By Miloslav Samardzic
The first known German broadsheet announcing the executions of Serbs due to railway sabotage is dated June 12, 1942. On that day, the Germans shot three rail workers in Smederevo, claiming they had destroyed the brakes on a train.
US Col. Robert McDowell, the most educated Allied officer in Yugoslavia during the war, says that any true history of WW2 should mention 1942 as the “year of the great Yugoslav, or Serb, counterattack.”
Gen. Mihailovic knew that America would join the war, having heard it from President Roosevelt’s envoy William Donovan during his visit to Belgrade.
Col. McDowell further writes:
“But the General was sure that, if Soviet military or political resistance to Germany were crushed prior to the effective US intervention in Europe, no deployment of Allied military capacity could have stopped the annexation of Eastern Europe and much of Russia into Hitler’s Reich. Regardless of what happened with Hitler, such a German empire would then last at least for a generation.”
”That is why Gen. Mihailovich organized a network of saboteurs not just in Serbia, but in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, to disrupt railway traffic headed for Africa and the Eastern Front. Col. McDowell found out about this in the summer of 1942, not just from the Mediterranean intelligence HQ, but from Jewish organizations involved in smuggling Jews out of occupied Europe ”, said Colonel Dragan Krsmanovic.
Col. McDowell writes: “I checked information received from the Zionists with our other channels, and established it was accurate.”
Col. McDowell writes that Gen. Mihailovich launched the railway operations on his own. We know today that the British first asked for special attention to railroads in July 1942. After that, they made more requests, gave recognition, and made promises.
As recognition, the White House asked King Petar and Gen. Mihailovich to send a message to the American people and the U.S. military, to be broadcast at a specific date on all U.S. radio stations worldwide.
All the American radio stations carried the message from Gen. Mihailovich and King Petar on November 1, 1942.
Here was a poster the Germans put up throughout Serbia in 1942.
It shows a caricature of Gen. Mihailovic under a mined bridge being crossed by a train. Underneath, it says his men are also demolishing schools and churches, which was of course not true.
At the People’s Museum in Nis, historian Aleksandar Dincic also discovered a report from a German counter-sabotage group charged with tracking the most successful Chetnik saboteur unit, codenamed “Group Gordon.”
According to the Germans, “Gordon” performed an incredible 1499 acts of diversion and sabotage. It is the biggest documented tally of any sabotage unit in WW2. And those are just the ones the Germans knew about.
Another U.S. officer at the Chetnik HQ, guerrilla specialist Col. Albert Seitz, writes of Mihailovich:
“I can’t forget his magnificent struggle during the dark days when Rommel almost entered Alexandria… All the Chetnik efforts were devoted to blocking, diverting and destroying the railways in Morava Valley, leading to Salonica and Africa…The nationalists knew that war’s increasing pace demanded they constantly pressure the Germans and Bulgarians, so they would need entire divisions to secure their long communication lines, going south towards Greece and Africa and east through Bulgaria and Romania to southern Russia.”
In October 1942, Serbia is visited first by Heinrich Himmler, then Alexander Loehr. They thought the best way to stop the Chetniks was by executing more civilians. Loehr issues an order on October 28 to summarily execute “not just the armed men we capture, but also everyone we can prove is actively aiding the rebels, so anyone who declares for Mihailovich or is in his service.”
Loehr justified his cruelty by the seriousness of the situation:
”Everything is at stake in this struggle. There is no middle way. To consider this heroism of a freedom-loving people is inappropriate.”Serbia is soon covered in posters listing the names of executed Mihailovich supporters.
Some 70,000 Serbs were executed or killed in German punishment expeditions. Most of these Serbs were considered Mihailovich supporters.
”We know the Western allies broke all their promises from 1942. In the many books and movies devoted to operations in the Western Desert, not a single one mentions the role of Gen. Mihailovich and his men in winning the Battle for Africa”, said Colonel Dragan Krsmanovic.
Translation: Nebojsa Malic