Address by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic at the presentation of the study “Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands”:
“Dear descendants of the people we honor today,
Esteemed Ambassador Van den Dool,
Excellencies and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Even one hundred years after the end of the first Great War in the history of mankind, Europe and the world at large are still committed to remembering its victims and maintaining a dignified memory of their sacrifice. European security has been a subject of debates for centuries. Due to the fact that in the 20th century both World Wars erupted on the European soil, Europe was referred to by many as the world’s fateful continent. That is why a stable Europe is a guarantor of stability and culture of peace in the world and all of us living on the European continent are committed to this goal in an ever more uniting Europe.
Serbia remembers full well that from the very outbreak of the Great War in 1914 and humanitarian catastrophe that engulfed Serbia, heroes emerged as true knights of chivalry and courage. In its wake, the war also created sufferers and victims. And then, there was a new breed of unarmed war heroes guided by a new idea – one of humanity.
That war gave birth to heroes and heroines of humanity and generosity which know no bounds and do not divide people along national, religious or political lines. Most of medical missions and prominent individuals who selflessly helped Serbian people came from the Western countries. These people belonged to the intellectual elites and avant-garde circles in their countries – women doctors, forensic specialists, volunteers who braved the front-lines along with Serbs, fighting shoulder to shoulder with them. One of those remarkable people was Dr. Arius van Tienhoven of the Netherlands, a true hero of the Valjevo hospital.
In the face of attempts to rewrite history persistently emanating from one part of the international community, it is necessary to maintain the “culture of remembrance” and invoke immeasurable sacrifice of some nations whose people died for civilizational values of entire mankind. Serbian people has always been in the forefront of those who paid a heavy price in human lives. In the Great War one third of its population perished. Almost one in ten individuals who died in the Great War was a Serb. Serbia experienced a demographic catastrophe from which it never recovered.
We have gathered here today in the Museum of Serbian Diplomacy to observe the Remembrance Day of Serbian World War I soldiers who died in the Netherlands as well as Arius van Tienhoven who provided medical assistance to Serbs, and all others who offered selfless help to Serbia in surviving the Cavalry of the Great War. The book of Dutch authors testifies to it most eloquently, in a truthful, historically documented and emotional way.
That is why I would like, on my behalf and on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, to express gratitude to the authors and the Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade for their valuable contribution, and in particular to the researchers Tatjana and Fabian Vendrig, and John Stienen who invested great efforts to trace information on the Serbs who died in the Netherlands. To a SERBIA THAT REMEMBERS, it is important that the NETHERLANDS RECALLS the Serbian victims of World War I and that it looks after the legacy of Serbian sufferers, not letting them fall into oblivion even 100 years later.
Serbia, which made immeasurable sacrifices for the civilizational values of freedom and peace of mankind, has since ancient times to this day, through “the culture of remembrance”, affirmed its commitment to peace, tolerance and a better future for generations to come.
Eternal Glory to the memory of our brave and celebrated ancestors.