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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

themselves loyal and forthright." cried the Croats." But it wasn't done. it's being done." or. what it would mean to release the repression engendered by hundreds of years of foreign vassalage. Machek was too strong."Croatian taxes. He had it. He was a wiser man than Machek but less dynamic. He wanted a "Great Croatia." They did not wish to help to improve the country as a whole. when he pointed the hatred of his compatriots toward the Serbs. by the whirlwind he roused. and. the Croats went berserk. (I must in fairness mention that three months after Germany overran Yugoslavia the German governor of the Belgrade prison where I was an inmate said to me: "Don't think we have ever looked upon Premier Cvetkovich as a friend of Germany!") Everywhere I talked with the simple people in trains. since the Prince was afraid of him. I suppose. he thought to conjure up a breeze. I begged and pressed in various quarters. world conquest. But I did not then suspect that the basest treachery had been long and systematically prepared. He worked up the ill feeling of the Croats against the Serbs to an absolutely vicious degree. Just so the Serbs. the Slovene leader. Prince Paul and his government were not bought with money by Germany. He went too far. failing that. Being weak and spoiled by luxury. as they thought. in bookshops. was blown away. complete Croat control of Yugoslavia. Koroshets died. I urged and urged again that all Croat soldiers be drafted into separate regiments. the Slovenes. though we were warned with solemn words and even with conclusive figures. He did not foresee.000 Serbs. their moment of triumph had arrived. "must be used only for the benefit of Croatia." "Hurry!" "Well. at worst. much more steady than the Croats. For when. and thereby the very thing Machek wished for-Croat control of Yugoslavia-was destroyed. Machek worked for Croat autonomy with might and main. 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. terrifying German hand. I became more and more convinced that. Shall we blame the Serbs for inability to see what was coming? They were like ourselves-they judged others by themselves. I was assured: "It will be done. They clung to the union ideal of King Alexander for which he himself was murdered by a Croat organization. in little country restaurants. Croatian superior education and brains. We in America and England could not bring ourselves to believe that Germany was planning war. Like many another politician who fell short of being a statesman. I began to get a pretty clear picture of the Croat attitude. He wanted a weak central government which would permit him to exercise more power. have been much more loyal. their democratic ideal similar to the Serbian. they too meant well enough. Alas. at best. their loyalty could not be relied upon. This weak government fell easily into the clutching. they were bought with promises of safety of lives and possessions. they would go over completely to Germany. . And because he worked with gentler means." "We have begun to do it.

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

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

" "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. Then and only then will America save-herself. like ants. 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. including the Czech and the Serb. I said: "It does. leaving only a still strong-looking surface." said my dear friend Imre Gal. for the people." Imre. I hope he knows that America now fights. a hollow shell which-as in France-can crumble at a blow. stronger than ever in her history. by the people" not only for herself but for all the smaller democracies of the world. for dictatorship. My friends looked at me agonized. Tells us. Useless.few over the many. with his wife and girl and boy whom I loved. can eat away at the heart. It does. does the American heart still beat strong. for government "of the people. The seas are their Maginot Line. did not live to see my word made good: all four were among the more than 20.000 who died only a few days later in the fiendish Belgrade bombardment. . "then and only then will America save the great ideal of human freedom. and eager for democracy? " There was a silence. At that moment I felt humble and proud to be looked upon with such confidence as the interpreter of my country. holding their breath with anxiety. Yes. alert. Secret penetration. Be sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

less than 2 per cent were Croats.A total of I. The detailed figures. the train started up with a terrific jar. remained quite stolid. totally uninhabited. This time I might get into action-there would be wounded men unable to use their rifles. for they only had to announce that they were Croats to be released at once. we were given the strange and beautiful experience of passing silently. lying on top of me. the behavior of our two foreigneducated. Their faces blanched. only 800 accepted. Could I get one) I reached the door. Three times in two hours our train was attacked by the traitors in the same way and with the same result. if they agreed to submit to Germany. curved now near. his head under one seat. And over all there sailed. down the famous Neretva Valley. This time there was very heavy close firing along the whole train. Firing and yells died away behind us. like overripe stalks of wheat crushed by a storm. and mechanics. its rapids dancing as they caught the slowly rising glow of the moonlight. unreal silhouettes of darkened villages. I dozed to wake with a violent start as the train stopped with a crash. Of the 14. denatured Montenegrins was a sight to see. and 72 naval captains and officers. 52 colonels. were offered their freedom to return home to their families. 73 lieutenant colonels.679 officers representing 95 per cent of the Croat officers in the Yugoslav Army. aviation specialists. throwing us all across the compartment. a thick shower of sparks flying past the window. where he apparently had lain all the time in the dirt! Between the attacks. also I. 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. and just as I stepped heavily on our human earthworm. calm above man's fury. Soft. The foaming river. a simple fellow. A few minutes more of wondering if we should cross a mine and fly into the air. of mosques and graceful minarets. When I awoke it was bright day and we were amidst wild and savage scenery. a delicate young moon. . now far.000 Yugoslav prisoners of war taken into Germany. Far in the background towered a long shoulder of snow-capped mountains. This was Illyria. their breath stopped with fear. They fell down flat. 4 admirals. soaring mountains were reflected in the wide lakes into which the Neretva spreads before it rushes out into the Adriatic. struggled to pull the window down. Away it tore through the night.000 Serb officers who. Then the train gradually slowed down to its old pace. It seemed as untouched by man as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains were before the trappers came. Of the 224.342 non-commissioned officers. I settled back and fell into a heavy sleep. and to them honor. who had sworn to protect their king and country. 68 captains. The third man. and most of them have been retaken and killed. And each time. his feet under the other. Tumbling. 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. Two soldiers ran into our compartment and. were printed for a moment black against a sky thick-sown with glorious southern stars. include II generals. Crashing of glass and deafening explosions followed as our men fired from the corridor. but the fourth had disappeared. He was discovered lying across the door of the compartment. while the two girls sat immovable as little mushrooms. of gnarled old fig trees. from our course. in an unlit train. as given by the official gazette of the Independent State of Croatia. proved traitors to their oath and went over to the enemy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Not all of us." 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. "not all of us are fools or-knaves." 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. Remember." and he muttered a fearful curse. . We will positively not be taken." he said almost with entreaty. I will never forget this. remember-it was the politicians.

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

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

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

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

one million Serbian graves will cast their ballots too. Let those cunning butchers take this word of warning: when that day of voting comes.But nothing is more certain than that any official who has compromised with the Croats can consider his career closed. . 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. The Croats believed the Germans would win. then they would see to it that they kept the rich lands bought from Germany with their treachery: there should be no more Serbs there to vote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sure enough. "Certainly. not cleaned for days or ever. "Oh dear. a Jew. no. the detective took me in a taxi to the address given by Von Nassenstein. certainly not!" He called a nice-looking woman from another cell. To the large. This was the real thing in prisons. 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. 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. The place was closed. Ruth Mitchell 37. hoping to give it at least ten days of happy exploration. a runner was dispatched and brought it: it was the last time I tasted spirits for thirteen months. and stood there smiling. She went to the little peephole in the door and yelled for the guard until at last he lumbered up. I said I should be delighted. My cell mate told me in good German that her husband. fat policemen were tough but good-natured. "With rum?" Amused. Not even a bench or stool. at least for the present. said soothingly. And in the corner by the door a stinking. the detective sent for a Gestapo officer While we waited I sat down on the stone steps of the drive-in. "No. "we're awfully bored. There was a small barred window high up." she said confidentially. "NEITHER QUICKLY FREE NOR QUITE DEAD" ARRIVED THAT EVENING in Sarajevo. They were obviously anything but delighted at the sudden rush of business that always follows German triumphs." said my cellmate. had been instantly closed by the Germans and labeled with their usual idiotic signs such as "bloodsucker" etc. But the atmosphere was peculiar. was also in the prison. I said tea." and. I answered. open drain of a toilet. It was strange. red-faced turnkey who took me upstairs to my cell I said: "I will be alone?" I hoped so. were slowly being engulfed by the shadows of the high surrounding mountains. By standing on the slanting bed-board I could catch a glimpse of the huddled roofs of the lovely old town. Here they were safe. and he asked if I should like anything. from which rose numbers of slim white minarets. A Gestapo officer arrived and angrily ordered me back into the taxi. to see it at last as a little picture framed by heavy prison bars. Can't we have the girls from my old cell in here for a bit?" . and under it some sloping boards: evidently the common bed. Against my protests he drove me to the prison and handed me over to the Goat prison warders. It was paternal in a curious way. This prison was a huge old gloomy place obviously ex-Turkish.The Serbs Chose War. the friend away. "we shall be dull here alone. and the bright southern stars swung low. Wouldn't you like your fortune told?" Surprised. She described how every Jewish shop. but he. unlocked the door. now rosy with sunset. thinking I was frightened. A few lights sprang up. even the humblest. put us together into a small cell. "Look. The big. Perturbed. after all my eager anticipation. and locked the door.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. 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. He did it well. And she. and our lovely little Trudi was all tremulous relief and hope and smiles again.to what infamous fate .tell her he had seen the list again and found he had mistaken the first name: that it was a different man altogether. the little beauty-she was transported to Germany. . But the information proved only too true. . That gentle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

had been made in the yard.The Serbs Chose War." Soon. elderly lady. Without my knowledge he fixed up an elaborate trap with a box and string and caught it. donkeys!" that it gave me endless delight. I was horrified. Yes. would knock down the nauseous insect with a broom. dizzy with blood. (Now the poor birds are probably themselves all dead and eaten. such frank remarks became impossible. her nose wrinkling in disgust. as if trained. Suddenly she would start up with a fierce cry: "Lyubitsa. there was comedy. "You have captured and imprisoned a perfectly innocent tame creature: it must obviously be a Jew. asking that he should at least not shoot at that one. and white pebbles. and the Jews were forced to keep it in order. Lidia. A swastika. as he grew more and more darkly morose. nonplussed. bugs!" (It was so beautifully like Betsy Trotwood with her famous "Janet." Any woman brought in who looked less than absolutely clean was taken to the toilet. notably in the Salzburg prison and in the huge Promenade prison in Vienna. but we knew that if anyone did so all prisoners would be paraded and every third one shot. winging free toward the drifting free clouds! Hahn used to practice his bad revolver marksmanship on them.) Instantly a pretty peasant girl in bright head-shawl would spring up. This little brown pigeon gave us great satisfaction. My dear little brown pigeon relieved the strain." "What?" he asked. fastidious. Regularly. . Sometimes in our Belgrade cell these night prowlers. where the straw sacks were black with ancient grease. even in that hellhole. Bedbugs were not quite as bad here as in some prisons in Germany. he decided I was to have it. Lidia's eagle eye was on the watch for them. PRISON BERNHARDT PIGEONS USED TO FLY down into the prison yard. Lidia and I were "lice wardens. it sat on that swastika and did its business. I remarked on the prettiness of a brown one. seeking-sad irony! . the slim. "A yellow armband and a yellow star. Our mouths watered to spit on it. and there were many wounded birds.food. picked out in red. 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. Ruth Mitchell 55. eager to please. As he was at that time being very cordial to me. and when he was cutting its wings I could not help saying bitterly: "You have forgotten something. black. Lyubitsa would pounce upon it with cries of joy and extinguish it in the night pail." He looked at me. stripped and carefully examined.) How yearningly we used to watch them.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

500. fighting only on the side of their overlords. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia. of course. dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately. In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. on the other hand. 500. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs. The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs .000 Hungarians.000 Slovenes . the Croats became experts at intrigue.250.000 Jews.000. the Serbs. . In contrast to the Croats. . as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. and India. and Slovenes into an independent state. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. an incident which almost provoked a world war. and-World War I started. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. . the Persian Gulf. . hastily put together in 1918. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. 500. Dalmatia and Slovenia. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century.000 Albanians. . viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1. Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro.000 Croats . who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. .500. 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. Croats.000 Rumanians. . . .000 6. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans.000. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. taken from Austria. also asked for a national state. Therefore. taken from Hungary.500. 3. . deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends. -. Croats. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. to consist of Serbs. . had always been a subject people. the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I.Croatian territory. aided by the Dalmatian Croats. They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization. 8. . was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks.000 #Mixed Elements .1. agitating always for their own advantage. . 300. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds. Then. 3. have been relatively unaffected by German culture. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. In fact. and Bosnia and Herzegovina. . . 1914. .000 Germans. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. Croatia and Voivodina. . . Says Leon Dominian. would work out smoothly. 75.000.

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

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

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

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

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

But from the Croats even worse was to come. . 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.

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

mass arrests were made in Zagreb. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians.970. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. was broadcast on the radio. They went over. 1941. Ante Pavelich. Bogdan Vivodvic. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots. three fourths of the population was Serbian. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr. The 420. Mostar.000 420. the patriot. read in churches. designed to put the Serbs off their guard. Dubrovnik. On June 22 he issued an order stating that anyone using force against citizens of the country would be severely punished. Vojislav Besarovic.000 620. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded. Dushan Jeftanovic.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out. president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.000 930. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31. Livno. it will be seen that there were 1. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks. That is.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914. Trebinye. and other towns. Local Croat officials often participated in the shooting of prominent Serbian citizens belonging to their locality. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement.250. and published in newspapers. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. Livno. Dr. the Ustashi. What happened can best be told by eyewitnesses: . and the regular army.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. by which time practically all the I. who was seventy-five years old. Dr. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together.550. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government. Travnik. so that.000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs. with almost no resignations. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres.000 The 930. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb. Sarajevo. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. They continued intermittently until November 1942. Banja-Luka. The 620. the Home Defense. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar. Croatia's extermination of the Serbs of Bosnia was therefore as much a violation of the ethics of race and nationality which Europe has evolved during the centuries as anything ever done by the Nazis. This notice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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