1An early version under the same title was printed in the newsletter of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, U.C. Berkeley, May 13, 1992. Some additional remarks were contributed in a subsequent issue of that journal in response to perceptive responses from Benjamin Ward, and elaborated in a symposium of the Institute of International Stucies, "Crisis in the Balkans," on 16 September 1992. I acknowledge my appreciation of Prof. Ward's critique, as I do the independent analysis offered earlier at a seminar of the Center by Prof. Andrew Janos. Similarly, I am grateful for the comments of Prof. Joel Halpern.

[2]I acknowledge gratefully the vigorous critiques of several drafts of this essay that I have received from a number of friends and colleagues. Some are committed Croats, some committed Serbs, and some are committed Yugoslavs. I have tried to learn from their views and in particular from their objections to some of my observations and interpretations. Some of them speak in this essay. I do not name any of them, avoiding by blanket omission any risk some may face from my exposition of what will be to many a harsh and uncompromising view. Anything they may have said and to which I have hearkened has only tempered my critique; none are responsible for my words but I.

3Readers who are interested in more detail on the history up to the end of World War II should consult four very balanced and authoritative treatments, two by Jozo Tomasevich: Peasants, Politics, and Economic Change in Yugoslavia (Stanford, 1955) and The Chetniks (Stanford, 1975): and two by Wayne S. Vucinich: "Interwar Yugoslavia," and "Nationalism and Communism," both in W. S. Vucinich, Contemporary Yugoslavia, (W. S. Vucinich, ed.), University of California, 1969.). An exceptionally good source in English on the Military Border of Croatia is two books by Gunther Erich Rothenberg, The Austrian Military Border in Croatia, 1522-1747, Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences, v. 48 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1960) and The Austrian Military Border in Croatia, 1740-1881 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966). There are of course abundant sources in Serbo-Croatian: a recent view stressing the accomodation of multiple ethnicities is expressed by Drago Roksandic in Srpska i hrvatska povijest i "nova historija" (Zagreb, 1990). An account that I see as different, but as tormented as my own, is Ivo Banac' "The Fearful Asymmetry of War: the Causes and Consequences of Yugoslavia's Demise," Daedalus, Spring 1992, pp. 141-174. See also his The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).

4It is also important to note that the totality of my personal experience has been with a politically unified Yugoslavia. It was created before I was born, and by the time I could notice it as an adult and especially as an academic, it was an established Communist state and shortly thereafter a relatively independent Communist state. Almost surely this exposure and the absence of any personal historical tradition antedating that state have had some role in the formation of my views. I am thus not the same kind of prisoner of Yugoslav history as are those with deeper roots in the region. But a prisoner nevertheless.

[5]I do not know if the failure to perceive it is a function of poor ethnography on my part or of the success of the Communist state in repressing its expression, or both. 6Readers who have seen the film, When Father Was Away on Business, will have seen the region. The temporary exile of the hero is at the coal mine above Gornja Borina, and he disports himself in Banja Koviljaca, a few kilometers downriver from Donja Borina. I should explain the remark in the text about "crossing myself properly." The movement of the right hand in making the sign of the cross is done oppositely in the Roman and the Orthodox churches; my hosts and their guests at a religious feast watched me like hawks to determine my affiliation (which is in fact with neither of the churches).

[7] But I recognize the truth of the old Chicago saying, "In the end, all politics is ethnic politics."

8The equivalent word in Belgrade, in this context, was in my time there Turcin - "Turk-like," and a derogative, applied also to ethnic Turks or Muslims in general. Siptar, from the original Albanian sqiptar, is now also regarded as derogatory.

9Vnutrasna Makendonska Revolucionarna Organizacija (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization), known for its terrorist activities. The VMRO carried out the assassination of King Alexander in 1934 under the direction of the Croatian nationalist Ustasa.

10The Serbian youth who assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. The organization behind the assassination was a Bosnian revolutionary group, Mlada Bosna.

11Bandits (hajduci) are an important cultural symbol in the lands formerly under the Ottomans, as they are in Iberia, at once an expression of the national soul and of the wild and uncontrollable, of the truth and of the outlaw combined, as in the tradition of Robin Hood. Compare, in the U.S., the images of the Minuteman and the white-sheeted Redneck, and in other contexts "freedom fighters."

12I wrote this line before the Los Angeles riots but leave it for the lesson it tells us.

13Danas is a Zagreb weekly, Vreme a Belgrade weekly. Slobodna Dalmacija is a major journalistic voice in Dalmatia. As I understand it, the last two are entirely privately financed, while Danas received a minimum of state funding. These organs stand in contrast to Vjesnik, Politika, Borba and other journals that are less independent and reflect official or party views more closely. One of the most impressive aspects of this news distribution system is the skill with which the largely Croatian organizers quickly adapted technology and the speed with which the émigré professional community seized upon it to share material from a largely dissident press. 14Some of my friends have been extraordinarily patient with me, even in disagreement. Generally speaking, reactions to this essay from nationalist Serbs have been negative, from Croats have ranged from stony silence through avoidance to real tears, but have been positive and even grateful from anti-nationalist Serbs opposed to the current leadership in Belgrade. I seem to have ended up willy-nilly in the Serbian opposition.

[15] The imposition of unity on the South by the North is a lesson for us in the Balkan crisis and the attempts by the Belgrade government to maintain a Yugoslavia in the face of multiple secessions. The hatred that underlies and emerges further from the Balkan conflict sounds eerily like the bitterness expressed by those who still speak with vehemence about Sherman's march through Georgia. 16This word, much in the news recently, means "end" or "border". Cf. Ukraine. It was called serhat in Turkish. Under the Austrians it was called the Militärgrenze, in Croatian the Vojna Krajina. Modern Serbs in that region call it Krajina and claim it as their ethnic republic. I refer to it here as krajina in its geographical sense, having discovered that to capitalize it is an act of great symbolic import. 17"Vlachs" in the mediaeval Serbian empire were nomadic shepherds. The word has other meanings such as "romanized Celt", "Illyrian", "shepherd", but in this context has become a pejorative term in Croatian for Orthodox Serbs, rather like "hillbilly". The common modern academic usage in ethnography and linguistics designates Romance speakers in Macedonia and northern Greece.

18The dialects of Serbo-Croatian are often classified by the word used for "what" and the manner of pronunciation of a particular vowel in Old Common Slavic. The terms stokavian, cakavian, kajkavian, etc. are such designators based on "what", and ekavian, jekavian and ikavian are designators based on the vowel.

19The Serb patriarch, of Pec, who led about 80,000 Serbs out of Ottoman territory into Hungary after 1689.

20France held the Dalmatian coast and the krajina east to Karlovac during the Napoleonic Wars.

21The word for "bread" is different in Croatian and Serbian. If the prisoner used the "wrong" word in the recitation, the guard pulled the trigger. It does not matter if this story is true. What matters is that every Serb and every Croat understands it immediately without any elaboration. A similar story now comes out of Bosnia, where captured prisoners are commanded, "Skini gace" ("Drop your underpants"), with the obvious implication that a circumcised combatant can be identified as a Muslim and dealt with accordingly.

22A legal system that grants citizenship on the basis of descent rather than of place of birth. 23Language reformers and early authors in Serbian and Croatian in the 18th and 19th C. 24Jovan Cvijic, Serb ethnologist, author of The Balkan Peninsula, a study of historical migration and settlement in the Balkans. On the role of intellectuals in Balkan social science see Joel Halpern and E. A. Hammel, "Observations on the intellectual history of ethnology and other social sciences in Yugoslavia," Journal of Comparative Studies in Society and History 11:17-26, 1969.

25One of the fundamental documents of the Yugoslav Civil War of 1991-92 is a policy memorandum developed within the Serbian Academy in late 1986, leaked in draft, and subsequently disavowed, although its major accusations exactly parallel those of militant Serbs in Kosovo and Croatia. It begins with a bitter critique of the Communist system and especially of the failure of economic reform. In a fascinating way, it exactly parallels the complaints of the Croats about domination by the Communist bureaucracy, except that where the Croats were able to see Communist domination as hegemonic Serbian centralism, the Serbs of course cannot. The memorandum of the Academy is especially bitter at the Communist manipulation of the political privileges of minority groups in ethnically mixed areas the Serbs have always regarded as quintessentially Serbian, namely the Vojvodina, Kosovo-Metohija, and portions of the old Military Border of Croatia. The Communists under Tito did, in fact, attempt by political manipulation to contain Serbian expansionism, which they correctly perceived as a threat to stability in a multi-ethnic state. The Communists, of course, saw Serbian nationalism and Orthodoxy, not to mention Catholicism and Islam, as competing ideologies, and tried to set their adherents into even and paralyzing competition. The Academy memorandum calls attention to the results of but does not analytically isolate the development of territorially based separatism in the spirit of the jus soli, a development it sees as threatening the virtually pan-Yugoslav integrity of Serbian culture among Serbs "beyond the pale." While under earlier Yugoslav constitutions Serbs and other ethnic groups were officially represented not only in Serbia but in the Voyvodina, Kosovo-Metohija and the old Border, under the most recent constitution Serbs were no longer officially represented in the governing bodies of Voyvodina and Kosovo, while the other ethnic groups continued to be represented within Serbia. The issues are made more complex by the fact that some of the areas in question are historically areas of settlement by what could analogically be thought of as "Volksserbische", with all of the disturbing parallels that may bring to mind, while other areas are in the ancient heartland. It is almost as if Zionists were to lay simultaneous claim to Palestine and to Beverly Hills. The parallels between Zionist and Great Serbian feelings, including both the justice of many of the complaints and some of the excesses, are striking. The Memorandum is vehement in its condemnation of what it sees as the systematic reduction of the symbols of Serbian identity outside the narrow confines of inner Serbia, especially in the withdrawal of equal status for Serbian cultural organizations and the use of Cyrillic, and the continued elaboration of the Croatian language as distinct from the Serbian (they are, of course, mutually intelligible unless you work hard at unintelligibility).

26Sumadija is the area of central Serbia around Belgrade, the sumadinci its inhabitants.

27Aleksander Karadjordjevic, King of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, of one of the two competing Serbian royal families, assassinated in Marseilles in 1934.

[28]The Germans put a good deal of effort into cultivating Muslim populations in both World Wars, allied as they were with Turkey and opposed to the British and French, under whose imperial dominion many Muslims lived. This is a substantial reversal of the classical Hapsburg role as the defender of Christendom.

29The organizers of the "Quisling" Independent State of Croatia were called Ustase, from the verb "ustati", to rise up or rebel. What they were rebelling against was the Serbian-dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Ustase are an extreme right-wing offshoot from the Croatian political scene of the late 19th C., developing in the interwar period out of the Party of Rights of Starcevic and then Frank, which is now under the leadership of Paraga in right-wing opposition to the current President, Franjo Tudjman. The Ustase, together with Macedonian terrorists, were the organizers of the assassination of Alexander in 1934. Émigré separatists played a significant role in their development.

30The President of Croatia, once and perhaps even now an historian, then a general, wrote a book on the history of genocide. Franjo Tudjman, Bespuca povijesne zbiljnosti (Wastelands of historical reality), Zagreb 1990.

31Nedic was a Serbian general in charge of Nazi-occupied Serbia and was the first quisling official in Europe to declare his country "Judenrein" (free of Jews). On balance one must admit that Nedic was acting under Nazi pressure, while the Ustase were cooperating with alacrity.

32Arguments about the number and identity of those killed by the Ustase are interminable and vary between 70,000 and 700,000, depending on the politics of the commentator. Some of us take the point of view that one is too much.

33The Chetniks were Serbs under Mihailovic, portrayed by some as loyal royalists fighting the Germans, by others as collaborators with the Nazis against the Communist Partisans under Tito.

[34]The exact composition of those fleeing the Partisans is unknown to me. Some may have been anti-Communist Serbs, but the majority were probably Croats and Muslims who had been allied with the Germans. Some estimates of the slaughter of these suggest 100,000 were killed by the Partisans, their bodies interred in caves, and discussion of the event suppressed until recently. See the note below on Denitch's analysis.

[35]This conclusion would be disputed by many, who would claim that more died in internecine combat. Some estimates of the death toll in World War II suggest 2 million deaths out of a prewar population of about 14 million.

36Being a "prvoborac," one who fought against the Germans and Italians from the very beginning of the Revolution, became a mark of considerable distinction in Communist Yugoslavia, not to mention the source of a nice pension. It is said that the requirement that this status could be achieved by finding two witnesses to swear to one's early participation divided the population of Yugoslavia neatly into threes.

37Ethos should not, however, be discounted simply because it has emerged in a sociopolitical context. No one who has been manipulated as an object of village or household hospitality, or who has listened to the recitation of Montenegrin genealogies can doubt its force. 38The parallels are very close, including an emphasis on personal honor, patriotism, the glorification of war and violence, listening to country music, and keeping a rifle in your truck. For ethnographic views of Serbian and Montenegrin culture, see for example: Christopher Boehm, Blood revenge : the anthropology of feuding in Montenegro and other tribal societies. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1984. Joel M. and Barbara Kerewsky Halpern, A Serbian Village in Historical Perspective, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972. E. A. Hammel, Alternative social structures and ritual relations in the Balkans, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall,1968. Andrei Simic, The peasant urbanites; a study of rural-urban mobility in Serbia. New York, Seminar Press, 1973. 39The preponderance of Serbs and Montenegrins in managerial positions and in the armed forces is certainly visible in the 1980s, but it may have been slow to emerge. Tito was himself a Croat, and other important early figures were also Croats or Slovenes, such as Kardelj. The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts makes the claim that Serbs were relatively inactive in the Communist Party before the Second World War and slow to enter the Party afterward. The Croats continually refer to their own early participation in the Partisans. It seems to me that the Serbs put early efforts on the side of Mihailovic and the Chetniks, and many Croats were with the Ustase, but that the Croats probably led the way in the anti-Fascist Partisans, since alliance with the Communists, in the presence of the Ustase, was the only way to fight against the invaders. There was no non-Communist anti-German Croatian resistance. The Serbs did not have that dilemma. 40Babic, a dentist in Knin, is the leader of the krajina Serbs.

41Radovan Karadzic, a psychiatrist turned politician, is the leader of the Bosnian Serbs.

36A common Germanic word for Slavs, as in "Wends", often with derogatory connotations.

43Denich, Bette. "Unbury the victims: nationalist revivals of genocide in Yugoslavia." Paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Assn., Chicago, Nov. 1991. The "pigeon caves" are caves in the limestone in which pigeons roost; they are also where the victims of wartime massacres, of Serbs by Ustase and of anti-Communists by Partisans, were buried in mass graves. It is these and their symbolism to which Denich directs attention.

44The first real killing of the war, in Eastern Slavonia.

45Indeed, the immediately ancestral politician to the Ustasa, Josip Frank, was a German Jew.

46This is not to say that interpretation has been absent in what has gone before.

47He is now reported to have done this in remarks to journalists and visiting U.S. Congressmen, which I saw reported on the computer networks. It was an earnest and convincing statement. Does history convince us that we should believe it?

48For some of the time, he also clapped Paraga in jail, and his subordinates are now gunning for critical journalists writing for Slobodna Dalmacija.

49The actions both of Tudjman and of Milosevic are sometimes defended by their supporters on the grounds that they were democratically elected. Let us not forget that Hitler was also democratically elected Chancellor of Germany.

50From a famous poem about an absinthe drinker: "Bitter is the ring of wormwood, Black is the chalice of poison, ..."

51My use of the term, "civil war", is problematic. A civil war is a conflict between parties that co-occupy a recognized polity. "Civil war" puts the Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Macedonians and others on an equal footing. But if one takes the view that the recognized polity had collapsed before the secessions, this conflict is not civil war but either an attempt to quell rebellion or an armed invasion of neighboring states. Increasingly, the term "civil war" seems inappropriate. Remember that the British continue to refer to the war of 1776 as the "American rebellion." Remember that the American Civil War was not preceded by a political collapse. Thus the analogy for the current conflict in the former Yugoslavia is not civil war but Hitler's Anschluss of land occupied by ethnic Germans.

52The Nobel prize-winning novel, Bridge on the Drina.

53Greece and Bulgaria have supported Serbian hegemony because it would continue to divide the speakers of Macedonian Slavic and hinder their drive for an independent Macedonia, in which the Serbian, Bulgarian and Greek fractions would be split off from their present rulers and united in a Macedonian state. The Greeks are now temporizing, not opposing the vote in that portion of the old Yugoslavia called Macedonia to form a separate republic, provided that it is not called Macedonia.

54The President of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

55Izetbegovics behavior has been interesting. Like Rugova (the elected president of the Kosovo Albanians), he pursued a policy of passive resistance and nonviolence, fearing to provoke the Serbian beast. The result was that the Bosnians were outgunned. Now he has taken a tougher line.

56 A cynic would remark that it never existed, except in the minds of romantics, that waves of civilization -- Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Austrian, yes, even Marxist -- have swept through the Dinaric canyons without leaving a trace, that the malfeasance of demonic politicians has loosed the hounds of hell.

57The latest ploy is that the Army offers to divide and place itself under the authority of local republic governments. Thus the Yugoslav Army in Bosnia (which is where most of the munitions factories are) will no longer be a Yugoslav Army but a Bosnian Army, and the new Yugoslavia consisting of Serbia and Montenegro can no longer be accused of having an army on the territory of a recognized independent neighboring state. Of course, this Bosnian Army will still consist almost entirely of Bosnian Serbs, free no doubt to defend those Bosnian Serbs who fear the aggression of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The purge of the Communist old guard in the Army only exposes Serbia as a new banana republic, dominated by career-hungry young officers.

58By the time this paper sees printer's ink, most of my speculations will be out of date.

59The heart of Old Sarajevo, now a shambles, beirutalized by fury.

60Remember, the last time they came into the Balkans it took them 500 years to get out. They have also not moved to help Muslims against Armenians in Nakhichevan; are they restrained by memories of Musa Dagh?

61After the defeat at Kosovo in 1389, a Serbian vassal state remained in the Despotate of Smederevo, paying tribute to the Ottomans and linked to the Hungarians, falling finally in 1459. After the defeat of the Turks before Vienna in 1683, Eugene of Savoy led Austrian armies almost to the site of the Serbian Patriarchate at Pec, where the Austrian advance collapsed, to be driven back to the Sava.

62Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: the calamitous fourteenth century. New York: Knopf, 1978.

63One of the great military feats of the First World War was the breakthrough by Serbian forces on the Salonika front in 1918. To this day, the title Solunac (one who fought at Salonika) is a mark of honor. On the blundering toward world war, see Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August, New York: Macmillan, 1962.

64The traditional salutation of Serbian king to his people, "God help you!".