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serbian_krajina - 68362 - 07.04.2012 : Serbian Government Beograd - best (0)

Dossier Serbian Krajina: A country without people


It is written in the encyclopedia that the first recorded settling of Serbs in Krajina started as early as the 15th century, after the penetration of Turks further inland in the Balkan Peninsula and after the fall of the Bosnian state. In order to prevent further progress of Turks towards Central Europe, Austro-Hungary in the area of the present-day Serbian Krajina formed from Serbs, a strong defence fortification, or more precisely, a zone defended by the Serbian soldiers. And they were at that time considered to be the best in Europe. The so-called Military Krajina (Vojna Krajina) comprised northern Dalmatia, Lika, Kordun, Banija and Bosnian Krajina ( Western Bosnia). Serbian population and Serbian settlers in these areas were receiving from the Court in Vienna the land and were exempt from taxes and other dues, as one of the conditions for them to serve the army and defend Krajina from the new Turkish penetrations towards Central Europe. At that time, Serbs in Military Krajina had their cultural and religious autonomy, as well as a political (people's) self-administration. They were privileged (richer social strata of citizens and free farmers) in respect to the majority of serfs under the Hungarian feudal lords. Only a few of the noblemen from amongst Croats could expect to make a military carrier and better themselves in the social status. For this reason, many serfs-Croats, dissatisfied with their position, were joining Krajina Serbs and were thus freed from feudal and serfal servitude. All through the time, until the great interior crisis erupted in the Habsburg monarchy, the relations between Serbs (Orthodox) and Croats (Catholics) were mostly tolerant and correct. They were speaking the same language, they even shared the same churches with two altars, which has remain the practice until the 19th century. Therefore, the main and the significant difference between them was in their social status. If there were some disputes, they never had an ethnic character. The time of growing Catholicism and the withdrawal of Turks towards the south-east in the 17th and the 18th century, however, was the time when first intolerance started to erupt.


The growth and strengthening of the Catholic Church in these areas has initiated the eruption of violent unification (conversion of Serbs). Against their fee will, forced to adopt Roman-Catholic religious services, parts of Serbs in Krajina and especially in northern Dalmatia and the Coastal area, were gradually losing their ethnic character and were assimilated by the Croat (Catholic) environment. Those Serbs who did not renounce on their Orthodox faith, as well as those who have accepted the conversion but have retained their ethnic (Serbian) awareness, were being persecuted. This became especially emphatic with the strengthening of the Croat etatistic consciousness (in the second half of 19th century) and under the circumstances of weakening of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the departure of Turks from the Balkans, which left Serbs in Krajina practically devoid of their role of the European defense shield. In spite of these unfavorable developments of the historical circumstances for Serbs, they maintained in Military Krajina their compact ethnic entity. Historical events also helped them when in the year 1918, after the fall of the Austro Hungarian empire, the first Yugoslavia was created, where Serbs had given the greatest contribution through the Balkan liberation wars, expulsion of Turks from the Balkans and the victory in the World War One. In this first Yugoslavia, however, the feud between Serbs and Croats continued, to be accelerated by the coming into power of Hitler in Germany in the year 1933 and the assassination of King Alexander Karadjordjevic in 1934. Immediately prior to the World War Two the disputes between Serbs and Croats resulted, under the exterior pressure of Germany, in the formation of the Banovina Croatia. After the fall of Germany and Italy and the disintegration of the First Yugoslavia in 1941, on a broader area of Banovina Croatia and with the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was created. It is a question here of a puppet-state, a Ustashi-Fascist concoction which included also the region of Serbian (Military) Krajina. That is when the first massive genocide started over Serbs and a mass exodus of Serbian people towards Serbia. In the basic Ustashi ideology of the NDH the key position was devoted to the program of extermination of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies and the creation of an ethnically "clean Croat state". In the period 1941-1945 some 900, 000 Serbs were killed, and several hundreds of thousands of Serbs, escaping in the face of the Ustashi criminals, had found refuge in Serbia.


After the fall of the First Yugoslavia in 1941, faced with the danger of total annihilation in the Ustashi-Fascist state of Ante Pavelic, Krajina Serbs rebelled. They formed one of the strongest resistance movements in Europe. Military skills of Krajina Serbs based on centuries-long tradition of military resistance to Turks, now came to the fore. Thus, the main body of partisan units in the anti-Fascist struggle of the Yugoslav partisans in the territory of the NDH, for a long time - until September 1943 - consisted mostly of the Krajina Serbs. The key military positions in the ranks of the partisan army were held by the very able warriors - Serbian officers, and the largest number of victims in the people's liberation war 1941-1945 was suffered by Serbs. The experience of genocide and their role in the people's liberation war were the main reasons why, after the end of the war and liberation of the country in 1945, Krajina Serbs in the then-federal Croatia as a component part of second Yugoslavia, were granted the status of the constituent people. At the session of the Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Croatia held in Topusko in 1944, a historical agreement was reached between Serbs and Croats on an equitable joint life in the joint federal state of Croatia within the framework of second Yugoslavia.

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