The Jews in Serbia suffered greatly during the Shoah at the hands of the Nazis, but they were also active in the Partisan movement, along with other Serbs. Croatia, on the other hand, officially collaborated with the Nazis. The Ustase adopted Nazi ideology and were, if possible, even more ardent in their persecution and cruelty toward Jews. When Courage Prevailed examines the ways in which Jews were rescued by Croatians, and how they survived. One of the things that made rescue possible was the designation by Pavelic, the leader of the Ustase, that Jews whose professions were vital to Croatia’s national interest, and their families — about five hundred persons — were termed “Honorary Aryans;” members of mixed marriages — about one thousand — were also subsumed under this title. Until 1943, “Aryan Rights” was another term under which Jews could apply and a few thousand obtained, if they were important to the Croatian society and were the only ones with the credentials for certain occupations, since the larger Croatian population was illiterate.
There were many among the Croatian populace who helped Jews. For a Jew to survive, he or she had to be brave, resourceful, and willing to seize every opportunity for escape and would then owe a debt of gratitude to as many as twenty helpers. Entire villages hid Jewish children. The Partisans helped at least fifteen hundred Jewish non-combatants and also aided Jews escaping over the mountains. Many efforts entailed great risk. Even though the Croats were known as Nazi collaborationists, this book reveals the practical and ethical motives animating rescue.