Yugoslavia in the Second World War

Anushka Limaye, 4th period HOA II

Background

Yugoslavia did not enter the war as a matter of choice. On April 6, 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded and was partitioned off between the Axis forces: Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria. During occupation, the initial opposers to foreign invasion were the Partisans and the Chetniks. The Partisans, officially known as the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, were Europe's most effective resistance movement. Led by Josip Tito, their main objectives were to fight occupying forces and to create a multi-ethnic communist state. As the war progressed, however, their objectives also included winning against other groups in Yugoslavia for control of the region. The Chetniks, officially known as the Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army, were led by Draza Mihailovic. As they were not a homogeneous group (due to multiple instances of splintering), their objectives differed. However, all of their force engaged in collaboration with occupying powers to some degree, although they called it 'using the enemy'. The main collaboration force, however, was the Ustaše, a fascist group that believed in ethnic cleansing just as much as the Nazis did and who believed that the best way to get rid of the Nazis was by working with them. These groups interacted in ways concerning the occupying forces during the war, and had a power struggle after. Ultimately, the Partisans came out on top, with the Ustaše attempting to flee to Austria and the Chetniks fizling out due to lack of unity.
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Stejepan Filipović, a member of Yugoslavian National Liberation Army and People's Hero of Yugoslavia, shouts the Partisan motto, “Death to Fascism, freedom to the people!”, from the gallows on which he will shortly be hanged by a Nazi unit.


Vasić, Slobodanka. Stjepan Stevo Filipović. 1942. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stjepan_Stevo_Filipovi%C4%87.jpg#/media/File:Stjepan_Stevo_Filipovi%C4%87.jpg>.

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Jelena Ćetković, a Montenegrin communist, speaks at the death of a comrade. Best known for organizing the assassination of the deputy governor of the Banjica concentration camp, she was posthumously declared a national hero of Yugoslavia. Her actions represented not only the resistance movement but also the contribution of women to such movements.

Unknown. Jelena Ćetković. 1936. Zbornik Sećanja Aktivista Jugoslovenskog Revolucionarnog Radničkog Pokreta, Book Three, Belgrade. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jelena_%C4%86etkovi%C4%87.jpg#/media/File:Jelena_%C4%86etkovi%C4%87.jpg>.
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This poster was a piece of propaganda used by the Croatian resistance. It says, “ Everybody into the fight for the freedom of Croatia”, and as is depicted on the poster, calls men and women to join the fight. The occupation of Yugoslavia, therefore, incited some level of segmented resistance against the Axis powers.

People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. Propaganda Poster of Croatian Partisans, WW2. N.p.: n.p., 1941-1945. Print. Currently housed in the Croatian History Museum; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Partizanski_plakat.jpg#/media/File:Partizanski_plakat.jpg
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This woman, Martha Puntz, is a Partisan fighter who has been captured and publicly shamed, most likely before being executed. The sign hanging around her neck reads, "I'm the rifle Martha Puntz and murdered 8 and was involved in several other cases "

Unknown. Captured Partisan Marta Puntz, Activist in the Savinja Detachment, Shamed on the Streets of Celje. 1942. Public Domain. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ujeta_partizanka_Marta_Punc.jpg#/media/File:Ujeta_partizanka_Marta_Punc.jpg>.
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Josip Tito, the leader of the Partisan resistance movement, stands strong in this picture, looking out at his country with a hard eye. This picture, taken profile from a low angle, depicts Tito as strong in order to encourage a good image for the movement

Unknown. Josip Broz Tito in Bihać. 1942. Marxist Internet Archive. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Josip_Broz_Tito_Biha%C4%87_1942.jpg#/media/File:Josip_Broz_Tito_Biha%C4%87_1942.jpg>.
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The clearly influential man in the center of the photograph is Draža Mihailović, the leader of another Yugoslavian movement, the Chetniks. He is seen here conferring with his men, dressed in his typical hat and glasses in the image of 'Uncle Draža'. Shown as a kindly old man, the Draža in this photograph contradicts the one that was commonly thought to have encouraged Chetnik collaboration with the occupying Germans.

Unknown. Chetnik Leader Draza Mihailovic Confers with His Men. between 1941 and 1945. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dra%C5%BEa_confers_with_his_men.jpg#/media/File:Dra%C5%BEa_confers_with_his_men.jpg>.
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The mix of Chetnik and German soldiers depicted here show the collaboration of organizations whose initial goals seemed diametrically opposed. The Chetniks, who started off wholeheartedly opposing occupation, established a strategy of collaboration during the war ('using the enemy', as they called it) in order to achieve their idea of an ethnically homogeneous Serbian state.

Unknown. Chetniks Pose with German Soldiers. N.d. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. By Muzej Revolucije Narodnosti Jugoslavije. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chetniks_pose_with_German_soldiers.jpg#/media/File:Chetniks_pose_with_German_soldiers.jpg>.
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Another group in Yugoslavia, the Ustaše, were ardent supporters of and collaborators with the occupying forces. The reason for this is because the Ustaše were a hyper-nationalist, fascist, hyper-religious organization whose purpose was to create an ethnically homogeneous Croatian state through wiping out all of the Serbs, Jews, and Roma people. In this photo, the Ustaše are forcibly mass converting Serbs to Catholicism.

Unknown. Glina Church Massacre. 1941. Public Domain. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glina_church_massacre.jpg#/media/File:Glina_church_massacre.jpg>.
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In this harrowing photo, a group of Ustaše soldiers are sawing off the head of a living Serbian man, a reminder of the brutality and dehumanization that persisted during the time. Some of the Ustaše even appear to be smiling, thereby depicting the extent to which they had been desensitized to the torture and dehumanization of others.

Unknown. Ustaše Sawing off the Head of a Serb Civilian. between 1941 and 1945. Banja Luka, Republika Srpska. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Usta%C5%A1e_sawing_off_the_head_of_a_Serb_civilian.jpg#/media/File:Usta%C5%A1e_sawing_off_the_head_of_a_Serb_civilian.jpg>.
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Hitler looks out over a bridge in Yugoslavia shortly before ordering his officials to 'make these lands German again'. The fact that Hitler is personally in the country is a testament to Germany's perception of Yugoslavia's importance as well as an expression of Hitler's desire for both Lebensraum and an ethnically homogeneous German state.

Bild Bundesarchiv. Adolf Hitler. 1940. German Federal Archive. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_121-0723,_Marburg-Drau,_Adolf_Hitler.jpg#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_121-0723,_Marburg-Drau,_Adolf_Hitler.jpg>.
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A crowd gathered outside city hall in Sarajevo sees the Nazi flag go up. One member of the crowd (bottom right), even stands in salute of the flag on its way up. This photo depicts the extent to which the occupied territory, Yugoslavia, had to take the governmental and representative structures of the occupying territory (Germany).

Unknown. 1941. National Archives and Records Museum, College Park. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005456>.
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Children suffer in a concentration camp located in Yugoslavia. The ethnic ideals and goals of the conflicting parties in power are the reason why the death toll in Yugoslavia was so high as well as why these children are in this camp.

Unknown. Children in Sisak Concentration Camp. between 1941 and 1945. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Children_in_Sisak_concentration_camp.jpg#/media/File:Children_in_Sisak_concentration_camp.jpg>.
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In this photo, a group of hostages are shot by Italian forces. The occupying countries in Yugoslavia at the time were not limited to Germany, but also included Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy. Out of these, Italy and Germany committed the most atrocities, and are therefore better known for occupation.

Unknown. Italian Soldiers Shooting Slovenian Hostages from Village Dane in Loška Dolina. Names of Victims: Franc Žnidaršič, Janez Kranjc, Franc Škerbec, Feliks Žnidaršič in Edvard Škerbec. 1942. Muceniska Pot K Svobodi. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://muceniskapot.nuovaalabarda.org/galleria-slo-3.php>.
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A man is hung and publicly shamed at a crossroads in a village square. He has a sign hanging around his neck that begins with the words, 'I, Milorad Stacic'. People in the street stare at him and his sign in an effort to read what is written. This depicts the punishment for some civilians in occupied Yugoslavia.

Unknown. Prvi Obešeni Gorenjec. 1941. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prvi_obe%C5%A1eni_Gorenjec.jpg#/media/File:Prvi_obe%C5%A1eni_Gorenjec.jpg>.
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On the far rights of this photo stands Dido Kvaternik, a Ustaše General Lieutenant. He is responsible for a reign of terror on the Jews, Roma, and Serbians of the puppet state of Croatia, despite his Jewish heritage on his maternal side. The other two men are also Ustaše heads, and have similar regimes of terror.

Unknown. Kvaternik, Francetić, Lorković. 1942. Scanned from Tko Je Tko UNDH Book. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kvaternik,_Franceti%C4%87,_Lorkovi%C4%87.jpg#/media/File:Kvaternik,_Franceti%C4%87,_Lorkovi%C4%87.jpg>.
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German soldiers arrest the people of Kragujevac for resisting occupation. Men from the town were taken and shot to death in what is known as the Kragujevac Massacre. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people were killed.

Unknown. German Soldiers Arresting in 1941 People in Kragujevac. 1941. United States Holocaust Museum, Washington DC. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:German_Soldierss_arresting_in_1941_people_in_Kragujevac.jpg#/media/File:German_Soldierss_arresting_in_1941_people_in_Kragujevac.jpg>.
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After the war, the Partisan soldiers killed many people of Italian, German, Hungarian, and Bulgarian descent in retaliation for occupation during the war. Regardless of whether or not there was proof of collaboration or even involvement, many people were shot based on their ethnicity. In this photo, people of Italian descent from a nearby town attempt to identify bodies that have been burned.

Unknown. Foibe1. unknown. Italian Archives. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag.Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Foibe1.jpg#/media/File:Foibe1.jpg>.
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This picture depicts a massacre perpetrated by the Partisans of anyone believed to have collaborated with occupying forces during the war. In this photo, we see indiscriminate killing ironically in retribution for the way that many people in Yugoslavia were treated during the war.

Unknown. Odkritje Trupel. 1941-1945. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Odkritje_trupel.jpg#/media/File:Odkritje_trupel.jpg>.