Peasants' Revolt 1950

A must read for anyone interested in the Balkans.

This is a sample chapter of the book which tells, in meticulously researched detail, the story of the last peasants' revolt in Europe, which took place in the border region of Bosnia and Croatia in 1950. The book is all the more poignant as it was published on the eve of the latest conflict, which was particularly bitter in the very same region. Apart from the historical interest of the last peasants' revolt in Europe, played out against the background of the cold war, the book is a revelation for those interested in the 1990s war as it portrays the context in which the seeds of that war took root and grew, in the fertile soil of a region torn for centures by global political and religious conflict. This story is all the more relevant at this time of troubled European integration, with Croatia about to join the EU, and the recent revival of tourism to this lesser-known corner of Europe, not to mention the ongoing war on terror.

I am currently working on a translation into English of the above book, originally published in 1990 in Serbo-Croat under the title “ Cazinska Buna 1950 ”. The author is Dr. Vera Kržišnik-Bukić, a highly respected Slovenian historian and sociologist, who among other things is currently active in the processes of post-war political and social reconciliation in the former Yugloslavia.

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1. Chapter 2 - HISTORICAL LEGACY OF THE CAZIN BORDERS AND SLUNJ AREA

The area between the Una, Korana and Glina rivers has been inhabited since prehistoric times. From ancient times through the middle ages, in particular from the 16th century onwards, and into modern times, this picturesque, hilly country acquired the characteristics which led to its being known as the Borders, the Turkish Borders, the Cazin Borders. Simultaneously and parallel to the Turkish Borders, a defensive line was also developed on the Hapsburg side of the border, the Military Border, which included the Slunj sector of Kordun, a geographical area in Croatia around the river Korana, between Mala Kapela and Velika Kapela in the West and Petlova Gora in the East. The very name Kordun, from the French cordon and Italian cordone, means guard or rampart. In this way the Cazin Borders and the Slunj area, despite belonging to two neighbouring rival empires, the Turkish empire and the Hapsburg monarchy, with differing religions, cultures and other characteristics, formed a single military and civilian territory, which due to their pre-existing relationships and their new common function, followed a similar path of social development.

Ancient Times

Archaeologists have established that humans lived in the area of the Cazin borders as long ago as the Neolithic. The Illyrian tribe of the Yapods are mentioned in this area several centuries before Christ. During the Roman period, a major Roman road linking Salona to Siscia passed through Pounje near Bihać. In the early middle ages, Slavic peoples settled what is now the Borders, probably as they did in other areas of the Balkans, although no reliable data exist on their arrival and settlement. Throughout most of the middle ages the later Cazin Borders belonged to Croatia, and until the last quarter of the 16th century, the area was governed by the bishop of Knin. It was then conquered by the Turks, whose reign defined the life of the local population up until the 20th century. During the Turkish reign the area between the Una, Korana and Glina rivers became the Borders, the Turkish Borders, the most western extremity of the huge Turkish empire, extending towards Western Europe. In the same way as the neighbouring Croatian Military Borders, created to protect the Hapsburg monarchy and Europe from further Turkish expansion from the Balkans, the Turkish Borders were transformed over the centuries via a system of fortifications and military districts into the main defensive line of the European part of the Turkish empire. The local population, the Borderers, learned by force of circumstances to live by the sword as well as their traditional crop and livestock production, and for their services they were naturally rewarded by the Sultan with certain privileges not enjoyed by other subjects. It is therefore not surprising that the Turkish religion, Islam, was accepted en masse in this area. Nevertheless, the Borderers often opposed measures passed by the central Turkish government, and played a leading role in many revolts against the Sultan’s reforms, in particular in the 19th century. The revolts in the Borders were always put down, although sometimes at great cost, such as the revolt of several thousand rebels which started in 1849 and lasted on and off until 1851 (for which reason it is sometimes regarded as several revolts), when it was put down by General Omer-Paša Latas, sent by the Sublime Port to pacify Bosnia. Interestingly, the many punishments to which the rebels were sentenced, 100 years before the Peasants’ Revolt which is the subject matter of this book, did not include a single death sentence, even though over 500 rebel beys were arrested, and the people of the Borders suffered for several years as a punishment for their disobedience. Forty-five Borderers were exiled to Asia from whence they never returned, but there were no death sentences, despite the fact that several thousand Borderers took part in the revolt. The Bosnian Borders were also one of the hotbeds of the great Bosnian uprising of 1875-1878. The Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1878 and 1918 and the financial and trading links it entailed introduced significant changes to life in the Cazin Borders, such that this relatively short period is considered to be a period of general progress . However, statistics show that there was no significant prosperity, indeed according to indicators in the following period the Borders became one of the most backward areas of the new country, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, that is to say the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Over the centuries Kordun underwent a similar fate to that of the Cazin Borders. It was a defensive line with a series of fortifications on the border with the Turkish possessions in Bosnia, as of the second half of the 15th century protecting South-West Croatia and the Hapsburg lands in general from invasion by the Turks. Kordun was also bore the stigma of being a border region, which meant it was not only remote, but also high risk in terms of financial investment.

The “Old” Yugoslavia

In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the whole of the Cazin Borders was formed into one county, the Cazin county. The Cazin county, which thus covered both Cazin and Velika Kladuša, fell within the Vrbas province. Statistics show that the Vrbas province was the least developed, and in almost every other respect the most backward of the nine Yugoslav provinces. Using as a basic indicator of development the measure of the then industrial capacity and number of workers, Cazin clearly occupies the last position within the Vrbas province. Statistics from 1938 show that the little industry that existed in the Vrbas province employed 9,651 workers or 1.46% of the population, of which only 62 workers or 0.13% of the population were from the Cazin county . According to the census of 31 March 1931, the population of the Cazin Borders, the area that would become the Cazin and Kladuša county, was 47,283. The majority of the population lived in 7,960 independent agricultural households. At most 3,222 households owned 2-5 ha of land, representing 40.48%. 1,789 or 22.47% had 5-10 ha, 1,373 or 17.25% 1-2 ha, 584 or 7.34% 10-20 ha, and 558 or 7.01% 0.5-1 ha. 330 or 4.15% of households had up to 0.5 ha of land, and 102 or 1.28% between 20 and 50 ha. Only two households or 0.02% owned over 50 ha of land . In other words, just over two thirds of households owned up to 5 ha of land, indicating a smallholding structure which was the dominant feature of land ownership Bosnia and Herzegovina before and after the Second World War. These statistics must be considered in the context of the quality of the land which, being hilly, is not ideal for crop production, and tends to be used for livestock. The Kladuša topography, including as it does a larger proportion of flat country, is more fertile than that of Cazin. However, the peasants’ greatest burden in the inter-war period was debt. In the Cazin county, owing to the large percentage of independent peasants living there since before the First World War, this debt was not as elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina the result of quotas under the rapacious feudal system, but due to the penetration of usurious capital into agriculture and the countryside, which was characteristic of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In the absence of precise indicators of the impoverishment of peasants in the Cazin Borders due to the “debt crisis” prior to the Second World War, statistics on the constant reduction in livestock in the Borders serve to provide an approximate picture. In order to meet their obligations and repay their debts to the bankers and traders, peasants were forced to sell more and more of their livestock, the very basis of their survival. In the Cazin county between 1921 and 1939 statistics show that the number of horses fell from 4,422 to 3,989, cattle from 27,963 to 15,394, and sheep from 22,282 to 19,366 . In order to protect peasants from this financial exploitation, the Cazin Farming Association was formed in the county in mid 1940, i.e. on the eve of the War, by respected and trusted local peasants . The consistent neglect of the Cazin Borders by all the various states that have ruled here throughout history has marked the population, and in particular the post-war generations, with a complex. It is this context which explains the importance of the role of the individual for the development of the Borders. The place of honour among such individuals must surely fall to the pre-war Member of Parliament, the wealthy and respected Cazin native Nurija Pozderac. “Without him there would have been no schools, no running water or roads. He used to help the poorer pupils himself every year”, says the teacher Hasan Purić of Todorovo . In order to understand events in the Cazin Borders, both in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and afterwards, in particular during the Second World War, but also up to the present day, it is vital to observe the organic links that exist between religion and everyday life in the area. Islam is traditionally all-pervasive in all areas of public and private life, making it very difficult for any other forms of social awareness to penetrate, in particular if they clash with Islam as a confession and the way of life based on its tenets. As the Cazin Borders were (and continue to be) the area with the densest Muslim population in Bosnia and Herzegovina (and in Europe), the potential power of Islam in this region is self-evident. According to the 1931 census, 35,313 Muslims, 11,072 (Serb) Orthodox Christians, 895 Catholics and 3 persons of other religious denominations were living then in the Cazin Borders. After the War, these proportions became even more sharply differentiated in favour of the Muslims, in particular at the expense of the Serbs as a consequence of the anti-Serb genocide during the War and their departure in large numbers in the form of resettlement in Vojvodina immediately after the War. The characteristics of the Military Borders, which for centuries included the Cazin and Kladuša county on the Turkish side and the Slunj county on the Austro-Hungarian side of the border, naturally gave rise to many common traits in the life of the population on both sides of the river Korana, not least among which must be the waging of war. With the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary the whole area was brought under a common master, but nevertheless it continued to be marked by a lack of economic development right up to the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, and beyond in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, that is to say the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Whereas the conversion of the most Western extremity of the Turkish empire into a military border zone obviously led to mass Islamisation of the local population, the characteristics of the Slunj area as a religious and military border region created a local population of two ethnic groups. According to the 1931 census, 21,470 Croats and 24,352 Serbs lived in the Slunj area. This however did not prevent the population from living in mutual respect, agreement and aid. On the eve of the Second World War and at its beginning, the KPJ served to a large extent to consolidate these fundamental values. The best evidence for this is the War itself when, despite the genocidal programmes of the Ustaše and the occupier in the Slunj county, “internecine fighting and the Četnik movement were fully prevented” . Again according to the 1931 census, in the Slunj county there were 7,180 households with a population of 45,829 spread over 213 communities. The population was characterised by a high birth rate and high death rate (every fifth child died before the age of one), was mainly illiterate, and engaged predominantly in livestock and crop production. However, the conditions for crop production were poor as almost three quarters of the county were covered by woods, thorn bushes and stone. As in the Cazin Borders, smallholdings dominated. Of 6,922 farms, 2,818 were smallholdings of 2-5 ha and 2,356 had 5-10 ha. However, due to the Karst soil structure, farms had an average of only 1.93 ha arable land, insufficient for the average family of six. In addition to the poor quality of the land, it should also be noted that 795 farms owned 10-20 ha land, in total 10,293 ha . The rural communities in the Slunj county were isolated, far from means of communication, and without electric lighting or industry. The peasants’ life was hard, and there were few farms who were not obliged to resort to buying food before the new harvest. The general privation and rural poverty did however create fertile ground for money-lending and usury, which flourished. The servicing of peasants’ debts sometimes exceeded their purchasing power. The peasants’ social awareness was markedly patriarchal and was mainly bound by religion. Superstition and fatalism abounded, as a consequence of there being more churches and clergy than there were teachers and schools. Despite the religion being different to that in the Cazin Borders, the situation was almost identical as regards the peasants’ social awareness, as was the peasants’ position in every other respect. As the land could not feed everyone born to it, the people in both areas were involved to a large extent in activities such as lending and the transport of various goods. Child labour was, again on both sides of the Korana, an economic necessity for many children from poor families. There were also many similar customs. These include the “abduction” of girls, although the later fate of the bride may have differed. This act, known in the Slunj county as a “trial marriage”, often ended, according to S. Livada, with the woman being expelled for no good reason, which led to widespread conflicts. On the other side, among the Muslims, the woman was rarely expelled, but merely added. It was not unusual for a woman to become a man’s second or third wife, common under Šerijat law, even after the Second World War. Despite the fact that religious customs and festivals differed between Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Catholics in this relatively small geographical area, that shared space interwove the life of the population and gave rise to some common celebrations. Such was 6 May, St George’s Day, celebrated by the Serbs as Đurđevdan, by the Croats as Jurjevo, and by the Muslims of the Cazin Borders as Jurjev.

The Second World War

After the capitulation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Slunj county in Croatia and the Cazin Borders became part of the new Independent State of Croatia (NDH), as did the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, this Third Reich satellite's de facto sovereignty is debatable, as the KPJ, the popular leader of the armed struggle against the quisling Ustaša regime, did not recognise its legitimacy. The Cazin Borders, despite being part of Bosnia where the Partisan Resistance movement was powerful from the very beginning, were throughout the War as a border region and for operational and tactical reasons on the one hand administered by the Croatian Military Command, and on the other the new Cazin county revolutionary Resistance cells (NOO) fell hierarchically and territorially under the Karlovac province ZAVNOH Resistance in Croatia. However, events in the area took very differing courses during the War. While every war causes human losses and all kinds of misery for the population, this war was catastrophic for the Slunj county. The Nazi NDH, in its pathological social programme to destroy the Serb population, succeeded in wiping out a third of the approximately hundred thousand Serbs living in the whole Kordun area, comprising the Slunj, Vojnić and Vrginmost counties, resorting to almost unimaginable atrocities. Research has shown that between 1941-1945 the activities of the NDH’s Ustaše against the Serb population in the wartime counties of Slunj and Veljun (which were combined after the War into the single Slunj county) resulted in the deaths of 10,098 people, of whom 9,852 were Serbs, 236 Croats and 10 belonging to other ethnic groups. Over half of the casualties were victims of the fascist terror, around 15% were Resistance fighters and around one fifth died of typhoid . In the context of the 1950 Peasants’ Revolt, it cannot be insignificant that in Kordunski Leskovac, the home of two of the main leaders of the Revolt in the Slunj county, two thirds of the population perished in the War. Both were local early Resistance fighters who took part in the 1941 rising, as did the Serb population of Kordun in general. In order to understand the 1950 Revolt, and in particular its ideological basis, it is also important to note that in this area, and in the Cazin Borders as is described below, intense government anti-communist propaganda from before the War had succeeded in implanting a deep dislike of “repulsive” communism, which was only encouraged by the clerical institutions of the three main religions for their own reasons. “When the Kordun local cell initiated the recruitment of Croats into the Partisans at the end of 1943, around a thousand of them, indoctrinated into believing that Communists must be killed and that the King would return, fled and joined the Ustaše instead. They preferred the devil to communism”. This only created further Ustaša ill-feeling on the ground, recalls Petar Zinajić . Whereas the fate of Kordun, Lika, Banija and the Bosnian Borders as a whole, due to their significant Serb population, was inextricably linked to the mass uprising in 1941, the experience of the war in the Cazin Borders within the greater Bosnian Borders was very different, due to their predominantly Muslim population. The Serb population in the Cazin Borders suffered the same fate as the Kordun Serbs. This general conclusion is supported by the testimony of many surviving local Serbs on Ustaša atrocities. For example, when the village of Crnaja was liberated it had not only been burnt to the ground but almost the whole population had been killed. Again, Crnaja is the home of the main Bosnian leaders of the 1950 revolt, again Partisans and early Resistance fighters since 1941. The Ustaša’s first major massacre was carried out on 29 July 1941 in the Orthodox church in Velika Kladuša. The same team (led by Ile Vidaković and Viktor Beljak-Ventura) went on to carry out another massacre of Serbs in August near Vrnograč . Much has been written about how outside Ustaše were brought in to carry out the massacre, disguised as Muslims in order to give the Serbs the impression of bloodthirsty Muslim neighbours and put the blame on them. The Ustaše carried out another larger, extremely brutal massacre in the summer of 1941 in the vicinity of Bužim . However, further systematic research, similar to that carried out in the Slunj county, is required to answer many unanswered questions about the fate of the Serb population in the Cazin Borders. Only serious historical research will allow clarification of the role and responsibility of part of the local Muslim population serving in the Home Guard and the Ustaše. It is well known that Muslims were also mobilised into the Ustaše. However, according to the testimony of Suljo Zunić among others, local Muslims did not take part in the massacre of the Serb population in the Cazin Borders, which were carried out by outside Ustaše brought in for that purpose. There are individual cases of Muslim Home Guard (or Ustaše) saving Serbs from massacres. One Home Guard member from Sturlić, Salim Bilkić, during a raid across the Korana in May 1942 as part of a major Ustaša and Home Guard offensive against Mašvinska Sela, during which the villages of Koranski Lug, Kordunski Leskovac, Basara and Kršlja were burnt down, gathered 14 women and children and saved them from the “wild Ustaše” by taking them away from the scene . Many Muslims, especially respected Muslims, including in particular Nurija Pozderac, stood up against the violence against the Serbs as early as 1941. Some Serb families were saved by hiding in Muslim houses during the War, as was the case with Milan Božić’s family who took refuge in the Dizdarević family home in Šturlić. This had an important positive effect on the relationships between the remaining Serbs and the Muslims of the Cazin Borders after the War. However, the whole truth about the behaviour of the Muslims of the Cazin Borders towards the Serbs during the War has not yet been told due to the absence of research, as is indicated by the fear of many Muslim participants in the 1950 Revolt that their Serb comrades-in-arms might turn their weapons against them in revenge for what happened in the War. There was no mass popular uprising in the Cazin Borders in 1941. In the summer of 1941 there were already some communist Partisans, among whom Milan Pilipović, Tone Horvat, Mile Dejanović and Huska Miljković, acting mainly on the Croatian side of the Korana, distinguished themselves from the very start by their bravery and passed into popular legend. Many Serb families fled across the Korana into Kordun to escape the Ustaša massacres. In order to remain safe they would move from place to place, while most of the men left to join the Partisans. In this way the Božič’s of Crnaja became early Partisans. Because of the relatively more favourable conditions for fighting the Ustaše and the foreign occupier in the hills of Kordun, some Muslims left as early as 1941, in particular KPJ members. Among them was Huska Miljković, already mentioned above. The Ustaša leader Ante Pavelić cunningly obtained the mainly passive consent of the Muslims to the NDH, embracing them in 1941as the “flower of Croatia”, and mobilising them into the Home Guard and also partly into the Ustaše. Although no research has been carried out on this, it is taken to be a historical fact that the local Muslim Ustaše carried out many atrocities on the Serb population of the Borders, including on the other side of the Korana, where according to P. Zinajić they massacred around 500 Serbs from Kordunski Leskovac and Staro Selo . Those terrible days of the summer of 1941, and subsequently 1942, could not of course be forgotten, and are also mentioned by the main Muslim leader of the common 1950 Revolt as a source of fear of reprisals during the preparations for the Revolt. Husein Huska Miljković’s personality and name have played a major role in the history of the Cazin Borders. Huska was the Member of Parliament for the Cazin Borders in the 1920s, and when the conflict between the ruling regime and the Croatian Peasants’ Party reached breaking point in 1928 he came out on the side of the regime. That year two Kladuša residents were killed in a fight about politics in Cetingrad, and subsequently buried beside the mosque in a public funeral with mass attendance. Huska’s influence over the Muslims at that time is described by his later comrade-in-arms Šukrija Bijedić, “if he had told the crowd that day to go and burn Cetingrad, some people would have gone without asking why or for whose benefit.”  This claim is included here as it also demonstrates the local population’s tendency to obedience to authority, which would show itself again in the war, again with Huska, and in the 1950 St. George’s Day Revolt. As a pre-war KPJ member Huska joined the Resistance in 1941 and gained a double reputation for his bravery fighting in Kordun: not only the obedient admiration of his fellow Muslims, but also the respect of the people of Kordun . He is however portrayed as an independently-minded Party leader who commanded loyalty to himself rather than to the Party, which led to him being dismissed as secretary of the Velika Kladuša county committee, while remaining a member of the hierarchically superior Karlovac regional committee. According to another version, the main bone of contention between Huska and his comrades in the Party leadership was his disagreement at the beginning of 1943 to exchange the notorious Ustaša Flak, whom he wished to see shot . Whatever the truth of the matter, it appears that he was affected by his dismissal as secretary of the Velika Kladuša county committee. He wanted revenge, and that may well be part of the reason for his decision to desert with another 25 Partisans during the major German offensive of February 1943. However, Huska's defection to the enemy is explained first and foremost by his assessment that the Partisans had no chance and would lose the war . In May 1943 he was part of the Home Guard and fighting against his erstwhile comrades in the Cazin Borders, Banija and Kordun, while at the same time contemplating the formation of his own popular army . In the absence of scholarly literature on the “Muslim Militia”, reliance is placed upon the presentation of Šukrija Bijedić, political officer of the Una operative group via which the Militia went over to the Resistance at the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944. However, the author has come across testimony which does not agree with Bijedić’s interpretation. For example, Hakija Pozderac maintains that the original idea of the Muslim Militia was that of the pre-war Kladuša politician Hasan Miljković (no relation), while it was Huska Miljković who actually formed the Militia as an organisation. In any event, the idea of Muslim armed units formed for the purpose of defending Muslim settlements and the practice based on it, go back almost to the beginning of the war, in line with the concepts of political autonomy for Yugoslav Muslims, i.e. a form of autonomy for Bosnia within the Third Reich to allow it to retain its Muslim traditions. Hitler rejected requests to separate Bosnia from the NDH . One market day in mid 1943 Huska presented his idea of a popular army under his command with a defensive character, remaining exclusively on its own territory and defending the population against any form of robbery, to the inhabitants of Velika Kladuša. So was formed Huska's “Militia”, with the motto “for the faith and Islam” and with the star and crescent on its members’ fezzes or caps. The Militia’s appeal was that its members could virtually stay at home, many of them actually sleeping at home, working their fields and avoiding the various mobilisations into the Home Guard, Ustaše, or German army, and gaining a legitimacy among the Muslims of the Cazin Borders, testifies Š. Bijedić. Huska’a Militia units were nothing new among the Muslims because as early as 1941 Muslim villages had had their own local armed defenders, which led to the creation of county guards with the sole objective of protecting their home territory from the incursions of any external armed force. In the village of Šturlić such forces were referred to as Četniks . Contrary to the initial proclamation, there was much robbery, gambling, and smuggling in Huska’s Militia, and people were recruited by force . The number of Huska Militiaman soon grew to around 3,000 fighters. Elderly residents of Cazin even today vividly recall the crucial role played in the mobilisation by Ale Čović’s, later the main Muslim leader of the 1950 Revolt . This was evidently a crucial moment in the creation of Čović’s undoubted authority among the Muslims after the War. Huska’s army possessed two brigades with eleven battalions divided into troops, platoons and squads, led by a commander-in-chief and a headquarters, and spread “fear and awe” throughout the Cazin Borders. With the blessing and the support of the Ustaše they received arms and medical supplies from the Germans and fought against the Partisans, Šukrija Bijedić goes on to testify in his book. Hakija Pozderac makes different claims: “Huska never fought against the Partisans. He never killed a single Partisan?” . In the second half of 1943 Huska was wavering again, this time due to the Partisans’ major successes, and despite promising the Germans loyalty for months, at the beginning of February 1944 he defected with his army to the Partisans, Š. Bijedić goes on to stress. One of Huska’s demands for defecting to the Partisans was to be one rank higher than major Hamdija Omanović (a well-known Cazin Borders early resistance fighter and Party member), obviously in order to be able to dominate the Muslim fighters in the Partisans. By order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Resistance and the Partisans Josip Broz Tito of 11 November 1945 Huska was promoted to the rank of colonel, testifies Hakija Pozderac . The Headquarters for Croatia formed the Una Operative Group out of Huska’s army with Huska as commandant and sent hundreds of Muslim Partisans to join its ranks for the purposes of political work with Huska. However, the Partisan political officers, obliged to adopt the Militia’s symbols, came up against stiff resistance when attempting to “re-educate” Huska’s militiamen, mainly illiterate Muslims. However, the main problem was the real military position of Huska’s militiamen, as Huska continued to hedge his bets, and following his example so did his officers and soldiers, according to Š. Bijedić, political officer of the Una Operative Group: “in the morning with the Partisans, in the afternoon with the Ustaše.” Despite the enormous authority and power he enjoyed among the Muslims of the Cazin Borders, and perhaps because of it, Huska Miljković was treacherously killed at the end of April 1944 by two of his close supporters, by order of the Germans. The Germans richly rewarded Huska’s killers, and spread propaganda among the population of the Cazin Borders, deeply affected by the loss of their idol, that he had been killed by the Partisans. It was not difficult to disorient the wavering population, and after Huska’s death part of his former Militia, around two hundred men, defected from the Partisans to whom he had led them in February. So was formed the Green Force, the “Greens”, who caused great harm to the local population not only during the War but also for several years afterwards, testifies Mićo Carević, an early Resistance fighter. Even in 1950 they had not been fully eradicated, although no direct link has been established between them and the 1950 rebels. The phenomenon of Huska Miljković and his Muslim Militia as summarised here based on the book by Š. Bijedić and other memoirs, is only included as it contains elements linking it to the 1950 Peasants’ Revolt. These links will become clearer after the detailed presentation of the events of 1950, and concern in particular the following. Firstly, many of Huska’s former militiamen participated in the 1950 Revolt, some later Partisans and some later Ustaše and post-war “Greens”. Secondly, because of the short interval, memories of Huska’s Militia were still fresh. Thirdly, one of the crucial questions in the preparations for the 1950 Revolt was the authority of the leaders, both among the Muslims and among the Serbs. Fourthly, the power of religious continuity can be seen in the idea put forward in the preparations, but never implemented, that Muslims should swear their military oath before the local imam. Lastly but not least, this is in fact a continuation of the specific Borders tradition of lightly taking the decision to take up arms in the pursuit of social interests with little thought to the consequences. Even stronger continuity between Huska’s former Militia and the 1950 Revolt is hampered by the fact that the Bosnian rebels were led by Serbs, although from the ideological and social perspective Serbs and Muslims had the same positions in the Peasants’ Revolt. It would of course be remiss for a historian to equate the Second World War in the Cazin Borders with the phenomenon of Huska Miljković and his militiamen. Although their place and role in the context of WWII in the Cazin Borders and beyond have not yet been properly assessed, perhaps because the context itself has not yet been assessed consistently, it would be inconsistent to fail to stress the obviously enormous significance of the Communists and their sympathisers for the ultimate success of the Resistance in the Cazin Borders. Indeed some of the 1950 rebels, and not just Serbs, became KPJ members during the War. The purpose of emphasising Huska’s role in the War is to show how ethnic and religious considerations were far more weighty in influencing the population than ideological and communist considerations. Without venturing into generalised conclusions on the appearance on the scene of Huska Miljković, as it is not the main subject of this research, his “direct legacy” can nevertheless be considered to be distinctly negative. The activities of the Greens, mainly part of the former Muslim Militia, inflicted great evil on the Cazin Borders both during the War and particularly afterwards. The Greens comprised the worst elements of the local population, notorious Ustaše known to the population as criminals, and unable to desert to the Partisans with Huska because of the amount of blood on their hands. Aided to the end by the Germans and Ustaše, and after the War by renegades in the Borders, they killed respected members of society and robbed villages. After the war they became even worse, bloodthirsty “wild beasts” recalls Mićo Carević, a Party official in Kladuša county in the post-war period, who himself was wounded by a Greens bomb thrown through his window. The post-war Greens fought to the last man, they knew what fate awaited them and lived by the principle “no limits”. Just before the end of the War when there were several hundred of them they moved around in large groups, whereas later due to the more restrictive conditions and in particular due to the systematic “cleaning” of the country by the National Defence (OZN), they had to move in smaller groups. In 1946 most of them were captured and killed. According to OZN data, at the end of 1946 the total of around 1,320 renegades in Bosnia and Herzegovina included 46 Greens, mainly from the Cazin Borders . The assessment at that time of the Bosnian OZN and the B&H Regional Committee of the KPJ that the Greens “will not constitute a serious problem” was not very realistic, considering that in a five-year period they killed over 200 people throughout the Cazin Borders and they had still not been fully destroyed in the summer of 1950, when travellers had to have an armed escort because of possible Green ambushes . However, although it has already been established that there was no link between the remnants of the Greens and the 1950 Revolt which might have indicated a joint assault against the new Yugoslav government, and which would certainly have been discovered by the Secret Service (UDBA) investigation of May 1950, there is one bizarre case suggesting that some tenuous link did exist. This is what happened. On 7 or 8 May 1950 in Vrnograč the Green Suljo Mehurić killed the rebel Alaga Jušić, brother of the notorious Sijano, the leader of a group of Greens in the area of Bužim, Ljubljankić and Todorovo. Sijano himself had been killed in 1946 by the UDBA and exposed on a fence beside the mosque in Todorovo during the religious service for all to see, before being thrown to the dogs. According to the testimony of Hasan Purić, a well-known teacher from Todorovo, Alaga’s motive in joining the rebels in 1950 was this murder and the new authorities’ cruel treatment of his dead brother. Mehurić, once he had killed Alaga, surrendered to the UDBA in the hope of saving his own skin as a Green, and, according to the teacher Purić, was indeed rewarded with a lighter sentence . There were other Greens who also got off lightly. During the second half of the War the Supreme Headquarters of the Resistance and the Partisans issued several appeals offering amnesty to members of the enemy armed forces without “too much” blood on their hands who were ready to defect to the Partisans . It may be that the well-known Huska militiaman and later Green Husein Agić made use of one such appeal. He was found working on the Cazin-Koprivna road in Cazin, where he worked until 1953, by Gojko Jotić, an internal affairs agent in the Cazin county before and after the Revolt . However, no research has been carried out into whether and to what extent members of “enemy armed forces” made use of the amnesty in the Cazin Borders. The question of post-war renegades in general in Yugoslavia has not been systematically researched, with due respect to the personal analyses of various individuals, mainly former UDBA agents. Of course, many other people also remember those tragic events. It is logical that Četnik renegades, by far the most numerous and most dangerous throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, were not present in the Slunj county, but there were diehard “Crusaders”. The then teacher in Kruškovaća, Đuro Zatezalo, recalls for example how the police offered him weapons as late as 1951 to defend himself against possible attacks by Crusaders and Ustaše criminals from the nearby woods .  The purpose of highlighting the problem of renegade groups or “bandits” throughout the period leading up to the Peasants’ Revolt is to indicate the seriousness of the internal security situation at the time when the new political order was being established and in which the country found itself as late as 1950.

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