Roots of independent Croatia
75 years ago today, 10th of April, the Independent State of Croatia was formed as the state of the Croatian people under the patronage of Hitler's Germany.
The state was proclaimed only 4 days after the Axis powers invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, on the same day that German troops entered Zagreb. German soldiers were greeted as "liberators" with unprecedented awe and excitement from the Croatian crowd.
Hitler recognized its statehood 2 days after it was proclaimed, on 12th of April 1941, making it a member of his New European order.
From an official standpoint, the Independent State of Croatia was constituted like the monarchy of King “Tomislav II", who played the role of a lesser Italian nobleman, acting as a king who never visited his own kingdom. In reality, the Independent State of Croatia was a fascist dictatorship ruled by Poglavnik (the Croatian equivalent of the Italian Duce or German Fuhrer) Ante Pavelic, the leader of the Croatian Ustashe movement.
During the four years of its existence, this state became notorious as one of the most brutal and monstrous creations in the history of mankind. In those brief four years, the Independent State of Croatia and its apparatus committed genocide the likes of which had never been seen before, killing between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Serbs on the territories it occupied.
This number includes hundreds of thousands of murdered children and under-aged boys and girls, most of whom were killed in the first and only system of child extermination camps ever seen, as well as entire families, households, and villages wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the Orthodox Serbian priests were also killed in the genocide.
The independent state of Croatia developed a system of concentration and extermination camps, which, with its sheer scale and efficiency, rivalled that of Germany.
Among camps such as Jadovno, Stara (old) and Nova (new) Gradiska, the Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest and most notorious and is regarded as the place where the worst Serbian suffering in history occurred. Besides over 80,000 documented names, there were hundreds of thousands of undocumented Serbians, Jews, and Roma.
Even though some of the historians, jurists, and social commentators denote the Independent State of Croatia as being a Quisling creation, this epithet is neither precise nor quite accurate. The state was formed with both the military and political support of national-socialist Germany and fascist Italy, but throughout its existence it had the overwhelming support and contribution of the great majority of Croats.
After the Second World War, with the help of the Titoist ideology of leveling the blame for the war crimes and making the relations of the victim vs. the felon relative, as well as continuing the policy of restriction and confinement of the Serbian people that was in its own way carried by the Independent State of Croatia, Croatian people and the state were left unpunished, both politically and legally, and gained their own socialist republic that included territories in which the Serbs were a majority, even after the genocide that they had suffered.
The Croatian national dream of removing Serbs from the territories the Croats consider as their own was made a reality at the end of the 20th century during the Yugoslav wars. In these conflicts, Croats were able to carry out the last part of the old Ustasha agenda by expelling the final third of the Serbs (after killing and converting the other two thirds) from their historic territories of Slavonia, Dalmatia, and Krajina.