Page 383 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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cal themes. a feeling for the general suffering of man took the place that until then had been filled by a feeling for the sufferingofmyownnation...”37
after the turn of the century the youth of Serbia were offered more aggressive outlets for their passions and ide- alism. The return of the Karadjordjević dynasty to the Ser- bian throne in 1903 signaled a new period of independence vis-a-vis austria-Hungary. Within a decade Serbia was at war. in the Balkan Wars of 1912–13 examples of self-sacri- fice were abundant among Serbian soldiers. The realiza- tion that Kosovo could finally be liberated after more than 500 years fired the imaginations and the emotions of young Serbs. Consider the recollections of one of these young patriots as he was told that his unit was heading for Kosovo:
“My God, what awaits us! To see a liberated Kosovo. The words of the commander were like music to us and soothed our souls like a miraculous balsam. The single sound of that word “Kosovo” caused an indescribable excitement. This one word pointed to the black past five centuries. in it exists the whole of our sad past the tragedy of Prince Lazar and the entire Serbian people ... each of us created for him- self a picture of Kosovo while we were still in the cradle. Our mothers lulled us to sleep with the songs of Kosovo, and in our schools our teachers never ceased in their sto- ries of Lazar and Miloš ...When we arrived on Kosovo and the battalions were placed in order, our commander spoke: “Brothers, my children, my sons!” His voice breaks. “This place on which we stand is the graveyard of our glory. We bow to the shadows of fallen ancestors and pray God for the salvation of their souls.” His voice gives out and tears flow in streams down his cheeks and gray beard and fall to the ground. He actually shakes from some kind of inner pain and excitement. The spirits of Lazar, Miloš, and all of the Kosovo martyrs gaze on us. We felt strong and proud, for we are the generation which will realize the centuries- old dream of the whole nation: that we with the sword will regain the freedom that was lost with the sword.”38
When Kosovo was finally liberated in the Balkan Wars, King Peter i Karadjordjević was on the throne. The libera- tion guaranteed that Peter would be remembered by some as the romantic fulfillment of the legacy of Lazar and Miloš:
“He was not an ordinary king. Rather he was the incar- nation of the idea of Great Serbia, the symbol of Serbian liberty and the Serbian epic, the dream of centuries, and the hope of all generations. He was the synthesis of na- tional feelings, the soul of the Serbian people, a gentle balm and solace for those who suffer.”39
Less than two years after the liberation of Kosovo, Gavri- lo Princip waited on the streets of Sarajevo to assassinate the heir to the Habsburg throne. a teenager who knew
37 Ibid., p. 21.
38 P. M., “Prvi na Kosovu”, Vojnički Glasnik, 13, 12 (28 june, 1932),
pp. 186f.
39 Dušan Šijački, ed., Vidovdan: Ilustrovana istorija srpskih rato- va (Belgrade 1926), pp. 4, 54.
The Kosovo Legacy
Njegoš’ “Mountain Wreath” by heart, Princip had certainly been inspired by Njegoš’ characterization of Miloš Obilić astheidealexemplarofthephilosophythatthemurderof a tyrant is no murder. Like other young Bosnians who were reared in the patriarchal society of the South Slav peas- antry, Princip honored the legend of Kosovo. He believed that political assassination could help to restore the liberty lost on that Serbian field five centuries earlier.40 in essence, Princip was but one more example of Cvijić Dinaric per- sonality:
“Dinaric man burns from a desire to avenge Kosovo where he lost his independence, and to restore the old Ser- bian empire, about which he constantly dreams, even in the most difficult times when anyone else would despair ... He considers himself chosen by God to carry out the na- tional mission. He expresses these eternal thoughts in songs and sayings ... He returns to them at every opportunity ... every Dinaric peasant considers the national heroes as his own ancestors ... in his thoughts he participates in their great deeds and in their immeasurable suffering ... He knows not only the names of the Kosovo heroes but also what kind of person each one was and what were his vir- tues and faults. There are even regions in which the people feel the wounds of the Kosovo heroes. For the Dinaric man to kill many Turks means not only to avenge his ancestors but also to ease their pains which he himself feels.”41
This was the spirit and dedication which motivated hun- dreds of thousands of Serbs to untold sacrifice during the tragic years of World War i. During that war, Serbia be- came the “darling” of both the english and French public which interpreted her determination to fight and secure her freedom as an expression of the Kosovo spirit. in 1916 a nationwide tribute to Serbia was arranged in Britain to celebrate the anniversary of Kosovo. information about Serbia was disseminated throughout the country. a shop opened in London in order to sell literature about Serbia, which British publishing houses had printed in tens of thousands of copies. Posters created from a Punch cartoon, “Heroic Serbia,” were displayed conspicuously throughout the country. Schools and churches arranged special lec- tures and services in commemoration of the Serbian holi- day. Cinemas showed films about Serbia, and the Serbian national anthem was played in some theaters. The english press publicized all the activities with more than 400 arti- cles and news items.42
R.W. Seton-Watson, who helped organize the celebra- tion, prepared an address on Serbia for the schools of Great Britain. entitled Serbia: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, the address was read aloud in whole or in part in almost
40 Cf. Vladimir Dedijer, The Road to Sarajevo (New York 1966), pp. 235–260. Dedijer discusss the influence of Kosovo on the young Bosnians in his chapter, “The Kosovo Tyrannicide”.
41 jovan Cvijić, Balkansko poluostrvo, pp. 362, 368.
42 “Report on Kosovo Day’s Celebrations”, Kosovo Day (London 1916), pp. 11–25.

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