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AVNOJ (Antifašističko Vijeće Narodnog Oslobođenja Jugoslavije, standing for "Anti-Fascist Council for the People's Liberation of Yugoslaviamarker") was the political umbrella organization for the national liberation councils of Yugoslavia. The AVNOJ was established on November 26, 1942 to administer terrorities under the Partisans' control. It was under the political leadership of the main resistance forces of Yugoslavia, during the Axis occupation of World War II.

First Session of the AVNOJ

The building where AVNOJ met for the second time in Jajce.
Picture taken in the summer of 2005.

After the Yugoslavian army capitulated on April 17, 1941, Yugoslavia was distributed between Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and the newly formed puppet states: Independent State of Croatiamarker , Independent State of Montenegromarker, Albanian Kingdom and Nedić Serbia. Opposition to these occupation regimes caused the formation of resistance movements, resulting in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY), then only active in the underground but fast gaining popularity, assuming the role of leading the forces in the Yugoslavian resistance. The CPY as an organisation comprised people from, and drew support from, the whole of Yugoslavia; as such, it represented a single Yugoslav identity.

On November 26, 1942, the Partisan leaders of Yugoslavia convened the first AVNOJ meeting at Bihaćmarker, in the northwest of Bosniamarker, in the hope of gaining political legitimacy. Comprising a committee of both the communist and non-communist Partisan representatives, under Josip Broz Tito, AVNOJ proclaimed support for:

In January 1943, Germany mounted a fourth large-scale anti-partisan offensive to strengthen its control of Yugoslavia by destroying the central command of the Partisan movement – the Central Committee of the CPY – and the primary Partisan hospital. The Partisans, outnumbered and engaged in major battles with the Chetnik formations of Colonel Draža Mihajlović, Ustasha militias and the combined German and Italian regular forces, were steadily forced into retreat until an elaborate deception plan allowed the Partisans to escape their pursuers. Despite the tactical defeat and the loss of men and equipment, the Partisan central command remained intact and the hospital safe which, over time, enabled the continuation of further operations against the enemy. All the major strategic military offensives of the Axis and their collaborators were ultimately thwarted.

In May of the same year, German, Italian, Bulgarian and Croatian troops launched a fifth concerted offensive against the Partisans in south eastern Bosnia, near the Sutjeska river. Again, faced by superior enemy numbers and potential encirclement, the Partisans escaped defeat but not without cost. However, the fact that after their successful breakout the Partisans were still able to mount major counter offensives proved to be a turning point in the battle for control of Yugoslavia. When Italy surrendered in September, the Partisans were further aided by captured Italian armour, control of additional coastal territory, and the shipment of supplies from the Allies in Italy.

Second Session of the AVNOJ

In its second AVNOJ conference in the Bosnianmarker town of Jajce, from November 21 to November 29, 1943, Tito declared AVNOJ to be the superior executive authority. The decisions and the resolutions of the second AVNOJ conference were:

Stalin, the Sovietmarker leader, was enraged when he found out that he was not being informed of the November meeting, and reportedly barred Tito from declaring AVNOJ as a provisional government. The Western Allies, however, were not alarmed, because they knew that the Partisans were the only Yugoslav resistance group actively fighting the Germans.

In December 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin decided to support the Partisans. The United Kingdommarker joined a month later, and stopped supplying the Chetniks. The first Soviet mission arrived at Partisan headquarters, shortly thereafter. The United Statesmarker kept a military mission with Mihajlović to encourage continued Chetnik aid for downed American fliers.

In May 1944, German airborne forces attacked Tito's headquarters in Drvar, nearly capturing him. Tito fled to Italy, and established a new headquarters on the Adriaticmarker island of Vismarker. After throwing its full support to the Partisans, Britain worked to reconcile Tito and Petar. At Britain's urging, Petar agreed to remain outside Yugoslavia, and in September, summoned all Yugoslavs to back the Partisans.

See also


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