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Andrija Artuković
Andrija Artuković (3rd from right) taking the oath during the NDH government inauguration in April 1941.
1st Minister of Interior of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
16 April 1941 – 10 October 1942
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Ante Nikšić
Minister of Justice of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
10 October 1942 – 29 April 1943
3rd Minister of Interior of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
29 April 1943 – 1 November 1943
Leader Ante Pavelić
Preceded by Ante Nikšić
Succeeded by Mladen Lorković
State Secretary

In office
11 November 1943 – 8 May 1945
Preceded by Mirko Puk
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born (1899-11-29)November 29, 1899
Ljubuški, Austria-Hungary
Died 16 January 1988(1988-01-16) (aged 88)
Zagreb, SFR Yugoslavia
Political party Ustaše
Spouse(s) Ana Maria Heidler
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Andrija Artuković (29 November 1899 – 16 January 1988) was a Croatian politician and lawyer, Ustaše intellectual and minister in the Government of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Artuković was convicted of war crimes committed against minorities in the NDH during World War II.

Pre-war life

Andrija Artuković was born in Klobuk, near Ljubuški (in Herzegovina), son of Marijan and Ruža (née Rašić) Artuković.[1] He studied at a Franciscan monastery school in Široki Brijeg, later obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Zagreb. From 1924 he worked as a court clerk in Zagreb, and in 1926 he opened an independent office in Gospić.[2]

In 1929 he became a member of the Ustaše, an ultranationalist Croatian revolutionary group. He went from Rijeka to Italy where Ante Pavelić named him his adjutant and commander of all Ustaše in Italy. He led a small uprising in Lika called the Velebit uprising, after which he returned to Italy. His Ustaše codename was Hadžija, and has been described as an "Ustaše intellectual".[3] Artuković was in conflict with a small group of M. Babić (codenamed "Giovanni") supporters, and at the end of 1933 he left Italy. After that he lived in Budapest then Vienna for a short time where he was arrested in 1934 and held in prison for a time. He was expelled from Vienna, after which he returned to Budapest. At the beginning of September 1934 he met Pavelić in Milano, and in the middle of September 1934 he went to London. He was arrested there in October 1934 after the assassination of Yugoslav King Alexander I in Marseilles. After his arrest he was transferred to France, where he spent three months in prison in Paris. In January 1935 he was extradited to Yugoslavia and after 16 months spent in prison in Belgrade he was acquitted and released on 16 April 1936. He lived in Gospić for a while, but in May 1936 he left the country again and went to Austria and later to Germany, where he was involved in spreading Ustaše propaganda.[4] In early 1937 he was under Gestapo investigation in Berlin. Under threat of arrest he left Berlin and visited France, after which he moved to Budapest and then returned to Berlin.[5]

Ministerial career

Andrija Artuković delivering a speech in the Sabor in 1942

After the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia on 10 April 1941, Artuković returned to Zagreb and two days later was named member of the Croatian State Leadership, a temporary Croatian government formed by Slavko Kvaternik. After Pavelić arrived in Croatia, Artuković became the Minister of Interior in the first Croatian government from 16 April 1941. He was a member of Pavelić's inner circle and was an obedient executor of his orders.[6]

Artuković participated in the Croatian-Italian boundary negotiations in Ljubljana that took place on 23 April 1941. The agreement was known as Ciano-Pavelić agreement. He was also present at the signing of the Treaty of Rome on 18 May, and accompanied Pavelić during his visit to Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941. He advocated a policy of terror and announced that Croatia would solve the "Jewish question" just as the German government had. He signed the racial laws proclaimed on 30 April and 4 June 1941.[6]

After the government reshuffle on 10 October 1941, he became Minister of Justice and Religion, then from 29 April 1943 until 1 October 1943 he was again the Minister of Interior. He was Secretary of State from 11 October 1943 until the end of the Independent State of Croatia on 8 May 1945.[6]

Emigration and trials

With other members of Government, he left Zagreb on 6 May 1945 and went to Austria. He was detained in Allied camp in Spittal an der Drau. On 18 May 1945, British extradited some Croatian ministers and Prime Minister Nikola Mandić to the communist authorities in Yugoslavia. Artuković wasn't extradited, but he was released soon with remaining ministers. He left British occupational zone, then he went to the American and later French occupational zone, where his family was. With Swiss passport, under name Alois Anich he went to Ireland. In 1948, with his wife and children he travels to California using tourist visa which he later expanded with his real name and settled in Seal Beach. He worked in his brother's company.[6] After his arrival to the States, Artuković refused to become Croatian political emigree.[7]

In July 1945, the Yugoslav State Commission for Investigation of Crimes of Occupiers and Their Allies proclaimed Artuković a war criminal. The Government of the FPR Yugoslavia made a request for his extradition on 29 August 1951. Their request made a 7 year long court process in Los Angeles. On 15 January 1959, the verdict of the Supreme Court in Los Angeles rejected the Yugoslav request. Since the American Immigration Service raised the question of the legal basis of the stay of larger number of immigrants, associates of the German government during the World War II in USA, Yugoslav authorities, under initiative of the Special Investigation Court of the American Ministry of Justice, renewed the request for Artuković's extradition. Artuković was arrested on 14 November 1984, and a court process began in New York.[6] During his 1980s trial, the Justice Department attorneys referred to Artuković as the "Butcher of the Balkans".[8] Following the process, Artuković was extradited to Yugoslavia on 11 November 1986.[6] During trial in Zagreb between April and May 1986, he was sentenced to death by shooting,[7] but the verdict was not executed because of his personal health.[6]


Artuković died of natural causes in prison hospital in Zagreb on 16 January 1988.[6] His son, Radoslav, requested information about his father's burial from Croatian authorities. The then-Socialist Republic of Croatia enacted a special law due to the case of Artković, to wit, that those convicted and sentenced to death but who escaped execution, must be interred as executed persons. There is possibility that Andrija Artuković was cremated,[7] but the place of burial remains unknown. There are two versions that indicate what happened to his remains. The first states that State Security Administration members threw his ashes on relation Zagreb-Rijeka, and the other states his urn was buried at the prison cemetery at Lepoglava.[9] In 2010, the president of the Croatian Helsinki Committee, Ivan Zvonimir Čičak, called for authorities to investigate what happened to the remains.[7]


  • Dizdar, Zdenko; Grčić, Marko; Ravlić, Slaven; Stuparić, Darko (1997). Tko je tko u NDH. Minerva.  (Croatian)
  • Popović, Jovo (1986). Suđenje Andriji Artukoviću i što nije rečeno. Stvarnost. ISBN 86—7075-066-X.  (Croatian)
  • Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3615-4. 

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