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Vol 2, No 19
15 May 2000
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Sam VakninThe Insurgents and the Swastika
Part II of a series of articles examining terrorists and freedom fighters in the Balkans
Sam Vaknin

To read Part I of Sam Vaknin's Union of Death series of articles click here

Even going back ten years it was easy to see something gripping Yugoslavia by the throat. But in the years since then the grip has been tightened, and tightened in my opinion by the dictatorship established by King Alexander Karageorgevitch [sic]. This dictatorship, however much it may claim a temporary success, must inevitably have the effect of poisoning all the Yugoslav organism. Whether the poisoning is incurable or not is the question for which I have sought an answer during two months in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Central Europe.
- Henri Pozzi, (Black Hand over Europe, 1935)

The sin

Yugoslavia was born in sin, and in sin it perished. Declared in October 1929 by Alexander I, the King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and a freshly self-proclaimed dictator, it was a union of East and West, the Orthodox and the Catholic, Ottoman residues with Austro-Hungarian structures, the heart and the mind.

Inevitably, it stood no chance.

The Croats and the Slovenes, formerly fiery proponents of a Yugo (Southern) Slav federation, were mortified to find themselves in a Serb-dominated "Third World" Byzantine polity. This was especially galling to the Croats, who fiercely denied both their geography and their race to cling to the delusion of being a part of "Europe," rather than the "Balkans."

To this very day, they hold all things Eastern (Serbs, the Orthodox version of Christianity, Belgrade, the Ottoman Empire, Macedonia) with unmitigated contempt dipped in an all-pervasive feeling of superiority. This is a well known defence mechanism in nations peripheral. Many a suburban folk wish to belong to the city with such heat and conviction, with such ridiculous emulation, that they end up being caricatures of the original.

And what an original! The bloated, bureaucracy-saddled, autocratic and sadistic Habsburg empire, Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. Unable to ignore the common ethnic roots of both Serbs and Croats, with one tribe and one language, the Croats chose to believe in a vast conspiracy imposed upon the Serbs by corrupt and manipulative rulers. The gullible and self-delusional Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb wrote just before the World War II erupted, in a curious reversal of pan-Serbist beliefs, that:

If there were more freedom... Serbia would be Catholic in twenty years. The most ideal thing would be for the Serbs to return to the faith of their fathers. That is, to bow the head before Christ's representative, the Holy Father. Then we could at last breathe in this part of Europe, for Byzantium has played a frightful role ... in connection with the Turks.

The same Turks that almost conquered Croatia were met with fierce and brave resistance and confined to Bosnia for 200 years. The Croats came to regard themselves as the last line of defence against an encroaching East, against the manifestations and transmutations of Byzantium, of the Turks, of a vile mix of Orthodoxy and Islam, although they collaborated with their Muslim minority during the Ustaša regime.

Besieged by this siege mentality, their backs to the literal wall, desperate and phobic, the Croats developed the paranoia typical of all small nations encircled by hostility and impending doom. It was impossible to reconcile their centrifugal tendency in favour of a weak federal state with strong local entities, with the Serb propensity to create a centralist and bureaucratic court. When the Croat delegates of the Peasant Party withdrew from the fragmented Constituent Assembly in 1920, Serb and Muslim members voted for the Vidovdan Constitution (28 June 1921), which was modelled on the pre-war Serbian one.

Inevitably the Ustaša

While a minority with limited popular appeal, the Ustaša did not materialize ex nihilo. They were the logical and inescapable conclusion of a long and convoluted historical process. They were both its culmination and its mutation and, once formed, they were never exorcised by the Croats, as the Germans exorcised their Nazi demon. In this, again, the Croats, chose the path of unrepentant Austria.

Croatian fascism was not an isolated phenomenon. Fascism, and less so Nazism, were viable ideological alternatives in the 1930s and 1940s. Variants of fascist ideology sprang all over the world, from Iraq and Egypt to Norway and Britain. Even the Jews in Palestine had their own fascists in the Stern group. While Croatian fascism (such as it was, "tainted" by Catholic religiosity and pagan nationalism) lasted four tumultuous years, it persisted for a quarter of a century in Romania ("infected" by Orthodox clericalism and peasant ).

While both branches of fascism, the Croatian and the Romanian, shared a virulent type of anti-Semitism and the constipated morality of the ascetic and the fanatic, Codreanu's was more ambitious, aiming at a wholesale reform of Romanian life and a re-definition of Romanianism. The Iron Guard and the Legion (of the Archangel Michael, no less) were, therefore and in their deranged way, forces for reform founded on blood-thirsty romanticism and masochistic sacrifices for the common good. Moreover, the Legion was crushed in 1941 by a military dictatorship which had nothing to do with fascism. It actually persecuted the fascists, who found refuge in Hitler's Germany.

Fascism in Hungary developed similarly, based on reactionary ideologies pre-dating fascism by centuries. Miklós Horty, the Austro-Hungarian Admiral, was consumed by grandiose fantasies of a Hungarian empire. He had very little in common with the fascists of the "White Terror" of 1919 in Budapest, which was an anti-Communist bloodshed, and did his best to tame the Hungarian fascist government of Gyula Gömbös (1932). The untimely death of the latter brought about the meteoric rise of Ferenc Szálasi and his brand of blood-pure racism.

But all these sub-species of fascism, the Romanian, the Slovak (Jozef Tiso) and the Hungarian (as opposed to the Italian and the Bulgarian) were atavistic, pagan, primal and romanticist, as was the Croatian variant. These were natural, though nefarious, reactions to dislocation, globalization, economic crisis and cultural pluralism, a set of compensatory mechanisms and reactions to impossible, humiliating and degrading circumstances of wrathful helplessness and frustration.

Defining the enemy

"Native fascism" attributed a divine mission or plan to the political unit of the nation, a part of a grand design. The leader was the embodiment, the conveyor, the conduit, the exclusive interpreter and the manifestation of this design (the Führerprinzip), and proof of the existence of such a transcendental plan was the glorious past of the nation, its qualities and conduct, hence the tedious moralizing and historical nit-picking.

The definition of the nation relied heavily on the existence of a demonized and dehumanized enemy (Marxists, Jews, Serbs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Hungarians in Romania, etc). Means justified the end, and the end was stability and eternity ("the thousand year Reich"). Thus, as opposed to the original blueprint, these mutants of fascism were inert and aspired to a state of rest, to an equilibrium after a spurt of cleansing and restoration of the rightful balance.

When Serb domination - Serbs ubiquitous in the military, Serbs in all senior government positions, even in Croatia - mushroomed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, it was only natural for dissenting and dissident Croats to turn to their "roots." Unable to differentiate themselves from the hated Serbs racially, they appealed to religious heterogeneity.

Immediately after the political hybrid was formed, the Croats expressed their discontent by handing election victories to the "Croatian Peasant Party" headed by Stjepan Radić. The latter was a dour and devout anti-Yugoslav, who openly agitated for an independent, rustic and pastoral Croatia. But Radić was a pragmatist. He learned his lesson when, having boycotted the Constituent Assembly in Belgrade, he facilitated the imposition of a pro-Serb, pro-central government constitution.

Radić moderated his demands, if not his rhetoric. His goal became a federated Yugoslavia with Croatian autonomy within it. There is poetic justice in that his death, at the hand of a Montenegrin deputy on the floor of the Skupština in 1928, brought about the dictatorship that was to give rise to Vladko Maček's Sporazum (Croat autonomy). The irony is that a peasant-favoured land reform was being seriously implemented when a deadlock between peasant parties led to King Alexander's fateful decision to abolish the parliamentary system.

King Alexander I was a good and worthy man forced by circumstances into the role of an abhorrent tyrant. He was a great believer in the power of symbols and education. He changed the name of his loose confederacy into a stricter "Yugoslavia" and, in an attempt to defuse internal divisions, he appealed to natural features like rivers and mountains as internal borders.

Croatia vanished as a political entity, replaced by naturally-bounded districts and provinces. The majority of Croats still believed in a federal solution, albeit a less Serb-biased one, believing in reform from the inside.

To be a minority

The Ustaša and Ante Pavelić were always a minority, the Bolsheviks of Croatia, but King Alexander's authoritarian rule was hard to ignore: the torture of political opponents and their execution, the closure of patriotic sports societies, the flagrant interference in the work of the ostensibly independent judiciary, the censorship. There was bad blood growing by the day between the King and his subjects.

The Croats were not the only "minority" to be thus maltreated. The Serbs maintained an armed presence in Macedonia, Kosovo, the Sandžak and even in Slovenia. They deported thousands of "Turks" (actually, all manner of Muslims) under the guise of a "repatriation" scheme. They confiscated land from religious institutions, from the deportees, from big landowners, from the Magyars in Vojvodina and "re-distributed" it to the Serbs. Ethnic homogenization, later to become known as "ethnic cleansing," was common practise in that era. The Turks, the Bulgarians, the Germans and the Greeks were all busily purifying the ethnic composition of their lands, but it made the King and the Serbs no friends.

The Serbs seemed to have been bent on isolating themselves from within and on transforming their Yugoslav brethren into sworn adversaries. This was true in the economic sphere as well as in the political realm. Serbia declared a "Danubian orientation," in lieu of the "Adriatic orientation," which benefited the economies of central and northern Serbia at the expense of Croatia and Slovenia. While Serbia was being industrialized and its agriculture reformed, Croatia and Slovenia did not share in the spoils of war or the reparations that Yugoslavia received from the Central Powers.

Furthermore, Yugoslavia was protectionist, which went against the interest of its trading compatriots. When war reparations ceased in 1931 and Germany's economy evaporated, Yugoslavia was hurled into the economic crisis the world had been experiencing since 1929. The Nazi induced recovery of Germany drew in Yugoslavia and its firms, as it was granted favourable export conditions by Hitler's Germany and many of its companies participated in cartels established by German corporate giants.

King Alexander I must have known he would be assassinated. Someone tried to kill him as he was taking the oath to uphold the constitution on 28 June 1921, and for eight long years he had to endure a kaleidoscope of governments, a revolving door of ministers, violence in the Assembly and ever-escalating Croat demands for autonomy.

After the hideous slaughter on the floor of parliament, all its remaining Croat members withdrew. They refused to go back, and parliament had to be dissolved. Alexander went further, taking advantage of the constitutional crisis to abolish the constitution of 1921, outlaw all ethnically, religiously or nationally based political parties (which basically meant most political parties, especially the Croatian ones), reorganize the state administration, standardize the legal system, school syllabi and curricula and the national holidays. He was moulding a nation single-handedly, carving it from the slab of mutual hatred and animosity.

The Croats regarded all this as yet another Serb ploy, proof of Serb power-madness and insatiable desire to dominate. In an effort to placate the bulk of his constituency - the peasantry - King Alexander established rural credit unions and provided credit lines to small farmers and rural processing plants. It was all to no avail, as the insecurity of this hastily foisted regime was felt, its hesitation, the cruelty that is the outcome of fear. The scavengers were gathering.

A call to friends

It was this basic shakiness that led the King to look for sustenance from neighbours. In rapid succession, he made his state a friend of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania, the last two within the framework of the Little Entente. Another Entente followed, the Balkan one, with Greece, Turkey and Romania. The King was frantically seeking to neutralize his enemies from without while ignoring the dangers from within.

His death lurked in Zagreb, but he travelled to Marseilles to meet it. A vicious secret police, a burgeoning military, a new constitution to legalize his sanguinous regime conspired with a global economic crisis to make him a hated figure, even by Serb Democrats. Days before his death, he earnestly considered a return to a parliamentary form of government, but it was too late and too little for those who sought his end.

The Ustaša movement ("insurgence" or "insurrection," officially the "Croatian Ustaša Movement") was a product of the personal rebellion of Ante Pavelić and like-minded others. Born in Bosnia, he was a member of the Croat minority there, in a Serb-infused environment. He practised as a lawyer in Zagreb and there joined the Nationalist Croatian Party of Rights. He progressed rapidly, and, by 1920, at the age of 31, he was an alderman in Zagreb City and County.

He was a member of the Skupština, when anti-Croat sentiment peaked with the triple murder of the Croat deputies and when King Alexander dissolved Parliament and assumed dictatorial powers, he moved (or fled) to Italy, where he established a Croatian nationalist movement, the Ustaša. Their motto was Za Dom Spremny ("Ready for Home" or "Ready for the Fatherland"). Italy, the fascist, was a natural choice, both because of its ideological affinity and because it opposed Yugoslavia's gradual drift towards Germany. Italy was worried about an ultimate anschluss ("unification or incorporation") between the Reich and Austria, which would have brought Hitler's Germany to Austria's doorstep.

Thus, the Ustaša established training centres (more like refugee camps, as they included the family members of the would-be "warriors") in Italy and Hungary, although they were later expelled from the latter, as a result of Yugoslav pressure. Having mainly engaged in the dissemination of printed propaganda, they failed at provoking a peasant rebellion in north Dalmatia, promised to Italy by the Ustaša.

But they did better at assassinating their arch-foe, King Alexander in 1934, having failed earlier in 1933. In this, the Ustaša was reputed to have collaborated with the fascist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) under Ivan Mihailov in Bulgaria. By joining forces with the IMRO, the Ustaša transformed itself into a link in the chain of terrorist organizations that engulfed the world in blood and flames prior to the onslaught of the greatest terrorist of all, Hitler.

While some versions of the unholy alliance between the Bulgarian-Macedonian outfit and the Croats are unsubstantiated, to put it gently, it is clear that some assistance was provided by both lower Italian ranks and the IMRO. The King was actually murdered by Mihailov's Macedonian chauffeur, Vlado Georgiev-Kerin.

The Ustaša was also known for blowing up trains and for attempting to do so on more than one occasion both in Croatia and in Slovenia. King Alexander seemed to have ordered the systematic annihilation of the Ustaša just before his own untimely Ustaša-assisted annihilation. Lt Colonel Stevo Duitch "committed suicide" in Karlový Vary (Czechoslovakia) and there were attempts, some successful, some less, on Pavelić in Munich, Perčević in Vienna, Servaci (Servatsi) in Fiume and Perčeć in Budapest. It was made abundantly clear to the Ustaša that it was an all-out war in which no prisoners were to be taken. The King had to go.

The Ustaša's appeal

It was a strange movement, the Ustaša. Claiming the continuous "rights of state" of the Great Croatian Kingdom under Peter Kresimir and Zvonimir in the 11th century, they nonetheless gave up Slovenia and Bosnia-Hercegovina to Italy and, later, accepted a German occupation of eastern Croatia. The movement was composed of frugal ascetics and avaricious operators, merciless romanticists and hard nosed pragmatists, murderous sadists and refined intellectuals, nationalist Croats and Serb-haters, who had no coherent national agenda other than the mass slaughter of the Serbs.

Thus, it was a social movement of the dispossessed, a cesspool of discontent and rage, of aggression too long suppressed but never sublimated, of justified social and political grievances irradiated by racism, national chauvinism, militarism and sadism; a grassroots reaction turned cancerous, led by a second hand, third rate Hitler clone; a terrorist organization displaying the trappings of a state in the making.

This is not, however, to say that it lacked popular support. Tensions ran so high between Serbs and Croats that daily brawls broke out in pubs and restaurants, trains and public places between Serb soldiers and Croat citizens in Croatia. The Ustaša fed on real friction, and were charged by escalating tensions and growing violence.

Prince Paul, who acted for 12 years as regent for Peter II, permitted the operation of political parties but did not reinstate Parliament. All this time, a Yugoslav opposition of democratic forces included Croat as well as Serb intellectuals and wannabe politicians.

Vladko Maček himself, later the epitome of Croat separatism and the most successful promoter of this cause, was a member. In the 1938 elections, his party, the Peasant Party, won an astounding 80% of the votes in Croatia. The regent, now much humbled by years of strife and paralysis, bowed to popular opinion so eloquently and convincingly expressed. He backed negotiations with Maček, which led to a declaration of Croat independence in everything but name. The Sporazum of August 1939, a few days before the outbreak of World War II, granted Croatia self-government except in matters of national defence and foreign affairs. The Serbs were now disgruntled.

The Serb Democrats felt abandoned and betrayed by Maček and his Faustian deal with the dictatorship. All other Serbs felt humiliated by what they regarded as a capitulation to irredentism, which they thought was bound to have a disintegrative domino effect on the rest of Serbia's possessions. It is a surrealistic thing, to read the transcripts of these vehement and sincere arguments just four days before the world, as all the conversants knew it, came to a shrieking end.

When German planes were pulverizing Warsaw, Yugoslavia declared its mock-neutrality. Everybody knew that Paul was pro-German, and even King Alexander before him had signed a few secret pacts with the rising, ignore-at-your-peril Central European force. The Austrian national socialists, who were implicated in the murder of the Austrian prime minister, Dolfus, in July 1934, escaped to Yugoslavia and resided openly, though disarmed by the Yugoslav police, in army barracks in Varaždin. In 1935, a fascist movement was established in Serbia ("Zbor").

Fascism and Nazism were not without their attractions to Serbs and Croats alike.

This is the great theatre of the absurd called the Balkans. Until Paul was deposed by the Yugoslav army, Pavelić and the Ustaša were actually closer in geopolitical orientation to the Yugoslav monarchy than to Mussolini's fascist Italy. They were worried by the latter's tendency to block German designs on Austria.

In a region known for its indefinite historical memory and lack of statute of limitations, they recalled how the Italians treated Montenegrin refugees in 1923, returning them to Yugoslavia in cattle cars. They wondered if the precedent might be repeated, this time with Croat passengers. The Italians did, after all, arrest "Longin" (Kvaternik), Jelić and others in Torino following the assassination of the King. In the paranoid twilight zone of European Big Power sponsored terrorism, these half hearted actions and dim memories were enough to cast a pall of suspicion and of guilt over the Italian regime. Mussolini called Pavelić his "Balkan Pawn," but in that he was mistaken. There are good reasons to believe that he was shocked by the murder of King Alexander. In any event, the free movement of Pavelić and the Ustaša was afterwards severely restricted.

On March 1941, the Crown Council of Yugoslavia decided to accede to the Tripartite Pact of the Axis, though in a watered down form. Yugoslavia maintained the prerogative to refuse the right of passage in its territory to foreign powers, but no one believed this would be the case if they were confronted with such a demand. The decision to give up Yugoslavia's neutrality, its main asset and only protection, was taken under pressure from the Croats in power at the time.

The Pact had already been joined by Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Two days after the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Dragiša Cvetković, and his foreign minister signed the Pact in Vienna, they were deposed together with the Regent Paul. The precocious Peter was made King of Yugoslavia by the rebellious officers, headed by General Dušan Simović. The generals now in charge reverted to Yugoslavia's neutrality and refused to join the British-Greek naval treaty.

What appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations in favour of the conspirators and against the Tripartite Pact erupted all over Serbia. It was a challenge to Germany which it could not ignore. The Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) issued "Undertaking 25" against Yugoslavia and "Case Marita" against Greece. The Yugoslavs mobilized, albeit with a surprising procrastination, and the Germans invaded on 6 April 1941. Within ten days it was all over. The Croats did their best to assist the new forces of occupation, disrupting and sabotaging the best they could army operations as well as civilian defence. It was clear that many of them, though by no means the majority, regarded the Serbs as the real occupiers and the Germans as long awaited liberators.

On 10 April 1941, six days into the invasion, the Germans declared the Independent State of Croatia (NDH, after the initials of its name in Croatian - Nezavisna Država Hrvatska). Vladko Maček, leader of the Peasant Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, called on the people to collaborate with the new government. Overnight, a fringe terrorist organization, erroneously considered to be more a puppet of Italy than a true expression of Croatian nationalism, found itself at the helm of government in circumstances complicated by internecine rivalries, inter-ethnic tensions, an history of hate and mutual resentment and a paranoia stoked by sporadic violence.

The Serbs were seen as a fifth column and so were the Jews. Indeed, Croatia's Serbs wasted no time in joining resistance movements against the Nazis and the NDH. The vacuum created by Maček's surprising passivity and by the Church's abstention was filled by the Ustaša. The new state included a part of Dalmatia (the rest went to Italy), the region of Srijem and the entirety of Bosnia-Hercegovina. It was the closest Croatia ever got to re-creating the Great Croatia of a millennium ago.

Fearful of Croat encroachment, the Slovenes hurried to discuss the declaration of their own state modelled after the NDH, only to discover that their country was split between Italy and Germany. In Zagreb, the enthusiasm was great. The 200 or so returning Ustašas were greeted back even by their political rivals. People thronged the streets, throwing flowers and rice at the advancing former terrorist and German convoys.

The NDH existed for four years and had seven governments, only five of which were headed by Ante Pavelić. Contrary to popular opinion, the Ustaša state was not a puppet regime, far from it, in fact. Both the Italians and the Germans expressed their continued frustration at being unable to control and manipulate the Ustaša. Despite their military presence and economic support, both Axis powers lacked real leverage over the ever more frantic activities of the Ustaša.

Even when it was clear that the NDH, in its genocidal activities, was alienating the Serbs and adding to the ranks of resistance movements throughout Yugoslavia, there was precious little the Germans or Italians could do. They held polite and less polite talks with the top echelons of their own creation but like the fabled Dr Frankenstein found that the NDH had a life very much of its own and an agenda it pursued with vigour and conviction.

It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to avoid the issue of the mass killings of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Some Croats claim that "only" 60 to 70,000 were killed in Jasenovac and other concentration camps. The very use of the word "only" in this context ought to send a frisson of repulsion down the spines of civilized men. The Serbs, Jewish scholars and many international scholars claim the number was between 300,000 to 600,000 people. The reason for the disparity in numbers is that, despite their "German" pretensions, the Croats acted like the last of the barbarous Balkans in their mass slaughters. This was no industrial affair, replete with bureaucracy and statistics. The massacres were atavistic, primitive, they were a call for blood and guts and scattered brains. It was an orgy, not an operation.

There is nothing much to tell about the NDH. The regime was busy enacting laws against deadly sins and minor vices, such as pornography. The collaboration with the Catholic Church proceeded smoothly; laws were passed against the Jews; the NDH army fought the Partisans and the Allied Forces. When it tried to surrender in 1945, the British army refused to accept their capitulation and turned them over to the Partisans. In a series of death marches, army soldiers and civilian collaborators with the Ustaša were deliberately exterminated. The Balkans know no mercy. Victims become butchers and butchers victims in nauseating turns.

By 1944, the NDH lost half its territory either to the Germans or to the Partisans. The rump state survived somehow, with its leaders deserting in droves. Pavelić himself escaped to Austria, from there to Italy and then to Argentina. He survived an attempt on his life in 1957 and then fled to Paraguay and Spain, where he died in 1959.

The Dead

After all, if the Croat state wishes to be strong, a nationally intolerant policy must be pursued for fifty years, because too much tolerance on such issues can only do harm.
- Adolf Hitler to Ante Pavelić, 6 June 1941 meeting.

For the rest - Serbs, Jews and Gypsies - we have three million bullets. We shall kill one third of all Serbs. We shall deport another third, and the rest of them will be forced to become Roman Catholic.
- Mile Budak, Minister of Education of Croatia, 22 July 1941.

There are limits even to love... [It is] stupid and unworthy of Christ's disciples to think that the struggle against evil could be waged in a noble way and with gloves on.
- Archbishop of Sarajevo Ivan Saric, 1941.

Croats no longer think that German troops are present merely to provide peace and security, but that they are here to support the Ustaša regime [...] The Ustašas promote the impression that they act not only in agreement with German instances, but actually on their orders. [...] There is here today a deep mistrust of Germany, because it is supporting a regime that has no moral or political right to exist, which is regarded as the greatest calamity that could have happened to the Croat people. That regime is based entirely on the recognition by the Axis powers, it has no popular roots, and depends on the bayonets of robbers who do more evil in a day than the Serbian regime had done in twenty years.
- Captain Haffner to General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, Plenipotentiary of the Wehrmacht in Zagreb, Croatia, 1941.

Our troops have to be mute witnesses of such events; it does not reflect well on their otherwise high reputation... I am frequently told that German occupation troops would finally have to intervene against Ustaša crimes. This may happen eventually. Right now, with the available forces, I could not ask for such action. Ad hoc intervention in individual cases could make the German Army look responsible for countless crimes which it could not prevent in the past.
- General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau to the OKW, 10 July 1941.

The horrors that the Ustashi have committed against small Serbian girls is beyond all words. There are hundreds of photographs confirming these deeds because those of them who have survived the torture: bayonet stabs, pulling of tongues and teeth, nails and breast tips - all this after they were raped. Survivors were taken in by our officers and transported to Italian hospitals where these documents and facts were gathered.
- Commander of the Italian Sassari Division in Croatia, 1941.

Increased activity of the bands is chiefly due to atrocities carried out by Ustaša units in Croatia against the Orthodox population. The Ustašas committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age, but especially against helpless old people, women and children. The number of the Orthodox that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand.
- Report to Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler from the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), dated 17 February 1942.

From the founding [of the NDH] until now the persecution of Serbs has not stopped, and even cautious estimates indicate that at least several hundred thousand people have been killed. The irresponsible elements have committed such atrocities that could be expected only from a rabid Bolshevik horde.
- German foreign ministry plenipotentiary representative in Belgrade Felix Benzler to Joachim von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Reich.

[In Croatia under the Ustaša] ...over half a million [Serbs] were murdered, about a quarter of a million were expelled from the country, and another quarter of a million were forced to convert to Catholicism.
- Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust.

Sam Vaknin, 15 May 2000

The Union of Death:

This article is part of the Union of Death debate

See also Pat FitzPatrick's response to Sam Vaknin or join in the debate yourself by e-mailing us


All quotes from Trifković, Srđa, "The Real Genocide in Yugoslavia: Independent Croatia of 1941 Revisited," available at www.rockfordinstitute.org and at www.antiwar.com

The author:

The author is General Manager of Capital Markets Institute Ltd, a consultancy firm with operations in Macedonia and Russia. He is an Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

DISCLAIMER: The views presented in this article represent only

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