The two Serbian anti-fascist fighting forces
While Croats and Muslims enlisted en masse into Nazi units, during World War II, the Serbs participated, again en masse in anti-fascist struggle. Unluckily, the Serb anti-fascist movement (by far the strongest in the occupied Europe) was split in two - along political lines. The two antagonistic anti-fascist movements were:
1) PARTISANS. While the overwhelming majority of the fighters that joined this anti-fascist movement were Serbs, the leader of the movement was a Croat Communist (later dictator) Tito. The partisans claimed to be anti-fascist - period. They formed so called "People's Army" and invited anyone who was willing to fight Nazis - to join. At the same time, the Communist leadership (Tito - a Croat and Kardelj - a Slovene) were actively working not only toward liberating Yugoslavia from the fascist grip - they activelly worked toward establishment (and later succeded in their plan) of a Communist state.
2) CHETNIKS were the Serbian anti-fascists who fought BOTH COMMUNISTS AND FASCISTS.
As usual, the basic facts are easy to check... and available to anyone.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Edition
1986, Micropedia, Vol 3, Page 182 Entry: CHETNIK
Cetnik, member of the Serbian nationalist guerrilla force that formed during WW II to resist Axis invaders and Croatian collaborators but that primarily fought Tito's Communist guerrillas, the Partisans. The chetniks were first organized in Bosnia. Other bands developed in Montenegro, Herzegovina and Dalmatia, but the most important was the one based in Serbia, LED BY DRAZA MIHAILOVIC. He directed his forces to avoid large-scale fighting with the Axis occupation and wait for an Allied invasion that would liberate Yugoslavia and restore the monarchy... By 1944 the Allies, which have provided Mihailovic with the military aid... withdrew their support. At the end of war, Chetniks were... forced from their headquarters at Ravna Gora. Mihailovic and his few remaining followers were captured by Tito's Partisans (March 1946) and brought to Belgrade, where they were tried and executed.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Edition 1986, Micropedia, Vol 8, Page 119 Entry: MIHAJLOVIC, DRAGOLJUB
Mihailovic' Dragoljub, byname: Draja (b. March 27, 1893, Ivanjica, Serbia - d. July 17, 1946, Belgrade), army officer and head of the royalist Yugoslav underground army, known as Chetniks, during WWII.
Having fought in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and World War I, Mihailovic, a colonel at the time of Germany's invasion of Yugoslavia (April 1941), refused to accept the capitulation of the Yugoslav Army. He organized the Chetniks, who operated mainly in Serbia. He was elevated to the rank of general in 1941 and was appointed minister of war that same year by King Peter's government-in-exile.
Both Chetniks under Mihailovic and the Communist-dominated Partisans, who were led by Tito, resisted the occupying German forces. The conflict between the two Yugoslav groups deepened, however. By the end of WW II, and largely as a result of greater Allied assistance, Tito and the Partisans prevailed. Mihailovic went into hiding. He was captured on March 13, 1946, and charged with treason and collaboration with the Germans. The Yugoslav government under Tito denied the testimonies of several Allied officers who had worked with or had been rescued by Mihailovic. He was sentenced to death and was executed. Despite the allegations of the Tito government, a U.S. commission of inquiry fully EXONORATED Mihaijlovic, and in 1948 U.S., President Harry S. Truman AWARDED HIM THE LEGION OF MERIT.
(end of quote)
THE LEGION OF MERIT IS THE HIGHEST DECORATION AMERICA GIVES TO NON-AMERICAN HEROES...
This is so typical of the Western behavior toward small nations (just as we see it today). While general Mihajlovic was useful and fighting the enemy - he was praised. Then, in 1943, when the West divided the spheres of influence with Stalin, and Yugoslavia got to be assigned to the Stalin's - Communist zone, Mihajlovic (the ally) was dropped and let to his destiny. At mercy of the Communist "justice" (Hague of a sort).
On May 25, 1942, the front page of TIME magazine came with drawing of Mihailovich and subtitle: "Yugoslavia's unconquered. He watches from his mountain walls". Inside, two pages are devoted to praise to general Mihailovich and his Serbian fighters. Here is a small excerpt:
Time, May 25, 1942, pages 23, 24 (excerpts, quote:)
...He watches from his mountain walls, and like a thunderbolt he falls. These words, written for an eagle, today are far better fit for one of THE MOST AMAZING COMMANDERS OF WORLD WAR II. He is Yugoslavia's Draja Mihailovich. Ever since Adolf Hitler vaingloriously announced a year ago that he had conquered Yugoslavia, Draja Mihailovic and his 150,000 guerrillas in the mountains south-west of Belgrade have flung the lie in Hitler's teeth. IT HAS BEEN PROBABLY THE GREATEST GUERRILLA OPERATION IN HISTORY... (A long list of achievements follows... and then...)
(Mihailovic) has already become the great symbol of the unknown thousands of supposedly conquered Europeans who still resist Adolf Hitler... As a legend, Draja Mihailovic will UNQUESTIONABLY live as long as World War II is remembered... The once obscured Balkan officer who was thus far successfully challenged the modern world's greatest conqueror was born in Serbia... He entered Belgrade's Serbian Military Academy at 15. He has been a lifelong soldier, an officer who got his training under fire. He is also PROFOUNDLY A SERB. For those who know Serbs, that fact alone would account for his great-hearted defiance.
The blood bath and oppression which for centuries has laved the minarets and green poplars of the Balkans has also watered a glowing military spirit in little Serbia - an UNQUESTIONABLE WILL TOWARD FREEDOM.
In 1389, a date of horror in Serbian minds,
the Turks defeated the Serbs on the plain of Kosovo and slaughtered the
cream of Serbian manhood. For the next four centuries Turkey bore down
on Serbia as hard as Adolf Hitler has done, with such devices as impaling,
mutilation and roasting of living Serbs on spits... Yet Serbia continued
(The text continues in glorification of the Serbian struggle for independence from the Turks, brave fight in Balkan wars and World War I. Then the author returns to Mihailovic's biography praising his bravery in Balkan wars, WW I. In 1914 Mihailovic receives the Order of the White Eagle and after participation on the Salonika front the highest decoration Karageorge Star with crossed swords... The text ends with - quote:)
Today Draja Mihailovic seems legendary, but he is a legend with a big basis in fact: the fact that that he has kept from five to ten Nazi divisions at a time of fighting to conquer the country which they destroyed twelve long months ago.
The book "Current Biography, Who's News and Why" published by The H.W. Wilson Company, every year, has in its edition for 1942 three long pages on Mikhailovitch, Draja (pages 593-596) praising the Serbian anti-fascist leader.
Encyclopedia Britannica Book
of the year - 1943 - also praises Mikhajlovich
Much later "Time-Life Books"
series on World War II in book entitled "Partisans and Guerrillas"
published in 1978, a few more details were given about Chetnik struggle
and the relation to the West. Here are a few excerpts from chapter 3 entitled:
"Chetniks and Partisans", page 75,
By late spring of 1941, Hitler had good reason to think that Yugoslavia was finished. Its generals had capitulated, its young King had fled into exile and its people seemed thoroughly cowed by the Wehrmacht. Accordingly, the Fuhrer chopped the country into weak ministates (my comment: just like modern demo-Nazi did today) then shared the chore of controlling them with three Axis partners - Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary - and handful of local puppets...
Hitler had hardly turned his back on Yugoslavia when the country erupted in a spontaneous revolt... THE CHETNIKS WERE THE FIRST - and for a short while ONLY - ORGANIZED GUERRILLA FORCE TO TAKE FIELD. They took their name from cheta, the 19th Century guerrilla band that harassed the Turkish occupation forces and, with the assistance of the Serbian Army, had driven out the conquerors. The modern Chetniks were predominantly Serbs. Like their predecessors, they wore tall sheepskin caps adorned with a skull-and-crossbones emblem. They let their hair grow long and cultivated beards, in keeping with the custom that called for male communicants of the Serbian Orthodox Church to refrain from shaving and cutting their hair for 40 days following the death of a loved one. As they saw it, they were now mourning their country's lost freedom, and they vowed to remain unshaven and untrimmed until the day of liberation..
The Chetniks were led by Army Colonel Draza Mihajlovich, a thoughtful, distinguished Serbian career officer who refused to surrender when Yugoslavia capitulated in April. Politically, Mihajlovic was a royalist..
Mihailovich and his men had been inflamed by Hitler's brutality toward the Yugoslavs and particularly toward the ... Serbs. Immediately after occupying Yugoslavia, the Germans had deported 200,000 prisoners of war - all of them Serbs. And now, thousands upon thousands of Serbs were being massacred by Germany's puppet regimes, and thousands more were executed by the Germans in reprisal for German troops killed by guerrillas.
Mihajlovich decided to build up and conserve the Chetniks and to undertake only small, low-risk operations that would harass Germans without provoking massive counterattacks or terrible reprisals against the civilian population. He would not mount his full-scale uprising until the German forces had been so weakened by attrition that the Chetniks, with assistance from the Allies, could throw out the conquerors. This cautious strategy coincided with broadcasts that were made that summer by the government-in-exile in London, which called the present uprising premature and urged all Yugoslavs to bear their ordeal quietly until Allied help could arrive...
...The Communists were late in joining the resistance because (their leader) Tito had had orders to shun the War as a family feud between those imperialist nations Germany and Great Britain. But all that changed in June 1941, when Germany violated the non-aggression pact it had signed with the Soviet Union two years before and invaded Russia. It immediately became Tito's Communist duty to attack the German occupation with vigor, thereby diverting German troops from the Russian front and denying Germany raw materials from the Balkans. Unlike Mihajlovich, Tito was prepared to suffer heavy losses to achieve his ends.
By late September of 1941, the battle lines in Yugoslavia converged in Serbia, the hotbed of resistance. The Chetniks and the Partisans... had seized control of nearly two thirds of the countryside, and Germans were bringing in reinforcements to put down the insurrection...
...The Germans had received orders from Hitler himself to increase to 100 (hundred) the number of Serbian civilians to be shot for every soldier killed by the guerrillas. On October 20 the Germans descended on the Serbian town of Kraljevo, recently the target of a joint Chetnik-Partisan raid that killed about 30 German troops. According to the official German reports, their troops put to death about 1,700 of the inhabitants. The Yugoslavs claimed that nearly 6,000 people were slain. On the next day, the Germans also wreaked havoc on the town of Kragujevac, near the site of a Partisan raid that killed 10 German soldiers and wounded 20. By the German reckoning 2,300 townsmen were executed. The Yugoslavs said the number was 7,000...
The bloodbaths confirmed Mihaijlovich's worst fears for the Serb' survival. He blamed himself for departing from his cautious strategy... And he had no intention of cooperating with the Partisans in another operation that would result in the deaths of more Serbs than Germans.
The Croatian Communist Commander did not care how many Serbs should perish for Moscow's orders to be fulfilled. The two leaders tried to unify their resistance but Mihailovic refused "Tito's kind of guerrilla warfare that would be suicidal for the Serbs". The Time-Life book describes the initial split and then clash between the Communist and Chetnik lead resistance...
At the same time, and as always, the selfish West did not care what price would the small, occupied Serb people pay if they resist Nazi occupiers. The West did not care how suicidal would the resistance be. They prefered to see more, rather then less German troops tied down in Yugoslavia. This is how the West, during WWII, took the side of Communists over anti-Communists in their struggle for power in Yugoslavia. All of this can be read in OLD books (books written well before the current conflict have started). I recommend the following books by British authors who studied the declassified British archives:
1) David Martin: "Ally betrayed"
2) David Martin: "Patriot or Traitor: The case of General Mihailovic"
3) Michael Lees: "The Rape of Serbia - The British Role in Tito's Grab for Power 1943-1944"
Short excerpts from: "Truth About World War II MIAs Still Covered Up."
by Richard L. Felman
The article appeared in "Tucson Citizen", Monday, November 9, 1992, (quote:)
... ... During World War II, I was one of more than 500 American airmen listed as missing in action for periods of up to 18 months after being shot down over German-occupied Yugoslavia.
Only through courageous efforts of General Draza Mihajlovich's anti-Communist guerrilla forces were we able to avoid capture, be gathered to safety at our bases in Italy.
To this day, the "Halyard Operation" REMAINS THE LARGEST ONE-TIME RESCUE OF AMERICANS FROM BEHIND ENEMY LINES IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY. For political reasons it have been covered up by our State Department.
During a recent visit to the archives at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, authorities at the highest level told me they could not believe there had been no record of such an *historic* *rescue* in their files.
Since the end of World War II, our group has petitioned Congress to allow us to publicly express our gratitude to those on foreign soil responsible for saving our lives while we were serving in defense of our country. Unfortunately, we have been fought every step of the way by the State Department's fear that truth would offend the post-war Communist government of Yugoslavia.
Even though that government no longer exists, the State Department continues to this very day to vigorously oppose the bills we now have before Congress, which have the support of the 8 million members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Air Force Association... ...
At this point, our disillusioned group of aging veterans has given up trying to repay our nations' *debt* *of* *honor* to those on foreign soil who saved American lives. After risking our lives and watching our buddies in combat get their arms, legs and heads blown off, we returned home to find an uncaring bloated bureaucracy that treated our service to country with contemtuous disregard.
After 47 years of disappointments our noble effort has failed. How can we expect the government to level with the American people about the MIAs in Vietnam when they are still covering up the truth about the MIAs from World War II?
Richard L. Felman is a retired Air Force major and president of the "National Committee of American Airmen Rescued by General Mihailovich."
(The integral text of this article will be posted later).
The truth belongs to us all.
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Last revised: March 25, 1997