Macquarie University
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Draža Mihailović and the national policy of the Chetnik Movement, 1941-1945

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posted on 2022-03-29, 00:47 authored by Jovo Šušc̆ević
This thesis examines the national policy of the Chetnik Movement and the role played by Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović in its formulation, development, and implementation. A national policy is a political program formulated to create a workable political system and state organisation in response to a national question, which is the conflict that arises from the competing national aspirations of the people who inhabit a nationally heterogeneous region. Whilst this thesis emphasises Mihailović's role in the shaping of the national policy, it attempts to demonstrate how other important military and political figures who constituted the leadership of the Chetnik Movement influenced this process. Since a national policy would guide the movement's actions and policies during the war, and serve as the blueprint for the organisation of the postwar state, formulating a national policy was the most important political task faced by Mihailović and the Chetnik leadership. Despite this, it was only in January 1944 that an official national policy was composed, although an unofficial one existed before this date. This thesis contends that the Chetniks' national policy was composed of two parts: (1) a postwar national policy, which addressed the future of Yugoslavia and its peoples after the war, and dealt with such matters as the borders, national composition, political system, and state arrangement of the Yugoslav lands; and (2) a wartime national policy, which refers to the conduct and policies towards the populace during the war. The relationship between these two parts of the national policy is examined, as is the question of whether either changed during the war, in what ways, and for what reasons. -- Mihailović and the other leading figures in his movement were guided, first and foremost, by what they deemed to be in the interests of the Serbian nation. In view of this, the national policy of the Chetnik Movement is best described as nationalist. Nationalism, to cite Ernest Gellner's famous dictum, "is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent." To construct such a nation-state for the Serbian people, the Chetniks sought to amalgamate regions with a sizeable Serbian population, as well as a number with a negligible Serbian populace, in to a single political unit after the war. This postwar Serbia was to be part of a wider South Slav union alongside Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia. Concurrent with the creation of four federal units, was the recognition of only four South Slav nations: Bulgarians, Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes. The Chetnik leadership viewed the Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Muslims as part of the Serbian nation, and planned to homogenise the national composition of their imagined postwar Serbia through the expulsion of a number of undesirable nations (Albanians, Germans, Hungarians, and Romanians) and the assimilation of the remaining South Slav population (Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Muslims). It is argued that such a national policy did not have widespread support even amongst the Serbs, and the reasons why Mihailović adopted it are discussed. -- An examination of Mihailović's wartime national policy demonstrates that he focused almost exclusively on the Montenegrins and Serbs, and on the Slovenes to a lesser extent. Numerous attempts to attract the Croats and Muslims were made, but the other Yugoslav peoples were largely ignored. Three methods were employed to mobilise Croats and Muslims in to the Chetnik Movement - propaganda, approaches to their established political and religious leadership, and the creation of an organisational framework - but these tactics failed to draw any significant number of them in to the Chetnik Movement. The question of the number of Croats and Muslims killed by the Chetniks, and the most appropriate label for these mass killings is also discussed. Finally, Mihailović's defence at his postwar trial is examined in the context of the national policy espoused by the Chetnik Movement.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Historical background -- 1941 -- 1942 -- 1943 -- 1944-1945 -- Conclusions.


Bibliography: p. 449-480

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Dept. of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Aleksandar Pavković

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter Radan


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Jovo Šušcevic 2011.




Serbia and Montenegro; Yugoslavia


1 online resource (xxiv, 480 p.) maps (some col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:37358 1760476