In the mid-1930s, after Hitler came to power, the European political scene changed abruptly. Under the rule of Prince Pavle Karadjordjevic, Yugoslavia tried to adapt to the new conditions by proclaiming neutrality.
– The German dragon rushed at us – Stojadinović once said to his assistant, “we must try to remove it from our country. Let it go to the other side … The Germans are difficult as friends and dangerous as opponents …”
Andrić was a discreet and effective executor of the idea of the Yugoslav deputy prince Pavle and his minister of foreign affairs. One former colleague wrote that Andrić, as another man in the ministry, proved to be a “quiet, soft, adaptable official” obsessed with fiction and to whom “the most important thing was not to resent his colleagues”.
As Andrić once wrote in his thoughts, “in the diplomatic service, opportunities force most people to sooner or later have to act independently and show what they are and what they can do.” As assistant minister, he played a significant role in concluding the “Treaty of Eternal Friendship” with Bulgaria (January 1937) and in negotiations with Mussolini’s Italy, which led to the conclusion of the Belgrade Treaty of Friendship (March 1937), which eliminated the danger of Italian attack. .
Andrić’s role as the “gray eminence” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ended when Stojadinović’s government fell (February 1939) and when the former MP in Berlin – Aleksandar Cincar-Marković – was appointed Minister.
To somewhat alleviate the unfavorable impression on Germany due to the removal of the pro-German prime minister, the new government appointed his associate Andric as “plenipotentiary minister and extraordinary envoy” in Berlin. wrote:
– He speaks fluent German … he has always been considered one of the most politically capable leaders in the diplomatic service of Yugoslavia. During his long tenure in the ministry, Andrić … in all negotiations showed a thorough understanding of German politics.
He took office as an MP in Berlin on April 10, 1939. The embassy was one of the largest Yugoslav missions until then. There were 15 officers. After only a few days, the new deputy found himself in front of the Führer. It is difficult to imagine two different characters than the German leader and the Belgrade ambassador and writer.
– I have been preparing for this extraordinary experience since the early morning. Stay sober, I tried to calm myself down, but when I found myself in front of Hitler, accompanied by the chief of protocol, I began to lose my composure and almost panickedly wished that this strictly protocol act would end as soon as possible. I noticed that Hitler was perhaps a little lower than me … If you had asked me what kind of eyes he had then, I would not have been able to tell you with certainty: I discovered in them a cold curiosity, a cold glow of a man who believes more in his ideas and prejudice than in himself.
During the first months of his mandate, he organized a series of important visits to Berlin, during which Yugoslav statesmen tried to find a modus vivendi with Hitler, but at the same time to stay out of the great conflict, that is, to maintain the country’s neutrality. Minister Cincar-Markovic visited Berlin in April 1939. Somewhat later, Prince Pavle talked to Hitler (June 1939).
In these talks on the eve of World War II, the Germans tried without much success to lead the Yugoslavs to some procedure that would confirm the approach of the Axis Powers, such as Yugoslavia’s withdrawal from the League of Nations or leaving the Balkan Pact. Hitler was disappointed and even angry after the conversation with Prince Paul at that time, since when he could only make vague promises.
Andrić’s speech when handing over the credentials to Hitler
I am honored to present to Your Excellency the letters by which the Royal Governor’s Office, on behalf of His Majesty the King of Yugoslavia, my Exalted Sovereign, has chosen to accredit me to Your Excellency in the capacity of its Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, as well as the recall letters of my predecessor Mr. Cincar Markovic.
I consider it a special happiness that the Royal Governorate has entrusted me with this honorable task. The good neighborly relations, as well as the lively economic and cultural exchange of goods between Germany and Yugoslavia, fully correspond to the wishes and intentions of the Royal Government, and I am particularly privileged that the Royal Government has put me in charge of continuing my predecessor’s work. strengthening these friendly relations and mutual respect between the two peoples.
Allow me, Mr. Chancellor of the Reich, to assure Your Excellency that I will devote all my energies to this task, which is one of the most important goals of my government’s foreign policy. I am free to express the hope that I will not lack the benevolent support of Your Excellency in the performance of my pleasant duty.
By handing over my letters to Your Excellency, I take this solemn opportunity to express on behalf of His Royal Highness the Prince Governor, the Royal Governorship and the Royal Government my best wishes for the personal happiness of Your Excellency, who stands at the head of the Grand Reich with so much success and dignity. the progress of the German people.
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