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Last-Modified: 1994/10/29

From: (Victor Wickerhauser)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.yugoslavia,soc.culture.jewish
Subject: Comparison Belgrade 1993 and Berlin 1935
Date: 2 Sep 1994 17:22:45 -0400
Organization: Yale University Mathematics Dept., New Haven, CT 06520-2155
Lines: 180
Message-ID: <348535INNo1@GOLEM.MATH.YALE.EDU>

Can anyone tell me if the human rights situation in Belgrade is still
the same as described the article below appeared?

[Thanks to S.M.G.]

>From the Sunday, Feb. 14, 1993 Boston Globe
"Fascist-style Campaign of Terror Comes to Belgrade"
By Dusko Doder

BELGRADE -- The music was lively. Excellent Serbian wines were
flowing. It was a typical Balkan evening at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre
restaurant.  Until a sudden chill descended.

Two thugs burst through the doors. They quickly found their victim:
Irfan Mensur, one of Belgrade's most popular actors. They dragged him
out, kicked him, beat him, shouted insults and left him writhing in
agony on the ground.  Nobody tried to intervene.

Mensur's crime? He is a Muslim. He was lucky to escape with his life.

A Fascist-style campaign of terror similar to that in Germany in the
1930s has now reached the heart of Belgrade. Serb President Slobodan
Milosevic is in the process of eliminating or silencing voices of
political opposition and non- Serbs. In a bitter twist of irony, he is
turning what remains of the once- freest communist country in Eastern
Europe into one of its final hard-line dictatorships.

Mensur is just one of the best-known victims of the campaign that
began in the wake of December's Serb presidential elections. In those
elections, Serb-born American industrialist Milan Panic made a good
showing despite being denied access to most television and being put
on the ballot only 10 days before the elections.

Panic people have been among the first to suffer. Anonymous phoned
death threats wake Panic's closest advisers at night.

"My wife is terrified even to take our children to school," said one,
who was too afraid to be named. "She cries with relief when I come
home at night."

The director of the Intercontinental Hotel, Zoran Kojic, was beaten
senseless one recent night. He now hobbles to work, arm in a sling. An
anonymous telephone call informed him why: It was punishment for
holding a Panic election reception and providing the room

Panic himself, though still caretaker prime minister, is daily
humiliated and harassed. No government plane was sent to Budapest to
collect him recently. When he ignored warnings that his safety was at
risk and made the journey to Belgrade by road instead, Yugoslav police
held up his motorcade for five hours at the border.

The most popular form of intimidation is anonymous threats. Letters
with death threats are dropping through the mailboxes of outspoken
critics of the regime. Among the receipients are prominent writers,
actors, union leaders, journalists, professors, musicians and

According to Natasa Kandic, director of the Human Rights Fund, more
than 10,000 persons have reported receiving threatening letters and
phone calls, including poet Matija Beckovic; writers Milovan Djilas,
Predrag Palavestra and Slobodan Selenic; theater director Deana
Leskovar; musician Asim Sarvan and others.

The letters are signed by allegedly conspiratorial terrorist groups
with names such as the "Serbian Brotherhood," the "Black Hand," the
"Serbian Liberation Front," and the "Serb Tigers." The letters are
normally followed up by telephone threats.

Rabidly nationalistic newspapers such as the "Balkan Express" sold by
fanatics on street corners are carrying hit-lists. Such papers are
published by right-wing nationalists inspired by Vojislav "Red Duke"
Seselj. He has long been regarded as the right hand of Milosevic. His
paramilitary army, known as "Chetniks," has been responsible for some
of the worst ethnic cleansing.

Stojan Cerovic, a journalist for the independent magazine Vreme,
voiced the fears of a dwindling outspoken minority. The present
campaign of terror could not in the past have been carried out in
Belgrade, he said. But it is different now.

Cerovic recalled that nobody in the Yugoslav Drama Theatre restaurant
moved to help Mensur.

"In Germany," he said, "they reached that point of no return when
people stopped asking `When did my neighbor disapear?'"


By comparison, from the chapter "How We Were Brought Into Line" From
the book "In Hitler's Germany: Everyday Life in the Third Reich" by
Bernt Engelmann (a German who was sent to a concentration camp for
helping Jews escape the Nazis):

... In the summer of 1935 Kulle's parents took their first vacation
with the children. Kulle's father had received the hoped-for
promotion, and with it, an increase in salary. So they had gone to the
Eifel region for two weeks.  Among the other guests at their hotel was
a painter with whom Kulle's father drank a beer now and then, which
led to some "very interesting discussions," as he put it.

One morning toward the end of their stay the family had breakfast out
in the garden. Kulle's father saw a newspaper lying on the table next
to them, where the painter had been sitting. As the painter went into
the pension, he called out, "Good-bye! Have a fine day!" and threw
Kulle's father a

significant look.

Kulle's father fetched the newspaper and was about to settle down with
it when a couple who had come only the previous day sat down at the
next table. Kulle's parents politely said, "Good morning," to which
the new guests replied loudly, "Heil Hitler!" At that, Kulle's father
hastily said, "Heil Hitler!" and hoped he had repaired the dmage.

But then, as he opened the newspaper and began to read it, Kulle's
father shuddered and went pale. Only after some strenuous thought did
he jump up, crumple the newspaper in ostentatious outrage, and then go
over to the couple at the other table.

"Heil Hitler! Please pardon my intrusion, but something unspeakable
has just happened -- I simply must talk with you, Party member to
party member, as it were," his family heard him say.

And then the two men -- the other was an Untersturmfuhrer in the SS,
as it turned out -- smoothed out the newspaper, examined it, and
discussed it vehemently. "An emigre propaganda rag, published in Paris
by the Jew Georg Bernh ard!"  the SS man could be heard expostulating.
Then Kulle's father came back to the breakfast table, visibly
relieved, while the SS officer went into the hotel to make a telephone
call. Ten minutes later the painter, who was about to set out for a
walk, was seized by two Gestapo agents and taken away.

"We never heard what happened to the man," Kulle said, "and the next
day we went home. Nothing more was ever said about the incident ..."

"Do you really suppose your father had such a guilty conscience
because of that one incident?" Kulle's wife asked. "He was just
protecting himself and his family; he had to assume that the SS
officer could see that he was reading a seditious paper. And then HE
could have been arrested and maybe even sent to a concentration camp."

"That's certainly true," Kulle responded, "but he could also have said
that he found the paper lying somewhere -- while he was walking in the
woods, for instance ..."

"Do you think the Gestapo would have swallowed that? It was morning,
and he was supposed to have found a paper in the woods the afternoon
before and kept it to read at breakfast?"

"You're right, of course," Kulle admitted. "He probably thought he had
only two choices: to risk being caught with that forbidden paper, or
to denounce the other man. He chose the lesser of two evils. Of
course, for the painter it was the greatest evil of all -- and for all
of us, too, in the end, because that's exactly how the system of
terror worked. If he had quietly put down the paper and waited to see
how the man at the next table behaved, it's very likely nothing would
have happened. But my father's nerves weren't steady. He wasn't the
kind of person who denounced out of malice, just a timid man afraid to
lose the civil-service position he had fought so hard for. And it was
precisely because most Germans were timid in that way that the SS, the
Gestapo, and the Security Service had such an easy time with us. The
main thing was that each individual knew or at least suspected how
brutally and ruthlessly the regime dealt with anyone who refused to be
`brought into line' or disobeyed any of the thousands of regulations
and prohibitions. That's how a small minority succeeded in holding the
great majority in check." ...

[Note: I know that the situation in Berlin has improved considerably
since 1945.  I also know that it took a military defeat to get rid of
Nazism.  MVW]

Professor M. Victor Wickerhauser          | "You have 10
Department of Mathematics, Campus Box 1146, One Brookings Drive, |  minutes."
   Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri 63130 USA      | General Sir
Telephone: USA+(314)935-6771;       Facsimile: USA+(314)935-5799 | Michael Rose

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