False Rhetoric and Flawed Logic:

Underestimating Literature

by Vanita Singh Mukerji


            The Dayton Peace Agreement (December 1995) brought the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which began in April 1992, to an end.  A sovereign state of Bosnia-Herzegovina maintaining its pre-war boundaries was created, consisting however of two entities—Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The implementation of a Stabilization Plan for Bosnia-Herzegovina devolved on numerous international bodies, the civilian aspects of the peace agreement being overseen by the “High Representative” appointed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. Empowered to impose legislation on the entities, High Representative Carlos Westendorp  decided on the statelet’s flag,  the content  of its school textbooks, and unilaterally fired the Bosnian Serb president (Nikola Poplasen) chosen in Western-run “free” elections on 5 March, 1999. Addressing the Seminar on “History curricula and textbooks in Bosnia and Herzegovina (5 April 2001) organized by UNESCO and the Georg Eckert Institute, and speaking as a student of history, High Representative Jacques Klein urged  “all the people of the former-Yugoslav republics” to “undertake an honest reckoning with the past,” asserting that “the real causes of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s destruction came from outside the country itself,” unequivocally adding: “The culprits are most likely to be the political and security strategy of a historically flawed leadership in Belgrade, and a lack of understanding and political will to engage by the West.”[i]


            The issues raised by the High Representative go deep into the core of the organic link between society and art, especially literature. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, as in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, literature has been an important facet of society’s aspirations, made all the more relevant by the spread of literacy. The expression of social values through literature is not a phenomenon unique to Balkan society, and Europe itself has a long and rich tradition of such literary works expressing national values and pride. It is also a fact that major works of national literature, and art, in Europe have a universal appeal and impact. An essential component of the universal appeal of such literature has been its ability to show how local or even national patterns of the human condition are at the same time part of a larger and universal social manifestation, and moral values of good and evil are as much individual as general. It is therefore all the more important not to underestimate literature when engaged in an exercise such as the High Representative’s reform program.


            Taking education as an imperative “catalyst for the process of healing” a war-scarred, quasi-divided society, the department of the OHR’s senior educational advisor Claude Kieffer has been coordinating round tables of educational issues and the “Textbook Review Project”, whereby textbooks are searched for inflammatory content or hatred speech. It might be noted that by 1998, when reconsideration of textbooks was initiated in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Georg Eckert Institute had already published the results of its first research project on them; furthermore, in collaboration with UNESCO it published in 1999 the “UNESCO Guide on Textbook Research and Textbook Revision.”[ii] The report by Heidelberg Professor Volker Lenhart et al., commissioned for UNESCO, completed in August 1999, examined the curricula and the textbooks of the ‘national subjects’ in Bosnia and Hercegovina, with the professed goal of “accelerat[ing] EFP [Education For Peace] to remove bias from textbooks and curricula and to develop a curriculum which will enable the children from each community to value all the cultures of Bosnia  and Herzegovina.”[iii]  It was being argued that “[l]anguage, history, nature and society, but also geography, fine arts and music can be used not only to construct a certain identity, but also to promote racial hatred and intolerance.”[iv] On the basis of a review of some 250 textbooks carried out by international experts, in a relatively short period, itself an incredible task, a Committee of Ministers “agreed on which items or passages in literature, language, history, geography, art and music textbooks should be deleted or temporarily marked as ‘containing material whose authenticity has not been verified.’” [v] Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, the members of a joint committee reviewing textbooks requested their identities be kept secret.[vi] The removal of “offensive” material from schoolbooks before the start of the 1999/2000 school year was one of the minimal requirements for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the Council of Europe. The Mostar Agreement on Removal of Objectionable  Material from textbooks (19 July, 1999) was arrived at in this specific context.[vii]


            However, the question arises as to whether, in the urgency to reform textbooks,  the international representatives have overreached their hand? In an Orwellian newmessianicrevisionistspeak, concepts such as “egregious instances of nationalism and prejudice,” “inflammatory content, “offensive material” were used as yardsticks of this vigilant ongoing elimination exercise. The grands simplificateurs pounced on unacceptable words, sentences, chapters, and pictures, leaving the school children using the textbooks to battle disfigured, truncated texts.  Creative works of art, even classics of world literature, were being seen as grist for the censor’s mill. The list of proscribed texts for Republika Srpska schoolbooks  extended even to the 1961 Nobel Laureate Dr. Ivo Andric, the works of folk musical heritage that included the elegiac  Tamo Daleko” and “Krece se Ladja Francuska” of World War I vintage, and Yugoslavia’s national anthem “Hej Sloveni”.[viii] These Serbian language texts had been published by Serbia’s Ministry of Education in Belgrade. Likewise, Ivan Gundulic’s verses “Oh beautiful, oh dear, oh sweet freedom . . .”, the picture of the Baska Tablet—a stone slab with a glagolitic inscription from the end of the eleventh century--and the Croatian national anthem “Ljepa nasa[ix] were deleted from textbooks for Croatian children published by the Education Ministry in Zagreb.


            The criteria applied in consigning these texts to oblivion are truly mystifying. Can factually well-established events of Balkan history simply be wished away? The Communist ideologues were adept at erasing, rewriting, and even reinventing history. Can the ideal of liberty inadvertently assume negative connotations? Is yearning or love for one’s country a perversity? If so, Rupert Brooke’s sonnet “The Soldier”[x] would be similarly censored by the High Representative’s expert commission for textbook revision. And are not national anthems above denigration? If the answers to all these questions are in the affirmative then the decision on these works could be attributed to some other, non-academic motive.


            In post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina, the children in all the three ethnic communities use different textbooks. Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) pupils learn from domestic textbooks complete with Islamic symbols on the front page and printed by the Bosnian government in Sarajevo; in the Bosnian areas, the new curriculum was introduced in 1994, i.e. before the end of the war.[xi] Guided by OSCE, OHR, ECMM and SFOR-CIMIC research throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, school compliance was monitored through spot checks. The Banja Luka Agreement (August 1999) stipulated OHR top-down procedures, under which “Objectionable material,” as identified by an international team of experts, was to be “either removed or annotated . . . Material to be removed will be obliterated by blacking in the textbooks. Material to be annotated will be marked by  use of a stamp on the page on which the objectionable material is found”; “The stamps used to mark material designated for annotation will read in one of the local languages: ‘The following passage contains material of which the truth has not been established, or that it may be offensive or misleading. The material is currently under review’”; “Markers, pens etc. used to blacken out text must be non-transparent and cover the complete text specified”.[xii] Discussion on the Banja Luka Agreement was dismissed thus by a young cantonal Minister of Education in Bosnia-Herzegovina: 18 of the 32 schools in his canton had complied, his office board indicated; the stand on non-compliance was clear—the head teacher would be replaced.[xiii]  Schools with a Bosniak curriculum were found to have the highest level of compliance, followed closely by schools with the Croat curriculum. Schools borrowing the Serb curriculum had the highest level of partial or non-compliance level.[xiv]


            “Textbook analysis aims at eliminating factual errors; identifying deliberate omissions and distortions; uncovering stereotypes and “hidden messages,”[xv] writes the deputy director of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research. If this yardstick were to be applied to Ivo Andric’s masterpiece, The Bridge on the Drina, objective critical evaluation and unscrupulous political interests would be mutually exclusive. Curiously enough, the well-known and often-quoted extract from Andric’s Bridge on the Drina, which featured in a grammar lesson on the passive voice for seventh-graders,[xvi] does not describe the medieval torture and massacre of Serbs by Muslim Turkish invaders as asserted by the journalist in a report in The Los Angeles Times .[xvii]  Nevertheless, the newspaper adds: “Teachers were told to rip out the two-page lesson.”[xviii]


             The blackened out extract reflected the Turkish “blood tribute” (adzami-oglan) levied on the Slavic Serbian Orthodox population, which resulted in the splitting-up of families. The heart-rending familial tragedies, described so vividly and in considerable depth in Chapter 2 of  Andric’s  Bridge on the Drina,[xix] were behind the procurance of proselytes for Islam and the ironic access a subject people were provided to the Ottoman oligarchy. This singular Bosnian paradox, subsuming both the tragedy of Slavic losses and the glory of Islamic gains through the utilization of Bosnia’s intellectual and military potential as a Turkish asset, was notably exemplified in the destiny of a Serbian boy from the village of Sokolovic. Abducted and ferried across the Drina in his childhood, in time it was as the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic that he commissioned the bridge on the Drina at Visegrad and raised the power and prestige of Suleiman the Mangnificent. In the land of his birth, however, the Kanun-i-raja (code of laws for non-Muslim subjects drawn up by Caliph Omar al Katab in Damascus in 635 A.D.) encroached on the moral, spiritual and economic life of the non-Muslim population. More to the point: does the Andric text perpetuate vicious nonsense about ethnic separation, or is it grounded on independently verifiable history that dates back centuries? Does the censored text discourage independent thought, reasoned argument, or recognition of a diversity of views?


            The issue of Ivo Andric, who was reared in the Roman Catholic faith, and his literary opus in Daytonian Bosnia holds both a mirror and a lamp for future times, not least in the institutionalized forms of bilateral, regional and European cooperation in the education sector targeted at new generations. With the start of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, certain elements of the Muslim population in the republic destroyed the Nobel laureate’s monument in Visegrad, burned his books, and banned his writings from their cultural-educational institutions. In contemporary Bosnia, as a result of international pressure on the Ministry of Education in Republika Srpska, and without approval of the National Parliament, passages from Andric’s texts have been permanently excluded from the school curriculum, and a moratorium imposed on some of his other writings pending a final decision. [xx]  This is all the more ironical, especially since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1961 with The Bridge on the Drina, Ivo Andric has had a near-exclusive role in linking Yugoslav literature with a broader Western tradition, and  been “identified in the West with the image of the bridge,” an identification  that “also stands for his position as a writer who worked to create a unified  identity”[xxi] for Yugoslav society.  As continuing academic scholarship and the publication of new editions of Andric’s writings serve to show, Andric is still “of great interest to those wishing to understand the forces that kept Yugoslavia together and those that tore it apart”.[xxii]


            The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, currently offers an interesting course option—“Fiction and History: Ivo Andric and the Case of Bosnia”—towards an M.A. degree in History. The course description merits attention in itself:


            . . .  a detailed study of the work of the Yugoslav Nobel-prizewinner, Ivo Andric, with particular reference to the way it treats the history of Bosnia. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the work of this major twentieth-century European writer and to compare his fictional portrayal of Bosnia with selected historical studies in order to explore questions about the relationship of history to fiction. Given the ways in which history has been employed in the recent conflicts in former Yugoslavia, the Bosnian example also raises the question of why this issue matters.

            The work of Ivo Andric is rooted in a detailed portrayal of the history of his native Bosnia and its culture. Seeing history as an inescapable dimension in the formation of an individual, Andric explores in his fictional characters ways in which they are affected by the circumstances in which they live, whether as representatives of authority or ordinary citizens caught up in events over which they have no control. His novels and short stories abound in precise historical detail. During the conflict in Bosnia, they became required reading for international observers, military officers and policy-makers because of the insights they offer for an understanding of the region. His works have also been exploited by members of the opposing factions in order to demonstrate the validity of their conflicting attitudes. Discussion of these themes will draw on the current   historiographical debate about the relationship between fiction and history: the extent to which history can recover and represent the past through narrative. Recent writers on historiography and the philosophy of history have analysed the ways history writing is constructed, borrowing strategies from literature. This has raised a number of issues about the status of history. Comparative readings of Andric and the history of Bosnia will examine shared narrative techniques; analyse the ways historians (and others) claim privileged access to the past and to truth . . .   



            The zealous obsession of the international community in overseeing an ambitious project of social engineering in Bosnia-Herzegovina to fit a curiously anti-particularist multi-culturist agenda, viz. to foster the sense of a common identity and citizenship of Bosnia-Herzegovina, aligned with the security interests of NATO, is turning into a ludicrous exercise in thought-control. Such an effort is also conceptually against the pan-European identity which the European Union is implementing across the entire continent. Internationally-funded projects in the education sector include those of private groups such as the Soros Foundation until recently, and inter-governmental groups as UNICEF, UNESCO, the OHR, The Council of Europe, and the Education For Peace (EFP) Program For Children and Youth sponsored by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The complicating factor in this is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Constitutional Autonomy with regard to education, viz.  educational policies  being under the jurisdiction of the respective entities, conducing ostensibly to reinforcing divisive and segregative tendencies that are reflected in continued stereotypical and enemy-oriented presentations of history in textbooks. As a response to the challenges of education in Bosnia’s transition to a more democratic society, the international  initiatives are intended to  pave the way for peaceful conflict resolution and to strengthen the intercultural dimension, especially in textbooks.


            The long-term aim of the international revisionists is to achieve a balance between regional, national and global approaches in the realm of history,  even possibly, as textbook methodologists demonstrate, by introducing new theories in the didactics of history. National bias, however, is known to die slowly. The English and the Scots furnish a striking example: “[i]n April 1605, soon after England and Scotland were joined in personal union, Sir Francis Bacon wrote to the Lord Chancellor recommending that ‘one just and complete history be compiled of both nations.’ His wish has not yet been granted.”[xxiii]



[i] See: Jacques Klein’s address in United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) document. Available at: http://www.unmibh.org/news/srgspe/2001/05apr01.asp

[ii] See: Report by Ann Low-Beer, “Seminar on History Curricula and Textbooks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo 5-8 April,” Stability Pact For South-Eastern Europe, UNESCO, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research. Available at: http://www.gei.de/english/projekte/southeast/report_ann_low-beer.shtml

            The Georg Eckert Institute, established in 1975, is named after the German historian Georg Eckert from Braunschweig. The Institute inherited a tradition  of international textbook revision, such as the 1951 “Franco-German Agreement on Controversial Issues in European History” and the 1985 “German-Israeli Textbook Recommendations,” which were arrived at with the consent of the major parties involved in the controversies. However, as the case of the 1975 “Recommendations for History and Geography Textbooks in the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of Poland” showed, such projects could also generate long and bitter controversy. In this context, the effectiveness of the current initiative of the Institute regarding Serbian and Croatian literature, without participation by Belgrade or Zagreb, remains a moot point.

[iii] Volker Lenhart, Anastasia Kesidou, Stephan Stockmann, “The curricula of the national subjects in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Report to UNESCO,” Heidelberg, August 1999.

[iv] See: Christof Bender, “Searching for a Strategy: Multi-ethnicity, Tolerance and National Stereotypes in the Educational Systems of Bosnia and Herzegovina” (1998), Southeast European Educational Initiatives and Cooperations for Peace, Mutual Understanding, Tolerance, and Democracy, in the series Individual  Country Reports, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

[v] Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina—Parliamentary Recommendation 1454 (2000).

[vi] See: Brian Murphy and Elena Becatoros,“To plant seeds of Balkan peace, reformers look to cleanse schoolbooks of hate,” AP, Turkish Daily News, 23 January 2001.

[vii] See: “Agreement on removal of objectionable material from Textbooks to be used in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1999-2000 School Year (Mostar July 1999), South-East Europe Textbook Network, Bosnia and Hercegovina.  Available at http://www.ffzg.hr/seetn/states/bih/textbook_revision_process.htm

[viii] See Aleksandra Priestfield, “Rewriting History,” Swans, June 5, 2000, at http://www.swans.com/library/art6/alekp003.html]. Also see Appendices 1,2,3 & 4 for texts and translations of Serbian censored texts.

[ix] See Appendices 5 & 6 for texts and translations of Croatian censored texts.

[x] See Appendix 7 for the text of “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke. Brooke [1887-1915] had been part of a military expedition to the Dardanelles.

[xi] See OECD document  in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe series,“Thematic Review of National Policies for Education—Bosnia and Herzegovina CCNM/DEELSA/ED (2001)3, 27 September, 2001: “As far as Bosniaks are concerned, their curriculum reflects to a great extent the pre-Dayton cultural  and historical ideal of that community,” whatever that might mean.

[xii] Quoted from Implementation of the Agreement of 19 July 1999 on Removal of Objectionable Material from Textbooks to be used in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1999-2000 school year—[August 1999], South-East Europe Textbook Network, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Available at http://www.ffzg.hr/seetn/states/bih/textbook_revision_process.html


[xiii] See: Ann Low-Beer in “Politics, school textbooks and cultural identity: the struggle in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”  Also see the OHR’s warning in HRCC Human Rights Quarterly Report, February 2000, OHR; and “Delays in the Education Textbook Review,” OHR Sarajevo, August 6, 1999.  

[xiv] In an update on textbook rewriting and revision implementation, the 21st Report by the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace agreement to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (March 5, 2002), stated :”Following the discovery of a number of textbooks containing anti-Dayton, or otherwise objectionable or improper materials, especially in RS, my Office launched a new phase of the textbook review.”

[xv] See Falk Pingel on Textbooks,  Journal [methodology], March-April 1998, vol 2, no. 2, at http://www.civnet.org/journal/issue 6/mefpin.htm.

[xvi] The extract is provided in Appendix 1 to this paper.

[xvii] See: Paul Watson, “Postwar Bosnia Still Settling Ethnic Hatreds,” LA Times, November 19, 2000.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] See: Na Drini cuprija, Sabrana Djela Ive Andric, I (Sarajevo:Svjetlost, 1981), pp. 23-25. Also see n. 16.

[xx] See: Pismo Predraga Lazarevica Svedskoj akademiji koja dodjeluje Nobelovu nagradu za knjizevnost. Also see: Lazarevic’s Letter to The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer available at http://www.balkanpeace.org/cib/bos/bos21.html

[xxi] See Charles Greer’s Book Review “Ivo Andric Revisited: The Bridge Still Stands,” CSEES Newsletter.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Quoted from Norman Davies, Europe: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p.36.




Appendix 1:  Serbo-Croat text from Ivo Andric, Na drini cuprija.



            Toga novembarskog dana stigla je na levu obalu reke dugacka povorka natovarenih konja i zaustavila se da tu konaci. Janjicarski aga sa oruzanom pratnjom, vracao se za Carigrad, posto je po selima istocne Bosne pokupio odreden broj hriscanske dece za adzami-oglan.

            . . . bez teskoca je naden potreban broj zdrave, bistre i naocite muske dece izmedu desete i petnaeste godine, iako su mnogi roditelji sakrivali decu u sumu, ucili ih da se pretvaraju da su maloumni ili da  hramlju, odevali ih u dronjke i pustali u necistoci, samo da izmaknu aginom izboru. Neki su i stvarno sakatili  rodenu decu, sekuci im po jedan prst na ruci.

            . . . Na izvesnom odstojanju od posljednih konja u ovom neobicnom karavanu, isli su, rastrkani i zadihani mnogi roditelji ili rodaci ove dece, koja se odvode zauvek da u tudem svetu budu obrezana, poturcena i da, zaboravivsi svoju veru, svoju kraj i svoje poreklo, provedu zivot u janjicarskim odama ili u nekoj drugoj, visoj sluzbi Carstva. To su bile vecinom zene, ponajvise majke, babe i sestre otetih decaka . . . [Zene] bi se tada razbezale . . . ali bi se malo posle opet sakupljale iza povorke i naprezale da suznim ocima jos jednom ugledaju iznad sepetke glavu deteta koje im odvode. Narocito su uporne i nezadrzljive bile majke. One su jurile, gazeci zustro i ne gledajuci gde staju, razdrljenih grudi, rascupane, zaboravljajuci sve oko sebe, zapevale su i naricale kao za pokojnikom, druge su raspamecene jaukale, urlale kao da im se u porodajnim bolovima cepa materica, obnevidele od placa naletale pravo na suharijske biceve i na svaki udarac bica odgovarale bezumnim pitanjem: ‘Kud ga vodite? Kud mi ga vodite?’ Neke su pokusavale da razgovetno dozovu svoga decaka i da mu daju jos nesto od sebe, koliko moze da stane u dve reci, neku poslednju preporuku ili opomenu na put.

            --Rade, sine, nemoj make zaboravit’ . . .

            --Ilija! Ilija! Ilijavikala je druga zena, trazeci ocajno pogledom poznatu, dragu glavu, i ponavljala je to neprestano kao da bi htela da detetu usece u pamet to ime koje ce mu vec kroz koji dan zauvek biti oduzeto.”


English translation:

            “On that November day a long convoy of laden horses arrived on the left bank of the river and halted there to spend the night. The aga of the janissaries, with armed escort, was returning to Stambul after collecting from the villages of eastern Bosnia the appointed number of Christian children for the blood tribute.

             . . . the necessary number of healthy, bright and good-looking lads between ten and fifteen years old had been found without difficulty, even though many parents had hidden their children in the forests, taught them how to appear half-witted, clothed them in rags and let them get filthy, to avoid the aga’s choice. Some went so far as to maim their own children, cutting off one of their fingers. . . . A little way behind the last horses in that strange convoy straggled, dishevelled and exhausted, many  parents and relatives of those children who were being carried away for ever to a foreign world, where they would be circumcised, become Turkish and, forgetting their faith, their country and their origin, would pass their lives in the ranks of the janissaries or in some other, higher, service of the Empire. They were for the most part women, mothers, grandmothers and sisters of the stolen children.

            [The women] would fly in all directions . . . only to gather again a little later behind the convoy and strive with tear-filled eyes to see once again over the panniers the heads of the children who were being taken from them. The mothers were especially persistent and hard to restrain. Some would rush forward not looking where they were going, with bare breasts, and dishevelled hair, forgetting everything about them, wailing and lamenting as at a burial, while others almost out of their minds moaned as if their wombs were being torn by birth-pangs, and blinded with tears ran right on to the horsemen’s whips and replied to every blow with the fruitless question: ‘Where are you taking him? Why are you taking him from me?’ Some tried to speak clearly to their children and to give them some last part of themselves, as much as might be said in a couple of words, some recommendation or advice for the way. . . .

            Rade, my son, don’t forget your mother. . . .’

            Ilija, Ilija, Ilija!’ screamed another woman, searching desperately with her glances for the dear well-known head and repeating this incessantly as if she wished to carve into the child’s memory that name which would in a day or two be taken from him forever. [Translated from the Serbo-Croat by Lovett F. Edwards. See: Ivo Andric, The Bridge on the Drina (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978), pp. 23-25.]




Appendix 2:  Tamo Daleko” [ There far away] (narodna pesma/folk song)


                                                                                    English Translation


Tamo daleko,                                                            There far away,

Gde cveta beli krin,                                                   Where the white lily blooms,           

Tamo su zivot dali,                                                    There laid down their lives,

Zajedno otac i sin.                                                     Together father and son.


Tamo daleko,                                                            There far away,

Gde cveta limun zut,                                      Where the yellow lemon tree Tamo je srpskoj vojsci,                                           blossoms,

Jedini bio put.                                                            There the Serb army

                                                                                    Had only one option.

Tamo daleko,

Na Krfu zivjeh ja                                                     There far away,

Ali sam uvek klic’o:                                                   On Corfu lived I -

zivela Srbija!”                                                           But always I cheered

                                                                                    “Long live Serbia!”




*“. . . in the Balkan theater, superior Austrian forces steadily gained the     upper hand. They occupied Belgrade (October 1915), Montenegro, and         Albania (1916). A heroic Serbian retreat across the mountains to the        Dalmatian coast provided the stuff of legend. In 1915 the Serbs were corralled into Macedonia, where Bulgaria joined the Austrian attack. But        the Macedonian Front held, partly through French support via    Thessalonika.” [Norman Davies, Europe: A History, p. 907.]


·        “Today, just south of the present Macedonian frontier with Greece, there remains a simple, unkempt and windswept memorial overlooking the plain on which are inscribed the words: ‘To the heroic youths of Great Britain, France, Italy and Serbia, who, faithful to the commands of their ancestors, fought in these places and died for freedom and world peace 1916-1918.’ . . . . In the early  1990s Serbian television sometimes showed a documentary that had been made on Corfu. The filmmakers had taken some of the veterans of the retreat and the survivors of the epidemics back to the island, where they talked about their experiences. Then, to the faint strains of the wartime song ‘Tamo Daleko’ (‘Over There, Far Away’), which recalled their distant country, the old men tossed flowers into the sea. More than seventy years before, in what they called this ‘blue grave’, they had tipped the bodies of their dead comrades-in-arms.” [Tim Judah, The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 101.]      




Appendix 3: “Krece se ladja francuska”[The French Boat is sailing] (narodna pesma/folk song)



                                                                                    English Translation


More je plavo, siroko                                                The sea is blue, wide

Siroko, plavo, duboko.                                             Wide, blue, deep.

Nigde  mu kraja videti!                                             Its end nowhere in sight

Ne mogu misli podneti.                                            I cannot bear to think.


Ladja se krece francuska,                                        The French boat is sailing,

Sa pristanista solunska.                                           From the Salonika pier,

Transport se krece Srbadi,                                      The transport is carrying Serbs,

Srbadi, braca ranjeni.                                               Serbs, my wounded brothers.


Svaki se vojnik borio,                                               Each soldier fought,

U rovu slavu slavio.                                                   In the trench, celebrated his Srecan se Bogu molio,                                             glory,

Da bi se kuci vratio.                                                  Happily he prayed to God

                                                                                    That he should return home.

Radosti nema za tren,         

Naidje svapski sumaren.                                          Joy is but fleeting,

Sve mole svetog Nikolu,                                           It finds the dismal German.

Njegovu silu na moru.                                               All pray to St Nicolas,

                                                                                    For his strength at sea.

Putujem tuzan, zalostan,

Pomislih: Boze, nisam sam.                                    I journey sad, miserable,

I moja braca putuju,                                                   Thinking: God, I am not alone.

Da sa mnom zajedno tuguju                                    For my brothers are journeying

                                                                                    Together with me in grief.



* “From [Durres  and Vlore on the Albanian coast, the Serbs] were evacuated by the French to Corfu. But the agony was not yet over. Epidemics swept through the Serbian camps and in an effort to contain them the sick were quarantined on two little islands off the coast. In the two months to March 1916, 11,000 soldiers died of disease and 7,000 of them had to be buried at sea. ‘The bodies were piled up one on top of the other until the heap was sometimes three metres deep. The night fell, they were put on barges and thrown into the open sea.’” [Tim Judah, The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, pp. 101-102.]




Appendix 4:“Hej Sloveni” [O Slavs!]

Lyrics: Samuel Tomasik [1813-1887]. Adopted: 1946



                                                                                    English Translation


Hej Sloveni, jos ‘te zivi                                              O Slavs! In you still lives,

Duh nasih dedova,                                                    The spirit of our forefathers,

Dok za narod srce bije                                             As long as the heart of our

Njihovih sinova.                                                         people beats

                                                                                    in their sons.

Zivi, zivi duh slovenski

Zivet ce vekov’ma!                                                    It is alive, alive the spirit of Slavs

Zalud preti ponor pakla,                                           It will live for centuries!

Zalud vatra groma.                                                    In vain menaces the abyss of                                                                                               hell,

                                                                                    In vain the fire of thunder.

Nek se sada i nad nama                 

Burom sve raznese!                                                  Let now and above us

Stena puca, dub se lama,                                        The tempest blow all away!

Zemlja nek se trese!                                     The rock splits, the oak splinters,

                                                                                    Let the earth tremble!

Mi stojimo postojano

Kano klisurine,                                                           We stand as steadfast

Proklet bio izdajica                                                   as the cliffs,

Svoje domovine!                                                       Damned be the traitor

                                                                                    Of his homeland!




Appendix 5:“O ljepa, o draga” [ Oh beautiful, oh dear]

From “Himna Slobodi” [ Hymn to Freedom] by Ivan Gundulic [1589-1638]




                                                                                    English Translation


O ljepa, o draga,                                                       Oh beautiful, oh dear,

O slatka slobodo,                                                      Oh sweet freedom,

Dar u kom sva blaga,                                               Gift in which all is blessed,

Visnji nam bog je do,                                                Which God has given us.


Uzroce istini                                                               The roots of truth

Od nase slave,                                                          of our glory,

Uresu jedini                                                                The solitary adornment

Od ove Dubrave;                                                       of this Dubrava;


Sva srebra, sva zlata,                                               All silver, all gold,

Svi ljudski zivoti                                                         all human life

Ne mogu bit plata                                                      cannot be paid for

Tvoj cistoj ljepoti!                                                       By your beauty!




*Gundulic’s pastoral play Dubrava (1628) ends with a hymn to freedom containing these verses.




Appendix 6: “Ljepa nasa” [ Our beautiful…]

Lyrics: Antun Mihanovic [1796-1861]





                                                                                    English Translation


Ljepa nasa domovino                                               Beautiful homeland of ours,

Oj junacka zemljo  milo,                                            Oh brave and sweet land,

Stare slave dedovino,                                               the ancient glory of our ancestors

Da bi vazda cestna bila!                                          May you always be venerated!


Mila, kano si nam slavna,                                         Dear, you are our glory,

Mila si nam ti jedina,                                     Dear, you are for us unique,

Mila, kuda si nam ravna,                                          Dear, where are your valleys,

Mila, kuda si planina!                                                Dear, where your mountains!


Teci, Save hitra, teci                                     Flows the swift Sava, flows

Nit’ ti Dunaj silu gubi,                                                not losing its force the Danube,

Kud li sumis, svetu reci:                                            Wherever you murmur, tell the Da svogdoma Horvat ljubi,            world:

                                                                                    That the Croat loves his country,

Dok mu njive sunce grije,

Dok mu hrastje bura vije,                                          Till the sun warms his fields,

Dok mu mrtve grob sakrije,                                      Till the wild wind whips his oaks,

Dok mu zivo serdce bije!                                         Till his dead grave conceals,

                                                                                    Till his living heart beats!



 *The lyrics of the Croatian anthem originally appeared in the newspaper Danica (March 14, 1835); only the first 8 lines and the last 8 lines of the verses were adopted for the official anthem.

            The musical score was written in the 1840s by Josip Runjanin, a Croatian Serb, and was based on Donizetti’s “O sole piu ratto from the opera “Lucia di Lammermoor; in 1861 the score underwent some minor changes by Lichtenegger.




Appendix 7: “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke




If I should die, think only this of me:

            That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

            In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

            Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam

A body of England’s breathing English air,

            Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.


And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

            A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

                        Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

            And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

                        And hearts at peace, under an English heaven.