Hidden Yugoslav History Of WWII: Collaboration Between Partisans And Ustashi (I)

The aim of this article is to contribute to Balkan and  South Slavic historiography by examing the question of the direct and indirect military-political cooperation between the Partisans of the Austro-Hungarian Corporal and self-proclaimed „Marshal“, Josip Broz Tito of the Croat-Slovenian origin and the Nazi Ustashi leader (Poglavnik), Croat Ante Pavelić, on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia during WWII (1941−1945) and to highlight the ideological and political roots and objectives of this shameful cooperation. The article is mainly based on the primary archival documents housed in Belgrade, but never used by the official state’s Titoist historiography as well as on the testimonies of participants in historical events from the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (the so-called Chetniks of General Dragoljub Draža Mihailović) who were after 1945 in exile due to the Communist persecution and terror.

Titographic „history“ and scientific historiography

As more time passes after the death of “the greatest son of our nations and nationalities” −  Josip Broz Tito (1892−1980), and as increasingly more and more tapes of the propaganda feature films produced by the Titoist regime on the “heroic and patriotic combats” of Tito’s Partisans (such as the “Battle of Neretva”, the “Battle of Sutjeska”, the “Republic of Užice”, the “Battle for the Southern Railway”, “Red Land”, “Walter Defends Sarajevo”, “Raid on Drvar”…) against the “occupiers and domestic quislings” are becoming unpopular, the truth about the true character of the WWII in the areas of the Independent State of Croatia (the ISC) from 1941 to 1945 is starting to be re-researched by a critical Serbian historiography for the very reason that mostly the Serbs suffered within the borders of this state during the war.

The feature film “Battle of Neretva” was the most expensive film ever made in Socialist Yugoslavia. It was extremely important for the Yugoslav regime that in those films will starring well-known Hollywood and other foreign actors in order to give to the regime more moral and political credibility from a historical perspective. This credibility was important concerning as well as the people of Yugoslavia and the international community, especially regarding the liberal democratic Western countries. For instance, in the movie “Battle of Neretva” together with the Yugoslav actors, the most important roles are given to Orson Welles, Franco Nero, Yul Brynner, and Sergei Bondarchuk. In the film “Battle of Sutjeska”, the role of J. B. Tito, as a Partisan military leader, was played by famous American actor Richard Burton. However, all of these films are based on invented stories rather than on historical facts. Some of them are based on a pure falsification of historical truth like the film “Battle for the Southern Railway”, directed by Zdravko Velimirović, in which the destructions of the railways in Serbia and other acts of sabotage committed, in fact, by the forces of General Dragoljub Draža Mihailović – the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (designated by the Germans as Tito’s Partisans and the Croats as the Chetniks)  are designations erroneously attributed to Tito’s Partisans. According to some experts, the Yugoslav state invested more money for making “war-Partisan” films than for all other films combined for the very simple reason: the “war-Partisan” films were the most effective public lessons of history of the Yugoslav peoples in WWII. They were shown in primary and secondary schools and the students were taken to the cinemas to watch them as a part of the history class curriculum. The contents of the films, of course, have been properly matched with the contents of the contemporaneous school history teaching program. Moreover, these films even functioned as textbooks. However, not one of these “war-Partisan” feature films was made in accordance to the real historical events so that they all remain in the realm of political propaganda of a totalitarian one-party system and the regime.[1] Recording of these films was directly supported by the Yugoslav People’s Army as it is noticed, for instance, at the beginning of the film “Republic of Užice”.

Ustaše_Kupres_1942During Tito’s Yugoslavia and, unfortunately, long after 1991 the Yugoslav history of WWII was, and still in many cases is, treated only as a „history“. However, I believe it is a time for the real science to deal with this period of the Yugoslav past, which means that finally, a „historiography“ has to replace the quasi-science of politicized „Titography“. A phenomenon of the revolutionary taking of power in Yugoslavia during WWII by Tito’s Communists and Partisans, for the purpose of provoking a civil war, still remains incompletely explained in the Yugoslav historiography due to a number of circumstances. The most important are the following: 1) A lack of original and authentic archival material; 2) Unwillingness and fear of the Yugoslav historians to reveal the truth.

With respect to the lack of relevant (original and authentic) historical sources for the period of the civil war and violent Communist revolution in Yugoslavia during WWII, the main reasons for such a de facto state of affairs are:

  1. Revolutionary winners in the civil war, Tito’s Partisans (who called themselves the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia) and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, organized a deliberate and well-orchestrated policy of removal, and even physical destruction, of archival material contained in their own documents and those of their political enemies. The Titoists succeeded soon after their military occupation of Belgrade and Serbia in October-November 1944 in eliminating almost all compromising authentic and original documents, which could challenge to a greater or lesser extent, politically colored Titoist propaganda within the framework of the official (quasi)-historiography about the war years of 1941−1945. Thus, for example, in the Yugoslav archives the researcher can not find the key documents of Tito’s Partisans open cooperation and collaboration with the Croat-Bosniak Nazi Ustashi detachments, the Albanian (Shquipetar) Fascist detachments and the Nazi German occupation forces, as well as an open anti-Serbian policy and military actions by Tito’s Supreme Command of his revolutionary the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and its subordinated operational command headquarters. Consequently, preserved German and Italian documents (archival material) and the memoirs (including diaries) of the German and Italian commanders (for instance, that of General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau of Austria who served in the Wehrmacht)[2] are essential for the uncovering of the truth about the policies and real political objectives of Tito’s forces, fighting to overtake a political power in Yugoslavia in 1941−1945.
  2. After 1945, the same victor in the civil war was inserting compromising archival documents and photos either into its own or the enemy’s files which, basically, had to „prove“ the Chetnik collaboration with the Germans, Italians, and Ustashi. Today, they are still contained in the archives on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. Many of such inserted documents were written after the war to be as a corpus delicti of the „anti-people’s“ policy of the anti-Communist and anti-Fascist forces. Such a policy of inserting forged and falsified historical documents and photos was systematically applied mostly in order to compromise the Supreme Staff and other subordinate commanders of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland under the leadership of General Dragoljub Draža Mihailović.

There are documents (i.e., the letters) with forged signatures of the commander of the Royal Mountain Guard –  Nikola Kalabić, who was under direct command of General Mihailović (as, for example, the letter from December 19−20th, 1945), and retouched photos of the “Chetnik” commanders, but most of N. Kalabić, who was falsely accused by the Communists of betrayal of the Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland. According to the Communist version, due to this betrayal, General Mihailović was tracked down and arrested by the Titoist security service – OZNA (led by Aleksandar Ranković – Leka) in March 1946. The most insidious Titoists’ accusation against General Mihailović arose from what was allegedly his, but in fact a forged letter, (in two versions and typed in the Latin alphabet), which supposedly Draža Mihailović sent to “Dr. Alois Stepinac, the Archbishop of Zagreb and the Croatian Metropolitan” („d-ru ALOJZIJU STEPINCU, nadbiskupu zagrebačkom i metropoliti hrvatskom“) on April 15th, 1945. In the letter, General Mihailović sought  Archbishop Stepinac’s close cooperation with the “Croatian people” (i.e., with the Ustashi and Home Guard’s soldiers) along with his blessing in order to halt “the victory of the Communist high tide”.

ustase-partizaniIf nothing else, to avoid the discussion of originality and authenticity of the letter from the technical point of view, it would be absolutely illogical that before the very end of the war, General Mihailović required close cooperation with the Croat Nazi Ustashi and Croatia’s Home Guard soldiers (“domobrani”) against whom he was fighting during the whole war and who (especially the  Ustashi, composed of Croats and Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslim Bosniaks) committed terrible crimes of genocide against the Orthodox Serb inhabitants in Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Herzegovina, Srem and Bosnia (i.e., on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia) – a genocide in which Croatian Roman Catholic Church participated openly and firmly, especially the Franciscan Order.[3] Moreover, it was a time when the Ustashi and Home Guard detachments were preparing to leave Yugoslavia in order to surrender to the American and British military authorities in Austria or Italy in order to avoid the responsibility for the massacres of the Serb civilians particularly in the death camp of Jasenovac where 700.000 people have been on the most brutal way murdered, among whom there were 90% of Serb victims.[4] Finally, General Mihailović was from the very beginning of the war fully aware of the fact that Pavelić’s Ustashi and the Partisans of Josip Broz Tito were part of the same anti-Serb army fighting for a Croat national interest.

However, in this case what is extremely surprising is the sloppiness of the Titoist forgers who made the letter on the same matter in two different variants, but forgot to destroy the first (older) one, or at least to safeguard it. Specifically, in the shorthand notes to the Communists referred to as the “judicial process of the century”, i.e. the judicial  process against General Mihailović in 1946 in Topčider in Belgrade, Mihailović’s facsimile letter to Archbishop Stepinac was released on a single page (97-th), but 39 years later the same letter was published in the Titoist collection of the “Chetnik” documents in the 14th book in the 4th volume on two pages (not on one page as is the case of the first version.

In the second version of the letter, in comparison to the first, the address and its placement, as well as the date, were changed. It appears next to the last paragraph of the letter as well as in the later version on the second page of the letter. In the first version of this letter,  allegedly written by General Mihailović to Archbishop Stepinac, the caption “Supreme Command, April 15th, 1945, Army General” with D. Mihailović’s signature is below the text of the whole letter, but  in the second version of the letter the caption “Supreme Command, April 15th, 1945” is in the upper right corner of the letter above the beginning of the text. Both of these letters, nevertheless, do not have the appropriate Command memorandum, seal and a number under which they were registered in contrast to the original and authentic documents issued by the Supreme Command of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland. It is known that General Mihailović was signing himself as a ђенерал (đeneral), but not as генерал  (General) as it is in this case.[5]

This alleged letter to Archbishop Stepinac, dated April 15th, 1945 has a falsified signature of General Mihailović as in the case of in some other forged letters (for instance, to Brašić or to Mate Matićević). D. Mihailović’s original and authentic Latin script signature can be found in his letter to the Greek General Zervas, which is written in French. This letter to General Zervas is dated, February 5th, 1944 and verified with clearly legible stamp “Command of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland,” that is, however, not the case, for example, with the stamp on the letter dated, November 29th, 1944 (29. studenog) to Mate Matićević.[6]

CollaborationThe US’ findings on how Titoist propaganda experts after WWII created the photographs of the alleged collaboration of Mihailović’s army with the Germans and the Ustashi were recently published in: Симић П., Дража. Смрт дужа од живота, Службени гласник, Београд, 2012. This book provides new evidence on how the judicial process was mounted against General Mihailović in Topčider in 1946, or in other words, how the Titoists removed the original documents from the files issued by the authorities of Mihailović’s “Chetniks” during the war and instead of them were putting the fake documents as the originals. The book also provides proof of the Communist torture of the arrested General.[7]

The reason for the policy of inserting the forged documents and other material into the „Chetnik“ files can be easily explained and understood when the following facts are known. From the very beginning of the civil war between Tito’s Partisans and Serbia’s patriots in July 1941 and especially between Tito’s detachments and Mihailović’s Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (November 1941−March 1946, when Mihailović was arrested by the Communist revolutionary security forces (the OZNA), the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland was the only military and political enemy who seriously stood in the way of the Communist takeover of power over the entire country. Knowing the pre-war political aims of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (the CPY), it is not surprising that its armed forces began the civil war on July 7th, 1941 in West Serbia, and tried to finish it with the capture of Mihailović alive. They were ultimately successful on „March 13th, 1946 when under still unknown circumstances they seized him in a house on Vardište-Priboj road in East Bosnia“.[8] The Titoists needed the General much more alive than dead in order to publically, in the name of the „people“, defame him, his movement and the Yugoslav Government in Exile (in London) in a rigged Stalinist type process for „collaboration“ with the occupying forces, and finally to formally legalize their revolutionary way of taking power in the country. However, in reality, it was Tito’s Partisans who on their way to power collaborated during the war with the foreign invaders and primarily with their domestic satellites, and most of all with the Croat-Bosniak Nazi Ustashi.

To be continued

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.


[1] On this issue see more in: Самарџић М., Фалсификати комунистичке историје, UNA PRESS, Београд, 2010, 79−121.

[2] See, for instance: Kriegsarchiv Wien (KAW), Glaise von Horstenau’s Inheritance (B/67) including and his diary notes from Zagreb from April 1941 to September 1944 (KAW, B/67-diary); Kazimirović V., NDH u svetlu nemačkih dokumenata i dnevnika Gleza fon Horstenau 1941−1944, Nova knjiga−Narodna knjiga, Beograd, 1987; Kazimirović V., Nemački general u Zagrebu, Prizma/Centar film, Kragujevac-Beograd, 1996.

[3] Bulajić M., Ustashi Crimes of Genocide. The Role of the Vatican in the Break-Up of the Yugoslav State. The Mission of the Vatican in the Independent State of Croatia, BMG, Belgrade, 1993; Ривели А. М., Надбискуп геноцида. Монсињор Степинац, Ватикан и усташка диктатура у Хрватској, 1941−1945, Јасен, Никшић, 1999.

[4] Антић Ч., Српска историја, Vukotić Media, Београд, 2019, 270.

[5] Михаиловић М. Д., Рат и мир ђенерала (изабрани ратни списи), I−II, Српска реч, Београд, 1998, 365; Collection of the documents and information about People’s-liberation war of the Yugoslav peoples  (Zbornik dokumenata i podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda], Vol. XIV/4, Vojnoistorijski institut JNA, Beograd, 989−990. See also: Zečević M., Dokumenta sa suđenja Ravnogorskom pokretu 10. juni−15 juli 1946, SUBNOR Jugoslavije, Beograd, 2001; Izdajnik i ratni zločinac Draža Mihailović pred sudom, Savez udruženja novinara FNRJ, Beograd, 1946).

[6] Самарџић М., Фалсификати комунистичке историје, UNA PRESS, Београд, 2010, 36.

[7] About the revolutionary „red terror“ by the OZNA (the Yugoslav replica of the Soviet NKVD) in Yugoslavia in 1944−1946, see in: Николић К., Мач револуције: ОЗНА у Југославији 1944−1946, Службени гласник−Српски код, Београд, 2013.

[8] „13. марта 1946. године, у једној кући на путу Вардиште-Прибој, под још увек нерасветљеним околностима“ (Николић К., Историја Равногорског покрета, III, Српска реч, Београд, 1999, 314).

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