Archibald Reiss was one of us

BELGRADE- A ceremony marking 100th anniversary of the beginning of work of Swiss professor and forensic scientist Archibald Reiss in Serbia was held at Topcider Park in downtown Belgrade on Thursday, during which Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said that Reiss was a comrade and hero who endured the Great War alongside the Serbian army and people.

I am a Swiss volunteer in the Serbian army, a friend of magnificent warriors of Sumadija, Danube, Morava, Timok and Vardar, Nikolic cited Reiss, noting that in this way Reiss described himself and his stay in Serbia since 1914.

"Reiss was born in Hausach, in the Grand Dutchy of Baden in Germany in 1875. He lived in the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland, and died - we are sure about that - as a Serb in Belgrade in 1929," the Serbian president said.

He noted that Reiss arrived in Serbia in 1914 at the invitation of the Serbian government to investigate the crimes that the Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian armed forces committed against civilians, and remained loyal to his profession.

"As a renowned professor and criminologist, he spread the truth, and thus shattered the propaganda image that the Germans and Austro-Hungarians created about the Serbs as a barbaric people," Nikolic underlined, noting this is an opportunity to thank Reiss for numerous articles that he published in European newspapers and magazines, often even on the front page, which he sent as a correspondent during the war.

Mostly thanks to his articles, the European and world public was impartially and timely informed about the truth in Serbia and about Serbia, the president said.

The president said that the admiration that Reiss himself felt toward Serb soldiers and their fair treatment of captured criminals could not be seen in the professional reports of others, not even in newspaper articles.

He said that Reiss was a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, and introduced innovations in the police practice in Belgrade.

During his lifetime, Reiss received the Medal of Courage at the Thessaloniki Front and the Albanian Commemorative Medal, he became the honorary citizen of Krupanj and Macvanski Prnjavor, the Association of Reserve Officers and Warriors presented him with an officer's saber, he was declared the captain of the first class of the Armed Forces of the Kingdom of Serbia and he provided scholarships for 300 Serb orphans in Lausanne, Nikolic said.

Reiss left behind a political manuscript entitled “Listen, Serbs”, which includes description of the virtues of Serbs, and an even more important part that points to the flaws of the Serbian people that we most often disregard, the Serbian president said.

“Serbia loved its Archibald Reiss,” Nikolic said, adding that his wish was fulfilled and his heart was buried at Kajmakcalan (the place of a great battle in WWI) to rest near the comrades he watched dying.

Here in the urn, at the top of the Kajmakcalan, a golden heart sleeps, a friend of Serbs in the worst days, the Hero of Justice, Truth and Rights, Swiss Reiss, glory to him, reads the inscription on the urn, the Serbian president noted.

Today, Reiss' name and glory stand as a strong connection between Serbia and Switzerland whose peoples live in friendship and understanding. It could not be any other way since this sincere and lasting friendship was initiated by Swiss Archibald Reiss, who gave his dedication, thoughts and finally heart to Serbia, Nikolic said.

Ruch: Archibald Reiss cared for war victims

Archibald Reiss was a fighter who cared for the victims of war, Swiss Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Daniel Ruch said in Belgrade on Thursday at a commemoration marking the centenary of the beginning of the work of the Swiss professor and criminologist in Serbia.

The pain one feels when seeing their loved ones suffer was not the only thing that fostered Archibald Reiss' empathy for the victims of war, the Swiss ambassador said, adding that Reiss, the founder of the Lausanne-based Scientific Police Institute, realized that the victims want to understand and that they seek justice, and once said that there is no neutrality about crimes.

Speaking at a ceremony at the monument to Reiss in downtown Belgrade's Topcider Park, Ruch said that, at a time when Serbia is dealing with fatalities and the consequences of massive floods, it must be remembered that Reiss was driven by his care for the victims.

Assistance to victims of humanitarian disasters and the struggle for crimes to be punished continue to be among the fundamentals of the Swiss foreign policy, the ambassador said.

Ruch also conveyed a message from Swiss Federation President Didier Burkhalter, who expressed gratitude to Serbia for the commemoration honoring Archibald Reiss, a Swiss who fought for the truth about anti-Serb crimes in World War I to reach the world.

Burkhalter said that Reiss revolutionized criminal investigations at the time, dedicating his whole life to international humanitarian law and justice.

The Swiss president called for the memory of Archibald Reiss to be cherished also for the sake of the long-standing ties between the two countries.

The strength of those ties has also been demonstrated through the solidarity of the Swiss people during the recent floods that hit Serbia and countries of the region, and that closeness and solidarity additionally highlight the ties between our two countries, Burkhalter said.

At the commemoration, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic spoke about Archibald Reiss and his work in Serbia.

President Nikolic, Ambassador Ruch, Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali and Dragoljub Jurisic, who heads a society for preserving the tradition of Serbia's liberation wars, laid wreaths at the monument as the two countries' national anthems were played.

The commemoration was also attended by Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, Minister of Culture Ivan Tasovac, officials of the Serbian Armed Forces and the defence and interior ministries, foreign diplomats and military attaches, as well as figures from Serbian cultural and public life.

After the commemoration, they visited an exhibition of photographs about the life and work of Archibald Rudolph Reiss in Serbia.

Photo Tanjug, Z. Zestic