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Serbia: Kragujevac Stories

You would have to find out by yourself how it feels to be in this southeastern European country, but in the meantime you can read words from different online spaces talking about those legendary cars produced in Kragujevac, the city's traditional bistro aura and some glances at its past.

First, let's take a look at Eric Gordy's East Ethnia blog and a report of this odd happening, Kragujevac-related:

So the story appears to be: the folk-pop figure personality [Severina Vuckovic] makes a guest appearance on a television station in Kragujevac, in the course of which she receives as a gift one of the legendary “Yugo” cars from the Zastava factory. This leads her commercial sponsor, the Croatian representative of Mercedes Benz (or Daimler Chrysler, I presume?) to announce a lawsuit against her. No doubt the competitive pressure is difficult for MBZ to bear. Leaving aside whatever differences in quality, comfort or reliabilty that may exist between the product from Stuttgart and the product from Kragujevac, there does not seem to be much question which company's directors have a better sense of what makes for good publicity.

Update: TV 9 in Kragujevac says it ain't so, that Severina did not ask for a car, the station did not contact the factory, and the factory did not provide one. They do, however, invite people to support a campaign to raise funds to buy a car for the use of the safe house for women and the center for children who are victims of violence in Kragujevac.

Branislav Kovacevic speaks out about the central Serbian conurbation of Kragujevac. He portrays life and explores the spirits of its streets (SRP):

Kragujevac has always been center of attention because of many things… When you speak out loud the name of that urban area one can remember it was the first capital town in modern Serbia with the first theatre and factory in the Balkans; you may also recall that the country’s first “Sretenjski” constitution was adopted there. Kragujevac is known for the tragedy that occurred in 1941 [when Germans killed over 7,000 people]; it has the first and only automobile industry in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; it is also a university city with more than 10,000 students; and it was an important opposition haven during the political struggle against [Slobodan] Milosevic's regime. […] Workers of Zastava car factory in that city are paying the biggest price of transition, which is the reason why at one point Kragujevac was named “Hunger Valley.”

There are details you can’t spot with bare eye. People don’t speak so much about them either. […] Since its time as capital city to the time when it was called “Hunger Valley” and through all the wars and happy but tough times the district has succeeded in maintaining a unique soul!

At least for me, the place to be was the Balkan Bistro. […] A modest space with common menu offering of the usual food and drinks, the place was the main gathering point for actors, journalists, priests, high school students, painters, crooks, gamblers and future academics. Since the day starts with a cup of coffee, indispensable ratluk and a small glass of soda till late in the evening […] the time was built up by funny remarks, different political and sports forecasts and verbal conflicts […].

Everything is known in the “Balkan”!

From the info on when some [movie] premiere would happen to who would become the next American president, to who killed Kennedy, to who would be the first person to land on Mars… All the [Wikipedia] knowledge is on the table, somewhere around [Rubin] cognac, spricer [Banat rizzling white wine mixed with soda water) and a brown bottle of Jagodinsko beer.

When someone says, let's have a drink at Balkan, it always means you would bump into some familiar face; rendezvous would last until at least one round has been drunk by everyone at the table. Often, the people don’t keep count of the rounds drunk, so the orders start over and over again. Numerous anecdotes are saved, many of them are still told like hunting stories, and the narrator doesn’t resist attaching some new detail. […] Here is a short story from the “Balkan diary”:

Once, Sava the Razor went home to handle some charcoal [needed to heat house during wintertime] as the truck arrived in front of the building in which he lived with his mother. She offered 1,000 dinars if he carried four tons of load to the basement. He did so but his mother gave him just 500 dinars, half the promised amount. Sava the Razor placed money in his pocket; as he wasn’t lazy, Sava returned two tons of charcoal back to the street. Of course, he commented that his mother got what she deserved while he was spending his 500 dinars at Balkan. […]

Carl Savich blogs out the most ruthless piece of Kragujevac history:

The Kragujevac massacre of October 20-21, 1941, was one of the most horrific Nazi war crimes during World War II. Serbian civilians from Kragujevac were executed by the German occupation army even though no attacks were made in the city. German General Franz Boehme wanted to fill the quota of one hundred Serbian civilians executed for every German soldier killed, fifty Serbian civilians executed for every German soldier wounded. Because not enough hostages could be found, however, Serbian students from the Kragujevac high school along with their teachers were rounded up and executed. The massacre occurred during the Serbian insurgency or guerrilla resistance movemnet that began in the summer of 1941. The Serbian insurgency was the first major resistance to the German Nazi New Order in Europe. In this regard, it was unprecedented and unique. The German military occupation forces responded with unprecedented “reprisals” and indiscriminate mass executions of civilians. […]

2 comments

  • william

    Serbia has been betrayed and outmanouevered vis-a-vis Kosovo and indeed Montenegro. There is no doubt to the independent observer that the pipelines from the Caspian sea through the Balkans and into the Mediterranean, out to the Atlantic and over to America (for which the US regime did a feasability study before deciding that the Serbs were ‘war criminals’) was a deciding factor in the NATO intervention in that region. Albright herself was a personification of the doctrine of all powerful states that: “We don’t have permanent friends: only permanent interests”. As a child she and her family took refuge in Serbia against the Nazi persecution against Jews. Serbia alone and conspicuously among the Balkan nations stood against the Nazis whilst all around them they were persecuted for that stance by their neighbours: Albanians, Bosnian muslims and the Ustasha of Croatia. Their neighbours, just mentioned were all enthusiatic Jew killers and their pathetic attempts on Youtube and other online outlets to create a contrary impression are despicable and simply false. It is a continuation of the lies spread by the successful Ruder Finn PR company based in Washington which depicted the Serbs as neo-nazis. Travesty is a word which barely describes the injustice of their propaganda success. Even Jewish publications were hoodwinked by their lies. Which just proves that truth is the first casualty of war.

  • […] of independence or last january's presidential elections. But he has also introduced blogs from his home town (Kragujevac, in Serbia), has written about the situation of Roma people in Slovenia and the […]

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