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. 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
May 10, 1966