Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, A Journey through Yugoslavia, Rebecca West



This murder marked a new phase in the genius of murder which has shaped our recent history. It was, of course, not novel in a sense. It bore the familiar thumb-print of its prime mover. Like the degradation of Croatia and Macedonia, it was utterly pointless. It could serve no possible purpose, for had Mussolini marched into Austria it would have been the armies of other countries, not the unhappy tenants of the Karl-Marx-Hof and the Goethe-Hof, who would have resisted him. And the crime is also reminiscent of others committed by Austrians in its cold inhumanity. After the Mayerling tragedy the uncles of Marie Vetsera were summoned by night to the hunting-lodge, confronted with a laundry basket containing the naked body of their niece, were given her clothes and told to dress her, and were made to drive ten miles with her corpse propped up between them to the cemetery where she was to be furtively buried. In order to keep her on the seat it was necessary to use an umbrella as a splint for her spine and neck. None of the court officials found this service too repulsive to exact from these unhappy young men. The callousness of the funeral arrangements for the murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife twenty-five years later showed that this was no passing phase of barbarity, and twenty years later these February massacres were to prove the truth of the saying, "Like master, like man." The chauffeur's behaviour can be judged only if one imagines a Cockney taxi-man cheerfully spending some days driving about a ruffian who was making it his business to assault by bombardment and machine-gun the tenants of all London County Council flats, men, women, and children alike. It must further be imagined that this Cockney taxi-driver would be actuated not by indignation over any definite wrong or passion for any cause, but simply by a vague hope that times might be better; and that he was not maddened by poverty, being well fed and well clothed, and able to rely on an amplitude of social services in any emergency.

But the crime was, in one sense, terrible in its novelty. The people who assassinated Prince Danilo of Montenegro and Prince Michael of Serbia were individuals holding certain ideas who wanted to kill nationalists. The man who assassinated the Empress Elizabeth was not an individual, he was a representative of the undifferentiated human mass, who killed an individual, who was the representative of the class which he held responsible for allowing that portion of humanity to lose its differentiation and sink back into the mass. The people who assassinated Alexander and Draga Obrenovitch were for the most part individuals who were nationalist and objected to individualists who should have been nationalist but had been corrupted by an alien imperialism, and for the lesser part individuals who enjoyed murder. The murder of Franz Ferdinand was as pure a case as could be imagined of a nationalist individual murdering an imperialist individual. But these February butcheries represented mass murdering mass. Mussolini was destroying people of his own sort, not for any motive that could actuate an individual with a mind, with traditions and with an interest in maintaining stable conditions, but out of some elementary reaction such as might make an embryo kick in the womb. For the first time in the modern age the individual had been squeezed out of history. He was neither the subject nor the object of a crucial action which was to affect the destiny of many millions. This meant that henceforth events must take a violent and unreasonable course; embryos cannot control a complicated world made by adults, It meant also that existence must decline from what ease and dignity it had attained to a hitherto unknown level of pain and humiliation: adults cannot be happily governed by embryos.

The first result of the Viennese massacres was the famous Nazi "Blood Bath" of June the thirtieth, spry. Till now murder had played a minor part in Hitler's programme; his mainstay was a combination of torture and imprisonment, and he had only occasionally resorted to the assassination of some specially dangerous personality. But Vienna suggested to him that perhaps, if one were sufficiently powerful, one could murder people, even a lot of people, with impunity. He acted on that suggestion by killing without trial and without warning about twelve hundred people, many of whom loved and trusted him, during the course of a single night. He thus at one and the same time fed his appetite for murder, and enacted a fantasy that all of us have played with in our infancy. Few children have not lain in their cots like little Timurlanes and prayed that in the night all the unkind and difficult world might be swept away, so that in the morning they might have a new Daddy and Mummy and Nurse, a new kindergarten. With such baby ferocity Hitler included among his victims the manager and two head waiters of the Munich restaurant which he and his party had frequented in earlier days. This too was murder of the mass by the mass; but here subject was so identical with object that this murder was no more true murder than masturbation is sexual intercourse. Many of those slaughtered were so conscious of their unchangeable identity with the Nazis that they assumed themselves to be victims of an anti-Nazi rising and died crying, "Heil, Hitler!" However, Hitler's enjoyment of the experience, such as it was, led him to venture on the more mature form of indulgence before another month was past. On July the twenty-fifth he arranged for a Nazi uprising in Vienna, which had for its main purpose the assassination of Dollfuss. For this victim nobody need shed a tear. He had acquiesced, if indeed he had not actively collaborated, in the slaughter of his fellow-countrymen at Mussolini's behest. But the murder was disgusting enough without the element of personal pity being involved, both in the barbarity which left Dollfuss to lie in his blood for hours, vainly asking for a priest and a doctor, and the gross cowardice which sent the conspirators scampering in every direction before they had time to realize their further plans. These, however, were bound in any case to be abortive. They could not lead to the annexation of Austria by Germany, because, as must have been foreseen by any sane observer, the first rumour of the uprising brought Mussolini's troops up in force to the Brenner Pass between Italy and Austria. Whether the Blood Bath of June the thirtieth served any purpose is impossible to say, for civil war keeps its own secrets, and many of the victims were so wholly submerged in the Nazi party that they were unknown to any human being outside it; but the murder of Dollfuss was astonishing as an example of the pointlessness characteristic of historical events determined by the dictators.

There was a little over two months' respite. All the world over nothing much is done during August, and on the Mediterranean coast this lassitude continues throughout September. But in October work began again in earnest. On the ninth of that month there was committed at Marseille that crime which for so long preoccupied and perplexed me, the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia. It seems to me that I have explained this crime by the material I collected on my Yugoslavian journey. He was killed because the Balkan peoples had long ago been defeated by the Turks, who like all imperialists found government nothing near so easy as conquest, so that the misgoverned Peninsula became the object of concupiscence in the neighbouring empires; and these, sitting round like wolves on their haunches in expectation of the hour when the Turks would have to hobble away and leave their booty undefended, never forgave the Balkan peoples, because in that hour, an ancient dream being strong in them, they rose and claimed their own. These wolves longed to undo that hour, recover the lost booty, and revenge themselves for their time of disappointment in the sweetness, still sweeter than theft, of butchery. Therefore they had to kill Alexander, who was the Balkan spirit incarnate, who was terrible as all Balkan peoples are, because he had twice risen from the dead, he had broken the tomb of Kossovo, and after the Austrians had stamped down the earth over him he had kicked it away and stood upright. There can be nothing more abhorrent to murderers than a murdered man who will not stay dead, who rises stiffly up into the light, dust on his eyelashes, and in his eyes the new advantage of the wisdom he has learned among the dark foundations of our life, during his death.

He had to die. So the material I had collected proved beyond doubt. Yet as I sat at my desk and worked through the years, both my material and the events that closed in on Europe more darkly day by day suggested that perhaps Alexander died the particular death that came to him on that particular day, for no other reason than that if two embryos were partners in a game of bridge they would be apt to trump each other's aces. Mussolini and Hitler were bound to join in an alliance of negativism against the positivism of the rest of the world; yet for a time they vied with each other in futile murder. Mussolini killed the Viennese Social Democrats in February; Hitler killed his comrades in June and, Bown with his success, got Dollfuss in July; Mussolini, not to be outdone, brought down his man in October. The murder of Alexander was an idea that had its roots deep in history; but perhaps it was dragged across the threshold of the world of fact simply by this spirit of competition in crime. This very pointlessness gave the crime a terrifying point. The representatives of life without mind, that is without memory or will, had killed the representative of life that had raised itself from death by letting five hundred years deposit no dust of forgetfulness, by resolving that though the heart were transfixed by the sword it should persist in beating.

History, it appeared, could be like the delirium of a madman, at once meaningless and yet charged with a dreadful meaning; and there existed a new agent to face this character of our age and intensify it. The kind of urban population which Mussolini and Hitler represented had been drawn away from. the countryside to work on the production and distribution of machinery and manufactured goods; and this mechanical effort had given us the aeroplane. It was the dictators' perfect tool. For by raining bombs on the great cities it could gratify the desire of the mass to murder the mass; and by that same act it would destroy the political and economic centres of ancient states with pasts that told a long continuous story, and thus make an assault on mind, tradition, and what makes the settled hearth. Such warfare must mean ruin for all, for mass was nearly balanced by mass, and because it would be beyond the power of the world to rebuild what it had taken centuries and unclouded faith in destiny to build, save in an equal number of centuries and by an equal poetical achievement of the soul. But experience of this would not avail to stop these wars, for this was the gibbering phase of our human cycle, and defeat and extinction would be as eagerly pursued as victory. This I could deduce from the facts I was working on, and it was confirmed by the newspapers every day I wrote. These recorded the advance of a state of universal and imbecile war and worse beside. For they recorded the rehearsal of such a conflict, carried on openly and unimpeded by Germany and Italy on Spanish soil, while the powers it threatened, though still splendid with inherited strength, sat by in cataleptic quiet.

In the country it sometimes happens that the sleeper awakes to an unaccustomed stillness. It is as if silence stretched for miles above him, miles around him; and daybreak does not bring the usual sounds. He goes to his window and finds that the world is under snow. White the lawn, white the trees, white the fields beyond, black the frozen water on the path. No birds and beasts are abroad, and no labourer comes out to work. Nothing is heard but the singing of the blood in the ears, and in a pure light forms stand forth in their purity. The air, too, is cleansed by cold and is like absolution in the nostrils. Such sounds as there are, as the cry of a wild swan, such motions as there are, as the lope of a grey squirrel over the roadway, are more than they would be in a less lustrated world. That day, that week, the next week, the snowfall is an austere and invigorating delight, but if month passes month, and the snow still lies and the waters are still black, life is threatened. Such snows and ice are well on the heights which are frequented only for adventure, but ill on the lowlands where the human process is carried on. The cattle cannot drink when the springs are frozen at their sources, the sheep cannot find the hidden grass, seed cannot be sown in the adamantine earth, the fruit trees cannot put forth their buds. If the snow does not melt and the waters How, beauty becomes a steely bondage and then a doom, by which all animals must die, and man among them. We tell ourselves, when the whiteness lasts too long, that all seasons have their term and that the spring has always come in time; and so it happened this year and last year. But it may not happen so next year. Winter has often made this visit that far outstays safety and consumes leaf and flower and fruit and loin. Snow has covered first threshold, then windows, then chimneys, of many an upland farm, enclosing at the last a silence that does not thaw in the spring sunshine. Sometimes fields and orchards that had not been thought to lie too high have been burned by cold as by fire, and those who tended them have gone down starving to the plain. And there was once an Ice Age.

In England there was such a stillness, such a white winter of the spirit, and such a prolongation of it that death was threatened. It would have been expected, with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany crying out to kill, and England being what they both needed to kill, that there would be much bustling to and fro on the building of defences, that there would be shouts of warning, proclamations, calls to arms, debates on strategy. But there was silence, and no movement. It was as though a pall of nullity covered all the land, as if the springs of the national will were locked fast in frost. Certainly some people cried out in fear and anger against the dictators, but they were drawn from those who had detached themselves from the main body of Englishmen, some because they were better, some because they were worse. But the main body itself lay in an inertia in which, at first, there was reason for hope. For before England could attain mastery over her time she had to suffer a profound alteration from her bustling polychrome Victorian self, which was infinitely credulous regarding her own wisdom, that would assume, at a moment's notice and without the slightest reflection, the responsibility of determining the destiny of the most remote and alien people, whose material and spiritual circumstances were completely unknown to her. She needed to learn that action is not everything, that contemplation is necessary for the discovery of the way and for the refinement of the will. She needed to be still for a time and surrender herself to the mystical knowledge which cannot give instruction while logic, with its louder voice, holds the floor. It was good that she should lie under quiescence as under snow, that there should be no coming and going, that the air should be cleansed by scepticism, and that only the simplest and most fundamental activities should be carried on, to reveal the essential qualities which had been forgotten in the more crowded days. There could have been no greater misfortune for England than that the period of inactivity which was superintended by Lord Baldwin should have so perfectly resembled in outward appearances that period which would have been a necessary preliminary to her regeneration. For it might have been that a party which belonged to the past was confessing its inability to cope with the present, and was waiting to yield stoically and without fruitless struggles to the new and appropriate forces.

But the quietness lasted too long. The new forces did not emerge. The obsolete party did not mean to yield power. On the contrary, it gripped the nation's throat with a tenacity that was terrifying, because it pertained to another realm than life. For the grip of a living man must relax if he grow tired; it is only ghostly hands that, without term, can continue to clench. But these were not honest ghosts, for had they been such they would have re-enacted the pomp of Elizabeth's power; even if the dust lay thick on the national stage, they would have repeated the imperturbable insolence of Victoria, even if the words came hollow from the fleshless thorax. They were, however, as much strangers to all tradition of English pride as though they were alien in blood. Mussolini and Hitler threw courtesy away and yelled at our statesmen as waiters in a cheap foreign restaurant might yell at kitchen boys. Their peoples accepted from them, almost without dissent, a gospel which was in essence a call to the destruction of the British Empire and its regeneration in a baser form, and that this word was to be made flesh, and that bleeding and lacerated flesh, was proved by the tearing up of treaties and the re-creation of forbidden armies. The prospect was unprecedented in its horror, because the mindless, traditionless, possessionless urban proletariat was delighted by the prospect of making air-warfare. In Germany and Italy the people as a whole licked their lips over the promise of air warfare that was held out to them by their leaders. But the governors of England hardly stirred. Their faces were bland bags. They gave no orders for our defence.

Although not one sane man in the continent of Europe but knew that soon England would be bombed from the air, we built no planes.

The farmer's family, when the snow rises above the threshold and above the windows and still does not thaw, must have felt as we did. Violence is the more terrible when it comes softly, when there is no sound but the throbbing of the alarmed blood in the ears. But our woe was worse than would be known by the victims of a natural catastrophe, for it was not nature that was handing us over to death, but people of our own blood, people of a class whom we looked on with a filial trust. We knew that they would bully us out of claiming our full adult privileges when we came of age, we knew that they would make us pay them too much of our weekly wages as a return for providing us with a home, but we trusted them to act in any last resort as our loyal parents, who would fight to the death in the defence of their young. But here came death, and they did not defend us. Rather was it that they had taken away our weapons and bound our arms to our sides and opened the door to our enemies, saying, "Yes, we have them ready for you, we have trussed them up for killing, you will have no trouble with them."

Many of us thought then that our governors were consciously betraying us because they wished to establish a totalitarian system in this country, and were eager to co-operate with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in the enslavement of Europe. Indeed thus alone could there be explained the British policy of "non-intervention" in the Spanish Civil War, which was in fact a furtive discouragement of any action, however licit, that might have aided the survival of an independent and friendly Spain, and a furtive encouragement of all actions, however illegal, that enabled our natural enemies the Germans and Italians to establish themselves on both flanks of our natural allies the French. To some small degree the allegation of treachery was valid. The coarser kinds of rogue love money, and the City therefore must inevitably hold a high proportion of them; and these were solidly pro-Nazi and profascist. Finance certainly threw some considerable influence on the side of complete surrender to Germany, on condition that the wealth of England be allowed to remain in the same hands as before. There were also certain influences in the Foreign Office which were against the defence of England. The British Minister to a certain Danubian country never ceased throughout his tenure of office to carry on fervent propaganda in favour of the Nazi plan for dismembering this country; and an attache at a certain important Central European Legation made a point of intercepting visitors and urging on them the manifest superiority of the German people to all others, the wrongs it had suffered from the Peace Treaty, and the necessity for showing penitence by giving the Nazis all they demanded. But these were as much exceptions to the general mood as was a desire to arm against the dictators. The governors of England have proved beyond doubt their innocence of that particular crime. If they had wished to establish fascism they would certainly have attempted a coup d'etat in the days of shame and bewilderment that followed Munich. But from that action, as indeed from all others, they refrained.

Now it was plain that it was not sleep which made the earth so still; it was death. As extreme cold can burn like fire, so an unmeasured peace was stamping out life after the fashion of war. Presently war itself would come, but it would destroy only what had already been destroyed. Our houses would fall on our broken bodies; but it was long since our hearthstones had been warm, and our bodies were as destitute of will as corpses. Under an empty sky lay an empty England. There is a pretence that this was not so, that Munich was not negative but positive, that Neville Chamberlain signed the treaty because he knew his country to be unprepared for war and therefore wanted to gain time for rearmament. If this were true it would still not acquit him of blame, since he had been a member of the Government which was responsible for the lack of arms; but it is a lie. He and his colleagues made no use of the respite to defend their people. Here and there individuals who individually loved life worked frantically in the Army, in the Navy, in the Air Force, in the factories; but the mass of England was still inert. Our governors stood beside us as we lay bound and helpless at their feet, smiling drunkenly without the reasonable excuse of consumed alcohol, while the strange treacherous spirit which possessed them continued to issue invitations to our enemies, saying, "Come quickly and finish them now, they can do nothing against you."

I, like all my kind, who could read and write and had travelled, was astonished. But as I looked round on this desolate historical landscape, which was desert beyond my gloomiest anticipation of where my ill fortune might bring me, it was not unfamiliar. "I have been here before," I said; and that was true, for I had stood on the plain of Kossovo. I had walked on the battle-field where Christian rulers, faced with those who desired to destroy their seed and their faith and their culture, resigned themselves without need to defeat, not from cowardice, not from treachery, but in obedience to some serene appetite of the soul, which felt fully sanctified in demanding its gratification. The difference between Kossovo in 1389 and England in 1939 lay in time and place and not in the events experienced, which resembled each other even in details of which we of the later catastrophe think as peculiar to our nightmare. There was in both the strange element of a gratuitous submission to a new menace of a technical sort. Even as the Nazis threatened us by their ardently prepared Air Force, so the Turks subdued the Balkan peoples by their ferocious and ingenious use of cavalry; and even as the English, though they made good guns and planes and were good artillerymen and aviators, built up no defences against attack from the air, so the Balkan peoples, though they had horses and a fine tradition of horsemanship and a long acquaintance with Turkish methods of warfare, gathered together no appropriate counter-forces. There was in both the same vertiginous spectacle of a steep gradient slanting from unchallenged supremacy down to abjection; the great Serbian Emperor Stephen Dushan, who was the most powerful monarch in the Europe of his time, died only thirty-four years before Kossovo, Munich was only thirty-seven years after the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Defeat, moreover, must mean to England the same squalor that it had meant to Serbia. Five centuries hence gentleness would be forgotten by our people; loutish men would bind ploughshares to their women's backs and walk beside them unashamed, we would grow careless of our dung, ornament and the use of foreign tongues and the discoveries made by the past genius of our race would .be phantoms that sometimes troubled the memory; and over the land would lie the foul jetsam left by the receding tide of a conquering race. In a Denkmal erected to a German aviator the descendant of his sergeant in the sixteenth generation, a wasted man called Hans with folds of skin instead of rolls of fat at the back of his neck, would show a coffin under a rotting swastika flag, and would praise the dead in a set, half-comprehended speech, and point at faded photographs on the peeling wall, naming the thin one Goring and the fat one Goebbels; and about the tomb of a murdered Gauleiter women wearing lank blonde plaits, listless with lack of possessions, would picnic among the long grasses in some last recollection of the Strength Through Joy movement, and their men would raise flimsy arms in the Hitler salute, should a tourist come by, otherwise saving the effort. In the towns homeless children, children of homeless children, themselves of like parentage, would slip into eating-houses and grovel on the dirty floor for cigarette-butts dropped by diners reared in a society for long ignorant of the nice.

That is defeat, when a people's economy and culture is destroyed by an invader; that is conquest, that is what happens when a people travels too far from the base where it has struck its roots.

It seemed that there was no help for us; for the Government was contriving our defeat, was beyond reason and beyond pity, caught up in a painful, brooding exaltation, like the Tsar Lazar.

There flies a grey bird, a falcon,
From Jerusalem the holy,
And in his beak he bears a swallow.

That is no falcon, no grey bird,
But it is the Saint Elijah,
He carries no swallow,
But a book from the Mother of God,
He comes to the Tsar at Kossovo,
He lays the book on the Tsar's knees.
This book without like told the Tsar:
"Tsar Lazar, of honourable stock,
Of what kind will you have your kingdom?
Do you want a heavenly kingdom?
Do you want an earthly kingdom?
If you want an earthly kingdom,
Saddle your horses, tighten your horses' girths,
Gird on your swords,
Then put an end to the Turkish attacks,
And drive out every Turkish soldier.
But if you want a heavenly kingdom
Build you a church on Kossovo;
Build it not with a floor of marble
But lay down silk and scarlet on the ground,
Give the Eucharist and battle orders to your soldiers,
For all your soldiers shall be destroyed,
And you, prince, you shall be destroyed with them."

When the Tsar read the words,
The Tsar pondered, and he pondered thus:
"Dear God, where are these things, and how are they?
What kingdom shall I choose?
Shall I choose a heavenly kingdom?
Shall I choose an earthly kingdom?
If I choose an earthly kingdom,
An earthly kingdom lasts only a little time,
But a heavenly kingdom will last for eternity and its centuries.

So the Tsar chose a heavenly kingdom and the ruin of all his people.

Then the Turks overwhelmed Lazar,
And the Tsar Lazar was destroyed,
And his army was destroyed with him,
Of seven and seventy thousand soldiers.

All was holy and honourable,
And the goodness of God was fulfilled.

So it had been at Kossovo, and so it was in England. Quite without irony it could be said that in Mr. Neville Chamberlain's Cabinet and in Whitehall all was holy and honourable. These men were not actuated by cowardice. When they were forced by the invasion of Poland to declare war on Germany they did not flinch, though they knew better than anyone the hideous degree of our defencelessness. They were not betraying their country either for bribes or out of loyalty to fascism. It is true that one at least of the men chiefly responsible for the lethargic conduct of the war under the Chamberlain administration was a venal character with dubious associates in Germany; but treachery is alert and quickwitted and expectant of gain, whereas the mood of our governors was drowsy and hallucinated and, as in the case of communicants, already satisfied before the time of their satisfaction, because it was mystical. When Mr. Chamberlain spoke at Birmingham after the German annexation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 his voice carried over the radio a curious double counterpoint. There was one theme which expressed the anger of a vain man who finds he has been tricked, and there was another, the main theme, the profounder theme, which solemnly received the certainty of doom and salvation. "We shall fight," came the sharp and shallow note of resentment against Hitler; "we shall fight," sounded the cavernous secret thought, "and no doubt we shall be defeated, and the goodness of God shall be fulfilled." Again the grey falcon had flown from Jerusalem, and it was to be with the English as it was with the Christian Slavs; the nation was to have its throat cut as if it were a black lamb in the arms of a pagan priest. We were back at the rock. We were in the power of the abominable fantasy which pretends that bloodshed is peculiarly pleasing to God, and that an act of cruelty to a helpless victim brings down favour and happiness on earth. We, like the Slavs of Kossovo, had come to a stage when that fantasy becomes " compulsion to suicide. For we had developed enough sensibility to know that to be cruel is vile, and therefore we could not wish to be the priest whose knife made the blood spurt from the black lamb'. throat; and since we still believed the blood sacrifice to be necessary we were left with no choice, if we desired a part in the service of the good, but to be the black lamb.

We had been glutted for centuries with wealth and power, and in the worst war the world had yet seen we had gained a glorious victory which inflicted much pain on the defeated. The sense of guilt which is born in every man, and is willing to operate without reasonable cause, had here abundant food, and for long we had been sick with masochism. This could be seen in the strange propaganda against the Treaty of Versailles which was carried on year in year out by ordinary English people, who had never read a line of it and perhaps not even known anybody that had, who had never visited the Continent, and were not receiving instructions from any political party. These people utterly ignored the work the peace treaties had done in liberating the smaller nations, monstrously exaggerated the hardships inflicted by their economic clauses, which, indeed, for the most part were completely inoperative, and, what was most remarkable, seemed utterly ungrateful for the clauses which aimed at making it impossible for Germany to repeat her attack on England and France. They had lost all sense that it is sometimes necessary to fight for one's life; and many children born in the decade after the Great War can never have heard a word from their parents and teachers which suggested that their country had or could have been actuated by any motive except stupid and credulous jingoism in taking up arms in 1914. The idea of self-preservation was as jealously hidden from the young as the facts of sex had been in earlier ages. Thus England, not a perverse left-wing England that cared not what price it paid so long as it brought down the established order of society in ruins, but conservative, mediocre England, put itself in a position of insecurity unique in history 'by raising a generation of young men to whom the idea of defending their nation was repugnant not so much by reason of the danger involved (though indeed they were nom often instructed in fear as in other times boys had been instructed in courage) as because they could not believe it would in any circumstances be necessary. Since every day Germany and Italy were, formulating in more definite and vehement terms that they meant to vanquish and annihilate England, it was amazing that it should have been possible to enclose them in the magic sphere of this illusion. It would, of course, be comprehensible had they been drugged by sensual indulgence or grown careless of honour; but never had the mass of the people been more sober, and law-abiding, and restrained, never had they been so anxious for honourable dealings between class and class and between nation and nation.

The fault was not decadence but the desire for holiness, the belief in sacrifice, and a willingness to serve as the butchered victim acceptable to God.

This I could read in the pages of my own book if I spread out the newspaper beside it; and it seemed to me I must be fantasticating history, so inveterate is our modern disposition to pretend that public actions must be inspired by simple and superficial motives. We all admit that when we see a man in the street and say, "That is John Jones, he is an umbrella manufacturer, he is going to his works in Acton," we are not really describing him, we are simply putting into currency a number of facts about him which the community will find useful in their dealings with him. An adequate account of him must be as the map of a jungle, in which there range many beasts, some benign, some abhorrent, It is the special greatness of Shakespeare that he demonstrated the complexity of the individual; after Hamlet and Othello and King Lear it could not be pretended that man was an animal who pursues pleasure and avoids pain. But of nations that pretence is still made. It is assumed that if a nation goes to war, it must have a reasonable motive, based on material calculations, and must desire to be victorious. It is not conceded that a nation should, like Hamlet, say that in its heart there was a kind of fighting that would not let it sleep, or, like Othello and King Lear, hatchet its universe to ruin.

But, as I wrote the last part of this book, France proved, in a tragedy that ranks as supreme in history as Hamlet and Othello and King Lear rank in art, that a nation can be under the same necessity as an individual of tracing out a destiny which strikes it as beautiful, even if it involve! self-destruction; and the idea of this destiny, the theme of this poem which was inscribed not on paper but on life, was the theme of Kossovo, of the rock. Where England had one reason to know that Germany meant to attack her, France had ten reasons to tell her that her danger was imminent and extreme. Yet she was even more supine than England Indeed, the wheel turned full circle, and she sprang to her feet and ran about opening all gates to her enemies, crying out that they mm be welcomed, since defence was impossible and unwise. Every class had its reason for wanting to submit, which was always nonsensical. Rick men alleged that they wished to collaborate with the Nazis in order to keep their wealth, though the racial theory of Hitlerism made it obvious that Nazi conquerors of France would have no interest in protecting French Nazis, simply because they were not German. Roman Catholic reactionaries longed for Hitler to come and destroy the free thinking democrats they loathed, forgetting that the child of the Los von Rom movement was unlikely to treat their own faith with any special tenderness. The Front Populaire workmen in the towns shrugged their shoulders and contended that under the Nazis they would be no worse off than they were already, although all their German analogues were in concentration camps. The governing classes, though apparently active as ants, had no relation whatsoever with reality, even by means of the ideas which had engendered the parties to which they belonged. Charles Peguy once remarked that "l'interet, la question, l'essentiel est que dans chaque ordre, dans chaque systeme, la mystique ne soit point devoree par la politique a laquelle elle a donne naissance." That catastrophe was accomplished in the perspiring and meaningless political life of Paris. All these people achieved unity in their common preparation of the altar on which they were to offer themselves as a sacrifice. For, almost without dissent from a single group, they diverted the money that should have been spent on tanks and aeroplanes and poured it into the Maginot Line, which could not fulfil any defensive purpose since it was unfinished and could be outflanked. Lest this should not be enough, an immense army of traitors sprang up to meet the Germans as soon as they crossed the frontier and handed over fortress and bridgehead, railway and canal. Neither in them, nor in the fugitives who choked the roads and prevented the loyal French forces from resisting the invaders, was there any sense of shame. There could be no cause of shame in a nation that found itself consummating the martyrdom to which it had dedicated itself. Lest the world should miss the significance of this solemn and exultant surrender, two soldiers of the sacred French Army once led by Joan of Arc, two soldiers who had not been careless of glory in their prime, Marshal Petain and General Weygand, announced it in voices which age paradoxically yet appropriately caused to resemble the bleating of young lambs. France, they said, was corrupt and must be regenerated by defeat. It is hard to guess what this could mean save that they were governed by the myth of Kossovo, of the rock. There was nothing Christian in such speeches. Long ago the Church had declared that its altar required nothing but "the reasonable and unbloody sacrifice" of the bread and the wine. This was the propaganda of black magic, of paganism.

Now we in England stood alone. Now we, who had been unchallenged masters of the world, were poor and beset like the South Slavs. The brightness of an exceptional. summer was about us, and we believed that this would immediately be blotted out by an eternal night. But the experience was not so disagreeable as might be supposed, for we had lost our desire to die without defending ourselves, and it was that, not danger, which was horrifying. The most terrible death is subject to the same limitations as the most beautiful girl, it can only give what it has got. But voluntarily to play a part in an act of cruelty, to subscribe to a theory of the universe which supposes a God capable of showering down blessings in return for meaningless bloodshed, that is to initiate a process of degradation which is infinite, because it is imaginary and not confined within the limits of reality. From that hell we were suddenly liberated, by forces which it is hard to name. Perhaps the Germans, by the nastiness of their campaigns, acquainted us beyond all possible doubt with the squalor of this rite in which we were about to be involved. Perhaps there is a balance in our souls which is hung truly between life and death, and rights itself if it swings over too far in the direction of death. Such an equipoise can be noted in Shakespeare's King Lear, which above all other works of art illuminates the sacrificial myth: he set out to prove that the case for cruelty is unanswerable, because kindness, even when it comes to its fine flower in love, is only a cloak for ravening and treachery, and at the end cries out that love is the only true jewel in the universe, that if we have not found it yet we must go on mining for it till ere find it. So we go deep into the darkness and recoil to light in the supreme work of our English literature, and that was our course in the supreme crisis of our history. We offered up to death all our achievement, all that was ours down  to our physical existence, and over-night we took that offer back. The instrument of our suicidal impetus, Neville Chamberlain, who had seemed as firmly entrenched in our Government as sugar in the kidneys of a diabetic patient, all at once was gone. We had sloughed our John Cantacuzenus. Now we were led by Winston Churchill, who cannot be imagined as wanting to die, though he would die if a more liberal allowance of life mould be released by his death, if it were the necessary price to pay for the survival of his country. Thereafter all was easier.

Certainly it was easier. It was good to take up one's courage again, which had been laid aside so long, and feel how comfortably it fitted into the hand. But it has not been easy. How could it be anything but agony! All that time, when poor France broke and ran, we looked into the fact of destiny and it was made of steel. It seemed that we might be treated like the French, like the people in the Low Countries, like the Czechs like the Poles. And when our fear made that allusion it turned us cold for the Czechs and the Poles need have suffered nothing if we had not been weak and mad with this strange folly of cringing to our executioners. Never to the end of our days shall we be clean of that stain. Often, when I have thought of invasion, or when a bomb has dropped near by, I have prayed, "Let me behave like a Serb," but I have known afterwards that I had no right to utter such a prayer, for the Slavs are brothers, and there is no absolution for' the sins we have committed against the Slavs through our ineptitude. Thus we were without even the support of innocence when we went to our windows and saw London burn; and those who see the city where they were born in flames find to their own astonishment that the sight touches deep sources of pain that will not listen to reason, the same that grieve so wildly when one's own kin die. We may recognize that the streets that are burned are mean and may be replaced by better, but it is of no avail to point out to a son weeping for his mother that she was old and plain.

This has seemed to me at times an unendurably horrible book to have to write, with its record of pain and violence and bloodshed, carried on for so long by such diverse peoples; and perhaps the most horrible thing about it is that, in order to carry out my intention and show the past in relation to the present it begot, I have to end it while there rages round me vileness equal to that which I describe. Now all Europe suffers as the Slavs, under enemies harder to conquer than the Turks. It might be held that there is no ground for hope anywhere save the possibility that man will over-reach himself in his assault on his own kind and so become extinct. This may happen, and may be no occasion for tears. A world where there is no solid ground, only blood and mud poached to an ooze by the perpetual tramping back and forth of Judases seducing one another in an unending cycle of treacheries, of executioners who say chop-chop and hear it said in their own ears before they have time to clean the axe: who would prefer this to a world at peace under the snow of universal death?

Yet I believe that that choice does not have to be made. If human beings were to continue to be what they are, to act as they have acted in the phases of history covered by this book, then it would be good for all of us to die. But there is hope that man may change, for two factors work on him that might disinfect him. One is art. These days have given us a chance to test the artistic process, and judge whether it is a tool that does honest work or whether it simply makes toys for the childish. Now there is fear to distract us, now there is desolation to put up a counter-argument to any argument. We start a gramophone record, and from it there radiates the small white star of light that is, say, "Deh vieni, non tardar," the song of Susanna as she waits in the garden for the happy night to fall, at the end of The Marriage of Figaro. There bursts across the whole sky above, there bursts across the earth below, the huge red star of light that is a high-explosive bomb. Surely the huge red star will consume the small white star. But it is not so. On the contrary, the huge red star withers at once. The bowels writhe to perceive it, but they immediately unknot, and the attention dismisses it, unless it is accompanied by some fantastic circumstance, a comic spatch-cocking of victims against a wall, a Versaillesque ascension of the prodigious waters of a main. But the attention does not relinquish the small white star of the song, which is correct, permanent, important. "Yes," we say in our beings, heart and mind and muscles fused in listening, "this is what matters." "What matters?" echoes the astonished reason. "Can you say that a bomb which might have blown you to smithereens matters less than a song supposed to be sung by a lady's maid, who, however, never existed, when waiting for the embraces of a valet, who, also, never existed?" "Yes," we reply. For those of us who before the war loved pictures, music, and good writing find that in these days their delights are intensified. I remember wondering, when I sat in the restaurant on the Frushka Gora and a Mozart symphony poured out through the radio, whether there was anything at all in the lovely promise that seemed to be given by the music, or whether it simply happened that the composer had imitated in a melody the tones of a human voice speaking out of tender and protective love. Now it seems to me that I can only have felt the doubt because I did not then know the ultimate insecurity which comes from a threat not merely to one's individual existence but to the life of one's people. I now find it most natural that the Dalmatians, in peril like our own, built churches and palaces, deliberations in stone on the nature of piety and pleasure, under the seaward slopes of hills that were heavy on their crests with Turkish fortresses, and desolate to landward with the ruins of annihilated Bosnia. I find it most natural that the Macedonian peasants should embroider their dresses, that they should dance and sing. For, of course, art gives us hope that history may change its spots and man become honourable. What is art? It is not decoration. It is the re-living of experience. The artist says, "I will make that event happen again, altering its shape, which was disfigured by its contacts with other events, so that its true significance is revealed"; and his audience says, "We will let that event happen again by looking at this man's picture or house, listening to his music or reading his book." It must not be copied, it must be remembered, it must be lived again, passed through those parts of the mind which are actively engaged in life, which bleed when they are wounded and give forth the bland emulsions of joy, while at the same time it is being examined by those parts of the mind which stand apart from life. At the end of this process the roots of experience are traced; the alchemy by which they make a flower of joy or pain is, so far as is possible to our brutishness, detected. What is understood is mastered. If art could investigate all experiences then man would understand the whole of life, and could control his destiny. This is a 'force that could destroy the myth of the rock itself, and will, no doubt, a thousand years hence. No wonder we reach out to lay hold on such a force when we are beset with disgusting dangers.

But such deliverance will not come soon, for art is a most uncertain instrument. In writing this book I have been struck again and again by the refusal of destiny to let man see what is happening to him, its mean delight in strewing his path with red herrings. Within these pages a prime minister falls dead, crying out his belief that he has been killed by order of a king who is shortly to fall dead, crying out in his belief that he has been killed by order of that same prime minister; whereas they had both been killed by order of a body composed of two parties of men who could not guess at each other's motives, so much opposed were they in character. This might be taken as a type of any complex historical event. And if people are severed one from another by misapprehensions of fact and temperamental differences, so are they alien from reality by confusions connected with the instruments which are all they have to guide them to it. The mind is its own enemy, that fights itself with the innumerable pliant and ineluctable arms of the octopus. The myth of the rock entangles itself with the Christian legend, so that religion at once urges mankind to go on all fours and to stand up facing the light. Art cannot talk plain sense, it must sometimes speak what sounds at first like nonsense, though it is actually supersense. But there is much nonsense about full of folly packed so tight that it has assumed the density of wisdom. The figure standing on the balcony of the little house outside Bitolj, announcing with his arms that he was about to proclaim deliverance to the plains and mountains, was a scarecrow stored from the weather till it was time to put him out among the fruiting vines. Perhaps half the total artistic activity of man has been counterfeit. The few guides that man has been allowed to help him on his way out of the darkness come to him surrounded by traitors, dressed in their guise, indistinguishable. It is not possible to exaggerate the difficulty of man's lot. Therefore no page in history, not even the bloodiest recorded in this volume, should be contemned.

It would be small blame to any man if he had turned his back on his goal and lived like the beasts, not seeking to know. But there is a gene in him that will not be deflected. On the Montenegrin mountains the old woman walked, making the true demand of art, "Let me understand what my life means." All had failed her: first, centuries before she was born, and miles outside the orbit of her physical life, the larger group, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Slav states which were dispersed at Kossovo; then later the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Montenegrin state; and lastly, the old man sitting at her hearth. But, unpredictably, her seeking spirit did not tire. And in that word, unpredictably, rings our other cause for hope. History, like the human loins, does not breed true. Honour does not always beget honour, crime and genius spring up where no one looked for them. In this volume the most terrible part of all is played by that section of the proletariat which, since the Industrial Revolution, an insane social economy has sent trooping from the country into the towns, to do work that teaches them little, in conditions that make it difficult for them to attach themselves to the existing urban culture. In Italy and Germany and Austria this class fell into the extreme destitution and degradation represented by Mussolini and Hitler, and in France its inertia did much to promote the state of political banditry which led to the tragedy of 1940. In England it was controlled by a national tradition, which transcends the traditions of town and country, and by this was kept from the shame which comes of ignorance and good and evil. It seemed certain that it would prove its worth and change its circumstances by rebellion against the economic injustice which made it what it was, and in that rebellion, and probably not before, it would achieve its splendours. It and its forefathers had furnished the bulk of the individual deeds that in sum made up the heroism of our armies and navies, the fisheries and merchant fleets and mines. But the order of events never hinted that it was reserved for them to create a new form of heroism and perfect it in the same hour that they conceived it.

With my own eyes I witnessed that attainment. While France was falling, and after she had fallen, my husband and I went every evening to walk for an hour in the rose-garden in Regent's Park. Under the unstained heaven of that perfect summer, curiously starred with the silver elephantines of the balloon barrage, the people sat on the seats among the roses, reading the papers or looking straight in front of them, their faces white. Some of them walked among the rose-beds, with a special earnestness looking down on the bright flowers and inhaling the scent, as if to say, "That is what roses are like, that is how they smell. We must remember that, down in the darkness." There is a lake beside the rose-garden, in which there is a little island, where dwarf and alpine plants are cultivated among rocks. Across the Chinese bridge that joins it to the mainland there slowly moved a procession, as grave in their intention to see the gay fragilities between the stones as if they were going to a lying-in-state, The English, as the old woman on the Montenegrin mountains had said, love nature. Most of these people believed, and rightly, that they were presently to be subjected to a form of attack more horrible than had ever before been directed against the common man. Let nobody belittle them by pretending they were fearless. Not being as the ox and the ass, they were horribly afraid. But their pale lips did not part to say the words that would have given them security and dishonour.

What they foresaw befell them. No kind hand stretched down from the sky to reward them for their gallantry and keep them safe. Instead bombs dropped; many inhere maimed and killed, and made homeless, and all knew the humiliating pain of fear. Then they began to laugh. Among the roses, when safety was theirs for a word, they had not even smiled. Now, though their knees knocked together, though their eyes were glassy with horror, they joked from sunset, when the sirens unfurled their long flag of sound, till dawn, when the light showed them the annihilation of dear and familiar things. But they were not merely stoical. They worked, they fought like soldiers, but without the least intoxication that comes of joy in killing, for they could only defend themselves, they could not in any way attack their assailants. In this sobriety, men and women went out and dug among the ruins for the injured while bombs were still falling, and they turned on fire, which it is our nature to flee, and fought it at close range, night after night, week after week, month after month. There have been heroes on the plains of Troy, on the Elizabethan seas, on the fields of Flanders, in the Albanian mountains that go down to the sea, but none of them was more heroic than these.

It could not have been predicted that aerial warfare, the weapon of the undifferentiated mass against the undifferentiated mass, should utterly defeat its users by transforming those who suffer it to the most glorious of individuals. This sly and exalted achievement of history at one stroke regenerated the town-dweller, who had fallen into a position as immoral as that of any prince by being able to vote for wars which had to be waged not by him but by professional soldiers, and lent him the innocence of the front-line soldier; it gave a promise that life can transcend itself, that we are not bound to repeat a limited pattern. This promise was fulfilled during the following year on the other side of Europe by the people whose destiny has been described in this volume. The closing months of igloo saw the Continent sink into a state of degradation not paralleled in any other age. I could not now tell the golden-haired girl in Vienna so confidently that her ignorance of French had cost her the knowledge of a great culture and civilization, since she could answer the longest list of names which I could give her with the single word, "Petain." In Scandinavia, in the Low Countries, and in Czechoslovakia men who had yesterday enjoyed freedom and dignity were dumb beasts of burden, to be hit in the mouth by German soldiers if they showed any recollection of their former state; and the continuing martyrdom of Poland was a warning against the sin of saying nay to evil. There was only one hopeful sign in the whole of Europe, and that divas the resistance of Greece to the Italian invasion which began in October igloo. It was of course obvious that the Greeks need not fear the Italian forces. In the last war the Balkan forces had been very fond of a certain riddle: "What is it that has feathers but is not a bird, that runs very fast but is not a hare, that carries a gun but is not a soldier?" The answer was a bersagliero. But the Greeks knew well they would not be allowed to enjoy their inevitable victory, for the Germans could not afford to let their ally lose, and indeed would prefer to intervene in this area, lest there should be any misunderstanding as to who was going to own it after the war. That the Greeks fought on in spite of this knowledge has been ascribed by some to their descent from ancient Greece, but it is part of the Balkan story. The blood of the modern Greeks is strongly laced with the Slav strain and the petti-coated evzones who dealt with the Italians were predominantly Albanians.

During the early months of 1941 it became obvious that Hitler's intervention was to be expected soon; the British had been too successful against the Italians in North Africa. He found the stage prepared for him. Roumania had long ago been seduced. King Carol, who at the beginning of the war had shown a desire to align himself with the democratic powers, had gradually given way to Axis pressure; but he had been asked to prostitute his country to a degree beyond his tolerance, and in September 1940 he abdicated and crossed the frontier. He left his throne to his young son Michael, a lad of eighteen in whom the faults of a deplorable dynasty had been exaggerated by an ill-judged education, who thereafter governed under the control of a Nazi military and civil garrison and certain Roumanian traitors. The oilfields and mines were handed over to German use on German-dictated terms, foodstuffs were put on the trains to Germany until the land groaned with hunger, the army was put under German tutelage, ferocious punishments were inflicted by Roumanian courts on their own nationals who had dared to protest against this ruin of their people. In February 1941 the British Minister at Bucharest asked for his passports on the ground that Roumania had become a German dependency. Those who regard fascism as a natural and healthy development of the modern state, spoiled by some flaws but on the whole an advance in the direction of law, should note the depravation that this transformation had brought with it. Rou-mania had always, in spite of the gifts of its people, been noted for disorder and corruption; but its past now seemed a golden age. The arrival of the German Nazis meant privilege and protection for the Roumanian Nazis, the Iron Guard, who were a set of cut-throats and racketeers, long the terror of all decent people who were trying to earn an honest living. The situation was worsened because some of the Iron Guards were less rogues than others, and these, when they saw that the Germans had come not as brothers but as alien robbers, broke into surreptitious revolt. The country is now distracted by the worst kind of gang warfare.

Meanwhile Bulgaria was suffering a similar abasement. Whatever the royal family had done to preserve the country, it could do no more. All through the early months of 1941 thousands upon thousands of Germans entered the country as tourists; the Prime Minister announced in Parliament that Bulgaria could achieve its destiny only by harnessing itself to the Axis powers, and all the airfields and ports were in German hands. Here, too, the extension of German influence meant a retrogression from the native standards of civilization. The invading Nazis worked in collaboration with the criminals who had formed I.M.R.O. after it had been corrupted by Italian money: and these gunmen and blackmailers, white-slavers and drug pedlars, whom the joint action of King Boris and King Alexander Karageorgevitch had driven back into the rat-holes where they belonged, came out again and jostled off the streets the normal Bulgarian men and women, who, till the rise of Hitler, had been living in greater serenity than their kind had known for a thousand years. By the month of March there were half a million Germans in Bulgaria, and every trace of honourable and independent national life had been suppressed.

Now the position of Yugoslavia was desperate. It was now wholly encircled by the Axis powers and their victims; for Hungary, still grumbling and mumbling, "Nem, nem soha," had become a vassal as pitiable as France. No aid could reach her from the allies; Greece would not let the R.A.F. use its airfields as bases for an attack on the gathering forces in Bulgaria, on the ground, for which some pro-German influence may have been responsible, that it was at war with Italy and not with Germany. It seemed certain that Yugoslavia could refuse nothing required of it by Hitler. No country that had laid down its arms, no country that had failed to take up arms, had a better excuse for capitulation. When Hitler demanded that the Yugoslavian Government send Ministers to Vienna in order to sign a pact which would make their country subordinate to the Axis powers, it seemed that resistance was impossible.

Yugoslavia was not in an entirely happy position to meet this crisis. It had partially solved one of its major problems in 1939, by giving home rule to a new province of Croatia which included most of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, and Slavonia. This new Croatia had been moderately successful; it had chosen its government from the Peasants' Party founded by Raditch and now led by Matchek, and this had pleased the peasants by agrarian reform on mildly socialist lines, but at the same time had alienated Zagreb and the bigger towns. The crisis which brought about the Croatian agreement had also led to the dismissal of Dr. Stoyadinovitch, who had become a more and more enthusiastic admirer of Hitler, and showed signs of wishing to make himself a Fuehrer. But his path was beset by difficulties; when he followed the customary technique of his kind and transported gangs of young men round the country so that they might attend the meetings he addressed and chant "Vodyu! Vodyu! Vodyu!" (Leader! Leader! Leader!) the local audiences joined in with gusto; but gradually they altered the rhythm, and by the end the halls used to ring with the chorus, "Dyavod! Dyavod! Dyavod!" (Devil! Devil! Devil! ) He belonged to that pathetic order of minor historical characters who say, "Evil, be thou my good," but receive from evil only a tart toss of the head, since Mephistopheles makes it a rule to put back all Fausts under a certain size. It was unfortunate that his successor as Premier, Tsvetkovitch, was only another specimen of the same kind, another representative of the Belgrade clique of financial adventures and place-hunters. But his was a milder case. Rather had he said, "Good, be thou my evil," and prayed to be delivered from temptation. He was fortified but little by Matchek, who became Vice-Premier, and brought to the task too few and too simple ideas, and still less by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, a professional diplomat named Tsintsar-Markovitch. This man had never been accredited to London or Paris or Washington, and he had for long represented his country in Berlin. There he had learned to regard the Balkans as comically backward and the Germans as the proper rulers of the world. It is also to be noted that he was the nephew of that General Tsintsar-Markovitch who was shot on the same night as King Alexander Obrenovitch and Queen Draga. This may have induced in him a certain preference for taking the safer road.

These Ministers conducted a more or less dignified Government during the first eighteen months of the war, in close co-operation with the Regent, Prince Paul. This co-operation was the object of much suspicion throughout the country. All those who were in no position to judge, all the peasants and the intellectuals, particularly in the provincial towns, were convinced that he was pro-Axis and was only waiting to hand over ho people to Hitler; but those who really knew him believed him to be inspired by British sympathies. Certain English diplomatic representatives in Belgrade held this opinion very strongly, and seemed to be confirmed by certain actions of the Government. When Dr. Stoyadinovitch's pro-Nazi propaganda became too blatant he was interned in a small Serbian village. But for the most part the Government trod the familiar path of appeasement, with the familiar results. It fell into economic serfdom. It sent its agricultural produce to Germany in the quantities demanded, even when the igloo harvest failed, and there was not enough for the home market. By January 1941 bread prices had risen by 157 per cent over the 1939 standard. In return Germany sent Yugoslavia such manufactured goods of which she happened to have a surplus, irrespective of whether they were welcome or not, and it altered the rate of exchange in its favour. But there were signs that not only in the economic sphere was German influence paramount. The Minister of War, General Neditch, looked over his shoulder at Roumania and came to the conclusion that if Yugoslavia were not to suffer the same fate it had better go to the assistance of Greece and drive the Italians out of Albania before Hitler could send his armies into the Peninsula. He was at once dismissed and replaced by a pro-Axis general. As time went on, and the situation developed according to General Neditch's apprehension, the Government refused to take any precautionary steps. They would not, even secretly, hold any conversations with the British or Greeks.

It could not be doubted, therefore, that the Yugoslav Government would accept Hitler's invitation to Vienna, and there would jump through any hoop held up to them. Immediately before, it is true, it had made a gesture of independence by deporting Dr. Stoyadinovitch and putting him in the hands of the British authorities in Greece; but this was an astute move which at once removed him from the possibility of injury at the hands of anti-Nazi Yugoslavs, and placated them. On March the twenty-fifth Tsvetkovitch and Tsintsar-Markovitch toed the line and took the train for Vienna. There Ribbentrop received them in the Belvedere, the superb baroque palace which was built for Prince Eugene of Savoy and was the home of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek, which looks over the lawns and fountains of its terraced gardens to the spires and domes of the city which has added so much beauty to art and. so much infamy to life. In these high rooms, which are full of a cold secondary brightness reflected from ancient gilded mirrors and immemorially polished floors, the Yugoslav Ministers were asked to sign the familiar Tripartite Pact by which every country devoured by the Axis binds itself not to lift a finger against its devourer. They were also asked to pledge themselves not to permit in their territories any activity directed against the Axis, and to bring their national economy into harmony with the New Economic Order of the Reich. This would mean, as it had meant to all the other subjugated countries, enslavement of the national mind, starvation of the national body. There was also imposed on Yugoslavia an ignominy peculiar to the moment. The pact bound it to permit the passage of German war-material on the railways to Greece; and it was not to retain the right of inspection of such traffic. This meant that troops also would probably be carried. Thus Yugoslavia was forced to help Germany to knife in the back a Balkan brother, her kin by blood and tradition.

In order that the Ministers might be able to put up some sort of defence when they went home, the Germans inserted clauses which guaranteed the existing frontiers of Yugoslavia and promised it an outlet on the Aegean Sea. But this was a grimace, which popped the tongue out of the leering mouth, for Germany had already promised the Bulgarians substantial slices of Yugoslavia, and some of these actually barred the way to the Aegean Sea. The same spirit which had invented these clauses must have smiled to see that when Tsvetkovitch and Tsintsar-Markovitch signed this degrading pact they were watched by Count Ciano and the Japanese Ambassador. The presence of Count Ciano committed several offences against delicacy. The blood of King Alexander and of many Yugoslav peasants and policemen was on his hands; at a moment when his people had made themselves the laughing-stock of the world by their poor performance on the battle-field it was not fitting that he should gloat over the abasement of a people who had never failed in courage and had been defeated only by the defection of other and stronger powers; and he was grinning at shame and ruin inflicted by one who was preparing to shame and ruin his own Italian compatriots. The presence of the Japanese Ambassador violated a more fundamental standard. Although the Germans have pondered so long on the problems of race, they had not realized that it is never right for a white man to behold the humiliation of a black or yellow man, never right for a black or yellow man to behold the humiliation of a white man. When Hitler received Tsvetkovitch and Tsintsar-Markovitch after the ceremony he presided over such a situation as is dear to his heart. No concession to human dignity had been made. As the Ministers went back to Belgrade that night they must have had one consolation, and one consolation only. Henceforth their people might live in slavery, but they would live. No Yugoslav need die before the term of his natural life.

But Yugoslavs did not want the life thus bought for them. With their subtlety they saw it for what it was, with their simplicity they spat on the hands which offered it. For many days, ever since it was first whispered that Yugoslavia was to be asked to submit to the yoke of Germany, the whole country had been declaring that it would prefer resistance and death. There was no class that did not make its protest. Although the Army had been peppered with pro-Axis generals the officers grimly demanded that they should be allowed to fight alongside the Greeks. The intellectuals who did not use the same spectacles as the army now saw eye to eye with them. Four Cabinet Ministers resigned, and Tsvetkovitch found it hard to replace them. Many civil servants resigned their posts, from the Governors of Croatia and the Vardar province, down to humble folk who when they left their offices walked out into starvation. The priests and monks of the Orthodox Church preached to their congregations that they must not let the Government sign them away to an alien domination which cared nothing for good and evil, and would not allow the Slav soul its own method of doing the will of God; and the Patriarch Gavrilo went to Prince Paul and bade him not misuse the power of the Regency to destroy the state which had been left in his care. But fiercest of all were the peasants. Everywhere they crowded into the towns and villages to cry out against the shame that the Government was forcing on them.

When it became known that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs had been to Vienna and had signed the pact, the passion of the people blazed up into a steady flame. Now the police would no longer use their weapons against the demonstrators or arrest them, and the Army was so disaffected that all troops, including officers, had been confined to barracks. The whole country demanded that the pact must not be ratified, and that arms must be taken up against the Germans. It must be realized that this demand was not made by people who were ignorant of what modern warfare means. Many of those who were most insistent in their call for action were middle-aged and elderly people who had known in the last war what it was to be wounded and hungry and homeless. Moreover they had all followed the news and were well aware of what aerial bombardment had done to London and Rotterdam and Berlin; and some of them remembered the first use of aeroplanes in warfare, when the Serbian fugitives were bombed as they fled across Kossovo. It must also be realized that these people knew quite well that if they made war against Germany they would certainly be defeated. There were a few communist boys and girls who, not realizing that Stalin was still as devoted a practitioner of the policy of appeasement as Neville Chamberlain, believed that if they stood up against Hitler Russia would put out its strong arm and protect them. But for the rest no Yugoslav was under the delusion that his small and ill-equipped and encircled army had any chance of victory against the immense mechanized forces of Germany. He was also well aware of the kind of vengeance that Hitler would take on a people who combined the offences of being Slav and having resisted him. He knew very well that he must soon be in the hands of the same sort of jailers that had taken care of Princip and Chabrinovitch.

To Prince Paul, who was essentially though accidentally not a Serb, the aspirations of his people must have seemed inconveniently extraordinary and extraordinarily inconvenient. He dealt with the situation in his own way. He welcomed the returning Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs at a suburban station of Belgrade, telegraphed a message of thanks to Hitler, sending him "good wishes for the further prosperity of the great German people," and later took train for Slovenia, where he had a villa near Bled. Some thought he meant to decamp over the frontier into Austria, but this is improbable, for he left his wife and children in Belgrade. Merely he wanted to rest, to pretend that nothing was happening. While he was travelling through this country, in which he had never struck root, though he had no other, in which, with his facile but uncreative artistic temperament, he had been a kind of gipsy, Belgrade woke again from the sleep in which she had spent the last few years and was possessed by the genius of her history, harsh, potent, realistic, demonic, furtive, and nocturnal. Late on the night of March the twenty-sixth, the wife of General Dushan Simovitch, Chief of the Air Force, was puzzled because he was so wide awake. He expressed the opinion that perhaps he had drunk too much coffee. At half-past two in the morning he was still awake, and showed no surprise when there was a knock at his front door. "What does all this mean?" she asked. "Only," said the General, "that there has broken out a revolution, and I am the leader of it." She answered, in a wifely spirit, "Nonsense, it's no use telling me that you are the leader of a revolution!"

Her incredulity was not unnatural. General Simovitch, who was fifty-eight years old, had never been a fire-eater. He had not been one of the regicides, and he had not belonged to the Black Hand. In appearance he is like many Yugoslav officers: he is tall and spare, but his thick neck would take a deal of breaking; he has a pouched, deliberate, humorous eye, and a weatherbeaten skin. He was admitted to be a brilliant soldier and was an acknowledged authority on tactics; but he had five times been dismissed from important posts for reasons that were both creditable and, under his handling, amusing. The first of these famous disputes concerned two students of a military college whom he ploughed in an examination although they were relatives of an influential politician; the later ones concerned more serious matters. In such controversies he showed to advantage, for he was possessed of a subtle wit that could express itself in simple terms, and with apparent artlessness, in the half-smiling grumble of the old soldier, could pin down a character or a situation with a phrase that the most lapidary author could only envy. This felicity was supported not only by considerable intellectual gifts but by the kind of sturdy character that comes of an honourable family and national tradition. He was descended from a Herzegovinian who had fled to Serbia at the time of the revolt against the Pashas, and had become a true man of the Shumadiya, fighting for national independence under Karageorge and Milosh Obrenovitch and begetting sons that took his place in later wars. What General Simovitch liked best in the world was his little country property outside Belgrade, but he was not averse from power.

Because of this man's instructions stealthy figures, murmuring passwords, had slipped through the shadows of the city all night long, effecting certain changes. But this was not as other nights that Belgrade had known, for there was but little bloodshed, and that through accident. Picked Air Force troops, joined by three out of the four battalions of the Royal Guards, and by other army units and many of the police, seized the important Government buildings. Most of them were surrendered without a blow by guardians who had received warning, but it unfortunately happened that the message sent to the police in charge of the radio had gone astray, and they attacked the party who came to take it over from them in the belief that they were Germans in disguise. Nowhere else was there any loss of life. Tsvetkovitch and Tsintsar-Markovitch were awakened out of their sleep, which was probably not very deep, and were courteously put under arrest. A message was handed into Prince Paul's sleeping coupe to ask him to return. He reluctantly broke his journey at Zagreb and, after a visit to the Governor of Croatia, took a train back to Belgrade. Meanwhile General Simovitch had been to Dedinye to tell the young King that he must assume power at once, instead of waiting for his eighteenth birthday in September. There he was setting foot on the most dangerous ground in the area of the revolution. But he gave orders to the Royal Guards who surrounded the Palace not to fire on the Royal Guards inside the Palace, who had, owing to certain timid or alien influences, not joined in the coup d'etat; and as the King had given these men orders not to fire on the troops outside, the entry took place without incident.

The boy in the Palace had spent a day of solitary but intense excitement. On the previous evening the court officials, who had been dropping certain hints for some time past, had made the quite definite statement that his people had turned against him and that unless he locked himself in the Palace he would be assassinated. On the whole the boy was convinced by this story. He had been taken from school to attend the funeral of his murdered father when he was only twelve years old, and he knew the history of his country, so it seemed to him not improbable. He took two pistols out of a cupboard where he had hidden them and carried them about with him all day, in order that he might not have to meet his fate in a passive way. From his father he had inherited a stiff and reticent kind of physical courage, and that was not the only characteristic he owed to his family and his Serb blood. Like a creature of the wild, he was leery of traps. He did not commit himself entirely to his court. He had been educated, according to the democratic tradition of the Karageorgevitches, in the company of half a dozen boys of representative Serbian parentage, with whom he had to learn his lessons and play games on equal terms; and these boys were accustomed to ring him up at Dedinye on a private line. Some time before the King had contrived to get the telephone company to put in a new private line without the knowledge of his entourage, and he had entrusted the number to one of these friends, a boy named Kostitch. All the morning of March the twenty-sixth the King sat in his room not daring to make a call, but waiting to snatch at any incoming message. At noon Kostitch rang him up, and the King asked him if it were true that his people wanted to kill him. His friend answered that nothing could be less true, that it was Prince Paul and the Government that were hated, and that soon a revolutionary force would come to the palace and set him free to rule over them in the moment of their rising against Germany. After this whispered announcement that he was to be asked to lead his country into disaster and could only look forward to death or imprisonment or exile, the young King was at ease. But the news that the people outside his Palace were his friends meant that those around him were his enemies, and he continued to carry his pistols. They were under his pillow when he was awakened to see General Simovitch.

At eight o'clock in the morning the exhilarated boy drove in radiant sunshine through Belgrade, which rejoiced as if he were returning from victory instead of being about to lead them to defeat. From the city palace he issued a proclamation declaring that he was about to assume royal power, that the Army and the Navy had put themselves at his disposal, and appealing to the Croats and Slovenes and Serbs to stand firm round the throne. The crowd that gathered in the street to see him show himself on the balcony gave rapturous cheers and crossed the town to the Palace of the Patriarch, and the Patriarch Gavrilo came out and offered up thanks that the dynasty had put forth a King to protect the honour of the Serbian people when it seemed about to perish. Perhaps his tongue slipped, but he spoke the truth: this was indeed a drama played by the Serbian rather than by the Yugoslav people. The coup d'etat was planned and executed by men of the Shumadiya, of the same stock as Karageorge and Milosh Obreriovitch. But during the day a Cabinet was formed which included representatives of all the three peoples, and all shades of opinion among them. This added to the joy of the people, when evening came and the lists of the new Ministers were posted on the walls, for they had regarded national unity as a poet might regard a poem he had never been able to finish. "Whatever happens after this," an old man said, "nothing better could have happened, at last we are all together." The only conspicuous figure who did not act according to the grand style of the occasion was Dr. Matchek. He had not felt any great revulsion against the signing of the pact with the Axis, though Hitler had cruelly mistreated some of the Croats he had found in Vienna, and he had not been one of the Ministers who had resigned in protest; and when it appeared that General Simovitch's Government contained some Serbs who had opposed Croat autonomy, Dr. Matchek felt doubtful about the possibility of collaborating with them, although that problem had been virtually settled two years before and was not likely to be reopened. Ultimately he abandoned this attitude, and became once more Vice-Premier, but not till several days later. History has made lawyers of the Croats, soldiers and poets of the Serbs. It is an unhappy divergence.

During the day public opinion hardened against Prince Paul. State papers were studied, officials interrogated, suspicions followed to their sources. It turned out that the peasants and provincial intellectuals, who had no means whatsoever of knowing what was going on in Prince Paul's head, had been right about his attitude; and the experts who had intimate knowledge of him were wrong. He had for some time been pro-Axis. His lack of resistance to Nazi claims was not only due to the feeling, which any scrupulous person in his position must have shared, that a Regent had not the same right as a reigning monarch to pledge his country to an expensive policy; nor was it due to the lack of respect he had naturally enough felt for Chamberlain's England and distrust of it as an ally. It was the result of a genuine admiration for Hitler's personality and a desire that Yugoslavia should throw in its lot with the winning side. So strongly had he held this view that he was actually responsible for the pro-Axis actions of those whom observers had believed to be far more Nazi than himself. Tsvetkovitch himself, clinical professional politician though he was, had not been the cynic of this crisis. He had presented to Prince Paul an admirable memorandum on the invitation to Vienna, which pointed out that no matter how Yugoslavia might act it was faced with material doom. If it resisted the German demands, the country would be over-run by German soldiers and officials, and its fields and mines and forests would be raided, and national life would be at an end; and if it yielded to the German demands, precisely the same would happen. There was little difference in hunger and oppression between Holland and Roumania, Belgium and Bulgaria. There was, of course, the very great difference that in the case of resistance innumerable Yugoslavs would meet death or injury under aerial bombardment and in warfare with invading troops. But this was not the ultimate consideration. For some day the rule of Hitler must pass; it could not endure for ever. Then, if Yugoslavia had moved against him with pride and courage, those that conquered him would have to admit it as comrade and grant it full right to exist in whatever new order of Europe might be instituted. But if Yugoslavs behaved like cowards, no one would respect them, not even themselves, and they would remain abased for ever. Therefore Tsvetkovitch desired Prince Paul to give the Government permission to refuse Germany's demands. This is a characteristically Serbian point of view, and is based on their experience of Turkish conquest, and their emergence from it. But Prince Paul was not sympathetic and persuaded Tsvetkovitch to act against his judgment and make the journey of humiliation to Vienna. Because such hidden dramas as these were now made plain, there grew in Belgrade during the day the fear that, since Prince Paul had not been so passive as people had supposed, he might be much more active, and that he might call on certain corrupted elements in the country and declare a state of civil war in Germany's interest. Many people, particularly in the Army, believed that for the sake of security he ought to be shot.

At seven o'clock in the evening General Simovitch went to the station to meet the train that was bringing Prince Paul back from Zagreb. He had given orders that another train was to be ready to proceed to the Greek frontier. When Prince Paul arrived the General drove with him to the War Office, one of the largest buildings in the administrative quarter on the east side of the city, so often denounced by travellers for its tastelessness and mediocrity. When they went into the hall of the War Office the General said, "We must take the lift up to the first floor," but before they could get into the lift an officer stepped forward and told Prince Paul, "No, you must go by the staircase." The words must have sounded like a knell in his ear, so terrible have these spare and dedicated men become in those hours when the subjects of their dedication have seemed to them to have forgotten the terms of their common hieratic faith. With a self-conscious smile Prince Paul murmured, "Your chief tells me to go by the lift, and you tell me to go by the staircase. Which of you am I to obey?" "It is better that you should go by the staircase," said the officer, and General Simovitch told the Prince that perhaps they had better go that way. His kind of Serb knows his people's temper as a peasant knows the weather. But it was not, as Prince Paul must have feared, violence that was awaiting him. The staircase was broad and high; and on every step stood two officers, one on each side, who said, as Prince Paul passed between them, "Long live the King!" These lines of men, holy and fierce like angry angels in their hatred of the ruler who had conspired against their death and salvation, transformed this commonplace feature of a building, quite undistinguishable from a thousand others in the minor capital cities of the world; and now it resembled such emblematic architecture as fills the distances of those Serbo-Byzantine frescoes, which convert the false rounded shapes seen in our weak corporeal eyes into the angular likeness of reality. The presence of Prince Paul on this scene was a profound incongruity, for though he was a lover of painting he had never appreciated these frescoes. To make a complex subject easier for the connoisseur and the art dealer, Byzantine art has been very elaborately graded, largely by experts who have never seen most of the surviving specimens, and the Serbian school, along with others which are difficult of access, has been marked low. It was a consideration which, for all his sincere aesthetic feeling, would have affected him. In the small room to which he was taken at the top of the stairs he made no difficulty about signing the deed of abdication which was presented to him; and when General Simovitch said, "And now I await your orders," he asked only to be allowed to leave the country. The next day the train which had been made ready took him and his family to Greece. He stayed for a short time in Athens, and later went to Kenya.

Once that faint alien personality had gone the scene closed up behind him and became wholly Serbian, wholly a fresco of the Nemanyan age. At Dedinye the Patriarch administered the oath of accession to the young King in the presence of the new Cabinet, and afterwards they attended a thanksgiving Mass at the Cathedral. Peter Karageorgevitch II stood rigid in his kingliness, as the earlier dynasty in their jewelled tunics and colossal diadems; the soldiers stood firm about him, content because his majesty made visible before their eyes the state, the life of their people; the priests and monks of the Orthodox Church, like those who had worn the white cloaks marked with black crosses in old time, completed the scene with their assertion that salvation and damnation are real things, and inflict the extreme of bliss and the extreme of woe; and the women who beheld them grieved like the Mother of God on the walls of Dechani and Grachanitsa, amazed at the bitter taste of tragedy, but not spitting it out because it was the sacramental food which goodness was dispensing in that hour. For a time the scene was still as a fresco. Germany asked the new Government for a ratification of the pact signed at the Belvedere Palace, and received a refusal, combined with the assurance that Yugoslavia was willing to be neutral and favour none of the belligerent powers. This reply was followed by a stunned pause. Then a familiar sound was heard from the German broadcasting stations. They broke into squawking complaints that in the streets of Yugoslavian towns inoffensive Germans had been set upon and beaten, and German shops had been looted, and that in the German settlements in Slovenia and by the Danube villages had been wiped out and farms burned. These announcements were given out in the tones of a hysterical woman accusing a man she had never seen of having raped her, whooping and lickerish and lying. The Consul-General of Lyublyana performed what was probably the most heroic act ascribed to any German since the Nazi domination. Knowing himself henceforward the victim of an ineluctable vengeance, he issued a statement branding all allegations of the mishandling of German minorities in Slovenia as totally untrue, and thanking the Yugoslav Government and people for the kindness and loyalty they had shown to their "Swabs" when they might well have turned against them. But the matter of veracity was, of course, beside the point. The radio campaign was simply a warning to Europe that yet another innocent people was about to perish.

Why did the Yugoslavs choose to perish? It must be reiterated that it was their choice, made out of full knowledge. On none of them did their fate steal unawares. Their leader, General Simovitch, knew that he could lead his army only to defeat which could not long be delayed. When he had been Chief of Staff' some years before he had worked out a scheme of national defence, perfectly adapted to this crisis, which provided against attack from any quarter by concentrating the reserve armies in the central districts and building radial roads as lines of communication. But his successor pigeon-holed this scheme and by a disposition of his own had drawn a cordon of troops all round the country, with a terrible gap on the Bulgarian frontier, from which he had too optimistically conceived, no attack was now likely to come. In existing conditions this disposition meant that the German mechanized forces would pour into the country from every direction, would simultaneously pierce the front at a number of places, and would be able to cut off and surround the several defending armies. The situation was perfectly understood by all military ranks, and the vast crowds who thronged the churches and took communion showed that the civilian population were not behind them in understanding. This determination to resist oppression and bleed for it rather than submit and be safe cannot be explained, any more than the resolution of the English town-dweller, by fearlessness. These people, being artists, knew death for what it is. The young soldiers who talked with Dragutin on the slopes of Kaimakshalan knew that the ghosts around them whimpered, "Yao, matke! Alas, Mother!" and could not overpass the bitterness that had befallen them on the battle-field. My friend Militsa has a most delicate mind, most delicate flesh, and both would flinch before the spreading chill of the grave. Nor were they governed by the myth of the rock, they did not desire defeat as a coin to buy salvation off an idiot god, they did not offer themselves up as black lambs to an unsacred priest. The appetite for death that comes on all human beings when they have enjoyed the fullness of life, because we as yet know only the swing of the pendulum and not the motion of growth, had in the Yugoslavs been glutted by Kossovo and the Turkish conquest. This was a state and a people that, above all others, wanted to live.

Yet in this hour the Yugoslavs often repeated the poem of the Tsar Lazar and the grey falcon, which above all other works of art celebrated this appetite for sacrificial self-immolation. "All was holy, all was honourable," they quoted, looking down from the tall tower of prescience on the field of their coming fate, "and the goodness of God was fulfilled" It was factually inappropriate. In the Yugoslavia of type there was no one who would have bought his personal salvation by consenting to the subjugation of his people, and no one who would not have preferred to be victorious over the Nazis if that had been possible, It was their resistance, not their defeat, which appeared to them as the sacred element in their ordeal. Yet the poem sounded in their ears as s prophecy fulfilled in their action, a blessing given across the ages by omniscience perfectly aware of what it was blessing behind the curve of time, and indeed none who loved them could read it now without a piercing sense of appositeness. It applies; and the secret of its application lies in the complex nature of all profound works of art. An artist is goaded into creation on this level by his need to resolve some important conflict, to find out where the truth lies among divergent opinions on a vital issue. His work, therefore, is often a palimpsest on which are superimposed several incompatible views about his subject; and it may be that which is expressed with the greatest intensity, which hi. deeper nature finds the truest, is not that which has determined the narrative form he has given to it. The poem of the Tsar Lazar and the grey falcon tells a story which celebrates the death-wish; but its hidden meaning pulses with life.

"An earthly kingdom lasts only a little time,
But a heavenly kingdom will last for eternity and its centuries."

Goodness is adorable, and it is immortal. When it is trodden down into the earth it springs up again, and human beings scrabble in the dust to And the first green seedling of its return. The stock cannot survive save by the mutual kindness of men and women, of old and young, of state and individual. Hatred comes before love, and gives the hater strange and delicious pleasures, but its works are short-lived; the head is cut from the body before the time of natural death, the lie is told to frustrate the other rogue's plan before it comes to fruit. Sooner or later society tires of making a mosaic of these evil fragments; and even if the rule of hatred lasts some centuries it occupies no place in real time, it is a hiatus in reality, and not the vastest material thefts, not world-wide raids on mines and granaries, can give it substance. The Yugoslavs, who have often been constrained to sin by history, are nevertheless well aware of the difference between good and evil. They know that a state which recognizes the obligation of justice and mercy, that is to say a state which forbids its citizens to indulge in the grosser forms of hatred and gives them the opportunity to live according to love, has more chance to survive in the world than a state based on the scurrying processes of murder and rapine; and they know too that if a state based on love bows to the will of a state based on hatred without making the uttermost resistance it passes into the category of the other in the real world. Therefore they chose that Yugoslavia should be destroyed rather than submit to Germany and be secure, and made that choice for love of life, and not. love of death.

At dawn on April the sixth German planes raided Belgrade and continued the attack for four days. Germany had not made a declaration of war, and Belgrade had been proclaimed an open town. Eight hundred planes flew low over the city and methodically destroyed the Palace, the university, the hospitals, the churches, the schools, and most of the dwelling-houses. Twenty-four thousand corpses were taken away to the cemeteries, and many others lie buried under the ruins. On April the seventh the German Foreign Once announced that their troops had penetrated twenty miles over the frontier. Thereafter all happened as had been foretold. Invading troops encircled the country. From everywhere came the Germans and the Austrians, their age-old hatred of the Slav now perfectly equipped with the mechanical means of expression. The Italians shamelessly appeared in Dalmatia and Croatia, where by themselves they had never dared to go. In Budapest, four months after Hungary had signed a pact of eternal friendship with Yugoslavia, Count Tele' committed suicide from shame because his Cabinet was ready to give Germany permission to send its troops over Hungarian railways and use Hungarian airports; and now these procurers sent their own troops over the border towards the Danube. The eastern frontier was crossed by the German mechanized forces which Bulgaria had long been nourishing, who brought with them not only the Bulgarian Army but the worst of I.M.R.O. These invaders cut off and cut to pieces the defending forces. On the eighteenth of April the German Government made an announcement that the Yugoslav Army had capitulated, but this was not true. It was given out only in order that the Germans should have an excuse to shoot all surrendering Yugoslavs instead of taking them prisoner. The Yugoslav Army never capitulated, although it was destroyed; and the last remnants of it are still fighting, hidden in the mountains and forests.

Thereafter it was as if drops of black, foul-smelling oil were rolling down the map of Yugoslavia. The Italians were given control of Dalmatia, and as they desire comfortable possession of the Adriatic ports they have ruled without excessive inhumanity save to certain individuals. But in Croatia they are doing what the Germans have done in Roumania and Bulgaria; they have depraved the native standard of order by putting the criminal classes in power over the ordinary decent men and women. The post of Prime Minister, that is to say absolute ruler under Nazi control, has been given to Ante Pavelitch, the organizer of Croat terrorism who had conducted the training camps for assassins in Italy and Hungary, who was responsible for the deaths of countless people in bomb explosions and train wrecks, who personally accompanied the murderers of King Alexander of Yugoslavia to France, supplying them with weapons and giving them instructions, and for this was condemned to death in his absence by the French courts. This sordid specimen of the professional revolutionist is now ruling over the gentle intellectuals of Zagreb, the worshippers at Shestine, the doctors in the sanatorium. In Bosnia, Sarajevo and other tokens have been laid waste from the air; and there all members of the Orthodox Church, all Jews, and all gipsies wear on their arms a common badge of disgrace, and may not travel in public vehicles. Conditions here are bad, but they are worse in Serbia, which Hitler rightly recognizes as the well-spring of South Slav resistance. There large numbers of men and boys over ten have been sent to concentration camps in Roumania and elsewhere, and there is in practice a policy of extermination such as has been directed against the Poles. In Macedonia all Serbs who have settled there during the last twenty-five years have been forced to abandon their property and return penniless to wander in the devastated area in the North. Large districts have been handed over to occupation by I.M.R.O. under its most merciless leader, Ivan Mihailov, and there has been such pillage and massacre that numbers of peasants have fled to the mountains. Many priests and monks have been killed. The mixed population of such towns as Skoplje has irritated the racial purism of the Germans; a number of Turkish Moslems have been executed. This land was already the nonpareil of suffering, but it is now transcending its own experience.

A part of the Yugoslav Army retreated through the mountain passes into Greece, and there fought a rear-guard action beside the British, and of these some soldiers made their way across the Mediterranean to Egypt; some sailors and fishermen escaped by sea; and some civilians reached Turkey, and others, incredibly enough, emerged at Lisbon. The Government sent King Peter out of Belgrade at the beginning of the air-raids, to stay at the monastery of Ostrog, a bleak pigeon-hole in a Montenegrin cliff. They chose this place because it is only a few miles from Nikshitch, which possesses an airfield. When it was seen that defeat was coming very soon, the royal party was told to go to the airfield and wait for a plane to pick them up and take them to Yanina in Greece, which was still in British hands. They sat for some time in Nikshitch, which is a pleasant little stone town set among mulberry trees on a fertile plateau encircled by bare mountains; but the plane did not come, and it was found impossible to communicate with any other Yugoslavian airfield. The Germans had now seized them all. There was nothing to do but take one of the planes which was already on the airfield; and these were all Italian Marchettis. If they took one of these, they would inevitably be attacked by any British plane or anti-aircraft battery which saw them approaching; and it would be impossible to send a message to Yanina by radio lest it should be intercepted by the Germans. They sent a plane ahead of them, but had to start without knowing whether it had got through. The journey was made safely, but only owing to a singular piece of good fortune. As the plane came to Yanina, a swarm of fighters rose up around it, and the pilot, in an effort to convey that this was not an enemy craft, dropped some signals at random. It happened that the British authorities had sent them a message, which they had not received, telling them to declare their identity by dropping almost exactly the combination of signals which the pilot had picked by chance.

From Yanina the King flew to Jerusalem, whence the falcon had flown to Kossovo with the message from the Mother of God. There he was joined by General Simovitch and some of his Ministers, who also had flown from Nikshitch. Two others were shot down during their flight; and some, including Matchek, were trapped in their homes and are in prison. Later the King and his Ministers flew out of Asia across Africa to Lisbon, and then to London, where they now await peace and the reconstitution of their state. They have come to the West not as unfortunate petitioners but as benefactors; for the resistance they had made against Germany had given Great Britain a valuable respite. The Germans, it is now known, had meant to use their forces in Bulgaria not against Yugoslavia but against Turkey, as a preliminary step to an attack on Russia. This step should have been taken in March, to coincide with the coup d'etat of Raschid Ali in Iraq and the German penetration of Syria, and Russia should have been attacked in May by an enemy which already held the subjugated Near East. But the unexpected resistance of Yugoslavia diverted the German forces in Bulgaria from East to West, and prolonged the German advance through Greece until the coup d'etat in Iraq had been suppressed and the English preparations for the invasion of Syria were well under way. Thus the attack on Russia was postponed for a month, and then had to be a frontal attack, delivered without the advantages Germany would have derived from the subjugation of the Near East. The South Slavs had achieved another stage in their paradoxical destiny. They who were among the last to accept Christianity are the last to preserve it in the morning strength of its magic. They who were among the last to achieve order and gentleness are the last legatees of the Byzantine Empire in its law and magnificence. In this war, as in the one before it, they have made out of their defeats great victories, which have preserved the powerful empires that were their allies from the shame of becoming weak like themselves. Now, in this hour when their King is in exile and their hearths are defiled by swine, their state seems as a rock in a shifting world; and all over Europe the sorrowful find comfort in thinking on their history, though it passes from woe to woe. For the news that Hitler had been defied by Yugoslavia travelled like sunshine over the countries which he had devoured and humiliated, promising spring. In Marseille some people picked flowers from their gardens and others ordered wreaths from the florists, and they carried them down to the Cannebiere. The police guessed what they meant to do, and would not let them go along the street. But there were trams passing by, and they boarded them. The tramdrivers drove very slowly, and the people were able to throw down their flowers on the sport where King Alexander of Yugoslavia has been killed.

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