Howard Fast

Tito and His People

The Mikhailovich Chetnik Myth

Since the first rumors of guerrilla resistance in Yugoslavia reached the outside world, until a very short time ago, our newspapers were flooded with romantic tales of the fierce Serbian Chetniks and the gallant deeds they performed. Most of this Chetnik legend was untrue. Part of it was fostered, encouraged and blown out of all proportions by the Yugoslav government-in-exile. The other part of it was created by correspondents who knew little of the Chetniks except that they sounded romantic.

The Yugoslav government-in-exile created Chetnik and Mikhailovich news. They seized secret reports of Partisan battles and credited these victories to the Chetniks.

They did all this for a very good reason. They did it because they were terrified at the thought of losing control of their country.

At no time were more than a small minority of Mikhailovich's army Chetniks, and even then they were none too reliable.

Who are these Chetniks?

The Chetnik Action, a sort of romantic, semi-terroristic secret military society, began in Serbia early in the nineteen hundreds, ostensibly as liberators of Serbs under Turkish rule. They received unofficial support from the Serbian government. During the next ten years, they discovered that terrorism was more profitable than liberation; nor did they confine their banditry and extortion to the Turks. Often enough, they took from the Serbs as well.

By 1941, the Chetnik movement was largely a thing of the past. Young men who went in for that sort of thing were unstable romantics. Old Chetniks lived on their memories.

When Yugoslavia surrendered, most of the brightly-uniformed, boasting Chetniks either dropped out of sight or became Axis collaborationists. Some few, however, did join Mikhailovich.

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