3 SEPTEMBER 1943, Page 12



Sta,—To those who have lived as I have, among the many peoples now arbitrarily classed together as " Yugoslays," the present crisis comes as no surprise. Living as I did between 19o0 and 1914 in native houses in Bosnia, West Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, studying folklore and customs, collecting ballads, buying handicrafts for museums, doing relief work and nursing the sick and wounded, I realised how widely the various peoples differed in their ideals, their aspirations and their cultures, and how different were their past histories and religions. In fact the name " Yugoslav " is purely artificial. You might as well lump Danes, Flemings and Dutch together and call them North Teutonia. Thus in Bosnia in 1906 I found the Catholics and Moslems united in their hatred of the Serb. The Catholics wanted union with Austria. The Moslems with Turkey. The Serb Orthodox party wanted union with Serbia. Agents from Belgrade were actively at work, as my teacher of Serbian used to boast to me, telling with glee how the Austrian post opened letters; so important messages were brought by word of mouth and bogus ones sent by post to mislead the authorities. At the Agram trial in 1909 Belgrade protested innocence. But I had much evidence to the contrary.

In Montenegro, during a hot discussion over the inn dinner table as to the future, I asked a question about Panslavism and was told with a laugh to remember that " there is no one a Slav hates so much as another Slay." Also that no united Yugoslavia would be made " Till the Karageorgevics have been sent to join the Obrenovics." Among

Croats and Dalmatians I found bitter hatred and contempt for the Serbs. " When we get hold of them we will civilise them," I was told. A very able doctor, who in fact saved my life, said " The Serbs are a disgrace to the Slav race. Neva was there a scandal in Vienna University but a Serb was at the bottom of it." In Macedonia, where in 1903-4 I acted as relief agent, after the revolt of the local Bulgar peasants who wanted union with Bulgaria, I found that far from aiding their " Christian

brethren " both Serb and Greek agents denounced them to the Turkish authorities. In all the Ochrida and Resna districts there were then no Serbs save some political agents. And all this motley mass of different peoples was chucked together without any plebiscite being taken, and handed over to the Serbs, who as yet have not succeeded in making a stable government for themselves. Up to date every Serb ruler since Serbia was freed from the Turks has zither been murdered or forced for political reason to abdicate. The framers of this inchoate State did, however, recognise that districts differed and decreed that it should be the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. But in a very short time, all pretence was thrown aside and King Alexander and his military gang made it obvious that their object was Great Serbia. It is idle to label those who opposed Serb rule as " Quislings." It is idle to blame Hungary, Italy and Germany for plotting against Yugoslavia. The opponents of Serb despotism sought help wherever they could find it. Contented and tally ruled people do not turn to other lands for help. All these people are willing to form one State provided that their separate rights are respected. If allowed to manage their own affairs they would be ready to unite against a common foe. They want the Serbs who have been planted in their lands to be withdrawn. " Let King Peter reign in Serbia if the Serbs want him" said one lately to me. "We do not! " As Mr. Robe{t Powell justly says " a change is essential if democracy is to prevail after this war." It is useless for us to try to force upon the coun- try a form of government which so far has proved a disastrous failure. Primarily the failure is the fault of those who created this very mixed State. It is not surprising that the Serbs, totally inexperienced in ruling, other peoples nor too skilled in ruling themselves, should come to grief.

Among the group of people now forming the Yugoslav government is no man who shows any constructive power. Two of them, General Pero Zhivkovic and Milan Gavrilovic have shown themselves to be " Great Serbians." The former was notorious as the man who, when on guard at the Palace opened the gates to the murderers of Alexander Obrtnovic and Queen Draga in 1903. The latter, according to the Serb official publication Taina prevrat na organizatzia, was for a time No. 416 in the Black Hand, which planned the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand. That King Peter is anything but a puppet in the hands of the Serb military is doubtful. The Regent Paul by permitting free passage to the Germans hoped to be recognised as King when the Germans were victors. King Peter's supporters hope that the victory of the Allies will establish him on the throne. Like wounded Mercutio the suffering people may cry " a plague on both your houses! " They have yet to be reckoned with. The Atlantic Charter promises them the right to choose their own form of government. Let us see that they are free to do so when the time comes. A federation of contented peoples will be more conducive

to peace than an imposed despotism.—Yours, &c., M. E. DURHAM.

Snt,—Please accept the deepest thanks of a Jugoslav for the letter of Robert Powell, Esq., in your number of August loth. If I may be allowed to say so, Sir, it is about the only fair unbiassed statement on this crisis which has yet appeared in the Britith Press. Instead of absolutely one-sided reports, from Serbs or Croats to serve their own particular ends, which have appeared in so many British newspapers Mr. Powell has treated the matter comprehensively and has not refrained from referring to the British responsibility in this thing, which is very great indeed.

As a Jugoslav, I am able to understand the broadcasts which are made over the Croatian and Serbian stations, and can substantiate what Mr. Powell said about the effect of the new appointments in my country itself. It is worth noting, dear Sir, that Pavelitch, who hasn't talked for a long time, now makes two broadcasts on " this funeral of Jugoslavia " in ten days.

And is the British Government going to go further and accept M. Jevtitch to be Jugoslav Ambassador in London. Do the British , people realise what it means? Jevtitch was Foreign Minister when our King Alexander was murdered. Later, he became Prime Minister, and was responsible for the notorious " Jevtitch Elections " of May 5th, 1935, under Prince Paul. In 1929, or 1930, Belgrade wanted to make him Minister here, but your Government wisely rejected him.

Excuse, dear Sir, if I point out that the British Government is taking on a grave responsibility by playing in this way with men of Prince Paul and Stoyadinovitch rules. Should you want British name to be detested throughout my country after war, and monarchy to disappear, then let Foreign Office go on as present. But we Jugoslays who have sacrificed and left our homes and everything cannot believe British people would act like this if they knew the facts.—I am, yours obediently, Sir, A JUGOSLAV.