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Dragoljub Mihailović (1893-1946)

Last modified: 7 June 2010
Yves Tomic

June 2010

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Yves Tomic, Mihailović (1893-1946), Dragoljub, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, [online], published on 7 June 2010, accessed 19 September 2014, URL : http://www.massviolence.org/Mihailovi-Dragoljub-1893-1946, ISSN 1961-9898

Officer in the Army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, he became military attaché in Sofia in 1935 and then Prague in 1936. In May 1937, he became chief of staff of the Drava Division based in Ljubljana. In April 1938, he held the post of commander of the 39th infantry regiment in Celje. Promoted to colonel in 1939, he was transferred to the Military Academy of Belgrade. Commander in the Second Yugoslav Army based in Bosnia during the April 1941 war, he withdrew with his men to western Serbia in the region of Ravna Gora, situated between the towns of Valjevo and Čačak, after having refused to recognize the country’s surrender on 15 April. Having opted for resistance to the Axis forces, during summer 1941 Draža Mihailović established an embryonic high command under the name of Command of Četnic Detachments of the Yugoslav Army. These units were shortly afterwards renamed ‘military-četnik detachments’ (Vojno-četnicki odredi).

In November 1941, the Yugoslav government in exile appointed Draža Mihailović commander of the patriotic forces that had remained in Yugoslavia. The četnik forces were now renamed ‘Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland’ (Jugoslovenska vojska u Otadžbini, JVUO) in order to stress the military and state continuity with pre-war Yugoslavia. In January 1942, Draža Mihailović was appointed Army, Navy and Air Force Minister by the Yugoslav government in exile. Although essentially military, the Ravna Gora movement equipped itself with a political wing in August 1941, by creating a Central National Committee of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Centralni nacionalni komitet Kraljevine Jugoslavije, CNK), which was supposed to bring together the heads of the political parties who had remained in the country, the representatives of patriotic organizations, and famous intellectuals.

Draža Mihailović was opposed to a precipitate struggle against the Germans. He wanted, as far as possible, to preserve the Serbian population from pointless losses and preferred to wait for the most opportune moment to launch an insurrection against the occupying forces. Although presented by the western press, British and American, as the head of the first guerrilla movement in occupied Europe, Draža Mihailović did not initiate any battle of significance against the occupying forces. On the contrary, having made the communist partisans his main enemies, the armed forces identified with his movement were led to collaborate with the Italians and Germans, particularly in 1943.

Confronted with the entry of the Red Army into Serbia, he took refuge in northern Bosnia in September 1944. Arrested in March 1946, he was tried from 10 June to 15 July 1946, on which date he was condemned to death.

Source: Nikolić, K., 2005, General Dragoljub Mihailović, 1893-1946, Belgrade: Zavod za Udžbenike I nastavna sredstva.

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence® - ISSN 1961-9898