In March 1941, The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was in a dire position. Hitler was insisting that the country join the Tripartite Pact, as it served as an important crossroad between East and West.
On top of that the country, located in the heart of the Balkans, was an inevitable route towards Greece. On March 25th, the Regent of Yugoslavia, Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact. Surrounded by the member states of the Pact – Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, the signing of the pact was largely considered as forced.
Nevertheless, mass demonstrations against the Pact occurred immediately after the signing, as the people of Yugoslavia together with the Royal Army refused to join the Axis. On the day the news broke out that Yugoslavia had joined the Tripartite Pact, a retired district chief of the municipality of Paracin in Serbia, Svetolik Dragacevac, sent a letter addressed to the NSDAP headquarters in Berlin:
Translation of the letter:
To Adolf Hitler
The string of justice has been interrupted. Greed and brute force now rule. The big oppress the small and in their arrogance, they know no God. Bloodthirsty Hitler hurries, so that there is not a single field on the globe left unsown with misery and despair. Our troubled Fatherland is no exception. We give you our honest hand, but you want our heart. In your need to oppress and conquer you step on that what has been throughout centuries of history spent in enslavement our dearest: you step on our freedom and honor, you step on our pride.
To you, Hitler, Son of Cain, we, children of glorious fathers and grandfathers, shout – enough! If you do not listen to us, you will face our strong fists. We will spill your blood and with the foot of a dragon, we will step on you until you lay dead. Remember that we just might be the ones God sent to deliver you retribution for all of your crimes. Remember that.
Signed by Svetolik Dragacevac, retired district chief of Paracin
Two days after the pact was signed, a coup d’etat occurred, supported by the Allies. Hitler was outraged because of this turn of events stating that he “will destroy Yugoslavia, militarily and as a state”. Hitler launched an assault without a declaration of war.
On April 6, Luftwaffe commenced bombardment of civilian and military targets, attacking the capital city, Belgrade, and the airports of the Yugoslav Royal Air Force.
After the aerial assault, the country was invaded by Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, and subsequently defeated by April 18. Less than a month after the letter was sent, a reply came, but not to the person who sent it:
From: The Head Office of the Security of the Reich
Berlin, 16 May 1941.
To: Police Security Service (SD) of the Einsatzkommando (Operational Group) in Belgrade
The Fuhrer of the NSDAP sends an attached letter of the above-mentioned retired district chief together with the translated version. The letter contains cruel insults and accusations against the Fuhrer. We request that you do what is necessary against the author of the letter and to report to us in case that his arrest goes as planned.
By order of:
Batz (Possibly Rudolph Batz, the SS-Standartenfuhrer)
Svetolik Dragacevac was arrested and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he died on January 14, 1942. It is stated that he died of consequences of the inflammation of the abdominal cavity.
Dragacevac was the first man to be arrested in the town of Paracin, on 9th of April, 1941. The warrant for his arrest was made on the request of the central offices of NSDAP, which was out of the ordinary, considering that the Nazi Party rarely ever directly participated in such cases.
His whereabouts were tipped off by Joseph Paulus, a weaver of German descent, residing in Paracin. Paulus, who was a Nazi collaborator, was named the mayor of Paracin instead of Dragacevac, as a reward for his help.