The European Hoodlum Democracy Will
Not Break the Serbs
We, the Jews, have survived thanks to such
a historical conscience. We have survived for two thousand years through
deep religious feelings nurturing a most powerful national identity and
that is what made our survival possible. The Serbs allowed Communism to
break them up so much in fifty years that they were willing to disown everything
within their roots, to disown their national identity, and to feel ashamed
of the word 'nationalism.' Nationalism is a wonderful
word. Whoever loves his own people is also capable of loving other people.
Yet you agree to this being partly eradicated in yourselves! You
are unfortunate in the fact that a very honorable part of the Serbian nation,
the Montenegrins, became the most ardent Communists. They allowed their
churches to be overgrown with weeds, and even trees to grow out of them!
The question that can really be posed is, what can be expected of a people
who allow everything characterizing them, their very being and their essence
to simply disappear in just fifty years, because somebody else decided
that it be so?
You have also agreed to something even worse. I don't
want to engage now in inhumane arithmetic in order to debate the number
of victims in Jasenovac Concentration Camp; 30,000 according to Tudjman,
as opposed to 750,000 according to Dr. Milan Bulajic. It is only the data
published by the latter that I am taking seriously. I don't want to discuss
such inhumane arithmetic. However, it is tragic that the Serbs had not
agreed to count their dead, that only after fifty years you are breaking
the concrete covers of the pits and counting the bones within. I am simply
unable to understand that I can love you endlessly, I can live with you,
but I can't understand that, and accept that you had agreed to it. Serious
scientists will really have to look one day into the problem of what happened
to you: where were the elements that made a distinction between yourselves
and others in your history and what made you agree to become the same as
others? You agreed to your not being allowed to count your dead, and you
agreed to your not being allowed to speak about them. And now you are wondering
why the world is not aware of what you have experienced. It is not wonder
that the world is not aware.
We, the Jews, did something else. We had six million victims
in the last war alone, including 1.5 million children that suffocated in
the gas chambers. We disclosed these facts to the world, we listed all
the victims and said: Never Again! The world understood. You can no longer
have a situation in which the Jews can be exposed to any mass pogrom, with
the world being so deaf and dumb, as it was in 1941. There is a beautiful
kibbutz in Israel, in which among other things, there is also a house in
memory of victims of the last war. One of the floors in that house is cobbled,
like the streets in all major European cities in which the Jews were exposed
to pogroms. Namely, the genuine cobblestones from these cities are laid
there. There are six large rocks whose shadows are projected on a wall
with the air of reflectors. These six shadows denote that six million Jewish
victims, six shadows on the conscience of mankind that paid no heed to
them. You know, when I think about the Serbs who
had lost almost a million people in the Second World War and agreed not
to speak about such victims, I simply can't understand it. And now, it
is terrible that your are again having victims, horror, and hell. It
is horrifying to learn about the young people who are killed on the battlefields
and the young people who are left without their limbs...eyes...
We were banished from our lands two thousand years ago
and lived among other peoples, praying to God each morning to allow us
to return just once more to Jerusalem and gather there. You did something
else. You agreed to be uprooted. For the sin of which we were not guilty,
since others had banished us, we paid God with six million dead in order
to get the strip of land to which we have returned at last. I have no other
explanation. You, too, are guilty, because you have allowed yourselves
to be uprooted, and now a price has to be paid to God. That's settlement.
What I am saying is terrible, but you are now settling your final accounts.
Either you will be a nation capable of speaking about
yourself, a nation whose truth will be heard, or a nation whose survival
will be in question.
The question posed now is whether the terrible extermination
you experienced in the form of a genocide, affecting a third of your male
population, was not enough?
I am simply unable to understand, and it no longer matters
that we understand each other, However, you have the final God-given opportunity
to try for the third time in this century to really identify yourself as
People are asking nowadays how the Serbs were able to
proclaim their state, the third Yugoslavia, with such a constitution under
existing circumstances, when their survival is being threatened and when
all are against them, and why didn't they conduct a referendum first? Only
a few more months would have been needed for conducting a referendum in
Disputes could arise over the constitution and other documents
in Israel too, but in the event of a threat of war, Israel would just stand
its flags on the frontier and worry only about the defense of the country.
Although I live here, I still cannot understand why you, too, are not doing
I also can't understand why the
Serbs don't have a day like the Jewish Yom Kippur, which is our most important
religious holiday. It's the day of the dead, and the day of reconciliation,
and the day of repentance, all in one. The Israelis also have something
else. They have a day of remembrance of the six thousand young men and
young women killed in the Israeli wars. I'll tell you what they do. At
noon on that day, sirens are sounded for two minutes. On hearing the sirens,
all Israelis stand still wherever they might be, if on motorcars, they
cut the engine and get out, and keep quiet for two minutes in memory of
their dead children.
In the many discussions the Israelis have had here we
kept suggesting to the Serbian authorities that Serbian must also have
a day like that. It could be the day when the inmates of the Jasenovac
Concentration Camp broke out or some other symbolic day. You
must have also a day for the victims of genocide. You must find a way of
telling the world about what they have done to you.
The second item is the programme of the Serbian-Jewish
Friendship Society is the erection of a monument with a priest to pray
and leave flowers. You must do that; you must represent yourselves. You
must have a museum of genocide to show to foreign visitors. You
must list the murdered Kozara children. You must have a film about the
Prebilovci pit where the procession of coffins containing the bones of
the children thrown into it lasted an hour and a half! If you don't show
all this to the world, how can you expect the world to know about it? That
is what I can't understand about the Serbs.
I am not interested in excuses. There are no excuses.
On arriving in Jerusalem, the first place any visitors will visit will
be Yad Vashem, the museum of genocide, where he can see everything from
the beginning to the end, from the rise of the Nazis to power to the creation
of the State of Israel.
Moreover, it is not a place intended for just foreign
visitors. You haven't presented your people's sufferings to your children,
whereas Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust, it a must for all grades
in Israeli schools. Children are brought there to see the same thing for
the umpteenth time. What do your children know about the genocide against
the Serbs? Let's forget the world now. The world has an awful need to forget
and not remember things. I ask you: what have you done towards enlightening
your children and what do your children know about your sufferings in the
recent past? There are still living witnesses, therefore, it's not just
showing but teaching.
You are really one of the rare people
of the world which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, a people
that simply does not know how to hate. Much to the
fortune of your enemies, God had deprived you of the capability to hate.
You don't even hate those who did evil things to you. The
Jews are not accustomed to being loved. Most people work with us, cooperate
with us, and trade with us, but in my opinion, without ever showing any
great friendship or affection for us. However, it is quite different in
the case of the Serbs. Nor only do we Jews feel at home here, but since
the founding of the Serbian/Jewish Friendship Society, we have instigated
a whole chain of relations between Serbian and Israel. Many Israelis have
stayed in Belgrade for different reasons. They are all inclined to say
afterwards that they really felt at home. It's because
of your warmth and your tolerance, especially religious tolerance instilled
in you thanks to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is not a militant
church but a true Christian one that teaches love. Therefore, such warmth,
that incredible and long-extinct hospitality and good-heartedness are the
characteristics which are not know about any other people we know. You
have managed to preserve all that.
You are certainly a people that deserves to be admired
for the properties you have managed to preserve in this evil and ugly world.
We Jews always carry with us a burden caused by the feeling
that we are not liked. However, when we are living with your, we never
felt such a burden. On the contrary. Our community is a small one. There
were about 5,500 of us in former Yugoslavia. There are little less than
2,000 Jews in Serbia now. Avery small community. However, we feel completely
safe in Serbia. You and I can have differences as people, but you will
never hurt me as a Jewess, nor will you harm children because they belong
to the Jewish nation. Such are the feeling of us who are living with you,
so that such feelings are also shared by the Sarajevo
Jews who have now found shelter in Belgrade.
You are struck by a terrible misfortune
that we can understand only too well. We know what it is like when everybody
is against you, when no one wants you. That democratic, civilized Europe
used to send back trainloads of Jewish children because it didn't want
to shelter them from German fascism. In all this, one can also discern
the common fate of the Serbs and Jews: to be guilty without guilt. For
two thousand years we have been carrying the burden of guilt for the sin
we have never committed. We didn't crucify Christ, the Roman soldiers did.
Because of that sin involving Jesus Christ, who incidentally was Jewish
by birth, we have been burned, hanged, and murdered for two thousand years,
while no one has ever been called to account for it! Indeed,
the feeling that you are alone, the feeling that everybody is against you
is fully discernible in the Serbian fate, too.
You are in a war now, and no war is a human one. Everybody
is saying that the Serbs are killing people in the war. Now I ask myself:
what else should the Serbs do if they are being killed? You Serbs have
had a terrible experience, you have survived a genocide. You must never
forget that. I shall never forget that. I shall never
forget a scene from this war: a refugee column [of Serbs] in the Papuk
Mountain. Let me remind you: old men and old women wearing black kerchiefs
at a temperature of -18C riding in some carts and tractor trailers, day
and night, toward Belgrade. I will never forget that because of
these old women who started black kerchiefs in 1941, when still as children
they had buried their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They had
been in mourning from 1941 to 1991 and then they had to put new black kerchiefs
on since they had lost their dearest once again. They had to run again
and seek shelter from the
same daggers, from the criminals that look the same and have the same
methods as fifty years ago. I will remember these old women the longest.
People say: the Serbs are shooting and killing in this war. Well, what
should they be doing? Allow themselves to be slaughtered to the last man,
when they as a nation are erased from the Croatian Constitution, when they
are forbidden to use their own alphabet and everything that characterizes
them, and when their villages are being attacked?
I remember that my brother came from Tel Aviv two years
ago when those barricades were being built in the district of Knin. He,
too, is a Belgrade Jew who loves the Serbs endlessly. From out talk over
dinner, he realized of course that the situation was critical. That was
the beginning of Croatian 'democracy' attack on Serbian villages. He listened
to the panic-stricken Serbs all evening. At one point, he said that something
was not clear to him: who was actually living in this
He was told that it is inhabited by the Serbs, who are upset over the fact
that the Croats want to repeat the events of 1941, the very same genocide
they had failed to complete then.
My brother then said quite calmly: 'Well, why are you
sitting here and having your dinner then? Run through Bosnia and go to
defend your people in Krajina...and stop explaining this to me at the dinner
You see, that is what an Israeli would do... that is why
I am asking all those who are now debating as to whether we should have
gone to war, what should be done when something terrible is happening to
our people, something that means death and destruction? Your
duty is to help your people, especially when the whole scenario is being
repeated and the last act is known. My brother is absolutely right
here: get together, run through Bosnia and go to defend the Serbs. I am
probably saying terrible things now, but I am afraid that's how things
Dr. Klara Mandic
Nazi Croatia ]
Where am I? PATH:
The truth belongs to us all.
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Last revised: April 23, 1997