, 1.

155

Dusan Nedeljkovic, "Report No. 5 of the Jugoslav State Commission for Ascertaining
the Crimes of the Occupiers and their Accomplices," undated, supplement A, in Office of
the United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy
and Aggression (Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946),
supplement A, 1143-1144.
Galeazzo Ciano, The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943, edited by Hugh Gibson (Garden City:
Garden City Publishing, 1947), 364-365.
Ibid., 401.
Ibid., 419.
Trifkovic, 152.
Daniel Carpi, "The Rescue of Jews in the Italian Zone of Occupied Croatia," in Rescue
Attempts during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International
Historical Conference, edited by Yisrael Gutman and Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem: Yad
Vashem, 1977), 469.
In addition, Italian authorities, although Catholic themselves, disapproved of the
Usasa's forced conversions of Bosnian Serbs to the Catholic faith. Italian command,
report from the Bosnian frontier, 20 July 1941, in Federation of Jewish Communities in
Yugoslavia, Records Relating to the Occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II,
1940-1947: Orders, Announcements, Reports, Lists, Memoranda (Microfiche, USHMM
Archives).
Tomasevich, 253.
Matteo J. Milazzo, The Chetnik Movement and the Yugoslav Resistance (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 49.
Tomasevich, 259.
Zvi Loker, "The Testimony of Dr. Edo Neufeld; The Italians and the Jews of Croatia,"
Holocaust and Genocide Studies 1, no. 1 (spring 1993): 73.
Ibid., 73.
Ibid., 70.
Ibid., 71.
Dan Millin, interview, in Nicola Caracciolo, Uncertain Refuge: Italy and the Jews

156

during the Holocaust, translated and edited by Florette Rechnitz Koffler and Richard
Koffler (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995),140-141 (hereafter cited as Uncertain
Refuge).
Jossepe Papo, interview, in Uncertain Refuge, 34-35.
Jacques Sabille, "Attitude of the Italians to the Persecuted Jev^s in Croatia," in Jews
under the Italian Occupation, edited by Leon Poliakov and Jacques Sabille (New York:
Howard Fertig, 1983), 133.
Itzak Itai (Josef Ithai), interview, in Uncertain Refuge, 23-24.
Secret communication by unnamed officers of the Italian Army to the Italian Foreign
Ministry, undated, but around 11 September 1942, in Rescue Attempts during the
Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International Historical Conference,
edited by Yisrael Gutman and Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1977), 514-515
(hereafter cited as Rescue Attempts).
Carpi, 505.
See the works by Carpi, Sabille, Caracciolo, and Zuccotti.
Roberto Ducci, in Uncertain Refuge, 59.
Giuseppe Pieche, Memorandum to the Italian Foreign Ministry, 4 November 1942, m
Rescue Attempts, 520.
Ducci, 59.
Carpi, 476.
Ducci, 59.
" Ibid., 63-64.
Carpi 475.
Susan Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 125.
Raul Hilberg estimates that nearly 500 Jews originally lived in Croatian coastal areas
that came under Italian occupation. See Raul Hilberg The Destruction of the European
Jews (New York; Harper Colophon Books, 1961), 456. Zuccotti, on the other hand, puts

157

the figure at 800-900 living in Croatian territories that the Italians either occupied or
annexed. See Zuccotti, 115.
Because of the influx of Jewish refugees into the Italian zone, authorities were
uncertain how many Jews were in the area by 1943. German General Guenther Wagner
believed that there were 2000 Jews in the Italian zone. See Guenther Wagner, telegram to
the general representative of the Supreme Italian Command in Vichy, 10 April 1943, in
Leon Poliakov and Jacques Sabille, Jews under the Italian Occupation (New York:
Howard Fertig, 1983), 180. Daniel Carpi, on the other hand, puts the figure at 4,0005,000, a figure which includes the Jews in Sector B. See Carpi, 473.
Carpi, 497.
Ducci, 59.
^^Ducci, 61-62.
Ducci, 62.
Siegfried Kasche, telegram, 20 October 1942, in Leon Poliakov and Jacques Sabille,
Jews under the Italian Occupation (New York: Howard Fertig, 1983), 172.
Carpi, 492.
Sabille, 149.
Itahan leader Benito Mussolini complained that "tens of thousands" of Italian soldiers
did not return to Italy from the Balkans, instead merging with the local population or
joining Partisan units. Benito Mussolini, Mussolini's Memoirs, 1942-1943, translated by
Frances Lobb (London: George Wiedenfeld andNicolson, 1949), 196.
Carpi, 502.
Ibid., 502-503.

158

Chapter 7 - The Expansion of Yugoslavism and the Partisan Movement in the


Camps
As we have seen, ethnic persecution in Croatia provoked a popular reaction against all
variants of national particularism, from that expressed by the Ustasa and sponsored by
Germany and Italy to the more moderate views championed by the Croatian Peasant
Party and the Catholic Church. The discrediting of narrow versions of nationalism led to
the groAVth of multi-ethnic cooperation, Yugoslavism. This process took place
throughout Croatia and Bosnia, particularly among the prisoners in the camps. A similar
development is evident within the Partisan movement, which was communist-led but
expanded under the exigencies of war into a broad-based, popular movement with an allYugoslav orientation. It is not surprising then that the Partisan movement spread
throughout Jasenovac, the Partisans' Yugoslavism reflecting the prisoners' experience
with multi-ethnic cooperation.
The growth in popularity of the Partisan movement within the concentration camps
paralleled the movement's increasing strength within Croatian society as a whole. Led
by Tito, bom Josip Broz, who had been a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia
(CPY) since the Russian Revolution and Secretary General of the CPY since 1937, the
Partisan movement opposed both the Axis conquest and the restoration of the royalist,
Serbian-dominated government. This latter policy as well as the Partisans' pan-Yugoslav
orientation put them into conflict with the Serbian Cetnik resistance. Although the term
'Cetniks' had originally been used in the Independent State of Croatia (NHD) to describe
disorganized paramilitary bands of Serbs seeing revenge for the Ustasa atrocities, the
Cetnik organization headed by Draza Mihailovic had grown into an organized resistance

159

movement that sought to reinstate the prewar Yugoslav Kingdom under the leadership of
the Karadordevic dynasty. In 1941 and 1942, the Allies and the Yugoslav governmentin-exile considered the Cetniks to be the major force opposing Axis rule in Yugoslavia.
However, during the course of the war, particularly in the NDH, the narrow version of
nationalism represented by the Cetniks as well as the Ustasa was increasingly discredited,
paving the way for the Partisans' rise to power.
As the Partisan movement spread in the NDH, it became a powerful force within the
camp system as well, especially as many leftist political dissidents were imprisoned in
Jasenovac. One example is Cedomil Huber. Although Huber had not been a member of
the Communist Party when the war broke out, when Ustasa authorities arrested him
merely for making a joke about government leader Ante Pavelic, Huber became so
alienated from the regime that he joined the communists soon after his release from
prison.

His party affiliation led to his second arrest, and this time Croatian authorities

sentenced him to imprisonment in Stara Gradiska,' along with other Croatian and
Bosnian Muslim communists.
Not only Croatian and Muslim prisoners were arrested as political dissidents; many
Serbs were imprisoned because of their political activities as well as because of their

ethnic affiliation. For example, Mara Vejnovic, a Serbian teenager from a Partisan
family in Croatia, despite her youth, was an active participant in anti-Ustasa activities and
acted as a liaison between the Partisans in the hills nearby and her town's Jewish
community that the Partisans were trying to save and recruit. After her arrest, she too
was incarcerated in Stara Gradiska. Often, especially after the Battle of Kozara in mid-

160

1942, Ustasa forces depopulated entire villages in the region, deporting the Serbian
inhabitants to the camps because of their pro-Partisan orientation. For example, the
villagers of Veliko Nabrde, in which both Sava Petrovic and Ljiljana Ivanisevic were
living, were sent to Jasenovac because of their alleged support for the Partisans. The
revolutionary movement apparently had a strong impact even on the younger ones
arriving in the camp since, according to Vejnovic, many of the children in Stara Gradiska
would sing Partisan songs ostensibly in their sleep."* As prisoners arrested for political
reasons were usually assigned to Stara Gradiska, this camp in particular soon became a
hotbed of leftist political activity.
Thus, although the Ustasa government had arrested the majority of Serbian, Jewish,
and Roma prisoners because of their ethnicity, many who were classified as "ethnic
prisoners" had also been arrested for political reasons. This was true of the Jews as well
as the Serbs. Jasa Romano, in his study of the participation of Yugoslav Jews in World
War II, emphasized that Jews were active in the pre-war Communist Party (CPY) as well
as in the formative stages of the Partisan movement,^ citing as evidence the many Jews
fighting in the Partisan forces in 1941

Many other Jewish communists, however, never

made it to Partisan-held areas; as city dwellers, they were often unable to join the
revolutionary forces before being caught in the Ustasa mass arrests of Bosnian and
Croatian Jews.^ Thus, some Jewish communists were arrested as ethnic prisoners before
they had a chance to be arrested as political prisoners.
In fact, a pro-communist orientation was common among the Jews even before their
deportation to concentration camps. In his monograph Voices of Yugoslav Jewry, Paul

161

Benjamin Gordiejew indicated that the pre-war Communist Party infiltrated Jewish youth
groups, including Zionist organizations, and thus attracted many young people to the
communist cause.^ Bozo Svarc described this situation in his memoirs, recalling that he
went from membership in the Hasomer organization in high school to the communist
SKOJ^ youth movement at the university. He claimed this development was common
among Jewish young people reeling from the impact of international events, particularly
the Spanish Civil War and Adolf Hitler's aggressive policies in Germany.' Similarly,
other Jewish survivors, whose stories we have discussed, were affiliated with the
Partisans even before their incarceration in Jasenovac. For example, Croatian police
arrested Eduard Sajer, Moric Montiljo and Josef Konforti while they were attempting to
escape to the Partisans. Thus, a large number of the prisoners in Jasenovac, not only
those arrested as political prisoners, were communists or communist sympathizers even
before their arrival at the camps.
Prisoners with a leftist background had also been exposed to the concept of
Yugoslavism, an ideological framework the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had
espoused for nearly a decade preceding the war.'' According to Gordiejew, this
Yugoslav orientation is precisely what drew many Jewish youth to the movement. It was
"a potential solution to any identity crisis,"'^ as, unlike other ethnic designations in the
region, the term 'Yugoslav' was based on geographical residence rather than religious
background. Before the Second World War, the CPY had fostered the growth of a
Yugoslav outlook within its ranks by forming multi-ethnic committees and youth groups.
For example, Hasan Dolamic, a Bosnian Muslim communist, found himself associating

1 'X
with Serbs, at least one Croat, other Muslims, and so forth. The Communist Party of
Croatia in the town or Karlovac was similarly mixed, a list of members and candidates
for membership showing 150 Croats, 29 Serbs, and others.''' In addition, the CPY rotated
its workers among different regions, where party members came into contact with likeminded individuals from other parts of Yugoslavia. The increasing numbers of
communists and communist-sympathizers arriving in Jasenovac thus brought not only
their political activism but also a Yugoslav orientation, a sense of a common identity that
was further reinforced by the prisoners' experiences within the camps.
Within the Jasenovac system, at the very heart of Ustasa repression, the Communist
Party spread, bringing prisoners of all ethnic groups together under its aegis. Dolamic
estimated that, during his stay in Stara Gradiska, there were 370 members of the CPY in
that camp alone, and, in fact, Stara Gradiska became the center of organized party
activity in the Jasenovac system.'^ The communist-inspired Partisan movement in Stara
Gradiska was more organized than that in any other part of Jasenovac for two reasons.
First, as previously mentioned, a large percentage of those interned in Stara Gradiska
were leftist political prisoners as the Ustasa assigned most Croatians and Bosnian
Muslims there, where they could supposedly be given better treatment than that accorded
to Serbs, Jews, and Roma, who had been arrested because of their ethnic affiliation.'^ In
addition, in Stara Gradiska, the prisoners lived in close proximity to one another, living
together in barracks, while in other parts of Jasenovac, the prisoners were dispersed
among various worksites, making it relatively more difficult for them to organize.

1n

Stara Gradiska, the Partisan movement spread quickly. It became so powerful that.

In

163

according to Vejnovic, the logornica, or female prisoner in charge of the other women,
was a communist, who used her limited authority to assign many of the young communist
women to one room of the barracks so that they could continue their SKOJ activities
without interference from Ustasa agents.

Thus, the influence of the Partisans extended

even into the Ustasa-run camps.


Communist irmiates organized groups within the camps called 'party organizations,'
which identified themselves with the Partisans. Party organizations spread rapidly
throughout the camps, continuing in the camps the communist emphasis on multi-ethnic
cooperation. Vejnovic, Sajer, and Mihajlo Marie, who themselves were of different
ethnic/religious backgrounds, testified as to the diversity of the party organizations in the
various sub-camps of Jasenovac. Vejnovic noted that in her section of Stara Gradiska,
designated as a place exclusively for Croats, the party organizations managed to smuggle
in many Serbian women and even some Jews by passing them off as Croats, an act
which, in the words of party worker Sofija Jovic Sosa, "saved them from certain death."20
^
2 1
Sajer,
a Jew, found himself collaborating on party activities with a Bosnian Muslim,
while Marie was assigned to a mixed 'economic cooperative,' a food-sharing group that
included two Serbs and a Jew.

Even the twenty or twenty-one prisoners executed in

autumn 1944 for organizing Communist activities and planning a mass escape comprised
9"^
an ethnically diverse group, including Jews, Muslims, and Serbs. Hence, the Partisans
encouraged the formation of different economic and political groups within the camps, all
of them organized on multi-ethnic lines.

The primary goal of the party groups in the camps was to ensure the survival of their
members and of as many other prisoners as possible. The acquisition of food was, thus,
of primary importance. The basic unit of the Partisan organization in the camps became
food-sharing cooperatives, which joined together communists and non-party members^"^ Serbs and Jews, Croats and Muslims - in a common quest for siu-vival. Party work
consisted of dividing food packages among the members of an economic cooperative and
procuring^^ and then sharing any packages arriving for those who were dead or in another
camp.^^ Sometimes the Partisans assigned their members additional tasks. For example,
the Partisan organization in Stara Gradiska got Huber assigned to work in the kitchen so
he could "assist in party tasks,"^^ presumably providing extra food to prisoners in special
need. Party workers sometimes took great risks in smuggling food to those in
punishment cells, as did Ivan Sostaric, who hid food in his pockets and brought it to
prisoners in Stara Gradiska's notorious tower, a punishment cell in which prisoners
frequently died from starvation. By working together in such tasks with prisoners from
other ethnic groups, both party and non-party members alike developed, in the words of
one woman Partisan, a sense of "communist unity and solidarity."
In the struggle to obtain food, the prisoners sometimes received assistance from
Partisans outside the camp. Branko Davila, an early member of the Communist, anti
fascist resistance in Croatia, noted that the Ustasa allowed the party organizations in the
camps to maintain some contact with Partisans in the Jastrebarsko area so that the
Partisans could supply food for their imprisoned colleagues.^" According to Davila's
account, the prisoners included "Jews and other anti-fascists," while the Partisan women

in charge of supplying food to their imprisoned colleagues had similarly varied ethnic
backgrounds.^' This continuation of contact between free and imprisoned Partisans,
while saving the Ustasa money on food supplies, served to reinforce the Partisan
movement in the camp and to bring together people of various ethnic groups.
In addition to the primary issue of food acquisition and distribution, party
organizations took on other roles. Health care was an important concern. Marie, for
example, smuggled food and medicine into the prisoners' hospital.^^ Communist leaders
in the camp directed Sajer to steal medicine from the Ustasa hospital, a task that he was
able to perform through the assistance of some leftist doctors there. He then transported
this medicine to the women's camp and to other prisoners suffering from typhus.

Later,

the Partisans arranged for medical care for Sajer himself when he developed serious
trouble with his foot.^"^ The organization also directed some young women in SKOJ to
work with the children in the camp. Vejnovic later described her helplessness as she
watched Ustasa guards and their civilian assistants kill many Serbian children taken in
the Battle for Kozara, but she told herself that it was her Partisan duty to become an
eyewitness to their murder.

All these activities involved the collaboration of people

from different backgrounds.


The Communist Party in Jasenovac also had specifically political goals, such as
expanding its organization and cleansing it of "various Cetnik and other anti-party
types."^^ Ultimately, the party hoped to acquire weapons so that its members could fight
when the opportunity presented itself^' Although the acquisition of arms was a largely
unrealized goal, one Jewish communist, Zlatko Vajler, revealed that weapons were

166

occasionally found in the camp. He reported that in the summer of 1943, the Ustasa
began transferring all the Jews in Stara Gradiska to Jasenovac-proper and, conversely, all
the Croats in other parts of Jasenovac to Stara Gradiska. The prisoners quickly surmised
that the Jews were scheduled for execution, so a Croatian Partisan friend gave Vajler
-50

some pistols with which to defend himself.

By this point, the multi-ethnic Partisan

movement had become an important force within many of the concentration camps in the
NDH.^^
In order to increase morale and the chance for survival. Partisan organizations in the
camps sought to maintain contact with Partisans on the outside, particularly with those in
nearby regions of Croatia and Bosnia. One goal was to acquire information on political
and military developments outside the narrow world of Jasenovac, information which
former irmiate Antun Herman described as "true spiritual food""* that increased
prisoners' morale. Getting information was extremely difficult. Due to the camps'
physical separation from the world outside Jasenovac and strict Ustasa controls, regular
contact with the Partisan movement outside Jasenovac was impossible."" Nonetheless,
prisoners found creative and sometimes quite risky ways to get news and to maintain
some form of contact with the Partisan forces in Croatia and Bosnia. For example, when
prisoners arrived at the camps, their new companions questioned them about
developments in the outside world.'^^ Contact with families outside the camps, which
camp officials encouraged so prisoners could receive food packages, was another way
prisoners could gain news of the war. For example, when iimiates got postcards
containing the words "Aunt Alitreja is very ill," that phrase was a coded message that

Italy was about to withdraw from the Axis."^^ The Ustasa guards undoubtedly worried
that news and messages could be transmitted in this way, so they sometimes sought to
curtail prisoners' written communication with their families.'*'^ Ultimately, however, the
camp directors' need for a supplemental food source soon led to the resumption of
contacts and thus to the flow of information to the prisoners.
Newspapers and radio broadcasts were purveyors of more detailed information.
Sometimes prisoners came across Ustasa newspapers in camp offices and in restrooms
used by camp guards."^^ Although news stories in those papers had a pronounced rightwing slant, discerning prisoners could read between the lines and try to extrapolate the
truth. More encouraging information came from copies of the newspaper of the
Communist Party of Croatia'*^ and other Partisan publications'*^ that were smuggled into
the camp as well as from occasional pamphlets dropped by Allied aircraft.

Xo

A few

prisoners were lucky enough to have access to radio broadcasts. For example, Svarc was
sometimes assigned to work in an Ustasa home in which some Croatian women caring
for the family's children were secret Partisans. They allowed him to listen to Radio
London and gave him messages to take back to the women of Stara Gradiska."*^ In
addition, some prisoners in Kozara repaired a broken Ustasa radio set, which they used at
great risk to themselves.^ Thus, with effort, ingenuity, luck, and cooperation, prisoners
kept informed of developments in the outside world.
Prisoners also sought to maintain more or less direct contact with Partisans outside the
camp. One doctor, a free man who worked in the camp hospital, served as a liaison
between the prisoners and the Partisan movement, transmitting messages into and out of

168

Jasenovac until the Ustasa executed him for his activities.^' Prisoners also came into
contact with non-prisoners, some of whom had connections to the Partisans, when the
Ustasa sent work parties from Jasenovac outside the camp system to work 'on the
economy.' For instance, camp inmates sent as agricultural laborers to other parts of
Croatia established contact with the Partisans through a veterinarian with whom they
worked. The veterinarian recounted recent news of Partisan advances in the NDH,
information that the prisoners took back to Jasenovac with them at the end of their
assignment.^^ In addition, electrical workers often returned from assigrmients outside the
camps with news that they passed along to party committees, who then transmitted the
information to the other prisoners within Jasenovac.^^ Although Partisan units in the area
were rarely in a position to assist the prisoners with anything other than information, the
news they provided spread rapidly, raising hopes for a Partisan victory among those who
struggled for survival in Jasenovac.
News spread throughout the camps primarily through the efforts of ethnically diverse
party organizations. Marie, a Serbian Communist, and Sajer, a Jewish one, worked
together to disseminate information within the camp.^"* The women's part of Stara
Gradiska and the men's camps also shared news of military developments in the NDH
with each other. A woman communist, Nikolina Delic-Sitin, injured her leg slightly.
However, party leaders directed her to pretend that the injury was more serious so that
she could go the Ustasa hospital and get news of the outside world from some of the male
prisoners.Dolamic, a communist from Bosnia, also indicated that male and female
prisoners remained in direct contact with each other through kitchens and points in which

the two genders came into contact.^^ Thus, men and women, Communists and non-party
members, people of all ethnic groups united in a quest for news, which they valued
almost as much as food and medicine.
The growth of the Partisan movement, then, contributed to the trend toward ethnic
solidarity within the concentration camps. Many prisoners had been involved in leftist
movements prior to their arrival in the camps and thus shared the pre-war experience of
having worked together with people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. This
Yugoslav orientation was further reinforced by the common struggle for survival in the
camps, organized through Party groups and committees. We will see in the next chapter
that the Partisan movement would ultimately help serve as a bridge between the camps
and the world outside of Jasenovac, cormecting prisoners to the population of Bosnia and
Croatia while providing those inside and outside the camps with hope for a future based
on the cooperation of all Yugoslav ethnic groups.

170

Notes to Chapter 7
' Cedomil Huber, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,7-8.
^ She described herself as a Serb. Camp officials, however, sometimes categorized her as
Croatian because of her Uniate Christian background. This confusion was justifiable as
Uniates incorporated elements of the Orthodox faith with an acceptance of the authority
of the Catholic Pope, thus bridging the religious separation between Serbs and Croats.
^ Mara Vejnovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 17 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives), tape 1, 6-9.
Ibid., tape 1,19. Vejnovic recalled them singing such words as: "Ide Mladen vodi
partizane, razvio ih na sve cetiri strane."
C

Jasa Romano, Jevreji Jugoslavije 1941-1945. Zrtve genocida i ucesnici NOR (Jews of
Yugoslavia 1941-1945; Victims of genocide and participants in the National Liberation
War) (Beograd: Jevrejski istorijski muzej, 1980), 305.
Mosa Pijade, a member of the Partisan leadership, was the most famous Jewish
organizer of the revolt.
^ Romano, 306.
n

Paul Benjamin Gordiejew, Voices of Yugoslav Jewry (Albany: State University of New
York Press, 1999), 60.
SKOJ was an abbreviation for Savez komunisticke omladine Jugoslavije (Union of
Communist Youth of Yugoslavia).
Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives), tape
1,3.
The Communist Party identified itself with internationalism, particularly in the 1930s
when its right wing rivals became identified with national separatism (for example, the
Ustasa movement for a separate Croatia).
1
1

Gordiejew, 61.

Hasan Dolamic, "Upitnik za bivse zatvorenike logora Stara Gradiska, 1941-1945"


(Questioning of former prisoners of the Stara Gradiska camp, 1941-1945), 23 November

171

1977, original document from Jasenovac, accessed July 2001 (Linthicum, MD:
Processing Center of the USHMM).
No one was listed as Jewish even though several of the names seem to be of Jewish
origin. "Clanovi i candidate KPH u Karlovcu do travanjskih dana 1941" (Members and
candidates of the CPY in Karlovac to April 1941), in Veceslav Holjevac, Zapisi iz rodnog
grada (Notes from the City of My Birth) (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod MH, 1972), 237-240.
A list of the members of the Communist youth organization, SKOJ, in the same city
shows a similar mix: 58 Croats and 11 Serbs. "Skojevska organizacija u Karlovcu"
(SKOJ organization in Karlovac), in Holjevac, 241-242.
Meho Bajraktarevic, summary of the testimonies of three Muslim former-inmates of
Jasenovac, original document from Jasenovac (# 3/86), accessed July 2001 (Linthicum,
Md.: Processing Center of the USHMM).
In fact, the food was relatively more plentiful and the accommodations more solidly
built than in other parts of Jasenovac.
Huber, tape 3, 5.
Vejnovic, tape 2, 7.
Ibid., tape 2, 9.
Sofija Jovic Sosa, report on the situation in Stara Gradiska, dated February 1943, in
Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac, 1941-1945. Dokumenta (The Jasenovac concentration
camp, 1941-1945), compiled by Antun Miletic (Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986), vol. 2,
596 (hereafter cited as Kon. log. Jasenovac).
Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28 June 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 2, 6.
Mihajlo Marie, interview by Jasa Almuli, 9 July 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 1, 28.
Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording, tape 2, 7-8, and Ado Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997.
Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording, tape 2, 5 (Washington D.C.: U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997).
Sajer, tape 1,16.

172

The party organizations got these food packages by assuming the identity of the
missing prisoners.
Sosa, 597.
Huber, tape 2,12.
Ivan Dukic, testimony given on 11 July 1977 to the Committee for the Arrangement of
the Memorial Museum "Kula" in the Former Ustasa Camp Stara Gradiska, original
document from Jasenovac (# 11/86), accessed July 2001 (Linthicum: Processing Center
of the USHMM).
Nikolina Delic-Sitin, memoirs of Jasenovac, original document from Jasenovac (#6),
accessed July 2001 (Linthicum: Processing Center of the USHMM), 1.
Branko Davila, "Jastrebarsko u narodnooslobodilackoj borbi od pocetka rata 1941 g.
do oslobodjenja 1945 g.," private memoir, written approximately 1960, in Djecji dom
Jastrebarsko: Dokumenti, 1939-1947. (The Jastrebarsko children's home: Documents
1939-1947), edited by Ciril Petesic (Zagreb: Krscanska Sadasnjost, 1991), 130-131.
^'ibid., 131.
Marie, tape 2,13.
Sajer, tape 2, 9-10.
Ibid., tape 2, 10.
Vejnovic, tape 1,12.
Letter from an anonymous party official to the Communist Party Commission for
Northern Croatia, dated 19 September 1944, in Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 2, 778.
Sajer, tape 2, 7.
Zlatko Vajler, "Sccanja Zlatka Vajlera" (Memories of Zlatko Valjer), in Secanja
Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the Jasenovac camp), compiled by
Dusan Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972), 323 (hereafter cited
as Secanja Jevreja).
Party committees were active in other camps outside of the Jasenovac system, for
example, in Lepoglava, especially after a group of prisoners was transferred there from
Stara Gradiska. Mirko Persen, Ustaski logori (Ustasa Camps) (Zagreb: Stvarnost, 1966),
132.

173

Antun Herman, original document from Jasenovac, accessed July 2001 (Linthicum:
Processing Center of the USHMM).
Unidentified informant, original document from Jasenovac, accessed July 2001
(Linthicum: Processing Center of the USHMM).
Manda Vargas-Klajn, testimony from the Jasenovac archives, accessed July 2001
(Linthicum: Processing Center of the USHMM).
Leon Maestro, "Sjecanja Leona Maestra" (Memories of the Leon Maestro), in Secanja
Jevreja, 112.
"Zlata Segvic," testimony, from the Jasenovac archives, about Segvic's contributions
to the Partisan efforts in the camps, given by an unidentified woman, accessed July 2001
(Linthicum: Processing Center of the USHMM).
Herman document.
Huber, tape 2, 14.
Egon Berger, testimony dated 10 May 1945, in LCPRC.
Jakov Kabiljo, "Sjecanja Jakova Kabilja" (Memories of the Jakov Kabiljo), in Secanja
Jevreja, 104.
Svarc, tape 1,18.
The prisoners told the Ustasa guards that the radio could not be repaired. The guards
accepted that assessment, and the prisoners were able to keep the radio, albeit living
under the continuous fear of exposure. Moric Montiljo, "Sjecanja Morica Montilja"
(Memories of the Moric Montiljo), in Secanja Jevreja, 266.
Ibid., 266.
Svarc, tape 1,27. See also Sajer, tape 3,16.
Leon Koen, "Sjecanja Leona Koena" (Memories of Leon Koen), in Secanja Jevreja,
145.

Marie, tape 2, 15.


Delic-Sitin, 12.
Dolamic.

174

Chapter 8 - The Impact of Ethnic Persecution in the Independent State of Croatia


on the Partisan Movement
Ethnic conflict in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) had a profound effect on
the Partisan movement outside of the camps. The violent civil strife that pitted various
ethnic groups against each other had an impact on the size and ethnic composition of the
resistance forces, on the communist leadership's realization of the urgency of ethnic
issues in the area, and ultimately on the ideology of the Partisan movement and its goals
for the future.
The ethnic violence unleashed by the Ustasa and its Axis supporters caused a rapid
growth of Partisan forces within Bosnia and Croatia and also shaped the composition of
those forces as persecuted groups flocked to the Partisans in large numbers. At first
Serbs made up the largest percentage of the Partisan recruits in the NDH. ^ According to
the historian Srdja Trifkovic:
The degree of insurgent activity in the NDH was almost invariably in direct
proportion to the intensity of anti-Serb terror in a given area. In eastern
Herzegovina there was a spontaneous Serb uprising already in June 1941, in
response to a wave of savage slaughters the Ustasas carried out throughout the
area. The regions of Bosanska Krajina, eastern Bosnia, Lika, Kordun, Banija and
northern Dalmatia, which were also the scene of mass slaughters, were up in arms
by early August. At the same time, even those areas with a Serb majority or
plurality (Srem, Semberija, parts of Slavonija and Podravina) remained
remarkably quiet for as long as they were little affected by terror. Srem, for
instance, became a hotbed of insurgency only after a particularly bloody Ustasa
'cleansing action' in 1942.^
It is evident that the Partisan movement initially developed in Croatia as a spontaneous
reaction against Ustasa persecution, not, as post-war Yugoslav historians suggested, as
part of an organized, communist-led movement.

175

Other nationalities targeted by the Ustasa were also represented in proportions much
greater than their percentage of the population would warrant. Jews, for example, played
an important role in the national liberation movement. One of the Partisan leaders, Mose
Pijade, was Jewish as were fourteen of the generals and ten individuals to whom the
Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) later granted the official title of 'national
heroes.'^ Forty out of the seventy-three doctors in the entire Partisan medical corps in
1942 were Jews, and Jewish doctors liberated in 1943 from the Italian camps on the
Adriatic coast further increased the number of Partisan physicians.'* According to Slavko
Goldstein's research on the participation of Croatian and Bosnian Jews in the resistance
movement:
At the end of the war there were 2,339 Jews from Croatia and BosniaHerzegovina in the Partisan forces; 804 were killed in action. Moreover,
About 2,000 Jewish non-fighters, who had survived the war in the Partisanheld areas, returned home with the Partisans when the war ended.... It should
be reiterated, that, proportionally speaking, this was the most massive
participation of Jews in the resistance movements in Europe under Nazi
occupation, and the largest number of Jewish lives saved thanks to the
resistance.^
Thus, Serbs, Jews, and other persecuted ethnic minorities within the NDH were well
represented in the Partisan movement.
The genocidal policies of the Ustasa alienated many people belonging to the
dominant ethnic groups as well; Volksdeutsche, Bosnian Muslims, and Croats were
increasingly represented in the ranks of the resistance movement. In August 1943, the
Partisans formed the Ernst Thalman Company of German-speaking recruits, and the next
year, a second German Partisan unit, the Freies Deutschland (Free Germany) Company
was created. Bosnian Muslims also increasingly switched their allegiance from the

Ustasa to the Partisans.^ Historian Yeshayahu A. JeUnek, writing about the Bosnian
Muslim community's official protests to Ustasa authorities against the persecution of
Serbs and Jews, noted the Muslim leaders' "perception of religious tolerance as a token
of lasting historical and moral value." Many Muslims found that this ideal of ethnic and
religious tolerance corresponded to the Partisans' pan-Yugoslav ideology. In addition,
Bosnians from all religious backgrounds had suffered greatly from the ethnic strife,
having been caught in a web of Ustasa terror and Cetnik reprisals. According to a
document prepared in November 1943 by the United States Office of Strategic Services:
"Alone among the many groups fighting in Yugoslavia, the Partisans have committed no
atrocities, nor have they ever felt it necessary to order mass arrests and transfers of
populations."' Although it is not entirely true that the Partisans never carried out
reprisals against civilians, contemporaries did indeed see the Partisans as striving to avoid
ethnic violence.
As the war continued, increasing numbers of Croats turned away from the form of
nationalism represented by the Ustasa and joined the multi-ethnic Partisan movement.
For example, Branko Davila, a communist from the area near Jastrebarsko, recalled that
the predominantly Croatian population of his area, traditionally strong supporters of the
Croatian Peasant Party, withdrew their support for the NDH when they observed Ustasa
troops mistreating prisoners at a nearby train station.'' In addition, Croats in ethnically
mixed marriages were likely to oppose the Croatian regime's discriminatory policies,
leading Croatia's Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac to complain to Ustasa leader Ante
Pavelic:

177

If even dumb animals protect their young and will not let themselves be
separated by force, who among the judicious will believe that thousands of
people in mixed marriages will be able to watch passively while their families are
destroyed by force and their children abandoned to an uncertain fate? Is it not
exactly in this way that the Partisans, so much decried, were created? Is it not by
exactly such measures, full of injustices, that the people are driven by force into
the ranks of the Partisans, as is the case with many
Croatians who can no longer
1
tolerate the injustices of the occupation forces?
By 1945, Croats made up a majority of the Partisan forces m Croatia.

The NDH soon became the center of Partisan activity. Although the Partisan
command, under Josip Broz Tito, originally directed the uprising from within Serbia,
German forces drove the Partisans out of Serbia by the end of 1941. From there,
Communist leaders and most Partisan troops moved into Bosnian territory controlled by
the NDH. Many areas of Bosnia and Hercegovina became battlegrounds, caught between
Partisan and Axis forces, as evidenced by the varied scenes of fighting in 1942 and 1943,
Fighting occurred in the area around Sarajevo, Visegrad, and regions to the north in late
1941 and early 1942, in Valjevo in February 1942, in eastern Bosnia in April and early
May of that year, in western Bosnia in June, in the area west and northwest of Sarajevo in
late winter 1943, and in the mountain regions to the south and southeast, in Hercegovina,
eastern Bosnia, and Montenegro throughout the rest of 1943.'"^ According to the
American researcher Phillip J. Cohen, by late 1943, there were 230,000 Partisans in
Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina combined as opposed to only 90,000 in the rest of
Yugoslavia.'^ While the numbers included fighters who came to the NDH from other
regions of Yugoslavia, it is evident that the Partisan movement had tapped into a strong
current of support within the region. The evidence of ethnic persecution in Croatia and

Bosnia had already had a strong impact on the local inhabitants and would eventually
affect the thinking of the new arrivals as well.
First-hand knowledge of the ethnic persecution in the NDH varied by region, for
people in some areas witnessed more ethnic persecution than others. In addition,
information about local concentration camps circulated throughout the NDH, but specific
knowledge about the camps was not uniformly disseminated. Joka Nikolic, a Roma
whom the Ustasa deported to Jasenovac in April or May 1942, said that everyone in his
native village had already heard stories about the camp's horrors.'^ Similarly, Duka
Pazdrijan reported that rumors of atrocities at Jasenovac were widespread. He recalled
that, in spring of 1942, when his train pulled into the Jasenovac station and prisoners
were told the name of their destination, they said to each other that they would soon be
dead.'^ Yet, others, such as Josip Susec, a politically active member of the communist
youth movement, claimed that at the time of his arrest in spring 1944 he had never heard
of Jasenovac despite the incredulity of the other inmates who reproved him: "Why did
you let them deport you to Jasenovac?"'^ Thus, knowledge of ethnic persecution was
unevenly disseminated throughout the NDH.
The same was true of the Partisan forces in the region although they were probably
better informed than the civilian population. Some of the more recent recruits to the
Partisan armed forces, especially those just arrived in the NDH from other regions of
Yugoslavia, knew very little about Jasenovac or other Ustasa camps.

On the other

hand, the Partisan leadership, both local and national, was considerably better informed.
As early as August 1941, the head of the Partisans, Tito, mentioned specifically the

179

persecution of Serbs by the Ustasa,and during that same month, the Partisans organized
91
a committee in Zagreb to help the camp inmates and their families. Another leader,
Milovan Djilas, had encountered evidence of Ustasa atrocities even earlier than that.

In

1943 the Partisans published a brochure in the liberated territory of Slavonia, Croatia,
entitled "The Horrors of the Jasenovac Camp."^^ Furthermore, many fighters in the
Partisans' 'National Liberation Army' (narodnooslobodilacka vojska or NOV) learned
something of the situation in Jasenovac from evidence given by escapees from the camps
and party members freed in prisoner exchanges with Ustasa troops.
Already in 1941, the Partisans were fighting in the vicinity of Jasenovac, attempting to
free the prisoners.^^ They continued to attack the camp periodically, apparently because
its liberation was considered an important goal by the NOV leadership, but well-armed
Ustasa guards operating from fortified positions always repulsed the attacks. Over time,
attacks on Jasenovac accelerated as more information about the camp became available to
members of the resistance movement and to the general population of Croatia and
Bosnia, but the Partisans failed to liberate the camp until the last days of the war.
Although Partisan forces were unable to free the prisoners of Jasenovac, they
experienced much better success in gaining the release of children from the Stara
Gradiska camp. In early summer 1942, during the battle of Kozara between the Ustasa
and the Partisans, the Ustasa captured over 1,000 Serbian children whose relatives were
fighting in Partisan units. Croatian authorities transported the children to the Stara
Gradiska camp, where they suffered as greatly as adult prisoners in the Jasenovac system.
Someone, possibly a Catholic nun by the name of Monika Stampalija,^^ provided a

180

contact in Zagreb with information as to where the young people had been taken, and that
person informed others. Eventually, two people, Kamilo Drossier and Diana
Budisavljevic, neither of whom were Serbs, brought pressure on the Ustasa goverrmient
to release the captured Serbian children from the concentration camp. Kamilo Brossler,
despite his Germanic last name, which he preferred to spell 'Bresler' in the Croatian way,
had grown up in Sarajevo and studied at the university in Zagreb. Appointed by the
Ustasa government to the board of the Croatian Red Cross, he was working in his office
one summer day in 1942 when Budisavljevic walked in and asked whether he was aware
that hundreds, maybe thousands, of Serbian children were being held at the Stara
Gradiska concentration camp.^^ Brossler was horrified and, supported by representatives
of the International Red Cross, he pressured the Ustasa government to release the
children. Budisavljevic, an Austrian citizen, got members of the German army to
intercede with authorities in the NDH as well. Because of international pressure, the
Croatian government finally agreed to transport the children to a children's home at
90

Jastrebarsko (nicknamed ' Jaska'), where Brossler saw to their needs.

When the children arrived in Jastrebarsko, Partisan forces in the area were notified of
their whereabouts, probably by Dr. Branko Davila, a physician who helped out at the
children's home. In late summer 1942, the Partisans attacked Ustasa forces in the area
and freed several hundred children,^'' some of whom were the relatives of the fighters.
One Partisan, Tomo Mikulic Gajdas, later recounted the feelings he and the others
experienced: happiness at the children's liberation, anger at the deplorable conditions in
the camp, sorrow at the suffering, and terrible psychological pain. Most of the soldiers

cried and yet, according to Mikulic Gajdas, they felt a renewed determination to fight
against the persecution that they saw in the camp.^' Local villagers, mostly Croats,
assisted the Partisans in caring for the Serbian children. The freeing of the captured
youngsters - first from Stara Gradiska and then from Jastrebarsko - thus provides a clear
example of how outrage against the Ustasa's ethnic persecution, particularly when
children were targeted, led people of various ethnic and political backgrounds to
collaborate with the Partisan movement.
The Partisans became involved in the rescue of other prisoners as well, occasionally
playing an active role in organizing group escapes from concentration camps. For
example, in the fall of 1943, the Partisans directed the escape of several prisoners who
were prominent Communist party members from Bosnia, including Remzija Omanovic,
Hasan Sojtaric, and a prisoner referred to simply as 'Comrade Kapetanovic,' among
others.^^ Another Partisan-organized group escape involved the rescue of a group from
Jasenovac whom the Ustasa had assigned to work on telephone lines outside the gates of
the camp. Two camp survivors offered somewhat different accounts as to how Partisans
freed the group. Albert Maestro claimed that a fellow prisoner Moric Montiljo passed a
note to the Partisans via an unknown peasant, who risked his life smuggling it to them,
asking them to launch a rescue operation.^^ Montiljo himself said that a free doctor in
the camp. Dr. Marie,contacted the Partisans and made all the arrangements, signaling
the prisoners on the day the rescue was to occur by throwing his hat to the ground.
Regardless of how the plan was arranged, the Partisans knew where to find the prisoners
and launched an attack on the Ustasa guard. Although Montiljo was wounded in the

182

fighting between the Ustasa guards and the Partisans, all twenty prisoners were liberated.
Such operations, however, were relatively rare. The camp inmates were rarely able to
notify the Partisans as to their whereabouts when they were outside the camp, and such
rescue attempts also proved extremely risky for the unarmed prisoners, who faced
retaliation from their well-armed Ustasa guards if the attack did not succeed quickly.
Thus, the NOV rarely tried to organize direct rescue operations.
Nonetheless, the Partisans were frequently involved in indirect rescues. Both Ustasa^*^
and Partisan^' sources described their participation in prisoner exchanges whenever the
NOV captured Ustasa fighters. One of these exchanges freed Mara Vejnovic, the Serbian
teenager whose testimony on conditions in Stara Gradiska we have encountered earlier.38
Such exchanges were rare; only those prisoners whose names were known to the NOV
leadership had a chance of receiving their freedom in that way. Far more often. Partisan
forces became involved in rescuing prisoners when they escaped on their own initiative
and fled to Partisan lines.^ For example. Ado Kabiljo and the others with whom he
worked developed their escape plan when they were working in Bosnia in a Muslim
village that they knew to be pro-Partisan. Their plan was predicated on the expectation of
receiving shelter and assistance from the villagers before reaching Partisan lines.'^''
Other prisoners made their escape spontaneously and then sought out Partisan forces.
Sado Koen-Davko, for example, described in his memoirs such an escape from
Jasenovac. However, he had some misgivings as to how he would recognize the
Partisans because he had seen the Ustasa force prisoners to manufacture Partisan caps as
a disguise for fascist soldiers, who then masqueraded as Partisans in order to trap people

fleeing to NOV lines. He had heard that some Roma had been trapped while trying to
join the resistance."" Naturally, during his own escape, Koen-Davko was suspicious
when a man with a Communist star on his cap approached him, but when he realized that
the man was indeed an authentic Partisan, he became so excited that he kissed his
astonished rescuer."^^ Escapees did not worry that they might face ethnic discrimination
at the hands of Partisan troops. It did not matter to prisoners fleeing the camps whether
the Partisans they encountered were Jewish, Serbian, Croatian, Muslim, or Roma, for the
NOV prided itself on the all-Yugoslav composition of its fighting force. To an escaped
prisoner, in the words of a Jasenovac survivor, Leon Maestro: "The Partisans meant
freedom.""^^
The National Liberation Army was only indirectly involved in the liberation of
Jasenovac in late April 1945, leading one to ask why the Partisans did not put forth more
effort to free the camp inmates. Indeed, the issue of launching an attack on the camps
came up several times in discussions among the Partisan leaders. As early as March
1942, Tito wrote to one of his military units about "the possibility of an eventual attack
on the concentration camp at Jasenovac, where there were about 10,000 of our prisoners,
but now only 1,500 living comrades remain....This attack should be organized together
with the staff commanders from Croatia, but in such a way that it surely succeeds."'*'^
Months later, in October 1942, a Partisan military official reported that it would be
"politically useful" to attack Jasenovac."^^ Why then did such an attack not occur?
There were many reasons why the Partisans never launched a frontal assault on
Jasenovac. In 1942 when gunfire from the fierce battles raging in nearby Kozara could

184

be heard in the camps, the NOV was unable to attack Jasenovac because Partisan forces
in the area consisted of only 3,500 poorly armed troops and 300 wounded, while
Jasenovac was well fortified and defended.''^ In addition, the difficult terrain presented
obstacles, the swampy ground'^^ making a land attack difficult and the river systems and
railway connections making it easy for Ustasa forces and nearby German units to move in
quickly to bolster the defending forces.'^^ Fabijan Rukavina, the secretary of the party
committee in Stara Gradiska, later stated that his committee had tried to organize a
general rebellion among the prisoners and coordinate the revolt with a Partisan attack on
the camp. However, in 1944, when Rukavina and his associates were planning the
action, larger numbers of Ustasa troops were moving into the camp to combat insurgency
in the area, making a rebellion or outside attack more risky for the prisoners. Instead of
organizing a general liberation of the camp, the Stara Gradiska party leaders were only
able to arrange their own escape.'^ Thus, Partisans within and outside of the camps
feared that a ground assault on Jasenovac was unlikely to be successful and that the camp
guards would massacre the prisoners during the course of the attack.
In 1945, however, with a Partisan victory over German and Ustasa forces in sight,
Tito's forces made several attempts to liberate the prisoners of Jasenovac through aerial
bombings of the camp gates. Twice in February and at least once thereafter, Partisan
planes strafed the camps, first making a pass overhead in order to forewarn the prisoners
so that they were able to take shelter.^ Unfortunately for the inmates, when Yugoslav
pilots bombed the walls of the camp, they hit only the inner walls and missed the outer
walls of barbed wire,^' so the prisoners were unable to escape. Even if all the barriers

had been removed, there would have remained the problem of the Ustasa guard towers
with machine guns trained on the captives. Therefore, although the Partisans made
several bombing attacks on Jasenovac, the prisoners were unable to rise against their
captors and break out of the camps.
Meanwhile, the situation for the inmates became even more dangerous than before.
The Ustasa command grew increasingly vengeful, punishing the prisoners more severely
as the Partisans advanced in Yugoslavia, and their allies the American, British, and
Soviet forces ~ won victories throughout Europe. In early April 1945, the Bosnian
capital of Sarajevo fell to the Partisans, and the NDH was obviously on the brink of
collapse. The Ustasa planned to retreat northward into Austria but not before destroying
the evidence of the government's brutality. The camp commanders made plans to
liquidate Jasenovac and all the surviving prisoners. Executions increased, and, as no new
prisoners were admitted to the camps,^^ the number of camp inmates dropped rapidly.
On 21 April 1945, Ustasa guards began the final liquidation of Jasenovac. All day the
guards marched large groups of prisoners to the killing grounds, and the buildings that
had housed them were burned to the ground. Cedomil Huber recounted that the male
prisoners became aware of the liquidation of the women's camp at Stara Gradiska
because they passed a column of women who were heading to their death. He witnessed
a crowd of Croatian, Serbian, and a few remaining Jewish women walking together,
singing, to the execution site.

CO

When darkness fell on 21 April, the surviving male

prisoners realized that it was the last night of the camp's existence. The guards told the
prisoners outright that, come daylight, all the remaining irmiates would be killed so that

186

the Ustasa could evacuate Jasenovac. In preparation, during that night, the Ustasa took
away the group leaders (grupnici) for execution. Guards destroyed the camp records^"^
and began to blow up buildings, simulating a Partisan attack so that they could deceive
the population in the surrounding areas by pretending that the Partisans were the ones
who had destroyed the buildings and killed the prisoners. With no other hope remaining,
the camp inmates plarmed a desperate revolt.
Just after midnight on the morning of 22 April, the Communist Party Secretary for
Jasenovac III, Ante Bakotic, called together some politically active prisoners, both Serbs
and Jews, from different work sites and made plans to revolt. Soon the organizers of the
revolt informed all the remaining prisoners of many different ethnic groups, communists
and non-communists alike. They harbored no illusions as to the likelihood of success as
the Ustasa guards were well armed, and machine gun emplacements protected the front
gates. Although the participants in the revolt realized that most of the thousand or so
remaining prisoners would die in the attempt, they resolved that some iimiates should live
in order to bear witness to what had happened in Jasenovac.^^ In the words of KoenDavko, "I hardly believed myself in everything that I experienced and saw with my own
eyes. I wanted only that someone would live, who could testify to all the horrors in
which many would surely not want to believe."^ He added that it would be less horrible
to die by a bullet than by a mallet.^^ Meanwhile, in Kozara, which was physically
CO

separated from the rest of the camp, the same decision was made for the same reasons.

Prisoners at this worksite knew there was no other way out; somehow they had acquired
poison, and each prisoner carried a vial of it to ensure that he would not be captured

187

alive.^^ Thus, on 22 April 1945, in the two remaining parts of Jasenovac (Jasenovac III
and IV), mass escape attempts were launched. During the escape, the camp guards
opened fire with machine guns, killing most of the prisoners inside the camp's walls.
However, several dozen inmates succeeded in making it out of the camp^'^ and headed in
search of the security of Partisan-held territory.
In the rescue of escaped prisoners, the latent Yugoslavism of the noncombatant
population of the NDH, of the Partisan movement, and of the prisoners themselves all
came together in a common reaction against Ustasa persecution. The surviving prisoners
often banded together in multi-ethnic groups, sometimes based on friendships, sometimes
on the exigencies of the moment. The members of these groups came to rely on each
other, showing a depth of trust and cooperation that transcended their differences. Upon
their escape, they often turned to strangers from a different ethnic background, asking for
assistance in locating nearby Partisan forces. Sometimes those who assisted the escapees
were themselves Partisans; other times the prisoners sought out friends to help in the
rescue. Yet, time after time, survivors of Jasenovac stated that they owed their lives not
only to the Partisan forces, but also to the noncombatant men and women who brought
them to NOV lines.
Occasionally, fleeing prisoners sought help from people they knew or from people
whom they knew to be pro-Partisan. Mihajlo Marie and Eduard Sajer, for example,
found themselves together with several other escapees, among them a Serb firom a nearby
village, who told them they could receive assistance from people in his community. In
fact, peasants there fed and housed the escapees until the Partisans came.^' During this

188

same escape attempt, Huber found himself swimming across the river with two other
prisoners, none of whom he knew. As they had discarded their clothing except for their
underwear in order to make the crossing and then used the underwear to bandage the
injury of one of their party, all three ended up naked, shivering, and in dire need of
assistance.^ Fortunately, they encountered a Bosnian Muslim man who had heard the
shots and, deducing what had happened, was looking for escapees in order to help them.^
Huber soon was taken to relative safety of Partisan territory.
On other occasions, escaped prisoners were rescued when, in desperation, they risked
being recaptured by the Ustasa and asked for help from strangers of unknown political
sjmipathies. For example, Adolf Fridrih and his group encountered three Serbian
civilians, who took the escapees to their village and then put them in touch with the
Partisan forces."* Essentially the same sequence of events led Josip Erlih,^ Jakica
Finci, and Jakov Atijas^ to safety. One man that Atijas encountered ran away, but the
man's companions took the risk of aiding the former prisoners. Other escapees, such as
Erlih and Find, knocked on the doors of isolated houses, throwing themselves on the
mercy of strangers. Zlatko Vajler and his fellow escapees, for example, sought refuge in
the house of an old woman, who fed them and then figured out a way to put them in
touch with the Partisans.^ Jakov Kabiljo, by a strange coincidence, randomly chose to
seek refuge in a house, only to find that the Croatian owner was himself a former inmate
of Stara Gradiska.^ Kabiljo got a warm welcome and the assistance he required.
Therefore, strangers, often of a different ethnic background than most of the prisoners

189

they helped, became involved in rescue work, putting the former-inmates in contact with
the Partisan National Liberation Army.
When Jasenovac survivors reached Partisan lines, they had achieved relative safety.
Although the Partisans did not compel them to join the military, and the escapees were
usually not in very good physical condition after the ordeals of camp life and a harrowing
escape, most nonetheless chose to enlist in the NOV. Some, like the young Sava
Petrovic, had nowhere else to go.^ Similarly, Eduard Sajer felt that he had to join.
Initially, the Partisans tried to send him home to recuperate from his incarceration, but he
had no home or family left. Although the Partisans sent him to a military field hospital,
he still insisted on fighting.^^ In the next weeks, while serving with the NOV in
Slovenia,^^ he had the satisfaction of arresting some of the very same Ustasa who had
7^
V
served as guards in Jasenovac. Bozo Svarc, another escapee who served m the Partisan
army, later reflected that many former prisoners joined the military forces in order to
"fight for a better society"^"^ or to avenge those who had not survived. Svarc himself was
the only survivor from among the large group with whom he had been arrested, so he felt
that he had a responsibility to fight in the names of all those who had not lived to see the
day of liberation.

Others, such as a Roma prisoner Joka Nikolic, realized at Jasenovac

that the only thing of value in his life was freedom,and after escaping from Jasenovac,
he joined the Partisans to preserve that freedom. The Partisans certainly did not
discourage the newly freed prisoners from joining the armed forces. Thus, many of the
survivors of Jasenovac ended the war as military veterans.

190

When enlisting in the Partisan army, Jasenovac survivors often requested and received
permission to be assigned to the same unit as their fellow survivors. Jewish escapee Ado
Kabiljo, for example, was able to stay together with the others in his group, one of whom
was a Serb and one a Bosnian Muslirn.^^ On one occasion, the Partisans were unwilling
to accept one of the escapees, a Muslim, accusing him of collaborating with the Ustasa.
However, fellow Jasenovac survivors from other ethnic groups vouched for him, thereby
enabling him to enlist/^ The desire of the former prisoners to stay together coincided
with a contemporary Partisan effort to establish ethnically mixed brigades. In fact, the
Partisans actively encouraged ethnic diversity within their units.^ Therefore, the
prisoners' experience within the Yugoslav armed forces served to reinforce the ideology
of all-Yugoslav cooperation, which had been an important feature of camp life.
Just as the Partisans had a great effect on the survivors of Jasenovac so too did
Jasenovac have a profound impact on the Partisan movement and its ideology. Ethnic
persecution in the NDH led the Communist Party to expand its pan-Yugoslav orientation,
which then became the central focus of Partisan ideology. As noted previously, the
Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) was, even before the war, ethnically diverse both
in outlook and in the composition of its membership. After the Axis invasion of
Yugoslavia in April 1941 and especially after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union two
months later, the CPY took a nationalist stance, calling on the public to resist the foreign
invaders. Paradoxically, both the Ustasa and the Partisans used national liberation
ideologies in their efforts to mobilize the masses in support of their cause.^'' However,
the two sides differed radically in their interpretation of what constituted a 'nation.'

191

As late as 1943 and 1944, the Ustasa was still making a case for an exclusively
Croatian nationalism, the Ustasa newspaper Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia) proclaiming
Croatia to be "unanimous and united as never before."^' The Ustasa also stressed that
this ethnically homogeneous Croatia was free from the Serbian hegemony of the prewar
Yugoslav kingdom, a truly 'independent' state of Croatia.Supporters of the NHD
rejected the concept of Yugoslavia, claiming that it represented, in the words of a writer
for the pro-Ustasa paper Spremnost (Preparedness), "an unnatural meaning and an antiCroat state formation."^^ Spremnost also condemned the Partisans' 'national front' as an
*
84
instrument of Soviet imperialism and greater-Serbian chauvinism.
A German report on

Croatia written in 1944, based on information from Ustasa contacts, reached the
conclusion that the Partisan movement was foreign to the Croats, the "last convulsion of
oc

a sinking epoch."

An alternative view of nationalism in Croatia was the Communist Party's appeal to a


common Yugoslav nationalism. As Croatian Partisan Vjeko Afric later noted in his
memoir of World War II, the concept of twentieth century nationalism seemed rather
ambiguous to many Croats. The Germans were one people but lived in several different
countries; the Swiss had one country but were several different peoples speaking different
languages; while Afric himself was a Croat but felt he had little in common with the
Ustasa.^^ Thus, a broader Yugoslav orientation seemed to be a solution, ending interethnic strife within the NDH while uniting the people of the area in opposition to foreign
- Italian and German - occupation.

192

The Bosnian Partisan newspaper Oslobodenje (Liberation) repeatedly stressed the


theme that Bosnian Serbs were turning away from the Cetniks and Bosnian Croats and
Muslims from the Ustasa because of those movements' "fratricidal brutality," joining in a
R7

common struggle against the foreign invaders.

Oslobodenje also emphasized that the

participation of representatives from the different peoples of Bosnia in the Partisan


struggle had created the conditions for the equality of ethnic groups.

QO

This was not

empty rhetoric, but a concept the Partisans tried to put into practice in order to gain a
mass following. According to a report prepared in late 1943 by the American Office of
Strategic Services:
Immediately upon the occupation of a town, the Partisan leaders call a town
meeting, which all inhabitants are asked to attend. Partisan spokesmen then
explain their intention of liberating Yugoslavia completely from the Germans, and
from every form of political, social, and religious oppression. On the 'platform'
at the meeting they have representatives of the many religious, national, and
political groups who go to make up their government. One by one, these
representatives, usually including a Roman Catholic priest, a Muslim, a Serb, a
Croat Peasant Party member, a Slovene, a woman, and a Communist, address the
audience, explaining that they are all joined together in a movement to establish a
united and free Yugoslavia, where all national groups will have at least limited
political autonomy, and all religious groups will be tolerated alike....The
townspeople respond enthusiastically.^^
Thus, the Partisans consciously promoted Yugoslavism as an alternative to the narrow
interpretation of nationalism sponsored by the Ustasa and the Cetniks.
Ustasa violence against the civilian population of the NDH had a profound impact on
the Partisan leadership's articulation of Yugoslav ideals. As early as summer 1941, Tito,
himself a Croat, strongly criticized
the unprecedented persecution and massacre of the Serbian population in
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Ustasa hordes and their leader Pavelic,
the most bloodthirsty and loathsome criminal ever born of a Croat mother.

This criminal recently turned to killing the best sons of the Croatian people,
workers, intellectuals, peasants who bravely raised their voice against the
brutal extermination of the Serbian population in Croatia.^
Other Partisan speeches and writings also criticized the persecution of ethnic groups and
stressed a pan-Yugoslav orientation. A Partisan proclamation of September 1941,
addressed "to the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians of Kordun and Banija," mentioned the
atrocities suffered by the inhabitants of that hard-pressed region of Bosnia and concluded
that the suffering inflicted by the Ustasa had only served to strengthen national unity in
the area.' The theme of brotherhood and unity was reiterated frequently in underground
Partisan newspapers,^ which also lauded such developments as the organization of a
multi-ethnic youth event.^ Partisan papers also gave numerous accounts of Bosnian
Muslims joining with Serbs to oppose Ustasa and Cetnik violence in Bosnia'^ and of
Croats joining together with Serbs to fight "for the honor and freedom of the Croatian
people."^ Thus, multi-ethnic cooperation became the most important precept of the
Partisan movement, attracting a mass following to the resistance in a way that communist
theories alone could not do.
The Partisan leadership recognized that opposition to the Ustasa's narrow version of
Croatian nationalism would have implications for the future organization of a Yugoslav
state. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Croatia proclaimed the Partisan
goal to be "not only the national emancipation of the Croats but also [to] assure national
equality of the Serbs in Croatia.The Supreme Command of the People's Liberation
Partisan and Volunteer Army of Yugoslavia proclaimed that the "strongest weapon in the
fight against Fascism [is] the unity of the entire people...

Tito added in December

194

1942: "The national liberation struggle and the national question in Yugoslavia are
inextricably bound up with each other."^^ Nowhere were these statements more obvious
than in the NDH. When the Communist Party of Yugoslavia attempted in 1941 and 1942
to use anti-German and anti-Italian nationalism to mobilize the population without
addressing the question of inter-ethnic relations within Yugoslavia, the CPY met with
only partial success, for within the NDH, Serbs joined the Partisan movement in large
numbers, but Croats did not.^ However, when Andrija Hebrang became the head of the
Croatian branch of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia near the end of 1942, he "adopted
a policy more responsive to Croat national aims"^" and pushed for more decentralization
within a federally organized system."" Croats then joined the Partisan movement in
larger numbers.
The principle of national equality within Yugoslavia was given legal sanction by the
Partisan parliament, known as the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of
Yugoslavia (Antifasisticko vece narodnog oslobodenja Jugoslavije or AVNOJ). The first
session of AVNOJ, meeting in November 1942 in Bihac, Bosnia, made general
references to the creation of a representative government. However, the second session
of AVNOJ, convened on 29 November 1943 in the Bosnian town of Jajce,"^^ made
specific plans for the recreation of Yugoslavia after the war and its transformation from a
unitary monarchy into a federal republic. At this session of AVNOJ, Partisan officials
announced that within a federal Yugoslavia, there would be "constitutionally guaranteed
national equality.

These provisions were supplemented by the "Declaration on the

Rights of Citizens of Bosnia and Hercegovina," issued by the Bosnian delegation to

195

AVNOJ. This declaration proclaimed the "equal rights of Serbs, Moslems, and Croats,"
along with religious freedom, women's rights, and assurances of the "personal safety and
security of citizens."'''
In conjunction with AVNOJ, Croatia also established a regional branch, called
ZAVNOH.'"^ In order to ensure the rights of the Serbian minority within the future
Croatian republic of Yugoslavia, a Serbian Club within ZAVNOH was founded in
November 1943"^^ that soon came under the leadership of Rade Pribicevic. Partisan
newspapers enthusiastically proclaimed: "Healthy political relations between the Serbs
and the Croats in Croatia are the cornerstone for the harmony of all the nations of
Yugoslavia,"'^ and the founding of the Serbian Club in ZAVNOH would deepen the
solidarity of Serbs and Croats in Croatia.'^ Thus, both Serbs and Croats were guaranteed
political rights within the newly organized Croatian republic of Yugoslavia.
Partisan newspapers in Bosnia expressed particular enthusiasm for AVNOJ's intention
to create a federally organized Yugoslav state since Bosnia-Hercegovina would be
accorded the status of a separate republic. Partisan writers in the area looked to the
establishment of a Bosnian Yugoslav republic as a way out of ethnic strife that only
benefited national enemies, such as the Germans.'^ Many Partisans also appreciated the
emphasis on ethnic diversity when choosing representatives to Bosnian political
conferences." Fair treatment of all ethnic groups was particularly valued because, in the
words of a Bosnian Croat, "Croats, Serbs, and Muslims live intermixed in Bosnia and
Hercegovina, village by village, house by house. Because of that, our peoples can create
a happy and worthwhile life only through harmony and brotherly cooperation."'''

Another writer for the newspaper Oslobodenje explained that the new political
organization of Bosnia and Hercegovina, which would include representatives from all
ethnic groups, would serve as a model for the rest of Yugoslavia; Bosnia would thereby
no longer be a contested zone between Serbs and Croats, but a bridge between the two
peoples.''^
Within Croatia-proper, many Croats welcomed national autonomy within a
reorganized Yugoslavia but had serious concerns about the organization of the new
republic. On the one hand, there had always been strong support within Croatia for that
state's inclusion within a federally organized Yugoslavia,

t 1 -3

and many contemporaries

hoped Tito could formulate a real solution to the problems of Serbian-Croatian relations
that had led to genocide.On the other hand, Croats needed reassurance that their
national interests would be upheld by the new state. For example, the Partisan leadership
had to demonstrate good will toward the Catholic Church, which communist leaders tried
to accomplish by allowing a Catholic priest to address the second session of ZAVNOH
and referring to specific historical examples of Partisan support for religious
institutions."^
Partisan newspapers in Croatia were very cautious in their approach to the
controversial issue of ethnic persecution. The Zagreb Partisan newspaper, Naprijed
(Forward), at first described war criminals as those who had committed atrocities against
"Serbs, Croats, and Jews""^ or who had persecuted communists,"^ rather than as people
who had targeted ethnic minorities. In early 1944, an article in Naprijed put forth two
reasons for the failure of the Ustasa, disgust with foreign occupation and economic

197

problems,''^ but failed to mention the idea of popular dissatisfaction with ethnic
persecution that was such an important theme in contemporary Partisan writings in
Bosnia. Only in August and September 1944, did the Zagreb newspaper broach the topic
of equality of Serbs and Croats within the federal republic of Croatia along with an
explanation of the rights of the Serbian minority in Croatia.At the same time, as if to
affirm its specifically Croatian nature, the newspaper switched from using the more
widely used Serbo-Croatian names for months (for example, novembar for November) to
using the specifically Croatian names {rujan for November). Nonetheless, despite some
initial reservations concerning the protection of Croatian rights in the new Yugoslavia, by
1945 Croatian Partisan publications had come to endorse the theme of "brotherhood and
unity" that had become the mantra of Partisan publications elsewhere.
Ultimately, then, the concept of Yugoslavism became the centerpiece of Partisan
ideology, an idea that could unite the population under the communist banner in a way
that communism alone could never do. Tito expressed this concept in a speech delivered
in newly liberated Zagreb on 21 May 1945:
One may well ask: what was it that enabled the Partisans to endure, what
motivated them in their arduous struggle, how could they persevere hungry,
barefoot, and lacking warm clothing - what kept them warm in this terrible
combat? It was the idea that without brotherhood and unity there can be no
happiness among the Yugoslav nations, no prosperity in the Balkans in general.
The slogan of brotherhood and unity enabled us to obtain the wholehearted
support of our long-suffering and impoverished people wherever we went.
Our Army, which sprang forth from the people, was also maintained by the
people. The people willingly gave their last loaf of bread to feed those who
fought for what we have today. Apart from driving out the invaders, the
achievement of brotherhood and unity is our second signal victory in this war.'^''

198

In the same speech, Tito then warned that "The question of chauvinism and negative
local patriotism should be superseded once and for all, it simply must not exist."

121

In

other words, the narrow concept of Croatian and Serbian separatism would be replaced
by a common Yugoslav identity.
Near the end of the war, the Partisans also made plans to deal with the aftermath of the
Ustasa terror in Croatia and Bosnia. By February 1945, the Partisans had established the
Regional Commission of Croatia for the Determination of the Evils of the Occupier and
His Assistants and instructed the commission to prepare to prosecute those accused of
genocide.ZAVNOH also issued directives on assisting the families of victims of
Ustasa persecution'^^ and guaranteed the rights of Serbs and Croats alike within the
newly forming Croatian Republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Y u g o s l a v i a . B y
the time of the defeat of Germany and the end of the Independent State of Croatia in May
1945, the Partisans had already created both the ideology and the political institutions of
a new Yugoslavia organized on federal principles.
Thus, the Partisan victory thus brought an end both to the Ustasa genocide and to the
ethnic separatism that had led to that genocide. The Partisans owed much of their
popularity within the territories of the NDH to a public reaction against Ustasa atrocities.
In the words of Yugoslav political scientist Aleksa Djilas:
One of the goals of Ustasha terrorism was to undermine the idea of a unified
Yugoslavia by making cooperation between Croats and Serbs impossible....
But what the Ustashas actually destroyed was the interwar Yugoslavia of national
political parties. The Partisan movement, on the other hand, was strengthened by
the Ustasha policies. In the fratricidal civil war that followed the Ustasha
massacres, Communist national policies increasingly attracted people from
different nations of Yugoslavia.' ^

Therefore, the irony of the Ustasa persecution of ethnic minorities was that it created
conditions that faciUtated a resurgence of Yugoslavism, first within the NDH and
ultimately throughout all of Yugoslavia.

200

Notes to Chapter 8
' Jill A. Irvine, The Croat Question: Partisan Politics in the Formation of the Yugoslav
Socialist State (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), 139.
^ Srdja Trifkovic, Ustasa: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929-1945
(London: The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, 1998), 147.
^ Jasa Romano, Jevreji Jugoslavije 1941-1945. Zrtve genocida i ucesnici NOR [The
Jews of Yugoslavia 1941-1945: Victims of genocide and participants in the national
liberation war] (Beograd: Jevrejski istorijski muzej, 1980), 306.
^ Slavko Goldstein, "The Jews of Croatia in the Anti-Fascist Resistance," in AntiSemitism Holocaust Anti-Fascism, edited by Ivo Goldstein and Narcisa Lengel Krizman
(Zagreb: Jewish Community, 1997), 137.
^ Ibid., 139.
^ Ernst Thalmann was the most important German communist leader between the two
world wars. He died in August 1944, a year after Partisan company was named in his
honor, in the Buchenwald concentration camp.
^ Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and
Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 288.
^ Yeshayahu A. Jelinek, "Bosnia-Herzegovina at War: Relations between Moslems and
Non-Moslems," Holocaust and Genocide Studies (1990), 288-289.
^ Ibid., 289.
"The Yugoslavian Partisan Movement," 26 November 1943, 9, in United States Office
of Strategic Services, Germany and Its Occupied Territories during World War II
(Microfilm, University of Arizona).
Branko Davila, "Jastrebarsko u narodnooslobodilackoj borbi od pocetka rata 1941 g.
do oslobodjenja 1945 g." Jastrebarsko in the national liberation struggle from the
beginning of the war in 1941 to the liberation of 1945], private memoir, written
approximately 1960, in Djecji dom Jastrebarsko: Dokumenti, 1939-1947. (The
Jastrebarsko children's home: Documents 1939-1947), edited by Ciril Petesic (Zagreb:
Krscanska Sadasnjost, 1991), 131 (hereafter cited as Djecji dom Jastrebarsko).
1

Alojzije Stepinac, Letter to Ante Pavelic, 6 March 1943, in Richard Pattee, The Case of
Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1953), 310-311.

201

Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito, who was himself a Croat, noted the larger numbers of
Croats joining the Partisans. Supreme Command of the People's Liberation Partisan and
Volunteer Army of Yugoslavia, directive, February 1942, in The National Liberation
War and Revolution in Yugoslavia (1941-1945): Selected Documents (Beograd: Military
History Institute of the Yugoslav People's Army, 1982), 430 (hereafter cited as Nat. Lib.
War).
'"^United States Army Center of Military History, "German Antiguerilla Operations in the
Balkans (1941-1945)," Military History Publication 104-18, website, 8 October 2002
<www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/antiguer-ops/AG-Balkan.HTM#yugo5>
Philip J. Cohen, Serbia's Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History (College
Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1996), 96.
Joka Nikolic "Uhvacen sam kao Rom" (I was arrested as a gypsy, in Rijeci koje nisu
zaklane (Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan Trivuncic (Jasenovac:
Spomen-podrucje, 1977), 8 (hereafter cited as Rijeci).
17

Duka Pazdrijan, "Preslagivao sam kipove svetaca" (I piled up statues of saints), in


Rijeci, 33
1O

Josip Susec, "Sesnaest skojevaca" (Sixteen members of SKOJ), in Rijeci, 60.


Sava Petrovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 12 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.; U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives, 1997), tape 3, 2.
Tito (Josip Broz), "Why the People's Partisans Are Fighting," Bulletin of the General
Headquarters of the People's Liberation Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia," 19 August
\9A\,mNat. Lib. War, 94.
Mirko Persen, Ustaski logori (Ustasa Camps) (Zagreb: Stvamost, 1966), 123.
Milovan Djilas, Wartime, translated by Michael B. Petrovich (New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1977), 11.
Bozo Svarc, testimony before the Land Commission of the People's Republic of
Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators, 19441947, 17 July 1945 (Microfilm USHMM Archives).
For example, in 1942 some members of the Stara Gradiska party organization were
released and informed Partisan officials about conditions in the camps. Persen, 123.

202

Gjuro Schwarz, testimony before the Land Commission of the People's Republic of
Croatia for the Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators, 19441947, 10 October 1945 (Microfilm USHMM Archives), 14.
Ciril Petesic, Djecji dom Jastrebarsko, 15.
Kamilo Brossler, "Spasavanje Kozaracke djece godine 1942" (The rescue of the
children of Kozara in 1942), early 1947, in Djecji dom Jastrebarsko, 112.
"Zapisnik Zemaljske komisije za utvrdenje zlocina okupatora i njihovih pomagaca o
saslusanju profesora Kamila Brosslera 18. prosinca 1945" (Minutes of the Land
Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their
Collaborators on the hearing of Professor Kamilo Brossler on December 1945), in Djecji
dom Jastrebarsko, 104.
In a letter to a colleague in Zagreb written the day that the first transport of children
arrived in Jastrebarsko, Brossler described the bad physical condition they were in and
asked for medical supplies to be sent immediately. Kamilo Brossler, letter to Dr.
Niktopolion Cernozubov, 12 July 1942, in Djecji dom Jastrebarsko, 75-77.
According to early Partisan accounts, 727 children or even 900 children were rescued,
while Davilo says the figure is closer to 400. See, respectively, "Oslobodeno 727 djece u
Jastrebarskom" (The freeing of 727 children in Jastrebarsko), Omladinski borac (Young
warrior) (Zagreb), September 1942, 78-79; "Oslobodenje djece: Hrvatski partizani
jednom smjelom akcijom oslobodili su iz logora u Jaski 900 srpske djece" (The freedom
of children; Croatian Partisans in a deliberate action freed 900 Serbian children from the
camp in Jaska), Borba (Struggle) (Belgrade), 1 October 1942, 80-83; Branko Davila,
"Jastrebarsko u narodnooslobodilackoj borbi od pocetka rata 1941 g. do oslobodjenja
1945 g." (Jastrebarsko in the national liberation war from the beginning of the war in
1941 to the liberation in 1945), private memoir, written approximately 1960. All three
accounts are found in Djecji dom Jastrebarsko. Probably, Davilo's figure is more
accurate.
31

Tomo Mikulic Gajdas, Sjecanja i zapisi iz narodnooslobodilacke borbe (Memories


and notes from the National Liberation Struggle) (Zagreb; Vlastita Naklada, 1967), 105.

Hasan Dolamic, "Upitnik za bivse zatvorenike logora Stara Gradiska, 1941-1945"


(Questioning of former prisoners of the Stara Gradiska camp, 1941-1945), 23 November
1977. Original document from Jasenovac (Linthicum: Processing Center of the
USHMM, accessed July 2001), 8.
33

Albert Maestro, Memories of the Ustasha Camps, transcribed from oral testimony
given in 1945 and 1971 (n.p.: Ein-Shemer, 1996), 26.

203

Montiljo does not give the first name of Dr. Marie. However, the doctor was definitely
not Mihajlo Marie, whose testimony is cited earlier. (Montiljo stated that the doctor died
in Jasenovac because the Ustasa discovered his work with the Partisans.)
Moric Montiljo, "Sjecanja Morica Montilja" (Memories of Moric Montiljo), in Secanja
Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the Jasenovac camp), compiled by
Dusan Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972), 267 (hereafter cited
as Secanja Jevreja).
36

Ivan Klisanic,
"Izvestaj Zapovjedniku
I. Zbornog Podrucja" [Report to the command of
the First Territorial Corps], 29 September 1943, in Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac,
1941-1945.
(The Jasenovac concentration camp, 1941-1945), compiled by
Antun Miletic (Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986) vol. 2, 665-669 (hereafter cited as Kon.
log. Jasenovac).

'xn

Mate Jerkovic, "Pismo Staba 2. Korpusa NOV Hrvatske Zapovjednistvu IV Gorskog


Zdruga" (Letter from the staff of the 2"'' Corps of the National Liberation Army of
Croatia to the command of the 4^*^ Mountain Unit), 8 October 1943, in Kon. log.
Jasenovac, vol. 2, 675-677.

38

Mara Vejnovic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 17 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,


transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives, 1997), tape 2, 18.

For just a few examples of such rescues, see Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24
June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording, tape 1, 28, and Ado
Kabiljo, interview by Jasa Almuli, 11 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of tape
recording, tape 2, 9-10 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives,
1997).
Ado Kabiljo, tape 2, 6.
Sado Koen-Davko, "Sjecanja Sada Koena-Davka" (Memories of Sado Koen-Davko),
in Secanja Jevreja, 180-181.
''^Ibid., 189.
Leon Maestro, "Sjecanja Leona Maestra" (Memories of Sado Koen-Davko), in Secanja
Jevreja, 115.

204

Tito, "Operativnom Stabu NOP IDV za Krajinu" (Operational Staff of the People's
Liberation Movement and the volunteer force for Krajina), 31 March 1942, in Kon. log.
Jasenovac, \o\.
Stab 5. Krajiske NOU Brigade, "Stabu III Operativne Zone NOV i po Hrvatske" (The
Staff of the 5^ Krajiska People's Liberation Army Brigade to the staff of the Third
Operation Zone of the People's Liberation Army and for Croatia), 10 October 1942, in
Kon. log. Jasenovac, vol. 1, 506.
Antun Miletic, Ustaska fabrika smrti, 1941-1945 (The Ustasa factory of death, 19411945) (Beograd; Vojnoizdavacki i Novinski Centar, 1998), 105.
The Jasenovac complex was located near the confluence of the Una, Sava, and Struga
rivers, an area that was frequently flooded during the years of the war.
Miletic, 105-106.
Fabijan Rukavina, in Mirko Persen, Ustaski logori (Ustasa Camps) (Zagreb: Stvarnost,
1966), 128.
Adolf Fridrih, "Sjecanja Adolfa Fridriha" (Memories of Adolf Fridrih), in Secanja
Jevreja, 51.
CI

Cedomil Huber, interview by Jasa Almuli, 7 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,


transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives, 1997), tape 4, 8.
Several hundred prisoners captured in Sarajevo reached Jasenovac, but Ustasa guards
executed all of them upon arrival. Thus, prisoners in this final transport to Jasenovac
were never actually admitted to the camp.
Huber, tape 4, 10.
Durica Labovic and Petar Raznatovic, Otpor golorukih kroz logore (Resistance of the
bare-handed throughout the camps) (Beograd: Grafika, 1970), 71.
Petrovic, tape 2, 20, and Eduard Sajer, interview by Jasa Almuli, 28 June 1997,
Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript of tape recording, tape 4, 9 (Washington D.C.: U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997).
Koen-Davko, 185.
"ibid., 185.

205

Jakov Kabiljo, "Sjecanja Jakova Kabilja" (Memories of Jakov Kabiljo), in Secanja


Jevreja, 107-108.
Ibid., 107.
Labovic and Raznatovic, 73.
Mihajlo Marie, interview by Jasa Almuli, 9 July 1997. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording, tape 3, 9 and Sajer, tape 4, 13.
Huber, tape 4, 19.
Ibid., tape 4, 18.
Fridrih, 53.
Josip Erlih, interview by Jasa Almuli, 27 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 3, 6.
Jakica Finci, "Sjecanja Jakice Fincija" (Memories of Jakica Finci), in Secanja Jevreja,
198.
fil

Jakov E. Atijas, "Sjecanja Jakova Atijasa" (Memories of Jakov Atijas), in Secanja


Jevreja, 81.
Zlatko Vajler, "Secanja Zlatka Vajlera" (Memories of Zlatko Vajler), in Secanja
Jevreja, 325.
Jakov Kabiljo, 110.
Petrovic, tape 3, 3.
Sajer, tape 4, 14-15.
Slovenia, to the northwest of Croatia, had been annexed by Germany following the
destruction of the Yugoslav kingdom. In spring 1945, as the Partisans' National
Liberation Army advanced in the NDH, many members of the Ustasa and their families
attempted to cross Slovenia into Austria in an effort to escape Partisan vengeance.
Sajer, tape 4, 15.

206

Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 2,13.
Ibid., tape 2, 13.
JokaNikolic, "Uhvacen sam kao Rom" (I was arrested as a gypsy), in Rijeci, 8.
Ado Kabiljo, tape 2,12.
Mehmedalija Mandzukic, "Upitnik za bivse zatvorenike logora Stara Gradiska, 19411945. (Questioning of former prisoners of the Stara Gradiska camp, 1941-1945), original
document from Jasenovac, #3/86 (Linthicum: Processing Center of the USHMM,
accessed July 2001).
Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, tape 1,31.
80

Aleksandar Pavkovic,
The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism in a
Multinational State (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 37.

n1

"Dosao sam do vas..." (I came to you), Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia) (Zagreb), 14
June 1944, 1. Later in the same issue, an article described the way in which this new
national unity had led to the successful development of the culture of "CroatianMuslims." "Diljem Hrvatske: Priznanje zamjeniku Reis ul uleme" (Throughout Croatia:
Recognition of the deputy of the Reis ul-ulema). Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia) (Zagreb),
14 June 1944,5.
A German report from 1944 commented on the fact that Croatia was the only state in
Europe that had "independent" as part of its name, indicating a complete rejection of
Serbian-led Yugoslav kingdom. Der Unabhangige Staat Kroatien" (The Independent
State of Croatia), 1944 (Archives of the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and
Peace, Stanford University), 1. For a similar view of Croatian nationalism, see also
"Misli o nacionalizmu" (Thoughts about nationalism), Spremnost (Preparation) (Zagreb),
27 March 1944.
83

Jedina
nacionalna
politika"
(A single national policy), Spremnost (Preparation)
(Zagreb), 19 November 1944. Because of the Ustasa condemnation of Yugoslavism, the
newspaper Spremnost overlooked the Yugoslav orientation of the nineteenth century
figure, Franjo Racki, describing his achievements solely from the standpoint of his
contributions to Croatia. "Franjo Racki," Spremnost (Preparation) (Zagreb), 28 June
1944.

207

"Prodiranje istine" (Overrunning of the truth), Spremnost (Preparation) (Zagreb), 13


August 1944.
Der Unabhangige Staat Kroatien" (The Independent State of Croatia), 1944 (Archives
of the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University), 2.
Vjeko Afric, U danima odluka i dilemma (In the days of decisions and dilemmas)
(Beograd: Vojnoizdavacki Zavod, 1970], 25-26. Croatian historian Hrvoje Matkovic
agreed that many Croatian intellectuals felt a similar alienation from the fascist principles
of the NDH, writing that the Partisans' emphasis on "brotherhood and unity" led to the
spread of the Partisan movement throughout Croatia. Hrvoje Matkovic, Povijest
Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske: Kratak Pregled (History of the Independent State of Croatia:
A short overview) (Zagreb: Naklada Pavicic, 1994), 166.
87

"Kyje ce GpaxcxBO Hapo/ia Bocne h Xepi],eroBHHe y Baxpn HapoaHO-ocjio6oAHJiaHKe


6op6e" (The brotherhood of the peoples of Bosnia and Hercegovina is forged in the fire
of the National Liberation Struggle), October 1943, in Oslobodenje. Organ narodnooslobodilackogfronta za Bosnu i Hercegovinu. 1943 -1944. Reprint Izdanije.
(Liberation. An Organ of the National Liberation Front for Bosnia and Hercegovina.
1943 - 1944. Reprint Edition) (Sarajevo: NIP "Oslobodenje," Narodna i univerzitetska
biblioteka Bosne i Hercegovine, 1975), 1 (hereafter cited as Oslobodenje).
88

"BocHa H Xepu;eroBHHa y ^eflepaxHBHoj JyrocjiaBHjn" (Bosnia and Hercegovina in a


federal Yugoslavia), January 1944, in Oslobodenje, 1.
"The Yugoslavian Partisan Movement," 26 November 1943, 6-7, in United States
Office of Strategic Services, Germany and Its Occupied Territories during World War II
(Microfilm, University of Arizona).
Tito, "Why the People's Partisans Are Fighting," Bulletin of the General Headquarters
of the People's Liberation Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia," 19 August 1941, in Nat.
Lib. War, 94.
" "Proglas sa konferencije delegate narodnooslobodilackog pokreta Korduna i Banije
odrzane 19-20. rujna 1941. godine" (Proclamation from the conference of delegates of
the National Liberation Movement of Kordun and Banija held the 19"^-20"^ of September
1941), 19 September 1941, in Yeceslav Holjevac, Zapisi iz rodnog grada (Notes from
the City of My Birth) (Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod MH, 1972), 254-257.
For example, "Sloboda treba biti zajednicko djelo Srba i Hrvata" (Freedom should be a
common matter of Serbs and Croats), Nedeljni pregled nase stampe (Weekly overview of
our press), 3 July 1943, 1, and Zvrk [Pero Car], "Uloga hrvatskog naroda u borbi protiv
fasizma" (The role of the Croatian people in the struggle against fascism), Slavonski

208

narodnooslobodilacki partisan (Slavonian national liberation Partisan), March 1942, 8-9,


both in Izbor iz stampe narodnooslobodilackog pokreta u Slavoniji 1941-1945 (A
Selection from the Press of the National Liberation Movement in Slavonia, 1941-1945),
2nd ed. (Slavonski Brod: Historijski Institut Slavonije, 1968), 44-46, 20-21 (hereafter
cited as Izbor iz stampe NOP u Slav.).
Q-J

For example, an article in the Bosnian Partisan paper Glas (Voice) described a youth
event held in the Kljuc area on 22 August 1943 in which 1,000 Serbian and Muslim
young people participated. "OMnaflHHCKH sGop y Kibyny - flan 6paTCBa cpncKe h
MycjiHMaHCKe 0MJiaj];HHe" (The youth council in Kljuc - A day of brotherhood of Serbian
and Muslim youth), 30 August 1943, 3, in Glas. Organ NOP-a (NOF-a) za Bosansku
krajinu. 31. juli 1943 -13. januar 1945. Reprint Izdanije (Voice. An Organ of the
National Liberation Movement - National Liberation Front for Bosanska Krajina. 31
July 1943 - 13 January 1945. Reprint Edition.) (Banja Luka: Nigro Glas, 1983)
(hereafter cited as Glas).
"Hapofl i];eHTpajiHe Bocne ce 6yAH" (The people of central Bosnia awake), 7 August
1943, 3, in Glas.
Franjo Banak, "Kako odgovara hrvatski narod na ustaske zlocini i izdaju HSS-a"
(How the Croatian people respond to Ustasa atrocities and the treachery of the Croatian
Peasant Party) Glas Slavonije (Voice of Slavonija), July 1943, 2, in Izbor iz stampe NOP
u Slav., 46-47. For a similar account published the same month, see Bogdan CrnobmjaTolja, "U vatri i krvi kujemo borbeno bratstvo hrvatskog i srpskog naroda" (Croatian and
Serbian revolutionary brotherhood is forged in fire and blood), Glas Slavonije (Voice of
Slavonia), July 1943, 1-2, in Izbor iz stampe NOP u Slav., 47-50.
Central Committee of the Communist Party of Croatia, proclamation issued in midJune 1941, in
Lib. War, 57.
97

Supreme Command of the People's Liberation Partisan and Volunteer Army of


Yugoslavia, directive, February 1942, in Nat. Lib. War, 246.

OR

Tito, "The National Question In Yugoslavia in the Light of the National Liberation
War," December 1942, vciNat. Lib. War, 400.
Irvine, 139.

^"''ibid., 139.
Hebrang was purged from the Communist Party in 1948, a development which some
Croats attribute more to the maneuverings of two Serbs among the high party leadership Alexander Rankovic and Milovan Djilas - than to Hebrang's supposed pro-Soviet

209

leanings. Pavle Kalinic, epilogue to Andrija Hebrang: Svjedoci govore (Andrija


Hebrang: Eyewitnesses speak), 2"'' ed. (Zagreb: Narodne Novine, 1996).
Although the convening of this "Partisan Parliament" during the war may seem an act
of incredible audacity, the Partisans by this time had survived several major offensives by
combined German, Italian, Ustasa, and Cetnik forces and had also witnessed the
withdrawal of Italy from the Balkans. At this critical juncture in the war, the Partisans
developed a political structure to give themselves legitimacy and provided a clear
political program to attract recruits to the movement.
103 Aleksa Djilas, The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution,
1919-1953 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 158.
"Declaration on the Rights of Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," proclaimed at the
National Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1 July
1944, in Nat. Lib. War, 661.
ZAVNOH is the acronym for Zemaljsko antifasisticko vijece narodnog oslobodjenja
Hrvatske (Regional Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia).
Mile Dakic, "Srpski klub vijecnika ZAVNOH-a" (The Serbian Club of representatives
to the State Antifascist Council of the People's Liberation of Croatia), in Oslobodenje
Hrvatske 1945. godine: Zbornik {The liberation of Croatia 1945: Collection), edited by
Mira Kolar-Dimitrijevic (Zagreb: Institut za Historiju Radnickog Pokreta Hrvatske,
1986), 582.
Srpska rijec (The Serbian word), 1 November 1944, 2. Quoted by Mile Dakic, 582.
"Osniva se srpski narodno-oslobodilacki klub pri ZAVNOH-u" (A Serbian National
Liberation Club is founded at the Regional Anti-Fascist Council of the National
Liberation of Croatia), Glas Slavonije (Voice of Slavonia), December 1943, 6, in Izbor iz
stampe NOP u Slav., 206-207.
HaitHOHajiHH KOMHxex - Kama npHspeMena napoAHa BJiafla" (The National Committee
- Our provisional national government), 24 December 1943, 1-2, in Glas. See also
CyjiejMan OHjinnosHH, (Sulejman Filipovic), "MycjiHMaHH y )eAepajiHoj OCHH H
Xepi^eroBHHH" (Muslims in a federal Bosnia and Hercegovina), July 1944, 7, in
Oslobodenje.
4

"KaKO H3rjie;i;ajeflHHCTB0 HauiHX Hapo;i;a/nanai];, a KaKO je HsriteAaJio npnje" (How


the unity of our people looks today and how it looked before), 20 August 1944, 2, in
Oslobodenje.

210

' ' ' AneKcaHflap IlpeKa, (Aleksandar Preka), "3a GpaxcxBO Xpsaxa, Cp6a, h MycjiHMana"
(For the brotherhood of Croats, Serbs, and Muslims), 15 December 1943, 2, in
Oslobodenje.
"BocHa H XepiieroBHHa y (JjeAepaxHBHoj JyrocjiaBHjn" (Bosnia and Hercegovina in a
federal Yugoslavia), January 1944, 7, in Oslobodenje.
' A document prepared in December 1942 by the American Office of Strategic Services
stated that the majority of Croats preferred to have an autonomous state within a federal
Yugoslavia rather than an independent state. Probably the author reached this conclusion
since it v^as the position of the Croatian Peasant Party, which had been the most popular
party in Croatia. "The Yugoslav Survey," 1 December 1942, 46, in United States Office
of Strategic Services, Germany and Its Occupied Territories during World War II
(Microfilm, University of Arizona).
Bogdan Radica, Hrvatska 1945 (Croatia 1945) (Zagreb: Graficki Zavod Hrvatske,
1992), 29.
See Svetozar Ritig, "Govor monsinjora dra. Svetozara Ritiga na drugom zasjedanja
ZAVNOH-a" (Speech of Monsignor Dr. Svetozar Ritig at the second session of
ZAVNOH), Vjesniku Jedinstvene Narodno-oslobodilacke fronte Hrvatske (News of the
unified National Liberation Front of Croatia), 20 November 1943, 1. The Communist
Party of Yugoslavia could also point to Tito's pre-war speech on the need for Catholics
and Communists to unite against fascism and to Edvard Kardelj's wartime article
describing the Partisans' fair treatment of the Christian churches of Bosnia. Josip Broz
Tito, "Komunisti i katolici" (Communists and Catholics), Proleteru (To the Proletariat),
December 1936, 3-4. Edvard Kardelj, "Komunistickapartija, vjera i crkva" (Communist
Party, faith, and the church), in Edvard Kardelj, Put nove Jugoslavije 1941-1945: Clanci
i govori iz Narodnooslobodilacke borbe 1941-1945 (The way of a new Yugoslavia;
Articles and speeches from the National Liberation Struggle 1941-1945) (n.p.: Kultura,
1949), 315-320. All three articles/speeches were reprinted in Katolicko Svecenstvo u
NOB-u 1941-1945 (Catholic clergy in the National Liberation War, 1941-1945), edited
by Ciril Petesic (Zagreb: OOUR Vjesnikova Press Agency, 1982).
"S novim oruzem u nove borbe" (With new weapons in a new struggle), Naprijed
(Forward) (Zagreb), 24 November 1943; 1.
"Jos jedan zlocinac priveden je kazni" (Yet another war criminal brought to justice),
Naprijed (Forward) (Zagreb), 3 February 1944; 6.
"Ustaska banda dovela je hrvatsku privredu na rub propasti" (Ustasa band brings the
Croatian economy to the brink of destruction), Naprijed (Forward) (Zagreb), 3 February
1944: 5.

211

Marijan Stilinovic, "Upoznajmo siroke narodne slojeve s odlukama AVNOJ-a i


ZAVNOH-a" (We become acquainted with the wide national strata from the decisions of
AVNOJ and ZAVNOH), Naprijed (Forward) (Zagreb), 21 August 1944: 2, and Marijan
Stilinovic, "Dvije znacajne odluke predsjednistva Zemaljskog antifasistickog vijeca
narodnog oslobodenja Hrvatske" (Two significant decisions of the presidency of the
Regjional Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia), Naprijed
(Forward) (Zagreb), 11 September 1944: 3.
Tito, "Speech Delivered in Liberated Zagreb," 21 May 1945, inNat. Lib. War, 726.
Ibid., 727.
Zemaljska komisija Hrvatske za utvrdivanje zlocina okupatora i njegovih pomagaca
(The Land Commission of Croatia for the Determination of the Crimes of the Occupiers
and Their Assistants), directive, 3 February 1945, in Zemaljsko antifasisticko vijece
narodnog oslobodenja Hrvatske. Zbornik dokumenata 1945 (Land Anti-Fascist Council
of the People's Liberation of Croatia: Collection of documents, 1945) (Zagreb: Insitut za
historiju radnickog pokreta Hrvatske, 1985), 136-139 (hereafter cited as ZAVNOH).
\0'\

Ministarstvo socijalne politike NVH, "Uputstvo o davanju pomoci porodicama, kojih


se hranioci nalaze u zarobljenistvu" (Directions on giving aid to the families whose
breadwinners were imprisoned), 23, April 1945, m ZAVNOH, 641-644.
ZAVNOH, "Odluku o zastiti nacionalne casti Hrvata i Srba u Hrvatskoj" (Decision on
the defense of the national honor of Croats and Serbs in Croatia), 24 April 1945, in
ZAVNOH, 650-653.
Aleksa Djilas, 143.

212

Chapter 9 - Conclusion
Robert H. Abzug, an American researcher who described the American liberation of
Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Austria, wrote:
Naive Americans who thought that the camp experience might bring a certain
unity and spirit of tolerance were puzzled to find that it seemed to have bred quite
opposite traits. Though survivors all, Germans still looked down upon Russians
and Poles; Poles still hated the Jews; and everyone seemed to despise Gypsies....
The onetime prisoners clustered in national and religious groups and complained,
often justly, about unequal treatment.'
In fact, in various parts of Europe, hostility between ethnic groups continued unabated
even after the war. In Poland, for example, where the horrors of the Nazi concentration
camps were most evident, sporadic attacks against the Jews continued, such as the
pogrom in the tovwi of Kielce in which Catholic Poles killed 42 Jews in 1946. Evidently,
the experience of a world war and the Holocaust had done little to lessen the ethnic
divisions that were endemic in European society. However, during the course of the war,
something very different happened in the Jasenovac camp and in Croatia and Bosnia in
general; a sense of "unity and spirit of tolerance" developed that spanned ethnic and
religious differences. Yugoslavism, the ideology of the unity of all South Slavic peoples
in the region, prevailed over the narrow interpretation of Croatian nationalism
represented by the Ustasa. Why should this have been the case in the NDH when it was
not in other parts of Europe? Why should Yugoslav nationalism have triumphed in the
Croatian camps and throughout Croatian society when the Ustasa took strong actions to
prevent it and to encourage divisions among the various ethnic groups?
One of the reasons is that Yugoslavism had deeper roots in the NDH than the Ustasa
cared to admit. We have seen that intermarriage among ethnic groups was quite common

213

in interwar Yugoslavia. For example, Jewish prisoner Josef Grossepais-Gil had Croatian
in-laws, while another Jew, Eduard Sajer, had a Bosnian Muslim brother-in-law.
Cedomil Ruber's parents and grandparents came from many different ethnic
backgrounds, and Ljiljana Ivanisevic's rescuer was a Croatian man with a Serbian son-inlaw. In fact, most people in the NDH had relatives, friends, or colleagues from another
ethnic group. The interconnectedness of the various groups made it more difficult for the
Ustasa's restrictive version of Croatian nationalism to gain a large following within the
NDH.
Public awareness of Ustasa atrocities further eroded popular support for national
particularism as the war progressed. A significant number of Croatians and Bosnian
Muslims came to oppose Ustasa brutality by offering assistance to friends or relatives
targeted by the regime, illegally hiding victims of persecution or helping them escape
from the country, providing food to prisoners in the concentration camps, or, on a few
occasions, publicly protesting the government's discriminatory measures. As the war
continued, increasing numbers of people turned against Ante Pavelic's government and
joined Tito's Partisan resistance movement.
Within the concentration camps as well, prisoners of different ethnic and religious
backgrounds came together in food sharing and newsgathering cooperatives in a common
effort to survive. This mutual interdependence was such a significant part of the
prisoners' experience in the camps that many survivors noted that their affinity for people
of other ethnic groups became a permanent part of their lives after the war ended. One
Jewish survivor. Bozo Svarc, later commented that his close ties to the Serbs during his

214

years in Jasenovac contributed to the fact that both of his marriages were to Serbian
women. A Serb, Ivanisevic, felt that the special bond shared by survivors of Jasenovac
continued even after the war, for survivors from all ethnic groups always remained one
-J

family because of their common experiences in the camps. Mihajlo Marie, another
Serbian who had been imprisoned in Jasenvoac, reflecting on the new wave of genocide
and ethnic violence that engulfed the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, remarked that the
world would be a better place if all the ethnic groups got along the way they had in
4

Jasenovac. Thus, for the concentration camp survivors, their experience in the camps
altered their outlook, either bringing about or completing their transformation into
Yugoslavs.
The Ustasa terror, by alienating many Croats and Bosnians and by bringing the
persecuted minorities together in a common effort to survive, also contributed to the
spread of the Partisan movement throughout the NDH and to the movement's adoption of
a specific program of national unity. During the years 1941-1945, ever increasing
numbers of people joined the Partisans, perceiving their all-Yugoslav orientation as an
alternative to the cycle of ethnic violence and reprisals perpetrated by the Croatian
nationalist Ustasa and their Serbian nationalist rivals, the Cetniks. As their popularity
grew, the Partisans expanded their political goals to incorporate new guarantees of
national equality within the country, beginning with the endorsement of federalism

proclaimed during the second session of AVNOJ. Thus, Yugoslavism triumphed over the
Serbian domination of the prewar Yugoslav kingdom and the Croatian particularism of
the NDH.

Recently, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, leading many historians of
World War II to discount the importance of Yugoslavism and to focus instead on wartime
manifestations of national exclusivity as more relevant to the modern experience of
Croatian secession from Yugoslavia and the ethnic violence that engulfed Bosnia and
Croatia in the 1990s. However, such a narrow focus ignores an equally important, and
somehow paradoxical truth: along with the great cultural divides separating the various
South Slavic peoples from one another, there have always been strong bonds which have
united them and which continue to unite them today.

216

Notes to Chapter 9
' Robert H. Abzug, Inside the Vicious Heart (New York: Oxford University Press,
1985), 145.
^ Bozo Svarc, interview by Jasa Almuli, 24 June 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 2,13.
^ Ljiljana Ivanisevic, interview by Jasa Almuli, 19 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia,
transcript of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Archives, 1997), tape 2, 12.
Mihajlo Marie, interview by Jasa Almuli, 9 July 1997, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, transcript
of tape recording (Washington D.C.: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, 1997),
tape 2, 2-3.

217

EPILOGUE

On 30 November 1943, nearly a year and a half before the end of the war,
representatives at the second session of AVNOJ created the State Commission for the
Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their Collaborators (Drzavna
Komisija za Utvrdenje Zlocina Okupatora i Njegovih Pomagaca). This commission
would determine which acts would be considered war crimes, decide what kind of proof
to accept, work with the government to collect testimony, keep statistical records, publish
the results of their work, and cooperate with the government in bringing the perpetrators
to justice.' Over the next several years, the war crimes commission worked to bring
Ustasa leaders and camp guards to justice.
The fate of the leaders in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) varied. Ante
Pavelic, the top Ustasa leader, fled to Italy and then to Argentina. After an assassination
attempt in 1957, he fled to fascist Spain, where he died in 1959. Another minister in the
NDH, Milovan Zanic, also fled to Italy but died in a refugee camp there in 1946.
Partisans killed Mladen Lorkovic, the Croatian minister of internal affairs for much of the
war, in April 1945, while Eugen-Dido Kvatemik, the head of the secret police, escaped to
Argentina, only to be killed there in 1962. Andrija Artukovic, minister of justice and
religion, fled to the United States, and the Yugoslav government spent the next thirty-five
years arguing for his extradition. He was returned to Zagreb in 1986 but died in a prison
hospital two years later. One Jasenovac commander, Ljubo Milos, was hanged in 1948,
while another, Vjekoslav-Maks Luburic, escaped to Spain and lived the rest of his life as
a Catholic priest in that country. The controversial head of the Croatian Catholic Church,

218

Alojzije Stepinac, died of leukemia in I960? Thus, the war crimes commission was
unable to bring many important NDH officials to justice, at least in the years immediately
following the war.
During more than four decades of Communist rule, Yugoslav historians avoided
analyzing the subject of the wartime genocide in Croatia and Bosnia, either ignoring the
subject completely or dismissing the killing as the work of invading countries and their
fascist supporters in the NDH. As early as May 1944, a year before the end of World
War II, an article from the Croatian newspaper Vjesnik (Gazette) put the blame for
wartime atrocities on Italian and German troops, who had allegedly incited fratricidal
violence in order to use the "divide and conquer" technique to control the area. Along
with the theme of foreign instigation of genocide came a reluctance to discuss ethnic
conflict as contributing to the persecution. Although non-Yugoslav scholars began to use
the term 'Holocaust' soon after the war ended to describe the persecution of Jews and
other noncombatants during the war, the term was not used in Yugoslav historical
writings. In fact, Yugoslav historians rarely mentioned the persecution of the Jews in
their country in any context. The tone was set by the war crimes commission, which in
March 1945 cited the persecution of Serbs and "progressive Croats," not mentioning the
concurrent persecution of Jews and Roma in Croatia.'^ Forty years later, Yugoslav
prosecutors at the trial of Andrija Artukovic accused him of unspecified "war crimes,"
again avoiding reference to official policies in the NDH that targeted people because of
their ethnicity.^ The reason for this avoidance is obvious: the post-war government of
Yugoslavia, struggling to create a united country, feared any mention of wartime

219

genocide would precipitate renewed ethnic conflict. As the Serbian historian Milan
Bulajic wrote after the beginning of a new round of conflict in the 1990s, leaders of
communist Yugoslavia "covered with concrete" any mention of the atrocities in the
NDH, using the slogan of "brotherhood and unity" to justify their silence.
For a government that wished to avoid free discussion of the genocide in the NDH, the
existence of the remains of the Jasenovac camp was an embarrassment. Camp buildings
were not preserved, and peasants from nearby villages used bricks from ruined camp
buildings to rebuild their homes. Not until twenty years later, in 1965, was a monument
established at the site of the camp, and it was another several years before Yugoslav
authorities added a museum to the Jasenovac Memorial Park.' Following the
establishment of a new Republic of Croatia in 1991, the Croatian government considered
the Jasenovac Memorial to be an embarrassing reminder of the excesses of earlier
Croatian nationalists.^ Therefore, in September 1991, Croatian paramilitary units took
over Jasenovac, closing the memorial and attempting to destroy the books, documents,
and exhibits housed in the museum.^ As mentioned earlier, the United States Holocaust
Museum became involved in preserving the materials. Hopefully, a new memorial will
be established at Jasenovac as a reminder of the suffering that ethnic hatred can bring.

220

Notes to the Epilogue


' "Drzavna Komisija za Utvrdenje Zlocina Okupatora i Njegovih Pomagaca" (The State
Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their
Collaborators), in Dokumenti iz istorije Jugoslavije: Drzavna Komisija za Utvrdenje
Zlocina Okupatora i Njegovih Pomagaca iz Drugog Svetskog Rata (Documents from the
history of Yugoslavia: The State Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the
Occupiers and Their Collaborators from the Second World War), edited by Miodrag
Zecevic and Jovan P. Popovic (Beograd: ZAD, 1996), 21 (hereafter cited as Dok. iz
istorije Jug.).
^ For a full list of important figures and their fates, see Aleksandar Vojinovic, Ante
Pavelic ( Zagreb: Centar za Informacije i Publicitet, 1968), 361-376.
^ "Sabor slobodne i ujedinjene Hrvatske" (Parliament of a free and united Croatia),
Vjesnik (Gazette), 25 May 1944, in Andrija Hebrang: Svjedoci govore (Anrija Hebrang:
Eyewitnesses Speak), edited by Pavle Kalinic, 2"'' ed. (Zagreb: Narodne Novine, 1996),
129-132.
^ "Saopstenje Br. 33" (Announcement number 33), 2 March 1945, in Dok. iz istorije Jug.,
131. Non-Yugoslav historians, on the other hand, took the opposite approach: describing
only the ill treatment of Jews and Roma in the Independent State of Croatia, while
ignoring that of the Serbs.
^ Milan Bulajic, Genocide of the Serbs, Jews, and Gipsies in the Ustashi Independent
State of Croatia (Belgrade: n.p., 1991), 6.
^ Ibid., 7.
7

The monument was a typical, communist-era construction commemorating the victims


who died during the war. The museum contained the documents and artifacts that the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum later brought to the United States.
^ As noted earlier, the first president of Croatia after it became independent in 1991 was
Franjo Tudman, who had written a book denying Croatian guilt for some of the atrocities
at Jasenovac.
^ Milan Bulajic, Tudjman's "Jasenovac Myth": Ustasha Crimes of Genocide (Belgrade:
Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia, 1992), 96.

221

Appendix: List of Abbreviations

Abbreviations used in the text:


AVNOJ - Antifasisticko vece narodnog oslobodenja Jugoslavije [Anti-Fascist
Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia] - "Partisan Parliament"
CPY - Communist Party of Yugoslavia
NDH - Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska [Independent State of Croatia]
NOV - narodnooslobodilacka vojska [National Liberation Army] - the Partisan military
SKOJ - Savez komunisticke omladine Jugoslavije [Union of Communist Youth of
Yugoslavia]
USHMM - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
ZAVNOH - Zemaljsko antifasisticko vijece narodnog oslobodjenja Hrvatske [Regional
Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia]

Abbreviations used in the endnotes:


Anti-Semitism - Anti-Semitism Holocaust Anti-Fascism, edited by Ivo Goldstein and
Narcisa Lengel BCrizman (Zagreb: Jewish Community, 1997).
Concentration Camp Records - Lobor Grad, Gornja Rijeka, Jasenovac, Kruscica, and
Kupar: Concentration Camp Records (Microfilm, USHMM Archives).
Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yug. Peoples - Federation of Jewish Communities
in Yugoslavia, Records Relating to Crimes against Serbs, Jews, and other Yugoslav
Peoples during World War II, 1941-1943 Reports, Lists, Orders (microfiche, USHMM
Archives).
Crimes of Ger. Occ. - Documents on the Crimes of the German Occupation Forces
against the Peoples of Yugoslavia during World War II, Collection of the Federation of
Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia (Microfiche, USHMM Archives).
Djecji dom - Djecji dam Jastrebarsko: Dokumenti, 1939-1947. (The Jastrebarsko
children's home: Documents 1939-1947), edited by Ciril Petesic (Zagreb: Krscanska
Sadasnjost, 1991).

222

Dok. iz istorije Jug. - Dokumenti iz istorije Jugoslavije: Drzavna Komisija za Utvrdenje


Zlocina Okupatora i Njegovih Pomagaca iz Drugog Svetskog Rata (Documents from the
history of Yugoslavia: The State Conmiission for the Determination of War Crimes of the
Occupiers and Their Collaborators from the Second World War), edited by Miodrag
Zecevic and Jovan P. Popovic (Beograd: ZAD, 1996).
Ger. Field Commands - Records of German Field Commands: Rear Areas, Occupied
Territories, and Others (microfilm, United States National Archives).
Ger. For. Policy - Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. 13
(Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1964).
Glas - Glas. Organ NOP-a (NOF-a) za Bosansku krajinu. 31. juli 1943 - 13. januar
1945. Reprint Izdanije (Voice. An Organ of the National Liberation Movement National Liberation Front for Bosanska Krajina. 31 July 1943 - 13 January 1945.
Reprint Edition) (Banja Luka: Nigro Glas, 1983).
H. u arhiv. izbjeglicke vlade - Hrvatska u arhivima izbjeglicke vlade 1941-1943: Izvestaji
informatora a prilikama u Hrvatskoj (Croatia in the archives of the Govemment-In-Exile
1941-1943: reports on conditions in Croatia), edited by Ljubo Boban (Zagreb: Globus,
1985).
Izbor iz stampe NOP u Slav. - Izbor iz stampe narodnooslobodilackogpokreta u Slavoniji
1941-1945. (A Selection from the Press of the National Liberation Movement in
Slavonia, 1941-1945), 2nd ed. (Slavonski Brod: Historijski Institut Slavonije, 1968)
Kon. log. Jasenovac - Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac, 1941-1945. Dokumenta (The
Jasenovac concentration camp, 1941-1945), compiled by Antun Miletic (Beograd:
Narodna Knjiga, 1986).
Land Commission - The Land Commission of the People's Republic of Croatia for the
Determination of Crimes of the Occupiers and their Collaborators, 1944-1947, Croatian
National Archives, Zagreb (microfilm, USHMM Archives).
Loesch files - Karl Christian von Loesch, files (Archives of the Hoover Institution on
War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University).
Nat. Lib. War - The National Liberation War and Revolution in Yugoslavia (1941-1945):
Selected Documents (Beograd: Military History Institute of the Yugoslav People's Army,
1982).
Occup. ofYug. - Federation of Jewish Commimities in Yugoslavia, Records Relating to
the Occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II, 1940-1947: Orders, Announcements,
Reports, Lists, Memoranda (Microfiche, USHMM Archives).

223

Oslobodenje - Oslobodenje. Organ narodno-oslobodilackogfronta za Bosnu i


Hercegovinu. 1943 -1944. Reprint Izdanije (Liberation. An Organ of the National
Liberation Front for Bosnia and Hercegovina. 1943 - 1944. Reprint Edition) (Sarajevo:
NIP "Oslobodenje," Narodna i univerzitetska biblioteka Bosne i Hercegovine, 1975).
Propovijedi - Alojzije Stepinac, Propovijedi, govori, poruke, 1941-1946 (Sermons,
speeches, messages, 1941-1946) (Zagreb: AGM, 1996).
Rescue Attempts - Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad
Vashem International Historical Conference, edited by Yisrael Gutman and Efraim
Zuroff (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1977).
Rijeci - Rijeci koje nisu zaklane (Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan
Trivuncic (Jasenovac: Spomen-podrucje, 1977).
Secanja Jevreja - Secanja Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews in the
Jasenovac camp), compiled by Dusan Sindik (Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina
Jugoslavije, 1972).
Uncertain Refuge - Nicola Caracciolo, Uncertain Refuge: Italy and the Jews during the
Holocaust, translated and edited by Florette Rechnitz Koffler and Richard Koffler
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995).
Ustasa - Ustasa: Dokumenti o ustaskom pokretu (Ustasa: Documents of the Ustasa
movement), edited by Petar Pozar (Zagreb: Zagrebacka Stvarnost, 1995).
ZAVNOH - Zemaljsko antifasisticko vijece narodnog oslobodenja Hrvatske. Zbornik
dokumenata 1945 (Land Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Croatia:
Collection of documents, 1945) (Zagreb: Insitut za historiju radnickog pokreta Hrvatske,
1985).
Zlocini - Zlocini Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske, 1941.-1945 (Atrocities in the Independent
State of Croatia). Vol. 1 of Zlocini na jugoslovenskim prostorima u prvom i drugom
svetskom ratu: Zbornik dokumenata (Atrocities on Yugoslav territories in the First and
Second World Wars: A collection of documents), compiled by Slavko Vukcevic
(Beograd: Vojnoistorijski Institut, 1993).

224

WORKS CITED:
UNPUBLISHED SOURCES/ARCHIVAL MATERIAL

Original (Hard-Copy) Documents:


Jasenovac collection:
The following documents were originally in the archives at the Jasenovac memorial in
Croatia. The Yugoslav government had established a memorial at the site of the
Jasenovac concentration camp to commemorate the victims who died there. However,
with the establishment of an independent Croatia in the 1990s, the new government
feared that Serbs would use the memorial to show Croatian nationalism in an unfavorable
light and decided to close the memorial to the camp. According to Sanja Primorac, the
representative of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) responsible
for bringing the Jasenovac collection to the United States, historians feared that valuable
historical records would be destroyed. To preserve the documents and artifacts, an
archivist employed at the Jasenovac memorial packed them into boxes and hid them in
the basement of a house located near the Croatian coast, while the Serbs and Croats
argued bitterly about their fate. The United States Holocaust Museum eventually
negotiated a solution, offering to take possession of all artifacts and documents for one
year, organize and catalog them, and then help the Croatian government to set up an
appropriate memorial to the victims of Jasenovac. I accessed the original documents, at
the museum's processing center in Linthicum, Maryland, in July 2001, eight months after
Sanja Primorac had begun organizing them. Unfortunately, many of the documents'
identifying labels had been lost in the hasty move out of Jasenovac.
Ana-Madika, Janella. "Sjecanja Janelle Ane-Madike" (Memories of Janella AnaMadika).
Anonymous documents. Documents lacking information on the informant or the date of
the testimony.
Bajraktarevic, Meho. Summary of the testimonies of three Bosnian Muslim formerinmates of Jasenovac. Undated. Document # 3/86.
Cesal, Vladimir. Testimony. 4 August 1988.
Delic-Sitin, Nikolina. Memories of Jasenovac. Undated. Document #6.
Dolamic, Hasan. "Upitnik za bivse zatvorenike logora Stara Gradiska, 1941-1945"
(Questioning of former prisoners of the Stara Gradiska camp, 1941-1945). 23 November
1977.

225

Dukic, Ivan. Testimony to the Committee for the Arrangement of the Memorial Museum
"Kula" in the Former Ustasa Camp Stara Gradiska. 11 July 1977. Document #11/86.
Herman, Antun. Testimony given in Zagreb. Undated.
Mandzukic, Mehmedalija. "Upitnik za bivse zatvorenike logora Stara Gradiska, 19411945 (Questioning of former prisoners of the Stara Gradiska camp, 1941-1945).
Undated. Docviment #3/86.
Vargas-Klajn, Manda. Testimony. Undated.
"Zlata Segvic." Testimony by an anonymous woman about Segvic's contributions to the
Partisan efforts in the camps. Undated.

Written Transcripts of Taped Interviews of Jasenovac Survivors, the Jeff and Toby
Herr Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives, Washington
D.C.:
The following are the written transcripts of interviews with Jasenovac survivors
conducted in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in June and July 1997 by Jasa Almuli on behalf of
the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Each interview lasted
several hours and covered a wide spectrum of topics. The USHMM had commissioned
the interviews due to the controversy surrounding the allegations of former Croatian
president Franjo Tudman that Jewish group leaders had been involved in the persecution
of Serbs in the camp. Therefore, the interviewer questioned each informant in depth
about the relationship of various ethnic groups within the camps. Almuli interviewed
both Serbian and Jewish survivors.
Despot, Milo. Interviewed 26 July 1997. Transcript of 2 audiocassettes.
Erlih, Josip. Interviewed 27 June 1997. Transcript of 3 audiocassettes.
Huber, Cedomil. Interviewed 7 July 1997. Transcript of 5 audiocassettes.
Ivanisevic, Ljiljana. Mistakenly catalogued as Ibvanisevic. Interviewed 19 July 1997.
Transcript of 2 audiocassettes.
Kabiljo, Ado. Interviewed 11 July 1997. Transcript of 2 audiocassettes.
Marie, Mihajlo. Interviewed 9 July 1997. Transcript of 3 audiocassettes.
Petrovic, Sava. Interviewed 12 July 1997. Transcript of 3 audiocassettes.
Sajer, Eduard. Interviewed 28 June 1997. Transcript of 5 audiocassettes.

226

Svarc, Bozo. Interviewed 24 June 1997. Transcript of 3 audiocassettes.


Vejnovic, Mara . Mistakenly catalogued as Vejnovis. Interviewed 17 July 1997.
Transcript of 3 audiocassettes.

Documents from Microform Collections:


"Arnold." Report in a file by an unknown author, identified only as "Arnold."
Archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford
University, Palo Alto, California.
Although no information is available on the author, this file contains reports, apparently
written for the German government on the NDH.
"Der Unabhangige Staat Kroatien" (The Independent State of Croatia). 1944.

Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Records Relating to Crimes against


Serbs, Jews, and Other Yugoslav Peoples during World War II, 1941-1943: Reports,
Lists, Orders. Microfiche group. USHMM Archives:
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia gathered these documents from
various archives in Europe and the United States. The material comprises two large
groups of microfiche in the USHMM Archives.
"Desetodnevni izvestaj stozera Vrbaskog divizijskog podrucja" (Ten-Day report of the
chief officer of the Vrbaska Territorial Division). 29 July 1941.
Italian command. Report from the Bosnian frontier. 20 July 1941.
"Obavjestajni izvjestaj zatrecu deseticu od 19-29. srpnja 1941 godine zapovjedniku
kopnene vojske Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske" (Informational report for the third ten-day
period from the 19"* - 29"^ of July 1941 to the commander of the ground forces of the
Independent State of Croatia). 29 July 1941.
Zapovjednictvo II. domobranskog zbora (The command of the 2"*^ Civil Defense
Company). Report. 1-15 June 1942.

Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Records Relating to the


Occupation of Yugoslavia during World War II, 1940-1947: Orders, Announcements,
Reports, Lists, Memoranda. Microfiche group. USHMM Archives:
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia gathered these documents, which
were created by Italian occupation forces during World War II and were kept in the

Ill

Yugoslav Foreign Office in Italy. Copies of the Italian documents, translated into SerboCroatian, are stored in the Yugoslav Archives in Belgrade, and microfiche copies of these
records are found in the USHMM Archives.
Memorandum on Jasenovac, 29 May 1947.
Ministarstvo Bogostovija i Nastave (Ministry of Religion and Education). Report. 16
May 1941.
Mjestno Zapovjednictvo Zemun (Local commandant at Zemun). Report. 14 July 1942.
Oglas (Public notice). 22 September 1941
"Povjerenistvu za Bosnu i Hercegovinu prosvjetnom odjelu" (Regulation of the Ministry
of Religion and Education for Bosnia and Hercegovina). 16 May 1941.
Radelj, Slavko. Statement before a Zagreb commission. 21 May 1947.
"Ravnateljstvo ustaskog redarstva" (Circular of the Ustasa police), Zagreb. Circular. 23
July 1941.
Report of the State Commission for Determining Crimes by the Occupying Forces. N.p.,
n.d.
"Strijeljanje daljnjih 87 Zidova i komunista" (The execution of 87 more Jews and
Communists). 5 August 1941.
Ustasa. "Pravila Organizacije" (Rules of the organization). N.p., n.d.
"Ustaski Stan pozega opcinskom poglavarstvu Velika" (Regulation of the Ministry of
Religion and Education for Bosnia and Hercegovina). 13 May 1941.
"Ustav Ustaske Hrvatskog oslobodilackog pokreta" (Charter of the Ustasa Croatian
Freedom Movement). Originally published in "Ustasa," a private pamphlet, Zagreb,
1941.
"Zakonsku odredbu o drzavljanstvu" (Legal ordinance on citizenship). 30 April 1941.
"Zakonsku odredbu o rasnoj pripadnosti" (Legal ordinance on racial classification). 30
April 1941.
"Zidovske znakove moraju nositi svi Zidovi" (All Jews must wear Jewish markings).
Hrvatski Narod (New Croatia) (Zagreb), 22 May 1941.

228

The Friedrich Katz collection. Archives of the Hoover Institution on War,


Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
Newspaper clipping from Neue Ordnung (New order), a German-language newspaper
published in Zagreb during the Second World War.
Stotzer, A. N. "Stellung des Volksdeutschtums in Kroatien" (The position of the
Volksdeutsche in Croatia). 23 August 1942.

The Karl Christian von Loesch collection. Archives of the Hoover Institution on
War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California:
Karl von Loesch was the Secretary of the German Legation in Croatia and an interpreter
attached to the German foreign minister's secretariat during World War II. He was a
German professor, who was an expert on Croatia. Box 8 and 9 in his extensive collection
of materials contain extremely detailed reports on the history, government, economy,
education, and social conditions in the NDH as well as an extensive file of newspaper
clippings from German-language and Croatian-language publications.
Military report on the NDH. 1 November 1942.
"Das Muselmanishe Problem in Kroatien: Bosnien und der Herzegowina" (The Muslim
problem in Croatia: Bosnia and Hercegovina). 26 May 1943.
"Riickblick auf das vergangene Jahr 1944" (A look back at the past year 1944). January
1945.
"Die Wahrheit uber Dalmatien" (The truth about Dalmatia). September 1942.
Untitled 88- page report on the military in Croatia. November 1942.

Kraljevina Jugoslavia, Opstina Drzavna Statistika, Definitivni Rezultati Popisa


Stanovnistva (Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Office of State Statistics, definitive results of
a census of the population). Microfilm group. University of Texas, Austin.
This document, issued by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1937, gives the official results
of the census of 1931.

Lobor Grad, Gornja Rijeka, Jasenovac, Kruscica, and Kupar: Concentration Camp
Records. Microfilm group. USHMM Archives:
This collection of documents comes from the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, record
group 2.1.1, and comprises two microfilm reels. The USHMM selected the records for
filming in 1997, and the Croatian State Archives filmed the chosen documents.

229

Drustvo Hrvatska Zena (Croatian Women's Society). "Ocitovanje o Eli Kaufer Igizeli
Herzog" (Declaration on Eli Kaufer Igizeli Herzog). 4 September 1941.
Stem, Karlo. "Molba za pustnje iz logora" (Request for release from the camp). 15
October 1941.
Ustaski redarstva zidovski odsjek (Ustasa police's Jewish division). "Kazalo" (Index),
n.d..
Zidovska Bogostovna Opcina u Zagrebu Zidovskim Bogostovnim Opcinama (The Jewish
Religious Regional Office in Zagreb to the Jewish Regional Offices). Letter. 8 July
1941.

Naprijed (Forward) (Zagreb).


This was the official (underground) newspaper of the Communist Party of Croatia during
the war. Copies of the newspaper are located in the Hoover Institution on War,
Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
"Jos jedan zlocinac priveden je kazni" (Yet another war criminal brought to justice). 3
February 1944. 6.
"S novim oruzem u nove borbe" (With new weapons in a new struggle). 24 November
1943. 1.
Stilinovic, Marijan. "Dvije znacajne odluke predsjednistva Zemaljskog antifasistickog
vijeca narodnog oslobodenja Hrvatske" (Two significant decisions of the presidency of
the Regjional Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia). 11 September
1944. 3.
Stilinovic, Marijan. "Upoznajmo siroke narodne slojeve s odlukama AVNOJ-a i
ZAVNOH-a" (We become acquainted with the wide national strata from the decisions of
AVNOJ and ZAVNOH). 21 August 1944. 2.
"Ustaska banda dovela je hrvatsku privredu na rub propasti" (Ustasa band brings the
Croatian economy to the brink of destruction). 3 February 1944. 5.

Neue Ordnung (The new order) (Zagreb).


This was a German-language newspaper published in the NDH. Many clippings from
this newspaper, labeled and organized, are found in the Friedrich Katz collection, Part 3,
Box 12, in the archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace,
Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

230

Stotzer, A.N. "Stellung des Volksdeutschtums in Kroatien" (Tlie position of the native
German population in Croatia). 23 August 1942.

Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia) (Zagreb).


This was a pro-government newspaper published in the Independent State of Croatia
during its existence. Copies of the newspaper are located in the Hoover Institution on
War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
"Diljem Hrvatske: Priznanje zamjeniku Reis ul uleme" (Throughout Croatia: Recognition
of the deputy of the Reis ul ulema). 14 Jime 1944. 5.
"Dosao sam do vas..." (I came to you). 14 June 1944. 1.

Records of German Field Commands: Rear Areas, Occupied Territories, and


Others. Microfilm group. United States National Archives, Washington D.C.
Glaise von Horstenau, Edmund. Report of 13 September 1941 to the German high
command. Micro. No. T-501, Roll 264, Frames 1368-1369.
Glaise von Horstenau, Edmund. Report of 4 November 1941 to theGerman high
command. Micro. No. T-501, Roll 267, Frames 664-665.

Spremnost (Preparation) (Zagreb).


This was a Croatian-language Ustasa newspaper published in the NDH. Many clippings
from this newspaper, labeled and organized, are found in the Karl von Loesch collection.
Box 9, in the archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford
University, Palo Alto, California. Karl Christian von Loesch was a German professor
specializing in Croatia, who wrote reports and collected information on the NDH during
its existence.
"Franjo Racki." 28 June, 1944.
"Jedina nacionalna politika" (A single national policy). 19 November 1944.
"Misli o nacionalizmu" (Thoughts about nationalism). 27 March 1944.
"50.000 gradanskih zivota" (50,000 citizen's lives). 17 October 1944.
"Prodiranje istine" (Overrurming of the truth). 13 August 1944.

231

The State Commission for the Determination of Crimes Committed by the Occupiers
and their Supporters in the People's Republic of Croatia, 1944-1947. Microfilm
group. USHMM Archives:
This collection of documents comes from the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, record
group 2.1.8, and comprises five microfilm reels. The USHMM selected the records for
filming in 1997 and received the microfilm reels in February 1998.
Anonymous report. 1 October 1945.
Artukovic, Andrija. "Politicko-upravne prilike" (Political-administrative conditions).
Speech given in 1942.
Berger, Egon. Testimony. 10 May 1945.
Bing, Julio. Testimony. 18 May 1945
Danon, Jakica. Testimony. 19 June 1945.
Danon, Jakob. Testimony. 26 May 1945.
Federov, Nikolaj. Boljsevizam i Zidovstvo: upovodu 25 godisnjice ruske revolucije 1917
-1942 (Bolshevism and Judaism: On the occasion of the 25"^ anniversary of the Russian
Revolution 1917 - 1942). N.p, 1942.
"Pogibiia Zidova u Hrvatskoj" (The destruction of the Jews in Croatia). Testimony. 10
October 1945.
Pollak, Milan. Testimony. 2 April 1947.
"Protiv Zidova treba poduzeti najstroze mjere" (The strictest measures must be
undertaken against the Jews). Hrvatski Narod (New Croatia) (Zagreb), April 1941.
Schwarz, Gjuro. Testimony. 10 October 1945.
Svarc, Bozo. Testimony. 17 July 1945.
"Tko je stvorio bivsu drzavu" (Who created the former state). Nova Hrvatska [New
Croatia] (Zagreb), 3 May 1942.
Vinski, Dr. Pavle. Testimony. 7 September 1945.
Zelic, Ksenija. Testimony in the office of the Jewish Union in Split, Croatia. 8 June
1945.

232

Zidovska Bogostovna Obcina (Jewish Religious Union), Osijek, Croatia. Report. 8


November 1941.
"Zidovsko ce se pitanje radikalno rijesiti" (The Jewish question will be radically solved).
Hrvatski Narod (New Croatia) (Zagreb), 6 May 1941.

"Der Unabhangige Staat Kroatien" (The Independent State of Croatia). Archives of


the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Palo
Alto, California:
This file by an unknown author (labeled "Arnold") contains this German report, dated
1944, about developments in the Independent State of Croatia.

United States Office of Strategic Services, Germany and Its Occupied Territories
during World War 11. Microfilm group. University of Arizona, Tucson.
This is a 22-reel collection of reports issued by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
during World War II. Most of the reports on Yugoslavia are found on Reel 22 and date
from 1942. Each report is highly detailed, sometimes more than one hundred pages in
length and including many maps and tables.
"Population Movements in Yugoslavia." 30 June 1943.
"The Yugoslavian Partisan Movement." 26 November 1943.
"The Yugoslav Survey." 1 December 1942.

The Ustasa Ministry of Internal Affairs of Independent State of Croatia Records, 19411945. Microfilm group. USHMM Archives:
This collection of documents comes from the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, record
group 2.1.9, and comprises three microfilm reels. The USHMM selected the records for
filming in 1997 and received the microfilm reels in February 1998.
Ravnateljstvo ustaskog redarstva (Directorate of the Ustasa police), Zagreb. Report. 24
March 1942.
"Uputa za sastav izjave o rasnoj pripadnosti" (Instructions for the composition of a
statement on racial affiliation). Undated.

233

WORKS CITED:
PUBLISHED PRIMARY SOURCES

Book-Length Eyewitness Accounts:


Afric, Vjeko. U danima odluka i dilemma (In the days of decisions and dilemmas).
Beograd: Vojnoizdavacki Zavod, 1970.
This is the memoir of a Croatian Partisan.
Berger, Egon 44 Mjeseca u Jasenovcu (44 months in Jasenovac). Zagreb: Graficki
Zavod Hrvatske, 1966.
This book is the memoir of a Jewish inmate of the Jasenovac camp.
Ciano, Galeazzo. The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943. Edited by Hugh Gibson. Garden City:
Garden City Publishing, 1947.
The Italian Foreign Minister wrote this descriptive diary of Italian policies.
Djilas, Milovan. Wartime. Translated by Michael B. Petrovich. New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1977.
This book is a memoir of World War II by Milovan Djilas, one of the Partisan leaders.
Glaise von Horstenau, Edmund. Deutscher Bevollmdchtiger General in Kroatien und
Zeuge des Untergangs des Tausendjdhrigen Reiches (German Deputy General in
Croatia and Witness of the Fall of the "Thousand Year Empire"). Vol. 3 of Ein General
im Zwielicht: Die Erinnerungen Edmund Glaises von Horstenau (A general in twilight;
The memoirs of Edmund Glaise von Horstenau). Edited by Peter Broucek. Vienna:
Bohlau Verlag, 1988.
Much of this third volume of General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau's lengthy journal
covers his years in Croatia during the Second World War.
Kamber, Dragutin. Slom N.D.H: Kako sam ga ja prozivio (The fall of the NDH: How I
survived it). Zagreb: Hrvatski Informativni Centar, 1993.
Writing soon after the formation of a new Croatian state in 1991, the author writes of the
Croatian desire for independence and why he had ambivalent feelings about Ustasa rule
during the Second World War. Interestingly enough, Kamber wrote for the Ustasa
newspaper Spremnost during World War II.
Macek, Vladko. In the Struggle for Freedom. Translated by Elizabeth and Stjepan Gazi.
University Park: Permsylvania State University Press, 1957.
The author was the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party. Before World War II, he was
one of the most popular and influential leaders in Croatia.

234

Maestro, Albert. Memories of the Ustasha Camps. N.p.: Ein-Shemer, 1996.


This memoir by a Jewish internee in Jasenovac seems to have been published rather
informally in Israel. Part is transcribed from oral testimony given in 1945 and part from
testimony given in 1971.

Marov, Zora. The Wandering Years. Anaheim, CA: KNI Inc., 1984.
The extremely nationalistic Croatian author of this account describes Croatian suffering
during the war, omitting any reference to ethnic groups persecuted by Croatians during
this time period.
Mikulic Gajdas, Tomo. Sjecanja i zapisi iz narodnooslobodilacke borbe (Memories and
notes from the National Liberation Struggle). Zagreb: Vlastita Naklada, 1967.
This is an account of the war seen through the eyes of a Croatian Partisan.
Milicevic, Vladeta. A King Dies in Marseilles. Bad Godesberg: Hohwacht, 1959.
This account, written by the chief investigator into the murder of King Alexander,
includes much valuable information about the prewar Ustasa movement.
Milisa, Dorde. U mucilistu-paklu Jasenovac (In the torture chamber-hell Jasenovac).
Beograd: Politika, 1991.
The author of this book is a survivor of Jasenovac.
Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske (Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in the Independent State of Croatia). Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska na braniku nove
Europe (The Independent State of Croatia on the ramparts of a new Europe). Zagreb:
Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske, 1942.
A book published during the war by the Ustasa, it provides a view of the ideological basis
oftheNDH.
Mussolini, Benito. Mussolini's Memoirs, 1942-1943. Translated by Frances Lobb.
London: George Wiedenfeld andNicolson, 1949.
Mussolini's memoirs are remarkable for the fact that Mussolini makes almost no mention
of Croatia even though Italian officials were making important decisions with regard to
the Balkans during 1942 and 1943.
Njemirovski, Olga. The Holocaust and the Jews of Yugoslavia. Jerusalem: Gefen, 1996.
The author tells the story of her life as a Croatian Jew in the NDH.
Novak, Zdenka. When Heaven's Vault Cracked: Zagreb Memories. Braunton Devon:
Merlin Books, 1995.
The author is another Croatian Jew who survived the Second World War through flight to
the coast and membership in the Partisan resistance movement.

235

Radica, Bogdan. Hrvatska 1945 (Croatia 1945). Zagreb: Graficki Zavod Hrvatske,
1992.
Although the author spent much of the war in the United States, he returned to Croatia
just before the end of the war and describes his feeHngs about the fall of the NDH in
1945.
Sopic, Marko D. Pred vratima Sarajeva: Zapisi i sjecanja o narodnooslobodilackom
pokretu i Visocko-fojnickom NOP odredu na podrucju od Sarajeva do Zenice (Before the
gates of Sarajevo: Notes and memories of the National Liberation Movement and the
Visoko-Fojnica National Liberation Movement Division in the area between Sarajevo
and Zenica). Sarajevo: Savez udruzenja boraca narodnooslobodilackog rata opstina,
1970.
The author was a Partisan who served in Bosnia during World War II.

Documents/Memoirs from Published Collections of Documents:

Andrija Hebrang: Svjedoci govore (Anrija Hebrang: Eyewitnesses Speak). Edited by


Pavle Kalinic. Z"** Ed. Zagreb: Narodne Novine, 1996.
This book is a collection of memoirs about Andrija Hebrang, the Croatian Communist
leader whose removal from power at the end of the war was, and still is, controversial.
"Razgovor sa Ivicom Skromrakom" (Conversation with Ivica Skromrak), 97-115.
"Sabor slobodne i ujedinjene Hrvatske" (Parliament of a free and united Croatia).
Vjesnik. 25 May 1944,129-132.

Caracciolo, Nicola. Uncertain Refuge: Italy and the Jews during the Holocaust.
Translated and edited by Florette Rechnitz Koffler and Richard Koffler. Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1995.
In the mid-1980s, an Italian journalist involved in making a documentary about Italians
and the Holocaust conducted a series of interviews with Jews who lived in Italy or
Italian-occupied areas during the Second World War. The book is a written record of the
survivors' testimony as to Italians' attitude toward and assistance of Jews in their area.
"Interview: Ambassador Roberto Ducci," 57-66.
"Interview: Dan Millin," 140-142.
"Interview: Itzak Itai (Josef Ithai)," 23-25.
"Interview: Jossepe Papo," 33-35.

236

Carpi, Daniel. "The Rescue of Jews in the Italian Zone of Occupied Croatia." In
Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem
International Historical Conference. Edited by Yisrael Gutman and Efraim Zuroff.
465-507. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1977.
The appendix of this paper contains photocopies of original Italian documents (in Italian)
dealing with the Jews of Croatia.
Pieche, Giuseppe. Memorandum to the Italian Foreign Ministry. 4 November 1942, 520.
Secret communication by unnamed officers of the Italian Army to the Italian Foreign
Ministry. Undated, but around 11 September 1942, 514-515.

Djecji dom Jastrebarsko: Dokumenti, 1939-1947. [The Jastrebarsko children's home:


Documents 1939-1947]. Edited by Ciril Petesic. Zagreb: Krscanska Sadasnjost,
1991.
The second half of this book includes twenty-seven documents involved with the
Jastrebarsko children's home or the Partisan forces that liberated it.
Brossler, Kamilo. Letter to Dr. Niktopolion Cernozubov. 12 July 1942, 75-77.
Brossler, Kamilo. "Spasavanje Kozaracke djece godine 1942" (The rescue of the
children of Kozara in 1942). Private memoir written in early 1947, 108-128.
Davila, Branko. "Jastrebarsko u narodnooslobodilackoj borbi od pocetka rata 1941 g. do
oslobodjenja 1945 g." (Jastrebarsko in the national liberation struggle from the
beginning of the war in 1941 until the liberation in 1945). Private memoir. Written
approximately 1960.
"Oslobodenje djece: Hrvatski partizani jednom smjelom akcijom oslobodili su iz logora u
Jaski 900 srpske djece" (The freedom of children; Croatian Partisans in a deliberate
action freed 900 Serbian children from the camp in Jaska). Borba (Belgrade). 1 October
1942,80-83.
"Oslobodeno 727 djece u Jastrebarskom" (The freeing of 727 children in Jastrebarsko).
Omladinski borac (Zagreb). September 1942, 78-79.
"Zapisnik Zemaljske komisije za utvrdenje zlocina okupatora i njihovih pomagaca o
saslusanju profesora Kamila Brosslera 18. prosinca 1945" (Minutes of the Land
Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their
Collaborators on the hearing of Professor Kamilo Brossler on December 1945), 103-105.

237

Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945. Ser. D, Vol. 13. Washington


D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1964.
This huge collection of German foreign policy documents, translated into English, is
comprehensive only up until 11 December 1941. Unfortunately, the projected volumes
which would have completed the series do not seem to have been published.
Albrecht, Erich. Letter to the German Legations in Croatia and Hungary. 15 August
1941,317-318.
Hewl, Walther. Memorandum. 28 November 1941, 865-867.
Heydrich, Reinhard. Telegram to German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. 26
September 1941, 570-571.
Luther, Martin. Telegram to the German Legation in Croatia. 17 July 1941.
Ribbentrop, Joachim von. Telegram to the German Legation in Croatia. 21 August
1941,342-343.
Schmidt, Paul Otto Gustav. Memorandum. 30 November 1941, 886-887.
Troll-Obergell, Heribert von. Telegram to the German Foreign Ministry. 10 July 1941,
113-114.
Troll-Obergell, Heribert von. Telegram to the German Foreign Ministry. 10 August
1941,301-302.

Dokumenti iz istorije Jugoslavije: Drzavna Komisija za Utvrdenje Zlocina Okupatora i


Njegovih Pomagaca iz Drugog Svetskog Rata (Documents from the history of
Yugoslavia: The State Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the
Occupiers and Their Collaborators from the Second World War). Edited by
Miodrag Zecevic and Jovan P. Popovic. Beograd: ZAD, 1996.
This is a collection of documents on the formation of the State Commission for the
Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their Collaborators and
announcements published by the commission.
"Drzavna Komisija za Utvrdenje Zlocina Okupatora i Njegovih Pomagaca" [The State
Commission for the Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their
Collaborators], 20-29.
"Saopstenje Br. 33" [Announcement number 33]. 2 March 1945, 131-139.

238

Dokumenti o stradanju Jevreja u Logorima NDH (Documents on the persecution of


the Jews in the camps of the NDH). Compiled by Avram Pinto and David Pinto.
Sarajevo: Jevrejska Opstina, 1972.
This collection includes letters and notes from Jewish authorities during the war.
Zidovska Bogostovna Opcina Brod. Letter from the Jewish Religious Union from the
District of Brod to the Jewish Religious Union in the District of Sarajevo. 8 December
1941,15.

Genocid nad Muslimanima, 1941-1945. Zbornik Dokumenta i Svjedocenja (Genocide


of the Muslims, 1941-1945: A collection of documents and eyewitness testimonies).
Compiled by Vladimir Dedijer and Antun Miletic. Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1990.
This is a collection of documents about the persecution of Bosnian Muslims during the
Second World War.
Ustaski agenat iz Dervente. Report (from the Ustasa Agent in Derventa). 31 May 1944,
517.

Glas. Organ NOP-a (NOF-a) za Bosansku krajinu. 31. juli 1943 -13. januar 1945.
Reprint Izdanije. (Voice. An Organ of the National Liberation Movement National Liberation Front - for Bosanska Krajina. 31 July 1943 - 13 January 1945.
Reprint Edition.) Banja Luka: Nigro Glas, 1983.
This collection contains photocopies of editions of the Bosnian Partisan newspaper Glas,
published during World War II.
"KaKO Hsrjiefla jeflHHCTBO naninx napo^a fl,aHaLii, a KaKO je Hsrae/iajio npnje" (How the
unity of our people looks today and how it looked before). 20 August 1944, 2.

"HanHOHajiHH KOMHTCT - Hauia npHBpeMCHa Hapo;i;Ha BJiaAa" (The National Committee


- Our provisional national government). 24 December 1943, 1-2.
"Hapofl nenxpajiHe Bocne ce 6yAH" (The people of central Bosnia awake). 7 August
1943,3.
"OMjia/iHHCKH 36op y Kjtyny - /^an Gpaxcsa cpncKe h MycjinMancKe OMJia/iHHe" (The
youth council in Kljuc - A day of brotherhood of Serbian and Muslim youth). 30 August
1943,3.

239

Holjevac, Veceslav. Zapisi iz rodnog grada (Notes from the City of My Birth).
Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod MH, 1972.
Holjevac has put together a collection of Partisan documents from the city of Karlovac
and the surrounding area.
"Clanovi i candidate KPH u Karlovcu do travanjskih dana 1941" (Members and
candidates of the CPY in Karlovac to April 1941), 237-240.
"Proglas sa konferencije delegate narodnooslobodilackog pokreta Korduna i Banije
odrzane 19-20. rujna 1941. godine" (Proclamation from the conference of delegates of
the National Liberation Movement of Kordun and Banija held the 19"^-20^'' of September
1941). 19 September 1941, 254-257.
"Skojevska organizacija u Karlovcu" (SKOJ organization in Karlovac), 241-242.

Hrvatska uArhivima izbjeglicke vlade 1941-1943 (Croatia in the archives of the


Government-In-Exile 1941-1943). Compiled by Ljubo Boban. Zagreb: Globus,
1985.
This book includes reports on developments in Croatia from representatives of the
Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Gazi, Stjepan. "Izvjestaj iz Zeneve" (Report from Geneva). 25 March 1942, 42-43.
Juretic, A. "Izvjestaj J. Krnjevicu" (Report of J. Krnjevic). 23 December 1942, 174-177.
Moscatello, Nikola. "Izvjestaj" (Report). From the Yugoslav Royal Legation to the
Vatican. 28 September 1942, 162-167.

Izbor iz stampe narodnooslobodilackog pokreta u Slavoniji 1941-1945 (A Selection


from the Press of the National Liberation Movement in Slavonia, 1941-1945). 2nd
Edition. Slavonski Brod: Historijski Institut Slavonije, 1968.
This book cantains articles published by the Partisan press in the Croatian region of
Slavonia during World War II.
Banak, Franjo. "Kako odgovara hrvatski narod na ustaske zlocini i izdaju HSS-a" (How
the Croatian people respond to Ustasa atrocities and the treachery of the Croatian Peasant
Party). Glas Slavonije. July 1943, 2. 46-47.
Cmobmja-Tolja, Bogdan. "U vatri i krvi kujemo borbeno bratstvo hrvatskog i srpskog
naroda" (Croatian and Serbian revolutionary brotherhood is forged in fire and blood).
Glas Slavonije. July 1943, 1-2. 47-50.

240

"Osniva se srpski narodno-oslobodilacki klub pri ZAVNOH-u" (A Serbian National


Liberation Club is founded at the Regional Anti-Fascist Council of the National
Liberation of Croatia). Glas Slavonije. December 1943, 6. 206-207.
"Sloboda treba biti zajednicko djelo Srba i Hrvata" (Freedom should be a common
matter of Serbs and Croats). Nedeljnipregled nase stampe. 3 July 1943,1. 44-46.
Zvrk [Pero Car]. "Uloga hrvatskog naroda u borbi protiv fasizma" (The role of the
Croatian people in the struggle against fascism). Slavonski narodnooslobodilacki
partisan. March 1942, 8-9. 20-21.

Katolicko Svecenstvo u NOB-u 1941-1945 (Catholic clergy in the National


Liberation War, 1941-1945). Edited by Ciril Petesic. Zagreb: OOUR Vjesnikova
Press Agency, 1982.
This is a collection of documents relating to the participation of Catholics in the
Yugoslav Partisan movement.
Kardelj, Edvard. "Komunisticka partija, vjera i crkva" (Communist Party, faith, and the
church). First published in Edvard Kardelj, Put nove Jugoslavije 1941-1945: Clanci i
govori iz Narodnooslobodilacke borbe 1941-1945 (The way of a new Yugoslavia:
Articles and speeches from the National Liberation Struggle 1941-1945) (n.p.: Kultura,
1949), 315-320.
Ritig, Svetozar. "Govor monsinjora dra. Svetozara Ritiga na drugom zasjedanja
ZAVNOH-a" (Speech of Monsignor Dr. Svetozar Ritig at the second session of
ZAVNOH). First published in Vjesniku Jedinstvene Narodno-oslobodilacke fronte
Hrvatske (News of the unified National Liberation Front of Croatia) (20 November
1943), 1.
Tito, Josip Broz. "Komunisti i katolici" (Communists and Catholics). First published in
Proleteru (To the Proletariat) (December 1936), 3-4.

Koncentracioni logor Jasenovac, 1941-1945. Dokumenta. (The Jasenovac


concentration camp, 1941-1945. Documents.) 2 Vols. Compiled by Antun Miletic.
Beograd: Narodna Knjiga, 1986.
This is a vast, two-volume collection of documents dealing with all aspects of the
Jasenovac concentration camp.
"Izvjestaj predsednistva vlade Kraljevine Jugoslavije u Londonu" (Report to the
Presidency of the Government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in London). 22 July 1942.
Vol. 1,394-397.

241

Hadzi-Colakovic, Drago et al. Testimony to Milan Nedic's Commission for Refugees


and Those Who Resettled in Belgrade, 13 April 1942. Vol. 1, 239-248.
Jerkovic, Mate, "Pismo Staba 2. KorpusaNOV Hrvatske Zapovjednistvu IV Gorskog
Zdruga" (Letter from the staff of the 2"^ Corps of the National Liberation Army of
Croatia to the command of the 4"^ Mountain Unit) 8 October 1943. Vol. 2, 675-677.
Jovic Sosa, Sofija. Report on the situation in Stara Gradiska. February 1943. Vol.2,
594-598.
Klisanic, Ivan. "IzveStaj Zapovjedniku 1. Zbornog Podrucja" (Report to the command of
the First Territorial Corps). 29 September 1943. Vol. 2, 665-669.
Kosic, Marija. Testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade. 13 November 1942. Vol. 1, 518-519.
Lapcevic, Stojan. Testimony to the Regional Commission for the Determination of War
Crimes in Nova Gradiska. 10 May 1945. Vol. 2, 963-965.
Letter from an anonymous party official to the Communist Party Commission for
Northern Croatia. 19 September 1944. Vol. 2, 778-781.
Medic, Duro. Testimony to Milan Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade. 11 April 1942. Vol. 1, 229-232.
Milos, Ljubo. Excerpts from his testimony. Undated. Vol. 2,1010-1023.
Milos, Ljubo. "Ljubo Milos o koncentracionom logoru Jasenovac" (Ljubo Milos on the
Jasenovac concentration camp). Undated. Vol. 2,1051-1089.
"Nalog ravnateljstva ustaskog redarstva Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske u Zagrebu" (Order
of the Directorate of the Ustasa Police of the Independent State of Croatia in Zagreb). 23
July 1941. Vol.2, 56-57.
"Nalog ravnateljstva za javni red i sigumost Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske" (Order of the
Directorate for Public Order and Security of the Independent State of Croatia). 14
August 1941. Vol.2, 73.
"Nalog ustaske nadzome sluzbe zupskoj redarstvenoj oblasti Sarajevo" (Order of the
Ustasa Supervisor to the district police for the Sarajevo region). 9 June 1942. Vol. 2,
304-305.
Stab 5. Krajiske NOV Brigade. "Stabu III Operativne Zone NOV i po Hrvatske," (The
Staff of the 5**^ Krajiska People's Liberation Army Brigade to the staff of the Third

242

Operation Zone of the People's Liberation Army and for Croatia) 10 October 1942. Vol.
1, 506.
Svjetlicic, Drago. Testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade. 7 July 1942. Vol. 1, 365-375.
Tatimorovic, Radojka. Testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade. 12 September 1942. Vol. 1,451-452.
Tito (Josip Broz), "Operativnom Stabu NOP IDV za Krajinu" (Operational Staff of the
People's Liberation Movement and the volunteer force for ICraiina). 31 March 1942.
Vol. 1, 193.
Zegarac, Vukasin. Testimony to Nedic's Commission for Refugees and Those Who
Resettled in Belgrade. 10 April 1942. Vol. 1, 221-229.
Zupske Redarstvene Oblasti Banja Luka. "Izvestaj uredu opunomocenog ministra NDH"
(Regional police from the Banja Luka region's report to the Office of the Authorized
Minister oHhe NDH) 11 September 1942. Vol. 1, 447-448.

Na Javornici: Uspomene i sjecanja na dane revolucije (On Javornica: reminiscences


and memories of the days of revolution). Edited by Ivica Jurcic. Ogulin: Kotarski
Odbor Saveza Boraca, 1961.
The book includes numerous eyewitness accounts of the Partisan struggle.
Kosanovic, Radoslav. "Prva presuda 'u ime naroda...(First sentencing "in the name of
the people"), 112-113.

The National Liberation War and Revolution in Yugoslavia (1941-1945): Selected


Documents. Beograd: Military History Institute of the Yugoslav People's Army,
1982.
The book is a collection of Partisan documents.
Central Committee of the Communist Party of Croatia. Proclamation. Mid-June 1941,
54-59.
"Declaration on the Rights of Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina." Proclamation at the
National Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1 July
1944,661-662.

243

"Statement by the Supreme Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army and Partisan
Detachments of Yugoslavia and of the Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of
Yugoslavia." 8 February 1943, 429-430.
Supreme Command of the People's Liberation Partisan and Volunteer Army of
Yugoslavia. Directive. February 1942, 246-253.
Tito (Josip Broz). "The National Question In Yugoslavia in the Light of the National
Liberation War." December 1942, 394-402.
Tito (Josip Broz). "Speech Delivered in Liberated Zagreb." 21 May 1945, 723-731.
Tito (Josip Broz). "Why the People's Partisans Are Fighting." Bulletin of the General
Headquarters of the People's Liberation Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia." 19 August
1941,93-95.

Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska Ministarstvo Vanjskih Poslova (Independent State of


Croatia Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Medunarodni ugovori 1941 (International
agreements 1941). Zagreb: Hrvatska Drzavna Tiskara, 1941.
The book is a compilation of international treaties involving the NDH. Each treaty is
found in both the Croatian language and the language of the other party to the treaty.
"Ugovor 0 odredivanju granica izmedu kraljevine Hrvatske i kraljevine Italije"
(Agreement on the determination of the borders between the kingdom of Croatia and the
kingdom of Italy). 18Mayl941.

Office of the United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality,
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Washington D.C.: United States Government
Printing Office, 1946.
This is a vast, eleven-volume collection of documents relating to the Nuremberg War
Crimes trials following the Second World War. Very few documents relate to Croatia,
possibly because Croatian war crimes were considered the work of domestic, not
German, war criminals and therefore came under the sphere of the State Commission for
the Determination of War Crimes of the Occupiers and Their Collaborators within
Yugoslavia itself.
Nedeljkovic, Dusan. "Report No. 5 of the Jugoslav State Commission for Ascertaining
the Crimes of the Occupiers and their Accomplices." Undated. Supplement A, 11431144.
Supreme Command of the (German) Armed Forces. Top Secret Communication on
Yugoslavia. 3 April 1941. Vol. 3, 838-839.

244

Oslobodenje. Organ narodno-oslobodilackog fronta za Bosnu i Hercegovinu. 1943 1944. Reprint Izdanije. (Liberation. An Organ of the National Liberation Front for
Bosnia and Hercegovina. 1943 -1944. Reprint Edition.) Sarajevo: NIP
"Oslobodenje," Narodna i univerzitetska biblioteka Bosne i Hercegovine, 1975.
This collection contains photocopies of editions of the Bosnian Partisan newspaper
Oslobodenje, published during World War II.
"Bocna h Xepi;eroBHHa y 4)eAepaTHBHoj JyrocjiaBHjn" (Bosnia and Hercegovina in a
federal Yugoslavia). January 1944, 7.
CyjiejMaH. (Filipovic, Sulejman). "MycjiHMaHH y (JJE/tepajiHoj BOCHH H
XepuieroBHHH" (Muslims in a federal Bosnia and Hercegovina). July 1944, 7-8.

ONJIHNOBHH,

"Kyje ce GpaxcxBO napo^ia Bocne h Xepu,eroBHHe y Baxpn napo^tHO-ocnoGoAHJiaHKe


6op6e" (The brotherhood of the peoples of Bosnia and Hercegovina is forged in the fire
of the National Liberation Struggle). October 1943, 1.
HpeKa, AjieKcaH;;ap (Preka, Aleksandar). "3a SpaxcxBO Xpsaxa, Cp6a, h MycjiHMana"
(For the brotherhood of Croats, Serbs, and Muslims). 15 December 1943, 2.

Pattee, Richard. The Case of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac. Milwaukee: Bruce


Publishing Co., 1953.
More than two-thirds of this book consists of a collection of documents, including trial
transcripts and letters of Stepinac written during the war.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Circular Letter to the Clergy of the Zagreb Archdiocese. Published in
Katolicki List (Catholic Newspaper) (Zagreb). 29 April 1941, 258-260.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Letter to Andrija Artukovic. 22 May 1941, 300-302.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Letter to Ante Pavelic. Undated (late fall 1941), 345.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Letter to Ante Pavelic. 6 December 1941, 345-346.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Circular Letter. 2 March 1942, 373-374.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Letter to Ante Pavelic. 6 March 1943, 310-312.
Stepinac, Alojzije. Letter to Andrija Artukovic. 8 May 1943, 312-313.

245

Poliakov, Leon and Jacques Sabille. Jews under the Italian Occupation. New York:
Howard Fertig, 1983.
This book contains translated German documents from the archives of the Centre of
Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Paris.
Kasche, Siegfried. Telegram. 20 October 1942,171-172.
Wagner, Guenther. Telegram to the General Representative of the Supreme Italian
Command in Vichy. 10 April 1943, 180.

Rijeci koje nisu zaklane (Words that were not butchered), edited by Radovan
Trivuncic. Jasenovac: Spomen-podrucje, 1977.
This book is a series of interviews of Jasenovac survivors transcribed by Radovan
Trivuncic in 1975.
Badnjevic, Esref. "Da se ne zaboravi" (So that it is not forgotten), 64-136.
Mazic, Stevo. "Bio sam medu vrtlarima" (I was among the gardeners), 16-20.
Nikolic, Joka. "Uhvacen sam kao Rom" (I was arrested as a gypsy), 7-11.
Novak, Vladimir. "Iz Savske u Jasenovac" (From Savska to Jasenovac), 21-30.
Pazdrijan, Duka. "Preslagivao sam kipove svetaca" (I piled up statues of saints), 31-35.
Singer, Hinko. "Vec 1941. u Jasenovcu" (In 1941 already in Jasenovac), 43-57.
Susec, Josip. "Sesnaest skojevaca" (Sixteen members of SKOJ), 58-63.
Zee, Milovan. "Izjava iz 1942" (A statement from 1942), 36-42.

Secanja Jevreja na logor Jasenovac (Memories of the Jews of the Jasenovac camp).
Compiled by Dusan Sindik. Beograd: Savez Jevrejskih Opstina Jugoslavije, 1972.
This book, compiled by the Jewish Union of Communities in Yugoslavia, includes the
memoirs of twenty-nine Jewish survivors of Jasenovac.
Atijas, Jakov E. "Sjecanja Jakova Atijasa," 74-82.
Finci, Jakica. "Sjecanja Jakice Fincija," 191-208.
Fridrih, Adolf. "Sjecanja Adolfa Fridriha," 26-54.

246

Grossepais-Gil, Josef. "Sjecanja Josefa Grossepaisa-Gila," 289-307.


Kabiljo, Jakov. "Sjecanja Jakova Kabilja," 83-110.
Koen, Leon. Sjecanja Leona Koena," 139-146.
Koen-Davko, Sado. "Sjecanja Sada Koena-Davka," 160-190.
Konforti, Josef. "Sjecanja dra Josefa Konfortija," 209-239.
Maestro, Leon. "Sjecanja Leona Maestra," 111-116.
Montiljo, Moric. "Sjecanja Morica Montilja," 265-268.
Musafija, Salomon-Monika. "Sjecanja Salomona-Monike Musafije," 21-25.
Vajler, Zlatko. "Secanja Zlatka Vajlera," 316-325.

Stepinac, Alojzije. Propovijedi, govori, poruke, 1941-1946 (Sermons, speeches, and


messages). Zagreb: AGM, 1996.
This is a compilation of Archbishop Stepinac's public pronouncements during the war.
"Poglavaru je duznost sluziti narodu u ljubavi i pravdi!" (The duty of a leader is to serve
the nation in love and justice). Address to Ante Pavelic. 26 June 1941, 28.
"Rase i narodi su Bozje tvorevine!" (Races and nations are God's creations). Sermon.
31 October 1943, 176-180.

Ustasa: Dokumenti o ustaskom pokretu. (Ustasa: Documents of the Ustasa


movement) Edited by Petar Pozar. Zagreb: Zagrebacka Stvarnost, 1995.
This is a collection of documents on the Ustasa movement, including the writings of
Ustasa leaders, legal aimouncements, and the explanation of new laws. Much of the
material comes from Croatian newspaper articles published during World War IL
Pavelic, Ante. "Hrvatsko pitanje" (Croatian question). 28 October 1936, 95-109.
Pavelic, Ante. "Zakonska odredba o obveznoj prijavi imetka zidova i zidovskih
poduzeca" (Legal order on the required registration of Jewish property and Jewish
businesses). 5 May 1941.
Pavelic, Ante. "Zakonska odredba o sprecavanju prikrivanja zidovskog imetka" (Legal
order on the prevention of hiding Jewish property). 5 June 1941, 195.

247

Pavelic, Ante. "Zakonska odredba o upucivanju nepocudnih i pogibeljnih osoba na


prisilni boravak u sabirne i radne logore" (Legal order on the instructing of objectionable
and dangerous individuals through forced residence in assembly and work camps). 25
November 1941,215-216.
"Tumacenje rasnih zakonskih odredbi" (Translation of racial legal orders). 2 May 1941,
165-169.
"Zidovi i Srbi moraju za 8 dana napustiti sjeverni dio Zagreba" (Jews and Serbs have 8
days to leave the northern part of Zagreb). 9 May 1941, 172-173.

BejiUKOMyneHUHKU JaceHoeau,, YcmauiKa meopHuu,a cmpmu: JfoKyMenmu u


ceedonena (The great place of martyrdom, Jasenovac, the Ustasa's factory of

death:
Documents and eyewitness accounts). Compiled by AxanacHje JeBXHh (Atenasije
Jevtic). Belgrade: Glas Crkve, 1990.
This book of documents was published in conjunction with the Serbian Orthodox Church;
the documents focus on the persecution of the Serbs.
IIpifcaTOBHh, BojncjiaB M. (Prnjatovic, Vojislav M.) "JaceHOBau," (Jasenovac). 11 April
1942,46-62

Zemaljsko antifasisticko vijece narodnog oslobodenja Hrvatske. Zbornik dokumenata


1945 (The Regional Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia: A
collection of documents, 1945). Zagreb: Insitut za historiiu radnickog pokreta
Hrvatske, 1985.
This book was published by the Institute for the History of the Workers' Movement of
Croatia. It includes documents on the formative period of the socialist goverrmient of
Croatia, the Regional Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia
(ZAVNOH).
Ministarstvo socijalne politike NVH. "Uputstvo o davanju pomoci porodicama, kojih se
hranioci nalaze u zarobljenistvu" (Directions on giving aid to the families whose
breadwiimers were imprisoned). 23 April 1945, 641-644.
ZAVNOH. "Odluku o zastiti nacionalne casti Hrvata i Srba u Hrvatskoj" (Decision on
the defense of the national honor of the Croats and Serbs in Croatia). 24 April 1945,
650-653.
Zemaljska komisija Hrvatske za utvrdivanje zlocina okupatora i njegovih pomagaca
(Regional Commission of Croatia for the Determination of the Crimes of the Occupiers
and Their Assistants). Directive. 3 February 1945, 136-139.

248

Zlocini Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske, 1941-1945 (Crimes in the Independent State of


Croatia, 1941-1945). Vol. 1 oi Zlocini na jugoslovenskim prostorima u prvont i
drugom svetskom rata: Zbornik dokumenata (Crimes on Yugoslav territories in the
First and Second World Wars: A collection of documents). Compiled by Slavko
Vukcevic. Beograd: Vojnoistorijski Institut, 1993.
Although this volume was originally intended to be the first of a multi-volume set entitled
Crimes on Yugoslav Territories in the First and Second World Wars: A Collection of
Documents, it is, in fact, the only volume. Due to the recent crises in Yugoslavia, the
Military History Institute never completed the series. This volume is a vast compendium
of documents involving the persecution of minority ethnic groups in the NDH, but the
documents only date from 1941 and 1942, the first two years of the war.
Letter from a Bosnian Muslim group in Banja Luka to Dzafer Kulenovic and Hilmija
Beslagic. 12 November 1941, 832-837.
Pavelic, Dr. Ante. "Zakonsku odredbu o zastiti arijske krvi i casti Hrvatskog naroda"
(Legal ordinance on the defense of Arian blood and the honor of the Croatian people). 30
April 1941, 25-27.
Tolj, Ivan. "Izvjestaj o prilikama u Sarajevu i ostalom dielu Bosne" (Report on
conditions in Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia). 4 November 1941, 812-819.

249

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