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The Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) was established on April 10, 1941, after the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked by the Axis forces. It is technically a monarchy and Italian protectorate under its Italian-born King Aimone, Duke of Aosta ("Tomislav II") but the state is controlled by the governing Fascist Ustaše movement which in turn is under significant German influence. It borders the Greater German Reich to the northwest, the Kingdom of Hungary to the northeast, Military Administration of Serbia (a joint German-Serb government) to the east, Montenegro (an Italian protectorate) to the southeast, Italy along its coastal area, and the Province of Ljubljana (consisting primarily of territory that had been Drava Banovina and is currently Slovenia) to the north.
Establishment of the NDH
Following the attack of the Axis powers on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, and the quick defeat of the Yugoslav Army (Jugoslavenska Vojska), the country was occupied by Axis forces. Slavko Kvaternik, deputy leader of the Ustaše proclaimed the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH - Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) on April 10, 1941. Ante Pavelić, who was known by his Ustaše title, "Poglavnik" (Head-man) returned to Zagreb from exile in Italy on April 17 and became the absolute leader of the NDH throughout its existence
Acceding to the demands of the Kingdom of Italy, and particularly its Fascist regime under Benito Mussolini, Pavelić reluctantly accepted Aimone the 4th Duke of Aosta as a figurehead King of the NDH under his new royal name, Tomislav II. Tomislav II never visited the NDH and had no influence over the government, which was dominated by Ante Pavelić. Tomislav II was not interested in being the figurehead King of Croatia. On learning that he had been named King of Croatia, he told close colleagues that he thought his nomination was a bad joke by his cousin King Victor Emmanuel III. Tomislav II's position was intended by the Italian Fascist regime to legitimize the presence of Italian armed forces on Croatian soil.
The NDH founded the Croatian Home Guard (Croatian: Hrvatsko domobranstvo) in April 1941 with the consent of the German armed forces (Wehrmacht). The Home Guard had an air force and a minimal navy. The NDH also created the Ustaška Vojnica, which was conceived as an elite militia and a Croatian gendarmerie.
Under the terms of the Rome Agreement with Italy, the NDH navy was restricted to a few coastal and patrol craft, which mostly patrolled inland waterways. When established in 1941, the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske) (ZNDH), consisted of captured Royal Yugoslav aircraft (seven operational fighters, 20 bombers and about 180 auxiliary and training aircraft) as well as paratroop, training and anti-aircraft artillery commands. During the course of the war on the Yugoslav Front it was supplemented with several hundred new or overhauled German, Italian and French fighters and bombers, until receiving deliveries of new aircraft from Germany from March 1945.
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