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"The most fervent longing of modern nationalists is not for freedom but for mastery."

JOHN F. MONTGOMERY, "Hungary, the Unwilling Satellite"


The Piazza del Duomo in Milano is packed with an intently listening crowd. The white marble turrets of the Gothic cathedral are sparkling in the early autumn sunshine. Stepping on the rostrum from a forest of green - white - red flags and Fascist standards, the dynamic Leader keeps the crowd spellbound. Both hero and bajazzo in the people's imagination, Mussolini stirs up their fervent, romantic instincts and also provides popular enjoyment with his big words and good acting. The Duce's magnetic, somber eyes burn with indignation, as he stigmatizes the failure of Italy's wartime Allies to concede to Italy her rightful place in the sun. Yet, he warns, the time is near "when Italy will obtain a treatment inspired by justice: then we will adorn our rifles with the olive branch of peace. But should this not come about: we will adorn our rifles with the laurels of victory!" Trusting that the Duce will achieve both a better life and bloodless glory for his people, the crowd explodes in patriotic cheers.

On my way back from the rally, I pondered over a short passage in Mussolini's carefully worded speech. It had an edge against Yugoslavia: "We cannot maintain a passive attitude toward neighboring countries. Our attitude is either friendly or hostile toward them." There was much realism in that statement. The Italians had ample opportunity to experience - first with the Austrians and then, after 1918, with their new Yugoslav neighbors - the need for solving through co-operation their problems of mutual interest, if the use of force was to be avoided. For no one - sided national solution has ever brought about satisfactory results in the Northern corner of the Adriatic Sea where, living in economically interdependent areas, mixed populations converge to find an outlet to the open sea. The one-time prosperous ports of Trieste, Pola and Fiume have suffered a steady decline since separation from their "Hinterlands." What a fine task a more viable League of Nations could accomplish by establishing at least economic co-operation among these interdependent areas with free ports to further multilateral trade in the Southern half of Europe!

Beyond these considerations, however, I also sensed an ominous meaning in Mussolini's warning. Only three months earlier, while


vacationing on the lovely island of Arbe on the Dalmatian coast, I witnessed the hostile attitude of Yugoslavia against Italy. It was then, on July 25, 1934, that the Austrian Chancellor, Dollfuss, was murdered; whereupon Mussolini took a determined stand coupled with military measures on the Brenner Pass to dissuade Hitler from invading little Austria, which had placed herself under Mussolini's protection. The Duce won much praise in France and Britain for his energetic intervention and also raised the hope that Italy would prefer a Western orientation to an alliance with Hitler. On the other band, at the same time, Yugoslavia, an ally of France, bad ordered an all - out mobilization of her armed forces and was preparing to fight on Hitler's side to prevent the expansion of Italian influence North of the Yugoslav border. This violent Yugoslav reaction may seem paradoxical today, in view of all the suffering which only a few years later those brave people had to endure under Hitler's heel. An armed clash was avoided however in 1934, for the Nazi take - over of Austria was postponed for a few years. But Yugoslavia had harshly revealed her hostile intentions against Italy.

The same day, October 9, 1934, when Mussolini made that speech, a double murder was committed in Marseille: King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Jean Louis Barthou, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, were killed by fanatic assassins.

"These were the first shots of the Second World War" writes Anthony Eden.1


1 Sir Anthony Eden, Facing the Dictators; the Memoirs of Anthony Eden, Earl of Avon (Boston: Houghton Mifflin co., 1962), p. 119.


The murder of the "Cavalier King," Alexander I, on October 9, 1934, shocked me, for under the impact of the growing Nazi menace, I had been consistently working for an improvement of Hungary's hitherto strained relations with Yugoslavia. The internal order of that young state was now threatened by a violent crisis which might expand far beyond its borders.

Alexander's tragic end, however, did not come as a surprise. The desperate struggle against the Pan-Serbian royal dictatorship, fiercely carried on for some five years by the oppressed nations and nationalities of Yugoslavia, had repeatedly produced plots and attempts against the life of the King. There had been trouble on the Hungarian border also. Political refugees from neighboring Croatia who were escaping day by day to Hungary - some swimming at night over the river Drava - were causing incidents with the Yugoslav border guards. Most of the destitute Croat refugees were revolutionaries deserving of the sympathy which was shown to them by the freedom loving Hungarian population. But, unquestionably, undesirable elements had slipped in among them. If possible, the bitterness of the Macedonian and Montenegrin escapees was even more violent than the Croats' hatred. In the eyes of the oppressed, King Alexander personified the brutally virile and dominating mood of the Serbs who break rather than bend. Even before the background of the regicide was revealed, I had a fairly correct idea of the motives which had inspired the regicide at Marseille.

It was impossible not to recognize the implacable hand of Fate serving retribution to a dynasty whose ascent to the throne had been precipitated by a sinister regicide. Marseille also recalled Sarajevo and that fateful day, August 4, 1914, when after tense waiting, we learned that Serbia had refused to comply with the ultimatum of Austria-Hungary, which, among other points, demanded that the secret terrorist organizations in Serbia, responsible for the murder of the Crown Prince Francis Ferdinand, be dissolved. That evening, in the midst of a tempest, with lightning striking and thunder roaring, the deadly news hit us about the outbreak of the first World War. In the one-time happy valley of the Danube, many cherished values were shattered


during the years of fighting. The secret organizations in Yugoslavia however, continued their terroristic activities, provoking bloody reactions. The assassination of King Alexander was a result of that unhealthy situation.

To gain an unbiased view of the background and the motives of the regicide at Marseille, it is indispensable to outline briefly the history of terrorism in Vugoslavia - Serbian, Croat and Macedonian - before and following the first World War. As far as facts are concerned, they can be established fairly accurately for Serbs and Croats will tell the truth. They are not hypocrites; they have not yet acquired the repulsive habit of disguising the evil they do with moral motives. On the other hand, the political interpretation of events by Serbian sources would be, as a rule, diametrically opposed to the Croat views. For judgment, therefore, I had to rely mainly on my own experience and knowledge of Danubian and Balkan affairs, as well as personalities, without taking sides or following an established pattern. Rightists and Leftists, authoritarians and Liberals, are increasingly standardising our political thinking, approving or disapproving phenomena, labelling and fitting them into their own preconceived formulas. Yet, nothing is completely black or quite white. I prefer therefore to allow the reader the choice of that shade of gray which in his judgment befits the subject.


Revolutionary opposition to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes - established in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference, was not organized at first by the dissatisfied nationalities crowded uncomfortably into that heterogeneous state. Terrorism was launched by the Communist Party. In the early 20's, the nationalites resenting Serbian domination had not yet given up the hope that through constitutional processes and a continued struggle in the Belgrade Parliament, they might achieve an acceptable degree of autonomy within a Yugoslav confederation. The life-long Leader of the Serb Centralists, the shrewd Nikola Pashitch remained, however, intransigent and rejected the idea of any compromise which would move the Serbs from their dominating position. Sensing the growing danger to the stability of the new state, he was toying, however, with the idea of "amputation," that is of cutting off the Croat limbs from the Yugoslav body - a menace which did not frighten the Croats in the least.

Similarly, the main revolutionary force of our era, the Communist movement, was not directed in the early 20's against the unity of Yugoslavia. Politically, the Communist Party was opposing the forceful rule of King Alexander I, mainly because he was a dedicated anti-Communist. In December, 1920, while still Regent, he had ordered the Communist Party dissolved. Prompted by the traditional sympathies of the Serbs for "Mother Russia," the Communist Party had succeeded after the first World War in obtaining some popular backing, mainly among the Serbs, but was forced after its dissolution, to go underground. There, in complete secrecy, a militant conspiracy sprang into being, its members, mainly young fanatics, who aptly called their association "The Red Terror." A few months after the dissolution of the Party by the King, the first attempt against his life was carried out by this group in retaliation. The perpetrator of the crime, Spasoje Stejitch, whose bomb narrowly missed the King's car, was sentenced to prison for life. In 1941, when Yugoslavia collapsed, he was released, to his misfortune, for his comrades declared him unsound of mind and unceremoniously liquidated him. Another youthful member of Red Terror: Alija Aliagitch, proved more efficient in terrorism but equally


unfortunate. He was hanged (1921) for having murdered Milorad Draskovitch, the Minister who had strictly enforced the order to disband the Communist Party.

Communist theory does not admit, in general, individual acts of terrorism, for such methods are apt to provoke violent retribution against the Party. But there are exceptions to this rule, as may be gathered from an article in the March 7, 1959 issue of Politika, published in Belgrade, which glorified the almost forgotten crimes of Red Terror as having been indispensable at that time in view of the "opportunistic attitude" of the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party. "Red Terror," wrote the paper, "was the organization of young intellectuals and workers who remained true to the aims of the proletariat and were fighting for socialism without compromise." The leaders of the Communist Party in the early 20's, of whom this paper disapproved, were exclusively Serbs headed by a real egghead, Professor Sima Markovitch, Secretary of the Central Committee. This type of leadership appealed, however, to only a limited circle in the violently realistic Balkans.

In capitalist societies, communism automatically tends in a direction opposite to the existing order, not only in its aims, but also in its methods, and particularly in its spirit. This is how the incredible, nevertheless, happened: in the land of the Serbs, traditionally prone to violence, the genuine homegrown Communist movement was imbued with a humanistic spirit, in reaction against the unmerciful mood of the Serbs. The sophisticated Professor Markovitch unable to combine Marxism with Christian precepts, had embraced Hindu philosophy. He abhorred all bloodshed; replaced class warfare with a theory of peaceful elimination of tensions, as heralded by the inspired Hindu poet, Rabindranath Tagore. An indignant young painter, the Communist Moshe Pijade, branded the hyper - civilized professor, "an Anarchist." Pijade's Marxist realism, brought him in later years a high position in Tito's hierarchy.

Humanism, the guiding principle of Serbian communism! What deviation from Lenin and Stalin! Writing under the pseudonym of Themistokies Papasissis, an author, who had access to secret German files, describes1 how at the Fourth World Congress of the Komintern, the Leftist faction of the Yugoslav Party was helped into power against

1 Der Konig muss sterben, Heinrich Bar Verlag, Gmbh, Berlin, pp. 19 - 21.


Professor Markovitch by the Moscow Bolsheviks. Swayed by a wealthy Belgrade lawyer, the renegade Trisha Kaclerovitch, the Yugoslav Party accepted the new goals set by Moscow, not only to eliminate King Alexander, but also to disintegrate the Yugoslav multi-national state. A resolution passed in 1924, at the Fifth Congress of the Komintern declared that "the principle of self-determination of the people, accepted by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, shall find its realization in the separation of Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia from Yugoslavia, and in their transformation into completely independent republics."

Professor Markovitch deplored the catastrophic consequences which that decision would have for the future of the Yugoslav Communist Party, composed mainly of Serbian members. He foresaw their desertion and understood that the Serbs, even if communists like himself, would remain patriots, and would try to serve the cause of their own people, however defectively it might be conceived. Previous to this decision, the Independent Labor Unions of Yugoslavia, strongly influenced by the Communists, had some 30,000 registered members - this figure was shortly reduced to 2,000. Stalin had received his first, but by no means his last, lesson in independent Yugoslav communism.

The decay of the Yugoslav Party was put repeatedly on the agenda of the Komintern. A Special Committee, delegated to deal with the annoying Serb situation, was headed by no lesser man than Stalin himself. At a meeting on March 30, 1925, in Moscow, he assailed harshly the humanitarian Professor Markovitch for his refusal to yield to leftist demands. The Communist Party, however, could not be revitalized, not even under Stalin's prodding, so, finally, in May, 1928, the Komintern's Executive Committee published a letter addressed to the Yugoslav Party, demanding that the discredited intellectuals who formed the leadership at that time be replaced by solid proletarians. A former factory worker, Djura Djakovitch, was smuggled from Moscow to Belgrade to carry out the reorganization of the Party. But the situation of the Yugoslav Party had become so precarious by then, that the Congress could not be convoked in Yugoslavia, but was summoned finally to Dresden, Germany.

In October, 1928, the Dresden Congress brought to an inglorious end home - grown Serb communism. The Party could not be resuscitated on Muscovite lines for the Kominform had lost the confidence of the Serbian element. The handful of Yugoslav communists, fortunate to


reach Dresden, were greeted there by Stalin's able emissary, Professor Ercole Ercoli2 who provided guidance for the Congress, broke the resistance of the dejected Professor Markovitch, and forced him to exercise self - criticism Thereafter, the kindly professor was lured to Moscow, where as a useless' humanitarian, he was unmercifully liquidated.

Shortly thereafter, (in the beginning of January '29) King Alexander proclaimed his personal dictatorship of Yugoslavia. The new Secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee, the fiery Montenegrin, Jovan Malishitch,3 launched desperate appeals to incite the people to start a revolution against the royal tyrant, but his pleas, as far as the Communist Party was concerned, fell on deaf ears. Soon Malishitch and his Central Committee had to take refuge abroad, while the bold Djakovitch, loyal to the communist cause to the bitter end, was shot by the police. The party organization, reduced to a skeleton, was ruthlessly stamped out together with its secret ramifications. By 1932, the Party membership, which in 1920 amounted to 60,000, had diminished to something around 200. Defeat in the Second World War and Tito, a talented non - Serbian leader, were needed - and, of course, considerable Allied aid - to make communtsm in Yugoslavia supreme. But Stalin had to experience again the fact that a self - respecting nation, even if subjected to Communism, will live its own life and imbue the Marxist gospel with its own national spirit.

2 It was Palmiro TogIiatti, the present leader of the Italian Communist Party, who was hiding behind this alias.

3 Using the alias: Martinovitch.

THE Pan-Serbian DREAM

While the fires ignited by the Marxist Revolution petered out during the first decade of Yugoslavia's existence, the antagonisms of the diverse national minorities directed against Serbian rule, became more and more intense and changed their heretofore peaceful character. It was particularly the Croats who with increasing vigor demanded respect for their constitutional rights and national independence. What appeared at first as a Parliamentary struggle for Croat national autonomy within the framework of the Yugoslav State, was gradually transformed because of Serbian repression and systematic persecution, into a Croat revolutionary movement aimed at secession. Violence inevitably breeds violence. The law - abiding Croat people, used to government by civilized elements, suffered a severe shock when subjected to imperious treatment by the new Pan-Serbian regime. Equally virile and self - reliant as the Serbs, the Croats concluded that, if they were to avoid servitude, the only road left open for them was active resistance and retaliation in kind.

Hostility between Serbs and Croats leading to the Marseille tragedy was also embittered by a difference of cultures forced to co-exist in a kingdom impatiently driving at unification. Racially close relatives, Serbs and Croats understood each other's language which was rather unfortunate for they did not understand each other's thinking. The Serbs, the strongest race in the Balkans, had conceived after their hard-won victory an overambitious plan of domination; the establishment of a Great - Serbian unified kingdom, which the more advanced Croats could not accept. Therewith, the internal struggle became inevitable in the new kingdom before it was properly organized.

The Serbs are not followers of Tolstoi, the great romanticist of non - resistance. Nor would they take Mr. Nehru for their model. Not being hypocrites, they do not proclaim principles which they themselves are reluctant to observe. When resorting to violence, they do it radically and without dissimulation. The civilized Englishman, Anthony Eden, still shudders at the massacre of the one-time King of Serbia, Alexander Obrenovitch, together with his intriguing wife, the beautiful


Draga Mashin, in the beginning of our 20th Century (1903) by his subjects, and describes it as an act "of exceptional brutality."1 They "were flung from the windows of their palace to the street below.

When they tried to hold on to a window's edge, their hands were hatched away."

More than thirty Serbian officers had participated in the bestiar murder of their own king, a crime prepared by the "Black Hand," a secret society responsible for acts of terrorism at the service of Serbian and Russian political aims. Some among these officers later achieved high rank in Yugoslavia. One of them was Bozin Simitch, who became the last Grand Master of the notorious Black Hand, and later an instrument of Soviet intrigue when the Black Hand was compromised and he had to flee to Soviet Russia. Another young officer involved in the regicide, was Peter Zhifkovitch, a real villain, who thirty years later, as Minister of War, tried to invade Hungary with Serbian Chetniks in order to provoke war.

Following the massacre of the House of Obrenovitch, a new dynasty, the Karageorgievitch, ascended the throne of Serbia. She therewith passed over from friendship with Austria and Hungary to hostility against her neighbors at the behest of the Tsar. A decade had hardly passed by, when the Black Hand, that conceited conspiracy of killers and kingmakers, again resorted to a fateful act of terrorism. Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary, was assassinated in Sarajevo together with Sophia, his Czech wife. The Archduke had become dangerous to Pan-Serbian aspirations, by promoting "trialism," a policy friendly to the Slav populations living within the confines of the Dual Monarchy. He wished to satisfy the Slav's demands for an equal status with that of the Austrians and the Hungarians. Such constitutional change might have fulfilled the reasonable aspirations of the Slavs of Austria-Hungary, it might have restored the viability of her respectable but antiquated system. But that compromise would certainly have ruined the dream of a Great - Serbia, the chance to unite all the Slavs of Central Europe under Serbian rule a tempting policy promoted by the Tsar of Russia - which the Serb Nationalists could not resist.

In the quiet Victorian atmosphere of Francis Joseph's court, the

1 Sir Anthony Eden, Full Circle; the Metnoirs o/ Anthony Eden, Earl ol Avon (Boston: Houghton Mifilin Co., 1962), pp. 471 - 2.


brutal shots fired at Sarajevo reverberated with a thunderous echo, for their destructive purpose was obvious. The Archduke was destroyed because he was a friend and not a foe of the Slavs. The murderous shots were aimed at the survival of the Danubian Monarchy. The investigation conducted by Vienna established that it was the Black Hand which had carefully prepared the Archduke's murder. Several historians consider Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevitch - Apis, at that time the Grand Master of the Black Hand, as the main culprit. Among the conspirators responsible for the crime, Peter Zhifkovitch figured prominently. Sarajevo established a pattern which was precisely followed by the perpetrators of the regicide at Marseille. The Great Serbian dream however turned into a nightmare for it served as the trigger for the first World War.

Crime, if left unpunished, emboldens the criminal and leads him to self - destruction. During the first World War, the Serbian Crown Prince Alexander, (later murdered at Marseille) showed more independence of mind than was to the liking of the Black Hand. So a plot was arranged to have him killed, as if by accident, while on a tour in Greece. Alexander, however, escaped uninjured. The conspiracy was uncovered and Fate overtook the Grand Master, Colonel Dimitrijevitch - Apis. On June 26, 1917, the Colonel was executed together with two accomplices. The powerful Black Hand, which at one time had numbered 150,000 members, fell into disgrace. But Alexander could not completely rid himself from the influence of the Serbian secret organizations. By the time that the Black Hand disintegrated, a rival organization, the "White Hand" had grown up, which, in March 1941, became instrumental in overthrowing the regency of the moderate Prince Paul and in setting up a new Cabinet under General Simovitch which within a week was crushed by the infuriated Hitler.

"We are all marked, to some extent, by the stamp of our generation," remarks Anthony Eden, "mine is that of the assassination of Sarajevo." Acts of terrorism, committed for political reasons by Serb Nationalists, have deeply impressed the comme it faut Mr. Eden, and will explain his resentment in Geneva against the unmotivated expulsion from Yugoslavia of peaceful Hungarian families under orders of General Peter Zhifkovitch.

As Hungary's Chief Delegate to the League of Nations, though


hard pressed, I resisted during the debate in Geneva the temptation to disclose the somber facts concerning the mistreatment of the Croats and other nations and minorities in Yugoslavia; the true motive of the regicide at Marseille. For mistreatment was the force which drove the Christian - minded Croats into despair which bred terrorism. During centuries of valliant fighting against their Turkish foes, the Serbs had learned how to sacrifice their lives in the defense of home and country, but they did not learn how to solve their problems by peaceful means. The Croats' reaction to their inclusion into the Balkans was at first moderate. It took them an entire decade to reach the conclusion that they would have to resort to violence if they wished to retain their national identity. I never delved in Geneva into my bulky dossier loaded with explosive facts, for, knowing the pride of the Serbs, I was aware that I would bar thereby the possibility of a peaceful solution.

Times have changed now. Serbs, Croats and Hungarians alike are experiencing Communist dictatorship hardly to the liking of these freedom - loving nations. Omitting the gruesome details, it seems to me of some use therefore, to expose frankly those forces of terrorism in the Balkans which, among other misdeeds, have led to the regicide at Marseille.

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