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Enemies of the People? Life in Communist Yugoslavia

Updated on July 15, 2015
WannaB Writer profile image

Barb hates politics, but sometimes feels impelled to get involved on the local level. She believes we must learn from history to stay free.

A Child Who Learned to Be a Survivor

Kosta as a boy about 1949, when he was about 10.
Kosta as a boy about 1949, when he was about 10. | Source

An Unusual Childhood in Serbia in the 1940s

Most of us who grew up during a time of peace have led sheltered lives compared to that of my husband, Kosta, who was born in Serbia in 1939. He lived through the German invasion of Belgrade, which occurred when he was about two and a half years old. The Germans arrested his father to use as a hostage in case of an uprising, and only the hand of God (I believe) brought him safely home. After the Germans left, the Russians came, and Russian officers occupied Kosta's home. He basically had to stay out of the way and was confined to his room, except for meals eaten in the kitchen with his parents, for about two weeks until the soldiers left.

After the Russian officers left, Tito's Communist partisans took over everything, including assigning who would live where. They also determined who would get coal and who wouldn't, to heat their homes in the cold winter. Kosta had a younger brother and an invalid older sister, Rose, who was half blind as a result of having had meningitis.

After the Communist takeover, Kosta's parents, Paula and Dragoslav (called Charlie in Canada and the United States later on) had a lot of visits from friends and people from the university who had joined the Communist Party. The visitors tried to recruit Kosta's parents, who did not want to join. When asked why they were unwilling, they at first gave excuses such as, "We're not smart enough," or "We aren't political."

The friends tried to bribe them with the possibility of serving the Communist regime as ambassadors to other nations, which would allow them to leave the country, but Paula and Dragoslav refused because they did not want to serve the Communist government. When asked again why, they were honest enough to give their real reasons, that they did not like how the Communists operated, using Gestapo-like tactics. Three weeks later they were herded on foot, including the children, to the killing fields, which were close enough for them to walk to. Kosta did not understand at the time what he was seeing -- only that his neighbors who had visited their home and given him cookies when he visited them, were lying on the ground in rows by ditches. He thought maybe they were sleeping.

We will say more about that separately, but for now you need to know it happened. Again, through what I believe was divine intervention, they were released after proving what they were accused of, having worked for the Germans and having German flour in their house, wasn't true. They invited the soldiers to search their house, and they couldn't find any evidence. Most of their neighbors weren't as fortunate. Kosta and his mother never knew the real reason they were arrested or why so many of the neighbors were killed. It was only when his mother had only weeks left to live that the two of them discussed this incident and it was only then, when Kosta was in his sixties, that he understood what he had seen that day.


Do You Believe in Private Property Rights?

After the Communists took over Yugoslavia, the government determined who would live where. How do you feel about this?.

See results

No Enemy of the People

Dragoslav Radisavljevic

One of Dragoslav's Construction Crews in Belgrade circa 1930's
One of Dragoslav's Construction Crews in Belgrade circa 1930's | Source
Dragoslav Radisavljevic around 1950
Dragoslav Radisavljevic around 1950 | Source
Dragoslav as a child with his sisters, probably in he 1920's.
Dragoslav as a child with his sisters, probably in he 1920's. | Source

Moving Again

When Kosta was a baby, his family lived very close to the war department building in downtown Belgrade. In early 1945 Dravoslav moved the family to what he thought would be a safer place, a wealthier part of town, about twelve miles from the downtown area. Americans were dropping a lot of bombs on Belgrade, and this new home was farther from the targets. One of the families in this new neighborhood was the Vladimir Dedijer family, and Kosta played with their daughter. Vladimir Dedijer was a historian and a Communist who wrote much about the war and about Tito.

When Kosta's family was released from the killing fields, they were kicked out of their house and assigned to an apartment in downtown Belgrade until close to the end of 1947. The family of Vladimir Dedijer moved into their house. By this time, Kosta's little brother had died of pneumonia. When he was sick during the winter, Paula could not get coal to heat the house because they weren't Communists. Kosta's sister Rose died in 1948.

This is the background to the story I have asked Kosta to tell on the video titled "No Enemy of the People." To me, this story is one more evidence of the hand of God intervening in the life of Kosta's family.

As Kosta mentions in the video, his dad owned a construction company that provided jobs for many people, but also got him labeled as a capitalist, which was not good for him politically, and, in fact, was the basis for his arrest. The first picture is one of his projects. He is in the bottom right corner of that picture. His crew is pausing from their work for the picture. The other two pictures are labeled and need no further explanation.

Topciderski Park in Belgrade

This park was a very special place to Kosta. He liked to play there as a child. It has some very large, beautiful, and famous trees. In the park is the MiloŇ°ev konak, which was once the residence of the Prince of Serbia, MiloŇ° Obrenovic. In it is a museum of The First Serbian Uprising.

After the arrest Kosta talks about in "No Enemy of the People," Kosta's family made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from Yugoslavia, but they were caught, and all of them, including Kosta, were taken to prison. That is a story I will tell elsewhere.

After all of them were finally released, which took almost two years, they decided that after all that trauma they needed to do something special as a family. They decided to go to Topciderski Park, where Kosta could play, while Dragoslav and Paula quietly made plans for another escape attempt. Dragoslav sat next to Kosta on one of the benches and explained they would be leaving. As Kosta tells the story in the second video, below, he asked his dad, who was an architect and artist as well as contractor, to draw him a picture of the konak, so he would always remember what it looked like. That picture is reproduced for you here, photographed from the original, which Paula preserved and they later had framed after they successfully escaped. I have also presented some more recent pictures for comparison.

Planning Second Escape at Topcider Park

Topcider Park in Belgrade

Saying Goodbye to Topcider Park in 1950

Saying Goodbye to Topcider Park in 1950. Used by  permission.
Saying Goodbye to Topcider Park in 1950. Used by permission. | Source

The Story Behind the Drawing

Kosta tells the story behind the drawing on another hub: A World War II Yugoslav Childhood between 1939 and 1950. In this article, Kosta tells the very exciting story of how his family made their actual escape. The last video in that article is not to be missed.

More Recent Pictures of Milošev konak

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unnported  license, which you can see if you click the picture.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unnported license, which you can see if you click the picture. | Source
The copyright holder of this photo has released it to the public domain for any use.
The copyright holder of this photo has released it to the public domain for any use. | Source

New Beginnings

After escaping from Communist Yugoslavia in about 1950, Kosta's family immigrated to Canada and became Canadian citizens. In 1959 they were able to enter the United States legally and Kosta became a student at UCLA, where I met him. We were married in 1964. Shortly after that, I was proud to sit with Kosta and his family in a courthouse in downtown Los Angeles as they all became United States citizens.

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    • jandee profile image

      jandee 2 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Strange how people have differing stories. I think your story is interesting.

      My good friend was a German Jew. She was tortured terribly in a concentration camp,she was a surviver and lived to become active in the French underground movement organised by the Communists who had no thought for their own safety. Please bear in mind these brave people,many were again captured ,and dragged across Europe in chains

      until they reached the channel Islands where they were used ,if not murdered ,as slave labour.

      regards jandee

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for commenting.

    • wba108@yahoo.com profile image

      wba108@yahoo.com 3 years ago from upstate, NY

      Dont Taze Me Bro- I agree!

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      If we were younger, if the climate were not so wonderful, and if we didn't have so much keeping us here that would be hard to liquidate and make us more mobile, I think we'd leave. About all we can do is try to change things, but the little we can do probably won't make a dent in what needs to be done.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 3 years ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      WBA, the schools are 1/3 of the problem with America today. Another third is our dimwitted leftist government and finally we mustn't forget the breathtaking hypocrisy and stupidity of the media.

      Fantastic hub page WannaB, how's living in Caleftornia doin for ya? You have my prayers!

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I agree 100%. It's ironic that we are going in the direction of the country he had to escape from. I hope God will yet have mercy on us.

    • wba108@yahoo.com profile image

      wba108@yahoo.com 3 years ago from upstate, NY

      Stories like these should be required reading in our our dimwitted leftist schools. The hypocrisy and stupidity of the left is breathtaking.

      The things we take for granted are amazing, God certainly preserved the life and well being of your husband and his family.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      It's hard for some people to think and talk about those times. Even my husband wasn't really talking about them much until just before his mother's death in 2004. She wanted him to understand the experiences he had had that he was too young to really comprehend at the time.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I have not been there, but my father's family is from Triblisi and he spent quite a bit of time in Yugoslavia just before the war. He didn't talk much about it to us kids, but I always sensed it was a tough time---

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Kasman, what's sad is that my husband's family came here so that he would have all the liberty and opportunity that America was known for, and now we are becoming more like what he left. I hope it's not too late to change directions again.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      I love this story. Amazing how The Lord's hand of protection or as George Washington put it, "Divine Providence" intervened in so many ways. Thank you for putting this out there as people need to be reminded how good we "still" have it in the States......but that's about to change. Freedom isn't free. Thanks for the reminder. Great hub, voting up!

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you snakeslane. I was really surprised hearing people congratulate me, since I didn't know until I read the comments. My mail server is down much too often, and it often only lets my mail program through to get mail every couple of hours, instead of every minute as I've set it up to do. But that's another sad AT&T DSL story. I love being able to get my husband's story out so that people can get unfiltered information. Even though my husband was a child when this happened, when he grew to an age of understanding politics and ideology, he was able to ask his parents questions and get to the real story. My inlaws were not political people. They just wanted to be left alone to live their lives in peace, as did just about everyone else after the war was over.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      There's more to that war in the nineties than people who didn't live it know about. The press was not always accurate. My husband's aunt heard the translator for a news story feed an inaccurate translation to a reporter on TV. Too bad reporters have to have translators.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 4 years ago from Canada

      Wannabewriter, Thank you, to you and your husband for telling this story. The first hand account is so powerful. Beautifully presented. Congratulations on being featured Hub of the Day! Most certainly well deserved. Regards, snakeslane

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Savvy, some people have to learn the hard way. People in America don't learn real history anymore. They learn the rewritten version. So history will, unfortunately, will probably repeat itself. It is heartbreaking.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Darknezz, Communism is an essential part of this story. Without the Communist takeover, it would not have happened.

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 4 years ago

      Thank you for a beautiful, heartbreaking story. How anyone can believe communism is a good thing is beyond me. Voted up and awesome.

    • darknezz111 profile image

      Daniel Durand 4 years ago from Southern Idaho

      Isn't this hub supposed to be about Yugoslavia? It looks like the comments are more about proving Obama is a communist.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Steel Engineer, I'll have to find that, though I don't know how watching at this late date will help change anything. I knew in 2007 what things would be like and what direction Obama would go were he elected. That's why I tried to prevent that from happening. We lost. They won.

    • darknezz111 profile image

      Daniel Durand 4 years ago from Southern Idaho

      More religious freedoms were something I was told about. According to my source, the younger generation is trying to move past intolerance, and it shows. People are so scarred by what happened in the early 90's that they're trying to work together more. I suppose that's a good thing, even if it did take a lot of death to get them to that point.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      dark, I went to high school with a man who married a Serbian girl whose family had suffered a lot of what my husband's family did in the 1950's. But he moved to Serbia a couple of years ago after he married this woman. Even we went back in 1972 to visit my husband's relatives in both Serbia and Croatia. Things were much better by then, though we still had to help support some of Kosta's relatives who had been professional people. After they retired they got lousy medical care and they could not get the medicines and vitamins they needed so we needed to send them. Even today, Kosta's cousin is waiting in line for a knee replacement and has been for some time. She is in a lot of pain.

      The beginnings of revolutions are usually more violent that later on when the opposition has been silenced and the people trained to accept the situation for fear of what might happen if they don't. A sort of peace will prevail, but not necessarily prosperity. Things began to improve economically, as more capitalism was reintroduced, and there is also more religious freedom now than there was even in 1972 when we were there.

      I will have to talk to my husband about the reasons for all this, since his relatives are still there. I'm no expert.

    • Steel Engineer profile image

      Steel Engineer 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine

      Every American who thinks these things could never happen in America needs to read the prophecies of the Romanian Dumitru Duduman.

      Also, watch the video "Dreams from my Real Father", a documentary. It conclusive provides evidence as to who Barack Obama's real father is: Frank Marshall Davis, an uber Communist who received orders directly from Moscow during the cold war.

    • darknezz111 profile image

      Daniel Durand 4 years ago from Southern Idaho

      I wrote a paper on Yugoslavia for my International Relations course. I interviewed a man who emigrated to the United States with his family during the civil war in the 90's. From his perspective, most of the people really loved Tito, and the communism he utilized, called Titoism, wasn't that bad. The only reason he left was because of the break-up and the civil war, which only happened because Tito died; without the influence of the war hero who helped fight out the Nazis, old tensions between Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, and Muslims crept out and ultimately led to the Balkanization of the region.

      I'm not trying to say what your husband went through didn't happen- obviously, it did happen. I'm just interested in how things went from your husband's experience in the 1950's to the version of Yugoslavia I was told of in the 1990's. Were the communists more aggressive in the 50's than the 90's? Had many of those who disliked communism already left by then? I want to know, because from what I was told of Yugoslavia under Tito, things were pretty good- is this a case where it depends on who you ask, or did things get better under Tito's communist rule after your husband was forced to leave the country?

      I have the paper posted here to Hubpages. It focuses on the civil war, but the part that goes on about life before the war seems in stark contrast to what you've written.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Your comment to moonlake is the story of history repeating itself. The atrocities we have seen in our life times are not new, just different.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Demi, you are so right. Today in our schools and from our government, people are learning that social justice means forcibly redistributing wealth, not having equal opportunity to earn wealth. Immigrants often have come to America with little more than the clothes on their backs, unable to speak English, yet have somehow worked hard to overcome these obstacles and were able to make a good life for themselves here without government assistance. They came expecting to work hard and for that work to pay off. Now a number of our people, born here or not, are not as motivated to work hard to become successful, because they see their ability to use their wealth as they see fit being taken from them by government officials who want to distribute that wealth in a way that will bring them the most power to take still more.

      Many don't realize that the Pilgrims started out having to share equally what was produced (under the terms of their charter) and they began starving because no one could keep what he produced and some would not produce. So the producers didn't work as hard and there wasn't enough to eat. The colony then decided that people could use what they produced on their own plots of land (private property) and trade what they had leftover, and suddenly people worked harder. Those who had produced before worked harder because their return was greater. Those who had not worked knew the free lunch was over and they began to work.

      It seems every generation in some country in the world learns this lesson the hard way again. There is always some leader who wants more power who will manage to convince people that if his government has the wealth, it will make everyone equally rich. So the people give the government the power to redistribute wealth, the really wealthy leave the country if they can, and the bit that is left makes everyone but the government elite equally poor. In the process of this, to make sure there's enough to go around, some of the dictators, in fact most of them, will slaughter thousands or millions of those those who are considered "detrimental" to society, or "enemies of the people."

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you very much, pstrauble. much of today's generation knows little about World War 2, and much of what they think they know about it lacks accuracy. Names and dates in history timelines don't tell much about how these wars affected civilians at home.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you, RTalloni. It's amazing the people who still have stories to tell who will die before they are ever told. Such a shame that the very people who could draw the stories out of them and preserve them aren't interested. Their lives are too busy to even listen to the stories.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      starchet, we all hope for that. The only problem is that people have different views of what "better place" means, and they tend to fight for it.

    • DemiMonde profile image

      Demi 4 years ago from Mobile, Alabama

      Thanks for such a great hub and very timely. The quiz section, where some think it is okay for the government to take our property we worked hard for, is frightening. Even though it is 80% who don't think it is okay, I can't help but think in the 80's that percentage wouldn't be so high.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      brblog, I did write more, but it's currently not featured. Trying to figure out how to fix it, since the video appears not to be functioning on it, which might account for it. Didn't realize that until it stopped being featured. I also wrote an article at Squidoo on this. I have a few more video interviews as yet unpublished I need to do more with. Thanks for your comments.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Moonlake, as Hubbers we have a chance to tell these old stories which document history with personal narratives. Those young people who don't believe these stories will not be warned by them, and thus are setting themselves up to be the next victims. They are actually being educated to be the next victims.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      @Kawika, Thanks for the suggestions.

      @Fossillady. It's easy to lose hope during tough times. Many of us have forgotten how blessed even our poor are in this country at this time in history, compared to the poor in other countries. Those who have not broken the law are still free to move to where they might might find more opportunity, if they can afford to move. So far, they have the right to associate with whom they will and speak out against those they believe may be oppressing them.

      My main reason for writing this hub was to remind people in America that we cannot take our personal liberty to move and communicate freely for granted, even though it's written into our Constitution. The people can still choose, for their own selfish reasons, to undo the laws that protect them, and a greedy government which claims to act in the best interests of the people can target the rich or upper middle class as enemies of the people. Kosta's family was targeted simply because Kosta's dad owned property and a company the government wanted and his parents did not want to join and serve the Communist party. The Communist Elite were allowed to be rich with what they stole in their redistribution of wealth from people like Kosta's family. Before the war, Kosta's dad scoffed at those who warned they should leave the country, just as many Jews failed to believe they were in danger in Germany. History is sometimes the only warning we get.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      It is so important that Kosta's story and stories like his continue to be told...lest we forget. It is so easy to think the history is past and n'er will be face such atrocities again. And then bam, it happens ....

      As for divine intervention....I do so believe in that premise. My daughter and grandson are a testimony to God's power and strength in our loves. The knowledge that He is with us each and every step we take is a blessing.

      Sending special love and Angels to you and your family.:) ps

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Personal accounts of life in such circumstances are so important to record. Thank you for putting this together. I am thankful that your husband and his family were preserved--so many were not--and that he has been willing to share his family's story. It's wonderful that this is posted as Hub of the Day!

    • brblog profile image

      Bruce 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Great story, I hope you will write more. Most people don't know how common things like these were (and maybe still are in some places in this world). Some made it out, some did not, all suffered, many died . . .

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I had a friend years ago. She escaped from Yugoslavia left her Mom and Dad behind.

      This was such an interesting story. Older people know this is true. Some of the young people don't seem to believe any of this happened to families. Many people died because of Nazis but once the Communists took over many more died.

      Congrats on your Hubbie award. Great hub voted up.

    • starchet profile image

      Chetan Jariwala 4 years ago from San Jose

      captivating story. got me emotional. Hope the world becomes a better place.

    • mr-veg profile image

      mr-veg 4 years ago from Colorado United States

      Nice one ! Thanks for sharing the really informational and interesting hub. Voted awesome and Interesting !

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Amazing story of survival. It's so sad how human beings can be so cold and greedy. Thank you so much for sharing. It makes me feel like there's always hope and I'll remember Kosta's story for a long time. There's nothing more valuable for me right now than to regain hope in the face of unemployment and all that it entails. Kathi

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Nicely done WannaB, very informative, and very historical - nice non-fiction piece that you should consider fleshing out into a nice piece. I hope your family is in good health, and find peace beyond all understanding. God bless. Kawi.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      IntroduceCroatia, thanks for stopping by. My husband's mother was a Croatian, and we still are in touch with his cousin there.

    • IntroduceCroatia profile image

      Ante Rajic 5 years ago from Croatia

      Nice and very touching story, voted up

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      My husband took me to Plitvice when we were in Croatia and it was very beautiful. He also loves the Adriatic Coast. He stayed there on his last trip to Europe in 2006. I did not go. He still wants too take me there, but I just don't want to fly anymore. I'll have to look up that hub. Thanks.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      Praesito wrote a beautiful Hub with photos of Plitvice Lake and waterfalls in Croatia and a friend of mine just returned from an Adriatic cruise which included the Dalmation Coast. If I ever retire, I will buy A SAILBOAT and live on board in the Adriatic Sea traveling from Venice to Croatia to the Greek Islands living on the abundance of the sea until I'm buried at sea.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you, sligobay. You were there about the same time my huband and I want back so I could meet his relatives. They had assured him he was no longer in danger or arrest or conscription by that time. In fact, by then they treated us very well because we were Americans.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      Congrats on your Hubbie award. This was a great Hub and I enjoyed the read. I spent a semester studying in Yugoslavia in 1973 and the country has an amazing history. Thank you.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Kathleen, I think only those who have lived without liberty can truly appreciate what a blessing it is. Those raised with it often take it for granted and are so sure nothing can happen to it they have stopped being vigilant.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What an amazing history for one family. Most of us have no idea what freedom really means. Thanks for giving the rest of us a glimpse of what life can be like in circumstances other than our own.

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks, all. I didn't even know I'd won, since I was out of town this weekend and just got back on my computer.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Congratulations on your win, WannaBwriter. :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Congratulations on winning the Hubbie Award for this interesting hub. It was truly deserving of that honor.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      WBW-I missed this story when it was in the contest. I agree with Cardelean's comment (above) that it is important to have a first hand account of events that brought someone from one country into another...in her situation it is her in laws from Yugoslavia.

      I missed the opportunity to interview my parents and get some of their stories on tape. It would have been an intersting family history.

      Fascinating hub. Thanks for sharing!

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Richard, this is not fiction. Many of my good friends are German and so was my mil part German. I think Germany is a beautiful country. But anyone who has studied history knows that taking hostages (100 Serbian men in this case) was a common practice of the Nazi army when they occupied a city. Then they could threaten to kill the hostages if there was an uprising of the citizens. Although I was not going to expand on this here, since I'm writing another piece to tell other true stories, my fil was released because my mil was able to go to a specific German officer with proof stating he was part Austrian. Those with any sort of German or Austrian blood were not supposed to have been arrested, so he was released. I don't know what happened to the others. I don't think at any point here I implied that all Germans were bad. I am not going to question my husband's eye-witness account, confirmed by his parents, because you seem to think Germans can do no wrong. I know the people this happened to personally. My husband has studied and read the history of World War II extensively, as well as living it as a child. I'd like your proof from a reputable source that this never happened in Belgrade or other cities occupied by the German Army.

    • profile image

      RichardD 6 years ago

      (...The Germans arrested his father to use as a hostage in case of an uprising, and only the hand of God (I believe) brought him safely home...)

      This shows me how biased is your account. It reminds Hollywood movies, Germans are all time bad, they can never have affection or human behaviors.

      Don't turn history into fiction novels.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hi WannaB Writer, now that you've mentioned how important these videos are, I will definitely watch them when I get home. :)

    • WannaB Writer profile image
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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      cheerfulnuts, the videos are one of the most important parts of this, since my husband is telling his eyewitness accounts of what happened to his family and how it happened. I hope you'll be able to get to a computer with sound. I know how frustrating it can be not to have it because one of my computers lost it's sound when I moved it.

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      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      WannaB Writer, I don't know what else to say, except that this is an AMAZING hub. I love the pictures (haven't watched the videos yet because I have no speakers). You've done a great job. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work!:)

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Happyboomernurse, it's a blessing that Kosta didn't understand the full impact of things he saw and how he was being used to make his parents cooperate until after he was out of danger. Some things didn't come out until just before his mother died and they talked over all those things. It's amazing how much children can adjust to their circumstances because of their ignorance of what's really happening.

      Thank you for your congratulations. I enjoyed writing this, and have started a lens on Squidoo I haven't had time to finish yet that covers other parts of this story.

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      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      What a sobering, well told story that makes one realize how important it is to live in a free society. The level of fear living under such conditions must have been horrible and how hard it must have been to lose a child because the parents weren't allowed to have coal.

      Thanks so much for sharing this important story on Hub Pages. Also, congratulations on winning the tug of war, though I must add that this hub was more a tug on the heartstrings due to its moving testimony of what it was like living in Yugoslavia during those times of foreign occupation.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you, Pamela.

      Anne, you are right. History is made by the people who are making events happen, and each has unique background and motivation. Each of us affects history by the decisions we make and the actions we take.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      JSParker, thanks for letting me know. Your hub was also very good, as were all those who made it to the top 14. I'm glad so many got he 25 votes needed for the $25.

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      Anne Harrison 6 years ago from Australia

      An amazing story, and very generous of you to share it with us all. History is the people who lived it, not the books that are written. I look forward to reading your other hubs.

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      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      What a wonderfully told story of heartbreak and a very difficult history. I enjoyed your hub very much. Rated awesome.

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      JSParker 6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Congrats WnnaBWriter! You had the most votes and now you are now in the Tug of War with one other contestant. My hub came in...,.oh, 4th I think with 25 votes. But I'm happy to have that and $25. Best of luck to you!

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Did I win? I am out of town and can't find the announcement of the winners on this computer in this hotel When I left this morning I was ahead with some very worthy runners up right behind me. I've checked the official contest thread and I still don't know what's happening. I do thank everyone who voted for me. How and where does voting take place between the finalists?

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      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      Congrats on your win today~! I am a survivor of many things so I totally applaud your story. Definitely something to think about when we think we have it "so bad", eh? Good luck again~!

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      JLPeterson 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      What a wonderful story...well written and touching. It's so heartbreaking what people had to go through during this time. Great hub...I'm one of your competitors in this contest, but I think you deserve the prize! :)

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for stopping by Bob. I appreciate it.

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      Bob Wantz 6 years ago

      Now I know a little more of the history of my former UCLA dorm roommate. I look forward to reading more of his story. God is great and does marvellous things as Kosta's story reflects.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you, Rhonda. I really appreciate it. It's the first of a few I need to write as I have time.

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      Rhonda (pukeko) 6 years ago

      Barbara, that is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have voted for it.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      akirchner, thanks for you comment. I hope I'm able to do as well as you did, but I'm not counting on it. Everyone wrote so well for this contest.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Jeanne, thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by to read this.

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      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      Incredible story WannaB - and what a beautiful write! Good luck to you in the contest - voted up and beautiful!

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      Jeanne Anderson 6 years ago

      Barbara,

      I am so glad I took the time to read this and hear Kosta's story! My uncle is also a Serb, but I don't know anything of his story. When we go visiting there in September, I am now encouraged to ask him!

      Truly, we Americans don't understand hardship and see God's hand of protection the way people from other places have through the things they have endured. When I read these stories or hear them told, they always amaze me. Thanks for writing this! You certainly have my vote!

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Arne, thanks so much for stopping by to read this. I know it's hard for you to stay for long at a computer, so I really appreciate it.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      aethelthryth, thank you for your comments. I keep saying I'm going to take a break from HubPages, and then they run a contest which is too tempting to resist entering. Let me know when you finish your book. I think Kosta and I would both find it interested.

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      Arne 6 years ago

      Well-done, for documenting Kosta's and his family's trials and odyssey. I am sure your descendants will treasure this short history - and hopefully they will take heed of man's inhumanity to man - and may they be encouraged by your story to love their fellow-men as they love their family.

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      aethelthryth 6 years ago from American Southwest

      Thank you for writing this. Your other articles about your family have been more helpful to my family than I can say. But I had wondered about your husband, thinking that someone with a name like Kosta probably had an interesting story of how he got here. So now I know!

      I am taking something of a break from HubPages while trying to write a book about an Iwo Jima veteran I know. I too want these stories written down while the people who lived through these things that need to be remembered, are still around.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Alexander, i'm anxious to read your hub when you get it written.

      Trish, I agree with you 100%. Also, my husband still wants me to see Dubrovnik. He thinks it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. He loves the Adriatic Sea. God made the scenery. Man made the government.

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      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      In spite of all of the horrors that have occurred in 'Jugoslavia', it is still a very beautiful part of the world.

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      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi again :)

      I live in the UK and I think that we, who enjoy much freedom, should count our blessings. Though there is plenty that we could complain about, most of us are very lucky indeed!

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      Alexander Props 6 years ago

      My father, and my grandfather lived in communist Yugoslavia till it ended.

      My grandfather refused to be in communist party all his life! I don't know the reasons he used to refuse, but he never joined them.

      He is a real hero for me, I'm writing a hub about him.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Angela, since Amazon just cut off California affiliates, I probably won't make anything but a few Adsense pennies and Hub Ads money unless I can figure out how to get a Zazzle affiliate link up for anyone who wants to buy a copy of the drawing done by my father-in-law of the park. It would be nice if I made something in the contest, but the primary reason I wrote this was to let people know that the freedoms we Americans enjoy are precious and special and the reason so many have risked so much to come here. Many of those born here take our liberty for granted and just assume this sort of thing could never happen here. But eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. (I can't remember who said that, at the moment, but it's true.) We need to pay attention to what the people elected to govern us do, and hold them to their oaths to defend and protect the Constitution, which is our only protection from tyranny. It also helps if we know what's in that Constitution so we know if our leaders are letting it govern their actions.

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      Angela 6 years ago

      Dear WannaB,

      I am just browsing examples to see if I could be of service to others and broaden my writing and web skills using Hub Pages as a tool. Your post is awesome. You engaged me as a reader and your topic is not one I would have searched. Love the use of multi media. Gave me a clear picture. Excellent! I didn't see ads in this hub. How r u able to make $ with this post?

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      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, what an amazing account of your husband's history. My inlaws are Romanian from Serbia (Yugoslavia). Although my husband and brother were born in the US, their parents lived in communist Yugoslavia as well. They however lived in a rural farm community. I know that my husband's grandmother grew up in the United States as a young girl and I believe was born here. At one point they tried to get back to Yugoslavia but were unable to so they lived for a time in Germany. If I remember correctly, my inlaws were able to immigrate to the US because of her American citizenship.

      You have made me now want to have my inlaws tell their story for my own children when they are older. Thank you for an amazing account of this journey.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Simone, those of us who have grown up in America have no concept of what the Europeans went through in war time. Our parents talked about sending things to the soldiers, rationing, Victory Gardens, and the Great Depression, but we didn't have to dodge bombs and run for air raid shelters when the sirens sounded. Only our Japanese citizens had a taste of this kind of injustice when they were herded up, lost their homes, and were sent inland to the camps. As far as I know, though, they weren't threatened with death or having their children tortured, and most families were able to stay together. I have friends that were in those camps, too. That chapter of America's history is ugly, but I don't personally know any Japanese American children who endured what Kosta did in Yugoslavia. Even so, It is amazing that so many Japanese Americans stayed loyal Americans after what they endured at the hands of their government.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Gordon, you should share some of your wife's stories. Education does help one make a peaceful escape, but in post war Yugoslavia , the only people who could go to university were those in favor with the government. Kosta's parents knew he could only get higher education in the free world. When the government controls every aspect of life, they also determine how much education a citizen is entitled to and what sort of job he will do, if any. Thank you for you goo wishes. I also hope we still have some more good years together.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Hyphenbird, feel free to share this with anyone you think should see it.

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      Gordon Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      I am always fascinated by stories like this and how people manage to come through unbelievable hardships when the odds are often stacked hugely against them. My ex used to tell me stories of what it was like growing up in Communist Russia and how it was her education that got her out firstly to Germany and on to the UK where I met her but she never personally went through anything like this. Your husband is clearly a remarkable man and I am very glad that the two of you seem to have had so many happy years together following his early life experiences. Here's hoping you have many more of them! :)

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      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Every time I hear someone in America whining, I would like them to read this and view those videos. What an incredible documentary you have put together.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Trish, Kosta took me back to visit in 1972, to meet his relatives, still in the country, some of whom were actually Communists. He was assured it was safe to go back, but I was kind of scared, to tell the truth. We actually got preferential treatment as Americans who were there spending money when it came to things like standing in line to get on buses. Since then there have been some hard times for his relatives, especially those in Croatia, in the past 20 years. Kosta has had to help support them and send them vitamins and medicines they could not afford to get in their own country. Socialized medicine isn't always good to the older folks unless they are politically well connected. The Serbian relatives are better connected politically. We visited both Serbia and Croatia during our visit.

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      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      WannaB Writer, these stories are incredible. I cannot believe the sorts of things Kosta experienced. My goodness! They remind me of the stories my grandmother used to tell me of her time in Paris during WWII. I... well, I just couldn't imagine any of these things happening to me, and I find it really alarming that similar hardships are still being experienced all over the world today.

      You've done a wonderful job at sharing some of Kosta's experiences in this Hub. The photos, the video interviews... everything is incredible! This is an awesome, awesome Hub. Thank you so much for creating it, and big thanks to Kosta for sharing his stories!

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      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi WannaB Writer :)

      Incredible!

      It is a good thing that you are collecting these stories for future generations.

      It is strange that, in theory, communism should be so good and fair, yet, in practice, its results can ofen be really terrifying. I don't understand that.

      I visited Jugoslavia in about 1982 or '83 ~ before it came to and end. But we stayed in what was, and is, Croatia.

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thanks for reading it, Sue. I've heard these stories many times, but even I didn't remember them correctly -- only bits and pieces. As we get older and more aware of our mortality, it seemed important to me to get the stories straight so that they will live on after Kosta is gone.

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      Sue Straub 6 years ago

      I appreciate your writing about Kosta. What a testamony to the Lord and His power. I always remember his smile and cheerfulness. Love in Christ. Sue

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you, Robin. That's all of the story it seemed reasonable to fit into one hub. There is so much more -- life in prison, the escapes, and the killing field themselves. Kosta was only one child in this worn-torn country where thousands of people were killed either by the Germans, the Russians, or the Communists-- whichever happened to be in power. These included several "enemies of the people."

      My in-laws, who could tell even more stories, are gone. I want to get Kosta's eyewitness stories out while he is still alive to tell them.

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      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      What an amazing story of survival and love. Thank you so much for sharing with us. The original videos were amazing and incredibly touching. Very well done!