Introduction to
The West’s Long War Against Serbia;
The Paradoxes of Yugoslav History
“Serbia Unchained”

Drazha Mikhailovich in 1943Political and military analyst The Saker recently stirred considerable controversy with a deep and personal reflection on the World War II role and historical significance of the leader of the Serbian and Yugoslav anri-Nazi resistance movement, General Draza Mihailovic. Besides Mihailovic there was also, of course, a rival group ostensibly opposing Axis occupation of Yugoslavia, known as Partisans. But their character, methods, and ultimate objectives were starkly different. Gen. Mihailovic was a non-ideological patriot and an officer of the Yugoslav army who refused to accept defeat at the hands of invading German and Italian forces in April of 1941. With like-minded fellow officers, he moved quickly in mid-May 1941 to organize a broad-based national resistance movement to thwart the occupiers’ strategic plans and to inflict maximum damage to their vital installations and manpower. Late in 1941, when the successful formation of his movement became widely known, he was appointed by the exiled Yugoslav government in London as its war minister and his guerrilla army officially became the undefeated Yugoslav Army in the Homeland. Mihailovic and his troops represented the legal government and its institutions in the Axis occupied country of Yugoslavia.

The Partisan troops, on the other hand, were the military expression of the illegal Communist Party. Despite having many sincere people anxious to resist the invader in its lower ranks, the Partisan force was under the tight control of Communist Party cadres who had their own ideological agenda. The Communist Party leadership took its orders from the Comintern in Moscow and had little sentimental regard for the wishes and objectives of non-ideological followers who happened to join the guerrilla organization under its command. In fact, between the start of Axis occupation in mid-April 1941 and the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22 of that year, due to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact Yugoslav Communists were technically allied with the Nazis and were neither harassed by them nor offered any resistance whatsoever to the occupation. They belatedly stirred into action on July 7, 1941, and then only for the explicit purpose of causing local diversions and tying down German troops in order to relieve the hard-pressed Red Army on the Eastern Front.

But simultaneously they had another important objective which was carefully hidden from the populace until nearly the end of the war. It was to instigate a communist revolution and seize power, completely overturning the social system and moral institutions of the constituent nations of Yugoslavia. Tactics were always adjusted to circumstances, but the strategic objective remained invariable: seizure of absolute and uncontested power by the totalitarian and slavishly Stalinist Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

Given those fundamentals, the democratic and patriotic movement under the leadership of General Mihailovic and the troops assembled by the Communists on the false pretense of ostensibly fighting occupying forces inevitably had to clash, and they did. Their goals, ethos,and ultimate inspiration were totally divergent.

But there was also another major player on the Yugoslav occupation landscape during World War II which left an indelible mark on the character of the events which were taking place. It was the pro-Fascist Croat separatist movement known as the Ustashi, initially under the tutelage of Mussolini’s, and later Hitler’s, protege Ante Pavelic. The Ustashi ideology was a mixture of fascism and Catholic clericalism, with strong Croatian nationalist accents. It was also characterized by a visceral hatred of the Orthodox Serbs, who were deemed “schismatics” and formed up to a third of the population of the satellite state under Axis auspices proclaimed by the Ustashi on April 10, 1941. One of the main points in the Ustashi political program was the physical obliteration of the bulk of the Serbian population within the confines of the state awarded to them. The balance were to be forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism or expelled.

The ensuing slaughter of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in the territories under Croat Ustashi control, which besides Croatia proper also included Bosnia and Herzegovina, constitutes one of the most sordid chapters of World War II history. It is reliably estimated that at least five hundred thousand Serbs were butchered using the most gruesome methods which shocked even the German and especially Italian occupation authorities. The Jewish population was virtually wiped out and the Gypsies, considered untermenschen by the Ustashi as well as the Germans, were decimated. The principal symbol of the genocidal reign of terror instituted by the Ustashi was Jasenovac concentration camp, known also according to the assessment of Israeli scholar Gideon Greif as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans.”

A basic question that obviously arises is why the horrible World War II carnage in the Axis and Vatican allied Independent State of Croatia has received such scant attention among the general public. Books have been written and there is a body of scholarly research and knowledge on the subject, but that is largely confined to a narrow circle of specialists. Unlike the widely disseminated details of the Jewish holocaust, there is no broad awareness of the genocide inflicted on the Serbian people in the Croat Ustashi state between 1941 and 1945.

Why is that? The analytical essay that follows, “The West’s Long War Against Serbia: The Paradoxes of Yugoslav History,” answers that important question. The genocide of several hundred thousand Serbs and thousands of other residents of wartime Croatia deemed undesirable by the Croat Catholic Ustashi was swept under the rug and kept under wraps for very precise political reasons dictated by cynical geopolitical considerations. As World War II was ending, powerful forces within the Western alliance were determined to block the expansion of socialism and curb Soviet influence in Europe, which was rising as a result of the resounding victory over fascism achieved by the Red Army. The Vatican and its many “divisions” to which Stalin sneeringly referred in his famous question to Churchill became after 1945 valued assets in the Cold War that was on the horizon and containment operations aimed against the Soviet Union. The US and Great Britain turned a blind eye on the Vatican’s cordial ambivalence, to put it mildly, toward Hitler and Mussolini. Its social and political influence was now of critical importance to distract Catholic European masses from social reform and to mobilize them in the ranks of church-sponsored “Christian Democratic” parties set up as a political counterweight to burgeoning socialist movements.

The widespread dissemination of factual knowledge about the medieval bloodbath of Serbian and other “schismatics” sponsored by the Vatican through its Ustashi Croat acolytes would have demolished the moral credibility and political usefulness of the Roman Catholic church in the post-war configuration. Therefore, research, public discussion, and ultimately general knowledge of the genocide perpetrated in the Nazi satellite, Vatican supported, Catholic Independent State of Croatia had to be suppressed at all costs. That is exactly what was done. The “Long war” essay explains how and why that happened.

It also explains one of the abiding mysteries of World War II, the otherwise inexplicable shift in Western Allies’ policy late in 1943 from supporting General Mihailovic to abandoning him in favor of the Communist Tito, who was thus allowed at war’s end to seize power in Yugoslavia although he and his Party clearly lacked popular support. The key to understanding why Mihailovic was jettisoned and Tito embraced was the need to ensure that the lid was tightly kept on the Vatican/Croat Ustashi outrages. The patriot Mihailovic would have had their crimes investigated, documented, publicized, and punished. The internationalist adventurer Tito was unconcerned by them. For him, sweeping them under the rug was a small price to pay for the opportunity to be installed as the ruler of Yugoslavia and to murder his rival Mihailovic in 1946 after a Stalinist show trial. Significantly, in August 1944 Tito was flown by the British over to Italy, where on the 12th he had a meeting with Churchill and on the 14th a secret audience with Pope Pius XII. Notes from these meetings have still not been declassified, but based on subsequent policies and events it is possible to surmise what topics were discussed and commitments made.

Interestingly, the principal theses of this essay, which was meticulously researched and written several years ago, have recently received additional corroboration in the ground-breaking book “Ustashas: el ejercito Nazi de Peron y el Vaticano” (The Ustashi: Peron’s and the Vatican’s Nazi Army) by Argentine historian Ignacio Montes de Oca (Buenos Aires, Random House Mondadori, 2013). Having thoroughly researched available Argentine government files, Montes de Oca demonstrates beyond doubt the existence of a post-war arrangement of Western intelligence agencies with the Argentine government for the explicit purpose of moving out of Europe and sheltering in Argentina a reserve army of Croat Ustashi and other Nazi sympathizers for prospective future use in the impending Cold War.

The essay that follows is provocative and enlightening. It connects an enormous number of dots and makes an important chapter of modern history more fully intelligible.

This Introduction was originally published on The Saker's Blog.

Further reading on this site about Serbia:

See also:

The Saker has written much about the injustice of the West toward Serbia. A very interesting film about Drazha Mikhailovich (including WW2-era archival footage) entitled "DRAZA MIHAILOVICH: Hero & Punishment" is available here.

Some poorly-informed people believe that the break-up of Yugoslavia into Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, etc., after Tito's death was simply due to supposed "religious animosities" between Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims, allegedly kept in check by Tito (ignoring the fact that adherents to these religions had lived together peacably in the Balkans for hundreds of years). That break-up (and the resulting ethnic conflicts in the early 1990s) was actually caused by the then West German government, as Mulga Mumblebrain (in a comment on July 14, 2015) says:
The destruction of Yugoslavia, a real genocidal project typical of the Exceptionalists (their propensity for mass murder and genocide goes back to the injunctions for such in the Old Testament/Torah, the oldest extant written record of genocide as religious obligation) began straight after Tito's death. The agents of the 'Washington Consensus', the IMF and World Bank began insisting on dealing, not with the Yugoslav Government, but with the individual states. West Germany, the Nazi-successor state, its bureaucracy, business and politics stuffed with Nazis and the descendants of Nazis, began to repay their war-time allies in Bosnia (Itzetbegovic fought with the Nazis), Croatia and Slovenia, by agitating for their 'freedom'. One ought not neglect the near certainty that the German Reich's current brutal devastation of Greece is, similarly, pay-back for fighting the Reich during WW2. The Vatican, another close ally and supporter of WW2 Balkan fascism lent its oily assistance, under the Pole Wojtyla, a diversion from his strenuous efforts to protect paedophile priests, and the fascist emigres that had spent decades hiding out in the West, given safe haven by the 'Free World' despite their hideous wartime crimes, swarmed back into Yugoslavia, and the rest is history. The contribution of al-Qaeda to the Bosnian cause and later the Kosovar, ought not to be forgotten, their jihadist butchers flown in by the USA, as was bin Laden, to cheer up his troops.

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