THE BIRTH OF A MONSTER: THE INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC STATE OF CROATIAThe Yugoslavs were stunned. But not for long. Two days later, on March 27, 1941, an anti-Nazi coup d'etat, carried out by General Mirkovic, unsaddled the pro-Nazi Yugoslav Government. While the rest of Yugoslavia celebrated the event in Zagreb, circulars, full of threats, were found on the doors of Serbs. Pavelic, who only a few days before had been relegated to the background, suddenly found himself the centre of feverish activities. Orders were conveyed to all the Ustashi, inside and outside Yugoslavia, to be ready for action. Ustashi leaders from Germany and Italy moved at speed towards the Yugoslav frontier. The German Army moved with them. On April 6, 1941, Hitler attacked the Yugoslav Kingdom.
Many of Pavelic's followers joined the Nazi invaders; others directed their arms against Yugoslavia; still others turned plain traitors—e.g. Colonel Kren, an active fanatic, a secret member of Pavelic's army, an Ustashi who flew from Belgrade airdrome to give the Nazi Air Force the secret location of all Yugoslav aircraft, with the result that the Yugoslav war planes were destroyed on the ground by Nazi bombers, which Kren directed. Thanks to Ustashi Kren's action, the whole of the Yugoslav Air Force was thus annihilated in one single blow.
While Belgrade was still burning after the Nazi air raids, Ante Pavelic addressed the Croats by radio: "Croat soldiers," were his words, "use all your weapons against all the Serbian soldiers and officers. We are already fighting shoulder to shoulder with our new Allies, the Germans and the Italians."
On April 7 the Yugoslav Government left Belgrade for Montenegro. Two days later, on April 9, Vladko Macek, its Vice-President, in his turn deserted it. Macek was a Croat, a Catholic, and the leader of the Catholic Croat Peasant Party. Yet this individual, while acting as the leader of that Party, and, indeed, as Vice-President of the Yugoslav Government, was simultaneously plotting with Fascist Italy for the disintegration of his country. As early as 1939 Macek had, in fact, established contact with Mussolini, who had agreed to pay him 20 million diners to finance his bold Separatist plot—that is, to destroy Yugoslavia in order to set up a Catholic Fascist State of Croatia, as was subsequently disclosed by none other than the Fascist Foreign Minister, Count Ciano.
The Minister of Commerce, another Catholic, followed Macek's example, soon imitated by a third Minister, who treacherously and for a long time had been a secret member, not only of the Ustashi, but also of Nazi Intelligence. He was, in fact, a liaison with the main Nazi Intelligence Agent in Yugoslavia, D. Tomljenovitch, former Austrian officer and a Catholic, to whom he passed details of all the secret deliberations on defense which took place in the Yugoslav Cabinet, of which he was a member.
Following all this, while Slavko Kvaternik, having arrived in Zagreb from Italy, announced the formation of the Independent State of Croatia, Macek incited his followers to recognize the New State: "I invite all the members of the Peasant Party of Croatia to recognize the change, to help the New Croatia, and, above all, loyally to obey all its laws." Within a few days all the secret members of Pavelic's Catholic terrorist organization within the civil administration and the Yugoslav Army came to the fore, working havoc wherever they appeared; and this to such an extent that they quickly succeeded in paralyzing the prosecution of the war against Hitler.
Standing in sinister prominence among them all, the Ustashi initiated vigorous fighting in the rear of the Yugoslav units; while others within the Yugoslav Army carried out fifth-column activities to such an extent that nothing could be done according to plan. Ustashi officers like Colonel Kren fled to the Germans, to whom they disclosed vital military information. Units of Macek's "Peasant Guard" immediately became Ustashi units and disarmed units of the Yugoslav Army. The widespread disorganization created by Catholic extremists was such that it turned out to be one of the paramount factors enabling the swift Nazi conquest of Yugoslavia.
This was confirmed by Lorkovitch, Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Independent State of Croatia, in full Parliament (February, 1942):
It was thanks to the support of the Croat people and of the Croat revolution, which have shortened the duration of the war in Yugoslavia, greatly reduced the losses of the Germans and Italians, and permitted, at the Eastern frontier of Serbia, the death-blow to be given to Yugoslavia.The promotion of such a large treacherous body within the country would have been impossible without the active cooperation of the Catholic Church. Pavelic's terrorist bands, the Ustashi, had been morally and financially encouraged and supported by her. Indeed, their backbone had been formed by priests, monks, and even bishops. Monasteries had been used as the clandestine headquarters of the Ustashi long before the Nazi attack. Secret separatist and military activities had been disguised for years under the cloak of religion. The Catholic priesthood in Croatia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia had repeatedly convoked so-called Eucharistic Congresses which in reality were for extremist political purposes (e.g. those held in Pozega as late as 1940, under the fictitious name of Mary's Congregation). The sundry semi-military, illegal terrorist movements were likewise screened by the mantle of religion. Most of them were affiliated with Catholic organizations under the direct supervision of Catholic Action, which was strictly controlled by the Catholic Hierarchy—e.g. the Brotherhood of the Crusaders, with about 540 societies and 30,000 members; the Sisterhood of the Crusaders, with 452 societies and 19,000 members; the Catholic Student Associations, Domagoj, and such like.
Most of the members of such religious organizations were active in sabotage, acts of terrorism, and a good number of them even participated in the treacherous disarming of the Yugoslav Army following Hitler's attack. As soon as they came into the open, many of them appeared transformed into Ustashi authorities, functionaries in Ustashi commissions, heads of district councils, or even of concentration camps. The President of the Great Crusaders' Brotherhood, Dr. Feliks Niedzelski, was nominated Ustashi Vice-Governor of Bosnia and administrative head for the Ustashi youth, while Father Grga Peinovic, also a director of Catholic Crusaders, was appointed President of the Ustashi Central Propaganda Office. Many of the priests of the Crusaders' Brotherhood and of Catholic Action took or
Stepinac was a steady, zealous and efficient partner of Pavelic's Dictatorship. He supported the Ustashi Government from the beginning until the end. Indeed, even after Ustashi Croatia collapsed following the disintegration of Nazi Germany.
Stepinac was not only the Head of the Council of Croatian Bishops and of the Committee which carried out a policy of forcible conversions, he was none other than the Supreme Military Apostolic Vicar of the Ustashi Army.
When Ustashi Croatia fell in 1945 as a result of the defeat of Nazi Germany and Pavelic had to run for his life, Archbishop Stepinac, in a vain effort to save the Regime, succeeded him as Head of Ustashi Croatia.
Stepinac ordered special ceremonies in all the Catholic churches on Pavelic's birthday, and he frequently invoked the blessing of God upon the Ustashi.
On the same day as the German Army had entered the capital of Croatia, one of the chief Ustashi leaders, Kvaternik, proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia (April 10, 1941), and, while fighting between the Germans and the Yugoslav Army was still going on in the Bosnian mountains, Archbishop Stepinac called on the leader of the Ustashi and urged all Croats to support the New Catholic State. On that very day the newspapers of Zagreb carried announcements to the effect that all Serbian Orthodox residents of the new Catholic capital must vacate the city within twelve hours, and that anyone found harbouring an Orthodox would immediately be executed. On April 13 Ante Pavelic reached Zagreb from Italy. On the 14th Archbishop Stepinac went personally to meet him and to congratulate him on the fulfillment of his life-work. What was Pavelic's life-work? The creation of perhaps the most ruthless Fascist tyranny ever to dishonour Europe.
The establishment of Pavelic's dictatorship was rapid, efficient, and ruthless. Immediately on his return he reorganized the Ustashi throughout the New State by setting up local branches, known by the names of Stozer, Logor, Tabor, and Zbir, through which he initiated a veritable reign of terror. The objective of his systematic crimes of murder, torture, pillage, and wholesale massacre was nothing less than the total extermination of all non-Catholic, anti-Fascist elements in the New State.
Simultaneously with the reorganization of the Ustashi, Pavelic set up a political body modeled on the Nazi Gestapo and on the Fascist OVRA, called Ustashka Nadzorna Sluzba (Ustashi Supervisory Service), which exercised absolute control over the whole population. This Ustashi Gestapo was composed of thirteen different types of police: Ustashi Police; Intelligence Service; Defense Police; Security
At the opening of the Ustashi Parliament, Archbishop Stepinac, after offering special prayers to God in a ceremony in the Cathedral, ordered the singing of a solemn Te Deum, as thanks to the Almighty for the establishment of the Ustashi Dictatorship.
On April 13, 1941, Pavelic reached Zagreb. On the 14th, Archbishop Stepinac blessed him.
At Easter, 1941, Stepinac solemnly announced from Zagreb Cathedral the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia.
On April 28, 1941, he issued a Pastoral Letter, ordering the Croatian clergy to support the new Ustashi State.
On June 28, 1941, Stepinac, with other Bishops, visited Pavelic. After promising total cooperation with him, Stepinac prayed for him. "We implore the Lord of the Stars to give his divine blessings to you, the leader of our people," were Stepinac's words.
In the photograph, Stepinac accompanies Pavelic to the Cathedral steps after having prayed for him and for the Ustashi.
In addition to passing special legislation against anyone who refused to accept the New Croatia, to permit police organizations to arrest, deport, and execute at will, special tribunals to condemn to death on the flimsiest of pretexts, and, indeed, to mobilize the whole machinery of the State for legalized terror, Pavelic terrorized by means of a Statutory Order "For the direction of the Undesirable and Dangerous Persons to Compulsory Detention in Concentration Camps," dated September 25, 1941. In virtue of this, the Ustashi Supervisory Police could at will send "any undesirable persons dangerous to public order...to compulsory detention in concentration camps" (pares. I and 3). No appeal was allowed against any such decisions.
Within the briefest of periods, Pavelic and his Ustashi had become the arbiters of the freedom, the life, and the death of all men, women, and children in the New State of Croatia, which in a matter of weeks was thus converted into the most ruthless Fascist State in the world, including Nazi Germany. Yet what was the attitude of the Catholic Church when faced by such an abominable transformation? The Catholic Church, represented by the Hierarchy and the Catholic Press, following Stepinac's example, promptly initiated a feverish campaign of praise for Pavelic and Hitler. A leader of the Crusaders wrote:
God, who directs the destiny of nations and controls the hearts of Kings, has given us Ante Pavelic and moved the leader of a friendly and allied people, Adolf Hitler, to use his victorious troops to disperse our oppressors and enable us to create an Independent State of Croatia. Glory be to God, our gratitude to Adolph Hitler, and infinite loyalty to chief Ante Pavelic."A few days later, on April 28, 1941, Stepinac issued a pastoral letter, asking the whole Croatian clergy to support and defend the New Catholic State of Croatia.
At Easter, 1941, Stepinac announced from the Cathedral of Zagreb the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, thus giving the solemn sanction of Church and Vatican to Pavelic's work. On June 28, 1941, Stepinac, with other bishops, went to see Pavelic. After promising the wholehearted cooperation of the entire Hierarchy, the Archbishop solemnly blessed Pavelic, as the leader of the Croatian people: "While we greet you cordially as head of the Independent State of Croatia, we implore the Lord of the Stars to give his divine blessings to you, the leader of our people." Pavelic, it should be remembered, was the same man who had been sentenced to death for political assassinations: once by the Yugoslav courts, and once by the French, for the murders of King Alexander and the French Foreign Minister, Barthou.
In his hour of triumph Pavelic did not forget that all those who had helped the birth of a strong united Yugoslavia had contributed to the death of the Catholic Austro-Hungarian Empire, the political pet gendarme of the Vatican, and, significantly enough, as a belated tribute to the old Austrian-Vatican alliance in the Balkans, he ordered the confiscation of the real property of "any persons who had volunteered with the Allies against Catholic Austria-Hungary during the First World War" (Statutory Order, dated April 18, 1941).
This last move, like numerous others of a more tyrannical character, was followed with fascination by the Vatican, where the murderer of King Alexander came to be regarded as a great Catholic hero, blessed by none other than Pope Pius Xll himself, who bestowed his paternal protection upon him and the New Croatian State. That was not enough. Pius Xll, that holiest of all modern Popes, spun some of the most unholy diplomatic webs, with the specific object of bestowing upon the political creatures of the devout regicide Pavelic some kind of a king. For to the Catholic Church kings are, next to Catholic dictators, still her most cherished political dodos.
As Supreme Military Apostolic Vicar of the Ustashi Army, Archbishop Stepinac participated in military and political functions, mingling with the Fascist, Nazi and Ustashi Commanders.
At one time Stepinac directed Ustashi guerrillas following Pavelic's flight. He established contacts and coordinated the scattered Ustashi bands, directing priests and monks to act as liaison with them.
When, finally, on November 8, 1945, Ustashi Croatia disintegrated, Slepinac reconsecrated the Ustashi Crusaders' force with a fiat in his own Chapel. After which he received "a pledge from Ustashi intellectuals" to fight to the end for the liberator of Ustashi Croatia.
He was in constant contact with the Ustashi detachments raiding Orthodox villages and towns. Also with the Nazi occupational forces in and outside Croatia.
Ante Pavelic, the inspirer, creator and leader of the independent Catholic State of Croatia. He employed terrorism, political extremism and religious fanaticism with such ruthlessness as to outsmart even his two main Fascist protectors, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
He was the brains behind the assassination of King Alexander and other political murders which preceded the disintegration of Yugoslavia and thus the erection of his super-Nazi, super-Catholic independent Ustashi Croatia. He enjoyed the protection of Pope Pius XII, who helped him via diplomatic and monetary means to achieve his ultimate objective.
When Ustashi Croatia collapsed, Pavelic hid at the Vatican, then, disguised as a monk, fled to the Argentine where he set up an Ustashi Government, waiting for "the Day." Sundry Catholic hierarchies openly helped him in exile. Pre-war acts of terrorism were begun anew. Pavelic became the victim of a murder attempt himself. He died shortly before and after the deaths of his two main ecclesiastical supporters, Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Stepinac, still dreaming of resurrecting anew Catholic Ustashi Croatia.
The throne of Croatia had originally been assigned to the scion of the Hapsburgs—i.e. Otto. As, however, Hitler suffered from anti-Hapsburg phobia, plans had to be somewhat modified. Otto had to be discarded. A feverish exploration amid the remaining forlorn royal crowned heads of Nazified Europe was speedily initiated. The new King's paramount virtue had to be a very obvious one: he must be persona grata to the Fuehrer. Catholic Providence, which has always provided the Vatican with an uninterrupted shower of Peter's pence—or, to be more up-to-date, with an ever-increasing shower of Peter's dollars—again proved that her cornucopia could still supply a mankind confused by all the errors of republicanism with that increasingly rare commodity: kings. Now kings have become very rare and, in fact, exceptional. Hence the need for an exceptional man to carry out an exceptional commission. The man: Pope Pius Xll.Pius XII had been the recipient of portents—that is, of phenomena with which only saints, it is said, are privileged. This even though such phenomena as a rule occur after death, and always when a rational scrutiny of the miracles has become impossible. During the Conclave of 1939, convened to elect a new Pope, Cardinal Pacelli was visited by Pius X in person. Pius X announced that the next Pontiff would be him, Pacelli. It was a miracle. It must have been, for Pius X had died almost three decades earlier. Pacelli was indeed elected Pope. The fact that he cast his own vote for himself did not really affect the issue. Pacelli became Pope Pius XII, choosing the name of Pius in honour of Pius X. 
Ten years later, in 1950, Pius XII, after patient years of self-canonization, saw the sun zig-zag in the sky of Rome. Not once, it must be noted, but on three successive days. As if this were not enough, the very Mother of God appeared to him, within the convulsed sphere, "in a spectacle of celestial movements in transmission of mute but eloquent messages to the Vicar of Christ." It was not difficult for so extra-holy a successor of St. Peter, therefore, to find a worthy king. The fact that Pius XII had to conduct down-to-earth secret, hard bargaining with Mussolini was discreetly hushed up. The chosen one? Victor Emanuel, King of Italy, whom Pius XII himself not long before had blessed as "the august and wise Emperor of Ethiopia," following Fascist Italy's ruthless
Pius' pet obsession was Communism. After World War 1, he allied the Church with Italian, Spanish and German Fascism, and with the USA after World War 11. He became the main instigator of the Cold War that followed.
Besides being ruthless in political matters, he was unscrupulous in religious ones. He self-sanctified himself with alleged miracles. He claimed that the Virgin Mary worked a miracle personally for him, alone. He claimed also that none other than Jesus Christ himself visited and spoke to him.
He practiced nepotism, that is, the granting of undeserved titles, riches and privileges to his own family.
He was a paranoiac, on a par with Hitler and Stalin. He transformed the Catholic Church into a global political instrument, using the Catholic masses as gullible expendable pawns in his own ideological gambles.
The life of a mere Duke nowadays is somewhat dull. The Duke of Spoleto, although a mere Duke, was born with above-average ducal ambition. Hence, when political fortune blew his way, he seized her tightly by the hair. Having first made quite sure that the somewhat moody Austrian commoner who had promoted himself to the Chancellorship of Germany approved of him, secondly that the son of a blacksmith from Romagna would smile on him, and last but not least that His Holiness Pius Xll would give him a triple blessing, he accepted the royal Croatian sceptre with a blush. A name worthy of such a crown was selected, approved, and hailed. And so it happened that a poor unknown Duke suddenly found himself the head of a new dynasty in the Kingdom of Croatia, and became His Most Gracious Exalted Majesty, Tomislav II.
At such wonderful news a massive Ustashi delegation, led by Ante Pavelic, rushed to Rome, where, in the very seat of the Fascist Empire, on May 18, 1941, Tomislav II's gracious acceptance of the Croatian Crown took place, punctuated by clicking of military heels, Fascist salutes, and hurrahs. At the Vatican the happiness of the Pope was unbounded. Yet his fatherly heart was made a little heavy by the fact that Tomislav II, his triumphant political godchild, could not openly be given a solemn papal blessing. Pius XII was the head of the Universal Church. Catholics by the million were at that very moment fighting with the Allies to smash that very Fascist world with which Pius was on such cordial terms. In addition to that, Pius was simultaneously the head of the Vatican State and as such—oh, happy coincidence!—a king himself. To recognize his new royal colleague at that juncture would have been interpreted by the democratic camp as a breach of "papal neutrality." His Holiness, therefore, had to use caution.
Popes claim they can unlock gates—in heaven and in hell. That is why they have St. Peter's massive keys. But very often they can open back doors as well down here. And, the world being what it is, that is even more important. Particularly on occasions when the official gates of international diplomacy have to remain firmly closed. Adept in the age-old Catholic Macchiavelliana Pius XII solved the riddle triumphantly. He received good King Tomislav one day before the ceremony of his coronation. Who could say this was a breach of "papal neutrality?" The Duke of Spoleto was not yet officially a king. His Holiness the Pope had received him before he had legally become His Exalted Majesty, King Tomislav II.
That same day Croatia was officially proclaimed a kingdom. The devout murderer of King Alexander of Yugoslavia—that is Pavelic—was granted a long and very private audience by the Pope. Only one stenographer, who cautious Pavelic had brought with him and who was made to take the oath never to reveal what he heard, was present. Strengthened by what Pius Xll had told him, Pavelic called on Mussolini, with whom he signed a treaty. Following all this, the indefatigable Holy Father received and solemnly blessed Pavelic's Prime Minister and his whole Ustashi delegation. Who, again, could label this a breach of "papal neutrality?" All those excellent people had been received merely as "Catholic individuals," not as the heads of the Government of the New Croatia, declared the Osservatore Romano. Honi soil qui mat y pense. Yet the real significance of it all did not escape those who knew. Pius XII had granted all those good people a special audience, not because they were mere "Catholic individuals": he had specially received, specially blessed, and specially praised them because, while members of the Mother Church, they were, above all, the representatives of the newly born Independent Catholic State of Croatia, a political creature stubbornly nurtured and ruthlessly promoted by that most malign of all its conceivers, the Vatican.
1. See The Ciano Diaries, foreward by Sumner Welles, Doubleday & Co, Inc., 1946, pp. 46,48-50,60,87,97.[Back]
2. Memoire de l'Organisation Musulmane Yougoslav, to the National Committee for Free Europe, New York, May, 1950.[Back]
3. W.D. Isla, CommentairessurlesvProblemes Yougoslaves, p. 45, Geneva, 1944.[Back]
4. See Nedelja, August 10, 1941.[Back]
5. See Nedelja, April 27, 1941.[Back]
6. Pius XII claimed to have seen Pius X during the conclave of 1939, and that the latter foretold him that he would become the next Pope. For more details, see The Cross, organ of the Passionist Fathers, Dublin, March, 1948.[Back]
7. This occurred on three successive days, October 30 and 31 and November 1, 1950. The official description of this repetitive miracle, given by Pius XII's special delegate, Cardinal Tedeschini, was the following:
The Holy Father (Pius XII) turned his gaze from the Vatican gardens to the sun, and there was renewed for his eyes the prodigy of the Valley of Fatima.... He was able to witness the life of the sun under the hand of Mary. The sun was agitated, all convulsed, transformed into a picture of life, in a spectacle of celestial movements; in transmission of mute but eloquent messages to the Vicar of Christ.Cardinal Tedeschini, at the Shrine of Fatima, Portugal, 13.10.1951. See world and Catholic Press, 14-15-16.10.1951. For more details of the concocted papal visions and the political objectives of their manufacturers see the author's Catholic Imperialism and World Freedom (Watts 500 pp.). [Back]
8. Words used by Pius XII, December 21, 1939, when blessing King Victor.[Back]