On this day, October 9, 1934, the Yugoslav King Aleksandar I Karađorđević was killed in Marseilles. The news of the king’s death terrified all Yugoslavs. The country was united for the last time in mourning for the tortured king.
King Aleksandar united almost all the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes at least twice. By marrying the Romanian princess Maria, who became the favorite queen of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes for the second time when he was killed.
Just as on June 8, 1922, with his wedding and wedding ceremonies, he prepared a feeling of satisfaction and enthusiasm for hundreds of thousands of citizens from all over the kingdom who arrived in Belgrade, so his murder of hundreds of thousands, according to descriptions and images of the transfer of remains from Split, via Zagreb and Belgrade to Topola, prepared an indescribable sorrow. The crying of the masses and kneeling by the road where the coffin passed, the funeral in the presence of the most important statesmen from all over Europe, and the departure to Oplenac as a pilgrimage, created the image of unity. Both events were recorded by a film camera.
Many believe that with the assassination of the king, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was killed, which was later reorganized with the creation of the Banovina of Croatia, and then destroyed from the outside, divided and the Serbian people experienced horrific crimes and the genocide in the Ustasha Independent State of Croatia, from those who were accused and convicted of the murder of King Aleksandar.
There is a lot of literature about the assassination of King Aleksandar. The assassination itself was reconstructed in detail. However, the eternal question of all assassinations remains, about the political background. More precisely, who had an interest in removing the Yugoslav king. In addition to internal groups such as the Ustasha and Bulgarian separatists and foreign communists, these are Italy with which Yugoslavia had strained relations around the western borders, German National Socialism on the rise and the Bolshevik regime in Russia, with which the king refused to establish any cooperation. And some neighbors, especially Hungary, which did not accept the loss of territory after the end of the First World War.
The combination of these factors created the political framework and terrain for the assassination of the king. For more than two decades, King Aleksandar was a key figure in events and experiences, turbulent and great events in the history of Serbia, Serbs, and South Slavs. He started and finished the great liberation struggle of Serbs and South Slavs. From 1912 to 1918 he was at the head of his victorious armies. In 1914, he defended the dignity of an independent state and rejected the commanding and humiliating conditions from the ultimatum of the 12 times larger Austro-Hungarian Empire. In these and later events, he was both a military leader and a king statesman, a leader of the people. The war sufferings of the people and the king himself and his sharing of destiny with the army and the people brought him great statesmanship, military, and heroic glory after his victories. Liberation and unification and international circumstances have made him the most important figure in the troubled Balkans and a significant and respected figure in Europe. Thus, he abruptly increased the reputation of Serbia, the Serbian people, and the dynasty in European courts and with the great powers. He turned war alliances and dynastic ties into interstate friendships, and with the system of agreements and alliances, he provided peace and security for his kingdom. He was considered a peacekeeper in the Balkans and Central Europe.
King Aleksandar I Karađorđević was the favorite ruler of most peoples of the kingdom. Images of the king and queen with heirs in their lap and so close to the people created a feeling of happiness, which is a patriarchal environment he likes to see and is proud of, both victories in war and a ruler in peace, to see his ruler with his family.
The king is praised on all sides. He works tirelessly on national unity, sincerely believing that it is the same people that history and religion share, that it has the same roots with three branches, three tribes, from which the Yugoslav nation can be made in one process.
It was believed that the king had the deepest, widest, and widest love of the people. Manifestations of the people to the king, the royal house, Queen Mary, the heir to the throne, and the princes strengthened that impression. The king is the first worker, the king is the host, the king is a good husband and father, the king is a cooperative, and above all a soldier and statesman, the embodiment of national liberation in 1918 and unification. He is the creator of Yugoslavia, the guardian of unity, the guardian of peace in his country, the protector of the poor, the disabled, the national defense pillar.
He is the king of his time, the king in the trench, the king with the people, in the church on Thanksgiving, in visits to all parts of the country.
Black-faced, pale, skinny, with the hero’s squeal on his eyes, he had a secret magical power to enchant anyone he came in contact with. King of rare kindness. He converts and pronounces French beautifully with the precision of expression and with elegance perfectly unknown to other kings.
The special characteristics of the king are the experience of dealing with people, firmness in evaluation, cold-bloodedness, quick understanding, great familiarity and ease of dealing in society and with all social orders.
The newspapers wrote that the king was already on his feet when the first trams rang in the streets, until 7 pm when he received the scheduled audiences. Sam receives letters of credence face to face and welcomes foreign representatives in a friendly manner. “In those hours, tailcoats and jackets with guns and silk embroidered with ruff are often found on the big staircase. Whoever approaches him remains unwaveringly enchanted after the first meeting. From the black eyes under the squeaker, from the royally smiling face, kindness erupted that won over those present. There is a question for everyone…
However, there are other often contradictory opinions about King Alexander Karadjordjevic, both contemporaries, and historians, especially those formed in communist propaganda. He was described as a monarch-fascist, as a cruel dictator and exploiter of the broad masses, he was transferred to run the country as a barracks, his way of life and decision-making were military… The British envoy wrote in the 1930s that there were two sincere Yugoslavs in the country – one is he, the British envoy, and the other King Aleksandar.
What is indisputable is that King Aleksandar wanted a strong and centralized state of a single people of three tribes, Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (three-named people). He wanted Yugoslavia with the Yugoslavs. On that road, he was stopped in 1934 by joint action of the Ustashas and Macedonian separatists, supported by Italy and Hungary.
Weapons used to kill King Aleksandar (Photo by A. Vasiljevic)
Until 1941, numerous monuments were erected to King Aleksandar throughout the kingdom from Slovenia to Southern Serbia, but also in France and Romania. Many schools, streets, squares bore his name. It is interesting that although there were initiatives in Belgrade, King Aleksandar did not receive a monument until the beginning of the war. In 1938, an opinion was sought from the city architects where it would be most convenient to erect a monument to King Aleksandar in Belgrade. Six proposed that a monument to the king be erected on the new square towards the parliament, four between the Old and New Palaces, two on Terazije, two on the Terazije terrace, one between “Moscow” and “Balkans”, one in the Upper Town, one in front of the King’s Bridge Aleksandra ”and one on Slavija.
During the Second World War, and especially after the communists came to power, all monuments, all names, and other marks reminiscent of King Aleksandar were thoroughly removed. Today, we are still waiting for the initiated initiative of the President of Serbia to be realized by erecting a monument to King Aleksandar in Belgrade.