© The Boston Globe 2001. Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II
PART VI: THE RESISTANCE
by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / August 26, 2001
Page 10 of 11
Continued from page 9
Even the reprisals helped Tito recruit. "The reprisals were counterproductive to the Germans," Lindsay says. "These people would say, `Hell, I might as well go into the forest and join the Partisans rather than stay here and be a target.' "
Lindsay watched Tito carve an army of 80,000 from the butchered remains of a conquered country and drive out the invaders. "It was relatively small compared with the Allied armies landing in Normandy, North Africa, and Italy," he says. "But for a relatively small number of people, it really made a contribution. ... Cutting the rail lines, tying up German divisions in Yugoslavia and Greece, kept them from going somewhere else."
And when the shooting stopped and the Nazis went home, leaving the Balkans bloodied once again, Tito forged a united, socialist Yugoslavia that wasn't dependent on either of the two post-war superpowers. It was the closest thing to a showcase Communist state until Tito died in 1980 and the Berlin Wall came down nine years later.
With five wars in the past decade, Yugoslavia is among the big casualties of the Cold War's end, when ethnic feuding filled the void left by the collapse of Communism.
"World War II was not only the greatest moral and psychological and material challenge this country has ever faced, but it also was the birthplace of the modern world," says Naftali, the commission historian. "The Cold War was actually the last act of World War II. A lot of the challenges we face today can be sourced back to World War II."
Lindsay wrote a book called "Beacons in the Night," a memoir of his OSS career with Tito's Partisans. The title comes from a trip that Allen Dulles sent him on, into Croatia, to negotiate with a Nazi general who was considering surrendering a few days early.
"I had to cross the German frontier," he said. "We had to cross a road in which the Germans were moving troops. We tried a couple of times, but couldn't do it. It was snowing. We decided if we had to cross by force, we would."
Lindsay and his Partisan escorts followed a stream that paralleled the road, then made their move. The road was clear, but there was a mountain on the other side. They had to travel several hundred yards down the road.
"There was a shot at the head of the column, and I heard, up and down the line, there was about 20 of us, the safeties going off everybody's guns," he said. "We came to a ravine, we climbed through the snowstorm. I saw sort of a warm glow of light ahead of me and could not make out what it was."
It was a lighted beacon at a little roadside shrine. If the area was safe, the resistance and the people who supported the resistance would light the lights.
"To me this was a symbol of the mountain people and the support they gave us," he said. "They provided a screen around us at all times that kept us from falling into the hands of the enemy. A little girl would come up and say there was a German patrol ahead, so we would go around."
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