Letter: Belgrade left out in the cold on VE Day

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The Independent Online
Sir: As British Serbs, we note with dismay that official invitations to attend the VE Day commemorations in London have been extended to Zagreb and Sarajevo but not to Belgrade. This would have puzzled Winston Churchill who said, upon hearing of the Serb-led Belgrade coup of 27 March 1941 which toppled an Axis accommodating government, that Yugoslavia had "found her soul". At the time, the UK stood alone against Nazi Germany.

Belgrade was promptly blitzed by the Luftwaffe while Zagreb hailed its German liberators. Serbia was truncated and subjected to German military rule for the duration of the war. Zagreb, in contrast, became the capital of a Ustasha-run Greater Croatia which encompassed much of Bosnia and Hercegovina. Muslim Slav fascists aligned themselves with the Ustasha. In a visit to Sarajevo, the self-exiled, pro-German Grand Mufti of Jerusalem helped establish the Muslim Slav SS "Handzar" Division.

Your readers may care to reflect upon the following quotation from Kessing's Contemporary Archives for the year 1941; "German radio announced on April 17 that the Yugoslav state was 'in dissolution' and that its reorganisation - in which the Serbs would have no say - would be 'taken by the Axis'."

France and Russia have invited Belgrade to their VE Day celebrations. Why is Her Majesty's Government the odd one out?

Yours faithfully,



Serbian Information Centre

London, W11

3 May