Operation Tuzla II

(Yugoslav town)

'Tuzla II' was a German and Croat operation against the partisan forces of Josip Broz Tito in the puppet state of Croatia in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (17/20 December 1942).

The undertaking was designed to destroy partisan groups totalling an estimated 1,000 men of the 6th 'East Bosnia' Brigade, 3rd Detachment of the 3rd Operations Zone, and 'Majevički' Partisan Detachment in the Majevica mountain region to the north of Tuzla in eastern Bosnia. The German force was based on elements of the 738th Grenadierregiment of Generalleutnant Johann Fortner’s 718th Division, 717th Grenadierregiment and 749th Grenadierregiment of Generalleutnant Benignus Dippold’s 717th Division, and divisional support components of the 718th Division, while the Croat force was based on the regimental staffs of the 6th and 8th Regiments, 1 and 5/3rd Regiment, 3/6th Regiment, 4 and 5/8th Regiment, elements of the 6th and 7th Artillery Groups, and two battalions of Ustase Pukovnik Ivo Stipković's 1st Ustase Brigade.

Under the command of Oberst Gustav Suschnig, commander of the 738th Grenadierregiment, the Axis Kampfgruppe assembled in Bijeljina, Brčko, Tuzla and Zvornik, and then advanced concentrically toward the centre of the operational area in the hope of driving the partisans into an steadily decreasing area in which they could be more easily destroyed. On 17 December the partisans attempted to break out to the south, but encountered an Ustase battalion and became embroiled in heavy fighting. The Ustase unit then collapsed under the increasing pressure applied by the Partisans, whose remnants managed to break out, although they were later dispersed by Moslem militia forces near Sekovići.

The operation’s casualties were light, according to the German after-action report, and included two German dead and three wounded, 16 Croat dead and 25 wounded, and 271 partisan dead, 43 wounded and 163 captured and committed to forced labour units. Not mentioned in the after-action report was the massacre, probably by Ustase and/or Moslem militia units, of some 250 persons in several villages around Lopare, some 10 miles (16 km) to the north-east of Tuzla.