Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Allied Debt to General Draza Mihailovich

The Three Things
That Must Be Considered in Evaluating
The Greatness of Mihailovich

By Lt. Col. Albert B. Seitz

There remains little for the physical record of Draza Mihailovic; sparkplug of resistance; abandoned Minister of War to the throne of Yugoslavia.

On April 18, 1946 a news item appeared in Il Giornale della Sera in Rome from an unidentified Yugoslav source. It reported that on 13 March, after a sustained air-ground attack, in which poison gas was used, Mihailovic had been captured with eleven living followers. They were all that remained of a force of 1020 men. He became a martyr in July.

Three things must be considered in evaluating the greatness of Mihailovich.

First - He set the example for Europe and its conquered people in resistance.

Second - He was of incalculable benefit to Russia in defeating Germany. His revolt at Ravna Gora caused Hitler to delay his time table of attack on Russia from April to June of 1941, with the result that the Germans found themselves stalled outside Moscow in the middle of the bitter Russian winter. That precious time and the subsequent siphoning of 30 sorely needed Axis divisions to keep the Yugoslavs quiet plus the lend lease from the Allies, was the saving grace of a nation whose salvation was of questionable usefulness to the world.

Third He was a bulwark to the British in their North African Campaign. With Europe occupied, the Germans were able to turn their attention to the Italian war effort in North Africa. In June 1942 Rommel and his Africa Korps in a long counter offensive against Ritchie, had captured Tobruk with 25,000 and pushed on within 70 miles of Alexandria. Auchinleck replaced Ritchie, with Cunningham and Tedder commanding sea and air components. There was no cause for British optimism as the build-up of her ground and air had been seriously influenced by her disastrous campaign in Greece which had cost her 50,000 men.

Mihailovich was asked to harass the Germans in this area and retard the flow of supplies through the Vardar Valley to Salonika. How well he did this was attested to by radio messages from Auchinleck, Cunningham and Tedder on 16 August 1942.

By October Allied reinforcements swelled the British command in North Africa sufficiently to permit Montgomery to match strength with Rommel in El Alamein. With the Allied landing in French North Africa on 8 November the Axis were through in Africa.

During this period Mihailovich suffered 20,000 casualties stopping the German supply route, and on 16 December 1942, 2500 hostages were executed by the Nazis in Belgrade.

These are debts of Britain and her Allies! To Mihailovic not Tito.


Lt. Col. Albert B. Seitz of the O.S.S. parachuted to Chetnik headquarters in September of 1943 as a member of the American military mission to Mihailovich. The preceding text is from Chapter XXXIII of Mihailovich: Hoax or Hero by Lt. Col. Seitz.

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