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The Serbs Chose War - Ruth Mitchell

The Serbs Chose War - Ruth Mitchell

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  • 13. "WELL AND WHY NOT?"
  • 36. PRISON
  • 43. TRUDI
  • 44. IS IT THE END?
  • 46. HAHN
  • 49. UNCLE LUKE
  • 56. ROSE

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell

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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the money in his pocket (it was paper of course. We're here to see The lady's not Put on the spot. This in no way placated the Albanians. was tempted to drink and. They then sent messengers to all the surrounding tribes. Near his village his whole tribe. Count Ciano. and the Italian flag was run up only to the same height as the Albanian. He was to be accompanied by a batch of foreign journalists to see for themselves the "delight" of the conquered. Ten days after the occupation was completed. therefore. They took their oath so seriously that even when I was dressing I had to hold up my hand behind a screen so that they could see me! What fun we had! Strange how in the midst of such terrible grief we could still laugh. which to those bitterly poor people represented many months of easier living. And the Italians gently filtered into the town. considered indispensable to have one genuine Albanian mountain chieftain present who might be regarded as representing his joyful tribe. the Albanians saw that to defend Scutari would be merely to sacrifice good men senselessly. They took the money. A group of officers took over the Prefecture. When in a completely fuddled state. For." I watched the entrance of the Italians. having given his Albanian word.They watched me from then on like hawks. He agreed. in spite of every conceivable lure and bribe. I was literally not a second out of their sight. They hated the Italians. It was. being a Mohammedan unused to alcohol. apologizing for having had such a contemptible traitor for their chief and announcing what they had done about it. was easily reduced to a state of confusion. alas. but even more bitterly they now hated the Great Powers who had deserted them in their hour of need. Next morning. and made a bonfire and burned it. We even made a little song something to this effect: "We brothers three. When the South had been overrun. was to pinch-hit for a cautious Mussolini and make his triumphal entry into Tirana. he was offered the to him enormous sum of fifty napoleons (about $200) simply to stand somewhere next day holding an Italian flag-nothing more. the Italians having instantly drained the country of all gold. the sad figure in genuine Malissori dress stood holding the drooping flag at the reception of Ciano and was photographed from all angles. Then the prefect of Scutari went to meet the invaders and capitulate. It took him four days of walking to get there. the usual currency) he set out for home. including his own family. The henchmen refused to drink. it had been found impossible to get even one responsible mountain chief to offer his allegiance. the capital. He was unsuspiciously got hold of. The mountaineers were persuaded to slip away home-to fight again when the time was ripe. His tribesmen had disappeared. Promptly the surrounding heights burst out into a rash of little soldiers and big guns. He had a few tribesmen with him. There happened at that moment to be one of the smallest and least important of these chieftains in Tirana on family business. Without a word they shot him dead. came out to meet him. . the beautiful and loyal "best friend" of the now ex-King Zog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serbs Chose War. and they were disgusted. in this hour of fateful choice for their beloved homeland. After the last war a mild prosperity had resulted from the sudden exploitation of Serbia's rich resources. It was unnecessary. mostly in Paris and Vienna. fed by the strong roots of Serbian tradition. If there were nothing else in the record. but also the much more terrible record of German mass murders in Poland and Czechoslovakia." Little did these men grasp what it really meant. They despised their un-Serbian fathers. this behavior of her children alone would be a sufficient star-sign of the destiny of Serbia. I say. Men sent their sons abroad to study. more hopeful for the future. had risen to the top in government. Suddenly there was a great trampling of feet and shouting in the street below. the children did not march. "WE ARE SERBIAN CHILDREN" ON MARCH 23 I gave a poetry reading in a local club. the Serbian children shall come first. Their Serbian self-confidence and ideals sometimes weakened. marched the streets of Belgrade. their genius flowers best in hardship. Outside of Belgrade. Because they stood most bravely for their national principle the Serbian children have been most murdered." But their children still were sharp-eyed Serbs. It was the voice of Serbia authentic old spirit of Serbia-breaking its slowly tightening chains. The children. This gave them a fierce." 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. through their foreign training. pitiful maturity. Ruth Mitchell 18. and my countrymen surely will say with me. they had been unduly impressed with the wealth and success of other countries. "Bolje rat nego pact. They knew well not only their own history of massacres under Ottoman rule. resulting in a complete and shocking decay of every moral fiber: they became denatured Serbs. not excepting the Poles or even the Jews. in the provinces. that as the children of Serbia were the first and only children in Europe to rise and fearlessly to face the German horror. We ran out onto the balcony to watch one of the many demonstration marches of the Belgrade school children. in all recent European history? In no other country in Europe did the rising generation take the lead and repudiate the compromising weakness of its elders. The Serbs are a hardy race. They were the "ascendancy class. to become "cosmopolitan." Is there anything more inspiring. most pitilessly butchered of all in Europe. There the children and their parents were heart and soul together: the flawed national product had tended to gravitate to Belgrade." Coming from a comparatively backward land. Don't think they didn't know what they were doing. Some of these men. not as children but as Serbs. I say that after this war nothing in Europe will be more worth doing than to save and build up again the pitiful remnants that will be left of Serbian youth. They saw well and clearly. as standard-bearers of the old Serbian passion for "liberty at any cost whatever. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was grandeur in the great city's loneliness. The two small rooms and the chicken-filled garden were crowded with friends. a handsome black animal. I walked up and down. and walked on. even so. Now their murdered capital flamed. He was still dizzy and a little vague from the shock of his dashing failure. mostly Russian women and children. surrounded me and begged me not to do it: it was an officer's horse. chickens killed. I was full to the brim and running over with fury. he did the honors of his home in the royal manner. skimming away and back again. My almost uncontrollable instinct was to jump on its back and ride away south to the mountains. My friends. . As night came down the sight was weird and terrible. and a few old men. alone in the darkness and silence-dark but for the glare from the burning capital. We were without lights. it seemed to me that they had burst up from the infernal regions of ancient myth. a dying signal to the libertyloving peoples of the earth. in the endless days and nights of prison. The great city along the Danube seemed to be one blazing bonfire. I used to think of how differently things might have turned out if I had obeyed my instinct. Sullenly the heavy clouds of smoke rolled upwards. Soon we reached Michael's village and his tiny cottage. Great tongues of flame would burst up suddenly. he too had his duties to perform. Perhaps I might now be with General Mihailovich and my Chetniks. ran from a side street and stopped right in front of me. Often later.Now a curious thing happened. I swore to myself that while there was breath in my body I would fight to save what those monsters of cruelty would leave of a people whose dream they could never understand. And here my dear old Michael. but the house was on a little hillside with a free view over Belgrade. A stray horse. grandeur in the unchecked flaming of its heart. And still with demonic diligence and glee they rained destruction on destruction upon the pitifully supine city. As darkness began to fall. those messengers from hell. and slowly sink away. But none could raise a hand to help. 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. instantly guessing my thought. beautifully saddled and bridled. Germany had lit the great beacon of her "civilizing mission" in the Balkans. evidently much loved. was king. fourteen of us disposed ourselves on the two beds and on the floor. billowing. Through and above the clouds of fire they darted unceasingly. grandeur even in its utter helplessness. up and down the little bricked path of the garden. Everything was put at our disposal: carefully hoarded provisions were brought out. twisting away into the sky. bitterly disappointed. writhing. etc. The Serbs had dared to dream of liberty. probably more immediately important than mine. swooping and diving. And sure enough a soldier was already madly tearing down the street after the animal. silent but for the sound of bursting bombs. I turned my back. And Belgrade was burning. We passed through a village almost entirely inhabited by Gypsies. I had no right to steal his mount. and here the noisy panic was in striking contrast to the silent grimness of the steadily tramping Serbs. glare fiercely for a while. Watching the winged fiends of this holocaust.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serbs Chose War, Ruth Mitchell




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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. He did it well. I told him he had to make it sound convincing. And she. fiery lover now molders under a brown blanket which all Trudi's love can never shake. . the little beauty-she was transported to Germany. .to what infamous fate . But the information proved only too true. . and our lovely little Trudi was all tremulous relief and hope and smiles again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the intention was to secure control of the land routes to Egypt. 500. In 1879 she occupied Bosnia. was the preliminary step toward opening a pathway for Germany and Austria to Salonica and Constantinople. They are the heirs of a Byzantine civilization.000 Germans. to consist of Serbs. Says Leon Dominian. and-World War I started. taken from Hungary. have been relatively unaffected by German culture.500. on the other hand. . . . Yugoslavia was patched together out of Serbia and Montenegro. deliberately fostered by Austro-Hungary for her own ends.500. In the nineteenth century the independence and demonstrated military ability of the Serbs was. 8. dissension between the Croats and the Serbs began almost immediately. . A union of all the South Slavs had long been a dream in the Balkans. . who retired to the mountains and became the ancestors of the Chetniks who are now battling dauntlessly under Mihailovich. . while the Serbs became adepts with the sword. Croats.000 Mohammedan Serbs and Turks.000 Jews. 500. . and Slovenes into an independent state. . 3. 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. taken from the AustroHungarian condominium. would work out smoothly. In 1389 the Serbs were conquered by the Turks and after many struggles regained their freedom in 1814 The Croats. 300. Therefore.000. and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These Germanic immigrants displaced Serbs. . had always been a subject people. Croatia and Voivodina. Dalmatia and Slovenia. . 75.1. taken from Austria. In 1917 a Yugoslav Committee was formed in London and. . .000 Albanians.000 Hungarians. 3. the geographer: "The presentation of an ultimatum to Serbia by Austria on July I. and in 1908 she annexed both the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria decided in 1914 to attack the Serbs.000 Rumanians. Croats. and India. and the idealistic Serbs shared this dream. a Serbian province lying west of Serbia proper. . Not feeling herself safe even after the acquisition of all these territories in her empire. the Persian Gulf. aided by the Dalmatian Croats. of course. hastily put together in 1918. In November 1914 the Serbian Parliament had passed a declaration asking for the unity of all Serbs. . In contrast to the Croats. the Serbs. In fact.000 Croats . . The new state was composed as follows: Population of Yugoslavia in 1940 Serbs . From 1166 to 1389 Serbia was an independent state. as soon as Austro-German power should be solidly established athwart the Bosphorus. fighting only on the side of their overlords. never a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 500. . an incident which almost provoked a world war. -. the Croats became experts at intrigue. also asked for a national state. viewed with disfavor and anxiety by Austro-Hungary. .000 #Mixed Elements .000 *Mixed elements include approximately: Slovenes . a Serb principality which had achieved its independence from Turkey in the nineteenth century. ." The Serbs determined to defend their dearly bought liberty against any odds.000 6.000. 1914. agitating always for their own advantage.Croatian territory. Then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and other towns.250. Bogdan Vivodvic. Local Croat officials often participated in the shooting of prominent Serbian citizens belonging to their locality. with almost no resignations. The first large massacres occurred the night of May 31. Trebinye.000 620.550. But simultaneously he sent a coded telegram to the Ustashi ordering them to proceed with the massacres. The massacres were carried out by the three branches of the Croatian forces. The great massacres of 1941 did not take place until June 24 to 28. at a time when this province was ruled by the Turks. there should be no Serbs alive to cast their ballots. the patriot. when groups of prominent Serb citizens were seized and taken to the outskirts of the towns and shot. On June 22 he issued an order stating that anyone using force against citizens of the country would be severely punished. Dr.000 Moslems were Serbians who had adopted the Mohammedan faith in the fifteenth century.000 The 930. Dubrovnik.000 Catholics were Croatian Roman Catholics. the Home Defense. They went over. Livno. who was seventy-five years old. Dr. designed to put the Serbs off their guard. That is. by which time practically all the I. Dushan Jeftanovic. Most of these officials were men who had been put in by Dr. The later massacres were characterized by the truly Hitlerite trickiness of Dr.000 930. What happened can best be told by eyewitnesses: . Banja-Luka. to the Axis and continued their functions under Pavelich.000 420. These spring killings in Croatia proper are generally referred to as the Glina massacres. was broadcast on the radio.000 Serbs in Bosnia in 1914.000 Orthodox believers of Bosnia were Serbs. it will be seen that there were 1. if the Allies should by any chance win and allow the population to vote on their choice of country. Livno. There were many other instances where the horrors revolted not only the Italians but even the Germans. and the regular army. 1941. It should be noted that the Italians again and again tried to intervene to save the defenseless Serbs and often succeeded. It is a fact that there are no Croat Orthodox Catholics and no Serbian Roman Catholics. and Dubrovnik were released by the Italians. mass arrests were made in Zagreb. They continued intermittently until November 1942. and published in newspapers. The 420.970. so that. the Ustashi. read in churches. The object of the massacres was deliberate and political: it was to make Croatia a Greater Croatia by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ante Pavelich. Sarajevo. Adding the Orthodox Serbs and the Moslem Serbs together. It is another return to the barbarism which is the black stigma of our century. Mostar. Croatia's extermination of the Serbs of Bosnia was therefore as much a violation of the ethics of race and nationality which Europe has evolved during the centuries as anything ever done by the Nazis. Thus about 350 Serbians imprisoned by the Croats in Mostar.000 Serbs and Jews had been either exterminated or driven out. This notice.Orthodox Moslem Catholic 1. three fourths of the population was Serbian. Travnik. The 620. Vojislav Besarovic. president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Machek himself when he set up his autonomous government. Among the Serbs who died in the spring massacres were the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Zagreb. The history of the massacres is as follows: Between April 12 and 15 and on the night of May 31. and a famous leader of the Sokol youth movement.

burned to death in their homes and churches. and aged men. with a woman's head (presumably the mother of the children) labeled: "Meat for John's Market-Belgrade" (meaning meat for the Serbian market). were ripped off rudely by knives.DOCUMENT 1 GRIZOGONO LETTER Source: Letter written by Privislav Grizogono. ears amputated. U. a Croat and a Roman Catholic. "They were thrown into the deep cisterns and caves. since then. and fires were built on their bare chests. we can at least lessen our responsibility before the world and our consciences if we raise our voices in protest against all these crimes. Eyes were dug out of live victims. February 8. They are so terrible they have shocked even the Germans and Italians. Thousands of Serbian bodies floated down the Sava. Published in translation by the American Srbobran..A. Rapes were committed even before the altars of the Orthodox Church.' Even the Germans from Srem [Syrmia] hate us and act more or less humanely toward the Serbs. The beards and mustaches of priests. Minister to Poland. Then. and one Croat decorated with a wreath of Serbian eyes came to Dubrovnik with two wreaths of Serbian tongues. "The case of Milenka Bozinich from Stapandza is a particularly gruesome one: they dug her unborn child out of her with a knife. Their children were thrown into fire. 1943: "These atrocities do not amount to killings alone. About 3. and the Goats. . a Serbian paper of Pittsburgh. addressed to Dr. Literally they were roasted alive. 1942. Minister to Czechoslovakia. Drava. These and many other methods of torture were employed against the Serbs-tortures which normal people cannot conceive. Croatia. Pa. and female children were ushered off to Ustashi garrisons to be used as prostitutes. Other children were parted by their legs. "There are detailed and official minutes (reports) about these unheard-of crimes. Aloisius Stepinac. a huge pile of roasted heads was found. girls. hunger.000 Serbs were murdered in the Serbian Orthodox Church at Glina. this was the hot blood of their murdered brothers that other Serbs were forced to drink. They were tied to trucks and dragged behind them. then literally bombed to pieces.. Crowbars smashed their heads. and the massacre of Serbians before the altar at Kladusha with sledge hammers is something never mentioned in history. The arms and legs of the victims were broken and their heads were spiked.' In one boat on the Sava there was a pile of children's heads. scalding water. Many of these bodies bore tags: 'Direction-Belgrade. in Bosnia. to King Peter. Boiling water was poured on live victims before mutilation.. They aim at extermination of everything Serbian: women. mothers before daughters and daughters before mothers. The Germans claim the Croats did these same things during the Thirty-Year War and that. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb. and children were raped. Utensils full of Serbian blood were also discovered. "Countless women.. children. February 24. noses and tongues lobbed off. girls.. "Though we Croatians shall never be able to erase this shamefulness which we brought upon ourselves with these crimes. and Danube rivers and their tributaries. These innocent Serbs were stuck on poles alive. while many women. and in terribly wild tortures of the victims. together with their skin. The Italians have photographed a vessel holding 31.5 kilograms of Serbian eyes. and fed to the fired lime furnaces.S. their flesh was salted. their heads crushed against walls and their spines dashed against rocks. Many pictures were taken of these massacres and torture orgies. there is a proverb in Germany: 'God save us from cholera. member of the Yugoslav Diplomatic Corps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prison Bernhardt 56. Yugoslavia: A Versailles Failure 62. The Minuet of Death 51. My Sister Zora 59. A Dream Stronger than Tanks 60. Rose 57. Pride and Shame 52. The Field That Groaned 49. The Serbs’ Darkest Hour . “This Is German Culture” 54. “Prepare to Shoot the Hostages” 58. Epilogue 61. Uncle Luke 50. The Informer 53.48. Leka Saves Her Man 55.

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