Military Wiki

Concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia on a map of all camps in Yugoslavia in World War II.

The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia refers to the genocide of Jews and other ethnic minorities during World War II within the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist puppet state ruled by the Ustaše regime, that included most of the territory of modern-day Croatia, the whole of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the eastern part of Syrmia (now in modern-day Serbia).


On 25 March 1941, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact, allying the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with the Axis powers. Prince Paul was overthrown, and a new anti-German government under Peter II and Dušan Simović took power. The new government withdrew its support for the Axis, but did not repudiate the Tripartite Pact. Nevertheless, Axis forces, led by Nazi Germany invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941.

The Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed by the Ustaše on 10 April 1941. Within the new state lived approximately 40,000 Jews, only 9,000 of whom would ultimately survive the war.[1]

The Holocaust

A Jewish prisoner is forced to remove his ring upon arrival in the Jasenovac concentration camp.

Ustaše executing people over a mass grave near Jasenovac.

Persecution of the Jewish population

Antisemitic laws of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were proclaimed in 1939. The main race laws in the Independent State of Croatia were adopted on 30 April 1941: the Legal Decree on Racial Origins (Zakonska odredba o rasnoj pripadnosti) and the Legal Decree on the Protection of Aryan Blood and the Honour of the Croatian People (Zakonska odredba o zaštiti arijske krvi i časti hrvatskog naroda).[2] The Legal Decree on the Nationalization of the Property of Jews and Jewish Companies was declared on 10 October 1941.

The destruction of the Sephardic synagogue in Sarajevo was carried out by German soldiers soon after their arrival in the city on 15 April.[3] The Sarajevo Haggadah was the most important artifact which survived this period. The demolition of the Zagreb Synagogue was ordered by mayor Ivan Werner and was carried out from 10 October 1941 to April 1942. The two Jewish football clubs in the state, ŽGiŠK Makabi Zagreb and ŽŠK Makabi Osijek, were banned in 1941.[4]

There were no major arrests of Jews in Osijek in 1941. In April 1942, the Jews of Osijek were forced to build a Jewish settlement at Tenja, into which they were settled along with Jews from the surrounding region. Approximately 3,000 Jews were settled at Tenja in June and July 1942.[2] Due to the poor conditions in the settlement, 200 Jews were transported to Jasenovac and 2,800 to Auschwitz.[2]

On 5 May 1943, Heinrich Himmler paid a short visit to Zagreb in which he held talks with Ante Pavelić.[5] Starting on 7 May, a roundup of the remaining Jews in Zagreb was carried out by the Gestapo under the command of Franz Abromeit.[6] During this period, Archbishop Stepinac offered the head rabbi in Zagreb Miroslav Šalom Freiberger help to escape the roundup, which he ultimately declined.[7] The operation lasted for the following week, and resulted in the capture of 1,700 Jews from Zagreb and 300 from the surrounding area. All of these people were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp.[8]

After the capitulation of Italy on 8 September 1943, Nazi Germany annexed the Croat-populated Italian provinces of Pula and Rijeka into its Operational Zone Adriatic Coast. On 25 January 1944, the Germans demolished the Jewish synagogue in Rijeka.[8] The region of Međimurje had been annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1941. In April 1944, the Jews of Međimurje were taken to a camp in Nagykanizsa where they were held until their transport to Auschwitz. An estimated 540 Međimurje Jews were killed in Auschwitz, while 29 were killed at Jasenovac.[9]

Other ethnicities

Order for Serbs and Jews to move out of their homes in Zagreb, Croatia and a warning of forcible expulsion and punishment of those that failed to comply.



Abolition of racial laws

On 5 May 1945, the Legal Decree on the Equalization of Members of the NDH Based on Racial Origin (Zakonska odredba o izjednačavanju pripadnika NDH s obzirom na rasnu pripadnost) was declared which repealed the racial laws enacted over the course of the war.

Number of victims

Slavko Goldstein estimates that approximately 30,000 Jews were killed from the Independent State of Croatia, with approximately 12,790 of those killed in Croatia. Vladimir Žerjavić's demographics research produced an estimate of 25,800 to 26,700 victims.

By site

The Jasenovac Memorial Site maintains a list of 12,765 Jews killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp.[10]

Concentration camps

Notable people


  • Lea Deutsch
  • Kalmi Baruh


  • Amiel Shomrony
  • Branko Lustig
  • Esther Gitman
  • Isak Samokovlija


  • Diana Budisavljević

Righteous among the Nations

Over one hundred Croatians have been recognized as Righteous among the Nations. They include Žarko Dolinar and Mate Ujević.

See also

  • Catholic clergy involvement with the Ustaše


  1. Goldstein, Ivo. Croatia: A History, C. Hurst & Co. Ltd., London, 1999. (p. 136)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Živaković-Kerže, Zlata. Od židovskog naselja u Tenji do sabirnog logora
  3. Never-ending story of the Sarajevo Haggadah
  4. Nogometni leksikon, Miroslav Krleža Lexicographical Institute, Zagreb, 2004. (p. 307)
  5. Goldstein, Ivo. Holokaust u Zagrebu, Novi liber, Zagreb, 2001. (p. 475)
  6. Goldstein, Ivo. Holokaust u Zagrebu, Novi liber, Zagreb, 2001. (p. 470)
  7. Goldstein, Ivo. Holokaust u Zagrebu, Novi liber, Zagreb, 2001. (p. 472)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Krizman, Narcisa Lengel. Antisemitizam Holokaust Antifašizam, Studia Iudaico-Croatica, Zagreb, 1996. (p. 256)
  9. Sudbina međimurskih Židova
  10. List of Victims of Jasenovac, 1941-1945

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).