The aftershocks of World War II continue to make headlines. Seven decades after the fact, the president of the Czech Republic considers it an "act of bravery" to mention on Russian radio the role played by the Gen. Vlasov's WWII-era Russian defector army, still considered traitors in Putin's Russia, in liberating Prague 70 years ago this month. No mention, however, that days later, the US turned the Vlasov Movement over to Stalin to certain death or the Gulag in the shameful Allied crime of forced repatriation known as Operation Keelhaul.
Now, the AP reports on more reverberations:
BELGRADE, Serbia -- A Belgrade court on Thursday quashed the treason conviction of Gen. Draza Mihailovic for his collaboration with Nazis during World War II, politically rehabilitating the controversial Serbian guerrilla commander almost 70 years after he was sentenced and shot to death by communists.
As noted in American Betrayal (also Stalin's Secret Agents), Draza Mihailovic, the anti-Nazi and anti-Communist wartime leader of the Chetniks in Yugoslavia, was a victim of a picture-perfect, Soviet-directed influence operation executed by covert Soviet agents embedded in both the British and American government bureacracies.
How did it work? Disinformation, impure and very simple.
From inside British and US war councils, Mihailovic was smeared as pro-Nazi and feckless, a lout in comparison to the fabulous and Communist leader Tito. This same template, not incidentally, would be successfully followed by Stalin's agents of influence to undermine Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang kai-Shek and promote the Communist leader Mao.
From inside British intelligence, KGB agent James Kluggman in Cairo pushed the anti-Mihailovic, pro-Tito line; from inside (and outside) the US Office of War Information, pro-Communist Yugoslav guru Louis Adamic did the same. From inside the OSS, KGB contact Linn Farish provided gushing reports about Tito's Washington- and Jefferson-like qualities. The success of the anti-Mihailovic disinformation campaign was so sweeping that not only did Churchill and Roosevelt cut Mihailovic off in favor of Tito's Communists, but Roosevelt, in his first meeting ever with Stalin at the Tehran Conference, handed Farish's hot new pro-Tito report on Stalin -- pure Communist disinformation.
Stalin must have laughed his head off.
In July, 1946, after a show trial, Tito had Mihailovic shot and buried in an unmarked grave.
Seven decades later, the AP report continues:
For decades, Mihailovic's fate has fueled division in Serbia, where many see him as a hero who died for political reasons.
The Higher Court of Belgrade said Thursday that the verdict from July 1946 is now "null and void."
The ruling was met with a thunderous applause by dozens of Mihailovic's supporters who filled the courtroom. Dozens more flag-waving nationalist supporters and leftist opponents of Mihailovic gathered outside and were kept apart by riot police.
"Thank God for this!" cried Novica Djoric, wearing the trademark beard and black shirt of the so-called Chetnik movement - named after Mihailovic's WWII guerrilla troops.
An opponent, Aleksandar Djekic, described the ruling as a "big shame and a mockery of all the victims of fascism."
Supporters of WWII Yugoslav communist partisans maintain that Mihailovic collaborated with the Nazi occupiers, and non-Serbs in the former Yugoslavia have accused his troops of atrocities.
Historian Srdjan Milosevic described the ruling as "regretable" and bound to cause negative reactions in the Balkan region, still recovering from bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s when Serbian nationalist troops were accused of crimes against other ethnic groups.
As a Yugoslav royal army officer, Mihailovic launched a resistance movement in 1941 against German occupation, before turning against communist guerrillas later in the war. When World War II was over, he was jailed and sentenced to death in a hasty trial. He was buried in an unmarked grave.
In 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman posthumously awarded Mihailovic the Legion of Merit for his role in rescuing hundreds of U.S. airmen downed by the Nazis over Serbia.