Independent State of Croatia

The Independent State of Croatia (Serbo-Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH; German: Unabhängiger Staat Kroatien; Italian: Stato indipendente di Croazia) was a World War II-era puppet state of Nazi Germany[7][8][9] and Fascist Italy. It was established in parts of occupied Yugoslavia on 10 April 1941, after the invasion by the Axis powers. Its territory consisted of most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia, but also excluded many Croat-populated areas in Dalmatia (until late 1943), Istria, and Međimurje regions (which today are part of Croatia).

Independent State of Croatia
Nezavisna Država Hrvatska
Anthem: Lijepa naša domovino
(English: "Our Beautiful Homeland")[1]
The Independent State of Croatia in 1943
StatusPuppet state of Germany (1941–45)
Protectorate of Italy (1941–43)
Common languagesSerbo-Croatian
Roman Catholicism and Islam[2]
GovernmentFascist one-party totalitarian dictatorship (1941–1945) under a constitutional monarchy (1941–1943)[note 1]
Tomislav II[3]
Ante Pavelić
Prime Minister 
Ante Pavelić
Nikola Mandić
Historical eraWorld War II
10 April 1941
18 May 1941
10 September 1943
30 August 1944
8 May 1945
15 May 1945
1941115,133[6] km2 (44,453 sq mi)
CurrencyNDH Kuna
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Democratic Federal Yugoslavia
Today part ofBosnia and Herzegovina

During its entire existence, the NDH was governed as a one-party state by the fascist Ustaša organization. The Ustaše was led by the Poglavnik, Ante Pavelić.[note 2] The regime targeted Serbs, Jews and Roma as part of a large-scale campaign of genocide, as well as anti-fascist or dissident Croats and Bosnian Muslims.[10] According to Stanely G. Payne, crimes in the NDH were proportionately surpassed only by Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and several of the extremely genocidal African regimes.[11]

In the territory controlled by the Independent State of Croatia, between 1941 and 1945, there existed 22 concentration camps. The largest camp was Jasenovac. Two camps, Jastrebarsko and Sisak, held only children. [16]

The state was officially a monarchy after the signing of the Laws of the Crown of Zvonimir on 15 May 1941.[17][18] Appointed by Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta initially refused to assume the crown in opposition to the Italian annexation of the Croat-majority populated region of Dalmatia, annexed as part of the Italian irredentist agenda of creating a Mare Nostrum ("Our Sea").[19] He later briefly accepted the throne due to pressure from Victor Emmanuel III and was titled Tomislav II of Croatia, but never moved from Italy to reside in Croatia.[3]

From the signing of the Treaties of Rome on 18 May 1941 until the Italian capitulation on 8 September 1943, the state was a territorial condominium of Germany and Italy.[20] "Thus on 15 April 1941, Pavelić came to power, albeit a very limited power, in the new Ustasha state under the umbrella of German and Italian forces. On the same day German Führer Adolf Hitler and Italian Duce Benito Mussolini granted recognition to the Croatian state and declared that their governments would be glad to participate with the Croatian government in determining its frontiers."[21][22][23] In its judgement in the Hostages Trial, the Nuremberg Military Tribunal concluded that NDH was not a sovereign state. According to the Tribunal, "Croatia was at all times here involved an occupied country".[24]

In 1942, Germany suggested Italy take military control of all of Croatia out of a desire to redirect German troops from Croatia to the Eastern Front. Italy however rejected the offer as it did not believe that it could on its own handle the unstable situation in the Balkans.[25] After the ousting of Mussolini and the Kingdom of Italy's armistice with the Allies, the NDH on 10 September 1943 declared that the Treaties of Rome were null and void and annexed the portion of Dalmatia that had been ceded to Italy. The NDH attempted to annex Zara (modern-day Zadar, Croatia), which had been a recognized territory of Italy since 1920 and long an object of Croatian irredentism, but Germany did not allow it.[19]