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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

one million Serbian graves will cast their ballots too. then they would see to it that they kept the rich lands bought from Germany with their treachery: there should be no more Serbs there to vote. But 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. . 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.

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

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

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. weight of guns. such scientific perfection. And it was actually stoppedfor my pleasure and convenience! The Alpini in their green uniforms. Some looked not more than fifteen. no camera is ever left behind where Germans pass. Their extreme youth was a surprise. I lodged a complaint about this disgusting habit with the major in command. surely. I must admit. as it reached that point. they looked softened. silvery olive trees under the hot blue sky. often made the whole thing seem unreal to me. thick. excited air. prickly bush. The promontory near my hotel was covered with tall. It seemed suicidal to oppose such power. Most of those cameras had been stolen. where I had suspected and found two batteries of mountain guns. Yet all the time my heart kept singing: "They can't get up our mountains. the defeatism of some of the conquered peoples. However fast and powerful. and singing the lovely old arias from Carmen. and care for the finest detail was staggeringly impressive. and a volley of clicks ran down the lines. Troops were encamped all over it. every man rose. even their mellow Italian voices seemed to have grown thin and strained and the famous end bark sounded ridiculous. 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. they raised their voices to bright delight: right and left I was saluted con amore! Fortunately I knew of an old ruined fortress nearby. Now came a grim interlude: the return of the victorious German troops from Greece. every single one sighted a camera. In three days something like 60.000 men passed through in fast motor transport whose efficiency. Cameras are "requisitioned" without payment. One morning I descended midway onto this path from above. For the Nazi soldiers themselves were not impressive. of course. This. And their peaceful occupation was being made joyous with song. and I fled to its far recesses-chuckling to myself. our men are better!" So it has proved. The eternal German tourist came out in them too. solidity. I wonder how many of those victorious films will be treasured in the bitterly humbled years to come! .Italian love songs in charming harmony. In every car. 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. and man for man. There it will be man to man. must be just a stage play and soon we would come to the happy ending! In contrast. In spite of their victorious. moving or lounging round their bivouac fires in the terraced groves of gnarled. Far from being perturbed by my sudden appearance. To my horror I saw the path both ways lined with squatting figures in dishabille. their smartly cocked hunters' caps. I stood watching on the road just where the beautiful Gruzh harbor came into view.I cannot resist telling the funniest of all. while other eager ones were coming down behind me. dwarfed by their dependence on their machines. they can't pierce our pathless forests. each with perky feather. or Il Barbiere. in spite of their pink northern cheeks. in spite of their big frames (compared with the Italians but not compared with our own men).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

had always been a subject people. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. .Croatian territory. the Persian Gulf. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dalmatia and Slovenia. From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state.000 Albanians. . Therefore. taken from Austria. 300.000 6. was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. . would work out smoothly. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. fighting only on the side of their overlords. the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 3. . . while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. agitating always for their own advantage. -. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. . In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. and Slovenes into an independent state. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs .500. on the other hand. taken from Hungary. the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt.000 Rumanians.000 Jews.500. . . In contrast to the Croats. . They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks. Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. . In 1879 she occupied Bosnia. Then. 3. 500.1. deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century. . 500.000." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds. the Serbs. Croatia and Voivodina. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1. as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. Croats. and-World War I started. an incident which almost provoked a world war. who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. and Bosnia and Herzegovina. have been relatively unaffected by German culture.000 Croats .000 Hungarians.250.000. . . dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately. Croats. 500. and India. 75. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. . .000 Slovenes . the Croats became experts at intrigue. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. . aided by the Dalmatian Croats. Says Leon Dominian.000 #Mixed Elements . . viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. also asked for a national state. . In fact. to consist of Serbs.000 Germans. of course. 1914. hastily put together in 1918. 8.000. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were tied to trucks and dragged behind them.. Their children were thrown into fire. together with their skin. since then. Crowbars smashed their heads. "Countless women.A. The beards and mustaches of priests. then literally bombed to pieces. 1943: "These atrocities do not amount to killings alone.DOCUMENT 1 GRIZOGONO LETTER Source: Letter written by Privislav Grizogono. About 3. Published in translation by the American Srbobran. there is a proverb in Germany: 'God save us from cholera. their flesh was salted. in Bosnia. Many of these bodies bore tags: 'Direction-Belgrade. to King Peter. They are so terrible they have shocked even the Germans and Italians. and children were raped. Thousands of Serbian bodies floated down the Sava.S. Rapes were committed even before the altars of the Orthodox Church. this was the hot blood of their murdered brothers that other Serbs were forced to drink. and female children were ushered off to Ustashi garrisons to be used as prostitutes. February 8.5 kilograms of Serbian eyes. Utensils full of Serbian blood were also discovered. addressed to Dr. Then. a Croat and a Roman Catholic. girls. They aim at extermination of everything Serbian: women.. burned to death in their homes and churches. 1942. Literally they were roasted alive. Aloisius Stepinac. Croatia. These innocent Serbs were stuck on poles alive. ears amputated. and the massacre of Serbians before the altar at Kladusha with sledge hammers is something never mentioned in history.' Even the Germans from Srem [Syrmia] hate us and act more or less humanely toward the Serbs. U. 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. "There are detailed and official minutes (reports) about these unheard-of crimes. noses and tongues lobbed off. their heads crushed against walls and their spines dashed against rocks. "They were thrown into the deep cisterns and caves. and Danube rivers and their tributaries. hunger. These and many other methods of torture were employed against the Serbs-tortures which normal people cannot conceive. "The case of Milenka Bozinich from Stapandza is a particularly gruesome one: they dug her unborn child out of her with a knife. February 24. and aged men. a huge pile of roasted heads was found. were ripped off rudely by knives.. and one Croat decorated with a wreath of Serbian eyes came to Dubrovnik with two wreaths of Serbian tongues. a Serbian paper of Pittsburgh. mothers before daughters and daughters before mothers. Minister to Czechoslovakia. "Though we Croatians shall never be able to erase this shamefulness which we brought upon ourselves with these crimes. Drava. . Boiling water was poured on live victims before mutilation. children. Many pictures were taken of these massacres and torture orgies.. with a woman's head (presumably the mother of the children) labeled: "Meat for John's Market-Belgrade" (meaning meat for the Serbian market).. and the Goats. girls. Pa. The Italians have photographed a vessel holding 31. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb. The arms and legs of the victims were broken and their heads were spiked. while many women.000 Serbs were murdered in the Serbian Orthodox Church at Glina. and fed to the fired lime furnaces. scalding water.' In one boat on the Sava there was a pile of children's heads. Minister to Poland. member of the Yugoslav Diplomatic Corps. The Germans claim the Croats did these same things during the Thirty-Year War and that. Eyes were dug out of live victims. and in terribly wild tortures of the victims. Other children were parted by their legs.

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

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

They were stood up in two ranks on the bank... Every time we were so bespattered with blood that our uniforms could not be cleaned. Dobric Josip and Cvitkovic Mihailo. Usually they were thrown into the river Glina. These notes have been read out to me. We therefore changed them in the magazine and washed them later.. later. 1941. and I took part in them three times. Sometimes they were buried.' 'Long live the Serbs.' etc.' 'Down with Pavelich. Some we struck in the heart and some in the neck. At the beginning we arrested only the men. and all my statements have been correctly written down. and I left on the same day to report to my command in Susak in accordance with my mobilization orders. "On the day of the bombing I was in Belgrade. but he was butchered immediately. These killings in the church took place seveneight times. I do not know exactly how many Serbs were killed.. tied arm to arm with ropes. but I think it must have been the 17th or 18th of April 1941.000 men. Usually three to four hundred persons were machine-gunned at a time. There was always much noise during the killing. I was employed as office servant by the Centralno Transportno Drustvo of Kolarceva. They were then sent into the church with knives.' 'Down with the Ustashis.. and some Ustashi officers. "When we entered the church the officers remained at the door and watched while we did the killing. and they were then put to death. At first I made my livelihood by selling various trifles on the street. We collected them from the villages and shut them in the Court gaol... I arrived home in Bosanski Novi about the 24th of April... Each time we were accompanied by some officers. sentries were placed before the church... During the killings there were no lights in the church. During the butchering. "I have nothing more to add..' 'Down with the Croatian State. except that some soldiers were specially appointed to light our way with electric torches. There they remained several days. and then shot with machine guns which were placed a few yards away. The Serbs used to shout 'Long live Serbia.. but I have heard it said that about 120 thousand Serbs from the above mentioned districts have been killed.. and the cries were continued until the last Serb was killed.. All these were killed by the sentries in the porch. Then I received an order from the military command in Petrinja to report there.. When the searching was over. I was three times chosen to do the killing.. . Some we struck haphazard. 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. after the corpses were taken away in motor trucks. Then the company officer chose about fifteen men to do the killing. "Some Orthodox Serbs were taken from the gaol to the river Glina and machine-gunned.. "On our arrival in Glina we searched the houses of that town and then went to the neighboring villages. until the gaols were filled.. The company commander on that date called all the soldiers together and informed us that the war was over and everyone should proceed home.. which could contain 1. The corpses of these persons were thrown into the Glina.. "The killing usually began at about ten o'clock in the evening and lasted until two o'clock in the morning. The machine-gunning was done by the Ustashis while we stood guard around.. The killing was done in several ways. Some were locked up in the Orthodox Church in Glina. Belgrade.."I came to Belgrade in 1938 and lived there until the war. This was necessary because some of the Orthodox Serbs climbed up the bell tower and jumped into the porch. It happened on several occasions that some Serb rushed us with his fists or kicked us in the stomach. The church was washed after every killing. 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.. 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. I cannot remember the date. "My company's task was to round up the Serbs in Glina and in the Glina district.

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

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

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

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

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

The Field That Groaned 49. Leka Saves Her Man 55. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour . The Minuet of Death 51. “This Is German Culture” 54. Prison Bernhardt 56. Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. The Informer 53. A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58.48. Pride and Shame 52. My Sister Zora 59. Epilogue 61. Uncle Luke 50. Rose 57.

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