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Nikola Tesla, Montenegrins, Serbians and Serb patriotism

Prepared by Aleksandar Rakovic according to references from works written by Branimir Jovanovic [1] and Vlado Gojnic [2]. Translated in English by Stefan Branisavljevic.

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla, a great inventor and an outspoken Serb patriot, had sincerely adored free Serb states, Serbia and Montenegro, and the rest of the Serbdom which pinched unliberated under Austro-Hungarian and Turkish yoke. He had never hidden his patriotic feelings, on the contrary-he stressed them!

On 1st of June 1892, Tesla arrived in Belgrade due to the call from Belgrade municipality. Several thousand people greeted him at the Belgrade train station. He addressed gathered crowd who saluted him: "There is something within me that might be illusion as it is often case with young delighted people, but if I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf of the whole humanity. If those hopes would become fulfilled, the most exiting thought would be that it is a deed of a Serb. Long live Serbdom!..." Tomorrow he said to the students of Belgrade University: "As you can see and hear I have remained Serb overseas where I have done some researches. You should do so and by your knowledge and hard work you should glorify Serbdom over the world." During his visit to Belgrade Tesla was received in the audience by Serbian king Aleksandar Obrenovic.

Tesla had loved "The Mountain Wreath" of Petar II Petrovic Njegos, but also poems written by Djura Jaksic, Vojislav Ilic and Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj. In May of 1894 he published in Century Magazine article on Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj which began with the story about suffering of Serbs in Kosovo and then he added "since that fatal battle until recent times for Serbs starts the darkness with only one star on the sky-Montenegro." Tesla was in very cordial relations with prince and later king Nikola Petrovic Njegos, who was the ruler of this permanently free Serb land of Montenegro. They had frequently written letters to each other and prince received him in April of 1895, giving him high Montenegrin order - the Medal of prince Danilo' s cross of first rank.

In USA Tesla regularly met Montenegrin emigrants. Tesla had supported by money Montenegrins who scarcely worked in American mines. Nikola Tesla had escorted and covered travel expenses of Montenegrin volunteers who hasted to fatherland to fight in Balkan wars and WW1.

Petar Perunovic
Just at the beginning of WW1 famous Montenegrin gusle player Petar Perunovic-Perun came to USA. His aim was to visit emigrants' clubs and to initiate patriotic feelings among Montenegrins and other Serbs by playing gusle. Perunovic often saw Mihailo Pupin and he also visited Nikola Tesla. Tesla and Perunovic would have long conversations, and Montenegrin performer did not miss chance to sing some of the epic poems. Perunovic left touching testimony about their first meeting in 1916. At that time Tesla said:

"I am glad to see you. I have heard compliments about you. You are a warrior and gusle player. I love gusle and popular epic. I have all national poems of Vuk printed in the cyrillic alphabet and often read some of them as to refresh myself by people's spirit and to preserve Serb language. I have kept gusle in the pleasant memory since I was a child in Lika."

Then Perunovic sang and later he said about it:

"At the beginning of the singing I already noticed that I made good impression on Tesla. In the middle of the song Tesla lurch a little bit and tears flowed down his cheeks. It more inspired me and I continued to sing louder and louder. After the poem, Tesla stood up and strongly shook my hand. " At such moment Tesla stressed: "Gusle is the most powerful force to attract Serb soul !"


[1] Branimir Jovanovic, Nikola Tesla, Belgrade 1997.
[2] Vlado Gojnic, Crnogorci u americkim rudokopima (Montenegrins in American mines), Cetinje 1999.