Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Av. Ricardo Balbín (ex del Tejar) 4925, Ciudad de Buenos Aires
La Misa comienza a las 11:30 horas
The Institute for Croatian Culture – Studia Croatica (established 1960) offers a Course in Croatian Language – Introductory Level. The course is given using the resources of the Internet.
It consists of a series of 30 lessons which are sent weekly to the students (7 months). The lessons are texts which contain the elements of Croatian grammar and conversation. Translations and explanations are provided in English. Lessons are sent every Monday.
The lessons include sound files, as well as exercises for the student to solve (at his own pace). The solved exercises can be sent to the instructors, who correct and return them back to the students.
The instructors will answer questions or doubts posed by the students.
The instructors are Adriana Smajic and Joza Vrljicak.
For more information, write to email@example.com
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "THE SERBO-CROATIAN LANGUAGE"
Myth: Serbs and Croatians speak a single common language known as "Serbo-Croatian."
Reality: Croatians speak Croatian, which is written with the Latin Alphabet, and Serbs speak Serbian, which is written with the Cyrillic alphabet ("Serbian Alphabet").
It became apparent by 1995 that Yugoslavia was dead. Despite that, many in the Western media and in academia kept its spirit alive by referring to a "Serbo-Croatian" language despite the fact that there never was a single "Serbo-Croatian" tongue.
The Camel and the Virgin
It is true that Serbian and Croatian are very similar, sharing personal pronouns and seven identical cases. But Serbian is written with the Cyrillic or Russian alphabet and Croatian is written with the Latin alphabet. Each has thousands of words that are totally different, including such common names as those of the months and even the words for "book" or "library." Moreover, thousands of other words have vastly different meanings in the two languages, sometimes with humorous result. A Serb referring to a nursing baby as odojce will have called the child a pig in Croatian. A Serbian railroad train, voz is a Croatian hay cart. A camel in Croatian, Deva can be the Virgin Mary in Serbian. There is no question, even by supporters of "Serbo- Croatian," that the two languages, even if taken as variants, are much less similar than Norwegian and Danish, or Flemish and Dutch among European languages.
The Language of Politics
"Serbo-Croatian" was used throughout the history of Yugoslavia as a political tool to homogenize the South Slavic peoples into a single nation; obviously without success. The very concept of a single South Slavic language can only be traced back to the mid- nineteenth century. In 1918 when the Serbian Army first occupied Croatia, one of its first tasks was to rip down every road sign, every railway station sign, every post office sign written in Croatian and replace them with signs in Serbian. In 1991, history repeated itself as the Serbian army destroyed Croatian signs in occupied Croatia and Bosnia.
The Language of Dictatorship
Under the Serbian Royal dictatorship of 1929-1934, the government did everything possible to force the Serbian language upon the peoples of Bosnia, Croatia and even Slovenia. Croatian children in Bosnia and southern Dalmatia were forced to use the Cyrillic alphabet in school. Many were prosecuted for criticizing the official "Serbo-Croatian" language. Despite that, all major Serbian and Croatian scholars, including Radosav Boskovic in 1935, Julije Bensic in 1939, Petar Guberina and Kruno Krstic in 1940, continued to recognize the separateness of the two languages.
Such modern scholars as Branko Franolic, Dalibor Broiovid, the late Francis Eterovich, Christopher Spalatin and Ivo Banac, all agreed. Professor Banac of Yale wrote "...Serbian ekavian was pushed through as Yugoslavia's official language, most often in Cyrillic garb. Nor could it have been otherwise. There was nothing neutral in the acceptance of ekavian, which was frequently the code word for the wholesale adoption of Serb linguistic practices, including Serb lexical wealth. In short, Belgrade political centralism had a parallel linguistic direction, which amounted to the infiltration of Serbian terms and forms throughout Yugoslavia by means of the military, civil administration and schools,"
The Language of the Revolution
After World War II, despite promises of the Revolution, a single "Serbo-Croatian" language was, again to quote Banac, "grafted onto Marxist ideological imperatives." The government, the Party, the military, and the media were forced to use "Serbo-Croatian," which increasingly became Serbian with Latin letters in Croatia.
The only reason that "Serbo-Croatian" existed and the only reason it was forced upon unwilling populations were the politics of an artificial Yugoslavia united by force against the will of the majority of its population. Branko Franolic wrote: "The linguistic convergence between the two languages, Croatian and Serbian, has been encouraged and hastened for political reasons by the Belgrade Federal Government which has imposed as "official language" the Serbian language already in use in the political, administrative and military spheres. Serbian has been used for political ends as a cohesive force within the "nation-state" of Yugoslavia. For that matter, the convergence between the two languages concerns not only the language but the organization and the social structure in which Serbian is the dominant language and Croatian the dominated."
The Language of the Past
Yugoslavia is dead. Neither an artiticial language, artificial borders, or a Stalinist demagogue like Slobodan Milosevic could restore the historical mistake that was Yugoslavia. Scholarly and professional organizations throughout the world have discontinued use of the term "Serbo-Croatian." Yet many in the media and academia cling to this linguistic fabrication. Each is entitled to an opinion. However, such scholars and organizations as Luka Budak, Chair of Croatian Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Ivo Banac at Yale University, the University of Zagreb, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Serbian Academy in Belgrade, assert that the language of the Croatian people is Croatian.
Many governments no longer recognize "Serbo-Croatian" as a language at all. The U.S. State Department, the Voice of America, and the U.S. Defense Language Institute, among others, all recognize Serbian and Croatian as separate languages, as do major universities large enough to have separate South Slavic language programs, such as Macquarie University in Sydney. Finally, in 1988, the International Organization for Standardization in Switzerland restored "Croatian" and "Serbian" to its listing of the world's languages. The listings had been replaced by "Serbo-Croatian" in 1970 at Belgrade's insistence.
There were still those who ignored such scholars, institutions, and governments and continued to refer to the "Serbo-Croatian" language. When the Serbian propaganda film Vukovar: Poste Restante toured North America in 1996 it was advertised as "Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles." There were also those who longed for a restored Yugoslavia. Clinging to the relics of the past did not change myth into reality.
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "BORDERS WERE DRAWN TO BENEFIT CROATIA"
Myth: Serbia's borders with Croatia and Bosnia were drawn up secretly by Tito, a Croatian, in 1943 benefiting Croatia at the expense of Serbia.
Reality: Croatia's border with Serbia is essentially the same as in 1848 and 1918, with the exception of those lands taken from Croatia and given to Serbia and Montenegro under both Yugoslav regimes.
From the launching of wars of aggression against Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia attempted to rationalize seizing the lands of others by asserting that the internal borders of the former Yugoslavia were merely administrative lines drawn after World War II. The myth is that Tito, a Croatian, drew the internal boundaries of Yugoslavia to the advantage of the Croatians and Bosnians and to the disadvantage of Serbia. The objective of the myth was to stress to the world that the borders of the former Yugoslav republics were merely administrative boundaries with no historical significance. Once this myth was taken as reality the reasoning follows that such trivial borders are subject to change, by force if need be, to favor Serbia.
Although sections of Croatia and Bosnia were governed by different branches of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, the eastern borders of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina were established in their current form with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718 and, with the exception of those places where Serbia has seized land from Croatia, those borders have changed little since 1848.
Serbia has expanded its borders after each of its numerous wars since 1813. Today Serbia controls more territory than at any time in modern history. In the north, it has annexed the lands of the Hungarians and Croatians. In the south, two hundred thousand Serbs rule over two million ethnic Albanians in the absolute police state of Kosova. Montenegro became a mere Serbian province. In the west, one half of Bosnia was sacrificed to Serbian aggression by the "Great Powers" in 1995.
The myth that Serbian lands were held by Croatia was employed by the Serbian government to launch a war of aggression to seize valuable gas and oil fields, rail and shipping corridors and port facilities. Eastern Slavonia, where Serbian aggression resulted in the complete devastation of the ancient city of Vukovar, had a Serbian population of 16.4% according to the 1991 census. Dubrovnik, which endured months of siege by Serbian forces, had a Serbian population of only 6.2% in 1991. Neither region was ever a part of Serbia.
Croatia's Ancient Borders
Like most European nations, the borders of Croatia changed over the preceding thousand years reflecting the ebbs and flows of the great empires. When King Tomislav united Pannonian and Dalmatian Croatia in 925, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus chronicled that Croatia encompassed some 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles), with a population exceeding two million, and fielded 60,000 horsemen, 100,000 foot soldiers, 80 galleys and one hundred cutters, a formidable state for tenth century Europe.
At that time, the Serbs were dominated by Bulgar Byzantine rulers and establish their first state in 1170. Serbia attained its zenith under Czar Stephen Dusan who died in 1355. His death resulted in civil war among Serbian chieftains, leading to a Turkish invasion. The Serbs suffered a staggering defeat at the battle of Kosova in 1389 and another at Smederevo in 1459. Serbia remained only as an Ottoman vassal province well into the nineteenth century when it was wholly reestablished as an self-governing state by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
Bosnia and Serbia have been separated by the River rina since Theodosius the Great deemed it so 395 A.D. boundary divided the Eastern and Western Roman Empires and was always the dividing line between East and West, Orthodoxy and Catholicism, Latin and Cyrillic. The Bosnian border, far from being a creation of Tito, is without doubt one of the oldest on earth.
The expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century also had enormous effect on the size and character of Croatia. The Croatian lands of Bosnia and Hercegovina were absorbed by the Ottomans in 1463 and 1482, diminishing Croatia to a 16,000 square mile crescent defending Europe from the Turks. In 1699, the Habsburgs regained all of Croatia and Slavonia and colonized Germans and a substantial number of fleeing Serbs into Slavonia and Vojvodina. Upon the defeat of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna incorporated Illyria into Austria.
Even when still an Ottoman principality, Serbia gained territory in 1833 and 1878, bringing its size to some 18,500 square miles. The newly established Serbian state almost immediately began to covet its neighbors' lands and developed the official slogan "Serbia must expand or die!" Serbian expansionism was first directed toward the south into Macedonia and west toward the Adriatic through Bosnia and Hercegovina. In order to thwart Serbia's westward expansion, the Austrian protectorate of Bosnia-Hercegovina was annexed to the Empire in October 1908. As various European powers took sides supporting AustriaHungary or Serbia in diplomatic and military alliances, the groundwork was laid for confrontation and the eruption of what would come to be called the First World War.
Denied Bosnia, Serbia turned to Macedonia, then a nart of the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan War of 1912 freed Macedonia from Turkey but led to a squabble over the spoils between the victors Bulgaria and Serbia. Aided by Greece and Romania, Serbia defeated Bulgaria and seized the lion's share of Macedonia and all of Kosova. Only the establishment of a new Albanian state prevented Serbia from reaching the Adriatic.
Within the Habsburg Empire
When the Croatians elected a Habsburg as their king in 1527, they did so with the understanding that the crown would honor the rights, statutes and customs of the Croatian Kingdom. While this principle was often violated by Hungary and Austria, Croatia maintained a great deal of autonomy and its ancient Sabor or Parliament and Ban or Viceroy. By 1914, the Croatians were on the verge of restoring their full political rights within the Empire.
The heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was a progressive who envisioned a new Empire based upon elevated recognition of the Kingdom of Croatia. Many historians believe that Ferdinand envisaged replacing the "Dualism" of Austria-Hungary with the "Trialism" of Austria-Hungary-Croatia or even a federal system based upon the American or Swiss model under a single benevolent Emperor. The specter of such a Croatian state, perhaps encompassing Bosnia-Hercegovina, presented a significant threat to Serbia's vision of westward expansion and a "Greater Serbia." On Serbia's National Day, June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian terrorist organization "Black Hand," assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. Princip was one of seven assassins sent by Colonel Dragutin "Apis" Dimitrijevid, Chief of lntelligence. Within weeks Europe was at war.
Serbia made no secret of its objectives in the War. As early as September 4, 1914, the Serbian government circulated a letter to all of its diplomatic missions calling the war an opportunity to establish "a strong southwest-Slav state [to] be created out of Serbia, in which all Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes would be included." Serbia was more than amenable to bargaining away Croatian lands to Italy in a secret annex to the Treaty of London in 1915 in order to fulfill the dream of a "Greater Serbia." Making use of the well intended but unelected Yugoslav Committee, Serbia with the support of the victorious Allies, annexed Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia and Montenegro in 1918 into the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Contrary to popular myth, no consent either of the Croatian or Bosnian peoples or their representatives was ever granted to form Yugoslavia. To the Serbs, the new state was "Greater Serbia," with a Serbian king, ruling from the Serbian capital with Serbian laws.
The borders of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia- Dalmatia and those of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1918 were roughly those that had been in place since 1848. In the north, Croatia acquired two small territories from Hungary, Medimurje and Baranja, but lost several coastal islands to Italy in negotiations between 1918 and 1920.
When King Alexander proclaimed himself absolute dictator and changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia in 1929, he abolished the traditional borders and reorganized the country into nine banovinas (groups of countries), named after rivers and the prefecture of Belgrade. Croatia was partitioned into the 15,649 square mile Banovina of Savska, essentially Croatia proper and Slavonia, and the 7,587 square mile Banovina of Primorska, primarily Dalmatia. While some traditionally Bosnian territory was added to Primorska Banovina, the oil and mineral rich region of Srijem, Croatian since 1718, went to the Serbian Banovina of Dunavska.
Banovina of Croatia
From 1918 through 1938, Yugoslavia had thirty-five governments with a total of 656 ministers. Only twenty-six had been Croatians. The top-heavy Army had 161 generals. One, in charge of supply, was a Croatian. In the elections of December 1938, the Croatian Peasant Party and its leader Vladko Macek were defeated by a very close count of 1,364,524 to 1,643,783 for the royalist government. Given the fraud and terrorism common to all Yugoslav elections, it was apparent that the Peasant Party had won a stunning victory. Even government figures confirmed that over 650,000 Serbs had voted for Macek. Despite this, the Stojadinovic government refused to recognize the results or form a coalition government. Confronted with the threat of armed insurrection, Prince Paul sacked Stojadinovic and replaced him with Dragisa Cvetkovid. He was a former mayor of Nis and a person open to negotiation concerning the "Croatian Question." The result was the Sporazum or "Agreement" of August 26, 1939 which formed the semi-autonomous Banovina of Croatia covering 38,600 square miles with a population of almost four and one-half million, 80 per cent of whom were Croatian. The new Croatian Banovina was connected to Yugoslavia only in matters of defense, foreign relations and a common postal system. Its borders included all of the two previous Banovinas, portions of western Bosnia and a portion of western Hercegovina. Eastern Srijem and the strategic bay of Kotor with the southernmost tip of Dalmatia remained in Serbian hands.
The Independent State of Croatia
The formation of the Banovina of Croatia was a gesture that could have saved Yugoslavia in 1918, but coming only a week before the outbreak of World War II, it was simply too little, much too late. When Yugoslavia disintegrated at the first sign of German troops, a new Independent State of Croatia (NDH), was established on April 10, 1941. Its borders, which incorporated Bosnia-Hercegovina, were finalized by the Treaty of Rome on May 18. While Germany was willing to recognize the pre-1918 borders of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the new state, Italy demanded and received most of the Dalmatian coast and established an occupation zone comprising almost one third of the country. The NDH covered some 46,300 square miles with a population of 6,750,000. Internally the state was divided into 23 prefects or velike zupe which were further divided into 142 districts and cities. Although Italian Dalmatia technically reverted back to the NDH upon the fall of Italy in 1943, much of the region was in Partizan control for the remainder of War.
The Second Yugoslavia
Tens of thousands of Croatians fought and died in the Croatian Partizan brigades that began the Liberation War under Josip Tito on June 22, 1941. The Partizans promised a new Croatian Republic, with full rights and autonomy, within a new federated Yugoslavia.
After the Partizan victory, a commission was instituted to determine the borders of the new Yugoslav state. That commission was headed by Milovan Djilas, a Serb from Montenegro, and included ministers from Serbia, Croatia and Vojvodina. In the west, Croatia recovered all of Italian Dalmatia, including Zadar and Istria. After years of negotiations, the border was finalized in 1954, with Croatia gaining most of Istria, the city of Zadar and those islands occupied by Italy between the World Wars. In the south, the commission gave Montenegro access to the sea by removing the port of Kotor and the surrounding districts from Croatia. In the north Croatia's border returned to its pre-war configuration with the inclusion of Medjimurje and Baranja which had been Hungarian prior to 1918 and which had been seized by Hungary during World War II.
The borders of the Banovina of Croatia included a great deal of territory traditionally part of Bosnia-Hercegovina, including the cities of Travnik and Mostar. In 1945 the border was returned to 1918 boundaries with minor adjustments in the Bihac area where a number of Croatian villages were given to Bosnia-Hercegovina. But it was on the border with Serbia that Croatia would endure its greatest territorial loss in 1945. The oil and mineral rich eastern Srijem region, with the city of Zemun, Croatian territory since 1718, but partitioned by Alexander in 1929, was joined to Serbian Vojvodina. In the Serbian wars of aggression of 1991-1995, Serbia attempted to seize even more of eastern Slavonia while Croatia made no territorial claim to Srijem.
The Republic of Croatia
The Croatian people declared themselves to be free and independent on June 25, 1991. One year later, virtually the entire world had recognized Croatia within the borders designated in 1945. The overwhelming majority of Croatia's twelve hundred mile border is based upon ancient boundaries that Croatia brought with her into Yugoslavia in 1918. In those areas where the borders were changed, Serbia gained and Croatia lost. Despite this fundamental reality, the Republic of Croatia made no territorial claims against any other nation. Since 1813, Serbia and Serbia alone has constantly expanded in its quest of a "Greater Serbia" stretching from Bulgaria to the Adriatic Sea. It is a quest that has cost the lives of millions over the past century and one-half and caused the most brutal war in Europe since World War II. As in the previous wars of Serbian aggression, Serbia was rewarded for its brutality as one-half of Bosnia was given to Greater Serbia in 1995 through the Dayton partition.
Serbia's Unquenchable Thirst
Even with this prize, Serbia's unquenchable thirst for the lands of others was not satiated. After the Dayton partition was signed and sealed, "Yugoslavia" as "Greater Serbia" still called itself, laid claim to the tiny isthmus or prevlaka of Ogtra, a spit of land only 170 meters wide at the entry to the harbor of Boka, Montenegro. All of the harbor and the land around it was Croatian for centuries, but the harbor itself was given to Montenegro after World War II, and its Croatian population (a majority in 1945) was driven out. In 1996, just as in 1918, the so-called "Great Powers" could not comprehend why Croatia would want to keep its lands out of Serbian hands and urged "negotiations" to mediate the "dispute." Prevlaka was a part of the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) from the fifteenth century until 1808 and a part of Dalmatia since. In all of history, it was never a part of Montenegro or Serbia. But having stolen the Bay of Kotor in 1949 and driven out its majority Croatian population in the years following, the small peninsula was seen as a threat to the security of the natural harbor that is home to the "Yugoslav" Navy.
The reality is that neither in the twentieth century nor in the past, has Serbia lost one square kilometer, on a map or on the ground, to Bosnia or Croatia. Serbia's dream of a "Greater Serbia" became a nightmare for the fourth time in the twentieth century. It is time for such myths about Croatian and Bosnian borders attempting to justify that nightmare to be put to rest.
Croatia: Myth and Reality (19) - C. Michael McAdams - Myth: "There was no Retribution Against the Croatians"
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "THERE WAS NO RETRIBUTION AGAINST THE CROATIANS AFTER WORLD WAR II "
Myth: Because Tito was a Croatian, no retribution was taken against Croatian officials, soldiers or civilians after World War II by the victorious communists.
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, Serbian apologists gave new currency to this story in the world press during the Croatian war for independence of 1991-1995.
Until the mid 1990s, the post-war massacres of Croatians were almost unknown outside the Croatian community. To many Croatians, the single word "Bleiburg" summarizes the pain endured by a nation, The Bleiburg-Maribor massacres were 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. Tolstoy's account of how one British officer was implicated, so outraged the British authorities that Tolstoy was sued for millions and the book was banned. 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 communists 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, just as they did in 1989.
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 traveled 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 Partizans and each other. Many surrendered; others fought to the death.
Retreat from Zagreb
The retreating German Army, usually without bothering to inform its erstwhile allies, took with it much of the material support for the Croatian armed forces. Despite conditions, several Croatian generals wanted to defend the city of Zagreb from the Partizan advance and fight to the finish if necessary. The communists 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, the Croatians felt that at worst they would be treated as prisoners of war.
The exodus from Zagreb began on May first. Two hundred thousand civilians were flanked by two hundred thousand soldiers. Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac took charge of the government for the few hours until the arrival of the Partizan army. Minister Vrancic was dispatched to Italy as a peace emissary, and several highranking 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 arnved safely at the Austrian border by May seventh. A number of military units remained behind to fight delaying actions as late as May twelfth. Still other units, known as Krizari or "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, some Serbs and even a few Cetniks, 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 traveled 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 a 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 pad them thrown into a POW camp and confiscated the and Betraya in the belief that their envoys had made some engagement 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 onto a train and returned to the communists 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, some 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, probably of poisoning by the secret police, 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 communist 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 Ustase 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 escaped only to be gunned down by an assassin in 1957. Even the memory of those anti-Partizans who had died in combat during the war would disappear as every non- Partizan military cemetery in Croatia was plowed under. In 1996 Croatian President Franjo Tudjman suggested that a memorial to those who were slaughtered after the war be dedicated at Jasenovac. This was the site of a concentration camp run during the War by the Ustases, and after the war by the communists, where a huge memorial was erected to the "Victims of Fascism." The suggestion was met with an outcry in the international media. Far from being a gesture of reconciliation among the Croatian people, as Tudjman intended, it was seen as an affront to those already memorialized.
Denial and Discovery
The total number of people liquidated may never be known, but figures of one hundred to one hundred and eighty thousand have been voiced by some, up to onequarter 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. With the departure of the communist regime in 1990, the truth began to come to light. In caverns in Slovenia and Croatia, researchers using spelunker's equipment descended into the mass graves long before sealed. They found layer upon layer of human bones, crutches, rope, and wire used to bind the victims. 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, other mass graves were reported throughout Croatia and Slovenia. No one 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. In May of 1994, an international symposium was held in Zagreb to explore the Bleiburg Massacres, and in May of 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of Bleiburg, scholars from around the world gathered again in Zagreb and at Bleiburg to set about the formal process of determining how many perished. Since every marked grave was destroyed; it presented a difficult undertaking requiring years of grizzly exploration and detailed research.
In 1996, the world's attention turned to more recent war crimes as new mass graves were found throughout Bosnia and Croatia and the Bleiburg massacres were again relegated to history in the Western press. The crimes of 1945, like those of 1995, will no doubt go unpunished. Whatever the final result, it will never again be said that Croatia did not suffer in post-war Yugoslavia.
Croatia: Myth and Reality (18) - C. Michael McAdams - Myth: "The Croatians Executed Dozens of American Airmen"
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "THE CROATIANS EXECUTED DOZENS OF AMERICAN AIRMEN"
Myth: The Croatian government during World War II had a policy of executing downed Allied airmen and dozens of Americans were executed by the Croatians during the War.
Reality: The wartime NDH Croatian government, signatory to the Geneva Conventions, had no policy of executing captured airmen of any nationality. No American airman was executed by the NDH Croatian government during World War II. There is considerable evidence that Allied prisoners of war in Croatia were very well treated in captivity. As many as 1600 American airmen were rescued by Croatian and Bosnian Partizans and returned to service. Almost unique among myths, it is possible to actually trace the origin of this story back to its source; "the Balkan Intelligence Chief."
At INS headquarters in Los Angeles, kept under lock and key and marked "secret" is the file of Andrija Artukovic....According to the testimony of one American Intelligence chief in the Balkans section during the Second World War, he also approved orders that sent dozens of American pilots to firing squads
The preceding quotation made its international debut in the December 1973 issue of Reader's Digest magazine. No author or source was given. Like most myths, it took on a life of its own and more recent versions have added the "official policy of the Croatian government."
When asked to name the "American Intelligence chief' or cite their sources, the editors of Reader's Digest first claimed that the article had been "carefully checked by our research and legal departments and we believe they found adequate support for a.ll the factual statements." Despite hundreds of requests from scholars, political leaders, the media-watch organization Accuracy in Media, and others, the magazine was never able to produce the name of the intelligence officer or any evidence that a single American was executed by the Croatian NDH government during the War.
By April of 1974, Reader's Digest began refernng all inquires to their legal department. Finally on March 25, 1974 the editors, responding to a formal request by California State Assemblyman Doug Carter, admitted that the charges were "claims and allegations, not necessarily fully documented facts."
The "Balkan Intelligence Chief"
The myth did not originate with the Reader's Digest in 1973. The identity of the "Balkan Intelligence Chief" can be traced back to the June 26, 1958 edition of a small California newspaper, the Palos Verdes News when John J. Knezevich, its Serbian-American publisher wrote:
During the last war, I was head of the Balkin (sic) section of the United States Army and Navy Joint Intelligence Collection Agency...I know whereof I am speaking."
Knezevich went on to accuse World War II Croatian cabinet minister Artukovic of no fewer than 740,000 deaths, including the deaths of "dozens of American pilots." This was not Knezevich's first article on the subject. He had made the charges in his newspaper as early as May 17, 1951. Whether Mr. Knezevich held any post with the intelligence community during World War II is not known. However, it seems implausible that a Chief of Balkan intelligence would have consistently misspelled the word "Balkin" in all of his writings. What is known about Knezevich is that he was active in several Serbian organizations in southern California and was active in a number of anti-Croatian and anti-Catholic movements of the 1950s. His newspaper column "Review of Events" was a regular front-page feature, often filled with anti- Tito, anti-communist, antiCroatian, and anti-Catholic propaganda.
Knezevich is first mentioned in the extradition case of Andrija Artukovic, a wartime Croatian cabinet minister wanted by communist Yugoslavia for crimes against the state. On May 8, 1951, Knezevich asked to appear in camera before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Examiner. He presented "confidential" information that he had seen documents signed by Artukovic ordering the execution of dozens of pilots. Under examination however, Knezevich refused to state whether he had ever been anywhere in the Balkans during the War; what he had done, if anything, in the military; and generally refused to answer direct questions.
The INS Examiner discounted his testimony and none of it was ever presented. Nor was the charge concerning American pilots ever mentioned in any future proceedings in the United States or Yugoslavia from 1951 until 1986. Obviously, the American and Yugoslav governments would not have passed up such an important witness or such a charge had they found the slightest shred of evidence to support his story.
Knezevich penned the final chapter of the story on July 24, 1958, when he listed all of the charges that he had made against Artukovic, including the execution of American pilots. He wrote: "Inasmuch as neither the writer or publisher are in a position to prove independently the truth or falsity of these assertions, they are all and singularly retracted. (signed) Palos Verdes News John J. Knezevich." Knezevich died in 1965.
The Airmen and the Baroness
Learning the realities of the fate of American airmen in Croatia during World War II proved even more interesting than uncovering the source of the mythology. Between the years of 1973 and 1979, this author undertook primary and secondary research into the subject which resulted in a monograph titled Allied Prisoners of War in Croatia 19411945. Fewer than one hundred airmen, American, British, Russian, South African, and Partizan, were held by the Croatian government during the War. The myth that "dozens" or twenty-five per cent, were executed was significant.
Over several years, the author was able to locate ten Americans who had been prisoners-of-war in Croatia. They were interviewed and surveyed, as were guards, the American-born priest who celebrated Mass, and others who were present at the estate of the Baroness Nikolic which served as the prisoner-of-war "camp" on the outskirts of Zagreb.
It was learned that the estate at 203 Pantovcak in Zagreb had no fence. Visitors were welcomed and some prisoners visited a nearby tavern until German soldiers visited the same establishment. Prisoners- of-war had a radio and listened to U.S. Armed Forces radio, and the camp tennis champion was Frank Ryan of Sommerville, New Jersey. Ironically the same site was fenced and well guarded during the 1991-1995 war as the official office of the president of Croatia. Baroness Nikolic considered the airmen her guests and afforded them the best treatment and food available given the wartime conditions, including a generous wine ration. Several prisoners worked in the villa's vineyards records were kept of all such work so that they could be paid after the war as provided for by Geneva Conventions. Given the chaotic state at the end of the war, the sirmen were given vouchers instead of cash. One former prisoner, a guest of honor at a Los Angeles Croatian Day celebration in 1979, still had his voucher and vowed to cash it in when Croatia became independent.
Often the Croatian Red Cross provided the airmen such luxuries as chocolate and cigarettes that were unavailable to the average Croatian soldier. While wounded or ill Croatian soldiers could expect little more than meager supplies in field first aid stations, American flyers were treated at Zagreb's finest hospital and there is photographic evidence of visits to them by Croatian Chief of State Pavelic and other officials.
Americans Helping Croatians
In early 1945 an attempt was made to evacuate American pilots from what was soon to be a war zone. Croatian Air Force General Rubcic saw to it that twelve American pilots were trained in the use of Croatian planes, which tepresented the last hope for the air defense of Croatia's capital. After familiarization on the collection of German, Italian, French, and British manufactured aircraft, fourteen Americans and one Croatian liaison officer flew to Italy. There they tried to convince American forces to land on the Dalmatian coast and meet the Red Army at the Drina tiver.
In 1943, Croatian Lt. Colonel Ivan Babic had flown a similar mission to American occupied Italy to suggest to the Americans that such an invasion would meet no resistance and that the Croatian Army would even establish a beachhead for them. The American command knew that the Dalmatian coast was Hitler's great weakness and that such an attack could split the German armies. Neither the Croatian nor American commanders knew that Yugoslavia had been designated as within the Soviet sphere. Allied forces continued to fight and die moving up the boot of Italy. Babic, working secretly for the Croatian Peasant Party, was thrown into a British prison for his efforts.
Other Americans offered their services to the Croatians in order to try to save Croatian troops from the communists. Lt. Edward J. Benkoski, pilot of the P-38 fighter "Butch," joined Englishman Rodney Woods and John Gray, a Scot, in attempting to negotiate for the Croatians in May 1945. Another American officer accompanied Croatian officials to negotiations at Bleiburg, Austria, at the end of the war to keep Croatians from being returned to certain death in Yugoslavia. They failed. The Americanborn priest Theodore Benkovic who often celebrated Mass for the airmen wrote:
Despite constant American bombings, the Croatians bore no hatred toward the Americans, for in a fatalistic way they held it to be necessary. I saw my countrymen held captive in Mostar, how the people treated them well, even offering the American flyers the few cigarettes they possessed; how they begged me to make known to my countrymen of their hope of liberation by the Americans. None of the airmen interviewed or surveyed recalled any instance of mistreatment and some provided documentary and photographic evidence of very close personal relationships with Croatian officers and members of the Croatian Red Cross. The study failed to find the name of any Allied prisoner-of-war who was executed and found no "official policy" of executing airmen. Some airmen did recall that they were warned in pre- flight briefings that they would be executed if captured by the Croatians. That information was supplied by Mihailovic's Cetnik who were paid in gold for each airman returned to the Allies.
In January 1966, the Baroness Nikolic visited the United States to attend a showing of her art works. Several of her former "prisoners" welcomed her to Cleveland. One, Gene Keck of Washta, Iowa, traveled nine hundred miles by bus to see her again. "She's my second mother...I was her baby when we were on her estate in Zagreb." Often the mythology is diametrically opposite of the reality.
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "THE BASKET OF HUMAN EYEBALLS"
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 1995 in official publications printed in Belgrade by the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia and repeated by naive journalists around the world. 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. 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.
Castertano 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 usatshis. Forty pounds of human eyes."
Kaputt and its author both had fascinating stories to tell. In the original press release for the book, Malaparte ed that the manuscript was started in the Ukraine in 1941 and smuggled throughout Europe in 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 claimed to have 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.
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 as antiGerman. 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 conipleted Kaputt, which he described as "...horribly gay and gruesome."
The critics agreed. Malaparte's two major books, Kaputt and Skin were 5 labeled "Best selling Nausea" by Time magazine. His writings contained pages 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 Ench 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 travelled to Ethiopia in 1939. What happened after that depends upon which "Malaparte" is read. The world-travelling 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 Pavelic 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." 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.
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," Malaparte gushed.
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 preventative 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," 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. 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 to be seen or any conversation regarding a basket. 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 of the basket of human eyeballs was fiction. Thus Curzio Malaparte and his unpleasant fiction were relegated to the dust bin of literary story in all of the world except Belgrade.
Monday, 22 November 2010
Croatia: Myth and Reality (15) - C. Michael McAdams - Myth: "All Croatians were Fascists during WWII; All Serbs were Pro-Allied"
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "ALL CROATIANS WERE FASCISTS DURING WORLD WAR II; ALL SERBS WERE PRO-ALLIED "
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: Like virtually every country on the European continent during World War II, both Croatia and Serbia had governments which collaborated with the Axis. All of the nations of Yugoslavia had elements which supported the Axis, and all had elements that were anti-Axis. However, it was the Croatian dominated Partizans, led by the Croatian Josip Broz Tito which formed the only true antiFascist 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 StojadinoviE.
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 throne. 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.
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." Simovic believed that his close personal friendship with several top Nazis, especially Reichmarschall Goring, would save the day. His error led to a German invasion on April 6.
Before seeing a single German soldier, the Serbian-led army withdrew from Slovenia and Croatia to defend Serbia, leaving the Croatians and Slovenes without supplies or ammunition. Most Croatian soldiers simply went home. The Yugoslav military disintegrated at first sight of the Germans as 100 of 135 generals in the top-heavy Serbian officer corps surrendered during the first week. Belgrade 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 sale 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 (NDH) 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 Cetnik who wanted to restore the Serbian monarchy and the Communist-led Partizans, the Croatian State joined the Axis and later sent troops to the Russian front where thousands died at Stalingrad. 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 Hercegovina 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 ot the Croatian Domobran (regular Army separate from the Ustase) 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 spneres of influence. Rovsevelt cancelled 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 Cetnik
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 Cetnik which had existed as an all-Serbian para-military police force under Alexander and Paul to enforce loyalty from non-Serbian members of the armed forces.
When Yugoslavia disintegrated, one faction of Cetnik 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 Partizans 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.
Still other Cetnik 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 Cetnik were inflicting great damage on the Axis, the Cetnik did little for the war effort and openly collaborated with the Germans and Italians while fighting the Ustase and Partizans. At its peak, Mihailovid's Cetnik claimed to have three hundred thousand troops. In fact they never numbered over thirty-one thousand. By February 1943 the Western Allies condemned the Cetnik as collaborators and threw their support to the Partizans. Mihailovic was executed in 1946 for treason. Ironically, his son and daughter Branko and Gordana went over to the Partizans in 1943 and both publicly supported their father's execution after the war. The extent of Cemik collaboration with the German and Italian armies as well as their vicious war against the pro-Allied Partizans is well documented in dozens of books, including Professor J. Tomasevich's scholarly and definitive work The Chemiks.
The Partizans, 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 Partizans and represented the majority of its brigades. On June 22, 1941, Croatian Partizans in the Brezavica Woods near Sisak launched what would come to be known as the War of Liberation in Yu oslavia. The date remains a national holiday in Croatia and is celebrated as the "Day of the Anti-Fascist Uprising." On July 13, 1943, a Democratic Republic of Croatia under the leadership of Andrija Hebrang was declared in those areas occupied by the Croatian Partizan forces. As the war progressed more and more Croatians, especially from Dalmatia, joined the Partizans. 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 Partizans were the only recognized Allied force fighting in Yugoslavia.
In many countries after the War, the numbers and deeds of resistance fighters grew more and more impressive as the years passed. For example, the famed French Resistance existed primarily in Hollywood where studios released film after film about the underground which was virtually nonexistent in Vichy France. In post-war Yugoslavia the deeds of the Partizans took on mythical proportions as monuments to the heroes of the Liberation War were erected in every village. As more and more benefits were announced for veterans, more and more veterans appeared. Exiled Cetnik claimed that it was they, not the Partizans, who held down "dozens" of Nazi divisions. Depending on which source was cited, up to twenty "crack" Nazi divisions were tied down in Yugoslavia. The numbers were cited frequently by politicians and even military "experts" opposing intervention to stop Serbian aggression in the 1990s.
Although the official Partizan history lists thirtytwo German divisions, there were never twenty or even twelve full German divisions in all of Yugoslavia during World War II. After the initial invasion, Italy occupied or annexed one third of Croatia and a few German units remained in the NDH. None could be considered elite.
Three "German" divisions, the 369th, 373rd and 392nd Infantry Divisions in Croatia and Bosnia were in fact manned by Croatian soldiers with Volksdeutsche ethnic German officers. Attempts to form a Bosnian Muslim division failed when the conscripts revolted against the Germans at a training base south of Le Puy, France in September 1943. It was the only large-scale mutiny within the German army during the War.
The only unit that might be considered "elite" in name only, was the 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs- Division "Prinz Eugen, " (7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division). Despite its name, it never reached division strength, its ranks consisted primarily of Volksdeutsche conscripted from Yugoslavia's 700,000 ethnic Germans, and its commanding officer was a general in the Rumanian Army. The "Division's" weapons and vehicles came from captured stores or were appropriated from the postal service.
[Popular myth, especially in film, depicts the SS as an elite force of dedicated Nazi volunteers of pure Germanic blood. That was largely true in 1939, but because the SS could not draft within Germany, most SS divisions were manned by conscripted non-Germans by 1944. By War's end, Indians wearing turbans, Muslims in fezes, and Vietnamese former French Foreign Legionnaires could be found in the "elite" Waffen-SS!]
The complexities of World War II saw Croatian fighting Croatian, Serb fighting Serb, and both fighting each other as well as German, Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces. Both Serbia and Croatia, like Finland, Hungary, France and virtually every other nation in Europe had governments which collaborated with the Axis.
Both Croatia and Serbia also had Partizan governments fighting for the Allies. A half century later Germany and Japan were again great world powers and Italy was a full partner in the European community while Croatia, having been occupied by Germany and Italy, continued to be tarred with the brush of fascism. Unlike many other European countries, Croatia attempted to deal with the realities of its past. At the commemoration events marking the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995, a wreath was laid at the Oltar Domovine, the monument to fallen Partizans and at the graves of the leaders of the anti-fascist movement. The following week a ceremony commemorated those who were killed by the communists in the post-War Bleiburg Massacres. Finally, a ceremony was held at Jacenovac the sits of a concentration camp run during the war by the NHD and for two years after the war by the communists. On Croatia's National Day in May of 1995, for the 1st time, World War II veterans of Croatia's Domobrans and Partizans marched side-by- side in a parade. The Second World War had finally ended in Croatia.
Croatia: Myth and Reality (14) - C. Michael McAdams - Myth: "A Croatian Ustase Terrorist Assassinated King Alexander"
CROATIA: MYTH AND REALITY
C. Michael McAdams
MYTH: "A CROATIAN USTASE TERRORIST ASSASSINATED KING ALEXANDER"
Myth: King Alexander Karageorgevic was assassinated by a Croatian Ustase terrorist. In an interesting anti-Catholic twist, John Soso, writing in the Hayward, California Daily Review, declared that the Croatian assassin fled to and was harbored by the Vatican.
Reality: King Alexander Karageorgevic was assassinated by a Macedonian named Vlada Gheorghieff, a member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Gheorghieff did not flee to the Vatican. He was attacked on the spot by French police and died the evening of the assassination.
This myth was one of the first to be cultivated by Serbian disinformation artists almost immediately after Alexander's death in 1934. Despite the fact that this was the first assassination to be captured on motion picture film and the identity of the gunman was known throughout the world, the "Croatian assassin" myth can be found in encyclopedias and otherwise scholarly works.
The story of Alexander's death began years earlier when the Croatian pacifist leader Stjepan Radic and four other Croatian leaders were gunned down by a Serbian Deputy on the floor of Parliament. Alexander followed this blow by declaring himself King Dictator on January 6, 1929, abolishing any pretense of constitutionality. Using murder as an instrument of government, he outlawed all political parties, began persecution of Jews and quickly became one of the most hated dictators in Europe. When the famed Croatian intellectual Milan Sufflay was brutally murdered by Alexander's secret police, even Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann joined in the international chorus of condemnation of the regime writing in New York Times of May 6, 1931:
The facts show that cruelty and brutality practiced upon the Croatians only increase...Murder as a political weapon must not be tolerated and political Serbian murderers must not be made national heros.
By 1934, more than 19,000 Croatians had been sentenced to prison for up to twenty years or more and over two hundred had received the death penalty for violations of the draconian catch-all decree known as the "Act for Defense of the Realm." Hundreds more "committed suicide," died of illness in prison or were shot by gendarmes in the "suppression of rebellion." Montenegrins, Slovenes, Macedonians and even democratic Serbs did not fair much better under Alexander's despotic rule.
Having removed all peaceful options for change, Alexander, like Hitler and Mussolini, lived in fear for his life with good cause. From the founding of Serbia in 1804 to the founding of Yugoslavia in 1918, there were eleven reigns. Over this 114 year period the average reign was less than ten years. Of all rulers in Serbian history, only two, Milos and Petar I, died on the throne of natural deaths, and both of them had come to power after being in exile.
The Karageorgevic dynasty was founded by Karageorge ("Black George") Petrovic, a pig farmer who by his own admission killed 125 men with his own hands, his stepfather and brother among them. He was killed by Milos in 1817. Black George's son Alexander returned to the throne in 1842 but was deposed by the rival Obrenovic "dynasty" and died in exile in 1885. Alexander Obrenovic and his queen were in turn murdered in 1903 by Petar I, father of Alexander of Yugoslavia. Alexander came to power only because his older brother Prince George murdered his valet and was forced to renounce his claim to the throne.
The legacy of Serbia's kings, the oppression of Yugoslavia's nationalities and the wrath of those who escaped it came together on October 9, 1934 when the Yugoslav cruiser Dubrovnik steamed into the port of Marseilles, France with Alexander on board. Under his tight-fitting Navy admiral's unifom the King wore his customary bullet-proof vest. Because of the size of the Dubrovnik, the ship anchored in the bay and Alexander came ashore on a smaller boat, leaving most of his ninty-man bodyguard behind. Alexander had been on French soil less than five minutes when Vlada Gheorghieff mounted the running board of Alexander's car and opened fire with a twenty round Mauser machine pistol, killing the King, French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou and two bystanders. Gheorghieff, a Macedonian by birth and a Bulgarian citizen, was a member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization which sought to free Macedonia from Yugoslavia. French Colonel Piolet, mounted on horseback beside the car, immediately drew his saber and attacked Gheorghieff who died later that evening. The famed French defender Georges Desbonnes later recalled that "out of respect for His Majesty, the physicians did not examine the king's whole upper torso, missing at first the mortal wound through Alexander's back.
The entire event was captured on film and covered by dozens of journalists and witnessed by hundreds of people. Alexander was among the most hated and feared dictators in Europe and a half-dozen or more other would be assassins of various nationalities were waiting in Marseilles that day. Because Alexander's mortal wound was in his back, and Gheorghieff at his front, Georges Desbonnes was sure that a bullet from one of Alexander's wildly firing bodyguards actually killed him. In any event, there is no historical question that a Macedonian-born Bulgarian citizen and member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Movement by the name of Vlada Gheorghieff mounted the running board, pulled the trigger, was struck down on the spot, died in custody that evening and was laid to rest in a Marseilles cemetery in the presence of two detectives and a grave digger.
Picture:Vlada Gheorghieff, a member of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization is struck down by Capt. Piolet, on horseback, moments after assassination of Alexander. The assassination was the first to be captured on motion picture film.