Ustasha Youth (Ustaška mladež)
by H.L. deZeng IV

There is not a lot known about the Ustasha Youth organization. By March 1942 it had been fully formed so it evidently came into existence in the fall of 1941. The organization had three main components: (1) the Starcević Youth ages 16 – 21; (2) the Erci Youth ages 12 to 15 (the equivalent of the Italian Fascist Avanguardisti or Vanguard Youth); and, (3) the Speranza Youth ages 7 to 14 (the equivalent of the Italian Fascist Balilla Youth). There were further divisions or sub-divisions, one of which was the Ustasha Female Youth, which had its own Labor Service of young girls who expected on graduation from high school to work in the civil service and as a sort of apprenticeship were required to work for one year in the Labor Service. Within the Starcević Youth there was an Air Force Branch that offered a junior flying course on gliders at Sv. Nedelja airfield to the west of Zagreb. Additionally, there was a school for Ustasha Youth leaders at Nova Gradiška and Ustasha Youth agricultural schools in Petrinja and Križevci that trained NCO leaders for the Hononary State Labor Service. Otherwise, the Ustasha Youth engaged in such activities as collecting winter clothing donated by the civilian population for the troops.

By the end of June 1943, the Ustasha Youth numbered 580,000 members, which must have been just about every school-age youth in the Independent State of Croatia, which only had a population of around 6-million. The breakdown for the three groups was: (1) Starcević Youth 115,000; (2) Erci Youth 175,000; and, (3) Speranza Youth 290,000. The Ustasha Youth gradually faded away during the course of 1944 as the older boys were conscripted and resources became too strained to continue on with the organization’s activities.

Leader

Professor Ivan Oršanić (1942 - 1944)

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