The Ustasha and Vatican's Silence - Part 1
The crimes of the Croatian Ustashis (NDH).
THE VATICAN AND THE CROATIA'S GENOCIDE
Pavelic and the Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac. (Photo)
The most people ignore that during the Second World War was produced another genocide, whose brutality topped with an increase that seen in the Nazi concentration camps. The murder of a half million Serbs in Croatia has passed to the annals of the most infamous crimes against humanity. The Catholic Church's role in this tragedy wasn't at all minor.
When Adolf Hitler attacked the Yugoslavia on 6 April, 1941, it was immediately clear the Wehrmacht had the support of traitor groups within the Yugoslavian state. The country's army was against the wall, surmounted by the huge German war machine and stabbed in the back by terrorists pro-Nazi members of the Ustasha Party, a dangerous Croatian far-right organization. Even the commands of some units with Croatian majority were in talks to Nazis, opening the doors of the country to them.
The independent State of Croatia was declared on April 10, 1941, in the same day that the German 14th Panzer Division entered Zagreb and was received with enthusiasm by the population. The invasion of Yugoslavia by the troops of Hitler assumed the division of the country into two independent nations. The Catholic Croatia actually saw the reality in his dream of being independent from the Orthodox Serbia. In terms of its organization and ideology, the new Croatian state was a totalitarian nation founded on the principle of a Führer who, since that would keep their subordination to Germany, he could make any of his whims.
The warlord who took the reins of the country was Ante Pavelic, head of the Ustasha. Pavelic and his followers were exiled in Italy under the protection of Mussolini, as they were wanted by the governments of France and Yugoslavia accused of plotting the murders of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and the French Prime Minister Louis Barthou. Pavelic established in Croatia, with the help of their sponsors Nazis, the NDH "Nezavisna države Hrvatska" (Independent State of Croatia). On April 14, the first bishop of Croatia, Alojzije Stepinac, met with Pavelic to convey to him their congratulations in the sane time when all the bells tolled the country to celebrate this victory. In addition, Stepinac received the appointment of Supreme Military Apostolic Vicar of the Ustashi Army. The Catholic press was a sea of flattery with the dictator.
God, who controls the destiny of the nations and directs the hearts of the kings, has given us Ante Pavelic and promoted as the leader of a friendly and allied people, Adolf Hitler, to use his victorious troops to disperse our oppressors and enable us to create the State independent Croatia. Glory to God, our gratitude to Adolf Hitler, and infinite loyalty to the boss Ante Pavelic.This outpouring is not surprising if we consider that an investigation committee's Yugoslavian war crimes established that Archbishop Stepinac had been a major player in the conspiracy that led to the conquest of Yugoslavia. Ultimately, the Catholic Church took centuries dreaming about the idea of a Catholic kingdom in the Balkans, something that finally happened when Pavelic and Hitler have risen Tomislav II to the throne, whose function was purely decorative. The identity of the state was based more on religius affiliation than ethnicity. The Chatholic fanaticism of the Ustasha was determined to turn Croatia into a Catholic country through a combination of forced religious conversion, expulsion and extermination.
The clergy supported the regime with a fanatical enthusiasm. Most Catholics shared the ideological goals of the Ustasha and received with pleasure the end of religious tolerance imposed to the former Yugoslavia. The Pope himself received Pavelic in audience and blessed the Ustasha entire delegation that moved to Rome, including the representation of the Brotherhood Crusade, in charge of converting Serbs to Roman Catholicism through tactics which, as we shall see, were not exactly evangelizing.
During his four years of existence as an independent state (1941-1945), in Croatia were executed more than 750,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. From 80,000 Jews of Yugoslavia, 60,000 were killed, most of them in Croatia. Most of these killings were committed by the Ustasha. Croatia was the only country, along with Germany, which operated the concentration camps on a large scale in World War II.
Unlike the Nazis, who devised a discreet system of industrial extermination, the genocide in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina was characterized by performing ritual murders in public places, perpetrated with sadistic and unbridled enthusiasm. The Austrian historian Freidrich Heer commented in 1968 that what happened in Croatia was the result of "fanaticism of ancient prehistoric times." According to this expert, Pavelic was "one of the biggest killers of the twentieth century." This is no obstacle to that, curiously, Pavelic to be seen as a hero in modern Croatia.
The Croatian "hero" used to refer to Serbs as follows, "The Slavic Serbs are a waste of a nation, the kind of people who sell to anyone for any price ...". Much of this was spurred lively version of pulpits. Archbishop Stepinac himself said:
Croats and Serbs belong to two different worlds, north pole and south pole, they never get along except for a miracle from God. The schism of the Orthodox Church is the greatest curse of Europe, almost more than Protestantism. Here there are no morals, no principles, no truth, no justice, no honesty.On June 12, 1941, all Jews and Serbs in Croatia met with the fact that their freedom of movement was restricted. The Justice Minister Milovan Zanitch had no objection to declare the meaning of these measures:
This state, our country, is only for the Croats and to nobody else. There will be no ways or measures that Croatians don't use for our country to be really ours, clearing it of all Orthodox Serbs. All those who arrived in our country for three hundred years ago should disappear. We don't hide our intentions. It's the policy of our state and for its promotion the only thing we will follow faithfully are the Ustasha principles.
By then, the killings had already begun. Mile Budak, Minister of Education of the Croatian government declared in Gospic on July 22, 1941:
The bases of the Ustasha movement is religion. For minorities such as Serbs, Jews and Gypsies we have three million bullets. We'll kill a third of the Serbian population, deport another third, and the rest of them will be converted to the Catholic faith, and this way, to be treated as Croats. So wel'ss destroy their last track, and all what's left will be fateful memory of them ...
The campaign of ethnic cleansing had started almost immediately. Much of the legislation and administrative structure of the new state was adapted to make it fit as much as possible to canon law.
Stepinac saw with particular pleasure the law that decreed the death penalty for abortion and the law that imposed thirty days in prison for insulting. The political opposition was swept from public life. Forbade the publication of texts in Cyrillic, the alphabet used by Serbs. Likewise, it began a campaign of "Aryanization" dismissing mixed marriages between Catholic Croats and members of other ethnic groups. At the entrance of the park settled posters with slogans: "No entry of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and dogs". The Croatian Church received these measures with a barely concealed enthusiasm that was shown, for instance, in the words of Mate Mogus priest of Udbina:
"So far we have worked for the Catholic faith with the prayer book and cross. Now it's time to work with the rifle and the gun".Meanwhile, the infamous concentration camp of Danica began receiving its first victims: "in the beginning only Jews, and soon all those classified as "undesirable", ie, non-Catholics, who accounted for more than 60 percent of the population.
The atrocities that were committed in concentration camps in Croatia have no comparison, and in some cases exceed those of the Nazis. Djordan Diedlender, guard of the camp of Stara Gradiska, gave this jarring testimony during the trial against the camp commander, Ante Vrban:
At that time, arrived daily new women and children to the camp of Stara Gradiska. Ante Vrban ordered that all children were separated from their mothers and taken to a dwelling. He told to ten of us that we took up them wrapped in blankets. The kids were screaming all over the house and one of them put an arm and a leg in the door so it can't be closed. Vrban shouted: "Push her!" and I didn't it, and so he took a hit with the door shattering the leg of the child, then took him and threw the other leg against the wall untill kill her. After this, the children continued getting there. When the house was filled, Vrban used poison gas and killed them all.
PLEASURE TO KILL
The ferocity of the Ustasha alarmed even the Nazis themselves, who feared that a brutal repression against such a large population having culminated in an armed uprising. On February 17, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, one of the greatest architects of the Final Solution (the plan of senior hierarchs of the Third Reich to exterminate the Jews) and, as such, not characterized by his piety, expressed his concern to Reichführer SS, Heinrich Himmler:
The number of Slavs massacred by the Croats of the most sadistic forms is estimated at 300,000 [...]. The reality is that in Croatia the Serbs who remain alive are those who converted to Catholicism, for which is allowed to live unmolested [...]. Because of this, it is clear that the Serbo-Croatian stress is a struggle between the Catholic and Orthodox Church.Faced with the cold efficiency of the Nazi genocide that had been converted into a sinister kind of mass production, the Ustasha did the death of their victims something personal, pleasuring himself in his public torture and humiliation. This is why it retains a large number of photographic testimony of such atrocities.It's mostly snapshots that were taken as "souvenir" by their executioners. In them you can see barbarities hardly conceivable by a sensible mind: from torture sessions animated by an aroused public, until heads stuck on pikes in processions through the streets of Zagreb. Pavelic himself showed itself perversely pleasurable to please diplomats visited him with baskets full of human eyes.
Even the hardened Italian fascists who controlled a portion of Croatia during the war were horrified by the Ustasha, and managed to rescue a large number of Orthodox serbs and Jews, refusing to return them to a certain death all refugees who arrived in their area of control. Archbishop Stepinac complained about this attitude of the Italians to the bishop of Mostar,
the Italians came back and imposed again their civil and military authority. The schismatic churches revived immediately after their return and the Orthodox priests, yet concealed, reappeared with freedom. The Italians seemed to favor the Serbs and hurt the Catholics, as it was stated for the Minister of Italian affairs in Zagreb:
It happens that in the Croatian territories annexed by Italy it can be seen a steady decline of religious life and a clear turn from Catholicism to schism. If the most Catholic part of Croatia no longer be in the future, the guilt and responsibility before God and history will be the Catholic Italy. The religious aspect of this issue turns on my obligation to speak in simple and open terms from the moment that I am responsible for the religious well-being of Croatia.
Photo: Ustashi soldiers (Croatian fascists) kill a victim with a dagger and a bayonet. Yugoslavia, between 1941 and 1944. — Jewish Historical Museum of Yugoslavia
Source: Biografía no autorizada del Vaticano(Non Authorized Biography of the Vatican); Chapter 5; Author: Camacho, Santiago
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. Bulajic, Milán, The Role of the Vatican in the Break-Up of the Yugoslav State: The Mission of the Vatican in the Independen! State of Croatia: Ustashi Crimes of Genocide (Documents, facts). Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, 1993.
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. Dedijer, Vladimir, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre ofthe Serbs during Worid War II, Prometheus Books, New York, 1992. The authenticity of the quote from the Archbishop is unappealable, since the book in question who shows the handwriting of his own hand.
. Manhattan, Avro, The Vatican Holocaust, Ozark Books, Springfield, 1988.
. Dedijer, Vladimir, op. Cit.
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. Memorandum of genocide crimes committed against the Serbian people by the independent government of Croatia during World War II. October 1950. Sent to the President of the Fifth General Assembly of the United Nations by Adam Pribicivic, president of the Independent Democratic Party of Yugoslavia, Vladimir Bilayco, former magistrate of the Supreme Court of Yugoslavia, and Branko Miljus, former minister of Yugoslavia.
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