Raimondo Giustiniani on the "Jewish problem in Croatia” in 1942

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Addressed to R. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome

M Mussolini

Zagreb, 12th May 1942, Year XX

Re: The Jewish problem in Croatia

A year after the start of the anti-Jewish campaign undertaken by the Ustashe Regime when they came to power, and now that the Croatian racial policy has been normalized within a framework of strict legality, assessing the situation may be of some interest.

Croatian racism is based on and finds its justification in paragraph XI of the Ustashe Principles of 1933 that for the first time mentions Croatian blood.

From this source derives the law-decree of 30th April 1941 on the Aryan race, the fundamental text of Croatian racism.

According to that law, all persons are considered Jewish:

l) if they have at least three ancestors in the second degree who belong to the Jewish race;

2) if they have two ancestors of the Jewish race, namely in the following instances:

a) if on the date of the 10th April 1941 they belonged to the Jewish religion or if they later converted to that religion,

b) if they have a spouse who is considered Jewish,

c) if after the present decree has come into force they have entered into matrimony with a person having two or more ancestors in the second degree belonging to the Jewish race, also the children issued from such a marriage,

d) if they are the illegitimate children of a Jew,

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3) if they were born outside the territory of the Independent State of Croatia from parents who do not trace their origins to the Independent State of Croatia, if at the date of 10th April 1941 they belonged to the Jewish religion or if they have at least two ancestors in the second degree belonging to the Jewish race, or if they are considered Jews by the law of the country from where they originate.

4) if after the present decree came into force they enter into matrimony with a non-Aryan person.

5) if they are the illegitimate children of a Jewish woman.

Persons belonging to the Jewish race do not enjoy citizenship rights and are therefore banned from taking part in economic, social, youth, sports and cultural activities and organizations of the Croatian People in general, and more particularly in literature, journalism, sculpture, music, theatre and cinema.

The law-decree of 30th April 1941 must be considered together with the other decree instituting the Political Commission on Race, which delivers opinions and offers suggestions on all cases in which the racial status is in doubt, and with the other, On the Protection of Aryan Blood and the Honour of the Croatian People, which absolutely forbids marriage between Jews or persons not belonging to the Aryan race and persons of the Aryan race and punishes with great severity extramarital relations between the Jew or a person not of Aryan blood and female persons of Aryan origin.

In addition to these legislative measures there is also a body of police regulations concerning Jews, the main being:

Jews are banned from living in certain parts of town

their personal property is confiscated without compensation

they are forbidden to keep radios and telephones

male Jews aged from 16 to 60 must have themselves entered in special registers

they must all, irrespective of age and gender, wear a special badge on the chest and on the back

they must observe a special curfew

they are forbidden to loiter in the streets in the city centre, and may only pass through

they are banned from entering public establishments, etc.

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Having thus determined the legal status of persons belonging to the Jewish race, it became necessary to settle all attendant economic matters.

A first step was therefore to declare null and void all contracts entered into between Jews and between Jews and others in the 60 days preceding the declaration of the Independent State of Croatia, if the value of the contract was over 100,000 Dinars and if it had not been subsequently approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Almost at the same time a law-decree was issued whereby all businesses that were entirely or partially owned by Jews as well as those in which one or more Jews were sitting on the Board of Directors or had managerial posts were considered Jewish.

That same decree ordered Jews, persons of Aryan origin joined in matrimony with Jews, foreign Jews who were on Croatian territory as of 5th June 1941 and Jewish businesses to report their assets as well as all changes of ownership that had occurred after 10th February 1941.

With this decree any alienation of Jewish property, as well as the transfer of Jewish businesses, of stocks, of shares in consortia and other property rights was made impossible, since any contract of whatever kind required the approval of the Ministry of National Economy.

Jewish businesses thus confiscated by the State might be managed by the State itself, or be either leased, sold or liquidated in favour of the Treasury. The final decision in all these cases lies with the Ministry of National Economy.

Lastly, with the Decree of 10th October 1941, the authority on all matters concerning the estates of individual Jews or of Jewish businesses has been assigned to the State Department for Reconstruction which may, with a discretionary decision that admits no recourse, nationalize the assets of any Jew as well as of any Jewish business and determine what compensation, if any, shall be paid and how.

The estates thus acquired can be assigned to the Independent State of Croatia or to the State Department for Reconstruction.

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Recently this Department, as well as the Political Commission on Race, have been eliminated and all authority in matters concerning Jewish economic questions and the assessment of race has been transferred to the Ministry of Finance, Office for Nationalized Assets, and the Ministry of Interior Affairs respectively.

The implementation of all these measures has not, in truth, been very easy.

Croatian public opinion, being insufficiently prepared for a racial campaign and still wary of the new Regime, but most of all shaken by a string of illegal acts carried out by unscrupulous Ustashe officials, had a rather negative reaction against these anti-Jewish measures and watched the course of events with great scepticism.

From a technical point of view, moreover, the State Department for Reconstruction, which ought to have been the buttress of the entire system, and whose task it was basically to centralize and draw up an inventory of all Jewish property, proved decidedly inferior to the task they had been entrusted with, both because their offices were disorganized and because its officials had absolutely no experience in such matters.

This state of affairs was taken advantage of by elements of the German ethnic group in Croatia who, through their financial organizations, were able to acquire legally the main formerly Jewish businesses.

Lastly, as to the present situation of Croats who own formerly Jewish property, it must be pointed out that they have acquired it in many different ways but mainly through a system of fictitious sales carried out for the benefit of persons appointed by the State to the task of managing said property.

Of the 40,000 Jews who, it has been estimated, were living in Croatian territory, only approx. 6,000 are left, almost all interned in concentration camps or assigned to farm work or to land reclamation. Of the rest, some have managed to emigrate and some must be considered missing.

The Jewish problem can therefore be considered virtually solved in the Independent State of Croatia; a few issues still remain pending, such for instance as mixed marriages,

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but they too will soon be dealt with and settled.

Giustiniani

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