First greetings to all and I am so glad that on this way we can contribute to the WW2 project with some of our researches and interesting facts on the same way as we did earlier for “The Great War” channel! p.s.I edit my post in the form of timeline in order to be more easy to follow all events.
World War II in Yugoslavia is definitely the most brutal, complicated, controversial and one of the saddest periods associated with the Balkans, which in many respects remained unclear or (mostly deliberately) unsettled until this days which is one of the basis of the problems for today’s relations in this region. Scars which the Second World War left on Yugoslavia are simply not measurable especially from the perspective of ordinary civilian citizens. I opened the general Yugoslavia topic with desire to present some interesting facts, sources, videos which I found, parts of the books that I read, but of course anyone with additional information is welcome. For now I will wrote just how it all started, but the topic will be updated by the time, hope as well by the other users who know more related to this topic.
June 1st 1939, Prince Paul Karađorđević (who was leading the politics instead of under aged Crown Prince Peter of Yugoslavia) had an official visit to Hitler where, according to the expression of the faces, it can be seen that neither Hitler nor Paul were specially enthusiastic about talks they had, although the prince and his wife were greeted with a full military and cultural honors. Hitler after told that Prince Paul is “like an eel” because when they were close to reach certain agreements he was hiding himself behind the decisions of Yugoslavian parliament. This game between Paul and Hitler will continue on diplomacy level until 1941 as long as the Paul could escape some Hitler demands.
March 24th 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia joined the Triple Pact of Germany, Italy and Japan under the great German pressure in the period of previous couple of months. The protocol was signed in Vienna by Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković and Joachim von Ribbentrop. An official banquet was held right after which present diplomats commented as the “funeral party”. Interesting fact is that protocol was translated by the member of Yugoslav diplomatic delegation Ivo Andrić, the only Yugoslav Nobel prize winner (1961, Nobel Prize for Literature). Before continuing I would like to recalled that Hitler had long been making a knot around Yugoslavia which back then tried to avoid any kind of conflict and events that were happening in the war turned Europe.
March 27th, 1941 When people in Belgrade find out about Yugoslavia’s accession to the triple pact, on the streets of city erupted total chaos with protests and slogans like “better grave than slave” and “long live allies Britain and US” even communist symbols were there on the streets. The conspiratorial group of senior Yugoslav Army officers, led by Brigadier General of the Air Force, Borivoje Mirković, threw three members of the Royal Imposition from power (including Prince Poul) and rule was handed over directly to the young and still under aged King Peter Karađorđević (son of King Alexander Karađorđević who was assassinated in Marseille during the visit to France 1934). Later, many would argue that this coup is directly staged from the side of British secret intelligence service in Belgrade which many dissatisfied citizens in Serbia unconsciously followed while everything culminated relatively fast.
April 6, 1941 Hitler went extremely angry by developments in Yugoslavia and ordered full scale attack that begins on April 6 when Germany starts a total retaliation on the territory of Kingdom Yugoslavia (so called April War in Serbia or Hitlers Operation Punishment) that will completely fall into the hands of Nazi Germany and Italian occupier forces only in a two weeks, while completely surprised and unorganized Yugoslav Army collapsed. Young Yugoslavian King Peter, is evacuated to London and Belgrade is devastated by the Nazi bombing campaign where just in two days number of dead according to the data of the city administration amounts to 4000, half of which is buried under the buildings… Among the non-military targets except many civilian houses during the bombing were and National Library of Serbia, which burned to the ground with the loss of hundreds of thousands of very important scripts and books of the world heritage importance (most of those books were uniques without any copies created) and the Belgrade Zoo so that chaos in the city would be as big as possible.
April 10th, 1941 German troops entered Zagreb (Croatia), and were welcomed from the large group of citizens with enthusiasm and filled with flowers. The Ustasha exponent Slavko Kvaternik proclaimed the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia so called NDH on behalf of Ante Pavelić. Germans at first offered rule of the newly formed state to Croat political leader Vlatko Maček, who refused to joined political activities of the newly formed Independent State of Croatia (later he will be sent to Jasenovac concentration camp by the Croatian authorities as an opponent and danger for the new state). Ante Pavelić returned from Italy to Zagreb on April 17th (before that agreeing with most of Mussolini requirements) becoming an absolute dictator of the newly formed Nazi puppet state. By the Treaty of Rome on May 18, 1941 NDH gave Italy most of Dalmatia with its cities and by this act rounds up its territory.
Entering of the German forces into Serbia and Yugoslavia, direct targets of the bombings, as well as the creation of the Independent Nazi State of Croatia, Chetniks and Partisans resistance movements and their battles, collaborative governments, ideologies, horrible massacres, order 100 executed for 1 killed German during the war and everything else deserves much more time, deep researche and great attention. Meanwhile you can watch this videos to get familiar with the topic:
Prince Paul visiting Berlin 1939:
Bombing of Belgrade 6th April, 1941:
Belgrade April and May 1941, After Germans Occupied town:
Entering of the German troops in Zagreb and Welcome by the Locals:
Serbia during WW2:
Public executions by the Germans in Pančevo 1941:
Jasenovac - Cruelest Death Camp in WW2 (with direct witnesses and English subtitles):
Early Resistance, Occupation, First Massacres, Politics (Spring 1941) :
After the occupation of Yugoslavia by the German and Italian troops and during the creation of an Independent Croatian State, resistance has already begun at the very beginning of this process which created more problems for the new occupiers who will try to crush resistance by forcing retaliation on local civilians. Yugoslavian army was almost whole broken with exception of the Colonel Draža Mihailović Fast Detachment (after renamed into Mountain Detachment) who refused to surrender. During the April war Kosta Pećanac formed his Chetnik forces in the Toplica area (not related with Mihailović). Communist and Partisan factor especially among the Serbs begins to grow during the whole summer after NOPOJ was formed. Catastrophe in Smederevo explosion just added more pain to the occupied Serbia…
- During April War Chetnik veteran Kosta Pećanac asked the Yugoslav Army and Navy Ministry to prepare the execution of Chetnik actions in southern Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo. He got weapons and money, and he armed several hundred people in the valley of the Toplice River. Pećanac’s detachments fought mostly against Albanian and Bulgarian armed groups in the early stages of the occupation.
Note: Who watched episodes of The Great War know that Kosta Pećanac together with Kosta Vojinović started the Toplica Uprising during the WW1. Now he is much older and by many he is unworthy to lead the resistance. Also not to be confused with the troops of Colonel Mihailović since they are totally different (Mihailović was official Yugoslav Army Colonel, Pećanac local guerilla leader (Chetnik duke) at this phase of the war).
- April 17th 1941 Colonel Draža Mihailović who stood as the great fighter during the whole WW1 with Serbian army starting from the battle of Cer in 1914 (first allies WW1 victory) until the allies breakthrough 1918 (battle of Dobro Pole) now with the rest of his troops he rejects received order for capitulation:
“I do not recognize capitulation, that word does not exist in Serbian language!”
Note: In the previous days during the April war Mihailović was retreating and has fought against the Croatian Ustashas forces around Derventa trying to avoid surrounding and hoping to reach back the Serbian territory from where he could re-group and organize eventual resistance.
- April 21st 1941 One German soldier in town of Pančevo was killed on April 20th with the 9 local Germans before this. Germans for excuse next day wrote that they were killed by the members of local Yugoslav Army Resistance movement while in fact everything was staged for avoiding the huge scandal among the German army. On April 20th for Hitlers birthday an incident occurred among the German soldiers in Pančevo where drunk German officer killed German solider after arguing with him. For retaliation (based on after fake staged attack event), on April 21st Germans executed 4 locals while on April 22nd 14 were hanged and 18 executed in total 36 killed (mostly Serbs but as well some Hungarians and Jews). All of this is recorded by the German cameraman Gottfried Kasel who keep this record in his private collection and make it public only in 1997 for the Nazi crimes exhibition which also brake out as a huge scandal (take a look on the video at the first post).
- May 11th 1941 With a small core of his officers, soldiers and armed escort, Colonel Mihailović has finally arrived on Ravna Gora in Serbia where he founded the command of Yugoslavian Army Chetnik Detachment.
- June 5th 1941 Explosion Catastrophe in town of Smederevo (Serbia) ! After April war newly arrived German occupying forces have decided to collect all confiscated and captured weapons from the Yugoslavian army into one place and for this they choose town of Smederevo which is not so far away from Belgrade and back then had railway connection for cargo (also town lay on Danube river with its own medieval fortress). On June 5th around 14h just at the time when local market was full of people not only from Smederevo but also from the other local villages for trading food day, mass explosion accrued blowing up all the seized weapons, munitions, fuels and devastating whole town killing more then 2000 people at once! Smederevo was almost whole destroyed till the ground and among victims were son, daughter-in-law and grandson of Milan Nedić who would who will later become the president of Serbian People’s Salvation Government (Serbian puppet government during WW2 Nazi occupation). Nobody is officially indicted for the explosion, but unofficially there are different theories who could be behind this action (communist spy, some leftover member of the Yugoslav Army, allies airplane, German soldier who throw the cigarette and blow up whole area…)
NOTE: Milan Nedić as a highly controversial person deserves topic for himself. Today, part of public sees him as a hero who tried to save as much people as he could in terrible occupying conditions, while others sees him as a traitor who led the puppet government and allowing killing of tens of thousands people by the Germans and small core of Serbian puppet Militia during his rule. No matter how the explosion in Smederevo left him a deep pain for his lost family which will certainly influence his decisions in the future.
- June 22nd 1941 The First Sisak Partisan Detachment was formed (Prvi sisački partizanski odred) in the forest near Brezovica, commandeered by Vjekoslav Janić. It was the first anti-fascist Partisan unit in the whole of occupied Yugoslavia. It counted 79 members and all names can be found wikipedia too.
- Jun 27th 1941 Headquarters of National Liberation and the Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia (NOPOJ) was formed. The same day central commit set Josip Broz Tito as the supreme commander of all Partisan military forces in order to liberate the country. Shortly thereafter, on July 1st, Comintern sent precise instructions with a call for immediate action against occupation.
Vermahta warrants (of 100.000 Reichsmarks in gold as the prize) for two different resistance movement leaders in Serbia! First for Colonel Mihailovic (Chetniks) and Second for Josip Broz Tito (Partisans) :
WARRANTS SOURCES PAGES FROM MUSEUM OF YUGOSLAVIAN HISTORY :
I agree with you about the War in Yugoslavia episodes being controversial. I think they’re going to be the most controversial (considering what happened to the Croatia and Serbia episodes in TGW) ones in the whole series so I feel like the team should take A LOT of care when looking into this subject.
I would like to add a very important date that I feel like you’ve missed.
June 22nd 1941 The First Sisak Partisan Detachment was formed (Prvi sisački partizanski odred) in the forest near Brezovica, commandeered by Vjekoslav Janić. It was the first anti-fascist partisan unit in the whole of occupied Yugoslavia. It counted 79 members and all names can be found here (sh wiki)
Thank you, I added this important date into timeline so that people can follow things easier… I agree LOT of care should be taken by doing Yugoslavia episodes. Many different warring sides, nationalities, many guerilla groups, many local and puppet-resistance militias, politics, governments, atrocities-massacres, propaganda, spying which makes Yugoslavia the most active place (unfortunately) under the Nazi occupation period comparing to the other occupied territories and countries in Europe.
First Uprisings, Guerilla Battles, Liberated Territories, Concentration Camps, National and Political Divisions, Genocides, Protests, Governments, Orders… (Summer 1941) :
Since unfortunately I had no time to go deeper into this topic, no one else reply after me and war in Yugoslavia almost started I now feel obligation to continue with some very important events that should not be skipped when we talk about Yugoslavia under the occupation and which outside of the main front deserve to be in WW2 episodes. I will continue with this post and will adding more in following days as much as possible.
Bloody summer of 1941 in Yugoslavia under the Nazi, Bulgarian and Italian occupation was very important point that will shape Balkan as we know today! Whole occupied Europe followed situation in boiling Yugoslavia where Germany can not put entire territory under its full control. This period is marked with the terrible battles between the Germans, Chetniks (two main fractions), Partisans and different local guerrilla. First joint actions and first divisions of Partizan and different Chetnik movements, the divisions within the Chetnik groups themselves, collaborations, but also heroism and betraying on all sides (moving from Chetniks to Partisans and vice versa), radio orders and direct secret contact from London and Moscow, establishment of already selected puppet governments, spying, forming of the most violent concentration camps in Europe, local revolutions, massacres, genocides, German high command orders for occupied territories in Yugoslavia and plans which prevented Hitler’s attack on Soviets earlier. As I wrote earlier this is just a chronology of events with basic short information about things that NEED to be mentioned, while more detailed researchers on certain events you can place under the comments or crew of the World World Two can go with the research based on this timeline (timeline for summer 1941 coming soon).
MAP OF LIBERATED TERRITORIES IN YUGOSLAVIA BY PARTISANS, CHETNIKS AND SOME INDEPENDENT LOCAL REVOLTS IN SEPTEMBER 1941:
TERRITORIES IN RED INCLUDING ALL GUERRILLAS CAPTURED AREAS…
Since the April war almost started and before I continue with important happenings list over the summer 1941 I would like to share one great interesting video on German-Italian attack on Yugoslavia in April 1941. Many people not talk a lot about this operation but Yugslavian forces (mostly Serbian) actually had quit a few battles during this attack and there were some important turn arounds in couple of places. There were even a few air battle combats between Yugoslavian army pilots and much stronger German planes which deserve a whole topic for itself. For more information turn ON the English captions of this YouTube video which very well described step by step what was happening before and during April war with detailed map. For those who already know the topic and watched WW2 channel episodes, more interesting will be maybe to move on to 9:50 where full map attack and army movements starting - SPOILER ALERT -
(this channel is Serbian version of Kings and Generals but is actually very good):
Bloody summer of 1941 in Yugoslavia under the Nazi, Bulgarian and Italian occupation was very important point that will shape Balkan as we know today! Whole occupied Europe followed situation in boiling Yugoslavia where Germany can not put entire territory under its full control. This period is marked with the terrible battles between the Germans, Chetniks (two main fractions), Partisans and different local guerrilla. First joint actions and first divisions of Partizan and different Chetnik movements, the divisions within the Chetnik groups themselves, collaborations, but also heroism and betraying on all sides (moving from Chetniks to Partisans and vice versa), radio orders and direct secret contact from London and Moscow, establishment of already selected puppet governments, spying, forming of the most violent concentration camps in Europe, local revolutions, massacres, genocides, German high command orders for occupied territories in Yugoslavia and plans which prevented Hitler’s attack on Soviets earlier. As I wrote earlier this is just a chronology of events with basic short information about things that NEED to be mentioned, while more detailed researchers on certain events you can place under the comments or crew of the World World Two can go with the research based on this timeline
Finally here we go! Pandora box is open… This above sums up pretty much uprising in Serbia but there is of course much more to be added not only for Serbian territory but for whole Yugoslavia in general. Important timeline and things to mention:
- Whole June of 1941 - Colonel Mihajlović, Kosta Pećanac, Tito in Belgrade and underground guerrilla, resistance movements are growing (first signs of different Chetnik groups and ideas rivalry in Serbia, Germans establishing power and their puppets in Belgrade, Croats forming forces in NDH, Spys and secret contacts from all sides, Tito is in Belgrade making his own secret network)…
Pećanac’s “Chetnik” forces remained intact after the German occupation of Serbia and supplemented its strength from Serb refugees fleeing Macedonia and Kosovo. Pećanac’s detachments fought against Albanian bands in the early summer of 1941. At this time and for a considerable time after, only detachments under Pećanac were identified by the term “Chetnik”.
On the other side Colonel Mihajlović organized his own Chetnik forces (after known as Yugoslav Army in the Homeland) by escaping from Croatia and Bosnia along the way fighting back against Ustaše detachments and German elements arriving to Ravna Gora region (Serbia). At start he had around 40 people but with conscripting local Serbs, small core of Muslim supporters and ex Serbian army stuff/soldiers that escaped Germans capturing in April war together with some local rebels his group is now growing rapidly especially in surrounding towns of Western Serbia and Montenegro.
There are signs that meanwhile Pećanac’s already get in touch with the Wehrmacht via SS officer Karl Kraus so do forces of Colonel Mihajlović who over the June had their own people in Belgrade searching for a possible resistance finance support among the Serbian leaders and reach people. Colonel Mihajlović declares in his statement addressed to Pećanac in June that “there can not be the two leaders in the same time”. Regarding to this Milan Nedić will after the war (when he was captured by communists and stocked at OZNA) gived a following statement that those two even meet personally in June 1941 to agree sort of cooperation, Nedić said following: “There should have been cooperation between Draža Mihaijlović and Kosta Pećanac, but they couldn’t agree on who will lead the resistance”. Meanwhile communists are organizing secret meetings and they are recruiting their sympathizers all over Yugoslavia, especially in Belgrade where Tito moved from Zagreb organizing underground propaganda speeches and spreading resistance materials. First Partisans detachment is organized on June in Sisak (Croatia) while Headquarters of National Liberation and the Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia (NOPOJ) was formed on June 27th in Belgrade with Tito as a leader. Actions are being planed for the first strikes against the Nazis. On June 9th, Commander of the 12th German Army, Field Marshal General Wilhelm List, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Wehrmacht in Southeastern Europe while in Belgrade puppet Commissary Administration had been organized to take a temporary role until the new government solution for Serbia appears. Commissary Administration was given to Milan Aćimović who was a huge anti-communist before the April war.
This administration had no major tasks other than the submission of reports, documentation and administration to the German occupying forces and leaders, however Aćimović will have his own rule order by the Germans to spot and locate possible resistance pockets in Serbia. Aćimović in that time secretly comes across the people of Colonel Draža Mihaijlović, to whome he will give support mostly by ignoring Mihaijlović peoples existence in Belgrade (although they already created supportive spy network in the capital) and providing to Mihaijlović different materials and money trough other lower ranked officials and regular people underground connections. Later that summer he will have huge problem with Partisans who will especially attack his anti-communist Commissary Administration rule.
In June 1941, Serbs in eastern Herzegovina rebelled against the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia! The first major unorganized revolt in the Occupied Yugoslavia and it is famous for not involving neither the Chetniks of Draža Mihailović (after known as Yugoslav Army in the Homeland) nor the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. This revolt was independent and was response to the Ustashe brutalities in very first stages of NDH creation and villages occupation. After large scale fighting rebellion was finally crashed with the help of Italian forces to the Ustashe Croats. During this period, tens of thousands of Serbs were expelled or fled to territories held by the Italians who were much less brutal towards the locals comparing to the Ustashe that were often acting as a local gangs rather than a real army. Many Serbs headed towards Serbia seeking refuge after their villages were destroyed.
- July 4th 1941 - First Partisans Attack, Uprising in Serbia Started (Bela Crkva)
That day in village of Bela Crkva, morning was dedicated to commemoration of the St. John birth of which was traditionally held in that Serbian village every year. After the ceremony, people were ordered to disperse and go home because of the occupational situation, but a group of local communists showed up with guns and weapons giving a speech to the people and refusing to go home when the local gendarmes appeared. A fierce feud ensued in which gendarmes and communists exchanged gunfight where couple of people died and were wounded on the both sides. Germans who arrived afterwords wrote following report: “communists tried to force population on armed resistance against the German crews in village and the destruction of German surrounding factories”. In the following days Germans will arrest 150+ communists and civilians in the region which will be afterwords executed on the various sites. Until today this event will remain shaded with many controversies.
- July 4th 1941 - CPY and Tito Decided to start with all out war against the Nazis!
Regarding the recent events on the field in Belgrade (at the villa in Dedinje) was held a historic session of the Politburo of the CPY (Communist party of Yugoslavia) led by the Secretary General, Josip Broz Tito, at which it was decided: to move from sabotage small actions into a general uprising; making partisan warfare begin. The session elaborated a plan for the development of partisan operations in Serbia and a plan for the creation of free territory in its western part of the country. Local forces to be organized in groups ready for action everywhere possible.
- July 5th 1941 - Banjica Concentration Camp in Belgrade is Formed
Germans started to gather all the possible oppositions to them in Belgrade and its surrounding forming the Banjica concentration camp in the Belgrade suburb area. They will soon start with capturing local communists, civilians, jews, gypsies, chetniks, spies and everyone who opposed them at that point. Over the time until the end of its existence there will be around 4000 confirmed executions and more then 20,000 inmates often kept in horrifying conditions.
- July 7th 1941 - Racial Laws in NDH (Croatia) - Serbs Marking, Racial Classifications and counting of Jews-Gypsies, New State Organisation, Communists and Serbs Massacres…
On July 7th the set of new laws was adopted in NDH (Independent State of Croatia) and some past laws voted in the last two months also becomes active in July among which the most important is the one which said that all Serbs should come to designated places for their check wherever they are currently in the territory of new Croatian state. In case that they not shows up in the next 10 days voluntarily they will be arrested and sent to concentration camps immediately without complaining rights. Regarding to the racial classifications set of law signed by Ante Pavelić himself on the end of April, Jews and Gypsies who are not Aryan race should be counted and treated too as well people who have them in their families.
Last month in June 1941 at Berchtesgaden (Germany) Ante Pavelić visited the leader of the Third Reich Adolf Hitler and expresses his gratitude for the creation of the Independent Croatian state.
By the new laws Croats are forbidden, among other things, from trading or receiving gifts from Serbs and Jews while organizing departments for arresting and gathering arrested people on different camp locations are formed with secret instructions about treatment of the newly arrested prisoners regarding to their race, finances, status etc, signed on July 2nd by Josip Ražanković in Zagreb. Also two days before this Ustasha government of the NDH published a legal provision placing all persons who had acted in any way against the new Ustasha authorities under the direct fast court including Croats.
Mass arrests and executions in NDH already begun and maybe the famous at that month was a group of political prisoners (mostly Croatian communists and other anti-fascists) who were to be executed in retaliation for first Partisan attacks. On 9 July 1941, the first group, including Božidar Adžija, Otokar Keršovani and Ognjen Prica, was executed. The KPH and local Partisans responded by organizing a mass-escape on the 13 July 1941, the escape failed and most prisoners were either shot whilst escaping or were recaptured and executed.
- July 13th 1941 - Huge Uprising in Montenegro (Against Italian Occupation)
Uprising was supported and planed by the members of communists party, but was supported by many Royalist fractions and local tribes in Montenegro. Practically Milovan Đilas as its idea scriptor who by the Tito order went from Belgrade into Montenegro with the task of organizing another Partisans revolt against new Italian occupation. Uprising started on July 13th but was soon joined by all variety of fractions and gangs including many non communists locals, but as well even the famous future high ranked Chetnik pro Serbian Royalist members like Pavle Đurišić who distinguished himself in multiple battles with Italians and who lead the large number of his people.
Milovan Đilas (Communist Leader in Tito Partisans Movement):
Pavle Đurišić (Royalist Chetnik Commander of Draža Mihajlović Forces)
Uprising started with Mojkovac attacked and captured (the same area where the battle against the Austrians during WW1 was held). In following two days Italians were at shock since they were losing places like Cetinje and multiple villages deep in the Montenegrin territory. They were often captured of guard not having idea by the upcoming rebel attacks. Another blow happened over the large battle for Berane town on 17th July where Partisans together with the local gangs and Serbian Royalist (afterwords mostly Chetniks of Colonel Mihaijlović) liberated town including and Bijelo Polje some days after forcing Italians into retreat. Mussolini was extremely unsatisfied with developments and appointed Alessandro Pirzio Biroli as the main action commander to suppress the uprising. In the middle of July they gathered forces of around 70.000 strong to made an counter attack on the uprising, including the large groups of local Albanians and Albanian gangs from Kosovo (mainly from Đakovica) who sided with Italian forces. Fighting, pauses and negotiations between Italians and Rebels with multiple capturing of different villages which were passing from hand of once to the others will continue throughout whole summer. More about Uprising ending in the winter campaign topic.
- July 22nd 1941 - Uprising in Slovenia (Partisans shot former Policeman)
The first Partisan shot in the Slovene Lands was fired by Miha Novak on 22 July 1941 at a former Yugoslav policeman who was claimed to have collaborated with the Germans and to have betrayed to them local supporters of the Communist Party. The man was attacked by the Šmarna Gora Partisan group from an ambush at Pšatnik Forest near Tacen. The Germans arrested about 30 people and executed two of them afterwords.
- July 22nd 1941 - Ustashe Massacres of Serbs and Croat Communists
In the multiple Serbian villages around Duvna (Croatia), the Ustasha gangs began a two-day massacres raid that killed 248 people in total many of them women and children. In Livno Ustasha arrested about 160 Serbs and dozen of Communists Croats who were afterwords mostly executed. Couple of days after Ustasha forces enters Petrinja where they killed, arrested and forced into exile more then 1000 local Serbs. First gun skirmishes between local Serbs, communists (both Serbs and Croats) and Ustashe had started on different villages in the same time.
- July 27th 1941 - Serbs in NDH (Croatia) Organize Large Uprising!
In response to previous Croatian Ustasha attacks, Serbian locals and different Communists-Chetnik forces organized an large scale revenge counter attacks and conquered multiple villages in area of Drvar including vilage of “Serb” where they destroyed and occupied the Ustasha police station while on that day, 37 Croats were killed in the village of Brotinji. On the first day of uprising, the Serb rebels from Bosnian Krajina and Lika managed to seize control over territory which was 270 kilometreslong and 45 kilometres wide. Since the first days of the uprising the communists gradually forged their Partisan republic and on 30 July 1941 they established Military-Revolutionary Council which was the supreme governing institution for the whole region. During next two months Serbian locals, Communists and Chetnik rebels managed to capture additional territory including Mrkonjić Grad with some Western Bosnian towns. Following days rebels attacked large Croatian village of Borićevac, which at that moment had the largest Ustasha units in the area where they killed around 170 people and some of them forced into exile (both Ustashe and Croatian civilians). Fighting and bloodshed between Ustashe and Rebels will continue over the whole Summer in which civilians will suffer the most.
- July 30th 1941 - Glina Massacre (one of the most gruesome crimes of the whole war)
Glina (Independent State of Croatia) July-August massacre was marked as one of the most gruesome war crimes of the whole war in occupied Yugoslavia. Glina, place where large Serbian population used to live already suffered couple of months before in May where different Croatian Ustashe gangs forced many Orthodox Serbs into conversion to Catholicism and those who did not converted were closed and slaughtered in churches or houses. Similar to that event but this time just in much larger shape and on the multiple locations Serbs were forced into the main Glina Church in order to receive Catholicism but instead of that doors on the Church were locked down and Ustashe lead by Vjekoslav Luburić (one of the central Ustashe figure who stands behind the concentration camp ideas) started slaughtering people with knives one by one placing them on the ground. That night only Ljubo Jednak survived by pretending that he is dead. He would after the war describe in details what Ustashe did that night and will also help in 1946 mass grave discoveries around Glina testifying in court against some NDH officials. Number of killed Serbian civilians in Glina and its surrounding for those couple of days is counted between 1000 and 2000 with most of victims slaughtered by knives.
- Early August 1941 - Jasenovac Concentration Camp Construction (Auschwitz of the Balkans)
Construction of the “Jasenovac Labor Camp” which will soon become largest killing factory in Balkans and the largest concentration camp lead by the non Germans in the whole Europe, started in a first weeks of August 1941 close to the village with the same name on the Sava river banks with possibility of railway access. First force labor until end of September was sent over to the villages of Bročice and Krapje which already contained some barracks around vicinity of Jasenovac where they will start with torturing inmates who will start constructing objects in impossible conditions. First larger group of Serbian civilian detainees began arriving in freight cars at the Jasenovac station, around August 20th with the train wagons for animals. Lot of people did not survived even the train ride where they were placing multiple people of all ages inside of wagons often one on another. Initial idea was movement of local Serbs, Jews, Roma and Croatian Communists from the multiple locations where they were already kept in prison or in a smaller camps/groups places for the force labor. Again as the person who will be main ideologist’s of the whole camp work/organization is appointed Vjekoslav Luburić (mentioned above) who would even tour the German concentration camps in order to find “the best ways” to deal with the force labor in Independent State of Croatia. Luburić was even described from the side of many Ustashe as “absolute fanatic” who will become one of the closest Pavelić people and who was already responsible for brutal murdering of the local Serbs in the past months around multiple villages and towns (including Glina massacre). Today many historians have a great discussion about how many people were killed in Jasenovac numbers are going from 70.000 up to one million killed. Additional issue representing fact that Ustashe created specific burning spot which worked almost until the end of camp existence where they were burning bodies of killed and died prisoners.
- August 3rd 1941 - First larger Cashes Between Partisans and Nazis in Serbia (Kosmaj Area).
Kosmaj Partisans detachment entered the village of Stojnik, near Sopot village where they captured local police office and give a speech to the locals for recruiting people while suddenly German patrol together with Serbian puppet government policemant arrived, clashes broke out right away and Germans were forced into retreat. Two days before there were small clashes between the German units and local Partisans in this area as well. Nazi troops will after this incident come back with mass arrests of civilians and communist party members/sympathizers preparing for an large scale action in Kosmaj surrounding (which is small mountain near the Belgrade).
Meanwhile during the whole week there were further actions of communist individuals and small Partisan groups all around Yugoslavia, like Partisans Bomb attacks on Ustasha unit in Zagreb, fighting against small Partisans group in Kikinda (Serbia) which Nazi troops broke and arrest, Gestapo arrests in villages, Ustasha raids of multiple Serbian positions, Chetnik-Partisans attacks on Ustashe positions in Croatia as well fail Italian attack on village near Podgorica where they came with around 100 soldiers in order to revenge last week loses in this area but were waited in trap by the locals who take them by surprise and force them into full retreat across the river Morača where most of them drown marking one more failure of Italian troops in the region. Members of Communists Party of Yugoslavia had large meeting in Skopje screening current situation and making changes in structure with plans for the further activities. In East Bosnia brakes out one more large Uprising against Ustashe lead by the huge group of Chetnik and Communist forces.
- August 8th 1941 - Kosmaj Counter-Attack Offensive by Germans (“Operation Baden”).
Following up on the events of the past week where fighting on Kosmaj mountain near Belgrade broke out against Partisans detachments and locals who forced Germans into retreat, this time General Friedrich Stahl organized forces of 8000 strong Nazi troops in 714 Infanterie-Division for an large scale counter offensive of clearing the area from the Partisans/Communists and locals who took multiple villages in Kosmaj mountain range. On the same day German troops surrounded the mountain, however most of Partisans successfully leave the encirclement because they were informed from Belgrade underground spies network about German troops arrival hours before action begin, except for Mladenovac detachment that stood and fight trying to brake the encirclement (due to not receiving an information about upcoming German arrival on time) losing most of their people among which famous communist party members Rade Jovanović and Branko Krsmanović (who also participated in the Spanish Civil war). German attack was actually fail since most of Partisan troops (that number couple of hundreds at the moment) leave without any notice except single detachment but Germans provided new arrests of the locals upon their arrival and started with reprisals actions in all nearby villages. Near the battle place today standing one large memorial monument dedicated to Kosmaj Partisans.
- August 10th 1941 - East Bosnia Uprising (Chetniks liberates Han Pijesak, Partisans liberates Šekovići and together they captured Vlasenica)*
Chetnik leader of East Bosnia Aćim Babić who last month come in touch with Draža Mihailović via secret channels, based on the orders received from him prepared in secret large group of his royalists who were hiding in local forests and hangouts ready for the uprising start. There were joined by many locals who escaped Ustashe slaughtering in surrounding villages in the past days. Meanwhile on the opposing side Partisans were already fighting with Ustashe capturing many villages at once in the past days. Battles from both sides started around 5th of August when Partisans made offansive on Šekovići village advancing and braking through Vlasenica, meanwhile Chetniks of Aćim Babić attacked and captured Han Pjesak which was important because of its railway connection and train which they captured from Ustashe enabling them fast transport between couple of free villages. They advanced towards Vlasenica too. On the 10th from a two different sides Ustashe troops were attacked in Vlasenica and were soon forced into full retreat. In a joint Partisans-Chetniks report is written: “Partisans of the District Headquarters for Birač and the Mountain Chetnik Group captured Vlasenica. The crew (parts of the 4th Croatian Home Guard Border Battalion and the local gendarmerie platoon) were broken up and partly captured.” This event is important since the battle for East Bosnia will now heat up and Chetniks and Partisans get in touch with their territories as well as the braking of relations between Chetniks and Partisans afterwords and Chetnik leaders themselves once Chetnik commander Jezdimir Dangić arrived and tried to take control over Aćim Babić troops.
- August 13th 1941 - Public Appeal to the Serbian People (Against Partisans / Communists)
In response to the ongoing Partisans revolt actions, Aćimović Puppet government administration “encouraged” (of course by the direct order from the Nazi officials) around 500 prominent and influential Serbs to sign the Appeal to the Serbian Nation, which was published in the German-authorised Belgrade daily newspaper Novo Vreme (New Time) on 13th and 14th August 1941. Those that signed included three Serbian Orthodox bishops, and at least 81 professors from the University of Belgrade, although according to the historian Stevan K. Pavlowitch, many of the signatories were placed under pressure to sign (in many sources German troops and puppet militia threaten directly to those who are not signing that they will suffer future consequences). The appeal called upon the Serbian population to help the authorities in every way in their struggle against the communist rebels, and called for loyalty to the Nazis, condemning the Partisan-led resistance as unpatriotic. The Serbian Bar Association unanimously supported the Appeal. Aćimović also gave orders that the wives of communists and their sons older than 16 years of age be arrested and held, and the Germans burned their houses and imposed curfews if needed. However many promenent people of that time avoid or rejected to give signature which for many will create a serious trouble in the near future. The Aćimović administration had so far suffered 246 attacks between 1 July and 15 August, killing 82 rebels for the loss of 26. The Germans began shooting hostages and burning villages in response to attacks.
*Text source wikepedia thogether with my comments above. Full Appeal visible only in Serbian.
- August 15th 1941 - Nazi Troops Retaliations Actions (Skela Massacre in Serbia)
German troops in Serbia set off with “official” PUBLICLY announced revenge actions on occupied Serbian territories against civilians and prisoners. Sekela village near the Obrenovac town was the first target of those public actions since there were a shooting on the German patrol cars days before close to the village. Heinrich Dankelmann (who was commander in charge for the revenge Nazi plans in Belgrade) set the order for prisoners captured previous days + 8 randomly choose local villagers of Skela to be killed in front of everyone, however plan goes even beyond this once the Germans enter in village and created total mass by burning 350 houses/village objects and killing on the spot 67 people (from which around 40 were brought from Banjica concentration camp for public execution while others were local villagers) although many are claiming that numbers are way higher then what was written in report. Germans also print a public poster announcement that “Vllage of Skela is Now Destroyed and Burned to the Ground” together with pictures of killed civilians which they made for propaganda purposes (second image is next to the German cars which local rabels shot couple of days before).
*Images from the village massacre as well full details of action can be found only in Serbian, wiki
Simultaneously German troops often with direct help of local puppet militia in Serbia (forces lead by collaborator and highly controversial Nazi ideologist supporter Dimitrije Ljotić who also had his own party “Zbor” and was a huge anti-communists and later anti-chetnik") , especially in Belgrade are working on “solving” the Jewish issue by capturing all male Jew members from their homes who would later be transported on multiple concentration camps sites inside and outside occupied Serbian territory mostly in Belgrade especially in places like Banjica Camp and Jajinci Shooting Ground. Most of them will be killed or executed creating Belgrade in the future first “Jewish Free” city in Eastern Europe. Holocaust will continue during the whole 1941. Jajinci Park in Belgrade (and Banjica concentration camp) shooting ground in August 1941 become a mass execution area where Germans (and small number of local puppet militia) until the end of its existence killed more then a 80.000 people Jews, Roma, Serbs, Partisans and Chetniks who opposed German authorities. Locals who lived around Jajinci and Banjica were horrified by hearing those shootings which were carried out almost on daily bases around the same time at down knowing that another group of prisoners were being killed (Jajinci are in the near city vicinity so stories tell that who were brought there as prisoner he will never coming back). Victims were often tortured on various ways and forced to dig their own holes before they were shoot. Today it is important memorial park in the nice area of Belgrade.
Last but also very important regarding to this topic: on the August 17th 1941, Germans started with public hangings in Belgrade City Center. Head of the Belgrade Gestapo SS Karl Kraus (the same one who gets in touch with Kosta Pećanac in the timeline for July) and military commander Heinrich Danckelmann ordered “EXEMPLARY IMPLEMENTATION OF RETALIATION IN BELGRADE”. A total of five people were hanged that day for the punishment of past actions in Kosmaj and other places. Bodies are left to swing on the street lights in front of the shocked people on which were hanged Nazi propaganda posters about communist terrorist bands and their collaborators. From this day German troops will hanging people very often in the Belgrade city center during the whole war showing off their power against the locals and resistance members usually making posters describing communists, jews, communists or royalists terrorists and traitors.
Further summer period will be one of the most devastated in the history of the whole Balkans. Rest part of August, September and October will mark huge battles, huge genocides and the largest local resistance from the whole Europe of that time. I will continue with a time table soon…
After the Kosmaj Battle on August 8th 1941 with the start of uprising period in Serbia itself, we are entering in real hot twilight zone in Yugoslavian topic and maybe the most catastrophic summer in modern Serbian history which will cause a long term historical consequences and division which goes so far that is even visible today. Events in August, September, October and November 1941 will show mass resistance but as well mass killings and some huge battles that will force Germans and Italians to switch their attention to Balkans again.
In order to understand how everything was developing in the Serbian Uprising against the Nazis in Serbian occupied territory check the animated map together with Chetniks, Partisans and Germans with every battle shown and described well by narrator. I strongly advise watching of the following video which was actually placed recently and in my opinion was made very straight forward and objective considering how hard this topic actually is. Video is on Serbian but I will place legends under the video so that you can follow, it is actually very easy for understanding if you follow the marked circles.
(this channel is Serbian version of Kings and Generals but is actually very good):
TWO KEY STARTING EVENTS:
2:00 - Battle of Kosmaj (Partisans vs Germans), Partisans escaped encirclement with some losses.
3:20 - Battle of Loznica (Chentiks vs Germans), Chetniks captured Loznica against Germans.
Red Circles - Partisan Units (under the Josip Broz Tito command) Blue Circles - Chetnik Units (under the Draža Mihailović command)
Nazi Flag - Nazi German Troops
In the next post I will continue with the timeline where I left off, from August 17th (that is also mentioned in the video) which will describe most of the video events more in details and in English.
- 18th August 1941 - Ustashe Counter-Attack the Serbian Uprising and Croatian Partisans"
Ustashe militia started with a large scale counter attack on uprising Serbian rebels in Kozora mountain area with four battalions occupying numerous villages along the way arresting, killing and setting locals houses on fire. After clashes with much larger Ustashe troops rebels were forced back into movement twords Kozara mountain. On the same day Italians and Ustashe started joint offensive on Croatian Šibenik Partisans Detachment where most of Partisans escaped encirclement, however with couple of people killed in action and some captured. Battles will continue in following days as well.
- 23rd August 1941 - Partisans liberated Bosnian Town of Doboj and retreat after two days"
During World War II, Doboj was an important site for the Partisan resistance movement. From their initial uprising in August 1941 up until the end of the war, the Ozren Partisan squad carried out numerous diversions against the occupation forces, among the first successful operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 23rd of August Doboj was captured by the Partisans together with large amount of munition including important railway hub and other equipment. The city was an important stronghold for permanently stationed Ustasha and Domobran garrisons with smaller German units serving as liaison and in defense of important roads and railroads. Two days afterwords Ustashe made counter attack returning Doboj back under their control including important railroad network.
Waffen SS “Handschar” division was partly mobilized from the local population and participated in battles around Doboj in the summer and the fall of 1944. During this time, the Ustaša fascist regime, a puppet state of Nazi Germany, purged many pro-Partisan civilians to concentration and labor camps.
- 27th August 1941 - Kosta Pećanac issued "Proclamation to the Dear People"
Kosta Pećanac issued public “Proclamation to the Dear People”, in which he presented himself (and his Chetniks) as only defenders and protectors of Serbs and called on detachments that were still fighting without his approvals or making crimes around Serbia under the “fake” Chetnik names to stop with this and come under his direct command. Pećanac also demanded that individuals hiding in the forests return to their homes immediately and that the sabotage of state property and the property of the occupying authorities should be stopped or that they will be punished by death. Pećanac gave an ultimatum of 8 days in total to all forces to execute his decisions. Who agree with proclamation he will enjoy Pećanac personal protection excluding for those who already made crimes against civilians.
(here he was mostly thinking on those independent groups who were calling themselves Chetniks but were in fact just local bands without any superiors. Also he was as well thinking on Chetniks who are still undefined (self organized) and Chetniks of Draža Mihailović who were in some areas fighting the Germans and against local puppet government authorities, even working with Partisans).
(however they translated this wrongly in the link above since Tito and Communism in this proclamation were never mentioned so the person who translated this in source by intention place stuff wrongly!)
OPINION NOTE : With this document Pećanac clearly sided himself publicly with the puppet government in Belgrade (particularly with new Nedić puppet government who will come instead of Aćimović two days afterwords) showing that he will receive further commands from them and occupying German authorities making a clear line between himself and Chetniks of Draža Mihailović that are currently organizing groups for guerilla warfare. However situation on the terrain itself is very confusing since many Pećanac Chentiks already established relations with Chetniks of Draža Mihailović and are even planing further joint actions against the Germans while some of them were clearly against Mihailović troops. Some historians however claiming that after Pećanac made a contact with the German Gestapo he was actually forced to write and sign such a statement (read previous timeline about his secret contacts with SS officer Karl Kraus). In any case, especially after this proclamation many Chetniks left the ranks of Kosta Pećanac and place themselves under the direct command of Draža Mihailović Chetniks (also known as Yugoslav Army in Homeland or Ravna Gora Movement).
IMPORTANT for this topic is Pećanac’s own view on the current situation. Similar to the WW1 when he was the commander in the rebellion region of Toplica, his wish was certainly to spare Serbian civilians especially from Bulgarian and German retaliations, just now in his older years by concluding agreements with the Germans. What is even more interesting is that from some reports on August 24th (so three days before this proclamation) Communist Partisan forces (NOP) had secret meeting with Pećanac as well. In some reports later on after the war there was even mentioning of the British officer who was seen operating in his camp. How true these allegations were it only remains to be investigated.
- 29th August 1941 - Puppet Government of National Salvation in Serbia (Belgrade) is Formed
Day before on August 28th Milan Aćimović Puppet Commissary Administration in Belgrade resigned due to growing dissatisfaction of locals but and German commanders too who are not satisfied with measures introduced so far against Partisans, Chetniks and other guerrilla groups that began to form in occupied Serbian territories. Germans at this point needed stronger figure then Aćimović who was compromised with many scandals until this point and harsh policies towards some elite people. That figure they now found in Milan Nedić who although led the army against Germany in the attack on Macedonia during the April war, he had strong anti-communistic feelings and was in the eyes of Serbs much more respected then Milan Aćimović.
German commanders visited Nedić several times in order to make an agreement with him, and Nedić had certain conditions for German authorities in order for the new government to be formed under his rule. Some of these demands were quite serious, including the release of elderly and politically unfit people from the concentration camps in Serbia, possibility of running the country on the governmental way, local militias formation of up to 10.000 people and that Serbian captives in German camps be allowed visits of doctors, contacts and eventual releases. Battle with communism should stayed internal conflict within Serbia and Serbian people. One of those conditions (although not on that paper) was and agreement of legalizing the Kosta Pećanac Chetniks (which was done two days before under the condition that Germans will provide orders for Pećanac through the puppet government). German authorities will “accept” those conditions only on paper, however later on non of those conditions will be fully respected even in most of the cases totally broken. It should be noted that Nedić was extremely depressed at that moment because of the Smederevo Explosion in which his son and daughter-in-law were killed.
On August 29th Milan Nedić formed his Government of National Salvation with some new and old names inside of it including and EX Puppet Commissary Administration leader Milan Aćimović while puppet militia will be held by Dimitrije Ljotić who is already mentioned above. Comparing to Ljotić who was against any revolt and who actually suggested Nedić as a possible solution to Germans, Nedić had secret sympathies for the Chetniks movement of Draža Mihailović with whom he will stay in touch until the end of war. Also this puppet government comparing to the past Aćimović Commissary Administration will have a bit more freedom choices options in some decisions making and limited operational options although everything will be still under the German rule, orders and final decision approvals control. To this day, Nedić remains a very controversial figure, by some looked as a war criminal allowing Germans to totally clean Serbia from Jews, Communists and civilians while by the others he is a hero who saved many civilians from the certain death in camps around the country including many refugees from Nazi Croatia who are already fleeing in mass after the NDH was formed.
- 31st August 1941 - BATTLE OF LOZNICA (Chetniks vs Germans) - Loznica is the first liberated town from the Nazi German troops in the occupied Yugoslavia but also in the whole Europe!*"
Introduction to events before this battle are maybe even more interesting and in many ways unique in the military history. Battle of Loznica will start chain of irreversible events on the Balkans that will directly lead to the Uprising in Serbia against the Germans occupation by Chetniks and Partisans.
Lieutenant Colonel Veselin Misita, Bosnian Serb who after the April war 1941 refused to surrender to Ustasha troops (with whom his troops were fighting in sporadic clashes), now heard that in Serbia around Ravna Gora, Mihailović organized large group of locals and non-surrender forces preparing them for the uprising. Somehow he succeed and in July 1941 he arrived in Serbia joining the guerilla ranks of Draža Mihailović at Ravna Gora where Mihailović will personally appointed him for one of the main commanders of the Podrinje region (region around Drina River between Bosnia and Serbia) with the main goal of recruiting as much people as possible for the following uprising. Misita was good choice since he had interesting military career before, knowing multiple languages and knowing military organization functioning. On his arrival in that region German troops already started with mass arrests of local Serbs and many people were fastly joining his troops among which was maybe the most interesting figure father of the local Tronosha Orthodox Serbian Monastery near Loznica, Monk Georgije Bojić who would join the Chetniks and will fight until the end of WW2.
Although the battles where Chetniks and Partisans were fighting in Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia already started and were in the full swing capturing large territories from Ustashe and Italians, in Serbia situation was different where German troops with much more serious forces and logistics were located. Partizans escaped encirclement of German troops at Kosmaj Battle in the last moments and Operation Biden happen 20 days before already showed what Germans are capable of in just two-three days of their offensive in Serbia gathering and killing civilians afterwords. Knowing this Chetnik (JVO) leader Draža Mihailović still avoided clashes with Germans and make clear order to all his troops in the occupied Serbian territory to wait for his further instructions. In his opinion Germans were too strong in the region and not possible to be broken while also he gets in direct touch with Radio London secretly connecting with the Serbian King and Yugoslav government in the exile.
On the other side Veselin Misita and his troops were already developing serious plans for defeating the Germans in close town of Loznica where Germans had about 100 soldiers from the XI Company, III Battalion 738 Infantry Regiment. August 30th Chetniks of Veselin Misita together with Monk Georgije Bojić had meeting in Tronosha Monastery and without other high commander approvals self-willed with agreements from the other present Chetnik and locals who could no longer wait for the attack and shouted “we want a fight” commanders decided to attack Loznica day afterwords. For this action he had already serious force of 1500 Chetniks and locals at disposal but only 500 could actually actively participate in the battle while others were placed in the eventual trap zones surrounding the town. It was agreed that an ultimatum would be sent to the German troops first and that otherwise in case they reject (as expected) there would be an all out assault on the besieged town from all sides.
Morning of the August 31st, Bells of the Tronosha Monastery and most of other Churches surrounding the Loznica started ringing in the same moment, calling locals to gather for the start of the uprising. Before this over the night locals and Chetniks already secured all the accesses to the town and block the roads making a traps on the way to it. Once Chetniks surrounded the whole town in the early morning they send courier to Germans calling them for unconditional surrendering which they rejected and baricade themselves in the various buildings in town center especially at Gymnasium and Bife Bar Hajduković. In that moment Misita troops fired seven shoots as a signal for others that battle beginning and all out assault lead by Misita started from all sides four sides. Germans had Machine-Guns, however they were were soon covered with fire on all sides from poorly equipped but much larger in numbers Chetnik and local groups. Misita personally lead the attack and died one of the first throwing bombs at the Germans positions while he was killed by machine-gun. Not having exit German troops surrender and lay down their weapons. Loznica was liberated and German soldiers were taken prisoners for the first time on the occupied territory from the side of locals in Europe! Whole town celebrated afterwords and new local council was set. Germans hearing for the news sent more troops right away to Loznica for help to their troops not knowing exactly what was going on out there.
PICTURE:Orthodox Monk Georgije Bojić from Tronosha Monastery one of the Chetnik battle leaders.
Monk Georgije Bojić wrote the letter with a news of Loznica liberation to Draža Mihailović and that fighting will continue. Draža Mihailović was at first angry since they not respected his orders of non attacking without his command but faced with the fact that uprising had already begun, he ordered further actions against the Germans in that region. In this short battle Germans lost 12 and Chetniks around 10 people with 93 Germans taken as prisoners of war! Both sides had more wounded troops.
INTERESTING:One British intelligence officer also took part in this battle on the Serbian side.
Croatian Ustasha butchered Serbs all over what today is Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, not just in concentration camps such as Jasenovac (there were 40+ concentration camps in Independent State of Croatia in WW2!) but also killing of Serb population by throwing them into deep pits which was especially brutal as they would throw live people and children to fall from 30-40m and sometimes more than 100m to reach the deep end.
Here is a documentary, well covered with witnesses and testimonies of those who survived it, in English, for those with stomach and interest to know:
- 31st August to 1st September 1941 - Battle of Zavlaka - Chetniks beat the German troops which were sent from Valjevo as a support to the troops in occupied Loznica.
Battle of Zavlaka is significant battle that followed liberation of Loznica town day before. Chetniks clashed with a company of Germans in the strength of 207 soldiers under the command of Captain Von der Olenitz, who set out from Valjevo to help the attacked garrison in Loznica. That unit clashed near Osečina with a small group of Chetniks and managed to break through to Zavlaka. Chetnik (of Draža Mihailović) Captain Draja Jeremić was on Zavlaka with his battalion and his own brother Dušan, which received the fight with the Germans. In the first clash, Germans, far better armed with automatic weapons, suppressed the Chetniks, occupied Zavlaka, took control of a hill above that village and barricaded themselves in the houses of the conquered place for defense but then the Chetniks carried out an surprise return attack and took full control over the hill above Zavlaka. In that fight, Captain Draja Jeremić was killed during the assault, cut by a burst of German machine guns, his brother Dušan Jeremić took the lead command while on German side Captain Von der Olenitz was killed as well. Although with not many troops on both side this battle was described as very intensive with Chetniks securing the access and road controls to Loznica. In the battle around 40 Germans and around 30 Chetniks were killed while other German troops surrendered after hill was encircled.
PICTURE:Chetnik Captain Dušan Jeremić who take over the command after his brother was killed
*source facebook, private archive
- 1st to 6th September 1941 - Battle for Banja Koviljača - cheered by the recent capturing of Loznica town, Chetniks loyal to Draža Mihailović continues with advances and attacked Banja Koviljača
After they captured Loznica, Chetniks continued with their advances in Podrinje area and this time focused on a small spa town Banja Koviljača close to Drina river securing access to the whole area before attack. In Banja Koviljača, the Germans had considerable forces of the 3rd Battalion of the 738th Infantry Regiment while the Chetniks from Jadar and other local detachments had large amount of troops under the command of Monk Georgije Bojić and Nikola Radovanović (mentioned in the Battle of Loznica). Chetniks attacked Germans in onslaught several times, trying to push them back but well organized German unites constantly repulsed their attacks and interestingly for this battle, they called Ustasha Croatian troops who were located on the other side of the Drina river to help them, which they did first with artillery support and afterwords with direct fights against Chetniks crossing the river. On the other side Chetniks made agreement with Partisans Mačva Detachment and Valjevo Detachment which at that time was located in the area nearby and in the last moment arrived to the help Chetniks who already regrouped and made joint counter-offensive in the whole town surrounding area capturing Banja Koviljača and forcing Germans and Ustashe into retreat. One more interesting thing about the battle is that German troops used electrical wire that killed some Chetnik troops, however not enough to stop their and Partisans mass advances. Joint Partisans-Chetniks outpost will be created in newly occupied places marking the beginning of their cooperation putting aside ideology differences (for now).
*exact data about the battle casualties is not correctly written on Wiki since there were many killed and wounded on the both sides. However it is unclear how many due to different sources.
NOTE: In the same time Bogatić, Svilajnac and some other smaller places had been liberated too…
- 2nd to 4th September 1941 - Krupanj Battle - Valjevo Partisan Detachment and Chetnik detachments of Pop Zečević in joint encirclement conquered Krupanj from Germans.
Krupanj Battle happens in the same time as the battle for Banja Koviljača where Valjevo Partisans Detachment including Žikica Jovanović Španac (who actually started the whole uprising in Serbia by shooting at two gendarmes in Bela Crkva which is still highly depated event) and Chetnik Detachment of Pop Zečević (who would afterwords join the Partisans once the war between them started) with commander Martinović together begun the encirclement of Krupanj town. Similar to the tactics from Battle of Loznica they conscripted locals, wrote an ultimatum informing the German troops in town that they were now completely surrounded and that (in case of resistance) everyone would be killed to the last one. Around 23h Germans rejected ultimatum after getting an strict order from the in-charge Nazi officials in Belgrade (and promise that help is under way) that surrendering is not possibility. Fighting started at the dawn of next day where fierce hand bombings and machine guns began to fire from the two different sides of town against Germans who barricaded themselves in the local Krupanj buildings with the town Hospital as the main defense zone. German troops were in a desperate situation placing and replacing white flags and even arguing between them, but on the third day desperate situation also happened with Partisans and Chetniks who hold an urgent joint meeting where they decided to change the tactic and from attacking from their own positions, this time mix all of their troops between them in order to confuse the Germans. On the same day German Airplanes took actions for the first time in organize wave against any uprising in occupied Europe and fiercely attacked insurgent positions who were now in chaos, but in that total mass they also managed to confuse the Germans who now do not know who’s where attacking because Partisans, Chetniks and even local villagers altogether attacked from all sides with the sound of German airplanes throwing bombs around the town randomly. German troops went in evacuation thinking that the planes would distract rebels, but after just 5 kilometers Partisans and Chetniks lead by Žikica Jovanović Španac reached them where, unable to do anything more, they surrendered to the Chetnik and Partisan troops. German data wrote that they had 9 dead, 30 wounded and 175 missing (those missing were captured as prisoners of war). In the same time Partisans attacked railways in the whole region, destroying couple of important cargo trains and blow up some important local bridges preventing the access for arriving German reinforcement.
With the capture of Krupanj, Chetniks and Partisans created the first larger free territory, that already motivates a huge revolt in all other parts of Serbia. Also, after the battle, the two camps issued a joint statement on the fraternal struggle and continuing of the mutual fight against Germans.
- 5th of September 1941 - Mihailović Representatives had Meeting with Milan Nedić - Milan Nedić leader of the newly formed Government of National Salvation in Belgrade invited Mihailović on meeting.
At the end of August, Milan Nedić leader of the just newly formed puppet Government of the National Salvation, sent a letter to Draža Mihailović through his own secret channels, in which Nedić invited the Chetnik leader to come to Belgrade for a meeting, guaranteeing him a safe passage past the Germans with an issued ID and his conviction (those two knowing each others from army days). Mihailović rejected to go directly but instead he sent his representatives lead by Aleksandar Mišić (son of Živojin Mišić famouse WW1 Serbian Field Marshal). On 5th September they had meeting where Nedić asked for joint cooperation in the fight against the communists, gradual legalization of the Chetnik troops lead by Draža Mihailović and assistance to his Chetnik forces with money and providing of the needed weapons. No agreement has been reached on the paper between representatives and Nedić, however communists after the war claimed that this meeting contributed to direct betrayal and cooperation of Mihailović with the Puppet Nedić government which continued from then on much further.
At the Trial Hearing of Mihailović in 1946, Mihailović states the following:
“According to the information of the head of the delegation, Major Mišić, no agreement was reached with Nedić, and as for the financial aid, I did not receive anything, but I do not rule out the possibility that Nedić sent some aid. I only know that I replied on Nedić’s “praises” for sending us financial aid that he did not send it to us, but I will take everything if he ever sends, because it is people and not his money.”
On the same trail, lot of attention was place on the role of Branislav Pantić (highly controversial Chetnik operative) who was Mihailović most trusted agent in Belgrade and who had direct meeting with Nedić three days before Mihailović delegation. In his memoirs Branislav Pantić among the other things wrote about that meeting and how he rejected Nedićs offer to lead a newly forming Serbian militia under the new puppet government control where Nedić gets angry on him saying:
“I know why you’re silent! You are messing with that bandit on Ravna Gora (thinking of Mihailović), who doesn’t know what he wants or what he can do, so he doesn’t even know what he is doing right now! If I could give you my brain, I believe you would all agree with my work and my intentions.”
MY OPINION: Communists on the trail (which was clearly set-up and staged, although they made it public because of the British and USA interest for Mihailović case) took this as an aggravating circumstance because it was obvious that some kind of verbal agreements had been reached with Nedić even if they were not written on the paper. Also it is well known that Nedić was sympathetic towards Mihailović Chetniks (but also not supporting Mihailović activities on many levels) and over the war had constant secret communications with Mihailović and his people since Nedić by himself was General at Yugoslav army knowing many of those officers personally who are now mostly on the Chetniks side. However because of German pressure he was unable to reach out anything more officially especially once the uprising started and Mihailović together with Tito was marked as the enemy number 1, while days before he technically legalized Pećanac Chetnik troops with whome Mihailović was not in a good relation due to different views on the uprising. Some Chetnik leaders will after the war say that Nedić secretly sent financial aid to the Chetniks through his trusted people, some will declare that Nedić was angry by the Chetnik activities against the Germans and was not happy by Mihailović role, but all those stories had never been confirmed and were told by ex Chetniks, Communists and questionable spies.
Source to the court hearing transcription of Mihailović Trail Hearing (on Serbian language):
- From 5th to 19th of September 1941 - Events are now speeding up in the whole occupied Yugoslavia territory with many clashes, sabotages and diplomatic talks going on:
East Bosnia Uprising where Chetniks and Partisans join their troops under the command of Chetnik Duke and local merchant Aćim Babić now took and lose couple of smaller towns, constantly attacking Ustashe and retreating after their counter-attacks. After the arrival of Jezdimir Dangić who was sent by the order of Mihailović into this region to make a more “organized” uprising things are heating up between the local Chetniks & Partisans on the one side and Dangić’s group on the other neglecting because Dangić was appointed as commander in chief for this region which Aćim Babić (who just received Chetnik Duke title) accepted by hierarchy, although not willingly which will only create additional inner conflicts in the future.
More info about Chetnik Duke Aćim Babić on Wikipedia (Serbian language):
More info about Commander Jezdimir Dangić on Wikipedia (Serbian language):
In NDH (Croatia) Ustashe are now focused on kidnapping and liquidation of the pro-communist Croats and their families, many of which are executed on Zagreb Maksimir as retaliation. However and Croatian Partisans were focused on eliminating of the Ustasha pockets in a different towns by targeted specific Nazi local leaders which especially angered Ustashe militias who had no mercy for the Partisan Croats and people who are close to them.
In Serbia, more and more people are joining Chetniks and Partisans by each day which are now consolidating their free territory and expanding in Eastern Serbia pushing out the outnumbered German garrisons who are retreating towards Belgrade in many cases even without fighting from most of the smaller towns they hold. Conscription of the villagers and volunteers are ongoing together with attacking of the German transport hubs disabling trains, railway system and communication spots. Several smaller and larger clashes with the German patrols happened who are now realizing that they are currently dealing with the much stronger forces than they could ever imagined. Huge blow to German troops happen when Užice Partisan detachment attacked German troops column, which set out from Požega to ensure the possible withdrawal of the German crews from Užice. In several hours of fighting, Germans suffered losses of 78 dead and wounded soldiers, while the rest who survive retreated to Požega. German officials in Belgrade now require urgent reinforcements from the Reich due to current situation on the field where they are completely outnumber by the rebels.
On the territory of whole occupied Yugoslavia various communist headquarters are being formed, illegal printing offices started with spreading propaganda materials and numerous illegal guerrilla sessions are held through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia. Uprising spreads rapidly following the news of the recent Chetniks & Partizans successes especially in Serbia and Montenegro where they were organizing together in many cases without any direct higher command orders but as a self initiatives.
PICTURE:Serbian Chetniks & Partisans with their local commanders somewhere around Negotin region waiting together for the German troops in an ambush Summer 1941.
*source facebook, private archive
- 19th of September 1941 - FIRST MEETING OF TITO AND MIHAILOVIĆ (Struganik Village) - due to the current rapid development of the uprising situation in Serbia and Chetnik-Partisans relations, Josip Broz Tito and Draža Mihajlović agreed to meet in the village of Struganik directly.
In mid-September, Miloš Minić (the same person who organized staged trail against Mihailović as a prosecutor in 1946) was given the task of waiting for the General Secretary of the CPY, Josip Broz Tito, in the territory of Valjevo town. Tito arrived in the village of Robaje on September 18, 1941, where he was detained by a Partisans company. Minić came and recognized Tito. Tito was most interested in the relations between the Partisans and the Chetniks of Draža Mihailović. Minić submitted a report to him, and Tito asked for a meeting confirmation with Draža Mihailović in person. Mihailović agreed and following day in the village of Struganik, near Valjevo, a meeting was held between the commander of the Main Staff of the NOP detachment of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, and the commander of the Chetnik Detachments, Colonel Dragoljub Draža Mihailović. In addition to them, the meeting was also attended by Miloš Minić, Obrad Stefanović and Voja Rafailović, partisans and Aleksandar Mišić (already mentioned above, Struganik where the meeting is held was the birth place of his father Živojin Mišić WW1 Serbian Field Marshal), Dragiša Vasić and Colonel Dragoslav Pavlović, from the Chetnik side. The goal of the meeting was - to reach an agreement on a joint fight against the Germans, the organization of government in places where both movements were at the same time and the distribution of seized weapons. No agreement was reached on a common joint fight against the occupiers, but a joint fight of the local units was agreed where that is possible, as well as the possibility of the people freely choosing which movement they want to join and the equal division of the spoils of war. During the meeting, Tito offered to Mihailović the position of Chief of the General Staff, while Draža asked for Partisans detachments to be placed under his command where Tito will be given important role (this was the first of a total of two meetings between Tito and Draža, the second was held on October 26th in the village of Brajići). During the conversation between the Tito and Mihailović in village, Mihailović after the meeting stayed by his opinion that Tito is in fact infiltrated Russian agent, but he was unable to verify this due to the strange pronunciation of the Tito speech and lack of information.
Tito real identity until today is the subject of numerous historic controversies and is not impossible that he really was not Croatian due to his look and speach that is clearly distant from Croats in that area.
ON THE SAME DAY: 19th of September Germans in Belgrade on Jajinci Shooting Ground executed for the first time group of 20+ women which they marked as communists and uprising collaborators, afterwords they executed 40+ Partisans, Chetniks and some local civilians. Day by day executions of Banjica Camp prisoners on the same area will just grow and becoming more horrific.
- 20th of September 1941 - British sent their mixed Yugoslav-British intelligence service delegation from Cairo. Submarine Triumph pass Adriatic and successfully enter Montenegro.
British intelligence service urgently sent its mission to Serbia for establishing direct contacts with the Chetniks and Partisans with whom they had already communicated via radio signals. Sent delegation was secretly led by Tyrell “Bill” Hudson British Special Operative together with an interesting group of ex pilots and Yugoslav (Serbian) army officers who succeed to escape Yugoslavian occupation and found themselves in Cairo like Zaharije Ostojić (who would later become active Chetnik Commander directly involved in battles against the communists in 1942 but also identified as probably the main responsible for the killings of around 2000 Muslims under his orders), Mirko Lalatović (Yugoslavian army pilot who would later be mainly in-charge for the radio connection of the Mihailović Chetnik forces almost until the end of the war when he was captured and killed in Jasenovac camp) and Veljko Dragićević (Yugoslavian airforce commander who would later join the Partisans and become the radio telegraphist coding chief until he was killed by the German plane in 1943 at Drvar desant). On September 20th 1941, they reached the Adriatic coast in Perazića, near Petrovac (Montenegro), with the British submarine “Triumph”. Then they were accepted by the Montenegrin Partisans and taken to the Main Headquarters of the NOP detachment of Montenegro. Accompanied by Milovan Đilas, Mitar Bakić and Arsa Jovanović, on October 13th, they left Montenegro for Užice. Around October 22nd, they arrived in liberated Užice, where Hudson met with the Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav NOP detachment, Josip Broz Tito, while Majors Ostojić and Lalatović continued their trip to Ravna Gora for joining the Chetniks. Veljko Dragićević decided to stay with Partisan troops and join their forces while Hudson left Užice on October 25th and meet with Draža Mihailović in Ravna Gora where he will stay for the two months. His mission will eventually fail since he never convinced two sides on joining again.
- 21st of September 1941 - German units are almost totally encircled in multiple towns - retreat from Užice and rush who will take it first! Franz Böhme ordered withdrawal of the German troops.
German troops are now totally surrounded with the enemy rebel forces and the harshest situation was in Užice, Čačak and Požega where they had significant amount of units together with some important factories and communication lines that should be protected. City of Užice was particularly interesting for rebels due to its good geo-location but most importantly weapons factory that could produce significant amount of guns, explosives and bombs. Being in a desperate situation, almost on the verge of collapse General Franz Böhme decided not to sacrifice his soldiers for Užice that was not main priority to him at this moment and to withdraw his troops for protecting Belgrade-Thessaloniki railway leaving in the city small number of Serbian militias loyal to the newly formed Milan Nedić Government of National Salvation hoping that they could keep the order and prevent major breakthrough of the other rebel units. 21st of September Germans organized column of 1500+ solders with their weapons, guns and important tools for withdraw. Commander of the Serbian militia in town Redić two days before suggested to the Germans that city should be handed over to the Kosta Pećanac Chetniks Detachments since they are currently the closest ones as well since the local Serbs will cheer them up and with this move communists will be prevented for capturing of the city. Germans agreed with proposal and allowed surrender of the city for Chetniks loyal to Kosta Pećanać. Pećanac Chetniks in that time were “legalized” by the recently formed puppet government in Belgrade and approved from the side of Germans (see the timeline events for August), however many of those troops in Western Serbia were still mixed up, in some cases collaborating with the Chetniks of Draža Mihailović and on the terrain some local detachments of Pećanac Chetniks had actions with Partisans against Germans although Pećanac himself strictly ordered that Germans should not be attacked and that any action without his approval is punishable. However as the German troops started leaving city Pećanac Javor Chetnik Detachment with the lead of Duke Radomir Đekić not even waited their full departure, they entered the city cheered up with the local crowd while Germans were still on the move of getting out. Pećanac Chetniks are welcomed with flowers and Duke Radomir Đekić gives a speech to the local people while this event was looked over by passing embarrassed German soldiers who were forced to retreat among the locals and newly arrived Pećanac unites. However this will not last for a long…
PICTURES:Javor Chetnik Detachment loyal to Pećanac enters Užice while Germans are leaving the city. In the middle Duke Radomir Đekić who had give the speech in front of cheering crowd of locals
NOTE: Together with Javor Chetnik Detachment who were loyal to Pećanac, there were also elements of the Chetniks loyal to Draža Mihailović among the troops who entered the town and who were before fighting together with Javor Chetniks. Užice lay in a very interesting position where it is safe to say that was surrounded with a huge amount of different government militias, local rebels, Chetniks and Partisans but also threatened from the south by the Muslims from Sandžak (Raška region) who took up their arms and already had clashes with the Chetniks and Partisans in a various villages of that region. All of those fractions had different ideologies at some point and in many ways (as we can see) they are not always compact, taking commands from their superiors and some of them acted as like a “lone wolfs” seeking revenges, acting by their own ideologies… Communists will however later have less problems with their command structure comparing to the Chetniks of different fractures, even if they too will have issues in the distant places with the similar groups of their own. This mess also confused German and Italian troops on the field not knowing who is against who especially in this period.
- 22nd to 24th of September 1941 - BATTLE FOR ŠABAC - Huge joint Chetniks-Partisans offansive on the German controlled Šabac town. German reinforcements arrived, rebels were forced into retreat. Germans started with practice of mass executions, torture and retaliations on the local civilians…
As a continuation of the rebel actions in Podrinje region and after securing the free territory under the command of the Partians-Chetnik rebels, local Serbian population is now delighted with the gained momentum and demanded continuing of advances. Villages and liberated towns in the past period received volunteers recruit for Partisans and Chetniks in masses who are now demanding a new battles and revenges to the Germans who just in the past weeks arrested more then a 6000 people and shot or hang 200+ of them just in Šabac town itself, destroying and looting the properties of the local population (in those crimes after the battle with rebels 342nd German Division will be especially involved, since they arrived as a help to the troops in town and were eager to make destruction and killings). In once such action which would later be known as Bloody March after this Chetnik-Partisans fail attack, German soldiers forced arrested locals (some historians thinking there were more then 4000) to force them running for 20 km all the way to the Jarka village (near Sremska Mitrovica), where concentration camp was built. Along the way, they killed all of those who could not physically withstand the hellish pace of running and who were too young to survive (by some data they shot 120+ civilians on the way to the camp in front of others who were running for their lives until they fall and some of them died naturally since they were too old, sick or simply not ready for run). Since German troops in Šabac were forced into the fierce clashes, on this way they tried to send a clear message to the Chetniks & Partisans in order to deter them from any further attacks but this will provoke only more revolts.
Šabac was important milestone for rebels, however Germans have much stronger forces of 3 Divisions (one will arrive as reinforcement during the battle) + 1 Croatian divisions due to the driving position and the Sava river that is crucial for faster transport. Knowing about strength of the Germans and how large their forces are in the town itself (somewhere between 1000 to 1500), Draža Mihailović Chetniks leader strictly order stopping of any further progression in that direction because he believes that the eventual Battle for Šabac would be disastrous. However Chetnik commander in-charge for that region Dragoslav Račić, together with the Partisans commander also in-charge for that area Nebojša Jerković after couple of joint meetings and long discussions between themselves on the end decided to finally attack the Germans with their joint Partisans-Chetnik forces ignoring their command orders and try to liberate town on their own (they were pressured by angry rebels seeking conflicts due to the recent German crimes in town). Dragoslav Račić Chetniks numbered around 2000+ people (including around 500 of them that are still loyal to the Kosta Pećanac who beside their commander strict orders and recent proclamation of non attacking the Germans or working with Mihailović / Tito troops anyway decided to join in the attack) while Partisans had around 1000+ together with some locals.
Germans assumed that an offensive on this important town would follow, and they prepared an excellent defense with machine gun nests, covered bunkers and buildings in a whisper from which artillery could fire. Attack on Šabac began when a signal shot was given by firing cannon grenade from the village nearby on September 22nd one hour before midnight. Rebels then rush with closing all the approaches to the city making a traps on the roads and barricades. First Chetniks Battalion then went into rush and in a single wave they captured multiple spots making its way to the town center and chaos among the Germans, but since they were not followed by the others and were out of cover from other rebels German troops quickly regroup and surround them. Afterwords another group of Chetniks captured Zorka factory and proceed further into the battle while Partisans on the other side to the river Sava bank clashed with the Germans without success due to strong defense points that the Germans had already set up expecting attack on this direction. 23rd of September, during the day German troops got reinforcements of one division + Croatian Ustashe and range into the whole front counter-attack for the day afterr where German aviation came to the fore again massively targeting Chetniks and Partisans positions on the very borders of the town together with strong altirelly fire. Partisans were broken first and already that night started with a mass retreating to the south, while Chetniks remained with command from Dragoslav Račić to try another all out attack on the German positions which was fierce but not enough for the well-established positions in town. After this attack, a all out German offensive and complete withdrawal of the Chetniks began where many were killed in action unable to escape. German troops in the city on the same day approached to retaliations and started with mass hanging and shootings of the Serbian but also Roma and Jewish civilians from whole town area, as well as captured Partisans & Chetniks which will last for a weeks in horrific torture.
CONCLUSION: This bloody battle marks the begin of the splitting between the Chetniks and the Partisans (the Chetniks were angry after the battle because of the early Partisan withdrawal), but also among Chetnik groups who did not listen to their command so they acted independently. Also, this battle marks the beginning of zero “tolerance” rule for any place which was attacked by the rebels, avenging the attacks by killing locals in the same area where attacks happen. Great German Counter-Offensive on the positions of the Chetniks & Partisans in the whole Serbia, with the goal of returning all lost towns and villages back under their control begins at the end of battle and arrival of reinforcements.
PICTURE:German troops retaliation actions in Serbia. Burning houses and arresting citizens of Mačva region after the battle for Šabac in 1941. Many villages were literally burned to the ground.
*source Wikipedia - Museum of Yugoslavian History
PICTURE:Mass execution of Serbian civilians and rebels in Benska Bara quarter of Šabac town. Executions were performed publicly in front of family members on September 29th 1941
*source Wikipedia - Museum of Yugoslavian History
- 23rd of September 1941 - Chetniks fail offensive on Kurševac - Chetnik troops tried to capture major Šumadian region town of Kruševac, however Germans for a short time received reinforcements.
In mid-September 1941, Chetnik commander Dragutin Keserović got Draža Mihailović’s order to start with an “total uprising” in Šumadija central Serbian region by attacking all important towns which Germans are currently keeping over there. Keserović task was to capture Kruševac as an major town, blockade Trstenik and capture Župa. He issues an order on mobilization and on September 21, he attends the oath of 6,000 recruits in front of the Strmci monastery. Due to disagreements between Partisans and Chetniks in this part of Serbia, Rasina Partisans decided not to take part in this offensive, however just before the planned attack they anyway decided to send help with around 80 of their fighters to join the Chetniks with the town capturing. According to the pre-determined plan, all approaches to the city were closed. Germans had a crew of about 400 soldiers in Kruševac. At the agreed time, Major Keserović carried out an assault with his troops, parts of which managed to penetrate into the very center of the city. However, the Germans offered fierce resistance from the gymnasium, which was their strongest stronghold in the city and expecting reinforcements to arrive at any moment. German armored train, tanks and artillery arrived from the direction of Stalac, together with more German troops and equipment. Kosta Pećanac and his Chetniks also came to reinforce the Axis German garrisons and to fight besides them against Mihailović Chetniks and small group of Partisans (this will also mark the first major clashes between the two rival Chetnik groups, Pećanac loyal to the Axis and Mihailović loyal to the Allies). Germans broke the Chetniks siege which were then forced into retreat. There were around 20 killed on the both sides some of which died after the battle and many more wounded taken out of action. The same like in Šabac, German troops began their fast revenge procedure by shooting and hanging local civilians in the city immediately after the battle. At the end of September rebels in the region published a printed flyer with text criticizing Kosta Pećanac, marking him as a traitor and signed it as the People’s Liberation Movement of Chetniks and Partisans.
More info about Chetnik Commander Dragutin Keserović on Wikipedia (Serbian language):
- 24th of September 1941 - Partisans takes Užice, Pećanac Chetniks retreated from the city - After only three days, Pećanac Chetniks were forced into retreat due to the Partisans encirclement of town.
Užice which was just three days ago left to the Chetniks of Kosta Pećanac loyal to the newly formed puppet government of National Salvation due to the German troops retreat from the city now is fully surrounded by a Serbian Partisans troops who sent an ultimatum to the Pećanac Chetniks in town with a note that they are encircled and that the newly liberated city should be handed over to them for the administration. In order to avoid mutual bloodshed, Pećanac’s Chetniks invited Partisans to a meeting in the city for making an mutual agreements. A free entry to the city of the Partisans was negotiated by, on behalf of the Partisans, Slobodan Sekulić, commanding officer ,Vladan Rosić, Užice company political commissar, and Zlatibor company political commissar Ljubodrag Đurić; on behalf of the Pećanac Chetniks commanders Radomir Đekić and Božidar Ćosović Javorski. The negotiations failed to reach any satisfying conclusions so they returned back with a threat of attacking the city if it is not leaved to Partisans. Partisans then surrounded the city and prepare themselves for an all out attack on Chetnik positions in the city who were at that point absolutely outnumbered. Seeing that they are placed in impossible situation Chetnik units of Radomir Đekić and Božo Javorski withdrew towards Višegrad and Zlatibor leaving the city to the Partisans who enter victoriously with trumpets and Serbian communists flag. Partisans in Užice with this literally got the largest prize possible since they also captured weapons and ammunition factory, a textile factory, a leather factory, a branch of the National Bank with 55 million dinars, about 100 various motor vehicles and dozens of wagons of infantry and artillery ammunition and propulsion material. In mid-October, the Supreme Commander of NOPOJ, Josip Broz Tito, and other members of the Main Staff and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia moved to Užice from Krupanj. Užice then became the center of the liberated territories in western Serbia, known as the “Republic of Užice” after the war. By some witnesses there was a quarrel because of weapons confiscation among the Chetniks while retreating from the city because Pećance’s Chetniks who were majority almost came into conflict with the smaller group of Draža Mihajlović’s Chetniks who withdrew from the city together with them.
OPINION: Užice then had an extremely important factory of weapons, reserves of money and gold in vaults, as well as equipment that could be used in direct battles which only shows why Partisans would have any interest to take this town even by using direct force against Pećanac Chetniks. Užice was freely speaking golden nut for any rebels troops who could capture it and will make an important milestones for Partisans who will benefit from this in a manpower, guns, finances and everything else.
More info about Partisans Commander Slobodan Sekulić on Wikipedia (Serbian language):
PICTURE:Serbian Partisans together with trumpets players enters Užice with a Serbian communists flag after Pećanac Chetniks withdrew from the city on September 24th 1941.
- 28th of September 1941 - Chetniks & Partisans captured strategically important town of Gornji Milanovac - New German prisoners of war and another milestone between the two major cities.
An agreement for the attack on the Germans in strategically important town of Gornji Milanovac was reached at the meeting between Chetniks and Partisans in the village of Lunjevica. At the meeting, Zvonimir Vučković, the commander of the Takovo Chetnik Detachment, was appointed commander of the joint Chetnik-Partisans actions against the Germans, and the Partisan leader, teacher Milan Rakić, was appointed as a main deputy. Even then, there was a significant difference between Partisans and the Chetniks, who had completely different views on the situation, but the main motive for this actions from Chetniks in this region was fear that people will blame them for inaction if the Partisans attacked town first before them, even though it is not with the approval of the command about which commander Vučković wrote in a letter afterwords. Tactics were similar to those in previous attacks. Chetniks and the Partisans blocked all roads and approaches the town and after giving an ultimatum they started with all out action during the night of September 28th. Having no way out and already after heavy losses, terrified German troops offered to surrender which was accepted by the rebels who enter the town in the morning. Around 100 German troops were captured as the war prisoners. In the same attack Above Gornji Milanovac, parts of the Čačak NOP detachment damaged the plane of the German commander of Serbia with rifle fire killing 1 German Air Force Major. In a town itself mixed Chetnik-Partisans conference was formed and reqruting center as in the other liberated villages.
PICTURE:Serbian Partisans and Chetniks together escorting captured German prisoners of war to Užice town after multiple joint actions on the liberated territories.
- 30th of September 1941 - Croatian Partisans in Zagreb assassinated multiple targets - Wide action of “Striking Youth Partisans Group” on the Zagreb streets. Ustasha militia arrests and torture.
A group of young Croatian Partisans lead by Ivan Šibl took an action of terrain cleaning to eliminate specific targets in Zagreb, including 4 German pilots from which two were killed on the spot while one was seriously wounded. This group already become known for their fast strike and run actions around Zagreb which create huge issues for the Croatian Ustashe militia authorities since many important figures were already killed by surprise. On the same day after weeks of constant torture from the side of Ustashe militia, Rudolf Kroflin died not accepting to discover member names of Youth Partisans Group in Zagreb that for months causing chaos among the Ustashe. He would be venerated as a Partisans hero and communist example symbol for the youths who are joining the Partisanas more and more.
End of September, Germans and their allies on the Balkans are in an extremely difficult situation because the revolution through Yugoslavia is spreading, and their biggest problem at this moment is in Serbia, where Chetniks and Partisans are strengthening day by day joint their forces and in many ways confused German troops, occupying a huge portions of territory, capturing tools, materials and weapons for which Germans simply did not had enough people to keep. With the failed siege of Šabac, German troops in coordination with the Ustashe, launched a counter-offensive “Operation Užice” with revenge campaigns of killing civilians, hanging, shooting and setting up whole villages on fire. New concentration camps in the whole area are rising, burning households and swiping out the whole places are now daily German troops routine. October and November will see new and last meeting between Mihailović and Tito local civilian genocides, massacres, fighting against Germans, camps and final split of the Chetniks and Partisans in the siege of Kraljevo which end will also mark the start of civil war between Partisans and Chetniks and literal horror for anyone who lived in those times in Serbia. 15th of October and 21st of October are days when one of the worst genocides in Balkans happen against the Serbian civilians, school children, workers and rebels. First took place in Kraljevo killing about 2000 civilians for 5 days period based on the order 100 Killed for One German, while other took the place in Kragujevac town where 2796 school children and educational workers were shoot on that day. In total numbers rise up more following days for the whole surrounding area of Kragujevac up to 7000 killed.
MAP OF LIBERATED TERRITORIES IN YUGOSLAVIA BY PARTISANS, CHETNIKS AND SOME INDEPENDENT LOCAL REVOLTS - END OF SEPTEMBER 1941
Like for the past events, this great YouTube channel now made an video about timeline covering the October-November 1941, start of the fighting between Partisans and Chetniks, German Counter Offensive on liberated territories, Partisans retreat, Terrible German massacres on civilians and other stuff. In order to understand how everything was developing in the Serbian Uprising during WW2 and get some general idea, those videos series are great starting point (watch past videos from the same channel which I posted on the timeline above for the previous WW2 events in Yugoslavia):
Red Circles - Partisan Units (under the Josip Broz Tito command) Blue Circles - Chetnik Units (under the Draža Mihailović command)
Nazi Flag - Nazi German Troops
Eagle Symbol - Puppet Government Militia of the National Salvation Troops
TIMELINE FOR OCTOBER 1941:
- 1st of October 1941 - FALL OF ČAČAK -German troops retreat from Čačak town by the order of Franz Böhme due to large concentration of the rebel forces in the area surrounding the town. Major prize for the rebels in people, tools and materials but also great propaganda victory.
PICTURE:Chetniks on the captured German tank enters the Čačak town, 1st of October 1941
Similar with retreat from Užice on 21st of September, German troops who are stationed in Čačak town (which was also very important hub and the biggest hub in the area) seeing that they were in almost hopeless situation, withdrew from the town by order the order of Franz Böhme who not wanted to leave indefensible located town for an easy rebel target. German units now fully retreat from the whole area without fighting in order to prepare for an counter-attack and arrival of new troops ordered by German headquarters in Belgrade. October 1st, while the last German unites were already gone day before, Chetniks and Partisans jointly victoriously strolled into the town streets cheered by the locals who are welcoming them with an huge celebration with parade and flowers. Release of Čačak that was settled by more people then some other places liberated before, served as a great chance for a propaganda work on the rebels side who now declared that after a harsh battle with the Germans town was liberated (which was not truth due to fact that all Germans already retreated without fighting). The first proclamation on the liberation of Čačak was printed by the Jelica Chetnik Detachment. On the same day, Colonel Draža Mihailović also addressed the people of Čačak with a following proclamation:
In this Proclamation to the Čačak citizens Draža Mihailović stated following (in short):
Yugoslavian Army did not believed that Germany would attack and that was the main reason why country’s defense was such unprepared.
That he rejected surrendering and took the refuge into the mountains together with a group of honorable officers, remaining faithful to the oath given to the kingdom.
Around him are the people who are worthy of faith and he invites all to look at themselves (especially those fit for army) and to ask themselves whether they have also remained faithful?
He did not wanted to coming down from the mountains in rush but he heard screaming of the people and that’s why he’s come.
That the screams, crying of the hanged and executed could be heard from the cities under the enemy occupation, that they removed legal government but they are unable to set up their own, and that complete anarchy had taken over Serbia. This condition could not be endured anymore.
1st of October his fighters bring freedom but job is not done and justice needs to win. Last words on the very end: Only Unity Save the Serbs.
The barracks in Čačak housed a camp for captured German soldiers on the insurgent territory, mostly captured near Gornji Milanovac. After the liberation, a joint Partisan-Chetniks command of the town was established in Čačak. Ratko Mitrović with his Partisan fighters also gives a speech in Čačak after liberation. Chetniks gived one captured German tank to the Partisans while they keep one for them (according to the previous agreement about division of war spoils). Both sides started to recruit locals.
PICTURE:Ratko Mitrović, Partisans Commissar gives a speech to the crowd in liberated Čačak town.
- 6th of October 1941 - Chetniks fights Partisans and takes Požega - First major clash of the local Partisan and Chetnik units happens in Požega, Chetniks pushed out Partisans and after negotiations reached an agreement of non-attacking within following period.
Draža Mihailović Chetniks clashed with the parts of the Tito Užice Partisans NOP Detachment in small town of Požega. After the fight, which was fought the whole previous night, the Chetniks occupied Požega and pushed back Partisans. On the same day, the Headquarters of the Užice NOP detachment, in order to avoid a fratricidal struggle, concluded an agreement with the Chetnik commanders in Požega on unimpeded passage through Požega, free work on organizing Partisans and Chetnik unites, freedom of mutual propaganda in the spirit of fighting the enemy, etc. This was the first major clash between the Partisans and Chetniks which already announces a possible split and civil conflict between the two factions. However, on the ground in the most places, Partisans and Chetniks still sticks together in fighting against German troops on the free territory and new offensive on Kraljevo city will be lunch soon. Kraljvo will be a major price since it was the largest city of all current conquared territory.
- 9th to 31st October 1941 - SIEGE OF KRALJEVO AND START OF THE CIVIL WAR - FINAL SPLIT BETWEEN CHETNIKS AND PARTISANS - Bloodiest battle with Germans during the entire uprising, Chetniks and Partisans attacked city from all sides, huge revenge of the German troops on civilians in city itself and catastrophic casualties on all sides. Civil war between Partisans and Chetniks started!
At the beginning of October, Chetnik troops od Draža Mihailović and Partisan troops of Josip Broz Tito continued to advance towards central Serbia (although they are in retreat on the west after fail of Šabac siege), where the city of Kraljevo stood as the biggest obstacle and with its conquest, the Germans would be thrown to their feet losing the most important key town after Belgrade threatening to cut off all communication lines between the south of the occupied Balkan territories. Encouraging for the rebels was liberation of Čačak, Požega, Gornji Milanovac and Užice, which all at that time contained a great amount of weapons, several intact factories, new volunteers and lot of food captured from the Germans including POW. This only further strengthened the Communist and Royalist Forces, regardless of their differences and the recent clash incident in Požega which popularity grew day by day although different interests and sparkles can be already seen in this period.
In comparison, the Germans were also optimistic with recently broken siege of Šabac town where they successfully force Chetniks and Partisans into full retreat marking an lunch of Operation Užice trying to regain all the territories lost by the insurgents in western Serbia and to destroy the communist center that was in Užice city along with a weapons factory that already works extensively for the rebels and supplies them with rifles, bombs and ammunition. Franz Böhme can now count on the newly arriving reinforcements that were urgently sent to help the current German troops stocked in Serbia including the 342nd Infantry Division from France, 125th Regiment with additional forces from Greece and 113th Infantry Division from the Eastern Front which is now on the way and expected to be there in the fist half of November. In addition to this Ustashe will also take part of securing certain spots and support German advancement in Operation Užice chasing the Chetniks and Partisans to the south and smashing what was left of their units after the battle for Šabac making mass murders along the way.
Kraljevo attack started under a blockade by Partisan-Chetniks troops led by a joint operational headquarters for the attack on Kraljevo. Draža Mihailović appointed Jovan Deroko for Chetniks while Josip Broz Tito appointed Ratko Mitrović to lead the attack. In total 23 Partisan and 19 Chetniks companies took part in the fighting near Kraljevo, with a total amount of about 4000 best fighters on both sides including locals who are helping them with sabotaging roads, communications and helping the rebels. What is really interesting is that both Chetniks and Partisans had one tank each (both fully operating and recently captured from the Germans) joining the battle including couple of heavy artillery peaces, which has not been the case so far because the rebels generally had lighter weapons and moment of surprise in use, while this was fully planned siege.
PICTURE:German soldiers carry dead comrade killed during the siege of Kraljevo October 1941.
German troops in Kraljevo, knowing that the invasion was approaching and realizing that they were in a catastrophic situation, reached for the same scenario as in some other clashes. Right before the siege they imprisoned workers of the Aircraft Factory in Kraljevo. After closing all the factory gates at the end of working hours, the Germans escorted about 600 workers of this factory to the locomotive hall of the Wagon Factory as hostages. On October 9th, Chetnik artillery give a sign of a general attack with their action from the hill. Chetnik Captain Miljevic fired the first artillery bullet at the Germans from the hill called “Cukar” and hit the German “Fizler 151 Cl Storch” with another grenade. On the night between October 10th and 11th, rebel forces (Chetniks and Partisan jointly) carried out a strong attack on the fortified German garrison in Kraljevo. The main attack was carried out in the area of the rivers Zapadna Morava and Ibar, along the communication line Čačak - Kraljevo. Germans repulsed this bloody attacks thanks to the artillery, machine guns and additional tank fire from well-established pre-made lines, which forced the rebels to try again the next night when after hours of fighting small group of Partisans reach the main square of Kraljevo killing couple of German troops after which they were engulfed in fierce fire from surrounding buildings and forced into retreat.
Germans use the stalemate in the Kraljevo offensive to intimidate the people and commit one of the greatest genocides during the whole war in Balkans. On October 14th, Germans arrested about 400 more workers and employees of the railway junction in Kraljevo and imprisoned them in the locomotive hall of the Wagon Factory together with the others and civilians. In the same time urgent order from the Wehrmacht for the whole occupied Serbian territory arrived in the city where was stated:
"FOR EVERY GERMAN KILLED, 100 SERBS WILL BE SHOT"
15th of October German Garrison Commander declared that not only will 100 Serbs be shot for each German killed in action but “their families and property will also be destroyed as well”. New orders were subsequently issued demanding further executions. According to eyewitness accounts, the Wehrmacht went from house to house over the next several days, arresting all males between the ages of 14 and 60. They were herded into a makeshift detention centre at a former rolling-stock factory. Wehrmacht ordered groups of 100 prisoners to march to pre-dug mass graves, where they were executed with heavy machine guns. The bodies were then examined for any signs of life; victims that had survived the initial volley were dealt a single bullet to the head. For 5 days about 2000 civilians, mostly Serbs were killed, but also a small group of Roma, Jews and Slovenian refugees. Paul Hoffman, commander of the 717th Infantry Division, personally oversaw the reprisals and praised his men for their “enthusiastic fulfillment of what was required of them”. All of this had very deep effect on the rebels who surrounded the city and carried out constant night attacks on Germans.
The attacks intensified, but none of them managed to completely defeat German troops in the city who now together with the local population that was not soot were left almost without food and help from the outside. On several occasions, an attempt was made to sabotage Germans on various way cutting of all communication lines, throwing bombs and using of artillery on weak spots. Even a locomotive loaded with bombs was released by the rebels on the bridge crossing, which exploded in mass detonation and destroyed the significant communication lines of the Germans with the outside world.
On the night between October 31st and November 1st, the Čačak and Kraljevo NOP detachments, the Kopaonik NOP detachment’s mining company and Chetnik units carried out the last attack on Kraljevo. The attack was carried out with weaker infantry forces and in the same direction as the previous. Although the tanks, accompanied by bomb groups, penetrated deep into the city, the attack did not succeed, because the Germans managed to keep the parts of the infantry that were following the tanks with fire from infantry weapons. The mining company penetrated almost to the center of the city, but like other parts of the insurgents, it had to withdraw due to better equip Germans. The next day, Draža Mihailović issued an order to withdraw Chetnik units from the position near Kraljevo, which resulted in the withdrawal of partisans towards Čačak and Užice, and the siege of the city ended. Partisans and Chetniks will blame each others for the huge amount of casualties and betrayals during the battle.
Chetniks Commander for Kraljevo attack - Jovan Deroko :
Partisans Commander for Kraljevo attack and Commissar Ratko Mitrović :
(Something more about him only in Serbian language on Wiki)
Here I am trying to focus ONLY on the WW2 period in Yugoslavia where Tito was not the only participant but very interesting person indeed and the one who due to the different factors emerged victorious after the war (I am not the one who will idealize anyone so neither him who after the war execute or imprisoned most of his opponents even his own Partisan warriors who were against some of his moves). However I am sad that the things which I followed in the timeline above are often overlooked everywhere (especially from Western historians) by simple Tito/Partisans stuff not going into any deeper details about how and what happened, while in fact WW2 in Yugoslavia is the most complicated area of the whole occupied European territories during the whole war with much more fractions, groups, uprisings, politicians, massacres, genocides and many other important things + with the largest liberated territory from the Nazis from the all occupied zones! Unfortunately history becomes often just black and white while in fact it never was… WW2 is the darkest time for the Balkans which created issues that last until today, not to even mention legacy from the WW1 and even before…
When we talk about this period October 1941 was terrible and absolute catastrophic for civilians with most horrific battles, massacres, genocides, civil wars and offensives with the order from the Germans of executing 100 Serbs for 1 German Killed (they had this order in other occupying zones however here they were following order on the most gruesome way). Chetnik and Partisan movements in October 1941 have almost an equal number of their members mostly in Serbia but as well in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. In the siege of Kraljevo for example you have two brothers commanders but one fighting for Partisans and another for Chetniks which was not so uncommon thing to see back then. After the Siege of Kraljevo (read full details in the above timeline) Chetniks and Partisans will split and they will start fighting between themselves. Right before that Tito (Partisans Leader) and Draža Mihailović (Chetniks Leader) will meet for the last time in the Brajići village which is going on the timeline in my next post together with the Kragujevac Genocide of the school children by the Germans and start of the civil war forcing civilians in whole area on incredible suffering.
Fun fact regarding Tito and Draža Mihailović. They were both participants in the Battle of Cer 1941 where Tito was an Austro-Hungarian soldier while Draža Mihailović was a Serbian. It is interesting how destiny will again place them first on the same and then on the opposing side, one communist and another royalist fighting for their own interests over the WW2 and against each others.
P.S. It would be really good to see an full episode of Summer 1941 revolution in Yugoslavia but and whole special to be covered in most of the details so that people can get this chaos which really need some more time then just a basic talking. In fact one or two such specials should be needed all up to 1945 but I hope that they will have some more time and strenght to cover this touch subject.