Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert Gerald Livingston
LIVINGSTON: Well, I lived in the student dormitory, and I had a guy who even then I recognized as sort of an informer. He was a White Russian. There were quite a lot of White Russians in Belgrade who'd fled to Yugoslavia after the first world war from Russia. Of course, the Yugoslavs had a tremendous hold over these guys because they could turn them back over to the Soviets and they did turn back some. But they generally didn't. This guy was my roommate, and I was quite cautious. He was a helluva nice guy. Volkov was his name. My guess is that he was reporting, and I knew that then.
Q: Here you were an ex-CIC intelligence person doing studies there. Did you find either the Yugoslavs coming at you or the Americans coming at you for anything?
LIVINGSTON: No, I steered reasonably clear of the embassy although there was one guy at the embassy I saw from to time. I steered clear of it, as a general rule, and I tried to get to know the country and speak Serbian as much as I could and to get around. There were some other foreign students at the time, some Brits, a few Germans. I went around with a German girl. I remember going down and visiting all the monasteries in southern Serbia with her. There was a Dutchman. I think I was the only American, though there may have been other Americans. I hung around mostly with foreign students. There was some sort of an office for foreign students, and they liked to keep track of us.
Q: What about classes? What was your impression of what you wergetting from the university system?
LIVINGSTON: Well, I spent a lot of time studying. My language wasn't so good when I got there, although I'd studied Serbo-Croatian. I went to some classes, mostly language classes. I tried to learn Turkish because I thought originally I was going to do some work on 19thCentury Serbia. So I thought I'd probably need Turkish sources. I went to some classes on Serbian history but basically I goofed off. I traveled around and I did goof off but I traveled around and studied the language. I tried to learn the language during this time, and I did learn the language.
Q: How were Americans received in those days?
LIVINGSTON: Well, I think in a rather friendly fashion, you know. I had a Serbian girlfriend who was a librarian at the university, and I remember going out on an expedition with her and her students to Pan_evo or maybe even beyond Pan_evo, somewhere in the Vojvodina.
Q: You're talking about north of Belgrade.