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1st Proletarian Brigade
Tito predaje zastavu Prvoj proleterskoj brigadi.jpg
Supreme Commander Tito inspects the First Proletarian Brigade
Active 21 December 1941–1945
Disbanded 1945
Country Yugoslavia
Allegiance Yugoslav Partisans
Branch Infantry
Size Brigade
Koča Popović

The 1st Proletarian Brigade was the first regular formation raised by the Yugoslav Partisans during World War II.

At the time of formation, the Brigade numbered 1.186 soldiers, NCOs and officers, 71 of which were women.[1] The brigade then fought in many battles against the Italians, Germans and their Chetnik auxiliaries, as well as the forces of the Axis puppet Independent State of Croatia from its creation until the end of the war. It fought in six of the Seven Enemy Offensives described in Yugoslav historiography. During 41 months of battle engagement, in the Brigade fought 13.443 men and 651 women, and 4.818 of them died in battle.[1]

The Brigade was one of the elite formations of the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. Its combat value was respected by the enemy. Artur Phleps, V SS Mountain Corps Commander, in his war journal in 1944 assessed 1st Proletarian Division as a serious opponent, very well managed and well trained, who fights like a regular troop.[2]

Chronicle[edit | edit source]

Koča Popović, commander.

It was formed by Josip Broz Tito and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia on 22 December 1941 (Stalin's birthday) in the village of Rudo in eastern Bosnia. Initially comprising 1,200 of the best Serb and Montenegrin Partisans under the command of the Spanish Civil War veteran Koča Popović, it began to take on a more multi-ethnic character from March 1942 when 15 Bosnian Muslims from Sarajevo joined the brigade.[3] The formation of the brigade represented a significant change for the Partisans, as it gave the Partisan Supreme Command a politically reliable and mobile force that was not tied to a particular geographic area. This innovation allowed the Partisans to more easily concentrate fighting power at a particular point to achieve a decision, and permitted withdrawal when faced by a superior enemy force.[4] The brigade fought its first battle on the day following its creation, when it encountered Italian troops and Chetniks as it marched out of Rudo.[5]

During Operation Southeast Croatia the brigade crossed Mt Igman in freezing temperatures. After Operation Trio, it participated in the Partisan Long March from Zelengora in eastern Bosnia to the west. The withdrawal of the brigade from eastern Bosnia to Foča caused a number of problems, including recriminations between Tito and Svetozar Vukmanović.[6]

From formation until June 1942 this was as an independent brigade, after which the brigade formed part of the Shock Group of Proletarian Brigades. In June 1942, Tito ordered the appointment of priests and hodjas to the battalions of the brigade, to cater to the religious needs of the troops and population. This was a recognition that respecting religious beliefs was important in the context of the Liberation Front.[3] From November 1942 the brigade became part of the 1st Proletarian Division.

Battles[edit | edit source]

For the most part of its war time, the Brigade relayed mostly on manoeuvrability and initiative. In frequent marches it covered some 20.000 km. The change in tactics occurred after Belgrade Offensive, when it was engaged in frontal battles on Sremski front.

Some important battles of 1st Proletarian Brigade
description period enemy
15–18 January 1942. Operation Southeast Croatia Wehrmacht, NDH troops
20 April – 13 May 1942. Operation Trio Wehrmacht, NDH troops, Italians
12 July 1942. Raid on Konjic NDH troops
4–7 August 1942. Raid on Livno NDH troops
24–26 September 1942. Raid on Jajce NDH troops, Wehrmacht
24 November - 6 December 1942. Raid on Jajce NDH troops, Wehrmacht
2–8 January 1943. Raid on Teslić NDH troops, Wehrmacht
16 January 1943. Raid on Prnjavor NDH troops, Wehrmacht
22 February - 15 March 1943. Operation Weiss II Wehrmacht, NDH troops, Italians, Četniks
22 March 1943. Raid on Kalinovik Četniks
7–10 April 1943. Crossing Drina Italians, Četniks
15 May - 15 June 1943. Operation Schwartz Wehrmacht, Italians
25–26 June 1943. Raid on Vlasenica NDH troops
3–8 July 1943. Raid on Zvornik NDH troops, Wehrmacht
11–27 September 1943. Defence of Split Wehrmacht
15 October 1943. Raid on Travnik NDH troops, Wehrmacht
29 November 1943. Raid on Travnik NDH troops, Wehrmacht
6–24 December 1943. Operation Ziethen Wehrmacht
17–18 December 1943. Raid on Livno Wehrmacht, NDH troops
3–10 January 1944. Operation Waldrausch Wehrmacht
2–3 May 1944. Raid on Mrkonjić Grad Wehrmacht
25 May - 4 June 1944. Operation Rösselsprung Wehrmacht
13–25 August 1944. Operation Rübezahl Wehrmacht, Četniks
5–10 September 1944. Battle on Jelova gora Četniks
5–22 October 1944. Belgrade Offensive Wehrmacht
23 Octotber 1944 - 14 April 1945. Sremski front Wehrmacht, NDH troops
19–20 April 1945. Attack on Pleternica Wehrmacht, NDH troops
6–8 May 1945. Attack on Vrbovec Wehrmacht, NDH troops

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Miladinović 1991, pp. 1183-1187.
  2. Kumm 1978, p. 231.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hoare 2006, p. 190.
  4. Hoare 2006, p. 165–166.
  5. Hoare 2006, p. 166.
  6. Hoare 2006, p. 193–194.

References[edit | edit source]

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