Yugoslav Nationalist Youth Groups

Figure 1.--Here boys of the Adriatic Guard practice their rowing skills, we thinkn in the 1930s. Other boys are sailing. This may have been a kind of sports club. Note that there are no life preservers.

Yugoslav had a range of nationalist organizations, but this is very complicated because many were ethically based and not national organizations. I believe there were also organizations with religious and political foundations and well as groups with over-lapped these various elements. Building a natinalist youth organization in such a divided country would have been difficult, but there were many different youth groups in the various constiuent parts of Yugoslavia. After the German World War II invasion, Yugoslavia was partinioned between Germzany, Italy, and their Balkan partners. Croatia became a NAZI ally. Presumably they had some form of NAZI youth group. There may have been other Fascist groups formed in the other areas occupied Yugoslavia. The Hitler Youth was established in the area of Slovenia annexed to the Reich. We have very limited information about these Yugoslav organizations, but have foynd some informatioin on Croatia.


We have obtained some information about nationalist youth groups in Croatia during the inter-War and World War II eras. We suspect that similar groups were organized in the other constituent parts of Yugoslavia.

Adriatic Guard

We note references to the Adriatic Guard duruing the 1930s. We are not sire if this time if it was an exclusively Croation group or was active in the other Yugoslav republics. It was a boys' group. We initially thought that the age a boy had to be to join was 11 upwards. However, photographs suggest that boys younger than 11 could join. One photograph shows a mixed age range of boys. Two of them seem to be aged only about 9 years. The movement seems to have been more prevalent in towns and cities close to the Adriatic coastline. It seems to have functioned somewhat like the British Sea Scouts or perhaps more likely a sports club. The purpowe was to develop a love of the sea and its environs and nautical skills in the boys. Most of the photographs we have found of the group the the Croatian city of Split. The boys wore a white sailor suit uniform. They are also shown in rowing boats enjoying the sea. There was a membership card and various little badges which show that they are members of the movement rather than achievement badges. The children were grouped according to age and their seamanship skills. Novices would start in the beginning group and work through the different proficiency levels. Older boys look very military in their uniform but I think the photograph shows the instructors. I am unsure as to whether it was a youth movement for later recruitment the navy. I am inclined to thing that this was not its purpose.

Hrvatski Sokol (Croatian Falcon)

Hrvatski Sokol ment Croatian falcon. I believe that Sokol was a national organization. We have noted Sokol in other countries as well, such as Czechoslovakia. Sokol was a social and gymnastic society. It may have also been involved in nationalist agitation. The Hrvatski Sokol was the Croation unit of the organization. Hrvatski means Croatian. The Hrvatski Sokol had beige uniforms. The organization was disolved after the Yugoslav government cracked down on Croatian nationsalists. when the Yugoslav Govern

Hrvatski Krizari (Croatian Crusaders)

The Hrvatski Krizari were the Croatian Crusaders. One member reports meeting in Franciscan cloisters. The Franciscans, often referred to as the Grey Friars (because if the color of their habit) were strongly associated with Croatian nationalism. They helped maintain the Catholic faith during several centuries of Ottoman occupation. I do not know much about the nature of this organization, but there appears to have been a strong religious element.

Marijina Kongregacija (St. Mary's Congregation)

This is another youth organization with a Catholic religious foundation. Jesuites seem toi have been active as leaders. Members were teenage students. There were religious activities as well as arange of recreation ewhich may have varied from unit to unit. Some members report skating and volleyball. There were commonly facilities with games such as table tennis and billiards. There were also orchestras and amateur theater groups.

Zrinski (Sports Club)

Hrvatski Junak (Croatian Brave) (1939-41)

The Yugoslav Government in an effort to defuse ethnic tensions, granted Croatia (Banovina Hrvatska) autonomy within Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1939). The Peasant Party of Croatia founded its youth group auxillery, the Hrvatski Junak ("Croatian Brave"). It was an organization for boys and girls. The uniform for both had a blue cap.

Ustaska Mladez (Ustasa Youth) (1941-45)

The NAZIs invaded and quickly occupied Yugoslaviaduring orld war II (April 1941). Croatian nationalists known as the Ushtashi declared Croatia's independence and the country began a loyal NAZI ally. The new Croatian state (NDH) created a youth group mimiking the Hitler Youth. Hrvatski Junak was converted into the Ustaska Mladez (Ustasa Youth). Membership was manditory. Children and youth had to join. In particular, there was no way children at school could avoid joining when classes resumed (Fall 1941). This was a group with a strong Fascist orientation. The uniform cap had a big letter "U" with a bomb in it--the badge of the NDH Ustasa regime. Youth as young as 15 years of age were given paramilitary training. They helped police or Ustasa secret police arrest, abduct and transport unfortunates to the prisons or camps where most were killed. Few ever returned alive. [Springer]





Slovenia after the NAZI invasion was split between and Ita;ian and German occupation zone. The Hitler Youth was established in the area of Slovenia annexed to the Reich.



Springer, Zvonko Z. "The youth organizations prior &during WW2 in Croatia".


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Created: 10:44 PM 4/26/2007
Last updated: 12:04 AM 7/15/2013