Skip to comments.Nazis Rock on in Croatia
Posted on 06/23/2007 11:07:39 AM PDT by Bokababe
Received this morning from Simon Wiesenthal Centers Israel Director Efraim Zuroff (bold emphasis added): Wiesenthal Center Expresses Outrage At Massive Outburst of Nostalgia for Croatian Fascism at Zagreb Rock Concert:
Jerusalem The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed its sense of outrage and disgust in the wake of a massive show of fascist salutes, symbols and uniforms at a rock concert by popular ultra-nationalist Croatian singer Thompson attended by 60,000 people in Zagreb last night. In a letter sent today to Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, the Centers chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff noted the presence of Croatian dignities, including the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, at the event and called for the banning of concerts by singers like Thompson who glorify fascism and racism. According to Zuroff:
According to the Croatian media, the concert turned into a massive fascist demonstration with tens of thousands of people shouting the infamous Ustasha salute of Za dom spremni. In addition, numerous participants came wearing Ustasha uniforms and symbols. To make matters worse, in attendance last night were officials and members of Parliament, as well as the Minister of Science, Education [!!] and Sports.
Under the current circumstances, I believe that the time has come to prohibit public concerts by those who write songs of nostalgia for Jasenovac and inspire the show of Ustasha symbols, which constitute open and blatant incitement against all the minorities in Croatia.
(Excerpt) Read more at juliagorin.com ...
And there we go!
Oh, my gosh, the Cardinal is WALKING. The horrors!
“First person accounts of the genocide by Craotian Catholic fascists against Orthodox Christian Serbs.”
They were acting contrary to the Catholic faith. What they did has nothing to do with Stepinac, nothing to do with the teachings of the Church and nothing to do with me. But thanks for proving my point that I am the one not over-reacting. Clearly it is you guys.
According to the reputed author of the Grisogono letter, it is a forgery:
It doesn’t surprise me that a forgery is so often used to attack Cardinal Stepinac. What does surprise me is that it is STILL used even after being exposed by the reputed author himself and his family after him.
Fact: Croatian Catholic Fascists blessed by Stepinac along with the Muslim and Nazis units committed genocide against Serbian people.
The only question that remains is did Stepinac also bless the Croatian Muslims before they went into battle against the Christians. After all their benefactor Himmler, fascinated as he was with Islam, believed Croatians of all stripes were Aryans not Slavs.
There isn't a country on the face of the earth that doesn't have at least a few racists.
"And, of course, Serbia has a Nazi past too."
How many countries in Europe didn't have "a Nazi past"? Search long enough, I am sure that you could find some English who were Nazis, too and call it "England's Nazi past".
"It's Nazi past was even so bold as to compare Hitler to St. Sava: Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic"
Yes, there was a group called the Ljoticevi who were Serb pro-fascists, however prior to the war they never even won a single election anywhere in Serbia. They did not represent the Serb people at all as evidenced by the Serbs turning their back on the deal with Germans that Prince Paul made. As a result, the Germans launched Operation Punishment.
Read Bishop Velemirovic, The Agony of the Church" (1917), which was actually compiled from a series of lectures given to Christians at St. Margaret's, Westminster. It was primarily on the subject of Christianity & government. There was an important quote from this book:
"He who is numbering every day our hair, and feeding the sparrows, and clothing the grass in the field. He is a greater warrant for our patriotic justice than any of our exaggerated calculations and sentiment about our country and our nation. Alas, no European nation has right to blame the Jews because of their persecution of Christianity in the name of their Patriotism. There exists no country in Europe which has not at some time in the name of a false Patriotism either directly persecuted or abased the Church, or at least subordinated her to the cause of the country or put her in the service of its local and temporal cause.
The WWII Patriarch of the Serbian Orhtodox Church, Gavrilo and Bishop Nicholai, were both thrown into Dachau until the end of the war and tortured badly.
"Words to the Serbian People through the Dungeon Window (referring to Dachau) which is were virtually all of Bishop Nicholai's detractors quote from, wasnt even published under Bishop Velimirovic's name, but rather by a relative 30 years after his death. It was supposedly written from scraps of paper brought back from Dachau" -- which makes little sense, yet no one has seen fit to question that source.
You must excuse me, m first husband was Jewish, so I guess I am a poor example of your suppsedly" anti-Semitic Serb"!
“There isn’t a country on the face of the earth that doesn’t have at least a few racists.”
I would agree.
“How many countries in Europe didn’t have “a Nazi past”? Search long enough, I am sure that you could find some English who were Nazis, too and call it “England’s Nazi past”.”
I wouldn’t have to search. I was just reading about English SS men last night, in fact.
“Yes, there was a group called the Ljoticevi who were Serb pro-fascists, however prior to the war they never even won a single election anywhere in Serbia. They did not represent the Serb people at all as evidenced by the Serbs turning their back on the deal with Germans that Prince Paul made. As a result, the Germans launched Operation Punishment.”
I don’t think those who murdered Serbs in WWII necessarily represented the Croats either - no matter what their office or title.
“Read Bishop Velemirovic, The Agony of the Church” (1917), which was actually compiled from a series of lectures given to Christians at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. It was primarily on the subject of Christianity & government. There was an important quote from this book:”He who is numbering every day our hair, and feeding the sparrows, and clothing the grass in the field. He is a greater warrant for our patriotic justice than any of our exaggerated calculations and sentiment about our country and our nation. Alas, no European nation has right to blame the Jews because of their persecution of Christianity in the name of their Patriotism. There exists no country in Europe which has not at some time in the name of a false Patriotism either directly persecuted or abased the Church, or at least subordinated her to the cause of the country or put her in the service of its local and temporal cause.”
I would agree. Stepinac did many things to save Jews. He also saved Serbs. Many Serbs also saved Jews.
“The WWII Patriarch of the Serbian Orhtodox Church, Gavrilo and Bishop Nicholai, were both thrown into Dachau until the end of the war and tortured badly.”
So were more than 2,500 Catholic cardinals, bishops, priests and monks. The Orthodox, after the liberation, used the Catholic chapel to say their first Divine Liturgy.
“”Words to the Serbian People through the Dungeon Window (referring to Dachau) which is were virtually all of Bishop Nicholai’s detractors quote from, wasnt even published under Bishop Velimirovic’s name, but rather by a relative 30 years after his death. It was supposedly written from scraps of paper brought back from Dachau” — which makes little sense, yet no one has seen fit to question that source.”
I don’t believe I quoted this source.
“You must excuse me, m first husband was Jewish, so I guess I am a poor example of your suppsedly” anti-Semitic Serb”!”
Where did I say anything about anti-semitic Serbs in this thread?
“This is from “The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust”by Menachem Shelah, Israel 1990. [Page 328] on the Role of the Catholic Church in WWII Croatia.”
I have seen such things. I find much more detail in the following, however:
THE REACTION OF THE CHURCH
A). Archbishop Stepinac
Born in 1898 and conscripted into the Austrian army in 1916, Aloysius Stepinac became an officer and was decorated for bravery. Following capture by the Italians in 1917, he volunteered to fight in the Yugoslav Committee’s Legion. As an officer he took part in the defeat of the German and Bulgarian armies at Salonica, and was awarded the very rare ‘karageorge Star’ ((AHO 5)).
After the war he studied agriculture and for a time was engaged to be married. But in 1924 he entered a seminary and was ordained in 1930. Four years later he became the youngest bishop in the world. Many of the older clergy had an attachment to Austrian culture, but Stepinac’s war record made him acceptable to the Serbian king ((MR 21-35)). As Bauer was in poor health Stepinac administered the Archdiocese and, on Bauer’s death in December 1937, became Archbishop ((AHO 6)).
Due to their education and dedication to the welfare of their parishioners, many priests throughout Eastern Europe became involved in political campaigns for social justice. With the development of political parties this activity could become full time to the near exclusion of parochial work. Parties developed a mixture of policies, some good but others non-Christian or debatable.
The Holy See saw the danger of priests neglecting their spiritual duties and becoming identified with a particular political party. A sudden ban would have left the poor in some areas without advocates, so local bishops were left to decide when to implement this policy. So while Slovenian priests were leaders of a Christian party, and had seats in parliament, Bauer had prohibited the clergy in his diocese standing as candidates ((SAB 29)). Stepinac confirmed this policy several times ((MR 139-140)) and suspended a Croatian Peasant Party priest ((RP 255)). His clergy did however warn against Nazism, Communism and uncontrolled Capitalism.
he kept private his own voting, but the government announced that he has voted for its candidate in 1939 election To refute this assertion he said he had voted for the Croatian Peasant Party, not because of all its policies, but as an expression of support for Croatian rights ((SAB 55)). He maintained, however, his loyalty to Yugoslavia. When the coup occurred in March 1941, he ordered a Te Deum to be offered for the new king ((SAB 58)).
B) Stepinac and Pavelic
Anti-Catholic literature depicts Stepinac and the Ustasha leader, Ante Pavelic, as close personal friends and political collaborators. It is asserted that Stepinac, in April 1941, welcomed Pavelic on his arrival at the Zagreb railway station, offered a Te Deum to celebrate his coming to power and issued a pastoral letter of support for the NDH. These allegations are not true.
Stepinac told Veceslav Vilder, a leader of the Independent Democratic Party, that he detested Nazism. It was as bad as Bolshevism, and the Church was more free under Democracy ((SAB 50)). During the 1930s, Stepinac was absolutely opposed to the Ustasha, who were ready to identify Croatia’s fate with that of National-Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy ((AHO 10)). During a sermon in August 1940 he attacked both Fascism and Communism. ((RJW 51-52)).
When the Yugoslav army disintegrated, the Croats celebrated in the streets of Zagreb. For them the doors of their Yugoslav prison had opened and their Serbian jailors had fled. By then most Croats had lost hope of building a multi-cultural Yugoslavia. Autonomy had been gained due to the exceptional international situation, but the government which had granted it had already been overthrown. Yet on the eve of the German invasion Stepinac still clung to the ideal of a federal Yugoslavia ((AHO 9)) and, according to the American Zagreb Consul, urged Mecek to join the Yugoslav coup government ((1O: 7)).
Stepinac feared direct German rule. He was aware of the destruction of Catholic organisations, charitable activities, schools and press in Germany and Poland. He knew of the paganism taught to German youth, the terror used against opponents and the censorship of news and opinions. He had told a western visitor that the Munich agreement had been a mistake because Hitler would go on to take all of Czechoslovakia, dominate central Europe and launch a war within eighteen months ((MR 20)). He was not pleased on April 10th to observe young men cheering the entry of German troops into Zagreb. He commented to his aides:
“. . . these young men did not understand what it means to live under the Prussian Boot”. ((RP 354)).
Earlier that day Slacko Kvaternik had declared Croatian independence and became ‘de-facto’ head of civil administration. So on the 12th. Stepinac called on him to discuss the needs of the people. That same day Kvaternik, on behalf of Pavelic, asked the Germans for diplomatic recognition, which was granted later that evening ((JCS 24-5)).
Pavelic was expected to arrive from Italy at Zagreb rail station the following day. Kvaternik hoped to make his arrival a triumphal display of wide support and endorsement of Pavelic’s leadership by popular acclaim. Stepinac’s presence at the rail station would have greatly enhanced Pavelic’s status and prestige. Contrary to false reports, Stepinac refused to attend ((RP 353)).
Like most Croatians, Stepinac had mixed views regarding the unfolding of events. As a Croat he felt and expressed the joy that Serbian domination had ended. He was also relieved that, due to the declaration of independence, the Germans were not establishing military rule. This meant the people and Church would not suffer the slaughter of intellectuals, priests, teachers and others as in Catholic Poland.
According to the International Hague Convention of 1907, an invading power may demand obedience but not allegiance ((SAB 167)). So Stepinac gave de-facto recognition to the civil authorities, appointed by the occupiers. He would also have been guided by: ‘Sollicitudo Ecclesiarum’ of Pope Gregory XVI, issued in 1831. This states that, ‘At the time of a revolution, in the fight for power, one must not take the de-facto recognition of a state or a government by the representatives of the Church to be de-jure recognition, and one must not conclude from this that anyone’s prior rights have ceased to exist’ ((RP 197)).
Stepinac is criticised for recognising de-facto the Pavelic regime, yet little is said about events in Serbia. The Serbian Orthodox bishops on 8th July 1941 pledged themselves to observe the laws of the German occupiers, and to co-operate in maintaining order, peace and obedience. After August the 29th they recognized the German approved Serbian government and accepted clergy salaries from it ((SAA 14)). Both churches were facing reality and acting according to international law. Later, the Allies based their demand for the recognition of the Partisans as a regular army, on the International Hague Convention ((RP 197)).
On April 11th, the Ustasha radio told its listeners to look to their clergy for direction ((CF 272)). This was a practical recommendation as, in the absence of civil officials, parish priests would become leaders in most villages. It is not ‘proof’ that all priests were Ustasha members. On the 16th, Stepinac visited Pavelic and received promises that the administration would not interfere with church life nor spread Nazi paganism in the schools.
While these assurances were comforting, they had been given verbally and in private. The new administration was still seeking wide support so as to confirm in Hitler’s mind that there was no need to appoint a military administration. There was no guarantee that Pavelic and other Ustasha leaders, once firmly in power, would keep these promises.
On April 28th, Stepinac sent a circular letter to his priests. In it he echoed the people’s joy at gaining independence. “For, however complicated is the web of contempory events; however heterogeneous the factors which influence the course of affairs, it is easy to see the hand of God at work”. He urged his priests to work hard for their country. “So Croatia may be the country of God”. He quoted from Scripture; “Give to God what is God’s” but noticeably omitted the balancing phrase “and to Caesar what is Caesar’s”.
“We must warn and teach that the holy enthusiasm and noble zeal in building the foundations of the new Croat state must be inspired by the fear of God and the love of God’s law and His commandments, for only through God’s law and not false natural principles can the Croat state be solidly established.”
[Note: In Catholic eyes, Nazism, Fascism and Communism were based on false natural principles].
He warned that independence could be lost again. “Sovereignty passes from nation to nation on account of injustice and insolence and wealth (Sirach 10:8)”. He knew that those who looked up this scripture would read just prior to this extract “Do not be angry with your neighbour for any injury”. He wrote that he believed the Church in the new state would be free to: “convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4: 2)”. ((RP 85)). By Stepinac publishing this circular in the Press, Pavelic’s promises were made public. This would make it difficult for him or his companions to later deny the promise of Church freedom.
Later, the Communists criticised his words “Knowing the men who are today at the helm of the Croat nation, we are deeply convinced that our work will find complete understanding and help”. Yet the bishops addressed similar words to Tito on September 22nd, 1945.
After pledging loyalty and their willingness to collaborate in constructing the state, they wrote: “We are persuaded that the wisdom of our statesmen will bring us victory and that through your efforts you will succeed in bringing lasting peace in Yugoslavia”. ((RP 85)).
Offering a hand of co-operation to Pavelic and Tito, while sounding a note of optimism, didn’t mean the Church was endorsing their ideologies or future actions.
Stepinac closed his circular of 1941 by instructing all parishes to hold a Te Deum of thanksgiving on May 4th ((RP 258-260)). He had referred to Croatia throughout not to the NDH ((RP 200)).
It has been said that by recognising Pavelic’s authority before the Yugoslav forces surrendered on April 16th, Stepinac broke his oath of loyalty to the king. But the army’s surrender would not cancel the oath, so this date is irrelevant. By the 12th, Kvaternick was the German appointed de-facto governor of the Croatian part of Yugoslavia. Stepinac treated him as such in accordance with international law. Stepinac gave his obedience but never swore allegiance to Pavelic or the NDH state ((RP 86)). When Pavelic invited the Zagreb clergy to pay him a visit, Stepinac refused to present them ((RP 353)).
In the course of his work as bishop he spoke to government ministers. But this didn’t imply that he supported their policies and actions. Throughout the world, bishops meet government leaders who have a wide range of political programmes. Certain small religious acts of his have been used to try to discredit him. Slavko Kvaternik was not religious, but his brother Peter was. Peter had been killed during the fighting, and Stepinac on April 15th conducted his funeral ((SAB 60)).
On Easter Sunday, Slavko attended Mass and sat in the seat normally used by government ministers. At the end he went up to Stepinac, still standing at the foot of the altar, knelt and kissed the bishop’s ring ((SAB 60)). Stepinac had no reason to refuse to conduct Peter’s funeral or to deny Slavko a blessing. These were both pastoral acts and not evidence, as some have asserted, that Stepinac was an Ustasha sympathiser.
Stepinac has been criticized for holding a banquet for Ustasha officers at his palace on the 16th April. If this took place, it would not have been a crime. These men had been forced into political exile, but had now returned home. By meeting them at a social function, Stepinac was able to judge who were peaceful and who were dangerous. He could try to influence them to use their new influence with responsibility and justice. At this date there was no clear indication of how the new authorities would rule.
Many books state that by offering a Te Deum [a Mass of thanksgiving] in Zagreb Cathedral in the presence of Pavelic, Stepinac was showing his visible support for the new regime. But what actually occurred?
In the letter to his priests of April 28th, Stepinac ordered a Te Deum to be sung on May 5th in all parish churches to celebrate Croatian independence. ((SAB 62)). The local mayors, the great majority of whom were not Ustasha members or even supporters, were invited to attend.
A problem arose regarding the holding of the Te Deum for Croatian independence in Zagreb Cathedral. The Croatian people had not chosen Pavelic, his government had not been granted general international recognition and the de-jure Yugoslav government was still in existence. Stepinac had recognised Pavelic as the de-facto head of state, but not its de-jure head. In other words, Pavelic was seen as a German appointed administrator who had to be obeyed in civil affairs, but not as the head of an internationally recognised legal state. Pavelic was welcome to attend a Te Deum of thanks for Croatian independence as a private individual, but not as head of state.
This dispute regarding Pavelic’s status first became public when Stepinac had been absent from Pavelic’s arrival at the rail station. The dispute led to the proposed Te Deum in the Cathedral being cancelled ((RP 353)).
He did, however, offer a Mass for Pavelic each year on his birthday, June 13th ((RP 169, SAA 106)). He was praying for him as an individual who needed God’s blessing to act justly ((SL 17)). The Archbishop told his clergy that his visit to Kavaternik and Pavelic did not mean he favoured Ustashism or that he had thereby recognised the government of the Ustasha. Relations between the de-facto state and the church were necessary to protect the people ((RP 353)).
Pavelic’s office was close to the Cathedral, yet once only in four years did he enter it. This was to attend the funeral of the Italian Duke of Aosta in 1943. Pavelic was not officially received at the entrance by Stepinac or by a priest. Being a private individual, he was met by a lay sacristan ((RP 199 and 353)).
Apart from formal occasions, Stepinac visited Pavelic six times. On five these it was to plead for someone ((AHO 15-17)). On the other occasion, he walked into Pavelic’s office, uttered the words, “It is God’s Command: Thou shalt not kill”, and then walked straight out ((AHO 17)). On June 26th the bishops paid a visit to Pavelic.
It was polite but Pavelic was not satisfied with the homage paid ((CF 285)).
Croatia became independent on the 10th and the Germans recognised the Ustasha government on the 12th. So the 12th each year was the anniversary of Ustasha rule, not the tenth. Any church services held on the 10th would not be marking an Ustasha victory.
On April 10th 1942 Stepinac preached: “The greatest victor is not he who grinds cities and villages into dust and ashes, nor him who scatters like chaff mighty armies, nor him before whom men tremble in fear for their earthly life, but Him who is lord of life and death, of time and eternity . . .” ((SAB 90)). Only one man was scattering mighty armies at this time Hitler.
Some books say a pro-Ustasha sermon was preached in the Cathedral on April 10th. 1945. Two observations need to be made. Stepinac did not give the sermon. ((RJW 59)). Secondly, the sermon praised the sacrifices made by Croats for Independence. The version of it quoted in the West is that printed in the Ustasha controlled ‘Katolicki List’ ((RJW 59)). As is explained later in this booklet, the Ustasha censors often added pro-Ustasha words when reporting such sermons and could easily have done so in this instance.
According to the Communists, SS General Kasche paid Stepinac daily visits. But Kasche never visited Stepinac ((AHO 39)) and they only met on three formal occasions ((SAB 109)). Stepinac did however meet General Glaise von Horstenau, an anti-Nazi, several times to intercede for victims of the Ustasha ((SAB 169)). It was well known that the Italian representative in Croatia, Casertano, detested Stepinac ((SAB 170)).
In 1941 Pavelic ordered three priests to leave Stepinac’s staff and take up government appointments. With Stepinac’s backing they refused ((RP 354)) and in July, Stepinac sent Canon Josip Loncar, his close assistant and personal friend, to Mirko Puk, Minister of Justice and Religion. Loncar had often spoken against Nazism, racism and Ustashism to students and priests ((RP 355)). He had looked forward to the day when “All the Orthodox will return to their Orthodox Church” ((RP 233)). He now informed the minister that priests could not join the Ustasha or be Ustasha officials as this was contrary to Canon Law.
Loncar was condemned to death ((RP 355)). The Pope’s representative to the bishops, Abbot Marcone, made a vigorous intervention, and the sentence was commuted to twenty years imprisonment ((SAB 72)). To save the canon’s life the three priests had to resign from their positions on Stepinac’s staff ((RP 354)).
After the war, Loncar gave evidence that the Ustasha authorities had asked the Holy See three times to remove Stepinac ((RP 355)). These incidents indicate the relationship existing between Stepinac and the rulers of the NDH during the summer of 1941.
C). The Holy See
Some authors claim that the Holy See plotted against the existence of Yugoslavia and that Stepinac worked hard to persuade the Holy See to recognise Pavelic’s government ((CF 272-3)). They depict the Pope as eagerly recognising the NDH. Stepinac is said to have asked the Pope to bless the NDH. Others assert that the Vatican exchanged representatives with Pavelic’s evil regime, and that the Pope received both the duke of Spoleto and Pavelic in private audiences. It is also asserted that the Pope welcomed groups of Ustasha to Rome. The facts need to be listed.
a. In August 1939 the Sporsiam agreement gave autonomy to Croatia. Three months later on the 15th of November, the Pope spoke to a group of Croat pilgrims. He urged them:
” . . . to let the Christian faith radiate to the very corner of public life, encouraged by the thought that in your country friendly relations between Church and State can only contribute to public peace and prosperity”. ((CR 161)).
This was clear encouragement for those wishing to make the Sporsiam work, at a time when the Ustasha were opposing the settlement.
b. Following the German invasion, the auditor of the Belgrade Nunciature passed through Zagreb on his way to Rome. Stepinac asked him to recommend to the Pope that the NDH be recognised by the Holy See ((SAB 63)). He was not recommending de-jure recognition. Stepinac himself was refusing this. But de-facto recognition would be in accordance with international law for a neutral country such as the Holy See.
While granting this de-facto recognition of to the NDH, the Holy See continued to give de-jure recognition to the Yugoslav government in exile. Archbishop Ettore Felici, the nuncio in Belgrade since 1938, returned to Rome via Hungary and, although he lived there, retained his accreditation to the Yugoslav government throughout the war ((JFM 148)).
The granting of de-jure or de-facto recognition is not based on whether one country agrees with the politics of another. It is a question of international law. Pavelic was furious at not obtaining the de-jure recognition which Slovakia had received in 1939 ((SAB 65)). But the situation of Slovakia was different as may be seen from the 28 countries, including Britain, the Soviet Union, China and France, which recognised her de-jure. ((See Slovakia booklet on this web site)).
The American Consul remained in Zagreb and informed the NDH government that the United States recognized the sovereignty of Croatia de-facto and that his country was only waiting for an opportune moment to recognize it de-jure. The American representative remained in Zagreb until 22nd June 1941 when, under German pressure, the NDH declared war on America ((IO 1)). Switzerland also granted de-facto recognition ((AK 124)). In October 1943 the Allies signed a secret treaty with the NDH. The Croats agreed not to fire on Allied planes passing over to bomb targets to the north. In return the Allies would stop bombing Croatian cities ((IO 185)). This was a form of de-facto recognition by the Allies.
c. Owing to the small size of the Vatican, several ambassadors to the Holy See, including Niko Mirosevic Sorgio representing Yugoslavia, needed to live in the Italian sector of Rome. Mussolini permitted this, but in July 1941 the Italians accused him of spying and therefore of abusing his accreditation to the Holy See, a neutral country. The Holy See refused to criticise him without proof. The Italians could not produce their evidence because this would have disclosed that they were tapping Vatican telephone lines. When on July 31st he was expelled across the Swiss border, the Holy See protested at this Italian infringement of the Lateran Treaty ((OC 162-4)).
The Holy See continued to recognise the London Yugoslav government as the de-jure government of all Yugoslavia, even though its ambassador was now living in Portugal ((OC 164)). The Communists were the source of much anti-Catholic propaganda, yet the Soviet Union had withdrawn de-jure recognition from the London Yugoslav government in April 1941 and expelled its ambassador ((FM 126)).
d. In May 1941 a delegation led by Pavelic arrived in Rome. It aimed to request the Duke of Spoleto to become king of Croatia; to finalise with Italy the borders of the NDH; and to obtain de-jure Vatican recognition ((SAB 63)). It would have helped Pavelic if Stepinac had been there, but he wouldn’t join the delegation ((AHO 49)). As the delegation was planning to visit the Pope,
Stepinac asked his auxiliary bishop Salis-Seewis to accompany it: ‘as a matter of form’, and he reluctantly agreed ((SAB 63)). The Pope received the Duke of Spoleto as a private individual before he became king. The duke accepted the throne without enthusiasm but never visited Croatia ((SAA 21)). The Pope agreed to see Pavelic privately for half an hour on the 18th of May, providing the Italian press didn’t use it for political purposes and Pavelic arrived in his own car ((ADSS:4 491-6)). The story of the Swiss Guard honouring Pavelic comes from Ustasha propagandists ((MB 105)). To underline the private nature of the receptions, neither the duke nor Pavelic were allowed to see the Secretary of State. Later that evening, the Pope received those who had accompanied Pavelic, but they were not treated as an official delegation. They were introduced as “A group of Catholic Croats accompanied by His Excellency Mgr. Francesco Salis-Seewis, titular bishop of Corico, and auxiliary of Zagreb” ((CF 330)).
During his meeting with Pavelic, the Pope repeated several times that it was a private audience. He refused to grant de-jure recognition to the NDH or send an ambassador. A circular was sent to Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates around the world to explain the private nature of the meetings with Spoleto ana Pavelic ((SAA 21)). Despite this clear papal policy, Nikola Rusinovac arrived in Rome calling himself: ‘The Croatian ambassador to the Holy See’ and this was announced over Zagreb radio.
The Vatican Press Office publicly denied Rusinovac’s right to call himself an ambassador ((SAB 66)). But the Ustasha controlled Croatian press repeatedly implied that the NDH had been recognised by the Holy See. Anti-Catholic authors quote these Ustasha lies as ‘proof’ of papal recognition.
e. Soon afterwards, the Pope appointed Abbot Giuseppe Romiro Marcone as his Apostolic Visitor to the Croatian hierachy ((JFM 149)). This was not a diplomatic title ((JFM 149)) and he was not a nuncio, a legate or an envoy, as stated in some early dispatches. He was not a member of the diplomatic service ((SAA 21)). Neither ‘Osservatore Romano’ nor ‘Acta Apostolicae Sedis’ mentioned the appointment and he continued to be listed in church publications as the abbot of Montevergine ((CF 324)).
Lobkowicz, who had replaced Rusinovac as the NDH ‘representative’ in Rome, hoped Marcone would not lodge with, the Archbishop, as this would emphasise his status as an envoy to the hierarchy not to the government ((SAB 66)). To avoid his presence being used by Pavelic to imply he was an ambassador, Marcone and his secretary, Giuseppe Masucci, arrived in Zagreb unannounced on 3rd August.
A hospital chaplain found beds for them in a monastery. When Stepinac was informed on the 6th, he invited them to live in his palace ((SAB 67)).
The Holy See had deliberately chosen two men without diplomatic training, but this left them open to dangers. They were like lambs amongst wolves. ,Neither could speak Croat and they were treated in a manner which could appear to be that of diplomatic status. Marcone was given precedence on the list of diplomats issued by the NDH ((CF 328)).
A major part of Marcone’s work was to report on the religious needs of the country ((JFM 149)). As he was not accredited to the government, this could have made his work difficult. But Pavelic treated him as a de-facto nuncio so as to raise the prestige of the NDH ((JFM 149)). Marcone did not evade this unofficial honour as it enabled him to meet Pavelic and other government leaders to press the views of the Holy See and intercede for Serbs and Jews.
As he toured the country on fact-finding visits, which involved meeting national and local Ustasha officials, pictures were taken of him with these dignitaries. These were used so as to imply that the Holy See recognised the NDH de-jure and supported Pavelic’s regime. These Ustasha photographs, together with other Ustasha propaganda statements, are now used by anti-Catholic authors as proof of Catholic support for Pavelic. Yet the Ustasha were complaining to Marcone that the bishops were doing nothing to persuade the Holy See to grant de-jure recognition of the NDH ((RJW 55)).
f. The Pope has been accused of welcoming four groups of Ustasha criminals to Rome. But what are the facts?
i). In 1941 a hundred Croatian policemen were guests of the Italian police. While in Rome they had an audience with the Pope on 22nd July ((CF 348)). The NDH had been in existence for only fifteen weeks and there was no evidence of these individuals being guilty of crimes. How many, if any, had joined the Ustasha is not known. Eugen Kvaternik was with them and the enemies of the NDH were accusing him of atrocities, but all sorts of people on all sides were being accused of crimes. Without clear evidence that he was guilty, the Pope couldn’t refuse to meet him.
The papal words to the police would have been to urge them to carry out their duties in a Christian manner. If today a group of British doctors were at a papal audience, and it was alleged that some were guilty of killing unborn children, it is unlikely the Pope would refuse to speak to the whole group.
ii). On 6th February 1942, the Pope spoke to 206 young Croats. The Ustasha media asserted that they were youths in Ustasha uniforms. Anti-Catholics have repeated these Ustasha falsehoods. In reality they were mostly theology students attending Universities in Rome ((CF 348)), so would have been in clerical dress.
iii). At the end of that month, the Pope spoke to a group of Croatians resident in Rome ((CF 348)). It is difficult to see how people not living in Croatia could have been guilty of war crimes.
iv). In December 1942 Croat youths, who were visiting Rome, met the Pope ((CF 348)). There is no evidence they had committed crimes, or were members of the Ustasha party.
g. When Italy switched to the Allied side in 1943, Italians living in Croatia were arrested. The police called on Marcone, who lacked diplomatic immunity. Stepinac claimed that, as a personal representative of the Pope, Marcone was not an Italian. When Stepinac threatened to ring the church bells in protest if Marcone was arrested, he was left alone ((SAA 67)). Marcone continued to live in Yugoslavia after 1945 ((SAA 60)), which shows the Communists recognized that he had not been a diplomat accredited to the NDH.
h. During the life of the NDH, the Holy See did not recognise border changes, nor permit changes in Church administration in the Medjumurge district incorporated into Hungary. Nor did She recognise the absorption of part of Dalmatia by Italy.
i. The refusal of the Holy See to grant de-jure recognition in 1941 may be contrasted with Her recognition in 1992 ((MB 208)). In 1945, Tito’s Communists regime claimed that the various ethnic groups were freely co-operating to build a Socialist Yugoslav Federation. So, as in the Soviet Union, large distinct ethnic peoples were granted the right to leave the federation ((BC 37, CB 53-4)), even though under a Communist dictatorship this could not occur. But with the introduction of free elections, Croatia voted for independence. In this situation the Holy See, as other countries, gave de-jure recognition to the new Croatian state.
D). Forced Conversions
The most serious charge made against the Catholic Church in the NDH is that She instigated the Ustasha’s campaign of forced conversions. The ‘evidence’ for this outrageous accusation may be summarized as follows:
a. Ustasha leaders declared that Serbs who remained in Croatia would have to become Catholics.
b. The Ustasha implemented this policy.
c. The bishops issued regulations in support of this policy.
d. The bishops did nothing to help the suffering Orthodox Serbs.
e. The clergy took a leading part in obtaining these conversions.
f. Hundreds of thousands were converted.
The short answer to these accusations is that the first two items are correct, but the others are untrue. To understand this period, its history needs to be recounted in the manner in which it unfolded.
The Pope, like most observers, was aware of the pent up hatred of many Croats towards the Serbs, and that revenge was highly likely. As part of a letter to Stepinac in May 1941, he urged him to see that the Serbs were not “too harshly treated” ((SAB 63)).
During the first weeks of the NDH people were presenting themselves to priests asking to become Catholics or to be received back into the Church. There were varying motives for this. Some had joined the Serbian Church in order to obtain farmland or gain promotion. Eastern rite Catholics were asking for Eastern rite priests to replace the Orthodox ones who had been imposed on them. Some Catholic girls had become Orthodox so as to marry Serbs, but by now their husbands had fled or been killed. Many of these decided it would be safer to return with their children to the Croatian Catholic community ((SSJ: 63: 81)).
At a time when the government was expelling Serbian clergy so as to destroy all Serbian influence, there was an incentive to disassociate oneself from a church loyal to Serbia. This was especially true of Serbian farmers who had been settled on Croatian land. The most visible way was to leave the Serbian Church and join the Croats in the Catholic Church.
Bosnia had become part of the Austrian Empire in 1878 and, in the following years, several Moslem girls had fled from their families to ask Catholic clergy for protection. Some were wishing to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church. Moslem politicians accused the bishops of kidnapping and forcing conversions. To stem Moslem agitation, the Austrian authorities passed a law in 1891. It introduced a state supervised process for conversion, including a two-month waiting period ((NM 145)). On May 15th 1941 the government simplified this law to enable local authorites to grant permission for immediate conversion on receipt of a written application ((SAB 75)).
Stepinac sent a circular to his priests giving guidance for dealing with different backgrounds and motives of those approaching them. This included normal enquiries required to validate marriages contracted by Catholics outside their church ((SAB 75, CF 279-281)).
About this time reports were heard of Ustasha bands forceably ‘converting’ whole villages. On May 22nd Stepinac, in a letter to the minister of the interior, condemned attacks on Jews, Serbs and Gypsies. [See Jewish section for details]. A week later, Stepinac published an explanation of his circular. In it he made clear that admission to the Church was for those who gave evidence of sincere belief, which was a matter of free choice. No other motives were valid. Applicants must receive instruction, come to Mass and share in the religious life of the Church. Great understanding was to be shown to those who had converted to Orthodoxy under pressure and now wished to return ((SAB 75)).
When the government’s Panovu Agency sent out ‘missionaries’, the Church took steps to control its actions ((RP 233)). In the middle of June the five Croatian and the one Slovenian Franciscan Provincials held a meeting. At this they banned Franciscans from membership of the Ustasha. [See Franciscan section for fuller details].
Following an episcopal meeting, the bishops visited Pavelic on June 26th, to emphasise the need to restrain the Ustasha bands. The following day Pavelic issued an order that there were to be ‘no arbitrary actions’, but it didn’t have any noticeable effect ((SAB 77)). By July the Ustasha authorities were facing the problem that Serbs had become Catholics in order to avoid deportation, but in their hearts remained loyal to Serbia. This was the reason why in several villages the Ustasha killed Serbs who had become Catholics ((FM 164)).
On July 14th a joint Ministerial circular informed the bishops who they could convert. Bishop Lach, auxilary of Zagreb, replied on the 16th that the instructions were against the spirit and teaching of the Church ((SAO 27)). On the same day the government decreed that the Serbian Orthodox should be known as Greco-Oriental ((CF 276)).
Ignoring the Church’s objections, the government published its regulations on July 36th. They may be summarized as follows:
i. The Croatian government desires that persons of Greco-Oriental rite should not change over to the Greco-Catholic rite [i.e. Eastern rite Catholic] save in those parishes which already exist and have already received Greco-Orientals.
ii. Prospective converts must first obtain a permission certificate, costing 30 kuna from the local Ustasha authorities.
iii. Certificates must not be granted, except in exceptional circumstances, to the Greco-Oriental intelligentsia (schoolmasters, priests, tradesmen, artisans and rich peasants).
iv. Where a couple had married in a Catholic Church and their children had been brought up as Catholics, the non-Catholic parent will be granted permission. Where a Catholic married in an Orthodox church and children have not been brought up as Catholics, there should be careful investigation before permission to convert is granted.
v. Orthodox couples married in the Orthodox Church and their children baptised and brought up as non-Catholic cannot be accepted without approval of the Ministry of Justice and Religion.
vi. Peasants, save in exceptional circumstances, may have a certificate of good conduct without difficulty.
vii. Should Greco-Orientals become Protestant and join the Kulturbund while not having German blood, they shall not have the rights of the German minority.
viii. Jews who become Catholics are still under the Non-Aryan law ((CF 283-5)).
These regulations were not promoting: ‘forced conversions’. They were aimed at preventing members of the Serbian middle class outwardly joining a non-Serbian church while privately remaining loyal to Serbia.
In Bishop Lach’s letter of July 16th, he had accepted that the state had to protect itself from those who became Catholics so as to enter Croatian society with the intention of destroying it. He had also accepted that converts to the Eastern rite and amongst intellectuals were few. But he had insisted on the right of converts to join the Eastern rite and of middle class Serbs to become Catholics if they so wished.
During the following years there were cases where the clergy accepted the honesty of a prospective convert but local officials would not issue a certificate of permission, or refused entry into the Eastern rite. This led to letters of protest being sent by clergy to the government. Anti-Catholic books have included extracts from these few letters as ‘evidence’ of the clergy complaining of Ustasha lack of enthusiasm in promoting forced conversions. But once the background is understood, the reason for these letters becomes apparent.
It also needs to be remembered that the NDH was not well organised. While priests were having these difficulties in some areas, in others Ustasha bands were still terrorising peasants into asking to become Catholic Croats. Much depended on the local military situation and the attitude of individual commanders. The efforts of the clergy were mainly devoted to reclaiming the Catholics lost pre-war. But they were also doing their best to protect Serbs from criminal sacrilegious actions.
At first the bishops mainly used private pressure when urging the government to uphold justice and human rights. But by the autumn they were also referring in public to the events of the summer months.
On 26th October 1941 Stepinac preached:
“I would like to draw your attention to one thing if you really want to be true subjects of Christ the King, and that is to love your neighbour, love for the man himself regardless of what his name may be. . . . The danger exists that even those who glory in the name of Catholic, not to mention those who glory in the priestly vocation, may become victims of passion, of hate, and may forget that law which is the most beautiful characteristic trait of Christianity, the law of love. . . .” ((RP 204)).
Despite the chaos, seven bishops got to Zagreb for a meeting on November 17th and 18th ((RP 384)). The Catholic archbishop Josip Ujcic of Belgrade, had learnt from Serbian refugees of Ustasha actions, and had expressed his outrage to the Pope. He was invited to attend as a guest, together with Abbot Marcone ((SAB 77-8)). The bishops agreed a list of decisions and the first ten were despatched to every parish council ((MD 25)). Stepinac sent a copy, which included the final item 11, to Pavelic with a long covering letter dated 20th November.
Note: It appears that a translation by Dr. Sava Bosnitch comes closest to the original, so is used here ((SSJ 5:1:38-47)). The translation in Richard Patee’s book ((RP 384-395)), is very similar and also reliable.
“Poglavnik: The Croatian Catholic Episcopate, assembled in annual plenary conference on November 17 and 18, 1941, approved the following decisions concerning the conversions of Orthodox to the Catholic religion:
1. The Conference considers it a dogmatic principle that the solution of all questions pertaining to the conversion of Orthodox to the Catholic religion is exclusively within the province of the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy, which alone, according to Divine Law and canonical prescriptions, has the right to lay down rules and regulations for such conversions and, as a result, all extra-ecclesiastical interference in this matter is excluded.
2. For this reason no one, outside the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, has the right to appoint “missionaries” who are to take charge of the conversions of Orthodox to the Catholic Church. Any missionary of this kind must receive his mission and the jurisdiction for his spiritual work from the Ordinary [i.e. bishop or provincial] of the place where he is to act. It is, consequently, contrary to dogma and to canonical regulations that “missionaries” receive their mission, unknown to the Ordinary of the place where they work, from the commissioners of communes, representatives of the civil authority, Ustashi officials of the Religious Section of the State Directorate for Reconstruction, or from any civil authority whatsoever.
3. Every such ‘missionary’ must in his work be dependent only on the Ordinary of the place where he works, either directly or indirectly through the pastor of the parish in which he is active.
4. The Catholic Church can recognize as valid only those conversions which have been or will be carried out according to these principles.
5. The civil authority may not ‘annul’ conversions once they have been realized not only according to the laws of the Church, but also according to those of the State.
6. The Croatian Catholic Episcopate elected for this purpose, from among its members, a committee of three persons who are: the President of the Episcopal Conference [i.e. Stepinac]; Bishop of Senj, Monsignor Dr. Victor Buric; and the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Krijevci, Dr. Janko Simrak.
This committee will discuss and settle all questions arising in relation to the conversion of Orthodox to the Catholic religion. This committee will function in agreement, with the Minister of Justice and Religion in those matters which have to do with the civil regulations concerning conversions.
7. [The bishops appointed an executive committee to provide guidance regarding conversions Dr. Franjo Hermann, Augustin Juretic, Janco Kalaj, Nikola Boric, Krunoslav Draganovic. It would be under the supervision of the Bishop’s Committee].
8. Only those may be received into the Catholic Church who are converted without any constraint, completely free, led by an interior conviction of the truth of the Catholic faith, and who have entirely fulfilled the ecclesiastical regulations.
9. [The bishops were here upholding the regulations issued by the Holy See on July 17 and October 18, 1941. These said that converts, especially when they were formerly Catholics of the Oriental rite and left because of threats or pressure, should be directed to Oriental rite parishes where available, but could join the Latin rite if they so desired. The bishops noted that these regulations were broadly in accord with the government regulations of July 30th. The bishops further endorsed the Holy See’s insistence that local civil authorities and lay groups must not interfere in religious affairs].
10. The Bishop’s Committee for Conversions will organize courses for priests who take charge of conversions to Catholicism. They will receive in these courses practical and theoretical instructions for their work.
11. It is necessary to create amongst the Orthodox inhabitants a psychological basis for conversion. Towards this end they shall not only be promised but actually be guaranteed all civil rights, especially personal freedom and the right to hold property.
All proceedings contrary to law in regard to Orthodox shall be strictly forbidden and they shall be penalized as other citizens through due process of law. And, most important, all private actions in destroying the churches and chapels of the Orthodox or the alienation of their property should be severely prohibited”. [This eleventh point was not sent to the parish councils].
“. . . We do not accuse the government of the Independent State of Croatia of these mistakes. We do not intend to present these faults as if they were systematic, but rather as the acts of irresponsible elements who are not aware of their great responsibilities and the consequences of their conduct.
We realize that these acts were above all a reaction to the policies of the past twenty years and to the crimes of the Chetniks and Communists who have committed so many outrages against our peaceful Croatian people. We thank Almighty God for the fact that through your efforts, Poglavnik, the situation is on the verge of normalization and that is exactly why the Catholic Episcopate is exposing the foregoing to you, not in recrimination, but in order that in future all acts of irresponsible elements be avoided and . . . by making obvious what, after all, ought to be done to re-set this work in the right direction, without any further futile attempts”.
[Stepinac then cited reports sent to him by four bishops giving precise details of atrocities carried out against both the Orthodox and those who had been converted to Catholicism, and of political interference in church affairs. Several of these incidents appear in other sections of this booklet]. Stepinac finalised his letter:
“No one can deny that these terrible acts of violence and cruelty have been committed, for you yourself, Poglavnik, have publicly condemned those which the Ustashi have committed and you have ordered executions because of their crimes. Your efforts to insure the reign of justice and order in the country deserves full recognition.
The Croat nation has been proud of its thousand-year old culture and its Christian tradition. That is why we await for it to show in practice, now that it has achieved its freedom, a greater nobility and humanity than that displayed by its former rulers.
. . . . the Church must condemn all crimes and the excesses of irresponsible elements and inexperienced youths and demand full respect for human beings without regard to sex, religion, nationality or race, for all men are the children of God and Christ died for all, that all men may be saved.
We are sure, Poglavnik, that you share the same opinion and that you will do all in your power to restrain the violence of isolated individuals in order to ensure that responsible authorities rule the country. Should that not happen, all work aiming at the conversion of the schismatics will be illusory”.
The resolutions were also sent to the Pope who thanked the bishops for: “ . . . the decisivess and courage with which the bishops had rejected the right of the civil power to give orders concerning religious conversion which must be the result of inner conviction and not outside pressures”. ((SAB 78)).
It has been asserted that Stepinac in his covering letter was trying to make excuses for Pavelic. But the letter was not an academic or theological treatise, nor a judgement on the personal guilt of Pavelic. It was aimed to coax him into supporting the moderating elements within the Ustashe leadership. The bishops had doubts as to whether the government would be moved by protests based on moral principles alone, so they also used arguments based on national self- interest. These included national honour; the views of neutrals; economic and social problems and the danger of the Orthodox becoming Moslem or joining the Communist partisans.
The bishops were probably still uncertain as to what degree Pavelic was in full control and whether he was supporting or restraining the fanatics within his party. It must be remembered that a vicious civil war was being fought and the military needs of local commanders frequently dictated policy. In the early days, Serb survivors of atrocities had gone to Zagreb to protest at the actions of local Ustasha units, expecting Pavelic to protect and assist them ((CBA 43)). It was diplomatic for Stepinac to blame minor officials, and government ‘mistakes’, rather than to condemn Pavelic as a bloodthirsty fiend. This would have achieved nothing for the Serbs or for the Church.
Mile Budek had been removed from the government and the wilder Ustasha bands were being brought under control. Some who had been guilty of atrocities had been executed. There were therefore grounds for hope that government policy could be encouraged to move further in a more peaceful and lawful direction.
The same ‘diplomatic’ style was used after the war by Dr. Francis Salis, Vicar-General of Zagreb. While Stepinac was in prison, he protested to Tito regarding Communist officials persecuting nuns, those at prayer and the removal of crucifixes etc. He wrote: “We are convinced, Marshall, that you neither know nor approve of these outrageous actions”. ((MR 191)).
Yet Salis was aware that as a Communist, Tito aimed to destroy religious belief and the Partisans had already deliberately murdered large numbers of priests and lay Catholics.
It is worth noting that during the summer of 1941, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Serbia asked the Germans to intervene in the NDH to protect the Serbian inhabitants. Some have criticised the wording of its letter as ‘ingratiating’. The bishops used pleas rather than demands, hoping this would bring out German magnanimity ((JT 266)). Like the Catholic bishops, they were more interested in gaining relief for those suffering, than providing melodramatic quotes for Allied propaganda or future history books.
During the summer of 1941, individual priests faced terrible dilemmas. If a group of Serbs came to him asking to become Catholics so as to avoid Ustasha terror, what was he to do? To agree would be against Church teaching and law. Also he could appear to be co-operating with the Ustasha gangs. But if he refused he would be guilty of turning away panic stricken men, women and children begging for his help. This was a situation for which their training had not prepared them. Stepinac had to remove priests from parishes when their lives were in danger because they refused to accept ‘converts’ ((SL 21)).
The committee established in November 1941 by the bishops to watch over conversions, is accused in some anti-Catholic publications as having itself promoted a forced conversion campaign. But, due to the instructions already given and to the situation having improved by the end of the summer, the committee did not do any work ((RP 235)).
Stepinac does however appear to have modified his policy at times. Other bishops probably did so also. This is indicated by an undated 1941 circular found in Stepinac’s office:
“When persons of Jewish or Orthodox faith who are in danger of death and wish to convert to Catholicism present themselves to you, receive them in order to save their lives. Do not require any special religious knowledge for the Orthodox are Christians like us and the Jewish faith is the one from which Christianity originated.
The role and task of Christians is first of all to save people. when these sad and savage times have passed those who converted because of belief will remain in our Church and the others will return to their own when the danger is over”. ((SAB 85)).
It is not known to how many priests this was sent. It was marked: ‘Confidential’ ((SAB 85)) and would have gone to those under serious pressure. The last sentence would be politically sensitive if it fell into government hands.
On 27 September 1941, Stepinac had asked Rome for guidance regarding Orthodox property and wrote again on 21 November. A reply of 9th December ((CF 296-7)) set out principles which may be summarized as follows:
i. Where a Catholic church already exists, the schismatic [i.e. Orthodox] church should not be touched.
ii. When there is no Catholic church and all or nearly all, the schismatics have converted, their church may be used following a simple blessing. A solemn consecration should not be made. [i.e. a temporary measure].
iii. ‘If the converts are a minority, it is improper to take over the schismatic church; some suitable hall should be adapted.’Property should not be accepted: unless there is certainty regarding the freedom and sincerity of the offer made by the lawful owners’.
By the late spring of 1942 the situation in most areas had changed. The Croatian Orthodox Church was being established and the government was not encouraging forced conversions, although isolated incidents still occurred. Most of those who had outwardly changed their religion had now transferred to the new Croatian Orthodox Church ((MO 50)). An insincere conversion was more likely to be due to reason of business, or social advancement, rather than fear. This was reflected in a public statement by Stepinac on March 5th, 1942:
“People seeking conversion to Catholicism must give evidence of real belief in Catholicism . . . if other motives exist and they are not sinful this is not an obstacle . . .The important thing is that the person wanting conversion should show goodwill. If at the end the priest makes a mistake the fault is not his but that of the aspiring convert, who has abused the goodness of the priest and ignored God’s grace freely offered to him”. ((SAB 85)).
The Germans and the Ustasha were claiming to be building a ‘New Order’ in Europe. At the end of May 1942, Stepinac referred to this in a sermon.
“It would be an absurdity to speak of a new order in the world, no matter what its source, if human personality is not valued in that order, the immortal soul of man ... which has its inalienable rights ... It would also be an absurdity to think that the Catholic Church could be afraid of any human force in defending the elemental rights of the human personality and the freedom of conscience”. ((RP 269-270)).
During a sermon on 29th June 1942 Stepinac hinted that he had agreed to admit people into the Church, from the motive of Christian charity, when they had asked for protection ((SL 22)).
On March 14th, 1943 ((RP 271-6)), and again on October 25th ((RP 276-281)), he publicly and firmly condemned racialism as it affected the Jews, but his words also applied to the Serbs and Gypsies. [See Jewish section].
During a further sermon to thousands on the 31st of October 1943 he said:
“We have always asserted the value in public life of the principles of the eternal law of God without regard to whether it applied to Croats, Serbs, Jews, Bohemians, Catholics, Mohammedans, or Orthodox. . . . we cannot physically force anyone to fulfill the eternal laws of God. . . . each will answer for his actions (Gal.6:5). For this reason we are unable to answer longer for those hotheads and extremists amongst the clergy. . . .The Catholic Church knows nothing of races born to rule and races doomed to slavery.
The Catholic Church knows races and nations only as creatures of God . . . for it the Negro of Central Africa is as much a man as the European. For it the king in a royal palace is, as a man, exactly the same as the lowest pauper or gypsy in his tent. . . .The system of shooting hundreds of hostages for a crime, when the person guilty of the crime cannot be found, is a pagan system which only results in evil. . . . all the world is fighting for a new social order . . . the “Neue Ordnung”. . . .We condemn all injustice; all murder of innocent people; all burning of peaceful villages; all killings, all exploitation of the poor. . . .the Catholic Church upholds that order which is as old as the Ten Commandments of God. We are for that social order which is written not on paper that will fall into dust but which is written by the hand of the living God in the souls of men”. ((RP 283-6)).
He added that crimes and injustices were driving people to the forests ((RP 285)). By these words he was accusing the perpetrators of helping the Communists to gain recruits.
The Ustasha leaders were furious and priests were arrested for publicly reading extracts from the sermon. Stepinac was placed under house arrest for several days and the sermon banned from the press ((AHO 20)). But it was made known by leaflets.
Jules Makanec, Minister of Public Instruction, in a long article in ‘Nova Hrvatska’ of 7th November ((RP 287-291)) extolled racism:
“If a man is the image of God, then European man is so to a special degree: he is, without doubt, more so than a Negro of Central Africa”. He attacked clergy who: “spread political confusion and defection among the soldiers. He wrote of: “. . . that high ecclesiastical dignitary who has recently, in his sermons, passed beyond the limits of his vocation and begun to meddle in affairs in which he is not competent”.
Anyone who makes an estimate of the number of conversions, should state as to which type he is referring. A total of 200-300,000 has been suggested ((MT 111)). But amongst them would have been Catholics, who had “conformed to the Serbian Church due to pressure or bribery, and were now returning to the church of their youth. It was estimated that pre-war 30,000 Catholic girls had become Orthodox in order to marry ((TB 12)) and many men had done so for career or social reasons. It was generally accepted in Catholic circles that 200,000 Catholics had become Orthodox between the wars due to discrimination and political pressure ((SL 22)).
The Orthodox accepted as ‘converts’ in order to save their lives, were not considered by the Church as real converts. Others would have been opportunists lacking any true religious commitment. After the war, Stepinac stated that there were very few true conversions amongst the Serbs ((SAA 106)). Confirmation that the policy of ‘forced conversions’ was not motivated by religion comes from an unexpected source. In the Communist Indictment of Stepinac, read at his ‘trial’, were the words:
“No one believed at the time, since it was clear to all, that Pavelic or the Ustasha were interested in religion at all, but in terrorism against the Serb people. Everyone was aware that even conversion did not save the people from massacre”. ((RP 182-3)).
Popagandists draw a picture of close Church-Ustasha co-operation and a cosy friendship between Stepinac and Pavelic. The killings and ‘conversions’ reached their peak in July 1941. Yet at that time Stepinac and Marcone were striving to prevent Stepinac’s personal friend and subordinate, Canon Loncar, from being executed because of his outspoken defiance of Pavelic.
E). Some of Stepinac’s actions
a. As the Yugoslav state collapsed in the spring of 1941, the Orthodox Metropolitan bishop of Zagreb, Dositej Vasic, was arrested and beaten prior to being expelled to Serbia. He told a fellow prisoner that he would have been killed if Stepinac had not firmly intervened on his behalf, and arranged for his release and safe journey to Serbia on May 14th. He also said that his Cathedral would have been burnt down with the Synagogue ((SSJ 53: 97)).
b. When Stepinac heard from Catholic Archbishop Ujcic of Belgrade, that Orthodox bishop Sava Trlajic of Gornji Karlovic was in jail, he went with Marcone to Pavelic to ask for his release. But they found he had already been murdered ((SAB 73)).
c. Orthodox bishop Ireneus Ciric asked Stepinac to help his brother Stephen Ciric, a former Yugoslav government Minister, who was in a concentration camp. Following Stepinac’s intervention, Pavelic promised that he would be released ((SL 20)).
d. On May 14th 1941, Stepinac protested to Pavelic that he had heard that 260 Serbian men had been murdered at Glina ((AHO 15)).
e. After the war, Stepinac’s secretary, Stephen Lackovic, wrote regarding his Archbishop: “Innumerable were his protests and interventions before Croatian and German authorities in favour of single or entire villages or groups of Serb Orthodox in Croatia, for whom the Archbishop sought mercy. I was there, as his former secretary. I wrote the protests and petitions and accompanied him”. ((SL 21)).
f. Stepinac rescued 7-8,000 homeless, orphaned Serbian children of Chetnik and Partisan parents from camps ((RJW 57, SAA 36)). He placed them in foster homes or Catholic institutions and gave instructions that they were not to be brought up as Catholics ((SAA 75)).
g. Stepinac was criticised for putting Catholic monks into the Orthodox monastery of Orahovica. But this building had earlier been taken from the Catholic Pauline Fathers and handed over to the Orthodox. When they left it empty in 1941, Stepinac considered that he had the right to use it for sheltering Trappist monks driven out of Slovenia by the Germans ((SL 23, SAB 163)).
h. In July 1941 he protested to Pavelic regarding young priests being recruited into the Ustasha ((CF 411)).
i. In December 1941, Bogdan Raskovic, secretary to the Ministry of Communications in the Belgrade government, visited Stepinac secretly. He was pleased at all the archbishop had done to save Serbs ((RP 296)).
. When, during a sermon on December 31st 1941, Stepinac condemned Nazi and Ustasha principles, some threatened to kill him ((AHO 17)).
k. In February 1942 Stepinac protested to the minister of the Interior regarding the destruction of Orthodox churches especially in Senj ((SL 21, AHO 17)).
l. Stepinac sent chaplains and welfare aid to Croats in German and Italian camps in various parts of Europe ((AHU 22)).
m. Stepinac has been criticised for not expelling any priests from the priesthood. but his immediate authority was limited to the priests in the Zagreb diocese. Of these five hundred, it is thought that 15 were in the Ustasha and thirty sympathised with it ((RP 354)). Although a few had to be disciplined for meddling in politics, none were guilty of a crime ((SL 17)). He did suspend priests who had come to Zagreb from other dioceses and were guilty of crimes. Also, as Vicar General of the army, he was able to suspend unworthy chaplains when he had proof of their misdeeds. [See Military Vicar section].
n. He helped a German Communist who was escaping from the Nazis to reach the Soviet Union ((MR 39-40)). He persuaded German and Italian commanders to discipline troops who had committed crimes ((RP 262-6)).
o. When professor Zunic criticised the anti-Ustasha activities of the clergy, Stepinac expelled him from the University ((SSJ 2: 20)).
F). The other bishops
a. Apart from Stepinac, there would have been fifteen other Catholic bishops on the territory of the NDH if all Sees had keen filled ((CF 272)).
Wild accusations, contrary to the evidence, have been made that they were mostly members or supporters of the Ustasha.
b. The Croatian bishops welcomed Croatian independence, as did Catholic Croatian publications. For the bishops’ enemies, this is enough to label them as ‘Ustasha’ and guilty of approving the most bestial of atrocities. So it is necessary to separate facts from assertions.
c. By May 1941 over 700 of the 831 priests in German occupied Slovenia had been arrested ((VAL 199)). When they were expelled to Croatia, the Croatian bishops found work for them (300 in the Zagreb diocese alone). They also established a bureau to aid other Slovene refugees throught Croatia ((RP 107)).
d. Archbishop Ivan Saric of Sarajevo was accused of being a secret Ustasha member since 1934, of visiting Ustasha units in South America and of meeting Pavelic in Italy. He was also accused of dedicating an ode to Pavelic although the Ustasha had slaughtered Serbs.
Before 1941, Saric was popular amongst the Serbs and this annoyed Serbian political extremists ((TAB. 11 Aug. 1951)). It is agreed that he was a strongly patriotic Croat ((RJW 34)) and among the bishops the most favourably disposed towards the NDH ((SAB 93)). From 1922 Saric had been an archbishop with hundreds of priests, nuns and monks under his authority. He was holding an important place in Bosnian and church life. Is it likely that he would have taken the solemn Ustasha oath to obey the orders of a self-appointed leader of a few hundred armed men living abroad? If he had done so in public, he would have been arrested on his return home. If taken in secret, his detractors would have no evidence. The Italian author who first made this assertion didn’t produce any evidence ((CF 271)).
A bishop visiting emigrants, far from their homes, will not exclude individuals from religious and social gatherings because of their political opinions. He is not likely to take notice of allegations made by their political enemies working on behalf of a dictator. Pavelic was a lawyer and former member of the Yugoslav parliament. If the country had continued as a democracy he would most likely have been a prominent member of parliament. Saric had no reason to refuse to speak to him.
His ode was not exceptional nor an encouragement to crime. Saric composed odes about other public figures, such as the Emperor Franz Joseph ((SAA 33)), the Emperor Charles ((SAA 33)), the Peasant Party leader Macek ((SAA 33)), Archduke Ferdinand ((MB 39)).
These people had widely different political agendas, so Saric could not have intended his odes to be a sign of approval of all their political aims and future actions.
Ustasha, Chetnik and Communist publications, each wishing to portray the bishop as a friend of the Ustasha, were keen to reprint this ode from time to time. It is often presented as having been written and published at Christmas 1941, following the Ustasha terrorism of the summer months, and therefore was condoning these horrors.
But the ode, ‘When the Sun Shines’, first appeared in the April-May 1941 edition of ‘Vrhbosna’ in Sarajevo ((EP 65)). This was during the first days of Croatian independence before the ethnic fighting and atrocities.
The archbishop took possession of a Jewish owned house ((CF 411)). It is claimed that this shows he was anti-Semitic. But this conclusion does not necessarily follow from what had occured. Providing charity while not appearing to condone evil acts can pose ethical problems. When war has destroyed much accommodation and a town is full of refugees, a local administrator will frequently grant the use of empty properties to those in need. It appears that a Hungarian Jew left some properties empty when he had fled. In 1943 one was handed to Saric. Whether he used it for housing refugees, for relief organisations or other purposes we do not know. However, some Catholic priests and lay people felt that its use could imply the condoning of German violence.
They wrote to Marcone and he asked a government Minister to exchange the property for another or grant funds ((CF 411)). These funds would presumably have been used to repair another property. This event does not prove the Archbishop was acting in a reprehensible manner or was anti-Semitic. These Catholics in Sarajevo must have had a sharp sense of justice when they appealed to the Pope’s representative regarding one empty house in the middle of a war. If this was the most controversial of Saric’s acts, it points to him not being guilty of anything more serious.
e. Jozo Garic of Banja Luka. On 10th April 1941, Orthodox bishop Paton Javanovic of Banja Luka, refused to obey a government order to leave the country ((SAA 24)). When threatened, he contacted Garic on May 4th to ask whether he could gain him a few days respite. Garic obtained an assurance from the authorities that the bishop would be safe for two or three days while he prepared to leave. But that night six thugs broke into his palace and murdered him ((SAA 24-25)). Garic then broke off all relations with the government ((SSJ 2: 20)).
In a letter to Stepinac on 4th November 1941, he gave evidence of Ustasha crimes at Banja Luka and Stepinac used this information in his letter to Pavelic sixteen days later.
f. Aloysius Misic of Mostar. He issued a circular to his priests on 30th June 1941 which was read from all pulpits. It informed the congregations that those who murdered and took the possessions of others would not be granted absolution ((SAA 32)). This was equivalent to excommunication.
On August 18th, he wrote to Stepinac deploring what was occurring ((SAA 32)). It was Misic who in a letter dated 7th November 1941 made known to Stepinac the Ustasha atrocity at Surmanci near Mostar ((SAA 32)). This atrocity is mentioned in most books concerning this period, yet Misic’s part in exposing it, is usually ignored.
Bishop Misic died in late 1941 and in April 1942, the Pope chose Dr. Petar Cule to replace him ((SAB 95)). At first Pavelic objected but, when threatened with excommunication by the Holy See, backed down ((SAB 96)). To stress the unity of the Church in the face of Pavelic’s antagonism, both Archbishops, Stepinac and Saric, consecrated Cule as bishop in October 1942, with Abbot Marcone also being present ((SAB 96, CF 412)).
g. Pavao Butorac of Kotor and Administrator of Dubrovnik was accused of carrying a revolver. This is only hearsay. He was the bishop who, on 4th November 1941, wrote to Stepinac condemning the ‘missionaries’ sent by the Ustasha: “. . . in whose hands a revolver might be better placed than a crucifix”. ((RP 391)). It is possible he said something similar to people in his own diocese and a garbled story reached the Chetniks in the forests.
h. Antun Aksamovic of Djakovo was accused of urging forced conversions. Yet Stepinac said he was the most anti-NDH of all the bishops ((SAB 93)). He was one of those singled out for praise by Rapotec, in his report to the Yugoslav government in London, as: “upholding Christian values”. ((SAB 94)). Aksamovic had openly suggested the Orthodox could become Catholics to save their lives and return to Orthodoxy after the Ustasha had gone ((SAB 93)). He was active in saving Jews from deportation ((SAB 70)), and Pavelic’s chaplain complained that he was not giving support to the government ((RJW 55)).
He was a cheerful character and managed to be on good terms with the officials of both the NDH and Tito’s government. They each tried to win him over. The NDH awarded him a medal during the war and the Communists one in 1959 ((SAA 236)). This doesn’t prove he was an Ustasha and a Communist. When a telegram of congratulations to Pavelic was sent in his name, he publicly repudiated it ((SSJ 2: 20)).
i. Klement Bonefacic of Split was another bishop praised by Rapotec, the representative of the London government ((SAB 94)).
j. Dionizije Njaradi of Krizevci (the Eastern rite diocese) died in April 1941. So Janko Simrak, his auxiliary bishop took over the administration of the diocese. In April 1942 the Pope appointed him as its bishop ((SAB 55)).
Pavelic bitterly opposed his installation ((SL 23)) because he was anti-Ustasha, but the threat of excommunication quietened him ((SAB 96)). Simrak was installed on 18th August 1942 ((CF 412)). Despite his record, his enemies accused him of supporting attacks on the Serbs. It is claimed that a letter exists in which he appointed Fr. Naned Gavrilovac to the Orthodox parish of Bolfan. But this parish had been an Eastern rite Catholic parish until the Yugoslav government imposed a Serbian Orthodox priest. The parishioners had now asked for a Catholic priest ((SL 23)).
k. When the bishops sent their joint protest to Pavelic in November 1941, it was signed by Stepinac, Boniface of Split, Aksamovic of Djakovo, Srebrnic of Krk, Pusic of Harvar, Buric of Senj and Simrak the Apostolic Administrator of Krizevci ((SAB 78)). The See of Ragusa was vacant ((CF 332)) and some bishops were unable to attend due to travel difficulties ((SAB 78)). But from the letters sent by Garic, Misic, Saric and Butoric prior to the meeting, as mentioned above, we can see they would have agreed with its resolutions condemning Ustasha sinful actions.
l. At the end of the war several bishops escaped to the West. Some authors present this as evidence that they were guilty of crimes because unwilling to stand trial. But these bishops had been particularly vilified by the Communists and would have been murdered on capture or following a mock trial. By saving their lives they were able to serve other refugees who had escaped to the west.
m. When reports of ‘forced conversions’ reached London, the Yugoslav government wrote to the Pope on 9th January 1942 asking him to condemn and restrain the Croatian bishops. This letter is sometimes offered as evidence of the guilt of the bishops. But it was based on third-hand allegations coming out of Serbia. Sixteen days later the Holy See replied that the Croatian Episcopate had been concerned when large numbers had asked to become Catholics. So a Bishop’s Committee had been established to ensure conversions were due to conviction not constraint ((AHO 60)).
When the Yugoslav government obtained fuller details from the territory of the NDH, it sent a document to the Pope agreeing that the conduct of the bishops had been correct and in accordance with Canon Law ((O.R. Oct. 7-8, 1946)).
G). The Franciscan Order
Following the conquest of Bosnia by the Moslems in the 17th century, it was mainly Franciscan priests who served the Catholics. Their organisation could more easily maintain a low profile than bishops. In 1878 Bosnia became an Austrian protectorate. A hierachy was established in 1881 ((NCE 14:1086-9)). Diocesan priests took over many parishes, but in 1941 the Franciscan clergy still predominated throughout Bosnia. In the NDH as a whole there was one Franciscan to every two diocesan priests ((CF 411)).
The Croatian Franciscan seminary was situated near Siena in northern Italy ((SAA 29)), and when Pavelic established his Ustasha camp close by, the young Croatians came to know one another. Many seminarians saw no conflict between a priest’s ministry and his support for the right of Croats to wage armed resistance to Serbian rule. But for a few, nationalism, became their ‘religion’ and took precedence over loyalty to the Church. These men continued their studies and were ordained, so providing them with a clerical cover for their political activities.
An Ustasha paper in June 1941, referred to the time before the German invasion: “Things that you probably did not know were then taking place. Ustasha disguised as monks came to villages carrying all sorts of things under their robes, and prepared the people”. ((EP 52)). Other priests were committed to both nationalism and the priesthood, and when their superiors forbad involvement in politics, some rebelled against Church authority but the vast majority were both patriotic to Croatia and led lives of religious dedication.
In April 1941 the Ustasha agents within the Franciscans took minor military actions against the Yugoslav forces. These Ustasha priests deserted their parishes and assumed posts in central and local administration, or joined Ustasha military units as government appointed chaplains.
In the Zagreb diocese, where much of the population was educated, priests were banned from involvement in politics. But many Bosnian villagers relied on their priests to speak up for their human and social rights. So the Franciscans still permitted their members to join political parties, providing they were not specifically anti-Christian ((RP 363-4)).
As soon as communications were restored following the German invasion, the Franciscan General in Rome made contact with the Provincials in Croatia. In a letter dated 14th May he wrote:
“Recommend to the brothers to fulfill their duties conscientiously and treat involvement in public affairs with much caution”. ((OFM)).
On the 22nd he spoke to the Provincial of Dalmatia by phone. He seems to have heard disquieting news, because the following day he wrote to all the Provincials urging them to:
“Recommend to brothers to engage in their religious and priestly duties and not in public business and politics, where great caution is required. . . . to be just and noble in all things. Never to render evil for evil, nor persecute the innocent, nor support hatred. With meekness, carefully look after the illustrious name and honour of this Croatian nation. He especially advised then to have nothing to do with religious persecution against the Orthodox and the Jews. The Catholic Church can never approve the persecution of those who, in good faith, live in another religion. They must not repeat or approve religious propaganda against non-Catholics. In particular he makes himself blameworthy if he puts an external distinction on adherents of other religions and expels them from the soil where they have lived for centuries. The past injustices against Catholics must be corrected, but Croats must not do against others, especially the Orthodox, the same or perhaps greater injustices than that done by the previous Belgrade government”. ((OFM)).
The Provincial of Dalmatia was in Rome from the 27th May till 2nd June. It was arranged that the Provincial in Zagreb would call all the Provincials in Yugoslavia to a conference. The five Croatian and one Slovenian Provincials, together with the Archbishop of Belgrade and Abbot Marcone, met on the 12th and 13th of June. It was agreed that a Franciscan could not be a member of the Ustasha because its constitution was not in accord with Catholic doctrine. They also recognised the need for all to hold prudent reservations regarding public and political affairs. The decisions were sent to all Franciscans in all the Provinces ((OFM)).
For the Bosnian Provincial the implementation of these directives was not simple. If a good priest resigned from his village civic committee, fanatics could take control and thereby increase the dangers for the Serbs. The Provincial needed time for consultation and pursuasion. But on the 24th July the Franciscans in Rome issued detailed instructions allowing no room for compromises:
1. Strive prudently but resolutely for the implementation of the conclusion adopted at the provincial’s meeting . . . which bans any Franciscan from being a member of the Croatian Ustasha movement.
2. Endevour most resolutely that Franciscans attend only to spiritual and ecclesiastical affairs, leaving secular and political business to laymen and their control.
3. Franciscans must not take part in the persecution of Serbs and Jews, in the confiscation of their personal possessions and land, in the banishment of Serbs to Serbia and the re-settling of Croats in places vacated by Serbs.
4. In keeping with this, no Franciscan shall be member: a) of committees or courts investigating offences committed by Chetniks and other Serbs against Croats, and meting out punishment to the above-mentioned: b) of committees or offices dealing with re-settling of Croats in places vacated by Serbs and on land taken away from them, and: c) of committees or offices dealing with the banishment of Serbs and confiscation of their property.
5. Franciscan parishes, monasteries or provinces must not accept as gift or buy property and personal possessions which belonged to Serbs and Jews before the war.
6. Insofar as they are able, Father Provincials and more prominent Franciscans should spare no effort in pleading with the authorities and leading officials in today’s Independent State of Croatia not to carry out reprisals, not to persecute the innocent, not to confiscate property and not to forcibly banish Serbs from their homes.
7. Wherever the occasion arises, Franciscans should protect Serbs and Jews both from the populace and State authorities. Insofar as they are able, Futher Provincials and monastery superiors should extend cautious, clandestine and material assistance to the persecuted and needy Serbian brothers.
8. Franciscans must not take part in forcible and mass conversion of Orthodox believers to the Catholic faith. They must refuse to administer any Orthodox parish even if Their Eminences the local Ordinaries should offer it to them. Of course, individual conversions to Catholicism out of conviction and from free choice are permitted and desirable today as always.
9. All clergy (parish priests and chaplains) in Franciscan parishes, where Catholics are intermingled with Serbs and people of other faiths, who are irascible and unreasonable, should be removed and replaced by mature, honest and prudent people.
10. If a Franciscan carried away by national fervour, offends against obligatory tolerance towards people of other faiths and against Christian love for fellow-men, he should be punished in accordance with the gravity of his error, and in the first place by transferring him to another area where he will not have the opportunity for similar actions ((SSJ 10: 56)).
The accusation by anti-Catholics that the Franciscan Order organised an orgy of killings is based on the acts of a few individuals. An examination of how the Order treated its renegade friars destroys this myth.
Accusation 1. Fr. Tomislov Filipovic-Majstorovic, the Franciscan commandant of Jasonovac concentration camp attended Mass daily till the end of the war ((EP 255)). He was responsible for forty thousand Jews, Gypsies and Serbs being slaughtered there.
Answer: Filopovic, sometimes known as Miroslov, was vicar of Petricevac parish. During 1941, after repeated warnings to keep out of Ustasha politics in Banja Luka, his Provincial transferred him to Rama. In February 1942 the Banja Luka coal mines were destroyed and an Ustasha unit was ordered to undertake a punitive expedition against the nearby Serbian villages of Drakulici, Motike and Sargovac. These villages were situated in Filopovic’s former parish. Without permission, he returned to Banja Luka, became chaplain to the unit, and went with it to attack the villages ((RP 364-5)).
At a trial held by his Franciscan superiors, he claimed he went in order to identify the few Catholics in the villages so they would not be harmed. The Catholics, being Croats, would not have been involved in the destruction of the Mines. His superiors refused to accept his defence and expelled him from the Order in May 1942. Soon afterwards he left the priesthood and the Church ((SAA 28)). Stories of him as an ex-Catholic being at Mass daily till 1945 are without foundation.
After he had left the Church, he became an Ustasha officer at the Jasenovac camp, serving under Vjekoslav Max Luburic, the camp commander ((MTA 152)). It was then that he committed the acts for which he became notorious.
Accusation 2. Fr. Justin Medic was a personal chaplain to Pavelic.
Answer: Medic was a chaplain in the Yugoslav army until it was disbanded. He then made himself a chaplain with the Ustasha militia. When he refused to obey his Provincial’s order to leave this position, he was suspended. In response, he left the Franciscan Order ((RP 365)).
Accusation 3. Fr. Hinko Prejic was a member of the Ustasha.
Answer: Preejic was another chaplain with the Yugoslav army and, when it was disbanded, returned to his monastery. Later, following disputes with his superiors, he left the Franciscan Order ((RP 365)).
Accusation 4. Fr. Radoslav Glavas was an Ustasha leader who worked closely with Stepinac to obtain forced conversions.
Answer: Glavas was a young and energetic Franciscan who abandoned his parish in April 1941 to go to Siroki Brijeg. It is said he led the disarming of the local police and captured the post office ((EP 54)). In May he accompanied Pavelic to Rome ((TB 25)), and was then appointed by Pavelic to be head of the religious section in the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs ((SAB 75)). It was from this position that he became involved in trying to dictate to the bishops who they could and could not convert. (See ‘forced conversions’ section).
In February 1942 Glavas on behalf of the government, aided the formation of the Croatian Orthodox Church ((MO 40)). He ignored all Church orders for priests to cease political activities. He met Stepinac on once only ((SL 12)).
Accusation 5. Fr. Ilija Tomas was an Ustasha and took part in killings.
Answer: Tornas appears to have joined the Ustasha in 1937. As soon as the Germans invaded he deserted his parish and, together with another rebel priest, took military action. He became a local Commissioner ((EP 54)) and as such was allegedly involved in massacres. Soon afterwards, Chetniks killed him, allegedly with 22 knife wounds ((TB 37)). So his superiors did not have the opportunity to bring him to trial.
Accusation 6. Fr. Zvonko Brekalo assisted in massacres at three villages and later was an officer at Jasenovac.
Answer: When Stepinac heard of his shocking conduct at Banja Luka, he took steps in January 1943 to have him removed from his position as an army chaplain. He was suspended from the priesthood ((RP 352)). This was before he moved to Jasenovac.
Accusation 7. Fr. Brkljacic became an Ustasha officer serving at Jasenovac, and Fr. Bojanovic became prefect of Gospic, where he helped in a massacre ((SAA 28)).
Answer: If they did so they were deserting their religious vocations. Both the accusations were heard second-hand ((SSJ 2: 20)).
Accusation 8. There were other Franciscan murderers.
Answer: Some accusations may be true. The Franciscan superiors took action when necessary and able, but they did not treat a man as guilty merely because his enemies said so. Fr. Peter Berkovic was accused of crimes, yet Stepinac’s secretary said he was innocent ((SL 13)).
Accusation 9. Most Ustasha leaders, such Artukovic, Djumandzic and Glavas were educated in Franciscan schools.
Answer: Ethnic hatreds were strongest where communities were intermingled and competing. So it was amongst the Croats living in Bosnia, and in the Serb districts of pre-war Croatia, where most of the extremists were to be found ((CBA 43)). Mirko Puk was from the Serb tpwn of Glina south of Zagreb ((SSJ 17:78)). Pavelic came from central Bosnia ((MTA 124)). Vjekoslav Vrancic was from Mostar in Bosnia ((IO 28)). Artukovic was from Ljubuski, southwest of Mostar ((IO 17)), as was Josip Dumandzic ((EP 60)). Budek was born in the Serb town of Grocac ((IO 18)) in Dalmatia.
As the Franciscans provided the high school education for Croats in these areas, nearly all Croatian Bosnian leaders of all parties would have attended them. From election results, we know that the huge majority of former pupils supported the moderate Croatian Peasant Party while only 10% voted for the ‘Party of Rights’ ((FCL 4)).
Other former students promoted the Yugoslav Ideal, while some became Partisans or non-political. Only a few joined the Ustasha and fewer still committed crimes. The Moslem Vice-President of the NDH also came from Bosnia ((RL 600)).
Accusation 10. Many Franciscans were executed, following war-crime trials.
Answer: Priests acted as chaplains to men serving in the Croatian conscripted army (the Domobran), not the Ustasha. If a unit was ordered to execute hostages, this doesn’t mean the chaplain approved.
The Communists routinely executed captured officers and priests with the excuse that they were ‘war criminals’. A secret trial, execution and a public notice that they were collaborator with the Ustasha, was standard practice ((MTA 177)).
A ‘war-crime trial’ of 200 intellectuals, including 15 priests, was held at Dubrovnic. The trial for each victim lasted one minute ((TB 48)). Modesto Martincic, the Franciscan Provincial, said he was sure most priests were not guilty of the crimes for which they were accused, at least not to the extent maintained in the accusations ((RP 368)).
Accusation 11. Twenty-eight friars at Krizevci convent were found guilty.
Answer: The Communists executed them for ‘hostile acts’, yet none had taken up arms. Most were known for their hostility to fascism and there was no semblance of a trial ((RP 472)).
Accusation 12. The Prozor monastery was an Ustasha stronghold.
Answer: The size of monasteries made them attractive places for armies to hold. If Ustasha or Dombran troops requisitioned them, there was little the monks could do. A Communist writer claims the prior of Prozor called the Ustasha to defend it ((MD 191)). As the Partisans were killing priests who fell into their hands, this is possible. When they captured Prozor the Communists massacred all the monks without trial, so needed an excuse to justify their action. When they captured the convent at Siroki Brieg, fifteen monks were drenched with petrol and set on fire ((SH 212)).
Accusation 13. All Franciscans were Ustasha.
Answer: The Chetniks and Communists labelled all those who supported Croatian independence as ‘Ustasha’. In 1941 there were hundreds of Franciscan priests and brothers in the NDH. It is possible that as many as a dozen committed crimes. Another thirty may have given the Ustasha political support but were free of crime. The huge majority were loyal to Croatia while persevering in their priestly duties. The Assistant Defence Council at Stepinac’s “trial”, said that a Franciscan friend of his was forced to receive ‘converts’.
He did so by saying: “I baptize thee, and you are going to continue to believe as you have up to now. And when the time comes, you will make your own decision freely”. ((RP 237)). Scores were martyred simply because, as priests, they were known to oppose Communism.
The Croatian Franciscan Institute of St. Girolimo in Rome is often labelled as a ‘Centre of Ustashism’. Yet in May 1941, although situated in fascist Italy, it was not flying the Croatian flag. It was only when he was warned that a group of the men Pavelic had brought with him to Rome, were on their way to the Institute, that the rector hoisted two Croatian flags to avoid trouble ((SAB 65)). This incident took place over a month after the NDH was founded, so indicates a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the NDH at this Croatian seminary.
H. The Jesuit Order
Assertions that Jesuits led groups of bloodthirsty Ustasha to burn Serbian villages ((DM 269-270)), and helped the NDH In other ways, are pure fantasy. In 1941, Fr. Karlo Grimm the provincial, threatened to expel any of the 226 Jesuits in Yugoslavia who involved himself either in government activities (military or political) or in those of the Partisans ((VAL 198, 207)).
Allegations have been made that Jesuits Fathers Cvitan and Lipovac, led Ustasha bands of butchers ((CF 298)). Neither was a Jesuit ((VAL 204, 212)). Further accusations refer to Fr. Dragutin Kamber and Stefan Lackovic, yet again neither was a Jesuit ((VAL 212)). The first was a priest of the Sarajevo diocese ((SL 15)) and the second worked in Zagreb as Stepinac’s personal secretary ((SL 15)). It is said that the Ustasha vice-governor of Bosnia during the first days of the NDH, Filix Niedzielski, was a Jesuit priest. Not only was he not a Jesuit, but never a priest ((SL 15)).
After the war, the Communists showed author Carlo Falconi three letters sent by Fr. Anton Wurster from Rome to Zagreb, to prove that Wurster was actively working In Rome for the Ustasha government.
Most Jesuits, including Fr. Wurster, had admired the Austrian Empire and had considered its dismemberment to be unwise ((VAL 206)). Much European informed opinion, including that of Winston Churchill ((VM 62)), supported the continued existence of this multi-cultural Empire. But once Yugoslavia had been established the Jesuits as a body accepted it.
Wurster was well known for his separatist views, so left the country in 1935 ((VAL 206)). In 1941 the NDH government asked Wurster to work for it. He was asked to send confidential reports on the effectiveness of Rusinovac, the inexperienced NDH ‘ambassador’ to the Holy See. By January 1942 Wurster had arrived in Rome and, as this work was in defiance of his superiors, he had to resign from the Order ((VAL 206)). Following Wurster’s reports, Rusinovac was replaced on 31st July 1942 by Erwin Lobkowicz (Lobkovic). Wurster, no longer a Jesuit, became his secretary.
Although Wurster’s political work was carried out after he had ceased to be a Jesuit, his correspondence is of interest. In his three reports to Zagreb, he mentions that the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the head of Vatican Radio, the Jesuits, the Curia and Vatican officials in general, were all anti-Ustasha ((CF 356-8)). He also reported that the Franciscan Superior and the Rector of the St. Girolimo Institute (Croatian Catholic Institution in Rome) were both anti-Ustasha. In 1943 he confirmed that the Vatican had a regular link with the London Yugoslav government ((CF 361, 369)).
An article by a Croatian Jesuit in the Jesuit owned ‘Civilita Cattolica’ published in Rome, has been offered as firm proof of the Jesuits glorifying the ‘Catholic Ustasha Crusaders’. But this article appeared in early 1941, before the German invasion. Written in preparation for the proposed June 1941 Zagreb Eucharistic Congress, it was a survey of Catholic organisational growth in Yugoslavia, including the pre-war Catholic Crusaders. It had nothing to do with Ustasha or other political groups ((VAL 204-5, 212)).
I). Diocesan Priests
A few diocesan priests joined the Ustasha and some of these committed crimes. But it is false history to present them as typical or acting with the approval of their bishops. Let us examine some of the names and events which frequently appear in anti-Catholic literature, and see how the Church treated them.
a. Fr. Ivan Mikan, curate of Ogulin, was accused of having spoken in favour of the forced conversion of Serbs ((EP 84, 160)). This is quite possible. He deserted his diocese of Senj ((SL 16)), moved to Zagreb, and joined Pavelic’s delegation to Italy in 1941 ((EP 74)). Being away from his diocese, he had no authority to act as a priest. The government wanted him installed as parish priest of the prestigious church of St. Mark’s, in central Zagreb. But Stepinac refused. He died in 1944 ((SL 15-16)).
b. Fr. Ivo Guberina is accused of many crimes and of being head of Catholic Action ((EP 108)). Excerpts from an article he wrote, ‘Sacred Croatia’, is considered to be major evidence of Catholic recruitment for the Ustasha:
“The Ustasha movement would prefer these foreign and hostile elements (i.e. the Serbs] to become freely assimilated, or for this poison to be removed from the body (and go back to the places from which it came). But . . . if they intend to remain in Croatia as a fifth column [i.e. spies and traitors] so as to undermine her or, worse, take up arms then, according to all the principles of Catholic morality, they must be viewed as aggressors and the Croatian State has a right to annihilate them by the sword . . . These are principles on which natural law is founded and hence every Catholic is obliged in conscience to help in carrying them out. . . . If the Ustasha movement . . . has taken on the task of achieving this end in Croatia, to put difficulties in its way would imply ignorance of what the Catholic mission is . . . it would be a sin against the Creator to stand aside from the final struggle. . . . It is the Catholic’s duty to be an instrument of the complete expression of what is essential and positive in the Ustasha movement”. ((CF 299-300)).
What do we know of Guberina? He appears to have joined the Ustasha in Italy during 1940 ((SAA 61)). Following the German invasion, he deserted his diocese, and lived for two and a half years in Zagreb ((SAB 102)).
He was not one of Stepinac’s priests, and the Archbishop on 25th June 1943 forbad him exercising any priestly function within the diocese. The reason given was his conduct and actions, and the way he had scandalized the faithful ((RP 351)).
Guberina’s article was published ten weeks later on 7th October ((CF 299)). It was his reply to Stepinac’s action. So instead of being: ‘head of Catholic Action’, as alleged ((EP 108)), he was a suspended priest defiantly asserting that not only was the Archbishop wrong to place difficulties in the way of the Ustasha, but that he didn’t understand Catholic teaching and duty.
c. Fr. Victor Gutic is often mentioned as a ‘Catholic Ustasha’. But in pursuing his hatred of Serbs, he had little regard for the Church. In the summer of 1940 he had travelled secretly through Bosnia, building up the Ustasha organisation and appointing Ustasha officials ((EP 53)). In 1941 he became the prefect of Banja Luka and allegedly was involved in the murder of Orthodox bishop Platon ((EP 72, 98)).
He ranted and raved, calling for: “the abhorrent race” of Serbs to be wiped out and their bodies used as fertilizer: “for our fields which will become forever Croat”. ((EP 81)). In one district near Prnjavor, where three churches had been seized by the Serbs, he urged the local people You should take them over tomorrow and write on them Hrvatski Dom [Croat Centre]. ((EP 81)).
He didn’t say the fields would be forever Catholic, or that the notice should read ‘Catholic Church’ or ‘Catholic Centre’. As a racial fanatic he saw everything in terms of Croat or Serb and ignored the Church. At the end of the war the Americans imprisoned him in Italy, where he went out of his mind ((EP 81)). Whether he should be considered evil, mad or both, his actions do not justify holding the Church responsible for the crimes of a rebel half-crazy priest.
d. It is alleged that an unnamed priest in July 1941 said:- “Until now we have worked for the Catholic Faith with Missal and Crucifix. Now the time has come for us to go to work with rifle and revolver”. ((FM 167)). This may be true, and was possibly said by Guberina or Gutic. But the very words show the speaker to be a traitor to Christ and to his Church.
e. Fr. Ante Djuric of the Zagreb diocese was said to be a criminal. It is true that Stepinac recalled him from his priestly duties. He had become involved in politics, but there is no evidence that he committed any crime to justify his execution following a Communist ‘trial’ ((SL 19)).
f. Fr. Kerubin Segvic was executed by the Communists as a criminal. This priest was 74 years old. In 1931 he had written a book explaining his scientific theory that the Croats were descended from the Goths ((SL 17)). He went with Pavelic to Rome in May 1941, but there is no evidence he was guilty of any crime.
g. It has been alleged that Wilhelm Haeger was ordained a priest in 1944 and through him Stepinac had close connections with the Gestapo. This is another baseless allegation. Haeger’s wife was in a Yugoslav prison before the war and Stepinac intervened to save her. In gratitude, Haeger contributed to restoring the shrine at Maria Bistrica. His German sounding name led some to allege, without any evidence, that he was a Gestapo agent. Being a married man, not of the Eastern rite, he could not be ordained a priest ((SL 25)).
h. Accusations against Vilim Cecelja, a priest of the Zagreb diocese, will be discussed in the ‘Military Vicar’ section.
i. It is said that a priest was appointed President of the Ustasha Central Propaganda Office. The person appointed was not a priest ((SL 15)).
j. It is alleged that the first Ustasha meeting in 1929 was held in a house of a Zagreb Canon. But at that time a layperson lived there. The Canon moved in several years later ((SL 12)).
i. The NDH government wanted parishes to be founded for the ‘converted’. Hundreds of Slovene refugee priests were available, but the government strongly opposed their or other non-Croat priests being appointed. It said: “. . . their co-operation would be a terrible blow to the Croatian national standing in these parishes”. ((EP 165)). This is another illustration that the government’s motivation was not religious but one of extreme nationalism.
j. There were 1,800 diocesan priests in the NDH ((CF 411)). It is difficult to estimate how many joined the Ustasha and how many of these were guilty of crimes. The huge majority carried out their religious duties honourably in very difficult circumstances. Many of them were martyred (by the Communists more than by the Serbs). Tito had held a particular dislike of the clergy since his youth ((MTA 313)). Some of the martyrs are being considered for recognition as saints ((SSJ 3: 75 and 61: 75)).
1). Mile Budek
Those accusing the Catholic Church of instigating forcible conversion, assert that Milo Budek was a militant Catholic leader. They quote statements made by him in 1941.
Budek as a Croat was baptised a Catholic when a baby, but this does not mean his adult views were consistent with Catholic teachings. His hatred of the Serbs had become intense following being beaten in the 1930s by Serbian police agents during broad daylight ((SH 71)). As the leading Croatian writer of his time ((SAA 2)), he became Minister of Education in 1941. He was at a banquet on 6th June 1941 at which the Serbian rising of three days earlier would have dominated conversation.
He was asked a question and made a defiant response:
“We shall kill some of the Serbs, we shall expel others, and the remainder will be forced to embrace the Roman Catholic Faith. These last will in due course be absorbed by the Croat part of the population. We have three million bullets”. ((FM 123)).
There is some doubt as to whether he uttered these words ((MTA 312)). But a report or rumour soon spread that he had said one third of Serbs would be killed, a third expelled and a third converted ((SAA 22)). If we accept that he said these words or a something similar, it is instructive to analyse them. The reason given for the need to convert the Serbs was so that they would: ‘be absorbed by the Croats’. These were racial, cultural, military and political objectives, not religious. Those Serbs or part-Serbs remaining in the NDH would have to bring up their children as Croatians, and Catholicism was seen as a cultural identifying mark of being Croatian. This was the same mentality as that exhibited by those Serbs who had used Orthodoxy as a means of promoting Serbian culture and nationality.
A month later Budek said:
“Our whole work is based on our fidelity to the Church and the Catholic faith, for history teaches us that if we had not been Catholic, we should have ceased to exist”. ((SAA 22)).
At a first reading this appears to show loyalty to the Church, but what he meant by the twice used ‘we’, was ‘Croats’. His ‘fidelity to the Church’ was not to Her as a religion that preached love of neighbour. It was to Her as a key cultural, therefore nationalist, force within Croatian life.
In the 1930s the bishops had attempted to publish a modern Croatian translation of the Bible. They had asked the Croatian Banovina’s Minister of Education in 1939 for financial assistance, but the Germans invaded before a decision could be given. So a fresh application was made to Budek when he assumed this post. He refused the request ((SAB 49)). Some books claim he was blindly obedient to the alleged desire of the bishops to massacre hundreds of thousands so as to ‘convert’ others. Yet he refused the bishops this simple financial request.
In another speech he boasted that Ustasha agents had been ordained priests, so they were able to spread their political ideas under the cover of being sincere priests ((EP 52-3)). Whether this is true or not, a loyal Catholic would never boast of such a sacrilegious misuse of the priesthood.
2). Jasenovac Camp
Anti-Catholic authors have asserted that Catholic priests and laymen had run the Jacenovac concentration camp as part of a campaign of terror.
The reality was very different. In the spring of 1941 camps were established to the south of Zagreb, on the banks of a fifty-kilometre stretch of the Sava river, which formed the border between Croatia and Bosnia. Prisoners were set to work draining the swampy land. The village of Jasenovac was in the centre of this sparsely populated area, so the whole complex of camps is often referred to by this name.
During wars all nations establish camps for military and political prisoners and those thought likely to be disloyal. So at first there was no reason for the Church to comment. Some of the camps maintained reasonable conditions, but in others thousands died of overwork, poor food, disease or execution.
The priest in the village of Jasenovac was not permitted access to the camp nearby ((MB 145-161)), but when he heard stories of atrocities and killings, he informed Stepinac. These were third or fourth hand accounts, so when Stepinac protested about human rights violations, he used other examples. The authorities did permit priests to visit some camps ((JFM 153)). These, no doubt, were the best ones.
On 6th December 1941, Stepinac applied for permission for priests and representatives of Caritas to visit prisoners in the camps near Jasenovac and Lobor, so as to provide gifts and encouragement at Christmas ((RP 345-6)). This was refused but, as the camps were becoming internationally notorious, the government arranged a one-day visit to one camp on 6th February 1942. This was less than three weeks prior to the opening of the Sabor, a time when Pavelic was trying to improve his image. The visiting party included journalists, Red Cross officials from five countries including Serbia and the secretaries of Stepinac and Marcone.
It is now known that at the end of January 1942 an order had been given to this camp to prepare a display for visitors. Eight new spacious and heated barracks were erected and the prisoners were transfered from the unhygenic huts. The surrounding areas and the prisoners were scrubbed. Healthy workers were brought in to man, the workshop, each working at his own trade or as a professional in an office. The prisoners were told they would be shot if they informed the visitors of the real conditions. A hundred hospital patients were killed and the hospital cleaned. New beds and linen were provided. Healthy people including nurses were put into the beds ((EP 139-140)). The visiting party did not see any sign of atrocities.
Stepinac wrote again on 21st November 1942 for permission for priests to visit camps ((ADSS viii, 226-7)). But the Church could do nothing for those in camps barred to visitors. But rumours multiplied and on 24th February 1943, Stepinac complained in a letter to Pavelic that he had been trying for months to find what had happened to seven Slovenian priests sent to Jasenovac. He presumed that they were now dead and wrote: “This is a disgraceful incident . . . Jasenovac camp itself is a shameful stain on the honour of the NDH. . . . This is a disgrace to Croatia”. ((RP 322)). One of these priests survived and the Communist press claimed that he had gone to Stepinac to protest at the archbishop’s inaction. But the priest told Arthur O’Brien that he had gone to thank Stepinac for what he had tried to achieve ((AHO 39-40)).
A description of the type of person running some of the camps comes from Vladko Macek, the Croatian Peasant Party leader. Macek was held in Jasenovac from 15th October 1941 till 16th March 1942. Then he was sent to Kupinec under house arrest ((VM 246)). While at Jasenovac he was kept apart from other prisoners and had a personal guard, Ljubo Milos. But Macek soon gained some idea of what was happening. When Milos made the sign of the cross before going to bed, Mecek asked if he was afraid of God’s punishment for his monstrous actions.
“Don’t talk to me about that, for I am perfectly aware of what is in store for me. For my past, present and future deeds, I shall burn in hell. But at least I shall burn for Croatia”. ((VM 243)).
The sign of the cross was nothing more than a habit formed in childhood. His motivation was not Catholic but one of fanatical racism. We may wonder whether he was mentally ill. There were Serbs of a similar fanatical nationalist mentality. More recently an Orthodox priest said that some Serbs, when making the sign of the cross, might as well be saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and St. Sava”. ((JKB April 1996)). This same fanatical mentality existed amongst racist criminals on both sides. It was not motivated by religion.
By late 1941 the worst of the Ustasha killers had been replaced in Bosnia by more civilized administrators ((SAA 34)). Some of the thugs found work as camp guards and continued their thirst for blood. As an example, in September 1942 the newly Catholic population of Pakrac were taken to Stara Gradiska camp. Fortunately, the local Catholic priest was able to contact Stepinac who got Pavelic to order an immediate enquiry. This led to the prisoners being released ((RP 407-8)).
On 13th October 1942 Ustasha from Jasenovac, led by Lieutenant Ljubo (possibly the same man involved at Pakrac) surrounded the nearby village of Crkveni Bok. Most of the villagers were Serbs who had become Catholics. Some were killed but most were taken to the camp, where those born Croatian were released. When the men from Jasenovac ignored the entreaties of the Catholic parish priest, he wrote to Pavelic asking him to intervene.
In his detailed letter he said that the Ustasha men involved were young, drunk, swearing the most gross oaths and stole from empty houses. Also he had heard shooting. The Sub-Prefect of the district and an Ustasha captain arrived on the 14th to see what had occurred.
They were disgusted and condemned the outrage as one which should not go unpunished ((RP 400-4)). In this way decent Ustasha came to despise the brutes at Jasenovac. The camp was closed in 1947 after being used by the Communists to kill several thousand of their enemies ((SSJ 59:76)).
3). The Jews
Based on the 1931 census, there would have been 30,000 Jews in the NDH. But the influx of refugees, and the wide definition of the word ‘Jew’ in Nazi thought, made the number of people under threat much greater. Over 80% lived in the German zone and the remainder in the Italian ((RH 455)).
Just under 20,000 were killed, but authorities do not agree as to where they died. It appears that 10,000 escaped to Italy ((BK 185)). One authority states that 6-7,000 were deported to Auschwitz ((RH 457)) and 13,000 died in NDH camps ((VZ 29-30)). Another gives 9-10,000 at Auschwitz and 10,000 in NDH camps ((JFM 160)). Yet another source claims 18,000 died in the NDH camps ((SSJ 55: 110)) so 2,000 at Auschwitz. Some were saved by being designated ‘Honorary Aryans’ ((RH 455)), by being in mixed marriages ((VZ 31)), by being part Jewish ((RH 457)) or by being a Christian. Others fled to the mountains or were hidden in Croatian homes.
In most East European counries, the Jews had an economic, cultural and political influence far in excess of what a small minority might expect. The reaction, especially amongst nationalists, led to varying degrees of antagonism. The Ustasha movement, left on its own, would probably have brought Jewish industrial, commercial and professional enterprises under Croatian control.
The size of the compensation, if any, would have depended on which Ustasha leaders had been most influential at the time. In 1941 the NDH leadership, under German domination, promulgated Nazi-type racial laws. But a picture of the Ustasha, including Pavelic, being personally anti-Jewish in the Nazi sense should not be accepted uncritically. Many facts challenge this picture:
i. The Ustasha were often known as ‘Francovi’ or ‘Frankists’ due to the dominance in their political evolution of Dr. Isaiah Frank, a Jew. He became leader of The Party of Right (Law) in 1896, following the death of Starcevic. Dr. Frank became a Catholic, taking the baptismal name of Josip ((EJ 16:917)). Frank was greatly admired and honoured by the Ustasha. Yet, if he had been alive in 1941, the racial laws would have driven him from his profession as a lawyer and ordered him to wear a yellow band.
ii. A Jewish lawyer, Hinko Hinkovic, was amongst the ideological and political leaders of Croatian nationalism ((EJ 16: 917)) and Vlado Singer, a Jewish intellectual, worked for Pavelic’s election to parliament in 1927 ((MTA 125)).
iii. The Ustasha was not greatly interested in the Jews prior to the outbreak of the war ((SSJ 19: 22)). Their hatred was centred on the Serbs.
iv. Pavelic (as Chief of State) and Milovan Zanic (as President of the Legislative Committee) jointly signed the 1941 decrees concerning Jewish and Serbian property ((RL 606-627)). Yet both had Jewish wives ((MR 69)). According to Nazi ideology, the lives of these wives and their ‘mischling’ children were under threat.
v. Slavko Kvaternik who proclaimed Croatian independence on 10th April 1941, and became Commander of the Armed Forces and Pavelic’s deputy, also had a Jewish wife ((IO 21-22)).
vi. Eugen (Dido) Kvaternik was appointed Director of Public Security. Being the son of Slavko he was therefore half Jewish.
vii. The coming to power of the Ustasha was sudden and unexpected. From the confusion in most sectors of administration, it is obvious that little thought had been given to preparing for government. Yet the anti-Jewish laws were promulgated very quickly and showed every sign of having been drafted by expert hands ((RH 454)).
viii. The laws were more comprehensive than those in Germany. But this doesn’t point to the Ustasha being more anti-Jewish than the Nazis. The laws in Germany had been promulgated in 1937 to encourage the German Jews to emigrate. By the Spring of 1941 the German attitude had hardened greatly. Andrija Aktukovac, Minister of the Interior, informed Stepinac at the end of April 1941 that the Germans had ordered the laws ((MR 69)). There is no reason to doubt this.
ix. The government did obtain concessions from the occupying power. Pavelic, as head of state, was permitted to protect Jews who had contributed to, Croatian life. He increasingly used this concession to save such: ‘Honorary Aryans’ ((RH 454-5)).
x. The Germans army destroyed the Sarajevo synagogue on 17th April 1941 ((EJ 16: 877)). This was before this part of Bosnia had become part of the NDH, so not due to Ustasha action.
xi. The mass arrest of Jews was stepped up after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 ((EJ 16: 877)). This was in line with German policy.
xii. When on 19th October 1941, 1400 Jews were arrested in Sarajevo, it was to celebrate: ‘German Day’ ((EJ 16: 877)).
xiii. The largest round up of Jews in Bosnia was organised by the Germans in mid-November 1941, when 3,000 were deported to Jasenovac ((EJ 16:877)).
xiv. The anti-Jewish laws promulgated by the NDH were implemented in the German zone only, not in the Italian ((RH 456)).
xv. It was easier for the Jews to survive in Croatia as compared with Serbia, because of the Italian zone. Also, the establishment of an ‘independent’ Croatia, not under direct German military administration, gave many the time to escape to Italy or into the mountains.
xvi. Jews were still holding official positions in Croatia, including senior ones within the Ustasha command, as late as 1944 ((RH 457)).
xvii. Until September 1941, Serbia was under direct German rule. In May 1941 eight thousand Jewish men were shot. Gas vans were brought to the Zemun camp and by June 15,000 Jewish women and children had been gassed.
The Zemun suburb of Belgrade was just within the NDH, but completely under German administration throughout the war ((RL 608)). German personnel carried out the executions. ((SSJ 53: 106)).
xviii. The offical reports on the progress of the killings in Serbia were interleaved, in the Einsatzgruppen files in Germany, with those from Einsatzgruppen active in Russia ((RH 438)). This clearly indicates the deaths in Croatia and Serbia were part of the Europe-wide organization of the German anti-Jewish campaign.
xix. The Jews in Vojodina, which had become part of Hungary, met the same fate as those in Croatia and Serbia ((EJ 16: 878)).
The Ustasha boasted of Croatian independence, but if Pavelic had refused to promulgate Nazi laws or had prevented the Germans using the worst elements of Croatian society as assistants, he would have been removed from power. The wives and children of the Ustasha leaders would then have been in grave danger of death. How far the Ustasha leaders willingly suported the Nazi extermination programme is open for research. We are not concerned here with passing judgement on the motives and actions of individuals. Our aim has been to provide the background against which to view the Church’s reaction to events as they unfolded, which we will now do.
In the late 1930s, thousands of Jewish and other refugees entered Yugoslavia from the north. Archbishop Stepinac organised aid and in 1937 established a special Relief Committee ((RP 357)). The German Minister made several protests to the Yugoslav government concerning this work ((AHO 11)). Stepinac provided documents, food, medicines and general aid to enable hundreds to escape to other parts of the world ((MR 133-4)). Protestant Jewish refugees asked the Protestant bishop of Zagreb for assistance but, although a charitable man, he could do little because of the anti-Semitism of his mainly German flock. Stepinac undertook half the cost of their maintenance with the rest coming from an English Protestant relief fund ((AHO 10-11)).
Following the invasion, the Germans demanded the names of Jewish refugees known to the Relief Committee. The Archbishop refused to provide them ((AHO 22)). The secretary of the Committee also refused and was arrested by the Gestapo ((SL 9)). Stepinac hid Jews in his own residence and in his property at Bresovice ((SL 2)). He hid the library of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Miroslav Freiberger (SL 10)), and also a radio of Dr. Feler, a Jewish leader ((SAB 92)).
On 23rd April, Stepinac wrote to Artukovic, Minister of the Interior, protesting at Christian Jews being included in the proposed anti-Jewish legislation ((RP 299-300)). In reply, Artukovic explained that the laws:
“. . . had to be promulgated in that form for reasons independent of us, but that their practical application would not be harsh”. ((MR 69)).
So the Minister was blaming the Germans and promising to limit their effect. On 30th April the laws were published and Jewish property in the German zone was expropriated. Jews were removed from public posts, ordered to wear a yellow badge ((EJ 16: 877)) and banned from parts of Zagreb ((VM 100)).
On 22nd May, Stepinac wrote to Artukovic protesting at the violation of the human rights of Jews and others ((RP 301)). With regard to the Jews he accepted that it was just for the state to keep the economy in the hands of the Croatian people. But to deny those of other races their human rights was a question of humanity and of morals. He went on:
“. . . not even in Germany were the racial laws applied with such rigor and speed [He was unaware of the effects of the recent secretly held Wannsee Conference] . . . Neither notorious adulterers nor common prostitutes are marked with visible signs . . . [so] why treat this way those who are members of another race through no fault of their own?”.
As a compromise he suggested that the Jews reimburse the state for the cost of the insignia, but not have to wear it ((RP 300-2)). During May a group of Catholics married to Jews asked Stepinac for help. So on the 30th he again wrote to the Minister urging that Christian Jews, those in mixed marriages, their children and those who had shown patriotism to Croatia, should be excluded from the laws ((RP 302-5)). Following this and the intervention of the Papal Nuncio, the partners in mixed marriages and their children were excluded ((SAB 70)). Over one thousand lives were saved in this way ((VZ 31)).
These requests did not imply that Stepinac was indifferent towards the fate of non-Christian Jews, but that he was using whatever arguments were available to protect as many as possible. He pointed out that Christian Jews had a double burden. They were excluded from Jewish society as ‘apostates’ and from Gentile society as ‘Jews’. The State’s laws were preventing them practising their Christian faith ((RP 302-5)).
When during June 1941 there were mass arrests of Jews ((EJ 16: 877)), Stepinac sent his secretary, Dr. Lackovic, to see camp conditions and arrange for all possible assistance ((AHO 22)). As in the rest of Europe at that time, the ‘Radical Solution’ of the ‘Jewish Problem’ was understood to mean that all Jews would be sent to a new Jewish state in South Eastern Poland. On 21st July, Stepinac wrote to Pavelic urging that deportees should be allowed time to settle their family and employment arrangements, given enough food, medical care, the opportunity to communicate with their families, and not be placed in overcrowded sealed carriages ((SAB 72)).
On 30th July, a government circular stated that the law of 30th April, regarding disabilities for Non-Aryans would still apply to Jews who had become Catholics ((CF 283-5)). The law regarding the wearing of the Star of David came into force on 8th August ((SAB 70)). Two priests and six nuns were affected but, due to widespread indignation, these eight were eventually exempted ((AHO 18)). In response, Stepinac announced from his pulpit:
“I have ordered these priests and nuns to continue wearing this sign of belonging to the people from which Our Saviour was born as long as any others will have to do so”. ((AHO 18)).
In September, the government agreed that Christian Jews and those married to Christians would not have to wear the star ((SAB 70)). Having gained this concession, Stepinac tried to widen its application. In a confidential undated circular during 1941 to his priests, (See ‘forced conversions’ section) he gave permission for Jews as well as the Orthodox, to join the Church even though they did not believe Her teachings. But on 13th November the government ordered imprisonment for those contracting Gentile-Jewish marriage, and also for the priest or minister involved ((SAB 69)).
The main resolutions of the November 1941 bishop’s conference were concerned with the Orthodox. But another resolution was sent to Pavelic petitioning him to intervene in the persecution of Catholic Jews by lower officials ((RP 305-6)).
By the end of 1941, 6,000 male adult Jews were working as forced labourers in the salt mines of Karlovac and Yudovo, with a few at Jasenovac ((RH 455)). In early 1942 there were arrests of Jewish women, children and the elderly. On 7th March 1942 Stepinac wrote to the Minister of the Interior to protest against them being placed in concentration camps. He asked that actions by ‘irresponsible elements’ be stopped ((RP 306)).
Stepinac arranged for South American passports to be sent by the Vatican. With these, hundreds of Jews were able to pass through Italy on their way to safety ((SL 9)). Stepinac sent nuns to care for the inmates of the Schwarz Home for sick and aged Jews, when the staff was arrested. ((SL 10)).
In July the Germans ordered that all Jews must be deported within six months ((JFM 153)). Kvaternick, the Police Chief, said he knew two million had been killed but he could do nothing. His successor repeated this ((JFM 156)).
On 8th August 1942 the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb wrote to the Pope. He thanked him for the help given to the Jewish Community by the Croatian bishops and the representatives of the Holy See. He asked whether he could get help for the Jewish women and children then in camps ((SAB 105)). But on the 13th of August a train left Zagreb with 1,300 Jews heading for Auschwitz ((JS 265)).
It was during the summer of 1942 that the Holy See was informing bishops throughout Europe that there was strong evidence that those Jews being ‘resettled’ in Poland were all being killed ((See Slovakia on this web site)). The ability of the bishops to intervene was very limited and by the end of the year 5,000 Jews had been deported. Further batches went during 1943 and 1944 in coaches hooked to regular scheduled trains ((RH 457)).
The Apostolic Delegate, Marcone, had arrived in Zagreb on 3rd August 1941 and three weeks later had reported to the Holy See regarding the situation of the Jews. The reply of the 3rd September instructed him “to recommend moderation concerning the treatment of the Jews residing in Croat territory.” ((JFM 150)). As the Germans permitted Pavelic to exempt Christian Jews and those married to Christians from deportation, he was able in conjunction with Stepinac, to bring such people to Pavelic’s attention. Through his connection with Mr. Schmidlin of the Red Cross and Stepinac, he was involved in moving a small group of Jewish children, including the son of the Chief Rabbi, through Hungary and Romania on their way to neutral Turkey ((JFM 153-4)). His secretary managed to visit some of the camps to bring solace ((JFM 153)).
When 4,000 Jews fled into the Italian zone, he reported this to the Holy See. Vatican officials were thereby able to contact Mussolini who granted them permission to stay ((JFM 151-7)). Cardinal Maglione eventually obtained permission for all Jews who escaped into the Italian zone not to be sent back ((JFM 153)). Marcone tried to persuade Eugene Kvaternik (Chief of Police) to slow down deportations ((JFM 153)). This would have provided more time for escape, but by late 1942 the authorities were not answering Marcone’s questions regarding the Jews ((JFM 152)).
Abbott Marcone obtained evidence that in March 1943 Pavelic was resisting German demands to persecute the baptised Jews. Pavelic was claiming that he had made promises to the Holy See ((JFM 159)). It is no doubt more than a coincidence that in the middle of that month Stepinac was openly attacking racism and thereby strengthening Pavelic’s stand. On 8th March, Stepinac had written to Pavelic, listing human rights abuses. These included those committed within the camps:
” . . . if there is here the interference of a foreign power in our national and political life, I am not afraid if my voice and my protest carry even to the leaders of that power, . . .”. ((RP 310-2)).
A few days later, on the 14th, he showed his willingness to let his protest reach the German leaders. He preached to thousands In his cathedral:
“Consequently, every man, of whatever race or nation, whether he has studied in the universities of the civilized centres of Europe or hunts his food in the virgin forests of Africa, carries equally on himself the stamp of God the Creator and possesses inalienable rights which must not be taken from him nor arbitrarily limited by any human power . . . we have seen such tears and listened to the sobs of stalwart men, and the cries of women without assistance, over whom this danger hung, for the sole reason that the sanctity of their families did not conform to the theories of racism”. ((RP 271-6)).
The anti-Jewish campaign was European wide. On the 15th March 1943, the first train deporting Jews left Greece ((JS 94, 100)). On the 27th, the Grand Rabbi of Zagreb, Dr. Freiberger, informed Stepinac that 1,800 Greek Jews, on their way to Germany were on a train at Novska (100 kilometres south of Zagreb). They were not being allowed water or food. The train was expected to arrive in Zagreb that evening but, although the Red Cross had volunteers at the station, the Germans were not going to permit them to supply food or water. After five hours of frantic work, one of Stepinac’s secretaries, through the influence of a woman, managed to speak to the German officer on duty. An agreement was reached. We do not know the details, but it resulted in the Red Cross being able to serve warm food. When a second train containing 2,000 Greek Jews arrived on 24th April they were again permitted food ((RP 313-4)).
On 7th July 1943 British Radio quoted Stepinac’s sermons condemning the persecution of Jews and others. It reported that Vatican Radio had broadcast Stepinac’s words ((RP 291-3)). The Soviet station: ‘Slobodna Jugoslavia’ in Tiflis, also gave extracts from his sermons ((AHO 14)).
On the 25th October, Stepinac delivered a long sermon in which he stressed that each man is nothing apart from what God has given him:
“. . . How, then, must we judge those individuals who raise their heads proudly as if God no longer existed on the earth and as if the law of the Gospels were superfluous.
We ought to say to them that which Christ said to the unfaithful city of Capharnaum. . . . You will descend into hell.” (Mt. 21:23). . . .Only one race really exists and that is the divine race. Its birth certificate is found in the book of Genesis . . .”.
He went on to stress the dignity of each man:
“All of them without exception, whether they belong to the race of Gypsies or to another, whether they are Negroes or civilized Europeans, whether they are detested Jews or proud Aryans, have the same right to say, ‘Our Father who art in heaven’. . . .the Catholic Church condemns . . . every injustice and every violence committed in the name of the theories of class, race or nationality. One cannot exterminate intellectuals . . . as Bolshevism has taught . . . One cannot extinguish . . . Gypsies or Jews because one considers them inferior races”. ((RP 276-281)).
On 31st October 1943 he again preached against racism and its cruelties [See ‘forced conversions’ section]. But on 18th April 1944 the Germans said that the Croatian ‘Jewish Problem’ had been solved ((EJ 16: 878)).
Mr. Schmidlin of the International Red Cross frequently visited Stepinac seeking means of aiding Jews and others ((SL 9)). Amiel Shomrony, secretary to the last Chief Rabbi of Zagreb, recalled:
“I took part in many actions to save Jews in the war with, the help of the Kaptol (the Archbishopric). In that way we managed to get many children out to Hungary and from there to Palestine. . . . besides that, the Archbishop personally saved a lot of people and children by hiding them. He gave the community flour every month and financially supported Jews who had been left without any means of support by the persecution. . . .”. ((MTA 156)).
Meir Touval-Weltmann, Jewish relief official in Turkey wrote that Archbishop Stepinac had done all that was possible for the Jews of Croatia ((JFM 161)). The World Jewish Congress was grateful in September 1943 to Cardinal Godfrey of Great Britain and the Vatican for assisting in the transfer of 4,000 Jews to a safe Italian island ((JFM 162)).
Louis S. Breire, Programme Director of the American Jewish Committee ((AHO 72)), said during a speech on the 13th October 1946:
“This great man of the Church was accused of being a Nazi collaborator. We Jews deny this. We know from his life, from 1934 onwards, that he was always a true friend of the Jews, who in those times were subjected to the persecution of Hitler and his followers. Alojzije Stepinac is one of those rare men in Europe who stood up against Nazi tyranny, precisely at the time when it was most dangerous to do so . . . He spoke openly and fearlessly against the racist laws of Nuremberg and his opposition never faltered. It is due to him that the law of the ‘yellow armband’ was withdrawn . . . Next to His Holiness Pope Pius XII, Archbishop Stepinac was the greatest champion of the Jews who were being persecuted in Europe”. ((OR 29-4-92)).
Right, we should take the word of Roman Catholic apologetics website on the "virtues" of Cardinal Stepinac vs. taking the Jewish/Israeli account? Right! And you are "not Roman Catholic", but rather are a completely "objective third party observer".
Wow! I must then be the Queen of England!
Chill, Vlad. The vast majority of Croats are not goose-stepping Nazis, but Tudjman -- the father of modern Croatia -- WAS a goose-stepping Nazi. Now young Croatians are saddled with the legacy of a Neo-Nazi as "the father of their country & independence", and just what are they supposed to do with that other than pretend he and his creepy swastika-loving compatriots (many of whom were their fathers) were "heroes"?
We did them a terrible disservice by supporting Tudjman. And the Roman Catholic Church did them a terrible disservice by "sanctifying" a skin-crawling psychopath named Stepinac.
And we wonder why the Balkans are so screwd up?
The Serbs overthrew their government on 03/28/1941 because it had chosen to side with Berlin. "Better grave than slave" and all...
8 days later, Belgrade would suffer the worst destruction in its modern history, courtesy of Luftwaffen. Meanwhile, Croatia showered the Nazis with flowers.
Hey, if I am lying, the pictures aren't...
April 6, 1941, Belgrade:
Zagreb, April 1941
“Right, we should take the word of Roman Catholic apologetics website on the “virtues” of Cardinal Stepinac vs. taking the Jewish/Israeli account? Right!”
Yes, since it is fully documented and irrefutable, you should. Also, plenty of Jews came forward in the 40s and 50s and 60s to defend Stepinac. Read them as well. See, I read all of this stuff. You however, are choosing to be unaware. That’s a mistake.
“And you are “not Roman Catholic”, but rather are a completely “objective third party observer”.”
Compared to you and others here, yes. I am not a Serb, I am not a Croat, I am not a Jew, nor am I a Communist. I am much more likely to be objective than many others.
“Wow! I must then be the Queen of England!”
My objectivity is not contingent upon your new found blue blood.
“Chill, Vlad. The vast majority of Croats are not goose-stepping Nazis, but Tudjman — the father of modern Croatia — WAS a goose-stepping Nazi.”
No, he was not a Nazi. Be serious. If you want to call him a fascist that’s one thing, but the Nazis were a specific group. He was never a member of that group, nor does he hold their beliefs, wear their uniform, etc. Let’s say he was. What has that got to do with anything we have discussed? Nothing. Were the founders of modern day Serbia really any less of fascists or communists or simple thugs (who also encouraged war crimes)? No.
“Now young Croatians are saddled with the legacy of a Neo-Nazi as “the father of their country & independence”, and just what are they supposed to do with that other than pretend he and his creepy swastika-loving compatriots (many of whom were their fathers) were “heroes”?”
No, they are not saddled with that legacy at all. They clearly do not consider it a burden, and I see no reason they should consider it a burden because there’s no truth to it. He’s not a Nazi. And many Croats look at a handful of people like Gotovina as heroes because they won the war and then defied the world. And all that you just said could easily be said, by the same token, about Serbia. A less than savory modern founder (convicted of war crimes), with lots of heroes (war criminals) who are idolized by some young people.
“We did them a terrible disservice by supporting Tudjman.”
No, Croatia seems to be doing well for itself. And our support wouldn’t necessarily have changed anything.
“And the Roman Catholic Church did them a terrible disservice by “sanctifying” a skin-crawling psychopath named Stepinac.”
No, the Church did a great thing by stepping forward in the Stepinac canonization process and he certainly deserved it and all contemporary records show him to be anything but “a skin-crawling psychopath.”
“And we wonder why the Balkans are so screwd up?”
It’s because of the people who live there. Not because of the Church. Not because of American support. Not because of Nazism. It’s the people who LIVE THERE.
Hear, hear! (BTW: you can drop the "H.")
Right, so that was written in 1935. Correct? Hitler was also TIME’s Man of the Year. The cover of the 01/02/1939 issue says so.
So what? Time magazine choose its Man of the Year based upon his importance, not his goodness.
Erm, you know, after the Kristallnacht. So... what’s your point?
My point was clear yours is not. The fact that Kristallnacht had just happened would only increase Hitlers chance of being Man of the Year, not decrease it. Again, the man chosen is chosen for his importance, his impact, not because he is viewed as good.
The Serbs overthrew their government on 03/28/1941 because it had chosen to side with Berlin. “Better grave than slave” and all...
Fascinating, but irrelevant here. It doesn’t matter why the Serbs overthrew their own government.
8 days later, Belgrade would suffer the worst destruction in its modern history, courtesy of Luftwaffen. Meanwhile, Croatia showered the Nazis with flowers.Hey, if I am lying, the pictures aren’t...
Of course the Croats welcomed their supposed liberators with flowers. Ukrainians did the same in their millions. The Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians and Slovakians welcomed them too. Bulgaria and Hungary and Finland were the allies of Nazi Germany as well. The simple fact is that many peoples in Eastern Europe considered the Germans to be liberators at the beginning of the war. Since the Serbs were viewed as oppressors by many Croats, it doesnt surprise me at all that the Nazi Germans were welcomed by them as liberators. What should make you pause for a moment is that the Croats were willing to choose the Germans over the Serbs. What had the Serbs done to make the Croats believe that was a wise choice?
The “reputed” author? You mean you’ve found someone who claims to have done it and his words support the effort to excuse Stepinac’s murderous forced conversion campaigns?
Hey, did you also see the one Dan Rather has on George W. Bush?
And with all that cutting and pasting, the Jews still refuse to add the Patron Saint of Genocide Stepinac’s name to their memorial in Jerusalem. Hmmmm.
These terrible Church papers, 1941 to 1945, should destroy forever our faith in those diplomatic prelates, often good and kindly men, who believe that at all costs the ecclesiastical fabric, its schools and rules, its ancient privileges and powers, should be preserved. The clerical editors published the Aryan laws, the accounts of the forced conversions, without protest, the endless photographs of Pavelitchs visits to seminaries and convents, and the ecstatic speeches of welcome with which he was greeted. Turn, for example, to Katolicki Tjednik (The Catholic Weekly), Christmas 1941, and read the twenty-six verse Ode to Pavelitch, in which Archbishop Sharitch praises him for his measures against Serbs and Jews. Examine the Protestant papers and you will find the same story. Is it not clear that in times like those the Church doors should be shut, the Church newspapers closed down, and Christians, who believe that we should love our neighbours as ourselves, should go underground and try to build up a new faith in the catacombs?[ESCAPE FROM THE ANTHILL, p. 285]
Reference your post # 9.
I agree word for word.
Bill Clinton can claim credit for that.
“The reputed author?”
No, I meant what I said. If you can read, you can understand it. Thanks for proving my point by not having no evidence to refute what was actually posted.
“And with all that cutting and pasting, the Jews still refuse to add the Patron Saint of Genocide Stepinacs name to their memorial in Jerusalem. Hmmmm.”
I’m not surprised that Israelis are reluctant to honor a man who saved Jews. This has happened before. Jews during and after World War II honored Pius XII for saving Jews. Now the Israelis and Jews elsewhere often refuse to do so. Even John Paul II, a man known for his kindness for, and respect of Jews, was at times given a rough welcome in Israel for things he never did. Rabbis called for curses on his head. For what? A man who was a friend to Jews and served the resistance in occupied Poland? If this is how many of the Jews of Israel treat a pope known for his love of Jews it doesn’t surprise me that Israel would snub a man who saved Jewish lives.
As can easily be found online:
Louis Breier, an American Jew, wrote: This great man was tried as a collaborator of Nazism. We protest against this slander. He has always been a sincere friend of Jews, and was not hiding this even in times of cruel persecutions under the regime of Hitler and his followers. Alongside with Pope Pius XII, Archbishop Stepinac was the greatest protector of persecuted Jews in Europe.
In an unpublished letter sent to editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post in July 29, 1995, reacting on the statement of Reuven Dafni, vicepresident of Yad Vashem, that “Stepinac did not do anything to save the Zagreb synagogue” (Jerusalem Post, July 26, 1995), Dr Amiel Shomrony wrote the following ([Stefan], p. 55-56):
please allow me through your column to inform your readers truthfully about “Croatia’s past stalks relations with Jews”, written by Mr. Jan Immanuel. In doing so I hope there is no need to stress that I have no personal interest whatsoever above stating what really happened during W.W.II in Croatia.
As former secretary of the Chief Rabbi of Zagreb Dr. Shalom Freiberger and his personal contact with Cardinal Stepinac I am in the position to point out various misinterpretations if not untruths in the above mentioned article of July 26th.
...The allegation that Archbishop Stepinac welcomed the Nazis is absolutely false; on the contrary, he publicly condemned the Nazis’ racial theories as antireligious even before the state of Croatia became “independent” in 1941.
...There are in Israel and the U.S. people who were hidden in 1941 by Stepinac in monasteries during the war. More than 50 elderly Jews were allowed to hide and live until the end of the war on his estate when they were brutally evicted from the old people’s home Lavoslav Schwarz. Also the Jewish community received money as well as sacs of flour on a monthly basis from the Archbishop for the inmates of the concentration camp Jasenovac.
...it is a fact that he condemned all laws against Jews, Pravoslavs, Moslems and Gypsis in his Sunday sermons in the cathedral house, “all of them are children of God”. Also in his sermons he specifically denounced the destruction of our Synagogue as “being a house of God”; “the perpetrators will be dully punished by almighty God”...
As to the danger to his life - we submitted relevant proofs to Yad Vashem, but the matters being sub judice, I shall refrain from mentioning them here...
Allow me only one more pertinent point: I am today one of the very few survivors from the Jewish community of Zagreb of W.W.II and being honorary member of “The cultural society Dr. Shalom Freiberger” I surely am a more reliable witness than people who base their opinions and “facts” one hearsay. http://www.croatianhistory.net/etf/jews.html
Does it surprise me that Israeli Jews snub a man who saved some of their own people? No, not at all.
“These terrible Church papers, 1941 to 1945, should destroy forever our faith in those diplomatic prelates, often good and kindly men, who believe that at all costs the ecclesiastical fabric, its schools and rules, its ancient privileges and powers, should be preserved. The clerical editors published the Aryan laws, the accounts of the forced conversions, without protest, the endless photographs of Pavelitchs visits to seminaries and convents, and the ecstatic speeches of welcome with which he was greeted. Turn, for example, to Katolicki Tjednik (The Catholic Weekly), Christmas 1941, and read the twenty-six verse Ode to Pavelitch, in which Archbishop Sharitch praises him for his measures against Serbs and Jews. Examine the Protestant papers and you will find the same story. Is it not clear that in times like those the Church doors should be shut, the Church newspapers closed down, and Christians, who believe that we should love our neighbours as ourselves, should go underground and try to build up a new faith in the catacombs?[ESCAPE FROM THE ANTHILL, p. 285]”
Fascinating. But stupid. A NEW faith, as the author calls for in this snippet would not be the old faith and would not be orthodox. No, the Church leaders did the best they knew how during the war. Also, their newspapers were clearly not entirely controlled by them. Fascist states control the press, even the clerical press, not the clergy.
And, Stepinac railed against the censorship of Catholic Newspapers:
On 29th June 1942 Stepinac openly challenged the censors from his Cathedral pulpit:
“We cannot be Catholics in church, and in the streets attack like pagans the orders of the Vicar of Christ given for the purpose of public welfare because, perhaps they do not suit our personal taste. We cannot today because it suits us praise the Holy Father, and tomorrow in the newspapers cross out in red pencil his words and his sermons, given for the sole purpose of leading men to God”. ((RP 205)). http://www.churchinhistory.org/pages/booklets/croatia(n)-4.htm
“by not having ANY evidence to refute...”
Are you going to keep on apologizing or will you simply take your embarrassment and move on?
“Are you going to keep on apologizing or will you simply take your embarrassment and move on?”
I have suffered no embarrassment at all. Clearly others here have. I have no problem defending the truth even when others deny it. You are free to move on any time you like. No one is keeping you here.
The irony is that the Thompson submachinegun, in the hands of US soldiers, eliminated many Nazi types during WWII.
They have an inferiority complex and genocidal tendencies, not the Serbs.
I am sorry you can't understand why March 27, 1941, is a relevant date. I'm not going to bother drawing it for you...
But knowing this makes me very afraid for America, because we can't survive alone. If the Islamists and fascists take Europe, it won't be long before we start bending to them just to survive. And where will that leave "freedom of speech" and our "Constitutional rights"? Unless we do something soon, "in the toilet"!
We have a tremendous fight in front of us over the next few years -- and no real way to say, "I am too old for this crap" because we are the only ones who can do it.
“Don’t change the subject. We’re not talking about Serbia/Serbs and how the poor, oppressed Croats who were so down they decided to join the Nazis and commit genocide.”
What you are or are not talking about is irrelevant to me if I want to post about something, but I certainly wasn’t changing the subject. If someone wants to say that the Croats were Nazis (which isn’t the case anyway since the Nazis were almost entirely Western and Northern Europeans) it makes perfect sense to ask why they chose the Germans over the Serbs. You may not like the fact that they did so - and with good reason - but that doesn’t change the fact that they did so, and the reasons why they did so are important.
“They have an inferiority complex and genocidal tendencies, not the Serbs.”
No, many Serbs seem to have a superiority complex - Greater Serbia and all that. And we saw how that can lead to mass murder in the 1990s. It seems that many Serbs pine away for a Greater Serbia that will never be and have done so for decades: http://www.geocities.com/knin81995/VelikaSrbija.html
People with thwarted dreams have a tendency to make scapegoats of others.
“I am sorry you can’t understand why March 27, 1941, is a relevant date. I’m not going to bother drawing it for you...”
You’re probably not much of an artist. The war years are relevant, but a particular date drawn in contrast between the sadness of Serbs and the jubilation of Croats is meaningless. The simple fact is that both groups, by and large, looked at the Germans differently and for good reason. We, in the USA, looked at the Soviets as heroes in the Second World War, while many Ukrainians...not so much. That’s how it goes when you feel your under someone’s heel.
Why not? What are you trying to say? That you are unsurprised by "Jewish ingratitude"?
The typo changes nothing, you were babbling after being cornered.
Check and mate.
That only works with folks with intellectual honesty and character. The man whose screen name celebrates Orthodox Christianity's arrival in Kievan Rus' has not only failed to demonstrate either of those, he has repeatedly shown the lack of either.
Demographic Losses of Serbia Caused by Wars in XX Century
Yes, I am serious. He is that dim. This is the sort of person we are dealing with here.
“The typo changes nothing, you were babbling after being cornered.”
I’ve never been cornered, and I have no ability to babble.
“Check and mate.”
Sorry, but you haven’t even made a move yet.
“Why not? What are you trying to say? That you are unsurprised by “Jewish ingratitude”?”
I said exactly what I meant: I am not surprised that Israeli Jews have snubed a man who saved many Jews. This has happened before and will continue to happen.
“Do you know about the lawsuit against the Vatican Bank filed by the victims (and their families) of the WWII genocide of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies in the Independent State of Croatia?”
Yes, I have read about such lawsuits. I don’t expect it to go anywhere. I also know that no lawsuit about money or genocide has in any way implicated Cardinal Stepinac in any criminal or sinful behavior.
I know, I didn't need to.
But thank you for the game, anyway.
When the ‘90s Balkans wars were raging, I read about 21 books on it. There is no clear cut answer and I’ve seen arguements over all of this, often between the Serbs and Croats themselves and I feel it is better to just stay clear of such arguments; however clearly the initial story concerning this concert demonstrates this event is shameful and repugnant and it should be covered in the Mainstream Media.
One thing that is interesting, is that when one is speaking of soccer games, the two sides of fans Croats and Serbs have been accused of much the same thing.
I also know that incidences, not necessarily racist but of fan misconduct have occurred in basketball games too (some where on one of those video sites they have such film footage).
Back to the story, thank goodness The Jerusalem Post does have a story on it and other victims of the Axis powers should follow suit.
“Thousands of people attending the rock concert by the singer “Thompson” shouted the infamous Ustasha regime’s salute of “Za dom spremni,” while numerous participants came wearing Ustasha uniforms and symbols, the center said in a press release.”
You know, the Sieg Heil in the photo in this instance is probably worst; but it does remind me of something else I’ve never liked either, is when at some Metal Bands concerts I guess, they do their hand and I suppose that is like a symbol of the Devil; you know the one that also looks like “Hook ‘em Horns”; I’m not up on all of this symbolism.
Adding on to my initial comment;
The images here are even a bit more frightening, because in the Balkan Wars, some Croat Para-Militaries or whatever, did in fact, dress up in some of that Ustasha gear. Wearing Nazi helmets and such.
But to be fair; there is a 1970s book called “Slaughterhouse” that details for the most part was would be called post war retaliations.
It really is too complex of a subject.
“I know, I didn’t need to. But thank you for the game, anyway.”
You didn’t even show up to play. I’ve been the one posting evidence about what we were talking about. You?
You are apologizing for people who were backed by a regime that intentionally set out to commit mass murder and commited murder on a massive scale themselves, you should be embarrassed.
What evidence? Are you admitting to being a holocaust denier?
The young are easily mislead since they are not taught to think critically.
Example of sickness: criticizing is bad.
nose rings are good.
Reminds me of those that are following the myth of Che Guevarra. The commies (International ANSWER) are selling him big time here in Los Angeles. I’ve seen t-shirts, flags, and windo decals. I’ve asked someone sporting Che to explain him and was told, “He’s everything to me.” and “He was a freedom fighter.”
Have someone read you the responses posted by the Christians who OPPOSE genocide (HINT: none are Croatian Catholics). I know it will be a new experience for you.
Yeah, VLADIMIR, you’re an American... WTF?
“You are apologizing for people who were backed by a regime that intentionally set out to commit mass murder and commited murder on a massive scale themselves, you should be embarrassed.”
I have nothing whatsoever to be embarrassed about. I am also not defending the guilty. You can pretend I am all you want, but it just isn’t true.
The evidence of Stepinac’s heroic defense of Jews and Serbs.
“Are you admitting to being a holocaust denier?”
I can’t admit to being something I’m not. I have never once in my life denied the Holocaust against Jews by Nazis, nor any of the other genocides committed by others in WWII or by communists elseshere, etc. That includes the obvious genocide of Serbs by some Croats in the Second World War.
It is interesting to me that you, who seem to have no argument at all, are now pretending I am a Holocaust denier. I have NEVER denied the Holocaust.
“Have someone read you the responses posted by the Christians who OPPOSE genocide (HINT: none are Croatian Catholics). I know it will be a new experience for you.”
I oppose genocide. Plenty of Croatians also oppose genocide. The idea that ALL Croatians are in favor of genocide is clearly a racist idea in itself.