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The contribution of Yugoslavia to the destruction of fascism is deservedly called one of the most significant. The Yugoslav underground in the Great Patriotic War began to be active immediately after Hitler's attack on the USSR. The anti-fascist war was a reduced-scale picture of an all-Soviet feat. The ranks of Tito's national liberation army consisted of communists and supporters of the Union, opponents of nationalism and fascism. They pinned down numerous German divisions until the liberation of Belgrade by the Red Army.
The National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia in terms of number became the 4th among the allies. Most of the European states in the Second World War became open companions or satellites of Germany. When the Red Army was on the Berlin threshold, the governments of these countries quickly changed the vector, declaring war on Hitler. The Europeans, who replaced the fascist standards with red flags, enthusiastically greeted the victorious Soviet soldiers, without a twinge of conscience calling them "liberators from the German yoke."
Yugoslavia, on the other hand, should not be included in this row. Moreover, it was not the army with government resources that gave a worthy rebuff to the fascists, but the partisan movement of the communists. When the anti-Russian Triple Pact saw the light of day in the fall of 1940, Yugoslavia was surrounded on all sides by the pro-German countries that had joined this alliance. Joining them was perceived by the common people as a national humiliation and treason to their old ally - Russia. The population did not want to make concessions to the German diktat, and the local intelligentsia unanimously adhered to anti-fascist views. All this resulted in a putsch organized by the patriotic military with the removal of the previous government and the expulsion of the prince-regent.
The Germans attacked Yugoslavia in April 41, and the weak royal army quickly fell. The Croats refused to fight, and only Montenegro rebuffed the German troops. But in the end, Belgrade was occupied, and the country began to crumble. Immediately, the local resistance forces began to consolidate. The complexity of the anti-fascist activity was caused by the civil war between the communists, Ustash and Chetniks. The main partisan headquarters under the patronage of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was headed by Tito. By the middle of autumn 1941, over 70 thousand partisans were already active here. The main headquarters was based on the territory of western Serbia. The People's Liberation Committees were also formed here.
An underground ally of the USSR
Partisans controlled entire areas, and in Uzhitsa they created an arms factory. The enterprise produced 16, 5 thousand "Partizanka" rifles, one of which was even presented to Stalin. In 1943, the fighters of the Communist Party controlled at least half of the country, having over 300 thousand followers in their ranks. By the end of the war, this number had grown to 800,000. But against the background of the anti-fascist struggle, internal conflicts escalated. Contradictions arose among Tito's partisans, who strove for the revival of a unified Yugoslavia, and the Serbian Chetniks Drazha Mikhailovich, adherents of "Great Serbia". Britain also intervened with the intention of retaining influence in the Balkans. She saw the Chetniks as her allies, and the communist views of the partisans with their pro-Russian appeals became unacceptable to the British. The Chetniks began to be supplied with weapons, and Churchill imposed on Stalin the idea that it was necessary to bet on Mikhailovich.
At some point, the Chetniks stopped military attacks against the Germans and Italians, and, like the Ustasha, massively attacked the Muslims of Bosnia. And under the ideological influence of the British, they soon declared the communist partisans their enemy. Mikhailovich became close to the pro-fascist government of Belgrade and decided to jointly fight against Tito. In the partisan ranks, according to the conclusion of Yugoslav historians, Bosnian Serbs, Dalmatians, Duke Croats, Montenegrins, Slovenes fought. The Serbs from the villages supported the Chetniks, and the Croats supported the Ustasha. The turning point happened closer to 1944, when the Chetniks with the Ustasha discredited themselves by atrocities, and the partisans became the main force of resistance. Now they were massively sympathetic to people of various social levels, nationalities and religions.
In the spring and summer of 1942, the Germans, Italians and the Chetniks who joined them persistently attacked the partisans. Not overtaking the communists, the Nazis brutally took revenge on the peaceful. For one killed fascist, hundreds of Yugoslavs were destroyed. And yet, despite such pressure, the support of the partisans only grew, there was an underground detachment in almost every village.
The partisans had the hardest time at the beginning of 1943, when the German-Italian troops carried out large anti-partisan actions. 115 thousand invaders acted against 18 thousand underground fighters, but even with such an advantage there was no defeat. With the surrender of Italy in September 1943, the fascist "axis" collapsed. The Italian divisions that fought against the partisans withdrew from the front, and the depots of weapons and ammunition went to Tito, who, at last, armed and outfitted themselves like a regular army.
Connection with the Red Army
In an attempt to liquidate the Yugoslav underground, allied units began to implement Operation Weiss. This task was entrusted to the "Croatia" corps in tandem with the Italians, Ustasha and Chetniks. In total, the anti-partisan formation numbered about 80 thousand soldiers, which was twice as large as the partisan group. By and large, given the advantageous position of the pro-fascists, the partisan army could always break up into small groups and disperse over the mountainous terrain. But Tito did not consider this option, positioning himself as a reliable partner in the anti-Hitler coalition. He adhered to high moral and political dogmas, setting the goal of standing to the end without the right to retreat.
While the world's attention was riveted on Stalingrad, in those very days the fate of Tito's army on the Neretva was being decided. Most of the partisans managed to break out of the encirclement. Terrible battles broke out for the city of Prozor, which had been turned into a fortress by the Italians. The partisans managed to inflict decisive defeats on the Chetniks in several areas. However, they were still not allowed into Serbia. The main partisan base was established in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in September 44, the approaching Soviet army destroyed the German grouping in Yugoslavia. And supporters of the Yugoslav communists with sincere joy greeted the dusty soldiers-liberators with flowers.