Sunday, December 27, 2009


The following tribute by Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Amfilohije honoring General Draza Mihailovich was posted on "You Tube" by "MIOPOP61"

This video can be found on "You Tube' at


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



The following video of the hills of Ravna Gora, Serbia was posted on "You Tube" by "luse81"

This video is found on "You Tube" at


To get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at

Hvala Tebi Cica Drazo // "Thank You Draza"

The following tribute to General Mihailovich was posted on "You Tube" by "Kokarda".

Found on "You Tube" at


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


"Najzesce Cetnicke Pesme" // A musical photo montage of great Chetnik songs

The following tribute to Draza Mihailovich was posted on "You Tube" by wh1te0ra0.

On "You Tube" at


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


Monday, December 21, 2009

Revisiting the role of Yugoslavian ‘Chetniks’ by Colonel George Jatras, U.S.A.F.

Colonel George Jatras U.S.A.F. (Retired) and wife Stella Jatras
Serbian National Defense "Vidovdan" celebration
June 28, 2009
New Gracanica Monastery, Third Lake, IL
Photo by Aleksandra Rebic

The Washington Times

July 6, 1997, Sunday, Final Edition

Revisiting the role of Yugoslavian ‘Chetniks’

The June 21 Letter to the Editor by Mladen J. Udbinac, under the heading “Article condemning Croatia draws angry responses,” is a typical example of revising and twisting historical facts regarding the role of the Chetniks (Yugoslav nationalists) in World War II.

Mr. Udbinac also states that criticism of Croatia today is “without any sort of concrete evidence.” I would like to set the facts straight, as reported in this newspaper.

In a commentary in The Times of June 11, 1985, Milt Copulos wrote that, “Information contained in these documents [previously classified OSS files and Nazi documents] now make it clear that the leader of Yugoslavia’s nationalist forces, [Chetniks], General Draza Mihailovich, was the victim of an active campaign of subversion conducted by James Klugman, a highly placed Communist agent in British intelligence and close associate of master spy Kim Philby.”

Rather than collaborating with the Nazis as claimed by Mr. Udbinac, Serbian forces under Gen. Mihailovich were loyal to the Allies in WW II and rescued over 500 downed American pilots while at the same time Croats and Muslims were turning our airmen over to the Nazis. Due to disgracefull politics (we did not want to offend our Communist friend, Josef Tito - himself a Croat), our State Department denied the efforts by American pilots to have a monument erected to honor those brave Serbians who sacrificed their lives to rescue them. In his account of the rescue, Major Richard Felman, an American Jew from Tucson, Arizona, recalls, “I watched in horror with binoculars as the Germans executed the entire village of Serbians who refused to disclose my hideaway with Draza Mihailovich’s forces.” On June 9, 1994, The Times carried an open letter to President Clinton from Major Felman and his fellow survivors deploring the bombing in Bosnia where Americans were killing “the very Serbian people who saved our lives while at the same time helping some of the people who were shooting at us and turning us over to the Germans.”

Mr. Ubinac’s accusation of Serbian anti-Semitism is even more egregious considering Serbian families took in Jewish children as their own in order to protect them from the horrors of Croatia’s death camps. Upon being discovered protecting these children, entire Serbian families were executed.

John Ranz, Chairman of the Survivors of Buchenwald, USA writes, “In the Serbian mountains Jews were welcomed by the Serbian partisans with open arms, and the 5,000 that survived in Yugoslavia survived among the partisans. The Serbs protected them until the end of the war at the risk of endangering their own lives.”

Regarding Mr. Udbinac’s comment that criticism of Croatia today is “without any sort of evidence,” how does he explain “the photographic and autopsy evidence of 3,200 bodies, mostly elderly Serb village women, their throats cut and their faces smashed in,” as reported by Edward Pearce in The Evening Standard (London), Aug. 7, 1995? A similar fate awaited elderly Serbs who were left behind when Croatian forces, trained by retired U.S. generals (”Retired U.S. brass sell military expertise,” The Washington Times, Nov. 25, 1995) “ethnically cleansed” 200,000 Serbs from their ancestral homes in Krajina and systematically shot or cut the throats of those who remained.

Hatred of the Serbian people, as exemplified by Mr. Udbinac’s misrepresentations and distortions, has shown itself in other ways. On August 9, 1996, St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona was desecrated. The church was spray-painted with swastikas, along with the dreaded “U” for “Ustashe,” Croatia’s Nazi party. Obscene words were sprayed on the walls in the Croatian and English languages. Signs of urination were evident on the church doors. There have been similar incidents in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada. Not long afterward, there was a series of e-mail messages, which included death threats, as well as a comment about “how do you like what we did to your stinkin [sic] church.” The messages gave the origin and the name of the student from Arizona State University who sent them. Despite numerous letters, telephone calls and messages to congressmen, police, and the university president demanding that the perpetrators be found and punished, the investigation has been closed “for lack of evidence.”

Major Richard Felman and our rescued American airmen are still waiting for the United States government to show its appreciation to those who saved their lives.

Serbian Americans in Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles are still waiting for action to find and punish those responsible for cowardly “hate crimes.” No American,including those like me who are not of Serbian descent, should remain silent while a proud people, our allies in two world wars, are vilified and their churches desecrated.




To get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Sunday, December 20, 2009

WWII RESCUE IN THE HILLS OF YUGOSLAVIA - The Halyard Mission and ‘The Forgotten 500’

By Elizabeth Milanovich

For "Vidovdan"
a quarterly Serbian magazine
published in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

December 2009

More often than not, a war story is about killing and bloodshed. This is not one of those stories of death, but rather one of life. In fact, it’s about an incredible and unprecedented rescue in the hills of Yugoslavia during WWII. This is a story which should have been told long ago, but for political reasons was suppressed until recent years. It’s now told in a book authored by Gregory Freeman, ‘The Forgotten 500’. It is very aptly titled, and involves the heroics and sacrifices of Serbian villagers and Yugoslav Royalist forces led by General Dragoljub Mihajlovic (Draza Mihailovich). And, it also involves the heroics of an American, Arthur Jibilian, who introduces himself in that book as follows:

Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian at Age 20

“I am the radio operator, "Jibby" in this book. We owe a debt to Mihailovich and the Serbian people for saving so many American lives. The SERBIANS WERE THE ONLY ONES IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA THAT FED, SHELTERED, AND RISKED THEIR LIVES FOR THE AMERICANS. Mihailovich's abandonment by the Allies and subsequently being labelled a traitor was, in Winston Churchill's words, "...My greatest blunder in WWII..". I am proud of being a part of the Halyard Mission and, FINALLY, seeing the truth regarding Mihailovich's contributions in WWII being publicized. This book will go a long way in clearing his name.....and it is exciting, easy reading, and hard to put down once you start it.”

This long suppressed story is all the more interesting and significant because the events of the 1990s, which led to bloody civil-religious wars in Yugoslavia and caused her dismemberment, had origins in the WWII period 1941-1945. Both in the 1940s and 1990s, the machinations of Western countries greatly complicated and exacerbated adverse events and outcomes. And, in the 1990s, the end result was that Yugoslavia was no more.

In order to write this article I also relied on a few websites, the aforementioned book, and the helpful input of WWII hero Arthur Jibilian and other individuals familiar with WWII events in Yugoslavia.

Excerpt from the website of  the Tesla Memorial Society of New York at

The following text was taken from WTOL:

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008, at 11 a.m., at the Air National Guard facility at Toledo Express Airport, Art Jibilian of Fremont received a special Congressional award.

Mr. Jibilian played a vital role in one of the last untold stories of World War II, The Forgotten 500. In a remarkable mission, more than 500 U.S. airmen were rescued from the hills of Yugoslavia. At the time, the area was controlled by the Nazis, who were hunting for the American airmen.

Brave Serbian villagers hid the Americans, even though they faced death if they were caught. Mr. Jibilian volunteered to parachute behind enemy lines and coordinate the rescue. He helped build an airstrip in the middle of the forest. He and his team organized the villagers and the downed airmen, and brought the C-47s into the makeshift airstrip. The airmen were rescued.

Mr. Jibilian's heroism is documented in a book by Gregory Freeman: ‘The Forgotten 500’. It is a fascinating story that is all the more spectacular because it is true.

The impressive facility of the Air National Guard at Toledo Express Airport was full of people, national guardsmen, commanders of the National Guard, congressmen and senators of the State of Ohio. Many of the National Guardsmen and Congressmen spoke at the ceremony.

A Serbian delegation, who came from Cleveland, Ohio, also attended the event and was greeted warmly.

[WTOL is the CBS affiliate in Toledo, Ohio serving Northwest Ohio, Southeast Michigan, and southwest Ontario, Canada.]

On September 20th, 2009, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic was feted at a reception in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the dignitaries present at the event was Ohio Senator George Voinovich. Apparently Senator Voinovich has been a great supporter of giving General Mihailovich and the Halyard Mission their rightful place in history. Arthur Jibilian was also there, by special invitation, and met both President Tadic and Senator Voinovich and presented them with autographed copies of ‘The Forgotten 500’.

Arthur Jibilian signs a personal copy of
The Forgotten 500’ for Ohio Senator George Voinovich,
September 20 2009. Photo courtesy of Debi Jibilian.

From by Aleksandra Rebic:

Arthur Jibilian, shortly after the Tadic reception, learned that he is in full remission. Jibilian, who is 86 years old, was diagnosed with terminal leukemia in the spring of 2008 and given only a couple of months to live. Over a year later, "Jibby" is still going strong and has attended numerous events over the course of the last year honoring the Halyard Mission Rescue Operation which successfully evacuated and saved the lives of over 500 American airmen from Nazi occupied territory in WWII Yugoslavia. The operation was brilliantly executed by the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the forces of General Draza Mihailovich of Serbia. This was Jibilian's first time meeting with the President of Serbia.

The following paragraphs are excerpted from Arthur Jibilian’s biography about his introduction into the WWII theatre in Yugoslavia. In his own words:

“... 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 of 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 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 out positions.

We were forced to jettison every piece of excess equipment when the Germans sent a contingent after us. They pursued us for six nights and five days. 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 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 became very ill due to the harsh conditions.

Going back down, we finally got to a warmer elevation. We also heard of some airmen that the Serbs were hiding from the Germans. We had to go though a German ‘checkpoint’ to reach them, or take a long eight day march around the checkpoint. We decided to risk the checkpoint. We were told we could bribe the guards (Farish had $20.00 gold pieces) and they would allow us to sneak through in the dark. We got half-way through when something went terribly wrong. Flares went up and a searchlight began probing for us. I fired at the searchlight and it went out. I think everyone shot at the light, so cannot take credit for hitting it. Amid all the confusion, we all made it through safely. We picked up about a dozen airmen who had been shot down while bombing the oil fields of Ploesti. We brought them out with us.

This mission lasted only two months, but was the toughest two months, mentally and physically, in my life. We were sent to a rest camp in Naples, Italy. I had lost a lot of weight, but, being young, it didn’t take me long to regain it, especially with the relative abundance of good things to eat.

I was awarded the Silver Star for this mission and am extremely proud of it.

Shortly afterwards, Col Kraigher of the 15th Air Force, contacted OSS. He had received word that there were 50 American airmen in the area of Pranjani, Yugoslavia. These airmen were shot down while bombing the oil fields of Ploesti. Gen. Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetniks, had gathered these men, protected them, fed them, and brought them all together in one area so that the Americans could “rescue” them. The Halyard Mission, composed of Capt. George “Guv” Musulin, Lt. Mike Rajacic and Navy Radio Operator Arthur “Jibby” Jibilian, volunteered to parachute in and evacuate them. The mission would take seven to ten days, it was estimated.

In order for readers to appreciate what follows, I must digress for a moment and give a little background. When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, Gen. Mihailovich took off into the hills and waged guerilla warfare against the Germans. He was hailed as a hero by the Allies, and, when possible, supplies were dropped to aid him in his fight against the invaders. Several British missions also were dropped in to help him and gather intelligence information. One individual from OSS, Capt. George “Guv” Musulin, also parachuted into Mihailovich’s headquarters. He had no radio operator and relayed information through the British. A movie titled ‘THE FIGHTING CHETNIKS’ was made, depicting Mihailovich’s courageous fight against the Nazi invaders.

When the Germans invaded Russia, Josip Broz, better known as Marshal Tito, also organized guerillas to fight the Germans. Mihailovich welcomed him. Tito started a campaign to communize villages. Mihailovich asked him to stop, saying that they were soldiers, not politicians. “Let’s drive the Germans out of our land, and then we can worry about the type of government we want”, he told Tito. Nevertheless, Tito persisted and civil war broke out between the partisans of Marshal Tito and the Chetniks of Mihailovich. ...”

The tragic story of General Draza Mihailovich is not well and widely known in the West. It was suppressed for political reasons during the Cold War. After the fall of communism in Yugoslavia, the truth of this hero of WWII continued to be concealed by remnants of Tito’s regime and the sons and daughters of communists who came into power.

Following a staged and phony WWII trial by the victorious communists in Belgrade, Gen. Mihailovich was executed on July 17, 1946. Even today his grave has not been identified, while Tito’s splendid burial site ‘The House of Flowers’ is still fully maintained in Belgrade. In his book ‘Ally Betrayed’, David Martin wrote:

 “Ever since the fall of 1943, the Allied press had been accusing Mihailovich as a collaborator and a traitor ….It is an irony of history that Tito should have been the creation of the capitalist democracies, Great Britain and the United States.”

The facts are that General Draza Mihailovich was recognized as the first anti-fascist guerrilla in occupied Europe. His substantial contributions to the war effort were recognized and are the subject of tributes by Generals Eisenhower and DeGaulle, by three top ranking British officers, Harwood, Tedder, and Auchinleck, and by many others. In late 1942, the British officers jointly sent the following wire to Gen. Mihailovich, "With admiration we are following your directed operations which are of inestimable value to the Allied cause." In 1948, President Truman posthumously decorated Gen. Draza Mihailovich with the highest USA decoration for a foreigner, the Legion of Merit. The decoration was kept secret for many years.

Arthur Jibilian, in his own words, about Gen. Draza Mihailovich:

“Gen Mihailovich was a great and, yet, simple man. He was very approachable, had a delightful sense of humor and loved his country passionately. We begged him to come out with us but he said, 'I am a soldier, this is my country. I was born here, will fight here and die here.’

OSS personnel and Allied airmen wanted to testify at Mihailovich’s trial, but Tito refused to give permission. Had we been permitted to testify, the truth of Mihailovich’s deeds would have come out.”

More excerpts from the final paragraphs of Arthur Jibilian’s biography:

“... The Allies now had to justify their abandonment of Mihailovich. They did this by simply stating that he was a collaborator and would no longer support him. All aid was given to the Partisans of Marshal Tito, who used the guns and ammunitions against Mihailovich more often than against the Germans. With their superior weapons and firepower, the Partisan kept the Chetniks on the run, even though the majority of the Serbian people supported Mihailovich. All Air force personnel were told that, if shot down over Yugoslavia, they were to seek out the Partisans of Marshal Tito, as the Chetniks would cut off their ears and turn them over to the Germans.

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.

We found not 50 Americans, but 250! 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”.

On August 10, the C-47s escorted by P-51 Mustangs and P-38 lightning fighters, arrived. While the fighters strafed Cacak, the C-47s landed, were loaded, and departed quickly.

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 10 day mission, lasted almost six months, during which we evacuated 513 Shot down American airmen, and “several” British, French and Italians.

The Ranger mission was also evacuated, leaving Capt. Nick Lalich and me as the sole mission in Mihailovich territory. We stayed until Dec. 27, 1944.

Gen. Draza Mihailovich standing with his hand over his heart
in the middle row, with Serbs and American airmen.
 Nick Lalich is to Draza's right and
Arthur Jibilian is in the front row between them. December 1944.

After a quick physical, a long, hot shower, I collapsed into a bed. The next morning, I had a hearty breakfast. 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.

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 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.

The “ten day mission” stretched to almost six months, and the rescuing of 513 Americans will live forever in my memory.

We followed the Fifth Army’s advance up the “boot” until my orders came to return to the States. OSS returned me to the Navy and I was discharged in September 1945.

I obtained employment with the VA in Washington, DC. Reading the 'Washington Post' one morning, I came across a small article on the front page: 'Tito’s forces capture Mihailovich'. I was stunned and shook up. 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. They 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 only:

l. To let the rescued airmen testify at his trial;

2. To allow OSS personnel to testify at his trial;

3. To 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'.

This is the truth. The story of a hero and martyr.”

To sum up, from the Tesla Memorial Society website:

“... ‘THE FORGOTTEN 500’ is one of the greatest rescue and escape stories ever, but hardly anyone has heard about it. And that's by design. The U.S., British, and Yugoslav governments hid details of this story for decades, purposefully denying credit to the heroic rescuers and the foreign ally who gave his life to help allied airmen as they were hunted down by Nazis in the hills of Yugoslavia. ...”

Sixty years later:

In September 2004, Arthur Jibilian received an invitation from the Serbian government to participate in the dedication of a memorial plaque in Pranjani, the site of the first evacuation of 250 airmen. Arthur Jibilian and George Vuynovich, representing the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), were there. Of the WWII rescued pilots, only Clare Musgrove and Bob Wilson were able to attend. 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.

Ohio Congressman Robert Latta has introduced a Bill recommending that Arthur Jibilian receive the U.S. military’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Such recognition is most deservedly merited after so many years of politically induced silence. An excerpt from Julia Gorin’s website, August 9, 2009:

“... Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) has introduced a Bill to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Arthur Jibilian for risking his life to rescue downed U.S. airmen in German-occupied Serbia in 1944.

As usual, only the local TV station WTOL in Ohio has carried this story of national and international proportion.

However, about a week ago there was a huge breakthrough when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran the most extensive bit of history to ever see mainstream print on this subject. ...”

The entire article may be read on Julia Gorin’s website at

For the past while, Mr. Jibilian has been showered with an assortment of richly deserved tributes.

Now, ‘Jibby’ awaits receiving the really big one, the Medal of Honor.

[ My thanks to Aleksandra Rebic, Milana Bizic, the Tesla Memorial Society, and Julia Gorin for the wealth of information on the internet, from which I was also able to extract information for my article. Many thanks to Gregory Freeman for writing a great book, without which I probably would not have written this article. I’m most grateful to Michael Djordjevich for sending me a copy of ‘The Forgotten 500’, and for supplying me with some valuable information. Of course, I’m especially grateful to Arthur Jibilian and his daughter Debbie for their very helpful advice and for sending me his biographical information. My apologies for any pertinent information which may have been omitted inadvertently due to space limitations.]

Elizabeth Milanovich


Aleksandra's Note:

My thanks to Elizabeth "Liz" Milanovich for sharing her story for "Vidovdan" with me and for her good work on behalf of making the truth about Mihailovich known. She is a pleasure to work with.

Elizabeth is of Serbian background, born in Canada. She has always had a keen interest in history, world events and current affairs, with a special interest in the homeland of her parents. She learned to speak Serbian at an early age, and perfected it somewhat over the years. However, she says, she's not fluent in Serbian, but considers herself quite fluent in English. She contributes articles in English to a Serbian magazine, 'Vidovdan', published quarterly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Elizabeth has traveled often to the former Yugoslavia, during and after the Tito era. She believes that many Serbs lost their way during that godless era, which set the Serbs back immensely. For decades their religion and traditions were neglected. As well, she feels it remains very sad how WWII hero Gen. Draza Mihailovich has been so mistreated.

In 2004 Elizabeth had the opportunity to visit Kosovo. She returned again in the autumn of 2008, and was able to see a wide swath of Kosovo. Suffice it to say, she says, those were bittersweet visits.


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


Saturday, December 12, 2009

World War II hero Arthur Jibilian Receives the "Rufus Putnam Award"

The following story about Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian, OSS Radioman of the Halyard Mission Rescue Operation, was published in the November/December 2009 issue of BEACON, "A Joint Publication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio and the Ohio Masonic Home."

Congratulations on winning the "Rufus Putnam Award" Arthur - yet another in a long list of well deserved recognitions of your contributions!

A. Rebic

"Arthur Jibilian was presented the Rufus Putnam Distinguished Service Award at the Grand Lodge Annual Communication in October [2009].

The award is the highest honor presented annually by the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

Brother Jibilian, a member of Brainard Lodge #336 in Green Springs, was born in Cleveland in 1923 and raised in Toledo.

When he was 19 in 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He was trained as a “Radio man.” While in boot camp, an officer from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) arrived, looking for recruits. Even after learning of the extreme dangers of possible assignments, Jibilian volunteered.

In March, 1944, Jibilian and two others parachuted behind enemy lines into Yugoslavia to rescue stranded airmen, whose planes had been shot down.

The Germans were relentless in searching for the airmen and the team trying to rescue them. Serbian peasants concealed the airmen and aided the rescuers. The mission lasted almost two months, and about a dozen airmen were successfully evacuated by the effort. Jibilian was awarded the Silver Star for his participation.

While on the first mission, Jibilian and his team learned of many other airmen in the area. A new mission, named Halyard, was planned to rescue more airmen. Again, a three-man team, with Brother Jibilian as radio man, parachuted behind enemy lines. The planned 10-day mission actually lasted about 6 months, as Jibilian and his associates, under adverse and dangerous situations, organized wave after wave of evacuation groups, and, when the effort finally ended, they had successfully rescued 513 American airmen and several British, French, and Italians.

Because of the secret nature of the mission, Jibilian’s heroic exploits were not revealed until many years later. A book, The Forgotten 500, by Gregory A. Freeman, was published a few years ago and tells the story in detail. This year, our hero has been nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

Arthur Jibilian became a Master Mason in June, 1952, in Fort Industry Lodge #630 in Toledo, and subsequently affiliated with Brainard Lodge. He now lives in Fremont. At 86 years old, he has been a Master Mason for 54 years.

According to Grand Master Murphy,

'Brother Arthur Jibilian at a youthful 19 years old displayed high levels of bravery and service to his country. He was a genuine World War II hero. He practiced the Masonic virtues of brotherly love, relief, and truth, even before he was a Mason and is, indeed, a deserving recipient of the highest and most honorable award of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.'"


Aleksandra's note:

The following description of Rufus Putnam  was found at the "Ohio History Central" website //

"Rufus Putnam was a soldier and early settler of Ohio after the American Revolution.

Putnam was on April 9, 1738, in Sutton, Massachusetts. His father died when Putnam was seven and his mother apprenticed him to a millwright. In 1757, he fought for the British in the French and Indian War. When the war was over, Putnam returned home where he became a farmer and a miller. He also lobbied the English government to provide veterans of the French and Indian War with land bounties along the Mississippi River. Fearing conflicts between its colonists and the Native Americans residing west of the Appalachian Mountains, England issued the Proclamation of 1763. It prohibited any of England's colonists from living west of the mountains. The English government denied Putnam's request.

At the start of the American Revolution, Putnam enlisted in the Continental Army. Early in the conflict, he helped prepare earthworks and other defensive features for the Americans surrounding English soldiers in Boston, Massachusetts. He also assisted George Washington in preparing New York's defenses. He spent the remainder of the war in upstate New York and fought in the Battle of Saratoga. He began the war as a lieutenant colonel and by its conclusion had risen to the rank of brigadier-general.

Throughout the conflict, Putnam served as an advocate for junior officers and enlisted men. America's first government, created by the Articles of Confederation, had limited powers and faced tremendous difficulty meeting its expenses. This included paying the men in its army. The Confederation Congress promised to give these men land grants in the Ohio Country, but the Congress was slow to act. In 1783, Putnam helped draft the Newburgh Petition. In this document, many of the officers in the Continental Army demanded payment immediately in land grants or they would even contemplate replacing their government. General George Washington was able to prevent an uprising.

Following the American Revolution, Putnam engaged in real estate investment. He served as a surveyor for the Confederation Congress and used the knowledge he received while surveying to make land purchases. In 1786, a group of men from Massachusetts, including Putnam and Benjamin Tupper, founded the Ohio Company of Associates. Winthrop Sargent became the secretary of the venture. The company planned to purchase land in the Northwest Territory west of the Seven Ranges. Both Putnam and Tupper had participated in survey expeditions led by Thomas Hutchins and believed that the region had great potential.

The company first chose Samuel Holden Parsons to represent their interests before the American government. When he was unsuccessful in his mission, the company replaced him with the Reverend Manasseh Cutler. Cutler worked with Treasury Secretary William Duer and president of the Congress Arthur St. Clair to negotiate an arrangement for the purchase of the land. The Ohio Company purchased 1,500,000 acres of land, agreeing to pay $500,000 immediately and another $500,000 payment once survey work was finished.

Congress allowed the company to pay for part of the land using military warrants. This created a very favorable arrangement for the investors. In the end, they paid about eight and one-half cents per acre. In order to encourage settlement of the region and create a buffer zone between white settlements and Native Americans, Congress also gave the Ohio Company 100,000 acres. This land came to be known as the Donation Tract. In the tract, any adult white male would obtain one hundred acres of free land. Although the survey pattern was somewhat different from that of the Seven Ranges, Ohio Company investors were required to set aside land in each township for education and religion as well as three sections for future government purposes. In addition, two townships were set aside for a university.

Putnam established the first Ohio Company settlement on the banks of the Ohio River. Known originally as Adelphia, the community soon became known as Marietta. To protect the settlement from Native American attacks, the settlers built a fortification known as the Campus Martius. Many of the early settlers of Ohio Company lands came from New England. They tried to establish similar institutions and communities to those they had left in the East. In 1808, the company established Ohio University on the land set aside for that purpose. In its early years the university only offered the equivalent of a high school education and enrollment remained low for a number of years. The settlers of Marietta had greater success once the Native American threat was reduced with the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. The population continued to grow in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The New England settlers often disagreed with frontier settlers coming from Virginia and Kentucky who had different visions for the region.

Putnam emerged as an important political leader in the Northwest Territory. President Washington appointed Putnam to a judgeship in 1790. He also served as a brigadier-general in the United States Army during this same time period. In 1796, Putnam became the surveyor-general of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson removed him from the position. Putnam continued to play an important role in territorial government and participated in the constitutional convention of 1802. Putnam favored the Federalist Party and did succeed in preventing slavery from becoming legal in Ohio. Putnam died on May 4, 1824, in Marietta."

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

General Draza Mihailovich Awaits the Verdict // Carl Savich on the Mihailovich Trial Coverage in LIFE Magazine July 15, 1946

By Carl Savich

In the July 15, 1946 issue, LIFE magazine reported on the Draza Mihailovich trial in an article entitled “Mihailovich Awaits the Verdict”. LIFE photographer John Phillips took pictures of Draza Mihailovich before the Communist military court, smoking a pipe, drinking a bottle of beer, and lying in his bed in his cell reading a book. In a photo essay entitled “Mihailovich: Chetnik leader fights for his life before open Yugoslav court-martial”, Phillips also photographed a military guard, wearing a cap with the Communist and Soviet red star with a hammer and sickle, bringing lunch to Mihailovich, consisting of ham, mashed potatoes, and cucumbers with bread. LIFE reported that Mihailovich was wearing “GI trousers” and had read 50 books, including Sinclair Lewis’ 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Arrowsmith". The photographs showed Mihailovich stoic, calm, and resolute.

LIFE photographer John Phillips was a Tito confidante who had photographed Tito since 1944 when he joined him and his Communist Partisan forces. Phillips had photographed Tito and the Communist leadership in Belgrade in February, 1945 for LIFE magazine, with a photo in a Belgrade “Government” office showing a massive photograph of Joseph Stalin on the wall, higher and larger than the photos of Winston Churchill, FDR, and even Tito himself. It was, in fact, the Russian Red Army that had put Tito and the Communist Partisans in power when Russian troops took the city on October 20, 1944 after German troops withdrew. Tito had awarded a Medal of Merit to Phillips. Phillips later assembled a book in 1983, "Yugoslav Story", published by the Yugoslav government, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Communist regime.

The so-called trial was a Communist show trial based on the model of the Stalinist show trials of the late 1930s. The proceedings were a travesty of justice and represented “victor’s justice”, or a vindictive revenge against a foe. The trial violated fundamental principles of justice, fairness, and due process. Mihailovich was not allowed to present witnesses in his behalf because the military court refused to allow U.S. and British airmen and witnesses to testify in his behalf. He was not allowed to confront and to cross-examine his accusers. The prosecutor read statements against him which Mihailovich could not rebut or disprove because the witnesses were not produced by the military prosecutors. The Yugoslav Communist regime, allied and supported by the Soviet Union, rejected the diplomatic interventions by the governments of the U.S. and Britain on Mihailovich’s behalf. It was not possible for him to receive a fair trial because Communist leader Josip Broz Tito had already pronounced, even before the trial began, that Mihailovich was guilty: “His crimes are far too big and horrible to permit discussion of whether he is guilty or not.” Mihailovich was “guilty until proven innocent”. The trial was merely a sham and pretense, a judicial or legalized lynching and murder. This was an instance of “victor’s justice”. The only “crime” that Mihailovich was guilty of was that he opposed the Communist and Stalinist dictatorship which Tito imposed on Yugoslavia. At that time, Tito and the Yugoslav Communist regime were allied to and supported by Jospeh Stalin and the Soviet Union.

It was in fact the Russian Red Army that had put the Communist regime in power in Belgrade in October, 1944 when Soviet troops advanced on the city. German forces withdrew, allowing the Soviet Army to install Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito. Yugoslav Communist propaganda falsified history by claiming that it was the Yugoslav Communist Partisans who had driven the German troops out. The Russian troops only provided assistance. This outrageous falsification and phony picture was stage-managed and meticulously manufactured by Communist historians who followed the Communist Party line. It was a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. In fact, the Soviet “liberation” of Belgrade was not much different from the similar Red Army liberations of Warsaw, Bucharest, Budapest, Sofia, Prague, Vienna, and Berlin. In the case with Belgrade, much work was done behind the scenes to make it look like it was the Communist Partisans who were freeing the city from the German troops. This sham was produced to give added legitimacy to the Communsit Partisans and to bolster the Communist dictatorship of Josip Broz Tito, a hardcore Stalinist and Communist. The falsification was needed to create the false impression that it was Tito and the Partisans who had “liberated” Belgrade, and not the Russian Red Army, not by Soviet troops under General Fyodor Tolbukhin, and not by Soviet military forces commanded by Joseph Stalin. It was a classic case of how the Communist dictatorship falsified history and made up events in order to rationalize and to justify a Communist dictatorship, a dictatorship installed and put in power by Soviet troops, by Joseph Stalin.

The Soviet Red Army enters Belgrade,
forcing German troops to retreat.
Yugoslav Communist propaganda falsely claimed
that it was Communist Partisan troops that had taken the city.

Draza Mihailovich first appeared in LIFE magazine on November 24, 1941 in the article “LIFE ’s Reports: ‘Invisible War’ in Yugoslavia” by Harry Zinder and George Maranz in which it was revealed that he was the leader of the Yugoslav resistance in Yugoslavia: “The leader of the invisible Serbian army is Colonel Draja Mihailovich.” In the April 2, 1941 issue “LIFE on the Newsfronts of the World: Hitler Launches his Balkan Offensive against Yugoslavia, Greece and the British Army”, LIFE had reported on the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia and featured a photograph of Ruth Mitchell, who was a supporter of the Chetnik guerrillas. In the article “For the Record: Hangings in Yugoslavia”, LIFE described the guerrillas as “”Chetniks,” a far-flung organization of patriotic Serbs who are sworn to die rather than surrender to their conquerors.” In the November 3, 1941 issue of LIFE, it was reported that the Chetnik guerrillas were engaged in a resistance movement against the Axis forces in German-occupied Yugoslavia: “In Yugoslavia a bloody little war was raging between Chetnik guerrillas and their conquerors.” In the June 10, 1946 issue of LIFE, the magazine reported on the efforts made by U.S. veterans, airmen and OSS members, to gather U.S. support for Mihailovich and to testify at his trial in the story “LIFE’s Reports: Fight for Mihailovich: U.S. Airmen Try to Help Accused Chetnik Leader” by Jeanne Perkins. Excerpts from letters from U.S. airmen rescued by Mihailovich from Axis troops were featured: “Our lives were safeguarded by the Chetniks; we were constantly on the move…. The Chetniks rescued me and my crew from the Germans.” In the August 2, 1948 Letters to the Editor section of LIFE, Robert H. Anderson of Buffalo, New York wrote to correct the historical record on Draza Mihailovich:

 "The Chetniks, led by General Mihailovich, did most of the actual fighting in Serbia against the Axis.”

Anderson cited the book Ally Betrayed by David Martin.

Russian troops on a Soviet T-34 tank enter Belgrade,
October 20, 1944,
 forcing the German troops to withdraw to the northwest.
The Red Army was greeted as “liberators”.

In Undercover: The Men and Women of the Special Operations Executive by Patrick Howarth published in 1980 by Routledge in London, Howarth emphazied on pages 78-79 that Tito was a Stalinist and Communist under the direct control of Joseph Stalin:

Tito was a Moscow-trained revolutionay, who had been imprisoned for subversive activities in pre-war Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Communist party had been declared illegal, and at the beginning of the Second World War it had only about 8,000 members. Of these Tito, as Secretary-General, was by far the most influential. Among his tasks had been to find recruits for the Spanish Civil War, and as a result he was provided with a trained elite of guerrilla fighters for his later campaigns.

Tito regarded himself as being wholly under Stalin’s orders, and when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 he waited for instructions. ‘For once, ‘ as Djilas was to write later, ‘Moscow did not delay,’ and Tito began to build up, with exemplary speed and efficiency, a guerrilla force. This force was at all times under communist control, but it was wisely described at first, largely for recruiting purposes, as the National Liberation Partisan Detachments, to be foreshortened after a time to the single word “Partisans’. …

As a revolutionary Tito had no interest in preserving property or the existing social order. … In so far as they served to arouse the anger of the population against the occupation forces Tito rather welcomed enemy reprisals.”

The judicial murder of Mihailovich allowed the Communist dictatorship of Tito to consolidate its power and to take control of Yugoslavia and impose a Communist and Stalinist totalitarian regime.

The cover of the July 15, 1946 issue of LIFE magazine,
with the cover title WELDED WATER GADGETS,
which featured a story on the Draza Mihailovich trial in Belgrade.

The table of contents page featuring “THE WEEK’S EVENTS” story
Mihailovich Awaits the Verdict” on pages 32 and 33.

The original 1946 LIFE magazine caption:
“ON THE WITNESS STAND Mihailovich sits facing
the three Army judges on the dais who will sentence him.
 Two majors, serving as alternate judges, are at far left and the
court secretary is ar far right.
Two Serbs who testified in Mihailovich’s behalf,
 were booed by spectators, many of whom bore wounds
 which Chetnik fighters had inflicted.”

LIFE Captions: “IN HIS CELL he relaxes in his GI trousers,
 smokes and reads one of 50 books, including Arrowsmith, that he has
 finished since his capture in March."

"Below: A 14-year-old boy, displaying Tito medals, cries on the steps
of the courthouse after the judges had made him leave because
he was too young to listen to the evidence about atrocities.”

LIFE Caption Photo Above: “LUNCH of bread, ham, mashed potatoes
and cucumbers is brought to Mihailovich. He may order what he wants.”

LIFE Caption Photo Above:
“DRAZA MIHAILOVICH calmly smokes his pipe and peers from
 behind his thick glasses and wiry beard during his trial in Belgrade.
 These pictures, showing him alert and well, were taken
 by LIFE Photographer John Phillips. They tend to disprove the rumor
that he had been doped with mascaline, a Balkan drug,
to make him admit guilt.”


Aleksandra's Note:

"Macaline", also known as "Mescaline", is a tryptamine - ( a psychedelic acid that causes hallucinations), and it is my firm belief that General Mihailovich was indeed doped with 
mascaline while in the communist prison in Belgrade and that this "rumor" is absolutely true. The Yugo communists were not able to make their case against Mihailovich on any valid or truthful grounds, so they used one of the methods available to them to manufacture "guilt" in the man they fully intended to "find guilty and execute" before the phony trial ever began. 

The LIFE Magazine article "Mihailovich Awaits the Verdict" was published in the July 15, 1946 issue. General Mihailovich was executed by a communist firing squad on July 17, 1946.

Thanks to Carl Savich for the splendid job he always does in his illuminating commentaries.


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


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The Chetniks" by George Sava

Aleksandra's Note:

The following is a terrific book review and commentary on George Sava's "The Chetniks"  by Carl Savich, who captures the true spirit of what this story conveys.

To all the old Chetniks, the true blue freedom fighters who continue to carry the Chetnik spirit in their hearts and have passed it along to their children and grandchildren who look upon them as real heroes, I extend best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving 2009. Those of us who came after you, and who have had the privilege to meet you and know you, will be forever grateful that you survived the war to tell us your stories so that we may know and appreciate who General Draza Mihailovich and his people were and why they deserve to be remembered and honored.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for fighting the good fight. And thank you for carrying the torch of the noble cause all these years.

You make me proud to be Serbian.


Aleksandra Rebic

David Damjanovich, Vice President of
The Movement of Serbian Chetniks Ravne Gore, speaks
to the audience at the Serbian National Defense "Vidovdan"
celebration at New Gracanica Monastery, Third Lake, IL
June 28, 2009
Photo by A. Rebic


Guerrilla Supermen: World War II Novels on Draza Mihailovich and the Chetniks

A series of Book Reviews by Carl Savich

The guerrilla movement of Yugoslav resistance leader Draza Mihailovich in German-occupied Yugoslavia created an unprecedented sensation in the United States and Great Britain during World War II. Five major novels were published in 1942 and 1943 on Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas. In November, 1942, "The Chetniks" by George Sava was published in Great Britain by Faber and Faber.

The Chetniks by George Sava. London: Faber and Faber, Ltd. 24 Russell Square, 1942. 260 pages with black and white photographs and a map. Reprint: Regular Publication, London, 1955.


Book Review by Carl Savich

The guerrilla movement of Draza Mihailovich in German-occupied Yugoslavia created an unprecedented sensation in the United States and Great Britain during World War II. Mihailovich was unique in that he led a resistance movement against Adolf Hitler at a time when the rest of Europe had surrendered. He became a lightning rod in the U.S. and the UK and galvanized resistance to Hitler. One reason for this acclaim was that the U.S. needed a stimulus or a spark. After years of neutrality and “isolationism” and indifference, the U.S. was forced reluctantly into World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941. While U.S. interests were hostile and opposed to those of the Axis, the U.S. public, nevertheless, opposed entry into the war because U.S. interests were not directly involved.

A malaise and apathy had developed in the U.S. where life went on as if nothing had happened when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The U.S. public needed a symbol and an example of a firebrand, of a resistance leader who was defiant, dynamic, and active, a fighter. Draza Mihailovich fit the bill. He was elevated to superhero and comic-book status in the U.S., where he and his exploits assumed mythic and legendary proportions and his guerrillas were likened to invincible supermen. He was featured in magazines, comic books, movies, and novels. Five major novels were published in 1942 and 1943: The Chetniks by George Sava, The Ragged Guard, A Tale of 1941 by Paul Tabori, and The Valley of Fear (republished as The Perilous Country) by John Creasey in Great Britain, Sergeant Nikola: A Novel of the Chetnik Brigades (also published in Argentina in 1943 in a Spanish translation as El Sargento Nicolas: La Novela de los Guerrilleros Yugoslavos) by Istvan Tamas and The Wrath of the Eagles: A Novel of the Chetniks by Frederick Heydenau in the United States.

The cover of the 1955 reprint edition of The Chetniks by George Sava
 published as “A Regular Publication” in London.

One of the first major novels written during World War II to appear on Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas was the eponymous "The Chetniks" by George Sava, first published in November, 1942 by Faber and Faber in London, in the United Kingdom. The original edition featured a photograph of “General Mihailovich” on the frontispiece. The book was a continuation of the 1940 book "Donkey Serenade: Travels in Bulgaria". Sava combined a travelogue with an adventure novel. It was reprinted in 1955 in London as a Regular Publication. The reprint cover had the following description: “General Mihailovich, the famous guerrilla leader and the story of the heroic struggle of these guerrillas is told in the pages of this book.

Draza Mihailovich and his Chetnik guerrilla forces represented the antithesis to the foreign policy pursued by Great Britain in the 1930s termed “appeasement”. British appeasement culminated in the 1938 Munich Agreement which allowed Adolf Hitler to annex the Sudetenland and to eventually occupy all of Czechoslovakia. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain described the abandonment of Czechoslovakia on September 30, 1938 as “peace for our time” and he characterized the Munich Agreement as an example of “peace with honour”:

My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. … And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds.” The first time that Chamberlain referred to was on July 18, 1878, when Benjamin Disraeli characterized the Berlin Conference ending the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, which was an escalation of the Serbian insurgency in Bosnia-Hercegovina and the subsequent war between Serbia and Montenegro against Turkey, as “a peace … with honour”: “Lord Salisbury and myself have brought you back peace—but a peace I hope with honour.”

The failure of the Treaty of Berlin resulted in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and World War I.

The cover of the 1942 first edition with the alternate title of
 “The Chetniks of Yugoslavia

George Sava (1903-1996), a British author who was a surgeon and medical doctor by training, had written The Healing Knife: A Surgeon’s Destiny (1938), They Stayed in London (1941), Valley of Forgotten People (1941), A Tale of Ten Cities (1942), School for War (1942), Peace in Nobody’s Time (1943), Russia Triumphant: The Story of the Russian People (1943), Twice the Clock Round: One Day of a Surgeon’s Life (1948), One Russian’s Story (1970), The Years of the Healing Knife: A Surgeon’s Autobiography (1976), and approximately 120 other books. He was born George Alexis Milkomanov or Milkomanovich Milkomane on October 15, 1903 from a Russian and Bulgarian background and died on March 15, 1996. He wrote approximately 120 books under the pseudonyms George Sava, George Bankoff, George Borodin, George Braddon, Peter Conway, and Alec Redwood.

"The Chetniks" was reviewed in The War Illustrated, Volume 6, No. 146, page 499, in the January 22, 1943 issue by war correspondent Hamilton Fyfe in the Views and Reviews section, in the review “The Chetniks of Yugoslavia”. Fyfe emphasized that Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas understood the tactics and strategy for conducting a guerrilla war better than German commanders: “‘Irregulars’ though they are, these Yugoslavs know more about the sort of warfare that is going on in the region between their country and Montenegro, Albania and Greece, than any of the scientifically-trained German staff officers. Mihailovich had a training of that kind himself.” Mihailovich had given lectures on guerrilla warfare before the war at the Belgrade military academy. Mihailovich advocated guerrilla warfare as the best suited for the terrain, size, and resources of Yugoslavia. Fyfe concluded that Mihailovich was leading “boldly and cleverly” the guerrillas under his command, who were “brave men who are fighting for their country’s independence and freedom”, who “are showing the Germans what the spirit of Yugoslavia is.

Sava described the structure and the sources for the novel in his preface:

The names of friends I have re-christened. I have altered dates and changed the names of places. This much is fiction: the rest is fact. The subsequent exploits of the guerrillas, the Chetniks, I have reconstructed from letters and reports. But I have a story to tell and I shall not delay in the telling.

The frontispiece of the first edition of The Chetniks published
in November, 1942 in London by Faber and Faber contained
 a photograph of “General Mihailovich”.

There was a wartime paper shortage in Britain so paper had to be regulated. On January 1, 1942, the voluntary Book Production War Economy Agreement went into effect which stipulated a minimum number of words per page, placed limits on the quality of the materials used in production, and streamlined book design by eliminating chapter and cross headings, wide margins, heavy paper, bindings, and large type. The standards applied to all publications over 64 pages in length, while poetry collections, children’s books, and technical treatises and manuals were excluded. The Chetniks contained the following acknowledgement under a lion logo: “Book Production War Economy Standard. This book is produced in complete conformity with the authorized economy standards.” This meant that the type was smaller and the paper was of lower grade.

"The Chetniks" was rushed into publication in November, 1942 as a wartime novel. The text contained several typographical errors or errata with several key dates that were transposed: “1839” should be “1389”; “1341” should be “1431”; “Jadodin” should be “Jagodin”. Moreover, Sava confused celnik with Chetnik, describing Radic Postupovic as a Chetnik and referred to Milosh Obilic by the Turkish form of his name, Kobilic. Nevertheless, Sava manages to encapsulate the entire history of Serbia and Montenegro and to highlight the most significant and salient historical events and milestones.

Sava began his account by detailing the trip he made in February, 1939 to Belgrade, “The White City”, traveling by automobile: “The same spirit that took me and a donkey on my travels through Bulgaria seized me to explore parts of Jugoslavia in the early spring of 1939.

He described Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1939:

 “Who calls the Danube blue is an infernal liar. Anyway, the Danube that flows by Belgrade city is not blue. … But Belgrade … Belgrade is white. … Chromium still thrilled the people in 1939. It was sky-scraper conscious. The centre hid its untidy spots in a maze of new buildings, government edifices and hotels. … But Belgrade is really an old city.

The book consists of two parts. The first part, narrated by George Sava, details his 1939 trip to Yugoslavia where he meets and travels with Kristo. The second part of the book, narrated by Kristo, takes place during the period before the German invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, the subsequent occupation, and the emergence of the Chetnik guerrilla movement in Serbia. The main character of the novel is Kristo, who emerges as a Chetnik guerrilla leader. Sava tells the story of Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas through him.

A map showing George Sava’s trek across Yugoslavia in 1939.

George Sava spent three months in Yugoslavia in 1939 after his arrival in February. He traveled from Belgrade to Kriva Palanka near the Bulgarian border in Macedonia, then to Skopska Tserna Gora in Skopje, “the Black Mountains of Skoplje”, then to Grachanica in Kosovo and the site where the 1389 battle was fought, “the Plain of Blackbirds”, then to Pec (which he calls Perch) in Metohija, then finally to Montenegro, going to the capital, Cetinje.

What explains the Serbian history of resistance and independence? From what sources did the Chetnik guerrilla movement of Draza Mihailovich spring? Was it sui generis or did it have antecedents and roots? What was its origin, historically, psychologically, and culturally? Why did Serbia resist and defy Adolf Hitler when the rest of Europe surrendered and capitulated? Sava seeks to find the origins for the history and culture of resistance in Serbian history, in Kosovo.

In Part One, Chapter VIII, “The Plain of Blackbirds”, Sava described his visit to Kosovo with Kristo:

Rarely have I been more conscious of the presence of history than when I and my two companions reached the small white church at Grachanitsa, on the very limit of the Field of Kossovo. Before us stretched an endless plain, hummocked, green with waving grass and a deep blue dome of a sky covering the lowland; cloudless and yet so solemn that for a while even the sun seemed cold.

To Kristo it was holy ground.

‘This is the field of blackbirds, the sad plain of Kossovo, where in 1839 [1389]’—he spoke as if it were yesterday—‘the whole of our civilization collapsed. Here on the very grass you tread, the destiny of the Balkans was decided. Many men lie buried here. This was our Waterloo. This one battle created those conditions from which we suffer even to this day: our disunity, our animosities. Do you wonder when we sing?:

'On the plains of Kossovo, on the fields of Kossovo

They are fighting, they are fighting,

The kings and the princes, on the Kossovo field.

They are fighting, they have fallen

The kings and the princes

On the fields of Kossovo, on the plains of Kossovo.'

I listened with reverence as Kristo sang the ancient melody which every child learns as soon as he can speak. I had heard it often. Never had it sounded so poignant as it did that day, as I stood on the very site of that terrible defeat, when Tsar Lazar and his knights fell before the better armed hordes of the Osmanli Turks. I thought of Europe, of Czechoslovakia, and wondered whether history ever taught its lesson to the sons of men, or whether they would eternally blunder, hoping to compromise, to escape the inevitable slavery which comes to the timorous and the weak.

“‘We at least stood our ground and fought like men,’ said Kristo, breaking into my thoughts. ‘The Czechs would have done no less if the Powers that be had let them. We had our appeasers too, even our quislings in the days of Kossovo, but our eyes had looked too long on freedom. We preferred to die rather than surrender.’”


The first page of Part One, Chapter I, “The White City”.

In Chapter IX, “Dushan the Mighty”, on pages 95-96, Kristo recounts a Kosovo ballad, from the medieval Kosovo Cycle, epic Serbian poetry recounting the battle of Kosovo in 1389.

’Lazar was praying,’ said Kristo. ‘Lazar was busily praying. His men were about to build a church. Don’t you know our famous ballad?

'There flies a grey bird, a falcon

From Jerusalem the holy,

And in his beak he bears a swallow.

That is no falcon, no grey bird

But it is the Saint Elijah.

He carries no swallow

But a book from the Mother of God.

He comes to the Tsar at Kossovo

He lays the book on the Tsar’s knees,

His book without like told the Tsar:

“Tsar Lazar of honourable stock,

Of what type will you have your kingdom?

Do you want a heavenly kingdom?

Do you want an earthly kingdom?”

If you want an earthly kingdom

Saddle your horses, tighten your horses’ girths

Gird on your swords

Then put an end to the Turkish attacks

And drive out every Turkish soldier.

But if you want a heavenly kingdom

Build you a church on Kossovo.

Build it not with a floor of marble

But lay down silk and scarlet on the ground.

Give the Eucharist and battle orders to your soldiers,

For all your soldiers shall be destroyed

And you, prince, you shall be destroyed with them.”

When the Tsar read the words

The Tsar pondered, and he pondered thus:

“Dear God, where are these things, and how are they!

What kingdom shall I choose?

Shall I choose a heavenly kingdom?

Shall I choose an earthly kingdom?

If I choose an earthly kingdom

An earthly kingdom lasts only a little time

But a heavenly kingdom will last for eternity and its centuries!”

The Tsar chose a heavenly kingdom

And not an earthly kingdom.

He built a church on Kossovo.

He built it not with floor of marble

But laid down silk and scarlet on the ground.

There he summoned the Serbian Patriarch

And twelve great bishops.

Then he gave his soldiers the Eucharist and their battle orders.

In the same hour as the prince gave orders to his soldiers

The Turks attacked Kossovo.'

"'So you see, our Tsar preferred a heavenly crown rather than an earthly one. He chose to go to heaven with his seventy thousand men,’ concluded Kristo."

Very altruistic of him! I said. But which would you have chosen?”

For 523 years after Lazar’s defeat at Kosovo, Kosovo remained part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. In 1912, however, the Ottoman Turks were defeated by the Serbian army and Kosovo again became part of Serbia. It took over half a millennium for the defeat to be turned into a victory. It was the endurance and faith of a people defeated but unconquered and unvanquished which endured and which led to ultimate national revival and resurgence.

In Chapter X, “Kristo’s Native Land”, Sava and Kristo reach Montenegro where Kristo will marry Dobrussa. Kristo exclaimed upon his arrival in Montenegro: “’The mountains, the mountains. … This is the real Serbia,’ he exclaimed, ‘the Serbia of freedom.’” In Chapter XI, “Freedom’s Acre”, he discussed the history of Montenegro where Serbs were able to successfully resist the incursions of the Ottoman Muslim Turks. Montenegro remained an unconquered territory, “freedom’s acre”, where the most defiant and most independent Serbs fled: “So the Montenegrins are the pure Serbs.” Sava described the Montenegrin capital Centinje near Mt. Lovcen, which he visited. He recounted local customs and traditions such as tales of Vjeshtitzas, witches which suck the blood of their victims, similar to vampires, and vilas, fairly-like creatures which seduce men.

On left, a photograph of the Vracevsnica Monastery built by knez or prince Radic Postupovic in 1431, dedicated to St. George, located on the southern side of the Rudnik Mountains between Gornji Milanovac and Kragujevac in Serbia. According to legend, Postupovic, a Serbian celnik or court dignitary under Djuradj Brankovic and the despot Stefan Lazarevic, began the construction of the monastery in 1428 as an answer to his prayer to St. George for the safe return from the Battle of Kosovo. On right, the “Original Cross” of St. Sava, “patron saint of all the Slavs”.

A view of Cetinje in Montenegro, top. A street in Trebinje,
 in Hercegovina, bottom.

Kristo described himself and the history, origins, and objectives of the Chetniks in Part Two, Chapter I, “O, Serbia!”, in a series of letters, as follows:

 “I am a leader of Chetniks. We are an old organization. We are outlaws. Yet no government has been able to suppress us. None has dared, nor, I think, has any ever thought it wise to make the attempt. We came into being to fight the Turks. We have our own uniforms and our own code of laws. We have fought in every Balkan war. We are the natural guerrillas of our country, and we work behind the enemy. We harass his lines of communication, his transport, his munition wagons. Our men are all chosen for their bravery, but we make no boast of that. We are proud only because we know that in time of need we are able and ready to serve our country. We are, if you like, a standing army whose numbers no-one knows, not even our chief. We have allied ourselves with every patriot in the field, and we have no aims beyond the liberation of Serbia. We never surrender. We are never taken alive. In the lapels of the coats of each one of us is poison, one draught of which is sufficient. We take it and die.”

British wartime poster, “Leaders of the Allied Nations Whose Headquarters are in Britain”, showing King Peter Karageorgevich II of Yugoslavia at the bottom of the V. Also pictured are Hubert Pierlot of Belgium, Eduard Benes, Charles de Gaulle, George II of Greece, “King of the Hellenes”, and the Grand Duchess Charlotte Aldegonde Elise Marie Wilhelmine of Luxembourg.

In Chapter II, “The Angels of Death”, Sava details the frenzied and chaotic period when the pact with Germany was rejected. Kristo listened to a March 26 radio speech or address to the Yugoslav people on the BBC by “Mr. Amery”, Leopold Amery, a Conservative British MP and Secretary of State for India and Burma, delivered in Serbian, at the time of the crisis over the Tripartite Pact before the German attack. Amery focused his appeal to the Serbs in Yugoslavia. He recounted Serbian valor in World War I as an ally of Great Britain and he queried why the Serbs should now abandon the Greeks and ally themselves with Germany like the Bulgarians and the Rumanians. Amery maintained that the Allies would win the war. He addressed Serbian clergymen and students who he maintained had kept the flames of nationalism and national identity burning when the Balkans were subjugated and annexed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. He reminded them of the tradition of Kosovo and of King Lazar, who chose a heavenly kingdom over one on earth:

I appeal to you clergymen and students who, throughout the centuries of oppression, kept the flame of the national spirit alive. I appeal to you on even higher ground than that of old comradeship or the certainty of our victory. Will you let your people become once more a subject race? On the field of Kossovo, Tsar Lazar preferred a heavenly to an earthly crown. Serbia was defeated, but her spirit never dies.

Kristo hears the German declaration of war on a radio broadcast in Belgrade. The German speaker announced: ‘Der Fuehrer hat seiner Armee zu marschieren befohlen. Wir erklaeren Krieg an Jugoslavien.’ The Fuehrer has commanded that the Army march. ‘We are declaring war on Jugoslavia.’

The bombing of Belgrade on April 6, 1941, Palm Sunday, consisting of a series of air attacks and sorties by the German Luftwaffe, which killed thousands of civilians, is described by Kristo:

Twenty feet ahead of us a man and a girl had been walking, fearfully and anxiously, yet trying not to run and show panic. A single piece of glass decapitated both of them. No executioner could have done it more neatly or more expeditiously. Their heads fell off like cut flowers, and their bodies, still surprised, still unprepared for death, wavered a little as if uncertain whether to stand or fall down. Then they lurched drunkenly and fell with a nauseating thud, still holding hands.

I caught sight of women dashing frantically into the street, their clothes aflame, and their hands tearing helplessly at their burning flesh. For all the world, they looked like ghouls, these fantastic human torches that danced a demented dance before collapsing into the all-encircling flame. A few men tore off their coats and tried to do their best by wrapping the victims in them. But it was of no avail. Helper and helped alike were cremated alive together."

Belgrade had become a city of hell populated by madmen.”

Kristo recounted how a fire-engine in Belgrade drove over corpses with “the grating of bones and the slushy trail of blood”. Slates from roofs fell off: "One fireman was hit across the face, so that a great, oozing gash was left where his nose had been. … Part of the slate still protruded from his face like some obscene proboscis.

Kristo witnessed the German bombing of Belgrade ordered by Adolf Hitler as Operation Punishment and described the devastation: “For out of three hundred thousand people in Belgrade, twenty thousand died. It was as if half a million had perished in a city of London’s size.”

He recounted the aftermath of the German invasion:

The capitulation was never complete. Many of the forces refused to surrender, and the task of the Chetniks was to collect together these scattered fragments so that they might to make a new fighting force in the heart of the country….Whatever may have happened to the land itself, it was clear that the spirit of Jugoslavia lived on as proudly as ever. From all over the country peasants came to the centres of resistance bringing with them old guns and hunting rifles, some of them muzzle loaders complete with ramrod and powder-horn. …And against these weapons, the Germans used all the resources of a modern army. They bombed us with their Junkers and their Heinkels and machine-gunned us with their Messerschmitts. …It must have seemed to the Nazis that for every one Jugoslav they crushed, two more made their appearance."

But even then we did not despair. The Turks had been in the White Fortress—and where were they now? The Turkish Empire had ceased to be. The Austrians had been there, too; and like the Turkish Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was also no more than a record in the history books.

Kristo described how English soldiers, fleeing capture after the German invasion of Greece, joined the ranks of the Chetniks. Women also were members of the guerrillas. Kristo explained how though “on paper, our activities look slight”, they were having an impact: “But none the less we were achieving success. Not only were we making things difficult for the German administration and harassing its communications; we were holding down men whom … the Germans were anxious to employ elsewhere. In this way, we felt we were being of service not only to our own tortured country, but also to the wider cause of the Allies.”

Kristo explained how the Chetnik guerrillas were like brothers who were all equal. Kristo and Vuk made expeditions as commanders that they should have delegated to the soldiers: “But that is a rule among the Chetniks. A commander must be able to do anything he asks his men to do, and must prove it from time to time.

As the number of recruits grew and their ranks swelled, the Chetniks needed more arms, weapons, and supplies: “We were, after all, the only army in Europe fighting the Germans. We made a small front, but nevertheless it was something. We held down and immobilized forces quite disproportionate to our own numbers. We knew that no matter how many gallows might raise their arms to the Serbian sky, no matter how many Chetniks might be slain, we were aiding that greater struggle on which, we now realized, the fate of the world hung. It was no longer simply Serbia. It was the world’s fight for those things which Serbia always cherished: peace to live one’s own life, freedom, independence.

Kristo’s wife Dobrussa also joined the Chetniks. “’Jugoslavia’, she said, ‘has been occupied, but not vanquished.’”

Kristo, Vuk, and Milan Frankovich, Chetnik guerrillas in Belgrade, launched one of the first guerrilla attacks against German occupation forces in the city. They boarded a German troop and ammunition train in Belgrade and derailed and destroyed it, killing 200 German troops and taking 80 as POWs.

One weapon which the guerrillas devised was a specially-constructed thermometer which would explode at a set temperature. A thermometer was developed that was filled with fulminate of mercury with a device that would explode it with a spark when the temperature reached 65 degrees. The fulminate would in turn ignite a mine. This device was successfully used against German forces.

The Axis occupation forces retaliated against Serbian civilians for Chetnik guerrilla activity. Budva, a coastal village in Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea, was destroyed by Italian naval vessels as retaliation for Chetnik guerrilla attacks.

In Part Two, Chapter III, “The New Leader”, Kristo is introduced to Draza Mihailovich, on page 222: “One day, the chief called us all together. …

“‘My sons, my brothers,’ he said solemnly, ‘I want to introduce to you your commander-in-chief, General Draza Mihailovich.’"

The name was known to every one of us. Tales of his exploits were familiar to every Chetnik band roaming the hills.”

Kristo described his impressions of Draza Mihailovich as a leader:

 “We saw before us a man in the late forties, of medium height, and with striking eyes of a bright mountain-flower blue and fairish curly hair. But his physical details were dominated by his presence. It was that of the born natural leader. Here was a man, one said at once, in whom one could place one’s entire faith, a man to die for. Yet there was nothing aloof about him.”
Mihailovich then answered questions from the assembled Chetnik commanders and presented an account of his life and career:

“'In the last war … I was a lieutenant. … Then I became a staff officer. In 1935 I was military attaché in Sofia, and later I held the same appointment in Prague.” One of the commanders asked him a question: “Where were you when we were invaded?” Mihailovich replied: “With the Second Army fighting the Hungarians. But you know what it was like. It was impossible to stand up against their tanks and artillery, though we strangled every son of a dog we could lay hands on. At Losnitza, I found myself left with a few battalions of Chetniks. The order to capitulate came through, but, of course, we ignored it. Things got hotter, so we moved into the mountains, where we were soon joined by your chief here and others willing to carry on the war to the victorious conclusion. More and more men joined us. Serbia still lives. And that, comrades, is my story.'”

Kristo described the effect Mihailovich had on the guerrillas:

 “We listened to his simple words and stared at him wonderingly. He was wearing rough peasant clothing, his fair hair covered by a tattered cap, yet even so he seemed set above us in the natural power of his leadership. Where that power came from and how we recognized it at once, I scarcely know, unless it be that he was the incarnation of our own determination. We accepted him at once as one of us, rough and hard, and prepared to live hard amongst us. He did not walk about in beautiful clothes with enormous epaulettes on his shoulders—he had no need to. Nor did he treat us as though we were imbeciles or children. To him we were fellow men in a cause. We were irregular soldiers, but, he added, the best in the world. We cheered that because, without pride, we knew it to be true. And henceforth the only possible warfare in Jugoslavia would be that for which we had trained since childhood. We were the people’s protectors, the guardians of our own soil, because we were the people and sprang from the soil.”

Kristo recounted Draza’s activities which Draza related to him. Draza recalled how he had one time eaten lunch at the same café in Belgrade with German officers and troops in order to gather information from them: “The other day they were cursing me roundly right to my face without knowing it.” Draza always carried bombs and threw them at the German troops in the café when they tried to have him thrown out.

Kristo proposed a plan to Draza for returning the 80 captured German POWs, which was a “mock interment”. They were to be tied and put in coffins with straw in their mouths so they could not speak. Then on their backsides of the “living mummies” in “indelible vegetable dye” the exploits of Mihailovich were written. Holes were drilled in the coffins so they could breathe. Eight ox carts with ten coffins bedecked with flowers on each were then taken to Belgrade and presented to the German headquarters. The effect on the German troops was described: “Fear struck deep into their hearts.” The German occupation forces retaliated: “It gave the Germans a fresh excuse for exercising their favorite weapon—terror. Overnight the gallows shot up like rank toadstools that fed their fetid growth with human lives.

Kristo then presented an account of the guerrilla war against the Axis forces that they engaged in: “For nine months we fought. During the single month of August we destroyed something like twelve thousand fascist soldiers, including officers, blew up two hundred bridges, set fire to between three and four hundred petrol, ammunition, and store dumps, and wrecked seventeen trains.” The Germans retaliated for these guerrilla attacks: “During the first half of the month, ten thousand Serbs were sent to German concentration camps … In Belgrade alone four hundred Jugoslavs were executed.” For Kristo, the guerrillas had the support of the population: “It showed us … how well we … represented the heart and the soul of the people.”

He described how they heard the news that Mihailovich was made the War Minister by the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile in London “as a symbol of the confidence of the government and as evidence of the strength of their solidarity with the forces fighting for liberty.” The strength and the size of the guerrillas grew with each new successful attack: “Now we had something like eighty thousand men behind us, but no matter how the army grew, Mihailovich was like a personal friend to each man. There was no clicking of heels when he came among us. … But Mihailovich was our true leader, needing neither such supports nor a bodyguard wherever he went among us.”

As their size grew, they needed more weapons, which were scare. They did manage to seize weapons from the German, Italian, and Hungarian troops, however, and to obtain weapons from deserters. Kristo described their successful sabotage activities.

He described the reaction to the broadcast of Alexei Tolstoy’s address made in August, 1944 in Moscow reaffirming the role of Russia as an ally of the occupied countries, as “The Elder Brother”. In his message Tolstoy called for Pan-Slavic unity and a united effort or front to defeat Nazism and fascism:

'I appeal to all Slavs … The hour will strike when not a hundred Serbs or Poles or guerrilla fighters in the mountains of Macedonia and Montenegro will be shot for every German soldier killed, but when every tortured Serb, Pole, Montenegrin, Slovene, or Macedonian, will be avenged in thousands of fascists. … The charred ruins of Warsaw, Belgrade, Chachak, Jadodin [Jagodin], and Banya are still glowing. … Liberty or death! … Health and vigour to all people and countries fighting fascism!'”

Kristo described the impact of the speech on the Chetnik guerrillas: “‘Liberty or death!’ he had said. It was no new appeal to us. It had ever been the cry of the Chetniks, the cry, in his heart, of every Serb.

Kristo then joined a guerrilla attack on a village held by German troops. He was a member of a guerrilla detachment, “the bravest of a corps of heroes”, that included his wife Dobrussa and an elderly woman who had fought in World War I. He described Mihailovich during the attack:

I caught sight of Mihailovich in the thick of the fight. He was directing here and there, ordering the retirement so as to minimize losses and preserve as much of as he could of his men and material. But he had time to smile at me and whisper an explanation."

“‘We shall disappear,’ he said. ‘Our headquarters must be moved into the heart of the mountains. If they care to follow us there, well and good.’ He shrugged. ‘They cannot bring up tanks to where we shall go.'”

The guerrillas attacked the village and were able to kill the German sentries. Kristo and the Chetnik guerrillas were captured, however, when the German commander ordered that everyone in the village assemble in the village square. The Germans then lined everyone up in the square and separated them in groups of men and women. The men were killed by a German officer who stabbed them in the back with a knife and cuts downwards along the torso. The women were lashed with whips. Kristo was able to escape.

Kristo’s wife Dobrussa is taken prisoner by German troops. He also suspects that his son Nicholas may be in the village. Mihailovich tells Kristo that the conflict is larger than any individual, that it is based on a cause and that personal feelings should not intrude. Mihailovich urges balance and equanimity and sangfroid. Killing German troops in retaliation and revenge would be futile and self-defeating and counter-productive.

Kristo then goes on a desperate and reckless search for his wife Dobrussa and his son Nicholas. In his search, he discovered that the Germans had abducted children and were using them for blood transfusions and as blood donors. They were also used as donors for skin grafts for injured German troops. He also discovered that the Germans were using women as surrogate mothers to produce children for the Third Reich. He finds out that Dobrussa died during childbirth. He suspected that she was a surrogate.

After this ordeal, Kristo returns to the Chetnik camp and listens to a speech by Mihailovich to the assembled guerrillas. Mihailovich recounted how German forces had targeted his own wife and children and had presented him with an ultimatum. The choice was simple: He either surrendered or his wife and children would be killed. Mihailovich addressed the men, explaining the German ultimatum to them:

'You have suffered,’ he said to us all, but I felt he was addressing me personally, ‘and I have kept silent. But you know I have shared your sorrow. To-day I can speak to you as one who has a right to do so. To-day, the ultimatum that the Nazis have sent me expires.’"

“‘Two months ago,’ he went on in the same passionless voice, ‘the Germans seized my wife and four children. With what penalties they threatened them you will all remember. They sought, through them, to break my will. They thought that the cry of my own flesh would drown the cry of the desecrated and torn body of my country. They have now asked me to pass a message on to you. They gave us another five days, which now have expired. If we do not surrender, they say, the relatives of all Chetniks and of all guerrillas will be held as hostages. They say they will take immediate action. I need not tell you what that means.'"

“‘Comrades, our country asks for our lives. It asks also for the lives of our loved ones. I have two boys and two girls. The girls are aged nine and fifteen. They are very young, but the elder is ripe for the Nazi bestiality. They have not had their chance of life. What answer shall I return? …'"

“‘I have made reply in your name. This is what I have said: ‘I intend to go on fighting until my death or until you, the enemy, have been thrown out of my country. Our first units of deliverance are already in the field. Large territories have been freed. Jugoslavia is a State of Free Citizens. I call on all able-bodied Jugoslavs to fight for their country.’”

Kristo described the reaction of the guerrillas:

 “We did not cheer. Our hearts were too full. But the very silence was more impressive. Mihailovich had spoken. But it was not Mihailovich. It was the voice of Jugoslavia.

In a postscript, “L’envoi”, Sava concluded: “This, then, is the story of Kristo, my friend. It is the story also of his brave comrades and their leader, Draza Mihailovich.” Sava is able to grasp the appeal of Kristo and Mihailovich: “For Kristo belongs to the salt of the earth, he is a man who would win honour in any country and in any age.” His appeal is to the “common man”, an appeal that is universal and transcends time and place.

Why did Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas have universal appeal that transcended religion, nationality, race, language, creed, or politics? Underneath language, ethnicity, race, religion, culture, ideology, we are all the same. The differences are skin-deep and superficial. What is heroic and what constitutes a hero is essentially the same for all people. This is the story of a common and simple man or woman who emerges from the people who is defeated but not conquered, who remains unconquered or unvanquished. They then engage in trials or a struggle to free their country from a foreign invader or power, hiding in mountains, hills, the wilderness, the sea, forests, deserts, caves, or underground hideouts. The ideals that motivate them are freedom and equality and justice. To achieve them they will put their own life in peril and will sacrifice their wife and children. They will push themselves to achieve what they never believed was possible or attainable, successes that are described as superhuman or heroic. They become supermen, legendary and mythic figures. Everyone can identify with them and projects their own ideals and aspirations onto them. These projections emerge as novels and fictional or literary accounts. The novels are the projections of our own unconscious, an unconscious that is common to all and is not limited to any time or space. It is the part of our subconscious which we repress or deny. We project this denied or suppressed part of our own subconscious on others. We project it on characters such as Robin Hood, Zorro, Batman, Superman, Luke Skywalker, or real life individuals such as Draza Mihailovich.

They have a populist appeal. They are ordinary individuals, emerging from the people, opposed to war, reluctant to fight, thrust on the world stage to confront extraordinary odds and challenges. Like the Minutemen during the American Revolutionary War, members of the colonial militia who were mobile and could be rapidly deployed, they were citizen soldiers who emerged to defend their country and homeland. Like all guerrillas, their source of power was found in the population, in the people. Mihailovich emphasized this when he noted: “My strength is in the people.”

George Sava’s fictional account is most effective and most realistic when he focuses on Draza Mihailovich and the guerrillas. This is the part of the novel that is the most enduring, memorable, meaningful, and timeless. Unlike people, myths and legends have no lifespan and do not die. And they will always be invaluable to us because they tell us about ourselves, about all humanity.

Carl Savich

November 2009


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