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Mile Budak (30 August 1889 – 7 June 1945) was a Croatian politician and writer best known as one of the chief ideologists of the Croatian fascist Ustaša movement, which ruled the Independent State of Croatia during World War II in Yugoslavia from 1941–45 and waged a genocidal campaign of extermination against its Roma and Jewish population, and of extermination, expulsion and religious conversion against its Serb population.

Mile Budak
Mile Budak
3rd Foreign Minister of the Independent State of Croatia
In office
23 April 1943 – 5 November 1943
LeaderAnte Pavelić
Preceded byMladen Lorković
Succeeded byStijepo Perić
Ambassador to Nazi Germany
In office
2 November 1941 – 23 April 1943
1st Minister of Education of the Independent State of Croatia
In office
16 April 1941 – 2 November 1941
LeaderAnte Pavelić
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byStjepan Ratković
President of the Croatian State Leadership
In office
12 April 1941 – 16 April 1941
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born(1889-08-30)30 August 1889
Sveti Rok, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
Died7 June 1945(1945-06-07) (aged 55)
Zagreb, FPR Yugoslavia
Political partyUstaše
OccupationPolitician, writer

Youth and early political activitiesEdit

Mile Budak was born in Sveti Rok, in Lika, which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[1] He attended school in Sarajevo and studied law at the University of Zagreb.[2] In 1912, he was arrested by Austro-Hungarian authorities over his alleged role in the attempted assassination of Slavko Cuvaj, Croatian ban (viceroy).

Ustaše periodEdit

Budak after the assassination attempt, 1932
Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini and Mile Budak meeting in occupied Sarajevo, 1943.

Budak and Vladko Maček served as lawyers representing Marko Hranilović and Matija Soldin at trial amid the January 6th Dictatorship. On 7 June 1932, he survived an assassination attempt by operatives close to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Afterwards, he migrated to Italy to join the Ustaše and become the commander of an Ustaše training camp.[1] In 1938, he returned to Zagreb where he began publishing the weekly newspaper Hrvatski narod. In 1940, the authorities banned the newspaper and he was arrested.[3] On 31 March 1941, in a joint letter to Hitler, Pavelić and Budak asked him "to help Croatian people establish an independent Croatian state that would encompass the old Croatian regions, among them Bosnia and Herzegovina".[4]

When the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed, Budak became the state's chief propagandist[5] and Minister of Education and Faith.[6] As such, he publicly stated that forcible expulsion and religious conversion of the ethnic Serb minority was the official national policy. Budak signed the Ustashe regime's racial laws against Serbs, Jews, and Roma.[7] Croatian novelist Miroslav Krleža described Budak as "a minister of culture with a machine gun".[1] In a speech in Gospić on 22 July 1941, he declared: "The movement of the Ustashi is based on faith. For the minorities we have three million bullets. We shall kill one part of the Serbs, expel the second part, and convert to Catholicism the third part of them".[8] This exposition of Ustaše policy is attributed to Budak.[9]

He later became Croatian envoy to Nazi Germany (November 1941 – April 1943) and foreign minister (May 1943 – November 1943).[10][11] When the Independent State of Croatia collapsed, Budak was captured by British military authorities and handed over to Tito's Partisans on 18 May 1945. He was court-martialled (before the military court of the 2nd Yugoslav army) in Zagreb on 6 June 1945 and was sentenced to death by hanging the same day. His execution the following day took place exactly 13 years after the assassination attempt on his life.[12] During the trial, Budak behaved cowardly, constantly weeping, and claiming he was not guilty of anything.[13]

Literary workEdit

Budak was known for his literary work, especially novels and plays in which he had glorified Croatian peasantry. His works included Ognjište (The Hearth),[14] Opanci dida Vidurine (Grandpa Vidurina's Shoes),[15] Rascvjetana trešnja (The Blossoming Cherry Tree).

About Budak's writing, E.E. Noth wrote: "Here we find the stubborn, spiritual-realistic conception of man and his relation to the soil on which he lives and which Mile Budak symbolizes as 'the hearth'".[16]

After the war his books were banned by Yugoslav Communist authorities. Thus, many Croatian nationalists viewed Budak as a great figure of Croatian literature, equal, if not superior to the leftist Miroslav Krleža.[2] Following Croatian independence in the early 1990s, the Croatian Democratic Union badly wanted to reinterpret the fascist Ustasha quislings of World War II as a Croatian patriotic force. Hence, the reissue in early 1993 of the collected works of Mile Budak,the second-in-command in the Ustasha regime. Commenting, at the time of this reissue, Croatian writer Giancarlo Kravar wrote: "... Ustashism, in its history, was undoubtly also a positive political movement for the state-building affirmation of Croatianism, the expression of the centuries-long aspiration of the Croatian people"[17]

For others, Budak was "a mediocre Croatian author",[18] "a mediocre writer at best",[19] "a writer of middling originality and imagination"[20] or a writer which literary work is "average and without lasting value".[21]


As of August 2004, there were seventeen cities in Croatia which had streets named after Budak.[22] As of August 2012, at least one street in Bosnia and Herzegovina is named after Budak (in Mostar). The Archdiocese of Zagreb declared at one point[when?] that it had no objection to the erection of a monument dedicated to the dead Ustaša leader.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Profile Archived 2009-07-02 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 8 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b Contemporary Croatian literature by Ante Kadić, published by Mouton, 1960 (page 50)
  3. ^ Review of International Affairs: Politics, Economics, Law, Science, Culture by Federation of Yugoslavic Journalists (Savez novinara Jugoslavije, Socijalistički savez radnog naroda Jugoslavije), published by The Federation, 1953, p. 25
    On 4 March 1940, Stepinac intervened with Šubašić, at the request of Prof. Lukas and Starčević, in favour of arrested Budak, who was sentenced to death by hanging after the war, as a war criminal (Book II, p. 440)
  4. ^ Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War by Enver Redžić, Routledge, 2005; ISBN 0-7146-5625-9, ISBN 978-0-7146-5625-0, page 68
  5. ^ Yugoslavia as History: Twice There was a Country by John R. Lampe, Cambridge University Press, 2000; ISBN 0-521-77401-2, ISBN 978-0-521-77401-7 (p. 208)
  6. ^ This is Artukovic by Devon Gaffney, B.A. Starcevic, published by s.n., 1958 (p. 51)
  7. ^ To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia by Michael Parenti, Verso, 2002 p. 45
    The full text of the racist law was published in Narodne novine from 4 June 1941. with and titled as "Zakonske odredbe o zaštiti narodne i arijske kulture hrvatskog naroda"
  8. ^ Cymet, David (2010). History Vs. Apologetics: The Holocaust, the Third Reich, and the Catholic Church. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 334. ISBN 978-0-73913-293-7.
  9. ^ Triple Myth by Stella Alexander, Columbia University Press, 1987.
  10. ^ The war we lost: Yugoslavia's Tragedy and the Failure of the West by Constantin Fotitch, published by Viking Press, 1948 (page 122)
  11. ^ War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration by Jozo Tomasevich, published by Stanford University Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8047-3615-4, ISBN 978-0-8047-3615-2 (page 317)
  12. ^ Politička i ekonomska osnova narodne vlasti u Jugoslaviji za vreme obnove by Branko Petranović, published by Institut za savremenu istoriju, Beograd 1969 (page 201)
  13. ^ Hrvatska 1945 by Bogdan Radica, published by Knjižnica Hrvatske revije, 1974 (page 185)
    Svojim ravnodušnim, da ne kažem ciničkim glasom, kaže mi da se na procesu najsramotnije i najkukavičkije držao Mile Budak. Neprestano je plakao govoreći da on nije ni za što kriv.
  14. ^ Herdfeuer. Roman. [Berecht. Uebersetzung aus d. Kroatischen von Franz Hille] by Mile Budak, published by K. H. Bischoff Verl. (1943).
  15. ^ Opanci dida Vidurine by Mile Budak, Sandra Belčić, Zagrebačka stvarnost, 2001; ISBN 953-192-071-0, ISBN 978-953-192-071-1
  16. ^ Books Abroad: A Quarterly Publication Devoted to Comments on Foreign Books by Roy Temple House, Ernst Erich Noth, University of Oklahoma, 1940 (p. 329)
  17. ^ Social Currents in Eastern Europe: The Sources and Consequences of the Great Transformation by Sabrina P. Ramet, 2nd edition, Duke University Press, 1995; ISBN 0-8223-1548-3, ISBN 978-0-8223-1548-3 (p. 418)
  18. ^ B. Helleland, C.-E. Ore & S. Wikstrøm (eds.) Names and Identities, Oslo Studies in Language 4(2), 2012. (ISSN 1890-9639) p. 213
  19. ^ Croats Face The Past in Balkan Report: May 12, 2000, Volume 4, Number 35
  20. ^ Jasenovac and Holocaust Memorial Foundation, Mile Budak entry
  21. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The Three Yugoslavias: State-building and Legitimation, 1918-2005. Indiana University Press. p. 742.
  22. ^ To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia by Michael Parenti, Verso, 2002; ISBN 1-85984-366-2, ISBN 978-1-85984-366-6 (p. 45)
  23. ^ Democratic Transition in Croatia: Value Transformation, Education & Media By Sabrina P. Ramet, Davorka Matić, Texas A&M University Press, 2007 (p. 17)