Paulina Sudarski from expressive cheerfulness to the tragic end

An Inquiry into the Painter's Past: A Study of Pauline Sudarski's Formative Era Through a Close Look at Her Path Through the Royal School of Art - Unknown Paths and Portraits of Youth Shape Her Artistic Legacy.

Paulina Sudarski and the heroic paramedics on Sutjeska
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Paulina Sudarski and the heroic paramedics on Sutjeska: Unforgettable sacrifice in the fight for life and freedom

During that just over a month, which lasted the battle at Sutjeska (from mid-May to the end of June 1943), it was the toughest period for the People's Liberation Army during the four-year war. It was a decisive battle of the Fifth enemy offensive.

Paulina SudarskiBut it was also a David and Goliath struggle - about 120,000 enemy soldiers against almost six times fewer exhausted fighters of the People's Liberation Army with around three thousand wounded and typhoid patients. They were taken care of by the medical staff, mostly composed of women. "A wounded must not be left," was an imperative for all of them, and loyalty and care for a sick comrade above all, even above one's own life. The conditions under which nurses cared for the wounded during the Second World War were extremely difficult, mainly due to the limited medical supplies and medicines. "There were 1-2 forceps, 2-3 tweezers, one scalpel, scissors, a probe, two small syringes with several needles, a little hydrogen, about 100 grams of iodine, a few aspirin tablets and permanganate. Bandaging material was made from bed sheets. There was no gauze..." (50) is a brief description of what nurses had at their disposal. During the Battle of Sutjeska, the situation was more drastic due to the fact that in addition to the wounded, there was a large number of soldiers suffering from typhoid fever. There was great hunger, malnutrition, exhaustion, and fatigue.

On June 13, 1943, in an attempt to break through, Sava Kovačević, the commander of the Third Assault Division, died. On the same day, the People's Liberation Army faced another great loss - all severely wounded and sick were killed, along with the medical staff. About 200 nurses who decided to stay with their wounded comrades perished. (51) Among them was Paulina Sudarski. Especially touching are the memories of Ljubina Perović, the sister of the national hero Žarko Zrenjanin and one of the surviving nurses: "I recognized them. One is from the Fifth Brigade, the other from the First Battalion, and the third and fourth and seventh are known to me because the offensives brought us together. Come on... Come on, big Danica, come on, little Danica, come on, Paulina, come on, all seven, the fight is not over yet, there will be more wounded, there will be more severely wounded. In the middle of our conversation, a movement was heard from the neighboring hill. They spotted us. Germans, fascists, are rushing towards us. Those seven are no longer responding, they are determined to stay with the wounded. They must not be left behind; they were entrusted to them." (52)

"Đuričić-Sudarski Vladimira Paulina - nurse of the brigade hospital, born in 1914, Novi Bečej, academic painter, Serbian. In the People's Liberation War since 1941, member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1942. Killed at Sutjeska near Tjentište on June 13, 1943." is briefly stated in the overview of data on the deceased. (53) She was declared deceased by the decision of the Municipal Court in Cetinje, and May 15, 1945, was established as the date of death. (54) Five years later, her mother was presented with a Memorial - as a permanent memory and glory of the fallen fighters of the People's Liberation War, with the signature of the Minister of National Defense and the Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav Army, Josip Broz Tito. (55) Paulina thus experienced the fate of her father Relja, who died in the First World War, and their graves remained unmarked forever.

Before going to war, the painter Bora Baruh left a message that if he did not return, his works should be handed over to a cultural institution, museum, or cultural center. (56) Paulina Sudarski probably did not think about that. Teaching duties in Cetinje, and then joining the partisan hospital, not only separated her from her works but also from creation itself. Knowing that an artist lives as long as his work lives, Paulina's mother, Jovanka Vrbaški, in 1949, donated 154 works (127 drawings and 27 paintings) of her daughter to the Zrenjanin National Museum, thus providing this institution with its first legacy. The gallery Matice Srpske also received a gift, of a smaller scope, consisting of one painting (Male Bust) and a portfolio of 20 sheets of drawings and watercolors. According to some data, Paulina's husband Blažo Đuričić, who outlived her by almost half a century, also had some of her works. Jovanka Vrbaški kept some paintings and drawings with her, and then handed them over to the Preschool Institution named after her deceased fellow townsman. (57) Additionally, there are works and documentary material owned by Milena Pandurović from Novi Bečej, the granddaughter of Vladimir Vrbaški's second wife, as well as two paintings and a few photographs with Tatjana Janković from Belgrade, the daughter of Paulina's cousin, Colonel Velimir Sudarski. And that's all. For studying the painter's life, a valuable part of the documentary legacy, now in possession of the Pandurović family, should be noted. This includes Paulina's notebooks, books she owned (some of which belonged to her husband, as seen by the signature B. Đuričić, Belgrade), an index, as well as a phototyped edition of the magazine "Žena danas" with a dedication to Paulina's mother: "As a permanent memory of comrade Paulina Sudarski who sacrificed her life in the struggle for freedom, equality, and socialism, and as a sign of gratitude and respect for her dedicated collaboration with the magazine Žena danas in the most difficult revolutionary days, this book is given to her mother," signed by the Conference for the Social Activity of Women of Yugoslavia; Committee for the Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Žena danas. (58)


50 Vera S. Gavrilović, Women Doctors in the Wars 1876-1945 on the Territory of Yugoslavia, Scientific Society for the History of Health Culture of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1976.
51 Most of the immobile wounded and patients were hidden by the partisans in the valley of the Sutjeska River. Nurses remained with them. However, while searching the terrain, the Germans found them and killed them all, noting in their reports that this was done because most of them were infected with typhus.
52 Ljubina Perović, Those Seven - Memories from the People's Liberation Struggle, Žena, Belgrade, June-July 1957.
53 Viktor Kuča, Battle at Sutjeska - Roll Call of Fallen Fighters. Overview of data on the deceased by birthplaces. Partisan Book - Ljubljana, Lonos - Belgrade, National Park "Sutjeska" - Tjentište.
54 Municipal Court in Cetinje No. 129/63 of December 22, 1964. Data from the Registry of Deaths from Novi Bečej provided by Andre Karolj.
55 Memorial No.: 25345, Belgrade, November 29, 1950.
56 Vera Jovanović, Bogdan Šuput, Memorial Collection of Pavle Beljanski, Novi Sad, 1984.
57 In 1955, the Preschool Institution from Novi Bečej was named "Pava Sudarski," and Jovanka Vrbaški donated part of her daughter's works, which were in her possession, on that occasion.
58 This phototyped edition was published in Belgrade in 1966 and contains 33 issues of the magazine "Žena danas" from 1936 to 1944.

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