King Peter II of Yugoslavia to President Roosevelt 9

Mr. President: It is with a feeling of distress that I am transmitting to you the latest reports on conditions in Yugoslavia which have reached me from my Minister of War, General Draža Mihajlović. The duty of acquainting you with this tragic account of cruelties and persecutions perpetrated on my country is the more painful since it coincides with my departure from the United States where you, Mr. President, the Government and the people have extended to me the warmest hospitality and generous kindness which will for long remain in my grateful memory.

General Mihailovich reports on the crimes and massacres committed on the Serb population by Hungarians and Pavelić’s10 regime. This report says that these crimes have now reached the point where the city authorities of Belgrade have officially forbidden swimming in the Sava and Danube rivers, because their waters, flowing through regions occupied by Hungary and Pavelić’s government have become contaminated and infected by the massacred human bodies floating in their course. In Belgrade alone during the month of May 760 persons have been executed by the Germans without trial, explanation, or any apparent cause.

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The Bulgarians, perhaps not entirely convinced of the final success of Axis arms, seemed at first more restrained in committing wholesale brutalities against the Serbs. Recently, however, they have embarked on a campaign of such indescribable crimes, especially in the valleys of Morava and Toplica, and these crimes are of such nature and are committed in such wholesale fashion that it seems impossible to believe that any group of human beings can endure them much longer.

General Mihailovich states that the people of those regions fail to understand why no reprisals against Bulgaria have been made by the air forces of the United Nations, and they urgently request that more effective action to this end be undertaken forthwith by my Government in London and by the Governments of our Allies.

At present the Hungarians, Bulgarians and Pavelić’s regime, headed by the Germans are well on their way to exterminating an entire population whose only fault was that it desired to defend its freedom and independence at all cost.

During my visit to the United States I found in you, Mr. President, and in every American I met in every walk of life, not only a deep humanitarian sympathy toward all who have suffered in the defense of freedom, but a firm resolve to defeat the brutal forces of evil where-ever they may be raging in the world. The final victory of the democratic arms will assure a secure life for all men and women who resisted and survived. Meanwhile, my people are submitted to such persecutions that their national survival is in doubt, unless measures are taken to stop the cruel and systematic destruction of their vital forces. I appeal to you, Mr. President, to examine and adopt all such methods as might compel the enemy to discontinue this ruthless slaughter. I beg you to find a way to strengthen my people in their continued resistance to the enemy and in their bitter struggle for survival.

Nothing that the enemy has done or will yet do can shake the confidence of myself and of my people in the ultimate result of this war and in the future of Yugoslavia. Our country will be free. I know that those responsible for the crimes committed will be punished and I know that the inseparable unity of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes will also be an element of strength which will serve to create a just world order, as you yourself had defined it, and which will save the peoples from blindness of the past.

Believe me, Mr. President,

Yours respectfully,

Peter II R.
  1. King Peter II was a visitor in the United States and Canada June 22–July 29, 1942.
  2. Ante Pavelić, head of the “Independent State of Croatia”, a puppet government of the Axis forces.