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"For king and fatherland": Collaboration and genocide in wartime Yugoslavia

Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This thesis interrogates the motives, worldviews, and culture of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (Jugoslovenska vojska u otadžbini, JVuO), popularly known as the Chetniks. I argue that the JVuO's ideological foundation was predicated on genocidal intentions which were acted upon, mostly against Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) peoples but also against ethnic Albanians, Croats, and other non-Serbian peoples. I view the JVuO as a political entity, as well as a military one, which contradicts existing studies of the Chetniks which tend to focus almost solely on the group's military character. To do this, the thesis divides the JVuO into three constituent units: the main group centred around the Ravna Gora Movement of eastern Bosnia and western Serbia and led by General Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović, the Lim-Sandžak Chetnik Detachments located in Montenegro and commanded by Major Pavle Ðurišić, and the Dinara Chetnik Division in the Dalmatia-Hercegovina borderland and commanded by the priest Vojvoda Momčilo Ðujić. What emerges is the regional characteristics of each unit, each motivated by local circumstances and nuances, but remaining attuned to their own understandings of what the JVuO was and coloured by the varying degrees to which each unit collaborated with the Axis forces in their regions, either the Nazi German, Italian, or both. While the Ravna Gora Movement needed to maintain some semblance of a professional army given its prominence in the Allied imagination as an anti-Axis resistance movement, the Lim-Sandžak Chetniks could act with impunity against Bosnian Muslim and Albanian peoples. Massacres and killings in Montenegro emerged because of the Lim-Sandžak Chetniks' monopoly on violence in the region and agreements with the Italian authorities. In contrast, the Dinara Chetnik Division was in a position of relative weakness to the Italian occupation authorities, the Independent State of Croatia's (Nezavisna država hrvatska, NDH) forces, and the communist-led Partisan resistance. Massacres in Dalmatia and Hercegovina emerged first as reprisal killings for the NDH's own massacres against Serbs, but later escalated to include pre-emptive killings. This thesis will be of particular interest to scholars of paramilitarism, mass violence and genocide, and the cultural aspects of warring groups; however, this thesis also makes an original contribution to the scholarship by redefining the way in which a well-studied paramilitary group is understood, and indeed guerrilla warfare more generally. The JVuO were at once opportunistic and pragmatic, Serbian nationalist and Yugoslav-oriented, collaborators and Allies.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Kuehn, Thomas
Thesis advisor: Newman, John Paul
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