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

Part I, Part II, Part III

Agreements on collaboration

Based on existing evidence and data, as cited, it is clear that the coordination of military operations, political and tactical cooperation between Tito’s Partisans and Pavelić’s Ustashi during WWII on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia was planned and systematically carried out throughout the duration of the war.

We have to remember that the Independent State of Croatia was composed of Croatia, Slavonia, parts of Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and East Srem (today in Serbia). The official name of the state was Neovisna država Hrvatska (the NDH) with the capital in Zagreb. It had 6.663.157 inhabitants according to the last pre-war census and covered the territory of 102.725 sq. km.[1] According to the Rome Treaties from May 1941, the NDH gave to its patron Italy Kastav and Sušak with its hinterland, the islands of Krk and Rab, the North Dalmatian and parts of the Central Dalmatian littoral, the biggest part of the Adriatic islands and part of Konavle. Therefore, Italy realized all paragraphs of the secret London Treaty signed between Italy and the Entente in April 1915. Nevertheless, after the capitulation of Italy on September 8th, 1943, the NDH tried to incorporate parts of Dalmatia but did not succeed to establish real state-administrative sovereignty over these territories due to the German obstruction.

From a military and tactical sense, this cooperation was based on an agreement between Corporal/Marshal Josip Broz Tito and Führer (poglavnik) Ante Pavelić at the end of December 1941 when at the meeting between Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito and representatives of the Croatian Ustashi in Rogatica (Bosnia-Herzegovina) consent was obtained by the Ustashi leader Ante Pavelić for his delivery of weapons and ammunition to Tito’s Partisans and permission to both for uninterrupted residence and free passage through the territory of the Independent State of Croatia. Pursuant to this agreement between the two Croat armies the Partisan supreme military and political leadership resided on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia from January 25th until May 25th, 1942 without any interruption in the Bosnian town of Foča although in this region there were both Ustashi and Italian garrisons. Physically, the Partisan supreme military and political leadership was quite within the range of the Ustashi and Italian guns, mortars, and machine guns but never have been attacked. This smooth residence of the Partisan military and political leadership of almost half a year on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia was a result of the signing Ustashi-Partisan agreement on bilateral collaboration after January 12th, 1942 when Tito’s special commissioner Edvard Kardelj (a Slovene), as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, traveled from Čevljanovići (nearby Rogatica) to Zagreb in order to sign this agreement and then traveled to Ljubljana. The Ustashi deputy from Sarajevo had been to Tito’s headquarters in Foča on February 16th, 1942 with Pavelić’s personal letter on the formation and arming of the Communist Second Proletarian Brigade.[2] The ammunition and weapons from the Ustashi were soon delivered to this newly formed Partisan brigade on the territory of Mataruga, near Čajniče. On this occasion, the Ustashi delivery of the ammunition and weapons by one Ustashi major from the bloody-notorious Black Legion of Jure Francetić was accepted by the Partisan commander Sava Kovačević (later on in 1943 he was shot in the back by his Partisan comrade during the “Sutjeska Battle”) and Sava Brković, a senior Communist political commissar. Such a well-armed newly formed Partisan Second Proletarian Brigade was immediately sent to a nearby battlefield around Srebrenica and Vlasenica in East Bosnia, where in collaboration with the local Ustashi formations the brigade fought the battles against the Eastern Bosnian detachments of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland under the command of Majors Dangić and Todorović.

To remind ourselves, after the April War of 6−18th, 1941, the Germans, Italians, Bulgarians, and Hungarians occupied and divided the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia into several parts. The Germans annexed North Slovenia and put under their direct occupation Yugoslav part of Banat and Central Serbia with Kosovska Mitrovica. The Italians occupied South Slovenia, established their marionette regime in Montenegro and annexed the Gulf of Boka Kotorska, parts of Konavli and Dalmatia. The Hungarians annexed Prekomurje, Baranja, and Bačka. The Bulgarians occupied East and Central Vardar Macedonia and South-East Serbia. The Italians established their marionette state of a Greater Albania with East Montenegro, Kosovo (without its northern part that was occupied by the Germans for economic reasons), and West Vardar Macedonia.[3] However, the most important post-April War creation on the territory of ex-Kingdom of Yugoslavia was the Independent State of Croatia which existed from April 10th, 1941 to May 15th, 1945 and was recognized by eleven states.[4]

J. B. Tito at the end of March 1942 sent his two officials, Ivo Lola Ribar and Petar Velebit, to negotiate an agreement with the Ustashi authorities on getting certain territory for the Partisans in the Independent State of Croatia in the case that they will be expelled from Montenegro (under Italian protectorate) due to a popular revolt against both the Communists and the Italians. I. L. Ribar and P. Velebit (both Croats) went together with the Ustashi Colonel Bećir Kulenović (a Muslim Bosniak) from Zagreb. While Bećirović was to remain in Sarajevo until a meeting with Tito was agreed, Ribar and Velebit continued traveling together with an assigned Ustashi military escort arriving in Foča via Goražde to meet J. Broz Tito on April 1st, 1942. At this point, they settled on the exact date of the meeting between Tito and the official representatives of the Independent State of Croatia in Rogatica – April 5th, 1942. At this meeting with the Ustashi the Partisan side was represented by Tito himself, Peter Velebit, and a member of the British military mission to Tito’s Supreme Headquarters – Major Terence Atherton.[5] The negotiators from the Independent State of Croatia included Sulejman Filipović and Bećir Kulenović together with other Muslim Bosniaks from Sarajevo. On this occasion, in Rogatica the Ustashi and the Partisans were able to agree on the precise conditions under which Tito’s forces could pass through (from the east to the west) the territory of the Independent State of Croatia to their assigned areas in West Bosnia (the area around Bihać). On this “liberated” (by the Titoist historiography) territory in the second half of 1942, the Communists proclaimed the so-called “Republic of Bihać” to be the second Soviet-style republic founded by Tito’s Communists and Partisans on the territory of Yugoslavia.[6]

Sutjeska 1943 Tito Barton
The Partisan movie “Sutjeska” with Richard Burton as Josip Broz Tito

At the beginning of June 1942, due to the anger of the people of Montenegro with  the politics of the “left turn” of the Partizans and the red terror carried on by the Communists (so-called “Tito’s dogs’ cemeteries” in Montenegro and East Herzegovina)[7] J. B. Tito was eventually forced to make a decision on the implementation of the agreement with the Ustashi in Rogatica (at that time Tito was in Plužine). Following this decision, the remains of the First and Second Communist Proletarian Brigades, along with a Third Sandžak Brigade and two Montenegrin Proletarian Brigades in early June of 1942 they began to leave the territory of Mt. Durmitor in North Montenegro by crossing over Volujak. Tito’s detachments, supplied by Sarajevo Ustashi with trucks full of food and ammunition, were on their way from Kalinovik toTrnovo in East Bosnia.                                                                                   

However, the official Ustashi report states that those trucks were actually seized by the Partisans from the Ustashi, following an alleged Partisan road ambush attack. This farce with alleged capture of large quantities of weapons and ammunition from the Ustashi by the Partisans was very often repeated until the end of the war when even very well equipped and supplied Ustashi garrisons were “seized” by the Partisans, but, in fact, they were voluntarily and amicably handed over to the Communists pursuant to the Ustashi−Partisan bilateral agreements.[8] It is necessary to mention that the German command in the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, headed by the General Glez von Horstenau, accepted both direct and indirect cooperation agreements between Pavelić’s Ustashi and Tito’s Partisans in order to maintain a balance, a control of the warring forces, and most importantly, the mutual destruction of both the Partisans and Mihailović’s Chetniks. However, this cooperation was never approved by Berlin, and – most importantlyby Hitler who during the entire WWII treated both the Partisans and the Chetniks as the „bandits“. A difference between them in Hitler’s eyes was only that the Partisans have been the „international Communist bandits“ while the Chetniks were the „bandits of the Serbian nationalists“.

About German-Partisan cooperation at the local level can be shown by the fact that strong German forces in fall 1941 simply handed over to Tito’s Partisans entire city of Užice in West Serbia with the factory for the manufacturing and repairing the weapons and ammunition. It is very strange and unusual that the Germans did not destroy or dismantle this factory before they left the city regardless of the fact that they had quite enough time to do that. Moreover, there was no real need for the Germans to leave the city at all taking into account the fact that the Partisan units have been at that time weak. A military-political interplay between the Partisans, the Germans and the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland on the area of occupied Serbia during WWII was analyzed in the book: Grujić P., Boromejski čvor. Ko je bio patriota u Srbiji 1941−1945?, ATC Avangarda, Beograd, 2006. On the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, according to Slovenian historian Jože Pirjevec, the Germans established the first direct contact of collaboration with the Partisans on August 3rd, 1942 in West Bosnia-Herzegovina.[9]

The territory ceded to the Partisans by the Ustashi within the Independent State of Croatia encompassed the area between the towns of Karlovac, Livno, and Petrinja with the town of Bihać as its center. In this way, the Nazi Ustashi regime in Zagreb provided “liberated territory” to Tito’s soldiers. It encompassed about 15 districts of Bosanska Krayina, Lika, Kordun, and Banija, but this fact did not stop the Ustashi from continuing their genocidal policies against the local Serbian civilians in an area which had been ceded to the Partisans who nothing did to protect civilians. On this, according to the Communist post-war historiography, “liberated” territory (the “Republic of Bihać”), Josip Broz Tito convened in Bihać a two day session (November 26th−27th, 1942) of the first revolutionary “people’s council” (i.e., a Bolshevik Soviet) – Anti-Fascist Council for the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (the AVNOJ).[10] The same AVNOJ had a year later (November 29th−30th, 1943) also a two day session (the “Second” one) on the Ustashi controlled territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the town of Jajce when Tito’s Communists decided to proclaim themselves the only legitimate political power in the country – i.e., committed a coup d’état. However, both of these AVNOJ’s sessions were absolutely undisturbed by the local Ustashi detachments and the Croatian Government in Zagreb. The Second session in 1943 was held on the newly “liberated” territory by the Partisans from the Ustashi that a new Soviet (Bolshevik) republic (the “Republic of Jajce”) in Central Bosnia-Herzegovina was proclaimed.

For the matter of fact, the Independent State of Croatia has declared a Fascist state on April 10th, 1941. However, in many ways, it was different from its models and the sponsors, which, in this case, were Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Ustashi ideologues have always openly insisted that this state was based primarily on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church especially from the time of so-called “Social Catholicism”. The state was mainly a Roman Catholic dictatorial ideological construct inspired by and replicating the idea of the medieval Roman Catholic crusades against the infidels (in this particular case against the Orthodox Serbs). This Fascist state with Nazi ideology accepted the Vatican’s view that democracy, parliamentary system, and liberalism were destructive teachings leading to atheism. The Croatian Roman Catholic masses in the Independent State of Croatia were swayed by the ideological propaganda that their Roman Catholic country would succeed in creating a future community of God on earth, but of course, without infidels – the Orthodox Serbs. Therefore, the main guidance became “Civitas Dei”. In contrast to Orthodox Christianity, which was declared to be unbelief, Islam was accepted as a nest of the Croatian nation. A basic Ustashi political goal was to create through a comprehensive genocide against the Serb Orthodox population a strong majority of the Croatian Roman Catholic population within the borders of the Independent State of Croatia (including Bosnia-Herzegovina). According to the original Ustashi concept, the first huge concentration and death camp for the Orthodox Serbs was to be built somewhere in the sector of the lower Neretva River in Herzegovina. However, since the Italian occupation authorities did not allow the Ustashi regime in Zagreb to build such a camp on their (southern) occupation sector of ex-Yugoslavia, the Ustashi government located it on the Sava River in the village of Jasenovac that was in the German occupation (northern) zone.[11] The direct complicity of the Roman Catholic Church clergy in the commission of the crime of genocide in the death camp of Jasenovac is best illustrated by the fact that three commanders of this sadistic death camp were the Roman Catholic priests. Moreover, a huge number of them (especially the members of the Franciscan Оrder) participated in the Ustasha crimes against the Orthodox Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia. Most bloodthirsty among all Roman Catholic priests was the commander of the Jasenovac death camp – a monk Miroslav Filipović-Majstorović (known as “Friar Satan”), who was before the war, a Franciscan friar and a chaplain in the village of Petrićevac in Bosnia. Friar Filipović once even held a Holy Mass in a Roman Catholic sanctuary wearing his bloody Ustashi uniform. He had a gun on his belt through which he had pulled his priest’s cassock.[12]

Partisans with German officer Artur Schtrecher
Partisans with German officer Artur Schtrecher

Tito’s Partisans on the ceded territory around Bihać were successively aided by the Ustashi Government in Zagreb in combat gear, weapons, ammunition, and food so that they were fully able to reorganize their detachments and to transform them into a powerful army ready and poised for the conquest of pro-royalist Serbia. On this “liberated” territory with Ustashi support, Tito succeeded in forming new proletarian forces made up of Serbian refugees who had survived the onslaught of the Ustashi. These developed into the First and Second Proletarian Divisions, Third Montenegrin Strike Division, two Divisions of Krayina Serbs, one Division of Lika Serbs, one Division of Banija Serbs and one Dalmatia Division (in sum, around 25,000 soldiers). Later, all of these Partisan divisions became a core of the Communist army in its conquest of Belgrade and Serbia in autumn 1944.[13]

Here it is worth to mention one documentary report by the German army General, Obergrupenführer, Arthur von Flebs, from the territory of the Independent State of Croatia on Ustashi-Partisan open collaboration. A sector of Flebs’ command included South Dalmatia and parts of Bosnian-Herzegovinian territory. The General Flebs was in 1943 and 1944 sending the military reports directly to H. Himmler in Berlin and he took his private war diary. Those reports and diary are the first-hand historical sources. So, Flebs wrote about five Ustashi officers who went to the Partisan side but before that, they issued to their men a short command: “Runaway to save your lives!” … “The Ustashi battalion at the confluence of the Neretva River is unable to withstand even the simplest attack by the bandits, they are running cowardly away after the first bullet… and they are informing the Partisans. One Ustashi detachment even sold ammunition to the Partisans”.[14]

It was during this period of Partisan presence (in 1942) in this ceded territory within the Independent State of Croatia by Nazi Ustashi regime in Zagreb that the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia revealed to all the essence of the Communist-Partisan way of combat for the sake of the revolutionary conquest of power. That was conveyed in a speech by Moša Pijade at the First Session of the AVNOJ in November 1942 in the town of Bihać in West Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a senior member of the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, M. Pijade (1890−1957, a „People’s Hero“ in 1953) spoke briefly but clearly to provide an explanation of what had been determined and enacted as the best way of creating a Partisan army led by Josip Broz Tito:

 

It is necessary therefore to create so many homeless people in order to be the majority in the country.

Therefore, we need to burn. We will fire and withdraw. The Germans are not going to find us, but they will for revenge burn villages. Then the villagers, who will remain without a roof, will by themselves come to us and we will have the people with us, and we will thus become a master of the situation. Those who have no home or land or cattle will quickly join us because we promise them a big heist.

The harder it will be with those who have some property. We will attract them with lectures, theater performances, and other propaganda… We will gradually go through all the provinces. The farmer who owns a house, land, cattle, a worker who receives a salary and bread for us is useless. We have to make them homeless, proletarians… Only unfortunates become the Communists because we have to create the misfortune, to throw the masses to desperation, we are mortal enemies of any welfare, law, and order…[15]

 

The roots and reasons for the collaboration between the Ustashi and the Communists/Partisans

The roots and causes of the wartime collaboration between the Ustashi and the Communists/Partisans date back to the prewar Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and, on the basis of documentary material, at least from the year of 1932. The reasons for this collaboration were of an ideological-political nature and their basis was a common goal of both sides, i.e., to destroy the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and to form new states on its ruins including as the first a Greater Croatia. In order to achieve this goal, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (the CPY) was logically supporting all anti-Yugoslav movements and their actions and, of course, had sought to establish close cooperation with them. Given the fact that after the Serbs the Croats were the most numerous in Yugoslavia and their financial and industrial bourgeoisie was the strongest in the country, it was logical that the CPY would support all kinds of Croatian nationalism, anti-Yugoslav policy, and separatism for the sake of breaking up the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Such policy the CPY even officially included in its party’s program as a long-term political goal of the Yugoslav Communists. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that in the interwar period, the CPY openly supported, even in its public media, (a Greater) Croatian Revolutionary Organization (Hrvatska revolucionarna organizacija – the HRO), i.e. the Ustashi movement, formed in 1929. For instance, the official “Magazine of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (Section of the Communist International)”, how exactly was the title of the magazine – Proleter, at No. 28 from December 1932 (i.e., less than two years before the assassination of the Yugoslav King Alexander in France by the Croatian Revolutionary Organization) published an article on the support of the CPY to the Ustashi movement. The first and main paragraph of the article reads as follows:

 

The Communist Party welcomes the Ustashi movement of Lika and Dalmatian peasants and placed itself completely on their side. It is the duty of all Communist organizations and every Communist to facilitate the movement, to organize and to lead. At the same time, the Communist Party indicates the current shortcomings and mistakes in this movement, which are explained by the fact that the Croatian Fascist elements are playing in the movement so far a significant impact. (Pavelić, Perčec), who are against the developing of one Serbian mass movement against the Greater Serbian military-Fascist dictatorship because they fear that such movement will turn not only against the dictatorship but also against themselves and their Italian masters. Therefore, they are limited to the actions of small units and methods of individual terror.[16]

 

Such a Communist perspective on the Communist-Ustashi collaboration was directly inspired by the attitudes of the Stalinist Comintern (under the direct and hegemonic leadership of a Georgian Josef Visarionovich Dzhugashvili Stalin) on the resolution of the “national” questions across Europe. It means in practice that any real or fabricated nation has the right to self-determination including and territorial secession from the common multinational state. Therefore, the CPY, influenced by the Comintern, embraced the concept that the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was a “Versailles creation” in 1919 despite the fact that Croatia’s Zagreb proclaimed the unification with the “Kingdom of Serbia and Montenegro” even during the war on November 23rd, 1918,[17] i.e., before the start of sessions of the postwar international conference in Paris and the castles around the city. In fact, the CPY Central Committee’s Politbureau adopted an official position of the Comintern from its Fifth Congress in Moscow in 1924 following the suggestions of the CPY itself, that the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, as a “Versailles creation of a Greater Serbia”, had to be destroyed which meant that every anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav alliance and action was legitimate and welcome. Furthermore, at the same Moscow Congress, the delegates adopted and issued a special resolution on the national question in Yugoslavia which recommended the creation of the independent states of Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia and, thus, the dissolution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. At the same time, the Croatian Republican Peasant Party (the HRSS) was designated by Stalin as an advanced and revolutionary party with which the Yugoslav Communists should cooperate.

Tito with a soldier of Jugoslav People's Army
Josip Broz Tito with a soldier of Jugoslav People’s Army (former Partisans) in Belgrade in 1945 after the war. The solder is wearing a German Nazi helmet

Here it is necessary to point out that the resolution of the Comintern in 1924 did not schedule independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro from Yugoslavia and also did not designate any borders for “Slovenia”, “Croatia” and “Macedonia”. Therefore, the question of the republic-national borders was practically left to be resolved solely by the Yugoslav Communists after the war consistent with a new Moscow policy that (the Communist) Yugoslavia has to exist. The border designation between Yugoslav (Socialist) republics was finally done in 1946 without any public debate on the border issue followed by an official proclamation of the three new nations: the “Montenegrins”, “Macedonians”, and “Muslims”.[18]  The CPY accepted the 1924 Comintern’s policy on the rights of peoples to self-determination up to the final territorial secession from existing and internationally recognized states. In the case of Yugoslavia, this policy was finally realized in the 1990s with the dissolution of the country by the Communists themselves. In sum, in 1924 under the direct influence of the Comintern the Yugoslav Communists had adopted the official position of Soviet Moscow that the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/Yugoslavia was an artificial creation of the Versailles Order after WWI that became a formal justification for the Yugoslav Communists to adopt official policy guidelines on the destruction of Yugoslavia until 1935 when the Comintern changed a policy towards the Yugoslav state and its territorial integrity. Nevertheless, the Communist-Ustashi collaboration was a crucial one in any combination of the destruction of Yugoslavia from inside whether before or after WWII.

The Communist final policy about breaking up the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes/Yugoslavia was finally shaped at the Fourth Congress of the CPY in Dresden in November 1928 (held in the building of the Party School of the Communist Party of Germany – “Rosa Luxemburg”) when the destruction of the Yugoslav state was included in the official program of the CPY. At the same time, the Yugoslav proletariat was called to arms to defeat the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and to contribute to the victory of the Soviet Government in Moscow in the coming imperialistic war planned by Western countries against the Soviet Union. The participants at this meeting adopted a resolution  that determined that the revolutionary task of the Yugoslav Communists was to lead the peasants and other oppressed national masses in the upcoming civil war in order to destroy the “current imperialistic state of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes for full national independence of the oppressed nations, the overthrowing of the bourgeoisie, the workers’ and peasants’ Government and for the establishment of a Balkan federation of the republics of the workers and peasants”.[19] Here it is important to note and focus specifically on the text of the 1928 Dresden Resolution of the CPY. Linguistically, it is very much colored with a standardized vocabulary of the Croatian language which says a lot about the character of the leadership of the Party, who prepared the Dresden Resolution. The Yugoslav Communists in their anti-Yugoslav and anti-Serbian policy were even ready to collaborate with Mussolini’s Italy or Horthy’s Hungary in order to destroy their main political enemy – the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Thus, Milan Gorkić (i.e., Joseph Čižinski, who was from the second half of 1932 interim Secretary-General of the CPY, appointed directly by the Comintern in Moscow) declared in April 1929 that in the case of rebellion in Croatia the CPY must make “temporary strategic agreement with foreign imperialism” (Italy and Hungary) and even give to those countries some Yugoslav territories, for the sake of destroying Yugoslavia and its regime of the “Greater Serbian hegemony” with the help of Rome and Budapest.[20] Subsequently, the Yugoslav Communists during WWII were loyal to M. Gorkić’s declaration and guidelines, collaborating with both the German occupiers and Pavelić’s Croat Nazi Ustashi.[21]

The 1928 Dresden Resolution of the CPY was a direct supportive response to the conclusions adopted at the 1928 Sixth Congress of the Comintern in Moscow that the world was coming closer to a general crisis of global capitalism which would be followed by a Western imperialistic war against the USSR. Therefore, the Comintern in Moscow issued a directive to all its branches (i.e., the Communist parties) abroad that the Communists had to be prepared to engage in direct class conflict in order to break bourgeois order in their countries by a Socialist revolution and to replace it with a Socialist order. For that reason, in 1928 after its congress in Dresden, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia issued a directive calling for the organization of an armed uprising in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia with its dissolution as the primary goal. At the same time, the CPY adopted a view to creating a Greater Albania on the ruins of Yugoslavia.[22]

The first concrete political cooperation between the Croatian Nazi Ustashi movement and the Yugoslav Communists had already occurred in 1932 when the Communists called all Yugoslav peoples to join in open rebellion against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in order to assist the Croatian national revolutionaries (the Ustashi) in their fight against the royal dictatorship (introduced on January 6th, 1929). This Ustashi uprising broke out in September 1932 when, with the help of B. Mussolini’s Italy, a Ustashi group attacked a Yugoslav police station in the village of Brušani at Mt. Velebit in Dalmatia intending to launch a mass uprising against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the establishment of an independent Greater Croatia consistent with alleged “Croatian historical and the state’s rights”. Thus, in this case, B. Mussolini’s Italy, A. Pavelić’s Ustashi and the Yugoslav Communists became politically united in their mutual collaboration.

One of the most important documents and details from the history of the pre-war collaboration between A. Pavelić’s Ustashi and the CPY is a concrete and comprehensive “Agreement between the Communist Party and the Croatian Ustashi liberation movement” reached in June 1935 and signed by Mosha Pijade for the Communist side and Dr. Mile Budak for the Ustashi movement in Sremska Mitrovica’s prison. The aim of this agreement was very clear and unambiguous: total destruction of the Yugoslav state and everything that was Serbian and Christian Orthodox.[23]

The text of the agreement became publically known in WWII as Serbia’s Government of General Milan Nedić reprinted it several times, and in that way informing the Serbs as to who the Communists and Tito’s Partisans were and for whom and for what they had been fighting the war. However, it is true that from a historiographic-scientific-methodological point of view there is a problem of authenticity with respect to this crucial document on the Ustashi-Communist collaboration since the text of the agreement is preserved only in the transcript (not in the original form). Therefore, the only argument against the Communist-Ustashi collaboration by the post-war Titographic “historiography” is that this document was misused as pure war propaganda by the Government of General Milan Nedić (“Nedić’s forgery”) against the patriotic freedom-fighter Partisans.

However, by using the basic principles of the analogical methodology we come to the conclusion that such an agreement (whether signed, written, or oral) between the Communists and the Nazi Ustashi certainly existed since its crucial points dealing with the destruction of the Orthodox Serbs were implemented by both sides during and after WWII. Accordingly, it is necessary to confirm at least six facts:

  1. The CPY did not issue any communiqué in regard to the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia in Zagreb on April 10th, 1941 but we know that the Yugoslav Communists were well known for their propensity for issuing the party’s communiqués on every political occasion and new historical situation.
  2. Tito’s Partisans throughout WWII did not even think to try to liberate the most notorious death camp in Europe – Jasenovac (the “Ninth Circle of Hell” or the “Balkan Auschwitz”) in which the Nazi sadistic Ustashi soldiers killed up to 700,000 men as well as children of whom the ethnic Serbs were the overwhelming majority.[24]
  3. After the war, the new Communist authorities transformed the death camp of Jasenovac into a very beautiful park. They destroyed and removed all of the camp buildings and other material proofs of the genocide. This erasure of the horrific past diametrically opposed to post-war treatment of Auschwitz. The authorities even erected a monument (called a “Cracked Rose”) in 1966 commemorating all camp’s victims. However, it consists of four Lattin letter “U”, the official insignia that Pavelić’s Ustashi soldiers wore on their caps and flag of the movement.
  4. Josip Broz Tito (of Croat-Slovene origin), as a President of the post-war Yugoslavia for 35 years, never visited Jasenovac and never participated in any of annual commemoration meetings on the place of this wartime „slaughtering house“ or any other mass-grave place of the Serbs on the territory of the Ustashi-run Independent State of Croatia. There is abundant evidence of the continued ramifications of the wartime collaboration between the Croatian Nazi Ustashi and the Croat-led Communist Party of Yugoslavia and its People’s Liberation Army (the Partisan movement) well beyond the war years abounds. It is exemplified by an event of July 31st, 1966, which occurred at the opening ceremony of the memorial museum to the victims of the Jasenovac death camp (a “factory of death”). One of the guests and also the official representative of the governing structures of Croatia at this ceremony was present – the President of the Parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia − Stevo Krajačić, who was one of the most trusted associates of Tito. When the opening ceremony ended S. Krajačić,   thinking that the microphones had been muted, he turned to address the Serbian Partisan soldiers (his wartime comrades) telling them literally: “Here, we kill you not enough”. However,  the microphones were not turned off and as a consequence, after this scandal, S. Krajačić was forced to resign from the post.[25]
  5. During the war, but mostly in 1944 and 1945, when the identity of the victors and losers was becoming increasingly  clear, many Nazi Ustashi soldiers and officers, changed sides and finished the war as Tito’s Partisans and therefore participated in the Communist mass terror against Serbia’s civilians in 1944/1945 when Serbia was being occupied by the Partisans who came from the territory of the Independent State of Croatia. It has been estimated that at that time up to 100,000 of Serbia’s Serbs lost their lives under the Partisan-Ustashi terror under the formal pretext that they were the “collaborators” with the Germans, i.e., the Chetniks. Two cases of the switching of sides by the top Nazi Ustashi officers provide relevant examples:[26]
  6. A Croat, Franjo Pirc was a commander of the Royal Yugoslav air squadron on April 6th, 1941 when the German Luftwaffe started the war against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by heavily bombing its capital – Belgrade. At the military airport in the city of Niš, Serbia Captain Franjo Pirc burned all his airplanes except one which he had used to fly to the Germans who sent him to Croatia where he became a chief commander of all the air forces of the Ustashi Independent State of Croatia. Ilija Eli Popovich, a US officer (of Serb origin), who served on Tito’s General Staff provided testimony on Franjo Pirc’s actions during the war. According to I. E. Popovich, Pirc, the Ustashi chief commander of all Croatia’s air forces, traveled in the official car of the Independent State of Croatia with all its Ustashi insignias, escorted by the Ustashi soldiers to meet with Josip Broz Tito. The latter had organized Pirc’s welcome ceremony with a Partisan guard of honor. J. B. Tito further welcomed him with an impressive evening banquet. However, Franjo Pirc at the end of the war joined the Partisans and was appointed by Tito commander of the Yugoslav (Partisan) Military Air Forces. Officially, according to the post-war Communist Titography, Pirc was even the establisher of the military air forces of Communist Yugoslavia. After his retirement, Pirc was appointed Yugoslav ambassador to Argentina – the same country that had accepted a considerable number of the Nazi Ustashi after May 1945 including Ante Pavelić.
  7. A Croat Ustashi General Marko Mesić was a commander of the Ustashi troops during the Battle of Stalingrad where he was arrested by Soviet soldiers. However, under the personal intervention of Josip Broz Tito, all arrested Croat soldiers were transferred to the People’s Army for Yugoslavia’s Liberation under M. Mesić’s command fighting as a part of the Soviet Red Army. These redressed Nazi Croat Ustashi soldiers also participated in the Red Army’s „liberation“ of Serbia in October 1944 committing further war crimes against Serbian Nevertheless, after the war, General Marko Mesić was appointed the commander of the Guard and, in that capacity served Josip Broz Tito for many years.

Conclusions

  1. Collaboration between the Croat Nazi Ustashi movement and the Croat-led Communist Party of Yugoslavia and its Partisan movement during WWII on the territory of the Ustashi-governed Independent State of Croatia was systematic, direct and above all anti-Serb oriented and dedicated to the main political task of solving the Serbian Question on this territory not only to the full advantage of the Croats but in the most brutal way.
  2. The roots of this collaboration are in the inter-war period when both the Nazi Ustashi and the Communists reached an agreement on the destruction of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Serbs in order to achieve the goal of creating a Croat dominated Greater Croatia.
  3. For the Yugoslav Communists and their Partisan movement during WWII the only military-political enemy was the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (the Ravna Gora Movement) commanded by General Dragoljub Draža Mihailović.
  4. In order to defeat the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, as the only legal representative of the only legal Government of Yugoslavia, the Communists collaborated with both the Nazi Ustashi and the Nazi Germans.
  5. After WWII, the Communist quasi-historiography („Titography“) did everything to fabricate a role of the CPY and its Partisan movement during the war in order to present itself as patriots and freedom-fighters.[27]
  6. Even today, 75 years after the end of WWII, the most hidden and almost untouchable topic of historiographic investigation regarding the territory of ex-Yugoslavia is its history during WWII, the plight of the Yugoslav peoples and the collaboration of the Yugoslav Communists and their Partisan detachments with the Nazi Ustashi regime in Zagreb and the Nazi Germans.
Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Endnotes:

[1] Srkulj S., Lučić J., Hrvatska povijest u dvadeset pet karata. Prošireno i dopunjeno izdanje, Hrvatski informativni centar, Zagreb, 1996, 105.

[2] The First (Communist/Partisan) Proletarian Brigade was formed on December 21st, 1941 in East Bosnian town of Rudo on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia. The full title of the brigade was the First Proletarian People’s-Liberation Strike Brigade (Ilić B., Ćirković V. (urednici), Hronologija revolucionarne delatnosti Josipa Broza Tita, NIP “Export-Press”, Beograd, 1978, 50).

[3] Petranović B., Istorija Jugoslavije 1918−1988. Druga knjiga: Narodnooslobodilački rat i revolucija 1941−1945, Nolit, Beograd, 1988, 25−51.

[4] Srkulj S., Lučić J., Hrvatska povijest u dvadeset pet karata. Prošireno i dopunjeno izdanje, Hrvatski informativni centar, Zagreb, 1996, 105.

[5] Major Terence Atherton (1903-1942), who was married to a Muslim from Sarajevo, was together with his technician liquidated by Tito’s Partisans around April 16th, 1942 at the moment when he wanted to send a radiogram to his British command about the result of an agreement between Tito’s and Pavelić’s representatives. However, Broz after the liquidation officially announced that the British major, together with General Novaković, left his headquarters and defected to the side of the Chetniks who had allegedly killed him.

[6] The first Soviet-style Socialist republic formed by Tito’s Partisans have been so-called the “Republic of Užice”. It was formed in September of 1941 in West Serbia and lasted till the end of November of the same year. The Germans called this territory the “Communist Republic of Užice” – a territory of some 19.000 sq. km. with around one million inhabitants (Petranović B., Istorija Jugoslavije 1918−1988. Druga knjiga: Narodnooslobodilački rat i revolucija 1941−1945, Nolit, Beograd, 1988, 100). J. B. Tito arrived to the “liberated” territory of the “Republic of Užice” on September 16th together with the members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (Ilić B., Ćirković V. (urednici), Hronologija revolucionarne delatnosti Josipa Broza Tita, NIP “Export-Press”, Beograd, 1978, 45).

[7] Скоко С., Крваво коло херцеговачко 1941−1942, СКД Просвјета−Планета, Пале−Београд, 2000; Самарџић М., Генерал Дража Михаиловић и општа историја четничког покрета, Прва књига, Погледи, Крагујевац, 2004, 287−320.

[8] Those weapons, ammunition, and other war material and equipment handed over by the Ustashi to the Partisans the latter used against the Chetniks of the General D. Mihailović whom the Communist Party of Yugoslavia’s leadership saw as the focal enemy in the Yugoslav civil war. Nevertheless, D. Mihailović’s Chetniks as the Yugoslav Army in the Fatheland were the legitimate armed forces of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia – the country with an official status of the allied side to the anti-Fascist coalition of the US, the UK, De Gaulle’s France, and the USSR (Petranović B., Srbija u Drugom svetskom ratu 1939−1945, Vojnoizdavački i novinski centar, Beograd, 1992, 211).

[9] Pirjevec J., Tito i drugovi, I deo, Laguna, Beograd, 2013, 180.

[10] The AVNOJ – „Antifašističko vijeće narodnog oslobođenja Jugoslavije“.

[11] Екмечић М., Дуго кретање између клања и орања. Историја Срба у новом веку (1492−1992), Треће, допуњено издање, Evro Giunti, Београд, 2010, 445−446.

[12] Алмули Ј., Јевреји и Срби у Јасеновцу, Службени гласник, Београд, 2009, 263. For further discussion of the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the baptism and the massacres of the Orthodox Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia, see: Novak V., Magnum Crimen. Pola vijeka klerikalizma u Hrvatskoj, Zagreb, 1948−Beograd 1986; Dedijer V., Vatikan i Jasenovac, Rad, Beograd, 1987; 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; Живојиновић Д., Ватикан, католичка црква и југословенска власт 1941−1958, Просвета−Терсит, Београд, 1994; Ривели А. М., Надбискуп геноцида. Монсињор Степинац, Ватикан и усташка диктатура у Хрватској, 1941−1945, Јасен, Никшић, 1999; Лукајић Л., Фратри и усташе кољу. Злочинци и сведоци. Покољ Срба у селима код Бања Луке Дракулићу, Шарговцу и Мотикама 7 фебруара и Пискавици и Ивањској 5 и 12 фебруара 1942. године, Фонд за истраживање геноцида, Београд, 2005.

[13] Минић П. М., Расуте кости (1941−1945), Детроит, САД, 1965, 140, 173.

[14] Tagesbuch Nr. Ia&545, 44 J-G-Kdos., SS Frw. Geb. Division “Prinz Eugen” f. 1c Nr. 513/44 Jahr G. K. Dos.

[15] Military Archives [former Archives of the Military-Historical Institute (AVI)], Belgrade, Speech by Moshe Pijade at the First session of AVNOJ, Staff of the Supreme Command, Chetnik Archives, K-12, 30/12.

[16] Proleter, “Magazine of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (Section of the Communist International)”, year VIII, No. 28, December 1932, article “The Communist Party welcomes the Ustashi movement”, Archives of the National Library of Serbia, Department of compulsory copy [Proleter, „Organ Centralnog Komiteta Komunističke Partije Jugoslavije (Sekcije Komunističke Internacionale)“, god. VIII, br. 28, decembar 1932. g., članak „Komunistička partija Jugoslavije pozdravlja ustaški pokret“, Arhiv Narodne biblioteke Srbije, Odeljenje obaveznog primerka].

[17] Trifunovska S. (ed.), Yugoslavia Through Documents From Its Creation To Its Dissolution, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht−Boston−London, 1999, 151−153.

[18] Симић П., Тито и Срби, књига 2 (1945−1972), Laguna, Београд, 2018, 49−88.

[19] Petranović B., Istorija Jugoslavije 1918−1988. Prva knjiga: Kraljevina Jugoslavija 1914−1941, Nolit, Beograd, 1988, 160. On the territory of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes the first Soviet (Bolshevik) Republics were created in Labin, Ptuj and South East Banat. In Banat, it was established an agrarian republic in November 1918 as the Soviet Republic of Kusići.

[20] Petranović B., Zečević M., Agonija dve Jugoslavije, Dragan Srnić, Beograd, 1991, 191.

[21] Минић П. М., Расуте кости (1941−1945), Детроит, САД, 1965; Šmider K., Partizanski rat u Jugoslaviji 1941−1945, 2005.

[22] Самарџић М., Генерал Дража Михаиловић и општа историја четничког покрета, Прва књига, Погледи, Крагујевац, 2004, 274.

[23] The most important parts of this Communist-Ustashi collaboration agreement are published in: Самарџић М., Сарадња партизана са Немцима, усташама и Албанцима, Погледи, Крагујевац, 2006, 66−67 according to, Military Archives [former Archives of the Military-Historical Institute (AVI)], Belgrade, Agreement Pijade-Budak.

[24] www.jasenovac.org; www.jasenovac-info.com.

[25] Ривели А. М., Надбискуп геноцида. Монсињор Степинац, Ватикан и усташка диктатура у Хрватској, 1941−1945, Јасен, Никшић, 1999, 99. Compare with: Симић П., Тито и Срби, књига 2 (1945−1972), Laguna, Београд, 2018, 280; Archives of Slovenia [Arhiv Slovenije], Ljubljana, Dedijer, k. 3, Dnevničke zabeleške, 162.

[26] Макдауел Р., Стрељање историје: Кључна улога Срба у Другом светском рату, Поета−Рад, Београд, 2012, 5−8. This book was forbidden in the US.

[27] With regard to the issue on the Titographic forgeries about Josip Broz Tito, his Partisans, and the Ravna Gora Movement in 1941−1945, see: Самарџић М., Фалсификати комунистичке историје, UNA PRESS, Beograd, 2010; Сотировић Б. В., Кривотворине о Јосипу Брозу Титу, Брозовим партизанима и Равногорском покрету, 1941. г.−1945. г., Штампарија Литванског едуколошког универзитета, Виљнус, 2014.

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2 Comments
  1. Very recommended book for reading: Макдауел Р., Стрељање историје: Кључна улога Срба у Другом светском рату, Поета−Рад, Београд, 2012

  2. petergrafstrm

    The Chetniks had an exile government in Britain but that doesnt prove Britain was on their side. Compare with the time after the bolshevik government when part of the russian nobility survived in exile while the allies let the Tsar and all heirs be massacred.
    Actually even rewarded Lenin by not helping but instead obstructing the white armies. It is highly plausible that this was conditioned on the elimination of those legal heirs.
    Deception not ideological principles is key to this era. The reds, Tito, were just pawns and the masterminds aimed to be the last man standing after all the rivals had bled against each other. Germans, Serbs, Russians etc
    Anyone having doubts about such conclusions should consider Warplan Red in the enclosed link.
    There it becomes apparent that even the Us should be added to the potential list of fallen rivals.

    https://larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2009/eirv36n11-20090320/eirv36n11-20090320_024-war_plan_red_when_the_american_m.pdf

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