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From the Letters to the Editor column in the November 1999 Perspectives

Revisioning Yugolslavia's History

Anthony Di Iorio, November 1999

To the Editor:

I read with interest David MacKenzie's review of Yugoslavia: The Death of a Nation (October 1999 Perspectives). Although I shared Professor MacKenzie's overall assessment of the documentary, his historical commentary stands some correction. It is not correct to state that the Serbs "retained their Greek Orthodox religion" insofar as the Serbian Orthodox Church and Patriarchate constituted a separate and autocephalous church apart from the Greek Orthodox Church. On the other hand, those Albanians who remained Orthodox after the Ottoman conquest indeed retained their Greek Orthodox religion. It was also inaccurate to say that "German and Italian forces occupied Serbia while Croatia was ruled by a brutal fascist (Ustase) regime" after the fall of the first Yugoslavia in April 1941. One is left wondering as to exactly what territories the author means by "Serbia." It would be more accurate to say that German and Italian forces occupied Slovenia, and that while the Germans occupied Serbia proper, other areas of Serbia and/or Yugoslavia were occupied by Hungarian (Vojvodina), Bulgarian (Macedonia), Italian (Kosovo and Montenegro), and Croatian (much of Bosnia-Herzegovina) forces. As for Croatia itself, the Italians, who already controlled Istria, occupied Dalmatia leaving Croatia proper, Slavonia, and much of Bosnia to suffer under the Ustase regime.

The Croatian and Slovenian declarations of independence of June 1991 are discussed in such a way that an unwary reader would never suspect that the two declarations were made on the same day. The article takes pains to include diacritical spellings for Milosevic and Seselj, but omits the accented "c"s for Milosevic, Stambolic, Mladic, Izetbegovic, Kucan and Karadzic. Thanks for an otherwise useful and reasonable article that underscores the need for a more accurate and rigorous treatment of the Balkans' tangled history.

—Anthony Di Iorio
Arlington, Va.

Editor's Note: The author did have the correct spellings in the manuscript, but for technical reasons beyond our control, the diacritical marks for the "c"s could not be printed.