The Great Serb Reaction, <i>c.</i> August–December 1941

Marko Attila Hoare

in Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263808
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734458 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

The Great Serb Reaction, c. August–December 1941

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The KPJ's careful organization and preparation made it the most important leader of the Serb rebellion in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia in the summer of 1941. It was able to assume this position as a result of the social links that bound its members to the Serb peasants who comprised the overwhelming majority of the rebels. No other political group had prepared for participation in a guerrilla uprising and the KPJ therefore enjoyed a head start over all rivals in its quest for leadership over the latter. There was, however, a latent opposition among wide sections of the conservative, patriarchal, religious, and nationally homogenous Serb peasantry to the KPJ and the values it represented: urban civilization, cosmopolitanism, internationalism, republicanism, secularism, and equality of the sexes. The Chetnik movement in Bosnia-Hercegovina arose as a Serb-nationalist, conservative, anti-Croat, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and anti-urban resistance to the KPJ's leadership of the uprising-in short, a ‘Great Serb’ reaction to the ‘multinational Bosnian’ resistance proclaimed by the Communist leaders. The first months of the Partisan movement saw the Communists attempting to reconcile the military necessity of an alliance with the Chetniks with the political necessity of opposing the divisive and destructive chauvinism that they stood for. As the impossibility of squaring this circle became increasingly apparent, the Partisans were gradually, reluctantly but inexorably pushed into war with the Chetniks.

Keywords: KPJ; Serb rebellion; Bosnia-Hercegovina; Croatia; Chetniks; Partisan movement; Communists

Chapter.  21731 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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