A Little More Truth
by V. Todorovic, Public Affairs, SAVA
August 12, 1996
- An Open Letter to David Riesman, Professor Emeritus Harvard University
Dept. of Sociology William James Hall #508 Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear Professor Riesman,
I write on behalf of our organization of Americans of Serbian heritage to express our collective revulsion at the book, Serbia's Secret War, by Philip J. Cohen. I apologize in advance for the length of this correspondence as Cohen's book requires numerous challenges.
By writing the foreword, you belittle academia by stooping to Cohen's bigoted depths. Claiming that the author's "scrupulousness makes clear that he is not 'anti-Serb' out of Zealotry" is untrue and outrageously insulting. Over the past 5 years Cohen has gone out of his way to demean Serbs , associating exclusively with the Croatians in the process. You state, "His account makes clear, there is an important cultural difference between Serbia and Croatia: illiterates could rise to leadership and even to the monarchy, an offensive remark! Apparently you share Cohen's bigoted proclivities. Even more apparent, you seem accustomed to insulting entire races of people, or worse, you are a habitual abuser of hate language. I am confident that if you were not retired, you would never dare put your name on this drivel. You arrogantly besmirch the name of Harvard University by dragging it into the demonization business.
The important cultural difference between Serbia and Croatia is exemplified by the genius of people like Nikola Tesla, the father of the radio and inventor of alternating electrical current, responsible for the industrial revolution of this nation and the world. Tesla was the son of a Serbian Orthodox priest. Or Mileva Maric, a Serb, and Einstein's wife, who researchers now believe was behind his mathematical genius. The real difference is illustrated where honor and integrity count most. There are 8 Serbian Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and the only man in history to receive two Congressional medals was Lou Cukelja, a Serb! He also received the highest decoration given by France, Belgium and Serbia. I agree, there is a difference, when you compare the average Croatian coward to people like Vietnam War hero, Lance Sijan, a Serb. A building at the Air Force Academy is named in his honor, Captain Scott O'Grady, downed by the Serbs over Bosnia, claimed"Sijan as his role model. How compelling that O'Grady used Nikola Tesla's invention of the wireless radio to accomplish his rescue! Serbian military giants include Brigadier General George Karamarkovic of the US Marine Corp, Rudy Ostovich III and General Mel Vojvodich, both Two-Star Generals of the American Army. Ed Radkovich heads Air Force Intelligence in Europe. Thirteen of NASA's top engineers and scientists are Serbs. Following the Apollo disaster, the new escape hatch was redesigned by Danilo Bojic. Mike Vucelic, another Serb, received the Freedom Award for his work in the Apollo program and Velko Gasich was responsible for the B-2 Aircraft. He was an executive vice president of Northrop.
Michael Pupin was a Serbian Pulitzer prize winner. A building at Columbia University is named in his honor. Walter Bogdanich was a Pulitzer winner in 1988 at The Wall Street Journal and Charles Simic, Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, won his Pulitzer in 1990. Dr. Henry Suzzalo, a Serb from Herzegovina, was president of the Carnegie Foundation. Karl Malden, Steve Tesich and Peter Bogdanovich are Serbian recipients of the Academy Award. Pete Vuckovich received the Cy Young Award. Dr. Ninoslav Radovanovic is recognized as the world's leading cardiovascular surgeon. Rose Ann Vuich was the first woman to ever serve in the California Senate. Serbian sports heroes are too numerous to mention in this correspondence. The only Nobel prize winner of former Yugoslavia was Ivo Andric, of mixed parentage, who declared himself to be a Serbian Orthodox. After making this claim, his work was removed by Muslims from the library at Pristina University and from the schools in Kosovo, demonstrating the kind of bigots you support, Professor Riesman. However, I agree with you, there is a cultural difference between the Serbs and the Croats, our illiterates make most Croats appear stupid. [Page 2, Prof. David Riesman]
This book demonstrates that Cohen's five year avocation of Serbian bashing has turned into a profession. Your accolades of him, a man without a single degree in history, makes a mockery of honorable scholarship and demeans your colleagues to worthless intellectuals. And to what end? Even if this book had any merit, though it does not, what is gained by supposedly proving the Serbs "guilty of political maneuvers viewed with 20/20 hindsight? A "Greater Serbia, is a principle theme of this book, but Cohen cleverly omits the historical fact that the Allied Powers' Entente Plan to compensate Serbian with a much larger territory as the spoils of the First World War, was refused by Serbia in 1915. How self-righteous of both of you to ignore the fact that since 1990, the Croatians have succeeded in cleansing 600,000 Serbs and nearly every Jew from Croatia, to fulfill their Nazi dream of a Greater Croatia. Cohen, this self-serving Jew, has even managed to condone the killing of 60,000 Jews in WW II, by the very Croatians from whom he receives his major support. I believe you Jews call this, Chutzpah!
A closer look at Philip Cohen's history reveals that Cohen's grandfather was the personal physician to King Alexander in Belgrade. Cohen's grandfather was dismissed by the King under suspicious circumstances related to gold smuggling and his medical career was all but destroyed,thus providing an explanation for Philip Cohen's psychotic hatred of the Serbs. Revenge by any name is ugly! Cohen and Madeleine Albright, who spent her childhood in Belgrade as the daughter of the Czech Ambassador, have done more to demonize the Serbian people in this war than any other individuals in the United States. Both will go to their graves despising Serbs, all 15 million of us. You have apparently joined in this line of hate mongers, Professor Riesman!
When the Serbs talk about the killing of 700,000 Serbs (Nuremberg figures), in this generation, by their Croatian and Muslim neighbors, it was people of Philip Cohen's ilk who called this "ancient hatreds. He cleverly omits from his book, Hitler's famous remark in 1939: "I have three enemies, the Serbs, the Jews and the Communists. If we are to believe a single word of this book, or, that the Serbs were "fascist, even before the Second World War, as claimed by this author, then why were 1.7 million Serbs killed during the Holocaust? (Nuremberg documents).
It certainly cannot be out of ignorance that there is no reference in Cohen's book to Tito's demand at the end of the war, that 16,000 Chetnik Serbs be deported. With the expert assistance of the British officers in control of that zone at the time, 16,000 Serbs were put in boxcars, believing they were being taken to Italy. The next morning when the train arrived in the Slovenian town of Maribor, these Serbs jumped from the boxcars, not to their freedom, but to the waiting gun barrels of Tito's Partisans who exterminated all 16,000. This omission must be Cohen's idea of "scrupulousness, (your word professor, not mine).
Of the approximately 60,000 Jews killed in Yugoslavia during WW II, Cohen claims that 900 Jews were killed by Serbs in Belgrade by the Nedic puppet government, a claim he often makes without any evidence to substantiate such a charge, no doubt a diversion of our attention away from the 59,000 Jews killed by the Nazi Croats and Muslims! How compelling that Cohen does not mention the 27,000 Jews that survived in Yugoslavia, due to Serbian resistance and the hiding of Jews by Serbian families. After the war more than half of those Jews went to Israel, where Philip Cohen had plenty of opportunity for interviews, but he has not. There are no Spielberg movies made about these brave Serbian families who saved Jews. At the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Serbs were totally ignored as the Museum honored a Roman Catholic woman for saving the lives of 6 Jews.
Nedic, a respected Serbian General, was approached by the Germans, after their invasion of Yugoslavia in April, 1941, asking him to administer the remnants of the Serbian government. Nedic refused. In June, a document was signed by Nedic when the Germans threatened to bring in the Bulgarian Fascists to oversee the Serbian government. However, Nedic signed the document with the stipulation that none of his guards would be used in the war and would remain "home guards. Cohen cleverly omits any reference to this document from his self-serving version of history. But, most importantly, Cohen omits the documents that reveal that Jews also joined the Ustasha and the Partisans and murdered numerous loyalists Serbs. In Cohen's personal secret war against the Serbs, no mention is made that many of the Croatian Nazi officers had Jewish wives. A sticky problem that had to be solved before resolving The Final Solution. Nearly all of those Jewish wives,[ Page 3, Prof. David Riesman], and their children, too, were exterminated, some were even killed by their own husbands and fathers, to prove their loyalty to Hitler. These are not mere oversights by Philip Cohen! The 133 pages of actual text in "Serbia's Secret War are written with extra space between the lines, an old publisher's trick to extend copy to appear greater in volume than what actually exists. Set in conventional type spacing and eliminating the extra-wide borders on the sides and bottoms of the pages, this book would hardly fill 90 pages, demonstrating how limited Cohen's findings really are.
More than 95% of the information contained in this book has appeared in previously published books as is obvious by the footnotes. This information was readily available for the past 55 years. Pretending that these revelations were secreted away and "discovered by Cohen is a ruse! Even his title, Serbia's Secret War, is a gross exaggeration concocted no doubt by a public relations firm, maybe Ruder and Finn? Apparently Serbia's secret war was so secret that no one in the world knew about it but Philip Cohen? What arrogance! Five years ago, this Dentist had no public interest in the Balkans. Now he has become a Croatian celebrity and is being called "a Balkan historian by the likes of Georgie Anne Geyer. His lack of education or degrees in history, any history, seem irrelevant to the media lackies who lap up the lies and distortions with great glee.
Devoting less than 900 words to describe The Ustasha Regime (pg. 88) that exterminated 700,000 Serbs, 60,000 Jews and 23,000 Gypsies, reeks of the deplorable deception used by this book to hide the hideous genocide accomplished by the Croats in 1941. Cohen's book mocks scholarship and makes a contradiction of your career, too, professor! Your introduction would have us believe that Philip Cohen, a man without credentials, has been capable of doing what thousands of dedicated historians, researcher, scholars and professors have failed to accomplish over the years in countless numbers of books and academic papers on the Balkans. Cohen's ability to hoodwink and fabricate political concepts and motives of the past should outrage a former Sociology professor at Harvard University. Are you a co-conspirator, Professor, or just a cheerleader?
In the demonization of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, Cohen used the Bishops words expressed to the press from the window of his cell at Dachau? Since when do we accept the words of prisoners who make public statements under coercion and possibly at gun point? Bishop Velimirovic said, "he was forced to make these statements." The Bishop was a prolific writer. Why is there not a single quote from the dozens of books he wrote in his lifetime to prove his so-called anti-Semitic ideas? This was a dishonest attack. Also, Bishop Velimirovic's speech (pg. 130) about Christ and Pontius Pilate has been made by countless millions of Christians since the crucifixion. Christians have blamed the Jews for Christ's death for 2,000 years. But that is not Cohen's intent. His attempt to demonize one of Serbia's most important religious leaders is the most arrogant of all his insults, indicating Cohen's own personal malice and wickedness. Noteworthy is the fact that no similar attacks were made against Ante Pavelic or Andrija Artukovic, two of the worst Croatian fascists of this century. He even deceptively omitted their most famous quotes: "A good Ustasha is one who can use his knife to cut a Serb child from the womb of his mother," [ Ante Pavelic, 1941], and,"Kill all Serbs and Jews including children so that not even the seeds of the beasts are left." [Andrija Artukovic, 1942.]
This last quote should offend you, Professor Riesman, or, are you too deep into the conspiracy of this book?
"Barabbas treated his voters (the Jews) to drinks in the beer halls of Jerusalem. This is truly the great bell, which every day disturbs the conscience of humanity. Everyone asks himself, "How could that have happened?" And we ask ourselves, "How can that also happen this very day?" For, do you not see, Brethren, that today as well, Barabbas wins elections, and Jesus loses? The cause of the gloomy tragedy of today's humanity can be explained with a single word: for they chose Barabbas in place of Christ. For they have become Barabbases, rather than being Christians. Their goals are barbarian. Their methods, too, are barbarian. Their goal is to elevate themselves and their people to the skies, and to trample all other people and peoples like mud. And their methods are the same as those of the first Barabbas: secret conspiracy, falsehood, rebellion, and blood..." [Bishop Velimirovic, p. 130]
There is little doubt that after 500 years of Ottoman slavery, the Serbian people have a right to despise the Muslim Serbs who betrayed their faith and enslaved their own brothers. After two World Wars in which the Croats sided with Germany, the instigator of these wars, there is not a [Page 4, Prof. David Riesman]
Serbian family in the world today that did not lose relatives to these fascist lunatics. The Serbs did not regain their freedom from the Ottoman Turks, the Austro-Hungarians and the fascists of the First Independent State of Croatia without a healthy and legitimate hatred of their oppressors. That hatred is what kept the Serbian race from being eliminated. Philip Cohen can insist all he wants that the Serbs hate the Jews, but, for every Jew who has had a relationship with a Serb, his nonsense will fall on deaf ears. However, how does this historical revisionist explain why the oldest Jewish Choir in the World is in Belgrade, instead of Israel! This choir was established after the Spanish Civil War when these alleged "antisemitic," and "fascist Serbs" gave a home to the Jews fleeing Spain!
In the book Serbia's Secret War, Philip Cohen avoided interviews with Jews like John Ranz, a Buchenwald survivor and a man who defends the Serbs today. It was more than transparent that Cohen did not want to mar an otherwise clever piece of anti-Serb propaganda with any testimonies from people with firsthand knowledge and experience with the Serbs in this century. Where are Cohen's interviews with Jews who survived the Holocaust and who elected to remained in "Serbian oppressed." Yugoslavia for the past 50 years? Why are there no testimonies culled from the enormous files at the Simon Wiesenthal center from those Jews who gave firsthand testimony that support the Serbs in WW II?
Curiously missing from this book are any references to David Martin's outstanding work, The Web of Disinformation. This foremost scholar on the subject of Yugoslavia was a journalist, political analyst and staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee who also wrote Ally Betrayed and Patriot or Traitor. Or the Aarons & Loftus books, Unholy Trinity and The Secret War Against the Jews, or Michael Lees book, The Rape of Serbia, written by a man who served in WW II along side of Gen. Draza Mihailovic. His book was based on accidentally released British archives. Michael Lees also based his book on his own war diary, substantiated by hundreds of documents of wire reports sent to British intelligence. Philip Cohen has never interviewed Major Richard Felman, another Jew and one of 500 downed American airmen rescued from occupied Yugoslav territory in 1944 with Gen. Mihailovic's help, this single largest recovery of Americans from behind enemy lines in American history was taking place while the Croats were capturing other downed Americans and turning them over to the Germans. Mihailovic, a Serb, received the highest award given by the United States government and recommended by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, The Legion of Merit.
Absent from Cohen's book is any reference to Nora Beloff, yet another Jew, who wrote many outstanding books and articles about the Balkans for a generation. She is revolted by Cohen's book. Nor is there any reference to Avro Manhattan and his numerous books on the Vatican and its underhanded dealings with the Serbian Orthodox people or the duplicity of Roman priests who murdered Serbs with their own hands. More than 1,500 of those criminal priests fled to Argentina with false passports. Would you like the list, Professor? Tens of thousands of Croats escaped Europe with false passports prepared by a Croatian priest, Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic, who ran the infamous "Vatican Ratline." None of this is in Cohen's book! Ante Pavelic, the Butcher of the Balkans in the last war, escaped Croatia dressed as a priest, with a Hungarian passport under the name, Pablo Eranias, with a visa from Argentina. He became the security advisor for Juan Peron, president of Argentina. Peron then issued 35,000 visas to Croat war criminals seeking asylum. Some of those criminals have returned from Argentina to continue their hideous deeds. One of them is Dinko Sakic, the man who ran Jasenovac Death Camp in which hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were liquidated. Cohen disgustingly manages to omit these perpetrators of genocide from the scene of the crime. He also manages to ignore more than a dozen books on Balkan history by Dr. Alex Dragnich, the recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for his outstanding scholarship at Vanderbilt University. Cohen's book is insulting to these people who spent a lifetime in research documenting the life and politics of the people of the Balkans. In his version of Serbian loathing, Cohen cleverly conceals the identity of Ante Starcevic (1823-1896), the Croatian father of hatred, who preached that "self-determination of the Croatian people is only possible at the expense of denying and exterminating the Serbian people." What a repugnant lack of scholarly integrity! [Page 5, Prof. David Riesman]
In his June 22, 1994 article in Zajednicar, a Croatian newspaper, entitled Serbia Issued Anti-Masonic, Anti-Jewish Postage Stamps, Cohen ignores the fact that the so-called "Serbian" stamps were actually printed in Leipzig, Germany, by the Nazis, just prior to their 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia. None of these stamps were produced in Yugoslavia nor were they "distributed in Serbia," a claim often made by Cohen who cannot provide a single stamp with a Serbian cancellation. These stamps were used in Croatia after the occupation, a detail that Cohen cleverly conceals. There is simply no evidence to corroborate the accusation that these stamps were commissioned by the Serbian monarchy before the Nazi attack.
Cohen has also claimed that, "Although data on the Holocaust in Serbia was successfully suppressed until recently, it is now known that the Nazi-installed Serbian government maintained considerable internal autonomy and participated significantly in the destruction of Serbia's Jews, including the direct operation of at least one concentration camp, Banjica."
First of all, the Serbs had not a single concentration camp in WW II, a fact backed by countless documents of the war, from all sides. Furthermore, all historical documents reveal that Banjica was a Gestapo prison in Belgrade in which Serbian nationalist fighters were taken for interrogation and executed. Every time a German officer was killed, 500 Serbs were dragged off the streets of Belgrade and taken to Banjica where they were murdered. Mr. Gavra Meduric, a Serb, is one of the few living survivors of Banjica. He resides in southern California along with a small number of other Serb prisoners of Banjica, yet Philip Cohen has never sought an interview with any of these survivors of this German death camp. Why? Such duplicity and lack of objectivity speaks for itself. Cohen's very words "Nazi-installed Serbian government" should also be adequate to discredit Philip Cohen's assertions of Serb complicity with the Germans. With the Serbian army defeated, what was left of the Serbian government consisted of a few quislings and a couple of traitors, the only value they had to the Germans was to try to force the Belgrade Serbs to capitulate? historical records prove that the loyalists Serbs were not so easily manipulated. Along with Draza Mihailovic, they established the most successful guerilla movement in history. Draza Mihailovic was on the cover of Time Magazine in May, 1942 and was praised for his anti-Nazi war efforts. Cohen omits any reference that the Serbs were the only people in the Balkans to declare war on Nazi Germany and the only nation of people in Europe who did not round up Jews for extermination, THE ONLY ONE! Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Serbs share common graves with the Jews, a fact that no amount of Cohen's historical revision can ever change.
Another of Cohen's absurd accusations is that the Serbian Orthodox Church offered "Theological justification for the persecution and extermination of the Jews," using as his proof a quote from Obnova, December 1, 1941. That rag was organized 2 months after the Nazi invasion and published by the occupying Nazi forces. I remind Mr. Cohen that the Serbian newspaper at the time was Politika, the same newspaper that functions today in Serbia. Why are there no Orthodox Church quotes from that newspaper, Mr. Cohen? It is obvious that Cohen is an admirer of Goebbels; the man who said "Tell a lie a hundred times and it becomes the truth," a concept that Philip Cohen continues to employ. At the time Cohen claims the Orthodox Church was making these "antisemitic" statements, 388 Serbian Orthodox priests and 4 Serbian bishops were murdered by the Croatian Ustasha. In the first two months of 1942, in other areas of Yugoslavia, 92 more Serbian Orthodox priests were murdered by the Bulgarian fascist, Mussolini's Roman Catholic thugs and Albanian Nazi butchers in Kosovo. The Serbian Orthodox Church lost 85% of its priests in the first year of the war, Cohen desecrates their graves and their memory by painting"fascist" on their tombs.
How astonishing that for 46 years the Roman Church and its Vatican failed to recognize Israel. Now this upstart Jew, Philip Cohen, defends their actions. Historical documents reveal that 47 Rabbis were murdered in Yugoslavia in WWII by Cohen's Croatian friends who support his effort today. Not one single Rabbi died at the hands of a Serb. How astonishing that not a single word of these deaths appear in this cesspool of literary garbage.
Vasilije Todorovic, Public Affairs Officer
CC: Neil Rudenstine, President of Harvard Placed on the Internet