With covert Italian support, Pavelic launched a terror campaign against the Yugoslavian state. In October 1934 Ustase gunmen assassinated King Alexander and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou at Marseille, for which a Yugoslav court sentenced Pavelic to death in absentia.
Upon the German invasion and defeat of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Pavelic and his supporters established the Independent State of Croatia with the backing of Italy, which in return annexed portions of the Dalmatian coast and occupied the country. Following the Italian surrender in 1943, Pavelic's Ustase regime transferred its allegiance to Germany and remained a German client until the end of the war.
Pavelic, who proclaimed himself Poglavnik (leader), subjected Croatia to four years of terror. Bands of Ustase militia roamed the countryside, expelling or executing hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Muslims, Jews, and other minorities in an attempt to create a purely Croatian state. Roman Catholic priests in the Ustase forced the conversion of thousands of non-Catholics, mainly Orthodox Serbs. Aping the Nazis, the Ustase also established concentration camps in which tens of thousands of victims were exterminated. Ultimately, the lawlessness and violence of Pavelic's regime alienated it from the majority of Croatians and swelled the ranks of the Partisans. Moreover, such excesses also aroused grotesquely ironic protests from Pavelic's German overlords, who complained that Ustase abuses were hindering the establishment of order necessary for the exploitation of Croatia's economic resources.
Pavelic escaped abroad to Argentina from Croatia in May 1945. He died in exile in Madrid, Spain, on 28 December 1959. John M. Jennings
Paris, Edmond. Genocide in Satellite Croatia, 1941–1945: A Record of Racial and Religious Persecutions and Massacres. Chicago: American Institute for Balkan Affairs, 1962.; Tomasevich, Jozo. War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.; Truscott, Lucian K., Jr. The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry: Life in the Old Army, 1917–1942. Edited and with Preface by Lucian K. Truscott III and Foreword by Edward M. Coffman. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.
John M. Jennings