April 24, 2018
By George Djuro Budimir
Jadovno Concentration Camp
Background. In April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia, Hitler rewarded Croatian Fascists, known as Ustashe, by carving out of Yugoslavia a Croatian state “The Independent State of Croatia,” with Ante Pavelić as its leader. Their official policy was the establishment of a “Pure and Catholic State,” a unique creation responsible for one of the bloodiest pages of Church history.
On June 2, in his speech given at Nova Gradiška, Milovan Zanić, the Minister of Justice revealed his government’s plan: “This state, our country is only for Croats and for no one else. There are no ways and means which we Croats will not use to make our country truly ours, and cleanse it of all Orthodox Serbs.” Mile Budak, the Minister of Education in an address at Karlovac on July 13, 1941, did not hesitate to declare “the movement of the Ustashe is based on religion.” Unsurprisingly, a considerable number of Catholic clergy were participants in the forcible conversion of Serbs, or their complete elimination. Then there was Archbishop Ivan Šarić of Sarajevo admonishing any reluctance on the part of his priests, stating that “it would be stupid and unworthy of the disciples of Christ to think that struggling against an evil could be done nobly with gloves.” (Katolički Tjednik, June 15, 1941) The worst crimes could hardly have been surpassed by the deeds of these individuals, the vilest betrayers of God and of man.
Modern-day Croatian Ustashe protesting at the Jadovno site