The new history textbook
by Dubravka Stojanovic
On the new history textbook used in the last two years of high school, published in 2002 by the state-run Textbook Publishing Foundation and written by Kosta Nikolić, Nikola Žutić and Momčilo Pavlović
‘In this book the word war is mentioned 400 times and the word culture only 20; generals and artillery appear twice as often as culture; women are classified as children; Vojvodina Croats are Serbs; Bosnian Muslims are Serbs; Bosnian Catholics are converted Serbs; Albanians, who are called "Š iptars" and "Arnauti", are Islamicized Serbs; Tito is described as a "professional agent", while Draža Mihajlović was "an admirer of French culture"; the Chetniks had "moral dilemmas", while the Partisans had none. According to the textbook authors, Milan Nedić was "protecting the Serb people’s biological substance". Forty years of post-war history is referred to as "so-called" and "alleged". The textbook does not have Svetozar Marković, but has Pavle Đurišić (with a picture); does not have Dimitrije Tucović, but has Dragiša Vasić (with picture); does not have Ilarion Ruvarac, but has more than sixty generals, colonels and majors.1 The society that uses such a book for the education of its young is in effect rejecting cultural pluralism. What is being sought? The rehabilitation of nationalism, an ideology that has led Serbian society to disaster. This is done in the belief - wholly contemptuous of Serbian society - that it wishes nothing better for itself. We are dealing here with a completely new interpretation of history. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but the problem lies in the authors’ handling of facts.’
This comment has been translated from Vreme(Belgrade), 5 December 2002. The author teaches modern history in the Philosophy Faculty of Belgrade University and has published widely on the subject of history texts
1. Svetozar Marković (1846-75) was the founder of the socialist movement in Serbia, who believed that Serbia could skip capitalism and moved directly to a socialism based on the zadruga; Pavle Đurišić led the Chetnik forces in Montenegro in World War II, with Italian backing.
Dimitrije Tucović (1881-1914) was a founder of the Social Democratic Party in Serbia and a bitter opponent of nationalism, notably in his book Serbia and Albania; Dragiša Vasić (1885-1945) was one of the chief ideologues of Draža Mihailović’s Ravnogora Chetnik movement.
Ilarion Ruvarac (1832-1905) was a prominent early Serbian historian, founder of the so-called ‘critical school’.