National Geographic : 1970 May
the room where we met to the rolling hills of tragedy beyond. His words tumble out. "On October 20," he begins, "they collected all men between 16 and 60-about 10,000 of us. They herded us into a field just west of town. At 7 a.m. on October 21 they started shooting-a group here, a group there-and the killing lasted all day. Some men were spared: a few butchers and bakers and doc tors, the collaborators, and those who had to dig the trenches to toss in the bodies." Field of Sorrow-and Optimism He grinds out his cigarette, lights another. "I lived because I broke and ran. They re captured me in town. I begged for my life. 'I have a mother,' I said. 'I have a wife and chil dren.' They shot me in the back and shoulder, and left me for dead." With another survivor, Zivojin Zimonic, now head of the Kragujevac Tourist Associa tion, I walked over the flowered field of death. Among 33 monuments here, one depicts a 626 bird with a broken wing. Beside it rest 300 schoolboys, marched there from class carry ing their bags and books, and slain. Mr. Zimonic pointed to a memorial stone on which a few words were carved in imita tion of a childish hand. He said: "The lad wrote them in his notebook. Someone found it later. It says, 'Dear Daddy and Mommy Greetings last time Ljubisa.' He never knew that his father was shot the same day." My host surveyed the tawny slopes, daubed with brilliant patches of begonias and dai sies. The annual observance was only a few days away. "We expect more than 100,000 people," he said quietly. "We do not forget. We show our respect. But we celebrate also. They would want us to. Three years to the day after they died, we regained freedom." Not fatalism but optimism, I knew by now, lies at Yugoslavia's wellspring. Moving south to Macedonia, one of the poorer republics in material goods but rich in spirit, I found that her shining new capital city of Skopje stands as a testimonial to faith and hope. Citadel of the spirit, the Church of St. John Bogoslav crowns a height above Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, south ernmost of Yugoslavia's re publics. Albania's hills ring the far shore. This area, peo pled by farmers and fisher men, abounds with medieval monasteries whose walls harbor a treasure-trove of religious art. The 25-foot-high, 11th century fresco of the Ma donna and Child (right), at the church of St. Sophia on Lake Ohrid, lay concealed by another painting for 700 years, until discovered dur ing recent restoration. The historic region of Macedonia-fought over by Balkan powers in both world wars-today lies partitioned among Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria. Alexander the Great, a native son, stretched his conquests from here to the Indus River in the 4th century B.C .