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Četnik Movement (Serbia)

Last modified: 2010-01-30 by ivan sache
Keywords: chetnik | skull (white) | crossbones (white) |
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[Flag of Chetnik Movement]

Flag of Četnik Movement - Image by Ivan Sarajčić, 10 February 1999

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History of the Četnik Movement

After the surrender of the Yugoslav royal army in April 1941, Serb soldiers throughout Yugoslavia set up Čete, or "bands," named after armed irregulars who had harrassed the Turks in the 19th century. The most important were those organized in the Ravna Gora district of western Serbia under Colonel Dragoljub (Draza) Mihailović. Mihailović directed his units to avoid large-scale fighting with the Germans (who exacted horrible reprisals for every act of resistance) and to wait for an Allied invasion that would liberate Yugoslavia and restore the monarchy. This cautious strategy soon led the Četniks into open conflict with the Partisans. Even after the Germans drove both forces out of Serbia, many Četniks occasionally joined German, Italian, and Croatian units in operations against their communist rivals. The Allies, who at first considered Mihailović the pillar of the Yugoslav resistance, eventually shifted their support to the Partisans. By the end of the war, the Četnik were greatly reduced in number. Some retreated north to surrender to Anglo-American forces; Mihailović and his few remaining followers tried to fight their way back to the Ravna Gora to continue the anticommunist struggle, but they were beaten and dispersed by the victorious Partisans. In March 1946 Mihailović was captured and brought to Belgrade, where he was tried and executed.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999)

Ivan Sarajčić, 10 February 1999

Četnik flag

The flag used by the Četnik movement is a 2:3 black flag with a white skull and crossbones in the centre. Above and below the skull are arched writings in Cyrillic letters.

Kjell Roll Elgsaas, 7 December 1997

The writings on the flags say:

  • (above the emblem) Za kralja i otadzbinu - For the King and Fatherland
  • (below the emblem) Sloboda ili smrt - Freedom or Death

Ivan Sarajčić, 10 February 1999

Recent use of the Četnik flag

In recent years, Četniks reemerged as the leading power in the war in Croatia and Bosnia. The same flag was seen in many places occupied by them (usually volunteers), the most famous of them being Vukovar in 1992.
Anyway, the flag, and the Četnik movement, is now connected mostly with Seselj, leader of the most rightist party in Serbia, the Serbian Radical Party.

Željko Heimer, 8 December 1997

This is in no way the official flag of any legal movement in Serbia. The Serbian Četnik movement is illegal as a political party, and its founders, Vuk Drasković and Vojislav Seselj, divided into different parties with different flags.

Marko Milivojević, 10 June 1998

M&C News, 24 February 2008, shows a colour photograph (no longer online) captioned:

Demonstrators carry a black lag with a skull during a rally to protest Kosovo's independence from Serbia at the Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria on 24 February 2008. Kosovo's parliament declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008.
EPA/Herbert P. Oczeret

The "black flag with a skull" is indeed a Četnik flag, with a golden fringe. While the writing below the skull and bones reads like on the above image ("Freedom or Death"), the writing above the skull and bones is different, reading sa verom u boga, "With faith in God".

Ivan Sache & Valentin Poposki, 4 March 2008