Operation Fruška Gora

(Yugoslav mountain area)

This was a German, Croat and Hungarian operation against the partisan forces of Josip Broz Tito in the puppet state of Croatia in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (20/30 August 1942).

The undertaking’s objective was the pin and destroy some 2,000 partisans (including the ‘Fruškogorski’ and ‘Podunavski’ Partisan Detachments with a strength of 460 men) in the Fruška mountain region in Syrmia. The German contribution to the operation was elements of Generalleutnant Hans Juppe’s 704th Division, elements of Generalleutnant Friedrich Stahl’s 714th Division, elements of Generalleutnant Dr Walter Hinghofer’s 717th Division, elements of the 521st Nachrichtenregiment, and elements of the 12th Panzerkompanie; that of the Croats the 2 and 3/4th Regiment, 13th and 14th Companies/4th Regiment, 16th Ustaše Battalion, 10 independent infantry platoons, 2.5 howitzer batteries, one mountain gun battery, and one air force cadet battalion of 500 men from Petrovaradin; and that of Hungary the Danube Flotilla of four river monitors.

In July and August the partisan units in Syrmia had attacked many Axis garrisons, ambushed patrols, burned crops, and even managed to create a liberated area in the Fruška mountain region to the south-west of Novi Sad. ‘Fruška gora’ to clear the area was supervised by Generalmajor Heinrich Borowski’s Kampfgruppe ‘Borowski’, which had been moved into the area after ‘West-Bosnien’. Orders were issued that all partisan prisoners were to be shot, all other males between 17 and 50 were to be arrested and taken to the detention camp in Zemun.

The main attack began on 24 August and, according to partisan accounts, over the next week the Axis force killed 6,000 people and arrested and mistreated another 10,000. No quarter was given to those caught with weapons or who offered the slightest resistance, and there were several atrocities.