Here are some quotes from the testimonies of:
Q. You had your own radio station?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Shortly before September 10th was your radio station attacked by anybody?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. By whom?
A. My radio station was attacked by the Partisans, a trio.
Q. You mean three Partisans?
A. Yes, three Partisans who ventured into General Mihailovich’s area. They had gotten information that a radio station was in that general vicinity, and Americans operating it evidently and they attacked it.
Q. Did they wreck it?
A. No, they did not wreck my radio or damage it, but I did see bullet marks and scars on the fence that went around my place.
Q. How do you know they were Partisans?
A. Because later that evening that same trio hit the town of Pranjani and attacked the town commandant. That was while I was sleeping in the town, by the way.
Q. Do you mean the commandant was a Chetnik?
A. Yes, I got up quickly and rushed into the street, wanting to find out what was going on, but they had left. This home was damaged, doors were knocked out, windows smashed, and the town commandant had escaped. His name was Markovich. There is no doubt in my mind that it was Partisans. The people also told me that it was Partisans. They were very much frightened.
Q. And none were captured?
A. That is right, none were captured, although they captured my guard, one of my guards.
Q. You mean the Partisans captured one of our guards?
Q. Were there any Germans in that vicinity?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you send in an official report of the incident?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you based that on what you heard?
A. Yes, sir. I explained it. By the way, my guard was returned, and he told me that they were Partisans, that they were wearing the red star on their caps.
Q. Do you know why your guard was returned?
A. He told me that they were going to kill him, but he was returned. They wanted information from him, and he gave them some, but there was not anything relating to Americans. He was returned two days later.
Q. Returned or escaped?
A. He told me he escaped. He fled from the home where they had him tied up.
BY MR. CHANDLER: Q. You left Pranjani about when?
CAPTAIN NICK A. LALICH: A: The night of September 10th, exactly at eight o’clock.
Q. Under what circumstances did you leave?
A. Well, at that time, I would say three or four days earlier, there was much shooting in the general vicinity, we could hear machine guns and mortars, and things were getting pretty hot. The Partisan army had penetrated in force across the Drina River and on into Maljen Mountains. And at the same time the Russians had reached the Danube River. So we started to move north, and our ultimate destination, according to General Mihailovich, was to penetrate north and over into eastern Bosnia, to the high mountain area, for a winter retreat.
Q. Am I right in saying that you left the Pranjani area because the Partisans attacked it?
Q. And where did you go from there?
A. I moved north across the Valjevo-Belgrade railway. We crossed that railway at night three days later.
Q. Did you move because the Partisans were attacking the headquarters or because there was fear of an attack?
A. They were attacking the headquarters, I know that definitely.
Q. Did you have any discussions at that time with General Mihailovich about the state of the war or his strategic plans?
A. Yes, sir, many discussions. We talked about the war and America, and the future of Yugoslavia, and in fact we even talked about Paris, France, New York, different places of interest.
Q. What did General Mihailovich have to say about his plans for the war?
A. Well, he realized that he had two enemies; he had the Germans and the Partisans to fight. In fact he told me he had no more aid but God, but he would get along somehow.
Q. He said he would go on fighting the Germans?
A. Yes, sir, he did. In fact I asked him, “Why don’t you come out with me when I am ready to go home?” He said, “No, I have fought for four years and I will stay with my people and fight to the end.”
BY MR. HAYS: Did he [General Mihailovich] say why the Partisans were his enemies?
CAPTAIN LALICH: Yes, sir.
Q. What did he say about that?
A. He said that they had different ideals, that their ideals were communistic and his were democratic, he had democratic processes, and he believed in the things we believed in; and in fact he compared America with his way of life.
Q. Did he talk of any attempts to collaborate with the Partisans, unitedly, so that they would both fight the Germans.
A. He said they tried to get together, and in fact all parties were invited to fight the enemy, that is the Germans, and they had these meetings and the plans were laid to attack different areas and towns; one in particular was Valjevo. And in attacking Valjevo they were supposed to hit together, but the Chetniks hit, and the Partisans hit them from the rear. This was all according to General Mihailovich. That was one reason.
And they had another outbreak of a similar nature in the Visegrad area. In fact at one time they rode the same tanks into the village of Cacak with red stars and the double eagle painted on these tanks. So it seemed they could not get together, and the break came and they separated.
Q. Did you get any idea of how much of his time was spent fighting the Germans and how much of his time was spent fighting the Partisans?
A. Yes, sir, they fought the Germans when I was in the Sarajevo area. It seemed to me that they would hit the Germans especially when they knew ammunition and guns were being carried, and vital supplies. I happened to be there when they attacked near Visegrad, a road running between Visegrad and Sarajevo, a German column moving in there, and they attacked and came out with two truckloads of ammunition and guns. This ammunition was brought up into my area.
Q. Were you there when any action took place against the Partisans?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When was that?
A. In fact, I witnessed a battle. I did not see the fight man-to-man, but I witnessed a battle in the area of Tuzla at the town of Puracic.
Q. You saw that battle through your field glasses?
A. Yes, sir, I witnessed that from the distance of about two or two-and-a-half kilometers. We were up on a mountain top with seven airmen who were with me, my radio operator and one guide and myself. Two Moslems arrived wearing the typical Moslem dress; I questioned them and they said the Chetniks were battling the Partisans down in the valley, and I could see the smoke if the mortars.
We moved along, coming to the area of Boljanic. We also witnessed prisoners from that battle, 37 to be exact.
Q. 37 Partisans?
A. 37 Partisan prisoners. They arrived barefooted, very poorly clothed, and they were wearing the red star.
Q. Did you personally question them?
Q. What did they tell you?
A. I asked them what was their reason for fighting the Chetniks, and they told me that they were forced to fight. Well, I asked them what they meant. They said, well, they have to come into our homes, and at the point of*gun we went to battle. 32 of these men were Moslems and 5 of them were Serbians. I took pictures of them. I do not have them with me.
BY MR. CHANDLER: During your period in Yugoslavia I think you told us at the beginning you were on the lookout for any evidence of collaboration, because you had been told to be on the lookout?
A. That is right.
Q. That rumors of collaboration had come back to Cairo?
A. That is right, sir, and back to Bari, too.
Q. You carried out that mission, and your eyes were open for that sort of thing?
A. Yes, sir. I was able to speak the language and I could understand the language; and living in Mihailovich’s house, right in his headquarters, from November 1st to December 11th, when I left General Mihailovich in the Sarajevo district, I had an opportunity to listen and talk, and during all that time I did not see any signs of collaboration or any talking of collaboration, and I was listening for it and trying to detect anything of that nature I could. It interested me very much. I was the last one there after Colonel McDowell left, and I had the opportunity of reading many, many messages coming out of Yugoslavia as the assistant operations officer at Bari, Italy.
Q. Did you file reports that you found no evidence of collaboration?
A. Yes, sir, I filed reports with the State Department and with the OSS.
Q. I think in the last few questions and answers you said that during the period you lived with General Mihailovich, November and December, you saw no signs of collaboration of any kind?
A. That is right, sir.
Q. Is the same thing true as to the rest of the period that you were in Yugoslavia?
A. Yes, positively.
Q. You would say that from this period of August to December, 1944, if there had been any collaboration, in view of the freedom which was allowed you, you would have been bound to know about it?
Q. What was the purpose of this trip, this 500-mile trip that you have been talking about?
A. The Partisans were trying to capture General Mihailovich and trying to get the American mission out of Yugoslavia.
Q. And did all of them make this 500-mile trip, all the Chetniks.
A. So many troops would go forward with us maybe for a month, and then we would pick up other troops in eastern Bosnia; because they had large concentrations of troops in different areas.
Before I went to Yugoslavia, after reading all of the reports and having access to all the information from Yugoslavia, I always believed that eastern Bosnia—in fact when you mentioned the word Bosnia to me, I always felt that that was a Partisan stronghold; but that was not true. When I entered eastern Bosnia there were thousands of troops waiting for General Mihailovich.
Q. So this trip that you are talking about was largely an attempt to get away from Partisan threats?
A. Yes, sir.
^ Captain Nick A. Lalich and General Draza Mihailovich sharing a light moment in September of 1944.
Q. Tell us in your own words what happened to you when you finally landed in Yugoslavia.
A. Well, we bailed out at 16,000 feet, and I delayed my jump for fear that the fighter planes might attack us. And when I hit the ground there were about 15 or 20 Chetniks waiting for me. They had seen my parachute open and were waiting on the ground to pick me up. In the distance I heard a few shots, and we started to run for cover. They told me that a few Germans had followed our descent down and were trying to get us. So we took cover in the hills. And then I was taken to Colonel Dragisa Vasic’s headquarters.
Q. Who was Colonel Vasic?
A. Colonel Vasic was a well-known writer and lawyer in Belgrade.
Q. Was he a member of Mihailovich’s Army?
Q. Yes, he was. I believe he was the corps commander in the Chetnik area that I dropped in. [Editor’s note: D. Vasic was a reserve officer and political adviser to Mihailovich, not a corps commander.]
Q. Tell us what happened there.
A. Well, he greeted me very warmly; we sat down and had a drink, slivovitz.
Q. What happened to you that first night in Yugoslavia, do you remember?
A. The first night I was there I was taken to a farmhouse and given a large bed all to myself, and I was assured by the interpreter, who was a Chetnik, that I could sleep soundly and that there was no fear of Germans, that I should not fear the Germans because they posted a 10-man guard outside of my house. And they told me that should the occasion arise where the Germans would be in the vicinity they would awaken me immediately.
Q. That 10-man guard consisted of Chetnik soldiers, did it not?
A. Yes, sir. I awoke the next morning and looked outside my door, and these 10 men were huddled together outside in the pouring rain. And I asked them how come that they had not come inside the hut for shelter, and they told me that they were afraid that they might awaken me if they did come in, and that according to Mihailovich’s orders they were never supposed to leave any Americans unprotected.
Q. Did you see any evidence of collaboration between the German occupation troops and the Chetniks during the whole period you were in Yugoslavia?
A. During my entire stay in Yugoslavia I never at any time did see any signs of collaboration.
Q. Tell us in your own words what General Mihailovich said and what happened when he was at that place.
A. Well, at first he came up on the field with his staff and he stood in the center of the field and he shook hands with each and every one of the 200 Americans. And if one of the boys happened to speak French he carried on a lengthy conversation with that individual, because he spoke fluent French, but no English. And he signed our short-snorters; and we asked him to pose for photographs, and he posed for photographs with almost every one of the boys there.
After this more or less individual reception that he granted each and every one of us he put on a display of strength more or less of all his troops, and I would say there were about 400 soldiers participating in this review and about a thousand soldiers watching the review.
Q. Did General Mihailovich himself say anything to you to the other American airmen there assembled?
A. After this particular review we all adjourned to the side of the airfield, and we all sat underneath a large shady tree, and Mihailovich sat at the center of the group, and all the American airmen assembled around Mihailovich. And a few feet away from Mihailovich stood the interpreter, and Mihailovich spoke to the interpreter, and he translated to us. First, Mihailovich started off by welcoming us to Yugoslavia. And then he apologized for the poor conditions with which he welcomed us and the inconvenience we had to endure while there. After which he gave us a brief history of Yugoslavia, starting with the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany, and the way he took his staff and fled to the hills to carry on his fight for freedom, and “never to surrender” in his words. And the way they carried on sabotage activities against the Germans.
Well, he mentioned the fact that the only thing that kept him from waging a large scale attack against he Germans is the fact that his equipment is very poor and that he has not been given any equipment, and if he did have the proper equipment he would be able to carry on much stronger attacks against the Germans.
Then he started to praise the American government, and he said he had always believed in democracy and he always looked highly at the American government.
And in closing he told us that he will try his utmost to get us back to our bases as soon as possible to resume our fight against the enemy.
He said, “After the war you can all go back to your great land, our great country,” and he said, “The Serbian people and myself have considered it a great honor to be of assistance to you.”
Lt. John Devlin
Q. How many Partisans were there in the band that picked you up?
A. I would say about 25.
Q. And you had just one Chetnik guide?
A. Yes, we had just one Chetnik guide.
Q. Who was taken into custody and you never saw him again?
A. No, we never saw him again.
Q. What did they do to you or to your party?
A. They immediately took us under escort; we had lost our interpreter; I could speak a little Serbian.
Q. And who was your interpreter?
A. Bobby Musulin.
Q. What became of him?
A. He refused to go on this journey with us, he wanted to stay with the Chetniks.
Q. So he had not been with you?
A. He had not been with us from the time we left Nevesinje.
Q. Go ahead.
A. We attempted to ask where we were going, and they said we were going to headquarters. They took us to headquarters and we met a major general there—we met so many darn generals there, they had quite a few in their army.
Q. How far away was headquarters?
A. This was 3 o’clock, and we arrived there about 9; it was about a 6 hour march. There they had a Yugoslav who could speak English, and he questioned us to a great extent on Chetnik activities. Of course they realized that we had been with the Chetniks. He questioned us to great length about Chetnik activities, and none of us would reveal anything. Then we were housed, we were told to shave—several of us had beards, which was the custom in Serbia—and we were told to immediately shave. And I refused to shave because I wanted to bring my beard back to Italy and get a few pictures taken. I was told in very strong language that I had better shave. So, not to antagonize anybody, I and the other members of the crew shaved. We were housed with the soldiers; in fact during our stay of 2 weeks with the Partisans we were always housed with the military.
Q. Did you ever go out somewhere else?
A. That was impossible.
Q. How do you mean it was impossible?
A. We were not allowed. If we stopped to have food the peasants were told to get out, and they brought food in to us, and then if we moved our quarters anywhere for the night the peasants were told to get out of the house. We were never separated.
Q. You were never allowed to talk to any people freely?
A. No; I was sorry about that, that I never had the opportunity to talk to the people.[/i]
[i]Q. Did you see any of these Chetniks leave that town to go on any mission?
A. Yes, several times that is where they would start from, they would gather at Pranjani and we would see them prepare to leave, and they would march off singing; they had a favorite song “Spremte se Spremte Chetnici.”
Q. Do you have any information of what the purpose of the mission was?
A. To aid other areas, other corps areas, who were being attacked either by the Germans or the Partisans. I must be honest, I take it sometimes by the Germans and sometimes by the Partisans.
Q. Did any of these men come back to the place so you had an opportunity to hear their story?
A. Yes, they lived in the vicinity, some of them.
Q. Some of them?
Q. Did any of them tell you whether they were off on activities either against the Partisans or the Germans?
A. Yes, some of them boasted of activities on both sides. They boasted of derailing a train and of robbing a train, and they also boasted of clashes they had had with the Partisans, but they were fighting with both elements.
Q. When you speak of robbing a train you are referring to Germans?
Q. Do you know of any instances where the Partisans attacked the Chetniks?
A. That seemed to be a constant thing. The Chetniks had to remain on the defense because of lack of equipment
A. It happened that on November 26th—it was Thanksgiving Day if I recall—and Mihailovich in respect to this great American holiday was going to put on a display of his strength. This display was to take place in all the areas that were under his control. And large bonfires were to be built on the mountain-top, and he had sent a telegram to Cairo prior to Thanksgiving asking American planes to come over the area and see for themselves the extent of the territory that was under his control. We sent to the little town of Konjusa [pronounced Kohn-yushah], which happened to be Colonel Seitz’s headquarters at that time. We had a very good turkey dinner; I do not know where they got the turkey, but we had two turkeys for the occasion. And we were very enthusiastically received, and we had to speak before the different members of Mihailovich’s staff, the local staff, and we came in contact with the people, who asked hundreds of questions, most of them pertaining to the war and America’s part in it, etc.; I mean generally speaking about the war conditions in Europe at that time.
During this inspection tour we had seen many thousands of Chetnik troops, most of them were ill clad, many of them were barefooted, they had primitive arms, they did not have any ammunition to speak of, they were suffering from diseases due to malnutrition, it was easy to see a lot of skin diseases because of unhygienic conditions that they were living under; and it was a very poor, poor-looking army; but they were strong in morale and weak in material.
Q. Did you have occasion to observe just how the Chetnik Army was organized?
A. Yes, it seems to me that the Chetnik army was composed of two groups; they had any active standing army which was composed of about sixty to seventy thousand members constantly under arms that could be called upon in case of an emergency in any part of Yugoslavia. The other part of Mihailovich’s army was a territorial army composed of peasants who lived on little farms, who worked their little farms, and were a potential strength in Mihailovich’s army. I would say this potential would be anywhere from two hundred to three hundred thousand men. Mihailovich only kept enough men under arms to take care of an immediate emergency, and he allowed these territorials to go back and work their farms until the army would be able to have proper food or what food could be developed in the areas which they occupied; and in case of a total mobilization this territorial army would become a regular active army. There were no arms to speak of amongst this territorial army, there would be one rifle to ten men, or maybe less than that.
Q. During the course of this tour of inspection did you see any collaboration between the Germans and the Chetniks?
A. None whatsoever.
Q. And were you looking for such acts of collaboration?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. If there had been any in the area in which you were observing would you have seen it?
A. Yes, I believe I would have. I would like to enlarge upon that. We were instructed to see if there was any new material coming into the corps which we inspected. I mean in the way of arms and ammunition and medical supplies. That was one of the reasons for our tour, to find out if there were any German shipments of ammunition and medical supplies, and we failed to see any.
Q. You were looking for them?
A. Yes, sir, I was looking for them.
Q. And if they had been there you would have seen them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was the purpose of the conference?
A. The purpose of the conference at that time was to ask General Mihailovich for help, material help, to destroy an antimony mine that was producing 75 to 100 tons of antimony-blend for the German war effort.
Q. What is antimony, do you know?
A. Antimony is a metal that is used in tempering steel for shells, bombs, etc.
Q. Where was this mine located?
A. This mine was located in Lisa, in the county of Dragacevo, which happened to be in my area of operation.
Q. Can you tell the Commission in a bit more detail what specific plans were discussed between you and General Mihailovich with relation to the destruction of that mine? And tell us first what you mean by destruction of the mine.
A. We were interested in putting the mine out of commission. You could not destroy the mine, it was almost impossible; what we wanted to do was to destroy the compressors, the smelt[er]s and the electrical equipment which helped to operate this mine and produce this antimony. Mihailovich told me that he would give me his fullest cooperation; and he also instructed me to contact a Captain Vuckovic, who would give me the necessary men to do the job. But before we could get into the antimony mine we had to destroy the garrison that was entrenched there.
Q. Was that a German garrison?
A. Yes, sir, a German garrison.
Q. Of how many men, do you know?
A. Our intelligence reports claimed that there were about 200 men in that area.
Q. Do you know what personnel was operating the mine?
A. Native personnel was operating the mine under more or less instructions by the Germans, the German military command.
Q. When Mihailovich told you that he would give you the necessary men and personnel to carry out this operation, what did he mean? Did he tell you that he would give you Chetnik military personnel?
A. He told me that he would give me all the soldiers in his forces that were necessary to knock that mine out of commission.
Q. How many soldiers did you estimate were necessary?
A. I felt with the arms that we had and the arms that we probably could get through Allied sources we would need about 100 well-equipped Chetniks to do the job.
Q. And General Mihailovich assured you of that number of men?
A. He assured me of any number that I would desire.
Q. You proceeded on the assumption that one Chetnik could take care of two Germans entrenched?
A. Well, I felt that if we had mortars and bazookas we could reduce the garrison with 100 men who were excellent guerrilla fighters.
Q. The Germans I suppose did not have any heavy guns or ammunition?
A. I do not think so; they had machine guns and rifles, and they depended more on the stronger garrisons in the vicinity like Belgrade and Cacak [pronounced Chaa-Chaak] that could reinforce that garrison if necessary.
Q. And the bulk of Mihailovich’s forces were where?
A. His strength seemed to be in Serbia, eastern Bosnia, with elements in Hercegovina, Dalmatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro; but his strength was in Serbia, his main strength, the disposition of his troops.
Q. Did you ever talk with General Mihailovich about the destruction of other targets?
A. Yes, I talked to General Mihailovich about all the targets in the area in which I was operating as liaison officer that could be used for eventual sabotage.
Q. What sort of targets to do you refer to?
A. I refer to targets such as railroads, bridges, roads, garrisons, ammunition dumps, and airfields and other targets of military nature.
Q. What did those security measures consist of?
A. Those security measures consisted of 30 or 40 armed men.
Q. Chetnik soldiers?
A. Yes, Chetnik soldiers. We would pack the supplies up in the mountains that were not very easily accessible, and to transport these airmen to areas of safety in case there was any danger in that area. They lived off the land, and the people gave up their beds, they gave us the food they had, which was not very much, corn bread and cheese and some potatoes and things like that, but it was the best they had.
Q. Did soldiers or officers acting under the direct orders from General Mihailovich keep a constant surveillance over these American and Allied airmen who were awaiting evacuation?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And was it the purpose of that to keep them out of the hands of the Germans?
A. That is right.
Q. To your knowledge did that surveillance ever fail?
A. It never failed, because we had never lost a man to the Germans at that time.
Q. Did General Mihailovich receive any compensation in any form, shape or manner for this work?
A. He did not receive anything in return for this work, and we told him that he could not expect to receive anything for that work.
He felt that he was an Ally, and that his contribution was saving these airmen to go back to their bases and go out and fight the enemy again.
Q. You mean he conveyed that to you, when you say he felt that?
A. He felt that he was doing one of his duties when he sent these airmen back to Italy
Q. Now, Captain, in the spring of 1944 did the Partisans attack the Chetniks within your territory?
A. In the spring of 1944 they made determined efforts to get into Serbia. These attempts came from the area of Guca [pronounced Goo-Cha] and Ivanjica [pronounced Eva-nee-tsa].
Q. Tell us what you observed, if anything, in connection with the Partisan offensive.
A. Well, during this period I got malaria and I was not very active for about a month, but I was getting intelligence reports from Mihailovich’s corps commanders which I was sending to the headquarters about this fight. I did not witness the fighting myself.
Q. As the result of the reports which came to you in your official capacity as American liaison officer in that area what observations did you make?
A. The observation that I made, which I thought was a very significant one, was that during these operations we would plot the activities of the Partisan troops on the map, and we found that they had been avoiding German garrisons in order to get at the Chetniks.
Q. You stated that when you were over there one of your duties was to find out if there was any collaboration. Did you other than by mere observation make a special effort to inquire into that?
A. Yes, I did. I made special attempts to find out in what form this collaboration was taking place.
Q. And what method did you pursue to find that out, merely talking to Mihailovich and officers, or did you do anything else?
A. I talked to the peasantry that I met and I have talked to officers. And I did know that there was some setup, that was told to me, there was some setup of obtaining ammunition and arms, whatever method they could get.
Q. I would like to know what you did find along that line. To whom did you talk about possible collaboration? Who said anything about it? What was the explanation of it, and things of that sort?
A. Well, I talked directly to General Mihailovich about these accusations directed against him.
Q. And what did he say?
A. He said only a fool could believe those accusations. He said, “After the death of one hundred thousand Serbs during the reprisal measures of 1941, 1942 and 1943 how could I ever do any work among the Germans and still remain a loyal subject of my people?”
Q. What did he say about Tito and his relations with Tito and the fighting with Tito?
A. The fighting against Tito was very bitter, there had been a pool of blood between the two groups. I asked Mihailovich what he thought could be done to avoid this clash between his troops and Partisan troops.
Q. Did he say anything about how the differences between himself and Tito occurred, as to who started the fighting?
A. Well, he accused Tito of attacking him during the early days of 1941 while they had been collaborating together against the activities of the Germans. But Mihailovich proposed to me, seeing that this civil war was just helping the Germans—he proposed to me a plan, and the plan was supposed to have been this, that the British, the Russians and the Americans should send a commission to his headquarters, and that a commission composed of the same elements be sent into Tito’s headquarters, and this commission with his help could set up zones of operation where they would receive material help and aid from the Allies to use it in the common effort against the Germans. In this way he felt that this commission would prevent a clash between the Chetniks and the Partisans.
Q. Now the Chetniks and the Partisans in general in most instances were in different parts of Yugoslavia, were they not?
A. That is right.
Q. And what was the occasion, if you knew, that would bring them into a clash?
A. Well, it seemed that during this period of time that I had spent in Yugoslavia, it seems that the Partisans wanted to take over the territory that was under the control of General Mihailovich and his officers.