Ivan Hans Merz ( 1896 -1928)

Ivan Hans Merc was born in Banja Luka by mother  Terezija from Hungary who, according to some research was possibly a prostitute; and Moris Merz, an Austrian officer in 1896.

He was raised in a very liberal spirit but from the parents he did not receive any religious education. As a very bright and intelligent young man, he drew attention for his interest in literature by a Catholic professor in Grammer school (Gimnazija) in Banja Luka. His professor taught him to look at the poetry, literary works and arts through the prism of Catholic “truths” and the “moral lessons of the Church”.

As a very intelligent child who was coming from a relatively poor family, a Jesuit, Miroslav Vanin insured that young Merc received a scholarship for further education on Catholic Institute in Paris.  He received his PHD in Zagreb, 1923.

 “Catholic Action”, a movement originally envisaged by Pope Leon XIII to combat increasing liberalism and secularism with aggressive approach, as Roman Catholic Church has begun to lose the power and influence over society after French Revolution. This movement was proclaimed by Roman Catholic Church to be “out and above all politics”.

The foundation for this movement in Croatian territory was laid on a first meeting of “All Cahtolic Croatian Congress” (Svehrvatski katolicki kongres”) in 1900, in which were set up “the directives for 20th Century”.  It was also decided that Jesuit order was allowed to come back to Croatia and infiltrate into politics.

In 1922, now a very prominent Catholic, Ivan Hans Merc was personally invited by the Pope Pius XI to form the Catholic Action in Croatia. Merc has successfully founded an organization he named “Eagles” (Serbian: Orlovi).

Merc has fully implemented the ideology and doctrines of Catholic Action in the guide book called “The Golden Book” (Zlatna Knjga) he wrote for Eagles. And because of his success, Merc is referred to as a Pioneer of Catholic Action. Merc’s Golden Book also became one of the tenets for Pavelic’s Ustasha ideology.

Merc died very young, at the age of 32, in 1928. Due to Yugoslavian dictatorship of 6th Jan 1929, “Eagles” were forced to work under a new name of “Crusaders” (Serbian : Krizari). In the period of 1941 – 1945, this civilian organization was actively helping Ustasha to commit atrocities on innocent non Catholic population in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many of Crusaders members were also Ustasha members.

Merc’s Eagles (Crusaders) just before the WW2 accounted over 700 troops with more than 30 000 active members strong. They also had majority of the media in their hands, which later proved to be a very powerful tool on spreading the atmosphere of the “sacred war”  by encouraging the civilian population to help Ustasha in committing the crime.

10 years after Merc’s death, his close associate Marica Stankovic founded a new organization for women only, based on the outlined vision Merc has left her. Stankovic’s founded “Christ King Associates” ( Serbian: Suradnice Krista Kralja) organization. During Ustasha regime, members of this civilian organization were actively helping Ustasha by hunger torturing small children in Jasenovac system of concentration camps, killing them or preparing them to convert them in Roman Catholicism.

Ivan Hans Merc was beautified by the Pope in 2003 in Petricevac Monestery near Banja Luka.

From this very same Petricevac monestery, Fra Vjekoslav /Miroslav / Tomislav FIlipovic-Majstorovic on 7th Feb 1942 led Ustasha to primary school in Sargovac village to show them how to kill Serbian children. Led by Fra Filipovic, Ustasha managed to slaughter in Drakulic, Sargovac and Motike villages nearly 2,500 women, children and infirm of Serbian Orthodox origin within 24 hours.

Without a single bullet fired.