Translation into English. First draft by Google translate, copy editing & any remaining errors mine. (By the way, Google has no clue what “ašov” is. It’s a small shovel, a spade.)
That’s all! Hope it comes in useful.
Politika, October 30, 1944
(Pre-title) The Feat of One of Our Fellow Citizens
(Main title) Teacher Miladin Zarić Saved the Zemun Pedestrian Bridge
(Subtitle) Thanks to his determination and courage, the Germans did not manage to destroy this bridge
(Photo caption) The bridge on the Sava
(Photo caption) Miladin Zarić
When the last surviving and uncaptured German soldiers left Belgrade, when the People’s Liberation Army and the Red Army arrived victoriously on the banks of the two rivers of our capital city, many wondered what happened to the bridges. At that time, they did not think of the economic benefits that bridges bring, but only of the wartime need to continue pursuing the enemy.
And then many heard and received with disbelief the news that the pedestrian bridge over the Sava was not destroyed, but that a Belgrade citizen, teacher Miladin Zarić, courageously saved it.
Indeed, the bridge that is now so militarily valuable, and which will in the coming days mean a lot economically for the connection between Belgrade and Srem and regions further away, that precious bridge was saved from destruction by one brave fellow citizen.
His feat was confirmed by the commander of the Soviet unit that operated in that sector. He himself, however, although in his modesty reluctant to talk about this action, told us how it came about.
(Section) “At All Costs …”
This is how teacher Miladin Zarić saved the pedestrian bridge over the Sava. He tells us:
"I was an officer in the past wars. In the Balkan War in 1912, I managed to capture an undamaged bridge over Šemnica near Bitola. I received the Golden Medal for Courage, then the highest military decoration, as the Karađorđe Star did not exist yet.
Now, when the People’s Liberation Army and the Red Army began to advance through Serbia towards Belgrade, I saw that the Germans were preparing to blow up all the bridges, including the pedestrian bridge over the Sava. I live right across from that bridge, at Karađorđeva 69. I got a real fixation to save the bridge at all costs. Every day I went there five or six times, watching the Germans climbing and setting up cables and mines. I have two sons. I confided to them and asked them to help me see where the mines and cables are. I also talked to a neighbor, because I wanted to get him interested in it, but he told me that it was dangerous and urged me not to do it.
I investigated where the electricity that supplies power to the bridge comes from.
(Section) The Russians Are Coming
Finally, on October 20, I heard the cheering of Russians in Bosanska Street. In front of my basement door, I encountered a trembling German who asked me for a suit to change into. I disarmed him and handed him over to some boys who were already helping the People’s Liberation Army.
I ran across the street, reached the start of the bridge and saw that the bridge was intact. I then ran under the bridge to inspect the mines. Then I saw our brothers, the Russians, coming from the train station. I ran to meet them, embraced them and invited them to inspect the bridge together. There wasn’t anything suspicious about the first two posts, but on the third post there were several packages of explosives. The main arch, too, was studded with boxes. About ten Russians came with me. They noticed that bluish smoke was coming from above the third post. This seemed suspicious to them, especially since the smoke was hissing sideways and not going up, so they knew that it was a burning fuse. They moved away from the bridge, also because they didn’t have the orders to cross it, but to go to Kalemegdan.
I told them then that I was a former Serbian officer and that I would save the bridge. In order to keep my honor, I went alone.
(Section) Horror on the Bridge
I saw horror on the bridge. Lots of war materiel and dead Germans. I was slowly approaching the arch and for the first time I read the inscription on the bridge, that it was supposedly the bridge of Prince Eugene. I had never seen that before, because without a passport, I couldn’t cross into Zemun. But above the plate with this inscription, I also saw copper wires, and stopped to decide whether to run the last hundred meters to that bluish smoke. I grabbed a soldier’s spade and ran to that suspicious place. I saw a German there, I didn’t have time to check if he was alive or dead. I hit the bundle of wires with the spade, and since I wasn’t satisfied, I turned around and took a bloody German blade (*). I don’t know how many times I hit. Only, the hissing stopped, but at a distance of twenty meters from the Zemun side, fires were burning in three places. I tried to put them out with the spade, but I saw that even fifty men could not put out the flames. I ran another 300 meters to the mushroom-shaped stand with the anti-aircraft artillery, and then to the entrance to Sajmište.
I noticed a lot of Germans, especially many on the tower. None of them fired. I don’t know what they made of me: maybe that I was their miner or some German refugee. Then I went back halfway across the bridge, slipped through some matting (**) with which the Germans camouflaged the bridge, and called on people to help me put out the fire. Nobody answered. Then I turned to the Russians and waved my hat. They were about 200 meters away. They deliberated for a while, then forty of them climbed the bridge. I went with them all the way to the left bank.
(Section) A Feat Crowned with Success
The forty were joined by another battalion, so they started to go down the embankment to Sajmište. There they already met resistance from the Germans. The shooting began. At that fateful moment, a hurricane of cannon fire crashed down on the bridge. Many were killed, many were wounded, the floor of the bridge was breached, but the Russians poured through, fixed the bridge and went towards Sajmište, dragging the cannons and advancing further towards Zemun together with the People’s Liberation Army."
Our brave fellow citizen received a written commendation from the commander of this Soviet unit for his heroic deed and was nominated for the high military decoration Red Star of the First Degree.
(*) Original “tesak”. Could be a bayonet, an axe, or a cutlass, so “blade” is non-committal. Likely root is “tesati” = to cut wood, to hack, to spall. (source: tesak prevod sa srpskog na nemacki)
(**) Original “asure”. Could be “covers” or “nets”. Plural of “asura” or “hasura” = floor mat made out of reeds. (source: asura prevod sa srpskog na engleski)