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Mihailovic file photo [868]

Dragoljub Mihailovic

Given NameDragoljub
Born26 Apr 1893
Died17 Jul 1946


ww2dbaseDragoljub "Draza" Mihailovic was born in Ivanjica, Serbia, Austria-Hungary. He entered military academy in Serbia in Oct 1910, and was a veteran of the Balkans Wars and WW1. During the inter-war years he became a staff officer in the Yugoslavian Army and served as a military attaché in Sofia, Bulgaria and Prague, Czechoslovakia. For supporting the division of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines he was imprisoned for a month; this would have been the end of his career, but the European tension in the late 1930s meant his military talents would be valued. When the Germans came across the borders, his influence reached a height.

ww2dbaseYugoslavia capitulated in Apr 1941, but small groups continued to fight German occupation. Mihailovic led the monarchist Chetniks. Based out of Ravna Gora, he organized a loosely-connected resistance cells collectively called Chetnik (also spelled Chetnik or Chetniks). While initially aggressive, he realized that the Germans were stronger, thus he soon changed his strategy to limited skirmishes only, avoiding brutal German reprisals and building for the ultimate goal of restoring the Yugoslavian monarchy. On 17 Jun 1942, he was named the Minister of War of the exiled Yugoslavian government; shortly after, he was made the Deputy Commander-in-Chief. For his resistance, a large bounty was placed on his head by the Germans. His Chetniks were receiving British supplies since the fall of 1941, and then American supplies after the US entry into the war; meanwhile, the rival faction, the Communists under Josip Tito, was supported by the Soviet Union. In Nov 1943, the combination of his apparent lack of aggression and the influence of Soviet agents in the governments of the Western Allies led to the British and American decision to switch their support to Tito. Although Mihailovic and the Chetniks would continue to resist against the Germans and provide utmost aid to the Allied military effort (such as aiding downed Allied airmen), he would slowly become vilified by the Western Allies, an unfortunate side effect of the recognition of Tito. Part of it was fabricated in order to contrast him from Tito, but he was to blame as well: In order to secure the position of the Serbs, he and the Chetniks to employ terror tactics on Croats and Muslims, burning down villages and assassinating opposing leaders. Toward the end of the war, fearing the Communists, he went into hiding in eastern Bosnia.

ww2dbaseMihailovic was found and captured by the Communists on 12 Mar 1946. In a show trial, his lack of aggression against the German occupiers was said to result from his collaboration tendencies, and his anti-Communist stance was presented as disloyalty for his country. Some of the American airmen who benefited from his protection during the war attempted to provide him aid, but ultimately that effort achieved little. Mihailovic was found guilty of treason and was executed by firing squad on 17 Jul 1946. US President Harry Truman posthumously awarded Mihailovic the Legion of Merit for his effort in the rescue of American downed airmen, but international situation in the post-WW2 years meant that the award would be classified for years to come.

Gregory Freeman, The Forgotten 500

Last Major Revision: Feb 2006

Dragoljub Mihailovic Timeline

26 Apr 1893 Dragoljub Mihailovic was born in Ivanjica, Serbia, Austria-Hungary.
12 Mar 1946 Dragoljub Mihailovic was found and captured by Yugoslavian Communists in eastern Bosnia.
17 Jul 1946 Dragoljub Mihailovic was executed by firing squad in Yugoslavia.


Mihailovic with American OSS officers, date unknown

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
10 Aug 2007 04:11:33 AM

Ha,Ha,Ha! Who wrote this, my two year old doughter. He was with germans all the time and never wanted by them, as matter of fact they gave him support till the end of war while he was fighting with them as ally
2. dragoljub says:
12 Feb 2009 05:47:31 PM

it's easy to write foolish comments on the net and even easier when your name is Anonymous! By the way daughter is spelled with an a not an o....and the general was murdered on july 17 not july 18..thank you
3. Mladen says:
20 Jul 2015 08:50:43 AM

You need to check your facts. Chetniks were cooperating heavily with Germans starting from 1942/43. Today, Serbia right wingers try to change the history books and I believe this article is just a part of those efforts. There are many Muslim, Croat and Serbian people that are descedants of those killed by Chetniks. this article is a blatant attack on them.
4. Maja says:
12 Aug 2016 02:03:20 PM

They cooperated and with Ustashas also.
I wish someone could post that official written agreement from 1943 with Pavelic.
5. Anonymous says:
26 Feb 2020 08:49:11 AM

Mihailovic helped rescue 500 downed allied airmen from Yugoslavia. He was also an avid resistor who is nothing but a hero. He was wrongly murdered.
6. Anonymous says:
19 Mar 2020 03:01:14 PM

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All backs the story of Mihailovic by American flyers saved by him.

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Mihailovic with American OSS officers, date unknown

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