Andrija Artuković

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Andrija Artuković
Prisega vlade NDH (2).jpg
Andrija Artuković (3rd from right) taking the oath during the NDH government inauguration in April 1941.
1st Minister of Interior of the Independent State of Croatia
In office
16 April 1941 – 10 October 1942
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Ante Nikšić
Minister of Justice of the Independent State of Croatia
In office
10 October 1942 – 29 April 1943
3rd Minister of Interior of the Independent State of Croatia
In office
29 April 1943 – 1 November 1943
Leader Ante Pavelić
Preceded by Ante Nikšić
Succeeded by Mladen Lorković
State Secretary
In office
11 November 1943 – 8 May 1945
Preceded by Mirko Puk
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born 29 November 1899
Ljubuški, Austria-Hungary
Died 16 January 1988(1988-01-16) (aged 88)
Zagreb, SFR Yugoslavia
Political party Ustaše
Spouse(s) Ana Maria Heidler
Alma mater University of Zagreb
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Andrija Artuković (29 November 1899 – 16 January 1988) was a Croatian politician and lawyer, Ustaše intellectual and minister in the Government of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Artuković was convicted of war crimes committed against minorities in the NDH during World War II.

Pre-war life[edit]

Andrija Artuković was born in Klobuk, near Ljubuški (in Herzegovina), son of Marijan and Ruža (née Rašić) Artuković.[1] He studied at a Franciscan monastery school in Široki Brijeg, later obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Zagreb. From 1924 he worked as a court clerk in Zagreb, and in 1926 he opened an independent office in Gospić.[2]

In 1929 he became a member of the Ustaše, an ultranationalist Croatian revolutionary group. He went from Rijeka to Italy where Ante Pavelić named him his adjutant and commander of all Ustaše in Italy. He led a small uprising in Lika called the Velebit uprising, after which he returned to Italy. His Ustaše codename was Hadžija, and has been described as an "Ustaše intellectual".[3] Artuković was in conflict with a small group of M. Babić (codenamed "Giovanni") supporters, and at the end of 1933 he left Italy. After that he lived in Budapest then Vienna for a short time where he was arrested in 1934 and held in prison for a time. He was expelled from Vienna, after which he returned to Budapest. At the beginning of September 1934 he met Pavelić in Milano, and in the middle of September 1934 he went to London. He was arrested there in October 1934 after the assassination of Yugoslav King Alexander I in Marseilles. After his arrest he was transferred to France, where he spent three months in prison in Paris. In January 1935 he was extradited to Yugoslavia and after 16 months spent in prison in Belgrade he was acquitted and released on 16 April 1936. He lived in Gospić for a while, but in May 1936 he left the country again and went to Austria and later to Germany, where he was involved in spreading Ustaše propaganda.[4] In early 1937 he was under Gestapo investigation in Berlin. Under threat of arrest he left Berlin and visited France, after which he moved to Budapest and then returned to Berlin.[5]

World War II[edit]

Andrija Artuković delivering a speech in the Sabor in 1942

After the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia on 10 April 1941, Artuković returned to Zagreb and two days later was named a member of the Croatian State Leadership, a temporary Croatian government formed by Slavko Kvaternik. After Pavelić arrived in Croatia, Artuković became the Minister of Interior in the first Croatian government from 16 April 1941. He was a member of Pavelić's inner circle and was an obedient executor of his orders.[6]

Artuković participated in the Croatian-Italian boundary negotiations in Ljubljana that took place on 23 April 1941. The agreement was known as Ciano-Pavelić agreement. He was present at the signing of the Treaty of Rome on 18 May, and accompanied Pavelić during his visit to Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941. He advocated a policy of terror and announced that Croatia would solve the "Jewish question" just as the German government had. He signed the racial laws proclaimed on 30 April and 4 June 1941.[6] After the government reshuffle on 10 October 1941, he became Minister of Justice and Religion, then from 29 April 1943 until 1 October 1943 he was again the Minister of Interior. He was Secretary of State from 11 October 1943 until the end of the Independent State of Croatia on 8 May 1945.[6]

Emigration, repatriation and trials[edit]

With other members of Government, he left Zagreb on 6 May 1945 and went to Austria. He was detained in Allied camp in Spittal an der Drau. On 18 May 1945, British extradited some Croatian ministers and Prime Minister Nikola Mandić to the Yugoslavian authorities. Artuković wasn't extradited, but he was released soon with remaining ministers. He left the British occupational zone, then he went via the American to the French occupational zone, where his family was. With a Swiss passport under the pseudonym of Alois Anich, he traveled to Ireland. In 1948, with his wife and children, he entered the United States on a tourist visa and settled in Seal Beach, California. He worked at a company owned by his brother.[6] As a Porajmos perpetrator and Ustaše official he did not qualify for legal status in the United States and remained in the country after overstaying his visa.[7]

In July 1945, the Yugoslav State Commission for Investigation of Crimes of Occupiers and Their Allies proclaimed Artuković a war criminal. The Government of the FPR Yugoslavia made a request for his extradition on 29 August 1951. Their request met with a seven years long bureaucratic delay in Los Angeles, California due to the influence of the Croatian émigré community and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to whom Artuković and his family had appealed. On 15 January 1959, U.S. Commissioner Theodore Hocke rejected Yugoslavia's extradition request.[8] When the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (USINS) raised the question of the legal basis of the stay in the US of a large number of associates of and/or collaborationists with the Nazi government. The Yugoslav authorities, under the initiative of the Special Investigation Court of the American Ministry of Justice, renewed their request for Artuković's extradition. He was arrested on 14 November 1984, and a court process began in New York.[6]

During the trial, the United States Justice Department (USDOJ) attorneys referred to Artuković as the "Butcher of the Balkans".[9] He was ordered extradited to Yugoslavia on 11 November 1986. [6] During his trial in absentia in Zagreb (April-May 1986), he was sentenced to death,[7] but the sentence was not carried out due to his age and poor health.[6]


Artuković died of natural causes in prison hospital in Zagreb on 16 January 1988.[6] His son, Radoslav, requested information about his father's burial from the Yugoslav authorities. A special law was passed[when?] in Yugoslavia that the remains of those convicted and sentenced to death but who escaped execution, were to be disposed of as those of executed persons. It is unclear what happened to his remains.[10] In 2010, the president of the Croatian Helsinki Committee, Ivan Zvonimir Čičak, called for authorities to investigate what happened to the remains.[7]


  1. ^ Popović 1986, p. 11.
  2. ^ Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 11.
  3. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 35.
  4. ^ Tomasevich 2001, pp. 35-36.
  5. ^ Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 11, 12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Dizdar et al. 1997, p. 12.
  7. ^ a b c Jureško-Kero, Jadranka (28 June 2010). "Radoslav Artuković, sin ministra u NDH: Želim pokopati oca!". Večernji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Christopher Pyle, Info re initial extradition request by Yugoslavia in re Andrija Artuković,; accessed 22 June 2014.
  9. ^ Christopher Pyle (2001). Extradition, Politics, and Human Rights. Temple University Press. p. 133. ISBN 9781566398237. 
  10. ^ Genc, Mladen (30 July 2010). "Andrija Artuković potajno pokopan u Lepoglavi?!" (in Croatian). Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  • Dizdar, Zdenko; Grčić, Marko; Ravlić, Slaven; Stuparić, Darko (1997). Tko je tko u NDH (in Croatian). Minerva Publishing. ISBN 978-953-6377-03-9. 
  • Popović, Jovo (1986). Suđenje Andriji Artukoviću i što nije rečeno (in Croatian). Stvarnost Publishing. ISBN 86-7075-066-X. 
  • Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3615-4.