The famous bridge over the Drina River in Visegrad, Bosnia
Photo: Creative Commons
Aleksandra's note: As we await with great anticipation the official rehabilitation of General Draza Mihailovich we are reminded that on this day, March 13th, in 1946, the Yugoslav communist special security agents (OZNA) loyal to Marshal Josip Broz Tito finally captured the great General in the village of Drazevina near Visegrad in Bosnia. A short time later they publicly announced his capture and their intention to place him on trial for War Crimes and High Treason. He was imprisoned in Belgrade, Serbia to await the trial that would begin on June 10th the same year. Those who are familiar with the life story of this great man know how it all turned out. It is my belief that General Mihailovich, on this day in March of 1946 already knew how it would all turn out - that he was a dead man walking. But perhaps he continued to retain hope until the very end. There was good reason for hope.
In Patriot or Traitor: The Case of General Mihailovich, historian David Martin describes what happened upon news of the General's capture:
"When General Draza Mihailovich was captured by a specially trained Communist unit in March of 1946 and it was announced that he would be brought to trial on charges of treason, a nationwide citizens' movement began in America which engaged in a desperate effort to seek justice for Mihailovich. The movement reached from grass-roots level to the clergy, union leaders and community organizations, to the halls of Congress and the editorial sanctums of the nation's major newspapers.
"At the heart of the entire effort and coordinating activities on a national plane was the "Committee for a Fair Trail for Draza Mihailovich". Working independently but directly under its auspices was the "Commission of Inquiry"...Paralleling these two efforts was that of the "National Committee of American Airmen to aid General Mihailovich and the Serbian People", which helped to bring the facts to the American people through hundreds of newspaper articles and interviews."
Just as OSS Radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian of the Halyard Mission rescue operation wondered for the duration of his life "if General Mihailovich ever knew how hard we tried to help him", I wonder the same.
It is my hope that General Mihailovich never lost his hope. It is my hope that despite all that the Yugoslav Communists and their disciples did to make sure that all outside efforts to exonerate Mihailovich would never see the light of day in Belgrade, somehow the General was aware of those efforts and that this awareness filled his heart with optimism. At the very least I hope he did indeed know, regardless of the outcome, how much he was loved and appreciated, both in his homeland and throughout the freedom-loving world.
Like him, many of those who fought so hard on his behalf are gone now. And like him, their legacies live on in all of us who have continued to fight the good fight and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.
Note: The next Mihailovich Rehabilitation hearing is set for March 23, 2012 in Belgrade, Serbia.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org