Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I'm a Croatian Serb!

I am an ethnic Serb born in Croatia, and having ancestry from that country as well makes me a 'Croatian Serb'. I come from Lika, a mountainous region on the Adriatic sea, but you can also find Croatian Serbs in other parts of Croatia like Northern Dalmatia, Kordun, Banija and Slavonija, and there is a large population of Croatian Serbs in the country's capital Zagreb.

Ličanin, a man from Lika, in traditional costumeThe Croatian Serb identity has been forged by history and to a great extent by the politics of various rulers from different eras. Fundamentally, it is based on Orthodox Christian faith and culturally represented by numerous customs and traditions, many of them originating from Orthodoxy, while others vary upon region. My people are primarily descendants of Orthodox pastoral warriors (referred to by various names, including 'Vlachs', 'Rascians' and even 'Illyrians'), brought over and settled into the designated Vojna Krajina by the Catholic Habsburg Monarchy in order to repel further attacks and invasions by the Muslim Ottoman Turks into central Europe. Our earliest recorded sightings in modern-day Croatia can be traced to the Middle ages, while our presence continued to grow since then thanks to multiple waves of Orthodox Slavs arriving from the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Jasenovac Memorial Park, site of the infamous Jasenovac conentration camp run by Ustaše during World War TwoNowadays, Croatian Serbs in Croatia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia have to face a number of political issues, most of which are contemporary and recent in origin, and include the legacy of wars, which have taken their toll upon them during the 20th century. The legacy of one war, that has left a deep scar on their psyche and even shaped it for generations since, is that of the Second World War. It was brought to Yugoslavia in 1941 with Nazi Germany's invasion of the country, bringing with it fascist régimes like that of Ante Pavelić and his Ustaše, who committed a horrendous genocide upon Serbs and other non-Croats within their puppet-state known as the 'Independent State of Croatia'. Like the Nazis throughout Europe, the Ustaše also ran concentration camps within their puppet state, the most notorious one being the Jasenovac concentration camp, in which the death toll has been variously estimated between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. This apocalyptic war also divided Serbs into two rival camps: the communist, multi-ethnic Partisan movement, under the leadership of Marshall Tito, and the anti-communist, Serb-dominated Chetnik movement, formed out of the remnants of the Yugoslav Royal Army. Gradina monument over Gračac commemorating both World Wars (© 2009 Milan Ralis)Both of these camps fought against the Ustaše, but also against each other, often pitting brother against brother, and even father against son. The war ended with the Partizans' complete victory over German and Italian occupiers and over all rival forces in the country. However, fifty years later came the recent war in Croatia, with many of its roots in the previous world war. This war tragically ended with more than half of the Croatian Serb population previously residing in Croatia in refuge, many of whom fled or were expelled from their homes.

Croatian Serbs who have returned to their towns and villages in Croatia following the war — or who have otherwise stayed there throughout the war — have to live daily with the legacy of the recent conflict. Living in the UK as I do, I don't have to confront this legacy that often. However, whenever I visit my homeland in Croatia, I notice it wherever I turn, a reminder of a conflict that I had no part or say in. And whenever I switch satellite channels to watch Croatian TV or visit relevant websites on the net whilst on the other side of Europe, I understand why Serbs and Croats talk, write and think in the conflicting ways they do. All this affects me very deeply as I am also a Serb from Croatia — a Croatian Serb — even though I don't live there for most of the year.

Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman, war-time presidents of Serbia and Croatia respectivelyTo cut a long story short, this is what happened in the early '90s: during the ethnic tensions that blighted Yugoslavia during the early 90s, the democratically-elected Croatian president Franjo Tuđman (pictured right) declared independence for Croatia from Yugoslavia in 1991 with the support of the majority of ethnic Croats through one national referendum. However, in direct opposition to Croatia's separatism from Yugoslavia, the likewise democratically-elected ethnic Serb leaders from various regions in Croatia also declared their own state in the form of the 'Republika Srpska Krajina' (named after the historical Vojna Krajina mentioned above), with its capital in the North Dalmatian town of Knin, following a number of local referendums with the support of the majority of ethnic Serbs. The fullest extent of the short-lived war-time Republika Srpska KrajinaThe intention on the part of the ethnic Serb 'rebels' (as they were labelled by the Croatian media at the time, and still are today) was to either stay within the Yugoslav federation, or along with Serbia form a 'Greater Serbia', for which they received political and military support from Slobodan Milošević's régime in Belgrade. A year earlier, ethnic Serbs showed their opposition to Croatia's aspiration to seceed in protests that have been branded the 'Log revolution', for their use of timber to blockade roads connecting Serb-populated areas to the rest of Croatia. In relation to the outside world, the Republic of Croatia received international recognition, whereas Republika Srpska Krajina received none. Nevertheless, full-scale war erupted in August '91, which brought about the displacement of over 100,000 Croats and other non-Serbs from their homes. This displacement, accompanied by destruction of property, violence and even murders of civilians, is considered an act of 'ethnic cleansing', as its aim was to remove ethnic Croats from the region. However, the Krajina-Serb authorities justified this act, claiming it was necessary for the "protection" and "security" of the ethnic Serb population in that same region. One section of the long column of ethnic Serb refugees fleeing their towns and villages in August '95.After years of intense fighting in certain areas, and numerous war crimes committed by both sides, the war ended tragically for the Serbs of Krajina in August '95, when the Croatian army conducted 'Operation Oluja', a military operation with the aim of capturing and bringing under Croatian rule the western territories of that short-lived state. It was during that time that a huge exodus of around 200,000 Serbs fled across Bosnia into Serbia towards Belgrade during the sweltering summer of that year, accompanied by intimidation and sporadic killings of Serbs in those long refugee columns, and of Serbs who stayed behind in their homes hoping they would be safe. Prior to 'Oluja' was 'Operation Bljesak' in May '95, which was similarly followed by the displacement of at least 15,000 ethnic Serbs. On both sides, there were numerous fatalities, many more wounded and incapacitated people, many psychologically traumatised people, and many people still unaccounted for, i.e. "missing, presumed dead".

One of many destroyed Serb homes in the war-torn parts of Croatia (OSCE)As the land that was under Krajina came under Croatian military control thanks to 'Oluja', thousands of Serb houses located within that short-lived state were willfully destroyed: set on fire, grenaded, vandalised, and often looted and ransacked. Those houses that weren't heavily damaged, as was the case with my own property in Lika, were later handed over by Tuđman's régime to Bosnian Croat families, themselves refugees from the Bosnian war, with the aim of permanently altering the demographic structure of towns previously inhabited by ethnic Serb majorities.

One of many houses being rebuilt in Gračac, Lika (© 2009 Ricky Yates)Since the war ended, many Serbs have returned to their towns and villages, either to legally reclaim their homes from these Bosnian Croat settlers or to formally apply for them to be repaired or rebuilt by the local authorities. However, in terms of which age bracket most returnees belong to, they have mainly been elderly people, who have nowhere else to go but wish to spend the remainder of their lives in the places they were born and grew up in. It's rarer for younger generations of Serbs to choose to return to these same places, where they were also born, to reside there permanently, especially since there is very little in the way of job opportunities for them to take advantage of. The war-torn regions of Croatia are both physically devastated and economically ruined places, and much of the inhabitants of such regions, known as 'areas of special state concern', live on financial handouts provided to them by the state.

Croatia's political elite in Knin, 5th August, 2011 (novilist.hr)By returning to their homes now under Croatian sovereignty, ethnic Serbs return to a society that openly disregards their suffering during that war — or at least doesn't treat it as equal to that of Croat suffering. The exodus of my people in 1995 at the same time as 'Oluja', which included many of my own relatives from Lika and elsewhere, is considered to be an act of ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, the victory that 'Oluja' brought by eliminating the state of Krajina is celebrated as a national day of "thanksgiving" every 5th August, marking the end of what in Croatia is officially called the 'Homeland war'. Furthermore, there are still some Croats who question the nature of this exodus of Serbs from Krajina, claiming it was "self-inflicted" and refusing to consider it as equal to the previous ethnic cleansing inflicted upon Croats a few years earlier. Most importantly, the Croatian state has repeatedly denied any responsibility for this exodus; instead, they blame the ethnic Serb rebel leaders of Krajina for organising "evacuations" of the civilian population under their protection.

The flag of the former Yugoslavia shattered (tportal.hr)Due to the ruthlessly destructive and mutually unforgiving nature of that inter-ethnic war as described above, it's not surprising that there is so much resentment between Croats and Croatian Serbs even 16 years after the conflict ended. However, it is the Croatian Serbs who are receiving the most condemnation, and collectively so. Their significantly-reduced communities are largely ignored, whereas their identity is actively maligned, and everything they hold dear is regularly trashed; their cultural symbols and political views are despised and ridiculed, and even their present-day presence in Croatia causes bitterness in some Croats. So thorough is this break-up and alienation, that anything that links Serbs and Croats together, such as their shared language which was previously officially named 'Serbo-Croat', has been denounced and banished, condemned to oblivion.

Anti-Serb graffiti in Croatia, bearing the Ustaša 'U' symbol and the slogan 'Srbe na Vrbe', meaning '[Let's hang] Serbs [up] on Willows' (© 2010 24sata.info)Because of this atmosphere of hate, many Serbs — including people who are partly Serb from mixed marriages — feel they have no other option but to keep quiet about their Serb identity and ancestry, even making sure they avoid referring to themselves as "Serbs" in public, lest they attract the wrong kind of attention to themselves. Ironically though, such Serbs resort to such secrecy in a country that is these days considered to be home to a democratic society, in which minority rights are protected by law and everyone has the right to free speech — not to mention that Croatia aspires to join the multi-national European Union!

Milorad Pupovac, ethnic Serb representative in the Croatian Sabor (parliament)Following Tuđman's death in 1999, the situation for the Serbian minority in Croatia has improved in a number of ways, particularly in terms of their representation in Croatian public life and media. The most prominent political organisation is the Independent Democratic Serb Party, and its vice-president Milorad Pupovac appears regularly on the news and other TV programmes. Prosvjeta is a cultural society headed by Čedomir Višnjić that hosts a number of Serbian cultural manifestations during the year in different parts of the country, and holds many public forums discussing various issues of concern to Serbs in Croatia. Then there is the Serbian Democratic Forum lead by Veljko Džakula, a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1991, which is dedicated to the promotion of minority rights, the reintegration of returnees and the strengthening of local communities.

Many young Serbs, the generation that witnessed the war as children, regularly return to visit during the summer. But, as explained above, most of them so far have not chosen to return to reside there, due to the lack of job opportunities for them to be able to afford to live there. However, there's also something else that I've personally noticed while visiting my homeland in recent years, that I feel is very important to mention: not only are ethnic Serb communities significantly reduced in number, they are also broken in spirit; not only is the Serb population of a particular region much smaller in comparison to 20 years ago, the sense of community spirit that used to exist among them before the war is at best fundamentally weakened today, or at worst completely lost. Nevertheless, relations between Serb returnees, local Croats and Bosnian Croat settlers are generally good, as each community wishes to maintain a pleasant atmosphere with others in the same locality.

A collective centre in Krnjača, Serbia housing Serb refugees from Croatia (novossti.com)Outside of Croatia, Serbia is home to the largest Croatian Serb population in the region, thanks to war-time circumstances. Upon their arrival in 1995, after travelling for days within those miles-long columns, they were placed in refugee camps across Serbia, which are known there as collective centres. A number of them were also settled in Kosovo, as part of Milošević's plan to increase the ethnic Serb presence in the largely ethnic Albanian province. However, Croatian Serbs are largely concentrated in the north of the country, particularly in Novi Sad, the provincial capital of Vojvodina, and in the country's capital Belgrade. They can be also found in large numbers in many towns and villages throughout Vojvodina, and in towns close to Belgrade like Batajnica and Zemun.

A collective centre in Nova Pazova, Serbia housing Serb refugees from Croatia (politika.co.rs)
For years, Croatian Serbs in Serbia lived with 'refugee status', and a small number of them still do today. Although this status provided them with certain rights protected by their host country with regard to their circumstances, it has also served as a reminder to them of their war-time loss and their continued exile from their homeland, while other Serbs have shown resentment towards these refugees from Croatia for receiving "special" treatment from the state. The vast majority of them have found permanent accomodation, whereas some are still residing in the very same refugee camps they were originally placed in all those years ago. Nevertheless, those who have chosen to stay in Serbia rather than return to Croatia have integrated into life over there, especially the younger generations who came over as children at the end of the war.

Many Croatian Serbs have left Serbia to find a better life in wealthier Western countries like Germany, Austria and many others in Europe, while many others have gone further afield to the USA and Australia, settling amongst Serbs living there from other parts of the Balkans. And apart from the recent waves of migration, there is a generation of Croatian Serbs from an earlier wave made up of those who fought in the Chetnik army in World War Two against both the fascist Ustaše and the communist Partizans, mentioned earlier in this article. They fled Yugoslavia following the communist victory and settled in Western countries, destined to live a life of political exile among other Chetniks. Nevertheless, they started new lives in their new surroundings, eventually starting families with Serb or non-Serb wives. Their descendants also live there today, well integrated into Western society, but with various degrees of identification with their ancestors' homeland. Therefore, as a result of two war-time periods in the 20th century, the Croatian Serbs today constitute a very significant portion of the wider Serb Diaspora.

Born in modern-day Croatia, scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, the greatest Serb ever!
As you can see, I belong to a people that, although has endured wars for generations, has been especially traumatised by the past century's bouts of warfare. Twice within the last hundred years, we have seen our communities reduced under devastating circumstances caused by destructive politics. And yet, we are the people who spawned the world famous scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, without whom our modern world would not be as modern as it is! From our people also came other renowned Serbs, like geophysicist and engineer Milutin Milanković, actor and musician Rade Šerbedžija, singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić, Serb Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, and many more famous Serbs with roots in modern-day Croatia. There are many Croatian Serbs around, and I'm one of them!

__________________________________________________________________________

Acknowledgements go to Ricky Yates (www.rickyyates.com) for allowing me to use his picture of the house under re-construction (shown above), taken in my hometown of Gračac in 2009 during his trip around war-torn parts of Croatia (which you can read about on his blog).

22 comments:

chaplain.cz said...

Alan - A very well written and balanced account of history in which you rightly maintain your own identity but correctly & bravely criticise both the Serb & Croat nationalists perverted views of past & current events.

Whilst I knew the basic outline of the historical events you describe, you filled in gaps in my understanding, in particular as to how Croatian Serbs were living in the area in which you were born in the first place. And I didn't know about the separate Chetnik movement - only about the Partisans under Tito. The main street leading from where I live here in Prague, to the nearest Metro Station, is still called Jugoslávských partyzánů!

I agree with you about the absurdity of not being allowed to call the language Serbo-Croat any longer. Unfortunately, when countries divide, differences which are small get over emphasised. Ever since the Velvet Divorce that resulted in the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia to form the separate nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Slovak government has constantly emphasised & accentuated the slight differences between Slovak & Czech. This despite the fact that an adult Czech will understand an adult Slovak & vice versa.

Can I make a suggestion? Please could you put captions on each of your photographs, both to tell your readers what they illustrate and to acknowledge their origin? I appreciate the acknowledgement of my own photo but none of the others are acknowledged & your text only occasionally refers to them. Also 'returness' should be 'returnees'.

Alan Jakšić said...

Yeah, I corrected that mistake you mentioned, thanks! And I've added sources to most of the other captions. And I take it that you live hear this: http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugoslávských_partyzánů. Reminds me of Zagreb and the tramway there.

Alan Jakšić said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chaplain.cz said...

Alan - your link to an article on the Czech Wikipedia website is to the street Jugoslávských partyzánů that I mention in my previous comment. It currently looks somewhat different as explained here http://rickyyates.com/extending-and-upgrading-our-tramline/

Owen said...

Another try - I went off in a huff after Blogger once again went and lost another comment of mine. That sheepskin coat is really something - you must wow them in the Arndale Centre!

Thanks for an informative article. The fate of the refugees is sad, but so similar to refugees anywhere else in the world. Some do well, some go home and some are left stranded on the tide line. But you don't mention the geopolitics of the Oluja refugees and Vojvodina.

I'm glad you mentioned Milankovic - his name should be far better known than it is. He helped us find out how we make our way round the solar system and how where we are at any one time makes an enormous difference to our lives. I'm afraid we'll have to continue to differ on Patrarch Pavle.

Alan Jakšić said...

The picture at the top of the article is of a man dressed in traditional attire from Lika, and the sheepskin coat he's wearing is called kožun. According to custom, during the winter, you wear the wool facing outside, with the leather towards the skin; whereas during the summer, it's the other way round, i.e. the leather facing outside, with the wool towards the skin (it can be quite windy even during the warmer months there. I should know!). So perhaps our British shepherds in Wales, Yorkshire and elsewhere should consider buying one for themselves, especially for the autumn/winter time! ;-)

This article is supposed to serve as a basic explanation of who we Serbs from Croatia are, our tragic past and our varied present-day circumstances, written for a mainly English-speaking audience. Hopefully, it will encourage those who read it to find out more about my fellow Serbs from Lika, Dalmatia and other regions in modern-day Croatia. So of course, at the bottom I added the names of Croatian Serbs, who are particularly famous at home and abroad, regardless of their reputation. Though, come to think of it, singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić is not as famous as tennis player Jelena Dokić; maybe I should have put her name down — damn it!

Owen said...

How about Jelena's father!

Years ago a friend of mine made himself a jacket like that out of some East Anglian sheepskins. I think the trouble is that they're a bit pongy when the weather's wet (and not ideal for the Northern Line in the rush hour). Not a problem for shepherds, presumably.

Alan Jakšić said...

Now you can read an amended version of this article on Britić, the British Serb magazine, Being a Serb from modern-day Croatia: http://www.ebritic.com/?p=84094

Alan Jakšić said...

Correction for comment dated 10 August 2011 23:29:

As I mentioned in the article, Ricky, us Serbs were divided into two camps during WW2: the Chetniks and the Partizans. This division even broke families apart.

However, nowadays you have these Serb nationalists, who identify themselves as "Chetniks", due to the fact that the Chetnik movement in WW2 developed a nationalist ideology and strategy. Some within that movement suggested the creation of a "Greater Serbian" state out of occupied Yugoslavia, like Stevan Moljević, though many dispute his significance within that movement. Nevertheless, the Partizan victors convicted its leaders of treason (like Draža Mihailović), and denounced them for collaborating with Italian and German occupiers.

Today, there are many descendants of those Chetnik veterans, who have inherited deep-seated grievances towards Tito and his Partizans. This resentment is understandable, given that they were defeated by them. But it also includes resentment towards certain Partizan Serbs, whom they consider as "traitors", who sold their souls — or whatever else — for "personal gain".

Personally, I think words like "traitors" are very subjective. To be fair, Serbs were fighting in two camps, motivated by different ideologies and fighting for different goals. And personally, although we should learn from the past so we don't make the same mistakes again, I also think that this divisive rivalry between Serb Partizans and Serb Chetniks should be left in the past, so we can move on as one people again.

Alan Jakšić said...

The amended comment above is necessary in light of indignation felt by certain Serbs of Chetnik heritage, who were offended by the original content of the comment dated 10 August 2011 23:29. No offence was intended towards any Serb of Chetnik heritage or otherwise by the author of this blog, and apologies to any who did feel offended by its original content.

Owen said...

Alan, sometimes you allow yourself to be too conciliatory. These Serbs of Chetnik heritage/persuasion who are so offended by what they regard as your incomplete summary need to be as forthcoming themselves as they insist you should be.

While the Chetniks were not the occupiers' allies in the way that Nedic's forces were, their record on collaboration was not as clean as their contemporary champions would have us believe.

It's the Chetnik notion of history as propaganda that often makes it difficult for outsiders to recognise genuine injustices that need a trustworthy reporter.

Alan Jakšić said...

But Owen, I have been accused of being "anti-Chetnik", which according to some, is as bad as being "anti-Serb"! That's a pretty uncomfortable position for any conscientious Serb to find himself in.

Of course, Serbs of Chetnik heritage respect their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, which is completely honorable and no-one can fault them on that. And they resent the injustices their ancestors endured, which is completely understandable and no-one should dispute that. But so do the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those, who fought on the Partizan side; they also honour their own ancestors and resent the injustices they endured. That's why there should be more conciliation between Serbs from Chetnik and Partizan families, rather than less. After all, we are talking about people's relatives here, including my own.

The thing is, when you look at all the warring sides of WW2 thoroughly, you end up realising that none of them came out with clean hands. And deep down, we're all aware of that. Of course, I'm not claiming that each and every Chetnik or Partizan is guilty of the same misdeeds committed by some of their war-time comrades or superiors; no-one should make such erroneous claims about either side. But that's why, when you look at Balkan history throughout the last century, the fairest conclusion one can reach about all the warring sides in all the bloody wars is that they all deserve their rightful place in the past, and that's where they should all stay! No offence intended to anyone! :-)

Sheril said...

Very good!Another try - I went off in a huff after Blogger once again went and lost another http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/01/capital-eyes-politiquizz-name-3.html comment of mine. That sheepskin coat is really something - you must wow them in the Arndale Centre!

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Thanks Sheril! :-)

Anonymous said...

Why is it so that the serbs in croatia are the only people who never succeeded to assimilate into the croatian society.I have lived in northern croatia and there are so many people originating from hungary,czech,slovakia etc.,who always declared themselves as croats.The serbs are too proud to lose their identity so it is best for everyone that they live in serbia.When the expelled germans return to their lands then maybe the serbs could return to croatia,of course firstly pledging allegiance to the croatian state!

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

To the above anonymous commentator.

Your question "Why is it so that the serbs in croatia are the only people who never succeeded to assimilate into the croatian society" certainly requires a response from someone like me, who is a Serb from Croatia, and thus knows the history well enough to answer your question.

First of all, us Serbs were very well integrated into Croatian society prior to the recent war, bearing in mind that our presence in modern-day Croatia goes back quite a few centuries, as explained in my article above. Secondly, I cannot stress the difference between the words "integrate" and "assimilate" enough, especially since in our part of the world, your religion indicates your ethnicity; so assimilation for us Croatian Serbs would mean — and actually has meant — conversion from Orthodox Christianity to Catholicism, which goes a step further from mere integration. And thirdly, just like the Croats you've met in northern Croatia who claimed ancestry from Hungary, Czech republic, Slovakia and elsewhere, there are also some Croats who have Serb ancestry from mixed marriages between Serbs and Croats in last 60 odd years; in my own family, I have cousins who are half-Serb and half-Croat.

However, your recommendation that "it is best for everyone that we (Serbs) live in serbia", because we are "too proud to lose [our] identity" is a very problematic one. Does that apply to other minorities in Croatia and elsewhere; how far does this go?

Roynsam said...

Hello alan. Very good answer to the anonymous one.also a great piece of writing above. I am english and my wife is a serb from pavlovac. We live in manchester and visit pavlovac and novi sad twice every year. I want to go to live permanently in pavlovac to be honest. I love the place and feel very much at home there. It woild be good if ee could meet up or chat sometime. My e mail is royfallon1@btinternet.com ....let me know if you would like to meet up. I tried to email you but yahoo said your address is invalid. My wife thinks she knows your family. She attended gracac grammar school in 93 - 94. She knew a boy there whose father was a policrman. His name was also jaksic...could it be you or a relative of yours? Best regards.

Roynsam said...

Hello alan. Very good answer to the anonymous one.also a great piece of writing above. I am english and my wife is a serb from pavlovac. We live in manchester and visit pavlovac and novi sad twice every year. I want to go to live permanently in pavlovac to be honest. I love the place and feel very much at home there. It woild be good if ee could meet up or chat sometime. My e mail is royfallon1@btinternet.com ....let me know if you would like to meet up. I tried to email you but yahoo said your address is invalid. My wife thinks she knows your family. She attended gracac grammar school in 93 - 94. She knew a boy there whose father was a policrman. His name was also jaksic...could it be you or a relative of yours? Best regards.

Anonymous said...

After reading your blog posts I was going to send you a factual retort on WWII history in the Balkans but decided you are just another Serb who grew up listening to Communist propaganda. However it sounds like you have some knowledge but lack all the facts of the war in the 90's. My question to you is did you join sides and fight for your freedom to live as a Serb in Krinja or did you flee to a safe zone in the UK?

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

To Anonymous, 24 April 2013 23:16:

First of all, let me tell you that you are right that I lack all the relevant facts of the recent wars in the 90's. There is a lot of information that I'm not currently aware of, I admit to that. Neverteless, I do hope to find answers to any question I have in the future through careful research.

Now this is gonna be fun! "Communist propaganda", huh? That's a nice card to play whenever something negative - yet undoubtedly true - about the Chetnik movement is brought up in discussion. Of course, we've all heard that the winners write history, which implies that the winners of any conflict can't be trusted, right? Well, I wouldn't be that dismissive, TBF. On the other hand, to balance this out, neither would I automatically assume that the losers of history must therefore be more honest than the winners have been, which is probably what pro-Chetnik Serbs like yourself (I assume you are one) want us to presume.

And to answer your question directed at me, I came to this country years before the war started back home; so no, I didn't have to choose any side there, nor could I have done so aged 5! Thanks for asking.

PS: About the "factual retort" you were thinking of sending me but then decided against, let me inform you that I've read a lot of pro-Chetnik literature over the years, so I know that side of the story quite well, actually. I know about Bogdan Bolta and his book the Gračac Chetnik Brigade (as a matter of fact, a few of my own relatives (on my father's side) fought in it during WW2), and believe it or not, I've read Michael Lees' Rape of Serbia, which you can find online. Also, I've heard of Mila Mihajlović and the late Ajmone Finestra. And I know about the General Mihailovich blog, just so you know. ;-)

Snez said...

My heritage is here too. My father was from kordun and immigrated to the US in the 70's. I was in college during the recent wars in the region and my family lost everything, became refugees. My grandmother came to the US and uncle/aunt and cousins to Canada. My other Aunt is now in Serbia. Painful to all, working to adjust and live in their new land while dreaming of and missing home.

Snez said...

Your article and blog is very balanced. Thank you for writing it.