Milan Nedić

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Milan Nedić
Milan Nedić 1939.jpg
Prime Minister of the Government of National Salvation
In office
1941–1944
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Office dissolved
Personal details
Born (1878-09-02)2 September 1878
Grocka, Principality of Serbia
Died 4 February 1946(1946-02-04) (aged 67)
Belgrade, Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
Nationality Serbian
Religion Serbian Orthodoxy
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Serbia
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Flag of the Government of National Salvation (occupied Yugoslavia).svgGovernment of National Salvation
Years of service 1904–1941
Rank Armijski đeneral
Commands Chief of the General Staff

Milan Nedić (Serbian Cyrillic: Милан Недић; 2 September 1878 – 4 February 1946) was a Serbian Armijski đeneral and politician. He was the chief of the general staff of the Yugoslav Army, minister of war in the Royal Yugoslav Government and the prime minister of a Nazi-backed Serbian puppet government during World War II.

After the war, Yugoslav communist authorities imprisoned him. In 1946 they reported that he had suddenly committed suicide by jumping out of a window.[1]


Early life and military career[edit]

Milan Nedić was born in the Belgrade suburb of Grocka on 2 September 1878 to Đorđe and Pelagia Nedić. His father was a local district chief and his mother was a teacher from a village near Mount Kosmaj. She was the granddaughter of Nikola Mihailović, who was mentioned in the writings of poet Sima Milutinović Sarajlija and was an ally of Serbian revolutionary leader Karađorđe. The Nedić family was originally from the village of Zaoka, near Lazarevac. It traced its origins to two brothers, Damjan and Gligorije, who defended the Čokešina Monastery from the Turks during the Serbian Revolution. The family received its name from Nedić's great-grandmother, Neda, who was a member of the Vasojevići tribe in Montenegro.[2]

Nedić finished gymnasium in Kragujevac in 1895 and entered the lower level of the Military Academy in Belgrade that year. In 1904, he completed the upper level of the academy, then the General Staff preparatory, and was commissioned into the Serbian Army.[3] In 1910, he was promoted to the rank of major. He fought with the Serbian Army during the Balkan Wars, and received multiple decorations for bravery. In 1913, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served with the Serbian Army during World War I and was involved in rearguard actions during its retreat through Albania in the winter of 1915. That year, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. At 38, he was the youngest colonel in the Serbian General Staff. He was appointed ordinance officer to King Peter in 1916. Towards the end of the war, Nedić was given command of an infantry brigade of the Timok Division.[2]

Royal Yugoslav Army[edit]

Nedić remained a brigade commander within the Timok Division until the end of 1918 and served as the 3rd Army chief of staff.[2] Beginning in 1919, he also served as the de facto head of the 4th Army District in Croatia because its nominal commander, General Božidar Janković, was old and infirm. Nedić's cousin, Dimitrije Ljotić, and their mutual friend Stanislav Krakov, also served in the 4th Army District and were commanded by Nedić.[4] In 1930, Nedić was promoted to the rank of Armiski đeneral.[2][a] Nedić was appointed head of the Royal Yugoslav Army (Serbo-Croatian: Vojska Kraljevine Jugoslavije, VKJ) General Staff in Belgrade in 1934. He held this position until the following year.[2] On 13 August 1939, Nedić was appointed Minister of the Army and Navy as part of the Cvetković–Maček Agreement.[6][7] Ljotić later assisted the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Central Office, RSHA) in establishing contacts with him.[8] He also exploited the connections he had with Nedić to ensure that the banned Zbor-published journal Bilten (Bulletin) was distributed to members of the VKJ. The journal was published illegally in a military printing house and distributed throughout Yugoslavia by military couriers.[9]

Because of his disapproval of a potential participation in the war against Adolf Hitler's Germany, Nedić was dismissed on 6 November 1940 by regent Paul. This was most likely out of unease with Nazi Germany's ally, Fascist Italy which at the time harboured the Croatian extreme nationalist Ustashe leader Ante Pavelić in exile in Rome, and because of the rhetoric of some Italian fascists in the past such as the late Gabriele D'Annunzio, who were violently opposed to a Yugoslav state. Nedić welcomed the coup of 1941 which deposed the pro-Axis regime, and fought for Yugoslavia in the German-led Axis invasion that followed the coup.

Occupied Serbia[edit]

Wehrmacht commander Heinrich Danckelmann decided to entrust Nedić with the administration of German-occupied Serbia in order to pacify Serb resistance. Not long before, Nedić had lost his only son and pregnant daughter in law in a munitions explosion in Smederevo, in which several thousands died. He accepted the post of the prime minister in the government called the Government of National Salvation, on August 29, 1941.

On September 1, 1941, Nedić made a speech on Radio Belgrade in which he declared the intent of his administration to "save the core of the Serbian people" occupied and surrounded by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Independent State of Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Bosnian Muslims by accepting the occupation of Germany in the area of Sumadija, Drina Valley, Pomoravlje and Banat. He also spoke against organizing resistance to the occupying forces, because there was a German rule that 50 Serbs were to be murdered for each wounded German soldier and 100 for each killed soldier. In addition, at least 300,000 Serbs were forcefully taken to German camps. His state's propaganda was funded by Germany and promoted anti-Semitism and anti-communism, particularly linking these up with anti-masonry[10] as a means of swaying Serbs to see these groups as their enemies along with the Germans.

The Serbian government under Nedić accepted many refugees mostly of Serbian descent. The German occupiers held no respect for his authority or Serbs, and during the war over 300,000 people died in Serbia of war-related causes in German reprisals, which as described above demanded 100 killed Serbs for each killed German soldier, as in the Kragujevac massacre. In August 1942, the German occupiers proclaimed Serbia Judenfrei. Nedić also secretly diverted money and arms from his government to the Chetniks.

On October 4, 1944, with the successes of the Yugoslav Partisans and their onslaught on Belgrade, Nedić's government was disbanded, and on October 6, Nedić fled from Belgrade to Kitzbühel, Austria (then annexed to Germany) where he took refuge with the occupying British. On January 1, 1946, the British forces handed him over to the Yugoslav Communist forces.

He was incarcerated in Belgrade on a charge of treason. On February 5, the newspapers reported that Milan Nedić had committed suicide by jumping out of a window while the guards were not looking.

Recently, Miodrag Mladenović, a former officer with of the Yugoslavian OZNA, said that on February 4, 1946, he received an order to pick up a dead body at Zmaj Jovina street, where the prison was located at the time. When he arrived there, the body was already wrapped in a blanket and rigor mortis had already set in. Following the orders given to him, he took the body to the cemetery where it was buried in an unusually deep grave. He never attempted to see the face of the person that he was carrying, but the day after he read in the news that Milan Nedić had committed suicide by jumping through the prison window at Zmaj Jovina street.[11]

Legacy[edit]

The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts named Nedić as one of the 100 most significant Serbs.[12] The minor Serbian Liberal Party attempted to promote his rehabilitation as an anti-nazi who did his best in an impossible situation, altogether sparking a lot of controversy in Serbia.

Nedić's portrait was included among those of Serbian prime ministers in the building of the Government of Serbia.[13] In 2008 the Minister of Interior and Deputy PM Ivica Dačić removed the portrait after neo-Nazi marches were announced in the country.[13]

Citations[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Armiski đeneral was equivalent to a United States lieutenant general.[5]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Milan Milovanović
Chief of the General Staff of Royal Yugoslav Army
1934 – 1935
Succeeded by
Ljubomir Marić
Preceded by
Milutin Nedić
Minister of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
1939–1940
Succeeded by
Petar Pešić
Political offices
Preceded by
New title
President of the Ministerial Council of the Serbian Government of National Salvation
1941 – 1944
Succeeded by
Position abolished