Annie Boban <froate1@gmail.com>

    To: Annie Boban, Pavo Miličević, Krešimir Kraljević, Mirko BILIC, vladoglavas@hotmail.com

    and 5 more...   Fri, Jan 22 at 1:12 PM


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    Extremely rare original certificate of awarding the Cross of II.Class with Swords of the Order of King Zvonimir ( Red Krune Kralja Zvonimira II-Stupnja s Macevima ) by Poglavnik (Duce) Dr. Ante Pavelic to Major Karl Kleineberg of Amt Ausland Abwehr / III ( Foreign Counterintelligence Service - Section III ) signed in the capital Zagreb ( Dano u glavnom gradu Zagreb ) on February 23, 1943 ( 23.Veliace godine 1943 ).
    The certificate is signed by the Minister and Secretary of State of the Armed Forces, General Cavalier Vilko Begic and countersigned by the Notary of the Order, General Nobile Ivan Percevic. The header of the certificate reads: "VIME HRVATSKOGA NARODA POGLAVNIK NESAVISNE DRZAVE HRVATSKE DR. ANTE PAVELIC Podjeluje svojom odrebom br. 1381.ZV. OD 23.II.1943." ( I Dr. Ante Pavelic, Head of the Independent State of Croatia, in the name of the Croatian people issue my order No. 1381 ZV of 23.2.1943 )














    The Minister and Secretary of State of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Cavalier Vilko Begic, signatory of the certificate


    The Crown Order of King Zvonimir was established on May 17, 1941 by Ante Pavelic (formally prime minister of Croatia and head of the Ustascha government) to worthily reward those, Croatians or foreigners, who distinguished themselves, in peace or in war, in favor of Croatia. The dedicatee of the Order is King Zvonimiro of Croatia, who lived in the 11th century.
    The Order was divided into five classes, in turn divided into different grades, the most important of which was the "Grand Cross with Star" awarded only three times. Those who were decorated with the "First Class Cross with Star" also received the title of "Knight" ( Vitez ) as it appears before the signature of Vilko Begic.Cross of II.Class with Swords which was awarded in case of deserving actions towards the enemy.
    The decoration consists of a Croatian cross (with three dovetail arms and one normal), enameled in white and edged with gold. On the obverse there is a Latin cross in gold in the center of which, in a medallion, the ancient crown of the kingdom of Croatia is depicted in gold. Above the cross, inserted into the central medallion, are two golden swords. On the back there are two inscriptions in gold: on the upper arm the date "1076" (commemoration of the accession of Zvonimiro to the Croatian throne) and on the lower arm the date "1941" (proclamation of the independent Croatian state). In the two central arms is the inscription "BOG I HRVATI"). The cross, slightly convex, measures 50 x 51 mm and is not marked but its characteristics undoubtedly attribute it to the production of the Braca Knaus company in Zagreb. It is in perfect storage conditions with the right degree of patina left over by time. 

    The "Abwehr"(literally "Defense") was an organization totally linked to the German military High Command and in no way dependent on the Party or its formations. Admiral Canaris, who was its leader, was indeed an old member of the Nsdap but came from the ranks of the Kriesmarine from which most of the members of the Abwehr were recruited. The headquarters of the Abwehr Amt were in the OKW building in Berlin at Tripitzufer 72, but the main operational sections were moved to Zossen with the other sections of the OKW in the early summer of 1943, when the Allied bombing of Berlin began to take on dangerous proportions. Functionally the Abwehr was divided into three main operational sections (Abteilungen) and an administrative section. The ABT I dealt with operational intelligence, the ABT II of sabotage and subversion and the ABT III of counterintelligence and to a limited extent of security. L'Abteilung III was the counterintelligence and security section, responsible for the security of the Abwehr and the Armed Forces. For the latter purpose he worked in close connection with the Geheime Feldpolizei (GFP), the Wehrmacht security police.
    Regionally, the Abwehr was represented by Abwehrstellen (generally abbreviated to Ast). The Abwehrstellen in Germany corresponded to the country's military divisions (Wehrkreis).
    As soon as a country was occupied and the threat of military counterattack removed, the Abwehr was organized along lines similar to those adopted in the Reich. For each military administration unit, there was an AST which was normally designated by the name of the country in which it operated. Within the area of each Ast were subsidiary stations known as Nebenstellen
    (  nests) organized along the same lines as the Ast on which they were directly dependent. In addition to counter-espionage, the main function of both Asts and Nebenstellen was to recruit and train agents to be sent to allied or neutral territory. Small specialized units called Aussenstellen (Aust) and Meldekopfe (Mc) were often created to assist them in this. An Aussenstellen was a subsidiary station dedicated to a particular branch of work for the Abwehr. A Meldekopf was simply a center for receiving and transmitting reports and an advanced base from which an Ast or Astl could pass their agents to their assigned area of operation.
    L ' Ast Belgradeit was established in April 1943, immediately after the German occupation of Yugoslavia. Its main controlled stations were Ast Zagreb and Sarajevo Nest. The Chief was Oberst Dr. Kohoutek, and the main objective, in addition to reconnaissance and operations against the partisans, was the gathering of information from the Middle East, particularly from Turkey. The Major Karl Kleineberg operated surely within AST Zagreb when he was awarded this decoration. 

    Vilko Begicwas born in Cazma, in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, today in Croatia. He was colonel of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Army. After the First World War he became a journalist. He was often attacked by the Yugoslav gendarmerie. In 1924 he was arrested for attempting to cross the border illegally. In 1929 he was accused of terrorism, then he was tried together with Vladko Macek. In 1933 he was arrested due to the circulation of leaflets. After the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia he joined the new regular army of Croatia. He was promoted to infantry general and on 14 August 1941 he was appointed Secretary of State and Minister of Defense. He was adviser of the Poglavnik Ante Pavelic which in April 1943 he escorted on a visit to Adolf Hitler. In early September 1943 he was appointed Doglavnik (deputy of the Poglavnik ) and thus became a member of the Poglavnik Council. In February 1944 he was promoted to lieutenant general and in April 1945 colonel general, the highest rank in the Croatian armed forces after Pavelic. In May 1945, when the Croatian troops withdrew to Austria to surrender to the British, he disappeared. There are several versions of his end: some say that he was handed over by the American Command to Tito's troops and shot, others claim to have seen him in an allied prison camp near Salzburg in 1946 after which there is no more news and still others that died in Milan that same year.


    Ivan Perceviche was born on April 21, 1881. He was among the first to join the Croatian terrorist organization "Ustasha" together with Ante Pavelic, Percec and Jelic already in the years 1929-30. On 9 October 1934, King Alexander I of Yugoslavia was assassinated in Marseille together with the French foreign minister Louis Barthou. The bomber Vlado Chernozemski, a Macedonian revolutionary, was killed by the police.The ustashas awaiting the outcome of the attack in France were arrested and sentenced to life in prison by a French court. Subsequently Pavelic, Percevic and Kvaternik were sentenced to death in absentia as instigators of the attack. Under pressure from the French authorities, the three were arrested in Italy and imprisoned in Turin where they were released in 1936. After the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, Ivan Percevic was appointed general on April 29, 1941 and President of the Office for Promotions and Decorations. of the Croatian Ministry of Defense. With this function he was also the Notary of the Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir, countersigning the relative certificates of assignment of the decoration.

    Ante Pavelic , born on July 14, 1889 in Bradina, Bosnia, after studying law in Zagreb he became involved in politics in the "Croatian Party of Rights", a nationalist movement that opposed the Yugoslav unitary monarchy and fought for the independence of Croatia. In 1929 he was forced into exile by the pro-unification dictatorship established by King Alexander I after the assassination of Stjepan Radic.
    He took refuge first in Vienna, where he made contact with Austrian anti-Yugoslav officials, and then in Italy, he founded together with the members, also exiled, of the most extremist faction of the "Party of Rights", a new nationalist movement, the "Ustaše"(from ustac, "insurgent", or "rebel"). The group engaged, under the aegis of the Italian government, in intimidating activities, and, in 1934, succeeded in assassinating King Alexander I in Marseille. With the support of the Italian fascist regime, the movement expanded, installing training camps in Italy itself (in Siena and Borgo Val di Taro, in the Parma Apennines) and in Riva del Garda as well as in Hungary.
    On April 6, 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, ruled by Peter II Karageorgevic, who the day before had declared his neutrality in the ongoing conflict, was invaded by the Axis forces and Pavelic became the head of the Independent State of Croatia.(NDH), including Bosnia and a small part of Serbia, in fact dependent on Germany and fascist Italy, from which it resumed the institutions.
    The crown of Croatia was offered to Aimone di Savoia-Aosta , who surrounded it with the name Tomislavo II, although he never set foot in the land of which he was king. Many Croats, in open opposition to the Serbian government, welcomed the German troops as liberators. 
    On 10 April 1941 Ante Pavelic was appointed "Poglavnik" (Duce) of the new state while Slavko Kvaternik became the Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces (nonexistent at that time). The next day an edict was issued which created the "Hrvatsko Domobranstvo"(Croatian National Defense) consisting of army, navy, air force, police, railway police and labor service. The Ustasha party in turn created its own formation following the example of the Waffen-SS, called "Ustashka Vojnica" and formed for the most part by highly motivated volunteers who soon gained a reputation as brave and brutal fighters.
    In 1945 , after leading the Croatian troops to the last, Pavelic managed to flee first to Austria, then to Rome and finally to Argentina. The Catholic Church of Rome and Pope Pius XII, who had always been particularly benevolent towards her, were suspected of having helped her escape. Meanwhile, in his country hundreds of thousands of Croatians were now suffering the massacres perpetuated by the Serbs and the communist partisans of Tito.
    In 1957 a mysterious bomber fired two gunshots against him. Later, having discovered his refuge, he was forced to flee again to avoid extradition. He took refuge in Francisco Franco's Spain , where he died two years later, on December 28, 1959 in Madrid, following the injuries sustained in the attack.
    While for years the attack was believed to be the work of a hitman sent by the Yugoslav government, the assassination attempt was confessed a few years ago by a dying Serbian nationalist.









    Vilko Begic, Ivica Frkovic and Rafael Boban during the spring of 1943 in the Donji Vakuf area




    The Croatian and Italian delegations after the swearing-in of the members of the Croatian Self-Transportable Legion leaving for Russia on February 19, 1942 with Slavko Kvaternik, Commander-in-Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces, in the center of the photo. On the right the Italian Chief of Staff General Ugo Cavallero and on the left the Italian emissary in Croatia General Antonio Oxilia. Behind Kvaternik the Noble General Ivan Percevic , Notary of the Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir and counter- signer of the certificate.