Jevđević in uniform, wearing the Order of the Star of Karađorđe
|Native name||Доброслав Јевђевић|
|Died||October 1962 (aged 67)|
|Place of birth||Miloševac near Prača, Bosnia Vilayet|
|Place of death||Rome, Italy|
|Years of service||1941–1945|
|Commands held||Chetnik movement in Herzegovina|
|Awards||Order of the Star of Karađorđe|
Dobroslav Jevđević (Serbian Cyrillic language: Доброслав Јевђевић , pronounced [dobroslaʋ jêʋdʑevitɕ]; 1895 – October 1962) was a Bosnian Serb politician and self-appointed Chetnik commander (Serbo-Croatian language: vojvoda, вoјвода) in the Herzegovina region of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II. He was a member of the interwar Chetnik Association and the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists, a Yugoslav National Party member of the National Assembly, and a leader of the opposition to King Alexander until the monarch's assassination in 1934.
Following the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis in April 1941, he became a Chetnik leader in Herzegovina and joined the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović. Jevđević collaborated with the Italians and later the Germans in actions against the Yugoslav Partisans. Although Jevđević recognised the authority of Mihailović, who was aware of and approved of his collaboration with Axis forces, a number of factors effectively rendered him independent of Mihailović's command, except when he worked closely with Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin, Mihailović's designated commander in Dalmatia, Herzegovina, western Bosnia and southwestern Croatia.
During the joint Italian-Chetnik Operation Alfa, Jevđević's Chetniks, along with other Chetnik forces, were responsible for killing between 543 and 2,500 Bosnian Muslim and Catholic civilians in the Prozor region in October 1942. His force also participated in one of the largest Axis anti-Partisan operations of the war, Case White in the winter of 1943. His forces were later merged with other collaborationist forces that had withdrawn towards the west, and were put under the command of the SS General Odilo Globocnik of the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral. In the spring of 1945, he fled to Italy where he resided until his death.
Early life and political career
Dobroslav Jevđević was born in the hamlet of Miloševac in Prača, near the town of Rogatica in 1895. He attended school in Sarajevo, where he joined the revolutionary organisation known as Young Bosnia and became a friend of Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914. He was also a member of the inter–war Chetnik Association, an aggressively Serb–chauvinist political organisation of over half-a-million members led by Kosta Pećanac. In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Jevđević served as a member of the right-wing Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists and became a parliamentary candidate of the opposition Yugoslav National Party. He approved of the creation of the Banovina of Croatia and advocated a large Serb counterpart that would include most of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
World War II
After the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the newly created Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) implemented genocidal policies against the Serb, Jewish and Roma population. The Serb population began to resist, and Jevđević became a prominent leader of the Chetnik uprising against the NDH authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1941. In the summer of 1941, Jevđević established links with the Italian authorities. In the belief that the Italian occupation of both Bosnia and Herzegovina would limit the freedom of action of the NDH to carry out its anti-Serb policies in a significant part of its territory, he and Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin sought to work with them. Jevđević also hoped that the Italians would allow the formation of a Serbian state of Bosnia and Herzegovina under their protection, but they were more interested in obtaining the practical assistance of his Chetniks in fighting the Partisans than helping Jevđević achieve his political aims.
On 20 October 1941, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin met, and agreed to collaborate with the head of the information division of the Italian 6th Army Corps. In late January 1942, Jevđević offered to assist the Italians if they occupied Bosnia, and to organise Chetnik detachments to work alongside the Italians against the Communists. These contacts involved General Lorenzo Dalmazzo, commander of the Italian 6th Corps, and Chetnik leaders Stevo Radjenović, Trifunović-Birčanin, Jezdimir Dangić and Jevđević. In the spring and summer of 1942, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin regularly toured the villages in the Goražde, Kalinovik and Foča districts, encouraging the local civilians and Chetnik detachments to behave loyally towards the Italians. In May 1942, Jevđević met with German intelligence officers in Dubrovnik and was asked whether he would cooperate in the pacification of Bosnia. Mihailović was aware of and condoned the collaborationist arrangements entered into by Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin.
In an internal Chetnik report of June 1942, Jevđević claimed that the proletarian brigades of the Partisans contained many "Jews, Gypsies and Muslims". In July 1942, Jevđević issued a proclamation to the "Serbs of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina" claiming that:
Tito, the supreme military chief of the Partisans, is a Croat from Zagreb. Pijade, the supreme political chief of the Partisans, is a Jew. Four-fifths of all armed Partisans were supplied to them by Pavelić's Croatian Army. Two-thirds of their officers are former Croatian officers. The financing of their movement is carried out by the powerful Croatian capitalists of Zagreb, Split, Sarajevo and Dubrovnik. Fifty percent of the Ustaše responsible for the massacres of Serbs are now in their ranks.
Jevđević also charged the Yugoslav Partisans with having "destroyed Serb churches and established mosques, synagogues and Catholic temples."
In mid-1942, the Chetniks became aware that the Italians were planning to largely withdraw from significant parts of the NDH that they had been occupying in force up to that time. Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin told the Italians that in response to this, Mihailović was considering evacuating Serb civilians from Herzegovina to Montenegro and moving Montenegrin Chetniks north to meet the Ustaše, who were expected to unleash a new wave of violence on Serb civilians.
Over 22–23 July 1942, Mihailović chaired a conference with Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin in Avtovac, Herzegovina. On the second day of the conference, Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin traveled to nearby Trebinje where they conferred with Herzegovinian Chetnik leaders Radmilo Grđić and Milan Šantić. The German consulate in Sarajevo reported that this meeting established the ultimate goals and immediate strategy of the Herzegovinian Chetniks as:
(1) the creation of Greater Serbia; (2) the destruction of the Partisans; (3) the removal of the Catholics and Muslims; (4) non-recognition of Croatia; (5) no collaboration with the Germans; and (6) temporary collaboration with the Italians for weapons, ammunition and food.
In July and August 1942. under the auspices of the Italians, the Chetniks thoroughly ethnically cleansed eastern Herzegovina of its Croats and Muslims. In August 1942, General Mario Roatta, commander of the Italian 2nd Army, contacted Jevđević and "legalised" 3,000 of his Chetniks, authorizing them to operate in eastern Herzegovina.
In the autumn of 1942, Jevđević took a radically different approach than other Chetnik leaders and favoured collaborating with Muslims to form Muslim Chetnik units in the fight against the Ustaše and the Partisans. He was in favour of such tolerance as a political tactic in areas where the Muslims were protected by the Germans. He urged the Italian military to occupy all of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to end Ustaša rule and claimed the support of 80 percent of the population, consisting of Serbs and Muslims. At the same time, he requested that the Germans grant autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina until the end of the war, citing that Muslims were "tested friends of the Germans both in the earlier and in the present era". Although Jevđević attempted to recruit the Muslims while making use of the Bosnian desire for autonomy to support his alliance with the occupying Axis powers, nothing developed from these requests.
Towards the end of August 1942, Mihailović issued directives to Chetnik units, including those operating in the NDH such as Jevđević's forces, ordering them to prepare for a large scale anti-Partisan operation alongside Italian and NDH troops. In September 1942, aware that they were unable to defeat the Partisans alone, the Chetniks tried to persuade the Italians to undertake a large operation against the Partisans in western Bosnia. Trifunović-Birčanin met with Roatta on 10 and 21 September and urged him to undertake this operation as soon as possible to clear the Partisans from the Prozor-Livno area and offered 7,500 Chetniks as aid on the condition they be given the necessary arms and supplies. He was successful in obtaining some arms and promises of action. The proposed operation, faced with opposition from Ante Pavelić and a cautious Italian high command, was nearly cancelled, but after Jevđević and Trifunović-Birčanin promised to cooperate with Croat and Muslim anti-Partisan units, it went ahead, with less Chetnik involvement.
In early October 1942, Jevđević and Petar Baćović, with 3,000 Herzegovinian and southeast-Bosnian Chetniks, participated in the Italian-led Operation Alfa. This involved a two-pronged thrust towards the town of Prozor; Germans and NDH troops drove from the north, and Italian and Chetnik forces pushed from the Neretva River. Prozor and some smaller towns were captured by the combined Italian-Chetnik force. Individual Chetnik bands, acting on their own, burned villages and massacred between 543 and 2,500 Muslims and Catholics in the Prozor area. Their behaviour angered the NDH government and the Italians had to order the Chetniks to withdraw. Some were discharged altogether while others were later sent to northern Dalmatia to aid Momčilo Đujić's forces. A month after the massacre, Jevđević and Baćović wrote a self-critical report on Prozor to Mihailović, hoping to distance themselves from the actions of the troops.
In a meeting with Roatta in November 1942, Jevđević obtained Italian agreement to "legalise" another 3,000 Chetniks and recognition of almost all of eastern Herzegovina as a "Chetnik zone". On 15 November 1942, Jevđević agreed to support the Italian decision to start arming Muslim anti-Partisan groups. This support almost cost him his life when several Chetniks, who strongly opposed the arming of Croat and Muslim anti-Partisan groups by the Italians, visited Mostar with the intention of assassinating him.
By the end of 1942, Chetnik–Italian collaboration was routine and Chetnik forces were included in the Italian planning for Case White, the major Axis anti-Partisan offensive to be launched on 20 January 1943. On 3 January, Jevđević participated in an Axis planning conference for Case White in Rome, along with senior German, Italian and NDH commanders. The plans included the 12,000 Chetniks under Jevđević's command, and on 23 February 1943 he concluded an agreement with the Germans that they would not cross the Neretva River and that contact between German and Chetnik troops would be avoided. Early in the operation, Jevđević concluded an agreement for cooperation with the commander of NDH troops in Mostar. Later in the operation Jevđević requested, through the Italians, the assistance of the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen in defending Nevesinje, which faced severe pressure from Partisan forces that had broken through the Chetnik lines at the Battle of the Neretva River. Although the Italians also made this request themselves, the Germans declined, stating that the division was reserved for other tasks.
After the death of Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin in February 1943, Jevđević, along with Đujić, Baćović, and Radovan Ivanišević, vowed to the Italians to carry on Trifunović-Birčanin's policies of closely collaborating with them against the Yugoslav Partisans. Mihailović apparently felt that Jevđević had exceeded his authority by attending the Case White planning conference in Rome, and indeed, when the Yugoslav government-in-exile awarded Jevđević the Order of the Star of Karađorđe in early 1943 for his services to the Serb population during the Ustaše massacres of 1941, Mihailović suppressed the announcement of the award because of the nature of Jevđević's agreement with the Italians, although the reason may also have been because he was aware of Chetnik revenge killings of Herzegovinian Catholics and Muslims in response to atrocities committed by the Ustaše in Croatia.
In December 1944, Jevđević's 3,000 remaining Chetniks joined Momčilo Đujić's Chetniks, Dimitrije Ljotić's Serbian Volunteer Corps, and the remnants of Milan Nedić's Serbian Shock Corps, which were under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS (SS General) Odilo Globocnik, the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Adriatic Littoral. Jevđević's forces and the other collaborationist forces were blessed by Serbian Orthodox bishop Nikolaj Velimirović upon his arrival. On 11 April 1945, a detachment of Jevđević's Chetniks, along with three regiments of the Serbian Volunteer Corps, marched into south-western Croatia with the aim of linking up with the Montenegrin Volunteer Corps of Pavle Đurišić, which was marching across Bosnia in an attempt to reach Slovenia. The relief effort came too late, because Đurišić's forces had already been defeated by NDH forces at the Battle of Lijevče Field near Banja Luka, after which Đurišić was captured and killed. The relief force then marched north to Slovenia where they fought the Partisans, before retreating into Austria. They were subsequently repatriated to Yugoslavia and killed by the Partisans. Jevđević remained highly influential among the Chetniks until the end of the war.
Escape to Italy and death
After the war, an indictment was issued against Jevđević in Sarajevo. It charged that under his command in "the first half of October 1942 in and around Prozor they [Italians and Chetniks] butchered and killed 1,716 persons of both sexes, of the Croatian and Muslim nations, and plundered and burnt about 500 households." In the spring of 1945, Jevđević fled to Italy where Allied military authorities arrested and detained him at a camp in Grottaglie. He was interned there for some time along with others, including the former Ustaše commissioner for Banja Luka, Viktor Gutić. Yugoslavia's requests for extradition were ignored and Jevđević was set free. Subsequently, he moved to Rome and established a newspaper and wrote several books about his wartime experiences. He lived in Rome until his death in October 1962 at the age of 67.
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