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Mile Budak
Mile Budak
3rd Foreign Minister of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
23 April 1943 – 5 November 1943
Leader Ante Pavelić
Preceded by Mladen Lorković
Succeeded by Stijepo Perić
Ambassador to Nazi Germany

In office
2 November 1941 – 23 April 1943
1st Minister of Education of the Independent State of Croatia

In office
16 April 1941 – 2 November 1941
Leader Ante Pavelić
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Stjepan Ratković
President of the Croatian State Leadership

In office
12 April 1941 – 16 April 1941
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born (1889-08-30)30 August 1889
Sveti Rok, Austria-Hungary
Died 7 June 1945(1945-06-07) (aged 55)
Zagreb, FPR Yugoslavia
Political party Ustaše
Occupation Politician, writer
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Mile Budak (30 August 1889 - 7 June 1945) was a Croatian politician and writer best known as one of the chief ideologists of the Croatian Ustaša movement, which ruled the Independent State of Croatia from 1941–45 and waged a genocidal campaign of extermination against its Roma and Jewish population, and of extermination, expulsion and religious conversion against its Serb population.

Youth and early political activities

Mile Budak was born in Sveti Rok, in Lika, which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[1] He attended school in Sarajevo and studied law at the University of Zagreb.[2] In 1912, he was arrested by Austro-Hungarian authorities over his alleged role in the attempted assassination of Croatian ban (vice-roy) Slavko Cuvaj. In 1914, after the start of World War I, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army where he received the rank of non-commissioned officer. In 1915, he was captured by the Serbian Army and witnessed the Serbian retreat through Albania in 1915-16.

At the end of the war, Budak returned to Zagreb. In 1920, he received a law degree at the University of Zagreb and became a clerk in the office of Ante Pavelić. He became active in Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) and was elected a seat in the Zagreb City Assembly. In the 1920s, he was the editor of the political magazines that were close to the HSP.

Ustaše period

Budak after the assassination attempt, 1932

Budak and Vladko Maček served as lawyers representing Marko Hranilović and Matija Soldin in a highly publicized trial amidst the January 6th Dictatorship. On 7 June 1932, he survived an assassination attempt from men close to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Afterwards, he emigrated to Italy, in order to join the Ustaše and to become the commander of an Ustaše training camp.[1] In 1938, he returned to Zagreb where he began publishing the weekly newspaper Hrvatski narod. In 1940, the authorities banned the newspaper and Budak was arrested.[3] On 31 March 1941 - in a joint letter to Hitler, Pavelić and Budak asked him "to help Croatian people establish an independent Croatian state that would encompass the old Croatian regions, among them Bosnia and Herzegovina."[4]

When the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed, Budak became the state's chief propagandist[5] and Minister of Education and Faith.[6] As such, he publicly stated that forcible expulsion and religious conversion of the ethnic Serb minority was the official national policy. Croatian novelist Miroslav Krleža described Budak as "a minister of culture with a machine gun".[1] In a speech in Gospić on 22 July 1941, he declared: "The movement of the Ustashi is based on faith. For the minorities we have three million bullets. We shall kill one part of the Serbs, expel the second part, and convert to Catholicism the third part of them"[7][8] This exposition of Ustaše policy is attributed to Budak.[9]

He later became Croatian envoy to Nazi Germany (November 1941 - April 1943) and foreign minister (May 1943–November 1943).[10][11] When the Independent State of Croatia collapsed, Budak was captured by English military authorities and handed over to Tito's Partisans on 18 May 1945. He was court-martialled (before the military court of the 2nd Yugoslav army) in Zagreb on 6 June 1945 and was sentenced to death by hanging the same day and executed the next (which was coincidentally exactly 13 years after the assassination attempt on his life.)[12][13] During the trial, Budak claimed that he was not guilty of anything.[14]

Literary work

Budak was also known for his literary work, especially novels and plays in which he had glorified Croatian peasantry. The best known of his work are: "Ognjište" (The Hearth),[15] "Opanci dida Vidurine" (Granpa Vidurina's Shoes),[16] "Rascvjetana trešnja" (The Blossoming Cherry Tree). About his writing, E. E. Noth wrote: Here we find the stubborn, spiritual-realistic conception of man and his relation to the soil on which he lives and which Mile Budak symbolizes as "the hearth".[17]

After the war his books were banned by Yugoslav Communist authorities. Because of that, many Croatian nationalists viewed Mile Budak as great figure of Croatian literature, equal, if not superior to left-wing Miroslav Krleža.[18] Following Croatian independence in early 1990s, in Croatia, where the ruling Croatian Democratic Union badly wanted to reinterpret the fascist Ustasha quislings of World War II as a Croatian patriotic force. Hence, the reissue in early 1993 of the collected works of Mile Budak,the second-in-command in the Ustasha regime. Commenting, at the time of this reissue, Croatian writer Giancarlo Kravar wrote: "... Ustashism, in its history, was undoubtly also a positive political movement for the state-building affirmation of Croatianism, the expression of the centuries-long aspiration of the Croatian people"[19]


As of August 2004, there were seventeen cities in Croatia which had streets named after Budak.[20] As of August 2012, at least one street in Bosnia and Herzegovina is named after Mile Budak (in Mostar). The Archbishopship of Zagreb declared at one point that it had no objection to the erection of a monument dedicated to the dead Ustaša leader.[21] Croatian Radiotelevision aired a dramatization of Budak's autobiographical account of the 1915-16 Serb retreat through Albania. The official line was that Budak should be viewed as an important literary figure, despite the controversial role that he played during World War II. This caused reaction from the left-wing, liberal part of the Croatian public, most notably Feral Tribune, which launched a year-long campaign to have Budak-named streets renamed.

In 2003, Ivo Sanader's government decided to finally deal with the issue which resulted in renaming all the streets bearing Budak's name save one; the Mile Budak street in Slavonski Brod.[22]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  2. Contemporary Croatian literature by Ante Kadić, published by Mouton, 1960 (page 50)
  3. Review of International Affairs: Politics, Economics, Law, Science, Culture by Federation of Yugoslavic Journalists, Savez novinara Jugoslavije, Socijalistički savez radnog naroda Jugoslavije, published by The Federation, 1953 (page 25)
    On 4 March 1940, Stepinac intervened with Šubašić, at the request of Prof. Lukas and Starčević, in favour of arrested Budak, who was sentenced to death by hanging after the war, as a war criminal (Book II, page 440)
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War by Enver Redžić, published by Routledge, 2005 ISBN 0-7146-5625-9, ISBN 978-0-7146-5625-0, page 68
  5. Yugoslavia as History: Twice There was a Country by John R. Lampe, published by Cambridge University Press, 2000 ISBN 0-521-77401-2, ISBN 978-0-521-77401-7 (page 208)
  6. This is Artukovic by Devon Gaffney, B. A. Starcevic, published by s.n., 1958 (page 51)
  7. Ustaše: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929-1945 by Srdja Trifkovic, London 1998 (page 141)
  8. Magnum Crimen by Viktor Novak, Zagreb 1948 (page 605)
  9. Triple Myth by Stella Alexander, Columbia University Press 1987
  10. The war we lost: Yugoslavia's Tragedy and the Failure of the West by Constantin Fotitch, published by Viking Press, 1948 (page 122)
  11. War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration by Jozo Tomasevich, published by Stanford University Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8047-3615-4, ISBN 978-0-8047-3615-2 (page 317)
  12. Politička i ekonomska osnova narodne vlasti u Jugoslaviji za vreme obnove by Branko Petranović, published by Institut za savremenu istoriju, Beograd 1969 (page 201)
  13. Petition on Mile Budak, once again
  14. Hrvatska 1945 by Bogdan Radica, published by Knjižnica Hrvatske revije, 1974 (page 185)
    Svojim ravnodušnim, da ne kažem ciničkim glasom, kaže mi da se na procesu najsramotnije i najkukavičkije držao Mile Budak. Neprestano je plakao govoreći da on nije ni za što kriv.
  15. Herdfeuer. Roman. [Berecht. Uebersetzung aus d. Kroatischen von Franz Hille.] by Mile Budak, published by K. H. Bischoff Verl., 1943
  16. Opanci dida Vidurine by Mile Budak, Sandra Belčić, published by Zagrebačka stvarnost, 2001 ISBN 953-192-071-0, ISBN 978-953-192-071-1
  17. Books Abroad: A Quarterly Publication Devoted to Comments on Foreign Books by Roy Temple House, Ernst Erich Noth, published by University of Oklahoma, 1940 (page 329)
  18. ibidem: Contemporary Croatian literature by Ante Kadić
  19. Social Currents in Eastern Europe: The Sources and Consequences of the Great Transformation by Sabrina P. Ramet, Edition: 2, published by Duke University Press, 1995 ISBN 0-8223-1548-3, ISBN 978-0-8223-1548-3 (page 418)
  20. To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia by Michael Parenti, published by Verso, 2002 ISBN 1-85984-366-2, ISBN 978-1-85984-366-6 (page 45)
  21. Democratic Transition in Croatia: Value Transformation, Education & Media By Sabrina P. Ramet, Davorka Matić, published by Texas A&M University Press, 2007 (page 17)
  22. Meter: Pa Budakov je vozač bio Židov! Novi List September 19, 2004 Rijeka [1]

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