Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNumérosVol. 17 n° 1DossierRemembering Serbia’s Balkan Wars ...

Dossier

Remembering Serbia’s Balkan Wars in Pictures and Words

Le souvenir des Guerres balkaniques en Serbie en images et en mots
Melissa Bokovoy

Résumés

Pendant et immédiatement après les Guerres balkaniques, différents types de récits visuels ont émergé en Serbie pour décrire ces conflits : le périodique illustré, représenté par Balkanski rat [La Guerre balkanique], des expositions photographiques, des cartes postales ainsi que des annexes constituées de collages photographiques d’atrocités présumées commises par les belligérants des Guerres balkaniques. Les trois premières formes ont été créées pour un public national et une diffusion parmi les élites militaires et civiles de Serbie ; la dernière pour les gouvernements étrangers et leurs publics. Ces matériaux visuels ont contribué à forger un récit officiel décrivant la Serbie comme luttant pour la libération des Serbes de l’Empire ottoman (indépendamment de l’identification réelle des peuples de la Macédoine ottomane) au cours de la Première Guerre balkanique et, au cours de la Seconde, comme une entité en lutte contre les ambitions territoriales bulgares.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction: Framing violence

  • 1 In 1914, Dimitrijević was head of the secret society Crna ruka [Black Hand], which would be implica (...)
  • 2 For a recent discussion of Balkan War reporting see, Michailidis Iakovos, “Reporting from the Front (...)
  • 3 Tomić Jaša, Rat na Kosovu i staroj Srbiji [The war in Kosovo and Old Serbia], Novi Sad, Miletić, 19 (...)
  • 4 Zeković Marina, Ratni slikari, fotografi amateri i dopisnici fotografi u srpskoj vojsci 1914-1918 [ (...)

1At the beginning of the First Balkan War in October 1912, the Serbian government and its military high command purposefully limited the press’s access to the battlefield to control the flow of information and visual imagery from the front. Framing the violence of war began that October when the chief of Serbian Intelligence, Dragutin Dimitrijević-Apis (1876-1917), invited the photojournalist Rista Marjanović (1885-1969) to document the experiences of Serbian soldiers.1 Marjanović, who took a leave of absence from his job as illustrations editor at the European edition of the New York Herald (Paris), was one of forty-five journalists representing newspapers from France, Germany, United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, Austria-Hungary, Scandinavia, Russia, and the British Isles. Of these, the British correspondents “were by far the majority, since almost all British newspapers sent correspondents.”2 Jaša Tomić (1856-1922), a Serbian journalist, publisher, and politician from Novi Sad, noted that the Serbian general staff only permitted journalists to travel with the army and could not strike out on their own.3 Limiting access to journalists and photographers in war zones had been undertaken relatively recently by Britain and other European states. The practice began in the late nineteenth century during colonial wars; it was adopted by all sides during the First World War. In Serbia’s case, lessons learned during the Balkan Wars were codified in a series of orders issued before the start of war in Serbia in August 1914.4

2Being a sympathetic and influential voice from one of the leading Austro-Hungarian Serbian newspapers, Zastava [The Flag], Tomić, along with other journalists, would eventually be allowed to accompany the Serbian Third Army moving south into Ottoman territory, the Vilayet of Kosovo. In October 1912 the Serbian government and military considered that allowing the media full access to the battlefield would result in stories that would shape public opinion, not necessarily within Serbia, but among Serbia’s allies and supporters.

  • 5 See Todorova Maria, Imagining the Balkans, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 117.

3Maria Todorova has argued that in the decades leading up to the Balkan Wars, Western opinion makers – journalists, historians, diplomats, and travel writers – had turned their attention to the region and focused on the rivalries between Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia and their jockeying for coveted territory in the Ottoman Empire’s remaining European territories – Bosnia, Hercegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Thrace. Western papers often wrote about the competing factions employing clandestine and secretive tactics to destabilize the region and gain political, diplomatic, and territorial advantage. She notes, “The image of the Balkans brought to the fore violence as their central, and heretofore not dominant, feature.”5 Thus, framing and defining the nature of violence perpetrated on others or the violence perpetrated on one’s own populations mattered and had to be framed and cast in terms of tragedy, suffering, sacrifice, heroism, righteousness, or brutality. In representing the events of the Balkan Wars, photographs and their display became increasingly influential in shaping and framing public perceptions and opinion about the conduct and nature of war.

  • 6 Prior to the Balkan Wars, Dušan Šijački worked as a journalist for the Serbian Social Democratic Pa (...)
  • 7 Consumers of postcards, postcard sets, and periodicals during this period were literate, well-to-do (...)
  • 8 There are different spellings of Samson Černov’s name, and he appears also as Sampson Tchernoff and (...)
  • 9 There is extensive literature on the rise of illustrated news and their impact on shaping public op (...)

4During and after the Balkan Wars, different types of visual narratives of the wars emerged in Serbia: an illustrated periodical, Balkanski rat u slici i reči [The Balkan War in pictures and words]; postcards; and photographic appendices of alleged atrocities committed by the belligerents the Balkan Wars. Dušan Šijački (1882-1958), a Belgrade journalist born in Vojvodina, founded and published Balkanski rat.6 Local publishing firms bought photographs taken on the frontlines and began to sell postcards for Serbia’s domestic audience and dissemination among Serbia’s military and civil elites.7 Some of the postcards utilized the photographs of two influential war photographers: Rista Marjanović (mentioned above) and Samson Černov (1887-1929), both of whom were special correspondents for the French journal, L’Illustration. Černov was a Russian Jew with French citizenship, who had been sent to Serbia by the Russian newspapers Novoe Vremya and Russkoe Slovo.8 After the war, the belligerents published reports about alleged atrocities committed by their enemies and featured both published and unpublished photographs of gruesome wounds, traumatized rape victims, and mutilated bodies with accompanying captions and text. Šijački was the first Serbian publisher to use images to amplify the text in order to “witness” war. His use of photographs added emphasis and emotion to the accompanying news story which not only advanced and relied on the literacy of the readers of daily newspapers but also provided visual aid to illiterate readers.9

  • 10 This point that the Balkan Wars and the use of propaganda was a “prelude” to the First World War is (...)
  • 11 Ibid., p. 760.
  • 12 Sontag Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others, New York, Picador, 2003.

5The First World War or the Spanish Civil War are often cited as the conflicts which first paired war and photography for ideological and propaganda purposes. Recently, scholars of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 have demonstrated these wars as earlier examples in which journalists and others centered images and paired them with words to shape deliberately domestic and foreign interpretations of a conflict.10 As Y. Doğan Çetinkaya argues, the states at war not only tried to convince the Great Powers of their righteousness, but “their own publics that their cause was just and legitimate.”11 Çetinkaya has detailed how nationalist literary and cultural elites in the countries at war published magazines and newspapers and produced postcards, calendars, and pamphlets to mobilize the home front, to galvanize people’s emotions, and to rally the nation around its leaders and national army. In addition, photographs and their display fulfilled a powerful role in framing the conflict to an international audience, to allow those far from the Balkans to “see” the belligerents, the violence, the atrocities, and the “pain of others.”12

  • 13 Konjikušić Davor, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (eds), Red Glow: Yugoslav Partisan Photography and Social (...)

6This article focuses on the mobilization efforts of the Serbian political, cultural, and literary elites during the Balkan Wars to wage a propaganda war by focusing on the production, display, captioning, and distribution of photographs and “pictures.”13 From these visual materials emerged an official Serbian narrative depicting Serbia as fighting for the liberation of its peoples and for the reclamation of historic (medieval) territory from the Ottoman Turks (in the First Balkan War), and , from possible oppression by Bulgaria (in the Second). In addition, these narratives established roles for the wars’ participants: Petar I and his heir, Prince Aleksandar, as the commander-liberators; the Serbian army as avengers of earlier battles, both medieval and more recent; enemies as uncivilized, barbarous, savage, primitive, and cowardly; Serbian women as selfless, compassionate, and comforting mothers and helpmates during the wars; Serbian society as mobilized and ready for sacrifice and victory; civilians as innocents, victims, and martyrs; and the Ottoman territories and their inhabitants as liberated. Eventually, the Serbian state, its ruling elites, and dynasty turned wartime propaganda into a story that was deployed to reinforce Serbia’s right to rule “Southern Serbia,” justify its policies of Serbianization and military rule between 1912-1915, deny other national identities, and combat their opponents.

  • 14 Spenneman Dirk H. R details how postcards are created for the consumption of specific consumers and (...)
  • 15 Caroline Brothers utilizes Hall and Barthes to argue for the ideological function of Spanish Civil (...)
  • 16 Sontag, Regarding the Pain, op. cit., p. 39.
  • 17 Ibid. Spennemann and others discuss how postcards and images from European and US colonial wars and (...)

7In this special issue exploring the cultural history of the Balkan Wars, I will discuss photographs and images in relation to how they were displayed in Serbian publications, how their meanings were constructed and for what purposes, and how Serbian cultural, political, and military elites deployed photographs as instruments of nationalist ambitions and policies.14 Exploring the concept of photojournalism’s objectivity in relation to the first of Europe’s twentieth-century wars is another objective of this article. Susan Sontag, Stuart Hall, Roland Barthes, and other scholars have challenged the concept of photojournalism’s objectivity. In different ways, each discusses the ideological function of images and how they are displayed. Hall notes that how the photographs are cropped, captioned, and displayed on the page, surrounded by words, is a highly ideological procedure. Photojournalism, as Roland Barthes argues, has as its intent the creation of a message but it is not the photographer’s intentions that determine the meaning of the photograph. He asserts that the message is defined by its information source, transmitter, channel, receiver, and destination.15 And Susan Sontag notes that once the photographer develops the photo, “it will have its own career, blown by the whims and loyalties of the diverse communities who have used it.”16 In this article, I examine the “career” of the photograph, from its framing by the photographer, to the military and cultural unit which approved it, the publisher authorized to disseminate it, and its intended audience. My intent is to explore how the “career” of photographs, when paired with words, contributed to Serbia’s nationalist and expansionist discourses during the Balkan Wars, the construction of the Karađorđević dynasty as “liberators,” Serbian narratives of victimization at the hands of the religious and ethnic others, and the denial of Serbian atrocities, war crimes, and territorial transgressions. The consumers and viewers of this messaging were not the inhabitants of the newly conquered (Ottoman) territories but Serbia’s nationalist elites who claimed that these territories were historically and culturally part of the Serbian patrimony, both in the medieval past and in the present.17

A weekly illustrated paper: The Balkan War in Pictures and Words

8During the six-week armistice of the First Balkan War (December 1912-January 1913), Dušan Šijački began publishing Balkanski rat as a weekly periodical. The cover of the first issue featured a drawing of Petar I Karađorđević sitting astride a horse and staring confidently at the reader; the portrait was superimposed on a map of Macedonia. (Figure 1) The four feet of the horse were squarely planted in the region south of the marked city, Skoplje (Skopje), signifying not only the successful conquest of Macedonia but also the conquest of all regions further south. This image, over time, gave way to Marjanović’s image of a frail, vulnerable, and elderly king, leading a column of his defeated army into exile during the First World War. (Figure 2)

Figure 1. Cover of First Issue of Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words]

Figure 1. Cover of First Issue of Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči, Broj 1, 20 januara 1913

Credit: Dušan Šijački, editor, Balkanski rat; Authorization: Public Domain
Photo Credit: Rista Marjanović, 1916; Authorization: Photography courtesy of the Military Museum [
Vojni Muzej], Belgrade Serbia.

Figure 2. Prelazak srpske vojske preko Vezirova mosta [Crossing of the Serbian army over the Vizier’s Bridge]

Figure 2. Prelazak srpske vojske preko Vezirova mosta [Crossing of the Serbian army over the Vizier’s Bridge]

Photo Credit: Rista Marjanović, 1916; Authorization: Photography courtesy of the Military Museum (Vojni Muzej), Belgrade Serbia.

  • 18 “Balkanski rat” [The Balkan War], Balkanski rat u slici i reči [The Balkan War in Pictures and Word (...)
  • 19 “Književnost” [Literature], Srpske Novine [Serbian Newspaper], 3 August 1913, p. 3.
  • 20 Ružesković Saša, “Samson Černov i Balkanski ratovi” [Samson Černov and the Balkan Wars], Srpske Stu (...)
  • 21 Publishing and subvention requests were made to the Ministry of Education and to the Royal Court du (...)

9In the inaugural issue, Šijački carefully laid out photographs, illustrations, sketches, portraits, articles, and historical matter on the page to detail the accomplishments of the Serbian army, its leaders, officer corps, and hero-soldiers who had bravely and valiantly fought to “liberate all of the Christians in the Balkans from five centuries of slavery.”18 He later pitched the magazine as “the most beautiful of our commemorative volumes of the war in pictures and words; it provides broad coverage of all the battles and conflicts of the Serbian army from the march to the border to demobilization, this is a rich all around picture of all our struggles from Jedrene [Adrianople/Edirne] to the Adriatic.”19 Much of Balkanski rat celebrated Serbia’s victories and conquests, often detailing how quickly the First Army, led by Crown Prince Aleksandar, defeated the Ottoman armies on the battlefields of Kumanovo, Prilep, and Bitola in Ottoman Macedonia; how the Third Army entered Priština in Ottoman Kosovo and then sent several of its divisions into northern and central Albania to secure these territories and to Alessio [Lezha/Lješ], an Ottoman Albanian port on the Adriatic; and how the Ibar Army easily entered Novi Pazar and came to control the other cities in the Sandžak. Not to be forgotten was a division of the Second Army, the Danube Division, which fought with the Bulgarians at the siege of Adrianople (October 1912-March 1913) in Eastern Thrace. By the time of the armistice in December 1912, and before Šijački published the first issue of Balkanski rat, the Serbian army had surpassed its military and territorial ambitions, not only defeating the Ottoman armies in northern Macedonia and Kosovo, and securing this land for Serbia, but occupying southern Macedonia, the Sandžak, and northern Albania to the Adriatic. Marjanović detailed the path of Aleksandar and the First Army while Černov followed the Danube Division to Adrianople. Šijački often displayed their photographs in the pages of Balkanski rat and both Marjanović and Černov published in L’Illustration.20 Eventually some of their photographs became part of larger exhibitions, reproduced as postcards, re-purposed during the First World War, and then published in war albums commemorating the Balkan Wars and the First World War during the interwar period.21

  • 22 First issue is Balkanski rat u slici i reči [The Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20 Januar (...)
  • 23 “Sa bojnog polja” [From the battlefield] in ibid., p. 10.
  • 24 Ibid., p. 10-11.
  • 25 “Sa osvećenoga Kosova” [From avenged Kosovo] in ibid., p. 5. Jovanović, a member of the Serbian Aca (...)
  • 26 An excellent article on the obituary section is Ženariu Ivana, Balkanski rat u slici i reči: ‘Koso (...)

10The first issue of Balkanski rat interspersed photographs and sketches among the articles about battles and heroic personages, obituaries for “the Kosovo avengers,” and speeches from official Serbia, that is from the royals, politicians, or members of the general staff.22 A collage of pictures and sketches in the centerfold of the first issue complemented the text on the following page which numbered and described each picture: 1. Serbian infantry in trenches; 2. Serbian troops marching triumphantly into Prilep; 3. The Serbian army appears in the mountains of Albania; 4. Turkish troops in their trenches; 5. Turkish troops at Kumanovo; and 6. Serbian troops after their victory at Kumanovo and the enemy under siege and then in retreat. (Figure 3) Drawings and photographs placed within the first issue’s sixteen pages represented each theater of the war, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, and eastern Thrace.23 The images were not only captioned but on one page of each issue, the editors provided an explanatory paragraph for each image.24 Two photographs from the photojournalist and artist, Paja Jovanović (1859-1957), populated a page captioned “From Avenged Kosovo.”25 (Figure 4) At the end of the first issue, Šijački explained that Balkanski rat would feature photographs of, and information about, fallen officers and soldiers who sacrificed themselves to liberate southern Serbia from the Ottomans with a section titled, “Kosovski osvetnici” [Kosovo avengers].26

Figure 3. Sa Bojnog Polja [From the Battlefield]

Figure 3. Sa Bojnog Polja [From the Battlefield]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 10.

Photo Credit: None; Authorization: Public Domain

Figure 4. Sa osvećenog Kosova [From Avenged Kosovo]

Figure 4. Sa osvećenog Kosova [From Avenged Kosovo]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 5.

Photo Credit: Paja Jovanović; Authorization: Public Domain

  • 27 The mythical figures are: Kosovo Maiden and the Mother of the Jugovići, the medieval persons of Que (...)

11Emerging from the pages of Balkanski rat during its year-long publication were distinct narrative strands, almost all of which appeared in visual material produced during and after the First World War: the liberator king; the Crown Prince as successful military commander in the field; Serbian military commanders as heirs to the hajduk tradition of fighting infidels and conquerors; the loyal, tough, and patriotic Serbian peasant soldier; the selfless, fearless, compassionate, courageous, and victim-martyr Serbian woman (depicted often as mythical figures from Serbia’s past or as nurses);27 the regions of Serbia’s newly conquered territories titled as “New Serbia,” “Old Serbia,” or simply as “Serbia”; and the avenging of the Battle of Kosovo and other medieval and more recent battles.

  • 28 “Na svetom mestu” [In a Holy Place], Balkanski rat u slici i reči, no 11, 31 March 1913, p. 167.
  • 29 For a discussion of these sites see: Bokovoy Melissa, “Scattered Graves, Ordered Cemeteries: Commem (...)

12Honoring and caring for the dead, those who made the ultimate sacrifice, was an important visual story to tell. The inaugural issue of Balkanski rat featured two photographs of a battlefield strewn with bodies, but subsequent issues avoided such scenes. Instead, the visual field of death was represented by photographs of grave markers and funeral services. In the March 1913 issue, Šijački displayed a photograph of freshly dug graves marked by crosses with two priests standing among them.28 The photograph is captioned, “Junačko groblje na Nagoričinu,” [Heroes’ Cemetery at Nagoričino (Mlado Nagoričane)], and the accompanying text named the dead and the battle, Kumanovo, in which they fell. The presence of the priests as mourners in the photograph, coupled with the textual naming of the dead and the unambiguous declaration of the dead as heroes, produced a memory vector that promised the reader that these soldiers would not be forgotten, despite the hastily erected crosses and improvised burials. (Figure 5) Eventually, remains from some “scattered graves” and hastily demarcated cemeteries were exhumed during the interwar period, and remains were transferred to military cemeteries and ossuaries.29

Figure 5. Na svetom mestu [In a Holy Place]

Figure 5. Na svetom mestu [In a Holy Place]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 5.

Photo Credit: None; Authorization: Public Domain

  • 30 “Srpski osvajači Jedrena” [Serbian Conquerors of Jedrene (Adrianople/Edirne)], Balkanski rat u slic (...)
  • 31 Ibid.
  • 32 For a discussion of cultural templates from the medieval period, see Frantzen Allen J., Bloody Good (...)

13In another issue, also in the centerfold, the editor once again presents a photograph of death remembered: crosses stand in a makeshift graveyard, enclosed by barbed wire. Immediately outside the fence stand a crude altar and a priest; beyond him stands General Stepanović of the Second Army, Commander Mihailo Rašić of the Danube Division of the Second Army, other high-ranking officers, and troops who assisted the Bulgarian army in laying siege to Adrianople [Edirne/Jedrene].30 In the caption, Šijački gives this moment additional poignancy and significance: “The Serbian Army before their return to the Fatherland pays its respects to their fallen comrades of the siege of Adrianople and to the fallen heroes of King Vukašin in the Maritsa Catastrophe near Černomen.”31 (Figure 6) The latter reference is to Vukašin Mrnjavčević (r.1365-1371) who ruled central Macedonia from Prilep and led a coalition army comprised of approximately 70,000 men from his territory and that of his brother against a much smaller Ottoman Turkish army. The two armies met at the Maritsa River on 26 September 1371, where the Serbian forces were routed and Vukašin was killed. The blending of past and present historical events was not unique to the Serbian treatment of war photographs. Allen J. Frantzen, a literary historian, shows how a wide selection of literature and images from the medieval period was used by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, journalists, and painters, in Great Britain and Germany, to shape the ideals of duty, sacrifice, and heroism; and to rouse citizens and “teach them how to war.”32

Figure 6. Srpski osvajači Jedrena [Serbian Conquerors of Jedrene (Adrianople/Edirne)]

Figure 6. Srpski osvajači Jedrena [Serbian Conquerors of Jedrene (Adrianople/Edirne)]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 10, 24.03.1913, p. 152.

Photo Credit: None; Authorization: Public Domain

  • 33 Bozanich Stevan, “Masculinity and Mobilised Folklore: The Image of the Hajduk in the Creation of th (...)

14Šijački utilized similar tropes and techniques described in Frantzen’s study. Interspersed among the pages of Balkanski rat were photographs of military officers – some on horseback, in parade uniforms, and swords always at their sides. He also displayed several photographs, sketches, and paintings featuring Serbian leaders of “irregular” forces wearing traditional hajduk dress. The horse, the sword, and the hajduk poise were all visual strategies used to invoke an idealized martial masculinity – the cavalry as an army’s offensive weapon; Serbian soldiers as stoic and indomitable; and the hajduks as epic heroes and resistors of Ottoman rule.33 In reality, early twentieth-century infantry soldiers bore little resemblance to the fictionalized and mythic knights of oral and written epics. The typical Serbian peasant soldier, mobilized for the First Balkan War, was nothing like those pictured; he wore rough-hewn trousers and a tunic, carried a rifle instead of a sword, and in place of the highly polished boots of officers, he wore the durable but handmade opanci.

15By the end of 1913, Balkanski rat ceased publication. Throughout the year, Šijački had implored subscribers to keep up their payments and for those reading it to buy their own copies. However, the economic toll of war had left Serbia and the other belligerents on the brink of economic disaster; the conscription of over 1.3 million men had slowed and even halted industrial and agricultural production. Yet, Balkanski rat served as the template for Šijački six years later when he published a new illustrated magazine immediately after the First World War while living in Switzerland as a displaced person. This magazine, Vidovdan, commemorated Serbia’s participation in the First World War and maintained all the strategies from his earlier journal. Vidovdan too was only briefly published, but the content, photographs, and even the journals themselves would be reprinted during the 1920s and 1930s as publishers sought content for commemorative publications such as albums, calendars, and books that commemorated the Balkan Wars and Serbia’s participation in the First World War. In these later iterations of commemorative albums, the heroic and the martial warrior emerged as the dominant tropes; missing were images that reminded the reader of their dead.

Photographing the dead

16A genre of images emerging from the Balkan Wars were photographs of dead and mutilated bodies, destroyed villages and houses, and brutalities visited upon civilian populations. Predominantly displayed in the illustrated magazines of Europe or in pamphlets and reports on atrocities, these photographs offered the viewer “proof” of the enemy’s inhumanity, barbarity, and brutality. The enemy was not an honorable combatant, equal to one’s own army or soldier, but a “perpetrator of atrocities.” Moreover, the enemy committed atrocities not on individuals or local communities but on an entire nation – Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek, or Turkish. Each Balkan state sought to establish truth claims and to discredit the claims of the other states; each permitted photojournalists, after reviewing their photographs, to publish the photographs in publications across the continent. Displaying anguish and suffering meant that a belligerent nation could advance its truth claims to secure its territorial and nationalist goals. European photojournalists witnessed and provided evidence for such claims, even going so far as to publish their signatures under photographs of alleged atrocities. (Figure 7)

Figure 7. “Le dossier des massacres d’otages par les Bulgares”

Figure 7. “Le dossier des massacres d’otages par les Bulgares”

Page signed by Jean Leune (L’Illustration), Georges Bourdon (Figaro), and Bernard Leporte (New York Herald)
Source: Supplément à L’Illustration du 2.08.1913.

Photo Credit: Jean Leune; Authorization: No issue copyright renewals were found for this serial.

  • 34 Horne John, Kramer Alan, German Atrocities, 1914. A History of Denial, New Haven, Yale University P (...)

17The nationalists in Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria argued that the territory over which they fought contained members of their own national community and that their enemies were burning and destroying villages of the ethnic other to intimidate them into abandoning their homes and lands. Disproportionally composed of women, children, and the elderly, these vulnerable populations faced the invader who used rape and mutilation to humiliate the opposing nation.34 Since nationalists ascribed to women the role of nurturing the national citizen by tending for a nation’s young, nursing her children at her breast while telling them stories of national greatness and caring for its brave heroes, photographing and publishing images of violated women and children carried the message of a violated body politic and national victimization.

18John Horne and Alan Kramer have argued about similar atrocities committed only a year later in Belgium by the Imperial German army in their study of German atrocities during the First World War,

  • 35 Ibid., p. 302.

The “atrocities” permitted a sense of national victimhood to be derived from the fate of individual people and places in three ways. First was the exposure of women, children, and families to the brutality of the invader. Second was the destruction of localities. Third was the need for remembrance of the invasion as the war was still in progress. All three dimensions provided ways of defining the national community in terms of suffering and outrage.35

  • 36 L’Illustration, 2 August 1913.
  • 37 Leune Jean, “Quatre des quarante-deux jeunes filles de Demir Hissar outragées par les Bulgares,” Ph (...)

19As the Second Balkan War (16 June 1913-10 August 1913) was ending, the first photographs of atrocities began circulating in European papers. L’Illustration published a supplement to its 2 August 1913 issue with “additional pages on the massacres in Macedonia.”36 The editor had picked a photograph by René Puaux, a correspondent for Le Temps who had photographed four women beneath a tree who had “lost everything”. The smaller caption identified them as “Greek women from Doxato, whose sons and husbands were massacred by the Bulgarians, and their homes looted and burned.” (Figure 8) Inside the supplement, the French reader was confronted with a photograph of four more women looking directly into the photographer’s lens who represented the forty-two women of Demir Hissar “outraged” by the Bulgarians.37 (Figure 9) The images, captions, and the enticement of “additional pages” detailing atrocities allowed the French reader to identify perpetrators and victims in this war.

Figure 8. Celles qui ont tout perdu

Figure 8. Celles qui ont tout perdu

Source: L’Illustration, 2.08.1913, cover.

Photo Credit: René Puaux ; Authorization: No issue copyright renewals were found for this serial.

Figure 9. Quatre des quarante-deux jeunes filles de Demir Hissar outragées par les Bulgares

Figure 9. Quatre des quarante-deux jeunes filles de Demir Hissar outragées par les Bulgares

The accompanying text by Lette Leune makes no mention of the “outrages.”
Source: Supplément à
L’Illustration du 2.08.1913.

Photo Credit: J. Leune; Authorization: No issue copyright renewals were found for this serial.

20Although the war was short, photographs reached publication quickly enough to impact viewers’ opinions. By 1912, the Kodak portable was available and utilized: photographs were developed quickly behind the lines, reviewed, and sent to be published. During the two-month conflict, Bulgaria challenged both Greece and Serbia for control of Macedonia. As Bulgaria’s troops invaded and then retreated they did target civilians, as captured by the photographs in Le Temps and other European newspapers. Yet stories and accusations of atrocities also meted out by Greeks, Serbs, and Montenegrins during both the First and Second Balkan Wars soon reached European capitals and Washington, D.C.

  • 38 Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, W (...)
  • 39 Ibid., p. 264.

21In August 1913, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace dispatched seven investigators – one each from Austria-Hungary, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States, and two from France.38 The Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars concluded, “From the first to the last, in both wars, the fighting was desperate as though extermination were the end sought. However glorious the public accounts appeared the Turkish war and the war of Allies constituted a ghastly chapter of horrors.”39 The Commission limited the number of photographs to forty-nine and less than ten of the photographs showed “horrors.”

  • 40 Report of the International Commission, op. cit., p. 78 and 136.

22The belligerent nations did not show such restraint when presenting evidence to bolster their claims of national victimhood. Photographic images of dead and mutilated bodies, bombed and destroyed villages, and “outraged” women circulated among the belligerents through their own papers, exhibitions, and published reports. The Serbian and Greek governments and their armies were particularly adept at framing the violence of the enemies against civilian populations. These governments had welcomed war correspondents and the Serbian High Command instructed its officers and soldiers to note any possible offense, brutality, or atrocity committed against them or Serbian populations during the war.40 From photographs, reports, and dispatches of war correspondents and their own soldiers, the Serbian government had sufficient material to rebut the Carnegie report.

  • 41 Bulgarian Atrocities: An Appeal to the Civilized World, Belgrade, Servian Press Association, 1913.
  • 42 Zaïmis Theodōros, Atrocités bulgares en Macédoine (Faits et documents), Athènes, Imprimerie Hest (...)
  • 43 de Penennrun Alain, 40 jours de guerre dans les Balkans: la campagne serbo-bulgare en juillet 1913, (...)
  • 44 Parlitcheff C., Les Atrocités serbes en Macédoine (1912-1915) avec 20 portraits joints au texte. (...)

23In early December 1913, the Serbian press association published the first of many pamphlets about the atrocities. Titled Bulgarian Atrocities, this pamphlet was an “appeal to the civilized world.”41 Published in Belgrade but in English and then made available to the Western public, the pamphlet neutralized or disputed the information being collected by the Carnegie commission. The Greek government also quickly published a similarly titled pamphlet, Atrocités bulgares en Macédoine, but in French.42 Alain de Penennrun, a French journalist who wrote for L’Illustration and followed Serbia’s First Army and its commander, Prince Aleksandar, published his account and photographs of the Second Balkan War, 40 jours de guerre dans les Balkans, in early 1914.43 In a last gasp to plead Bulgaria’s case after the First World War, a publishing house in Sofia published the pamphlet, Les Atrocités serbes en Macédoine (1912-1915), a shortened version of the book Le Régime serbe et la lutte révolutionnaire en Macédoine, which was published two years earlier.44

24In all these reports and accounts, photographs accompanied the testimony of eyewitnesses such as war correspondents, foreign consuls, doctors, soldiers, local notables, and victims. The photographs, if they had been published without captions and accounts, tell a story of unimaginable brutality, unleashed pillaging and plundering, and unspeakable violence against women. Yet when accompanied by text and captions written by different parties, they tell a story of a specific national victimhood. In the pamphlet prepared by the Servian [sic] Press Association, whose members included academics, active and former members of the Skupština and various government ministries, editors for major Serbian publications, and a foreign journalist, the authors framed the photographic and testimonial evidence in the preface by stating,

  • 45 Bulgarian Atrocities, Belgrade, op. cit., p. 1 and 2.

The Bulgars carried on their campaign as though everything was permissible towards the enemy and regardless of human or divine law…. It [Bulgarian civilization] has revealed a primitive and savage nature as yet unable to adapt itself to the conditions of modern, civilized warfare and which prevents them from behaving towards their neighbors with the most ordinary decency.45

  • 46 Horne, Kramer, German Atrocities, op. cit., p. 307.
  • 47 Leune Lette [Hélène],“Les crimes bulgares de Demir Hissar et Serrès,” Supplément à L’Illustration, (...)

25The implication of the preface was that the Serbian nation was the victim of an “uncivilized, barbarous, savage, and primitive Bulgaria.” Photographic evidence utilized in the Serbian pamphlet, often attributed to foreign correspondents, depicted dead and mutilated bodies as well as burnt and destroyed villages. Photographs of the physical destruction, when captioned, became evidence of how the Bulgarians and others deliberately targeted buildings that symbolized a community’s identity, such as an Orthodox church or a mosque. The villages found along the contested borders possessed local identities and it was in the interest of each belligerent to connect these villages and inhabitants to their nation.46 Hélène Leune, correspondent for L’Illustration and Jean Leune’s wife, wrote of “martyred villages” of Greek peasants where one Greek woman told her that her father had died, “smiling at Greater Greece.”47

  • 48 Michailidis, “Reporting from the Frontline,” art. cit., p. 123.
  • 49 Bulgarian Atrocities, Belgrade, op. cit., p. 2.
  • 50 Brailsford Henry Noël, Macedonia: Its Races and their Future, London, Methuen, 1906, p. xi., in Tod (...)
  • 51 “Oui, dès le début, cette guerre apparaît acharnée et sauvage. Les uns et les autres sont de rudes (...)
  • 52 Ibid., p. 141.

26The presence of “objective” observers on the battlefront who witnessed the violence endured by civilians added weight to each side’s claim of atrocities. What was not revealed about these observers is that their presence, their photographs, and their reporting were subject to review and censorship by the different militaries.48 War correspondents, soldiers, doctors, and consular officials photographed the atrocities and destruction visited upon villages of Bulgarians, Albanians, Serbs, Turks, and Macedonians. Yet, the brutality of the acts displayed for the reading public had to be explained. As explicit and gruesome as the photographs were, the photographs could not be left unmediated, and thus the editors, correspondents, and others employed the linguistic strategy of binaries – civilized peoples versus primitive and savage – to inscribe the photograph with a “truth” of what happened. The Servian Press Association wanted to educate the English-speaking public about the Bulgarians whom they considered to be less civilized than themselves as they opined that the Bulgarians in the recent war “revealed a primitive and savage nature”49. In this strategy, the atrocity pictured had to be attributed to a people less civilized, less developed, and less advanced than those who viewed the photograph. To allow photographs of brutalities and cruelties committed by one’s own nation was to admit to similar savage, uncivilized, and primitive behaviors. In the case of the Balkan states, the Great Powers and their elites and publics had already established notions about Balkan behaviors and characteristics. H.N. Brailsford opined in 1903, “There is little to choose in bloody-mindedness between any of the Balkan races, they are all what centuries of Asiatic rule have made them.”50 Or as Alain de Penennrun, the French correspondent for L’Illustration, wrote in 1913 and quoted in the Carnegie report, “From the beginning this great war was savage, passionate. Both sides are rude men and knowing them as I know them, I have the right to say that they are adversaries worthy of one another.”51 The Carnegie report echoed Penennrun’s opinion by writing about the opening of the Second Balkan War thus, “The ‘savage war’ opened in a way that was savage in the highest degree.”52

  • 53 Horne, Kramer, German Atrocities, op. cit., p. 262.

27The reports and dispatches coming from the region often attributed the violence less to the conditions of the disintegration of the Ottoman Europe, competing territorial claims, and the ideology of the “great” idea executed so effectively by the Italians and Germans in the nineteenth century, and more to an inherent characteristic of the region’s savagery. Given such attitudes, the published accounts and reports of atrocities became a battleground where warring parties pleaded their victimization to the court of world opinion, or as some wrote, an appeal to the “civilized world.” The sponsor and writers of such pamphlets believed “the meaning of the war could be judged by some absolute standard of truth, blame could be assigned, and a hierarchy of suffering and victimization established.” In contrast, as Horne and Kramer conclude, the Carnegie report set out with the idea that the conflicting narratives of atrocity could, and should, be resolved in one “accurate account,” condemning all belligerents and casting them as uncivilized others.53

  • 54 See Yavuz Hakan M., Blumi Isa (eds), War and Nationalism: The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913 and their Soci (...)

28In the case of the presentation of atrocity to the European public, editors were not willing to leave the images unmediated. Left uncaptioned, a reading public might think about the grisly and universal consequences of war. Instead, mediation as well as the existing discourse on the Balkans allowed the viewer in other parts of Europe to believe that this type of warfare was specific to the region, a type of war alien to their own nation. For the Serbs who viewed these photographs, most likely military and reserve officers, the small urban middle class, and possibly local village elites, the photographs, framed as they were by sympathetic supporters of the state, only served to reinforce their belief in the righteousness of their “return” to their medieval lands. The visual story of atrocities being told in Serbia ignored, obscured, and erased the destruction of villages and the killing and mutilation of civilians and soldiers committed by their own troops and supporters. Reports and photographs of Serbian violence and depravity toward Albanian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian villages and populations were refuted publicly by Serbian officials and disappeared completely from Serbian public discussion during the interwar years.54

Circulating memories

  • 55 Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia] has an excellent postcard collection and expl (...)

29Another part of this visual culture of war in the Balkans was the picture postcard. As others have noted, the picture postcard was one of the most important instruments for informing multiple publics about the events happening in the Balkans. The first postcards appeared in Serbia in 1896 and showed pictures of Serbian towns. Publishing houses in Serbia and elsewhere had developed the ability to print multiple copies of photographs. This processing technique allowed paintings, drawings, etchings, and photographs showing famous personages, cities and towns, events, and ceremonies to be published in large quantities. Postcards not only became an inexpensive way to send a greeting or a thought but through the choice of image, the card itself conveyed information about a specific point in time or space.55

  • 56 Vanderwood, “The Picture Postcard as Historical Evidence,” art. cit., p. 202.

30In Serbia, as elsewhere, professional and amateur photographers took photographs, developed them, reproduced multiple copies, and sold them in multiple venues, on the street, in shops, or on the battlefield. During the Balkan Wars, photographs depicting the events of the wars came into use on postcards. Once again, their production, the visual imagery, and distribution set a precedent for their use during the First World War. Postcards, subject to the censor, were used internally as well as sent abroad, informing the European and American publics about events in the Balkans.56

31The producers of these postcards offered a diversity of subjects, artistic styles, and visual material – photographs, sketches, and paintings. The variety and number of postcards circulating during and after the Balkan Wars can be broadly separated into categories: members of the royal family, especially King Petar I and the Crown Prince, Aleksandar; generals and military commanders, including leaders of volunteer units; artillery, infantry, and cavalry divisions readying for battle; advancing Serbian soldiers and pitched battles; the entrance of the victorious Serbian armies into Skopje, Bitola, Prilep, Novi Pazar, Mitrovica, and elsewhere; defeated and vanquished Turkish forces and abandoned positions, guns, and artillery; wounded and dead soldiers; and photographs of the peoples inhabiting the newly captured Ottoman territories. Specific postcards depicted individual soldiers or local units and detachments of the army, Serbian soldiers in action, and groups of nurses and doctors. Still others were sketches and drawings of triumphal events like the Battle of Kumanovo and the retreat of the Turks from Macedonia, the entrance of King Petar into Skopje, Serbian officers on horseback leading their men, schoolboys standing and saluting, and scenes of jubilant town dwellers welcoming Serbian soldiers. Other postcards reproduced paintings or sketches of familiar historical events. Paja Jovanović’s newly painted Osveta Kosova [Avenged Kosovo] became a widely circulated image (Figure 10) as did Vasa Eškićević’s poignant painting of a cavalry officer sitting astride his horse, hat in hand and head bowed, paying his last respects to those left on the battlefield. (Figure 11) Eškićević’s painting titled, Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo] was modeled on a photograph by Marjanović which first appeared in the Vidovdan issue (28 June 1913) of Balkanski rat and then circulated as a postcard. (Figures 12 and 13) In 1934, this image of the officer on the horse was reinscribed with a new meaning when one publishing house used it in a postcard collage of King Aleksandar’s life after his assassination. In this collage, the publisher intended the photograph to be interpreted as Crown Prince Aleksandar paying his last respects to those who had fallen to liberate and unify the South Slavs. (Figure 14)

Figure 10. Osvećeno Kosovo [Avenged Kosovo]

Figure 10. Osvećeno Kosovo [Avenged Kosovo]

Source: Istorijski Muzej Srbije, 152-XII-1a: Paja. Jovanović: Osvećeno Kosovo.

Credit: Paja Jovanović; Authorization: Postcard Image courtesy of the Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia].

Figure 11. Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]

Figure 11. Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]

Source: Istorijski Muzej Srbije, 152-XII-2: Vasa Eškićević: Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom Osvetniku.

Credit: Vasa Eškićević; Authorization: Postcard Image courtesy of the Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia].

Figure 12. Poslednji pozdrav Kosovoskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]

Figure 12. Poslednji pozdrav Kosovoskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]

Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 21, Vidovdan, 1913. p. 329.

Photo Credit: Rista Marjnović; Authorization: Public Domain

Figure 13. Poslednji čas [The Final Honor]

Figure 13. Poslednji čas [The Final Honor]

Source: Rista Marjanović, Ratni album Riste Marjanovića 1912-1915, Gornji Milanovac, Dečje novine, 1987.

Photo Credit: Rista Marjnović; Authorization: Photograph courtesy of the Military Museum [Vojni Muzej], Belgrade, Serbia.

Figure 14. Čuvajte Jugoslaviju; Kralj Aleksandar I. Ujedinitelj pao je kao žrtva zločinačke ruke u Marselju 9-X-1934 g. [Save Yugoslavia; King Alexander I the Unifier fell victim to a criminal hand in Marseilles on 9/10/1934]

Figure 14. Čuvajte Jugoslaviju; Kralj Aleksandar I. Ujedinitelj pao je kao žrtva zločinačke ruke u Marselju 9-X-1934 g. [Save Yugoslavia; King Alexander I the Unifier fell victim to a criminal hand in Marseilles on 9/10/1934]

Source: Personal Collection

Credit: Unknown; Authorization: Public Domain

Resting among the “Greats”

  • 57 Lyon James, “‘A Peasant Mob’: The Serbian Army on the Eve of the Great War,” The Journal of Militar (...)
  • 58 Hall Richard C., The Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War, London-New York, Routle (...)

32Absence, sacrifice, and death became realities for Serbian soldiers and their families during the Balkan Wars. In 1912, 310,000 men were mobilized from Serbia’s population of 3 million. By the end of the Second Balkan War, Serbian casualties numbered 36,550 dead and 55,000 wounded, totaling 82,000; some estimates reach 91,000. The conditions of war, fought in some of the most impoverished regions of Europe, caused outbreaks of cholera and typhus and almost half of the war dead had succumbed to disease. Cholera caused 4,300 deaths and other illnesses, such as typhus, killed another 12,000. In addition, another 3,000 soldiers were killed or wounded while fighting against Austro-Hungarian financed Albanians in northern Albania and the new regions of Serbia.57 In addition, atrocities committed by Serbia’s opponents and by Serbs themselves created a new category of war dead – civilians – such that total casualties were higher on all sides than the reported military deaths.58

33At the end of the Second Balkan War in August 1913, a medium for demonstrating to Serbia’s peasant soldiers that their martial virtue and sacrifice was on par with their leaders appeared – a memorial poster designed to place a picture of an individual soldier alongside Serbian royalty in order to mourn the deceased. The visual material on the poster, official photographic portraits of Petar I, Crown Prince Aleksandar, and his older brother, Đorđe, are surrounded by two white flags with the Serbian coat of arms. Around the poster’s border is a collage of picture postcards from Skopje, Bitola, Drač [Durrës/Durazzo], Prizren, Belgrade, and key battlesites. Two circular photographs of the peoples of Macedonia and Kosovo were linked together by the cropped military relics of the battlefield – swords, rifles, saddles, artillery wagons and guns, drums, and shovels. The caption below reads, “A Souvenir of the Victorious War of the Serbian Army against the Turks 1912-1913.” (Figure 15)

Figure 15. Ratna spomenica [War memento]

Figure 15. Ratna spomenica [War memento]

Source: Srpske Novine [The Serbian Newspaper], 10.08.1913, p. 4

Credit: Izdavačka knjižara Rajkovića i Ćukovića, Beograd; Authorization: Public Domain

  • 59 James Daniel, Lobato Mirta Zaida, “Family Photos, Oral Narratives, and Identity Formation: The Ukra (...)
  • 60 Taylor John, A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination, Manchester, (...)
  • 61 Ibid., p. 34.

34The use of collage combining photographs with other visual media and words transformed the poster into a vehicle that could overcome the narrative limits of an individual photograph.59 The display of the photograph in the middle of this collage was an act that placed the soldier, alive or dead, into a brotherhood of national heroes who had defended, sacrificed, and died for Serbia’s expansion. The lone photograph of a soldier – on a wall, mantle, table, or tombstone –conveyed an altogether different memory to the mourner. As John Taylor noted in his work on photography and the First World War in Britain, “During the war, the [photographic] industry made a virtue out of its ability to produce the illusion that time was fixed in photographs. By apparently stopping the passage of time, the photograph could keep a dead relative in the family.”60 The photograph of the single individual, left unmediated in its frame and stripped of all symbolism of the victory and sacrifice, represented the absence of the living. The inclusion of an individual photograph on this poster “illustrates the transference of an object created for remembering one individual into a collective assemblage where he, or much less often she, becomes one among others.”61 Absent the symbolism in the poster, the viewers of the photograph might possibly inscribe their own meaning and see only tragedy and senselessness in their loved one’s death. Such a memory might counter official Serbia’s efforts to legitimize the Balkan Wars and its achievements.

  • 62 Jelavich Charles, South Slav Nationalisms: Textbooks and Yugoslav Union before 1914, Columbus, Ohio (...)
  • 63 Mosse George, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars, Oxford, Oxford University Pr (...)

35The publishers of this commemorative poster sold their souvenir in a state that had for the last forty years inculcated its youth, through education and cultural institutions and activities, with ideas of loyalty, patriotism, and devotion to Serbia and its historical or mythical homelands. These principles were repeatedly expressed in various forms: in essays, through folk poetry, in accounts of the deeds of national heroes, by simple declarations of individuals, and in proverbs. The student and the new Serbian citizen, after 1878, was told that he should devote his life to his country and that the supreme test of his individual worth was his readiness to sacrifice his life for Serbia.62 This poster therefore allowed families to place their sons in the pantheon of Serbian heroes. It communicated that the men had earned the right to sit with the greats in heaven, for they had avenged Kosovo, spilled their blood for defense of the fatherland, and had liberated the cities and regions represented on the poster. In addition, the images and themes represented on the poster provided the victims, survivors, and mourners from the Balkan Wars a sense of continuity, sympathy, and identity with others who had suffered similar sacrifice and loss.63

Commemorating the Balkan Wars

36Only a single year passed between the end of the Second Balkan War and the outbreak of the First World War. This war transformed the way that the Balkan Wars would be publicly remembered and commemorated after 1918. Immediately after the end of the First World War, the phrase commonly used in Serbian commemoration of its wars was “the wars of national liberation, 1912-1918.” in order to link Serbia’s conquest of Ottoman lands in the Balkan Wars to Serbia’s First World War experiences and the founding of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The phrase had multiple meanings and usages. Depending on the context, liberation could mean liberation of the Serbs from the Ottoman Turks or from the dominance of Austria-Hungary, the driving out of the Germans and Bulgarians from ethnically Serb areas, the liberation of all the South Slavs from their overlords, or a combination of all the above.

37Some of the commemorative practices and acts of remembering have been discussed already. Photographic displays, an illustrated magazine, postcards, a souvenir poster, pamphlets describing atrocities and brutalities, and articles describing the sacrifice of soldiers and the pain of their loved ones circulated within Serbia. These “vectors of memories” existed alongside pageantries of remembrance, either fictional or real.

38As we have seen with photographs taken during the Balkan Wars, images published with accompanying “words” offer an underexplored source for the study of the meaning of the Balkan Wars in Serbia. As visual media, photographs, postcards, and posters signaled particular understandings of Serbia’s nationalist and expansionist goals and success, the Karađorđević dynasty as “liberators,” Serbian narratives of victimization at the hands of the religious and ethnic others, and the denial of Serbian atrocities, war crimes, and territorial transgressions.

  • 64 Barthes Roland, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, New York, Hill and Wang, 1982 [1980], p. (...)

39Roland Barthes reflected on the messages and meanings that press photographs convey. Barthes identified how the photographic message was formed. He examines the source of emission: the photographer, the editor, the staff who lays out the photograph on the page and gives its textual accompaniments. And he examines the channel of the photograph’s transmission – the newspaper, the magazine, or an album of events – as well as its point of reception with the public. He argues that the photograph, at first glance and standing alone, transmits a scene, “a literal reality” but in fact the notion of its objectivity is mythical. Most likely, the photograph has been framed, cropped, constructed, and treated “according to professional aesthetic, or ideological norms.”64

  • 65 Berger John, Ways of Seeing, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1972, p. 10.

40Images and photographs circulating in Serbia’s complex historical, mythical, and physical spaces contributed to the historical and fictional narratives constructed around Serbia’s conquest and liberation of the Ottoman territories during the Balkan Wars. The art critic, John Berger, argued that scholars must tie photography to social and political memory rather than using it as a substitute for them.65 Photographs do not create a memory but in fact resonate with a viewer’s experience and sensibility. The image acquires its meaning to the extent that it finds a corresponding moment in the present. Assembling a series of photographs involves joining the present with the past. The photograph is a material artifact that can provoke an individual memory, yet the image it depicts also functions as a mnemonic device, sustaining the memory and identity of shared experiences within a (national) community. The publisher of Balkanski rat, Šijački, believed that creating photographic archives and displays would sustain the memory of Serbia’s Balkan Wars, reminding those who physically experienced the event and communicating wartime experiences to those who did not. For him, the image and its accompanying inscribed message was vital to the commemoration of war.

Haut de page

Notes

1 In 1914, Dimitrijević was head of the secret society Crna ruka [Black Hand], which would be implicated in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

2 For a recent discussion of Balkan War reporting see, Michailidis Iakovos, “Reporting from the Frontline: The War Correspondents in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913),” Media History, vol. 26, no 2, 2020, p. 122-136. DOI: 10.1080/13688804.2018.1519389.

3 Tomić Jaša, Rat na Kosovu i staroj Srbiji [The war in Kosovo and Old Serbia], Novi Sad, Miletić, 1913, p. 51.

4 Zeković Marina, Ratni slikari, fotografi amateri i dopisnici fotografi u srpskoj vojsci 1914-1918 [War photographers, amateur photographers and correspondent photographers in the Serbian army 1914-1918], Belgrade, Vojni Muzej, 2001.

5 See Todorova Maria, Imagining the Balkans, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 117.

6 Prior to the Balkan Wars, Dušan Šijački worked as a journalist for the Serbian Social Democratic Party’s Radničke novine [The Workers’ Newspaper], and then during the First World War as a war correspondent in Geneva, Paris, and New York for different Serbian papers.

7 Consumers of postcards, postcard sets, and periodicals during this period were literate, well-to-do middle-class cultural, educational, and political elites. See Spenneman Dirk H.R, “The Evidentiary Value of Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Postcards for Heritage Studies,” Heritage, vol. 4, no 3, 2021, p. 1460-1496. DOI: 10.3390/heritage4030081

8 There are different spellings of Samson Černov’s name, and he appears also as Sampson Tchernoff and Samson Tchernof. Černov is the Serbian spelling. For more on Černov and Marjanović, see Bokovoy Melissa, “Framing the Hero: Photographic Narratives of War in the Interwar Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes,” in Mark Cornwall, John Paul Newman (eds), Sacrifice and Regeneration: The Legacy of the Great War in Eastern Europe, New York, Berghahn, 2016, p. 190-220.

9 There is extensive literature on the rise of illustrated news and their impact on shaping public opinions and perceptions. See Barnhurst Kevin G., Nerone John, “Civic Picturing vs. Realist Photojournalism. The Regime of Illustrated News, 1856-1901,” Design Issues, vol. 16, no 1, Spring 2000, p. 59-79; Brake Laurel, Demoo Marysa (eds), The Lure of Illustration in the Nineteenth Century: Picture and Press, Basingstoke-New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009; and Gervais Thierry, “Witness to War: The Uses of Photography in the Illustrated Press, 1855-1904”, Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 9, no 3, 2010, p. 370-384.

10 This point that the Balkan Wars and the use of propaganda was a “prelude” to the First World War is made by Çetinkaya Y. Doğan, “Atrocity Propaganda and the Nationalization of the Masses in the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars (1912-13),” International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 46, no 4 (World War I), November 2014, p. 759-778.

11 Ibid., p. 760.

12 Sontag Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others, New York, Picador, 2003.

13 Konjikušić Davor, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (eds), Red Glow: Yugoslav Partisan Photography and Social Movement, 1941-1945, transl. Andrew Hodges, Berlin-München, Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2021. DOI: 10.1515/9783422986480

14 Spenneman Dirk H. R details how postcards are created for the consumption of specific consumers and how the selection and framing of postcards can convey political messages that the audience at the time would have understood: “The Evidentiary Value of Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Postcards for Heritage Studies,” art. cit.

15 Caroline Brothers utilizes Hall and Barthes to argue for the ideological function of Spanish Civil War photographs. See Brothers Caroline, War and Photography. A Cultural History, New York, Routledge, 2011.

16 Sontag, Regarding the Pain, op. cit., p. 39.

17 Ibid. Spennemann and others discuss how postcards and images from European and US colonial wars and conquests were produced as signs of colonial power for consumers (who were settler colonists and not the inhabitants of the regions conquered and subjugated). For more on the use of postcards and images as evidence and social artefacts See Hoskins Janet, “Postcards from the Edge of Empire: Images and Messages from French Indochina,” SPAFA Journal vol. 18, no 1, 2008, p. 19-25; Vanderwood Paul, “The Picture Postcard as Historical Evidence, Veracruz, 1914,” The Americas, vol. 45, no 2, October 1988, p. 201-222; and Spennemann Dirk H.R., “The Imagery of Postcards sold in Micronesia during the German Colonial Period,” Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 5, no 1/2, 2006, p. 345-374.

18 “Balkanski rat” [The Balkan War], Balkanski rat u slici i reči [The Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20 January 1913, p. 14.

19 “Književnost” [Literature], Srpske Novine [Serbian Newspaper], 3 August 1913, p. 3.

20 Ružesković Saša, “Samson Černov i Balkanski ratovi” [Samson Černov and the Balkan Wars], Srpske Studije [Serbian Studies], vol. 3, 2012, p. 83-101.

21 Publishing and subvention requests were made to the Ministry of Education and to the Royal Court during the interwar period. While Rista Marjanović did request monies for the creation of a war album from the Ministry of Education, it appears that Šijački did not make a similar request for the reissuing of Balkanski rat during the interwar period. For a list of subvention requests to the Royal Court (which gave out subventions for commemorative activities during the interwar period), see Arhiv Jugoslavije (Belgrade) Fond 74 (Dvorska Kancelarija Kralja), Fascikle 98. Marjanović’s request was to the Press Bureau, Arhiv Jugoslavije (Belgrade), Fond 66, Fascikle 631, Jedinica 1041, Rista Marjanović to Press Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Predmet–Piktorijalna Propaganda,” [Subject: Pictorial Propaganda], 5 November 1920.

22 First issue is Balkanski rat u slici i reči [The Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20 January 1913.

23 “Sa bojnog polja” [From the battlefield] in ibid., p. 10.

24 Ibid., p. 10-11.

25 “Sa osvećenoga Kosova” [From avenged Kosovo] in ibid., p. 5. Jovanović, a member of the Serbian Academy and realist painter who had come from a family of early Serbian photographers, often dramatized historical events in his paintings, especially events from Serbia’s medieval past. Šijački, like Jovanović, used this evocative caption to invoke the legends of Serbia’s defeat at Kosovo polje in 1389 and to identify Serbia’s current war with the Ottomans as a continuation of Serbia’s centuries-long struggles against Ottoman rule. Šijački also purposefully included Macedonia as one of the Ottoman regions to be “liberated” by these “Kosovo avengers,” and deny the Bulgarians a historical claim to Macedonia.

26 An excellent article on the obituary section is Ženariu Ivana, Balkanski rat u slici i reči: ‘Kosovski osvetnici’” [The Balkan War in Pictures and Words: “Kosovo Avengers”], Baština, vol. 32, 2012, p. 339-357. The author also discusses Jovanović’s wartime photography.

27 The mythical figures are: Kosovo Maiden and the Mother of the Jugovići, the medieval persons of Queen Milica, the Lady Rosanda, and Princess Jerina.

28 “Na svetom mestu” [In a Holy Place], Balkanski rat u slici i reči, no 11, 31 March 1913, p. 167.

29 For a discussion of these sites see: Bokovoy Melissa, “Scattered Graves, Ordered Cemeteries: Commemorating Serbia’s Wars of National Liberation, 1912-1918”, in Maria Bucur, Nancy Wingfield (eds), Staging the Past: The Politics of Commemoration in Habsburg Central Europe, West Lafayette (Indiana), Purdue University Press, 2001, p. 160-181.

30 “Srpski osvajači Jedrena” [Serbian Conquerors of Jedrene (Adrianople/Edirne)], Balkanski rat u slici i reči, no 10, 24 March 1913, p. 152.

31 Ibid.

32 For a discussion of cultural templates from the medieval period, see Frantzen Allen J., Bloody Good: Chivalry, Sacrifice, and the Great War, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004. See also Bokovoy Melissa, “Framing the Hero: Photographic Narratives of War in the Interwar Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes,” in Mark Cornwall, John Paul Newman (eds), Sacrifice and Rebirth, op. cit., p. 190-220.

33 Bozanich Stevan, “Masculinity and Mobilised Folklore: The Image of the Hajduk in the Creation of the Modern Serbian Warrior,” MA Thesis, Department of History, University of Victoria, 2017.

34 Horne John, Kramer Alan, German Atrocities, 1914. A History of Denial, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2001, p. 303. Horne and Kramer make this observation for German atrocities during the First World War.

35 Ibid., p. 302.

36 L’Illustration, 2 August 1913.

37 Leune Jean, “Quatre des quarante-deux jeunes filles de Demir Hissar outragées par les Bulgares,” Photograph, L’Illustration, 2 August 1913.

38 Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, Washington, D.C., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1914.

39 Ibid., p. 264.

40 Report of the International Commission, op. cit., p. 78 and 136.

41 Bulgarian Atrocities: An Appeal to the Civilized World, Belgrade, Servian Press Association, 1913.

42 Zaïmis Theodōros, Atrocités bulgares en Macédoine (Faits et documents), Athènes, Imprimerie Hestia, 1913.

43 de Penennrun Alain, 40 jours de guerre dans les Balkans: la campagne serbo-bulgare en juillet 1913, Paris, Chapelot, 1914. Online: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k938346b/f5.item (accessed June 2022).

44 Parlitcheff C., Les Atrocités serbes en Macédoine (1912-1915) avec 20 portraits joints au texte. Extraits du livre “Le Régime serbe et la lutte révolutionnaire en Macédoine”, Sofia, A. Pascalew & Cie, 1919 (Bibliothèque des “Questions balkaniques”, 12).

45 Bulgarian Atrocities, Belgrade, op. cit., p. 1 and 2.

46 Horne, Kramer, German Atrocities, op. cit., p. 307.

47 Leune Lette [Hélène],“Les crimes bulgares de Demir Hissar et Serrès,” Supplément à L’Illustration, 2 August 1913.

48 Michailidis, “Reporting from the Frontline,” art. cit., p. 123.

49 Bulgarian Atrocities, Belgrade, op. cit., p. 2.

50 Brailsford Henry Noël, Macedonia: Its Races and their Future, London, Methuen, 1906, p. xi., in Todorova, Imagining, op. cit., p. 118.

51 “Oui, dès le début, cette guerre apparaît acharnée et sauvage. Les uns et les autres sont de rudes hommes et de les connaître comme je les connais me permet de dire que ce sont des adversaires qui se valent.” de Penennrun Alain, 40 jours de guerre, op. cit., p. 39-40, in Report of the International Commission, op. cit., p. 140.

52 Ibid., p. 141.

53 Horne, Kramer, German Atrocities, op. cit., p. 262.

54 See Yavuz Hakan M., Blumi Isa (eds), War and Nationalism: The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913 and their Sociopolitical Implications, Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 2013. This is an edited collection of essays, some of which address the violence, ethnic cleansing, and mass killing which led to the homogenization of the Balkan states, especially in regard to the violence and deportations directed at the Muslim populations in Ottoman Balkans.

55 Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia] has an excellent postcard collection and explanation of origins of the postcard industry in Serbia. Online: http://imus.org.rs/collection (accessed October 2021).

56 Vanderwood, “The Picture Postcard as Historical Evidence,” art. cit., p. 202.

57 Lyon James, “‘A Peasant Mob’: The Serbian Army on the Eve of the Great War,” The Journal of Military History, vol. 61, no 3, 1997, p. 484.

58 Hall Richard C., The Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War, London-New York, Routledge, 2000, p. 135-136.

59 James Daniel, Lobato Mirta Zaida, “Family Photos, Oral Narratives, and Identity Formation: The Ukrainians of Berisso,” Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 84, 2004, p. 36.

60 Taylor John, A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1994, p. 135; Moriarty Catherine, “‘Though in a Picture Only’: Photography and Commemoration of the First World War,” in Gail Braybon (ed.), Evidence, History and the Great War: Historians and the Impact of 1914-1918, New York, Berghahn, 2004, p. 43.

61 Ibid., p. 34.

62 Jelavich Charles, South Slav Nationalisms: Textbooks and Yugoslav Union before 1914, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1992, p. 75.

63 Mosse George, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1990.

64 Barthes Roland, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, New York, Hill and Wang, 1982 [1980], p. 198.

65 Berger John, Ways of Seeing, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1972, p. 10.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Cover of First Issue of Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči, Broj 1, 20 januara 1913
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 192k
Titre Figure 2. Prelazak srpske vojske preko Vezirova mosta [Crossing of the Serbian army over the Vizier’s Bridge]
Crédits Photo Credit: Rista Marjanović, 1916; Authorization: Photography courtesy of the Military Museum (Vojni Muzej), Belgrade Serbia.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 463k
Titre Figure 3. Sa Bojnog Polja [From the Battlefield]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 10.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 748k
Titre Figure 4. Sa osvećenog Kosova [From Avenged Kosovo]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 5.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 340k
Titre Figure 5. Na svetom mestu [In a Holy Place]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 1, 20.01.1913, p. 5.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 388k
Titre Figure 6. Srpski osvajači Jedrena [Serbian Conquerors of Jedrene (Adrianople/Edirne)]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 10, 24.03.1913, p. 152.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 388k
Titre Figure 7. “Le dossier des massacres d’otages par les Bulgares”
Légende Page signed by Jean Leune (L’Illustration), Georges Bourdon (Figaro), and Bernard Leporte (New York Herald)Source: Supplément à L’Illustration du 2.08.1913.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 346k
Titre Figure 8. Celles qui ont tout perdu
Légende Source: L’Illustration, 2.08.1913, cover.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 403k
Titre Figure 9. Quatre des quarante-deux jeunes filles de Demir Hissar outragées par les Bulgares
Légende The accompanying text by Lette Leune makes no mention of the “outrages.”Source: Supplément à L’Illustration du 2.08.1913.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-9.png
Fichier image/png, 46k
Titre Figure 10. Osvećeno Kosovo [Avenged Kosovo]
Légende Source: Istorijski Muzej Srbije, 152-XII-1a: Paja. Jovanović: Osvećeno Kosovo.
Crédits Credit: Paja Jovanović; Authorization: Postcard Image courtesy of the Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia].
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 67k
Titre Figure 11. Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]
Légende Source: Istorijski Muzej Srbije, 152-XII-2: Vasa Eškićević: Zadnji pozdrav Kosovskom Osvetniku.
Crédits Credit: Vasa Eškićević; Authorization: Postcard Image courtesy of the Istorijski Muzej Srbije [Historical Museum of Serbia].
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 27k
Titre Figure 12. Poslednji pozdrav Kosovoskom Osvetniku [The final farewell to the avenger of Kosovo]
Légende Source: Balkanski rat u slici i reči [Balkan War in Pictures and Words], no 21, Vidovdan, 1913. p. 329.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 623k
Titre Figure 13. Poslednji čas [The Final Honor]
Légende Source: Rista Marjanović, Ratni album Riste Marjanovića 1912-1915, Gornji Milanovac, Dečje novine, 1987.
Crédits Photo Credit: Rista Marjnović; Authorization: Photograph courtesy of the Military Museum [Vojni Muzej], Belgrade, Serbia.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 32k
Titre Figure 14. Čuvajte Jugoslaviju; Kralj Aleksandar I. Ujedinitelj pao je kao žrtva zločinačke ruke u Marselju 9-X-1934 g. [Save Yugoslavia; King Alexander I the Unifier fell victim to a criminal hand in Marseilles on 9/10/1934]
Légende Source: Personal Collection
Crédits Credit: Unknown; Authorization: Public Domain
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 312k
Titre Figure 15. Ratna spomenica [War memento]
Légende Source: Srpske Novine [The Serbian Newspaper], 10.08.1913, p. 4
URL http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/docannexe/image/4080/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0M
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Melissa Bokovoy, « Remembering Serbia’s Balkan Wars in Pictures and Words »Balkanologie [En ligne], Vol. 17 n° 1 | 2022, mis en ligne le 30 septembre 2022, consulté le 04 décembre 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/4080 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/balkanologie.4080

Haut de page

Auteur

Melissa Bokovoy

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
mbokovoy[at]unm.edu

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Tous droits réservés

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search