|The Chetniks symbolism
The Chetniks were members of a Serbian nationalist and royalist guerrilla organization named after a 19th century Serbian
movement opposing Ottoman rule. The term is also applied to the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, a guerilla force during the
Second World War.
Chetniks were originally formed as a result of the Macedonian (Slav) struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Soon, other
ethnic groups in the Balkans created their own Chetnik detachments: Serbs, Bulgarians, Greek Andartes, and Albanian Kacaci.
At first, the Ottoman rulers offered little resistance to the Chetnik detachments. The Ottomans theorized that the various
groups were primarily occupied in conflicts with each other. But, the Chetniks fought the Turks in Herzegovina. In northern
Macedonia, the Chetniks fought against the Turks and pro-Turkish Albanians.
|The Chetniks symbolism
First Balkan War
At the start of the First Balkan War there were one-hundred-and-ten Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO)
detachments, one-hundred-and-eight Greek detachments, thirty Serbian detachments, and five Vlach detachments. These Chetnik
detachments supported their respective sides in the Turkish rear in the First Balkan War.
|Chetnik Momcilo Djujic
The Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland
The Chetniks were not a homogenous organization. There where many groups and several leaders, many of which fought each
other. In Croatia and Bosnia at the early stages of the so-called Independent State of Croatia NDH, a nazist puppet state,
local Chetnik units collaborated with Ustashe against the communist partisans. After the collapse of the so-called 1st Yugoslavia
in 1941, many Serbs saw in the prewar chetnik association and in its 1932 president Kosta Pecanac the force which would start
the action against the enemy who occupied the country. They never doubted about his patriotism, although they considerd him
a controversial and reactionary person. Some time before the German invasion, the Yugoslav Ministry of Army and Navy requested
from Pecanac to form guerilla operation in Southern parts of Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo, probably with the goal of controlling
pro-Bulgarian and pro-Albanian population of those parts. He was supplied with certain amount of weapons and money and he
managed to organize and arm several hundred men concentrated in the valley of river Toplica in South Serbia. This army remained
intact after German occupation of Serbia, and its ranks were filled by refuges from Macedonia and Kosovo. It seems that there
were some conflicts between these detachments and the Albanian groups in the beginning of the summer 1941. Only then Draza
Mihajlovic, still unknown to the most of the Serbian population, organized his forces at Ravna Gora.
He gathered a small group of officers and soldiers who refused to surrender to the Germans. After arriving at Ravna Gora,
Serbia on May 8, he realized that he had only seven officers and twenty four non-commissioned officers and soldiers. In the
early months of the German occupation and for a considerable time later, term "cetnik (chetnik)" was identified
only to the detachments of Kosta Pecanac which were much better known then Drazinovci, Draza's men. Few months after the beginning
of the war with the appearance of the communist lead partisans, Kosta Milovanovic Pecanac gave up the idea of becoming the
resistance force and by the end of August 1941 made an agreement with Serbian Quisling government and German occupation authorities
to fight the partisans with his detachments. In other words after five months the chetniks organization of Kosta Pecanac became
an instrument of the occupation regime.
At Ravna Gora, Mihailovic organized the Chetnik detachments of the Yugoslav Army. These became the Military-chetnik detachments
and finally the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (Jugoslovenska vojska u otadzbini). They were, however, Serbian nationalists
as they didn't recognize any other nationality in the so-called First Yugoslavia except the Serbian one.
The first Chetnik formations led by Mihailovic were formed around Ravna Gora on June 14,. The declared goal of the Chetniks
was the liberation of the not-anymore-existing country from the occupying armies including the forces of Nazi Germany, Fascist
Italy and Ustase (the fascist regime of the Croatia).
Mihailovic decided against a mass uprising because of catastrophical Serb losses in the World War I, in which the Kingdom
of Serbia lost a quarter of its population. Pecanac and Mihailovic became rivals, both claiming the Chetnik heritage. Pecanac
was executed in 1944 by Mihailovic's Chetniks for treason upon his capture.
|Chetniks and 'slivovica'
The British Special Operations Executive were being sent to aid Mihailovic's forces beginning in Autumn of 1941. Mihailovic
rose in rank, becoming the Minister of War of the exile government in January 11, 1942 and General and Deputy Commander-in-Chief
on June 17 the same year.
The Chetniks of Serbia moved to Bosnia. There other chetnik groups were already active. They engaged in heavy combat with
both the partisans and the Croat Ustasha and regular troops, resulting in many war crimes and atrocities in today's Bosnia
In 1943, the Germans decided to pursue the Chetniks in the northern zone, and offered a reward of 100,000 Reichsmarks
for the capture of Mihailovic, dead or alive. During the so-called Battle of the Neretva river in 1943, the Chetniks were
fighting on the German and Italian side against the Tito's partisans. However, the Germans planned to disarm them after winning
the battle against the partisans.
By the middle of the 1943, the partisan movement had successfully survived an intense period of Axis pressure, while the
Chetniks had almost entirely abandoned anti-German activities in favour of fighting the partisans. Consequently, at the Tehran
Conference in November 1943, the Allies decided to cease their support of the Chetniks, and switch allegiances to Tito's partisans,
who were considered the main anti-fascist resistance group in Yugoslavia.
|Children are brought up as Chetniks as well
Towards the end of the war, Mihailovic began to hide in the Eastern Bosnia. Nikola Kalabic, his war comrade was the only person
who knew where Mihajlovic was. In exchange for freedom, since Kalabic was wanted as well, he told where Draza Mihajlovic was
hiding. He was captured on March 13, 1946 by agents of OZNA (Odsjek Zastite Naroda - Department of National Security). Tried
for high treason and war crimes from June 10 to July 15, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad on July
15th. The Presidium of the National Assembly rejected the clemency appeal on July 16. He was executed together with nine other
officers in the early hours of 18 July 1946, in Lisiciji Potok, about 200 meters from the former Royal Palace, and buried
in an unmarked grave on the same spot. His main prosecutor was Milos Minic, later minister of foreign affairs for the Communist
government of Yugoslavia.
The execution of Draza Mihajlovic was a sticking point in Franco-Yugoslav relations. Charles de Gaulle, refused to visit
Yugoslavia due to what he viewed as Mihailovic's murder by Marshal Tito's communist regime.
|A Chetnik holding a picture of his hero - modern day Chetnik Slobodan Milosevic
Modern era Chetniks
Vojislav Seselj, a leader of the Serbian Radical Party, held a rank of voivoda of the Chetniks, given to him in 1989 by
Momcilo DJujic, a surviving leader of the WWII Chetniks who fled to the United States. The modern Chetnik supporters fought
against the internationally recognized Croatia, trying to separate those parts of the Croatian territory. Their ideology was
based upon the old Greater Serbia plans (Nacertanie by Ilija Garasanin), who proposed a furious fight against the Croats "until
our or your extermination" ("do istrebe nase ili vase") in the middle of the 19th century. This ideology can
surely be compared to the Nazi ideas, as it was xenophobic, intolerant and violent. At least 20,000 people were killed in
Croatia and over 200,000 in Bosnia due to this blood-thirsty plans. The most known massacre is the Srebrenica massacre, where
8,000 Muslim males were killed on a single day. Vojislav Seselj is now standing trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal
in The Hague, Netherlands.
|The Chetniks during the 1990's
|The Chetniks at a sport event