Aleksandra's Note: This year, 2016, will mark the 70th anniversary of the martyrdom of Serbian legend General Draza Mihailovich. There have been many testimonies over the last 70 years that accurately reflect who the General was as both military commander and as a man. Due to the vast institutionalization of communist propaganda over the course of these same seven decades, the truth has had to fight its way to the light. But "Truth" does, and always will, prevail. That is the nature of God's justice, and God's justice will always be the final word.
There will undoubtedly be many reflections on who General Mihailovich was as we near the 70th anniversary of his execution at the hands of the Yugoslav communists in July of 1946. For me, the best and most honest testimonies have come from the men of integrity who had the honor of crossing the General's path, even for a short time, during the WWII years, and who lived to tell the story. Their "Truth" is what counts. The recollections of Captain Walter Mansfield of the First American Mission to Mihailovich in WWII is just one of the many moving testimonies that speaks to the legacy of Draza Mihailovich.
Why should we care? Because it matters, and General Mihailovich deserves to be remembered for what he lived for, fought for, and died for.
General Draza Mihailovich on Ravna Gora in 1943
"To him we have to be grateful for breaking out of the encirclement. Yes, I might add, and for our lives. If there was no General Mihailovich, I would not be alive today."
Captain Borislav Todorovic (left) and Captain Walter Mansfield / Herzegovina 1944.
Photo courtesy of "The Kingdom of Yugoslavia in WWII"
CAPTAIN WALTER MANSFIELD,
of the FIRST AMERICAN MISSION TO MIHAILOVICH
DURING WORLD WAR TWO
Speech given in Canada in 1953
“There is no nation which would, more than you Serbs, appreciate human freedoms and rights. Not only appreciate, but give everything for them. It happened on Kosovo, the Salonika Front, and Ravna Gora. The first thing that I learned from your brothers in your mountains was 'Freedom or Death.' The great law and ideal for great men and times.
"…I have not many opportunities to meet many great men. One of them is my good and never forgotten Chicha [General Mihailovich]. He will live in my heart as long as I last. I observed him in all conditions, mostly difficult ones. Then one can see better. It made no difference whether the gunpowder was burning the eyes, or death was waiting, or injustice was hurting. He was always great and sincere in victory as well as in defeat. He loved his country, his people, and the cause of freedom, sacrificing himself for the glory of the living...
"Calm, courageous, and resourceful, during all operations from Ivanjica, Drina, Zlatibor, Valjevo and Sabac, he remained always legendary. I remember one night near Rudo, when a battle lasted three hours and the Germans were firing on us from all sides and from the air, Chicha went from one to another, from one part of the battlefield to another, bringing fate and force into our weakened bodies. To him we have to be grateful for breaking out of the encirclement. Yes, I might add, and for our lives. If there was no General I would not be alive today...
"He spared innocent blood and avoided hopeless battles at all cost – although it is always easier to sacrifice others for one’s own glory, or build that glory on thousands of innocent and unneeded graves.
" ‘When the times of a general uprising comes,’ said Chicha, ‘we will give everything for freedom and victory. But, for that day we must be ready so that we can hit harder and win for sure. Before that day arrived they chose Tito. By such an act, they have sinned against God, faithfulness, justice, victory and freedom,’ Chicha declared.
"During the very difficult winter of 1943, together, we were pushing to break out of the Valley of Death. Already the perspective was changing. The BBC glorified a man who had been sent to Yugoslavia to convert the liberation struggle into fratricidal war, and on the ruins of a state to build a Communist ‘Celekula’. [The Turkish Pasha of Nish, in 1809, had ordered that the heads of Serbian insurgents who had tried to liberate a town near Nish be shaved [Cele] and used to erect a tower [kula] as testimony to what happened if Turkish control was challenged in Serbia.] There is no cruel, dishonest, or bestial road that this Red monster did not take to accomplish his task. The naïve Allies, to accommodate Stalin, nurtured a snake in their bosoms.
"On his account fables were converted into history. Other people’s successes into his red feather. We were in Rogatica after Ostojic’s troops won the victory at Visegrad. That same night the BBC gave our victory to Tito and announced that victorious Partisans had entered Rogatica. We, the Yugoslav Army of the Homeland, were in Rogatica. At that time, around the town there was not a single German or a Tito Commie.
"When we parted after a brotherly hug, Chicha was smiling but his eyes were sad. We knew what kind of days were to follow."
Captain Walter Mansfield
of the First American Mission
to Mihailovich in WWII
Speech given in Canada 1953
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