Nevenko Bartulin – The Question of the ‘Honorary Aryans’ in the NDH

The recent Serbian state exhibition on the Jasenovac concentration camp at the UN headquarters in New York (January 2018) has led to a renewed and heated debate between Croat and Serb politicians, historians and journalists on a number of topics related to the Second World War in the former Yugoslavia, especially the question of the number of (Serb) victims at Jasenovac. One of the topics discussed has been the question of anti-Semitism in both the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and Serbia under the puppet government of Milan Nedić. Croat commentators have been quick to remind their Serb counterparts of the role Nedić’s administration and Serbian police played in helping the German military authorities to deport Serbian Jews to concentration camps. Some Croat commentators have further reiterated the fact that the Ustaša authorities granted a small number of Jews – the so-called ‘honorary Aryans’ – the legal rights of Aryan citizens in the NDH. This fact has often been used to draw a distinction between the supposedly non-racial (i.e. religious) character of Ustaša anti-Semitism and the rigidly racist nature of National Socialist anti-Semitic policies. Although there is no doubt that anti-Semitism was much more central to National Socialism than it was to Ustaša ideology, the thesis that the existence of Jewish honorary Aryans is evidence of the non-racial nature of Ustaša nationalism proves, after a closer analysis, to be a seriously flawed argument.


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