I have always felt my day was incomplete until I turned on the nightly news or read the daily newspaper. Many experts say that it is not a good idea. It can set the stage for your entire day. The media focuses most of its attention on HORRIBLE atrocities. That kind of stuff sells their papers and programs! I always thought it was strange that on the CBS evening news… the last story of the newscast was a “bright and cheerful story”.. the rest of it showed death, violence, debt crisis, protests, political gridlock, etc… It also bothers me that independent news is gone! I consider myself a liberal but realize that a few news sources are prone to shaping a story from their point of view. The conservative side has control of the majority of national radio shows and Fox ….It is hard to know what to believe and what to flush down the toilet!!! Propaganda is something that every country uses to its advantage!! NO COUNTRY IS IMMUNE TO IT!!! My favorite spewer of propaganda is North Korea!! Just go to Youtube and type in North Korean Propaganda! It is priceless!!!
Let’s get to the subject at hand…. SERBIA and SERBS…… Prior to visiting this country and speaking to hundreds and hundreds of Serbs about their experiences, I believed that they were responsible for all the problems that existed in the Balkans over the last 20+ years. Well, to be honest, I never really let the subject cross my mind! I just remember the newscasts, Bill Clinton and many Hollywood movies “labeling” the Serb as the EVIL aggressor! I can hear the comments and emails now…. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT WENT ON OVER HERE!!” “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!” ” SERBIANS KILLED MY FAMILY!” etc… I have never insulted any of the surrounding countries or mentioned the wars! It is a sad part of world history! I am not saying that some Serbs didn’t do despicable things during these conflicts! My country has done some pretty despicable things in our past too!!! I just wanted to list a few things to show the rest of the world that the Serbian people have dealt with centuries of discrimination, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc… The media likes to focus on one side!!!! That is so unfair!!!! Just like a coin…. every one has two sides!! I have had the opportunity to speak with many Serbians who told me they despised the USA and Americans. They said things that really made me angry and made me want to pack up and leave Serbia. I didn’t do that. I told myself to sit down, shut up and listen! This world would be a much better place if we would all put ourselves in the others guys shoes. This one student that was telling me of his hatred….mentioned that he was a small child when NATO forces bombed Serbia for 3 months. They had to go to a neighbors basement and sleep every night for 1 month! The father worked but because of sanctions the inflation ballooned to astronomical levels! They would get his paycheck and go to the store to buy bread and could barely pay for it with his monthly pay!!! That made me realize that there is some justification for his anger! If a country was bombing my hometown for 3 months I know how I would feel!! I was the first American he had ever met or had the chance to sit down and talk to. I felt great at the end of the conversation because he told me that he could see that AVERAGE Americans are just like AVERAGE Serbs! We have a great friendship now. You are not weak if you sit down and discuss things with your “enemy”. You are a strong and courageous for doing that! Not to stray off the subject but I had one little boy from Libya that sent me a Facebook message about 2 years ago. He said ” I have always wanted to say HI to an American but when I tell them I am Muslim they call me a terrorist and block me.” It broke my heart! I wrote back and we are still speaking to this day! You can never go wrong by being respectful, kind and acting interested in others. You never know, you might have inspired the next Nobel Prize winner or spoken to a future president. Damn, I always get off the subject.. The funny and sad part about the Serbian story is we NEVER HEAR THEIR SIDE!! George Clooney said that very thing… He said, when asked about his opinion of the Kosovo independence ” what bothers me is, we have never heard Serbias side of all this! We hear one one side!” I investigated some of this areas LONG history!!! There have been MANY accounts of HORRIBLE acts against Serbs. I don’t want to get into too much detail but will briefly discuss them below! Once again, I am not saying Serbs are all angels and sent here from heaven to spread love…. I am just showing that they have suffered more than many other people and they were not acting as aggressors ! They were defending their territory like any other nation would do!
Ottoman Rule ….
The Ottoman empire ruled over Serbian land for over 500 years! During that time, thousands of Orthodox Christians, the primary religion of Serbs, converted to Islam to avoid horrendous torture and certain death! Many young Serbian boys were taken from their parents and forced to fight for the Turkish military! Thousands of Serbs were killed during the reign of the Turks. One prime example of Ottoman brutality is the Skull Tower in Nis, Serbia. It is constructed out of hundreds of human skulls from Serbs killed in the Battle of Cegar.
The Catholic church was also guilty of crimes against the Serbian people! During the 1600-1700s, they forced many Orthodox Serbs to convert to Catholicism or face torture or death!
There has been a long and bitter tension between Serbs and Albanians. Many believe that the majority of Albanians were Serbs that had adopted the religion and married into Albanian families to avoid death or persecution! Many writers and well respected men have noted that during their visits to Albania in the late 19th century, many of the Albanians were wearing Serbian clothes and speaking Serbian but claimed to be Turks or Albanian ethnicity.
Early 20th century……
The assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie is said to have started WW1. The man responsible was of Serbian decent. The after math led to a deep division between Serbs, Croats and Muslims. Croats and Muslims held large anti-Serb protests. The mob attacked Serbs, their churches, businesses. Two Serbs were killed and many injured and many homes and businesses destroyed by the mobs. Anti Serb sentiment spread all throughout the Austro Hungarian empire. There was a saying in Vienna that was popular at the time… “ALL SERBS MUST DIE!”
World War II…
Adolf Hitler was not only a hater of Jews. He despised Serbs too! He opened Jasenovac concentration camp. It is in present day Croatia and was ran by Croatian Ustasa. The numbers of Serbians killed in Jasenovac numbers between 200,000 and 217,000!!! Once again, many Serbs converted to Catholicism to avoid death!!! Present day Serbia was occupied by the Germans from 1941-1944. There are many numbers out there that list the amount of Serbs killed, raped and tortured. One source says 50K more were killed , 280K arrested, raped or tortured… while over 100K Serbs fled the country….
The wars with Bosnia and Croatia were the worst in Europe since WWII!! Thousands of innocent people were killed on all sides! The wounds from these wars are still fresh and hard to heal! I am not taking a stance on this issue and not blaming any side. I am just reporting about Serbian deaths and crimes committed against them. The loss of Croatian and Bosnians is very sad and you all have my heartfelt condolences. Thousands of Serbian civilians were killed , raped, tortured or forced out of Croatia and Bosnia during these wars! There are hundreds of first hand accounts on the brutality of the Croatian and Bosnian forces. The media in both nations are not immune to criticism either! A few examples are…….
*** Croatian patriot song reads “Dear mother, I am going to plant willows, we’ll hang Serbs from them. dear mother, im going to sharpen the knives, we’ll soon fill the pits again”
*** Bosnian newspaper said ” Each Muslim bust name a Serb and take an oath to kill him!”
*** Radio broadcast said ” Public calls for the execution of Serbs!”
These all led to beatings, torture, confiscation of property, desecration of churches, etc.. It also led to ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia.. It is said that over 200K Serbs fled their homes for a new life in Serbia or abroad.
This is a subject that is highly controversial! Kosovo is the autonomous region of extreme South Serbia. It is home to a majority of ethnic Albanians. NATO forces started Operation Merciful Angel on March 24, 1999. Kosovo decided to sever ties with Serbia and become their own independent nation. NATO took their side and reprimanded Serbia with sanctions and air raids for 3 months. Slobodan Milosevic, then president of Serbia, signed a treaty ending the war in June of 1999. Serbia and many countries of the world do not recognize Kosovo as a country. There are currently 89 countries that recognize it as independent and many that do not… including most of Asia, Africa and South America. This operation led to thousands of Serbs being beaten, thrown from their homes and farm land. One friend of mine told me a TERRIBLE story! He told me he was from Kosovo but living in Zrenjanin. One day a group of Albanians drove up to his families farm house in central Kosovo. They said ” If you want to live, leave NOW!” They barely had time to grab their clothes and leave. They fled to Serbia. I asked him “what did they do with your house and farm land? did they pay you?” He said “NO!! Someone is living in their old house and farming their land and they get nothing!” I couldn’t imagine how I would feel or my family would feel if something like this happened to us!!! Kosovo is also the heart of Serbian Orthodoxy! It is filled with hundreds of monesteries and churches. Many of them have been desecrated, destroyed or burned by Albanians.
You can see that Serbs have had their share of HELL! The world loves to talk about everything they have done but never wants to mention the brutality, torture, murder and discrimination they have gone through! Once again…. I am not condoning ANY BRUTALITY, DISCRIMINATION, MURDER, ETC!!! I am not taking sides in any affair! I am just providing some information so people can see the WHOLE picture!! I don’t care if its an American, Albanian, Serbian, Bosnian, Saudi, Frenchman, Aussie….. any senseless death is a crime against all of us!!! Peace is the only answer..
Thanks for reading…..