Emily Greene Balch to Yella Fuchs Hertzka, April 27, 1921


↑To members of Ex. Ctte↓


Copy of a letter from Miss Balch to Frau Hertzka

Sofia, April 27, 1921.

"I arrived here last evening after a pleasant journey of 22 hours from Belgrade, and was happy to find Mme Nedelkova and Mme [Todorova] waiting for [me]. All hotels are full so it really was a blessing. They have lodged me in [a] private house, with a Bulgarian Y.M.C.A lady who studied for years in America.

In Belgrade of course it was not easy to find, or to win, thorough-going adherents. People were very kind and I spoke to two groups -- once to a suffrage [organization], of younger women, once at a reception in a very handsome house given for me by Madame Speie through the kind offices of an American relief worker Mrs. Campbell. But the nationalistic feeling was strong, the fact of [the?] meeting being in Vienna was, to some, a too bitter pill to swallow, others took up time with long harangues about their special political grievances, notably as regards Fiume and Istria.

There is one person however, (and I think quite the right person) a Bosnian, wife of a professor who died in the war and herself working in the Government Ministry of Social Welfare who means to try to find others who are ready and found a group in Belgrade. This ought to unite afterwards with groups to be formed in Agram and Laibach (and wherever else we can) to form a NATIONAL COMMITTEE on which there should be equal representation of women speaking Serbian, Croatian, & Slovenian. If these groups are formed and send women to Vienna the formation of this committee could be arranged by them in Vienna before the Congress or during its first sessions.

I was so fortunate as to meet in Belgrade some of the Slovenian women from Laibach who had been attending a meeting which was going on at Novi-Sad while I was in Agram of a federation of women's [organizations] from all parts of [Yugoslavia]. If I had only known of it in season I could have gone there and perhaps spoken to them all. I am not sure that this would have been very useful however. One [organization] cannot go out and capture another and in this case only a minority would in any case be with us.

The whole situation is a complicated one. There are Agram women who are ready to work with us. Even they will import new nationalistic [illegible] into our meetings, I fear, at least if they really express themselves freely but they are essentially with us, I hope. But with the political situation in [Yugoslavia] what it is [today] -- with anti-dynastic separatist currents at one extreme and strong pro-Serbian ones at the other -- it will be hard for Agram women to form a group, unless there is also at least a nominal group in Belgrade also to prevent their appearing anti-Serbian. I am eager for a Belgrade group on this account as also to do educational work where it is much needed but there is the danger of our getting in discordant elements.

It is a terribly puzzling problem to know how best to present our message. It could be so presented as to give bitter offense and [illegible] a repulsion we could never overcome. It could be presented so inoffensively as to mean little and induce people to join us who don't belong with us.

A third alternative would have been not to go near Serbia till things were already ready (if ever that time were to be expected).

I went, at the desire of the Committee and my presentment of our thesis was between the first and second styles. I was happy in not giving offense in not arousing anyone to denounce our efforts as unpatriotic nor our [organization] as one that no patriotic woman could join. I presented in too absolute a way to be acceptable to many, though I had a general sort of sympathy of feeling from almost all.

Well -- one can only do the best one knows how.

I think we shall find Slovenian women more sensible and it seems [page 2] important that I should go to Laibach as soon as I can after my return to Vienna. I ought to have combined this with my trip to Agram [though] there are some advantages in going there later.

My work here is going to be much hindered by the fact that next [Sunday] is the Orthodox Easter and people are much occupied it seems in Holy week preparing for it.

A telegram from Vilma Glücklich was waiting for me here urging me to come to Budapest. So I shall probably leave here for Bucharest vin Rustchuk Monday (May 2) stay 4 days there, go on to Budapest and stay there 3 or 4 days and then come on to Vienna.

signed Emily G. Balch."