(Narodna zaštita)

by H.L. deZeng IV

The National Guard was a civil defense organization established in July 1941 for the purpose of preventing or lessening wartime damage and economic damage caused by natural events, such as storms, floods and fire. All Croatian youth between the ages of 15 and 19 were obliged to serve in either the State Honorary Labor Service or the National Guard. National Guard HQ was a department with the Ministry of Defense (MINDOM), and the head of this department was also the commander of the National Guard. Guard organizations existed at every national administrative level, from provincial to district and below.

In terms of personnel and function, there were separate guard organizations for protection of public buildings, institutions and establishments, and important facilities. Guard units also carried out neighborhood security patrols. Bicyclists and auxiliaries in the Guard performed courier duties, technical tasks, construction work, medical, veterinary and anti-chemical services and served as firemen and auxiliary police.

The first formal unit was the 1st National Guard Regiment (1. pukovnija Narodne zaštite), formed in early July 1941 in Zagreb from the Kotarska National Guard Battalion. The Battalion, which consisted of 300 youth from the Kotar region, had been informally established on 26 May 1941 by a group of Air Force officers and NCOs. The Regiment consisted of four battalions (12 companies) with a total of 75 officers and NCOs and 1,104 youth.

As the war progressed, the Guard was reorganized into regions: the I National Guard Region in Zagreb, the II in Slavonski Brod and the III in Sarajevo. Each region had active Guard units assigned to it, and to back these up there was a large reserve National Guard organization. Twelve reserve companies were available in Region I, 18 in Region II and 8 in Region III. A National Guard NCO School was established in Zagreb in September 1942.

By 1944 the Guard had become increasingly committed to controlling damage caused by Allied air attacks, from putting out the fires to repairing broken water mains and restoring electrical power. The Guard also became a favored hiding place for those who did not wish to serve in combat units, since this service was considered active military duty.

Commanders

Pukovnik Pahlić (? - ?) Dec 1943
Pukovnik Zangel (? - ?) Sep 1944

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