The ‘Left Errors’ and the Partisan Crisis, <i>c.</i> February–June 1942

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 ‘Left Errors’ and the Partisan Crisis, c. February–June 1942

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The policy pursued by the KPJ and Partisan leadership in the period of the Foca Republic marked a step away from a Serb-oriented resistance strategy, towards one that was genuinely multinational. Nevertheless, the shift in strategy could not, in the short term, defuse the crisis that was enveloping the Partisan movement as a result of the conflict with the Chetniks. The character of the Partisan base — overwhelmingly Serb and peasant and prone to xenophobia towards non-Serbs and non-peasants — made it a fertile ground for the spread of Chetnik propaganda emphasizing the allegedly alien and ‘anti-Serb’ character of the Communists. Chetnik agitation and propaganda consequently undermined the Partisan movement from within. Meanwhile, the Communists responded to the crisis with various, contradictory measures that accelerated the Partisan decline. These ranged from continuing efforts at accommodating the chauvinistic sentiments of the Partisan rank-and-file; to ill-judged actions against individual Partisans guilty of pro-Chetnik agitation, which often served to inflame the feelings of other Partisans against the Communists; to left-extremist excesses and the mass killing of so-called ‘fifth columnists’ and ‘kulaks’, as well as of ordinary civilians of all nationalities; possibly even to collaboration with the NDH's armed forces against the Chetniks. The combination of Chetnik agitation and propaganda, Communist confusion and errors, and Axis and Ustasha military assaults, resulted in the virtual collapse of the Partisan movement in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Keywords: KPJ; Partisans; Foca Republic; Chetniks; Communists; Partisan movement; Bosnia-Hercegovina

Chapter.  19485 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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