(the following info is from pgs 227 & 233 of the 2009 Yearbook)
Modern History of Serbia
Serbia, in the heart of the Balkans, is a land of diverse cultures and is home to people of many nationalities. It was here in the city of Belgrade that a branch office was opened in 1935 to care for the territories of the former Yugoslavia, resulting in thrilling theocratic growth. In recent times how have the brothers in the country of Serbia provided help to the newly formed countries in the region?
While the borders of countries were being closed and religious and racial hatred was spreading, brothers of varied nationalities were peacefully working together at the office in Zagreb, Croatia. Eventually, with racial and national prejudice raging outside the walls of Bethel, our Serb brothers were forced to leave. In 1992 translation for Serbian publications was again done in Belgrade, Serbia, as it had been nearly 50 years earlier. This move proved to be both wise and timely. (here's an earlier post about the Translation Efforts)
There was a great need for humanitarian aid in Bosnia, where heavy fighting was taking place. The branch office in Austria had lovingly organized a relief shipment, and the brothers in Serbia were in the best position to deliver it to areas of Bosnia controlled by Serbs.
Although the fighting did not spill over into Serbia, the effects of the war were still felt there. An economic embargo made it difficult to receive shipments of literature from Germany, where it was printed. When the congregations did not receive the latest magazines, our brothers simply studied older articles until more recent issues arrived. Ultimately, though, the brothers never missed any issues of the magazines...
Today the brothers continue to preach zealously. They demonstrate that Jehovah's people are not prejudiced and that they display Christlike love. Successful preaching campaigns have been organized in recent years in which brothers from other European countries have used their vacation time to help work unassigned territories in Serbia and Montenegro. Yet, there is still much work to be done in order to reach the approximately three million people who live in these areas. Today Bethel in Belgrade is a complex of three buildings nestled in parklike gardens. The three members of the Country Committee oversee our work in Serbia as well as in Montenegro. With Jehovah's blessing on his people in this formerly war-torn region, the name Serbia may now call to mind the zeal and determination of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Because my family is of Hungarian descent, for a short time, we were sent to a camp set up by Partisans. This proved to be a blessing, though, because it was there that my parents learned the truth. As a teenager, I didn't have much interest in the truth. But Brother Franz Brand, who lived in our house for a couple of years, had a great effect on me. I thought I was being helpful when I agreed to his request to translate a Hungarian publication into Serbian. I later found out that there was no need to translate it; he simply wanted to make sure that I read the publication. His tactic worked, and some time later, in 1964, I was baptized.
One of my greatest joys was serving as a traveling overseer. It wasn't always easy because the brothers were of modest means. On many occasions the whole family and I slept in one room. All the sacrifices were worthwhile. It was wonderful to see the joy of the brothers, who eagerly awaited the visit. They would do all they could to give the best they had. How could I not be grateful? (this brother is one of the members of the Serbia Country Committee in the photo above)