News 25 Jun 12

Historian: WW2 Chetnik Leader Resisted Nazis

Dragoslav Mihailovic, the leader of the monarchist Chetnik army during World War 2, was seen by Nazi Germany as a leader of the resistance movement in Serbia, argues historian Bojan Dimitrijevic.

Marija Ristic
Dragoslav Mihailovic, former King's Army General and Chetnik leader I Photo by Wikicommons

Belgrade historian Bojan Dimitrijevic made his claim on Friday in front of the Higher Court, which will rule on the official rehabilitation of Dragoslav Draza Mihailovic, a general in the Yugoslav King’s Army and the Chetnik leader during WW2.

He presented several documents that show that in the initial trial in 1946 the communist authorities used forgeries to prove Mihailovic’s cooperation with Nazi Germany.

“The documents show that the allegations that Mihailovic cooperated with the Independent State of Croatia [a quisling state on the territory of Croatia from 1941 until 1945] are untrue, as well as the accusations that he cooperated with the Italian occupiers in Montenegro,” said Dimitrijevic.

He added that Tito’s communist army, the Partisans, often cooperated with the Nazi forces, while the monarchists led by Mihailovic were seen as the resistance by the Germans.

Mihailovic, who was also known as General Draza, was sentenced to death in 1946 by a Yugoslav Court for high treason and collaboration with Nazi Germany. He was shot, but the location of his body is unknown.

The police had to keep apart two groups of protesters at Friday’s hearing, one pro-Chetnik, and the other pro-Partisan. The protesters sang Chetnik and Partisan songs, and shouted the names of their respective leaders - Josip Broz Tito and Draza Mihailovic.

The banners of the pro-Chetnik supporters read “We are proud of Draza’s actions, the whole of Serbia is with him”, while the pro-Partisan banners read “ Stop denying crimes and rewriting history”.

Stasa Zajovic, the organizer of the anti-rehabilitation protests, says that the state is not just rehabilitating Mihailovic on the basis of his treatment in 1946, it is also rehabilitating the nationalistic ideology that was defeated in WW2.

She added that this would also harm regional cooperation.

The announcement of Mihailovic’s possible rehabilitation has already provoked negative reactions in Bosnia and Croatia.  The consensus appears to be that it would not be good for the region if the Serbian state rehabilitates a war criminal.

The request for Mihailovic’s rehabilitation was filed by his grandson Vojislav Mihailovic.  He claims that his grandfather did not have a fair trial as he was unable to see his lawyer before the trial. His right to a proper defence was also undermined by the fact that his the indictment was filed just seven days before the trial.

 In 2006 the Serbian parliament passed the Law on equalizing Chetniks and Partisans, which enabled the rehabilitation process to begin not just for Mihailovic, but for other victims of the communist regime including Prince Paul, the former Yugoslav regent who was deposed in 1941 by a coup, and Slobodan Jovanovic, the President of the King’s government in exile.

The rehabilitation hearing will continue on October 8.



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