Saturday, November 14, 2015

The forgotten alliance: Serbia's Great War monument to France / "France 24" October 5, 2015

France 24
October 5, 2015

© Dušan T. Bataković Collection | A poster for the "Serbian Day" organised
in France on June 25, 1916, showing French and Serbian soldiers side by side.

On October 5, 1915, French troops landed in Salonika aiming to open a new front in the Great War and rescue their Serbian allies. A century later, few remember the close friendship that once bound the two nations together.

Facing Belgrade’s iconic fortress, on the confluence of the Danube and the River Sava, an imposing monument bears witness to this friendship. The statue of a defiant female figure, with stern gaze and clenched fists, is reminiscent of France’s national symbol Marianne. Beneath it lie the words, “Let us love France as she loved us”.

The Monument of Gratitude to France was inaugurated in the 1930s in Belgrade, then the capital of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, generally referred to as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was designed as a tribute to France for its help during World War I.

“It is a very important place for Serbians, both historically and symbolically,” says historian Stanislav Stretenovic, of the Belgrade-based Institute of Contemporary History. “As far as I know, it is the world’s only monument dedicated to a foreign country, and not just a leader or a people.”

The bond between France and the young Serbian nation was one of the defining characteristics of World War I. It is also one of the least known chapters in the history of the war.

The Monument of Gratitude to France is located in Belgrade's Kalemegdan Park,
facing the Serbian capital's iconic fortress. © Stéphanie Trouillard, FRANCE 24
It was designed by prominent Yugoslav sculptor Ivan Mestrovic in Zagreb,
in modern-day Croatia, and features nine Serbian soldiers alongside
nine Frenchmen. © Stéphanie Trouillard, FRANCE 24
Historian Stanislas Stretenovic says the statue evokes France's national symbol Marianne and is designed to remind "the Yugoslav" people of their debt towards their French protector. © Stéphanie Trouillard, FRANCE 24
The Serbian warrior-peasant

On October 5, 1915, French and British troops landed in the Greek port of Salonika, today’s Thessaloniki, hoping to open a new front after the failure of the Gallipoli campaign. The plan was to help the Serbian army, which, as a result of the complex web of European alliances, had sided with the French, British and Russians against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

But ties between France and Serbia ran deeper. Serbia’s King Peter I, who claimed the throne in 1903, was steeped in French culture from his childhood. “He studied at the Saint-Cyr military academy between 1862 and 1864, and his participation in the Franco-Prussian war [in 1870-71] on the French side helped foster a Francophile mood in the Serbian elite,” says Stretenovic.

The outbreak of the Great War brought Serbia to the attention of the French public, which had previously known little about the small Balkan kingdom that was once under Ottoman rule. French newspapers gave ample coverage to Serbian successes against the German-led Central Powers, particularly the battles of Cer in August 1914 and Kolubara later that year.

“Serbia was portrayed as a valiant martyr,” says the Serbian historian. “The French heaped praise on Serbia’s courageous warrior-peasants, with whom many French soldiers identified.”

On March 26, 1915, a “Serbian day” was organised in schools across France to celebrate the heroism displayed by Serbians. French cities also hosted more than 3,000 Serbian pupils and students during the war, including Stretenovic's own grandfather.

French newspaper "Le Petit Journal" gives ample coverage to the "Serbian Day" organised in support of France's Balkan ally. © Dušan T. Bataković collection.

Rescuing Serbia’s battered army

France started providing material support to its Serbian ally in early 1915, dispatching a team of aviators, navy officials and medical staff to help Serbian forces. “It was the first time the two armies started cooperating and fighting together,” says Stretenovic.

But by the autumn, Peter I’s exhausted army began to collapse, battered by overwhelming odds, repeated enemy offensives and an epidemic of typhoid. Attacked on all fronts, Serbian forces had no other choice but to embark on a gruelling retreat towards the sea, across the snow-capped mountains of Albania and Montenegro. A third of the army died in the process.

Serbia’s debacle convinced French leaders to launch the Salonika mission, which would see 350,000 French and Allied troops fight the Central Powers, thousands of kilometres from home. France’s navy also joined its Italian counterpart in the rescue of stranded Serbian forces along the coast of Albania. Around 140,000 men were evacuated to the Greek island of Corfu starting in January 1916.

French seaman Robert Lefay described the Serbian soldiers’ wretched state in his memoirs: “emaciated, shaggy, hiding little more than skeletons beneath rags worn out by rain, these poor souls formed the most frightful procession one could imagine”.

In time, Serbian forces recovered their strength and returned to the front, fighting alongside French troops in the Salonika campaign. They would have to wait until November 1, 1918, before finally liberating their capital, marching into Belgrade in the army of French General Louis Franchet d’Espèrey.

A monument to universal values

The spirit of Franco-Serbian unity and common hardship was celebrated in the interwar years. “Serbians and French are among the peoples of Europe that suffered the heaviest toll [in World War I]. Serbia lost between a quarter and a third of its population,” says Stretenovic.

On November 11, 1930, exactly 12 years after the armistice, representatives of the two countries met in Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Park to inaugurate the Monument of Gratitude to France. “Glory to our eternal France!” hailed Serbian minister Kosta Kumanudi, quoting French writer Victor Hugo.

The bond between the two countries weakened sharply in the decades after World War II, as Serbia formed the heart of Marshal Tito’s communist Yugoslavia. Stretenovic says the monument to France faded in importance under the country’s communist rulers.

“They didn’t want people to talk about what happened before their arrival,” he says. “They wanted their struggle [against Nazi Germany] to be the sole reference. History started with them.”

A Serbian 10-year-old boy poses in full uniform on May 29, 1916, after completing
the retreat to Albania. © BDIC, Collection casier fer.
Serbian troops board a ship off the coast of Corfu on June 30, 1916.
© BDIC, Collection casier fer.
These Serbian troops, boarding a ship in Corfu on July 8, 1916, are heading
back to the front, where they will join French forces in the Salonika campaign.
© BDIC, Collection casier fer.
The statue briefly made the news again in 1999, during the final stages of Yugoslavia’s bloody breakup. As France took part in NATO strikes against Serbia, activists covered the monument with a large black veil. “A group of former pupils of French schools did this in protest against France’s participation in the campaign,” says Stretenovic. “They felt in some way betrayed.”

While relations between the two countries have since improved, the friendship of a century ago has largely vanished from public memory. Still, the Serbian historian hopes the Belgrade monument will serve as a reminder of this brotherhood of nations.

“Serbians are lucky to have this monument, which refers to the universal values of the French Revolution: liberty, democracy and peace. It is for those values that Serbians fought during World War I,” he says. “The monument is a gateway to the future, to a true reconciliation between Balkan people and between former foes in a prosperous and peaceful Europe”.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"THE SPLENDID SERB" by James Bernard Fagan / "Daily Telegraph - UK" November 10, 1915

Aleksandra's Note: Many thanks to the folks at "Britic - The British Serb Magazine" for finding and sharing this gem. The poem "The Splendid Serb" by James Bernard Fagan, published in the November 10, 1915 issue of the "Daily Telegraph", exactly one century ago, is a special tribute to the Serbians and who they showed themselves to be in the First World War. It is worthy to note that this poem was published shortly before the Serbs began their "Great Retreat" of the winter of 1915/1916, a hard journey that preceded the resurrection of their army and their motherland.

I have made the necessary corrections to the text to correspond with the poem as it was originally written.

The Serbians were indeed splendid and much more, and it is most appropriate to be reminded of that on this Veterans Day 2015.

Aleksandra Rebic
November 11, 2015


By "Britic":

"The Daily Telegraph continues to draw on its heritage with the daily publication of its archive editions from a hundred years ago. The terrible trials of the Great War upon the Serbian people and the eager anticipation of any flicker of any good news in the Balkan theatre of war characterise the British press in this period of heroes.

"The 10 November 1915 edition of the broadsheet carries this rhapsodic verse on page 8:"


“By your old men’s bones on the mountain,
   By the blood of your youth in the plain,
By the tears unshed for your holy dead,
   By the children of your slain –
Ye who fought till no fight availeth,
   O Serbs, ’tis the hour to shield
All that is left of your people -
   The hour to yield!"

Hark! on the hill-winds ringing
   O’er the thundrous drone of war,
From the snowy height of Kara Dagh
   To the valleys of Vardar
The splendid Serb has answered
   From a patriot's soul of flame –
“Better to die in honor
   Than live in shame!”

“It is said.  It is done.  Till we perish
   We fight, and we ask not why,
Back from our blackened homes and fields
   Till we’ve nothing left but the sky,
Till the last last man of the last lone hill
   Shall cry, as death calls his name:
‘Better to die in honor
      Than live in shame!’ "

O world of men and sorrows!
   In words of immortal light
The whole of the art of living,
   The creed of eternal right,
Comes down from the Serbian summit
   For each man’s soul the same:
“Better to die in honor
   Than live in shame!”


Click on the link below to download the whole paper:


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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Преговори ни на чијој земљи / Pregovori ni na čijoj zemlji / [100 GODINA OD VELIKOG RATA] / "Politika" November 8, 2015

Mileta Marković
Objavljeno: 08.11.2015.

Аустроугарска разгледница из 1914. године

Доктор Живко Продановић, Србин из Србобрана у Бачкој, који је у Бечу завршио медицински факултет, у Великом рату био је мобилисан на страни аустроугарске војске. После рата добио је висока српска одликовања, јер је, иако је био припадник 26. ландштурмске пуковније ритера фон Курелеца, српској војсци у два наврата доставио план напада на српске положаје. Како би то могао да учини, фелдмаршалу Адолфу фон Краусу предложио је да се њихови и преговарачи супротне стране састану ни на чијој земљи и уговоре прекид ватре да би сахранили погинуле војнике. Тела су се распадала већ месец дана, па је претила зараза. Када су преговори одобрени, Продановић је Србима доставио драгоцене информације.

– Сведок подвига мог рођака Живка, аустријског официра, био је потпуковник Добросав Миленковић, који је припадао српском 19. пешадијском пуку првог позива и који је пензионисан као дивизијски генерал. Први тајни извештај који је Живко успео да им достави, Добросав је добио од резервног поручника Гојка Даја, који је био на мртвој стражи код глушачке цркве. У њему је писало: „Сутра, а најкасније прексутра, напаст ће вас снагом од четири батаљона (око 4.000 војника), осам топова и двије стројне пушке група бе с фронта села Раденковићи, групе а, це и де ће у исто вријеме само демонстрирати”. Распоред трупа био је уцртан са свим елементима које план напада треба да садржи – каже за „Политику” Лазар Продановић, који живи у Цељу, чији је деда Лазар Живков брат.

Други аустроугарски напад преко Дрине био је крајем септембра 1914. године. Мачков камен прелазио је из руке у руку четири пута. Опремљеније и боље наоружане аустроугарске трупе продрле су у Србију из два правца. Последња тешка борба вођена је 20. септембра 1914. године. У том нападу погинуло је неколико стотина аустроугарских војника, а њихови лешеви остали су крај баре Лањишкаче, ни на чијој земљи. Већ месец дана ширио се неподношљив смрад. Користећи као изговор да би лешеви могли да изазову заразу, Живко Продановић је српској војсци доставио план напада.

Иако се у почетку сумњало у веродостојност извештаја, јер се одмах видело да ју је радио неки војни стручњак, одлични познавалац картографије, што лекар Продановић није могао бити, ипак је достављен војводи Степи Степановићу. Он је одобрио да се преговарачи састану ни на чијој земљи како би се договорили о сахрани погинулих војника.

– Према казивању ондашњег потпуковника Добросава Миленковића, у зору тог 17. октобра на мртвој стражи био је професор београдске гимназије Гојко Ђаја. Машући белим марамицама, споро се крећући између лешева, ка њима су корачала три ландштурм официра. Када је командир мртве страже видео да они желе да преговарају, изашао је из рова. Били су то поручници Резнер, Тишљар и Продановић. Затражили су шест сати примирја да би сахранили своје погинуле војнике. Мој рођак Живко окренуо је леђа Резнеру и Тишљару и српском нареднику понудио цигарете, а дао му план напада – вели наш саговорник.

Продановић је српског мајора, обученог у одело војника да не би привлачио пажњу, понудио цигаретама, али је овај одбио. Када му је Продановић намигнуо, он је узео табакеру у којој је касније пронашао тајни извештај и план напада. Захваљујући њему, на правцу главног непријатељског удара, код села Раденковића, благовремено су биле концентрисане јаче снаге тадашњег потпуковника Миленковића. Напад ландштурмне пуковније је био одбијен, око 200 војника је погинуло, а стотинак је било рањено.

Ратна торбица

У сећањима које је објавио у књизи „Из ратне торбице” Продановић је појаснио како је дошао до скице напада. Дао му ју је капетан Алфред Пајер, командант инжињеријско-пионирског вода, с којим се спријатељио. „Донијет ћу ти нешто што сам јучер припремио. То ме главе може стајати. Ако желиш да помогнемо Србији, нећеш ме одати”, рекао му је Пајер.

Милета Марковић
Oбјављено: 08.11.2015.


Pregovori ni na čijoj zemlji

Austrougarska razglednica iz 1914. godine
Doktor Živko Prodanović, Srbin iz Srbobrana u Bačkoj, koji je u Beču završio medicinski fakultet, u Velikom ratu bio je mobilisan na strani austrougarske vojske. Posle rata dobio je visoka srpska odlikovanja, jer je, iako je bio pripadnik 26. landšturmske pukovnije ritera fon Kureleca, srpskoj vojsci u dva navrata dostavio plan napada na srpske položaje. Kako bi to mogao da učini, feldmaršalu Adolfu fon Krausu predložio je da se njihovi i pregovarači suprotne strane sastanu ni na čijoj zemlji i ugovore prekid vatre da bi sahranili poginule vojnike. Tela su se raspadala već mesec dana, pa je pretila zaraza. Kada su pregovori odobreni, Prodanović je Srbima dostavio dragocene informacije.

– Svedok podviga mog rođaka Živka, austrijskog oficira, bio je potpukovnik Dobrosav Milenković, koji je pripadao srpskom 19. pešadijskom puku prvog poziva i koji je penzionisan kao divizijski general. Prvi tajni izveštaj koji je Živko uspeo da im dostavi, Dobrosav je dobio od rezervnog poručnika Gojka Daja, koji je bio na mrtvoj straži kod glušačke crkve. U njemu je pisalo: „Sutra, a najkasnije preksutra, napast će vas snagom od četiri bataljona (oko 4.000 vojnika), osam topova i dvije strojne puške grupa be s fronta sela Radenkovići, grupe a, ce i de će u isto vrijeme samo demonstrirati”. Raspored trupa bio je ucrtan sa svim elementima koje plan napada treba da sadrži – kaže za „Politiku” Lazar Prodanović, koji živi u Celju, čiji je deda Lazar Živkov brat.

Drugi austrougarski napad preko Drine bio je krajem septembra 1914. godine. Mačkov kamen prelazio je iz ruke u ruku četiri puta. Opremljenije i bolje naoružane austrougarske trupe prodrle su u Srbiju iz dva pravca. Poslednja teška borba vođena je 20. septembra 1914. godine. U tom napadu poginulo je nekoliko stotina austrougarskih vojnika, a njihovi leševi ostali su kraj bare Lanjiškače, ni na čijoj zemlji. Već mesec dana širio se nepodnošljiv smrad. Koristeći kao izgovor da bi leševi mogli da izazovu zarazu, Živko Prodanović je srpskoj vojsci dostavio plan napada.

Lako se u početku sumnjalo u verodostojnost izveštaja, jer se odmah videlo da ju je radio neki vojni stručnjak, odlični poznavalac kartografije, što lekar Prodanović nije mogao biti, ipak je dostavljen vojvodi Stepi Stepanoviću. On je odobrio da se pregovarači sastanu ni na čijoj zemlji kako bi se dogovorili o sahrani poginulih vojnika.

– Prema kazivanju ondašnjeg potpukovnika Dobrosava Milenkovića, u zoru tog 17. oktobra na mrtvoj straži bio je profesor beogradske gimnazije Gojko Đaja. Mašući belim maramicama, sporo se krećući između leševa, ka njima su koračala tri landšturm oficira. Kada je komandir mrtve straže video da oni žele da pregovaraju, izašao je iz rova. Bili su to poručnici Rezner, Tišljar i Prodanović. Zatražili su šest sati primirja da bi sahranili svoje poginule vojnike. Moj rođak Živko okrenuo je leđa Rezneru i Tišljaru i srpskom naredniku ponudio cigarete, a dao mu plan napada – veli naš sagovornik.

Prodanović je srpskog majora, obučenog u odelo vojnika da ne bi privlačio pažnju, ponudio cigaretama, ali je ovaj odbio. Kada mu je Prodanović namignuo, on je uzeo tabakeru u kojoj je kasnije pronašao tajni izveštaj i plan napada. Zahvaljujući njemu, na pravcu glavnog neprijateljskog udara, kod sela Radenkovića, blagovremeno su bile koncentrisane jače snage tadašnjeg potpukovnika Milenkovića. Napad landšturmne pukovnije je bio odbijen, oko 200 vojnika je poginulo, a stotinak je bilo ranjeno.

Ratna torbica

U sećanjima koje je objavio u knjizi „Iz ratne torbice” Prodanović je pojasnio kako je došao do skice napada. Dao mu ju je kapetan Alfred Pajer, komandant inžinjerijsko-pionirskog voda, s kojim se sprijateljio. „Donijet ću ti nešto što sam jučer pripremio. To me glave može stajati. Ako želiš da pomognemo Srbiji, nećeš me odati”, rekao mu je Pajer.

Mileta Marković
Objavljeno: 08.11.2015.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Албанска Голгота 100 година касније” је експедиција која понавља пут српског народа и војске током повлачења 1915. године и на тај начин скромно обележава овај трагичан и величанствен догађај, јединствен у нашој и светској историји. / "Albanska Golgota 100 Godina Kasnije" November 2015

Србија 1914-1915. Највећи војни конфликт до Другог светског рата, Велики рат, почео је нападом Аустроугарске на Краљевину Србију 28. јула 1914. године.
“Албанска Голгота 100 година касније” је експедиција која понавља пут српског народа и војске током повлачења 1915. године и на тај начин скромно обележава овај трагичан и величанствен догађај, јединствен у нашој и светској историји. Њени чланови овим гестом желе да искажу најискреније дивљење и одају почаст легендарним прецима на чијим раменима и данас стојимо.
Ова мирољубива и родољубива експедиција има за главни циљ прелазак преко Проклетија од града Пећи до града Драча, а потом бродом до крајње дестинације острва Крф и Видо, истим путем којим је то учинила српска војска у Првом светском рату. На свом путу, учесници ће користити личну и експедицијску опрему (зимске панталоне и јакне, ципеле, вреће за спавање, простирке…) без било какве логистичке подршке. Они ће морати да носе храну, спаваће у шаторима, топиће снег да добију воду, оријентисаће се помоћу компаса и разговараће са локалним становништвом.
План је да експедиција почне у истом периоду и са истог места као и српска војска 1915. године, односно почетком децембра 2015. из Пећи. Наша рута је најтежа од три главне, и почиње у Пећи на 560м надморске висине и наставља преко Чакора (1.850м, планина Проклетије) уласком у Црну Гору и даље границом до Скадра и напокон Драча. Рута је дуга око 280км, а временски услови ће диктирати напредовање. Процена је да ће ова експедиција трајати између 15 и 30 дана.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at

Sunday, November 8, 2015

SLAVA – what makes Serbs different from other Orthodox / "Serbia Incoming" November 5, 2015

Serbia Incoming
Petar Živić / Serbia Incoming DMC Project Manager
November 5, 2015

„Where there is Slava, there is a Serb“ – Serbian proverb

Serbian Slava table setting. Bite2Satisfaction photo
Majority of Serbs are Christians, and Christianity came very soon after the settling of South Slavs in Balkans. Byzantine missionaries and brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius are considered to be the founders of South Slavic Christianity. It was a very cunning way to introduce Slavs as pagans to the new religion – most of old Slavic gods were implemented in characteristics of Christian saints, and until nowadays we can still find original corelations with ancient Slavic religion.

Serbian Christians are mostly Orthodox Christians, belonging to Serbian Orthodox Church. Along with Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ecumenical Church of Constantinople – Serbian Orthodox Church forms the Council of Orthodox Patriarchates. Thanks to the fact that each nation has a Church of its own, most of the national folklore maintained untouched through the church. Yet, there is one special holiday which differs Serbian Church from others – slava.

Slava is connected to the times of old Slavic religion, when a cult of ancestors was very strong. For Slavs, family and its legacy is one of the holiest things in life; and this custom is highly appreciated even today. In order to maintain this legacy and implement it into Christianity, Serbian archbishop St. Sava canonized this ceremony and formed a unique cultural heritage for Serbs. So, what is slava today?

If you walk into a Serbian home, you will find there an icon depicting a Christian saint. It is believed that this saint is a patron of host’s home and family, and usually is celebrated for generations back. Each Christian saint has his/her day in Orthodox calendary. That very day is the holiest day for the family which celebrates, right after Christmas and Easter. On this day, Serbs are completely dedicated to their family and dearest people.

There are dozens of different manners of celebrating Slava – depending on the region in Serbia – but there are some customs which are the same everywhere: slavski kolač – ceremonial bread which is baked in the night of Slava; žito or koljivo – ceremonial wheat which celebrates the ressurection of Christ and family ancestors; slavska sveća – ceremonial candle which is lit during the whole day of Slava.

The day of Slava is very ceremonious, and usually hosts organize a great feast to celebrate their patron saint, bringing the whole family and friends to the table. The day of Slava usually begins very early in the morning, when family begins the ceremony in the church with holy liturgy followed by cutting and blessing the ceremonial bread and wheat by the priest. Since Orthodox Serbs have several fasts during the year, as well as each Wednesday and Friday, some celebrations may not consist meat and dairy products and we call these celebrations „posna slava“. For these celebrations hosts usually prepare lots of salads, fish stew and roasted fish. On the other hand, „mrsna slava“ traditionally consists of lots of meat (usually roasted pork and/or lamb). Don’t be fooled – mrsna and posna slava are equally tasteful and abundant.

Literally hundreds of saints are celebrated throughout Serbia. Yet, some of the most popular saints are St. Nicholas (December 19), St. George (May 6), St. John the Baptist (January 20), St. Archangel Michael (November 21), St. Sava (January 27), St. Demetrius (November 8)…

Serbs say that you are invited to Slava only once – for the first time. The following times you are already considered invited, and consider yourself obliged to come. You may get a call from your hosts, so he could briefly inform you about the time you would be expected. Should you get invited to one’s Slava – consider yourself very honored, as this means that the host thinks of you as a very dear friend. Now we can introduce you to some of the customs of Slava’s good manners…

It is custom to bring a gift to your host – usually a bottle of red wine, which depicts the blood of Christ, for the male host; a bouquet for the hostess should do the work. It is not obligatory, but you will win the sympathies of all family if you bring a couple of candies for the kids – this way you will show your host your appreciation to the family.


So, you have arrived and the first thing you will say is „SREĆNA SLAVA, DOMAĆINE!“ meaning „HAPPY HOLIDAY, HOST!“ Remember that Serbs are genetically loud, so you can’t be loud enough by wishing him joy on the holy day.  Ritual of greet cannot be skipped, so you will start from your host and greet all the family members. If you are coming to one’s home for the first time, let your host introduce you to the family members. Remember one thing: Serbs love to kiss their friends and we do it THREE TIMES!

Now that you’ve met all the family members you can proceed with Slava rituals. Your hosts (usually hostess) will serve you wheat and red wine on a plate. This is where the fun begins for us if you are not Serb – seldom you will get instructions, and usually we will have a good laugh by following your confusion and next step. Here’s what you have to do (you will thank me later): make the sign of the cross and wish your hosts happy holiday again; take a spoon, cleach from the wheat bowl and taste it (you can put your spoon either to a glass of water, or besides the clean spoons); and then take a sip of the red wine. Now you can feel domestic and relax!

Have in mind that there is a certain order in sitting. Usually the most respected family members are seated in the most respected place, and others follow in hierarchy. The most respected places are always kept either for grandfathers or for godfathers. The best (hence the most respecting) thing you can do is to let your host show you your place at the table. In some families you can still see the oldest customs, such as blessing the feast by the host and/or the elders; so take a good look of it.

Usually the feast begins with abundance of appetizers – dry meat, cheese, salads, pies, ajvar, kajmak, cornbread and many, many sorts of dishes. This is followed by, warm appetizers or soup. In the winter time, both „mrsna“ and „posna“ slava cannot pass without SARMA – sour cabbage rolls filled with minced meat and/or rice. During the spring and summer feasts – sarma is replaced by SARMICE OD ZELJA, made in the same manner; but instead of sour cabbage we use rhubarb. As the main dish hosts usually prepare roasted pork and/or lamb in case of „mrsna“ slava, or assortment of fish (usually cat-fish, trout, carp, pike and other river fish) during the period of fasting. Desserts are always served, and usually this is the perfect timing to send compliments to hostess; as the whole feast is usually made by her. Guests will be offered with coffee or tea, and the host will be somewhat boring with his attention that your glass remains full all the time. Pay attention that it is considered very rude to reject hosts offer.

As for the drink – Serbs LOVE to toast and to be toasted. So with your first glass of drink (or usually with a shot of rakija), you will repeat once more „SREĆNA SLAVA, DOMAĆINE!“ If you are a lyrical soul, you may try to compose a toast of your own and here are some guidelines: may you and your family celebrate Slava for many years / may you have many descendants to carry on your name and Slava / may your Slava bring you and your dearest all the best / may your patron saint (you can even name) protect your home and those in it from all the evil / may we celebrate your Slava even in a greater number next year! In some parts of Serbia, there are even sorts of contests between guests who will perform the best toast.

As mentioned, Slava is a day when family and friends gather and celebrate. This is why Slava is one of the most cheerful holidays in the world. Don’t be shy, join the laughter and cheerful discussions! It is not rare that someone begins to sing, so don’t be afraid to break the ice.

So, now you know it! The winter is coming, the season of Slavas begins and you are fully prepared to enjoy Serbian tradition at its purest glory.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Friday, November 6, 2015

Serbia Attempts to Prevent Kosovo From Becoming UNESCO Member / "Sputnik News" November 3, 2015

Sputnik News
November 3, 2015

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) headquaters

Members of the UN cultural body UNESCO are expected to vote on Kosovo's entry into the organization on November 9, [2015] a move that has been actively protested by Serbia.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, while Belgrade considers it to be part of Serbia. Admission of Kosovo to UNESCO requires the support of two-thirds of the 195 members, 111 of whom have recognized Kosovo's independence.

A country or territory does not have to be a UN member or to have universally recognized status to enter UNESCO. Palestine, for instance, joined the organization in 2011.

Belgrade argues that Kosovo authorities will not be able to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the Serbian Orthodox Church, including many monasteries and other holy shrines in the region.


During past few weeks, Serbia has been trying to convince the international community that transferring control of Orthodox shrines to the Kosovo Albanians is a mistake. Belgrade uses all means, from direct president's addresses to foreign ambassadors to a #NoKosovoUnesco campaign in social networks to prevent such an occurrence.

"We will fight to the end. This is the position of the government of Serbia, the prime minister, and the president. Nothing is more important than that," Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday. As for now, it is impossible to predict the outcome of the vote, he added.

Serbian ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic said earlier on Tuesday that "Kosovo and Metohija are the center of Serbian civilization, Serbian culture, Serbian identity," adding that 236 Serbian churches were destroyed there since 1999, when an international NATO-led peacekeeping force entered Kosovo.


Kosovar Albanians consider UNESCO membership to be in support of their Euro-Atlantic integration and pledge the inviolability of the religious sites.

According to Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Pristina has provided UNESCO with documented guarantees that the names of Serbian Orthodox Church sites would not be changed.

"Kosovo also guarantees that the property of the the Serbian Orthodox Church will not be expropriated, and it will have the freedom to manage their resources," Mustafa said.

UNESCO General Conference kicked off in Paris on Tuesday and will be held until November 18.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Monday, November 2, 2015

Three years after being conquered by the combined enemy forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary, Belgrade is finally liberated by the victorious Serbian and French forces of WWI on November 1, 1918.

Belgrade, Serbia. Year unknown. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Aleksandra's Note: The history of Serbia's capital, Belgrade ("The White City"), is a remarkable one. What this one city, situated in one of the most volatile places in all the world, the Balkans, has been put through, what it has endured, what it has sacrificed, how it has flourished, and how it has survived through the centuries instead of being relegated to the wind, dust, and fog of history with only the skeletons of monuments left to prove that it once existed on this planet Earth, is a testament to the perseverance and inner strength of its people, its culture, and its traditions.

After the great victories of the Serbians over the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the first year of WWI, the second year, 1915, exactly a century ago, would bring catastrophic disease and illness to the Christian Serbs, followed by months of relative peace and tranquility. That is, until the first week of October in 1915. It was then that the combined forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany assaulted Belgrade with a vengeance, and this time the Serbs were not to be victorious. Instead of committing mass suicide by staying and defending their "home", where they were now most vulnerable, they would retreat to come back to fight another day. This great retreat of the Serbians, both the military and civilians,
beginning in the last weeks of 1915 and thus right into the very hard days and nights of winter, would become one of the epic stories of WWI. It is perhaps one of the greatest, most inspiring "war stories" of all time.

For three years their beloved Belgrade was lost to them, but then the Serbians returned indeed, on November 1 of 1918, and this time they were gloriously victorious. The Great War "to end all wars" was at its end.

They had come home as victors and liberators, but the pivotal role of the Serbs in the First World War would far transcend just saving their own homeland.

History has not yet given them their due.

Aleksandra Rebic


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Седам ратова капетана Нолића / Sedam ratova kapetana Nolića / "Politika" November 1, 2015

Momir Marjanović
Objavljeno: 01.11.2015.

Фотографија из француског часописа Le Miroir
Познати француски извештач са балканског ратишта 1914–1918. године Рејмонд Лестон у часопису „Le Miroir“ (огледало) објавио је априла месеца 1916. мало познати чланак са фотографијом, под насловом „Седам ратова капетана Нолића“.

Према мојим неутврђеним истраживањима ова (породица) ратника живела је у Мачви, где их је овековечио овај Француз такође ми је познато, а текст испод фотографије гласи: „Окружен тројицом својих синова, који су војници као и он овај резервиста српске војске савршено добро оличава патриотизам и храброст наших савезника достојних дивљења.

Пешадијски капетан Нолић који се (узгред речено) у нормално време бави пољопривредом, учествовао је у не мање од седам ратова. Прво ватрено крштење је имао 1876. кад се у савезу са црногорским снагама, баш као и сада, српска војска, којом су већином командовали руски официри, жестоко сукобила са вековним непријатељем Турцима. Следећих година, 1877. и 1878. поново се борио против султанових војника и више пута се истакао.

Године 1885. припајање Источне Румелије Бугарској натерало је Србију да објави рат тој кнежевини и млади официр Нолић се тада први пут борио против неискрене словенске браће која сада покушавају да сатру јуначку Србију. Кад су 1912. балканске државе склопиле савез против Порте, капетан Нолић се поново борио против Турака а кад је следеће године дошло до бугарске издаје, био је међу онима који су тријумфовали на Брегалници над војском цара Фердинанда. Године 1914. дошло је до атентата у Сарајеву и велике европске катаклизме.

Прве гранате су бачене на Србију. Нолић је стар, али заједно са својим синовима креће у бој. После ране задобијене у децембру, у време велике победе над аустријском армијом, поново је био спреман да се бори кад су немачки топови загрмели на Дунаву, у Смедереву, септембра 1915. Овај храбри борац није, међутим, никакав изузетак у безбројној фаланги српских патриота која обухвата и многе ветеране“.

Момир Марјановић
Oбјављено: 01.11.2015.


Sedam ratova kapetana Nolića

Fotografija iz francuskog časopisa Le Miroir
Poznati francuski izveštač sa balkanskog ratišta 1914–1918. godine Rejmond Leston u časopisu „Le Miroir“ (ogledalo) objavio je aprila meseca 1916. malo poznati članak sa fotografijom, pod naslovom „Sedam ratova kapetana Nolića“.

Prema mojim neutvrđenim istraživanjima ova (porodica) ratnika živela je u Mačvi, gde ih je ovekovečio ovaj Francuz takođe mi je poznato, a tekst ispod fotografije glasi: „Okružen trojicom svojih sinova, koji su vojnici kao i on ovaj rezervista srpske vojske savršeno dobro oličava patriotizam i hrabrost naših saveznika dostojnih divljenja.

Pešadijski kapetan Nolić koji se (uzgred rečeno) u normalno vreme bavi poljoprivredom, učestvovao je u ne manje od sedam ratova. Prvo vatreno krštenje je imao 1876. kad se u savezu sa crnogorskim snagama, baš kao i sada, srpska vojska, kojom su većinom komandovali ruski oficiri, žestoko sukobila sa vekovnim neprijateljem Turcima. Sledećih godina, 1877. i 1878. ponovo se borio protiv sultanovih vojnika i više puta se istakao.

Godine 1885. pripajanje Istočne Rumelije Bugarskoj nateralo je Srbiju da objavi rat toj kneževini i mladi oficir Nolić se tada prvi put borio protiv neiskrene slovenske braće koja sada pokušavaju da satru junačku Srbiju. Kad su 1912. balkanske države sklopile savez protiv Porte, kapetan Nolić se ponovo borio protiv Turaka a kad je sledeće godine došlo do bugarske izdaje, bio je među onima koji su trijumfovali na Bregalnici nad vojskom cara Ferdinanda. Godine 1914. došlo je do atentata u Sarajevu i velike evropske kataklizme.

Prve granate su bačene na Srbiju. Nolić je star, ali zajedno sa svojim sinovima kreće u boj. Posle rane zadobijene u decembru, u vreme velike pobede nad austrijskom armijom, ponovo je bio spreman da se bori kad su nemački topovi zagrmeli na Dunavu, u Smederevu, septembra 1915. Ovaj hrabri borac nije, međutim, nikakav izuzetak u bezbrojnoj falangi srpskih patriota koja obuhvata i mnoge veterane“.

Momir Marjanović
Objavljeno: 01.11.2015.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Thursday, October 29, 2015


By Alix Clark
Updated Oct. 29, 2015

Every Serbian family has its own patron saint and, traditionally, is baptised on their saint’s Feast Day. Slava is the celebration of the baptism of family ancestors. We visit the Radans – a Serbian Orthodox family in Sydney which celebrates Saint George – and share in the festivities of this special day.

The house has been cleaned from top to bottom, the zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and brandy are placed by the front door, and the kolach (Slava bread) and red wine are placed on the table in front of the religious ikon. Now, the Radans – a Sydney Serbian Orthodox family – are ready for guests to arrive and celebrate their most sacred day: Krsna Slava (Saint Day).

Slava is the day on which Serbian Orthodox families celebrate their ancestors’ conversion from paganism to Christianity from the reign of emperor Heraclius about 1400 years ago. At that time, entire villages were often baptised in one day. There are many saints in Serbian Orthodoxy, with about six being the most popular and widely celebrated. Each family has its own saint that is particular to them – the Radans have Saint George – and this saint is passed on through generations from father to son, with daughters eventually taking the saint of the man she marries. Slava is an affirmation of a family’s commitment to their faith and is a day of ritual, feasting and joy. "Slava is special to me because of its traditions and culture. It’s my heritage that was passed onto me and that I am passing onto my children," says Milica Radan. In preparation for hosting up to 60 family and friends for lunch as well as dinner, Milica and her four daughters – Dusanka, Simeona, Aleksija and Ilijana – have made sure that the house is spotless before preparing traditional Serbian dishes, such as kisela corba (sour chicken soup), sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) and pechenje (roast suckling pig).

Before the meal begins, there are certain rituals that are celebrated. First, a tall candle is lit and remains burning throughout the day – this reminds everyone of the significance of the event and, in particular, symbolises that “Christ is the light of the world”. The family attends church in the morning and breaks the kolach (a sweet bread decorated with the dove of peace and the sign of the cross) and the zito, both of which are blessed by the priest. Kolach is a symbol of the real presence of Jesus Christ, while the zito represents their faith in the resurrection of the dead. Red wine, symbolic of the blood of Christ, is also part of the ceremony. “Slava defines our identity,” says Milica, whose parents immigrated to Australia in the mid-1950s. “So many of our traditions are linked to religious events and Slava is one of the most significant.”

Once the ceremonial part of the day is over, the celebration begins and guests help themselves to the trays laden with prosciutto (which the Radans cure at home for six months), cornichons, goat’s cheese and pita (paper-thin pastry rolled with a cheese filling). The starter is sour chicken soup that has been thickened with cream and eggs, and is served with pieces of kola. The sarma follows and there’s a mad grab for the smoked pork ribs in the rich tomato-paprika sauce that the cabbage rolls have been cooked in. For the main course, there is spit-roasted suckling pig served with simple potato and tomato salads, and pechene paprike (chargrilled red peppers or bullhorn capsicums – a key ingredient in Serbian cooking). A selection of desserts – including kiflice (pastry rolled with sweet fillings) and oblande (a cake made from large wafer sheets and chocolate cream) – conclude the lavish feast.

Tradition states that the domacin, or host, stands until the end of the evening, when all the guests have been served – Milica, her husband, Rade (a Serbian Orthodox priest) and their daughters clear plates and refill glasses with efficiency. "I love that everybody comes over to celebrate with us," says daughter Aleksija as she clears the table. "And I love the feasting."

After dinner, belts are loosened and the noise levels rise as Serbian music is turned up and a few guests enjoy a shot or two of sljivovica (plum brandy). As midnight approaches, there is a moment of quiet as a piece of kolach is dampened with red wine and used to extinguish the candle’s flame, symbolising that the day has come to an end. Slava may be over, but the music continues long into the night.

Photography by Alan Benson.

As seen in Feast magazine, October 2011, Issue 2.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at