Pogledaj Full Version : Croatia - Myth and Reality (Dispelling Serbian Propaganda)

Željko Zidarić
17th-May-2012, 11:40 PM


Croatia and the Croatians
MYTH: "The Croatians Asked to Join Yugoslavia"
MYTH: "A Croatian Ustase Terrorist Assassinated King Alexander"
MYTH: "All Croatians Were Fascists During World War II; All Serbs Were Pro-Allied"
MYTH: "The Basket of Human Eyeballs"
MYTH: "Two Million Serbs Died"
MYTH: "The Croatians Executed Dozens of American Airmen"
MYTH: "There was No Retribution Against the Croatians After World War II "
MYTH: "Borders Were Drawn to Benefit Croatia"
MYTH: "The Serbo-Croatian Language"
MYTH: "Tudjman and Milosevic Were Late Converts from Communism to Democracy"
MYTH: "Serbs Had No Guaranteed Rights in Croatia"
MYTH: "The Fascist Finders"
MYTH: "The Croatian Coat of Arms is a Fascist Symbol"
MYTH: "In Searcg of the Fascist Ferret"
MYTH: "Yugoslavia"
The Author


For more than 25 years I tried to help the non-Croatians to distinguish between myth and reality about the Croatia and the Croatians. I wrote, in the first place, the Croatia work: Myth and Reality, with the purpose of responding to some of the myths about this country that appear in the English press of speech. Hundreds of copies of the first and second editing, published in 1992 and 1994 respectively, were sent to political journalists, libraries, universities and leaders in the English world of speech, to fight the propaganda campaign that was carried out against the Croatia and Bosnia.

The rights of author corresponding to the Croatia: Myth and Reality were donated to the Croatian University Publishing house of Zagreb. The book was translated to the Croatian by professor Mirjana Turudic like Hrvatska - Mit i Istina. The 9 of May of 1993 I received first five copies of the Croatian editing printed that morning, when it arrived for the first time at the free Croatian ground, in the airport of Zagreb. That was the culmination of one long passage, many miles and many years.

In 1995 the monograph was published in Swedish like Kroatien - Myt och Sanning, and authorizations were granted to translate it to the languages German, Spanish and English. Although the rights corresponding to all these translations were donated, I have received in return, and more than what it had imagined, the wealth of friendships for all the life.

In the first printing of the first editing I tried to be thankful, naming them, to each one of which they supported this effort with its time, resources, previous corrections and investigations. Soon it was made evident that the list could be interminable. With this one, the final editing, I want to express my deep gratefulness to each one of the people who supported this one and other projects during last the 25 years.

Now that the Croatia is free, it will have many friends. But there was a time, not very distant, in which to support the self-determination of the Croatia was not popular and also he was sometimes dangerous, even in the United States of America. Today, the Croatia has many anywhere in the world more friends than they support his fight to maintain his freedom and independence. Perhaps this monograph helps to take the truth more to some people, and leads to some to read works more detailed and more academic about the Croatia and its old history. The Croatia always had a proud history. Today the Croatia has also a shining future.


It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war. In June of 1991 war erupted in Europe for the first time since World War II as Serbia attacked Slovenia, then Croatia and then Bosnia. At the same time another war, a war of propaganda and mythology, was launched in the world press. Identical stories surfaced with identical words in different publications written by different journalists throughout the world. The attack was two- pronged. One goal was to tar the fledgling Croatian government with the brush of fascism, despite the fact that the President of Croatia was a Partizan war hero who fought against the Fascists during World War II, the only living European head of state to have done so.

Another purpose was to mask the reasons for Serbian aggression and to blur the realities of a war prosecuted solely to gain territory and to maintain centralized communism in what was Yugoslavia. At first the disinformation was limited to the writings of avowed leftists and Serbian apologists, but as the war dragged on from months to years, the words and phrases of Serbian mythology appeared over and over again in an ever widening circle that would eventually include the editorial pages of highly respected journals. Yet few of the charges and allegations of the campaign were new. The history of Serbian disinformation can be traced back to the origins of Yugoslavia in 1918. The Communist Party controlled Tanjug news agency, and Television Belgrade continued the battle that was lost in the diplomatic community as one nation after another recognized independent Croatia and Bosnia.

One of the first of the truly new myths appeared on November 20, 1991, as headlines around the world screamed "Croatian Militias Slit Throats of 41 Children." A major news agency reported "The children, between 5 and 7 years old, reportedly were found with their throats cut in the cellar of the kindergarten in Borovo Naselje after Croatian forces abandoned it during the weekend." The children were, according to the report, all Serbs.

This story demonstrated mythology in the making. It was carried on every electronic network and in newspapers throughout the world without any form of confirmation. That the village in question had been under siege for months, that all children had been evacuated months before, and that obviously no kindergarten classes had been held anywhere in the war zone for some time did not seem to catch the attention of a single editor.

The following day some papers ran a retraction in small print after a twenty-two-year-old Serbian news photo-grapher, Goran Miki , admitted that he had fabricated the story. In Belgrade the press never printed the retraction and, in fact, later cited the non-incident in its news coverage as a part of its propaganda campaign.

Propaganda is defined as information and opinions, especially prejudiced ones, spread to influence people in favor of or against some doctrine or idea. Myth is defined as an old traditional story or legend. Mythology represents a body of myths. Over the past seventy years a great deal of propaganda has become mythology with a life of its own, growing and changing with each retelling. Old myths were resurrected and embellished by propagandists and by journalists and others attempting to understand the Serbian wars of aggression. Regardless of motivation, the result was the same another generation was introduced to the heat of mythology and denied the light of reality.

Some myths are new; others are very old. The myth of the forty- one children reported on one day and retracted the next will no doubt find its way into some history book, somewhere, as fact and will become a part of the mythology.

Newer myths were created not only by Serbian mythologists but by the very press that was supposed to report, not create, the news. On August 15, 1995, newspapers around the world ran a wire-service photograph of what at first appears to be a Croatian soldier with his arm raised in a fascist salute with a caption that the soldier was doing exactly that during the playing of the Croatian national anthem.

by Associated Press

However, thousands of people all over the world saw the same picture on Croatian television via satellite, with both arms raised in a "V" for victory with dozens of other soldiers around him doing the same to the cheers of a welcoming crowd, not to the sound of a national anthem. A close look at the photo revealed that the man's left arm was also raised. His right arm was stiff because he had been wounded and his elbow was tightly bandaged.

To the credit of the some in the press, The San Francisco Chronicle and other papers immediately removed the photograph and caption from early editions after, as Chronicle editor William German stated, "Some doubts were raised." Despite editor German's request, the wire service not only refused to retract the caption but defended what has come to be called the "salute hoax."

On the following pages, old myths and emerging myths are explored and exposed to reality. Some have simple explanations; others are complex. Some are gruesome and distasteful. This work is intended to shed light, not heat, to bring myths from the shadows into the realm of reality.


Croatia emerged as a unified nation state in 925 A.D. and, through a personal union under a single king, joined what would become the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the twelfth century. Throughout the history of the Empire, Croatia maintained varying degrees of autonomy with its own Ban or Viceroy and Sabor or Parliament, which first met in 679 A.D. Following World War I, Croatia was absorbed into the new artificial state that would become Yugoslavia. From 1918-1941, the first Yugoslavia was little more than an extension of Serbia with a Serbian king, ruling from the Serbian capital of Belgrade, with Serbian laws. This marked the first time in history that the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, and Macedonians had lived together in a single state. The history of royalist Yugoslavia was marked by the brutal suppression of Croatian political, human, and civil rights.

The Croatian nation rallied around the Croatian Peasant Party and Stjepan Radic, its elderly, nearly blind, pacifist leader. Radic, along with four other Croatian leaders, was gunned down by a Serbian Deputy on the floor of Parliament in 1928. Serbian King Alexander Karageorgevic followed this blow by declaring himself absolute dictator and banning all political parties. Croatian Parliamentary Deputy Ante Pavelic then formed the Ustase ("Insurgent") Croatian Liberation Movement to gain independence by force. Alexander was assassinated in 1934 and was succeeded by his cousin Prince Regent Paul, an Oxford educated half Russian who cared little about politics or Yugoslavia.

World War II

Between 1934 and 1941 Yugoslavia moved closer to Hitler under the leadership of Milan Stojadinovic, who formed his own storm troops and adopted the title Vodja or Fuhrer. Later Premier Dragisa Cvetkovic would lead Yugoslavia into the Axis fold with Mussolini and Hitler on March 24, 1941. Almost immediately a military coup was staged by two Serbian air force generals assisted by the British secret service.

Finding instability on his southern flank unacceptable on the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler ordered the immediate conquest of Yugoslavia. The Serbdominated army surrendered without a fight. The Government and Serbian royal family fled to Britain with millions in gold and established the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile which laid the entire blame for the war and defeat on the Croatians.

Pavelic's Ustase immediately took control of Croatia including Bosnia and Hercegovina. The new Croatian state was divided into German and Italian occupation zones while Italy annexed large parts of Dalmatian Croatia outright. Italy declared Croatia to be an Italian Kingdom and even named a king who never set foot in his erstwhile domain. The Croatian State, known by its Croatian initials NDH, never fully gained control of the country but mounted a fierce resistance against the Serbian Royalist Cetnik and Communist-led Partizans operating in Croatia and Bosnia. The Croatian state also sent air, naval, and infantry units to fight on the Russian Front. Most of the infantry perished at Stalingrad. Serbia became a Nazi puppet state under General Milan Nedic who intensified the persecution of Jews, Gypsies, and Croatians that had begun under the royalist regime before the War.

On June 22, 1941, now a national holiday in Croatia, a unit of forty Croatian Partizans launched an attack on occupation forces near the Croatian city of Sisak. This marked the beginning of the first, largest, and only successful war of liberation against the Nazis. The Partizans, led by a Croatian, Josip Broz Tito, were disproportionatly Croatian in number. By 1943 over 300,000 Partizans had liberated large sections of Croatia and Bosnia establishing a state that was recognized by the Allies as the legal government the following year.

While the Partizans consisted of fighters of every nationality, only two divisions were Serbian, one was Montenegrian, seven were Bosnian and eleven were Croatian. Much of the leadership of the Partizans was communist and the outlawed Communist Party contributed the organizational structure needed to emerge victorious. However, ninty-five per cent of the Partizans were noncommunist peasants and workers of every political stripe, especially members of the Croatian Peasant Party. Each fought for the promise of a democratic and autonomous Croatia within a new federal Yugoslavia.

Hundreds of thousands perished in the multi-faceted war among Partizan, German, Italian, Croatian, and various Serbian forces. As the war drew to a close, thousands of Cetnik went over to the Partizans en masse. Unlike the latest conflict in Croatia and Bosnia, which was often mislabeled a "civil war," World War II in Croatia was indeed a civil war with cousins fighting against cousins and even brother against brother.


Myth: The people of Croatia asked to join Serbia in forming Yugoslavia in 1918.

Reality: The people of Croatia did not ask to join Serbia in 1918. The elected representatives of the Croatian people voted for a "Neutral and Peasant Republic of Croatia" in 1918.

The Yugoslav Committee

The basis of the myth that Croatia willingly joined Serbia in 1918 is to be found in the complex history of the Yugoslav Committee. The Yugoslav Committee was formed by exiles living outside the Croatian homeland during World War I. The Committee was led by Franjo Supilo and Ante Trumbic and included the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Each repudiated the Committee within a few years of the founding of Yugoslavia. "Yugoslavs" were Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian people who identified themselves with the movement toward a single Yugoslav or South Slavic state. Exiled Yugoslavs living in North America and Britain were the primary supporters of the Yugoslav Committee. Having established offices in London and Paris as early as 1915, the Yugoslav Committee became an active lobby for the cause of a united South Slav state during the First World War.

The concept of a unified South Slavic state had been discussed by Croatian and Slovenian intellectuals since the mid-nineteenth century. However, the "Yugoslav Idea" did not mature from the conceptual to practical state of planning. Few of those promoting such an entity had given any serious consideration to what form the new state should take. Nevertheless, the Yugoslav Committee issued a manifesto calling for the formation of such a South Slavic state on May 12, 1915. The document, like the rhetoric of those who produced it, was vague concerning the form and system of government. It received little official recognition.

At the same time Serbia, led by Nikola Pasic's pan-Serbian Radical Party, saw the "Yugoslav" concept as a useful tool in the long sought development of a "Greater Serbia."

As the War dragged on, the Allies began to think of the concept of Yugoslavia as a blocking force in the Balkans to counter future German expansionism. Although no formal agreement was announced until July 1917, the Yugoslav Committee and the Serbian Government-in-Exile worked hand-in-hand from November 1916 onward.

On July 20, 1917 the Serbian government and the Yugoslav Committee issued the text of an agreement known as the Declaration of Corfu which called for the formation of a multi-national state. The document was deliberately mute as to whether the government would take the form of Western-oriented Croatia or of the Eastern-oriented Serbia.

The vast majority of the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian people had no knowledge of the declaration made by a small group of exiled intellectuals and the Serbian Government-in-Exile. Nonetheless, the signers claimed to speak for all South Slavic peoples and the Declaration of Corfu became the justification claimed by Serbia for the forced unification of Croatians and Slovenes under the Serbian crown.

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes

As the War drew to a close, the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to disintegrate. The Croatian Sabor or Parliament met in Zagreb on October 29, 1918 to declare "the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia" to be a free and independent state. The Habsburg Crown recognized Croatia and transferred the Austro-Hungarian fleet to the Croatian government on October 31st. The Croatian government in Zagreb was fully formed before the fall of Austria on November 3, Germany on November 11, and Hungary on November 13.

The Yugoslav National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was organized in Zagreb on October 15, 1918. This twenty-eight member Council was self-appointed, not elected. Although its president was a Slovene, the Council was dominated by Svetozar Pribicevic, a Serb. On November 24th this self-appointed group called for a common state with Serbia. This is the body so often cited as having "asked" to join Yugoslavia.

The mythology overlooks another Congress held just blocks away on the very next day. This was the Congress of Stjepan Radic's Croatian Peasant Party attended by almost three thousand elected delegates from every part of Croatia. The Peasant Party was the largest and most popular party in Croatia at that time and would remain so during the period between the Wars. It won absolute majorities in every subsequent election. This Congress assailed the National Council as arbitrary and unconstitutional and unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a "Neutral and Peasant Republic of Croatia." Following this Congress, there were huge demonstrations in the streets of Zagreb supporting independence.

Zagreb's brief jubilation quickly changed to the sober realization that Croatia would again be ruled from a foreign capital as Italian, French and French African forces invaded from the west and Serbian troops invaded from the east.

On December 1, 1918, Serbian Prince Alexander announced the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, with a Serbian King ruling from the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Despite the neutral sounding name, the country was called Yugoslavia by the diplomatic community almost from the beginning. Ironically, at the Paris Peace Conference the Yugoslav delegation openly insisted that it be known as the "Serbian Delegation."

The Paris Peace Conference

At the Peace Conference itself, the Croatians submitted a petition to President Wilson calling for an independent Croatia. With over 150,000 signatures and the notation that another 450,000 signatures had been seized by the Serbian Army, the document specifically asked:

That Mr. Wilson and the representatives of the great Powers should recognize the independence of the Croatian people;
That an international Commission should be sent to Croatia to inquire;
That a Constituent Assembly should be formed so that the Croatian people be free to decide their fate;
That the Serbian Army be withdrawn;
That the Sabor, should be respected as being alone authorized to the making of laws in Croatia; today, they are being dictated by Serbia and executed in the most brutal manner by the military.

Although submitted to the Paris Peace Conference on May 4th, 1919, the objections of the Croatian people were noted and then ignored by the United States and other so-called "Great Powers." President Wilson's famed Fourteen Points for which America had fought a World War were undergoing a metamorphosis at the Conference. Point X originally called for "...the freest opportunity of autonomous development" for the nations of Austria-Hungary and Point XI stipulated that "relations of the several Balkan states to one another be determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and for international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states."

The American delegation's commentary on the revision of Wilson's famous Fourteen Points noted that: An internal problem arises out of the refusal of the Croats to accept the domination of the Serbs of the Serbian Kingdom. In a classic example of diplomatic double-speak the delegation wrote: The United States is clearly committed to the programme of national unity and independence. It must stipulate, however, for the protection of national minorities...it supports a programme aiming at a Confederation of Southeastern Europe. Thus, in the eyes of the victorious Allies, in order to protect the Croatian nation, it was necessary to destroy it.

There was no vote of the Croatian people about their future. By decree, Prince Alexander dissolved the Croatian National Council, convened a Parliament composed primarily of members of the Serbian Skupstina or Parliament and declared that all laws of the Serbian Constitution of 1903 were in effect throughout the land. Despite the fact that the purpose of the new Yugoslavia was supposed to be the unification of all South Slavs into one state, Serbia, making good on a secret pact with Italy made in 1915, handed over a large part of the land and population of Croatian Dalmatia to Italy, including the strategic cities of Rijeka and Zadar. For the first time in thirteen centuries the ancient Croatian institutions of Ban or Viceroy and Sabor or Parliament were abolished by the Serbian King. The long process of "Serbization" had begun.


Myth: King Alexander Karageorgevic was assassinated by a Croatian Ustase terrorist. In an interesting anti-Catholic twist a writer to the Hayward, California, Daily Review declared that the Croatian assassin fled to and was harbored by the Vatican.

Reality: King Alexander Karageorgevic was assassinated by a Macedonian named Vlada Gheorghieff, a member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Gheorghieff did not flee to the Vatican. He was attacked on the spot by French police and died the evening of the assassination.

This myth was one of the first to be cultivated by Serbian disinformation artists almost immediately after Alexander's death in 1934. Despite the fact that this was the first assassination to be captured on motion picture film and the identity of the gunman was known throughout the world, the "Croatian assassin" myth can be found in encyclopedias and otherwise scholarly works. The story of Alexander's death began years earlier when the Croatian pacifist leader Stjepan Radic and four other Croatian leaders were gunned down by a Serbian Deputy on the floor of Parliament. Alexander followed this blow by declaring himself King Dictator on January 6, 1929, abolishing any pretense of constitutionality. Using murder as an instrument of government, he outlawed all political parties, began persecution of Jews and quickly became one of the most hated dictators in Europe.

When the famed Croatian intellectual Milan Sufflay was brutally murdered by Alexander's secret police, even Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann joined in the international chorus of condemnation of the regime writing in the New York Times of May 6, 1931:

"The facts show that cruelty and brutality practiced upon the Croatians only increase... Murder as a political weapon must not be tolerated and political Serbian murderers must not be made national heroes"

By 1934, more than 19,000 Croatians had been sentenced to prison for up to twenty years or more and over two hundred had received the death penalty for violations of the draconian catch-all decree known as the "Act for Defense of the Realm." Hundreds more "committed suicide," died of illness in prison or were shot by gendarmes in the "suppression of rebellion." Montenegrins, Slovenes, Macedonians and even democratic Serbs did not fair much better under Alexander's despotic rule.

Having removed all peaceful options for change, Alexander, like Hitler and Mussolini, lived in fear for his life with good cause. From the founding of Serbia in 1804 to the founding of Yugoslavia in 1918, there were eleven reigns. Over this 114 year period the average reign was less than ten years. Of all rulers in Serbian history, only two, Milos and Petar I, died on the throne of natural causes, and both of them had come to power after being in exile. The Karageorgevic "dynasty" was founded by Karageorge ("Black George") Petrovic, a pig farmer who by his own admission killed 125 men with his own hands, his stepfather and brother among them. He was killed by Milos in 1817. Black George's son Alexander returned to the throne in 1842 but was deposed by the rival Obrenovic "dynasty" and died in exile in 1885. Alexander Obrenovic and his queen were in turn murdered in 1903 by Petar I, father of Alexander of Yugoslavia. Alexander came to power only because his older brother Prince George murdered his valet and was forced to renounce his claim to the throne.


The legacy of Serbia's kings, Alexander's oppression and the wrath of those who escaped it came together on October 9, 1934, when the Yugoslav cruiser Dubrovnik steamed into the port of Marseilles, France, with Alexander on board. Under his tight-fitting admiral's uniform the King wore his customary bullet-proof vest. Because of the size of the Dubrovnik, the ship anchored in the bay and Alexander came ashore on a smaller boat, leaving most of his ninety-man bodyguard behind.


Alexander had been on French soil less than five minules when Vlada Gheorghieff mounted the running board of Alexander's car and opened fire with a twenty round Mauser machine pistol, killing the King, French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou and two bystanders. Gheorghieff, a Macedonian by birth and a Bulgarian citizen, was a member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization which sought to free Macedonia from Yugoslavia. French Colonel Piolet, mounted on horseback beside the car, immediately drew his saber and attacked Gheorghieff who died later that evening. The famed French defender Georges Desbonnes later recalled that "out of respect for His Majesty, the physicians did not examine the king's whole upper torso, missing at first the mortal wound through Alexander's back.

The entire event was captured on film and covered by dozens of journalists and witnessed by hundreds of people. Alexander was among the most hated and feared dictators in Europe, and a half dozen or more other wouldbe assassins of various nationalities were waiting in Marseilles that day. Because Alexander's mortal wound was in his back, and Gheorghieff at his front, Georges Desbonnes was sure that a bullet from one of Alexander's wildly firing bodyguards actually killed him. In any event, there is no historical question that a Macedonian-born Bulgarian citizen and member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Movement by the name of Vlada Gheorghieff mounted the running board, pulled the trigger, was struck down on the spot, died in custody that evening and was laid to rest in a Marseilles cemetery in the presence of two detectives and a grave digger.


Myth: All Croatians were Fascists during World War II. All Serbs were Pro-Allies

The Serbian apologist writer Nora Beloff writing in the Washington Post may have been the first to add the astounding claim that "all Serbs were pro-Allied."

Reality: Like virtually every country on the European continent during World War II, both Croatia and Serbia had pro-Axis governments during World War II. All of the nations of Yugoslavia had elements which supported the Axis and all had elements that were anti-Axis during the War. However, it was the Croatian dominated Partisans, led by the Croatian Josip Broz Tito which formed the only true anti-Fascist fighting force in Yugoslavia and the most formidable Allied force in occupied Europe during World War II.

Flirting with Fascism

World War II came to Yugoslavia as a direct result of the pro-Axis sentiments of the Serbian controlled Yugoslav government.

Under Prince Paul Yugoslavia moved steadily away from France and toward Germany after the death of King Alexander. As early as February of 1936 Hitler promised to support the government of Premier Milan Stojadinovic. By 1937 Stojadinovic had visited Mussolini, developed his own squad of "Green Shirts" and adopted the Nazi salute. It was perhaps taking the title Vodja (Fuhrer) that finally sent Prince Paul into action, replacing Stojadinovic with Dragisa Cvetkovic who maintained the same pro-Axis foreign policy but with fewer Fascist trappings.

Prince Paul saw the Third Reich as the only power able to maintain the artificial state of Yugoslavia and he began secret negotiations with top Nazi officials in December 1939. He hoped that he could become King under the New Order, denying the young Crown Prince Peter his title. Yugoslavia joined the Axis on March 24, 1941.

The only member of the government who refused to sign the "Pact of Steel" joining the Axis was the Croatian minister, Vladko Macek of the Croatian Peasant Party.

After the signing Cvetkovic assured Hitler that Yugoslavia "...would be ready to cooperate with Germany in every way." In fact, Paul had been cooperating since 1939 with mass arrests of Jews, strict racial laws, and the prohibition of trade unions. By 1940, legislation had been passed limiting the types of businesses which Jews could own, direct, or work in and severely limiting educational access for Jews. A secret protocol was attached to the Axis pact which promised Yugoslavia access to the Aegean Sea at the expense of Greece in the New Order.

Coup and Invasion

On March 26, 1941 two Serbian generals, Bora Mirkovic and Dusan Simovic, led a British-assisted coup against the Cvetkovic government. The Anglo-American press went wild with stories about the Serbs' stand against the Axis. In fact, the coup had its roots in both foreign and domestic policy. Lost in the mythology is the fact that the generals did not think Germany would invade and wanted to maintain cordial relations with the Axis.

On March 30 the Yugoslav Foreign Minister made a formal statement to the German envoy that the new government respected the Axis pact and that Simovic was "devoted to the maintenance of good and friendly relations with its neighbors the German Reich and the Kingdom of Italy."

Lost in the mythology is the fact that the generals did not think Germany would invade and wanted to maintain cordial relations with the Axis. On March 30, the Yugoslav Foreign Minister made a formal statement to the German envoy that the new government respected the Axis pact and that Simovic was "devoted to the maintenance of good and friendly relations with its neighbors the German Reich and the Kingdom of Italy." Simovic believed that his close personal friendship with several top Nazis, especially Reichmarschall Goring, would save the day. His error led to a German invasion on April 6.

Before seeing a single German soldier, the Serbian-led army withdrew from Slovenia and Croatia to defend Serbia, leaving the Croatians and Slovenes without supplies or ammunition. Most Croatian soldiers simply went home. The Yugoslav military disintegrated at first sight of the Germans as 100 of 135 generals in the top-heavy Serbian officer corps surrendered during the first week. Belgrad was taken by a single platoon of Waffen-SS shock troops led by a second lieutenant on April 12.

As General Simovic and his government fled the country with millions in gold, only the Croatian Peasant Party minister Vladko Macek stayed to share the fate of his people. Once a safe distance from the fighting, Simovic immediately announced that Yugoslavia had fallen because of the Croatians, all of whom were traitors and Fascists. Ignoring the military abandonment of Croatia and Slovenia, the mass surrender of the Serbian officer corps, and the obvious fact that the entire government had fled, Simovic announced that Serbia had been stabbed in the back.

The Yugoslav ambassador to the United States, Konstatin Fotic, worked overtime spreading the tale that Yugoslavia had been defeated only because of Croatian disloyalty, despite the fact that his cousin headed the new pro-Nazi government in Serbia and that another cousin was leader of the Serbian Nazi Party.

The Croatian State

The Croatian State Croatia was occupied by Germany and Italy and divided into German and Italian occupation zones. The Independent State of Croatia was established with the consent of Germany and against the expressed wishes of Italy which wanted to make it an Italian Kingdom. Italy went so far as to name a "King of Croatia" who never set foot in his erstwhile kingdom.

The Croatian government was led by Ante Pavelic and his Ustase movement. Pavelic had been an elected Deputy in Parliament and vice-president of the Croatian Bar Association when Alexander declared the dictatorship and dissolved Parliament. Pavelic founded the Ustase in exile with the aim of liberating Croatia by force. When war broke out, underground Ustase throughout Croatia took control of the government well before the Germans arrived.

As in the Soviet Union, when the Germans did arrive, they were at first welcomed as liberators. The new Croatian government adopted German racial and economic laws and persecuted Jews, Serbs, Communists, Peasant Party leaders and others. While fighting primarily for its own survival against Serbian Cetniks who wanted to restore the Serbian monarchy and the Communist-led Partisans, the Croatian State joined the Axis and later sent troops to the Russian front.

While the majority of the Croatian people favored an independent Croatian state, many did not support the Ustase regime. 'When the war broke out there were fewer than twelve thousand members of the movement representing less than one per cent of the Croatian population. At its height in 1942, there were only sixty thousand Ustase. Over sixty per cent were from impoverished Western Herzegovina with a strong anti-Serbian sentiment from the dictatorship of Alexander. Some twenty per cent were Muslims who joined in direct response to Serbian massacres in Bosnia.

The leader of Croatia's popular Peasant Party was jailed by the regime during the War. Many members of the Croatian officer corps were pro-Allied and supported the Croatian Peasant Party. In September 1944 pro-Allied officers attempted a coup against Pavelic. The plotters had been promised an Anglo-American landing in Dalmatia and would have turned the Croatian Army against Germany to support the Allied invasion. The landing never took place. Dr. Ivan Subasic of the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile learned of the plot and informed the Soviets. Stalin immediately contacted Roosevelt and informed him that any such, action would be a violation of the Tehran agreement dividing Europe into spheres of influence. Roosevelt canceled all plans for the landing but British secret channels withheld the information from the Croatians on the premise that any revolt, even one doomed to failure, was better for the Allied cause than nothing.

Serbia and the Cetniks

In Serbia, a new pro-Nazi government was first established under the leadership of Milan Asimovic and later under former Minister of War General Milan Nedic which governed until 1945. Nedic supported Hitler and met with him in 1943. This new government established even harsher racial laws than Prince Paul had enacted and immediately established three concentration camps for Jews, Gypsies and others. Nedic formed his own paramilitary storm troops known as the State Guard. The Guard was comprised of former members of the Cetniks which had existed as an all-Serbian para-military police force under Alexander and Paul to enforce loyally from non-Serbian members of the armed forces.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated, one faction of cetniks swore allegiance to the new Serbian Nazi government. Another group remained under the pre-war leader Kosta Pecanac who openly collaborated with the Germans. A third Cetnik faction followed the Serbian Fascist Dimitrije Ljotic. Ljotic's units were primarily responsible for tracking down Jews, Gypsies and Partisans for execution or deportation to concentration camps. By August 1942 the Serbian government would proudly announce that Belgrade was the first city in the New Order to be Judenfrei or "free of Jews." Only 1,115 of Belgrade's twelve thousand Jews would survive. Ninty-five per cent of the Jewish population of Serbia was exterminated.

Still other Cetniks rallied behind Draza Mihailovic, a 48 year-old Army officer who had been court-martialed by Nedic and was known to have close ties to Britain. Early in the War Mihailovic offered some resistance to the German forces while collaborating with the Italians. By July 22, 1941 the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile announced that continued resistance was impossible. Although Mihailovic and his exiled government would maintain a fierce propaganda campaign to convince the Allies that his Cetniks were inflicting great damage on the Axis, the Cetniks did little for the war effort and openly collaborated with the Germans and Italians while fighting Ustase and Partizans. At its peak, Mihailovic's Cetniks claimed to have three hundred thousand troops. In fact they never numbered over thirty-one thousand.

Mihailovic was executed in 1946 for treason. The extent of Cetnik collaboration with the German and Italian armies as well as their vicious war against the pro-Allied Partisans is well documented in dozens of books, including Professor J. Tomasevich's scholarly and definitive work The Chetniks.

The Partisans

The Partisans, founded by Josip Broz Tito, a Croatian Communist, represented the only true resistance to the Axis in Yugoslavia during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of Croatians joined the Partisans and thirty-nine of the Partisan's eighty brigades were Croatian. On June 22, 1941 Croatian Partisans began what would come to be known as the War of Liberation in Yugoslavia. On July 13, 1943 a Democratic Republic of Croatia under the leadership of Andrija Hebrang was declared in those areas occupied by the Croatian Partisan forces. As the war progressed more and more Croatians, especially from Dalmatia, joined the Partisans.

Serbs joined in great numbers late in the War as entire Cetnik units changed their allegiance. By 1943 Allied support shifted to Tito and by 1944 the Partisans were the only recognized Allied force fighting in Yugoslavia. The complexities of World War II saw Croatian fighting Croatian, Serb fighting Serb, and both fighting each other as well as German, Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces.

Both Serbia and Croatia, like Finland, Hungary, France and virtually every other nation in Europe, were occupied by the Axis and had governments which collaborated with the Axis. Both Croatia and Serbia also had Partisan governments fighting for the Allies. A half century later Germany and Japan were again great world powers and Italy was a full partner in the European community while Croatia, having been occupied by Germany and Italy, continued to be tarred with the brush of Fascism by Belgrade's mythology. Simovic believed that his close personal friendship with several top Nazis, especially Reichmarschall Goring, would save the day. His error led to a German invasion on April 6.

Post-War Myths

In many countries after the War, the numbers and deeds of resistance fighters grew more and more impressive as the years passed. For example, the famed French Resistance existed primarily in Hollywood where studios released film after film about the underground which was virtually nonexistent in Vichy France. In post-war Yugoslavia the deeds of the Partizans took on mythical proportions as monuments to the heroes of the Liberation War were erected in every village. As more and more benefits were announced for veterans, more and more veterans appeared. Exiled Cetnik claimed that it was they, not the Partizans, who held down "dozens" of Nazi divisions. Depending on which source was cited, up to twenty "crack" Nazi divisions were tied down in Yugoslavia. The numbers were cited frequently by politicians and even military "experts" opposing intervention to stop Serbian aggression in the 1990s.

Although the official Partizan history lists thirtytwo German divisions, there were never twenty or even twelve full German divisions in all of Yugoslavia during World War II. After the initial invasion, Italy occupied or annexed one third of Croatia and a few German units remained in the NDH. None could be considered elite.

Three "German" divisions, the 369th, 373rd and 392nd Infantry Divisions in Croatia and Bosnia were in fact manned by Croatian soldiers with Volksdeutsche ethnic German officers. Attempts to form a Bosnian Muslim division failed when the conscripts revolted against the Germans at a training base south of Le Puy, France in September 1943. It was the only large-scale mutiny within the German army during the War.

The only unit that might be considered "elite" in name only, was the 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs- Division "Prinz Eugen, " (7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division). Despite its name, it never reached division strength, its ranks consisted primarily of Volksdeutsche conscripted from Yugoslavia's 700,000 ethnic Germans, and its commanding officer was a general in the Rumanian Army. The "Division's" weapons and vehicles came from captured stores or were appropriated from the postal service.

[Popular myth, especially in film, depicts the SS as an elite force of dedicated Nazi volunteers of pure Germanic blood. That was largely true in 1939, but because the SS could not draft within Germany, most SS divisions were manned by conscripted non-Germans by 1944. By War's end, Indians wearing turbans, Muslims in fezes, and Vietnamese former French Foreign Legionnaires could be found in the "elite" Waffen-SS!]

The complexities of World War II saw Croatian fighting Croatian, Serb fighting Serb, and both fighting each other as well as German, Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces. Both Serbia and Croatia, like Finland, Hungary, France and virtually every other nation in Europe had governments which collaborated with the Axis.

Both Croatia and Serbia also had Partizan governments fighting for the Allies. A half century later Germany and Japan were again great world powers and Italy was a full partner in the European community while Croatia, having been occupied by Germany and Italy, continued to be tarred with the brush of fascism. Unlike many other European countries, Croatia attempted to deal with the realities of its past. At the commemoration events marking the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995, a wreath was laid at the Oltar Domovine, the monument to fallen Partizans and at the graves of the leaders of the anti-fascist movement. The following week a ceremony commemorated those who were killed by the communists in the post-War Bleiburg Massacres. Finally, a ceremony was held at Jacenovac the sits of a concentration camp run during the war by the NHD and for two years after the war by the communists. On Croatia's National Day in May of 1995, for the 1st time, World War II veterans of Croatia's Domobrans and Partizans marched side-by- side in a parade. The Second World War had finally ended in Croatia.


Myth: The Croatian wartime Chief-of-State Ante Pavelic routinely maintained a basket containing twenty kilos of human eyeballs at his desk side.

Reality: This statement is literally a work of fiction taken from the novel Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte (Kurt Suckert, also known as Gianni Strozzi). The book was written as fiction, sold as fiction, and is cataloged in every library in the world as fiction. To cite Kaputt as a source about World War II is analogous to citing 'Gone With the Wind' as an authoritative history of the American Civil War.

That this tired tale is still being retold is the second most amazing part of this myth. More amazing is that anybody, no matter how blinding their hatred of Croatians, could believe it. And yet this myth was quoted as fact as recently as 1991 in official publications printed in Belgrade by the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia and repeated by naive journalists in Britain and North America.


The myth survived and was given renewed life by the Serbian government, journalists and politicians because it came with quotation marks. The legend had a footnote, a citation, an author and all the trappings of fact. The author was often cited as "the most famous Italian writer," "the Italian journalist" and even the "famed Italian historian," Curzio Malaparte.

His famous quote from the 1946 English translation of the novel 'Kaputt' reads:

"While he spoke, I gazed at a wicker basket on the Poglavnik's desk (Poglavnik was Ante Pavelic's title). The lid was raised and the basket seemed to be filled with mussels, or shelled oysters -- as they are occasionally displayed in the windows of Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly in London. Casertano looked at me and winked, "Would you like a nice oyster stew-! "Are they Dalmatian oysters?" I asked the Poglavnik. Ante Pavelic removed the lid from the basket and revealed the mussels, that slimy and jelly-like mass, and he said smiling, with that tired good-natured smile of his, "It is a present from my loyal ustashis. Forty pounds of human eyes."

'Kaputt' and its author both had fascinating stories to tell. In the original press release for the book, Malaparte claimed that the manuscript was started in the Ukraine in 1941 and smuggled throughout Europe in secret coat linings and in the soles of his shoes. Finally, the manuscript was divided into three parts and given to three diplomats, to be reunited in 1943 on Capri where it was finished. The book chronicled Malaparte's movements around Europe in 1941 and 1942 when he visited every front and knew every head of state, usually on a first name basis.

Malaparte apparently spoke every language and shared the charms of every beautiful princess on the continent. According to his own preface to Kaputt, his personal friendships with Mussolini, Hitler and others did not save him from being thrown into jail in July 1943 for being anti-German. Miraculously, he was soon freed and was working for the Allies by September of that year. It was while working as a propagandist for the Allies that Malaparte completed Kaputt, a book which he described as "...horribly gay and gruesome." The critics agreed. Malaparte's two major books, 'Kaputt' and 'Skin' were labeled "Best selling Nausea" by Time magazine which christened Malaparte as "...a sort of Jean Paul Spillane."

Malaparte's writings contained page after page of sordid tales about the evil world of Fascist Europe. Malaparte's basket of human eyeballs must be taken in context, as Time magazine wrote in 1952: He shows "mothers who sell their children into prostitution"; but then, says Malaparte with a smirk, "there are also the children who would gladly sell their mothers." He dwells for part of a chapter on a street peopled with twisted female dwarfs, who fed, he asserts gleefully, on the unnatural lust in the American ranks.

Another chapter is concerned with a visit to a shop that sells blonde pubic wigs. U.S. soldiers, Malaparte explains, like blondes. These offensive themes only scratch the surface of Malaparte's sick writings. That the Allies won the War through the devices of a "homosexual maquis," flags of human skin, and an Allied general who served his guests a boiled child are all included in Malaparte's fare.


"Malaparte" himself was an enigma. He was born Kurt Erich Suckert in 1898 in Prato, Italy of Austrian, Russian and Italian descent. He attended the Collegio Cicognini and the University of Rome. He joined the Fascists at an early age and soon became the darling of the Fascist Propaganda Ministry where he wrote glowing volumes and even a work of poetry in praise of Mussolini. He served as a journalist for Corriere della Sera and traveled to Ethiopia in 1939. What happened after that depends upon which "Malaparte" is read. The world-traveling statesman fictionalized in his novels spent the war years in almost constant meetings with the likes of Mussolini, Count Ciano, Ante Pavelic and the rich and powerful of Europe. Interestingly, Pavelic's name was misspelled "Pavelich" (harder sounding ch instead of softer sounding ch) in all of his writings.

Later, Malaparte claimed to have been one of "three Italian officers who organized the Italian Army of Liberation which fought for the Allies."

Just as he had served the Fascists and the Communists, Malaparte sought to ingratiate himself with his new masters. "The American Army is the kindest army in the world...I like Americans...and I proved it a hundred times during the war...their souls are pure, much purer than ours,"

In November of 1952 a far different Malaparte wrote that in fact he had fallen out with Mussolini in 1934. Not only did he never meet most of the great leaders he wrote about, he admitted: "In 1938 I still remained under police control and was put in prison as a preventive measure every time a Nazi chief visited Rome...and from 1933 until the liberation, I was deprived of a passport..." Once called "Fascism's Strongest Pen,"

The Italian Defense Ministry did confirm that he once served as a liaison officer to the Allies, but flatly denied that he had anything to do with organizing Italy's Army of Liberation. A prolific author of short stories and fictionalized accounts of Fascist victories, Suckert-Malaparte-Strozzi did interview Ante Pavelic during the War. The interview recounted in Kaputt, in Pavelic's office, was recorded on film. There is no basket or any conversation regarding a basket to be seen.

After the War, Malaparte continued to write, as well as direct and produce movies, and was active in the Communist Party. In the Spring of 1957 the Party sent him on a comradely visit to China. Shortly after his return, he died on July 19, 1957. An enigma to the end, the viciously anti-Catholic Malaparte renounced Communism and converted to Catholicism on his death bed. Later, Malaparte's friend and fellow journalist Victor Alexandrov let it be known that Malaparte had admitted the story was fiction. Thus Curzio Malaparte and his unpleasant fiction have been relegated to the dust bin of literary history in all of the world except Belgrade. After the fall of Mussolini he began writing under the name Gianni Strozzi for the Communist daily L'Unita. That year he applied for, but was refused, Communist Party membership. Still later, he went to work for the Allied Fifth Army Headquarters as a minor liaison officer. Malaparte gushed. Malaparte angered Hitler with a book written in 1931 about the techniques of the coup d' etat. He was jailed by Mussolini from 1933 to 1938 and kept on a very short leash for the remainder of the Fascist era.


Myth: Between 500,000 and 2,000,000 Serbs were murdered by the Croatian government during World War II.

Reality: The exact number of war victims in Yugoslavia during World War II may never be known due to fifty years of intentional disinformation by the Yugoslavian and Serbian governments, Serbian exile groups, and others. However, it is likely that approximately one million people of all nationalities died of war-related causes in all of Yugoslavia during World War II and that as many as 125,000 Serbs died of war-related causes in Croatia during the War. The question of war losses during World War II represents the most divisive, heated and emotional issue among all of the nationalities of the former Yugoslavia during the post-War period.

The bloody multi-sided War in Yugoslavia involved the German, Italian, Ustashe, Partisan, Domobran, White Guard, Slovenian Guard and at least four different; Cetnik armies. The multifaceted war pitted Serbs against Serbs, Croatians against Croatians, Serbs against Croatians, and Serbian Orthodox against Catholics and Muslims. The loss of life was heavy and difficult to document. As the war progressed and even long after the war ended, the mythology of the numbers of victims continued to grow.

The Growing Numbers

On the question of the number of Serbs killed in Croatia, it became possible to simply pick a number and virtually any press medium in the world would publish the figure without question. In one sixty day period in late 1991, David Martin put the number at 500,000 in the New York Times; Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at 750,000 in USA Today; Josif Djordjevich at 1,200,000 in the San Francisco Chronicle; Teddy Preuss at 1,500,000 in the Jerusalem Post; and, setting an all-time record, Peter Jennings' ABC News program set the figure at a record 2,000,000. Further, each of the sources added a separate twist to the number. For some, the number represented total "killed," for others "murdered," others "murdered in concentration camps," and still others did not define how the losses occurred. None listed any source for the figures. To illustrate the magnitude of these charges, it would require killing one person every 90 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire duration of the War to reach Mr. Preuss' figure of 1,500,000. The fact is one million people did not die in Croatia from all causes during the War. Many scholars doubt that there were a million lives lost to war-related causes in all of Yugoslavia during World War II. Yet this mythology runs deeper than virtually any other. As early as April 1942 the Serbian Orthodox Church in America, based upon Mihailovic's reports, claimed that over one million Serbs had already been killed in Croatia. As the war progressed, the numbers continued to grow in the Serbian press until actually exceeding the number of Serbs in Croatia. It must be noted that no Croatian troops set foot in Serbia during World War II. Thus all accounting of Serbian losses must be for those living in Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovnia.

Post-War Accountability

After World War II, the Communist Yugoslav government set the total demographic losses for all of Yugoslavia from all causes at 1,700,000. The figure was never verified and was contradicted by demographic data comparisons between the Yugoslav census of 1931 and 1948. Nevertheless, this figure, which included natural mortality and decreased birth rate, was presented to the West German government for war reparations. At the same time, the Belgrade media began circulation of the figure 750,000 Jews, Gypsies and Serbs killed in Croatia during the War. By 1958 the number 750,000 was used to describe losses at a single camp, Jasenovac. Such high numbers were used not only to gain additional war reparations from Germany, but also to legitimize the Communist governments' role in saving the peoples of Yugoslavia from the horrors of nationalism. Germany refused to accept the 1.7 million figure and demanded documentation. On June 10, 1964 the Yugoslav government secretly ordered that the exact statistics regarding war victims be assembled. The task was completed in the Socialist Republic of Croatia by the Center for the Scientific Documentation of the Institute for the History of the Worker's Movement in Zagreb. By early November, the data had been collected and were sent to the Federal Institute for Statistics in Belgrade. When the data were tabulated, excluding Axis forces, the actual figure was 597,323 deaths for all of Yugoslavia. Of these, 346,740 were Serbians and 83,257 were Croatians for all of Yugoslavia. These figures excluded the deaths of any person who died fighting for the Cetniks, Ustase, regular Croatian Army, Slovenian Home Guards or serving in the German or Italian Armies. The government returned the data for re-tabulation and the figures were confirmed and provided to Germany.

The Data Made Public

In July of 1969, Bruno Busic, an associate at the Center for Scientific Documentation, published data from the 1964 study showing that 185,327 people were thought to have died of all causes in Croatia during the War and that 64,245 may have died in German or Croatian prisons or concentration camps. In September of that year the magazine that published the data was banned and Busic was arrested in 1971. After serving two years in prison he escaped to Paris where he wrote several monographs on political prisoners in Croatia. He was murdered in Paris in October 1978 by the Yugoslav Secret Police. In 1985, the Serbian scholar Bogoljub Kocovic published a major scholarly research work which put the figure for total demographic losses in all of Yugoslavia at 1,985,000 of which 971,000 were war-related. Of these 487,000 were Serbs killed anywhere in Yugoslavia by any side including Germans, Italians, Croatians, Albanians, Hungarians, Soviets, American bombing or by other Serbs. Kocovic concluded that some 125,000 Serbs and 124,000 Croatians died in Croatia during World War II. Kocovic also noted what many previous demographers had ignored. The first post-war census was taken in 1948 and "it is fully justified to take into account these post-war victims of communist terror," in reference to the thousands of Croatians slaughtered in late 1945 and 1946 in what have come to be called the Bleiburg Massacres. In 1989 The Yugoslav Victimological Society and the Zagreb Jewish Community published what is now considered the definitive work by Vladimir Zerjavic which set total war losses at 1,027,000 of which 530,000 were Serbs and 192,000 Croatians. 131,000 Serbs and 106,000 Croatians were listed as having died of all war-related causes in Croatia.

The Myth Grows On

Regardless of which scholarly study is consulted, no study has ever reached the figures so casually thrown about in the media. And despite all scholarly evidence to the contrary, in 1992 the Serbian Ministry of Information in Belgrade continued to claim that 600,000 Serbs were killed and the President of Serbia claimed 750,000 were killed by the Croatians during World War II. The Western media, unfettered by any need for factual documentation not only published these numbers, but, as in the case of ABC News, increased them by over one million victims. The Serbian scholar Bogoljub Kocovic best summarized the dilemma of those who would dare to seek the truth in this complex and volatile history:

Very soon it dawned upon me that the major obstacle to my work would be the myths created over four decades about the number of victims; myths by now deeply implanted in the soul of the people of all religions, political beliefs and nationality; myths which, by repetition became a "reality". There will be many who will reject my study because it does not conform to their beliefs... Many of them are looking for spiritual food to ignite their hatred of the Croats.


Myth: The Croatian government during World War II had a policy of executing downed Allied airmen and dozens of Americans were executed by the Croatians during the War.

Reality: The wartime NDH Croatian government, signatory to the Geneva Conventions, had no policy of executing captured airmen of any nationality. No American airman was executed by the NDH Croatian government during World War II. There is considerable evidence that Allied prisoners of war in Croatia were very well treated in captivity. As many as 1600 American airmen were rescued by Croatian and Bosnian Partizans and returned to service. Almost unique among myths, it is possible to actually trace the origin of this story back to its source; "the Balkan Intelligence Chief."

Reader's Digest

At INS headquarters in Los Angeles, kept under lock and key and marked "secret" is the file of Andrija Artukovic....According to the testimony of one American Intelligence chief in the Balkans section during the Second World War, he also approved orders that sent dozens of American pilots to firing squads

The preceding quotation made its international debut in the December 1973 issue of Reader's Digest magazine. No author or source was given. Like most myths, it took on a life of its own and more recent versions have added the "official policy of the Croatian government."

When asked to name the "American Intelligence chief' or cite their sources, the editors of Reader's Digest first claimed that the article had been "carefully checked by our research and legal departments and we believe they found adequate support for a.ll the factual statements." Despite hundreds of requests from scholars, political leaders, the media-watch organization Accuracy in Media, and others, the magazine was never able to produce the name of the intelligence officer or any evidence that a single American was executed by the Croatian NDH government during the War.

By April of 1974, Reader's Digest began refernng all inquires to their legal department. Finally on March 25, 1974 the editors, responding to a formal request by California State Assemblyman Doug Carter, admitted that the charges were "claims and allegations, not necessarily fully documented facts."

The "Balkan Intelligence Chief"

The myth did not originate with the Reader's Digest in 1973. The identity of the "Balkan Intelligence Chief" can be traced back to the June 26, 1958 edition of a small California newspaper, the Palos Verdes News when John J. Knezevich, its Serbian-American publisher wrote:

During the last war, I was head of the Balkin (sic) section of the United States Army and Navy Joint Intelligence Collection Agency...I know whereof I am speaking."

Knezevich went on to accuse World War II Croatian cabinet minister Artukovic of no fewer than 740,000 deaths, including the deaths of "dozens of American pilots." This was not Knezevich's first article on the subject. He had made the charges in his newspaper as early as May 17, 1951. Whether Mr. Knezevich held any post with the intelligence community during World War II is not known. However, it seems implausible that a Chief of Balkan intelligence would have consistently misspelled the word "Balkin" in all of his writings. What is known about Knezevich is that he was active in several Serbian organizations in southern California and was active in a number of anti-Croatian and anti-Catholic movements of the 1950s. His newspaper column "Review of Events" was a regular front-page feature, often filled with anti- Tito, anti-communist, antiCroatian, and anti-Catholic propaganda.

Knezevich is first mentioned in the extradition case of Andrija Artukovic, a wartime Croatian cabinet minister wanted by communist Yugoslavia for crimes against the state. On May 8, 1951, Knezevich asked to appear in camera before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Examiner. He presented "confidential" information that he had seen documents signed by Artukovic ordering the execution of dozens of pilots. Under examination however, Knezevich refused to state whether he had ever been anywhere in the Balkans during the War; what he had done, if anything, in the military; and generally refused to answer direct questions.

The INS Examiner discounted his testimony and none of it was ever presented. Nor was the charge concerning American pilots ever mentioned in any future proceedings in the United States or Yugoslavia from 1951 until 1986. Obviously, the American and Yugoslav governments would not have passed up such an important witness or such a charge had they found the slightest shred of evidence to support his story.

Knezevich penned the final chapter of the story on July 24, 1958, when he listed all of the charges that he had made against Artukovic, including the execution of American pilots. He wrote: "Inasmuch as neither the writer or publisher are in a position to prove independently the truth or falsity of these assertions, they are all and singularly retracted. (signed) Palos Verdes News John J. Knezevich." Knezevich died in 1965.
The Airmen and the Baroness

Learning the realities of the fate of American airmen in Croatia during World War II proved even more interesting than uncovering the source of the mythology. Between the years of 1973 and 1979, this author undertook primary and secondary research into the subject which resulted in a monograph titled Allied Prisoners of War in Croatia 19411945. Fewer than one hundred airmen, American, British, Russian, South African, and Partizan, were held by the Croatian government during the War. The myth that "dozens" or twenty-five per cent, were executed was significant.

Over several years, the author was able to locate ten Americans who had been prisoners-of-war in Croatia. They were interviewed and surveyed, as were guards, the American-born priest who celebrated Mass, and others who were present at the estate of the Baroness Nikolic which served as the prisoner-of-war "camp" on the outskirts of Zagreb.

It was learned that the estate at 203 Pantovcak in Zagreb had no fence. Visitors were welcomed and some prisoners visited a nearby tavern until German soldiers visited the same establishment. Prisoners- of-war had a radio and listened to U.S. Armed Forces radio, and the camp tennis champion was Frank Ryan of Sommerville, New Jersey. Ironically the same site was fenced and well guarded during the 1991-1995 war as the official office of the president of Croatia. Baroness Nikolic considered the airmen her guests and afforded them the best treatment and food available given the wartime conditions, including a generous wine ration. Several prisoners worked in the villa's vineyards records were kept of all such work so that they could be paid after the war as provided for by Geneva Conventions. Given the chaotic state at the end of the war, the sirmen were given vouchers instead of cash. One former prisoner, a guest of honor at a Los Angeles Croatian Day celebration in 1979, still had his voucher and vowed to cash it in when Croatia became independent.

Often the Croatian Red Cross provided the airmen such luxuries as chocolate and cigarettes that were unavailable to the average Croatian soldier. While wounded or ill Croatian soldiers could expect little more than meager supplies in field first aid stations, American flyers were treated at Zagreb's finest hospital and there is photographic evidence of visits to them by Croatian Chief of State Pavelic and other officials.
Americans Helping Croatians

In early 1945 an attempt was made to evacuate American pilots from what was soon to be a war zone. Croatian Air Force General Rubcic saw to it that twelve American pilots were trained in the use of Croatian planes, which tepresented the last hope for the air defense of Croatia's capital. After familiarization on the collection of German, Italian, French, and British manufactured aircraft, fourteen Americans and one Croatian liaison officer flew to Italy. There they tried to convince American forces to land on the Dalmatian coast and meet the Red Army at the Drina tiver.

In 1943, Croatian Lt. Colonel Ivan Babic had flown a similar mission to American occupied Italy to suggest to the Americans that such an invasion would meet no resistance and that the Croatian Army would even establish a beachhead for them. The American command knew that the Dalmatian coast was Hitler's great weakness and that such an attack could split the German armies. Neither the Croatian nor American commanders knew that Yugoslavia had been designated as within the Soviet sphere. Allied forces continued to fight and die moving up the boot of Italy. Babic, working secretly for the Croatian Peasant Party, was thrown into a British prison for his efforts.

Other Americans offered their services to the Croatians in order to try to save Croatian troops from the communists. Lt. Edward J. Benkoski, pilot of the P-38 fighter "Butch," joined Englishman Rodney Woods and John Gray, a Scot, in attempting to negotiate for the Croatians in May 1945. Another American officer accompanied Croatian officials to negotiations at Bleiburg, Austria, at the end of the war to keep Croatians from being returned to certain death in Yugoslavia. They failed. The Americanborn priest Theodore Benkovic who often celebrated Mass for the airmen wrote:

Despite constant American bombings, the Croatians bore no hatred toward the Americans, for in a fatalistic way they held it to be necessary. I saw my countrymen held captive in Mostar, how the people treated them well, even offering the American flyers the few cigarettes they possessed; how they begged me to make known to my countrymen of their hope of liberation by the Americans. None of the airmen interviewed or surveyed recalled any instance of mistreatment and some provided documentary and photographic evidence of very close personal relationships with Croatian officers and members of the Croatian Red Cross. The study failed to find the name of any Allied prisoner-of-war who was executed and found no "official policy" of executing airmen. Some airmen did recall that they were warned in pre- flight briefings that they would be executed if captured by the Croatians. That information was supplied by Mihailovic's Cetnik who were paid in gold for each airman returned to the Allies.

In January 1966, the Baroness Nikolic visited the United States to attend a showing of her art works. Several of her former "prisoners" welcomed her to Cleveland. One, Gene Keck of Washta, Iowa, traveled nine hundred miles by bus to see her again. "She's my second mother...I was her baby when we were on her estate in Zagreb." Often the mythology is diametrically opposite of the reality.


Myth: Because Tito was a Croatian, no retribution was taken against Croatian officials, soldiers or civilians after World War II by the victorious Partisans.

Reality: Thousands of Croatians were slaughtered immediately after the War, tens of thousands more were sent to prisons, government officials were executed and those who escaped were tracked down and murdered in foreign lands well into the 1960s. That there was no retribution against the Croatians after World War II is not so much a myth as an outright attempt to falsify history. As is the case with several other myths, the Serbian apologists Nora Beloff and David Martin gave new currency to this story in the world press during the Croatian war for independence.


The post-war massacres of Croatians are almost unknown outside the Croatian community. To Croatians, the single word "Bleiburg" summarizes the pain endured by an entire nation. The Bleiburg-Maribor massacres have been documented in such works as Operation Slaughterhouse by John Prcela and Stanko Guldescu, In Tito's Death Marches and Extermination Camps by Joseph Hecimovic, Operation Keelhaul by Julius Epstein, Bleiburg by Vinko Nikolic, and perhaps best known, The Minister and the Massacres by Count Nikolai Tolstoy.

That these massacres occurred is irrefutable. Only the number of deaths and the depth of American and British duplicity are in question. The story of Bleiburg began in early 1945 as it became clear that Germany would lose the War. As the German Army retreated toward the Austrian border, the Red Army advanced and the Partisans began their consolidation of power, anarchy prevailed in what was Yugoslavia. A dozen or more nationalist movements and ethnic militias attempted to salvage various parts of Yugoslavia. Most nationalists, Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian alike, were anti-Communist and all had visions of the Western Allies welcoming them into the coming battle against Communism.

Croatians especially cherished the totally unsupported notion that Anglo-American intervention would save an independent Croatian state. As in every other part of eastern Europe, armies, governments and civilian populations began moving toward the Western lines. Some were pushed before the retreating Germans, others followed in their wake. Many travelled in small bands, armed or unarmed, while others were well organized into mass movements of people and equipment. Along the trek north they fought the Partisans and each other. Many surrendered, others fought to the death.

Retreat from Zagreb

The retreating Germans, usually without bothering to inform their erstwhile allies, took with them much of the material support for the Croatian armed forces. Despite conditions, several Croatian generals wanted to defend the city of Zagreb from the Partisan advance and fight to the finish if necessary. The Partisans made it clear that the city, swollen to twice its size with refugees, would be destroyed if they met resistance. A final meeting of the Croatian government was held on April 30, 1945 at which the decision was made to abandon Zagreb and retreat into Austria. Still quite naive concerning Allied intentions, many Croatian officers hoped that the still sizable Croatian Army would be allowed to surrender to the British to fight again against the Russians.

Since both Croatia and Britain were signatories to the Geneva Conventions, it was felt that at worst the Croatians would be treated as prisoners of war. The exodus from Zagreb began on May 1st. Some 200,000 civilians were flanked by 200,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Croatian armed forces. The Archbishop-Metropolitan Aloysius Stepinac took charge of the government for the few hours between the departure of Croatian officials and the arrival of the Partisan Liberation Army. State Minister Vrancic was dispatched to Italy as a peace emissary to the Allies and several high-ranking English speaking officers headed the main column toward Austria. The retreat was well ordered and the protecting flank armies insured that all of the civilians arrived safely at the Austrian border by May 7. A number of military units remained behind to fight delaying actions as late as May 12. Still other units, known as "Crusaders" fled into the hills and fought sporadic guerilla actions until 1948. The huge column, numbering perhaps as many as one-half million soldiers and civilians, including Slovenes, Serbs and even Cetnik units, finally came to rest in a small valley near the Austrian village of Bleiburg. The leaders had no way of knowing that their peace emissary, Dr. Vrancic had travelled as far as Forli, Italy by plane and car under a white flag only to be stopped short of his goal. At Forli, Vrancic and Naval Captain Vrkljan, who spoke fluent English, were detained by one Captain Douglas of British Field Security who was more interested in their diplomatic grade Mercedes-Benz automobile than their mission to see Field Marshal Alexander in Caserta. He held the emissaries incommunicado until May 20 when he had them thrown into a POW camp and confiscated the automobile.

Deception and Betrayal

In the belief that their envoys had made some arrangement with the British, the multitude of humanity set up camp in the valley to await the outcome of negotiations. One of the first groups to arrive at British headquarters was a contingent of 130 members of the Croatian government headed by President Nikola Mandic. All were told that they would be transferred to Italy as soon as possible by British Military Police. All were then loaded into a train and returned to the Partisans for execution. It was the intent of the British to turn over all Croatians, as well as Serbs and Slovenes, to the Communists from whom they had fled. When the Croatian military leaders realized that they had led hundreds of thousands into a trap, many committed suicide on the spot. The British extradited at first hundreds, then thousands of Croatians. Some were shot at the border, while others joined the infamous "Death Marches" which took them deeper into the new People's Republic for liquidation.

Realizing the importance of the clergy to the Croatian people, most church leaders were arrested. Although Archbishop Stepinac was sentenced to death, he was saved by a massive outcry of world public opinion and died under house arrest in 1960. Two bishops, three hundred priests, twenty-nine seminarians and four lay brothers were less fortunate and were executed. The number of Muslim religious leaders executed has never been determined, although the figure is thought to be in excess of six hundred. Churches and mosques were closed or destroyed throughout Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. The new government dynamited the minarets around the mosque of Zagreb, turned the building into a museum glorifying the Partisan victory and renamed the square in which it stood "Victims of Fascism Square." One of the first acts of the Croatian government in 1991 was to rename the plaza. Almost every government official from the President to local postmasters, every military officer above the rank of major and virtually every Ustasse officer, regardless of rank, was found guilty of "crimes against the people." Many were executed. Enlisted members of the Ustase were often found guilty en masse and sent to concentration camps where many died. All top ranking members of the government were executed. Chief-of-state Ante Pavelic managed to flee only to be gunned down by a would-be assassin in 1957. He later died of complications.

Denial and Discovery

The total number of people liquidated may never be known, but figures of 100 to 180 thousand have been voiced by some, up to one-quarter of a million by others. Despite the scholarship and masses of documents proving the contrary, the Yugoslav government denied that the Bleiburg-Maribor massacres or any subsequent liquidation of anti-Communists occurred. As late as 1976 special teams were active in Slovenia and southern Austria covering up evidence of the crimes. The American and British governments, implicated in the forced repatriation that led to the slaughter also sought to cover-up or at least ignore the crimes. Finally, in July of 1990 with the departure of the Communist regime, the truth began to come to light. In underground caverns in Slovenia and northern Croatia, researchers using spelunker's equipment descended into the mass graves long before sealed by the authorities. They found layer upon layer of human bones, crutches, rope and wire. Many of the skulls had a single bullet hole in the back. Estimates ranged from 5,000 victims in one cave to as many as 40,000 in another. When news was made public, people from throughout Croatia and Slovenia reported other mass grave sites that had been known to them for years. For obvious reasons none had ever spoken publicly of them before. In 1990 the Croatian Parliament formed a commission which included foreign experts to determine, for the first time, the full extent of the post-war massacres. Determining how many perished will be a difficult undertaking that will require years of grizzly exploration and detailed research. Whatever the final result, it will never again be said that Croatia did not suffer in post-war Yugoslavia.


Myth: The Serbian-Croatian border was drawn up secretly by Tito, a Croatian, in 1943 benefiting Croatia at the expense of Serbia.

Reality: Croatia's border with Serbia is essentially the same as in 1848 and 1918 with the exception of those lands taken from Croatia and given to Serbia and Montenegro under both Yugoslav regimes. This mythology is a recent creation of the Serbian government and has been given wide circulation by Serbian apologists Nora Beloff and David Martin. The purpose of the myth is to stress to the world that the borders of the former Yugoslav republics are simply administrative boundaries with no historical significance. Once this myth is taken as fact the argument follows that such meaningless borders are subject to negotiation and change, in favor of Serbia. The reality is that Croatia today has roughly the same borders as in 1848.

Serbia has increased its borders after every one of its many wars since 1813. Today Serbia controls more territory than it has in its entire history. In the north it has annexed the lands of the Hungarians and Croatians. In the south two hundred thousand Serbs rule over two million ethnic Albanians in the absolute police state of Kosova. Montenegro has become nothing more than a Serbian province.

The myth that Serbian lands are held by Croatia was used by the Serbian government to launch a war of aggression to seize valuable gas and oil fields, rail and shipping corridors and port facilities. Eastern Slavonia, where Serbian aggression resulted in the total devastation of the ancient city of Vukovar, had a Serbian population of 16.4% according to 1991 census. Dubrovnik, which underwent months of siege by Serbian forces, had a Serbian population of only 6.2% in 1991. Neither region has ever been a part of Serbia.

Croatia's borders

The borders of Croatia have changed over the past thousand years reflecting the ebbs and flows of the great empires around her. When King Tomislav united Pannonian and Dalmatian Croatia in 925, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus recorded that Croatia covered some 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles), had a population in excess of two million and fielded 60,000 horsemen, 100,000 foot soldiers, 80 galleys and one hundred cutters, a formidable state for tenth century Europe.

Serbians at the time were under the control of Bulgar or Byzantine rulers and did not organize their first state until 1170. Serbia reached its zenith under Czar Stephen Dusan who died in 1355. His death was followed by civil war among Serbian nobles which led to a Turkish invasion. The Serbs suffered a stunning defeat at the battle of Kosova in 1389 and another at Smederevo in 1459. Serbia remained only as an Ottoman vassal state well into the nineteenth century when it was fully reestablished as an independent state by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century also had tremendous effect on the size and character of Croatia. The Croatian lands of Bosnia and Hercegovina were absorbed by the Ottomans in 1463 and 1482, reducing Croatia to a 16,000 square mile crescent protecting Europe from the Turks. In 1699 the Habsburgs recovered all of Croatia and Slavonia and settled Germans and a large number of fleeing Serbs into Slavonia and Vojvodina. Upon the defeat of Napolean, the Congress of Vienna incorporated Illyria into Austria. Although parts of Croatia were governed by different branches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the eastern borders of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina were well established by 1848. In the west, Istria, the city of Zadar and several Dalmatian islands would remain under Italian control until 1943.

Serbian expansionism

Even when still an Ottoman principality, Serbia gained territory in 1833 and 1878, bringing its size to some 18,500 square miles. The newly established Serbian state began almost immediately to covet its neighbors lands and developed the official slogan "Serbia must expand or die!" Serbian expansionism was first directed toward the south into Macedonia and west toward the Adriatic through Bosnia and Hercegovina. In order to thwart Serbia's westward expansion, the Austrian protectorate of Bosnia-Hercegovina was annexed to the Empire in October 1908. As various European powers took sides supporting Austria-Hungary or Serbia in diplomatic and military alliances, the groundwork was laid for confrontation and the outbreak of the First World War. Deprived of Bosnia, Serbia turned to Macedonia, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan War of 1912 freed Macedonia from Turkey but led to a dispute over the spoils between the victors Bulgaria and Serbia. Aided by Greece and Romania, Serbia defeated Bulgaria and took the lion's share of Macedonia and all of Kosova. Only the establishment of a new Albanian state prevented Serbia from reaching the Adriatic.

Croatia within the Habsburg Empire

When the Croatians elected a Habsburg as their king in 1527, they did so with the understanding that the crown would respect the rights, laws and customs of the Croatian Kingdom. While this principle was often violated by Hungary and Austria, Croatia maintained a great deal of autonomy and its ancient Sabor or Parliament and Ban or Viceroy. By 1914 the Croatians were on the verge of restoring their full political rights within the Empire. The heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, was a liberal thinker who envisioned a new Empire based upon greater recognition of the Kingdom of Croatia. The Prince envisaged replacing the "Dualism" of Austria-Hungary with the "Trialism" of Austria-Hungary-Croatia or even a federal system based upon the American or Swiss model under a single benevolent Emperor. The thought of such a Croatian state, perhaps encompassing Bosnia-Hercegovina, presented a major threat to Serbia's dream of westward expansion and a "Greater Serbia." On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian terrorist group "Black Hand" assassinated Arch-duke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. Princip was one of seven assassins sent by Colonel Dragutin "Apis" Dimitrijevic, Chief of Serbian Intelligence. Within weeks the world was at war.


Serbia made no secret of its ambitions in the War. As early as September 4, 1914 the Serbian government circulated a letter to all of its diplomatic missions calling the war an opportunity to create "a strong southwest-Slav state (to) be created out of Serbia, in which all Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes would be included." Serbia was more than willing to bargain away Croatian lands to Italy in a secret annex to the Treaty of London in 1915 in order to fulfill the dream of a Greater Serbia. Making use of the well intended but unelected Yugoslav Committee, Serbia with the backing of the victorious Allies, annexed Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia and Montenegro in 1918 into the new Kindgom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The borders of the Triune Kindgom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia and those of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1918 were roughly those that had been in place since 1848. In the north Croatia gained two small territories from Hungary, Medjimurje and Baranja, but lost several coastal islands to Italy in negotiations between 1918 and 1920. When King Alexander declared himself absolute dictator and changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia in 1929 he abolished the traditional borders and reorganized the country into nine banovinas and the prefecture of Belgrade. Croatia was divided into the 15,649 square mile Banovina of Savska, primarily Croatia proper and Slavonia, and the 7,587 square mile Banovina of Primorska, primarily Dalmatia. While some traditionally Bosnian territory was added to Primorska Banovina, the oil and mineral rich region of Srijem, Croatian since 1718, went to the Serbian Banovina of Dunavska.

The Banovina of Croatia

From 1918 through 1938, Yugoslavia had thirty-five governments with a total of 656 ministers. Only twenty-six had been Croatians. The top-heavy Army had 161 generals. One, in charge of supply, was a Croatian. In the elections of December 1938 the Croatian Peasant Party and its leader Vlatko Macek were defeated by a very close count of 1,364,524 to 1,643,783 for the royalist government. Given the fraud and terrorism common to all Yugoslav elections, it was obvious that the Peasant Party had won a stunning victory. Even government figures confirmed that over 650,000 Serbs had voted for Macek. Despite this the Stojadinovic government refused to recognize the results or form a coalition government. Faced with the threat of armed rebellion, Prince Paul sacked Stojadinovic and replaced him with Dragisa Cvetkovic, a former mayor of Nis and a person open to negotiation concerning the "Croatian Question." The result was a Sporazum or Agreement of August 26, 1939 which formed the semi-autonomous Banovina of Croatia covering 38,600 square miles with a population of almost four and one-half million, 80 per cent of whom were Croatian. The new Croatian Banovina was connected to Yugoslavia only in matters of defense, foreign relations and a common postal system. Its borders included all of the two previous Banovinas, portions of western Bosnia and parts of western Hercegovina. Eastern Srijem and the strategic bay of Kotor with the southernmost tip of Dalmatia remained in Serbian hands.

The Independent State of Croatia

The formation of the Banovina of Croatia was a gesture that could have saved Yugoslavia in 1918, but coming only a week before the outbreak of World War II, it was simply too little, much too late. When Yugoslavia disintegrated at the first sign of German troops, a new Independent State of Croatia, known by its Croatian initials NDH, was founded on April 10, 1941. Its borders, which incorporated Bosnia-Hercegovina, were finalized by the Treaty of Rome on May 18. While Germany was willing to recognize the pre-1918 borders of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the new state, Italy demanded and received most of the Dalmatian coast and set up an occupation zone comprising almost one third of the country. The NDH covered some 46,300 square miles with a population of 6,750,000. Internally the state was divided into 23 prefects or velike zupe which were further divided into 142 districts and cities. Although Italian Dalmatia technically reverted back to the NDH upon the fall of Italy in 1943, much of the region was in Partisan control for the remainder of the War.

The Second Yugoslavia

Tens of thousands of Croatians fought and died in the 39 Croatian partisan brigades that began the Liberation War under Josip Tito on June 22, 1941. The Partisans promised a new Croatian Republic, with full rights and autonomy, within a new federated Yugoslavia. After the partisan victory, a commission was established to set the borders of the new Yugoslav state. That commission was headed by Milovan Djilas, a Serb from Montenegro, and included ministers from Serbia, Croatia and Vojvodina. In the west, Croatia regained all of Italian Dalmatia, including Zadar and Istria. After years of negotiations the border was finalized in 1954 with Croatia gaining most of Istria, the city of Zadar and those islands occupied by Italy between the World Wars. In the south, the commission gave Montenegro access to the sea by removing the port of Kotor and the surrounding districts from Croatia. In the north Croatia's border returned to its pre-war configuration with the inclusion of Medjimurje and Baranja which had been Hungarian prior to 1918 and which had been seized by Hungary during World War II. The borders of the Banovina of Croatia included a great deal of territory traditionally part of Bosnia-Hercegovina, including the cities of Travnik and Mostar. In 1945 the border was returned to 1918 boundaries with minor adjustments in the Bihac area where a number of Croatian villages were given to Bosnia-Hercegovina. But it was on the border with Serbia that Croatia would take its greatest territorial loss in 1945. The oil and mineral rich eastern Srijem region with the city of Zemun, Croatian territory since 1718, but partitioned by Alexander in 1929, was joined to Serbian Vojvodina.

The Republic of Croatia

The Croatian people again declared themselves to be free and independent on June 25, 1991. One year later, virtually the entire world had recognized Croatia within the borders designated in 1945. The overwhelming majority of Croatia's twelve hundred mile border is based upon ancient boundaries that Croatia brought with her into Yugoslavia in 1918. In those areas where the borders were changed, Serbia gained and Croatia lost. Despite this basic reality, the Republic of Croatia has made no territorial claims against any other nation; nor has Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina or Macedonia. Serbia and Serbia alone since 1813 has constantly expanded in pursuit of the dream of a Greater Serbia stretching from Bulgaria to the Adriatic Sea. It is a dream that has cost the lives of millions over the past century and one-half and brought the worst fighting to Europe since World War II.

As in the previous wars of Serbian aggression, Serbia was rewarded for its brutality as one-half of Bosnia was given to Greater Serbia in 1995 through the Dayton partition. How many more will die for Serbia's dreams of empire remains to be seen.

Serbia's Unquenchable Thirst

Even with this prize, Serbia's unquenchable thirst for the lands of others was not satiated. After the Dayton partition was signed and sealed, "Yugoslavia" as "Greater Serbia" still called itself, laid claim to the tiny isthmus or prevlaka of Ogtra, a spit of land only 170 meters wide at the entry to the harbor of Boka, Montenegro. All of the harbor and the land around it was Croatian for centuries, but the harbor itself was given to Montenegro after World War II, and its Croatian population (a majority in 1945) was driven out. In 1996, just as in 1918, the so-called "Great Powers" could not comprehend why Croatia would want to keep its lands out of Serbian hands and urged "negotiations" to mediate the "dispute." Prevlaka was a part of the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) from the fifteenth century until 1808 and a part of Dalmatia since. In all of history, it was never a part of Montenegro or Serbia. But having stolen the Bay of Kotor in 1949 and driven out its majority Croatian population in the years following, the small peninsula was seen as a threat to the security of the natural harbor that is home to the "Yugoslav" Navy.

The reality is that neither in the twentieth century nor in the past, has Serbia lost one square kilometer, on a map or on the ground, to Bosnia or Croatia. Serbia's dream of a "Greater Serbia" became a nightmare for the fourth time in the twentieth century. It is time for such myths about Croatian and Bosnian borders attempting to justify that nightmare to be put to rest.


Myth: Serbs and Croatians speak a single common language known as "Serbo-Croatian."

Reality: Croatians speak Croatian, which is written with the Latin Alphabet, and Serbs speak Serbian, which is written with the Cyrillic alphabet ("Serbian Alphabet").

It became apparent by 1995 that Yugoslavia was dead. Despite that, many in the Western media and in academia kept its spirit alive by referring to a "Serbo-Croatian" language despite the fact that there never was a single "Serbo-Croatian" tongue.

The Camel and the Virgin

It is true that Serbian and Croatian are very similar, sharing personal pronouns and seven identical cases. But Serbian is written with the Cyrillic or Russian alphabet and Croatian is written with the Latin alphabet. Each has thousands of words that are totally different, including such common names as those of the months and even the words for "book" or "library." Moreover, thousands of other words have vastly different meanings in the two languages, sometimes with humorous result. A Serb referring to a nursing baby as odojce will have called the child a pig in Croatian. A Serbian railroad train, voz is a Croatian hay cart. A camel in Croatian, Deva can be the Virgin Mary in Serbian. There is no question, even by supporters of "Serbo- Croatian," that the two languages, even if taken as variants, are much less similar than Norwegian and Danish, or Flemish and Dutch among European languages.

The Language of Politics

"Serbo-Croatian" was used throughout the history of Yugoslavia as a political tool to homogenize the South Slavic peoples into a single nation; obviously without success. The very concept of a single South Slavic language can only be traced back to the mid- nineteenth century. In 1918 when the Serbian Army first occupied Croatia, one of its first tasks was to rip down every road sign, every railway station sign, every post office sign written in Croatian and replace them with signs in Serbian. In 1991, history repeated itself as the Serbian army destroyed Croatian signs in occupied Croatia and Bosnia.

The Language of Dictatorship

Under the Serbian Royal dictatorship of 1929-1934, the government did everything possible to force the Serbian language upon the peoples of Bosnia, Croatia and even Slovenia. Croatian children in Bosnia and southern Dalmatia were forced to use the Cyrillic alphabet in school. Many were prosecuted for criticizing the official "Serbo-Croatian" language. Despite that, all major Serbian and Croatian scholars, including Radosav Boskovic in 1935, Julije Bensic in 1939, Petar Guberina and Kruno Krstic in 1940, continued to recognize the separateness of the two languages.

Such modern scholars as Branko Franolic, Dalibor Broiovid, the late Francis Eterovich, Christopher Spalatin and Ivo Banac, all agreed. Professor Banac of Yale wrote "...Serbian ekavian was pushed through as Yugoslavia's official language, most often in Cyrillic garb. Nor could it have been otherwise. There was nothing neutral in the acceptance of ekavian, which was frequently the code word for the wholesale adoption of Serb linguistic practices, including Serb lexical wealth. In short, Belgrade political centralism had a parallel linguistic direction, which amounted to the infiltration of Serbian terms and forms throughout Yugoslavia by means of the military, civil administration and schools,"

The Language of the Revolution

After World War II, despite promises of the Revolution, a single "Serbo-Croatian" language was, again to quote Banac, "grafted onto Marxist ideological imperatives." The government, the Party, the military, and the media were forced to use "Serbo-Croatian," which increasingly became Serbian with Latin letters in Croatia.

The only reason that "Serbo-Croatian" existed and the only reason it was forced upon unwilling populations were the politics of an artificial Yugoslavia united by force against the will of the majority of its population. Branko Franolic wrote: "The linguistic convergence between the two languages, Croatian and Serbian, has been encouraged and hastened for political reasons by the Belgrade Federal Government which has imposed as "official language" the Serbian language already in use in the political, administrative and military spheres. Serbian has been used for political ends as a cohesive force within the "nation-state" of Yugoslavia. For that matter, the convergence between the two languages concerns not only the language but the organization and the social structure in which Serbian is the dominant language and Croatian the dominated."

The Language of the Past

Yugoslavia is dead. Neither an artiticial language, artificial borders, or a Stalinist demagogue like Slobodan Milosevic could restore the historical mistake that was Yugoslavia. Scholarly and professional organizations throughout the world have discontinued use of the term "Serbo-Croatian." Yet many in the media and academia cling to this linguistic fabrication. Each is entitled to an opinion. However, such scholars and organizations as Luka Budak, Chair of Croatian Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Ivo Banac at Yale University, the University of Zagreb, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Serbian Academy in Belgrade, assert that the language of the Croatian people is Croatian.

Many governments no longer recognize "Serbo-Croatian" as a language at all. The U.S. State Department, the Voice of America, and the U.S. Defense Language Institute, among others, all recognize Serbian and Croatian as separate languages, as do major universities large enough to have separate South Slavic language programs, such as Macquarie University in Sydney. Finally, in 1988, the International Organization for Standardization in Switzerland restored "Croatian" and "Serbian" to its listing of the world's languages. The listings had been replaced by "Serbo-Croatian" in 1970 at Belgrade's insistence.

There were still those who ignored such scholars, institutions, and governments and continued to refer to the "Serbo-Croatian" language. When the Serbian propaganda film Vukovar: Poste Restante toured North America in 1996 it was advertised as "Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles." There were also those who longed for a restored Yugoslavia. Clinging to the relics of the past did not change myth into reality.


Myth: Until recently Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was a Communist Yugoslav Army general. Both Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic are recent converts from Communism.

Reality: Dr. Franjo Tudjman resigned his Army commission in 1961. He has since been a strong advocate of democracy in Croatia and was imprisoned for his views. Slobodan Milosovic simply changed the name of his party from Communist to Socialist before the 1990 elections.

Franjo Tudjman's long and difficult transition from Yugoslav Army general to President of the Republic of Croatia was as remarkable as the man himself. Franjo Tudjman was born on May 14, 1922 in Veliko Trgovisce in the Zagorje province of Croatia. At the age of nineteen, he joined the Partisans and became a decorated war hero. Like tens of thousands of Croatians who fought with the Partisans, he believed that a new federated Yugoslavia would guarantee the rights of the Croatian nation which had been trampled by the government of Royalist Yugoslavia. The Nazis put a price on Tudjman's head and killed his brother in 1943.

Both of Tudjman's parents were killed by the Communists in 1946. After the War, Tudjman was sent to the advanced military academy in Belgrade. His exceptional abilities led to his appointment as the youngest general in Yugoslavia. After twenty years of service, he left the army with the rank of major general in 1961 at age thirty-eight.

From 1961 through 1967, Tudjman was the Director of the Institute for the History of the Party in Croatia, linked to the Central Committee of the League of Communists. He was a respected member of the Party and held a number of senior political positions. As director of the Institute, he devoted himself entirely to scholarly work and was appointed professor of History at the University of Zagreb in 1963. He obtained his doctorate two years later, specializing in the history of royalist Yugoslavia from 1918-1941. Although the government would not allow his dissertation to be published, his scholarship was such that he was appointed to the board of the academic and cultural society, Matica Hrvatska.

He published a number of works in the fields of military studies, history, philosophy and international relations. His 1981 book Nationalism in Contemporary Europe foretold the great European upheaval a full decade before the tumultuous events of 1991. In 1965, Tudjman was elected to Parliament. At 43 years old, Franjo Tudjman was one of the most respected men in Yugoslavia: a retired major general, member of Parliament, Professor of History, Director of the Institute for the History of the Worker's Movement, Editor of the Yugoslav Military Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Yugoslavia and a dozen other powerful positions in the Party, government and academic community. It was in that year that Secret Police Chief Aleksandar Rankovic began planning for the 25th anniversary of the Liberation War to be observed in 1966.

A part of the celebrations would include dedication of a monument to the "700,000 to 900,000" people who died at the Jasenovac concentration camp. Tudjman, whose Institute had collected the actual number of war deaths in a secret report to be used in gaining war reparations from Germany, knew that Rankovic's figures were inflated by at least ten fold. Tudjman was told not to make trouble for Rankovic, Tito or the Party. Tudjman suggested that the data from his scholarship be made public. The data were later made public by Bruno Busic, an associate of the Institute in 1969. Busic was forced into exile where he was murdered by the Yugoslav Secret Police in 1978.

The Fall

Immediately, Tudjman's appointment to the Yugoslav Academy was voided and he was removed as Director of the Institute for the History of the Labor Movement by Rankovic. Even Rankovic's own fall in 1966 did not save Tudjman from mounting persecution. By 1967 he was removed from all offices and duties for stating his views on history and the Croatian language. In 1969, he lost his seat in Parliament. At the same time, Franjo Tudjman became one of the leaders of the great liberalization movement known as the Croatian Spring. That movement reached its peak in the Fall of 1971 before being ruthlessly crushed by Tito and his hardline Communist government in December of that year.

On October 12, 1972, after a brief so-called trial, Tudjman was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for counter-revolutionary activity and "hostile activity against the State." Upon appeal, the charges were changed to "hostile propaganda" and he was released after nine months and stripped of his civil rights including the right to publish, speak in public or travel outside the country. In 1977 Tudjman violated this ban by granting an interview to Swedish television. Although the interview was blocked by a diplomatic protest from Yugoslavia, Swedish television aired a one minute excerpt and the text was published in Sweden's Dagens Nyheter and Germany's Der Spiegel in October 1977. Within months it had been translated into English and published throughout the world. In 1979, Tudjman was named co-chairman of the International Democratic Committee to Aid Democratic Dissidents in Yugoslavia, a New York based human rights organization. On November 17, 1980 Tudjman was again indicted for the crime of "maliciously and falsely representing socio-political conditions in Yugoslavia." The Communist's Orwellian double-speak may have reached its apex when, in an indictment for speaking to a foreign reporter, the prosecutor wrote: "It is well known that (Tudjman's statements) are untrue because in the SFRY not only in its constitutional and legal decrees, but in the everyday life of its inhabitants as well, complete equality of all nations and nationalities in all areas has been realized, as has full freedom of the expression of opinion." Tudjman's eloquent defense was published in a number of languages and became a part of the literature for the democratization of Yugoslavia. "Everything I said was an expression of my personal belief in accordance with the ideals for which I fought in the Socialist Revolution and the anti-Fascist War" he said.

Tudjman was sentenced to three years in jail and loss of all civil rights for eight years. Before entering prison in November 1981, he was admitted to a Zagreb hospital with a heart condition. Despite a world-wide outcry that included the naming of Tudjman as a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International, Tudjman was sent to the infamous Lepoglava prison in January 1982 where he suffered a series of four heart attacks. Another investigation was launched in 1988 in yet another attempt to silence Dr. Franjo Tudjman, but by that time the new direction of the tide in Europe was clear. His civil rights were restored, he obtained a passport and undertook the foundation of a new political movement.

HDZ and Victory On November 29, 1989 Tudjman and his newly formed Croatian Democratic Union, known by its Croatian initials HDZ, issued an appeal to the citizens of Croatia and to its Communist controlled Parliament to form a new multi-party government. The appeal called for a repeal of the Communist Party monopoly, secret and direct elections for Parliament, unrestricted travel for Croatian emigrants and freedom for political prisoners. During this transition period the HDZ was the first internal party to expressly call for self-determination for Croatia, including the right to secession. Although the Yugoslav Constitution specifically guaranteed that right, to voice such a sentiment was considered treason by the Belgrade government. In light of the dramatic changes sweeping Europe, the Croatian Parliament voted in February 1990 to legalize opposition parties and grant freedom of political affiliation. In April and May the first free elections in half a century were held in Croatia with some twenty political parties competing for seats in Parliament. Tudjman' s Croatian Democratic Union won a landslide victory with 205 of 349 seats. The Communists who had ruled for a half century secured only 77 seats. Franjo Tudjman was elected President of the Republic. On July 26, 1990 the Parliament dropped the word "Socialist" from the name Republic of Croatia and ordered the red star removed from all state symbols. Still, Tudjman and the Croatian government sought a new accommodation with the other republics of Yugoslavia through a confederation of sovereign states. Serbia's unwillingness to even negotiate for such a confederation led Croatia and Slovenia to declare independence on June 25, 1991 at which time Franjo Tudjman became the first President of the independent Republic of Croatia.

Slobo, "The Butcher of the Balkans"

Franjo Tudjman's long and arduous journey from Partisan war hero to president of his country was very unlike that of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, whom the New York Times labeled the "Butcher of the Balkans." Milosevic, an unrepentant hard-line Communist in the mold of Joseph Stalin, is a product of Communism and the Yugoslav Party-State. Known to his few friends as "Slobo," he was born in 1941 in Pozarevac, near Belgrade, the son of a Serbian Orthodox priest from Montenegro and a hardline Communist school teacher. His father abandoned his family, taking Slobo's brother Bora with him. Both of his parents committed suicide and Milosevic literally grew up in the Party. He married Mirjana Markovic, a professor of Marxist theory who controlled the Communist League for Yugoslavia. She was a member of one of Yugoslavia's best known Communist families. Milosevic lived such a secretive life at a villa on the outskirts of Belgrade that one of his closest friends admitted to a reporter from the New York Times Magazine that in twenty years he had never seen Milosevic's home or his wife. Under the mentorship of Ivan Stambolic, the previous Serbian Party boss, Milosevic rose through the ranks from being director of the energy company Tehnogas to the Presidency of Belgrade' s main bank. In the mid-1980's Stambolic elevated him to head of the Communist Party of Serbia. By way of thanks, Milosevic engineered a coup within the Party in the fall of 1987, overthrowing his old friend and mentor Stambolic, and naming himself the undisputed head of Party and government in Serbia.

Milosevic immediately set to work purging the leadership of Vojvodina, Kosova and the Republic of Montenegro to bring those constitutionally autonomous regions into line with his "Greater Serbia" policies. Many who opposed his policies, including Branislav Matic, a key opposition leader in the Serbian Renewal Movement, were murdered. Another SRM leader, George Bozovic, mysteriously fell from a high building.

As the rest of Europe was abandoning Marxist-Leninism, Milosevic reinstated courses in Marxist theory in Serbia's schools and colleges. In January 1990 at the last Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Milosevic stormed the podium to declare that Communism would go on even without Slovenia and Croatia. But the realities of Europe in the 90' s eventually came home to roost even for Milosevic. In the Fall of 1990, he renamed the Communist Party the "Socialist Party" before winning 61% of the vote in the Party controlled "free" elections. Milosevic's transformation from Stalinist to "democrat" was thus complete. In April 1992 he finally consented to the removal of the red star from Yugoslavia's flag. History will judge which of the two men, Franjo Tudjman or Slobodan Milosevic, fought for his country, suffered for his beliefs and liberated his nation and which unleashed a massive war of aggression against his neighbors to sustain Communism in Europe and the myth called Yugoslavia.


Myth: The government of the Republic of Croatia denied basic civil, cultural and linguistic rights to the Serbian minority in Croatia, forcing them into revolt in 1991.

Reality: On the very day it declared independence, Croatia granted extraordinary rights and privileges to Serbs and other minorities in Croatia.

By 1996, it was evident throughout the world that Serbia was the aggressor in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina during the break-up of Yugoslavia. The transparent endeavor of the war was the preservation of a Greater Serbian state retaining the name Yugoslavia against the expressed will of the majority of the people. Serbia's intentions were less clear to many during the early days of aggression in the Fall of 1991 and Spring of 1992.

A full-scale Serbian propaganda campaign repeated time and again that a "civil war" was being fought to "protect the Serbian minority in Croatia" despite the fact that the Serbs had lived peacefully with the Croatians for a half-century. To reinforce its case, Serbia let it be known that the new Croatian government had made no provision for the rights of Serbs in Croatia. Some in the Western media accepted the mythology as fact, and in some cases continued to repeat it well into 1996. "The Croatians wrote a new constitution, giving no special rights to Croatia's Serbs..." wrote a major daily in late 1995.

Croatian Declaration of Independence, June 25, 1991

In reality, with the very first document to emerge from the new Croatian Republic, its Declaration of Independence on June 25, 1991, the Croatian government guaranteed not only civil rights, but unique rights, to the Serbian minority. The first two articles of the Declaration established the rights of Croatia to declare independence and to defend its territorial integrity. Article III of the Declaration stated:

The Republic of Croatia is a democratic, legal and social state in which prevails the supreme values of constitutional order: freedom, equality, ethnic equality, peace, social justice, respect for human rights, pluralism and the inviolability of personal property, environmental protection, the rule of law, and a multi-party system.

The Republic of Croatia guarantees Serbs in Croatia and all national minorities who live in this territory the respect of all human and civil rights, especially the freedom to nurture their national language and culture as well as political organizations.

The Republic of Croatia protects the rights and interests of its citizens without regard to their religious, ethnic or racial belonging. In accordance with customary and positive international law, the Republic of Croatia guarantees other states and international bodies that it will completely and consciously uphold all its rights and duties as a legal successor to the previous Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the extent that they relate to the Republic of Croatia.

In order to avoid bloodshed and insure a peaceful transition, the Croatian declaration included:

The Republic of Croatia calls upon the other republics of the former SFRY to create an alliance of sovereign states on the presumptions of mutual recognition of state sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual respect, recognition of political pluralism and democracy, pluralism of ownership and market economy, and the actual respect of human rights, rights for ethnic minorities and other civilized values of the free world.


Myth: The Republic of Croatia changed street names to honor war criminals and fascists. Croatian streets were awash in Nazi and Fascist symbols. The Croatian government attempted to destroy Holocaust records. Virtually everything in Croatia was connected to fascism.

Reality: Like every country emerging from communism, Croatia has thrown off Marxist symbols and place names and replaced them with symbols representing Croatia's history and culture. There are no fascist symbols on Croatia's streets. No attempt was made to destroy Holocaust records. Fascism was not glorified in Croatia.

Looking for fascism in Croatia - A Journalistic Pastime

For years the leftists of the world warned of the resurgence of fascism, but only after the fall of the Berlin wall did that threat become a reality. In the mid-1990s, neo-Nazis were running rampant in every part of Germany, especially in the formerly communist east. The Italian Parliament had a number of born- again Fascists and six served in the government. A member of the Mussolini family was again a serious political power to be reckoned with and the Fascist Italian Social Movement - Movement Sociale Italiano was growing throughout the country. In April 1996 elections the right-wing "Tricolor Flame" movement took twenty-three seats in the Italian Senate and thirty-four in the Chamber of Deputies.

French President Francois Mitterrand revealed that he was an ardent supporter of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime during World War II led by Marshal PŽtain, who was still honored by many in France. In 1994 and 1995 elections, right wing candidates gained throughout Western Europe, especially in Belgium and Austria. A right wing candidate who praised the work ethic of Nazi Germany, won twentythree per cent of the vote in Austria.

With such activity in Germany, Austria, and Italy, where Fascism was born and flourished, it perhaps seemed odd that so many in the Western press were in a feeding frenzy looking for fascism in tiny Croatia. It seemed especially odd given the fact that Croatia's president and many of his supporters fought against the fascists during World War II. The reason for unrelenting fascist finding in Croatia could be found in the Serbian propaganda of the previous fifty years.

At the end of World War II, the Serbian Cetniks who had by-and-large collaborated with the German and Italian forces, went over to the Partizans en masse, effectively taking control of the army and government by 1945. The legends initiated by the royal Yugoslav government in 1942 grew under the communists in the post-War period. With every monument, every street name, every book, and every film, the heroic role of the "Serbian" Partizans was extolled, the hated role of the Croatian Ustase decried, and the role of the Cetniks ignored.

Based upon the limited information accessible from tbe Serbian capital of Belgrade, most Western writers and historians, and even some Croatians, took up the myths and spread them throughout the world. Outside communist Yugoslavia in much of the West, the very word "Croatian" came to become associated with Nazis, evil, and terrorism. In 1974, an American journalist wrote: "Those who call themselves "Croatians" are all Yugoslavs who collaborated with the Nazis." In Croatia, displaying the ancient Croatian coat of arms without the obligatory red star above it, or the very singing of the national anthem, written in the 1830s, became serious crimes punishable by imprisonment. The notorious prison on Goli Otak (the Naked Island) came to be known as the "singers" prison."

Fascist Symbols

When Croatia regained its independence in 1991, it removed the hated red star from its coat-of arms and replaced it on its flag with the traditional chessboard shield used for centuries, the Western press went wild with indignation. One columnist described the streets of Zagreb as being awash in "the Fascist coat-of arms and other trinkets." But in fact, the Fascist coat of arms, the Fasces, was nowhere to be found in Croatia. It was, however, the symbol of the United States Senate. Those who called the ancient twenty-five field chessboard a fascist symbol, were seemingly unaware that it had been used by the previous Serbian regimes, both royal and communist. It apparently became fascist only when the red star was removed.


Myth: Croatia's twenty-five field "chessboard" coat-of-arms and the red, white and blue flag bearing that coat-of-arms are fascist symbols.

Reality: The ancient Croatian coat-of-arms has been used hundreds of years by every Croatian government and used by both royalist and communist Yugoslavia.

The tale that the Croatian coat-of-arms is a symbol of fascism is a very new myth that, like many others, was created by Serbian apologists and was repeated by many ill informed reporters. A major american daily paper wrote: "They waved the Croat checxered flag- something akin to waving a Confederate flag at an NAACP meeting." "Today again the Ustashe flag has been raised" cried another paper. "Tudjman's decision to adopt a flag modeled on the Ustashe flag has only made matters worse," lamented yet another.

It is ironic that those who repeated this myth did not mention or did not know that the government of Serbia from 1945 onward continued to use the same coat-of-arms used by the Nazi government of General Milan Nedic during World War II. The Serbian arms, a form of which appeared so prominently on the world's most viciously anti-Semitic postage stamps during the Second World War, continued to be proudly displayed by the communist Serbian regime in Serbia and in Serbian occupied Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s.

Hrvatski Grb

The Hrvatski Grb or Croatian shield is one of the oldest national symbols in Europe. The true origins of the Grb (pronounced "gerb" with a trilled "r") have been lost to antiquity. Croatian mythology once said that King Stjepan Drzislav, who ruled Croatia from 969 to 997, defeated a Venetian prince at chess to maintain Croatia's freedom. In fact, Venice was defeated by Croatia in a sea battle in 887 and was forced to pay tribute to Croatia until 1000. There are many other myths regarding the origins and the exact design of the shield.


Many scholars believe that the Croatians originated in what became modern day Iran or Afghanistan, where they were mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian King Darius the Great (522-486 B.C.E.). The design of the Grb, red and white alternating fields, may have been related to the ancient Persian system linking colors with direction which resulted in such terms as the Red Sea and the Black Sea. The terms White Croatia and Red Croatia for western and southern Croatia were still in use well into the eleventh century. Silver seems to have been interchangeable with white throughout history.

The oldest existing Grb in Croatia is found on the wings of four falcons on a baptismal font donated by King Kresimir IV (1056-1073) to the Archbishop of Split. The Grb was used on document seals from the fifteenth century and can be found on stone carvings dating from 1490 in che cathedral of the Adriatic city of Senj, and a church on the island of Krk.

Although the Grb is usually found in its classic five-by-five form, there were numerous variations throughout history. One example is a charter of the Croatian Sabor or Parliament of 1527, which displays a shield of sixty-four fields. Perhaps best known to Croatians and tourists alike is the roof tile design of historic St. Mark's church in old Zagreb incorporating the coat-of arms of the triune Croatian Kingdom and the City of Zagreb. St. Mark's was built in the thirteenth century and beautifully restored between 1876 and 1882. In 1991, it narrowly missed destruction as a Serb aircraft missile intended to kill Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, struck the Presidential offices a few yards away.


The Kuna or European Wood Marten

Myth: The Croatian currency, the kuna, has links to fascism.

Reality: The kuna, a small wood marten similar to a ferret or mink, was traded as a pelt in Roman times and was first struck as a Croatian coin in 1256 A.D.

The Fascist Ferret

From 1991 through 1994, the Western media, fed a steady diet of fascist finding directions from Belgrade, had uncovered fascism lurking throughout Croatia. In 1994, the fascist finders turned their attention to Croatia's currency. When Croatia declared independence in 1991, the Yugoslav dinar was replaced with a transitional currency called the Croatian dinar (Hrvatskih dinar). It traded at par with the Yugoslav dinar and was subject to tremendous inflation. From 1991 until mid-1994 the nearly worthless paper dinar, (there were no coins) traded at up to 6500 per U.S. dollar.

Each of the dinar banknotes, from one dinar to 100,000 dinars, depicted the famed Croatian Jesuit scientist Rudjer Boskovic (1711-1787). Boskovic was an astronomer and mathematician who developed the first geometric formula to determine the equator of a planet. He joined the Jesuits in 1726 and studied at the Collegium Romanum. After teaching at a number of colleges, he accepted a post at the court of King Louis XV as director of optics for the French navy. In Paris he met Benjamin Franklin. On behalf of the city-state of Dubrovnik, Boskovic granted recognition to the new republic of the United States of America. Dubrovnik was perhaps the first nation, and, certainly the first republic, to do so.

The dinar was to be a temporary currency until a Croatia had stabilized sufficiently to issue its own distinctive unit of trade. On May 30, 1994, the new Croatian currency called thekuna was introduced. It was divided into one hundred lipa (linden leaf). The kuna was named for a European wood marten, similar to a ferret or mink, whose pelt was used in trade in ancient times. The selection of the seemingly innocent animal and plant unleashed a media fire storm. "Croatia revives currency from Nazi era!" proclaimed the Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times headline read: "Money is named after an animal that the Nazi puppet regime displayed on World War II bills." Another paper was distressed that the Currency "glorifies Croatian nationalism." A New York Times' columnist used the currency change to dredge up very negative Croatian myth conceivable in condemning kuna. A small, furry, wood marten had suddenly been ormed into the "fascist ferret."

Silver Kuna, Circa 1280

Some journalists felt that Croatia should have kept hated Serbian dinar or reverted to the Austro-Hunrian kruna or "crown" despite the fact that a dozen other countries used the "crown". Like the dinar, it too was a symbol of foreign oppression to Croatians. The difficulty that the kuna it seemed, was that it had also been the currency of the pro-Axis government in Croatia during World War II. However, the claim that the symbol of the kuna appeared on World War II Croatian currency was accurate. The name was used, but the animal was never portrayed on any note, coin, or stamp in war-time Croatia.

One economist sarcastically asserted: "When the United States introduces the beaver to replace the dollar because 200 years ago trappers and Indians conducted commerce in hides, then it would be appropriate for Croatia to use the kuna." Apparently the economist was oblivious to the origin of the term "buck" to describe the American dollar. Like the "penny" (one cent coin) and "nickel" (five cent coin), the United States has never actually had a unit of currency known as a "buck." Despite that and over two hundred years of independence from Britain, Americans still use the term "penny." Every American, whether a descendant of the Mayflower or a recent immigrant, knows that a "buck" is a dollar even though trading in "buck skins," the hide of a male deer, has long since ceased.

The kuna was depicted on the Austro-Hungarian coat of arms, representing Slavonia or eastern Croatia, for centuries, and it appeared in both Royal and communist Yugoslavia as a symbol of the region. With all of the focus the Croatian flag received in 1991 with its "fascist" chessboard shield, the fascist finders did not notice the "fascist ferret" in the crown above the chessboard.

In fact, the animal was not pictured on any Croatian currency but could be found on three Croatian coins. Other "fascist" themes on Croatian coins included a tuna fish, a bear, and a bird.

Overlooked in most of the articles was the fact that the kuna, in the form of its pelt, had been used as a unit of trade in Croatia since Roman times and was first introduced on silver coins in 1256. Also ignored was the fact that while the kuna was used by the Ustase government, it was also used by the Partizan government during the Second World War.


Myth: The Croatian twenty-five field "chessboard" coat-of-arms and the red, white and blue flag bearing that coat-of-arms are Fascist symbols.

Reality: The ancient Croatian coat-of-arms has been used for hundreds of years by every Croatian govemment, and was used by both royalist and Communist Yugoslavia.

The tale that the Croatian coat-of-arms is a symbol of Fascism is a very new myth that, like many others, was created by the Serbian apologist writers David Martin and Nora Beloff and has been repeated by some other ill informed reporters. "They waved the Croat checkered flag-something akin to waving a Confederate flag at an NAACP meeting" wrote the Christlan Science Monitor. Today again the Ustashe flag has been raised" cried Nora Beloff in the Washington Post. "Mr. Tudjman's decision to adopt a flag modeled on the Ustashe flag has only made matters worse," lamented David Martin writing in the New York Times.

It is ironic that those who repeat this myth do not mention or perhaps do not know that the government of Serbia from 1945 onward continued to use the same coat-of-arms used by the Nazi government of General Milan Nedic during World War II. The Serbian arms, which appeared so prominently on the world' s most viciously anti-Semitic postage stamps during the War, continued to be proudly displayed by the Communist Serbian regime.

Hrvatski Grb

The Hrvatski Grb or Croatian shield is one of the oldest national symbols in Europe. The true origins of the Grb have been lost to antiquity. Croatian mythology once said that King Stjepan Drzislav who ruled Croatia from 969 to 997 defeated a Venetian prince at chess to maintain Croatia's freedom. In fact Venice was defeated by Croatia in a sea battle in 887 and was forced to pay tribute to Croatia until 1000. There are many other myths regarding the origins and the exact design of the shield.

Many scholars believe that the Croatians originated in what became modern day Persia or Afghanistan where they were mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian King Darius the Great (522-486 B.C.E.). The design of the Grb, red and white alternating fields, may have been related to the ancient Persian system linking colors with direction which gave us such terms as the Red Sea and the Black Sea. The terms White Croatia and Red Croatia for western and southern Croatia were still in use well into the eleventh century. Silver seems to have been interchangeable with white throughout history.

The oldest known use of the Grb in Croatia is to be found on the wings of four falcons on a baptismal font donated by King Kresimir IV (1056-1073) to the Archbishop of Split. The Grb was used on document seals from the fifteenth century and can be found dating from 1490 in the cathedral of Sinj and a church on the island of Krk.

Although the Grb is usually in its classic five-by-five form, there are numerous variations in history. One example is the charter of the Croatian Sabor or Parliament dated January 1, 1527 displays a shield of sixtyfour fields. Perhaps best known to Croatians and tourists alike is the roof tile design of historic St. Mark's church in old Zagreb incorporating the coat-of-arms of the triune Croatian Kingdom and the City of Zagreb. St. Mark's was built in the thirteenth century and beautifully restored between 1876 and 1882.


Red or White?

Croatians have debated for generations whether the first of the twenty-five fields should be in white or red. Historically, red was more common for Croatia proper while white was more common in Bosnia. For most of Croatia's history both versions could be found. Prior to the revolution of 1848 red was most common. In 1848 the design was codified with twenty-five fields beginning with a white field. The Grb was incorporated info fhe state arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as can be found on the beautiful coinage of Empress Maria Theresa.

When the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which would become Yugoslavia was formed in 1918, the first field reverted to red. King Alexander Karageorgevic ordered the Yugoslav coat-of-arms and his personal arms to incorporate the Grb, red field first. It is ironic that those who called the Grb an affront to all Serbs were unaware that it was superimposed on the Serbian double-headed eagle by the last Serbian King and remained there throughout the life of royalist Yugoslavia. Even in exile the Serbian would-be royalty continued to use the Croatian coat-of-arms as a part of their royal seal.

Following years of struggle for greater autonomy, Croatia became a semi-autonomous Banovina in 1939. The Banovina retained the Grb, red premier field and added a Crown above the shield. The Ustase regime of World War II changed the first field to white and replaced the Royalist crown with a "U" for Ustase above the shield.

When the Partisans emerged victorious in 1945 they introduced a Soviet-style coat-of-arms with the usual sheaves of grain surmounted by a red star. Prominently in the center of the shield was the ever-present twenty-five field Grb with the first field back to red. It was the Communists who first insisted that red and only red could be used. At one time it was a crime to display the Grb with a premier white field. Whether through error or intent, the last Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia adopted in 1974 displayed the arms of Croatia with a white premier field!

In May 1990 when democracy was restored, tens of thousands of red, white and blue flags with the ancient Hrvatski Grb appeared from hiding places to replace the red star of Communism. The new Croatian government retained the traditional Croatian shield, red field first, with a five pointed crown representing the coats-or-arms of five of Croatia's historical regions.

The Croatian flag and the Croatian coat-of-arms were carried into battle against the Turks. They were carried into battle by Croatian-American GIs in World War I, and they were carried joyously through the streets of Croatia in 1990. The flag and coat-of-arms pre-date the arms of many European states and were in common use when Columbus set sail for India only to bump into America along the way. This is the proud reality of the Hrvatski Grb.


Despite the myth that the Croatians and Serbs hated each other for "a thousand years," they lived side- by-side in peace until 1918. Croatia took in thousands of Serbian refugees from the advancing Turks and supported Serbia's bid for independence from the Ottoman Empire. It was only in 1918, when Serbia annexed Croatia as part of its newly expanded Kingdom, that the hatred began.

The myth of Yugoslavia was reborn on November 1945, with the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, "a community of peoples who had freely expressed their will to remain united within Yugoslavia" despite the fact that no vote was ever taken. In 1991 and 1992, the people of Yugoslavia for the first time were allowed to vote for myth or reality. The peoples of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia voted for reality in the form of freedom in a new Europe, an end to communism and an end to multi- national empires. The peoples of Kosova and Vojvodina, enslaved in their own homelands, given no vote.

On April 26, 1992, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic proudly announced the formation of a new federation of Yugoslavia consisting of Serbia, Montenegro and the previously autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosova. In 1995, almost one half of Bosnia was handed to Yugoslavia as a reward for aggression. Like the two Yugoslavias before it, this "state" was also a myth, despite creeping recognition of the third Yugoslavia by European powers in mid- 1996. "Yugoslavia" was just another term "Greater Serbia." Greater Serbia chose communism, expansion, war, and the continued myth of Yugoslavia. The Serbian leadership chose to launch an all-out war of agression against her neighbors to force them to accept myth. When the entire free world finally recognized that Yugoslavia was indeed a myth, Serbia attempted to recreated it with the stroke of a pen backed by a few thousand tanks. On April 29, 1996 Serbia solemnly lared before the World Court that it had played no part in the Bosnian War.

Some myths do not die an easy death.

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 01:47 AM

After World War II, Yugoslavia was reconstituted as a communist federal republic with the promise of equality for all of its nations and peoples. As in most communist states, promises were not fulfilled. A ruthless secret police, and economic and political exploitation of Croatia led hundreds of thousands of young Croatians to seek freedom and prosperity abroad. After the purge of secret police chief Aleksander Rankovic in 1966, a new air of freedom developed known as "The Croatian Spring." Less known in the West than the "Prague Spring", this great liberalization was crushed by the communists in late 1971. One target of the new round of repression was a dissident former Partizan and Yugoslav Army general, Franjo Tudjman. The events of 1971 put into motion events twenty years later that would result in Croatian independence.

The death of Tito in 1980 led to increased demands for democracy and a market-based economy as well as for greater autonomy by Croatia and Slovenia from the Serbian-controlled central government. As Western-oriented Slovenia and Croatia moved toward democratic reform, Eastern-oriented Serbia struggled to maintain communist authoritarianism and a centralized government. In 1990, Dr. Franjo Tudjman became the first freely elected President of Croatia.

Free and democratic elections in Croatia and Slovenia demonstrated a commitment to the democratic process, the protection of human rights, and the development of a free market economy. Croatia began negotiations in mid-1990 toward the formation of a loose confederation of nations that would have granted national autonomy while preserving Yugoslavia in some form. The Republic of Serbia refused all attempts at negotiation and engaged in massive human rights violations against the Albanian majority in the province of Kosova, dismantling its Parliament and purging its government, media, and educational system of Albanians and noncommunists. The Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, remained committed to a single party, totalitarian regime in Serbia and throughout Yugoslavia.

Spurred on by Milosevic, Serbs in Croatia launched a well-planned armed insurrection on August 17, 1990, attacking police stations and blockading the main highway south of the Croatian capital of Zagreb. When Croatian police attempted to stop the violence, the central government dispatched the Serbian-controlled air force and army to "restore order." In 1991, after months of fruitless negotiations and increased violence by the Serbian minority in Croatia, fueled by the Serbian government and military, Croatia voted for independence. On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared themselves to be free and independent of Serbia and Yugoslavia.

Independence and Aggression

Under the pretense of protecting the Serbian minority in Croatia, a full-scale war was launched against Croatia by the Yugoslav armed forces and Serbian militias. Croatia abided by dozens of cease fires only to see the army regroup and attack again. In December 1991, the Serbian government openly admitted that it aimed to annex territory in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in order to form a new "Greater Serbia."

On January 15, 1992, the European Community recognized the independence of Croatia and most of the world's major powers followed suit. Notably, the United States government, headed by George Bush, held back on recognition of Croatia and Slovenia until after United Nations peacekeeping forces had been moved into Croatia. Bush's Deputy Secretary of State and chief advisor on what was Yugoslavia was Lawrence Eagleburger whom the press dubbed "Lawrence of Serbia". Eagleburger had close personal and financial ties with the communist leadership of Serbia as well as Yugoslav banks and arms industries. Despite Eagleburger's friendship with communist Serbia, even the United States was eventually forced to condemn Serbia's expansionist aggression and recognize Croatia in April of 1992. Eagleburger would go on to become Secretary of State and an almost daily television commentator on what went wrong in Yugoslavia.

Protracted Conflict

Almost immediately after Croatia's declaration of independence, the myth was born that Germany and the Vatican were responsible for Yugoslavia's demise and war because they were the first to recognize the new state. In fact, the first country to recognize Croatia was Slovenia on June 26, followed by Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Iceland, and Estonia in 1991. A fragile cease fire was established as the Cyrus Vance cease-fire took effect at 6pm on January 3, 1992.

On December 19, 1991, Germany announced that it would recognize Croatia on January 15, 1992, with or without the rest of the European Community. On that date, twenty-one nations, including Germany, recognized Croatia. By the end of January, forty-two nations had recognized Croatia. The Holy See recognized Croatia on January 13, 1992, the same week as virtually every nation in Europe. The United States was fifty-fourth to acknowledge reality, on April 7, 1992. When Germany and the Vatican recognized Croatia and Slovenia, along with forty other nations, the war in Slovenia was over, Croatia was in ruins, and the UN "protection forces" were moving into place as Serbia was preparing for its next victim, Bosnia. German or Vatican recognition obviously had absolutely nothing to do with the break-up of Yugoslavia seven months before, yet this myth continued to be spread by Serbia and repeated in the Western press.

By the end of 1991, one-third of Croatia's territory had been seized, the city of Vukovar and others were totally destroyed and thousands of Croatians had been killed. One hard hit city was the ancient port city of Dubrovnik, known as Ragusa in Roman times. Despite its stature as an internationally protected heritage site, the city was shelled without mercy, ostensibly to protect its Serbian populace of about five percent. Periodic shelling continued for the next four years.

While radio and television reports focused upon the old walled city and the damage it received, the "newer" parts of the city were even more heavily damaged by Serb shelling, especially the small village of Cilipi near Dubrovnik's airport. The airport itself was stripped of every object from luggage belts to ashtrays before each of its buildings was destroyed. The Inter-University Centre, a world-wide consortium for higher education, suffered fifty-two direct hits and was totally destroyed along with its 25,000 volume library. Almost immediately, one of several Serbian propaganda arms in North America, a group known as SAVA - Serbian American Voter's Alliance, with the assistance of a retired Chicago college professor, created the myth that the film and photographs of the shelling of Dubrovnik were done with burning tires and trick camera angles and asserted that the city was not really damaged at all!

In March 1992, the peoples of Bosnia also went to the polls to vote for independence and sovereignty. The Croatian and Bosnian Muslim populations voted overwhelmingly for independence. The Serbs, representing 31% of the Republic's population, boycotted the referendum. When the European Community recognized Bosnia's independence on April 7, Serbia launched a full-scale war of aggression against that new nation. Although the so-called Yugoslavia claimed to have no forces in Bosnia, it was clear that the ongoing war, like the wars against Kosova, Slovenia, Croatia and three previous Balkan wars of the twentieth century (the third got out of hand and was renamed World War I) would be laid at the feet of Serbia.

Protracted Conflict

Mislabeled a "civil war" by the media, the war continued until December 1995. For three years the United Nations, the European Community, and the United States did little to end the aggression as the result of endless back room bickering and disagreement among the erstwhile NATO allies. The so-called Vance peace plan, which led to a cease fire in Croatia, was violated over 7000 times. It left the Serbs in control of one-third of Croatia's territory and seventy per cent of Bosnia by early 1995.

American resistance to intervention in Bosnia and Croatia began to change in June of 1995 when a US Air Force F-16 fighter was blown out of the Bosnian sky by a "Bosnian Serb" surface-to-air missile. Many in the media and US Congress demanded to know how the rag-tag "Serb rebels" with a "third rate air defense system" could so humiliate the UN, the US and NATO. Despite the pilot's heroic escape and rescue, humiliation it was. The answer was that "Serb rebels" did not shoot down the plane. The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) did, and the UN, NATO and US intelligence services knew it.

Croatia Strikes Back

The sophisticated radar and missile command and control center that targeted the plane was located on the outskirts of Belgrade. The missile itself was supplied by Russia in mid-1994, and all crews were Russian-trained JNA. Rather than a "third rate" air defense system, the triple-interlocking radar guidance with centralized computer control was highly sophisticated.

The reality that was known to all but admitted by few was that Serbia's Yugoslav People's Army, supplied by Russia, was in full control in Bosnia and occupied Croatia. All field action in Bosnia and Croatia was controlled by the JNA general staff in Belgrade. Wounded "rebels" were flown to Yugoslav hospitals. The "Bosnian Serb" army was staffed by regular JNA officers who were rotated on a regular basis among Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia. The last commander of the "Bosnian Serb" army was previously the commander of the "Croatian Serb" army. Despite this, the myth was maintained that Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic had sealed his borders with Bosnia and Croatia and had no control over "rebel forces." In reality the JNA never ceased shipping tons of Russian and Yugoslav arms. Milosevic had full control over his "Bosnian" puppets. Any question of that fact evaporated when "Bosnian Serb rebels" captured several hundred UN peacekeepers and chained them to military targets. It was Milosevic who slowly released them as he gained more and more concessions from the UN

The myth of the "Bosnian Serbs" and "Croatian Serbs" was allowed to go on because the UN, the US and NATO saw Milosevic as the only man who could negotiate a cease-fire. To attack targets in Serbia, the source of the aggression, it was felt, would lead to a wider Balkan war and court a world war. In the meantime, the UN was reduced to begging Milosevic to recognize the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina. But "Slobo" used his advantage over the UN and NATO for all it was worth, and it was worth a great deal.

Croatia Strikes Back

For four years Croatia watched as the UN's so-called peacekeepers did nothing to restore Croatian civilian control over the occupied territories as called for in their mandate. Upon the change of command of the Russian UN peacekeeping force, the Serbs gave Russian Colonel Viktor Loginov, the outgoing commander, a white Mercedes-Benz limousine and a farewell party that was boycotted by British, French and Canadian forces. His replacement, Major General Alexander Perelyakin, was fired in April 1995 for his open collaboration with the Serbian occupation forces.

The UN mandate in Croatia expired on March 31, 1995, and the UN force was reduced in size from 12,000 to 5,000. At the same time, UN plans for Bosnia-Hercegovina changed almost weekly. Most plans represented little more than a repeat of Munich in 1938, where the socalled "Great Powers" handed over Czechoslovakia to Hitler a piece at a time. The final plan divided Bosnia-Hercegovina giving 49% of the country to the Serbs who constituted only 31 % of the pre-war population, rewarding Serbian aggression and punishing the victims. But even this plan was rejected by the Serbs who wanted 70% of Bosnia and access to the Adriatic Sea for the first time in history. Since the world refused to take any real action, against Serbia, the division of Bosnia became inevitable. The destruction, the barbarity, and the death brought on by the war assured that Orthodox, Muslim, and Catholic peoples could never again live together as "Bosnians".

Just as it appeared that Serbian aggression could not be contained, the Croatian Army (HV) proved that Serbia was not invincible despite numerical and hardware superiority. The Serbian army's basic tactic was to lob tons of ordinance on defenseless cities, towns and villages. But in actual combat, the Serb forces were demoralized, disorganized, and usually drunk.

In early May 1995, the government of Croatia moved against the Serbs by launching an offensive to reopen a vital highway and rail link that joined eastern Croatia (Slavonia) with the rest of the country. That link was broken on April 24th when Serb terrorists blocked the Dragalic-Novska section of the highway in violation of a standing cease-fire agreement of December 2, 1994, and a number of UN resolutions.

Strike Two: Operation Storm

By the end of April, Serbs were randomly shooting at motorists who tried to travel the road resulting in four deaths and a number of wounded as UN Jordanian and Nepalese "peacekeepers" looked on. When Serb forces moved to strengthen their hold on the highway, all 2,750 UN "peacekeepers" in the region took shelter in their base camps. On April 30th the Croatian government demanded that the UN forces follow their mandate by preventing attacks on Croatian civilians.

When the UN again refused to take action the Croatian police and army moved to restore control over the motorway on May lst. Thirty-three hours later the Croatian Army had liberated a two hundred square mile pocket that had been under Serbian occupation since 1991. UN and EC observers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Red Cross were immediately brought into the area to assure that no ethnic Serb residents were mistreated. Rumors of such mistreatment (some of which made it into the Western press) were immediately proved false by UN and EC observers.

The Serbs responded with their only proven tactic, firing missiles into Zagreb and six other cities. Serb targets included the airport, the National Theater where 43 ballet dancers from a dozen countries were wounded, the Academy of Arts and Sciences (missing by a few yards and almost hitting the US Embassy), and the Children's Hospital wounding a number of ill children and killing one police officer.

Other targets of the internationally-banned "cluster rockets" included a school and the Zagreb cathedral. Despite the fact that Croatian and Bosnian forces had heavy artillery within visual range of the rebel Serbs capital of Knin, there was no retaliation.

By May 8th most ethnic Serbs in the liberated territories had returned to their homes, including the Serbian-installed mayor. Most of the 1500 Serb soldiers captured were granted amnesty. One hundred and eighty-six were held on charges of rape, mass murder, and service in concentration camps. The Croatian government allowed UN troops to return and reestablish a buffer zone between their forces and remaining pockets of Serbian occupation despite the UN's obvious inaction in preventing Serbian aggression of the previous four years. The swift and decisive action took the so-called "Great Powers" by surprise and was an embarrassing reminder of the total inaction of the United Nations of the previous four years. Rather than being praised, Croatia was condemned by some for violating the "truce," which in fact had never existed for front-line towns and villages throughout Croatia. The United Nations Security Council went so far as to condemn Croatia and the news was filled with accounts of "Croatia's spring offensive." As had happened so often in this war, the victim of aggression became the aggressor in the eyes of the UN.

Unlike the UN, the European Community, NATO and the United States, Croatia now appeared willing and indeed able to contain Serbian expansionism and aggression despite the illegal and immoral arms embargo against it.

Strike Two: Operation Storm

In August of 1995 the world again looked on in disbelief as the small Croatian army launched "Operation Storm" to liberate remaining lands occupied by "rebel Serbs" supported by Belgrade. Despite years of warnings by the socalled "Great Powers" that the Serbs were virtually invincible and that such an assault would take months, if not years, and thousands of lives, the Croatian operation was over in days with few casualties.

For four years the Serbs of the occupied area known as Krajina ("Borderland") had shelled Croatian cities on a daily basis. Despite the assaults, the Croatian government continued to negotiate without success. In late July 1995 a tentative agreement was reached to give the Krajina Serbs, three percent of Croatia's population, their own mini-state with its own flag, currency, and local police, and the Serbian language protected by Croatia. The response was more shelling. The government then warned the Krajina Serbs that further shelling would be met with a military response. Before Croatia took any action, it notified the UN which dutifully notified the Serbian army. The first pin-point Croatian artillery knocked out key military posts and communications with virtually no damage to the city of Knin. The Serbian army turned and ran while intentionally panicking the civilian population, integrating its fleeing forces, tanks, and artillery with the civilian exodus.

When the first units of the Croatian Army arrived, they found a deserted city, virtually untouched by shelling but thoroughly looted. The President of Croatia immediately arrived and called upon the refugees to return home and asked those who had not left to stay and help rebuild a multi-ethnic society. Some chose to do so; most did not. Some who fled were guilty of murder, rape, "ethnic cleansing" (genocide) and the continued daily shelling of a dozen cities from Karlovac to Dubrovnik during the previous four years. Many of the fleeing Serbs were still wearing the uniform of the dreaded Cetnik death squads. Croatia could have arrested the criminals and deported them to the Netherlands for trial. Instead, it kept the escape corridor open and allowed the UN and the press to observe the retreat of Serbian army and their civilian cover back to Serbia. The Croatian government reiterated that any Krajina Serb not guilty of war crimes was welcome to return and live in peace. The Western media immediately labeled the exodus as "ethnic cleansing" by the Croatians. When the Krajina authorities later admitted in the Belgrade press that they had ordered and organized the mass evacuation, little notice was taken.

For four years of over one million non-Serbs were herded out of their homes with little more than the shirts on their backs. Women were taken to rape camps. Tens of thousands were slaughtered and buried in mass graves (such as those that are still being unearthed in Bosnia). Yet the world press was almost gleeful in blaming Croatia for the plight of more refugees fleeing from the so-called Krajina.

Although the media referred to Knin as being "devastated" by the brutal standards of the war, the city was barely touched. To illustrate the devastation, some media unwittingly showed the totally destroyed Roman Catholic church, which was blown up by the Serbs in 1991. The Serhian Orthodox church was untouched and protected by Croatian police. It would later be learned that only 2,000 shells were used in the liberation of Knin. In comparison the Serbs lobbed an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 shells on Sarajevo in a single day.

After the army withdrew from the liberated areas, thousands of Croatians who had been living in refugee camps for the previous four years returned to find their homes, churches and businesses destroyed. Enraged, some took retribution upon the Serbs - looting, burning, and committing as many as twenty-six killings that may not have been war related. While these crimes paled in comparison to the tens of thousands murdered by the Serbs and the entire cities, such as Vukovar, that had been wiped from the earth, they were no less reprehensible. While Serbian leaders had been photographed repeatedly forcing civilians from their homes and the highest ranking Bosnian Serb leaders were named by the International War Crimes Tribunal as war criminals, the Croatian leadership moved quickly to clean its own house. By late September almost four hundred people had been arrested, and in early October Croatian President Franjo Tudjman announced that legal proceedings had been launched in cases of looting, destruction, and the twenty-six murders. He announced, "We expect the courts in Croatia, which are indeed completely independent, to perform their duty in all of these cases." By January 1996, most of the crimes had been prosecuted. When Croatia was attacked in 1991, many Serbs fled not to Belgrade but to the Croatian capital of Zagreb and to other non-occupied areas. More Serbs chose to live at peace in free Croatia than chose to live under Serbian occupation. As late as March 31, 1995, some 218,000 ethnic Serbs lived in free Croatia as opposed to 184,000 in occupied Croatia. Peaceful urban Serbs were not mistreated in free Croatia where some were members of Parliament and one was its Vice President.

The Changing Balance

By late 1995 Croatia had become a military power in the region in its own right, sending the seemingly invincible Serbs into full retreat from Croatia. In Bosnia, the outnumbered and out-gunned Army of the Republic of Bosnia- Hercegovina somehow held the city of Sarajevo and little more than one quarter of the country for three years. The siege of Sarajevo became the longest in modern European history. In much of Hercegovina it was the Croatian Military Organization (HVO) that held the Serbs at bay. While nominally independent and made-up of Bosnian Croatians, the HVO was in reality an extension of the Croatian Army.

Even though the Muslim-led Bosnian Army and the HVO were fighting the same enemy, clashes started as early as 1992 between the two forces, especially in and around the city of Mostar. In March of 1994 US President Bill Clinton presided over a forced marriage of Croatia and Bosnia into a federation. For both it was a marriage of convenience resented by many in the populations of both sides.

The Federation was promised US economic assistance and covert military support in the form of supplies, (technically banned under the universal embargo), training, and most importantly, intelligence. Slowly, the Federation gained greater advantage in western Bosnia while the United Nations abandoned one "safe area" after another in eastern Bosnia allowing the Serbs to swallow up Bosnian towns and, in the case of Srebrenica, Zepa and others, murder thousands of Bosnian Muslims in UN "protected" areas.

Late in 1995 the powerful Croatian Army, under the authority of the Federation, moved to relieve Bosnian forces in northwest Bosnia. Together the forces drove the Serbs back on almost everv front. The United Nations had turned its back on the people it was supposed to protect and it seemed possible that Croatia and Bosnia united might push Serbian forces back into Serbia. Suddenly, settling for half of Bosnia seemed more attractive to dictator Milosevic and his puppets than before.


In April and May of 1995 the first NATO air strikes against Serbs were launched, and in August NATO began a two-week bombing campaign to break the siege of Sarajevo just as Croatian forces were liberating the Krajina. With thousands of refugees fleeing into Serbia, world-wide condemnation of Serbia resulting in real bombs, not words, and a combined Croatian-Bosnian army pressing on every front, Milosevic decided it was time to talk.

In September 1995 a US agreement was accepted by the Croatian and Bosnian sides. That agreement would sacrifice one-half of Bosnia to the Serbian aggressor. However, distasteful, the US made it clear that the offer was final and only the details could be negotiated. With a sixty-day cease fire in effect, the presidents of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia were summoned by President Bill Clinton to a US Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio. From November 1, 1995, for twenty days and nights the details of what would come to be called the "Dayton Agreement" were hammered out and signed on November 21, 1995.

To reinforce the fact that Milosevic was in charge of all "Bosnian Serb" forces, Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic (who was neither Bosnian or Serb), and his chief henchman General Ratko Mladic were not invited and threatened with arrest for war crimes if they attempted to join the talks. A final signing was held in Paris the following month as the first of tens of thousands of NATO, with a symbolic detachment of Russians, moved into Bosnia to begin the difficult task of physically dividing Bosnia into the "Bosnian Federation" and the "Serbian Republic."

The New Mythology: Equal Guilt or Serbian Innocence

At Dayton another less noticed agreement was reached that established a one to two year transition of the remaining Serb-occupied lands in Croatia back to Croatian civil control. Since the transition was to be overseen by the only remaining UN force in Croatia, and not NATO as in Bosnia, the threat of renewed war remained high. The Serbian population that drove out or slaughtered thousands of Croatians and reduced the city of Vukovar to rubble, did not look forward to their neighbors return. Given previous UN incompetence and open support of the Serbs, the two-year "transition" could fail. Croatia let the Serb population know that it is willing to work with an open hand. But unlike 1991, Croatia's open hand in 1996 was backed by a powerful fist in the form of the combat-proven Croatian Army.

The New Mythology: Equal Guilt or Serbian Innocence

For the first time since World War II, an International Tribunal was established at The Hague in the Netherlands to investigate and prosecute rape, murder, slavery, and crimes against humanity. Among the first to be charged with crimes in November of 1995 were "Bosnian Serb" leaders Karadzic, Mladic and over forty others. In February 1996, two other high ranking Serb officers were captured in Bosnia and extradited. Whether the true architect of the war and the crimes, Slobodan Milosevic will be charged remains to be seen at this writing. The magnitude of the crimes may never be known as concerted efforts were made to hide evidence, destroy documents and bury bodies. As many as 8,500 Muslim men may have been executed at a single site after Serb forces over ran the UN "safe haven" of Srebrenica in July, 1995. The total number of deaths was over one quarter million. Rapes were estimated at twenty to forty thousand, and well into 1996 thousands were still be held in Serbian concentration camps or in forced labor for the Serbian Yet even as the entire world took notice and as one first-hand report after another appeared, the Serbian disinformation campaign to hide the crimes began. The New York Times labeled it "a war against memory." As early as 1993 Texas journalist Peter Brock, writing in the journal Foreign Policy, lamented the unfair treatment that Serbs received in the press. He wrote of "minimally damaged Dubrovnik," Muslim provocation of the Serbian army and even hinted that Muslims had shelled themselves to gain Western sympathy. In the same article, the reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post dismissed the Pulitzer Prize winning works of Roy Gutman of Newsday and John Burns of the New York Times on Serbian atrocities.

In early 1996 the blatantly propagandistic film Vukovar made its debut in the United States. The movie was to have been shown at the United Nations in late 1995 but was rejected for its revisionist character and because it was made in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The movie was made in Serbian occupied Croatia and violated a number of UN sanctions. Despite that, it made the rounds of North American theaters with its less than subtle message that the Croatians had started the war and they were responsible for the destruction of Vukovar.

At the same time, a Croatian film Vukovar - The Way Home, describing the plight of the true victims of Vukovar living in train box cars, drew little notice. While critics from a number of leading papers panned the Serbian film as obvious propaganda, a United States Senator called it "prophetic and lyrical" and urged a White House screening and the Los Angeles Times wrote in March 1996, that despite the film's "...clear attempt at objectivity the Croatian government blocked the screening of this courageous and power anti-war film at the United Nations."

Despite such mythology, and unlike the crimes of the past, Serbia will not be able to make these crimes disappear. Far too much was seen by far too many. The facts recognized by the entire world were that Kosova, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina were the victims of Serbian aggression. A quarter of a million died, tens of thousands of women and men were raped, two million were made homeless, hundreds of towns, villages and cities were laid to waste. But not one shot was fired in Serbia; no blade of grass was bent; no window was broken. Serbia emerged untouched with half of Bosnia as its prize for rape and pillage. No amount of ancient fiction or new mythology will ever make Serbia the victim or erase these crimes. From this war, myth will not triumph over reality.

Croatia's Continuity

The Croatian Republic was born into hostility, war and suffering. It attempted to build new institutions of commerce and government while restructuring existing ones. Many in the Western press criticized the young Croatian state as being less than a perfect democracy, sometimes with good cause. Yet during its first five war-torn years, with thousands of refugees, cities ablaze and a dozen competing political parties, Croatia began the development of institutions that would serve well into the future. During the chaotic transition from communism to capitalism and from totalitarianism to democracy, the Croatian people relied on a great inner continuity, one much older and deeper than that of many nations.

Croatian continuity can be illustrated by the troplet, the triple braid that has been found in Croatian art, architecture, and design for centuries. Often the triple braid is unbroken forming a circle of continuity. There are many explanations for the design, which was probably borrowed from the ancient Celts. One explanation is linked to the Christian Trinity representing the body of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Croatia's continuity can be compared to that Trinity. The body of Croatia is its culture. Its lifeblood is its language. History is its spirit. Without the preservation of Croatian tradition, language, and history, Croatians would not exist today. Unless Croatian culture, language, and history are preserved, Croatia will not survive, regardless of political will. Croatia was robbed of political continuity by the actions of outside powers but found stability in its rich culture and history while building a stable political foundation.

That foundation gives every man and woman in a democracy the right to criticize the government, form political parties and exercise the franchise at election. After 1989 Croatia experienced tumultuous change from a singleparty captive nation within Yugoslavia, to a multi-party Republic. The wars of aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina made that transformation even more difficult. Numerous political parties emerged with many leaders and voices in Croatia, Bosnia and abroad. Some parties consolidated, others split, still others disappeared entirely. In war-torn Bosnia governance was sporadic and difficult. In the Croatian Republic, there was chaos and finger-pointing in Parliament and the government. A few voices even called for a return to communism or to some form of Yugoslavia.

Despite these tumultuous beginnings, Croatia can build democratic institutions for the future through its presidency and parliament. In order to achieve the continuity to preserve future democracy, the institutions must be held as separate and above the men and women who ocupy them. These are the institutions that will provide political continuity for the future. Although Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic will be recorded in history as the first democratically elected presidents of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, it is more important that they not be the last democratically elected presidents of their nations. They must be followed in future generations by men and women of many political persuasions. And with each new election, each peaceful change of government, the political continuity will grow.

Democratic institutions are not born overnight. They are grown and nurtured with, as Winston Churchill said, blood, sweat and tears. After hundreds of years, the United States, Canada and Australia are still defining themselves, just as Croatia is doing. The first U.S. President, George Washington, insisted on a one-party state and owned slaves. Australia was born as a prison colony. Canada was formed as a patchwork of very different provinces held together by the thinnest of threads. Yet each evolved into less-than-perfect democracies, but democracies none the less.

Croatia's Future

The Croatian people face many challenges, in Croatia, in Bosnia-Hercegovina and abroad. The weight of the war, hundreds of thousands of refugees, rebuilding destroyed cities, and a weakened economy took their toll. Many became cynical about politics and democracy during that trying time but there was ample cause for hope. Throughout the world, Croatia found friends to assist in the development of democracy - friends in the true sense. There were also those in the United States and other countries who wanted to dictate the terms of "democracy" to nations emerging from communism. Croatia must build a democratic republic reflecting its own rich heritage, its diverse regions and its unique social and cultural institutions. The United States and other democracies can perhaps serve as an example of what to do, and what not to do, but no nation can dictate the terms of "democracy." In 1791 the Croatian Ban John Count Erdodi at the Congress of Bratislava stood to inform the Hungarian council "Regnum regno non praescribit leges!" (One kingdom cannot make the laws for another!). Those words were no less true two hundred years later. Croatia can survive and build on its democratic foundations. And while those foundations are being laid, the bedrock of the Croatian Trinity, language, culture and history, will continue to serve. The Croatian spirit, which has lasted over a thousand years, must never again the sacrificed at the international altar.

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 02:58 AM

Croatia Myth & Reality: The Final Chapter


This monograph is intended to explore the background of a few of the more common myths in a readable, non-academic format; therefore foot-notes and endnotes were not used. However, dozens of articles and monographs have appeared covering many of the same myths over the years. The author acknowledges the work of every scholar, writer, and journalist who has previously pub-lished articles about one or more of these myths. Since 1991 hundreds of books and thousands of articles have appeared making

a complete bibliography impractical for a volume of this size. The following abbreviated, annotated bibliography includes only recent and available English language works dealing with today's Croatia and Bosnia. The first two English editions of this monograph included a bibliography with many sources from the 1930s through the 1970s, some of which were out-of-print and difficult to locate. These works have been listed in the Extended Bibliography. For technical reasons Croatian diacritical marks, found in the original print text, have been omitted.

Antic, Ljubomir and Letic, Franjo. Serbian Terrorism and Violence in Croatia 1990-1991. Zagreb: Republic of Croatia, 1991.

Baletic, Milovan, editor. Croatia 1994. Zagreb: INA- Konzalting D.o.o., 1994. ISBN 953-96108-1-8. [An excellent reference book dealing with every aspect of modern Croatia, including economy, borders, politics, history, and tourism].

Banac, Ivo. The National Question in Yugoslavia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8014-9493-1. [Dr. Ivo Banac of Yale University is the foremost scholar of Croatian Studies in the United States. This scholarly book explores the foundations of Yugoslavia through the 1920s and describes why the failure of Yugoslavia was "structurally unavoidable." Numerous other works from the same author are excellent resources for more in-depth exploration].

Beljo, Ante. Genocide A Documented Analysis. Translated by D. Sladojevic-Sola. Sudbury, ONT: Northern Tribune Publishing, 1985.

Bennett, Christopher. Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse - Causes, Course and Conse-quences. New York: New York University Press, 1995.

ISBN 0-8147-1234-7. [A very readable analysis of the causes behind Yugoslavia's collapse].

Bilandzic, Dusan, et al. Croatia Between War and Independence. Zagreb: University of Zagreb, 1991.

Brozovic, Dalibor. The Kuna and the Lipa - the currency of the Republic of Croatia. Zagreb: National Bank of Croatia, 1994.

Cigar, Norman. Genocide in Bosnia - The Policy of "Ethnic Cleansing." College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-89096-638-9. (1)

Cohen, Leonard. Broken Bonds - Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics. Second Edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8133-2477-7.

Cohen, Phillip. Serbia's Secret War. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-89096-688-5. (1)

Covic, Boze, ed. Roots of Serbian Aggression. Zagreb: Centar za strane jezike, 1993. ISBN 953-174-001-1.

Cushman, Thomas and Mestrovic, Stjepan. This Time We Knew. New York: New York University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8147-1535-4 (paper); -6 (cloth).

Croatia, Republic of. Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Zagreb, 1991.

Croatia, Republic of. Croatia 1941-1991. Zagreb, 1991.

Croatian Anti-Calumny Project. Croatia and Croats in The New York Times. New York, 1994. [An expose of media bias: From CAP 333 East 34th St., No. 21, New York, NY 10016 USA].

Croatian Information Centre. Greater Serbia from Ideology to Aggression. Zagreb, 1992. ISBN 0-919817-30-0. (2)

Croatian Information Centre. Maps of Croatia. Zagreb, 1993. ISBN 0-919817-21-1. (2)

Cuvalo, Ante. The Croatian National Movement 1966-1972. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1990. ISBN 0-88033-179-8.

Fallows, James. Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1996. ISBN 0-679-442-09-X.

[While this book does not deal with Croatia specifically, it does explore media bias and arrogance in the United States].

Gutman, Roy. A Witness to Genocide. New York: MacMillan, 1993. ISBN 0-02-032-995-4.

Irvine, Jill. The Croat Question. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8133-8542-3.

Kapetanovic, Ruzica. Say it in Croatian. Scottsdale, AZ: Associated Book Publishers, 1994. ISBN 0-910164-26-6. (3)

Knezevic, Anto. An Analysis of Serbian Propaganda. Translated by Sibelan E.S. For-rester. Zagreb: Dovia TT, 1992. [An outstanding analysis of Serbian myth-making focusing on Serbian mis-translations and omissions in the works of Franjo Tudjman].

Kostovic, Ivica and Judas, Milos. Mass Killing and Genocide in Croatia 1991-1992. Zagreb: Croatian University Press, 1992.

Macan, Tripimir, and Sentija, Josip. A Short History of Croatia. Zagreb: Croatian Writers' Association, 1992.

Magas, Branko. The Destruction of Yugoslavia - Tracking the Break-up 1980-92. London: Verso, 1993. ISBN 0-86091-593-X.

Maletic, Franjo, editor. Tko je tko u Hrvatskoj - Who is Who in Croatia. Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 1993. ISBN 953-6168-00-6.

Matica Hrvatska. Dubrovnik in War. Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska, 1993. ISBN 953-169-002-2. [Puts to rest with photographic evidence the myth that Durbrovnik was not seriously shelled in 1991].

Mestrovic, Stjepan, ed. Genocide After Emotion: The Postemotional Balkan War. London: Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-12294-5.

Mestrovic, Stjepan. Habits of the Balkan Heart. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-89096-593-5. (1)

Museum of Arts and Crafts. Borders of Croatia on Maps from 12th to 20th Century. Zagreb, 1993.

Pozzi, Henri. Black Hand Over Europe. Zagreb: Croatian Information Centre, 1994.

ISBN 953-6058-06-5. [A reprint of a 1935 work originally written in French. The book surveys the situation in Yugoslavia between the two world wars and in many ways predicts the events of World War II and depicts the "Greater Serbian" nature of Yugoslavia]. (2)

Prcela, John and Guldescu, Stanko, editors. Operation Slaughterhouse. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1995. ISBN 0-8059-3737-4. [At 575 pages, this is the definitive work on the post-war Bleiburg massacres with eyewitness accounts from many survi-vors who are since deceased].

Prpic, George J. Croatia and The Croatians. Scottsdale, AZ: Associated Publishers, 1982. ISBN 0-910164-02-9. [A selected and annotated bibliography in English divided by subject area and including pamphlets, articles, books, and theses by the distinguished professor emeritus of John Carroll University]. (3)

Silber, L. and Little, A. Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation.

New York: Penguin USA, 1996. ISBN 1-57500-005-9. [Although "Death of a State" would have been more accurate a title, this is a print version of the very popular BBC television series of the same title first aired in late 1995].

Tudjman, Franjo. Croatia on Trial. Translated by Zdenka Palic-Kusan. London: United Publishers, 1981.

Tudjman, Franjo. Nationalism in Contemporary Europe. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1981. ISBN 0-914710-70-2. [In this book the dissident who would become the first president of Croatia accurately predicted many of the events of a decade later that would lead to the fall of communism.]

Zerjavic, Vladimir. Yugoslavia - Manipulations with the Number of War Victims. Zagreb: Croatian Information Centre, 1993. ISBN 0-91981732-7. [An exploration of exaggerated claims of casualties in World War II in English, French, German and Croatian]. (2)

(1) Books from Texas A&M University Press may be ordered by mail at Drawer C, John Lindsey Building, College Station, TX 77843-4354 USA.

(2) Books from the Croatian Information Centre may be ordered by mail at Trg Stjepana Radica 3, 41000 Zagreb, Croatia.

(3) Books from Associated Book Publishers may be ordered by mail from P.O.B. 629, Newtown, PA 18940-0629 USA.



Albrecht-Carrie, Rene. Italy at the Paris Peace Conference. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1966.

Beard, Charles A. and Radin, George. The Balkan Pivot: Yugoslavia. New York: Macmillan Company, 1929.

Bonifacic, Antun and Mihanovich, Clement, Editors. The Croatian Nation in its Struggle for Freedom and Independence. Chicago: "Croatia" Cultural Publishing Center, 1955.

Croatia, Republic of. Peace Conference on Yugoslavia: Croatian Approach. Zagreb, 1991.

Dedijer, Valdimir; Bozic, Ivan; Cirkovic, Sima; Ekmecic, Milorad. History of Yugoslavia. New York: McG-raw-Hill, 1974.

Epstein, Julius. Operation Keelhaul. Old Greenwich: Devin-Adair, 1973.

Eterovich, Adam. Croatian and Dalmatian Coats of Arms. Palo Alto, CA: Ragusan Press, 1978.

Eterovich, Francis and Spalatin, Christopher, Editors. Croatia Land, People, Culture. 2 volumes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964 (I), 1970 (II).

Grakalic, Marijan. Hrvatski Grb. Zagreb: Nakladni Zavod Matice Hrvatske, 1990.

Grana, Gianni. Malaparte. Firenze: Il Castoro, 1968.

Hecimovic, Joseph. In Tito's Death Marches and Extermination Camps. Translated and edited by John Prcela. New York: Carlton Press, 1962.

Hefer, Stjepan. Croatian Struggle for Freedom and Statehood. Translated by Andrija Ilic. Buenos Aires: Croatian Information Service, 1959.

Hoptner, Jacob. Yugoslavia in Crisis 1934-1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962.

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Letica, Slaven, Editor. Croatia 1990. Zagreb: Presidency of the Republic of Croatia, 1990.

Malaparte, Curzio. Kaputt. Translated by Cesare Foligno. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1946.

Malaparte, Curzio. The Skin. Translated by David Moore. Malboro, VT: Marlboro Press, 1988.

McDonald, Gordon C., et al. Area Handbook for Yugoslavia. Washington: U.S. Govern-ment Printing Office, 1973.

Milazzo, Matteo J. The Chetnik Movement & The Yugoslav Resistance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975.

Naval Intelligence Division. Jugoslavia. 2 vols. London: British Government, 1944.

Nikolic, Vinko. Bleiburg Uzroci I Posljedice. Munich: Knjiznica Hrvatske Revije, 1988.

Nyrop, Richard F., Editor. Yugoslavia a country study. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1982.

Omrcanin, Ivo. The Pro-Allied Putsch in Croatia in 1944. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1975.

Prcela, John and Guldescu, Stanko, editors. Operation Slaughterhouse. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1970.

PrpiŘ, George J. Croatia and The Croatians. Scottsdale, AZ: Associated Publishers, 1982.

Ristic, Dragisa N. Yugoslavia's Revolution of 1941. University Park, PA: Penn State Press: 1966.

Roberts, Walter R. Tito, Mihailovic and the Allies 1941-1945. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1973.

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Stjepan Srkulj. Hrvatska Povijest. Zagreb: 1937.

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Chapters in Books and Monographs

Babic, Ivan. "Military History." In Croatia Land, People Culture, Vol I. Edited by Francis H. Eterovich and C. Spalatin. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964.

Benkovic, Theodore. Tragedy of a Nation. Chicago, 1946.

Cesarich, George W. "Yugoslavia was Created Against the Will of the Croatian People." In The Croatian Nation, pp. 192-211. Edited by Antun F. Bonifacic and Clement S. Mihanovich. Chicago: Croatian Cultural Publishing Center, 1955.

McAdams, C. Michael. Allied Prisoners of War in Croatia 1941-1945. Arcadia, CA: Croatian Information Service, 1980.

McAdams, C. Michael. Whitepaper on Andrija Artukovic. Arcadia, CA: Croatian Infor-mation Service, 1975.

Tudjman, Franjo. Croatia on Trial. Translated by Zdenka Palic-Kusan. London: United Publishers, 1981.

The Author - C. Michael McAdams

C. Michael McAdams (b. 1947, California USA), is a historian and writer living in the California state capital of Sacramento. He earned his B.A. in history at the University of the Pacific in California, his M.A. in Croatian history and Certificate in Soviet and East European Studies at John Carroll University in Ohio. Following advanced study of comparative politics and ideologies as a Carthage Foundation Scholar at the University of Colorado, and studies in Croatian ethnicity at California State University, San Jose, as a Sourisseau Academy scholar, he joined the University of San Francisco (1979) where he completed course work for the Doctorate in Education. McAdams was named Director of the University of San FranciscoŐs Sacramento campus in 1978 --- a post which he held until his retirement in March 2000.

He has published seven monographs, six chapters and over one hundred articles in the areas of German, Croatian, and South Slavic Studies. In addition to some one hundred lectures, symposia, and keynote addresses in Europe, North America and Australia, including the University of Zagreb, Inter-University Centre of Dubrovnik, University of Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macquarie University in Sydney, and the University of New South Wales, he wrote, directed and read a weekly radio program broadcast ("Moments in Croatian History") on twenty North American and Austra-lian stations for fifteen years.

McAdams is a member or has been affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, the Association for Croatian Studies, the Croatian Academy of America, El Instituto Croata Latinamericano de Cultura, and other professional and scholarly organizations. He is presently on the Advisory Board of the Unger Scholarship Fund at Harvard UniversityŐs John F. Kennedy School of Government, and on the Board of Directors of the Croatian Scholarship Fund (HSZ).

His most recent monograph Hrvatska - mit i istina (Croatia Myth & Reality) was published in Croatian (1993) and Swedish (1995) by the Croatian University Press (HSN) in Zagreb; in Danish by Kovenhaven in Copenhagen (1995); in Spanish by El Instituto Croata Latinamericano de Cultura in Buenos Aires (1998, 1999); and in three English editions by CIS Monographs of Los Angeles (1992, 1994, 1997). Other translations are planned.


C. Michael McAdams (b. May 8, 1947, California USA), is the Director of the University of San Francisco's campus in the California state capital of Sacramento. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, he earned his B.A. at the University of the Pacific in California, his M.A. in Croatian History and Certificate in Soviet and East European Studies at John Carroll University in Ohio. Following advanced study of Comparative Politics and Ideologies as a Carthage Foundation Scholar at the University of Colorado, and studies in Croatian ethnicity at California State University, San Jose, as a Sourisseau Academy scholar, he joined the University of San Francisco where he completed course work for the Doctorate in Education.

He has published seven monographs, six chapters and one hundred and twenty- five articles in the areas of Croatian and South Slavic studies. In addition to some one hundred lectures, symposia and keynote addresses in Europe, North America, and Australia, he wrote, directed and read a weekly radio program broadcast on North American and Australian stations for fifteen years. In 1993 and 1994 he lectured at the University of Zagreb and at the International Symposium on the Bleiburg Tragedy at Zagreb, Croatia and Bleiburg, Austria.

An American Scholar of Croatian Studies: Professor Michael McAdams

Croatia Today, Croatian Embassy to the United States, December 1995

There was a time, not so long ago, when expressing the desire that Croatia be free, or identifying one-self as Croatian, could be dangerous, not only in Yugoslavia, but even in the United States. Nevertheless, there was always a small group of activists who kept the dream alive that someday Croatia would be free. Michael McAdams, an American scholar of Croatian studies, was one of these activists who stood before American, Canadian, and Australian audiences for twenty-five years trying to explain why the Croatian people wanted to be free and independent. This effort alone was courageous and commendable, but what makes Professor McAdams so unique is his ancestry - not Croatian, but Scottish and Jewish. On December 19, 1995, Professor McAdams, now Director of the University of San Francisco's Sacramento campus, was presented with the Republic of Croatia's prestigious Danica Order of Marko Marulic. The decoration is named after the 15th century Croatian writer Marko Marulic, called "the father of Croatian literature." Marulic was a great humanist and author of many renowned works, and the order is awarded to Croatian or foreign citizens who distinguish themselves by their efforts in the field of culture.

McAdams was born in 1947 on a California Marine base, the son of a career U.S. Marine Corps officer. His first awareness of Croatia came from his postage stamp collection as a child, in which he studied Croatian landscapes, buildings, and depictions of war. In the spring of 1971, upon completing his military service in the U.S. Marines, McAdams began his study of history at the University of the Pacific. He first became interested in Croatia academically when studying World War II. He says that, "History was much easier twenty-five years ago... this was especially true of the typical American per-spective on history.. .black and white, good and evil." But when he read about the Balkans, he became more and more confused. He found that "every book had different ‘heros' and different ‘villains'," and "there was virtually nothing in the average university library that reflected a positive note about Croatia or the Croatians." The library had only three books about Croatia: Croatia: Land, People and Culture in two volumes, edited by the late Father Francis Eterovich, and Croatian Immigrants in America by George J. Prpic. Both authors were to become his close friends, and Dr. Prpic would later lead McAdams through his Masters in Croatian history at John Carroll University. His research led him to believe that "while not all Croatians supported the World War II Ustashe regime, most supported an independent Croatian State," and he "wondered why Croatia was portrayed in such an evil light." Thus, he explains, "with some degree of naivete, I decided to study Croatia. I did not read Croatian and had never actually met a Croatian. Nonetheless, I set out in search of Croatian history."

His activism began in 1973, when he led Croatian Americans, accuracy in media organizations and political leaders in protesting the inaccuracy of a Reader's Digest article on former Croatian cabinet minister Andrija Artukovic. His extensive research on the case led to his first monograph, Whitepaper on Dr. Andrija Artukovic, published in 1975. Since, he has published seven mono-graphs, six chapters and one hundred and twenty-five articles in the areas of German, Croatian, and South Slavic studies. In addition to some one hundred lectures, symposia, and keynote addresses in North America, Europe, and Australia, for fifteen years he wrote, directed, and read a weekly radio program, "Moments in Croatian History," broadcast on twenty North American and Australian sta-tions.

For twenty years, McAdams wrote letters and articles, trying to help Americans distinguish myth from reality when it came to Croatia and the Croatians. The old myths would not die; they were resurrected and embellished upon by the media. McAdams notes that when Serbia launched its war of aggression against Slovenia. Croatia and Bosnia, "it also launched a full scale war of words, bombarding the world with old myths and new creations. Well-meaning journalists and others fell victim to propaganda while attempting to understand and to justify the war of aggression against Croatia." This is when someone suggested that he write a brief, readable, and easy-to-understand monograph that would respond to the most common myths about Croatia with documented facts. Thus, in the fall of 1992, he published Croatia: Myth and Reality. A second English edition was published in 1994, a Swedish edition in 1995, and McAdams has given permission for German, Spanish and French translations as well. Perhaps the most personally-significant edition of the monograph for McAdams, however, is the one published on May 6, 1993. On that day, he was handed the first five copies of the Croatian edition, printed that morning, as he first set foot on free Croatian soil at Zagreb airport. It was the culmination "of a long journey of many miles and many years."

Source: "Croatia - Myth and reality" by C. Michael McAdams

Source: The Vidovdan Hydra (http://www.freewebs.com/index44/serbianpropaganda.htm)

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 03:17 AM
C. Michael McAdams (b. 1947, California USA), was a historian and writer who lived in the California state capital of Sacramento. He earned his B.A. in history at the University of the Pacific in California, his M.A. in Croatian history and Certificate in Soviet and East European Studies at John Carroll University in Ohio. Following advanced study of comparative politics and ideologies as a Carthage Foundation Scholar at the University of Colorado, and studies in Croatian ethnicity at California State University, San Jose, as a Sourisseau Academy scholar, he joined the University of San Francisco (1979) where he completed course work for the Doctorate in Education. McAdams was named Director of the University of San Francisco’s Sacramento campus in 1978 — a post which he held until his retirement in March 2000. Sadly, McAdams died in Sacramento on October 29, 2010 after a series of illnesses.

He has published seven monographs, six chapters and over one hundred articles in the areas of German, Croatian, and South Slavic Studies. In addition to some one hundred lectures, symposia, and keynote addresses in Europe, North America and Australia, including the University of Zagreb, Inter-University Centre of Dubrovnik, University of Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macquarie University in Sydney, and the University of New South Wales, he wrote, directed and read a weekly radio program broadcast (“Moments in Croatian History”) on twenty North American and Austra-lian stations for fifteen years.

McAdams was a member or has been affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, the Association for Croatian Studies, the Croatian Academy of America, El Instituto Croata Latinamericano de Cultura, and other professional and scholarly organizations. He was on the Advisory Board of the Unger Scholarship Fund at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and on the Board of Directors of the Croatian Scholarship Fund (HSZ).

His most recent monograph Hrvatska – mit i istina (Croatia Myth & Reality) was published in Croatian (1993) and Swedish (1995) by the Croatian University Press (HSN) in Zagreb; in Danish by Kovenhaven in Copenhagen (1995); in Spanish by El Instituto Croata Latinamericano de Cultura in Buenos Aires (1998, 1999); and in three English editions by CIS Monographs of Los Angeles (1992, 1994, 1997). Other translations are planned.

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 03:42 AM
Myth: 80% Yugoslav Partisans were Serbs


Original caption for this photograph in LIFE Magazine of 6 December 1943, p.88, reads: Partisan schoolchildren, who were photographed by British Navy Lieut. Lambton Burn, wear red star on white caps and give clenched-fist salute. Notice the brightness of these Croat Dalmatian faces. The Croats, though they have always been political underdogs in Yugoslavia, are more citified than the war-like people of the mountains. The Communist movement among them is nationalistic and even religious, and the Communists are only one of the antifascist groups which work together. This represents a kind of New Deal for Yugoslavia.

Serbian historians frequently allege that 80 percent of all members of the Yugoslav Partisan army were Serbs. Communist leader Josip Broz Tito reportedly claimed that the national composition of the Partisan army in 1944 was 44 percent Serb and only 2.5 percent “Moslem.” Dr. Marko Hoare estimated that in Bosnia and Herzegovina — in the entirety of the war — the Bosnian Partisans were 64.1 percent Serb, 23 percent Muslim, and 8.8 percent Croat. In reality, no reliable data exists to support any of the above allegations.

FACTS: In World War II, virtually all “Muslims” (Bosniaks) who fought in the ranks of the anti-fascist Marshal Tito’s Partisans were mistakenly considered to be ethnic “Serbs,” because Yugoslav authorities refused to recognize Bosniaks as a distinct ethnic group and prohibited them from using their own Bosnian language (“Serbo-Croat” was an official language). The policy of “denial of a nation” would continue well into post-war period.

It was only after the withdrawal of the Germans and the overthrow of the Nazi Serbian collaborationist regime of Milan Nedic in October 1944 that the Serbs in Serbia began to join the anti-fascist Partisans in large numbers (see Table, from Philip Cohen’s book “Serbia’s Secret War“). These new Yugoslav Partisans included tens of thousands of former Nazi collaboratorationist Serbian Chetniks responding to Marshal Tito’s promises of amnesty.


There is no figure for the ethnic composition of anti-fascist Partisans in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but overall, it is reasonable to conclude that majority of them came from the ranks of Bosnia’s predominant Muslim population.

According to Philip J. Cohen and David Riesman,

“In the beginning, when the Partisan movement was small in number, Serbs comprised the majority of the rank and file in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. By 1943, when the movement further expanded, the majority of Partisans in Croatia were Croats (no figure for the ethnic breakdown of the Partisans in Bosnia-Herzegovina are available). By the end of 1943, Croatia proper — which contained about 24 percent of the Yugoslav population — had provided more Partisans than Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Macedonia, which combined, made up 59 percent of Yugoslavia’s population… Overall, from 1941 to 1945, the Partisans of Croatia were 61 percent Croat and 28 percent Serb, the rest comprising Slovenes, Muslims, Montenegrins, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Jews, and Volksdeutsche.” (quote from “Serbia’s Secret War”, p.95)

Finally, in 1968 the Constitution of the newly-formed Yugoslavia was amended to recognize “Muslims” as a distinct nation within Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the use of the historic term “Bosniak” continued to be prohibited. The Yugoslav “Muslim by nationality” policy was considered by Bosniaks to be neglecting and opposing their Bosnian identity because the term tried to describe Bosniaks as a religious group not an ethnic one.

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 03:58 AM
By Yahalom Kashny on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


Image: Anti-fascist Croatian Partisan fighter Stjepan Filipović
shouting "Death to fascism, freedom to the People!" (the Partisan slogan)
seconds before his execution by a Serbian Nazi unit, Serbian State Guard,
in Valjevo, occupied Yugoslavia.

Operation Halyard was one of the largest Allied airlift operation behind enemy lines of World War II. The Yugoslav Partisans played a major role in saving downed Allied airmen. Serbian nationalists often claim that Chetniks saved over 500 downed airmed, but that figure is simply wrong. According to statistics compiled by the US Air Force Air Crew Rescue Unit, between 1 January and 15 October 1944, a total of 1,152 American airmen were airlifted from Yugoslavia, 795 with the assistance of the Yugoslav Partisans and 356 with the help of the Serbian Chetniks.

In World War II, the Yugoslav Partisans were a multi-ethnic resistance force under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito (Josef Tito). It included Croats, Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Jews, Roma (‘Cigani’), Slovenes, Albanians (‘Siptari’) and Serbs. On the other hand, the Chetniks were a Serbian nationalist organization led by opportunistic Nazi-collaborator General Draza Mihailovich (aka: Dragoljub Mihailovic).

Quazi-historians with obvious Serbian sympathies – like Lucien Karchmar – often cite the Operation Halyard as ‘evidence’ of the Chetnik’s anti-fascist ideology. After all, why would Serbian Nazi collaborators save 356 allied airmen? It is because Draza Mihailovic was going to great lengths to regain Allied support and to depict himself in a favorable light to the western Allies. With the Axis defeat in Europe a certainty and having lost all Allied support to the Partisans, Draza Mihailovic and his Nazi collaborationalist movement stood no chance of survival. The Allies were aware that Mihailovic’s Chetniks were at the same time also rescuing Nazi German and Nazi Ustasha aviators from Tito’s anti-fascist Partisans.

According to Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies,

“The Chetniks’ struggle with the invaders came to a complete stop at the end of 1941, and gradually evolved into cooperation with the Italians and the Germans against Tito… By the end of 1943, the break between the West and the Chetniks was complete. The Chetniks became [nazi] collaborators and joined the forces fighting the partisans. After the occupation of Serbia by the partisans and the Red Army, the Chetniks were hunted down. Shortly after the end of the war, Mihajlovic and his men were captured and brought before a Yugoslav national tribunal. Most of them were hanged.”

According to Yad Vashem, Serbian Chetniks led by General Draza mihailovic killed Jews:

“As the Chetniks increased their cooperation with the Germans, their attitude toward the Jews in the areas under their control deteriorated, and they identified the Jews with the hated Communists. There were many instances of Chetniks murdering Jews or handing them over to the Germans.”

General Draza Mihailovic was antisemite who hated Jewish people. His Chetniks movement despised Tito’s Partisans, because Partisan units were (according to Chetniks) largely ‘composed’ of “Jews, Gypsies and Muslims.” The Chetniks hated all national minorities in Yugoslavia. At the beginning of World War II, Draza Mihailovic’s movement demonstrated a full intent to commit genocide against Bosnian Muslims, Jews, and Croats.

As part of his policies in support of the creation of Greater Serbia, General Mihailovic issued the so called “Instructions” (“Instrukcije”) to his commanders on December 20, 1941 to fight for “the creation of Greater Yugoslavia, and within it Greater Serbia, ethnically clean within the borders of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Srem, Banat, and Backa” and to ‘cleanse’ (destroy) “all national minorities [including Jews] and anti-state elements from state territory“. Further, Mihailovic asked his commanders create “direct common borders between Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Serbia and Slovenia by cleansing the Muslim population from Sandzak, and Muslim and Croat populations from Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Mihailovic planned to settle “areas cleansed of national minorities and anti-state elements by Montenegrins” whom he considered to be ‘nationally patriotic’ and ‘honest.’

From 1941-1943 Serbian Chetniks committed genocide by systematically rounding up and killing more than 50,000 Bosnian Muslims. In one of largest terrorist raids on Muslim villages from both sides of Drina, Chetniks rounded up and killed some 15,000 Muslims in February of 1943. Chetnik leader Pavle Djurisic provided a bit conservative figures, admitting his troops, in fact, killed 9,200 Bosnian Muslim “women, old people, and children” in a single military operation in February of 1943.

Having slaughtered more than 50,000 Muslims by 1943, Serb fascists also hunted down and killed Jews. However, the killing of Jews started much earlier and was, statistically speaking, devastating for the Jewish community. Ninety percent of Yugoslav Jews perished in World War II.

The oppression of Jews in Serbia started before the arrival of Hitler’s occupying forces. Six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia voluntarily passed the legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy, education and employment. One year later, on 22 October 1941, anti-Semitic “Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibit” was funded by Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade. Serbian Orthodox Church also encouraged antisemitism and portrayed Jews and “scum” of this world. Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic openly encouraged Serbs to assist Germans in exterminating Jews. Serbian Orthodox Church canonized Serbian nazi collaborator Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic who is now regarded as ‘as the most distinguished religious personality since Saint Sava’”

Serbian Nazi fascists worked closely with German Nazi officials in making Belgrade the first “Judenfrei” (free of Jews) city of Europe. Serbian leader Milan Nedic made an official visit to Adolf Hitler on 19 September 1943, advancing the idea that Serbia is no place for Jews and thanking ‘Führer’ for his decision to exterminate our people in Europe.

Throughout the War, the Serbian Chetnik movement remained almost completely inactive against the occupation forces, and increasingly collaborated with the Axis, losing its international recognition as the Yugoslav resistance force. With Adolf Hitler’s blessing, Serbian Nazi collaborators established the Serbian State Guard which comprised of around 20,000 Serb fascists, compared to the the 3,400 German police in Serbia. Their mission was to hunt down and kill Jews, Gypsies and other non-Serbs.

Milan Nedic’s second in command was Dimitrije Ljotic. Ljotic founded the Serbian Fascist Party and organized the Serbian SS Volunteers Corps which hunted down and killed Jews, Gypsies and Muslims. Serbian citizens received cash bounties for capturing or killing Jews.

Banjica concentration camp was primarily operated by Serb Nazis who took sadistic pleasure in killing Jews. The camp was created by converting barracks of the Serbian SS 18th infantry division. The funding for this conversion came not from Germans, but from the municipal budget of Belgrade.

Jews were also killed in the Sajmiste concentration camp. According to Dr. Josip Pecaric,

“With reference to Sajmiste, it is important to note that it is the only concentration camp in the Second World War which was set up exclusively for Jews, the only ‘Jewish camp’ (Judenlager) in the world, from which no Jews survived (this was true of Banjica as well). Camp inmates were executed on the streets of Belgrade, using mobile gas chambers, and mass graves were located in various parts of the city. This makes Belgrade the only capital city that was also a concentration camp during the war; and all of this in plain view of the city’s inhabitants.”

Serbian collaborationist forces during this period, sanctioned by the Serbian fascist government, also included the ZBOR party and Serbian Volunteer Corps led by Dimitrije Ljotić and the rogue Chetnik faction of Kosta Pećanac. Serbian Gestapo, officially known as the 1st Belgrade Special Combat detachment, was a special Serbian SS police unit which was established in World War II Serbia.

It was only after the withdrawal of the Germans and the overthrow of the Nedic regime in October 1944 that the Serbs in Serbia began to join the anti-fascist Partisans in large numbers. These new Partisans included tens of thousands of former Serbian Nazi collaborators responding to Tito’s promises of amnesty.

It is true that Bosnian Muslims also had their own SS Handzar unit.

The so called “13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar [Handzar] (1st Croatian)” was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded as part of the Waffen-SS during World War II. However, this Nazi unit did not target Jewish people in the World War II. The Handschar division was a mountain infantry formation, the equivalent of the German “Gebirgsjäger” (Mountain troops) units. It was used to conduct operations against anti-fascist Yugoslav Partisans and Serbian Nazi-collaborationist Chetniks. Its recruits were composed of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Croats (Bosnian Catholics), because both ethnic groups were persecuted and killed by Serbian Nazi collaborators (Chetniks).

An overhelming majority of Bosnian Muslims (98%) joined Partisans in the Second World War and fought against the Germans and Serbian nazi collaborators, Chetniks. Handzar Division was relatively short lived. It was created in 1943 and it disintegrated mid-field in late 1944.

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 04:03 AM
Mislav Jezic - University of Zagreb, Croatia


The actual events in the war against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, if followed carefully, show relatively clearly that this is a war of conquest, a war for the pretended 'Lebensraum' for the Serbian state. This is partly concealed under the old name of Yugoslavia, now usurped by Serbia and Montenegro, the annexation of the latter reminding one very much of the Anschluss of Austria. The abolition of autonomy in the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina by the regime of Milosevic and the inclusion of Montenegro in the common state were only the first steps towards the creation of the Greater Serbia on the ruins of the ex-Yugoslavia, which were achieved by terror alone, without a war. Other pretended regions had to be gained by war.

Serbia, as it was, had only 66% of Serbs among its citizens. The percentage of Serbs in the neighboring states is much lower. In Bosnia they are approximately one third of the population, in Croatia some 11% of citizens. However, in the name of the Serbs in these states the Serbian army has occupied over two thirds of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Croatia almost one third of the country. Even worse, the majority of the Serbs in Croatia are living in great cities outside the occupied territory which was not occupied in the name of those 11%, but only of the Serbs from the occupied regions, who represent altogether 3% of citizens of Croatia, ie. less than a 30th part of the population. The numbers speak for themselves.

They imply obvious questions. What to do with the rest of population, the Croats, Moslems and others living in the occupied regions, who might lower the percentage of Serbs in the whole territory from 66% in Serbia itself, which is not very favourable, to 55%, 44%, 33% etc., according to the extent of conquest? The answer, which no person of sound mind was able to imagine in advance, was, however, thoughtfully prepared by the war strategy of the Serbian regime: it was - mass killing, mass torture, mass rape, mass destruction of cultural monuments, of religious buildings, or even of natural preconditions of life, like water-supply, energy-supply, etc., ie. ethnic cleansing and genocide on the occupied territories in order to radically change the population in the regions. The proportions of population and territory mentioned above explain the mass proportions of the Serbian war crimes in this war. They are not an accidental, but an inevitable strategic feature of this war. Those proportions equally show how unjustified the claims of the Serbian politics are, as well as any tendency in international diplomacy to, even partly, accept them.

This war against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to grasp their territories, is no civil war. It started as a war of a heavily armed ex-Yugoslav, actually Serbian, army against the unarmed civilian non-Serbian population. It was, on the contrary, an anti-civilian war.

It is no ethnic war. If it was such a war, it would have started in the regions with the greatest ethnic complexity, ie in the provinces of Voivodina and Kosovo. As real war, it started, however, in the most ethnically coherent republics, first, for a short time, in Slovenia with some 90% of Slovenes, and then, very dramatically and for a long period, in Croatia with some 80% of Croats, in both cases it was war of the ex--Yugoslav army against the majority of the population.

Finally, it is no religious war. The mass destruction of Catholic and Muslim religious monuments and buildings does not prove the religious character of this war, because of the fact that over 80% of Serbs were never even baptized. They are considered Orthodox Christians exclusively because of the national character of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It started, moreover, obviously as an anti-religious war waged by non-believers and led largely by former communists.

If it was a religious war, one would expect that it started as a war between Christians and Muslims, but it did not. For a year and a half the war was waged in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the first clashes between Muslims and Catholic Croats took place, after both of them, who together make up two-thirds of the population in the state, were reduced to one third of the territory by Serbian conquests, which were not impeded by any military force of the international community, which would be able to stop the aggressor.

Even if the actual international press seems more concerned with blaming the victims, almost as much as the aggressor, for this war, and with justifying the inefficiency of the principal agents in the international community, however, everybody sincerely wishing to understand the reasons of this war on the ruins of the former Yugoslavia still can grasp a clear picture about the actual events and understand that it is a clear case of aggression.

That is why the justifiers of the Serbian claims do not use actuality but history, especially the history of the 20th century, in order to prove the rights of the actual Serbian politics. They count upon the survival of the Yugoslav national ideological myths about the negative role of the Croats in the World Wars, especially in World War II, carefully elaborated and divulged by the Serb-controlled Yugoslav propaganda in the last fifty to seventy years.

Therefore this paper shall be devoted to a critical survey of the main facts of recent Croatian history with no intention of justifying any abuses or crimes committed by Croats in the past, but only with the wish to put historical events in real contexts and proportions.

Basic Historical Facts About Croatia in the 20th Century

Some Presuppositions to Understanding the Recent History of Croatia

The Croats came to their present homeland in the 7th century. Croatia has documents testifying to its statehood since the 9th century. Since the beginning of the 10th century it has been a kingdom. The style of the state documents is close to the prose of the Carolingian renaissance. The language is Latin, but the names of courtiers are Croatian: vinoto cubrusar, posteljnik, volar, stitonosa tepcija , zupan , ban itd. This means that the language of international communication was Latin, just as the legal context of the documents was European, and that the language of internal communication at the court was Croatian.

After the extinction of the national Croat dynasty of Trpimirovics , the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) started electing various European dynasties for Croatian kings: the Hungarian Arpad dynasty (12th-13th century), the French Anjous (14th century), the Luxemburg dynasty, Matthias Corvinus and the Lithuanian-Polish Jagiellons (15th - early 16th century) and finally, at the time of the enormous threat by the Ottoman empire, the mightiest contemporary dynasty in Europe - the Habsburgs (16th-20th century). Under all these foreign kings Croatia preserved the functions of a viceroy (ban), who was normally a Croat (sometimes there were two), of its Parliament (Sabor) and of regional administrators ( zupans). It means that Croatia did not lose the essential attributes of a state, of a kingdom, until this century.

Creation of the First Yugoslavia

At the end of World War I all the Slav peoples wanted to leave the Austro-Hungarian Empire (the form the Habsburg Empire took during its last half a century of existence) because of its dualistic character which excluded Slavs from political influence and from equality. Croatia, moreover, was divided by the Austro-Hungarians into Dalmatia and the rest of the country, against the wishes of the populations who wished to live in a unified Croatia. The South Slavic part of the Habsburg empire broke off all links with the empire in October 1918. Croatia, as the only legal state subject, together with the Slovene provinces, with Voivodina and with Bosnia and Herzegovina (where besides Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Muslims lived) formed the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (SHS), with a government in Zagreb called the National Council (29th October 1918). The Slovene Dr. Anton Korosec was elected president of the National Council, the Croat Dr. Ante Pavelic (not identical with the later head of the WW2 Croatian state) and the Serb Svetozar Pribicevic the vice-presidents. While the president Korosec was negotiating in Geneva with the representatives of the Serbian government (Nikola Pasic ) and the so-called Yugoslav Committee including predominantly Croats from coastal regions, the vice-president Pribicevic (without the knowledge of the president) and Momcilo Nincic , a minister from Belgrade, urged the Central Committee of the National Council in Zagreb to send a delegation to Belgrade immediately. The Centra1 Committee yielded to their insistence, but deprived the delegation of the authority to decide about the unification of the state of SHS and the Kingdom of Serbia without the decision of the whole National Council, or about the organization of the common state after the unification (republic or monarchy) without disclosing it in a common assembly which would prepare the constitution on the basis of the will of the qualified majority of two thirds of deputies (24th November 1918).

In Belgrade Dr. Pavelic was not permitted to read these instructions of the National Council, but only to greet the regent Alexander, who answered his toast to the "unified Yugoslavia" with the proclamation of the unified "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes", thus unilaterally prejudging the organisation of the common state (lst December 1918). Thereafter Pribicevic and Pavelic , without the knowledge of the president Korosec , without asking the National Council or the Croatian Parliament, ie. completely illegitimately, without any authority to do it, accepted the abolition of the sovereignty of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (3 December 1918). This state was acknowledged as sovereign by Serbia on December 8, solely in order to give an illusion of legality to the act of unification of Croatia and other South Slavic countries, dissociated from the Austro-Hungarian state, only to be combined with the Kingdom of Serbia immediately thereafter.

The documents of this unification were ratified only by the Serbian assembly, but never by any political body in Croatia or the State of SHS. The first victims fell on the streets of Zagreb during demonstrations on the 5th December 1918. The new regime took care to dissolve all Croatian armed forces and to occupy Croatia and other parts of the short-lived State of SHS by troops under Serbian command. This was the task of a Serbian military mission led by Colonel Milan Pribicevic , brother of Svetozar who became Minister of Internal Affairs. Soon, Ante Trumbic , head of the Yugoslav Committee and the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the new Kingdom, had to admit that a military hegemony of the Turkish type was imposed on Croatia against its will.

The deputies of the National Assembly were never elected. Their list was selected by the Belgrade government. On 28th November 1920 (Orthodox St. Vitus' Day), at the moment of the formation of the Constitutional Assembly, the regent Alexander permitted himself to dissolve the Croatian Parliament for the first time in its one thousand years history.

The candidates for the Constitutional Assembly had to take an oath of loyalty to the king (1920) before they could begin their work of deciding about the form of government of the future state (republic or monarchy). Moreover, the deputies from Croatia and Slovenia and the representatives of national minorities left the Assembly at the moment of voting for the constitution. Narrowly, 53.2% deputies voted positively for the constitution, among them not more than 10 Croats. The qualified majority was not thought of any more.

Thus unification looked like a coup in Croatia and other parts of the western state which was swallowed up by its eastern neighbour through a series of illegitimate procedures. This creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was finally sanctioned in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Trianon in 1919 and 1920.

The Period Between the Two World Wars

While the Croatian Parliament was suspended between 1920 and 1939, real political opposition to the regime was represented by the Croatian Peasant Party led by Stjepan Radic . He rejected any use of arms or violence in the fight for his national and social programme against Belgrade militarism and centralism. His heroes were Tolstoi and Gandhi, and the American or British papers of his time indeed called him the Gandhi of the Balkans. It was he who warned the National Council in a brilliant speech on 24th November 1918 against sending the delegation to Belgrade. His Croatian Peasant Party (CPP) gathered the support of large majority of the Croats and it became hard for the Greater-Serbian centralists to suppress this opposition and to exclude the party from any share of political power. Thus on 20th June 1928 the royal court and the Serbian government organized the assassination of the leaders of the CPP Stjepan Radic , Pavle Radic and Duro Basaricek (two other Croatian deputies were wounded) in the midst of the National Assembly in Belgrade.

Thereafter King Alexander introduced his personal dictatorship on 6 January 1929, assuming for the first time the name "Kingdom of Yugoslavia" for his state. Persecutions of Croats, abuses of the Serbian gendarmerie against Croatian peasants and the terror of Serbian militant groups called Chetniks against the unarmed Croat population produced many emigrants from Croatia, some of whom were ready to strike back with violence. The suppression of probably the most powerful non-violent pacifist movement in Europe between the two wars opened the door for the creation of the extremist Ustasha organisation under the leadership of another Ante Pavelic , who got support from Mussolini's Italy. The Croatian and Macedonian emigrants organized a successful attempt on Alexander's life in Marseille 1934.

Once more, however, the Croatian Peasant Party revived under the leadership of Vladko Macek , won the elections in 1939 and took part in the coalition government of Serbs and Croats under Cvetkovic and Macek . An autonomous Croatian Banate (banovina) was created and the Croatian Parliament reinstated.

The internal Serbian conflicts finally tore Yugoslavia to pieces and it capitulated to the Axis forces in April 1941 after ten days of war

The War Period

In Croatia, in the war period, two mutually exclusive states were created.

One state was created under the tutorship of the occupation forces where Ustashas and their head Ante Pavelic countered the Chetnik terrorists with terror of their own and applied nazi methods not only against Jews and the Gypsies, as the German authorities required, but equally against Serbs and Croat rebels who opposed the regime. Similar massacres were performed by the pro-nazi regime of Milan Nedic in Serbia, where the persecution of Jews was even more thorough. In Croatia, the violence and the racist nazi ideology was opposed by the Catholic church and the ardent sermons of Cardinal Stepinac in the Zagreb cathedral in defence of the rights of the Jews, Serbs and men of all races (the collection of sermons with their dates is preserved). The Serbian Orthodox Church unfortunately blessed the persecutions of the Jews, because the greater-Serbian ideology is traditionally in itself a racist ideology (cf. the eulogies to the "Dinarid" race in the works of the most famous Serbian anthropogeographer Jovan Cvijic ).

The other state arose out of the first rebellion in Europe against the nazi and fascist occupation led by the Croat rebels who formed the first partisan military unit on 22 June 1941 near Sisak (Croatia). This state had a government and a parliament called the State Antifascist Council of the National Liberation of Croatia (ZAVNOH), where most prominent roles were played by the great poet Vladimir Nazor and the democratically oriented communist leader Andrija Hebrang. This antifascist Croatian government usually controlled even a larger liberated territory during the war than the Antifascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia itself (AVNOJ) under the leadership of the Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, with whom it collaborated.

How difficult it was in those days to make an appropriate choice between two extremes without a moderate middle variant; between an existing Croatian state, but under the tutorship of the Axis forces, and a partisan resistance to the nazism and fascism from which another Croatian state was emerging; but most probably as a member of a future Yugoslav federation and under the control of the communists. This may be shown by the fate of the democratic leader of the CPP Vladko Macek who had to spend the war as a helpless passive spectator in internment.

It can be illustrated even more paradoxically by the fate of the three most prominent Croatian writers or poets of those times. Vladimir Nazor, a poet of national, patriotic and religious poems and works, did not take sides with the nationalist regime, as could be expected, but, as already mentioned, with the partisans. The famous writer of great novels about peasant life in which no trace of nationalism or even political engagement is to be found, Mile Budak, did not follow Vladko Macek and his CPP, but joined the Ustasha movement and even became minister of culture. Finally, Miroslav Krleza , a highly appreciated and very productive writer, poet and dramatist, but also the man who inspired almost the whole leftist and communist Croat and Yugoslav intellectual public with his revolutionary ideas, did not join communists or partisans; on the contrary, they threatened him for their sectarian reasons, and he had to stay inactive and silent in Zagreb during the year. How to judge the actors in the most paradoxical roles on the Croatian deeply divided stage in the World War II?

The above mentioned AVNOJ laid the foundations of the future second Yugoslavia at its session on 29 November 1943 in Jajce in Bosnia. There it was decided that Yugoslavia would not any more be a unitary but a federal state, where all nations and republics would be equal and would unite on the basis of their inalienable right to self-determination, since the first Yugoslavia failed to solve the national problem. Tito was elected head of the government (National Committee of the Liberation of Yugoslavia) and Marshal of the partisan army. At that session AVNOJ confirmed the decision of the Croatian ZAVNOH to include the Croatian coastal territories (Istria, Rijeka, Zadar, Croatian islands) snatched away by the fascist Italy from Pavelic 's Croatia, in the Republic of Croatia.

The war left great numbers of victims on all sides: in the fascist and Ustasha concentration camps, like the ill-famed Jasenovac, where many tens of thousands Jews, Gypsies, Serbs and Croats were executed, and in the pits and caves where Chetnik terrorists used to throw the massacred Croatian peasants from the villages they burnt and ravaged. Partisan resistance was not milder either, especially after the fall of fascist Italy when many Chetniks, who collaborated with the fascists terrorising the Croatian population, joined the partisans but continued in a less obvious manner following their bloody greater-Serbian ideology. Therefore, at the end of the war, some four hundred thousand soldiers (not only Ustashas, but largely domobrans, ie. involuntary recruits, too) and civilians fled from Croatia to the Austrian border out of fear of the greater-Serbian and communist terror. It was not without reason: when British forces disarmed and extradited them at Bleiburg to the partisan units persecuting them on the 15th May 1945, great numbers were killed at the spot and the majority of captives were sent on death marches to different concentration camps.

The Post War Period

After the war the Croatian Parliament formally continued the work of the ZAVNOH and of the previous Parliament of the Croatian Banate (banovina).

Although President Tito was a Croat, he was a convinced Yugoslav, like many Croat politicians before him. However, most assistants who surrounded him, like the Minister of the Interior (Federal Police Minister) Aleksandar Rankovic , feared all non-Serbian peoples in Yugoslavia, were Serbs and often followed the greater Serbian ideology more or less openly.

Thus Andrija Hebrang, who dared criticize the greater Serbian expansionism and changes of borders (eg. in Srijem), was arrested and killed in a jail in Belgrade in 1948. Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac was accused and sentenced as a "collaborator with the occupator during the war" to a long term in jail. Numerous Jews and Serbs who wanted to bear witness at the court that the cardinal helped in saving them and their families by using all his influence and authority to save human lives in those gloomy days, were rebuffed and even threatened by the public prosecutor Blazevic as "covert Ustashas".

The post-war persecutions and genocide against the Croats lasted in some areas for several years. Even the purges against the Stalinists at the moment of the break with Stalin and the Inform-bureau, were used to liquidate many Croats undesirable for quite different reasons.

The war history was officially stylized by the omnipotent Belgrade bureaucracy, which as a body partly survived all changes of regimes since the Kingdom of Serbia: the facts were turned upside-down. Although neither Ustashas nor Chetniks won the war, but the partisans where the Croats played a role second to none, the official version for domestic and international consumption stressed the participation of the Croats in Ustasha ranks on one hand and the participation of the Serbs in partisan ranks on the other hand, suggesting, contrary to facts and rational arguments, that the anti-fascist Serbs won the war against the fascist Croats. This victory of the Serbs over the Croats was not decided on the battlefield, but in the offices of the Belgrade bureaucracy, and by the redistribution of roles of fascist supporters.

The short period at the end of the 60s, the so-called "Croatian spring", was marked by the appearance of the first, still communist, leadership of the Party and the state in Croatia (Savka Dabcevic - Kucar , Mika Tripalo, Pero Pirker etc.), which offered resistance to the Belgrade exploitation of this Republic. They started introducing democracy and elements of market economy, thereby securing the spontaneous support of the people, but were rudely interrupted by an urgent session of the Yugoslav leadership on the nefarious date of the 1st December 1971 in Kara|or|evo in Voivodina (under the pressure of the army and possibly of the USSR). The decisions of that session inaugurated another wave of purges and imprisonment, another twenty years of economic exploitation of Croatia, of persecution of Croatian cultural institutions like the venerable Matica Hrvatska, of contesting even the existence of the Croatian literary or standard language etc. However, Tito succeeded in securing at least a formal confirmation of the rights of the peoples of Yugoslavia to self-determination and the rights of the six republics and the two autonomous provinces to their primary sovereignty from which derived the secondary sovereignty of Yugoslavia in the 1974 constitution of the SFR of Yugoslavia.

Therefore, after Tito's death that constitution became the first target for the attacks of the greater-Serbian academic and political circles, especially after the coup in the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Serbia at its famous "8th session" (1988), which brought Slobodan Milosevic to its top. It was followed by the putchist changes of province leaderships in Kosovo and Voivodina, the introduction of the state of emergency in Kosovo, the practical abolition of the autonomous status of provinces as constituents of the federation in the new constitution of Serbia (1990), and the launching of unofficial (terrorist groups) and official (army) military actions against Slovenia and especially Croatia, obviously flagging their intention of occupying encircled Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Democratic Change in Croatia in 1990 and 1991

Pressure from the greater-Serbian onslaught in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia brought about its splitting into republic parties. The Slovenian and Croatian communist parties then proclaimed their decision to permit the multi-party system of democracy in their republics, rightly judging that Serbian communists threatened their activities and even their personal freedom far more drastically than any national or anti-communist movements or parties in their republics. Thus the first free elections in this century were organized in Slovenia, Croatia and thereafter in other republics. The result was very symptomatic: the communist victory in Serbia and Montenegro and the communist defeat in all other republics proved whose interests the previous regime served and whom it exploited.

The following period was characterised by the efforts of the representatives of Serbia to stop democratic changes in Croatia and other republics by force. A tremendous propaganda campaign of hate against anything Croatian or Catholic was launched, but also against the Slovenes, Albanians and others. This was followed by the formation of a zone of "rebellion" around Knin which was gradually widened, by the insistence of the previous president of the Yugoslav Presidency Borislav Jovic on introducing a state of emergency in Yugoslavia and authorising the army to abolish the democratic gains of the other republics. Then there was the appearance of an unconstitutional "Main Staff of the Supreme Command", of unknown membership which started openly backing the propositions of Jovic and imposing ultimatums against the will of the representatives of the non-Serbian republics (which was the real beginning of the military coup in Yugoslavia). Then blocking the confirmation of the Croatian representative Stipe Mesic , as incumbent of the Presidency. Finally, military action in supplying an abundance of arms to Serbian terrorists in Croatia, in order to cause great damage in Croatia and to overthrow any rebellious democratic authorities in the republic on the one hand and to direct the military actions of the Yugoslav army against Croatia and its citizens, its villages and towns on the other.

The next move was the grotesque attempt of the representatives of Serbia and Montenegro in the ex-Yugoslav Presidency (who are illegitimate because Serbia was over-represented and the representative of Kosovo was never elected in Kosovo) to usurp the authority of the Presidency and thus to provide the Army with the Supreme Command, which as such already tried to reject the validity of General Kadijevic 's obligations assumed in The Hague on 10 October 1991 concerning the withdrawal of the Army from Croatia.

Croatia reacted with a series of democratic changes with the intention of defending itself against the growing threats from Serbia. First came the great electoral victory of the Croatian Democratic Union with Dr Franjo Tu|man at its head, and the success of other opposition parties in May; next, the proclamation of the new constitution of the Republic of Croatia in December 1990. Then the almost unanimous choice (over 94%) of the citizens of Croatia at the referendum in May 1991 to live in a sovereign state of Croatia. This was followed by proclamation of sovereignty and independence on 30 June - after all institutions of Yugoslavia failed or stopped working. And finally, on 8 October 1991, the acknowledgment of the expiry of the moratorium imposed on the decisions of Croatian and Slovenian parliaments by the European Community.

It may be legally noteworthy that independent Croatia is not quite a "new European state". It is heir to the Republic of Croatia of the Yugoslav period and all Yugoslav international relations, rights and obligations concerning Croatia. It inherits thereby the ZAVNOH Croatia of the war period, the Croatian Banate (banovina) of the pre-war period and the millenary state of Croatia from previous periods. At the same time, if it inherits the ZAVNOH Croatia, it cannot inherit any legal rights or obligations of the Pavelic 's Croatia (they were mutually exclusive), which is obvious from the territory it occupies and claims, from the personal composition of its leadership (which includes several members of anti-fascist resistance from the war period, like President Tu|man himself), and from the new constitution of Croatia.

The War Since 1991

At the moment of the proclamation of sovereignty and independence by the parliaments of Croatia and Slovenia, and of the Yugoslav army attack in Slovenia, the European Community started assuming a more active role in Yugoslav affairs: the delegation of the three foreign ministers from the EC came to Brioni (Croatia) and tried to stop the war. However, continued talks about some future Yugoslavia and reluctance to acknowledge the sovereignty of Croatia and Slovenia contributed far more to inflame the war than to stop it. It encouraged the aggressor against Croatia and fed his hope of attaining his goals of a Greater Serbia or a centralised Yugoslavia. It failed to deprive the aggression of the prospect of success and thus encouraged it. Such a misreading of the situation caused thousands of deaths during the moratorium, several times more wounded, some three hundred thousand refugees from the ravaged regions of Croatia, dozens of burnt villages, more than a dozen bombed and devastated cities, more than two hundred damaged cultural and historical monuments in that first period of war, a number of them of the highest category, immense losses in industrial plant and economic potential, large areas of burnt forests, damaged national parks and great damage to the natural environment. The war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed by the Army and the terrorists armed by it on the soil of the ravaged Croatia called in vain for the most urgent action on the part of the democratic world.

The actions of the international community, however, were far from efficient. The EC sent its monitors, the UNO sent peacekeeping forces, but there was no military intervention to help the victims of the war. The war spread, as could easily be foreseen, to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has taken hundreds of thousands of lives since. The international community restricted itself to sending humanitarian help, rather like feeding cattle soon to be slaughtered. The only measure gradually introduced against the aggressor is an international embargo that indeed aggravates the economic situation in Serbia, which is difficult, however, first of all due to the costs of the war investments into the future Great Serbia.

In the meantime, waves of recognition of Croatia and Slovenia took place after 15 January 1992, first by the Baltic states and Iceland, then the Vatican, Sweden and members of the European Community, and thereafter by many other countries, Australia being among the first outside Europe. In May 1992 Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were recognized by the U.S.A. and soon thereafter became members of the United Nations.

In this moment Croatia has to solve the problem of its occupied territories. Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is even harder to reach, as progressive military operations distance the reality more and more from any possible just solution. Serbian military force has changed the direction of the Muslim military actions: they do not attempt any more to defend their eastern borders from the Serbian invasion, but try to find some compensation by moving westwards towards Croatian regions, especially in central Bosnia, and in occupying them.

Great numbers of Bosnian refugees, especially Muslims and Croats, are still pouring into Croatia and are given shelter and food here. Smaller numbers of them are later transported to other countries willing to accept them and help them.

Croatia tries to recover even in these war times, to save its economy, to develop culture and science, to create a democratic society and a state of law. It applied for membership in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and asks for the participation in a number of international programmes, like the PHARE-programme, to be able to achieve those goals. Sometimes it is not met with understanding, but with difficulties and prejudices. Some of them have roots in the deformed image of Croatia created by the ex-Yugoslav and the actual Serbian propaganda. Therefore, we hope that the better knowledge and clearer ideas about its past might help to the present and future in Croatia and in the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Selected Works on the Recent History of Croatia -
University of Zagreb
Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia, Ithaca-London 1984; transl. into Croatian: Nacionalno pitanje u Jugoslaviji, Zagreb, 1988

Rudolf Bicanic , Ekonomska podloga hrvatskoga pitanja, Zagreb 1938

Dusan Bilandzic , Historija SFRJ, 2nd ed.

Dusan Bilandzic , Ideje i praksa drustvenog razvoja Jugoslavije 1945-1973, Beograd 1973

Ljubo Boban, Kontroverze iz povijesti Jugoslavije, I-III, Zagreb 1987 and 1989- 1990

Ljubo Boban, Hrvatske granice 1918-1993, Zagreb, 3rd ed. 1993

Croatia between War and Independence, ed. B. C ovic , Zagreb 1991

Eduard C alic , Europska trilogija: Smrtni udar Europi, Anatomija Versaillesa, Propast treceg Reicha, NZMH, Zagreb 1993.

Dokumenti o postanku Kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca 1914 - 1919, sabrao ih Ferdo Sisic , Zagreb 1920

Christophe Dolbeau, Le panserbisme cancer yougoslave, Zagreb 1992

Historija naroda Jugoslavije, I-ll, Zagreb 1953 and 1959

Veceslav Holjevac, Hrvati izvan domovine, Zagreb, 2nd ed. 1968

Istorija Jugoslavije (I. Bo zic , S. ]irkovic , M. Ekmecic , V. Dedijer), Beograd 1972

Izvori velikosrpske agresije, ed. B. C ovic , Zagreb 1991

Slavko Jezic , Hrvatska knjizevnost od pocetka do danas (1100-1941), Zagreb 1944

Anto Knezevic , An Analysis of Serbian Propaganda, Zagreb 1992

Miroslav Krleza , Deset krvavih godina I drugi politicki eseji, Zagreb 1970

Zvonimir Kulundzic , Atentat na Stjepana Radica, Zagreb 1967

Michael McAdams, Croatia Myth and Reality, Arcadia, California 1992

Trpimir Macan, Povijest hrvatskoga naroda, 2nd ed. Zagreb 1992

Trpimir Macan - Josip S entija, A Short History of Croatia, Zagreb 1992

Dominikus Mandic , Hrvati i Srbi dva stara razlicita naroda.

Hrvatska revija, Munchen- Barcelona 1971: Kroaten und Serben - zwei alte vershiedene Volker, Ubersetzung and Einleitung von Josef Hauk, Heiligenhof -Bad Kissengen 1989

Ivan Muzic , Stjepan Radic u Kraljevini Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, 3rd ed. Zagreb 1988

Nasa domovina, zbornik (sv.1: Hrvatska zemlja - Hrvatski narod

Hrvatska poviest - Hrvatska znanost: sv. 2: Hrvatska kultura - Politicka poviest Hrvata), Zagreb 1943

George Prpic , The South Slavs, repr. from The Immigrants Influence on Wilson's Peace Policies, Univ. of Kentucky Press 1967

Ivan Supek, Krivovjernik na Ijevici, Bristol, 1980.

Johann Georg Reissmuller, Der Krieg vor unserer Haustur, Stuttgart 1992

L. v. Sudland (Two Pilar), Die sudslawische Frage und der Weltkrieg, Wien 1918

Franjo Tudman , Velike ideje i mali narodi, Zagreb 1969

Franjo Tudman , Hrvatska u monarhistickoj Jugoslaviji, I-ll, Zagreb 1993.