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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bus hove in sight. The war broke out soon afterwards. My last information was that he had been killed in action. I felt miserable and desperate. amazed. which he believed would always be a liability rather than an asset to Italy. "Why all these complicated schemes?" he asked me calmly. the lunch. The attractive lieutenant bowed over my hand. who remained my trusty and dependable henchman. moved on. came up. but I'm getting tired of them. It took time and cost me about 150.000 dinars (about $3. and stopped. intelligent Montenegrin frontier policeman who had hidden my messengers on the little lake steamer and been otherwise helpful. later joined General Mihailovich. with a young Carabiniere lieutenant and two armed soldiers. The lieutenant gave himself infinite pains to entertain me. He was a huge. of course. having writ. Why not go at the thing simply and straightforwardly now and finish it?" "How?" I breathed. He bewailed the advantages of Abyssinia. As I prepared to mount. presented arms. And now occurred a curious and ominous incident. Soon came the news that Shucho had been transferred to a malarial island off Valona. was carefully laid out and punctiliously served by the guards. "They've been fun. . including wine. and Shucho returned to fight in the abortive revolt of the Albanian mountaineers. Arrived at the post. He explained what he meant. the same post where I had escaped before. compared with Albania. where he had just been stationed. I made no explanations-but they did.ooo at the then current exchange). he put me into the car himself with many bows and hand-kissings and. And so it was done: we bribed everybody from the prison governor down to the smallest turnkey-quite possibly even Marolli himself.Captain Marolli now ordered "the best car in Scutari" and an elaborate lunch. at a sharp word of command the platoon of soldiers. but the boy arrived at last in Yugoslavia. and stood at the salute as the bus moved off-the Germans. I was driven to the frontier. Then Vaso appeared. and-Italy was now the third country for which I had been proved a spy! I had failed again. and this had seemed the last hope. Vaso. handed me in. all agog with excitement and curiosity. drawn up like a guard of honor. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Adriatic. then-God help Croatia! That evening I went out into the garden to get a breath of good fresh air. 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. battered seafaring man speaking perfect American slang. he passes through the lines of the . (It turned out that Italians and Germans were both coming up from the south and both down from the north. Will you go now? Tomorrow may be too late. with hard black bread. and in a somber twilight the family had been gathered for days. and he was then in Africa. on the run most nights. my family." He was one of the Serb staff. broke languidly beside our road. The British and other nationals are gathering at Rizan [farther on. I thought of these things. safety. 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. My last letter from him had reached me the previous February. cheese. he carrying my bag in sailor fashion on his shoulder. a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force. Generals have flown to Germany to negotiate surrender. my only son. the Italians must really be advancing up from the south." I said I would think it over. But. It says that the Army has asked for an armistice. A man ran in hurriedly and peered at me. the deep engulfing snows of winter. comfort. my choice had been made long ago. The only question now was. howling wind and soaking rain. the broiling suns of a Balkan summer. "The harbor commandant has received a telegram. if the planes made for Egypt. moaning about what terrible things might be happening to their male relations. of course. On one side beckoned England and America. 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. You must flee at once. quick death-obscure death. with luck. I might be able to see my son again. If this was typical of her upper class.I set out with my bag on foot and was accosted by an ancient. The lower windows had all been boarded up. I found a state of shuddering gloom and dread. Having got it. "Are you Ruth Mitchell?" "Yes:' "I am P. The lovely gardens we passed were just breaking into their first spring riot of subtropical flowers. where seaplanes and submarines are expected to come and get them out. The sky was Mediterranean blue. murmurously calm. Cheerfully we chatted. Greatest temptation of all. deep in the Boka]. three months before. while he detailed to me in salty language his experiences of years in America. and either the Italians or Germans down from the north. And at the end perhaps wounds or hanging (how the Germans love to hang!) or.) I was therefore quite certainly between two advancing enemy lines. I did think it over all that night. Hiding most days. You will remember me from the British Legation. and an onion for food. And on the other side. when I became a Chetnik. which way was it my business to go? Where could I do the most damage ? If the Yugoslav Army's resistance had ceased.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.But nothing is more certain than that any official who has compromised with the Croats can consider his career closed. The Croats believed the Germans would win. Let those cunning butchers take this word of warning: when that day of voting comes. . 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a national ideal and national wholehearted support that produced this German fiendishness. navy. too brutal. small farmers. She was released and then rearrested and taken to internment. on June 28. They seized all law courts and all schools. And drove their tanks over the shallow graves." I say that if such an order could have been given to our soldiers. his soul frozen in a horror that would never wholly melt. These boys and aged men were drawn up. who afterwards in internment was my dear friend. but the thing that made her really ill with fury was the German treatment of the Serb peasants. THE FIELD THAT GROANED WHO that lived through it could ever forget those terrible forty-eight hours when. who told me-and I know he spoke the truth-that as he passed by a German execution field near Belgrade. the heavy German tanks rumbled through Belgrade. and little children dig trenches. boys and girls. 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. or too mean for the Germans by way of demonstrating their "master superiority. Then the German officers went along the corridors with loaded clubs. The Germans stood them up facing the trenches. or air force. So the Germans surrounded each town and each village. not one man in our army. only had to obey their orders. could have been found to carry it out. And so. had dug up their buried guns again and had risen. Nothing was too contemptible. their backs to the machine guns. after a period of deceptive humility. Against the mechanized might of a Nazi punitive expedition the Chetniks could oppose only their bodies and their rifles. and thrown off the conquerors. 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. I say that every German in Germany is guilty of every atrocity. pounding them. Hitler himself was a man of the people. the brave German soldiers mowed them down. Dead and half-dead alike: you don't believe it? Let me tell you that I myself spoke to a man. the brave German officers giving the order. Miss Jane Allison. She had for years run a small kindergarten in Belgrade. And the Germans. women. They took the upper classes of every school of whatever grade. chained in long rows in the corridors. every lawyer. so that they fell forward into the trenches. poor things. She could endure her own suffering quietly. their faces to the wall. almost three quarters of Serbia was free once more. produced by the people. They were mostly very young boys or quite old men. They took every judge. Then.The Serbs Chose War. with the full . not one. People will come after the war whining that "the German soldiers. he had heard that field groaning. too petty. Ruth Mitchell 48. every school teacher. The Chetniks. Any man who had made a move to obey such an order would have been killed on the spot by his fellow soldiers. Their hatred of the Serbs became a veritable passion-an obsession. The Germans made these men. as Vaso had predicted. since all the strong men were away in the mountains to fight. the Chetniks had risen. from that day sneered no more. shaking even the three-foot-thick walls of our prison ? They were bound southwards to where. men and women. every leading man. without pause. who had sneered at the Serbs as overrated slaves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. hastily put together in 1918.000 Slovenes . . . . agitating always for their own advantage. the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. the Serbs." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds.000 #Mixed Elements . taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. . Croatia and Voivodina. In contrast to the Croats. Then. In fact.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks. 8. 500.500. to consist of Serbs. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. -. fighting only on the side of their overlords. and India. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans. and Slovenes into an independent state. From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. Therefore. . Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs.000 Rumanians. 75. .250. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. 500. aided by the Dalmatian Croats. viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. 3. 500. . deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends. had always been a subject people. dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately. . . and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.Croatian territory. . of course. . the Persian Gulf. was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. .000.500.000 6. taken from Hungary. have been relatively unaffected by German culture.1. . Croats.000 Croats . the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization.000. taken from Austria.000 Germans. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century. . . The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs . . and Bosnia and Herzegovina. on the other hand. 3. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. would work out smoothly.000.000 Hungarians. and-World War I started. Says Leon Dominian. while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. an incident which almost provoked a world war. who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. Croats. the Croats became experts at intrigue.000 Jews. 300.000 Albanians. Dalmatia and Slovenia. also asked for a national state. as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. . . 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. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. 1914.

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

paid almost 50 per cent of the country's taxes. Croats. by far the richest agricultural area in the kingdom. While the deputy. Stepan Radich. Foreign capital. On the contrary. as part of the new kingdom. Ivan Pernar. which had only 3. a hardy mountaineer. especially in the area centering around the city of Zagreb. Rachich. They also did their best to prevent the reconstruction of highways and railroads outside of Croatia.000.000 people. therefore. mostly from Vienna and Budapest. these provinces were divided into nine administrative districts named after the rivers of Yugoslavia. was suddenly available in abundance. was rich in industries. and the Croat Frankist Party. drew a gun and shot him. There was. was advocating the necessity of developing a backward section of the kingdom. while a poor province agriculturally compared with Voivodina or Serbia. by which-without protest. Their goal was complete independence for the Goats. Rachich. 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. This was unfortunate and made the task of the new state much more difficult than it might otherwise have been.Voivodina. which became known as the Little Vienna of Europe. shared in the reparations which Germany paid to Serbia. 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. At this the Croatians balked. partly by Croats themselves. Because Vienna had lost much of its former charm and Gemutichkeit when World War I ended. stung beyond bearing. Between 1918 and 1940 the population of Zagreb increased from 80. But Croatia.000.000 to 350. secondly. There were twelve political parties in the kingdom.paid Serbia a penny in reparations. Matters were made much worse by the fact that while Pernar was only lightly . could not tamely submit to attacks upon his honor. a member of the Croat Peasant Party. and Slovenes. the question of taxes. in World War I. But Croatia. to which about 80 per cent of the Croats belonged. the nexus of retired businessmen and officials who had used Vienna as a center moved on to Zagreb. Croatia. which had been destroyed. Pernar appearing reluctant. at first refused to participate in the Yugoslav Parliament. in an attempt to promote national unity and to forget old rivalries. The Croats were. This meant that during the early years of the kingdom the representation of Croats in Parliament was small. able to elect deputies from districts where they constituted the majority of the population. A uniform tax law for the new state was worked out in 1926. 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. the Croat Clerical Party. deputies being elected from the old historic provinces out of which the kingdom had been composed. They refused to subscribe to state loans and opposed the construction of railroads in any part of the kingdom except Croatia itself. leader of the Croat Peasant Party. was obviously too small to achieve or hold political independence without selling out to one of the great European powers. In 1928 a Montenegrin deputy killed two Croatian deputies during a session of Parliament. three of them purely Croatian: the Croat Peasant Party. Punisha Rachich. In 1930. They wanted all the taxes collected in Croatia to be spent on Croatia. in a violent diatribe threw doubt upon the honesty of his intentions. and demanded that Pernar retract his insults. A Yugoslav constitutional assembly was held in 1920 and a Parliament was established.

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

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

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

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

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

and other towns. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded.000 930. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. three fourths of the population was Serbian. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. Sarajevo. Local Croat officials often participated in the shooting of prominent Serbian citizens belonging to their locality. The 620. The 420. Trebinye. This notice. Vojislav Besarovic. Dubrovnik. 1941.000 620. mass arrests were made in Zagreb. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians. so that. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century. Dushan Jeftanovic. with almost no resignations.000 420. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots. That is. president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. by which time practically all the I.250. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together. read in churches. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31. Bogdan Vivodvic. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement. the Ustashi. Livno. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb. Livno. it will be seen that there were 1.550. They continued intermittently until November 1942. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914. Dr. Travnik. who was seventy-five years old. Mostar. Dr. 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.000 The 930. and the regular army. Banja-Luka.000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs. and published in newspapers. the patriot. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. They went over.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres. Ante Pavelich.970. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar. the Home Defense. was broadcast on the radio.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks. designed to put the Serbs off their guard. 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. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Field That Groaned 49. Leka Saves Her Man 55. Pride and Shame 52. The Informer 53. Uncle Luke 50. The Minuet of Death 51. Epilogue 61. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour . A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. Prison Bernhardt 56. My Sister Zora 59. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58. Rose 57.48. “This Is German Culture” 54.