Independent State of Montenegro (1941–44)
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|Independent State of Montenegro
Независна Држава Црна Гора
Nezavisna država Crna Gora
Stato Indipendente del Montenegro
|Puppet state of Italy
Puppet state of Nazi Germany
Vječna naša Crna Goro
Вечна Наша Црна Гора
"Eternal Our Montenegro"
|-||1941 (first)||Mihajlo Ivanović|
|-||1944 (last)||Wilhelm Keiper|
|Historical era||World War II|
|-||Established||5 May 1941|
|-||Disestablished||15 December 1944|
|Currency||Perper, Lira, Reichsmark|
|a. Michael Petrović-Njegoš, Roman Petrovich Romanov and Nicholas Romanov all refused the throne when offered.|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Montenegro|
|Middle Ages and early modern|
|Modern and contemporary|
The Free and Independent Kingdom of Montenegro or the Independent State of Montenegro existed from 1941 to 1943 as a puppet protectorate of Fascist Italy, a component of the envisioned Italian Empire. The Italian Fascist regime saw Montenegro as a future part of an Imperial Italy that would span the Adriatic coast to northern Greece (incorporating the lands once controlled by Venice), where local populations would be forced to adopt Italian national identity, and colonization by Italians would be promoted (as it was in Italian-held Albania) to eventually displace all non-Italian populations.
After the invasion of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on April 6, 1941, and subsequent Royal Yugoslav Army surrender on April 17, 1941, Sekula Drljević, leader of the Montenegrin Federalists in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, established the Provisional Administrative Committee of Montenegro, which operated as the collaborationist organ of Fascist Italy. The Committee was disbanded on 5 May 1941 and a Montenegrin Council was formed to oversee the Italian occupation and create the semi-independent protectorate of Montenegro. The Fascist regime intended to make Montenegro part of Imperial Italy, which would span the Adriatic coast to Albania, with the intention of assimilating the local populations.
King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (influenced by his wife Queen Elena, daughter of the former King of Montenegro) imposed on Benito Mussolini the creation of an independent Montenegro against the wishes of the fascist Croatians of Ante Pavelić and the Albanians (who wanted to divide Montenegro between themselves). The Kingdom of Montenegro was created under fascist control when Krsto Zrnov Popović returned from his exile in Rome in 1941 to attempt to lead the Zelenaši ("Green" party), who supported the reinstatement of the independent Montenegrin monarchy. This militia were called the Lovćen Brigade.
Montenegro was nominally a Kingdom, but the last King's grandson Prince Michael Petrović-Njegoš refused the crown, declaring loyalty to his cousin, young King Peter II of Yugoslavia. Two Romanov princes, Prince Nicholas Romanovich of Russia and his father Prince Roman Petrovich also refused the crown, so Italian governors ran Montenegro instead.
On July 12, 1941, the rule of Sekula Drljević was inaugurated. At the beginning of 1942, however, the country suffered the outbreak of civil war as the Partisans and Chetniks fought against Montenegrin separatists and Axis forces. As World War II progressed, the conflict within Montenegro became extremely chaotic and vicious as virtually every combination of alliances were made and broken between the warring sides and factions. Also active within Montenegro were the Second Serbian Volunteer Corps.
The nation's borders essentially existed only on paper. Particularly after the spring of 1942, much of the Sandžak region, which was included in the Independent State of Montenegro, was not actually controlled by its proclaimed government. In addition, the area of the Bay of Kotor was annexed by Italy until September 1943. After Italian surrender, Kotor was controled by the Germans.
By October 1943, Drljević was exiled from Montenegro. In 1944, while in the Independent State of Croatia, Drljević formed the Montenegrin State Council, which attempted to act as a government-in-exile. The Montenegrin People's Army was later formed by Ante Pavelić and Drljević out of the defeated Pavle Đurišić-led Chetnik forces.
After the departure of the Italian governors, Montenegro remained under the direct control of German troops, with a terrible and bloody guerrilla war ravaging the area. During this period, tens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed by the Nazis. In December 1944 the German troops withdrew from Montenegro and Josip Broz Tito's Partisans assumed control, ending the existence of the Kingdom of Montenegro.
- Mihajlo Ivanović (nominal) (17 May 1941 - 23 July 1941)
- Conte Serafino Mazzolini (19 April 1941 - 23 July 1941)
- Principe Alessandro Pirzio Biroli (23 July 1941 - 13 July 1943)
- Conte Curio Barbasetti di Prun (13 July 1943 - 10 September 1943)
- Theodor Geib (10 September 1943 - 1 June 1944)
- Wilhelm Keiper (1 June 1944 - 15 December 1944)
During the Italian administration of Montenegro, their armed forces in the country were made up of the following:
- Troop Command Montenegro/XIV Corps: General Mentasti
The main religion in Montenegro was Serbian Orthodox. There was also a significant Muslim population and a smaller Catholic one. The Serbian Orthodox Church was divided into the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral and the Eparchy of Budimlje-Nikšić, both led by Joanikije Lipovac. Lipovac was killed in the aftermath of the war by Yugoslav communists after trying to flee the country in 1945. The Catholic Church was divided into two dioceses, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bar and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Skopje.
- Cahoon, Ben (2006). "Montenegro". World Statesmen.org. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Глас Црногораца (La voce del Montenegro) 13/07/1941: Црногорски сабор прогласио је Независну и Слободну Краљевину Црну Гору / L'Assembla Nazionale Consituente ha ploclamato il Montenegro Stato libero ed indipendente (pg. 1)
- Marcia Christoff Kurapovna (2009). Shadows on the mountain: the Allies, the Resistance, and the rivalries that doomed WWII Yugoslavia. John Wiley and Sons. p. 62. ISBN 0-470-08456-1.
- Italian Army, 1 May 1943