Slavenko Terzic, Ph.D, Director of Historical Institute of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA)
English translation by Stefan Branisavljevic
Political and cultural separatism in contemporary Montenegro has its own deeper roots; deeper, indeed, than uninformed part of the world believes today, inclined to search for causes of that movement in political events of the last few years. Its ideology was not born in Montenegro but was brought from outside. Essence of such movement is in attempt-created before WW2 by Nazi-Fascist projects of destruction of Yugoslavia and Serb ethnic integrity - to impose on Montenegro entirely new cultural and spiritual identity trough ideological propaganda, educational programs, cultural institutions, art, scientific work and multitude of similar activities. Real roots of separatist political and cultural awareness could not be understood with no ample of ideological and cultural ambient in XX century - ambient in which exists Montenegro and Serb people in it.
Montenegrin nationalism and separatism had grown up on old strategy of destruction of Serb ethnical, cultural and spiritual area and it had not taken any root in Montenegro until it was implemented by force during and after WW2. Creators of this ideological conception derived from state offices of Vienna and Budapest, like Gyula Andras, Benjamin Kallay, Lajos Taloczy and their satellite centers, like Zagreb and , of course, other neighboring centers, Rome, firstly, as main center of Roman curia. The fundamental aim of that strategy was to neutralize, with all possible means, Serb national unification and constitution of united Serb state, but, also, any stronger Serbian cultural and spiritual connecting. Abundance of different political and cultural measures of those strategy could be divided on two basic direction of activities: first, Serbian tendency to regionalism and particularism (visible even in Middle Ages and strengthen by long period of life in different states under foreign rule) which should be deepened and be politically exploited by all available means; and second, religious divergence and cultural differences among Serbs, emerged by life under foreign regimes, which must perpetually be emphasized by giving them specific political significance.
It was worked on this affairs already in XVIII century with first serious plans on reorganization of South-Eastern Europe, in the spirit of taking care of Austrian political interests, but , also, intentions of other Western powers. This project is very apparent after Serbian Revolution 1804 and it had come to full expression - planed, organized and efficient - after occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1878. It is not only about projects of political nature - it is about wide-spread front of activities which, besides typical political, military and economic measures, puts in the first plan research and cultural work; in those zones was always present sophisticated strategy - more difficult to be detected - of confusion in the plans of their foes, with basic goal to accept desirable false identity that will be functional for political combinations of Habsburg monarchy. Such was, besides the rest, Bosniak ideology with its prop on Bogumils and many other projects that were concerned about Old Raska, Kosovo and Metohija, Macedonia and other areas inhabited by Serb people.
All the time during existence of independent Montenegro nobody denied well known fact that Montenegrins have been part of Serb population in Montenegro. I talk about Old Montenegro. Major part of nowadays Montenegro - beginning with Banjani, across Piva, Drobnjak, Vasojevic, thence Polimlje, Potarje (Berane, Bijelo Polje, Pljevlja) - was otherwise populated by Serb people in its historical territories of Old Herzegovina and Old Raska. Even very exclusive Croatian ideologist, dr. Ivo Pilar, (pseudonym Sudland) - on whom will be more told latter - pattern to Croatian Ustasha movement and Montenegrin separatists - could not name Montenegrins as distinct people. He writes: "We know four South-Slav peoples: Slovenians, Croats, Serbs and Bulgarians."
First effort for promotion of Montenegrins as a separate nation in relation with Serbs occurred before WW2 by literal works of Savic Markovic Stedimlija, who was disciple of ideas of Croatian ideologists Ante Starcevic and Josip Frank, both spiritual founders of Croatian Ustasha movement. Stedimlija was born in Stijena, in Pipers, 1907, he attended Gymnasium in Podgorica and many places in Serbia and he studied Law and Philosophy on University in Zagreb. In the same time as Stedimlija, Yugoslav communists supported this idea, but with somewhat different arguments particularly in years before WW2 when old Habsburg conception of disintegration of Serb ethnical integrity became official program of Yugoslav Communist Party. Whether by chance or not, pinnacle of Stedimlija 's political and propagandistic work was concurred with political and propagandistic activity of Yugoslav Communist Party in period 1937-1941.
Middle European, Roman Catholic clericalism, which is skeleton of major political lines in that region - either leftist or rightist - lays in root of idea of Montenegrin nation, although it might seem paradoxically. Clericalism was politically the most consistently shaped by already mentioned Croatian politician, dr. Ivo Pilar, who, under pseudonym v Sudland, published comprehensive work "Die Sudslawishe Frage und der Weltkrieg - Ubersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamtproblems" ("The South-Slav Question and World War - Display of Complete Question"), in Vienna 1918. Hence, Hrvatska matica ("The Cradle of Croats") published that book in Zagreb, 1943 and new edition was printed in Croatia in 90s.
In his political reflections with claims on so-called historical evidence, Savic Markovic Stedimlija reposes his complete construction on views of Ivo Pilar. Core of this construction is: Montenegrins are descendants of "Red Croats", because Duklja was a part of "Red Croatia", they are culturally part of the Western world, and although in some occasions they have been forced to adopt Serb name - writes Stedimlija - they in fact have never left their own Western cultural identity.
Pilar, whose favorite writer is Bavarian historian Jacob Falmerayer, one of the leading ideologists of uncompromising struggle against everything Orthodox and Russian, as Ante Starcevic is model to Stedimlija, starts from Theodosius the Great's division on Eastern and Western Roman Empire 395 A.D. (which emperor left to his sons Arcadius and Honorius) and emphasizes that Roman province Dalmatia "from Belgrade on Danube to Skadar" was added to West. When he talks on migration of Slavs and "South-Slav question" Pilar, unlike latter Stedimlija, quotes, as was noted, four peoples only. But, he stresses that Duklja developed from "Red Croatia" ("which is originally Croatian settlement") and which at the beginning comprised "nowadays Herzegovina and Montenegro". Owing to very strong Byzantine influence, writes Pilar, sway of Croat Catholics was overpowered. Oncoming of Serbs in Duklja (Zeta) strengthened Serb element "so that since 11th century we cannot maintain Duklja as purely Croat but mixed Croato-Serb state creation." In coming centuries Duklja tied its fate with Raska "with whom was better geopolitically connected than with the rest of Croatia." Then, writes Pilar, "Duklja had fallen gradually in scope of Serb influence. It has become, somehow, second political center of Serb people. Nevertheless first Croat settling as ethnical moment and strong influence of Catholicism made indelible, specific mark, thus Duklja, latter Zeta, through all Serb history appear as separate individuality, which stands in some contradiction with ethnical center in Raska. This cohesion elements proved so strong that until today it is not possible to overcome them, so we see, even in contemporary days, beside authentic Serbia also Montenegro, which is successor of former Duklja and Zeta". In conclusion of modern political thoughts Pilar stresses that Serbs, with help of "better church and political order", seized more areas from Bulgarians and Croats: "They stole from Croats nowadays Western Serbia, former Duklja and one of the main forces who led to actual war (WW1 - S.T.) is Serb ardent try to take, definitely, Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croats."
This work is obviously main source for complete Stedimlija's conception about Montenegrin nation. This spirit is present also in other of his, mostly, propagandistic works. After brochures "Highlander's Blood - Montenegro 1918-1928" (Belgrade 1928), "Antikrlezians or How Among Us Were Written Marxist Critics" (Kragujevac 1933), Stedimlija writes also pamphlets like "Education of Montenegrin Youth" (Zagreb 1936), "Russia and Balkans" (Zagreb 1937) and "Red Croatia" (Split 1937).
In edition of Political library "Roads" in Zagreb, 1937, was published Stedimlija's brochure "The Foundations of Montenegrin Nationalism" (127 pages). Book has three parts: "Red Croatia and Its Cultural Traces", "Melting of Name Red Croatia in Montenegro" and "Between Two Nationalisms". As a motto of book were taken verses of Ivan Mazuranic.
Cultural and political fate of Montenegro Stedimlija, at the very beginning, drags from its geographical position: "Closed from East and North by high mountain chains, (Prokletije, Komovi, Durmitor and so on) Montenegro has always been open only to sea and a somewhat more practicable road toward West, through Herzegovina".  Already here is visible that Stedimlija betrays truth if it is not compatible to his foregone prepared thesis because almost half of Montenegro is oriented toward Polimlje, and by centuries, it was separated from the sea. But for him it was incompatible to thesis which he wants to prove by quasi-historical and quasi-geographical arguments. Therefore he continues in same spirit: "Thanks to its wide sea link with West, old Slav population of modern Montenegro was in better position to implement and undergo influence of the Western culture to its own vicinity. That was the way how Christianity came and way by which Western cultural influence spread for centuries which is noticeable even today."
In theoretical approach, Stedimlija is relied on Stalin's definition of nation. Extraordinary relief, climate and, by them, life conditions made that Montenegrin acquired: "specific physical and psychical form." He says further: "Montenegrins were several hundred years very independently separated on unique and homogenous territory where they communicated with each other and lived together. So their nation historically has become community of language, territory, economic life and psychical constitution, expressed in unity of all their spiritual and material culture."
The fundamental attitude of Stedimlija is based on next conclusion: "Ancestors of modern Montenegrins came in their country as Croats and here, with that name, have lived few centuries." He explains in a detailed manner this thesis alluding mostly on "Annals of Priest of Duklja" (according to K. Jiricek chronology was written from 1160 to 1180). He attempts persistently to establish that "nowadays region of Montenegro was inhabited by Croats since arrival of Slavs to formation of Nemanjic state." Stedimlija polemizes with famous historians who believe that "Annals of Priest of Duklja" is very questionable document. Thence he resorts to ridiculous arguments, offering sites which falsely led to "Croatian name" (in Kolasin canton "Croatian meadows" - beside city Tutin, in Raska, still exists ruined "Latin cemetery that originate from" of course, Catholic Croats". Stedimlija strives to disproof standpoint of prominent Croat historian Ferdo Sisic (although originally from Orthodox Sisic of Grbalj) on this question: "Yet if we cannot deny - at least with valid reasons - existence od Croat name in the Upper Dalmatia in XI and XII centuries, that result still does not mean that it was part of Croatia, and not even that this is the case of ethnical Croats in the sense as it is understood in Croatia, where this name was not only national, but, also, political (state) name. It means merely that among Serbs from Duklja there were certain groups of people who were called Croats, similar to such groups of Croats that existed among Czechs in X and XI centuries and among Poles of this time." Sisic explicitly claims that neither historical evidence proves name of "Red Croatia", nor Croat state administration stretched out on Upper Dalmatia. It does not prevent Stedimlija to claim that in the past "for lands of Red Croatia the name Duklja, Primorske strane and latter Zeta was used". "Red Croatia disappeared as independent country 1184" by "incorporation in Nemanja's state".
Although Stedimlija is not interested in historical truth, and though for him past is only field for asserting already given political conceptions, he, nevertheless, cannot neglect well known historical facts. So he starts with various wits probably aware of unheard - of violence which he commits on history of people to whom he belongs. On one page he tells that Montenegro in age of Nemanjic dynasty "was in considerable number settled by Serbs from Raska and acquiescently gave up to Serbization, because in constituting of one Slav state on Balkans Montenegro saw the most secure guarantee for the preserving of its own independence and survival. Her national identification with inhabitants of Raska under Serb name had character, not only of accepting collective state name of higher category by their intentional perception, but, also, giving boost to Nemanja as a man from Zeta with call on national unity to create free and independent state toward abroad. Because he cannot deny the fact that especially Montenegro was heir of magnificent Serb epic heritage, Kosovo cult and particularly cult of Milos Obilic, Stedimlija explains it so that "free Montenegro had no misgivings for her existence from state conception of captured Serb people." Dangerous were threats from Turkish state conception and invasion, so, thinks Stedimlija, to Montenegro, in its rescuing mission in Balkans, was necessary, for the moment, to return to Serb name and by it consecrates her right of redeemer". According to him unified Serb church was, too, bearer of Serb name and privileged by state: "it was in favorable position to suppress another churches and to practice task inflicted by state authorities." But neither success of the state nor of the church in age of Nemanjic dynasty "was so marvelous to proclaim territory of former Red Croatia as Serb and to delete this names from list of lands united in common state." Stedimlija alludes on statement of Croatian historian Klajic that "expansion of Serbian name in Dukljanin's Red Croatia contributed also continuos Serb migration in this country".
Hence comes climax of Stedimlija's manipulations - in shape of theory on so-called original ethnical and cultural symbiosis in Zeta: "Zeta gradually became satiated with hosted Serb population. While settlers as a victims of political struggles and war misfortunes brought more developed political consciousness and greater grit, the locals had greater cultural and civilizational achievement. In reconciliation of this different tendencies it was logically to win and preserve in the country political intentions of immigrants and cultural and civilisation contents folk and state life of natives. New type of state was gradually made with national name of immigrants and their political intentions which they brought with themselves, and with cultural orientation and civilization of natives, whom inherited from their ancestors, Red Croats." So, "Serb emigrants from Raska "fulfilled fateful influence on national transformation and orientation of Dukljans by settling which initiated replacement of name Croat with name Serb." Croat sway could not be preserved, says Stedimlija, therefore geopolitical position of Duklja "did not allow her to unite with Croatia in one state." Adopted "Serb name Dukljans, or Zetans, did not receive other attributes and characteristics of Serbian people. They stayed in Catholic faith, under Western influence, building themselves but as separate people, whatever had formally same name with Serbs. Even they preserved dialect like it had other Croats (ijekavski). Paths of influence of Eastern Byzantine culture and mentality, built in Balkan area under patronage of Byzantine empire, were and are closed until very end."
Assuredly, it is the most difficult for Stedimlija to explain whence so crystal Serb thought and Serb idea among all Montenegrin bishops and statesmen, especially Njegos, but, also Petar I Petrovic, prince Danilo and king Nikola. He explains this by so-called political reasons which were cause "why Njegos so loudly claimed Serb nationality of Montenegrins. "But despite this, says Stedimlija, Njegos as a poet in his literal opus "stayed pure Westerner, with minimum Orthodox in himself." He resisted with it "to voice of his interior", "voice of his heart" that "echoed Western on vibrations of thoughts with which he directed his country toward Russia". After that follows bearing idea of this political construction which is in certain manner platform of Montenegrin separatism with aim of imposing quasi-identity of Montenegrins till this days: "During the struggle between this opposite principles, by which he was led through life, he (Njegos) stays typical Western representative on an terrain artificially screened by spirit of Byzantine Ortodoxy." Thus from this Stedimlija's words clearly speak all his models like Falmerayer, Ante Starcevic and Ivo Pilar!
At the end of his pseudo-philosophical outburst Stedimlija finishes with pursuing words: "In final clash two oppositions East-West, in Montenegro, and in lack of those political reasons which motivated Njegos to orient toward East, in this country today takes triumphal victory spirit of Western culture and civilization, spirit of defense of traditions preserved through centuries by forefathers of nowadays Montenegrins. Led by this spirit it goes in future by roads by which travel great Western nations and, whether its moving will be behind them or with them, depends from readiness with which Montenegro gets rid off piled layers of dead historical dust from its face, which painful historical events left from Montenegrin long past." "Dead historical dust" - it is Serb identity of Montenegrins, core of complete history of Montenegro, but Stedimlija did not care about any historical truth. His "tale" was made to coming masters before WW2: it ought to be "ticket" for "New European Order" which, then in full sweep, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini were creating.
Between too many "pearls" of Savic Markovic Stedimlija is an that Montenegrins had own "folk religion" and own "folk church." He is delighted by ideologue of Croatian Ustashas Ante Starcevic. He maintains that Montenegro needs one Ante Starcevic. Ante Starcevic had to appear in Montenegro also in 1912 when "vanished the Turkish zone which divided Serbia and Montenegro".  At this momentum appeared danger for Montenegro. Starcevic, he says, waged struggle for constitution of Croat cultural nationalism. By his "courageous thesis on Slavoserbs he contributed to entire and righteous purification of the Croatian cultural nationalism from all foreign and negative mixtures which have destroyed and made it sterile". Montenegrin nationalism "had not lived its historical word like Croat had in the word of Ante Starcevic" because it had not compatible cultural content and nomenclature. "The formation of political nationalism is possible only when it is preceded by same and congenial cultural nationalism. Final stage formation of cultural nationalism is its outer political and from the inside cultural content, phase in which nationalism by realisation of national state gains its definite shape and content". Montenegrin Orthodox Church, writes Stedimlija, "was not the bearer and guardian of Serb state idea, but Montenegrin, under Serb name."
The major notional sources and instigators for complete Stedimlija's opus are extreme Croat ideologists like Ante Starcevic, Milan Suflaj, Josip Frank and the others. On the end of his brochure on Montenegrin nationalism, Stedimlija inspired by Suflaj's words that "Croat name, Croat blood does not mean nation, only! Croat blood here means civilization too. Croatdom is synonymous for everything nice and well made by European West" underlines also "epochal conclusion on Montenegro's role in history": "Montenegro was boundary by whom went border between East and West when great Roman Empire was separating, border between Eastern and Western church, in fact border between two worlds. Powers of all Montenegrin culture and civilization raying toward East, then it is impossible to avoid thoughts on danger which threatens Montenegrin people and what is sacred for them as for the other civilized peoples from pretensions of conquerors."
Finishing his forgery of all history of Montenegro placed in wide specter, Savic Markovic Stedimlija sees in personality of Sekule Drljevic Montenegrin Ante Starcevic: "Therefore today in Montenegro, as in Croatia, beats one heart and lives one united spirit". And in brochure "The Montenegrin Question" that published Montenegrin National Committee in Zagreb, under patronage of new Ustashas regime, repeating old thesis that Montenegro was occupied by "Serbian and French squads", Stedimlija inspired of that time New World Order concludes: "When severe Versailles' injustices become reclaimed, Montenegro, under leadership of Sekule Drljevic, will take place in New European Order which belongs to her by privileges and sacrifices in liberating struggle."
During WW2 Stedimlija was right hand of Croatian Nazi leader Ante Pavelic. His book "Auf dem Balkan" was published in Zagreb 1943. In 1945 Red Army arrested him somewhere in Austria while he was withdrawing with Croatian Ustashas. He spent certain time in prison in USSR. He was returned into the country by intervention of the new communist state leadership. On trial, which was farce, he was sentenced on short term penalty and soon after was released from penitentiary. They employed him in Lexicographically Foundation in Zagreb, under leadership of omnipotent Miroslav Krleza, whose support Stedimlija enjoyed until the end of his smooth life in Zagreb. However they were, obviously, connected before WW2. Fact that Stedimlija continued to make influence from his pre-war positions, speaks enough on ideological atmosphere in Yugoslav society after WW2. Difference was that Stedimlija was not alone as he was before war. Behind him stayed Miroslav Krleza, prime ideologist of complete cultural policy in Tito's Yugoslavia. Many politically powerful individuals in state and party leaderships of Yugoslavia and Montenegro backed him. It was especially obvious in action of destruction of old Njegos's chapel on the mountain Lovcen.
In similar, in core of Middle European clerical spirit, is created Yugoslav Communist Party theory on Montenegrins as separate nation. It derives from famous thesis on Yugoslavia as "Versailles' creation" and that all other nations are victims of "Greater-Serb hegemony" and "Greater -Serb unitarianism". Its most clear expression this concept found in decisions of Fifth Country Conference of Yugoslav Communist Party, in Zagreb (1940). But Yugoslav Communist Party policy about this question was relatively careful until new regime became ideologically and politically stabilized.
Montenegrin nation is imposed violently, by the Yugoslav Communist Party leadership will and was opposite, not only to officially proclaimed communist internationalism, but to spirit of European conception of nation and European national movements. It is unique example in Europe that inhabitants of one province, or republic, practically overnight become members of another, new nation (similar example does not exist). Free manifestation of peoples will was halted by oppressive measures of communist reign. Deserbization process among Serbs in Montenegro was part of comprehensive state and party politics - from constitutional solutions, state and party documents to scientific, educational and cultural policy. There was no single word about previously existing Serb people in Montenegro as if it suddenly vanished with no trace. Every term of Serb consciousness was labeled as expression of "Chetnic" and "Great-Serb" ideology. Serb people in Montenegro remained without any political representative, without scientific, cultural, educational, and enlightening institutions (Serb cultural institutions that existed before WW2 were either banished or they changed name and by this also complete program of work). To rationalize apparent violence with no proceeding example in history and to make it easier for people to embrace this, propaganda was spread that it is the same (e.g. "We are both Serbs and Montenegrins"). By similar way were explained the administrative borders between republics. We know that latter they became iron borders, which was aim from the very beginning.
Ideological indoctrination went gradually. Firstly, it had to be discovered adequate historical foundation for new nation and it started to be found in existence of Montenegrin state. Montenegro, of course, was one of two independent Serb states in XIX and XX centuries. Among German and Italian peoples such states, with their own dynasties were present for centuries and in much larger number than among the Serbs. This job started by writing "The History of Montenegrin People" by Jagos Jovanovic. Here, already, was committed attempt of differentiation between Montenegrin and Serbs. Than continues, gradually, year by year stronger and stronger, and better and better organized campaign of creating new Montenegrin identity. Soon after the war followed very massive sending of students from Montenegro to University of Zagreb. Hence followed constitution of Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts in Podgorica, as additional attribute of national exclusiveness. Ideologically, new identity was forced by Redaction of Encyclopaedia of Lexicographically Foundation in Zagreb for Montenegro. On the chairman's position is president of Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts, actually member of presidency of so-called Duklja Academy of Sciences and Arts. New ideological mainstream in the communist party most clear illuminates the statement of Vladimir Bakaric about "Montenegrin language". At the same time, everyday strengthened the campaign in science and culture that Montenegrins are something else in comparison with Serbs, with silent backing of party and state centers of both Montenegro and Yugoslavia.
With political victory in Europe of the powers defeated in WW1 and WW2 all ideological strategy regarding Serbs and South -Eastern Europe returns back more radically to old ideological sources - views of Ante Starcevic, Suflaj, Ivo Pilar, Stedimlija and broad circle of their disciples which were bearers of Middle European conquering spirit in South-Eastern Europe. In Montenegro initiative took the so-called Duklja Academy of Sciences and Arts in Podgorica. One of their leading members, dr Rotkovic, says, even more radically than Stedimlija, that Montenegrins are "old Slav people, of Western Slav origin, Western neighbors of Poles, with whom they have same ijekavica dialect". The Montenegrins, writes this Montenegrin separatism ideologist "arrived on South Adriatic after 568 A.D." Everything that so-called DANU (Duklja Academy of Sciences and Arts), Crnogorska matica (The Cradle of Montenegrins) and group gathered around so-called Montenegrin orthodox church are doing, shows that political and cultural separatism in Montenegro today goes much further that their forerunners in falsification of complete political, cultural and spiritual history of Serb people in Montenegro. Main blow of this movement is directed on the Serb cultural and spiritual identity of Montenegro, and keeping in mind the fact that movement today has financial and political support from abroad, revealing of its major goal should be organized and comprehensive. Basic of this activity should be scientific truth.
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