Before the fall of 1944, two things were crucial for the outcome of the Yugoslav revolution, and both were outside the circle in which the two irreconcilable partners revolved.
The first was the meeting between Stalin and Churchill in Moscow on October 9, 1944. They agreed without question that Britain must remain a Mediterranean country and hold Greece, and the Soviet Union must finally turn the Black Sea into a Russian lake. This meant: in Bulgaria, British policy would be little more than an observer, and in Yugoslavia, Stalin and Churchill divided their influence in half. This is what is wrongly called the Yalta 50% and 50% agreement. That agreement was in force for less than a day, because it was left to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Molotov and Idn, to raise that Soviet quota the next day, October 10, 1944. Molotov demanded 25% for Britain and 75% for the Soviet Union or, in the worst case scenario, for the Soviet side to have a preponderance of 60%. The British demanded that Tito and Šubasic, the partisan leadership and the royal government, agree on whether Yugoslavia would be a monarchy, a republic, or something else. Molotov assured that when Tito came to Belgrade, he would soften a little. In the mountains he was a provincial, inclined to solve everything in a secret way, and in the city he will tame and become acceptable. Idna’s “something else” was a personal dictatorship, which will indeed be introduced.
Another thing that played an essential role in further development was the creation of a pro-Soviet government in Bulgaria on September 9, 1944. The German and Serbian enemy – Bulgaria overnight became their war ally, with the meeting of Tito and Dimitrov in Sofia on October 5, 1944. That is, practically, it meant that around 100,000 military conscripts from Macedonia were transformed overnight into a military base of the Yugoslav partisan army in that area of Yugoslavia.
The Bulgarian army ITSELF was designed to penetrate in two directions. One was going to the Srem Front, and the other was supposed to liberate and restore order in Kosovo. In addition to the Bulgarian army, the Fifth and Sixth Albanian divisions participate in the liberation of Prizren and Tuzi, the British do not want to give help to the Albanian troops, because they occupied the Yugoslav territory in an irregular manner. On the other hand, there are both ballisticians and communists in the Albanian units, which led to an armed conflict with the partisan Yugoslav army. Immediately after liberation in 1944, an Albanian uprising broke out against the Yugoslav government, and another before the end of the war, in May 1945.
It was no accident that the Bulgarian army found itself in Kosovo, British observers saw that Tito was leading a policy of diminishing Serbian importance as much as possible in the future Yugoslav federation. On December 4, 1944, the British military representative reported that the Bulgarian army chiefs saw that their role in Kosovo was of a political nature; Tito declared that the Albanian ballisticians could enter Yugoslavia only by force. There was an alliance of ballistas and partisans in Kosovo. Serbs are not allowed to return. The British reported “that Tita is not interested in the future of Kosovo, which he would give to Albania in case she wanted it”.
On April 10, 1944, the British government through its representative informed the Yugoslav government in London that “Tito’s concern for the creation of an autonomous Macedonia is understood here only as part of his program to reduce Serbian influence, because such a state could only be established at the expense of Serbia. Our support for Tito does not include his anti-Serb goals.” The agreement between the two foreign ministers on October 10, 1944 enabled the Soviet Union to have a predominant influence in Yugoslavia. It is wrong to think that it refers to the division of territories. It is only a division of concern about helping the land forces, in which the Soviet side has the upper hand, or the naval and air forces, in which the British help to the reduced extent in which these branches in the Balkan war have a subordinate importance. Without the help of the Soviet Army, Yugoslav partisan units could not liberate the entire Yugoslav territory, and especially Belgrade, October 20, 1944. The British Army had very few forces on the Adriatic coast. They kept one battery of cannons in Trebinje. One night they had to go to the neighboring partisan camp, where the prisoners of the new government wailed so much that the British army could not bear it. In Dubrovnik, they were isolated from the population.
The Chetnik movement was not crushed on the battlefield, but at the green table of “British playing cards with the Russians”. Even before Stalin and Churchill came to an agreement in Moscow, British diplomacy was more concerned about how not to take on the suspicion of the Serbian tragedy and leave General Mihailovic to sink, than to do something in his favor.
His headquarters made a decision that he would not obey the decisions of the great powers and the king’s government in London. The Royal Decree of August 25, 1944 abolished the Supreme Command of the Yugoslav Army in the homeland, and on August 30, Tito issued an invitation to the Home Guards and Chetniks to come under his command.
On September 12, the king called on his Chetniks to join Tito’s army via British radio. A part of the Chetnik units accepted this. Across western Serbia, barbershops were suddenly flooded with cut hair and beards. King’s cockades were thrown. In the diary of those days, Mihailo Šaškijević describes how his Chetnik unit disintegrated near Čačak. Only some individuals were not shaved. “All the officers were also shaved. Most of them had no markings on their caps, i.e. caps. Usually just one metal oak leaf on the lapel of the blouse. They marked with Tito’s marshal’s branch that they were part of his troops.
The ORDER to liberate Valjevo was carried out sloppily, the contacts with the Soviet army were not hostile, but they were completely unreliable and useless.
Most of the Chetnik forces did not accept the king’s order. Several thousand of his soldiers in Podgorica, after listening to the king’s sad speech, sang: “Uncle Dražo, we swear to you that we will not deviate from your path”. After three years, he will sing that song to his new leader who broke away from Stalin. Draža Mihailović first led his troops into Bosnia via Sjenica, he himself moved to Dvorove near Bijeljina, then to Modrič to the distinguished house of Karabegović, sometime before the 1914 war of Serbian nationalists. Mustafa Mulalić records in his memoirs that General Mihailović visited Muslim mosques on invitation, took off his shoes and gave a speech to the faithful after prayer.
The Vatican is creating its own army
THERE WAS an attempt to plant a new Yugoslav force around General Mihailović, in addition to the fact that he was rejected by the British, which would bring about a change in the last months of the war. At that time, the Catholic Church was creating new guerilla formations, the “Crusaders”. Their top was in the Vatican, and the Franciscan Krunoslav Draganović was one of their supreme leaders. It is not the Ustasha army, although it was not significantly different from it, but the units of Archbishop Stepinac. In the messages of General Mihailović to his subordinates, it can be seen that he knew that the Germans in the partisan background were trying to leave and develop strong guerrilla cores. He imagined that behind this was a possible German agreement with the Western Allies on a common front against the Red Army.
TOMORROW: THE TRAGIC END OF GENERAL MIHAILOVIĆ’S ARMY
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