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Jasenovac

Nazi Terror in Croatia

The Jasenovac Extermination Camp
"Terror in Croatia"

 

 

 

Ante Pavelic Head of the Independent State of Croatia

The Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941. Vladko Maček, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) which was the most influential party in Croatia at the time, rejected offers by the Nazi Germany to lead the new government. On 10 April the most senior home-based Ustaša, Slavko Kvaternik, took control of the police in Zagreb and in a radio broadcast that day proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH).

The new Independent State of Croatia" was established as a pro-Nazi government. It was dedicated to a  clerical-fascist ideology influenced both by Nazism and extreme Roman Catholic fanaticism. On coming to power, the Ustaša Party dictatorship in Croatia quickly commenced on a systematic policy of racial extermination of all Serbs, Jews and Gypsies living within its borders.


The NDH was ruled by Ante Pavelic under the title Poglavnik, or "Headman". Pavelic served as leader of the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of the Axis Powers, throughout the four years of its existence, but since the Ustaše did not have a capable army or administration necessary to control the territory, the Germans and the Italians split the NDH into two zones of influence, one in the southwest controlled by the Italians (with Pavelić as Headman),  and the other in the northeast controlled by the Germans.


Pavelić first met with Adolf Hitler on June 6, 1941. Mile Budak, then a minister in Pavelić's government, publicly proclaimed the violent racial policy of the state on 22 July 1941. The Ustaša's organization was a typically fascist organization and its military strength was an instrument for the implementation of the Ustaša's Nazi ideology.

 

The first "Legal order for the defense of the people and the state" dated April 17, 1941 ordered the death penalty for "infringement of the honor and vital interests of the Croatian people and the survival of the Independent State of Croatia". It was soon followed by the "Legal order of races" and the "Legal order of the protection of Aryan blood and the honor of the Croatian people" dated April 30, 1941, as well as the "Order of the creation and definition of the racial-political committee" dated June 4, 1941.

 

The enforcement of these legal acts was done not only through normal courts but also new out-of-order courts as well as mobile court-martials with extended jurisdictions.

 

The NDH Ustaša terror was also aimed at the Serbian Orthodox Church. Three Orthodox bishops and most of the Orthodox priests were murdered by the end of 1941 in the cruelest of manners. During the war, 450 Orthodox churches were demolished. Mass conversions were forced upon Serb villagers but the exact number of Serbs forcibly converted to Catholicism has never been established.

 

Ustaša decree issued by Ante Pavelic

One Orthodox Serb from Okučani reported:

"The new government told me that I’d have to convert to Roman Catholicism if I wanted to keep my job. I refused and was fired in July 1941. I moved my family to the nearby town of Okučani where I managed to find work. But in Okučani I was arrested, once by the Germans and once by the Croatian fascists.  Both of those times I was released. Now I’ve been arrested yet again by the Croatian fascists. My crime—being a Serb."


The Ustaša army (Ustaška vojnica) was organized by Slavko Kvaternik, and it was made up of Ustaša units (filled out with volunteers) under the direction of the Central Ustaša Headquarters, of special police units (redarstvo) and the Home Guard (domobrani), and in August of 1941 the Ustaša Secret Service was formed by Ustaša Security Service Kommando Eugen Dido Kvaternik who also oversaw the concentration camp system throughout the sphere of Ustaša control.

 

In the early stages of the Ustaša rule there were no legal regulations about sending people to concentration camps or the length of sentences. Such things were decided by Pavelić's emissaries, district prefects, deputy prefects, camp supervisors and other Ustaša commanders. Such practices remained even later, and when the regulations were finally passed,  no one actually obeyed them.

The first camps in the NDH were founded on the island of Pag at the place called Slano, on Mount Velebit near Gospić at a place called Jadovno, and in Bosnia at Kruščica near Travnik. Besides Jasenovac, the larger camps were:

  • Danica

  • Pag

  • Jadovno near Gospić

  • Kruščica near Vitez and Travnik in Bosnia

  • Đakovo

  • Loborgrad in Zagorje

  • Tenja near Osijek

The establishment of the Jasenovac Camp System

 

Jasenovac was established in August, 1941 and was dismantled in April, 1945. The creation and management of the camp complex were given to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustashka Nadzorna Sluzba; UNS) which was headed by Vjekoslav Maks Luburic, who commanded the Jasenovac camp.

 

The  camp spread out over 210 square kilometers, along the Sava River from Stara Gradiska in the east to the village Krap1je in the west, and from Strug in the north to the line between Draksenic to Bistrica in the south.


Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/jasenovac.html

 

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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