News 23 Oct 17

Serbian WWII PM ‘Absolutely Loyal to Nazis’: Historian

A historian who testified at a rehabilitation hearing for Serbia’s WWII Prime Minister, Milan Nedic, said the collaborationist leader’s loyalty to the German regime was “absolute until the very end”.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Protest against Nedic's rehabilitation during one of the hearings in 2016. Photo: Facebook.

Historian Milan Ristovic told Belgrade Higher Court on Monday that the head of Serbia’s collaborationist government during World War Two, Milan Nedic, was “absolutely loyal” to the Nazi regime, while his statements and actions were anti-Semitic and lent support to Germany’s war.

“He believed that Serbia should become a part of the new order that was being built by the Third Reich. He believed his policy was right and that Serbia would become a part of a Germany’s new Europe,” Ristovic said at the hearing.

According to Beta news agency, Ristovic said that Nedic attended a meeting with the Serbian fascist Dimitrije Ljotic and a German agent, at which it was decided that Jews should be removed from Serbia.

Ristovic, who teaches at the Belgrade University Faculty of Philosophy’s history department, said that Nedic also ordered the arrests of police officers who went into hiding because they did not want to join the ranks of his quisling police outfit.

He added that Nedic sent a letter to the German authorities in June 1942 to demand that Jewish officers be held separately from Serbs to avoid spreading “Jewish-Bolshevik propaganda”.

Ristovic also said that Nedic confirmed to the Germans he was willing to accept “mass executions” and to retaliate against the regime’s enemies.

According to the witness, Nedic had to know what went on at the Banjica concentration camp in Belgrade, which was staffed and run by the Waffen SS, and did nothing to help anyone imprisoned there.

“In November 1944, Nedic made a statement that Germany was Serbia’s most natural ally… Even though the outcome of the war was known by then,” Ristovic said.

Nedic headed the so-called Government of National Salvation, a puppet government in Serbia during World War II that operated from August 1941 to October 1944 when the government was evacuated from Belgrade to Austria.

Soon after, Nedic was captured by the Americans and transferred back to Yugoslavia. The Communist authorities charged him with collaboration with the Germans and treachery but the legal process was cut short when he committed suicide in a prison cell in February 1946.

The rehabilitation hearings began in December 2015 on the request of Nedic's family.

They claim that he was not a traitor who was guilty of causing suffering during the Nazi occupation of the country, as the Yugoslav Communist authorities insisted when they prosecuted him after WWII.

Nedic’s great-grandson and his allies argue that the Nazi-backed premier gave refuge to 600,000 Serbs from across the Balkan region who fled to Serbian territory during WWII, thus ensuring their safety.

The next hearing will be held on January 22.

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