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Operation Kopaonik
Part of World War II
File:Brzecka reka.JPG
Date 12 to 20 October 1942
Location Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia
Result Chetnik free territory captured; failure to destroy Rasina Corps
Belligerents
22x20px Chetniks
  • Rasina Corps
Commanders and leaders
22x20px Dragutin Keserović 22x20px Artur Phleps
Casualties and losses
  • 10 killed
  • 120 captured
  • 670 civilians killed
  • 2 German soldiers killed
  • 5 Bulgarian soldiers killed

Operation Kopaonik is the code name for the German-Bulgarian anti-guerrilla offensive against the Chetniks at the Kopaonik, Goč, and Jastrebac Mountains in October 1942, in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia in the Second World War. The Germans launched an offensive aimed at total destruction of the Rasina Corps of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, commanded by Major Dragutin Keserović, whose headquarters was located in the village of Kriva Reka. Germans and Bulgarians cleared the Chetnik free territory and in the process committed war crimes against the Serbian civilian population. The Chetniks successfully withdrew from the German-Bulgarian ring to territory that was beyond the reach of the occupation forces.[1]

Background

Major Dragutin Keserović, with his Rasina Corps, had created a free territory at the Kopaonik, Goč, and Jastrebac Mountains. Keserović and his troops had been participating in military operations against the Bulgarians and Germans for the previous year. Keserović was a brave and popular commander who kept an iron discipline in his units. The Chetniks were a threat to the Germans because they were able to break the German road communications and interfere with the movement of war materiel—intended for Rommel′s forces on the African front—through the MoravaVardar valley. Losses were inflicted on Keserovićev′s detachments and the local population by the constantly pursuing enemy forces. The Germans, worried about a potential attack on the Trepča mine near Kosovska Mitrovica, from which they pulled significant amounts of lead and zinc,[2] decided in the spring of 1942 to launch an attack involving some 20,000 soldiers.

The offensive

The 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division "Prinz Eugen" was founded in March 1942, and numbered over 20,000 soldiers placed under the command of General Artur Phleps. In early October 1942 the division was deployed in southwestern Serbia, in Kraljevo, Užice, Ivanjica, Čačak, Raška, Kosovska Mitrovica, and Novi Pazar.[3] Elements of the 9th Bulgarian Infantry Division were also assigned to the attack. The Rasina Corps, commanded by Kesererović, were deployed in Kopaonik, Jastrebac, and Goč, with their headquarters in the village of Kriva Reka. The Rasina Corps at that time had about 1,500 fighters under arms.

On 5 October 1942 Phleps ordered the German and Bulgarian forces to destroy the Chetnik forces.[3] A comprehensive attack was planned: 20,000 well-armed and fully trained German troops would encircle the Serbians from four directions using a precisely defined plan of fire. Because of the perceived importance of this operation and to observe the first military operations of the newly established SS Division "Prinz Eugen",[3] Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler travelled to Kraljevo in the German occupation zone. Himmler was in Kraljevo from 15 to 18 October 1942 and toured the Ceremonial Unit 7th SS Division.[1]

German and Bulgarian forces began their attack on the Chetnik territory at dawn on 12 October 1942.[3] As planned, the attack proceeded from four directions. German combat group "North" marched to the top of Željin, and a secondary group to the top of Kavalj. Combat group "South" conducted a comprehensive movement in the area around Gobelja, located 17 km northwest of Raška. Combat group "West" concentrated its forces in the valley 5 km from Banje. Combat group "East" took a position west of Brus. Germans and Bulgarians made a ring around the Chetnik territory and forced the peasants into hiding.

German combat groups "North", "West", and "South" proceeded along a front through the Chetnik territory in the direction of combat group "East", which was assigned the role of forming a wall to stop the Chetniks. However, Major Keserović had intelligence about the preparations and the movement of large German forces for an attack, and did not consider it useful to meet the German and Bulgarian forces on a wide front. He ordered his units to regroup into smaller squads for easy maneuvering and penetration. His tactic meant the Chetniks Rasina Corps were able to escape from the ring of enemy soldiers. The Germans and Bulgarians committed reprisals against the civilian population, burning several villages and committing war crimes against the Serbian rural population. The village of Kriva Reka, the location of Keserović's headquarters, suffered the most: 120 civilians were locked in the village church and burned to death by members of the 7th SS Division.[1] In other villages in Kopaonik 300 civilians were killed; in the villages on Mount Goč 250 civilians were executed. The Germans killed a total of 670 civilians during this operation.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Samardžić, Miloslav: General Draža Mihailović and general history of the Chetnik movement, volume I, Kragujevac 1996.
  2. Avakumović, Jovan: Mihailović according to German documents, Naše Delo, London, 1969.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Otto Kumm: Vorwärts Prinz Eugen! Geschichte der 7.SS-Freiwilligen Gebirgs Division „Prinz Eugen”. Munin-Verlag, Osnabrück 1978. Neuauflage Winkelried-Verlag, Dresden 2007, ISBN 978-3-938392-13-3


Yugoslav Front
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Operation Kopaonik, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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bg:Операция Копаоник sr:Операција Копаоник sh:Operacija Kopaonik

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Operation Kopaonik, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Author(s): PRODUCER Search for "Operation Kopaonik" on Google
View Wikipedia's deletion log of "Operation Kopaonik"
Wikipedia-logo-v2

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