Thursday, February 16, 2017

TESTIMONY of CAPTAIN NICK A. LALICH, O.S.S., of the Halyard Mission Rescue Operation, before the COMMISSION OF INQUIRY [Committee for a Fair Trial for General Mihailovich] New York, May 1946

MR. HAYS:  Did he [General Mihailovich] say why the [Yugoslav] Partisans  were his enemies?
MR HAYS: What did he say about that?
CAPTAIN LALICH:  He said that they had different ideals, that their ideals were communistic and his were democratic, he had democratic processes, and he believed in the things we believed in; and in fact he compared America with his way of life.
From the testimony of Captain Nick A. Lalich before the Commission of Inquiry [Committee for a Fair Trial for General Mihailovich] New  York, May 17, 1946

O.S.S. Radioman for Halyard, Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian (front row, light colored jacket), with American airmen and Captain Nick Lalich (standing behind Jibilian's right shoulder, with cap) and General Draza Mihailovich standing with his hand over his heart, next to Lalich. 1944.
Photo courtesy of Arthur Jibilian.
On May 13, 1946 the Committee for a Fair Trial for General Mihailovich announced that a "Commission of Inquiry" had been established in New York for the purpose of taking testimonies of American officers and airmen whose request to be heard as witnesses at the trial of General Draza Mihailovich in Belgrade, Yugoslavia had been refused by the Tito government.


Committee for a Fair Trial for Draza Mihailovich
Commission of Inquiry in the Matter of Depositions of American and Allied Military Personnel.
New York County Lawyers Association
New York, May 17, 1946
Met pursuant to adjournment
Present: Arthur Garfield Hays, Esq., and Theodore Kiendl, Esq., members of the Commission of Inquiry; Porter R. Chandler, Esq., and William H. Timbers, Esq.

The following is a transcript of the testimony of  
Captain Nick A. Lalich before the Commission of Inquiry, New York, May 17, 1946. The questions presented to Captain A. Lalich are in "red" under "Q" and Captain Lalich's responses are in dark blue under "A".

NICK A. LALICH, called as a witness, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. What is your present residence and occupation, Mr. Lalich?

NICK A. LALICH: A. I am an instructor of industrial arts in the Cleveland school system, Cleveland, Ohio.

Q. You have come from Cleveland voluntarily to testify in this proceeding?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How did you hear about it?

A. I heard it through a telegram wanting to know if I would come to New York to the Commission of Inquiry for the gathering of evidence to be sent to Belgrade, and I positively said I would.

Q. You are testifying voluntarily and freely?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And any testimony you give here you would be glad to repeat in the courts of Yugoslavia?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you serve in the Signal Corps in the last war?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When did you join the Army?

A. I was inducted into the United States Army February 2, 1942, and into the Signal Corps on October 16th of 1943; I joined the Office of Strategic Services [O.S.S.], and I was with them as of that date.

Q. When you joined them were you an enlisted man?

A. I was a second lieutenant.

Q. You later got a promotion to first lieutenant?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you get a promotion to captain?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And went on inactive duty as captain?

A. On reserve.

Q. As of what date?

A. As of December 26, 1945.

Q. You went overseas for OSS?

A. That is correct.

Q. When did you go over?

A. I left the United States December 19, 1943.

Q. And you went to Cairo?

A. Yes, I flew down through the southern route down to Cairo.

Q. And you were then briefed and instructed in Cairo?

A. When I was briefed in Cairo I was asked if I was for Mihailovich or for Tito, and I told them I did not know what they were talking about.

Q. In the briefing you were told you were going to be sent into Yugoslavia?

A. Yes, sir, that was my ultimate destination.

Q. You were instructed in the briefing to be particularly on the lookout for evidence of collaboration by Mihailovich or by Tito?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You went into Yugoslavia where, when and how?

A. I entered Yugoslavia on the night of August 9th, 1944.  I landed by plane in the Pranjani area on the night of August 9, 1944.

Q. When you say you landed you mean that the plane came down?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you did not get out by parachute?

A. No, sir.

Q. That was one of the first planes sent in to evacuate American airmen?

A. That was the first night evacuation.

Q. The plane brought you in?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And took out some American airmen?

A. 48 to be exact.

Q. What were you sent in there for?

A. To help evacuate American airmen and to keep my ears and eyes open and find out where the Germans were located and what positions they were holding. In fact, I was supposed to report that back within two days, bringing back all information on German positions, where they were located, and find out how many more American airmen were left to be evacuated.

Q. On arrival did you report to Captain Musulin, who has testified here already?

A. Yes, sir, Captain Musulin was my commanding officer in Yugoslavia, and I reported to him.

Q. You were sent in there to specifically to help him?

A. That is right.

Q. Captain Musulin left Yugoslavia shortly after you arrived?

A. Yes, sir, Captain Musulin left Yugoslavia three and a half weeks later and he was called back to Bari to make a report of what was happening in the Pranjani area.

Q. And when he left you took over as the American officer in charge of the air-crew rescue unit?

A. That is right. Captain Musulin told me that I was in charge from that date on, so I took over.

Q. And during the period that you were there approximately how many American airmen were evacuated from Chetnik territory?

A. 376 to be exact.

Q. Was there anybody besides Americans evacuated?

A. Oh yes, we evacuated Russians, British subjects, that is flyers, we evacuated a British doctor and his batboy, we evacuated Italians, Frenchmen, Chetniks, Polish, we evacuated a couple of Palestiners. In fact we evacuated 45 Russians one day, that is 45 Russians arrived at our headquarters and General Mihailovich called for me and he asked me what we were to do with the Russians.  I said, “Well, from what I understand some Russians want to go back to Russia and some do not.” So we took a roll call.  How many Russians wanted to go back to Italy?  No hands were raised. How many wanted to go back to Russia? And they all raised their hands.

General Mihailovich gave these Russians 125,000 dinars; they were valued at 3,000 dinars to one dollar. And he gave them 40 Chetniks and a guide who knew the terrain and sent them back to Turnu Severin, that is the area where the Russian Army had reached at that time. They were going across from Bucharest and possibly getting later into Hungary.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Did you speak the language?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Are you of Yugoslavian descent?

A. Yes, sir, my mother and father were born in Yugoslavia near the Ogulin area near Trieste.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. By the way, you spoke of having talked with General Mihailovich about the evacuations of these Russians.  When did you first meet General Mihailovich?

A. I met General Mihailovich about the third week in August, about three weeks after I had landed. I landed on the night of August 9th. Colonel Robert H. McDowell had left—

Q. He was another American officer sent in?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. By the way, did the plane that took out those airmen the first time bring in any supplies?

A. Yes, sir; originally three planes were supposed to arrive that night, and two had engine trouble, and the two that had engine trouble had unfortunately three quarters of the supplies, but some supplies did come in that night.

Q. What kind of supplies?

A. Medical supplies and food and clothing for the American airmen.

Q. Did they bring anything in for the Chetniks?

A. No, sir, not a thing.

Q. How long did you stay at or near Pranjani?

A. I stayed for a period  from August 9th to September 10th.

Q. You had your own radio station?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Shortly before September 10th was your radio station attacked by anybody?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. By whom?

A. My radio station was attacked by the Partisans, a trio.

Q. You mean three Partisans?

A. Yes, three Partisans who ventured into General Mihailovich’s area. They had gotten information that a radio station was in that general vicinity, and Americans operating it evidently and they attacked it.

Q. Did they wreck it?

A. No, they did not wreck my radio or damage it, but I did see bullet marks and scars on the fence that went around my place.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. How do you know they were Partisans?

A. Because later that evening that same trio hit the town of Pranjani and attacked the town commandant. That was while I was sleeping in the town, by the way.

Q. Do you mean the commandant was a Chetnik?

A. Yes, I got up quickly and rushed into the street, wanting to find out what was going on, but they had left. This home was damaged, doors were knocked out, windows smashed, and the town commandant had escaped. His name was Markovich. There is no doubt in my mind that it was Partisans. The people also told me that it was Partisans. They were very much frightened.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. You did not see any of these people yourself?

A. I did not see any of them.

Q. And none were captured?

A. That is right, none were captured, although they captured my guard, one of my guards.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. You mean the Partisans captured one of our guards?

A. Yes.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Were there any Germans in that vicinity?

A. No, sir.

BY MR. KIENDL: Q. Did you send in an official report of the incident?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you based that on what you heard?

A. Yes, sir. I explained it. By the way, my guard was returned, and he told me that they were Partisans, that they were wearing the red star on their caps.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Do you know why your guard was returned?

A. He told me that they were going to kill him, but he was returned. They wanted information from him, and he gave them some, but there was not anything relating to Americans. He was returned two days later.

Q. Returned or escaped?

A. He told me he escaped. He fled from the home where they had him tied up.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. Returning for the moment to these Russians who were evacuated with the help of General Mihailovich, were they Russian soldiers or forced labor?

A. They were Russian soldiers captured in the fighting when the Germans attacked in Russia and put in PW cages or labor camps in the Yugoslav area.

Q. And they escaped?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How did they happen to show up at Mihailovich’s headquarters?

A. I never did ask them. I got word that 45 Russians were coming.

Q. You left Pranjani about when?

A: The night of September 10th, exactly at eight o’clock.

Q. Under what circumstances did you leave?

A. Well, at that time, I would say three or four days earlier, there was much shooting in the general vicinity, we could hear machine guns and mortars, and things were getting pretty hot.  The Partisan army had penetrated in force across the Drina River and on into Maljen Mountains. And at the same time the Russians had reached the Danube River. So we started to move north, and our ultimate destination, according to General Mihailovich, was to penetrate north and over into eastern Bosnia, to the high mountain area, for a winter retreat.

Q. Am I right in saying that you left the Pranjani area because the Partisans attacked it?

A. Yes.

Q. And where did you go from there?

A. I moved north across the Valjevo-Belgrade railway. We crossed that railway at night three days later.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Did you move because the Partisans were attacking the headquarters or because there was fear of an attack?

A. They were attacking the headquarters, I know that definitely.

Q. Were not all the airmen evacuated from that particular place?

A. Yes, sir. And all I had was three airmen with me at that time, on September 10th.

Q. Then in September you established another airfield somewhere?

A. Yes, sir, I established one on September 17th, 1944.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. And where was that?

A. That was at Koceljevo.

Q. I show you a map and ask you if that is a map that you yourself made showing your travels in Yugoslavia.

A. Yes, sir, that is my map, and that is my itinerary of my 500-mile trip, starting at Pranjani.

MR. CHANDLER: May I ask to have a Photostat of that map received in evidence?

MR. HAYS: Yes.

(The map was marked Exhibit 13,  May 17, 1946, C.B.)

MR. KIENDL: Q. You had better have the record show that the itinerary of the Captain is marked on the original map in green arrows.

A. The rivers are in blue.

Q. Shortly before your forced evacuation in the Pranjani area did you have any discussion with General Mihailovich or any of his officers as to their plans for warfare against the Germans?

A. No, sir, I did not, sir. I met General Mihailovich and we talked, and I got to know him; but since Colonel McDowell was there in the official capacity of intelligence officer I left that up to Colonel McDowell; but I handled all of the area evacuation and had opportunities to talk to commanders and corps commanders and so on, but never did bother with headquarters at that time.

Q. From Koceljevo you evacuated some more American airmen?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did the Chetniks build an airstrip for you there?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long did it take them to do it?

A. It took them two days. It was favorable terrain; we had to move a few haystacks and cut a few trees, and we constructed an airstrip of 450 yards, which I thought was suitable for a DC-3, our transport plane. And it was. We evacuated exactly 20 American airmen Sunday afternoon, September 17, 1944. Besides evacuating 20 American airmen that day we also evacuated one Frenchman, a few Italians; and we evacuated Dr. Jack Mitrani, an American officer who was the official doctor to our mission, and his two sergeants. Also evacuated on that day was Colonel Carpenter, who was also with the Office of Strategic Services.

Q. How long had he been in there?

A. He had come in the latter part of August and stayed until September 17th; he was making a survey of Mihailovich’s territory, that is, a survey of medical needs.

Q. He was a medical officer?

A. Yes, he was a medical officer making a survey of the area. Dr. Mitrani was there as the official representative to take care of American flyers who needed help and medical attention.

Recess until 2:00 p.m.
After Recess May 17, 1946

There were present Mr. Hays, Mr. Kiendl, and Mr. Berle, Commissioners; and Mr. Chandler and Mr. Timbers.

Continuation of the examination of NICK A. LALICH.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. Captain Lalich, before the luncheon recess I think you had testified to the evacuation of some personnel on September 17, 1944, from the airstrip at Koceljevo. Will you take up your story chronologically from there and tell us where you went next and what you did after that evacuation?

A. Well, after that evacuation we moved west towards the Drina River; we crossed the Drina River and then into eastern Bosnia.

Q. To what point in eastern Bosnia?

A. To Medjasi. [Med-yashi]

Q. Where did you go from there?

A. We continued on west following the course of the Sava River, which I would say was about 15 kilometers south, and keeping in a parallel direction.

Q. Who went on this journey?

A. General Mihailovich, I would say he had three to four thousand troops with him at that time, and this was going west near the Bosna River. We would move along about so many kilometers and then we would rest, and the next day we would proceed again, rest, and so on, into that river area; that is the river that divides  western Bosnia and eastern Bosnia.

Then they started to move south towards the Sarajevo  area, and on November 1st Colonel McDowell, Captain John Milodragovich, Lieutenant Rajacich and their radio operator, plus three American fliers evacuated to Italy.

Q. The persons whose names you have mentioned were members of an American military mission?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Headed by Colonel McDowell?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. On November 1st they evacuated to Italy?

A. Yes, they evacuated in a DC-3 American transport with fighter covers of seven P-38 fighter planes.

Q. From what airstrip?

A. From Boljanic. [Bol-yanich]

Q. Is that the same as Bona [sic]?

A. It is exactly the same, but Bona is a short name for that area.

Q. When had that airstrip been built?

A. That airstrip was built between October 22, 1944, and November 1st, 1944.

Q. Was it used again?

A. Yes, it was.

Q. When was that?

A. It was used again as a receiving pinpoint for supplies on December 25, 1944, and then again two days later when I evacuated with 20 more American airmen, plus French and Italian personnel, back to Italy; I also evacuated two Yugoslavians, one a colonel and one a major, with the permission of the State Department.

BY MR. KIENDL: Q. When did you leave, Captain?

A. We left Yugoslavia on December 27, 1944.

MR. CHANDLER: Q. When you spoke about supplies being dropped on December 25th, what kind of supplies were you speaking of?

A. The supplies were shoes, clothing and food to benefit the 20 American airmen.

Q. No supplies were sent in for the Chetniks?

A. No, fact I did not receive any supplies for three and a half months.

Q. During the period from the first of November, 1944, until about the time you left where did you live?

A. I moved south from Boljanic to the Sarajevo mountain area, which was in the vicinity of 25 kilometers north of Sarajevo.

Q. Who were you living with?

A. At that time I lived with General Mihailovich personally.

Q. You mean you shared whatever accommodations he had?

A. Yes, sir. I was the last American with General Mihailovich, with my radio operator, Robert [Arthur] Jibilian.

Q. When you say you lived with him you mean you lived in the same house or tent, is that it?

A. Yes, sir, if we would move into a village we would live in the same house, and occasionally we would live next door, or occasionally we would live across a little ravine, but most of the time we lived right together.

Q. Did you have any discussions at that time with General Mihailovich about the state of the war or his strategic plans?

A. Yes, sir, many discussions. We talked about the war and America, and the future of Yugoslavia, and in fact we even talked about Paris, France, New York, different places of interest.

Q. What did General Mihailovich have to say about his plans for the war?

A. Well, he realized that he had two enemies; he had the Germans and the Partisans to fight. In fact he told me he had no more aid but God, but he would get along somehow.

Q. He said he would go on fighting the Germans?

A. Yes, sir, he did. In fact I asked him, “Why don’t you come out with me when I am ready to go home?” He said, “No, I have fought for four years and I will stay with my people and fight to the end.”

BY MR. HAYS:  Did he [General Mihailovich] say why the Partisans  were his enemies?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What did he say about that?

A. He said that they had different ideals, that their ideals were communistic and his were democratic, he had democratic processes, and he believed in the things we believed in; and in fact he compared America with his way of life.

Q. Did he talk of any attempts to collaborate with the Partisans, unitedly, so that they would both fight the Germans.

A. He said they tried to get together, and in fact all parties were invited to fight the enemy, that is the Germans, and they had these meetings and the plans were laid to attack different areas and towns; one in particular was Valjevo. And in attacking Valjevo they were supposed to hit together, but the Chetniks hit, and the Partisans hit them from the rear. This was all according to General Mihailovich. That was one reason.

And they had another outbreak of a similar nature in the Visegrad area. In fact at one time they rode the same tanks into the village of Cacak with red stars and the double eagle painted on these tanks. So it seemed they could not get together, and the break came and they separated.

Q. Did you get any idea of how much of his time was spent fighting the Germans and how much of his time was spent fighting the Partisans?

A. Yes, sir, they fought the Germans when I was in the Sarajevo area. It seemed to me that they would hit the Germans especially when they knew ammunition and guns were being carried, and vital supplies. I happened to be there when they attacked near Visegrad, a road running between Visegrad and Sarajevo, a German column moving in there, and they attacked and came out with two truckloads of ammunition and guns. This ammunition was brought up into my area.

BY MR. KIENDL: When was this?

A. This commander named Sava reported to General Mihailovich while I was there in the same headquarters.

Q. When did this take place, November?

A. Yes, November.

Q. Of 1944?

A. That is right, sir.

BY MR. HAYS: Did you yourself see the action?

A. No, sir.

Q. But you were there when they booty was brought back?

A. That is right, sir, and I recognized German material; I knew German Lugers and I know Mausers and other equipment.

Q. Were you there when any action took place against the Partisans?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When was that?

A. In fact, I witnessed a battle. I did not see the fight man-to-man, but I witnessed a battle in the area of Tuzla at the town of Puracic.

BY MR. CHANDLER: You saw that battle through your field glasses?

A. Yes, sir, I witnessed that from the distance of about two or two-and-a-half kilometers. We were up on a mountain top with seven airmen who were with me, my radio operator and one guide and myself. Two Moslems arrived wearing the typical Moslem dress; I questioned them and they said the Chetniks were battling the Partisans down in the valley, and I could see the smoke if the mortars.

We moved along, coming to the area of Boljanic. We also witnessed prisoners from that battle, 37 to be exact.

BY MR. HAYS:  37 Partisans?

A. 37 Partisan prisoners. They arrived barefooted, very poorly clothed, and they were wearing the red star.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Did you personally question them?

A. Yes.

Q. What did they tell you?

A. I asked them what was their reason for fighting the Chetniks, and they told me that they were forced to fight. Well, I asked them what they meant. They said, well, they have to come into our homes, and at the point of a gun we went to battle. 32 of these men were Moslems and 5 of them were Serbians. I took pictures of them. I do not have them with me.

BY MR. HAYS: When you refer to Moslems are you referring to a religion or a territory?

A. Before the war there were 1,400,000 Moslems; they were Serbians but they followed their own religious faith.

BY MR. CHANDLER: What happened to the prisoners?

A. I asked the Corps Commander, whose name was Svetan Tedich [sic], I asked him what he expected to do with these Partisan prisoners. His story was as follows: well we will feed them and clothe them and probably release them. I do not know what happened to them, I did not see.

Q. During the period that you were in Yugoslavia were you free to move around and see anybody and talk to anybody?

A. Yes, sir, I had freedom of movement at all times; I was even able to go fishing in the Bosnia River.

Q. Did you have guards or escorts to see where you went or keep you under restraint?

A. I could go without them, but it was always wise to take them.

BY MR. KIENDL:  How was the fishing, Captain?

A. Not so good.

BY MR. CHANDLER:  During your period in Yugoslavia I think you told us at the beginning you were on the lookout for any evidence of collaboration, because you had been told to be on the lookout?

A. That is right.

Q. That rumors of collaboration had come back to Cairo?

A. That is right, sir, and back to Bari, too.

Q. You carried out that mission, and your eyes were open for that sort of thing?

A. Yes, sir. I was able to speak the language and I could understand the language; and living in Mihailovich’s house, right in his headquarters, from November 1st to December 11th, when I left General Mihailovich in the Sarajevo district, I had an opportunity to listen and talk, and during all that time I did not see any signs of collaboration or any talking of collaboration, and I was listening for it and trying to detect anything of that nature I could. It interested me very much. I was the last one there after Colonel McDowell left, and I had the opportunity of reading many, many messages coming out of Yugoslavia as the assistant operations officer at Bari, Italy.

BY MR. KIENDL:  Q. Did you file reports that you found no evidence of collaboration?

A. Yes, sir, I filed reports with the State Department and with the OSS.

BY MR. CHANDLER:  Q. I think in the last few questions and answers you said that during the period you lived with General Mihailovich, November and December, you saw no signs of collaboration of any kind?

A. That is right, sir.

Q. Is the same thing true as to the rest of the period that you were in Yugoslavia?

A. Yes, positively.

MR. CHANDLER:  That is all.

MR. KIENDL: I have no questions.

BY MR. HAYS:  Q. How long were you in Yugoslavia, Captain?

A. I was there from the night of August 9th to the afternoon of December 27th, 1944. I covered an area of 500 miles by foot, cart, horse and what-have-you.

Q. You have come to the conclusion that there was no collaboration between the Germans and the Chetniks, have you not?

A. Yes, sir. During that period of time I know that Colonel McDowell did have a meeting with the German commander. He has filed an official report on that meeting and the happenings at that time, and that message went through his radio operator, and I sort of briefly went over it a little, it was a long message asking for aid of 200 paratroopers as the official representative [sic] of the Germans.

Q. Was Mihailovich present?

A. No, but Colonel McDowell was.

Q. So it was as you comment the only conference  by the Germans with any of the Allies, this conference with Colonel McDowell?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Will you give us the facts on which you base your conclusion that there was no collaboration between Mihailovich and the Germans?

A. My facts? Do you mean how I based my facts?

Q. What are the things that caused you to come to that conclusion, after having been in Yugoslavia at that time and having traveled all over that territory?

A. First of all I knew they were fighting the Germans; secondly, they were saving American airmen; third, I was able to sit there with Mihailovich and talk with him and listen to the reports coming in, talk to the Commanders, and there was nothing secret about the entire movement, I was free to move along and move with him. And I thought that, having access to all of that, and doing what he did for us, I did not see how he could collaborate.

BY MR. KIENDL: Q. In addition to that, Captain, you talked to peasants?

A. Yes, sir, I talked to peasants.

Q. You talked to a number of our own airmen?

A. Yes, sir, I talked to a number of our own airmen, all of the airmen that I evacuated.

Q. And from none of those sources did you receive any information that you thought reliable enough to put in your report to the effect that there was collaboration between the Chetniks and the Germans?

A. That is right.

BY MR. HAYS:  Q. You start out first by saying you knew the Chetniks were fighting the Germans. Have you any knowledge of that except this one instance where the Chetniks made an attack and came back with some guns?

A. Yes; and of course some of the clothes they wore or some of the guns they carried were German; they were spread out among the armies and so on.

Q. It might mean that they were collaborating, it might work both ways?

A. That is possible.

Q. Did you hear of any incidents that might give reason for the belief that there was collaboration?

A. No, sir.

Q. Did you hear of any instances where Chetnik groups without the knowledge of Mihailovich collaborated with the Germans?

A. Yes, sir, I understand that they collaborated along the area of the Dalmatian coast in their last evacuations out Yugoslavia in the year 1945 around VE-Day; but this I learned when I came out of Yugoslavia.

Q. You were told that the Chetniks in that area had collaborated?

A. Yes, in their movement north out of Yugoslavia and around into Italy.

BY MR. KIENDL:  Q. Trieste?

A. Yes.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Of what did that collaboration consist?

A. From what I understand it was the movement of troops into a safe area. In other words, in those last days these troops were moving north to meet the Allies. And I suppose at the same time the Germans were moving back into Austria, vacating Yugoslavia.

MR. KIENDL: Q. What you mean is that during the closing days of the war and just before Germany quit there was some indication that the Chetniks were collaborating with the Germans to the extent that the Germans were running back into Austria and some of the Chetniks wanted to get back around in the Trieste neighborhood?

A.  That is right, sir.

Q. And that was shortly before VE-Day?

A. That is right, sir.

BY MR. HAYS: Q. Would you say that there might have been collaboration by Mihailovich with the Germans during that period without your knowing anything about it?

A.  If there was I did not hear about it. There could have been.

Q. During the period that you were there, I mean.

A. I am quite positive that there was no collaboration at all.

Q. You would say that from this period of August to December, 1944, if there had been any collaboration, in view of the freedom which was allowed you, you would have been bound to know about it?

A. Positively.

Q. What was the purpose of this trip, this 500-mile trip that you have been talking about?

A. The Partisans were trying to capture General Mihailovich and trying to get the American mission out of Yugoslavia.

Q. And did all of them make this 500-mile trip, all the Chetniks.

A. So many troops would go forward with us maybe for a month, and then we would pick up other troops in eastern Bosnia; because they had large concentrations of troops in different areas.

Before I went to Yugoslavia, after reading all of the reports and having access to all the information from Yugoslavia, I always believed that eastern Bosnia—in fact when you mentioned the word Bosnia to me, I always felt that that was a Partisan stronghold; but that was not true. When I entered eastern Bosnia there were thousands of troops waiting for General Mihailovich.

Q. So this trip that you are talking about was largely an attempt to get away from Partisan threats?

A. Yes, sir.

END OF THE TESTIMONY OF CAPTAIN NICK A. LALICH, OSS, BEFORE THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY [Committee for a Fair Trial for General Mihailovich] New York May 1946.


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