LETTER FROM ZASTAVA WORKERS


This night, the 9th of April, the Zastava factory plants in Kragujevac were bombed. The live shield is broken through.

This bombardment has inflicted severe damage to factory equipment and almost completely destroyed the energy supply complex that served not only Zastava's needs, but also the heating of the entire city of Kragujevac: its residential houses, schools, faculties, hospitals. ...

We were horror-stricken at the civilian victims: tens of men inside a live shield that was safeguarding the factory plants. Among the victims there were not only the Zastava workers, but also members of their families and other citizens of the city of Kragujevac.

What none among us either could or was willing to assume as possible did happen: Kragujevac has re-experienced its World War II tragedy; its citizens have again become the target of a barbarian assault.

In the name of what aims did war planes take off from once friendly countries which used to send us the ideas of humanness, freedom, maybe the greatest treasure that we have in modern civilization? What has happened to all those ideas--and have they been just an illusion that dispersed at the first sound of raised arms?

We, the small people, who have looked with admiration at all the great things coming from you, could not or did not want to accept that this was so. Haven't we, still, been mistaken? Has anyone from among you given a thought to our future and the future of our children? That has become entirely uncertain due to this insane act, and precisely this future [is what] we have been defending at the price of our own lives.

Already exhausted by sanctions that have reduced our average monthly salary from DEM 870 to DEM 560, knowing that destruction of the factory would call into question the very existence of ourselves and our families, we have made a desperate move: With our bodies we have made a live shield that has been guarding our factory night and day. We have been resolute, since the very onset of the attack on our country, and persisted in the realization of that decision every day, not to leave our plants after the expiration of working hours, not even when the alarms would sound air strikes, thus staying round the clock at our work places.

By night our family members and citizens of Kragujevac were visiting us, giving us support and making these moments of painful suspense easier. In order to prevent a horrendous catastrophe that might arise due to the insane act of an attack on our factory, through the media we have addressed the local and worldwide public, giving the precise coordinates of the factory, and pointing at the potential losses, spiritual and material, that might be inflicted by its destruction. In our addresses we appealed to the public of NATO member countries, to the conscience of the common people in those countries. Our appeal was published and broadcast by numerous foreign media: TV networks and news houses.

We, the Zastava workers and citizens of Kragujevac, are afraid of the future standing in front of us. Now we wonder whether we have any future at all. Our children are hungry, and their eyes filled with horror. We have no more answers to their questions.

Kragujevac, April 9, 1999