I’m happy when other people do my job. It’s human, I suppose. No twisting in my chair, no wracking my brain, huffing and puffing, deleting sentences, typing, deleting again. It`s a relief to see someone, in just one move, do everything I was planning to do. At such times, I feel like someone has tidied up my closet.

Recently, I got really lucky in that regard. A few days ago, on St. Vid’s Day, at Gazimestan, there was a celebration of the 622nd anniversary of the battle of Kosovo. The Patriarch said that he will not give Kosovo away. Then the pretender to the throne said he won’t give it away, either. Then the organization Ours, in expected dress code, disrupted the sad gathering by chanting “Ra-tko Mla-dic”. And suddenly – an audiovisual expression emerges out of everything I did not have time to, or failed to sort out. The date is 28th of June, the venue is Kosovo Field, but actually, it is Ratko Mladic who is being celebrated. He is the one on the t-shirts. Lest I forget – the scenery: the monument to the Kosovo heroes, completely covered with a huge fresco-poster of The Holy Prince Lazar.

Well, now. I think this description is accurate. Let’s see what they did for me. With simple and unmistakable symbols, they made a connection between several important issues – something that would take me several books and a few years of guest appearances on Pescanik radio show to accomplish. Very nicely, and much better than I would ever be able to, they said: The decision of prince Lazar to opt for a Kingdom in Heaven, rather than a Kingdom on Earth, is the ideological foundation of the wars waged by Ratko Mladic. He fought to “bring down to earth” Lazar’s heavenly Serbia, to achieve it in reality. In the name of Lazar from 1389, we went to war in 1989. We did not realize that something had changed during these six centuries, that the implementation of “history” in present time is, in itself, a defeat. That this battle cannot be won, that, grounded in the myth of revenge, we inevitably end up committing war crimes. And this is why Ratko and Lazar were together in Gazimestan. This was that direct connection between the idea and the crime expressed in images.

Watching the broadcast from Gazimestan, I remembered the last time I saw such a fresco-poster. It represented the image of the Tsar Dusan. This took place on the Partizan soccer stadium, during the incident in which hooligans were throwing around a sex-doll representing Brankica Stankovic. At that time, I was wondering how Dusan and Brankica were connected. Tsar Dusan was there to emphasize the political program this violence is based on. This program boils down to the territory that so far only Dusan ruled – stretching from the Mediterranean to the Ionian Sea. And Brankica is an impediment to the realization of this program. This program does not tolerate different opinions, it requires the spirit of congregation and is based on a single idea. This program crumbles down if there is freedom. Freedom corrupts it, dissolves it, reveals its deep and vital emptiness. Freedom reveals, in the same way Brankica Stankovic does, that the program is here to facilitate or hide some kind of fraud. This is why the image of Dusan is presented as the antithesis of that offensive doll. It strengthens yet another message: that there is no place for a woman in this job. She is a hindrance. Especially if she is smart. Because a patriarchal Serbia is the foundation of the Greater Serbia. And because patriarchal and Greater Serbia are the basis of a homogenous, monolithic Serbia. Serbia with only one thought, one idea. This is the connection I was missing. No lies, no deception. This explanation did not come from foreign mercenaries, or malicious souls. Or those believing in Better Serbia, or “nasty NGO broads”. Participants in Gazimestan and on the Partizan soccer stadium are the true Serbia. They clearly stated their program, made the correct and only logical connection between all the symbols, and said, in a perfectly consistent manner, what we have been trying so hard to explain: that the war was led in the name of Greater Serbia, that this Greater Serbia should be ethnically pure, and that such a goal can be achieved in one way only – by way of genocide. And that Serbia is necessarily totalitarian. And there is no place in it for the undesirable, both individuals and nations. Moreover, they said that this program was not defeated. Not even disgraced.

And there is more. Those who demonstrated against the arrest of Ratko Mladic in Belgrade at the end of May explained it instead of me. They were singing Chetnik songs and waving flags of the Draza Mihailovic movement. We talked and talked: that this movement was collaborationist, that its units took part in wartime operations in cooperation with Italian and German units, that they indulged in slaughters against the civilian population in Serbia, and even more in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And that this movement had a program, in its own words, of a pure Serbia. A Serbia that was to be ethnically cleansed. A Greater Serbia. So, it was not only a military collaboration, but, more importantly, an ideological one: the fundamental beliefs of the Chetniks were in agreement with the beliefs of the Nazis. That is why they didn’t find it hard to fight together. We also talked about how terrible it is that modern Serbia is relating to the defeated side in World War II, proclaiming it to be Serbia’s true voice. How horrible the fact is that a government commission is looking for the earthly remains of Draza Mihailovic within a “popular picnic area”. And, by the way, what will they do once they find them?

We talk and we talk, but the demonstrators have done our job for us. And I thank them for that. More clearly than us, they made the connection between different movements, explained the ideological and historical context, presented the program and pointed out their undying cause. They connected Ratko Mladic and Draza Mihailovic with Prince Lazar, Tsar Dusan and St. Vid’s Day. And they are right. That is exactly the proper connection. That is the Program. The only thing I don’t understand is why they booed the pretender to the throne, Karadjordjevic. I guess because he looks too western to them?

This is why you should not get upset. Every time something like this happens, remember: they are just tidying the closet for us.

Translated by Bojana Obradovic

Pescanik.net, 03.07.2011.

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Dubravka Stojanović, istoričarka, magistrirala 1992 („Srpska socijaldemokratska partija i ratni program Srbije 1912-1918“), doktorirala 2001 („Evropski demokratski uzori kod srpske političke i intelektualne elite 1903-1914“) na Filozofskom fakultetu u Beogradu. Od 1988. do 1996. radi u Institutu za noviju istoriju Srbije, pa prelazi na Odeljenje za istoriju Filozofskog fakulteta u Beogradu, gde 2008. postaje vanredna, a 2016. redovna profesorka na katedri za Opštu savremenu istoriju. U saradnji sa Centrom za antiratne akcije 1993. radi na projektu analize udžbenika. Sa Milanom Ristovićem piše i uređuje školske dodatne nastavne materijale „Detinjstvo u prošlosti“, nastale u saradnji istoričara svih zemalja Balkana, koji su objavljeni na 11 jezika regiona. Kao potpredsednica Komiteta za edukaciju Centra za demokratiju i pomirenje u Jugoistočnoj Evropi iz Soluna, urednica je srpskog izdanja 6 istorijskih čitanki za srednje škole. Dobitnica je odlikovanja Nacionalnog reda za zasluge u rangu viteza Republike Francuske. Knjige: Iskušavanje načela. Srpska socijaldemokratija i ratni program Srbije 1912-1918 (1994), Srbija i demokratija 1903-1914. Istorijska studija o “zlatnom dobu srpske demokratije” (2003, 2019) – Nagrada grada Beograda za društvene i humanističke nauke za 2003; Srbija 1804-2004 (sa M. Jovanovićem i Lj. Dimićem, 2005), Kaldrma i asfalt. Urbanizacija i evropeizacija Beograda 1890-1914 (2008), Ulje na vodi. Ogledi iz istorije sadašnjosti Srbije (2010), Noga u vratima. Prilozi za političku biografiju Biblioteke XX vek (2011), Iza zavese. Ogledi iz društvene istorije Srbije 1890-1914 (2013), Rađanje globalnog sveta 1880-2015. Vanevropski svet u savremenom dobu (2015), Populism the Serbian Way (2017), Pola veka XX veka. Zbornik radova povodom 50 godina Biblioteke XX vek (ur, 2021), Prošlost dolazi. Promene u tumačenju prošlosti u srpskim udžbenicima istorije 1913-2021 (2023).

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