NEW YORK: October 9, 2004

The 70th Annivesary of the Martyric Death of King Alexander of Serbia Marked in Parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

On October 9, 2004, by ukase of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia (who serves the divine liturgy every day) every parish of the Serbian Orthodox Church performed funerary liturgies and pannikhidas for King Alexander I Karadjordjevic of Serbia on the 70th anniversary of his death as a martyr. Commemorative litanies were also performed in parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia for the friend of the Russian Church and her people, and meetings commemorating his memory were organized.

King Alexander was a man of profound faith, a builder of innumerable churches, a generous donor, the first helper of our settling in this land of piety. After 500 years under the Turkish yoke and the years of the brutal Austrian occupation that followed, the Serbian Orthodox Church was finally establishing itself. This was accomplished by His Holiness Patriarch Varnava and King Alexander. There was absolutely no Orthodox religious project that did not receive generous support from the king.

During the civil war in Russia, King Alexander was one of the few who understood the significance of this struggle. In part, he offered to General Denikin to form a military group from Yugoslav prisoners of war, offering them to Gen. Denikin's command. With regard to the Bolsheviks, King Alexander immediately assumed an uncompromising stance. He refused the establishment of a Soviet embassy in his country. The king knew no compromises with his conscience. During his lifetime, even before 1939, Yugoslavia did not accept the new regime in Russia and did not have any contact with it. The king paid for his staunchness with his life. His death was determined by the fact that he categorically refused to recognize the Bolsheviks. Through intermediaries, allegedly only "Croatian nationalists," an international terrorist organization operating out of Moscow was preparing the takeover of Europe.

He remained on the throne until October 9, 1934, when he died in Marseilles during a visit to France as a result of a criminal international conspiracy, shot to death by a hired killer, Vladimir Georgiev-Chernozemskij (Velucko Kerin), a member of a Macedonian terrorist organization working with the Croatian Ustashe.

The tragic death of the king, a knight of honor, was an irreplaceable loss not only for the Serbian people, but for the Russian refugees. Few remembered the good done by Russia before the revolution; King Alexander was one of those who never forgot the traditional friendship between Russia and Serbia. He assumed the role of protector over a multitude of Russian people, hospitably opening the doors to his young nation of Yugoslavia and granting them the opportunity to live and work there.

King Alexander gave invaluable help towards the preservation of Russian culture in the emigration, granting stipends to Russian writers out of his own pocket. When, in 1928, the first conference of Russian writers abroad was held in Belgrade, of greatest importance was the knowledge that they were guests of an Orthodox Slavic king. Having been educated in Russia, the king gave many Russian children the possibility of receiving an education; his personal funds paid for the upkeep of schools and boarding-houses for the children of Russian refugees. The king's money built a "Russian House" in Belgrade dedicated to Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich, where there were boys' and girls' high schools, elementary school, kindergarten, medical clinic, laboratory and a small chapel, a high school and parish church, where His Eminence Metropolitan Anastassy of blessed memory loved to serve.

When the "Russian House" was being built, the king said: "We must preserve the Russian soul for the Russian people. See how they came here with their families. Each family is a nation in miniature. Believe that the Russian people will find within their four walls their homeland, if the family breathes the Russian atmosphere. The Russian school, elementary and middle schools both, must always strengthen within them Russian nationalism, without which their family is a leaf torn from a mighty tree." The king said: "To take in, to feed, to heal is good and worthy, but if at the same time you do not give the Russian person a place for his soul, especially in the church of God, at lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and also their own theaters, you will have done nothing for them. Remember always that if there is one nation that will sacrifice all for spiritual benefit—it is the Russian people."

Eternal memory to King Alexander of Serbia, and to the fraternal nations of Serbia and Russia—a blessed renewal in faith and piety!