Momčilo Đujić

Momčilo Đujić (Serbian Cyrillic: Момчилo Ђујић, Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [mǒmtʃiːlo dʑûːjitɕ]; 27 February 1907 – 11 September 1999) was a Serbian Orthodox priest and Chetnik commander (Serbo-Croatian: vojvoda, војвода) who led a significant proportion of the Chetniks within the northern Dalmatia and western Bosnia regions of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II.


Momčilo Đujić
Momčilo Đujić crop.jpg
Native name
Момчило Ђујић
Nickname(s)Father Fire
Born(1907-02-27)27 February 1907
Kovačić, Knin, Dalmatia, Austria-Hungary (now Croatia)
Died11 September 1999(1999-09-11) (aged 92)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Years of service1941–1945
Commands held
Battles/warsWorld War II in Yugoslavia
Other workRavna Gora Movement of Serbian Chetniks
SignatureMomčilo Đujić signature.png

Following the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia in 1934, he joined the Chetnik Association of Kosta Pećanac. After the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, he defended local Serbs against the Croatian fascist Ustaše regime and collaborated with the Axis powers against the communist-led Yugoslav Partisans throughout the remainder of the war as the commander of the Chetnik Dinara Division. He survived the war, surrendering to the western Allies and eventually emigrating to the United States. He was tried and convicted in absentia for war crimes by the new Yugoslav communist government, which found him guilty of mass murder, torture, rape, robbery, and forcible confinement, as well as collaborating with the German and Italians. Included in these charges was responsibility for the deaths of 1,500 people.

Settling in California, Đujić played an important role in Serbian émigré circles and founded the Ravna Gora Movement of Serbian Chetniks alongside other exiled Chetnik fighters. He later retired to San Marcos. In 1989, Đujić appointed Vojislav Šešelj as a Chetnik vojvoda. He later stated that he regretted awarding the title to Šešelj on account of his involvement with Slobodan Milošević and his Socialist Party. In 1998, Biljana Plavšić, then President of the Republika Srpska, presented Đujić with an honorary award. Plavšić was later convicted of crimes against humanity related to her activities during the Bosnian War. Đujić died at a hospice in San Diego in 1999, aged 92.

Early life, education and priesthoodEdit

Momčilo Đujić was born in the village of Kovačić, near Knin in the Kingdom of Dalmatia, on 27 February 1907. He was the oldest of five children born to Rade Đujić and his wife Ljubica (née Miloš).[1] The family was of Bosnian origin.[2] Rade had moved to Kovačić with his disabled Austro-Hungarian Army veteran father, Glišo, and his brother, Nikola, in the late 1880s and lived off his father's army pension for a time. Ljubica hailed from the village of Ljubač, southeast of Knin. Shortly after his marriage to Ljubica, Rade established himself as a successful farmer. The couple went on to have three sons and two daughters over a 16 year period.[1]

Mount Dinara and the Knin countryside

Đujić's mother wished to name him Simo, after his uncle. Đujić's father disliked the name and, having been raised listening to the gusle and reciting Serbian epic poetry, named his son after Momchil, a 14th-century brigand in the service of Serbian Emperor Dušan the Mighty.[1] It was not until Momčilo started primary school in 1914 that his mother discovered that he had not been named Simo at his baptism. Đujić finished primary school in 1918 and graduated as the best student in his class. Between 1920 and 1924, he attended lower gymnasium in Knin. After a two-year pause, he began attending the higher gymnasium in Šibenik but did not graduate. In 1929, he began attending the Serbian Orthodox seminary in Sremski Karlovci, graduated in 1931 and was ordained a priest two years later.[3] In 1933 Đujić published a poetry book Emiilijade.[4] He was assigned to the Orthodox parish in Strmica, near Kovačić. Shortly before ordination, he married Zorka Dobrijević-Jundžić, the eldest daughter of a wealthy merchant from Bosansko Grahovo. The two were married in the Church of St. George in Knin, where Đujić had been baptised as an infant. Đujić's first child, Siniša, was born in 1934. In 1935, Zorka gave birth to twins, a son named Radomir and a daughter named Radojka.[3]

Đujić and his family were relatively wealthy by the standards of Depression-era Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[3] Đujić consequently became the most influential person in the village. He sought to use his money and influence to help the Serb peasants in the Dalmatian hinterland. In 1934, he organised the construction of the "Petar Mrkonjić" cultural centre in Strmica, financed and oversaw the irrigation of farmland west of Mračaj and approved the reconstruction of a pair of church bells on the Church of St. John the Baptist. The reconstruction of the church bells, which had been destroyed by Austro-Hungarian artillery in 1916, was financed with money donated by the Yugoslav government and further improved his reputation among the local population. Đujić's critics accused him of misappropriating funds, which he denied from the pulpit.[5]

Interwar Chetnik AssociationEdit

In October 1934, a Bulgarian nationalist assassinated Yugoslavia's King Alexander in Marseille. Đujić's reputation was such that he was chosen to stand by Alexander's coffin as the funeral train travelled through Knin. On this occasion, he met the future World War II Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović for the first and only time.[6] The king's assassination was partially orchestrated by the Ustaše, a Croatian fascist movement and terrorist organisation. Soon after this, Đujić began carrying arms and organising Serb paramilitary groups in and around Knin.[7] "I knew that the country would not survive", Đujić explained, "because nobody can put Serbs and Croats in the same bag". In late 1934, he met with Kosta Pećanac, the head of the interwar Chetnik Association, and formed eleven Chetnik bands in the vicinity of the town.[6] Chetnik insurgency did not have a long tradition in Dalmatia, and only emerged in the 1930s. Đujić subjected local Serbs to constant propaganda, hoping that it would convince them to join the Chetniks. Most ignored his appeals, and continued living peacefully with their Croat neighbours.[8]

On 9 January 1935, Đujić, with a carbine slung over his back, presided over a gathering of twenty newly-recruited Chetniks in the village of Sveti Štefan just north of Knin, together with gendarmerie Brigadni đeneral Ljubo Novaković and one of Pećanac's deputies who brought Chetnik and Sokol insignia from Belgrade. The gathering was held in full view of the villagers, and marked the first time that Đujić publicly donned a Chetnik uniform. This consisted of World War I-era Royal Serbian Army battledress and a black lambswool cap known as a šubara, with skull and crossbones insignia.[7] On 6 September 1935, Đujić formed a Chetnik organisation in Vrlika. Several months later, he assembled a band of 70 Chetniks in the villages of Otrić and Velika Popina.[9] By this time the Chetnik organisation had transformed from the popular Serb guerilla bands of the Balkan Wars and World War I into a reactionary force that was used by the central government to oppress the populace.[8]

Đujić became known for his fiery speeches, which earned him the nickname "Father Fire" (Serbian: Pop vatra).[6] The tone of his speeches changed depending on the course of political developments in Yugoslavia, and his statements ranged from right-wing royalism to left-wing progressive. At certain points, Đujić appeared to embrace the quasi-fascism of the leader of the Yugoslav National Movement (Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslovenski narodni pokret, Zbor), Dimitrije Ljotić. At others, he strongly propagated conservative Chetnik ideology and Serb chauvinism.[10] Đujić's repeated calls for democracy and national rights prompted the regency of Prince Paul to brand him a "left-wing agitator". He received considerable support from the Serbian Orthodox Church in Knin.[11] He also used his position as a priest and respected local leader to influence how the people of Strmica would vote, instructing his parishioners to cast ballots for a candidate of his choosing in the 1935 Yugoslav parliamentary elections.[7]

In May 1937, Đujić gave a sermon in which he accused the Yugoslav government of being responsible for the poor working conditions of railroad workers in Dalmatia and western Bosnia. In particular, he criticised Niko Novaković-Longo, a deputy from Knin and minister without portfolio in Milan Stojadinović's government. In mid-May, Đujić led a massive strike between Bihać and Knin in which more than 10,000 disenchanted railroad workers participated. The Una–Butužnica railroad was one of eight being built in Yugoslavia by two French civil engineering companies, Société de Construction des Batignolles and Société Edmond Bayer de Agner. Đujić wished to minimise the influence that the communist-dominated United Workers Syndicate Union of Yugoslavia held over the work force in Dalmatia, and presented himself as a man out to defend the rights of workers throughout the country. The strike began on 15 May, on the SrbDugopolje road. After three days, it was broken up by the Yugoslav gendarmerie. Đujić then led the striking workers south to Vrpolje, where he attempted to negotiate a deal with the authorities. After negotiations broke down, Đujić led the workers north to Strmica, via Golubić and Pileći kuk. According to police records, he held a large rally at Pileći kuk and delivered a speech criticising the regency for its "pro-[Roman] Catholic, anti-[Eastern] Orthodox and anti-worker" policies. An eyewitness reported that Đujić waved "a red [communist] flag and greeted followers with a clenched fist, all while being the leader of a Chetnik band." In Knin, Đujić and the striking workers clashed with police. The police fired on the protesters, wounding three and killing a young girl who was watching the clash. Đujić was subsequently arrested and spent ten days in prison for "insulting His Majesty" during the rally at Pileći kuk, which was attended by a crowd of over 800 people.[12]

He later received financial compensation from the Yugoslav government for the time he spent in prison.[13] Đujić's actions greatly enhanced his reputation among Dalmatian peasants, who referred to him as a "brave leader of working men".[14] The local authorities continued to view Đujić with suspicion, describing him as a "priest of left-wing democracy" in internal documents.[13] Unsubstantiated rumours circulated that Đujić supported Ljotić's organisation, and that he was one of the few people that had voted for Ljotić in the 1938 Yugoslav parliamentary elections.[8] The local authorities suspected that Đujić was an "old Italian spy" who received orders from the Italian intelligence headquarters in Zadar, but never uncovered any evidence to substantiate these suspicions.[11] Prior to World War II, Đujić was a member of the exclusively-Serb Agrarian Union political party.[15]

World War IIEdit

The official proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia, 10 April 1941

Following the 1938 annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, Yugoslavia shared a border with the Third Reich and came under increasing pressure as her neighbours became aligned with the Axis powers. In April 1939, Yugoslavia gained a second frontier with Italy when that country invaded and occupied neighbouring Albania.[16] At the outbreak of World War II, the Yugoslav government declared its neutrality.[17] Between September and November 1940, Hungary and Romania joined the Tripartite Pact, and Italy invaded Greece from Albania. From that time, Yugoslavia was almost completely surrounded by the Axis powers and their satellites, and her neutral stance toward the war came under tremendous pressure.[16] In late February 1941, Bulgaria joined the Pact. The next day, German troops entered Bulgaria from Romania, closing the ring around Yugoslavia.[18] With the aim of securing his southern flank for the pending attack on the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler began placing heavy pressure on Yugoslavia to join the Axis powers. The Yugoslav government conditionally signed the Pact after some delay, on 25 March 1941. Two days later, a group of pro-Western Serb-nationalist air force officers deposed Prince Paul in a bloodless coup d'état. The conspirators declared 17-year-old Prince Peter of age and brought to power a government of national unity led by General Dušan Simović.[19] The coup enraged Hitler, who declared: "even if Yugoslavia at first should give declarations of loyalty, she must be considered as a foe and therefore must be destroyed as quickly as possible." He then ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia, which commenced on 6 April 1941.[20]

Đujić did not support the coup, and was in Strmica with his family when the Axis invasion began. He realised that Yugoslavia's collapse was inevitable after seeing a column of demoralised troops from the barely-mobilised 12th Infantry Division Jadranska pass his home. Once it became clear that the Royal Yugoslav Army (Serbo-Croatian: Vojska Kraljevine Jugoslavije, VKJ) could not hold the Axis advance, Đujić started blaming Croat fifth column activity for the VKJ's military defeats.[21] On 10 April 1941, the Ustaše-led Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) was proclaimed in Zagreb and divided into German and Italian zones of occupation.[22] The Italians divided those parts of the NDH that they occupied into three zones: Zone I was those parts of Dalmatia that were annexed by Italy and formed the Governorate of Dalmatia; Zone II was an area which was demilitarised in respect of NDH forces, but was under NDH civil administration; and Zone III was the remainder up to the demarcation line with the Germans. This arrangement was implemented following the signing of the Treaties of Rome on 18 May. Following the signing, the Italians withdrew the bulk of their forces from Zones II and III, and those that remained there were formally considered to be allied forces stationed on NDH territory by mutual agreement. Strmica and Knin were included in the NDH and fell within Zone II.[23][24]

Collaboration agreements with the ItaliansEdit

Map of the NDH showing the three Italian zones of occupation
  • dark grey for Zone I
  • mid-grey for Zone II
  • light grey for Zone III
The locations of Knin and Drvar are also marked.

Đujić's emergence as a Chetnik leader in the region around Knin was rapid.[15] Commencing in April, the Ustaše implemented a policy of widespread incarcerations, massacres, forced emigration, and murder of Serbs within the territory they controlled.[25] Around this time, Đujić's Chetniks began killing and mutilating Croat civilians.[26] According to Italian reports, Đujić had around 300 Chetniks under his command in April, centered mainly around Knin. The first Ustaše atrocity in the Knin area occurred on 29 May, when a group of Serbs were killed.[27] Around the same time, a group of Ustaše surrounded Strmica with the aim of capturing Đujić, but he was forewarned and escaped to Kistanje in Zone I where he sought Italian protection.[6][27] Between late May and 27 July, the Ustaše killed more than 500 Serbs in the Knin district. On 13 July, the Ustaše had ordered the arrest of all Serbian Orthodox priests in the district and the confiscation of their property, but Đujić was already beyond their reach.[27] While they generally stood by as the Ustaše committed atrocities, the Italians also opened up the border crossings into the Governorate of Dalmatia to Serbs fleeing the Ustaše. Refugees from Knin and nearby regions were taken into Italian-run camps located in Split, Obrovac, Benkovac, Kistanje and Šibenik.[28] Đujić was a principal organiser within the Kistanje camp, which held around 1,500 refugees, and from mid-July was recruiting them for the Chetnik cause.[29]

In August, once a general uprising against the Ustaše had begun, Đujić went to the centre of the revolt in Drvar with another Chetnik leader and sought approval from the leadership of the uprising to take leadership of the rebellion in the Knin region. Đujić then established his Chetniks around Knin and coordinated with Chetniks in the Bosansko Grahovo district.[29] Đujić's Chetniks successfully kept the Ustaše out of Knin and its surroundings, sparing the local Serb population from further massacres.[30] As summer approached, Đujić's Chetniks captured Drvar from the Ustaše.[6] By early summer, he and Chetnik commander Stevo Rađenović had contacted the Italians and asked them to put a halt to the Ustaše mistreatment of Serbs, enable the return of Serb refugees, and repeal a decree that enabled the confiscation of Serb-owned property in the NDH. The Italians obliged in the hope that doing so would win the Chetniks over to collaboration and seriously weaken any future uprising in the area, which would have further disrupted rail traffic along the SplitKarlovac railway line.[31] On 13 August, at a meeting in the village of Pađene northwest of Knin, Đujić and several other Serb nationalists agreed to collaborate with the Italians.[32] They secretly signed a pact of non-aggression with the Italian military, and in exchange, the Italians approved Đujić raising a force of up to 3,000 Chetniks.[15] On 31 August, at a Drvar assembly, Đujić was given the task of stopping the Italian advance on the town. Immediately afterwards, he made an agreement with the Italians granting them free passage.[32] Recruiting for Chetnik formations in the region was assisted by the so-called leftist errors of the Partisans, which drove undecided Serbs to join the Chetniks.[33]

Dinara DivisionEdit

Momčilo Đujić with an Italian officer

In early January 1942, the Dinara Division was formed after Đujić was contacted by Mihailović, via a courier. Under Mihailović's putative control, Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin played a central role in organising the units of Chetnik leaders in western Bosnia, Lika, and northern Dalmatia into the Dinara Division and dispatched former Royal Yugoslav Army officers to help. Đujić was designated the commander of the division with a goal of the "establishment of a Serb national state" in which "an exclusively Orthodox population is to live".[34] At the time of its formation, the division was no more than 1,500 strong.[35] The headquarters of the Dinara Division was located in Knin.[36]

In mid-April, Đujić fomented a pro-Chetnik coup in a Partisan unit in the Gračac district northwest of Knin, which was part of a pattern of subversive Chetnik activity in the Knin region at the time.[37] Around the same time Đujić's Chetniks were launching raids against villages held by the Partisans between Bosansko Grahovo and Drvar in conjunction with the Italians,[15][38] who considered him a filibuster.[30] He operated in northern Dalmatia under Trifunović-Birčanin who acted as liaison officer between the Chetniks and Italians,[39] and whose collaboration agreements were condoned by Mihailović.[38] By summer 1942, Đujić's Chetniks were effectively Italian auxiliaries, and the Italians began providing Chetnik detachments with arms, ammunition and supplies.[40] It is likely that the agreements between Đujić and the Italians were negotiated without Mihailović's prior knowledge. They were later denounced by Mihailović.[41]

In mid-May, Đujić was a member of a Chetnik delegation that approached the Ustaše civil administration in the Knin region, and discussed joint action against the increasing threat from the Partisans. They were given 100,000 kuna and arrangements were made for the Chetniks to co-locate units with NDH forces and to receive food from the Ustaše authorities. On 28 June, as a gathering in the village of Kosovo near Knin, Đujić urged his Chetniks to be loyal to the NDH.[42] In this way, Đujić and other Chetnik leaders established co-operation with the Ustaše, although these relationships were "based only on their common fear of the Partisans" and "characterised by distrust and uncertainty".[43] Đujić actively co-operated with Italian forces, with whom he had concluded a non-aggression pact. In late September, Đujić's Chetniks killed up to 200 Croats in the village of Gata near Split, outraging the Italians.[44] In October, Đujić told his men "we Chetniks have to be in good relations with the Croats for the time being in order to get a large number of arms and munitions, but when the time comes we will settle accounts with them".[45] In the same month, while Đujić and fellow Chetnik leader Uroš Drenović were hoping to join forces in western Bosnia, the Partisans were in the ascendancy.[46] In November, arrangements were made with the Italians for 3,000 Herzegovinian Chetniks to be transferred to the Knin region and Lika to prevent the destruction of the Dinara Division by the Partisans. This transfer was effected in mid-December.[47]

In early February 1943, Đujić and fellow Chetnik leader Petar Baćović tried to participate in the Axis Case White offensive against the Partisans but the Germans stopped them from getting involved.[48] On 10 February, Đujić, Ilija Mihić, Petar Baćović and Radovan Ivanišević, the Chetnik commanders of east Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and Lika, signed a joint proclamation declaring to the "people of Bosnia, Lika, and Dalmatia" that "since we have cleansed Serbia, Montenegro, and Herzegovina, we have come to help to crush the pitiful remnants of the Communist international, criminal band of Tito, Moša Pijade, Levi Vajnert and other paid Jews". The Partisan rank and file was called upon to "kill the political commissars and join our ranks right away," like the "hundreds and hundreds who are surrendering every day, conscious that they have been betrayed and swindled by the Communist Jews."[49] By 17 February, it was clear that the Chetniks in western Bosnia, including Đujić's Dinara Division, had failed to use Case White to recapture Drvar and unite the Chetnik forces in the Dinaric Alps and western Bosnia.[48]

Following the death of Trifunović-Birčanin in February 1943, Đujić, along with Dobroslav Jevđević, Baćović, and Ivanišević vowed to the Italians to carry on Trifunović-Birčanin's policies of closely collaborating with them against the Partisans.[39] By March, detachments of the Dinara Division were refusing to budge from the localities in which they had been recruited, would not carry out mobile operations, and according to the Italians, "were good for little else but plunder".[50] By April, difficulties had arisen between Mihailović's delegates and civilian Chetnik leaders like Đujić, to the extent that Mihailović's delegate told Đujić to avoid interaction with the Italians unless Mihailović had given prior approval.[51] Despite these orders, Mihailović's delegates never achieved control of all of the civilian Chetnik leaders like Đujić.[52]

In late May, Đujić and the other long-term civilian collaborationist Chetnik leaders in the region suffered a severe setback when the Italian leader Benito Mussolini acquiesced to German demands and ordered the commander of the Italian Second Army, Generale di Corpo d'Armata (Lieutenant General) Mario Robotti, to coordinate with the Germans in the disarming of Chetnik detachments.[53] Đujić prevailed upon Robotti to intercede with the Germans, and in June was granted a reprieve when the German Commander-in-Chief South-East Europe, Generaloberst Alexander Löhr, agreed that Đujić's Chetniks could be disarmed gradually, or in a few months time. At the same time as this was agreed, the Italian XVIII Army Corps were ordered to progressively reduce the supplies of food provided to the Dinara Division.[54]

Throughout the summer, Đujić's Chetniks fought the Partisans in western Bosnia, but by early August they had suffered severe reverses at the hands of the Partisans around Bosansko Grahovo and had to withdraw from that area.[54] Around the same time, one of Mihailović's delegates, Mladen Žujović, reported that the Dinara Division was "poorly formed, badly armed and disciplined", did not have "accurate registers of officers and troops", and could muster no more than 3,000 men. Žujović concluded his report by stating that the division was a "figment of the imagination".[55] Mihailović's delegate in western Bosnia, Đuro Plećaš, was killed in August after he clashed with Đujić.[56] Around the middle of the month, Đujić and a number of other Chetnik leaders approached the Italians and admitted that Mihailović had directed them to disarm Italian units in case of an Italian capitulation to the Allies. They promised that they would not carry out these orders.[57] By late August, German pressure, reduced Italian supplies and the fighting against the Partisans was resulting in increased defections to the Partisans and was also undermining Đujić's position as leader.[55] Around the same time, Đujić narrowly escaped arrest by the Italians, and thanks to an intervention by Robotti, also avoided arrest by the Germans.[58]

Despite these difficulties, Đujić's detachments in Dalmatia and western Bosnia were used by the Italians almost up to the point of their surrender.[59] Just prior to the Italian surrender, in an attempt to shore up Italian support, Đujić travelled to XVIII Army Corps headquarters in Knin to assure the Italians of his "sincere friendship and cooperation with the Italian people", but at this point the Italians were incapable of developing a coherent policy towards the Chetniks. By this time, Đujić's detachments had rapidly declined in military value and were of little use for offensive operations.[60]

Following the Italian capitulation on 8 September, the Germans moved quickly to secure the Adriatic coastline ahead of a feared Allied landing, and Đujić's detachments tried unsuccessfully to slow their deployment through sabotage. Late that month, Đujić fled to avoid arrest by the Germans.[61] In western Bosnia, many members of the Dinara Division had already transferred their allegiance to the Partisans or deserted. The remainder began collaborating with the Germans as early as October, although it they did not number more than a few thousand.[62] In mid-October, Đujić managed to persuade the Germans to withdraw their arrest order.[63] Nevertheless, the Germans were less supportive of his Chetniks than the Italians had been, did not trust them in large-scale actions, and restricted their activities to guarding railway tracks between Knin and the Adriatic coast from Partisan sabotage.[64][65]

The Germans required all members of the Dinara Division to produce their German-issued identification passes in order to receive arms and munitions, and eschewed a written agreement with Đujić. His new situation was in stark contrast to the advantageous position he had enjoyed when dealing with the Italians, and the activities of the Dinara Division were strictly controlled, including a prohibition against undertaking operations in areas populated by Croats. The Germans had intercepted his radio communications with Mihailović in September, rendering them ineffective.[65] On 19 or 20 November 1943, Mihailović ordered Đujić to collaborate with the Germans, adding that he himself was unable to openly do so "because of public opinion."[66] By the end of December, Đujić began to develop links with Ljotić's Zbor movement in German-occupied Serbia. Đujić also began to actively circumvent Mihailović's influence by sending him false information.[67] In February 1944, Đujić ordered his commanders to infiltrate the Partisans with the aim of engaging in sabotage and assassination.[68]

Đujić said of the Dinara Division that it was "under Draža's command, but we received news and supplies for our struggle from Ljotić and [leader of the puppet government in occupied Serbia, Milan] Nedić. ... Nedić's couriers reached me in Dinara and mine reached him in Belgrade. He sent me military uniforms for the guardists of the Dinara Chetnik Division; he sent me ten million dinars to obtain for the fighters whatever was needed and whatever could be obtained."[69]

Retreat and surrenderEdit

On 25 November 1944, the Yugoslav Partisans attacked the town of Knin, which was defended by 14,000 German troops, 4,500 of Đujić's Chetniks, and around 1,500 Ustaše. On 1 December, Đujić was wounded and sent an emissary to General Gustav Fehn of the German 264th Infantry Division in Knin with the following message:[64]

The Chetnik Command with all of its armed forces has collaborated sincerely and loyally with the German Army in these areas from September last year. Our common interest demanded this. This collaboration has continued to the present day. ... The Chetnik Command wishes to share the destiny of the German Army in the future, too. ... The Command requests that [the village of] Pađene be the base for supplying our units, until a further common agreement is reached.

On 3 December 1944, Đujić's force of between 6,000 and 7,000 withdrew to Bihać with help from the Wehrmacht 373rd Infantry Division. The Chetniks received ammunition and food from the Germans and began a joint German-Chetnik offensive against the Partisans. Fehn organised the transportation of Đujić's wounded Chetniks through Zagreb to the Third Reich. Đujić requested a written guarantee from Ante Pavelić, leader of the NDH, to afford him and his forces refuge in German-occupied Slovenia. In addition, Ljotić and Nedić petitioned to Nazi party official Hermann Neubacher in Vienna that Đujić's forces should be allowed passage, as did Slovene collaborationist General Leon Rupnik.[64][70]

On 21 December 1944, Pavelić ordered the military forces of the NDH to give Đujić and his forces "orderly and unimpeded passage".[71] However, Đujić and his 6,000-odd typhus-ridden Chetniks took an alternate route towards the Istrian peninsula, as the routes offered by Pavelić were not secure from Partisan attacks. Along the way, hundreds were lost to Ustaše attacks. When Đujić and his troops reached Slovenia in late December, his forces joined Jevđević's Chetniks, Ljotić's Serbian Volunteer Corps, and Nedić's Serbian Shock Corps, forming a single unit that was under the command of Odilo Globocnik, the Higher SS and Police Leader in the Adriatic Littoral.[64][70] In January Đujić's men were disarmed by the Germans. Together, the various collaborationist forces tried to contact the western Allies in Italy in an attempt to secure foreign aid for a proposed anti-Communist offensive to restore royalist Yugoslavia.[72] Mihailović did not oppose this plan openly and even sent warm letters to Đujić during this period.[73] In May 1945, Đujić surrendered his troops to Allied forces and they were then taken to southern Italy, from there to displaced persons camps in Germany and then dispersed.[6]

Life in exileEdit

In 1947, Đujić was tried and convicted of war crimes in absentia by Yugoslavia's communist government. He was found guilty of mass murder, torture, rape, robbery, and forcible confinement, as well as collaborating with the German and Italians.[74] He was accused of being responsible for the deaths of 1,500 people over the course of the war.[6] Between 1947 and 1949, Đujić lived in Paris, before emigrating to the United States.[6] Many of his former Chetniks followed him.[75] Following his arrival in the United States, Đujić and his fighters played a role in the foundation of the Ravna Gora Movement of Serbian Chetniks.[75] Later, he enraged some in the Serbian diaspora when he endorsed a communist-appointed Patriarch as the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, he remained strongly opposed to Yugoslavia's communist government. Đujić retired to San Marcos, California.[6] In 1988, the Yugoslav authorities unsuccessfully sought Đujić's extradition from the United States.[76] By this time, Đujić was the oldest surviving leader of the wartime Chetniks.[77]

Đujić delivering a speech in Canada, 1991

On 28 June 1989, the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, Đujić granted the title of vojvoda to Vojislav Šešelj.[78] He further ordered him "to expel all Croats, Albanians, and other foreign elements from holy Serbian soil", stating he would return only when Serbia was cleansed of "the last Jew, Albanian, and Croat".[79] Šešelj was at the time an anti-communist dissident. The writer and political analyst Paul Hockenos subsequently described Šešelj's activities in the Yugoslav Wars as "a man whose killer commando units operating in Croatia and Bosnia carried on the very worst of the Chetnik tradition."[75] Šešelj later became the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, a government coalition partner of Serbian President Slobodan Milosević. In 1993, Đujić remarked: "[I condemn] Vojislav Šešelj who, by openly siding with the Socialist Party of Serbia, who are Communists who have only changed their name, has sullied the name of Chetnikdom and Serbian nationalism."[77] In 1998, Đujić publicly stated that he regretted awarding the title to Šešelj. "I was naïve when I nominated Šešelj [as] Vojvoda; I ask my people to forgive me," Đujić remarked. "The greatest gravedigger of Serbdom is Slobodan Milošević."[6]

According to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) testimony of Croatian Serb leader Milan Babić, Đujić financially supported the Republic of Serbian Krajina in the 1990s.[80] Đujić's wife died in 1995.[6] In 1998, Biljana Plavšić, then President of the Republika Srpska, presented an honorary award to Đujić.[81] Plavšić was later indicted by the ICTY and convicted of crimes against humanity.[82]

Death and legacyEdit

Đujić died on 11 September 1999 at a hospice in San Diego, California at the age of 92.[6] A New York Times obituary following his death, written by the journalist David Binder, wrote that Đujić participated in "epic World War II battles" and carried out many "acts of wartime bravery."[83] Editorial writer for the Washington Post, Benjamin Wittes, observed that the obituary only mentioned "in passing" the war crimes and collaboration accusations against Đujić, as well as his influence in the Yugoslav Wars.[83] The historian Marko Attila Hoare stated that Binder was known for his "admiration of Serb Nazi-collaborator Momčilo Đujić."[84]

A commemoration marking six months since Đujić's death, organised by the "Vojvoda Momčilo Đujić Dinara Chetnik Movement", was celebrated at St. Mark's Church in Belgrade in March 2000.[85] The Serbian diaspora in the United States set up a monument dedicated to Đujić at the Serbian cemetery in Libertyville, Illinois. The management and players of the football club Red Star Belgrade visited the monument on 23 May 2010.[86] The Serbian basketball player Darko Miličić has a tattoo of Đujić on his body.[87]


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  3. ^ a b c Popović, Lolić & Latas 1988, p. 10.
  4. ^ IZUM 2020.
  5. ^ Popović, Lolić & Latas 1988, pp. 10–11.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Binder 13 September 1999.
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  78. ^ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia 7 December 2007.
  79. ^ Velikonja 2003, p. 246.
  80. ^ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia 4 December 2002.
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  86. ^ Gudžević 18 June 2010.
  87. ^ Rudic, Lakic & Milekic 9 March 2018.