Croatian Righteous - Hrvatski Pravednici

© by Darko Žubrinić, Zagreb (1997)

Hundred and twelve Croatian Righteous:

  • Bartulović Olga i Dragica, Split
  • Bauer Čedomir and Branko, Zagreb
  • Bedrica Mate
  • Benčević Antun and Mira
  • Beritić Zina-Gertruda and Tihomil (academician), Zagreb
  • Buterin Matej, Zadar (?)
  • Božić Marko
  • Car Marija and Karel
  • Carnelutti Alfred, Vera and Mario, Zagreb
  • Ratimir Deletis
  • Dolinar Žarko and Boris
  • Eberhard Josip and Rozika
  • Ercegović Miho and Velimir, Zagreb
  • Filipović Krista and Marijan (writer, author of very popular "Bobi i Rudi"), Zagreb
  • Fuchs Ruža
  • Griner Franjo and Lidija
  • Guina Marija, Makarska
  • Horvat Pavao, the first Croatian Righteous - 1965 (born in Karlovac)
  • Janković Stjepan, priest in the village Lukač near Čakovec
  • Jesih Dragutin, priest
  • Jurić Andrija and Nikola (Pelješac?)
  • Jurin Cecilija and Karitas (nuns)
  • Kirec Miroslav
  • Kraljević Ada and Ivo
  • Krtić Franjo
  • Kudlik Bela and Katarina
  • Malčić Juca
  • Milharčić-Vlahović Lujza
  • Obradović Olga and Ida
  • Oštrić Anka, Zagreb
  • Poklepović Andrija
  • Praschek Bronislawa and Wladislaw (of Polish origin)
  • Radonić Antica and Jakov
  • Roussal Vera
  • Saračević Elza, Feris, Sead (newspaperman, Zagreb) i Emira
  • Silobrčić Mihovil
  • Sopianac Franjo, Lela
  • Štefan Lujo, Štefan Ljubica
  • Taborski Emanuel and Mandica
  • Till Adam
  • Ujević Mate, lexicographer, editor in chief of Croatian Encyclopedia 1938-1945
  • Vranetić Ivan, Zagreb
  • Žagar Ljuba (Ljubica)
  • woman with unknown name who lived in the USA, and to whose family in the presence of Mr. Nenad Porges, a medal of Righteous was bestowed.
    žena nepoznata imena koja je ľivjela u SAD, a čijoj je obitelj u nazočnosti Nenada Porgesa uručeno odličje. In 2005 I learned that the women is Andjelka Brkić, and she obtained the medal post mortem (as a citizen of BiH, since she lived in Sarajevo during the WWII); many thanks to Mr. Barry Brkić for this information.

    In 1998 Croatia established diplomatic relations with Israel. Medals of Righteous were presented by Nathan Meron, Israeli Ambassador in Zagreb, to the following Croats (to five of them posthumously):

  • Ivan Breskvar
  • prof.dr Ante Vuletić
  • Iva and Tomo Kumrić

  • Vid Andrija Milošević (on the photo)

  • Anto Milošević (on the photo)

  • Franjo Krtić, author of a book Dita, dedicated to his wife Judita Krtić Papai, whom he also saved among other Jews
  • dr. Boris Roić
  • In 1999:

  • Veronika-Bela Čargonja, 1999
  • In 2000:

  • Ivan Antunac,
  • Milica and Franjo Hocenski (posthumously),
  • Ankica Lončar (posthumously) and her son Darko Lončar

    We must point with sadness to the fact that Marijan Filipović, who died in 1995, was bestowed the medal of Righteous only in 1996, while it was alloted to him by Yad Vashem already in 1975 - i.e. 21 years earlier! Similarly for Juca Malčić, whose son received it only in 1997, while it was alloted already in 1988.

    In 2001:

  • Kovačević family (posthumously): Pavao & Katarina, Ana, Katarina, Matija, Petar, Franjo (from Petrijevci, many thanks to Mr. Stjepan Bahert for information and the photo)

    In 2002:

  • Josip Pribilović
  • ing. Jakša Kalogjera
  • dr. Ante Fulgosi
  • Kapetanović family
  • Agata Djerek (posthumosly)
  • Nevenka Borić (or Barić?, posthumously)
  • Ante Kalogjera (posthumously)
  • Pera i Stanko Šiljeg (posthumously)
  • Hedviga i Vinko Kovačić (posthumously)

    In 2003:

  • Olga Rajšek Neumann;
    According to Esther Gitman, "It seems strange that she was awarded, and yet the person who was responsible for the resucue [i.e., Aloysius Stepinac] was not even mentioned." (see Gitman's monograph Alojzije Stepinac - Pillar of Human Rights, Zagreb 2019, footnote 105 on p. 157).
    Olga Rajšek Neumann became a rescuer of a Jewish child Danko Shtockhammer from the town of Pakrac. Danko needed a special care at the tender age of eight. The help of Aloysius Stepinac was crucial. Stepinac helped, among other things, in Placing Danko in a Catholic orphanage until the end of the war. (See p. 157 of Gitman's monograph.) On p. 158, Esther Gitman stated again the following: "However, it seems peculiar about Archbishop Stepinac, the person responsible for Danko's rescue, was not even mentioned at the ceremony." (Meaning the ceremony in Yad Vashem.)

    In 2005:

  • Ivana Bjelajec
  • Kata i Djuro Oružec
  • Jozefina Belić i Djurdja Belić Peternel

    In 2006:

  • Štefanija Podolski
  • Anka Crndić (posthumously)
  • Ljubica Lang (posthumosly)
  • Rudimir Roter (posthumously)

    In 2009:

  • č. majka Ana Marija Pavlović, 1895.-1971. (posthumously); she was hiding Zdenka Binnenstok Grunbaum from Osijek in Đakovo, from 1941-1945

    In 2010.

  • Smiljan Franjo Čekada (posthumosly)
  • In 2017:

  • Anton and Katarina Šragalj, Vrbovsko, for saving Lea Ukrainčik b. Gostl (many thanks to Mrs. Verica Thune b. Kostelić for this information)

According to [Vladimir Horvat SJ], by 2012 there were 156-170 Croats proclaimed as Righteous among the Nations.

Esther Gitman, in her monograph Alojzije Stepinac - Pillar of Human Rights, Zagreb 2019, wrote the following:

".... Finaly, in the late 1990s and early 2000, sixty Jewish survivors rescued by Stepinac wrote to the Remembrance Authority at Yad Vashem requesting that Dr. Alojzije Stepinac be recognized as a Righteous Gentile. Their request was not fulfilled because some officials maintained that there was no danger to his life and that he could have done more for the Jews. Yad Vashem's decision is less important, because it is politically motivated, what is important to mention over and again that there are documents and evidence that the lives of thousands of Jews were saved because of Stepinac. And there are 60 signed requests by survivors who acknowledge Archbishop Stepinac's responsibility for their rescue and surivival." (p. 158)

I know of several Croatian families who certainly deserve to enter the category of the Righteous, but for various reasons do not wish to be nominated. According to information I obtained from the Jewish community in Zagreb, as well as by the opinion of Ljubica Štefan, the overall number of Croatian Righteous could be several times larger.

Not only the Catholic Church, but also many individuals, families, and the whole villages in Croatia were involved in saving the Jews during WW2. For example:

  • for liberation of Josip Klein about 100 signatures has been collected by Croatian peasants around the town of Krapina near Zagreb
  • for liberation of Arpad Stern - 141 signatures (Gradec)
  • for Dragutin Stern - citizens of Vidovac near Varaľdin intervened
  • in November/December 1941, 76 peasants from Šestine (today a part of Zagreb) asked for permission that Jews can live freely in their village
  • villages of Hreljin (near Rijeka, see [Štefan, pp. 21-26]), Banski Kovačevac, and other.

For more details see [Krišto].

Also Croatian partisans were saving Jews (like 3500 Jews saved in 1943 from the island of Rab, with the help of local population; see below); and even high ustasha officials, like Slavko Kvaternik and Boľidar Cerovski (chief of the ustasha police), both sentenced to death in 1947.

Mr Natan Baruh, an American Jew, wrote a book "Detainee No. 179986" (published by the Union of Yugoslav Jewish communities in Belgrade in 1985). The author claims that he was saved by `Serbian peasants' on the island of Korčula (yes, `Serbian peasants' on Croatian island!). We hope that the Jewish community in Belgrade will correct this obvious misrepresentation in a new edition.

Saving the Jews in the town of Trpanj (Peljesac peninsula) and Korcula, written by professor Pero Cesvinić (Trpanj).

Dragutin Jesih (1895-1944), born in Zagreb, Stenjevec, ordained as a priest in Chicago in 1918, was Crotaian missionary in the USA in the period of 1918-1930, in the parishes of Gary / Indiana, Milwaukee and in West Allis / Wisconsin. Since 1930, served in Croatia. Assasinated in 1944. Righteous among the nations since 1992.

More information is available in

Ivan Nađ: Ščitarjevski župnik, mučenik Dragutin Jesih i braća svećenici obitelji Jesih, Zagreb 2019. ISBN 978-953-241-607-7, pp. 27-85

After capitulation of Fascist Italy in September 8, 1943, due to large scale German military operations in the region of Adriatic sea, the lifes of Jews in Fascist concentration camps on the island of Rab were in danger. Namely, it is well known that the Jews in these camps were treated with much care with Italian Fascists, alowing them to organize schools, orchestras, usage of local library, sweeming on beautiful beaches, which is well documented in archives of the Jewish community in Zagreb. Unfortunately this could not be said for nearby concentration camps for Slovenians and Croats, also held by Italian Fascists, led by infamous war criminal Mario Roatta. The death rate in these camps for non-Jews was about 30%, almost as in Nazi camps. See [Štefan, "Mitovi..."].

Upon the initiative of Croatian antifascists (partisans) and their highest political body called ZAVNOH, which had formed a special Commitee for evacuation and care for Jews (Komisija za evakuaciju i skrb Židova), a transportation of 3500 Jews from the endangered island of Rab had been organized in 1943 to the safe mainland in the region of Lika, across the largest Croatian mountain Velebit. This was possible only due large scale cooperation of local Croatian population, which took active part in this very complicated and extensive operation with their boats, food and everything else, see [Štefan, "Mitovi..."]. This operation seems to be much more complex and dangerous than the one in which the entire Jewish population was saved in Denmark in September 1943, with active secret participation of several German Nazi officials.
Denmark is the unique collective Righteous, which is due to the successful action of saving the entire Jewish community in this country. However, the success was due to the top secret information about Hitler's plan to arrest all Danish Jews, proceeded by a German official of the German ambassy in Denmark to Danish authorities, see [Štefan], p. 115. The information is based on the book by the witness - dr. Werner Best: Denmark in Hitler's Hands. We mention in passing a little known fact that some Nazi troups composed of Danish soldiers operated also in Croatia.

Though the number of Croatian Righteous does not show it, it seems that saving the Jews in Croatia was among the most intensive in the occupied Europe during WW2. Indeed, we know of individuals and families involved in saving the Jews, as well as whole villages, sportsmen, sport clubs, cultural and scientific institutions, clergy and convents led by Alojzije Stepinac, hospitals, ustashas (from prison guard to high officials, even ministers), and as we saw, the whole Croatian population of Croatian Primorje, and partisans.

I express my gratitude to the staff of the library of the Jewish community in Zagreb for their list of Croatian Rightous. The list is revised in 1998 according to the book "Stepinac i Židovi" by Ljubica Štefan. I express my gratitude also to Ljubica Štefan for her generous help.

Many thanks to Mr. Zdenko Milošević for sending me the photos of Anto and Vid Andrija Vidošević, along with the photo the corresponding Yad Vashem Certificate of Honor.

Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac and saving the Jews during the WW2