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Zagreb in World War II

Aspects of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia during World War II / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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When World War II started, Zagreb was the capital of the newly formed autonomous Banovina of Croatia within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which remained neutral in the first years of the war. After the Invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany and Italy on 6 April 1941, German troops entered Zagreb on 10 April. On the same day, Slavko Kvaternik, a prominent member of the Ustaše movement, proclaimed the creation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), an Axis puppet state, with Zagreb as its capital. Ante Pavelić was proclaimed Poglavnik of the NDH and Zagreb became the center of the Main Ustaša Headquarters, the Government of the NDH, and other political and military institutions, as well as the police and intelligence services.

Monument Shooting of hostages, dedicated to the victims of fascism in Zagreb

Upon the establishment of the NDH, the Ustaše enacted race laws and started persecuting Serbs, Jews, and Roma. Thousands of locals, primarily Jews, would be killed in prisons and execution sites around the city, mainly in Dotrščina and Rakov Potok forests, or taken to concentration camps and executed there.

Later in 1941, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia started an armed uprising against the NDH, and conducted several operations in the city, but mostly operated underground and in liberated territories elsewhere. The influx of refugees from war-ravaged areas of the NDH nearly doubled the population of Zagreb by the end of the war.

In January 1944, the 10th Zagreb Corps was formed. It mainly operated in the wider Zagreb area and Northwest Croatia. The Allies carried out several aerial attacks on the city in 1944 and 1945. The Government of the NDH abandoned the city on 6 May 1945. Most of its military forces had withdrawn from Zagreb by 8 May, when units of the 1st and 2nd Armies of the Yugoslav Partisans took control of it. The Partisans then killed many captured soldiers and civilians accused of collaboration.

In total, more than 26,000 people from Zagreb lost their lives from 1941 to 1945. In 1975, the President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, awarded the city of Zagreb with the Order of the People's Hero.