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Visions of Annihilation

Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941–1945

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    Visions of Annihilation
    Book Description:

    The fascist Ustasha regime and its militias carried out a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed an estimated half million Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies, and ended only with the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II.

    InVisions of Annihilation,Rory Yeomans analyzes the Ustasha movement's use of culture to appeal to radical nationalist sentiments and legitimize its genocidal policies. He shows how the movement attempted to mobilize poets, novelists, filmmakers, visual artists, and intellectuals as purveyors of propaganda and visionaries of a utopian society. Meanwhile, newspapers, radio, and speeches called for the expulsion, persecution, or elimination of "alien" and "enemy" populations to purify the nation. He describes how the dual concepts of annihilation and national regeneration were disseminated to the wider population and how they were interpreted at the grassroots level.

    Yeomans examines the Ustasha movement in the context of other fascist movements in Europe. He cites their similar appeals to idealistic youth, the economically disenfranchised, racial purists, social radicals, and Catholic clericalists. Yeomans further demonstrates how fascism created rituals and practices that mimicked traditional religious faiths and celebrated martyrdom.

    Visions of Annihilationchronicles the foundations of the Ustasha movement, its key actors and ideologies, and reveals the unique cultural, historical, and political conditions present in interwar Croatia that led to the rise of fascism and contributed to the cataclysmic events that tore across the continent.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7793-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-28)

    On 8 September 1942, the third Zagreb economic and trade exhibition in the Independent State of Croatia was officially opened. The press portrayed it as an unparalleled triumph for the young state: newly constructed trams took visitors to the entrance of the Zagreb fairground; the city’s travel office was open late for visitors from abroad needing accommodation for the duration of the exhibition; and thousands of citizens, many of them workers carrying trade union flags, bought tickets and wandered with “great attentiveness,” curiosity, and interest around the exhibits. As one Zagreb newspaper concluded, despite the difficult wartime economic conditions, the...

  2. CHAPTER 1 THE GENERATION OF STRUGGLE: Ustasha Students and the Construction of a New Elite
    (pp. 29-80)

    On 23 april 1941 eleven hundred student and high school members of the Ustasha movement gathered in the courtyard of the main university building. Led by the commander of the Ustasha University Center, Zdenko Blažeković, these “steeliest of Ustasha warriors,” with the Croatian tricolor on their arms, marched toward St. Mark’s Square with “military discipline and in military formation” to hear a speech from the Poglavnik. In silence the Ustasha “student-warriors” listened to the speech of their Poglavnik and then took an oath of loyalty to him and the Ustasha state. Praising radical nationalist students for having led the resistance...

  3. CHAPTER 2 ANNIHILATE THE OLD! The Cult of Youth and the Problem of National Regeneration
    (pp. 81-125)

    While being an Ustasha meant many things, above all, it meant being young. Youth, dynamism, and energy were at the center of the Ustasha movement’s ideology and worldview. AsUstaška Mladež,the Ustasha Youth journal, commented in June 1942: “To be an Ustasha means to be eternally young and eternally a warrior.” The revolution of the Ustasha movement was, ultimately, the revolution of youth.¹ This was a view shared widely in the movement. According to the novelist and poet Jure Pavičić, it was youth with their idealism and lack of sentimentality who had sacrificed most for the nationalist struggle. The...

    (pp. 126-167)

    In december 1941 Maca Minić, a female Ustasha Youth leader, attempted to answer two questions: What would the role of women in the new state be, and what part would the Ustasha movement play in women’s lives? As Mimić pointed out, since the movement had come to power, young women had been gathered into the organization, dressed in uniforms, and placed into military units in order to create “a new kind of woman.” In her uniform, instilled with military discipline, the new Ustasha woman would feel proud and fearless, imbued with the qualities of endurance, sacrifice, and diligence.¹ While she...

  5. CHAPTER 4 SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE CAMPAIGN FOR TASTE: Cultural Values after the Revolution of Blood
    (pp. 178-235)

    “We were confronted with a wasteland and had to build everything from the ground up.” So recalled the regional leader of Prigorje Marko Lamešić regarding the task confronting the Ustasha movement immediately after it came to power. Speaking at an Ustasha rally in June 1942, Lamešić, standing on a speaker’s platform adorned with flowers and rugs and surrounded by flags and an altar for holy mass, told thousands of workers, peasants, and party supporters that if nothing else had been achieved in the past year other than “the complete tearing out of every foreign poison from the soul of the...

  6. CHAPTER 5 BETWEEN ANNIHILATION AND REGENERATION: Literature, Language, and National Revolution
    (pp. 236-294)

    On 5 december 1941, in the cultural pages ofHrvatski narod,the novelist Zlatko Milković drew attention to a matinee performance at the Croatian National Theater of readings of the works of the younger generation of poets by famous Croatian actors and actresses, students from the acting school, and the poets themselves. Among the poets taking part were Frano Alfirević, Gabrijel Cvitan, Dobriša Cesarić, Vinko Nikolić, Ante Bonifačić, Vinko Kos, and Olinko Delorko. Although the poets were very different in their style of writing and the kinds of subjects they explored in verse, they were united in being young and...

  7. CHAPTER 6 “AN UNCEASING SEA OF BLOOD AND VICTIMS”: The Cultural Politics of Martyrdom and Moral Rebirth
    (pp. 295-344)

    Writing in may 1941, Ivan Šarić, bishop of Sarajevo, nostalgically recollected his clandestine meetings with Ustashas in South America in the 1930s. He recalled the Ustashas he had met as “good and self-sacrificing believers, men of God and the nation.” For their part, he wrote, the Ustashas were attached to their priestly followers. In their priests, he wrote, Ustashas saw a reflection of the nation and themselves.¹ In fact, such faithful sons of the Catholic Church were they that, while incarcerated on the Island of Lipari, they built a church in which the local bishop blessed them, coming to see...

    (pp. 345-364)

    By the end of 1944, an apocalyptic spirit reigned in the capital. The Independent State of Croatia was close to collapse, and in fact, the control of the Ustasha regime throughout the state was so limited that the Poglavnik earned himself the dubious sobriquet the “Mayor of Zagreb.” As the state deteriorated, divisions among the Ustasha hierarchy became increasingly public and their rhetoric ever more extreme; they began to see enemies everywhere, especially in their own ranks. In September 1944, Mladen Lorković, at the time interior minister, and Ante Vokić, by then an Ustasha general and armed forces minister, had...