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The Nonconformists

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Nick Miller

Chapter 1. Simina 9a in a New Yugoslavia

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  • 1 Svetlana Velmar-Janković, “Sima Street,” in Radmila J. Gorup and Nadežda Obradović, The Prince of (...)
  • 2 Velmar-Janković, “Sima Street,” 84–85.

1Svetlana Velmar-Janković has written a story about a short street in the center of Belgrade called “Sima Street” (Simina ulica).1 It was named for Sima Nešić, a Serbian policeman whose attempts to pacify Serbs and Turks in a famous confrontation in 1862 resulted in his own death at the hands of the Turkish army brigade in Belgrade. For Velmar-Janković, Sima the targoman (interpreter), who knew many languages and saw himself as a mediator between two hostile extremes, stands as a symbol of reconciliation lost among hostile and incomprehending voices. Velmar-Janković’s Sima Nešić believed that “much evil stemmed from the fact that people were unaccustomed to listening to or understanding each other—they simply did not pay attention to words.”2 She finds it compelling that both Milan Bogdanović, an eloquent Marxist writer, and Slobodan Jovanović, Serbia’s renowned liberal historian, lived on Sima Street. Velmar-Janković does not mention that after the liberation of Belgrade in October 1944, a flat on Sima Street became the gathering point for a group of young Serbs of various personal, political, and intellectual leanings, yet joined in the belief that ideas mattered, even in a time of ideological orthodoxy such as the postwar period of communist consolidation. Time would tell that these men would eventually lose their ear for competing ideas; Velmar-Janković missed a golden opportunity to reflect on how a targoman can become deaf to the words of others. This book will consider the fates and influence of three men who began their adult lives as targomen in the most complicated of situations—a communist revolution—but ended up conformists in just as complicated conditions, as communism collapsed in Yugoslavia in the 1980s.

  • 3 Books in English that cover aspects of Serbian society during the war include Jozo Tomasevich, War (...)

2The communist revolution in Yugoslavia was felt and understood differently in various parts of the country, for obvious reasons. Yugoslavia had disintegrated in 1941, and the parts went in disparate directions. In Serbia, a quisling regime was established; Bosnia and Croatia constituted the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist state whose leadership attempted to kill all of its Jews and Gypsies and kill, convert, or expel all of its Serbs; Macedonia became part of Bulgaria, Slovenia was split between Italy and Germany. Territorially, parts of Serbia (as defined by most Serbs) went to Italian-occupied Albania (Kosovo), Italy (part of Montenegro), Hungary (western Vojvodina), Bulgaria (Macedonia), and the Independent State of Croatia (Serb-populated regions of Croatia and Bosnia). Politically, the destruction of Yugoslavia in April 1941 left Serbian loyalists to the government-in-exile who were loosely gathered under the leadership of former Royal Army Colonel Dragoljub (Draža) Mihailović and known as “Četniks”; members of the fascist paramilitary group “Zbor,” led by Dimitrije Ljotić; those loyal to the quisling government of General Milan Nedić; those who fought with Tito’s communist Partisans; and those who chose not to choose sides. In terms of loyalties and territory, Serbia was the most fractured of all the Yugoslav regions by the war.3

3Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and of interwar Yugoslavia, was liberated from the Germans and from the Nedić government by the Soviet Red Army and the communist Partisans of Josip Broz Tito between October 14 and 20, 1944. Liberation produced different emotions, depending upon one’s politics and attitudes towards the war. Although those emotions ran the gamut, several interesting models emerge from memoir literature of the period. There were, for starters, communist true-believers. Dobrica Ćosić, one of the primary subjects of this book, a conquering Partisan, described his own feelings:

  • 4 Dobrica Ćosić, Vreme vlasti (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga/Alfa, 1997) 7–8. This account is semi-fictio (...)

In the October twilight of 1944, in a Russian truck with the Committee, escorts, and couriers, I came to Belgrade for the first time. We were all in English uniforms, with Russian machine guns. That was the first dusk in liberated Belgrade and the first night of freedom in which the stars were the only light. Liberty was proclaimed with the thundering of Russian katyushas on the banks of the Sava and the Danube at the Germans, who, defeated, withdrew towards their German homeland. The liberation of Belgrade was celebrated with a Partisan kolo on Slavija…4

  • 5 Dobrica Ćosić, “Jedno prisećanje za ‘Daleko je sunce,” afterword to Dobrica Ćosić, Daleko je sunce (...)
  • 6 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 9.
  • 7 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 8.

4The communist victors saw the deliverance of Yugoslavia’s capital city as the beginning of a new era. Ćosić exulted: “It seemed to us that the world began with our freedom, that the world first appeared with our suffering and our fighting. Everyone believed that we would quickly put things in order around the country, that soon everyone would be happy…”5 The celebrations on Slavija square exhilarated Ćosić, who stayed with his comrades in “the home of wealthy bourgeois collaborators with the occupier… feeling it was our class and national right.”6 Ćosić was overwhelmed: “The realization that I was a witness and a participant in the greatest collective happiness of Belgrade provoked in me the need to commit to memory all that happened on Slavija that night…”7 The feelings of others were far from the minds of the Partisans who set out to recreate a unified Yugoslavia in their image.

  • 8 Djordjević, Scars and Memory, 222.
  • 9 Djordjević, Scars and Memory, 224.
  • 10 Djordjević’s uncle, Branko Popović, was described by the regime as: “University professor. Closest (...)

5Those others faced the new era with fear or resignation. As a young Četnik named Dimitrije Djordjević (later a well-known historian) passed through the streets of the city that October, “…shadows flitted by like ghosts. They surfaced from the nether depths of the city sensing that their time was coming.”8 Those shadows were portents of a chaotic and violent period in Belgrade at the hands of Ćosić’s Partisans. One of Djordjević’s painful memories of that time was the November execution by the Partisans of over a hundred residents of the city, a group that included actors, writers, members of various institutions that had continued to work under occupation, and his uncle, a painter. “There was little in common among them, except perhaps that none was a war criminal…”9 As for his uncle, his atelier was taken over by a painter, Djordje Andrejević-Kun, who was a Partisan.10 Of course, Djordjević, the scion of an influential middle-class family and a Četnik, could not be expected to sympathize with brutal and capricious violence in the name of a new order.

  • 11 Marko Ristić, “Smrt fašizmu—sloboda narodu!” in Politička književnost (za ovu Jugoslaviju) 1944–19 (...)
  • 12 Ristić, “Smrt fašizmu—sloboda narodu!,” 15–16.

6Still others fudged principle for survival. There were many who found it expedient to touch up their credentials with the new regime. For example, in November 1944, several articles appeared in Politika under the authorship of Marko Ristić, a well-known Serbian surrealist writer who had spent the war in Vrnjačka banja, a spa town in central Serbia. The first of these articles demanded that those who had spent the war “on this side of the front” compose an “inventory of shame,” since they had “seen from close up treachery and horror, lies and crimes without precedent.”11 Ristić continued: “The traitor who is not eliminated is the breeding ground of future treachery, and the unpunished criminal is the stimulus to future crime. There is not and cannot be a free people, nor unity, nor peace, nor happiness without the complete, merciless destruction of the treasonous reaction…”12

7A few weeks after his call to compose the inventory of shame, Ristić exulted in the deaths of “traitors,” in a piece entitled “Those Who Together Became Criminals Have Together Gone Off To Their Deaths.” Here he offered a jubilant requiem for those who had been among the first victims of the new regime, those same men lamented by Djordjević:

  • 13 Marko Ristić, “Zajedno su pošli u smrt oni koji su zajedno pošli u zločin,” in Politička književno (...)

Those who became criminals together have gone off to their deaths together: Nedić’s ministers and agents of the special police, district heads and informers, members of the court martial of the Serbian state guard, Pečanac’s Četniks, generals and agents of the Gestapo, university professors and gendarmes, holders of the Karadjordjević star and Draža’s cutthroats…”13

8There was a euphoric and almost bloodthirsty quality to the articles by Ristić, who had engaged in contentious literary polemics before the war with several of the leading Yugoslav communists. And as a bystander in the war, he knew that he needed to polish his resume. Marko Ristić became communist Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to France in the spring of 1945.

  • 14 On the Srem Front, see Branko Petranović, Srbija u drugom svetskom ratu, 1939–1945 (Belgrade: Vojn (...)

9Whatever Ristić’s personal and professional qualities, he successfully navigated a tortuous period in Serbia’s history—the liberation of Belgrade and the establishment of communist power in Serbia. Djordjević also made it, with his dignity intact but little else. Having fought the Germans during the war, he survived capture and imprisonment in Mauthausen. Then, following Belgrade’s liberation, in November he successfully evaded forced conscription into Tito’s partisans and with it the notorious Srem front (established north and west of Belgrade after that city’s liberation), on which much of the fighting against retreating German divisions was done by untested conscripts from formerly-occupied Belgrade.14 In November 1945, he was tried and imprisoned for a short time for opposing the communist regime via his small liberal-democratic organization called the National Revolutionary Serbian Youth. What separated the fates of Ristić and Djordjević was the willingness of Ristić to reduce himself before the conquering communists and the insistence of Djordjević on retaining his personal and intellectual integrity.

10Most of those living in Belgrade were less engaged than Ćosić, Djordjević, or Ristić. “Ordinary” Serbs probably felt as Bata Mihailović, a young painter, did upon liberation:

  • 15 Milo Gligorijević, “Dolazak boljih buntovnika” NIN (Belgrade) June 18, 1989, 30.

I did not seek an explanation whether communism won or this or that, that did not even occur to me. I was happy that someone who came into our house uninvited, who slaughtered, hanged, killed even children, who humiliated us, in the end had to flee like the last beggar and good-for-nothing…That is how I experienced it.15

  • 16 Milovan Danojlić, Lične stvari: Ogledi o sebi i o drugima (Belgrade: Plato, 2001) 17.

11Like other Serbs in liberated Belgrade, Mihailović had to find his way, burdened by a suspect wartime resume. The uncommitted cautiously navigated the period: Milovan Danojlić described late 1944 and 1945 in military terms as “Operation Instill Fear.”16 Miodrag Pavlović, a young Serbian poet, later explained that one could avoid attention

  • 17 Miodrag Pavlović, Drugi dolazak, ili Proslava smaka sveta (Belgrade: Nolit, 2000) 28.

by an internal effort [to] make himself first ‘grey’ and then unnoticeable. Not to radiate anything, not to have a personality, nor breath, nor beating heart, nor fear, nor bravery. The police patrol [would] simply pass him by, not even asking for his military identification. He succeeded… unnoticed, invisible…17

  • 18 Danojlić, Lične stvari, 27.

12Many probably felt as Danojlić later reported that he had: “My whole life, I have felt a mixture of attraction and repulsion, interest and disgust, pleasurable mistrust and curiosity, towards the order established in 1945.18

13Serbs like these neither believed, collaborated, nor heroically defended their intellectual and personal integrity. Some of them fought their battle against the new regime by taking tiny steps. Still others reluctantly but passively accepted the good that came with the bad of the new order.

  • 19 For the term “nonconformists,” see Slavoljub Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu: Razgovori sa Dobricom Ć (...)
  • 20 Some of the inhabitants are alive, others deceased. Dobrica Ćosić, the most famous of them, is ali (...)
  • 21 Autobiographical writings include Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Autobiografija—o drugima 2 v. (Belgra (...)

14Several young men reflecting many of the various responses to the communist takeover gathered after the war in an apartment first described by Dobrica Ćosić in 1974. The address of these “nonconformists”19 was Simina 9a (they are often referred to as siminovci, after the street name). Since the mid-1980s, thanks to their own influence, that address has held a unique relevance for Serbian opponents of Titoism. Collectively, the siminovci view themselves as having been an important intellectual and cultural circle, although it is not entirely certain whether these nonconformists are significant for what they did from the late 1940s onward or for the image that they created for themselves and which resonated among other Serbs many years later.20 In 1945, the nonconformists had a remarkable future ahead of them: Dobrica Ćosić became one of Serbia’s foremost novelists; Miodrag (Mića) Popović one of Serbia’s most influential painters; Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz an extraordinarily popular literary critic in the 1950s, an innovative theater director in the 1960s; Pavle Ivić a renowned and often controversial linguist; Mihailo Djurić, a combative philosopher; Živorad Stojković a publicist who contributed to the opening of Serbian publishing to onceblacklisted writers like Slobodan Jovanović; Vojislav Djurić a leading art historian.21 There were also women, but their role has never been explained. Looking back in 1987, Ćosić wrote that previously he did not emphasize them because

  • 22 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 129.

of the desire not to remind our intelligent, pretty, and honorable female friends—Spomenka Mirilović, who read Yesenin to us in Russian, Jovanka Maksimović, Mira Margan, Vera Pavlović-Medar, Mileva Ivić, Mira Ilijević, Milica Mihajlović, Jelica Tomašević and some that I have forgotten—today notable and somewhat fatigued women, of our ever so male pigsty.22

15He could have added Vera Božičković (who would marry Mića Popović in 1949), Kosara Bokšan, and Ljubinka Jovanović, all painters. Milka Ivić became a prominent linguist and was the wife of Pavle Ivić, while Milica Mihajlović was married to Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz.

  • 23 Jevtić, Sa Mićom Popovićem, 27.

16But these nonconformists achieved their special place in the iconography of Serbian anti-Titoism because by the 1980s they all found themselves as nationalist opponents of the Yugoslav communist regime. Only when Ćosić became the voice of the Serbian minority in Kosovo after 1968, when Mihailo Djurić was martyred to the Titoist mantra of “moral-political fitness” (moralno-politička podobnost) in 1971, when Popović’s 1974 exhibition was shut down for being too critical of the regime, and when Mihiz emerged as a voice for freedom of speech in the 1980s, did they become relevant as a group. As the legend of Simina 9a grew in the 1980s, they themselves were prone to enhance their own roles and reputations in earlier times. Perhaps the clearest declaration about the importance of Simina 9a came from Mića Popović: “it bore the most serious values of our generation!”23 One can find similar if less explicit claims by members of the circle, and nearly all of them emanate from the turbulent 1980s. One can also persuasively argue that by the 1980s, they had become narrow-minded nationalists, and that they had thereby betrayed the example of Sima the targoman and the promise of the street that nurtured them as young men.

  • 24 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 124.
  • 25 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 32.
  • 26 Medaković, Oči u oči, 16.
  • 27 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002; on care packages: Dobrica Ćosić, Piščevi zap (...)
  • 28 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 34.
  • 29 Medaković, Oči u oči, 16.

17The first occupants of Simina 9a were Borislav Mihajlović (later known by his nickname “Mihiz”) and Vojislav Djurić. They had met in Pančevo, where Djurić was a district police commander and Mihajlović was serving the new regime on the “Commission of Inquiry for the Confirmation of the Crimes of the Occupier and His Helpers in Vojvodina, District of South Banat.”24 Djurić was a full member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (Komunistička partija Jugoslavije, CPY), while Mihajlović was a skojevac (member of the communist youth organization) and a candidate for full party membership. Unable to bear the discipline, Mihajlović quit the party, and he and Djurić moved to Belgrade to begin university studies. They rented a flat on the third floor of Simina 9a, with Djurić’s stipend paying their rent.25 Živorad (Žika) Stojković and Dejan Medaković were the next to join them. They were both friends of Mihiz from his high school days in Sremski Karlovci, and Medaković had spent many days and nights in occupied Belgrade with Stojković’s parents, whose apartment in Čubura was “a real oasis of freedom in occupied Belgrade.”26 Stojković would never be as public a figure as the others eventually were, but Ćosić viewed him as the most honorable of them all, a proud and hard-headed moralist who would go for years not speaking to one or the other of his friends should they slight him (“only proud people—like Žika Stojković—turn down care packages,” Ćosić wrote in May 1951, as American aid poured into the country27). Medaković, a member of an influential Zagreb Serbian family, was described as the only true “decadent” of the whole bunch.28 He had been employed in the Museum of Prince Paul (now the National Museum) since March 1942.29

  • 30 “Književno veće mladih,” in Mladost (Belgrade) v. 3, no. 1–2 (January–February 1947) 131–32.
  • 31 Ž. Stojković, “Okolo prvog romana Dobrice Ćosića” in Savremenik (Belgrade) October 1984, 333.
  • 32 Stojković, “Okolo,” 334.
  • 33 Mihiz, Autobiografija v. 1, 152–54; Ćosić, Mića Popović, 25; Stojković, “Okolo,” 333–34.
  • 34 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 151.

18The next addition to the circle was a young painter named Mića Popović, who had travelled back to Belgrade after serving time in battle on the Drina front, in a military hospital, and in prison. He was invited in by Stojković, whom he had met in a prison hospital. Then, in early January 1946, the Ivo Lola Ribar Cultural-Artistic Society (a communist youth section named for a KPJ youth leader killed during the war), of which Mihiz was an officer, held a public reading.30 The editor of Mladi borac, the newspaper of the communist youth of Serbia, arrived with a retinue to read a short story entitled “Canina’s First Love.” The reader already had a name—as a member of Serbia’s Agitprop commission, as the editor of a regime newspaper—and thus a ready-made reputation in the new order. He “read suggestively, with a poise which seemed meaningful, but did not call one’s attention to the actual text. Some of us failed to follow the content, because it somehow got lost in the reading, which lasted a fairly long time.”31 Mihiz, the leader of the discussion, said that night that “the reading left a better impression than the story itself,” which “missed the mark as literature, cloaked by the ease and freshness of the narration.”32 Mihiz was rewarded with derision from the more party-minded members of the audience. Following the evening’s festivities, Dobrica Ćosić, the stylish writer, approached Mihiz and suggested that they get to know each other better. Stojković and Popović were also present at the reading, and thus for the completion of the Simina 9a circle.33 Mihiz recalled later that “Mića Popović and Dobrica Ćosić…came into my life in rather odd ways always to remain there, from entirely different extremes: one from the floor of a provincial military prison, the other from the very heights of the new government.”34

  • 35 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 71.
  • 36 Medaković, Oči u oči, 12.

19Their backgrounds were as diverse as their vocations would indicate. Mihiz was the son of an Orthodox priest. Born in Irig in 1922, he attended gymnasium in Sremski Karlovci amid the memories and mythology of Serbian history. “For instance, we learned all of The Mountain Wreath (Gorski vijenac) by heart. From the sixth to the eight grade of gymnasium, one was automatically given the assignment to commit to memory, hour by hour, twenty lines… They taught us to be good Serbs.”35 Medaković, Mihiz’s schoolmate, confirms that they had to memorize Njegoš, the object of a “true cult,” but the impression of Serbianness is mitigated by the fact that they learned Ivan Mažuranić’s “Death of Smail-Aga Čengić” as well.36 Mihiz’s father was politically liberal, and chose to express his liberalism by voting for opposition candidates—whichever of Ljuba Davidović’s Democrats or Jovan Jovanović’s Agrarians seemed to be more honorable. He couldn’t vote for Pribićević’s Independent Democrats because they were too Croatian. Upon the liberation of Belgrade, Mihiz’s childhood friend and then-Partisan Voja Korač sent him to Pančevo to work on the war crimes council, probably as an act of salvation to give Mihiz credentials with the new regime.

  • 37 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 155–65.

20Popović was born in Loznica on June 12, 1923, but his parents moved the family to Belgrade when he was four. His father Toma was a veteran of the Salonika front in the First World War. Popović never showed much of an inclination to schoolwork, but his painting drew admirers even as an eighteen-year-old. He spent the war in occupied Serbia, working as a waiter in the Slavija hotel in Belgrade, then as forced labor in the mines of Bor; with the liberation of Belgrade in October 1944, he volunteered for military service. His commander placed him in the propaganda detachment of his unit, where he painted what he called “monster-portraits” (communist icons) for several months. In January 1945, he demanded that he be allowed to fight. His reasons for volunteering are unclear. Popović may have felt obliged to fight because his father spent the war incarcerated by the Germans. He may simply have felt guilty about having spent many of the war years in the relative safety of Belgrade. He was dispatched to the Drina, where he joined the party and was wounded near Gračanica, on the southern tip of the Srem Front; then to an army hospital, where he met its commander, Žika Stojković, who befriended him. From the hospital, Popović was consigned to Belgrade, where he helped paint the Soviet Army Center. There he first came into contact with the hierarchy of privileges that obtained in the new “egalitarian” order, as rations were dispersed according to rank. He complained about this in a letter to his friend Stojan Ćelić, but unfortunately the letter was intercepted by a member of OZNA, the new regime intelligence service, and Popović was arrested and kicked out of the party. After spending weeks in jail, he was given a six-year sentence, but was soon amnestied. In spring 1946, he made his way to Simina 9a, about which he had heard from his friend Stojković.37

  • 38 But Ćosić’s grandfather Jeftimije determined that it should be recorded that he was actually born (...)
  • 39 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 346.
  • 40 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 348.

21Finally, Dobrica Ćosić’s was a family of peasants. Dobrosav Z. Ćosić was born in Velika Drenova on January 4, 1922.38 After a youth spent working and playing in the fields of the Morava valley, in 1939 he stumbled upon some socialist literature while at school in Negotin. Soon thereafter he joined the Savez komunističke omladine Jugoslavije, the communist youth. The war brought a sense of clarity to his life: “now we communists would begin our war.”39 By the autumn of 1943, he was working for the district Agitprop sector. After writing articles for Mladi borac (Young Warrior), he was in the fall of 1944 co-opted for work in that newspaper’s editorial office; he also began to work at that time in the Agitprop commission for the Serbian communist youth. Freedom, though invigorating, left him unfulfilled: “liberation comes, and I scribble.”40

THE DIALECTS OF CREATION AND DESTRUCTION

22They came of age in trying times—there was probably never a more complicated moment in Yugoslavia’s twentieth-century history. Immediately after the liberation of Belgrade, Aleksandar Ranković, a Serb among the leadership of Tito’s communists, described Serbia’s situation in stark terms:

  • 41 Deklaracije i odluke Velike antifašističke narodno-oslobodilačke skupštine Srbije (Belgrade: Glas (...)

…in difficult and unequal battle with a far more powerful enemy, our [Serbian] nation found itself in difficulties such as it had not known in its earlier struggles. Former political leaders, generals, and officers, state and local civil servants from the bureaucracy of old Yugoslavia not only did not stand on the side of the people, but they joined with their centuries-old enemy and became his loyal helpers and bloody criminals against their own nation. Thus in its hard struggle against the occupier the Serbian people had at the same time to suffer the struggle against traitors, who knifed it in the back in the most difficult years of its national history.41

23Serbia’s situation had a specific reference point for good communists: in the Yugoslav party’s view, Serbia had acted hegemonically in interwar Yugoslavia; the Serbian bourgeoisie, military, government, and monarchy had acted as the gravediggers of the interwar state and the oppressors of the remaining nations of the state. Serbia thus came in for some very specific treatment after the liberation of Belgrade.

24The first Serbian dilemma to be addressed was its geopolitical fate. At the first meeting of the “Great Antifascist Assembly of National Liberation of Serbia” in November 1944, Ranković had to convince fellow Serbs of the need to politically partition their Serbia, asking rhetorically whether one “could speak of the fragmentation of Serbian lands, the division of the Serbs and the weakening of Serbia.” One could, Ranković said, begin

  • 42 Aleksandar Ranković, Politički položaj Srbije i zadaci Velike antifašističke skupštine narodnog os (...)

from the standpoint that Serbian hegemony and the oppression of other peoples should continue to exist.…But, if one begins from the standpoint of the equality of all of the peoples of Yugoslavia, the removal of all that which reactionaries could exploit and which they exploited for the estrangement of the peoples of Yugoslavia, if one begins from the standpoint of the unity of Yugoslavia as a brotherly association of equal nations, if one begins from the standpoint of the struggle against the Germans and their helpers…then there can be no talk of that.42

25Serbia, a republic within the federation, would have two autonomous units: Vojvodina, a province, and Kosovo and Metohija, a region, of lesser status than Vojvodina. Other points of interest include the decision to add some territory historically belonging to Croatia to Vojvodina and to create republics of Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Macedonia, all of which could conceivably have been added to Serbia or partitioned between Serbia and some other federal unit.

  • 43 It was one of twelve departments established within the central committee; see Carol Lilly, Power (...)
  • 44 Milovan Djilas, Rise and Fall (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983).
  • 45 Zogović, for instance, published an article entitled “For Sword and For Pen” which exceeded Ristić (...)
  • 46 As Carol Lilly has noted, Zogović’s “invariably acrid and uncompromising statements were clearly a (...)

26As were Serbia’s physical contours, the cultural and economic contours of Serbia under communism were also quickly established. Cultural policies for all of Yugoslavia were determined by a tightly knit circle of influential communists, with Milovan Djilas at the head. Djilas, one of the four leading Yugoslav communists during and after the war (with Tito, Ranković, and Edvard Kardelj), eagerly accepted the role of cultural arbiter and regime propagandist. In July 1945, the central committee of the KPJ formally established the Department for Agitation and Propaganda (“Agitprop”), which Djilas guided.43 The main task at hand for Agitprop upon liberation of the country was as much to build a new communist cultural climate as to destroy the control, real or potential, enjoyed by competitors. Agitprop’s activity was dominated by a core group of intellectuals whom Djilas described as “smart, well-indoctrinated, and steeped in ideology.”44 Among them, Djilas, Stevan Mitrović (formally the secretary for KPJ Agitprop), and Radovan Zogović (the commissar for culture for KPJ Agitprop) stood out—Djilas because he was one of the four acknowledged leaders of the party, Mitrović and especially Zogović for their Stalinist militance.45 Zogović was the most visible and most uncompromising member of the Agitprop elite.46

27A key problem faced by the regime was the lack of communist intellectuals. Reorienting the cultures of the peoples of Yugoslavia would require the commitment of the cultural elite of those peoples. So many of Yugoslavia’s leading lights were either unwilling to work with the regime, compromised by wartime actions, or untutored in the Marxist-Leninist basics, that one of the chief tasks forced upon Agitprop was to create such a cadre from the ground up. Cultural figures thus occupied an important place in the new order. Here, the siminovci represented the type of cultural resources that the regime hoped to cultivate. It approached this problem on two fronts, one destructive, the other creative. While destroying the influence of old cultural institutions, it attempted to create new ones to nurture and then command the loyalty of a new cultural elite. The relationship of revolution and tradition would continue to vex Yugoslavs, communists and noncommunists alike. Here, the treatment of organizations (the Serbian Literary Guild [Srpska književna zadruga, SKZ]), people (Marko Ristić, Ivo Andrić), and works (The Mountain Wreath) will serve as examples of the way the party approached the cultural transformation of Serbia.

  • 47 On the zadruga, see Ljubinka Trgovčević, Istorija srpske književne zadruge (Belgrade: Srpska knjiž (...)
  • 48 The directorate included the already deceased Stefanović, plus Dragutin Kostić, Todor Manojlović, (...)
  • 49 Djura Gavela, Srpska književna zadruga pod okupacijom (Belgrade: Planeta, 1945) 45; Trgovčević, Is (...)

28In Serbia, destructive force was first turned on the Serbian Literary Guild, which published the Srpski književni glasnik (Serbian Literary Herald), and was the oldest Serbian literary society.47 The SKZ, never a source or sponsor of leftist ideas, continued to operate under Nedić during the Second World War, which rendered it suspect in the eyes of the communists at war’s end. In April 1945, a commission of the Antifascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Serbia (Antifašistička skupština narodnog oslobodjenja Srbije, ASNOS) with Djuro Gavela, a Serbian literary historian, as commissar, produced a report condemning the work of the SKZ under the leadership of Svetislav Stefanović (who had already been executed, among that initial group of collaborators in November 1944). Gavela was in a tough spot, as he was closely associated with the prewar guild and wished as much to give it new life as to condemn its wartime collaboration. He imposed a heavy-handed solution on the SKZ: banished for life from the organization were several compromised members of the wartime directorate; any writer whose work had been published under the collaborationist directorate (a category that included William Shakespeare and the turn-of-the-century Serbian scholar Stojan Novaković); and those writers who had submitted manuscripts during the war, even if they were not published.48 The entire series of wartime publications was destroyed, their memory erased from the record. Thus The Merchant of Venice was pulped in Belgrade in 1945.49 This doctrinaire solution saved the SKZ, but in fact the institution remained marked by its traditionalist inheritance and, with one short exception, never came close to regaining its prewar importance.

  • 50 “Poziv književnicima,” in Politika (Belgrade) December 31, 1944, 7; “Osnovano je udruženje književ (...)
  • 51 The first membership list of the UKS only lists fifty-one. All of these figures come from Radovan (...)

29Instead, a new organization was created alongside it, an organization free of the SKZ’s mark of shame: the Serbian Writers’ Association (Udruženje književnika Srbije, UKS), a component of the larger League of Writers of Yugoslavia (Savez književnika Jugoslavije, SkJ). The Serbian Writers’ Association was founded on December 31, 1944 at a meeting in the main hall of the tainted premises of the Serbian Literary Guild. Several months later, sections for Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohija were founded.50 As “antifascist writers who are in sympathy with the inheritance of the people’s liberation war,” the writers who answered the call to form the association elected Isidora Sekulić president, Jovan Popović (a socialist-realist poet) vice-president, and Oskar Davičo (one of Belgrade’s surrealists) first secretary. The other officers included Zogović, Ivo Andrić (a bourgeois novelist on the brink of his most impressive literary contributions), Ristić, and Gavela. The organization counted forty founding members; of sixty additional applicants, forty-one more were accepted, which brought the total to eighty-one.51 The “court of honor” of the UKS (which included Ristić, Gavela, Eli Finci, and Milan Dedinac) rejected nineteen applicants, having deemed them too compromised by their wartime activities.

  • 52 Predrag Palavestra, Posleratna srpska književnost, 1945–1970 (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1972) 29. See al (...)

30The intellectual inheritance of the leaders of the KPJ and the dictates of party policy combined to make socialist realism the victorious dogma of immediate postwar Yugoslavian cultural politics. Socialist realism has been defined by one of its adherents as “the true and full depiction of reality in its revolutionary development” (Andrei Zhdanov). According to a hostile Predrag Palavestra, one of Serbia’s foremost literary critics since the early 1950s, the ideologues of a “vulgarized” socialist realism in Yugoslavia enjoyed “absolute and supreme authority, which was expressed apodictically and irreversibly.”52 In Yugoslavia, the socialist-realist period did not last long—the doctrine was discredited along with Stalinism not long after the 1948 Tito–Stalin split. Its dictates alienated many Yugoslav writers, because it demanded that the deeper traditions, historical continuities, and organic developments of the national literatures be subordinated to its didactic task. In spite of these obstacles, in Yugoslavia the new regime at least tried to apply it vigorously. But even before 1948, its application was not pervasive.

31The regime could not sustain a solid break with the past because there were not enough Yugoslav socialist realists. So, for instance, at the First Congress of Writers, Zogović provided some insight into the way that prewar writers who were not leftists could make it into the fold. He explained that prewar Yugoslav writers were divided mainly between two extremes: profascist and antifascist. There was still a middle ground, however.

  • 53 Radovan Zogović, “O našoj književnosti, njenom položaju i njenim zadacima danas,” in Zogović, Na p (...)

Among those writers for whom it could be said that they were in the middle, certain older writers evinced special qualities; the best and healthiest traits of their poetry link them to the realistic and revolutionary-romantic literary tradition, to the national-liberation struggles of our peoples before the First World War, to certain groups within the National Front, to our folklore, etc.53

32The government was prepared to include these non-communist writers in intellectual life in Yugoslavia. In special cases, such as that of Ivo Andrić, whose resolute refusal to work with the occupation authorities in Belgrade overcame his prewar status as a member of the establishment (he had been ambassador to Germany when Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact in 1941), the need to co-opt leading figures for the revolution overcame a natural reluctance. Notable examples of the coopted also included Aleksandar Belić, the Serbian linguist.

33The party, through Agitprop, which utilized the writers’ organizations and journals as means of transmission to the broader public, defined the task of the writer. Formally, that task was closely linked to the dominant conception of the role of art and literature in the revolution: partijnost (party-mindedness). One recent formulation of partijnost (in the Soviet context) describes it as follows:

  • 54 Leonid Heller, “A World of Prettiness: Socialist Realism and Its Aesthetic Categories,” in Thomas (...)

the artwork’s dominant idea had to be “communist.” But while this was a necessary condition for an artwork’s identification as “Soviet,” it was far from sufficient: “Party-mindedness” meant not merely illustrative of some abstract (communist) idea, but also “militant,” “aggressive,” producing an active effect. An artwork was ‘Partyminded’ insofar as it contributed to “the construction of communism” or, in other words, insofar as it commented on the burning problems which confronted socialist society.54

34The Yugoslav writer or artist was expected to produce works that evinced an active involvement in the social process, that not only represented but actively engaged in the transformation of society with communism as the ultimate aim. It went without saying that the work of art and the artist him/herself were expressing the will of the entire people rather than some self-interested segment. Such a series of definitions, although rigorously conceived, left the door open to writers who would not identify, strictly speaking, with communism. For instance, Andrić, perhaps the best example of a non-communist writer who was able to make himself at home under the new order, publicly defined the role of the writer in a way that allowed for the merging of the non-communist writer’s own ethos with partijnost: the writer is someone who

  • 55 Ratko Peković, Ni rat, ni mir: Panorama književnih polemika, 1945–65 (Belgrade: Filip Višnjić, 198 (...)

creates people or at least contributes to their creation…[not] one who willingly and consciously, through choice of theme or process, stands aside from the life of the living, far from either our reality or the world’s, who wants only to create through literature a deserted field and playground for his personal parades and battlegrounds, for bizarre games of the heart and the barren exploits of lonely thoughts.55

35Without resorting to Stalinist boilerplate, Andrić had concurred with the standard Zogovićean definition of the engaged writer; but in so doing, he had also revealed how unrevolutionary the concept could be.

  • 56 Zogović, “O našoj književnosti, njenom položaju i njenim zadacima danas,” 201–202.

36The literary critic also occupied a special place in communist Yugoslavia. If Yugoslavia lacked a developed cadre of Marxist writers, poets, painters, musicians, and other cultural actors, then it was incumbent not just on the party itself, through administrative measures and cadre education, but also on the critic to work towards the refinement of a socialist culture. Zogović had enunciated a role for criticism as early as 1946: “Criticism must follow that enormous mass of translated and domestic books which are printed daily and which the new reader thirsts for.” The critic’s task was to “explain the idea of the book, to clearly and objectively assess its virtues and its defects, to place front and center the most meaningful literary works.” “Without criticism,” Zogović added, “the inexperienced reader in the multitude of books looks like a traveller in an unknown region without a guide; without criticism—a book in the hands of an inexperienced reader, in other words, our reader, remains half-mute.”56 The victory of a new order demanded more, and less, of criticism than ever before. More, because a communist literary intelligentsia had to be developed, quickly; less, because the new order demanded a single critical approach, whereas earlier critical discourse in Serbia and Yugoslavia had been exceptionally competitive. Criticism, which usually involves the critique of a literary or artistic work after its creation, now became a didactic guide to the writer before the fact. In other words,

  • 57 Ješa Denegri, Pedesete: Teme srpske umetnosti (1950–1960) (Novi Sad: Svetovi, 1993) 21.

theory did not follow practice, criticism did not follow the completion of the work of art, but theory and criticism took over the role of guide in artistic life, bringing before artists demands which had to be fulfilled, and judging works of art and their scope on the basis of such a priori posited demands.57

37Zogović’s critic, it goes without saying, would apply socialist realism to his subjects.

  • 58 Radovan Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” in Zogović, Na poprištu, 247–70.
  • 59 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 249.

38Given the fact that socialist realism was alien to most Yugoslav writers and artists, another of Agitprop’s tasks was to co-opt what it could of individual national literary inheritances. One famous example is Zogović’s reevaluation of Njegoš’s The Mountain Wreath. Zogović’s Njegoš was motivated less by religious and national oppression than the constraints of life under feudal Ottoman domination.58 Such a stance required a reinterpretation of the social structure of Montenegro as well as of Njegos’s own motivations. “In Montenegro a tribal order of a special type governed in which there was already private ownership, and thus also a sort of embryo class division, but also tribal unity regarding one tribe’s relationship to another and especially toward foreign conquerors [ie., Ottomans]…”59 The embryonic class struggle thus brought Montenegrin tribes into conflict with the governing Turk.

  • 60 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 250–51.

Thus the annihilation of poturice [Slavic converts to Islam] in Montenegro, and the war of liberation which began before and continued after it, was in essence the germ of the wars of liberation of the Balkan peoples, the beginning of resistance to the foreign feudalists, to the Islamized domestic lords, to feudalism in general, to feudal tyranny and exploitation, to the arrogant game that the great powers played with the fate of the Balkan peoples.60

39For Zogović, the classic centerpiece of The Mountain Wreath, the slaughter of converts, was merely the first act in a class struggle that brought them under the sword not for their religious or national attributes, but for their socio-economic position.

40Zogović finds The Mountain Wreath to be “an eternal textbook for the revolutionary struggle for the freedom and happiness of the people… a living and unintended textbook for our National Liberation struggle.” For this assertion he cites the following lines of the poem:

Let there be ceaseless battle!
Let there be the unthinkable,

let resound a song of horror,
to build an altar on bloodied stone!

  • 61 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 261.
  • 62 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 262.
  • 63 “New realism” was the term that the Yugoslavs used for “socialist realism.”
  • 64 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 266.

41“That place [in the poem]…embodies the revolutionary truth that a new, proper social order, a kingdom of liberty, a new ‘altar’ on the land, can be built only on the wreckage of the old, can only be conquered through revolutionary struggle.”61 Njegoš himself, usually portrayed as a romantic, becomes for Zogović “a powerful, fearless and just painter of the world, life, people, human society, and human passions—and his reflections are worth more as elements and forms of artistic truth about life than as some sort of pure philosophy.”62 “Those are the reasons which make Njegoš’s realism unique. Some of them draw him very close to our understanding of new realism.63 Njegoš’s realism was nearer to new realism than to either our classical or modern critical realists.”64 Zogović’s prescriptions conflict: on one hand, there will be ceaseless battle, an altar built on bloodied stone, and rebuilding on the ruins of the old; on the other, Njegoš himself stands as a co-opted symbol of that “old.”

42Yugoslavia’s artistic community found itself just as bound by the new faith as writers were. The regime, through its artistic organizations, juried exhibits, and sanctioned critics, who included Jovan Popović, Grga Gamulin, and Oto Bihalji Merin, aggressively promoted socialist realism in painting from 1944 to 1950. The artistic version of the UKS, the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (Udruženje likovnih umetnika Srbije, ULUS) was founded in 1944; in 1945, parallel organizations were formed for the other republics of Yugoslavia. In 1947, the Union of Fine Artists of Yugoslavia (Savez likovnih umetnika Jugoslavija, SLUJ) was created to coordinate the actions of the others. At the first congress of SLUJ in December 1947, the Serbian painter Djordje Andrejević-Kun (who had taken over the atelier of Dimitrije Djordjević’s uncle in 1944) outlined the goal of the organization, that

  • 65 Quoted by Dragoslav Djordjević, “Socijalistički realizam,” in 1929–1950: Nadrealizam, socijalna um (...)

art participate actively in that altering of life, in the creative transformation of man. But in giving expression to life which is changing, it will itself change.…we need to develop among us the justified ambition to offer European and world art new examples for progressive art.…but our first and main ambition is to satisfy the needs of our peoples for art, to answer the demands of our epoch.65

43Developing that new art would be difficult, given Yugoslavia’s and Serbia’s artistic inheritance. There were no true socialist realist painters in Serbia in 1944. Impressionism, which came late to Serbia (between approximately 1907 and 1920, in the work of Nadežda Petrović, Mališa Glišić, Kosta Miličević, and others) became the bête noir of the new critical elite in Yugoslavia. Impressionism’s heirs had also made inroads in Serbia. The new regime rejected them all. In the words of Oto Bihalji Merin, the art of the interwar period left

  • 66 Oto Bihalji Merin, writing in 1949, and quoted in Lazar Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 1900–1950 ( (...)

a clear picture of the sickness and weakness of capitalism. It did not create a harmonious style, nor even a unified character. It is chaotic, restless, and far from its true calling: to create not an artistic work, but [one] for humanity, and that in the great, convincing, and universally understandable language of formation.66

44The socialist realist critics sought painting that reflected the unity of form, content, and the era in which it was produced:

  • 67 Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 252.

life irresistably imposes the creation of art whose content will be a reflection, explanation, and document of our contemporary reality—its form accessible and easily understood by the average working man and people, the creation of idealistic art which will work educationally, uplifting the social political consciousness of the entire people, art which will be both nice and necessary to the people.67

  • 68 Jovan Popović, quoted in Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 253.

45This demand for coherence and engagement led them to promote the painters of the renaissance, the baroque, and the romantic eras. In Serbian painting, they reached for models beyond the impressionists to a slightly earlier period, when painters like Uroš Predić and Paja Jovanović produced their imposing testaments to romantic national revival. The goal of the proponents of socialist realism was not to turn painters into automatons who would replicate the work of old masters. Painters would, however, be called to replicate the synthesis of era and art that the ideologues of socialist realism believed those earlier periods reflected. Jovan Popović wrote in 1947 that “socialist idealism…must permeate the content and form of the work of art, it must be inseparable from the most intimate feelings and thoughts of the artist.…thus work on ideological education is crucial.”68 They sought to create a new yet authentic art for the proletariat of the new socialist society being created.

  • 69 Denegri, Pedesete, 24.

46Its lofty goals aside, the new regime had to accept what it could find in Serbian art after 1944. There was one limited precedent in Serbian painting that lent itself to the new form. “Social painting” provided one potential breeding ground for socialist realism. The social painters of the 1930s had proclaimed their social conscience and chosen themes that they judged close to the people. They painted the lives of the impoverished and the backward and thus became weapons in the hands of the left. Many of them were close to the Communist Party and became Partisan painters during the war. But those were the exceptions. It is reasonable to imagine socialist realism as social art triumphant: the latter fighting the battle for equality and social justice, the former the victorious face of the new order. These painters included Djordje Andrejević Kun and Petar Lubarda, whom critics differentiate by noting that Kun became a true adherent of socialist realism while for Lubarda it was just a passing fancy.69 Other established painters who moved to socialist realism after the war were Marko Čelebonović, Milan Konjović, Nedeljko Gvozdenović, and Milo Milunović. But in spite of their commitment to socialism, the artistic roots of these painters were in prewar “bourgeois” art. Their shortcomings magnified the need for a truly new painter—one raised, trained, and produced fully within the socialist realist school.

  • 70 Milomir Marić, Deca komunizma (Belgrade: Mladost, 1987) 229.
  • 71 Marić, Deca komunizma, 230.
  • 72 Denegri, Pedesete, 27.

47Boža Ilić answered the regime’s prayers. Ilić, a Montenegrin who studied art during the war and was by 1947 a student of Milo Milunović, first exhibited his work in June 1947 at the Fourth ULUS Exhibition in Belgrade, reaching his peak in late 1948 with the painting Sounding the Terrain In New Belgrade. “While other painters,” reports one commentator, “were transformed on the double from the inheritance of past ‘decadent’ times, Boža was in class terms pure crystal ready to become the symbol of the new era.”70 His rapid rise, facilitated by the overwhelming approbation of regime critics and ULUS juries, was matched by his precipitous fall after 1950, when socialist realism was eclipsed by a new order brought by the break with Stalinism. At the height of his popularity, Ilić was promoted by the state and thus resented by his peers. Miodrag Protić is critically compassionate towards Ilić, who, Protić asserts, “took part in the whole operation of planning and establishing the face of the ‘new artist’…allowing some of his personal characteristics to be brought into a plot that he could not fully control…” Others view him as utterly naive: “He had no idea what socialist realism was.…He was saved by Russian films in which all of the Red Army soldiers usually live, and all Germans assuredly die.”71 If Ilić was a somewhat ridiculous figure by the early fifties, he regained some respect later on. Part of the later attraction of Ilić’s work was the argument that he continued to paint “with an internal ardor, satisfying above all his need to paint, without regard for how much his post-socialist realist painting would be included in the problematic development of Serbian art of the past decades, if at all.”72

  • 73 Paul Shoup, Communism and the Yugoslav National Question (New York: Columbia University Press, 196 (...)

48If Agitprop was charged with control of cultural affairs, the single most vitally important cultural question in the new Yugoslavia, the national question, received woefully little attention from the new regime. Now that we can look back in hindsight at Tito’s Yugoslavia, it is evident that communist policy regarding the national question had little but hope to drive it. Policy was purely administrative, while the idea of overcoming or replacing national identity was rooted in abstract dreaming rather than design. What design there was focused on making each of the peoples of the new state more aware of and tolerant of other cultures and eliminating displays of nationalism from cultural dialogue. The figurative centerpiece of Titoist policy regarding national difference was the eventually hackneyed “brotherhood and unity,” which could mean anything and everything. Notably, the first scholarly discussion of communism’s approach to the national question in Yugoslavia focused almost entirely on administration, political history, and Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist theory and practice, with little comment on the nature of Titoist attempts to actually construct some new cultural identity to replace provincial or national identities.73 An excellent recent study concludes that

  • 74 Andrew Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia(...)

throughout most of the 1950s, the authorities tried to make it appear that the centrifugal force of brotherhood and the centripetal force of unity were in equilibrium, but this balance was more apparent than real…even in the cultural sphere the expectation was that some kind of homogenization would eventually occur, even if it was not being forced and even if it did not require the elimination of the national cultures.74

  • 75 The notion that the Yugoslav peoples were really in fact one was never in any way endorsed by the (...)
  • 76 Shoup, Communism and The Yugoslav National Question, 186.

49One doubts that many of Yugoslavia’s communists believed in the true unity of the constituent peoples of the state75—instead, they believed that a historical process would eventually result in the conquest of national feeling by awareness of class interest. In other words, they had internalized the Marxist dogma. Thus Edvard Kardelj, the party ideologist, identified common ownership as the “new factor which creates a socialist community of a new type in which language and national culture become a secondary factor.”76 At most, the Titoists believed that the eradication of economic difference and the crushing of nationalist demagoguery would render national identity irrelevant. At least, they hoped that a sense of mutual tolerance and understanding would develop in their Yugoslavia, a significantly less radical target. Policy, as such, wavered between these two goals—but a “Yugoslav” nation was not part of either orientation.

50Serbs, as a rule, had higher, perhaps even revolutionary, hopes for a real cultural transformation under communism than any other people in Yugoslavia. They had persuasive reasons for this desire. In the interwar period, the Serbian ruling class showed an unfortunate tendency to treat non-Serbian territories and peoples (especially Macedonians, Albanians, and Croats) as conquered peoples or would-be Serbs. During the war, Serbs had suffered for their hubris, becoming victims of the vengefulness and anger of each of the other Yugoslav peoples. Additionally, Serbs in communist Yugoslavia were dispersed among all of the republics, with especially high concentrations in Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina; Montenegro, nationally Montenegrin in the Titoist taxonomy, was nonetheless considered by many Serbs and Montenegrins alike to be a Serbian territory; and many Serbs found it difficult to acquiesce in the existence of a Macedonian republic and nationality (a Titoist construction, but with slightly more distant historical roots). Furthermore, Vojvodina (an autonomous province) and Kosovo-Metohija (“Kosmet” for short until 1963, when it was raised from autonomous region status to become the autonomous province of Kosovo) were now separate-but-part-of Serbia, which further atomized the Serbian community. New cultural norms were expected by most Serbian intellectual and cultural figures to contribute to the safety of their communities outside of Serbia proper.

  • 77 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 132.

51The question was complex—would “safety” demand the eradication of national cultures to be replaced by some supranational identity, or would it suffice to disseminate a spirit of tolerance? As one scholar rightly notes, brotherhood demanded only the latter, while unity implied the former.77 The tension between the two goals informed much Serbian cultural debate in the 1950s, and then provoked conflict with the cultural establishments of the other republics from the 1960s onward. Two frames emerged from the war and the communist revolution in Yugoslavia. For non-Serbs and the party, Serbs were the bourgeois grave-diggers of Yugoslavia, nationalist-hegemonists, oppressors. For Serbs, Serbs were the primary victims of a violent and nationalistic ideology, Ustašism. Both were legitimate interpretations of the recent past, but they could not be brought into harmony with each other.

52The Yugoslav cultural universe would change rapidly and precipitously during the first five postwar years. The socialist-realist regime might have settled in for the long haul except for one unanticipated event: in June 1948, the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) voted to expel Yugoslavia from its ranks. The Tito-Stalin split stimulated quick changes in the nature of communism in Yugoslavia and out. For the international communist movement, the split provoked violent purges in each individual communist party, as “Titoist” heretics were sought out and imprisoned or executed. As Stalinist states attacked Titoism, so Yugoslavia’s leaders attacked Stalinism in their midst, arresting, incarcerating, and killing “cominformists” on the island of Goli Otok and elsewhere. Yugoslavia would enter a three-year period of grave danger, as Stalin and his allies tried economic and peer pressure to bring Tito and his leadership down. After a period in which it tried futilely to demonstrate its devotion to Stalinism, the KPJ resolved instead to legitimate itself by defining a unique path to socialism; it articulated what it believed was a true Marxism, in the form of workers’ self-management. Thereafter, Tito’s Yugoslavia would build its reputation as a maverick communist state, one in which the excesses of Stalinism were eliminated because a truer version of Marxism was being constructed. The pursuit of workers’ self-management would be the centerpiece of this authentic Marxism.

  • 78 “Govor druga Edvarda Kardelja,” in Politika (Belgrade) December 14, 1949, 1–2.
  • 79 Predrag Marković, Beograd izmedju istoka i zapada, 1948–1965 (Belgrade: Službeni list SRJ, 1996) 3 (...)

53Abroad, the term Titoism would come to mean a more democratic communism, one in which personal freedoms were safeguarded, or at least more secure than in Stalinist Eastern Europe. Inside Yugoslavia, the revolution and its leaders became, relatively speaking and for the first time, popular. A broad view of the relationship of the party to culture after the split with Stalin would show that by 1954 a balance had been struck that allowed artistic freedom under the uncertain but relatively benign scrutiny of the party’s Agitprop commission. That balance took several years to develop, however. The Fifth Congress of the KPJ, which met in July 1948, was Stalinist, and there was yet no thought given to a new iteration of Marxism (but then only a month had passed since the expulsion of the Yugoslavs from the Cominform). By December 1949, two events indicated that the party hierarchy was considering loosening the reins on culture. First, Edvard Kardelj spoke at the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts, where he attacked the Soviet norm by which “theoretical positions of the Soviet political leadership automatically become not only the only just ones, but also without discussion required for science the world around.” To counteract that situation, Kardelj said that “we believe that our scholars must be free in their creativity. Precisely because without the borba mišljenja [struggle of opinions] and without scholarly discussion…there is no progress in science nor is there successful struggle against reactionary conceptions and dogmatism in science.”78 The Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the KPJ, also held in December 1949, confirmed the new understanding and emphasized the end of “administrative” controls of cultural life.79

54In spite of formal declarations of openness by party leaders, literary and artistic life in Yugoslavia would continue to be plagued by the fear of state interference. The ideological rethinking that began in 1949/50 forced a reconsideration of Stalinist methods, one of which was the administrative enforcement of socialist realism. The reconsideration provoked two responses in culture by 1952: one, labeled modernist, represented an attempt to establish an autonomous art and literature in the belief that a freely creative man was a natural component of the revolutionary transformation of society; the other, labeled realist, asserted that artistic freedom was critical to both the revolution and the creative act, but that above all art served the revolution. Each group believed that the other was politicized, and the party hierarchy remained convinced that both had hidden agendas (modernism = western decadence; realism = Stalinism). The modernists and realists were both children of the interwar “struggle on the literary left,” which pitted Miroslav Krleža and the Belgrade surrealists against the doctrinaire Stalinists of Djilas and Zogović. The modernists and realists alike were children of the Krleža faction, which stood against socialist realism, but the modernist approach was the more radical child.

  • 80 “That for us the rightist, artistic-counter-revolutionary Gerasimovshtina and Zhdanovshtina which (...)

55In October 1952, the Third Congress of Writers met in Ljubljana, and in November 1952, the Sixth Congress of the KPJ met in Zagreb. Miroslav Krleža’s headlining and party approved speech to the writers’ congress attacked orthodoxy in culture and served finally to declare an end to the rigors of socialist realism.80 At the Sixth Congress of the KPJ, Tito pronounced his support for the borba mišljenja. The borba mišljenja was at this point envisioned as something rather limited: in essence, party members would be encouraged to question and test the theoretical positions of other party members. Already at the Third Plenum of the KPJ in June 1951, the notion had been first considered as follows:

  • 81 “(Predlog) Rezolucije o teorijskom radu u KPJ, Treći plenum CK KPJ (Juna 1951),” in Petranović and (...)

The development of new theoretical viewpoints in the KPJ will be accomplished on the basis of discussion and the struggle of ideas. On that foundation, members of the KPJ construct their theoretical views. Members of the KPJ have full right to freely express and discuss, whether verbally or in the party or other press, the theoretical views of individual members of the party, regardless of the function they fulfill, as also the viewpoints of theoreticians in general.81

56Any theoretical contribution by a party member had to be read and discussed within party forums before it be made public. But the proclamation of the opening of the era of the borba mišljenja, accompanied by the renaming of the Communist Party of Jugoslavija as the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Savez komunista Jugoslavije, LCY) served to change the atmosphere of intellectual discourse. The era of socialist realism and party management might have ended, but it remained to be seen whether the overarching demands of partijnost—which were hardly questioned by the above characterization of the borba mišljenja—were also a thing of the past.

THE SIMINOVCI IN THE NEW YUGOSLAVIA

57Simina 9a is described today as having been an original source of opposition to the Tito regime, a commune of sorts in which the free exchange of ideas was the only fixed principle. The siminovci had to work within the constraints of the new political and cultural constellation, which was challenging to say the least. With the exception of Ćosić, they had yet to achieve any place inside or outside the new order. While their political and cultural values conflicted, the group was linked, as members of a distinctive generation. Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz explained:

  • 82 Borislav Mihajlović, Književni razgovori: Izabrane kritike (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 19 (...)

Our generation was young, I dare say extremely young, although I am aware that each generation has the custom, the need, the reason, and the compulsion to think that it is exceptional. The arguments for the youthfulness of that generation are strong, to my mind, tragically strong. Whether we wanted to or not, we had to be young during three leap years: 1941, 1944, and 1948.…We saw death early, and it saw us early too, whether through the sights of a gun, the sheet-music pattern of the barbed wire of a prison camp, or beneath the non-Persian carpet of bombs. Astonished, we saw with the eyes of a child the death of one state, and many of us rightfully participated in the first birthday of another with the strange sensation of early fatherhood. Life poured into our quivering and inexperienced hand a full glass, a glass full to the top with the hard liquor of all of [life’s] extremes.82

58Mihiz has described their variety, even as a “generation”:

  • 83 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 142.

We young people of Simina 9a were of varying convictions, from a communism accepted along with the threat of death and wartime exploits, through compromising servility, spontaneous youthful anarchism, liberal democracy, sceptical and precocious conservatism, to open and cynical reaction, but we never kidded ourselves about the lasting nature and momentousness of change.83

  • 84 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.
  • 85 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 17.
  • 86 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 20; Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.

59Popović acknowledged that the “new power” was a problem for many of them: “the acceptance or misunderstanding of the newly established political situation was one perhaps complicated problem that we put off solving, but socialism as hope remained. That hope long stood on the horizon.”84 Popović described his own “youthful” leftism as “an impulse for justice, …a constant preparedness for rebellion, the readiness to make one’s contribution, the subordination of one’s personal ambition…”85 Whether they were enemies of the new order, true and hopeful socialists, or everything under the sun, the dynamism of their early years together was provided, Ćosić would later write, by “the fierceness of our disagreements regarding morals and ideas.” Ćosić clearly served as the lightning rod. Popović: “Dobrica found in Simina 9a…people ready to call a spade a spade…we saw in Dobrica a person who, if he did not know the road to [socialism], knew it better than we did.”86 This is a picture of youth committed to a changed world, but who retained an ability to question the bombast of the new order.

  • 87 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 53; Ćosić, Mića Popović, 28.
  • 88 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 20.
  • 89 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.

60Popović has characterized Simina 9a as a “house of heretics,” while Ćosić reports that he periodically kept a record of their interaction under the title “People Without Compass.”87 These are two different metaphors: a heretic does not usually lack direction, and a wayward soul may very well end up a true believer. Ćosić spoke from his high position as a dedicated communist, Popović from the street, where nothing was obvious. It is clear from all the reminiscences that Ćosić really did stand alone even as he was part of the group. What for Ćosić were then ideological enemies were free-thinkers to Popović and Mihiz. Ćosić’s explanation for their friendship: “Not even addicted individualists could be alone, and neither could enemies of the new power be enemies on their own.”88 But Ćosić’s characterization of the group as “enemies of the new power” was probably wrong. Popović, in any case, was far less categorical. For him, the young people of Simina 9a were “different, because they were of different origins, education, and eloquence, but all wished sincerely and with their entire being to find their place in socialism.”89

  • 90 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 30.

61In the beginning, the siminovci were linked by little except their address, their friendship, and their nonconformism (with the exception of Ćosić, a true insider). Their starting points are illustrative: Ćosić filled a clearly defined role in the early years of communist Yugoslavia, whereas Mihiz and Popović struggled to find any role. Their insecurity became a fabled part of their public biography. Mihiz and Popović later proudly related early run-ins with Radovan Zogović, who still symbolizes the rigidity of the early Tito regime. The encounters were almost meaningless to Zogović. Popović faced him in the winter of 1944/45, when he was sent to Belgrade to take part in a seminar on painting in the new socialist state—he looked forward to it as a way of going to Serbia’s capital. Zogović delivered the main presentation, “very explicitly and directly describ[ing] how the new socialist painting should look in the new socialist era which had begun.”90 Zogović intimidated the audience, which included some painters of repute, but when the moderator more or less begged for a response, only Popović stood. He asked why a poet was lecturing painters about art. Zogović responded “threateningly”: Do you having anything to add? To which Popović remembers saying,

I did, and said that his directives on how we should paint looked very simple: we should transfer, as is, from Signal (the magazine of the Third Reich) the solution of German war artists and merely change the hats—in place of the helmet with the swastika, we should put a cap with the five-pointed star!

  • 91 Aleksa Čelebonović, “Razgovori,” from the catalog Mića Popović: Slike i crteži (Belgrade: Umetničk (...)
  • 92 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 170.
  • 93 Marić, Deca komunizma, 215.

62His encounter with Zogović has been cited since as evidence that he was a warrior for Truth at this early date, but that attribution must be understood in the context in which it was offered, in the 1980s, when “truth” had become a rallying cry in opposition to Titoism, which by then had become the bete noire of the Serbian intelligentsia. In fact, Popović himself recalled that he “had no concept of pragmatism at that time, so I reacted as I did.”91 Not heroic, but naive. Mihiz also claimed to have earned his stripes via a flare-up with Zogović. On one occasion, after signing up for classes at Belgrade University in 1945, Mihiz attended a poetry reading. Zogović read, while his prewar antagonist, Miroslav Krleža, sat in the audience. Mihiz relates the story in his memoirs with the benefit of hindsight, which undoubtedly sharpened the description: as Mihiz waited for Zogović to finish the reading in the overstuffed lecture hall in the Law Faculty, he paid closer attention to Krleža’s clapping hands than Zogović’s poetry. When the reader finished his recitation, Mihiz spoke first: “Why is Miroslav Krleža applauding the poetry of Radovan Zogović?.…Does Radovan Zogović actually think that Miroslav Krleža has changed his considered opinion of his verses, or was he brought here by fear and sycophancy?”92 (While Mihiz reports that Krleža slunk out of the room following his question, Zogović remembers immediately and supportively pronouncing Krleža “always in the front lines of our party, and he will stay there.”93) Like Popović, Mihiz condemned the hypocrisy that drove the new order, although spite probably drove him as much as the search for an honest communist.

  • 94 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 42.

63Then, in 1946 and 1947, two pairs of siminovci, Mihiz and Vojislav Djurić, and Mića Popović and Petar Omčikus, decided to take part in “work actions”—the semi-mandatory postwar youth phenomena in which young communists would travel to a distant part of the country to work on a rebuilding project. A large part of the working day consisted of ideological education, as brigades were divided into small groups led by a trustworthy interpreter of the new dogma. Mihiz was already labeled an “anarcho-liberal” for his actions at the Zogović reading, but he had also tired of the cloistered climate of Simina 9a and wished to “act.” He wound up working with Djurić in the Brčko-Banovići youth brigade, from which he was quickly evicted thanks to his inability to conform. Mihiz’s education continued following his expulsion from the work brigade in 1946. Having accompanied Popović and several other young painters on a summer-long excursion to Zadar in 1947, where he himself painted a little (Popović remarked that Mihiz’s painting was “much more modern…amateurs, it seems, always dare to do more and go farther than professionals”94), he returned to Belgrade and published a book of poetry. Only one poem, entitled “In Which Direction,” has lasted, if only thanks to the memory of Mihiz and those who have read his memoirs. Its theme was the sycophancy of Yugoslavia’s cultural elite, and the damage that it did to more enduring values. Mihiz bemoaned the fact that under the new order Miloš Crnjanski must “steal away on tired legs,” as “newcomers rip out and plant anew,” while “drinking the wine of novelty.” He also took shots at current favorites like Gustav Krklec and Desanka Maksimović. The poem ended with a plea for honesty:

  • 95 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 244–45.

A new song is sought
but the old sincerity is desperately needed.
The truth like a flag waving on high,
and poetry on the battlefield.95

  • 96 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 247.
  • 97 Lazar Trifunović labeled them “communards”; Lazar Trifunović, Slikarstvo Miće Popovića (Belgrade: (...)
  • 98 Denegri, Pedesete, 32.
  • 99 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 41.
  • 100 “The lack of books on…modern painting, which could have served as some sort of source of informati (...)
  • 101 See Ćosić, Mića Popović, 38–39.

64This poem precipitated Mihiz’s final encounter with Zogović, which ended quietly when Milan Bogdanović convinced Zogović not to make too much fuss over such a small-fry.96 Mihiz continued his studies in Yugoslav literatures at the University of Belgrade, where he would graduate in 1949 with a thesis on the nineteenth-century Serbian poet Branko Radičević. He then found a paying job. Mića Popović’s rise to prominence began with his outing to Zadar with several other young painters in the spring and early summer of 1947. The Zadar group has achieved a mythical status. The myth holds that the Zadar “communards” fled to the coast to escape oppressive socialist realism.97 One critic asserts that “the firm aspiration of these young artists [was] to resist the educational program and other customs that then governed at school.”98 But, Popović says that the reason for their flight was simpler and less political—studying under Ivan Tabaković, there was a lack of space in the studio, in which were crammed students wishing to catch up on lost time. “We pressed each other, looked over each other’s shoulders to see the model,” said Popović. “And there were not enough models. We sketched plaster figures. Tabaković brought a skeleton to class.”99 Such was not unusual. One writer records that “used bookstores were constantly besieged by painters and lovers of painting, in the hope that some prewar owner would offer a book on art, whichever art, whatever sort of book; private connections were activated just so one could find these art books…”100 The situation was so bad that Popović and Omčikus stole a painting of King Aleksandar from the Academy of Fine Arts. Popović painted “Belgrade” over the original and used half of the proceeds of its sale, totalling 20,000 dinars, to fund the printing of Mihiz’s first book of criticism, Essays (Ogledi).101 Tabaković has also left testimony to modest deprivation, in his diary from 1945:

  • 102 Ivan Tabaković, “Moj dnevnik (II),” in Književnost (Belgrade) v. 9/10, 1993, 995, 996, 1002, 1003– (...)

It’s very hot.…All stand, we do not have space for work, and it does not look like we will get it. I do not know how it will work in the fall.…I visited Milunović. He complains that he does not have money for materials.…I went to the Academy to get a small packet of paints, which Borislav Bogdanović sent from New York…102

65With Tabaković’s blessing, several members of his studio left for the coast, away from the restricted space of the Academy, which, like all Belgrade schools had an enormous influx of students after the war.

  • 103 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 27.
  • 104 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 27.

66Popović and Bata Mihailović picked Zadar to serve as the scene of their commune, which included a number of highly talented women. They established themselves in Zadar in May 1947: Popović, Mihailović, Petar Omčikus, Mileta Andrejević, Vera Božičković (who would marry Popović in 1949), Kosara Bokšan, Ljubinka Jovanović, and the omnipresent Mihiz. The group worked freely, in nature, and made no attempt to follow the dictates of socialist realism. Trifunović has attributed to the Zadar group a definite aesthetic with two subversive elements: they saw ‘nature as inspiration, and realism as the painter’s relationship to it—the first was directed against artificial themes, the other against a politicized aesthetic,” the two main components of socialist realism.103 The Zadar group maintained the continuity of Serbian painting “when the older generation in large part gave in to compromise, changed their thematics, and also began to alter their method of painting, thus preparing their artistic suicide.”104 Purposefully or not, the Zadar group lives in Serbian memory as the first successful attempt to break the shackles of regime-sponsored artistic norms. After four months in Zadar, the communards returned to Belgrade. Soon thereafter, with word of their intransigence having reached their teachers, the Academy of Fine Arts banished them. All but Popović were finally allowed to continue, but as the perceived ringleader of the group, he never was allowed to return. The Tito–Stalin split would eventually soften the regime’s attitude towards such challenges as Popović’s, but that transition was still two or three years off.

  • 105 “Zapisnik sastanka CK SKOJ-a održanog 24. aprila 1945.,” in Petar Kačavenda, ed., Kongresi, konfer (...)

67Whereas Mihiz and Popović occasionally annoyed people like Zogović, Dobrica Ćosić worked among them as a servant of the new order. He began modestly, a Partisan from day one, fighting during the war in his home region. He did not know who Tito was, except as an abstract authority in the party, until 1943. The nickname he chose in early 1943—Gedža—proclaimed his peasant origins: it is a pejorative term for peasant—“boor” or “hick”—and he would sign his articles with it and continue to be known by it in party circles. In spring 1943, he was the political commissar of his unit and a member of the Kruševac District Committee of the Communist Party of Serbia (Komunistička partija Srbije, KPS). By the fall, he had been appointed secretary of the District Commissariat for the Morava Valley. His first two written contributions to the cause came in 1943. One, in Glas (The Voice), the organ of the National Liberation Front of Serbia, dealt with the role of the Serbian youth in the revolution. The other concerned the murder of a young man by the Četniks; it was entitled “From the Empire of the Dagger,” and published in Mladi borac, the newspaper that Ćosić would co-edit after April 1944. As of April 1945, he was assigned to the Agitprop commission for the Communist Youth, with Jovan Marjanović, whose fate and his would entwine again in changed circumstances twentythree years later.105 He continued to edit Mladi borac until 1948, when he moved to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Serbia, assigned to its Agitprop commission. He was also the people’s representative for his home district of Trstenik after the war.

68After the war, Ćosić threw himself into his work as a communist intellectual on several levels: in his literary work, as a party worker, and as a party ideologue. On the most fundamental level, as a member of Serbian Agitprop, Ćosić relates that he travelled constantly through Serbia, giving lectures on cultural renewal and monitoring the work of cultural institutions: publishers, book stores, theaters, museums, music associations, cinemas, and amateur groups of all sorts. His work focused on the construction of a network of local cultural organizations, the creation of a strong and well-indoctrinated core of communists in the villages, and giving direction to the type of cultural phenomena that were then acceptable. But in spite of all of his busywork for the party, it is clear from his own and others’ reminiscences that Ćosić wanted to be a Writer, that this was an image that appealed to him.

69The siminovci came of age in Yugoslavia as the communist revolution defined and then redefined the state, its cultures, its peoples, and its position in the world according to changing political realities in the communist bloc. In the 1950s, they would affirm themselves in their chosen fields, some more successfully than others. At all times, their successes and failures would be qualified by the prevailing ideological winds, as briefly elucidated in this chapter. Ćosić, Mihiz, and Popović worked in different fields, with different expectations of the new order and different conceptions of Serbia and Yugoslavia’s place in the new postwar world. Through the 1950s, they would however continue to reward the promise of their namesake, Sima Nešić, as they cast about for defensible values in a world that was highly politicized. This is even true of Ćosić, the ultimate insider in Tito’s Yugoslavia. Their search would send them to all corners of society and the world: from Serbian village to the most cosmopolitan city in the world, Paris.

Notes

1 Svetlana Velmar-Janković, “Sima Street,” in Radmila J. Gorup and Nadežda Obradović, The Prince of Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Short Stories (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998) 84–90. “Sima Street” was originally published as one chapter of Velmar-Janković’s awardwinning Dorčol.

2 Velmar-Janković, “Sima Street,” 84–85.

3 Books in English that cover aspects of Serbian society during the war include Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: The Chetniks (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975) and War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); Walter R. Roberts, Tito, Mihailović, and the Allies, 1941–1945 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987); Wayne Vucinich, ed., Contemporary Yugoslavia (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969); Milovan Djilas, Wartime (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977); Dimitrije Djordjević, Scars and Memory: Four Lives in One Lifetime (Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1997).

4 Dobrica Ćosić, Vreme vlasti (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga/Alfa, 1997) 7–8. This account is semi-fictional.

5 Dobrica Ćosić, “Jedno prisećanje za ‘Daleko je sunce,” afterword to Dobrica Ćosić, Daleko je sunce (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966) 348.

6 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 9.

7 Ćosić, Vreme vlasti, 8.

8 Djordjević, Scars and Memory, 222.

9 Djordjević, Scars and Memory, 224.

10 Djordjević’s uncle, Branko Popović, was described by the regime as: “University professor. Closest collaborator of Nedić’s minister Jonić. Maintained close links with the notorious Bećarević, officer of the Special Police of the Administration of the City of Belgrade. To that Bećarević, he denounced a great number of free-thinking students in the city.” “Saopštenje vojnog suda prvog korpusa NOVJ o sudjenju ratnim zločincima u Beogradu,” in Politika (Belgrade) November 27, 1944, 1.

11 Marko Ristić, “Smrt fašizmu—sloboda narodu!” in Politička književnost (za ovu Jugoslaviju) 1944–1958 (Zagreb: Naprijed, 1958) 15.

12 Ristić, “Smrt fašizmu—sloboda narodu!,” 15–16.

13 Marko Ristić, “Zajedno su pošli u smrt oni koji su zajedno pošli u zločin,” in Politička književnost, 25.

14 On the Srem Front, see Branko Petranović, Srbija u drugom svetskom ratu, 1939–1945 (Belgrade: Vojnoizdavački i novinski centar, 1992) 645–46.

15 Milo Gligorijević, “Dolazak boljih buntovnika” NIN (Belgrade) June 18, 1989, 30.

16 Milovan Danojlić, Lične stvari: Ogledi o sebi i o drugima (Belgrade: Plato, 2001) 17.

17 Miodrag Pavlović, Drugi dolazak, ili Proslava smaka sveta (Belgrade: Nolit, 2000) 28.

18 Danojlić, Lične stvari, 27.

19 For the term “nonconformists,” see Slavoljub Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu: Razgovori sa Dobricom Ćosićem (Belgrade: Filip Višnjić, 1989) 32. The catalog is part of Dobrica Ćosić, Mića Popović, vreme, prijatelji (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod, 1987). This volume includes the original essay included with the exhibition catalog from Popović’s 1974 “Scenes”show. When that exhibit was banned, the catalog was banned with it.

20 Some of the inhabitants are alive, others deceased. Dobrica Ćosić, the most famous of them, is alive. Mića Popović, Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Živorad Stojković, Pavle Ivić, Vojislav Djurić, and Antonije Isaković (who was not of the core group) have all died in the past several years. Living Siminovci include Dejan Medaković, Mihailo Djurić, Bata Mihailović, and Petar Omčikus.

21 Autobiographical writings include Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Autobiografija—o drugima 2 v. (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod, 1993–95); Dejan Medaković, Efemeris: Hronika jedne porodice (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod, 1992). Extensive interviews include Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, Milo Gligorijević, Odgovor Miće Popovića (Belgrade: Nezavisna izdanja, 1984); Miloš Jevtić, Sa Mićom Popovićem (Gornji Milanovac/Belgrade: Prosveta, 1994); and Miloš Jevtić, Ishodišta Dejana Medakovića (Belgrade: Partenon, 2000). They have written extensively about each other as well: Zoran Gavrić, et al., Mića Popović (London and New York: Alpine Fine Art Collection, Ltd.); Dobrica Ćosić, Mića Popović; Dejan Medaković, Oči u oči (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod, 1997); Mihiz, Autobiografija.

22 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 129.

23 Jevtić, Sa Mićom Popovićem, 27.

24 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 124.

25 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 32.

26 Medaković, Oči u oči, 16.

27 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002; on care packages: Dobrica Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968) (Belgrade: Filip Višnjić, 2000) 20.

28 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 34.

29 Medaković, Oči u oči, 16.

30 “Književno veće mladih,” in Mladost (Belgrade) v. 3, no. 1–2 (January–February 1947) 131–32.

31 Ž. Stojković, “Okolo prvog romana Dobrice Ćosića” in Savremenik (Belgrade) October 1984, 333.

32 Stojković, “Okolo,” 334.

33 Mihiz, Autobiografija v. 1, 152–54; Ćosić, Mića Popović, 25; Stojković, “Okolo,” 333–34.

34 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 151.

35 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 71.

36 Medaković, Oči u oči, 12.

37 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 155–65.

38 But Ćosić’s grandfather Jeftimije determined that it should be recorded that he was actually born on December 29, 1921, to get the boy into and out of the military earlier. Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 13.

39 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 346.

40 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 348.

41 Deklaracije i odluke Velike antifašističke narodno-oslobodilačke skupštine Srbije (Belgrade: Glas jedinstvenog NO Fronta Srbije, 1944) 9.

42 Aleksandar Ranković, Politički položaj Srbije i zadaci Velike antifašističke skupštine narodnog oslobodjenja (Belgrade: Glas jedinstvenog NO fronta Srbije, 1944) 9.

43 It was one of twelve departments established within the central committee; see Carol Lilly, Power and Persuasion: Communist Agitation and Propaganda in Yugoslavia, 1944–1953 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 2001), which is an excellent study of Agitprop in Yugoslavia, and the only one in English. See also “Odluka CK KPJ o organizacionim pitanjima,” in Branko Petranović and Momčilo Zečević, eds., Jugoslavija, 1918–1984: Zbirka dokumenata (Belgrade: Rad, 1985) 638. Ljubodrag Dimić, Agitprop kultura: Agitpropovska faza kulturne politike u Srbiji, 1945–1952 (Belgrade: Rad, 1988) 36.

44 Milovan Djilas, Rise and Fall (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983).

45 Zogović, for instance, published an article entitled “For Sword and For Pen” which exceeded Ristić’s in its call for a reckoning with collaborationist writers. Radovan Zogović, “Za mač i za pero,” which appeared in Borba on December 1, 1944, in Radovan Zogović, Na poprištu (Belgrade: Kultura, 1947) 109–13. The best brief English language discussion of this debate is Ivo Banac, With Stalin against Tito: Cominformist Splits in Yugoslav Communism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988) 71–74.

46 As Carol Lilly has noted, Zogović’s “invariably acrid and uncompromising statements were clearly at odds with the more moderate cultural line of the party as a whole…” Lilly, Power and Persuasion, 65.

47 On the zadruga, see Ljubinka Trgovčević, Istorija srpske književne zadruge (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1992).

48 The directorate included the already deceased Stefanović, plus Dragutin Kostić, Todor Manojlović, Jeremija Stanojević, Mladen St. Djuričić, Borivoje Jevtić, and Milan Terić.

49 Djura Gavela, Srpska književna zadruga pod okupacijom (Belgrade: Planeta, 1945) 45; Trgovčević, Istorija, 106–107. 50

50 “Poziv književnicima,” in Politika (Belgrade) December 31, 1944, 7; “Osnovano je udruženje književnika u Beogradu,” in Politika (Belgrade) January 1, 1945, 4.

51 The first membership list of the UKS only lists fifty-one. All of these figures come from Radovan Popović, Pisci u službi naroda: Hronika književnog života u Srbiji, 1944–1975 (Belgrade: Politika, 1991) 12, 20–21.

52 Predrag Palavestra, Posleratna srpska književnost, 1945–1970 (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1972) 29. See also Stanko Lasić, Sukob na književnoj levici (Zagreb: Liber, 1970) 49.

53 Radovan Zogović, “O našoj književnosti, njenom položaju i njenim zadacima danas,” in Zogović, Na poprištu, 190.

54 Leonid Heller, “A World of Prettiness: Socialist Realism and Its Aesthetic Categories,” in Thomas Lahusen and Evgeny Dobrenko, eds., Socialist Realism Without Shores (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997) 53.

55 Ratko Peković, Ni rat, ni mir: Panorama književnih polemika, 1945–65 (Belgrade: Filip Višnjić, 1986) 48–49.

56 Zogović, “O našoj književnosti, njenom položaju i njenim zadacima danas,” 201–202.

57 Ješa Denegri, Pedesete: Teme srpske umetnosti (1950–1960) (Novi Sad: Svetovi, 1993) 21.

58 Radovan Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” in Zogović, Na poprištu, 247–70.

59 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 249.

60 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 250–51.

61 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 261.

62 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 262.

63 “New realism” was the term that the Yugoslavs used for “socialist realism.”

64 Zogović, “Njegoševa poema o borbi i slobodi,” 266.

65 Quoted by Dragoslav Djordjević, “Socijalistički realizam,” in 1929–1950: Nadrealizam, socijalna umetnost, Muzej savremene umetnosti (Belgrade) April–June 1969, 70.

66 Oto Bihalji Merin, writing in 1949, and quoted in Lazar Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 1900–1950 (Belgrade: Nolit, 1973) 251.

67 Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 252.

68 Jovan Popović, quoted in Trifunović, Srpsko slikarstvo, 253.

69 Denegri, Pedesete, 24.

70 Milomir Marić, Deca komunizma (Belgrade: Mladost, 1987) 229.

71 Marić, Deca komunizma, 230.

72 Denegri, Pedesete, 27.

73 Paul Shoup, Communism and the Yugoslav National Question (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968)

74 Andrew Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998) 132.

75 The notion that the Yugoslav peoples were really in fact one was never in any way endorsed by the Yugoslav ideologists.

76 Shoup, Communism and The Yugoslav National Question, 186.

77 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 132.

78 “Govor druga Edvarda Kardelja,” in Politika (Belgrade) December 14, 1949, 1–2.

79 Predrag Marković, Beograd izmedju istoka i zapada, 1948–1965 (Belgrade: Službeni list SRJ, 1996) 325–26.

80 “That for us the rightist, artistic-counter-revolutionary Gerasimovshtina and Zhdanovshtina which uses the idealistic theory of comprehension of Todor Pavlov to that end, cannot be of use, is beyond all doubt.” Miroslav Krleža, “Govor na kongresu književnika u Ljubljani,” in Miroslav Krleža, Eseji, v. 6, in Sabrana djela Miroslava Krleže (Zagreb: Zora, 1967) v. 24, 57. Djilas claims the party approved Krleža’s speech: Djilas, Rise and Fall, 291.

81 “(Predlog) Rezolucije o teorijskom radu u KPJ, Treći plenum CK KPJ (Juna 1951),” in Petranović and Zečević, Jugoslavija, 830.

82 Borislav Mihajlović, Književni razgovori: Izabrane kritike (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1971) 5.

83 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 142.

84 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.

85 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 17.

86 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 20; Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.

87 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 53; Ćosić, Mića Popović, 28.

88 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 20.

89 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 49.

90 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 30.

91 Aleksa Čelebonović, “Razgovori,” from the catalog Mića Popović: Slike i crteži (Belgrade: Umetnički pavilijon Cvijeta Zuzorića, November 23–December 16, 1979). This interview is not paginated.

92 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 170.

93 Marić, Deca komunizma, 215.

94 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 42.

95 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 244–45.

96 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 1, 247.

97 Lazar Trifunović labeled them “communards”; Lazar Trifunović, Slikarstvo Miće Popovića (Belgrade: SANU, 1983) 21.

98 Denegri, Pedesete, 32.

99 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 41.

100 “The lack of books on…modern painting, which could have served as some sort of source of information about that art, was felt not only in painters’ ateliers, but also in art schools and libraries.” Pavle Ugrinov, Tople pedesete (Belgrade: Nolit, 1990), 34. Ugrinov reports that he himself stole a series of art books from the personal library of a lawyer who fled Ugrinov’s Partisan unit in Novi Sad in 1944. By the end of the war he had been able to hold on to just one of the volumes, that on modern art, which “inspired me almost daily” (Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 39).

101 See Ćosić, Mića Popović, 38–39.

102 Ivan Tabaković, “Moj dnevnik (II),” in Književnost (Belgrade) v. 9/10, 1993, 995, 996, 1002, 1003–4.

103 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 27.

104 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 27.

105 “Zapisnik sastanka CK SKOJ-a održanog 24. aprila 1945.,” in Petar Kačavenda, ed., Kongresi, konferencije i sednice centralnih organa SKOJ-a (1941–1948) (Belgrade: Izdavački centar Komunist, 1984) 15.

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