The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

AT TEN-FIFTEEN on the morning of March 25, 1941, the news flashed: "Yugoslavia has signed the Axis pact." It was a moment of destiny for Europe, for the world. It was a moment when the flame of freedom guttered so perilously low that many of the bravest spirits of our time averted their eyes, sure that it was now finally to be extinguished. Yugoslavia had apparently fallen an easy victim to Germany. Everyone with any knowledge of Balkan affairs was amazed. For Yugoslavia was the land of the Serbs, the leading race of the South Slavs, the Fighting Serbs who through the centuries had battled ceaselessly, uncompromisingly for unconditional liberty and at last had won their independence alone and unaided. But prudent- and craven-policy had apparently prevailed. Two Serbs had actually used their fingers to sign away Serbian liberty: the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia. The country of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes had signed the Axis pact. Then an almost incredible thing happened, a thing so important to the history of the world that freedomloving men will speak of it with admiration and with gratitude down through the centuries. The Serbs rose. A little race of not more than eight million souls deliberately, sternly decided to die rather than to submit to Axis vassalage. They were the only small race of Europe to come in openly on the side of the Allies before they were themselves attacked and while they still had promises of complete security of frontiers, of lives, and of property; the first and only small race themselves to declare war- a war they knew to be absolutely hopeless- against the invincible German war machine. And today, in 1943, the Serbs, alone in Europe west of Russia, are fighting with an organized army the greatest war machine in history. With terrain no more suitable for guerrilla fighting than the French Alps and the Carpathians in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, they are still fighting indomitably. Why did they do it? What caused their decision? What has enabled them to succeed when other, larger, much better equipped peoples failed or didn't even try? These are important questions, important to our own present war effort, important to the future of Europe, very important to future world peace. I was there and had been there for over three years. I watched what led up to it and what took place. I had made it my business to try to understand. Those two days after the signing of the pact will never be erased from my memory. The people of Belgrade, the Serb capital of Yugoslavia, behaved as if stunned by incredible calamity. I had friends of all classes in the city. On the day the pact was signed several of them telephoned briefly but none came near me that first day until late in the afternoon. Then one after another slipped in, furtively, crushed. Their expressions, their very words, had an extraordinary similarity. Their faces were distorted with an inexpressible, breathless fury.

"I shall tear up my passport," they muttered in bitter shame. "I shall never go out of the country again. I can never look another foreigner in the face. We- we to let them through to stab the Greeks, our allies, in the back!" For that was part of the treaty, and to this race loyalty to a friend is a password, a touchstone. No charge of treachery has ever been brought against the Serbs as a race, the only Balkan race with such a record. "But other, bigger nations have given way to German might and have done the same," I said, terribly grieved for them. "What does it matter to us what other nations do?" they flared up fiercely. "We are the Serbs!" Into this atmosphere of strained gloom and misery arrived Yanko. A Chetnik, like myself, of the purely Serb organization of guerrilla fighters, Yanko was in a different group with a different leader. He appeared about four o'clock, bright and cheerful, obviously quite pleased with life. He came in humming the great Chetnik marching song: "Ready, now ready, Chetnik brothers! Mighty the coming battle-" Yanko broke off the song in the middle and smiled at me. He was in a hurry. "Listen," he said, "it's for tomorrow night." I knew very well what he meant. "Not to kill them, Yanko? You don't mean to kill them?" I said, feeling absolutely helpless before an elemental force, like a chicken before a tidal wave. "Why not?" His face hardened. "Don't they deserve it? Who ever deserved it better?" he ground out. This small wiry, inconspicuous fellow didn't loot dramatic or particularly violent. He did not even look especially grim. He just was utterly grim. He didn't look a murderer. He just would be a murderer, and without any hesitation, where his country was concerned. But no one ever had a more severe sense of honor than Yanko. I said what I knew I ought to say. I argued that it would make a very bad impression abroad; that there had been too many political murders in Balkan history; that we should set a new precedent. I felt -well, just feeble and silly. He hardly heard me. He started out. "What time?" I asked most anxiously. He hesitated. But we were old friends. "Three o'clock in the morning," he answered, and was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief it happened that I knew of other plans in the making. These plans called, not just for another political murder, but for a well-organized revolution to abolish the Regency, to place the young King Peter on the throne, and to repudiate the detested pact, throwing defiance into Hitler's teeth. The organizer of this plan was the Serbian general Boro Mirkovich, with General Simovich and General Zivkovich. Their trusted associates were certain Serbs of the High Command of the Flying Corps in the Belgrade district. It was to be executed by Montenegrin-Serb flying officers. And it was timed, I believed, though I had no absolute certainty on that point, for midnight that night. So I was greatly relieved when Yanko said, "Three o'clock." For Chetnik action, if it came before the other, might throw this whole plan out of gear, might even make it abortive. I was thus in a very nasty situation, for I had been made the confidant of both sides, and I could not properly disclose to either side what I knew of the other's plans. Was it possible that I could be the only person in the country who knew both? It seems certain now that I was. M.P., my stanch Serbian adviser in all problems and in all times of trouble (so many there had been!), was under house-arrest, suspect by the Prince Paul government which had signed the pact. Never had I been in greater need of his advice than on this torturing question of principle. I could trust no one else, and he too knew well that he could trust me. Frantically I telephoned to his house. A soldier answered curtly that he was incommunicado. So there was nothing I could do. Events must take their course.

At eight that night I dined with some of the British newspapermen at the Hotel Bristol. That dinner was a strangely ironic episode. At the time it seemed utterly unreal. I had the curious feeling that I was watching a play, that I was looking at us sitting there calmly, politely eating, while world-shaking events were brewing, all unknown to these clever fellows. These men and more than a dozen like them had come at vast expense from America and England to find out what was happening or likely to happen in the Balkans. They ran around eagerly, tirelessly, all day and most of the night. They entertained, they haunted offices, hotels, clubs, and night cafes. They sat at the end of wires that spanned the earth. They spent great sums on a small army of local newshounds. They had the cars of prominent men watched to discover their movements and deduce their contacts. They were endlessly ingenious in ferreting out the facts. Nothing was too much trouble or too difficult for them. Yet not one of these newspapermen asked me a single political question. I knew the foreign diplomatic people only very slightly: they were aware of that. They were in close touch with them all. I lived quietly in my little house and called no cabinet minister by his first name: they were quite aware of that. They knew so much, they knew everything-everything except the most important thing of all, the key to the whole situation. These busy, conscientious, expert gatherers of news, they knew all there was to knowexcept one thing: they didn't know the Serbs. They could understand and predict every probability. But they couldn't understand or predict the Serbs. I looked at my watch. It was ten o'clock. I yielded to temptation. "Let me tell you something," I said gently. "Within twenty-nine hours Prince Paul, Cvetkovich, Cincar-Markovich, and the whole Cabinet will be either prisoners or dead." I knew I was taking no chances. I knew they wouldn't believe me. Politely, indulgently they smiled. Terence Atherton was there, the Daily Mail correspondent long resident in Belgrade who had run a whole set of Yugoslav weeklies in English. He certainly ought to know. He smiled too, but not so confidently. "They'll have to settle down to it," said Mr. Seagrave, the charming correspondent of the News Chronicle. "They'll give up now that they see there's nothing else to do. They'll have to take peace even at the German price. They have no choice. It would be hopeless, utterly useless! All the other little countries have had to do it. They'll have to do it too." I leaned forward. "Telegraph your paper," I said softly. "Tell England that the Serbian peasants don't want peace at any price the Germans could ever offer. No matter if it is hopeless, utterly useless. They're used to hopeless struggles. Tell England that the Serbs choose war when their unconditional liberty is at stake." They laughed at me then, polite no longer. Thirty-six hours later Mr. Seagrave telephoned exactly eight words: "You were right: the Serbs choose war. Incredible!" That morning, March 27, 1941 my telephone began ringing at six o'clock, but my servants wouldn't wake me. At a quarter to seven I was up and heard Yanko yodeling on the phone: "They got in ahead of us! It's all right. Revolution-bloodless as you hoped!" At half past seven, M.P. arrived, gray, tired, his great frame looking shrunken, drawn with strain and his days of arrest. But happy, so happy-speechless with happiness. I got out a little bottle of my finest wine. The radio was playing over and over the Serbian national songs, Oi-Serbiya, and most of all: "Ready, now ready, Chetnik brothers! Mighty the coming battle, And on our glorious victory Will rise the sun of Liberty."

in the torture chambers of the Gestapo and by the hangman's rope. They died under the deluge of bombs that fell for four days upon the "open. They died. the Croat Ustashi butchers slew them with knives. women. and children-were packed tight into their churches. unpredictable horrors that have befallen them. Her aim was spoiled. in no time at all. But whatever the Germans have done to them is as nothing in horror to what their fellow South Slavs have done. crying with their last breath: "Long live Serbia-we are Serbian children!" The Germans hate them most of all the small peoples. Whole villages of Serbs.000. except the Jews. Themselves foreign to treachery. women. and because of the action of the little race of Serbs. In spite of all the horrors they expected. . He not only had to send an army there but he had to keep an army there. not by thousands. The Serbs chose war." The Serbs chose war. they still choose war. because they have resisted best. They died. resident for generations in Croatia-men. It took him three months to do what he had expected would be done. Drava. And still he hasn't beaten down the Serbs. by far the largest army of occupation in any of the overrun countries. Hitler's order is for the extermination of the Serbs. standing knee-deep in blood and in floating corpses. (He hasn't completely finished the task yet!) He had to detach an army intended for Russia and send it down into the Balkans. Said a commentator over the London radio that morning: "The action that the Serbs have taken this day will prove to be the turning point of the war. They are dying today-not by hundreds. And in spite of the unexpected. and small children." It did so prove. men. tight-lipped and defiant. Hitler had to secure his rear in the Balkans to preclude an Allied landing. whole schools of little boys and girls facing the machine guns. but by hundreds of thousands. They died riddled by the bullets of Hitler's execution squads. with all that went with it. night after night. Before he could attack Russia. where. everything went wrong for Germany. this they did not expect from their "brothers. They have killed so far more than 600. and Danube rivers.The Serbs had risen. this small race almost unanimously decided to oppose themselves against the greatest war machine of history. They pitched the bodies into the Sava. He has had to keep in Yugoslavia to this day not less than half a million Axis troops. her timing destroyed. by his ordinary routine of penetration and terrorization. From that day onwards. Why ? It took me over three years to find out." undefended town of Belgrade. For what those "brothers" did was so appalling that the Germans themselves reeled back in horror from Croat berserk ferocity. They chose to die. The Serbs expected horror from the Germans.

Afghanistan. If I had known then what was coming.The Serbs Chose War. For that experience almost no price could be too heavy. more comfortable lands? The answer is a completely certain: No! For with the discomforts were to come unforgettable beauty. We take the strangeness of Asia for granted. They are closely bound to us by trade. its clashing . which has been fought over by uncounted races and powers. if you insist. then Syria. Even Cook's. "I'm not interested in the Balkans. by boat to Constantinople. "Ten days-that will be enough. with the absurdities. Yet to most of us the Balkans still remain unreal as a mirage. Even how to get there was a problem. And of all the Balkan countries. then the Far East. a splendid satisfaction. from tourist-haunted Italy. the meannesses and the incredible cruelties that were lying in wait for me-would I have turned back? Would I have run down again into my "royal cabin" and sailed away. for the Balkans. So off I went. They are just across a little sea. but the Balkans tease us with their mystery. It is curious how much stranger the Balkans appeared to us than even the least-known parts of Asia. At last over the telephone the cultivated voice of the First Secretary of the Albanian Legation in London provided the answer. saner. to safer. Well I remember the rosy dawn when I came up on the deck of that fussy little tub that had bounced me across the stormy Adriatic. Albania was the most unknown of all. I'll take ten days out and no more. I went-very grudgingly. the tourist agency. with an irreducible minimum of luggage and a maximum of light photographic equipment: train to Rome and Bari. I might never have known the simple glory to which men's hearts and women's strength can rise. the outrageously absurd. and despite the horrors." I told the editor of the London weekly Illustrated. if I had had an inkling of the mad world. by boat across the narrow sea to Durazzo. no larger than one of our American Great Lakes. was quite uncertain as to how one could get there. and so to Africa and Asia." This was a year before Albania became news with the Italian occupation. The tall minaret of Durazzo Harbor was the first note of that swelling symphony. Except that it was "somewhere in the Balkans. quite enough. They constitute the narrow land bridge from Europe to the Near East. The East is what draws me-first the Near East. But ten days-yes." no one seemed to know where the little country lay. if I had guessed the discomforts and the miseries. ALBANIAN PRELUDE STRANGE TO REMEMBER NOW how nearly I missed it all. far away. India. This is still true. Perhaps it is a good thing that we can't foresee the future. In February 1938 I was planning a trip round the world to study youth questions -always my greatest interest-when I was offered a good fee to go to Albania to photograph the wedding of its King Zog. Ruth Mitchell 2. with all its delicate and its grand motifs. cleaner. the thrillingly splendid world I was stepping into. If I had not seen with my own eyes and myself experienced the cruelties. Homeric laughter. quieter. Persia.

I like heroic songs and minds fed on ancestral deeds of glory. I thought. only to beckon in welcoming beauty. Ten days! How funny that sounds now! I stayed in the Balkans for three and a half years. that was soon to catch me up and sweep me away to-well. and children of all classes. women. But over toward the far eastern horizon lay what I thought at first was a bank of heavy white clouds flushed by the rising sun. its rumbling undertones and laughing trebles. That is my idea of a good way to live. Durazzo looked like almost any other small Mediterranean harbor. Everywhere among these mountain peoples I found these values to be the unconscious mainsprings of action. suspended as by invisible chains from heaven. Better. if one must. . as these people do-as my own ancestors believed-that liberty and personal and national honor are worth all one's possessions and one's life: that the life of a slave is not worth living. washing in a snow-fed brook. I believe. To me sleeping on a sheepskin on the floor. I forgot the Far East. to brotherhood with the toughest men in Europe and then to eleven agonizing prisons. trailing for days on horseback across almost pathless mountains are not hardship. And I came to know those mountains as perhaps no foreign woman has known them before. .discords. Tenacious love of old tradition. I never got to Constantinople. that morning. far better. I seem to have inherited my American pioneer grandmother's zest for simple. slim as a lady's finger against the rose-red dawn-why did not that white finger shake in solemn warning? To me it seemed. primitive living. The more I saw of them the more they filled me with affection and admiration . hung the fabled mountains of Albania. motivating men. Close at hand. But they were not clouds. of custom and dress handed down by forebears arouse my respect and admiration. that I would not have time in my ten days to make their close acquaintance. to die. . There. to that and to so much more. to fight even a hopeless battle and. Too bad. eating with fingers from a central dish. I felt a momentary pang of regret. The minaret.

It has about a million inhabitants. and for the lack of national pride it indicates. lies in almost the exact center of the country. and an interpreter. the Albanian Ministry of Information invited me to write one. a bodyguard of children. I went over every road where it was possible to pass in a car. of those old Illyrian tribes who retired before the Ancient Greeks advancing from the interior of Asia. So he built up his little capital in nondescript imitation of alien culture. the dances. Almost everywhere I had what I like best of all. with their flocks and herds. littoral plain almost entirely shut off from the rest of the world by a lofty wall of mountain ranges in the shape of a crescent with both horns on the Adriatic. JOURNALIST'S PARADISE ALBANIA. They receive them eagerly and they hate themoh. how they hate them! The sensitiveness of these small countries to even the most evanescent publicity is beyond belief. though the place where they were hidden. There was and is. I filled notebook after notebook. Turkey held the plain and foothills in her ruinous grip for five hundred years but never succeeded in subduing the mountaineers. the mountain chieftain become king. the wild nomads. the weddings far in the mountains. If they have been lost-well. So with every facility courteously placed at my disposal. a chauffeur. Everywhere I was charmed by the shy but friendly women in bright national dress. . then I hope I may have the chance to do it all over again. and then on horseback through the mountains. rolling.The Serbs Chose War. yet anxiously lavish. Many a young man of sufficient aplomb has been able to subsist handsomely for years on the sadly grudged. in the Serbian mountains. The latter possess what is probably the purest blood in Europe. Not during recorded history have they ever been completely conquered. Albania has the good fortune to possess an exceedingly beautiful style of architecture of its own. despised and tried to make his people despise everything typically Albanian. pathetic. I was expected and well received by the Government. There is some hope that those notes may have been saved. can be simply described as a long. without any admixture or infiltration whatever. hospitality extended to anyone who flourishes the magic credentials of the press. believe it or not. They placed at my disposal a car. no guidebook to Albania in English. a country about the size of Switzerland. Tirana. I was now to discover the uncertain attitude of the officials of the smaller European states towards the members of that busy guild. always with either a gaily painted wooden cradle or bag of produce on their backs and children at their feet. it has been quickly enlarged and become almost characterless. the capital. But I was regarded with mixed feelings. has been much fought over. off I went to photograph Albania! The handsome horsemen in their dress as beautiful and costly as that of any eighteenth-century courtier. sharply divided into plainsmen and mountaineers. But King Zog. Everywhere I was met by the local notables. Ruth Mitchell 3. They are lineal descendants. seeing my growing interest. everyone thought up all that could be remembered of ancient tales and curious remains. Everything was opened for me. It is hideous. Until recently only a small foothill village. Hence. Not being professionally a journalist.

are absolutely free from molestation: they pass. Surprisingly this was a great advantage. . here as in Serbia. But women. although their social and political rights are limited. trusted. These are the lands of die-hard suspicion among men. where men could never tread. Everywhere I was treated with friendly cordiality by both women and men. who may approach only members of their own sex and then only with reassuring circumlocutions.I was a woman and alone.

There is the little . every stock comic situation. Now he is spoiled by luxury. He covers his bride with huge diamonds and Paris gowns paid for E the taxes wrung from his million half-starved subjects and from foreign governments by all sorts of chicanery. They might have married handsome mountaineers of their race. A brave girl comes to a land she does not care to understand. Literally I was never allowed to pay for a meal in a public restaurant when I was by myself." But no extravaganza could surpass the improbability. chosen from a row of photo graphs of aristocratic girls of neighboring countries with whose families it would be possible and politic for an insecure self-mad king to become allied. in Scutari on the banks of the majestic lake. It exhibited every stock character. The groom's proverbial three sisters would be rather good-looking if they had the courage just to be natural. that only the simplest countrymen were present. Came and went the marriage of King Zog and his little Hungarian bride. have the honor to pay for you lunch. Once they were barefooted girls. THE ROYAL NONESUCH TAKES A WIFE ALBANIA is the land of unconditional hospitality. It is an intolerable disgrace to these proud men to let a woman pay for her own food. with great natural aptitude. he sets his scene in "a kingdom in the Balkans. as I thought.The Serbs Chose War. the entourage that soon descends upon the little Cinderella. who loves to pinch the girls behind the door and gets hauled out and scolded by his stern wife." Behold the groom. the perfect stock character. and there I settled down to produce my guidebook. and weird and wonderful is their idea of how princesses of the Great World dress and comport themselves. homes. the absurdity of this real wedding. Once I stopped my car and. Then they would have had love. he was a conscientious monarch who tried with some success to serve his people. her uncle. Behold the little Cinderella bride. alas. busy in their snow-topped mountains making goat's cheese. the Countess Geraldine Apponyi. Ruth Mitchell 4. Behold. I photographed it for the London Illustrated. now that she is to become a queen." I took a house. and children. up sprang an attractive young mar who bowed and said in French: "I am the government official in charge of bookkeeping. She falls sincerely in love with her intended and refers to him with awe as "His Majesty. once a wild feudal chieftain of the mountain fastnesses. they are princesses. So cowardly is he that not once does he appear at a window to greet his subjects during the ten days' commanded rejoicing. good-natured nobleman. ordered a solid meal. Just as I war counting out my change. Now. though still handsome enough across the footlights. under the guiding hand of a strong-willed mother. besides special phantasia of its own. an old rambling Turkish vizier's home. Such a coward he has become-assuming he was ever anything else-so afraid of a shot that he cannot endure the flash of a photographer's bulb but has to have special lighting arranged months before the event. too. Whenever a writer of musical comedy wants to prepare his audience for something utterly improbable and absurd. crowing to myself that I had success fully circumvented this unwritten law. I. There is the fat. For a while. looking carefully round to make sure. costing about eighteen cents. of course.

Count Ciano. All the Italian nationals in the country had been carefully grouped below to cheer. So his guards were decorated with all the elaborate trappings of all the Austrian regiments. which has a complete strangle hold on the little land and is squeezing the breath out of it. Hungary was in a very bad way. which officially recognize the affair. He is sent by Mussolini to present as a wedding gift the lovely yacht which. Now she gives herself airs and is false to the bone-what German musical comedy calls a "Kammerkatze. no. stopped: the king of a population. and the poor. stripes. one seventh of the population of New York City. speechless with admiration." he murmured ecstatically to himself. ate. of course. in less than a year. all government social services. The guards alone were unforgettable. soha [No. were ancient family heirlooms. The old noblemen. out upon the indispensable balcony. and gold embroidery was never seen on earth. clapped his hands. swords. as it was more than an Albanian's life was worth to do such a thing for a loathed Italian. once a Viennese guttersnipe. buttons. exactly like a clown jumping through a hoop. He will also try his best to catch and kill the "dear friend" who for his part is even at that moment trying to sell him out to another power. .chambermaid. an impossible task. even I. hearty. rosy. It is Italy. velvet. Zog had been interned in Vienna during the last war and had admiringly noted all the fancy fixings of the various gaudy Austrian uniforms. never]"-a hopeless. is the "best man. and departed. cords. am eating off gold plate." an emissary of one of the only two governments. who profits handsomely by making herself the lonely little bride's only confidant. Such a plethora of feathers. were straight out of a book of fairy tales. No one thought of the unfortunate Albanian peasants. where he burst. But the effect of the young men was spoiled by their uncertain. And immediately all amelioration work. such warm benignity. Their clothes. boots. Ciano. Ciano. King Zog's "best friend" and "best man" is that international clown. he will snatch back.-Naturally. It was they who had to pay the price of this disgusting extravagance. But really magnificent were the bride's horde of Hungarian relatives who descended upon the poor little country like a pack of hungry wolves. say. One Albanian. by Jove. and firm. carried away by the excitement. To see the arrival by air of Count Ciano was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. The royal tables groaned under rich meats and fine wines. especially those of the men. The great gates below opened wide-and there stood The Bodyguard! We were stunned. upright. fruit-tree planting. They were really the finest things I ever saw in Europe for richness. baffled look of discontentand hopelessness. humble people groaned under whipped-up taxes. He was severely beaten up afterward by his fellow countrymen. He meant to put on the perfect show. proud. and gold. and well jowled. had brought home his bride. blazing from head to foot with jewels. hilarious yet ominous." Best of the characters in this farce. old-age pittances. Hungary ever since the last war had been trying to build a constructive national policy on a purely negative principle."Nem nem. the relatives came. epaulettes. was rushed from the airfield to a largish house called a palace. was serenely unaware of all this-or was he? Such fat self-satisfaction. such love for the "dear" Albanians! Who that saw it could ever forget the expression on the face of the little free-lance English writer (he was supposed to be doing a "life" of King Zog and therefore had to be handled with care) as he gazed into his plate at a royal reception: "I. Like a swarm of locusts. Italy and Germany. spurs. this personage represents the one to which the groom has been busily selling his country down the river.

I said: "All right. I found. been much too cautious to give my would-be partner any inkling of the position of my find. with a poker face. so that my movements could be traced only with the greatest difficulty. It had always been suspected that the Rumanian oil fields might have a continuation in Albania: I had probably discovered it." I hurried to Tirana and to the consultation with the expert he was to have waiting for me. I waited for two months. since he said his letters were opened and read. and so nothing could be done about it. And so." (Mineral rights do not include oil. He would find the right way to handle the business (of course." he said." I would know that he had fixed everything and I was to come at once to Tirana.The Serbs Chose War. My "friend" had been unable to resist selling me out. of course. a thick ooze of oil. Once I left the path to eat my lunch in the wilderness. exuding from narrow strata of rock. where there had been a recent landslide. His excitement was intense. The famous Italian charm was therefore turned on full blast. on a fiftyfifty basis). the oil concession of my find is not covered by your claims. "We must at all costs circumvent the Italians. the concessions remained mostly unused. I had. the expert who was to find means of preventing the Italians from seizing my find was-the Italian government engineer in charge of all Italian mining interests in the country. This alone shows the state of the country.) After we had reached a far-distant part. and then notified the British minister (the British held oil concessions in Albania) that I would like an engineer to consult with me on what could be done about it. The Italian engineer was now in a nasty spot: he had himself done the country-wide survey and had advised his Government that he had covered every conceivable possibility. OIL TURNS TO DYNAMITE FROM SCUTARI I made daily and sometimes week-long excursions up into mountains that have never even been completely explored. His reply was simple and neat: the British oil wells had proved unsatisfactory and had been closed down. And there. I then very cautiously got in touch with a member of the Albanian Cabinet in Tirana who had expressed warm feelings for me. We arranged a code. Now the Italians had carefully surveyed the country and had so tied it up with concessions that they thought it impossible that anyone could find anything they didn't know about. I took him over a map as he detailed the terms of concessions in the different parts. When I should receive a card saying: "Kind regards to all. and we would both grow exceedingly rich." . Ruth Mitchell 5. Slowly. In a fortnight came the message: "Kind regards to all. He passed my section with the curt information: "Only mineral rights here. But as they had little capital with which to exploit natural resources.

even threw himself on my mercy. Here was something inconceivable to them: a woman alone in a foreign land. .He turned very white. believe it or not. They followed me to my hotel." I was to sign on the spot. I glanced at my friend. The Italian began to compromise. It was no use. departed. or to threats. as I expected. He did not raise his eyes. to promises. And. his government would see to it that I was hounded out of the Balkans. I will keep my secret. the threats: I would be forced to leave the country." I rose and. I smiled. bowing politely. he and my friend then produced a previously prepared agreement stating that I would disclose the position to him and "accept whatever the Italian Government considered the find was worth. impervious either to charm. I had made up my mind rather to lose entirely than to give way to Italy. He hinted even more unpleasant consequences. It must be just a trick to raise my price. desperate with eagerness. Now came. The proposition does not interest me. "I'm sorry.

The neglect of this small. In I938 Italy had a strangle hold on every phase of Albanian life. so ran her dream. The hold of Italy on Albania was saddening. all were marked down as "spies. that a sudden alteration of the status of the little country was imminent. I was the prize mystery. especially a woman who "might be in Paris. . at the same moment that I was being subjected to all kinds of police unpleasantness. From that day onward I became. So. EXIT MYSELF ALL THIS WAS AMUSING ENOUGH.The Serbs Chose War." would actually stay in Albania because she happened to like it. As I settled in Scutari to write my guidebook. artists. to the representatives of the three leading powers). it was unofficially but authoritatively suggested to me that I become a member of the Albanian Cabinet in the capacity of Minister of Culture." My plan was. helpless little brother must stop. yes. I refused this invitation. since all of them wanted to find out what the devil I was really up to. Italy. which was capable of laying for him a golden egg. This made for a degree of chaos and insecurity in the little land that can be only briefly sketched here. not even their own king. the police had their own close-meshed spy network. but the results were not so funny. But how could they possibly be anything else under the treatment they have received? What chance has this proud. escape from the farmyard. "persona non grata" to the Italian Government. Scientists. For it was the presence of Italy in Albania which helped to make the quick success of Germany in the Balkans possible. writers passing through. they are savage. yes. It was fantastic. Simply by bribing the King and ten members of his Cabinet. she succeeded in blocking every kind of development by citizens of other countries. unfortunately. ENTER A CONQUEROR. especially for me. had her complete espionage system." But because I remained. Then she would thoroughly exploit Albania. of course. The Albanians are primitive. virile race ever had? Who has ever in all the centuries bothered about them except to exploit them? Who has ever held out a hand to help them except to help himself ? No one. for the record only. so also did the jittery king. Fortunately I had a "friend at court. the drain of her expensive military enterprises elsewhere would end. Surely the cost to us in lives alone has demonstrated the crime of our neglect. I knew what was already clear to the least observant person (except. Someday. But I then worked out a plan for the complete reorganization of the country under "advisory control. liberty-loving. Nor was I the only suspect. Practically every third man in the country was a paid spy. They simply could not believe that anyone." My soi-disant partner wasn't going to let the goose. every member of the Cabinet had his separate espionage service. of course. Ruth Mitchell 6. every effort was made to make things uncomfortable for me and squeeze me out. My means and my interest in antiquities aroused the hope that I would undertake surveys and excavations without adding another grabbing hand to those already deep in the national treasury. understandably.

self-satisfied blindness and carelessness of my countrymen horrified me. also the pathetic scramble to mobilize the half-armed little Albanian Army. Two weeks after my arrival I received an order of expulsion from the country. . He then gathered up the gold plate. Italy. it was still a rutted dirt road when I was there. I heard and have reason to believe that Italy paid three separate times for hard-surfacing the road from Durazzo to Tirana. go up to Dubrovnik until this little unpleasantness blows over. the jewels. In traveling I always used my British passport to facilitate my entry into British territories. In Durazzo I asked Sir Andrew Ryan. I was therefore now "unmasked" as a Russian agent. especially as there was nothing I could do about it. I watched the panic flight of all the prominent people who had not bought their peace with Italy. Back in the Balkans. On Good Friday. But if you wish to please me you will return to Scutari. Each time the money went into government pockets. I939. I learned. There was something to be said for Italy. It was evident now what was coming. I decided that I had had about enough excitement. So Zog was now gaily trying to sell out to any other bidder. tired of financing the private extravagances of the King. although now every other foreign woman and most foreign men precipitately fled the country. a British subject. and all the available government cash and departed." One of the boys." He would not believe that Italy meant business. In December I938 I returned to America. and after considerable effort he got the expulsion order suspended. simply "Communists. what he personally would wish me to do. This. The most-used highway in the country. probably under wicked torture. was an order from Italy through her tools in the Government. So after just three weeks I engaged my return passage. had tightened up on grants. the minister. To show how unsafe Albanian investment was under the Zog government. Then things really began to happen. It was to provide an Axis bridgehead in the Balkans for the purpose of driving a wedge across Macedonia. But here the smug. as the revocation of my expulsion was something of a diplomatic victory for him. It happens that I am both an American citizen and. with its attendant uproars. had stated that I had financed the rising. She had even tried to finance improvements as far as it was safe.We now know that the occupation of Albania by Italy was a prelude to the German plan for subduing the Serbs. He replied: "If you want to be on the safe side. a Communist. The stupefied faces of my persecutors gave me some amusement. During my absence some enthusiastic and patriotic college boys had tried to stage a coup against the Government. I reached Scutari again on March 12. I did return and calmly took my hunting dogs for a walk through the town. I would at least be in it-not just reading about it in the papers. The money which should have paid for its equipment had gone instead into corrupt pockets and into-gold plate. She had given college educations to hundreds of Albanian boys. I was determined to remain. They had even set up a secret printing press in the mountains. thus cutting the Fighting Serbs off from any help from outside. by marriage. They had all been caught and labeled. The King posted proclamations calling upon his dear subjects to fight till death for their country and their king. Italy attacked Albania without the Axis discarded formality of declaring war. After the annexation of Austria by Germany. I therefore appealed to the British minister in Durazzo. like all those who opposed the corrupt Government. I939.

So they went. converging on the roads." That day my interpreter discovered a fantastic plot amongst the frantic townspeople to murder Maitland and myself. I think it was the most thrilling and the most pitiable sight I have ever seen. were beside themselves with hatred of the Italians. these proudly martial. but these poor people were desperate. "Weapons. Hussein. like all the other men. that they would guard me with their lives. You must leave. "You are the only foreign woman left in the whole country. rape! You positively must leave. in scarlet gold-embroidered jackets and skin-tight white trousers." among them Mr. murder. I put my foot on the running board-I took it down-I put it on-I took it down. Yes. Madly they dashed from one end of the town to the other as rumors spread that secret hoards of weapons had been found. He was quite worried about me. long-since-discarded rule that "England revenges her nationals. a grand old lady of whom I was very fond. Maitland got the very last car for me. springing down the steep paths. Maitland of the London Times. Not. I have to go on to Tirana-I can't stay to look after you. their brilliant silk headscarves and sashes blowing in the breeze. in columns led by their chieftains in full regalia." they cried. Then England must interfere. thin Arab muskets inlaid with mother-of-pearl. from the pathless snowcapped mountains. And for ammunition they had only the few bullets each man carried in his belt. . they believed. and Halil. lithe. I just had to see it through. They failed signally. they were naive. On Easter Sunday the Christian women brought colored Easter eggs to their Mohammedan acquaintances as a gesture of warm good will. hopeless men. long. if you please. if you like. Her three sons. They were determined to get me out.The Italians tried to foment religious hatred in order to disunite the country. and grimly the hopeless townspeople watched them go. muzzleloaders. the entry of a conquering army? Loot. down through the towering virgin forests. that I would be injured only over their dead bodies. where his plane waited to fly me to Belgrade. . The young men of Scutari were frantic. Shucho. to oppose on the gray foothills the khaki-clad conquerors armed with deadly machine guns. I simply couldn't leave. "You must leave at once. But in their strong hands were such guns as made me weep to see: -ancient rifles polished bright. their gold buttons and silver chains glinting and swinging: surely the most romantically gallant figures to be seen in Europe. Down they came from the hidden valleys. Then came the march of the mountain men. When the three sons of my hostess. . for their feet were clad in rawhide sandals. because they didn't like us-but because of the old. gave Maitland their Albanian oath (besa) that they would never let me out of their sight. A Yugoslav aviator was to drive me to the frontier. I was staying with the mother of my interpreter. he gave way. they marched into the town: tall. In came the pressmen of the world to see "the show." he urged. There was no sound. Grimly they passed. "any sort of weapons with which to fight the loathed enemy!" Appeals for help to the Great Powers all went unheeded. weapons. broad-shouldered fighters. Then. and I watched strong men go almost mad with grief and shame." It was to be made to appear that we had been killed by the Italians. in scarlet and white. and her fleet would come to the help of Albania! . and they almost succeeded in frightening me. Do you realize what it means.

came out to meet him. the Italians having instantly drained the country of all gold. For. the Albanians saw that to defend Scutari would be merely to sacrifice good men senselessly. Without a word they shot him dead. He had a few tribesmen with him. the sad figure in genuine Malissori dress stood holding the drooping flag at the reception of Ciano and was photographed from all angles. When in a completely fuddled state. was to pinch-hit for a cautious Mussolini and make his triumphal entry into Tirana." I watched the entrance of the Italians. He agreed. therefore. being a Mohammedan unused to alcohol. They took the money. the capital. When the South had been overrun. A group of officers took over the Prefecture. Near his village his whole tribe. They hated the Italians. was tempted to drink and. but even more bitterly they now hated the Great Powers who had deserted them in their hour of need. considered indispensable to have one genuine Albanian mountain chieftain present who might be regarded as representing his joyful tribe. which to those bitterly poor people represented many months of easier living. There happened at that moment to be one of the smallest and least important of these chieftains in Tirana on family business. and made a bonfire and burned it. Count Ciano. They then sent messengers to all the surrounding tribes. His tribesmen had disappeared. They took their oath so seriously that even when I was dressing I had to hold up my hand behind a screen so that they could see me! What fun we had! Strange how in the midst of such terrible grief we could still laugh. in spite of every conceivable lure and bribe. I was literally not a second out of their sight. Promptly the surrounding heights burst out into a rash of little soldiers and big guns. It was. He was to be accompanied by a batch of foreign journalists to see for themselves the "delight" of the conquered. It took him four days of walking to get there. having given his Albanian word. it had been found impossible to get even one responsible mountain chief to offer his allegiance. alas. And the Italians gently filtered into the town. the usual currency) he set out for home. We even made a little song something to this effect: "We brothers three. The mountaineers were persuaded to slip away home-to fight again when the time was ripe. We're here to see The lady's not Put on the spot. Next morning. He was unsuspiciously got hold of. . including his own family. he was offered the to him enormous sum of fifty napoleons (about $200) simply to stand somewhere next day holding an Italian flag-nothing more.They watched me from then on like hawks. Ten days after the occupation was completed. apologizing for having had such a contemptible traitor for their chief and announcing what they had done about it. With the money in his pocket (it was paper of course. This in no way placated the Albanians. Then the prefect of Scutari went to meet the invaders and capitulate. and the Italian flag was run up only to the same height as the Albanian. The henchmen refused to drink. was easily reduced to a state of confusion. the beautiful and loyal "best friend" of the now ex-King Zog.

received no notice. Hitler now sent it to Mussolini. But now the Fascist party took over. liberty-loving race. and this crown of the doughty old fighter for Albanian liberty was placed by the Italian king upon his own head. We started on the road to Durazzo but turned off suddenly and sped all-out for a small frontier post toward Antivari. Instantly came the order to leave the country within four hours. their yells dying away in the distance. The Great Powers filed a formal "no recognition"-and forgot. The Italian attitude toward me had begun to be very strained. I flourished all sorts of irrelevant but important-looking documents and. we had shot across the frontier. of hopeless despair swept through a humbled. Expostulation proving useless. with its regular officers. joined me. deciding to remain longer than she had planned. Flavel applied for permission to make a trip back to Yugoslavia for clothes. fighting the Turks against enormous odds. When. I was in Yugoslavia. While the Italian Army. A minor Albanian clerk got word to me that I was to be searched at the port and all notes and photographs taken from me. Could insulting cynicism go further? A shudder of fury. before they had collected their wits.I listened to Mussolini's proclamation in which he promised that Albania would "soon be three times as large" as it was then and that the Albanian flag would be flown level with the Italian flag on all ships-ofwar: Mussolini promises. suspicion flared into certainty: she was obviously my courier and I was now certainly an agent of the British Intelligence Service. Their great national hero is Skanderbeg. . Now the literally crowning insult to the conquered people was perpetrated. and the instant difference was very striking and ominous. His crown was the national emblem of Albania. and one saw whole flocks and herds being driven off to be shipped to Italy. It had found its way long ago into a museum in Vienna. who for twenty-five years succeeded in keeping his country free. The frontier guards had. I got a quick visa from the Yugoslav consul who had often most courteously extended his government's invitation to me to visit his country. never kept. Fascism began to be clamped down on a beaten people. some sincerity of good will was apparent. was in control. Kansas. Then Flavel Barnes of Pratt. of course. I then notified the commandant that I would leave via Durazzo.

and the music from the near-by square so alluring that we strolled down there. ran the gossip. My heart felt crushed with pity for the tragic and guiltless people I had left behind. Almost one expected oversize saints and angels to flutter above the battlements. crowded with foreigners with money to spend. We noticed that the people began passing us closely and staring at me. tired from an excursion and not expecting to go out again. with its great. prosperous. We made every possible effort to buy a car in Yugoslavia. asking him to come and drive us. it seemed to me that that scarlet sunset. One evening. We wrote to Shucho. He had almost reached the frontier again when he was arrested and thrown into prison. and though he was warned. But tourist business was very brisk and we could not find one for sale. he decided to risk it. As we passed along the indescribably magnificent littoral of Montenegro. I was called the "femme fatale of Dubrovnik. crenellated walls set boldly out into the sea. He arrived. was lit with a spangle of lights. and begged not to return into Italian territory. as "spies. bought the car. Ruth Mitchell 7. who spoke all the necessary languages and drove well. imploring me to secure their release. could not be real. through Budva of the Beautiful Beaches. my Albanian interpreter. Flavel and I decided to make a complete tour of the Balkans by car. Dubrovnik. and I received a frantic message from their mother. Shucho knew of a suitable one in Scutari. In May I939 Dubrovnik was gay. the very sunlight of Yugoslavia seemed more golden. Children ran out gaily in greeting and threw leaves into the car: children hid in Albania. A BOW TO AN OLD BALKAN CUSTOM AFTER THE HEAVY GLOOM of oppression in Albania. The women waved and laughed: women veiled or wept in Albania. They were charged with acting as my agents. the moon shone so bright. After dinner. Flavel and I began to explore some of the world's finest scenery. the air more buoyant. and started back. however." They were the breadwinners of a large family. that I had never in my life seen such loveliness. little tables crowded with cheerful humanity. the music softly accompanied by the moonlit waves breaking under the towering age-old walls. a dream city taken from some medieval illuminated missal. We stood in a quiet corner to enjoy the charming scene: the palm trees. I heard later. Halil. and on along the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik (Ragusa). He went. she observes everything" is a quotation from a letter my lawyer later saw in my dossier. urged. "What else can she be but a spy?" From that night on. "A slinky black dress and flowers. the air was so mellow. I slipped into a long black silk "hostess" gown with flowered sleeves. together with his younger brother. . eager.The Serbs Chose War. white. glowing across the rocky islets set in a silver sea. a serpentine figure and red hair"-so." Busybodies got busy. and now I began to appear in the suspicion books of the Yugoslav Government: "In her quiet way.

who also had liked the boys. The hero of my thriller was a brave little man. and a buzz as of angry bees. street women known to be sleeping with high Italian officers in Scutari.I was. since Italians. Any hope of my getting a visa for Albania was. blackmailers. Then I ran at top speed to the prefecture to get there before the news of my arrival. Nevertheless I decided to go. Among others I had written to Herr von Pannwitz. including the Queen of Italy. Captain Marolli of the Carabinieri. furious shouts. Marolli returned and sat down glaring at me.. I have been unsuccessful in securing their release. the German minister to Albania. Soon I became involved with an extraordinary cast of characters: spies. and began pulling every conceivable string to secure their release. of course. "By bus. I simply could not do it: I had to get those boys out of prison. After a night in Podgoritsa and a start at 4 A. drove in his own car to the frontier. I arranged means of getting in touch with the boys inside the prison and supplied them and their family with money. Though he had never seen me he knew at once who I was. out of the question. who also loved the boys and who three times risked his life by slipping across the frontier to help them. another friend of great influence in the Balkans. on the Montenegrin coast of the Adriatic near the Albanian frontier. determined to plunge across if the bus came out again without me. corrupt officials. She set off without me. But parties of Germans were being taken by bus for a few hours in Scutari to observe the delights of the Italian occupation. Imagine my surprise: the town was gaily decorated for the arrival next day-again.of the busy and charming Count Cianol I was instantly shown into the office of the acting commandant of Scutari. the last diplomat left in Tirana. and Imre Gal. as you know. of course. we arrived in Scutari at eight in the morning. Everyone who might have any influence was approached. Flavel engaged another chauffeur and at last secured a car. of course. How else?" "You are under arrest!" He seized my British pass. a Jew." I had some reason to think this might be a trap. In vain. always dislike refusing a request from a lady. and ran out into the corridor. yes. "How did you get here?" he screamed. I began quietly explaining the situation to him from the very beginning. My name was smuggled onto one of these "omnibus passes. begging me to the last moment to come too. So now I settled down in Budva. which I had with me. I therefore strongly advise you to go yourself to Scutari and address your request personally to the authorities." My friend the Yugoslav director of the bus company was so alarmed that he decided to accompany me on the pretext of road inspection. again. a Montenegrin princess. The instant the bus stopped I asked the director to wait one hour for me at the hotel and then take whatever action he thought best. extremely upset and felt responsible for the lives of these boys who had unquestionably been prepared to give their own lives for my safety only a few weeks before.M. His reply was as follows: "In spite of every effort. Ensued a banging of doors. .

sir. I will get rid of these interruptions. Meanwhile the director. I collected my wits and became even more politely formal. She is here"-an informer on the job. Much as I appreciate the compliment you pay me. "instantly released if you will agree to remain here in Scutari with me." said this fat. The performance lasted for another hour. however. He decided that I must be put across the frontier immediately. He had unbuttoned his jacket. So this sort of thing did really happen outside of novels! When I looked down I saw my knees visibly trembling like those of a character in the comics. "I want you to listen to me. I have my own family to think of. disgusting bloodhound in the gentlest voice. He wept. with full attention. Please proceed. "Madam. dressing formally. "I am sure. I began to notice. mon capitaine. hurried to the prefecture and announced: "This lady is here under the direct protection of the Yugoslav Government. was sent out again more and more peremptorily. . "Yes." he said. I will give you proof of my profound sincerity." He switched the phone to a secretary next door." He went to the side door and gave his secretary an order for the immediate release of the younger boy. Even more astonishing. "The boys will be released. I must warn you that if she is molested. his good manners-and I consider this no second-rate victory-did not desert him. and was a great responsibility for him to take. Nothing was more certain than that if I antagonized him now he would take it out on the boys. that it is simply because you have not seen a European woman for some months that I make such an impression on you. "I am listening. sir." This far exceeded his authority. had sped away to the Yugoslav consul who. He forgot himself and smiled." I don't know what gods I called upon. I finished my story. sir [all this was mostly in French. Everyone who came into the room. But this was anything but funny. his high color returned. Slowly he began to relax. I regret exceedingly that it is impossible. I'm afraid. "Dash the thing. "there is such a thing as love at first sight. what would your answer be?" "My answer. and I have to start from the beginning each time!" I felt that the boys' lives depended on my getting him into a good humor. See. Suddenly he got up and locked the corridor door. but I kept on smiling. If I asked you if you had ever kissed a man the first time you saw him. my Italian being inadequate for subtleties] would be 'No'. Halil. let the boys go. he continued to behave with courtesy and respect. "Will you please. When he saw that it was useless. now that you know how absurd it all is?" He sat looking at me without answering. alarmed at my non-appearance." He made the most astonishing fool of himself. of course. madam.The telephone rang-I could hear an excited voice squealing the news. my government will take a very serious view of the matter." I laughed. yes. Again and again the phone rang.

The war broke out soon afterwards. And so it was done: we bribed everybody from the prison governor down to the smallest turnkey-quite possibly even Marolli himself. and-Italy was now the third country for which I had been proved a spy! I had failed again. Soon came the news that Shucho had been transferred to a malarial island off Valona.000 dinars (about $3. Then Vaso appeared. "Why all these complicated schemes?" he asked me calmly. all agog with excitement and curiosity. He bewailed the advantages of Abyssinia. intelligent Montenegrin frontier policeman who had hidden my messengers on the little lake steamer and been otherwise helpful. . came up. "They've been fun. The bus hove in sight. with a young Carabiniere lieutenant and two armed soldiers. handed me in. I was driven to the frontier. It took time and cost me about 150. I felt miserable and desperate. Why not go at the thing simply and straightforwardly now and finish it?" "How?" I breathed. He explained what he meant. where he had just been stationed. having writ. the lunch. at a sharp word of command the platoon of soldiers. was carefully laid out and punctiliously served by the guards. He was a huge. presented arms. who remained my trusty and dependable henchman. amazed.Captain Marolli now ordered "the best car in Scutari" and an elaborate lunch. including wine. the same post where I had escaped before. later joined General Mihailovich. Arrived at the post. Vaso. My last information was that he had been killed in action. and Shucho returned to fight in the abortive revolt of the Albanian mountaineers. drawn up like a guard of honor. of course. but the boy arrived at last in Yugoslavia. Immediately on arrival in Dubrovnik they spread the information that I was an Italian emissary: had I not received the most distinguished military send-off? The official finger wrote and. and stood at the salute as the bus moved off-the Germans. he put me into the car himself with many bows and hand-kissings and. As I prepared to mount. which he believed would always be a liability rather than an asset to Italy. moved on. The lieutenant gave himself infinite pains to entertain me. but I'm getting tired of at the then current exchange). I made no explanations-but they did. and this had seemed the last hope. and stopped. compared with Albania. And now occurred a curious and ominous incident. The attractive lieutenant bowed over my hand.

And through the long centuries until today. like Lokrum. as in a heroic opera. Serbian. even to the island lying.The Serbs Chose War.. my favorite Balkan melody. . Budva was very primitive.]" Ineffable the sweetness of this. neither is it honor. Ruth Mitchell 8. guided by my friend Rado Zambalich. I studied them with absorption. it is not riches. at this moment. and I discovered that Goethe had considered the Serbian epics to be the finest in the world. the smart. snug was its tiny harbor for the snub-nosed Turkish sailing ships with wooden turbans on their prows and huge eyes painted on their bows. [So far.. hunted for ancient Greek remains washed up by the sea: pieces of pottery or statuettes more than two thousand years old. For them freedom means not only national but individual freedom for each man: every man a little king. with no electricity and with streets too narrow and winding for wheeled traffic. but it is liberty alone that we fight and contend for. For see how strangely. and Macedonian songs. But it is a race of strikingly individual character. sunny Adriatic or sometimes. strumming their guitars and singing the lovely Dalmatian. they have defended their and our own ideal of democracy with their blood.. almost word for word. "Tamo daleko. I MEET KING'S SON MARKO So THE SUMMER OF I939 passed in Budva of the Beautiful Beaches. So they are speaking and acting now. out in the bay. That ideal can be expressed in a single word: Freedom. it was a sort of miniature Dubrovnik. of extraordinary tenacity of purpose and ideal. But its surrounding mountain scenery was far more magnificent. During the residence of the King at his near-by summer palace. as it floated across the calm. For centuries. The Serbs are a very small race. I had discovered what I consider to be one of the great literary treasures of humanity. and worked hard." Thus have spoken the Serbs throughout their history.and never. Through the mellow nights the local boys wandered up and down the rose-hung streets or drifted in little boats. Their whole history is simply the epic of the struggle of humanity for liberty. theatrical effect. Cockily its little medieval walls stood out into the waves. "It is not glory. the events chronicled in their epics of five hundred years ago have repeated themselves in the present war. since before America was even discovered. Once a nest of the notorious Adriatic pirates. white-uniformed naval officers passing with their pretty lassies at night through dim-lit arches gave the town an unreal. far too little known by the outside world: the national epics of Serbia. even surpassing the German Niebelungenlied. And every day I worked.. so far. never once a strain of jazz. For in the intervals of my prison-breaking plots. my love. there were before the war not more than eight million of them. moonlit waters. All day I either bathed in the warm. the same motif returns. which no honest man will lose but with his life.

He and his men deliberately chose the latter. so that those behind could prepare. in Albania.On the eve of the battle of Kossovo in I389. yours and mine and America's. like Horatio on the bridge. huge vines that threw their gnarled old branches over trellised arbors. Today they stand as no other race is standing and they are dying as no other race is dying. The grapevines were in flower. I plunged into a study of Kraljevich Marko. They died. and property-or "a heavenly kingdom": death in a hopeless cause. We picked them up and sucked them while we chattered and laughed in the hot Albanian afternoon. Have you ever smelled the scent of the Oriental grape in flower? It is exquisite and intoxicating. Some boys from the high school who wanted to practice their English used to come to tea. I was amazed and delighted. the leader of the Serbs. and his almost equally heroic horse. as in I389. vassalage to the Turks. . tangled garden of my lovely vizier's house. One boy said something about Kraljevich Marko (King's Son Marko) . holding back single-handed the conquering horde. (What a splendid historical compensation it would be if the Turks. even as today. So. was offered "an earthly kingdom"-that is. an enormous mulberry tree. Before I had finished I was able to offer a prize of five dollars to anyone who could tell me a detail about him I did not know or could start a story about him which I could not finish. put his hands behind his head-and let me have it. but General Draja Mihailovich. went out against a numerically superior and better-armed Turkish army. curly-headed boy. SO sing those ancient songs. If they had not fought as they did fight then and unceasingly afterwards. In that event our history. I have a passion for legendary tales. It was in Scutari.and there were dozens. Tale after tale he told about the great Serbian hero. I'll never forget how I got my first inkling of those great Serbian epics. They stood and they died. Several connoisseurs gaily tried but had to admit themselves defeated. so intoxicating that thick swarms of bees and enormous butterflies are apt to fall drunk with an orgy of grape nectar into one's lap and down one's neck. life. and the white squashy fruits kept dropping round us. above the grapevines. but I didn't. So one of them. might have been very different: our culture might have been Ottomanized. Marko. "is he?" Startled looks passed from eye to eye: Had this unfortunate foreigner had no education at all? "You don't know about Kraljevich Marko?" It seemed impossible. as seems today not unlikely. soon after reaching Montenegro. Prince Lazar. a black-eyed. should be the ones to help the Serbs to save their liberty!) Could there be a more perfect parallel in present history than the German offers and promises to the Serbs? In 1941. in the ancient. their choice that day profoundly influenced the destiny of nations. with security of frontiers. and-died. lying on the ground amongst the white mulberries and the drunk butterflies. but. Over us spread." said I. the Turks would almost certainly have overrun the whole of Europe. "And who. Only this time the name is not Prince Lazar. this tiny race on the narrow road between Europe and Asia stood. Sharats or Shahrin.

away from the horrors of the present and the dread of a dark future.Later. with only the poorest of poor equipment. the deathless champion of human justice and liberty. King's Son Marko is Serbia today. with a great laugh at the sheer thrill of the fight He is the Serbian peasant. Yet he never cries for help. but always with the bitter consciousness that his successes are only a part of a larger struggle which can only be hopeless because of the odds against his race. He is always ready to try again at the drop of the hat. shelterless. He is Serbia. He fights and he wins. pride. his self-reliance. that the Turks could not risk a great Serbian revolt by an overt murder." The cycle expresses the heartrending yet heartening cry of the hopelessly defeated who yet never lose courage. they continue to fight. It is related that King's Son Marko was just too young to take part in the fatal battle of Kossovo. He never loses his enthusiasm. fighting without ceasing for justice to his people. absurdly outnumbered. this store of tales proved a strange blessing. as in the epics of all other nations. who are laboring and resisting from dawn to dawn. Foodless. Not he the conquering hero who. his loyalty to word and oath. his faithfulness to his friends in whatever situation. when the Serbs became vassals to the Turks. and hope. he is Mihailovich and the Chetniks. is our ally today in the Balkans. an ally whose real value we have only begun to realize. drawn out with fanciful elaboration. emerges crowned with victory. to lure the minds of my wretched fellow prisoners away into another world. King's Son Marko himself. He was so adored by his people for his courage. . Night after night I told stories. he is all the nameless men and women-don't forget the women-who have sacrificed all they possessed. in the prisons. Hence much of this cycle of songs concerns the attempts of the Sultan to have him killed in fight or by "accident. But he grew up to be the indomitable champion of his downtrodden race.

with a graceful little threefold open-arch bell tower where the bells hung free to the winds. Across a small bay lay a hill of silvery. which he almost invented as he went along. Then they were turned into what he happily believed was German. the professor rendered the resounding phrases of his country's wonderful tales. Into this German. there came day after day to read to me a man who was himself a reincarnation of the greatest of those ancient heroes. How happily I used to run along the hall to see what it would be today! To my room came also their old teacher. He so exactly reproduced the type of the old fighters that his features were used by Mestrovich.P. It was like something off a wedding cake. his large foot beating time to the heroic rhythm. bought. massive city walls. rosy face and silver hair. sang to the merry hopping of small boys. and my friend M. To Professor Milosavljevich I am profoundly indebted for sharing with me the epic lore of his race. profoundly thankful that the epic language of all countries has much similarity. The firelight shone on his eager. to him and to my good friend. a turtle. He came every day for almost a year. as the model for his own conception of King's Son Marko. and with some fine antique weapons and brocades I had gathered. Professor Milosavljevich. with a tiny Orthodox church at least seven hundred years old. a special fruit. The winter after the war broke out in Europe I was absolutely alone in the hotel. These he loved so well that he could not resist booming them out first in the original.The Serbs Chose War. This is how we worked. In front of the church drooped a few palm trees. so that I should not feel lonely. when I was convalescing after a bout with pneumonia. MY BROTHER VUKOSAVA IN BUDVA OF THE BEAUTIFUL BEACHES my room was built in the ancient. Ruth Mitchell 9. beside it stood a cocky little fortress with a huge flag blowing bravely out to sea. And I. built up in layers of pink and white marble. In Belgrade. Besides his own language the old gentle man had only a faint and evanescent knowledge of German. and we translated together seventeen volumes of ancient songs and epics. which I speak as easily as English. At the proper times the schoolboys used to take turns at jumping madly up and down on the bell ropes. borrowed and even stolen by well-wishers. was a direct descendant of the old Nemanye kings. where the very men of whom I was hearing had perhaps once prayed for victory. a half-dead starfish. the Slav sculptor. Its balcony (now destroyed by the explosion of an Italian mine) directly overhung the blue Adriatic. twisted olive trees. And behind all this rose the towering Montenegrin mountains.I listened with inexpressible delight to the splendid deeds of heroes of long ago. Beside me was a miniature monastery like a toy.P. My room was furnished with colorful Serbian rugs. the bells of the little church. or something they had made. M. and after that I wrote it all down in English. . Serbs of breeding all know their pedigrees for many generations. the wintry sea boomed and clashed under the window. usually crowned with snow. bright as stained-glass windows. Each day the children would bring me some little gift: a shell.

There were in our party several high officials of the Yugoslav Government. were humble with admiration of his great wild elder brother who was voicing the deepest instinct of their race: unflinching resistance to oppression. Their dark. We were sitting on rough benches in the great beamed and smoke-darkened kitchen with a group of beautifully costumed retainers and peasants.P. with their rich cities. Knowing of my life in the Albanian mountains and seeing my pleasure and ease in the "discomforts" of his own wild territory. my love . the leader of the Sanjak Chetniks. It was magnificent." for it was not long before he became just that. his eyes were almost wet. against the Turks. The circle of eyes. whose head formed a roughly carved horseman. their artificial theaters and delicate. they are being sung by Mihailovich's fighters in the high mountain passes of Montenegro. Our host. bloody tyrant. Then in his deep. M. The firelight flashed on the jeweled royal decorations hanging at M. handsome. fierce faces showed. He was famous as a great fighter.P. it was unique. the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. . He had that afternoon made a great speech to about 40. as real to living men today as ever they were in the past. years ago. We had a long talk as we marched over his rough uncultivated lands. I say "my brother. at this moment. I can think of nothing I wish more than to grasp again one day the tough hand of this. . and I.'s throat and on his breast and on his magnificent gold-embroidered Montenegrin dress. including those of my fine educated gentlemen from Belgrade. in one of the most savage parts of Montenegro. the old chief of the Sanjak Chetniks. translated those beautiful epics fluently hour after hour into the most exquisite French.'s older brother. my Chetnik brother. fighting again for freedom. They are as alive.000 of his countrymen concerning-of all anachronisms-a railroad at last to Montenegro. of whom my friend was one. could the cultured. rough skillful fingers are touching the strings there in wild lands where no German dares to tread. entombed in books for the pleasure of the few. Huge. [So far. in the deep Bosnian forests. one a professor. civilized countries. as his ancestors before him have fought. these Serbian heroic songs are not dead. he laughingly said: . offer in exchange for this vivid. primitively human reality? You may be certain that this singer of great songs has gone out into the mountains to take his German and Italian heads. . in the flickering light from the open central fire. fierce. now shadowy. He explained to me the history and purpose of the organization. What. First a song of Serbian heroes-and then: "Tamo daleko .This huge man. He sang of how his great-uncle killed a notorious. He sang one of his own family songs. his expressive face reflecting dramatically the emotions of his own ancestors about whom he was reading. in the little hidden cabins lost in the drifting snow. gleamed with pride. harsh voice he began to sing. He sang of deeds that were as natural to himself as breathing. And with him went his two sons. holding an equally outsize volume. Now. accustomed to the ceremonies of royal courts.P. all the safety here. so far. Unlike those of other Western countries. was a perfect Viking of a fellow.]" And in spite of all the comfort. At the age of sixty he is out in the great snows of the Sanjak. how bitterly I wish that I were there with them! One evening I was visiting the family of M. . I thought. chasing his wild sheep-Vukosava. an echo of remote unreality. now bright. As a matter of course he called for his gusle (a sort of two-stringed guitar). Suleiman Pasha. As I write. their everlasting bars. emasculated concerts. now the very heart of Chetnik resistance.

One died fighting. se spremte. "You'll do. as sings every marching Chetnik: "Spremte. silna che borba da bude Iz ove nase pobede. I will fight. . gray. He stopped laughing and looked at me for some time thoughtfully. "Boga mi [By God]." I said. you'll do for us." he shouted." I said. "He gave me his sword before he died. incredibly gaunt against the gray mountainside. . The other is known to my countrymen as 'Fighting General Billy. Shoulder to shoulder-though my shoulder only came to his elbow -we tramped back singing. radja se sunce slobode ."You yourself would make a good Chetnik-a real Chetnik if ever I saw one. I'll stand your toom [sponsor] myself. with eagle eye and eagle nose. "If Serbia needed you-would you fight?" he asked suddenly. Why don't you join us ?" I replied soberly that I would think it over but that I was doubtful if I could measure up to the necessary standard. Chetnitsi. "I will fight gladly for Serbia if Serbia should ever need my services. My two brothers fought in the last war for America. "My father was a fighter in the American Civil War. I can see him now." He clapped me on the back with a blow that almost sent me reeling." said the old chief.' My son fights in this war for England. tall as a totem pole. making the very rocks re-echo." . It has always hung above my bed. Vukosava.

Bulgarians. They are the Serbian Chetniks. newspaper and magazine editors. The Chetniks are Serbs. The Chetniks have nothing in common with the Yugoslav idea-they are the Serbian idea. or brotherhood of fighters. a well-known Serb writer and historian. the Serbian language. or the Serbian epics. which meant to die in battle for liberty. and even a few Croats have been received into their ranks. with whom I fully agree. In I389 the Serbs lost their national independence in the great Battle of Kossovo Field. a Serbian way of life and ideal." This is absurd and a contradiction in terms. and he himself was killed in battle. THE CHETNIKS ARE SERBS RADIO COMMENTATORS. Ruth Mitchell 10. The word 'Yugoslavia' conveys only a geographical idea. for instance. and writers have made many weird and ill-informed statements about the Chetniks. or to accept an earthly kingdom. "After Serbia was subdued by the Turks. But his noble example started a tradition among the Serbian people: the passionate belief that it is better to die the death of a hero than to live the life of a slave. "The Serbian Chetniks existed many centuries before the Yugoslav idea was ever born. a nation with a language.' A Chetnik therefore means one of the company. And although now many Slovenes and some Albanians.' It made heroes out of simple peasants. "The Serbian Chetniks are the product of a purely Serbian tradition. Peyovich says: "The Chetniks are just as much Serbian as is. Peyovich. which meant to rule Serbia under the Turks as a vassal state.' Later they formed companies. . they remain what they always have been. "This tradition has been observed throughout the centuries to the present day. They are often referred to as "Yugoslav Chetniks.The Serbs Chose War. and a culture entirely its own. It created a high sense of duty toward the country. To explain this now internationally famous and to the United Nations increasingly important organization of guerrilla fighters. The American and the Serbian ideals are the same: the great ideal of liberty. many people fled the country. across the rivers Sava and Danube into the then deserted Hungarian borderlands where they continued their fight against the Crescent. L. his brave knights slain. a political ideology. the Serbian leader. the Serbian Church.'Chete. the Serbian Chetniks. On the other hand. But those fighters who remained in Serbia went to the mountains and were called 'haiduks. This is what Mr. So his army was slaughtered. Nothing else. and established standards of 'heirs to heroism. M. "To understand the meaning of the word 'Chetnik' we must go back almost six hundred years to the Turks. the word 'Serbia' denotes definitely a race of people. just as much as the American frontiersmen were the product of purely American conditions and American pioneering ideals. just that.' from which comes the word 'Chetnik. Prince Lazar was at that time confronted with two alternatives: either to accept the Kingdom of God. "Prince Lazar for himself and his people chose the former. I cannot do better than quote Mr. According to tradition. a religion. and a political setup.

but kept on fighting. which has inspired uncountable thousands to their death for the cause of liberty. as a herald of happier days to come for the Serbian people. He.' says the Chetnik song. 'Planino moja starino [Mountain. But there were many Chetnik leaders in the Serbian mountains before him. One generation after another withstood the most terrible punishment. These brave and determined men kept the torch of liberty burning in Serbia for five long centuries. as a true. Djordje Skopljanats.' remember that you are hearing the hymn of the Serbian Chetniks and not a Yugoslav song. has just followed the tradition of Kossovo. the Chetnik idea is just as strange and as foreign to those other groups who are now attempting to follow his lead as they are misunderstood by many American commentators. It is a war song. old struggle of the Serbian Chetniks for the free way of life as the Serbs love it. It is the anthem of the only free spot in the Balkans. which has astounded the whole world.' where Draja Mihailovich and his brave men are making new history. Much less has he borrowed any Chetnik idea from any other national group in Yugoslavia. America's stanch ally. and many others stud the brilliant pages of Serbian history and will live forever in the memory of Serbs. unrelenting. Bogdan Zimonjich. "Mihailovich has combined the Serbian idea and the instinctive national heroism with his genius for leadership. brave. my old mountain]. "Draja Mihailovich has not started anything new. Vuk Popovich. and worthy son of his people. after centuries.' "At last. 'Spremte se spremte Chetnitsi."From that time onward the very same mountains and forests where Draja Mihailovich fights the enemy today became the home of the Serbian Chetniks." . Uncounted legions of Chetniks died for the very same cause for which the Chetniks are dying today. "This song is now echoing through the hidden mountain passes of Serbia. "So when you hear the great and gripping marching song. perhaps the greatest on earth. the 'Island of Freedom. 'for holy cross and golden liberty [za Krst casni i slobodu zlatnu]. and the free kingdom of Serbia began to be established in 1804 The Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and the present guerrilla warfare in the mountains of Serbia are nothing else but a continuation of the old. their ceaseless struggles were successful. On the contrary. Such names as Yovan Babunski of World War I.

completely forgotten old monastery in a lovely valley opening to the sea. for freedom for every man to walk upright. I even had my own German prisoner: a husky youth who was trying to return home to join his army and whom. the place where I was meant to be. their pride and dignity. how useful could I be there? I remembered Lord Beaverbrook's dictum: "Make yourself master of one single subject and the time must come when your knowledge will be valuable. It had in its cellar a tiny windowless chapel. I collected groups of peasants and told them clearly what the Allies were fighting for: for liberty for the small nations." I discovered an exquisite. overhung with orange and lemon trees. in the traditions and ways of life which each thought best. Each of us was absorbed in trying to guess what was in store for our countries and to decide what he or she ought to do. I began to study the Serbian language-and I can tell you that to master one's first Slav language is a fearful task. a group of friends and I sat or walked up and down the avenue of gigantic mulberry trees in front of the row of small restaurants which possessed the only radios in the town.The Serbs Chose War. Should I return to England or America? If I did. I prevented from leaving. No matter how many Latin languages one speaks they are of no use at all in learning a Slav language. I really loved them. It had a red marble terrace about a hundred feet long. And again I became suspect. the Balkans. There was a new law that no foreigner could buy property within fifty miles of the coast. probably. Ruth Mitchell 11. I admired their stern struggle for the barest existence. I studied the history and customs of the different regions and races of the Balkans. AGAIN EXPULSION? September 4 1939 England and France at war with Germany. In Budva." I decided to make Serbia. with every man or woman who spoke a word of English. . I traveled all over Montenegro and talked. so I had to petition the Government for permission to purchase it. my subject. though I only once spoke to him in passing. by various machinations. I tramped across the landscape and watched the steep mountain roads being mined in preparation for a possible Italian attack. all the night before. Carefully I watched the trend of events in Yugoslavia and the reactions of the people that made up that uneasy state. his own master. hearing of my wish. I liked these people and they seemed to like me. I decided to buy it and made happy plans about my Montenegrin monastery with its rose-red terrace on the Adriatic. The Town Council of Budva. whose walls were completely covered with original Byzantine frescoes at least seven hundred years old. Soon I began to feel as if Serbia were my real home. Again-"Why should a woman who might be in the gay whirl of the world wish to remain in a little Montenegrin coast town?" The commandant of Budva actually wrote to the central government (my lawyer later saw the letter) as follows: "This lady is dangerous: she writes on her typewriter all day long.

that inlet of the Adriatic considered by many travelers (and by me) to be the most magnificent fiord in all Europe. The police treated me with the most thoughtful consideration. laughing: "What fools they are up in Belgrade-somebody's made a silly mistake!" I climbed the grim Montenegrin peaks. lies in the huge crater of an extinct volcano surrounded by its wreath of mountains. Cetinje was so beautiful that I could not long regret the change. but they did it in form only. They were stupefied with surprise and disbelief. I felt so well. the capital of Montenegro. . I had the curious and perhaps unique experience of seeing a proclamation of mine posted up on the great city gates. The defection of France was received by the Serbs like a violent blow on the chin. One of the counselors ran around quickly to show it to me before posting it. . They had to obey their orders. Many Serbs had finished their education there. The permission to buy arrived shortly. and many more of them spoke French than English. less understood. England. of affection and gratitude toward France for the help that country had given them in the last war. England seemed farther away. and that I must not move about without a detective always in attendance.. in which I thanked the people for their kindness to meespecially the market women who had brought me as gifts flowers they could easily have sold me. But the news got round and the whole back of my car was filled with flowers. and honey. solitary. The little old town of Cetinje. As each man had to affix his signature over a twenty-dinar tax stamp. this was no light compliment. but not the permission to remain there! Instead there came an order that I must be removed inland to Cetinje. northward to the Boka Kotorska (Bocca di Cattaro). The attitude of the Serbs was typical of their character. wine. now covered with such a wealth of wildflowers that it took one's breath away. . Dunkirk and the fall of France. hoping to depart unobserved. The scenery was so wonderful. I promised to return when the day of liberty had dawned again upon a sorrowful world.. more than a thousand years old. none of us dry-eyed. They begged the Government at Belgrade to make an exception in my favor and to grant me every facility. When I was to leave I ordered my car brought to a side gate. To the south one descends to the lovely Lake of Scutari. And the children with their parents stood round dismally. the air so wine like. drew up a document so flattering to me that I would hesitate to repeat the wording. the hope of the world. It simply passed their ability to grasp that the last. Serbs as a race had a very strong feeling of admiration. I was almost beside myself with anxiety for England . It simply could not be true: respectable people couldn't do a thing so disloyal. to the west to Budva of the Beaches. the very last.. indignantly differing from the suspicious military authorities. that I came to the conclusion that of all the places in the world this would be the most satisfactory one in which to spend my life. Frenchman would not prefer to die before thus deserting an ally.held a meeting. These serious men. colder. hardly more than a village although it is the capital of Montenegro. and I laid it on the floor and photographed it. And that I propose to do.

little England-always now it was "little England. terrified. Suddenly all the doors down the main street opened. The lizard was large. proud little countries already gobbled up be lost forever? How would it all turn out? "If I could only have some sign from heaven. I insisted on . no doubt planning. One evening I saw a German "commercial traveler" sitting in front of the hotel. the lizard had bitten the snake in the stomach. and that there positively would be no appeal. I was on a little mountain path. The Serbs too had stood alone how often in their history! The days passed. of the hotel-keeper standing near. was unforgettable. "What's seven-forty?" "Time for the English radio. At that moment I looked down at the path. The sympathy which swept like a tidal wave across Serbia. not far south of here in Ancient Greece. as they all did. England. "What is it?" he asked. but for me to see it at that moment was certainly strange. without warning. of course. the right of every citizen of a foreign country. too large for the snake's capacity." like an endearment-England stood all alone. That's all." "What do you mean?" asked the German blankly. the admiration which rose to a sort of fever heat. Suddenly. about eighteen inches long and very slim.Slowly the truth came home. and this is what I saw (owing to my being under suspicion. which stuck out. and it had only been able to swallow its prey up to the hind legs and tail. When the British national anthem was played. a passion which England should know about and would do well never to forget. had swallowed a lizard. a large hole. In those days something was born. however. of course. "Is it a revolution?" The innkeeper calmly looked at his watch. the feeling of comradeship of one brave race for a splendid brother. weeping. I would have photographed it): A snake. and mine is the only instrument in working order. France was no more spoken of. I now never carried a camera. so absorbed I was in miserable speculation about the war. still stand on my right. people rose." The Nazi vanished. soothsayers foretold the future by the flight of birds. "It's seven-forty. of course. Such a sight has probably very seldom been seen even by a naturalist. They both lay there dead." I groaned desperately. hardly noticing where I was going. but I put it down because it happens to be true. In dying. I must mention a funny incident. how Germany would suck this Yugoslavia dry when she had seized it. to see my country's representative. This was right in their own tradition. The people rushed out and began running madly toward the hotel. Could all the eager. The German jumped up. Now this incident sounds most improbable. came an order from Belgrade that I was to be put over the Greek frontier within twelve hours. furious: no one stirred a foot to listen to the Nazi radio! A very curious thing happened to me at this time. "some sign of hope!" I remembered how. the weeks. France to the Serbs was dead. otherwise. All the old affection for France was transferred to England and increased a thousandfold. England showed not the slightest sign of dismay. I could.

I can see him now. a good friend. . And then it was. worked itself into a fury. of course. I gave that good fellow an inscribed cigarette case and never was more pleased to acknowledge a real service. "One step nearer. how the back of his neck grew slowly dark red with anger. pressing closer and closer. The police were horrified by the order and only too anxious to assist me. we arrived at the Podgoritsa airfield.. The wires hummed. let one man raise his hand and he will be shot on the spot. I decided to fly. near the Albanian frontier. but only to bring a stern confirmation of the right to proceed to the capital. unnecessary to trouble the minister with my little problems. among his other distinguished activities. At the Belgrade airfield I was met by M. This lady is a friend.P. picked up stones and. He put his hand on his hip (no doubt he was armed) and: "This lady is no spy. showed signs of becoming violent. who. of Yugoslavia. had helped to organize the police force of Yugoslavia and had abolished the frightful old Turkish foot-beating.P. I also telegraphed at once to my friend M. After a three-hour car journey." he barked. The police throughout the country remained his devoted admirers. A mob collected. The news spread like wildfire that "a famous spy and a terrible enemy of the country" had been caught and was being transported under arrest. The chief of detectives of Montenegro was assigned to accompany me to Belgrade with the single purpose of explaining to the authorities there that they not only had nothing against me but only wanted me to come back. My detective stood in front of me. Disperse!" Slowly they pushed back and melted away.

the soundless sandals. with them went heavy silver belts set with many-colored stones. silver fringed. made up of specimens some two hundred years old. on their feet the rawhide. in some cases. Ruth Mitchell 12. After a few months in the Srbski Kralj Hotel I found a very attractive home in the Slavija Hill district. and pearl. They were dressed in the handsome black-embroidered brown costume of the Shumadiya peasant. They wore the same device in metal on their breasts. in thirteen attitudes he sat his prancing steed and swung his spear to slay the writhing dragon: St. I believe. old swords and knives. and so they were that day unarmed. It was a curious sensation to have people passing within three feet quite unconscious of my close observation. My collection. Their golden handles spelled a prayer for victory to Allah. like most old Serbian houses. Sitting at my window one morning in November I940. On the walls. their prototype. and dim with the incense of a thousand candles long burnt out before him. the shubara. in a curious butterfly shape. so stiff with fine gold embroidery they could stand alone. MY CHETNIK BROTHERS It WAS NOW obviously advisable to remain in Belgrade. I saw a column of marching men passing down my street to the near-by Orthodox church. a rusty spearhead. my best source. upturned opanche. gold. All these things were dear to me both for their intrinsic beauty and because they expressed a living tradition.The Serbs Chose War. I spread out soft gold brocades on which I laid or hung the things I treasured most: old silver trays showing ancient heroes slicing off the heads of foes. most valued of all my treasures were my thirteen fine old icons of St. as they returned home across the Balkans from the Holy Land. the Fighting Saint of Serbia. left from the days when Serbian pride and power showed itself in dress. but no one could look in. was unique. On their heads the black astrakhan cap. . were hung rare purple and blue velvet cloaks. I added to them busily by haunting not only the little shops but also. the patron saint both of Serbia and of England from the time when the Crusaders brought him back. George. of which I knew seven. rows of decorations. one-storied. and their steel as sharp today as on the last time they were plunged into a heart by chieftains in the far Black Mountains of Illyria. It was an L-shaped corner house and. They were bearing their somberly fierce banners to church to be blessed by the priest. set with silver. scissors. READY. Lovingly enameled. their silver hilts and sheaths studded with coral and cornelian. the open markets. Before them they carried black banners. together with. Through the double windows and net curtains I could see out perfectly. Now I had a perfect setting for all my lovely antiques. bearing in white and silver the device of a grinning skull above crossed bones. George. Best. dating probably from 1389 dug up on the battlefield of Kossovo. and right on the pavement. For contrast with the swords I had the traditional woman's weapon.

They have no big "rah-rah" meetings. The elder men with the largest number of medals seemed a shade tougher and grimmer than the others. slightly sinister loose movement of the knees. Alertness. In emergency each man thinks for himself what is best to do and does it. It is interesting to compare the Chetniks with the Nazis and their everlasting squawking. Little they cared about straight ranks or even about keeping step. to water down the race. Vukosava of the Sanjak mountains. devil-may-care yet unostentatious. the calm yet burning look in their narrow eyes. The only honor seemed to be the bearing of the heavy flags. They are the Invisible Army. the slightly stealthy. and next morning be far across the mountains and away. . (It is an actual fact that when German soldiers are marching and the order is given to sing. Just so my heart sang its answer to those marching men. They were all officers. in the reckless. monotonous. if a man does not shout loud enough he is severely punished!) Chetniks seldom march-almost never when on the job. their robot parades. They are the Silent Front. I remembered that old eagle. Soundless. which marked them the toughest set of men I had ever laid eyes on. supremely selfreliant swing of the shoulders. The simple peasants who constitute nine tenths of the force do not need elaborate training. And low. A man becomes a Chetnik for the single purpose of killing enemies of Serbian freedom with gun and knife. I made up my mind." The song of the Chetniks on the job-the soul of Serbia on the march! When violins are playing. unconsciously seeking for? I had no doubt that it was so. Nothing else mattered. or he isn't a Chetnik-at least not for long! Every peasant born in the heart of Serbia is born a candidate for membership in the brotherhood. They had no musical instrument of any sort. It is bred in their very bones by centuries of inheritance. another one Iying aside will sometimes answer. No officers marched before or beside them: discipline was obviously a matter for each man himself. They were the Chetniks. now ready. They were in the forward ranks. cunning and speed are theirs by the long process of natural selection-by the fact that men lacking those qualities did not live long enough to propagate. quickness of decision. They drift. . hardly more than a mutter-not for these stern men to open their mouths and yell!like rumble of distant thunder came the song that is to me the greatest marching song on earth: "Ready. and no social life in the sense of parties. they were all privates-they were brothers. marching. Today I have no hesitation in saying that every peasant still alive in certain areas of Serbia is a Chetnik.To call these big men tough-looking is to make an extreme understatement. like the tigers in India. Was this at last what I had been waiting for. not even a drum. they will make their attack perhaps at fall of night. vibrate on a note. And on our glorious victory Will rise the sun of Liberty . It has to be right. as a fox drifts through the brush. There was something in the carriage of their heads. the blatantly staged mass ceremonies with which they have to keep up their morale. Chetnik brothers! Mighty the coming battle. and his blow upon my back. .

They have no reserves: every man is all-out. They have no transport: every man is his own means of locomotion, and the distances they can cover on foot are stupendous. For artillery, they have only the guns and ammunition each man can carry on himself. They have no field kitchens: every man carries ten days' rations of hard bread, cheese, and onions done up in a handkerchief. If he comes across something else-corn, a sheep-he is lucky and is, by the law of the land, entitled to take whatever he needs. Every Chetnik must be a whole army in himself. There are many Serbian women in the organization, and they are true Chetniks. They fulfill innumerable vital functions. They forage for food, they look after the weapons, they creep through the army lines and gather information. They are doing it now as I write. And they fight-make no mistake, they fight-and they kill. Some have received high decorations. They turn a sentry's head at the right moment, they poison enemy food, they lay time bombs. And when they must, they use a sharp knife or a gun. Draja Mihailovich, who is today holding open the back door of Europe for the Allies, has been able to do it not least because of the courage and the resourcefulness, the cunning and the strength of Serbian Chetnik women. It happens that I can walk twenty miles a day, day after day, and thirty at a pinch. I proved it. I can ride most things on four legs for longer than the animal can stand it. I proved it. Also I happen to like hard bread and cheese and onions. I was invited to join the Serbian Cavalry. I was also asked to act as observer in the Flying Corps (I had flown my own plane). I preferred to be a Chetnik. A noted member of the force presented me to that old Chetnik leader Voivoda Kosta Pechanats (translated, the Duke Kosta of Pech, spoken of by the foreign correspondents by his family name of Pavlovich). Great and valorous he had been in his past as a fighter in all the recent Balkan wars. Thus I shall always remember the old man, however sad his later fate. Typical of the whole organization were his headquarters. You entered a narrow door into a little courtyard and walked up rickety wooden stairs into a two-room office. What had been sufficient for a hundred years was sufficient now. There, behind a large desk, sat the great old fighter, his left breast covered with row upon row of ribbons, recognitions from his own and many foreign governments of services in war. Voivoda Kosta Pechanats was just a little too old for active fighting, just a little too large from recent years of ease. He was dramatically handsome with the years of adulation he had received. Three walls of the low room were completely covered with pictures and photographs of Serbian fighters old and recent, of Chetnik groups in mountain and field, of crowned heads who were the Voivoda's friends, of lesser men of desperate deeds, among them Princip, who murdered the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and started World War I. These mementos were interspersed with an arsenal of pistols, guns, swords, daggers, and knives. In one corner hung an icon of Saint Sava, an everlasting lamp glimmering before it; in the opposite corner, on a little shelf, the most conspicuous thing in the room: a skull, a real skull, lying on crossed shinbones. These were the actual bones of a seventeen-year-old Chetnik who died in action against the Bulgarian I.M.R.O. Often this boy's mother came to see the old man, never guessing that the bones she saw were those of her own son. My name was written in a big and well-worn book and I was taken in hand, M.P. serving as my surety and sponsor. (I must remind my readers that the Balkans are still under the German heel. Hence, though I

should like to give full names and it seems ungrateful not to do so, it would endanger the lives of my friends and their relatives. Even the initials are incorrect.) Being already a fair shot with a revolver, I was now taught how to use a dagger: not from above the shoulder, as one would expect, but upward under the ribs to reach the heart. Like the western two-gun men, one had to be as quick as lightning, with the balance just right. I practiced, of course, on a hanging bag of sawdust. This was just for unexpected emergencies, as it was soon decided that for my intended function I should have to depend on brain, not brawn. I must also say a word about the poison, concerning which American papers have made elaborate misstatements. It has been widely printed that I gave an oath never to be taken alive, since "all Chetniks commit suicide if captured." That is, of course, simply absurd. No Chetnik is ever taken prisoner if he is known to be a Chetnik. Chetniks neither give nor receive quarter: they are shot on sight. If, however, one is taken alive and is known to be a Chetnik, it can only be for the purpose of forcing information from him, which is always done-not least by the Germans-by torture. If therefore he is captured, certain of his fate, he takes poison to avoid any danger of giving away his comrades as he is mangled to death. To commit suicide when his captors do not know him to be a Chetnik would, of course, be idiotic, would in fact be contrary to his oath, since he might still escape or somehow be useful to his force. I knew one Chetnik personally in Belgrade prison, and there may have been and quite probably were others like him, not known by their captors to be members of the organization. As an American woman I did not seriously fear torture by the Germans and Italians-little did I then know the Nazis! Nevertheless I sewed the poison in the collar of my coat in the usual position, where it can be chewed when the hands are bound. When engaged in intelligence work behind the enemy lines, a Chetnik, needless to say (I am sometimes asked such weird questions), gets rid of his uniform. It has been said by enemies of the Serbs in America that Kosta Pechanats was pro-Axis, that he was then in German pay. This, I know-no one could know better-is absolutely false. His later action, and that of others associated with him, was the result of a tragic paradox: they loved their people more than they loved their country. But Serbia is Serbia because of Serb tradition, and the true bearers of Serb tradition, the Chetniks, loved Serbia more than their own lives. Pechanats erred in that he hoped to save the lives of his people -the lives which they themselves held worthless if preserved only at the price of surrendering their national honor. At last, on the third of March, a cold gloomy day with the first damp but exciting breath of spring blowing gustily through the snowy streets, I stood in that strange little room presided over by a hero's skull. Only four people were present. The Voivoda took down a dagger and drew it from its worn sheath. A pale sun shone on its bright blade as he laid it on the desk. He took down a revolver, not bright but dark and well oiled. He broke it to make sure it was fully loaded. He laid it crosswise on the dagger. I faced the icon and, putting my right hand on the crossed weapons and looking the old Chetnik leader firmly in the eye, repeated after him: "Do smrti za Srbiju, tako mi Bog pomogao [Till death for Serbia, by the help of God]." That was all. There was a murmur of "Amens." We all shook hands warmly, without smiling. Then he took the big old book and drew a line through my name. "Your life," he said, "is now no longer your own: it is given to Serbia." This is the only organization in the world, I think, in which, when you become a member, your name is not put down but crossed out. You must consider yourself as good as dead.

How proud I was that day to be admitted to the company of that brotherhood and sisterhood! There have been women Chetniks of Serbian birth but foreign citizenship (married to foreigners) and women of foreign birth but Serb citizenship (married to Serbs), but I am, I was told, the only woman of both foreign birth and foreign nationality ever to be admitted. That evening we had a little celebration. In a small, obscure restaurant where Chetniks foregathered, we had a frugal, quiet meal. There were several of our men, mostly alone, scattered in the room. Once you are a member, you somehow can't mistake them. Though they must have guessed why I was there, not a flicker of greeting passed over their faces. It was correct to have it so. My face was, I hope, as wooden as theirs. I was a Chetnik until death.

. fastened to white-painted staves. Ruth Mitchell 13.The Serbs Chose War. . charmed. it was the foreigners. denatured Serb. After one or two diplomatic parties. It also possessed that boon in Balkan summers. to the strains of the well-loved nostalgic Balkan songs." he said suddenly one day. often they must have listened. When I first arrived there were acrid arguments in government offices as to whether I was or was not a British secret service agent. As one local would-be-cynic poet said to me: "They seem like moles blindly shoveling away at their pointless little courses. in mellow close harmony. slowly. who seemed to me the unreal curiosities. They looked upon them as "museum pieces" and apparently made no effort to understand them. If anything they are more stubbornly tenacious of the common tradition than any other Serbian people. and though my neighbors could not see us." My house became instead a center of Montenegrin interests. little England!"-and all was peace and benediction. Long and deep were our discussions there in the warm evenings over a bottle of fine Smederevo or Zemun wine and the ubiquitous slivovits (plum brandy) under my pleasant tree in my rose-filled garden. [So far. amazed: no one had thought of that! "Well-and why not?" went whispering across the angry waves of suspicion. "Tamo daleko . "well-and why not?" All looked at each other. The whirlpool of horror in Europe was spinning ever faster. a wide-spreading tree. Here I sat and studied when not riding or tramping to keep fit-no easy thing in a large city. overlooked from not a single neighbor's window. My leading champion. I withdrew almost entirely from that social treadmill. so far. "Well. the foreign-educated. I must confess that after a year alone in Montenegro. my love . I also saw something of that sad phenomenon. the triumphs. How could a little country of only sixteen million inhabitants.]" But soon a more martial note began to creep into my little gatherings. "WELL AND WHY NOT?" MY HOUSE had a delightful little garden in which standard roses marched in battalions. And slowly. . undeveloped. quite unaware of the contending forces of nature. Softly they subsided-"England. the beauty. tired of it all. Yugoslavia was being sucked toward the evil maelstrom. "Well-and why not?" became my household joke. Few were the Montenegrins of high or of simple degree who came to Belgrade and did not make their welcome appearance at my house. hope to resist this all-engulfing force? . . the tragedies and-the general mess above them. had a brilliant inspiration. the anachronisms. because Montenegro has never in its history been completely conquered. carried by the gentle breeze across my garden. "superior" to the country. It was apparently the thing fiercely to take sides. in the heart of that vivid struggle for existence. It must be clearly remembered that those Black Mountain people are pure Serbs. At last the arguments became so violent that they led to actual fisticuffs. poor in resources and equipment. I became bored with the attitude of most of the English and Americans toward the Serbs. Hence the tradition has never been broken. I had a collection of stringed instruments ready for accustomed fingers. but with fateful inevitability.

"We will fight. who by ceaseless fighting. but with the taint of servility left out). were openly admiring. from whom they had acquired a coloring of "Western civilization. it appeared to present no problem at all. Croatia was the most industrialized portion of Yugoslavia with an effective hold on the commerce of the country. if this might not be just a stock answer handed down by history. of course. that seemed to be answer enough for them. For centuries the Croats had been the agitating-rather than actively rebellious-subjects of Austria and Hungary.To the home-bred Serb." they said. especially the little fellows." In his heart every Croat considered himself vastly superior to the Serbs. with a simple lightness that might have been deceptive to the casual eye. worried. distrait. its real force lost in more than twenty years of prosperous peace and spreading education. The Croats were impressed by German success. alone in the Balkans. suspecting. Nothing impressed the Serbs. which threatened their dearest possession-their liberty. nothing at all. lured by German promises of material prosperity. . They would fight-and that seemed to settle it. But for me it didn't seem quite so self-evidently sufficient. the second partners in the Yugoslav combination. The bigger fellows "in the know" began to look serious. This German war machine was something never before seen on earth! The Croats. Looking at my merry and so polite singers (Montenegrins especially are instinctive courtiers. had made themselves free. unaided. I could not help wondering.

but "gave"-still. My conclusions were that the Bulgarians as a people felt themselves drawn more and more sympathetically toward the Serbs. special ceremonies and mass gatherings. I went to Bulgaria to make special inquiries. "What are they so furious about? " "The same old thing." would come the calm answer. by bus. a cause for passionate pride. Red faces. because they refused to fight the Serbs. Again and again in Serbian village restaurants I witnessed a significant scene. We could not then envisage quite the extent of Croat treachery and the Croat massacres of defenseless Serb peasants in Croatia. They must be faced and remembered. beautified with laborious handwork. are exceedingly expensive. When Germany entered Serbia I could not help thinking with some relief that at least the Serbs would have something new to argue about. had to withdraw the Bulgarian troops from the Serbian to the Greek and Turkish frontiers. "What is it?" I would ask in alarm. The memory which those crimes will leave is more damaging to the hope of world peace than the bitter Serb hatred of the Germans. have weakened the hope of a political union. The Powers will be making a serious mistake if later they ignore this fact. glaring eyes banging of tables. Later that belief was confirmed when learned that the Germans. seemed to presage the flashing of knives. National costume is a sign of self-respect in a race with pride in the achievements of its forefathers. by air. mass-produced "Western" clothes. Ruth Mitchell 14. It signifies a proper appreciation of racial history. THE SAINTS FIGHT TOO I BEGAN TO TRAVEL WIDELY about the country. . "They're only arguing which family gave the most men in the last war." Not "lost. by deliberately fomenting Bulgarian atrocities in Macedonia when they handed it over to Bulgaria. A serious effort must be made to keep them in constant use: they have a very significant effect on public morale. cheap. twenty years after. But the Germans. by train. Groups of men engaged in friendly chat would suddenly raise their voices in impassioned argument." you notice. when they attacked Yugoslavia. I do not feel so relieved now. Serbian memory is exceedingly tenacious. Unfortunately most national costumes. Boris. It is mainly for that reason that they are slowly disappearing in the Balkans before the shoddy. partly because of their fast-growing contempt for their own king. I photographed. It is useless-worse than useless ignore these facts. where I saw local customs and costumes beautifully shown. an admirable self-confidence. sometimes at the request of the Government. I felt justified in seeing a not too distant possibility of union.The Serbs Chose War.

now really angry. No enemy will ever set foot in it. who then shall hope to down Serbia? . after Montenegro. They steal everything. its houses garlanded with drying tobacco leaves. advised." "Of course not. They never succeeded. Few indeed are the foreigners who come to see its ancient fortress. if even her long-dead saints stand ready to do battle." "Dead?" cried the man. its mosques. in World War I the Serbs. how much treasure saved to the Allies if Nedich's counsel had prevailed! Instead Prince Paul's government removed General Nedich from office disgraced him. Surprised at his conviction. among the most valuable in the Balkans." Good God. were the first decisively to defeat the German armies and to free their country from the invader." "Not this. and "sent him to the country. because of the fine quality of the tobacco. Once a Mohammedan town of considerable importance. that Yugoslavia should instantly declare war on Italy." said the man. as it is really dangerous) and gazed out across the rolling plains of Macedonia. (A recent book purporting to give a picture of the Belgrade situation at the outbreak of war makes General Nedich. urged. The Saint would not let them. persona grata to Germany. my favorite place in the whole country. I hazarded: "They do.) Ochrid on its exquisite lake was. (Will history repeat itself?) After the Italians dropped the first bombs on Bitolj (Monastery) I went along almost the whole YugoslavAlbanian frontier and saw the Serb troops ready. play a prominent and disgraceful part in the coup d’état of March 27 1941 There was no truth whatever in this allegation. How different would have been the history of this war-how many lives. Our Saint will fight. which during the past centuries since before the time of Alexander the Great has been the battleground of so many nations. The possibilities of this almost depopulated land are insufficiently appreciated. pressed. they won't. as Minister of War. long time. And with the Greeks hounding their rear. was put in his place. its strange. "Dead! He is as alive today as ever he was. then as now our firm allies. its tall. quaint wooden houses now lean awry in slow decay. He won't let them now!" "But he has been dead for such a long. General Nedich. intelligent custodian showed us its lovely Byzantine frescoes and its other humble treasures. If his advice had been followed he would unquestionably have had the whole country behind him." An incompetent nonentity. There. then Yugoslav Minister of War. Every night he walks round his church to see that it is safe.In Macedonia I visited Prilep. I thought. I climbed to the top of King's Son Marko's old fortress (no traveler I have ever met has done it. Among Ochrid's many churches is one dedicated to Saint Clement. "I hope the Germans will not get all this. The Turks tried that for hundreds of years. eager to attack the Italians. its land. you know. At the end I said thoughtfully. An elderly. the pathetic Italians would have been quickly disposed of. its almond groves. secret water grotto painted with old frescoes. Nedich was out of office and not even in Belgrade at the time.

as was later confirmed. how absurd in these days of mechanized warfare. "Ha-ha." equipment being far more of a problem than man power. One day there appeared a young man of whom my old Cossack houseman. I grew sincerely fond of this unfortunate fellow and he. Their business was soon confirmed when. and I would be released again with many apologies. They will supply me with a good chapter for my book. One telephone message to Belgrade. those Chetniks. So often that I actually lost count. He immediately became my most devoted attendant. or get the local police excited about their chance of catching a "notorious spy. He gave his name as Helmuth Wuppert. This amusing. not the faintest intention of doing so. would lay some silly charge. and though he was fair and blue-eyed. and also later. of me. Igon. a "medical student" notably vague in medical interest. I was notified almost immediately (it was unnecessary) that they were German agents set to watch me. I know. I believed him to be a Jew. by a slip of the tongue." Now every American in southeastern Europe is presumed to be writing a book. THE PLOT THAT FAILED ON MY TRAVELS I was constantly being arrested. Upon consulting the British Legation I was told that no recruits were wanted unless every man came "with a machine gun in each pocket. "Aren't they the funniest thing in the world? I wonder how they can think anyone could take them seriously! How useless. had been seized by the Gestapo and had died in prison. as turned out later) that he was a Jewish refugee from Austria. He was very nice-looking. shall we say." I laughed heartily. begging my assistance to get them down into Greece in order to join the British Army. if my papers were insufficient for suspicious souls. The struggle in his heart was strangely pitiful to watch. Michael. was at once fiercely suspicious. In Belgrade itself German attention to me was much more. (I had at that time. Soon he begged permission to bring in his best friend. escaped just after the annexation. could talk more and say less than anyone I ever met. also ostensibly fiercely anti-Nazi. are their daggers and skull-and-crossbones! But their history is interesting.The Serbs Chose War.) . Helmuth revealed his knowledge of my interest in the Chetniks. apparently under orders and with the single purpose of annoying me and discouraging me from traveling. to be exact-came to me. attractive youth. He too became indefatigable in my service." And I would be brought in. tiresome. of German descent but Yugoslav birth. He proved to me by his papers (forged. and the German consul (they had "consuls" everywhere!). It would happen like this: news would precede me that I was coming to a town. he said. Many Serbs-sixty-seven. Ruth Mitchell 15. He professed bitter and undying hatred of the Germans because his father.

seize the papers. The timetable and all details were worked out. . Then I let a few friends in on the farce. whose role was to be that of an innocent lady accidentally passing by. might have cost me my life. supported by Igon. Should I play safe by dropping them or take the more difficult and dangerous course of keeping them in attendance. They stuck to it like heroes."To lead them on to talk. It was so finished that I was inclined to believe and still think it was actually intended to be carried out. About March IO. "very important for my book. Ostensibly they were to have come from Slovenia with urgent news of a massacre there of local Germans. they arrived. my two watchdogs were readily induced to underestimate the importance and ability of others. but I am sure they often wished bitterly they had been given some easier job." I kept them stiff and sore for days trying impossible horses for me (how I enjoyed that!) and made them search in the dirtiest parts of the Gypsy quarter for imaginary antiques. They had information. I would send them to the photographers with rolls of "very important" films to develop-and call next day myself for the finished negatives and prints. some confusion. poor things. The plan was interesting. where it caused. and that he "never left them off his person night or day. I used to think up the most tantalizing errands for them. were playing a similar game with me and once. We were by a brilliant move to confront the world with irrefutable proof of Germany's intended perfidy. It was not easy to decide how to handle these men. at the cost of unrelaxing vigilance? I decided that while they were with me they would certainly be out of other mischief-their next victim might not be as quickly warned as I was. They. Moreover. I hope. of course. They had precise details of the consul's house. By constant repetition of this line of chatter I was able to build up a reputation for frivolity which afterwards saved my life. they were the agents provocateurs in an attempt that. that the German consul general Neuhausen had received documents containing precise orders for all Nazi fifth-column agents. And they gave me endless fun. They are such simple peasants. run out and hand them to me. whom they assured me they had already sworn in. knew exactly in which pocket he kept the papers.." I continued confidentially. I showed them snaps of Montenegrin folk dances. These orders were to take effect on the date-also given in the documents-on which Germany had already decided treacherously to attack Yugoslavia. someone perhaps much more skillful and intelligent and whom I might not recognize so easily. For instance. with them on the job the German espionage service would not find it necessary to assign someone else. no doubt. they would shoot him dead. even to the names of the guards likely to be on duty and how they were to be dealt with by confederates. source carefully given.. Then.. if it had succeeded." Being Germans." The plan was that Helmuth was to arrive at the consul's house in an exhausted condition. When the latter came down to answer the cry for help of his own countrymen. "I must pretend admiration for them." All this. when they were panting with anxiety to find out what "valuable" photographs I had taken. to invite me to co-operate with them in a plot. was relayed to Berlin. when negotiations between Germany and Yugoslavia were not going quickly enough to suit Hitler. I decided to keep them. Helmuth was to insist upon seeing the consul general instantly. and with careful preparation and "precautions" we slowly filled them up with all sorts of misleading "confidential information. apparently in great excitement. at least.

that the documents (which would have been blank) were to pass into my own hands. How strange and disgusting for me to be the means of saving the life of this sinister fellow who not only would gladly have seen me dead but had been long and cunningly planning the ruin of Serbia! Yet it had to be done. And there is little doubt that I would have been shot on the spot "by accident. Apparently Helmuth and Igon had felt obliged to turn in something to justify their pay. My two youths soon knew of the increased alertness and the doubled guards and the plan was called off Yet at my court-martial later I was accused. to discover the hotheads who had been misled by these agents provocateurs. but quietly. among other absurdities. ." Steps were therefore taken at once. We came to the conclusion that the plan could not have originated with these two agents but almost certainly was an order from the German secret police. of having plotted to murder the German consul general.P. repulsive consul himself. The lure to me was. By laying the crime to Yugoslavia. of course.I asked for time to think it over and immediately consulted with M. thus leaving Germany free for her attack on Russia. Germany would have another strong lever for threatening the Yugoslavs and hurrying them into signing the treaty. It even seemed more than likely that the plan had been made by Neuhausen himself and that the intention was to murder someone in place of him. Additional safety measures were taken also to protect the fat.

I could watch the busy life of my street without myself being seen through the double windows and the fishnet curtains. I hated the icy winds that suddenly howled down upon this rock at the confluence of the majestic Danube and the lovely Sava. But to me the sight of ladies in fine fur coats and big handsome businessmen in formal clothes. and theft. they say. He took whatever he pleased. young. in every conceivable style and position. a whistle. One of my favorite visitors was a doughty old Chetnik of about eighty. So I stupidly caught pneumonia just for Christmas. My house was near one of the largest markets. old maids-was carrying. VAIN WARNINGS I CANNOT SAY I liked living in Belgrade: big cities were never my milieu. Just as we by fixed custom eat turkey for Christmas dinner. Men live to a great age in the Balkans-if they're quick or lucky -and this delightful old man. balking. To them it was the most natural thing in the world. To murder him outright would have called down the Turkish soldiers in a general massacre of the village. made no concessions whatever to the passing years. That done. Then he violated the pasha's darling-without." Zaria and his men surrounded the house and overpowered the guards. Zaria M. beautiful. Being ill had its compensations in the kindness of friends and in the fact that. Perhaps the mildest one was this: A pasha in a south Serb village had made himself fiercely hated by the peasants for his merciless tax grinding. For ten days before Christmas. kept me in a riot of laughter. Ruth Mitchell 16. in the early mornings tiny pigs in uncounted numbers and all sorts of color combinations were herded squealing. rushing. mostly a few days beforehand so as to give them a last fattening. lying in bed at ground level. therefore.. any pretty girl who caught his fancy. the guards were released. . I need too much strenuous exercise. worst of all. and Zaria and his men faded away into the night. a tiny live pig. women. including. so the Serbs eat suckling pigs. They buy them alive. whom he loved as the proverbial apple of his eye. It was like a non-stop variety show. Endless were the tales told about him and his unceasing warfare with the Turks. bouncing. facing the illimitable plains like a great ship at sea. struggling desperately with wriggling. screeching pink or spotted baby porkers or tearing madly after them when they escaped. He stood as straight as ever and weighed not a pound more than in his active youth. young maids. messenger boys. What to do to teach the tyrant a sharp lesson? Zaria thought of a plan.The Serbs Chose War. And all day long almost everyone passing by-men. carefully hidden. One evening the Turk was called away on "urgent business. The pasha had a wife. Soon I was well again and the pleasant meetings round my fireside could be resumed. beatings. down the street. removing the knife from his mouth.

The state of Yugoslavia. if at all. He was a Croat first and a Yugoslav second. Honest Serbs of noted family. It shared the strength and had the protection of a common state. Men of good will with ideals of public service desperately comforted themselves with the hope that when the boy Peter became king in the following September. he went forward to a lovely but perfectly strange lady and asked courteously if he might be allowed to kiss her. There were exceedingly few real Communists in Serbia. He forgot that nothing can stand still. it must go forward or it goes back. and the salute was. that officials preferred to grab while the grabbing was good rather than build up a solid reputation for honesty. for lack of any other hope. when the country would be either saved or ruined by a rising of the exasperated people. drifted toward communism. with not even his mother to lean on-could he be expected to see through and control those practiced intriguers? Prince Paul disliked the business of ruling. Since in this strangling bureaucracy there was no appeal against the whims and fancies of a government bureau. when his regency ended. of Serb prestige and Serbian solid international reputation. Machek was the strong man of Yugoslavia. It was the most prosperous part of the country and drew its greater wealth largely from Serbian trade. Corruption became an unbelievable. Croatia." Croatia must as usual have the best of every world. Could a boy of eighteen who had been kept lonely for years-so lonely. was a perfect breeding ground for cynical opportunism. Nothing more gentle and courtly than my old Chetnik Zaria could be imagined-except when old tales lit fires in his eyes. everything would change at once for the better. for pretty girls. heard above the engine's roar. peasant and businessman alike had to use the only instrument that proved effective in getting action: bribery. The political atmosphere was getting steadily more gloomy. The feeling of insecurity within the country was so great. the regent during the minority of the young king. and since nobody could start a private enterprise without a government license. but there were many despairing critics who. He actually opposed the use of the word "Yugoslavia. He proudly felt he held a record. Anyone who criticized or rebelled against this state of affairs was simply labeled "communist" and persecuted. as unchanged as possible. being a marriage of geographical and political convenience rather than a really fundamental union of ideals. they say. One day when an airliner he was in reached four thousand feet. Yugoslavia was drifting back. I saw him several times and was convinced that he had character and the most sincere intentions. withdrew into disgusted retirement. and public life took on a more and more shady character. The "ins" in government ran things with a high hand. Prince Paul. Yet: ." She agreed graciously. There can be no doubt that it was he and no other who blew the state of Yugoslavia to the winds-never again to be put together. he knew himself unfitted for it. after a humiliating struggle.There could not be a worse punishment for a Turkish pasha: this one is reported to have become a model of probity. because "it was the first time he had ever flown. Nevertheless I found little cause for hope." even going so far as to change the name of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences to the "Croat Academy of Sciences. with its Western commercial training. incurable scandal. even with enthusiasm. After Machek secured autonomy for Croatia and became vice premier of the new government. The country was ruled by decree. Those who suspected him of designs upon the throne were certainly wrong. bogging down so fast in rapacious self-seeking by the "ascendancy" class that to me it seemed certain that soon a crisis must come. the future so doubtful. had obviously only a single thought: to hand the country over to the new ruler. His latest exploit in that line was cause for endless teasing. They brightened. had a firm hold on the industry of Yugoslavia. too. Parliament was dissolved and was never reconvened.

There is no question at all that Machek himself is guilty equally with the actual perpetrators of the murder of not less than 600. the Croats went berserk. their moment of triumph had arrived. in bookshops. they too meant well enough. They clung to the union ideal of King Alexander for which he himself was murdered by a Croat organization. what it would mean to release the repression engendered by hundreds of years of foreign vassalage. their loyalty could not be relied upon. He wanted a weak central government which would permit him to exercise more power. since the Prince was afraid of him. And because he worked with gentler means. it's being done. I was assured: "It will be done. This weak government fell easily into the clutching. much more steady than the Croats. He had it. could not believe in Croat treachery. was blown away. in little country restaurants. He worked up the ill feeling of the Croats against the Serbs to an absolutely vicious degree. Koroshets died. I began to get a pretty clear picture of the Croat attitude. Just so the Serbs. failing that. Machek worked for Croat autonomy with might and main. He went too far. themselves loyal and forthright. have been much more loyal. by the whirlwind he roused. the Slovene leader. But I did not then suspect that the basest treachery had been long and systematically prepared. their democratic ideal similar to the Serbian. Being weak and spoiled by luxury. Alas. Prince Paul and his government were not bought with money by Germany. I urged and urged again that all Croat soldiers be drafted into separate regiments." "We have begun to do it." or. (I must in fairness mention that three months after Germany overran Yugoslavia the German governor of the Belgrade prison where I was an inmate said to me: "Don't think we have ever looked upon Premier Cvetkovich as a friend of Germany!") Everywhere I talked with the simple people in trains. they were bought with promises of safety of lives and possessions. He did not foresee. as they thought. the Slovenes. and. I suppose. For when. when he pointed the hatred of his compatriots toward the Serbs. he thought to conjure up a breeze. at worst. . He wanted a "Great Croatia.000 Serbs. Shall we blame the Serbs for inability to see what was coming? They were like ourselves-they judged others by themselves. I became more and more convinced that. I begged and pressed in various quarters." "Hurry!" "Well. terrifying German hand. they would go over completely to Germany."Croatian taxes. Machek was too strong. at best." cried the Croats. and thereby the very thing Machek wished for-Croat control of Yugoslavia-was destroyed. We in America and England could not bring ourselves to believe that Germany was planning war. Like many another politician who fell short of being a statesman. Croatian superior education and brains." But it wasn't done. "must be used only for the benefit of Croatia." They did not wish to help to improve the country as a whole. complete Croat control of Yugoslavia. though we were warned with solemn words and even with conclusive figures. He was a wiser man than Machek but less dynamic. world conquest.

P. head of the Serb National Church. had been dismissed and had left town. The strain was terrific. could brave the order. once minister to Brussels. but only in outline. delay at least-until the British can come to our help. General Boro Mirkovich was in command of aviation in the Belgrade district. a grand old man whose sister I knew in the Sanjak. General Nedich. . it mustn't besurely. he is going to sign.P. The Patriarch Gavrilo. Kosta Pechanats warned them that the Chetniks would certainly rise. England!" The Minister of War got wind of his intention. "Yes. a reserve officer in a strong position. WHAT OF AMERICA?" AT NEW YEAR'S the British Legation as usual gave a reception. He received a very cordial and hilarious reception. "He still means to do it." And "Long live our dear and admired friend." ..P. an old friend of his. Eager to give public and emphatic expression to the Serbian admiration for England. in the strangest way. had succeeded him as Minister of War. the general planned to attend the British reception with his whole staff in uniform. . Ruth Mitchell 17. I did so." M. in a surge of anxiety. . the Prime Minister. The place was seething with plots of all sorts. Yet.P. I was deeply alarmed for M. Serbs of all stations begged Cvetkovich: "Delay. even those most in the know couldn't bring themselves to believe it was going to be done. we represent the real heart of our country. "WATCHMAN. do anything. Did Cvetkovich suspect? Already I knew. I was asked to explain to the British minister what had been intended. This indicates the feeling in the country when the German negotiations with Yugoslavia for signing the Axis pact began." Could he be in doubt about the feelings of the country? That seemed impossible. Almost hourly I received telephone messages. Some of us knew that Cvetkovich. fell on one knee before him: "I beg you. the only strong Serb in the Government. Dragisha. Unless you had lived yourself in that feverish atmosphere of threatening. you would find it hard to imagine. An ancient general. was immediately arrested and confined to his house under guard. intended to do it. anything-break your leg-do anything to put it off even a few more days!" Cvetkovich brought his finger down in an imperious gesture: "If anyone so much as dares to move. warned the Regent and the Prime Minister that the Church and the people were solidly against it. that there was a great plan for revolution.. To the Serbs in general the thing was simply inconceivable: it couldn't be. surely it would not be done! But Machek and all the other Croat politicians were using every conceivable pressure and the threat of immediate German intervention to force the signature of the pact. he will be shot on the sport!" M.The Serbs Chose War. In high spirits he even went so far as to demonstrate how they all would bow low and say: "Your Excellency. and he received positive orders forbidding him to go. subterranean violence. Only one member of the general's staff M.

Sir Ronald Campbell. and there are no castles in which to entertain with impressments. at one of my Sunday-evening gatherings. inevitable defeat for democracy grown fat and slack with ease and success. with a Serbian house instead of a characterless palace. for government by terror of the . I tried to spread the conviction that America. and eager to make every sacrifice in defense of them. slow to move because of its huge size.At the instance of the same group of patriots who later carried out the coup d’état. thoughtful men. The totalitarian states are ready to sacrifice everything for their creed of loss of liberty for the common man. German and Russian (then still allies). must become the axiomatic basis of world co-operation and peace. (And. Foreign diplomatic circles therefore naturally made Croatia their playground and were unavoidably influenced by the more luxurious comfort there. without either contempt or envy for that of others-that. "Everything we value. It must be said that the British representatives moved only within the narrowest circle connected with the Court. as I believed. so the present generation of Americans. if only for a few days. notably lacking in a "keeping up with his lordship" complex. would in turn be willing." said Imre Gal. The Serbs are the most democratic people in Europe. in this hour of desperate crisis for their country. but far less influential on public feeling. and so little ravaged by struggles for freedom. was firm as ever in its great democratic principles and ideals. German transport of munitions and oil to and from Rumania and Bulgaria. seemed coldly unconcerned with the fate of small nations. withdrew themselves in pride? Personally if I were King of Serbia. Self-respecting pride in our own inheritance. I approached the British minister with a plan for blowing up and blocking the Iron Gates on the Danube to halt. there are also no Serb servants. who saw in the burning fanaticism of the totalitarian converts. Men of real knowledge and ability came to me in amazement and deep alarm at being unable to do so. there are handsome castles. The minister. there are only friends who come to help you: servants in Belgrade were almost without exception of German or Croat extraction. was very well liked by the few people who ever succeeded in seeing him. (America was not yet in the war. I gave up the half-dead British Legation in despair. I said. that as our own forefathers too had not hesitated to make every conceivable sacrifice for the attainment of that ideal. The American representatives were much better mixers than the British. with its Austrian culture and class distinctions. with gentle yet bitter irony of the fact that a well-worn golf bag was the first object that met the eye on entering the Legation door. But there were those. who can be surprised? And who can wonder too that the best Serbs.) Mihailovich has since carried out this plan with great success. by her lack of participation in the war. instead of trying to adopt alien usage. since America. I am convinced.) Serbia is a land of self-respecting smallholders. I would return to the dignified simplicity of my own tradition. "everything we treasure must be paid for without ceasing-or it is lost. there is no aristocracy in the sense of special privilege or a snobbish superiority based on titles or on great possessions. and with my proudest Serbs in their extremely handsome and dignified national dress around me: I would demand-and receive-respect instead of condescension. And if moments of pleasant leisure were used by the eagerly planning Croats to instill in their guests a bias against the socially less adroit Serbs. not excepting the Swiss. As among our own grandfathers. And those who did succeed in getting through to him spoke. But in Croatia. profiting by and enjoying the splendid fruits of those sacrifices. a wise old Czech. The plan was declined. proud. as with our grandparents.

" said my dear friend Imre Gal. holding their breath with anxiety. Can they understand that loss of freedom anywhere means greater danger to their own? They think themselves safe." Imre. for dictatorship. does the American heart still beat strong. Secret penetration. did not live to see my word made good: all four were among the more than 20. useless! A new art has come into war. Then and only then will America save-herself. like ants. leaving only a still strong-looking surface.few over the many. alert. It does. for government "of the people. I hope he knows that America now fights. At that moment I felt humble and proud to be looked upon with such confidence as the interpreter of my country. Useless. stronger than ever in her history. Tells us. "then and only then will America save the great ideal of human freedom. I said: "It does." "Then.000 who died only a few days later in the fiendish Belgrade bombardment. Be sure. for the people. Yes. . My friends looked at me agonized. a hollow shell which-as in France-can crumble at a blow. The seas are their Maginot Line. with his wife and girl and boy whom I loved. and eager for democracy? " There was a silence. Will Americans still be content to pay to the uttermost for their treasure of liberty? Are you sure democracy has not grown stale and uninspiring to them with use? Americans across the broad seas have forgotten what loss of liberty means. by the people" not only for herself but for all the smaller democracies of the world. including the Czech and the Serb. can eat away at the heart.

. If there were nothing else in the record. to become "cosmopolitan. They despised their un-Serbian fathers." Little did these men grasp what it really meant. Ruth Mitchell 18. They were the "ascendancy class. This gave them a fierce. fed by the strong roots of Serbian tradition. Some of these men. their genius flowers best in hardship.The Serbs Chose War. They saw well and clearly. The Serbs are a hardy race. that as the children of Serbia were the first and only children in Europe to rise and fearlessly to face the German horror. The children. mostly in Paris and Vienna. Don't think they didn't know what they were doing. in this hour of fateful choice for their beloved homeland. marched the streets of Belgrade. "Bolje rat nego pact. the Serbian children shall come first. they had been unduly impressed with the wealth and success of other countries. not as children but as Serbs. more hopeful for the future. Outside of Belgrade. It was the voice of Serbia authentic old spirit of Serbia-breaking its slowly tightening chains. Suddenly there was a great trampling of feet and shouting in the street below." Coming from a comparatively backward land. in the provinces. resulting in a complete and shocking decay of every moral fiber: they became denatured Serbs. most pitilessly butchered of all in Europe. We ran out onto the balcony to watch one of the many demonstration marches of the Belgrade school children. It was unnecessary. this behavior of her children alone would be a sufficient star-sign of the destiny of Serbia. the children did not march. I say that after this war nothing in Europe will be more worth doing than to save and build up again the pitiful remnants that will be left of Serbian youth." the young voices shouted-"Better war than the pact!" The remarkable behavior of the children of Belgrade has been mentioned by correspondents in their books with something akin to contempt as a "diaper revolution. I say. had risen to the top in government. not excepting the Poles or even the Jews. There the children and their parents were heart and soul together: the flawed national product had tended to gravitate to Belgrade. and they were disgusted. but also the much more terrible record of German mass murders in Poland and Czechoslovakia. pitiful maturity. Their Serbian self-confidence and ideals sometimes weakened." But their children still were sharp-eyed Serbs. Because they stood most bravely for their national principle the Serbian children have been most murdered. They knew well not only their own history of massacres under Ottoman rule. in all recent European history? In no other country in Europe did the rising generation take the lead and repudiate the compromising weakness of its elders. as standard-bearers of the old Serbian passion for "liberty at any cost whatever. "WE ARE SERBIAN CHILDREN" ON MARCH 23 I gave a poetry reading in a local club. and my countrymen surely will say with me." Is there anything more inspiring. through their foreign training. Men sent their sons abroad to study. After the last war a mild prosperity had resulted from the sudden exploitation of Serbia's rich resources.

They knew. But the rest. "We are Serbian children. For Serbian youth it was: Serbia free or nothing. undaunted march on. But they did not hesitate or waver. For thousands upon uncounted thousands of them it has been-nothing. Long live Serbia!" .

A steady infiltration of German "businessmen" had been going on for some time. Most of them had gone and most Americans too. I couldn't seem to sit still for five minutes. One by one I picked up the charming things I had gathered that spoke so eloquently of a splendid history. the Karageorgivich grandfather of the present King Peter II. the result was bound to be catastrophic for my friends. left for Germany in a steel train. for they were all Serbs. For an hour or so Belgrade lay silent in a paralysis of horror. Up to the very last moment no Serb. What would be the outcome? Whichever way it went. defying the soldiers. and Cincar Markovich the Foreign Minister." Immediately the streets became empty. Then the storm broke. the Prime Minister. and at last peremptorily ordered by the British consul to leave the country.The Serbs Chose War. trying vainly to read. mute inability to envisage the possibility of Serbs tamely handing over the independence for which they had paid such a frightful price. into town. all British nationals had been first advised. I stayed quietly at home. then urged. They were so sure-so cocky and so sure: "The Gestapo will soon be in charge of everything. At ten-fifteen on the morning of March 25 the news was flashed: "Yugoslavia has signed the Axis pact. Next day. feeling the Nazis creeping close upon their heels. THE SERBS CHOOSE WAR ALREADY. In 1903 the students had voiced the revolt of the people against King Alexander Obrenovic. He reported that the university students were demonstrating fiercely. of stubborn. . That evening I was able to give an almost exact prediction of the course events would take. including Terence Atherton. This revolt resulted in the death of the King and of Draga his wife and put on the throne King Peter I. BY THE MIDDLE OF MARCH. Most of them went about in a sort of daze of disbelief. It was not least the students who in 1928 had forced King Alexander to drop the humiliating Concordat which would have bound the country in spiritual vassalage to Italy. The day came when Cvetkovich. the Anglo-Americans having gone. Did these determined demonstrations of the students now portend another bloodbath? That night." It was embarrassing to face an audience which probably knew more about it than I did. blind. Dispersed in one place. Toward evening I sent Michael. my houseman. of plans for revolution. expressing the real feelings of the people. who with fixed bayonets broke up the meetings and processions. my anxiety was intense. who was selling them out to Austria. as I described in my first chapter. they hurried round the corner and re-formed. How absurd it seemed to try to read. of slowly kindling fury. Knowing. could bring himself to believe it. At this time I gave a lecture at the Anglo-American Club on "The Serbian Character as Shown in the National Epics. It will be Bulgaria over again!" So they thought. I dined with the British correspondents. Ruth Mitchell 19. hating the thought of watching curiously the humiliation of a proud small race. as related in Chapter I. and even said loudly. had often proved ominous. not even those who knew positively that it was going to be done. of shame. And still the people didn't believe. shouting: "Down with the traitors! Better war than the pact!" In Serbia the voice of the students. I was so absent-minded that I felt I was hardly there.

A new star had arisen on the dark night of war. The Serbs had risen. had overthrown their timid pro-Axis government.P. They had mellowed with time. He. I mention the incident only to put it on record for the future. heavy eyebrows. when here I had the fortune to be myself living in a greater drama. On what they decided would depend. their strongly cut faces. so at the mercy of political storms raised by the greater Powers. the first real sign that Hitler was doomed to failure. . "His son on the throne. Although they were middle-aged they showed hardly a gray hair. That night. A fateful day in the history of the world. only asking to fight again! If he can see us now he must be proud and happy. Only this: they came to a certain remarkable decision. it is an inspiring feeling to be vividly living history. came to see me. the Ustashi. were somehow undeniably akin. As related in Chapter I. In these small countries. it would be cut off. relics of the brave days of their own ancestors: they went well together. could not entirely approve. as we were round himself on the Great Retreat in the last war. we filled our glasses and drank a toast: "Zivio. I dozed fitfully. his father. They were neither Chetniks nor fliers.P. could see us now. freed from his house-arrest.. so easily shaken. Montenegrins age very slowly. but not grown weakonly stronger and more patient. you can imagine. one ear open for the telephone. though I knew. his Serbs. like most Serbs with their passionate loyalty. could never speak without tears of his soldier-king murdered by an organization of Croats. and defied the oppressors of mankind to do their worst. A commentator on the London radio that morning said: "The action that the Serbs have taken this day will prove to be the turning point of the war. with us. Although I could not see altogether eye to eye with them. King Peter II. Balkan history will one day explain the significance of matter what." said M. I cannot tell (in fact I have been anxiously begged not to say) who these men were and what they decided that day. Soon we were on our way downtown-I with my faithful camera. Toward morning I must at last have fallen into a heavy sleep. Because they are so small you seem always to be at the beating heart of their problems. and hoped." He was a good prophet. round him." "If only Alexander. These men were facing a cataclysmic crisis in the affairs of their country. The drawing room was chilly. I was full of admiration for the spirit that prompted it. March 27 1941. had put their boy-king on the throne. and warm color gave a curious kind of authenticity to the beautiful antiques surrounding them. They had come in charming compliment to me to decide on policy affecting the future of the state of Montenegro. They were so huge they seemed to fill the whole room. a greater tragedy than could ever be adequately written! In the afternoon four leading Montenegrin men came to see me. In spite of their modern clothes. early on the morning of that day my friend M." We emptied our glasses again to the memory of the dead king who had been his close friend. so we sat round the fire in my small library. not just their own lives-that did not worry them-but the lives and the future of all their people. defeated but unbeaten. Listening to the pandemonium of rejoicing that poured out of the radio.

We met. was. large or small. An old Montenegrin appeared on the balcony to hang out the symbolic bunting that expressed Serbia's choice in the crisis. I also photographed the Nazi Information Center. England is on her own again!") Processions slowly pushed their way down the packed streets. grim joy. and child knew that by repudiating the Prime Minister's signature they were declaring war on a Power that must certainly overwhelm them. Other books have mentioned this episode. directly into the main central square. who inhabit a special district in Belgrade. It happens that Cvetkovich. Now it's Serbia again at last!" For already the news was spreading that Croatia was not taking part in the great defiance of Hitler. I asked myself. unmodern integrity of heart and mind: the only small nation to whom the old values were. As yet there were few. M. every woman. trotted proudly. The Serbs as a whole were still firmly loyal to Yugoslavia. In every square. unconsciously he made the gesture of crucifixion before the American and British flags. acclaimed on all sides. had a very Gypsy cast of face. We stopped every two steps." said this old Englishwoman grimly.P. We arrived before the Albaniya Building. There was no hysteria: only joy. Serbian flags. or tanks. I slipped my Chetnik pass just a little from my breast pocket.knew that they would in all likelihood lose everything they held most dear. to the South Slav union. a sort of solemn. the joy. I saw one very funny thing which I think no other foreigner saw. carrying pictures of King Peter and hastily scrawled banners. giving rise to the contemptuous gibe that he wasn't a real Serb. It was curious and somehow comforting to see them commanded entirely by flying-corps officers. I think. even life-even the lives of those they loved best. as usual. no. worn out. had to have a procession too. minus everything but their lives. at every main crossing. Cvetkovich is not one of us!" Thus was the signer of the disgraceful pact cast out. everyone I knew. from Dunkirk: "Well. So now the Gypsies. as the price of an age-old dream? I felt an enormous admiration for such clear. woman. this is the end of Yugoslavia. brightest rags and tatters. The little. if any. including business houses and factories. like Laval. even by the homeless Gypsies. without any sophistry. For every Serbian man. I was lucky enough to photograph it (though my films were later all lost in the great Belgrade bombardment). a policeman put his hand heavily on my shoulder and tried to turn me away.And what a town it was: flags everywhere. and the hand fell away and saluted. When I started to do the same before the small Italian Travel Bureau. and not one but several men said to me softly: "Well. Yet the happiness. Every man-more. "thank God. still the only possible right values. were guns. all in their finest. rather like the Flatiron Building. bunched together in a gaudy crowd. the largest and newest in Belgrade. already completely wrecked by the populace. and shouting "Bolje rat nego pact!-Bolje rat nego pact!" Every kind of organization was represented in these processions. standing. the Yugoslav flag. . crying at the tops of their shrill voices: "Cvetkovich is no Gypsy-no. undersized people. the relief of the people that they were at last "themselves again" was as genuine as it was unbelievable. disowned. (I am reminded of what an old woman said to an acquaintance of mine in Dover when the English troops were being brought back. Spreading out his arms in joy. How could these people welcome destruction.

eager determination to be worthy of their loyalty. pride of his people. There he was taken charge of by the British and with his family was transported to the hospitable land of Kenya. at first intended to meet him. radio. a revolver shoved into his hand. "I salute you as King of Yugoslavia. With perfect courage and calmness the boy assumed the great responsibility. came out of his bedroom in his dressing gown. It suddenly struck him that the once-powerful regent was now ex. the post office. the new Prime Minister. I was told a charming tale of how General Simovich broke the news to the new boy-king. as King of Yugoslavia. "I to arrest-the Minister of War?" he stammered. told to dress and. something new in Balkan history. The manner of their arrest as described to me by M. Ruth Mitchell 20. and newspaper offices were put under heavy guard. was interesting. His train was stopped by telegram and forced to return to Belgrade. However. Attention to detail made it a completely successful bloodless revolution. The handsome boy. Cincar-Markovich. especially Cvetkovich. telegraph. but whose hand had shaken so wildly that he could not hold the cup. His barricaded door had to be broken open. King Alexander. and some discussion of suitable raiment took place. Only the general and one other minister met the train. A certain captain who shall be nameless was wakened at midnight. did not follow his father's wish. Never has a boy more radiantly expressed joy. ordered to go and arrest General Peshich." said General Simovich. to do the same. had been merely terrified. It should be noted that the democratic tradition of Serbia is that their kings shall be elected. still confused with sleep. police. had left for his country seat in Slovenia. "Wake the King!" they were terrified. . was the only one to resist. Prince Paul. the country he had agreed to stab in the back. and ordered the servants. and then the two warmly grasped hands. SOMETHING NEW AND SOMETHING OLD GENERAL BORO MIRKOVICH's carefully laid plans had been perfectly carried out." He bowed low. telephone. All the ministers of the Prince Paul government were taken into custody. to avoid what he thought would be merely a passing unpleasantness. King Peter I submitted himself to election and urgently enjoined upon his son. who was offered a cup of coffee to give him some semblance of self-control. From this moment you will exercise your full sovereign power. a significantly courageous thing to do in such a crisis. The Prince was politely given the opportunity to depart to Greece.P. however. and one which few if any other Balkan rulers would have dared to risk. the weaklings. All government buildings. When he arrived at the palace on Dedinje Hill. accompanied by the whole new Cabinet. he did it tactfully. the Foreign Minister.The Serbs Chose War. The others. horrified. Well they remembered the fate of other kings in Balkan history. Alexander. That morning I saw him as he drove back from his coronation slowly through Belgrade alone in an open car. General Simovich. But he convinced them that he came as the King's friend. He was never crowned. "Your Majesty.

He was at that moment in Moscow and in the next few days received and transmitted to Belgrade Russia's promise of help if Yugoslavia should be attacked. But he sent two of his own representatives to remain with and to put pressure upon the Yugoslav Government in-Exile so as to be sure to be on the winning side. these. Simovich himself. accepted office under General Simovich after staying in Croatia for three days. who had retired from public life for years because of the un-Serbian. who had for years worked for better relations with Russia.Although young King Peter II in the crisis was crowned in haste. refused to accept payment in Yugoslav produce. The Serbs are still "primitive" enough to believe that their word is binding upon them: Machek had the Government-in-Exile by the throat. joined the Cabinet. who as Foreign Minister had for years tried to come to some fair working agreement with Italy. and unscrupulous form of government that had recently prevailed. and had become in 1928 Chief of Air Staff. Since then he had struggled to build up the Yugoslav Air Force despite French. whichever it turned out to be. as well as of the Slovene People's Party. Though he half-heartedly called upon the Croats to join the colors. including the police. As it turned out. with Machek Second Vice-Premier. American. the Serbian Peasant Party. Many of the new ministers were men popular and respected. Dr. And within only a few hours practically the whole of the autonomous government Machek himself had set up. and other smaller groups." and on the radio in Zagreb ordered the Croats to follow Pavelich. leader of the Croatian peasants. Dr. took service under Ante . the new Croat leader put in by the Axis. Lacking cash. He had his own military organization called the Croat Peasant Guard. and British refusal to grant Yugoslavia credits for armaments. In spite of this glaring stupidity on the part of the great democracies. but little Serbia that helped to save Russia. Instead of remaining with the King and Government: he returned to Croatia "to stay with his people. Machek's Peasant Guards shot down from the rear those Serb units which tried to defend the country. There were representatives of Montenegro and Bosnia. was later killed in the Belgrade bombardment. Incredible as it sounds. a Slovene took his place. and Miha Krek. General Simovich had tried to make his Cabinet representative of every side of public opinion but the pro-Axis groups (excepting. This order was carried out. Kulovec. I have no doubt he will revert to sound Serb democratic tradition and submit himself to election for the satisfaction of his people and himself. thus not only proving themselves ungrateful but also depriving themselves of orders for their factories. Ninchich. less a statesman than a soldier. had fought with distinction in all the Balkan wars and in World War I. immediately went over complete to the Axis.) After the bombardment Machek still urged a humiliating peace with Germany. it is a fact that the night before the King was removed to safety Machek secured the Government's signature to an agreement by which the Serbs would after the war ask for no change of frontiers to which the Croats had not agreed. grudgingly negotiating guarantees of the continuance of Croat autonomy. the leading Serb authority on international and constitutional law. Machek). he had remained staunchly pro-Ally Professor Yovanovich. returned to the same office. Machek. dictatorial. as did also Milan Gavrilovich. (When Germany attacked. took office as First Vice-Premier. undemocratic. he had privately ordered his guards to prevent mobilization. it was not Russia that helped Serbia. Bogolyub Yevtich who had accompanied King Alexander on his last fatal journey to Marseilles and discussed with him the plans which the King was then working out to reintroduce a democratic constitution for Yugoslavia. There is complete proof of these facts. The Third Vice-Premier. of course. Serbia's allies. Dr.

in charge of and carrying out the massacres and expulsion of not less than 1.200. and the peasants upon Machek's own advice rushed to join or co-operate with the Ustashi. Machek's own most trusted henchmen are now.000 Serbs long resident in Croatia. the populace received the Germans with wholehearted enthusiasm and bearing large signs: "The Croats and Germans Always Together." avowed their pro-Axis sympathies. Soon most of the intelligentsia of Croatia.Pavelich. the ex-patriate thug-organizer of the Ustashi. responsible for the murder of the Yugoslav king. at this moment. who had only a few years ago hailed the Serbs as their "dear brothers. As the photos and films of the Axis entry into Croatia show. Even their latest "dear brothers" despised the traitors." Hysterical women jumped on the tanks and kissed the soldiers while the Germans looked on with-amused contempt. .

Some of them had a slightly stooping.) If I had worn it that day. then hundreds upon hundreds of men and women who were not in uniform. "Five o'clock. they were now at least equally good. I took my place directly behind the women in uniform. quick turn of the eye that betokens habitual alertness. I was taken for granted by the women. pressingforward carriage. Those hundreds of others who wished to keep their membership secret." I was strongly tempted to take my proper place publicly. Chetnik Headquarters telephoned. the black. All were very strong. and they were a good complement to the men. As my riding clothes were also brown. There were about ninety of these women. there had arrived in Belgrade the night before the coup almost 150 Gestapo agents to take over control of the police. At five o'clock the Chetnik march started from the Slaviya Square. Almost all. that I will certainly be there but not in uniform. He will know why I consider it best. All were country women. radio. even secretive. (Statements that I was seen in it are incorrect." I had already made up my mind. With broad-brimmed hat well down over my face and my fur collar turned up. Even when they clapped each other hard on the back. Jubilant crowds that morning came to see where doors had been broken down to arrest them. BY THE TREATY OF March 27. though I had once or twice worn the comfortable cap when riding. had that sharp. Then all the uniformed Chetniks that happened to be in town. I had never been out in uniform. silver-fringed flags bearing the silver skull and crossed bones. and in the chaffing that flew back and forth I said as little as possible so that my accent should not attract attention. about it. including Yanko. please. Then the Voivoda Kosta Pechanats and the other leaders with their staffs. Their joy was intense but controlled. These men had been lodged mainly in the Hotel Astoria. We fall in at the Slaviya." "Very well. newspapers. did not march. there was something restrained. people in retrospect may have the impression that I wore the uniform itself. post office. It came. Ruth Mitchell 21. . or do you think it advisable not to do so? He leaves it to your discretion.The Serbs Chose War. There must have been about two thousand altogether. it is unlikely that I should be here today to write this. I went home to wait for the summons which I knew would come. Every German spy in Belgrade-and there were hundredswould be there watching. had promised Yugoslavia complete self-government. "Tell the Chief. very thin and wiry. After hours of happy milling round and snatching a sandwich where we could in the seething restaurants. First came the banners. then the women in uniform. tanned and tough with hard work on the land. as if accustomed to mountain paths or to bearing heavy burdens. To prove how sincere were her intentions. Will you march beside the Voivoda on his staff. But if the reasons for secrecy had been good before. THE PATRIARCH GOLGOTHA GOES TO HIS GERMANY. etc.

. keeping time to our almost soundless tramp." Before the palace we halted and sang the national anthem while the new king took the salute. eager boy he looked. and we had to show our passes. . the supreme head of the Serbian Church. I noticed. And they were glad. . It was now getting dark. I noted two husky. Gray-bearded. One sound alone was heard: issuing from half-open mouths. a man of their own stock and after their own heart. Kralja Petra Drug II [Long live King Peter II!]. if anything more quietly than before . How happy I felt to be among these women! They were primitive if you like-primitive as were our own great-grandmothers who went West with their men and fought the Indians." Then we moved on. But there was very little cheering. was like nothing so much as a weasel. Through a deep lighted arch above the doorway. There was a low murmur of complete assent. a little dried-up old woman. Some. and the light shining out through the low rounded arches upon the group of stern. I was ashamed mine looked so new. Even for the Serbs a Chetnik march causes a certain chill of the spine. large and heavy. We made a swing round the main streets and drew up before the residence of the Patriarch of the Serb Orthodox Church. the low mutter of the Chetnik marching song: . They were not opened. That was all. He said that what Serbia had stood for through the ages and what Serbia stood for now liberty to rule themselves and to worship God as they chose-was well worth dying for. This was a Serb of Montenegro. now ready . We marched informally. more or less in line. Standing under the heavy Byzantine arch. They were ready for anything. were quite worn. they knew what they were about. on the great jeweled ring. They were the unique product of a unique historythe ultimate in that ultimate question of human survival: "Your life or mine!" At the Milosha Velikog corner there was a barrier of soldiers. sign of his high authority. Her breast was so loaded with medals won in the last World War as almost to pull her stooped figure forward. Anything less exhibitionist could not be imagined. managing souls who felt called upon to take charge and push the others about a little. and on the jeweled cross upon his breast. not even a whistle. more or less in fours. In front marched the women with decorations. One. The crowds on the pavement pressed in so close that it was hard to pass. There was no band.These women were the real thing. A splendidly happy. his expression was benign yet stern. . the Patriarch Gavrilo stepped out upon a small carvedstone balcony. They must expect to die for it. His words were few and simple. . but there was practically none from the Chetniks-just a few shouts of: "Zivio. being the product of a fierce history which taught them that only ferocity and cunning could enable them to survive the attacks of cunning and ferocious enemies. a very fine example of the Byzantine art to which the Serbs are heir. They were fierce too. the gentle old priest raised his hand in blessing while the light shone on his white hair and beard. "Ready. dark-browed fighters in their picturesque Chetnik dress was like an illustration straight out of some old book of legendary tales. No one paid them much attention. I expected noisy cheering.

his overcoat so vast. this ancient monastery was built in front of a cave to commemorate the time when the Serbs had put up a desperate defense there against the Turks. They left him naked except for his shirt." they cried. in Montenegro. And over the rough roads. "England and America will be with us. America. was with the Patriarch as he blessed my brothers and sisters the Chetniks for death. We went home at last after a crowd of us in a near-by restaurant had raised our glasses of slivovits to "England. it seemed. And exactly six weeks later the old priest set out on his own Road to Golgotha. Bosnia. . Within ten days we were dispersed. over the mountains and through the deep valleys." My God. "England and America. Remote in the mountains. shouting with happiness. the Patriarch's children of all ages knelt down by the roadside. Thus. Because the head of the Church had taken with him for safekeeping the Serbian crown jewels." I said soberly but very happy too. hatless in the burning Balkan summer. I still believed it. They hugged me. So they transferred him from Podostrog to a monastery about thirty miles from Belgrade. who had withdrawn to the monastery of Podostrog. kissed me-everyone. I believed I spoke the truth. footprints of blood upon the stony road. And be sure they rose again immeasurably strengthened in courage and resolution by the dignity of the latest martyr of the Serbian Church. the Germans seized the Patriarch Gavrilo. This was the way of it. the unconquerables. She is a Chetnik. after most of Serbia had been overrun by the Axis. mile upon painful mile. our brothers!" "England and America. They took from the old man everything.Again a murmur of "Ameris" and a movement as all devoutly crossed themselves. feeling much moved. he cried to the women: "This lady is English and American. "England and America will stand by Serbiathey will stand by Serbia's side. most of us never to meet again. They almost tore me to pieces. they made him walk. through Montenegro. He caught sight of me and hurried down. M. He threw his arms round me (he was so large. Never while there lives a Serb will that passing of their old Patriarch Gavrilo be forgotten. praying and weeping. He blessed them as he passed. As he passed. She is one with us!" After a moment of great surprise the women surrounded me. Did they succeed? It seems that their most cunning schemes are invariably self-defeating. as we all were. These people of iron selfcontrol shed tears of joy at what they thought a splendid omen. had to pat me. no doubt. at the point of a bayonet. This is how they did it. by making it appear ridiculous in the person of its Patriarch.P. two hundred miles. they would humiliate the Church of the Serbs. and Serbia –together!" That was on March 27. the Germans had brought against him the preposterous charge of stealing state property. and Serbia. thought the Nazis. that I was simply engulfed) and. leaving. even his shoes. On May 9.

They believed them. and also Russia were the decisive consideration. they did not weigh heavily in causing them to resist domination at any cost. Colonel William J. The leaders took a more pragmatic view. How much had been promised would not be for me to say. We knew only that the Serbs would fight. so far as I know-that they would go completely berserk. But I could not prove it. Bulgarian. And the Serbs could or would not believe it. Would America at least send us planes? How often in that time I thought of my brother General Billy! If only he had been alive. We knew there were at least thirty Axis divisions besides columns of tanks and a vastly superior air force massing on the Austrian. in the following days. At such times the onlooker sees more than the participants.The Serbs Chose War. But I did not dream-nor did anybody else. Would the final sum in America's account with little Serbia be written in black or-red? I wondered. If the Serbs had bargained for their resistance. I was not alone in fearing that the Croats would change sides. they could have got almost any price. There was no misunderstanding-it does us no good to hedge at this date. however: that the public impression was of promises both large and definite. which I don't. PROMISES INSTEAD OF PLANES ENGLAND AND AMERICA had certainly promised to send effective help. A gentlemen's agreement is so agreeable gently to forget! Anxiously." And the Serbs carried out their part. and Albanian frontiers of Yugoslavia. and we knew that Serbia was in a frightful position with small hope of effective help. Promises were made. Ruth Mitchell 22. the Serbs gave us without price the three most vital months in the annals of civilization. how well that good fighter would have understood and loved the Fighting Serbs! . I believeanyone who knew the people well believes-that the Serbs would have done what they did if we had given them no promises at all. I can say this. Serbia at the end would present no bill-that I knew. In a war aimed just as much at America as at Europe. By the people as a whole those promises were not much considered. But history would write down her figures and add them up. narrow but stubborn.because the Serbs are like that. Rumanian. almost none of which was wholly reliable because of the admixture of Croatian troops. But no. They have a curious tender streak in term. even if I knew positively. And slowly my hopes of effective help began to sink. They were not kept. To these we could hope to oppose only fourteen complete divisions. had been in Belgrade (I was in Sofia at the time). Treachery is foreign to their own natures. Donovan. I was sure that the Croats meant treachery. Would the British be able to disengage a sufficient force to be effective in the Balkans? It seemed to me desperately unlikely. For them those promises by England. personal emissary of President Roosevelt. it was a "gentlemen's agreement. Hungarian. America. The campaign in Syria had come just at the wrong moment. Italian. hence they cannot predict it in others. we weighed the situation.

Fliers can't be "coerced. I was to make for that point and proceed from there to wherever my services would be most useful. German. then my brother would help me to help the Serbs. that I could do. I saw him leading a great flight of American planes across the seas to help the Serbs. and Italian. spy.e. Though my Serbian was certainly weak. also ignored? There was little.. The army of Yugoslavia collapsed in eight days. the single-minded will to liberty of the Serbs would produce one of the most brilliant military figures of the war. fighting for his dream of air power to which America had turned a deaf ear. chief of the Fourth District of Aviation. on the Montenegrin-Albanian frontier. almost two years later. faced with an impossible situation. when the Army fell. would go into action. in survival after death. What we had no means of foreseeing was that a great leader would arise with a brain and a personality capable of reorganizing. held by men through the ages. the Chetniks. immediately bombed out of existence. in the most important place I could get to. we. would be the very last to fall. The Chetniks fought splendidly from the beginning. I spoke sufficient of the other necessary languages. combining. (This man is now a general of the army of the Independent State of Croatia and chief of Croat aviation. George sitting on his battle charger. But-my brother was dead. We could not guess that the Croat Colonel Kren. would on April 3 fly to Germany and disclose to the enemy the position of every one of these airfields. of course. Then.I looked at my St.") My own role was to be this: if the British succeeded in landing in force on the Greek coast and coming up through Macedonia. and leading the shattered remnants of a defeated army and an undefeated organization of guerrilla fighters. General Draja Mihailovich. And who can say that he has not done so? We believed that the Army could hold for fourteen days-with great good luck for twenty days. The Montenegrins were sweeping the Italians into the sea when Yugoslavia collapsed behind them. and the army of Serbia is fighting still. . But if there was truth in the belief. partly because they would be fighting the Italians. French. But mainly because of their lack of admixture with Croats. and my American passport would be invaluable. which were. We could not guess that. and his face seemed to change to that of my brother. Must the Serbs now die fighting.. i. We were proved right. my job would be to act as intelligence officer. I was to act as liaison officer on the Chetnik staff. so very little. We calculated that the flying field at Podgoritsa. \ If the British did not succeed in getting through. We had our secret airfields in the mountains. which has made such a brilliant record against the Russians. We believed that the Montenegrins would give the best account of themselves: partly because of their eagerness for the fray and their pride in never having been conquered. Arms and munitions were hidden in caves and buried in the forests in places where of old the Serbs had known how to stand. today. Everything turned out much worse and also better than we thought we could expect. inspiring. America was not yet in the war. of the Royal Yugoslav Army. and the Chetniks are fighting splendidly today. And the horse changed to a plane... He died.

Outside my windows. as my household followed invariable custom. Should I rush out and cry to them to hide? No use. the men in somber dark. [The bombs fall and already now this instant all Belgrade is in flames. and there flowed into my lovely room words which I knew meant that in a matter of minutes my little house with all the age-old beauty it contained would almost certainly be wiped forever from the earth. But it was coming. the women in their bright embroidered clothes. It was war-the war in which I had already enlisted. screaming.]" The voice was Ribbentrop's. My mind seemed to act quite mechanically. shrieking with that hysterical fervor with which the Nazis bemuse their own people but which long since has left the rest of the world contemptuously cold. we all knew it must come. as I knew the water mains would be smashed at once. Yes. But it had come a little sooner than we had expected. Ruth Mitchell 23. It was a lie. These were the words as I remember: "Die Bomben fallen und jetzt in diesem Augenblick steht schon ganz Belgrad in Flammen. First I tipped over the cage of my pet magpie to give it at least a chance of life. Then I filled the bathtub. the dark-browed Serbian peasants. Suddenly from the small brown instrument there burst a bellowing. In that slanting early light it was like the inside of a jewel case. to the early Sunday market. I steadied on the wave length.The Serbs Chose War. (Useless. for the bath was almost immediately filled with collapsed ceiling. level with the ground. those grim men who. That "master race" reduced by him to a savagery worse than any ever known in the savage old Balkans. passed unhurried but more silently. Belgrade was absolutely quiet. They would only think it panic. I watched them thoughtfully as I began to pour my tea and turned the short-wave radio knob. I listened: no sound but the jingling of milk carts in the streets and the shuffling of unhurried peasant feet. I ran into my bedroom to pull on my Chetnik uniform. after all. must be expecting it. A TORCH IS LIT WHICH SHALL NEVER GO OUT AT SIX-FORTY* on Sunday morning. April 6. and in which my role had been assigned. Just as I buckled on my dagger the first bomb fell.) . my Cossack houseman Michael placed my breakfast tray as usual in front of the radio in the sitting room of my house on the Slaviya hill of Belgrade. rich with the antique treasures I loved so much. I am confident that this is correct. as usual. this raucously heralded doom. raucous German voice. the words were Hitler's message to [*Correspondents dealing with the Belgrade bombardment give various tunes agreeing neither with each other nor with this. At any moment now immeasurable horror would descend on these humble people from the blue morning sky. more grimly than usual. I came from my bedroom through my little library.

depended the answer. smooth sound like the tearing of heavy silk the neighboring houses began to collapse. this peasant race of Serbs. . nearer. contorted attitudes. thick. I tried to push Michael too. yellow. Soon the cordite fumes. There came a moment of comparative lull. It wasn't the noise or even so much the concussion. indeed of immediate vital importance. Now far. "no walls can protect me. . The effect was almost inconceivable. Again the bombs were falling. and I had time to wonder what had happened to those men and women who just a few minutes ago were tramping so calmly past my windows. so low I felt I could almost strike the pilots in the face. rolled in to obliterate' the scene. It drove like something solid through the house: every door that was latched simply burst off its hinges. I pushed her under the stairs. As they came closer they were like no sound ever heard in all the universe. and on and on. Stairs. There in the street among piles of stones men and women lay still in strange. then near.. I ran to a smashed window. usually stand up longest when houses collapse. Was their near-by market just a deep hole lined with crushed bodies and stalls? How had they reacted? That question was of pressing interest.crash!-against the wall. Everything that stood loose hit the opposite wall and was smashed. Bomb after bomb exploded all round us. but that little gray-haired Cossack wasn't to be moved from his matter-of-fact calmness: "If God intends that I shall die. dull explosions multiplied-came nearer . so little considered or understood by the outside world. was knocked over several times and simply got up again!) Now the real fun started. The screams of Stukas diving on the town were at first far off. and one had a frantic flash of thought that it might not start again. The heart stopped. with a weird. At every crash I would cry out to my poor Sultana.The ominous. Sultana. held her breath. "If God wills it-if God wills it-if God wills it. It was the perfectly appalling wind that was most terrifying." he said. So when my cook Sultana began to scream. silent. My cellar was deep.. strangling. the curtains stood straight out into the room and fell back in ribbons. it's over!" She merely sobbed frantically. I had a surge of uncontrollable wild fury as these ferocious birds with their earsplitting noise swooped down to lay their eggs of death. . I believed in these people. . . The ceilings fell with hardly a noticeable sound in the earth-shaking uproar. some not more than twenty yards away. . now reduced to gibbering prayer: "Once you hear it. I had planned what to do. like yells of fiends from the inferno. to me. Then. every pane of glass flew into splinters. Had I been wrong? On how they reacted.. you're safe. thick and fast. and no muscular control could prevent a dizzying blow on the back of the head. it appears." Each time there was a really big explosion we were knocked." (He walked out into the garden to see what there was to see. the Stukas shrieked and stooped like hawks upon our very chimney pots. now that they were getting what they had been asking for. I admired them greatly-so much so that I had taken the serious step of throwing in my lot with them and pledging my own life to help them. but vaulted with bricks which would be sure to shake down on us.

" No use standing to argue with this stubborn fellow." She clung. grabbed a few things.. I ran out into the street. Although my business was to get as quickly as possible to my post on the Montenegrin-Albanian frontier. Every time we reeled and steadied again he looked up at me with his quizzical little smile: "Well. kissed him. I heard not a single sound. A few children stumbled. breathless-waiting. beside their parents. it will pass. Nevertheless I ordered the two servants to take what they valued most and make for a cottage they had in a village outside Belgrade. My collections were to have gone out of town to be buried in the garden of friends in a cement cellar prepared for them. his short gray hair on end. ." A lull. How was it possible! "Be quiet. We had been left alive. Michael was calmly helping. Still alive. and this is it-ha-ha!" . "Come with us. The town lay stunned. in an eerie silence. dazed and dizzy.The thunder of their engines seemed like hellish laughter: "Down. . a nightmare of bulging. I spoke to Michael sharply: "You go tool" He shook his old head: "I remain with you. you are the guardian of it for just your little instant in the long roll of time. Sultana consulted with her husband. When you have taken into your care some small fraction of the beauty of past centuries. Very few people even had come out. The people were silent. Still alive. This time I saw the swarm of planes high in the sky darting down toward us. calling loudly. it must pass. and both streets now were blocked with rubble. The bodies were already being carried across the piles of masonry by people. No one ran screaming. and showed it.just standing it. to us. For there was something I felt it was my duty to do. undefended city? What's that to us. We knew well from friends in Poland and Czechoslovakia . My house was a corner one. I went back into my house-that seemed the only thing to do. absolutely silent and grim. The crashing of the bombs faded to dull booms and died away. Hardly had we got the wounded down the street to the near-by hospital. This time? No. Now Michael. gasping. up. and a policeman stuck his head through a smashed window. of struggling for breath. Sultana threw her arms round my neck and kissed me. The view both ways was weirdly unrecognizable. Again we went through what seemed hours but was perhaps only twenty minutes of hellish noise. There were two unexploded incendiary bombs imbedded in the pavement just outside my windows. when it came again. shouting for help. I was pleased.. I decided to remain a little longer. to my hand. the splendid Masterfolk? We are the bearers of -all the world's culture. of course. "Everybody here leave at once! The house next door is going to fall on this one. and away-what fun! Belgrade an open. well. Sultana. madam." We jumped out to look. This time? No. Now I had work to do. many of whom were themselves covered with blood. If I had deserted my lovely things at this moment I should have been ashamed all the rest of my life. The four-story wall next door looked pretty steady to me. that one. slanting ruin. My plans had long been made. and ran down the street. ambled in and stood looking thoughtfully at the floor as if bored. come-come with us!" Michael also begged me to go.. her tears wet on my cheeks. that was a close one. madam. I didn't count them.

that the Germans. take off his long sheepskin coat and put it over this very horse. Lovely icons. It's extraordinary how hard it is just to pick things up and put them into a box when the house is staggering and you are wondering how many seconds you are still going to be alive. A breathing space. he would kiss it quickly on the nose. scissors. I ran out into the street. and threw things in with frantic haste. particularly of antiques. and he was violently thrown. since it was obviously the pride of his heart. A particularly handsome peasant boy used to stop his small milk cart at my corner. trays. At the corner. The bombers again drew away. Boxes and bags stood ready.P. wrought candlesticks. were ruthless looters and thieves. shell-shocked. At last it was done. He knew that if anything could tempt me to flight it would be a horse. I calculated too that the neighboring wall couldn't fall as far as the library. and let them bump down by themselves.. lay the mangled body of a beautiful horse. M. I called for Michael. get down. as if every mouse in the town were holding its breath or was dead. but I would see. He had no doubt bred it himself. Again the choking cordite fumes. gave them a shove. then by foul. Back came those murderous bombers. if not. swords. He wandered. especially the reserve officers. he would quickly look up and down the street to make sure he was not observed. I was blown off my feet. bracelets. because anything I could get into the cellar would almost surely be protected both from the elements and from greedy German eyes. I dragged the bags and trunks to the top of the cellar stairs. for I remembered a little scene I had witnessed so often from my windows in the early mornings of that snowy winter. . guitars. beside an overturned cart from which milk had flowed in long white streams. to the evident delight of the horse. And in the deathly stillness I was startled by the noise they made! Now to find the quickest means of getting down to Montenegro. The silence round me was uncanny. I knew that horse. The railway? Surely that would be destroyed. It is best to say here what happened to old Michael the Cossack from the Don. to drag from teak and mother-of-pearl chests fragile silk bedspreads heavy with gold embroidery. But Michael wasn't there. and rode post-haste directly into the terrible rain of bombs. He therefore ran as fast as his legs could go out of town to a friend who still had an ancient nag not taken for the Army. That faithful soul decided that it was his duty to get me out of Belgrade-by fair means if possible. Then. He seized the beast. Could he have deserted me after all? I sat down for the first time since my early tea. The horse was killed under him (I later passed the body). If now the house next door was going to fall on mine it would be lucky. a flier. All our plans had been made for Thursday.. So I had to be my own porter. snuffboxes. and my chief was not to be back in town until Tuesday. scrambled up. Tears came to my eyes. back to his village and his wife. little golden mules. With flying haste I began to pull down exquisite brocades and mantles. despite the protesting cries of its owner.. had left for Skoplye. Now to get the things into the cellar. Taking the horse's head between his hands.

through long tragic history. The carts and prams piled high with awkward goods that one saw in the pictures of French refugees were noticeably absent. eyes and teeth gleaming with bright smiles. Only stunned movement. and I had avoided passing it. these boys used to bargain! Many of them had been my friends. They weren't even hurrying particularly-they looked just calmly prepared for a long. could reproduce the gory shambles of this sceneshowed weeping. were slowly trying to collect. despairing relatives. for it will haunt me while I live. It was not more than two hundred yards across the roofs from my house. For them no more shivering in the chilly mornings. and the elevator. but few were heavily loaded. quietly beside their parents. dazedly heavy and fumbling of movement. slow. Most carried bundles. It had always annoyed me. The Germans. Children trotted busily. Looking down the next street. no more the pennies anxiously garnered for their mothers. The most imposing building in all Belgrade was the great frowning gendarmerie headquarters. pitifully hopeless. no more joyous success with the first customer. were now strewn with treasured oranges and flowers. Here in a little park one of these had received a direct hit. and blood was everywhere. Trees uprooted lay tumbled as in the old game of spillikins. heads-so small. And now? In one small second those heavy granite walls had been blown about the neighborhood in fragments. clinging to hands or skirts as if perhaps going to church but with no sign of fright. legs. All the interior lay wrecked and naked to the eye. Refugees were beginning to move up the street out of the town. Cars lay overturned and flattened. . so small-which other humans. but received such a shocked look from a passer-by that I dropped it again. were inured to losing their possessions? The order and absolute silence of the crowd were striking. and its kindly master's body had been carried away. arms. making a morning's walk gay with the chaff we exchanged. long march. halfway up. even in color. had gone especially for the air-raid shelters (very few in this "open" city)-and especially for those meant for school children. with their careful maps. ridiculously helpless. Here there were none-no tears and no despair. their mothers and fathers. And in their branches were parts of human bodies. I came upon a sight I wish I might never have seen. Hurrying through a narrow choked passage. merry flames-blown out! I stooped to pick up a narcissus. I saw a wonderfully impressive proof of the instability of power. How eagerly. The hole was enormously deep. Was it because these people. Little.Now the well-loved animal was just torn meat. hung loose. I don't like architectural terrorization any better than any other kind-to me it always seems a confession of weakness. Street corners. where small boys had just had time to set up their humble baskets. Most horror photographs-though none. I heard afterwards that three hundred and sixty policemen waiting there in reserve had been killed by one of the first bombs.

the building itself burning fiercely. nibbling sausages and. not even tired. and run down into the cellar of their apartment house. shoes. In the interior of the shops the greedy flames were already licking with their red-white tongues. C. The car obviously would be filled to extreme capacity. Mrs. had sprung up. There was nothing that could be done. no one even turned to look. but in their night clothes. I made up my mind we would walk until we could meet other transportation. They were grimly undismayed. was too much for me: I burst into shouts of laughter. of course. A number were shot. I ran down to the station. fine furniture. I saw several acquaintances with cars overflowing with humanity. and her daughter. I hurried back to my house on the off chance that some friend might have turned up with a car. It would be many a day before a train left from there. The water works had been the first German target: "Burn. In places one's boots literally crunched on candy and costume jewelry. to the accompaniment of screaming Stukas..On the principal shopping street. It did not matter: we knew what we had to do. books. The whole neighborhood was just a shambles. the "Fifth Avenue" of Belgrade. When there came another lull I ran out to settle the transport business. Not a soul was doing anything to stop it. when the Gypsies moved in and began looting. burn!" Chetniks stood at the corners with drawn guns to keep order. They were not needed until that night. seized their dogs and a packet of money. in which they soon joined. china. the elder the wife of a Serbian general at the front. the heat too great on each side. cases of cigarettes lay flung on the sidewalk. each with a white. They had been fast asleep when the first bombs fell. First I went to the American Legation. sitting politely on two chairs they had turned right side up. radio apparatus. . very dear Serbian friends of mine. Chetniks who are strangers to each other never salute or speak. beady-eyed lapdog in her arms. What was my surprise to see. jewelry. the younger the widow of a well-known novelist. I now met an acquaintance in the force who stopped just long enough to inform me that our headquarters had ceased to exist. The sight of these fashionably smart ladies sitting in the midst of all the wreckage quite formally. and even those acquainted only acknowledge this with a quick lift of the eyebrow. would be the first thing completely smashed up. Ever since then they had been dodging here and there under whatever cover they could find but headed towards my house. B. Belgrade. the house above you is burning!" Everything they possessed in town was gone. silk stockings. They had a country place in the direction I must take: we would proceed together. Soon I had to walk in the middle of the street. There a press car stood with the newspapermen ready to move off. After snapshots had been taken I hurried on to the British Legation. Yet not one person stooped to pick up anything. There was no use hunting vaguely through the town. The airfield. Not long afterwards a policeman came in and yelled: "Get out quickly. The next wave of bombers arrived just as I got home. leaving them to rummage round my wrecked bedroom for whatever clothes they could find to wear. which was entirely deserted. We sat on my cellar stairs. discussing ways and means.

and the old book excuse. But I thought that in the next few hours we should need what wits we had. So I took them down into the cellar and begged them to help me to pile up logs and all sorts of heavy articles on top of my treasures. very few of these. now had worn pretty thin. The two German agents took turns carrying my sleeping bag. But a bright peasant shawl on her white curls made her look more beautiful than ever. and most of them fled the country in good time. My last remains of fine ten-year-old Zemun wine. to protect them in case the house fell. indeed hoped. eager to know what I was going to do and intending. for. contemptible cowards. I decided that we would make for my cook's cottage outside Belgrade and there look for a conveyance. if possible. with heavy. then. Yanko and three other men friends of mine now arrived to see if I was still alive. But among those who have been educated abroad a sort of nervous compensation sometimes sets in that produces completely unashamed. After searching those I took occasion. if it is for nothing. having decided that it would be a shame to leave good bottles for bad Germans. I was not sure to what lengths they would go to prevent my leaving. "We are accustomed to die. amidst funereal lamentations. So we had one more glass each. up. Then one realizes that death is really the least of their worries. to stop me from doing it. while carrying things. why-too bad. and under my raincoat. I myself had an automatic." is their attitude. One of the first three bombs had blasted it. undecided behavior. and you will be the only American behind the lines. B. with great protestations of chivalry." has been so much quoted that one begins to suspect that there is something theatrical. and it was necessary to find out if they were armed. "If you are to die. of rakiya and mastic. "Stay here-we will hide and look after you. They went into an anxious huddle and immediately began making determined efforts to persuade me to remain in Belgrade." That is the old natural unspoiled Serb. Helmuth and Igon. to bump into them from all sides and made sure they had no guns. which was burning sullenly. Fortunately there are very. they offered. For this they had to take off their coats. insincere about it. I wonder if there is any other race in the world that has such a nonchalant attitude towards death as the Serbs. They were in a hilarious state. never to see again. I poured the rest down the drain. Their old saying. But here they were. "but if it's in a good cause. whom I had expected. billowing black smoke. so I could afford to be amused at their baffled." They were pop-eyed at seeing me in uniform.I hurried back. which hung in folds almost to the ground. The Germans are sure to be here soon. until the test comes. my extra riding boots looked huge." the German agents. passing the Ministry of War. My two women friends had clothed themselves bizarrely in odds and ends of my belongings. up and at 'em-we are lucky ever to have been alive at all. to save from the enemy in the same way. Then. was very petite and graceful. Upon my return to my house I found there my two young "guardians. Only think what wonderful work you could do!" etc. I could see. while army clerks stood helpless round the doors. they had stowed the contents in the most convenient place. . They were completely at a loss except for their obvious determination to cling to me as long as possible. I told them that I proposed to make for the coast and "try to get out of the country. Her mother had found no shoes big enough and had decided to stick to her bedroom slippers. This explained in part the extreme confusion of military orders later.

. Helmuth and Igon. alone. always up last-while Yanko walked peacefully on with his flag. This made Yanko angry. greatly concerned. but he only laughed. who laughed. Am I right?" Since everyone had now hastily taken shelter in surrounding ruins. Soon he was walking proudly as ever with what was no more conspicuous than a painted pole. machine-gunning anything that moved-except cows or geese: that would have been wasting future German food. yes! " "Yes. I put my arm across his shoulder and. if there was one. The planes were now flying low.No sooner were we outside my gate than we discovered to our horror that Yanko was proudly bearing an enormous Yugoslav flag on a long pole. crouching beside fences or trees to let the planes pass by. slowly wound up the flag. threw themselves into dirty corners. At that instant he exactly represented the whole spirit and situation of the Serbs. I begged him to leave it behind. the dear fellow. needing assistance every time the damned thing got loose again. My country is Yugoslavia. pointing to the German planes which were again approaching low down and reminding him that he was endangering not only himself but everyone in his vicinity. he began a grandiloquent harangue: "I am a Serb. This is the flag of my country-I am not ashamed of it. Yanko. He stood there stubbornly.always down first. do likewise?" Less numerous answers-since the planes were nearer-of. On we went. the answer. The safest thing to do in a German air raid is to go and lean against a cow! It was amusing to see with what wholehearted terror the two Germans. Wouldn't YOU. ashamed of it?" Stern barks from the crowd: "No. I am a Serb. sprang into his car. Addressing a crowd of refugees that quickly collected around us. As we emerged into open country this bright bunting became a really serious danger: people were fleeing from us as much as from the Germans. climbing over wreckage and skirting deep bomb holes. "Yes. I stayed beside him. Something had to be done. ran up. Are you. and drove off] is going to scare me out of carrying it. gazing up undismayed and absolutely helpless at the flying devils in the sky. I stumbled and cried out that I had twisted my ankle. without his being aware of it. legs apart. and no blankety-blank-blank German or anyone else [glaring at the officer. Limping painfully. no!" "I will carry my country's flag wherever and whenever I blankety-blank well please. shrugged his shoulders. the great flag in hand. my countrymen. was inaudible in the crashing explosions. Near the outskirts of town we saw a dead white horse. I had an inspiration. At the first large street crossing an officer jumped out of a car and angrily ordered him to get rid of it. my countrymen. It turned out to be the one on which Michael had tried to rescue me.

instantly guessing my thought. Often later. but the house was on a little hillside with a free view over Belgrade. The two small rooms and the chicken-filled garden were crowded with friends. grandeur in the unchecked flaming of its heart. I walked up and down. he too had his duties to perform. up and down the little bricked path of the garden. beautifully saddled and bridled. swooping and diving. There was grandeur in the great city's loneliness. skimming away and back again. mostly Russian women and children. and walked on. And Belgrade was burning. Sullenly the heavy clouds of smoke rolled upwards. and a few old men. reflecting on their black bellies the angry glare that must have been visible for hundreds of miles across the huge river and the limitless flat plain. silent but for the sound of bursting bombs. writhing. bitterly disappointed. Watching the winged fiends of this holocaust. Now their murdered capital flamed. fourteen of us disposed ourselves on the two beds and on the floor. I had no right to steal his mount. a dying signal to the libertyloving peoples of the earth. As darkness began to fall. And sure enough a soldier was already madly tearing down the street after the animal. alone in the darkness and silence-dark but for the glare from the burning capital. twisting away into the sky. I was full to the brim and running over with fury. And here my dear old Michael. Germany had lit the great beacon of her "civilizing mission" in the Balkans. ran from a side street and stopped right in front of me. Perhaps I might now be with General Mihailovich and my Chetniks. . I swore to myself that while there was breath in my body I would fight to save what those monsters of cruelty would leave of a people whose dream they could never understand. Great tongues of flame would burst up suddenly. He was still dizzy and a little vague from the shock of his dashing failure. a handsome black animal. and here the noisy panic was in striking contrast to the silent grimness of the steadily tramping Serbs. probably more immediately important than mine. I used to think of how differently things might have turned out if I had obeyed my instinct. The great city along the Danube seemed to be one blazing bonfire. As night came down the sight was weird and terrible. billowing. those messengers from hell. The Serbs had dared to dream of liberty. Everything was put at our disposal: carefully hoarded provisions were brought out. A stray horse. My almost uncontrollable instinct was to jump on its back and ride away south to the mountains. he did the honors of his home in the royal manner. in the endless days and nights of prison. And still with demonic diligence and glee they rained destruction on destruction upon the pitifully supine city.Now a curious thing happened. was king. My friends. glare fiercely for a while. etc. We passed through a village almost entirely inhabited by Gypsies. even so. I turned my back. Soon we reached Michael's village and his tiny cottage. But none could raise a hand to help. it seemed to me that they had burst up from the infernal regions of ancient myth. We were without lights. Through and above the clouds of fire they darted unceasingly. evidently much loved. and slowly sink away. chickens killed. grandeur even in its utter helplessness. surrounded me and begged me not to do it: it was an officer's horse.

I suppose too many women relatives made it impossible for him to keep his promise. But Helmuth was noticeably weakening. I knew that sixty of them. I decided to proceed at once but did not like to take the responsibility of leading my friends into danger. which seemed to me not altogether unlikely. At last I found a grizzled old fellow who was planning to remove his family southward. I went in to put the alternatives before them. The proGerman Prince Paul government had left only seven fighter planes there. We wasted two hours waiting for him. He agreed to make room for us and to come to fetch us. There were a large number of Montenegrins in the Flying Corps. "German tanks have already crossed the frontier and are nearing Belgrade. HELMUTH! TOWARDS DAWN it became impossible to sleep even by snatches. had formed a suicide squadron and had sworn to try to ram the enemy planes. I ran out and around the village to see if I could get some sort of farm cart. Little. I couldn't stand watching it. As for my two German heroes. For at last when I went to find him he had gone. For now an anti-aircraft battery. each confirming the other's eager reasoning and prophecies of doom. the Belgrade airfield. But which way? People began running in with the strangest rumors. It was time therefore to move. He and Helmuth got me into a corner of the garden and acted a kind of Greek tragedy of desperate strophe and antistrophe. hastily brought back from the south.The Serbs Chose War. . looking very fresh and bright. under the command of a Croat. and there I saw a charming scene. the while they placidly discussed the weather! They listened to all my arguments pro and con. It wasn't until much later that I heard what had happened at Zemun. knowing how inferior were their planes and guns. was placed in the shelter of a little grove of trees not fifty yards behind the cottage. to urge upon me that if I tried to proceed I should certainly be caught between the two lines of converging Germans. obsolete Yugoslav fighting planes had now arrived to engage the great bombers. Soon the German planes would be attracted to our village. the purpose being to persuade me to return to Belgrade. since Germany held the whole Bulgarian and Rumanian sections of the river leading to the Black Sea." Too absurd for contradiction." "German parachute troops have landed all along the railway line to the south." Igon seized upon this last. We decided to walk round the city toward the southwest in order to reach the railway at some miles down the line where it might still be working. seeking out the battery. though I noticed that Helmuth stood like a stone. Ruth Mitchell 24. they stood by themselves so that I shouldn't see how delighted they were. both little dogs beside her. was sitting on the bed. GOOD-BY. Her daughter was arranging her mother's white curls as elaborately as she had every morning for years. of course. slow. and without a moment's hesitation decided to come with me. "The British are sending a whole fleet of river boats up the Danube to defend Belgrade. The older lady.

Major Romel Adum. At seven-thirtv on April 6, when the German bombers arrived, the major ordered the seven Serb fighters to remain grounded, saying it was hopeless. Captain Todor Gogich and the six other Serb officers thereupon informed him that he was relieved of his command, and immediately took the air. They were all killed except Gogich himself, who was badly wounded, but not before they had brought down a number of German planes. As Belgrade had been declared "open," they were careful to fight only in the environs. Major Adum immediately left for Zagreb and is now in the Croat Air Force fighting Russia. Yanko and the three other men decided to return at once to Belgrade. I knew he had a job to do: this time I asked no questions. With daylight the bombing had reached a new intensity. But, believe it or not, Yanko now began frantically to hunt for his flag! Just to be on the safe side, we had placed it as a perch in the chicken house. When he looked even there, the hens were peacefully roosting on it and he didn't find it. A warm grasp of the hand and the dear fellow left. Later, when I was in Belgrade prison, I heard by grapevine telegraph that he was at his old job, quite unsuspected by the Germans. I somehow have the conviction that Yanko and I shall meet again, and will there be a celebration! Bidding Michael and Sultana an affectionate farewell, the five of us now took a small supply of food and set out, the two Germans again carrying my bag, while the two ladies had only a little dog each. I arranged with them to engage Igon in conversation while I went ahead with Helmuth. I could see that the frightful treatment of Belgrade, an open, undefended city, had lowered his morale. Whatever his reasons for working for the Germans, his belief in the superiority of their honor and ideals had received a fearful jolt. He was a Jew, and I knew what must inevitably be his fate. I sincerely liked him. He had been misled by his deep love for Igon. But, after all, the latter belonged to a people who had treated his race more bestially than any race has been treated in recorded history. I begged him to come with me, to throw in his lot with the fellow victims of his race: if he had to die, let it be in a great cause, the cause of justice and freedom. I talked to him almost all day. To take him with me would be a serious risk for me, of course, but he spoke perfect Serbian, and my Chetnik pass, I was pretty sure, would enable me to get him through to where he too could join the fighters. We walked about twenty kilometers (about twelve miles) over the roughest going, often having to throw ourselves down as the planes crossed low, machine-gunning anything that moved. Mrs. C.'s bedroom slippers began to lose their soles, and she grew terribly tired. But she uttered not a word of complaint, and I could hardly persuade her to let me carry her little dog. At last we reached the Avala road. Just before it we saw a whole line of bomb holes exactly following the line of the road and about a hundred yards from it: German bombsights had fortunately gone wrong. Just where we reached the road we were delighted to see a row of four busses standing. They were waiting to evacuate children from the city and were stacked high with mattresses. We were told that if there was room after the children had been loaded we could ride too. We waited. Night was falling, and again the sullen glow from the burning city threw its ghastly reflection round us. The children began arriving in all sorts of conveyances: some in cars, their roofs torn off or hanging loose, their mudguards crushed as they had been dragged out of the wreckage; some in farm carts, in prams, on old men's backs. Some were well dressed; many were in rags. None were with relatives; they

had just been picked up by passers-by. They were absolutely silent, some dazed and dizzy, but most of them self-contained and strangely businesslike as they were jammed into the busses. The bigger ones took the tinies on their laps as a matter of course and cradled the little strange, sleepy heads in their arms. There must have been two hundred children and no more noise than in a doll shop at night! Now the busses were full, and as no more children seemed to be coming, we three women were allowed to squeeze ourselves into a corner. Meanwhile Igon had taken Helmuth for a walk down the road. When they returned I saw by Helmuth's face that all my work had been undone. I made a last try. "Come with me, Helmuth, come-we will fight together for liberty and justice." He took my hand and held it a moment in both of his, but did not raise his eyes to mine. "I must die," he said, "in any case. I will go back. I truly loved you." Igon said not one word as they turned and disappeared into the flickering night. Helmuth was almost immediately caught by the Serbs and executed. Certainly he was not denounced by me, as Igon later is said to have declared. Igon himself was guilty of his friend's death.

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

Now BEGAN A MOST EERIE RIDE, unreal as a nightmare. The busses, of course completely unlighted, tore madly through the night. Bomb holes ahead? No one seemed to give it a thought: the children must be taken as far and as quickly as possible away from the horror. Soon we discovered that our chauffeur had himself that morning lost his wife and three small babies in the bombardment. Imagine the bitterness in his heart to be saving only other people's children! Huge-eyed, stiff in their seats, the children seemed concerned only with protecting the sleeping tidies in their laps from the bumps. They showed no sign of either fear or excitement. Rain had begun to fall heavily. And now in the starless, stormy night we began to pass dim, black silhouettes, an endless column of troops on the march; artillery, wagons piled high with munitions and hay; cavalry, the men humped in their saddles against the rain. They were moving up toward Belgradebut too late, too late. Now and then a Chetnik, belt heavy with bunches of hand grenades, coolly intent upon his business, would jump on the step of the bus, ride a few miles, and be gone again. They noted my uniform but made no sign. At last we arrived in Mladenovats and alighted in the midst of a huge crowd of refugees. It was now pouring very heavily. The children were quickly led away. How often afterwards I thought of the rows of small white faces with their huge black eyes and wondered what had become of them! We had stopped near the railroad station in a crowd packed almost solid. Every hour or so a train would come in and the whole mass of us would sway forward in a desperate scramble, so solid that if one had fallen there would be no chance of getting up. Yet that vast crowd, too, was absolutely silent. We three held on tightly to each other, the little dogs well hidden. At last we arrived on the platform. It was now about two o'clock in the morning, and my friends could hardly stand with exhaustion. I managed to shove them on top of someone's bundles under an overhanging roof and seated myself on the steps just outside, almost on their feet. The trains had stopped coming. There we stayed until dawn, I in the happy position of having not only the pelting rain but also the heavy gush from the roof going down the back of my neck. Towards six o'clock the rain let up, then stopped. In the gray and ghostly light of a somber dawn we saw each other clearly for the first time: women still in their nightclothes as they had jumped from bed the morning before; hair still in curlers or in straggling wisps; no make-up; all tired, harassed, and halfdrowned. Thus stripped of artifice, we looked at each other-and burst into roars of laughter! After that it was haute mode to look like nothing ever seen before, and no one lifted a hand to beautify. As our railway line appeared to have stopped operating, the station master urged us to cross the fields toward a near-by branch line where trains were running. But in the growing light I had seen a row of boxcars drawn up on a siding. And now, as I watched, the doors opened and strings of horses were unloaded. Would not these horse vans have to return south? Sure

to kill men whose deepest wish too. at risk of missing my place. perhaps. An enticing fragrance stole upon the breeze.. I have lost my mother in the crowd. at once so blessed and so bitterly cursed. Suddenly a voice in my ear: "Ha. Please hold this while I try to find her. It made countless stops.enough: hardly had the horses been unloaded when a little engine came puffing up. Again it was almost a shock to see no demonstrations of despair or even great regret. Two men jumped in. greedy eyes. and no food except what newcomers brought with them. wiped from this fruitful earth. here you are. oh joy. it was slippery. . sometimes chatting and sometimes dozing when the bumps of the springless truck allowed. Soon they would be frantically herding their children up into the mountains." Like an endless exquisite ribbon the sweet spring scenery moved slowly by. The door of one van had jammed. He thrust into my hands a large parcel loosely wrapped in newspaper. from Belgrade. but the van became so jammed that. to ride awhile and share with us their food and their news: only the wildest rumors. soon the snug. that little town one day to be famous as the birthplace of Draja Mihailovich. of course. no terror of the future. always with the one refrain: "The British are coming-America will send help. for with it I succeeded in prying the doors apart. V. so burning hot that soon I could hardly hold it. Then I blessed the heavy dagger I wore. northern valleys. Just as the train began to move I hoisted my friends in and clambered after them. We might have been across the world from the rage and agony of war. both elderly. There was nothing to buy. burned. The little white curly dogs hopped merrily about for a while and then snuggled down. Again we descended into the solidly packed crowd of refugees. How lovely. oh miracle-a freshly roasted suckling pig! A train came in. All the young ones had gone to kill. Hour after peaceful hour we lay. and these were old. I decided to scout around." I turned and saw the fat and usually urbane but now very worried face of a journalist friend. Those nearest me began to sniff excitedly. The crowd from the fields and more crowds from the town made a mad dash to fill them. Boiling grease began to trickle down my fingers. Quickly I signaled to my friends to return. I ran along the line and found better luck than I could have hoped for. Never on that journey of many days did I see anyone open a package of food and eat alone: everything was shared. This we piled under and over us. Just patient grimness. they crowded closer till I was hemmed in by a tight ring of eager noses. pleasant villages among their groves of fruit trees would be gone-scattered. Few men were to be seen. Between the delicate gold-green shimmer of new herbage the patient oxen turned the deep brown soil as they had done these thousand years. defeated-no mother! We ran for the train. and it was hot. In their bright headshawls the women plodded stoically behind the oxen. but some in the corners was dry and sweet. We three were first in. and watering mouths. was to return again to their plows in other. We had a whole van entirely to ourselves. fought his way back to me. content. and promptly the little pig fulfilled its glorious destiny by vanishing into twenty famished mouths. The train moved so slowly we could almost have run beside it. It was heavy. V. room was made for us in a freight car. In the twilight we arrived at Chachak. of course. how dreamlike was that day-long journey! Most of the straw was wet. That delicious odor was unmistakable: I was holding.

a sheep's head. with a rush of fresh air. The air in the packed freight car became unendurably foul. found his mother in the same car with us. and in the gray. . and onions. They had escaped the fate of so many other families: to be separated in the crush of uprooted humanity. perhaps forever. Snow was falling heavily. muttered anxiously about his mother-until at last. wan light V. Just when I thought we must all surely faint.mostly the peasants' usual fare of whole-meal bread. Endless were those creeping night hours. while V. perhaps for years. We were in Ujitse. There was no room to lie down. more people would pile in on top of us until we seemed to be three deep. when again we stopped and the doors were opened. cheese. with sometimes a piece of fat sausage or that ghastly delicacy. we saw that dawn had come. We all piled out. the train would stop with a crash and. and the doors were tightly closed. where she had been all night. As we slowly chugged our bumpy way up into the mountains it became very cold.

I almost forgot the food when lunching with Mr. it had taken him sixty-five days to reach Yugoslavia via South Africa from London. Mr. Murphy decided to proceed on foot but had walked barely a mile when he was arrested and marched to a village police station. Ujitse was famous for the quality of its plum brandy and for its delicate jerked. Among the refugees who had arrived was young King Peter II.The Serbs Chose War. But our brave airmen will pursue him and find him. Rutherford. and of Count Stenbock. He managed to get in. I remember that luncheon gratefully. . Mr. To our surprise we found the one street of the town crowded with handsome cars. The trains stopped too. red-headed. So he was put into the front rank and thus marched into Belgrade. Not knowing a word of the language. There his train stopped. chose a nice bottle of wine and. Robert T. like that of my friend Mrs. SOME TO FLIGHT AND SOME TO FIGHT UJITSE is a little sleepy upland town. Murphy. his ministers. who threatened to shoot him on the spot as a fifth columnist. he found it deserted. he had to convince the excited gendarme. Mr. He arrived within ten miles of Belgrade on Sunday morning in the midst of the bombardment. C. with his court. for almost two weeks now the ruler of Yugoslavia. At last an interpreter was dug up. who afterwards behaved with thoughtful circumspection when in prison with me in Belgrade. that he was an English diplomat lost in the wilds. snatched what sleep he could between bombs. to proceed no farther. Suddenly the news came that the German radio had sent out a broadcast to this effect: "The so-called King of Yugoslavia has cravenly fled.. using a sofa in the drawing room." Within half an hour the town was completely deserted by all its birds of passage. and he was told: "All right. for the funny tale this tall. Arrived that night at the Legation. and most of the foreign diplomats from Belgrade. Although I was ravenous. went down into the cellar. Because of its spreading orchards and the fine grass of neighboring valleys. Ruth Mitchell 26. There many Belgrade families. even if he is hiding in Ujitse. the British consul general. Next morning he found someone to take him south and soon caught up with the retiring legation staff. dried mutton. as it was the last time for many months that I laughed really heartily. Now what? He was accompanied by a King's Messenger. had summer homes. Just then troops were passing on their hurried march to regarrison the city. Every car was gone. you can go!" Wisely Mr. The few small inns were packed. humorous Irishman had to unfold. of the British Legation. Was he a secretary of the British Legation at Belgrade-or was he? Following his appointment. with sawmills surrounded by gigantic stacks of golden boards cut from logs felled in the near-by mountain forests. I met many acquaintances and was able to replenish my finances by the kindness of the popular and efficient American consul general. Macattee. Murphy refused to go further without a police escort.

B. General Billy Mitchell. with the possible exception of England. After many generations they had come to feel themselves heart and soul as Serbs. came up to me and asked what they should do. they were loved and respected by their fellow countrymen. lady friends. with beautifully dressed gentlemen. pay their salaries. There. I came to the conclusion that it was hopeless to try to find out what had become of their unit. This was the fine flower of Western culture as it blossomed in Yugoslavia. Few in number. Unhappily. These orchidaceous people were the heads of certain government departments and banking houses of Belgrade with their ladies. just beyond clean sheets of glass. Mrs. It consisted of great Pullmans such as I had almost forgotten existed. Mrs.. of course. who in the general mix-up had become separated from their unit. For their part they felt themselves dedicated and eager to go wherever they could be most useful. Next morning my dear friends. C. I could certainly have ridden or walked across the mountains to Vukosava in the Sanjak and I would now be with General Mihailovich. C. They were filled. I knew the Germans robbed not only the living but also the dead. an emerald which my brother.. A train came in. and they turned to me apparently as a matter of course to take charge of them. . sisters. but only sparsely so. who represent the real heart and meaning of the country and who. took for safekeeping certain notebooks of mine and all my portable valuables. Many times afterwards I wished that I had done so. At seven that morning the two nurses and I were waiting on the station platform. since there would certainly be great need for their services in Montenegro. they should not be richer by even a little circlet of gold. capable and handsome girls were representative of a particularly fine type of Jew to be found in the Balkans.Two young Red Cross nurses. and secretaries. Attached to this train in Ujitse station I saw something that might interest a Chicago gangster: two ordinary wooden freight cars containing the state treasure of Yugoslavia and all the cash assets of its banks. These calm. As the trains had stopped I was forced to spend the night there. Their father and brother were both Chetniks away on active duty. much less try to follow it. There were no gunslits or armed guards. many foreign-educated Serbs in government office exhibit an attitude of snobbish superiority toward the selyaks. the peasants. they were enjoying a luxurious breakfast in the society of their alluringly dressed and carefully made-up wives. the Misses M. some noticeably of military age. The cars were "sealed" with two small lead seals and fastened with two little pieces of string. They gazed out with palpable disgust upon us lesser rabble. had given me years before with certain unforgettable words of affection and which I had never taken off since. descendants of those Jews who had been hounded out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. and her mother. not even my favorite ring. departed for their country house after earnestly entreating me to come with them. I signaled that I wished to board the train but was curtly given to understand that it could not be opened. and thus there had come about here a spiritual fusion of races such as I personally have not observed elsewhere. I decided to take them with me. I kept no jewelry. If a bullet should find me.

for they express a history tragic surely beyond any on the earth. Even each district has a style of its own. One could not help but admire their simple. no woman for security of love and home. a little bag of sticky gumdrops. And all the time almost without interruption for sixteen hours these grim yet gentle Serbian giants sang. They were Montenegrin Serbs and huge: great shaggy. Surprisingly there was no machine-gunning. perhaps. with their wildly tumbling streams. in every attitude of relaxation. silent or in quiet talk or song. Wood was piled in until the stove glowed red-hot. my next objective. and by noon the attacks had ceased. All day men stood in a row leaning on the iron bars across the wide-open doors. I may be wrong. and each insisted we must share his meager rations. Here. One even produced that unbelievable treasure. life had been once long ago. FOREVER UNDEFEATED ANOTHER TRAIN came in en route to Sarajevo. but it seemed to me this was notably different from the criticism and disappointed howls of other countries. but they evaded all talk about it. and we had to look at the snapshots of his two charming children. fierce-looking fellows who reminded one of Newfoundland dogs. and they took it for granted others too were doing their best. all amusingly framed by widespread military legs. So I could only catch exquisite glimpses of snow peaks soaring above deep rugged canyons. They themselves would fight. His name was Sergeant Barbovich. For century after endless century in the crushing vassalage and bloodshed of the Balkans no man could hope for man's just stature or for liberty. and hour after hour they talked of his family and hers. except the Montenegrin songs which are curiously monotonous.The Serbs Chose War. the dark-browed giants lay. As we rose ever higher into the wild. I tried to find out what they expected of help from the Allies. almost enough to go once around. It was made up of cattle trucks and was filled with ground crews of the Yugoslav Air Force retiring to new bases. coatless. Each of the Balkan peoples has its special songs. They bounced and pushed one another about to make room for us. even generous. Many times we had to jump out and throw ourselves into the snowy fields to avoid the bombs German planes tried to drop on us. snowcovered mountains. The sergeant in command of them sat beside the younger of my pretty girls. They could only dream and sing of how. have in common the haunting sweetness of falling minor cadences. They are moving beyond any other music I have ever heard. or of how in a future Golden Age the ever-present threat of death and degradation might someday pass away. . they would do their best. There was a stove in the middle of the car with wood piled beside it. as ever. I felt very much at home with these tough fellows. The big middle doors were open upon a slowly passing panorama of magnificent scenery. Ruth Mitchell 27. And round it. there was no word of complaint against others. really brotherly attitude. All. In agreeable contrast to the sour Pullman escapists they cordially beckoned to us to join them and quickly piled up duffel bags to make comfortable seats for us. it became very cold.

These people had gone into war well knowing there was hope of nothing but defeat. And. They were absorbed in one thought. Snow was falling heavily. some kind of demonstration. which is a nation's soul. hunting for the station. as if this were only what one must expect. On the contrary many were smiling-bitterly. and it was piercingly cold. the stark and tangible reality of battles won and lost. Sarajevo of sinister memory. Dawn-and a desperate hunt for food. I managed to get three cups of coffee from the restaurant. Their standards are as alive to them as their commanders. and everyone nodded calmly. The people on the platform were mostly Serbs. This time they were mostly Serbian women and children with many bundles. nothing is quite lost. But not one back slumped. moved in upon us. In a dark corner before a deserted ticket window I was lucky enough to find a precarious berth on one of those high small tables on which people rest their bags while paying fares. without either self-pity or bravado. and three times the station staff raucously ordered everyone to leave. The soldiers were certainly Serbs. It was here that the shot was fired that started World War I. just one: the saving of their honor. Once I groped my way under a narrow bridge across the foaming. They were superior to it-superior both to victory and to defeat. But their bitter history had inured them to every conceivable loss. those wounded men marched down the platform to entrain. The flags saved. are no longer carried into battle by modern armies: in these realistic. in elaborate "close harmony. whatever human life must stay behind forever on the field.Steadily. Most of them had rags bound round arms or legs. Three times that night planes hummed above the low-hung clouds. . dozed fitfully. That wild night was the most miserable of the whole journey. But the third time I refused to move out of the station and. For suddenly complete stillness fell upon the milling crowd. But I did not remain undisturbed for long. While we were sipping it thankfully. Not so with the Serbs. Flags. rational days they are put for safekeeping somewhere far behind the lines. Slowly down the platform there marched. while below me a tall Albanian slept peacefully throughout the uproar. There was nothing of the sort. for almost sixteen hours." They were still singing at eleven o'clock that night when we arrived in the capital of Bosnia. slowly but steadily. The men were offered cigarettes by those who still had them. We plunged into a dense crowd of refugees. They had evidently felt this Moslem ground trembling under them and were going to relatives in what they considered safer regions. the flags must come out again. punctured by bullets and in ribbons. salutes. They marched. and some had bloody bandages over one eve. or rather hobbled. And before them went their ragged flags. I expected cheers. my knees under my chin. the war. Or were they defeated? Every man was wounded. The flags go into battle. not one head hung down. one hears. these Montenegrins of the Yugoslav Flying Corps sang their ancient songs. snow-caked Neretva River. And quietly. Sadly we bade our soldier friends farewell. a company of soldiers back from the front: a defeated battalion-all that was left of it. Certainly these two standards had been in the thick of it: they were torn by shellfire.

feeling I must find some word to say. and as unconquerable. and the Sanjak-as there had been these more than thousand years. still our deep. but for Serbia. the old crone shook her head: "He has just heard that his only son is dead. the well organized treachery I had feared. or even years. transfixed at what this shattering grief portended -then ran to find the woman attendant. Gently. . Herzegovina. Six days. There were still our wild Black Mountains. implacably resistant as ever in those long and desperate years. Let what must happen to the Army. not in a matter of days or months. there were still my Chetniks. If the Serbian Army was already hopelessly going down." Again I stood beside him.But if they acted with stoicism these hot-blooded southern people were not without feeling. half lying on a table. His grief could be not alone for his lost son. his head buried in his arms. I stood a moment. Then it came to me with agonizing certainty: this pain too deep even for a long vista of sonless years. with an ancient patience. lost-too soon. On the contrary their emotions were so strong as sometimes to overcome their iron reserve. almost virgin forests of Bosnia. And indigenous as the soil. In a dark and dirty washroom where I had gone for much-needed water. "Planino moja starino. his broad shoulders heaving in an agony of silent sobs. a colonel of artillery. I saw. Well-that was the Army. only six days of war. it could be only because of treachery." still Montenegro. we could not be completely beaten.

like me. We went out although we had no guns. and panting slightly. Then. His matted hair. scarlet for blood. so fraught with evil omen. curved in a particular manner. there occurred one of those incidents which. He stood a moment looking round into our anxious faces. Ruth Mitchell 28. The train stopped incessantly. when his news was exhausted." They returned the pressure and tried to smile. the youth of Scutari had believed that by some magic. "Berlin. He stood with heavy shoulders slightly stooped. . descended upon us. The car was not crowded. just as it pulled out. "The British are marching up through Macedonia in great force" . reserves who were still trying to rejoin their units. the voices dropped to muttered whispers. Now the pace of events began ominously to quicken. because of its pictorial effect and because of its infinitely tragic meaning. The eyes of my two girls grew larger. KNIVES AGAINST TANKS TRAIN FOR MOSTAR. as if to them I represented in my person the whole power of the Allied arms. I squeezed the girl's hands. "Bulgaria is defeated. with a single word or a twist of my ring. yet curiously low. rounder. as go the men who are forever scaling mountains. and we were the only women. At last there were only hunted flashes of dark eyes. of whose whereabouts they had only the vaguest idea. like a visible cloud. . We had knives-most of us-only knives. . he began: "We went out. On his head the little Montenegrin cap. that for once no one jumped up: we sat like stone and watched his every movement and expression. This is only what we must expect. One look at his broad black eyebrows. A man-or was it a specter ?-stood in the center of the car. they kept lifting them to me with a heartbreaking appeal. I could call up the whole British Fleet. Instantly everyone sprang up and surrounded the newcomer to listen eagerly to anything he had to tell. you have not been called." etc. even those who were not called.The Serbs Chose War. Budapest. . Then silence. Suddenly. blue-black. his clothes hung in tatters. the baggage car. So almost exactly two years earlier. don't get worried. MY two nurses and I climbed into the last car. The apparition was so startling. Sofia have been laid flat. etched itself as with burning acid on my memory. this is only the beginning. Let the Army fight! You . and his shoeless feet were wrapped in bloody rags. hung low into his haggard eyes that glowed with a sort of tigerish light. to jump up again to greet the next arrival. Gaunt as a scarecrow. But as day drew on and we got deeper into Bosnia. Early in the morning the tales were all inspiring and the voices loud. Our sisters said: 'Stay. . repeating: "Wait. At almost every halt at least one man would jump aboard. and at his eagle nose proved him a pure-blooded Serb of the Black Mountains. In a strained voice. Disconcerted gloom. during the Italian occupation of Albania. he too would collapse. in this murk of doubt and fear. He was so tall he seemed to reach the low roof. . burning like Belgrade" . as if speaking more to himself than to us. which is black for mourning. and gold for undying hope and loyalty. There were groups of men dozing in the corners. Always the same sort of rumors: "Fleets of Allied planes have arrived to the rescue" .

'go out now and fight. "I cannot say to my mother. 'as your fathers fought -to keep Tserna Gora free.have no gun. to fight the Bulgarians" (he must have gone about a hundred miles southeast toward the Bulgarian frontier). . And what use-what use are knives against tanks? "What use are knives against tanks?" he repeated and. now. And with a tigerishly liquid movement he sprang forward into the train and was gone. 'What use are knives against tanks?'-she will not listen. desperately strained. they will gaze upon a deathly still. for their mothers would have shut the doors in their faces. Go out. Yet they will fight on-be sure they will fight on and on-and on and on. For murderers. depopulated land." (Only those who know the extraordinarily close bond between brother and sister in these lands can realize what that plea of a sister meant. When they descend again into the once busy.never! What use are knives against tanks?" he demanded eerily again. We have raised you to fight." he cried. that Allied co-operation had failed. "So now. and ran again southward. that any hope of help from British troops in the south was definitely gone. Those officers were good men."' He actually said those words. 'Stay here!' They hung upon our necks-some of them-and tried to hold us. No-there were only big iron monsters-tanks in long rows coming down upon us.' our mothers said. He paused and drew a deep breath: "We ran with our knives. of clothes. we didn't exist for him-but from some spirit guide. The officers on horseback took the shoes from their own feet and gave them to us. if he is still alive. as I write. I knew he spoke the truth. she will never listen. or thought I knew. Through the walls of their desolate dwellings green grass and wild weeds will be growing. seemed to wait.) "But our mothers-they rose up and they said: 'We have borne you below our hearts. we have suckled you at our breasts. of food. They had shot away all their bullets-every one. Fight. and the pestilence that creeps upon starvation will have been there before them: not one soul left in their humble homes.until Serbia is free again. They are fighting now. So now Serbia was completely cut off from the rest of the world. thousands like him are now. for an answer-not from us. Our sandals were gone and our feet were bleeding with running. 'death is better than slavery. and return as victors-return as victors-or never return again. at this moment." A pause and his eyes glittered feverishly.' they said.' they said. as your fathers before you fought. his voice rising.' our mothers said. prosperous valleys. and fight.and they did not know what to do. or until they all are dead. for Montenegro. fighting under General Mihailovich. would not have recognized them any longer as their sons-as did actually happen in a few cases. But if the tanks were already there. Now I knew. "But there were no Bulgarians. Death. They could not return home defeated.' They said: 'Go out. I calculated that this man must have gone halfway across Macedonia. And remembering those proud and stern old Serbian women of the Black Mountain Kingdom. But when they return at last to the homes they have suffered such indescribable hardships to free. they will find only little piles of blackened rubble. We jumped on trucks. and hundreds. robbers. slightly thinner. of medical supplies. "We came up with our army. That man. There were no more bullets-none. But we Tsernagorci ran on to fight the Bulgarians. with an inconceivable minimum of equipment. "What use-are knives-against tanks?-A gun! A gun! A gun!" he cried desperately. of shelter. then the Germans had succeeded in their attempt to drive a wedge between Serbia and Greece.

the mayor of the town. and himself as king." they chuckled contemptuously. The Croats in the car had managed to secure some bottles. The men in our car crowded to the windows and replied sharply. beaten." they yelled. the war is over. with a large document in his hand. We three sat still. this time in the middle of a small town. TREASON AND AMBUSH OTHER TRAINS began to meet and pass us with all sorts of war material. The blankety-blank Serbs are beaten. Then the Italians took over. of careless. the war is over. some evidently drunk. But quickly it became certain: those soldiers were Croatians-they were going home. After this had happened three times and the passing trains were crowded with these obvious deserters. The Croats remained standing. then groups. We are going home!" There were a number of Croats in our car. thinking they could hardly be awake. Sneers and raucous laughter answered and rude motions were made. exchanged muttered words. They began to look really ugly. I noted gratefully that in settling down again in sullen silence some of the Serbs got in front of us. and our position was now becoming really serious. the English. At first I couldn't understand. The Germans have won-hurrah. but I thought it best to sit quietly as if unconcerned. and I heard the dumfounding news that Ante Pavelich. the atmosphere in our car became electrical. triumphantly. Wild cheers broke out. triumphant looks. simple men. Just as we stopped. I regretted that I had put my bulky automatic in my bag. My girls seemed hardly to breathe. we are going home. Go home. They gave each other sly. Ruth Mitchell 29. beaten. the well-known Croatian thug and international intriguer who had been paid by Mussolini to arrange the murder of King Alexander-that Ante Pavelich had proclaimed Croatia an Independent Kingdom. Great chatter now ensued. laughing. The statement was repeated to me several times. hurrah! Croatia is free. amazed. Their chests began to swell. not guessing then the chaos of misery and horror that wretched sadist was to bring upon his land. They turned and regarded us with bold impertinence. skylarking. staring at me. you something-something Serbs. and they came pelting back. "Go home. disheveled soldiers. couldn't believe. an ally of the Axis. but everyone else jumped out of our car and ran over to listen. The Serbs began to mutter and look ugly too. With a crash we stopped again. . The prefecture or town hall directly opposite and all the surrounding houses were gaily decorated with flags: but they were Yugoslav flags turned upside-down to become Croatian flags. "you Serbs. As we passed at snail's pace they cried out to us tauntingly. waving their arms. Pavelich king? I wanted to shout with laughter. The Serbs came from the windows and sat down. And then one to which there clung first one or two.The Serbs Chose War. "Ha. stepped out onto the beflagged balcony and began to read a proclamation to a crowd below. Pavelich may or may not have actually proclaimed himself king: in any case he did not remain a king for more than a week at most.

We sat turned. General consternation-and people sprang pell-mell from the train. Those men will soon be drunk. and quickly we slipped into their places. An hour pass-it seemed a week. but fat and soft. I knew them both by sight from Cetinje. and your uniform infuriates them. I'll go forward now and try to push a place for you to stand until we stop. The strain made our throats dry. You can trust me. taken out my automatic and put it in my jacket pocket. Immediately on securing our seats I had undone my sleeping bag. The train stood as if taking root. but he was careful not to do so." It was the welldressed man speaking perfect English. tall and healthy-looking. Our friend took it and. sometimes farther off. and said there was no knowing what was happening. "We are near Mostar. sat down very quietly. and gently edged toward the forward door. Now a soldier with rifle and fixed bayonet went through the car. more scattered and prolonged. however. Instantly he said he would try to get us some water. The sun had set and the firing seemed to be dying down. sometimes nearer. as it were. One was a lawyer. One of the men had an empty bottle. I told the girls. Another volley of firing. Almost at once he was back. Our friend was in the corridor of the next car. How I regret that thirst now! It cost the life of a kindly friend in need. and many people will get out. Again and again the rat-tat-tat of machine guns. They looked scared to death. he had given me anxious glances and nodded slightly as if to indicate he was a friend. into ears. bawling that no one must leave the train. But by whom? Which way was it going? Our lives might depend on the answer. We got thirstier and thirstier. When we try to protect you and your girls there will be bloodshed. Now I heard a whisper beside me: "You can't stay here. Just as the train stopped there was a heavy volley of firing near the station. and so were my girls. Quietly we got up. It was obvious the town was being fought for. As the train slowed up they grabbed their bags and came out. I mentioned it to our friend.Early in the day I had noticed a well-dressed man at the other end of the car. I had expected he would come and speak to me. . By firmly pushing people aside he got us through to the door of a first-class compartment in which three people were preparing to leave. I was terribly thirsty. Burst after burst of machine-gun firing. stooped to take our bundles. the other a businessman. Still the train stood. Our friend said he would try to find out what was going on and left us. Follow me almost immediately!" He was gone. But perhaps-such is the beastliness of war-perhaps it was just as well. Two men slipped breathlessly into the compartment and sat down. Several times. in spite of my protests. went out. I noticed he spoke to no one. "What had we better do?" I whispered. They were Montenegrin gentlemen of about thirty.

I spoke sharply and the bags went back on the racks. Skoplye. However. We had now been there more than two hours. but I fear the weight of evidence is against him. they both departed. undecided look. But one man actually tried with shaking fingers to draw the thin silk curtains to hide us-in a completely unlighted train! Two more men had softly insinuated themselves into our compartment. the half-Mohammedan old capital of Macedonia. All now began silently to pray and to cross themselves. There were sporadic explosions of firing in the town." he said. It was. It was completely dark. "Listen. was the chief Serbian air base. and when the one who came in saw me he hesitated as if taken aback and gave me a somber. "this train is likely to be attacked by the Croats towards the border of Herzegovina. and the Greek borders. It had drawn. If something was going to happen I was at least going to see what it was and where we were. Our two fine gentlemen now began feverishly to pull down their bags to pile them in the window. Suddenly there was heavy trampling in the corridor as a line of soldiers took their places. of course. sitting grandly on both banks of the beautiful Vardar River and almost equidistant from the Bulgarian. completely smashed and blasted. But this was too much. Then he took our dead friend's briefcase and. but I left the girls free to do as they liked. no lights in the car. One came in and asked which was the man's luggage-they seemed to know exactly in which compartment he had been. not less than ten thousand of them had been machine-gunned from the air. Do you wish to stay with us?" I said I for one had to go on. It was all bad-they were like that-but the worst for me was about Skoplye. after squeezing our hands affectionately. we could hear the dull thud of grounded rifles. Who was our mysterious friend? The riddle can be answered in two ways. Suddenly there came a gentle tap-tap on the window. running.I watched him anxiously as he ran over the neighboring rails in the gathering darkness between two sheds just opposite. and we have orders to remain. They decided to stick with me. Two soldiers came and dragged away the body. There were. speaking very quickly. When firing starts lie down on the floor. he was not a coward. There was a volley and he fell. without speaking to his companion. A few minutes later he reappeared. not to move again. narrow streets. he faded into the night." he replied coolly. Soon two soldiers appeared in the corridor. the full weight of the German attack. "I advise you to pile your baggage in the window. And the thought that an enemy was killed trying to get me a drink of water-even if that was only an excuse-is not a pleasant one. the Albanian. and as the inhabitants fled from their crowded. more at ease. began to tell me what news they had heard. Good luck!" And. "Very well then. Still the train stood immovable. . Towards midnight we suddenly discovered that we were softly moving. I peered out. they said. Dimly a face in Flying Corps cap looked up-who but our sergeant friend of yesterday! I got the window down. There is a mutiny of Croats here. My two acquaintances. of course.

As we passed in darkness through the starlit night. Our soldiers. I felt ridiculously baffled and helpless. I know. who had deliberately planned and were now executing. When we fore gathered before they left for Skoplye. The ambushers dispersed. over the whole country and to organize and carry out these attacks.I thought of the lovely times I had had in Skoplye. its fine museums and its antique treasures -never again to be replaced. Most of them now were dead.P. They were certainly not members of the Ustashi. and hundreds were so shot. I acknowledge with gratitude. Serbs abroad felt bitterly ashamed at the quick collapse of Yugoslavia. many buried alive on the airfield. that the Ustashi were alone responsible for the horrors that broke out immediately in Yugoslavia is. Pavelich's force of terrorists consisted at the very outside of one thousand men when he arrived on April 7 in Croatia. It is absurd to suggest that in four days he had been able to spread his men. quite simply. since the truth is the only sound guide of action. So many. That many Croats. were revolted by the action of their countrymen. yelling raucous curses at the Croats. the northwest province of Yugoslavia. But most of all I thought of M. . trampled down the corridor. a falsehood. our soldiers jumped back into the train and it started up again. they had begged me to come with them to act as aerial observer. That I was twice indebted to Croats for acts of kindness if not the saving of my life. The principal reason why Yugoslavia collapsed so quickly is that every Serbian officer had momentarily to expect to be shot in the back by his Croatian soldiers. my bitterest tears fell slowly. since the town would surely be completely looted. wild despair at the pitiful uselessness of their own little obsolete planes against the crushing force of the huge German bombers. traitors to their oath of allegiance. my acquaintances whispered. and it is not discreditable-to the Serbs. Suddenly a sharp burst of firing. It is a sad fact that Yugoslavia. But facts are facts. for a grief I knew would never be assuaged. is the only one in which a large portion of her army with its regular officers turned traitor to their oaths and. of all the small nations of Europe. not passive. I was soon to hear that such attacks had taken place all over Yugoslavia. of the beauty of its mosques and minarets. Violent firing continued for ten or fifteen minutes. I could well imagine their frantic. unquenchably. and it is both unjust and dangerous to conceal them. I could watch the flashes of the guns as our Serbs hunted the traitors among the trees and shrubs along the riverbank. jumped out and down the embankment. going over to the enemy. Without question they were carefully planned beforehand and directed by Croat officers of the Yugoslav Army. I knew. even thinly. as Croat propagandists in America have said.-of all my friends. but active treachery upon their brother soldiers. almost all of them. The train jerked to a stop. But the explanation is clear. Pavelich's Italian-paid organization of thugs who had entered Croatia with him far to the north four days before. the airmen. These ambushers were members of the armed forces of the Yugoslav Crown. both educated and simple. To say. These attackers were Croat soldiers of the Yugoslav Army. realizing that with my wretched automatic I should be more in the way than useful out there. deliberately set out to kill those who remained loyal.

The detailed figures. his feet under the other. the behavior of our two foreigneducated. of mosques and graceful minarets. When I awoke it was bright day and we were amidst wild and savage scenery. The put-put-put of machine guns hammered while loud voices outside yelled that everyone was to get out or the train would be blown up. The foaming river. Then the train gradually slowed down to its old pace. like overripe stalks of wheat crushed by a storm. calm above man's fury. And each time. were offered their freedom to return home to their families. And over all there sailed. a delicate young moon. Firing and yells died away behind us. and 72 naval captains and officers. where he apparently had lain all the time in the dirt! Between the attacks. This time there was very heavy close firing along the whole train.000 Yugoslav prisoners of war taken into Germany. . This was Illyria. and to them honor. of gnarled old fig trees. Their faces blanched. They fell down flat. who had sworn to protect their king and country. but the fourth had disappeared. 68 captains.679 officers representing 95 per cent of the Croat officers in the Yugoslav Army. Could I get one) I reached the door. Tumbling. Three times in two hours our train was attacked by the traitors in the same way and with the same result. down the famous Neretva Valley. Of the 224. totally uninhabited. Of the 14.A total of I. were printed for a moment black against a sky thick-sown with glorious southern stars. now far. while the two girls sat immovable as little mushrooms. if they agreed to submit to Germany. 73 lieutenant colonels. Two soldiers ran into our compartment and. and just as I stepped heavily on our human earthworm. and mechanics. 4 admirals. struggled to pull the window down. The third man. He was discovered lying across the door of the compartment. remained quite stolid. A few minutes more of wondering if we should cross a mine and fly into the air. as given by the official gazette of the Independent State of Croatia. lying on top of me. unreal silhouettes of darkened villages. its rapids dancing as they caught the slowly rising glow of the moonlight. include II generals. This time I might get into action-there would be wounded men unable to use their rifles. his head under one seat. we were given the strange and beautiful experience of passing silently. It seemed as untouched by man as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains were before the trappers came. aviation specialists. Far in the background towered a long shoulder of snow-capped mountains. Letters have been published in Croat papers in which Croat officers of high rank with the most cynical brutality bragged that they had married Serbian girls of influential family with the single purpose of getting themselves into key positions for more effective treachery: so long and so well had the thing been planned.000 Serb officers who. also I. their breath stopped with fear. for they only had to announce that they were Croats to be released at once. Away it tore through the night.342 non-commissioned officers. soaring mountains were reflected in the wide lakes into which the Neretva spreads before it rushes out into the Adriatic. 52 colonels. a simple fellow. curved now near. I settled back and fell into a heavy sleep. from our course. in an unlit train. and most of them have been retaken and killed. proved traitors to their oath and went over to the enemy. a thick shower of sparks flying past the window. denatured Montenegrins was a sight to see. I dozed to wake with a violent start as the train stopped with a crash. Crashing of glass and deafening explosions followed as our men fired from the corridor. Soft. the train started up with a terrific jar. only 800 accepted. throwing us all across the compartment. less than 2 per cent were Croats.

Our soldiers were gone. The airfield of Mostar. This officer is now Master of Ceremonies at the Court of Ante Pavelich. whom he ordered to return home. the leader of the Independent State of Croatia. it appeared. At Gabela. they had returned to deal with the ambushers and to help crush the revolt in Mostar. it appeared. a Croat. Immediately the revolt started he ordered all Yugoslav insignia removed from the uniforms of the officers under his command. who keeps up a regal style! . was under the command of Colonel Yakov Makiedo. having received reinforcements.

he implored me to save him. He shook. Hearing I had arrived. that inspired great confidence. if still alive. . there was a quickness yet restraint of movement and decision. Schacht. and tall. he wept. I conferred with Colonel Barbich upon my best course of action. We arrived at Trebinye in the evening and managed to get a room in the crowded hotel. fat hands clutching mine. he cringed. For that good deed alone I could never have forgotten Colonel Barbich. hulking. even handsome fellow was for sheer unadulterated cowardice the worst specimen I have ever come across. was the outstanding figure I met during this journey. This great. near the Croatian-Dalmatian coast. he very kindly came to place himself at my disposal. brother of a teacher in the British Institute at Belgrade. he sobbed. He was satisfied but unfriendly. handsome. poison which he intended to plunge into his veins and die a "fearful" death rather than be taken alive. His straightforward frankness and the graceful courtesy of his manner to all alike was matched by the grim ferocity of his determination to meet and deal with a savage catastrophe. called Schacht. and into a little room where members of his staff were swallowing a hasty meal. I was ready to gnaw my boots. through the kitchen. combined with a careful concentration of thought in his small bright eyes. Barbich. Eagerly we ordered-of course. and send them to Mostar to try to subdue the revolt there. The Nazis were approaching. bacon and eggs. the fight will go on remorselessly. but not unusually so among his tall and handsome countrymen. whatever troops could be spared and trusted. a hero of his people. washed down with a large glass of wine. and his terror was ludicrous. a Herzegovinian surely by his typical long thin nose and narrow eyes. While the Serbs have ten men such as he. his damp. L. his self-pity rose to howls. He assured me he was a nephew and had long been secretary to the famous German Finance Minister. led us around to the back of the station. It was the first time it had been examined. BETWEEN THE ENEMY LINES TOWARDS EIGHT O'CLOCK we arrived at Hum. realizing our condition. He was a German. and he advised us toe go to Trebinye. and. He professed himself a well-known anti-Nazi. but not with him. or five. Next morning early a visitor was announced: Mr. and when I mentioned my hope of transport to Montenegro he became actively negative. or even him-save him! To gain my pity he actually showed me a hypodermic needle containing. Hardly had we ordered some food when the commandant of the town arrived personally to inspect my Chetnik pass. is certainly now in the Bosnian mountains with Mihailovich. Imagine our delight when the colonel in command came up to us and. it was this officer. If ever a man was marked out as likely to emerge a leader. a small railway junction. but with Swedish papers. He was exceedingly helpful. This Serb.. Slim. I said to him as I always do to these idiotic soi-disant suiciders who never have the guts to really bring it off (I have met not a few): "So you are going to kill yourself because you are afraid you might die!" Sometimes that cuts off their dramatics. His job now was to collect from all directions here in Herzegovina.The Serbs Chose War. I never discovered the cause of his hostility. Ruth Mitchell 30. At breakfast I was approached by one of the strangest figures I ever met.

After again failing to get a laisser-passer from the disgusting prefect. and when I found the officer in the street he frantically elbowed me aside and said he was speaking for both of us in demanding transportation. I would make for Herzegnovi. That night my two girls told me they had discovered that the hospital was full of wounded but had almost no nurses. The wretched Schacht followed me like a beaten spaniel. already in a very gloomy state. and to my surprise and annoyance found an old would-be admirer from Cetinje now installed as jackin-office. given defeat. There were no air alarms that golden afternoon. I told him in carefully explicit and concise terms what I thought of him and ordered him to keep away from me. I left him standing there pathetically wringing his hands and sniffling: "You don't understand. southward of Dubrovnik and between it and Montenegro. . Next morning they joined the staff of the hospital. I decided to try to leave without the permit. . Dubrovnik's fate was not so certain. I therefore felt forced to advise the girls to remain here. . People had been waiting since dawn. and I then wandered as if bored round the town. and at last arrived as if by chance near enough to the station to see if a train came in. All that day air alarms. you don't understand . And he assured me. it appeared. L. I now felt very uncertain of being able to get them through to Montenegro.I went to consult the commandant. Aware that I was probably being watched and that the removal of my bag might be reported. L. The commandant. as I did not wish even to be seen in the street with such a worm. Harcourt informed me that several Americans and British were gathered there . Italian reconnaissance planes kept sailing busily over the circle of mountains on which I had once counted twenty-two ancient and newer forts testifying to the restless history of the province. who are conspicuously superior to the Germans in their treatment of the Jews. and I planned how to outmaneuver the prefect. about the old Serbian heroes. Mr. None. about everything except the war. now no doubt well rusted. . He informed me that I would not be permitted to leave Trebinye without a written order from him. So we sat on the wall beside the murmuring river. a small town on the Boka Kotorska." I like to think of him as hiding till the end of the war in some mountain cave (these cowards never die!) and living on roots while fondly hugging his hypodermic. with many leers. Schacht at that moment came much nearer to death than he probably has since. then the line went dead. Here was a nice situation! I insisted upon telephoning to Dubrovnik (Ragusa) to the British consul. I sent it out of the back door by a half-witted boy to the station. So Mr. visiting the quaint old Moslem quarter. and any hope of his assistance was spoiled. and we parted in sorrow and anxiety. dangling our feet and talking about poetry. Trebinye would eventually fall to the share of the Italians. Mr. and though there has been much Chetnik activity and fighting round Trebinye I hope to see them when I return to Serbia. that I would certainly not get it unless I accepted his visit at the hotel. There I might conceivably get a sailboat to put me across onto the Montenegrin coast. was understandably furious. What I anticipated did occur. . and it seemed to me pretty sure that. had gone or come that morning. I went to see the (civil) prefect.

I had been saddened to see them bedeviled. Nothing is so hateful to me as this counterespionage game. I flattered his selfimportance with signals of camaraderie and kept him busy hopping out at every stop for something to eat or drink. A fellow silly enough to give himself away so easily was too stupid to worry about. We arrived at Herzegnovi in the afternoon. Fortunately many of these Dalmatian sailors chose honor before specious promises of profit and escaped to service in the Allied cause. as are most of the maritime men of Yugoslavia. Sure enough." I thought the first two items probably correct. "The Montenegrins are making splendid headway. for although Dalmatian (the Boka people too considered themselves distinct) it had not gone into Autonomous Croatia. I had lunched the day before in Trebinye with a noted Croat diplomat who happened to own a large hotel a few miles out of Herzegnovi. less than a year before. sliding out of the side of his mouth in the reputed style of ex-convicts. Opposite me. I spent the night on a mattress in the hallway of a friendly sergeant's house. obviously a Dalmatian. Rumors were thick: "The Montenegrin campaign in Albania has collapsed. He told me his family had gathered there and begged me to go and see them and if possible cheer them up. Serbia was to be practically cut off from the Adriatic. I pretended to prick up my ears and replied with equal caution. We were now going into Dalmatia. The Dalmatians are a particularly charming race. L. For the first time my Chetnik pass was challenged with aggressive unfriendliness by two gendarmes. and soon away. and I wondered what conflict of loyalties was now tearing his heart. The little picturesque town was in the jitters. hoping to draw me. He instantly stepped back and saluted. giving him a glare as fiercely Chetnik as I could produce. and his words. and so they proved to be. strained suspicion. He spoke not one word on the whole six-hour trip. and he was trying to find him.As darkness fell it seemed certain there would be no train until the following morning. I must wait for something more definite. But there had been the usual undermining and hate-rousing by the Croat politicians: Croatia must have all the harbors. and I again went to the station. and when the guard stopped me to demand my permit to leave I pulled out my Chetnik pass. a hopeless despair. His bearded face was the very mold of a puzzled. . "The Italians are already in Montenegro and are proceeding up the coast road to the Boka. The atmosphere now was entirely different-full of a furtive. . was trying to let me know that he "too" was an agent and a British one. were English. his head bandaged. A train was just coming in. At first I thought him just a nuisance. . In view of Germany's subterranean methods it is not surprising how many of these little would-be spies or meddlers there were creeping round Europe. my plans would have to be reconsidered and drastically changed. Next morning Mr. sat a wounded sailor of the Yugoslav Fleet. But soon his mysterious manner became more insistent. the fellow. The car had open benches without compartments. We were in the tram m passenger seats. Firmly I shouldered my way through the crowd. only in reverse order." . It had been slightly bombed. Both hotels being jammed. by the unnatural anti-Serb political and religious agitation worked up by the Croat politicians. and most shops were boarded up. A fat little nondescript man kept turning up beside me and muttering. Usually I won't play but merely study faces for report and identification later. . . they are pushing back the Italians victoriously and have reached Lesh [Alessio]. he had cordially and quite innocently offered to make room for me in the large bed which he occupied with his wife. He himself had heard that his only son was wounded." . which had recently thrown in its lot with Croatia. This was technically Montenegro and under Serb jurisdiction. If the first and third were true.

which way was it my business to go? Where could I do the most damage ? If the Yugoslav Army's resistance had ceased. I found a state of shuddering gloom and dread. the deep engulfing snows of winter. (It turned out that Italians and Germans were both coming up from the south and both down from the north. broke languidly beside our road. while he detailed to me in salty language his experiences of years in America. On one side beckoned England and America. If this was typical of her upper class. my choice had been made long ago. Greatest temptation of all. Hiding most days. the Italians must really be advancing up from the south.I set out with my bag on foot and was accosted by an ancient. the broiling suns of a Balkan summer." He was one of the Serb staff. Generals have flown to Germany to negotiate surrender. "The harbor commandant has received a telegram. on the run most nights. Will you go now? Tomorrow may be too late. murmurously calm. "Are you Ruth Mitchell?" "Yes:' "I am P. My last letter from him had reached me the previous February. A man ran in hurriedly and peered at me.) I was therefore quite certainly between two advancing enemy lines." I said I would think it over. howling wind and soaking rain. then-God help Croatia! That evening I went out into the garden to get a breath of good fresh air. he passes through the lines of the . three months before. my only son. of course. cheese. But. Having got it. when I became a Chetnik. the Adriatic. And on the other side. I thought of these things. he carrying my bag in sailor fashion on his shoulder. The lovely gardens we passed were just breaking into their first spring riot of subtropical flowers. where seaplanes and submarines are expected to come and get them out. The British and other nationals are gathering at Rizan [farther on. And at the end perhaps wounds or hanging (how the Germans love to hang!) or. You must flee at once. Cheerfully we chatted. what? To fight in the mountains with the tough fellows I liked so much and to suffer such hardships as Americans can hardly even envisage: cold rocks for a bed. The law of the Chetniks is that if one is caught behind the lines he stays there in hiding and gets the information that is most useful for his type of warfare. It says that the Army has asked for an armistice. with luck. battered seafaring man speaking perfect American slang. and either the Italians or Germans down from the north. deep in the Boka]. my family. and an onion for food. I might be able to see my son again. The lower windows had all been boarded up. I did think it over all that night. The sky was Mediterranean blue. with hard black bread. moaning about what terrible things might be happening to their male relations. Would submarines soon be sticking up their ugly snouts in that dreamy bay and gray ships of hatred spurting fire and death into the graceful marble villas? Arrived at the hotel. safety. so obscure that my relatives would never even be able to trace the place of it. and in a somber twilight the family had been gathered for days. The only question now was. You will remember me from the British Legation. a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force. and he was then in Africa. quick death-obscure death. if the planes made for Egypt. comfort.

This passport was out of date. looking at me speculatively -"if necessary we will get her out again. We were approaching a crossing of important military roads. we were much too intent on what might be round the next curve of that corkscrew road. It was certain that the military and administrative headquarters of all this part of the coast would be its largest city Dubrovnik (Ragusa). and walked early into Herzegnovi. We hardly spoke. Two Yugoslav naval reserve officers jumped out. and"-he hesitated. "Force her to come back. "we know she is English. . urgently. Nothing was going in the other direction. Once we slowed down. Just as they were about to haul me off to the police station. which I returned. "Can you get her into Dubrovnik?" "Yes. a battered little two-seater drew up from the direction of Zelenika. . I said pathetically that I only wanted to join American friends in Dubrovnik and didn't know what all this was about.. and demanded an explanation. It was there I must go and do my job. "Dubrovnik? Impossible. April 7. and then proceeded toward Dubrovnik at the most hairraising speed it has ever been my lot to survive. We will do it. Next morning I shoved my uniform into my bag. would be properly afraid of him. of course. And you? . . P. P. and I was pretty sure the Italians. elaborate irony. The two officers took me between them and quickly pushed me into the car. Where to?" He was startled. . April 6." he said with bitter. Never was the American eagle looked at with more affection and hope than it was that night before I fell asleep." said the elder quietly. the blankety-blank traitors! The Independent State of Croatia." he said." He gave me a long. "if you must. and an angry crowd collected. I'll help you. toward Dubrovnik.enemy to report." "Get her out. Croatia has gone over complete. you must. make her come back-if it's not too late." At that moment two gendarmes ran up and in very ugly voices demanded my passport. ignoring the fierce arguments of the gendarmes. "What's the news?" I asked anxiously. was at the appointed place to hear my decision. Large cars with foreign diplomatic flags and filled to the roof with luggage kept whizzing by me. His wings looked comfortingly solid and broad. the naval base. They began to shout menacingly. bound obviously for Rizan and escape." whispered P. We will get her in. There I would "go into hiding. "is declaring war on England! . having expired in 1936 I had arranged to have it renewed at the Belgrade Consulate on Monday. pushed their way through to me. which might have meant quick finis. Nevertheless it had the nice fat American eagle stamped in bright gold on the cover. searching look." I had the best possible hiding place: behind my American passport. spoke to them on the other side of the car. But the great bombardment had come on Sunday. at least. We are returning at dawn tomorrow. . terribly alarmed. stopped at the hotel for my bag. The passport was therefore not really valid. "Bad-it couldn't be worse. "All right." We drove off. nothing is going that way. put on a dress and head scarf.

Remember. "Not all of us. .The elder officer (about forty) said quietly: "If the Germans are already there we will turn back at once." I said: "You are both Croats." he said almost with entreaty." and he muttered a fearful curse. I will never forget this. We will positively not be taken. "not all of us are fools or-knaves. remember-it was the politicians." He turned to me a face of the most bitter and hopeless despair-a face that might now be called the face of all that was decent in Croatia.

Harcourt's was the behavior of the British Legation staff from Belgrade. At once I took a streetcar out to Gruzh. was awaiting the issue of events. and in view of the treatment of ministers in. A fifth-column Eyetee teaching me Serbian was an amusing thought. just next door. Sir Ronald. and at last exchanged to England. We listened to various radio stations and had our worst fears confirmed: the Germans were already well into Greece. the harbor of Dubrovnik. This part of the town had been slightly bombed. he got only a few miles out of town when he was caught by the Italians. and his whole staff stood aside and sent in their own places those civilians of Balkan nationality who were in danger of their lives if captured by the enemy. In Dubrovnik I dined that night with my two Croat naval friends in the huge dark kitchen of the Gradats Hotel. transported to Italy. kept confined for some weeks at Herzegnovi. It was a strained and silent meal. Harcourt came in to say that he was leaving at once for Rizan with a British consul from farther north. I reminded him that I was. in which I was lucky to get a room. Bulgaria (under the Germans). how superior and older was his own branch of the family and the reasons why he himself was no nobleman! Back in town. his staff and about two hundred British nationals were taken by the Italians. He either knew or would tell none. to see the British consul. Could he not therefore please take me too. it was found that there was room for only twentytwo persons. certain at least of imprisonment by the Germans. I am pretty sure they guessed what I was there for. with quiet confidence in her nationality. Harcourt. and as we made for the return streetcar. Mr.) She was an American with friends of much influence both there and at home and. I had known his cousin. the few British troops that had landed were departing in haste. I listened with speechless admiration while he explained to me.The Serbs Chose War. and my Croat sailor friends put me down at a smaller one. Sir Ronald. A MYTH DIES UNMOURNED AT DUBROVNIK we found the large hotels closed. The British minister. Well. say. They informed me that they would be leaving just before dawn in the morning. a particularly obliging fellow who had taken pains to teach me some of my first Serbian words. at acidulous length. In striking contrast to Mr. (There was no American consul. This gesture greatly enhanced England's prestige in Serbia and will not be forgotten. He was hurriedly closing the consulate. and his staff had priority. When the British seaplane came in to rescue British nationals. the late Lord "Lulu" Harcourt. (I give complete names only when I am certain that no injury to the person or to relatives still there can possibly result. as his would probably be the last car with any chance of getting through? He replied that he was sorry but the car was already overfull: he had too much luggage. I called on Laura McCullaugh at the Pension Ivy. To amuse myself and to try the effect. They would have tried to return that . Among the soldiers who got him was an Italian waiter from the Hotel Imperial. as was well known. Ruth Mitchell 31. It was packed with Jewish refugees fleeing before the Germans into what was hoped would be Italian and therefore more humanly decent administration. Sir Ronald Campbell.) From him I hoped to get some clear facts of the situation. there was urgency in their removal. of course. M}. however. the Gradats.

Something had to be done. had no joy in what they were doing. She put it into a sponge bag and buried it in the garden while pretending to play with her Scotty dog. with now and then an inexpensive sort of pleasantness as they ogled the girls in the windows and balconies. Martial and even aristocratic in bearing. Good. in spite of some pleasure at success. who turned their backs or with staring rudeness refused to reply. Most of the hundreds of motor lorries were decorated with palm leaves and flowers. it was the Germans who meticulously saluted and it was the Italians. Now began the great entry of the Imperial Italian Army. going for the sake of "invincible" effect at dashing speed. we looked down the street and saw that everyone was being stopped and searched. attacking motorists and stealing their cars. For the majority of these attractive little officers quite obviously. my Chetnik pass. no respect for themselves in doing it. We all had a dim prescience of what was to come. The common soldiers were morose. . In that narrow street the noise and concussion of the motorized transport. and the behavior of the "dear allies" to each other was uproariously funny. That contempt was not unmixed with pity. This pension was well known as the favorite haunt of British and American visitors and was the first place to be put under enemy surveillance. But the officers-they were a curious study. They looked at me and sighed. Nevertheless she took it. The faces of the townspeople were cheerful. uncertain. and some were crudely scrawled with the usual fascist mottoes. Good luck to two loyal fellows! But I'm afraid . If the pass had been found in her possession she would have suffered extremely serious consequences. but in the completely disorganized state of the country armed highway robbers were already infesting the roads. was maddening. Laura came to the high iron-grilled gate. If there was a knock on my door that night I did not hear it. And for forty-eight hours it was hell. They said they would knock on my door just before they left to see if I would come. all that King Alexander and other idealists had died for. and as we stood talking. . I went over to see if Laura McCullaugh had heard any radio news and found the great gates of the Ivy locked. Harcourt's abandoned books (he did abandon some of his possessions) and it was seized by the Germans. many of them. One or two carried huge pictures of Mussolini hung on the radiators. The town was gaily decorated with flags. I pushed my camera and the pass through the gate. it was impossible to say. There was only one worry: how soon would the Italians pass on and the Germans move in? It was the Germans these people eagerly hoped for and wanted. I had a valuable small camera with special attachments on me and. the Yugoslav flag hung upside down to become the Croatian flag. they yet had a glum. It was a surprise too. amateurish ineffectiveness about them which could inspire only an amused contempt. and Laura. Where there had been no spiritual union. loyal fellows had little chance in Croatia in those black days. of course. blood had turned to poison. dust. But in the morning the hotel porter told me in a whisper that they had been called for and taken away at midnight-by whom. Some German detachments came through. did it. privates and officers. I felt bitterly sad for all that had once been hoped for Yugoslavia. It was worth hanging over the terrace for hours in the noise. and smell to watch the absurd performance: it was like a bantam cock getting fresh with a turkey. And this not just sometimes but invariably. For lot. The camera she unfortunately laid on Mr. At exactly a quarter to ten that morning the first Italian detachment entered Dubrovnik. with great pluck. . I said I should at least be glad to say good-by to them.night. they said.

mainly because I did not wish to reveal the dates on which I had visited Bulgaria. including even floors. Several of the shopkeepers were Jews. The great Italian nation are our friends of long standing. and both were my good friends. I had already disposed of mine. Returning to the hotel. The sun shone in through green foliage. clothes. (Useless precaution. he suggested my room. The shops were to me a never-ending delight. I pushed it under some bomb wreckage in the garden of the hotel to look as if it had been tossed over the wall by a passer-by: there would be plenty more when I got up into the mountains. Now I had far and away the pleasantest corner room in the hotel. We heard. Elsewhere in Yugoslavia the looting. I found the place in an uproar. They notified me that if I needed anything. in the usual Pleasant or half hearted Italian manner." . a Serb. he asked where we could talk and. I hurried to try to grab a bathing suit and cloth for a beach gown to play my role of the harmless summer visitor." But behold. instead of a cordon of bayonets and trample of heavy boots. The shops were cleared as if a mighty swarm of locusts had settled on the town and neighborhood. After lunch. while the Germans mostly gave "promissory" notes-and those only in compliment to their new "dear allies" the Croats. But the Italians paid with money. as the hall was occupied. Dubrovnik has always been the greatest center in the Balkans for local and Near East antiques. to be carted off to Germany in trainload after heavy trainload. all they had was at my disposal. Arrived there. some were Serbs. had already commenced. there fluttered a little slip of paper bearing the name of the officer to whom the "suspicious character" should at once report. Italian police had found in my room English books (borrowed from Laura) and photographs of a flier they thought English and had raised a hue and cry for "the British spy.Whispered jokes about Italian courage were heard everywhere. their wives and relatives poured in from Albania and even from Italy itself. "You are British?" he began stiffly in awkward French. I wondered? I destroyed my British passport. Seeing how things were vanishing. the Germans later knew quite well. and to a man just arrived from the Greek mountain campaign it must have looked like paradise. for instance. my old-time roost. Their kindness to me and their anxiety about my safety now were so remarkable as to justify one's good opinion of humanity. I judge that it made him slightly absent-minded. When would my investigation come. "But no. and I had spent many happy hours and many thousands of dinars in buying treasures. I showed my slip to an officer just coming out. mon colonel. accompanied by the nervous hotel porter I walked down to the Hotel Imperial. and even tourist trinkets disappeared as if by magic. Removing the insignia. now the Imperial Italian Military Headquarters. I am an American caught here by events and with nowhere to travel safely.) I put my uniform into safekeeping where I hope to find it again-it was actually a Croat who very courageously took it for me. he courteously suggested our walking over together. however worthless their paper. Immediately behind the Italian troops. you are quite mistaken. And after considerable thought I decided to leave my gun for the present with another friend. and it happened that he was the man himself. the barefaced stealing of every usable article. that they were so terrified of the Chetniks that they shot on sight anyone wearing the typical and almost universal Serbian black lambskin cap because it happened to be also the Chetnik uniform cap. Food. As he was about to lunch at the Gradats.

I was content that. The Serbs love their Karageorgivich king as loyally as ever. The myth of a brotherhood based on blood was exploded-irrevocably as regards the Serbs. one of the highest officers of the Italian Occupation was and is now sleeping every night. The Fighting Serbs will positively have none of it. I watched it being torn down. had a crack at the bottom. slightly embarrassed." I was anxious not to destroy this but meant to save it somehow for a future time. the founder of Yugoslavia. and quite properly. If he should take the pass to look at. They know him to be in the hands of old and inept Serbian and intriguing Goat advisers. How to do it? I had considered numberless ways and at last hit upon the perfect place. Pechanats. without a single visa. be over!" He saw my nice. I drew my American pass from my pocket and held it in my hand. They want him back. they do not blame him for his helplessness. I managed to slip the picture in. can be confidently expected to try to revive it. as I write (May 1943) the American and British governments still use the word officially is merely. fat American eagle. The thought that. "This room. bowed low and departed. with his nose almost directly over that evidence." he said. I'm afraid you will have to move. Balkan carpentry is not very precise. took up the pass and slipped it back into my pocket. . "Perhaps by four o'clock?" He made a few agreeable remarks. had ever had any connection with their fellow South Slavs. is considered his finest work. as if the matter were now settled. followed by my Chetnik skull-and-crossbones badge and the cap insignia. at heart a true Chetnik. He is very young. I talked on gaily. Quickly I picked up a cigarette to offer him and. I had surmounted my first hazard. I am sure. a branch of the same South Slav stock. He was looking round my pretty room. Now began in Dubrovnik the wholesale removal and destruction by the inhabitants of any signs that they. The Croats. and. grandfather of the present King Peter II. the Serbs. built into the wall. Busily I talked on. as it was completely blank. I'm afraid.I regret to say this room has been requisitioned. What they had not found in my room-what I had taken care they should not find-was a large photograph of the old Chetnik chief. to save themselves the work of dealing with a problem which will solve itself. unless the hotel burned or the walls were torn down. his suspicion would be aroused at once. has given me unending pleasure. when they see themselves again on the losing side and their frightful crimes coming home to them. and the fact that now. which will soon. laid the pass on a table beside me. throughout the later frantic effort to find a single positive piece of evidence of my Chetnik connection. to strike a match.He bowed. The beautiful bas-relief by Mestrovich of King Peter I." "Indeed?" "Yes. "this room. "Where could one find a place more beautiful to pass this terrible time of war. and the floor of my closet. together with other inscriptions and memorials of a Yugoslavia vanished now into the past. Yugoslavia has gone. On it was written a dedication in very flattering terms calling me "the best and most valued friend Serbia possessed." and with the usual Italian gallantry: "Perhaps you would be kind enough to take the room next door. these mementos would await me at the end of the war." I bowed noncommittally.

But should the impossible occur and the hated democracies after all prevail and pursue their "stupid" policy of allowing the peoples to decide their own destiny. Let those cunning butchers take this word of warning: when that day of voting comes. The Croats believed the Germans would win. then they would see to it that they kept the rich lands bought from Germany with their treachery: there should be no more Serbs there to vote. .But nothing is more certain than that any official who has compromised with the Croats can consider his career closed. one million Serbian graves will cast their ballots too.

By expert maneuvering they quietly arrested the worst shouters but quickly released them again. Oonah Ball. died peacefully at this time. and intense was the disappointment of its people. which he kept in an appalling mess. But. Could it have been produced in just those few days ? No-and not by Italian needles: someone here must have known what was coming months in advance! Mr.The Serbs Chose War. At her steady refusal to listen I detected a speculative gleam in his eye. and for a day or two we breathlessly awaited the decision. I should also mention the bizarre and faintly sinister American who called himself Captain Kahn. With these he hoped to bewitch us. alas. He succeeded in paying for the dinner of one of the highest passing officers. but all his seals had been lost in the bombardment. HITLER-down. UP. He had a small auxiliary yawl lying in Gruzh harbor.) In the charming old central place of the crowded town. In between these pursuits he spent his time cultivating the Germans. Then the Germans moved out and the Italians-for centuries the hereditary hated foe of Dalmatia-the despised little Eyetees were allowed by the Big Boss to remain. He was violently proGerman and had little swastika flags stuck all over his boat." which had been proclaimed amidst general rejoicing on April 10. The hand embroidery was fine and the likeness almost mansized. Ruth Mitchell 32. and she passed away knowing nothing about it. One morning . there was a sharp dispute between the two loving allies. quickly waned. During her long illness news of the World War had been kept from her. Apparently this got him oil and other favors. then immediately after the Italians. and members of his staff with their families passed through on that day on their way back to their posts at Belgrade. They had hoped and expected to see the Germans march in. He spent his time gathering herbs and making weird ointments and hellish brews. the American consul general. widow of an Oxford don and for decades one of the landmarks of Dubrovnik. They even went to the length of again proclaiming a new Independent Republic of Ragusa ("Independence" now being scattered about this part of the world like so much poisoned cat's meat. down. Dubrovnik became Ragusa. if not first. He told me he would have renewed my American passport there and then. as if I might take her place in his heart. Old Mrs. especially Laura McCullaugh. a hollow square of Alpini buglers blew a fanfare and hoisted a scarlet fish-tail banner with Patron Saint Blasius embroidered in the center. Macatee. The Germans came in. which in its great days had been second only to the Republic of Venice. SHOPPING FOR GUN EMPLACEMENTS THE JOY OF THE INHABITANTS of Dubrovnik at the arrival of their dear "saviors. and take over the protection of the newly created "Independent State of Croatia. it is true. whose stern rejection of his impassioned advances gave us much merriment. He was determined that she and I should flee with him. it turned out differently. Mussolini!" (groans)." the Axis. They tried various expedients to flatter the people. and her famous English library was sealed up. The Italians were noticeably embarrassed but imperturbably good-natured and patient as they watched the noisy demonstrations of the populace yelling: "UP. heirs of the proud tradition of the once rich and powerful Republic of Ragusa. I examined it. and he promised to remove enough herbs from the furniture for us at least to sit down.

A too abrupt repulse turned these tough soldiers. and a large straw hat gave me the bona-fide look of a good housekeeper intent on economy. For. perhaps to the wars in the service of his dear Nazis. If so I wish them joy of him. of course. It was strictly for guerrilla work. though I certainly didn't let it stop me. very nasty. surly German airmen to recall me to caution. he was certainly quite mad. The inhabitants remained hostile. . within two miles of Dubrovnik. My windows gave me an exquisite view across the calm Adriatic. "non capisco!" I was always just an American stranger. So that after a time the people began to melt. preferring to leave it in a safe place and to work on it in the evening. It was not the same information as that required by an invading army. It only needed a sight of the occasional groups of wooden. It seemed like stealing money from a blind beggar. Who should blame them? I confess I myself often felt a pig at what I was doing. There were very disagreeable as well as funny and even delightful incidents. if alone. I used for the purpose a large-scale map of the town and neighborhood on fairly thin paper. was fair game. as if they just liked smiling. The sun was now bright enough to justify sun glasses. I got by. alas. which are very useful. The thing one had to fear from these brown fellows was not their suspicion but. I seldom carried it with me. not even exactly the same as required for a commando raid. When I envisaged this business I had not expected that the affection of my enemy would be my greatest danger. Of course. since all housewives here and in Italy go to open market. I had to get it. The remarkable thing was that it wasn't just a victorious or artificial grin. The experiment of the Republic didn't work as well as had been hoped. The little Italians seemed so guileless and good-natured. as I was ceaselessly strolling now in this direction. just off a long campaign." as I followed the rocky paths. But so it was. laughing and singing. I had little time to look at it. and the difficulty of steering a middle course was very tiring. salutes you with smiling eagerness. always just "taking a short cut and anxious to get back on the main road. It was now my business to get certain information. old or young. the prettiest. either "shopping" or "seeking secluded beaches to bathe. They smiled as if they meant it. hops out of the road for your comfort.he was gone. I decided it would be best to move to some place outside the town. with its scattered rocky islets and its broken mountainous shore line. though possibly useful in some obscure way. and I was in a quandary more than once. They just couldn't help it. I found a small hotel on the extreme edge of a well-wooded peninsula near the harbor of Gruzh. but not always pleasantly. their amorousness." There had once been plenty of these. but especially old. however. A market basket. complete with boat. so that I should have a good excuse for coming into town by different roads and paths. Yet I knew well that if I made the slightest slip all their good nature would vanish. and being altogether too friendly. Anything in a skirt. Before many days had passed. contemptuous. I was lucky enough to get a room that hung almost over the sea. I could "not understand one word of Italian". especially. For obvious reasons I cannot particularize here. and offers to carry the parcels of every woman he sees. Now they were all filled with lively little Italian soldiers. whom you have invited to come in. You can't stay angry when your despised conqueror. now in that. They permit one to face one way and look another without one's eyes being visible. most well-bred and sheltered girls of the Dubrovnik aristocracy were discreetly accompanied by faultless Italian cavaliers. But the Italians just went on smiling.

It seemed suicidal to oppose such power. In spite of their victorious. and I fled to its far recesses-chuckling to myself.000 men passed through in fast motor transport whose efficiency. Some looked not more than fifteen. silvery olive trees under the hot blue sky. However fast and powerful. each with perky feather. In three days something like 60. must be just a stage play and soon we would come to the happy ending! In contrast. The eternal German tourist came out in them too. For the Nazi soldiers themselves were not impressive. prickly bush. The promontory near my hotel was covered with tall. How childishly pathetic were the few Italian armored cars that got mixed in the procession! After such a sight one could well understand the hopelessness. often made the whole thing seem unreal to me. of course. There it will be man to man. dwarfed by their dependence on their machines. surely. Troops were encamped all over it. In every car. I stood watching on the road just where the beautiful Gruzh harbor came into view. they raised their voices to bright delight: right and left I was saluted con amore! Fortunately I knew of an old ruined fortress nearby. and care for the finest detail was staggeringly impressive. even their mellow Italian voices seemed to have grown thin and strained and the famous end bark sounded ridiculous. they can't pierce our pathless forests. Their extreme youth was a surprise. To my horror I saw the path both ways lined with squatting figures in dishabille. and the dirty little devils found the path which ran all the way round it the most convenient place for certain morning and evening physical routines. as it reached that point. solidity. Now came a grim interlude: the return of the victorious German troops from Greece. or Il Barbiere. when a regimental dinner was given in my hotel directly under my room and the officers afterwards dutifully sang their fascist war songs composed on German models. Most of those cameras had been stolen. every single one sighted a camera. in spite of their pink northern cheeks. and singing the lovely old arias from Carmen. Yet all the time my heart kept singing: "They can't get up our mountains. their smartly cocked hunters' caps. weight of guns. And their peaceful occupation was being made joyous with song. such scientific perfection. excited air. I lodged a complaint about this disgusting habit with the major in command. Far from being perturbed by my sudden appearance. This. and man for man.I cannot resist telling the funniest of all. I wonder how many of those victorious films will be treasured in the bitterly humbled years to come! . while other eager ones were coming down behind me. Cameras are "requisitioned" without payment. where I had suspected and found two batteries of mountain guns. no camera is ever left behind where Germans pass. One morning I descended midway onto this path from above. thick. I must admit. every man rose. Il Trovatore. And it was actually stoppedfor my pleasure and convenience! The Alpini in their green uniforms. moving or lounging round their bivouac fires in the terraced groves of gnarled. the defeatism of some of the conquered peoples. they looked softened. in spite of their big frames (compared with the Italians but not compared with our own men).Italian love songs in charming harmony. our men are better!" So it has proved. and a volley of clicks ran down the lines.

their continuous chatter about the job in hand. whatever its interpretation. I remember the exact date because there had been a birthday in the hotel and I had picked flowers as a gift. and their children. After careful study he decided on a certain quite unknown brand. the fastest fliers of the bird world. and for no reason that I could conceive at that instant my sobs seemed to strangle me. "I read it in a book translated from the Croatian which has been supplied to us. a thing so strange that I hesitate to mention it. As I sewed busily the large window beside me was wide open on the limitless. one got the impression that their hearts weren't in it: their hearts were at home with their women. Get on with it. I had promised to let him choose the make of our next motorcar. Their curiously baffled. and their gallantry towards women left little insurmountable secrecy. and invited me to go for picnics and sight-seeing trips. unprofessional air seemed to say to the Germans: "You're the supermen. called punctiliously. lovely view. "It is the best car made. heard I was there. It made an uncertain turn or two. or folklore even. Also.The Serbs Chose War. it was difficult not to bite my tongue when I heard such statements as: "Those miserable Serbs have no literature. I asked why that particular one. professors of English at Italian schools. you seem to know all about it." It reminded me of when my boy was twelve. Ruth Mitchell 33. The noise these lively Italians made. and be damned to you!" Every evening on the crowded terrace the Italian officers would turn on the radio and calmly listen to the English news! Two reservists. as they surged past. Sitting on the warm sea wall and talking with these naive men of Fascist Italy. The swifts. were coming north along the Adriatic coast from their winter quarters far to the south in Libya." "Oh yes? Where did you learn this?" I asked politely. Lieutenant A. On the afternoon of May 18 I was sitting in my room hastily doing some much-needed mending." he said positively. the exact opposite being the truth. (I have no wish to injure them). I took the bird into . with some effort. They have stolen them all from the Croats. of their own. their vineyards. Suddenly a flutter and one bird braked sharply in front of my window. THE CHAMPIONS To GET THE INFORMATION I wanted was not as difficult as I had expected. my breast constricted. My breath stopped. absolutely no epics. I had a violent spasm of the heart which mothers only know. Intent upon my sewing. then darted straight and purposefully at me and clung tightly to my shoulder. "Really? Where did you get that information?" "I read it in their advertisement!" Now a strange thing happened. their fields. Yet I feel constrained to do so. Surprised. and Dr. L. strong on their slim wings. aren't you? You've shouted it often enough! It's your show. then. I cast few glances at the groups of birds.

and strongly flew away. . She brought out the most amazing masses of luggage for my friends and also a letter from their parents. was killed flying at Merza Matruh in Libya on May 10. Their aged parents had chosen to remain behind in the old family home. The most successful as well as the most amusing of these gallant blockade runners was a buxom. with his little pushing fists and eager sucking lips. primitive hospital in the heart of Serbia. The poor little halfdead baby was brought in and laid beside her own son at her other breast. Her husband had been called away and. like spaniels out of a marsh. this time set upon fetching the old folks out bodily. Then it sprang up. At the end of three weeks he was as bonny as any normal child. after anxious days. It was neither frightened nor tired. She was never heard of again. she gladly offered to feed the child herself: she had abundant milk.that the dying sometimes send messages by birds and that a bird entering the house signifies the death of a dear one. It takes about eight days for the swifts to reach the middle Adriatic from the African coast. to avoid housekeeping. She was told that the baby. Weeping. etc. since the danger. in a high fever. quiet woman with two nice children. she asked if there was not a foster mother. a particularly nice group of young people and children.. I soon composed myself so as not further to distress my friends. blond Aryan who made no secret of the fact that she "carried on" with hands. Among them was a handsome. smilingly turned up again. was great. She told me a remarkable and significant experience. or letters-in their mouths. with the game-relatives. if you like. where kind friends tried to comfort me. and the mother too was saved and recovering. In England there is an age-old belief-superstition.. including one large family with its in-laws. a boy of seventeen and a girl of fifteen. They got. The hotel was full of Serbian Jewish refugees. once they were out of Italian jurisdiction. brothers or sisters or children. The name of the family at my hotel was Farhi. fortunately I did not know it then. It just looked at me with its bright and gentle little eyes. Then she plunged back again. circled once around. And now an interesting secret traffic began. was despaired of. The little strange boy throve wonderfully. as if he had been her own. No doubt she had "carried on" just a little too far. Next morning the feeblest of feeble baby cries announced that the new life had arrived. For they had plenty already to distress them. who hid her and expedited her on her way. most of whom had lost relatives. porters. enormous pay. It sat a moment. The night after the boy was born she heard much hurrying about in the corridor and on inquiry learned that the expectant mother in the next room was causing the doctor serious alarm. And thus five times a day she fed it. There was a regular system of searchers. also a boy. My only son. But I did not know it. Artificial feeding being there unknown. John Lendrum van Breda. All the hotels were full of such harassed Jewish people. I raised the bird in my hand. she had arranged to remain three weeks at the hospital. its heart did not beat wildly. with blue eyes and golden curls. and earned. He was beautiful. in their flight from German barbarity. I went downstairs. valuables. fetchers. messengers who slipped away and. When her first child was born she had her confinement in a small. She told me that she loved him. I tried to give it water: it wanted none. and that the mother. Being told that none could be found. was well made but was so weak as to be unlikely to live. and their anxiety about the old couple as well as about their own future was desperate.

Next morning he returned. (She gave me the name of the princess. I hope. My friend looked at her with wide-eyed horror and pity for the blow about to fall.. and heavily jeweled." she said diffidently. of atrocities unrepeatable. Men were soon to arrive in Dubrovnik itself. hung with strings of Serbian tongues and with bowls of Serbian eyes for sale. than they could accept. I could not believe a quarter of them. hardly able to speak. which I unfortunately did not write down and have forgotten. The Dalmatians as a whole were horrified by the appalling developments and only cheered up when occasional bits of news came through that seemed to counterbalance the horrors. and she bathed and fed him. a friend of his from Belgrade. and the Farhis." That night the child was not brought in and cried inconsolably. Then the cards ceased. of course. He was all she had now in the world. It was a very alluring thought but. the heir to her title. his cry a good hearty yell now. For another three weeks after that the baby was brought to her three times a day by a liveried chauffeur. including Mr. She refused them and left the hospital. might visit her. For now I began to get news from Croatia that told of a slowly rising tide of murders. "Perhaps. After a time the outlook for the Jewish refugees in Dubrovnik became threatening: we heard the Gestapo were coming.. who. of massacres of defenseless Serbs by berserk-mad Croatians and by Moslems in Bosnian Croatia. my friend. and there appeared at her door the most beautiful creature she had ever seen: fragile.S. I was soon to know that they were a weak understatement of the truth. she received a card from the mother from different parts of the world. whose wife was afterwards in prison with me.On the day before she was to leave a message was brought asking if the mother. said the Russian woman. thought them magnificent. For ten years. nurtured at the same breast. I wonder where he is. Angelo Farhi and O. Preparing to fight on the side of his foster mother. A." She lived. dressed in lace. the Jews." said my friend gently. anxiously urged me to come too.) She agreed. it appeared. always at Christmas. only for revenge upon the evil Jews. got permits to proceed northwards to Italy en route for Spain. That boy must now be nineteen." said the Russian princess. the Ustashi. accompanied by the gift of a handsome set of emerald earrings and bracelet. In the little back parlors of trusty men the tales were whispered. her parents killed by the Bolsheviks. They drew attractive pictures of how we three should slowly travel up the coast." "You. There were more volunteer recruits to the sinister Croat murder organization. "I am a pure-blooded Jewess. . not being wealthy. "perhaps you won't feel that way now any more-now that your boy has become the milk brother of my boy. If he sucked in character with that mother's milk he will be a kindly and brave fellow. impossible just because of those horrors. she said. My friends. away from all the horror. Then he was gone and she missed him sadly. The princess was hardly able to express her thanks to my friend for saving the life of her baby. Unfortunately. "you are a Serb ---" "No. since she had been driven from her home and great estates. Soon she launched into a violently bitter tirade against "that scourge of the earth. was a Russian princess.

the vaunted "enlightened" Croat leader. as everywhere under the Germans. Unhappily. Quite the reverse. he had on the radio ordered his followers to "co-operate.had been given the choice of changing their religion or of losing all their possessions or their lives. with unquestioned power over all his people-surely he could exert that power now to stop these fearful crimes. We heard that Orthodox Serbs-hundreds of thousands of them. was doing absolutely nothing-not even faintly protesting. as the violence increased those loyal Croats were killed too. The news grew steadily more fiendish. the capital of the new Independent State. we heard to our bitter amazement. their children dying by the roadside. had to wear yellow. I thought. But Machek. But so many decent-minded Croats had immediately also donned the white armbands in protest that the order had to be hastily rescinded. that a frantic exodus of starving Serbs was choking the roads to Belgrade.Thus we heard (in these early days before the massacres got well under way) that all Serbs in Zagreb. had been ordered to wear a white armband. What was Machek doing? Machek. as the Jews in Dubrovnik." .

and so utterly unconscious of what I was doing. the very last night. I interpreted his threats to denounce me as blackmail to force me to buy in his shop. the great and sacred Serb festival. After a last quick drink of slivovits. and the reactions of this pet of the foreign women can be imagined. But Draja Mihailovich? I did not remember ever having met him. stood a large dark man upon whose neck I could have fallen: Vaso. so helpful. There were certain people I saw almost daily. Quickly he told me that June 28. Ruth Mitchell 34. it came. For those who have never had to hear that their own commander was suspected of being a traitor. but not from him: his charm tax seemed to me too high. I PREPARE MIHAILOVICH TO JOIN GENERAL I HAD BEEN WAITING ANXIOUSLY for news of the Chetnik plans. on May 17. Pechanats was nowhere. I ignored them-unfortunately for me. long-lashed eyes which he used to fascinate visiting ladies into his antique shop to buy at fancy prices. I bought antiques. This man Hasanovich was a notorious character. My friend had heard that Hasanovich intended to denounce me to the Gestapo. most often behind a certain food shop. on the platform at Sarajevo. At last. a vieu flaneur with melting. Angelo Farhi. There. Clearly it had better be soon. They would signal if there was anything important and then meet me in prearranged places. he didn't matter anymore. he shut up like a clam. where he himself would meet me and guide me to Draja Mihailovich. but still graceful. the Duke Kosta Pechanats? Vaso's mien darkened. I was to make for Nikshich (in Montenegro). snapped. thin-haired. I will say that it is an extremely nasty experience. He had warned me urgently that a Moslem called Mustafa Hasanovich had got hold of a photograph of me in uniform. anniversary of the Battle of Kossovo. we had to part-Vaso to slip away on another job. it appeared. the leader. presented me with two badly needed shirts and. For now the dreaded Gestapo was to take over the same strangle hold on this Italian-occupied territory of Dalmatia that it had on Italy itself. my Montenegrin frontier policeman. would be the date for the Chetnik rising. It was not uncommon-I knew several men of that name. it appeared. I had a dependable friend in the town. still begging me . He was a regular army pukovnik (colonel). For I had heard ominous news from another source. if only from a distance. who was now taking chief command of both the remains of the Army and of the Chetniks. a plucky Serb to whom I had often had occasion to be grateful. in the dappled shadow of a grape trellis. But where was my old chief. so intelligent. Then I slipped out through the back door. Mihailovich? The name meant absolutely nothing to me that day. I to plan how I could get to Nikshich. so kindly.The Serbs Chose War. The ships for the north were packed to suffocation. The last Jewish refugee departed on May 20. utterly brainless. It may have been his first complete feminine failure. This day at about ten o'clock I entered the shop and was signaled to wait until some Italian soldiers had bought and departed.

But I knew a little donkey track which. but only on condition that I possessed an official permit for the journey. so slowly. In that way my mountain climbing would be shortened by many days and my danger of capture correspondingly reduced. One really must give credit to the Italians. as if only half awake." Slowly. When in due course we moved to the front my old lady launched into a loud and matey explanation of her wish to visit her children and grandchildren. Should I try for it. And not dry-eyed. That meant toward the Bocca di Cattaro. In that direction was only war.perhaps that of a grandchild-and languidly pushed over the pass. on May 23 from Gruzh for Cattaro with food supplies for the Occupation troops.) But southward-that was something quite different. Her thanks were profuse but left him despondent. where an office had been opened to issue the necessary permits. left in my passport. to risk southward. My American pass did not startle him-all strange papers were alike to him. I quietly said. This of course would be heavily guarded. if that worked. right into this Bocca. leaving only the fine flower of sincerity. to be anxiously avoided by any innocent tourist. mainly women. went away. The none-too-bright clerk. had only one road running through it. As I passed through the town early on May 21 I saw a line of peasants. lying on the water as if it had slipped down off the steep mountainside. Coming southward.) . I seized it and fled. the only one he could catch. Silently he handed over the paper as the next person crowded up. he hardly looked up.M. (They later tried hard to protect unarmed Serbs against the Croat butchers. I said. I had decided to try northward first and. I joined the line behind a fat and chatty old girl whose ample skirts and bosom provided good cover. "Spalato" (Split). "Korcula". Yet south I must go. skirted the Cetinje plateau where the Italian troops were concentrated and would take me toward Nikshich. all named. The captain was "persuaded" at a very fancy price to take me. Bored stiff. Nevertheless I got both. seemed out of the question. The millstones of trouble. He took my particulars mechanically. perhaps by an oversight. Food was getting scarce: as many mouths as possible must be got rid of and food production raised. But any chance of getting a permit for Cattaro. used against me at my court-martial and. Gently I said. "Bocca di Cattaro" and then quickly "Return. They tried to be decent in every way they could: anyone could get permission to go north toward Italy. How was I to get one? An order had been issued that all country people who had fled into Dubrovnik were to return to their homes and farms. even if I found some means of transport. to Cattaro (Kotor) itself if at all possible. For an English-speaking foreigner to want to go south could only mean mischief. winding northeast. anxiety. to the very inmost corner. My good friend discovered that a sailing ship would be leaving at 4 A. At a long row of desks Italian army clerks were distractedly struggling to understand a babel of requests in a strange tongue. he wrote it down. I have it here before me. waiting in front of the Hotel Posta. the inland bay for centuries most eagerly desired by Italy as a perfect naval base. Now came my turn. (This pass was found by the Gestapo. or should I only be drawing dangerous attention to myself? I decided to try with caution. This little old town. and often succeeded. and sorrow seemed to grind away the artificial husks of society. lapsed into dull despair and at last wrote down what he thought was the name of a village. baffled and come. he wrote it down. he wrote it down.

I have always found that for jobs of this sort boys of about fourteen are ideal. and should they excite remark they always have a cheeky answer to allay suspicions: men instinctively avoid back-chat with young smart alecks. Until the last possible moment I must arouse no suspicion that I was planning to leave. Always eager for anything with a touch of mystery about it. which was quite usual. They often get by where much cleverer people would stick. either by older men or by women. On the morning of the 22d I arranged with a near-by youth to carry my bag next morning across the intervening hill to the harbor.At dawn on the 23d I should be away to join Draja Mihailovich! I remained quietly at the hotel that day. I myself would go openly with my basket as if to buy fish. I knew a bright-eyed little devil who had run several useful errands for me-but this time he was to be disappointed. . A parcel is in Europe the natural appendage of boys. they pass almost unnoticed.

the other smaller. Now you never saw a more ashamed-looking man. He was slightly taken aback by my polite formality. and on drawing on my shirt and gray flannel slacks I noticed to my surprise that I had put my marked map into the back pocket instead of hiding it. sparring desperately for long and thin. being no doubt used to terrorizing women. which I speak as easily as English. I turned and faced two rubber-shod men in plain clothes." he said haughtily and rudely in German." and he indicated the other man. When I came out I took off my bathing suit behind a rock. but hurry. "WE ARE THE GESTAPO!" ON THE AFTERNOON of the 22d. "May I see your credentials?" I said. and we had often laughed together about it. there was another shadow." "Madam [gnadige Frau]. I went straight into the large dining room. and as I plunged about I remember thinking how fit I was for any hardship. my bathing suit dry. setting behind the islands. I knew the man quite well." he said much less rudely. on each side of my shadow. Suddenly. all the guests having fled. softly whistling to myself the while. The hotel was now completely empty. who they were. thinking it might be long before I saw the sea again (it was!). "We are the Gestapo." . The sun. Then. I looked at him. "it makes no difference whatever. of course. I decided to have a nice long swim. I was to see a good deal of him during the next few days. You will come with us at once. which was simply a glassed terrace overlooking the lovely bay. I knew at once. I began to cut some capers to throw funny shadows against the wall. That is enough. I am in Italian jurisdiction.The Serbs Chose War. Ruth Mitchell 35. In any case this is an officer of the Croatian police. threw a bright rosy golden glow upon the opposite white wall. as was usual. I was as healthy as it is humanly possible to be. I went slowly back. I lay awhile in the hot sun. I am the Gestapo. "Ruth Mitchell?" from the smaller man. He did not look at me. He hated the Italians. as I usually did. He was a Croatian detective who had been assigned to watch me here in Dubrovnik when I was suspected of espionage-on behalf of Italy! He didn't believe it." Mildly I said: "I am an American. Poor devil-poor Croatia! "May I take some things with me?" "Yes. I bowed. and he never once looked me in the face. This is Independent Croatia. "Unnecessary! I told you. I mention these details because they saved my life. Very fond of dancing and feeling exuberantly cheerful.

and a photograph.. was lying still forever under the drifting desert sand. by the grace of God. while my mind frantically made and discarded plan after plan for destroying the map.? "My son. and a few things. We reached my door. But I knew mine better. How bitter was that moment! All my work wasted! And my life. My manner had reminded these men that there was such a thing as politeness. The hotel staff had gathered in consternation and. including my Italian permit." I said softly. "I have failed-I have failed! You must carry on!" But my son. It was trout and strawberries-and-cream. As they tore open the door I was peacefully pulling a skirt over my head. sincere distress to bid me good-by. his duty done. "you will at least allow me time to change into a skirt.. "Gentlemen. I was handed a few necessaries to pack into my sleeping bag. as he informed me. Not half a minute and those men had already realized their carelessness. despite their most determined efforts. In spite of tearing apart everything that could possibly hide it. They showed they thought this was a very long farewell. They hesitated.Just then the waiter appeared with my supper on a tray. I began to feel warily cheerful. my son. I put my hand on the handle. If they had I shouldn't be writing this today. And they knew their business. turned up at my trial. I opened the door." How many nights for more than a year I was to dream of that meal of trout and strawberries-and-creamuneaten! Close on each side of me they marched me up to my room. Then they began to search. "May I eat my supper? Perhaps you will join me and have some too ?" "Thank you. wrapped it around a little antique brass ink-pot and cast it far out into the sea. are still sufficiently rare on Balkan women to leave males slightly abashed." Now trousers." my heart cried out. and closed it gently. It was never found. I was surprised to be allowed to shake them all by the hand. Unless there has been some very unlikely cataclysm it is now where I put it and I shall go back and get it. He sealed the room for further search. they did not find what they were looking for: my Chetnik pass. Each article was closely examined by the Gestapo agent Herr Blum-that being his name. my dagger. another little fifth columnist. He later told me that he was a German resident of Zagreb (Croatia)-in other words. I am sure. . "but certainly not. I am very anxious to have it as it is a unique document." he bowed stiffly. Like lightning I jerked out the map. That was significant: Chetniks when caught as such do not require anything for long. slipped in.

" I couldn't repress a twinkle. but American nevertheless. They all knew me." His tone was worried and more gentle (he was the only German who ever admitted to me such elementary knowledge). I was put into an open car next to Herr Blum. "we'll soon get them nowus and the Germans. passed through the archway by which we had entered. turned. "It is possible. . "Since you knew me there you know I am an American. "I am delighted to see you! You remember me. but: "How could I forget such a handsome man?" I said with only faint sarcasm." the latter greeted me in perfect English with a kind of joyous. a small comb and a little paper money. Here were "Independent" Croatian policemen. I will see you tomorrow." I made them write both." he replied with smug satisfaction. "American and British. He barked: "Out you go!" "May I take some necessaries from my bag?" No.It was getting dark. of course. "Ha. We sped round the town. I know there are such cases. victorious sneer. and stopped in front of a large door in the huge city wall. who drove. in at the Ploche gate. the English. More tourist-spy stuff. not even a toothbrush. "Aha.) It was hard to see him clearly. Herr Blum ran in and came out with a tall officer. yes." (Belgrade's best hotel. but the policemen enjoyed the rest. Blum. no doubt. My particulars were written into a huge tome. I mentioned I had had nothing to eat. on the right about halfway between the arch and the Ploche gate. How often I had gaily passed that doorway. The policemen relaxed and swelled up." . The atmosphere changed at once. Miss Mitchell. Blum at once gave an order.. We went down some steps into a dimly lit courtyard and into a small office opposite. and in a few moments an ample hot meal was brought and a bottle of wine." one sneered proudly. I could eat and drink little. from the Srbski Kralj. "We have all the necessary proofs._ Weak He waved his hand and we drove off. I was ordered to turn out my pockets. nothing at all." I said without heat. which revealed a handkerchief." "You are British. who had really tried to be formally decent. little suspecting what it hid! The heavy door swung back." "I am both. and stopped before the Gradska Kafana. the bottle passing from mouth to mouth. "But I regret it can make no difference. departed.. which annoyed him.

were gone. . and iron bolts scraped noisily. Now nothing more could happen to me-until the next thing. The sun shone warmly upon it. but I wasn't that hungry-yet. Then he settled himself in a shady corner. Black silence-with only the sucking moan of sad sea waves breaking softly. I hitched myself up and sat there practically all day watching people being brought in. I stood holding my breath. evidently an old lag (habitual criminal). I was in prison. With my foot I felt along the skirting board. So that was that. I was frightened. Roughly he pushed me in. Then. opened a dirty handkerchief. He would have shared with me. and quickly pushed into every cell but mine. The door was thrown open and a surly guard motioned me out: "Wash. were Jewish. I had never in my life before been really frightened. blank stare. evidently the only water supply. The bench was about nine inches wide. splintery and wobbly. We looked at each other with friendly speculation.The Serbs Chose War. PRISON ONE OF THE CROAT POLICEMEN took my elbow and hurried me across a dimly lit courtyard. I found I was alone in a fairly large cell (about ten by ten) with only a pail and a narrow bench. and munched a crust of bread. I asked for some food but was given only a rude. Only the sough of a lonely. No prisoner spoke to me. Silence. The guard's steps retreated . The crashing of heavy bolts awoke me. They were returned to crowded cells and locked up. waiting their turn at a very slightly screened tap. There was an overturned rowboat in the yard. . Well. was puttering about with a broom.". No sound of breathing. Were there others there in the dark? Or was I all alone? I listened intently. inhuman sea. Ruth Mitchell 36. I balanced myself on my erratic bench and went to sleep. An iron door was unlocked. sobbingly. tearful. Bright sunlight revealed men and women standing in line in the courtyard. I thought. Almost all. I stood waiting. The cell was hot and stuffy. . If I went forward I might trip over something. The door clanged shut. I stood in line and did the best I could with my handkerchief and little comb.he grunted. right under the cell. They looked very scared. No one paid any attention to me. I gave him ten dinars to sweep out my very filthy cell. afraid only of what might crawl up onto me. I might as well try to find out what sort of a place I was in. I took off my jacket and rolled it up. An old man. terrified. but if I followed the wall I should at least get back to the door again sometime.

Quite close. except the artificial tears. of course. The door was bolted. he threw me a pitying glance and. I insisted I was an American "writing a book" and smiled at "absurd" suspicion. began walking up and down. depending on "the well-known chivalry of the Germans. were Blum and the officer of the evening before. who introduced himself as Major von Nassenstein. where a personal friend of his would look after me. Blum went out." Et cetera. I can permit myself no resentment at a mistake. to bring about better understanding between the youth of England and Germany before the Nazis came into power. chief of the Gestapo for the district. Suddenly he asked: "Do you know who informed against you?" I told him I suspected it was Hasanovich. He told me he had been born in London and went to school there. I relaxed. I did the lone and artless little woman. whose bushy head of hair I had long known by sight." amazed at such inconsiderate treatment. from the side of his mouth. (When Hitler took over. containing a desk. knowing he must be proud of his military family traditions. In a little guardroom. mentioned an American by name. war is war. I said so. Instantly I knew by their expression that nothing had been found. He nodded and said with haughty disgust: "Diese Mohammedaner-grassliche Leute!! [These Moslems-disgusting people!]" That was a curious admission for a member of the Gestapo to make. There was nothing to do in the dark but go to sleep again. There was a pause. About six o'clock I was ordered back into my cell. which I can't seem to squeeze out. a bed. The major was very good-looking and evidently quite a gay cavalier. (I happen to be one of the world's most expert sleepers!) Next day I went through exactly the same routine except that twice I was given some dry bread. he instantly banned the organization and confiscated our property without compensation. the sort of thing one used to read about in old German light novels. Had they found the Chetnik pass? The sunlight. and a large mirror. the sky seemed strangely beautiful to me. yes. "But. He looked at me somberly and gave a curious sigh. whispered in English: "This is not yet known in the town. I was ordered out and led over to the office. . It was Nazi policy to suppress all international links.) I mentioned this to the chief of the Gestapo. But about seven o'clock that evening the door opened noisily. Nothing further was heard about that. It was a wonder and. For the first time in many years I heard the inimitable accent. since they deliberately train even their own small children to be informers! The major said his orders were to send me to Belgrade for examination. clipped sentences of the old-time Prussian officer. Can I tell anyone you are here?" I thanked him. He nodded and soon went out. He asked me this and that. I mentioned my long years of effort. Practice has made me pretty good at this. the short.A Croatian detective. I could detect a touch of nostalgia. The man had once unquestionably been all that we mean by a "gentleman. coming ever nearer. well known in Germany." and one could sense the effort he was making to keep from admitting to himself-even in the small dark yours he no longer merited that title. that I should have to travel with a detective to Sarajevo. and said I would like some food. a pleasure to hear. and the major showed that he could not be alone with a woman without reverting to gallant habits. and that he himself would call for me with a car and drive me up to the capital.

. I made no attempt to escape either by quickness or by bribing. much harder. and I was again. again finished off by the police. that this. . was my real job. It is hard to explain why. and be ready. in some way still unguessed. The same Croatian detective who helped arrest me was told to escort me to Sarajevo and ordered to supply me with everything I required. Chetniks brothers . A meal with wine was ordered. Three times he took me into station restaurants and ordered anything I wanted. putting his arm over my shoulders in a protecting way. He was silent and never looked straight at me. Von Nassenstein took out his pocketbook and gave the detective a handful of thousand-dinar notes. shoved into my cell. I noticed he carried with great care a thick envelope of papers which also contained my dagger. unseeing.Blum returned and we went out into the office. but kept close beside me. and we got into an ordinary passenger train. Next morning very early a car took the detective and me to the railroad station at Gruzh. Not only that. What would it be? I must wait now. that this was meant. he opposite me. I had a window seat in a crowded first-class compartment. Von Nassenstein. except for one terrible moment in Belgrade prison. at the passing scenery that had so thrilled me when I was free. but immediately after the first shock of arrest I had the strong conviction that this was what had been intended from the beginning. ordered the now very respectful police to treat me with every kindness. but it is a fact that from now on throughout the whole business. I had the absolutely firm and sustaining certainty that I should come through alive. but more gently. much more important than the other-and much. The two Germans then left with much politeness. Neither he nor I spoke to anyone. As I gazed. now ready." . and no one suspected I was a prisoner. I hummed inaudibly: "Ready.

and locked the door. Against my protests he drove me to the prison and handed me over to the Goat prison warders. The place was closed. Wouldn't you like your fortune told?" Surprised. It was paternal in a curious way." said my cellmate. was also in the prison. And in the corner by the door a stinking. "we're awfully bored. a runner was dispatched and brought it: it was the last time I tasted spirits for thirteen months. Can't we have the girls from my old cell in here for a bit?" . mixed with ladies of light morals. "With rum?" Amused. They were obviously anything but delighted at the sudden rush of business that always follows German triumphs. open drain of a toilet. not cleaned for days or ever. I thought sadly how I had looked forward to visiting Sarajevo with good and merry friends: in all my travels I had kept this very interesting and beautiful place as a sort of bonnebouche. The place was packed with people who never before could have been thought of as criminals: respectable businessmen and simple housewives. This was the real thing in prisons. but he. at least for the present. thinking I was frightened. sure enough. "NEITHER QUICKLY FREE NOR QUITE DEAD" ARRIVED THAT EVENING in Sarajevo. A few lights sprang up. no. and the bright southern stars swung low. I said I should be delighted. She went to the little peephole in the door and yelled for the guard until at last he lumbered up. She described how every Jewish shop. Here they were safe. "No. To the large. to see it at last as a little picture framed by heavy prison bars. after all my eager anticipation. Perturbed. were slowly being engulfed by the shadows of the high surrounding mountains. It was strange. and under it some sloping boards: evidently the common bed. put us together into a small cell." she said confidentially. said soothingly. This prison was a huge old gloomy place obviously ex-Turkish. red-faced turnkey who took me upstairs to my cell I said: "I will be alone?" I hoped so.The Serbs Chose War. even the humblest. "Certainly. hoping to give it at least ten days of happy exploration. By standing on the slanting bed-board I could catch a glimpse of the huddled roofs of the lovely old town. had been instantly closed by the Germans and labeled with their usual idiotic signs such as "bloodsucker" etc. from which rose numbers of slim white minarets. unlocked the door. Ruth Mitchell 37. "we shall be dull here alone. the detective took me in a taxi to the address given by Von Nassenstein. I answered. fat policemen were tough but good-natured. "Look." and. I said tea. My cell mate told me in good German that her husband. There was a small barred window high up. Not even a bench or stool. the detective sent for a Gestapo officer While we waited I sat down on the stone steps of the drive-in. "Oh dear. These. a Jew. But the atmosphere was peculiar. and he asked if I should like anything. A Gestapo officer arrived and angrily ordered me back into the taxi. The big. now rosy with sunset. the friend away. and stood there smiling. certainly not!" He called a nice-looking woman from another cell.

all right. stinking cell. though it grew cold. She was a wild creature. suggested that the others should return to their cell. and as I was not yet hardened to them. long journey. wide. and with part of it we rolled little balls about the size of beans. I spent the whole night in frantic. small-time prostitutes except one. But it is far away-and bitter the road to the sea. blue-black hair. ." That was all. unkempt. as did all the women in those interminable prison days. They must remain here. he told us. and the movements of her delicate yet hard hands and bare feet were exquisite. a girl of less than fifteen. their places had already been filled up. But at the end-the sea."Well. all hate. Pain and sorrow. and otherwise enjoyed ourselves with childlike simplicity and sincerity. great sorrow. You think that either you will die quickly or quickly be free. Of that hideous night I will only say that. With these Maroosia. no." some obviously suffering from a certain disease but all extremely cheerful. Here was indeed something new. Maroosia. counted them in fours. She made solemn cabalistic signs. You will be neither: neither quickly free nor quite dead. Do you know what crushed bedbugs smell like? The mingling of aromas was indescribable. We settled down as best we could. Later I learned to do it myself. But. which I believe is strictly Balkan. I was not hungry. You divided them into three haphazard piles. But I soon forgot my perhaps excessive hygienic alarm in the general jollity." said he. Her large melting eyes with their sweeping lashes gazed out as from the ambush of her long. told my fortune. She danced and sang for us. There were forty-two beans. So my bread was eagerly seized upon. when he came. in a singsong voice she said: "You are on a long journey-a long. filthy cracks. as soon as the light went out. It was the first time I had seen this method. a pure-blooded Gypsy. all fire. "why not?" And soon in trooped fifteen women of the sort usually labeled "street walkers. dusky face. As I had eaten well all day. bugs in hordes crept from the wide. all passion. It was pitiful to see how eagerly the women searched for and clung to any hopeful indications. went into a kind of trance. After formal introductions we laughed. They were all quite ordinary. We sat on the floor played clapping games. now cross-legged on the floor. Wide is the sea. The wild-rose color came and went in her little heart-shaped. There were no blankets. As it was now about ten o'clock my first cellmate again shouted for the guard and. the Gypsy. more she could not or would not say. squashing slaughter. we sang and told stories. and arranged the leftovers in a certain way. seventeen on the rough floor of that small. Then. My companions slept serenely if noisily. Some chunks of bread were brought in by the guard. very wide.

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell




NEXT MORNING, after saying good-by to my cellmates, now quite affectionate, I was taken to Gestapo headquarters. There I was given a vague examination, soon over. Three officers, very brusque and busy, had orders only to send me on and were not interested. When I said I was American one elderly one unbent enough to mention that he had been some years in South America. I asked when Major von Nassenstein would be coming to take me to Belgrade. They said he had been delayed and that I must proceed next day by train. I told them he had provided money to put me into a hotel, but nothing was known about this: apparently the Croat detective had simply gone off with the cash. One of the officers nodded dismissal to the detectives. "Where are you taking me?" I asked. "Back to the prison, of course." I was determined not to go. "Please listen to me," I said earnestly. "You probably cannot even conceive what it was like last night in that old Turkish prison." I described the conditions there. Then: "You each surely have a wife or a mother or a daughter. They too might have happened to be in a foreign country when war broke out. If they had been placed in such a miserable situation, how would you have felt?" They looked slightly ashamed. "Well, we can't help it, can we?" "You can," I answered, turning to the elderly officer. "If you know South America you know what palabra ingles means. No political propaganda can change the fact that an Englishman's private word is accepted as absolutely dependable the world over. I am both American and British. You can take my parole. There must be an empty room somewhere. Put me there: I give you my word of honor not to try to escape." They consulted a moment, much annoyed. "There is an empty room in this office," said the elderly man. "You can sit there all day." He took me into an empty room, put my bag on the floor and went out, locking the door. How lovely and clean, how palatial that room seemed! Two large windows opened on the street, and I could watch the people passing. I took out my mending kit and sewed happily all day. They let me have a good wash in a clean toilet, with clean towels-how wonderful they seemed!-and even a nailbrush. At six the elderly officer came in. "You can't stay here," he said. "There is nothing to sleep on but the floor." I laughed. "What do you think I have been sleeping on for four nights? This is clean at least." He thought a moment, then dragged in an iron chest from the next room. From it he took four large tapestries, evidently recently acquired loot. I happen to be something of a connoisseur of such hangings. They were magnificent Gobelins, some of the finest I ever saw, dating from about 1770. Even the original

brocade linings, though shredded, were untouched. They would be worth in America not less than $300,000, probably more. With obviously no understanding of what they were, he folded them on the floor for a bed, rolled up a dirty old mailbag as a pillow, and clicked his heels: "Good night," and went out. I crept inside those royal blankets, chuckling to think that no emperor's mistress ever had such an expensive bed, but horrified to think of what was happening to the irreplaceable art treasures of Europe which these greedy and ignorant looters are carting away to their robbers' dens. Every art gallery and every private home is being picked clean. Everything beautiful, everything valuable to local history as well as to humanity as a whole, is being lugged away to Germany. Will these things ever be recovered? How can it be done? A house-to-house search will be necessary. One fears too that the sour meanness of a defeated people will make them prefer to destroy all ancient beauty rather than give it up. Our own ideals forbid us to destroy great works of architecture in Germany. The Germans, in contrast, destroy everything they cannot cart away. Serbia had a wonderful Byzantine heritage. Her old monasteries and churches, with their superb frescoes, were little known to the outside world, mainly because of the poor roads. These treasures of Christianity had been admired and preserved even by the Mohemmedan Turks. Yet the "Christian" Germans, we hear, after trying vainly by the latest scientific methods to remove the frescoes for transport to Germany, have set dynamite and carefully blown them forever from the eyes of men. All the Serb intensity of love and loyalty to their traditions was centered in their ancient churches. Thousands of Serbs without hesitation would have given their lives to preserve them. No crime the Germans have committed toward the Serbs is worse than this that they have done to their beautiful old churches. Next morning very early, before the rest of the office had opened, a detective came to take me to Belgrade. He was a Bosnian Moslem in red fez and behaved throughout in the most disgusting manner. He was much too haughty to carry my bag-though I succeeded in forcing him to do so. He said he had no money for food for me, but he himself ate and drank at every opportunity. In the third-class carriage he announced proudly that he was the Gestapo and was taking "a famous spy to be shot." The effect was quite different from what he had hoped. Instead of admiring him everyone plied me with so much food, bread, cheese and sausage that I could not eat it all. Two Montenegrin acquaintances of mine got in and turned pale with anxiety. The detective, full of food and drink, fell asleep, and my friends whispered that I might jump. The man lay so idiotically helpless that they motioned that they could throw him out of the window. As we were passing close along the course of a rushing river he would have been dead in an instant. I played with the idea -it had its points. But something seemed to urge me, to command me, to wait. We were in Bosnia, now a part of the "Independent State of Croatia" but populated chiefly by Serbs who were already fleeing for their lives. The new Croatian Government had been making a great fuss Over the large Moslem faction and calling them "the very flower of Croatia." One of my acquaintances, pointing to the hideously sleeping detective, mouth open, fez on one ear, said thoughtfully: "A flower!" There was a shout of laughter which woke the man up, confused and alarmed.

A man got into the crowded carriage with a guitar. He sang some lovely Bosnian songs. Then I took the instrument and sang for them the only American songs which are really loved and eagerly listened to in this part of the world: Swannee River, Old Black Joe, and The Cowboy's Lament. Several hands pressed mine with emotion. We reached Belgrade at eight o'clock. The German-imposed curfew was at that time six o'clock, and anyone seen on the street after that was shot. So we had to spend the night in the train-without water.

The sun was shining directly into my cell and no doubt glinted on my red hair. he turned his back and stalked away. mentioned his name-Major Seidl-and motioned me to a chair. For two hours I stood about. COURT MARTIAL NEXT MORNING AT SIX O' CLOCK I was marched out into the new Belgrade. And behold. by the insidious stink. "Aha. with the two s letters "S. Ruth Mitchell 39. breaking off a rose. tall. please." He offered me a cigarette. which he held under a tap. There had been rain the night before. His expression changed to a smile of the gayest. you and I." and I was put into the lockup with an iron door." drawn to resemble streaks of lightning. Instantly. Sadly I watched Serb soldier prisoners wielding brooms under raucous German orders. Suddenly the truth struck me: the Germans had not allowed the bodies under the ruins to be removed.The Serbs Chose War. officers got out with an air of lofty self-satisfaction. six weeks after the bombardment. skimpy lines-like a tall house with one room on each floor." I thought. almost moronic fury and hate. and no effort had been made to repair it. and I was at first puzzled. he reappeared with a huge bunch of roses. then horrified. The major was built on narrow. From a beautiful racing car with a Yugoslav number there stepped out a notably well-made young man. They were quiet and calmly obedient but grim. he made to throw it up to me. Close beside me they marched me (these people never seem just to walk) along a corridor and up a long flight of stairs. Unbelievable. with a glare of bestial. His gray-green uniform. unfamiliar air. this German combination of sentimentality and brutality. very broad and straight. But the hatless head looked almost deformed by its complete lack of curve at the back. Suddenly he realized that I was gazing down through prison bars: I was an enemy. foodless. His mind proved to match his body. of course. careful to see that each one received water! He looked up at me. The station was a complete wreck. One officer rose. Passing up through ruined streets. "Miss Mitchell! Sit down. He turned and showed a brutally arrogant face. . and the rubble was just sufficiently cleared from the streets to give room for traffic. We will just have a little friendly chat." He ran into the building. not even allowed to sit down. The heavily barred windows overlooked a large courtyard. and make yourself comfortable." said Major Seidl. Then German officers arrived with much "Heiling. and I was shown into a large room with two officers at desks and a pretty girl with long.S. "lost to every human feeling. with a mass of bright gold hair. Handsome cars kept driving in to park. Toward noon my door opened and two detectives appeared. the warmest flirtation and.S. fair pigtails at a typewriter. and S. "The blond beast himself. was particularly unbecoming to his sallow complexion. gave off after rain its ominous stench. urbanity itself. and the decomposing flesh still. The few people I saw and even somehow the buildings seemed to have a furtive. The buildings around it had more or less collapsed. we reached the Gestapo headquarters on the Terrazie just opposite some little restaurants where I had spent many happy evenings.

Harshly he ordered me to be taken out. He knew that I had exchanged thousands of English and German students in my years of effort to promote better understanding between the nations. quite unnecessary! Just a little chat. It was a strange performance. He knew the smallest. As my command of German was quite as good as his. Miss Mitchell-I understand you were born in America but are now British. who was not allowed to take down anything except what he himself told her." he growled. We sat sometimes for as much as a whole half-hour battling over one sentence. "Unnecessary. and including every school even kindergarten. I began to feel exhausted." For an instant his mask of urbanity cracked: "You are British. international in outlook. And then. with only two strange omissions: to my very great surprise he did not know that my brother had been General "Billy" Mitchell or that my son was in the Royal Air Force! I enlightened him about neither point. almost every day of my years in the Balkans." "I was born American and have remained American. I pretended to feel faint and to be unable to answer him. and after my night on a wooden train bench. as I was educate in many countries. starting with my most distant ancestry. Tell me.. Unless he mentioned them in exasperation himself ] had quite forgotten everyone I knew. "We have all the evidence. the American minister or the consul.I said that I wished immediately to get in touch with my representative. the most insignificant facts. He became exasperated. of course. The man had obviously been a lawyer in civil life. he trying subtly to turn my smallest utterance into something sinister. . disgusting to him. though through my marriage I also have British citizenship. Afraid I might make a slip. passing through my childhood. Now the questioning began. Every answer I gave was reworded by him and dictated to the secretary. Anything that was broad-minded. The corners of his mouth drew down until now he looked like one of those wooden human-faced nutcrackers with a moving jaw. as I had that right. He knew that my father was for many years a United States senator from Wisconsin. It was like looking into a contorting mirror. I had ever been to-quite a list. only a few questions.. "Liberal!" he kept saying with almost spitting disgust. furious that his browbeating did not seem to be as effective as it usually was with unprotected women. and he tried to make them darkly significant. I could not help thinking of that charming Irish blessing. He frowned more and more darkly. having had absolutely nothing to eat or drink since about noon the day before. the best a humorous race can bestow: "May the corners of your mouth never turn down!" Toward noon." I bowed.a "liberal"-that my grandfather had been a pioneer and builder of railroads. But he knew them. Not so he: his charm and urbanity soon began to wear very thin and then disappeared altogether. every month. When it came to names I had a complete lapse of memory. a strange battle developed.. It happens that the madder I get the more softly and calmly I speak. It was "liberal!" He knew it all. He waved my demand aside. Of course I wasn't going to have it. or for the good of humanity as a whole was contemptible.

" and. a huge pile almost a foot high. and you are likely really to learn something. eh?" "Chetniks?" I asked with puzzled surprise. Beside it lay a book about the size of a dictionary closely printed with names and addresses. But with indulgent condescension he explained how impossible it would be for these primitive cave men" to damage the great German war machine. "I should think. "Not at all the same thing. but entirely outmoded. and useless nowadays in scientific warfare. It was open at "M." he said sharply. They are unique." Well." he said slowly. "Chetnik. he had taken the badge from his own cap and pressed it into my hand." Pechanats.") It was now easy to unpack my old tale of "the book. and could not have been seriously connected with such "riffraff." He evidently expected I would deny all knowledge of them. was "just a warm Shumadiya peasant coat I had collected in my study national costumes. it seemed to work. he simply barked: "Unerhort! [Unheard-of!]" "Chetnik. He was so polite that I became very much on the ale Sure enough. remembering his words. But he had the photo of me in uniform c with badge." I corrected gently. of how I had flattered him in order to persuade him relate to me his dramatic life story." he said. When I asked again for the American consul." and it seem to go down plausibly."' . He had before him my dossier. "Yes. of course. I could see my name and that of a good friend on the Black List of Germany: her enemies who were to be exterminated. he said ". everybody wears the here in the winter!" As for my jacket. But you might learn something from their experience on this Balkan terrain: you are always so ready to learn!" The irony quite passed him by. It heartened me to know that I was in such goodly company. If ever you are traveling in Yugoslavia just show this badge and you can pass anywhere. Very different. of how. was only my riding cap. with an indescribable narrow-eyed leer of triumph. ("Three weeks. after wine." When I had "fled" from Belgrade during the bombardment I had happened to see the badge lying there and. had thought might be useful in getting through the crowds of refugees. when he came to telling why I saw the Duke. On the second day Seidl changed his tactics. my dagger lying on top. upside down. So I told him a touching tale of "that poor old dotard. I was a "lady. On the contrary I launched into an elaborate description of the Chetniks and their methods. THE VERDICT IS GUILTY MY COURT-MARTIAL was conducted during parts of four widely separated days. "that you might be quite interested in them as fighters. that. Ruth Mitchell 40. The c itself. and I was interested in his life and politics." "Same thing. "Why." I said seriously. saying: "Here." He started to dictate my story. . .The Serbs Chose War. thought. "three weeks more. of course. "but past. The word that will into the statement is 'past." "Not politics. take this memento of me. they are quite interesting. you woodenheaded braggart. as he must know.

banged the table with his fist-his ring. Again I asked." I said quietly." Sharply a detective looked up. without me!" There was a pause of uncertainty and a clearing of throats. leaning forward. though not quite so hard. Proceed. They evidently thought I intended to jump." He looked at me a moment." and tried to make me admit having seen certain people.' [It shall be written as I wish. I walked back slowly and sat down again.' I too rose. Once in visiting a monastery that was under repair I had been so struck by the beautiful stonework that I had put in a corner of my notebook the name of the architect in charge. making a dent. the very picture of amazement. They didn't even bother to answer. They asked me a few days of my visits to different parts of the country. On the third day the atmosphere had entirely changed. Then he burst into a mocking laugh. I said: "This statement is my statement. "I see you don't need my assistance: you obviously know much more about all this than I do. Apparently the whole country had been searched for this unfortunate man. . "Es wird geschrieben wie es mir gefallt." They consulted and again began to dictate to the girl. please. Suddenly to my own surprise I heard myself humming quite audibly: "Ready. They would not believe the true answer. and if a word goes in which I have express denied I will not sign it." he billowed. I pray to heaven that his life was not sacrificed by my carelessness in overlooking his name. who looked very frightened. I will speak and sign only the truth. I could not have done anything more stupid and dangerous: these men were of local birth-they knew that song! As nonchalantly as I could I let it run into the slightly similar German tune. about ten days later. . which I had "forgotten.His patience snapped: this arguing had gone far enough. She now threw me a pitying glance. I had always smiled in a friendly way at her-she was obviously a Yugoslav of German extraction. "Das Wort ist 'Politik. "Oh. In dictating. Tannenbaum. On the fourth day. and that the result could only be-a foregone conclusion. therefore. crossing the room to the window. stood looking out." . they now so completely garbled my words that it was absurd. demanded to see my consul. Throughout the whole of the proceedings this name had been shot at me over and over againshowing what frightful mistakes can occur. I too banged the table. I too leaned forward. "What do you think-do you believe it matters whether you sign it or not?" It sounds much nastier in German: "Was glauben Sie? Bilden Sie sich ein es ware nicht ganz egal ob Sie unterschreiben oder nicht?" So now I knew that this was all just a farce. The word is 'politics. now ready . And they all rose as I went out. as I was waiting to be taken in. I rose and. "Don't worry. only a pumping expedition. he rose and. All others had been carefully erased. one quite young. I "could not remember. And in a voice even lower than ever. Suddenly. It was obviously useless to argue any more. please. and the young officer made a movement to spring up and seize me. There were three officers present. I knew that now would come the decision: today my fate would be decided. Hardly anything more was said. Now must stop! Glaring furiously at me. I noticed. meaning to employ him if I built a house there.

"The charge is considered proved. The dossier was again before them. Then. There was a pause. "I will say this." They looked up." (He said "Geheim Polizei [Secret Police]." The youngest officer had scribbled a quick note which he passed along and the other two glanced at. my friends. then darkly at me. "You were not aware. come into my head?) "One is a world figure [they nodded in acknowledgment]. But this time the dagger lay on my side of the desk. Every military man will know what it meant. they were the brothers-in-law of my sister-in-law. If you shoot me when I am not guilty. quite actual and real. so firmly facing death in the prison." I knew then that I had saved my life at least for a few days: it was obvious they could not risk a perhaps serious reprimand-I knew the case would now have to be referred to Berlin. and both are very powerful in America. just the faintest hesitation. without preliminaries. that Admiral Richard Byrd and United States Senator Byrd are my brothers-in-law." I said softly. nothing I could find to say that could affect their fatal resolution? Suddenly it seemed just as if something sitting on my left shoulder whispered in my ear." thought I. I think. then: "You will know in due course. They let me stand for some minutes without paying any attention to me. "it is sometimes an honor to die [Meine Herren. my girl." then corrected himself. If you know Americans you know that they are greatly moved by principles. "When will it be carried out?" A hesitation. I did not know these two gentlemen nor had they even passed through my thoughts for years. [All three made sounds of disgust. I cannot help thinking it was intended as a compliment." (That was not quite true." .] My death might even be the actual small first cause of America entering the war against you. The girl did not look at me. prepare to use them now! Not many more hours to live.Again the same three officers. "Gentlemen." "I have not yet been informed of what I am accused. They looked at each other silently. zu sterben ist manchmal eine Ehre]. Major Seidl barked shortly: "Fur Schuldig erklart [Guilty]." I said slowly: "If I die-it is certain that many German women will weep. attentive." I said. I thought of the Serbs. you may be sure my relatives will throw themselves with energy into working against Germany. fatter than ever." Was there nothing. Whether by design or accident I do not know. Germany is straining every nerve and is pouring out millions upon millions of marks trying to keep America out of the war. They tried not to show that they were alarmed at this perhaps important news. "if you have wits. at this most critical moment of my life.) "Now. "We have complete proof that you are an agent of the British Intelligence Service. but I noticed instantly that the point was toward me. or you would have mentioned it." said Seidl woodenly. Why had they suddenly.

The report must therefore have been put about by the Germans themselves. Why ? Did they think it would have a lowering effect on the morale of the Fighting Serbs? If anything.I walked out between my two guards. The Serbs know. . I hope and believe it had the opposite effect. I mention those details because of puzzling developments. The clothes I was alleged to have worn were described. that I would gladly die if that could in any way cause them to fight harder. and I tried not to show how wobbly I felt. and my "last words" I did say as above. Before long the news was spread over Serbia that I had been shot. all Germans. they knew well then. Only four people were present.

slip. but never was an opportunity allowed to pass without such a screaming denunciation. "Americans and English-the b s. some weeping." etc. Surlily businesslike while the detectives were there. His assistant. a wretched degenerate boy called Honig. please remember. Richter One of the detectives signed the huge book. Then both departed. after four hours' severe questioning. the miserable cowards. some steel filing cabinets. Two Gestapo detectives were ordered to take me to prison. It was designed. "English. I was hurried down the Terrazie. slammed and relocked the door. roughly cobbled yard where prisoners were languidly working in the hot sun. The women surged forward and made desperate efforts to peep inside. It contained two beds against one wall. up some stone steps. revolver on hip. This drove him into a frenzy. We hurried across the narrow. The guard. along a short stone passage. It is hard to believe. Ruth Mitchell 41. what did they think they could ever accomplish against Germany!" he yelled. under a deep archway. I was so tired that I was afraid I might make ." I said peacefully. I was in the infamous Gestapo prison of Belgrade. and the door swung narrowly open I was pushed through. to empty my pockets. through a small court and to an iron door in a high blank wall. apparently. a wash basin. barked at them angrily. and entitled to be treated as al internee. "American too. having been given nothing at all to eat or drink since the previous afternoon. the detectives following.The Serbs Chose War. to condition prisoners for the horrors of that prison. heh? English. through another iron door and into a small office. I was allowed to take absolutely nothing with me. I realized that it was considered a waste of trouble even to transport my small bag I was not expected to need anything for long. Through a large door. Some looked up from their desultory sweeping to give me little secret nods of courage. sycophantically applauded his clever cracks. . to spell my name. WOMEN AGAINST THE GESTAPO ON THE DAY of my arrival in Belgrade. and in the middle a desk at which sat the chief warder. The detectives close against my shoulders. A group of anxious women stood there. The detectives roughly elbowed them aside and knocked loudly A key rattled. It was obvious to me at once that the man was a psychopathic case-as proved to be true. I therefore became silent and pretended to be fainting. bolts were drawn. the instant the) were gone the chief began screaming at me. rifle on shoulder. across the street.

emerged magnificently. a Russian woman of aristocratic connections whom I had known as secretary to the Daily Mail correspondent. for almost three months without the slightest explanation and without once being questioned. In a dark corner crouched Tatiana Alboff.The show proving a flop. We had weaklings. unlocked a door between the office and the front door of the prison. they were reluctant to have their last names known. All the other cells in the prison were remote and calm by comparison. fourteen women. Through this trial the Serbian women. well known and popular in Belgrade. The thing that struck me first was the careful standard of good manners that was maintained in the cell. There were a few crooked nails for coats. Hence we could see or hear everything that went on in that prison except in the cellar and on the upper floors. But they were Russians"White" Russians who eagerly proclaimed themselves to all who would listen as haters of the present Russian regime and devoted friends of the Nazis. we had the most contemptible informers. This cell was the only one between the office and the entrance to the prison. Often I wondered how anyone could call the Serbs "primitive" or "uncouth. When I was shoved in that day. Terence Atherton. they had no idea why. Through a space below the wooden screens we had a small but clear view of the yard and the single gate. we had cowards. and snapping it open again when it was noticed by the bellowing guard. There was a stovepipe hole in the wall between our cell and the office. some crying softly. uncowed and firm in the face of death. On one side there were two narrow slatted cots (later removed) and on the other loose straw covered with blankets in all colors and conditions of raggedness. Everyone entering or leaving had to pass our door." The Serbian women were very much the opposite: calm. But there was still a peephole with a tin slide. This in spite of the mixture of classes and types. In the heat and the foul air it was our constant fight to keep the door open to prevent the women from fainting wholesale. heavily barred. A charming elderly woman rose and welcomed me. When we were not to see or be seen by new arrivals. However debased the behavior of the "masterfolk" guards. A string stretched across a corner was hung with gray towels. . for understandable reasons. All the women were introduced to me with ceremony but by their first names since. the women never once indulged in any loud quarreling. I heard the life story of each in turn. The trial-by-fire of the prison experience tested every fiber of racial and personal character. like several others. among whom must be included the Sephardic Jewesses of long local descent. almost all Serbs. were sitting about in utter dejection. She was Lidia. not one scene of violence. That was all. It reminded me of the old tales about Queen Marie Antoinette in the Bastille during the French Revolution. They had been there. with wooden screens fastened outside in such a way that little light or air could enter. however horrible the conditions of the prison. She made signs to me not to recognize her. It was about fifteen feet by twenty and had two small windows high up. the guard would slam the door. a very large pail with a lid. intensely warmhearted. Her husband was also in the prison. and put me into the cell which I was to occupy-but for one interval in the condemned cell-for over two months. I found a way of closing this from the inside upon occasion. Honig led me out.

we heard. as it was. She wept solidly for those ten days at the "disgrace" of being in prison. This handsome woman. The rest of us considered it. a one-time great beauty so spoiled by wealth that she was actually unable to comb her own hair. looking little more than a girl. The other women who died walked firmly and silently to their death before the guns.There were only two exceptions: one the wife of a leading Belgrade banker. She was in prison for only ten days. The second exception was a Belgrade widow of thirty whose husband had fought for the Communists in Spain. in the absence of her mother had become unmanageable and was running wild in the streets. had to be carried to her execution screaming the name of her child-the wayward child she was leaving alone in a terrible world. . her offense being her "impertinence" in asking at her town house. for some linen to take to her country house. requisitioned by the Germans. Her daughter of thirteen. a great honor.

It cheered us all up. the second warder. and then we get down and scrub the cement. is in a narrow passage leading to the one toilet and one urinal that serve both the office and thirty to forty women. We had rich women in the cell whose cooks sent in beautifully prepared food-eaten. the corridor.) Now relatives begin to collect at the gate. cold water only. The men would wink and nod. of course. standing in line with the men. and never for an instant are we certain of being out of sight of the men guards. (In the end I got severe rheumatism in one knee. rifle on shoulder. stamps into the cell and yells: "Aufstehen!" (In most Gestapo prisons it is much earlier." He was taken aback. Now the "housework": the straw is aired. At seven in the morning a guard. The cement floor is always running with splashed water. and some of whom meant well enough at first. There are no women wardresses. So one day I said to him: "You can't imagine how glad I am to have learned so much about housekeeping. "That will be never.) The wash place. The men are washing at the tap in the yard. and energetically we bang them up and down to get rid of bugs. they knew what I meant. It will be very useful when I am outside again.) We jump up from the moldy straw and hurry to stand in line at the door. the guardroom. and we stand with wet feet. after Russia entered the war. After the first few days even the most fragile women are eager for the work: it is the only chance of exercise. I got a lot of fun out of this-and so did he: he used to sneer delightedly as he passed. GUESTS OF THE GESTAPO IT IS UNLIKELY that many of my readers have been in a prison. I believe. Those whose relatives have brought them breakfast share with the rest of us. the nastier they became. in Vienna. So I shall describe the routine. gun on hip. In the weeks before the American consul got word of my being in prison I received no food. We sweep the office. The women in the prison used to try to hang a hand out of the window. and no bowls. has been in the Gestapo prison of Belgrade. All day long there is a group of these desperate people hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of some loved one when the gate opens a crack. Ruth Mitchell 42. the floor washed with so much water that it too is always damp. and no other American woman. If there has been much sniping in the town we can tell at once by the excitement and fury of the guards.The Serbs Chose War. Katitsa and I polish the riding boots of Hahn. We carry out into the yard and dump into an outside urinal the night pails. Sometimes discipline is lax and we all run together and even meet women from other cells. hoping it would be recognized. and the weaker they were. We take our blankets out into the yard to shake. and to refuse meant hurt feelings. I used to wave madly up and down every morning. But the rabid Nazi poison was injected into their blood. of course. . (They were local boys of German descent. on the floor. very few indeed in a Gestapo prison. with the ironical result that I had to eat much too much. But after that he passed by without looking. Two by two the guard allows us to pass through the chain across the door and to run along the passage to the wash place. I had a very ragged bright red blanket which. with two taps. four-thirty." he grunted. Each of them insisted on my sharing with her.

They are round the corner of the building. The clothes were sometimes exceedingly dirty and often-how often! -covered with blood. ." "Here is a good recipe for . some of them very beautiful girls. One day I counted fifty-six full pails of fresh water carried about fifty yards in the broiling sun. Katitsa was the expert at this as at everything useful. we can hesitate a moment." "My little girl said . Back and forth I walked to the tap in the yard. out of sight of the gate guard. pass a quick word with men on the same errand. however. .Now comes the long day's drag." etc. There was no one else who spoke Once a week there is laundry: if you have pull with a warder it means a whole day out of doors. .. . is almost completely absent. Yet those washdays were our pleasantest times in that prison. etc. in another in French. . At this blessed. if two are in love. Being appointed "head woman" by the prison governor. in another in German. take a quick pull at a cigarette or. But we had one really charming love affair. Risque behavior. conducted themselves! How gentle were the men! Passionate surges of feeling were. Most were meaningless. . How well those women. hear the latest news brought in by last night's prisoners. We are eager for any excuse to get outside. I was so hopeless at the washing that I could only carry water and did it gladly to keep my muscles in order. The guards out of sight. There is no occupation except endless talk: "My house is like this . of course. by the garbage cans above which the clotheslines are stretched. then I carried the dirty water back to a near-by drain. with a pail to heat water. There are a long wooden trough and a little fire on a few bricks. I am tempted to take advantage of my position always to carry out the dust to the garbage cans. hopeless homesickness is expressed in one corner in Serbian. even exchange a kiss. smelly spot. only natural in that hothouse atmosphere of repressed emotion. . The bitter. we chatted and laughed under the bright sky between the narrow high walls.

She used my pathetic stub of a pencil. . They were on smooth toilet paper. alone.the same pencil with which. (Sewed up in the pleats of my skirt. carefully saved from before my arrest. Her days were filled with composing long. Trudi was dissolved in misery. Even a minute of misery saved was worth any trouble. And in her pile of blankets notes slipped back and forth while long looks of passion were exchanged. Time enough to endure disaster when it had really happened! I told him he had to . It did not stop them. whispered to her quite innocently that he had seen the boy's name on a list for execution. every one. as we swept or scrubbed the corridor. For a few minutes while she shook the blankets (ordinarily we did it in twos and made them crack to shoot out the bugs) and he brushed his teeth. I stood in the gathering gloom below the window and wrote my notes. gracefully worded letters in the smallest writing on scraps of any kind of paper I could steal from the guardroom. It was a genuine heart attack. and both were so nice that we all took a thrilled interest in encouraging the affair. If it is in the summer. He told how he was caught trying to find his mother in Serbia. je vous adore!" Little Trudi lived in a world apart. They walked the few steps into the yard "by accident" side by side. He dreamed of what someday they two would do together. nous deux. each evening at dusk. He had failed. perhaps because the boy looked so happy. we'll go to the mountains and on our skis we'll whiz down the snowy slopes-when we are free again. we'll swim and talk on the golden sands. we used to arrange that Trudi would emerge with blankets to shake just as he was coming down the stairs. There was none in the Belgrade prison. we two. If that sounds very unromantic to you." he wrote. although in Germany I was several times searched to the skin. wrapped away from our common miseries.The Serbs Chose War. Though her letters were not found and she was not suspected. His fine head of hair was shaved. They were in French. A spy became suspicious. If it is in winter that we are free again. "Libres. Trudi fell quite desperately in love with the most attractive boy in the prison. Trudi fainted. but we were all even more careful than before.) Sometimes Trudi read parts of his letters to her special intimates. libres et ensemble. So by a system of watchers. "nous serons libres. Since he was considered likely to attempt to escape. One day a "trusty.. TRUDI TRUDI WAS A RICH Little GIRL who came into the prison wearing exquisite underwear which the women loved to examine. And in the warm nights .. we will go to one of the little islands on the Adriatic coast and all day long. a rosy dream. At once I put every signal system in motion-you may be sure we had plenty-and got hold of the man near the garbage cans. I was simply furious at his thoughtlessness. They fell in love at first sight. je vous respecte. and little muttered words of love. you don't understand the magic of romance. handsome Czech student who was lodged on the third floor." Always he ended: "Je vous admire. Ruth Mitchell 43. among whom I was lucky to be included.." an opera singer who sometimes worked in the office. She had big blue eyes and golden hair which we took turns combing. the boy was beaten until his eyes were black and blue. they would continue to gaze with passion. . je vous aime. he was never allowed down into the yard except to wash in the morning under guard. He was a dark. I got them all out.

to what infamous fate . .tell her he had seen the list again and found he had mistaken the first name: that it was a different man altogether. He did it well. . and our lovely little Trudi was all tremulous relief and hope and smiles again. That gentle. fiery lover now molders under a brown blanket which all Trudi's love can never shake. . And she. I told him he had to make it sound convincing. But the information proved only too true. the little beauty-she was transported to Germany.

very cold. I try to think: if I tell the truth. False. The women were paralyzed with fright: "So your time too has come!" I got up dizzily. this is farce! It takes me a moment to readjust my mind. Mr. unheard of. they stare at me: I hold them in the hollow of my hand. in my nightie. in my absolutely unshakable belief that I should come through alive. facing the "big noise" himself. happy marriage. one smile at my special friends-dear Katitsa. This is a German prison. I can hardly hear as he goes on: "That.. especially fruit and cigarettes. for all their trouble. good luck... My daughter . in spite of the sternest orders... IS IT THE END? AT NOON lunches are handed in at the gate and we are ordered back into the cells. chief of the Gestapo for Serbia. In the bright light outside stood a glittering array of officers. Like lightning thoughts dart through my head: Disgusting way to be shot. of course. Steady now-l am an American. White with fear and fury.The Serbs Chose War. four cigarettes in a noticeable little box marked "For the Use of His Majesty's Navy.." I am stupefied. Ruth Mitchell 44. in my daily basket of food. In a German prison stealing is absolutely unknown. my son .. a large. after all. My son . Germans do not steal. with two glittering aides and surrounded by the head warders and guards. the men who had done the wholesale stealing.. and we see how the best of things. Then Krauss thunders: "You have had the incredible impertinence [unerhorte Frechheit] to complain that something was stolen from food sent to you. eternal thanks!) used to send me. Why don't they move? We stand-it seems to me for years. are stolen by the warders and the guards. After he discovered I was there-of which more later-the American consul.. I am in the corridor. many children-whom I shall never see. What have you to say ?" I was prepared for anything-for tragedy... with great noise the door was thrown open. had fed on the best sent in for the starving prisoners. is impossible. false. We try to watch. I look around at the head warders. all these intuitions. she'll be all right. One glance round." They were stolen so regularly that at last I risked. fumbled for my coat and shoes. Rankin (to whom and to Mrs.. The glaring eyes seem to fill the whole air as in a nightmare. if you like-but this. her face pinched with horror-to try to show how much I love them. So I had been wrong... I feel very small and lonely-and cold. what will happen. extremely imposing man. "Mitchell Ruth!" a voice bellowed. I must not be less firm than my Serbs. Rankin. writing on the basket label: "Hide cigsstealing!" Suddenly about midnight one night when we were fitfully asleep. they stand and glare at me.. Colonel Krauss. her husband's a doctor. not just . Instead of marching straight out. The table on which the lunches are examined by the warders is directly outside the windows.

I hold Katitsa's warm and gentle hand and dream . The hangdog warders slink after him. of woods and long roads winding and the wind blowing-free-on the mountainside.. I return to my bed of straw. those who "only meant well. "Not one cigarette is to enter this prison or any other German prison.. the chief warder.. How nice and homelike it feels! How pleased I am to see the look of delight on the faces of the women as they relax with a sigh and a muttered prayer! The door is slammed and locked. and the men prisoners look at me as if at last we had a real criminal among us. cigarette-starvation and discipline are severe. Stammering. all food will certainly be me but to all of us? Dimly I grasp only one thought: if I accuse these vicious bullies. Cigarettes reappear. cringing. I say: "No doubt-no doubt the cigarettes were only taken for distribution to-" "What?" shouts Krauss. . no doubt to be put through a grilling." stammers Richter. I feel terribly sorry and ashamed: I have joined the great majority. . For a few days. . alas. our general misery will only increase. tell the truth. turning slowly toward the warders. and the stealing is worse than ever. "Cigarettes? Cigarettes? CIGARETTES? What does this mean?" "Well-well. the best prisoners-that is-" "No cigarettes!" thunders Krauss." But in three days discipline breaks down again. Unheard of I UNHEARD OF!" He stamps off towards the office. "sometimes in the yard the guards-that is.

a furniture maker. I had to change the black lapel squares on this jacket. First. Gaily yodeling. as silent witnesses of hideous cruelty. "Louder. The chief warder. You can't soften a stone: you can only grind it to powder-and blow it away. His face was literally like a death's-head. so that we knew just what point he had reached on his rounds. He was a great dandy. upon the momentary moods of overbearing brutes. perhaps unique. We had two while I was there. like lightning. in no way softened by happiness-in-love. He never succeeded in looking this small.The Serbs Chose War. nothing was a precedent for any thing else.. It was he who taught the young recruits. among them our own little Trudi. It was staffed by half-witted local scum. The food and water we received.. the very air we breathed. to scream. proud girl in the face. His eyes blazed in moments of fury with a really insane glare. and second warder-as well as the guards. For that very reason he hated her all the more. returned. He was a healthy-looking sportsman always bragging about his skiing. It was he who called Katitsa and me out in the middle of the night to wash blood from his new pale-green jacket: blood which had spurted on him from the freedom-loving victims he was torturing-our own friends. SMILYA LEAVES ME A SON THIS PARTICULAR PRISON was exceptional. and I have the removed ones here now before me. the yodeler. how old habits of respect warred with viciousness. Evidently he had been a good one. or did she hope to produce a brood of just such criminals? Wieser was temporarily replaced by a reservist who in civil life had obviously been the kind of shopkeeper for whom "the customer is always right. They were therefore chosen for their merciless ferocity from the Volksdeutsche. "Put the fear of the devil himself into the b---s! Louder! Louder! LOUDER!" . He was a sadist of the worst description. The governor was seldom in evidence. he couldn't quite manage it. Ruth Mitchell 45. in that it was an amateur affair hastily organized. Almost no rules held for more than a day. louder!" he yelled (through the stovepipe hole in the wall between the cell and our office we could listen). Richter. It was necessary that the three heads-governor. who were ludicrously unsure of themselves and who therefore vacillated violently between needless ferocity and lazy apathy. had been a carpenter. be able to speak Serbian. Was one to pity the woman. it scarcely interrupted his singing. He was soon removed. depended on the sour vengefulness or temporary satiation of the guards. he went off to his wedding. We were unable to remove the stains. mostly once small artisans or grocery boys. of course." He forgot himself to the extent of being polite to some of the older ladies. for he had been employed by the richest women in Belgrade. It was interesting to watch his behavior to her.. a man called Wieser. When he struck. He made a habit of yodeling gaily across all the horror. and Wieser. For though he eagerly desired-we could see him screwing up his courage-to scream and rave at her as at the rest of us. chief. people of German descent living in Yugoslavia.

as in a trance. As on our round we came up to the line.-The Germans are in fact so identified with this vice in the Balkans that. He undid the chains and the lock. leaving only a mechanical body behind in a faded blue dress. the guard looked through the peephole. . she went down the stairs. The guard yelled at me to walk alone. I believe. I too stood still. Stiffly. My friend Smilya V. "your husband sent you his love.'s husband. Nothing is either sacred or ideal to them. my dear Smilya. Good God. with hand negligently under his rifle strap. We were at the top of the stone steps leading to the door. I walked behind her in terrible anxiety. There are no standards of right or wrong. Suddenly a small face peered round his body. He seemed to be always a member of the firing squads. as if her spirit had flown. He barked at them to get back. just looking at him. in Albania especially. She took her place in the line. He sometimes brought back last messages with a sneer. When some of the other girls began to weep. She stopped. Laughing. most charming man in the prison. give my love to my wife and my son!" "Ho. evidently a friend. Once he put heavy leg chains on Katitsa. Nazism has bred in them an almost unbelievable cynicism and contempt for their women.He was a pervert of the kind so common among the Germans that one almost expects it. however. He was constantly telling women that their husbands or sons were to be shot that night and then eagerly watching for a twitch of agony. It was wasted: she was absolutely calm. he laughed heartily. He laughed. then continued his conversation." he said. who traded on his position to wreak on us every sort of mean cruelty. cried out to him just before the death volley: "Honig. Slowly she sank to her knees. it is simply called "the German vice. When they piled up the corpses. and I was just behind her. Smilya's boy. who had several times come to look at his parents from a distance." Richter's pet among the boy guards was the creature called Honig. Not one step dared we take over that line or we were yelled at by the guard. Would she fall? I ran forward and took her arm. Round and round and round in the hot sun we walked. plus female perversion. guilty of no other crime than being a patriot Serb. We were at that moment on our way in single file to take our exercise in the yard. "Just to teach him." Honig shouted next morning. He opened the gate and stood holding it with one foot while. Honig described how he had put three bullets into his stomach." And Smilya. unaware of the prevalence of this perversion in Germany. There was a half-circle painted in white about ten feet round the gate. The Englishspeaking peoples are. well deserve it. looked at him sternly-as God will someday look at him. that curly head: it was Nenad. She took it with stern calm. A loud knock on the great prison gate. he conversed with someone outside. you Smilya. the most loved girl in the cell. The women outside surged forward as usual to try to look in. who in these days of subservient man-fawning. Smilya caught sight of the little face. Her thin body was strained as if with wires. we knew those little bright eyes. he had opened one eye. Yawning lazily. the finest-looking. I myself heard him delightedly tell other guards how a little Jew we all knew had fallen unwounded in the split second before the volley.

shrill cry of "Mother!" he threw himself round Smilya's neck. her eyes huge. With a light. struggling desperately. [By the standards of these poorer countries I was. to help you with Nenad's education? You know it.] Nenad shall have the best education.gone." "Don't you know that you can count on me. Not a muscle moved in Smilya's face. I promise you that. I took her arm and walked on. Slowly she shook her head." she whispered. I raised Smilya to her feet and." And desperately I launched into a description of how well the boy would do at school." A shuddering sigh. rules or no rules. Without a word or a tear she held him to her as in a vise. Think what a fine man he will one day be. you will live. surly turned his back. depend on me absolutely ? Don't you know I will be happy. Smilya. If I painted too brightly what I would do for the boy (I meant every word of it) she might think she was leaving him in good hands and to a better future than she herself could provide. dragged him. how he would study hard to become a splendid man like his father-anything I could think of. "so good he was! So good! The best father. He shall have everything that " Suddenly I hesitated. while his eyes darted eagerly about. What chance for Nenad?" "Listen. "Father-where is Father?" he whispered. seized the child by the collar. Smilya. almost frantic with despair. She looked at me strangely." she muttered. threw him out of the gate and slammed it. "Smilya. "All wrong. the best husband in the world. "what chance? His father is gone-and I too will soon be dead. So good. so good!" she kept repeating while sobs seemed to run all up and down her thin body. "you have only one thing to think of now: your boy.. I have money. you must live for Nenad now. She just clutched him tightly while she glared like a tiger at the guard-who turned with a curse. . "What chance of that. She might feel that there was no longer any reason for her to remain alive. "I-I do not care to live-now he is dead. Nenad -only think of your beautiful Nenad.. of course. The frightful tension was broken. darling Smilya. away." she breathed. dear Smilya. searching for a sight of his father. "No one to look after us-now he is. all wrong! You have a great duty now: to bring up your boy as your husband would have wished to have you bring him up." I said.Like lightning the boy jumped over the guard's leg and shot into the yard." She looked at me strangely. Smilya. perhaps slightly ashamed. dearest Smilya. "So good. wealthy. the tears at last running down her face. The best son to his mother. proud. The guard. I was in a terrible quandary: the dreadful thought struck me that she might commit suicide.. searching.

For my gentle Smilya was dangerous to the mighty German Reich. was: "The boy is in the country. He is now my son Nenad. Smilya went out to her death. well looked after. Though he would not be able to cash the check until the end of the war. hesitated to write the transfer of Nenad to me. He evidently did so trust me. she might be tainted by her husband's love of liberty. the husband she loved so dearly. perhaps foolishly. November 1942. But I simply did not dare to suggest it for fear such a transfer document would break her last hold on life. So this quiet woman. and Serbian families are very clannish. as she did. content-oh. serene.It was for me actually the most difficult situation I faced in the prison. But in her heart she gave me her boy. her husband." . hesitated until it was-too late. I hoped the lawyer would trust me sufficiently-although I actually did not know him personally-to furnish the funds himself and follow my instructions. had to die. that the Germans would kill her. she might be filled with an "unnatural" hatred for his murderers. He is mine. through special channels. happy and eager -to rejoin. as she truly believed.. who never in her life had had any other interest or thought but of her home. they hold onto related children with great family pride. from Mary P. How? Why. I was extremely anxious for her to sign the boy over to me. and her child. If he lives until I can find him he will be brought up in the pride of such parents. I too really believed. for my last news. He was now with an aged great-aunt. She was dangerous to the greedy dreams of a brutal race for possession of the earth. I therefore. I managed to send out of the prison to a dependable lawyer a check for a considerable sum to be used for my son Nenad. If she died I wanted to have the boy.

they would start shooting in the cellar. To the end these jacks-in-office were curiously uncertain how they ought to treat me. military bands. At last. the only one between the office and the steps to the cellar. Towards midnight the radio suddenly rose to a fearful roar. one day with icy cynicism he told Lidia. And for four days Hahn drank steadily and could not eat a mouthful. It was always something silly: "You are an educated woman: is it true that men are descended from monkeys? Will the monkeys go to heaven too? Ha ha!" He used to go in for such absurdities as trying to see which of us could jump up the most steps. Their attitude toward me was expressed by Hahn when. It was horrible to watch the struggle in that officer's soul-to see what the fiendish Nazi doctrine has done to a once self-respecting race. I knew that Hahn himself knew well that his friend could not possibly have been even cognizant of the affair. I knew. I hoped that it had been said only with the never-ending intention of cowing us. In the dim reflection . But no-this time it was true. because I had to place and remove his meals.The Serbs Chose War. Hahn drank more and more. As conditions in the prison became steadily more frightful." I assured him I was neither. That night the Nazis shot 128 Serbs. He had a sort of boisterous affection for me. Hahn made his friend drink two bottles of brandy. but he blamed it on his stiff Prussian boots. blue-eyed Teuton. The door of our cell. a German of local birth and therefore only slowly becoming thoroughly permeated with the Nazi poison. "Mitchell Ruth!" would ring out over the noise. fair. "In America?" he asked eagerly. whose charming wife and children had been allowed to visit him. I will give you a job with my horses. The office radio blared practically without ceasing from early morning until late at night. He was perhaps the most interesting study in the prison. Came the order that this man was to be shot for alleged complicity in sabotage. Several times he did small kindnesses to the women but was furious if thanked. When the radio went very loud she would know it was going to start. In the fight between decency and beastliness. and it was strange to watch him slowly deteriorate. with a puzzled look in his eye. A typical. who cleaned the office (I wasn't allowed in. I beat him. At first he was really friendly toward me. because they couldn't trust me not to look at the papers!). he said: "You are either a great lady or a great spy-or both. Among the prisoners was an old friend of his. fawning and browbeating by turns. News (only interesting for what it did not say). the former was slowly but thoroughly wiped out. he announced. He taught me a good jujitsu trick or two. and worst of all an everlasting tinkle of little dance tunes went on and on maddeningly. so that he was taken out almost unconscious to execution. he had obviously been born with decent instincts. His behavior was so good at first that one day I said to him: "After the war is over you will be wanting a job. Ruth Mitchell 46. was wide open because of the suffocating heat. and I had to go to the office to see what he wanted. that they had decided it was a waste of time to take those to be executed out to the park. That night. I tried to prevent word of the expected cellar butchering from getting round among the women-in vain. not all from our prison. HAHN THE SECOND-IN-CHARGE of the prison was a reserve officer named Hahn.

came Hahn. In the morning these would be gone. Towards morning I climbed to the window and peered out through the crack under the wooden shutter. no cry. this alone can explain the great number of desertions from the German Army. their eyes wide. long-buried bell had struck in his brain. almost all young men who arrived as Nazi idealists. An engine started noisily and drew away. there came an unforgettable sight: springing. At one time it was said that there was an organized unit of German soldiers fighting on the side of the Chetniks against the Nazis. past the lighted wide. or our friends. their faces drawn with indescribable agony and dread. There. whispered prayers. He threw in a wolfish glare and then sprang on. There was silence in that hell house. Certain it is that the number of desertions was so large that printed notices were posted on lampposts throughout the country." The Serb peasants hung coats on their fences and clotheslines. Swinging in his hand was a rifle with a silencer attached to it. low doorway in the three-foot-thick wall. husbands. half drunk. The radio stopped. There was no sleep for us that night. to be soul sickened by the horror to which their cynical doctrine must logically and inevitably lead. almost all the men in the cellar were our relatives. only strangled. You see. in the wan moonlight of the dimly lit yard. Then the endless slow stamp of the guards began again-up and down. Then. Soon there came the trample of heavy-booted feet in the yard.from the brightly lit corridor my women-there were twenty of us now packed tightly in the cell-sat up on the straw. it was too much trouble to haul out the bodies. Before the door he hesitated for a fraction of a second-as if some small. announcing: "Anyone who supplies a German soldier or officer with civilian clothes will be shot. and grunts as the corpses were removed. fathers. crouching like a hunting beast. up and down the corridors. Sometimes decency won. Hahn did not return. in whose souls native decency fought with Nazi viciousness. No other sound. his fair hair hanging over his glittering eyes. in their place a few pennies and a German soldier's jacket to be quickly burned. The radio did not drown the shots. sons. Yet next morning the fellow sneeringly announced: "Oh. dry sobs and frantic. Easier after all to take them out on the hoof!" There were many Germans. on a bench by the gate sat Hahn in an attitude of utter despair. just-dance music and thirteen muffled shots. like Hahn. The Serbian forests were said to be full of these deserters. . Slowly we counted as if each one were exploding in our hearts.

Out stumbled her thin. With her regiment of infantry she marched ten days until they were surrounded and captured and her feet gave out. This really magnificent old lady of sixty-seven.The Serbs Chose War. and that he was to be removed to a hospital. her efforts to catch any smallest glimpse of him. sometimes brutally skylarking or joking. a White Russian. then surly he agreed. with short-cropped white hair. They looked at each other speechless with old and well-worn love. So. He died a few days later. is going to die. Complaining only made them worse. For the sake of the mother who bore you and the principles she once taught you. or sleeping. whom she loves as your mother loved your father. weather-beaten. supported by a stick. These men were always in and out of the cell. Her anxiety about him. with which I knitted-with love in every stitch-two pullovers. A few days later a friend visited her. Will you permit her to be in the yard as he passes through?" At that time he was still friendly to me. She sat beside him. ORPHANS OF THE GUNS WE WOMEN were never out of sight of the male guards who could see us either through the peep-hole or through the opened door. He did not look up. Her husband. She expected him to die: she must be allowed to speak to him before he went. in spite of the forbidding yells of the guards. He hesitated as if about to say something sharp. She went into the lavatory. misery forgotten. Then the guards would stand teasing for hours in the cell at night. I have them still and shall always treasure them. He fell on the bench. She put her hand on his arm. I got Flora into the yard. was one of the two Englishwomen who had been officers in the Serbian Army in the last World War. bringing women's clothes. She sent me back into the prison some wool. She was an officer still. I said to him: "This woman is an army officer as you are an officer. We had never a moment's privacy while dressing. She was free for a few weeks and was then brought into our cell. Her husband. Roughly he was removed. were agonizing. We spent pleasant hours. She is oldas old perhaps as your own mother. desperately ill. She possessed a wonderful fund of Serbian swear words which she launched at the guards with such devastating effect that while she was there they behaved almost respectfully. dying husband. She was taken in an ambulance to a German military prison hospital. many were Jewesses who at first were given only ten days in prison for not wearing the yellow armband. and when this war came to Serbia. But Flora Sandes knew how to handle them. and calmly walked out of the prison. sometimes bullying. was also in the prison. she went out again in spite of a recent operation. you must allow this old lady to speak once more to her dying husband. stocky. changed. She wrote two books about her experiences. Often very pretty girls were brought in. Ruth Mitchell 47. I went to the office and found Hahn fortunately alone. his head bowed as he coughed. As head woman it was my business to make any necessary requests. At last we heard that he was considered too ill even for that hole where illness was paid attention to only if it was a nuisance. discussing our experiences among the Serbs. . She was released as an overage officer. and the strength of a beautiful love that flowed from her and seemed to envelop him was almost a visible aura in the dingy court. She has only been loyal to her oath as you are loyal to your oath.

when I think of the prison. forever turning. About once a fortnight the children of the prisoners were allowed to come to the gate just to look at their parents. their warm hearts to be chilled in the cold. dear Serbian wives-to meet again. or one of the many others-rises without a word. . forever wheeling slowly round on our ceiling. . frantic with anxiety. She raises her head sternly. blood-saturated earth. their trembling bodies pressed together to watch the gate. and for eternity. Something so agonizing I hesitate to try to tell about it. a Serbian woman going out to execution. daughters would go out. my husband. too far. . A woman-N. The guards were usually grimly silent on these occasions as they prodded the silent men to their death. they ."Moj muz" (pronounced "moy mooj")-"my man.. One moment more we see the silhouette of our companion. I still see those shadows endlessly wheeling on the ceiling. a never-ending refrain. the words ran through the days and the endless nights. the unfathomable grief of it. Straight and quietly those Serbs of all walks of life marched out with the firing squads: there was never a cry. "Moj muz" . Then she is gone-forever. or F. One moment she staggers against the wall as the light strikes down on her from the corridor where the guard stands impatiently glowering. sons.. upheld like her husband by the knowledge that her only crime was her love of Serbia. mothers." There was something worse. most enduring passion with which nature has endowed us. If there is another existence it must surely be more kindly. fathers. In a few minutes now-a volley. "Moj muz. . the exit which meant-the end. And she would be a widow. rifle on shoulder. as. for us to hear it. So dim was the light that only by some characteristic shape or movement could a man be recognized. Their figures made dim reflected shadows. the children could run in for a little hug. dazed. to walk in single file round the little yard." Like a soft undercurrent.. never once did a Serb break down. Always. But in the cell the stillness was so complete I could actually hear the pounding heartbeats of the trembling women I was holding up. of liberty. sometimes in twos and threes. more merciful than this German hell on earth. cell by cell. thank God. they climbed at two o'clock every night up to the crack. Night after night. And she would go-silent. A name is barked into the dark cell. When would her turn come? Soon. she goes to the door. brothers. May you receive the only reward for love and courage you would ever ask for. That was the visits of the children. fumbles for her coat. or D. The mothers and fathers would stoop to catch and raise their children in their arms. sisters. while the relative who brought them remained outside. knowing my words cannot convey the pain. "Moj muz"-she will rejoin him. and I would lay her on the straw. even worse than this. in the morning when the women climbed to the window (someone had to be on watch at the peephole and hiss sharply if the guard approached our door) to see if he was still among the men let out. sometimes in herds. "moj muz. and while the other women lie speechless with grief. Their faces transfigured by the most fundamental. "Moj muz" ." a woman would breathe and sink down. If the prisoner had somehow managed to get cigarettes with which to bribe the guard.

but this pierced every armor of pride. For the last time these men and women had what they loved more than their own lives in their arms. must stay behind-to what dark fate in a devastated.touched. of strength. A strong belief in American generosity was the last thought of hundreds. That promise passed not only through the prison. to cherish and bring up their children in freedom to worship the memory of those who died for their love of liberty. with hands trembling with love and despair. their children. would stand with hearts warm and strong behind me. with America and Britain in the lead. They mumbled broken. every part of the little bodies. I shall be justified. wondering at the running tears. kissed them and pulled their ears. and all the freedom-loving nations of the earth. the children laughing as they patted their fathers' and their mothers' hair. age-old words of sweet endearment. of resolution. of thousands of dying men and women: it eased in some measure the death pangs of a glorious army of martyrs. ruined land ? It was just-unendurable. I told them that not I alone. One could steel oneself to any other suffering. but throughout Serbia-where my word is good. I know well. the very heart of their hearts. I am sure. . These. I gave my promise to these so unjustly suffering Serbs that if I came through alive I would return and spend the rest of my life looking after these. I pledged my word and the honor of my country. but my countrymen too. It will be for us now to justify their faith.

too petty. produced by the people. or air force. who afterwards in internment was my dear friend. navy. Then. She had for years run a small kindergarten in Belgrade. men and women. after a period of deceptive humility. Their hatred of the Serbs became a veritable passion-an obsession. who told me-and I know he spoke the truth-that as he passed by a German execution field near Belgrade. They took every judge. None of the other overrun countries had succeeded in doing a thing like that. She could endure her own suffering quietly. but the thing that made her really ill with fury was the German treatment of the Serb peasants. not one. People will come after the war whining that "the German soldiers." We had in the prison for a few days a stern old Scotch spinster. Then the German officers went along the corridors with loaded clubs. So the Germans surrounded each town and each village. They took the upper classes of every school of whatever grade. and little children dig trenches. shaking even the three-foot-thick walls of our prison ? They were bound southwards to where. The Germans made these men. their backs to the machine guns. I say that every German in Germany is guilty of every atrocity. without pause. And so. every leading man. And drove their tanks over the shallow graves. poor things. The Germans stood them up facing the trenches. Any man who had made a move to obey such an order would have been killed on the spot by his fellow soldiers. and thrown off the conquerors. Nothing was too contemptible. It was a national ideal and national wholehearted support that produced this German fiendishness. who had sneered at the Serbs as overrated slaves. with the full . the Chetniks had risen. small farmers. They seized all law courts and all schools. the brave German soldiers mowed them down. could have been found to carry it out. Dead and half-dead alike: you don't believe it? Let me tell you that I myself spoke to a man.The Serbs Chose War. from that day sneered no more. since all the strong men were away in the mountains to fight." I say that if such an order could have been given to our soldiers. Miss Jane Allison. She was released and then rearrested and taken to internment. every lawyer. pounding them. chained in long rows in the corridors. Ruth Mitchell 48. the brave German officers giving the order. his soul frozen in a horror that would never wholly melt. boys and girls. Many have described how the children died crying: "Long live Serbia-we are Serbian children!" Then on the dead and on the half-dead alike the butchers shoveled back a little earth. only had to obey their orders. too brutal. The Chetniks. not one man in our army. Hitler himself was a man of the people. as Vaso had predicted. women. their faces to the wall. Against the mechanized might of a Nazi punitive expedition the Chetniks could oppose only their bodies and their rifles. THE FIELD THAT GROANED WHO that lived through it could ever forget those terrible forty-eight hours when. he had heard that field groaning. And the Germans. These boys and aged men were drawn up. They were mostly very young boys or quite old men. the heavy German tanks rumbled through Belgrade. on June 28. every school teacher. had dug up their buried guns again and had risen. or too mean for the Germans by way of demonstrating their "master superiority. almost three quarters of Serbia was free once more. so that they fell forward into the trenches.

I watched Hahn-I knew him so well by now. He was blind and could only move about under the guidance of a friend. Hahn pounced upon it with glee. they were not allowed to use the streetcars. met a high German officer acquaintance who asked where he was going. as they waited calmly for the blow. Quietly imposing. "for I have a friend with me.trying to work up his courage to strike them before us all in the yard. Then. fairy tales for idiots!" He opened the Bible. Finally the Germans. spat upon it like a monkey." Among other restrictions. who used it. with their thick gray beards. Under the Germans all Jews had to wear yellow armbands as well as great yellow stars front and back. We hid it under our clothes and later succeeded in smuggling it to the priest." "So. since they were in any case to be killed. It was in three pieces but only torn down the back. walking one day with his guide to a distant call. where such stuff belongs!" he screamed. How gently. you must walk?" . to kick them. There was endless screaming. the officer said: "But that is far. ever screamed. holding his nose to the raucous merriment of the rest. At our next round in the yard. Upon being told. long." shouted the German. But it was not the Serbs. black soutanes. "Ha. to comfort all in his cell. No Serb. "Into the garbage can. Why do you not take a streetcar?" "I cannot do so. his arm would fall and I could hear him curse as he turned away. herded them out to the barking guns-the final confession of failure. amazed and beside themselves with frustration and fury. He would scream and run up to them with his arm drawn back. About this time another Orthodox priest came into the prison. The warders were eager to humiliate them. how steadfastly they must have looked at the pitiless guns which soon took their lives tool Only when they were not present could Hahn give rein to his spitefulness. and tore it ostentatiously into pieces. and he is a Jew. who did the screaming. hit them in the face. L. A young guard. and I slipped aside to the cans. They feared only being less than Serbs. A Bible was sent in for one of the priests. a Jew. on the neck and shoulders: utterly pointless. knock off their hats." replied the priest gently.strength of their arms." he snarled. screaming: the prison was filled with screams. Two fine-looking Orthodox priests were brought in. got it out and carefully cleaned it. "Ha ha! Hebrew folklore. It was the Germans themselves. not even the smallest boy. who was a Jew-the Orthodox Church is admirably tolerant. The Serbs stood without cringing and with no sign of fear. and tall hats. ran and threw it into the garbage. Calm courage and dignity invariably confused and defeated them. The blind priest. their faces devilishly distorted. "What's this?" he shouted as guards gathered round for the fun. and I don't know what other "decorations. I hope. they gazed straight into the eyes of their captors. "because of your dear friend.

they joined them and helped them. knowing themselves to be lacking in sophistication. After his disappearance. At last they were so severely punished that they had to think of their own families. They know with undeviating. when rows of Jews were made to lie down and make ridges in the snow with their noses for the amusement of the Germans. Many Jews are at this moment being hidden by Serbian families at the risk of their own lives. I think. which is usually a sign of secret uncertainty. When they were forbidden to do so. It is settled. But it was all of a piece with a national character that showed most brightly in the blackest time of misery. against whom there had never been the slightest feeling or prejudice in Serbia. At first. Here again the Serbian record is. And to them the word "Serb" is only another word for courage. His own servant was a Jewish boy. They have known it for a thousand years. remarkable. if you like. I hope the Jews of the world are aware how loyally the Serbs tried to stand by their countrymen of the Jewish race. taking the key with him when he went to his office. Gestapo Commissar for Jew Control. the Serb women shouted curses at the German soldiers and had to be driven away with gun butts. it's a wonder you wouldn't want to kiss him publicly!" "Certainly. "If you love him so much. There is that steady fortitude about them as of men long inured to war. one morning Igon went off to his work as usual and -was never heard of again. The Serbs loathed the German persecutions of Jews. Then. But soon the Jews were all hounded away to the ghettos-to death. Strange to say-one likes to tell even a fairly human thing about a Nazi-the next day an order came out that the Jews could ride at the back of the streetcar trailers. Nevertheless. He simply vanished as other Germans vanished and will continue to vanish from Serbia. When the Germans arrived in Belgrade he immediately rose to high position: he became. Now I must mention what became of Igon. "Gladly will I kiss my friend!" So there. They want freedom. At any rate Igon distinguished himself by his leniency and so earned the gratitude of the wretched Jews. the treatment of the Jews became much more inhuman. They are satisfied to be just Serbs. but impervious to subtly reasoned side issues."Yes. Probably he still remembered how he had led a Jew to his death. Igon used to lock him in his apartment. Indeed they are curiously humble. he embraced the Jew and kissed him. all Serbs immediately withdrew. I prefer to walk. ." "Ha ha. in fact. so that nothing could happen to him while he was away. I may be accused of exaggeration in constantly reverting to the heroism of the Serbs. It has been often noted by trained observers that of all Europeans the Serbs were least affected by the nervous and cloudy isms of the postwar period. once the chatty partner in the two-man business of keeping a watch on me. when they saw their Jewish friends forced to do street work beyond their strength." said the priest. There is no braggadocio." said the priest." laughed the officer. this Jew. "because of my friend who may not use the cars. in winter. simple. unquestionable certainty what they want. in the crowded main street.

we women decided. two steps apart-might see and be terrified. I think he was the greatest hero I ever saw. And she sang until her little voice was broken by the crash of guns. I see him now being carried down by two strong cellmates and set in a chair in the yard. and we would not give our torturers the pleasure of a single twitch of fear. and not a muscle moved in his face or in ours. From the narrow crack beneath our window I watched him being carried out in the starlight just before dawn. and calmly we looked back at him. he was a reserve officer. Slowly. like a visible presence. I never heard him speak a word." he screamed at me and loathed me thereafter. the prison doctor deserved the severest punishment that can be meted out to men. It was this run-of-the-mill German medical man who in the prison yard gently-oh. striking looking man. They carried him to the place of execution. a real one-and there are few real Communists in Serbia. His torturers had done this in the hopelessly vain effort to force him to betray his companions. If some sick or fainting pregnant woman did not spring up fast enough he just turned haughtily and walked out. This prisoner was named Luka Golubich. about sixty. Beside him. cynical and cruel to the women. When I first saw him with revolver on hip and whispered too loudly: "See. pale and slight. He too was a flagrant pervert. Next day we heard that he had stood up on those bleeding stumps to die. For Death-a gloating. brave youth. where the doctor savagely displayed what once had been his feet. a horse doctor.") Luka-"Uncle Luke" we called him-had been stood on red-hot coals until his feet were just charred. German Deathwas watching us. How can one express the pride one feels to have been associated in the bond of suffering with such as these! . he was a Communist. the Gestapo jailed every Communist it could hunt down and simply called every patriot a "Communist. one by one. looking to be the kind of general practitioner mothers would call in when a baby had a sore throat. they lie together in a common grave. so gently-tore the bandages of the feet of a bestially tortured man so that we women taking our exercise-in single file. we walked by. We had to rise when he entered. A big. brave age.The Serbs Chose War. Faithful unto death. bleeding stumps. two steps apart. tightly clutching his hand. When at last they gave up hope of breaking him. tender and coy with the men. one by one. they shot him. stood a girl of fourteen who had fired a German garage. Ruth Mitchell 49. Calmly he looked at us. A fellow named Jung. (Although the Russo-German pact was then in force. UNCLE LUKE OF ALL THOSE BRUTES.

Quick as a flash he shuffled over and seized my hands. and on the next round flipped it down to Simonovich. calmly looking the guard in the eye. taken you out to little merry. Try as I could to control myself. looking a nameless death in the face? Your own kindly friends. I could just see the gaunt. Ruth Mitchell 50." One day I felt faint and sat down on a bench over a cellar air hole." It was the right word. all in bright colors. dirty. who had managed the Anglo-American Club. shrugging his shoulders disgustedly.The Serbs Chose War. The others depend on you." he hissed fiercely in German. "tell Mary I held her in my heart to the end. balled in my effort at control. who in days of happiness had sent you flowers. the most extraordinary scene: mountains with the sun rising behind them. There. intimate dinners. whose only crime was love of their country or of God! (The finding of any Masonic symbol in a house was a sentence of death. no breakdown. "Ruhe.for the one purpose of someday helping to bring retribution. Just then a man. The women. Tell her I died with her name on my lips. with leg chains so heavy he had to hold them up with his hands. I was so startled by this vision that the surprise steadied me. the tears gushed from my eyes. There was a single water tap in the yard where the condemned men were allowed to wet their heads sometimes in the heat. sometimes chained. Somehow resolution came back. pine trees. walked up the yard. First and always our one thought was: "No sign-no sign of breaking down! That is what they want-we must not give the beasts that satisfaction. Can you imagine what it felt like to see charming friends. in the dim light looking up at me from the condemned cell. drawn face of Simonovich. a long time. . in lock step. but we were careful to give no sign of recognition. Ruhe [Calm. as loud as he dared without drawing the attention of the guard at his door. THE MINUET OF DEATH MANY OLD ACQUAINTANCES OF MINE were in the prison. as usual." I felt as if a hand had reached into my breast and squeezed my heart. I rose. tattooed on his breast. now walking slowly round the prison yard. "Tell her. I squeezed his hand. It was all that we could do for him." he whispered frantically. Only no sign. I had known him and his charming English wife. I knew that she had managed to escape to England. and in the foreground an antlered deer poking out its head. "Sie mussen Sich zusammen nehmen [You must control yourself]. quickly gathered round. At the turn near the garbage cans we slipped aside. Then I saw. I bent and looked down the cellar hole.) I can only say that often I would feel my very soul hardening to a stone of grim determination: somehow I must stick it out and live. Suddenly something-it may have been a broom handle-struck me on the leg. calm]. quickly lit a cigarette. and the guard. He sprang back just before the guard turned. was bending down under the tap. Slowly I raised my eyes from his rusty chains. and slowly we went again upon our rounds. thin. He caught sight of my face.

none at all to lie down. and much admired Judge Stokich. praying to an outraged God that their menfolk would not be weak enough or loving enough to deliver themselves into German hands to save them. he did actually get away-the only one. sure enough. with always a cheerful. and." But these were all women. except for the dull. who ever did escape from our prison. painted on his breast. whispered word in passing. impertinent. as we knew well they did in their hearts. In his calmly humorous way he did much to put steadiness into us. he always had a twinkle in his eye for the ladies. Serbian mothers.women whose husbands. Giving him this assignment was the German idea of fun. And so they died. the dear boy who carried.praying. Soon the cellar was overcrowded. From the memory of their martyrdom into the youth of Serbia for uncounted generations will flow strength. One morning. They met. businessmen. Among our own hostages was the old. Everlasting twilight. lawyers. Just at that moment the office radio was playing a Mozart minuet. . for I too was in it for a time. eerie clank-clank-clank of heavily chained feet slowly stumbling past the door. was a forest ranger who loved freedom as the eagle loves the high crags. when Lidia and I were scrubbing the floor of the toilet. Each day they grew gaunter. No sternest resolution can quite prevent a chill of terror from creeping into the marrow of one's bones. Serbian wives. packed with "hostages. His job was to pour disinfectant each morning into the toilets and night pails in the cells. high air hole in the thick wall passes round the ceiling to mark the passage of interminable hours. cabinet ministers. brothers. or sons had "gone to the mountains" to join Draja Mihailovich and my Chetniks. judges. The helpless women were taken by the German kidnapers in the hope of forcing their men to give themselves up. always laughing into the face of certain death. Very ceremonious in his manners. a pet even of the guards. That cellar dungeon! An icy trickle still goes down my back when I think of it. all he loved best in life. everlasting silence. Packed in so tight that there was hardly room to sit. professors.filled with nothing but such "hostages. yes.Tony. But he was shot dead before he reached safety in the forests he loved so dearly. grimmer. gentle Serbian girls. He boasted openly that no prison bars could hold him. the little pile of damp straw on which you lie-alone -while slowly the dim ray of light from the far. The conditions in that prison were fearful beyond belief. In hundreds they died. I believe. he came in. taken from all parts of Serbia with the threat that they would be slaughtered if the people of their homes should dare to resist the invader. It was exactly like what you read about in the old stories: the sweating walls. those good men died. All in turn. grayer. And. they leaned against the walls and against each other-starving. dignified. the exquisite society woman and the courtly judge: in her hand a scrubbing brush. they died. the mountain scene. that their friends would not for a moment consider them. There was a prison across the town-we heard many reports of it." men of high position. fathers. in his a battered can of stink stuff. His sweeping mustachios in the old Serbian style were to Us an invigorating sight. He was a marvelous fellow.

they tripped a little minuet. they died and died and died. a huge ancient fortress on the Danube sixty miles from Belgrade. He was the hostage for Smederevo. and gently danced a last-a long-last-minuet. great and small. Young and old. And sweetly. And so our dear old Judge Stokich had to die. and the effect was so terrific that the whole German garrison was killed and most of the town destroyed. which the Germans had made into their biggest ammunition dump. they curtseyed. Not many days after he too was among the thousands that sank before the "culture-bringing" guns into a nameless trench. Upon the very verge of a darkly yawning grave. It blew up. to the tinkle of that old familiar tune blaring across all the prison noise. bowed a pirouette.Then. they silently clasped hands. . with an Old World grace.

Their own discomfort really meant little to them compared with their anxiety for those whom they had left behind: "Who will fix Ikey's food?" . always arrived humble. hopelessly. They bowed to it. I never want to hear the word 'Croat' again -never-not after what they have done-never-never . and greathearted women I had the privilege of meeting in all the prisons were two of these Jewesses. with downcast eyes before the Serbian women. sure she could never be less than a Serb. Attractive. Shrinking and raising their hands as if warding off a horror. her eyes to roll. They fitted in efficiently at once. prepared to face anything. and tried desperately hard to uphold it. The Jewesses of education behaved quite differently. the relief of tears was necessary. for a long time. Ruth Mitchell 51." etc. sternly. they each whispered: "No. subtly artistic. their eyes wide with agony. but-it was their racial fate. no. not exactly with resignation but with a firm. They knew it would be bad. then extreme loquacity. especially when they first came in. you know. as if somehow listening to an inner voice from long ago. who were in no way unkind to them. and they are greatly liked and admired by the Serbs. smile: horror of what they had already seen. . Katitsa and Bianca. they sat in corners. PRIDE AND SHAME HOW SPLENDID were those Serbian women! As head woman I made a rule. self-reliance. shy. . very bad. Sometimes my blouse grew wet with those searing tears of agony. Although I tried to be especially nice to them. When I saw a Serbian woman's hands begin to clasp and twitch. Then I hurried them to the toilet. These Sephardic Jews of Serbia seem to me to be in a class by themselves. "My husband. at this time brought in usually because of failure to wear the yellow armband. pride of race. By the way a new woman entered the prison we could predict infallibly her behavior. The two most capable. They were quickly released again and left without saying good-by. oppressed by a dreadful racial shame. There they were allowed to weep on my shoulder. sound.The Serbs Chose War.. I reminded her that she was the descendant of a great race. The women of this type always came in quietly. there are very few of these families. Heroes now were watching from their graves. But sometimes. hopeless fatalism. and dependability. unobtrusively. To think of their fate is one of the horrors of my wakeful night hours. The simpler Jewesses. I knew the symptoms. horror of much worse which they knew was coming. that there should be no weeping in the cell. . . It always worked. Only two Croatian women were brought in. There would be storms of tears. they have succeeded in combining with a broad and careful education the sturdy Serbian qualities of courage. I would sit down beside her on the straw and firmly take her hand. I admired them every minute more than I can say. and a racial tradition of courage made them . But they soon became pretty sharp at making themselves comfortable." and they fell to weeping bitterly. frightened. he suffers with his stomach. Oh-dear-oh-dear-oh-dear. Resident here for many centuries. separately. They neither trembled nor would they. obsessed with anxiety about their large families. I pitied them with all my heart. When each hesitatingly told me her name I said gently: "You are a Croat?" Their reaction was strikingly similar. The Serbian women came in grimly.

they would stand looking round at us with shocked disgust. spent her whole time in thinking up people to denounce to the Gestapo. Crude. they sobbed. waiting. After the last war Serbia with the warmest generosity had received not less than 60. the longer she was kept in. But among our best jokes were the occasional arrivals of what are called "society" women. the most beastly creature I came across in all these days. and teamwork was absolutely necessary for morale. We. Invariably at first those hothouse flowers refused to work. Now. And sure as death and taxes it would come: "I-I have never been in prison before-I am not used to this-I am .almost indifferent to their fate. they howled: "Will it never end. to force her to go on denouncing. and then they might have to die. But rage and hatred of their ruthless enemies. Without the slightest thought for others. . an anti-Communist revolution is impossible. never?" How we despised these women. you'll find prison not so bad. cringing. We sat in stony silence. beautifully dressed. This. many of these same people turned upon their kindly hosts and became German-paid spies and informers. repressed. . . My own line is murdering children." pointing to some pretty child. crude and fearful. Never! They will stand firm. one of these women stubbornly repeated: "Whatever else is possible on earth. Then politely I would get up and say: "Oh well. . of course." etc. when Serbia was fighting for her life. Haughty. fawning to the Germans! They had only one thought: the saving of their own miserable skins." "I couldn't . This is a thief. This lady murdered her husband. They weren't required to lift a hand. There were four men actually in the prison on her denunciation." A moment's incredulous silence and she usually had the grace to burst into laughter." The woman's voice would trail away. are used to it. for we are all habitual criminals. they moaned all day. with these it was different. "I never did . disdainful. Fortunately I have a very good memory for risqué stories. . She fondly hoped this would get her out. At the end of at most three days no one was so pathetically eager to scrub cement floors and carry night pails as these spoiled society darlings! The so-called White Russian women were an almost hopeless problem. but in a big way. alone. We had a cure for that." She cheered us all up. but we were living in crude and fearful circumstances. in which we all joined. "is a forger. They had only one fear: that the Communists might be victorious. Let me introduce you. idle. of course. but neither were they allowed to go outside the cell or to participate in all our eager activities and plots. Little did she understand German methods: the longer she went on denouncing. We had one notable exception. . you'll say. They just sat and sweltered. I thought how fortunate were the democracies not to need the violent and bloody reaction of Communism to throw off such as these. boiled up in them to a point which sometimes threatened hysteria. They had to be made to laugh if we were all to preserve our sanity.000 of these "aristocrats" fleeing from Bolshevism and had supported and found work for them regardless of her own labor problems. . Although it was the habit of some of us always to rise and warmly greet a newcomer. Then all was amity. When all the world was momentarily expecting the collapse of Russia and the office radio announced it almost every hour. One White Russian.

These we stuck on the wall. She-she to be praying to a just God! However little sympathy one had for these sobbing whiners. they had to be quieted for the sake of the others. sticky and quaking. didn't it? It passed. she went all to pieces. Today will pass. handsome. "Look. Each day you are one day nearer freedom." I tried.Large. She set our teeth on edge with her interminable mumbled or howled prayers. once a beauty. we fiercely tore off one head. Each doll represented one day. "this is noon: the morning passed. and let the days just pass. didn't it? Yesterday passed. be still. tomorrow will pass-it must pass." When this didn't work I got hold of a piece of old newspaper and cut out rows of dancing paper dolls. Be still. Those childish "aristocrats" were comforted! . all over the place. Like a dropped jelly she spread herself. and every evening. with laughing ceremony (while the Serbs looked on in disdain).

There was something macabre. but they were not nearly so much of a nuisance as you would expect. At week ends she entertained lavishly in her luxurious Belgrade apartment. Infinite were the pains we took. For years she had on weekdays acted as a humble school teacher in Novi Sad. She believed-wishfully-that Germany would win. Is it necessary to say what Tanya became? She was an expert on foreigners in Yugoslavia. In spite of her extreme caution I soon discovered that she hated England and America with whatever passion she was capable of. haughty. She was the infamous Frau von Akten. The woman came again next day and took Tanya out for good. must not guess. We could hardly wait for her return. As he was brought down from above. to keep her especially cheerful. All she loved was herself and her brother who had worked for the Associated Press and who also was in the prison. her head too big for her wizened body. Still we did not regret our efforts-then. Ruth Mitchell 52. "Zuruck! [Back!]. One day two soldiers came to take him away. That night Hahn told Katitsa that the brother had been taken away to be shot as an English spy. of course. He was struck violently in the face with the yell. Tanya must not know.The Serbs Chose War. Spies pretending to be prisoners-we had plenty of them. this tiny. extremely aristocratic connections. of course. he tried to break away from the guards to shout a word to his sister through the hole. and took her out to lunch! Imagine our excitement at this unheard-of event. Then one day came the news that the brother had been seen in a German prison camp: he had not been shot after all. dried-up body and soul was the trickiest and most selfish woman in the prison. bringing us anything to eat) she was a different Tanya. so merry that she actually danced the steps of a Russian folk dance for us. A woman came to call on her. When she returned (without. who now has the blood of hundreds if not thousands of Serbian patriots on her hands. Should I tell Tanya? At that time we still pitied her. first fruits of a new career. I happened to be at the peephole. in seeing this tiny creature. she said. born Banderer. A White Russian refugee with. the stories we thought up. I decided that she might go mad with grief-better to say nothing. ghoulish. In fact. Now ensued a remarkable exhibition of loyalty and kindness on the part of the women. marching in grandly. they added a grimly humorous note." He was marched out. guards saluting. who had for years been the chief German woman spy in Yugoslavia. THE INFORMER TANYA had been secretary to the Belgrade correspondent of a London paper. They appeared to be men in . condescending. It was not long before two Englishwomen married to Serbs were brought in. but more cagey than ever. And she hated Serbia that had treated her so well. But not before I had discovered who the powerful deity was for whom all German prison doors flew open.

he was bedraggled. No longer sleek and slimy. Behold. To make themselves convincing they told tales of hair-raising courage with themselves as heroes. coming out with a dustpan. bumped into him. and as we both bent for it I whispered: "Careful -informer!" He gave me a startled half-smile. desperate. It was obvious that he was now himself in serious trouble and was going down the drain. what they were. I wished my dearest Trudi could have known. Thereafter they moved in a sort of vacuum. rather nice-looking. They were the only lonely people in the prison: cold. They led dreary lives. They were despised even by the guards and were treated by us with just a bare minimum of politeness to avoid trouble. by some sure extra prison sense. talking to one of these spies while the two swept the yard. hopeless. everything dead around them. For within a few hours of their entry we knew. by evening we knew that he himself was a new spy! I later saw one of these fellows in one of my endless series of prison trains.German service who had made a slip and had chosen this in lieu of other punishment. outside our warm and pulsing life of love and dread and cunning. although it would have given her small comfort: she was where no comfort could ever again mean much to her. . and dropped my pan. He turned. I saw a new man. It was the same man who had informed against Trudi's boy. He must be warned! I stumbled. One morning.

There entered. There was one fellow. not once but often. should now be so bestialized? Surely the message of this Christmas hymn must be a message of hope for humanity-of hope even for the Germans. All of them by now are probably dead. He was the tallest and far the handsomest. piglike in his ugliness. holy night"-a German song. 1942. . who looked and often was the most brutal of them all. "Edelweiss" we called him for his favorite song and for the irony of the nickname. from his head right down to the flayed soles of his feet. And yet . prodded and pricked from behind by a bayonet in the hands of a furiously bawling German. gently singing us women to sleep. He fancied himself for his thin but sweet singing voice. strengthened. How can it be that a people who produced such a song. a great bell-like siren is playing across Washington that most beloved of all Christmas songs: "Silent night. then in the same length of time what wonderful things could be done with Serbian youth! As I watched the young guards getting meaner and meaner. Karl.The Serbs Chose War. inevitable doom. renewed. He soon was drafted to the Russian front. strange silhouette. it was thrown open. red in the face as usual. "THIS IS GERMAN CULTURE" THOSE PRISON GUARDS: a whole book could be written about them alone and the conflict in their little souls. in a horror there was no escaping and no understanding-an elemental. A tear on your Eastern grave. With a crashing of bolts. until it again becomes victorious. stood in our door after light-out. helpless. a black. That brute. in truth. some moronic. what was left of a man. . As I am writing this. the hopeless beast. Next morning he would be screaming. which has brought happiness and the kindliest emotions to millions throughout the world. They grew steadily meaner. December 17. Most of them were merely stupid. to be revivified. on his hands and knees. more morose and fierce. the "holy night" in which they reshape their souls. One morning there was a yell and counter-yell at the gate. . His face was a pulp. this thought kept returning. Everything went smoothly for him. Ruth Mitchell 53. for a puzzled. Good as well as evil must remain latent. There was Karl Feth. Do you wonder I found myself beginning to pity almost everybody? We were all caught together. As I watched the systematic debasing and vitiation of German youth I had an inspiring thought: If Hitler could in eight years so thoroughly shape German youth for evil. without a single ugly word. and he was so beaten. decent fellow! Slowly they all went off and were replaced by worse. with his loaded rifle poking up behind his back. that he could hardly move or breathe. May the "silent night" of defeat and humiliation which now lies before the Germans become. who had a Russian mother.

That flame shall be struck and it must burn-but the hate with which it shall be fed must be the hatred of all cruelty. young boys. The children were never seen again. all conscienceless greed. had been overheard. their hearts beaten into hard flint from which will be struck a flame of undying hatred. as hundreds of other Serbs said to their sons: "Look-look. slowly twisting in the breeze. their pride after the war must be to make it the land freest in the world of all hatreds. kept in prison for a fortnight. all merciless oppression. had taken his young sons to see the bodies of the men.This man. like hundreds of other Serbs. beaten almost to death. and women hanging down the middle of the main street of Belgrade. . and never while you live forget: this is German culture!" This unfortunate man. beaten again. As their land was the most cruelly oppressed of all. excepting only the hatred of oppression. he said to his sons. and thrown out onto the street to die. He was seized. however. But other Serbian children will survive in spite of every decree of extermination. And as they watched the corpses slowly.

so simply. just vividly alert. and we wrote the story on a scrap of wrapping paper I stole from the guardroom. helpless in women's collapse. she looked at me. LEKA SAVES HER MAN NOT ALL THE MEMORIES of those terrible two months are tragic. her assertions of loyalty to "dear Germany" so powerful. grimly concentrated on success. was there. though she was sure she would be tortured to betray accomplices. Ruth Mitchell 54. too.The Serbs Chose War. It had worked. looking in no way super heroic or brilliant. She had a scheme. There was. The husband was in the condemned cellar. Even the guards treated her with grudging respect. She and her husband were brought in. the cell containing her husband. Quick as lightning she threw the note down the hole. I believe. her four children. myself. an ordinary little woman in a gray dress and with tousled hair. But there was more to do. . in many ways the grandest woman in the prison. hardly above a whisper. There was the case of my dear Katitsa. there in the lavatory. This trick was infallible as the guards. of course. (One woman. and herself. How I should like to give her whole name for the roll of honor! She was a Serbian Jewess of fine stock. I had become an expert thief. with such wide-eyed. neither elated nor frightened. sincerely benevolent. and got out alive. just grimly determined. She returned neither elated nor depressed. He had done it. She had brought it off. as to be irresistibly convincing. As we went over it and tested it for catches. of course. There was not a sign of faltering or even of fear in Leka. so helpful to all. Leka. Hear how she saved the lives of her husband. which the Germans. The family was to die en masse and immediately. The examination came. though "they could. I had a tiny stub of pencil (which I held in my mouth when the ever-recurring wild pencil hunts were on). we sang the Chetnik song from the beginning to the end. Their stories exactly tallied. have had no communication"-and they both were released. the only case in which a man once in the cellar got away alive. The story must be conveyed to her husband. for instance. limpid simplicity and honesty. There were the cases where sheer women's wit brought high success.) Leka went out just as she came in. as I knew she would at her German judges. incommunicado. We grasped each other's hands and. It had to do with a jealous aunt who wished her ill and had spread lies about her. Leka and I went to the toilet (the only place where one might whisper a few words alone) and held a consultation. The plan was perfectly carried out. At exercise that afternoon we arranged for one of the girls to grow faint just by the air hole leading down to the cellar. It was. We kissed as sisters kiss. so trustworthy that she was the most loved person there. He was a Chetnik. did not know or they would not have taken him even as far as the prison. accused of being concerned in the killing of two German soldiers. Her story and manner had been so convincing. such gentle worry proper to the situation. let us flutter round the patient. a story. that he too was brought up for examination.

also succeeded in notifying him. and gave almost everything away. always laughing and somehow escaping search-away to hide her old parents safely in the south." Dear Katitsa was almost as excited and thrilled as I. for special reasons. There was. as I have already mentioned. I could not guess. Yet hardly a day passed without some word getting in or out." But who C. was. For one of us to be caught meant fearful scenes. His friendship for me brought him great misfortune. step by interminable step. the American consul. because it might bring great misfortune on a family. This man was Iliya Gregovich. Rankin. C. I shall know someday. As every precaution had been taken that the American consul should not know that I was there. I cannot disclose. Katitsa. Soon afterwards. she got an oxcart. Answer immediately-urgent. lifted his hat and said. not knowing that the consul had already been informed. At that time the prisoners were allowed to have food sent in from home. After I had been there for more than three weeks without a sign that anyone outside knew I was alive. But Katitsa always received hers. Then slowly. and soon only six women of the twenty in our cell were receiving food. and food for all was stopped for at least a day. of course. Who asks?" And we patted back the soot. or several others.M. and. Mrs. I began to notice that she only pretended to eat. Her health was sinking rapidly. often challenged. Women with influence were bought out or otherwise removed. as I was being hurried back to prison. walked right into Belgrade beside the slowly plodding beasts. heard I was in the prison. dressed as a peasant woman. The food got scarcer and scarcer. Next day the message was very blurred. Eagerly we wrote: "R. and had already been in prison for months. carefully wiping off the first layer of soot from a cooking pan. It was Katitsa who got the first communication for me from outside. Later she was taken. by a method which. for the first few weeks I received nothing. a tall. in English: . A few days later another man. found this inscription written on the second layer: "Is it true Ruth Mitchell there? We heard she was dead. dark man came toward me. whether Chetniks. alive and well. It was a ticklish business. and placed straw and household utensils on top of them. The result. and all thank God. whip in hand. a Montenegrin from Petrovats and an American citizen. which came about in this way: On the third day of my court-martial. as every woman insisted on sharing her food with me and to refuse caused hurt feelings. I hope. Mr. was that I ate more than anyone else. She put the old couple in the bottom of the cart. Our tricks for getting messages in and out were innumerable. a plain-clothes detective close at each shoulder. hopes to fight again for Serbia. the only sustenance provided by the management being thin bean soup twice a day and some raw unleavened stone-hard corn bread. If she would tell where her very wealthy father was she would be freed. Yanko. We made it out to be: "C.While the Germans were. making a determined hunt for her parents. I am sorry to say. she passed the soldiers. not the slightest chance of her telling..

" Instantly one of the detectives turned. that she is an American. since he was an American citizen with nothing against him (America was not yet in the war). my food. (The consul gone. but my feelings can be imagined when I saw him week after week. crouching low. however. working in the yard. Iliya was seized. Throughout his terrible vicissitudes Iliya had managed to save $54 in the heel of his shoe. He was there three weeks while they questioned him constantly about me. he sent me by messenger-he was too delicate to face me-$30 of it! I shall not forget this thoughtfulness. I in turn gladly went without food to leave it where he could find it. I must add another word of gratitude. This was evidently one of them.) At Frankfurt. He did notify Mr. seized him by the shoulder."How do you do. Sternly they warned him. At last. he kept an eye on me. they had to release him. I frowned. he and any other person released meanwhile from the prison would be rearrested and transported to Germany. trying to signal to him to get away. and shoved him behind me into the prison. started for Lisbon. what was my delight to see him waiting on the platform for me! That was a joyous reunion. But he insisted. In Lisbon. Rankin and then. stopped again. thinking I was penniless. and he went through twenty-one prisons before he succeeded in escaping into Switzerland. which was the only place where. How are you?" In my year in Montenegro I had spoken to probably every man in the country who spoke English. He got cigarettes for me." He behaved with great dignity in the prison. How grateful I was that he showed no resentment! On the contrary. which he had sent in generous measure. in company with the consul himself. Miss Mitchell. He was clever enough to know nothing at all except "what everyone knows. . we could sometimes steal a smoke out of sight of the guards. that if the consul heard I was there. I dropped the last of my money beside him where he sat breaking stones. helping me in any way he could. still in English: "Don't you remember me? I met you in Budva. hiding them behind the big garbage cans. When I arrived on the transport train many months later in Lisbon.

"You have captured and imprisoned a perfectly innocent tame creature: it must obviously be a Jew. (Now the poor birds are probably themselves all dead and eaten. and when he was cutting its wings I could not help saying bitterly: "You have forgotten something. there was comedy. bugs!" (It was so beautifully like Betsy Trotwood with her famous "Janet. My dear little brown pigeon relieved the strain. PRISON BERNHARDT PIGEONS USED TO FLY down into the prison yard. such frank remarks became impossible. Lidia's eagle eye was on the watch for them. I was horrified. Regularly. and the Jews were forced to keep it in order. picked out in red. it sat on that swastika and did its business. asking that he should at least not shoot at that one. eager to please. Lidia and I were "lice wardens. the slim. had been made in the yard. would knock down the nauseous insect with a broom. would start crawling up the wall in the daytime. donkeys!" that it gave me endless delight. We never once found a single louse: the women's cells at least were completely free of them. and white pebbles. stripped and carefully examined. dizzy with blood. and there were many wounded birds." "What?" he asked. he decided I was to have A swastika. nonplussed. even in that hellhole. This little brown pigeon gave us great satisfaction. black. seeking-sad irony! ." He looked at me. Bedbugs were not quite as bad here as in some prisons in Germany. Yes.) How yearningly we used to watch them. Without my knowledge he fixed up an elaborate trap with a box and string and caught it." Any woman brought in who looked less than absolutely clean was taken to the toilet. Lidia. Ruth Mitchell 55. Lyubitsa would pounce upon it with cries of joy and extinguish it in the night pail.The Serbs Chose War. as he grew more and more darkly morose. Suddenly she would start up with a fierce cry: "Lyubitsa. winging free toward the drifting free clouds! Hahn used to practice his bad revolver marksmanship on them. but we knew that if anyone did so all prisoners would be paraded and every third one shot. as if trained. fastidious. Sometimes in our Belgrade cell these night prowlers. elderly lady. where the straw sacks were black with ancient grease." Soon. "A yellow armband and a yellow star.) Instantly a pretty peasant girl in bright head-shawl would spring up. her nose wrinkling in disgust. Our mouths watered to spit on it. As he was at that time being very cordial to me. . notably in the Salzburg prison and in the huge Promenade prison in Vienna. I remarked on the prettiness of a brown one.

Whatever loots clean to a German is clean. with "the wages of sin." but none the less gratefully received. the reflected light from the corridor behind her. One night every trick had been fruitless. ugly. away to realms of happiness where bestiality and Germans never had been known. She was in prison because high German officers had "fallen" for her. This all was just a great adventure! She could bewitch the women too. everything was forgiven our Cica. put one end round her neck.and how we tried to work her up to it!-she could carry us away to faerie. In the office they had flypapers. she had absolutely nothing of her own). came up. but she had never been on the stage. and soon he too was laughing. The walls were painted dark brown up to six feet high and above that were white. She let down the belt. I fear. lighted. But no barking or hissed threats could down Cica.The flies buzzed in thick. she went through the days. So she got up to the window and simply called the guard. in violent despair. The guard was beaten. and absolutely fascinating. She was desperate: she must have a cigarette. So she lived in a world of extravagant make-believe. and a cigarette. On inspection day everything had to look spotless. standing in her transparent nightie (borrowed. working harder than anyone else. Possessed of unfathomable reserves of gaiety. she would tell in a husky whisper and dramatize something she said had happened to her. believed her dangerous. But he was adamant: no cigarette. When she was in the mood. We were enormously grateful to her. in the narrow space between our converging feet. sobbing in smothered hysterics. Very slim. very supple. but my request for one had met only with pleased sneers. I hit upon a scheme which solved the problem. She snatched it. and though she bickered perpetually and was struck violently in the face by Hahn for a pert answer. laughing. I had an inspiration With towels we instituted a great hunt. therefore. We got our flypapers. Dear Cica! She got out and gaily came back to the prison several times. everything else forgotten. Cica (pronounced Tseetsa) was tall. really a genius if ever I saw one. She smoked up the stovepipe in the wall while we stood guard at the door. Half our days were taken up with plots for getting Cica cigarettes. She brought us fruit-bought. Afraid she was going to make a rumpus and get him into trouble (no guessing what Cica was capable of 1). She was mad for cigarettes. crawling swarms. Suddenly she saw my belt on a nail. Her back-chat was excruciating. full of lightning sharp repartee. She was a born actress. after light-out. She didn't seem to know that there was a war on. Soon we would be rolling. She was incapable of telling or even seeing the truth. impervious to pain or even facts. and they made nasty splotches on the pure-white wall. and higher ones. pretended to hang herself-with horribly realistic groans and gurgles. At the next inspection the chief was horrified. We killed flies in hundreds But we squashed them only above the brown line. I can see her now. the other round a window bar and. . the fellow came over from the gate.

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

56. ROSE
SOMETIMES OF AN EVENING, safe-too safe-at home in comfortable- too comfortable-America, there passes before me a procession of faces, vivid as if this instant the prison gate had closed behind me: the ones I loved with agonizing pity, the ones I hated with a whole-souled contempt. Of those I loved, perhaps the most touchingly pitiful was Ruza (Rooja, Rose), eighteen years old, just six months married and four months with child. Rose her name, but she was more like a little snowdrop, for there was not a thorn about her. She was pale, blond, and blue-eyed, with irresistible long, sweeping lashes. We all caught our breath when she was thrown into the cell. This delicate, modest beauty was the very embodiment of spring. At once every woman, mother instinct aroused, was eager to sit beside her, to hold her small, workhardened hand, to pat her. We quarreled as to who should give her the best blanket. How glad we were to go without food that she might eat! I thought how much she would look like a Botticelli Madonna when once she had her baby in her arms. Soon we knew her story. She told it without tears or even any signs of terror. She didn't seem to know what fear was: never before in her short life had anyone been unkind to her. She literally had never thought of intentional cruelty. This wasn't courage in the face of evil: it was unconsciousness that there could be fierce and intentional evil loose in the world. Her husband, aged twenty-one, an engineer, was Montenegrin. The Germans, at the instance of Italy, had issued an order that all Montenegrins in Belgrade should surrender themselves as "hostages for the good behavior of Montenegro to the Italians." As none came in, they were being hunted ferociously through the town. Came the Gestapo to Rose's third-floor apartment. They broke down the door. Her husband was there. Frantically he locked the | door of the bedroom. They banged and the boy jumped from the | third-floor window. | Ruza leaned out and saw her husband for the last time. He was being dragged away by the legs, still twitching. Blessedly, she did not believe that he was dead. Calmly the pregnant girl awaited events. But in that foul air she soon began to droop. She had fainting spells. I knew that it was worse than waste of time to appeal to our sneering pansy prison doctor. The girl had to be taken out into the air. Determined, although the guard yelled forbiddingly behind me, I ran to the office Hahn was there and he had been drinking. I described the case to him and told him: "The girl must be allowed to sit in the yard." Morosely he flared up: "Do you expect us to love our enemies? Nothing-nothing at all shall be done for her." "War on children, war on little girls," I said, beside myself with anxiety, "-is that great Germany's pride?"

His eyes flashed up, ugly and bloodshot, and sank again. A pause. "Take her out," he muttered at last. I took her out past the surly guard and stayed beside her. That evening Hahn sent in, a unique surprise, two watermelons. I went to thank him. He was sitting on the office bed flirting with Honig's sister, a typical, mouse-colored Fraulein with earphone braids. I thanked him sincerely for the melons. He was perfectly furious. "Don't think I did it out of kindness," he shouted. "They were going The Fraulein gave me a narrow, spiteful, vindictive stare. Every day our little Rose sat in the courtyard for an hour. She sat placidly-waiting, a faraway look on her pale sweet face. Every day she was a little paler. When I was taken away she was still-waiting, waiting for something that will never come for her again on earth. She was as guiltless of injuring Germany as the babe she certainly did not live to bear.

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

Toward THE END OF JULY great nervousness was apparent among the Germans. There was much sabotage in the town, and one heard constant explosions. Whenever there was the slightest anti-German indication, the armored cars rushed through the street and bombs were thrown into buildings, regardless of who was in them. We could hear the houses come crashing down. Discipline became increasingly severe. Past now were the comparatively pleasant scenes in the hot sunny yard that had made our lives such a strange mixture of the humdrum and the cruel. In the early days the scene had often been like this: at one end, in the shadow of the high wall, a barber lathers a fellow prisoner while the next in line, perhaps a fat jolly man keeping up his courage, tells with many gestures some funny tale. At the other end the sadist chief warder, Richter, unbends over a game of chess, his opponent a man in heavy leg chains-and when I say heavy I mean medievally heavy, like anchor chains. Interestedly watching and discussing each move is a group of other chained men. (Tony the forest ranger always won.) Here and there crushed little Jews are endlessly sweeping the rough cobblestones, the pigeons hurrying out of their way. The heavily armed sentry yawns and leans against the iron gate. In the center of the yard a crowd of guards surrounds our only colored fellow prisoner, old Jimmy White, a noted saxophone player, white-haired and over seventy. One guard is pointing a revolver at his feet while they all yell: "Tanz, Neger, Tanz! [Dance, nigger, dance!]" Smiling gently, the dignified old fellow shuffles painfully around, the young brutes doubling up with laughter. That is how it was during the first weeks. But that was all past Now there was much hurrying in and out of extra guard troops. There were rumors that the prison was to be attacked-that an attempt was going to be made to rescue us. All the hostages-ministers, judges, bankers, professors, doctors- were put in the cellar. Machine guns, searchlights, and a loud-speaker were mounted, and we heard that when an attack started, the governor would announce that if it did not instantly cease all hostages would be murdered on the spot. One evening there was a sudden frantic pounding on the gate. A stark-naked German ran in, screaming that the attack was about to begin. There was an ominous, deathly stillness in the prison. The radio for once was silent, and we all heard the shouted order: "Prepare to shoot the hostages!" Our door was slammed, locked, and bolted. The air in the crowded cell became suffocating. Would my women be in greater danger from outside or inside? I had instructed them when shooting began to lie down under the windows. I had also stolen a piece of strong wire clothesline with which I could fasten the door from the inside and hang the lid of our night pail over the peephole. This would give us a few seconds, possibly minutes, to move over to the inside walls if the guards began shooting at us from inside.

Suddenly a wild explosion of shots in the cellar. He shook her off without a word. "Who shot him? I gave no order. Toward dawn we heard again a banging on the gate. The governor rushed out. Richter hurried out into the corridor. then silence again. have you any real conception what would be your fate if the German heel were on your neck? Nothing in your experience. to slow starvation. for the love of God! They didn't do it.. your husbands dead. She was dragged. yelling. every decency you lived by-gone. We had forgotten what it was to sleep a night through. "It was not my husband. your children dragged away to an unspeakable fate. at the news that there would be a transport. No sound in the town. These transports were the cause of more terror among the women than death itself." Confused arguments and shouts. and we heard the trample of running feet. "Who did it?" "I had to. A student of history said to me the other day: "Even in the worst days of Genghis Khan victorious troops were allowed to rape. spare them. About once a fortnight. Every goodness. A woman. and then it had to stop. Nothing further happened that night. the women ran an actual fever of dread. The night passed in strain. Silent. their eyes bright. I ran to the peephole. "He was asking for it." screamed a guard. none knew-but none of the hostages. could give: any basis for understanding.Would it be the Communists or the Chetniks? Whichever it was. The ones selected took leave of us as if going to something unimaginably evil. or the pit of the unspeakable concentration camps-who would rather die quickly here at home? You women in America. not my son! Oh God. the ghetto. turned round and stamped back into the office. he's only twelve. to sexual infamy. breathless waiting." . hopelessly lost forever. in your reading. nothing in your films. Brothel.. Spare them. Next morning a large number of men were taken out for transport -whither.spare them!" She clasped him frantically round the knees. farm labor at the mercy of German farm hands. ominous silence. seemed a far worse horror than to die outright." bellowed the governor. moaning. It would mean the loss of everything: your homes destroyed. and running feet. But the German have gone beneath the low-water mark of ancient savagery-they never stop at all. made a gesture. To be transported to Germany to forced labor. her clothes torn. we would be ready. lay on the ground before that glaring brute. ml murder and loot for three days. began quite loudly to hum our Chetnik song. We couldn't sleep. through the gate.. The Serbian women. and trampling the everlasting heavy-booted trampling.

in decent men.The Serbs Chose War. delicately bred. coming out again with the men who unlocked the car and unloaded the bags. with a heart-shaped face and curly brown hair. The heavy Prussian boots were no match for her fleet young legs. on the outskirts. The truck blazed up and burned to the frame. however. She looked at them gently and smiled. Carefully she had observed the habits of the drivers and armed guards. Towards morning. The cook of one of the ladies then in our cell was coming out of the back gate of a house. she was caught. all the chivalry. she took from her basket a large bottle and. So first they tried every sort of mental pressure. She darted round a corner. Quickly and calmly she set matches to it. gray-brown eyes had that confiding. the 24th of July. with market basket on her arm. Her large. splashed it with gasoline. then fierce beating. They were systematic about it. While her lover was away organizing sabotage. In the minute while the men went inside. walking round the car. a mere shooting of a young girl-patriot was much too kindly for the Germans. working on her fear for herself and for her family. She and the young man to whom she was engaged were trusted members of the Serbian Underground. Every night. beat and questioned her. That should be easy. Zora insisted on going over another back fence and creeping away. On that morning. a skilled violinist. open look that brings out all the protective instincts. dainty and really beautiful. She could and did expect nothing better than to be shot. The uproar of pursuit passed and died away in the distance. she seized her. stripped and beat and questioned. they thought. dragged her in. Seeing the fleeing girl. and would certainly search the whole district. she received the information that on a certain day orders for mass executions of Serbs were to arrive with lists of certain men to he killer nil over Serbia. From a window in the town she had watched the German Headquarters' mail car arrive each day. they resorted to whipping. . whom she had known from childhood. Calmly she started out of town. Zora was a Serbian girl not quite seventeen. Rather than forfeit the lives of people in the house. They determined to force her to tell where her lover had gone and with whom he was working. was brought in. with such a delicate. If there could be a delay of just a few days these men could be warned to get away. gentle little girl. hoping-only hoping-to see her lover just once again. They always got out and went into the building. in those dark hours when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb. Then they began knocking her about and. they took her out. modest. Yells and a wild volley of firing pursued her as she ran down the street. when still not one word could be forced out of her. The bloodhounds would soon be back. Ruth Mitchell 58. and slammed the gate. she passed at exactly the right instant. MY SISTER ZORA ON JULY 26 Zora B. But.

back again in your beautiful home. In vain: Zora. at seven-thirty on the morning of August 3.. stunned with helpless agony. Only tell us what we want to know. There were now three Englishwomen there on their way to internment. each day more painfully. her father. no more pain: you will have freedom and safety with your family. to marry and have children of your own. holding the hand of one of us. We too were silent. I do not know. tears-the tears I had forbidden and always tried to dry when I was there. her eyes wide with agony. of childhood happiness. Conditions in the prison and in the country were getting steadily more fearful. trying to give me a last signal of courage and affection. "See. She threw her arms round my neck with a frantic. but towards the gate. They seized her roughly and dragged her away. each one of whom I had kissed farewell. Tears. as they crowded together at the crack under the wooden screen on the windows. and her little sister. One day Richter came while I was out of the cell.. All this proving useless. was silent. That should have warned me. safe and free. as in the Thousand and One Nights. instantly sprang between them and cried fiercely: "You can't do that in our presence-we're British!" Richter screamed at her: "Do you think we like beating little girls? It's England that's forcing us to do it. I was seeing too much for the comfort of my jailers. She could not sit or lie down except on her face. one day they took little Zora back to her home. In any case. "see. not back to her cell. these monsters. a very brave Serbian woman once married to an Englishman." they said. John Bull sits back and smokes his pipe and lets children do his dirty work for him. I was told that I would be transported within an hour to Germany. They let her stand in her own dining room amid her dear familiar things which spoke of love. Her whole back swelled up and burst into a jellied mass of blood. her face black and blue." Zora smiled her gentle smile. As I was herded out with other prisoners Zora broke through the guards. He struck Zora savagely across the ear to break the eardrum." They dragged Zora out to beat her. Zora. who had fled. I had tried to help them pass the dark. Your friends cannot help you now-and they will die in any case. silently. Olga Pearson.. convulsive hug of love-the only moment in all those eight days when her emotion was too strong for her. round the yard with us at daily exercise or lay quietly. of her mother. But calmly every day she walked. Never shall I forget the faces of the women. But you shall live to be happy. She whispered in my ear: "My sister. As an American.Two hours every night for eight nights she was taken out from our prison to be beaten. To me she remains-my sister. No more beatings. She had high wound fever. you shall be free. Who now would tell them the endless stories of ancient heroes with which. be sure of that. miserable hours? ." Whether she meant to express the warm love between us or to remind me that she was leaving her small sister to my care.

Where are you now. to persuade him to use some influence in favor of Zora on his return to Belgrade. my lovely sister Zora." He looked at his gold wrist watch. . so common there as hardly to draw notice. you needn't worry any more." My little sister Zora. In our hearts remains your everlasting epitaph: Heroine of Serbia. slim fingers were the last thing I saw before the great prison gate shut behind me and I set my face towards whatever fate was now to bring.) The Gestapo transport officer was a nice-looking fellow. At the wrecked station we were marched to the train and put into an ordinary third-class carriage. really lovely and gently bred. my splendid Serbian women? Where are you. my dear. "only sixteen. from the stern. Such Kultur necessities were still unknown in the "primitive" Balkans. As he showed faint signs of reasonableness I thought it might conceivably be possible to arouse some shame in him. who loves her country as your own daughter would love hers. Men gathered across the street to watch us being carted off. We were put into a covered truck without seats. suffocating German prison trains. She won't be beaten again. just-yes. Yet she is being systematically tortured to death. whose children would have played with one's own. They stood without movement as we drove off. how they felt. dear Katitsa? Your long. Can one helpless child be so dangerous to the great German Reich as to justify-that?" "Oh." he said calmly but with a kind of leering cynicism impossible to describe. We conversed a little. A quick glance round gave me my last view of ruined Belgrade. I could tell. just an hour and a half ago-she was hanged. "Just a little girl. the kind of man one would have invited to dinner in the old days. steady way in which they tried to catch my eye." I said. You see. "You mean the pretty Zora. (Not until we crossed the frontier into Germany did we meet the famous black. who feared only one thing: disloyalty! Sleep sweetly in your nameless grave. and I tried to sound him out on some of the milder German phenomena. so simply unafraid of all that the most evil men could do. "Well.

If ever men were doing what they were willing and glad to do. Like weathercocks. This Croat army would now be equipped with the finest weapons of the great German war factories to turn upon the pitifully ill equipped remnant of Serb troops-the few left outside German prison camps-and upon my relatively unarmed Chetniks. I saw not a single German soldier among them: they were commanded by their own officers who looked quite as cheerful as their troops. unmistakably different both in color and cut from the German. and against our allies and their "brothers. . at a heavy cost of blood. These were Croat soldiers who by thousands were mobilizing to fight for the Axis. yet I had tried to think of it as something sporadic. To my surprise. Our Gestapo guards spoke of it as if it were so well known as hardly to be worth comment." the Serbs. forced upon them neither from outside their own frontiers nor from inside by new rulers of their own race. They all wore the Yugoslav army uniform. The carriage had wide windows which we were allowed to have open. though I should have known that this would happen. waiting for trains to take them away. had freed these very Croats from hated Austrian oppression and had been thanked with fervid protestations of "undying" gratitude and love. Ruth Mitchell 59. in her hatred and fury. Enclosed as Serbia was by a tightening steel band of German. due to local ill feeling of small disaffected groups. they turn to every wind that blows. would this time stop at nothing less. I watched carefully. When I say that I was surprised I mean that.]" Nothing less coerced than these Croat soldiers could be imagined. Though I myself when with the Serbian troops had been repeatedly ambushed by Croat soldiers on the sixth night of the war. Only twenty-three years ago the Serbs. And now what now lay ahead for the Serbs? After all their splendid history were they now at last doomed to extermination? I knew that Germany. They were fully armed. Said one of them with satisfaction: "Nicht nur gegen die verfluchten Kommunisten sondern gegen die verdammten Serben-Schweine couch. [Not only against the cursed Communists but against the damned Serb swine too. the Russians. all the innumerable small stations at which the slow train stopped were crowded with soldiers. I passed in the German prison train via Zagreb through almost the whole breadth of what now calls itself the Independent State of Croatia. ON AUGUST 3. But Croats have short memories. it was these. And these traitors to their one-time "brothers" would be a tool ready to her hand. 1941. A DREAM STRONGER THAN TANKS So. I had subconsciously tried to put away the thought.The Serbs Chose War. skylarking. laughing. Here was the proof that when the Croats went over to the Germans it was the real expression of a people as a people. These Goats were going willingly to give their lives fighting against our allies.

cunning. They would have transport with an inexhaustible supply of bullets-when ours would be all shot away. I could not know what has since been proved: that the Serbs did have something. what could they oppose to all this crushing strength? Those were my miserable thoughts that night as I was carried off into the silence of long months in German prisons. a young and untried leader. They would have bombers. and not the least of children. Hungarian. the embodiment of a race's fighting spirit. while we had-none. every incentive to kill. I could not foresee the future.Italian. as they certainly meant to do. They would be directed by the highest trained military minds of Europe. the toughest men in Europe. it gave them speed. soon again be fact. The Serbs had this: they had a dream. when in the fearful Balkan winter we had-rags. How could the Serbs withstand. or tanks could ever pierce or conquer or destroy. That dream had turned into an armor which no plots. They had a dream which through the centuries had crystallized into a great tradition. They would be given every help. It gave them power. would teach them all that they needed. no bombs. something that their enemies had not taken into account. give her the last fatal stab in the back? They knew the terrain almost as well as the Serbs. would lead my Chetniks. alertness. could not these Croats. As it had made them tough. something they could never be prepared for. or atrocities. that passionate love of freedom. my Chetnik brothers? They were ready! And from the thousand nameless deeds of unsung heroes. superhuman power. They spoke almost the same language. into a national purpose and a national will. fighters. They would have food-when ours was gone. planes. and Bulgarian armies. Mihailovich. the heaviest blasting and incendiary bombs. The Serbs had a dream of liberty. they would have tanks and armored trains and heavy guns of every caliber. never understand-and never overcome. guns. yes. Ready. . That dream. mass murders. now as ever in their history. Mihailovich. an age-old dream of freedom will surely soon. surrounded by a world of bloodhounds. gave them strength and wisdom. to survive and hold. Draja Mihailovich and his Serbs would stand alone-but STAND. That should make it easy for them to work their way in behind our lines. men and women. That dream. the textile factories of all Europe to draw upon for clothing. to endure. an indomitable valor. with a price of a million dollars on his head. gas.

the police barracks in Spandau. She led physical-training exercises every morning. starved though we were. We talked all day and most of the night. When the hour strikes there will be action by those fiendishly treated millions. farms. especially in Austria. who all. and. and from the sedatives which were administered to us in the so-called coffee (a thin liquid made probably from burnt acorns). a brilliant girl of only nineteen. because they foretell the fall of Hitler. she had refused to obey an order to become a schoolteacher in Poland. We had to keep body and soul together on thin potato soup and two chunks of bread per day. Their gentle. Her uncle had just returned from the Russian front. it was almost impossible to swallow it without some added taste. and almost always tragic story. lack of vitamins and exercise. has been admirable-and funny. There were the real Communists. and the internment camps. Each of the hundreds of women I met had her different. already over two years in the prison without a single sight of the sky. and astrologers. Salzburg and Ulm. . the prison camps. and her courage marched like a banner. There are also the ghettos. and the Nazis are hounding them ferociously. Ruth Mitchell EPILOGUE AFTER BEING TAKEN from Belgrade I spent longer or shorter periods in the following prisons: Graz. of German prisons: the regular prisons. Munich. The Nazis are determined to force her to hand them over and so cannot let her die. including sight and hearing. There was the already famous Viktoria. I contracted scurvy. later. and factories. the concentration camps. bread so slimy and repulsive that. I could. as repeated by her. whose strong faith upheld them in a sort of shining brightness. Each is a distinct form of prison. and dedicated mien is unmistakable. by taking the tiniest nibbles. brothels. were unprintable. fortunately only slightly. and she gloried in them. must be incarcerated. which has already lasted two and a half years. reminding one of the early Christian martyrs. There were special groups of prisoners which one came to recognize at sight. Her behavior during her imprisonment. a blazing Nazi fire had been reduced to cold. I forced myself to swallow it by covering it with the taste of lemon peel. whatever one thought about communism. firm. make it last for four days.action such as imagination boggles at. There are four major types. When I was lucky enough to get hold of the peel of one half of a lemon (I was never lucky enough to get the inside) sent in to some prisoner by relatives." These are mostly people in humble walks of life. The prisons of Germany bulge with suffering humanity.The Serbs Chose War. gray ashes. His stories. began to give out. And when I was moved on again. numerologists. prophets. palmists. Vienna. it is hard for me to feel very sympathetic. There were the fortunetellers. Let me add that the experience of such hardships makes life seem good to me now-a thousand fold more splendid and beautiful even than it was before. living only for her music. In Vienna I saw the notable Frau Neumann (though I only saw her naked!). In Munich I occupied for ten days a cell with a red-hot Nazi concert singer imprisoned because. strengthening to all who came in contact with them. When I hear women complaining about a lack of luxuries in America. interesting. Strangest of all are the members of a very widespread and fast-growing organization called the "Bible Searchers. I became very weak from under nourishment. and all organs. One lump of sugar could be made to last two days. who possesses and had managed to send to America three of the only seven paintings by Hitler known to be extant. There are not less than ten million foreigners at slave labor in Germany. each with variations.

hiding by day. the American. to the British. I met Polish girls. I can never sufficiently express my thanks. Her father was murdered when. marching the German roads by night. they are escaping in hundreds. When I arrived at Liebenau (translated "Field of Leve") after months in prison. and I spent every waking moment happily studying. and entirely viewless prison trains which shuttle ceaselessly across the German landscape. with the snowcapped mountains of free Switzerland on the horizon. Seventeen children are being brought up under these circumstances. carried off to Germany and put on farms at the mercy of the lowest German farm hands. I was put into internment with the British women internees at the Liebenau Internment Camp in Wurttemberg. thrown into trucks and. high seat of Nazi Kultur. Always I was marched in and out. to indescribable degradation or to death. fed and clothed us well. without a word to their parents. a German sailor fired wildly. When I first saw there the garden of flowers with nuns walking gently in pairs back and forth. steady good nature of these British women was remarkable. determined to return home. They are spiritually inviolate. I was allowed to work in the great and beautiful convent library. thanks entirely to the Red Cross. Their clothes in ribbons. a terrible phenomenon of which little is yet known in America. some of whom have already been there for three years. almost airtight. On everyone who reads this I want to impress the fact that Germans are scrupulously observing the Red Cross agreements for the sole and sufficient reason that England holds more German civilian internees . without provocation. At the end fifty American citizens arrived. owing to the complete lack of any sports. to the even more fearful concentration camps. and the International Red Cross for the regular weekly parcels of one week's food and the occasional supply of dress materials and underclothes. with lines of chained men. These parcels. But nerves were strained. One was born there in internment. But there were still about five hundred gibbering lunatics left to add to the misery of the British women. to my great surprise. I was able to follow the significant developments in Germany by reading the local newspapers and talking to people who came in. Yet their calm. but for which I should not be alive today to write this book. and paradise it continued to seem to me in spite of all its sorrows. When caught they are returned to the same farms from which they fled and to treatment which one does not dare think of. well-bred university students who. and the thanks of all of us internees. the Swiss. a very rare privilege. This is a great lunatic asylum run by German Roman Catholic nuns. Five hundred lunatics had been murdered to make room for the internees. The patient. and heart disease was spreading swiftly. often the only woman. They are unquestionably keeping alive the women and children I sorrowfully left behind there and are saving the older women from madness. on shipboard. returning from lectures.Everywhere I was transported in the black. I was very weak. grim courage remains absolutely unshaken. utterly depraved German youth. At last. shoes gone. I was more spat at than elsewhere. Their rough walls are scrawled with despairing or brave messages from their previous occupants on their way to ghettos. carefully worked out for calories and vitamins and for maximum warmth. into a group of unarmed prisoners. In those black prison trains I met specimens of the wild. the thought flashed that I must really be dead and gone to paradise after all! Paradise it seemed to me then. after what I had been through. They represent a violent reaction to the Nazi regimentation and are a dreadful portent to the German race. It is possibly significant that in Munich. had been seized on Warsaw streets. near the Lake of Constance. mostly Polish Jewesses quickly exchanged with America. I quickly and fully recovered.

on June 30. In view of all that the Serbs have done-for us. what an immeasurable debt each one of us owes to the small yet great race of Serbs. in view of all they have saved-to us. The Serbs did not bargain with us for their help: they gave it. I was strangely enough free without shadowing for five hours and I met a group of Germans and two Irish broadcasters working for the Nazis. I was exchanged to money and in lives. I was back home after four years of great happiness. I gave the dying men and women of Serbia my promise that I would spend the rest of my life looking after their children. Through the efforts of my relatives and friends. As we approached the harbor we were all on deck. I promised them that America would never forget the bond and the debt. They fear British reprisals. German policy is directed by two principles. and of my sister. Harriet Mitchell Fladoes. . great inspiration. in view of all they have lost in fighting-for us. leaving our recognition of it to American honor. of Zetta Carveth Wells. eagerly straining our eyes to see the great statue that beacons the entrance of New York Harbor. I wrote this book to help the United Nations realize what the Balkans mean directly to us. which they believe to be not inferior to their own. indescribable pain. 1942. Knowing that nothing could have been nearer to the fighting heart of my brother than the Fighting Serbs. I rely upon my countrymen with complete trust to help me to keep that pledge. I also got in touch with a British agent still calmly working there. especially. I expected that when we saw it we would all burst into songs and cheers. Instead we all simply burst into tears: we had come from the lands where even to say the word "liberty" put men and women and children in danger of instant death. He had just viewed the results of the first great block-busting attack on Cologne. I pledged American honor that the thousands upon thousands of orphans left in a ruined land would be cherished by their American brothers and sisters. I propose that for the rebuilding and the future of Serbia we appropriate the cost to us of one day of war. In Berlin on June 14. greed and fear. to whom I can never be sufficiently grateful. I have established in his memory the General Billy Mitchell Memorial Foundation for Balkan Youth. Ruth Norna van Breda Yohn. I returned to America with nine hundred other American citizens on the last exchange ship arriving in New York. especially of my daughter. Serbia was the only small country in Europe to come in openly on our side before she was herself attacked. 1942. I pledged the honor of my country. In the train through the heart of Germany to Berlin and again in the sealed train from Berlin to Lisbon I watched carefully and was able to draw certain conclusions. But as slowly it emerged from the early mist there was not a sound.than the Germans hold British.

1918. This policy was applied first by the Turks. The chief industry of Yugoslavia was agriculture. Kipling's famous war correspondent who used to go around muttering "Mark my words. a new state was created: the kingdom of the Serbs. and the Slovenes in the northwestern part of the kingdom and. It was composed of the three countries previously known as Serbia. The care of the soil is well understood. one of the two best harbors in the Balkans. Officially proclaimed in Belgrade. and Slovenia are homogeneous. and there were heavy settlements of Germans in . have profoundly affected the political and military situation in the Balkans. Croats. and last by Germany during the period between World War I and World War II. up the Vardar and Morava river valleys of Serbia to Vienna. Students from Croatia finished their education in the universities of Vienna and Prague. Croats. not so much because of natural resources. On December I. Only Slovenia and the northern part of Croatia are industrialized. startling events. The fact that the Serbs stand astride this strategic highway largely explains the troubled history of these people. the Balkans have played an important role in European history. and the people are extraordinarily hardy.. When in the seventh century the great schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople split the Mediterranean world into halves. But whenever a great power considered it profitable to intrigue in the Balkans. Ancient laws forbid the breaking up of these family farms. A further fact of importance is that the province of Croatia adjoins Austro-Hungary and that the ties between the cultural life of Croatia and of Austria have always been close. the country of the southern Slavs. the seeds of which I saw planted both before the German invasion and afterward. Morava. but by the "divide and rule" policy which the would-be masters of the world have always used to further their ends. then with great astuteness by Italy. There are almost no large landed proprietors and no nearfeudal agricultural serfs. the territory now called Yugoslavia lay on the border line of the two religious faiths.e. In blood and language the people of Serbia. as in many other parts of Europe. the Croats in the western. Although small. not by an essential instability of the inhabitants themselves.The Serbs Chose War. and Nishava as they flow through Yugoslavia. i. But in historical conditioning and religion the races are very different. The Serbs live mainly in the eastern. nutritional standards are high. The Serbs developed their own church with a Patriarch independent of Constantinople. and Slovenes. Croatia. and Slovenia and soon changed its name for convenience to Yugoslavia. ready to be fanned into hot flame. but because they form the age-old corridor from Asia to Europe. and Slovenes. Ruth Mitchell YUGOSLAVIA: A VERSAILLES FAILURE SINCE JUNE 1942. One of the shortest routes to Germany for a land army invading Europe leads from Salonika in Greece. religious rivalry was there. But Balkan trouble was caused. Croatia. I feel obliged. as is often the case in mountainous countries. to supplement my narrative of personal experience by a more systematic account of what happened to the doomed kingdom of the Serbs. the characteristics of these different races are strikingly distinct. when I returned to America. therefore. it was immediately recognized by the United States. The shortest route from northern Europe to the Near East follows the river valleys of the Danube. there'll be trouble in the Balkans in the spring" often saw his predictions fulfilled. For over a thousand years the province of Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Serbia proper is predominantly devoted to farming and the average landholding is about twenty acres.

dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately. . Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. and-World War I started. had always been a subject people.500. while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. Dalmatia and Slovenia.000 Jews. . . In fact. . deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 500. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans. In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. taken from Austria.000 Croats . who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. . Says Leon Dominian.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1.000. 300.000. 3. 8. and India. taken from Hungary. have been relatively unaffected by German culture. 3.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks. .000 #Mixed Elements . Croats.000 6. THE RELATIONS OF THE SERBS AND THE CROATS In view of the basic historical differences between the Croats and the Serbs it was hardly to be expected that the kingdom of Yugoslavia. of course. 500. fighting only on the side of their overlords. an incident which almost provoked a world war. would work out smoothly. In contrast to the Croats. Then. . hastily put together in 1918.000 Hungarians. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century. . . These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs. 1914. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization. on the other hand. the Serbs. also asked for a national state. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire.Croatian territory.000 Rumanians. . .1. aided by the Dalmatian Croats.500. the Croats became experts at intrigue.250. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs . and Slovenes into an independent state. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. . In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. and Bosnia and Herzegovina." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. . . . as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. 75. 500. agitating always for their own advantage. . From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream. the Persian Gulf. Croatia and Voivodina. Therefore.000.000 Germans. Croats.000 Albanians. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia. . to consist of Serbs. .000 Slovenes . was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. -.

and humane part of the former Yugoslav Army. In Serbia and Croatia. which lies on the Adriatic. the Croats had long been a focus of Austro-Hungarian intrigues.Croats felt about their own abilities as compared with those of the Serbs is indicated in an article which appeared in a Croatian paper of Zagreb in December 1942: "The Croats composed. that as citizens of the new kingdom they were no longer the most important and coddled group of South Slavs. Because of their expertness in agitation. polite. Because the Croats of the province of Dalmatia. and adaptable element of the former army. This was a comedown. since they were the most cultured. for instance. there were in 1918 only two classes. a situation the Croat intellectuals found irksome. and also France and the other Allies feared that Italy would claim Dalmatia in the peace settlement. together with Austria and Hungary. The relations of the Serbs and Croats were complicated not only by the rivalries of intellectuals. or non-Slavic extraction. the most intelligent. However. 1918. the largest city of Croatia. especially for the Croat intellectuals. fought the Serbs in World War I. because of their familiarity with German culture. who considered themselves to be much more "enlightened" than the Serb intellectuals. They preferred union with the Serbs to the possibility of being gobbled up by Italy. but among the Slav students in the University of Prague in Czechoslovakia. the class from which all government officials were drawn. first of all. Politics were controlled and political opinion colored by these intellectuals to a much greater degree than here. but of German. were given no time to consider and decide the terms on which they were to be included or what the form of government should be.. They were also influenced by the fact that Germany was clearly losing the war and that Austro-Hungary would obviously be dismembered. later King Alexander. who-outnumbered them by almost three to one. It is difficult for Americans to appreciate how important is the role of the so-called intellectual. In the new kingdom. especially in the smaller states of Europe." Interesting is the fact that the majority of Croatian intellectuals in Zagreb. Hungarian. but the state they had envisaged was one in which they themselves would be the dominant element.. a Declaration of Unity was hastily rushed through on December I. The dream of a South Slav union had not originated either in Serbia or Croatia. were not Croatians by birth.. but by financial considerations. placing authority over the new state in the hands of the Serbian prince regent. however. they never . An agreement to this effect was concluded between the Serbian Government and the Yugoslav Committee in London and promulgated in the famous Corfu Declaration of July 1917. a third and coequal part of an Austro-Hungarian-Slav Empire. the competition for government jobs was intense. and the relatively uneducated farmers. as citizens of Austro-Hungary. a position which they had occupied in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is true that most Croats had wanted to belong to a Slav state. Hardly was the new kingdom a month old when some of the Croats were already loudly voicing their dissatisfaction with their new political status. There was. they held at least half of the government jobs. Owing to this the Croats handled the greater share of responsibility in maintaining the Serbian Army. the matter of the war debts. experienced. In the technical troops also the Croats were in the majority. Since the Serbs were in the majority. with the exception of a few Slovenes. Just how the. Because about 98 per cent of the educated classes in Yugoslavia made their living by holding government positions and only 2 per cent entered business or the professions. Thus the members of this new state.and Slovenes. and in which they would form. and did great damage to Serbia. the Croats soon found. they found themselves second to the Serbs. their desire to belong to a Slavic state led them during the last war to seek union with the Serbs. When this aspiration showed itself a mirage. the educated men or intellectuals. greatly to their displeasure. Although the Croats. especially the Croats. cultured.

But Croatia. Pernar appearing reluctant. by which-without protest.Voivodina. especially in the area centering around the city of Zagreb. But Croatia. A uniform tax law for the new state was worked out in 1926. The Croats were. was rich in industries. in World War I. which had only 3. Punisha Rachich. On the contrary. Matters were made much worse by the fact that while Pernar was only lightly .000. the nexus of retired businessmen and officials who had used Vienna as a center moved on to Zagreb. partly by Croats themselves. Croatia. Rachich. drew a gun and shot him. Ivan Pernar. Between 1918 and 1940 the population of Zagreb increased from 80. Stepan Radich. They also did their best to prevent the reconstruction of highways and railroads outside of Croatia. Since income taxes had been introduced by the state considerable sums were collected from the prosperous and in some cases extremely wealthy citizens of Croatia. secondly. at first refused to participate in the Yugoslav Parliament. was obviously too small to achieve or hold political independence without selling out to one of the great European powers. and the Croat Frankist Party. There was. the question of taxes. A Yugoslav constitutional assembly was held in 1920 and a Parliament was established. paid almost 50 per cent of the country's taxes. in an attempt to promote national unity and to forget old rivalries. In 1930. Croats. While the deputy. was suddenly available in abundance. Because Vienna had lost much of its former charm and Gemutichkeit when World War I ended. At this the Croatians balked. There were twelve political parties in the kingdom. leader of the Croat Peasant Party. mostly from Vienna and Budapest. They refused to subscribe to state loans and opposed the construction of railroads in any part of the kingdom except Croatia itself. by far the richest agricultural area in the kingdom. which became known as the Little Vienna of Europe. THE CROATIANS DEMAND INDEPENDENT CROATIA AN From the beginning there were many individuals and political parties in Croatia that wanted to secede from the kingdom of Serbs.000. therefore. The policy of the new state was to spend part of the national taxes on developing the poorer and more backward sections of the kingdom. and demanded that Pernar retract his insults. stung beyond bearing. Rachich. deputies being elected from the old historic provinces out of which the kingdom had been composed. and Slovenes. In 1928 a Montenegrin deputy killed two Croatian deputies during a session of Parliament. This was unfortunate and made the task of the new state much more difficult than it might otherwise have been. able to elect deputies from districts where they constituted the majority of the population. Foreign capital. a member of the Croat Peasant Party. This meant that during the early years of the kingdom the representation of Croats in Parliament was small. these provinces were divided into nine administrative districts named after the rivers of Yugoslavia. as part of the new kingdom.paid Serbia a penny in reparations. was advocating the necessity of developing a backward section of the kingdom. in a violent diatribe threw doubt upon the honesty of his intentions. They wanted all the taxes collected in Croatia to be spent on Croatia. while a poor province agriculturally compared with Voivodina or Serbia. the Croat Clerical Party. to which about 80 per cent of the Croats belonged. which had been destroyed.000 people. a hardy mountaineer. could not tamely submit to attacks upon his honor. Their goal was complete independence for the Goats.000 to 350. three of them purely Croatian: the Croat Peasant Party. shared in the reparations which Germany paid to Serbia.

He therefore tried to suppress disruptive elements by imprisonment. A judicial investigation of the murder by the International Tribunal at Geneva was actually by-passed by Laval. and barracks in Yugoslavia were blown up. who are justifiably proud of their great democratic tradition. The situation quickly became so impossible that on January 6. An attempt by his henchmen to assassinate King Alexander in Zagreb in 1933 failed. Two days after the signing of the Vienna pact. after giving much thought to improving the constitution and voting practices of the country. sent the regent Prince Paul into exile. However. He believed. a Croat lawyer of Zagreb. of course. who were afire with the hope of political independence for Croatia to be guaranteed by the Great contained the provision that German troops were not to pass through Yugoslav territory. These men were sent to Italy and Hungary and drilled in terrorist tactics. As is now known. Italy paid the bill but for some time got nothing in return. (The relations between Laval and Pavelich still require clarification. This dictatorship was disliked not only by the Croats but even more by the Serbs. A few trains. The King devoted himself to trying to resolve this difficulty. forced the resignation of the pro-German ministry. Pavelich recruited his Ustashi army from Croats living in Croatia and Dalmatia and from those living in Belgium and South America. but the French courts condemned the assassins in absentia. the French did not press him. and put the young King . that the unity of the state must be upheld by force. The sincerity of the King's intentions is shown by the fact that he again reconstituted Parliament in 1931. since the right of passage to Greece was what Germany wanted. with the help of almost all the political leaders of Serbia. King Alexander dissolved Parliament and announced his own dictatorship. be noted that no political prisoner ever died in a Yugoslav prison. Croatia.) The Croats of the United States. they also killed the French Foreign Minister. carried out a coup d'etat. ENTER THE CROAT USTASHI In January 1939.wounded. By accident. on March 27. 1934. when Mussolini refused to extradite Dr. Ante Pavelich or any of the other Croatian Ustashi implicated in the killing. 1941. but he considered that no other step could prevent the complete dissolution of his country. Dr. The uproar can be imagined. Pavelich turned to Rome and immediately found an enthusiastic patron in Mussolini. Ante Pavelich. president of the Croat Peasant Party. two other Croatian deputies were accidentally killed. Barthou. Since adequate funds for a revolt of the Croats against the Serbs could not be obtained from Vienna or Budapest. It is certain that about 8o per cent of the Croats were strongly pro-German. But an actual invasion of the province of Lika in 1932 proved a fiasco. who had not realized that Yugoslavia had already moved so far Axisward. The Serbian general Simovich. 1929. (It should. and the Croatian Ustashi succeeded in murdering King Alexander in Marseilles on October 10. this was. Alexander realized that he was acting contrary to popular feeling. organized a secret terrorist organization known as the Ustashi. while 8o per cent of the Serbs were strongly anti-German. secret clauses in the Vienna pact granted this and other concessions to the Germans. shortly after the shooting of Stepan Radich. as did Abraham Lincoln when the southern states wished to secede from the Union. the Serbs acted. The Vienna pact came as a great shock to most Serbs.) The Croats now shrieked that the whole world must see how they were being suppressed by a dictatorial government. or Rebels. however. One great difficulty had been that there were too many political parties and that consequently the ministry in power frequently did not have a sufficient majority to act effectively. Mussolini began to put pressure on Pavelich. Pavelich was ambitious to become ruler of an independent Croatia. police stations. one of whom was Stepan Radich. purely hypocritical.

in firing incorrectly. Pavelich arrived with his Ustashi. in Croatia proper. declared war on the Allies. in its victorious swing. Simultaneously. it was a suicidal step. Germany attacked Yugoslavia on April 6. HOW CROATIA FOUGHT AGAINST SERBIA On the same day that the Germans entered Zagreb. gave orders on the radio to all his followers to co-operate with the Axis. the internal role. The article is titled "The Croat Soldier in the Present War": "It is now clear. Dr. but especially against the Serbs. "forever free" of the kingdom of Yugoslavia. When Dr. in creating panics. The Serbs. he was proclaimed its leader. in preventing liaisons. however. as well as maps of the carefully hidden mountain landing fields of Serbia to be used by the Yugoslav air forces.Peter on the throne. in all those battles the Croats acted according to an issued order. but to sacrifice their lives and all they possessed rather than to lose the liberty which they had achieved after centuries of bitter struggle. Croatia was proclaimed an independent state. were determined not to become German subjects. During the war there were many indescribable cases of sabotage and defeatism done by the Croats while in the service of the former (Yugoslav) army.. They needed fifteen days to mobilize and would have been ready April 12. "However. Machek. its indescribable moral enthusiasm." Croatia was to fight on Germany's side. destructive role. according . the joining the colors of the Croats in the infantry was reduced to about 30 to 40 per cent. "Even before the beginning of the war. and its adeptness. Well aware of that fact. and in destroying all sorts of military equipment. Just as they proved themselves in peacetime in their fight against the Serbian megalomania and hegemony. three days before Germany declared war on Yugoslavia. "that the German Army. so that there was nothing in order. In a word. flew to Graz and handed over to the Nazis the war plans of the Serbian Army. who had carried on the intrigues with Germany. the Croats worked splendidly. its knowledge. Result: Belgrade. that which caused the breakdown inside. and were greeted by the wildly enthusiastic cheers of a people who only twenty-three years before had received their Serb "brothers" and "liberators" in exactly the same way. Colonel Kren. all others remained at home or fled to the woods. with its tremendous technical equipment. In such roles. From a common-sense point of view. On April 3. or visited relatives. a Croatian officer of the Yugoslav Army. and later on America. This was equivalent to declaring war on the Axis. the revolutionary. against terror and exploitation -so now in the war all Croats acted as a unit in refusing obedience. the Independent State of Croatia joined the war on the side of the Axis. 1941. was the main factor which caused the defeat of the enemy at the Balkan front and smashed Greece. nothing fired or aimed correctly." says the Croat author.. nothing prepared or dispatched at the right moment. went to places other than the ones designated. in disabling tanks and guns. On April 10 the German troops marched into the city of Zagreb. On March 27 the Serbs began desperately arming. Nova Hrvatska (New Croatia). in ignoring orders." was bombed on April 6 and the Serbian landing fields were all destroyed. The help given by the Croats to the German armies in their attack on the Serbs has been often and proudly described by Croat writers. As part of the price for her "independence.. For instance. We give here a typical example from the Croatian newspaper. in disarming the disbanded Serb soldiers and people. though declared an "open city. not only against Russia. nothing running as it should-that was the important role of the Croats in the collapse of the Balkan front. in its Christmas issue of 1942. nothing in its proper place. destroyed the resistance deep inside enemy (Serbian) lines on the Balkan front as the Germans did outside.

"At another place some Croat soldiers (telephonists). The Germans and Croats performed these great acts. the guns that did fire were damaged. The Croat betrayal was not only an aid to Germany and an almost deadly blow to the Serbs. The 'old gunners' of the last war found means to fire shots in all but the right direction-at German planes. instead of dispatching the orders issued to various commands. together with their prompt and heroic commander. "In the great German offensive toward Nish. this Croat telephonist replied that he had seen some planes flying but they appeared to be 'ours. The price which the Serbs. Pirot. stunned by this Croatian sabotage. "The artillery. through the Cain-like treachery of the Croats." Thus a Croat describes one of Croatia's proud achievements in the military history of World War II. they were unable to use their planes and so to attack the enemy from the air. At a very important railroad junction the commanding officer-a Croat first lieutenant-threw into the stove all his orders and instructions and. had to pay for the dream of a great South Slav state. "What happened in the airdromes is generally known now. seeing the destruction of their most important. in cooperation with the Germans. the instruments for aiming and the mechanical implements were ruined. character. and inclined to flee through the valley of the Vardar toward Salonica and from there to any place which the great. stuffed the gun barrels. is one which no Serbs or any other sensible people would ever let themselves in for a second time. Croat hands. The Croat technicians. were listening to the Ustashi radio station 'Velebit' (the Croat Ustashi radio in Italy). simply departed to his home with all the confidential material. competent. was rendered useless on the whole Balkan front-on the Nishava. thanks to the Croats. the Croats played indeed a great role that brought about the collapse of the Balkan front. indivisible and unconquerable former (Yugoslav) army became impotent. Only by the miracle of a centuries old fighting tradition. but also a very great misfortune to the United Nations. and thus was created the Independent Croatian State. but on Tuesday everything was disrupted. and most bloodthirsty Versailleist in the Balkans. On Palm Sunday the situation was normal. to the last Croat artilleryman. by the stanchness of their hearts and the military brilliance of their leader did the Serbs turn the military . conquered. One very confidential courier (Croat) carrying important military messages from one army to another. and all went wrong on the Nishava. The Serbs. Finally the Croats either deserted or surrendered. mighty. as well as other air service crews. because by the collapse of the former state (Yugoslavia) they smashed after the English the most stubborn. They were instrumental in destroying. Bregalnica. most resisting. too. and aims must never again be so closely bound together. Struma. when the hour came for Serbia to fight. although this had been denied them when they (Croats and Germans) fought shoulder to shoulder in the last war. which cost them heavy and bloody casualties. "Although a small nation. Kolubara. first the former state (Yugoslavia) and with it the eventual collapse of the Balkan front. when the Supreme Command at Belgrade ordered him to identify aircraft flying toward Belgrade. left the airdromes. The fact that the Croats made themselves so eagerly the tools of a foreign power proves that peoples dissimilar in political experience. in his 'alertness' for the maintenance of order in dispatching military transports. Skoplye. and who finally. not knowing what to do. and unconquerable democrats and allies of Albion might determine. and Vardar. Five or six weeks before the war. experienced. mechanics.' although not far from him these same planes (enemy) were bombarding military objects. all firing was into empty space. Bregalnica. There was sabotage even among the anti-aircraft units which turned out to be even a little comical. and strongest line. and excellent soldiers chiefly Croats were sent there to insure this important flank at the cost of their lives. left for their homes. Struma. were paralyzed. and Vardar front. Thanks to the Croats. the Serb officers were deserted and left without any crews. in case the great and powerful. managed to bring into the station ten trainloads of soldiers who did not know where to proceed. most the statement of a soldier.

have never been able to shatter. But from the Croats even worse was to come. in spite of every force and trickery.defeat of the spring of 1941 into a resistance which the Germans. .

so that in the Independent State of Croatia one third of the population of Croatia proper was actually Serb.The Serbs Chose War. many Serbs had moved northward. but which had been given to Croatia in payment for her deal with Germany. incredible as this sounds. and ethnologists to be a Serbian province. Even the German massacres of the Jews. they may have failed to realize that the repression of centuries of vassalage when released would make the Croats run berserk. and nationality know. Ante Pavelich. The Serbs did not live exclusively in Serbia nor the Croats in Croatia. Austro-Hungarian Statistics on the Population of Bosnia: 1914 . an order was published in the Zagreb newspapers requiring all Serbs not natives to the town to leave within twentyfour hours and threatening that anyone hiding Serbs would be shot. This order. The population statistics of Bosnia compiled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914 (prior to the outbreak of World War I). Instead they opposed a people. they settled now here. but also eliminating the Serbs in Bosnia. since it is predominantly Serb. or nationality islands. since Austro-Hungary never liked or was likely to favor the Serbs. women. Croat politicians like Pavelich and Machek had been deliberately teaching their people to hate the Serbs. Europe does not consist of homogeneous populations. At any rate. 1941. where the majority of the population is Serbian. language. Thus in the fifteenth century. Excerpts from four out of many documents describing these massacres are presented here. found effective was never to oppose the government or a particular ministry or party." just as the Germans were taught that all their troubles were due to the Jews.000 defenseless Serbs. geographers. One of the clever stratagems which the Croats. One is by a Mohammedan resident of Croatia. long resident in Croatia-men. when Bosnia was an Austro-Hungarian province. pale by comparison. but of a series of race. and small children-died in literally unprintable circumstances and another halfmillion were driven from their homes. by Dr. From 1918 onward. As all students of race. Bosnia has always been considered by historians. now there. head of the Independent State of Croatia. penniless and dying of starvation by the wayside. the Serbs. and some of these settlements were of very ancient date. This was true of Yugoslavia. Ruth Mitchell THE SERBS' DARKEST HOUR On April 12. and two by Croats themselves. another by a Jewish physician of Belgrade. and about a million had settled in Croatia. as a minority group. A note on how such massacres were feasible is necessary. language. may be considered to be impartial. two days after Croatia became an independent state and joined the Axis. Pavelich decided to secure his position by not only ridding himself of the large Serbian element in Croatia proper. Like Americans who move freely from state to state. It need hardly be said that many Croats are filled with horror at the fiendish crimes committed by their fellow countrymen. when hard pressed by the Turks. was a prelude to a massacre of Serbs not surpassed for brutality and atrocity in the whole sorrowful history of the human race. For twenty-three years prior to the massacres the Croat leaders had been persuading the Croat peasants and workers that all their troubles were due to the Serb "oppressors. In thus instilling hatred in the Croats against their brothers. More than 600.

What happened can best be told by eyewitnesses: . the patriot. Trebinye. three fourths of the population was Serbian. by which time practically all the I. That is. The 420. with almost no resignations. and published in newspapers.250. designed to put the Serbs off their guard.000 620.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. so that. Dushan Jeftanovic.000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs.000 420. it will be seen that there were 1. Travnik. 1941. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. This notice.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together.000 930. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. Dubrovnik. Dr. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. Livno. Croatia's extermination of the Serbs of Bosnia was therefore as much a violation of the ethics of race and nationality which Europe has evolved during the centuries as anything ever done by the Nazis. president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Livno. the Ustashi. and the regular army. On June 22 he issued an order stating that anyone using force against citizens of the country would be severely punished. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. the Home Defense. Sarajevo. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. was broadcast on the radio.000 The 930. mass arrests were made in Zagreb. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. Local Croat officials often participated in the shooting of prominent Serbian citizens belonging to their locality. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government. Mostar. Bogdan Vivodvic. Dr. The 620.970. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31. They went over. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres.550. Ante Pavelich.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians. Banja-Luka. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb. Vojislav Besarovic. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement. read in churches. They continued intermittently until November 1942. who was seventy-five years old. and other towns. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar.

Minister to Poland. and female children were ushered off to Ustashi garrisons to be used as prostitutes.A.DOCUMENT 1 GRIZOGONO LETTER Source: Letter written by Privislav Grizogono. They are so terrible they have shocked even the Germans and Italians. "Though we Croatians shall never be able to erase this shamefulness which we brought upon ourselves with these crimes. were ripped off rudely by knives. ears amputated. The Italians have photographed a vessel holding 31. 1943: "These atrocities do not amount to killings alone. Thousands of Serbian bodies floated down the Sava. mothers before daughters and daughters before mothers. and fed to the fired lime furnaces. burned to death in their homes and churches. and fires were built on their bare chests. noses and tongues lobbed off. and the Goats. children. These and many other methods of torture were employed against the Serbs-tortures which normal people cannot conceive. girls. there is a proverb in Germany: 'God save us from cholera. About 3.. with a woman's head (presumably the mother of the children) labeled: "Meat for John's Market-Belgrade" (meaning meat for the Serbian market). Crowbars smashed their heads. . Aloisius Stepinac. Literally they were roasted alive. while many women. then literally bombed to pieces. and in terribly wild tortures of the victims. Other children were parted by their legs. and Danube rivers and their tributaries. "The case of Milenka Bozinich from Stapandza is a particularly gruesome one: they dug her unborn child out of her with a knife. their flesh was salted. Utensils full of Serbian blood were also discovered.. Rapes were committed even before the altars of the Orthodox Church. their heads crushed against walls and their spines dashed against rocks. "Countless women. They were tied to trucks and dragged behind them. to King Peter. a huge pile of roasted heads was found. The arms and legs of the victims were broken and their heads were spiked. addressed to Dr. scalding water.' Even the Germans from Srem [Syrmia] hate us and act more or less humanely toward the Serbs. and the massacre of Serbians before the altar at Kladusha with sledge hammers is something never mentioned in history.. Published in translation by the American Srbobran. and aged men. "There are detailed and official minutes (reports) about these unheard-of crimes. and one Croat decorated with a wreath of Serbian eyes came to Dubrovnik with two wreaths of Serbian tongues. since then. Minister to Czechoslovakia. The Germans claim the Croats did these same things during the Thirty-Year War and that. Many of these bodies bore tags: 'Direction-Belgrade. in Bosnia.S. Croatia. this was the hot blood of their murdered brothers that other Serbs were forced to drink. Many pictures were taken of these massacres and torture orgies. February 8.000 Serbs were murdered in the Serbian Orthodox Church at Glina. and children were raped. February 24. girls.. Drava. Boiling water was poured on live victims before mutilation. a Serbian paper of Pittsburgh. a Croat and a Roman Catholic.. member of the Yugoslav Diplomatic Corps. Eyes were dug out of live victims. Their children were thrown into fire. These innocent Serbs were stuck on poles alive.5 kilograms of Serbian eyes. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb. Pa. hunger. 1942. "They were thrown into the deep cisterns and caves. U. They aim at extermination of everything Serbian: women. together with their skin. Then. we can at least lessen our responsibility before the world and our consciences if we raise our voices in protest against all these crimes. The beards and mustaches of priests.' In one boat on the Sava there was a pile of children's heads.

Dr. on the wireless. Ljuba Sain.900 were murdered. in the streets. The Serbs were caught as if they were wild beasts. more than 8. What will happen to us Croats if the impression is formed that we participated in all these crimes to the finish!?"# PRIVISLAV GRIZOGONO At Zemun. Alexander Lukac. Dr. "From June 24th to the 28th over 100. Lika. Veljko Mjunic. the medical officer. Tosa Mjunic. Jovo Oborin. Yugoslavia: . 1942. We now come to the most treacherous crime committed by the Ustashis. "Out of 2.. 8. At Ljuboski all the Serbs were killed and not one was spared. Croatia. Valjko Jelashic. were put to death. .000 Serbs were murdered in Bosnia. Many of them were subjected to the most brutal tortures before they were killed. but in full daylight. over I. For a great deal of money permits to travel to Serbia could be bought from the Gestapo. . Vidovdan [the Serb national holiday] was approaching. They were thrown into lorries and carried outside the towns. and railway officials. a Croatian. After all the great crimes in history. All of them were innocent men. "Twelve hundred people were killed in Mostar. Feb.000 peasants were killed and all the Serbian villagers were completely exterminated. Dr... "Meanwhile. the real massacre began. and in their offices. Theodore Lukac. judges. where they were massacred. the most prominent businessmen such as the brothers Cerekovic. in official buildings. . "The remainder of the Serbs were saved either by flight into the forests or else by going into Serbia. directing them to carry out by whatever means they wished precisely during the days before Vidovdan the massacre and extermination of the Serbs. except three old men of over eighty. not under cover of night. engineers."This is the last hour for us to do so. A few old men and women and some small children got away. and Srem [Syrmia].000 Serbs in Livno. among them some of the most prominent persons: seven priests. At the same time he sent a coded telegram to each Ustashi group. There perished with them a very popular doctor of the town.. The peasants were caught in their fields. punishments follow. schoolmasters. 1942 # There are passages in this document relating to Croatian atrocities which are unprintable. Herzegovina.. and his brother. At Ljubinje and in the valley of Popovo polje. written by Dr. all the Serbs. 24 days after the first pogrom. On this occasion they were carried off. Dalmatia.. director of the District Hospital at Mostar. and the Ustashis openly said that the Serbs would remember this Vidovdan. "In Stolac. and even through church sermons. DOCUMENT 2 LUKAC REPORT Source: Handwritten report sent by underground channels through Cairo. that whoever used force against the citizens of the state would be most severely punished. that is on June 24. On June 22 Pavelich published an order in the official newspapers.

In the course of three weeks. The executioners were the gypsy-moslem scum. Palo. Semozovac... which was in fact merely lukewarm water with five or six beans in it. All the young ones were raped. "In the valley of the Neretva. It is impossible to describe the conditions which women had to endure.. and they were murdered under particularly brutal circumstances. The corpses floated on the blood. Railevac.500 Serbs there. In the villages of Klepce and Pribilovci. 2. Bosnia. "The concentration camps were not barracks. most of them died of acute dysentery. "The turn of some towns. On the eve of Vidovdan they rounded up the peasants in the neighborhood of Bihac and 9. When the Ustashis heard that Pag would again be taken over by the Italians. a secret one. in regard to the Glina massacres: . Romania. but merely open places which had been enclosed or else roofless sheds. all of them purely Serbian villages. all were exterminated. "This terrible catastrophe at the hands of their 'brothers. which they set alight so that they died of the most terrible suffering. where they were killed with knives. they killed all the persons in the camp at the last moment. deceiving them by telling them that they were being taken to work. "The worst of the women's camps was at Loborgrad.000 men were killed in only four days. with no floors to lie down upon and where people were shut in as if they were animals.500 Jews. "But the worst murder occurred in Glina. came as late as October and November 1941 At that time punitive expeditions were sent to the villages around Sarajevo. Communists. signed and sworn to by Herberovic Hilmija. and Herzegovina. and they were paid by the Ustashis fifty dinars. Then they shut them up in great sheds. where over 60. from Mostar towards Metkovic.500 Great Nationalists.. They also lived in the open..000 people succumbed. and the murderers boasted that they walked in Serbian blood up to their knees. Bosanska. They could not wash.000 lives. They always proceeded in the same way: they either caught the peasants through trickery.. in Belgrade." DOCUMENT 3 HERBEROVIC AFFIDAVIT Source: A legal affidavit. Krcina. Each night Serbs were bound and taken (from the concentration camps) to the Orthodox Church. The camp on the island of Pag was the scene of the most terrible bloodshed. a kilogram of mutton. There were about 4. E. For food they were given once a day a kind of soup. Sarajevo for instance. and they had to lie down on the filth. "The district where the Serbian population was the most compact offered the strongest resistance to the Ustashis: that is. and girls of fourteen were found to be pregnant. and a kilogram of rakija per hour of murdering. in Capljina only one Serbian remained alive. Blasuj. they took away 300 peasants. the one on Split and the other."In Bihac and the neighborhood not one Serb remained alive. The most infamous of the camps was the one at Jasenica on the Sava. near Capljina. a Mohammedan resident of Croatia. merely in order to prevent their being set free by the Italians. or else during night attacks with the help of the regular troops. and about I. cost the Serbs not less than 700. and so-called Freemasons.' according to quite certain information simultaneously collected by two committees.

When the searching was over. They were stood up in two ranks on the bank... 1941.' 'Long live the Serbs. but I think it must have been the 17th or 18th of April 1941. and the cries were continued until the last Serb was killed.. I do not know exactly how many Serbs were killed. "My company's task was to round up the Serbs in Glina and in the Glina district.. tied arm to arm with ropes. I cannot remember the date. "On our arrival in Glina we searched the houses of that town and then went to the neighboring villages. the Ustashis arrived from Zagreb and Petrinja and we were then ordered to round up from the villages all men from twenty to forty five years of age. and all my statements have been correctly written down. and they were then put to death. The Serbs used to shout 'Long live Serbia. I was three times chosen to do the killing. The company commander on that date called all the soldiers together and informed us that the war was over and everyone should proceed home. and I left on the same day to report to my command in Susak in accordance with my mobilization orders. At the beginning we arrested only the men. The machine-gunning was done by the Ustashis while we stood guard around. It happened on several occasions that some Serb rushed us with his fists or kicked us in the stomach. Some were locked up in the Orthodox Church in Glina.. "The killing usually began at about ten o'clock in the evening and lasted until two o'clock in the morning.. Sometimes they were buried. During the butchering.. At the beginning of June my company was ordered to Glina to establish order and peace in that district and to collect all the arms and ammunition from the people... The corpses of these persons were thrown into the Glina. until the gaols were filled. During the killings there were no lights in the church. Then I received an order from the military command in Petrinja to report there. . The church was washed after every killing. There they remained several days.' 'Down with the Croatian State. At first I made my livelihood by selling various trifles on the street.. and then shot with machine guns which were placed a few yards away. "When we entered the church the officers remained at the door and watched while we did the killing. but I have heard it said that about 120 thousand Serbs from the above mentioned districts have been killed. Usually they were thrown into the river Glina. later. "On the day of the bombing I was in Belgrade.. Some we struck haphazard. Then the company officer chose about fifteen men to do the killing.. sentries were placed before the church.' 'Down with the Ustashis. There was always much noise during the killing. The killing was done in several ways. Dobric Josip and Cvitkovic Mihailo.. Every time we were so bespattered with blood that our uniforms could not be cleaned.. after the corpses were taken away in motor trucks.. They were then sent into the church with knives. and I took part in them three times. except that some soldiers were specially appointed to light our way with electric torches. "Some Orthodox Serbs were taken from the gaol to the river Glina and machine-gunned.000 men. I was employed as office servant by the Centralno Transportno Drustvo of Kolarceva. but he was butchered immediately.. Belgrade.. I arrived home in Bosanski Novi about the 24th of April.. Each time we were accompanied by some officers."I came to Belgrade in 1938 and lived there until the war. All these were killed by the sentries in the porch. These notes have been read out to me. Usually three to four hundred persons were machine-gunned at a time. We collected them from the villages and shut them in the Court gaol. which could contain 1. We therefore changed them in the magazine and washed them later. and some Ustashi officers. Some we struck in the heart and some in the neck.... These killings in the church took place seveneight times..' 'Down with Pavelich..' etc.. This was necessary because some of the Orthodox Serbs climbed up the bell tower and jumped into the porch. "I have nothing more to add. but orders were also given that all Serbs in the districts of Topusko and Vrgin Most as well as Glina should be rounded up and killed.

including Jewish emigrees from Germany." HERBEROVIC HILMIJA DOCUMENT 4 ANONYMOUS Source: Letter written by a Jewish physician.' The Serbs consider Jews as their brothers. the Germans did not find any anti-Semitic feeling in the country. The answer which Nedich received from the Germans regarding this demand was 'that the Serbs have not attained a culture to the degree necessary to enable them to deal with the Jews. the Yugoslav Jews had succeeded in saving and rescuing many of their compatriots from Germany and German-occupied countries. The Serbian people could not and would not accept such treatment of 'their compatriots of the Jewish religion. We ourselves shall settle the Jewish question in Serbia. This equality was not only granted in various constitutions of the kingdom of Serbia and later of the kingdom . They could not persuade either the local population or the local authorities to take any anti-Semitic measures. In Serbia. the Jews always had full civic rights and complete equality with their Serbian compatriots. Slavonia.' "The 'solution' of the Jewish question in the Independent Croatia devolved upon the Croatian Ustashis. The Eskenasis principally settled in Croatia. and Czechoslovakia."I can read and write. "The fact that Nedich twice demanded from the German commanding officer in Serbia and the Banat that he and his government should be given the right to settle the Jewish problem. and Serbia. and the Voivodina. for the sake of relatives who remain in Yugoslavia his name cannot be used: "In Yugoslavia there were 85. "The Jews in Yugoslavia were divided into Sephards. This the Germans reserved for themselves.000 Jews. and Herzegovina. and later in the twentieth.. against whom no drastic measures should and could be taken in Serbia. The following reasons were given by Nedich to the Germans for this demand. i.e. also in south Serbia. Service rendered and assistance given to Jews by Yugoslav consular officials in Austria and Czechoslovakia has specially to be recognized. Thanks to the Serbs. Austria.' "With regard to anti-Semitism. professor in the Department of Medicine in the University of Belgrade. There are special reasons for this. Poland. Bosnia. Serbia has always professed the free democratic tradition existing in the former kingdom of Serbia. As the writer is a Jew. Yugoslavia can be divided into two parts. anti-Semitic feeling has never had any root. The Sephards lived principally in Belgrade and Serbia. shows the feeling of the Serbian people toward the Jews. it would be of first importance to stop the terrible persecution of the Serbian Jews. including Pavelich's 'Independent Croatian State. where. districts where this feeling was latent. to a friend in London on his escape from Yugoslavia in 1942. the Jewish problem was not dealt with by the Serbs themselves. however. and Eskenasis [Ashkenazis]. only of a different religion. it can be said without any exaggeration. If the Germans wanted the Serbs to calm down. When they occupied Serbia. After the partition of Yugoslavia the Jews came under the rule of various regimes.500 were refugees. There in the nineteenth century. Of the total number of Jews in Yugoslavia about 7. "During Yugoslavia's twenty-three years of existence.

This friendly and amicable relationship also existed in the economic. Shubashich's Croatia had even prepared elaborate laws and regulations just before the war broke out in Yugoslavia in 1941. the second from the middle of August 1941 until the closing down of the office of the 'Jewish section' late in 1942. however. but in Serbia Serb teachers and professors succeeded in avoiding or sabotaging the regulations. the Jews gave their contribution. very proud to say that today two small relatives of mine.of Yugoslavia. taken for forced labor. Koroshets. The small group of Jews living in Serbia gave their contribution towards the cultural and political life in Serbia's struggle for the formation of a state of South Slavs. In Serbia's struggle for liberation. "This report could be divided into two parts-the first beginning with the entry of German troops into Belgrade in April 1941 to the beginning of August 1941. Machek's Croatian Peasant Party. Well-known Jews and Serbs were taken to German concentration camps. financial. Dr. including the Minister of War. Anti-Semitism was particularly stressed in Croatia by the right wing of Dr. under the Croat Dr. where they lived with Serbian peasant families. and several of them lost their lives through falling down. "Some forty of my relatives were shot in Belgrade by the Germans. is still fighting in Bosnia. Jewish girls were violated and taken to 'Militar-Medi. In Croatia anti Semitism was inherited from Austria-Hungary. "About a year before Yugoslavia was attacked by Germany. under the Slovene Dr. refused to apply the act. Machek and the district governor or ban. "In this regard Serbia completely differed from Croatia under Dr. A number later joined the guerrillas. The Government was not unanimous on this point. His elder brother. Many collected hospital material for the guerrillas or posted anti-German posters in Belgrade streets. should be mentioned. by pressure from the Reich and in their attempt to suit their policy to the dictators. are being hidden by two Serbian mothers. actively helped the guerrilla fighters. "In all the schools and universities. "In the second period male Jews were sent to concentration camps. the Tsvetkovich-Machek Government passed the first antiSemitic measure in Yugoslavia. The application of it was confined to the Ministry of Education. which co-operated with the Serbian organizations for the preparation of resistance. however. persecuted. one of five and one of seven years of age. The Jews had in Serbia members of Parliament. a schoolboy of ten. numerous restrictions were applied by circular. maltreated. to clean floors and sweep streets under the supervision of the S. troops. The name of Almozlino. and political life in Serbia.S. Dr. They were made to clean the windows of high houses from the outside. but it was also a true expression of the relationship between the Orthodox Serbs and the Jews in their everyday contact. Serbian cabinet ministers. The section was closed because there were no longer any Jews in occupied Serbia. Women of the intelligentsia class were forced to clean latrines in the German barracks. Shubashich. Anti-Semitic centers had always existed. But quite a number of men and young Jews succeeded in escaping to the villages. the son of a well-known Belgrade dispensing chemist in King Peter Street. Andres. in spite of the order that the mayor and members of the rural councils would be shot if such cases were discovered in their villages. He threw bombs at two armored German cars and a tank in Grobljanska Street in Belgrade and blew them up.C. Koroshets. leader of the Slovenes. I am. whose parents were shot by the Gestapo. Several were awarded the Karadgeorge Star for bravery in the battlefield-equivalent to the British V. upheld the measure as Minister of Education. . A considerable number of youths from the Jewish Zionist organization.' Already during the first stage the Jews were deprived of all their property and most of them were evicted from their homes. A large part of the industries in Jewish hands in Croatia was to be confiscated and nationalized. During the first stage the Jews were tortured. a medical student. and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

I saved my own life thanks to my Serbian friends.. Serbian Orthodox priests and the Serbian peasantry risked their lives not only to save ordinary Jews and their children but also to save those Gypsies and their children. during the period when Serbian students and peasants were hung in the main square in Belgrade. yesterday and today. pointing out their noble acts. even the identical men. who was on several occasions sought by the Gestapo in Belgrade.000 Gypsies. the Serbian example shines out. There is not a Serb alive who has not lost some relative dear to him. "The example of the Serbian people with regard to the Jews is unique in Europe. in the 'Independent State of Croatia. thus expressing not only their protest. being smuggled out from Serbia from monastery to monastery by the Serbian clergy. our splendid allies. Up to the present day the Germans have massacred 170. "When Jewish women were transported in lorries to the concentration camps. Herzegovina. Today the chief rabbi of Yugoslav Jews lives in America. and their high civic consciousness and culture." with fervent acclamation and expressions of "undying gratitude and love.. the Patriarch Gavrilo. except some children hidden by the Serbs and those fighting along with the Serbs in the forests. we must prevent a postwar war of revenge in the Balkans. The thought of what the result will be is truly terrifying. . by one Serbian priest to another until he was passed on to Bulgarian territory. When we consider what happened to the Jews in neighboring countries." their "dear brother-Slavs.000 Serbs were massacred by the Croat Ustashi in Bosnia. men. Rumania. does not and cannot participate in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors. but also emphasizing the fact that the entire population of Serbia. I was saved from certain death. he arrived at the Turkish frontier. "Today there are no more Jews left in Serbia."No German measures in Belgrade were able to upset the friendly relations between the Serbs and Jews. "It is my desire as a Jew and as a Serb that in free democratic countries where Jews are still enjoying full freedom and equality they should show gratitude to the Serbian people. particularly in the southern part of the continent. and Bulgaria. in Serbia and the Banat. only a few of many. by a race whom the Serbs themselves rescued from what the Croats then called their "oppressor. who only twenty-three years ago received their "dear deliverers.. He was saved from the Gestapo. He was handed over by one Serbian church to another. But in the interests of world peace and of the remaining Serbs themselves. Serb shopkeepers in the streets through which these processions passed closed their shops and their houses." Austriaby those same Croats. some of whom were his personal friends. Serbian peasants and my other friends also saved from death my only son. every one of whom we value and want to save alive. the Serbs. and Lika and some 60. During the period when over 300.' Hungary. with the assistance of the Orthodox Bulgarian clergy. with unimaginable torture. In spite of intensive German propaganda in writing and through the wireless." If ever revenge massacres were justified they are justified in this case. the Serbs of the capital had sufficient courage to protest publicly their indignation at the treatment of the Jews." The preceding documents. women. and his clergy tried to save Serbian Jews and Gypsies. give some indication of the extent and ferocity of the Croat crime against their utterly defenseless fellow countrymen and also of the really magnificent spirit of our allies and brothers. the Serbs remained unaffected.000 shot by the Germans in Serbia. "I cannot conclude this report without mentioning how the Serbian Orthodox Church. There. During the forced-labor period Serbs talked to their Jewish friends in the streets even in front of the German soldiers and police. murdered. their humane feelings. and children.

The Serbs rose. the news flashed: "Yugoslavia has signed the Axis pact. I pledged American honor that the thousands upon thousands of orphans left in a ruined land would be cherished by their American brothers and sisters. in view of all they have lost in fighting-for us. larger. The Serbs chose war." It was a moment of destiny for money and in lives. sure that it was now finally to be extinguished.a war they knew to be absolutely hopeless. men. unpredictable horrors that have befallen them. a thing so important to the history of the world that freedomloving men will speak of it with admiration and with gratitude down through the centuries. not by thousands. important to the future of Europe. for the world. they still choose war. I have established in his memory the General Billy Mitchell Memorial Foundation for Balkan Youth. A little race of not more than eight million souls deliberately. I promised them that America would never forget the bond and the debt. in view of all they have saved-to us. Why did they do it? What caused their decision? What has enabled them to succeed when other. They chose to die. And in spite of the unexpected. They are dying today-not by hundreds. much better equipped peoples failed or didn't even try? These are important questions. women. In view of all that the Serbs have done-for us. The Serbs chose war.THE SERBS CHOSE WAR Excerpts from "The Serbs Chose War" by Ruth Mitchell published in 1943 by Holt.against the invincible German war machine. Rinehart and Winston Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-7242 AT TEN-FIFTEEN on the morning of March 25. important to our own present war effort. 1941. I propose that for the rebuilding and the future of Serbia we appropriate the cost to us of one day of war. very important to future world peace. and of property. Then an almost incredible thing happened. Knowing that nothing could have been nearer to the fighting heart of my brother than the Fighting Serbs. It was a moment when the flame of freedom guttered so perilously low that many of the bravest spirits of our time averted their eyes. I gave the dying men and women of Serbia my promise that I would spend the rest of my life looking after their children. of lives. . this small race almost unanimously decided to oppose themselves against the greatest war machine of history. They died. Why? It took me over three years to find out. sternly decided to die rather than to submit to Axis vassalage. and small children. but by hundreds of thousands. In spite of all the horrors they expected. the first and only small race themselves to declare war. They were the only small race of Europe to come in openly on the side of the Allies before they were themselves attacked and while they still had promises of complete security of frontiers.

CONTENT: 1. Is It the End? 45. Again Expulsion? 12. I rely upon my countrymen with complete trust to help me to keep that pledge. My Chetnik Brothers 13. The Chetniks Are Serbs 11. What of America?” 18. Good-by Helmuthl 25. Exit Myself 7. The Patriarch Goes to His Golgotha 22. A Torch Is Lit Which Shall Never Go Out 24. Something New and Something Old 21. Knives Against Tanks 29. Journalist’s Paradise 4. “Watchman. Trudi 44. Hahn 47. My Brother Vukosava 10. Prison 37. Nightmare Journey 26. Orphans of the Guns . A Myth Dies Unmourned 32. The Royal Nonesuch Takes a Wife 5. The Champions 34. Vain Warnings 17. “Well-And Why Not?” 14. Smilya Leaves Me a Son 46.I pledged the honor of my country. Court-martial 40. Promises Instead of Planes 23. Between the Enemy Lines 31. The Plot That Failed 16. A Bow to an Old Balkan Custom 8. Albanian Prelude 3. Moment of Destiny 2. Some to Flight and Some to Flight 27. The Saints Fight Too 15. Treason and Ambush 30. “We Are Serbian Children” 19. “Neither Quickly Free nor Quite Dead” 38. Forever Undefeated 28. The Verdict Is Guilty 41. Shopping for Gun Emplacements 33. Enter a Conqueror. The Serbs Choose War 20. I Meet King’s Son Marko 9. Women Against the Gestapo 42. A Three-Hun dred-Thous and-Dollar Bed 39. “We Are Gestapo!” 36. Oil Turns to Dynamite 6. Ready. Guests of the Gestapo 43. I Prepare to join General Mihailovich 35.

Uncle Luke 50. A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. Prison Bernhardt 56. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour . Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. The Informer 53. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58. Pride and Shame 52.48. Leka Saves Her Man 55. The Field That Groaned 49. Rose 57. The Minuet of Death 51. “This Is German Culture” 54. Epilogue 61. My Sister Zora 59.

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