Dragoljub Mihailovic

(b. 1893)

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Tito (1892—1980) Yugoslav Marshal and statesman, Prime Minister 1945–53 and President 1953–80


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(b. Ivanjica, Serbia, 27 Apr. 1893; d. Belgrade, 17 July 1946)

Serb; Yugoslav general and non-Communist (Cetnik) resistance leader; Minister for War in Yugoslav government-in-exile 1941–4 As a Serbian professional soldier Mihailovic served in the Balkan Wars and the First World War and rose in the Yugoslav army to be lieutenant-colonel in 1929. In the 1930s he served abroad as a military attaché and later in Belgrade as head of the army's educational section. In 1939–40 he opposed official policy on the close relationship with Germany and on defence strategy (arguing that Bosnia, not Slovenia, should be the main line of defence). With the German invasion in 1941 he was given command of the Second Army in Bosnia, but after the Croat capitulation his army disintegrated and he withdrew the loyal remnants to the Ravna Gora area of Serbia.

His strategy was to develop an underground organization, based on royalist and Serbian nationalist values, which, when Allied support became available, would lead a national uprising. In 1941 he refused Tito's offer to form a joint resistance, regarding the Partisans as a key threat to the monarchy (in 1942–3 he even helped the Germans and Italians against the Partisans). The London-based government-in-exile made him Minister for War and Commander of the ‘Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland’, with the rank of army general, but having a low opinion of all politicians he had few dealings with them. In 1943 his troops were heavily defeated by the Partisans and, with British support shifting decisively to the Partisans, in 1944 he was dismissed from the government on the eve of the Tito-Subasic agreement. Mihailovic fought on, even after the end of the war, but was eventually cornered in Bosnia by the Partisans in 1946, put on trial in Belgrade accused of war crimes and collaboration, and executed.

Subjects: Politics.

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