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The "Ustase": The Croatian Nazis

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by JJWilson, May 2, 2021.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    A few short years ago, I was reading about Yugoslavia and its particularly brutal struggle during the Second World War, when I discovered the "Ustase". I was horrified of what I found.

    For those who are unaware, the "Ustase" was a Ultra nationalist and Fascist organization that was founded in Croatia in 1929. The Ustase harbored many of the same opinions regarding race as the Nazis did, only with a Croatian and radical Roman Catholic/Islamic spin. The Ustase was relatively quiet in the Interwar period, but at the advent of war for Yugoslavia in 1941, and the subsequent occupation by German and Italian forces, the Ustase unleashed all of its Evil upon the innocents of Yugoslavia for 4 whole years. The Ustase worked hand in hand with the occupying Forces, especially the Germans, earning the hatred and distrust of virtually every other faction and ethnicity in Yugoslavia, and that doesn't even factor in the hatred for the Ustase because of the atrocities they so frequently committed. The Ustase targeted Serbs, Jews, Romani, and Orthodox Christians especially, along with fellow Croatians who had betrayed "their blood brothers" by resisting the German occupation. This is an account by Bishop , Alojzije Misic of a Ustase killing...

    "People were captured like beasts. Slaughtered, killed, thrown live into the abyss. Women, mothers with children, young women, girls and boys were thrown into pits. The vice-mayor of Mostar, Mr. Baljić, a Mohammedan, publicly states, although as an official he should be silent and not talk, that in Ljubinje alone 700 schismatics [i.e. Serb Orthodox Christians] were thrown into one pit. Six full train carriages of women, mothers and girls, children under age 10, were taken from Mostar and Čapljina to the Šurmanci station, where they were unloaded and taken into the hills, with live mothers and their children tossed down the cliffs. Everyone was tossed and killed. In the Klepci parish, from the surrounding villages, 3,700 schismatics were killed. Poor souls, they were calm. I will not enumerate further. I would go too far. In the city of Mostar, hundreds were tied up, taken outside the city and killed like animals."

    The Ustase's reign of terror would end in 1945 with the end of the war, with most of its members going in to hiding when Tito's forces and other Yugoslav civilians were openly encouraged to "exact justice upon the traitors and dogs knows as the Ustase" (Tomeshivejz 2001).

    An interesting aspect of the Ustase, was how they were viewed by there German allies. Many Germans were disgusted and horrified at the atrocities committed. Major Walter Kleinenberger, officer with the 714th division, complained that Ustaše brutality “was in defiance of all laws of civilization. The Ustaše murder without exception men, women and children” (Wikipedia). The Germans were so appalled by the Ustase, that the Germans went so far as to try many of the Ustase's leaders for war crimes and other heinous crimes.

    I'm saddened and upset by the lack of attention the Ustase has received historically, especially considering the recent Yugoslavian Civil War of the 90's and early 2000's, which saw similar genocidal actions take place. My question is, why has the Ustase widely been ignored in history, was it because it was a localized event in the midst of a Global conflict? Or is it something deeper?
     
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  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Sadly the Yugoslavian situation was not unique. The Iron Guard in Romania did much the same thing. Hungary, while there was no similar party organization, followed Nazi ideology and deported or murdered large numbers of Jews and "undesirables". The same seems to be true in much of conquered Europe. There was already a strain of anti-Semitism, which was particularly virulent in Eastern Europe.
     
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  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, the past was One of the reason for brute killings and ethning cleansing that took place. Ustase does not explain though Srebrenica where serbs killed innocent muslims. When killers are let loose anything goes.
     
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Always springs to mind when the name is mentioned.
    ustase-serb-killer-knife.jpg

    I certainly don't think the Ustase have been ignored. Them, the ones with a personal relationship with Archangels Lou mentions (The Iron Guard & progenitors are... fascinating), along with multiple other groups, crop up quite quickly on any journey into the horrors of the early C20th.
    Not that much of it was new to the region. We tend to attribute concerted C20th atrocity as a Nazi invention, but if anything they were more of a latecomer to the field, bringing a previously unknown 'efficiency'.

    Anyone that thinks the 90s atrocities (by all indigenous sides... much more to it than the current dominant narrative) were somehow 'new' or special, perhaps needs to dig a bit deeper into 'Balkan' history.
    Tito kept a lid on it, in an unusual Interregnum, but it never went away.
     
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  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    The Ustase hasn't been ignored by Yugoslavians (especially serbs), nor has it been ignored by many WW2 historians, but on a international level, the Ustase and their crimes are little known. If I was to take a poll of 100 Americans and 100 Europeans asking them if they had ever heard of the Ustase and their atrocities, I would be impressed if more than 100 Europeans knew, and I'd be equally impressed if more than one American knew. I've been studying the Second World War for 15 years, and I didn't learn of the Ustase until a little under 2 years ago. That shouldn't be so. What makes the Nazis different, was their obsession with documentation. They wrote virtually everything down, making their atrocities extremely traceable and easy to study further, whereas virtuallly every other genocide in history was done in the dark, or in the open, but with no survivors, leaving only the perpetrators, and others to testify of the crimes, making them significantly harder to determine the scale and depth of the genocide.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Nazis wrote everything down. The first time I see they did not.
     
  7. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    I remember in the Time Life books WWII series, in the volume on the Balkans, an Ustachi holding a severed head. I saw this in the 8th grade.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Only mention I recall was "Force Ten from Navarone". Richard Kiel (aka "Jaws" from "Moonraker") does a turn-coat move by revealing a badge showing him to be on the other side.
     

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