The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

1. MOMENT OF DESTINY
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."

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

to safer. So off I went. a splendid satisfaction. no larger than one of our American Great Lakes. "I'm not interested in the Balkans. If I had not seen with my own eyes and myself experienced the cruelties. The East is what draws me-first the Near East. And of all the Balkan countries." no one seemed to know where the little country lay. far away. and so to Africa and Asia. with the absurdities. I'll take ten days out and no more. Perhaps it is a good thing that we can't foresee the future. for the Balkans. by boat across the narrow sea to Durazzo. For that experience almost no price could be too heavy." I told the editor of the London weekly Illustrated. Albania was the most unknown of all. the thrillingly splendid world I was stepping into. from tourist-haunted Italy. They are closely bound to us by trade. Afghanistan. which has been fought over by uncounted races and powers. Except that it was "somewhere in the Balkans. with all its delicate and its grand motifs. I might never have known the simple glory to which men's hearts and women's strength can rise. ALBANIAN PRELUDE STRANGE TO REMEMBER NOW how nearly I missed it all. saner. was quite uncertain as to how one could get there. 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. the outrageously absurd. then Syria. quite enough. India. Persia. They are just across a little sea. The tall minaret of Durazzo Harbor was the first note of that swelling symphony. If I had known then what was coming. 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. but the Balkans tease us with their mystery. more comfortable lands? The answer is a completely certain: No! For with the discomforts were to come unforgettable beauty. quieter. This is still true." This was a year before Albania became news with the Italian occupation. I went-very grudgingly. Yet to most of us the Balkans still remain unreal as a mirage. 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. Even Cook's. if I had had an inkling of the mad world. But ten days-yes. Homeric laughter. "Ten days-that will be enough. cleaner. and despite the horrors. We take the strangeness of Asia for granted. its clashing . 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. Ruth Mitchell 2.The Serbs Chose War. if you insist. They constitute the narrow land bridge from Europe to the Near East. Even how to get there was a problem. the tourist agency. then the Far East. with an irreducible minimum of luggage and a maximum of light photographic equipment: train to Rome and Bari. by boat to Constantinople. if I had guessed the discomforts and the miseries.

of custom and dress handed down by forebears arouse my respect and admiration. suspended as by invisible chains from heaven. if one must. hung the fabled mountains of Albania. I like heroic songs and minds fed on ancestral deeds of glory. The minaret. I believe. And I came to know those mountains as perhaps no foreign woman has known them before. eating with fingers from a central dish. 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. The more I saw of them the more they filled me with affection and admiration . There. 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. to that and to so much more. . and children of all classes. I felt a momentary pang of regret. only to beckon in welcoming beauty. washing in a snow-fed brook. primitive living. I forgot the Far East. that morning. Ten days! How funny that sounds now! I stayed in the Balkans for three and a half years. motivating men. . far better. To me sleeping on a sheepskin on the floor. Tenacious love of old tradition. Better. that I would not have time in my ten days to make their close acquaintance. to die. I never got to Constantinople. 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. Too bad. trailing for days on horseback across almost pathless mountains are not hardship. to brotherhood with the toughest men in Europe and then to eleven agonizing prisons. But they were not clouds. that was soon to catch me up and sweep me away to-well. to fight even a hopeless battle and. I thought. Close at hand. That is my idea of a good way to live. women.discords. Everywhere among these mountain peoples I found these values to be the unconscious mainsprings of action. . Durazzo looked like almost any other small Mediterranean harbor.

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

are absolutely free from molestation: they pass. . These are the lands of die-hard suspicion among men. 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. trusted. although their social and political rights are limited. here as in Serbia. where men could never tread. Surprisingly this was a great advantage.I was a woman and alone. But women.

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

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

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

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

" But because I remained. For it was the presence of Italy in Albania which helped to make the quick success of Germany in the Balkans possible. yes. Fortunately I had a "friend at court. escape from the farmyard. for the record only. but the results were not so funny. From that day onward I became. I was the prize mystery. of course. I knew what was already clear to the least observant person (except. EXIT MYSELF ALL THIS WAS AMUSING ENOUGH. But how could they possibly be anything else under the treatment they have received? What chance has this proud. especially for me. since all of them wanted to find out what the devil I was really up to. Scientists. yes. not even their own king. Nor was I the only suspect. understandably. so ran her dream. that a sudden alteration of the status of the little country was imminent. Ruth Mitchell 6. 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. Someday. every effort was made to make things uncomfortable for me and squeeze me out. they are savage. In I938 Italy had a strangle hold on every phase of Albanian life. had her complete espionage system. artists. . at the same moment that I was being subjected to all kinds of police unpleasantness. so also did the jittery king. to the representatives of the three leading powers)." My plan was. unfortunately." would actually stay in Albania because she happened to like it.The Serbs Chose War. So. The hold of Italy on Albania was saddening. every member of the Cabinet had his separate espionage service. As I settled in Scutari to write my guidebook. helpless little brother must stop. Surely the cost to us in lives alone has demonstrated the crime of our neglect. "persona non grata" to the Italian Government. she succeeded in blocking every kind of development by citizens of other countries. ENTER A CONQUEROR. the police had their own close-meshed spy network. Italy. Then she would thoroughly exploit Albania. The Albanians are primitive. Practically every third man in the country was a paid spy. Simply by bribing the King and ten members of his Cabinet. This made for a degree of chaos and insecurity in the little land that can be only briefly sketched here. 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. especially a woman who "might be in Paris. The neglect of this small. I refused this invitation. They simply could not believe that anyone. But I then worked out a plan for the complete reorganization of the country under "advisory control. all were marked down as "spies. which was capable of laying for him a golden egg. It was fantastic. of course. liberty-loving. it was unofficially but authoritatively suggested to me that I become a member of the Albanian Cabinet in the capacity of Minister of Culture. writers passing through. the drain of her expensive military enterprises elsewhere would end." My soi-disant partner wasn't going to let the goose.

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

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

The henchmen refused to drink. it had been found impossible to get even one responsible mountain chief to offer his allegiance. came out to meet him. apologizing for having had such a contemptible traitor for their chief and announcing what they had done about it. the usual currency) he set out for home. Near his village his whole tribe. For. He was unsuspiciously got hold of. . the beautiful and loyal "best friend" of the now ex-King Zog. 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. Promptly the surrounding heights burst out into a rash of little soldiers and big guns. He was to be accompanied by a batch of foreign journalists to see for themselves the "delight" of the conquered. which to those bitterly poor people represented many months of easier living. And the Italians gently filtered into the town. the capital. therefore. alas. in spite of every conceivable lure and bribe. They took the money. was to pinch-hit for a cautious Mussolini and make his triumphal entry into Tirana. including his own family. When the South had been overrun. Ten days after the occupation was completed. was tempted to drink and. the Italians having instantly drained the country of all gold. but even more bitterly they now hated the Great Powers who had deserted them in their hour of need. They hated the Italians.They watched me from then on like hawks. A group of officers took over the Prefecture. This in no way placated the Albanians. was easily reduced to a state of confusion. We're here to see The lady's not Put on the spot. It was. being a Mohammedan unused to alcohol. Without a word they shot him dead. His tribesmen had disappeared. He agreed. Next morning. We even made a little song something to this effect: "We brothers three. He had a few tribesmen with him. having given his Albanian word. 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. When in a completely fuddled state. With the money in his pocket (it was paper of course. the sad figure in genuine Malissori dress stood holding the drooping flag at the reception of Ciano and was photographed from all angles. They then sent messengers to all the surrounding tribes. There happened at that moment to be one of the smallest and least important of these chieftains in Tirana on family business. It took him four days of walking to get there. the Albanians saw that to defend Scutari would be merely to sacrifice good men senselessly. and the Italian flag was run up only to the same height as the Albanian. I was literally not a second out of their sight. and made a bonfire and burned it. The mountaineers were persuaded to slip away home-to fight again when the time was ripe. considered indispensable to have one genuine Albanian mountain chieftain present who might be regarded as representing his joyful tribe." I watched the entrance of the Italians. Count Ciano. Then the prefect of Scutari went to meet the invaders and capitulate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My father was a fighter in the American Civil War. He stopped laughing and looked at me for some time thoughtfully." he shouted." He clapped me on the back with a blow that almost sent me reeling. 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." I said. with eagle eye and eagle nose. as sings every marching Chetnik: "Spremte. "I will fight gladly for Serbia if Serbia should ever need my services. . "You'll do. you'll do for us. It has always hung above my bed. Chetnitsi. silna che borba da bude Iz ove nase pobede. I can see him now.' My son fights in this war for England." I said. incredibly gaunt against the gray mountainside. The other is known to my countrymen as 'Fighting General Billy. radja se sunce slobode . "If Serbia needed you-would you fight?" he asked suddenly. tall as a totem pole. Vukosava. "Boga mi [By God]. . Shoulder to shoulder-though my shoulder only came to his elbow -we tramped back singing. "He gave me his sword before he died." said the old chief. I will fight. My two brothers fought in the last war for America. se spremte." . I'll stand your toom [sponsor] myself. One died fighting."You yourself would make a good Chetnik-a real Chetnik if ever I saw one. making the very rocks re-echo. gray.

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

Much less has he borrowed any Chetnik idea from any other national group in Yugoslavia. Bogdan Zimonjich.' remember that you are hearing the hymn of the Serbian Chetniks and not a Yugoslav song. the 'Island of Freedom.' says the Chetnik song. "This song is now echoing through the hidden mountain passes of Serbia. after centuries. 'for holy cross and golden liberty [za Krst casni i slobodu zlatnu]. He. One generation after another withstood the most terrible punishment. unrelenting."From that time onward the very same mountains and forests where Draja Mihailovich fights the enemy today became the home of the Serbian Chetniks. as a true. their ceaseless struggles were successful. and worthy son of his people. On the contrary. brave. has just followed the tradition of Kossovo. Such names as Yovan Babunski of World War I. 'Spremte se spremte Chetnitsi. But there were many Chetnik leaders in the Serbian mountains before him. which has astounded the whole world. my old mountain]. America's stanch ally. as a herald of happier days to come for the Serbian people. perhaps the greatest on earth. Djordje Skopljanats. It is a war song. old struggle of the Serbian Chetniks for the free way of life as the Serbs love it. 'Planino moja starino [Mountain.' "At last. but kept on fighting. and many others stud the brilliant pages of Serbian history and will live forever in the memory of Serbs. "So when you hear the great and gripping marching song. 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." . These brave and determined men kept the torch of liberty burning in Serbia for five long centuries. which has inspired uncountable thousands to their death for the cause of liberty. "Draja Mihailovich has not started anything new. 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. Vuk Popovich. "Mihailovich has combined the Serbian idea and the instinctive national heroism with his genius for leadership.' where Draja Mihailovich and his brave men are making new history. It is the anthem of the only free spot in the Balkans. Uncounted legions of Chetniks died for the very same cause for which the Chetniks are dying today.

I admired their stern struggle for the barest existence. . 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. 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. for freedom for every man to walk upright. I traveled all over Montenegro and talked. I collected groups of peasants and told them clearly what the Allies were fighting for: for liberty for the small nations. my subject. 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. in the traditions and ways of life which each thought best. his own master." I discovered an exquisite. with every man or woman who spoke a word of English. though I only once spoke to him in passing. There was a new law that no foreigner could buy property within fifty miles of the coast. 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 place where I was meant to be. completely forgotten old monastery in a lovely valley opening to the sea. No matter how many Latin languages one speaks they are of no use at all in learning a Slav language. all the night before. I tramped across the landscape and watched the steep mountain roads being mined in preparation for a possible Italian attack. overhung with orange and lemon trees." I decided to make Serbia. hearing of my wish. the Balkans. In Budva. I really loved them. their pride and dignity.The Serbs Chose War. Ruth Mitchell 11. by various machinations. I liked these people and they seemed to like me. It had in its cellar a tiny windowless chapel. Carefully I watched the trend of events in Yugoslavia and the reactions of the people that made up that uneasy state. I prevented from leaving. 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 even had my own German prisoner: a husky youth who was trying to return home to join his army and whom. I studied the history and customs of the different regions and races of the Balkans. I began to study the Serbian language-and I can tell you that to master one's first Slav language is a fearful task. Should I return to England or America? If I did. Soon I began to feel as if Serbia were my real home. And again I became suspect. probably. It had a red marble terrace about a hundred feet long. AGAIN EXPULSION? September 4 1939 England and France at war with Germany. whose walls were completely covered with original Byzantine frescoes at least seven hundred years old. so I had to petition the Government for permission to purchase it.

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

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

of course. among his other distinguished activities. "One step nearer. I decided to fly. I can see him now. 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. Disperse!" Slowly they pushed back and melted away. The police were horrified by the order and only too anxious to assist me. The police throughout the country remained his devoted admirers. let one man raise his hand and he will be shot on the spot. I gave that good fellow an inscribed cigarette case and never was more pleased to acknowledge a real service. The wires hummed. He put his hand on his hip (no doubt he was armed) and: "This lady is no spy.my right to proceed to the capital.P. we arrived at the Podgoritsa airfield. unnecessary to trouble the minister with my little problems. worked itself into a fury.P. I also telegraphed at once to my friend M. A mob collected. showed signs of becoming violent. At the Belgrade airfield I was met by M. picked up stones and. 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. who. of Yugoslavia. My detective stood in front of me. pressing closer and closer. . And then it was. a good friend. This lady is a friend." he barked. near the Albanian frontier. how the back of his neck grew slowly dark red with anger. had helped to organize the police force of Yugoslavia and had abolished the frightful old Turkish foot-beating. After a three-hour car journey. but only to bring a stern confirmation of the order..

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

to discover the hotheads who had been misled by these agents provocateurs.I asked for time to think it over and immediately consulted with M. . 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. repulsive consul himself. Additional safety measures were taken also to protect the fat. By laying the crime to Yugoslavia. among other absurdities. 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. The lure to me was.P. thus leaving Germany free for her attack on Russia. of having plotted to murder the German consul general. 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. that the documents (which would have been blank) were to pass into my own hands. Apparently Helmuth and Igon had felt obliged to turn in something to justify their pay. but quietly. 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. And there is little doubt that I would have been shot on the spot "by accident." Steps were therefore taken at once. of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men sent their sons abroad to study. in this hour of fateful choice for their beloved homeland. to become "cosmopolitan. had risen to the top in government. not as children but as Serbs. their genius flowers best in hardship. in the provinces. I say. Ruth Mitchell 18. They despised their un-Serbian fathers. 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 Serbs are a hardy race. the children did not march. If there were nothing else in the record. the Serbian children shall come first. mostly in Paris and Vienna. There the children and their parents were heart and soul together: the flawed national product had tended to gravitate to Belgrade. Some of these men. This gave them a fierce. The children. After the last war a mild prosperity had resulted from the sudden exploitation of Serbia's rich resources." Is there anything more inspiring. this behavior of her children alone would be a sufficient star-sign of the destiny of Serbia. and my countrymen surely will say with me. through their foreign training. Suddenly there was a great trampling of feet and shouting in the street below. 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. They saw well and clearly. Because they stood most bravely for their national principle the Serbian children have been most murdered. not excepting the Poles or even the Jews.The Serbs Chose War. They were the "ascendancy class. resulting in a complete and shocking decay of every moral fiber: they became denatured Serbs. as standard-bearers of the old Serbian passion for "liberty at any cost whatever. It was unnecessary. We ran out onto the balcony to watch one of the many demonstration marches of the Belgrade school children." But their children still were sharp-eyed Serbs. but also the much more terrible record of German mass murders in Poland and Czechoslovakia." Coming from a comparatively backward land. marched the streets of Belgrade." 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. more hopeful for the future. "Bolje rat nego pact. pitiful maturity. Don't think they didn't know what they were doing. most pitilessly butchered of all in Europe. fed by the strong roots of Serbian tradition. It was the voice of Serbia authentic old spirit of Serbia-breaking its slowly tightening chains. . and they were disgusted. that as the children of Serbia were the first and only children in Europe to rise and fearlessly to face the German horror. "WE ARE SERBIAN CHILDREN" ON MARCH 23 I gave a poetry reading in a local club. They knew well not only their own history of massacres under Ottoman rule. Their Serbian self-confidence and ideals sometimes weakened. they had been unduly impressed with the wealth and success of other countries. Outside of Belgrade." Little did these men grasp what it really meant.

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

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

Soon we were on our way downtown-I with my faithful camera. I dozed fitfully.no matter what. and hoped. like most Serbs with their passionate loyalty. were somehow undeniably akin. . it would be cut off. a greater tragedy than could ever be adequately written! In the afternoon four leading Montenegrin men came to see me. and warm color gave a curious kind of authenticity to the beautiful antiques surrounding them. A fateful day in the history of the world. As related in Chapter I. A new star had arisen on the dark night of war. not just their own lives-that did not worry them-but the lives and the future of all their people. I cannot tell (in fact I have been anxiously begged not to say) who these men were and what they decided that day. On what they decided would depend." We emptied our glasses again to the memory of the dead king who had been his close friend. Only this: they came to a certain remarkable decision. I mention the incident only to put it on record for the future. relics of the brave days of their own ancestors: they went well together. could never speak without tears of his soldier-king murdered by an organization of Croats." He was a good prophet. so at the mercy of political storms raised by the greater Powers. so easily shaken. the first real sign that Hitler was doomed to failure. heavy eyebrows. I was full of admiration for the spirit that prompted it. their strongly cut faces. Listening to the pandemonium of rejoicing that poured out of the radio. Toward morning I must at last have fallen into a heavy sleep. only asking to fight again! If he can see us now he must be proud and happy. King Peter II. In these small countries. Montenegrins age very slowly. came to see me. The Serbs had risen." said M. so we sat round the fire in my small library. In spite of their modern clothes. could not entirely approve. you can imagine. his father. as we were round himself on the Great Retreat in the last war.P.. They had mellowed with time. but not grown weakonly stronger and more patient. They were neither Chetniks nor fliers. with us.P. could see us now. Balkan history will one day explain the significance of it. though I knew. He. round him. They were so huge they seemed to fill the whole room. freed from his house-arrest. They had come in charming compliment to me to decide on policy affecting the future of the state of Montenegro. early on the morning of that day my friend M. had overthrown their timid pro-Axis government." "If only Alexander. March 27 1941. and defied the oppressors of mankind to do their worst. Because they are so small you seem always to be at the beating heart of their problems. it is an inspiring feeling to be vividly living history. we filled our glasses and drank a toast: "Zivio. That night. These men were facing a cataclysmic crisis in the affairs of their country. Although they were middle-aged they showed hardly a gray hair. defeated but unbeaten. when here I had the fortune to be myself living in a greater drama. his Serbs. 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. had put their boy-king on the throne. the Ustashi. The drawing room was chilly. Although I could not see altogether eye to eye with them. "His son on the throne. one ear open for the telephone.

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

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

The Third Vice-Premier. And within only a few hours practically the whole of the autonomous government Machek himself had set up. grudgingly negotiating guarantees of the continuance of Croat autonomy. and had become in 1928 Chief of Air Staff. he had remained staunchly pro-Ally Professor Yovanovich. Dr. Ninchich. Lacking cash. 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. as did also Milan Gavrilovich. it was not Russia that helped Serbia. including the police. immediately went over complete to the Axis. Though he half-heartedly called upon the Croats to join the colors. There were representatives of Montenegro and Bosnia. and unscrupulous form of government that had recently prevailed. Machek). 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. There is complete proof of these facts.Although young King Peter II in the crisis was crowned in haste. as well as of the Slovene People's Party.) After the bombardment Machek still urged a humiliating peace with Germany. had fought with distinction in all the Balkan wars and in World War I. Incredible as it sounds. of course. who had retired from public life for years because of the un-Serbian. 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. and other smaller groups. the Serbian Peasant Party. joined the Cabinet. returned to the same office. In spite of this glaring stupidity on the part of the great democracies. who as Foreign Minister had for years tried to come to some fair working agreement with Italy. General Simovich had tried to make his Cabinet representative of every side of public opinion but the pro-Axis groups (excepting." and on the radio in Zagreb ordered the Croats to follow Pavelich. thus not only proving themselves ungrateful but also depriving themselves of orders for their factories. with Machek Second Vice-Premier. who had for years worked for better relations with Russia. undemocratic. a Slovene took his place. American. and British refusal to grant Yugoslavia credits for armaments. 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. The Serbs are still "primitive" enough to believe that their word is binding upon them: Machek had the Government-in-Exile by the throat. and Miha Krek. these. Kulovec. Machek's Peasant Guards shot down from the rear those Serb units which tried to defend the country. Instead of remaining with the King and Government: he returned to Croatia "to stay with his people. he had privately ordered his guards to prevent mobilization. (When Germany attacked. refused to accept payment in Yugoslav produce. 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. took service under Ante . Since then he had struggled to build up the Yugoslav Air Force despite French. Simovich himself. Machek. accepted office under General Simovich after staying in Croatia for three days. This order was carried out. but little Serbia that helped to save Russia. He had his own military organization called the Croat Peasant Guard. As it turned out. was later killed in the Belgrade bombardment. dictatorial. less a statesman than a soldier. leader of the Croatian peasants. took office as First Vice-Premier. Many of the new ministers were men popular and respected. Serbia's allies. Dr. the new Croat leader put in by the Axis. the leading Serb authority on international and constitutional law. whichever it turned out to be. Dr.

." Hysterical women jumped on the tanks and kissed the soldiers while the Germans looked on with-amused contempt. the ex-patriate thug-organizer of the Ustashi. at this moment. the populace received the Germans with wholehearted enthusiasm and bearing large signs: "The Croats and Germans Always Together. Machek's own most trusted henchmen are now. in charge of and carrying out the massacres and expulsion of not less than 1. Soon most of the intelligentsia of Croatia. Even their latest "dear brothers" despised the traitors. As the photos and films of the Axis entry into Croatia show.Pavelich." avowed their pro-Axis sympathies. who had only a few years ago hailed the Serbs as their "dear brothers. and the peasants upon Machek's own advice rushed to join or co-operate with the Ustashi.000 Serbs long resident in Croatia. responsible for the murder of the Yugoslav king.200.

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

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

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

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

(This man is now a general of the army of the Independent State of Croatia and chief of Croat aviation. America was not yet in the war. would go into action. then my brother would help me to help the Serbs. George sitting on his battle charger. on the Montenegrin-Albanian frontier. in survival after death. We had our secret airfields in the mountains. faced with an impossible situation. almost two years later. The army of Yugoslavia collapsed in eight days. in the most important place I could get to. What we had no means of foreseeing was that a great leader would arise with a brain and a personality capable of reorganizing. and his face seemed to change to that of my brother. \ If the British did not succeed in getting through. He died. partly because they would be fighting the Italians. held by men through the ages. the Chetniks.I looked at my St. of the Royal Yugoslav Army. The Chetniks fought splendidly from the beginning. i. We calculated that the flying field at Podgoritsa. But if there was truth in the belief. 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. immediately bombed out of existence. chief of the Fourth District of Aviation. Fliers can't be "coerced. French. when the Army fell. also ignored? There was little. Then. which has made such a brilliant record against the Russians. combining... I was to act as liaison officer on the Chetnik staff. of course. But mainly because of their lack of admixture with Croats. today. But-my brother was dead. 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. would on April 3 fly to Germany and disclose to the enemy the position of every one of these airfields. . German. We could not guess that. would be the very last to fall. and the army of Serbia is fighting still.. and my American passport would be invaluable. that I could do. I was to make for that point and proceed from there to wherever my services would be most useful. General Draja Mihailovich. And the horse changed to a plane. We could not guess that the Croat Colonel Kren.. so very little. inspiring. The Montenegrins were sweeping the Italians into the sea when Yugoslavia collapsed behind them. I saw him leading a great flight of American planes across the seas to help the Serbs. We were proved right. fighting for his dream of air power to which America had turned a deaf ear. I spoke sufficient of the other necessary languages. Though my Serbian was certainly weak.e.") 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 Italian. and leading the shattered remnants of a defeated army and an undefeated organization of guerrilla fighters. Everything turned out much worse and also better than we thought we could expect. the single-minded will to liberty of the Serbs would produce one of the most brilliant military figures of the war. spy. my job would be to act as intelligence officer. Arms and munitions were hidden in caves and buried in the forests in places where of old the Serbs had known how to stand. Must the Serbs now die fighting. which were. and the Chetniks are fighting splendidly today. we.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

he did the honors of his home in the royal manner. billowing. Great tongues of flame would burst up suddenly. Often later. But none could raise a hand to help.Now a curious thing happened. There was grandeur in the great city's loneliness. and a few old men. writhing. The great city along the Danube seemed to be one blazing bonfire. 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. My friends. I used to think of how differently things might have turned out if I had obeyed my instinct. mostly Russian women and children. fourteen of us disposed ourselves on the two beds and on the floor. As darkness began to fall. Watching the winged fiends of this holocaust. The Serbs had dared to dream of liberty. We were without lights. And here my dear old Michael. beautifully saddled and bridled. he too had his duties to perform. A stray horse. a dying signal to the libertyloving peoples of the earth. instantly guessing my thought. surrounded me and begged me not to do it: it was an officer's horse. and slowly sink away. up and down the little bricked path of the garden. Perhaps I might now be with General Mihailovich and my Chetniks. was king. Germany had lit the great beacon of her "civilizing mission" in the Balkans. twisting away into the sky. And sure enough a soldier was already madly tearing down the street after the animal. skimming away and back again. Through and above the clouds of fire they darted unceasingly. Everything was put at our disposal: carefully hoarded provisions were brought out. My almost uncontrollable instinct was to jump on its back and ride away south to the mountains. etc. a handsome black animal. I walked up and down. The two small rooms and the chicken-filled garden were crowded with friends. and walked on. Soon we reached Michael's village and his tiny cottage. bitterly disappointed. . 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. alone in the darkness and silence-dark but for the glare from the burning capital. As night came down the sight was weird and terrible. even so. grandeur in the unchecked flaming of its heart. grandeur even in its utter helplessness. evidently much loved. ran from a side street and stopped right in front of me. We passed through a village almost entirely inhabited by Gypsies. He was still dizzy and a little vague from the shock of his dashing failure. I had no right to steal his mount. swooping and diving. silent but for the sound of bursting bombs. chickens killed. glare fiercely for a while. Sullenly the heavy clouds of smoke rolled upwards. in the endless days and nights of prison. I turned my back. but the house was on a little hillside with a free view over Belgrade. And Belgrade was burning. it seemed to me that they had burst up from the infernal regions of ancient myth. And still with demonic diligence and glee they rained destruction on destruction upon the pitifully supine city. Now their murdered capital flamed. and here the noisy panic was in striking contrast to the silent grimness of the steadily tramping Serbs. those messengers from hell. I was full to the brim and running over with fury. probably more immediately important than mine.

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

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

25. NIGHTMARE JOURNEY
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This time I might get into action-there would be wounded men unable to use their rifles. only 800 accepted. Far in the background towered a long shoulder of snow-capped mountains. When I awoke it was bright day and we were amidst wild and savage scenery. his feet under the other. were printed for a moment black against a sky thick-sown with glorious southern stars. the behavior of our two foreigneducated. his head under one seat. in an unlit train. The detailed figures. Could I get one) I reached the door. now far.A total of I. but the fourth had disappeared. proved traitors to their oath and went over to the enemy. Firing and yells died away behind us. Two soldiers ran into our compartment and. like overripe stalks of wheat crushed by a storm.000 Yugoslav prisoners of war taken into Germany. and just as I stepped heavily on our human earthworm. remained quite stolid. It seemed as untouched by man as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains were before the trappers came. the train started up with a terrific jar. struggled to pull the window down. unreal silhouettes of darkened villages.679 officers representing 95 per cent of the Croat officers in the Yugoslav Army. Three times in two hours our train was attacked by the traitors in the same way and with the same result. soaring mountains were reflected in the wide lakes into which the Neretva spreads before it rushes out into the Adriatic. curved now near. I settled back and fell into a heavy sleep. who had sworn to protect their king and country. we were given the strange and beautiful experience of passing silently. a simple fellow. aviation specialists. This time there was very heavy close firing along the whole train. And over all there sailed. and to them honor. as given by the official gazette of the Independent State of Croatia. I dozed to wake with a violent start as the train stopped with a crash. for they only had to announce that they were Croats to be released at once. Of the 14.342 non-commissioned officers. Soft. less than 2 per cent were Croats. a delicate young moon. This was Illyria. calm above man's fury. denatured Montenegrins was a sight to see. 52 colonels. while the two girls sat immovable as little mushrooms. and 72 naval captains and officers. throwing us all across the compartment. 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. Tumbling. its rapids dancing as they caught the slowly rising glow of the moonlight. He was discovered lying across the door of the compartment. The foaming river. Of the 224. and mechanics. A few minutes more of wondering if we should cross a mine and fly into the air. 4 admirals. also I. include II generals. totally uninhabited. down the famous Neretva Valley. if they agreed to submit to Germany. were offered their freedom to return home to their families. Then the train gradually slowed down to its old pace. from our course. 68 captains. . Crashing of glass and deafening explosions followed as our men fired from the corridor. a thick shower of sparks flying past the window. where he apparently had lain all the time in the dirt! Between the attacks. of gnarled old fig trees. They fell down flat. and most of them have been retaken and killed. 73 lieutenant colonels. And each time. their breath stopped with fear. Their faces blanched. The third man. of mosques and graceful minarets. 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. Away it tore through the night. lying on top of me.000 Serb officers who.

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

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

already in a very gloomy state. had gone or come that morning. I therefore felt forced to advise the girls to remain here. and it seemed to me pretty sure that. was understandably furious. He informed me that I would not be permitted to leave Trebinye without a written order from him. Mr. L. Here was a nice situation! I insisted upon telephoning to Dubrovnik (Ragusa) to the British consul. then the line went dead. Harcourt informed me that several Americans and British were gathered there . as I did not wish even to be seen in the street with such a worm. People had been waiting since dawn. That night my two girls told me they had discovered that the hospital was full of wounded but had almost no nurses. What I anticipated did occur. Aware that I was probably being watched and that the removal of my bag might be reported. and we parted in sorrow and anxiety. And he assured me. I went to see the (civil) prefect.I went to consult the commandant. about everything except the war. with many leers. you don't understand . and though there has been much Chetnik activity and fighting round Trebinye I hope to see them when I return to Serbia. . and I planned how to outmaneuver the prefect. . that I would certainly not get it unless I accepted his visit at the hotel. Next morning they joined the staff of the hospital. All that day air alarms. Trebinye would eventually fall to the share of the Italians. L. it appeared. After again failing to get a laisser-passer from the disgusting prefect. 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. I sent it out of the back door by a half-witted boy to the station. dangling our feet and talking about poetry. None. I told him in carefully explicit and concise terms what I thought of him and ordered him to keep away from me. who are conspicuously superior to the Germans in their treatment of the Jews. . I decided to try to leave without the permit. Dubrovnik's fate was not so certain. I left him standing there pathetically wringing his hands and sniffling: "You don't understand. There I might conceivably get a sailboat to put me across onto the Montenegrin coast. The wretched Schacht followed me like a beaten spaniel. about the old Serbian heroes. southward of Dubrovnik and between it and Montenegro. I would make for Herzegnovi. now no doubt well rusted. visiting the quaint old Moslem quarter. Schacht at that moment came much nearer to death than he probably has since. and any hope of his assistance was spoiled. given defeat. There were no air alarms that golden afternoon. Mr. . So we sat on the wall beside the murmuring river. and I then wandered as if bored round the town. and to my surprise and annoyance found an old would-be admirer from Cetinje now installed as jackin-office. and at last arrived as if by chance near enough to the station to see if a train came in. 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 now felt very uncertain of being able to get them through to Montenegro. The commandant. So Mr. 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. .

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

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

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

We will positively not be taken. I will never forget this. "not all of us are fools or-knaves. "Not all of us. Remember." and he muttered a fearful curse." I said: "You are both Croats." 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. ." he said almost with entreaty.The elder officer (about forty) said quietly: "If the Germans are already there we will turn back at once. remember-it was the politicians.

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

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

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

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

The Croats believed the Germans would win. Let those cunning butchers take this word of warning: when that day of voting comes. 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. one million Serbian graves will cast their ballots too. 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.

it turned out differently. At her steady refusal to listen I detected a speculative gleam in his eye. Dubrovnik became Ragusa. which he kept in an appalling mess. widow of an Oxford don and for decades one of the landmarks of Dubrovnik. heirs of the proud tradition of the once rich and powerful Republic of Ragusa." the Axis. By expert maneuvering they quietly arrested the worst shouters but quickly released them again. He told me he would have renewed my American passport there and then. Oonah Ball. if not first. He succeeded in paying for the dinner of one of the highest passing officers. But. UP. and he promised to remove enough herbs from the furniture for us at least to sit down. I should also mention the bizarre and faintly sinister American who called himself Captain Kahn. alas. I examined it. SHOPPING FOR GUN EMPLACEMENTS THE JOY OF THE INHABITANTS of Dubrovnik at the arrival of their dear "saviors. there was a sharp dispute between the two loving allies. Apparently this got him oil and other favors. The hand embroidery was fine and the likeness almost mansized. the American consul general. and she passed away knowing nothing about it. In between these pursuits he spent his time cultivating the Germans. Ruth Mitchell 32. then immediately after the Italians. One morning . but all his seals had been lost in the bombardment." which had been proclaimed amidst general rejoicing on April 10. HITLER-down. whose stern rejection of his impassioned advances gave us much merriment. The Germans came in. 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. He had a small auxiliary yawl lying in Gruzh harbor. it is true. Mussolini!" (groans). He was determined that she and I should flee with him. which in its great days had been second only to the Republic of Venice. and her famous English library was sealed up. and intense was the disappointment of its people. With these he hoped to bewitch us.The Serbs Chose War. a hollow square of Alpini buglers blew a fanfare and hoisted a scarlet fish-tail banner with Patron Saint Blasius embroidered in the center. The Italians were noticeably embarrassed but imperturbably good-natured and patient as they watched the noisy demonstrations of the populace yelling: "UP. quickly waned.) In the charming old central place of the crowded town. down. Macatee. 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. as if I might take her place in his heart. They tried various expedients to flatter the people. died peacefully at this time. They had hoped and expected to see the Germans march in. He spent his time gathering herbs and making weird ointments and hellish brews. especially Laura McCullaugh. 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. He was violently proGerman and had little swastika flags stuck all over his boat. and members of his staff with their families passed through on that day on their way back to their posts at Belgrade. and for a day or two we breathlessly awaited the decision. Old Mrs. During her long illness news of the World War had been kept from her. and take over the protection of the newly created "Independent State of Croatia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

38. A THREE DOLLAR BED

HUNDRED

THOUSAND

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.

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

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. We sat sometimes for as much as a whole half-hour battling over one sentence. The corners of his mouth drew down until now he looked like one of those wooden human-faced nutcrackers with a moving jaw. Miss Mitchell-I understand you were born in America but are now British. having had absolutely nothing to eat or drink since about noon the day before. of course. It was "liberal!" He knew it all. and he tried to make them darkly significant. "Unnecessary. But he knew them. I could not help thinking of that charming Irish blessing. though through my marriage I also have British citizenship. Afraid I might make a slip. Anything that was broad-minded.. a strange battle developed. When it came to names I had a complete lapse of memory. Not so he: his charm and urbanity soon began to wear very thin and then disappeared altogether." I bowed." he growled. I had ever been to-quite a list. almost every day of my years in the Balkans. Tell me. disgusting to him. the best a humorous race can bestow: "May the corners of your mouth never turn down!" Toward noon. He knew that I had exchanged thousands of English and German students in my years of effort to promote better understanding between the nations. international in outlook. I began to feel exhausted. He frowned more and more darkly. He became exasperated.a "liberal"-that my grandfather had been a pioneer and builder of railroads. Unless he mentioned them in exasperation himself ] had quite forgotten everyone I knew. . and after my night on a wooden train bench." "I was born American and have remained American. as I had that right. quite unnecessary! Just a little chat. Now the questioning began. every month. Every answer I gave was reworded by him and dictated to the secretary. He knew that my father was for many years a United States senator from Wisconsin. the most insignificant facts. The man had obviously been a lawyer in civil life. Of course I wasn't going to have it. Harshly he ordered me to be taken out. As my command of German was quite as good as his. passing through my childhood.. and including every school even kindergarten. furious that his browbeating did not seem to be as effective as it usually was with unprotected women.I said that I wished immediately to get in touch with my representative.. only a few questions. He knew the smallest. And then. He waved my demand aside. "Liberal!" he kept saying with almost spitting disgust. "We have all the evidence." For an instant his mask of urbanity cracked: "You are British. the American minister or the consul. he trying subtly to turn my smallest utterance into something sinister. It happens that the madder I get the more softly and calmly I speak. It was like looking into a contorting mirror. as I was educate in many countries. or for the good of humanity as a whole was contemptible. who was not allowed to take down anything except what he himself told her. starting with my most distant ancestry. I pretended to feel faint and to be unable to answer him. It was a strange performance.

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

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

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

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

up some stone steps. This drove him into a frenzy. The guard. but never was an opportunity allowed to pass without such a screaming denunciation. heh? English. and in the middle a desk at which sat the chief warder. to condition prisoners for the horrors of that prison. We hurried across the narrow. His assistant. I was hurried down the Terrazie. Through a large door. roughly cobbled yard where prisoners were languidly working in the hot sun. and the door swung narrowly open I was pushed through. apparently. Then both departed. The detectives roughly elbowed them aside and knocked loudly A key rattled. please remember. and entitled to be treated as al internee. Richter One of the detectives signed the huge book. a wretched degenerate boy called Honig. after four hours' severe questioning. revolver on hip. what did they think they could ever accomplish against Germany!" he yelled.The Serbs Chose War. Ruth Mitchell 41. I was in the infamous Gestapo prison of Belgrade. sycophantically applauded his clever cracks. "English. bolts were drawn. slip. "Americans and English-the b s. It contained two beds against one wall. to spell my name. "American too. The women surged forward and made desperate efforts to peep inside. the instant the) were gone the chief began screaming at me. some weeping. Two Gestapo detectives were ordered to take me to prison. Surlily businesslike while the detectives were there. the miserable cowards." I said peacefully. across the street. some steel filing cabinets. to empty my pockets. It is hard to believe. a wash basin. Some looked up from their desultory sweeping to give me little secret nods of courage. along a short stone passage. under a deep archway. I was allowed to take absolutely nothing with me. It was designed. I therefore became silent and pretended to be fainting. through a small court and to an iron door in a high blank wall. through another iron door and into a small office. the detectives following. It was obvious to me at once that the man was a psychopathic case-as proved to be true. rifle on shoulder. barked at them angrily. I was so tired that I was afraid I might make . WOMEN AGAINST THE GESTAPO ON THE DAY of my arrival in Belgrade. 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. ." etc. having been given nothing at all to eat or drink since the previous afternoon. The detectives close against my shoulders. slammed and relocked the door. A group of anxious women stood there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Just then a man. looking a nameless death in the face? Your own kindly friends." One day I felt faint and sat down on a bench over a cellar air hole." he whispered frantically. calmly looking the guard in the eye. Ruth Mitchell 50. "Sie mussen Sich zusammen nehmen [You must control yourself]. He caught sight of my face. and in the foreground an antlered deer poking out its head. now walking slowly round the prison yard. It was all that we could do for him. thin. with leg chains so heavy he had to hold them up with his hands. taken you out to little merry. and on the next round flipped it down to Simonovich. Tell her I died with her name on my lips. There. calm]. The others depend on you. "tell Mary I held her in my heart to the end. in lock step. as loud as he dared without drawing the attention of the guard at his door." he hissed fiercely in German. quickly gathered round. sometimes chained. and slowly we went again upon our rounds. who had managed the Anglo-American Club. Somehow resolution came back. balled in my effort at control. He sprang back just before the guard turned. I could just see the gaunt. Only no sign. but we were careful to give no sign of recognition. Slowly I raised my eyes from his rusty chains. was bending down under the tap. The women. drawn face of Simonovich. Can you imagine what it felt like to see charming friends. . in the dim light looking up at me from the condemned cell. Quick as a flash he shuffled over and seized my hands.) 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. At the turn near the garbage cans we slipped aside. the tears gushed from my eyes." It was the right word. I squeezed his hand. a long time. the most extraordinary scene: mountains with the sun rising behind them. Then I saw." I felt as if a hand had reached into my breast and squeezed my heart. quickly lit a cigarette. dirty. walked up the yard. I knew that she had managed to escape to England. intimate dinners. There was a single water tap in the yard where the condemned men were allowed to wet their heads sometimes in the heat. and the guard. I bent and looked down the cellar hole. as usual. pine trees.for the one purpose of someday helping to bring retribution. I had known him and his charming English wife. no breakdown. "Ruhe. THE MINUET OF DEATH MANY OLD ACQUAINTANCES OF MINE were in the prison. 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.The Serbs Chose War. shrugging his shoulders disgustedly. I was so startled by this vision that the surprise steadied me. Ruhe [Calm. Try as I could to control myself. I rose. Suddenly something-it may have been a broom handle-struck me on the leg. who in days of happiness had sent you flowers. all in bright colors. tattooed on his breast. "Tell her.

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

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

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

the most beastly creature I came across in all these days." The woman's voice would trail away. they sobbed. they would stand looking round at us with shocked disgust. 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 . Without the slightest thought for others. when Serbia was fighting for her life. "is a forger. . but in a big way. spent her whole time in thinking up people to denounce to the Gestapo. One White Russian.almost indifferent to their fate. After the last war Serbia with the warmest generosity had received not less than 60. She fondly hoped this would get her out." pointing to some pretty child. of course. and then they might have to die. in which we all joined." "I couldn't . Never! They will stand firm." A moment's incredulous silence and she usually had the grace to burst into laughter. They weren't required to lift a hand.000 of these "aristocrats" fleeing from Bolshevism and had supported and found work for them regardless of her own labor problems. Crude. but neither were they allowed to go outside the cell or to participate in all our eager activities and plots. Invariably at first those hothouse flowers refused to work. Then politely I would get up and say: "Oh well. . "I never did . . never?" How we despised these women. But rage and hatred of their ruthless enemies. Haughty. 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. one of these women stubbornly repeated: "Whatever else is possible on earth. My own line is murdering children. disdainful. you'll find prison not so bad. Little did she understand German methods: the longer she went on denouncing. Although it was the habit of some of us always to rise and warmly greet a newcomer. . They had only one fear: that the Communists might be victorious. This lady murdered her husband. boiled up in them to a point which sometimes threatened hysteria. Then all was amity. Fortunately I have a very good memory for risqué stories. We sat in stony silence. they moaned all day. and teamwork was absolutely necessary for morale. they howled: "Will it never end. idle. repressed. are used to it. We. of course. We had one notable exception. We had a cure for that. This is a thief. for we are all habitual criminals. to force her to go on denouncing. the longer she was kept in. but we were living in crude and fearful circumstances. They had to be made to laugh if we were all to preserve our sanity. Now." She cheered us all up. fawning to the Germans! They had only one thought: the saving of their own miserable skins." etc. . cringing. an anti-Communist revolution is impossible. They just sat and sweltered. many of these same people turned upon their kindly hosts and became German-paid spies and informers. crude and fearful. When all the world was momentarily expecting the collapse of Russia and the office radio announced it almost every hour. beautifully dressed. with these it was different. I thought how fortunate were the democracies not to need the violent and bloody reaction of Communism to throw off such as these. But among our best jokes were the occasional arrivals of what are called "society" women. . There were four men actually in the prison on her denunciation. . Let me introduce you. you'll say. waiting. alone. This.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

57. "PREPARE TO SHOOT THE HOSTAGES"
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

and dedicated mien is unmistakable. fortunately only slightly. When the hour strikes there will be action by those fiendishly treated millions. I forced myself to swallow it by covering it with the taste of lemon peel. 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. palmists. the concentration camps. His stories. and her courage marched like a banner. interesting. it is hard for me to feel very sympathetic. the prison camps. Munich. must be incarcerated. and all organs. I could. There are four major types. began to give out. and from the sedatives which were administered to us in the so-called coffee (a thin liquid made probably from burnt acorns). living only for her music. gray ashes. And when I was moved on again. The prisons of Germany bulge with suffering humanity. it was almost impossible to swallow it without some added taste. who possesses and had managed to send to America three of the only seven paintings by Hitler known to be extant. has been admirable-and funny. There are not less than ten million foreigners at slave labor in Germany. because they foretell the fall of Hitler. and she gloried in them. Each is a distinct form of prison. which has already lasted two and a half years. firm. each with variations. Her behavior during her imprisonment. make it last for four days. bread so slimy and repulsive that." These are mostly people in humble walks of life. We had to keep body and soul together on thin potato soup and two chunks of bread per day. numerologists. Strangest of all are the members of a very widespread and fast-growing organization called the "Bible Searchers. Salzburg and Ulm. Vienna. including sight and hearing. especially in Austria. by taking the tiniest nibbles. Each of the hundreds of women I met had her different. brothels. There was the already famous Viktoria. whatever one thought about communism. starved though we were. and factories. who all. were unprintable. 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. and the Nazis are hounding them ferociously. lack of vitamins and exercise. farms. The Nazis are determined to force her to hand them over and so cannot let her die. We talked all day and most of the night. and the internment camps. the police barracks in Spandau. prophets. already over two years in the prison without a single sight of the sky. There were the fortunetellers.action such as imagination boggles at. reminding one of the early Christian martyrs. One lump of sugar could be made to last two days. and almost always tragic story. of German prisons: the regular prisons. In Vienna I saw the notable Frau Neumann (though I only saw her naked!). she had refused to obey an order to become a schoolteacher in Poland. as repeated by her. I became very weak from under nourishment. Their gentle. strengthening to all who came in contact with them. a blazing Nazi fire had been reduced to cold. and astrologers. I contracted scurvy. When I hear women complaining about a lack of luxuries in America. There were special groups of prisoners which one came to recognize at sight. There are also the ghettos. later. and.The Serbs Chose War. She led physical-training exercises every morning. . Ruth Mitchell EPILOGUE AFTER BEING TAKEN from Belgrade I spent longer or shorter periods in the following prisons: Graz. There were the real Communists. In Munich I occupied for ten days a cell with a red-hot Nazi concert singer imprisoned because. Her uncle had just returned from the Russian front. whose strong faith upheld them in a sort of shining brightness. a brilliant girl of only nineteen.

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

greed and fear.than the Germans hold British. which they believe to be not inferior to their own. Serbia was the only small country in Europe to come in openly on our side before she was herself attacked. of Zetta Carveth Wells. Knowing that nothing could have been nearer to the fighting heart of my brother than the Fighting Serbs. especially of my daughter. The Serbs did not bargain with us for their help: they gave it. 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. Ruth Norna van Breda Yohn. great inspiration. . and of my sister. Harriet Mitchell Fladoes. 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. what an immeasurable debt each one of us owes to the small yet great race of Serbs. in view of all they have lost in fighting-for us. on June 30. I promised them that America would never forget the bond and the debt. especially. I was back home after four years of great happiness. to whom I can never be sufficiently grateful. As we approached the harbor we were all on deck. I gave the dying men and women of Serbia my promise that I would spend the rest of my life looking after their children. in view of all they have saved-to us. I returned to America with nine hundred other American citizens on the last exchange ship arriving in New York. I propose that for the rebuilding and the future of Serbia we appropriate the cost to us of one day of war. leaving our recognition of it to American honor. I have established in his memory the General Billy Mitchell Memorial Foundation for Balkan Youth. I expected that when we saw it we would all burst into songs and cheers. In Berlin on June 14. I rely upon my countrymen with complete trust to help me to keep that pledge. I pledged the honor of my country. He had just viewed the results of the first great block-busting attack on Cologne. I was exchanged to America. Through the efforts of my relatives and friends. I wrote this book to help the United Nations realize what the Balkans mean directly to us. indescribable pain. 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. German policy is directed by two principles. 1942. eagerly straining our eyes to see the great statue that beacons the entrance of New York Harbor. 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 also got in touch with a British agent still calmly working there. In view of all that the Serbs have done-for us. But as slowly it emerged from the early mist there was not a sound. They fear British reprisals.in money and in lives. 1942.

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

Then. .000 Hungarians. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. . Dalmatia and Slovenia. 3. The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs . . the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends.500. taken from Austria. 500. . and India. an incident which almost provoked a world war. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. 75. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century.000 Croats . .000. 8. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. . Therefore.000 6. 3. the Croats became experts at intrigue. . Croats. and-World War I started. have been relatively unaffected by German culture. In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. . agitating always for their own advantage. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. . was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. to consist of Serbs. on the other hand. From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. .000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks. 1914. taken from Hungary. Says Leon Dominian. and Bosnia and Herzegovina. hastily put together in 1918. . 500. of course.1. also asked for a national state. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. Croatia and Voivodina. .000 #Mixed Elements . would work out smoothly. They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization. .000 Albanians. had always been a subject people. 300. . fighting only on the side of their overlords. 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. Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. and Slovenes into an independent state. In fact. . the Serbs." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds. dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately.Croatian territory.000.000 Jews. the Persian Gulf. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream. the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. . never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs.000 Rumanians. -.000. while the Serbs became adepts with the sword.000 Germans.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. In contrast to the Croats. Croats. . .500. 500. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans.250.000 Slovenes . aided by the Dalmatian Croats. as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. What happened can best be told by eyewitnesses: . On June 22 he issued an order stating that anyone using force against citizens of the country would be severely punished. 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. This notice. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. Bogdan Vivodvic.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century. the Home Defense. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr. They continued intermittently until November 1942. designed to put the Serbs off their guard. the patriot. Trebinye. by which time practically all the I. president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914. That is. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians. Vojislav Besarovic. mass arrests were made in Zagreb.550. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government.250. Travnik. who was seventy-five years old.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. Dr. Dushan Jeftanovic. and the regular army. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres. three fourths of the population was Serbian. was broadcast on the radio. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. and published in newspapers. Livno. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement. read in churches. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. The 620. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb.000 The 930. and other towns.970.000 620.000 420. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. the Ustashi.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out. Livno. Ante Pavelich. Dr. Sarajevo. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks.000 930. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. Dubrovnik. with almost no resignations. Banja-Luka. Local Croat officials often participated in the shooting of prominent Serbian citizens belonging to their locality. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. Mostar. They went over. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together. 1941. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. The 420. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr. it will be seen that there were 1. so that.

About 3. Rapes were committed even before the altars of the Orthodox Church. and in terribly wild tortures of the victims. Eyes were dug out of live victims. Boiling water was poured on live victims before mutilation. and the Goats. Their children were thrown into fire. member of the Yugoslav Diplomatic Corps. noses and tongues lobbed off. 1942.. hunger. Many of these bodies bore tags: 'Direction-Belgrade.. Drava. The arms and legs of the victims were broken and their heads were spiked. burned to death in their homes and churches. a Serbian paper of Pittsburgh. 1943: "These atrocities do not amount to killings alone. and children were raped. we can at least lessen our responsibility before the world and our consciences if we raise our voices in protest against all these crimes. and one Croat decorated with a wreath of Serbian eyes came to Dubrovnik with two wreaths of Serbian tongues.. February 24. mothers before daughters and daughters before mothers. .DOCUMENT 1 GRIZOGONO LETTER Source: Letter written by Privislav Grizogono. Crowbars smashed their heads. girls. scalding water. and fed to the fired lime furnaces. Other children were parted by their legs. Minister to Czechoslovakia. children.A. and fires were built on their bare chests. These and many other methods of torture were employed against the Serbs-tortures which normal people cannot conceive. Then. ears amputated.. "Though we Croatians shall never be able to erase this shamefulness which we brought upon ourselves with these crimes. and aged men.. since then. with a woman's head (presumably the mother of the children) labeled: "Meat for John's Market-Belgrade" (meaning meat for the Serbian market). Many pictures were taken of these massacres and torture orgies. Pa.5 kilograms of Serbian eyes. They are so terrible they have shocked even the Germans and Italians. there is a proverb in Germany: 'God save us from cholera. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb. and female children were ushered off to Ustashi garrisons to be used as prostitutes. Published in translation by the American Srbobran. Thousands of Serbian bodies floated down the Sava. this was the hot blood of their murdered brothers that other Serbs were forced to drink. The Germans claim the Croats did these same things during the Thirty-Year War and that. Aloisius Stepinac. were ripped off rudely by knives.' In one boat on the Sava there was a pile of children's heads. Utensils full of Serbian blood were also discovered. Literally they were roasted alive. and Danube rivers and their tributaries. February 8. a huge pile of roasted heads was found. their flesh was salted. "There are detailed and official minutes (reports) about these unheard-of crimes. "The case of Milenka Bozinich from Stapandza is a particularly gruesome one: they dug her unborn child out of her with a knife. They aim at extermination of everything Serbian: women. their heads crushed against walls and their spines dashed against rocks. and the massacre of Serbians before the altar at Kladusha with sledge hammers is something never mentioned in history.S. They were tied to trucks and dragged behind them. together with their skin. in Bosnia. to King Peter.000 Serbs were murdered in the Serbian Orthodox Church at Glina. The beards and mustaches of priests. "They were thrown into the deep cisterns and caves. U. while many women. The Italians have photographed a vessel holding 31. "Countless women. These innocent Serbs were stuck on poles alive. addressed to Dr. a Croat and a Roman Catholic. Croatia. then literally bombed to pieces. girls. Minister to Poland.' Even the Germans from Srem [Syrmia] hate us and act more or less humanely toward the Serbs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Minuet of Death 51. “This Is German Culture” 54. Pride and Shame 52. Uncle Luke 50. My Sister Zora 59. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58. The Informer 53. The Field That Groaned 49. Leka Saves Her Man 55. Rose 57. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour .48. Epilogue 61. Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. Prison Bernhardt 56.

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