SLAVKO KVATERNIK

SLAVKO KVATERNIK (Vučinić Selo, near Vrbovsko, 1878 – Zagreb, 1947), politician and general

After graduating from the Military Academy he began his career in the Austro-Hungarian Army and the Army of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. When he retired in 1921 he had reached the rank of colonel.

He married Olga Frank, daughter of the prominent Rights Party politician, Josip Frank, with whom he had two daughters and a son, Eugen, who became a leader of the Ustasha movement.

Upon his retirement he became a member of the Croatian Rights Party, and then a member of the Ustasha movement. With Ante Pavelić he organised the strengthening of the Ustasha military apparatus in Brescia in 1932.

After the assassination of King Alexander Karađorđević, he was interned in Montenegro (1934-1935) and upon his return was appointed Director of the Croatian Workers’ Union (1936-1941) at the recommendation of Vladko Maček.

He continued to work for the interests of the Ustasha movement and forged links with Croatian officers in the Army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He founded an association called Uzdanica, which brought together sympathisers and members of the Ustasha movement at home.

From early April 1941 he worked to establish the Independent State of Croatia, and on 10 April 1941 proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia on Zagreb Radio. He was a member of the Ustasha Headquarters, a military commander, an Ustasha knight, the Poglavnik’s deputy and the Minister for Home Defence.

He took part in a meeting in the German Embassy in Zagreb on 4 June 1941, when measures were agreed with representatives of the Third Reich for forcibly transferring Slovenes from the territory of the Third Reich to Serbia and the Independent State of Croatia, and the final solution to the Serbian question in the Independent State of Croatia was also agreed. This meant the forcible transfer of Serbs to Serbia, mass executions in the field and deportation to concentration camps.
He worked on establishing and organising the armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia.

Because he did not agree with the political methods of terror advocated by his son, Eugen Dido Kvaternik, the growing stranglehold on power held by the Poglavnik, Pavelić, and following the suicide of his wife, Olga (probably because she herself was of Jewish extraction and was distressed by the parts played by her husband and son in persecuting Jews), he withdrew to Austria on 29 December 1942.

After the collapse of the Independent State of Croatia he was arrested by the Americans and handed over to the authorities of the Federal People Republic of Yugoslavia on 9 September 1946. He was sentenced to death on 7 June 1947.