Partisan-German contacts and March Negotiations 1943

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TISO
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Post by TISO » 28 Mar 2006 19:13

Bilandžić explains how Tito wanted to secure his "flanks" by negotiating a cease-fire with the Germans, in order to destroy the Chetnik movement without the interference of the Germans/NDH. If I remember well Kasche and Horstenau supported that motion, bur Berlin refused it.
The same view was was argued by OSS representative with Slovene partisans ( Štajerska partisans) Franklin Lindsay in his book: Ognji v noči - Beacons in the night ). He said that this negotiations were the reason for him to move to Croatia partisans and that his orders were to break up these negotiations. He did not elaborate to much on this and he just gave a brief description of the matter and account from German side. He talked with some german negotiators after the war and that they said basicly the same.

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 28 Mar 2006 21:55

TISO wrote:
The same view was was argued by OSS representative with Slovene partisans ( Štajerska partisans) Franklin Lindsay in his book: Ognji v noči - Beacons in the night ). He said that this negotiations were the reason for him to move to Croatia partisans and that his orders were to break up these negotiations. He did not elaborate to much on this and he just gave a brief description of the matter and account from German side. He talked with some german negotiators after the war and that they said basicly the same.
Hmm...How could he have known for the negotiations at the time they were being held? Only the highest circles of the NOVJ were acquainted with the sensitive political aspect of them. I doubt that the Slovene top-brass have gone right to this fella and briefed him,especialy in the days when NOVJ's mistrust of the Western Allies reached it's climax (IIRC the British mission to the Main HQ for Croatia even had it's radios taken away for a while).
Whom has he exactly talked with? Any names?

I don't wish to be presumptuous,but this Lindsay's account sounds a bit sensantionalistic...

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by TISO » 29 Mar 2006 10:23

this Lindsay's account sounds a bit sensantionalistic...
By my reckoning someone was intercepting and reading german mail. Now who could that be :)
According to him this info came with orders from his supriors.
the British mission to the Main HQ for Croatia even had it's radios taken away for a while
Interesting note. He lost his radio when he jumped in Slovenia. He had to use radio of two jewish (Haganah?) agents officialy working for MI6, who later infiltrated ito Germany.

BTW
Romell gaj try to find it in library somwhere close to you:
http://www.cobiss.net/default_slo.htm

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 29 Mar 2006 13:38

By my reckoning someone was intercepting and reading german mail. Now who could that be Smile
Just for a moment let's say Linsday's story is true-I am not sure how the Allied obtained the information about what was going on but I can make an educated guess:Vojislav Lukacevic,chetnik officer operating from Konjic informed Draza Mihailovic on arrival of partisan delegation in G.Vakuf sometime at mid-March,adding that it should be "further sent" and used to the utmost in propaganda;

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by Mark V. » 29 Mar 2006 21:58

Živjo Tiso! It's quite a long time since I've read Lindsay but my recollections are a bit different. From what I remember he was in late 1944 (?!) sent from Styria to Croatia with the mission to establish a contact with Gen. Glaise von Horstenau. Don't know how this turned out but I think it didn't have anything to do with the March negotiations. This would also be less likely since the first Allied liasons officer arrived after the negotiations took place (May 1943) or in Lindsay's case in 1944.

That's a splendid work, Mr. Gaius :D ! There were several similar examples also in Slovenia.

So what (if any) effect did the March negotiations have on the battlefield. Some authors claim this was one of the reason the Germans managed to surprise the partisans in Operation Schwarz.

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 31 Mar 2006 00:06

So what (if any) effect did the March negotiations have on the battlefield. Some authors claim this was one of the reason the Germans managed to surprise the partisans in Operation Schwarz.
IMHO it's single most important aspect of the negotiations (as opposed to political questions,on whose resolvement we can disscuss only in "what-if" section).

Before we disscuss the "Schwarz" case,we should first examine the impact they had on "Weiss" (much more important,I believe).Strecker was captured on the 4th of March,Germans notified between the 5th and the 7th,and Luetters finally inviting the NOVJ delegates trough 717th division on 10th of March,the first round of negotiations taking place a day later in G.Vakuf.
First partisans crossed the Neretva in the night of 6/7 of March,and the wounded started crossing in the night of 8/9 of March,fighting with the chetniks on the way (last wounded crossed Neretva "with great exertion" on 14/15 March)
Now,it's widely claimed by the pro-chetnik historians at home and abroad that the NOVJ defeated the chetniks because the Germans "signed" an agreement with the partisans,ceasing their operations on the right bank of Neretva (effectively naming the NOVJ "collaborators").
However few documents claim otherwise:

General Robboti,CO of 2nd Italian Army informs Rome:"General Luetters informed me this morning,10th of March,that he regards "Weiss" as finished." (Zbornik,tom IV,knj.11,dok.br.211);

General Dippold,CO 717th ID informs Luetters on 14th of March:"My division will advance toward Prozor and Podhum to link with 718th ID and to secure the Rama-Konjic road to the south,against the Partisan forces who crossed on the left bank of Neretva."There he continues,his division will stay and comb the terrain on both banks of Neretvica and "hinder the enemy trust towards north in German zone".(Zbornik,tom XII,knj.3,dok.br.37);

General Luetters,evaluating the situation in mid-March:"...Tito's state has been destroyed...and his army dissolving...resistance of his divisions is mostly broken...Operation "Weiss" is basically over...Further pursuit of the enemy south and east of Neretva is not possible,beacuse of political question in relations to Italians." Furthermore,Luetters laid out the imminent task of German troops in NDH,that being "securing the territories against the renewed attack by the uprisers in the nearest future".(Ibidem.)

If it is true what the forementioned historians claim,it would amount to Germans stopping their operations merely on NOVJ asking for a prisoner exchange.Draw the conclusions yourself.
By reaching Neretva,after almost two months of combat,including the repulse at Vilica Gumno and a deadlock at Konjic,Germans secured the all-esential bauxite area in Herzegovina,re-occupied the ex-Titostaat and incured heavy losses on NOVJ (According to both Loehr and Kasche:Arhiv VII,mikrofilm NAV-N-T-78,r.332,s.6290035-72;Arhiv Jugoslavije,T-120,r.212,Nr.1271 od 23.III.),Germans saw Weiss as a success.Add the preparations for "Schwarz" (approved by Hitler on the 30th of March),re-organisation of troops and their re-disposal (in Jaeger divisions,for instance;717th ID moving to Greece),securing the newly-occupied territories (which were to remain under German military) and you can find the reasons why Germans stopped at Neretva.

On the other hand,it appears that Ttio believed that the negotiations were successeful at "neutralizing" Germans and stopping them at Neretva;hence his orders to 1.Bosnian corps,6th East-Bosnian Brigade and 3.Croatian Operational Zone to stop the actions against the Germans while the negotiations are in progress.What is certain,is that "Schwarz" surprised the Supreme HQ.Possible connection to the negotiations is "betrayed" by Djilas when he wrote that "Tito exclaimed that Germans fooled us." At least one foreign author,Frenchman Emile Guikovaty ("Tito",Hachetter-Literature "Grands aventuriers",Paris,1979) claims that the surprise in "Schwarz" was directly connected to Abwehr's cunning's tactics.

Source used: Miso Lekovic,"Martovski pregovori 1943",Narodna knjiga,Beograd,1985.
Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 03 Apr 2006 20:57

I have checked the entries in KTB OKW dealing with "Weiss".No word is mentioned on operating across the Neretva.Two divisions directly engaged against the NOVJ Group of divisions (717th & 718th ID) are mentioned in contest of sealing the German zone against the partisan breaktrough,fighting around Konjic and Rama.When looking to these entries,concern over the bauxite area is more than visible.

Will post quotes from KTB in the near future.

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 20 Aug 2006 23:49

I found some interesting information on the first exchanges in 1941. As these come mostly from memoirs, with almost no references to documents (Yugoslav or German), they should be treated with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, I believe they are a valuable "starting point" for deeper research of the pre-Livno exchanges, and of this phenomena generaly.

All the following comes from: "Slavko Odic, Slavko Komarica,Partizanska obavjestajna sluzba: 1941-1942 sta se stvarno dogadjalo,knjiga treca,Zagreb 1988"

"Djoko Jovanovic, one of the organisers of uprising in Lika and the member of HQ of guerilla detachments in Lapac,in his War memoirs wrote the following:"
..."I heard that on the 14th of August, on Drenovaca, two German ingeneers were captured while they were driving a car from Bihac. They were on their way to do a survey of the Gospic-Knin railway, and to plan further works on that line.They were brought to Lapac...The prisoners were transferred from Lapac to Drvar,where the investigation showed they were in fact agents and not ingeneers."
Apparently these two persons were member of "Organisation Todt", and German embassy in Zagreb intervened with the Italians to assist in their release. Ervin Sinko, who escaped the Ustashis to the relative safety of Italian-occupied Knin, wrote in his book Drvar diary, observing the frequent visitis made by a single German officer to Italians in Knin :
"...At the very beginning of the uprising, the uprisers have captured two German officers of this unit >i.e. "OT"<, and now this fat German is hurrying the Italians to assist in release..."
Extracts from a letter of a certain partisan activist from Knin, nicknamed "Bili" to a certain commander in Dalmatia was the last mention of this episode the authors could find (the letter was published in "NOB u Dalmaciji 1941-1945, Zbornik Dokumenata;I/86). We don't know how the episode ended, but we could make a guess:
"A commissar from this area told me the 2 German GPU officers >"Bili" obviously used the term "GPU" to describe the German intelligence service< were captured. I believe they are going to be shot in Drvar"

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 21 Aug 2006 00:22

There are several sources mentioning the exchanges (or attempts of the same) in Serbia in 1941, in the first months of the uprising.

So Rodoljub Colakovic in his Notes from the liberation war mentions the ambush on the road Uzice-Valjevo made by the parts of a Valjevo partisan detachment on 27th of July. Apparently a German military policeman, "sergeant Schmidt" was captured, and the detachment send a letter to FK in Valjevo, offering his release in exchange for "dipl. iur. Stanisic". No reply came, and the captured German made his escape on 18th of August.

On 8th of August 1941 Takovo partisan company made an ambush on a german column on Gornji Milanovac-Nevade road, and managed to capture one german NCO. He was exchanged for "six captured partisans". Both the official Hronologija NOR-a and the book Cacak area during the war mention this episode (although in the former the date given is 16th of August), but without further details.

On 12th of September Petar Stambolic, KP instructor for Jagodina county, informs the "Pokrajinski komitet KPJ za Srbiju" about the following:
"Belicka: on the road Kragujevac-Jagodina...7 Germans have been captured. We have offered to exchange them. Among them there is a doctor, who operated one of our wounded comrades. If the exchange doesn't take place, we shall shoot the Germans."
On 21st of September Moma Markovic,KP instructor for Pozarevac county, informs the "Pokrajinski komitet KPJ za Srbiju" about the following:
"On the 20th, at six o'clock in the morning, our detachment stormed the Veliko Gradiste...and after 3 hours, the resistance has been broken. We have captured seven German officers, the place commander, and two men from "Kulturbund"...Germans came back to Gradiste and asked the inhabitants to intervene with the partisans, and finaly they sent the negotiators. Our people refused to negotiate and the Germans retreated from Gradiste to Rumunija...At early dawn they sent an envoy again, with who our people agreed to negotiate...We wish to underline that they negotiated without consulting us, and we have severely criticised them for taking such steps..."

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Re:

Post by kiseli » 09 Oct 2009 09:41

rommel_gaj wrote:Official authorization issued to the "representative of the Supreme HQ of YPLA" Koca Popovic,just prior to Gornji Vakuf talks.
At the bottom,the piece of paper which the Germans issued to Popovic for a safe passage back to partisan lines. (same source):
it is very crude falsificate. date in upper left corner is march, 8, 1943 and "in the name of partisan HQ , signed V (velimir) Terzic, captain, as deputy chief of staff. his rank was colonel. in may, 1st, 1943 he was promoted in major-general, and as I know letter from partisan HQ was written in german language. and koca popovic was part of delegation and not chief negotiator. it was tito's direct order, so don't see much reason that terzic must be involved

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 11 Oct 2009 22:25

kiseli wrote:
rommel_gaj wrote:Official authorization issued to the "representative of the Supreme HQ of YPLA" Koca Popovic,just prior to Gornji Vakuf talks.
At the bottom,the piece of paper which the Germans issued to Popovic for a safe passage back to partisan lines. (same source):
it is very crude falsificate. date in upper left corner is march, 8, 1943 and "in the name of partisan HQ , signed V (velimir) Terzic, captain, as deputy chief of staff. his rank was colonel. in may, 1st, 1943 he was promoted in major-general, and as I know letter from partisan HQ was written in german language. and koca popovic was part of delegation and not chief negotiator. it was tito's direct order, so don't see much reason that terzic must be involved
Could you please rephrase what you wrote? What are you aiming at?

G.

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Re: Partisan-German contacts and March Negotiations 1943

Post by kiseli » 20 Oct 2009 14:02

The talks were first referred to in the 1950s, on the basis of their own sources, by Wilhelm Hottl (Walter Hagen, Die Geheime Front. Organisation, Personen und Aktionen des deutschen Geheimdienstes, Linz & Vienna, 1950), General Rudolf Kiszling (Die Kroaten. Der Schickalsweg eines Sudslawenvolkes, Graz & Cologne, 1956) and Stephen Clissold {Whirlwind. An Account of Marshal Tito's Rise to Power, London, 1959). In the late 1960s, Ilija Jukic provided hard evidence from German Foreign Ministry sources {Pogledi na proslost, sadasnjost i buduc'nost hrvatskog naroda, London, 1965) and Ivan Avakumovic from captured German military documents {Mihailovic prema nemackim dokumentima, London, 1969). The American diplomat and scholar Walter Roberts caused an international incident in 1973 by providing a reconstruction of the talks {Tito, Mihailovic and the Allies, 1941-1945, New Brunswick NJ). Djilas then told his story in 1977 {Wartime). In 1967, the Yugoslav historian Miso Lekovic had been officially commissioned to write a full report on the talks, but could not publish his findings until after Tito's death {Martovski pregovori, Belgrade, 1985). Koca Popovic's version appeared in 1989 in conversations with Aleksandar Nenadovic {Razgovori s Kocom, 2nd ed. Zagreb), and Velebit's in 2001 (in conversations with Mira Suvar, Vladimir Velebit, svjedok historije, Zagreb) and 2002 {Tajne i zamke Drugog svjetskog rata, Zagreb/)

but terzic, who was colonel-general, military historian, and wrote few books about war in yugoslavia, never mentioned this.
and general v.velebit version doesn't mention this "authorization" . and why serbo-croatian language? and mistake about rank?

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Re: Partisan-German contacts and March Negotiations 1943

Post by G. Trifkovic » 21 Oct 2009 01:57

Even if it is a fake, what do you think it proves?

G.

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Re: Partisan-German contacts and March Negotiations 1943

Post by kiseli » 03 Nov 2009 10:14

What took place in Herzegovina in March and April of 1943 was more than just a series of military reverses: it was a major crisis of morale and the failure of a whole strategy for the mihailovic chetniks. At the end of March and the beginning of April, when the Partisans succeeded in seizing virtually every Chetnik stronghold in Herzegovina, Tito was suddenly in a position to turn the tables on Mihailović and attempt the total annihilation of the Chetniks before the expected Allied landing. Partisan directives now called for a concentration of all available forces against Mihailovic in Herzegovina; the same instructions to the few remaining groups in western Bosnia ordered "defensive" tactics against the Ustasi so they could use nearly all their strength against the Chetniks there. Partisan strategy followed the same general guidelines throughout western Yugoslavia. In April, Tito informed Rankovic that "the situation in Monte¬negro is clearly better than we thought," and revealed that he was working out a "strategic plan" for the exclusive purpose of dealing "a decisive blow' against the Montenegrin Chetniks." Here the Partisans not only tended to avoid the Italians but had specific instructions to avoid "launching aggressive operations against the Chetniks of [the Monte¬negrin federalist leader] Krsto Popović, and to throw all their weight against the pro-Mihailović Chetniks.
After his efforts to wage a full-scale, Partisan-dominated war of resistance and to force a break with the monarchist officers at the end of 1941, Tito's decision to exploit a temporarily favorable situation to eliminate Mihailović was his most daring move. The Partisan leaders recognized that the Chetnik troops were the weak link in the hap-hazardlv thrown together anti-Partisan coalition and that Mihailović was blocking their way out of the German zone of operations and into Monte¬negro and the Sandžak. Moreover, Tito must have realized that the Germans, although still determined to rid their Balkan rear of all guerrilla groups, would look with some favor on a Partisan campaign against Mihailović. Finally, if the Chetniks wanted to see Tito eliminated before an Allied amphibious operation in the Balkans, the Partisans also wanted to deal Mihailović a decisive blow before such an Allied action revived the Ghetniks. It is important to bear in mind that at this time both the Partisans and Germans expected that an Allied landing would work mainly to the advantage of Mihailović
Both Tito and the Germans were in a rather desperate situation and shared, at least temporarily, a common interest in a Chetnik defeat. Tito attempted to exploit this by offering the Germans a temporary armistice. The negotiations were carried out by the intermediary Hans Ott, a German formerly engaged in Croatian coal and bauxite mining operations whom the Partisans had captured near Livno the previous summer. Ott had been active in German-Partisan negotiations for the exchange of prisoners and had good ties with. Partisan headquarters. General Lohr, for example, had enough confidence in Ott to recommend using him in December 1942 "for the purpose of gathering information"; Kasche reported in the spring that Ott's activities had provided the Germans with a "view of the internal and military structure of the Par¬tisan [movement] . . . which we could not have gotten any other way."
Sometime in mid-March, or shortly after Tito's breakthrough into Herzegovina, Partisan negotiators suddenly suggested to Ott the possibility of a temporary arrangement whereby they would call off hostilities against the Axis occupation troops in return for a "free hand" to settle accounts with Mihailović. In order to convince the Germans of the sincerity of his proposals, Tito accelerated the talks by sending two personal delegates to Zagreb. The key Partisan negotiator, who called himself Doctor Petrović, turned out to be Vladko Velebit, a leading Croatian Communist and Tito's source of communications with Moscow during the first year of the war
Velebit repeated the proposals and quickly convinced Kasche that the Germans had something to gain by making an arrangement with Tito. As far as the Germans were concerned, a Partisan drive into Montenegro and the Sandžak could not be stopped immediately, and Tito's evident desire to finish off the Chetniks quickly was consistent with one of the basic goals of Weiss. Realizing that they could expect little support for such a project from the Foreign Office, Glaise tried to enlist Himmler's cooperation by bringing up the matter with the Secret Service. According to Kasche, "General Glaise Horstenau would welcome any means to bring to an end the Partisans' resistance, [even including] a political solution." The rest of the German military, the Croats, and the Italians saw the problem in much the same way. Lorković, the foreign minister, favored any solution which would call a halt to Partisan activities in Croatia; Casertano was firmly behind the project, and General Liiters, although claiming he was neutral "in any political question," raised no objections.
Each side, then, was negotiating from what it believed was a weak position. The Germans saw the proposal as a convenient way to accomplish at least one of the goals of Weiss. The Partisans' predicament, and this cannot be emphasized too strongly, was very serious. In spite of the recent victories of the Partisans against Mihailovie, Tito had absorbed losses which must have approached half of his main force, and he must have feared that the gains of 1942 in Croatia, especially in western Bosnia, had been permanently lost. Moreover, the Partisan leaders, like the Germans, not only recognized that Mihailovic was weak militarily but feared that the expected Allied Balkan landing would give the officers effective British backing and revive the Chetniks. The British still maintained liaison officers only with Mihailovic and were advocating that the Partisans and Chetniks join forces, a course of action which neither Tito nor Mihailovic would support. Interestingly enough, the Germans noticed that Tito's radio transmissions had taken an increasingly anti-British line since early 1943. Furthermore, the Partisans' hard-pressed troops were still getting no appreciable support from Moscow, either diplomatic or in the form of supplies, in spite of Tito's urgent appeals since January.
What is significant about Tito's efforts to arrive at an understanding with the Germans is that the community of aims between the Partisans and Germans was very accidental and inevitably short-lived and that Tito was asking for temporary freedom of action against Mihailovie rather than the sort of ongoing collaboration which the Chetniks developed with the Italians. Tito's tactics were very similar to Mihailović's in Serbia in November of 1941, and, although the situation had changed drastically, they produced the same results. In the middle of April General Litters issued orders for operations in May directed against both the Partisans and the Chetniks; shortly thereafter, Ribbentrop conveyed strict orders to Kasche to abandon the talks with Tito.

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