The Shared History and The Second World War and National Question in ex Yugoslavia

The Shared History and The Second World War and National Question in ex Yugoslavia –
Conference in Seville, Spain.

January – February 2008.


Download pdf documents:

Two Questiosns About Chetniks that can be Taken as Possible Path for Opening The Controversies about The Role of Chetniks in The Secont World War from the 1941 till the 1943. (seville_darko_gavrilovic.pdf)
Drugi svjetski rat na području Istre i fenomen “fojbi“ (seville_mila_orlic.pdf)
Koncept sintetičke nacije kao proizvod ideologije konfesionalne dominacije u II svetskom ratu na prostoru Kraljevine Jugoslavije (koncept_sinteticke_nacije.pdf)
Bosniacs and Independent State of Croatia from hope and loyality to bitternes and resistance (bosnjaci_i_nezavisna_hrvatska.pdf)
The imagination of the WWII, Resistance and Collaboration in Yugoslav and Serbian Visual Media (the_imagination_of_the_wwII.pdf)
WWII in the Serbian history textbooks (wwii_in_serbian_history_textboox.pdf)
Flirting with Fascism: The Ustaša Legacy and Croatian Politics in the 1990s (flirting_with_fascism.pdf)
Royalist Chetnik Movement – interpretations in local and international historiography (royalist_chetnik_movement.pdf)
Muslim autonomism and the Partisan movement (muslim_autonism_partisan_movemen.pdf)
Rati i istoriografija (rat_i_istoriografija.pdf)


Conference „Shared History and the Second World War and National Question in Yugoslavia“, Tres Culturas Foundation, Seville (Spain),

International conference «Shared History and the Second World War and National Question in Yugoslavia» was held in Seville from January 31st to February 2nd 2008. It was organized by Center for History, Democracy and Reconciliation from Novi Sad and Tres Culturas Foundation from Seville. Introductory speeches were given by Dario Marimon and Germinal Gil on behalf of the host institution, and by Darko Gavrilovic, leader of the steering committe, on behalf of CHDR.

On the first day of the conference the participants worked in three groups: 1. Cetniks – Controversies in Historiography (participants: Darko Gavrilovic, Mile Bjelajac, Predrag Markovic, Snjezana Koren), 2. Synthetic Nations and National Concepts and Ideas during the WWII (participants: Ljubisa Despotovic, Adnan Jahic, Marko Atila Hoare, Goran Hutinec, Neven Andjelic) and 3. Remembering and Memories on WWII in Contemporary Historiography and History School Textbooks (participants: Vjeran Pavlakovic, Tvrtko Jakovina, Mila Orlic, Ljubodrag Dimic, Ranka Gasic).

The rest of the conference was held in the plenary session. Elazar Barkan from the Columbia University (USA), director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR), and Darko Gavrilovic from the Faculty of Philosophy (Novi Sad, Serbia), leader of the steering committee of the CHDR elaborated on the aim of this project and on the plans for the future.

Elazar Barkan spoke about similar projects in other parts of the world, led by IHJR: the reconciliation between Palestinians and Israeli, India and Pakistan, Turkey and Armenia, the Poles and the Jews. The scope of these projects is, among other things, making of the history maps for the period after 1948, based on the facts established by the team work within the projects. He also mentioned projects with the focus on common «sacred places», which aim at diminishing tensions between different religions. The scope of these projects is creating a common narrative, as the means of reconciliation.

Darko Gavrilovic suggested that several subject should be tackled in order to accomplish this task in the countries of ex Yugoslavia: history of refugees and camp prisoners, and the demythologization of history, especially in the history school and university textbooks.

The conclusion of the conference was that a network of researchers of different profiles in the region should be created, whose task would be to counteract the amateur and ideologically motivated history writings by documents and scholarly work. Such a network is supposed to be able to intervene in moments of social crisis and influence the public opinion.

It was also decided to start three projects: «Resistance and Collaboration» (led by Mile Bjelajac and Vjeran Pavlakovic), «Tito and the National Question» (led by Ljubodrag Dimic and Trvtko Jakovina) and «Mapping of the National Identity on the territory of ex Yugoslavia» (led by Ljubisa Despotovic and Ranka Gasic). Given that CHDR already works on three projects («Refugees in the Balkans in the 20th century», «The Second World War and the National Question», and «Myths and Stereotypes of Nationalism and Comunism») it was decided that they should be merged into a common project in order to make this joint venture more efficient.

Konferencija „Zajednička istorija i Drugi svetski rat i nacionalno pitanje u bivsoj Jugoslaviji“, Fondacija „Tres Culturas“ 

Internacionalni susret istoričara „Zajednička istorija, Drugi svetski rat i nacionalno pitanje u bivšoj Jugoslaviji“ održan je u Sevilji 31.01. 2008. do 03.02. 2008. Organizatori susreta bili su Centar za istoriju, demokratiju i pomirenje iz Novog Sada i fondacija Tres Culturas iz Sevilje. U ime domaćina skupa Dario Marimon i Germinal Gil otvorili su susret uvodnim predavanjem, a ispred Centra za istoriju, demokratiju i pomirenje rad ove ogranizacije predstavio je Darko Gavrilović, predsednik osnivačkog odbora.

Učesnici skupa su prvog dana rada bili su podeljeni u tri radne grupe: 1. Četnici – kontroverze u istoriografiji (učesnici: Darko Gavrilović, Mile Bjelajac, Predrag Marković, Snježana Koren), 2. Sintetičke nacije i nacionalni koncepti i ideje u vreme II svetskog rata (učesnici: Ljubiša Despotović, Adnan Jahić, Marko Atila Hoare, Goran Hutinec, Neven Anđelić), i 3. Sećanja i uspomene na II svetski rat u savremenoj istoriografiji i udžbenicima istorije (učesnici: Vjeran Pavlaković, Tvrtko Jakovina, Mila Orlić, Ljubodrag Dimić, Ranka Gašić).

Po završetku rada u sesijama, drugog i trećeg dana skupa, učesnici su radili u plenarnoj sednici. Cilj projekta i dalje planove ove organizacije izneli su u svojim izlaganjima Elazar Barkan, profesor na Kolumbija univerzitetu i direktor Instituta za istorijsku pravdu i pomirenje (IHJR), i Darko Gavrilović, profesor na Filozofskom fakultetu u Novom Sadu i predsednik osnivačkog odbora Centra za istoriju, demokratiju i pomirenje.

Elazar Barkan je izneo primere sličnih projekata iz drugih krajeva sveta na kojima radi IHJR: pomirenje između Palestinaca i Izraelaca, Indije i Pakistana, Turske i Jermenije, Poljaka i Jevreja. Ti projekti, između ostalog podrazumevaju pravljenje istorijskih mapa sveta za period posle 1948. godine, zasnovanih na činjenicama koje istoričari utvrđuju zajednički putem rada na ovakvim projektima. Takođe, pomenuo je i projekte koji se fokusiraju na tzv. sveta mesta, zajednička za više religija, što ima za cilj smanjenje međureligijskih tenzija. Zajednički istorijski narativ predstavlja cilj ovih projekata, kao jedan od puteva ka pomirenju.

Darko Gavrilović je izneo konkretne predloge za obradu tema koje treba da doprinesu postizanju ovog cilja na teritoriji država bivše Jugoslavije: izučavanje istorije izbeglica i logoraša, kao i demitologizacija istorije, posebno putem školskih i univerzitetskih udžbenika.

Na skupu je zaključeno da treba formirati mrežu istraživača različitih profila iz svih zemalja regiona, čiji bi zadatak bio da odgovaraju na vannaučne i ideološki motivisane istorijske sadžaje putem dokumenata i naučnih radova. Takva mreža bi bila u stanju da na naučnoj i stručnoj osnovi reaguje u momentima krize u društvu i ostvari efekat na javno mnjenje.

Da bi se napori okupljenih istoričara konkretizovali donesene su odluke o budućim projektima: „Otpori i kolaboracije“ (vođe projekta Mile Bjelajac i Vjeran Pavlaković), „Tito i nacionalno pitanje“ (vođe projekta Ljubodrag Dimić i Tvrtko Jakovina) i „Mapiranje nacionalnih identiteta na prostoru Jugoslavije“ (vođe projekta Ljubiša Despotović i Ranka Gašić). Pošto je CHDR već razvio tri projekta „Izbeglice na Balkanu u 20. veku“, „Drugi svetski rat i nacionalno pitanje“ te „Mitovi i stereotipi nacionalizma i komunizma“ donesena je odluka da se postojeći projekti objedine u jedan zajednički projekt kako bi sinergija okupljenih istoričara, sociologa i politikologa bila veća.

Background Ideas

The horrors perpetrated in World War Two exceeded anything ever experienced in Western civilization. Claims of racial superiority were invoked to justify inhuman atrocities. Nazis and fascists used spurious arguments of racial and national superiority to fuel their war efforts in the European theater of battle. But they were not alone in using racist and chauvinistic propaganda.

No one nation has ever controlled the Balkans, and Hitler understood that he must rule not by occupation but by collaboration. Some Balkan collaborators joined puppet governments through an ideological commitment to fascism. One of the German puppet states was set up in Croatia, which had been part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941.

The state of Yugoslavia had been created in 1918 by consolidating different nations and ethnic groups as part of the postwar peace settlement. The divide between the Serbs and Croats was partly due to religious differences – Croats are historically Catholic, the Serbs Orthodox – but for the most part, their enmity was based on competing claims over the South Slavic lands (especially Bosnia and Herzegovina and over the national identity of the Bosnian Muslims), the desire to dominate Southern Slav unity efforts, and different national interests and claims at the beginning of the twentieth century. Various historic milestones have been commemorated on both sides as part of their litany of grievances against each other. In 1928, for example, Croatian members of the Yugoslav parliament were assassinated by the Serb politician Puniša Racic, which increased Croatian mistrust of a Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.

In World War Two, part of the Croatian population sympathized with the Nazi occupiers. A pro-fascist Croatian terrorist movement, the ustaše, declared the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in the midst of the Axis attack on Yugoslavia in April 1941. This regime committed genocide against Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and Croatian antifascists who lived in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which became a part of the new Croatian state under the patronage of Germany. Serbs in the NDH, who bore the brunt of the regime’s criminal policies, soon flocked to two mutually antagonistic resistance movements. One part joined Dragoljub Mihailovic and his pro-monarchist forces (commonly known as the cetniks), while the other fought on the side of the communist-led partisans, commanded by the Croat Josip Broz Tito. Tito’s army consisted of Serbs, Croats, Muslims and other ethnic groups. During the war, the ?etniks committed ethnic cleansing and massacres in Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Muslims, while in Dalmatia they terrorized the Croat population. Yugoslavia’s Muslims were also divided between those who supported the ustaše and those who fought on the side of the multiethnic partisans. The unsolved national question that had preoccupied the interwar Kingdom of Yugoslavia erupted into full-scale civil war and ethnic cleansing during the Second World War. At the end of World War Two, the partisans committed crimes against Croats, Serbs and Muslims who were alleged to have collaborated with the Axis occupiers.

After taking control of Yugoslavia at the end of the war, Tito’s communists suppressed the truth about the postwar liquidations and revenge against their political opponents. Under Tito’s rule, the unsolved national question and ethnic differences were held in check. At the end of the 1980s, the disintegration of the communist system resurrected the ghosts of World War Two and opened a Pandora’s Box of competing historical narratives and revisionism. Rekindled hatreds and fears, most related to the trauma of World War Two, were spread by nationalist politicians who sought to occupy the vacuum created by the collapse of communism, which played a leading role in Yugoslavia’s violent destruction in the 1990s.

Goal

One of the main reasons for the war in ex-Yugoslavia during the 1990s was the unsolved national question, which led to the tragedy of World War Two and which was subsequently muffled during Socialist Yugoslavia. Still today, the national question remains a contentious issue in the Yugoslav successor states, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This conference seeks to investigate the continuing debates and issues regarding the World War Two period in Yugoslavia and its impact on contemporary politics. The goal is to shed light on events from recent history in order to understand current political processes and misunderstandings that are still alive today.