Lorković–Vokić plot (Croatian: Urota Lorković-Vokić) was an attempt initiated by the Minister of Interior, Mladen Lorković and Minister of Armed Forces, Ante Vokić, to form a coalition government with the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), abandon the Axis powers and align the Independent State of Croatia with the Allies with help of the Croatian Home Guard. The plan originated from the HSS which was also involved in the negotiations with the Allies. The plot ended with massive arrests and the execution of major plotters, including Lorković and Vokić.
Situation in Europe
On 24 August 1942, the Germans launched an attack on Stalingrad. The battle of Stalingrad ended in German defeat on 2 February 1943. After this victory, the war turned in the Soviets' favour. The Allied invasion of Sicily was launched on 9 July 1943, and not long after, Benito Mussolini was overthrown and arrested on 25 July. On the same day, Italian king Victor Emmanuel, named Pietro Badoglio as Italy's new Prime Minister and on 8 September 1943, he signed the unconditional capitulation of Italy. On 6 June 1944 the Allies launched carried out the D-Day landings on the German-occupied coast of Normandy.
Coup attempts among the Axis nations
Because of defeats that Axis forces suffered from Allied armies, some Axis nations tried to change sides. On 23 August 1944, as the Red Army approached Romania, Romanian King Michael staged a coup and joined the Allies, after which Romania was split into two parts: one supporting King Michael and the other still supporting the Germans and Romanian fascist leader Ion Antonescu.
Not long after the coup in Romania, the Fatherland Front in Bulgaria overthrew the pro-German Bulgarian government on 2 September 1944. Three days later, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria, soon occupying the northeastern part of the country. The Bulgarian Army was ordered not to offer any resistance. Bulgaria joined the Allies on 8 September 1944.
On 15 October 1944, the regent of Hungary Miklos Horthy announced that he had signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. In response, the Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust and installed Ferenc Szálasi, leader of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, as leader of Hungary. Even after Horthy announced the armistice, Hungarian soldiers continued to fight the Red Army.
Preparations for the coup
Vladko Maček, the President of the Croatian Peasant Party, thought that the British would support the democratic and anti-communist Croatian state. Because of that, he thought that the Allies would eventually land on the Dalmatian coast and support his party as democratic and anti-communist. He also assumed that the Croatian Home Guard would support the HSS once the invasion of Dalmatia started. Nevertheless, Draža Mihailović's Serb-dominated Chetniks had a plan directed against both Croats and Communists if the projected Allied invasion of Dalmatia were to occur. The three members of the HSS' leadership, August Košutić, the Vice President; Ljudevit Tomašić, a deputy secretary and representative who was already in contact with the Allies; and Ivanko Farolfi were assigned the task of carrying out negotiations with the British. Farolfi was the most active and was in charge of maintaining contact with Croatian army officers, party leaders and foreign intelligence services.
Mladen Lorković had a plan to disarm the German army on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), install the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) as the new government, and to call all of the Allied armies to land on the territory of the NDH. He also believed that the HSS would prevent the communists or King Peter II from coming to power. In July 1944, Vokić held a meeting at which he pointed out that once the Allies invaded the Balkans, the German armed forces would have to be disarmed. The Germans were aware that Croatia could join the Allies. The Luftwaffe's attaché in Zagreb on 11 August reported that the Croatian military was becoming increasingly uncooperative towards the Germans. He also noted their request for more arms and ammunition from the German military. Lorković established contact with the Croatian Peasant Party representatives in Croatia, Ivanko Farolfi, Ljudevit Tomašić and August Košutić.
Their notion of an Allied invasion of Dalmatia failed to materialize, as Allies had no intention of landing in Dalmatia. Even so, Winston Churchill was sympathetic to the idea of an Allied invasion of the Croatian coast, so he initiated a discussion with Josip Broz Tito about a possible invasion of the Istrian peninsula in August 1944. The representatives of the HSS and Croatian Home Guard offered only promises, while the Yugoslav Partisans were involved in the war, and at the Teheran Conference, the Partisans gained the status of an Allied force. The British did not wanted to risk cooperation with the Partisans, and their involvement in Yugoslavia was already complicated as they dealt with both the Royal Yugoslav government-in-exile and the Communists; the involvement of the Croatian Home Guard and the HSS would complicate the situation even further.
The Croatian negotiators with the Allies were Tomo Jančiković, Zenon Adamić and Ivan Babić. The British always had a separate meeting with them. The HSS thought that their emissaries were successful in securing the Dalmatian invasion plan. The appointment of Ivan Šubašić as the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia in exile and General Ivan Tomašević's offer to put his army under Allied command once the invasion began, encouraged the plotters even more. Finally, the Romanian coup and the advance of the Soviet troops led them to believe that the Allies would soon invade Dalmatia.
End of the plot and arrests
Ante Pavelić, Poglavnik of the Independent State of Croatia, thought that the Germans would win the war with the "horrible weapons". He called a meeting of his cabinet to his villa, which was guarded by armed men. A meeting took place on 30 August 1944, and Pavelić accused both Lorković and Vokić of involvement in the plot and treason. Vice President of the Government, Džafer Kulenović, and many others defended them, but to no avail. Lorković and Vokić were arrested, along with 60 others. Lorković requested that Pavelić not do harm the members of the HSS, "as promised", while Vokić defended them in front of Pavelić, asserting that they did everything he ordered them to do. Some of those who were arrested were soon released, while Lorković and Vokić were tried, imprisoned, and later executed.
- Mladen Lorković - Minister of Internal Affairs
- Ante Vokić - Minister of Armed Forces
- Franjo Šimić - Croatian Home Guard general who was supposed to greet the English and American forces after their arrival on the Dalmatian coast
- Ivan Babić - Croatian Home Guard lieutenant-colonel who relayed information about the coup to the Allies in Italy; he later defected from the Home Guard and moved to South America
- Petar Blašković - Croatian Home Guard infantry general
- Ivan Mrak - Former commander of the Croatian Air Force Legion.
- Ivanko Farolfi - member of Croatian Peasant Party
- Ljudevit Tomašić - member of Croatian Peasant Party
- August Košutić - member of Croatian Peasant Party
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