Milan Nedić

Milan Nedić (Serbian Cyrillic: Милан Недић; 2 September 1878 – 4 February 1946) was a Yugoslav and Serbian army general and politician who served as the Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Yugoslav Army, Minister of War in the Royal Yugoslav Government. During World War II, he collaborated with the Germans and served as the Prime Minister of a puppet government, Government of National Salvation, in the German occupied territory of Serbia. After the war, the Yugoslav communist authorities imprisoned him. In 1946, they reported that he had committed suicide by jumping out of a window in the prison.

Milan Nedić
Milan Nedić 1939.jpg
Prime Minister of the Government of National Salvation
In office
29 August 1941 – 4 October 1944
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Minister of Interior of the Government of National Salvation
In office
5 November 1943 – 4 October 1944
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byTanasije Dinić
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Minister of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
In office
26 August 1939 – 6 November 1940
MonarchPeter II
Prime MinisterDragiša Cvetković
RegentPaul
Preceded byMilutin Nedić
Succeeded byPetar Pešić (acting)
Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Yugoslav Armed Forces
In office
1 June 1934 – 9 March 1935
MonarchAlexander I
Peter II
Prime MinisterNikola Uzunović
Bogoljub Jevtić
RegentPaul
Preceded byPetar Kosić (acting)
Succeeded byPetar Kosić (acting)
Personal details
Born(1878-09-02)2 September 1878
Grocka, Serbia
Died4 February 1946(1946-02-04) (aged 67)
Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
Cause of deathSuicide by jumping
NationalitySerbian
Spouse(s)Živka Pešić
Children5
RelativesMilutin Nedić (brother)
Dimitrije Ljotić (cousin)
Alma materMilitary Academy
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Serbia (1904–1918)
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941)
Branch/serviceRoyal Serbian Army
Royal Yugoslav Army
Years of service1904–1941
RankStandard of Army General of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.svg Army general (Kingdom of Yugoslavia)
Commands3rd Army Group
Battles/wars
AwardsCommemorative Medal of the Albanian Campaign,1920 rib.png Albanian Commemorative Medal

Early life and military careerEdit

Milan Nedić was born in the Belgrade suburb of Grocka on 2 September 1878 to Đorđe and Pelagia Nedić. His father was a local district chief and his mother was a teacher from a village near Mount Kosmaj. She was the granddaughter of Nikola Mihailović, who was mentioned in the writings of poet Sima Milutinović Sarajlija and was an ally of Serbian revolutionary leader Karađorđe. The Nedić family was originally from the village of Zaoka, near Lazarevac. It traced its origins to two brothers, Damjan and Gligorije, who defended the Čokešina Monastery from the Turks during the Serbian Revolution. The family received its name from Nedić's great-grandmother, Neda, who was a member of the Vasojevići tribe in Montenegro.[1]

Nedić finished gymnasium in Kragujevac in 1895 and entered the lower level of the Military Academy in Belgrade that year. In 1904, he completed the upper level of the academy, then the General Staff preparatory, and was commissioned into the Serbian Army.[2] In 1910, he was promoted to the rank of major. He fought with the Serbian Army during the Balkan Wars, and received multiple decorations for bravery. In 1913, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served with the Serbian Army during World War I and was involved in rearguard actions during its retreat through Albania in the winter of 1915. That year, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. At 38, he was the youngest colonel in the Serbian General Staff. He was appointed ordnance officer to King Peter in 1916. Towards the end of the war, Nedić was given command of an infantry brigade of the Timok Division.[1]

Royal Yugoslav ArmyEdit

Nedić remained a brigade commander within the Timok Division until the end of 1918 and served as the 3rd Army chief of staff.[1] Beginning in 1919, he also served as the de facto head of the 4th Army District in Croatia because its nominal commander, General Božidar Janković, was old and infirm. Nedić's cousin, Dimitrije Ljotić, and their mutual friend Stanislav Krakov, also served in the 4th Army District and were commanded by Nedić.[3] When the Royal Yugoslav Army (Serbo-Croatian Latin: Vojska Kraljevine Jugoslavije, VKJ) was formed in 1919 he was absorbed into the army at the same rank. He was promoted to Divizijski đeneral in 1923, and subsequently commanded a division then was Secretary-General of the Committee of National Defence. In 1930, Nedić was promoted to the rank of Armijski đeneral,[1][a] and assumed command of the 3rd Army in Skoplje.[5] Nedić was appointed Chief of the General Staff in June 1934, and held this position until the following year,[1] when he became the third member of the Military Council, probably because of his strained relations with the Minister for the Army and Navy, Petar Živković. At the time, British diplomatic staff observed that he was "somewhat slow-thinking and obstinate".[6] On 13 August 1939, Nedić was appointed Minister of the Army and Navy as part of the Cvetković–Maček Agreement.[7][8] Ljotić later assisted the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Central Office, RSHA) in establishing contacts with him.[9] He also exploited the connections he had with Nedić to ensure that the banned Zbor-published journal Bilten (Bulletin) was distributed to members of the VKJ. The journal was published illegally in a military printing house and distributed throughout Yugoslavia by military couriers.[10]

Because of his disapproval of a potential participation in the war against Adolf Hitler's Germany, Nedić was dismissed on 6 November 1940 by regent Paul. This was most likely out of unease with Nazi Germany's ally, Fascist Italy which at the time harboured the Croatian extreme nationalist Ustashe leader Ante Pavelić in exile in Rome, and because of the rhetoric of some Italian fascists in the past such as the late Gabriele D'Annunzio, who were violently opposed to a Yugoslav state. Nedić welcomed the coup of 1941 which deposed the pro-Axis regime, and fought for Yugoslavia in the German-led Axis invasion that followed.[11]

Occupied SerbiaEdit

Wehrmacht commander Heinrich Danckelmann decided to entrust Nedić with the administration of German-occupied territory of Serbia in order to pacify Serb resistance. Not long before, Nedić had lost his only son and pregnant daughter in law in a munitions explosion in Smederevo, in which several thousands died. He accepted the post of the prime minister in the government called the Government of National Salvation, on 29 August 1941. At the same time mass imprisonment of the Jews started where police and gendarmerie of quisling government under Nedić assisted the Germans in arresting the Jews.[12]

On 1 September 1941 Nedić made a speech on Radio Belgrade in which he declared the intent of his administration to "save the core of the Serbian people" by accepting the occupation of Germany in the area of Sumadija, Drina Valley, Pomoravlje and Banat. He also spoke against organizing resistance to the occupying forces. His state's propaganda was funded by Germany and promoted anti-Semitism and anti-communism, particularly linking these up with anti-masonry.[13] In his speeches he uses terms such as "Communist-Jewish rabble" and "Communist-Masonic-Jewish-English mafia".[12] In March 1942, Nedić established the Serbian State Guard (Srpska državna straža) who together with the Gestapo participated in the guarding of the Banjica concentration camp, and were responsible for the killings of inmates, including children.[14] In October 1943, the State Guard came under control of the SS. Its members were also engaged in the execution of captured Partisans.[15]

The puppet government under Nedić accepted many refugees mostly of Serbian descent.[16] The civil war unleashed by German occupation in Serbia was the cause of losing more lives than German terror. In total, between 141,000 and 167,000 people died in Serbia of war-related causes. These deaths included 34,000 killed by the Germans and their Serb helpers, 46,000 deaths in prisons and camps, and 33,000 Chetnik and 42,000 Partisan combatants. At least 300,000 people were deported from Serbia or held in prisons and concentration camps.[17] German reprisals demanded that 100 Serbs be killed for each killed German soldier and 50 for each wounded German soldier,[18] as in the Kragujevac massacre.[19] Nedić implemented Hitler's anti Semitic policies and Belgrade became the first city in Europe to be declared Judenfrei ("clean of Jews") while Serbia itself was declared as such in August 1942.[20][21][22] Nedić also secretly diverted money and arms from his government to the Chetniks.[23][24] The military forces of Ljotić and Nedić together with the Wehrmacht participated in anti-Communist operations.[25] In the 1942 Christmas address, he announced that "the old world, which had destroyed our state, is over and replaced by the new one. This new world will elevate Serbia to its rightful and honorable place in the new Europe; under the new leadership (of Germany) we look courageously into the future". In 1942 he outlined a memo of his vision of Great Serbia in which Bosnia-Herzegovina, Srijem, and Dalmatia are within Serbia's borders with local population replaced by Serbian settlers.[26] On 28 February 1943, the commanding general in Serbia reduced the reprisal orders to 50 hostages for each German soldier, armed forces employee, civilian or Bulgarian soldier killed, and 25 for each German or Bulgarian wounded.[18] Nedić was received by Adolf Hitler in September 1943 when they talked about security and order in the occupied territory.[27] Nedić's Ministry of Education, Ljotić and the intellectuals from the Zbor prepared Serbia and its youth by changing the education system in order to prepare the society for Hitler’s New Europe, in which anti-Semitism and anti-Communism were integral parts of the new ideological framework.[25]

On 4 October 1944, with the successes of the Yugoslav Partisans and their onslaught on Belgrade, Nedić's puppet government was disbanded, and on 6 October Nedić fled from Belgrade to Kitzbühel, Austria (then annexed to Germany) where he took refuge with the occupying British. On 1 January 1946 the British forces handed him over to the Yugoslav Partisans.

He was incarcerated in Belgrade on charges of treason. On 4 February 1946, it is believed that Nedić either jumped out of the window of the Belgrade hospital where he was being detained or that he was pushed out to his death.[28] According to official records, he committed suicide by jumping through the window.[29]

Recently, Miodrag Mladenović, a former officer with of the Yugoslavian OZNA, said that on 4 February 1946, he received an order to pick up a dead body at Zmaj Jovina street, where the prison was located at the time. When he arrived there, the body was already wrapped in a blanket and rigor mortis had already set in. Following the orders given to him, he took the body to the cemetery where it was buried in an unusually deep grave. He never attempted to see the face of the person that he was carrying, but the day after he read in the news that Nedić had committed suicide by jumping through the prison window at Zmaj Jovina street.[30]

LegacyEdit

After 2000, revisionists' demands for the rehabilitation of Milan Nedić began.[31] Nedić's portrait was included among those of Serbian prime ministers in the building of the Government of Serbia.[32] In 2008, the Minister of Interior and Deputy PM Ivica Dačić removed the portrait after neo-Nazi marches were announced in the country.[33][34] Revisionist interpretations required that Nedić's collaboration with the occupying forces and responsibility for the execution of Jews under his rule be obscured, in order to remember him as the "savior of the Serbian people".[34]

On 11 July 2018, The Higher Serbian Court in Belgrade rejected an application to rehabilitate the quisling Prime Minister of occupied Serbia during World War II, Milan Nedić.[35]

In 1941 in Kragujevac and Kraljevo during Milan Nedić puppet government Germany's military presence in Serbia was strengthened and there was more than one mass shooting of civilians when more than 5 thousand people most of them Serbs where killed during same puppet Nedić government that has claimed to protect Serbs from German killings. Events are known as Kragujevac massacre and Kraljevo massacre.

During the rehabilitation trial, historian Bojan Dimitrijevic from the Institute for Contemporary Serbian History claimed, based on archived documents, that Nedić was not directly involved in the persecution and killing of Jews. According to Dimitrijevic, Nedić's administration only registered Jews and gave them fake Serbian documents while the Germans rounded them up and performed all the executions.[36][37]

During the Miloševic era, the regime and some Serb historians found it extremely important to win over eminent Yugoslav Jewish organizations and individuals for the idea of the joint Serbo-Jewish martyrdom. To accomplish it, Serbia had to falsify history by obscuring the fact that the Serb quislings Milan Nedic and Dimitrije Ljotic ́ had cleansed Serbia of its sizeable Jewish population by deportations of Jews to East European concentration camps or killing them in Serbia.[38] In 1995, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts published a volume entitled 100 Outstanding Serbs and included Nedić on the list. The minor Serbian Liberal Party attempted to promote his rehabilitation as an anti-Nazi, who did his best in an impossible situation, sparking controversy in Serbia.[39]

Other opinions claims that it was Nedić's role to protect Serbs from further executions in NDH and by Germans in Serbia to provide some reprisal toward Jews, and that was done mostly by confiscating and selling Jews property after they were executed by Germans, who were not interested in buying homes and lands of Jews in Serbia and had given a list of Jews to Germans.[40]

As one of biggest reasons for the killing of 11,000 Jews in Serbia by Germans, the Jewish reporter, author of many books on Jews in Serbia, historian and president of Jew community Belgrade, Jaša Almuli claimed that it was reprisal for resistance against Germans in occupied Serbia and that Jews were killed for the same reasons as Serbs: to fulfill Hitler's quota towards Serbs and Serbia: for a wounded soldier yo kill 50 and for a dead German soldier to kill 100 people. For that reason, together with Serbs and Gypsies, about 5000 Jews were shot. German SS General Harald Turner was the main culprit behind the shooting of Jews in occupied Serbia.[41]

According to Cohen and Riesman, in Nedić's Serbia about 15,000 of Jews perished, about 94% of Serbian Jews.[42]According to Jelena Subotić in the pre-occupation Serbia 27,000 Jews from them 33,500 were killed in the Holocaust, and another 1,000 from central Europe, mostly from Czechoslovakia and Austria. In German-occupied Serbia lived around 17,000 of Jews and very early 82% of Jews were killed, this includes 11,000 of Belgrade Jews.[43]

"One Hundred Greatest Serbs" is the book of 1993, published by Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and it included an entry on Nedić in which its editor, the historian Dejan Medaković, clamed that he was "one of the most tragic figures in Serbian history" whose collaboration saved "a million Serbian lives". Patriarch Pavle held a memorial service for Nedić in 1994. The publisher of the recent secondary school history textbook Nebojša Jovanović in 2002 told the daily Politika that collaboration with the Nazis was a way of preserving the ‘biological substance of the Serbian people".[44]

CitationsEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Armiski đeneral was equivalent to a United States lieutenant general.[4]

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Glas javnosti & 27 January 2006.
  2. ^ Ramet & Lazić 2011, p. 17.
  3. ^ Cohen 1996, p. 14.
  4. ^ Niehorster 2013a.
  5. ^ Jarman 1997c, p. 119.
  6. ^ Jarman 1997c, p. 120.
  7. ^ Ramet 2006, p. 107.
  8. ^ Cohen 1996, p. 18.
  9. ^ Cohen 1996, p. 20.
  10. ^ Cohen 1996, pp. 18–21.
  11. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 179.
  12. ^ a b Hoare 2006, pp. 156-162.
  13. ^ "Visualizing Otherness II: Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies : University of Minnesota". Chgs.umn.edu. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  14. ^ Cohen 1996, p. 39, 49.
  15. ^ Ramet 2006, p. 130.
  16. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p. 217.
  17. ^ Prusin 2017, p. 180.
  18. ^ a b Tomasevich 2001, p. 216.
  19. ^ Byford 2011, p. 303.
  20. ^ Cox 2002, pp. 92–93.
  21. ^ Morton, J.; Forage, P.; Bianchini, S.; Nation, R. (2004). Reflections on the Balkan Wars: Ten Years After the Break-Up of Yugoslavia. Springer. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-40398-020-5.
  22. ^ Subotić 2019, p. 3.
  23. ^ Tomasevich 2001, pp. 216–217.
  24. ^ Hoare 2006, p. 293.
  25. ^ a b Antić, Ana (2016). Therapeutic Fascism: Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order. Oxford University Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-0-19108-751-6.
  26. ^ Prusin, Alexander (2017). Serbia under the Swastika: A World War II Occupation. University of Illinois Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-25209-961-8.
  27. ^ Kroener, Bernhard R.; Müller, Rolf-Dieter; Umbreit, Hans (1990). Germany and the Second World War, Volume 5, Part 2. Clarendon Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-19820-873-0.
  28. ^ Ramet & Lazić 2011, p. 38.
  29. ^ Đureinović, Jelena (2019). The Politics of Memory of the Second World War in Contemporary Serbia: Collaboration, Resistance and Retribution. Routledge. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-00075-438-4.
  30. ^ "Google Translate". Translate.google.com. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  31. ^ Himka & Michlic 2019, p. 646.
  32. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2011). Serbia and the Serbs in World War Two. Springer. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-23034-781-6.
  33. ^ Omaljev, Ana (2016). Discourses on Identity in 'First' and 'Other' Serbia: Social Construction of the Self and the Other in a Divided Serbia. Columbia University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-3-83826-711-1.
  34. ^ a b Himka & Michlic 2019, p. 647.
  35. ^ Radišić, Nikola (26 July 2018). "Odbijen zahtev za rehabilitaciju Nedića" [Nedic's Rehabilitation Request Rejected]. N1 (in Serbian).
  36. ^ Dragojlo, Sasa (23 May 2016). "Serbia's Nazi-Backed Leader 'Did Not Kill Jews'". Balkan Insight. BIRN.
  37. ^ Subotić 2019, p. 89.
  38. ^ Perica 2002, p. 151.
  39. ^ Lazić 2011, p. 269.
  40. ^ Čalija, Jelena. "Kako je Nedićeva vlast prodavala kuće Jevreja". Politika Online. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  41. ^ Kljakic, Slobodan (1 July 2012). "Истина о уништењу српских Јевреја и њено фалсификовање". Politika.rs.
  42. ^ Haskin, Jeanne M. (2006). Bosnia and Beyond: The "quiet" Revolution that Wouldn't Go Quietly. Algora Publishing. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0-87586-429-7.
  43. ^ Subotić 2019, pp. 53-54.
  44. ^ Byford, Jovan (2011). "The Collaborationist Administration and the Treatment of the Jews in Nazi-Occupied Serbia." In: Ramet S.P., Listhaug O. (eds) Serbia and the Serbs in World War Two.". Serbia and the Serbs in World War Two. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-349-32611-2.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Milan Milovanović
Chief of the General Staff of Royal Yugoslav Army
1934 – 1935
Succeeded by
Ljubomir Marić
Political offices
Preceded by
Milutin Nedić
Minister of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
1939–1940
Succeeded by
Petar Pešić
Preceded by
New title
President of the Ministerial Council of the Serbian Government of National Salvation
1941 – 1944
Succeeded by
Position abolished