|“||For king and fatherland; freedom or death.||„|
|~ The Chetnik motto.|
The Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army, commonly known as the Chetniks, also the Yugoslav Army in the Homeland and The Ravna Gora Movement, was a Yugoslav royalist and Serbian nationalist movement in occupied Yugoslavia led by Draža Mihailović, which was anti-Axis in its long-term goals, and engaged in marginal resistance activities for limited periods. They also engaged in tactical or selective collaboration with the occupying forces for almost all of the war. The Mihailović Chetniks were not a homogeneous movement.
The Chetnik movement adopted a policy of collaboration with regard to the Axis, and engaged in cooperation to one degree or another by establishing modus vivendi or operating as "legalised" auxiliary forces under Axis control. Over a period of time, and in different parts of the country, the Chetnik movement was progressively drawn into collaboration agreements: first with the Nedić forces in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, then with the Italians in occupied Dalmatia and Montenegro, with some of the Ustaše forces in northern Bosnia, and, after the Italian capitulation, with the Germans directly.
The Chetniks were active in uprising against the Axis occupiers throughout 1941. Following the success of the Battle of Loznica, Mihailović's Chetniks were the first to liberate a European city from Axis control. Following this, German occupiers enacted Adolf Hitler's formula for suppressing anti-Nazi Party resistance in Eastern Europe, a ratio of 100 hostages executed for every German soldier killed and 50 hostages executed for every soldier wounded.
In October 1941, German soldiers conducted two mass murder campaigns against Serbian civilians in Kraljevo and Kragujevac, with a combined death toll reaching over 4,500 civilians, convincing Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović that killing German troops would only result in further unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Serbs. As a result, he decided to scale back Chetnik guerrilla attacks and wait for an Allied landing in the Balkans. While Chetnik collaboration reached "extensive and systematic" proportions, the Chetniks themselves referred to their policy of collaboration as "using the enemy". Sabrina Ramet, a historian, has observed, "Both the Chetniks' political program and the extent of their collaboration have been amply, even voluminously, documented; it is more than a bit disappointing, thus, that people can still be found who believe that the Chetniks were doing anything besides attempting to realize a vision of an ethnically homogeneous Greater Serbian state, which they intended to advance, in the short run, by a policy of collaboration with the Axis forces".
The Chetniks were partners in the pattern of terrorism and counter-terror that developed in Yugoslavia during World War II. They used terror tactics against Croats in areas where Serbs and Croats were intermixed, against the Muslim population in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Sandžak, and against the Communist-led Yugoslav Partisans and their supporters in all areas. These tactics included the killing of civilians, burning of villages, assassinations and destruction of property and exacerbated existing ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs.
The use of terror tactics against the Croats and the Muslim Bosniaks was a response to attacks on Serbs but was also motivated by traditional animosity and the policy that areas intended to be part of Greater Serbia were to be cleansed of non-Serbs in accordance with Mihailović's directive of 20 December 1941. The terror against the communist Partisans and their supporters was ideologically driven. In terms of Chetnik motives for collaboration, David Bruce MacDonald stated that it is "highly misleading to suggest that Chetniks throughout the war collaborated with the Germans and Italians to carry out genocide of Croats and Muslims."
The Ba Congress held in January 1944 marked a change in the main war objective of Chetniks, instead their initial aim to restore pre-war Yugoslavia as unitary monarchy they accepted Yugoslavia as federal state structure with dominant Serb federal unit.