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Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945)

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by dov gutterman
Keywords: croatia | hrvatska | poglavnik | vojskovodja | airforce | fin flash | ustasa |
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[Independent State of Croatia]
State Flag
by Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

Civil Flag
by Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

See also:


After the breakdown of Yugoslavia in 1941 a quisling regime proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia. The flag was again red white blue with a symbol of the leading pro nazi party Ustasa, a chequered red and white with letter U above in a wattle.
Zeljko Heimer, 14 October 1995

I read that back than Croatia technically was a kingdom under the absentee King Tomislav II, the Italian Duke of Spoleto. Did he have a royal flag?
Mark Sensen, 30 September 1999

Not that I'm avare of. He was never crowned, and technically he was not the king, but prince . He might have used some flag of his own in Italy (though it seems that he was quite reluctant to take the claim), but there was none "waiting" for him in Croatia.
Zeljko Heimer, 4 October 1999

I just took a quick glance on the ever improving pages at I noticed the added WWII section. I was wandering about the sources of the Croatian WWII flags. The national flag is of no question, of course (though the offiicial ratio were both 2:3 or 2:5). Regarding the naval flag and the naval jack - there are some doubts. From the official sources (official gazettes and similar) the only naval flag ever adopted is from 1941, equal to the design as shown as naval jack (though with inverted red and white squares, I believe, but I'll check once more against the exact wording from gazettes). The other flags that are sometimes seen (as in Znamierowski '99 book) are not documented in Croatian sources, as far as I am aware. Though, I have a set of notes (copies, of course) from Neubecker collection, courtesy Emil Dreyer, that show a set of some dozen flags for naval use (admirals, pennants etc) dated 1944 and supposedly prepaired for update of the great Flaggenbuch, I was unable to confirm those designs in Croatia. They are shown on my pages and reported to FOTW (and published in Banderas by Dr. Dreyer in early 1990's).
These 1944 set have the tricolour with the complete CoA, similar to the design shown as naval ensign, but there the CoA is offset to hoist, and it also include the naval jack of the chequy design.
On the other hand, there are some other flags, well documented that may be of interest, and these include the leader's (Poglavnik) standard, the air force flag (ensign) and one or two more.
Zeljko Heimer, 22 December 2000

On May 18, 1941 governments of Independent State of Croatia and Kingdom of Italy concluded an agreement called Contracts of Rome. Besides other regulations, this Croatian state had to become Kingdom of Croatia with an Italian duke (Duke of Spoleto) as Croatian king Tomislav II. At that time, ISC was shortly called "Kingdom of Croatia", however, this idea was firstly postponed, then abandoned. So, symbols of such planed kingdom probably never existed in any serious ideas.
Law Decree on State Coat-of-Arms, State Flag and Other State Symbols on April 18, 1941:
The coat-of-arms of the Independent State of Croatia is a shield with 25 square fields; white (silver) and red (colour
of blood), assembled alternate in five rows with the first field white (silver). Over the coat-of-arms is a sign in form of star-like triple wattle curl of the same red colour which encircle white field in which is large letter U of dark blue colour.
The flag of the Independent State of Croatia is a flag with three horizontal placed fields: highest is red (colour of blood), under it white and under it blue. Height of this flag according to its width is in ratio 2:3 or 2:5. In the middle of white field is state coat-of-arms of the Independent State of Croatia without triple wattle curl. It is placed so that the distance from red and white field is equally long as it is long an edge of one square in coat-of-arms. On red field near hoist a curl is placed, equal to one at coat-of-arms. It is made red, so that it's field was left white. In its white field is large dark blue letter U. This state flag is using everywhere except at the Naval forces. Everywhere in the state except on state or local administration buildings remains until further regulation in usage up to now used Croatian civil flag: red, white and blue horizontally placed.
Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

As far I know duke of Spoletto was king but never was in Croatia. I suspect that no royal standart existed.
Jaume Ollé, 31 August 2001

During WW2 Muslims were considered Croats "of diferent faith" and were incorporated into Ustasha's Independent State of Croatia. There was no flags indicating that as far as I am aware (though, for example medals and orders were made in separate versions for Muslims where there were crosses for Christians).
Zeljko Heimer, 7 August 2002

State Flag - Variant

by Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

Coat of Arms

by Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

by Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

There were basically two types of shields which were used by this puppet state, created by will of German and Italian occupying forces on April 10, 1945. One was of the same style as it was all other coat-of-arms in Croatian history from 1867 - so it was a round one, and another was with pointed lower part. Both were equally represented. Also the curl had more versions.
Janko Ehrlich - Zdvorak, 31 August 2001

Air-Force Flag

by Zeljko Heimer, 27 December 1999

While we were discussing here the flags and ensigns of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), a question was arosed about the exsistance of the Air Force ensign. It is not shown in the famous Neubecker book [1] (see bibliography below), and in other sources that mention it (notably Emil Dreyer [2]) either refer directly or indirectly to David Littlejohn [3] (which I have not seen) or to Dreyer's article. I have done the same on my flag pages [4], and when I was pointed out that there is a question about the existance of this flag, I left the issue open not being able to provide some stronger evidence either pro or contra.
I may be able now to show that there was indeed such a flag prescribed by official legislation. I was generously given copies of the contemporary gazettes that mention it by a visitor of my pages, Mr. Krunoslav Mikulan from Cakovec, Croatia.
As it is known, the law [5] that introduced the national flag of the Independent State of Croatia, as well as Poglavnik's standard and naval ensign in April 1941 did not mention the Air Force at all. However, already in May 1941 it was issued as separate law [6] that defined the Air Force ensign and airplane markings. It was probably issued in the official gazette, but the source that I have is the Gezette of the Armed Forces, which reprinted the law in full, and I guess have the same legal power. Unfortunaely, it does not mention the official gazette of the "original" issue (lake the next one does, as it shall be seen), but that can easily be determined.
The law consists of five simple articles, which are best given in full (my translation, AF = Air Force):

Art. 1.
The flag of the Independent State of Croatia Air Force is of 25 rectangular fields, white and red (blood colour), ordered interchangably in 5 rows, so that in the first upper row the starting field is white. The rectangles are in ratio of height to width = 2:3. The flag is bordered with blue border of 1/6 width of the height of one field. In the first 2 fields of the first (upper) row is set an eagle in black-silver colour. That flag is hoisted on the AF Commands and on all air fields from sunrise to sundown.

Art. 2.
The nationality marking is a shild of 25 rectangular fields, white and red (blood colour) ordered interchangably in 5 rows, so that the first field is white. This marking is carried on all airplanes, so:
a) on right upper wing marking in ratio with wing depth = 1:5;
b) on lower side of wing on right and left in ratio to wing depth = 1:2;
c) on vertical plane on right and left side in ratio to the vertical plane height = 1:2.

Art. 3.
The images of the AF Flag and nationality markings are integral part of this decision.

Art. 4.
The implementation of this decision is given to the AF Commander.

Art. 5
This decision is effective on the day of issue in the official gazette.

In Zagreb, 20th May 1941.
Vojskovodja [=Marchal] Slavko Kvaternik, m.p.

Poglavnik [="Leader"] Dr. Ante Pavelic/, m.p.

So, the date of adoption of the AF ensign (side note: the word for flag and ensign in Croatian is the same generic word for flag, and I used "flag" in the translation for precision, but here "ensign" may be of better use) is 20-MAY-1941. The day of the effectivnes of the decision is not known (as I do not know the date of issue in the official gazette), but I believe that it is between 20 and 24 MAY 1941, since I guess that the law was first issued the the official gazette and then only in the military gazette.
From the same source there is in 1943 given the text of another decision [7] that includes the AF ensign into the "general" flag law
of 1941. There is no need of full translation (since in many cases it is fragmentary, giving instructions to include the AF ensign among other symbols defined with that law). Unfortunately, I have only fragment of that law - the first page with four articles, but that seems to include all of the importance.
The article 2 give description of the AF ensign the same as in 1941 law, but with slightly more detailed description of the eagle:
[On first two fields there is] in silver colour embroderied, and in black outlined and hatched symbol of a flying eangle. The size of the symbol is: length 15/10 of a rectangle width, and height is 5/10 of the rectangle height....That flag is used on all air fields, offices and barracs of the military air force.
Article 3 define nationality markings (only described, without the size and position prescription as in 1941 law), but it also introduce the marking for non-military (civilian) aircrafts. That marking is
entierly the same as the AF ensign, but without the eagle. However, on should not that it is not mentioned that it is to be used as flag, so it is not civil aviation flag, only marking on aircrafts.
As I said, the end of the law is missing, so I do not know the details of the effectivnes date and similar, but that is of minor importace, as it is mainly only "confirmation" of the existing laws.

1. Otfried Neubecker: Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu39] with later additions
2. Emil Dreyer: Croacia, in BANDERAS nr. 19, June 1986. [ban]
3. David Littlejohn: Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, Vol. 3, R James Bender Publishing, San Jose, California, 1985.
4. Zeljko Heimer: The Flags and Arms of the Modern Era,, 1996-1999, consulted 20-DEC-1999.
5. Zakonska odredba o drzavnom grbu, drzavnoj zastavi, Poglavnikovoj zastavi, drzavnom pecatu i pecatima drzavnih i samoupravnih ureda, 28. travnja 1941, Narodne Novine 15/CV, Zagreb, 30. travnja 1941. (Legal decision on the state coat of arms, the state flag, the Poglavnik's flag, the state seal and the seals of the state and selfgoverning offices, 28-APR-1941, Official Gazette, 30-APR-1941)
6. Zakonska odredba o zastavi zracnih snaga Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske i o oznaci drzavnosti na aeroplanima zracnih snaga Nezavisne Drzave Hravtske, 20. svibnja 1941, Vjesnik vojnih naredaba i zapovjedi za cjelokupnu oruzanu snagu Nezavisne Drzave Hrvatske, br. 9, 24. svibnja 1941.(Legal decision on the flag of the Independent State of Croatia Air Force, and on the nationality markings on the aircrafts of the Independent State of Croatia Air Force, 20-MAY-1941, Gazette of the military orders and commands for the entire armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia, nr. 9, 24-MAY-1941)
7. Zakonska odredba o dopuni zakonske odredbe o drzavnom grbu, drzavnoj zastavi, Poglavnikovoj zastavi, drzavnom pecatu i pecatima drzavnih i samoupravnih ureda od 28. travnja 1941. broj XXXVII-53- Z.p.-1941, Vjestnik Ministarstva oruzanih snaga, br. 48/III, Zagreb, 27. studena 1943, pretiskano iz Narodnih novina br. 269 od 24. XI. 1943. (Legal decision on additions to the legal decision [nr. 5 above], Gazette of the Ministry of Armed Forces, reprint from the Official gazette nr. 269, 24-NOV-1943)
Zeljko Heimer, 27 December 1999

Aircraft Marking

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

by Ferenc Gy. Valoczy, 2 July 2003

The Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945) Airforce used a chequred shield (5X5) as fin flash . This was use also as a roundel between 1941-1944. It looks like the Air-Force Flag , but remove the emblem and the blue border.
Dov Gutterman, 8 Febuary 2000

I'm not sure about that. IIRC, the air markings are defined in the same legal acts defining the air force flag that I posted recently. I haven't given it much consideration then, but IIRC, the making was 2:3, just the same as the naval ensign. However, I'll have to check that. It is another question how much these legal acts were followed and what was sued in practice. There are several good books on Croatian WWII air force (both civil and military, however small they were), If I am not wrong, some sources give air markings to be a form of a chequry shield.
Zeljko Heimer, 16 Febuary 2000

Military Aircraft Insignia of the World [cos98] report two roundels for Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945). It report the aircraft marking for 1941-1944 in the shape of chequry shield (see <>). However, note the differnce in order of sqares between Ferenc Gy. Valoczy image (corners in red) and [cos98] (corners in white).
Since the Independent State of Croatia Air Force emblem seen on their flag was with white corners (see also <>), I belive Ferenc is wrong.
This insingnia was in use until 1944 when it was replaced to more "axix-like" roundel as seen at <>. The Independent State of Croatia Air Force emblem used as fin flash. This Independent State of Croatia Air Force was dissolved in 1945.
Dov Gutterman, !5 June 2004

State Flag - Construction Sheet

by Zeljko Heimer