Operation Bihać - Liberation of the city in occupied Europe in 1942

 

Comrade Tito inspected a battalion of the 3rd Krajina Brigade after the battles for Bihać, Bihać in November 1942.

The Bihać operation is one of the greatest victories of the People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia in 1942. In it, eight brigades of the People's Liberation Army under the command of the Operational Headquarters for the Bosnian Krajina destroyed the Ustasha Home Guard garrison in Bihać and the surrounding areas and inflicted significant losses on the enemy. The battle for the city lasted from November 2 to 4, 1942, and continued with the ensuing march of the People's Liberation Army units against the remnants of broken units and demoralized surrounding garrisons. The Ustasha 4th (Brigade) and parts of the 12th Home Guard Infantry Regiment were defeated. This was one of the greatest in a long series of victories of the People's Liberation Army over the forces of the NDH, which shook the NDH and greatly limited the scope of its institutions.


The conquest of Bihać connected the free territory in Bosnian Krajina and central Bosnia with the free territory in Dalmatia. Lici, Kordun and Banija. Thus, a continuous free territory was formed from Karlovac to Livno, where many military and civilian institutions were formed, known as the Republic of Bihać or Titoland (after the Germans). Liberated Bihać became the military, political and cultural center of the People's Liberation Movement.

The course of the operation

On October 18, 1942, at the suggestion of the Operational Headquarters for Bosnian Krajina, based on available information about the enemy, the Supreme Headquarters issued an order for the Bosnian Krajina to conduct an operation, and the Croatian General Staff issued an order to cooperate in the operation and make 3 brigades available. The attack was supposed to be carried out by November 5

The offensive of Proletarian and Shock brigades in western Bosnia and the Bihać operation.


Opposing forces

The Operational Headquarters for Bosnian Krajina for the Bihać operation gathered 5 of its brigades

: 1st Krajina Brigade (3 battalions)

2nd Krajina Brigade (3 battalions)

3rd Krajina Brigade (all 4 battalions)

5th Krajina Brigade (all 4 battalions)

6th Krajina Brigade (2 battalions)

In addition to these, 3 brigades of the Croatian Operational Staff were made available to the headquarters for the operation:


2nd Lika Brigade (all 4 battalions)

4th Korduna Brigade (all 4 battalions)

8th Banija Brigade (3 battalions)

. The mixed artillery division of the Operational Headquarters for Bosnian Krajina also took part in the attack, consisting of 3 howitzers 100- {mm} -, 4 mountain guns and one battery of anti-tank guns.

The total strength of these units at the time of the attack was about 7,000 soldiers. The units were especially motivated for this action due to the presence of known Ustasha criminals in Bihać. In the orders for the attack, the Krajina Operational Headquarters and the brigade headquarters especially emphasized the aspect of punishing Ustasha criminals in the operation. The operation was commanded by Kosta Nadj.

Partisans in liberated Bihać.


The defense of Bihać had the following units at its disposal:

4. "Zdrug" of Ustasha soldiers, the strength of 4 battalions (3,000 people):

19th Ustasha Battalion, stationed in the city itself

31st Ustasha Battalion, stationed in Lički Petrovo Selo and Rakovica

32nd Ustasha Battalion, stationed in Bosanska Krupa

33rd Ustasha Battalion, stationed in the city itself

headquarters and one battalion of the 12th Home Guard Infantry Regiment, stationed in the city (about 800 people)

one company of the 2nd Home Guard Regiment, stationed in the city (about 200 people)

several groups of Ustasha militia of 10-40 people, deployed in villages in the wider area.

For the defense of Bihać, the enemy had four howitzers 100 - {mm} - two of which were in the city, and two on Hadžiabdića hill.

The total strength of these units at the time of the attack was about 4,000 people.


The Ustashas were extremely motivated to defend themselves because they were aware of their crimes and the punishment that awaits them if they are defeated. In the Home Guard units, the motivation to fight was very low.

Part of the youth delegation during the 1st Congress of the USAOJ (United Alliance of Anti-Fascist Youth of Yugoslavia) in Bihać, December 27, 1942.


The course of the struggle


the units had to cover considerable distances to the starting points for the attack. Movements for the concentration of forces began on 28.10. The units were ordered to attack with a specific goal and details on the engagement of the unit were published only on November 1. However, the movements of the units and their direction could not remain a secret for the fighters or the people. The fact that a surprise was achieved speaks of the unity of the people and the army in that area and the inability of the NDH government to establish its own intelligence service.


The attack began on November 2 at 9:30 p.m. The signal for the beginning of the attack was given by firing grenades from two howitzers at the Somišlje stronghold. People's Liberation Army units achieved a complete surprise - at the time of the attack, electric lighting was still on in the city.

A simultaneous attack on the outer and inner lines of defense, as well as from the city itself, disorganized the Ustasha Home Guard defense. During the first night, the 8th Banija Brigade destroyed enemy strongholds in the northwest direction, liquidated the crew from Izačić who tried to break into the city, penetrated the part of the city on the right bank of the Una, occupied the railway station and surrounding facilities and connected with the Second Krajina Brigade. . The other border penetrated the part of the city on the right bank of the Una from the east, clearing smaller enemy strongholds along the way. During the night, these two brigades occupied the entire area of the city, except for two fortified buildings from which the enemy was still resisting. This resistance was liquidated during the morning of November 3.

In the part of the city on the left bank of the Una, the resistance was stronger and more organized. The First and Third Krajina Brigades liquidated the external fortifications, and the greatest success was the capture of Somišlje. From these positions, these two brigades attacked the well-fortified Ustasha camp in Žegar. However, the Ustashas repulsed this attack and at 4 o'clock launched a counterattack with the intention of regaining control of Somislje. This attack was repulsed. Throughout the night and the next day, there were attacks and counterattacks on both sides.

Partisans set off by train from Mlinište to the front, in November 1942.


During the morning, the Ustasha command from Bihać persistently asked for a "motorized Zdrug" for help from the General Staff. The outbursts of the Ustashas from Bosanska Krupa and Cazin in the direction of Bihać were successfully neutralized by the Sixth Krajina Brigade and the Fourth Korduna Brigade. The General Staff of the Home Guard asked for help from the German command, but General Stahl, commander of the 714th Division, rejected the request, citing intensive partisan activity "on Shamarica, near Dvor and Bosanski Novi." The crew in Bihać only received a few air raids to help.

The First and Third Krajina launched a decisive attack on Žegar on November 3 at 3:00 p.m. The Ustashas defended themselves with fanatical persistence, to the last. Nevertheless, the stronghold has been overcome. After that, these brigades continued to advance, breaking the successive Ustasha resistance, and during the afternoon and the following night, they took control of a part of the city to the canal in the center of the city. Around the bridges over the canal, a fight broke out with alternating attacks from both sides. On November 4, at 12 o'clock, the First and Third Krajina Brigades stormed the bridges and crossed the canal at the cost of significant losses. The last Ustasha resistance was broken around 4 pm on the same day.

Bihac was released after 42 hours of continuous fighting, on November 4, around four o'clock in the afternoon. The rest of the Ustasha crew that managed to get out of the city in an attempt to break through to Cazin, fell during the night of May 4th. November, two battalions of the Fifth and Sixth Krajina Brigades were ambushed for that purpose. Despite the great losses, thanks to the unconditional determination, the group of Ustashas managed to break through the position of these battalions.

The Great People's Assembly in liberated Bihać in 1942, where Supreme Commander Tito spoke.


Bihac was liberated after 42 hours of continuous fighting, on November 4, around four o'clock in the afternoon. The rest of the Ustasha crew that managed to get out of the city in an attempt to break through to Cazin, fell during the night of May 4th. November, two battalions of the Fifth and Sixth Krajina Brigades were ambushed for that purpose. Despite the great losses, thanks to the unconditional determination, the group of Ustashas managed to break through the position of these battalions.

Results of the operation


The Bihać operation significantly increased and connected the free territory. In battles 2.-4. In November, about 800 Ustasha and Home Guard soldiers and officers were killed, and 835 soldiers and 35 officers led by a deputy mayor were captured. 8 artillery weapons (4 howitzers, 3 anti-tank, and 1 mountain cannon), 2 mortars, and over 1,500 rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns were seized. People's Liberation Army units had 130 killed and over 200 wounded fighters.


The captured home guards were mostly disarmed and released, while the Ustashas were mostly shot. This practice was conducted publicly, so that on November 18, the Supreme Headquarters issued a statement on the shooting of 130 Ustashas captured in Bihać.

Bihać became the center of the free territory known as the Bihać Republic. Lively and significant military, political and cultural activities took place in Bihać. At the end of November, the first session of AVNOJ and USAOJ was held.


Branko Ćopić wrote the book "Delije na Bihaću" about the battles for Bihać.

German troops entered Bihać on January 29, 1942.

Units of the People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia from the territory of the Republic of Bihać carried out offensive actions on the surrounding garrisons and diversions on communications. They fought against the Germans and the Ustashas for Jajce, Bosanski Novi, and Sanski Most, and against the Italians, the Ustashas, and the Chetniks for the battle for Livno.


Bihać was free until January 29, 1943, when it was captured by the German 7th SS Division as part of Operation Weiss I.




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