25.05.

1944: Raid on Drvar with the Aim of Capturing or Killing Tito

1944: Raid on Drvar with the Aim of Capturing or Killing Tito
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Marshal Josip Broz Tito (far right) with his cabinet and principal staff officers in Drvar, days before the offensive (14 May 1944)

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 25 May 1944
  • The Germans organized a large force of about 40,000 troops. They wanted to capture not only Tito, but the entire Partisan Supreme HQ and members of the Allied (British, American, and Soviet) missions.

On this day in World War II, about 900 German paratroopers landed near Drvar, the center of Partisan Supreme Headquarters, with the aim of capturing or liquidating Josip Broz Tito and his associates.

On that day fell Tito’s official birthday (which was later also celebrated in Yugoslavia as the Day of Youth), so the Partisan units were in a somewhat casual mood. The German landing caught them unprepared. The broad-based German operation was codenamed Rösselsprung (German for “Knight’s Move”) and encompassed the entire area around Drvar. The Germans employed a large force of about 40,000 troops.

They wanted to capture not only Tito, but the entire Partisan Supreme HQ and members of the Allied (British, American, and Soviet) missions. Despite the surprise, the Partisans offered strong resistance.

Later, the action of the 6th Lika Partisan Division, whose members, in want of motorized transport, came running to the aid of Drvar from twenty kilometers away, became legendary. That is how a local song, “When there was the Battle of Drvar, the sixth Lika (Division) saved the Marshal” came to be.

Although the Germans managed to enter Drvar the next day (May 26), Tito and his associates managed to escape, and ten days later they took off from Kupres field by plane and went to the Italian Bari. From there he then went to Vis by boat.

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