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The Los Angeles Times, February 3, 1924, p.K11:

The After-War Boom in Belgrade


    BELGRADE—I am again in Belgrade. I visited the city thirty-five years ago when I came around the world from east to west on a sort of honeymoon tour, and I stopped here again twenty years later with my wife and daughter on my second long tour around the globe. In both of these trips I came from Constantinople. This time I have come from the north, riding on the train nine hours from Budapest, the capital of the New Hungary, to this capital of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, or, as it is called, Jugoslavia.

    When I was here last Belgrade was a dead town of 60,000 or 70,000 people. The kingdom was then independent, but Austria-Hungary came right up to its borders. At this point the Save and the Danube rivers come together. They throw their arms around Belgrade, much as the Monongahela and the Ohio throw their arms around Pittsburg; and on the other side of them, to the west and the north, lay the great Austro-Hungarian Empire, rich and powerful, aggressive and domineering.

    The Belgrade of today is live, aggressive and booming. It is the capital of a country eight times as large as Massachussetts, and of a people one-tenth as many as those who claim allegiance to the American flag. The city has been reborn. It is now shuffling off its old clothes, ragged and worn with the age of almost 2000 years, and putting on the frills and furbelows of modern Europe.

    Belgrade has always been a capital of some sort or other. In the time of the Romans, it was known as Singidunum, and had its fortifications. It was a fortress of great importance when the Turks overran Europe, making their way as far north as Vienna, and just about 400 years ago it was captured by one of the sultans. For centuries the people were under the Turks, and it was less than fifty years ago that they became independent and made Belgrade their capital. Indeed, the Turks did not evacuate the fortress of Belgrade until after the close of our Civil War.

    The old fortifications still stand. They are huge forts made of brick and earth with a wide moat running around them, crowning the point where the Danube and Save come together.

Taking a Drive in the New City

    Come with me for drive through the capital. We shall take a two-horse carriage, for here taxis are as yet almost unknown. Now and then we strike a piece of asphalt or a stone roadway, but everywhere the streets are in sad need of repaving. Belgrade was torn to pieces during the war. It was bombarded by the Austrians from over the river, and outside it one may see hundreds of great shell holes which have not yet been filled.

    Within a stone's throw of where I am writing, a new Academy of Science is building, and just over the way is the Franco-Serbian Bank, which would be a credit to Paris. Farther on is the new State Department, which is nearing completion, and on another street they are erecting the new House of Parliament.
    All together it is planned to build twenty government buildings, eighteen public schools, an operahouse, a museum, a library, and a new university. The city authorities have decided to make Belgrade the most beautiful city of the Balkans, and they have offered prizes for plans which shall include the buildings above mentioned, a great athletic field and a system of parks, a zoological and botanical garden as well as four ornamental bridges across the Save and the Danube.
    The plans must also include a number of churches, railway terminals, and harbor improvements. It will take many years to complete all this, but everything will work to the plan.

    Private building of all kinds is being helped by the government. There are no rent restrictions, and all kinds of building materials come in free of taxes. The homes for workers and middle-class people put up within the next two years are to pay no taxes for twenty-five years. Dwelling houses regardless of size are to be exempt from taxation for eighteen years, and apartments and stores combined for fifteen years. It is also provided that the government cannot requisition the new buildings, and all the new laws are in favor of the landlord rather than the tenant. The government passed legislation to prevent strikes, and the result is such a building boom as I have seen nowhere else in my travels.

Twenty Dollars to One Here

    I wish I could show our plasterers of Chicago, who are reported to be getting $20 for eight hours' labor, how the best men of their trade work in Belgrade. They are superior artisans, modeling in stucco, producing artistic creations far above those of the ordinary workman. They are now receiving from 80 cents to $1. This is for the men at the top. Common plasterers get less.
    The same wages are paid to carpenters, bricklayers, and machinists. Common labor receives 30 or 50 cents a day, and the women who help at the building trades, mixing the mortar and fetching and carrying, receive only 25 cents.
    The woman here is almost as much a labor factor as the man. She is to be seen everywhere in the city and especially out in the country. She carries great loads on her back or her shoulders, she hoes and spades in the fields. She rakes up the sheaves of grain, which the men cut up into cradles, and binds them, and she keeps the streets clean.

    It is interesting to see how the influence of the Turks seems to have affected the Serbs. Some of the architecture is Oriental, although most of the buildings resemble those of the great European capitals. The Moscow Hotel, for instance, has great bands of green tiles running around the various stories, and over the way is another huge structure wich is faced with rose tiles. A new bank which has just been completed has doors of wrought iron plated with gold, and the new Franco-Serb bank upon which I have letters of credit has a counting room of mahogany, with heavy brass mouldings running around the base and edges of the counters...
    I am stopping at a new hotel here which claims to be at the top of hotel accomodations in the Balkans. It has a roof garden with an elevator which runs up but not down for the guests, and a cabaret theater where one can wine and dine from 9 p.m. until 5 o'clock in the morning.

    The population of Belgrade has just about doubled since the World War. It had something like 90,000 in 1914. It has about 180,000 at present and it promises to grow right along. Before the war Belgrade had only Serbia, with a population of about 4,000,000, to draw from. It was the capital of a kingdom of about the size of Indiana. Now it is the capital of a land more than twice as large as the State of New York, with a population over 12,000,000.

    The country has half a dozen different races, and the people on the street come from all parts of the kingdom. The most of them are Serbs, big-boned, straight and well built, with dark serious faces and features akin to the Russian. The women are tall and fine looking and both sexes walk with a swing. The Serbs are very independent and they seem bound to make their way in building up the new principality...
    There are also the Serbian peasants in homespun, often of the brightest of colors, with short jackets, their breeches tied tight around the ankles and their feet clad in shoes made of straps fastened to a sole which turns up at the end. There are women dressed even more quaintly than the men, and the whole makes a perpetual moving picture show, which one would come far to see.

    The best place to see the crowd is on Tsaritsa Street from 5 till 9 in the evening. This is a part of the main highway through the city, the roadway of which was paved with wood blocks and laid down by Russian workmen as a present from the Czar Nicholas, after whom it was named. It has wide sidewalks walled with fine stores and the whole makes a good promenade.
    At 5 o'clock the traffic policemen, some of whom are armed with muskets, shut off all carriages and cars from this part of the city, and the people walk back and forth just as they do in the Calle Florida in Buenos Ayres and in the Ouvidor in Rio Janeiro...

    Here and there along Tsaritsa street and in fact on all the streets of Belgrade are cafes which overflow to the sidewalk. There are tables covered with cloths out on the street, with men and women and children sitting around them, drinking, chatting, and reading the newspapers. Some are writing letters, and others may play cards or dominoes...

    During my stay I have met a number of the newspaper men of Belgrade. They are bright fellows, many of them speaking several languages. Two of the men I have talked with are graduates of Oxford, and a third has studied at Cambridge. Nearly every reporter speaks German or French, as well as most of the polyglot tongues of this polyglot nation.
    They tell me their newspaper circulations are small, the largest in Belgrade having only about 20,000 per day. There are small papers scattered all over the country, and many party organs and periodicals of one kind or another. The wages of newspaper men are low, the best writers getting from $10 to $12 a week, and the ordinary reporter much less.

    One of the lowest paid men on each journal is the jail editor. He receives a retainer or fixed salary of 1000 dinars, about $10 a month, with a present after he comes out of jail proportioned to the length of his stay.

    The jail editor assumes all responsibility for anything that appears in the paper. Even if an article is signed [by another reporter]... the jail editor will affirm that the work was his, and when the government orders his punishment, he goes to jail without question. After serving his term, he is taken back on the staff to await [another] offense...

The Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1924, p.J11:

Where Every Grain of Wheat is a Prayer


    BELGRADE — We are again in a motor car this morning, riding through the vast farm lands of the Danube Valley. We have left the blazing white capital of Jugoslavia, have ridden by the trenches where the Serbians lay when Belgrade was bombarded by the Austrians, and are now bumping over the rough stony roads of the country.
    Driving through traffic is particularly difficult. Automobiles are few, and the horses and oxen that haul the rude farm carts of the country grow frightened and jump this way and that.

    The peasants tramping alone and in groups over the country move out of our way, and Mikovitch, our chaffeur, seems to delight in just grazing the girls... Sturdy, stolid and independent, they are dressed in homespun, and both men and women wear the brightest of colors. Both sexes have their feet clad in opantsis, home-made shoes with soles that turn up at the toe, and bound to the feet with a weaving of straps. The straps run round the leg half way to the knee. The shoes seem very comfortable.
    We take note of the farms as we ride, stopping now and then to watch a gang of men and women at work in the fields or to make snapshots of the farm wagons, rude boatlike vehicles, knocked together by the owners, which are carrying men, women, and farm produce over the roads.

    The farming country is different from that of Hungary, through which we motored last month. There the tracts were often enormous, the estates of prewar barons and lords having fields of fifty acres each, cultivated with tractors and modern machinery. There the small farms were ribbons of grass or grain, extending on and on, making great sheets or stripes of various colors sawed together with narrow bands of red poppies. Here in Serbia most of the farms are mere garden patches, or little fields of all shapes.

    Serbia is a land of small farms. I understand there are larger ones in those parts of Jugoslavia which formerly belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but those have been taken over by the government and are being sold on long-term notes to the people. I am told it is hoped to create 200,000 new farms.

The Homestead Law in Serbia

    At present 85 per cent of the population of Jugoslavia is engaged in farming, stockbreeding, and fruit culture. Serbia is inhabited by a peasant democracy. Its people pride themselves on belonging to the land. Nearly every family is a landholder and a man will do anything rather than part with his farm. The number of small holdings is increased by the Homestead Law, which provides that even if a man becomes bankrupt, he can retain free of debt five acres of land, and pair of oxen, and his agricultural tools.
    Another institution which helps the small farmer is an old law by which every man having some land is bound to contribute a part of his corn or wheat to a municipal store which is to be lent to the peasants if they need grain for the next planting, and a third is the custom by which the whole village goes out to help the poor man cut his corn and bring in his harvest if he cannot help himself.

    Jugoslavia is one of the richest farming countries of Europe. It has tens of millions of acres under cultivation and its crops are large. It claims to be the first in Europe in the raising of corn, fifth in raising of wheat, and ninth in the raising of rye. It is next to the United States in the production of corn, and it ranks seventh among the lands of the world in oats, tenth in barley, and ninth in potatoes. It produces also beet sugar, silk, and tobacco.
    The lands along the Adriatic have almost as many vineyards as those of the Rhine. There are orchards everywhere, producing apples, pears, peaches, and plums. Jugoslavia is the Paradise of Little Jack Horner. There are more than twenty plum trees for every family in the kingdom, and the average yield of each tree is about thirty pounds.
    There are about 7,000,000 apple trees, almost 4,000,000 pear trees and more than 3,000,000 olive. Most of the olive trees are in Dalmatia. Last year the country had more than 400,000 acres of vineyards yielding about 70,000,000 gallons of wine.

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    Serbia: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed in 1918; its name was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Various paramilitary bands resisted Nazi Germany's occupation and division of Yugoslavia from 1941 to 1945, but fought each other and ethnic opponents as much as the invaders.

    The military and political movement headed by Josip TITO (Partisans) took full control of Yugoslavia when German and Croatian separatist forces were defeated in 1945. Although Communist, TITO's new government and his successors (he died in 1980) managed to steer their own path between the Warsaw Pact nations and the West for the next four and a half decades.

    In 1989, Slobodan MILOSEVIC became president of the Serbian Republic and his ultranationalist calls for Serbian domination led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. In 1991, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia declared independence, followed by Bosnia in 1992. The remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro declared a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in April 1992 and under MILOSEVIC's leadership, Serbia led various military campaigns to unite ethnic Serbs in neighboring republics into a "Greater Serbia." These actions led to Yugoslavia being ousted from the UN in 1992, but Serbia continued its - ultimately unsuccessful - campaign until signing the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. MILOSEVIC kept tight control over Serbia and eventually became president of the FRY in 1997.

    In 1998, an ethnic Albanian insurgency in the formerly autonomous Serbian province of Kosovo provoked a Serbian counterinsurgency campaign that resulted in massacres and massive expulsions of ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo. The MILOSEVIC government's rejection of a proposed international settlement led to NATO's bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999 and to the eventual withdrawal of Serbian military and police forces from Kosovo in June 1999. UNSC Resolution 1244 in June 1999 authorized the stationing of a NATO-led force (KFOR) in Kosovo to provide a safe and secure environment for the region's ethnic communities, created a UN interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to foster self-governing institutions, and reserved the issue of Kosovo's final status for an unspecified date in the future. In 2001, UNMIK promulgated a constitutional framework that allowed Kosovo to establish institutions of self-government and led to Kosovo's first parliamentary election.

    FRY elections in September 2000 led to the ouster of MILOSEVIC and installed Vojislav KOSTUNICA as president. A broad coalition of democratic reformist parties known as DOS (the Democratic Opposition of Serbia) was subsequently elected to parliament in December 2000 and took control of the government. DOS arrested MILOSEVIC in 2001 and allowed for him to be tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity. (MILOSEVIC died in March 2006 before the completion of his trial.) In 2001, the country's suspension from the UN was lifted.

    In 2003, the FRY became Serbia and Montenegro, a loose federation of the two republics with a federal level parliament. Widespread violence predominantly targeting ethnic Serbs in Kosovo in March 2004 caused the international community to open negotiations on the future status of Kosovo in January 2006. In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right to secede from the federation and - following a successful referendum - it declared itself an independent nation on 3 June 2006. Two days later, Serbia declared that it was the successor state to the union of Serbia and Montenegro. A new Serbian constitution was approved in October 2006 and adopted the following month.

    After 15 months of inconclusive negotiations mediated by the UN and four months of further inconclusive negotiations mediated by the US, EU, and Russia, on 17 February 2008, the UNMIK-administered province of Kosovo declared itself independent of Serbia.
CIA World Factbook: Serbia

Area of Serbia: 77,474 sq km

Population of Serbia: 7,379,339
July 2009 estimate

Languages of Serbia:
Serbian 88.3% (official), Hungarian 3.8%, Bosniak 1.8%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 4.1%, unknown 0.9% (2002 census)

Serbia Capital: Belgrade

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Serbia and Europe, 1914-1920 Marković 1921
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Serbia, A Sketch Reed 1917
Servia by the Servians Stead 1909
Through the Lands of the Serb Durham 1904
Belgrade, the White City of Death Ames 1903
History of Modern Serbia Mījatovīć 1872
Servia and the Servians Denton 1862
History of Servia von Ranke 1847

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Live Stock and the Pie-Maids

    The live stock of the kingdom has rapidly increased since the war, and it now has more than 1,000,000 horses and mules, 7,000,000 sheep, 5,000,000 cattle, and over 3,000,000 hogs. There are thirteen government stations devoted to improving the breeding of horses. Last year the country exported more than 100,000 cattle, more than 300,000 swine, 135,000 sheep, and about 35,000 head of horses.
    There are no fences in Serbia and the live stock that grazes in the fields has to be watched. In our motor trip we see cow-maids, sheep-maids, and even pig-maids herding two or three or more animals in the small patches of grass surrounded by grain.

    The villages here are different from those of most European countries I have recently visited. Most of the towns of Germany, Switzerland, France, and the other lands of Northern Europe consist of houses close to the streets without large yards or gardens. Here the villages are made up of little inclosures joined together but each containing its own three or four or more buildings, with fruit trees and gardens connected with them. There is often a hut, a hay stack, a banked-over, cavelike cellar, and a granary. The houses are mean as a rule although the larger villages have comfortable homes and there are many rich peasants.

    The standard of literacy in Jugoslavia is not high. A large proportion of the people cannot read and write. This is especially so in the old kingdom of Serbia, and in Montenegro and other parts of the principality that did not belong to the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Now new schools are to be started, and the program of education is large. A great desire for education has sprung up since the war.
    Momtchilo Nintchitch, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, tells me that since the new kingdom was formed the college students have increased in number from 2000 to 12,000, and that there are now thriving universities at Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubliana, the capital of Slovenia. The University of Belgrade has now about 8000 students, while before the war it had only 1500...

    Some of the best lands of Hungary were given to Serbia, and there is no richer tract in the world that that which lies along the Danube between the new frontier and Belgrade.
    The moment I crossed the boundary, I could see the marks of the prosperity which now divides the Serbians from the Hungarians. In the Hungarian kingdom there are but few new buildings. That land was ruined by the war and by the fall of exchange. It has no money for repairs and the towns and cities are shabby. Crossing into Jugoslavia the red tiles of new roofs stand out everywhere on the landscape, and new buildings are going up in all of the towns. There is more activity about the stations. There are new cars on the railways, and the locomotives seem to burn better coal.

Every Grain of Wheat a Prayer

    The wheat shocks in Serbia may be an emblem of thanksgiving and those in Hungary application for help. This is indicated by their shape, which is after a superstition current throughout the Valley of the Danube. The people believe that the harvest will not prosper unless the sheaves are shocked in the form of a cross... Rye, oats and barley are shocked in the same way...

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