Page 385 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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torious without its Golgotha. Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia all had their individual Golgothas, but it was only the trag- edy at Marseilles which represented the ultimate sacrifice. There alexander became the first martyr for the Yugoslav idea, and resurrection would come with a strong and uni- fied Yugoslavia.51
1939 was the last year in which the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo was widely celebrated. The 550th anniver- sary came at a time when the clouds of war in europe again loomed on the horizon. The commission for the celebra- tion of the anniversary announced to all Yugoslavs that the Kosovo ethic was, indeed, a Yugoslav ethic:
“Kosovo gave us Vidovdan from whose faith, ethic, and symbols we remained alive ... until this very day. The Vi- dovdan mystique was that magical lever for all our unprec- edented undertakings and accomplishments in history. it was the foundation of our national, spiritual image, our heroism, and our Christian view of man. it was the greatest and most difficult test of the Serbian people, and it remained as an example not only to them but to all Yugoslavs ... Vi- dovdan is the torch of our spirit which is stronger than all other factors in anything we do. it is our deepest sign and warning not to forget our national duties and honor, but to be like those perfect soldiers who fell alongside the righ- teous prince on Kosovo for his unified nation, its happy future and honor, and for the empire of eternal national ideas.”52
The Serbian organization, “National Defense,” desig- nated Vidovdan as “a holiday of thanksgiving to known and unknown heroes, as a day of commemoration and remem- brance for our obligations to king and country, and as a holiday for the cult of freedom and the indivisibility of the Yugoslav spirit, land, people, and state.”53 One member of this organization encouraged an even broader interpreta- tion of the power of Kosovo: “Kosovo is a pan-Slavic, uni- versal idea. it can be accepted only by rejecting all selfish concerns, prejudices, and all national pretensions.”54 Yugo- slavs everywhere were reminded that Kosovo belonged to them all. To the Croats, many of whom were less than en- thusiastic about celebrating a Serbian holiday, the message was direct:
“Prince Lazar integrated the national and religious ide- als. The Kosovo myth gave the Serbian people strength and created a collective consciousness. This should be a lesson to the Croatian public. On the crossroads of the world, where so many interests are in conflict, collective con- sciousness is necessary. Without it there is no strength, no self-sacrifice, no future.”55
in Slovenia the message was also an appeal to unity:
51 Ibid., p. 2.
52 Vrbaske novine, 10, 1599 (28 june, 1939), p. 1.
53 “Proslava Vidovdana”, Narodna odbrana, XiV (28 june, 1939),
b. 25–27, p. 436.
54 Radojčić, “Tajna Vidovdana”, p. 391.
55 “Hrvati o Kosovu”, Slobodna misao, 17, 24 (2 july, 1939), p. 5.
The Kosovo Legacy
“What does this national holiday mean to us today in these extraordinary circumstances! Nothing less than our national consciousness and our strong desire to remain united, free, and independent.”56
The Serbian people needed no reminder of the impor- tance of Kosovo, but the anniversary in 1939 provided an- other opportunity for reflection. Bishop Nikolaj Velimiro- vić described Kosovo as “our national Golgotha and at the same time our national resurrection.”57 This Christian sym- bolism, so central to the meaning of Kosovo throughout the centuries, was expressed in dozens of commemorative articles:
“Not a single task could be started without first con- sulting Kosovo through the medium of the gusle. Hajduks and uskoks and captains of Cattaro, and Montenegrian rul- ers and leaders of national uprising—all of them before everything else communed first with the miraculous Vi- dovdan wafer.”58
a 1939 article in Slobodna Misao (Free Thought), enti- tled “The Kosovo Religion” demonstrated that Kosovo could even be exploited to test the loyalty of individuals to the unitarist position of the Serbian monarchy. Using the examples of Stojan Protić and Velja Vukićević, the author of the article suggested that some political leaders in the postwar period followed ideas which were not inspired by the religion of Kosovo.59 apparently, there were “many ways to interpret this old “religion.”
it is clear today that the appeals for unity in 1939 were eleventh hour alarms. europe was at war again three months after the anniversary of Kosovo. in less than two years the fragile unity of Yugoslavia would be destroyed. On March 25, 1941 representatives of the Yugoslav government signed the Tripartite Pact. Widespread dissatisfaction with this capitulation to the axis powers led two days later to a coup d’état in Belgrade. Patriarch Gavrilo of the Serbian Church saw the capitulation as a betrayal of the Kosovo ethic. in an address on Belgrade radio he reminded his people that La- zar had faced the enemy and accepted his fate for the sake of Serbia. He insisted that the contemporary situation de- manded the same sacrifice:
“Before our nation in these days the question of our fate again presents itself. This morning at dawn the question received its answer. We chose the heavenly kingdom—the kingdom of truth, justice, national strength, and freedom. That eternal ideal is carried in the hearts of all Serbs, pre- served in the shrines of our churches, and written on our banners...”60
56 “Slovenački listovi povodom vidovdanske proslave”, Politika 36, 11160 (28 june, 1939), p. 10.
57 Nikolaj Velimirović, “Kosovo”, Narodna odbrana, XiV, No 25– 27 (28 june, 1939), p. 388.
58 Uroš M. Bjelić, “Vidovdanski kult u programu narodne odbra- ne”, Narodna odbrana, XV, No 28 (16 june, 1939), p. 433.
59 “Kosovska religija”, Slobodna Misao, 18, 24 (2 july, 1939), pp. 1f.
60 D. Stranjaković, “Vidovdan”, Glasnik (službeni list Srpske Pra- voslavne Crkve), 6 (1953), p. 16.

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