An unofficial Bosnian American group has launched a petition for the removal of a monument of WWII Chetnik general Draža Mihailović in Libertyville, an affluent suburb of Chicago, calling the monument a “symbol of hate, ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
The petitioners say the petition has been posted on behalf of several Bosnian-American organizations in the United States and urges Congressman Bradley Schneider, Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help “take action for the immediate removal of the monument, the symbol of hate, reminiscent of recent Bosnian aggression, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.”
Draža Mihailović was a Yugoslav Serb general during World War II and an overt royalist, both during and after the war, when the new socialist government took over. In Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, he organized guerrilla resistance forces, known as the Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army or, more commonly, Chetniks.
In the early days of the occupation, the guerrilla forces operated together with Josp Broz Tito’s Partisan forces, but the two began fighting each other toward the end of the war. Some Chetnik groups collaborated with the Axis powers and Mihailović himself is known to have collaborated with Milan Nedić and Dimitrije Ljotić.
Mihailović also collaborated with the Allied forces during the occupation, receiving arms and other support from the British in particular. In Serbia, his forces controlled much of the mountains, where Axis forces were absent. Among other resistance activities, this enabled the Halyard Mission, also known as Operation Air Bridge, which rescued over 400 Allied airmen who had been downed over occupied Yugoslavia during and had been rescued and hidden by Chetnik groups in the mountains of Central Serbia.
After WWII, Mihailović was tried and convicted of high treason and war crimes by the authorities of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. He was executed in Belgrade on July 17, 1946. He remains one of the most controversial characters in former-Yugoslav history.
In May 2015, the Supreme Court of Cassation in Belgrade, Serbia’s highest appellate court, issued a ruling to rehabilitate Mihailović.
Feature image source credit: Statue of Draža Mihailović in Canada, Pidge Copetti [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons