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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and we would both grow exceedingly rich. It had always been suspected that the Rumanian oil fields might have a continuation in Albania: I had probably discovered it. I took him over a map as he detailed the terms of concessions in the different parts.) After we had reached a far-distant part. 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. Now the Italians had carefully surveyed the country and had so tied it up with concessions that they thought it impossible that anyone could find anything they didn't know about. Slowly. And so. He would find the right way to handle the business (of course. When I should receive a card saying: "Kind regards to all. since he said his letters were opened and read. a thick ooze of oil. with a poker face. In a fortnight came the message: "Kind regards to all." I would know that he had fixed everything and I was to come at once to Tirana. and then notified the British minister (the British held oil concessions in Albania) that I would like an engineer to consult with me on what could be done about it. I then very cautiously got in touch with a member of the Albanian Cabinet in Tirana who had expressed warm feelings for me." he said. My "friend" had been unable to resist selling me out. of course. The famous Italian charm was therefore turned on full blast. I had. the oil concession of my find is not covered by your claims. He passed my section with the curt information: "Only mineral rights here. His excitement was intense. exuding from narrow strata of rock. His reply was simple and neat: the British oil wells had proved unsatisfactory and had been closed down. This alone shows the state of the country. been much too cautious to give my would-be partner any inkling of the position of my find.The Serbs Chose War. "We must at all costs circumvent the Italians. the concessions remained mostly unused. But as they had little capital with which to exploit natural resources. And there. so that my movements could be traced only with the greatest difficulty. I waited for two months. I found. We arranged a code. I said: "All right." . and so nothing could be done about it. where there had been a recent landslide. the expert who was to find means of preventing the Italians from seizing my find was-the Italian government engineer in charge of all Italian mining interests in the country. The 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." (Mineral rights do not include oil. on a fiftyfifty basis). Once I left the path to eat my lunch in the wilderness." I hurried to Tirana and to the consultation with the expert he was to have waiting for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we were given the strange and beautiful experience of passing silently. and mechanics. the train started up with a terrific jar. This was Illyria. Could I get one) I reached the door. a delicate young moon. 52 colonels. unreal silhouettes of darkened villages. down the famous Neretva Valley. Firing and yells died away behind us. curved now near. And each time. The detailed figures. the behavior of our two foreigneducated. . also I. their breath stopped with fear. lying on top of me. This time there was very heavy close firing along the whole train. while the two girls sat immovable as little mushrooms. his feet under the other. include II generals. who had sworn to protect their king and country. Tumbling. struggled to pull the window down.A total of I. its rapids dancing as they caught the slowly rising glow of the moonlight. 4 admirals. 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. Then the train gradually slowed down to its old pace. from our course. remained quite stolid.000 Yugoslav prisoners of war taken into Germany. totally uninhabited. Soft. It seemed as untouched by man as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains were before the trappers came. Of the 14. When I awoke it was bright day and we were amidst wild and savage scenery. A few minutes more of wondering if we should cross a mine and fly into the air. Two soldiers ran into our compartment and. The third man.000 Serb officers who. Crashing of glass and deafening explosions followed as our men fired from the corridor.342 non-commissioned officers. Three times in two hours our train was attacked by the traitors in the same way and with the same result. Their faces blanched. only 800 accepted. and just as I stepped heavily on our human earthworm. if they agreed to submit to Germany. like overripe stalks of wheat crushed by a storm. for they only had to announce that they were Croats to be released at once. a simple fellow. Away it tore through the night. but the fourth had disappeared. denatured Montenegrins was a sight to see. of mosques and graceful minarets. 73 lieutenant colonels. were offered their freedom to return home to their families. of gnarled old fig trees. throwing us all across the compartment. soaring mountains were reflected in the wide lakes into which the Neretva spreads before it rushes out into the Adriatic. They fell down flat. less than 2 per cent were Croats. This time I might get into action-there would be wounded men unable to use their rifles. 68 captains. Far in the background towered a long shoulder of snow-capped mountains. and to them honor. now far. were printed for a moment black against a sky thick-sown with glorious southern stars. and 72 naval captains and officers. I dozed to wake with a violent start as the train stopped with a crash. as given by the official gazette of the Independent State of Croatia. in an unlit train. I settled back and fell into a heavy sleep. The foaming river. 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. He was discovered lying across the door of the compartment. where he apparently had lain all the time in the dirt! Between the attacks. calm above man's fury. a thick shower of sparks flying past the window. And over all there sailed. proved traitors to their oath and went over to the enemy. Of the 224.679 officers representing 95 per cent of the Croat officers in the Yugoslav Army. aviation specialists. his head under one seat. and most of them have been retaken and killed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will positively not be taken. remember-it was the politicians. "not all of us are fools or-knaves. I will never forget this." 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." he said almost with entreaty." and he muttered a fearful curse. "Not all of us." He turned to me a face of the most bitter and hopeless despair-a face that might now be called the face of all that was decent in Croatia. Remember. .

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

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

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

as I write (May 1943) the American and British governments still use the word officially is merely. He is very young. "this room." and with the usual Italian gallantry: "Perhaps you would be kind enough to take the room next door. On it was written a dedication in very flattering terms calling me "the best and most valued friend Serbia possessed. they do not blame him for his helplessness. laid the pass on a table beside me.He bowed. the founder of Yugoslavia. to save themselves the work of dealing with a problem which will solve itself." "Indeed?" "Yes. The thought that." I bowed noncommittally. I managed to slip the picture in. He was looking round my pretty room. If he should take the pass to look at. bowed low and departed. one of the highest officers of the Italian Occupation was and is now sleeping every night. I had surmounted my first hazard. fat American eagle. slightly embarrassed. Pechanats. these mementos would await me at the end of the war. as it was completely blank. They want him back. How to do it? I had considered numberless ways and at last hit upon the perfect place. "This room. and the floor of my closet. a branch of the same South Slav stock." he said. when they see themselves again on the losing side and their frightful crimes coming home to them. They know him to be in the hands of old and inept Serbian and intriguing Goat advisers. The myth of a brotherhood based on blood was exploded-irrevocably as regards the Serbs. had a crack at the bottom. to strike a match. I'm afraid you will have to move. at heart a true Chetnik. grandfather of the present King Peter II. unless the hotel burned or the walls were torn down.I regret to say this room has been requisitioned. I talked on gaily. which will soon. "Perhaps by four o'clock?" He made a few agreeable remarks. "Where could one find a place more beautiful to pass this terrible time of war. his suspicion would be aroused at once. had ever had any connection with their fellow South Slavs. can be confidently expected to try to revive it. and. has given me unending pleasure. followed by my Chetnik skull-and-crossbones badge and the cap insignia. 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." I was anxious not to destroy this but meant to save it somehow for a future time. . be over!" He saw my nice. as if the matter were now settled. together with other inscriptions and memorials of a Yugoslavia vanished now into the past. The Croats. I'm afraid. I watched it being torn down. is considered his finest work. I was content that. took up the pass and slipped it back into my pocket. the Serbs. and quite properly. The Fighting Serbs will positively have none of it. I am sure. with his nose almost directly over that evidence. Now began in Dubrovnik the wholesale removal and destruction by the inhabitants of any signs that they. Quickly I picked up a cigarette to offer him and. throughout the later frantic effort to find a single positive piece of evidence of my Chetnik connection. Yugoslavia has gone. Busily I talked on. built into the wall. I drew my American pass from my pocket and held it in my hand. and the fact that now. The Serbs love their Karageorgivich king as loyally as ever. The beautiful bas-relief by Mestrovich of King Peter I. Balkan carpentry is not very precise.

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. The Croats believed the Germans would win. one million Serbian graves will cast their ballots too.But nothing is more certain than that any official who has compromised with the Croats can consider his career closed. . Let those cunning butchers take this word of warning: when that day of voting comes. But should the impossible occur and the hated democracies after all prevail and pursue their "stupid" policy of allowing the peoples to decide their own destiny.

the American consul general. there was a sharp dispute between the two loving allies." the Axis. Then the Germans moved out and the Italians-for centuries the hereditary hated foe of Dalmatia-the despised little Eyetees were allowed by the Big Boss to remain. He was determined that she and I should flee with him. HITLER-down. He spent his time gathering herbs and making weird ointments and hellish brews. They had hoped and expected to see the Germans march in. alas. then immediately after the Italians. He had a small auxiliary yawl lying in Gruzh harbor. During her long illness news of the World War had been kept from her. He told me he would have renewed my American passport there and then. Apparently this got him oil and other favors. Dubrovnik became Ragusa. The Italians were noticeably embarrassed but imperturbably good-natured and patient as they watched the noisy demonstrations of the populace yelling: "UP. whose stern rejection of his impassioned advances gave us much merriment. died peacefully at this time. With these he hoped to bewitch us. especially Laura McCullaugh. it turned out differently.) In the charming old central place of the crowded town. Ruth Mitchell 32. widow of an Oxford don and for decades one of the landmarks of Dubrovnik. and her famous English library was sealed up. The hand embroidery was fine and the likeness almost mansized." which had been proclaimed amidst general rejoicing on April 10. a hollow square of Alpini buglers blew a fanfare and hoisted a scarlet fish-tail banner with Patron Saint Blasius embroidered in the center. I examined it. They tried various expedients to flatter the people. But. He succeeded in paying for the dinner of one of the highest passing officers. if not first. Oonah Ball. 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. SHOPPING FOR GUN EMPLACEMENTS THE JOY OF THE INHABITANTS of Dubrovnik at the arrival of their dear "saviors. and take over the protection of the newly created "Independent State of Croatia. I should also mention the bizarre and faintly sinister American who called himself Captain Kahn. UP. and she passed away knowing nothing about it. as if I might take her place in his heart. Mussolini!" (groans). which in its great days had been second only to the Republic of Venice. By expert maneuvering they quietly arrested the worst shouters but quickly released them again. Macatee. The Germans came in. and intense was the disappointment of its people. At her steady refusal to listen I detected a speculative gleam in his eye. Old Mrs. heirs of the proud tradition of the once rich and powerful Republic of Ragusa. which he kept in an appalling mess.The Serbs Chose War. down. quickly waned. and he promised to remove enough herbs from the furniture for us at least to sit down. it is true. In between these pursuits he spent his time cultivating the Germans. but all his seals had been lost in the bombardment. He was violently proGerman and had little swastika flags stuck all over his boat. and for a day or two we breathlessly awaited the decision. and members of his staff with their families passed through on that day on their way back to their posts at Belgrade. One morning . 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 offers to carry the parcels of every woman he sees. "non capisco!" I was always just an American stranger. preferring to leave it in a safe place and to work on it in the evening. if alone. Who should blame them? I confess I myself often felt a pig at what I was doing. surly German airmen to recall me to caution. was fair game. salutes you with smiling eagerness. with its scattered rocky islets and its broken mountainous shore line. so that I should have a good excuse for coming into town by different roads and paths. hops out of the road for your comfort. So that after a time the people began to melt. perhaps to the wars in the service of his dear Nazis. . I found a small hotel on the extreme edge of a well-wooded peninsula near the harbor of Gruzh. Yet I knew well that if I made the slightest slip all their good nature would vanish. and a large straw hat gave me the bona-fide look of a good housekeeper intent on economy. A too abrupt repulse turned these tough soldiers. I got by. old or young. If so I wish them joy of him. their amorousness. though possibly useful in some obscure way. though I certainly didn't let it stop me. and I was in a quandary more than once. I was lucky enough to get a room that hung almost over the sea. The remarkable thing was that it wasn't just a victorious or artificial grin. It was now my business to get certain information. My windows gave me an exquisite view across the calm Adriatic. he was certainly quite mad. of course. I decided it would be best to move to some place outside the town. It seemed like stealing money from a blind beggar. I seldom carried it with me. Of course. complete with boat. which are very useful. The thing one had to fear from these brown fellows was not their suspicion but. always just "taking a short cut and anxious to get back on the main road. whom you have invited to come in. Anything in a skirt. There were very disagreeable as well as funny and even delightful incidents. A market basket. just off a long campaign. within two miles of Dubrovnik. but not always pleasantly." There had once been plenty of these." as I followed the rocky paths. most well-bred and sheltered girls of the Dubrovnik aristocracy were discreetly accompanied by faultless Italian cavaliers. and being altogether too friendly. the prettiest. I could "not understand one word of Italian". not even exactly the same as required for a commando raid. For obvious reasons I cannot particularize here. alas. I had to get it. It only needed a sight of the occasional groups of wooden. as if they just liked smiling. since all housewives here and in Italy go to open market. laughing and singing. especially. The inhabitants remained hostile.he was gone. For. however. It was not the same information as that required by an invading army. They just couldn't help it. But the Italians just went on smiling. but especially old. You can't stay angry when your despised conqueror. contemptuous. either "shopping" or "seeking secluded beaches to bathe. They permit one to face one way and look another without one's eyes being visible. now in that. I used for the purpose a large-scale map of the town and neighborhood on fairly thin paper. The experiment of the Republic didn't work as well as had been hoped. They smiled as if they meant it. The little Italians seemed so guileless and good-natured. It was strictly for guerrilla work. I had little time to look at it. as I was ceaselessly strolling now in this direction. Before many days had passed. The sun was now bright enough to justify sun glasses. very nasty. When I envisaged this business I had not expected that the affection of my enemy would be my greatest danger. But so it was. and the difficulty of steering a middle course was very tiring. Now they were all filled with lively little Italian soldiers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

38. A THREE DOLLAR BED

HUNDRED

THOUSAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

their backs to the machine guns. She could endure her own suffering quietly. 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. They were mostly very young boys or quite old men. the brave German soldiers mowed them down. 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. the brave German officers giving the order. every leading man. Hitler himself was a man of the people. THE FIELD THAT GROANED WHO that lived through it could ever forget those terrible forty-eight hours when. Nothing was too contemptible. women. or too mean for the Germans by way of demonstrating their "master superiority. from that day sneered no more. every lawyer. so that they fell forward into the trenches. boys and girls." We had in the prison for a few days a stern old Scotch spinster. not one man in our army. since all the strong men were away in the mountains to fight. who told me-and I know he spoke the truth-that as he passed by a German execution field near Belgrade. Their hatred of the Serbs became a veritable passion-an obsession." I say that if such an order could have been given to our soldiers. And drove their tanks over the shallow graves. People will come after the war whining that "the German soldiers. pounding them. The Germans stood them up facing the trenches. too petty. They seized all law courts and all schools. his soul frozen in a horror that would never wholly melt. only had to obey their orders. The Chetniks. or air force. not one.The Serbs Chose War. The Germans made these men. had dug up their buried guns again and had risen. on June 28. he had heard that field groaning. They took the upper classes of every school of whatever grade. small farmers. Miss Jane Allison. poor things. And the Germans. who had sneered at the Serbs as overrated slaves. almost three quarters of Serbia was free once more. They took every judge. the Chetniks had risen. their faces to the wall. And so. after a period of deceptive humility. I say that every German in Germany is guilty of every atrocity. men and women. and little children dig trenches. could have been found to carry it out. navy. chained in long rows in the corridors. She was released and then rearrested and taken to internment. Ruth Mitchell 48. Then the German officers went along the corridors with loaded clubs. Any man who had made a move to obey such an order would have been killed on the spot by his fellow soldiers. Dead and half-dead alike: you don't believe it? Let me tell you that I myself spoke to a man. too brutal. but the thing that made her really ill with fury was the German treatment of the Serb peasants. She had for years run a small kindergarten in Belgrade. the heavy German tanks rumbled through Belgrade. as Vaso had predicted. who afterwards in internment was my dear friend. produced by the people. and thrown off the conquerors. It was a national ideal and national wholehearted support that produced this German fiendishness. with the full . Then. None of the other overrun countries had succeeded in doing a thing like that. These boys and aged men were drawn up. every school teacher. shaking even the three-foot-thick walls of our prison ? They were bound southwards to where.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Serbs. of course. viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. . and India.000 Croats . 300.000. Croats. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. . would work out smoothly. . 500.000 #Mixed Elements . The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs . 3. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs.000 Slovenes .Croatian territory. and Bosnia and Herzegovina. as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. have been relatively unaffected by German culture. and Slovenes into an independent state. deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. hastily put together in 1918. 500. Dalmatia and Slovenia. had always been a subject people. In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. 3. . to consist of Serbs. .000 6.000 Albanians. a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century. Croats. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream. A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans. also asked for a national state. . was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. taken from Austria.250. . . Croatia and Voivodina.500.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium.000. the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats.000 Rumanians. . . . agitating always for their own advantage.500. 8. -. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. Says Leon Dominian. . Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. . They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization.000 Hungarians. Then. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately.000 Germans. From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs. . and-World War I started. while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. . the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. Therefore.000. an incident which almost provoked a world war. aided by the Dalmatian Croats. the Croats became experts at intrigue.1. . . 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. 75. who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. on the other hand. In contrast to the Croats. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia.000 *Mixed elements include approximately: 1. . taken from Hungary. In fact. 1914.000 Jews. Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. 500. the Persian Gulf. fighting only on the side of their overlords.

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

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. stung beyond bearing. the nexus of retired businessmen and officials who had used Vienna as a center moved on to Zagreb. by which-without protest. Between 1918 and 1940 the population of Zagreb increased from 80. and the Croat Frankist Party. as part of the new kingdom.paid Serbia a penny in reparations. They wanted all the taxes collected in Croatia to be spent on Croatia. In 1928 a Montenegrin deputy killed two Croatian deputies during a session of Parliament. 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. was advocating the necessity of developing a backward section of the kingdom. which had been destroyed. Because Vienna had lost much of its former charm and Gemutichkeit when World War I ended. drew a gun and shot him. a hardy mountaineer. A Yugoslav constitutional assembly was held in 1920 and a Parliament was established. Croatia. mostly from Vienna and Budapest. The Croats were. But Croatia. could not tamely submit to attacks upon his honor. deputies being elected from the old historic provinces out of which the kingdom had been composed. therefore.000. Stepan Radich. by far the richest agricultural area in the kingdom. to which about 80 per cent of the Croats belonged. these provinces were divided into nine administrative districts named after the rivers of Yugoslavia. This meant that during the early years of the kingdom the representation of Croats in Parliament was small. They refused to subscribe to state loans and opposed the construction of railroads in any part of the kingdom except Croatia itself. while a poor province agriculturally compared with Voivodina or Serbia. Pernar appearing reluctant. There was. paid almost 50 per cent of the country's taxes. especially in the area centering around the city of Zagreb. which had only 3. a member of the Croat Peasant Party. in a violent diatribe threw doubt upon the honesty of his intentions. shared in the reparations which Germany paid to Serbia. Rachich. But Croatia. A uniform tax law for the new state was worked out in 1926.000 to 350. Their goal was complete independence for the Goats. secondly. While the deputy. and demanded that Pernar retract his insults. Punisha Rachich.000 people.000. able to elect deputies from districts where they constituted the majority of the population. There were twelve political parties in the kingdom. in World War I. Croats. In 1930. which became known as the Little Vienna of Europe. was suddenly available in abundance. and Slovenes. in an attempt to promote national unity and to forget old rivalries. the Croat Clerical Party. was obviously too small to achieve or hold political independence without selling out to one of the great European powers. Matters were made much worse by the fact that while Pernar was only lightly . the question of taxes. 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. Rachich. On the contrary. This was unfortunate and made the task of the new state much more difficult than it might otherwise have been. partly by Croats themselves. At this the Croatians balked. three of them purely Croatian: the Croat Peasant Party. Ivan Pernar.Voivodina. at first refused to participate in the Yugoslav Parliament. was rich in industries. leader of the Croat Peasant Party. They also did their best to prevent the reconstruction of highways and railroads outside of Croatia. Foreign capital.

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

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

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

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

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

president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.970. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. On June 22 he issued an order stating that anyone using force against citizens of the country would be severely punished. They continued intermittently until November 1942. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar. the Home Defense. Bogdan Vivodvic. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres. it will be seen that there were 1. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina.000 930.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks. Sarajevo. 1941. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr. and published in newspapers. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. was broadcast on the radio. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government. Livno. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots. the Ustashi. Trebinye. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement. The 420. Travnik. What happened can best be told by eyewitnesses: . Livno.000 The 930.000 420. Dubrovnik. and the regular army. Dr. who was seventy-five years old. They went over.000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs. This notice. Dushan Jeftanovic.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. The 620. the patriot. 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. That is. Mostar. by which time practically all the I. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. read in churches.250. so that. mass arrests were made in Zagreb. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb. with almost no resignations. Banja-Luka. Vojislav Besarovic. designed to put the Serbs off their guard. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. Dr. and other towns. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians.550.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century. Ante Pavelich. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914. three fourths of the population was Serbian. 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.000 620.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This Is German Culture” 54. My Sister Zora 59. The Minuet of Death 51.48. Pride and Shame 52. Rose 57. Uncle Luke 50. The Informer 53. Epilogue 61. Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. Leka Saves Her Man 55. Prison Bernhardt 56. The Field That Groaned 49. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour .

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