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Author: Fabian

The first victim of WWI: Dušan Đonović

The first victim of WWI: Dušan Đonović

In the night of 28/29th July 1914 the first shots of the First World War were fired by the Austro-Hungarian army (K.u.K. army) on the city of Belgrade, the capital of the Kingdom of Serbia. The afternoon before (on the 28th July) the Austro-Hungarian empire had declared war on Serbia via a telegram (see here). It was during that night that the first military and civilian victims of the First World War fell: the 16 year old Dušan Đonović, a military volunteer fell on Serbian side and on the Austro-Hungarian side the first victims reported were Karl Eberling, the captain of the first tug and his helmsman, Mikhail  Gemsberger[1]. Other (Serbian) sources mention Ištvan Balohi as the first fallen K.u.K. soldier [2].

July 1914:  Serbian soldier on the Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade overlooking the Sava river which was the border back then with the Austro-Hungarian empire. The first shots of WWI were fired here.

Unfortunately, there are claims that the first victims and soldiers fell on the West front. For example the “Historisch Nieuwblad” (=a Dutch magazine about history)) wrote that André Peugeot (from France) and Albert Mayer (from Germany) were the first victims of the First World War: they died on 2nd August 1914 (see here and the article here). Of course, this is not true as many sources wrote about the first WWI victims which fell during the first days of WWI on the Serbian / Austro-Hungarian front. Not only this Dutch magazine is failing in indicating the first victims of WWI, many others do as well.

The railway bridge between Belgrade (Serbia) and Zemun (then Austria-Hungary) was destroyed during the first hours of WWI.

It is estimated that the Kingdom of Serbia alone lost more than 1.1 million inhabitants during the war (both army and civilian losses), which represented over 26% of its then total population and 58% of its adult male population[3].

Plaquette in remembrance of Dusan . It is hanging on the wall of the First Economic School in Belgrade. From Politika, 16 March 2013 , link 

Seen the above mentioned fact about the first victims (soldiers & civilians) of the First World War mentioned by several sources from several countries it is clear that the first scarifies were made on the Serbian – Austro-Hungarian front during the first days of WWI and not on the West front.

The Austro-Hungarian attack on Serbia seen from another perspective.

 

Footnotes: 
[1]
Serbia and the Balkan front, 1914 -the Outbreak of the Great War-, James Lyon ,
ISBN 978-1-4725-8004-7, page 96-7.
[2] According to the article from Blic (Serbian), 11/11/2016: link
[3] According to the article “Sudnji rat” by Čedomir Antić in the Serbian newspaper Politika, 13/09/2008:  link

Articles: 
-Srbija Danas, 12 October 2017, link (in Serbian).
-Kurir.at, 29 December 2013, link (in German).

My earlier blogs about WWI:
See: http://blog.fabian-vendrig.eu/category/serbia-ww1/

Website:
Site about Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands: www.secanje.nl

Thanks to:
Arjan Kapteijn

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Belgrade´s main railway station.

Belgrade´s main railway station.

Belgrade´s main railway station was moved 01/07/2018. I got a lot of questions from people abroad (but also Serbs are confused) about the current situation of railway station(s) in Belgrade, because the information is not easily available in English. Thus, I would like to provide you with the information you might need. Of course I can not be held responsible if some information is changed  but it would be nice if if you have remarks , additional information etc., please share it with me.

Beograd Centar / Belgrade´s main railway station / Prokop
The (“new”) main railway station of Belgrade is ” Beograd Centar” as they call it, click for the location on the Google Maps below. All trains leave from here, except the trains to Montenegro (see below under Topčider).

So for international destinations like Budapest, Vienna, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Skopje, Sofia this is the railway station you have to go to. Also for destinations in Serbia like Novi Sad, Subotica, Niš, Vršac this is then also your station.

How to get there?
This railway station is reachable by bus 36 from the old main railway station ( at Saska Trg). Another option is trolley bus 40 straight from Studentski Trg ( = city center). When you travel from the city center the stop is called “Ortopedski zavod”. A taxi is of course also an option.

Železnička stanica Topčider /  Topčider railway station

The railway station Topičider is used for trains towards Montenegro,this is for day and night trains. Also the tourist train “Romantika” departs / arrives here.

How to get there?
Simple answer: tram 3 to Kneževac brings you here.

Other railway stations
Depending on where you are / have to go in Belgrade it can be wise to use another railway station. “Novi Beograd” could be an option for you or “Vukov Spomenik” or Pančevački most.
On this map I created you have an overview: Google Maps Železnice Srbije (Serbian Railways) The map is currently under development, but it will cover whole Serbia at the end.

Be aware that not all trains stop at those alternative Belgrade stations, so best is to check the timetables on the website of the Serbian Railways: http://www.srbvoz.rs/redvoznje.html , unfortunately this is only in Serbian. Another good option can be the site: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

Enjoy travelling by train in Serbia !

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“Trst je naš”

“Trst je naš”

Last week I enjoyed with my wife a small holiday in the region of Trieste, in the Northeastern corner of Italy. We were in Grado (beaches), Muggia (a small nice village on the coast) and Trieste itself. Trieste has an amazing history and lies on the border of the Roman, the Germanic and the Slavic world.

15/07/2018: Trieste as seen from Monte Grisa.

Until the First World War this city was the main harbor of the Austrian-Hungarian empire and thus an important city.  The Austro-Hungarians built the “Südbahn”(=Southern railway) , connecting Vienna with Trieste which boosted the harbor of Trieste further. It was, and still is, a free port and the most important harbor for Central Europe or in German “Mitteleuropa”.

14/07/2018: Trieste, the Canal Grande (Grand Canal).
14/07/2018: A view from the castle of Duino, close to Trieste.

After the Second World War the Yugoslav troops liberated Trieste from the Germans, but that lasted not long: the city came after 40 days under British / US military administration. In 1947 Trieste became the “Free Territory of Trieste”, an independent city state under UN protection. In 1954 Trieste, part of zone “A”, became Italian and zone “B” became part of Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslav partisans wanted to have Trieste and their sentence was “Trst je naš” (Trieste is ours). They did not get it, but now it doesn’t matter any more as the whole area (Zone A and B, plus the whole of Istria) is now in the European Union and the borders disappeared. Triest, Trieszt, Trst, Трст or Τεργέστη is a pleasant city where the Germanic, Roman and Slavic world meets. Depending of your view the Balkan starts or ends here, Italy as well and yes once back in the old days also the Austro-Hungarian empire. I can strongly recommend to visit Trieste and the region, because it is a very interesting city & region and can´t wait to go back.  As Dutch living in Serbia, loving Italy, I almost want to say:  “Trst je naš!”

14/07/2018: a statue of the famous writer James Joyce who lived also in Trieste.
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“Belgrad, ici Belgrad”

“Belgrad, ici Belgrad”

“Belgrad, ici (=here)  Belgrad”, you hear in the James Bond movie “From Russia with love”, when the most famous British spy 007 arrived with the mythical “Orient-Express” in Belgrade (or in Serbian “Beograd”  which is the capital of Serbia, before Yugoslavia) from Istanbul while he was on his way to Venice.

James Bond arriving in Belgrade in the movie “From Russia with love”

Not only James Bond made a stop in Belgrade. Many, many celebrities and ordinary people passed here and set their first steps in Belgrade on the main railway station, including myself.

Belgrade´s main railway station in 2014

The main railway station of Belgrade (in the movie they used another station I think) was once a huge railway knot in Europe: if you traveled from West to South-East Europe or from North to South you could not miss it.

Sign for the international train Malmö-Beograd 

It had connections with many railways stations in Europe, like Paris (Gare de Lyon), Roma Termini, Zürich, Köln HBF, Dortmund HFB, München HBF, Hamburg HBF, Malmö C, Istanbul, Athens, Moscow, Warsaw and many others.

A page of the timetable of the Jugoslavenske željeznice (Yugoslav Railways) from 1983

In the last decades many connections were lost, minimizing the importance of the railways in Serbia. Unfortunately another sad story regarding the loss of (railway) heritage can be added on the 30th June because then the main railway station of Belgrade will be closed. The last scheduled train will arrive at from Vienna at 20:48. Then at 21h40 the last train ever from Belgrade´s main railway station will leave to Budapest.

Entry of Belgrade railway station, 2017

Beside that it is a really sad that Belgrade will be one of the few capital cities where the main railway station will not be in the city center. A historical place for the city of Belgrade and Serbia in general which disappears…

Belgrad, Belgrade, Beograd, ici “Belgrad” 

On the banks of the last kilometer of the Sava river there once was a famous railway station.
A station where people started their travel towards their dreams, their families, their loved ones.
For others it was an arrival back home or a start for new adventures.

On the platforms people cried, laughed and sad farewell to their loves.
Kings, emperors, generals, adventurers all passed here,
when travelling to or from far destinations.

A bureaucratic pencil stripe ended it all.
The rails to the station will be disconnected and
no more trains will ever departure or arrive here.

Modern times will simply vanish  everything away,
but they will never erase the memories of the people
when they heard 
“Belgrad”, “Belgrade” “Beograd” , ici “Belgrade”.

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“Hier ruhen Serbischen helden”

“Hier ruhen Serbischen helden”

On a monument in a forgotten corner of Košutnjak park in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is written in “Hier ruhen Serbischen helden” (German), below it is  written in Serbian “Овде почивају српски јунаци”. The English translation is “Serbian heroes rest here”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures above: 08/06/2018: the monument in the Košutnjak park in Belgrade, Serbia for the fallen Serbian WWI soldiers who defended Belgrade in the autumn of 1915.

This monument was made by the German general Mackensen in 1915 after Belgrade was captured by the Germans & Austro-Hungarians. It is on the Serbian & German military graveyard which is on the hill of Banovo Brdo. Beside the monument for the Serbian WWI soldiers there is also a monument for the German WWI soldiers. Later also German WWII soldiers found their last resting place there, but the graveyard fell into disrepair.

General Mackensen had a huge respect for the Serbian defenders and was so impressed about the defenders of Belgrade that he made this statue for them. To give you an impression, here one of his speeches before he started the battle: “You are not going to the Italian, or Russian, or the French front. You are going into a fight against a new enemy who is dangerous, tough, brave and sharp. You are going to the Serbian front, to Serbia, and Serbs are people who love their freedom and who are willing to fight for it to their last.”

Picture above: The monument in the past, date unknown. On the monument is written “DAS PREUSS. RES. INF. RGT. 208 – SEINEN GEFALLENEN HELDEN” (=The Prussian reserve infantry regiment 208 – it´s fallen heroes). Source: Gentleman’s Military Interest Club
Picture below:  The same monument as above, but now photographed by me on 08/06/2018.

It is a sad to see that these monuments with an amazing story behind it are in disrepair and forgotten. I did read that there were plans in 2016 plans for restoration, but there are still no signs that the works will start.

Photo above: 08/06/2018: Deutsche helden friedhof 1915.

This is not just a monument for Serbian & German WWI soldiers: it is a monument which shows the bravery of the Serbian WWI soldiers but also the German chivalry which General Mackensen truly showed with ordering to built this monument for his brave & heroic enemy soldiers.

08/06/2018: plaque on the foot of the monument for the Serbian heroes

More information:

http://www.volksbund.de/kriegsgraeberstaette/belgrad-beograd.html

http://www.heritage.gov.rs/latinica/vesti_prezentacija-projekta-obnove-spomen-obelezja-nemackog-vojnog-groblja-na-kosutnjaku.php

 

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Living on the border of the European Union: Kenđija in Serbia

Living on the border of the European Union: Kenđija in Serbia

Last weekend I was with friends in Kenđija, located in the Northwestern part of Serbia, where Serbia meets Hungary and Croatia. When I opened my Google maps I saw the map below and was pretty surprised: according to Google I was in Croatia !

We did not passed any border post, neither we saw a sign or anything else: we were still de facto in Serbia.  The real border is currently in the middle of the Danube river. My friend who has a weekend house there told me that they pay for all utilities which are delivered from Serbia. Beside it is the (disputed) border between Serbia and Croatia, it is also the border of the European Union. Serbia is candidate member state of the EU, but until Serbia will join the EU this is an EU “outer” border.

Batina in Croatia as seen from the Serbian shore of the Danube river, 26/05/2018. 

On Wikipedia you can read the following information about this still ongoing border dispute:

The Croatia–Serbia border dispute refers to differing views held by Croatia and Serbia regarding their border in the area of the Danube River. While Serbia holds the opinion that the thalweg of the Danube valley and the center line of the river represents the international border between the two countries, Croatia disagrees and claims that the international border lies along the boundaries of the cadastral municipalities located along the river—departing from the course at several points along a 140-kilometre (87 mi) section. The cadastre-based boundary reflects the course of the Danube which existed in the 19th century, before meandering and hydraulic engineeringworks altered its course. The area size of the territory in dispute is reported variously, up to 140 square kilometres (54 square miles).

The dispute first arose in 1947, but was left unresolved during the existence of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It became a contentious issue after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Particular prominence was given to the dispute at the time of Croatia’s accession to the European Union. As of September 2014 the dispute remains unresolved, and the line of control mostly corresponds to Serbia’s claim.

Interestingly this situation started in 1699 with the Treaty of Karlowitz, which transferred Slavonia and a portion of Syrmia (now Croatia) from the Ottoman Empire to the Habsburg Monarchy at the conclusion of the Great Turkish War. The rest of Syrmia was transferred to the Habsburg Monarchy through the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718. And yes the Dutch diplomat Jacobus Colyer was mediating during both peace talks….

The place where we were was very nice with beautiful nature, it reminded me a lot to my old home country the Netherlands. So I spent a nice weekend with my friends on the Habsburg Monarchy shore with a view to the Ottoman empire…..

Kenđija, 26/05/2018: a view towards the old Danube river, which was the former border between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg monarchy , currently the Croatian-Serbian border according the Croatian government. De facto this is all Serbian territory.

 

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“Capable of permanent stay in Serbia”

“Capable of permanent stay in Serbia”

Today I went for some medical tests which are compulsory to obtain a permanent stay in Serbia. Thanks god I am healthy, that is the most important thing of course in life, but you don ‘t beat Serbian bureaucracy with that: you have to wait in front of a šalter ( a counter) for minimum 30 minutes, pay, wait at least another 30 minutes and go from office to office. Anyway the people at the health care center were very nice, I have to admit and respect for them.

In the afternoon I had to come back to get the result of all the tests and the result was: “Sposoban za stalni boravak u Srbiji” which means “capable of permanent stay in Serbia” 🙂

Who would think that I would be ever happy in my life to get a medical certificate with a final statement like this ? And what does it mean “capable of permanent stay in Serbia”?
That I can continue listening Radio Bumbum (link) without any health reasons ? To be able at one day to sing the “Bože Pravde (the Serbian national anthem) without accent ?

With the help of my dear (Serbian) wife I was already aware of the things below, which are essential of surviving in Serbia….

From the book “Snippets of Serbia”, an illustrated guide about Serbia, by Komshe publishing. More info about the book you may see on their’s website (link).

So the medical test is done, I am now “capable of permanent stay in Serbia, officially recognized by the doctor , the next step is to deliver all the papers  to the MUP (police) let’s hope they will think the same way. ~to be continued~, let’s have a coffee first 🙂

Also from “Snippets of Serbia”
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Evil cats in Belgrade

Evil cats in Belgrade

This morning I passed them again: the evil cats of knjižara (=book shop) Apropo (link) at Cara Lazara street in the city center of Belgrade. Every morning I pass them on my way to the office and I could not stand it any more, it was enough ! During my lunch break I went there and started to complain to the staff  of the mentioned book shop about their evil cats.

I told them: “it is not fair that your cats are lying nicely and warm when I have to walk to the office”. “The worst thing is that they are smiling, jawing, looking at me stupid, evil or they are laughing at me”. “If next time they will do it again I will be back with my complaints”.  The good staff  member told me that she felt sorry for me and told me “that´s life”. The other one told me “you are always welcome with your complaints”. So that we call good customer relations :-).

One of the evil cats….

And of course, go there indeed, it is a lovely place (and the cats are nice during opening hours 😉 )

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Blic & Blic & RTS

Blic & Blic & RTS

Sometimes “the media” finds me and then I have to appear in the newspaper or on TV. Do I like it ? I would lie if I would say “no”

First it was Blic (=a Serbian newspaper) earlier in April (yes on my birthday even) about the movies I posted on YouTube about traffic behavior in Serbia (article online here). Later I was contacted for an article in the newspaper of Blic and it was a very nice article, which you can find online here (link).

It caused a chain reaction, because this week I was contact by RTS (the Serbian national TV) as they wanted an interview about me living here in Belgrade and the pro’s and con’s of that…

Here it is for those who understand Serbian 😉

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Kovačica, the centre of naïve art

Kovačica, the centre of naïve art

Yesterday it was 1st May and that means a public holiday in Serbia so we decided to finally go to Kovačica, a village approximately 47 km north-east of Belgrade in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. We heard nice stories about the village, which is called “the centre of naïve art”, so we took the chance to finally visit it.

Gallery of naïve art in Kovačica: Painting of Zuzana Chalupová, 1986.

Naïve art is any form of visual art that is created by a person who lacks the formal education and training that a professional artist undergoes. The result is nevertheless beautiful and very touching.I really like it, the scenes in these paintings are mostly innocent and very down to earth: scenes of daily (village) life and done in a very colourful and lively way. The most famous painter of them all was Zuzana Chalupová, a Serbian naïve painter Slovak origin (Wiki).

Gallery of naïve art in Kovačica: Painting of Zuzana Chalupová, 1986.

Kovačica is a multi-ethnic village with 6469 inhabitants and exists of: 41% Slovaks, 34% Serbian, 10% Hungarian, 7% Romanian, 8% Others*. The naïve art is mainly done by the Slovaks as they told us.

Multi-lingual street sign in Kovačica.

It is a very nice village and a very nice gallery, well worth visiting it. They have other things (galleries, churches etc.) which can be visited too, but they were closed, because of the public holiday. There is, definitely, a reason to go back!

More info:
Gallery of naïve art: http://www.naivnaumetnost.com/
Municipality Kovačica: http://kovacica.org/

Gallery of naïve art in Kovačica.

(*Source RZS)

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