Communist Yugoslavia Verdict Against Croatia’s Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Quashed

Zagreb County Court Friday 22 July 2016 centre: Judge Ivan Turudic, presiding Quashed 1946 communist Verdict against Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Photo: HINA/ Damir Sencar/ds

Zagreb County Court Friday 22 July 2016
centre: Judge Ivan Turudic, presiding
Quashed 1946 communist Verdict
against Blessed Aloysius Stepinac
Photo: HINA/ Damir Sencar/ds

A true, brilliant face of justice stepped out into the streets of Croatia and the world last Friday!
On 22 July 2016 Zagreb Country Court issued a judgment of great historical and political importance, announcing the complete annulment of the sentence against the archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, passed by the politically rigged communist Yugoslav court 70 years ago, in October 1946.
The Zagreb County court in Croatia, a panel of judges presided over by Judge Ivan Turudic, annulled, quashed the 1946 communist Yugoslavia treason conviction against Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, ruling that he did not receive a fair trial. Belgrade (Serbia) driven anti-Croat hoards, whose mission was to ensure that Croatia was the only Yugoslav federation state to be made responsible for the crimes of the holocaust on Yugoslav soil despite the fact that as a result of having exterminated 94% of Serbian Jews by mid-1942 Serbia’s WWII regime had been among the first European states “judenfrei” (Jew-free), had in 1946 charged and convicted Stepinac with crimes of collaboration with the pro-Nazi Ustashe regime.

Dr Esther Gitman (centre) presents Archbishop Aloysius (Alojzije) Stepinac to EU Parliament conference June 2016 Photo:

Dr Esther Gitman (centre)
presents Archbishop Aloysius (Alojzije) Stepinac
to EU Parliament conference
June 2016

In less than a month from the indictment, the communist People’s Court of Croatia found him guilty on all counts, and the verdict was handed down on October 11, 1946. Stepinac was found guilty on all charges. He received a sentence of 16 years of hard labor.
In 1950 a group of American Senators made freedom for Archbishop Stepinac a condition for American aid to Yugoslavia. Tito (Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito), eager to improve his relationship with the West, agreed to the deal with one stipulation: Stepinac must leave the country. Similarly, requests were made also by Pavelic (Ante Pavelic, leader of WWII Independent State of Croatia), in both cases, Stepinac refused to leave arguing he would remain with his people unless they take him by force.
Finally, in December 1951, Josip Broz Tito ordered Stepinac’s release, but sentenced him to house arrest in his native village of Krasic. In 1953, when he was elevated to Cardinal by pope Pius XII, When reporters asked him whether he will leave for that occasion he replied: ‘As long as Croatia is not free, the whole country is my prison.’ ‘My place is in Croatia with my people, not in the Vatican,” Dr Esther Gitman quote at EU Parliament presentation from Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia), 30 Fleet Street, London E. C. 4, England, February 1960, p. 1. Dr Esther Gitman is a leading world researcher of WWII archive facts that indisputably place Archbishop Aloysius (Alojzije) Stepinac as one of the leading rescuers of Jews and all other persecuted ethnic groups such as Serbs and Roma in WWII Independent State of Croatia. Indeed, in June 2011 Pope Benedict XVI praised Cardinal Stepinac as a courageous defender of those oppressed in Croatia during WWII, including Serbs, Jews and gypsies/Roma.

In February 1992 the parliament of Croatia had passed a “declaration of condemnation of the political process and judgment against Cardinal Dr Aloysius Stepinac” (click on link for pdf of the Declaration), which states that he was convicted as an innocent person “for having rejected the communist powers’ orders to bring about a schism in the Church and bring about the separation of the Croatian Catholic Church from Rome and Vatican, which had the far-reaching goal of the destruction of the Catholic Church as the eternal keeper and protector of Croatian people’s identity and freedom.
He was convicted because he stood against aggression and crimes of the communist regime, just as, in the storm and cruelties of WWII, he acted to protect the persecuted, regardless of their ethnic origins or religious outlooks. Although the Croatian people and the Catholic Church had never accepted the judgment against Archbishop Stepinac, the Croatian Parliament, as the highest representative body of Croatia, by expressing its clear position towards the unjust judgment against Cardinal Stepinac now corrects an historic injustice and insult against the Croatian people.
By condemning the show-trial and judgment against Archbishop Stepinac, the Croatian Parliament does at the same time condemn the political trials against numerous innocent priests, monks and believers as well as condemning the communist regime.”

Having overturned the 1946 verdict against Stepinac, Judge Ivan Turudic read the court’s findings, which concluded that the 1946 trial had violated the right to a fair trial, prohibition of forced labour and the right to appeal. He said the goal of that verdict had been “revenge against Stepinac“.
The judge said that the rigged politically motivated trial against Stepinac, violated the right to a fair trial as well as rules of the law-based state.

Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac in the 1946 communist rigged trial

Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac in the 1946
communist rigged trial

Judge Turudic said that it was evident from the minutes of the 1946 trial that prosecution’s witnesses had been instructed how to charge the defendant.
The fundamental crime Stepinac was charged with was the fact that he was at the time of NDH (WWII Independent State of Croatia) the Archbishop of Zagreb. He himself asked at the trial ‘Well, what was I supposed to do? Go into a forest or escape to London?’ He decided to remain with his people with whom he also remained during the Yugoslav Kingdom dictatorship and during Tito’s communist dictatorship,” Judge Turudic said. Turudic also said that while in prison Stepinac was offered to sign a pardon form issued by the communist authorities but that he refused the offer, instead, Stepinac asked for a re-trial before an independent court or the quashing of the verdict. Of course, such a request was refused.


Judge Turudic said the 1946 trial was a “rigged political process.”

After 70 years his will is fulfilled by the Croatian court in a free Croatian state and that is why this judgment has profound importance not only for the individual but also for the history of the Croatian people,” Judge Turudic concluded.

Boris Stepinac nephew of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Photo:

Boris Stepinac
nephew of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac


I’m very moved, I didn’t expect it would be resolved so quickly. I thank the Croatian judiciary for finally removing the stain which for years was not only put on the cardinal, but on the Catholic Church, the family, and the whole Croatian nation as well,” Cardinal Stepinac’s nephew who instigated the legal process for the review of the 1946 verdict, Boris Stepinac, told Croatian news media after the judgment was read out in the court. “Today, documents and arguments proved in a court that he was indeed a righteous man,” he added.

Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac

Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac

As expected the ruling fuelled protests and criticisms against Croatia, renewed false and hateful allegations that this ruling amounts to rehabilitation of the WWII Ustashe regime in Croatia. Such false allegations are concocted and propagated by the very top of Serbia’s leadership and its president Tomislav Nikolic stated that Stepinac was not tried and convicted in WWII Independent State of Croatia or today’s independent Croatia but in Yugoslavia, suggesting that Croatia had no jurisdiction to judge on judgment delivered in Yugoslav courts. This protest is enough to demonstrate how hopeless pursuits of truth and justice still are in Serbia. So, I choose to ignore any criticism on the matter coming from Serbia for Serbia’s leadership is evidently still incapable of separating true justice from political set-ups. Nikolic further stated that he relayed his opinion regarding Stepinac’s role in WWII to Pope Francis and I do trust that opinion has ended up where it came from: the dungeons of dangerous hatred against Croats Nikolic and his followers had demonstrated many a time, including during the genocidal Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990’s.

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac
Oil painting Croatian Church Chicago

In 1998 the late Pope John Paul II beatified Stepinac – putting him on the road to sainthood – during a visit to Croatia. While Pope Francis seemingly procrastinates as to the date when Aloysius Stepinac will be canonised and declare a Saint of the Catholic Church, the majority of Croatian people already regard him as a Saint.

Cardinal Josip Bozanic, celebrating the Eucharist, said in Zagreb on 25 June 2016: "God has already celebrated the sainthood of Aloysius Stepinac, and whoever goes against his image, goes against God". Photo: laudato,hr

Cardinal Josip Bozanic, celebrating the Eucharist,
said in Zagreb on 25 June 2016:
“God has already celebrated
the sainthood of Aloysius Stepinac,
and whoever goes against his image,
goes against God”.
Photo: laudato,hr

This Friday 22 July 2016 judgment from the Zagreb County Court clearly shows that justice is always reachable; that truth prevails in the end and justice wins. All we need is patience and persistence for the truth and in that spirit I would like to see a posthumous trial against Josip Broz Tito for all the crimes of his communism against innocent people and pray that somehow, in a brilliant world of the future, this will be judicially possible. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Ljiljana says:

    Good article but why not put proper spelling of his name. Alojzije Stepinac

    • I did write Alojzije a couple of times, Ljiljana, but since article is in English he is known as Aloysius, the English language equivalent of Alojzije. Thank you

  2. Reblogged this on Eyes of the Mind.

  3. Attache says:

    Serbia’s reaction does not surprise at all – Serbia fears that the trail of truth will force it to reveal the atrocities against Jews it helped Nazis commit during the war. And so in June this year it sent letters to EU parliament protesting against the exhibition and conference on Alojzije Stepinac. In these letters, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is unacceptable to organize an exhibition to glorify the figure and work of Stepinac, who is presented there as a “true gem of the Catholic Church and the Croatian people”.

    In 1946, the Supreme Court of Croatia – then a republic of Yugoslavia – sentenced Stepinac in Zagreb to 16 years in prison and loss of civil and political rights for a period of three years for his actions, abetting crimes, treason and collaboration with the Ustasha regime and for mass conversions of tens of thousands of Orthodox Serbs – the letters to EU said.

    So I reckon we just keep in line with the truth and Serbia will fold just like the 40 year sentence given in Hague to its boy Radovan Karadzic for genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina…

    • Yes I followed those despicable moves by Serbia’s government, Attache, thank you for reminding us

    • Ridiculous statement. Croatia and a large, though surely not most, of the Croat population has taken a hard shift to the right DELETED AS UNCORROBORATED

  4. Lastampa Vatican Insider says:

    La Stampa/ Italy: These statements from the Serbian president are further clear evidence that he opposition to Stepinac’s canonisation does not come mainly from Serbian Orthodox religious circles but from Serbian Chetnik-nationalist circles that see Stepinac’s canonisation as a political problem and a direct consequence – as Croatia’s Catholic bishops have pointed out often over the past few months – of Serbia’s historic hostility against Croatia and Serbia’s strong opposition to the existence of an independent Croatian state.

    • Thank you Lastampa – glad to see more such information – Croats will prevail on their own land and the truth will vindicate

  5. Truly a sad day and a travesty for mankind. I have faith that this pope, a spiritual leader for ALL of mankind, for all religions, will do the right thing. It is a set back in Orthodox-Catholic and Serbian- Croatian relations. On a deeper note, the current government in charge of Croatia continues to disappoint, stoking the darkest feelings of nationalism and DELETED AS UNCORROBRATED. This decision is a shame for all, Croats included. More and more, Croatia is embracing a hard line, nationalistic …DELETED AS UNCORROBORATED. The world has taken note and it is time this government changes, for the good of Croatia, the Balkans, and Europe in general.

    • Sorry Zach, needed to delete part of your comment as you are obviously an enemy of Croatian nation and this blog will not promote lies dressed up as facts. Of course threre is a set back in Serbian Croatian relations on account of this verdict, decent folk expected nothing less since Serbia still rides its high horse of denial

  6. Truly a judgement to be celebrated. But a couple of things to keep in mind:
    – the judgement does not proclaim Stepinac to be innocent, it is just that the trial was a farce; a great starting point and solid foundation for the Pope’s joint commission. Of course Serbia will misread this judgement and twist and distort it to fit their lunatic world view; how pathetic
    – what does this judgement say about the entire communist legal system? What other judgements need to be overturned or annulled? Further, if the Communist legal system was rigged, which is the very foundation of a society, it is certain then that many other parts, indeed the entire communist system was rigged and false, including historical facts. If this does not become crystal clear to Croatians now then we are doomed.

    • True, Sunman – the ruling only declares the communist verdict null and void and as to Stepinac’s innocence of the charges of collaboration there is enough evidence sourced by researchers of Yugoslav archives and witness statements to declare him innocent and indeed many have only a court has not because a re-trial is not possible. So we need to keep pointing to the evidence that proves him innocent even knowing that Serbs will never accept it for if they did they will be forced to consider their government’s deeds during those times.

  7. What a journey this man went through Ina.. and all for trying his best to help ALL.
    <3 Love to you my friend for All you are doing xx

  8. at last, at long last ………..

  9. Funny that Nikolic would say that Croatia has no jurisdiction over a Yugoslav Court ruling when the Serbian High Court rehabilitated Draža Mihailović on 14 May 2015 a ruling reverses the judgment passed in 1946 by Yugoslav courts.

    With regards to Stepinac’s sainthood, the Pope has set up a joint Catholic-Orthodox working group to look into Serbian objections (though it is not believed that this group will have any say into the final say). The Catholic side has sent three Bishops and two historians whilst the Orthodox side has sent four bishops and the Serbian ambassador to UNESCO. How do the Serbs propose to answer a historical question without the use of historians? They answer may be that they have not indention of doing so.

    • Yes it looks like Serbia thinks it can do what it likes when it comes to history – recent and not so recent. He/she is a fool who lets it. The Pope cannot stop the canonisation I believe but can prolong the process, FelixR

  10. so interesting

    • The world needs more of this Sedge – unearthing the communist oppression and crimes and then peace perhaps has a chance, one side cannot bear all the blame for the awful history that was had in WWII and communists have still a lot to answer for – Holocaust crimes have been the main pursuits really and communist ones were allowed to sleep and go unpunished…such double standards must stop I think

  11. Genocide is not cool, Ina, nor is its denial…..

    • Exactly Zach, that’s what I have been saying all along – the Holocaust crimes for example have been dealt with quite extensively since WWII but still not all done especially in Serbia which denies its role in the genocide of Serbia’s Jews for instance… at least Croatia’s part in it is constantly being dealt with and Jasenovac site exists…to your deleted comment this relates to your wrong assessment of where Croatia is politically etc, of course accusing it of things you provide no evidence for. To you review of Stepinac judgment is a political move to me and all normal people it is pursuit of justice and truth for the man who was innocent of crimes accused of. I believe you and I have nothing to talk about any more on this matter. Readers can make up their own minds

    • therealamericro says:

      @zach – Agreed, but tell that to the bloodthirsty Titoist Yugoslav Ultranationalists like Pusic and Mesic who deny the post-WWII genocide of unarmed surrendered soldiers and tens of thousands of women, children and elderly.

      • I reckon, therealamericro, the Zach that comments here would dearly love to pin all sorts of crimes against Stepinac just as communists did way back, many comments of his have been deleted as he tried to force such allegations as facts, but hey if he replies to your comment it will not pass unchecked – as per this blog’s policy.

  12. A victory for Croatia. A well-deserved victory. Hugs, Barbara

  13. God always lets the truth out, I am glad for Blessed Aloysius and for Croatia.

  14. Significant events and judgements like this always bring out the historically-challenged. Aka those who only care about truth & justice that comes with a specific political slant and only when it suits them. Doesn’t it astound these Stepinac naysayers that a Jewish woman still fights for the truth about Stepinac to be recognised, despite whatever crimes were committed during NDH and whatever Croatia’s current political situation is? Or do they ignore the work of Dr. Esther Gitman (and similar) because it doesn’t suit their version of reality? I for one, am forever grateful there are people like Dr. Gitman because I believe that ultimately they’ll do more than any politician to bring about reconciliation and justice. Let’s keep the momentum.

    • Yes Kat, politics have been barricading the truth from official recognition and proliferation in this case and perhaps mostly to keep communists happy and perhaps Serbia, which really irritates to the core. However, I understand that yesterday the Croatian Foreign and European matters ministry has sent a deeply stern and sharp letter to Serbia condemning Serbia’s appalling and hateful reaction to this Stepinac verdict annulment. So, things starting to look up – hopefully

  15. I really hope it sinks in for you one of these days, Ina. DELETED

    • I was hoping you understood by now that your deleted comments have nothing to do with Blessed Stepinac, Zach, and represent a hateful attack without provocation and insult as to any figures you mention I would remind you that no source has given 100% proof just estimates and as to deportations you speak of perhaps you’d like to read ICTY Appeals Chamber judgment in case of Croatian Generals: RULING: NO FORCED DEPORTATION. Good bye

  16. Ina do you have details of his fellow prisoners that were also pardoned? A relative of mine was in jail with him but can’t find any mention of him.

    • Np I don’t Joe, I believe the annulment of judgment against Stepinac was brought about as his nephew brought the case to a Croatian court in recent years so this court case did not I believe include others, however I believe the Croatian Parliament in 1992 had condemned all judgments from 1946 by communist Yugoslavia court and I am not sure whether these condemnations have gone through courts to receive annulments under the law. If, not, they surely should get under the scrutiny of courts of justice

  17. Reblogged this on LOOKING FOR THE LIGHT BLOG and commented:
    Ina Vukic is a tireless volunteer on humanitarian aid and fundraising for victims of war in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially war orphans. Ina was awarded two medals of Honor by the first President of the Republic of Croatia in 1995. Her Blog is a wealth of knowledge, present and past. Please visit Ina’s site.

  18. Thank you for passing the great news on, Arlin


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  2. […] since the Croatian court quashed the communist Yugoslavia verdict against the Blessed Alysius (Alojzije) Stepinac on 22 July 2016, Serbia’s government leadership and President (Prime Minster Aleksandar Vucic, […]

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  4. […] county court in July last year also annulled a verdict convicting Croatian WWII-era Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, arguing that he did not get a fair trial under the Yugoslav Communist […]

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