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Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 2. “We Were Defending the State”: Nationalism, Myth, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Croatia

Mark Biondich

Texte intégral

  • 1 For studies of myths, collective memory, and different mythologized histories, be they Communist o (...)

1Since the collapse of Communism in 1989, Central and Southeast Europeans have experienced a “revival of memory” and been involved in a painstaking revision of their national pasts.1 This is both understandable and necessary, given the Communist domination of historical “truth” since the 1940s. New historical interpretations, often of a markedly nationalist hue, have formed a new orthodoxy. The transition from ideological, party-sponsored history to a more dispassionate and professional history has not been simple or uniformly successful in the region. The demystification of the past on a popular level has been even harder to achieve. What was once uncritically regarded as absolute truth in the Communist era has now often been replaced by new and equally uncritical nationalist absolutes. In some countries, the outcome of this transition still remains uncertain to this day. It has been most problematic in the countries of former Yugoslavia. Since nearly all the Yugoslav successor states were born in conflict, in wars of brutal dimensions, the utilization of memory and nationalist mythology for political objectives and mobilization has been of great importance. Politics, history, and collective memory have been intimately intertwined and seem hopelessly inseparable.

2In the Croatian case, the politics of collective memory have arguably been more problematic than in any other former Yugoslav republic. After 1989 the leader of the non-Communist Croat opposition, the historian and former general in the Yugoslav National Army, Franjo Tudman, led the drive for Croatian sovereignty and under his auspices the recasting of the Croatian past took place. Central to this reassessment was the Croat experience in the Second World War, for between 1941 and 1945 Croats had achieved “independent” statehood for the first time in modern history. The reassessment occurred, however, without a public discussion of many controversial issues, not least of all the wartime Croatian state’s policy toward Serbs, Jews, and Roma. An honest and sincere discourse was immensely complicated by the reality of a brutal conflict waged in Croatia and neighboring Bosnia–Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995.

  • 2 “Kad će nam proći prošlost?” Feral Tribune, no. 810 (2001).

3There is definitely a need in Croatia and Southeastern Europe to cut through popular myth, to separate fact from fiction, and to end the repeated utilization of history for political ends. In a recent interview the widely respected historian Mirjana Gross, bemoaning the use of the past for contemporary political purposes, legitimately asked, “When will our history finally pass away?”2 In order to understand the function of postwar myth and memory in Croatia, one first must understand the nature and history of Croat nationalism through the Second World War. To that end the first part of this chapter analyzes the evolution of Croat nationalism, and in particular the nationalist ideology of the Croat political right, to the end of the Second World War. Among the themes addressed are defining nationality, identity, and the limits of Croat national space, and the interwar political right’s cult of Croatian statehood and the integral role of history in its political program. The second part will chart the post-1945 evolution of a divided Croat memory and the myths surrounding Croatian history in the modern period.

The History of Croat Nationalism to 1941

4The most significant factor shaping modern Croat nationalist ideology has been the concept of historical rights, that is, the belief that the medieval Croatian kingdom had never completely lost its independence, despite the union first with Hungary (1102) and then with the Habsburgs (1527). Like their counterparts in Hungary, the Croatian nobility (the “political nation”) defended their social privileges, identity, and political rights by associating them with the institutions of the Kingdom of Croatia–Slavonia. Whether we are dealing with nationalists of a South Slavic (e.g., Ljudevit Gaj, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Franjo Rački) or purely Croat (e.g., Ante Starčević) orientation, all operated within a framework of historic state rights. The second factor shaping Croat identity and nationalism was the identification with other (Southern) Slavs, which was, as in the case of Czechs and Slovaks, essentially a reflection of Croat numerical inferiority in relation to the Habsburg monarchy’s dominant nations, the Magyars and the Germans. It also stemmed from the fact that there was a numerically significant Serb minority in Croatia.

  • 3 For studies of Gaj and Illyrianism, see Elinor M. Despalatović, Ljudevit Gaj and the Illyrian Move (...)
  • 4 On Starčević and the Party of Right, see Mirjana Gross, Povijest pravaške ideologije (Zagreb, 1973 (...)

5Both factors, the state-oriented, historically rooted perception of nationalism and the emphasis on Slavic solidarity, were evident in the first stage of modern Croat nationalism, Ljudevit Gaj’s Illyrian movement of 1836–48.3 The Illyrian movement gave way to two competing national programs in Croatia after the 1848 revolutions. The first was associated with Ante Starčević and the other with Josip Juraj Strossmayer. Basing their program on historic state rights, Starčević and his Party of (Croatian State) Right claimed that the Croatian kingdom had throughout its long existence been de jure an independent entity.4 In practice, its independence had been undermined by the despotic Habsburg dynasty, which had repeatedly violated its “contract” with the Croat political nation, and more recently by the Magyar ruling oligarchy. Under these circumstances, they opposed collaboration with either Vienna or Budapest and refused to become involved in constructive political action. Starčević believed that his role and that of his followers in the Croatian Sabor (Diet) was simply to draw attention to and rail against “foreign” hegemony and its native “collaborators.” Thus the seeds of a purely Great Croatian national orientation were planted. Starčević defined historic Great Croatia as present-day Croatia, Bosnia–Herzegovina, and Slovenia, and adopted a political concept of nationality, inherited from the old notion of a noble “political nation,” thus defining Croats as all people residing in Great Croatia, be they Catholic, Muslim, or Orthodox Christian. His party refused to recognize the existence of “political” Serbs in those lands regarded as historically Croatian, for there could only be one nation on the territory of the Croatian state. Thus the Serbs and Bosnian Muslims of the Habsburg lands remained, in the minds of the Party of Right, Orthodox and Muslim “Croats,” respectively.

  • 5 On Strossmayer and his cultural Yugoslavism, see Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Rački, Politič (...)

6Starčević’s political program reflected a sense of weakness then prevalent in Croat intellectual circles vis-à-vis the dominant “historic” German and Magyar nations. But it also revealed the powerful hold of historical state rights on the thinking of Croatia’s nineteenth-century intellectuals. It is worth noting that even Josip Juraj Strossmayer’s National Party, which supported a policy of cultural Yugoslavism and recognized the “genetic” distinctiveness of Serbs in Croatia, refused to recognize Serbs as a “political nation” in Croatia.5 To do so would have meant opening the door to separate Serb rights in, or even demands for territorial autonomy within, Croatia. The thinking of the Croat political elite, whether of the Starčevićist or Strossmayerist school, thus fit the Central European pattern of conceptualizing the region as being inhabited by “historic” and “non-historic” nations, with the Croats falling into the former category.

  • 6 Unlike Strossmayer’s cultural Yugoslavism, the unitarist Yugoslavism of this period was a revoluti (...)
  • 7 On the various Starčevićist factions, see Gross, Povijest pravaške ideologije, 331f. Eventually th (...)

7By the turn of the twentieth century, the proponents of the Croat national movement increasingly believed that the Croat nationality and Croatian political rights were threatened, either by their traditional foes within the Habsburg monarchy (i.e., Habsburg absolutism, the Magyar ruling oligarchy) or by nascent Serb nationalist ideology, which claimed that all the speakers of the Štokavian form of language, be they Orthodox, Catholic, or Muslim, were Serbs. Most Croat nationalists continued to claim that Croats alone possessed a historic right to statehood, but in fact they were themselves painfully incapable of altering Croatia’s subordinate status within the Habsburg monarchy. Because of these political frustrations, some Croat intellectuals turned in the immediate antebellum period (1905–1914) to unitarist Yugoslavism,6 while the nationalism of one segment of the Starčevićist current acquired increasingly powerful defensive–hegemonic tendencies. Though Starčević’s movement splintered after 1895 into a number of factions,7 all remained committed to the idea of one Croat nation in Great Croatia and the negation of Serbs and others as distinct peoples. However, by 1918 some of his followers supported the creation of Yugoslavia. After 1918 only the Frankists, now known formally as the Croat Party of Right, remained ostensibly committed to Starčević’s original program. In the 1930s they would form the nucleus of Ante Pavelić’s Ustaša movement.

  • 8 On the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, see Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia: (...)

8The formation in December 1918 of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (“Yugoslavia”) represented a challenge to the very raison d’être of the Frankists, who now regarded themselves as the only “true” Croat party and defender of Croat rights.8 The prevailing theory of Yugoslavist trinomialism, and its concomitant narodno jedinstvo (national oneness), asserted that Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, were “tribes” of one and the same “nation.” In the 1920s all nationalities and political parties were forced once again to revisit, albeit in a new political setting, the problem of identity. Were all South Slavs really one people, as the proponents of Yugoslavist unitarism argued? Would they, over time, assimilate to a new hybrid Yugoslav “nationality”? Or had they always been, and would they remain, distinct nationalities?

9In 1918 the ideology of Yugoslavism was an abstraction, alien to the peasant masses of all nationalities and nurtured only by a segment of the intelligentsia. In Croatia, opposition to the new state did not translate immediately into dislike or hatred of Serbs, however. In 1918 the Croat masses generally knew little of Serbs, except in those areas where they lived intermingled. They were simply preoccupied with their own difficult postwar lives. The political situation in Croatia, and with it Croat-Serb relations, began to deteriorate when Svetozar Pribićević, the leader of Croatia’s Serbs and a prominent Yugoslav unitarist, implemented a rigid centralism and, in his capacity as minister of internal affairs, began enforcing it through a variety of strong-arm tactics. These heavy-handed policies—pejoratively termed politika batine (“the policy of the cudgel”) in Croatia—gradually fomented resentment of Serbs generally, who were collectively identified with the oppressive new Yugoslav state and the political parties that supported centralism, just as many Serbs began to nurture a distrust of Croats for supposedly undermining the unity of the new state, viewed by Serbs as the culmination of the nineteenth-century struggle for Serb unification.

  • 9 On Radić and the HSS, see Mark Biondich, Stjepan Radić, the Croat Peasant Party and the Politics o (...)
  • 10 Stjepan Sarkotić, Radićevo izdajstvo (Vienna, 1925), 27.
  • 11 L. von Südland (pseud. of Ivo Pilar), Južnoslavensko pitanje: Prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja, trans. b (...)
  • 12 Milan Šufflay, “Radić, Bethlen i Mussolini,” Hrvatska misao, 24 April 1924. For Šufflay, see Ivo B (...)
  • 13 Nikola Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, comp. by Božo Rude (Zagreb, 1996), 287.
  • 14 Eugen Dido Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 1929–1945: Prilozi za hrvatsku povijest, comp. by Jere (...)

10In the post-1918 circumstances, Croat nationalism generally took two forms: on the one hand, that of the mainstream Croat Peasant Party (HSS, Hrvatska seljačka stranka) of Stjepan Radić,9 and, on the other, the nationalism of everyone to the right, which meant the Croat Party of Right and the Catholic clericalist Croat People’s Party. The political divide between the HSS and the Croat nationalist right only widened in the interwar era. The Croat political right believed that it was engaged in a struggle against a Great Serbian policy “which with unbending consistency is working to destroy Croatdom.”10 It believed Belgrade’s intention was “to conquer and absorb the other South Slavic nations and to establish its own greatness and power on the ruins of neighboring countries.”11 Radić’s role in mobilizing peasants to the Croat national cause was hailed, but his political capabilities and pacifist policy were summarily dismissed as ineffectual and utopian. The Frankists saw their program and theirs alone as being sufficiently rooted in an affirmation of Croatian historic right. They stood for the historic Croat nation, a nation “with remembrance and strong memory,” and, to use Milan Šufflay’s expression, “with strong egoism.” For Šufflay, who emerged in the 1920s as an intellectual luminary of the Croat right, the new Yugoslav state was a modern Serbian empire that aspired to “the balkanization of the Croat nation.”12 (See Document 1.) For the Croat political right, Croatia had in 1918 become “an occupied land,”13 and it now believed that a new movement was needed to serve as “the bearer of an uncompromising and revolutionary struggle [against Belgrade].”14

  • 15 By contrast, in November 1920 the HSS (at that time, the HPSS) gained 37 percent of the popular vo (...)
  • 16 Josip Horvat, Živjeti u Hrvatskoj: Zapisci iz nepovrata 1900–1941 (Zagreb, 1984), 146–47.
  • 17 On Croatia’s Serbs, see Nicholas J. Miller, Between Nation and State: Serbian Politics in Croatia (...)
  • 18 Horvat, Živjeti u Hrvatskoj, 147.

11Such a struggle seemed unlikely in the 1920s, when the politically dominant HSS, whose strength lay in Croatia’s socially dominant countryside, repeatedly marginalized its Croat opponents. The Croat Party of Right’s followers were drawn almost entirely from the Croat petite bourgeoisie of Zagreb and the provincial towns. In the November 1920 elections to the Constituent Assembly, the Croat Party of Right won only 10,880 votes (2 percent of the vote), almost one-third of which came from the city of Zagreb, and 2 of 93 seats in prewar Croatia–Slavonia. And it proved to be the party’s best performance. In the September 1927 elections, the last before the royal dictatorship of 1929 and arguably the last truly democratic elections of the interwar period, the Croat Party of Right won only one seat.15 The party’s leadership, comprised of a small group of lawyers and intellectuals, was itself drawn for the most part from the same social milieu. In Zagreb the Croat petite bourgeoisie, long obsessed with the defense of its endangered socioeconomic and national pravice (“rights”), was centered, ironically enough, in a district whose name was their synonym for Serbs, Vlaška ulica. This obsession with “rights” kept the petite bourgeoisie firmly in the ranks of the Croat Party of Right, which had since Starčević’s day stood for principled and stubborn opposition to foreign rule and native “collaborators.”16 Those in power were always “traitors,” be it in the days of the corrupt Károly Khuen-Héderváry (governor of Croatia, 1883–1903) or under Svetozar Pribićević, the Croatian–Serb leader of the Independent Radicals, who was minister of education in the Pašić government in Belgrade until 1925. He was popularly viewed in Croatia as a latter-day Khuen. Here, too, lay the origins of the Croat petit bourgeois’s animosity toward the Serb, whom he always referred to as the “Vlach.” In the days of the Habsburg “Military Frontier,” which was incorporated into Croatia in 1881, the Orthodox “Vlach” was a synonym for the soldier and frontiersman; he was a lackey, an instrument of Habsburg tyranny, without any “rights.”17 He was, in short, a threat to the “rights” of the free man, which is how the Croat petit bourgeois saw himself. When these “Vlachs” began acquiring a Serb consciousness in the second half of the nineteenth century, and were later used by Khuen to serve Hungarian interests in Croatia, this animosity toward the Vlach-Serb intensified immensely. It matured under Pribićević in the 1920s, when the “treasonable” Vlach seemingly became an agent of Great Serbian rule.18 And thus the act of Yugoslav unification of December 1918, to borrow Josip Horvat’s apt description, “demolished the psychological balance of the Croat petit bourgeois.” His “rights” had been violated yet again, this time by another “foreigner” who seemed far worse than his predecessor. The Magyar had at least permitted the ancient Sabor in Zagreb and an autonomous status to Croatia, but the Serb tolerated neither. In 1868 Ferenc Deák and the Magyar ruling oligarchy had recognized the Croats as a political nation and granted them autonomy. In 1918 Nikola Pašić of the National Radical Party and Ljubomir Davidović of the Democratic Party recognized Croats only as a liberated “tribe” of either the Serb or Yugoslav nationality, respectively.

  • 19 Ibid. 306–07.

12In 1918 a number of the Croat Party of Right’s most prominent leaders emigrated to Budapest and Vienna, where in 1919 they formed the Croat Comité to fight for Croatian independence. Marginalized in the 1920s, as Stjepan Radić’s peasant movement became a mass national party, the Comité’s expectations were seemingly dashed. However, Radić’s assassination in 1928 revived their hopes and ultimately set the stage for “Ustašism.” In January 1929, when King Aleksandar Karadjordjević established a royal dictatorship in Yugoslavia, the moribund Comité was led by Vladimir Sachs and Manko Gagliardi, neither of whom could be expected to lead the Croat struggle against Belgrade, as the former was an assimilated Croatian Jew and the latter a son of Italian immigrants. They turned instead to the Zagreb lawyer Ante Pavelić, the leader of the Croat Party of Right and, after 1930, “Poglavnik” (leader) of the Ustaša movement.19

  • 20 M. S., “Srpski apetit,” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 24 December 1938, 4; and Mirko Puk, “Ante Starče (...)
  • 21 On Catholic conversions to Orthodoxy in the Ottoman era, see the works of Krunoslav Draganović, Ka (...)
  • 22 For example, see “Ne damo Bosnu!” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 3 June 1939, 2; Luka Grbić, “Još o Sr (...)

13The defining characteristics of the Ustaša movement were anti-Serbianism, anti-Communism, and its cult of Croatian statehood. Croatian independence was the goal and was to be achieved at any cost. But how was the problem of identity treated and what was to become of the non-Croats of Great Croatia? Croat nationalism in the late nineteenth century, in both its Starčevićist and Strossmayerist forms, had been an ideology of inclusion. After 1918 it became, at least in the form nurtured by the Croat Party of Right, a far more excluding and intolerant ideology. In the interwar period the Croat political right continued to deny the existence of Serb and Bosnian Muslim nationalities in Great Croatia, although its attitude toward the latter remained relatively benign. The denial of Serb existence was normally expressed in one of two ways. On the one hand, some Croat intellectuals claimed that the Orthodox of Great Croatia were in actual fact “Croats” who had adopted a Serb consciousness in the nineteenth century because of the assimilationist work of the Serbian Orthodox Church.20 The theory of Serbs as Orthodox “Croats” had one of two origins. For some Croat intellectuals, it represented continuity with Starčević’s theory of Croat political nationality. Others believed that the Orthodox of Great Croatia were descended from the native, pre-Ottoman Catholic (and thus supposedly Croat) population, which had converted under Ottoman rule to Orthodoxy.21 On the other hand, some Croat intellectuals saw the Serbs as foreign to Great Croatia. Even in this case, however, they were often not regarded as Serbs per se but of Vlach origin. Serb identity was viewed as being derived through the agency of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but Serbs were also seen as different by blood, a foreign element distinct from the autochthonous “Croat” (i.e., Catholic-Muslim) population. A racial or racist subtext is discernible but more often than not implied rather than explicit; the Ustaše never formulated a coherently racist ideology.22

  • 23 a.r.b., “Frankovci,” Hrvatski narod, 29 September 1939, 1.
  • 24 “Smiješna akcija ‘narodnih srpskih novina’,” Hrvatski narod, 8 December 1939, 1; “‘Nove žrtve’ nez (...)
  • 25 “Zahtjevi nekih doseljenika vukovarskog kotara,” Hrvatski narod, 17 November 1939, 1.

14Having denied the existence or distinct identity of Serbs in historic Great Croatia, the political right naturally denied their entitlement to any special political status. If there were no “real” Serbs in Great Croatia, then they could claim neither a legitimate historical nor natural right to these lands, nor a special status to the detriment of the Croat population.23 They were “guests” and “colonists”24 in a foreign land, and had to submit to the historically dominant Croat nation. Those persons in Great Croatia who chose to call themselves Serbs were in actual fact making a hostile, anti-Croat political declaration. They were, quite simply, “a tumor in a foreign body.”25

  • 26 That was the critique made by Mladen Lorković, who alleged that the 26 August 1939 Agreement left (...)
  • 27 Ivo Rojnica, Susreti i doživljaji, 1938–1945 (Munich, 1969), 28.
  • 28 Stjepan Hefer, Croatian Struggle for Freedom and Statehood (Buenos Aires, 1959), 128.

15It is hardly surprising that the Croat political right condemned the August 1939 “Agreement” (Sporazum) negotiated by the HSS leader Vladko Maček and Yugoslav premier Dragiša Cvetković, which created an autonomous Croatian province (banovina) within Yugoslavia. The borders of the autonomous Croatian banovina did not include all the territories deemed to be historically Croatian, and in the opinion of the political right left hundreds of thousands of “Croats” outside Croatia.26 Moreover, autonomous Croatia had only a limited internal administrative autonomy, which was far less than what Croatia had possessed before 1918. As such, Maček’s policy was not “an interpretation of the will of the Croat nation, but an attempt to save Yugoslavia at any cost.”27 In the mind of the political right, the Sporazum was simply “too far from the realization of the demands of the Croat people.”28

16At that point the two currents of interwar Croat nationalism, represented by the HSS and the political right, parted company for good. The HSS, which had dominated Croatian politics since 1918, now reluctantly committed itself to the preservation of Yugoslavia at a time of growing international crisis. The Croat political right, although ideologically still quite diverse, was slowly coalescing around Pavelić’s Ustaša movement, and committed itself to independence by exploiting the international crisis. While the HSS often alternated between recognizing Yugoslavia and seeking Croatian independence, and had in the meantime recognized the existence of a Serb people in Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina, the Croat political right was by 1939 unyielding on these questions. It wanted nothing short of independence, and the tradition of historic state right and its ongoing fear of assimilation powerfully influenced its treatment of identity. In the interwar era Belgrade had replaced Vienna and Budapest as the main perceived threat to Croatdom. The Starčevićist legacy was important in helping the political right conceptualize the nature of the post-1918 struggle against Belgrade, by imparting to it a sense of historical hubris. In the political conditions of interwar Yugoslavia and Europe, hubris turned to malice as the political right (and later the Ustaše) distorted Starčević’s integrative or inclusive ideology, which had never questioned the place of Orthodox or Muslim within the ranks of the Croat nation even as it denied their distinct identity. Ustaša ideology vacillated between exclusionist and assimilationist tendencies. In actual fact, the former tendency was the stronger of the two as Croat nationalist ideology in general became more exclusive after 1918. During the Second World War, the Serbs of Great Croatia were for the most part seen as an alien element, a view that manifested itself in the murderous practices of the Ustaša regime.

The Second World War: The Croatian State, 1941–1945

  • 29 Dragutin Kamber, Slom NDH: Kako sam ga ja proživio, comp. by Božica Ercegovac Jambrović (Zagreb, 1 (...)
  • 30 On the Ustaše and NDH, see Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupatio (...)

17In April 1941 Croats finally achieved statehood in the form of the Independent State of Croatia (hereafter NDH, Nezavisna Država Hrvatska), in reality an Italo-German condominium and brutal ad hoc creation. The Ustaša regime lacked enough popular support to have seized power on its own, although one segment of the HSS’s right wing now sided with Pavelić because it was elated at the creation of a Croatian state. After so many years of foreign rule the desire for independence was undoubtedly overwhelming, both psychologically and politically. In the heady days of April 1941 many Croats, even those who had little or no sympathy for the Ustaše, must have seen Pavelić as “the hero of the day, the new and only program … [and] the avenger of a martyred past.” To his loyal followers Pavelić was in 1941 “practically a mythical being, a little ‘demi-god,’ the greatest Croat of all time.”29 In the event, for the Ustaša movement an opportunity was presented at long last to settle a range of scores under the not-so-benevolent tutelage of the Axis. It enthusiastically exploited the advantage afforded by German conquest to launch a brutal campaign to rid the NDH of all “undesirable” elements, the most prominent of whom were the Serbs, all in an attempt to safeguard Croatia’s recently obtained “independence.”30 The Ustaše had sworn themselves to independence at all cost, and now they were determined to preserve it by all available methods. In the process, the Ustaše left a painful legacy for the peoples of Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina.

  • 31 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285.
  • 32 Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945 (hereafter, DGFP), series D, vol. 12 (Washington, D. (...)
  • 33 DGFP, D/12, Doc. 603, 977–981.
  • 34 DGFP, D/12, Doc. 350, 552–555.
  • 35 The salient theme in Ustaša rhetoric of this period was that the Serbs of Great Croatia were an al (...)

18The “Serb Question” was certainly not the only important question of the day, but the Ustaše were determined to force its resolution. Indeed, from its inception in 1930, anti-Serbianism had been “the quintessence of the Ustaša doctrine, its raison d’être.”31 How did the Ustaše intend to solve the “Serb Question”? In the interwar era, the Croat political right had vacillated between exclusionist and assimilationist tendencies. During the war, both tendencies were at work in Ustaša rhetoric and policy toward the Serbs, which evolved through three phases. The first phase, from April to August 1941, may be termed the most radical, during which Ustaša leaders heralded in rhetoric and deed a newly cleansed Great Croatian state. Anti-Serb measures in this period largely took the form of legislation and the arrest of the Serb intelligentsia. On 4 June 1941, the Croatian and German governments agreed to a massive population exchange, involving Slovenes and Serbs.32 Two days later, Pavelić met with Adolf Hitler at Salzburg, where discussion invariably turned to the nationality composition of the new Croatian state. Hitler pointedly remarked that, “if the Croatian State was to be really stable, a nationally intolerant policy had to be pursued for fifty years.”33 Pavelić must have concluded that the German authorities would not interfere, as far as the Serb question was concerned, in Croatian affairs. At that point, the Ustaša authorities turned to a more systematic “cleansing” of the predominantly Serb-populated regions of the NDH. At the same time, the first large-scale Ustaša massacres of Serbs were committed; from late July 1941, Ustaša massacres became widespread. The thrust of Ustaša policy toward Serbs in the spring and summer of 1941 was deportation and mass murder. When the deportations were halted indefinitely in September 1941, the German military command in Belgrade estimated that at least 118,110 Serbs had been deported to Serbia from the NDH.34 In this same period, policy toward Serbs was matched by an equally exclusionist official rhetoric which characterized Serbs as Croat enemies, as a predatory and alien element in Great Croatia that aspired to the destruction of all Croats.35

  • 36 The literature on forced conversions in the NDH is extensive but polemical. A comprehensive and di (...)
  • 37 On 15 September 1941, the Ustaša regime decreed the formation of a “Religious Section” within the (...)

19In September 1941 a range of new problems confronted the Ustaša regime and called into question its Serb policy. Faced with armed Communist insurrection, the Italian decision to occupy large parts of the NDH, ostensibly to suppress the insurrection, where Croatian authority was then neutralized, and, finally, with the German decision to halt deportations to Serbia and pressure to moderate their Serb policy, Pavelić and the Ustaša leadership were forced to back away from their earlier exclusionist rhetoric and policy toward the Serbs. This they never did entirely, but a tactical shift was nonetheless informally announced in September 1941 in rhetoric and deed. At that point the Ustaša authorities turned to a policy of forced conversion to Catholicism.36 Both the rhetoric and extant archival material indicate that a large-scale, centrally driven policy of forced conversion was initiated only in the fall of 1941.37 Ustaša rhetoric also changed abruptly. The Serbs were now described as former Catholics who, under Ottoman Turkish rule, had supposedly converted to Orthodoxy. In the minds of some, though not necessarily all or most Ustaša leaders, catholicizing the Orthodox meant assimilating or croatizing them. Although the policy of forced conversion had its origins in the assimilationist tendency found in the prewar thinking of the Croat political right, the decision to implement it was largely functional, a response to the dire circumstances confronting the Ustaša authorities.

20By February 1942, however, the Ustaše were forced to abandon the policy of forced conversion. Although it had been pursued zealously in some quarters, ultimately the Ustaše themselves undermined the policy. Since regional variations were highly pronounced, the policy of forced conversion could not serve as an adequate solution to the “Serb Question,” and thus failed. Failure stemmed from many sources. In large parts of the NDH the Italian military had effectively neutralized the local Ustaša civilian and military authorities. Armed insurrection against the Ustaša authorities was yet another important factor, for by late 1941 the Croatian authorities controlled probably not more than one-third of the NDH’s territory. But perhaps most important, from the perspective of Ustaša national ideology and policy, was continued persecution of Serbs by the Ustaša authorities, sometimes after conversion had occurred.

  • 38 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285.
  • 39 The text of Pavelić’s speech can be found in “Velike smjernice hrvatske državne politike,” Hrvatsk (...)

21By early 1942 it seemed clear to the Ustaša authorities that their Serb policy had “arrived at a blind alley.”38 The authorities needed to deal urgently with the Communist insurrection, which in its early phase relied heavily on recruits from the persecuted Serb population, and desperately sought to establish some kind of legitimacy. To that end, in February 1942 Pavelić convoked a gerrymandered parliament. When he addressed that body on 28 February, Pavelić acknowledged the existence of Orthodoxy in Croatia. There was now evidently room for Orthodoxy, but not for the Serbian Orthodox Church. His speech has been interpreted as the Ustaša regime’s first step toward creating the Croatian Orthodox Church, as a means of “pacifying” the remaining Serb population.39 In early April 1942 Pavelić ordered the creation of the Croatian Orthodox Church.

  • 40 Pavelić himself affirmed the new Ustaša policy in an article on Bosnia’s place in Croatian history (...)
  • 41 Franjo Perše, “Dvojaka kriza Srbstva,” Hrvatski narod, 22 August 1942, 2.

22With the formation of the Croatian Orthodox Church, Ustaša policy toward the Serbs entered its third and final phase. From April 1942 to the end of the war, Orthodoxy was recognized as a state religion, along with Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Islam, and the Orthodox were regarded as “Croats.”40 If the Orthodox had become Serbs through propaganda, then it was simply a matter of time and proper nurturing, according to Ustaša rhetoric, before they acquired a Croat consciousness.41 Viewed in this context, the Croatian Orthodox Church was supposed to serve as an instrument of assimilation. And, by extension, official Ustaša policy toward the Serbs was assimilationist, although in a very perverse way.

  • 42 For example, see H. Dubravić, “Sloga Hrvata muslimana i katolika,” Hrvatski narod, 6 November 1942 (...)
  • 43 For example, see “Radi se na konačnom sred-enju u državi,” Hrvatski narod, 24 November 1942, 1–3; (...)
  • 44 For example, see the remarks of the Ustaša officials Ljudevit Šolc and Alija Šuljak, “Ustaški pokr (...)
  • 45 Verus, “Pravoslavlje u Hrvatskoj,” Spremnost, 13 February 1944, 1.

23That is not meant to suggest, however, that Ustaša leaders necessarily regarded most of the Orthodox to have been Croat in the distant past, or believed they could become Croat in the future. A careful reading of Ustaša rhetoric prompts suspicion of their official policy. Even after April 1942, there are numerous references in Ustaša rhetoric to the Croat nation, comprised only of Catholics and Muslims, which would tend to support the view that the Ustaše never really accepted their rhetoric or official policy with due conviction.42 Perhaps even more important, Ustaša leaders continued to make implicit reference to the Orthodox as hostile outsiders. For example, Matija Kovačić, who in 1942–43 served as the “main director of propaganda” of the Ustaša regime, repeatedly differentiated in his speeches between “Croat Catholics and Muslims,” on the one hand, and “the Orthodox,” on the other.43 Other prominent Ustaša officials echoed this sentiment.44 A rhetorical distinction was repeatedly made between the indigenous Catholic-Muslim population (“Croat nation”) and the Orthodox “other.” These contradictory rhetorical premises (the Orthodox both as “Croats” and as “outsiders”) were never completely resolved. In actual fact, however, the preferred solution to “the Orthodox question” was through exclusion rather than assimilation. Nevertheless, the official Ustaša line, that the Orthodox were largely of Croat nationality and that the Croatian Orthodox Church would assist in the task of returning the Orthodox to their true identity, remained unchanged to the end of the war.45

  • 46 On the guidelines that were to be followed in all future Croatian–Chetnik negotiations, see HDA, f (...)
  • 47 HDA, fond 211, Fond Hrvatskog državnog sabora, Box 1: Broj 103 (“Velika župa Gora - prilike,” Taj. (...)
  • 48 HDA, fond 211, Fond HDS, Box 1: Broj 82 (“Zapisnik”), 1 June 1942.
  • 49 HDA, fond 227, Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova, Box 4: Broj 162 Tajno (“Pravoslavno pučanstvo, postu (...)
  • 50 Cited in Kvaternik, Sječanja i zapažanja, 300.

24It seems evident that after February 1942 there was a willingness on the part of the Croatian authorities to adopt a more tolerant policy toward the Serb population, if only for political and military reasons. In fact, as the tide of war turned against the Axis, the Ustaše gradually trimmed their earlier radicalism and tried to recast their movement as the program of Croatian statehood, which all Croats should support. (See Document 2.) Were the NDH to disappear, the Croat nation, too, might meet its demise. However, with respect to the “Serb Question,” the Ustaša authorities still had to con-tend with their own deeply instilled prejudices and the fact that much of the Serb population had taken up arms and was supporting the Communist resistance or Chetnik movement. The only appreciable change in Ustaša policy in 1942, apart from the creation of the Croatian Orthodox Church, was its willingness to collaborate with some Chetnik leaders in Bosnia in the name of “pacification.”46 On the ground, however, Ustaša forces continued to operate a blanket policy toward Serbs, whom they suspected, whether Orthodox or Catholic converts, of hostility toward the NDH. For example, in early July 1942 the prefect of Gora county (Petrinja), reporting on local anti-partisan operations, confirmed that one of the objectives of “the last cleansing operation,” as he called it, had in fact been “evacuating the entire Orthodox population and even converts [to Catholicism] from the abovementioned endangered regions.”47 The Serbs of Bosanska Dubica suffered the same fate: virtually all of them were deported in late May 1942 to the Jasenovac camp system. The town’s Muslim mayor, himself an Ustaša official, opposed the deportations; he had been appalled by the fact that these Serbs had committed no anti-Croatian acts, “nor did they participate in any kind of anti-state or anti-national work.”48 In May 1943 the Croatian government’s liaison with the Italian military command in the NDH, David Sinčić, urged the central Croatian authorities to adopt a more tolerant attitude toward the Orthodox, now that the Italians were withdrawing from the country. He implored the Ministry of Internal Affairs to realize that it was necessary “precisely at this moment to treat the Orthodox population … lawfully and tactfully.”49 That he made this urgent suggestion at all indicates that, as late as May 1943, Ustaša policy toward the Serbs was anything but lawful or tactful. As later reports testify, the language of the Ustaša party-military bureaucracy betrayed a deep distrust of the Orthodox population to the bitter end. Indeed, in late 1943 the Ustaša propaganda official Vilko Rieger allegedly remarked to the exiled Ustaša police chief Dido Kvaternik that the Serbs “are the main problem,” and that they “should be surrounded and all slaughtered.”50

  • 51 On wartime population losses, see Bogoljub Kočević, Žrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji (Lond (...)

25In the end, wartime Ustaša rhetoric and policy toward the Serbs proved complex and contradictory in nature, as they vacillated between annihilationist and assimilationist impulses. The contradictory rhetoric (and action), which certainly predated the war, was never resolved in a coherent manner. In practice, however, the exclusionist tendency was the stronger of the two. What can be said with some deal of certainty is that the premises underlying the integral nationalist Ustaša ideology were historicist. Indeed, history was their hubris. The Ustaše were committed to Croat state rights and their concomitant, one Croat political nation in historic Great Croatia. Their refusal to tolerate the existence of “political” Serbs in Great Croatia was amply borne out by wartime practice. But whatever the complexities of Ustaša nationalist ideology, their wartime rule left brutal scars on the peoples of Bosnia–Herzegovina and Croatia and helped poison mutual relations between the country’s nationalities. Of the approximately one million dead in all of Yugoslavia, roughly 60 percent died on the territory of the NDH. And of the total number killed in the NDH, it is now believed that approximately 100,000 (or 17 percent), three-quarters of whom were Serbs, Jews, and Roma, died in the Jasenovac camp system alone.51

The Postwar Era: Divided Memory, 1945–1990

  • 52 The Great Serbian nature of Tito’s Communist movement was another wartime Ustaša myth that was nur (...)

26In the aftermath of the Second World War, one can certainly speak of a divided Croat memory. In Communist Yugoslavia the new authorities faced the task of governing a multinational society torn by complex divisions that had been exacerbated by horrifying wartime atrocities. Tito’s regime had its own version of the war in which all peoples of Yugoslavia, including Croats, participated in the heroic struggle against fascism. In Croatia, as elsewhere, only a small criminal minority had opted for collaboration. This official version of the war was reinforced by state authority, which suppressed competing memories just as it suppressed manifestations of Croat, Serb, and other nationalisms. Outside the country, the Croat political emigration cultivated a very different memory of the war. In Croat émigré circles of the Cold War era, the prewar Croat political right’s ideology seemed validated because of its radical opposition to communism. Over time, this memory became intertwined with a number of wartime myths that served to explain the “Croatian” defeat and the victory of the supposedly Great Serbian Communist movement.52 This divided postwar Croat memory was built on ideological extremes, between which no dialogue was possible and in which a democratic discourse was naturally absent and impossible.

  • 53 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285–286.
  • 54 Branili smo državu: Uspomene, osvrti, doživljaji, 2 vols. (Barcelona and Munich, 1985). The myth o (...)
  • 55 Hefer, Croatian Struggle for Freedom and Statehood, 13–14, 131.

27One of the fundamental postwar myths of the Croat political emigration involved the very nature of the conflict that had been fought in the former Yugoslavia during the Second World War. The political emigration claimed that ideological considerations were ultimately of secondary importance. This had been a war waged by Great Serbian ideology, whether in its Communist or royalist form, against the Croat nation and its newly independent state. Although some postwar Croat émigré writers readily acknowledged that many regrettable “excesses” had been committed against the Serb population, they insisted that the scale of these excesses had been grossly exaggerated. More importantly, since the war had been fought on historic Croatian territory, every act, however seemingly brutal, undertaken by the Ustaša government represented “a legitimate self-defense against the [Serb] enemy,” who aspired to “the annihilation of the Croat nation and Croatian homeland.”53 Or, to quote the Ustaša émigré Vjekoslav Vrančić, “We were defending the State.”54 Since it was a state that allegedly represented the legitimate realization of Croat national aspirations, the wartime authorities had a right to defend this state, which was under assault, using all means at their disposal.55

  • 56 Ibid., 105.
  • 57 Ibid., 135–36, 160, 191.
  • 58 Kamber, Slom NDH, 14–15, 23–24.

28If the behavior of the Croatian authorities could thus be ascribed to defensive motives, then the wartime orgy of horrors that was the NDH really had little to do with Ustaša intent. This was a conflict that had been forced on the Croatian state by a resolute and implacable foe. The Ustaša movement had simply fought for national self-determination using all methods available to it at the time.56 Croat self-determination had been achieved, but Serbs, regardless of their political affiliation, rose against the Croatian state. They wanted the NDH destroyed and “aimed at the biological extermination of the Croats.”57 The wartime Serb resistance, be it Chetnik or partisan, was anti-Croatian and would have revolted against the NDH regardless of Zagreb’s policy toward the Serbs. In this context, the “excesses” of the Croatian regime were in retaliation for Serb killings of Croats. Although massacres of Serbs occurred, Serbs always gave as good as they got.58

  • 59 Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, 120, 289.
  • 60 Rojnica, Susreti i doživljaji, 170–71. See also Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, 210–11; and (...)

29The inability to take responsibility for wartime crimes extended to many fronts. The Croatian role in the Holocaust was minimized and a myth was nurtured that anti-Semitic legislation and other measures had originated with, and were enforced solely by, the Germans, while the Croat side had implemented these measures reluctantly and had done what it could to assist Jews.59 Ivo Rojnica, who in 1941 had served as Ustaša party boss in Dubrovnik, would later baldly claim, and he was hardly alone, that “Croats are not guilty for the fate of the Jews,” whose fate the Nazis ultimately did dictate. In his opinion, and that of much of the Croat political emigration, no “Jewish Question” had existed in Croatia before 1941.60

  • 61 Cited in Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 254–55. One finds this sentiment implicitly echoed in th (...)

30Because of the cultivation and acceptance of these myths by a large segment of the postwar Croat political emigration, there was no apparent need to confront some central moral issues stemming from the wartime experience. Even members of the democratic emigration, who were linked to the HSS and had distanced themselves from the Ustaša emigration, failed explicitly to condemn the wartime practices of the regime, although they readily conark Biondich demned its leadership. The case of Branko Pešelj, a prewar HSS activist who had been jailed by the Ustaše in 1941 and later immigrated to the United States, is indicative. Neither he nor any other member of the HSS emigration condemned Ustaša atrocities against Serbs, as much as they had clearly seen such a policy as morally repugnant. In part that was because, as Pešelj observed, it seemed best “to forget the sad events of that time.” Resurrecting the crimes of the Second World War served no positive purpose. More importantly, he relativized those atrocities. He claimed that he would denounce Ustaša massacres of innocent Serbs only when the democratic Serb emigration denounced Chetnik massacres of innocent Croat civilians. The Ustaše had murdered Serbs, Jews, and Roma, but also Croats who opposed their rule. And thus, although Ustaša crimes could in no way be minimized, the Croats’ right to a state and their own wartime suffering could not be minimized, either.61

  • 62 Bleiburg is located on the Austrian-Slovenian border. In May 1945 British troops at Bleiburg repat (...)

31In the Croat memory of war, Bleiburg was synonymous with Croat suffering and held a far more prominent place than did Jasenovac. While themselves dismissing as exaggerated the postwar official estimates of wartime Serb losses, as deliberately designed, at least in part, to smear the Croat name, Croat émigrés perpetrated their own myth—the Bleiburg myth—according to which hundreds of thousands of Croats, most of them innocent civilians, were murdered by Tito’s forces in May 1945.62 That the massacre occurred and that tens of thousands of lives were lost is beyond dispute, but the number of victims was grossly exaggerated and the meaning of the tragedy mythologized. For the Croat emigration, Bleiburg was the Croat Jasenovac. And while Jasenovac had only existed for four years, Bleiburg was but a gateway to a Great Serbian and Communist gulag called Yugoslavia.

  • 63 The Catholic priest Dragutin Kamber, who in 1941 served briefly as a member of the Ustaša commissi (...)

32It is hardly surprising that, among politically active Croats outside Yugoslavia after 1945, the Second World War would be commemorated through Bleiburg and not Jasenovac. The dead who were remembered were Croat dead, and it was the loss of Croatian statehood that was mourned. The Croat political emigration commemorated 10 April as “Croatian Independence Day,” venerating in this way the day of the NDH’s proclamation in 1941 and hence the memory of statehood. Insofar as Croat responsibility for any crimes was acknowledged, it was in the context of political errors committed by a criminal element within the regime or relative to crimes perpetrated by the Serb royalist Chetniks or Tito’s Communist partisans, both of which were seen as ideological variations on a Great Serbian theme.63 Moral culpability was thus avoided and Croat nationalism in its radical manifestation was vindicated and assessed to be healthy.

  • 64 Ivan Oršanić, Vizija slobode, comp. by Kazimir Katalinić (Buenos Aires, 1979), 240.
  • 65 Ivan Oršanic, 7. See also Branimir Jelić, Političke uspomene i rad dra. Branimira Jelića, comp. by (...)
  • 66 Bruno Bušić, “ Činjenice o hrvatskoj revoluciji i državi,” in Jedino Hrvatska! Sabrani spisi, comp (...)
  • 67 Jeliž, Političke uspomene, 221.

33Accordingly, Ustašism came to be viewed in postwar émigré-nationalist mythology as the apotheosis of Croat nationalism. It had been a movement for statehood at any price; its basic postulate had been “the idea of the state and the struggle to the end for the state.”64 And in this respect, the political emigration would contend, since the vast majority of Croats wanted their own state, ipso facto, the overwhelming majority of Croats had adopted Ustašism. Whatever its wartime political shortcomings, or the failings of its individual leaders, Ustašism was recast as anything but a party-political idea. By stripping Ustašism of ideological accoutrements, it could be presented not as a fascist movement but simply as the ideology of Croatian statehood.65 The NDH was the result, the Croat emigration claimed, “of a national revolution led by the Ustaša movement.”66 Croat collaboration with the Third Reich was purely functional, resulting from the failure of repeated Croat attempts, beginning with Radić in 1919, to win the support of the League of Nations, France, Britain, and the United States, for legitimate Croat national aspirations. That Croats had to turn to the Axis was the fault of the democratic Western states, which were unwilling to address the Croats’ plight in Yugoslavia. Croats could not be blamed for the West’s callous indifference.67

  • 68 Oršanić, Vizija slobode, 250–51.
  • 69 Ibid., 240, 243.

34If the Ustaša movement were to be judged at all, it would have to be assessed in relation to its one true objective: statehood. Despite the NDH’s disappearance, the movement had to be assessed positively in the larger framework of Croatian history since it had achieved statehood for the first time in modern history.68 And the Ustaša “revolution” of 1941, which created that state, could not be interpreted simply through the prism of policy toward Serbs or Jews. The Croat nation was not the first nation to experience, after a prolonged struggle for its national freedom, “a revolutionary period.” Just as the French Revolution could not be interpreted only through the Terror, the Croatian revolution of 1941 could hardly be interpreted only through its violent nature or any crimes that may have been perpetrated in its name.69

  • 70 Jere Jareb, Pola stoljeća hrvatske politike, 1895–1945: Povodom Mačekove auto biografije (1960; re (...)
  • 71 Ibid., 123.
  • 72 Darko Sagrak, Zagreb 1941–1945: Suton Banovine Hrvatske – Uskrišenje Nezavisne Države Hrvatske i n (...)
  • 73 Tomislav Jonjić, “Je li bilo hrvatske alternative ustaškoj Hrvatskoj?” Vjesnik, 17 July 2001.

35Over time, more sophisticated attempts were made to relativize the wartime experience. One prominent émigré historian, Jere Jareb, admitted that the Ustaša movement’s policy toward the Serbs was both morally deplorable and politically incomprehensible. He also readily dismissed the notion, perpetuated by Ustaša propagandists since 1941, that Serbs had launched an insurrection and war of extermination in 1941 against Croats. But whatever the crimes and errors of the Ustaše, the fact was that they had for the first time in modern history spearheaded the creation of an independent state. This was an attempt to rehabilitate the NDH without Pavelić and the “totalitarian” Ustaša regime.70 The state was an entity unto itself, desired by all Croats, and had to be divorced from the atrocities perpetrated by the Ustaše.71 Or, as another writer put it more recently, it was necessary “to separate the fact that the Croats finally obtained [in 1941] their own state from the individuals who … created out of this state a synonym for crime and suffering.”72 In the final analysis, neither the undemocratic nature of Pavelić’s regime nor the limited sovereignty of the NDH was denied. Nor was the existence of concentration camps or race laws disputed. These facts were acknowledged but often perfunctorily condemned. What mattered was the reality of Croatia’s independent existence, which was proof of the desire of the Croat nation to live in its own state. And ultimately the wartime Croatian state was held to be no worse than interwar Yugoslavia, which for the better part of its existence had an expressly undemocratic government, enacted anti-Jewish decrees, and established its own camps for political prisoners. “In spite of all its difficult imperfections,” one commentator alleged, “Croats largely experienced the NDH as Croatian. Even when they were opponents of the Ustaša regime, they knew that the NDH had no Croatian alternative.”73 (See Document 3.)

36And thus the Croat nationalist movement, stigmatized internationally after the Second World War because of its association with the Third Reich, continued to view the wartime experience as a legitimate political experiment and defense of Croat national rights. The fact that the wartime Croatian regime lacked popular support and therefore political legitimacy was simply denied. So, too, was the fact that a substantial number of Croats had participated in the Communist resistance. Well after 1945, the Croat nationalist memory of the Second World War continued to be nurtured on the perception that Croats had since 1918 repeatedly been victimized by Serbs, whether in royalist or Communist Yugoslavia. The brief and bloody wartime interlude was seen as no exception. The myth of victimization prevented many Croats in the democratic West from coming to terms with the Ustaša past and the horrendous nature of their crimes.

Post-Communist Croatia: Myth and Memory

  • 74 Cited in Marinko Čulić, Tud-man: Anatomija neprosvijećenog apsolutizma (Split, 1999), 20.

37In 1990, at the First General Congress of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ, Hrvatska demokratska zajednica), the party’s founder and president, Franjo Tuđman, claimed that the NDH was not simply a quisling entity but “an expression of the political desires of the Croat nation for its own independent state.”74 The comment was significant on many levels, coming as it did not just from a historian and former participant in the wartime Communist resistance, but from the future president of the Croatian state. In the event, it represented the first step in Tuđman’s effort to reconcile and synthesize Croats’ divided and competing memories, and culminated six years later in his proposal to transform the Jasenovac memorial into a collective monument for all Croat victims of the war in addition to non-Croat victims of the Ustaše. The proposal was inordinately insensitive, but it represented Tuđman’s attempt at a “historic reconciliation” between Croats in Ustaša and partisan ranks. To that end, contemporary Croatia’s wartime partisan resistance roots were emphasized and Tito’s role still acclaimed, while at the same time the Ustaša state was gradually rehabilitated as the incarnation of the Croats’ desire for statehood.

  • 75 Slavko Goldstein, “Pogrom i pakao,” Feral Tribune, no. 713 (May 1999).

38This “revival of memory” was publicly manifested through the renaming of academies, institutes, and boulevards. The most poignant moment in this revival came in September 1990, when Zagreb’s city council, acting with the tacit approval of President Tuđman, renamed the city’s “Square of the Victims of Fascism” as the “Square of Great Croats.” The original name was restored in 1999. This was a moment of great symbolic importance. During the Second World War, the Square (then known as Square “N”) had been home to the Zagreb offices of the Gestapo and the Ustaša security police. The Rubicon had been crossed. With this act numerous other name changes were initiated, monuments commemorating the Communist resistance were defaced, and a general remodeling of history took place. Shortly thereafter, one could begin publicly to hear in Croatia a number of absurd theories, such as that fascism had not existed at all in the NDH and that the victims of the Ustaša regime, whose criminal nature was now largely denied, deserved their fate because the Croatian state was simply defending itself. The Jasenovac camp virtually disappeared from Croatian school textbooks and was replaced by stories of Bleiburg and the Communist-organized death marches.75 All this occurred either at the instigation of the authorities or with their toleration.

39Why was this historical revisionism and revival of memory possible in the first place? After all, in 1990 the memory of the Second World War and the NDH was not particularly vivid in the minds of most Croats. People tend to nurture memories that possess some meaning in the present, but in socialist Croatia (1945–90) there was arguably no meaningful reason for most Croats to remember the NDH. Nor was it politically possible for them to remember it in the way the Croat emigration did. All that changed in 1990–91, however. As the political crisis in Yugoslavia deepened, contemporary events made possible a retelling of the history of the NDH in a new light. At that time the views of the political emigration were transplanted to Croatia and the events of 1990–91 were reinterpreted through the prism of Croatia’s previous attempt at statehood, in 1941. In the interpretation of many Croat nationalists, the drive toward independence and the nascent conflict with Belgrade and the Croatian Serbs paralleled the events of 1941. The Croat public was told that in both these periods Croats only wanted an independent Croatian state but Serbs were opposed to this legitimate aspiration. At that particular point, the “revisionist” interpretation of the NDH became meaningful for many Croats in Croatia since it appeared to correspond to what they saw unfolding before their own eyes.

  • 76 Edvard Popović, “Polje velike pouke,” Danas, 14 May 1993, 20.

40The revival of memory occurred in the context of Croatia’s war of independence from 1991 to 1995. Unlike the Second World War, the “Homeland War” (Domovinski rat) was not an ideological affair but produced, or so it seemed at the time, a remarkable unity within national ranks against the perceived threat of Great Serbian expansionism. All Croats were now on the same side, regardless of the political histories of their fathers and grandfathers. However, the war only forestalled an honest discussion of the past and even made possible a reinterpretation of the NDH in a positive light. The popular sense of victimization at Serbia’s hands in the 1990s played into the Croat nationalist right’s long-nurtured belief of historical Croat victimization. As one journalist noted in May 1993, “For Croats the memory of Bleiburg is not only the memory of yesterday, but also the memory of today and tomorrow. The same mental framework which in 1945 killed [at Bleiburg] … today kills in Vukovar, Zadar, Šibenik, Srebrenica, Žepa, Tuzla. … The executioner, yesterday like today, is the Yugoslav Army. … The state, for whose creation is necessary the blood of innocents, was yesterday called Yugoslavia, today Great Serbia.”76 The widely accepted belief in Croatia of the defensive nature of the Croat struggle against Belgrade left no room for an acknowledgement of the possible existence of Croat perpetrators of war crimes. Relatively few people in Croatia were prepared to acknowledge that Croatian forces between 1991 and 1995 might have committed any crimes, either in Croatia or in Bosnia–Herzegovina. For the Croat nationalist right and its cult of Croatian statehood, the very notion that Croats could have perpetrated war crimes while waging a defensive war was illegitimate. After all, this war was fought on historic Croatian territory; it was a legitimate and “just” war as wars go. In this respect, Vergangenheitsbewältigung will in all likelihood not be possible in Croatia until such time as a new history of the “Homeland War” is found.

  • 77 The conference proceedings may be found in Časopis za suvremenu povijest, 27 (1995), no. 3.
  • 78 On the trial, see Viktor Ivančić, Točka na U: Slučaj Šakić: Anatomija jednog skandala (Split, 2000 (...)
  • 79 Vladimir Primorac, “ Šakić,” Feral Tribune, no. 706 (March 1999).

41Unfortunately, neither the Croatian political opposition nor the historical profession has helped matters. The major political opposition parties for the most part passively tolerated the historical revisionism of the 1990s, while much of the historical profession participated in its articulation. In October 1995 the Croatian Institute for History commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War with a symposium on “Croats in the Second World War.” The symposium lent the unfortunate impression that the NDH and Ustaše were a legitimate option for Croats in 1941. Few truly controversial themes were addressed.77 Croatia’s new nationalist historiography has for the most part nurtured the view that Croats have, since 1918, been forced to wage an on-going defensive conflict against Great Serbian ideology. Even the 1999 trial of Dinko Šakić, who served for eight months in 1944 as commander of the Jasenovac camp, and his resulting conviction for war crimes—the issue of genocide was avoided in the courtroom and media generally—did little to sway public attitudes, one way or another.78 Although a public discourse was initiated, the trial failed to force a genuine reassessment of this inglorious and contested part of the Croatian past. Significantly, not a single major political figure in Croatia attended the trial. The Croat intellectual elite was hardly represented at all.79

42It is thus virtually impossible to speak of Vergangenheitsbewältigung in post-Communist Croatia. That is hardly surprising, however: coming to terms with the past is not simple. The process has hardly been initiated in Southeastern Europe, took decades to initiate in postwar Western Europe, and has been complicated immensely by the recent war in former Yugoslavia. One can only hope that, as memories of Communism and the recent war gradually fade from the popular imagination, they will be replaced by a collective memory forged in a democratic political discourse. Today, more than at any other point in the past century, the prospects for democracy in Croatia and Southeastern Europe appear genuinely strong. Ultimately, it is a thriving democratic environment and the political discourse that such a milieu enables which will ensure that the taboos and myths of the past are addressed. It was precisely the absence of such an environment over the last half-century, held back by the ideological extremes of the Cold War, that enabled the proliferation of myths and their use to justify Communist and later nationalist policies. The future may not bring “the passing away of history,” as some would like, but one can hope that at the very least it will bring history’s relegation from the political arena to professional academia, where it properly belongs.

Sources

Document 1:

43Yes, [Benito] Mussolini is the dictator of Italy. Yes, [Count István] Bethlen is a politician of the old school. But both men are living exponents of their nations, … historic nations with remembrance and strong memory, and because of that, with strong egoism. Because there can be no egoism without memory, nor nations without history. And precisely because Mussolini and Bethlen are like that, they are renowned and respected in the entire West. …

44Mussolini sits atop the old Roman imperialism and medieval Papism. Bethlen operates from the historic Holy Crown [of St. Stephen], and in this abstract fiction, because it is a symbol of national memory, he finds living power of the first order. And [Nikola] Pašić is an exponent of the historic Serb nation; in the slogan “Dušan’s empire” lies his immense power.

45And whosoever today wants his nation to be fresh and powerful must not destroy national memory, because thereby he destroys its egoism. Then, and only then, can he make it the rapine of egotistical neighbors. …

46The mind of the American politician, the mind of the English philosopher may see in blood the bearer of dumb history, the difficult burden of heredity. The mind of the enlightened Christian can hope for that distant time when there will no longer be the idea of nationalism, which divides humanity into hostile groups, and in particular creates a barracks out of Europe, declares man to be a foreigner, turns Christian love for one’s neighbor into wild hatred. But the mind of the most enlightened Croat must, out of ethical motives, which are higher than nationalism, listen to the voice of his Croat blood. Because, at the edge of the Balkans, on the frontier of West and East, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, European culture and barbarism, the Croat name, Croat blood does not simply mean the nation! Croat blood here means civilization. Croatdom is here a synonym for everything nice and good that was formed by the European West. …

47The HSP [Croat Party of Right] places no hopes in Mussolini and [Hungarian regent, Miklós] Horthy. But in Dušan’s empire, in which it finds itself today, it sees something that is worse than death itself; it sees the balkanization of the Croat nation. …

48The Western Catholic Croats have nothing to look for in the Orthodox Balkans. Today it is the domain of the Serbs, who are adapted to this region through numerous generations. Even were Dušan’s empire to break apart and a federation to be formed, it would be a purely Balkan creation. In it the Croats would lose that which is best about them, in the opinion of the Party of Right. … They would lose a sense for Western civilization and for—humaneness.”

49Source: Milan Šufflay, “Radić, Bethlen i Mussolini,” Hrvatska misao, 24 April 1924.

Document 2:

50In the question of preserving the Croatian State, we cannot at all entertain a discussion, even if many around us would like this matter to be discussed. From the time of the rule of imperial Vienna to this day, the same question has always arisen from the side of various interested parties, whose idea it is to raise doubts about the ability of the Croatian State to exist on Croatian ethnic and historic territory. Our current generation has answered this question in the affirmative by the very creation of the Croatian State, which was formed in the most difficult of times, solely by the will of the Croat nation, regardless of how other factors behaved toward this fact [contributed to this achievement]. On 10 April 1941, the Croatian State was formed, as an expression of the will of the Croat nation. On that day there were no differences among Croats, and today there is no difference among us with respect to this fundamental fact. It is even more necessary to emphasize this, since today many point to the supposed divisions among the Croats with respect to this basic question.

51Regardless of the social and cultural orientation of individuals and groups in the Croat nation, there is no discussion among us about the very fact of the existence and the need for the continued survival of the Croatian State. … In the present decisive phase of the war, ideological questions are not in any case of the first order. Indeed, it may seem otherwise to the uncritical observer of today’s events, but that is by virtue of the fact that today ideology has become the exclusive instrument of politics. Today’s phase of the war is a struggle for survival, and every member of the Croat national community must keep this in mind. The only ideology which we can and may follow is that ideology which was represented through the centuries by the Croat political elites, which is the preservation of Croat national individuality, for whose survival today one’s own national state is the only guarantee.

52Source: Milivoj Magdić, “Hrvatski egoizam,” Spremnost, no. 106, 5 March 1944.

Document 3:

53No one will deny the undemocratic nature of [Ante] Pavelić’s regime, the limited sovereignty of the NDH, the existence of collection (concentration) camps, the so-called race legislation, or that a significant number not only of its military and political enemies, but innocent civilians too, died in the name of the Croatian State of the time. These are things which merit condemnation and of which, as members of the Croat nation, we cannot be proud. They can be explained and described, they can be analyzed and judged, but they cannot be denied, just as they must not be exaggerated and used as an instrument against the natural right and desire of the Croat nation to live in its own state. …

54It does no good to ignore [the fact] that autonomous Croatia, within the structure of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was also under an expressly undemocratic administration. In this structure … the first anti-Jewish decrees were issued, the work of Freemasons was banned, the vote was limited, election results were illegally annulled, and the first collection camps were opened for Communists (which has been written about for fifty years), and for Croat nationalists, too (which was ignored for half a century, even by academics). Men were thrown into these camps without trial, which is also useful to know. It could be said that this was the spirit of the time. …

55In spite of all its difficult imperfections, Croats largely experienced the NDH as Croatian. Even when they were opponents of the Ustaša regime, they knew that the NDH had no Croatian alternative. The alternative was Yugoslavia: monarchist (Karadjordjevićist) or Communist (Tito’s). … The statement by Archbishop Stepinac is clear and comprehensible precisely in light of this alternative: “The Croat nation expressed itself by plebiscite for a Croatian state and I would have been a worthless man had I not felt the pulse of my nation, which was a slave in the former Yugoslavia.”

56Source: Tomislav Jonjić, “Je li bilo hrvatske alternative ustaškoj Hrvatskoj?” Vjesnik, 17 July 2001.

Notes

1 For studies of myths, collective memory, and different mythologized histories, be they Communist or other, in East Central Europe, see Lucian Boia, History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2001); Mark Mazower, “The Cold War and the Appropriation of Memory: Greece After Liberation,” in The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath, ed. István Deák, Jan T. Gross, and Tony Judt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 212– 32; Stevan Weine, When History Is a Nightmare: Lives and Memories of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia–Herzegovina (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1999); Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History (New York: New York University Press, 1998); and Christoph Reinprecht, Nostalgie und Amnesie: Bewertungen von Vergangenheit in der Tschechischen Republik und in Ungarn (Vienna, 1996).

2 “Kad će nam proći prošlost?” Feral Tribune, no. 810 (2001).

3 For studies of Gaj and Illyrianism, see Elinor M. Despalatović, Ljudevit Gaj and the Illyrian Movement (New York: East European Monographs, 1975); and, Josip Horvat, Ljudevit Gaj: Njegov život, njegovo doba (Zagreb, 1975).

4 On Starčević and the Party of Right, see Mirjana Gross, Povijest pravaške ideologije (Zagreb, 1973); and Josip Horvat, Ante Starčević: Kulturno-povjesna slika (Zagreb, 1940).

5 On Strossmayer and his cultural Yugoslavism, see Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Franjo Rački, Politički spisi, comp. by Vladimir Košćak (Zagreb, 1971).

6 Unlike Strossmayer’s cultural Yugoslavism, the unitarist Yugoslavism of this period was a revolutionary political ideology, which claimed that all South Slavs, sometimes including Bulgarians, were “tribes” of one and the same “nation.” On the different currents of Yugoslavist ideology in Croatia in this period, see Mirjana Gross, “Nacionalne ideje studentske omladine u Hrvatskoj uoči i svjetskog rata,” Historijski zbornik 21–22 (1968– 1969): 75–144.

7 On the various Starčevićist factions, see Gross, Povijest pravaške ideologije, 331f. Eventually the most important of these factions were the Frankists, who derived their name from Josip Frank, Starčević’s successor and leader of the “Pure Party of Right” from 1895 to 1911.

8 On the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, see Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984); the relevant sections of John Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Ferdo Čulinović, Jugoslavija izmedju dva rata, 2 vols. (Zagreb, 1961); and Branislav Gligorijević, Parlament i političke stranke u Jugoslaviji 1919–1929 (Belgrade, 1979).

9 On Radić and the HSS, see Mark Biondich, Stjepan Radić, the Croat Peasant Party and the Politics of Mass Mobilization, 1904–1928 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000); and Ljubo Boban, Maček i politika HSS, 1928–1941, 2 vols. (Zagreb, 1974).

10 Stjepan Sarkotić, Radićevo izdajstvo (Vienna, 1925), 27.

11 L. von Südland (pseud. of Ivo Pilar), Južnoslavensko pitanje: Prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja, trans. by Fedor Pucek (1943; reprint, Zagreb, 1990), 215. Originally published as Die Südslawische Frage und der Weltkrieg (Vienna, 1918).

12 Milan Šufflay, “Radić, Bethlen i Mussolini,” Hrvatska misao, 24 April 1924. For Šufflay, see Ivo Banac, “Zarathustra in Red Croatia: Milan Šufflay and His Theory of Nationhood,” in National Character and National Ideology in Interwar Eastern Europe, ed. by Ivo Banac and Katherine Verdery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 181–93.

13 Nikola Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, comp. by Božo Rude (Zagreb, 1996), 287.

14 Eugen Dido Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 1929–1945: Prilozi za hrvatsku povijest, comp. by Jere Jareb (Zagreb, 1995), 271. The need for such a struggle was buttressed by the belief that Croats were demographically in decline vis-à-vis Serbs in Great Croatia. See Mladen Lorković, Narod i zemlja Hrvata (Zagreb, 1939), 164–65; and Pilar, Južnoslavensko pitanje, 402–05.

15 By contrast, in November 1920 the HSS (at that time, the HPSS) gained 37 percent of the popular vote and 50 of 93 seats in prewar Croatia–Slavonia. In September 1927, the HSS won 53 of 84 seats in prewar Croatia–Slavonia and Dalmatia, compared to the one seat (held by Ante Pavelić) of the Croat Party of Right. See Čulinović, Jugoslavija izmedju dva rata, 1: 312–13, 500–01.

16 Josip Horvat, Živjeti u Hrvatskoj: Zapisci iz nepovrata 1900–1941 (Zagreb, 1984), 146–47.

17 On Croatia’s Serbs, see Nicholas J. Miller, Between Nation and State: Serbian Politics in Croatia before the First World War (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).

18 Horvat, Živjeti u Hrvatskoj, 147.

19 Ibid. 306–07.

20 M. S., “Srpski apetit,” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 24 December 1938, 4; and Mirko Puk, “Ante Starčević i Muslimani,” Hrvatski narod, 9 February 1939, 3.

21 On Catholic conversions to Orthodoxy in the Ottoman era, see the works of Krunoslav Draganović, Katolička crkva u Bosni i Hercegovini nekad i danas (Zagreb, 1934), and Masenübertritte von Katholiken zur “Orthodoxie” im kroatischen Sprachgebiet zur Zeit der Türkenherrschaft (Rome, 1937). Although Pilar made reference to these conversions in his study, he emphasized the Vlach origin of the Serbs of Great Croatia and the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in assimilating them. See Pilar, Južnoslavensko pitanje, 112–17.

22 For example, see “Ne damo Bosnu!” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 3 June 1939, 2; Luka Grbić, “Još o Srbo-Cincaro-Vlasima,” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 4 November 1939, 4; “Hrvatska politika u Bosni,” Hrvatski narod, 28 July 1939, 6; M. O., “Vlasi a ne Srbi,” Nezavisna Hrvatska Država, 1 June 1940, 2; “Doseljenje Srba u Hrvatsku i turska politika Svetozara Pribićevića,” Hrvatski narod, 13 October 1939, 1; and, M. G., “O Hrvatstvu,” Hrvatski narod, 7 July 1939, 7.

23 a.r.b., “Frankovci,” Hrvatski narod, 29 September 1939, 1.

24 “Smiješna akcija ‘narodnih srpskih novina’,” Hrvatski narod, 8 December 1939, 1; “‘Nove žrtve’ nezadovoljnih hegemonista,” Hrvatski narod, 15 December 1939, 1; “Uzaludni napori ‘samostalaca’,” Hrvatski narod, 15 December 1939, 6.

25 “Zahtjevi nekih doseljenika vukovarskog kotara,” Hrvatski narod, 17 November 1939, 1.

26 That was the critique made by Mladen Lorković, who alleged that the 26 August 1939 Agreement left nearly 800,000 Bosnian “Croats” (by which he meant Bosnian Muslims) outside autonomous Croatia’s borders. Lorković, Narod i zemlja Hrvata, 225. See also Matija Kovačić, Od Radića do Pavelića: Hrvatska u borbi za svoju samostalnost (Munich, 1970).

27 Ivo Rojnica, Susreti i doživljaji, 1938–1945 (Munich, 1969), 28.

28 Stjepan Hefer, Croatian Struggle for Freedom and Statehood (Buenos Aires, 1959), 128.

29 Dragutin Kamber, Slom NDH: Kako sam ga ja proživio, comp. by Božica Ercegovac Jambrović (Zagreb, 1993), 5.

30 On the Ustaše and NDH, see Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); M. Broszat and L. Hory, Der kroatische Ustascha-Staat, 1941–1945 (Stuttgart, 1964); Aleksa Djilas, The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919–1953 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Bogdan Krizman, Pavelić i ustaše (Zagreb, 1978), Pavelić izmedju Hitlera i Mussolinija (Zagreb, 1980), and Ustaše i Treći Reich, 2 vols. (Zagreb, 1982); and Fikreta Jelić-Butić, Ustaše i NDH (Zagreb, 1977).

31 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285.

32 Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945 (hereafter, DGFP), series D, vol. 12 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962), Doc. 589, 957–958.

33 DGFP, D/12, Doc. 603, 977–981.

34 DGFP, D/12, Doc. 350, 552–555.

35 The salient theme in Ustaša rhetoric of this period was that the Serbs of Great Croatia were an alien element. For example, see “Sav je narod uz Poglavnika,” Hrvatski narod, 27 May 1941, 1, 3; “U svim krajevima Hrvatske neograničena ljubav i odanost prema Poglavniku i NDH,” Hrvatski narod, 3 June 1941, 2; and “Poglavnik je uvijek imao pravo,” Hrvatski narod, 16 June 1941, 16.

36 The literature on forced conversions in the NDH is extensive but polemical. A comprehensive and dispassionate study of conversions and the role of the Croat Catholic clergy in the NDH has yet to be written. See Viktor Novak, Magnum crimen: Pola vijeka klerikalizma u Hrvatskoj (Zagreb, 1948), 527f.; Sima Simić, Prekrštavanje Srba za vreme Drugog svetskog rata (Titograd, 1958); Veljko –D. –Duric, Prekštavanje Srba u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj: Prilozi za istoriju verskog genocida (Belgrade, 1991); and Jure Krišto, Katolička crkva i Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, 1941–1945, 2 vols. (Zagreb, 1998). The most balanced Western studies are Stella Alexander, Church and State in Yugoslavia since 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), and The Triple Myth: A Life of Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (Boulder, Col.: East European Monographs, 1987).

37 On 15 September 1941, the Ustaša regime decreed the formation of a “Religious Section” within the State Directorate for Renewal, which was supposed to conduct the policy. An original copy of this decree may be found in Hrvatski državni arhiv (hereafter HDA), Ministarstvo pravosudja i bogoštovlja, Odjel za bogoštovlje, Box 11: Broj 3049­B-1 (“Okružnica u pogledu postupka kod prelaza sa grčko-istočne vjere na druge priznate vjere”), 12 December 1941.

38 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285.

39 The text of Pavelić’s speech can be found in “Velike smjernice hrvatske državne politike,” Hrvatski narod, 1 March 1942, 3.

40 Pavelić himself affirmed the new Ustaša policy in an article on Bosnia’s place in Croatian history, where he addressed, inter alia, the question of Orthodox identity. One thing was above dispute, Pavelić argued: the Orthodox of Great Croatia were not Serbs. Some were of Vlach origin, and the others were descended from the native Catholic population, which had converted to Orthodoxy in the Ottoman era. See Ante Pavelić, “Pojam Bosne kroz stolječa,” Hrvatski narod, 28 February 1942, 2.

41 Franjo Perše, “Dvojaka kriza Srbstva,” Hrvatski narod, 22 August 1942, 2.

42 For example, see H. Dubravić, “Sloga Hrvata muslimana i katolika,” Hrvatski narod, 6 November 1942, 3; and Mile Starčević, “Mi hoćemo da na svom području slobodno i nesmetano stvaramo svoja dobra,” Hrvatski narod, 17 November 1942, 4.

43 For example, see “Radi se na konačnom sred-enju u državi,” Hrvatski narod, 24 November 1942, 1–3; and “Odmetnici, njihovo lice i naličje,” Nova Hrvatska, 15 January 1943, 2. See also Kovačić’s remarks at the Croatian Foreign Ministry’s official promotion of its “Grey Book” about Chetnik and Partisan atrocities against Croats: “‘Siva knjiga’ predana hrvatskoj javnosti,” Nova Hrvatska, 24 January 1943, 2; and Matija Kovačić, Odmetnička zvjerstva i pustošenja u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj u prvim mjesecima života hrvatske narodne države (Zagreb, 1942), 8–9.

44 For example, see the remarks of the Ustaša officials Ljudevit Šolc and Alija Šuljak, “Ustaški pokret otvara vrata cielom hrvatskom narodu,” Hrvatski narod, 1 December 1942, 1 & 3; “Putem žrtava dolazi se boljim danima – dolazi se slobodi,” Nova Hrvatska, 9 January 1943, 4; and “Hrvatskom je narodu osigurana velika i sretna budušnost jedino u NDH,” Nova Hrvatska, 27 January 1943, 4.

45 Verus, “Pravoslavlje u Hrvatskoj,” Spremnost, 13 February 1944, 1.

46 On the guidelines that were to be followed in all future Croatian–Chetnik negotiations, see HDA, fond 223, Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, Box 300: Broj 9–X–1942 (“Okružnica”), 7 December 1942.

47 HDA, fond 211, Fond Hrvatskog državnog sabora, Box 1: Broj 103 (“Velika župa Gora - prilike,” Taj. Broj 274-1942), 9 July 1942. The prefect’s report was not, however, an endorsement of this policy. He expressed concern that such tactics only strengthened the partisan movement. Moreover, he noted that most local Serbs had behaved loyally toward the Croatian authorities and had not taken up arms against the state.

48 HDA, fond 211, Fond HDS, Box 1: Broj 82 (“Zapisnik”), 1 June 1942.

49 HDA, fond 227, Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova, Box 4: Broj 162 Tajno (“Pravoslavno pučanstvo, postupak”), 31 May 1943.

50 Cited in Kvaternik, Sječanja i zapažanja, 300.

51 On wartime population losses, see Bogoljub Kočević, Žrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji (London, 1985); and Vladimir Žerjaviž, Gubici stanovništva Jugoslavije u Drugom svjetskom ratu (Zagreb, 1989).

52 The Great Serbian nature of Tito’s Communist movement was another wartime Ustaša myth that was nurtured after 1945 by the political emigration. See Fran Nikolić, Novo pokoljenje i komunizam (Zagreb, 1942), for an early version of this genre.

53 Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 285–286.

54 Branili smo državu: Uspomene, osvrti, doživljaji, 2 vols. (Barcelona and Munich, 1985). The myth of a defensive war originated during the Second World War. See Uzori Draže Mihajlovića i partizana (Zagreb, 1943); Odmetnici u pravoj slici (Zagreb, 1943); and Mladen Lorković, Hrvatska u borbi protiv Boljševizma (Zagreb, 1944).

55 Hefer, Croatian Struggle for Freedom and Statehood, 13–14, 131.

56 Ibid., 105.

57 Ibid., 135–36, 160, 191.

58 Kamber, Slom NDH, 14–15, 23–24.

59 Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, 120, 289.

60 Rojnica, Susreti i doživljaji, 170–71. See also Rušinović, Moja sjećanja na Hrvatsku, 210–11; and Vlado Raić, Dr. Ante Pavelić: U svjetlu činjenica (Buenos Aires, 1959), 35.

61 Cited in Kvaternik, Sjećanja i zapažanja, 254–55. One finds this sentiment implicitly echoed in the memoirs of Vladko Maček, who mentions Ustaša atrocities but generally devotes more attention to Chetnik and Partisan atrocities against Croats. See Memoari (Zagreb, 1992).

62 Bleiburg is located on the Austrian-Slovenian border. In May 1945 British troops at Bleiburg repatriated thousands of mostly Croatian troops and civilians to the Communist partisans, who then murdered many of them. Most of the literature on Bleiburg is tendentious and alleges that as many as half a million Croats were murdered by Tito’s forces. I will cite only a few of the better known émigré works: namely, John Prcela and Stanko Guldescu, eds., Operation Slaughterhouse: Eyewitness Accounts of Postwar Massacres in Yugoslavia (Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1970); Vinko Nikolić, Bleiburška tragedija hrvatskog naroda (Munich, 1977), and Bleiburg: Uzroci i posljedice (Munich, 1988). The topic was first seriously addressed in Croatia in Marko Grčić, ed., Bleiburg (Zagreb, 1990). Of the more serious treatments of this subject, see Nikolai Tolstoy, The Minister and the Massacres (London: Century Hutchinson, 1986).

63 The Catholic priest Dragutin Kamber, who in 1941 served briefly as a member of the Ustaša commission that ran the Doboj municipality (Bosnia) before moving to Zagreb to write for and edit Ustaša periodicals, claims rather unconvincingly in his posthumously published memoir that he quickly reached the conclusion in 1941 that Ustaša policy in Zagreb was being set by “primitives,” and feared that at some future point all Croats would suffer collective guilt for the actions of these men and their criminal policy. Kamber, Slom NDH, 12.

64 Ivan Oršanić, Vizija slobode, comp. by Kazimir Katalinić (Buenos Aires, 1979), 240.

65 Ivan Oršanic, 7. See also Branimir Jelić, Političke uspomene i rad dra. Branimira Jelića, comp. by Jere Jareb (Cleveland, 1982), 106–07, 215.

66 Bruno Bušić, “ Činjenice o hrvatskoj revoluciji i državi,” in Jedino Hrvatska! Sabrani spisi, comp. by Vinko Lasić (Toronto, 1983), 131. See also Raić, Dr. Ante Pavelić, 30.

67 Jeliž, Političke uspomene, 221.

68 Oršanić, Vizija slobode, 250–51.

69 Ibid., 240, 243.

70 Jere Jareb, Pola stoljeća hrvatske politike, 1895–1945: Povodom Mačekove auto biografije (1960; reprint, Zagreb, 1995), 89, 92–93.

71 Ibid., 123.

72 Darko Sagrak, Zagreb 1941–1945: Suton Banovine Hrvatske – Uskrišenje Nezavisne Države Hrvatske i njezin slom – Prva godina u Titovoj Jugoslaviji (Zagreb, 1995), 87.

73 Tomislav Jonjić, “Je li bilo hrvatske alternative ustaškoj Hrvatskoj?” Vjesnik, 17 July 2001.

74 Cited in Marinko Čulić, Tud-man: Anatomija neprosvijećenog apsolutizma (Split, 1999), 20.

75 Slavko Goldstein, “Pogrom i pakao,” Feral Tribune, no. 713 (May 1999).

76 Edvard Popović, “Polje velike pouke,” Danas, 14 May 1993, 20.

77 The conference proceedings may be found in Časopis za suvremenu povijest, 27 (1995), no. 3.

78 On the trial, see Viktor Ivančić, Točka na U: Slučaj Šakić: Anatomija jednog skandala (Split, 2000). In practice the attitude of the democratic, post-Tud¯man center-left coalition government toward the Croat extreme right can still be described as ambivalent. See Drago Hedl, “Croatia: Ustasha legacy alive and kicking,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, no. 256 (7 March 2002).

79 Vladimir Primorac, “ Šakić,” Feral Tribune, no. 706 (March 1999).

Auteur

Mark Biondich completed his doctoral dissertation on Stjepan Radiċ and the Croatian Peasant Party in history at the University of Toronto and works for the Canadian Ministry of Justice in Ottawa.

© Central European University Press, 2006

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