Sava Kovačević

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Sava Kovačević
Savo Kovačević.jpg
Born (1905-01-25)25 January 1905
Nudo, near Grahovo, Montenegro
Died 13 June 1943(1943-06-13) (aged 38)
Krekovi, near Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Allegiance Yugoslav Partisans
Years of service 1941–1943
Rank Colonel
Commands held 5th Montenegrin Brigade
3rd Shock Division
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of Neretva
Battle of Sutjeska
Awards Order of the People's Hero
Order of Kutuzov

Sava Kovačević (Serbian Cyrillic: Сава Ковачевић; 25 January 1905 – 13 June 1943[1]) was a Yugoslav Partisan divisional commander during World War II, and one of the heroes of the communist Partisan movement.

Early life[edit]

Kovačević was born in the village of Nudo, close to Nikšić, to a family of Montenegrin peasants. In his early age he worked as a blacksmith and adopted communism, becoming a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in 1925. He gradually rose through the party ranks, became one of the communist leaders in Montenegro. He was often arrested for his activities.[1]

World War II[edit]

Kovačević in 1942.

After the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, Kovačević was one of the leading organizers of the uprising in Montenegro against the Italian occupation. He became commander of the Nikšić Partisan Detachment,[2] deputy commander of Main Headquarters of Montenegro and finally a member of Supreme Staff of the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army (YPLA).[1]

In June 1942 he became the first commander of the 5th Montenegrin (Sandzak) Brigade of the YPLA. His unit took part in 1942 Bosanska Krajina Campaign (Bosnian Frontier Campaign) - operation against Independent State of Croatia garrisons that brought large sections of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Partisan control. In February and March 1943, during the Battle of Neretva, (German operation Weiss) Kovačević commanded his brigade in attacks on Prozor against the Italians and Konjic against joint Italian-Ustasha-German defenders. On 6 June during the Battle of Sutjeska (German operation Schwarz) he became the commander of the 3rd Shock Division of the YPLA.[1] His division covered the rear of other Partisan units while they successfully broke through German lines. The 3rd Shock Division, which was encumbered with wounded Partisans, was less successful in its attempt at breaking out. On 13 June, Kovačević was killed while personally leading his men during a charge against trenches held by the German 118th Jäger Division at Krekovi, on the Sutjeska river.[1][2]

Monument to Sava Kovačević and Yugoslav Partisans in Grahovo, Montenegro.

Owing to his humble background and habit of disdain for the privileges of rank, Kovačević was one of the most popular Partisan commanders. He was famous for his personal courage: one of the well known episodes happened on 20 February 1943 in Ostrožac on the Neretva river when he, with his brigade commissar Dragiša Ivanović, in an unexpected encounter with a group of Italian tanks, managed to climb onto two tanks, Sava on the second and Dragiša on the third of three tanks, to kill their crews and to capture one tank each. His heroic death made him into one of the Partisan icons.[1]

He was posthumously proclaimed People's Hero of Yugoslavia.


In honour of Kovačević, numerous streets were named after him, as well as urban neighbourhoods in Zemun and Palilula. Also, Savino Selo (literally: Sava's Village) in Vojvodina is named after him. Naval repair facility which operated in Tivat was named "MTRZ Sava Kovačević" (popularly called Arsenal), until its conversion into the yacht marina "Porto Montenegro".

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1973 film Sutjeska Kovačević was played by Serbian actor Ljuba Tadić.

Several songs have been written about Kovačević or make reference to him. One song is "Sivi Sokole" (Peregrine Falcon) which mentions his death.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kovačević Blagoja Sava, Heroji Jugoslavenske narodnooslobodilačke borbe 1941. - 1945., Slobodna Jugoslavija.
  2. ^ a b Sava Kovacevic, The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979)
  3. ^ Sivi Sokole Archived 2008-05-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^