15.05.

1945: Betrayal in a Castle near Bleiburg

1945: Betrayal in a Castle near Bleiburg
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Memorial in Bleiburg, Austria

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 15 May 1945
  • In a castle near Bleiburg the British officer Patrick Scott on this day in 1945 coldly received the Croatian delegation and let it know that the British will not accept the Croats, and that it is in accordance with the command of the British Field Marshal Harold Alexander and the instructions of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

On this day the tragic events of the 1945 are commemorated, when the British soldiers refused to accept the soldiers of Independent State of Croatia (a German puppet state led by the fascist Ustaše movement) and Croatian civilians, leaving them to be captured by the communist Partisans.

Namely, about ten days earlier, Croatian units and many Croatian civilians had begun to retreat towards Slovenia and Austria in the hope that they would be able to surrender to the British Army and avoid capture by the vengeful Partisans (the Ustaše government was responsible for implementing a policy of racial and national genocide in its state).

After a grueling voyage through Slovenia and numerous side battles, they managed to break through the Austrian border and on 14 May they arrived at Bleiburg field, where they met with a British armored unit of the 5th Corps of the 8th Army.

The British showed them the demarcation line that they can come to but are not allowed to cross.

In the morning on this day, the British informed the Croatian delegates that they will be received by a representative of the British headquarters at 13 hours. The meeting was held in the old castle near Bleiburg.

Generals Ivo Herenčić and Vjekoslav Servatzy and Colonel Crljen arrived as the Croatian delegates. British Brigadier Patrick Scott received them coldly and let them know that the British will not accept the Croats, and that this is in accordance with the command of the British Field Marshal Harold Alexander and the instructions of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

After that, Scott received Partisan representatives, confronted them with the Croatian delegates and asked them to dictate their terms of surrender.

The Partisan conditions were strict – unconditional surrender of the whole army within 1 hour and 20 minutes.

When the Croatian representatives wanted to negotiate the terms, at least to extend the deadline for submission, Colonel Scott interrupted them and warned that British tanks will be at disposal of the partisans.

The Croatian delegation then withdrew and in late afternoon hours the Croatian units surrendered to the partisans.

Partisan retaliation against the prisoners followed, in the form of mass murder without trial and forced marches to prison camps, a crime which can not in any way be denied or justified.

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