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The suppressed history of the Holocaust in...

For the first time on the Internet, the article “Croatia” transcribed from Yad Vashem’s Encyclopedia of the Holocaust; also from the same source, the article “Jasenovac,” on Croatia’s main death camp. 

[1 January 2007]
- For Nissan -

* Table of Contents *

I. Introductory note
by Jared Israel
Edited by Samantha Criscione

Summary: Why the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust articles on Croatia and Jasenovac are key documents that the US and German (and Croatian) governments and the Vatican kindly request you don’t read.

I.1 The Croatian Government’s Holocaust-Denying Exhibition at the Jasenovac Death Camp

Summary: This Box substantiates the charge that the media suppresses evidence of Croatian leaders' fascist views, evidence belying their claim to have rejected Croatia's Ustasha past. It argues that the Croatian government's newly opened exhibition at the Jasenovac death camp is a fraud, and exposes the tragic use of Serbian, Jewish and Roma (‘Gypsy’) groups to hide the Holocaust-denying character of the exhibit.

I.2 How the US State Department Misuses Washington's Holocaust Museum to Market Holocaust Denial

Summary: This Box presents evidence that Washington’s Holocaust Museum, which is playing a major role in the legitimization of Croatia’s Holocaust-denying spin, is a tool of the US foreign policy establishment.

II. Croatia
by Menachem Shelah 

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
, Jerusalem/Tel Aviv, 1990; English translation, New York/London, pp. 323-329.

II.1 Serbian Minority

II.2 Jews

II.2.1 Anti-Jewish legislation

II.2.2 Roundup, incarceration and murder

German role in deportation and extermination

Italian protection

II.3 Catholic Church

II.4 [Jewish] Communities

III. Jasenovac
by Menachem Shelah 

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Jerusalem/Tel Aviv, 1990; English translation, New York/London, pp. 739-740.


 I. The articles on Croatia and Jasenovac, key documents that the US and German (and Croatian) governments and the Vatican kindly request you don’t read

by Jared Israel
Edited by Samantha Criscione

With the 27 November 2006 opening of a Croatian government exhibition at the site of Jasenovac, the Croatian Ustashe’s Holocaust death camp, an exhibition that fundamentally denies Croatia’s Holocaust [see box I.1, below], I have received a number of emails asking, ‘Who are the Croatian Ustashe’?  People know little about the Ustashe (singular: Ustasha) because the history of the Holocaust in Croatia has been suppressed. It was minimized by the Yugoslav government of Marshall Tito, for political reasons; it has been outright falsified by the Vatican for sixty-one years, primarily to whitewash its role. In this effort, the Vatican has been assisted, especially since the 1980s, by the power of the US, German and other Western foreign policy establishments, as well as most of the world media, various foundations and universities. 

Why would powerful forces go to such great lengths to distort the facts about events that took place half a century ago in the Balkans?

To help people evaluate this accusation TENC is publishing a number of documents, some of which have been suppressed, or are unavailable on the internet. All cast light not only on the Croatian Ustashe and their political heirs, but also on the ubiquitous effort to rewrite the history of the Holocaust in Yugoslavia.

The first document is the article “Croatia,” which TENC scanned and transcribed from the 1990 edition of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Published for the first time on the internet, it contradicts positions pushed by leaders of the U.S. and German governments and government-linked institutions, including the Holocaust Museum in Washington (which, contrary to the general impression, is controlled by the US government, not by Jewish organizations [see box I.2, below] ) and Germany’s worldwide cultural agency, the Goethe-Institut. Despite cautious wording, the article indicts the Croatian Catholic church and the Vatican for active participation in the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Serbs as well as most of the Jewish and Roma (‘Gypsy’) populations in the Ustasha’s greater Croatia, which included modern Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In my opinion, the data it presents support the conclusion that, by the summer of 1941, if not before, Pope Pius XII had to know the Germans were preparing to murder much if not all of the European Jewish population, had to know this early enough to have derailed or at least greatly disrupted Nazi plans.

The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust article “Croatia” is followed by its article “Jasenovac,” which includes data that flatly contradict the line of the Croatian government's recently opened exhibit at the site of the Jasenovac extermination camp. The exhibit is discussed in box I.1 immediately below.

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes

* * *

I.1 The Croatian Government’s Holocaust-Denying Exhibition at the Jasenovac Death Camp

Here is some background needed to understand the terrible significance of the 27 November 2006 opening of the Croatian government’s exhibition at the site of the Jasenovac death camp in Western Slavonia, which territory was seized by Croatia in a military blitz in May 1995.

In June 1991, the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, under the domination of the HDZ (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica or Croatian Democratic Union), led by Franjo Tudjman and by Stjepan Mesic (who is now president of Croatia), launched a war of secession that helped destroy Yugoslavia. The HDZ revived symbols and policies of the notorious Croatian Ustasha, a movement inspired by fanatical Catholicism and directed against “foreign elements” (meaning primarily Serbs). In April 1941 the Ustashe had formed the first Independent State of Croatia, in which they committed mass murder of Slavs (in this case, Serbs), Jews, and Roma (‘Gypsies’) on a par with their German Nazi allies. (See Encyclopedia of the Holocaust article on Croatia, below.) In launching the second Independent Croatia in 1991, Tudjman, Mesic and their associates minimized or denied Ustasha crimes, at the same time mobilizing the Ustasha apparatus and mass base that had flourished in the Croatian Diaspora since the Ustashe’s World War II defeat. The Serbian charges that Croatia was resurrecting Ustasha politics and policies, particularly the Ustasha attempt to make Croatia and Bosnia serbenrein, and that the HDZ was recruiting Ustasha personnel from the Diaspora, were mocked by the world media, which has for the most part suppressed the evidence linking modern Croatia to its Ustasha past. 

An example of the evidence that the current Croatian leaders are Ustashe and that this evidence is being suppressed: a video was posted on the Internet and then broadcast on 9 December 2006 on prime time Croatian Television, in which the current president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, can be seen addressing a crowd of Australian-Croatians in the early 1990s, saying:

“‘You see, in the Second World War, the Croats won twice and we have no reason to apologise to anyone. What they ask of the Croats the whole time,’ Go kneel in Jasenovac, kneel here...’ We don’t have to kneel in front of anyone for anything! We won twice and all the others only once. We won on 10 April when the Axis Powers recognized Croatia as a state and we won because we sat after the war, again with the winners, at the winning table.’”

--Croatian leader’s alleged speech glorifying WW2 pro-Nazi state widely condemned, Text of report in English by Croatian news agency HINA, BBC Monitoring Europe - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, December 10, 2006 Sunday, 498 words

(A Windows Media Video of Mesic’s speech in the original Serbo-Croatian can be viewed at )

Despite the political significance of this video, both in terms of understanding the Serbian-Croatian conflict over the past sixteen years and judging the sincerity of Croatian President Mesic’s current claim to abhor Ustasha politics, and despite the fact that three leading Croatian TV newspeople were suspended for broadcasting the video and subsequently reinstated, following an uproar in Croatia, despite these highly newsworthy events, and despite the fact that some of the main international news agencies - including Associated Press, Agence France Presse, ANSA and BBC Monitoring - all covered this story, nevertheless, out of the thousands of English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch newspapers and TV news stations archived by the Lexis-Nexis media search engine, we could find only one - the Dutch newspaper, Dagblad van het Noorden - that even mentioned the scandal.

On 15 December 2006, the Speaker of the Croatian parliament compounded the scandal by admitting on TV that he and current president Mesic might have “possibly” sung songs celebrating “Jure and Boban” during the 1990s. (Boban was a commander of the Black Legion, the Ustasha SS unit comprised of Croatian Catholics and Muslims that slaughtered untold tens of thousands of Serbian civilians during World War II - nobody knows the total number of Serbs they killed because entire villages were wiped out, leaving no witnesses, with people burned alive, or thrown dead or alive into rivers or dumped still alive into mountain crevasses, which, by the way, Yugoslav President Tito ordered sealed with cement after World War II, in the interest of brotherhood.)  Here is an excerpt from the report from HINA, the Croatian news agency. The comments in brackets are from the BBC Monitoring news service, which translated the HINA dispatch:

“Croatian Assembly Speaker Vladimir Seks said on HTV’s [Croatian TV] ‘Otvoreno’ [Openly] programme this evening - in response to a journalist’s question on the truthfulness of the claim that he and state President Stjepan Mesic sang [Ustasha - WWII pro-Nazis] songs about “Jure and Boban” [Ustasha commanders] - that: “It is possible that this occurred, it is not out of the question.”

-- Croatian Speaker admits he may have sung Ustasha songs with president, Text of report in English by Croatian news agency HINA, BBC Monitoring Europe - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, December 15, 2006 Friday, 201 words

As with the Mesic speech, BBC Monitoring sent the Croatian new agency dispatch to its worldwide network of media subscribers, many if not most of whom would also get it direct from Croatia, but no newspaper or TV news program archived by Lexis-Nexis has covered the story. I discovered the dispatch quite by accident.

The manifest suppression of these shocking stories supports my charge that the Western media has deliberately misinformed the public about the character of modern Croatia. It constitutes indirect support for the related charge, that the Western media (as well as various Western government and semi-government  institutions) have promoted the effort, begun by Croatian secessionist President Franjo Tudjman, to deny the Croatian Holocaust - cutting the numbers killed by 80-90%; suppressing all discussion of the leading role of the Catholic church in the killing (see Encyclopedia of the Holocaust on the role of the Catholic church, p.328); and denying that the Ustashe had a mass base among Croatian and Bosnian Catholics and Muslims.

In recent times Croatian Holocaust denial has been resisted by Jewish organizations and groups defending the Serbs, especially the Serbian Orthodox church. In response, there has been a relentless drive to ‘turn’ these groups, to get them to publicly endorse Franjo Tudjman’s line, a drive led by the German and US foreign policy establishments (e.g., by the State Department, in the guise of employees of Washington’s Holocaust Museum [see box I.2, below] ). Which takes us to the importance of the opening of the Croatian government’s Holocaust exhibition at the site of the Jasenovac death camp on 27 November 2006.

The opening was of great - and grave - political significance because, even though the exhibition a) avoids all discussion of the ideology and personnel of Croatia’s Holocaust regime and of its mass base, made possible by the Catholic church, and b) avoids the unsurpassed ferocity of the attack on Serbian civilians, with the Ustashe wiping out entire villages, decimating whole regions, and c) puts forward the Croatian Holocaust-denying line that 70,000 people died at the Jasenovac death camp complex, the biggest of the many death camps in Ustasha Croatia - nevertheless:

* the exhibit was, shockingly, co-sponsored by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, two articles from whose Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (which was published in 1990, when the campaign to rewrite the Croatian Holocaust was still in an embryonic stage) are reprinted on this page, and -

*  it was, also shockingly, whitewashed by the presence of: His grace, the Serbian orthodox bishop of Slavonija Sava (Jurić); by Serbian Ambassador Radivoj Cvjetićanin; and by Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, and by others, whom the media described as representing the Serbian, Jewish and Roma communities, and who, by attending instead of boycotting and denouncing this travesty, provided cover for Western-backed, Croatian Holocaust denial. 

It is true that one of the guests, Efraim Zuroff of the Israel office of the Wiesenthal Center, was subsequently quoted in an Agence France Presse dispatch, raising a few criticisms of the exhibit. (He said it would confuse children because it didn’t name any individual Ustasha or explain the Ustasha ideology.)  However, these criticisms are secondary, given that, as described above, the exhibit is an attempt at Holocaust denial.  Moreover, Zuroff undermined even these weak criticisms by subsequently publishing an article, under his own byline, viciously mocking the Serbs and suggesting that the assertion that 700,000 Serbs, Jews and ‘Gypsies’ were murdered at Jasenovac is the “unlikely” fabrication of Serbian propagandists, taking their cue from earlier Communist propagandists.  Zuroff supported these sneering attacks with exactly zero factual discussion of anything, and just for the record, his sneering does not reflect the views of the late Simon Wiesenthal, whose name he uses: Wiesenthal strongly opposed the Croatian Holocaust deniers. The Wiesenthal Center’s website, which apparently Mr. Zuroff does not control, asserts that 600,000 people, Serbs (the overwhelming majority) and Jews and Roma were murdered at Jasenovac; this page is at Another Wiesenthal page, which describes Jasenovac, is at

In the event that either page is removed or altered, TENC has archived both, as they appear, this 31st day of December 2006, beacons of resistance to the nightmarish attempt to market Holocaust denial as Holocaust education. The Wiesenthal page with
the number of people murdered at Jasenovac is archived at
The Wiesenthal page that describes Jasenovac is archived at

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes

* * *

I.2 How the US State Department Misuses Washington's Holocaust Museum to Market Holocaust Denial

Hearing that there is a Holocaust Museum in Washington, I imagine most people would assume it is run by a Jewish Holocaust memorial organization and/or by Holocaust scholars; they would be mistaken. Washington’s Holocaust Museum began as a project of Jimmy Carter, whose underlying purpose was, I believe, built into the Museum’s organizational structure: it is financed mainly by the US government, and as for its governing board:

“The Council consists of 55 Presidential appointees in addition to 10 Congressional representatives and three ex-officio members from the departments of Education, Interior and State.”

Aside from the obvious point that fifty-five members of the board are picked by the President and ten are members of Congress - in other words, that this is, by design, a political institution - aside from that, why the State Department? Why should the government agency which formulates, carries out and publicly justifies US foreign policy be given a position from which it can dominate an institution supposedly created to educate ordinary people about the Holocaust? I think the bottom-line purpose of the Museum with its 60 plus million dollars a year funding (2/3 from the federal government), its 400 staff members and its vast media reach - the unstated but very real purpose is to use the Holocaust as a tool of the US foreign policy establishment, most obviously the State Department.

If that sounds outrageous, it is, but the evidence for my charge was manifest from the time the Museum opened, on 21 April 1993. Not one single representative of the Serbian people was invited to the much touted opening, but Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was an honored guest. This is the same Franjo Tudjman about whom the New York Times later wrote the following understated comments:

[Excerpt from the New York Times starts here]

“In his book Wastelands: Historical Truths, published in 1988, Mr. Tudjman wrote that the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust was 900,000 -- not six million.

He has also asserted that not more than 70,000 Serbs died at the hands of the Ustashe -- most historians say around 400,000 were killed.

[Prior to the onset of the crisis in Yugoslavia in 1991, the New York Times reported that 800,000 Serbs, Jews 'Gypsies' and opponents of the Croatian Ustashe were killed in Jasenovac (for example, see ).  Starting in 1991, the Times drastically cut the reported numbers, without explanation or consistency, sometimes stating that "tens of thousands" were killed (March 4, 1991), and that unnamed "independent scholars in the United States" were the source of their estimate of 80,000 victims (May 19, 1996), and then again, in this 1995 article, stating that a) Tudjman was the source of the figure of 70,000 (so much for the "independent scholars") and b) that 400,000 had been killed (so much for the "tens of thousands.") - J.I.]

Under Mr. Tudjman’s leadership, Croatia began discriminating against Serbs in 1990 when it adopted a Constitution that declared Croatia “the national state of the Croatian nation.” Under the old Constitution, the Serbs had had equal status with the Croats.

Then the Government adopted a currency and flag associated with the Ustashe Government, a move that helped drive many moderate Serbs into the arms of the Serbian nationalists.”

-- A Would-Be Tito Helps to Dismantle His Legacy, The New York Times, August 20, 1995, Sunday, Late Edition - Final, Franjo Tudjman, Section 1;   Page 12;   Column 3;   Foreign Desk  , 946 words, By RAYMOND BONNER  , ZAGREB, Croatia, Aug. 18

[Excerpt from New York Times ends here]

As I mentioned, the Times is easy on Tudjman, who was in fact the most openly antisemitic of Holocaust deniers. (His book Wastelands endorsed the claims that Jews ran the Croatian Ustashe’s Jasenovac death camp, that Jewish inmates, supposedly given a free hand by blasé Ustasha guards, slaughtered vast numbers of Serbs and Roma, and that this (imaginary) Jewish violence flowed directly from the violently self-centered nature (according to Tudjman) of Jewish culture.  He also supported the blood libel that the Talmud teaches Jews to hate and persecute Gentiles, and on and on.

Tudjman’s anti-Serb and antisemitic book was hailed by one Mark Weber, writing in the Journal of Historical Review, the main English language magazine for Holocaust deniers. Weber went into ecstasy, because:

“While a few European countries have outlawed Holocaust Revisionism [i.e., Holocaust denial - JI], in Croatia it enjoys support from the highest level.”

-- “Croatia’s Leader Denounced as Holocaust Revisionist; President Tudjman Refuses to Recant”
by Mark Weber, The Journal for Historical Review, July / August 1993, Volume 1, number 4, Page 19

Simon Wiesenthal was quoted in the New York Times expressing horror that this arch racist was being invited, as a guest of honor, to the opening of what was, after all, supposedly a Holocaust memorial:

“‘Tell me who asked Tudjman to come to Washington for the opening of the museum,’ Mr. Wiesenthal said.”

-- Anger Greets Croatian’s Invitation to Holocaust Museum Dedication, The New York Times, April 22, 1993, Thursday, Late Edition - Final Correction Appended, Section A; Page 1; Column 5; National Desk, 912 words, By Diana Jean Schemo, Special to The New York Times, Washington, April 21

In the same article, the Times answered Mr. Wiesenthal:

[Excerpt from “Anger Greets Croatian’s Invitation to Holocaust Museum” starts here]

“Naomi Paiss, the museum’s director of communications, said the museum knew about Mr. Tudjman’s writings but decided to invite the Croatian President despite them.

“‘We were advised by the State Department [my emphasis -JI] to invite the Bosnians, the Slovenians and the Croatians,’ she said. ‘They told us those are the three that should be invited, who were democratically elected. We’re well aware of Mr. Tudjman’s book and statements, but we’re not opening the museum to preach to the choir.’”

[Note that from the time the Museum was opened, it was used by the State Department to provide a cover for the most extreme of Holocaust deniers. -- JI]

[Excerpt from “Anger Greets Croatian’s Invitation to Holocaust Museum” ends here]

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes

* * *



by Menachem Shelah 
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, 1990, pp. 323-329.

To access the PDF file scanned from the Encyclopedia, go to

For bibliographical note, including source of photographs and maps, see foonote

Capitalized words refer to other articles in the Encyclopedia.


[Page 323]

CROATIA (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or Independent State of Croatia; NDH), puppet state in YUGOSLAVIA, established during World War II, that was in existence from April 1941 to May 1945.  Its area – which underwent many changes owing to annexations – consisted of what are today the Federative Republic of Croatia and the Federative Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a total of approximately 38,600 square miles (100,000 sq km). Its capital was Zagreb; it had a population of 6.3 million, of whom 3.3 million were Catholic Croats, 1.9 million Orthodox Serbs, 700,000 Muslim Croats, 170,000 Germans, 75,000 Hungarians, 40,000 Jews, 30,000 Gypsies, and 100,000 members of other minorities.

Serbian Minority. Croatia was set up by the Germans and the Italians on April 10, 1941, as part of their plan for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. Ante PAVELIĆ, leader of the secessionist USTAŠA movement, was made head of state.  Shortly after taking control, the Ustaša, with the support of many Croatians, embarked upon what it called “the purge of Croatia from foreign elements,” which had as its main purpose the elimination of the Serbian minority.  In a brutal terror campaign, more than half a million Serbs were killed, a quarter-million expelled, and two hundred thousand forced to convert to Catholicism.  The Ustaša regime in Croatia, and particularly this drive in the summer of 1941 to exterminate and dispossess the Serbs, was one of the most horrendous episodes of World War II.  The murder methods applied by the Ustaša were extraordinarily primitive and sadistic: thousands were hurled from mountaintops, others were beaten to death or had their throats cut, entire villages were burned down, women raped, people sent in death marches in the middle of winter, and still others starved to death.

Jews. The Jews of Croatia lived mainly in the larger cities: Zagreb (11,000), Sarajevo (10,000), Osijek (3,000), and Bjelovar (3,000).  Sixty percent are estimated to have been Ashkenazim and the rest Sephardim. Most of the Jews belonged to the middle class; they were civil servants, merchants, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers. Zionists controlled the communities.  Croatian Jewry carried on a wide range of activities; it had its own school network, weekly newspaper, welfare institutions, and youth movements.  The NDH regime categorized the Jews as one of the “foreign elements” that had to be purged, and the Ustaša’s German patrons encouraged it in its drive against the Jews.  In pursuing this course, the Ustaša was motivated by desires to please the Germans and to acquire the Jews’ property, rather than by ideological antisemitism.  Three government departments were involved in Jewish affairs.  The Ministry of the Interior, with Andrija Artuković as minister, dealt with anti-Jewish legislation; the security police (Ustaška Nadzorna Služba), under Eugen Dido Kvaternik, arrested, imprisoned, and murdered Jews, and ran the concentration camps; and the Ministry of Finance, under Vladimir Kosak, was charged with the depredation of Jewish property.

Anti-Jewish legislation.  A few days after taking control, the Ustaša enacted anti-Jewish legislation, most of it based on the precedents set in the Third Reich, the GENERALGOUVERNEMENT, and SLOVAKIA.  It included racial statutes on the model of the NUREMBERG LAWS, which defined who was a Jew and stripped the Jews of their civil rights.  But there was an innovation in these laws – a paragraph empowering the head of state to bestow the title of “Honorary Aryan” – which provided an opportunity for corrupt practices.  Most of the legislation dealt with economic affairs: Aryan trustees

[End of page 323]


[Page 324]

CROATIA, 1941 to 1945. 

[Map posted large size at ]


[Text continues]


were appointed to take over Jewish businesses; Jewish factories, enterprises, and real property were “nationalized”; Jewish civil servants were dismissed; and Jewish professionals (lawyers, doctors, veterinarians, and so on) were prohibited from dealing with non-Jewish clients. Collective fines, which had to be paid in gold or its equivalent, were imposed on the Jewish communities.  Overnight, a pseudolegal expropriation drive was launched, which before long turned into an unbridled countrywide campaign of plunder and pillage in which everyone who stood to profit took part – trade unions, youth organizations, sports clubs, the armed forces, and government officials of all ranks. Ordinary citizens also took part in this campaign wherever they could; indeed, the share of “private” elements in the plunder was enormous – at least half of the property of which the Jews were robbed apparently never reached the state treasury but remained in the hands of individual Croatians.  According to an estimate by the Ministry of Finance published in 1944, the value of the Jewish property it acquired was 25 billion dinars ($50 million, according to the prewar rate of exchange). Presenting the state budget for the 1942-1943 fiscal year, the minister of finance, Vladimir Kosak, said that the deficit would be covered by proceeds from the sale of Jewish property. 

In the first few months of Ustaša rule, various other decrees were passed, mostly by local authorities, designed to restrict the Jews’ freedom of movement and the places where they could live, and thereby to isolate them from the rest of the population.  In May 1941 an order was announced under which the Jews had to wear the yellow Jewish BADGE with the letter Ž (from Židov, “Jew”) prominently displayed on it.

Roundup, incarceration and murder. The first arrests made among the Jews were part of a general preventive measure to forestall the rise of any anti-government organiza- 

[End of page 324]


[Page 325]

[Caption:] Children liberated from a Croatian concentration camp.

[Text continues]

tions. It affected the active members of left-wing parties, Serbian parties, democrats, and left-wing intellectuals. Included in that wave of arrests were some one hundred Jewish youngsters who had been active in Zionist youth movements in Zagreb, as well as the Jewish lawyers in that city; both groups were taken to concentration camps that had been established in the country, where most of them were killed.  Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the incidence of sabotage acts in Croatia rose sharply and the situation of the Jews deteriorated further, as acts of sabotage led to retaliatory measures in which many Jews were executed (with the authorities stressing their Jewishness).  The mass arrest of Jews was set in motion with a decree issued by Ante Pavelić on June 26, 1941, that accused the Jews of spreading lies in order to incite the population and of interfering with the orderly supply of essential commodities, “well known black-marketeers that they are. …I declare that the Jews are collectively guilty and order them to be imprisoned…in concentration camps.”

The onslaught of the Jews of Zagreb had begun a few days earlier, on June 22. By the end of the month several hundred Jewish families had been seized and, for the most part, put into the Pag and Jadovno concentration camps.  In July it was the turn of the smaller communities, such as Varaždin, Koprivnica, Ludbreg, Karlovac, and Bjelovar. The prisoners were first assembled in the former trade-fair grounds in the heart of Zagreb and from there dispatched to various camps. 

This was followed, at the beginning of August, by a drive against the Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In the first stage, those living in small towns were arrested; at the end of the month, it was the turn of Sarajevo, where the roundup of the Jews took longer than expected and was completed only in November 1941.  The concentration camp of JASENOVAC was constructed in August 1941, and after its completion most arrested Jews were sent there.  Some Jewish women of Sarajevo were imprisoned in a special women’s camp that had been set up in the town of Djakovo for lack of space in the other camps. 

[End of page 325]


[Page 326]

By the end of 1941, two-thirds of Croatian Jewry had been taken to Croatian concentration camps; most were killed on arrival or soon after. The Jews who had not yet been imprisoned were regarded as indispensable to the state’s economy, were married to non-Jews, or had personal ties to members of the ruling clique. Some Jews also managed to flee to the Italian zone of occupation. In an interview with a German newspaper at the end of the summer of 1941, Pavelić declared: “The Jews will be liquidated within a very short time.”

Jews were imprisoned in the following concentration camps:

1. Danica, near Zagreb. This camp was established in April 1941 and was disbanded at the end of the year. Most of the inmates were political prisoners; the Jewish lawyers of Zagreb were also incarcerated here.

2. Jadovno, in the Velebit Mountains. Established in May 1941 and disbanded in August of that year, when the area was about to be handed over to the Italians. It was here that the Jewish youngsters from Zagreb were imprisoned and murdered.

3. Pag, on Pag Island in the Adriatic. Established in June 1941 and dismantled by the end of August of that year. In the few weeks of its existence, hundreds of people were murdered in this camp. An inquiry commission set up by the Italian army when it took control of the area in August 1941 reported that shocking acts had been committed there. Among the murder victims were many of the people who had been seized in the first wave of arrests.

4. Kruscica, in Bosnia. Established at the beginning of August 1941 and disbanded by the end of the following month. This was mainly a transit camp for the Jewish women arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

5. Loborgrad, in northern Croatia. Set up in September 1941 and dismantled in October 1942. It served as a camp for women and children and was run by
VOLKSDEUTSCHE (ethnic Germans). In May 1942 the women and children prisoners were deported to AUSCHWITZ.

6. Djakovo, in southeast Croatia. Established in December 1941; in existence until June 1942. This was another camp where women amid children were imprisoned. Several hundred prisoners died in a typhus epidemic that broke out there; the rest were transferred, in the summer of 1942, to Jasenovac, where they were killed on arrival.

7. Tenje, near Osijek. Set up in March 1942 and disbanded in August of that year, when all its prisoners were deported to Auschwitz to be gassed.

8. Jasenovac, 62 miles (100 km) from Zagreb. Established in August 1941; in existence until April 1945. This was the largest and best-known concentration camp in Croatia, the place where most of its Jews went to their death. It was also in Jasenovac that hundreds of thousands of people belonging to other nationalities were killed – Serbs,
GYPSIES, and various non-Jewish opposition elements.

German role
in deportation and extermination
. Croatian Jews, for the most part, were murdered by fellow Croatians, but there is no doubt about the role played by the Germans. From the beginning of Ustaša rule, it was the Germans who supervised the “solution of the Jewish question.” An SS officer named Müller was posted to Zagreb in May 1941 and took charge of the “solution.” In Sarajevo, it was SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Alfred Heinrich who handled the Jews. A major role was also played by the German ambassador in Zagreb, SA-Gruppenführer Siegfried Kasche, a veteran member of the diplomatic corps and a zealous antisemite. It was Kasche who pressured and exhorted the Croatian leaders to lose no time in killing all the Jews in the country, and who urged his colleagues in Berlin to make sure that the Jews in the Italian-occupied zone were seized and subjected to the same fate as their brethren in the other parts of Croatia. Kasche’s right-hand man on Jewish affairs was SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Helm, who served as the embassy police attaché and belonged to the staff of the REICHSSICHERHEITSHAUPTAMT (Reich Security Main Office; RSHA).

As long as the Croatians continued to kill Jews, the Germans did not interfere, but German involvement grew at the beginning of 1942,
when it appeared that the Croatians might call a halt to the killing. At the WANNSEE CONFERENCE of January 20, 1942, it was decided that the Germans would propose to the Croatians that they transfer the Jews

[End of page 326]



[Page 327]


[Caption:] The Jewish Rab battalion, formed after the prisoners of the Rab internment camp were liberated in September 1943.  


[Text continues]


of Croatia to eastern Europe.  In the negotiations that followed, Hans Helm, who was an expert on Yugoslav affairs, represented the German side, while Dido Kvaternik, chief of security services, was the Croatian representative. The Germans may have decided to take over the murder of Croatian Jews because the Croatians had lost some of their enthusiasm following the successes of the Red Army in the winter of 1941-1942. In the spring of 1942 the two sides agreed on the deportation of Croatian Jews to the east; the Croatian government undertook to arrest the Jews, take them to the railheads, and pay the Germans 30 reichsmarks per person for the cost of transporting the prisoners to the extermination camps. In return, the Germans agreed that the property of the Jewish victims would go to the Croatian government.

SS Hauptsturmführer Franz Abromeit, an “expert” on the staff of Adolf
EICHMANN’s section, was sent to Zagreb to take charge of the deportation. Between August 13 and 20, 1942, five trains left Croatia for Auschwitz with 5,500 Jews aboard, half from the Tenje concentration camp and the rest from the Loborgrad camp and from Zagreb and Sarajevo. In May 1943, while Heinrich HIMMLER was on a visit to Zagreb, another series of deportations to Auschwitz was conducted, with the Germans joining the Croatians in drawing up the list of deportees. In two trains on May 5 and 10, a group of 1,150 Jews was deported, including the leaders of the Zagreb and Osijek Jewish communities. Of 

[End of page 327]



[Page 328]

the thousands of Croatian Jews who were deported to Auschwitz, only a few dozen survived. In Croatia itself, a mere few hundred Jews remained alive, most of them because they were protégés of Croatian political leaders or were married to non-Jews.

Italian protection. Most of the Croatian Jews who survived owed their lives to the Italians. In their zone of occupation (the Dalmatian coast, Albania, and Montenegro), the Italians resolutely protected the Jews; some five thousand Jews were saved by the Italians in Yugoslavia.


In the summer of 1943 all the Jewish refugees in Dalmatia were put into a camp in RAB. Following the Italian surrender in September 1943, the area was liberated by the partisans, and most of the Jews were moved to liberated areas in the center of the country. Those who were fit to bear arms or perform other military service joined the partisan army, while the others were given the protection of the fighting forces.

Catholic Church. In the interwar period the Catholic church in Croatia had been a staunch supporter of Croatian nationalism, and it welcomed the establishment of the Croatian state. The Vatican had always supported the stand of the Croatian church and had encouraged Croatian separatism. The Ustaša extermination drive against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies presented the church with a dilemma.


Many Catholic priests, mainly of the lower rank, took an active part in the murder operations. Generally speaking, the reaction of the Catholic church was a function of military and political developments affecting Croatia; when the standing of the NDH regime was weakening and the war was drawing to an end, protests by the church against Ustaša crimes became more and more outspoken. This was not the case in the earlier stages. A bishops’ conference that met in Zagreb in November 1941 was not even prepared to denounce the forced conversion of Serbs that had taken place in the summer of 1941, let alone condemn the persecution and murder of Serbs and Jews. It was not until the middle of 1943 that Aloysius Stepinac, the archbishop of Zagreb, publicly came out against the murder of Croatian Jews (most of whom had been killed by that time), the Serbs, and other nationalities. The Vatican followed a similar line. In the early stage, the Croatian massacres were explained in Rome as “teething troubles of a new regime” (the expression of Monsignor Domenico Tardini of the Vatican state secretariat). When the course of the war was changing, the leaders of the Catholic church began to criticize the Ustaša, but in mild terms; it was only at the end, when Allied victory was assured, that Vatican spokesmen came out with clear denunciations. In some instances, Croatian clerics did help Jews. Their main effort was to save the lives of the Jewish partners in mixed marriages, and most of these did in fact survive. The church also extended help to the Zagreb Jewish community in providing food, medicines and clothing for Jews in the concentration camps.


[Jewish] Communities. Jewish communities in Croatia were severely restricted in their activities during the Holocaust, mainly because most of them were liquidated at an early stage. Of the three major communities, that of Sarajevo ceased functioning at the beginning of 1942 and the Osijek community by the middle of that year. Only the Zagreb community remained in existence throughout the war.


The Zagreb community was the center of all Jewish activities. It stayed in touch with the Jewish institutions in Hungary (the RELIEF AND RESCUE COMMITTEE OF BUDAPEST), Switzerland, and Turkey; it received financial aid from abroad; and its representatives negotiated with Croatian government officials and others. Until the last deportation to Auschwitz, in May 1943, the community was headed by the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb, Dr. Shalom Freiberger, and the secretary, Aleksa Klein. Thereafter, the few Jews left in the city dealt mainly with the dispatch of food parcels to Jewish prisoners in concentration camps and with extending aid to the needy.


It is estimated that thirty thousand Jews were murdered in Croatia - 80 percent of its Jewish population.




Hory, L., and M. Broszat. Der kroatische Ustacha Staat, 1941-1945. Stuttgart, 1964.
Jelić-Butić, F. Ustaše i N.D.H. Zagreb, 1977. 

[End of page 328]



[Page 329]


Lederer, Z., ed. The Crimes of the Germans and Their Collaborators against the Jews of Jugoslavia. Belgrade, 1953.
Morley, J. F.  Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews during the Holocaust, 1939-1943.  New York, 1980. See pages 147-165.


Menachem Shelah


[End of Article on Croatia]




by Menachem Shelah 
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, 1990, pp. 739-740.

To access PDF file scanned from this article, go to 

For bibliographical note, including source of photographs and maps, see footnote

Capitalized words refer to other articles in the Encyclopedia.


[Page 739]

JASENOVAC, the largest concentration and extermination camp in CROATIA. Jasenovac was in fact a complex of several subcamps, in close proximity to each other, on the bank of the Sava River, about 62 miles (100 km) south of Zagreb. The women’s camp of Stara Gradiška, which was farther away, also belonged to this complex.

Jasenovac was established in August 1941 and was dismantled only in April 1945. The creation of the camp and its management and supervision were entrusted to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaška Narodna Služba; UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburić, who was personally responsible for everything that happened there.

[Caption:] The former priest Miroslav Filipov-Majstorović, a member of the Jasenovac camp staff, in his Ustaša uniform.

[Text continues]

Scores of Ustaše (Croatian fascists) served in the camp; the cruelest was the former priest Miroslav Filipović-Majstorović, who killed scores of prisoners with his own hands.

[Caption:] The Jasenovac camp.

[End of page 739]



[Page 740]


[Map posted large size at ]

[Text continues]

Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs, Jews, GYPSIES, and opponents of the USTAŠA regime. The number of Jewish victims was between twenty thousand and twenty-five thousand, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to AUSCHWITZ for extermination began. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia - from Zagreb, from Sarajevo, and from other cities and smaller towns. On their arrival most were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac. The living conditions in the camp were extremely severe: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, a particularly cruel regime, and unbelievably cruel behavior by the Ustaše guards. The conditions improved only for short periods - during visits by delegations, such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.

The acts of murder and of the cruelty in the camp reached their peak in the late summer of 1942, when tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the area of the fighting against the partisans in the Kozara Mountains. Most of the men were killed at Jasenovac. The women were sent for forced labor in Germany, and the children were taken from their mothers; some were murdered and others were dispersed in orphanages throughout the country.

In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustaše blew up all the installations and killed most of the internees. An escape attempt by the prisoners failed, and only a few survived.




Romans, J. Jews of Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Victims of Genocide and Freedom Fighters.  Belgrade, 1982.

Sindik, D., ed. Secanja Jevreja na logor Jasenovac.  Belgrade, 1972.


Menachem Shelah


[End of Article on the Jasenovac extermination camp]


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] Menachem Shelah, “Croatia,” in  Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published in Hebrew and English, by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, Jerusalem, 1990.
Hebrew edition: ha-Entsiḳlopedyah shel ha-Sho’ah / 'orekh rashi, Yiśra’el Guṭman. [Jerusalem] : Yad ṿa-Shem ; Tel-Aviv : Sifriyat po'alim, 1990.
English edition: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust / Israel Gutman, editor in chief, New York/London, Macmillan, 1990, pp 323-329.

Note on Pictures:  In “Acknowledgements,” p. xix of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, it states:

“We would like to thank Martin Gilbert for his permission to use some of the maps from The Macmillan Atlas of the Holocaust (New York, 1982).

“We also wish to express our thanks and appreciation to the various institutions and libraries that have kindly granted us permission to reproduce photographs in their possession. Appropriate credit lines appear with each such photograph. All photographs without attribution were provided by the Yad Vashem archives in Jerusalem.”

The PDF file of “Croatia” is at

[2]  Menachem Shelah, “Jasenovac,” in Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published in Hebrew and English, by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, Jerusalem, 1990.
Hebrew edition: ha-Entsiḳlopedyah shel ha-Sho’ah / 'orekh rashi, Yiśra’el Guṭman. [Jerusalem] : Yad ṿa-Shem ; Tel-Aviv : Sifriyat po'alim, 1990.
English edition: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust / Israel Gutman, editor in chief, New York/London, Macmillan, 1990, pp 739-740.

Regarding pictures and map, see footnote 1, above.

The PDF file of “Jasenovac” is at 


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