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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Further Thoughts on Coups: Yugoslavia
Created by John Eipper on 07/09/13 5:01 AM

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Further Thoughts on Coups: Yugoslavia (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/09/13 5:01 am)

In response to John Heelan and to JE's as usual very good and pertinent comments (8 July), I wish to state that military coups are undemocratic, criminal and not acceptable if they are against our interests, but a military coup can be a good thing if it is in "our" interests. In such a case it is often not even described as a military coup, but as Churchill said in Parliament on April 27, 1941 in reference to the military coup in Belgrade, which shifted that nation to the Allied side of the war:

"At Belgrade a revolution has started and the old ministers are under arrest. This patriotic manifestation is the expression of the anger of a courageous and valiant people."

Fantastic!

By the way, in the Italian history textbooks, the coup is not even mentioned at all and it is explained that both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy committed aggression against Yugoslavia: one of the many brilliant examples of political correctness.

JE comments: One person's coup is another's "expression of a courageous and valiant people." It is interesting that the Yugoslavian coup is not mentioned in Italian history textbooks. Veteran WAISers know that international textbooks, and the competing versions of "truth" presented in them, were one of Prof. Hilton's favorite topics.

It would be instructive to contrast how the 1941 Belgrade coup is portrayed in present-day Serbian and Croatian textbooks.  As a more general question, I'm curious how the Croats now remember their role in WWII, which by any measure requires a good deal of "spin" to make it palatable.



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  • Ragusa and Dubrovnik: A Re-Writing of History? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/11/13 4:38 AM)
    (I'm very happy that WAIS is back on line!)

    In reference to the pertinent comment of JE to my post of 9 July, concerning what the Croatian history textbooks say about the Yugoslavian coup of April 27, 1941, unfortunately I do not have any documentation as I do not speak Croatian, but I can give you a fair idea on how the Croatians view history.


    Let's go back to the Free and Sovereign Italian Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). As I pointed out in an earlier post, it had an Italian majority until 1898, after which time the majority was Croatian. The name Dubrovnik comes from the name of a Croatian tribe called Dubroni, from Dubrava, which in their language means forest. This tribe was Catholic, but as they were inland close to schismatic enemies at the end of the 11th century, they asked for protection from the Republic of Ragusa, which remained faithful to the "asylum rights."  Ragusa granted the Dubroni the possibility of moving to the shore in front of the old city, originally founded on a small Island, Lausa, later connected to the mainland. This installation became the village of Dubrovnik, but it never had any cultural influence as Ragusa always remained with its Latin, and after 1472, Italian culture.


    Now from Croatian tourist books we can read that even if the official name was Respublica Ragusina, it is to be understood as Dubrovnik, and that by the 14th century the republic was completely Croatian. (But what about the official Italian language from 1472? Bah.)



    On the grounds of the Palace of the Rettore, there is a monument made by Pierpaolo Giacometti in 1638 in honour of the sailor Michele Prazatto, indicated as "Michaeli Prazatto Benemerito civi ex SC MDCXXXVIII," but this guy has now become known as Miha Pracat, the poet Giovanni Gondola of the 17th century has become Ivan Gundulic, the scholar Ruggiero Giuseppe Boscovich (1711-1787) has become Ruder Josip Boskovic, the painter Nicola Diodati, or Nicolò Ragusino, has become Bozidarevic, but in his case he is claimed not only by Croats but also by the Serbians, the architect Pasquale De Micheli has become Paskoje Milicevic, and so on. Of course these are not the only examples of annexation of culture and cancellation of history.


    JE comments:  The construction of Croatian national identity is a controversial (and bloody) topic that I wish I knew more about.  Interestingly, history's most famous Croat, Josip Broz/Tito, was not a nationalist at all but a pan-Yugoslav.  I've remarked before on the pages of WAIS that one step in the creation of Croatian nationalism has been its linguistic divorce from Serbian.  The Serbo-Croatian language that I read about in my youth no longer officially exists.

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  • History Textbooks and Croatia (David Pike, France 07/11/13 5:06 AM)
    JE referred (9 July) to the Serbian-Croatian clash in historiography, and to Ronald Hilton's Textbook Project that I did my best to assume a decade ago. I had just begun to teach graduate students at a second university in Paris, and I made history textbooks the centre of my interest and my appeal. Among the students that I drew into the project was Annemie Breesch, who is today the Serbian Ambassador to Paris. Annemie was working on a comparison of Serbian, Croatian and Slovene textbooks, when she realized that it would spell the end of her future in diplomacy. A sad conclusion, but she was right. I think that was the one element in the program that Professor Hilton had overlooked.



    So where does the project stand at WAIS? Kyle Ward holds the collection, but seems to have abandoned the project. The institute at Braunschweig remains active, I believe. What is not in question is the importance of the project. All over the world, how much prejudice is deliberately taught to readers still in the plastic state?



    For the project to succeed, it needs a young ambitious global empire-builder, another (inevitably lesser) Ronald Hilton, in the form of an Assistant Professor starting out life with a PhD in history and ready to devote her/his life to it.

    JE comments: It's been a long time since we've heard from Kyle Ward, the original caretaker of the WAIS/Ronald Hilton International History Textbook project. I sense that Kyle is not presently following WAIS discussions, but I must try to re-connect with him.


    One interesting twist on this project:  due to developments in technology, textbooks themselves are living on borrowed time.  How will historical perspective and nationalism be imparted in the Brave New World of bookless education?

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