Cedomir Antic: Historian urges efficient response to revisionism

By Zorica Simeunović

Belgrade – Serbian historian Čedomir Antić rejects allegations that Young Bosnia was a terrorist organisation and calls on Serbia’s state authorities to take stronger action in response to the attempts at revising the events that preceded the First World War.

“The problem lies with the president, prime minister and ministers. We have scientists, artists and intellectuals offering a basis for a good and proper, scientifically and artistically founded response,” Antić says in an interview with Srna.

He notes that money should be allocated the way it is done in the UK or Austria, “instead of making B rated movies and giving money to yes-men to make bulletin-board newspapers in archives throughout Serbia.”

Antić warns that the definition of terrorism is not the same as it was 100 years ago. He asks:

“Were members of Young Italy or Protectors of the Fatherland (Armenians) terrorists, such as Belgian anarchist Jorris, who activated the first car bomb in history in Istanbul, massacred many civilians, and then the European powers forced the Ottoman authorities to release him from prison as a ‘freedom fighter’?”

Antić underlines that Young Bosnia assassins were people on the margins of society whose position was very much caused by the non-democratic and bad Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“They had the support of several extremists from the Serbian army, but such support was not crucial for their decision to commit the assassination or for the success of the operation. The assassination succeeded thanks to a strange combination of unfortunate circumstances,” says Čedomir Antić.

The death of Franz Ferdinand saddened only a small portion of the Austrian public and almost no one in Hungary, he explains.

“However, the leading figures of Germany and Austria immediately decided to enter the war. It has been proved that they were aware that Serbia was not standing behind the assassination, and that they wanted a war in which Serbia would be destroyed as an independent state, while Germany wanted a conflict with Russia and France,” Antić adds.

He warns that attempts at revisionism are coming from several places and that such attempts are not a novelty. Revisionism has been defined as national interest by portions of the German, Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian, and even Bosniak elites.

“Revision is wanted by Catholic clerical circles. It is in the interest of a modern, an otherwise quite pragmatic idea of European unity,” says Antić.

According to the historian, in terms of geopolitics the world today is more similar to the XIX century than it was during the XX century: “Elites as well as intellectuals of the western European states are aware that today Europe is much weaker than it was on the eve of the First World War.”

There exists also the need for the German people to distance and justify itself in relation to the Nazi regime and Hitler, he notes.

“The scientists who now insist that the Sarajevo assassination was ‘more than a trigger’ and partly the cause of the world war, actually wish to say that an uncontrolled Serbia was responsible for instability – both in 1914 and in 1991 – and that European states entered the war by accident, ‘like sleep-walkers,’” Antić explains.

This would mean that the war, underlines the Serbian historian, was the results of an error in which Serbia had an ill intent, whose elites were not guilty individually /like the Nazi authorities of Germany were/, but that it was the matter of a defect of the entire Serbian culture from Emperor Dušan to Slobodan Milošević.

“Basically, such attitude is petty-political and racist. It is not shared by the majority of western historians or politicians but is loudly advocated by them,” Antić concludes and recalls:

“It was Germany that wanted the war, to wit – its elites. That has long been proved by German historian Fritz Fischer, while nowadays that view is shared by 90 percent of world historians.”

Serbian historian Andrej Mitrović has clearly proved that Austro-Hungary was to blame for the war against Serbia, its aspirations since 1878 to turn Serbian into a colony, and since 1907 to abolish it is as a state.

“Serbia did not have an official plan for the liberation and unity of the Serb people. Austro-Hungary abused the informal plan of Ilija Garašanin, which had not been Serbia’s foreign policy plan since 1868 nor had it been any threat to it, in order to prove Serbia’s ill intent,” Antić stated in the interview with Srna.