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Wednesday, March 28th 2018, 3:38am

Berlin, Lehrter Stadtbahnhof, Saturday, 28 August 1948

As the Royal Train began to pull out of the city’s main railway station Nikola Karasec contemplated the conundrum facing him. King Petar was willing enough to do his duty to the dynasty and the nation but none of the noble ladies to whom he had been introduced since arriving in Berlin had struck his fancy; he had been polite, charming even, but nothing had sparked within him – and the king had refused outright to simply marry to begin an heir.

Thankfully, among all the conversation Karasec had carried on with his contacts in Germany he had met Michael Alexandrovich Romanov, more formally Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia – the youngest brother of Nicholas II, the last emperor of all the Russias. The Grand Duke, in his seventies, had no children in his own right, but though him Karasec had obtained a letter of introduction to Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, his sister, who was then living in Denmark. Having married outside the Romanov clan Olga had settled there with her family at Ballerup, near Copenhagen, which was, so Grand Duke Michael had informed him, a favourite summer retreat of the extended, if exiled, Romanov family.

Karasec was confident that with the right approach, a meeting might be arranged. However, from what he knew of the younger Romanovs, their preference was to shun nobility. This would complicate all his plans, though he hoped (and prayed) that by some miracle the proper match might be made. For the moment, he gave thought to what he could arrange once the train reached Copenhagen.


Tuesday, April 3rd 2018, 8:57pm

Yugoslav News and Events, September 1948

Ballerup, Denmark, Wednesday, 1 September 1948

King Petar considered the situation in which he found himself enmeshed with a combination of distaste and fascination. The days after their arrival in Copenhagen on the previous Sunday had been filled with the expected rounds of official receptions and meetings – mere formalities in his own mind – but now he found himself in a limousine, venturing into the Danish countryside, all thanks to the intrigues of his prime minister.

“Your Majesty seems indifferent to this part of our journey?” It was his chief equerry, Adem Čejvan, who sat across from him, alongside Sven Lasta, page and bodyguard. When he had heard Karasec’s ideas for an informal visit to the home of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna he had insisted that the visit be informal. Besides the driver, there was but the three of them.

Petar sighed. “Not indifferent, merely wondering what our hosts must be thinking; I suppose that our hosts could not refuse outright, but I am certain that Grand Duchess Olga will not appreciate us overstaying any welcome.”

They drove on, and at last came to the farmstead that was the home to the daughter of the Emperor Alexander III; the formalities of reception were carried out, though with little pomp and less ceremony. In effect, Petar was incognito for the visit, which helped to thaw its chilliness. As Karasec had no doubt hoped, several of the younger Romanovs were present, spending their summer vacations with their aunt.

There was Grigoriy Vasiliyev Smirnov, son of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna; a subaltern in the French Foreign Legion, he had in tow two of his cousins, the young eighteen-year old Pavel Alexeiv and even younger Natasha Alexeva, children of the Tsarevitch Alexei Nikolaevich. He also was chaperoning the daughter of his aunt Olga Nikolaevna, the twenty-year old Xenia Petrova Baranova.

Upon their introduction Petar felt intrigued by her intelligent, bright blue eyes, and the clarity of her expression; here was no pampered princess but someone whose outlook seemed to match his own. He firmly kept his thoughts in check, as first impressions can often be mistaken – and their visit to Ballerup would last but a few hours. Nevertheless, by the end of it, Čejvan noted that the king’s mood had improved perceptibly, and he no longer begrudged the mission that he had been sent upon.


Friday, April 6th 2018, 3:39pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Saturday, 4 September 1948

Today, in the Adriatic Shipyards here, the fifth and sixth small landing ships for the Royal Yugoslav Navy were launched. Following their recently completed sisters Demicka and Grabovicka, Landing Ships E and F are due to be completed sometime in November. They are to be followed by at least a further pair, with construction expected to commence in October.


Friday, April 13th 2018, 1:00am

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Monday, 6 September 1948

Officials of the Ikarus Aircraft Factory invited members of the aeronautical press to inspect the new IK-7 Pegaz twin engine regional airliner, which is now entering production for Jugoslovenska Aero Transport and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. It was explained that the demonstration aircraft will soon embark on a tour of potential customers in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Syria, and the Lebanon, in the hopes of garnering export contracts.


Wednesday, April 25th 2018, 5:44pm

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Thursday, 9 September 1948

His Majesty King Petar returned to the capital today following a state visit to Germany and Denmark.

Belgrade, The While Palace, Friday, 10 September 1948

“So Prince Charming returns from his adventures without a Cinderella?”

Petar shot his brother Tomislav an evil look. “Remember, when the day comes, that I shall have a hand in deciding whom you shall marry…”

“But… all that effort, the travel, the pomp, the ceremony… and nothing?”

“Not entirely…”

Petar explained the story of how he came to meet Xenia Petrova, betraying is more-than-mild interest in her. Tomislav let out a low whistle.

“A grand-daughter of the Tsar!”

“Yes… but she is far more than a cipher; she has studied at the University of Paris, hopes to enter business on her own account, and has – at least as far as I can see – little interest in marrying back into royalty.”

“But she attracts you…”

“Indeed, she does.”


Wednesday, May 9th 2018, 6:40pm

Novosti News Service, Mostar, Wednesday, 15 September 1948

A delegation of foreign dignitaries arrived at the Soko Works for an opportunity to inspect the first pre-production Strsljen jet fighter aircraft and to witness a demonstration of its flying characteristics. The announcement that the Royal Yugoslav Air Force had placed initial orders for one hundred aircraft heralded the arrival of the delegation, which included military attaches from several nations. Delivery of the first production Strsljen is scheduled for January of 1949, and it is expected to displace the last Jastreb fighter bombers from service by the close of 1950.


Thursday, May 17th 2018, 3:46pm

Belgrade, Sunday, 19 September 1948

Prime Minister Nikola Karasec was enjoying a rare thing – a quiet Sunday morning in which to catch up on his busy life – there was no pressing business of state that demanded his attention – today at least; there were no immediate threats to the security of the state requiring action – for the moment; there was even no strife within the cabinet for him to attempt to calm – something he had not seen since the late King’s death. He lingered over a cup of coffee reading a newspaper, when an item shook him from his reverie.

“We understand that despite the benefits to the nation it engendered, the King’s recent state visit to Berlin failed in its primary purpose – to find a suitable bride for His Majesty and assure the future of the dynasty.”

Karasec suppressed his anger. Fortunately the item was buried in a filler article on the financial page – he hoped it would be overlooked by many, for it rang too close to truth. Someone in the know had spoken out of turn, for that was the principal if unspoken purpose behind the decision to make the trip. Of course the newspaper’s informant did not know everything – such as the abbreviated trip to Copenhagen – and certainly was ignorant of King Petar’s suggestion to him whether a visit to France might be arranged; and that was something Foreign Minister Furlan was investigating at this very moment.

“I think the less made of this article would be best for all concerned”. He made a mental note to speak to his cabinet secretary on the subject.


Wednesday, June 6th 2018, 2:57am

Lagny-sur-Marne, France, Saturday, 25 September 1948

Petar Baranov looked up from his newspaper at the sound of the kitchen door. He could hear the banter between his wife and his daughter upon the latter’s return from Paris – she was home on the weekend from school. He looked at the letter that lay unopened on the table beside him, pondering what it might mean.

“Hello Papa.” She kissed him gently. “The first weeks in a new term go by so swiftly – I am sorry I failed to write.” She sat on the couch opposite his chair.

“I quite understand.” Actually, he did not quite understand, but then his daughter had always been adept in her studies at the Sorbonne and was thought of highly by her professors. “Xenia, a letter arrived for you a few days ago.” He picked it up from the table and proffered it in his hand; she quickly jumped up and snatched it.

The foreign stamp it bore suggested to Baranov the identity of the sender, but he allowed Xenia the opportunity to open it, read it, and allow her the opportunity to inform him of its contents.

“It is from Petar!”

“Petar?” It was as he thought. “You are on familiar terms with royalty?” This was something of a jest, as by rights his daughter’s lineage was perhaps higher than the King of Yugoslavia.

Xenia laughed. “Yes Papa, I suppose so. I told you and Mama about meeting him at Aunt Olga’s estate in Ballerup last summer. It seems he plans to attend the Salon de l'Automobile next month, and asks if he might visit.”

Petar Baranov sighed inwardly. He and his wife had always allowed their daughter to make up her own mind in things; and they would do so now. “If you wish him to visit he will be welcome. All I would ask is that it be informal – we haven’t the means for much ceremony.”

“Of course Papa!”


Thursday, June 7th 2018, 6:58pm

Privredni vjesnik, Monday, 27 September 1948

Minister of Industrial Development Zoran Simic formally announced today that a number of Yugoslav firms will participate in next month’s Salon de l'Automobile in Paris. Those firms mentioned include the automobile manufacturers Fabrika vozila Novi Sad and Tovarna Automobilov in Motorjev Osijek, tyre manufacturer Fabrika guma ‘Vulkan’, and battery manufacturer Fabrika Akumulatora Zagreb.


Thursday, July 12th 2018, 3:24pm

Yugoslav News and Events, October 1948

Report of the Hungarian Military Attaché, Belgrade, Friday, 1 October 1948

Sources indicate that two more small amphibious vessels have been laid down for the Yugoslav Navy at the shipyards at Bar, raising the total of such craft built or building to eight. It is not entirely clear what the Yugoslavs intend for such a large number of landing ships. Their utility to support operations along the Dalmatian coast is clear but given the disparity of forces between Italy and Yugoslavia the opportunity for such a mission is unlikely; while Italy may be rent by internal disagreements any foreign threat would likely galvanise the populace into temporary unity.

Production of the Soko Orao fighter aircraft has been cut back in anticipation of the start of manufacture of Yugoslavia’s domestic jet fighter and the anticipated delivery of additional aircraft from France. Work continues to prepare for the manufacture of Yugoslavia’s domestic medium tank. Export of arms to Syria continues at a high level.


Thursday, July 12th 2018, 3:29pm

Delivery Status Report, 31 December 1948

Domestic Ground Ordnance Production

M43 Service Rifle -:- 39,000
M47 GP Machinegun -:- 1,806
M39 Aircraft Machinegun -:- 150
M37 Tank Machinegun -:- 90
M47 Recoilless Gun -:- 600
M32 Hand Grenade -:- 255,000
Small Arms Ammunition -:- 28,500,000
Artillery Ammunition -:- 375,000

Domestic Vehicle Production for Royal Yugoslav Army

Zastava M40 0.25-ton Truck -:- 150
Zastava M41 1.5-ton Truck -:- 600
Novi Sad M44 3-ton Truck -:- 1,010
Novi Sad M46 Artillery Tractor -:- 450
AT.47 Tank Destroyer -:- 0
Orkan Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle -:- 36
M47 Half Track Infantry Carrier -:- 105

Aircraft Deliveries

Soko Orao -:- 15
Type 222 Vihor -:- 15
Type 224 Galeb -:- 18
Utva Lasta -:- 12


Wednesday, July 18th 2018, 12:59am

The Ministry of Defence, Belgrade, Monday, 4 October 1948

Major General Lav Rupnik reviewed with satisfaction the report on the present state of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. Deliveries of the first Dassault Ouragan II jet fighters had allowed two units, the 91st Squadron at Zagreb and the 92nd Squadron at Nova Pazova to begin conversion – he hoped that they might be operational by Christmas. The 82nd and 85th Squadrons had reformed at Kraljevo, giving up their obsolescent Zmaj bombers for the new Arado 234s obtained from Germany. Readiness reports indicated that the Soko Jastreb fighter bombers presently in service would need to be replaced very soon – replacing them with the slightly newer Orao was merely an interim measure – Rupnik hoped that Mostar would soon be in a position to deliver their promised indigenous jet.


Friday, July 27th 2018, 3:16pm

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Thursday, 7 October 1948

The Foreign Ministry announced today that His Majesty King Petar will make a state visit to France later this year. Speculation exists that the timing of the visit will coincide with the Paris motor show; details have not been forthcoming pending discussions with the Quai d'Orsay.


Saturday, August 25th 2018, 7:35pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Monday, 18 October 1948

The Adriatic Shipyards here saw completion today of the first of the Project 1948 Alpha ammunition auxiliaries – Auxiliary A being formally commissioned as Lubin and Auxiliary B as Ugor. Both will embark upon their trials and join the fleet in the early spring of next year.


Wednesday, September 19th 2018, 12:39am

Yugoslav News and Events, November 1948

Novosti News Service, Kotor, Sunday, 7 November 1948

The landing ships Demicka and Grabovicka have arrived here following their initial operational training. They will join their sisters Bobovica and Corkovac is carrying out amphibious warfare training with elements of the Royal Yugoslav Army along the southern shore of the Gulf of Kotor.


Tuesday, September 25th 2018, 6:00pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Monday, 8 November 1948

Ceremonies today at the Adriatic Shipyards marked completion of a further pair of landing ships for the Royal Yugoslav Navy. Landing Ship E, as she was known while under construction, was commissioned as Miljacka, while Landing Ship F was commissioned as Rakitnica. Both vessels will now undergo trials and operational training before joining the fleet early next year.

L'Impartial (Neuchâtel), Tuesday, 9 November 1948

His Majesty King Petar of Yugoslavia has arrived in Paris for a state visit to France.


Wednesday, October 3rd 2018, 8:59pm

Rethondes, The Forêt de Compiègne, Thursday, 11 November 1948

Petar had arrived in Paris the preceding Tuesday, and his staff had arranged a rather busy schedule for him well in advance; not only would there be discussions with the French President and his government, but there were the auto show and the air show at which he was expected to make appearances. They were much taken aback when he had insisted in attending only the morning commemorations of the Allied victory in the Great War.

Now in the sunlight of the late afternoon he slowly walked through the Clairière de l'Armistice, acknowledging the great memorial of Alsace-Lorraine, depicting a German Eagle impaled by a sword. Accompanied only by a single equerry he made his way towards the railway car in which the armistice itself had been signed. Beside the car there stood a bench, generously provided for the rest of those veterans of the Great War who wished to contemplate the scene. Today it held but a solitary figure, a tall man of military bearing, and it was to his side that the king made his way.

“Monsieur Baranov?”

The Russian émigré had noticed King Petar’s cautious approach across the open space of the glade. His mind and his heart wrestled with each other, as they had since receiving a letter from the young king requesting a private interview. “Yes, Your Majesty” he replied as he rose to his feet.

“Please, sit and take what comfort you may, for I suspect that this might be as difficult for you as I find it is for me.” Petar sat beside the older gentleman, pausing before continuing.

The Yugoslav monarch explained how he had come to make the acquaintance of Baranov’s daughter, Xenia, some months before, and how he had grown enchanted by her. Baranov listened patiently, understanding in some way the young man’s feelings and the difficulties he now faced. After some time Petar came the heart of the matter.

“Monsieur, I ask your permission to court your daughter.”

This admission drew a small laugh from Baranov. “Xenia is her own person – that is how we have raised her here in France. I suspect you know the story of how her mother turned her back on the Romanov heritage to marry me; Nikolai was against it at the outset but he has come to see the wisdom of it. Thirty years of exile will do that. Whether Xenia would wish to return to that style of life I do not know, but the decision is hers to make.”

“Then I can presume you would not oppose such a match, should it be her wish?”

“No, I have discussed it with her mother, and we would not object; neither would we encourage her. She is young, sometimes headstrong, and very independent in her thoughts. Your task will not be an easy one.”

That, Petar knew, was very much the truth.


Saturday, October 6th 2018, 12:59am

Lagny-sur-Marne, France, Saturday, 13 November 1948

Few leaves remained on the trees that demarcated the garden, and few blossoms on the other plantings; autumn had arrived in full force. But for the moment the skies were bright and the sun delivered its pleasant warmth. The two young people walked slowly, deep in conversation.

“What is Yugoslavia like?”

“It is mountainous, with deep valleys, rushing rivers, many towns, but few cities. Compared with France, it is quite poor.”

Her head shook. “I mean, what is it like to be king of Yugoslavia?”

Petar let out a deep sigh, uncertain where to begin. “There are times I feel like a juggler – while they are all southern Slavs, my people are split between Serbs and Croats, Bosnians and Kosovars, Macedonians and Albanians. Some are Orthodox, some Catholic, and some Muslim. The only things that unite us are their fear of Italy and their loyalty to the Crown. Their needs and demands are often at cross-purposes. My father had the skills to keep all sides satisfied; I do not think I will be as able to do so.”

She sat upon a bench, and he joined her. “But your ministers, do they not worked to keep the nation together?”

“Of course they do, and part of the juggling I must do is to keep a balance between them. As my country moves out of the last century and into the modern era, it has many challenges. Thankfully Europe has been at peace now for more than thirty years.” Both of them were quite sensitive to the lingering horrors of the Great War, if indirectly. Both of their fathers, and their grandfathers, had lived through it, and never wished to see a repetition.

“No one should have to carry such a burden alone.”

“I have no wish to do so.”

Belgrade, Monday, 15 November 1948

Prime Minister Nikola Karasec read the cable from Paris through once again. It was from the Yugoslav ambassador, filled with circumspections. He had grudgingly supported the king’s desire to visit France supposing it would strengthen the ties between Yugoslavia and France, but the cable suggested that King Petar was spending – at least in the ambassador’s estimation – far too much time in the countryside and too little in hob-knobbing with French officials.

“Diplomats… they wear blinders.”


Wednesday, October 17th 2018, 1:16am

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Friday, 19 November 1948

King Petar has returned from an extended visit to France, where he had frank discussions with French officials about the future of relations between Yugoslavia and that nation. The Office of the Prime Minister has yet to announce any concrete outcomes of His Majesty’s visit but it is believed that the discussions revolved around increased economic cooperation.


Wednesday, October 17th 2018, 3:59am

Novosti News Service, Friday, 19 November 1948

King Petar has returned from an extended visit to France, where he had frank discussions with French officials about the future of relations between Yugoslavia and that nation. The Office of the Prime Minister has yet to announce any concrete outcomes of His Majesty’s visit but it is believed that the discussions revolved around increased economic cooperation.

France is always happy to increase their economic cooperation with Yugoslavia. :)