Ustaši


Ustaši, the terrorist and extreme nationalist fascist organzation, originated from the extremist Croatian Law Party founded by Ante Starèeviæ – also the founder of the idea of a «Greater Croatia», which claimed a racial and religious exclusiveness of the Croats, and advocated their right to territorial expansion. On 7 January 1929 it was hypocritically named Hrvatski Ustaški Pokret, which means the Croatian Insurgent Movement. Smallish in numbers, and organized along the military patterns, it fought against the Yugoslav statehood by the means of terror. Among others on 9 October 1934 in Marseilles ustaši murdered the King of Yugoslavia Alexander I, and the French foreign minister Jean Louis Barthou. In this and many other cases they enjoyed the support of fascist Italy, which harboured their leadership with the chief of the ustaši, Ante Paveliæ. Also Hungary lent its territory to the ustaši terrorist operations. They particularly intensified their activities after the change of the government in Belgrade and Italy’s decision to join the German aggression against Yugoslavia. Then they also obtained support of the Nazis. The crimes ustaši committed during the Second World War in their own country gained them infamy in the whole civilized world. Nevertheless, after the war many ustaši found shelter in the United States, Argentina and Spain, where among others Paveliæ spent the last years of his life.

It is particularly hideous that the ustaši since the beginning of their existence enjoyed a full support of the Roman Catholic Church. Paveliæ’s terrorist bands had been morally and financially encouraged and supported by the Vatican. Monasteries had been used as the clandestine headquarters of the ustaši long before the Nazi attack on Yugoslavia. Secret separatist and military activities had been disguised for years under the cloak of religion. The Catholic priesthood in Croatia, Herzegovina and Dalmatia had repeatedly convoked so-called eucharistic congresses which in reality were for extremist political purposes. The sundry semi-military, illegal terrorist movements were likewise screened by the mantle of religion. Most of them were affiliated with Catholic organizations under the direct supervision of the Catholic Action and its leader Feliks Niedzielski. Most of the members of such religious organizations were active in sabotage and acts of terrorism, and a good number of them even participated in the treacherous disarming of the Yugoslav army following German attack. As soon as they came into the open, many of them appeared transformed into ustaši authorities, functionaries in ustaši commissions, heads of district councils, or even of concentration camps. On the same day as the German army had entered the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, archbishop Alojzije Stepinac called on the leader of the ustaši and urged all the Croats to support the so-called Independent State of Croatia. During the war Stepinac became one of the most notorious war criminals and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in post-war Yugoslavia. Nevertheless he was beatified by the pope John Paul II in 1994.