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Ante Pavelic, the Real Butcher of the Balkans

by Jonathan Levy And Tom Easton

Ante Pavelic was the original ‘Butcher of the Balkans.” He was the leader of the Nazi puppet government of the “Independent Sate of Croatia” who died peacefully in Madrid in 1959. The mass murderer of 80,000 Jews, 30,000 Gypsies, and over 500,000 Serbs survived the Second World War and never faced a war crimes tribunal.

Instead Pavelic was offered sanctuary by the Vatican and became a security advisor to Juan and Eva Peron before retiring to fascist Spain. Key to Pavelic’s survival was the so-called Croatian Treasury, really nothing more than Pavelic personal wealth, the plunder of concentration camps and massacres throughout the Balkans and beyond. Wherever the loyal Ustashe (Croatian Nazis) served Pavelic and Hitler, Orthodox Christian churches and Jewish synagogues were plundered and the property of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, Ukrainians and others were confiscated. The crimes of Pavelic and the Ustashe were so barbaric that even hardened Nazis were disgusted by it.

In the final days of World War II, Pavelic and his inner circle bought and bribed their way to Rome where help was waiting at the Vatican. Pavelic committed genocide on a level far greater than any known before or since in the Balkans but he had been personally received by Pius XII during his reign of terror. The Franciscan Order and Vatican bank eagerly helped launder Pavelic’s loot the proceeds of which were used to establish the so called ratline which helped thousands of Nazis and Ustashe escape to South America.

Over 50 years later, a class action lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in San Francisco in 1998 seeking an accounting of the Pavelic loot. The defendants, the Vatican bank, Franciscan order, and the remaining Ustashe were asked to account for the gold, silver, and gems plundered so many years ago. A Federal judge has taken the case under submission.

Last month, an ex-US Army intelligence official revealed that Pavelic’s body is secured at a secret location in Madrid awaiting its eventual return to the “homeland”. Pavelic’s followers view the current Croatian state as the successor to the Nazi inspired Independent State of Croatia, their legacy will be fulfilled only by the return of their supreme leader or in the Croatian language, Poglavnik, to lie in state in Zagreb. Tudjman, the late blood stained ruler of Croatia, was a proponent of returning Pavelic to Croatia and indeed Pavelic’s ghost must be pleased to find so many new public monuments to his loyal Ustashe springing up like toadstools after a spring rain in democratic Croatia.

Attorneys in the class action lawsuit while awaiting the court’s ruling are opening up a second front against the Croatian Nazis in Madrid. It is thought a large portion of the Croatian treasure was secreted in Madrid and remains there yet along with Pavelic’s relatives and ever loyal Ustashe who maintain a vigil over their leaders grave. Spanish law firms have been contacted and an action of some sort in Spain is likely especially in light of the Spanish National Court’s recent interest in the Pinochet case. The Spanish courts have demonstrated an interest in fighting Fascism abroad, now they are presented with even worse case at home. Let’s hope they will put the principles of International Law to work on this domestic case and stop the Ustashe.

An annual ceremony presided over by Croatian Franciscan priests is thought to take place annually on Pavelic’s birthday. At such Ustashe ceremonies eternal hatred towards Serbs and others are sworn on a crucifix, knife, and a revolver. Many Ustashe returned to Croatia in 1991 and have played a role in the ongoing hostilities in Herzegovina.

Jonathan Levy is a California attorney who has represented organizations and individuals in a variety of Holocaust related lawsuits including banking, insurance, and slave labor matters.

Tom Easton is a veteran civil rights attorney in Northern California. Tom has traveled extensively in Russia and Europe and holds a Masters degree in History. They can be reached at: A summary of the class action suit can be found at:

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