Pavle Jurišić Šturm (August 8, 1848 – January 14, 1922) was a Serbian general of Sorbian origin who commanded the Serbian 3rd Army in the First World War.
“If I even had German blood in me, that German blood had leaked out of me on Salonika front!
I am Serb!”
Pavle Jurišić Šturm was one of the most important commanders in the Serbian army in the World War I, especially during the first two years of the war, the time when his 3rd army was main support either for the 2nd army during the battle of Cer, or for the 1st army during the battle of Kolubara.
Pavle Jurišić Šturm was born and raised in Görlitz, Prussian Silesia, when the Görlitz region was still part of the homeland of the Sorbs. His parents were both ethnic Sorbs, and his name on German papers was Paulus Sturm, while his Polish name was Pavle/Pawel. He finished the royal Prussian military academy in Breslau (Wrocław) and went to Serbia before the Balkan wars to fight the Ottoman Turks, studying in the Serbian military academy and volunteering in the Serbian Army.
He fell in love with Serbia instantly, marrying a Serbian woman, and changed his name from Pavel to Serbian Pavle, and his last name Sturm to the typical Serbian last name that was modulated translation of his German last name – Sturm, meaning “Storm” in German was translated into Jurišić, with the root of the word “charge” (“juriš” in Serbian ).
Pavle Jurišić Šturm kept his German last name as an alias. His son, who he had with his Serbian wife, was a sergeant officer in the Serbian army, and he passed all major battles in World War I, from Cer and Kolubara, and then retreated over frozen Albania, the resurrection of the Serbian army on the island of Corfu, and the charge of the Serbian army, breaking the Salonika front.
Pavle Jurišić Šturm defeated the Bulgarian army at Vardar river and River Crna that led to the Bulgarian capitulation. He then retook all the major cities and returned to Serbia, defeating August von Mackensen’s army and chasing German armies further to the north, even after the triumphal entering in the capital Belgrade.
After years of peace that followed, Šturm stayed in Serbia and the Serbian army with the rank of major. He died 1922 in his home in Belgrade.
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in World War II, the first organized armed rebellion was conducted by the circle of officers led by Chetnik general Draža Mihajlović.
The Germans had spread their nets to catch the rebels’ leader, and once they had them surrounded on the estate of one of the officers. Together with the Chetnik leaders of rebellion was Šturm’s son. In the moment when the rebels started to shoot and intended to break the siege, his son took the coat of Mihajlović, forcing the Germans to follow him, thinking that he was the rebellion leader they came to catch. By the time they had realised the deception, it was too late, as Mihajlović had fled.
The Germans took Šturm’s son to the Gestapo and interrogated him. When he told them that he was the son of Pavle Jurišić, they wanted to release him, because of his father’s origin in Germany. But, he took this as an insult and stood up and yelled:” If I even had German blood in me, that German blood had leaked out of me on Salonika front! I am Serb!” A couple hours later, he stood in front of the firing squad, yelling the famous Chetnik salute:
“Long live the King! Long live Motherland Serbia!“