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Petar Drapšin (November 15, 1914 - December 2, 1945) was a Yugoslav Partisan commander.

Petar Drapšin was born in a family of farmers in Turijamarker, near Srbobranmarker. He was in Belgrademarker high school when he got in touch with Communists through school's literary group. He joined SKOJ and in 1937 he went to study in Praguemarker. Soon after that he went to fight in Spanish Civil War on Republican side. He excelled in combat, earning the rank of Captain in the process. After the end of Spanish Republic he was interned in Francemarker. From there he escaped to Zagrebmarker in 1939.

In 1941, following Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, he was entrusted by CPY to organise armed uprising in Herzegovina. His conduct later got him sharp criticism from Party leadership but in 1943 he received a second chance. In January 1943 he was appointed for commander of 1st Slavonian Division of Yugoslav National Liberation Army (YNLA). Two months later he received a rank of Major General. In May 1944 he became commander of 6th Corps of YNLA. In Summer of 1944 Drapšin became deputy commander of NOVH (Croatian National Liberation Army), Croatian branch of YNLA.

In December 1944 Drapšin was sent to Dalmatia to command 8th Corps of YNLA. In January 1945 he received the rank of Lieutenant General. Units under his command halted German offensive in Dalmatian hinterland in January 1945 and liberated Herzegovina during Mostar Operation.

Soon after that 8th Corps was transformed into 4th Army, which began offensive against remaining Axis forces in Yugoslavia in late March 1945. Despite difficult terrain and need for complicated amphibious operation, Drapšin's force scored spectacular success by piercing through enemy lines in Likamarker, defeating German forces in Battle of Rijeka, landing in Istriamarker and entering Triestemarker before Allied forces. This Partisan offensive was arguably the most important in the history of Yugoslavia, because it allowed Istria, Rijekamarker and Maritime Sloveniamarker to become part of SFR Yugoslaviamarker, later Croatiamarker and Slovenia.

After the war Drapšin was elected in Yugoslav National Assembly.

There are contradictory accounts about his death. Official version attributes cause of death to accidentally discharged pistol. Other stories tell about Drapšin being criticised on Party meeting and committing suicide afterwards. In 1953 he posthumously received title of People's Hero of Yugoslavia.

Alleged involvement in war crimes

Savo Skoko (born 1923), historian who fought on the Partisan side during World War II, hailing from Jugovići village near Gackomarker compiled a book of documents and first hand accounts titled Krvavo kolo hercegovačko 1941-1942. Published in Podgorica in 1995, the book details crimes committed by the members of People's Liberation Movement against civilians in the Herzegovina region during World War II.

Petar Drapšin is mentioned as the organizer and perpetrator of a series of such crimes. After complaints within the revolutionary movement that the communists in Herzegovina are soft on "class enemies", various prominent war-tested communist leaders including Sava Kovačević and Drapšin were sent there in late 1941 and early 1942. As the commanding officers of the First Striking Battalion (Prvi udarni bataljon), their men executed 21 local villagers on February 27, 1942 on Radački brijeg. On March 3rd and 4th, an even bigger crime occurred when they rounded up and executed a total of 41 people from the villages of Golobrđe, Divljakuša, and Meka Gruda. To strengthen the psychological effect on the rest of the villagers they then proceeded to completely dehumanize their victims by dancing and celebrating around their corpses while the family members wailed.

In the book, Skoko describes Drapšin as a "psychologically unstable person whose condition bordered on complete insanity". Skoko also disputes the official communist version of Drapšin's death and claims that he committed suicide.

References

  1. Krvavo kolo hercegovacko 1941-1942 at Amazon.com
  2. Zločini komunista, Press, April 5, 2009
  3. Zločini komunista, Press, April 5, 2009



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