Chetniks of Kosta Milovanović-Pećanac (Pechanatz)
In the difficult days after the collapse of the country, many Serbs viewed in prewar chetnik association and in its president from 1932 Kosta Pećanac, force which will start action against enemy who occupied country. They never had a doubt in his patriotism, although they admitted that he was controversial and reactionary person. Some time before invasion, Yugoslav Ministry of Army and Navy requested from Pećanac to form guerilla operation in Southern parts of Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo, probably with the goal of controlling pro-Bulgarian and pro-Albanian population of those parts. He was supplied with certain amount of weapons and money and he managed to organize and arm several hundred men concentrated in the valley of river Toplica in South Serbia. This army remained intact after German occupation of Serbia, and its ranks were filled by refuges from Macedonia and Kosovo. It seems that there was some conflicts between these detachments and Albanian groups in the beginning of the summer 1941, at the moment when Mihailović, still unknown to the most of Serbian population, organized his forces at Ravna Gora. In the early days of the occupation and for considerable time later, term "četnik (chetnik)" was identified only to detachments of Kosta Pećanac which were much better known then Dražinovaca, Draža's men.
Pećanac was absolute ruler of his detachments. His generals or vojvoda he picked himself. Most of them where former officer (and one general), peasants, orthodox priest, teachers and traders - people with political gift or experience. Organization structure was most simple. Although Pećanac's detachments enjoyed certain reputation and during first three months attracted more people then normal it seems they only fought Albanian groups. With the appearance of communist lead partisans, Pećanac decided to give up any idea of becoming resistance force and by the end of August made an agreement with Serbian Quisling government and German occupation authorities to turn his detachments against the partisans. In other words in time of five months chetniks organization of Koste Pećanac become instrument of occupation regime.
This new role demanded stronger organization and equipment, weapons, money for pays etc. Need where experienced officer and for liaison and coordination German officer was given to Pećanac staff. On October 7th 1941, Pećanac in lengthy latter to General Nedić presenting his demands of which most where fulfilled, letter also contains remark "I cannot understand follower of colonel Mihailović and there organization, because they joined up with communists, what will cost them there lives, Mihailović thinks he can outwit communist, but his badly mistaking". According to German records, on January 17th 1942 Gendarmerie command of Serbian quisling government supported (giving food and cloth, arming and paying) 72 chetnik officer and 7963 soldiers. This little less then authorized strength of 8745 men and in that number are probably included two or three thousand Mihailović chetniks which legalized themselves from November 1941.
On August 18th 1941, at the time when Pećanac is about make agreement with Germans, one Mihailović emissary brought letter to Pećanac in which Mihailović suggest agreement by which Pećanac would control chetnik organization south of Zapadna Morava river, while Mihailović would control all other areas. Pećanac wasn't interested and hinted to Mihailović he might offer him position as his chief of staff, also Mihailović should disband his detachments and transfer men to Pećanac detachments. Pećanac, on August 27th, in the form of "Manifest to dear people" sent open challenge. In manifest he described himself as defender and protector of Serbian people and called "certain, without my permission formed detachments" (obvious hint at Mihailović detachments) to unite under his command. All those which are in forests are to immediately, under threat of death punishment, return to there homes. He warned that all those committing acts of sabotage against public buildings and communications and anything else which belongs to occupation authorities will be sentenced to death.
Pećanac voluntarily was tool of Germans and he curry favour with them, suggesting, for example, on one occasion that anti-partisan measures should be made harsher and expressing opinion which even Germans thought to be extreme. At the same meeting he told Germans that his commanders made contact with Italians at Albanian border and received some weapons from them - which was confirmed by Italian liaison officer at German occupation forces in Serbia in the beginning of December 1941. Subject of this conversations between Pećanac representatives and Italians was possible Pećanac's help in fighting communists in Italians parts of Sandžak. But for Axis, his career of chetnik leader soon come to end. Germans soon found out that his army of over 8,000 men was inefficient and unreliable and that is little help to them in military terms; by March 1943 they've completely disband it, just as Mihailović's legalized chetniks. About Pećanac activities in the following months nothing is known, for some time he was interned by Serbian quisling authorities, to be executed in June 1944 by chetniks of Draža Mihailović.
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