Politics Sport

Croatian Flag in the European Championship

Suppose the German football team appeared on the field wearing a swastika.  What would happen?

Do I need to ask?  In the first place, it would never occur, but, stretching the imagination to breaking point, if it did there would be outcry.  Rioting across Europe.  The Germans would be banned from international football, and worldwide opprobrium would fall on their heads.

Suppose the German State incorporated a swastika into its national flag.  What would happen?

No.  That’s so ludicrous that I can’t even put it to you as a hypothetical, because Germany has come to terms with its Nazi past in a way never before witnessed in history.  An entire country went into collective remorse and lived in guilt for fifty years.

And yet, the chequerboard symbol on the Croatian flag, and on the players’ shirts, is just as redolent of a Nazi past as the swastika is.  The chequered pattern was the symbol of the appalling Ustasha, the most bloodthirsty fascist movement in Europe during WWII.

Ante Pavelic’s Ustasha government was so savage in its butchery of Serbs, Muslims and other non-Catholics that it disturbed even its German Nazi masters.  A Gestapo report says The number of the Orthodox that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand. The Gestapo thought they were sadistic, for God’s sake!

When Croatia seceded from the Yugoslav Federation, and TuÄ‘man insisted on adopting the chequered flag, it carried such terrifying connotations of genocide that it contributed hugely to the alienation of the Croatian Serb population.  That symbolism fuelled the fears underlying the uprising of the Krajina Serbs in Knin, and the subsequent horrors visited on Croat and Bosnian alike by the JNA and its proxies.

And this is why, though Croatia play some of the most attractive football anywhere, and though Turkey is a vile state in thrall to its military, I’m sorry Croatia have just scored in extra time.

It’s also why, two minutes later, I’m relieved that Turkey equalised.

As I watch, Croatia miss two penalties and have a third saved.  They’re out and I’m glad.

It’s not because I dislike Croatia.  They’ve always played attractive football and I take no satisfaction in their defeat.

I just can’t find any empathy for a team wearing a swastika.


Update: The Croatian hate-mail has started to roll in, and they’re pretty pissed off.  My favourite so far is the guy who thinks the Eurovision post was written by a real Serb.

Whatever other qualities Croatians possess, a sense of irony doesn’t seem to be one of them, but of course, they’re really Germans anyway, aren’t they?



Serbian Victory in Eurovision Song Contest

Genocide in Bosnia

55 replies on “Croatian Flag in the European Championship”

This year, the Croatian Parliament accepted Mr. Tudjman’s recommendation that the country adopts a new currency and call it the kuna, which was the name of the national currency in the Ustashe period.

Hey Bock,
This post really peaked my interest so I went off and did some digging. what i found is pretty interesting. Apparently Croatia has used one of two forms of the checkerboard, as their national symbol, since the 10th century. There is debate as to whether it should have a red or white square in the upper left. The Ustashe used it with an elaborate U above the checkerboard as did the communist goverment incorporate it into their symbol.
Should we denounce the brits for using the Union Jack because they used it during their period of colonialism?

The swastika was a harmless symbol too, until it was adopted and forever tainted by the Nazis.

It was too soon after WWII to rehabilitate the chequered flag, especially when many of Croatia’s people regarded it as a symbol of oppression and genocide, and doubly so when many who remembered the slaughter were still alive.

Whatever the flag may have been in centuries past, it was the flag of mass murder in WWII.

forgive the uninformed is there a relevence to the swastika a reason why it was adopted by the nazis just curios

The Imperial Germans united all the areas of what we today call Germany under the symbol of an eagle, as well as other symbols. The Nazi removed all that and brought this new symbol to represent their rule, the swastika. My point is that Croatia has used the checkerboard for centuries, long before the Ustashe and have been using it ever since. So unlike the swastika, which represented only Nazi Germany, it has a long history as representing Croatia.

Brianf, the swastika long predates the fascists in Germany. It can be found in early Asian art, although I think it was generally reversed. The Swastika laundry in Ballsbridge, Dublin also predated the fascists’ use of the symbol and it survived the war but didn’t survive the widespread arrival of the domestic washing machine in the late 1960s.
As an aside the Swastika was mounted high on the laundry’s chimney, and Ballsbridge Motors’ large Volkswagen sign was right underneath it on the north bank of the Dodder.
But back to the post… Germany was the first country to recognise Croatia when it declared independence (after Slovenia) during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

It makes no difference that the chequered flag was in use prior to WWII. The Ustasha made it into the symbol of an abomination, and it should never be used again.

the swastika is not only found in early asian art. it can be found in a lot of early civilaisations from india across europe. and if memory serves me, was used to protect against evil spirits. pottery was adorned with it, particularly on the underside of plates. it was also placed outside the house on the door jamb. i once read about an old irish site which also had carved swastikas. not sure where but think in the limerick /clare area. incidently the swastika used by the nazis is called a left handed swastika.

that is such a rubbish…the chequerboard has been our symbol since the 7th century (some say even more) and has nothing to do with nazis…the ustashes just took it back and put the letter U with it as their symbol…don’t get me wrong,i hate those bastards and their primitive offspring that still go crazy when you mention hitler or pavelić (even though he gave the dalmatia-southern part of croatia to italians)…my grandfather was in partisans and fought those traitors and i hate the fact that most of foreign journalists describe croats as german puppets…even though the croats were the first nation from this part of europe who established an anti-fa movement (partisans)…i see that your aim is offending people but still…i had to write something because that just isn’t true ;)

Thank you for that contribution.

No matter how legitimate the symbol might have been in the past, its association with the Ustasha means it should no longer be used because it symbolises genocide.

Well Bock, your goal in this text was obviously to get some negative reactions from Croats. I am a Croat and I couldn’t stop laughing when I was reading your text. First of all,our national symbol has a shape of a shield,so it is pretty obvious that it was used long before nazi morons in Croatia,then on ustashe symbol white field was in first position, and there was a letter U above the symol. And please do not write historical lies,300 000 people!!,
Gestapo disturbed? Oh my God. Consult a well informed historian before writng such a crap next time,would you? One question: Why are you so full of hate for Croats?

As a foreigner and historian specialised in Croatian history living in Croatia, I have to say I don’t in the least agree with you on this point. The “U” (ustasha symbol) symbolizes genocide NOT the checkerboard. The official coat of arms of the Republic of Croatia during Communist Yugolavia was in the fact the checkerboard (with a few other symbols around it)!! So if it had really been a symbol of genocid and facism, it would surely would not have been used by the Communists!

What are you, a serb…. a chetnik perhaps??!! Ah, I see your friend is serb.Well, you should not buy everything he sells. Internet is huge, inform yourself. To bad he has not mentioned serbian singers racist comment about people from Finland she made just after the Eurovision.
As for your hateret for croatia…… well, there are many nations and countries you can and should hate more. Just a few brief examples: England ( colonialism, rasism, what they did in Ausralia, Scotland, Ireland, India, China, Argentina, Dresden, politic of waiting in WW 2, etc…), USA ( racism, segregation, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Somalia, Panama, Iraq, Israel, CAmbodia ……), Spain ( Latin America, ETA, Basks….), Germany ( well, we all know ), Italy ( fashism, colonialism, ocupaing croatian coast for decades ), Japan ( ocupaing China for centuries, role in WW2 ), Serbia ( genocide, segregation,Ireland ( IRA ) etc…
And if I am not wrong, they all did these things under their flags. So why do you stick so much to the croatian chequered flag?

“Ante Pavelić’s Ustasha government was so savage in its butchery of Serbs, Muslims and other non-Catholics that it disturbed even its German Nazi masters. A Gestapo report says The number of the Orthodox that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is about three hundred thousand. The Gestapo thought they were sadistic, for God’s sake!” Well, that is simply not the truth and I suppose that your source has to do something with the serbs. That was their propaganda for years.

If you need some tips about croatian history, our struggle for freedom and independence for 13 centuries,fighting against ocupation and fashism, feel free to contact me or check it out on neutral internet sites.

you seem quite informed. To add to it though, you might want to look at the coat of arms of Socialist Republic of Croatia, the constituent unit of SFR Yugoslavia, which most prominently features the checkered armour ( ). Tito’s administration would hardly allow it if they thought that it was an Ustashe symbol, after four years of bloody war against them and the genocide.

About genocide, beside Serbs, the victims of it were also the Croatian Jews (two thirds of whom were killed either in Croatia or in Auschwitz) and Roma. You are mistaken about Bosnian Muslims though, they were considered to be Croats of Muslim faith (Pavelić even had a big mosque built in Zagreb). Many left-wing and liberal Croats and Muslims also perished in the camps.

The fellow that mentioned 7th century is wrong – the oldest official use of the coat of arms was in 16th c.

BTW, we’re nothing like Germans :) For better or for worse it is a mix of Slavic and Mediterranean mentalities – a bit of northern European traits wouldn’t hurt, actually.

Dylan: you’d be surprised how sympathetic I am to the Croat struggle. Also thank you for reminding me of the Bosnian Muslim role in WWII: it was far from glorious.

My point about the chequered flag is quite simple: while it might be innocent in itself, it’s defiled by association with the Ustasha, which is a pity. In exactly the same way the swastika used to be an innocent religious or mystical symbol, but today, nobody would think of using the swastika as a flag.

The flag was stolen from you by murderers and you should have accepted that it was gone forever. You shouldn’t have brought it back.

The subtitle of this site is wrong.

This text is not “offending”, it is simply stupid and utterly uneducated, as its “author” is, too.

” No matter how legitimate the symbol might have been in the past, its association with the Ustasha means it should no longer be used because it symbolises genocide.”

I heard rumors thet Ustashe were using air as well.

The excuse they had was that they used it for breathing.

And guess what, the modern-day Croats are using the same excuse for using air as well.

Shame on them, the bloody Nazis!

BTW, “chequerboard symbol”, as Bock callc it in his schauvinistic ignorance, was used in Croatia even between 1945 and 1990, i.e. in the times of Socialist ex-Yu.

Not on the Croatian flag, but on the official coat of arms of Socialist Republic of Croatia (federal unit of ex-SFRJ).

It is “interesting” that the likes of “Bock” and similar uneducated idiots never saw that as “revival od Ustashe symbols”.

I have just returned from three weeks in Croatia, mostly Dalmatia, I can say that this bull*** about the flag is so irrelevant. The national unity is so vibrant and strong that nonsensical blogs such as this will have no effect on a proud and beautiful country. Whatever the Ustache did in the past, is past. Just as what the Serbs did in the early90’s is past Everyone I met is trying to heal wounds, not reopen them All symbols are only as debt ridden as we make them.Bock is clearly baiting for a fight, a fight I add he is not in! During all the games that I was happy to watch in small Croatian towns, everyone was wearing their heart on their chests.( The Supposed offending Jersey) Bock seems to have a deep Serbian agenda that he should let go for the better interest of a region that has already seen far too much conflict. I am not a general peace nick but find like many places in the world, religion and property are always bad neighbors. This is a beautiful country that deserves some peace and rest. The Serbs need to find their own. Croatia has!

Well, I have to be… I have a checquered flag at my home and I am proud of it. I have to be a nazi, a racist and a fashist.

Be whatever you want to be. That’s your business, not mine.

It’s a pity that killers hijacked your flag, but it’s also a fact.

“And this is why, though Croatia play some of the most attractive football anywhere, and though Turkey is a vile state in thrall to its military, I’m sorry Croatia have just scored in extra time.

It’s also why, two minutes later, I’m relieved that Turkey equalised.”
Once upon the time on the teritory where now Bosnia and Hercegovina is lived croats and serbs, all catholics, some roman, some greeek ( orthodox)……
…then the Turks came leaded by Sulejman the Great….
…and guess what?! you had three options:
1. get slaughtered by the Turks
2. get the hell out of there ( if you could)
3. accept the muslim religion in order to save your life ( that also included changing your name into Mujezin, Sulejman etc…)
And what do we have now there? A country where live croats, serbs and muslims. Two nations and one religion! What are the muslims, so called boÃ…¡njaci? They are no more croats or serbs, but they are also no turks. They are croats and serbs who were forced to change their religion and mix with the conquerers. But they had lost connection to their origin. They are no nation, but just religion.
What a wonderfull people those Turks…..if I knew that, I too would be their greatest fan on this tournament!
Once again, no hard feelings, but really, if you seek for the truth and justice, feel free to contact me. Even though I might be a Croat, and we all know they are all nazis and fashists, I try to be fair and conscientious.

“It’s a pity that killers hijacked your flag, but it’s also a fact.”
It is also a pity that millions of people had been killed under the flag of Great Britain, but I do not see you writing about that.

Yeah, and guess why :D !
But what that has to do with it? They played in WC 2006. Besides, we use that flag not only in the tournaments. Others too, including brits. You are way out of the line here..

I am not telling you what to think. I am giving you facts, it is up to you to make your opinion. But do not base it on a hear-say, or propaganda. Check different sources and ask people from both sides or even more. That is how intelligent men do. And I do not think you are not intelligent.

Tom: With the greatest respect, you haven’t given any facts.

You’ve accused me of being a Chetnik, which is not correct, and you’ve told us how you think Bosnian Muslims came to exist.

You have said nothing else.

I’ve looked through your posts and I can’t find any facts in them.

Here is another hate-mail.
Well, you cant find what you wont.
And you also accused me of being nazi. Not just me, all the Croats.
Can you enlighten me and tell me how the bosnian Muslims came to exist.I am sure they are teaching you that in your schools.
Read some books

I m a muslim and you speak a lot of lies here , first the three options Tom writted you had in bosnia when the turks came isnt true. In mostar is the oldest church in bosnia and it is built before the turks came like thousends of them .
you didnt have to change the religion or anything else in the turks period in bosnia it was just a country with the different name nothing else…
So stop to write lies you idiot in that time the turky was the strongest army they could kill you all croats and serbs but they left you in peace under their control uneducated fool!!!

[Mod edit: You will submit comments to this site in English or Irish. If you continue leaving comments in Croatian you will be banned]

Worth remembering with the Croats and Ustashe was that the Germans and Italians basically installed the Ustashe as a government. Largest party in Croatia at the time of the coup was Peasants Party (non-fascist as far as i know). A Coup backed with battle-hardened German troops already in Yugoslavia and Hungary.

Nazis and Mussolini were elected/took power with a lot of popular support during peace-time.

My point being, judging Croatians on their rulers during that time is unfair as they were never as popular as Nazis were in Germany. Ustasi never held any Rallies or had any kind of pervasive cult of the Fuhrer stuff going on as they didn’t have the same ideological hold on Croatia as the Nazis did on Germany.

As for symbols and the like, if some f**ckhead genocidal pigs (like the Ustashe) used a Harp as their symbol, I think I would still use it as the Irish symbol afterwards. Its my symbol and I won’t let someone take it from me.This works for me, as the Harp has been a widely used and popular symbol for Ireland for a very long time. Like the Croatian Coat of Arms to Croatians.

Having read through the original post and all comments I can see the arguement from both sides. While I don’t claim to have any knowledge on Croatian history, I don’t think that a nations symbol should be changed based on a period in that nations history. As far as I am aware the Nazis brought in the swastika as their symbol, therefore it would be inappropriate for the German nation to adopt it as their own symbol. Had the German state used the swastika as their national symbol prior to Nazi rule then I would not find it as offensive.

However, I do see how the checkerboard could be interpreted as a form of regognition to Ustashe rule.

Just a thought, has the Croatian national anthem been changed since Ustashe rule? If not, should that also be changed?

I think that one flag that should be changed is the Union Jack. My main reason for this arguement is that the “Saint Patrick’s Cross” is still included. Given that the Saint Patrick’s Cross was included to represent British rule of Ireland, I feel it should be removed.


I take your point about symbols, I just feel that the Swastika is different to the Croat chequered flag. The Nazis also made heavy use of Eagles and even the Cross (in the form of insignia for the Luftwaffe etc).

Both the eagles and cross insignia predate the Nazis by a long way and both survive in similar enough forms. There is no thought to removing the eagle from all coats of arms or flags.

For instance Poland, Russia and US all use Eagles in their coat of arms still. Actually Germany still uses the Eagle as a symbol (very different style I’ll grant you).

And another thing, though this doesn’t help prove my point at all, Germany’s national anthem is still Deutchland Uber Alles I think.

Anyway, your article raised a good point that has made me think a bit. Maith thú.

Za Dom – Spremn? Hadn’t you the balls to say your Croatian Zeig Heil in plainer language?

On the subject of symbols, have you ever noticed the two fascii behind the three tiered podium in the US Congress? There’s one on the front of the French Passport too. Odd…

It has to many faces of the same picture no a fence and how long did it take you to write all of this down!

I just wonder should the irish tricolour now be regarded as symbol of paedophilia and child slave labour and torture.After all it is a symbol that does not pre date this period unlike the harp etc.

Hello, I am a Croat, I would just like to clear up this issue once and for all.

The claim that the Croatian flag is a nazi symbol equivalent to the swastika is a myth, propogated during the 1990s by greater Serb hegemonist circles in an attempt to equate the democratic Croatian state of the 1990s with the NDH. Similar propoganda was the claim made by the SANU memorandum in 1986 (years before Tudjman ever came to power) that “Except for the time under the Independent State of Croatia [the Nazi puppet state during WW2], the Serbs in Croatia have never before been as jeopardized as they are today.” as well as the claim that Tudjman and Kohn were “plotting to impose a Fourth Reich”.

Anyway, onto the point about the flag, as has been pointed out by other users, the Croatian Checkerboard (šahovnica or grb) preceded the Ustasa by centuries and had been used in every single Croatian entity/state before and after. The claim it is a fascist symbol is a falsehood that can be refuted by a glance at any complete version of the Yugoslav constitution, which clearly shows that the Croatian chequerboard – far from being a fascist symbol equivalent to the swastika – was an official symbol of state in Titoist Yugoslavia (see, for example the 1950 edition of the Yugoslav constitution, published by Sluzbeni list, Belgrade, which shows the Croatian chequerboard as a Yugoslav symbol of state on p. 115; or the 1974 edition published by Prosveta, Belgrade, which shows the Croatian chequerboard – in full colour – at the start of the text). The Ustasha flag did not even have the exact same checkered pattern (look at the corners), and its distinctive symbol was the U sign, not the šahovnica.

It is ironic that those who repeat this myth do not mention or perhaps do not know that the eagle on Serbia’s flag was also used by none other than the Serbian Nazi quisling regime of Milan Nedic, which eagerly participated in the Holocaust and which exterminated 94% of Serbian jewry.

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