Page 708 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 708

Dimitrije Djordjević
of war against the Ottomans, issued by King Peter i on 5 (18) October 1912, made Old Serbia, including Kosovo, the priority among the war aims. it referred to the region as:
...the glorious and saddened mother of our Kingdom where lies the historical kernel of the old Serbian state, [its] kings and emperors... and the glorious capitals of the Ne- manjić: Ras of Novi Pazar, Priština, Skoplje, and Prizren Here live our brothers by blood, customs, national con- sciousness, and aspirations.82
Throughout Montenegro echoed Prince Nikola’s ap- peal: There, Over There!
The character of a holy war triggered a kind of national exultation. Young Serbs believed that those who fought in the war personified Miloš Obilić and Marko Kraljević.83 in record time Serbia assembled an army of 350,000 sol- diers.84 Volunteers joined the draftees.85 The decisive bat- tle took place at Kumanovo, on October 23–24. The Ser- bian victory created the slogan which spread through the army: For Kosovo-Kumanovo! The Serbian war plan as- signed the offensive toward Kosovo to the Third army corps. in twelve days Old Serbia with Kosovo was cap- tured. Priština was taken on 9 (22) October, Ras on 13 (26), Prizren on 16 (29). Penetrating from the northwest, the Montenegrin troops entered Peć and liberated Dečani Monastery.
The hasty advancement of the Serbian army was risky. The small cavalry detachment of ninety-seven men which entered Prizren faced some twenty thousand hostile al- banians living in the city, who were joined by a crowd of Turkish deserters from the front. The army under Djavid pasha was bivouacked on the surrounding hills. The Rus- sian consul in Prizren, emilianov, as well as the represen- tatives of some two thousand unarmed Serbs in the city, begged the Serbian commander to withdraw. The major refused: the flag was not to be taken away once it was planted on emperor Dušan’s fortress. instead, he used a trick and ordered ten thousand loaves of bread and two thousand kilograms of meat for the army from local bak- ers and butchers. all of it was supposed to arrive the next morning. But the next day, only two infantry detachments with one cannon arrived. For the entire day they paraded in and out of the city, while a trumpeter repeatedly sound-
82 Stanoje Stanojević, Srpsko-turski rat 1912 godine (Beograd 1928), pp. 82–83.
83 Svetozar Radojčić, “Kosovka devojka” (1969), in Zadužbine Ko- sova, pp. 289–91.
84 Borislav Ratković, “Mobilization of the Serbian army for the First Balkan War, October 1912,” in East European Society and the Balkan Wars, edited by B. Kiraly and D. Djordjević (Boulder, 1987), pp. 146–57; also Prvi Balkanski rat, edited by istorijski institut jNa, i (Beograd 1959), p. 315–23.
85 One of them who was refused permission to join the army be- cause he was registered as deceased on the military list, answered “i was dead for military maneuvers but i am very much alive to avenge Kosovo!” See jaša Tomić, Rat na Kosovu i staroj Srbiji 1912 (Novi Sad 1913), p. 55.
ed his trumpet to give the appearance of a larger force. Four days later, on October 21, the whole Šumadija divi- sion entered Prizren and ended the agony of the calvary vanguard.86
The entire campaign in Kosovo was highly emotional. The poet and diplomat, Milan Rakić, was consul in Priš- tina from 1905 to 1911. Before the visit of the su ltan to Kosovo in 1908, Rakić buried the church bell. Volunteer- ing for the irregular troops, Rakić returned to Priština in 1912, excavated the bell, and hung it on a tree branch. From there he and his fellow soldiers rang the bell.87 The com- mander of the Third army corps, General Boža janković, attended the solemn service held at the place where Prince Lazar and Miloš Obilić were killed in 1389. The Miloš Obi- lić medal was awarded to soldiers and officers for cour- age proved on the battlefield.
Victories obtained in the 1912–1913 Balkan wars echoed among the Yugoslavs in the Habsburg empire. in 1914, Ser- bian national societies and high school teachers organized tours of Kosovo. Visits to the “Holy Land” were mainly scheduled on St. Vitus Day so that people could attend services in the monastery of Gračanica. Visitors collect- ed soil from Kosovo and brought it home. it was during such a tour that graduate students from Novi Sad got the news of the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.88
The Kosovo tradition also deeply influenced the revo- lutionary youth in Bosnia. Miloš Obilić was given the aura of a deity. Gavrilo Princip knew Njegoš’s Mountain Wreath by heart. Bogdan Žerajić, who committed suicide after a failed attempt on the life of the governor of Bosnia, sym- bolized the act of tyrannicide. it was a significant coinci- dence that the assassination of the austrian archduke and heir to the throne occurred on St. Vitus Day.89
The memory of Kosovo surfaced again during World War i. in that war john Reed reported that the Serbs un- derstood very well the meaning of their effort: “The com- mon soldier knows why he is fighting. From adolescence his mother greeted him: Hello, avenger of Kosovo!”90 af- ter victories over the austro-Hungarian army in 1914, the Serbian army was encircled in 1915 by superior austro- Hungarian, German, and Bulgarian forces. it started to withdraw toward Montenegro and Kosovo. at the head of the retreating troops, soldiers carried the sarcophagus
86 Stanoje Stanojević, Srpsko-turski rat, pp. 148–153; jaša Tomić, Rat na Kosovu, pp. 151–53. The father of the present author, a lieuten- ant in the reserve, took part in the adventure. Until the end of his life he recalled his pride in lifting the Serbian flag onto emperor Dušan’s castle in Prizren.
87 “Rakić na Kosovu,” in Zadužbine Kosova, p. 760.
88 Gliša Marković, “Vojvodjanski maturanti na Kosovu 1914 go- dine,” in Godišnjak Matice srpske, Kalendar za 1939 godinu (Novi Sad 1938), pp. 81–112.
89 Vladimir Dedijer, Sarajevo 1914, pp. 390, 423–424.
90 john Reed, The War in Eastern Europe (New York, 1916), cited in Serbo-Croatian translation in Dedijer, Sarajevo 1914, p. 387.

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