Address delivered by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic on the occasion of 100th anniversary of allied relations between the Serbs and Jews and between the Serbs and Americans in the First World War:
“Distinguished descendants of the First World War hero Dr. David Albala, Field Marshal Stepa and of Milunka Savic,
Distinguished descendants of the famous Serbian diplomatic families,
Ambassador Fisher-Kamm and Ambassador Scott,
Allow me at the outset to offer a special welcome to the students present here, young and new future generations of Serbian diplomats.
We have gathered here today to start marking important events, through a number of activities, in the year commemorating the end of the Great War – 100th anniversary of the alliance between the Serbs and Jews and the Serbs and Americans in the First World War; 100 years since Serbia as the first country in the world recognized the Balfour Declaration and called the future State by the name of “Israel” and 100 years since the Serb flag was flown over the White House in Washington D.C. and all public buildings by order of President Wilson.
It gives me pleasure to announce the lecture of a candidate for an Honorary Consul, a descendant of the legendary Serbian patriot and Jewish leader Dr. David Albala – distinguished Professor Dr. John Stevenson from Nevada.
Welcome to the country of your ancestors!
I would also like to inform you that the founding meeting of representatives of famous Serbian diplomatic families will be held later today in my presence. The first President of the Association will be a descendant of Branislav Nusic and Co-Presidents will be descendants of famous diplomatic families Veljkovic – Katarina Veljkovic and Professor Rose Stevenson Goodnight, Vice President of Wikimedia and a descendant of Dr. David Albala. I have been honored to be the first honorary President of the Association of famous Serbian diplomatic families.
Through a presentation of one segment of exhibition panels in the Museum hall, we would like to announce two exhibitions – the Serbs and Jews in the Great War, which will be held in Jerusalem from 15-20 May this year and the other one in Washington D.C. to commemorate 100 years since the Serbian flag was flown over the White House, from 25 – 28 July.
We shall also open to the public two new showcases with copies of archival documents from the U.S. Library of Congress, Archive of Serbia, private collection of documents belonging to the descendants of Dr. David Albala and the National Library of Israel.
The first showcase is devoted to Dr. David Albala and Dr. Milenko Vesnic and commemorates 100th anniversary since Serbia’s recognition of the Balfour Declaration, the first State in the world to do so and the first one to call the future State by the name of “Israel”, on 27 December 1917.
The other one is devoted to Woodrow Wilson and Mihajlo Pupin and gives an events overview spanning 100 years since the Serbian flag flew over the White House on 28 July 1918.
Allow me now to say a few words about the Serbs and the Jews:
Serbia has always supported and understood the Jewish people who selflessly sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom of Serbian people in the First and Second Balkan Wars as well as in the First and Second World Wars. The Jewish people gave 10 national heroes and around 14 generals. We know their names and remember them all.
Serbia was the first country in the world to support the Balfour Declaration in 1917, recognizing it as an initial step towards the recognition of the State of Israel. Our people and our Government supported the right of the Jewish people to their historic ancestral land. Serbian diplomat, Milenko Vesnic, in his letter to Dr. Albala, was the first one to use the name of the future state – “Israel”. The first Serbian statesman and educationalist St. Sava visited Jerusalem way back in 1229.
The 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel will be celebrated this year. It was a long and thorny road. Serbia understands Israel since we are also faced with serious challenges today. Kosovo and Metohija is Serb Jerusalem.
As for the alliance ties between the Serbs and Americans in the Great War, I would like to inform you that I have launched an initiative that Woodrow Wilson be honored by a monument in Belgrade. I would like to remind you that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was a great friend of Serbian people. He ordered that on the fourth anniversary of the attack against Serbia on 28 July 1918, Serb flag be flown over the White House in honor of the Serbs, their victims and triumphs. He told the American people that the Serbs fought in the Great War valiantly and courageously for the same values that the United States was fighting for.
On the occasion of the Serbian Day in Washington D.C. he sent the following telegram to Prime Minister Nikola Pasic, thanking him for the friendship:
“To His Excellency Pasic,
Your telegram sent on July twenty-eight has met with a very heartfelt response in my own heart and I am sure will meet with an equally warm response in the hearts of everybody in the United States.
We know the deep waters of suffering through which Serbia … not only but our profound friendship and an eager desire to help follows your courageous people throughout every stage of the present tragic course of the war. I am sure that justice to Serbia stands at the very top of any … of justice in the thoughts of every thinking and patriotic man in the United States.
Please accept my warm personal greetings.”
When the entire military might of Austro-Hungary descended on Serbia, through cooperation with Mihajlo Pupin and Dr. David Albala he sent millions of dollars in assistance to Serbian people. He was publicly saying that Austria and Germany wanted a war and that the assassination was just a pretext and an instrument of pressure on Serbia which was faced with an ultimatum that no country in the world could have accepted. At the peace conference following the end of the Great War, Serbia remembers his point 11 pertaining to the protection of Serbia’s interests.
Under personal instruction of President Wilson, Kosovo Day was celebrated in the United States and on that occasion, in a statement for the New York Times he said that the fight of the Serb people for freedom, their rights and national identity have to inspire admiration and compassion in every man.
Since Belgrade is adorned by monuments to great people to whom Serbia owes a debt of gratitude for their contribution in the First World War, it will be an honor and duty for Serbia to erect a monument in Belgrade to the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
Today, we need to be visionaries and work together to further promote our relations. This is what we owe to our glorious ancestors.
Glory and gratitude to them.”