This chapter discusses the massacres carried out by the Ustaša in Croatia during the Second World War. It provides a brief presentation of the historical background, and describes the massacres carried out by the Ustaša militia and their corpse disposal methods. The chapter also discusses German and Italian reactions to discoveries of the physical traces of the massacres. The Germans supported the Ustaša in the transformation of Croatia into an ethnically homogenized state, and in doing so initially accepted the violent actions of Ustaša militias. The Germans had more difficulties dealing with the locations of the mass murders carried out by their Ustaša partners. The chapter raises the question of the extent to which the gruesome staging of death, using the corpses of killed opponents, might be part of the communications history of a civil war. Mass rape is typically an aspect of the violence in a civil war.
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows the undeniable contribution and the limits of the biopower theory in the understanding of dead bodies en masse. It talks about the fact that criminology has for so long ignored mass crime, even though the link between the corpse and the criminal is one of the fundamentals of the discipline. The book addresses the issue of the practical and symbolic treatment of corpses by societies affected by mass violence. It shows how working ideologies along with historical legacy and geographical landscapes determined the disposal of the bodies. The book examines the simultaneously diplomatic and medicolegal nature of the activities of the French Search Commission for Corpses of Deportees in Germany. It also draws on German archives to describe the various modalities of treatment of corpses in Croatia.