Vlado Radan, born Aladar Rechnitzer on January 4, 1893, was a prominent and well respected industrialist, who resided in Zagreb with his wife Draga Radan and their two sons, George Bodizar Radan (b. September 3,1919) and Tom Z. Radan (b. August 2, 1925). In addition to owning the blast furnace steel manufacturing company Rudarsko Udruženje Talionica Capragy in Sisak Croatia and 50% of the hemp and textile factory Pančevačka Tekstilna Industrija in Pančevo, Serbia, he was a lessee-agent of the Yugoslav State Monopoly for tobacco, salt, cigarette paper and matches, which dealt directly with Austria, Italy, Sweden and Greece.
Through these pursuits, Radan established close relationships in the business and industrial circles of the Balkans and Central Europe. He also served as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Greece in Belgrade from October 1936 to April 1941 and as Honorary Consul General of the Kingdom of Greece in Zagreb until the German occupation in April 1941. A staunch and outspoken opponent of Nazism and Fascism, which he regarded as the enemies of true democracy, Radan worked against Axis policy at every opportunity, assisted the Western Allies wherever and whenever he could and supported the Greeks during the Greek-Italian War (1940-1941).
The persecution of Vlado Radan began before the German occupation of Yugoslavia. In 1940, he was declared an enemy of “Free Croatia” and attacked as a Jew and British spy on the Nazi Radio Station “Donau Alpen” which demanded his removal from all publicly held positions. Due to both his overt and secretive anti-Nazi activities and his Jewish origin, he was arrested on April 21, 1941, one week after the fall of Yugoslavia to the Germans, by the local Ustasi-Nazi forces and imprisoned in the main jail in Zagreb. As a result of the imposition of the Nuremberg-like laws mandating the removal of Jews from all public posts and the declaration and ensuing expropriation of Jewish owned real estate and assets, Radan’s textile company was confiscated and compulsorily sold by the Nazis and his steel mill and various residential properties were expropriated. In fact, shortly after the occupation, Commander in Chief, General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau (the German General in Zagreb) moved into the Radans’ Zagreb villa at Jabukovac 39, from which Radan’s artworks were looted.
Vlado Radan was subsequently deported by the Gestapo to a special jail for political enemies in Graz and to the Gestapo headquarters the Hotel Metropole in Vienna for political and economic investigation. After enduring many months of torture in Austrian prisons, Radan was to be returned to Zagreb by the Gestapo authorities for further interrogation. En route to Zagreb, he escaped to Italian occupied Slovenia and then to Split, Dalmatia, where his wife and two sons were living in an internment camp. The Fascist authorities interned him there and subjected him to further persecution until January 1943 at which time he and his family were deported to the town St. Omobono in Bergamo, where they remained until the German occupation of Northern Italy in September 1943. It was at this point that the Radans escaped to Switzerland. In May 1945, they left for the US, where they arrived (via France) on November 11, 1946 (Armistice Day). In 1952, they obtained US citizenship.