Pogledaj Full Version : Seven Questions and the Truth about the NDH

Željko Zidarić
12th-June-2012, 05:49 PM
by Suzanne Brooks-Pincevic

Croatian historian, Dr Josip Jurcevic, specialist in WWII “Bleiburg” history, and guest on the Hrvati-Amac website in October 2005, avoided answering seven “Bleiburg” questions. A month before, viewers to the site were invited to submit questions for Dr Jurcevic to answer. By the end of September there were some 50 questions submitted by about 16 people. Amongst whom the writer was one. The writer’s six questions arrived about mid-way in the list, and because the writer’s questions were in English, most were translated at the end of the month into Croatian – not once, but twice, and so the writer’s questions appeared four times – twice in English and twice in Croatian.

Dr Jurcevic arrived on the website on 2nd October 2005 to answer the questions. He did not commence at the beginning, but instead answered the questions that came immediately after those of the writer. He answered all the questions to the end of the list. The following day he returned to the site and answered the rest of the questions that had preceded those of the writer, except for one. So, that one question, and the writer’s six, remained unanswered. A member of the site asked why Dr Jurcevic had omitted to answer the seven remaining questions? He was told that Dr Jurcevic intended to answer all of them and would return. That was three months ago. To the writer’s knowledge Dr Jurcevic has since been reminded twice. Yet the questions still remain unanswered.

What is now more than obvious, is that Dr Jurcevic has deliberately avoided these seven questions. And not only is this rude but also his conduct is most unprofessional – given that any creditable historian welcomes a challenge, and the opportunity to discuss his theories. One is therefore compelled to ask WHY Dr Jurcevic has chosen not to answer the writer’s questions?

It cannot be because he has no time – a more than sufficient period has elapsed. It cannot be because he is unable to read the questions – they were translated twice.It cannot be because he did not notice them – they appeared four times.It cannot be because he does not know the answers – he has a doctorate in this history. Let us then have a look at those six questions, and as to why Jurcevic has found them a problem to answer:

1) How big numerically were the NDH Armed Forces and exactly how many divisions made up the domobrans and the ustasa?

A simple question any thorough researcher of this history would know. It was the simplest, but the MOST important, of all the 50 questions asked of Jurcevic, because the answer to THIS question opens the door to the REASON for the murder of over half-a-million patriotic Croats; whose fight was mainly an internal war against Serb and/or communist tyranny in their OWN land – NOT the world war being fought in the other countries around them. The NDH Armed Forces were a lot bigger and more efficient than the current government wants you to believe.

This was why they were a threat to establishing another Yugoslavia and the reason why so many were slaughtered. When the REASON for their death, and what they fought for, is ignored, how can respect be given? It cannot be given and it is NOT given. When this question is answered truthfully, it reveals that there were hundreds of thousands of Croats in the NDH who believed a free Croatia was worth fighting for – and THAT gives the Domobrans, the Ustasa, and the NDH regime the RESPECT they deserve. A truthful answer to this question shows WHY the communists massacred half-a-million people – it was so that communist Yugoslavia could exist. This question was necessary, because noticeably almost all detail about the NDH has been avoided in the many books written recently by Jurcevic and his colleagues. Therefore there can be no doubt that these deliberate omissions adhere to a well-known newspaper adage – “what is not recorded did not happen”.

The truthful answer to this question would be: In all 19 divisions: Domobrans approximately 100,400 (43%). In all 19 divisions: Ustasas approximately 132,900 (57%). In total approx.233,300 (100%).To this needs to be added the various infantry divisions still training in Germany just before the end of the war (eg: 369th Devils division, 373rd Tiger division, 392nd Blue division), plus the assisting branches MINORSA which included medical, educational and financial personnel, plus there was the Airforce, Navy and Rangers. Adding many more to the number – in fact well over 300,000 personnel at the END of the war. BUT – of course, this large number goes against the current HDZ Government policy of minimizing the numbers who were in the NDH. The government wants us to believe there were only a few thousand, not hundreds of thousands, they want us to believe that the NDH was a non-entity, a non-state, that it virtually did not exist. They refuse to recognize their absolute determination – that went beyond massive odds – NOT to give in to Serb or Communist domination, that they were NOT fascists, that they were totally focused ONLY in fighting for an independent Croatian state. So what does that mean?

It means the government can continue to fool the world into believing the NDH victims were “fascists” killed by “a few revengeful liberators” and with these lies the mass murderers continue to escape justice and “democratic” commos stay in power (for life!) This is the ultimate REASON their huge sacrifice is not acknowledged.

Croatia’s neo-communist government is supported in this subterfuge by manipulative foreign powers who are happy to use this blackmail over the Croatian public, in order to continue a century of control over the Croatian state to further their own interests. It is true that people employed by the current government have erected a monument; they have written books about the terrible tragedy to their people; they made a special occasion for commemoration. But all of this is a big HYPOCRISY by which they are trying to win your trust and support. It cunningly camouflages the fact that NOWHERE have they given any credit to the NDH, nor any credit to those who died fighting for a free Croatia. All they have actually given them is PITY. And pity is an insult to the Croatian Armed Forces and their families, particularly when given by today’s UDBA and the descendents of the communists who murdered them.

Jurcevic’s book “Bleiburg” is a good example of the how the NDH, and the REASON for the deaths of its patriots, have been ignored. In November a review was done of the book in Australia and the reviewer states that: “the [book] title is misleading because it is more about the rise to power of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) during WWII, than about “Bleiburg”…the book gives a very detailed description of the formation and implementation of CPY police apparatus (later called UDBA).” The reviewer records that: “the Ustashi movement is not mentioned much at all except from the point of view that it was the other party in this conflict. There was nothing new in the book on the [British] conspiracy and there was no new information on Bleiburg and the Death Marches than we already know”.

Careful scrutiny of this, and other recent “Bleiburg” publications that have come from the same HDZ Government-sponsored sources (another is “Bleiburg Memento” by Jurcevic’s colleague Bozo Vukusic), reveal that firstly, huge tracts of information about the NDH are missing, and secondly, behind the words and photos (carefully chosen to please the unsuspecting majority of Croatian readers), there is a meticulously contrived vein of dis-information running through the books, which undermines the NDH and the Croatian Armed Forces – inferring that they were stupid, mis-guided followers of a small group of brutal idealists. Hence they are given PITY – not respect. At the same time the Communist Party are shown as intelligent victors in successfully obtaining Yugoslavia. Though some criticism is made against the partisans for brutal acts against the Croatian Armed Forces and innocent victims, this is shown as being done by so-called “elite” troops out of so-called “revenge by the liberators” for what was supposed to have been done to the partisans.

A lot of undeserved credit is given to the partisans and a big excuse for the cold-blooded murders they committed. The NDH is being eradicated from history and its diminished followers recognized only with pity. This is the true agenda of these books. Jurcevic would have to know by now the truth about the numbers of the NDH military. But the truthful answer is contrary to government policy and the government pays his salary – and so presumably, for that reason, it was prudent for him not to answer the question. If he were truthful he would have gone against government policy, if he lied he would eventually be exposed – or made to appear a fool.

2) Prof. Michael McAdams has given considerable credit to John Ivan Prcela for his book "Operation Slaughterhouse" which he considers is “a definitive work on the Bleiburg Tragedy” and he also gave Prcela credit for organizing the first scientific symposium on the Bleiburg Tragedy in 1973. And yet in your book "Cuvari Bleiburske Uspomene” you omit giving credit to Prcela, as the principal speaker and organizer of that symposium in 1973.

3) Furthermore you have been quoted as saying that Prcela, Guldescu and their contemporaries are not appropriate and accurate sources for Croatian history. You are also quoted as saying the same thing about Prcela’s book, "Hrvatski Holokaust I" (of which you were the resencent). What have Prcela and his contemporaries written to warrant your disapproval as being inaccurate and/or inappropriate? Please give at least three examples.

In commenting on the above two questions I would advise that John Prcela received arguments from Drs Jurcevic and Zivic (from the Ivo Pilar Institute) to alter sections of his book to conform to their ideas of that history, but he consistently refused to do so. He told them “he is against watering-down his knowledge and total life’s work about the biggest tragedy in Croatia’s history”. John Prcela – and his contemporaries – wrote openly about the NDH and the Ustasa. They wrote the truth about their aspirations for an independent Croatia. It is for that reason Prcela and his contemporaries have been ignored. Not because they were “inappropriate or inaccurate sources for Croatian history” – after all, from whom, and when did Jurcevic and his colleague Dr Zivic get most of their non-communist-based information? It was when they assisted Prcela to print his book Hrvatski Holokaust and his many records came into their possession.

4) You have been recorded as saying that "what is acceptable for the American and international book readers [with regard to "Bleiburg] "is not acceptable for the Croatian public". What exactly do you mean by that - are you saying that Croatians cannot handle the truth?

A lot of the truth is now surfacing in Croatia, notably without causing any undue concern amongst the people. In keeping with the government’s policy to obliterate any reference about the NDH, this remark would seem to have been used as an excuse to prevent the spread of books in Croatia that reveal the truth of what happened in the region of Yugoslavia during and after WWII, particularly with the NDH.

5) In your book "Cuvari Bleiburske Uspomene" you claim a smaller portion of the Croatian exodus crossed the border into Austria and that the partisans stopped the much larger portion before they crossed the Austrian border. This is contrary to statements held in the British military archives. Therefore, from where did you get this information which refutes the British recordings made at that time by their military personnel in the area and substantiated by air reconnaissance?

This would appear to be another attempt to portray the partisans as an efficient and powerful combat force. When in fact they were the opposite. A general impression recorded at the time by various British officers was that they regarded Tito’s troops as “a murderous, thieving rabble - with minimal fighting potential”. They were no match for the Croatian Armed Forces and could not possibly have prevented the huge mass of refugees, who were being escorted by the Croatian Army in combat mode, from crossing the Austrian border. Both British records and eyewitness accounts support this fact. The partisans only gained the upper hand when the British confiscated all the weapons from the Croatian soldiers and left them defenceless.

6) As we know, Vladko Macek projected himself as a leader of the Croatian people. But just prior to WWII he not only sold out to Belgrade, but during the war he also chose to sit on the fence, with his hands in the air, and left his many followers floundering without any positive leadership. Therefore what did Macek do, or attempt to do, that was for the good of Croatia during the period of WWII and the days leading up to it, that he deserves the considerable credit you give him in your book "Bleiburg"?

Pavelic failed to achieve his final goal, but at least he tried. He did not fail because he was on the losing side, but because the Allies had their own plans for Croatia, cemented by the Versailles pact long before WWII, and had absolutely no intention of accommodating Croatian sovereignty. Despite all these odds stacked against him, Pavelic did his best in difficult times. He took the opportunity presented, constrained though it was, to wrench his people out of the grip of slavitude. There was no one else who even came close to making a positive effort for the freedom of Croatia. Macek, who the majority of people looked up to, sold out to an enemy who openly professed that its ultimate aim was to take all of Croatia for itself. He was nothing less than a traitor. When the time came to show some courage and leadership he failed to perform. He sat out the war safely tucked away, and when given a chance at the end of the war to negotiate for an independent Croatia on behalf of his people he failed once again to take the initiative. Though it is highly unlikely he would have even remotely succeeded, what is more to the point, is that he did not even try, but opted again for “Yugoslavia!” The 7th unanswered question was asked by Damir Borovcak, author of “Hello Toronto – Ovdje Zagreb” and former editor of Focus. This was his question [translated into English by the writer]:

7) Postovani g. dr. Jurcevic, I would like to know how much the Croatian government needs you ?You are acknowleged as an authority, and have a doctorate, in the subject of crimes committed against Croatians after WWII, and you also work professionally on the issues of the Domovinski Rat. Please tell me truthfully: Did anyone contact you from the current Croatian Government, or from the President's office, about the historical facts regarding the genocide of Croatians published in documents or articles, or have you ever been engaged on that theme for your professional opinion, or for the gathering of historical facts for the purpose of showing the truth to the world of the historical oppression of Croatians ?Zahvaljujem, D.Borovcak.

As with the other six questions, it would appear that Dr Josip Jurcevic was also unable to answer this question without compromising himself. His inability to answer these seven questions indicates that he is not being upfront, and suggests that he, and his colleagues, have a programme that is different to the one they are showing to the Croatian public. His actions are made more questionable by his close association with Bozo Vukusic, who has a dubious record of UDBA connections, and a life-sentence for murder in a German prison that he was inexplicably able to walk free from – just before the Domovinski Rat – oddly, into a government position of studying Croatian victims of WWII. The fact that these two are now involving ministers of the Catholic Church, in the distribution and circulation of their contrived books is most disturbing.

The Church needs to be aware of the duplicity of the conduct of dubious government employees who are benefitting from achieving their destructive agenda through the auspices of the Catholic Church. Disastrous Consequences from "Bleiburg" DIS-information All the above confirms the statements made in my article "Hypocrisy – or What?" which was published just prior to the 60th Bleiburg Commemoration in the Spremnost 19 April 2005, and other newspapers, as well as the Hrvati-Amac website (in English and later Croatian). In this article the writer drew attention to the manner in which the current HDZ Government historians, and untrustworthy government operatives, have infiltrated "Bleiburg" organizations and are manipulating the "Bleiburg" history for their own devious purposes by providing a monument and a (strategically ill-planned) day of recognition – but most importantly by creating books that appear to the unsuspecting reader to be good publications, when in fact they cleverly pave the way for the eventual destruction of the truth of the ”Bleiburg" history.

This is all being done in the Croatian language, right under your noses, by a government who has on numerous occasions shown its true colours about NOT recognizing the NDH, or any Croatian leaders of that time. They now dominate the honouring and recording of this vital history, and are making fools of the Croatian immigrants by manipulating "Bleiburg" – the immigrants' greatest symbol of sacrifice in their struggle for a free nation – to their own advantage. How long will it take to rout so many traitors from Croatia's midst? How long before Croats have the gumption to stand up to their bullies – local and foreign - and demand respect?

Why is it so difficult to tell the world they did not invade any other country in WWII; that Croatia fought in self-defence, against Serb and Communist tyranny, for its independent state? So simple. Yet so hard to overcome the huge ignorance and bizarre apathy amongst the people. It would be extremely naive to say that this old "Bleiburg" history has nothing to do with today's politics. The bad propaganda arising from it is used extensively in accusations coming from The Hague, and by Serb extremists (and the Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic ! ) who exploit it to their advantage with absurd and illogical fabrications about ”Jasenovac" and ”Krajina". But more than that, it provides Croatia's enemies with a moralistic weapon demanding atonement, which impinges on all aspects of Croatia's aspirations today in Europe.

Overtones from this incorrect propaganda are laced into the EU's crippling criteria for Croatia's compliance to gain entry to the EU – a criteria that would shackle Croatia again to powerful overlords to profit from. Crippling debts and the Banks all in foreign hands, are an early indication of such exploitation by European powers, through the manipulation of weak and selfish Croatian Government Ministers.

This is why the truth about Bleiburg and the NDH is SO vitally important for Croatians to accept and broadcast to the world if they want to keep their country from being blackmailed by its enemies with erroneous anti-Croat WWII propaganda. It is this propaganda that forms the base of all their accusations (The Hague, Jasenovac, Krajina). They are trying very hard, and unfortunately they are slowly but surely succeeding, in making another Pavelic out of Tudjman, another Luburic out of Gotovina and an NDH out of the new Croatian state by saying it too was not legitimate. The Croatian population today blissfully go about their business, enjoying booming tourism and swanky new markets full of foreign goods, ignorant of the fact that in truth they are a nation at war, wherein the weapons are not bullets but propaganda and economics. Why are their enemies doing this? What do they want? Croatia of course – the best Real Estate In Europe.

Željko Zidarić
14th-June-2012, 12:19 AM

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

Myth: All Croatians were Fascists during World War II.
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: 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."

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 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.


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:


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.