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Ante Paveli?
Ante Paveli? StAF W 134 Nr. 026020 Bild 1 (5-92156-1).jpg
Paveli? in Usta?e uniform in 1942
Poglavnik of the Independent State of Croatia

10 April 1941 - 8 May 1945
MonarchTomislav II (1941-1943)
Himself (1941-1943)
Nikola Mandi? (1943-1945)
Position established
Position abolished
1st Prime Minister of the Independent State of Croatia

16 April 1941 - 2 September 1943
MonarchTomislav II
Position established
Nikola Mandi?
2nd Minister of Armed Forces of the Independent State of Croatia

4 January 1943 - 2 September 1943
Slavko Kvaternik
Miroslav Navratil
1st Foreign Minister of the Independent State of Croatia

16 April 1941 - 9 June 1941
MonarchTomislav II
Position established
Mladen Lorkovi?
Member of the Yugoslav Parliament

11 September 1927 - 7 January 1929
MonarchAlexander I
Velimir Vuki?evi? (1927-1928)
Anton Koro?ec (1928-1929)
Personal details
Born(1889-07-14)14 July 1889
Bradina, Konjic, Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary
Died28 December 1959(1959-12-28) (aged 70)
Madrid, Spain
Resting placeSaint Isidore Cemetery, Madrid, Spain
Political partyUsta?e (1929-1945)
Other political
Party of Rights (1910-1929)
Croatian Statehood Party (1950)
Croatian Liberation Movement (1956-1959)
Alma materUniversity of Zagreb

Ante Paveli? (Croatian pronunciation: [?:nte pelit] ; 14 July 1889 - 28 December 1959) was a Croatian politician and dictator who founded and headed the fascist ultranationalist organization known as the Usta?e in 1929 and governed the Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Dr?ava Hrvatska, NDH), a fascist puppet state built out of parts of occupied Yugoslavia by the authorities of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, from 1941 to 1945. Paveli? and the Usta?e persecuted many racial minorities and political opponents in the NDH during the war, including Serbs, Jews, Romani, and anti-fascists, becoming one of the key figures of the Genocide of Serbs and the Holocaust in NDH.[1][2][3]

At the start of his career, Paveli? was a lawyer and a politician of the Croatian Party of Rights in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia known for his nationalist beliefs and support for an independent Croatia. By the end of the 1920s, his political activity became more radical as he called on Croats to revolt against Yugoslavia, and schemed an Italian protectorate of Croatia separate from Yugoslavia. After King Alexander I declared his 6 January Dictatorship in 1929 and banned all political parties, Paveli? went abroad and plotted with the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) to undermine the Yugoslav state, which prompted the Yugoslav authorities to try him in absentia and sentence him to death. In the meantime, Paveli? had moved to fascist Italy where he founded the Usta?e, a Croatian nationalist movement with the goal of creating an independent Croatia by any means, including the use of terror.[4][5][6][7] Paveli? incorporated terrorist actions in the Usta?e program, such as train bombings and assassinations, staged a small uprising in Lika in 1932, culminating in the assassination of King Alexander in 1934 in conjunction with the IMRO. Paveli? was once again sentenced to death after being tried in France in absentia and, under international pressure, the Italians imprisoned him for 18 months, and largely obstructed the Usta?e in the following period.

At the behest of the Germans, senior Usta?a Slavko Kvaternik declared the NDH's establishment on 10 April 1941 in the name of Paveli?, the Poglavnik. Paveli? returned from Italy and took control of the puppet government, creating a political system similar to that of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The NDH, though constituting a Greater Croatia, was forced by the Italians to relinquish several territorial concessions to the latter. After taking control, Paveli? imposed largely anti-Serbian and antisemitic policies that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 Serbs and Jews in concentration and extermination camps in the NDH,[2][8] murdering and torturing several hundred thousand Serbs,[9][10] along with tens of thousands of Jews and Roma.[11][12] These persecutions and killings have been described as the "single most disastrous episode in Yugoslav history".[13] The racial policies of the NDH greatly contributed to their rapid loss of control over the occupied territory, as they fed the ranks of both the Chetniks and Partisans and caused even the German authorities to attempt to restrain Paveli? and his genocidal campaign.[14]

In 1945, he ordered the executions of prominent NDH politicians Mladen Lorkovi? and Ante Voki? on charges of treason when they were arrested for plotting to oust him and align the NDH with the Allies. Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945, Paveli? ordered his troops to keep fighting even after the surrender. The remainder of the NDH government decided to flee to Austria on 3 May 1945, but Paveli? instead ordered them to retreat to Austria over the former border of the Third Reich and have the Croatian Armed Forces surrender to the British Army. The British refused to accept the surrender and directed them to surrender to the Partisans. The Partisans began carrying out massacres against the Usta?e when the latter attacked their position, killing them in a series of repatriations later known as the Bleiburg repatriations. Paveli? himself fled to Austria, and later Argentina, whose president Juan Perón provided sanctuary for German war criminals and several Usta?e. On 10 April 1957, he was shot several times in a failed assassination attempt by the Serbian assassin Blagoje Jovovi?. Paveli? survived the attempt and soon left Argentina for Spain. He died two and a half years later, on 28 December 1959, aged 70, from the injuries he sustained in the attempted assassination.

Early life

Birth and education

Ante Paveli? was born in the Herzegovinian village of Bradina on the slopes of Ivan Mountain north of Konjic, roughly 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) southwest of Had?i?i, then part of the Ottoman Empire occupied by Austrian-Hungarian Empire. His parents had moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the village of Krivi Put in the central part of the Velebit plain, in southern Lika (in today's Croatia),[15][16] to work on the Sarajevo-Metkovi? railway line.[17]

Searching for work, his family moved to the village of Jezero outside Jajce, where Paveli? attended primary school, or maktab. Here Paveli? learned Muslim traditions and lessons that influenced his attitude towards Bosnia and its Muslims. Paveli? also attended a Jesuit primary[dubious ] school in Travnik, growing up in a Muslim-majority city. Bosnian Muslim culture later became a major influence on his political views.[] Paveli?'s sense of Croat nationalism grew from a visit to Lika with his parents, where he heard townspeople speaking Croatian, and realised it was not just the language of peasants. While attending school in Travnik he became an adherent of the nationalist ideologies of Ante Star?evi? and his successor as the leader of the Party of Rights, Josip Frank.[17]

Health problems briefly interrupted his education in 1905. In summer he found work on the railway in Sarajevo and Vi?egrad. He continued his education in Zagreb, the home city of his elder brother Josip. In Zagreb, Paveli? attended high school. His failure to complete his fourth-year classes meant he had to retake the exam. Early in his high school days, he joined the Pure Party of Rights[18] as well as the Frankovci students' organization, founded by Josip Frank, the father-in-law of Slavko Kvaternik, an Austro-Hungarian colonel. Later he attended high school in Senj at the classical gymnasium, where he completed his fifth-year classes. Health problems again interrupted his education, and he took a job on the road in Istria, near Buzet. In 1909 he finished his sixth-year classes in Karlovac. His seventh-year classes were completed in Senj. Paveli? graduated in Zagreb in 1910 and entered the Law Faculty of the University of Zagreb. In 1912 Paveli? was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attempted assassination of the Ban of Croatia-Slavonia, Slavko Cuvaj.[19] He completed his law degree in 1914, and obtained his doctorate in July 1915.[16] From 1915 until 1918 he worked as a clerk in the office of Aleksandar Horvat, president of the Party of Rights. After completing his clerkship, he became a lawyer in Zagreb.[15]

Political rise

During World War I, Paveli? played an active role in the Party of Rights. As an employee and friend of its leader Horvat, he often attended important party meetings, taking over Horvat's duties when he was absent. In 1918, Paveli? entered the party leadership and its Business Committee. After the unification of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs with the Kingdom of Serbia on 1 December 1918, the Party of Rights held a day of public protest claiming that the Croatian people were against having a Serbian king, and that their highest state authorities had not agreed to unification. Further, the party expressed their wish for Croatian republic in a program from March 1919, signed by president of the party, Vladimir Prebeg and Paveli?.[20] At the 1921 local elections in Zagreb, Paveli? was elected member of the city assembly. In the name of the party, he contacted Nikola Pa?i?, the Yugoslav Prime Minister and member of the People's Radical Party, with the goal of weakening the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS),[18] the dominant Croatian party in the interwar period.[21]

Paveli? was a member of the Frankovci faction of the Party of Rights. Ivica Per?i?, a Croatian politician from the competing Milinovci faction, wrote in his memoir how Paveli?'s 1921 election significantly raised the standing of his law office in Zagreb - a number of rich Jewish clients paid him to obtain Yugoslav citizenship, and Paveli? subsequently started to make frequent visits to Belgrade, where he would procure those documents through his increasing number of connections to the members of the ruling People's Radical Party.[22]

In 1921, fourteen Party of Rights members, including Paveli?, Ivo Pilar and Milan ?ufflay, were arrested for anti-Yugoslav activities, for their alleged contacts with the Croatian Committee, a Croatian nationalist organization that was based in Hungary at the time.[23] Paveli? acted as the defence lawyer at the subsequent trial and was released.[18]

On 12 August 1922, in St. Mark's Church, Zagreb, Paveli? married Maria Lovren?evi?. They had three children, daughters Vi?nja and Mirjana and son Velimir. Maria was part Jewish through her mother's family and her father, Martin Lovren?evi?, was a member of the Party of Rights and a well-known journalist.[18]

Later Paveli? became vice-president of the Croatian Bar Association, the professional body representing Croatian lawyers.[24]

In his speeches to the Yugoslav Parliament he opposed Serbian nationalism and spoke in favor of Croatian independence. He was active with the youth of the Croatian Party of Rights and began contributing to the Star?evi? and Kvaternik newspapers.[18]

Serbian members of the Yugoslav Parliament disliked him and when a Serbian member said "Good night" to him in parliament, Paveli? responded:

"Gentleman, I will be euphoric when I will be able to say to you 'good night'. I will be happy when all Croats can say 'good night' and thank you, for this 'party' we had here with you. I think that you will all be happy when you don't have Croats here any more."[25]

In 1927, Paveli? became the vice-president of the party.[18]

In June 1927, Paveli? represented Zagreb County at the European Congress of Cities in Paris. When he was returning from Paris, he visited Rome and submitted a memorandum in the name of HSP to the Italian ministry of foreign affairs in which he offered to cooperate with Italy in dismembering Yugoslavia.[18] In order to obtained Italian support for Croatian independence, the memorandum effectively made any such Croatia 'little more than an Italian protectorate'. The memorandum also stated that the Party of Rights recognised the existing territorial settlements between Italy and Yugoslavia, thus giving up all Croatian claims to Istria, Rijeka, Zadar and the Adriatic islands which Italy had annexed after World War I. These areas contained between 300,000 and 400,000 Croats. Further, the memorandum also agreed to cede the Bay of Kotor and Dalmatian headlands of strategic importance to Italy, and agreed that a future Croatia would not establish a navy.[26]

As the most radical politician of the Croatian Bloc, Paveli? sought opportunities to internationalize the "Croatian question" and highlight Yugoslavia's unsustainability. In December 1927, Paveli? defended four Macedonian students in Skopje[27] who were accused of belonging to the Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization founded by Ivan Mihailov. During the trial, Paveli? accused the court of setting them up and stressed the right to self-determination. This trial received public attention in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.[28]

Following his election as a member of the Croatian Bloc in the 1927 election, Paveli? became his party's liaison with Nikola Pa?i?. He was one of two elected Croatian Bloc candidates alongside Ante Trumbi?, one of the key politicians in the creation of a Yugoslav state.[18] From 1927 until 1929, he was part of the minuscule delegation of the Party of Rights in the Yugoslav Parliament.[29]

In 1927, he secretly contacted Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, and presented his separatist ideas to him.[30] Paveli? proposed an independent Greater Croatia that should cover the entire historical and ethnic area of the Croats.[30] In summer 1928, the leaders of the Croatian Bloc, Trumbi? and Paveli?, addressed the Italian consul in Zagreb to gain support for the Croatian struggle against regime of King Alexander. On 14 July, they received a positive response, after which Paveli? maintained contact.[31]

Historian Rory Yeomans claimed that there are indication that Paveli? had been considering the formation of some kind of nationalist insurgency group as early as 1928.[32] After the assassination of Croatian politicians in the National Assembly, of which he was an eyewitness, Paveli? joined the Peasant-Democratic Coalition and started to publish a magazine called Hrvatski domobran [hr] in which he advocated Croatian independence. His political party radicalised after the assassination. He found support in the Croatian Rights Republican Youth (Hrvatska prava?ka republikanska omladina), a youth wing of the Party of Rights led by Branimir Jeli?. On 1 October 1928 he founded an armed group with the same name, an act through which he openly called on Croatians to revolt. This group trained as part of a legal sport society. Yugoslav authorities declared the organization illegal and banned its activities.[18][16][25]

In exile

Paveli? held the position of the Party of Rights secretary until 1929, the beginning of the 6 January Dictatorship in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[18][33] According to Croatian historian Hrvoje Matkovi?, after the King declared his dictatorship Paveli?'s house was under constant police watch.[25]

At this time, Paveli? started to organize the Usta?a (Usta?a - Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret) as an organization with military and conspiratorial principles.[18] Its official foundation was 7 January 1929.[34] The Usta?a movement was "founded on the principles of racialism and intolerance".[35]

Because of the threat of arrest, Paveli? escaped during a surveillance lapse and went to Austria on the night of 19/20 January 1929.[25] According to Tomasevich, Paveli? left for Vienna to "seek medical aid".[36]

Initial exile and trial

He contacted other Croatian emigrants, mainly political émigrés, former Austrian-Hungarian officers, who gathered around Stjepan Sarkoti? and refused to return to Yugoslavia. After a short stay in Austria, alongside Gustav Per?ec, Paveli? moved to Budapest.

In March 1929, the Usta?e commenced a campaign of terrorism within Yugoslavia with the assassination of Toni Schlegel in Zagreb. Schlegel was a pro-Yugoslav editor of the newspaper Novosti who was also a close confidante of King Alexander.[37]

After establishing contact with the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization in April 1929, he and Per?ec went to Sofia in Bulgaria. On 29 April 1929, Paveli? and Ivan Mihailov signed the Sofia Declaration in which they formalized cooperation between their movements. In the declaration, they obligated themselves to separate Croatia and Macedonia from Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia protested to Bulgaria. Paveli? was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death in absentia along with Per?ec on 17 August 1929.[25]

Because of the Yugoslav verdict, on 25 September 1929 Paveli? was arrested in Vienna and expelled to Germany. Paveli?'s stay in Germany was constrained by opposition from the German ambassador to Yugoslavia, Adolf Köster, a supporter of Yugoslavia. A friend of King Alexander, he did his best to prevent Croatian nationalist activity in Yugoslavia.[]

Exile in Italy

Paveli? left Germany under a false passport and went to Italy, where his family already lived.[38] In Italy he frequently changed location and lived under false names, most often as "Antonio Serdar".[] Since he had been in contact with Italian authorities since 1927, he easily established contact with the fascists. In autumn 1929 he established contacts with Italian journalists and Mussolini's brother Arnaldo, who supported Croatian independence without any territorial concession. Paveli? created sympathy and understanding of Croats among Italians.

That autumn Paveli? published a brochure called Establishment of the Croatian State: Lasting Peace in the Balkans which summarized important events of Croatian history.[38] The Italian authorities did not want to formally support Usta?e or Paveli?, to protect their reputation;[clarification needed] nevertheless, the group received support from Benito Mussolini, who saw them as a means to help destroy Yugoslavia and expand Italian influence in the Adriatic. Mussolini allowed Paveli? to live in exile in Rome and train his paramilitaries for war with Yugoslavia. In the Usta?a organization of 1929-1930, Paveli?'s closest associates were Gustav Per?ec, Branimir Jeli?, Ivan Per?evi? and later Mladen Lorkovi? and Mile Budak.[34]

The Usta?e began with the creation of military formations trained for sabotage and terrorism.[39] With financial help from Mussolini, in 1931 Paveli? established terrorist training camps,[40] first in Bovegno in the Brescia region, and encouraged the foundation of such camps all around Italy. Camps were founded in Borgotaro, Lepari and Janka-Puszta in Hungary. The Usta?e were involved with smuggling weapons and propaganda into Yugoslavia from their camps in Italy and Hungary.[39] At the demands of Italian authorities, the camps were often moved. The main Usta?e headquarters was at first in Torino, and later in Bologna.[25]

On Paveli?'s initiative, his associates established Usta?e associations in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil and North America. Paveli? also encouraged publishing magazines in various countries.[41]

The series of bombings and shootings by the Usta?e in Yugoslavia resulted in a severe crackdown on political activity as the state met terror with terror.[37] Impoverished Croat peasants were hardest hit by the counter-terror, usually meted out by Serb policemen.[42]

In 1932 he started a newspaper named the "Usta?a - -Herald of Croatian Revolutionaries" (Croatian: Usta?a - vijesnik hrvatskih revolucionaraca). From its very first publication, Paveli? announced that the use of violence was central to the Usta?e:[43] '

"The dagger, revolver, machine-gun and time bomb; these are the bells that will announce the dawn and the resurrection of the Independent State of Croatia."'

According to Ivo Goldstein, there were no instances of antisemitism in the newspaper in the beginning. Goldstein suggests there were three reasons for this; the total focus of the Usta?e on the Belgrade government, lack of the necessary intellectual capacity within the early Usta?e movement to properly develop their ideology, and the active involvement of Jews with the Usta?e. Goldstein points out that as Usta?e ideology developed in later years it became more anti-Semitic.[44]

At a meeting held in Spittal in Austria in 1932, Paveli?, Per?ec and Vjekoslav Servatzy decided to start a small uprising. It began at midnight on 6 September 1932 and was known as the Velebit uprising. Led by Andrija Artukovi?, the insurgency involved around 20 Usta?e members armed with Italian equipment. They attacked a police station and half an hour later pulled back to Velebit with no casualties. This uprising was to scare Yugoslav authorities. Despite the small scale the Yugoslav authorities were unnerved because the power of the Usta?e had been unknown. As a result, major security measures were introduced. This action appeared in the foreign press, especially in Italy and Hungary.[45]

On 1 June 1933 and 16 April 1941, the Usta?a program and "The Seventeen Principles of the Usta?e Movement" were published in Zagreb by the Propaganda Department of the Supreme Usta?a Headquarters.[46] The main goal was the creation of an independent Croatian state based on its historical and ethnic areas, with Paveli? stating that Usta?e must pursue this end by any means necessary, even by force of arms.[41] According to his rules he would organize actions, assassinations and diversions. With this document the organization changed its name from Usta?a - Croatian Revolutionary Movement to Usta?a - Croatian Revolutionary Organization (Croatian: Usta?a - Hrvatska revolucionarna organizacija; abbreviated to UHRO).[41][verification needed]

Assassination of King Alexander and aftermath

By killing the king of Yugoslavia, Paveli? saw an opportunity to cause riots in Yugoslavia and eventual collapse of the state. In December 1933, Paveli? ordered the assassination of King Alexander. The assassin was caught by the police and the assassination attempt failed.[where?][when?] However, Paveli? tried again in October 1934 in Marseilles.[47]

On 9 October 1934, King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and French foreign minister Louis Barthou were assassinated in Marseille.[48] The perpetrator Vlado Chernozemski, a Bulgarian revolutionary, was killed right after the assassination by French police.[48] Three Usta?a members, who had been waiting at different locations for the king, were captured and sentenced to life imprisonment by a French court. Paveli? along with Eugen Kvaternik and Ivan Per?evi? were subsequently sentenced to death in absentia by a French court.[48] That the security was lax even though one attempt had already been made on Alexander's life testified to Paveli?'s organizational abilities; he had apparently been able to bribe a high official in the Sûreté General. The Marseilles Prefect of Police, Jouhannaud, was subsequently removed from office.[49] The Usta?a believed that the assassination of King Alexander had effectively "broken the backbone of Yugoslavia" and that it was their "most important achievement."[48]

Under pressure from France, the Italian police arrested Paveli? and several Usta?a emigrants on 17 October 1934. Paveli? was imprisoned in Turin and released in March 1936. After he met with Eugen Dido Kvaternik on Christmas 1934 in prison, he stated that assassination was "the only language Serbs understand". During his time in prison, Paveli? was informed about the situation in Yugoslavia and the 5 May 1935 election, in which a coalition of opposition parties was led by HSS leader Vladko Ma?ek. Paveli? declared the election results as a "success of the Usta?e actions".[50] By the mid-1930s, graffiti with the initials ?AP meaning "Long live Ante Paveli?" (Croatian: ?ivio Ante Paveli?) had begun to appear on the streets of Zagreb.[51]

After Paveli?'s released from prison, he remained under surveillance by the Italian authorities, and his Usta?e were interned. Disappointed with relations between the Italians and the Usta?e organization, Paveli? became closer to Nazi Germany, who promised to change the map of Europe fixed under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.[] In October 1936 he finished a survey for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Croatian Question (Croatian: Hrvatsko pitanje; German: Die kroatische Frage). According to Ivo Goldstein, the survey deemed the "Serbian state authorities, international Freemasonry, Jews and communism"' as enemies and stated that:

"Today almost all banking and almost all trade in Croatia is in the hands of the Jews. This became possible only because the state gave them privileges, because the government believed that this would weaken Croatian national strength. The Jews greeted the foundation of the so-called Yugoslav state with great enthusiasm because a national Croatian state would never suit them as well as Yugoslavia did. ... All the press in Croatia is in Jewish hands. This Jewish Freemason press is constantly attacking Germany, the German people and national socialism."[52]

According to Matkovi?, after 1937 Paveli? paid more attention to the Usta?e in Yugoslavia than elsewhere, since the emigrants had become passive after the assassination. In 1938 he instructed the Usta?e to form stations in Yugoslav towns. The fall of Stojadinovi?'s government and the creation of the Banovina of Croatia in 1939 further increased Usta?e activity; they founded Uzdanica (Hope), a savings co-operative. Under Uzdanica, Usta?e founded Usta?e University Headquarters and the illegal association Matija Gubec.[53] However, Pavlowitch observes that Paveli? had few contacts with the Usta?e within Yugoslavia, and that his esteemed position within the Usta?e was partly due to his isolation in Italy.[54] Despite their rise in activity in the 1930s, the movement experienced only moderate growth of popularity,[46] and remained a marginal group.[55]

In the late 1930s, about half of the 500 Usta?a in Italy were voluntarily repatriated to Yugoslavia, went underground and increased their activities. During the intensification of ties with Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Paveli?'s concept of the Croatian nation became increasingly race-oriented.[56][57]

On 1 April 1937, after the Stojadinovi?-Ciano agreement, all Usta?e units were dissolved by the Italian government.[58][better source needed] After that, Paveli? was put under house arrest in Siena, where he lived until 1939. During this period he penned his anti-Bolshevik work Horrors and Mistakes (Italian: Errori e orrori; Croatian: Strahote zabluda) which was published in 1938. It was immediately seized by the authorities. At the onset of World War II he moved to a villa near Florence under police watch until spring 1941.[53]

After Italy occupied Albania and prepared an attack on Yugoslavia, Ciano invited Paveli? to negotiations. They discussed Croatian armed revolt, Italian military intervention and the creation of a Croatian state with monetary, customs and personal unions with Italy, which Paveli? later refused.[58][better source needed]

In 1940 Paveli? negotiated with the Italians for military assistance in creating a separate Croatian state which would have had strong ties to Italy, but this plan was postponed by the invasion of France, and subsequently derailed by Adolf Hitler.

Usta?e regime


On 25 March 1941, Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact, but two days later the government was overthrown in a bloodless military coup by opponents who were motivated by a range of factors.[59]

Two days after the Belgrade coup, Mussolini invited Paveli? from Florence to his private residence in Rome, the Villa Torlonia; this was their first meeting since Paveli?'s arrival in Italy. Paveli? was escorted by Matija Bzik, but Mussolini received only Paveli?. Acting Foreign Minister Filippo Anfuso was present during the meeting.[60]

Paveli? and Mussolini discussed Croatia's position after Yugoslav capitulation. Mussolini was concerned that Italian designs on Dalmatia be achieved, and in response Paveli? acknowledged the agreements he had made earlier and reassured him. Paveli? requested the release of the remaining interned Usta?e, an Italian liaison officer was allocated to him, and the Italians also lent him a radio station in Florence so he could conduct late evening broadcasts.[61] On 1 April 1941 Paveli? called for the liberation of Croatia.[62]

On 6 April 1941 the Axis invaded Yugoslavia from multiple directions, rapidly overwhelming the under-prepared Royal Yugoslav Army which capitulated 11 days later.[63] The German operational plan included making 'political promises to the Croats' to increase internal discord.[64]

The Germans generally preferred to collaborate with non-fascists who were willing to work with them, and only placed out-and-out fascists in charge as a last resort.[65] Croatia was no exception. The Nazis wanted any Croatian puppet government to have popular support, so that they could control their zone of occupation with minimal forces and exploit the available resources peacefully. The administration of Banovina Croatia had been under the control of an alliance of Vladko Ma?ek's HSS and the mostly Croatian Serb Independent Democratic Party. Ma?ek was very popular among Croats, had been vice-premier in the Yugoslav Cvetkovi? government, was a supporter of Yugoslav accession to the Axis and had a ready made para-military force in the form of the HSS Croatian Peasant Defence. As a result, the Germans attempted to get Ma?ek to proclaim an "independent Croatian state" and form a government. When he refused to cooperate, the Germans decided they had no alternative other than to support Paveli?,[66] even though they considered that the Usta?e could not provide an assurance they could govern in the way the Germans wanted.[67]

The official proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia by Slavko Kvaternik

It was estimated by the Germans that Paveli? had around 900 sworn Usta?e in Yugoslavia at the time of the invasion, and the Usta?e themselves considered that their supporters only numbered some 40,000.[54] The Germans also considered Paveli? to be an Italian agent[68] or "Mussolini's man",[66] but considered that other senior Usta?as such as deputy leader (Croatian: Doglavnik) Slavko Kvaternik were sufficiently pro-German to ensure their interests would be supported by any regime led by Paveli?.[69]

On 10 April 1941, Kvaternik declared an Independent State of Croatia in the name of the Poglavnik Ante Paveli? via the Zagreb Radio Station.[70] Kvaternik was acting on the orders of SS-Brigadeführer (Brigadier) Edmund Veesenmayer.[71] The proclamation was viewed favourably by a significant portion of the population, particularly those living in Zagreb, western Herzegovina and Lika. The Croatian Peasant Defence, which had been infiltrated by the Usta?e, assisted by disarming Royal Yugoslav Army units and imposing some control.[72] However, the Ustashe received limited support from ordinary Croats.[73] The commander of German forces in the NDH estimated that only around 2% of the country's population supported the Ustashe regime.[74]

The Usta?e that had been interned in Italy had been concentrated at Pistoia, about 50 km from Florence where they were issued with Italian uniforms and small arms. They were joined by Paveli? on 10 April and listened to radio broadcasts announcing the proclamation of the NDH.[75] Paveli?'s visit to Pistoia was actually his first meeting with the Usta?e after the assassination in Marseilles. In Pistoia, Paveli? gave a speech in which he announced that their struggle for an independent Croatia was near the end. After that he returned to his home in Florence where he heard Kvaternik's proclamation on a radio broadcast from Vienna. On 11 April, Paveli? went to Rome, where he was hosted by Anfuso, after which he was received by Mussolini. During the meeting Paveli? was guaranteed that his government would be recognized immediately after he arrived in Zagreb.[]

After a meeting in Rome, Paveli? boarded the train with his Usta?e escort and went to Zagreb via Trieste and Rijeka.[76] He arrived at Karlovac on 13 April with about 250--400 Usta?e where was greeted by Veesenmayer who was appointed by German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to supervise the state's creation.[77] In Karlovac, Paveli? was asked to confirm that he had not made any commitments to the Italians, but Mussolini's envoy arrived while he was there and negotiations ensued to ensure that his messages to Hitler and Mussolini would deal satisfactorily with the questions of Dalmatia and recognition by the Axis powers. This issue was the first sign of Italo-German tensions over the NDH.[78]

Ante Paveli? (left) and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in June 1941

Diplomatic recognition of the NDH by the Axis was delayed to ensure that Paveli? made the promised territorial concessions to Italy. These concessions meant that Paveli? handed to Italy some 5,400 square kilometres of territory with a population of 380,000, consisting of about 280,000 Croats, 90,000 Serbs, 5,000 Italians and 5,000 others. Once this was completed Paveli? travelled to Zagreb on 15 April, and Axis recognition was also granted to the NDH on that day.[77]

On 16 April 1941, Paveli? signed a decree appointing the new Croatian State Government.[79] He was the first to take an oath, after which he stated:

Since 1102, Croatian people didn't have its autonomous and independent state. And there, after full 839 years, the time has come to form the responsible Croatian government.[80][verification needed]

Paveli? thus presented the NDH as the embodiment of the "historical aspirations of the Croatian people".[81] The decree named Osman Kulenovi? as the vice-president of the government, and Slavko Kvaternik as Paveli?'s deputy, and appointed eight other senior Usta?e as ministers.[82] The Usta?e made use of the existing bureaucracy of the Banovina of Croatia, after it had been purged and "usta?ised". The new regime drew upon the concept of an uninterrupted Croatian state since the arrival of the Croats in their contemporary homeland, and reflected extreme Croat nationalism mixed with Nazism and Italian Fascism, Catholic clerical authoritarianism and the peasantism of the Croatian Peasant Party.[54]

Ante Paveli? and Benito Mussolini in 1941 when Italy recognized Croatia as a sovereign state

Paveli? tried to prolong the negotiations with Italy about the boundary between the two states. At the time, he was receiving support from Berlin. Ciano insisted that Italy must annex the whole Croatian littoral, and after some time the Germans pulled back to protect German-Italian relations. On 25 April, Paveli? and Ciano met in Ljubljana again discussing borders. Ciano's first proposal was Italian annexation of the whole Croatian littoral and hinterland all the way to Karlovac. Another proposal was somewhat less demanding but with closer ties with Italy, including a monetary, customs and personal union. Paveli? refused and instead demanded that Croatian gain the towns of Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. Ciano didn't respond, but promised another meeting. Paveli? was still counting on German support, but without success. On 7 May 1941, Paveli? and Mussolini met in Tr?i? and agreed to discuss the matter in Rome. On 18 May 1941 Paveli? went to Rome with his delegation and signed a Treaty of Rome in which Croatia gave up part of Dalmatia, Krk, Rab, Kor?ula, Biograd, ?ibenik, Trogir, Split, ?iovo, Veliki i Mali Drvenik, ?olta, Mljet and parts of Konavle and the Bay of Kotor to Italy. A Croatian proposal that Split and Kor?ula Island be jointly administrated was ignored. These annexations shocked the people and led to the only public demonstration recorded in the Independent State of Croatia's history.[]

Hundreds of citizens, members of the Usta?e Movement and the Domobranstvo (Army) protested on 25 December 1941.[clarification needed] Paveli? tried to retrieve the lost areas, but kept his real feelings and those of the people from the Italians to maintain the pretext of good relations.

Prime Minister

Paveli? agreed to name Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta as King of Croatia to avoid a union with Italy,[83] but delayed the formalities in the hope of gaining more territory in return for accepting the new king.[84] Aimone was officially declared King of the Independent State of Croatia on 18 May 1941 under the name of Tomislav II and appointed Paveli? as Prime Minister; however, the King's powers were purely ceremonial, to the point that he never even visited Croatia during his Kingdom, but preferred to deal with his royal duties from an office in Rome.[83] On 10 July 1941, Paveli? accepted the annexation of Me?imurje by Hungary.[77]

Paveli? greeting the Croatian parliament in February 1943


On 14 April 1941, in one of his first acts after assuming power, Paveli? signed the 'Decree-Law concerning the Preservation of Croatian National Property', which annulled all large property transactions made by Jews in the two months prior to the proclamation of the NDH.[85]

He signed the Law-Decree on Protection of the Nation and the State on 17 April 1941,[86] which came into effect immediately, was retrospective, and imposed the death penalty for any actions causing harm to the honour or vital interests of the NDH. This law was the first of three decrees that effectively placed the Serb, Jewish and Roma populations of the NDH outside the law and lead to their persecution and destruction.[87]

On April 19 and 22, the Ustashe issued decrees suspending all employees of state and local governments, and state enterprises. This allowed the new regime to get rid of all unwanted employees - "in principle this meant all Jews, Serbs and all Yugoslav-oriented Croats"[88]

On 25 April 1941, he signed into law a decree prohibiting the use of the Cyrillic alphabet,[89] which directly impacted on the Serbian Orthodox population of the NDH, as the rites of the church were written in Cyrillic.[90][91]

On 30 April 1941, Paveli? enacted the 'Law concerning Nationality',[92] which essentially made all Jews non-citizens, and this was followed by further laws restricting their movement and residency. From 23 May all Jews were required to wear yellow identification tags, and on 26 June Paveli? issued a decree which blamed Jews for activities against the NDH and ordered their internment in concentration camps.[93]


Standard of Ante Paveli?

As Prime Minister of the NDH, Paveli? had full control over the state. The oath taken by all government employees declared that Paveli? represented the sovereignty of the NDH.[94] His title Poglavnik represented the close ties between the Croatian state and the Usta?e movement, since he had the same title as leader of the Usta?e. Moreover, Paveli? made all significant decisions, including naming state ministers and leaders of the Usta?e. As the NDH had no functional legislature, Paveli? approved all of the laws, which made him the most powerful person in the state. Through the incorporation of the extreme right-wing of the popular HSS, Paveli?'s regime was initially accepted by the majority of Croats in the NDH.[95] The regime also attempted to re-write history by falsely claiming the legacy of the founder of the HSS Stjepan Radi?, and that of Croatian nationalist Ante Star?evi?.[33]

Soon afterwards, Paveli? visited Pope Pius XII in May 1941, attempting to win Vatican recognition, but failed (although the Papacy placed an legat in Zagreb). The Vatican maintained relations with the Yugoslav Government-in-exile.[96]

Paveli? greeted by Hitler on 9 June 1941 upon his arrival at the Berghof for a state visit

On 9 June 1941, Paveli? visited Adolf Hitler at the Berghof. Hitler impressed on Paveli? that he should maintain a policy of "national intolerance" for fifty years.[97] Hitler also encouraged Paveli? to accept Slovenian immigrants and deport Serbs to the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia. Over the next few months, the Usta?e deported around 120,000 Serbs.[]

In July 1941, the German Plenipotentiary General in the NDH, Edmund Glaise von Horstenau met with Paveli? to express his "grave concern over the excesses of the Usta?e". This was the first of many occasions over the next three years during which von Horstenau and Paveli? clashed over the conduct of the Usta?e.[98] By the end of 1941, the acceptance of the Usta?e regime by most Croats had been transformed into disappointment and discontent, and as a result of the terror perpetrated by the regime some pro-Yugoslav sentiment was beginning to re-emerge, along with pro-communist feelings. The discontent was made worse when Paveli? had Vladko Ma?ek arrested and sent to Jasenovac concentration camp in October 1941. By the end of 1941 HSS propaganda leaflets were urging peasants to be patient as the "day of liberation is near!"[99]

In the public arena there were efforts to create a cult of personality around Paveli?.[100] These efforts included the imposition of a Nazi-style salute, emphasising that he had been sentenced to death in absentia by a Yugoslav court, and repeatedly claiming that he had undergone great hardship to achieve the independence of the NDH.[101] Paveli? summoned the Sabor on 24 January 1942. It met between 23 and 28 February, but it had little influence and after December 1942 was never called again.[]

Paveli? speaks at the Croatian Parliament on 23 February 1942

On 3 March 1942, Hitler awarded Paveli? the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle. Siegfried Kasche, the German envoy, handed it to him in Zagreb. Eugen Dido Kvaternik, son of Slavko Kvaternik, and one of the main protagonists in the Usta?e genocide of the Serbs stated that Paveli? directed Croat nationalism against the Serbs in order to distract the Croat population from a potential backlash against the Italians over his territorial concessions to them in Dalmatia.[102] The worst policies directed against minorities were Usta?e-run concentration and forced labor camps. The most notorious camp was the Jasenovac concentration camp, where 80,000-100,000 people died, including around 18,000 Croatian Jews, or around 90% of the pre-World War II Jewish community.[]

Paveli? founded the Croatian Orthodox Church[103] with the aim of pacifying the Serbs.[104] However, the underlying ideology behind the creation of the Croatian Orthodox Church was connected to the ideas of Ante Star?evi?, who considered that Serbs were "Orthodox Croats",[103] and reflected a desire to create a Croatian state comprising three main religious groupings, Roman Catholic, Muslim and Croatian Orthodox.[104] There is some evidence that the status of Sarajevo Serbs improved after they joined the Croatian Orthodox Church in significant numbers.[105] Through both forcible and voluntary conversions between 1941 and 1945, 244,000 Serbs were converted to Catholicism.[33]

In June 1942, Paveli? met with General Roatta and they agreed that Usta?e administration could be returned to Zone 3 except in towns with Italian garrisons. Paveli? agreed to the continued presence of the Chetnik Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia (MVAC) in this zone, and that the Italians would intervene in Zone 3 if they considered that was necessary. The result of this agreement was that Italian forces largely withdrew from areas that the NDH had virtually no presence and no means by which to reimpose their authority. This created a wide no-man's land from the Sand?ak to western Bosnia in which the Chetniks and Partisans could operate.[106] By mid-1942, Paveli?'s regime effectively controlled only the Zagreb region along with some larger towns that were home to strong NDH and German garrisons.[107]

Paveli? loyalists, mainly Usta?e, wanted to fight the Communist-led partisans while others, unnerved by the idea of a new Yugoslavia, also supported him.[] In 1941-42, the majority of Partisans in Croatia were Serbs, but by October 1943 the majority were Croats. This change was partly due to the decision of a key Croatian Peasant Party member, Bo?idar Magovac, to join the Partisans in June 1943, and partly due to the capitulation of Italy.[108]

Paveli? and his government devoted attention to culture. Although most literature was propaganda, many books did not have an ideological basis, which allowed Croatian culture to flourish. The Croatian National Theatre received many world-famous actors as visitors. The major cultural milestone was the publication of the Croatian Encyclopedia, a work later outlawed under the Communist regime. In 1941 the Croatian Football Association joined FIFA.[109]

On 16 December 1941, Paveli? met with Italian Foreign Minister Ciano in Venice and advised him that there were no more than 12,000 Jews left in the NDH.[110]

In the second half of 1942, the Wehrmacht Commander-in-Chief of the South East, Generaloberst Alexander Löhr and Glaise urged Hitler to have Paveli? remove both the incompetent Slavko Kvaternik and his son the bloodthirsty Eugen "Dido" Kvaternik from power. When Paveli? visited Hitler in the Ukraine in September 1942, he agreed. The following month Slavko Kvaternik was allowed to retire to Slovakia, and Eugen went with him. Paveli? then used the Kvaternik's as scapegoats for both the terror of 1941-42 and the failure of NDH forces to impose law and order within the state.[111]

In January 1943, Glaise told Paveli? that it would be better for everyone "if all concentration camps in the NDH were closed and their inmates sent to work in Germany". Löhr also tried to get Hitler to remove Paveli?, disband the Usta?e and appoint Glaise as plenipotentiary general with supreme authority over the territory of the NDH. By March Hitler had decided to give the task of pacifying the NDH to the Reichsführer-SS (Field Marshal) Heinrich Himmler, who appointed his own plenipotentiary, Generalleutnant der Polizei (Major General of Police) Konstantin Kammerhofer [de]. Kammerhofer brought the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen to the NDH and established a 20,000-strong German gendarmerie with a core of 6,000 Volksdeutsche reinforced by Croats taken from the NDH Home Guard and police. This new gendarmerie swore allegiance to Hitler, not Paveli?.[112]

Shortly before the Italian capitulation, Paveli? appointed a new government led by Nikola Mandi? as prime minister, which included Miroslav Navratil as Minister of the Armed Forces. Navratil was suggested by Glaise, and was appointed by Paveli? to placate the Germans. As a direct result, the 170,000-strong armed forces of the NDH were reorganised under German control into smaller units with greater mobility and the size of the Usta?e militia was also increased to 45,000.[113]

In September 1944, Paveli? met with Hitler for the last time. Paveli? requested that the Germans stop arming and supplying Chetnik units, and asked that the Germans disarm the Chetniks or allow the NDH to disarm them. Hitler agreed that the Chetniks could not be trusted, and issued orders to German forces to stop cooperating with the Chetniks and assist NDH authorities to disarm them. However, German commanders were given sufficient leeway that they were able to avoid carrying out the orders.[114]

After the Italian capitulation

Following the fall of Fascism in Italy, Tomislav II abdicated as King of Croatia on the orders of Victor Emmanuel III. With the King officially gone, Paveli? assumed functions as Head of State of the NDH under the title of Poglavnik and appointed Nikola Mandi? as new Prime Minister. Italy was later invaded and occupied by the Germans in Operation Achse.

As soon as the Italians capitulated in September 1943, Paveli? was quick to amalgamate Italian-annexed Dalmatia into the NDH and offer an amnesty to Croats that had joined the rebels. However, the Germans occupied the previously Italian-occupied zone themselves, including the mines and key agricultural areas.[115] By November 1943, Paveli? and his regime controlled little of the territory of the NDH,[116] and by March 1944 SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS (Brigadier) Ernst Fick observed that "In terms of power, Dr. Ante Paveli? is only mayor of the city of Zagreb, excluding the suburbs".[117]

One of the key events in the history of the Independent State of Croatia was the Lorkovi?-Voki? coup of 1944. Minister Mladen Lorkovi? and army officer Ante Voki? suggested a plan whereby Croatia would change sides in the war and Paveli? would no longer be head of state in accordance with British demands.[] At first, Paveli? supported their ideas but changed his mind following a visit from a local Gestapo officer who told him that Germany would win the war with new weapons under development.[]

Paveli? arrested Lorkovi? and Voki? along with others involved in the coup (some representatives of the Croatian Peasant Party and a number of Domobran officers). Lorkovi? and Voki? were shot at the end of April 1945 in the Lepoglava prison. After plans for an "Anglo-American" coup were discovered, from September 1944 until February 1945 Paveli? negotiated with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to recognize the Croatian state on condition that the Red Army had free access and Communists were allowed free rein. Paveli? refused their proposal and remained allied with Nazi Germany until the end of the war.[]


As leader of the Independent State of Croatia, Paveli? was the main instigator of the genocidal crimes committed in the NDH,[118] and was responsible for a campaign of terror against Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-Axis Croats and Bosniaks which included a network of concentration camps.[33] Numerous testimonies from the Nuremberg Trials along with records in German, Italian and Austrian war archives bear witness to atrocities perpetrated against the civilian population.[119]

In terms of the proportion of the state population killed by its own government, the Paveli? regime was the most murderous in Europe after Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany, and outside of Europe has only been exceeded by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and some genocides in African states.[120] As the main instigator of the genocide, Paveli? was supported by his closest associate Eugen Dido Kvaternik and Minister of Interior Andrija Artukovi?, who were responsible for planning and organization, and Vjekoslav Luburi?, who executed the orders.[121]

In late April 1941, Paveli? was interviewed by an Italian journalist, Alfio Russo. Paveli? stated that Serb rebels would be killed. In response, Russo asked him, "what if all Serbs rebel?" Paveli? answered, "We shall kill them all."[122] Around this time the first mass atrocities occurred, the Gudovac, Veljun and Glina massacres, which were committed by groups of Usta?e under the direct command of Luburi?.[123]

Serbian, Jewish, and Romani men, women, and children were hacked to death. Whole villages were razed and people driven into barns, which the Usta?e then set on fire. Synagogues were also destroyed, most notably, the main one in Zagreb, which was completely razed. General Edmund von Glaise-Horstenau reported to the German Army Command OKW on 28 June 1941.

... according to reliable reports from countless German military and civil observers during the last few weeks the Usta?e have gone raving mad.[124]

On 10 July, General Glaise-Horstenau added:

Our troops have to be mute witnesses of such events; it does not reflect well on their otherwise high reputation ... I am frequently told that German occupation troops would finally have to intervene against Usta?e crimes. This may happen eventually. Right now, with the available forces, I could not ask for such action. Ad hoc intervention in individual cases could make the German Army look responsible for countless crimes which it could not prevent in the past.[]

A report (to SS chief Heinrich Himmler, dated 17 February 1942) on increased partisan activities stated that "Increased activity of the bands is chiefly due to atrocities carried out by Usta?e units in Croatia against the Orthodox population." The Usta?e committed their deeds not only against males of conscript age, but especially against helpless elderly people, women and children.[125][126]

Between 172,000[9] and 290,000 Serbs,[10] 31,000 of the 40,000 Jews,[11] and almost all of the 25,000--40,000 Roma[12] were killed in the Independent State of Croatia by the Usta?e and their Axis allies. Both Jews and Gypsies were subject to a policy of extermination. According to an official Yugoslav report, only 1,500 out of 30,000 Croatian Jews remained alive at the end of World War II.[127] Approximately 26,000 Gypsies were murdered[128] of approximately 40,000 residents.[129] Some 26,000 Croatian anti-fascists (Partisans, political opponents and civilians) were also killed by the NDH regime,[130] including an estimated 5,000-12,000 Croat anti-fascists and other dissidents that were killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp alone.[]

End of the NDH

Seeing Germany's collapse and aware that the Croatian army could not resist the Communists, Paveli? started a move of his forces to Austria, causing several groups of tens of thousands of Croatian soldiers as well as civilians to start a major northward march without a clear strategy.[131] Paveli? left the country on 6 May 1945, and on 8 May, he convened a final meeting of the NDH government in Roga?ka Slatina.[132] At the meeting, General Alexander Löhr informed the government of Germany's capitulation and handed command of the NDH forces to Paveli?.[133][134] Paveli? subsequently named General Vjekoslav Luburi? commander. Later that day Paveli?'s convoy passed into the Soviet occupation zone in Austria, separate from the rest of the NDH government which went to the British occupation zone. The group made it into the American occupation zone and by 18 May arrived at the village of Leingreith near Radstadt where Paveli?'s wife Mara and their two daughters had been living after leaving the NDH in December 1944.[135]

On May 8, Paveli? ordered that the columns from NDH continue to Austria, and that they refuse to surrender to the advancing Yugoslav Army, instead planning to surrender to the British. However, they were instead turned back in the mid-May Bleiburg repatriations, and many were subsequently killed by the Yugoslav Army.[136] The sheer number of civilians slowed down the retreat, made the surrender unfeasible to the Allies, and ultimately led to the belief that they were nothing more than a human shield to the Ustashe.[131] For his abandonment of Croatian soldiers and civilians, later Croatian emigrants would accuse Paveli? of cowardice.

The Paveli? family afterwards lived in the American Occupation Zone. Although Paveli? reported himself to American intelligence, neither they nor their British counterparts arrested him.[]

Several members of the NDH government were executed after a one-day trial in Zagreb on 6 June. Shortly after this, Paveli? moved to the village of Tiefbrunau closer to Salzburg.[137][138] In September, American officials - believing the family were refugees and unaware of their identity - resettled them in the village of St. Gilgen. After St Gilgen, Paveli? stayed with the family of a prewar Macedonian revolutionary for several weeks before settling in Obertrum. Paveli? stayed there until April 1946.[]



Paveli?'s photo on his false passport under name Pablo Aranjos

He entered Italy disguised as a priest with a Peruvian passport.[] Passing Venice and Florence, he arrived in Rome in the spring of 1946 disguised as a Catholic priest and using the name Don Pedro Gonner.[139] On arrival in Rome he was given shelter by the Vatican[138] and stayed at a number of residences that belonged to the Vatican[139] while in Rome where he started to gather his associates. Paveli? formed the Croatian State Committee (Croatian: Hrvatski dr?avni odbor) headed by Lovro Su?i?, Mate Frkovi? and Bo?idar Kavran.[140]

Tito and his new Communist government accused the Catholic Church of harboring Paveli? who they stated, along with the Western "imperialists", wanted to "revive Nazism" and take over communist Eastern Europe.[] The Yugoslav press claimed that Paveli? had stayed at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo,[138] while CIA information states that he stayed at a monastery near the papal residence in the summer and autumn of 1948.[141] Anglo-American intelligence agencies had employed former fascists and Nazis as agents against communist powers.[142]

For some time, Paveli? hid in a Jesuit house near Naples.[] In the autumn of 1948 he met Krunoslav Draganovi?, a Roman Catholic priest, who helped him obtain a Red Cross passport in the Hungarian name of Pál Aranyos. Draganovi? allegedly planned to deliver Paveli? to the Italian police, but Paveli? avoided capture and fled to Argentina.[]

Argentina, Chile and attempted assassination

Paveli? arrived in Buenos Aires on 6 November 1948 on the Italian merchant ship Sestriere,[] where he initially lived with the former Usta?a and writer Vinko Nikoli?.[143] In Buenos Aires Paveli? was joined by his son Velimir and daughter Mirjana. Soon afterwards, his wife Maria and older daughter Vi?nja also arrived.[]

Paveli? took up employment as a security advisor to Argentinian president Juan Perón.[144] Paveli?'s arrival documents show the assumed name of Pablo Aranjos,[] which he continued to use. In 1950 Paveli? was given amnesty and allowed to stay in Argentina along with 34,000 other Croats, including former Nazi collaborators and those who had fled from the Allied advance.[144] Following this, Paveli? reverted to his earlier pseudonym Antonio Serdar and continued to live in Buenos Aires.[]

As for most other political immigrants in Argentina, life was hard and he had to work (as a bricklayer).[] His best contact with the Peróns was another former Usta?a Branko Benzon, who enjoyed good relations with Evita Perón, wife of the president. Benzon had briefly been the Croatian ambassador to Germany during World War II and had known Hitler personally,[143][145] which benefited Croatian-German relations. Thanks to Benzon's friendship with Evita Perón, Paveli? became the owner of an influential building company. Not long after arriving he joined the Usta?e-related "Croatian Home Guard" (Croatian: Hrvatski domobran) organization.

At the end of the 1940s, many former Usta?e split from Paveli? because they believed that Croats, now under new circumstances, needed new political direction. Many who split from Paveli? continued to call themselves Usta?e and sought the revival of the Independent State of Croatia. The most well known of these separatists was the former Usta?e officer and head of the NDH concentration and extermination camp network, Vjekoslav Luburi?, who lived in Spain.[] In Argentina, Paveli? used the "Croatian Home Guard" to gather Croatian political emigrants.[140] Paveli? tried to expand the activities of this organization, and in 1950 founded the Croatian Statehood Party, which ceased to exist that year.

On 10 April 1951, on the 10th anniversary of the Independent State of Croatia, Paveli? announced the Croatia State Government. This new government considered itself to be a government in exile. Other Usta?e emigrants continued to arrive in Argentina, and they united under Paveli?'s leadership, increasing their political activities. Paveli? himself remained politically active, publishing various statements, articles, and speeches that attacked the Yugoslav Communist regime for promoting Serbian hegemony.[146]

In 1954, Paveli? met with Milan Stojadinovi?, a former Royal Yugoslav Prime Minister, who also lived in Buenos Aires. The subject of their meeting was trying to find solution for the historic conciliation between the Serbs and Croats. The meeting stirred controversy, but had no practical significance.[147] On 8 June 1956, Paveli? and other Usta?e immigrants founded the Croatian Liberation Movement (Croatian: Hrvatski oslobodila?ki pokret or HOP), which aimed to re-establish the Nazism and NDH.[148] The HOP saw itself as "a determined adversary of communism, atheism and Yugoslavism in any possible form".[149]

Ante Paveli? in hospital in Ciudad Jardín Lomas del Palomar, Buenos Aires, recovering after the assassination attempt

On 10 April 1957, the 16th anniversary of the founding of the Nazi Independent State of Croatia, Paveli? was grievously wounded in an assassination attempt by the Serbian Blagoje Jovovi?, a hotel owner and former Royal Yugoslav officer who had been in the Montenegrin Chetniks during the war.[150][151]

Jovovi? had tried to assassinate Paveli? multiple times, planning it as early as 1946, when he learned Paveli? was in hiding inside the Vatican. Jovovi? shot Paveli? in the back and collar bone while the latter was exiting a bus in El Palomar, a Buenos Aires suburb near his home. Paveli? was transferred to the Syrian-Lebanese hospital, where his true identity was established. After Perón's fall from power, Paveli? fell out of favour with the Argentine government; Yugoslavia again requested his extradition. Paveli? refused to stay in hospital, even though a bullet was lodged in his spine. Two weeks after the shooting, as the Argentine authorities agreed to grant the Yugoslav government's extradition request, he moved to Chile. He spent four months in Santiago, and then moved to Spain.[146] Reports circulated that Paveli? had fled to Paraguay to work for the Stroessner regime; his Spanish asylum became known only in late 1959.

Death in Spain

Paveli? arrived in Madrid on 29 November 1957.[146] He continued contacts with members of the Croatian Liberation Movement and received visitors from around the world. Paveli? lived secretly with his family, probably by agreement with the Spanish authorities. Though he was granted asylum, the Spanish authorities did not allow him public appearances. In the middle of 1958, he sent a message from Madrid to the Assembly of Croatian Societies in Munich.

He expressed his wish that all Croats unite with the goal of re-establishing the Independent State of Croatia. Some groups distanced themselves from Paveli? and others did so after his death. In his will, he named Stjepan Hefer [hr] as his successor as the president of the Croatian Liberation Movement.[152] Paveli? died on 28 December 1959 at the Hospital Alemán in Madrid at the age of 70 from the wounds he sustained in the assassination attempt by Jovovi?.[153] He was buried in San Isidro Cemetery, Madrid's oldest private burial ground.

In popular culture

  • Harry Turtledove's short story Ready for the Fatherland is set in an alternate history where the Independent State of Croatia continues to exist in 1979. Paveli? is revered as the first Poglavnik and his image appears on the State's primary currency, but no further details are shared as to how his life played out in that timeline, which diverged from ours in February 1943.[]
  • In a 2015 Croatian comedy film National Hero Lily Vidi?, Paveli? is portrayed by Dra?en ?u?ek. The movie follows a group of Yugoslav partisans, led by a young poet Lily Vidi?, who compete in the NDH's fictional talent show "Factor X" whose winner wins the chance to perform at the Paveli?'s reception for Hitler. Partisans see it as an opportunity to kill both Hitler and Paveli?, and thus end the WWII.[154] In 2017, the movie was adapted into a theatrical play where Paveli? was portrayed by Boris Mirkovi?.[155]

See also



  1. ^ Tomasevich 2001, pp. 351-352.
  2. ^ a b Glenny 2001, pp. 497-500.
  3. ^ Hoare 2006, pp. 20-24.
  4. ^ "Usta?a". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ Tomasevich 1975, p. 10.
  6. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 32.
  7. ^ Glenny 2001, p. 318.
  8. ^ Hoare 2006, pp. 20-24.
  9. ^ a b ?erjavi? 1993, p. 7.
  10. ^ a b Hoare 2006, pp. 23-24.
  11. ^ a b Glenny 2001, p. 500.
  12. ^ a b Hoare 2006, pp. 20-21.
  13. ^ Glenny 2001, p. 476.
  14. ^ Glenny 2001, p. 487.
  15. ^ a b Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 306.
  16. ^ a b c Fischer 2007, p. 209.
  17. ^ a b Tanner 2001, p. 124.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 307.
  19. ^ Tanner 2001, p. 125.
  20. ^ Matkovi? 2002, p. 10.
  21. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 360.
  22. ^ Matkovi? 1962, pp. 42-43.
  23. ^ Janjatovi? 2002, pp. 121-139.
  24. ^ Cohen 1999, p. 87.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Matkovi? 2002, p. 11.
  26. ^ Tomasevich 2001, pp. 30-31.
  27. ^ Totten, Bartrop & Jacobs 2008, p. 328.
  28. ^ Jonji? 2001, p. 26.
  29. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 27.
  30. ^ a b Suppan 2014, p. 39, 592.
  31. ^ Jonji? 2001, p. 22.
  32. ^ Yeomans 2013, p. 6.
  33. ^ a b c d Ramet, Jareb & Sadkovich 2007, p. 99.
  34. ^ a b Matkovi? 2002, p. 12.
  35. ^ Ramet 2006, pp. 114-115.
  36. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 31.
  37. ^ a b Glenny 2001, pp. 431-432.
  38. ^ a b Jonji? 2001, p. 88.
  39. ^ a b Pavlowitch 2008, p. 4.
  40. ^ Glenny 2001, p. 418.
  41. ^ a b c Matkovi? 2002, p. 13.
  42. ^ Glenny 2001, p. 434.
  43. ^ Goldstein 2006, p. 225-226.
  44. ^ Goldstein 2002, p. 58.
  45. ^ Matkovi? 2002, p. 14.
  46. ^ a b Tomasevich 2001, p. 337.
  47. ^ Matkovi? 2002, p. 15.
  48. ^ a b c d Tomasevich 2001, pp. 33-34.
  49. ^ Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, Allied Forces Headquarters APO 512, 30 January 1947
  50. ^ Matkovi? 2002, p. 46.
  51. ^ Goldstein 2006, p. 229.
  52. ^ Goldstein 2002, p. 59.
  53. ^ a b Matkovi? 2002, p. 17.
  54. ^ a b c Pavlowitch 2008, p. 25.
  55. ^ Hockenos 2003, p. 25.
  56. ^ Yeomans 2015, p. 150.
  57. ^ Kallis 2008, p. 134.
  58. ^ a b Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 308.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Office created
Poglavnik of the Independent State of Croatia
10 April 1941 - 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
Office created
Prime Minister of the Independent State of Croatia
10 April 1941 - 2 September 1943
Succeeded by
Nikola Mandi?
Party political offices
Preceded by
Office created
Poglavnik of the Usta?e Movement
7 January 1929 - 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
Office abolished

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