Rezension – S. Schmid: Deutsche und italienische Besatzung im Unabhängigen Staat Kroatien

Sanela Schmid: Deutsche und italienische Besatzung im Unabhängigen Staat Kroatien. 1941 bis 1943/45, Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2019.

Rezensiert für den AKHF von Amedeo Osti Guerrazzi, Universität Padua


The occupation of Yugoslavia represents one of the most interesting areas for studying Axis policies and strategies during the Second World War. Within this topic, Croatia is perhaps the most interesting case. The „Independent Croatian State“, born immediately after the collapse of the Yugoslav Kingdom, represented a microcosm in which, until 8 September 1943, Italians and Germans fought, sometimes independently, sometimes jointly, a bloody counter-guerrilla campaign and tried to assert their hegemony over the territory. A perfect case study to understand not only the methods and goals of the Nazi-Fascist occupations, but also to understand the way the Axis “worked” in an area where, theoretically, the two allies were present on an equal footing. Not only that, but the presence of a minor ally created by the Axis itself, the Croatian state, led by a local-Fascist party, gives us an insight into what the „New European Order“ was to be for the Axis satellite countries. In short, it is the Nazi-fascist Europe that is created in Croatia, where every actor has a well-defined role and can fully carry out its activities.

It is not by chance that the war in the Balkans has attracted the attention of international historiography. The Germans, to give just a few examples, have been studied by Klaus Schmider1 and by Ben Sheperd2; the Italians by Davide Rodogno3 and by James Burgwyn4; the Croats by Alexander Korb.5

We are therefore talking about a field of research that many historians have explored in great detail. However, Sanela Schmid’s book goes beyond the research carried out so far by choosing a comparative approach that she was able to carry out thanks to her knowledge of the languages of the three protagonists involved and therefore of the literature and direct sources (archives and periodicals of the time), which make this work unique in its kind.

Schmid’s book provides a comparative view of the Italian and German policies of occupation, and of the difficult strategy of the Croatian State, on the one hand dependent on the two Axis partners from a military point of view, but on the other hand engaged in a difficult policy aimed at maintaining spaces of autonomy with respect, above all, to Italian hegemonic projects. Theoretically the Italians were magna pars in the area, which was to represent the natural place of expansion of Mussolini’s Mediterranean Empire, through a kind of peaceful penetration. Italian strategy clashed with Croatian nationalism, which claimed a large part of the territories annexed by the Italians in Dalmatia in April 1941. The Italian policy also had its limits in the military weakness of the Royal Army, unable to defeat the strong communist and nationalist resistance. It was therefore the Germans who had to intervene with ever more numerous and increasingly violent military units to defend the independent Croatian state and, at times, the proud Latin ally.

Hier weiterlesen.


Empfohlene Zitierweise:

Amedeo Osti Guerrazzi, Rezension zu: Schmid, Sanela: Deutsche und italienische Besatzung im Unabhängigen Staat Kroatien. 1941 bis 1943/45. Berlin 2019 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 13.09.2023, <>.