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Other images in Category 1: Personal Collections

Serbian Paramilitary Unit "Arkan's Tigers", Female Combatant, Bosnia 1992

"Arkan's Tigers" (Serbian Volunteer Guard) photo. This living history / reenactment photo portrays a female combat member of the infamous paramilitary unit "Arkan's Tigers" (there were three female members of the Serbian Volunteer Guard from 1991-1995, that saw combat operations with the unit in Croatia and Bosnia). There are only a few known photos of these women in action with the Tigers, all of which are very rare and nearly impossible to find. Many women worked in staff, communications, and operations positions in rear headquarters areas for Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, but history only records three that fought in combat. As with all of the combat uniforms of Arkan's Tigers, the style and appearance changed from their inception on October 11th, 1990, until their disbandment in April of 1996. This specific photo attempts to portray "Lena", an officer in the SDG, participating in combat operations in Bosnia, wearing one of the early versions of the female uniform (1991-1993).

The Serbian Volunteer Guard first wore blue MILICIJA ("Militia/Police") uniforms in the early days of the war, followed shortly thereafter by various green uniforms, Serbian "tiger stripe" camouflage uniforms, M89 camouflage sets, and then M93 camouflage. They also wore all black uniforms, and eventually NATO-style woodland camouflage. All of the uniforms (except the Milicija ones) had the SDG embroidered patch on the upper right sleeve, and the "tiger's head" (TIGROVI) patch on the upper left sleeve. Sometimes, however, they are seen wearing these patches on the opposite sides than normal. The female combat members originally wore the uniform jackets with black heavyweight cotton skirts, black stockings, and black leather "riding-style" boots. Eventually the rigors of combat necessitated a switch to the more commonly seen camouflage pants, sometime around late 1993. Green, black, and then eventually red berets were worn, with either the Krajina TO rectangular Serbian flag badge, the Serbian and Krajina Police flag on a gold ornamental base, a metal "Tigers" badge, or a small embroidered SDG badge. Serbian M89/M93 camouflage caps were also worn, as were black wool hats, face masks, and bandannas on occasion. JNA breast badges indicated rank; Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, who wore no rank insignia, promoted his troops to officer rank and at least three to general officers - although only the SDG recognized the ranks; in this photo, "Lena" is ostensibly a Potpukovnik (Lt. Colonel).

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© RED STAR MILITARIA

Photo Information for Serbian Paramilitary Unit "Arkan's Tigers", Female Combatant, Bosnia 1992


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Thanks for posting this. I am very interested in this field and have been able to pick up a nice uniform or two. I have been learning from the information you posted. Was Lena ever implicated in any war crimes? What was her reputation as an officer and combatant?

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Hello again Paul!!

Thanks again for liking my Serbian Volunteer Guard photo(s)!!!! The three women that fought in Arkan's Tigers has always fascinated me, as they seem to have nearly been forgotten by contemporary historians. I found out about them in 2005 or so, while doing research on the Tigers. I do not know "Lena's" real name (that is her nom de guerre), but I believe it was Aleksandra. The other two dark haired girls were Ljiljana and Tanja. My friend Kristen (the model in the photos) looks almost exactly like Lena, and is the same age as she was (20 years old). Ljiljana survived the war, and went on to fight in Kosovo as part of the regular Serbian/Yugoslav Army, and was killed in action. Not much is known of Tanja. Lena was indicted I think in 2004 or 2005 for war crimes (she commanded a platoon that took over a Bosnian town and personally executed many of the captives). I read about her in a book many years ago, and she was blond haired, a great fighter, and violently ruthless with most prisoners. I'm still researching more info on her, as she was the only female officer in the SDG. She had a reputation for leading her troops from the front (kind of like Arkan), and was considered a true Serbian hero. The most amazing thing (to me) is that she looked like my friend Kristen in the photos!!! It is just so interesting to me. I'm glad you are learning about the Tigers; they are a very interesting paramilitary unit, and I think, the best of the war. Thanks again, and take care, Paul. Nice to know you!!

Sincerely,

Mark

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