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Ante Pavelic
document count: 49
b. July 14, 1889, Bradina, Bosnia
d. December 28, 1959, Madrid, Spain
aka: poglavnik ("leader" or fuerher), Anton Pavelitch, Ante Pavelitch, Pedro Gonner

Poglavnik ("leader"; in German, "fuehrer") of the Independent State of Croatia, founder of the Ustase movement and mastermind of the Holocaust in Croatia in which an estimated 600,000 to 1 million Serbs, Jews, Roma and political prisoners perished between 1941 and 1945.

Leader of the extreme right, or "Frankist" faction of Croat Party of Rights after World War I. Following the assassination of Croat Peasant Party leader Stjepan Radic and the imposition of the Royal Dictatorship in Yugoslavia on January 6, 1929, Pavelic went abroad, first to Austria and then to Italy, where the nascent Ustase were provided training camps and afforded protection from the Fascist Italian government. Following the Nazi invasion and dismemberment of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, proclaimed poglavnik of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH by its Serbo-Croat acronym), but only after Radic's successor, Vladko Macek, declined to lead the puppet state himself. Immediately implemented the Ustase plan for the "purification" of the NDH using the formula coined by his deputy Mile Budak: "kill a third, expel a third, and convert a third" of the Serbian population to Catholicism. Concentration camps such as Jasenovac were established as the Ustase "Black Legion" swept through Serbian villages and arrested Jews and Roma wherever they could be found.

After the collapse of the NDH, Pavelic escaped to Austria and then to Italy, where he linked up with Vatican operatives of the "Ratline," dedicated to shielding accused war criminals from arrest and shuttling them out of Europe. Escaped to Argentina with the help of Catholic priest, Ustase officer and Ratline operative Krunoslav Draganovic. Immediately upon arrival in Buenos Aires, formed a successor movement to the Ustase with other NDH fugitives and accused war criminals, and later the Croatian Liberation Movement, which still exists today as a miniscule political party in Zagreb. Acted as security advisor to Argentine dictator Juan Peron. After an attempt on his life on April 9, 1957, fled to Franco's Spain where he died on December 28, 1959. The Ustase and several splinter organizations of the one he founded would live on, enjoying a renaissance of terrorism in the 1960s and '70s.

Arrival in Argentina

FIFTY-FOUR YEARS AGO, THE poglavnik, or fuehrer of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia, Ante Pavelic, arrived in Buenos Aires, into the welcoming arms of the Peronistas and a large contingent of his former underlings. Though he was a wanted man for war crimes and atrocities carried out on his orders in the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatske, or NDH), Pavelic had eluded arrest for more than three years with the assistance of a network of Catholic priests dedicated to preserving the remnants of Hitler's New Order, with the approval and often collaboration of the British and American authorities. [1.]

Pavelic was one of the last but most important leaders of the NDH to arrive in a country which was already achieving notoriety as a safe-haven for Nazi fugitives. Other Ustase officials had escaped to Spain and Portugal; more would travel onward to democratic countries such as Sweden, Norway, Australia, Canada and the United States. They brought with them the kernels of a new movement and the tacit blessing of several Allied intelligence agencies who saw the blood-covered Ustase as useful tools in the coming war against Communism. [2.]

The ideological base of the Ustase exiles was unchanged from what it had been before the war: virulent anti-Semitism surpassed only by their anti-Serbianism, and the celebration of a personality cult dedicated to Pavelic and a select group of "martyrs," which no living Croat could penetrate. Though the rhetoric of the more loquacious Ustase spokesman would give the movement a varnish of democratic and pro-Western appeal, a quick perusal of any of the literature or statements they later produced indicates that the Ustase movement in exile retained it's neo-fascistic core, lacking the dullest gleam of self-examination or repentance. [3.]

Unlike many other exile movements which formed as the Iron Curtain descended across Eastern Europe, the NDH fugitives could look within the Ustase's own history for a model of organization and tactics as an exile movement. The Ustase had been an exile movement before the war, operating training camps for assassins and terrorists to be unleashed on the Royal Yugoslav government under the House of Karadjordjevic. Indeed, as their catastrophic recklessness and mismanagement of the NDH illustrates, Pavelic and the Ustase were far better suited plotting and conspiring on the fringe of the political landscape than coping with the day-to-day banalities of statecraft. The return to their roots as an exiled terrorist organization was a natural succession, and a comparatively easy one as nearly all of the political organizers and ideologists of the movement had by hook or crook evaded arrest when Hitler's European satellites collapsed with the Third Reich.

The Ustase would make this transition rather successfully, enjoying a greater longevity than almost any other ethnic-based movement in Europe and the West [4.], and becoming one of the most persistent extremist groups of its kind. Founded as a terrorist organization by Ante Pavelic in Vienna after he went into exile in 1929, the Ustase had been placed atop a Croatian puppet state of the Axis Powers in April, 1941 thanks to Pavelic's long-standing contacts with Benito Mussolini. The party then consisted of, at most, a few hundred disaffected Croats, "representing the lunatic fringe of Balkan life" according to one post-war investigator [5.] The movement mushroomed in the ferment of wartime hysteria and atrocity, growing to include several thousand Croats and Bosnian Muslims [6.]. By war's end, many lukewarm members of the Ustase had deserted, but thousands of other Croats joined in a greater exodus from Yugoslavia in fear of Communist persecution. It was this field of new arrivals that Pavelic exploited above all, drawing on their poverty and bitterness to refurbish the ranks of his reborn Ustase, and carry the movement through three successive generations.

Three years before Ante Pavelic landed in Argentina, the Ustase were already in the process of shedding their skin as bureaucrats and ministers and reorganizing along their former lines [7.]. Most of the Ustase die-hards had fled as part of a large column which crossed the Austrian border at Bleiburg. British authorities in the area first interned them, then turned most - but not all - of the column back into Yugoslavia. Scores died at the hands of the Communists on forced marches and the like, with expectedly harsher sentences meted out to members of the Ustase Army and party activists and officials as compared to conscripts in the Domobrans, the NDH's regular army. As for their leaders, most of the Ustase party officials who had fallen into British custody - including Ante Pavelic - escaped (or "escaped") before the mass was turned back into Yugoslavia.

In one of his last official acts before Zagreb was declared an Open City and he and his closest collaborators joined this dash for the border, Pavelic named his long-time associate, Vjekoslav "Maks" Luburic, head of all armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia. It is known that Luburic and his remaining charges followed the column headed toward Bleiburg, conducting rear-guard skirmishes with the Communist army, ordering the liquidation of the remaining inmates at the Jasenovac concentration camp (which Luburic had designed himself), and executing two former Ustase ministers who had been arrested after conspiring to overthrow Pavelic in 1944. At some point, however, they fell back, establishing hideouts in the cities and country, just as the Communists had done before.

Pavelic was undoubtedly hiding while he was in Austria - a separation from his family, who hid at a separate address, suggests as much. But he was also working - reorganizing these Ustase refugees with a stomach to keep fighting into a guerrilla army, which in characteristic fashion he named the Krizari, or "Crusaders".

This was the first reincarnation of the Ustase in the post-war period. For more than three years the Krizari conducted raids into Yugoslav territory from Austrian bases. However, most of the missions failed to link up with Luburic's forces inside the country. The commando units were quickly neutralized or arrested by OZNA, the Yugoslav secret police, shortly after arriving crossing the border and unwittingly leading Yugoslav Counterintelligence to their contacts inside the country. The operational planning of the entire operation leaked like a sieve, thanks to aggressive OZNA counter-espionage measures, including the use of double-agents, and a Soviet spy who was involved in the highest levels of American and British intelligence, Kim Philby.

The Krizari Campaign, ineffective as it was, didn't suffer from lack of leadership. Luburic was operational coordinator of the units left behind inside Croatia and any commandos from Austria who managed to evade the OZNA dragnet. Major Ljubo Milos, previously an Ustase commandant at the Jasenovac and Lepoglava camps, served as a commander up until his capture by Yugoslav authorities in 1947. Overall planning for the Krizari Campaign rested with Pavelic. After his departure from the American Zone of Austria to Italy in late 1945 or '46, he remained in contact by wireless set operated by his secretary, former Ustase minister Vjekoslav Vrancic. [8.]

The Yugoslav authorities decimated the new Krizari arrivals, and resistance inside the country was gradually snuffed out. Ljubo Milos was tried with a few dozen other Krizari and gave a lurid confession from the dock, making reference to Vatican spies, British secret agents and an enormous treasure lode of gold looted from Ustase victims that was paying for the Krizari Campaign. Maks Luburic quietly slipped out of the country, reappearing in Spain a few years later.

That this anti-Communist operation - designed to destabilize the country that was then referred to in the press as "Soviet Satellite Number One" - had American backing is not surprising. Similar operations were underway in other Balkan countries, such as Albania. (Philby betrayed this operation as well, passing on information about the missions to the Soviet authorities, who in turn informed their Albanian counterparts of the commando units' place and time of arrival.) [9.]. However, the operatives trained by American and British intelligence for the Albanian campaign were members of a movement known as Balli Kombetar, which as a whole had none of the baggage of men like Luburic or Pavelic or their bloody underlings. The Americans and British were essentially sponsoring the men who had orchestrated and carried out the murder of at least several hundred thousand civilians over the previous four years through the most abominable means of execution they could devise.

The Krizari Campaign was the last time the old leaders of the NDH were physically together, though, as we shall see, they never entirely split from each other in spirit. Instead, a legion of acronyms, movements and publications followed in their wake as the Ustase reorganized themselves into cells spanning four continents and more than two dozen countries.

Upon his arrival in Argentina, the Poglavnik was met by his loyal secretary, Vjekoslav Vrancic, former Ustase minister Ivica Perovic, and a dozen other ministers and important figures in the NDH, as well as several Croatian Catholic priests active in or sympathetic to the Ustase movement [10.]. He wasted little time in orientating himself to his new surroundings before issuing the first public declaration the world had heard from Ante Pavelic since the end of the war. The Ustase was a force which was, he said, irrevocably opposed to Bolshevism. Since the Croat nation had not voted for Bolshevism (neither, can it be said, had they voted for Pavelicism), the new regime would naturally be overthrown from within.

To that end, the years 1948-1955 were chiefly concerned with the continued organization of commando-style operations inside Yugoslavia with their legacy in the Krizari Campaign, and internally with building a worldwide Croatian movement in emigration, with the exiled Ustase at the center. The pre-war Croatian leaders in exile who had managed to remain relatively free of taint from the Ustase were either unable or unwilling [11.] to form organizations which would repudiate the NDH in favour of a democratic and free Croatia, opposed to Ustasism as well as Communism. The exiled Ustase stepped into the chasm.

Internationally, Pavelic's government-in-exile made little headway in the late 1940s and early 1950s. More time would have to pass, and new leaders would have to replace the hangmen at the top of the organization before the West would publicly deal with the Ustase, regardless of whatever relationships and cooperation existed behind the scenes. A series of organizational names and publications were christened with august reverence and buried without rites. From the claims of his intimates, Pavelic had expected quick, pre-emptive war by the Americans against the Soviets which would restore the Ustase in Croatia, and the Ustase leader was off-balance when such a mighty conflagration never materialized [12.]. It was not until the founding declaration of the Hrvatski Oslobodilacki Pokret (Croatian Liberation Movement - the original name Pavelic gave to the Ustase in the 1930s) was released on June 8, 1956 that a definitive and official successor movement to the Ustase was proclaimed.

The founding declaration of the HOP is notable for a number of reasons, first for what it says - defining Croatia not in the rhetoric of the pre-war era, as a "historical continuity," a kingdom hundreds of years old, but as a state with the same physical boundaries as the NDH - and second for what it does not. It is undeniable that the HOP, founded as it was by the Poglavnik of the NDH and calling for a return to the NDH's boundaries, and making no reference to or distancing itself from the nightmare of concentration camps and massacres that the Independent State of Croatia represented, is both the organizational and the ideological successor to the Ustase. In spite of later claims [13.] that most of the Ustase were killed after the British turned back the refugees from Bleiburg, the HOP's founding declaration is signed by twelve of them, all ministers or other high officials in the wartime NDH, in their name as ministers of the NDH, and does not include a dozen other high officials in the Ustase who had evaded justice after the war and were then at liberty, including Maks Luburic, Interior Minister Andrija Artukovic, Jasenovac commandant Dinko Sakic, or even Pavelic's son-in-law and future leader of the HOP, Srecko Psenicnik.

The HOP was led by Pavelic until his death three years later, from complications of a mysterious assassination attempt in Argentina as well as old age (the Poglavnik was seventy years old when he died). His appointed successor was Stjepan Hefer, a former deputy from the Croatian Peasant Party of Vladko Macek. Hefer took Macek's declaration of support for the Ustase in 1941 to heart, abandoning the Peasant Party for the Ustase and holding several minister-level portfolios in the last three NDH governments. Hefer had the demeanor of an intellectual, but his books on what he called "the Croatian Problem" are little more than half-baked propaganda tracts in which he makes such claims as that the Ustase was a "progressive, liberal" movement which would have bowed down to the forces of democracy in April, 1941 had it not been for the Chetnik and Communist revolts. Ante Bonifacic took control of the HOP in the mid-1970s and moved the organization's base to North America. The HOP enjoyed the unqualified support of certain American conservatives [14.], even as the Croatian emigrant community was torn apart by Ustase-led violence against moderate Croats and a string of terrorist incidents which somehow left Bonifacic's reputation unblemished. Bonifacic was followed by Pavelic's son-in-law, Srecko Psenicnik, in 1981.

There has been some confusion over the connection between acts of terrorism committed by Croat extremists and the political movements set up by the principle Ustase exiles. Given the flexibility of the terrorists themselves in assigning one or several organizations' names to their deeds after the fact, it's counterproductive to separate the different groups between solid partitions. There was constant movement of activists between them, and papers aligned with one movement would invariably praise and commend acts undertaken by the others.

Maks Luburic was the driving force behind the Ustase's return to high-profile violence of the sort which put them on the map in 1934 with the assassination of Yugoslav King Alexander and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou in Marseilles, France. He was also the one responsible for creating the maze of organizations, movements, operations groups and acronyms which litter the texts of most post-war Ustase studies. By his own hand, Luburic formed the Hrvatski Narodni Odpor, or Croatian National Resistance, also known by various translations as the Croatian Popular Resistance, the Croatian People's Resistance, and within the movement itself as Odpor or Otpor. Principles from the HNO later went on to form the Hrvatski Drzavotvorni Pokret (HDP), or the Croatian Statehood Movement, and seed a dozen other organizations from West Germany to Australia, such as the United Croats of West Germany (UHNj), Croatian Youth (HM), and eventually an umbrella of neo-Ustase terrorism in the 1970s, the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood (CRB).

The HNO published a magazine called Drina and a newspaper called Obrana. In the latter, alongside screeds that called for the violent destruction of Yugoslavia, the editors included helpful instructions on bomb-making and sabotage, descriptions of the firing range of several shoulder-held rifles, and advice on the optimal location to plant a bomb in a public building in order to cause the most structural damage.

Luburic and HNO agents set up cells in Switzerland, Italy and Glasgow, but Australia and West Germany became their true strongholds. In 1962, twenty-five HNO commandos occupied a Yugoslav consulate in Bad-Godesberg, led by Josep Stjepan Bilandzic. The HNO also conducted numerous raids into Yugoslav territory, the extent of which are not known and probably won't be until full access is granted to UDBA (the Yugoslav security agency and successor to OZNA) archives in Belgrade.

Luburic's HNO set the tone for the Croatian extremist movement as a whole, in that they declared that they "consider[ed] every direct or indirect help to Yugoslavia as treason against the Croat Nation." [15.] This included anyone doing business with the Yugoslav government, foreign embassy staff, and all Croats who were sympathetic to the Communist government or simply disagreed with the tactics of the HNO and its alter ego organizations. This strain of intolerance among other Croats (including the novel distinction between "real Croats" - i.e., those who support the Ustase - and, presumably, false ones) can be traced back to the pre-war Ustase movement when disputes within the organization were settled quickly and violently, as in the case of the former commandant of the Ustase training camp at Janka Puszta who was executed when a jilted lover became an informer for the secret police. A precursor to their intolerance of competitors, real or imagined, can be seen in the wartime treatment meted out to Vladko Macek of the Croatian Peasant Party, who had been regarded as too much of a potential threat by Pavelic to be allowed his freedom, despite of his public support for the Ustase and the Independent State of Croatia. Macek was sent to the Jasenovac concentration camp before being remanded to house arrest, and left a chilling description of his time there in his memoirs.

Luburic's body was found in his villa in Spain on April 20, 1969. His skull had been crushed by repeated blows to the head with a blunt object, and his chest lacerated by more than a dozen stab wounds. Yet the grisly death of one of the most noxious killers of the 20th century did little to change attitudes among the Ustase exiles and their younger proteges. If anything, the violence became even worse.

The differences between the HNO and the HOP were geographic rather than ideological. The oath taken by HNO recruits included a commitment of allegiance to the HOP's founder, a pledge to "remain loyal to... the principles of the Ustase movement of the Poglavnik, Dr. Ante Pavelic." [16.]

This is a crucial point: though HNO and HOP were separate organizations operating on opposite sides of the world, they both considered themselves - and recognized each other - as Ustase. There was nothing which ideologically distinguished HNO from HOP, and in tactical matters there was only HNO's slightly more effervescent praise for the use of explosives in pursuit of their political goals. Luburic split from Pavelic toward the end of the latter's life on minor ideological grounds, but their organizations continued to cooperate.

The 1970s completely obliterated the already opaque lines between the two organizations. HNO's Australian branch evolved into the Croatian Statehood Movement (HDP), while it's West German members shifted to the United Croats of West Germany. Meanwhile, new acts of terrorism in Australia, Europe, the United States and South America occurred with appalling regularity. No study has tabulated the precise number of Ustase terrorist incidents in the decade, but a fair-minded estimate would reveal at least 50 attempted assassinations, 40 successful bombings of public buildings or monuments, two successful airplane hijackings and another in which an airliner was destroyed in mid-flight by detonation - just under one incident every month of every year over the course of the decade. Many of the attacks were attributed to a shadowy, hither-to unknown group which called itself the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood (CRB).

Several HDP-connected journals claimed that the CRB emerged in response to the Yugoslav suppression of the "Croatian Spring," a flowering of nationalistic politics and culture in Zagreb in the first two years of the 1970s. In fact, the leaders of the Croatian Spring distanced themselves at every opportunity from the extremist movement and explicitly condemned the neo-fascist pageantry of the emigre organizations, including the continuation of Pavelic's personality cult and the marking of April 10th - the day the NDH was founded after the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia - as Croatia's independence day. Less symbolic activities which the Croatian Spring activists condemned included the murder of the Yugoslav Ambassador to Sweden, Vladimir Rolovic; the subsequent hijacking of a Swedish SAS jetliner by Ustase demanding the release of Rolovic's assassins; and the murder and extortion of scores of moderate Croats who refused to pay "contributions" to fund Ustase violence. [17.]

Today, there is some speculation that the Brotherhood was fictional front and a convenient cover to shield the by-now more respectable HDP and HOP from direct links with terrorists. This alibi was essential, as a fair share of Ustase crimes were now taking place on Western European and American soil, including the Statue of Liberty. There was seamless cooperation between one-time members of the HOP and HDP working under the guise of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood - or, just as often, working under no guise at all, and only claiming responsibility in the name of the CRB after a successful operation. [18.]

By willful blindness or cynical politics, the ruse worked. The HOP under Ante Bonifacic, who presided over the Croatian extremist movement at a time when a group of Croats organized from Chicago were convicted of more than fifty counts of extortion, racketeering, murder, attempted murder, and using the United States Postal Service for sending bombs in hollowed out books to dissident Croats, including a Catholic priest [19.], was classified by the FBI as a benevolent, non-violent political organization - certainly the only party founded by a World War II war criminal to earn such a distinction. [20.] The United States government was unmoved by the convicted defendants' connection with international terrorist Miro Baresic, and the fact that a mysterious Croatian group in Chicago - where Bonifacic and the HOP were now based - made a monthly payment to Baresic, who was then an international fugitive from justice that had entered the United States with forged documents before he was eventually arrested and deported back to Sweden to serve out the rest of his sentence for the murder of Ambassador Rolovic in Stockholm. [21.]

Similarly, in Australia, HDP officials like Nikola Stedul and Spremnost publisher Fabian Lovokovic found themselves courted by members of the left and the right of Australian politics, even as the police uncovered three separate Ustase training camps over the course of three years where lessons were given on long-range shooting and bomb-making and -handling. Stedul, who had emigrated from Yugoslavia to Germany in the 1950s, is alleged to have been an HNO representative in Australia from 1966 to 1971 before becoming a high official in the "new" HDP. [22.]

Of the Ustase leaders abroad, mention should be made of Branimir (Branko) and Ivan Jelic, two brothers involved in the pre-war Ustase movement who later parted ways with their fellow exiles. Branko had occupied one of the highest positions in the pre-war Ustase, and headed a radical Croat youth organization before Pavelic had even formed the Ustase. He was arrested with Eugen-Dido Kvaternik and Ante Pavelic in Turin in connection with the assassination of King Alexander in Marseilles in 1934. Jelic was interned in England during the war, thus escaping scrutiny as he was in no way implicated in the atrocities of the NDH. He emigrated to Germany afterward, and headed the Croatian Committee and the Croatian Socialist Party, which published the journal Hrvatska Drzava (The Croatian State).

The Jelic brothers differed radically from other post-war Ustase-led movements in that they allied themselves with the Soviet Union, offering the Red Army access to naval and air bases in a free and independent Croatia, whereas Tito allowed them none in Federal Yugoslavia. [23.] "Finlandization" was a word on the lips of Czech democrats, Polish intellectuals and Latvian dissidents, and the Jelic brothers too believed a Soviet alliance against the Socialist heretic Tito would create an opportunity for Croatia's independence. Treating the Croatian situation in the context of a national liberation struggle, the Jelic brothers were able to gain some sympathy for Croatian independence among left-leaning editors, publicists and political activists. Nevertheless their movement was the weakest of those mentioned here, partially due to a bizarre competition spread by the HDP when the Jelic brothers attempted to expand the Croatian Socialists from their West German base. [24.]

All of the various Croat extremist organizations mentioned herein, both real and sham, can trace their lineage back to the NDH and, further, to Ante Pavelic himself. Clear branches of descent can be drawn from the furthest extremity - Pavelic's founding of the Ustase movement in Vienna in 1929-30 - through era of pre-war terrorism, through the NDH and the Krizari Campaign and finally to the two progenitors of all subsequent Croatian extremist organizations, Pavelic and Luburic.

Croatian terrorist groups never truly "split" from the Ustase or from one another, in the sense of the violent fragmentation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Abu Nidal, or the two factions of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in Lebanon after 1983. The difference between Pavelic's HOP and Luburic's HNO, whose members paid homage to Pavelic in their loyalty oath, could not be measured by ideology or tactics, but only in geography: one operated in the Americas, the others primarily in Europe with an outpost in Australia. By the time the two principles were dead, the groups had spun off "respectable" fronts for political agitation and presentation to the anti-Communist international community, while continuing to nurture an even more radical, violent and reckless element within. There were moments of blatant collaboration between members of the separate groups in terrorist acts and, after 1972, the total evaporation of any distinction between them.

The attention of the reader is drawn to the scope of this brief inquiry, but one shouldn't lose sight of the uncertain terminus of the Ustase movement abroad. Indeed, the racketeering trial against several Croatian extremists in the United States was concluded only in 1983 when appeals by the defendants were rejected. In recent years, right-wing Croatian organizations in Zagreb have called for the defendants release from prison as patriots, in spite of their record of extorting, threatening, and attempting to kill other Croats in the United States.

Another prominent Croatian terrorist, Miro Baresic, unindicted co-conspirator in the racketeering trial mentioned above, the assassin of Ambassador Vladimir Rolovic and later advisor to the military death squads of Paraguan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, was paroled in Stockholm in 1987 and three years later enlisted in a paramilitary unit fighting for Croatia against the Krajina Serbs. His conspirators in the Rolovic assassination bypassed Interpol warrants and also returned home to enlist in the Croatian War. Nikola Stedul is now president of the HDP, based in Zagreb. Without submitting the reader to bathos, it is worthwhile to point out that the crimes of the Ustase-led extremist organizations against individuals, both Croat and Serb, communist, nationalist or apolitical, are not relics of ancient history, but are fixed within the living memory of most people alive today.


1. See the archive of CIC documents posted on this site, particularly the file titled "Ante Pavelic and Other Ustasha Personalities," and Memoranda from Agent William Gowen dated August 29 and September 12, 1947.

2. ibid. [back]

3. See Butler, Hubert. The Sub-prefect Should Have Held His Tongue and Other Essays (London, 1990), for a vigorous account of a Pavelic speech in Buenos Aires. [back]

4. A notable except is the Dashnaktsutiun, or Armenian Revolutionary Federation, founded in Tbilisi in 1890 and active to this day as an emigre organization and a political party in post-Soviet Armenia. [back]

5. CIC Report by Special Agent Robert Clayton Mudd titled "Present Whereabouts and Past Background of Ante PAVELIC, Croat Quisling," 30 January 1947. [back]

6. Bosnian Muslims were considered "Islamic Croats" according to the Ustase's Goebbelian propagandist, Mile Budak. See Novak, Viktor. Magnum Crimen, p. 603. [back]

7. According to an editorial in the Fascist controlled Gazetto del Popolo in October, 1941, the Ustase had never become "respectable" members of government anyway. "It would be ridiculous to deny that the acting powers-that-be in Croatia are former terrorists. These criminals have become generals, ministers, ambassadors, newspaper editors and chiefs of police. In spite of their promotion to higher rank, they have not changed fundamentally. In fact they are exactly what they used to be, including Pavelic and the members of his government." See Paris, Edmond. Genocide in Satellite Croatia for the full text. Mussolini had already turned against his former proteges, and his troops re-occupied Hercegovina after their initial withdrawal in order to put a stop to the Ustase massacres in the Spring and Summer of 1941 - which caused Pavelic and the Ustase, in turn, to move closer to Adolf Hitler. [back]

8. CIC memorandum from Agent William Gowens, quoted in Aarons, Mark and Loftus, John. Unholy Trinity, (1991 St. Martins Press, New York) p 123. [back]

9. This was also in the era of the Truman Doctrine, and Allied operations against Communist regimes in Croatia and Albania must be seen in the proper context, which includes the April 18, 1948 tainted elections in Italy which defeated the Communists at the polls with considerable American subterfuge; the Yugoslav-Italian crisis over Trieste; American support for the anti-Communist faction in the Greek Civil War; the takedown of an American plane for violating Yugoslav airspace and the mining of a British ship off the coast of Corfu by the Albanians. [back]

10. See CIA document, "Reported Arrival of Ante Pavelic in Argentina." [back]

11. One candidate, Ivan Subasic, had been governor of Croatia in 1941 when the war began, and ignoring orders from his party leader Vladko Macek, fled with the Royal Government. He served for a time as the head of the government-in-exile under British pressure and signed the Tito-Subasic Agreement, recognizing the Communist partizans as the official army of Yugoslavia and Tito as head of state, with the monarchy's fate to be decided in a referendum after the war. Macek himself, also a member of the government at the start of the war and head of the Peasant Party for a period spanning two decades, recognized the NDH but declined a German offer to lead it himself. German and Italian overtures to take a role in government to moderate the policies of the Ustase were ineffective and after a short time in the concentration camp of Jasenovac he spent the rest of the war under house arrest. Macek lived in Washington after the war, but never challenged the exiled Ustase's grab for power among the new emigres or the long-standing Croat diaspora. Older ethnic Croatian groups such as the Croatian Fraternal Union continued to operate, and eventually became the Ustase exiles' chief target in the United States. [back]

12. See Butler, Sub-prefect. [back]

13. See McAdams, Michael. Croatia, Myth and Reality. This piece claims, remarkably, that only three high-level Ustase escaped from Tito's forces after the war. Among the signatories of the HOP founding declaration are six ministers of the final (seventh) NDH government: Ante Pavelic (head of state), Dzafer beg-Kulenovic (Vice-President), Vjekoslav Vrancic (Minister of Trade and Industry), Stjepan Hefer (Minister of Village Economy), Jozo Dumandzic (Minister of Traffic), and Ivika Frkovic (Minister for Forestry & Mining and City Administrator of Sarajevo). [back]

14. See US vs. Bagaric, et al [back]

15. Quote from the HNO founding declaration and constitution: "We regard Yugoslavism and Yugoslavia as the greatest and only evil that has caused the existing calamity... We therefore consider every direct or indirect help to Yugoslavia as treason against the Croat Nation." Private collection. [back]

16. Undated excerpt from Obrana, appears to be June of 1964. [back]

17. Clissold, Stephen. Croat Separatism: Nationalism, Dissidence and Terrorism, Institute for the Study of Conflict, London, 1979, p. 7. [back]

18. Other probably fictitious organizations to claim responsibility for Ustase attacks are the Croat National Liberation Force, the Croatian Freedom Cause, and the Croatian Committee for Salvation and Justice. [back]

19. See United States vs. Bagaric et. al. [back]

20. See FBI File on Ante Bonifacic [coming soon to this site] [back]

21. For the defendants' connection to Baresic, see this excerpt from US vs Bagaric, et al. [back]

22. See Aarons, Mark. Sanctuary: Nazi Fugitives in Australia, Heinemann, Australia. Melbourne, 1989. [back]

23. Jelic, Branimir. Fight for the Croatian State. [back]

24. Considerable confusion was caused in Australia, where the HNO/HDP's Nikola Stedul registered the Croat Socialist Party as a shell organization for supposedly left-wing Croat emigres. Despite the HDP's right-wing flourishes, a group of HDP activists attempted to march on May Day with other Australian left-wing parties, who were invited to contribute to Croatian publications on "independence day" and support the "revolutionary" Croat cause of the HDP.

[B]Arrival of Ante Pavelic in Argentina

From the CIA File on Ante Pavelic: This appears to be a microfilm copy of a report with a plethora of details on the arrival of Ante Pavelic and other Ustase in Argentina. The CIA today claims to have no knowledge of where other documents relating to his long exile in Argentina have gone. Vjekoslav Vrancic is one of Pavelic's confidants and is mentioned here as one of Pavelic's fellow fugitives in the Vatican's San Girolamo sanctuary, as is [Lovro] Susic. Vinko Nikolic, mentioned at the end of paragraph five, would be named a senator by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in 1997. Illegible portions are marked by [?]

Subject: Reported Arrival of Ante PAVELIC in Argentina
Date of Information: Current
Date Acquired: November 1948
Date of Report: 2 December 1948

1. Ante PAVELIC former head of the Independent State of Croatia and pro-Nazi war criminal, is reported to have arrived in Buenos Aires on board the Italian ship SS SESTRIERE which docked on 6 November from Genoa, Italy.
2. PAVELIC traveled under an unidentified assumed name, as an engineer, on International Red Cross documents. On board, he was disguised by a heavy beard and a moustache. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, he is said to have shaved both beard and moustache.

3. Ivica PEROVIC, Vjekoslav VRANCIC and Jezo [? - HRANCIC?] had been secretly advised by Father Stjepan [?] from Rome that PAVELIC was sailing for Argentina on the SS SESTIERE.

4. For a few months prior to his departure from Italy, PAVELIC stayed at a monastery by Castel Gandolfo near Rome, the Pope's summer home. With Father DRAGANOVIC's help, subject made his way to Genoa from whence he came to Argentina.

5. Shortly after his arrival in Buenos Aires, PAVELIC held two long conferences with [?], in which the latter, speaking in the name of the Argentine government, extended full help and cooperation. Later, subject received VRANCIC, [?], [? - Tutzia?], Father Vlado [? - Bilobnik?], [?] SUSIC and the two editors of the bi-weekly newspaper "Croatia", Ivan SEVISTIC and Vinko NIKOLIC.

6. In his first meeting with his followers in Argentina, PAVELIC urged the Ustashi to stand together and work for the restoration of the "Independent State of Croatia". He added that there is [? - possibly "no", but probably "an"] assurance that Dr. Vlatko MACEK will work for a free Croatia.

7. After several days in Buenos Aires, subject, accompanied by VRANCIC, left for the interior. Some say that they went to Cordoba, but source is of the opinion that Pavelic may be in Vandil in the Province of Buenos Aires, [? - 330?] kilometers south of the City of Buenos Aires. This belief is supported by the fact that a staunch follower of PAVELIC, [? - COLLUSSI?], a Croat engineer, suddenly left Buenos Aires for Vandil.

8. PAVELIC's first steps upon arrival in Argentina indicate that he plans to become politically active. If such is the case, source believes he will exercise considerable influence over local Jugoslav immigrants, especially the Croats and Ustashi. Source states that PAVELIC is convinced that he has a mission to perform, and that he and his followers still regard him as the "Poglavnik" or chief of state.

:: filing information ::
Title: Arrival of Ante Pavelic in Argentina
Source: US Army, declassified.
Date: December 2, 1948

CIC Information Sheet

From the US Army File on Ante Pavelic: This document confirms the information given in Agent William Gowen's previous report, right down to the room number. This appears to have been prepared in final preparation for enforcing an arrest on Pavelic, on Vatican property if need be. The list of "other Ustasha personalities" is only a handful of the high-ranking officials who would escape from justice, contrary to claims made elsewhere that only Pavelic and one or two other Ustase escaped justice after the war. Within the next 18 months, nearly the entire cabinet of the Independent State of Croatia will have relocated to Buenos Aires.


Subject: Ante PAVELIC and other USTASHA personalities
1. Ante PAVELIC is in hiding as an ex-HUNGARIAN General under the name of "Giuseppe". He wears a small pointed beard and has his hair cut short at the sides after the fashion of a German Army officer.

2. Hi [sic] is living on Church property under the protection of the Vatican, at Via Giacomo Venezian No. 17-C, second floor. On entering the building you go along a long and dark corridor. At the end of the corridor there are two stairways, one to the left and one to the right. You must take the right. On the right the rooms are numbered 1,2,3, etc. If you knock once or twice at door No. 3 an unimportant person will come out. But if you knock three times at door No. 3, door No. 2 will open. It leads to the room where PAVELIC lives, together with the famous BULGARIAN terrorist Vancia MIKOILOFF and two other persons.

3. About twelve other men live in the building. They are all Ustasha and make up PAVELIC's bodyguard.

4. When PAVELIC goes out he uses a car with a Vatican (SCV) number-plate.

5. The following persons visit the convent occasionally:

a) Ivica FRKOVIC, editor of the Ustasha Paper "Hrvatski Narod";
b) Dr. Feliks POLJANIC, Asst. chief of police SARAJEVO;
c) Ciro KUDUIA, Ustasha Colonel;
d) Dr. VIDALI, Asst. chief of the Ustasha-Croat Security Police;
e) Zvonko DUGANIC, Asst. chief of Croat Information Service (he lives in ROME, tel.N. 43302);
f) Peter SIMIC;
g) Dr. Lovro SUSIC, secretary of Ustasha movement in Italy. Travels frequently (ROME BOLOGNA, TRIESTE). At present living in CASERTA.
h) Joso ZUBIC, police commissioner of SARAJEVO;
i) Husnija HRUSTANOVIC, journalist;
j) Zdravko BJELOMARIC.

CIC Summary of Information
From the US Army File on Ante Pavelic: A report filed by Agents William Gowen and Louis Caniglia squelching rumors that Pavelic has left Rome.


9 JUNE 1947


1. The following information concerning the whereabouts of Subject has been submitted to these Agents by an informant of this office.

2. Dr. Anton PAVELIC, former President of the Independent State of Croatia, frequently rumored to have left for Genoa, Spain and Argentina, is reported once more to be hiding in Rome. Among his domiciles is an appartment [sic] on the second floor in Via GIACOMO VENEZIANO, No. 17, stairway "C", where he was several weeks ago, dressed as a hunter.

SOURCE: Usually Reliable
INFORMATION: Unconfirmed

Željko Zidarić
13th-June-2012, 03:11 PM
This is an original translation of an article which first appeared in the now-defunct Italian magazine Storia Illustrata in 1990. The fates of Ante Pavelic and the head of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, Ivan "Vance" Mihailov, are intertwined after the former went into exile in 1929; among Pavelic's first contacts in Vienna was Mihailov's girlfriend. After receiving an invitation to IMRO's headquarters in Banka, Pavelic joined IMRO in a declaration of war against the Royal Yugoslav government, and the Ustase was born. Certain scholars have somehow claimed that the identity of King Alexander's assassin - a Bulgarian "loaned" to the Ustase after two previous bungled assassination attempts ordered by Pavelic - somehow absolves Pavelic and Eugen-Dido Kvaternik of complicity in the crime which they planned. Mihailov's statements on the issue, if they are to be believed, certainly indicate that it was the Ustase, and not IMRO, which planned the assassination in Marseilles. Mihailov's claim to have lived in the NDH is given credence by this document, which alleges that he was staying in the same Vatican hide-out as Pavelic after the war. The interviewer, Antonio Pitamitz, was from the Italian community in Dalmatia and wrote several articles for Storia Illustrata on the subject of Croatian history.

Between the two wars he led the Macedonian insurrection against Belgrade. Together with Ante Pavelic, he participated in the killing of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in 1934. And then he disappeared. Storia Illustrata has tracked him down for this exclusive interview: his first since then.

A conversation between Ivan "Vance" Mihailov and Antonio Pitamitz

He was among the most determined enemies, of the first Yugoslavia which was born after the First World War, and of its king, Alexander I Karadjordjevic. And he was the head of one of the most powerful irredentist movements in the Balkans: the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), which led the struggle of the Macedonians against the Turks beginning in 1893, and, after 1913, against Serbia which had annexed Macedonia to itself at the expense of Bulgaria after the Balkan wars of 1912-1913 and had imposed with violence the Serb way of life there. In Macedonia, IMRO had a degree of popular support, while its bases were in Bulgaria, where it was strong enough to become a "state within a state" in the 1920s, with agents in the bureaucracy, the army and in the government.

His name is Ivan Mihailov, also known as "Vance," and he led IMRO in the inter-war period. In Serbia he was considered a criminal. The pro-Bulgarian Macedonians of Serbia held him to be their defender against Serb domination. In Bulgaria he was deemed a patriot. Once, in the 1920s, over two hundred lawyers spontaneously offered to defend him when the courts in Sofia discussed prosecuting him for terrorism in absentia. The trial was scuttled.

Mihailov was one of the legendary Balkan revolutionaries of the period, internationally known for his tenacious fight for the liberation of Macedonia from Yugoslavia, often in tandem with Ante Pavelic, head of the Croat nationalist Ustase movement, who had the same goal for Croatia.

Mihailov and Pavelic's struggle against Belgrade was fought by all means at their disposal, including terrorism. Nothing was verboten, including the assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, killed in Marseilles, France in 1934 by a confidant of Mihailov's, "lent" to Pavelic's Croat Ustase who had condemned King Alexander back in 1928 after the killing Croat leader Stjepan Radic in parliament by a Montenegrin MP, a chauvinist Serb with ties to the Royal Court. Wounded by police and lynched by the enraged mob, Mihailov's agent took the secret of his identity to his grave. He went down in history as one Peter Kelemann - the last of the many aliases he used to stay one step ahead of the European police, among which was his own true name which was made public by the Bulgarian police. The Marseilles assassination made Europe fear for another Sarajevo. Fascist Italy and Horthy's Hungary, where the Ustase had training camps for their followers, were tangled up in the controversy. As it occurred at the precise moment when Mussolini was attempting a rapprochement with France (the ally of Yugoslavia), the shadow of Hitler's Germany also stretched as far as Marseilles.

But Mihailov disappeared from the scene after 1934, when Bulgarian military forces seized power in Sofia and outlawed by IMRO and its legal front, the Macedonian Revolutionary Committee. Not even the turmoil of World War II and the post-war chaos, which in the Balkans led to the tragic rendering of accounts between Croats and the pro-Bulgarian Macedonians with the Serbs, drew Mihailov back into the public eye. Many thought he was dead. Instead, Mihailov has been living for more than forty years in a Western European city, where we tracked him down.

This is the first interview Mihailov has given since the assassination in Marseilles, exclusively for Storia Illustrata. Now ninety-three years old, grown used to a life of conspiracy, he answered us in a slow, drawn manner, alternating between half-admissions and bold assertions - like the accomplished Balkan revolutionary that he is.

Q. Mr. Mihailov, let's start with the Marseilles attack. The assassin of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia was one of your men. He was positively identified by the French police as Peter Kelemann, which was one of his many aliases. What was his real name?

A. His true identity was made public by the Bulgarian police. That was Vladimir "Vlado" Gheorghiev Tchernozernsky. To me and our other companions, he had only been "Vlado."

Q. Between yourself and Ante Pavelic's Ustase there was a "coordinated action pact," both anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav. When you "lent" Tchernozernsky to Pavelic, did you know what he would be used for?

A. A written and signed pact for a common struggle between the Macedonians and the Croats did not exist and it never has. But there was - and there still is - the same state of defense and attack against the actions and machinations of the Serbs at the expense of the Croats and the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Self-preservation is a powerful instinct. When the Serbs shot Croat MPs in the parliament, Ante Pavelic presented himself to me a few days later, as if by instinct, as a guest of the Macedonian exiles in Sofia and was welcomed with a genuine camaraderie. It was then that the Macedonian exiles and Pavelic together announced to the whole world that we would march together against Serbian tyranny. Immediately afterwards, Belgrade condemned Pavelic to death. You have to remember, Pavelic did not come to an agreement with IMRO but with the legal Macedonian National Committee, which included important people, people who were members of the Bulgarian parliament.

Q. You have not answered the question. Did you know what action Tchernozernsky was to undertake?

A. Tchernozernsky was placed at the disposal of Pavelic and the Croats for any activity directed against Yugoslavia, of course within the confines of the common fight for the liberation of our peoples from Belgrade's grip. King Alexander was one of the possible objectives.

Q. Did you discuss the death of Alexander with Pavelic?

A. Between Pavelic and myself there was no specific talk of the assassination. But for us it was a natural conclusion that Alexander should end like he did.

Q. You said there was nothing in writing between you and Pavelic. But IMRO agents were training Croats at the training camp in Janka Puszta, Hungary.

A. IMRO never ordered its men to be instructors for Croats at Janka Puszta or anywhere else. I can say that with confidence, because if I didn't know that was happening, nobody would have known. If some Macedonian students in Hungary went to the camps, it is not within my knowledge.

Q. Where were you on the day of the assassination?

A. Thirty days or so before the death of the Serbian king, I was in Istanbul. I stayed there for three or four weeks. During that time I realized that Turkey had probably accepted some kind of request from Belgrade to create difficulties for my departure to Western Europe. We had to leave Istanbul, on the advice of the Turkish police, for the town of Kastamonu seeing as how there were lovely woods there - for my wife's health, they told me. As soon as we arrived in Kastamonu, a police officer notified us that King Alexander had been killed in Marseilles. My immediate thought was that the King, who had done everything to complicate my departure for Western Europe, had been struck down by a higher power who prevented him from meddling any more. After we heard this bit of news, we were moved to a place about ten kilometers from Ankara. We lived there for more than two years. Then we were moved to the island of Prinkipo, which is near Istanbul. After about a year there, we finally moved on to Poland, and successively through different countries, five in all, until 1949, when we settled in one of them. The Yugoslav government was highly annoyed by the degree of freedom allowed me, and was even more so when the Turkish government refused to extradite me.

Q. You mention a "higher power." That "higher power" was called Tchernozernsky. And the "death" at Marseilles was a murder.

A. I have already had occasion to write that the act of Vlado Tchernozernsky cannot be called a murder. That was clear to anyone that knew anything about King Alexander's regime and the conspiracies devised by them. Vlado was the instrument of the punishment decreed by the curses, the rivers of tears and blood of the Macedonians, Croats, Albanians and other city and country-folk of Yugoslavia, including many Serbs. The Macedonians and the majority of other Yugoslav nationalities rejoiced at the news of the Serbian king's punishment. My mother, who lived in Serbia, got my brother to take her to Belgrade to take a look at the pistol used in the act, which was on display in a museum. Looking at it there, she cried, "May his hand flower!" Obviously, her blessing was on he who had killed the king, not on the king himself. Behind the killing of Alexander there are innumerable crimes done by the king and his advisors. As to the Serbian people, I don't have anything against them.

Q. One of the theories behind the Marseilles assassination, unproven on a documentary basis, is that Nazi Germany was behind it all. Is there any truth to this?

A. Quite a few years ago, the Macedonian Tribune, the journal of our people in America, denied the report in a newspaper which stated that I had met a German in Paris to approve the assassination of Alexander. I don't remember all the details they invented. I don't know who forwarded that lie, nor why they did so now. I never met any German in Paris or anyplace else. I never had a discussion like the one you mention. Since 1912, during the First Balkan War, when he entered Skopje after the Turks' withdrawal, Alexander Karadjordjevic - who was then still Crown Prince - gave proof of his atrocious character and his occupier's mentality in front of the entire population and important people representing all the nationalities of Macedonia.

It was then that a small child, a girl, welcomed him in the name of the people. Alexander asked her, who are you? The girl answered: a Bulgarian. Alexander Karadjordjevic slapped her.

That gesture, shameful and tragic, was the first in a long series of moral and material abuses, humiliations, continuous attempts to enforce a Serbian way of life on the Bulgarian population of Vardar Macedonia. IMRO was the only moral and material force among the Macedonian people. IMRO was able to reach as far as the Belgrade office of the highest representative of Serbian terror against the Macedonians, Jika Lasic. One of his lieutenants, whom he trusted, shot him behind his desk. He survived, and when the Communists came to power they gave him a lifetime pension for his services to Serbianism. Unable to justify a terrorist regime, the Serbs decided that it was not they who were the criminals, but whoever opposed them. In a spirit of vengeance, Serbian police killed my father and my brother, who were the most pacific of people in the village of Stip. In response, I told a journalist that IMRO would never sink to that level of the Serbian intelligentsia which justified the murder of so many Macedonians. Never.

Q. It has been historically proven that Pavelic's Ustase movement was supported by the Italian government. Did the Macedonians have a similar arrangement?

A. IMRO was supported by our people, and sometimes - though rarely - by the diaspora. I never saw or heard of any assistance given to IMRO by Bulgaria or any other state. IMRO never had any bases in Italy as the Croats did. I personally had no connection or any contact with Mussolini or his government.

Q. Macedonian independence, like Croatian independence, meant the disintegration of Yugoslavia, which was a triumph for Mussolini's vision of the Balkans. Wasn't this what you also wanted?

A. The destruction of Yugoslavia was the ardent desire of all peoples illegally annexed to it, except the Serbs.

Q. After the attack by Italians and Germans in 1941, Macedonia was annexed to Bulgaria. But the victory of the partisans of Tito meant that Macedonia remained in Yugoslavia. It became a federated republic. For the first time since the liberation from the Turkish yoke, the Macedonians have their own state. The old "Macedonian Question" has been solved. Wouldn't you agree that occasional irredentist references to Macedonia by Bulgarians - especially among academic circles - are historically out of place now?

A. The Bulgarians in Macedonia, the majority in that country, wish for either an independent Macedonia along the lines of Switzerland, or the outright reunification with Bulgaria. They are the majority. However, Bulgarians in Macedonia have always invited the minorities to fight for an independent Macedonian state. I approve of one of these solutions. Not one of the minorities in Yugoslavia ever wanted or fought for the Yugoslav state. The Yugoslav nationality doesn't exist and never has. But, on the other hand, different nationalities with centuries of history behind them still exist: among them, the Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Bulgarians, Albanians, Bosnjaks, Romanians, Montenegrins, and so on.

Tito was dispatched to Yugoslavia to assume a role imposed from the outside. The latest events certainly testify to this. With regard to the Bulgarian Macedonians, they are not only in the frontiers of today's Yugoslavia. There are just as many who have left for Bulgaria, and at least three hundred thousand in Pirin Macedonia, more in America and Australia and elsewhere. So the Bulgarian academics are not being recidivist or archaic. To the contrary: they are in the middle of current events, by addressing Macedonia.

After 1945, when the Bulgarians in Macedonia realized that they were going to remain under Belgrade, a group of mainly secondary school students prepared - in secret, of course - a petition to the United Nations demanding an independent Macedonia. They were discovered and arrested. They were condemned to six to fourteen years in prison for it. To continue in imposing Serbian culture on the Bulgarians, the Communist regime created a "Macedonian language" and a "Macedonian nationality." This was derided by French sociologist Guy Heraud in 1966 as "non-existent and created to confused people."

Q. Others have written that within IMRO, you were the leader of the nationalist wing, opposing the faction favorable to Bulgaria's absorption with the Soviet Union. This bitter conflict ended with you killing the other faction's leader, General Alexander Protogerov.

A. No factions of this kind existed within IMRO. Protogerov had the same rank as I did in the central committee. He was ambitious for power, both in IMRO and in the country, but he wasn't a revolutionary. He was too manipulative. At a certain point he was in fact isolated from all political and military decisions within the central committee of IMRO. He had no idea of what we were doing until he read them in the newspapers. Protogerov was disciplined because he was responsible on his own for killing Todor Alexandrov, who had been one of IMRO's supporters. And I didn't kill Protogerov, I ordered his elimination.

Q. It's plain to see that Bulgaria didn't go the way you wanted, in that it became a Communist country. Because of that, Bulgarian nationalism in Macedonia has been defeated. This is also a defeat for you and your ideas, don't you think?

A. I have not been sidelined by history. I am living in the free world and I have always worked for my people. Communism was imposed, as you very well know. It was imposed by force on our freedom loving people like all others. If anything must be sidelined by history it is Communism. In America we have organizations which continue to fight for an independent Macedonia, who acknowledge our Bulgarian nationality.

Q. After the war, your name appeared often in publications about the Balkans and about European history. But nobody knew what happened to you. Many thought you were dead. How did you survive, and where did you go?

A. I was in Poland for a year before the war. I myself saw the Germans enter Warsaw. I distinctly remember hearing Hitler's praise for the Polish soldiers. After that, I went to Hungary. After Croatia's independence, I was a guest of my old colleagues there. I remained in Croatia until the end of the war. Late in the war, the Germans suggested placing me at the head of an independent Macedonian state. I did go to Skopje, but I refused, because I did not want to bear responsibility for the incredible bloodshed which would occur with Communism on the verge of taking over. The Germans didn't really like hearing that answer, but individually I think they knew that I had done right by my people. We all saw how many innocent victims Communism caused after the war.

Q. The struggle you headed, with an emphasis on terrorism, preoccupied Bulgaria and Yugoslav Macedonia for years. But it had no result. Today, some years later, what is your opinion of terrorism, of all terrorism?

A. You're saying that terrorist acts against the occupiers were fruitless. But in many parts of the world today, groups are still devoted to a terrorist strategy to further their aims. By terrorist acts there are many who are merely trying to keep attention focused on national or political questions. A specific struggle can in fact be sustained for a long time by different types of propaganda. But IMRO never resorted to terrorism. IMRO punished those who erred individually.

[Translation note: Mihailov was of the opinion that "Bulgarians" are indistinguishable from "Macedonians" and often uses the two words interchangably when referring to the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The terms "Bulgarians in Macedonia," "pro-Bulgarian Macedonian" and "Macedonians" have been used accordingly, depending upon the context.]

Željko Zidarić
13th-June-2012, 03:22 PM
Born on 14 July 1889 in Bradina, about 35 km southwest of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He attends primary school at Travnik in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After completing his secondary education at a Jesuit seminary in Senj, Croatia, he studies law at the University of Zagreb. Following his graduation he establishes a small law practice in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

In his youth Pavelic joins the Croat Party of Rights (Hrvatska Stranka Prava, HSP), an extreme, right-wing nationalist political group advocating Croat separatism.

When the HSP breaks up in 1908 Pavelic joins a splinter faction lead by Josip Frank. The faction, often called frankovci (frankist) after its leader, considers itself to be the "pure" Party of Rights. Pavelic is made interim secretary on 1 March 1919.

Pavelic believes in "a free and independent Croat state comprising the entire historical and ethnic territory of the Croat people." He believes that the enemies of the Croat liberation movement include the Serbian Government, international Freemasonry, Jews, and communism.

1918 - The 'Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes' is formed on 1 December and recognised by the Paris Peace Conference in May 1919. The kingdom encompasses most of the Austrian Slovenian lands, Croatia, Slavonia, most of Dalmatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Vojvodina, Kosovo, the Serbian-controlled parts of Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is to be ruled by Serbian prince regent Aleksandar Karadjordjevicis.

As well as the ethnic Slav majority, the kingdom is home to Germans, Albanians, Hungarians, Romanians, Turks, Italians, Greeks, Czechoslovaks, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Russians, Poles, Bulgars, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews, and Gipsies. It includes people of the Christian Orthodox faith, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Protestants.

The political mix of the kingdom reflects this multicultural base, with no single party ever gaining a majority. The Serbian Radical Party (SRP), lead by Nikola Pasic, and the Croatian Republican Peasant Party (CRPP), lead by Stjepan Radic, dominate but hold almost diametrically opposed views, with the Serbs advocating strong central control and the Croats favouring regional autonomy.

1920 - Following a general election where it wins the majority of Croatian seats, the CRPP boycotts the parliament, a position it will maintain until 1924. The boycott allows the SRP to take power by default and pursue its centralist policies.

1925 - The CRPP and SRP strike a compromise and form a coalition government. Under the agreement the CRPP recognises the monarchy, accepts the constitution and changes its name to the Croatian Peasant Party (CPP). However, the coalition is shortlived, lasting only until 1926, after which the parliament degenerates.

1927 - Pavelic is elected to the Zagreb City Council as a representative for the frankovci faction of the HSP. At national elections, the Croatian block that includes the frankovci faction wins 45,000 votes in the Zagreb region and is allocated two seats in the Yugoslav Parliament, one of which is given to Pavelic. He is later elected vice president of the HSP-frankovci.

1928 - Radic is shot and mortally wounded on the floor of parliament on 20 June. When he dies on 28 August representatives from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina walk out of the parliament, demanding a federal state and refusing to acknowledge the authority of the king.

1929 - On 6 January, in an attempt to hold the federation together, the king suspends the constitution and declares a temporary 'Royal Dictatorship'. The parliament is dissolved, political parties are banned, civil liberties are cancelled, local self-government is abolished and laws are decreed against sedition, terrorism, and propagation of communism. A Serb is made premier, and the name of the country is officially changed to the 'Kingdom of Yugoslavia'.

However, it is soon evident that rather than cementing unity the king's plan is creating greater division. Croatian opposition to a Serb-controlled centralist system grows, while the Serbian political movement is fractured. Leaders of both groups flee the country, as does Pavelic, who is sentenced to death in absentia for his part in anti-Serb demonstrations organised by Bulgarian and Macedonian terrorists.

Pavelic travels to Vienna, the capital of Austria, arriving in February. While in the city he takes the leadership of the Croat Youth Movement, a nationalist group dedicated to resisting the royal dictatorship. Pavelic also makes contact with the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (VRMO), whose leader provides him with an introduction to Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy.

1931 - The royal dictatorship in Yugoslavia is ended and limited democracy reintroduced, although the political landscape remains tumultuous and divisive. Croatian discontent builds when the new leader of the CPP is arrested and jailed for terrorist activities.

1932 - Pavelic accepts an offer from Mussolini to relocate to Italy, where be begins to refashion the Croat Youth Movement into the terrorist group that will come to be known as the Ustase (Insurrection).

Provisioned with training camps, protection and financial support by Mussolini, and receiving further support from the government of Hungry and, later, from Nazi Germany, the Ustase begin a campaign of bombings within Yugoslavia.

In the so-called 'Lika Uprising' the Ustase attempt an armed invasion of Yugoslavia. About one dozen Ustase operatives covertly cross the Adriatic in motorboats, travelling from Italy to Zadar on the Croatian coast, which is then under Italian rule. From Zadar they travel overland to the Velebit Mountains. After attacking a police station and killing 17 police they are forced into a hasty retreat with a number of local Ustase who joined them during the action.

The base for Ustase terrorist operations then moves to Hungary.

1934 - On 14 October a Ustase agent assassinates King Aleksandar while he is visiting Marseille in France. Pavelic is thought to have bribed a high French official to ensure that security around the king was lax, even though the Ustase had made a previous attempt on his life.

Following the assassination, a three-man regency is appointed to rule in the king's place. The CPP leader is released from jail and, in 1935, elections are held. The resulting government eases political oppression but fails to restore full democracy or to address the Croatian separatist movement, which refuses to compromise.

Italy, meanwhile, arrests Pavelic and other leaders of the Ustase following the assassination of the king but refuses to extradite them to face the death sentences passed in absentia in France. Several months later they are released.

1939 - On 26 August, with the outbreak of the Second World War imminent, the Yugoslav Government signs an agreement, the 'Sporazum' (Understanding), with the CPP granting limited autonomy to Croatia. Six days later Germany invades Poland and the war begins.

Yugoslavia attempts to remain neutral but comes under mounting pressure from Germany to fall in with the other Balkan states and sign the 'Tripartite Pact', aligning the country with the 'Axis' powers - Germany, Italy and Japan.

1941 - The Yugoslav Government gives into the German pressure on 24 March, signing a protocol of adherence to the Tripartite Pact. Two days later, on 26 March, junior officers from the Yugoslav air force stage a coup d'état and overthrow the government, unleashing a wave of anti-German demonstrations across Belgrade, the national capital. Germany responds on 6 April, bombing the capital in a 'blitzkrieg' (lightning war) that kills thousands (sources estimate the number killed to be between 12,000 and 17,000). Axis forces then invade.

Pavelic seizes the opportunity. Broadcasting from Italy, he calls on Croatian soldiers to mutiny. "Use your weapons against the Serbian soldiers and officers," he says, "We are fighting shoulder to shoulder with our German and Italian allies."

Overwhelmed by the Axis invasion force, the Yugoslav Army collapses and the government flees.

On 10 April German troops occupy Zagreb. The same day, Slavko Kvaternik, a retired Austro-Hungarian colonel who is the Ustase leader in Croatia, Pavelic's deputy, and commander of the armed forces, proclaims the 'Independent State of Croatia' (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska, NDH), which incorporates Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Syrmia.

Pavelic arrives in Zagreb at 5 a.m. on Tuesday 15 April, ending his 12 years of exile.

By 17 April all Yugoslav resistance to the Axis forces has been crushed. On 18 April the Yugoslav Army officially surrenders. The invaders now begin to carve up the spoils.

The Germans recognise the NDH, occupy most of Serbia and annex northern Slovenia. Italy takes southern Slovenia, and much of Dalmatia, joins Kosovo with its Albanian puppet state, and occupies Montenegro. Hungary occupies part of Vojvodina and Slovenian and Croatian border regions. Bulgaria takes Macedonia and a part of southern Serbia.

On the urging of Mussolini, the Germans agree to make Pavelic Poglavnik (Chieftain) of the NDH. Almost immediately he declares that the primary aim of his government will be the "purification" of Croatia and the elimination of "alien elements." The "ethnic cleansing" of two million Serbs, Jews, and Gipsies in the NDH now begins.

Pavelic's Ustase storm troopers employ forced religious conversion, deportation and murder to achieve their goal of an ethnically pure Croatia. Their credo is "kill a third, expel a third, and convert a third." Serbs will be required to wear armbands bearing the letter P (for Pravoslavac, or Orthodox Christian), while Jews will have to wear armbands with the letter Z (for Zidov).

The Ustase will be supported by elements of the Croatian Catholic Church, including the Archbishop of Sarajevo, Ivan Saric. Some Franciscan priests will enlist in the Ustase and participate in the violence.

The massacres begin at the Serbian village of Gudovac in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 27 April. They will continue unabated until the end of the war and result in the genocide of tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gipsies. Thousands more will flee to the relative safety of Serbia. Orthodox priests will also be targeted, with 131 out of the total of 577 practicing in the region being killed. Execution methods favoured by the Ustase included knifing and bludgeoning to death, throwing live victims from cliffs, as well as shooting.

The brutality of the Ustase violence of appals many high-ranking officers in the occupying forces. General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau, the German commander of the NDH, reports to Berlin that "according to reliable reports from countless German military and civilian observers ... the Ustasha have gone raging mad." Later he states that the "Croat revolution was by far the bloodiest and most awful among all I have seen firsthand or from afar in Europe since 1917."

The German commander of southeastern Europe calls the Ustase onslaught "a Croatian crusade of destruction." Italian commanders begin to provide civilians with protection against the Ustase, with some going so far as to ignore orders to cease the practice.

On 6 June Pavelic meets German dictator Adolf Hitler, who agrees to Pavelic's plan to expel much of the Serbian population of the NDH and replace them with Croats and Slovenes from lands annexed by the Germans. Pavelic will meet with Hitler again in November 1942.

In September 1941 an Ustase-run concentration camp is opened at Jasenovac, on the Bosnia-Herzegovina border about 90 km southeast of Zagreb. Up to 200,000 Serbs, Jews, Gipsies and political prisoners are killed at Jasenovac, which is the largest in the 26 camps established in the Balkans. Along with the Ustase, Catholic clergy staff the camp and participate in the executions.

Meanwhile, the Yugoslav resistance movement begins to coalesce around the nationalist 'Chetnik' groups and the communist-led 'Partisan' guerrillas.

Yugoslav Army Colonel Dragoljub 'Draza' Mihailovic becomes the best know of the Chetnik commanders, and in October 1941 is recognised by Britain as the leader of the Yugoslav resistance movement. In 1942 the Yugoslav government-in-exile promotes him to commander of its armed forces. Mihailovic's strategy is to avoid clashes with Axis forces and prepare for a general uprising to coincide with an invasion of the Balkans by the Allied forces of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union.

Josip Broz Tito, the secretary-general of the Yugoslavian Communist Party, leads the Partisans. Their slogan is "Death to Fascism, Freedom to the People." Tito favours direct action, and in July 1941 launches uprisings that win the Partisans control of much of the Yugoslav countryside. However, thousands of civilians are killed in Ustase reprisals.

In September 1941 Germany also hits back, warning that 100 Serb civilians will be executed for every German soldier killed by the resistance. In October about 7,000 Serbian men and boys are executed at Kragujevac in Serbia after a squadron of Germans is wiped out in an ambush. A further 1,700 are executed at Kraljevo.

Tito ignores the reprisals and continues with the Partisans' campaign, extending their attacks to the Chetnik forces, which are largely anti-communist. Mihailovic in turn targets the Partisans as the main enemy of the Chetniks. The Chetniks also begin to cooperate with the Germans and Italians to prevent a communist victory.

1942 - On 16 April Pavelic announces that a scorched earth policy will be used to combat the resistance. Under the policy, anyone in those regions of the NDH subject to resistance activity can be summarily executed.

1943 - In December British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin agree to give their full support to the Partisans, effectively marginalising the Chetniks. The Partisans' position is further strengthened in September 1944 when the exiled king calls on all Yugoslavs to back them.

1944 - The advancing Soviet Army crosses the Yugoslav border on 1 October, joining with the Partisans to liberate Belgrade on 20 October. The Red Army then moves on toward Germany, leaving the Partisans and the Western Allies to mop up the remaining Germans, Ustase, and Chetniks. The bloodiest fighting breaks out when the Partisans advance into Croatia.

1945 - The Partisans capture Sarajevo on 6 April. Ustase leaders and collaborators flee to Austria, along with regular Croatian and Slovenian troops and some Chetniks, leaving the Partisans in control of all of Yugoslavia.

On 7 May Germany surrenders unconditionally. The war in Yugoslavia ends on 15 May. It has claimed between one million and 1.7 million Yugoslav lives, or up to 11% of the pre-war population. The majority of the dead have been killed by their fellow countrymen.

The Ustase is estimated to have murdered up to 30,000 Jews, up to 29,000 Gipsies, and between 300,000 and 600,000 Serbs.

The Partisans are estimated to have killed up to 300,000 Croat refugees turned back from Austria at the start of May. The massacre of the Croats takes place near the Austrian border village of Bleiburg and during the so-called 'Way of the Cross' death marches back to Croatia that follow.

Pavelic evades the Partisans. Fleeing Zagreb on 15 April, he travels overland to Austria, and then on to Rome. He is reported to be living in the city under the protection of the Catholic Church and with the knowledge of the Allied occupational forces, who fail to arrest him even though they are provided with credible information on his whereabouts.

On 12 September 1947 the American Counterintelligence Corps office in Roman reports that "Pavelic's contacts are so high, and his present position is so compromising to the Vatican, that any extradition of Subject would deal a staggering blow to the Roman Catholic Church."

Early in 1948 Pavelic moves to a monastery near Castel Gandolfo, 25 km southeast of Rome, where he lives disguised as a priest. Later the same year Vatican operatives smuggle him to Buenos Aires in Argentina, where he revives the Ustase movement (now called Hrvatska Drzavotvorna Stranka) and acts as a security adviser to Argentine President Juan Perón. About 7,250 other members of the Ustase find refuge in Argentina between 1946 and 1948.

Meanwhile in Yugoslavia, the communists, backed by the Soviet Union, take control of the government. The Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia is proclaimed on 29 November. It comprises the republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. An ethnically mixed Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and a mostly Albanian Autonomous Region of Kosovo are created within Serbia. Tito heads the Communist Party, the government and the armed forces.

Retribution against wartime collaborators begins. Ustase members, Croatian and Slovenian collaborators and innocent refugees who had fled to Austria are captured and returned to Yugoslavia, where thousands are summarily executed by the Partisans. Thousands of Chetniks are jailed. Mihailovic and other Chetnik leaders are executed for collaboration after a show trial in 1946.

Over 200 priests and nuns charged with participating in Ustase atrocities are also executed.

In September 1946 the head of the Croatian Catholic Church, Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, is sentenced to 16 years jail for complicity with the Pavelic government. He serves five years before being released.

1957 - The Yugoslav secret police catch up with Pavelic in Argentina, organising an assassination attempt that is implemented on 9 April. Pavelic survives but is badly wounded. He subsequently flees to Spain, which is ruled by the fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

1959 - Pavelic dies in Madrid on 28 December from injuries sustained in the assassination attempt. It is later revealed that his body is secured at a secret location in Madrid waiting for the time when it can be returned to the "homeland" to lie in state in Zagreb.


1999 - Former Chetnik Blagoje Jovovic claims that it was he who fired the shots that eventually led to the death of Pavelic. Jovovic, originally from Montenegro, had emigrated to Argentina following the war.

2003 - Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro move towards reconciliation on 10 September when the presidents of both countries apologise to one another for "all the evils" done by their countries in wars. In an earlier trip to Israel the Croatian president had apologised for crimes committed by the Ustase during the Second World War.

Comment: The horror of events in the Balkans during the Second World War has been displaced in recent memory by further horrors committed there at the end of the century. But it could be argued that the genocide allegedly committed by the likes of Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic pales in comparison to that of Ante Pavelic and his fascist regime. One thing is certain - the suffering of the Serbs at the hands of the Ustase during the Second World War was and continues to be a key factor in the paranoia that informs much of their national chauvinism.

And there is legitimate cause for their concern. Pavelic has gone but the Ustase lives on. Since Pavelic's death, the movement has been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. Between 1962 and 1966, three Yugoslav diplomats were murdered by the Ustase. In 1968 a bombing attack on a theatre in Belgrade killed one person and wounded 85. The Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden was assassinated in Stockholm in 1971. The following year Ustase terrorists hijacked a Swedish airliner and successfully demanded that the ambassador's assassin be freed. The Ustase also claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Yugoslav JAT airliner flying from Denmark to Croatia in 1972. The attack killed 26.

An explosion in a storage locker at New York's La Guardia airport in December 1975 that killed 11 people and injured 75 may have been set by the Ustase. In September 1976 four Ustase agents hijacked an American TWA plane, resulting in the death of one police officer. The same year the Yugoslav embassy in Washington was bombed. In 1980 the Ustase detonated a bomb in the Statue of Liberty in New York.

More worrying still, there are many within contemporary Croatia who continue to view Pavelic as a national hero and long for a time when his goal of an ethnically pure "homeland" is finally realised. The founding of the NDH on 10 April 1941 is still openly commemorated in parts of the country, and renegade priests still give eulogies to Pavelic.