Monday, April 04, 2016

75 Years Ago - The "Unlucky Fisherman" and three Serbian schoolmates protesting against Yugoslavia joining the Tripartite Pact in March of 1941 / Memories of Stevan Pirocanac

Aleksandra's Note: 75 years ago, on March 25, 1941, in an attempt to save herself from the onslaught of the Nazi war machine, Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Pact, the Axis military alliance forged by Germany, Italy, and Japan in September of 1940, which was subsequently joined by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and later, the Independent State of Croatia. This action taken by the Yugoslav government in Belgrade on March 25, 1941 inspired massive protests and demonstrations in Serbia against joining the Axis Pact, and "the people" were successful. On March 27, 1941, just a couple of days later, the Yugoslav government was overthrown in a coup d'état that would have massive ramifications for all the peoples of Yugoslavia in the weeks and years that followed. Although many who were witnesses to that tumultuous period of time are no longer with us, we are blessed that some of those witnesses are still living to tell their own personal story of a pivotal few days in history that continue to have profound implications today, 75 years later.

Many thanks to Mr. Stevan Pirocanac of Wisconsin who shared these memories of March 1941.

Aleksandra Rebic


Fountain with the "Unlucky Fisherman" by Serbian sculptor  Simeon Roksandic was placed in Kalemegdan Park in Belgrade, Serbia in 1912.

The "Unlucky Fisherman" and three Serbian schoolmates protesting against Yugoslavia joining the Tripartite Pact in March of 1941.

By Stevan Pirocanac

Whenever I see this photograph I remember March 26th, 1941.

On that day in Beograd and in many cities of Serbia, people demonstrated against the signing of the pact with Germany, and we, the students of different schools, took part in the demonstrations. We, from the Third Male Gymnasium, were unable to do it before noon, since we were stopped and forced to flee, when together we tried to leave our school yard and march toward the center of the city. Nearby was a police station, and the gendarmes, using the butt end of their guns and clubs, did their "job" very successfully. So, we were told that we all should meet after lunch in the big park in Belgrade called Kalemegdan.

After lunch, this time going down the side streets, my schoolmates Branko Boranijasevic and Aleksandar Zurzul and I arrived at the park. To our surprise, we were the only ones there. Uncertain what to do, we stood close to that fountain of the "unlucky fisherman", and all of a sudden we were surrounded by police agents who were yelling at us and clearly ready to arrest us. We managed to, for a moment, escape. We ran to the streetcar that had just stopped at the stop closest to us and jumped on. But, the agents got to the streetcar, too, and yanked us out. They put a thick chain around my and Branko's wrists, while around Zurzul's wrists they clamped a pair of regular handcuffs. We were taken to the main police station, where we spent at least 7 hours, until they let us go home.

So, you can judge for yourself that I have really good reasons to remember what happened on that particular day in March of 1941 so many years ago. Later, Branko was killed by the Yugoslav Partisans in May 0f 1944, while he was with the Chetniks, and Zurzul lost his life as a political commissar, also in May, but in 1945, as a Partisan.

Stevan Pirocanac
April 4, 2016
Wisconsin, U.S.A.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


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