General Mihailovich was executed by the communists in Belgrade, Serbia on July 17, 1946 after one of the phoniest trials in the history of mankind and officially declared "persona non grata" based on the manufactured conviction that he was a "Nazi collaborator".
Had the Nazis been allowed to testify at this trial, and that includes Adolf Hitler himself had he been present, they would have explained to the communists that Mihailovich was the enemy and remained the enemy for the duration of the war. And they would have had no reason whatsoever to lie.
On the other hand, the Yugoslav communists, Tito's partisans, had every reason to lie.
MIHAILOVICH AND THE GERMANS
By David Martin
One year after Moscow had launched its campaign of character assassination against Mihailovic, the bulk of the Allied press was parroting Radio Free Yugoslavia's treatment of Mihailovic. It had downgraded him to the status of a collaborator and was singing paeans to the martial virtues of the Communist side in the Yugoslav civil war. For all practical purposes, by October 1943, Tito had become the monopolistic beneficiary of the greatly augmented allied support that had become logistically possible after the collapse of Italy.
This switch in Allied policy is one of the great mysteries of World War II - all the more so because some thirty-odd British officers and seven American officers who were attached to the Mihailovic forces for quite long periods of time are convinced that a grave injustice was done, and that much of the intelligence that led to the switch was false or exaggerated.
The Communists have made much of the fact that on November 11, 1941, Mihailovic and three of his colleagues met with a German delegation headed by Lt. Col. Kogard, in the town of Divci. According to the Communists, this was the beginning of Mihailovic's collaboration with the Germans.
At his trial in Belgrade in summer of 1946, Mihailovic admitted that he had met with the Germans and said that he had refused their request that he surrender unconditionally. Fortunately, there exists in German war records a stenographic account of this meeting, according to which Mihailovic told Kogard:
"I am neither a communist nor do I work for you. But I have attempted to alleviate and hinder your terror...[the communists] wish to see the greatest possible number of Serbs killed in order to ensure their own later success. No agreement can be made with them. My only purpose [in dealing with them] was to temper their terror, which is as terrible as the German terror. At this moment, innocents are suffering from the terrorist acs of both of you. ... As a soldier, I am not ashamed to be a nationalist. In this capacity I will serve only my people...It is our duty as soldiers not to surrender as long as we can fight. Therefore, you cannot reproach us for not surrendering...I intend to continue the fight against the Communists which began on October 31...we need ammunition. This need brought me here...the Communists have an ammunition factory and ammunition dumps in Uzice. I ask you in the interest of the Serbian people, as well as in your own interest, to supply me, if possible, with ammunition this very night...Otherwise, if I am not given any ammunition, the communists will again obtain sway over Serbia."
To this, Kogard replied that his only instructions were to ask Mihailovic if he was ready to capitulate unconditionally. Obviously disappointed by Kogard's reply, Mihailovic said,"I do not see any sense in your invitation to come to the meeting if this is all you had to say."
Let us consider some other evidence basic to an appreciation of Mihailovic's and the German's attitude toward each other.
Colonel Bailey, an officer of outstanding ability who spoke fluent Serbo-Croat, said in a letter to the editor of the London Times of August 6, 1971, "I do believe that everything must now be done to give Mihailovic his rightful, honourable place in history. He and his Chetniks did more than is generally appreciated for the Allied cause."
An even more impressive appreciation of the role played by Mihailovic - this one from an enemy point of view - was written by General Reinhard Gehlen, head of German military intelligence for Eastern Europe, in a top secret memorandum underscored the truly remarkable success Mihailovic had in rebuilding his organization since his forces were defeated and dispersed by the Germans in December 1941. It read:
"Among the various resistence movements which increasingly cause trouble in the area of the former Yugoslav state, the movement of General Mihailovic remains in the first place with regard to leadership, armament, organization, and activity...the followers of DM come from all classes of the population and at present comprise about 80 percent of the Serbian people. Hoping for the liberation from the 'alien yoke' and for a better new order, and an economical and social new balance, their number is continuously increasing."
There are numerous examples of similar statements by members of the German General staff and, for that matter, by Hitler himself. On February 16, 1943, exactly one week after the date of General Gehlen's memorandum, Hitler wrote to Mussolini, urging the Italians to terminate their accommodations with certain Chetnik commanders in peripheral areas.
Intercepts did indeed exist, proving the existence of temporary regional understandings between the Germans and the border areas where Partisan and Mihailovic forces confronted each other. (In Serbia proper, where Mihailovic's strength was overwhelming, and where the home army did not have to fight a war of survival against the unrelenting attacks of Partisan armies, accommodations with the Germans were a minor rarity.) But it is impossible to establish the relative significance of these intercepts without at the same time considering the unequivocal statements repeatedly made by Hitler and his senior staff officers.
Six weeks after the Gehlen memorandum was written, there took place an incident that throws a new light on the charge that Mihailovic was collaborating with the enemy. In March 1943, Tito sent to the HQ of the German commander in Chief at Sarajevo a delegation consisting of Milovan Djilas, General Koca Popovic, and Dr. Vladimir Velebit, three of the top leaders of the Tito movement. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to arrange for a prisoner exchange. The three Partisan leaders were subsequently flown by a special German military plane to Zagreb, where the discussions were continued. Walter Roberts, who discovered this interesting documentation in German Military archives, summarized as follows:
"The Partisan delegation stressed that the Partisans saw no reason for fighting the German army - they added that they fought against the Germans only in self defense - but wished solely to fight the Cetniks...That they would fight the British should the latter land in Yugoslavia...inasmuch as they wanted to concentrate on fighting the Chetniks, they wished to suggest respective territories of interest."
The agreement was finally vetoed by Ribbentrop at the end of March, even though Kasche, the German minister in Zagreb, argued passionately that the agreement was to the German's advantage, and that "in all of the negotiations with the Partisans to date, the reliability of Tito's promises had been confirmed."
Kasche's language obviously implied that he was speaking not of one or two prior agreements, but at least three or four - or more, and the question naturally arises: If the Mihailovic forces were regarded as allies of the Germans, why should the Germans have entered into written agreements with the Partisans directed against these forces?
According to professor Mark Wheeler, rumors of the Partisan-Nazi talks quickly reached Mihailovic, though the scope of the agenda was unknown to him at the time. Within ten days of the meeting, Col. Bailey, who had taken over from Hudson as chief of the British mission to Mihailovic months earlier, signaled SOE Cairo with the news. However, this news of Partisan-German collaboration seems never to have reached London. Nor does London appear to have recieved the many references to Partisan initiatives in waging civil war that figured in the dispatches of the BLO's with Mihailovic. At least, there is no reference to those matters in either Hinsley's or Foot's histories, or in the Foreign Office files.
As late as August 22, 1944, Hitler displayed his unrelenting hostility toward Mihailovic. On that date he warned Hermann Neubacher, his representative in Belgrade, and Field Marshall Maximilian von Weichs that "the armament of the Chetniks is out of the question." General Albert Jodl summarized Hitler's point of view as follows: "A Serbian army must not be allowed to exist. It is better to have some danger from Communism."
According to Mihailovic's statement at his trial, he had one further meeting, in November 1944, with Herr Starker, who represented Neubacher. Starker said that they had received a report that Mihailovic wished to place himself at the service of the Germans. He asked whether this was true. To this, Mihailovic replied:
"We were and still are enemies. It is a sad coincidence that I am, like you, fighting against the Partisans. This is a sad coincidence that I regret."
Web of Disinformation
By David Martin
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