Pogledaj Full Version : Ustashe - the Križari (Crusaders) and the Operation "Gvardijan"

Željko Zidarić
18th-May-2012, 04:59 AM
by Klemen and Allen Milcic

Most people know that WWII ended in Mary 1945. However, in most countries that came under communist control, parts of society refused to succumb to the new government. One example of this is Croatia where there were even attempts to stage rebellions from abroad against Communists. This is an article on those Ustashe, the Krizari (Crusaders in English).

The Krizari

The Croatian Krizari/Crusaders were an organization of anti-Communist Croats (mostly former Ustase, some former Domobran), that stayed behind in the hills and forests of Croatia (mainly in Northern Bosnia) after the withdrawal of the Croatian (NDH) Armed Forces into Austria, in May of 1945. The Crusaders were not numerous, they were poorly organized, and not particularly well armed. There was no central command and control, poor or no contact between the various groups, no worked out plan for a continued guerrilla war against Communist forces, and no plan or way to start a general rebellion in Croatia against Communist rule.

Working in almost total isolation, with little or no external support, and without the possibility of garnering any serious internal support, the Crusader groups were easy prey for the ruthless UDBA (Unutrasnja Drzavna Bezbednost / Interior State Security - the Yugoslav Communist secret police). Most groups were destroyed or penetrated by UDBA agents within the first months after WWII. At the same time, the UDBA was able to send false information to the Ustasa elements outside Yugoslavia about a brewing rebellion, setting them up for a gigantic trap (see "Operation Gvardijan" below). By the end of 1948, any kind of even minimal resistance by the Crusaders was eliminated.

Operation "Gvardijan"

By the beginning of 1947, elements of anti-Communist Croats, mostly former Ustase officers or high ranking Domobrans during the NDH years, managed to get themselves organized well enough to consider an attempt at armed resistance within Communist controlled Croatia. Most of them knew that armed groups of "Krizari" (Crusaders) had been haphazardly organized in the last days of the NDH, but there was no direct contact between the émigré Croats and the units left behind to offer resistance to the Communists.

However, second hand reports coming in seemed to indicate that an armed insurrection by Croatia against the Communists was brewing, and that the "Krizari" were fighting hard and well. The so-called "Croatian National Committee" had been formed in 1946 at the initiative of former Ustase Bozidar Kavran and Lovro Susic, in order to facilitate aid to anti-Communist rebels in Croatia.

In late 1947, based on the reports coming from Croatia, the "Committee" received orders to send into Croatia a group of trained men equipped with radios, in order to establish contact with the Krizari, and in turn organize communications between the rebels in country and the political/military leadership abroad. Unfortunately for the "Committee", the "rebellion" in the country was completely false intelligence, and the presumption that there were massive anti-Communist forces just waiting to go in action against Communist rule in Croatia was a falsehood perpetrated by the Yugoslav UDBA counter-intelligence (this particular operation by the UDBA was headed by Ivan Krajacic, a Croatian Communist and Partisan officer during WW2).

The goal of the Communist operation was to lure high-ranking anti-Communists into Yugoslavia, under the premise that a rebellion was about to start in Croatia, and that experienced commanders were needed to take these anti-Communist forces into combat. Completely falling for the communist deception, the "Croatian National Committee" dispatched former Ustase Bojnik (Major) Ljubo Milos (ex-second in command of the Jasenovac concentration camp, and former commander of the Lepoglava prison; cousin of the powerful Ustase Colonel Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburic), former Ustase Bojnik (Major) Ante Vrban, and former Ustase Rojnik (Corporal) Luka Grgic into Croatia.

They were equipped with a powerful radio and a code book, and had orders to make contact with a "Krizari" group on the Papuk Mountain (near Slavonska Pozega, Croatia). Upon successful contact with the "Krizari", the group was to advise the "Committee", and an armed group of high-ranking and experienced Ustase would enter Yugoslavia and take over command of the upcomming uprising in Croatia.

Milos' group successfully entered Yugoslavia through Hungary, and made its way to Papuk. However, the "Krizari" - that they met up with in July 1947 - were in fact UDBA agents in disguise, who had walked the forested plateau for days to meet up with the group. Milos and Vrban were arrested, while Grgic was killed while offering resistance. Using the code-book found on Milos, the UDB after 13 attempts made contact with the "Committee", and lured several more of the command groups of Ustase into Yugoslavia. By the end of August 1948, when "Operation Gvardijan" came to an end, a total of 96 Croatian anti-communists had been arrested. Some of the groups even came before the agreed time, but were captured nevertheless.

Among the captured Croats was Bozidar Kavran, founder of the Croatian National Committee. All the captured men were held in the old jail in Savska Ulica Street in Zagreb, which was soon overcrowded with exile Croats. They could be broken down as follows:

- 36 Ustasha officers
- 28 Ustasha Junior officers
- 13 Ustasha without any rank
- 12 former members of the Ustasha Civil Police
- 1 former member of the Gestapo
- 1 former Cetnik intelligence officer

About 7 arrested Ustasha were ex-commanders or in other duties in the concentration camps Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, and about six of them were known as war criminals.

In the trial held in 1948 in Zagreb

- 43 were sentenced to death, 20 by hanging (Ljubo Milos, Ante Vrban, Bozidar Kavran, Mime Rosandic and others) and 23 by shooting.
- 2 were sentenced to lifelong prison
- 9 were sentenced to between 15 and 20 years in prison.


Note: We at the Ustasa web site, decided to correct some obvious errors in this very
informative article. For example, the authors for inexplicable reasons call ustase (the Croat Krizari) - partisans. (!!!). Also, the authors Klemen and Allen Milcic use the adjective "notorious" to describe the ustase colonel Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburic. Since Mr. Luburic had never been tried for his "crimes" and anyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, the adjectiv "notorious" reveals authors' bias.