ABOUTH HISTORICAL MYTHS IN SERBIA TODAY

 

In the last decade of the 20th century, in the situation of rising nationality, invoking on the Serbian national history become everyday, usual thing. In that time historical myths were strongly used by Serbian leaders and not only by them! Myths were used in all kind of media and in all kind of conversations between the people in the country. Today, in Serbia, nationalism is little depressed. But does that mean that the using of historical myths is depressed too? I think not.

Serbia had presidential elections in June this year. Some candidates for the president of Serbia, without any reservation, used historical myths in their campaign. Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic, in her campaign, has openly suggested her family name. One of her slogans was “1804-1904-2004” in which she reminded people on her ancestors that fought for Serbian liberty in past twenty years. The strength of the slogan lies in the years because her grandfather rise a fight for Serbian liberation under the Ottoman government in 1804 and this year all over Serbia are maintained celebrations for an anniversary off two hundred years from that date.

Ivica Dacic, candidate for president in front of Serbian Social Parti (SPS), had a different slogan: “In the name of all off us”. These words are from one very famous song in Serbia. They meant that the older generations should count on younger generations. Song was glorifying values of communism and devotion to Tito and our former communist country. Picture of Dacic on the billboards vas very interesting too, and it was strongly suggesting on Tito. It was remodeled so that looks like picture of Tito. Picture which was put on large boards. Signature of this candidate was referring to Tito’s signature too. It is very obvious that his campaign counted to attract voters who remembered Tito’s time as a good time.

It is interesting that there was no place for mentioning the great Serbian history in the speaking of other presidential candidates. Nevertheless there may have been hidden refreshing on it in that speaks.

On the other side Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian radical party (SRS), now prisoner of the Scheveningen prison in the Hague accused for the war crimes in former Yugoslavia, said, in June this year that he won’t give up from his attitude about Great Serbia with his east frontiers on the line Karlovac – Karlobag – Ogulin – Virovitica. He also said that war in former Yugoslavia was a civil war between Serbs, Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Serbs, Muslim Serbs and Protestant Serbs. Few days after this Tomislav Nikolic, vice-president of SRS and, in that time, presidential candidate, confirm that this thesis are still one of the main wishes of SRS but that there is no intension of creating them violently by war but only by dialog with other republic that once formed SFR Yugoslavia.

Myth of antiquity was very strong in Serbia for last 15 years. Situation is, more or less, the same now. Many Serbian people still believe that Serbs have historical rights on some territories because they came in that area before other nations. We were witnesses of the dangerous effects of that opinion not only in former Yugoslavia but all around the world. Myth about Kosovo as the sacred Serbian land is very strong among ordinary people. It can be very dangerous to say that it is not true or something else against this common opinion. To some people is better to pull their eyes out, then to say that Kosovo isn’t Serbian land or that there is no legal layout on witch Serbia can claim her right on this territory.

It is well known that pictures of the past which people carry in themselves is often different from the interpretation of the science historiography. Every historian comes to his knowledge by studying large literature and by studying accessible sources, while in common people there is appearance off narratives, transformed from mouth to mouth and from knee to knee. People’s tradition is not the only one to be blamed for twisted picture of the Serbian past. Part of the guilt fall on the quasi-historians. In the last decay of the twenty century, in Serbia, emerge a group of people which don’t have anything with history, by their education, but that didn’t stop them to write books about Serbian history. If that books were scientifically based there would be no problem but… Not only that they were not scientifically based but theirs contents is, in the last line, fantastic. To claim that the Serbian people is the oldest and that he once ruled above whole Asia and Europe is really overstate. Unfortunately this books1 have their readers and followers. From time to time on the walls of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade appears inscriptions that are quoting this books and cooling professors to insert them in list of obligated literature. Assumption is that some members of two youth, student organization, Obraz and St. Justin Philosopher, write these inscriptions but there is no evidence of that.

This year, doctor of justice science and professor of Russian academy of justice Bozidar Trifunov Mitrovic continues with that talks. He underline

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1. Borislav Vlaji}-Zemljani~ki, Srbi starosedeoci Balkana i Panonije u vojnim i civilnim doga|ajima sa Rimljanima i Helenima od I do X veka, Beograd 1999; Jovan I.Dereti}, Zapadna Srbija: kratak pregled istorije Srba od 3. veka s.e. do na{ih dana, Beograd 20034; Dobroslav Jev|evi}, Od Indije do Srbije: prastari po~etci srpske istorije (hiljade godina seoba srpskog naroda kroz Aziju i Evropu preme spisima i citatima najve}ih svetskih istori~ara), Beograd 20022; Olga Lukovi}-Pjanovi}, Srbi... narod najstariji,I-II, Beograd 1990; Dra{ko [}eki}, Sorabi: istoriopis, Beograd - Podgorica 1994.

connections between Vincan alphabet and Etrurian alphabet and finds relationships between them and Cyrillic alphabet. He also claim that Serb and Russians have a ethnical connections with Veneti, people who lived north from the mouth of the river Po in Italy.

From all sides there are talks about tolerance and coliving in multiethnical communities. That is especially refers on the territory of Cosovo and Metohia. There Albanians, Serbs and other nations have to live in multiethnical communities under control of International community. But some attempts of multiethnical community can be very ridiculous. For example the recommendation of UNESCO about the monument of medieval battle that took place on Cosovo field, between Serbian and Turk army. On that monument, who is situated on Gazimestan, is a sine of st. Lazars oath to Serbian nation. UNESCO recommended that there should be a sine and on Albanian although the monument is representing Serbian past. This looks like an attempt of remodeling history.

When some people want to advertise their company or their product they may use pictures of famous Serbs or pictures that represent Serbian history. Every nation is more or less egocentric and likes to think that its history is great and big. If you like your history or if you like to see or listen about her, product that reminds you of her will, surely, attract your attention. People that work in advertising are aware of this and they use it frequently.

Many things, which refer on historical thematic are around as and we can’t see it. They become usual part of ours lives: names of streets, schools, parks, theaters and even towns; than the names of all kind of products and merchandise. Even our names and surnames have some historical background if they were given by some historical figure.

Using of historical narrative and historical myths is, and will be, present not only in the countries that once formed SFR Yugoslavia, but also in communities all over the world. It is very important how it is used. Certainly that the problem of the abusing history is not only the problem which exist in the countries of former Yugoslavia but the problem present in other countries of Europe and World. Nevertheless most of these countries is successfully fighting with them. Which can’t be tell, with big confidence, for Serbia and other states with which she once formed same country.

 

 

Nenad Lajben{perger