Across from Kerkyra, at a distance of 1km, there is a very sad place. For the Greeks the island of snakes, and for Serbians the island of death…
The story begins after the exhausting retreat of the Serbian army across the Albanian mountains. The army was followed by hunger, typhus, winter, attacks from the enemy environment, as well as senseless waiting in Albanian ports.
The allies, after Nikolay Romanov’s ultimatum, that they would withdraw from the alliance if the Serbian army was not helped, finally transferred the tortured Serbian soldiers to Corfu. The island, which then had 100,000 inhabitants, received 150,000 tortured and starving soldiers.
Serbian soldiers were brought from Lazaret and Corfu to Vido, when allied doctors judged that there was no way to save them. Corfu was their first stop, and for many of them, Vido was the last.
They were naked, barefoot and starving. First they had to give them rice as they could not digest anything else. When they came to Vido, rain and bare ground awaited them, where they slept until Allied help arrived.
Over 100 of them died in one day and when there was no more room, they would be taken by ship to the “Blue Tomb”.
The Greeks did not fish in that place for the next 50 years.
More than 5,000 were placed in the Blue Tomb.
This pirate ship, which plays the song Tamo daleko, drives to Vido. Legend has it that this song was written in Corfu.
I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get on the ship because of this ‘little thing’, however, the captain convinced us that it was feasible and so, here I am on my way to Vido.
I will not write about my visit and difficulties because it is unworthy of this tragedy. So I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
View from Vido to Corfu. For many, the last thing they saw.
While they were recuperating, they had one constant request, and that was to increase the amount of bread. To explain to the locals, they said: 1 man 1 bread 1 kilo. Then the Allies increased the bread molds.
Of all the allies on the island, the Serbian soldiers were the most loved because no crime, no theft was recorded and everyone wanted to return home to the last. They helped the local population, and when their salary was paid, the Corfu taverns were full, they spared no expense.
The first thing you come across is a memorial and a Russian flag as a sign of gratitude to the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, thanks to whose ultimatum the soldiers were saved.
There is also a commemorative plaque of the twin cities of Kruševac and Corfu. Since a large part of Serbian soldiers came from Kruševac, hence the twinning of these two cities.
Vido was bare, trees were planted only later. Today, most of the road is in the shade.
There is silence on the island, and even the visitors who know the story simply fall silent.
This board tells the ignorant how to behave.
The mausoleum is reached by a path that is slightly uphill.
The first monument was erected by Alexander in 1923, and the mausoleum was built in 1938.
1232 Serbian soldiers whose names are known are buried in the mausoleum. Those names were collected from 27 locations throughout Corfu.
I may have found a distant relative. He didn’t get disgraced.
It is known that the most important thing for a soldier is a cigar.
Next to the mausoleum, also by order of Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, a stone cross was erected in 1923.
Thanks to the sincere and warm welcome, these “div junaci”, as Aleksandar Karadjordjevic called them, recovered, regrouped and started to break through the Thessaloniki front. The rest is legend. The whole of Corfu came out to see them off.
In addition to Vido, the Serbian House in Kerkyra is also an obligatory stop. On the second floor of the Serbian house, there was a consulate of the Republic of Serbia. Today, the Serbian House functions as a museum, which houses decorations, uniforms, and photographs.
Another building in Corfu was important for the Serbian army, and that is the Hotel Bella Venezia. It was leased for the stay of Regent Alexander and members of the Serbian government. All three daughters of hotel owner Janis Gazis were married to Serbians.
There are many traces left by Serbian soldiers on the island of Corfu.
The well-known Greek ballad of Jorgos Dlaras “Don’t be angry, my eyes” – Mi mou thimonis matia mou was created from a song written by one of Janis’s daughters, when she was leaving with her husband for Serbia.
Somewhere in the interior of the island, you can still find bekri meze, which was created by Serbian soldiers in 1916.
They wanted to drink and eat, but they didn’t know how to explain. That’s why they went into the kitchen themselves and prepared from what they found. The boss liked it and that’s how the legend was born.
The Serbian soldiers stayed in Corfu for only 2 months, but the image they left remains to this day. We who come after must not spoil it.
“To them be eternal glory and thanks!”
Have you been to Vido Island?
Did I miss something?
Traveled and enjoyed,