Serb group seeks grave of WWII guerrilla leader
March 23, 2009
BELGRADE, Serbia - A Chicago-based Serb group said Monday it is offering a $100,000 reward for anyone who can locate the grave of a World War II guerrilla leader executed as a traitor by the Communists.
The burial site of Dragoljub Draza Mihailovic has been unknown since his execution in 1946 by the postwar Communist authorities. Mihailovic was convicted of collaboration with the Nazi occupiers in a hasty trial orchestrated by the new government.
The Serbian National Defense Council of America posted the reward offer on its Web site. The group said that the reward would be paid only after DNA tests confirm that the remains are those of Mihailovic.
Mihailovic was an officer of the pre-1941 Yugoslav Royal Army. He launched a resistance movement in 1941 against the German occupiers. However, he also fought against Communist guerrillas later in the war, and his troops were accused of atrocities by non-Serbs.
The Allies initially supported Mihailovic and his followers, but later shifted their support to the Communists, who by 1945 had seized power and abolished the monarchy.
In 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman posthumously awarded Mihailovic the Legion of Merit award for his role in rescuing hundreds of U.S. airmen downed by the Nazis over Serbia.
Mihailovic also enjoys respect among America's Serbs, many of whom fled Communism after World War II. Chicago has the biggest Serbian community in the U.S.
In Serbia, Mihailovic's descendants have lodged an official request with the Serbian courts for Mihailovic's legal and political rehabilitation after the fall of Communism.
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