Friday, July 28, 2006


Top: Arthur Jibilian (lower left corner) in front of the General Mihailovich statue on Ravna Gora in Serbia, September 2004.

Bottom: Signed photo given to OSS Radioman Arthur Jibilian by General Mihailovich in 1944.

Note reads: “To Mr. Jibby Jibilian, ally and friend in these difficult days of the battle for freedom.’’


“I wonder if Mihailovich knew that
we were desperately trying to help him.”

Arthur Jibilian, Halyard Mission veteran
Pranjani, Serbia, Sept. 12, 2004

He is among the last of them. The last of the living OSS veterans of the Halyard Mission. 81 years old, with vivid memories on his mind and gratitude in his heart, Arthur “Jibby” Jibilian, the ‘radioman’, made the milestone journey back to that far away place where he had been a young man in a big war. On September 12, 2004 Arthur Jibilian would once again find himself in the village of Pranjani, Serbia, a plateau 55 miles south of Belgrade, this time for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the amazing thing that had taken place there. Two eternal marble plaques, one engraved in Serbian, one in English, were being officially dedicated, marking an event that has remained a defining moment in the lives of all those who participated. Jibby had lived to see it happen.

Of those still living who were invited for the historic commemoration, only a few managed to make the trip. Robert Wilson, 79 and Clare Musgrove were two of the airmen who made it. George Vuynovich, who had been stationed with OSS in Bari, Italy and George Knezevich, his friend, were also present. Others were not able to make it, and too many of the others did not live to see this day, among them the late Richard L. Felman.

This commemoration was a milestone in ways the radioman from Ohio, a World War II veteran whose memory continues to serve him well, could not have even conceived of. The Serbian press would report heavily about the dedication event in Pranjani, and the legacy of General Mihailovich would be brought to the forefront if only for a few days in the homeland that had turned it’s back on him, the same homeland that he had served so valiantly and loyally, despite knowing that his fate had already been decided. On this September day in 2004 Belgrade officials, American diplomats, Serbian veterans and civilians, and grateful American airmen and Halyard Mission members would give the General his day in the light.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovich and his Serbian Renewal Party made the historic visit by the Americans possible. He publicly voiced the hope that the story of the rescued airmen, the essence of the Halyard Mission, would help ‘right a historic wrong’, indicating that the Serbs want to ‘build a future Serb-American alliance on the basis of historic truth.’

Arthur Jibilian lived that truth.

Born on April 30, 1923, in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Toledo by his cousins Sarkis (Sam) and Oksana (Agnes) Jibilian, he was 19 years old when he was drafted into the Navy on March 15, 1943. He had tried to enlist following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor two years earlier when he was only 17, but he missed one letter on the eye exam and was advised to come back at a later time. He stayed home to care for his cousin who’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. It was shortly after his cousin passed away that Fate called for him to enter the war. He began his training as a ‘Radioman’ in Boot Camp at Great Lakes.

One day Lt. Commander Green from the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) arrived on the base looking for recruits. Jibby was in his sights. He remembers:

"He wanted to talk to all those who spoke a foreign language. I spoke Armenian, so I was interviewed by him. In my case, Armenian wasn’t particularly important, but he said that OSS needed radio operators desperately. Radio operators, usually in conjunction with a “team”, would parachute behind enemy lines and relay information regarding troop movements and activities. They might blow up bridges and railroad tracks and harass the Germans in any way possible. He pointed out that the mission(s) were voluntary and extremely dangerous. He was very up-front about everything. I told him that I was interested and volunteered. (After all, I was more expendable as I had no immediate family and I might, just possibly, be more valuable with OSS than if I were on a ship).

Just prior to taking my Radioman exam, I received orders from OSS to report to Washington, D.C. I was placed on “detached temporary duty” with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). They taught me to code and decode messages, operate their three-piece radio consisting of a transmitter, receiver and power pack. It all fit into a small suitcase so that one could “mingle in a crowd” carrying it, looking like a refugee or traveler.

We then went to Ft. Benning, GA for parachute training. Normal training takes five weeks. We made it in seven days. We made three jumps there and then two more at Ft. Bragg, taking part in army maneuvers with Special Ops groups.

We were then sent overseas, via liberty ships, ending up in Cairo, Egypt, staying in one of villas occupied by President Roosevelt during the Teheran Conference.

I was informed that a Lt. Eli Popovich would be interviewing radio operators for a mission into Yugoslavia. Col. Lynn Farish and Lt. Popovich were going into Yugoslavia and needed a radio operator. Col. Farish had been in Yugo before, but had had no radio operator, being dependent on the British Missions to relay his reports. This was not acceptable to him, or to OSS. I was thrilled when Eli (we were quite informal in OSS) selected me.

We parachuted into Partisan territory, on March 15, 1944. Initially, I failed to make radio contact with the base and everyone, including me, began to doubt my competence. Finally making contact, we discovered that base had not been listening for us as the mission was scheduled to be cancelled. We were just getting comfortable, when the Germans, using a direction finder, locked in on my radio signals. When I began transmitting, German Stukas and Messerschmits strafed and dive-bombed our positions."

The Germans were relentless. Sending a contingent after the mission, they kept up the pursuit for five days and six nights. This was a week that Jibilian would never forget.

"We were in summer khakis and as we climbed the mountain trails, the air became colder and colder. We ran into snow, sometimes sinking so deep that we had to help each other lift our feet out of the drifts. When we stopped for a 10 minute break, we were soaked with sweat and the clothes literally froze to our bodies. When we started to “pocret” (march), we quickly generated enough heat to melt the ice.

We had little to eat, subsisting on goat cheese and bread with straw, given to us by the Serbian peasants. We all suffered from diarrhea."

This first mission lasted for two months. While on this mission they would learn that the Serbs were protecting a number of fallen Allied airmen who were hiding from the Germans. On their way out of Yugoslavia this first time, Jibby’s group managed to pick up about a dozen of the airmen who had been shot down while bombing the oil fields of Ploesti, Romania and brought them safely out of the country. Jibby was awarded the Silver Star for his participation in this mission and treasures the recognition to this day.

He also remembers the atmosphere that pervaded throughout the duration of the mission to Partisan territory. Not all of the tension was created by the German enemy surrounding them. This atmosphere would become especially evident in retrospect after a future mission would take the Americans into Chetnik territory.

It wasn’t long after Jibby’s first wartime ordeal that Colonel Kraigher of the 15th Air Force contacted OSS to let them know that he’d gotten word that 50 American airmen were stranded in the Serbian village of Pranjani, Yugoslavia. Thus, another mission was activated. This time it would be sent into Chetnik territory. The mission, named Halyard, would be composed of Captain George “Guv” Musulin, Lt. Mike Rajacic and Navy Radio Operator Arthur “Jibby’ Jibilian. All they knew was that General Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetniks, had kept these airmen safe while they waited to be rescued. They had been shot down while bombing the oil fields of Ploesti, a extremely valuable resource the Nazis were depending on, and the Germans were intent on capturing them. After falling into Chetniks hands, the airmen had been fed and protected and were now just waiting. All the while, however, the Germans continued their search and were out for the blood of those who were protecting them. Those in charge estimated that the mission established to rescue the Americans who had fallen behind enemy lines would take a short seven to ten days. How wrong they were.

Political concerns came into play. It must be remembered that this was all taking place after the Allies had made the unfortunate decision to abandon Mihailovich in favor of Tito. False charges of collaboration with the Germans were leveled against Mihailovich to justify the tragically misguided abandonment of their most loyal ally. Thus, establishing a mission to rescue the American airmen now being kept safe in Chetnik territory under Mihailovich’s command created a real dilemma for those in charge. The irony was not lost on the young Americans who had volunteered to parachute in and evacuate the airmen.

"If we went in and rescued the Airmen, says Jibilian, how could Mihailovich be called a collaborator? The British were vehemently opposed to anyone going into Chetnik territory on any pretext, as were the Russians.

As a result of these “political concerns” our mission was delayed and/or aborted a dozen times. We were to jump on July 3, but it was not until August 2, 1944, that we finally jumped into Pranjani.

Two things made the mission finally successful:

Musulin asked for an American pilot, an American plane and an American jumpmaster, the morning of August 2. We were in Yugo that night.

We were told that Gen. Bill Donovan, head of OSS, and President Roosevelt were discussing the situation. The president mentioned that the British were unhappy with the proposed mission. Gen. Donovan is alleged to have replied: “Screw the British, let’s get our boys out”.

The group would find not just 50 Americans when they landed in Serbia, but 250, and Jibby remembers the condition he found them in:

Many were in bad shape, having been wounded by flack and/or sustaining injuries upon landing or while attempting to evade capture by the Germans. I cannot say enough about the care and protection that our wounded received from the Chetniks and the Serbian people. They risked their lives to shelter and protect our boys. The peasants fed the wounded when they, themselves, had nothing to eat. You must remember that the land had been ravaged by the Germans and the Civil War further depleted the resources of the farmers, giving meaning to the phrase “they were dirt poor.”

Because there were so many airmen, the decision was made to evacuate them during daylight. A German garrison stood only 20 miles away. When a suitable stretch of ground was found in the area to fashion a landing strip, Americans, Chetniks, and farmers all worked together to make it happen.

One week later, on August 10, 1944, the first evacuation was successfully completed, without a single American casualty.

It was far from over, however. Jibby would quickly learn just what kind of ally General Mihailovich was.

"Gen. Mihailovich informed us that there were many more American airmen throughout his territory and he would funnel them to us, if we so desired. We received permission to stay and, what started out as a l0 day mission, lasted almost six months, during which we evacuated 513 Shot down American airmen, and “several” British, French and Italians."

The Ranger Mission would follow and then finally, on December 29, 1944, with Captain Nick Lalich and Jibby having remained as the sole mission in Mihailovich territory, the evacuations came to an end. The Radioman was going home.

"After a quick physical, a long, hot shower, I collapsed into a bed. The next morning, I had eight eggs, probably a pound of bacon, six slices of toast, butter, and jam, and I can’t remember how many cups of coffee. Food never tasted so good! However, my elation was tempered with the thought of the poor Serbs who had sacrificed (and were still sacrificing) for the Americans."

Reflecting back, Jibby would be struck by the difference he had discovered between his two stays in Yugoslavia.

"Having spent two months with the forces of Marshal Tito, and six months with Mihailovich, the contrast was amazing. The Partisans shadowed us, never leaving us alone with the villagers. They were always tense, and villagers were ill at ease in their presence. Once, when we were alone with a family, we were asked: “Why are the Allies backing Tito?” I had been told to simply say: “Only God knows”. Being deeply religious, they accepted our answer."

In contrast, villagers [in Mihailovich’s territory] flocked out happily, strewing flowers in Mihailovich’s path and singing and celebrating his return. All available food was scrounged so that a virtual feast could be prepared. The villagers donned their native costumes and danced and sang in Mihailovich’s honor. It was obvious that they literally adored him."


Jibby would be discharged from the Navy in September of 1945 and became employed with the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. One morning he would read a small article in the Washington Post that would leave him stunned and shaken. The headline read: ‘Tito’s Forces Capture Mihailovich.’

At that moment, Arthur Jibilian felt compelled to do whatever he could to stop the inevitable from happening.

"Knowing that Mihailovich felt abandoned by the Allies, I decided to tell the story of the Halyard Mission to the Washington Post. I saw the editor and told him my story and how Mihailovich had saved 513 American airmen.

I did not know it, but the rescued airmen had kept in touch with one another. The met at Ft. Stephens in Chicago and sent a 20 man delegation to Washington. They contacted me and we organized a “Mission to Save Mihailovich” campaign. We distributed pamphlets, contacted the State Department, our senators, and representatives. We asked for only three things:

1. Let the rescued airmen testify at his trial.

2. Allow OSS personnel to testify at his trial.

3. Move the trial to a neutral country so Mihailovich would get a fair trial.

Even though we knew Mihailovich was doomed, we felt that if we could at least see him and let him know that we hadn’t forgot him, he would die more peacefully.

Tito’s reply: “This is an internal matter and will be handled by us”.

We tried valiantly, but Washington is a town full of very powerful lobbyists and our efforts paled in comparison with the money and influence they had.

Mihailovich was tried and executed as a collaborator. In his last speech, he concluded by saying:

'The truth is for everyone.' ”


Serbia came a little bit closer to the truth this fine September day in 2004, and an American radioman discovered that nothing would ever betray the memories of a people and nation that had been part of his great journey through life. The people had not changed. He found them as he had left them.

"To say that it was a great, marvelous, wonderful, the trip of a lifetime would still not do justice to the privilege of going back to Serbia. It was a dream come true.

As usual, the Serbs treated us as though we were king and queen. We were given a young lady, Jelena Predojovic, and a young man, IIia Jatrayav, who saw to it that our every need was taken care of. We cannot speak too highly of their care and consideration during our stay.

We were interviewed by the press, filmed for TV, and interviewed by the radio stations.

As I told one reporter: "The Serbs owe us nothing. We Americans risk our lives everyday for our fellow Americans. I am in awe, however, of the Serbs and the way they took care of our shot down airmen! They fed them, sheltered them, depriving themselves of VERY scarce food. To top it off, they gave their lives rather than reveal where the Americans were hidden!!!!

These heartfelt sentiments echo those of a fallen warrior who, for the last half century of his life, waged the battle for public and official recognition of the Halyard Mission and the Serbian General who made it possible. In 1995, for the 50th anniversary commemoration of VE day, Major Richard Felman made the long journey from America to the hills of Ravna Gora, Serbia as a grateful American airman who had been among those rescued and evacuated by the Serbs that August 10th day in 1944. His memories and his gratitude remained the same as those of Jibby, the radioman who was instrumental in the saving of his life and the lives of hundreds of others like him. Unlike Jibby, he would not live to make this journey in 2004, but in my heart I know he was there, happy and proud that Serbia was coming closer to paying the honor so long overdue to one of her greatest legacies. Major Felman passed away on November 13th, of 1999, and to the very end, Pranjani remained a most special place in his heart, a place where he saw and came to know the very best in mankind.

Although Richard Felman and Arthur Jibilian have spoken about how much they owe to the Serbs, they have more than paid back their debt of gratitude. I was honored to have had the privilege to call Major Felman my friend and am honored to have been given the privilege to tell the story of the American radioman who’s participation in the missions of a lifetime saved lives. Jibby, the Radioman, we salute You.

Aleksandra Rebic
November 2004

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Was General Draza Mihailovich Guilty of Treason?


Reprinted from "The Catholic Times" (London) of July 26th, 1946

Written by the Diplomatic Correspondent

General Mihailovich has been put to death for having served his country to the best of an honest intention. He was shot by a band of foreign sponsored Communist revolutionaries who succeeded in conquering the country, and who, by virtue of their authority, so usurped, gave a legal veneer to the process of murder.

During the so-called trial no evidence was admitted except that collected by the murderers themselves. Neither American nor British evidence was allowed. Official representations made for instance, by the British Foreign Office, and transmitted in the correct diplomatic procedure to "the Yugoslav Government," were not passed on to what was called the "Court." Nor was such a suppression of the evidence in the least surprising, because the Government and the judges were one and the same people.

What General Mihailovich was accused of was labelled "treason." How serious was the legal pretense, could be gauged from the fact that in advance of the "trial" the Yugoslav Government issued a pamphlet about Mihailovich in which the word "treason" appeared in the title.

In fact there was no trial at all. What took place was an elaborately staged act of propaganda, which is the normal Communist way of life.

Now the interesting thing--interesting, that is an indication of the depth to which the modern world has sunk, is that this "Yugoslav Government" was accorded all the privileges of diplomatic practice. In order (one must presume) not to jeopardise the technical state of peace obtaining between the British and Yugoslav Governments, The Times newspaper in London published a leading article on the condemnation of Mihailovich, arguing that as Mihailovich had taken action against the actual Government of Yugoslavia, he was in fact properly convicted of treason.

What does that argument amount to? Mihailovich had led the Yugoslav people in resistance against the German invader until he found that under the cloak of a rival resistance movement Marshal Tito was in effect engaged in conquering Yugoslavia on behalf of Moscow.

In so far therefore as Mihailovich continued to drive out the Germans he was merely helping to hand his country over to the Russians. It was a cruel dilemma.

In his honest belief the Communist menace was an even greater menace than that of the Nazis. He therefore resisted both. Inasmuch as the Communists (with the help of the British Government, which stopped their supplies to Mihailovich and sent them instead to Tito) won their fight and succeeded in setting up what was in truth a foreign occupying Government, Mihailovich became technically a traitor to that Government.

The world is upside down. Mihailovich, an honest Yugoslav patriot, fell a victim and a martyr to a successful Communist invasion from the East. The invaders are now engaged in suppressing Christianity in the country. Let us at any rate be honest and courageous, and recognise what has taken place for what it truly is.

Reprinted from "The Catholic Times" (London) July 26, 1946 under 'Fair Use' provision.

The U.S. Congress is reminded of the Mihailovich Legacy and America's Debt

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD May 10, 1966 Comments by Congressman Edward J. Derwinski delivered in the United States House of Representatives commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the uprising against the Nazis by the forces of General Draza Mihailovich

Mr. Derwinski:

"Mr. Speaker, this week we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the announcement of the heroic struggle of the Serbian military forces of Gen. Draza Mihailovich, who was the first guerrilla leader in Europe, which was then under Nazi conquest. General Mihailovich has been called the 'Robin Hood of Serbia' and the 'Balkan Eagle' and was the wartime leader and supreme commander of the Yugoslav Army during World War II.

General Mihailovich was indeed a heroic martyr, for after having made a significant contribution to the delayed German military operations and the final victory of American forces in World War II, he was tragically abandoned by the Western democracies.

It certainly is a tragedy that the free world and particularly the United States has not learned a lesson from the case of General Mihailovich, who was our staunchest ally during the war period. If anyone should doubt the historic role of General Mihailovich, let him ponder the statement of
Adolf Hitler:

'Having in view the danger contained in the Mihailovich movement, I have already, in anticipation of all eventualities, issued orders for the destruction of all his supporters on the territory occupied by my troops. The liquidation of Mihailovich's movement at the present time will no longer be an easy matter because of the forces he has at his disposal.' (February 16, 1943)

However, General Mihailovich's movement was not destroyed by Hitler or by Mussolini, who also gave such orders. He continued to fight the Nazis without aid from the Western powers, Winston Churchill said:

'We were not able to send any aid or supplies except for a few droppings from airplanes.'

The General and his forces kept up their fight and aided our military plans against the Nazi occupiers. Many hundreds of American airmen were saved by General Mihailovich when their planes were brought down by German artillery. Disregarding the losses of his forces and German retaliation against the civilian population, General Mihailovich and his forces made it possible for these airmen to return safely to our country.

The Western World whould certainly be ashamed of its silence when the Communists of Yugoslavia persecuted, tried, sentenced, and murdered General Mihailovich for the crime of being a devoted friend of the West and an enemy of the Communists. The last head of our liaison mission in the general's headquarters, Col. Robert H. McDowell, said during testimony on the matter that:

'The real crime of which General Mihailovich is accused is that, in the minds of 80 percent of the Yugoslav population, he became and remains the symbol of the simple, sturdy Yugoslav peasant resistance to tyranny, foreign and domestic.'

General Mihailovich, however, by remaining alive, would have made it impossible for a Communist government to survive. His inspiration to the people would have driven Tito and his communist supporters out. That is why the Communists murdered him.

The Western World's naive leaders permitted this frightening crime to be perpetrated against this legendary hero and against his country. One of the greatest errors of the Roosevelt-Truman administrations was their betrayal of General Mihailovich and their support of Tito and his communist apparatus.

As we now observe the 25th anniversary of the heroic struggle of General Mihailovich against the Nazi forces, we must recognize that the free world has an obligation to the memory of General Mihailovich to develop policies that will restore legitimate freedom to his people.

The people of Yugoslavia suffer under a tyrannical Communist regime. Contrary to the official line of our State Department, the Tito government is not independent of the International Communist conspiracy. The memory of General Mihailovich remains a rallying point or the silent people within Yugoslavia and Americans who have found freedom in our land and who are descendants of the various peoples in Yugoslavia.

We receive constant reports of the steady economic deterioration in Yugoslavia and the lack of freedom under which the people suffer. I must point out to my colleagues that the people of Yugoslavia do have in the person of His Majesty King Peter II a legal and proper symbol of free government they hope to one day reestablish in their country.

In this year of the 25th anniversary of the heroic struggle which General Mihailovich waged for four years, it would be most practical if the U.S. public would insist that the administration and its State Department make a complete reappraisal of our foreign policy, especially as it applies to the unfortunate support and subsidy being given to the Tito government. The peoples of Yugoslavia deserve their self-determination and throughout their history have fought for religious and political freedom. I am confident that those freedoms they hold so dear will ultimately be restored."

Honorable Edward J. Derwinski
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.
May 10, 1966

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"The Man Who Counts"

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.


Adolf A. Berle, COMMISSION OF INQUIRY IN THE CASE OF DRAZA MIHAILOVICH member, reflects on the Mihailovich Legacy

When General Mihailovich was captured in the Spring of 1946 by the Tito's Yugoslav communists, and it was announced that he would be put on trial in Belgrade, a number of Americans were deeply concerned about his fate. Many of these Americans, among them senators, congressmen, state governors, clergymen, jurists, educators, authors, and others, formed A Committee for a Fair Trial for Draza Mihailovich who would request that a Commission be formed to hear the testimonies of American airmen and officers who had been rescued by General Mihailovich and his forces in Yugoslavia. These airmen and officers felt compelled to do whatever possible to get themselves heard by the court that would be putting Mihailovich on trial in Belgrade on what they knew would be false and manufactured charges. However, the efforts of the Americans would be denied by the Yugoslav communists who had come to power in Yugoslavia. The Americans refused to give up, as each one of them felt that a great debt was owed to General Mihailovich.
At the request of the Fair Trial Committee, the Commission of Inquiry in the Case of Draza Mihailovich was formed. After hearing out the airmen and the officers for a week and documenting all the testimonies, the Commission, comprised of four distinguished American jurists - Charles Poletti, Arthur Garfield Hays, Theodore Kiendle and Adolf A. Berle - sent it's report along with 586 pages of evidence to the United States State Department in the hope that this would facilitate the opportunity to be heard in Belgrade before the Yugoslav court. Unfortunately, the airmen and officers would be forbidden to testify in Belgrade on behalf of General Draza Mihailovich, and he would be executed by the communists immediately following the end of the trial.

One of the members of the Commission of Inquiry in the Case of Draza Mihailovich was Adolf A. Berle, a lawyer from Massachussetts, who was also a diplomat, an author, and a professor. When the Commission formed in the Spring of 1946, Adolf Berle was teaching at Columbia University in New York.

The following tribute was issued by Mr. Berle in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Mihailovich's passing.


by Adolf A. Berle

Draza Mihailovich earned a place in history. He proudly - and accurately - claimed to be the first guerrilla in Europe.

On their way to seizing Greece in 1941, Hitler's armies demanded free passage through Yugoslavia. Prince Paul, Regent of the Yugoslav government, unwillingly acceded and was immediately overthrown as its army, cheifly through the action of Serbian officers, revolted, placed King Peter on the throne and resisted against hopeless odds. They were rapidly overwhelmed by the Nazi divisions. Mihailovich, then a colonel, rallied what support he could, took to the hills and organized a guerrilla force, the "Chetniks," to harrass the German lines of communication. He had support from the British and later the American governments. This was the first and at the time the only, organized force in the country opposing Axis occupation.

The rival "Partisan" movement, headed by Josip Broz-Tito (Marshal Tito), and of communist orientation, was not organized until 1942, entering the struggle in 1943. Partisans, almost from the beginning, fought against Chetniks and Italian and German occupying forces with equal gusto. But the Partisans had the support of the Soviet Union and presently, for diplomatic and practical reasons, Winston Churchill shifted British military help to Tito (for whom, as he told me, he also had a romantic admiration), withdrawing aid to Mihailovich. During much of the remainder of the war, American officers were on duty with both leaders. At the war's end, Soviet influence was ascendant, the American and Allied forces far away - and the Partisans gained control of Yugoslavia. Mihailovich, still fighting with his Chetnik guerrillas, and loyal to the exiled King Peter, was captured by them in 1946. He was at once accused of opposition to the Partisan movement -- an opposition Mihailovich affirmed -- and in due time was executed by Tito's order.

While he was Tito's prisoner, some of us made an effort to save his life. A lawyer's group in which I participated, endeavored to review all the available evidence and to state our conclusions. Unquestionably, Mihailovich had opposed the Communists during and after the war, but equally unquestionably he acted in simple self defense, forced on him by Partisan policy. The graver accusation was that he had collaborated with the Axis -- especially the Italian troops. Chetniks captured by Tito -- among them Milan Bandovic -- had been interrogated as early as 1944 in the hope of securing evidence of that collaboration. Reports of it had reached the American government but these were usually unsupported. Many were traceable to Communist propaganda. Most of them boiled down to the fact that Mihailovich and his Chetniks were as much -- perhaps more -- in danger from Partisans than nfron the Axis (particularly retreating Italian) forces, and defended themselves as best they could. By the time of Mihailovich's capture in 1946, the real issue was whether Yugoslavia was to be consolidated as a Communist State under Marshal Tito -- Mihailovich, a Serbian, a non-Communist, a war hero, and an adherent of the monarchy and King Peter, was a plain political obstacle.

Mihailovich's execution was not an act of justice. It was a political purge -- of a kind all too familiar in Communist and Balkan history.

Disregarding politics, I am clear he deserved better, both at the hands of the Allies and of his own country. Under the Regency, he had sought to oppose extension of Fascist and Nazi influence into Yugoslavia. As part of the revolution dethroning Prince Paul, he helped organize armed resistance to the entry of the Axis forces (that movement, as Winston Churchill notes, infuriated Hitler to the irrational point of ordering Yugoslavia's destruction).

His Chetniks operations contributed to a measure of delay to the German conquest of Greece. He pinned down German troops in Yugoslavia which otherwise would have been employed in the 1941 campaign against the Soviet Union. As matters later developed, these few weeks' delay appreciably contributed to the eventual Nazi defeat in Russia.
Mihailovich admittedly attempted to prevent the Communist revolution in his country. History will make of that what it may. But history cannot deny and will not forget that Draza Mihailovich was outsanding as a brave and determined patriot, loyal to his king, defending his country against foreign enemies, forwarding the cause of freedom as he conceived it, at the cost of his life.
His memory is entitled to honor and respect.
New York City, N.Y.
April 1966

Germans issue Standing Reward for the Capture of General Mihailovich, Dead or Alive

In 1943, the Nazis issued a standing offer for the capture of General Draza Mihailovich, dead or alive. The reward was 100,000 gold Reichsmarks.

The Germans did not succeed.

Friday, July 21, 2006



By Ray Brock

Foreign Correspondent

for The New York Times

As a personal friend and one of the world's correspondents, for The New York Times, who wrote first and at great length of Yugoslavia's greatest general and Serbia's most magnificent leader, I am proud and happy to add perhaps a few words that may contribute to the enormous truth and the tremendous legend of World War II's most magnificent hero and legendary 'guerrillissimo' whose valor and daring contributed most to Western Allied victory!

As chief correspondent of The New York Times, first at Belgrade and later with Ankara at GHG - but 'based' throughout the Balkans and Middle East, I had an unparlleled opportunity to 'cover' and report most comprehensively daily, nightly and Sunday on the exploits of Yugoslavia's indomitable war leader. My dispatches in The New York Times speak for themselves in hundreds of thousands of words of 'reportage' upon Mihailovich alone.

Above all, he "kept alive the flame of Liberty!" in the bloody Balkans, but, quite as importantly, his sabotage guerrilla war; his dash and daring and dogged determination inspired the entire 'Free World' where the forces of evil, from Berlin and Moscow, threatened total disaster. No other single Allied leader combined the cold military courage, the political sagacity and the combination of tactic and strategy which spelled the undoing of Axis forces in Southeastern Europe. No other single C-in-C "inspired" other, less organized guerrilla forces to indomitable resistance.

As you know, I wear proudly "The Order of Ravna Gora," from Draza himself, forwarded from his Montenegrin headquarters, and I was in almost constant communication with elements of the "Chetnici" via shortwave radio and via dauntless agents who made the hazardous journeys into and out of the zones of battle. Despite my own newspaper's opposition, I sought constantly to join Mihailovich, personally to report from his GHQ, but was blocked.

An actual 'word-count,' -- if it were possible -- probably would show that I wrote more - and more accurately - on Draza Mihailovich, than any other correspondent, in Europe or the Middle East, for years! -- for I was in 'constant' touch with bona fide Serb underground, via special agents and, for a time, via Ilija Shumenkovich, Yugoslav "Loyalist" ambassador, his military attache, Col. Milosh Bankovich, who I'd known and known well in 'pre-war' Yugoslavia...and it was a rare night indeed, when my 'broadcast' (via Radio Ankara) to The New York Times did not include the latest--and 'straightest' news from "Inside."

I shall seek to 'summarize' for you, in a paragraph or two, my unlimited, unbound admiration, loyalty, respect and profound love for one of the greatest men of our generation, General Draza Mihailovich of Serbia-Yugoslavia.

As correspondent at Belgrade and later in Turkey for The New York Times, I 'covered' the incredible resistance movement of 'The Ravnogorskih Trupa' and their nonpareil "guerrillissimo" for almost five years. Through almost incredible and insurmountable difficulties, I managed to keep The New York Times and its millions of readers apprised of the valorous and intrepid guerrilla warfare of Mihailovich and his men, including the rescue and repatriation of 588 USAF fliers.

"Operating" at a one-to-ten and even to twenty 'ratio' divisionally, the Chetnici succeeded in the prime objective -- which was the denial to the Reichsmarshal Erwin Rommel in the Western Desert Cyrenaica in Egypt, precious supplies, including tanks, guns, lubricating oil and grease for his 'Tiger' tanks, simultaneously providing the British Eighth Army ('The Desert Rats') with nonpareil Intelligence upon the movement of troops through the Balkans for Greek embarkation to Africa.

Mihailovich was a master of "the war-of-movement" and "deception," and at his peak period "occupied" and engaged in guerrilla battle more than 18 divisions of Axis troops in Yugoslavia. His tactics were obviously "hit-and-run," and unparralled sabotage of the 'normal,' single-track rail-line through the Morava and Vardar Valleys through Central Serbia. Using plastic explosives dropped by British transport planes, the "Chetniks" quite literally destroyed the "prime" elements of German Tiger Tank shipments at a period when the British were sorely beset -- and before they had entirely developed their later tremendous high-muzzle-velocity artillery which enabled them to "knock out" the "Tigers" on their own.

It can be said quite successfully without fear of contradiction that "Mihailovich saved Cairo!" and beyond that, repeatedly "denied" the desperate Germans the precious ammunition they needed for their "Tigers," blowing these munitions to Gehenna in the Morava and Vardar Valleys, usually by plastic explosive charges which derailed ammo' trains at strategic points on the tortuous rail-line.

Above and beyond the "tactical" assaults upon Rommel's supply lines, Serbia's superb Intelligence -- literally, almost a "grapevine telegraph," enabled the British to know when the Axis planned major operations in Cyrenaica. Those of us who "knew," know that Mihailovich well and truly was both front and rear guard of the gallant British Eighth Army -- and quite literally, "cost Rommel the Western Desert."


November 29, 1966

From "Tributes to General Mihailovich"

Commemorating the 25th anniversary year of the uprising against the Nazis and the 20th anniversary year of his death.

1966 Windsor, Ontario

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Los Angeles American Legion Post 'Gen. Draza Mihailovich' Memorial Day Observance May 29, 2006

Los Angeles American Legion Post
“Gen. Draza Mihailovich”
Observes Memorial Day And Commemorates 60th
Anniversary of Gen. Mihailovich’s Murder

Los Angeles, CA May 29, 2006

The Serbian cemetery here was the site for our American Legion Post’s observance of Memorial Day and Special Commemoration in honor of Gen. Mihailovich, on the 60th anniversary of his murder by the Communists.

Promptly at 11:00 AM an honor guard detail of Legionnaires marched to the monument erected by the “Gen. Draza Mihailovich” American Legion Post #827 to commemorate all the fallen serviceman and women in the past wars. The monument is situated in the rotunda of the cemetery, flanked by a tall flagpole. A large crowd of spectators was on hand to participate in the observance of the holiday and the Commemoration.

The flag was raised and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in unison by all present. The Post commander, Draza Knezevich delivered a brief speech about Gen. Draza Mihailovich and paid tribute to the late General and his men who rescued over 700 allied airmen from behind German lines. He also made special mention of the 60th anniversary of Gen. Mihalovich’s murder.

Easels were flanking the monument adorned with a large photo collage of Gen. Mihailovich on one and a flower arrangement on the other side. The Sergeant at Arms presented a large wreath to the Post Commander and it was placed next to Gen. Draza’s photograph. The attending clergy held a memorial service marking the 60th anniversary of Gen. Draza’s murder and for all of the servicemen fallen over the years.

The honor guard was called to attention and fired the ceremonial three volleys. Taps were played. This concluded the ceremony and the traditional “Zito” was offered.

Situated adjacent to the Serbian Cemetery are the Serbian Benevolent Society “Jedinstvo” grounds where the Society organized a picnic for the afternoon with a big barbecue of roast lamb, chevapi and other delicacies. A live band was on hand to entertain, food was succulent and plentiful and the bar well stocked. However the sizeable crowd had such a good time, that the food and bar were sold out by mid afternoon.

The observance and picnic were a resounding success thanks to the dedicated members of “Jedinstvo” who did all of the organizing and work for the picnic and the Legion Post who organized the tribute and military ceremony for Gen. Mihailovich.

D. Christy


American Legion Post #827
"Gen. Draža Mihailović"
623 West Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92868-2818
714.532.3299 Phone

714.532.3188 FAX

The "General Draža Mihailović" American Legion Post # 827 was founded in 1948. It was then and still is today the only American Legion Post worldwide to be named after a foreign military leader. This required special permission by National Headquarters of the Legion.

The first commander was Milan ‘Bill’ Knežević who was instrumental in founding and organizing the Post. At one time, the Post had over 160 members. Time took its toll and many of our members have passed on. Today, we are campaigning to recruit new members in order to keep our Post vibrant and active.

In 1984 the General Draža Mihailović Post # 827 erected a monument at the Serbian Cemetery
in Los Angeles to honor all veterans who served their country in time of war.

Through the years the Post has consistently financially contributed to children’s organizations, and sends every year a boy to Sacramento to participate in Boys State. We have also contributed to veterans and the Serbian Orthodox Church. We are an ardent supporter of all actions to commemorate Gen. Mihailović and his contributions to the allied war effort in World War II.

We are very proud to have had the late Major Richard Felman, USAF (Ret.) as one of our members. He inspired us to continue actively promoting Gen. Mihailović and his Četnik fighters who performed the largest single rescue of American and allied aviators from enemy occupied territory in World War II. Operation Halyard airlifted over five hundred airmen shot down over Serbia. This significantly helped to defeat the Axis Powers - Germany and her allies.

If you are on active duty today, anywhere in the world, or have served during any eligible war eras, you are a veteran and you're eligible to become a Legionnaire! It does not matter where you live worldwide – you can still join General Draža Mihailović Post # 827!

We're veterans just like you, nearly 3 million strong, who care about America, veterans and their families and our nation's youth. The Legion is a powerful voice in Washington dedicated to preserving the rights we've all earned - and were promised - by service to our nation in uniform.

We invite you to join us now. The American Legion is always there for you and your family - in Washington and posts throughout America and abroad. Just like you, we're "Still Serving America!"


Photo of Ronald Reagan commentary on General Mihailovich 1979

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



September 8, 1979

Mr. Michael Radenkovich
Vice President
California Citizens' Committee to
Commemorate General Mihailovich

Dear Mr. Radenkovich:

Please convey to the California Citizen's Committee to Commemorate General Draja Mihailovich my sincere appreciation for their kind invitation to attend tonight's dinner to commemorate General Mihailovich. Unfortunately, prior committments prevent me from being with you.

I believe that the spirit in which you have gathered here to honor the memory of General Mihailovich, the faithful allied commander and the first anti-Nazi leader in Europe, is shared by the great majority of Americans.

The ultimate tragedy of Draza Mihailovich cannot erase the memory of his heroic and often lonely struggle against the twin tyrannies that afflicted his people, Nazism and Communism. He knew that totalitarianism, whatever name it might take, is the death of freedom. He thus became a symbol of resistance to all those across the world who have had to fight a similar heroic and lonely struggle against totalitarianism. Mihailovich belonged to Yugoslavia; his spirit now belongs to all those who are willing to fight for freedom.

I wish it could be said that this great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of western governments in dealing with Communism. The fact is that others have suffered a fate similar to his by being embraced and then abandoned by western governments in the hope that such abandonment will purchase peace or security.

Thus, the fate of General Mihailovich is not simply of historic significance -- it teaches us something today, as well. No western nation, including the United States, can hope to win its own battle for freedom and survival by sacrificing brave comrades to the politics of international expediency.

Your dinner therefore commemorates something more than the legacy of patriotism and heroism that Mihailovich left us. You commemorate the principles for which he fought and died. And you remind our nation that abandonment of allies can never buy security or freedom. In the mountains of Yugoslavia, in the jungles of Vietnam, wherever men and women have fought totalitarian brutality, it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to false hopes of appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends.

Ronald Reagan


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


''The heroic man has the whole earth as his monument, and as his tomb.
For the memory of a heroic life is enshrined in every breast and preserved in every heart."




The Obituary of General Mihailovich

as published in

The New York Times

July 18, 1946

The fingers of history, rustling through the pages of the Second World War, may provide an ironic postscript to the scene that took place at dawn yesterday somewhere in the vicinity of Belgrade when General Draza Mihailovich crumpled before the bullets of a Yugoslav firing squad. The record is fairly obvious now. A more complete search and study of the files of the German General Staff, and a historical assessment of the various factors that entered into the successful defense of Moscow by the Red Army during the fall and winter of 1941, may show that the one important factor was the time that was bought for the Russians in the spring of 1941 by Yugoslavia and Mihailovich. On the record written thus far, the Russian-controlled Tito government has taken the life of a man to whom Russia owes a great debt.
The recorded facts of the German attack on Yugoslavia and Soviet Russia in 1941 are these, as testified to by von Paulus, the German commander in Stalingrad, and by Jodl the former German Chief of Staff, before the Allied Tribunal at Nuremberg:

Hitler drew his plan for the attack on Russia in December 1940. At that time he hoped to absorb the Balkans without a fight. This would have secured his right flank for the attack on Russia. Mihailovic, then a colonel, was among an influential group in Yugoslavia that resisted an alliance with Germany, overthrew the pro-Nazi Government and installed one favorable to the Allies. When it became evident that Yugoslavia would not yield without a fight, von Paulus tells us, Hitler set the date of the drive on Yugoslavia for March and that against Russia for five weeks later. The attack on Yugoslavia actually was launched on April 6th, 1941.

While Hitler was preparing his move against Yugoslavia, the new Yugoslav Government at once sent emissaries to Moscow seeking a mutual assistance pact. The best that it could get was first, a promise to remain neutral, then a treaty of friendship. The Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact was still in force then.

The initial German attack on Yugoslavia made swift progress. The Government was driven from Belgrade. In the hills, however, a new Yugoslav hero emerged. Mihailovic, fighting a gallant delaying action, rallied the remnants of the Yugoslav Army and began an open and effective guerrilla resistance to the German Army. Because of this unexpected resistance, the German’s timetable of five weeks between the attack on Yugoslavia and the drive on the Soviets stretched to ten weeks. When it began, June 22nd, it was weakened by the necessity of maintaining several divisions in Yugoslavia to hold that flank.

Everyone knows the rest of the story. Delayed three months beyond the time originally set for the attack, the German Army failed to reach Moscow before the dreaded Russian winter had set in. With the help of winter, the Red Army held the line in front of Moscow. Hundreds of thousands of Germans who had expected to garrison in the shelter of the Russian capital died instead in the icy trenches a few miles away. There is good reason to believe that this – even more than the defense of Stalingrad – was the turning point of the German-Russian conflict.

History may decide that it is not Tito - who was in Belgrade while Mihailovich was fighting in the hills in those early days - but the executed Chetnik leader whose statue should stand in Red Square in Moscow.

Mihailovich fell yesterday in Belgrade.

The New York Times July 18, 1946
Posted under Fair Use provision

Portrait of General Mihailovich
by portrait artist Jim Pollard 1981


General Mihailovich honored in Serbia to mark the 60th anniversary of his death

Pr­vi po­kret ot­po­ra u Evro­pi

16. jul 2006

BE­O­GRAD (Tan­jug) - U Do­mu sin­di­ka­ta odr­ža­na je u nedelju aka­de­mi­ja pod na­zi­vom "Isti­na o đe­ne­ra­lu" po­vo­dom šest de­ce­ni­ja od stra­da­nja ge­ne­ra­la Dra­go­lju­ba Dra­že Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća.

Isto­ri­čar i ana­li­ti­čar Sr­đa Trif­ko­vić oce­nio je da isto­rij­ski na­met­nu­ta re­še­nja ni­su do­bra, što se, ka­ko je re­kao, po­ka­za­lo i na isto­ri­ji ko­ja je pi­sa­na po­sle Dru­gog svet­skog ra­ta i na­gla­sio da Sr­bi­ja ne tre­ba s nji­ma da se po­mi­ri.

"Sr­bi­ja ne bi tre­ba­lo da pri­sta­ne ni na jed­no na­met­nu­to re­še­nje ko­je bi se od­no­si­lo na sta­tus Ko­so­va i Me­to­hi­je," re­kao je Trif­ko­vić.

Go­vo­re­ći o isto­rij­skoj ulo­zi Dra­že Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća, kao vo­đi Rav­no­gor­skog čet­nič­kog po­kre­ta, ko­ji je, pre­ma Trif­ko­vi­će­vim re­či­ma pr­vi po­kret ot­po­ra u Evro­pi u vre­me Dru­gog svet­skog ra­ta, on je na­gla­sio da je po­treb­no isti­nu o Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ću sa­gle­da­ti bez ide­o­lo­ških ste­ga.

Trif­ko­vić je is­ta­kao da isti­na u Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ću uk­klju­ču­je či­nje­ni­cu da su rav­no­gor­ci u vre­me Dru­gog svet­skog ra­ta spa­si­li vi­še od 600 ame­rič­kih pi­lo­ta i pa­do­bra­na­ca i da bi se ti­me po­no­si­le mno­ge ze­mlje sve­ta. Pred­lo­žio je da Voj­na aka­de­mi­ja srp­ske voj­ske do­bi­je ime ge­ne­ra­la Dra­že Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća, ka­ko bi se is­pra­vi­la ne­prav­da pre­ma "ve­li­kom srp­skom voj­ni­ku i pa­tri­o­ti".

Sve­šte­nik Ve­li­bor Čo­mić je ka­zao da "kao lju­di i kao na­rod ima­mo oba­ve­zu da se po­klo­ni­mo se­ni­ma Dra­že Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća, kao i neo­t­kri­ve­nim gro­bo­vi­ma svih žr­ta­va ko­mu­ni­zma".

Aka­de­mi­ju su or­ga­ni­zo­va­li Srp­ska na­rod­na od­bra­na iz Ame­ri­ke i Dve­ri srp­ske, a po­men Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ću odr­žan je da­nas u Cr­kvi Sve­tog Mar­ka.




U pri­su­stvu vi­še hi­lja­da pri­pad­ni­ka Rav­no­gor­skog po­kre­ta, čla­no­va SPO i gra­đa­na Šu­ma­di­je, iz mno­gih kra­je­va Sr­bi­je i di­ja­spo­re iz Ame­ri­ke, u nedelju je u La­po­vu ot­kri­ven spo­me­nik čet­nič­kom ge­ne­ra­lu Dra­go­lju­bu Dra­ži Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ću po­vo­dom 60. go­di­šnji­ce nje­go­vog po­gu­blje­nja po­sle Dru­gog svet­skog ra­ta.
Na tr­gu ko­ji od pro­šlog le­ta no­si na­ziv Ge­ne­ra­la Dra­že spo­me­nik je ot­krio lek­san­dar Ćo­pić, pred­sed­nik Iz­vr­šnog od­bo­ra SPO i za­me­nik mi­ni­stra za di­ja­spo­ru ko­ji je re­kao da se ovim is­pra­vlja ve­li­ka ljud­ska i isto­rij­ska ne­prav­da pre­ma ge­ne­ra­lu i Rav­no­gor­skom po­kre­tu ko­ji su po­ve­li pr­vi ge­ril­ski usta­nak u Evro­pi.
Dra­ško Sto­i­sa­vlje­vić, se­kre­tar Rav­no­gor­skog po­kre­ta pro­či­tao je otvo­re­no pi­smo ko­je je sa ove sve­ča­no­sti upu­će­no Bo­ri­su Ta­di­ću, Vo­ji­sla­vu Ko­štu­ni­ci i Pre­dra­gu Mar­ko­vi­ću gde se tra­že pre­ci­zni po­da­ci gde se na­la­zi grob ge­ne­ra­la Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća. Vla­sti je za od­go­vor dat rok do Sve­tog Ili­je. U su­prot­nom, Sto­i­sa­vlje­vić je na­ja­vio da će oni sa­mi ko­pa­ti sva­ku lo­ka­ci­ju za ko­ju sa­zna­ju da je tu mo­žda za­ko­pan čet­nič­ki ge­ne­ral.
Mir­ko Či­ki­riz, pot­pred­sed­nik SPO, re­kao je da sva­ka op­šti­na u Sr­bi­ji tre­ba da ima trg i uli­cu sa
ime­nom i obe­lež­jem ge­ne­ra­la Mi­ha­i­lo­vi­ća. Z. GO­LU­BO­VIĆ
Published in "Vecernje Novosti Online" July 16, 2006
Posted under 'Fair Use' provision.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Copyright 2006 Financial Times Information
All Rights Reserved
Global News Wire - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire
Copyright 2006 BBC Monitoring/BBC Source: Financial Times Information Limited

July 17, 2006 Monday


Belgrade, 16 July: Members of the Ravna Gora Movement, which gathers followers of Serbian Chetnik World War II leader and convicted war criminal Draza Mihailovic, have given the state authorities three weeks to locate hisgrave or else they "will dig up half of Belgrade".

The ultimatum was given at the unveiling of a 4.6-metre-high monument toDraza Mihailovic in Lapovo, near the central town of Kragujevac, on Sunday [16 July] on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his execution by firing squad.

Mihailovic was executed on 17 July 1946 after a Belgrade court sentenced himto death for war crimes, and was buried at a secret location. The place of burial has remained unknown to date.

Over 1,500 of Mihailovic's followers gathered at the ceremony in Lapovo. The monument, raised in the town's central square which is also named after him, was financed by local authorities with the assistance of the Serbian Ministryof Culture.

Addressing the ceremony, Assistant Minister for Expatriate Affairs Aleksandar Cotric said that Mihailovic was the first to rise against the Nazi occupying forces in Serbia, expressing hope that a monument in his honour would be erected in every town in Serbia, including Belgrade.

The anniversary of Mihailovic's execution was also marked by a memorial service in the Church of St George at Ravna Gora, which was attended, among others, by officials of the Serbian Renewal Movement, the party of Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.

Text of Report in English by Croatian News Agency HINA
Source: HINA News Agency, Zagreb, in English 1819 gmt 16 July 06


Posted under Fair Use provision

In Memoriam: General Mihailovich April 27, 1893 - July 17, 1946

Portrait of General Mihailovich by Wisconsin artist Jim Pollard

60th Anniversary Tribute to General Mihailovich July 2006



The 60th Anniversary - July 2006

By Aleksandra Rebic

"Confidence thrives on honesty, on honor,
on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful
protection and unselfish performance.
Without them it cannot live."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Taking to the hills of Serbia with only a few handful of men to mount the first real resistance to Hitler's occupying forces in Europe was impressive. The guts it took and the resolve necessary for these men and their leader to initiate such a courageous act against the Nazi war machine that in 1941 appeared to be invincible seems almost inconceivable now. But it was real, and the magnificence of it has withstood the test of time to remain one of those pivotal moments in history when men stood up against monsters and said, 'No, you will not win.'

For many years now, I've told the story of General Draza Mihailovich and his chetnik freedom fighters, and my father has been telling it for much longer than that. It's a story that begs to be told. It's the story of a distinguished Serbian military man who leads the first real resistance in occupied Europe against Adolf Hitler during World War II and who for the duration of the war remained true to the fight for freedom for his people and his nation. It is the story of a man who was and remained a loyal ally of the great democracies despite the terrible betrayal that would be perpetrated against him. It is the story of a man who has been gone for 60 years now and for whom there is still no gravesite in his homeland.

This story came to an end on July 17, 1946 when after a phony communist trial in Belgrade, General Mihailovich was executed. No remains were to be found or properly buried so that there is a marker in Serbia signifying the existence of a man who lived and died for the honor and survival of the people and country he loved as well as for the success of the Allied cause he remained faithful to until the end of his life.

That day in July a new story began and has continued for 60 years. That is the story of making sure that the legacy of General Mihailovich is made known for what it truly was and that the historical record properly and honestly reflects that legacy. That is the story that remains to be told as we reach the 60th anniversary of the General's passing.

For these 60 years since his death, those who knew and understood the value of character exemplified by General Mihailovich in his actions against the enemy and in his faithfulness toward his people and his allies have kept his memory and legacy alive throughout the world. I've known many of those people personally through the years, and though many of them are gone now I'll not forget their passion and dedication to keeping this legacy alive. No one truly dies unless they are forgotten, and all of us who appreciate just how great a man General Mihailovich was and what made him a truly heroic figure in history must never allow him to be forgotten. Now that so many of those who lived that history and who fought alongside him are gone, it is up to us who have come after and who know their story to keep that legacy alive. We must. We owe it to them, and most of all, to him.

Each one of us who knows the history of World War Two and appreciates the role that General Mihailovich played in that history has our own thoughts about what made him great. Mounting the resistance to the Nazis and maintaining it despite the horrendous obstacles and pressures that both the Yugoslav communists and the allies burdened him with as he fought to remain true to the cause is paramount. However, for me, there is something else that stands out and has become an even stronger indicator of who he was and why he is deserving of the honor and recognition that is bestowed upon true heroes. It's that thing that makes me proud to be a member of the same nationality and ethnic background as he was.

General Mihailovich remained a faithful Ally. The Allies did not remain faithful to him. Over a period of time, as he struggled to maintain the fight for freedom in his homeland and at the same time remain a worthy and loyal ally of the democracies, he would be betrayed and abandoned by those who had promised assistance but who would leave him to the wolves that would ultimately take his life. Even as he watched the betrayal unfold and came to know that he had been abandoned by the Allies, he remained loyal to their cause, but not only that. He remained loyal to them.

Even after the betrayal was complete, and he was left on his own against the Nazis and the communists, General Mihailovich and his people would perform acts that were beyond honorable and that almost defy the imagination considering how self-less and forgiving those acts were.

Many allied personnel found themselves in Yugoslavia in 1944 after the Allied leaders had turned their backs on Draza and his people. General Mihailovich could have left them to the wolves in retaliation, but he did not. Instead, throughout 1944, he oversaw and enabled the evacuations of hundreds of Allied personnel, including liaison officers who had been assigned to monitor him and airmen who had been shot down by the Nazis and who had landed by fate on Serbian territory that was occupied by the enemy. All of the evacuations were successful. Not one man was captured. Not one man was left to his own fate and at the mercy of the enemy. All were fed, housed, protected, and evacuated to safety to return to their homes and families and to go on with their lives. They all lived to tell stories about the war and about the man who had saved them. Many of them would spend the rest of their lives dedicated to telling this story and fighting for official recognition of the man who had made their survival possible.

The fact that General Mihailovich had several options is what will never cease to amaze me, and what lies at the heart of his story are the honorable choices that he made. He could have turned his back, justifiably so, but he didn't. He did the honorable thing, that unselfish thing, that reflects a "sacredness of obligation" which only true men of character, men of greatness, carry within them no matter what the circumstances are. I have no idea what General Mihailovich's relationship with God was. I can only hope that when God saw all that the General did, that He was pleased.

Through the years I have had the privilege of coming to know some of those WWII veterans that are part of this great story, both Allied and Serbian, and to call them my friends. I never grew tired of their story. And now that so many are gone, it's up to us to keep telling that story. We must. That is our sacred obligation.

Progress has been made. Serbia has begun to slowly officially recognize the worthy legacy of the son whom she has shunned for too long. The Legion of Merit Medal awarded to General Mihailovich by the United States in 1948 finally made it home in 2005, where it belongs. Though the old organizations established years ago continue their remembrances and celebrations of his life, new organizations have been established in his memory, such as the Draza Mihailovich American Legion Post in Los Angeles, which is attracting young veterans who will carry on the legacy.

As the old guys pass on, and with them their memories, it's up to us survivors to continue maintaining the goal of securing for General Mihailovich the official recognition and place in history that he deserves. They did all the hard work. It's up to us to make sure that it was not in vain.

My father has never given up. For sixty years he has remained faithful to the cause that he fought for as a young man, a kid really, and has never wavered. His passion has been passed on to me, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know the Mihailovich story and to be part of carrying on his legacy. It's in my blood now. I can only hope that all of us who share that same passion will maintain the same faithfulness to the cause that our fathers and grandfathers did.

I know the day will come when General Mihailovich is given his proper due and his rightful place in history is permanently established with all the honor that he deserves. He was and remains a true soldier, an honorable leader, a faithful ally, and ultimately a decent human being who never turned his back on the sacredness of his obligations. That, by any measure, is what makes a man a great man.

It is this kind of greatness that makes General Mihailovich a man I wish I had known, and a man that can never be forgotten.

Aleksandra Rebic

July 2006

60th Anniversary Tribute to General Mihailovich in Serbian Cyrillic

Сeћање на Генерала


Он је заиста био велики човек

By Aleksandra Rebic

Поверење живи од поштења, части,
од светости обавеза, од верне заштите
и несебичног учинка.
Без њих онo не може да живи.

- Франклин Делано Рузвелт

Одлазак у брда Србије са неколицином људи како би почео први стварни отпор Хитлеровим окупационим трупама у Европи био је импресиван. Храброст која је била потребна и одлучност која је била још важнија мора да су биле одлике не само вође него и његових људи кад су отпочели храбри покрет отпора немачкој ратној машини која је 1941. године изгледала непобедивом. Упркос што нам данас све то изгледа невероватним - све је истина а величанственост подухвата је издржало испит времена да би остао једним од најважнијих момената у историји кад су се скоро голоруки људи супроставили чудовишту да би му рекли ``Не, ти нећеш победити``.

Већ годинама пишем о генералу Михаиловићу и његовим четницима –борцима за слободу, док мој отац о истом пише већ деценијама. То је прича која моли да се каже. То је прича о истакнутом српском војнику, који је водио први стварни отпор у окупираној Европи против Адолфа Хитлера за време Другог светског рата, и који је кроз цео рат остао доследан борби за слободу свог народа и своје земље. То је прича о човеку који је био и који је остао веран савезник великих демократија упркос срамне издаје коју ће му исте нанети. То је прича о човеку кога нема међу нама већ 60 година и за кога нема помен гроба у његовој властитој земљи.

Та прича је дошла крају 17 јула 1946. године, кад је, после комунистичког незаконитог суђења, Генерал Михаиловић био погубљен. Његове мошти нико досад није пронашао да би их прописно сахранио, како би у Србији било помен место које би овеликовечило живот човека који је не само живео већ који је и умро, не само за част и опстанак народа и земље коју је волео већ и за успех савезничког напора коме је остао веран до краја свога живота.

Тог истог јула месеца почела је нова прича која наставља да живи већ 60 година. То је прича која ће да осигура да се баштини Драже Михаиловића да достојно признање за оно што је иста била и да историјски подаци исправно и поштено представе ту баштину. То је прича коју настављамо да казујемо и данас на прагу 60 годишњице Генералове смрти.

Ових 60 година од његове смрти, они, који су знали и разумели вредност карактера генерала Михаиловића испољеног у његовим акцијама против непријатеља и у његовој оданости свом народу и својим савезницима, одржавају живим и сећање на њега и на његову баштину широм света. Ја, која годинама лично познајем многе од ових људи, а од којих многи нису више међу нама, никад нећу заборавити њихову страст и оданост у одржавању те баштине живом. Нико заиста не умре, осим ако је заборављен. Зато сада, када многи од оних који су живели ту историју и који су се борили уз њега, нису више са нама, до нас је, који смо дошли после њих, и који знамо њихову причу, да одржавамо баштину живом. Ми морамо. Ми то дугујемо свима њима, а понајвише њему.

Сви ми, који познајемо историју Другог светског рата и ценимо улогу коју је генерал Михаиловић одиграо у тој историји, имамо своје лично мишљење о томе шта га је учинило великим. Почетак отпора Нацистима и одржавање истог упркос огромних препрека и притисака са којим су га препречавали како југословенски комунисти тако исто и савезници, док он остаје веран савезничкој ствари, је од највеће важности. Ипак, за мене, постоји још нешто што је јединствено и што је постало јаче обележје свега што је он био и зашто заслужује почаст и признање којим се дарују истински хероји. Објаснићу шта је то што ме прави поносном да сам део исте националности и етничког порекла као и oн.

Генерал Михаиловић је остао веран савезник. Савезници нису остали верни њему. За време док се он трудио да одржава борбу за слободу своје отаџбине и у исто време остао вредан и веран савезник демократија, он је био издан и напуштен од оних који су му најпре обећали помоћ, да би га на крају оставили злотворима да му коначно и живот узму. Иако је постао свестан игре издаје, иако је схватио да га савезници напуштају, остаје веран њиховој ствари. И не само то. Остаје веран и њима. Јер и онда кад је издаја била комплетна, и када су остали сами против Нациста и комуниста, генерал Михаиловић и његов народ су предузимали акције које, не само да су биле више него часне, већ су скоро пркосиле имагинацији, кад се узме у обзир како су несебичне и опраштајуће биле.

Пуно савезничког особља се нашло у Југославији у 1944. години кад су савезничке вође окренуле леђа Дражи и његовом народу. Михаиловић је могао да изабере да их остави вуковима у одмазди за издају, али он није. Уместо тога, кроз целу 1944. годину, он је надзирао и омогућавао евакуацију више стотина савезничког особља, укључујући и савезничке официре за везу, којих је дужност била да надгледају не само њега, него и авијатичаре који су парашутирали из оборених авиона, a захваљујући прсту судбине, на српску територију, окупирану од непријатеља. Све евакуације су биле успешне. Ни један од савезника није био заробљен. Ни један није био остављен судбини или милости непријатеља. Сви су били храњени, смештени, заштићени и евакуисани како би се на крају вратили кућама и својим фамилијама да наставе нормалан живот. Често су причали о рату и помињали, дубоко захвални, човека који их је спасио. Многи од њих су утрошили остатак живота не само да кажу ту причу већ да инсистирају на званичном признању човеку који им је омогућио да опстану.

За мене, у срцу ове приче, а што до данас није престало да ме чуди, је частан избор који је одабрао поред многих које је имао. Иако издан, иако је могао да се свети, могао да окрене леђа, он чини часну ствар, несебичну ствар која је израз ``светости обавезе`` коју једино људи истинског карактера, велики међу нама, носе у себи без обзира на околности које их окружују. Ја не знам какву је веру у Бога Михаиловић имао, могу једино да се надам да је Бог био задовољан кад је сагледао све што је Михаиловић урадио.

Протеклих година имала сам привилегију да упознам неке од ветерана Другог светског рата и међу Србима и међу савезницима, а који су део ове велике приче, и да их назовем својим пријатељима. Увек сам жељно слушала њихове приче. Сада, кад многи од њих нису више са нама, остаје на нама да наставимо да казујемо њихову причу. Ми морамо. То је наша света обавеза.

Има успеха. Србија је почела иако полако да званично признаје вредност баштине свог дуго време игнорисаног сина. Медаља Легије Вредности којом је Америка одликовала генерала Михаиловића 1948. године, коначно је стигла свом огњишту у 2005. години, где и припада. Старе организације, основане пре много година настављају да гаје сећање на Дражу и славе његов живот, нове организације се оснивају у знак сећања на њега, као што је ``Дража Михаиловић`` Пост Америчке Ветеранске Легије у Лос Анђелесу, које привлаче младе ветеране који ће наставити са чувањем Дражине баштине.

Док нас старији напуштају, и са њима њихова сећања, до нас је који остајемо да осигурамо за генерала Михаиловића званично признање и место у историји које он заслужује. Стари су урадили најтежи део. До нас је да осигурамо да то није било узалуд.

Мој отац није никад посустао. Шесдесет година остао је веран ономе за шта се борио као млад човек, скоро дете, а да се није ниједном поколебао. Његова страст је постала мојом, и ја сам захвална да ми је омогућено да сазнам Михаиловићеву причу, и да сам део напора чувања његове баштине. То је постало део мене. Надам се да ћемо сви ми који делимо ту страст, одржати оданост Дражиној вредности. Слично нашим очевима и дедовима.

Ја знам да ће доћи дан кад ће Михаиловићу бити одато признање и заувек право место у историји са свим почастима које је заслужио. Он је био и остаје истински војник, частан вођа, веран савезник, и најважније, поштено људско биће које није никад окренуло леђа и оскрнавило светост обавеза. То је, по свим мерилима, оно што чини човека великаном. То су врлине које генерала Михаиловића чине човеком кога бих ја била срећна да сам лично знала, човеком који не сме никад да буде заборављен.

Aleksandra Rebic

July 2006