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Department for People's Protection
  • Odjeljenje za zaštitu naroda (Croatian)
  • Odeljenje za zaštitu naroda (Serbian)
  • Oddelek za zaščito naroda (Slovene)
  • Одделение за заштита на народот (Macedonian)
Secret police overview
Formed13 May 1944 (1944-05-13)
Preceding Secret police
DissolvedMarch 1946 (March 1946)
Superseding agencies
JurisdictionSFR Yugoslavia

The Department for People's Protection, commonly known under its Serbo-Croatian acronym as OZNA, was the security agency of Communist Yugoslavia that existed between 1944 and 1946.


The OZNA was founded on 13 May 1944 according to decision of Josip Broz Tito[1] and under the leadership of Aleksandar Ranković (nom de guerre Marko), a top member of the Politburo until his downfall in 1966, and a close associate of Josip Broz Tito.

On 24 May 1944, only a day before the Operation Rösselsprung, Tito signed the Military Courts Regulations (Serbo-Croatian: Uredba o vojnim sudovima NOVJ), which in article number 27 stated that the court reaches its decisions whether the accused are guilty or not based on its free evaluation, regardless of the evidence.[2] Based on the investigations performed by the OZNA, the military courts reached their decisions.[3]


Until the OZNA was established, intelligence and security tasks were carried out by several organizations. In spring 1944, the tasks were carried out by the Section for Protection of People in central and western Bosnia, part of Croatia, and Vojvodina; the centers of territorial intelligence in Croatia, Vojvodina and Montenegro; the intelligence division of the Internal Affairs Section within the Slovene National Liberation Committee presidency in Slovenia; and the intelligence service of the partisan detachments in Central Serbia, Macedonia, and Kosovo.


The reorganization of intelligence and security could not satisfy the growing needs of the Supreme Staff. The OZNA was created as an autonomous entity, a military organization whose unitary structure and centralized leadership were to ensure a tough political line in the intelligence and counter-intelligence services. All OZNA tasks were divided into four groups, each comprising an organizational unit:

  1. intelligence under Maks Baće Milić
  2. counter-intelligence under Pavle Pekić [sl]
  3. army security under Jeftimije Jefto Šašić [sl], and
  4. technical/statistics under Mijat Vuletić

The first section (intelligence) organised intelligence activity in other countries, enemy state institutions, and occupied territory. It recruited agents and sent them to work outside the borders of the liberated territory. It collected intelligence on enemy agent networks, police, quisling state machinery, and quisling military units. This was essentially an offensive intelligence service, directed against foreign countries and occupied territory.

The second section (counterintelligence service in the liberated territory) collected information from trusted informers on political groups which had either joined the national liberation movement or stayed outside it, on enemy agent activities, and on armed groups of national traitors and fifth columnists.

The third section organized counter-intelligence protection of armed forces and was active only in the NOVJ & PO (People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and Partisan Detachments).

The fourth section performed statistical and technical tasks, processed information, and kept records. This section also included special photography, secret writing, radio centers, and decoders.

A fifth and sixth section were formed in the OZNA in March and April 1945.

The fifth section was formed as a counterintelligence service against foreign agent networks in Yugoslavia; that is, foreign intelligence services. (In 1946, this section merged with the new third section, which was created after the military counterintelligence service became independent).

The sixth section performed tasks dealing with counter-intelligence protection of transportation, but was absorbed soon after its establishment by the second sector.


When the National Liberation Army changed its name into the Yugoslav Army (JA) on March 1, 1945, the OZNA of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia proclaimed by special directive (March 24, 1945) a new organization of the JA – OZNA. The OZNA was in direct command of counter-intelligence protection of military command posts, institutions, and units. Sections were set up within independent corps. This third OZNA section was in force until the end of July, 1945.

The "military" and "civil" part of the OZNA began to separate in 1945 and split in March, 1946. At that time, the new splinter organizations, the Administrative Directorate for Security of JA – KOS (Kontra-Obaveštajna Služba) was formed from the military part and the Administrative State Security Directorate (UDBA) from its civilian counterpart.

Since the OZNA was actually left without its third section after the military counter-intelligence service became independent, it formed a new third section unconnected to the previous one. It focused initially on reconstruction and operations of the German intelligence service (especially Gestapo).[citation needed] Later, the third section assumed operations for all foreign intelligence services, borders, and traffic of foreigners (which were essentially the tasks of the fifth section).[citation needed]

The fourth section continued filing information they had been collected within the OF VOS since 1941. From initial information files on 4,000 people, by the end of the war the number had increased to 17,750.

The OZNA was led by a chief who was directly subordinate to the Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav Army, Marshal Josip Broz Tito.

Mass killings of the "enemies of the people"[edit]

During the entire period of its existence, the OZNA used illegal practices which included occasional mass murders of the "enemies of the people" having a notion of conducting the "revolution". The "enemies of the people" included not only local anti-communist forces but also notable individuals who did not support the communists,[4] collaborators with the Axis powers during the occupation,[5][6] wealthy individuals, POW members of Croatian Armed Forces (Independent State of Croatia) and all representatives of the Church regardless of their religion, etc.[7] This period was also characterized by the strong presence of armed anti-communist and fascist groups operating in central Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. Some of them represented a serious challenge to the new communist authorities.[8] In combating armed anti-communist groups, the OZNA and KNOJ, murdered prisoners without any investigation or trial, sometimes also murdering the civilian associated with them.[9] The majority of the atrocities committed by communists were hidden from the public during the period of SFRJ.[10]

The Government of Serbia and its Ministry of Justice established the commission to research atrocities that were committed by members of the Yugoslav Partisan Movement after they gained control over Serbia in autumn 1944. The report of this commission presented a list of 59,554 registered deaths after communist victory in Serbia since autumn 1944 who died from various reasons.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vojska. Vojnoizdavački i novinski centar. 1997. p. 243.
  2. ^ Zbornik dokumenata i podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu naroda Jugoslavije: Dokumenta Centralnog komiteta KP Jugoslavije i Vrhovnog štaba NOV i PO Jugoslavije i Generalštaba JA. Vol. 13. Vojnoistorijski institut. 1982. p. 182. Kod ustanovljenja istine о delu i krivnji optuženog sud nije formalno vezan ni za kakva dokazna sredstva, već donosi svoju odluku po slobodnoj oceni.
  3. ^ (Kulić 1964, p. 140)
  4. ^ Tko je tko u NDH: Hrvatska 1941.-1945. Darko Stuparić. Zagreb: Minerva. 1997. p. 41. ISBN 953-6377-03-9. OCLC 38358479. The author talks about numerous examples of civilians and soldiers that collaborated with the Nazis like Zdenko Blažeković and Nikola Mandić.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: occupation and collaboration. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-8047-3615-4. OCLC 45820953. Tomasevich talks about collaboration, and uses Milan Nedić, that commanded the 3rd Army Group during the Nazi invasion.
  6. ^ Newland, Samuel J. (2007). Cossacks in the German army, 1941-1945. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-8199-7. OCLC 191875091.
  7. ^ Tomasevich, Jozo (1975). The Chetniks. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0857-6. OCLC 1203356.
  8. ^ Dimitrijević, Bojan (2019). "Intelligence and Security Services in Tito's Yugoslavia 1944–1966" (PDF). Istorija 20. veka. 2/2019: 9–28. Retrieved 3 November 2019. The entire period of the existence of the OZNA (1944–1946), was characterized by improvisation and usage of unlawful practices, including occasional mass killings, in its work against the "enemies of the people." With the notion of having conducted the "revolution," all the OZNA members, from top to bottom, were ruthless and merciless toward many of the local anti-communist forces, POWs, prominent local figures who did not support the communists, prosperous individuals that possessed different wealth, and of course all kinds of representatives of the Church, no matter which religion.
  9. ^ Dimitrijević, Bojan (2019). "Intelligence and Security Services in Tito's Yugoslavia 1944–1966" (PDF). Istorija 20. veka. 2/2019: 9–28. Retrieved 3 November 2019. This period was also characterized by the strong presence of armed anti-communist groups operating in central Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. Some of them represented a serious challenge to the new communist authorities. In combating them, the OZNA, supported by the units of the KNOJ, executed the captured "outlaws" without any additional investigations or trials, including sometimes even the civilian accomplices of these "outlaws."
  10. ^ Dimitrijević, Bojan (2019). "Intelligence and Security Services in Tito's Yugoslavia 1944–1966" (PDF). Istorija 20. veka. 2/2019: 9–28. Retrieved 3 November 2019. Most of those atrocities remained hidden throughout the period of socialist Yugoslavia until recent times.
  11. ^ "Registar Žrtava". www.komisija1944.mpravde.gov.rs. Ministry of Justice, Republic of Serbia. Retrieved 6 October 2019.

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