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Big Thoughts are Free

The Authorized Biography of Milan Panic

Mark Axelrod

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Chapter 4. A Belgrade Life, War, and the Aftermath (1929–1941)


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And so begins the life of Milan Panić, the little immigrant from Serbia, who was born in Belgrade on December 20, 1929. His father, Spasoje, was also born in Belgrade, and his mother, Zorka, was from Šabac. They lived on Krušedolska Street 10, in the vicinity of the St. Sava Church, which was the largest church in the country at the time, and which Spasoje helped build. When Panić was only 2 months old, his godfather, a physician, diagnosed him with cholera. According to Panić, his godfather/physician said to his mother that if he survived, he wouldn’t be able to walk, or if he did walk, he would have some mental or physical deficiency, based on the complications from the disease. Needless to say, his parents, and especially his mother, suffered greatly at this news. Panić recalled his grandmother telling him, “You were so sick, I felt sorry watching you. You had no weight. You were nothing but skin and bones and we couldn’t hold you in our hands. You were my only grandchild that I couldn’t touch.” For that reason, she implored Panić’s mother to “Let him die.” But his mother said, “Absolutely not. If he’s going to die, he can die from his own disease. I’m not going to let him die.”

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