November 29, This day during the World War ll

November 29, 1941 – Operation Uzice in Yugoslavian historiography, was the first major counter-insurgency operation by the Germans on the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II. Serb collaborationist forces of the German-installed puppet regime of Milan Nedić also participated in the offensive, which was directed against the Užice Republic, the first of several “free territories” liberated by the Partisans. After the offensive commenced on 20 September 1941, the Partisans initially received assistance from local Chetnik formations in opposing the Germans, but after weeks of disagreement and low-level conflict between the two insurgent factions about how the resistance should proceed, the Chetniks launched an attack on the Partisans in the towns of Užice and Požega on November 1 which resulted in the Chetniks being repulsed. The Partisans then counter-attacked decisively, but by early December had been driven from liberated area by the German and Serb collaborationist offensive. To clear this territory, the German Army employed its 113th Infantry Division and 342nd Infantry Division, and parts of 704, 714, 717 and 718 Infantry Divisions. They were assisted by Dimitrije Ljotić’s Serbian Volunteer Corps and Kosta Pećanac’s personal Chetnik faction. As German forces entered the territory they faced significant resistance, especially on Rudnik Mountain and in Kraljevo. As retribution for a lost man, Germans executed 7,000 people in Kragujevac between September 21 and September 23. On September 29, the offensive officially started when the 342nd Infantry Division attacked Partisans on the road between Šabac and Loznica. Concurrently, an offensive known as Operation Višegrad was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina, then annexed as part of the Independent State of Croatia, as the Army of the Independent State of Croatia set to destroy the Partisan and Chetnik holdouts in and around Rogatica and Višegrad. Attacks by NDH troops went on for several weeks, without any side making substantial gains. By the beginning of October, several small towns in Serbia were in the hands of Partisan or Chetnik groups. While distrustful of each other, Partisans and Chetniks started taking joint actions and besieging larger towns. Their respective commands were set in Užice and Požega, 15 km apart. During October, all hopes of a continued cooperation were drained away in sporadic bickering and outright violations of agreements. During these weeks it also became obvious that, while the Partisan command had no doubts about continuing the struggle, the Chetniks were wavering and looking for a way of giving up the fight against the Germans and directing all their power against the Partisans. A process of polarization took place, taking several weeks and producing shifts in loyalties. The Chetnik detachments of Rev. Vlada Zećević and Lieutenant Ratko Martinović switched to the Partisans during this time. Tito and Mihailović met again on October 26 or 27, 1941 in the town of Brajići near Ravna Gora in a final attempt to achieve an understanding, but found consensus only on secondary issues. Mihailović rejected principal points of Tito’s proposal including the establishment of common headquarters, joint military actions against the Germans and quisling formations, establishment of a combined staff for the supply of troops, and the formation of national liberation committees. Mihailović did not arrive at the meeting in good faith. The Chetnik command had already dispatched to Belgrade Colonel Branislav Pantić and Captain Nenad Mitrović, two of Mihailović’s aides, where they contacted German intelligence officer Captain Josef Matl on October 28. They informed the Abwehr that they have been empowered by Colonel Mihailović to establish contact with Prime Minister Milan Nedić and the appropriate Wehrmacht command posts to inform them that the Colonel was willing to “place himself and his men at their disposal for fighting communism”. The two representatives further gave the Germans their commander’s guarantee for the “definitive clearing of communist bands in Serbian territory” and requested aid from the occupation forces in the form of “about 5,000 rifles, 350 machine guns, and 20 heavy machine guns”. After more than a month of disagreements and minor collisions, the events culminated on November 1 in a massed Chetnik attack in and around the town of Užice where the Partisans had their headquarters. Apparently underestimating the Partisans’ numbers, the Chetnik forces were quickly beaten back. Captain Duane Hudson, British liaison officer in Yugoslavia, then advised the Allied command in Cairo to stop supplying the Chetniks so the British arms would not be used for civil warfare. The Chetniks, who had already received one shipment of weapons sent by parachute, then waited in vain for a second one, even though the British later resumed helping them. Both Tito and Mihailović, however, were still willing to reach a truce, although both were pressed by some of their officers to attack the other as soon as possible; ceasefires alternated with ultimatums, as bloody reprisals between the two resistance movements affected both sides’ morals and alienated civilians. At one point, Mihailović’s forces, after mounting a surprise attack on the Partisans, found themselves surrounded. The Partisans allowed them to go free, which political observers have attributed to military foresight, as the Chetniks would continue to attack German forces.

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