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Mladen J. Žujović’s letter to Rebecca West in London

Cairo, 12 February 1944

Dear Madam,
I do not have the honor of knowing you personally but I am familiar with the exceptional book you have devoted to the Yugoslav people; a book imbued not only with your outstanding literary talent and ingenious artistic intuition, but also your noble sensitivity and the great heart of a woman. You considered the Yugoslavs, and especially the Serbs, because of their history which is a wondrous, glorious and bloody epopee, worthy of your great talent and your magnanimous heart.
You undertook to be, Madam, before the British public, a moving and faithful interpreter of our folk tradition. You made the images and myths from our legend come alive in their full glory and full moral meaning with a masterly touch. With wondrous intuition you understood that, for our people – denied almost all material historic traces due to unheard of atrocities - these images and these myths were the fortresses of its dreams, the keepers of its faith and deep belief in future resurrections, which we, to this very day, defend just like we defend our soil. Thus, helping us to fight, you have earned our deepest gratitude.
Therefore, Madam allow me – in the capacity of an officer on the staff of General Mihailović who was among his war comrades until last September – to express my admiration and my gratitude to you. I extend this tribute to you in the name of my Commander and in the name of my comrades. Indeed, there are, among them, former members of the Yugoslav Section of the Pen Club who have the honor of being your friends, as is the case with my comrade Colonel Dragiša Vasić, the former president of the Yugoslav Pen Club, who is today one of General Mihailović’s chief commanders. On a beautiful spring evening in the mountains we listened to a BBC announcement from a lunch organized by the London Pen Club in honor of our King, which you kindly hosted. Regrettably, we received no such encouragement from the BBC later. On the contrary, it disappointed and confused us by contesting our activity and mentioning ever more rarely Mihailović’s name, who however, continues to personify our resistance movement and who was, in 1941, Great Britain’s sole ally!
Madam, you know better than I how the initial slanderous insinuations turned into a slanderous campaign in the British press. You are aware of that because you personally, honorably and bravely, stood up against that campaign. Regrettably, that was not the end of that. At present, immediate military interests are inciting your country’s services, and even your leading figures, to ignore us and to assume an almost distrustful attitude even towards the Government of King Peter II. Today, moral support is denied to those who, never having received sufficient material aid, never gave up and who have been bitterly fighting all the time tying down significant enemy forces in Yugoslavia and rendering thereby important, albeit recognized, services to the allied cause.
What is it that is held against them today? Is it the fact that, mindful of the fatal consequences of the struggle, they are saving their forces for the decisive moment and wish to avoid a premature uprising, as personally pointed out by Mr. Eden to the distinguished members of the British Parliament? Indeed that is not the case; what is held against them is that they remain loyal to their tradition, that they refuse to renounce their past and their legend, that they refuse to stand under the flag of an ideology contrary and alien to the deep aspirations of an agricultural people!
Judge for yourself, Madam, the dangers inherent in such a position. Does the fact that we want only a free, democratic and peasant Yugoslavia mean that we are not deserving of great British democracy? To wish this Yugoslavia to be headed by the national and glorious dynasty, whose current representative, young King Petar II, resolutely stood by his people which on the historic 27 March 1941 “found its soul” – is that today contrary to the interests of His British Majesty’s Empire?
Allow me, Madam, to tell you quite frankly that we have reason to ask ourselves such questions. Moreover, we have the right to go even further and to ask ourselves whether Great Britain still thinks that the restoration of Yugoslavia, an independent state comprising Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in a fraternal community is in its interest, or is it, on the other hand, ready to forsake not only Yugoslavia but the Balkans in general? For the wavering of British politics in the south-east leads us to conclude that we have been abandoned by our great ally – the keeper and repository of all our hopes.
I began this letter with the assurances of my respect which I felt bound to extend to you. Do not hold it against me for ending it with a request. Please make our cause clear to the British public, reassure us that we can count on the all-out assistance of our ally. Continue defending the aspirations of our people which inspired you to write those unforgettable and everlasting pages.

That is my request, Madam. Kindly accommodate it and please accept the assurances of my deep respect.

Lt. Col. Mladen Žujović

(Original in the French language, Legacy of Ml. J. Ž. Box V.)

Biography      Selected Texts      Legacy      Photographs

This site will present facts and documents about Lt. Col. dr Mladen Zujovic (1895-1969), one of the organizers of Ravna Gora movement (1941), military and political delegate of general Mihailovic in Cairo (1943-1944) and Paris (1944-1946).