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Battle of Pljevlja
Part of the Uprising in Montenegro, Yugoslav Front of World War II
Date1 December 1941
LocationPljevlja, Italian governorate of Montenegro, Axis-occupied Yugoslavia
Result Defeat of Partisan forces
Pljevlja, Italian governorate of Montenegro, Axis-occupied Yugoslavia
 Kingdom of Italy Communist Party of Yugoslavia
Commanders and leaders
Arso Jovanović
Units involved
Kingdom of Italy Division Pusteria
  • Kom detachment
  • Zeta detachment
  • Lovćen detachment
  • Bijeli Pavle detachment
  • Piva battalion
  • Prijepolje company
2,000 3,690
Casualties and losses
74 killed, 170 wounded and 88 imprisoned 203 killed and 269 wounded

The Battle of Pljevlja (Serbian language: Пљеваљска битка) was fought on 1 December 1941 between attacking Partisan forces and Italians garrisoned in Pljevlja (Italian governorate of Montenegro, Axis-occupied Yugoslavia) during the World War II. This battle was the last major conflict of the Uprising in Montenegro.


On 1 November 1941 the Supreme Command of insurgent forces decided to attack Pljevlja.[1] On 15 November the Regional Committee of Yugoslav Communist Party for Montenegro, Boka and Sandžak ordered all insurgents forces in the region to begin with activities to support planned attack on Pljevlja. The town was defended by 2,000 Italian soldiers who belonged to Division Pusteria. The headquarter of Division Pusteria was also in Pljevlja.[2] According to Arso Jovanović, the Italians were preparing for this battle for an entire month. He explained that, in order to better prepare for this battle, the Italian forces from Brodarevo and Bijelo Polje were brought to Pljevlja to sleep in the tents although it was very cold.[3]

Involved forces

Kom, Zeta, Lovćen and Bijeli Pavle detachments attacked Pljevlja on the side of insurgents.[4] Arso Jovanović was commander of Partisan forces.[3] Italian garrison in Pljevlja belonged to Division Pusteria.[5] Piva battalion and Prijepolje company attacked Bučje to cut the communication between Priboj and Pljevlja.[6]


The Partisan forces attacked Pljevlja on 1 December 1941. In coordinated attack Piva battalion and Prijepolje company attacked Italian garrison in Bučje. This attack was aimed to cut the communication between Priboj and Pljevlja. The Italians who defended Bučje had six dead soldiers until the dawn of 2 December when they surrendered.[6]

Partisans failed to capture Pljevlja and retreated after suffering heavy casualties.[7] Partisan forces counted 203 killed and 269 wounded soldiers. Many partisans deserted their units and joined the Chetniks.[8][9] Following this defeat partisans plundered villages and executed captured Italians, party "sectarians" and "perverts".[10]


A major defeat of the Partisan forces in Pljevlja and terror conducted by the communists, the so called "Left Deviations", were two main reasons for the expansion of the conflict between the two groups of insurgents.[8] "A land without Chetniks was suddenly overwhelmed by Chetniks" largerly due to the policy of Left Deviations which resulted in a temporary defeat of the Partisan movement in Montenegro in 1942.[11] The general uprising of the people of Montenegro became a civil war.[12] Tito disproved this battle.[13] When he received information about the plans for this battle, Tito issued two orders not to attack Pljevlja.[14] On 7 December 1941 Moša Pijade wrote a letter to Tito and requested investigation of the defeat in Pljevlja.[15] The Battle of Pljevlja was the last major conflict of the Uprising in Montenegro. Following this battle the communists were expelled from Montenegro.[16] The Partisans from Montenegro (Kom, Lovćen, Bijeli Pavle and Zeta detachments) were among the units that were incorporated in the First Proleterian Brigade established in Rudo, on 21 December 1941.[4][17] After the battle of Pljevlja the command of Montenegrin Partisans called for women's recruitment issuing an announcement inviting the sisters of killed insurgents to take arms of their fallen brothers and to join communist forces.[18]


Mihailo Lalić wrote about this battle in one of his works in which he emphasized that local Muslims committed war crimes during this battle.[19]


  1. U Vatri Revolucije. NIGP "Rilindja". 1973. p. 112. 
  2. Đuričković, Boško (1952). Vojni istoriski glasnik. Vojno-istoriski institut. pp. 7–10. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dedijer 1990, p. 61.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stojanović, Mladen (1970). Socialist Republic of Serbia. Secretariat of information of the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia; Export-Press. p. 24. "...Lovćen, Kom, Zeta, and Bijeli Pavle who had taken part in the Battle of Pljevlja"  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Stojanović1970" defined multiple times with different content
  5. Đuričković, Boško (1952). Vojni istoriski glasnik. Vojno-istoriski institut. p. 10. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Đuričković, Boško (1952). Vojni istoriski glasnik. Vojno-istoriski institut. p. 19. 
  7. Pajović 1987, p. 32.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tomašević 1979, p. 192.
  9. Tomasevich 2001, p. 143.
  10. Pavlowitch, Stevan K. (March 2008). Hitler's new disorder: the Second World War in Yugoslavia. Columbia University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-231-70050-4. "The partisans' disastrous attempt to capture Plevlja from its Italian garrison on 1 December 1941 was followed by widespread desertion, terror, plunder of villages, the execution of captured Italian officers, of party 'fractionalists' and even of "perverts"." 
  11. Lakić, Zoran (1981). Народна власт у Црној Гори 1941-1945. Обод. p. 250. 
  12. Burgwyn, H. James (2005). Empire On The Adriatic: Mussolini's Conquest Of Yugoslavia 1941–1943. Enigma Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-929631-35-3. "The people's uprising was degenerating into civil war." 
  13. Trgo, Fabijan (1980). Tito's historical decisions 1941-1945. Narodna armija. p. 43. "Tito's disapproval of the attack by Montenegrin partisans on Pljevlja in December 1941, when they suffered heavy losses, is also well known." 
  14. Lagator & Batrićević 1990, p. 27.
  15. Djilas, Milovan (1977). Wartime. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-15-194609-9. "The letter referred to Mosa Pijade's letter to Tito of December 7, 1941, which called for an investigation into the defeat at Plevlja." 
  16. Fleming, Thomas (2002). Montenegro: the divided land. Rockford Institute. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-9619364-9-5. "Following the failed communist attempt to revive operations by attacking Pljevlja (December 1941), which was the last major engagement of the uprising, they were expelled from Montenegro, and relative peace reigned in most parts until the spring of 1943." 
  17. Yugoslav Information Bulletin of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia & the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia. Komunist, Socialist Thought and Practice. 1975. p. 71. "... two Montenegrin Battalions which had been ordered to join us after their unsuccessful attack on Pljevlja..." 
  18. Batinić, Jelena; History, Stanford University. Dept. of (2009). Gender, revolution, and war: the mobilization of women in the Yugoslav Partisan resistance during world war II. Stanford University. 
  19. The South Slav Journal. Dositey Obradovich Circle. 1983. p. 93. "Mihailo Lallc's recent book on the battle of Pljevlje fought between Italians and Partisans is commented upon, with ..." 


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