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Dr. Džafer Kulenović
2nd Vice President of the Government of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
7 November 1941 – 8 May 1945
Prime Minister Nikola Mandić (since 1943)
Leader Ante Pavelić
Preceded by Osman Kulenović
Succeeded by Office abolished
Minister of Forestry and Mining

In office
26 August 1939 – 6 April 1941
Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković (until 1941)
Dušan Simović
Preceded by Ljubomir Pantić
Succeeded by Office abolished
Minister Without Portfolio

In office
5 February 1939 – 26 August 1939
Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković
3rd President of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization

In office
29 June 1939 – 10 April 1941
Preceded by Mehmed Spaho
Succeeded by Office abolished
Member of Senate

In office
6 January 1929 – 5 February 1939
Prime Minister
Member of the National Assembly

In office
December 1920 – 6 January 1929
Prime Minister
Personal details
Born (1891-02-17)February 17, 1891
Rajinovci, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary
Died 3 October 1956(1956-10-03) (aged 65)
Damascus, Syria
Nationality Croat
Political party Croatian Liberation Movement
Relations Osman Kulenović (brother)
Nahid Kulenović (son)
Alma mater University of Vienna
Profession Lawyer
Religion Sunni Islam

Dr. Džafer Kulenović, often referred to as Džafer-beg Kulenović (17 February 1891 - 3 October 1956) was a Croatian politician who served as the Vice President of the Government of the Independent State of Croatia and leader of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Early life

Dr. Kulenović was born in Rajinovci near Kulen Vakuf. He attended a gymnasium in Sarajevo and Tuzla, and he was expelled from school just two months before graduation due to a clash with Serbian nationalist students; because of that he transferred to school in Mostar and graduated there in 1909. In the same year, he entered the University of Vienna, but because of health issues he went to Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb from which he graduated. Even in Vienna, Kulenović was active amongst the Viennese Party of Rights' youth organization called the "Svijest" (The Awareness) and was elected its president.[1]

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

In 1919, after the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was established, Kulenović joined the Yugoslav Muslim Organization, a political party of Bosnian Muslims. For every election held in Yugoslavia, he was elected to the National Assembly as a representative of the Brčko municipality. When the Vidovdan Constitution was voted on, his party ordered its members in the National Assembly to support the new constitution; however, Kulenović boycoted the voting as he was against the Constitution and thus didn't violate his party's orders. In 1921, he protested to the Assembly the massacre of 200 Muslims carried out by Chetniks in the Sandžak region. When his party divided into the Centralist (pro-Serb) and the pro-Autonomy list, Kulenović supporetd the pro-Autonomy. In the 1923 election, the Autonomists defeated the pro-Serbian faction of the YMO. Kulenović was also among those who made the Sarajevan Punctations, in which the YMO condemned the Serbian nationalist policy over Bosnia and Herzegovina and demanded Bosnian autonomy.[1] After Mehmed Spaho, the President of the YMO, died, Kulenović was elected as the organization's new president on June 29, 1939.[2] Uzeir Hadžihasanović who was influential amongst the Muslims, helped him win this post.[3] At this time, the YMO was in a coalition called the Yugoslav Radical Union (YRU); the coalition was led by Milan Stojadinović. The YMO's membership in the YRU threatened YMO's existence, and Kulenović tried to save the party. His actions led to the division in the YRU.[2]

During the crisis of the YRU, Kulenović stated to the press: Gentlemen, I am a Croat and a Croatian nationalist... And not only that I am a Croat and a Croatian nationalist, but the Bosnian Muslims are, as a whole, Croats and part of the Croatian nation.

— Džafer Kulenović[2]

During the Prime Ministership of Dragiša Cvetković and Dušan Simović, Kulenović was a minister without porfolio and Minister of Forestry and Mining. In 1939 Kulenović opposed the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina when the Banovina of Croatia was created, and he also opposed the idea of Serbian nationalist ministers and politicians that the parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were not included in the Croatian Banovina, should be included in the so-called "Serbian lands". During the German Invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Kulenović didn't leave the country as most ministers did; he secretly left Belgrade and went to Užice, from where he went to Sarajevo and later to Brčko, where his family lived.[2]

Independent State of Croatia

He became the vice-president of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) on November 7, 1941 and held the position until the war's end. He had actually succeeded his older brother Osman Kulenović in this position. At the end of the war he fled to Austria. He was apprehended by British forces and sent to their detention centre at Spittal an der Drau on May 17. He arrived one day after a group of NDH government officials had been sent back to Yugoslavia, which likely spared him from being extradited himself.


Kulenović later immigrated to Syria. He lived there until his death on October 3, 1956 in Damascus. While in Syria, the Croats in Argentina published a collection of his journalistic writings. In 1950, the Croat Muslim Community in Chicago published a speech he wrote for the Muslim Congress following World War II in Lahore, Pakistan. This twenty-two page pamphlet entitled "A Message of Croat Muslims to Their Religious Brethren in the World" detailed Serb aggression against Croats of Islamic faith and promoted the idea of Croat unity.

Only a few months before his death, the Croatian Liberation Movement was formed, with Dr. Kulenović being one of the founders and signatories.


His son Nahid Kulenović continued working with this Movement, but was assassinated by the Yugoslavia secret police, UDBA, in Munich.[4]


  • A Message from Croat Moslems to their Religious Brethren in the World, 1951., (reprint, Createspace, 2011.)
  • Džafer Kulenović, Sabrana djela, 1945.-1956., Buenos Aires, 1978. (editors: Jere Jareb, Stjepan Barbarić, Miron Krešimir Begić, Ragib Zukić)
  • Izbor iz djela: članci i rasprave, Uzdanica, Zagreb, 1992.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 216.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 217.
  3. Redžić & Donia 2005, p. 166.
  4. “Exiles Speak of Yugoslav Death List.” The Times of London. July 2, 1969.
  5. Open Library: Izbor iz djela. By Džafer Kulenović.
  • Dizdar, Zdravko; Grčić, Marko; Ravlić, Slaven; Stuparić, Darko (1997) (in Croatian). Tko je tko u NDH. Minerva. ISBN 953-6377-03-9. 
  • Redžić, Enver; Donia, Robert (2005). Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 2nd World War. Routledge. ISBN 9780714656250. 

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