Jasmina Tešanović: Neonazism in Serbia


Essay by Jasmina Tešanović
photos by Dobrivoje Dejanovic

Is there anything more macabre, stupid and campy in the modern political confusion than a nationalist Serbian Nazi?

During an antifascist rally in Novi Sad, Northern Serbia, a group of neonazis attacked us with stones, pieces of woods and tear gas. Their own rally had been prohibited in the very last minute by the minister of police, although the local mayor, a radical right winged woman, didn’t much mind it.

Only when Nazis from all the neighboring countries started flocking in across the Serbian borders did it became clear that Nazi rallies are not a great urban tourist policy.


How can Serbia become the center for modern Nazi fans whose idol Hitler bent every effort to exterminate Jews, gypsies and of course Serbs? Hitler even managed to be quite efficient in this area.

Hannah Arendt writes how Eichmann, during his trial in Jerusalem, was pathetically trying to be entirely truthful about his facts and orders...never lying about killing somebody or sparing them. Except for one bureaucratic detail -- those eight thousand Serbs whom Eichmann personally ordered killed within Serbia. Serbs were so invisible and expendable that Eichmann took a unique initiative in their case.

Today's neonazis are mostly young skinheads with a newly composed homicidal ideology : kill the gays first, then the Jews, with the gypsies as an ever-popular main dish. But how do Serbs re-imagine themselves as fascist killers rather than fascist prey?


That question goes to united Europe, with its right winged cries for national purities and identities against all the third world... any nonEuropean generally speaking... all those new comers who jeopardize local conservatism.

The neonazi New Order requires a new Other. Christian fundamentalism sets new standards, new multiethnic targets, new borders for culture-war.

These days wars have no clear national faces, no barricaded differences between invaders and defenders. Suicide bombers are killer and martyr in one, while Nazi invasions give way to ethnic terror inside states or endless military occupations. Invisible strong undercurrent waves of global power on earth, of surveillance in the skies, of struggles for the control of the bodies and mind of citizens, sorted randomly into victims and oppressors. War and peace become two faces of the same power game.

A prize of one million dollars was recently issued for the head of former general Ratko Mladic: the responsible party for the Srebrenica genocide. Mladic is the hero of the neo-nazis, radicals, and Serbian nationalists. His iconic face is all over Serbia, on T shirts, on posters, in the kiosks.

Mladic was actively sheltered by the official Serbian army until a few years ago and even two ordinary soldiers who stumbled across him were murdered mysteriously. His whereabouts were public, then semipublic, then clandestine, and now a myth. Bin Ladin's bounty never yet brought Al Qaeda to justice.

The devotees of Ratko Mladic will not be tempted by this reward: it is not a matter of cash but of power.

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Jasmina Tešanović is an author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker who shares her thoughts with BoingBoing from time to time. Email: politicalidiot at yahoo dot com. Her blog is here.

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Previous essays by Jasmina Tešanović on BoingBoing:

- Korea - South, not North.
- "I heard they are making a movie on her life."
- Serbia and the Flames
- Return to Srebenica
- Sagmeister in Belgrade
- Jasmina Tešanović: What About the Russians?
- Milan Martic sentenced in Hague
- Mothers of Mass Graves
- Hope for Serbia
- Stelarc in Ritopek
- Sarajevo Mon Amour
- MBOs
- Killing Journalists
- Jasmina Tešanović: Where Did Our History Go?
- Serbia Not Guilty of Genocide
- Carnival of Ruritania
- "Good Morning, Fascist Serbia!"
- Faking Bombings
- Dispatch from Amsterdam
- Where are your Americans now?
- Anna Politkovskaya Silenced
- Slaughter in the Monastery
- Mermaid's Trail
- A Burial in Srebenica
- Report from a concert by a Serbian war criminal
- To Hague, to Hague
- Preachers and Fascists, Out of My Panties
- Floods and Bombs
- Scorpions Trial, April 13
- The Muslim Women 
Belgrade: New Normality
- Serbia: An Underworld Journey
- Scorpions Trial, Day Three: March 15, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day Two: March 14, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day One: March 13, 2006
- The Long Goodbye
- Milosevic Arrives in Belgrade
- Slobodan Milosevic Died
- Milosevic Funeral

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  1. Yay! I always like Jasmina Tesanovic’s work. She does good stuff.

    I’m currently taking a class on the Balkan’s and one of the books I’ve read is “Serbia’s Secret War” by Phillip Cohen. He lays out an argument that basically says that many Serb nationalist were complicit with the Nazis. He calls the victimization of large numbers of the Serbian population by Nazis a myth, in fact, saying that while Chetniks (Croatia), who committed numerous atrocities during the war, never gained widespread Croatian support, while many Serbs supported the Nazi backed nationalist Serbian regime. While he does agree that there were Serb victims, the numbers have been inflated by Serb nationalist since the end of WW2, and used as a propaganda tool since then. Opinions on this in regards to Tesanovic’s article here. I guess this goes to complicity of a population, ala Christopher Browning or Daniel Goldhagen. Anyone?

    Thanks-
    Mindysan

  2. i didn’t understand this sentence..: “Opinions on this in regards to Tesanovic’s article here.” if you clarify i will be glad to share thoughts on Serbia with you..me being a Serbian citizen, having lived my entire life in this country. :)

    x x Me.

  3. Oops! I think I’m confusing my chetniks with my Ustashas! Sorry- If I paid more attention in class… ;-) Chetniks were Serb nationalist and Ustasha were Croat nationalist, both of whom collaborated. According to Phillips, Chetniks had wide support from the Serb population, while the Ustashas did not have wide support from Croats. He also says that a higher percentage of Croat Jews survived vs Serbian Jews.

    I mean opinions on what she said in light of Cohen’s claims about Serbian complicity during the war.

    She says that Serbs were victims during the War, hence it makes no sense that they want to invite Neo-nazis in. She says:

    How can Serbia become the center for modern Nazi fans whose idol Hitler bent every effort to exterminate Jews, gypsies and of course Serbs?

    And she says:

    Hannah Arendt writes how Eichmann, during his trial in Jerusalem, was pathetically trying to be entirely truthful about his facts and orders…never lying about killing somebody or sparing them. Except for one bureaucratic detail — those eight thousand Serbs whom Eichmann personally ordered killed within Serbia. Serbs were so invisible and expendable that Eichmann took a unique initiative in their case.

    Now, we all know that the Nazis had a policy of eliminating their “enemies” (both racial and political, often conflating the two). The numbers that Cohen points out of Serbs that died were way overinflated for political reasons. He claims that Serbian dead in the Jesanovac camp was inflated to some 700,000 and Tito’s government hushed up more accurate records. His point is that Serbs were generally more likely to be pro-nazi and supportive of the Chetnik government, while Croats were generally not supportive of the Ustasha government. Of course, there are all sorts of issues with such generalizations.

    Does that make sense? Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not attacking Tesanovic, cause I think she’s terrific. I wish more like her existed in the world… I just get nervous around nationalism in general. Considering the situation with Kosovo, it seems like a good idea to be wary. I’m also no expert on these matters.

    Thanks-
    Mindy

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