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Beacons in the Night
With the OSS and Tito's Partisans in Wartime Yugoslavia
At midnight on May 14, 1944, the blinking of a flashlight in mountainous, German-occupied Yugoslavia signaled the parachute drop of four American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) officers who were met by a group of Tito's Partisans. One of the OSS officers was Franklin Lindsay. Only with the declassification in the 1980s of wartime American and British archives could he undertake to reconstruct his day-to-day experiences in a war area of constantly changing conditions and ever-present danger. In the closing months of the war, Lindsay became the commander of the American Military Mission to Tito's new Communist government, and he describes the consolidation of Tito's power over the civil population, the final defeat of the Chetniks, and the elimination of all other political opposition. Directly pertinent to contemporary developments in the former Yugoslavia are Lindsay's observations of the savage ethnic and religious hatreds. Though the seeds of the present violent breakup of Yugoslavia were sown in earlier centuries, they were given powerful reinforcement by wartime atrocities.