Jevđević in uniform, wearing the Order of the Star of Karađorđe
|Native name||Доброслав Јевђевић|
28 December 1895|
Miloševac near Prača, Bosnia Vilayet
|Died||2 October 1962
|Years of service||1941–1945|
|Commands held||Chetnik movement in Herzegovina|
|Awards||Order of the Star of Karađorđe|
Dobroslav Jevđević (Serbian Cyrillic: Доброслав Јевђевић, pronounced [dobroslaʋ jêʋdʑevitɕ]; 28 December 1895 – 2 October 1962) was a Bosnian Serb politician and self-appointed Chetnik commander (Serbo-Croatian: vojvoda, вoјвода) in the Herzegovina region of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II. He was a member of the interwar Chetnik Association and the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists, a Yugoslav National Party member of the National Assembly, and a leader of the opposition to King Alexander until the monarch's assassination in 1934. The following year, he became the propaganda chief for the Yugoslav government.
Following the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis in April 1941, he became a Chetnik leader in Herzegovina and joined the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović. Jevđević collaborated with the Italians and later the Germans in actions against the Yugoslav Partisans. Although Jevđević recognised the authority of Mihailović, who was aware of and approved of his collaboration with Axis forces, a number of factors effectively rendered him independent of Mihailović's command, except when he worked closely with Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin, Mihailović's designated commander in Dalmatia, Herzegovina, western Bosnia and southwestern Croatia.
During the joint Italian-Chetnik Operation Alfa, Jevđević's Chetniks, along with other Chetnik forces, were responsible for killing between 543 and 2,500 Bosnian Muslim and Catholic civilians in the Prozor region in October 1942. They also participated in one of the largest Axis anti-Partisan operations of the war, Case White, in the winter of 1943. His forces later merged with other collaborationist forces that had withdrawn towards the west, and were put under the command of the SS General Odilo Globocnik of the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral. Jevđević fled to Italy in the spring of 1945, where he was arrested by Allied military authorities and detained at a camp in Grottaglie. Having received considerable Allied support in Italy, he was eventually set free and Yugoslavia's requests for extradition were ignored. He lived under an assumed name in Rome, where he was involved in collecting reports for various western intelligence services and printing anti-communist publications. He resided in Rome until his death in October 1962.
Early life and political career
Dobroslav Jevđević was born in the hamlet of Miloševac in Prača, near the town of Rogatica on 28 December 1895 to Dimitrije and Angela Jevđević (née Kosorić). His family was of Serb-Montenegrin origin. He was raised in the Serbian Orthodox Christian faith and attended high school in Sarajevo, where he joined the revolutionary organisation known as Young Bosnia and became a friend of Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914.
Jevđević was a successful writer and poet in his youth. He studied law at the universities of Zagreb, Belgrade, and Vienna and spoke Serbian, Italian, German and French. His father died in 1916. Jevđević's political career began in 1918, when he became associated with a fascist organization strongly opposed to the rule of King Peter I of Serbia. During the inter–war period, he was one of the most influential Serb politicians in Bosnia. He was a member of the Chetnik Association, an aggressively Serb–chauvinist political movement of over 500,000 members led by Kosta Pećanac. He was also one of the leaders of the Independent Democratic Party of Yugoslavia (NDS) and headed the movement's military wing, the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists, which terrorized the Serbs in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia who refused to join the party. Jevđević later became a parliamentary candidate of the opposition Yugoslav National Party in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His tendency to cooperate with various Yugoslav political factions earned him the reputation of "being willing to sell himself to any political group in return for personal favours or advancement". He was appointed to the position of propaganda chief for the Yugoslav government by Prime Minister Bogoljub Jevtić in 1935. Jevđević approved of the creation of the Banovina of Croatia in 1939 and advocated a large Serb counterpart that would include most of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1941, his cousin, Colonel Dušan Radović, left Yugoslavia and joined the Royal Air Force (RAF).
World War II
After the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the newly created Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) implemented genocidal policies against the Serb, Jewish and Romani population. The Serb population began to resist, and Jevđević became a prominent leader of the Chetnik uprising against NDH authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1941. He was known for his pro-Italian sympathies prior to the war and Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović is reported to have jokingly described him as "an Italian who likes Serbs". In the summer of 1941, Jevđević established links with Italian authorities. In the belief that the Italian occupation of both Bosnia and Herzegovina would limit the freedom of action of the NDH to carry out its anti-Serb policies in a significant part of its territory, he and Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin sought to work with them. He also hoped that the Italians would allow the formation of a Serbian state of Bosnia and Herzegovina under their protection, but they were more interested in obtaining the practical assistance of his Chetniks in fighting the Partisans than helping Jevđević achieve his political aims.
On 20 October 1941, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin met and agreed to collaborate with the head of the information division of the Italian 6th Army Corps. In late January 1942, Jevđević offered to assist the Italians if they occupied Bosnia, and to organise Chetnik detachments to work alongside the Italians against the Communists. These contacts involved General Lorenzo Dalmazzo, commander of the Italian 6th Corps, and Chetnik leaders Stevo Radjenović, Trifunović-Birčanin, Jezdimir Dangić and Jevđević. In the spring and summer of 1942, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin regularly toured the villages in the Goražde, Kalinovik and Foča districts, encouraging the local civilians and Chetnik detachments to behave loyally towards the Italians. In May 1942, Jevđević met with German intelligence officers in Dubrovnik and was asked whether he would cooperate in the pacification of Bosnia. Mihailović was aware of and condoned the collaborationist arrangements entered into by Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin. Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin often met with Chetnik commander Momčilo Đujić in Split and the three men frequently argued over how to divide between themselves the financial assistance they were receiving from Italian authorities there.
In an internal Chetnik report of June 1942, Jevđević claimed that the proletarian brigades of the Partisans contained many "Jews, Gypsies and Muslims". In July 1942, he issued a proclamation to the "Serbs of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina" claiming that:
Tito, the supreme military chief of the Partisans, is a Croat from Zagreb. Pijade, the supreme political chief of the Partisans, is a Jew. Four-fifths of all armed Partisans were supplied to them by Pavelić's Croatian Army. Two-thirds of their officers are former Croatian officers. The financing of their movement is carried out by the powerful Croatian capitalists of Zagreb, Split, Sarajevo and Dubrovnik. Fifty percent of the Ustaše responsible for the massacres of Serbs are now in their ranks.
In mid-1942, the Chetniks became aware that the Italians were planning to largely withdraw from significant parts of the NDH that they had been occupying in force up to that time. Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin told the Italians that in response to this, Mihailović was considering evacuating Serb civilians from Herzegovina to Montenegro and moving Montenegrin Chetniks north to meet the Ustaše, who were expected to unleash a new wave of violence on Serb civilians. Over 22–23 July 1942, Mihailović chaired a conference with Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin in Avtovac, Herzegovina. On the second day of the conference, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin traveled to nearby Trebinje where they conferred with Herzegovinian Chetnik leaders Radmilo Grđić and Milan Šantić. The German consulate in Sarajevo reported that this meeting established the ultimate goals and immediate strategy of the Herzegovinian Chetniks as:
(1) the creation of Greater Serbia; (2) the destruction of the Partisans; (3) the removal of the Catholics and Muslims; (4) non-recognition of Croatia; (5) no collaboration with the Germans; and (6) temporary collaboration with the Italians for weapons, ammunition and food.
In July and August 1942. under the auspices of the Italians, the Chetniks thoroughly ethnically cleansed eastern Herzegovina of its Croats and Muslims. In August 1942, General Mario Roatta, commander of the Italian 2nd Army, contacted Jevđević and "legalised" 3,000 of his Chetniks, authorizing them to operate in eastern Herzegovina.
In the autumn of 1942, Jevđević took a radically different approach than other Chetnik leaders and favoured collaborating with Muslims to form Muslim Chetnik units in the fight against the Ustaše and the Partisans. He was in favour of such tolerance as a political tactic in areas where the Muslims were protected by the Germans. He considered it a necessity to be tolerant of Muslims for tactical reasons "while not forgetting there can be no true unity with them". He urged the Italian military to occupy all of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to end Ustaše rule and claimed the support of 80 percent of the population, consisting of Serbs and Muslims. At the same time, he requested that the Germans grant autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina until the end of the war, citing that Muslims were "tested friends of the Germans both in the earlier and in the present era". Although Jevđević attempted to recruit the Muslims while making use of the Bosnian desire for autonomy to support his alliance with the occupying Axis powers, nothing developed from these requests.
Towards the end of August 1942, Mihailović issued directives to Chetnik units, including those operating in the NDH such as Jevđević's forces, ordering them to prepare for a large scale anti-Partisan operation alongside Italian and NDH troops. In September 1942, aware that they were unable to defeat the Partisans alone, the Chetniks tried to persuade the Italians to undertake a large operation against the Partisans in western Bosnia. Trifunović-Birčanin met with Roatta on 10 and 21 September and urged him to undertake this operation as soon as possible to clear the Partisans from the Prozor-Livno area and offered 7,500 Chetniks as aid on the condition they be given the necessary arms and supplies. He was successful in obtaining some arms and promises of action. The proposed operation, faced with opposition from Ante Pavelić and a cautious Italian high command, was nearly cancelled, but after Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin promised to cooperate with Croat and Muslim anti-Partisan units, it went ahead, with less Chetnik involvement.
In early October 1942, Jevđević and Petar Baćović, with 3,000 Herzegovinian and southeast-Bosnian Chetniks, participated in the Italian-led Operation Alfa. This involved a two-pronged thrust towards the town of Prozor. German and NDH troops drove from the north, and Italian and Chetnik forces pushed from the Neretva River. Prozor and some smaller towns were captured by the combined Italian-Chetnik force. Individual Chetnik bands, acting on their own, burned villages and massacred between 543 and 2,500 Muslims and Catholics in the Prozor area. Their behaviour angered the NDH government and the Italians had to order the Chetniks to withdraw. Some were discharged altogether while others were later sent to northern Dalmatia to aid Đujić's forces. A month after the massacre, Jevđević and Baćović wrote a self-critical report on Prozor to Mihailović, hoping to distance themselves from the actions of the troops.
In a meeting with Roatta in November 1942, Jevđević obtained Italian agreement to "legalise" another 3,000 Chetniks and recognition of almost all of eastern Herzegovina as a "Chetnik zone". On 15 November 1942, Jevđević agreed to support the Italian decision to start arming Muslim anti-Partisan groups. This support almost cost him his life when several Chetniks, who strongly opposed the arming of Croat and Muslim anti-Partisan groups by the Italians, visited Mostar with the intention of assassinating him.
By the end of 1942, Chetnik–Italian collaboration was routine. Chetnik forces were included in the Italian planning for Case White, a major Axis anti-Partisan offensive which was to be launched on 20 January 1943. On 3 January, Jevđević participated in an Axis planning conference for Case White in Rome, along with senior German, Italian and NDH commanders. The plans included the 12,000 Chetniks under Jevđević's command, and on 23 February 1943 he concluded an agreement with the Germans that they would not cross the Neretva River and that contact between German and Chetnik troops would be avoided. Early in the operation, Jevđević concluded an agreement for cooperation with the commander of NDH troops in Mostar. Later in the operation Jevđević requested, through the Italians, the assistance of the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen in defending Nevesinje, which faced severe pressure from Partisan forces that had broken through the Chetnik lines at the Battle of the Neretva River. Although the Italians also made this request themselves, the Germans declined, stating that the division was reserved for other tasks.
After the death of Trifunović-Birčanin in February 1943, Jevđević, along with Đujić, Baćović, and Radovan Ivanišević, vowed to the Italians to carry on Trifunović-Birčanin's policies of closely collaborating with them against the Partisans. Mihailović apparently felt that Jevđević had exceeded his authority by attending the Case White planning conference in Rome, and indeed, when the Yugoslav government-in-exile awarded Jevđević the Order of the Star of Karađorđe in early 1943 for his services to the Serb population during the Ustaše massacres of 1941, Mihailović suppressed the announcement of the award because of the nature of Jevđević's agreement with the Italians, although the reason may also have been because he was aware of Chetnik revenge killings of Herzegovinian Catholics and Muslims in response to atrocities committed by the Ustaše in Croatia.
Jevđević began developing contacts with the Germans prior to the Italian capitulation in September 1943. Following the German occupation of NDH territory that had previously been held by the Italians, he moved to Trieste and stayed at the Hotel Continental until January 1944. He collaborated with the Germans from the time of the capitulation until the end of the war.
In December 1944, Jevđević's 3,000 remaining Chetniks joined Momčilo Đujić's Chetniks, Dimitrije Ljotić's Serbian Volunteer Corps, and the remnants of Milan Nedić's Serbian Shock Corps, which were under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS (SS General) Odilo Globocnik, the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Adriatic Littoral. Despite this, they attempted to contact the western Allies in Italy in an effort to secure foreign aid for a proposed anti-communist offensive to restore royalist Yugoslavia. They were all blessed by Serbian Orthodox bishop Nikolaj Velimirović upon his arrival in Slovenia. On 11 April 1945, a detachment of Jevđević's Chetniks, along with three regiments of the Serbian Volunteer Corps, marched into south-western Croatia with the aim of linking up with the Montenegrin Volunteer Corps of Pavle Đurišić, which was marching across Bosnia in an attempt to reach Slovenia. The relief effort came too late, because the Montenegrin Volunteer Corps had already been defeated by NDH forces at the Battle of Lijevče Field near Banja Luka, after which Đurišić was captured and killed. The relief force then marched north to Slovenia where they fought the Partisans, before retreating into Austria. They were subsequently repatriated to Yugoslavia and killed by the Partisans. Jevđević remained highly influential among the Chetniks until the end of the war.
Escape to Italy
In the spring of 1945, Jevđević fled to Italy where Allied military authorities arrested and detained him at a camp in Grottaglie. An estimated 10,000 Chetniks are said to have followed him and Đujić into the country. Jevđević was interned in Grottaglie for some time along with others, including the former Ustaše commissioner for Banja Luka, Viktor Gutić. During this time, an indictment was issued against him in Sarajevo. It charged that under his command in "the first half of October 1942 in and around Prozor they [Italians and Chetniks] butchered and killed 1,716 persons of both sexes, of the Croatian and Muslim nations, and plundered and burnt about 500 households". Jevđević received considerable Allied support in Italy despite being wanted by British authorities in connection with these war crimes allegations. In August 1945, he became the commander of a camp for disarmed Chetniks in Cesena. He was eventually set free and Yugoslavia's requests for extradition were ignored.
Publishing and intelligence activities and death
According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Jevđević lived in Rome under the aliases "Giovanni St. Angelo" and "Enrico Serrao". He spent most of his time and money quarrelling with émigré Yugoslav politicians and trying to prove that his collaboration with the Italians was necessary in order to protect the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Partisans and Germans. He became a member of the Association of Free Journalists of Central-Eastern Europe, publishing a confidential periodical called the Royal Yugoslav Intelligence Bulletin which, along with other intelligence reports, he shared with Italian intelligence services for whom he acted as an informant between 1946 and 1947. He contributed to a number of newspapers, including the Serb nationalist Srbobran. In 1946, he helped form the Serbian National Committee in Rome and, with help from Achille Marazza, published a pan-Serb and anti-Croat newspaper named Srpske Novine in Eboli. He also established contacts with Italian neo-fascist groups and with an anti-communist group called the Committee of Nations Oppressed by Russia.
Disagreement over who would lead the 10,000 Chetnik exiles in Italy escalated into a feud between Jevđević, Đujić and General Miodrag Damjanović in mid-1947. Damjanović had been appointed by Mihailović in March 1945 to lead Chetnik forces into northwestern Italy. Jevđević and Đujić refused to accept this and claimed that they were Mihailović's only successors as leaders of the Chetnik movement.
By 1949, the CIA claimed that Jevđević's intelligence material was used by the Italian Ministry of Interior, United States Counterintelligence Corps, British Forensic Science Service in Trieste, and French intelligence services in Rome and Paris. His intelligence correspondents included Đujić, who disseminated his intelligence reports to the CIA, Konstantin Fotić, the former Yugoslav ambassador to the United States, and Miro Didek, Croat politician Vladko Maček's self-styled intelligence representative in Rome. The intelligence reports were mostly collected from refugees fleeing Yugoslavia and arriving in Italy via Trieste and from émigré groups in Italy and Greece. By 1949, Jevđević claimed to have formed a large network of anti-communist propagandists in Italy and intelligence collection centres in Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. The CIA believed that these claims were exaggerated, if not entirely fictitious. In 1951, Jevđević began printing an anti-communist, pro-Chetnik publication on a printing press located in an unidentified religious institution in Italy. Issues were sent to Yugoslav exiles and former Chetniks living in the United States, Canada, Australia and various European countries. He visited Canada in May and June 1952 and addressed the Congress of the Serbian National Defense (Srpska Narodna Odbrana) in Niagara Falls regarding developments within Serb émigré groups in Italy. The following year, he and Đujić issued a proclamation in Chicago declaring their intention to organize Chetnik groups against Damjanović, who had since emigrated to Germany. Jevđević later received threatening letters warning him not to go through with such a plan for fear of disuniting the Yugoslav diaspora. Little is known of his activities after 1953. He continued to live in Rome until his death in October 1962.
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- Journal articles
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- Goldstein, Ivo (19 October 2012). "Četnički zločin u Rami u listopadu 1942. godine (I dio)" (in Serbo-Croatian). Prometej.
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