Saturday, June 27, 2009




Michele Popadich

Age 15

Chicago, Illinois


Jovanka Potkonjak

Age 11

Milwaukee, Wisconsin



Marica Potkonjak

Age 15

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Andjelka Potkonjak

Age 12

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Djuka Potkonjak

Age 14

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Vasilje ("Vaso") Katanic

Age 10

Hermitage, Pennsylvania (aka "Farrell" PA)



Dusica Solic

Age 15

Hermitage, Pennsylvania


Natasha Ignatowski

Age 11

Franklin, Wisconsin


Peter George Majetich

Age 12

Poland, Ohio

On behalf of Michael Papich, who initiated this wonderful challenge and myself, Aleksandra Rebic, we sincerely thank all the young people who entered this contest and submitted their fine book reports for consideration! Thank you to all who purchased "The Forgotten 500" in order to donate copies to their government representatives and to libraries and other institutions across America and internationally. "Thank You" to those who donated financially for the rewards to be given to the children who entered the contest and to those who supported this effort through their publications and parishes and spreading the word. The success of this effort ensures that such campaigns will continue in the future.


Michael Papich

Milana "Mim" Bizic

Branko Terzic, U.S. Delegate of HRH Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic

Savo (Sam) Subotich

Catherine Jankovich

Sam and Dorothy Coso

Curt "Bud" Diles, American Airman WWII rescued by the Mihailovich Serbs.


To Michele, Jovanka, Marica, Djuka, Andjelka, Vaso (who wins 1st place for the "cutest, most charming essay of all"!), Dusica, Natasha, and Peter, WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!!!


To get in touch with me, please feel free to e-mail me at

June 28th, VIDOVDAN, 2009



Age 15 Chicago, Illinois


I was first introduced to the Halyard mission by my grandfather who was a Chetnik in WWII. His battalion rescued three American soldiers during the war. I only knew stories of the mission and brief facts about Mihailovich, but I was unaware of the amazing rescue that took place and all of its achievements.

The Forgotten 500 tells a story about a rescue mission that was made possible by General Draza Mihailovich and his troops under the most unfavorable conditions. Americans unexpectedly dropped from the sky in huge numbers in the mountains of Yugoslavia. With Nazi’s surrounding the area and the defense diminishing, Mihailovich made, what seemed to be an impossible mission, possible. With the collaboration of Mihailovich, the villagers of the area, the downed airmen and the few OSS agents that knew Mihailovich didn’t work with the Nazi’s, operation Halyard was a success in many ways, but a failure in others. Five hundred American airmen were rescued even with the overwhelming obstacles they encountered. But the deceit and manipulation of several British agents cost Mihailovich his life and handed over the 15 million people of Yugoslavia to a communist government.

The Forgotten 500 is an important story that should be told for numerous reasons. It was an inspiring, powerful event, which was made possible by brave and strong people. The immense amount of work, determination, and courage that was needed to make the project a success, should be recognized and appreciated. The mission should not be an event that is only known by the Serbian community. The work of the villagers, Chetniks, OSS agents, and Mihailovich should be written in history books. It should be thought of when WWII is mentioned. It should be celebrated in the United States as a triumph made between Yugoslavia and the U.S. in harsh and erratic times. War may often bring new problems, but the bond between countries can result in a powerful and inspirational force.

The Halyard operation is symbol of determination and total bravery. What seemed to be an impossible mission, which included limited resources, few connections, and endless enemies, turned out to be a successful rescue that should never be forgotten. It shows that there are still are people who are willing to risk everything to help one another. In times like WWII and even today when events are unpredictable, successes like the Halyard mission represent more than just a rescue; it represents what a world could be if there was more trust and kindness. It is the epitome of human values. This story inspires hope in the darkest of times.

The Halyard mission is an unforgettable and empowering rescue that should never be forgotten as told in The Forgotten 500. In a remarkable historical event, the weakest part of Yugoslavia performed one of the most amazing rescues in history. It shows that nothing is impossible. WWII was a time when countries would do anything to be victorious. But it was also a time where a small part of Yugoslavia and its collaboration with the OSS and immense amount of bravery, achieved a victory that should never be forgotten.

Michele Popadich



Age 11

St. Sava Orthodox School

Milwaukee, WI


Gregory A. Freeman’s “Forgotten 500” is a very important book that should absolutely not be forgotten. This great book contains many historical events that happened in a rescue mission during World War II. It tells how helpful the Serbian people were towards the downed American airmen. This historical book also explains how the OSS helped the airmen escape from German occupied territory and what the Americans did to help.

One of the reasons why it shouldn’t be forgotten is for the benefit of the Serbian people. Serbia has not gotten very much credit for all the good things they have done for the United States of America. When the American airmen parachuted into former Yugoslavia, the Serbians did everything they could to keep the airmen safe. They fed them, housed them, and the Cetnik soldiers kept them safe from the Nazis. Sometimes, the Serbs would not have a meal that night because they gave all of their food to the Americans. In addition to the rest of their sacrifices, innocent Serbian villagers who allianced themselves with the Americans were discovered by the Nazis and they were killed. The Americans told Draza Mihajlovic and the rest of the Cetniks that they would turn themselves in but Mihajlovic said that it was an honor for the Serbians to risk their lives for them. Would you ever risk your own life to protect someone that you don’t even know?

The OSS also played a huge role in Operation Halyard. The OSS set out to recover all 500 downed American airmen. Without their work and effort, the Americans would be trapped behind enemy lines for a much longer time.

Operation Halyard was the mission that the Americans did in Serbia. The Serbians helped the Americans assemble and build a landing strip big enough for C-47 cargo planes to land. Those airmen and Serbs had to do this all with no knowledge of the Serbian or English language, without causing danger to the Serbian villagers, without tools, and without letting the Germans find out. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to do that?

“The Forgotten 500” should never be forgotten. It tells how determined the Serbian people [the Cetniks and the villagers etc.] were to keep the Americans safe and healthy in that tough time. My grandparents, Nikola and Marica Potkonjak, were Cetniks and under the command Vojvoda Djujic. They fought against communism. So this book really means a lot to me and my family because the Cetniks did not get any credit for all the things they did and fought for. Everyone should know about everything this book talks about. This mission had a huge impact on not just those 500 Americans, but their families and friends and many others. Operation Halyard was perhaps the best rescue mission of World War II.

Jovanka Potkonjak



Age 15

St. Sava Orthodox School

Milwaukee, WI


"Take good care that nothing happens to these men. You must defend them, if necessary, with your lives. If any one of you comes to me with the news that anything has happened to a single one of those airmen, I shall have the man that bears this news executed on the spot." (Draza Mihailovich) General Draza Mihailovich said these very words to his Chetnik fighters to stress the importance of protecting the downed airmen in Pranjane, Yugoslavia because he felt it was necessary that they made it out of Yugoslavia safely. Indeed, every single one of the airmen trapped inside enemy lines in Yugoslavia made it out safely. Operation Halyard (the name of the mission to evacuate the Allies) was the biggest and greatest rescue mission of World War II and should not be forgotten by anyone.

Mihailovich was a very important leader to the Chetnik fighters of World War II. He was courageous and brave, both qualities of a true hero. The fact that he was willing to risk his own life, as well as other Chetniks' lives, to save American should not be forgotten. Many of the airmen who had the honor of meeting Mihailovich said that they felt as if they were in the presence of a saint when they met him, and that his humbleness was truly remarkable. But, the rest of the world was under the impression that he was a traitor to the Allies and Tito becauase of the lies propaganda made them believe. This shows how easily people can be persuaded by falsehoods the media relay to the world. Mihailovich was completely opposite of a war criminal and never did anything to support the Nazis; he was actually in charge of an operation to help evacuate American airmen from Yugoslavia and back into safety in Italy.

Although Mihailovich deserves a lot of the credit for saving the American fliers, none of it could have been accomplished without the Serbian villagers who housed the men for sometimes a very long time. The villagers gave all they had, which was not much, to the the soldiers including beds, food, clothing, shelter, and most importantly, safety. This meant that on some occasions villagers had to sleep in barns with their animals, go without certain items of clothing, and starve. But on every one of those days, they were risking their own safety and lives for - in their opinion - a greater good, which was keeping the Americans safe. These men, women, and children committed selfless acts of generosity, courtesy, and complete benevolence that should be known to the world. Without the help of these truly compassionate Serbian villagers, the airmen would most likely not have made it out of Yugoslavia safely.

Many of the Forgotten 500 airmen said that they were eternally grateful to all the Serbs who helped them, and many owed their lives to them. They were taken aback by the kindheartedness the Serbs bestowed onto them. Once they were all evacuated safely into Italy, and then eventually sent back to the United States, the airmen were astounded that there were only a few people who knew about Operation Halyard. They could not believe that the U.S. government kept the mission quite because the airmen felt the entire world should know what Mihailovich and the Serbs did to help them. They were especially baffled when they heard that Mihailovich was to be on trial under Tito's courts for treason. Even though there was not much they could do in the United States because Tito would not take into regard the U.S. State Department's letters to let Mihailovich have a fair trial, they did try as hard as they could to make the story of their time in Yugoslavia known all over the world. The Forgotten 500 did all they could to make sure that their story was known to the world, and it is important that this story is still being told in generations to come.

The Forgotten 500 portrays an aspect of kindness and humanity by many people including Draza Mihailovich, Chetnik fighters, and Serbian villagers. Their complete regard for the well-being of American soldiers is something that should always be remembered, especially in today's society where violence is very often seen more than kindness. Also, Draza Mihailovich and his Chetniks did all they could to make sure the Americans stayed safe, even if it meant their own lives were endangered. Even though many of the Serbs who helped the Americans were killed during the war or executed after, including Draza Mihailovich, the heroic acts they did while on this earth will keep them alive forever. As Mihailovich said, "I strove for much, I undertook much, but the gales of the world have carried away both me and my work."

Marica Potkonjak



Age 14

St. Sava Orthodox School

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Forgotten 500 tells a story that should never have been forgotten in the first place. People from two completely different countries formed a bond that lasted a lifetime. Five hundred American airmen were shot down over Serbia during World War II. The Serbs did not speak English and the Americans did not speak any Serbian, but together they conducted, to me, the greatest rescue mission of the war. This story should never be forgotten because it is about real people, the trust they gained, and credits the Serbs for saving the Americans lives.

First of all, this book tells the story about real people at a time of war. When the Americans crashed into Serbia, they had no idea what would happen to them, who they would meet, or how they would survive. I cannot imagine how hard it was for them to reach the Serbians, not know anything about them. For example, Clare Musgrove, an American, was a ball turret gunner parachuted into the the mountains. he had to walk to a Serbian village thinking he might never make it out alive. He was brought into a home, unable to communicate with the villagers. I think that is amazing to have to have the courage to that. It is also amazing that the Serbs, without even a second thought, said yes and allowed strangers into their homes. They cared for them and fed them. Some even gave up their beds for the Americans.

This story should also be remembered because it is about trust. The Americans had to trust the Serbs to survive the war. And the Serbs had to trust the Americans to survive as well, because if the Nazis found out they were protecting Americans, the Serbs would be killed. The Serbs protected these "foreigners" because Draza Mihailovich told them to. However, in the end, they gained each other's trust and believed in each other. How they learned to trust each other, and why the Serbs did what they did, is truly amazing. Maybe it is because if the Serbs were the ones needed help and protection, they would want someone to save them, too.

Lastly, this book should never be forgotten because it speaks the truth. Some people today still think that the Serbs were not important in World War II. In fact, the Serbs have hardly been recognized for their acts of heroism and kindness during the war. Most Americans do not know what the Serbs really did for America, and they really should. Draza Mihailovich told all the Serbs, "Protect every American that comes to your villages," and they did. Some even died for the Americans, including Draza Mihailovich himself. He was executed for "helping the Nazis," when in fact the very opposite is true. Unfortunately, this true story was ignored, and forgotten until now. I am Serbian and when I read this book I was so happy that the Serbs were finally getting credit for all that they did. It also made me start to wonder what they did to make so many people hate them.

In conclusion, this is an amazing book. It talks about very important events that happened in World War II that few people ever knew about. Also, it shares the bonds that these strangers made with each other, with another generation. More importantly, the author spoke the truth about the Serbs and the tough times the Americans and Serbians went through, and that to me is what makes this book a great one. As you can see, The Forgotten 500 should be shared with many more generations to come and indeed should never be forgotten.

Djuka Potkonjak



Age 12

St. Sava Orthodox School

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Draza Mihailovich once said, "I strove for much, I undertook much, but the gales of the world have taken away both me and my work." These were his last words before he was executed on July 17, 1946 for "working" with the Nazis. This man sacrificed his life to save these men. The Forgotten 500 should not be forgotten because it benefits Serbs, benefits Americans, and is without a doubt, a true act of heroism.

One reason why the Forgotten 500 should not be forgotten is because it benefits the Serbian people. During Operation Halyard, many Serbs put their lives at stake to protect these downed American airmen. They knew very well that they might be caught in the act and killed, but that didn't matter to them. They wanted to make sure that the Americans were safe. Serbian villagers took these men into their homes not even knowing their names or speaking the same language. On more than one occasion, the Serbs slept in barns with the pigs to give the Americans a place to sleep. They sometimes didn't eat a meal at night because they gave the little food they had to the Americans. It takes a very whole hearted person to do this. These brave Serbs should be recognized for their act of heroism and all Serbs, Serb descendents and Americans should know about this. Although this World War II rescue mission was risky, Serbs still helped in any way they could.

Another reason why the Forgotten 500 should not be forgotten is because it benefits Americans also. The Serbs didn't only save the lives of the 500 airmen that were rescued, but the descendants of the 500 men. If they had died, then their children wouldn't have been born either. It is estimated that if the men died, then over 12,000 people wouldn't exist either. The America people should know what the Serbs did for them and not just have it be forgotten. This is rich history that will be forgotten if we as Serbs don't pass it along to other people. Americans should know about what the Serbs did for them and thank them, not bomb them.

Finally, the Forgotten 500 should not be forgotten because it is without a double an act of heroism on the part of the Serbs and Americans alike. Without the generosity and hospitality of the Serbs, these men would not have made it out alive. They would have been found by the Germans and killed. This is an act of heroism because day and night, these Serbs and General Mihailovich knew perfectly well that they might die for what they were doing. The Serbs could have just as easily turned them over to the Germans. To me, a true hero is someone who will risk anything and give anything to save someone. Indeed, this is exactly what these men did and why they are classified as "heroes".

Without the bravery, hospitality and generosity of the Serbs, Operation Halyard would not have been a success. Many brave men and women saved these men not even knowing who they were or speaking the same language as them. In conclusion, the Forgotten 500 should not be forgotten because it benefits the Serbs, Americans and is without a doubt a clear example of an act of heroism.

Andjelka Potkonjak



Age 10

Hermitage, Pennsylvania


This book is called The Forgotten 500, by Gregory A. Freeman. It is about one of the greatest stories of the terrifying World War 2 (WW2), which is Operation Halyard, or the rescue of 512 downed airmen in Yugoslavian territory (Nazi-occupied). The book starts with Clare Musgrove. He was in a B-24 bomber's crew. He was shot down on his 8th mission: to bomb the oil fields of of Ploesti, Romania, a critical source of fuel for the German's war machine. Musgrove felt lucky to be alive, and he had little to complain about. No serious injuries had occurred, and he was only hungry and occasionally thirsty. The Serbs who were escorting them (him and his men) took him to a village. There was little to eat. Food rations were all over the country. All foods were rationed for the Yugoslavian army or otherwise were given or stolen for Nazi's. A Chetnik officer who spoke English (fairly) told Musgrove and his men to go to where the other airmen went gathering, but he said “You go There”. The Serbians were risking their lives for the airmen, and also their food. They had very little, and Musgrove knew them eating food would mean men, women, and even children wouldn't eat that night. He spared, even though he was starving.

Musgrove and his men were were walking from village to village, in need of aid and good news, when an OSS (later to become the CIA) agent found them while on horseback. His name was George Musulin, and he was to help downed airmen. They were gathering an Pranjane (Pronounced pran-yan-ay). At first, Musgrove and his men didn't get the hint that this was good news, but then they finally found out that their were about 200 airmen in the little village. Musulin told them that C-47's would be picking them up, but the airmen would need to build a landing strip, at least 700 meters long. They could not be spotted by Nazi's, and they had no tools, other that what the peasants had, which wasn't a lot. The radio people tried to contact the OSS and also the president of that time, Teddy Roosevelt. The message made Roosevelt want to save the airmen, but he was concerned about the British. A man known as Wild Bill Donovan, exclaimed “S__w The British! Let's get our boys out!” Fortunately,the president was in that same no-nonsense mood.

The days that they were picked up were horrible at first, and then became better. While their were building the airstrip, and suddenly, they saw two JU-52 planes above them and a Stuka dive bomber. They hid from the terrible planes. Certainly the Germans would notice something if there only was cleared land in front of them. But a cow stepped on it, and the Germans thought this was normal, for cows to step on airstrips! So they left it alone. The operation took one day and night. The night mission came first, with 6 C-47's landing on the airstrip. The sick and injured went in first. And then the people who were in Yugoslavia the longest went on next. Others went after them. Musulin said that only 12 people were allowed to go on one C-47, even though the C-47 could hold twice as much. The morning mission was wonderful. A whole fleet of P-51 Mustangs and P-38 Lighting fighter planes were escorting the C-47's The Americans were so grateful to the Serbs, that they gave their jackets and shoes for them. When the planes left, a group of airmen arrived at the village, and were angry that they missed the pickup operation.

This story is important to remember, because America now constantly battles in the former Yugoslavia, in Kosovo, and other places. This story was just forgotten, so the U.S. government pretends nothing happened, so they attack Yugoslavia because they want their resources, and because they don't want the public to find out the secret friendships of the men mentioned in the story with the Serbs. This story must be remembered to honor those brave and caring men who showed the world how loving and generous the Serbian people are!

Vaso Katanic



Age 15

Hermitage, Pennsylvania

Honorable Mention

There are so many instances in World War II and other wars where rescue attempts of soldiers are publicized and praised as possibly the greatest feats of the time period. People talk about it all the time, stories are continuously in the news; people write books, sing songs, raise monuments, and create movies commemorating this event. However, a sincerely great story of Serbian valiance has been lost to the withering effects of time. One man found that story again and has done the world a favor by documenting it in his book The Forgotten 500.

Sometimes the world can be an unjust and unforgiving place and even after Gregory Freeman has put his heart and soul into reminding people of the events that took place in Yugoslavia, it has been disregarded. There are simple reasons why this story is a great one that teaches many morals to the young people who will build the future. The Serbian people who not only risked their lives for men they didn’t even know, but they gave them everything when they had nothing. Reading about them teaches a lesson of kindness to others and generosity. The airmen that first risked their lives for justice and then landed in a foreign nation behind enemy lines where they had to hike through mountains and fields half starved and possibly injured with people who they couldn’t understand is a display of great courage and determination that makes a great molding for kids of this generation to follow. The agents of the OSS who risked their and others’ careers and ultimately their lives displays bravery and cunning beyond any other. Simply the fact that they were able to build an airstrip with practically nothing show the worth of hard work and willpower that would help anyone succeed in today’s society.

Not only was the story of the Forgotten 500 an interesting one, but it was one based on true events and it plainly states that anything is possible with only strength of mind and courage. The stories of the people who went through these events shouldn’t be forgotten even after the grass has grown back on the field in Pranjane and the memories have been lost; the Forgotten 500 is a simple way of keeping the history of what truly happened alive.

Dusica Solic



Age 11

Franklin, Wisconsin


Think of all the great people in history. Then think of the people in The Forgotten 500. They were forgotten when all of those important people in history were remembered for what they did. If they are all remembered, why can't the peole of the Forgotten 500 be remembered, too?

George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are all big names in history. George Washington was our first United States president. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a beautiful "I have a dream" speech. But when you say Clare Musgrove or Draza Mihailovich, no one has a clue what you're saying.

People need to read this incredible story of everyone helping each other. This is an important part of our history, yet few people knew about it. Everyone needs to know these soldiers and Chetnik's stories. Today so many people are remembered, but so many are forgotten. These people should be remembered , but so many are forgotten. These people should be just as important as our other famous fellows.

It's like you not knowing who George Washington is. It's like important people not even being there. It's like nothing ever happened. But it did happen. It's been decades since this mission and if people don't know now, they never will and this story could eventually die out.

Everyone knows all of those big names. Now it's time to learn the smaller ones. They could be better than those of the big names. If we can remember people from the 1500's, why can't we remember them from the 1900's? Everyone should be remembered, not left behind to be forgotten.

Natasha Ignatowski



Age 12

Poland, Ohio


The Forgotten 500 by Gregory Freeman is an important book that should not be forgotten because it gives a historical and emotional account of a very little known episode of World War II. The heroes are the United States airmen and the Serbian people. The Serbian people risked their lives to protect our airmen. It is truly an unforgettable story of human courage, trust and love for one another. This is a story you should never forget.

Peter George Majetich


"Undercover" // Review by Carl Savich of the 1943 movie about the WWII Chetnik Resistance movement in Yugoslavia

Undercover (1943)

"Underground Guerrillas" (U.S. 1944)

Movie Review

by Carl Savich

June 2009

On July 27, 1943, Ealing Studios in Great Britain released the movie Undercover on the guerrilla resistance movement in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. Undercover was re-released by Columbia Pictures on September 14, 1944 in the United States under the title Underground Guerrillas. The movie was originally entitled Chetnik and was to document the Yugoslav Chetnik resistance movement headed by Draza Mihailovich. Because the movie was released when British support for Mihailovich was waning, however, the film was re-edited and references to Mihailovich and the Chetniks were deleted. The movie is invaluable, nevertheless, as a cinematic account of the resistance movement headed by Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas and how the perception of their role changed.

John Clements starred as Captain Milosh Petrovitch, a Yugoslav guerrilla resistance leader, modeled closely on Draza Mihailovich. Mary Morris played Anna Petrovitch, his wife. Morris later appeared in the BBC Masterpiece Theatre production of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in 1977 as Countess Vronsky, Dr. Who (1982), and the Ray Bradbury Theater (1988). Stephen Murray played Milosh Petrovitch’s brother, Stephan Petrovitch, modeled on Milosh Sekulich, a Serbian physician who had worked at the Municipal Hospital in Belgrade from 1935 to 1941. Michael Wilding played the guerrilla Constantine. He later starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), The World of Suzie Wong (1960), and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963). He would be married to Elizabeth Taylor from 1952 to 1957. Stanley Baker, who was fourteen years old, made his film debut in Undercover as Petar. He later starred in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951), The Guns of Navarone (1961), and Zulu (1964). Baker turned down the role of James Bond in 1962.

Undercover was made by Ealing Studios in London, which was headed by Sir Michael Balcon. The film was directed by Sergei Nolbandov, a Russian émigré to Britain in the 1920s. Nolbandov had written the screenplay for Fire Over England (1937), which had starred Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and The Four Just Men (1939). He had directed Ships with Wings for Ealing in 1941, which had starred John Clements, Michael Wilding, and Leslie Banks. In 1946, he was a producer for This Modern Time, a series of documentary newsreels. Michael Balcon had produced Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps in 1935. S.C. Balcon was the associate producer. The cinematography was by Wilkie Cooper. Frederic Austin composed the musical score.

Undercover was originally to be called Chetnik and was to be a movie account of the Chetnik resistance movement headed by Draza Mihailovich in German-occupied Yugoslavia. The movie was made by Ealing in collaboration with the Yugoslav-Government-in-Exile and with Dr. Milosh Sekulich (1900-1986), who was a technical advisor on the movie with W.E. Hart. Sekulich had worked on the original story and had written the first draft treatment, entitled “Chetnik”, with George Slocombe and Sergei Nolbandov. This draft was the basis for the movie which would be retiled Undercover and filmed in 1942 in Wales.

Sekulich was a representative of the Yugoslav-Government-in-Exile based in London and was the Yugoslav representative to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRAA). He had been a physician in Belgrade and was the head of a unit for Internal Diseases and Tuberculosis at the Belgrade Municipal Hospital from 1935 to 1941. The character Dr. Stephan Petrovitch was based on his life and career. Sekulich had left Yugoslavia in 1941 and had landed in Britain where he carried a memorandum from the Serbian Orthodox Church and Draza Mihailovich detailing the mass murders, forced religious conversions, and atrocities committed against Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia by the Ustasha regime.

Sekulich fled German-occupied Serbia in September, 1941 intending to bring accounts of the genocide committed against Serbs by Croatians and Bosnian Muslims to the Allies. He first traveled to Turkey and then to Egypt. His circuitous trek took him to Sudan and then the Congo, finally reaching Lagos, Nigeria. From there he went to Portugal, then to Ireland, from where he traveled to his final destination, London. In London, he submitted the Appeals of the Orthodox Church and documentation of the Ustasha genocide and Roman Catholic forced conversions of Orthodox Serbs. He continued to do medical research and published medical treatises, such as The Classification of Pulmonary Tuberculosis (1953) and Tuberculosis, Classification, Pathogenesis and Management (1955), published by Heinemann.

The movie opens with a trumpet fanfare with the title "Yugoslavia Spring 1941" over white blossoms blooming in spring on branches. The period is immediately before the German invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. A voice-over narration presents the history of Yugoslavia.

"For centuries the Yugoslav people have sought and prayed for peace. For centuries peace has been denied them. Generation after generation in our lovely country has known the din of battle, the marching feet of invading armies, the massacre of brave men and women who would never accept defeat. This is our heritage, which has bred in our people their strength and their endurance in the cause of freedom, which led them in the last war to defy the whole might of German arms, which is guiding them now once again maybe to face the same enemy....Yugoslavia has made her choice..." A Serbian schoolteacher gives this narration to her class. She tells them that the Yugoslav government sought to let the Germans walk into the country but that the King had prevented this, pointing to a framed portrait on the wall, a picture of King Peter II. A coup in Belgrade had replaced the regime under the Regent Paul, who had signed a pact wit Germany. Adolf Hitler planned to retaliate by destroying Yugoslavia as a country. The period is days before the Axis invasion when Yugoslavia was preparing for the expected assault. One student in the class, Danilo, played by Terwyn Jones, declares: “Slavs face their enemies.” The school is in Serbia. There is a chalkboard with sentences written in Serbian Cyrillic script.

The teacher is Anna Petrovitch, the wife of Captain Milosh Branko Petrovitch, a Yugoslav army officer who will form a guerrilla army in the mountains of Serbia following the German invasion and occupation. This was a clue that Milosh was modeled on Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrilla movement organized at Ravna Gora. He comes to the school and tells Anna about the preparations for war. By contrast, Josip Broz Tito had been a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army, was taken prisoner by the Russian Army, and had returned to the Balkans as a hardcore Bolshevik and Communist agitator and organizer, whose wife, Pelagija Belousova, was Russian.

Anna, Milosh, and his brother Stephan, meet at a celebration of the 35th wedding anniversary of their parents, with guests shown dancing the Serbian kolo as a violinist plays. A Serbian Orthodox priest, played by Finlay Currie, is shown who gives prayers at the ceremony. The guerrilla leader Milosh crosses himself during the Orthodox prayer given by the priest who is seen wearing a large cross across his chest. This excludes the possibility that the character was based on the Communist, Stalinist, and atheist Josip Broz Tito, the "partisan" leader. This is another clue that Milosh is a fictionalized Draza Mihailovich. Colonel Mihailovich was appointed Major-General on December 7, 1941. In the movie, the Serbian Orthodox priest alludes to this when he says: “Why he’ll be a general one of these days”, when talking to Milosh and Anna.

The movie was filmed in the hills and mountains of Brecon in Wales, which were to simulate the mountains of Ravna Gora and the Serbian countryside. The wedding anniversary is disrupted when German aircraft drop propaganda leaflets during the prayer service: "Yugoslavs, mighty Germany offered you the hand of friendship but your king refused it. You have been betrayed. Do not despair. We are coming to liberate you." The British were accused by Hitler of fomenting and orchestrating the resistance to the pact with Germany.

The bombing of Belgrade followed as buildings and a hospital are struck. Dr. Stephan Petrovitch is shown in the damaged hospital treating the wounded with Dr. Jordan, played by Niall MacGinnis. Dr. Jordan asks sardonically: "An open town, huh?" This is an allusion to the status of Belgrade as an undefended, open city. A baby is heard crying as bombs strike the hospital. The mother of a baby dies.

A destroyed Yugoslav civilian column of refugees is shown with wrecked vehicles, carts, and dead horses. Stephan states that Yugoslavia cannot defeat Germany with “a handful of tanks and practically no air force.” The stationmaster Tosha, played by Ivor Barnard, who was also in The 39 Steps (1935), asked rhetorically: “Shall we fight the Germans or let them walk in?” For the common person, the stationmaster argued, this dilemma made little difference because people advanced through “influence” and by corruption, not through merit or talent. The stationmaster would later work with the German occupation forces.

After Yugoslavia is occupied by Axis troops, Milosh Petrovitch plans to organize a guerrilla resistance movement. Milosh tells Stephan: “We’re going into the mountains.” Stephan concurred: “To carry on resistance from there.” Milosh tells Stephan to go undercover, to use the cover of the clinic to gather information as “a secret clearinghouse” for the guerrillas: “You’ll take charge of things here in Belgrade.”

German General von Staengel, the Military Governor of German occupied-Yugoslavia, played by Godfrey Tearle, seeks to get the local leaders to help him govern, saying: “I welcome your collaboration”. Factually, Serbia was the only part of Yugoslavia that was under direct German military occupation. The term “Yugoslavia” and “Yugoslav” should more accurately be replaced by “Serbia” and “Serbian”.

The first guerrilla operation occurs after Stephan tells Milosh about the transport of Yugoslav POWs by train. Their mission is to free the prisoners. Using this information, Milosh and his guerrilla forces ambush the train and he shoots Staengel, in a guerrilla attack on the Petrovac train station. The POWs are freed and they join the guerrillas.

Stephan operates on the wounded Staengel at his clinic to remove the bullet, which is lodged an inch from his heart. Staengel recovers from the operation.

Milosh’s father, Kossan Petrovitch, played by Tom Walls, joins the guerrillas. Kossan had fought the Germans in World War I as part of the Serbian Army. His wife Maria was played by Rachel Thomas, who was Mrs. Parry in the 1940 Ealing movie The Proud Valley, which Nolbandov co-produced.

The German Colonel von Brock, played by Robert Harris, advocates a ruthless policy against any resistance to Axis occupation. Brock says: "All Slavs are the same. The only thing they understand is the firing squad." He recounted how he was stationed in Bohemia and witnessed how the Czechs resisted Nazi occupation. Staengel, however, seeks to work with the Yugoslav leaders to end the resistance movement. Stephan tells Staengel: “I’m a realist.” This is his explanation for why he is working with the German administration. Staengel tells him that his brother Milosh is a “romantic playing an outlaw.” He asks Stephan to talk to his father to convert him to “an active collaborator”.

After Staengel is shot, Anna is taken prisoner by German occupation forces and held as a hostage. She is interrogated and beaten to force her to reveal the location of Milosh. A German officer interrogating her says: “Nobody can stand up to us.” Anna replies: “We had other conquerors powerful and as ruthless as you. We beat them in the end.” She is then beaten and struck down unconscious on the floor. She is taken to a room from which she escapes with the help of her student Danilo, who places a ladder on the window. Anna is then reunited with Milosh in the mountains.

Staengel plans to retaliate against the village: “That village needs a lesson.” Colonel von Brock goes to the school and states to the schoolchildren that Yugoslavia must play a role and part “within the New Order”. He accused Danilo of being “a national hero” because he sought to defend his country from foreign occupation and control. Those who resist the Nazis are called "national heroes", nationalists. The designation parallels the label Serbian "nationalists" and "nationalism" used in the 1990s during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Brock demands that the students tell him where Milosh is hiding. They refuse. When asked who helped Anna to escape, Danilo and four other students stand up. Brock tells Danilo: “I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’m going to plant a picture in your mind you’ll carry all your life.” He spares Danilo because he does not want to create a martyr. He selects two other students which are taken to the school courtyard, where a firing squad, made up of German soldiers, executes all six students. This event is an allusion to the October, 1941 Kragujevac Massacre where Serbian schoolchildren were executed in reprisal for guerrilla activity.

Milosh’s father Kossan and his wife Anna demand revenge and retribution for the murder of the six students. Milosh, however, opposes taking revenge, arguing that revenge would only bring “more Germans, more wasted lives, more reprisals.” Instead, “discipline and patience” needed to be stressed. Milosh tells them that “personal feelings” must be discounted in war. Kossan and Anna are infuriated at Milosh. This scene illustrates a dilemma the guerrillas faced. Should they continue attacking German forces that would inevitably result in the loss of civilian life?

Kossan then secretly joins guerrillas in an attempt to blow up a mountain railroad tunnel. He is captured by German troops in this sabotage mission. Staengel tells Stephan to convince his father to be “an active collaborator.” Stephen states that Staengel wants to “blackmail into surrender” his brother. Stephan meets with Milosh and tells him that he plans a suicide mission to blow up the tunnel. Using his cover as Staengel’s “pet quisling”, Stephan plans to plant explosives in the train by hiding them in a suitcase with a timer. Brock places Kossan on the train as a hostage to deter Stephan from taking any action against the train. Stephan hides the bomb in his suitcase in the train and sets the timer. The bomb blows up in the tunnel, destroying the train and the tunnel and killing Stephan and Kossan.

In retaliation, Staengel makes a warning over the radio that German forces will kill “one hundred Yugoslavs for every German.” These measures will be taken “until you have learned wisdom and obedience.”

This sets the stage for the climatic battle between the guerrillas and the German occupation forces in the village.

Staengel cannot send reinforcements from Belgrade because the tunnel was blown up. He can only send Brock’s troops to the village. Milosh reveals that the mission of the guerrillas is to hold Brock’s forces until they receive a message to retreat. The guerrillas receive the radio message with the code word to begin the attack: “Calling Grey Falcon … Calling Grey Falcon … Sunrise … Sunrise.” Milosh declares: “Our offensive’s begun.” The guerrillas engage German troops in a pitched battle in the village. The guerrillas blow up a bridge. When the radio battery dies, Constantine runs out and takes one from a destroyed German truck, but is fatally wounded in the attempt. The battery is placed in the radio. They then receive the message “Sunset”, which is code that the mission is over and that they should retreat. When Brock and the other German officers enter the abandoned house in the village, Milosh blows up the building using a remote detonation device, killing all inside.

The closing voice-over is heard as images of Milosh and the guerrillas are shown: "In towns and hamlets they fight on from the mountains they sweep down on their enemies and back to the mountains they return waiting for the next battle, waiting for the day when with their allies from the free world they will drive the enemy from their soil forever."

The guerrillas are shown climbing, in a long column of men, the mountain terrain of Yugoslavia from where they will launch future attacks on the German troops.

The words “The End” appear over a streaming British Union Jack flag followed by the words "A British Picture".

The screenplay was by John Dighton and Monja Danischewsky, a Russian emigre. Dighton would be nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplays for the Ealing movie The Man in the White Suit (1951) starring Alec Guinness and for Paramount’s classic Roman Holiday (1953), starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and Eddie Albert. He won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy for Roman Holiday.

The script was based on the original treatment by Sekulich, Slocombe, and Nolbandov, but with references to Draza Mihailovich and the Chetniks deleted. The result was a generic and fictionalized account to reflect the changing political situation. The British government was moving to abandon support for Mihailovich and to switch support to the Communist and Stalinist Tito. After the conclusion of the Teheran Conference on December 2, 1943, the decision was made by Britain to break off contact with Draza Mihailovich and to back the Communist partisan forces under Tito.

The final released version of the movie retained the overall plot structure based on the original story, “Chetnik”, recounting the guerrilla operations of Draza Mihailovich and the Chetniks, but omitted and deleted any references to “Draza Mihailovich” or the “Chetniks”. The resistance fighters were referred to as simply “guerrillas”. The terms “partisans”, “Tito”, or “Communist” and “Communists” also do not appear anywhere in the movie. The title of the movie was changed from Chetnik to Undercover. The movie was also re-edited to delete any references to Draza Mihailovich and the Chetniks. Nevertheless, not all references to the Chetnik guerrillas were able to be deleted. For example, the guerrillas are shown wearing the black shubara-style Chetnik hat with a skull and crossbones insignia, which was worn by Chetnik guerrillas, with the words “Sloboda ili Smrt”, “Liberty or Death”. Moreover, the background scenario presented in the movie for Captain Milosh Petrovitch can only apply to Draza Mihailovich. Milosh is only a thinly disguised Mihailovich. This is because the movie was originally planned as a film version of the life and career of Draza Mihailovich.

Undercover remains an important World War II movie on the resistance movement in Yugoslavia and in Serbia. The movie shows how the perception of the role of Draza Mihailovich and the Chetnik guerrillas in the resistance movement was altered and manipulated to reflect and to accommodate the political machinations and maneuverings of that time. Nevertheless, Undercover is an invaluable film account of the Serbian resistance movement led by Draza Mihalovich and the Chetnik guerrillas, even though presented in a generic and fictionalized account.

Carl Savich


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

Ekskluzivno: Draža Mihailović na strašnom sudu

Press Online Republic of Serbia

June 21, 2009

Veljko Lalić

U holivudskoj produkciji Raše Draškovića (dobitnika četiri Emija) Božidar Zečević upravo završava poslednje kadrove igrano- dokumentarnog filma o Draži Mihailoviću. Pressmagazin dobio ekskluzivno pravo da prvi prenese najzanimljivije delove.

Priču treba ispričati.

"Oduševljen sam „Suđenjem stoleća", zato što je to jedinstven projekat. Kroz prizmu ove sudske drame može se sagledati istorija. Dramatična je, napeta, ali pre svega istinita. Kao producent dokumentarnih televizijskih filmova i serija pre svega tražim priču. A ovu priču treba ispričati," rekao je u izjavi za Press producent serije Raša Drašković.

Draža Mihailović je govorio bez besedničke poze, bez ikakve srdžbe na svoje protivnike i lične neprijatelje, tečno i detaljno. Bio je pred nama vojnik po profesiji, koji u svojoj punoj jednostavnosti daje svoj dnevni izveštaj. Pokazivao je puno poštovanje prema sudu i puno praštanje prema gomili. Zato se za sve ovo vreme nije čulo njeno urlanje. Slušala je odbranu u punoj tišini. Svoju reč završio je oko pola noći, precizno i dostojanstveno. I sve dok reč nije prestala, grobna tišina vladala je u sudskoj sali, javio je 15. jula 1946. godine dopisnik londonskog „Tajmsa" sa suđenja vođi Jugoslovenske vojske u otadžbini Draži Mihailoviću.Dražinu završnu reč, koja je toliko fascinirala britanskog novinara, uskoro ćemo moći prvi put da čujemo u ekskluzivnom filmu „Suđenje stoleća - proces Draži Mihailoviću", jednog od naših napoznatijih režisera dokumentarnih filmova Božidara Zečevića. I to zahvaljujući Staljinu, koji je tražio od svog omiljenog snimatelja Blaškova da mu snimi čitav proces u Beogradu.

Osim ovih ekskluzivnih snimaka, Pressmagazin je dobio pravo da zaviri i u ostale nepoznate dokumente - američki film iz Pranjana, šokantni dokument sa Stenforda o pregovorima da se krajem 1944. nemačka armija na Balkanu preda Amerikancima i četnicima (!!!), dokaz da je Tito iza imao paravan odakle je uživo mogao da prati ispitivanje svog najvećeg neprijatelja...

Vihor svetski odneo je Dražu i njegov rad...

General Mihailović bio je slomljen do pojave advokata Joksimovića,

tada počinje odlučna odbrana koju, zahvaljujući Staljinovim snimcima

iz Moskve (kaiš gore), vidimo prvi put

Ali... najveće dostignuće su, ipak, posle toliko godina spojeni ton i zvuk, kao neoboriv dokaz koliko se svih ovih godina proces stoleća brutalno falsifikovao. Kada se film bude prikazao na malim ekranima, čitava Srbija prvi put će moći da čuje Dražu, da čuje Minića, da čuje žamor publike, njihova psovanja, urlike. Sve deluje arhaično, njihovi glasovi, njihovi čudni akcenti. Ali, baš kao što piše „Tajms", u sudnici je grobna tišina dok Draža iznosi završnu reč. Sudije gledaju u pod. Svi osim Minića. Draža Mihailović govori poslednji put:

"Našao sam se u vrtlogu događaja i smernica... Ostao sam ipak samo vojnik. Ubeđen da narod treba da da svoju reč na kraju. Ubeđen sam bio da sam na pravom putu i pozivao novinare celog sveta i tražio misiju Crvene armije. Sudbina je bila nemilosrdna prema meni, kad me je bacila u ovakav vihor, najteži mogući koji može jednoga čoveka snaći. Mnogo sam hteo, mnogo započeo, ali vihor svetski odneo je mene i moj rad".

Ovim rečima počinje film Božidara Zečevića, koji on naziva krunom svoje karijere. Pokazuje nam trejler, koji u produkciji holivudskog producenta Raše Draškovića (dobitnika četiri Emija) upravo završava za kanal Histori pod naslovom "Poslednja neispričana priča Drugog svetskog rata".

"Vrlo je važan američki ugao. Amerikanci su bili i ostali poslednji Dražin saveznik. Ruzveltova smrt, dolazak Trumana, leva opcija u Stejtu, hiljade su razloga zašto mu nisu pomogli u poslednjem trenutku, ali ga nisu ni izdali kao Englezi," priča Božidar Zečević.

On tvrdi da se u filmu ne bavi ni idelogijom ni politikom. - Samo dokumenti - kaže čovek koji je devedesetih na RTS-u probio led čuvenim dokumentarcem „Jugoslavija u ratu 1941-1945." Od tada i datira njegovo interesovanje za Mihailovića, za koga se definitivno zainteresovao posle serije o 27. martu, koju je pre nekoliko godina gledalo dva miliona ljudi.

"Tada sam shvatio da ljude zanimaju neispričane priče. A Mihailović je najveća," kaže Zečević, koji je igrom slučaja u Americi odmah pronašao Dražu na filmskoj traci. Selo Pranjani, 6. septembra 1944. godine. Američka delegacija, na čelu sa pukovnikom Robertom Mekdauelom i kapetanom Nikom Lalićem, predvodi najveću akciju spasavanja američkih pilota u Drugom svetskom ratu. Operacija „Halijard" uredno je snimljena.

A onda i veliki poklon - kompletan snimak suđenja nalazi se u Moskvi. U odličnom je stanju, rađen lično za Staljina, koji je Zečević pronašao posle 60 godina. Tako ćemo, ironijom sudbine, istinu o Draži saznati zahvaljujući drugom najvećem Titovom neprijatelju - Staljinu.

I, naravno, Božidaru Zečeviću, koji je posle pet godina konačno uspeo da spoji ton i sliku sa svojim saradnicima i ekspertima za čitanje s usana. Mada su i tu imali problema, jer se oko tonskog zapisa tuže Radio Beograd i porodica profesora s Muzičke akademije, koji je jedini tajno snimio proces.

Ali, u filmu će se prvi put videti i šokantni dokumenti. Pre svih, izveštaj Roberta Mekdauela o pregovorima o predaji kompletne nemačke armije na Balkanu 1944. godine.

- To je šokantan papir koji pokazuje da se rat mogao završiti devet meseci ranije. To je 800.000 vojnika koji je trebalo da se predaju, kako je Mekdauel tražio, „savezničkom komandantu na ovom terenu Draži Mihailoviću".

Ovaj dokument je važan i za eventualnu rehabilitaciju Mihailovića, jer je na suđenju kao ključni argument njegove saradnje s Nemcima navođen navodni sastanak sa Rudolfom Štrekerom u Pranjanima.

'General Mihailović nije nikako želeo ma kakav dodir s Nemcima, ali je na moje navaljivanje pristao da Štreker dođe', navodi Mekdauel, koji je o nemačkoj ponudi da se predaju Amerikancima, pre nego što Rusi uđu iz Bugarske i Rumunije, obavestio centralu u Kazerti, Kairu i Vašingtonu.

"Koliko je sve bilo blizu, svedoči podatak da je komanda iz Kazerte ponudila 600 padobranaca kako bi pomogli Mihailovića da preuzme nemački ratni materijal. Dakle rat je mogao da se završi devet meseci ranije, baš kao 1918, kada je probijen Solunski front, a Jugoslaviju bi preuzela Amerika i pobednička vojska generala Mihailovića. Sve je to sprečio Čerčil, koji je zahtevao da se prekinu pregovori i da se Mekdauel izvede pred vojni sud zbog prekoračenja ovlašćenja. Zahtevao je da se pregovori nastave zajedno s Rusima i Englezima, što su Nemci odbili i nastavili da se biju narednih devet meseci," priča Zečević.

On zato tvrdi da će film oboriti i ključnu tačku optužnice protiv generala Mihailovića, jer više nema nijednog dokaza o Dražinoj navodnoj saradnji s Nemcima.

Posle pogubljenja Mihailovića, na suđenjima u Beogradu pojavili su se i neki od vodećih nemačkih predstavnika. Ali ga niko nije osudio. U decembru 1946, pred sudom se našao Franc Nojbaher, bivši generalni opunomoćenik za Balkan.

'Kao šef nemačke privrede u okupiranoj Srbiji odlučno i odgovorno izjavljujem da mi partizane i komuniste nismo ni osećali. Ako su naša skladišta bila stalno napadana, to je bila krivica Mihailovićevih ljudi, a ne partizana,' rekao je Nojbaher.

'Vi niste samo ratni zločinac, nego i bitanga,' bio je očajan tužilac.

Šef Gestapoa za Srbiju, pukovnik Vilijam Fuks, rekao je na suđenju u Beogradu 'da je Gestapo Mihailovića uvek smatrao za neprijatelja broj jedan'.

Adolf Hitler uvek je smatrao srpske nacionaliste najvećim neprijateljem na Balkanu. Čak i pri kraju, 22. avgusta 1944, Hitler je feldmaršalu Maksimilijanu fon Vajhsu i Hermanu Nojbaheru, očigledno saznavši za nameru da se predaju Amerikancima, naglasio da 'razume se, nema pomena o davanju oružja četnicima', i podvukao da Nemačka mora 'odlučno da se odupre svakom planu za stvaranje velike Srbije'.

General Albert Jodl izneo je Hitlerove poglede: 'Srpska vojska ne sme da postoji. Čak je bolje izložiti se izvesnoj opasnosti od komunizma'.

I to se upravo i desilo, kako prikazuje u filmu Božidar Zečević. Na trejleru koji posmatramo vidimo kako je Topčider bukvalno pretvoren u kopiju Moskovskih procesa na kojima je Staljin osudio sovjetske vođe. Puna sudnica, strani novinari, čak i Minić gestikulira kao ruski tužioci. I najvažnija stvar - svi optuženi govorili su protiv sebe, kao na primer Buharin, koga je Lenjin najavljivao kao „budućnost Sovjeta". Onda je vodeći teoretičar marksizma usred sudnice izgovorio:

"Mi smo svi izdajnici. Mi smo kulake pobunili. Mi smo spremali belogardejski ustanak. Slažem se s drugom tužiocem. Zaslužio sam najstrožu kaznu. Moji zločini su nečuveni".

Kad je slomljen ovaj tvrdi boljševik, šta li je tek čekalo Dražu. Profesor Radoje Vukčević u studiji „Na strašnom sudu" tvrdi da je reč o narkotiku meskalinu, što potkrepljuje Dražinim rečenicama sa suđenja: 'Ja ne znam šta je sa mnom. Često hoću da kažem ne, a ja kažem jeste'.

Božidar Zečević sada dolazi do sličnog zaključka, iako se fizičke torture ne mogu lako dokazati.

"Draža je bio slomljen čovek. On je jedva preživeo tifus, mučen je na razne načine, vidi se njegova podbulost, bezvoljnost. Slomljen je fizički, ali i psihički. On je napušten od svih - od kralja, od žene, dece, svojih komandanata. Svi koji su mogli da ga izdaju, izdali su ga. I onda se odjednom pojavio advokat Dragić Joksimović, koji ga je trgnuo. Koji je promenio istoriju Srbije. I zato pravi junak mog filma nije Draža već Dragić Joksimović," govori Zečević.

'Generale, neće vas pustiti. Sada će ubiti i mene i vas. Šta god da uradite, ubiće vas. Možete samo časno da umrete, da odbranite svoju vojničku zakletvu i reč', rekao je Joksimović negde na pola suđenja, koje je trajalo od 10. juna do 15. jula. Od tog trenutka Draža je počeo svoju odbranu. I to će se jasno videti na snimcima.

"Joksimović je bio neukaljana politička figura Demokratske stranke. On je odbijao da brani Dražu, dok ga on sam nije zamolio. Na kraju je održao taj veliki govor, koji zaslužuje da bude u svim udžbenicima. U tom govoru nalazi se sva ljudska drama, zbog koje je Tito dan kasnije javno tražio odmazdu. Uhapsili su ga jer je na nekoj slavi slušao Radio London i ubili ga u zatvoru. Ali ni tu nije bio kraj, ostavili su ga u dvorištu zatvora da „odleži kaznu", a na kraju i pohapsili ljude koji su mu došli na pogreb posle dve godine. Taj čovek je moj heroj, jer na neki način njegova sudbina prati i mene od kad sam se uključio u ovaj projekat. Ali znam koliko je važan i znam da ću da ga završim. Mogu samo da me ubiju. Kao Joksimovića i Dražu," jasan je Božidar Zečević.


Gorski car srpskog naroda Iz završne reči branioca Dragića Joksimovića, 15. jula 1946:

...Svih sedam dokumenata koje sam ovde citirao objavio je „Službeni list" ove zemlje od 9. marta 1945. i predstavljaju nepobitne i nesumjnive dokaze da je jugoslovenska Kraljevska vlada u Londonu sve do 7. marta 1945. godine bila jedina legalna i od saveznika jedina priznata vlada Jugoslavije. Od 17. aprila 1941. godine do 5. avgusta 1944. godine Dragoljub Mihailović bio je njen ovlašćeni ministar i organ u Srbiji. Sve što je optuženi Mihailović radio i uradio za vreme okupacije, radio je po naredbama i uputstvima ove vlade, a sve što je radila i uradila ta vlada, mogla je raditi i uraditi sa znanjem i odobrenjem naših zapadnih saveznika. Jugoslovenska vojska u otadžbini, kojom je Mihailović do kraja rata komandovao, bila je legalna vojska ove vlade, a sa pravne tačke gledišta partizanska organizacija imala se smatrati kao - ilegalna organizacija...

...Nameće se pitanje da li se stav optuženog Mihailovića prema NOP može nazvati izdajom? Ja bih mogao da se složim sa optužnicom da je skroz pogrešno i neopravdano mišljenje nemačko-fašističkog napadača kada je narodnooslobodilački pokret Jugoslavije okvalifikovan kao obična pobunjenička banda...

(negodovanje u sali)

...Akcija Mihailovića bila je uperena na kršenje i lomljenje jedne protivničke organizacije čiji su ciljevi, prema njegovom mišljenju, bili ne samo štetni, nego i opasni za postojeće društveno stanje koje je on želeo održati...

...Osim toga, treba da se zna i da ovde ostane zabeleženo: glavni cilj generala Mihailovića je bio sačuvati Srbiju...

...Neustrašivi borac i čovečni zaštitnik - to je pravi lik njegov za sve vreme. Bilo to kome krivo danas ili ne, general Mihailović je suvereno gospodario selima, dolinama i planinama Srbije i zaista je bio gorski car srpskog naroda!

(psovke, urlanja, ciča u sali)

Josip Broz Tito, protiv branioca Joksimovića, na Cetinju, 16. jula 1946:

...Evo, na primer, branilac na procesu optuženog Draže Mihailovića, koji je, čini mi se, član Demokratske partije, pogledajte njegovo mišljenje, njegovu ideologiju...

...Branili su Dražu i drugi, ali on ga nije branio sa pravilnog stanovišta. Iz njegove odbrane izdaje izbija neodoljiva mržnja prema narodu. Branio ga je sa duboko nenarodnog stanovišta. Draža je, kaže taj takozvani branilac, imao pravo, jer je postojala takozvana zakonita vlada u Londonu...

...To je ideologija ne samo branioca Joksimovića, nego i drugih Joksimovića, koji se kriju pod demokratskim plaštom. Kad danas vidimo da se oni ne žacaju da o toj izdaji govore kao o nečem zakonitom, onda nam je isto tako jasno i nešto drugo: da mi ne možemo imati samilosti prema takvim ljudima!


Svi su ga izdali

"Draža je bio slomljen čovek. On je jedva preživeo tifus, mučen je na razne načine, vidi se njegova podbulost, bezvoljnost. Slomljen je fizički, ali i psihički. On je napušten od svih - od kralja, od žene, dece, svojih komandanata. Svi koji su mogli da ga izdaju, izdali su ga. I onda se pojavio advokat Dragić Joksimović, koji ga je trgnuo. Koji je promenio čitavu istoriju Srbije. I zato pravi junak mog filma nije Draža, već Dragić Joksimović."

Bozidar Zecevic


Priču treba ispričati

"Oduševljen sam „Suđenjem stoleća", zato što je to jedinstven projekat. Kroz prizmu ove sudske drame može se sagledati istorija. Dramatična je, napeta, ali pre svega istinita. Kao producent dokumentarnih televizijskih filmova i serija pre svega tražim priču. A ovu priču treba ispričati," rekao je u izjavi za Press producent serije Raša Drašković.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Special Screening of General Mihailovich live on film at his Trial in Belgrade at the Serbian National Defense Vidovdan Celebration June 28, 2009!

Presented to the public for the first time ever -
do not miss this Event!

Milan Raseta / Chetnik Rebel who fought Germans in World War II // Nov. 21, 1920 - June 16, 2009

Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

By Torsten Ove

June 24, 2009

Milan Raseta, who served with the Chetnik rebels in occupied Yugoslavia in World War II and then made a life for himself in Duquesne and North Huntingdon as a state employee, was interred Saturday at a McKeesport mausoleum.

He died on June 16 at a hospital in Clearwater, Fla., north of his retirement home in Seminole. He was 88.

Mr. Raseta came to America after the war with $5 in his pocket, he told his friends.

He settled in Duquesne as a laborer and became editor of the Serb National Federation newspaper before taking a job at the state's Bureau of Corporation Taxes in the 1970s, where he stayed until his retirement in 1985.

He also sang for 28 years with the chorus of the Pittsburgh Opera, where he met his wife, Marian, in the 1970s.

They married in 1979 and split their time between North Huntingdon and their Florida residence.

Born in 1920 in Lika, a mountainous region in Yugoslavia that is now part of Croatia, Mr. Raseta was proud of his Serbian heritage.

When refugees from the Balkans conflict came to Pittsburgh in the early 1990s, he took some of them in and helped many others assimilate with the aide of fellow Serbs at the two Serbian Orthodox churches he regularly attended, St. Sava in McKeesport and St. Nicholas in Monroeville.

"He was great big bear of a man (6-feet-4, 250 pounds)," said John G. Wuchenich, 73, of Whitehall, who sang with Mr. Raseta at the opera for 20 years. "But as big as he was, that's as soft as his heart was."

Like many veterans, however, he was quiet about his life in the old country and his service in the war, where as a teenager he became a guerilla fighter against the occupying Germans.

He told a few friends and his wife of his exploits with the Chetniks under Gen. Draza Mihailovich in the western part of Yugoslavia, but only in bits and pieces. Friends wanted him to write it all down in one narrative, but he never did.

"He was a rather private gentleman," said Mr. Wuchenich. "He was very difficult to get anything out of."

The details are sketchy, but after several years of fighting, Mr. Raseta and other young warriors were captured by the Germans near their home village and lashed together in pairs to dig what the Germans told them would be latrines.

As Mr. Raseta worked, he told Mr. Wuchenich, he realized he was digging his own grave.

He said he used the shovel to cut the wire binding him to his partner. He asked the other man to come with him, but he wouldn't, so Mr. Raseta fled alone into the hills. All of the other young men, he learned later, were slaughtered.

Mr. Raseta returned to the field to fight and later saw action with the British in Norway in 1944. After the war, said his friend, Mike Vranesevic, 60, of Irwin, the British offered to return him to his homeland, but Marshall Tito and the communists had taken over in Yugoslavia and it was no place to go.

So, like many other Europeans after the war, he opted to come to America, traveling to New York and ending up with a Serbian enclave in East Pittsburgh.

He took construction jobs initially, then moved to Duquesne in 1947 and worked at the Serb National Federation throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He edited the newspaper for many years and kept up on the issues in the Serbian community here and abroad. He also served as president of the Duquesne lodge of the Serb National Federation.

"He was a man of intellect," said George Klipa, 50, of Trafford, whose father knew Mr. Raseta well. "You could tell he had a lot on the ball."

But he also was blunt-spoken and not one to be intimidated. He carried a gun and used it at least once.

Prior to a chorus rehearsal on a dark winter night in East Liberty in the 1970s, three men with knives tried to mug him on the street. As he told the story to Mr. Wuchenich, he pulled his pistol and faced them down.

"Maybe you guys are gonna take me," he said, "but before I go, at least one of you is going to go. Which one of you is it going to be?"

The bandits ran off.

"He was a man's man," said Mr. Klipa.

Despite his passion for all things Serbian, Mr. Raseta left the federation in 1972 after an internal dispute there and went to work for the state for the next 13 years.

In his spare time, he devoted himself to the church in McKeesport and the opera chorus, where he had a reputation as a good singer and a man of dry wit and strong opinions.

But the war?

"He was quiet about that, like a lot of those Chetniks," said Mr. Klipa. "He was a humble guy."

Mr. Raseta was interred in a mausoleum at McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery. His family asked that any memorial contributions be made to the St. Sava Church Renovation Fund.


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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reporter Jennifer Boresz wins local Award for Halyard Mission story

Pictured are OSS Radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian in the white shirt, U.S. Airmen Curtis "Bud" Diles in the dark blue, short sleeved shirt, U.S. Airman Carl Walpusk in the uniform, and U.S. Airman Clare Musgrove in the white shirt, blue jacket. Jennifer Boresz is the interviewer and pictured with Arthur Jibilian and the airmen, holding the old "American Serb Life" magazine from 1948, is Milana "Mim" Bizic. The photos at the Yankee Air Museum were taken on June 23rd and 24th, 2008. The photos of Jennifer Boresz and her Emmy award were taken in June of 2009. All photos courtesy of Milana Bizic at "Serbian History 101".

Congratulations to Ohio reporter Jennifer Boresz who this June of 2009 has just won First Place in the Best Feature Reporting category through the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters awards for her July 2008 human interest story on the American veterans rescued by Serbia's General Draza Mihailovich during the WWII Halyard Mission rescue operation of 1944. The following is the July 2008 feature for which she received her First Place award. She has also been nominated for the local Emmy awards for the same story, and the winners will be announced in September of this year. The link to WTOL online will provide a video and photo slide show well worth looking at.

Local airmen share little known WWII survival and rescue story

July 4, 2008

By Jennifer Boresz

YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN (WTOL) - As we celebrate Independence Day, four veterans of World War II want to thank those who kept them safe in enemy territory years ago.

They were recently reunited at the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti thanks to the Experimental Aircraft Association.

News 11's Jennifer Boresz was there and has their story.


These men are called the 'Forgotten 500' in a published book. As more and more people hear the story, however, they're hoping the daring rescue mission and the men behind it will never be forgotten again.

"When they said pull that rip cord, I started to pull the ripcord like a lawnmower. It came up and came out in my hand. Then I thought, 'Now what do I do with this?,'" Curtis Diles, a WWII veteran from Dayton tells News 11.

More than 60 years have passed since these U.S. airmen parachuted out of a plane into hostile territory.

Clare Musgrove of St. Joseph, Michigan tells us, "I had the ripcord in my hand, and I was freefalling. I immediately tried to get into my pack and get the pilot chute' out. When I did, it made a much larger chute,' and my flight afterwards was OK."

Their mission was to bomb a German oil field.

"We bombed Ploesti, so the Germans would be penalized for their lack of gasoline. But we paid one terrible price for that because the Germans knew what altitude we would come in," says Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian from Fremont. "They knew the formation we would come in. They had us zeroed in perfectly, and we were like sitting ducks."

For many of these men, the mission was never finished. They died when their planes crashed into the treacherous mountains in the Balkans of Yugoslavia. For the others, they were parachuting into the unknown.

Musgrove tells us, "On my way down, I saw a flock of sheep. When there's a flock of sheep, there's usually people around it. So I made up my mind that when I get down without being injured, that's where I was gonna head."

They landed in German-occupied Serbia, but got help from Serbian resistance fighters led by General Draza Mihailovich, U.S. and British ally.

"Those people had it pretty dog gone rough, and didn't have much to give. But they gave," Carl Walpusk of Moon Twp., Pennsylvania says.

Those Serbians kept the U.S. airmen safe for weeks until the U.S. government got word of the 50 downed soldiers in Yugoslavia. The United States sent in OSS agents on a daring rescue mission known as Operation Halyard.

Fremont's Jibby was one of those men who risked his life. "They asked if I would go as a radioman," he explains, "There wasn't even a heartbeat, and I said certainly."

When he got there, he found not 50 airmen but 250. And the number was growing. "We stayed. What started to be a ten-day mission... we were there for almost six months and brought 500 airmen in."

One-by-one C47s landed on a makeshift runway that the Americans and Serbs built by hand. "We were so pleased that these planes were coming in," Musgrove explains, "This is what we had worked so hard for... getting the airstrip built. It made us so happy."

But when they returned to America, the government said they couldn't share their incredible story. "We weren't supposed to tell them how we got out. I think they wanted to keep that a secret," Walpusk says.

These veterans feel the U.S. didn't give General Mihailovich credit for helping them. By the time the rescue happened, the U.S. and Britain had abandoned Mihailovich as an ally. They say false information was given that he was a traitor and collaborating with the Germans. The U.S. and Britain began siding with communist leader General Josip Tito instead.

Jibby explains, "I don't know why the state department will not admit they made a mistake, that they abandoned Mihailovich. He was voted Man of the Year in 1941 in Time Magazine and hailed as a hero. Then they turned around and called him a collaborator simply to justify favoring Tito."

When the war ended they say Tito put Mihailovich on trial, quickly found him guilty and executed him by firing squad.

The hundreds of rescued airmen were devastated that they couldn't testify at the trial.

"The only thing we ever wanted was to acknowledge that he did help us," Jibby says, "That the Serbian peopled helped us. That he was not a traitor. That we made a mistake in backing Tito. We backed the wrong man."

In 2005 Jibby, Musgrove and a few other airmen presented Mihailovich's daughter with the Legion of Merit. It was awarded posthumously to her father by President Harry Truman.

Jibby tells News 11's Jennifer Boresz, "I just want to say it's great being together with these guys again, and I wish the whole 500 were here today."


Many thanks to you, Jennifer, for caring about this story and congratulations on the well deserved award for your fine reporting!


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