1. Section 1994 - 1996

Part #1

To: John P. Wood at <wood0088@gold.tc.umn.edu>
Date: December 26, 1994
Subj.: Questions by Shannon McCaw

Q1: How do you feel about the current war in the former Yugoslavia? When do you think it will end? How do you think it will end?
A1: Bitter, sorrowful and anxious - if one could express own feelings in short. The worst of all is the political and nationalistic background that started this bloodshed and fratricide, genocide and ethnical cleansing. It's not a WAR or even a CIVIL WAR in the sense the Americans would know it. The ideology of NATIONALISM and FASCISM motivates recent developments in ex-Yugoslavia. This started at mid of 19th century in Serbia. At that time, Serbia was just liberated from Turkish occupation. These two slogans were coined then: "Where a Serb lives - this is Serbia" and "Where a Serb's grave is - that's the Serbs' land." This is the basic ideology for the restoration of GREAT SERBIA what ever it meant during the past 150 years ago.
The end of the present conflict would come, when the leaders of Serbia proper, political and intellectual, drop that ideology described by those two slogans for good. This must happen for the best of all Serbs and all other neighboring nations, some of which are of the same South Slavic stock. When this would happen? The end would come when some 15.000 to 25.000 terrorists including their present leaders could be annihilated. European Nations and USA missed the time to do it before the horrors got to such proportions. No, they didn't want do it and won't make it either.
Somebody else would have to DO IT for them. WHEN and HOW - these are the questions I cannot reply or even guess. I hope soon! Never did I expect that the IRON CURTAIN would collapse during my lifetime. You know what happened in 1989 - it came suddenly and unexpectedly, isn't?

Q2: Do you think that the current war has anything to do with World War II?
A2: Yes, to a certain extend I would say so. The real source of the present showdown goes back to the end of World War I. The victorious forces created a NEW state: the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. In 1918, the King of Serbia became ruler of this new state introducing his dictatorship by 1929. The state became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia then and lasted begin of WWII in 1941. Never before 1918, lived the Serbs, Croats, Slovenians and Macedonians in ONE STATE. The history of cultures, societies and religions did have a different path during the past 13 centuries since these South Slavic tribes came and settled on the Balkan and at South of Europe.

Q3: How did you feel when you heard about World War II for the first time?
A3: I was a teenager without any life experience facing novel and radical circumstances. From the very beginning of WWII in our country (Kingdom of Yugoslavia), I faced anxieties and fears, fatal and irreversible situations. I knew that soon or later I would be involved in that war. What would it be being hurt or mutilated or caught as a POW? How is it waiting on own death? What is the DEATH? Yes, there were so many ideas and illusions not to be or which couldn't be fulfilled due to this dreadful war.

Q4: How did you feel about having to fight on the German side?
A4: Sorry, I don't understand this question. We, at least in my family and many of our friends, knew well that Hitler and Mussolini were FASCISTS and DICTATORS. Europeans learned quite a lot from their history - but not enough to prevent these two fanatics to get to such POWERS. However, there were MANY that sympathized and lobbied for Mussolini and Hitler too. Consider some states' policies like of England (Treaty of Munich - Sep 30, 1938) or USA (large business and industry interests, late entry into WWII only after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, etc.) or Russia (Hitler & Molotov "Bargain of Poland").
What kind of feeling did I have? I was scarred and anxious of my future. Fighting for what? The main objective was to stay alive and not to put own family to any jeopardy. This meant a lot for a young and inexperienced man. (I was born in Osijek, Croatia, in 1925 and was 16 when the war started in Yugoslavia 1941.) The parent's marriage was a "mixed" one as my mother's parents were of Jewish faith. Many relatives and our close friends lived in Yugoslavia. ALL OF THEM - who were either detained for political reasons or abducted to concentration camps for their origin - DIED sooner or later during WWII.
Yes, the WWII played a BIG part in my life. I cannot describe this because of my rather complex life history. One would one need too many explanations to understand all. Also, it would a VERY long answer, a very personal one though. I learned MORTAL FEARS, experienced the INSTINCTS of survival, felt the SCYTHE HUSH over my body - survived the intended and planned MASSACRE of CROATIANS. (Was it not an 'ethnical cleansing' in 1945 already?)

Q5: What were your family's beliefs concerning war or pacifism? What were your beliefs at that time?
A5: How should answer your questions? Try to compose an answer from the above explanations. Your beliefs concentrate on prime instinct for survival. One talked and has considered subjects like despotism and dictate, political oppression and persecution, lack or shortage of merchandises and commodities, hunger and different anxieties, terror, mutilation and fear of death.
Sure, no one sane wishes the war! Is this what you would call pacifism? Once your own or your family's life is threatened you HAVE to defend it. When your household was looted, your house burned, relatives and friends mutilated or killed and so on - the moment comes when you want to avenge. Who is to take on all your fury or rage - and how? The worst humiliation of victims comes from outsiders or by-standers of the GLOBAL POLICY. This happens, when the policy prevents (for any reason?) to punish on time and effectively any aggressor or suppressor. The changes do come when the 'victim' turns up its force against its enemy or tormentor only. Unfortunately too many victims never got to this stage. This wisdom you earn with the age and after a survival only. I wonder whether I had such beliefs at my teenager's? This sounds rather bitter and gloomy, isn't?

Q6: What do you think my life would have been like if I was a 15 year old girl living in Osijek during the war?
A6: Shannon, how could I tell you anything about? Believe me, my generation did not have a happy childhood or teenager's life like one you have it now. I don't know anything about your character and qualities that would allow me to create a scenario in which I could fit you in. You are growing up in a different world and of historical development, other ways of civilization and cultural processes, various social and economical systems etc. That's what matters in an extreme situation, when one gets under duress and threats. Learn more about and from the history - not only about your own country. Find good books and read about other peoples' destiny. Make your own comparisons and get your fantasy working. Put yourself in situations that caused pains, sorrows and distresses to other people. Listen to your heard and mind for the response.

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Email Zvonko Springer at : zzspri@aon.at