Fascism, Sport, and Youth – Idea and Role of Physical Education and Sport in Educating and Organizing the Ustasha Youth, 1941-1945

  • Goran Miljan
  • Radovi Zavoda za hrvatsku povijest Filozofskog fakulteta Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, January 2014, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb
  • DOI: 10.17234/radovizhp.46.10

Fascism, Youth and Sport in the Independent State of Croatia

What is it about?

In this text, the author deals with the question and image of the Ustasha Youth, its organization, and especially the relation to physical education and sports, as envisioned by the Ustashas leaders, ideologues, and officers within the youth organization. Based on the premise of contamination, degradation, and un-natural development of Croatian youth during the interwar period, the Ustashas set up a path of regenerating and re-building the Croatian youth according to their vision of past, present, and future. The author argues, that due to the Ustashas apocalyptic vision of the past, in which the Croatian youth was neglected and contaminated by foreign elements, especially with regard to its physical education and training, they established a utopian path of re-molding and creating the ‘new’, stronger, physically and intellectually superior Croatian youth. This was to be accomplished through an all-embracing Ustasha Youth organization, within which physical education and sports were given a primary role. The author argues that two sports were given a crucial role. These were athletics, especially track and field sports, which were given the role of creating and molding the all-embracing, physically healthy new Croat, and chess, which was to provide intellectual upgrading and development of youth. The main driving force behind all this was the Ustashas utopian socio-anthropological vision of creating a new Croatian man and woman. The Ustashas aspired towards creating and molding the new generation which was supposed to be a healthy one, powerful, uncompromising, superior to its enemies and belligerent, and which would without any hesitation accept the role of guardians of the Ustashas achievements under any cost. Despite the fact that the Ustashas utopian vision remained unfulfilled, it nevertheless shows the Ustashas aim for a complete, total transformation of Croatian society. Their main pillar in this attempt was youth which was regarded as an element most susceptible, flexible and responsive to certain ideas, in this case, the Ustashas utopian idea of creating something ‘new’, ‘better’, and long-lasting.

Why is it important?

First article dealing with both ideological importance and practical implementation of sports within the fascist Ustasha Youth organization during WWII.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Goran Miljan