|Prime Minister of the Government of National Salvation|
29 August 1941 - 4 October 1944
|Minister of Interior of the Government of National Salvation|
5 November 1943 - 4 October 1944
|Minister of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia|
26 August 1939 - 6 November 1940
|Petar Pe?i? (acting)|
|Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Yugoslav Armed Forces|
1 June 1934 - 9 March 1935
|Petar Kosi? (acting)|
|Petar Kosi? (acting)|
|Born||2 September 1878|
|Died||4 February 1946 (aged 67)|
Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
|Cause of death||Suicide by jumping|
|Relatives||Milutin Nedi? (brother)|
Dimitrije Ljoti? (cousin)
|Alma mater||Military Academy|
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of Serbia (1904-1918)|
Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941)
|Branch/service||Royal Serbian Army|
Royal Yugoslav Army
|Years of service||1904-1941|
|Rank||Army general (Kingdom of Yugoslavia)|
|Commands||3rd Army Group|
|Awards||Albanian Commemorative Medal|
Milan Nedi? (Serbian Cyrillic: ; 2 September 1878 - 4 February 1946) was a Yugoslav and Serbian army general and politician who served as the Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Yugoslav Army, Minister of War in the Royal Yugoslav Government. During World War II, he collaborated with the Germans and served as the Prime Minister of a puppet government, the Government of National Salvation, in the German occupied territory of Serbia. After the war, the Yugoslav communist authorities imprisoned him. In 1946, they reported that he had committed suicide by jumping out of a prison window.
Milan Nedi? was born in the Belgrade suburb of Grocka on 2 September 1878 to ?or?e and Pelagia Nedi?. His father was a local district chief and his mother was a teacher from a village near Mount Kosmaj. She was the granddaughter of Nikola Mihailovi?, who was mentioned in the writings of poet Sima Milutinovi? Sarajlija and was an ally of Serbian revolutionary leader Kara?or?e. The Nedi? family was originally from the village of Zaoka, near Lazarevac. It traced its origins to two brothers, Damjan and Gligorije, who defended the ?oke?ina Monastery from the Turks during the Serbian Revolution. The family received its name from Nedi?'s great-grandmother, Neda, who was a member of the Vasojevi?i tribe in Montenegro.
Nedi? finished gymnasium in Kragujevac in 1895 and entered the lower level of the Military Academy in Belgrade that year. In 1904, he completed the upper level of the academy, then the General Staff preparatory, and was commissioned into the Serbian Army. In 1910, he was promoted to the rank of major. He fought with the Serbian Army during the Balkan Wars, and received multiple decorations for bravery. In 1913, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served with the Serbian Army during World War I and was involved in rearguard actions during its retreat through Albania in the winter of 1915. That year, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. At 38, he was the youngest colonel in the Serbian General Staff. He was appointed ordnance officer to King Peter in 1916. Towards the end of the war, Nedi? was given command of an infantry brigade of the Timok Division.
Nedi? remained a brigade commander within the Timok Division until the end of 1918 and served as the 3rd Army chief of staff. Beginning in 1919, he also served as the de facto head of the 4th Army District in Croatia because its nominal commander, General Bo?idar Jankovi?, was old and infirm. Nedi?'s cousin, Dimitrije Ljoti?, and their mutual friend Stanislav Krakov, also served in the 4th Army District and were commanded by Nedi?. When the Royal Yugoslav Army (Serbo-Croatian Latin: Vojska Kraljevine Jugoslavije, VKJ) was formed in 1919 he was absorbed into the army at the same rank. He was promoted to Divizijski ?eneral in 1923, and subsequently commanded a division then was Secretary-General of the Committee of National Defence. In 1930, Nedi? was promoted to the rank of Armijski ?eneral,[a] and assumed command of the 3rd Army in Skoplje. Nedi? was appointed Chief of the General Staff in June 1934, and held this position until the following year, when he became the third member of the Military Council, probably because of his strained relations with the Minister for the Army and Navy, Petar ?ivkovi?. At the time, British diplomatic staff observed that he was "somewhat slow-thinking and obstinate". On 13 August 1939, Nedi? was appointed Minister of the Army and Navy as part of the Cvetkovi?-Ma?ek Agreement. Ljoti? later assisted the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Central Office, RSHA) in establishing contacts with him. He also exploited the connections he had with Nedi? to ensure that the banned Zbor-published journal Bilten (Bulletin) was distributed to members of the VKJ. The journal was published illegally in a military printing house and distributed throughout Yugoslavia by military couriers.
Because of his disapproval of a potential participation in the war against Adolf Hitler's Germany, Nedi? was dismissed on 6 November 1940 by regent Paul. This was most likely out of unease with Nazi Germany's ally, Fascist Italy which at the time harboured the Croatian extreme nationalist Ustashe leader Ante Paveli? in exile in Rome, and because of the rhetoric of some Italian fascists in the past such as the late Gabriele D'Annunzio, who were violently opposed to a Yugoslav state. Nedi? welcomed the coup of 1941 which deposed the pro-Axis regime, and fought for Yugoslavia in the German-led Axis invasion that followed.
Wehrmacht commander Heinrich Danckelmann decided to entrust Nedi? with the administration of German-occupied territory of Serbia in order to pacify Serb resistance. Not long before, Nedi? had lost his only son and pregnant daughter in law in a munitions explosion in Smederevo, in which several thousands died. He accepted the post of the prime minister in the government called the Government of National Salvation, on 29 August 1941. At the same time mass imprisonment of the Jews started where police and gendarmerie of quisling government under Nedi? assisted the Germans in arresting the Jews.
On 1 September 1941 Nedi? made a speech on Radio Belgrade in which he declared the intent of his administration to "save the core of the Serbian people" by accepting the occupation of Germany in the area of Sumadija, Drina Valley, Pomoravlje and Banat. He also spoke against organizing resistance to the occupying forces. His state's propaganda was funded by Germany and promoted anti-Semitism and anti-communism, particularly linking these up with anti-masonry. In his speeches he uses terms such as "Communist-Jewish rabble" and "Communist-Masonic-Jewish-English mafia". In March 1942, Nedi? established the Serbian State Guard (Srpska dr?avna stra?a) who together with the Gestapo participated in the guarding of the Banjica concentration camp, and were responsible for the killings of inmates, including children. In October 1943, the State Guard came under control of the SS. Its members were also engaged in the execution of captured Partisans.
The puppet government under Nedi? accepted many refugees mostly of Serbian descent. The civil war unleashed by German occupation in Serbia was the cause of losing more lives than German terror. In total, between 141,000 and 167,000 people died in Serbia of war-related causes. These deaths included 34,000 killed by the Germans and their Serb helpers, 46,000 deaths in prisons and camps, and 33,000 Chetnik and 42,000 Partisan combatants. At least 300,000 people were deported from Serbia or held in prisons and concentration camps. German reprisals demanded that 100 Serbs be killed for each killed German soldier and 50 for each wounded German soldier, as in the Kragujevac massacre. Nedi? implemented Hitler's anti Semitic policies and Belgrade became the first city in Europe to be declared Judenfrei ("clean of Jews") while Serbia itself was declared as such in August 1942. Nedi? also secretly diverted money and arms from his government to the Chetniks. The military forces of Ljoti? and Nedi? together with the Wehrmacht participated in anti-Communist operations. In the 1942 Christmas address, he announced that "the old world, which had destroyed our state, is over and replaced by the new one. This new world will elevate Serbia to its rightful and honorable place in the new Europe; under the new leadership (of Germany) we look courageously into the future". In 1942 he outlined a memo of his vision of Great Serbia in which Bosnia-Herzegovina, Srijem, and Dalmatia are within Serbia's borders with local population replaced by Serbian settlers. On 28 February 1943, the commanding general in Serbia reduced the reprisal orders to 50 hostages for each German soldier, armed forces employee, civilian or Bulgarian soldier killed, and 25 for each German or Bulgarian wounded. Nedi? was received by Adolf Hitler in September 1943 when they talked about security and order in the occupied territory. Nedi?'s Ministry of Education, Ljoti? and the intellectuals from the Zbor prepared Serbia and its youth by changing the education system in order to prepare the society for Hitler's New Europe, in which anti-Semitism and anti-Communism were integral parts of the new ideological framework.
On 4 October 1944, with the successes of the Yugoslav Partisans and their onslaught on Belgrade, Nedi?'s puppet government was disbanded, and on 6 October Nedi? fled from Belgrade to Kitzbühel, Austria (then annexed to Germany) where he took refuge with the occupying British. On 1 January 1946, the British forces handed him over to the Yugoslav Partisans.
He was incarcerated in Belgrade on charges of treason. On 4 February 1946, it is believed that Nedi? either jumped out of the window of the Belgrade hospital where he was being detained or that he was pushed out to his death. According to official records, he committed suicide by jumping through the window.
Recently, Miodrag Mladenovi?, a former officer with of the Yugoslavian OZNA, said that on 4 February 1946, he received an order to pick up a dead body at Zmaj Jovina street, where the prison was located at the time. When he arrived there, the body was already wrapped in a blanket and rigor mortis had already set in. Following the orders given to him, he took the body to the cemetery where it was buried in an unusually deep grave. He never attempted to see the face of the person that he was carrying, but the day after, he read in the news that Nedi? had committed suicide by jumping through the prison window at Zmaj Jovina street.
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After 2000, revisionists' demands for the rehabilitation of Milan Nedi? began. Nedi?'s portrait was included among those of Serbian prime ministers in the building of the Government of Serbia. In 2008, the Minister of Interior and Deputy PM Ivica Da?i? removed the portrait after neo-Nazi marches were announced in the country. Revisionist interpretations required that Nedi?'s collaboration with the occupying forces and responsibility for the execution of Jews under his rule be obscured, in order to remember him as the "savior of the Serbian people".
On 11 July 2018, The Higher Serbian Court in Belgrade rejected an application to rehabilitate the quisling Prime Minister of occupied Serbia during World War II, Milan Nedi?. During the rehabilitation trial, historian Bojan Dimitrijevic from the Institute for Contemporary Serbian History claimed, based on archived documents, that Nedi? was not directly involved in the persecution and killing of Jews. According to Dimitrijevic, Nedi?'s administration only registered Jews and gave them fake Serbian documents while the Germans rounded them up and performed all the executions.
During the Milo?evic era, the regime and some Serb historians found it extremely important to win over eminent Yugoslav Jewish organizations and individuals for the idea of the joint Serbo-Jewish martyrdom. To accomplish it, Serbia had to falsify history by obscuring the fact that the Serb quislings Milan Nedic and Dimitrije Ljotic ? had cleansed Serbia of its sizeable Jewish population by deportations of Jews to East European concentration camps or killing them in Serbia. In 1995, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts published a volume entitled 100 Outstanding Serbs and included Nedi? on the list. The minor Serbian Liberal Party attempted to promote his rehabilitation as an anti-Nazi, who did his best in an impossible situation, sparking controversy in Serbia.
Other opinions claim that it was Nedi?'s role to protect Serbs from further executions in NDH and by Germans in Serbia by aiding in the persecution of Jews. Among other things, his regime confiscated and sold the property of Jews after they were executed by Germans, who were not interested in buying the homes and lands of Jews in Serbia.
According to historian and President of the Jewish community in Belgrade, Ja?a Almuli, one of the major reasons behind the killing of 11,000 Jews in Serbia by Germans was through reprisals for resistance against Germans in occupied Serbia and that Jews were killed for the same reasons as Serbs: to fulfill Hitler's quota towards Serbs and Serbia: for a wounded soldier to kill 50 and for a dead German soldier to kill 100 people. For that reason, together with Serbs and Gypsies, about 5000 Jews were shot. German SS General Harald Turner was the main culprit behind the shooting of Jews in occupied Serbia.
According to Philip J. Cohen, in Nedi?'s Serbia about 15,000 Jews perished or 94% of Serbian Jews. According to Jelena Suboti?, 27,000 Jews out of 33,500 in pre-occupied Serbia were killed in the Holocaust, and another 1,000 from central Europe, mostly from Czechoslovakia and Austria. Of the approximately 17,000 Jews who resided in German-occupied Serbia, 82% of them were killed early on, including 11,000 Belgrade Jews.
The 1993 book "One Hundred Greatest Serbs" published by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts included an entry on Nedi? in which its editor, the historian Dejan Medakovi?, claimed that Nedi? was "one of the most tragic figures in Serbian history" whose collaboration saved "a million Serbian lives". Patriarch Pavle held a memorial service for Nedi? in 1994, during which he justified his collaboration with Nazi Germany on the grounds that it was "the only way to save the Serbian people from the revenge of the occupiers". Similarly, the publisher of a 2002 secondary school history textbook, Neboj?a Jovanovi?, told the daily Politika that collaboration with the Nazis was a way of preserving the 'biological substance of the Serbian people".
| Chief of the General Staff of Royal Yugoslav Army
1934 – 1935
| Minister of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
| President of the Ministerial Council of the Serbian Government of National Salvation
1941 – 1944