Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monarchist Profile: Draža Mihailović

Dragoljub Mihailovic, better known as “Draza” Mihailovic, was one of the great monarchists of the Second World War yet also one of the most maligned and ill-treated by history. As leader of the Chetniks in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia he courageously led a hard and bitter fight for his King and country against overwhelming odds and ultimately betrayal by those who should have been his allies. This great patriot, loyal defender of his King and as proud a Serbian warrior as any could be was fated to end his life labeled as a “collaborator” and shot by his own countrymen on the preposterous charge of “treason”. For loyal Serbians he is a legendary hero but “Draza” Mihailovic is not much known outside of Eastern Europe and that certainly needs to change, both because of the inspirational nature of his life as well as the betrayal that brought him down on the part of the western democracies. It may not be pleasant to hear but the story should be told.

Dragoljub Mihailovic was born on April 27, 1893 in Serbia but as his parents died when he was still young he was raised by his uncle, Major Vladimir Mihailovic, in Belgrade after 1901. He later attended military academy and as a young cadet fought in the First Balkan War against the Turks and later in the Second Balkan War against Bulgaria. With this service under his belt he graduated fourth in his class and joined the ranks of the Serbian officer corps. In World War I he showed great courage in numerous battles against the Austrians, demonstrating great tenacity even in the midst of disastrous defeats. For his service he earned the Gold Medal for Bravery. Throughout the war his skill was continuously displayed, earning him the Order of the White Eagle, the British Military Cross and numerous other awards. At the end of the war Serbia was triumphant, becoming in time the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and Mihailovic was posted to the Royal Guards. However, his involvement in a fight in 1920 saw him posted to the Albanian frontier. However, he also married that same year and started a family and was later promoted to captain. He showed so much promise that he was among a select group of Serbian officers sent to France for special training in Paris.

In 1930 came promotion to lieutenant colonel. After a posting to Bulgaria he was promoted to colonel in 1935. He served again in the Royal Guard and later as an instructor at the military academy. In 1941 he fought against impossible odds when Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis forces of Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria. As Yugoslavia was overrun and divided by the Axis forces Mihailovic organized his troops into an effective royalist irregular army to continue the fight in the name of their King. These were the Chetniks, though that name is often applied to a wide array of irregular forces, not all of whom were under the command of Mihailovic though he was certainly the most famous and preeminent Chetnik leader of all. The situation was made even more difficult and complicated by the emergence of Soviet-backed communist partisans who were just as intent as anyone on destroying the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as it had been. Wishing to dominate post-war Serbia and appear as the only opposition force the communists took special aim at Mihailovic and his “Yugoslav Army of the Fatherland”. As a result Draza and his Chetniks were forced to spend most of their time fighting the partisans, fighting for the very soul of Serbia while a larger war raged around them.

Mihailovic and his Chetniks were, of course, on the side of the Allies against the Axis invaders. He fully cooperated with the Allies in a planned invasion of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav government-in-exile promoted him to General of the Army. However, the Soviet dictator Stalin vetoed this plan, pushing instead for an invasion of Western Europe so that his communists would have a free hand in dominating the east. Churchill and Roosevelt agreed and totally sold out the royalist Chetniks and all of Eastern Europe so Soviet domination. It was then, and only then, that some elements of the Chetniks began cooperating with the Germans as the only ally left to them in their war against the communist partisans. It is still fiercely debated whether or not Draza himself ever cooperated with the Germans at all but no doubt some did. However, the Germans also continued to target both the Chetniks and the partisans when either stood in their way and the Chetniks continued to rescue Allied pilots shot down over their area of operations.

It is worth keeping in mind as well, though it is not “politically correct” to do so, that the communist partisans were a direct threat, not only to the existence of “Greater Serbia” but the very soul of Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Germans, on the other hand, had originally had no interest in the region at all and became involved only in order to aid the Italians who were fighting the Greeks. Yugoslavia had, very briefly, been a member of the Axis under Prince-Regent Paul. The Italians were slightly different as they had long regarded Yugoslavia as an enemy and had sponsored the creation of an independent kingdom for the Croatians under an Italian monarch. However, even then, Serbia itself would still have something left. The communists, on the other hand, were the avowed enemies of the very existence of Serbia in every way that mattered in their anti-royalist and anti-Christian platform. However, choosing between the Axis and the communists would never have been necessary had not the western allies sold out Eastern Europe to Stalin and Yugoslavia to the communist partisans under “Tito” who Stalin (at that time) supported.

This confused situation prevailed throughout the final years of the Second World War with bloody and bitter fighting by all involved as the Soviet Red Army marched ever closer. Finally, in the most bitter betrayal of all, Churchill prevailed upon the young King Peter II of Yugoslavia to announce from London that the Chetniks were to put themselves under the command of the communist partisans of “Tito” according to the agreement made between the Western allies and Stalin. Draza Mihailovic was relieved of command and the top position given to “Tito”. However, the old warrior refused to give up, knowing far more about the reality of the situation on the ground than anyone in far away London and refusing to abandon his country to the godless Bolsheviks. He fought on as Soviet forces invaded Yugoslavia, refusing an American offer to smuggle him out of the country before he was captured by the communists. The old general said, “I prefer to lose my life in his country, than to live as an outcast in a strange land. I’ll stay with my soldiers and people to the end, in order to fulfill the duty to the King that he left me. For King and Fatherland - Freedom or Death!”

The Chetniks were soon all but wiped out the Red Army, many being massacred. Draza and some remnants tried to fight their way north but were finally captured. “Tito” telephoned Stalin personally to tell him the good news. The communists subjected Mihailovic to a show trial for “treason” from June 10 to July 15, 1946. Only two days after the inevitable guilty verdict he was taken out and shot by a communist firing squad on July 17, 1946 and buried in an unknown grave. Against impossible odds, in the most difficult situation imaginable, Draza Mihailovic had fought for his king and country regardless of the circumstances. Betrayed by his allies and handed over to the most bitter enemies of his country he faced his death with great nobility, willing to give his life for the Crown and cause he had so long served and fought for.

10 comments:

  1. A great profile again, as always. However, I'd like to point out to you, that Hungary did not invade Yugoslavia.

    Hungary waited until 10 April 1941, when Yugoslavia collapsed (we had a Treaty of Non-Agression in effect with Yugoslavia, it would've been spineless to attack her) and only then marched in to take back former Hungarian territories (the Southern Lands aka Vojvodina), which were snatched from her in the Treaty of Trianon (1920) after WWI. Our PM, Count Paul Teleki even shot himself in the head on 3 April because he didn't know Yugoslavia was going to collapse and thought that an invasion would break the Treaty (rightfully so). Those lands were occupied by Yugoslavia and they were not treating the Hungarian and German minorities as per the Human Rights Agreements signed with the peace treaties of Paris (1918-1921). We did not march in to 'invade' or to help the Axis powers; but to claim back what's rightfully ours. It was because of this that our Army did not venture south of the Danube and Sava rivers but stopped at the 1000-years old Hungarian border.

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  2. If the Western Invasion had come, we might also have a monarchy in a united Macedonia, instead of an autonomous and small communist one that would lead to political parties exploiting our nationalism for votes and money.

    And Petya, the monarch might have been Hungarian. :)

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  3. This monarchist Draža Mihailović was an good soldier and i can found and is very near in some aspects to the Mad Baron despite he colabored with the facist it was better than the reds.

    Also it is true that Winston Churchill let Stalin to ocupy Yugoslavia it is also true that they cannot do anything to prevent it (he planned an federal Kingdom of Yugoslavia), but in my opinion i dislike the Kingdom of Yugoslavia because it was just Serbian spoils of WWI and i will always consider that the real monarch of the lands of the so-called Yugoslavia (oviously excluding Serbia and Montenegro but including the Banat) is the Austro-Hungarian monarch Kaiser Otto von Hapsburg, god save him.

    And to the Hungarian reader of this blog i agree with you all the lands of Transilvania, Croatia, Slovakia, Etc are hungarian.

    Hi from Argentina.

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  4. Yugoslavia was another name for the "Greater Serbia" that Serbs had been dreaming of for a very long time. If you are Serbian, that has always been the ultimate goal, however, it probably was unrealistic to think that Croatia and Slovenia would easily go along with being under Serbian rule. As for WW1, as I've said before, it was just a tragedy that should never have happened. The Serbs had legitimate reasons for going to war (the biggest being that they were attacked) but Austria also had legitimate reasons such as the assassination of the Archduke and the support for the 'Black Hand' in the Serb government. However, none of that changes the fact that Draza was a great patriot and a great monarchist. The Serbian Royal Family today focuses on Serbia and makes no claim to Croatia or Slovenia. At the moment they are more concerned with losing what they have -such as the international effort to rob them of Kosovo.

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  5. You are right it is Yugo, domination, and slavia from slavs, literaly the kingdom of all the slavs an idea of the paslavism but about the Assasination of the Archduke at least in my oppinion was an plot of the Serbian goverment, but we cannot change what happened upon 96 years.

    Kosovo is rightfully Serbian it always had been since medieval times that is Serbian so we can say that Kosovo is Serbia despite what say the ONU or the great powers it will always be a part of Serbia.

    Hi from Argentina.

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  6. @marquitosidolo:
    Thanks for agreeing, it is so. :-) Hungary was murdered in 1920.

    Long live Otto, Crown Prince of Hungary and Croatia!

    However today's Hungarian Legitimists are considering Ferdinand VI (Prince Royal Ferdinand Zvonimir) to be the future king; as Otto II is very old now and Carl V did venture on the swampy fields of the Austrian Liberal media...

    Mr. Mad, I have always wondered; will you have anything on the Kingdom of Hungary (Monarch/Monarchist profiles, MM Videost etc)? As you have a vast knowledge of everything Monarchist, I doubt that you couldn't write a few posts about the glorious 945 years that Hungary was a Catholic monarchy. :) If you need any help from me or if there's anyone/anything you're interested in concerning Hungarian Monarchism, a Hungarian Monarchist is humbly at your service.

    The blog is great, keep up the good work!

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  7. I will, though the one Hungarian monarchist I would most like to write about I probably will not -it would be much to heavy on explanation- but there will be a Hungarian monarchist profile coming in its turn and I've had a vid planned for quite a while but just havn't been able to get to it. I do have a great interest in the country ever since my younger days when I worked on a neighboring ranch who had a hunting guide who was from Hungary and would talk at length about his history (as well as Transylvania, my God in Heaven he talked about that alot -absolutely adamant that Transylvania is Hungarian! Though I'm sure the Romanian friends would disagree of course). And I have (inadvertently) written twice about Hungary's last king.

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  8. Great article. I translated it into Czech language for a Czech monarchist website Pro monarchii; of course with a link back to the source.
    I hope you don't mind. :-)

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  9. Well, maybe it is because Draza Mihailovich was my grandmothers uncle, but I think his story should be shared more because there are not many who have given their life to help save their county

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