Momčilo Ninčić

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Momčilo Ninčić
Momčilo Ninčić.jpg
Born (1876-05-28)28 May 1876
Jagodina, Principality of Serbia
Died 23 December 1949(1949-12-23) (aged 73)
Lausanne, Switzerland

Momčilo Ninčić (28 May 1876 – 23 December 1949) was a Serbian politician and economist, and president of the League of Nations from 1926 to 1927.

Biography[edit]

He finished school in law and completed a doctorate in Paris. He was a university professor and also held several ministerial positions in the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a member of the People's Radical Party, beginning in 1912. He was president of the General Assembly of the League of Nations from 1926-1927.

During World War II he was a member of the Yugoslav government in exile in London, holding the position of Minister of External Affairs. "Close relations with the three Great Allies had been Ninčić's aim from the beginning of exile," wrote Steven K. Pavlowitch, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton. "Naturally, he wanted to draw nearer to the U.S.A., as there appeared to be a tremendous amount of goodwill to be tapped across the Atlantic. The Royal Yugoslav government invested much energy in this effort, and was at first successful." Ninčić accompanied young King Peter II of Yugoslavia on a visit to the United States and Canada in June-July 1942 which generated good publicity for the "Yugoslav cause," but in practice the concern shown by the Roosevelt Administration amounted to no more than superficial benevolent attitude.

At the post-war Belgrade Process he was found guilty of installing Draža Mihailović as leader of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland Chetnik force and supporting him and the army. Mihailović in turn warred with the Yugoslav Partisans. After the war, the communists under Tito took power in Yugoslavia. The military court in Belgrade sentenced General Dragoljub Mihailović to death in 1946 and also passed a sentence in absentia of eight years hard labour on Momčilo Ninčić, Minister for Foreign Affairs in the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia between 27 March 1941 and 2 January 1943. The accused was found guilty of continuing the policy of the pro-fascist dictatorship in old Yugoslavia and pursuing a policy supplying the occupation and suppressing the Communist National Liberation uprising. (See: "The Trial of D. Mihailović," Belgrade, 1946, pp. 528 and 540). The indictment of the British Foreign Office officials was even worse:

"an insufferable bore and a clumsy liar," "an extreme Serb," "an obscurantist and obstinate intriguer with a pro-German, pro-Italian past, a not very pleasant present, and [....] no future at all," "an evil old man," "garrilous[sic] and muddle-headed," "tortuous and hidebound."

Such were the views expressed by George William Rendel, British ambassador to the Yugoslav government (to Howard, 16 September 1942), D. Howard, head of the southern department (to Campbell, 3 March 1942; O. Sargent, deputy under-secretary (minute, 12 November 1942; and to Campbell, 16 July 1942) and Anthony Eden (minute, 17 May 1942): London Public Record Office.

Ninčić died in exile in Switzerland in 1949. He had written serious disquisitions on European, Serbian and Yugoslav politics. The chapter on the tragedy of Mihailović casts a new light on Winston Churchill's wartime role in Yugoslav affairs and the decisive roles played by British officers acting as individuals. In 2006 a court in Serbia rehabilitated Momčilo Ninčić to the same stature he held before the communist party and people of Yugoslavia won power and freedom in anti-fascist struggle.

References[edit]

Stevan K. Pavlowitch, "Momčilo Ninčić and the European Policy of the Yugoslav Government in Exile, 1941-1943: I; The Slavonic East European Review, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 1984), pp. 400-420

Stevan K. Pavlowitch, "Momčilo Ninčić and the European Policy of the Yugoslav Government in Exile, 1941-1943: II; The Slavonic East European Review, Vol. 62, No. 4 (October 1984), pp. 531-551