Monday, November 2, 2015

Three years after being conquered by the combined enemy forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary, Belgrade is finally liberated by the victorious Serbian and French forces of WWI on November 1, 1918.

Belgrade, Serbia. Year unknown. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Aleksandra's Note: The history of Serbia's capital, Belgrade ("The White City"), is a remarkable one. What this one city, situated in one of the most volatile places in all the world, the Balkans, has been put through, what it has endured, what it has sacrificed, how it has flourished, and how it has survived through the centuries instead of being relegated to the wind, dust, and fog of history with only the skeletons of monuments left to prove that it once existed on this planet Earth, is a testament to the perseverance and inner strength of its people, its culture, and its traditions.

After the great victories of the Serbians over the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the first year of WWI, the second year, 1915, exactly a century ago, would bring catastrophic disease and illness to the Christian Serbs, followed by months of relative peace and tranquility. That is, until the first week of October in 1915. It was then that the combined forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany assaulted Belgrade with a vengeance, and this time the Serbs were not to be victorious. Instead of committing mass suicide by staying and defending their "home", where they were now most vulnerable, they would retreat to come back to fight another day. This great retreat of the Serbians, both the military and civilians,
beginning in the last weeks of 1915 and thus right into the very hard days and nights of winter, would become one of the epic stories of WWI. It is perhaps one of the greatest, most inspiring "war stories" of all time.

For three years their beloved Belgrade was lost to them, but then the Serbians returned indeed, on November 1 of 1918, and this time they were gloriously victorious. The Great War "to end all wars" was at its end.

They had come home as victors and liberators, but the pivotal role of the Serbs in the First World War would far transcend just saving their own homeland.

History has not yet given them their due.

Aleksandra Rebic


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