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International Socialism, Winter 1961


Mary Harris



From International Socialism (1st series), No.7, Winter 1961, p.30.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Beloved Land
Vladimir Dedijer
Macgibbon and Kee. 30s.

Vladimir Dedijer, a member of the Partisans, and afterwards Professor of History at Belgrade University until 1959, describes this book as ‘a story of one man’s destiny seen against the background of the history of his family and of his country’. He begins with his mother’s family in Bosnia at the beginning of the nineteenth century and describes in detail the family life of the Babics throughout the next hundred years against the background of Turkish rule, emancipation, Austrian occupation and finally independence. In these early chapters he describes the characters and the life of his forefathers, especially that of his great-grandfather Jovan Babic (the first Christian landowner in Bosnia), who considered it only proper to model his behaviour on that of the Turkish beys.

At the same time Dedijer’s account traces the history of the national and revolutionary movements in Bosnia, beginning with Vaso Pelagic’s campaign against the Turks for freedom and constitutional government. The Young Bosnia movement is dealt with – the idealistic, romantic approach to national and social problems with which Zerajic and later Gavrilo Princip would accept martyrdom in the tradition of the Serb hero, Milos Obilic, who assassinated the Sultan before the battle of Kosovo in 1389.

Family and national liberation movements intermix – Jovan Babic went to school with Pelagic and Dedijer’s uncle, Konstantin, was a close friend of Princip’s. National and social reform aspirations were tied together. Brought up in a liberal family, it is not surprising that the young Dedijer, in close contact with the oppression of dictatorship by his work as a journalist and troubled by the economic backwardness and national rivalries of Yugoslavia in the 1930s, should have eventually turned to the Communist Party.

His highly personal account of his attitudes and beliefs during these years and while fighting with the Partisans is done with great honesty. It is a pity that he should have dealt, in comparison, so skimpily with the war years and a misfortune that we are deprived of an account of post-war events by such a thoughtful and imaginative writer.

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