- Croatia was created by the Germans and the Italians on 10 April 1941, from the dismembered Yugoslavia. The new state, which was under the influence of Germany, installed Ante Pavelic, the leader of the anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi Ustasa, as its head of government. Once established, the Croatian government wasted little time in confronting the 30,000 Jews who lived primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ustasa, which modeled itself after the Schutzstaffel (SS), launched violent attacks against Jews in Sarajevo, and in August 1941 completed the construction of the Jasenovac concentration camp, where it interned Jews whom it had arrested. As was the case in most of German-occupied Europe, anti-Jewish legislation was introduced that defined Jews in racial terms. Subsequently, Jews were required to register their property, as well as wear the yellow Star of David badge.Legislation, however, also allowed for the head of state to grant“Honorary Aryan” status to those Jews who had made significant contributions to the state prior to 10 April 1941. Additional laws forbade Jews to intermarry or employ Aryan servants under the age of 45, thus emulating the German Nuremberg Laws of 1935. By mid1941, most Jewish enterprises were taken over or “Aryanized” by the state, and shortly thereafter, Jews were sent to labor camps. By the end of 1941, two thirds of Croatia’s 40,000 Jews had been sent to one of the eight camps constructed by the Croatian government, where upon arrival they were immediately killed or they died soon after. Ante Pavelic in late 1941 declared that “the Jews will be liquidated within a very short time.” Pavelic was true to his word. With German encouragement, and later with their help, the process of annihilating Croatian Jewry began in January 1942. By the spring of 1942, Jews were deported primarily to Auschwitz. Figures for the total number of Jews deported from Croatia are inconclusive, although the number is estimated to have been about 5,000. The Germans succeeded in ridding Croatia of its Jews except for three categories: the Jews recognized as honorary Aryans, Jews in mixed marriages, and Mischlinges or half-Jews.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.