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Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

ISSN 0954–6839





An Inter-disciplinary Journal of Russian, East-Central European and Eurasian Affairs


beseda peЧ

19–32 33–47

– sanavards szó slova збор slovo






Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

zodis wort CЛOBO rijec ^

The Significance and the Insignificance of Time in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools DEBORAH HODGKINSON


From Popular Front to Political Radicalization: The Croatian Media and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 VJERAN PAVLAKOVIC´ Myth, War Memory, and Popular Music in Croatia: The Case of Marko Perkovic´ Thompson CATHERINE BAKER Evolution of the Lithuanian National Identity in the European Context VIOLETTA KRAKOVSKA Accession to the EU Through the Eyes of the Baltic States: Addressing Enlargement, the Convention on the Future of Europe and the Constitution MYKOLAS Cˇ ERNIAUSKAS

fjalё ´ slowo λεξη


Maney Publishing for the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London



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Notes for Contributors SL OVO /


Eleanor Game Jessica Gearhart, Lauren Holmes



For editorial addresses and submissions, see inside back cover. ARTICLE & REVIEW EDITORS:

Diana Karshakevich Hannah Marshall Martin Pogacar


Professor Arnold McMillin


Andrew Gardner


Slovo welcomes original contributions that match the aims and scope of the journal (as described on the inside front cover) on the understanding that their contents have not previously been published or are currently submitted for publication elsewhere. All submissions will be sent to independent referees. It is a condition of publication that papers become the copyright of the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London. All editorial correspondence should be sent to the Executive Editor, Sl ovo, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. Email:

Justine Doody Stephanie Ollerton Nadia Stoyanova

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Sl ovo discusses and interprets Russian, Eastern and Central European, and Eurasian affairs from a number of different perspectives including, but not limited to, anthropology, art, economics, film, history, international studies, linguistics, literature, media, philosophy, politics, and sociology. /

Slovo is a fully refereed journal, edited and managed by postgraduates of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Each year a new Editorial Board is selected from the postgraduate community to produce two volumes of academic depth and rigour, considering articles, book, and film review submissions from both established and emerging academics. /

Indexing and Abstracting Slovo is indexed in MLA International Bibliography and the Directory of Periodicals. /

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Contents page editorial articles From Popular Front to Political Radicalization: The Croatian Media and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 Vjeran Pavlakovica



Myth, War Memory, and Popular Music in Croatia: The Case of Marko Perkovica Thompson Catherine Baker


Evolution of the Lithuanian National Identity in the European Context Violetta Krakovska


Accession to the EU Through the Eyes of the Baltic States: Addressing the Enlargement, the Convention on the Future of Europe and the Constitution Mykolas Ch erniauskas


The Significance and the Insignificance of Time in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools Deborah Hodgkinson


book reviews Elizabeth Skomp and Roman Zh yla, Harmony and Discord: Moving Towards a New Europe (Anna Sosnowska)


Robert D. Greenberg, Language and Identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croatian and its Disintegration (Neil Griffiths)


Giuseppe Boffa, The Stalin Phenomenon (David K. Oldman)


S¢ovo, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

Editorial This issue of S¢ovo is, we hope, an example of what this interdisciplinary journal is all about. The number of topics covered can never really be representative of such a wide-ranging journal — that charts the affairs of such a dynamic and expansive geographical area — but each issue goes some way to elucidate a small number of the concerns of the area a little further. The relative slimness of this volume occurs in anticipation of a Special Edition for Autumn 2005, which will celebrate SSEES’s move into brand new, state-of-the-art premises, as well as the 90th Anniversary of the School. While it is always difficult, if not somewhat redundant, to detect themes in a journal such as this, which attempts such a wide remit; one of the lasting impressions the reader might get from glancing at the contents of this issue is that of a questioning of identity. Mykolas Ch erniauskas’s article ‘Accession to the EU through the Eyes of the Baltic States: Addressing the Enlargement, the Convention on the Future of Europe and the Constitution’, poses questions about constitution-making, which are pertinent for a number of EU members at the present time and also raises awareness of a reality where geographical boundaries and national identity alike are becoming ever more blurred and seemingly anachronistic. Catherine Baker delves into the character of a nation with her appraisal of one of Croatia’s best known contemporary singers: ‘Myth, War, Memory and Popular Music in Croatia: The Case of Marko Perkovica Thompson.’ The literature of one of Russia’s leading émigré writers is the subject of Deborah Bull’s article ‘The Significance and the Insignificance of Time in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools’, which explores his most famous modernist novel, and its very personal view of identity. Vjeran Pavlakovica’s article ‘From Popular Front to Political Radicalization: The Croatian Media and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939’ is an exploration of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of the Croatian media — an exercise that goes someway towards illustrating how one nation’s consciousness develops in relation to the events of another. Finally, Violetta Krakovska gives us another perspective on the pertinent issue of accession to the EU, and the questions it poses for a nation in her paper ‘Evolution of the Lithuanian National Identity in the European Context’. S¢ovo would not be possible without the extreme generosity of a large number of people, especially those academics, postgraduates, and staff members who give their time and expertise to referee articles, provide guidance on even the smallest matter and painstakingly proofread and edit each entry. The editorial board would like to thank the many article referees and advisers; all those involved in the production of S¢ovo at Maney Publishing; and in particular Professors George Kolankiewicz and A. B. McMillin. For her unfailing support and advice we wish to extend special thanks to the previous Executive Editor, Helen Warren, who smoothed the transition from one editorial board to the next with such flair that we are sure, to our readers, it has been barely discernable. The S¢ovo Editorial Team 2005 © School of Slavonic & East European Languages, University College London, 2005

S¢ovo, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

Myth, War Memory, and Popular Music in Croatia: The Case of Marko Perkovica Thompson Catherine Baker School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London The presence of an outspoken, revanchist right wing in Croatian society since 2000 has been paralleled by the rise to stardom of the folk/rock singer Marko Perkovica Thompson, whose repertoire is strongly associated with the militant veterans’ lobby and protests against the indictment of Croatian soldiers. An analysis of Thompson’s music and lyrics, both during his wartime career and in the post-Tudjman period, finds that they reproduce nationalist narratives of Croatian continuity, heroism, and victimhood, and draw on an established pool of folkloric imagery, while articulating a myth of wartime brotherhood with explicit political connotations. Such associations contribute to Thompson’s position as a boundary-marker in Croatian social discourses, and the figure of Thompson has become a site at which narratives of Croatia’s history, present character, and future responsibilities are contested. This has become all the more apparent during recent controversies concerning Thompson’s apparent musical rehabilitation of the fascist NDH, in which his popular-cultural product is understood as a vehicle for the transmission of an undesirable interpretation of the past. The paper concludes with an examination of the implications of Tudjmanist educational policy and the state-led politicization of war memory for individuals’ historical consciousness in post-Tudjman Croatia. The folk-rock singer Marko Perkovica Thompson first rose to prominence when, as a bartender and mechanic from the village of Ch avoglave fighting in the Croatian army, he composed and performed a vigorous rock track, Bojna Ch avoglave, celebrating his unit’s actions against Serbian soldiers; he shared his stage-name with an army-issue automatic rifle. The song was initially refused airplay by the state broadcasting services but became a hit through Televizija Marjan, a local television station from Split1 and was followed by several other songs in a similar vein. While Thompson faded from public attention after the war, he returned to the popular music scene in 1998 with an album entitled Vjetar s Dinare (Wind from Dinara), and in 2002 became one of Croatia’s best-selling recording artists with the release of his album E, moj narode (Oh, My People), with which he attempted to present the image of ‘a people’s tribune who promotes general Croatian values, unity, love for the family, God and the homeland.’2 1 2

Ozren Maršica and Drazh en Miljuš, ‘Na Poljudskom stadionu’, Vech ernji list, 16 September 2002. Dragan Miljuš, ‘Thompson u Domu sportova’, Vechernji list, 6 October 2002.

© School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


S·OVO, 17.1, SPRING 2005

However, he shares his understanding of ‘Croatian values’ with the formulators of the 1990s nationalist narrative, which offered uncritical praise to any group or individual who had defended the independence of Croatia, including the 1940s state of Ante Pavelica.3 As Thompson’s popularity increased, this implicit and explicit attitude in his repertoire proved more and more troubling to Croatians who rejected the Tudjmanist narrative, and, by questioning his stardom, it was possible to question the wider tendency to politicize and rehabilitate war memory in Croatia and the myths surrounding it. In the debate whether Thompson was a Croatian patriot or a supporter of a fascist regime, the singer served as a symbolic substitute for the controversial veterans and generals of the Second World War and the 1990s conflict, while signs that his inclinations were becoming known in Western Europe threatened to affect the cherished myth of Croatia as a mainstream European nation. As a musician, Thompson is also of interest for his use of folklore and politicized history, a combination on which the Serbian ethnologist Ivan Ch olovica has remarked in the work of singers like the Bajica Brothers and Baja-Mali Knindzh a.4 Such artists, singing of Kosovo heroes, Ch etnik commanders and assorted Serbian kings, have assisted political projects by helping to ‘put both historical and current events into a meaningful mythical context’,5 but these activities were not confined to the Serbian side, and it will be seen that Thompson offers perhaps the strongest Croatian instance of many of the tendencies identified in Serbia by Ch olovica. The majority of his songs contain nationalist, political, and even military themes, and, although his repertoire also includes apolitical songs of romantic love, he is better known for the former type. Their character is best understood through an analysis of several recurring lyrical themes, namely Croatian history, ideas of brotherhood and masculinity, allusions to the political situation in Croatia and folkloric motifs. Thompson as musician: history, victimhood, folklore, and brotherhood The most explicit references to history occur in the song E, moj narode (2002), which served as the title of its album and of the large-scale concert tour which Thompson used to promote its release, suggesting that it may be understood as a summary of the major concerns of his music. After two verses noting that ‘ever since the time of Christ’ (‘od vremena još od Krista’) the Croatian nation has been under threat by ‘the forces of the Devil’ (‘vrazh je sile’), Thompson goes on to praise the value of Croats’ historical unity both long ago and more recently (‘iz povijesti naše slavne | a i ove ne baš davne’6). The song continues by evoking the valour — and just as importantly the sacrifice — of Croat soldiers throughout history: ‘Generacije junaka | i pobjednichka vojska jaka | još se brine i gine | zbog Domovine.’7 3

Alex J. Bellamy, The Formation of Croatian National Identity: a Centuries-old Dream? (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003), p. 71. 4 Ivan Ch olovica, Bordel ratnika: folklor, politika i rat (Belgrade: Biblioteka XX vek, 1994), pp. 111–12. 5 Ger Duijzings, Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2000), p. 194. 6 ‘From our glorious history | and history not so long ago’. 7 ‘Generations of heroes | and the victorious strong army | are still | worrying and dying | for the Homeland.’



In Thompson’s musical vision, history is reduced — as he explained in a 2002 interview — to the ‘mythic tales’ of ‘our heroes, kings and knights’,8 who are conflated into the primordialism implicit in the title of his 1998 song Geni kameni (Stone Genes). Such a pantheon would be familiar also to Ch olovica, for whom the assemblage of figures from different ages presents past and contemporary events ‘in an extra-temporal experience of mythic presence’. The aim is to detach them from their particular context and position them in a narrative of eternal heroism,9 and such would appear to be the intended effect of E, moj narode. Indeed, even superhuman and near-godly heroism is joined to the exploits of the kings and knights in Thompson’s co-option of the Biblical Elijah on Ch avoglave to support the argument that the territory belongs to the Croats by historical right: ‘[Serbs,] slušajte sad poruku od Svetog Ilije | necaete u Ch avoglave, niste ni prije!’10 A strong historical motif is present too in Anica, kninska kraljica (Anica, Queen of Knin), released in 1993 and forming part of Thompson’s wartime repertoire. At this point in his career the persona adopted by Marko Perkovica in his songs was not that of a ‘people’s tribune’ but of a common soldier, the guise with which Bojna Ch avoglave first won him popularity. Two of the song’s three couplets are to do with assaulting Serbian positions, but the third enjoins Croats to ‘remember the Knin of Croatian King Zvonimir’ (‘Ej, Hrvati, sjetimo se Knina/hrvatskoga kralja Zvonimira’), invoking Zvonimir’s use of Knin as his capital as the justification for Croatia to possess it today. This fitted into a wider symbolic legitimation of the Croatian war effort against Serbs in Krajina, which Ivo Zh anica has discussed as referring expressly to Zvonimir’s association with Knin.11 The same song also belongs to the section of Thompson’s repertoire dealing with brotherhood and military camaraderie, a theme to which the singer has constantly returned ever since his breakthrough hit Bojna Ch avoglave, which depicted Croatian soldiers as a band of brothers united in the defiant defence of their homeland: ‘Stoji Hrvat do Hrvata, mi smo bracaa svi | necaete do Ch avoglava dok smo zhivi mi!’12 The Croatian musicologist Svanibor Pettan interprets this song, which speaks openly of Serb soldiers as a ‘Ch etnik band’ (‘bando chetnici’) and promises to even take the war into Serbia (‘Sticai cae vas naša ruka i u Srbiji!’), as the polar opposite of the light-entertainment schlager, which drew attention to Croatia’s victimhood.13 Thompson’s war narratives should be seen in the context of a myth of military 8 Danijela Ana Morica, ‘Marko Perkovica Thompson odluchio da opovrgava napise o preseljenju u Australiju’, Vechernji list, 30 August 2002. 9 h Colovica, p. 153. 10 ‘Listen now to the message from St. Elijah | you won’t reach Ch avoglave, you were never there before!’ Indeed, Elijah is perhaps particularly suited to this role through his association with folkloric traditions which align him with spirits of thunder and storms: see Ivo Zh anica, Prevarena povijest: guslarska estrada, kult hajduka, i rat u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini 1990–1995. godine (Zagreb: Durieux, 1998), p. 75. 11 Ivo Zh anica, ‘The Curse of King Zvonimir and Political Discourse in Embattled Croatia’, East European Politics and Societies, 9.1 (1995), 90–122, 110. 12 ‘Croat stands by Croat, we are all brothers | you won’t get to Ch avoglave so long as we’re alive!’ 13 Svanibor Pettan, ‘Music, Politics and War in Croatia in the 1990s: an Introduction’, in Music, Politics and War: Views From Croatia, ed. by Svanibor Pettan (Zagreb: Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, 1998), pp. 9–28, 25.


S·OVO, 17.1, SPRING 2005

valour, which ‘diminishes the role of the individual but enhances the group’,14 and in these songs too the exploits of an individual soldier are represented as clearly in the service of the collective. The motif of brotherhood also underpins the post-war songs in which Thompson has depicted himself as singing for (former) soldiers. With the first of these, Prijatelji (Friends, 1998), he expressed his disappointment at the status of veterans in peacetime society, doing so in the key of nostalgia for the wartime experience of male companionship: ‘Sjetite se na ponosne dane | kada jedan uz drugoga stane | sve smo mogli, sve smo smijeli | i bili smo što smo htjeli’.15 Ne varaj me (Don’t Trick Me, 2002) offers a further romanticized image of the soldier set apart from society by his wartime experience: ‘Zastave slobode vijore | chaure su djechje igrachke | iza rijeke pored granice| ljubim sliku Svete Djevice’.16 Here one may discern the same ‘myth of the war experience’, as George Mosse termed it, common to the veterans’ discourse of both Weimar Germany and post-Vietnam America.17 Despite the hardships of the front soldier, value is found in the incomparable virtue of wartime companionship, a masculine bond from which women are, by definition,18 excluded;19 its homosociality avoids threatening the prevailing heterosexual masculinity thanks to ‘the mediating effect of the Patria’, the homeland constructed as rhetorically female.20 In Thompson’s patriotic songs, either love for a woman is subordinated to love of the homeland, or the two forms of love are equated, as is the case in his 2002 Lijepa li si (Are You Beautiful). Thompson was joined on this track, which depicts Croatia as a beautiful woman (her ‘proud heart’, ‘srce ponosno’, being Herzegovina), by his friends Mate Bulica (a popular diaspora singer) and Miroslav Sh koro, and three other male singers (Mladen Grdovica, Alen Vitasovica, and Giuliano) who were assigned lines relating to their home regions of Croatia (Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia). The overall effect, perhaps intentionally reminiscent of the ‘band aids’ assembled during 1991, reproduces the image of companionship and homosociality, which is ostensibly directed against those who would prefer to marginalize the veterans (‘Zagrlimo svi pred svima | neka vide da nas ima’21). A similarly inclined duet with Škoro, entitled Reci, brate moj (Tell Me, My Brother), was entered into that year’s 14

George Schöpflin, Nations, Identity, Power: the New Politics of Europe (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2000), p. 95. 15 ‘Remember the proud days | when one stood with another | we could do everything, we were allowed | dared to do everything | and we were what we wanted’. 16 ‘Flags of freedom are flying | cartridge-cases are children’s toys | behind the river, near the border | I kiss a picture of the Holy Virgin’. 17 George L. Mosse, Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 7. 18 However, note a small number of female combatants discussed by Carol S. Lilly and Jill A. Irvine, ‘Negotiating Interests: Women and Nationalism in Serbia and Croatia 1990–1997’, East European Politics and Societies, 16.1 (2002), 109–44, 118–29. 19 Susan Jeffords, The Remasculinisation of America: Gender and the Vietnam War (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989), pp. 59–60. 20 Diana Taylor, Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), pp. 38–39. 21 ‘Let us embrace in front of them all | let them see that we are here’.



prestigious Melodije Hrvatskog Jadrana festival. This, if anything, is even more heavily loaded with allusions to the war experience, of which the two ‘brothers’ present themselves as authentic witnesses: ‘Ja sam imao srecae, pa sam kucai došao | a puno ih se nije vratilo’.22 However, their accusation (as in Prijatelji) is that the memory of the fallen has been traduced: ‘Reci, brate moj, jesmo mi prokleti | da se tako brzo sve zaboravi?’23 Both songs call for the dead heroes to be properly commemorated, with candles on Reci, brate moj (‘Ne pitaj me ništa, tek svijecae upali | za sve one što su za Dom pali’24), and, on Lijepa li si, with Thompson’s own music as a fitting memorial for the deceased.25 The E, moj narode album, on which these two songs appeared, cannot be separated from the political climate before and during its release: mid-2001 had been marked by protests by nationalists and veterans’ groups against the ICTY indictments of two Croatian generals, and another crisis broke out in September 2002 when the former Croatian chief of staff, Janko Bobetko, was indicted, by chance in the middle of the E, moj narode tour.26 Those responsible for the state of post-Tudjman Croatia are named in E, moj narode itself as ‘Antikristi i masoni | komunisti ovi, oni,’ who ‘šire sotonske fraze | da nas poraze’.27 Modern Croatian nationalism has so elevated those fallen for the homeland, who have sacrificed themselves so that the Croat identity may be enjoyed,28 that disrespect to their memory appears as the greatest sin against the nation, while ‘Communism’ in nationalist shorthand encodes a threat to Croatian independence itself.29 The reference in E, moj narode to the Devil’s eternal effort to eradicate the Croats (‘vrazhje sile se trude | da nas ne bude’) not only conforms to the 1990s tendency in both Croatia and Serbia to present one’s own nation as victims of genocide,30 but is also in line with Tudjman’s rhetorical strategy of depicting Croatia as assailed by a succession of external and internal enemies.31 Indeed, the self-importance of Thompson’s claims almost appears to be an attempt to situate his figure as a musical counterpart to the political epitome and saviour of the Croatian people, which is supported by his connections to the veterans’ movement. Their attempt to stand as ‘memory watchdogs’ for the Croatian people


‘I was lucky, and I came back home | but many of them did not come back’. ‘Tell me, my brother, are we cursed | for it all to be so quickly forgotten?’ 24 ‘Don’t ask me anything, just light candles | for all those who fell for the homeland’. 25 ‘Mojoj pjesmi budi tema | za sve one kojih nema’ — ‘Let my songs be the theme | for all those who are not here’. 26 Victor Peskin and Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski, ‘International Justice and Domestic Politics: Post-Tudjman Croatia and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’, Europe-Asia Studies, 55.7 (2003), 1117–42, 1129–33. 27 ‘Antichrists and Masons | these and those Communists | spreading Satanic phrases | to put us to rout’. 28 Cf. Ch olovica, p. 158. 29 Gordana Uzelac, ‘Franjo Tudjman’s nationalist ideology’, East European Quarterly, 31.4 (1997), 449–72, 451. 30 David Bruce MacDonald, Balkan Holocausts?: Serbian and Croatian Victim-centred Propaganda and the War in Yugoslavia (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), p. 261. 31 Uzelac, ‘Franjo Tudjman’s nationalist ideology’, p. 462. 23


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may, perhaps, owe its roots to veterans’ officially enshrined role as such in Tito’s Yugoslavia.32 The simplest of Thompson’s political messages is found in Iza devet sela (2002), a song which represents perhaps the clearest Croatian example of the nexus between folklore and politics, which forms the basis of Ch olovica’s work. In Ch olovica’s perspective, folklore does not only stimulate patriotic sentiment but also lends legitimacy to political projects, a process frequently assisted by neo-folkloric producers themselves.33 Having already noted the political projects Thompson hopes to legitimize, it remains to assess his use of folklore and, in fact, Thompson, whose roots are in the mountainous Dalmatian hinterland, draws from a pool of motifs similar to those employed in Serbian neo-folk. Perhaps most striking, given Ch olovica’s description of the ‘miraculous companionship of heroes, fairies and wolves’ associated with certain mountains including Thompson’s own Dinara,34 is the refrain of Iza devet sela, ‘Gdje su vuci, vile i hajduci | tamo gdje sam roœen ja’.35 The ‘fairy of Velebit is crying out’ (‘velebitska vila doziva’) for the betrayed veterans on Reci, brate moj, and the Dinaric wolf reappears in Thompson’s 1998 song Vjetar s Dinare (The Wind from Dinara), which, for once, expresses family rather than combatant nostalgia.36 For a festival of newly-composed folk music held in 2000 in the Bosnian Croat town of Neum, Thompson rearranged the traditional Kupres folk song Moj Ivane, which deals with a village boy snatched away from his beloved by the ‘accursed fate’ (‘sudbina kleta’) of war. Notable, too, is Thompson’s use of the decasyllabic lyrical pattern associated with folk epics, not only on Ivane but also on Kninska kraljica and Pukni puško (Fire, Rifle, 1998), which both eulogize the experience of the front soldier, and on Ivane Pavle II, his 2003 composition to mark the Pope’s visit to Croatia. The relationship of listeners to lyrics is a contested matter among analysts of popular music, but one may contend that lyrics provide a channel to convey the song’s meaning, giving access to its ‘implied narratives’.37 They are, however, supported by other indicators of those narratives, which include both the song’s musical characteristics and non-musical indicators such as the performer’s styling and presentation. Musically, Thompson typically uses introductions resembling traditional Dinaric flutes and stringed instruments, occasionally simulated by electric guitar, and Geni kameni in particular reinforces its image of continuity between modern and ancient-mythic times by concluding with a neo-traditional flute arrangement of the introductory theme which had been originally played in the bombastic style of an American metal guitarist. The ululations of a female vocalist 32 See Wolfgang Hoepken, ‘War, Memory and Education in a Fragmented Society: the Case of Yugoslavia’, East European Politics and Societies, 13.1 (1999), 190–227, 196–97. 33 h Colovica, p. 83. 34 h Colovica, p. 128. 35 ‘Where are the wolves, fairies and hajduks | there where I was born’. 36 See Zh anica, pp. 265–66, for a discussion of the deep roots of wolf imagery in hajduk folklore and the frequency of the rhyme vuci-hajduci. 37 Simon Frith, Performing Rites: on the Value of Popular Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 169.



are sometimes featured in the middle eight (for instance, Necau izdat’ ja (I Won’t Give Up, 2002)), while a less traditional middle eight, found on Bojna Ch avoglave and Kninska kraljica, is the sampled sound of machine-gun fire and exploding grenades. Unlike male zabavni (schlager) artists, Thompson employs a rock singer’s rasping vocal timbre, something which John Shepherd has interpreted as itself suggesting ‘homosociality’ because it is so different from female vocal qualities,38 and his choruses (e.g. on Ne varaj me) are frequently accompanied by male backing vocals. This technique, also frequent in American rock and metal music, offers the images of the refrain for the listener’s ‘collective affirmation’.39 In a patriotically oriented context, the invitation to participation expressed through these means is perhaps particularly powerful. While Thompson initially presented himself as ‘a hybrid of a macho warrior and a long-haired “romantic” troubadour’,40 his image by the time of the E, moj narode tour had stabilized into a simple iconography, his constant stage costume being black jeans and a T-shirt with a medallion of St Benedict’s cross. The choice of Benedict is significant, since Thompson explains the Benedictine monks as ‘the Croats’ first link with Christianity’;41 on the cover of E, moj narode, the medallion is picked out with a holy light. Thompson’s self-presentation as an aggrieved, apolitical common man who ‘belong[s] to myself, my music and my audience’,42 rests on a carefully constructed authenticity, in a similar way to the American rock singer Bruce Springsteen, whose work similarly trades on national ‘nostalgia and myth’43 and even claims to voice the resentment of veterans,44 similarities which have also been noted by Croatian critics.45 Another possible comparison made by one rock journalist is with the American country singer Toby Keith, who achieved a major chart success in early 2002 with a song of aggressive revenge inspired by the 11 September attacks.46 It is difficult to accurately assess the influence of foreign popular-cultural forms on the performance persona of Thompson or others, but another western rock song, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, became an unofficial anthem of Croatian soldiers, both in the original and in a version by tamburica band Zlatni Dukati.47 Hence war imagery of American origin has perhaps provided, 38

John Shepherd, ‘Music and Male Hegemony’, in Music and Society: the Politics of Composition, Performance and Reception, ed. by Richard Leppert and Susan McClary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 151–72, 167–68. 39 Robert Walser, Running With the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1993), pp. 45–46. 40 Zlatko Gall, ‘Necau u Ch avoglave, nisam ni prije!’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 28 August 2002. 41 Morica, ‘Marko Perkovica Thompson odluchio opovrgava napise o preseljenju u Australiju’. 42 Vesna Kljajica, ‘Mladi nisu opterecaeni ni ustašama, ni partizanima!’, Novi list, 26 October 2002. 43 Roy Shuker, Understanding Popular Music (London and New York: Routledge, 2001, second edition), p. 124. 44 Frith, p. 165. 45 Zdravko Zima, ‘Thompson, daj gas!’, Novi list, 1 September 2002; Darko Glavan, ‘Thompson kao glazbenik’, Vechernji list, 22 September 2002. 46 Velimir Grgica, ‘M. P. Thompson — heroj ili zlochinac?’, HTNet, 19 January 2004, <http://www.> [accessed 9 March 2004] 47 Pettan, p. 21.


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alongside south-Slavic folklore, another bank of motifs through which to represent the military experience.48 However, Thompson also draws on a folkloric notion of authenticity, specifically what Ch olovica terms the figure of the ‘peasant-warrior’ who is thought to most faithfully represent ethnic identity.49 Thompson’s comrades on Ch avoglave were specifically constructed as defenders of their home village: ‘U Zagori na izvoru rijeke Ch ikole | stala bracaa da odbrane naše domove.’50 ‘Oh, My People’: Thompson in Croatian discourse The focal point of the E, moj narode tour was Thompson’s 15 September 2002 concert at FC Hajduk Split’s sold-out Poljud stadium; its release as a bonus DVD with some editions of his 2004 greatest-hits compilation confirmed that Thompson and his management consider it his archetypal performance. An introductory video was shown in which Zlatni Dukati and the Mostar-born schlager singer Ivan Mikulica paid tribute to Tudjman (whose image also appeared on the stage’s video-wall during the concert), an excerpt from Carmina Burana was played, the video-wall showed tongues of flame and Thompson made his entrance with Bojna Ch avoglave;51 during the concert, Thompson also explained that two spot-lit VIP seats had been kept free for the indicted general Gotovina and the imprisoned general Norac.52 This can only be reconciled with Thompson’s professed apolitical stance if it is seen through a Tudjmanist lens, where the nationalist movement is supposed to stand above politics and bridge the divisions which have kept the Croatian people disunited.53 Thompson appears to share this belief, telling an interviewer from Novi list in October 2002: Young people [. . .] aren’t weighed down by Ustaše or Partisans [. . .]. We are the victorious generation which created Croatia and we are the ones who need to construct well-being in the country, regardless of on what side one is.54

However, Thompson’s call for national unity, like Tudjman’s, has provoked adverse comment with its apparent readiness to include the soldiers of the Independent State of Croatia in its pantheon of those who fought to defend the homeland. Before the E, moj narode tour, the presence among a section of Thompson’s audience of individuals wearing T-shirts and caps with Ustaša symbols had already attracted attention, which Thompson deflected by saying that ‘that is our history, which, to be fair, some people praise and others curse’ and appealing once again for ostensibly apolitical unity.55 These criticisms intensified after the tour, although a distinction was drawn between the behaviour of the audience and of Thompson himself, 48

See Reana Senjkovica, Lica društva, likovi drzh ave (Zagreb: Biblioteka Nova etnografija, 2002), p. 206. Ch olovica, pp. 155–56. 50 ‘In Zagora at the source of the Ch ikola river | we brothers stood to defend our homes’. 51 Drazhen Miljuš and Ozren Maršica, ‘Poljudski koncert bio je više od glazbenoga spektakla’, Vechernji list, 17 September 2002. 52 Zoran Krzhelj, ‘Norac i Gotovina nisu došli, ali svi ostali jesu!’, Novi list, 17 September 2002. 53 Bellamy, p. 67. 54 Kljajica, ‘Mladi nisu opterecaeni ni ustašama, ni partizanima!’ 55 Danijela Ana Morica, ‘Marko Perkovica Thompson govori o novom albumu, domoljublju i duhovnim vrijednostima’, Vechernji list, 6 July 2002. 49



even by journalists who clearly interpreted the concerts as a right-wing political manifestation.56 One critic, Darko Glavan, explained the display of Ustaša symbols as suggesting that opposition to the ruling government, attacked as Communists in the right-wing imagination, was being expressed in an unthinking identification ‘with their historical opponents’.57 Perhaps the major issue raised by the media discussion of the E, moj narode concerts was young people’s attitude to the Croatian past, with the most penetrating critique at this stage offered by the historian Ivo Goldstein, who explicitly connected this youthful rehabilitation of the NDH to the ideological grounds on which nationalists had resisted the Hague Tribunal by arguing that Croats could not commit war crimes in a defensive war.58 Already in 2002, the discourses explicitly opposed to Thompson’s music demonstrated that his figure and repertoire were a site at which narratives of Croatia’s past history, present character, and future responsibilities were contested, as one sees in Goldstein’s commentary and in that of the long-standing Split resident Miro Kuchica, who resented Thompson’s popularity in Split as a betrayal of the city’s tradition of tolerance, employing an essentialized multiculturalist discourse of the Mediterranean to make his point.59 Kuchica’s contrast of the mild ‘wind from the south’ and ‘the brutal and cold winds from Dinara’ reflects the same anxieties that led Zagreb football fans to hold up their club as an example of Zagreb cosmopolitanism vis-àvis ‘the perceived extremism of the rural Croats migrating to Zagreb’, a pervasive fear of ruralization through immigration from the Croatian interior.60 Thompson was, however, defended by the arch-conservative Slobodna Dalmacija political columnist Josip Jovica, who praised him for ‘reminding people about the Homeland War and the defenders [branitelji]’ and for ‘not forget[ting] his co-nationals on the other side of the artificial border’ between Croatia and Herzegovina.61 Musical value judgements like these are inseparable from ‘the social reasons why some aspects of a sound or spectacle are valued over others’ (Simon Frith)62 and form part of Bourdieu’s process of distinction, in which groups and individuals express their identities through the exercise of taste.63 In Bourdieu’s argument, tastes are usually asserted ‘by the refusal of other tastes’,64 an observation which fits well with Anthony Cohen’s theory of the importance of boundaries in maintaining a community. For Cohen, boundaries are largely kept up by the attachment of meanings to certain symbols which signify the shared identity of the community but also its difference from others,65 and these definitions may well include 56

Krzh elj, ‘Norac i Gotovina nisu došli, ali svi ostali jesu!’ Darko Glavan, ‘Kratka povijest ekstremne rock-ikonografije’, Vechernji list, 12 October 2002. 58 Tomislav Klauški, ‘Anti Pavelicau?’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 12 October 2002. 59 Miro Kuchica, ‘Surovi vjetar s Dinare’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 8 October 2002. 60 Bellamy, p. 120. 61 Josip Jovica, ‘Thompson kao feniks’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 18 September 2002. 62 Frith, p. 22. 63 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), pp. 174–75. 64 Bourdieu, p. 56. 65 Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community (London and New York: Routledge, 1985), p. 53. 57


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‘distinguishing [. . .] tastes in popular culture’. For Croatians on the left, it is common to associate the Dalmatian hinterland and Herzegovina with social and economic backwardness and with a fixation on the Homeland War at the expense of progress into Europe, such as in an example of the ‘symbolic geography’ identified by Milica Bakica-Hayden.67 Thompson has become a powerful cultural resource for the construction of such a geography, illustrated, for instance, by critic Zlatko Gall’s dismissal of Thompson with precisely these associations, ending in a claim that Thompson even shares his audience with the Serbian turbofolk star Ceca.68 Gall further describes the Poljud concert as a ‘happening of the people’, implicitly associating the singer with the folklore-laden rhetoric of Slobodan Miloševica’s late-1980s political campaigns. Allusions to political leaders of the past were also made by Zoran Krzhelj from Novi list, a Rijeka-based newspaper associated with cosmopolitan values, who compared the insults hurled at president Stipe Mesica during the Poljud concert to the honouring of Tito there before the 1979 Mediterranean Games, using this to suggest a degeneration of Croatian society since the Titoist era.69 Krzhelj, too, employs the Ceca comparison, aligning one supposedly Balkan and backward performer with another in a clear illustration of the thought-process dubbed by Bakica-Hayden ‘nesting Orientalism’.70 Myths and narratives: contesting Croatia’s past In February 2003, Thompson was again the source of controversy when he appeared, apparently without an official invitation, at Zagreb’s municipal reception for the victorious Croatian handball team. Before a reported 50,000 people in Trg bana Jelachicaa, Thompson began his set in his customary way with Bojna Ch avoglave — which is introduced by the cry of ‘Za dom spremni’ — which a few dozen audience members answered with Ustaša salutes.71 These words, as the slogan of the Croatian Home Guard during the NDH, are frequently understood as having Ustaša connotations themselves.72 The utterance and the response caused all the more comment for having occurred in the central square of Zagreb,73 a place strongly associated with celebrations of successive political leaders,74 but also with spontaneous popular manifestations. Indeed, Jelachicaev trg is one of those ‘nationally popular sites of assembly and congregation’ which, as such, are as significant to a spatialized 66 Tim Edensor, National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2002), p. 25. 67 Milica Bakica-Hayden and Robert M Hayden, ‘Orientalist Variations on the Theme “Balkans”: Symbolic Geography in Recent Yugoslav Cultural Politics’, Slavic Review, 51.1 (1992), 1–15, 4. 68 Zlatko Gall, ‘Thompson: Hrvatska Ceca’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 21 September 2002. 69 Krzh elj, ‘Norac i Gotovina nisu došli, ali svi ostali jesu!’ 70 Milica Bakica-Hayden, ‘Nesting Orientalisms: the Case of Former Yugoslavia’, Slavic Review, 54.4 (1995), 917–31, 924. 71 L Tomichica, ‘Thompson nagrdio sportsko slavlje’, Novi list, 4 February 2003. 72 Glavan, ‘Kratka povijest ekstremne rock-ikonografije’. 73 Mladen Bariša, ‘Prvaci svijeta u politici’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 4 February 2003. 74 Dunja Rihtman-Auguštin, ‘The Monument in the Main City Square: Constructing and Erasing Memory in Contemporary Croatia’, Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory, ed. by Maria Todorova (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2004), pp. 180–96, 184.



national identity as are sites of state-led commemoration, and the values they connote are permanently open to contestation.75 Thompson, however, justifies the words ‘Za dom spremni’ as having existed before the NDH, since Nikola Šubica Zrinski used ‘Za dom’ and King Petar Krešimir IV ‘Spremni’,76 and claims besides to understand them ‘as non-violent, because it expresses the noble intention to defend one’s home’.77 Here Thompson echoes the ideology of Tudjman, and of the veterans with whom he has aligned himself from Prijatelji onwards, to considerable commercial benefit. Since 2003, discussions of Thompson have also been tinged with concerns about the effect his music may have had on perceptions of Croatia abroad. The February incident was briefly reported in the British Independent, and an article in the October 2003 edition of The Face commented on his ‘fascist salutes’. But a wider-ranging enquiry into the significance of Thompson was prompted that November when it became known that two concerts of his had been banned in the Netherlands, as first reported due to ‘displays of fascist symbols’.78 Novi list immediately accepted the explanation, while the more conservative Slobodna Dalmacija reported the events by printing verbatim statements by the concert organizer and Thompson himself, without questioning either man’s assertions.79 Thompson’s sudden European profile, it would seem, appears to have raised the stakes of debates about him in Croatia: even when Thompson’s use of ‘fascist staging’ and Ustaša-associated motifs may be explained as a ‘marketing witticism’, wrote Duško Ch izmica Marovica, he has ‘played his role for so long and so believably that one should not wonder that Europe takes [him] seriously’.80 The polemic concerning Thompson and his relationship with the rehabilitation of the NDH was intensified at the end of 2003, when the online magazine Index revealed that it had come across recordings of his singing Ustaša songs on websites maintained by diaspora Croats: these included Evo zore, evo dana, and Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara, praising ‘the butchers of [Ustaša commander] Maks [Luburica]’ (‘Maksovih mesara’) and the ‘slaughterhouse’ of Ch apljina where Serb corpses were thrown into the river Neretva (‘U Ch apljini, klaonica bila, puno Srba Neretva nosila’).81 This particular song provoked the most comment, since the addition of an extra verse insulting Mesica and prime minister Ivica Rachan, concluding with a salute to Ante Pavelica, showed that it must have been performed since 2000 and could not be ‘written off as sins of Perkovica ’s youth’ in the way that some critics had explained away the aggression of Bojna Ch avoglave.82 75

See Edensor, p. 48. Zvonimir Mamica, ‘Thompson krivi Zh idove’, Novi list, 29 November 2003. 77 Arsen Obremovica, ‘Pjevachka zvijezda prvi put progovara u javnosti nakon višetjedne afere koja se dizh e oko njega’, Vechernji list, 30 January 2004. 78 Zvonimir Mamica, ‘Thompson zabranjen zbog ‘fašizma’!’, Novi list, 25 November 2003. 79 Marijana Kasalo, ‘Nizozemska policija Thompsonu zabranila koncerte!’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 25 November 2003. 80 Duško Ch izmica Marovica, ‘Thompson, Ðapica i Europa’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 26 November 2003. 81 Matija Babica, ‘Thompson — domoljub ili fašist? Konachan odgovor je . . .’, Index, 28 December 2003, <> [accessed 9 March 2004]. 82 Babica, ‘Thompson — domoljub ili fašist?’; Hrvoje Horvat, ‘Dosad maglovita pricha prerasla u jasnu fašistich ku poruku’, Vjesnik, 31 December 2003. 76


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The story was first carried in the print media by Novi list, which attempted to extend interest in the case by referring Thompson’s recording to the office of the general state lawyer and also inviting a response from the manager of the Jasenovac monument, Nataša Jovchica: Jovchica took the line that, in desecrating the victims of Jasenovac, Thompson also desecrated the victims on all sides of the 1990s conflict.83 Thompson admitted on 7 January 2004 that he had sung the songs, although argued that the media controversy was a ‘witch-hunt’ fabricated by ‘the crazed Communists and their helpers’ who had belittled veterans and generals ever since the 2000 fall of HDZ.84 Although he justified his actions because the songs were not his own ‘authorial work’,85 it is difficult for a popular music performer to escape with such an excuse: the figure of the performer is not experienced through song-writing credits but through performance itself, authenticity being vocally transmitted so that whatever he might perform is incorporated into the figure. Besides, certain of Thompson’s self-written songs have also contained possible Ustaša references which may be interpreted by those in the know, notably the allusion to the Ustaša image of ‘heavy fog falling again’ (‘Opet cae se gusta magla spustiti’) in Reci, brate moj, and, perhaps, the statement that ‘1945 was a bad one, it spread us out around the world’ (‘Loša bila 45ta, rasula nas preko svijeta’) on Geni kameni. Beyond these are the songs which openly celebrate 1990s military violence — or, in Thompson’s justification, the defence of the homeland. These include Ch avoglave and Kninska kraljica (where the singer vows to ‘burn down Krajina as far as Knin’, ‘zapalit u Krajinu do Knina’), written in wartime, but also 2002’s Ne varaj me, where Thompson vows ‘Ne varaj me s golubom u rukama | sloboda je stvorena u mukama’,86 and the middle eight features a helicopter landing, soldiers marching and a helicopter taking off, suggesting a military assault on a base or village. The mindset in which the violence of a defensive war can be lauded, however, appears to depend, as did state and media efforts to prepare their populations for war, on a prior dehumanization of the enemy, with which ‘his elimination becomes a highly esteemed act of courage.’87 By the end of January, the Jewish spokesman Slavko Goldstein, the council of the Jasenovac monument and Croatian PEN were preparing amendments to the criminal code to criminalize, in Goldstein’s words, ‘hate speech which directly instigates, celebrates or justifies a crime’.88 However, Index’s discovery may have come less as a revelation and more as an exposure of an Ustaša-kitsch tendency — Crna Legija insignia, for instance, have been openly available on Croatian market stalls — to which ‘everyone who peers into just one of our market squares’ had previously turned a blind eye.89 Indeed, an article in the Bosnian–Croat edition of Slobodna Irena Frlan and Vedran Strukar, ‘Jovchica: Thompson vrijed-a zh rtve Jasenovca, ali i Ovchare’, Novi list, 31 December 2003. 84 ‘Bog vas blagoslovio’, 7 January 2004, <> [accessed 9 March 2004]. 85 Obremovica, ‘Pjevachka zvijezda’. 86 ‘Don’t trick me with a dove in your hands | freedom is made through suffering’. 87 h Colovica, pp. 97–98. 88 Tomislav Klauški, ‘Govor mrzh nje ne smije ostati’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 26 January 2004. 89 Drago Pilsel, ‘Pošaljimo Thompsona na Mars’, Novi list, 25 January 2004. 83



Dalmacija from August 2003 wrote approvingly of Thompson’s saluting audience chants of Evo zore, evo dana during a concert in Mostar, where the stands were bedecked with ‘images of the great Croats from Pavelica and Francetica to Tudjman and Norac’.90 Thus, as telling as the fact that Thompson had performed such songs is the fact that the turn of 2003 became a propitious moment at which to finally engage with the troubling popular-cultural rehabilitation of the NDH, and, in the words of Jelena Lovrica, to challenge the Tudjmanist version of history in which it was possible ‘to depict Ustašism as a specific patriotism and not a criminal project’.91 It is no coincidence that, from the very first article in Index, the apparent Croatian willingness to tolerate Thompson was adversely compared to what Croatians understood as the vehement attitude to fascist symbolism on the part of Western European states, most of all Germany.92 This had been highlighted by the widelyreported trial in late 2003 of a German neo-Nazi rock band, Landser, for musical incitements to violence.93 But the comparison with the German refusal to subsume historical war crimes into an abstract ‘national reconciliation’ is an established theme in Croatian anti-nationalist thought, made for instance by Slavenka Drakulica.94 Many articles critical of Thompson at this stage explicitly referred to the impact such a singer’s popularity was likely to have on Croatia’s image abroad:95 this was a matter of particular sensitivity after Croatia’s EU application had been delayed by Britain and the Netherlands until co-operation over ICTY indictments increased. It would appear that the events of November 2003, which first indicated in Croatia that Thompson was well-known abroad, offered an impetus for the nature of his presentation to be questioned.96 Yet it is possible, too, that the elevation of an online report into a national scandal was also influenced by the November 2003 election victory of Ivo Sanader’s HDZ (note, for instance, Lovrica’s parallel discussion of the incident in the Netherlands and of the EU’s warning to Sanader not to include the far-right HSP in his government97). Whether for left-wingers ashamed that their anti-nationalist alternatives had not been successful, or for nationalists who supported Sanader’s forward-looking and conciliatory leadership, the election could be interpreted as a signal that greater openness regarding the past was not only permissible but necessary. Throughout the Thompson case, this has included a reassessment of the Tudjman government and, in particular, its educational policy. Historical education under Tudjman served primarily to reinforce the ‘statehood narrative’ on which HDZ grounded its legitimacy, including holding up the NDH (presented as separate from the Ustaša movement) as an expression of the Croatian will for independence.98 While this did not amount to ‘official rehabilitation’, the state-led 90

Darko Juka, ‘Hrvatski feniks vjechno zaduzh io Herceg-Bosnu’, Slobodna Dalmacija, 11 August 2003. Jelena Lovrica, ‘Trijezh enje od ustašluka’, Novi list, 26 January 2004. 92 Babica, ‘Thompson — domoljub ili fašist?’; Zh eljko Ivanjek, ‘Slavecai zlochince NDH Thompson sramoti Hrvatsku’, Jutarnji list, 31 December 2003. 93 Frlan and Strukar, ‘Jovchica: Thompson vrijeœa zh rtve Jasenovca, ali i Ovchare’. 94 Slavenka Drakulica, Café Europa: Life After Communism (London: Abacus, 1996), pp. 84, 181. 95 Ivanjek, ‘Thompson sramoti Hrvatsku’. 96 Srd-an Brajchica, ‘Gdje ste bili kad je Thompson pjevao?’, Novi list, 9 January 2004. 97 Jelena Lovri, ‘Perachi crnih košulja’, Novi list, 2 December 2003. 98 Bellamy, pp. 150–51. 91


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politicisation of war memory in Croatia did extend to giving ‘uncritical remembrance’ to leading NDH figures such as Mile Budak.99 Such is the context in which the younger consumers of Thompson’s music have been educated, and, when teenagers at his concerts are interviewed by journalists, they indeed show a tendency to repeat the official line of Tudjmanist education.100 However, one must also recognize that, even leaving aside the political messages of Thompson’s music, his emphasis on male companionship may appeal to certain of his listeners as a space of male friendship and exclusivity in a similar way to the function of the frequent ‘exscription’ of women in metal music.101 Yet, what these youths’ enthusiasm for Thompson appears to reveal is the failure of both the 1990s educational system and its Titoist predecessor, which was chiefly concerned with lauding the Partisans and their own military virtue,102 to provide pupils with ‘basic facts about the nature of fascism, of Ustašism [. . .]. Those youths do not think anything bad about fooling around with Ustašism, because they do not even know anything about it.’103 This assessment by Jelena Lovrica goes on to praise the initiative to give presentations in Croatian schools on Holocaust Memorial Day 2004 as a sign of an overdue change in the historical-educational climate, which under Tudjman was not oriented towards developing skills of critical thinking and debate,104 the tools necessary for these young people to question whether Thompson’s designation of all Croatian defenders as patriots was appropriate. Yet the designation was not only Thompson’s, but Tudjman’s. While Thompson has founded his popularity on a mythicized, folkloric version of Croatian history, which privileges the values of military virtue and a romanticized, glorified vision of the past, he has been able to do so because of the way in which Tudjman used the past as a resource for political legitimation rather than a matter for reasoned discussion. Drakulicas comments on the inability of the Titoist and post-Yugoslav governments to promote a sense of civic responsibility105 may be equally applied to individuals’ responsibility to history, which neither system invited people to confront, but which they both instead invoked in a certain version as the unquestionable foundation for their own authority. Indeed, it is precisely this willingness to accept individual responsibility which is seen, by Drakulica and others,106 as the basis of the German acceptance of, and freedom from, their own past.


Hoepken, pp. 215–16. Marija Crnjak, ‘Svi nešto cmizdre o ljubavi, a Thompson pjeva o Hrvatskoj’, Novi list, 20 October 2002. 101 Walser, pp. 110–01. 102 Hoepken, p. 202. 103 Lovrica, ‘Trijezh enje od ustašluka’. 104 Bellamy, p. 155. 105 Drakulica, p. 117. 106 Ivanjek, ‘Thompson sramoti Hrvatsku’. 100

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Accession to the EU through the Eyes of the Baltic States: Addressing Enlargement, the Convention on the Future of Europe, and the Constitution Mykolas Ch erniauskas Faculty of Law, Groningen University After joining the EU, major changes in the legal and political systems of the Baltic States are of immediate importance. The position of the Baltic States was unique compared to other candidate countries, and having gained independence only twelve years ago, the need to retain and safeguard sovereignty and independence was deemed particularly important. The enlargement of the EU introduced changes to vital concepts such as sovereignty, independence, citizenship, and democracy to the formulation of the constitutions of the Baltic States, and their subsequent accession. Simultaneously the EU’s own constitution was being formulated, with little power accorded to the candidate countries — compared to existing member states — to modify the constitutional conditions of the accession. This paper analyses the position of the Baltic States regarding their accession to the EU, in particular, their viewpoint on the EU Constitution as it relate to their own constitutional, societal, and political values. The participation of the Baltic States in the European Convention is addressed. The paper concludes with an analysis of the question of whether the ideas of the Baltic representatives have been included in the final draft of the EU Constitution, and its possible implications for the Baltic States. There is a popular understanding that despite their ‘turbulent history’ all three Baltic States have always been ‘in Europe’.1 In 2003 the European Union Accession Treaty was signed and the Baltic countries joined the European Union2 (to be referred to henceforth as the EU) on 1 May 2004. The integration to the EU ‘presented both significant challenges and promising opportunities’.3 At the same 1

‘Present and future of Europe — Lithuania’s view’, speech by Antanas Valionis, Foreign affairs Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, at the European Policy Centre — Brussels, 10 June 2002, <>. 2 For the purpose of this article the distinction in the terms ‘European Union’, ’European Community’, and ‘European Economic Community’ is not made. 3 ‘The Future of European Integration’, address by H. E. Dr. Vaira Vike — Freiberga, President of Latvia, at the Slovenian Association for International Relations, Ljubljana, 17 April, 2002, <www.>.

© School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


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time, although the process of harmonization of the legislation of the Baltic countries with the European acquis communautaire can be dated back to 1995, the constitutional implications of the membership were initially left aside. Looking deeper, the enlargement of the EU brings changes to such vital constitutional concepts as sovereignty, independence and democracy as they are established in the constitutions of the Baltic States. The states that acceded to the EU in 2004 can be divided into three groups, the first group being comprised of the Mediterranean states of Malta and Cyprus. The countries that form the other two groups — for most of the second half of the twentieth century — belonged to the Soviet area of influence. Yet compared with other Central and Eastern European states, the Baltics have the ‘crucial difference’ of the far greater impact of Sovietization that shaped their political and economic systems.4 Having regained their independence only twelve years ago, they strictly safeguard it, along with their sovereignty;5 indeed, the provisions regarding sovereignty are given the highest value in their constitutional legal systems.6 Nonetheless, upon entering the EU these concepts might lose their strict, nationally informed meaning and should now be read in the light of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice. Moreover, the EU itself is undergoing major changes at the constitutional level — the Draft Constitution is ‘on the table’.7 Last year the referenda on the issue of the accession were held in the Baltic States, and their results showed the overall support of the citizens. Yet it can be said that the consent of the citizens was given to accede the EU as it was before the Draft EU Constitution. Additionally, the evaluations of the draft EU Constitution are already controversial. This article will address the position of the Baltic States regarding their accession to the EU as related to their own constitutional, societal and political values. It will also give a short overview of the formation of the EU constitution, and will address the characteristics of the most recent Convention and attempt to demonstrate that, despite its generally positive assessment, it was not left to freely decide on the future of the Union. Finally, it will summarize the major proposals of the representatives of the Baltic States on the future of the EU,8 and assess the draft EU Constitution in relation to these proposals. 4 G. P. Herd, ‘The Baltic States and EU Enlargement’, in Central and Eastern Europe and the EU, ed. by K. Henderson (UCL Press, London, 1999), p. 259. 5 E.g., Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania state respectively that the ‘State of Lithuania shall be an independent and democratic republic’ and that ‘The State of Lithuania shall be created by the People. Sovereignty shall be vested in the People’; Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia declares independence and sovereignty timeless and inaliable. 6 E.g., Chapter 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania ‘The State of Lithuania’ argues that among other basic notions of the state, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and separation of powers can only be modified by referendum. 7 K. Hughes, ‘A Dynamic and Democratic European Union or Muddling Through Again? Assessing the EU’s Draft Constitution’, The Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Paper, August 2003,, p. 2. 8 This paper will analyse the position of the Baltic States on the accession to the European Union as well as on the European Union Constitution before and during the Convention. Due to ongoing debate and therefore the possibility of constant changes, the position during the subsequent IGC lies outside the scope of this article.



The necessity of accession and the expectations: ‘We were just in one union, why should we now enter another?’9 The Baltic States re-established their independence only in the beginning of the 1990s. It is not clear whether this was just a twist of fate or an encoded synchronization and resemblance, but the paths that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania took from oppression to freedom are nearly indistinguishable. Accession to the EU has been the aim of the Baltic States for many political, social, and economic reasons, underpinned by the realization that in the times of speedy globalization the best way to articulate and guarantee their national interests is ‘through the collective decision making and solidarity of the EU’.10 Historical factors can also be argued to have played a part: ‘in the ancient times, it was the Lithuanians themselves who asserted super-national authorities. For the past several centuries, however, their neighbours have had the upper hand’.11 Besides membership in NATO, therefore, the principle argument for joining the EU in the Baltics was strengthening their position with regard to their neighbours, particularly Russia.12 Applications for EU membership were made shortly after independence was re-established — the Association Treaties were signed in 1995. The first period of pre-accession was quite competitive: according to the Luxembourg conclusions, Estonia was invited to start the accession negotiations two years earlier than the remaining two Baltic States, effectively making her the ‘winner’ of the process.13 Nevertheless, the ‘rivalry’ period was soon to be in the past — in 1999 Latvia and Lithuania were invited to start the accession negotiations14 that were closed in the end of 2002. The next step was the signing of the EU Accession Treaty,15 preceded (in case of Lithuania) and followed (in case of Estonia and Latvia) by the referenda on the issue of the accession. Despite the overall positive approach towards membership in the EU, the euro-sceptic approach in the Baltic countries still exists.16 Although when asked to describe the EU as if it were a person approximately eighty per cent of the respondents in Lithuania characterize the EU as an ‘honest, reliable, just and clever 9 ‘Constructing a New Europe’, Lecture by Thomas Hendrik Ilves, Minister of foreign Affairs, Estonia, at Humboldt University Berlin, 5 February 2001, < sp050201_en.htm> 10 V. Usackas, ‘The European Union from Lithuanian Perspective’, Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review 2000 / 1(5), p. 1, <>. 11 O. Jusys and K. Sadauskas, ‘Why, How, Who and When: a Lithuanian Perspective on NATO Enlargement’, Fordham International Law Journal, 20 (1997), p. 1636. 12 A. Albi, ‘Referendums in Eastern Europe: The Effects on Reforming the EU Treaties and on the Candidate Countries’ Positions in the Convention’, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre Working Paper, No 2002/65, available at <>, p. 12. 13 The Presidency Conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council, 12–13 December 1997. 14 The Presidency Conclusions of the Helsinki European Council, 10–11 December 1999. 15 <> 16 As was shown by the results of the referendums in the Baltic countries on the accession, the majority of the population voted for it. Nevertheless, the positive voting was based not on the ‘overall acceptance’ of the necessity to join the EU but also on the viewpoint that ‘there is no other option’.


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person’, it is also seen as a ‘selfish manager’. Considering this assessment, it is important to remember that after 1940 the ‘Stalinization projects’ were imposed on all CEE countries, and that the three Baltic States were actually ‘incorporated into the USSR itself ’.18 Moreover, compared to other CEE ‘satellite states’, the Baltics had neither independent economic systems nor armed forces: ‘the politico-economic infrastructure had been totally wedded, integrated towards the Soviet modus vivendi’.19 The fresh experience with ‘another Union’20 and the fear of losing sovereignty makes the accession for the Baltic countries (as compared to the rest of candidate states) more sensitive. The thought that essential decisions, made for the last ten years in a clear and legally understandable way ‘at the level of the democratic post-Westphalian nation-state’, would be shifted to a higher body that, from the viewpoint of the standard parliamentary procedure, was not always ‘clear and transparent, or even understandable’, was very troubling.21 According to Ilves, had the citizens to make the choice between effectiveness (as equated to a greater economic well-being) or democratic decision-making and transparency, they would opt for the latter. Moreover, at the EU level the possibility for an individual to express his opinion, as opposed to the traditional way of pressuring his parliamentary representative or through the political party, becomes much more complicated.22 The validity of these concerns also stems from strong democratic traditions of the last decade of the twentieth century.23 It is evident that at least until the recent past the domestic discussion in the Baltic States concentrated more on ‘their future in Europe rather than on the future of Europe’.24 These two terms are obviously closely connected, however — having achieved the major goal — the invitation to join the EU — the new consuming question was concerned with the nature of the union joined. This question was voiced by the President of the Republic of Latvia, Freiberga: ‘[i]n the year 2004, the EU [. . .] accept[ed] as many as 10 new members into its fold [. . .] [and] [t]his is the time, therefore, to start thinking about the kind of Europe that we wish to live in’.25 Although the answers given to this question vary from state to state, the essence

17 Address by Mr. Rytis Martikonis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Colloquium ‘The Finality of European Union: Ideas and Concepts of the Candidate Countries’, Centre for European Integration Studies, Bonn, Germany, 16–17 November 2001, < /futurum/documents/speech/sp171101_en.pdf>, p. 3. 18 G. P. Herd, ‘The Baltic States and EU Enlargement’, in Central and Eastern Europe and the EU, ed. by K. Henderson (UCL Press, London, 1999), p. 259. Emphasis added. 19 Ibid., pp. 259–60. 20 Albi, p. 12. 21 T. H. Ilves. 22 Ibid. 23 Again, the issue of referendum can be mentioned. Since 1990, already nine referenda have taken place. The questions that were put included issues (among others) as to whether Lithuania should be an independent state, whether the institute of the president should be re-enacted, whether the soviet army should not be present on the Lithuanian soil and the approval of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. 24 Valionis, ‘Present and Future of Europe — Lithuania’s View’. Emphasis added. 25 Freiberga, ‘The Future of European Integration’.



is the same and easily predictable. According to former Lithuanian President Adamkus, ‘we must work for a EU that is legitimate. A Union where the small are not governed by the big’.26 In an explicit admission of the fears of the Baltic States, President Lennart Meri said, ‘Estonians do not want their nation state to disappear’.27 This desire to avoid being subsumed by the EU is clearly shared by Freiberga: I believe that most Latvians see the Europe of the future as a united continent of equal and sovereign partners, where relationships between member-states are based on partnership and mutual respect, and where the interests of all Member States are taken into account.28

Interestingly for the Baltic countries, the current enlargement of the EU is not simply an ‘enlargement per se’; it is essentially connected to the question of the future of the Union. Initiated in 2002 the Convention on the Future of Europe presented the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe,29 paving the way for the emergence of a new, broader union. However, the reforms of the constitutional structure of the EU do not have the same univocal support among the EU Member States as among the accession countries. Moreover, as R. Martikonis has pointed out, ‘the notions of “federation” or “constitution”, “solidarity” or “division of competences” have quite a different meaning for different participants of the debate’.30 In comparison with the current EU Member States as well as with the majority of the accession countries, the Baltic States have specific, historically rooted concerns about the level of involvement accorded by their membership. Incorporation of the European acquis that exists at present was only a ‘half job’. The changes that are leading to the ever-closer union are being made at the level of the EU itself — the EU Constitution seems set to be adopted in the nearest future. The formation of the EU’s constitution is not a sudden or recent development, however — the current stage is the outcome of a long process, a brief analysis of which will follow. Constitution-making in the EU so far The present constitutional debate in Europe is not a radically new development. Interestingly, in the context of European integration, the term ‘constitutional’ was used in 1951, when the official report for the Bundestag by the German government on the text of the Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and Steel Community portrayed the system to be established as ‘a European model of a 26

Address by H.E. Mr Valdas Adamkus, The President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Nice European Conference, < kalba Nicojeangl.doc>. 27 Speech by Lennart Meri, The President of the Republic of Estonia, to the German Foreign Policy Society on 8 November 2000, in Berlin, ‘Estonia as the Touchstone of European Integration?’ <>. 28 Freiberga, ‘The Future of European Integration’. 29 Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, < constitution/index_en.htm>. 30 Martikonis, ‘The Finality of European Union’, p. 3.


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constitutional type’. In addition, although as the point of departure for the reform of the ‘Constitution for European citizens’ the Laeken Declaration mentioned only the four Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights,32 these ‘were not the only sources of constitutional acquis which the Convention had to grapple with in developing the text which its President presented to the European Council in Thessaloniki in late June 2003’.33 The EEC Treaty was silent on the constitutional aspects of the Community membership. One of the reasons for this was the fact that when signing the three treaties establishing the Community, the ‘extent to which Community law might be directly effective was not envisaged’.34 Nevertheless, starting from the early 1960s and continuing to the early 1970s the European Court of Justice gave a series of decisions establishing four doctrines35 that ‘fixed the relationship between Community law and Member States’ law and rendered that relationship indistinguishable from analogous legal relationships in constitutional federal states’.36 In addition, in the 1980s and in the very beginning of the 1990s, the Court ruled that the EEC Treaty could be characterised as a ‘basic constitutional charter’;37 this decision was repeated in Opinion 1/91 (Draft Agreement on a European Economic Area).38 The aim of these rulings was to advance the status of Community law even though this resulted in the diminishing sovereignty of the Member States. 31 C. F. Ophuis, ‘Zur ideengeschichtlichen Herkunft der Gemeinschaftsverfassung’, in Probleme des Europaischen Rechts, ed. by E. von Caemmerer, H. -J. Schlochauer, and Steindorff, Festschrift fur Walter Hallstein zu seinem 65. Geburtstag (Frankfurt-am-Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1996), cited in J. Shaw, ‘What’s in a Convention? Process and Substance in the Project of European Constitution-building’, 89 Political Science Series, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, June 2003, < publications/pol/pw_89.pdf>, p. 5. 32 Laeken Declaration of 15 December 2001, cited on < offtext/doc151201_en.htm>. 33 Shaw, Job. Cit. p. 2. 34 Steiner & Woods, European Community Law, 7th edn (2000), p. 85. 35 Firstly, the doctrines of vertical (Case 26/62, NV. Algemene Transporten Expeditie Onderneming van Gend en Loos v. Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen [1963] ECR 1) and horizontal (Case 43/75, Defrenne v SABENA, [1976] ECR 455) direct effect; secondly, the doctrine of supremacy (Case 6/64, Costa v. ENEL [1964] ECR 585); thirdly, the doctrine of implied powers (Case 22/70, Commission of the European Communities v. Council of the European Communities, [1971] ECR 263); and fourthly, the doctrine of human rights (Case 29/69 Stauder [1969] ECR 419). 36 J. H. H. Weiler, ‘The Transformation of Europe’, Yale Law Journal, 100 (1991), p. 2413. Emphasis added. 37 Case 294/86 Parti Ecologiste ‘Les Verts’ v. Parliament [1986] ECR 1339, para 23. Opinion 1/91 (Draft Agreement on a European Economic Area ) [1991] ECR 6079. 38 Opinion 1/91 (Draft Agreement on a European Economic Area) [1991] ECR 6079, paragraph 1. According to the ECJ, the ‘The European Economic Area is to be established on the basis of an international treaty which merely creates rights and obligations as between the Contracting Parties and provides for no transfer of sovereign rights to the inter-governmental institutions which it sets up. In contrast, the EEC Treaty, albeit concluded in the form of an international agreement, none the less constitutes the constitutional charter of a Community based on the rule of law. The Community treaties established a new legal order for the benefit of which the States have limited their sovereign rights and the subjects of which comprise not only Member States but also their nationals. The essential characteristics of the Community legal order, which has thus been established, are in particular its primacy over the law of the Member States and the direct effect of a whole series of provisions’. Emphasis added.



However, from the beginning of the 1990’s (the ‘Maastricht era’) the Court did not use ‘constitutional’ language — this can be easily explained by the debate raised by the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. On the other hand, the idea of the constitution for the EU, ‘both as an actually existing framework and as a future project for development, as one way of guaranteeing government subject to the rule of law and respect for individual rights against majoritarian (sic) tyranny’ has not been relinquished.39 This is why the Convention presented a golden opportunity to introduce a Constitution that would finalize the constitutional evolution of the EU. The specifics of the convention on the future of Europe Established by the Laeken Declaration, the Convention on the Future of Europe was not the first Convention in the history of the EU. The new procedure for the development of constitutional rules — the Convention — was introduced when drafting the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.40 Nevertheless, if the latter was given a mandate to draft a document that now is only a complementary part of the Draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, the former had a more important role. Even more significant is that the Laeken Declaration was the first document in the history of the EU to be approved by the European Council and include the magic ‘C’ word — ‘[t]owards a Constitution for European citizens’.41 Quoting the Declaration, one of the main tasks was the simplification or reorganisation of the four Treaties.42 This gave rise to various questions: why the reform of the treaties could not have been made in the familiar IGC model? Why was a Convention necessary? And, more significantly for the Baltic States, was the Convention at liberty to decide upon the future Constitution? Or was the intergovernmental approach already ingrained from the very start? Generally, the IGC acts as the guardian of the existing treaties on the one hand and as the ultimate source of their revision on the other. The experience of negotiating the Amsterdam and Nice Treaties demonstrated the limits of the IGC model. Firstly, the issues that the previous IGCs were solving were so sensitive as to lead to a ‘deadlock in negotiations’, and the list of unsolved questions kept growing.43 In light of this, finding a solution for the European Constitution during the IGC did not seem very probable. Secondly and probably most importantly, ‘the role of the European institutions was kept at a minimum’ — neither the Commission nor the European Parliament were given a strong role, which, taking into consideration that neither of them are dependant upon the ‘national taboo areas’, had great significance.44 The stronger influence of the Commission, considered ‘the best friend


Shaw, pp. 3, 6–7. C. Closa, ‘Improving EU Constitutional Politics? A Preliminary Assessment of the Convention’, Constitutionalism Web-Papers, <>, p. 2. 41 Shaw, p. 1. 42 Laeken Declaration of 15 December 2001. 43 L. Hoffman, ‘The Convention on the Future of Europe — Thoughts on the Convention Model’, Jean Monnet Working Paper 11/02, <>, pp. 2–3. 44 Ibid., pp. 3–5. 40


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of smaller countries’ would have been a very positive step. The situation can be summed up in the words of Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who portrayed the IGC as ‘an arena for diplomatic negotiations between Member States in which each party sought legitimately to maximise its gains without regard for the overall picture’.46 As the last two IGCs failed to resolve the issues related to the constitutional order of the EU, the IGC model seemed to have come to a ‘dead-end as far as ‘big politics’ are concerned’.47 The Convention on the Future of Europe was a departure from the usual method of settling issues.48 Initially, it was far from clear what its results would be. The mandate provided to the Convention by the Laeken Declaration with started with the proposal to simplify the four Treaties and ended with a suggestion about the probable ‘adoption of a constitutional text in the Union’. Yet in his first speech at the opening session of the Convention on 28 February 2002, the President of the Convention Giscard d’Estaing stated his strong wish that the outcome of the Convention should be a ‘single proposal’ named a ‘constitutional treaty for Europe’.49 Some heads of states considered that the Convention would be ‘no more than a high level talk show’, however. Also, there was a widespread opinion that even had the Convention produced a series of options, the governments in the following IGC would ‘largely ignore [. . .] results [of the Convention] and carry on as before’.50 Even so, to make sure that the Convention would not depart from its original purpose, the European Council at Laeken included several safeguards. The candidature of the future President of the Convention was of foremost importance. The comparison between the Presidents of the two Conventions — d’Estaing and Roman Herzog — is notable. Although both had been the presidents in their countries, they came from different backgrounds — the one the president of a unitary state, and the other a former constitutional court judge in a federal state. Consequently, under the direction of d’Estaing the outcome of the Convention was not expected to be a ‘Superstate’ with a clearly federal constitution. Secondly, announcing that the length of the proceedings of the Convention should be no longer than one year, the Laeken Council put the Convention into a very restricted time frame. Thirdly, only the President of the Convention and two of his ViceChairmen, together with the Members of the European Parliament had the capacity

45 D. Kral, I. Brinar, and J. Almer, ‘The Position of Small Countries Towards Institutional Reform: From Tyranny of the Small to Directoire of the Big?’, EPIN Working Paper No. 6/June 2003, p. 3. 46 Introductory Speech by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing to the Convention on the Future of Europe, 28 February 2002, <>. 47 L. Hoffman, p. 6. 48 A. Duff, ‘A Liberal Reaction to the European Convention and the Intergovernmental Conference’, the Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Paper , July 2003, < uploads/constitution/23_03.pdf>, p. 2. 49 Introductory Speech by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing to the Convention on the Future of Europe, 28 February 2002, <>. 50 P. Norman, ‘From the Convention to IGC’, the Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Paper September 2003, <>, p. 2.



to devote their full time and attention to the work of the Convention — other participants had ‘other jobs’ at home.51 In addition, regarding many major areas, e.g. simplification of legislation or foreign policy, the Convention proceeded in a clear and structured manner — the issues were debated openly as well as being examined in the working groups.52 Concerning the institutional structure of the future Union, the last stages of the Convention were hurried and the Convention was ‘deliberately kept in the dark by Giscard and the secretariat’ and during the final weeks no serious debate on the institutions occurred.53 Fourthly, though at the first glance the large size of the Convention can be seen as a positive step in the matter of representation, the same great number of delegates naturally hinders the possibility of a strong self-organisation and at the same time ‘reinforces the role of the President’.54 Next to this, as the Convention was approaching the end, the Commission did not succeed in playing a leading role.55 Finally, the national governments left themselves the right to accept or reject the outcomes of the Convention — the interests of the states were to be maximized at the subsequent IGC. The proceedings seem aptly summarized by a comment on a convention some two hundred years earlier: the 1787 Convention of Philadelphia, described by George Washington as the ‘Convention which can debate everything, can propose anything but can decide nothing’.56 The participation and the ideas of the Baltic representatives or ‘Let’s Get It All Fixed Before The Barbarians Are Let In’57 Regardless of all the imperfections, the Convention on the Future of Europe was still the place where the Baltic States should have been active. In the words of Latvia’s Prime Minister Andris Berzins, ‘it is most crucial, given our 20th century historical experience, that we actively participate in the EU Convention work and not be passive onlookers allowing others to decide in our name’.58 Yet the right to participate in the ‘process of shaping’ their place in the future EU was limited from the very start — the representatives of the ‘accession candidate countries’ were permitted to take part in the proceedings of the Convention ‘without, however, being able to prevent any consensus’ which would emerge among the current Member States.59 Considering that during the time when the Laeken Declaration was signed the accession negotiations had not been closed, this can be seen as a safeguard. On the other hand, from the view of the Member States it offered the 51

Hoffman, pp. 8–9. Hughes, p. 2. 53 Norman, p. 4. 54 Closa, p. 4. 55 Norman, p. 4. The importance of the Commission for the small states will be explained later in this paper. 56 Closa, pp. 4–5. Emphasis added. 57 Ilves. 58 Contribution from Ms Inese Birzniece, alternate member of the Convention: The future of the European Union, 19 July 2002, CONV 207/02. 59 Laeken Declaration of 15 December 2001, cited on < offtext/doc151201_en.htm>. 52


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opportunity to ‘distribute gains between current members [. . .] while shifting costs to would-be members’. Furthermore, it cannot be presumed that the candidate countries share a priori the ‘common tastes on the future constitutional shape of the Union’.60 The proposal to allow the representatives of the ten new countries to obtain equal status with the other members of the Convention after April 16, 2003,61 as having ‘major political and symbolic significance’ was proposed,62 but was never implemented in practice. Until the very last stages of the Convention the Praesidium and its chairman Valery Giscard d’Estaing kept refusing to incorporate the proposals of the small countries, even acknowledging to some European media that it should not be naturally assumed that all the states are equal.63 Such observations, however, can imply an ideological uniformity between the accession countries for which there is little proof: it cannot be presumed that the candidate countries share a priori the ‘common tastes on the future constitutional shape of the Union’.64 The representatives of the Baltic countries were able to make some contribution to the Convention, however, including the contemplation of such questions as the title of the Constitutional Treaty, stating that it should not be named a ‘Constitution for Europe’ and that it ‘should be first of all associated with the EU as a multilevel governance system’.65 There was also some discussion of the possible relationship of the EU Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as the role of the European Convention of Human Rights.66 In light of the fact that the Laeken Declaration acknowledged the need that the ‘European institutions must be brought closer to its citizens’67 and that it is national parliaments that are the closest to the citizens and enable them ‘to identify themselves as a part of the nation state’,68 many contributions concentrated on the role of national parliaments. 60

Closa, p. 8. I.e. after the Accession Treaty was signed in Athens. 62 Contribution from Ms Liene Liepina, Mr Rihards Piks (among others), members of the Convention, ‘On the full participation of the acceding states in the European Convention, and on the timing of the Intergovernmental Conference to follow’, 19 February 2003, CONV 566/03. 63 Kral, Brinar, and Almer, p. 1. 64 Closa, p. 8. 65 Contribution from Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, member of the Convention: ‘Draft of articles 1 to 16 of the Constitutional Treaty’, 26 February 2003, CONV 578/03. 66 See, e.g. the contribution by Mr Rihards Piks and Mr Krisjanis Karins (among others), ‘Incorporation of the Charter in the EU Constitutional Treaty’, 14 April 2003, CONV 659/03; the contribution by Mr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, member of the Convention, based on the ‘Position Discussed by the Committee on European Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania’, 10 October 2002, CONV 338/02. 67 Laeken Declaration of 15 December 2001. 68 Contribution from Mr Peter Kreitzberg and Mr Tunne Kelam, members of the Convention: ‘Role of National Parliaments’, 13 June 2002, CONV 95/02. On this issue also see, e.g. the contribution by Mr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, member of the Convention and Mrs Dalia Kutraite — Giedraitiene, alternate member of the Convention, ‘Strengthening the Role of National Parliaments’, 1 August 2002, CONV 220/02, or contribution by Liene Liepina (among others), ‘The Role of National Parliaments’, 23 January 2003, CONV 503/03. Nevertheless, such questions as the scrutiny of the national Governments’ representatives on their work in the Council of Minister remain at the discretion of the Member States, therefore in this paper this problem won’t be raised. 61



Considering the recent history of the Baltic States it comes as no surprise that the equality of Member States and the strengthening of the community method were envisaged as the main premises for the institutional reform of the EU. Both these arguments can be justified by the legitimate fear that after the accession the more prominent EU Member States would put the Baltic countries in the shade — no arrangements that would mean the establishment of ‘a hierarchy of Member States, or to differentiate between them in terms of their entitlement to involvement in the operation of the institutions’ were desired.69 The ideas given by the Baltic representatives at the Convention may be summarized as relating to two key issues: firstly, the question of the presidency of the Council, and secondly, the preservation of the community method as well as on the size of the Commission.70 European Council To start with, the Baltic members of the Convention saw the principle of the rotating Presidency of the European Council as a matter of the utmost importance. They argued that as an ‘integral part of the overall institutional balance within the Union’ as currently organized, it ‘allow[ed] for the regular infusion of fresh energy and new perspectives’.71 Retention of the current system would therefore ensure ‘the equality of the Member States and their direct participation in the EU governance’ as well as play the role of ‘an important link between the citizens of Member States and EU institutions’.72 The Commission Envisaging the Commission as a ‘strong supranational, independent and collegial body’, the Baltic representatives correctly saw the need for ‘equality as between the Member States in the composition and operation of the Commission’. That stressed that the achievements of the EU had been ‘underpinned by the community method which reflects its unique nature as a union of states and peoples’, promoting the common purpose ‘while respecting diversity of identity’. In order for the Community method to be viable, the ‘careful equilibrium’ among the institutions

69 Contribution by (among others) Ms Sandra Kalniete, Mr Rytis Martikonis, and Mr Lennart Meri, representatives of the Governments of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia (respectively) ‘Reforming the Institutions: Principles and Premises’, 28 March 2003, CONV 646/03. 70 In this part of the paper the contributions of the representatives of the Baltic States are summed up, a more detailed theoretical analysis will be given below. 71 Contribution by (among others) Ms Sandra Kalniete, Mr Rytis Martikonis, and Mr Lennart Meri, representatives of the Governments of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia (respectively) ‘Reforming the Institutions: Principles and Premises’, 28 March 2003, CONV 646/03. 72 Contribution submitted by Mr Rytis Martikonis, member of the Convention: ‘Position of the Government of Lithuania on the EU Institutional Reform’, 28 February 2003, CONV 589/03. Emphasis added. Here it can be also said that there were proposals to amend the six-month presidency rule, nevertheless, any new system of EU Presidency should maintain the principle of equality of all Member States. Contribution by Mr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, member of the Convention, based on the ‘Position Discussed by the Committee on European Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania’, 10 October 2002, CONV 338/02.


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should not be ‘upset’. Consequently, the Baltic States argued that the ‘one commissioner per Member State’ principle, as guaranteeing the equality, should be preserved.74 The House that Valery built On 20 June 2003 the Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was presented to the European Council meeting in Thessaloniki. Despite the fact that the most sensitive issues were left for the subsequent IGC, it is possible to look at the draft and to have a glimpse whether the ideas of the Baltic representatives came to reality. According to Article I-21, the European Council elects its President for a once renewable term of two and a half years. The issue whether the Presidency should rotate on the present basis of six months was a highly sensitive one, though mostly advocated by the small states. The question arises — why was it important for the Baltic countries to seek the ‘six months Presidency’ rule? Expressing their wish to maintain the present system when the presidency of the Council rotates each six months, the Baltic States (as well as most of the other small countries) saw it as the way to keep the balance between the small and the big countries. In addition, for the small Member States the rotating presidency served as a psychologically positive step — the citizens can ‘see’ that it is their country that is ‘running the EU’. On the other hand, this argument seems to be more of an emotional nature — the EU agenda is more of a ‘self-driven process’ and, running the EU once per thirteen years, the actual influence might not be substantial.75 Another argument for preserving the status quo exists, however: the two Presidencies — the President of the Commission and the permanent President of the European Council — seemed to be on unequal footing — the President of the Commission had the institutional support — the Commission — behind him. It seemed likely, then, that the permanent President of the European Council would develop administrative apparatus around him to counter this automatic support.76 In this way the role of the President of the Commission might decrease with the consequence of the strengthening the intergovernmental method and putting the small states into danger. Article I-25 of the Draft Treaty states that after 1 November 2009 there will be a two-tier Commission — 15 Commissioners will have a right to vote and the rest will be appointed by the President of the Commission as non-voting ones. In addition, the voting Commissioners will be selected ‘on the basis of a system of 73 Contribution by (among others) Ms Sandra Kalniete, Mr Rytis Martikonis, and Mr Lennart Meri, representatives of the Governments of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia (respectively) ‘Reforming the Institutions: Principles and Premises’, 28 March 2003, CONV 646/03. 74 The latter notion applies ‘if Nice treaty provisions are revisited’. Contribution submitted by Mr Rytis Martikonis, member of the Convention: ‘Position of the Government of Lithuania on the EU Institutional Reform’, 28 February 2003, CONV 589/03. 75 Kral, Brinar, and Almer, pp. 2–3. 76 P. Craig, ‘What Constitution Does Europe Need? The House that Giscard Built: Constitutional Rooms with a View’, The Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Paper, August 2003, <>, p. 4.



equal rotation between Member States’. What this actually means is the division of the Commissioners and of the countries to ‘first-rank’ and to ‘second-rank’.77 The evolution of the EU clearly demonstrates why the composition of the European Commission is of such importance to the small states. Initially, the role of the Commission in the European Coal and Steel Community was aimed to be an additional intergovernmental body next to the supranational High Authority in order to protect the interests of the small states against the big ones. Later on, at the European Economic Community and the Euroatom the power shifted to the Council — the majority voting was introduced. A counterbalance was necessary to safeguard the interests of the small states and so the community method was introduced,78 ensuring an ‘independent and representative mediator institution’ — the Commission — that made proposals aimed at the reconciliation of the interests of all the Member States. Concerning the new policies the mediator’s role is meant ‘to make majority voting acceptable to a minority which may be outvoted’.79 This is why the community method is based on the ‘independent and fully representative Commission’, and why its erosion would be to the sole benefit of the larger Member States. The experience of the candidate countries was that the community method had smoothed the enlargement process and helped to overcome political factors ‘not directly interconnected with the enlargement process itself’, and was, most importantly, ‘the model that respects the sovereignty of newly established states’.80 The aspiration of the small countries to preserve the principle of ‘one Commissioner per Member State’ usually faces the critique that the commissioners are not representatives of their states — according to the Article 213 (2) of the EC Treaty they ‘neither seek nor take instructions from any government or from any other body’. This is true. Nevertheless the distinction should be made between the Commission as a supranational body on one hand and its more intergovernmental nature (where the commissioners act as a link between the Commission and the nation state) on the other. This second option implies that a small state sees its ‘own’ commissioner as having the power to influence the matters within the Commission that are important to that particular state, as well as to ‘convey a European message’ in the home country.81 Without their own Commissioner the ‘Brussels Executive’ would ‘be perceived [by the smaller members] as an unduly distant and abstract body unconnected with their country’.82 77 ‘Why Twenty-five Commissioners are Necessary for Europe’, Contribution to the Discussion corner on the Futurum site by Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, <http://www.>. 78 Kral, Brinar, and Almer, pp. 6–7. 79 J. T. Lang, ‘The Convention on the Future of Europe — So Far’, the Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Paper, June 2003, <>, p. 2. 80 Kral, Brinar, and Almer, pp. 7–8. 81 Ibid., p. 8. According to Jacques Delors, ‘[e]xperience shows that, for the large majority of countries, the European Commissioner is the person who reassures, who guarantees that the situation of his or her country of origin is taken into consideration in Brussels and conversely is the person who can explain to the government of his nationality all the ins and outs of each dossier’, Agence Europe, 29 April 2003, cited in Lang, p. 10. 82 R. Prodi, ‘Why Twenty-five Commissioners are Necessary for Europe’.


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Unfortunately, the suggestions of the Baltic representatives in the Convention were not endorsed by Giscard d’Estaing. Even if he had no blueprint of the constitutional treaty in the beginning, his idea was that the Commission should be reshaped (breaking the Nice Treaty formula of ‘one Commissioner per Member State’) ‘in favour of a smaller, collegiate model which in his view would be more effective’.83 The implications of this are serious: though aimed at efficiency, the two-tier Commission poses the threat of intergovernmentalizing the EU.84 In conclusion, the success of the Convention will depend upon the IGC. Nevertheless, for the Baltic States the compromise that has been reached during the Convention does not seem to be very encouraging. Though wishing to be equal partners in the EU they are left on unequal footing. They should now be concerned with the devaluation of the community method, in order to ensure no further marginalization. Whether they will be successful in this endeavour is open to speculation: ‘the Small states gave in weakly in Nice, and they may do so again’.85 Having analysed the constitution-making process in the EU, the position of the Baltic countries, as well as whether their expectations are reflected in the draft EU Constitution, an observation on the necessity of the EU Constitution can be presented. As stated above, the Convention (at least concerning the debate on the EU institutional structure) was far from open. History has frequently demonstrated that the implementation of a working constitution is far less essential to those who control the balance of power, however. Nineteenth-century constitutionalism shows that for many ‘ancien-regime rulers’ the writing of constitutions was a way to conciliate public opinion. Notwithstanding the fact that these constitutions had afterwards been conceded by monarchical rulers to their subjects, they often appeared to be ineffective due to the lack of ‘the important constitutive characteristics emanating from the very act of the people giving a constitution to themselves. Mutatis mutandi, the same risk may be said to apply to the process of European constitutionalization, which for all its legal and procedural legitimacy may ultimately fail in point of democratic and popular legitimacy’.86 Moreover, from the viewpoint of Weiler, a formal constitution for the EU poses a risk of upsetting ‘the delicate constitutional balance based on ‘tolerance’ which he identifies as the ‘basis for the EU at the present stage’.87 According to Weiler: constitutional actors in the Member States accept the European constitutional discipline not because [. . .] as is the case in the federal state, they are subordinate to a higher sovereignty and authority attaching to norms validated by the federal people, the constitutional demos. They accept it as an autonomous voluntary act,


Norman, p. 3. Hughes, p. 8. 85 Lang, p. 9. 86 D. Castiglione, From the Charter to the Constitution of Europe? Notes on the Constitutionalisation Process in the EU, Queens Papers on Europeanization, No 5, 2002, < poe5-02.pdf>, p. 3. 87 Shaw, p. 7. 84



endlessly renewed on each occasion, of subordination, in the discrete areas governed by Europe to a norm which is the aggregate expression of other wills, other political identities, other political communities.88

In some sectors, the Convention has been seen to have permanently ingrained the worst characteristics of the EU while weakening one of the best — ‘the capacity for the flexible development of an EU polity and regime that respects the diversity of its constituent parts’.89 The words of Romano Prodi encapsulate the implications of constitutional developments that take this path: While the European interest is not the sum of national interests, it cannot be identified and promoted without the knowledge and contribution of all Member States. A European interest that ignored the interests of the Member States might produce states with no European interest.90

Clearly, in the quest for a stable and prosperous Europe, the interests of the small countries, including the Baltics, cannot not be disregarded. Historically, agreements adopted by the ‘rulers of Europe’s largest empires’ that paid little attention to the needs of the ‘continent’s smaller nations’ have not been uncommon.91 And it should not be so any more. Biographical Note Mykolas Ch erniauskas ia a PhD candidate and Ubbo Emmius Fellow at the Department of International and Constitutional Law, Faculty of Law, Groningen University, where he can be contacted at: He is also a lawyer–linguist for the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg and can be contacted there at the following address: With regard to this paper thanks are due to Gerhard Hoogers and Liina Ilomets for their valuable help.


J. J. H. Weiler, ‘A Constitution for Europe? Some Hard Choices’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 40.4 (p. 568), cited in Shaw, p. 7. 89 R. Bellamy, ‘Which Constitution for What Kind of Europe? Three Models of European Constitutionalism’, The Federal Trust for Education and Research Working Papers, January 2003 <http://www.> p. 3. 90 R. Prodi, ‘Why Twenty-five Commissioners are Necessary for Europe’. 91 Freiberga, ‘The Future of European Integration’.

S¢ovo, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

The Significance and Insignificance of Time in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools Deborah Hodgkinson School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies This article draws on both existing scholarship and a close reading of the prime text in order to examine the theme of time in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools from all angles. Beginning with existing psychological interpretations (derived from the chief character and narrator’s split personality) the article goes on to examine the political, philosophical, and artistic implications of the novel’s a-chronic structure, which embroils not only the relationship between the novel’s fabula and siuzhet, but also its narrative style right down to the linguistic level. The theme of time emerges as inextricable from the novel’s central theme of artistic freedom. ‘In our mind something is wrong with time, we don’t understand time properly.’1 Such is the repeated assertion of Sasha Sokolov’s schizophrenic adolescent narrator, ‘student so-and-so’, the bicycle-riding observer of the novel’s dacha community setting, butterfly-catcher extraordinaire, and student at the eponymous school for fools. The fact that something is ‘wrong’ with time is apparent at every level in the novel: from the above leitmotif which recurs in various forms no less than five times (pp. 22, 26, 33, 101, 107); to narratorial diatribes condemning the ‘poetical nonsense’ of traditional calendars (pp. 33–34); to the very style of the narration which at times proceeds in three tenses at once (p. 34). These very visible pointers to the provisionality of time in A School for Fools are echoed in the structure of the novel as a whole, which flits a-chronically between episodes which may be recollections, flights of the imagination, or a combination of both and which are recounted (and disputed) by the two voices of the narrator’s split personality. It is immediately apparent that time in Sokolov’s novel is not conventional. But how are we to make sense of this idiosyncratic chronology? One approach would be to accept the premise of the novel (that it is narrated by a schizophrenic) at face value and to view the a-temporal structure and characteristics as plausible reflections of the narrator’s abnormal perception of reality. Indeed, Cynthia Simmons, placing the text within the context of theories on schizophrenic speech has proven that student so-and-so’s narration bears interpretation as 1

Sasha Sokolov, A School for Fools, trans. by Carl Proffer (Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1988), pp. 22–23. All further references are from this edition and are given in parentheses after quotations in the text.

© School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


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an example of ‘thought-disordered schizophrenic discourse’.2 She quotes Gregory Bateson’s ‘double bind’ theory that concludes that the motivation behind schizophrenic thought-disordered discourse is self-defence. In relation to the question of time, this defensiveness manifests itself in a deliberate haziness. Simmons quotes Bateson again, who writes that a schizophrenic ‘may obscure the fact that he is speaking in metaphor or in some special code, and he is likely to distort or omit all reference to time and place’.3 This would appear to be confirmed by the narrator’s own admission: Although the doctors maintain that I got well long ago — to this day I cannot be precise and make definite judgements about anything that is in the slightest degree connected with the concept of time. It would appear to me that we have some sort of misunderstanding and confusion about it, about time, not everything is what it should be. (p. 33, original emphasis)

Other examples of this inability to understand chronology include the narrator’s professed discomfort with words denoting periods of time. For instance, the word ‘second’ is followed twice by the disclaimer: ‘if I understand correctly the meaning of the aforementioned word’ (pp. 150, 173). At another point, one half of the student’s personality interrupts the other to question what he means by the ‘incomprehensible words’: ‘to this time, after many years’ (p. 223, original emphasis). And yet, it is not just a matter of student so-and-so being unable to understand time as it is generally understood. Rather, he explicitly casts doubt on the validity of conventional ways of measuring time and even the very assumption that it only flows one way! Years are referred to as ‘so-called’ (pp. 66, 178), clocks and calendars ridiculed, and time regularly called both ‘non-existent’ (p. 190) and having a ‘backwards flow’ (pp. 121, 130–31). The student’s conception of time is arguably not so much a symptom of his illness as a philosophical conviction. Indeed, to support his theory, he quotes ‘a philosopher’ he has come across in a newspaper article: The philosopher wrote that in his opinion time had a reverse side, that is, that it moved not in the direction we suppose it should move, but in reverse, backwards, because everything which was — all this is just going to be, he said, the real future is the past, and that which we call the future has already passed and will never be repeated. (p. 130)

This state of affairs effectively renders time insignificant. It releases the student from the passage of time with its concomitant traumatic changes. This article will argue that the narrator’s idiosyncratic presentation of time functions both as a tool for achieving freedom and as a symptom of that freedom — freedom from time itself but also from society, identity, cause and effect, change and death. We will consider each in turn beginning with the most significant — death. 2 Cynthia Simmons, ‘School for Fools: The Spirit of an “Abnormal Condition”’, in Simmons, Their Father’s Voice: Vassily Aksenov, Venedikt Erofeev, Eduard Limonov, and Sasha Sokolov (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1993), pp. 125–58 (p. 129). 3 Gregory Bateson, ‘The Group Dynamics of Schizophrenia’, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (New York: Ballantine, 1972), pp. 228–43 (p. 235), quoted in Simmons, Their Father’s Voice, p. 131.



Arguably the most crucial image in A School for Fools is the dacha river. Rivers are a common (one could even say hackneyed) image for symbolizing the passage of time. The inevitability of change is encapsulated in the saying, attributed to Heraclitus, that one cannot step in the same river twice because both it and the person stepping in it are different. And the inevitability of death is also often symbolized by the image of the river following its unalterable course to the sea. Sokolov invests his river with still more overtones of death and oblivion by naming it after the river Lethe of Greek mythology. However, despite the expectations raised by all this imagery the dacha river does not flow inexorably from its source to the sea; rather, in perfect conformity with student so-and-so’s theory of time, it flows in both directions at once ‘according to its own desire’ (pp. 176, 192). That this symbolizes the multi-directional flow of time is lent further resonance by fact that the word Lethe in Russian is identical to the word ‘years’ (leta). And since time is provisional, it follows that death, too, is inconclusive. The river (which as D. Barton Johnson points out also possesses many attributes of another mythological river, the Styx)4 proves to be a very porous border between the realms of the living and the dead. The character of the student’s mentor and geography teacher, Pavel (known to the student as Savl) Norvegov, who lives on the other side of the river, is so unchanged by his death that he has considerable trouble remembering that it has occurred, just as the two sides of the narrator’s personality, when describing interactions with him, have difficulty establishing whether he was alive or dead at the time (pp. 129–30). In rare categorical statements regarding the sequence of events, the narrator usually confirms that Norvegov was dead. And yet these admissions do not seem to cast any doubt on the fact that the meetings with him took place. True, around the time we met Norvegov on the platform, to him, i.e., Pavel Petrovich, everything seemed to indicate, it made no difference if our father respected him or not, inasmuch as around this time he, i.e., our instructor, did not exist, he had died in the spring of the year such-and-such, that is, some two years before our meeting with him on that same platform. (p. 26)

Nor is it necessary to explain away Norvegov’s presence as the apparition of a ghost. In a world where time flows both backwards and forwards it is perfectly possible for a dead man to co-exist with the living. It is important to emphasize at this point that the universe created here is not Sokolov’s, but belongs explicitly to the character and narrator student so-and-so. The reader is perhaps supposed to infer that in some meta-fabula which we never actually see, events are much more conclusive: the young student’s teacher died, the student’s parents sold their dacha, the student grew up and left the school for fools. And that, unable to adapt to these traumatic changes, the character–narrator lives in a fantasy world — the chronology of which he controls — where these changes, though not denied, are somehow reversible. 4 D. Barton Johnson, ‘Sasha Sokolov’s Twilight Cosmos: Themes and Motifs’, (hereafter, ‘Twilight Cosmos’), Slavic Review, 45.4 (1986), 639–49 (p. 646).


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And I also thought, [reading the article by the philosopher] [. . .] but if time is rushing back, that means everything is normal, therefore Savl, who died precisely at the time when I read the article, therefore Savl still will be, that is, will come, will return — he is ahead. (p. 130)

This applies both to Norvegov’s death and to the sale of the dacha: But there were now some different dacha folk in our garden, not us, inasmuch as by that time we had sold our dacha. Or maybe hadn’t yet bought it. Here nothing can be asserted with confidence, in this given case everything depends on time, or vice versa — nothing depends on time. (p. 201 – emphasis added)

It also applies to the student’s age and occupation. The clearest example of this is his response to his mother’s accusation that he cannot possibly be an engineer since he is still a student: Dear mama, I don’t know if one can be an engineer and a schoolboy together, perhaps some people can’t, some are unable, some haven’t been given the gift, but I, having chosen freedom, one of its forms, I am free to act as I wish and to be whoever I want either simultaneously or separately. (p. 107 – emphasis added)

The use of the word ‘chosen’ implies that the freedom created by denying time is not merely a symptom of the narrator’s insanity, but a conscious decision to escape the passage of time. There is a clue to this in the figure of Norvegov, whom the narrator describes as having ‘become our conscience and our happy youth’ (p. 176). By denying Savl’s death the narrator denies the passing of his own childhood. The repeated motif of summer turning to autumn, and the association of winter with visits to the cemetery also testify to the same fear of (or nostalgia for, depending on the narrator’s age which is always difficult to ascertain) the passing of childhood. Outside it’s dusk, snow the colour of blue ashes [. . .] The melancholy of all man. You are little. But you know, you already know. Mama said — that’ll pass too, childhood will pass, like an orange trolley rattling across the bridge showering cold fiery sparks which barely exist. (p.187)

Indeed, this image brings us back to another image of death as the ultimate ‘melancholy of all man’. While visiting his ‘former’ grandmother (a ‘less hopeless’ word than ‘deceased’) (p. 35) at the cemetery, the narrator wanders off towards the railway tracks where he observes a train disappearing under a bridge. As he describes what he sees, he repeats the phrase ‘it will vanish, melt away’ (pp. 126–27) and ponders the impossibility of ever seeing the same carriages ‘exactly these, not others’ (p. 126) again. In these two instances, the trolleys and the train function like the conventional image of the river which can never be stepped in twice and which flows inexorably to oblivion. Change and death here begin to encroach upon the novel in their traditional, inevitable form. However, the student counteracts this mournful realization in his own idiosyncratic way in an essay he writes for his teacher Norvegov entitled, ‘my morning’ in which he describes the railway tracks around the dacha community as a closed loop.



The trains which go past our home move along a closed — and therefore infinite — curve around our town, which is why it is virtually impossible to leave our town. There are only two trains which work on the loop line: one goes clock-wise, the other counter clockwise. In this relation it is as if they mutually destroy each other and at the same time destroy movement and time. (p. 167)

Thus, once again, the student succeeds in cancelling out time, making it insignificant. This destruction of time is, however, not only motivated by a denial of change and death. It is also a denial of social norms and the impositions on individual freedom which are symbolized for student so-and-so by the ‘slavery to ink and chalk’ (p. 112) and of the school timetable, calendars, clocks, and newspapers (as well as non-temporally by ties, engineering degrees, and the hated school ‘slipper system’). The student’s rejection of all the above is underscored in his early diatribe (in imagined conversation with Leonardo da Vinci) against standard views of time. First he criticizes the ‘poetic nonsense’ (p. 33) that days follow one another in a line, comparing conventional calendars to ‘counterfeit money’ (p. 33). Then he elucidates his own view of time: Dear Leonardo, if you asked me to make up the calendar of my life, I would bring you a sheet of paper with a multitude of dots on it: the whole sheet would be covered with dots, just dots, and every dot would stand for a day. But don’t ask me which day corresponds to this or that dot: I don’t know anything about that. (pp. 33–34, original emphasis)

Here, as throughout the novel, student so-and-so’s individuality is specifically opposed to the regulated, but counterfeit, world of calendars and clocks. The image of the backward-flowing river emerges again in the student’s statement of independence addressed to his headmaster, Perillo (the embodiment of rules and instigator of the slipper system): And then I [. . .] no longer belonged to myself, or to the school, or you personally, Nikolai Gorimirovich, — to no one on earth. From this time forth I belong to the dacha river Lethe, which streams against its own current at its own desire. (p. 192)

The headmaster is further associated with the ‘counterfeit’ measurement of time through the image of his grandfather clock, the pendulum of which the narrator describes ‘rhythmically cutting non-existent time into units’ (pp. 190–91). The student narrator is so dissatisfied with what he sees as the ‘arbitrary’ (p. 33) classification of clock- and calendar-measured time, that he even carries ‘plans for the transformation of time’ (p. 111) in his briefcase. He sees no point in aspiring to be an engineer (the epitome of joining mainstream society to which all the students of the school for fools are encouraged to aspire) until the ‘very biggest very main’ commission has been formed to ‘straighten out the matter of time’ (p. 101). His refusal to accept society’s definition of time is, therefore, an element of his rejection of society as a whole. It also means he does not have to grow up and join that society. Yes, we love it [the school for fools], because we are used to it. [. . .] in leaving it we would lose everything — everything that we had. We would be left alone and


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lonely, life would toss us to its corners through the crowds of its smart ones who are striving to attain power, to attain women, cars, engineer’s diplomas, but we — utter fools that we are — we don’t need anything of the sort. (pp. 178–79)

Student so-and-so thus controls his identity precisely by remaining, in his view, a pupil at the school for fools, despite the occasional incursions of the truth into his debates with himself. I don’t understand, what are we — do you mean we aren’t in the school any more? [. . .] Perhaps not, perhaps [. . .] the school has been without us for a long time, either we graduated with honours or were expelled for stupidity — I don’t remember now. (p. 223)

Even in this collision with the truth, the student’s ‘selective memory’ still softens the blow by forgetting the exact circumstances and leaving some room for doubt. Indeed, by his own admission, student so-and-so’s selective memory is a very useful tool because ‘it allows us to live as we wish’ (p. 117). By choosing to forget events, student so-and-so frees himself from the laws of cause and effect which govern the lives of those with more accurate memories. When events threaten to pin him down to a particular chronology, student so-and-so has one other means of escape — simply to disappear. This ‘partial disappearance’ occurs, appropriately, on the backward-flowing river. The student is sitting in a boat and a cuckoo is trying to count how many years of life he has left. Inspired by this, he begins to count ‘what were supposedly my years’ (p. 35) and poses himself the questions: ‘What is the name of this river drawing me to its delta, who am I, the one being drawn along, how old am I, what is my name, what day is today and what year is it [. . .]?’ (p. 35). Finding himself unable to answer any of them, he realizes he has disappeared ‘as if I were turned off’ (p. 38) and has turned into a water lily — a very neat evasion of the closely related concepts of chronology and identity. This episode is first recounted to Leonardo following the student’s tirade about calendars in which he also questions whether it is at all possible to use such words as ‘yesterday, today, tomorrow’ or ‘happens, is, exists’ (p. 34). Consequently, in acknowledgement of the impossibility of asserting anything precise as regards time, he recounts the episode in three tenses simultaneously: Dear Leonardo, not long ago (just now, in a short time), I was floating (am floating, will float) down a big river in a rowboat. Before this (after this) I was often (will be) there and am well acquainted with the area. (p. 34)

And so, it is evident that the student narrator’s refusal to be specific about time, whether or not it is the ‘natural’ symptom of a schizophrenic mind, is exploited by the character as a means of achieving liberation from social norms, identity, cause and effect, change and death. What remains when all these forces have been neutralized is unfettered imagination, which is perhaps the student narrator’s defining characteristic. As he states: There, in the hospital, Zauze made great fun of us for being such dreamers. Patient so-and-so, he would laugh, honestly speaking, I have never met a person more healthy than you, but your trouble is this: you are an incredible dreamer. (p. 57)



And further, ‘possibly such a girl never existed, and we invented her ourselves, just like everything else in the world’ (p. 227). However this is not a solipsistic universe. A certain scientist [writes] [. . .] you have nothing here — no family, no work, no time, no space, nor you yourself, you made this all up. Agreed — we hear Savl’s voice — as far as I can recall, I’ve never doubted that. And here we said: Savl Petrovich, but nevertheless something is, this is just as obvious as the fact that the river has a name. (pp. 201–02)

Time, space, events, people, and facts like the name of the river do exist, but they are open to reinterpretation and reinvention by the ‘fantasists’ — the two sides of the narrator’s personality. This is where the (in)significance of time extends beyond the universe of the narrator to that of the author who also possesses, by his own modest boast ‘a pretty good imagination’ (p. 212). As we shall see, through the theme of the insignificance of time, Sokolov emphasizes not only his character’s imagination but also his own creative freedom, not least from Soviet literary norms. This has been commented on by Alexander Boguslawski who sees the ‘distortion of chronology’5 in A School for Fools as primarily a rejection of the tenets of Socialist Realism with its prescribed mission to portray a ‘truthful, historically concrete depiction of reality in its revolutionary development’.6 It could be added that the ‘eternal time’, identified by Boguslawski, wherein ‘the concepts of past, present and future do not really exist’7 contravenes not only the standards of Socialist Realism, but the very foundations of Marxism–Leninism — that most teleological of worldviews. Sokolov uses Norvegov as a mouthpiece to take several overt swipes at ‘works which in our country are called literature’ (p. 169). When student so-and-so tells Norvegov of the ‘certain contemporary classics’ his father has given him to read, Norvegov laughs before running off to plunge his head in the reservoir in order to cleanse his ears of such abomination (p. 59). Just as the student escapes the implied instruction to read sequentially the series ‘book after book’ by reading several books at once — a page of one, then a page of the next and so on (p. 58) — so Sokolov structures his novel a-chronically flitting from one episode to another spurred not by sequence but by the association of ideas. It is appropriate here to illustrate exactly how this effect is achieved. Both D. Barton Johnson and Fred Moody choose to summarize a fourteen-page section of the novel’s first chapter which, although cumbersome to recount, is typical of the way in which Sokolov’s structure functions.8 The passage begins with the student’s speculations about some freight containers belonging to his neighbour, Trachtenberg, which he observes in the entrance hall. He speculates as to which train brought them to the town. At this point ‘the author’ of the novel interrupts the boy with the words: ‘Dear student so-and-so, I, the 5 Alexander Boguslawski, ‘Sokolov’s A School for Fools: An Escape from Socialist Realism’ (hereafter ‘An Escape’), Slavic and East European Journal, 27.1 (1983), 91–97 (p. 92). 6 As defined in the bylaws of the Writers’ Union and quoted in Boguslawski, ‘An Escape’, p. 91. 7 Boguslawski, ‘An Escape’, p. 93. 8 Fred Moody, ‘Madness and the Pattern of Freedom in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools’, Russian Literature Triquarterly, 16 (1979), 9–32 (pp. 16–17).


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author of this book, have a pretty clear picture of that train — a long freight. Its cars, for the most part brown, were covered with scrawls of chalk’ (p. 43). The author then begins to speculate about what was written on the cars and by whom, interrupting himself: ‘(Here I should note in parentheses. . .)’ (p. 44) that the station was never short of chalk. This leads to a long list of things that the station was short of and the entire history of the town whose people live and die by chalk which ends ‘(. . . and let us close the parentheses)’ (p. 45) and we are back to describing the graffiti on the train which ‘after a certain number of days’ (p. 47) arrives at the dacha station. A description of the station workers then ensues which diverges into a speculation of what would happen if one were to visit the station supervisor at home: ‘Yes, dear author, that’s right: go see him at home, ring the vibrant bicycle bell at the door’ (p. 48). This then develops into a lengthy description of how the supervisor’s pyjamas were bought. The suggestion that the supervisor reads Japanese poetry transports the action back to the station shed where railway workers are reciting Japanese poetry to one another. This scene is interrupted by the arrival of the narrator (in the guise of Those Who Came) who has come to enquire about the containers. The workers write a postcard notifying Trachtenburg that the containers have arrived and suddenly we are back in the entrance hall as the narrator reads the card, but we have somehow travelled backwards in time for the containers have not yet arrived. This episode is typical of the way Sokolov structures A School for Fools. The perspective spirals out and returns, but cannot be interpreted as simple flights of fancy based around ‘real’ recollections because even the chronology of the recollections is not stable. The border between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ episodes is in constant flux. This not only represents a break from Socialist Realist convention, but has the added advantage that several alternative outcomes can co-exist simultaneously. In his structural analysis of A School for Fools, D. Barton Johnson defines the novel’s structure as paradigmatic. Where traditional novels (and sentences) are ‘syntagmatically oriented’, that is, linear or diachronic, with motivation preceding action and with cause preceding effect, ‘paradigmatically oriented’ novels (like the lists which are a feature of A School for Fools) are based on repetition and recurrence.9 Scenes recur, as do motifs, as the narratorial perspective flits between them — like the butterflies so beloved of the narrator. Meaning is cumulative in a paradigmatic novel as ‘recurrent elements [. . .] produce their aesthetic impact through their cumulative effect rather than through syntagmatically moving the narrative forward toward denouement.’10 The effect is rather like looking through a kaleidoscope as recurring elements constantly rearrange themselves in different patterns. Crucially, this anachronic and ‘cumulative’ effect is also reminiscent of student so-and-so’s calendar of dots where each dot represents a day. Although there is no order to the days, which, as we know ‘come whenever one of them feels like it, and sometimes several come all at once’ (p. 33). 9

D. Barton Johnson, ‘A Structural Analysis of Sasha Sokolov’s School for Fools’, in Fiction and Drama in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, ed. by H. Birnbaum and T. Eekman (Columbus: Slavica, 1980), pp. 207–37. 10 Ibid., p. 219.



a picture gradually emerges from the overall non-linear representation, as from a pointillist painting which only makes sense to the eye from a distance. The exception to this structural rule is chapter two, ‘Now: Stories Written on the Veranda’ which takes a very different, apparently more conventional form. The twelve short stories with titles including ‘The Last Day’, ‘Three Summers in a Row’, ‘As Always On Sunday’, and ‘Now’ are ostensibly written by ‘the author’ and refract the same dacha community setting but, as their titles would suggest, in a chronologically more traditional fashion. However, as Moody points out, although this structure includes unambiguous references to time which are not characteristic of the rest of the novel, it is still symptomatic of the overall anachronic structure. The stories are not connected to the rest of the novel and only the first and last are connected to each other. They are suspended in a timeless vacuum. Deprived of all context, even traditionally narrated time becomes meaningless. In the same way, in the novel’s other chapters the student narrator includes a smattering of time indicators such as ‘the station clock showed two fifteen’ (p. 23) or ‘on a warm Thursday in May’ (p. 179), which in an otherwise timeless desert have no meaning whatsoever, serving only to accentuate the general timelessness and thereby the novel’s fictionality. Ultimately, distorted chronology is only one of many metafictional devices that Sokolov deliberately uses to highlight the fictionality of his novel and the creativity of its author. For A School for Fools is a book about writing — the act of creativity. That is why memory is replaced in the novel by imagination, which, as Johnson points out, has the advantage of not being bounded by time, of being able to project forwards as well as backwards.11 Like his schoolboy/engineer hero, Sokolov has the freedom to depict whatever he wants ‘either simultaneously or separately’ (p. 107). As John Freedman writes: ‘[In] A School for Fools, meaning emerges rather than exists, and every eventuality is possible at any given moment. The literary fact exists and we have had the opportunity, if only briefly, to experience simultaneously several different possibilities.’12 Or, as Boguslawski puts it, in Sokolov’s universe, it is not important whether something happens or not, only whether it could happen, in which case, it is as though it already has happened (is happening, will happen).13 For this reason, time becomes irrelevant and past, present, and future all exist simultaneously in a constant state of potentiality. Time is rendered insignificant in A School for Fools on two levels and for two related purposes. On a psychological level, the character of student so-and-so deliberately misunderstands references to time in order to escape the consequences of its passage. He uses his imagination to achieve this liberation and, as a result, his imagination triumphs over all the categories examined above: change, 11

D. Barton Johnson, ‘Twilight Cosmos’, p. 647. John Freedman, ‘Memory, Imagination and the Liberating Force of Literature in Sasha Sokolov’s A School for Fools’, Canadian–American Slavic Studies, 21 (1987), 265–78 (p. 268), as quoted in Mark Lipovetsky, Russian Postmodernist Fiction: Dialogue with Chaos (Armonk NY and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1999), pp. 83–99 (p. 85). 13 Boguslawski, ‘An Escape’, p. 93. 12


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consequence, identity, society and death. On the authorial plane, Sokolov uses the device of a schizophrenic narrator with an idiosyncratic understanding of time to construct an entirely anachronic novel in which authorial creativity takes centre stage. By the destruction of time, hero and author alike are liberated from any constraint on the creative imagination, which is the real hero of A School for Fools.

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Evolution of the Lithuanian National Identity in the European Context Violetta Krakovska School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London This paper discusses the construction of national identity in Lithuania in relation to European identity, spanning a period of time from interwar Lithuania, through the Soviet occupation and regained independence until the present-day. The analysis of this topic has been motivated by the present-day discourse relating to Lithuania’s accession into the European Union. Aside from the technical and economic questions that arise from joining the EU, issues such as sovereignty, legitimacy and identity surface. These issues find their reflection in the public discourse among Lithuania’s elite, intellectuals, and other prominent public figures — all of whom have opinions cited in this article. The concepts of national and European identity in Lithuania in 2004 are not the same as they were eighty, fifty, or even fourteen years ago; they change with the fluctuating circumstances. My analysis concentrates on four main issues pertaining to identity construction: the contemporary Lithuanian view on the ideas of nation and nationalism, the role of culture and language, treatment of the past, and attitudes towards Europe (generally speaking, the West). Thus it will be argued that in the newly constructed interwar Lithuanian state, national identity was of ethnolinguistic and conservative (even radical) nature, glorifying Lithuanian struggles for independence and promoting isolationist ideas towards the capitalist and materialistic West. The annexation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union had a degenerating effect on the Lithuanian national consciousness: the eras of independence and cultural flourishing seemed but a vague dream. Due to the Soviet terror, Lithuanian national activity moved to the West where the Lithuanian émigrés developed a liberalizing concept of Lithuanian identity and a more positive view of the West. The revival of national activities after the Thaw led to the re-establishment of an independent Lithuanian state in 1990. The traumatized Lithuanian nation attempted to erase the last fifty years of its humbling existence under Soviet rule, and concentrate its attention again on the Golden Age of the interwar period. Fear of the ‘Other’ was again strengthened and concerned not only with Russia and Poland but also the West (this last being associated with cultural invasion). In this context, Petr Drulák was right when he supported Campbell’s conception of identity as a product of the strategy of ‘othering’, constructed in the ‘discourses of danger’.1 Nevertheless, there were signs 1

Petr Drulák, ‘Introduction’, in National and European Identities in EU Enlargement: Views from Central and Eastern Europe, ed. by Petr Drulák (Prague: Institute of International Relations, 2001), p. 12.

© School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


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already of Lithuania coming back to Europe geographically, then culturally, economically, and politically. Today the conservative nationalist ideas are still heard in Lithuania, but people are increasingly adopting a liberal approach to nationalism and overcoming past fears by opening up to the world, getting to know other cultures and thereby finding their own culture again. Thus, before discussing the national discourse in present-day Lithuania, it is necessary to follow the chronological development of this discourse starting with the interwar period, followed by the Soviet occupation until the re-establishment of independence. Celebrating Lithuanian statehood (1918–40) After a long period of fighting for independence, Lithuanians finally established their own state and undertook steps to develop their nation. The Lithuanian nation was resurrected by ‘rural intellectuals’.2 The main principle of the interwar Lithuania was ‘one nation, one language, one culture, one state’.3 The period was characterized by conservative, radical, and isolationist nationalist ideas, which were raised by the need to protect a recently recovered Lithuanian culture. The state was seen as the main means of protecting the ethnic nation. The Nationalist Party (Tautininkai) had power over the state and proclaimed to be ‘the spokesmen of the nation’s will’.4 Thus, it censored all publicly expressed ideas. Antanas Maceina, an influential, interwar Lithuanian philosopher, who expressed highly conservative and Catholic national ideas, stated: The first feature of nation-state is its total character [. . .] the new state bases its existence not on a citizen, but on a member of a nation. While the state is an objectified form of a nation, it cannot treat equally members of nations and citizens of different nations or so-called national minorities.5

Maceina’s ideas about Lithuanian nationalism went so far as to suggest a vision of a totalitarian state. For Maceina — as for many other interwar intellectuals — nationality equated ethnicity. Thus, a Pole by ethnicity could not be a true Lithuanian. However, there were also some more liberal ideas heard from intellectuals who took part in the movement Aušra (Dawn) at the end of the nineteenth century, such as Vincas Kavolis, Jonas Basanavichius and Jonas Sh lium pas. According to them, a Lithuanian was ‘one who once breathed the air of Lithuania’.6 But their ideas were overwhelmed by mainstream conservatism. Having created their own state within their own ethnic boundaries, a new era began for Lithuanians and their language, which became central to their theories 2 Inga Pavlovaited, ‘Paradise Regained: The Conceptualization of Europe in the Lithuanian Debate’, in Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences, ed. by Marko Lehti and David J. Smith (London: Frank Cass, 2003), p. 206. 3 Leonidas Donskis, Identity and Freedom (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 13. 4 Egled Rindzevichium ted, ‘“Nation” and “Europe”: Re-approaching the Debates about Lithuanian National Identity’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 34.1 (2003), 78. 5 Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 78. 6 Donskis, p. 23.



of state and nation. For the first time Lithuanian became a state language. One of the main concerns of the Lithuanian government was to bring an end to the de-nationalization of Lithuania. The state language was now introduced at all official and public levels of life and recovered its legal and moral rights. The overestimation and adoration of language seen in interwar Lithuania was the typical reaction of a small nation’s mentality, because it seemed a necessity to guarantee its cultural survival.7 Until 1920 the standard form of written Lithuanian was accepted across the whole territory of the Lithuanian state. This was a very important achievement, since, as Richard Rudolph and David Good explain, ‘language as an expression of national character can only be a written language: only a written standard identifies the individual speaker with a larger national community.’8 Lithuanian language thus became a political tool for reviving the Lithuanian nation. It acquired not only philological and cultural dimensions, but a socio-political one as well. The latter language dimension takes place, according to George Schöpflin, when a nation feels that it has to protect its language as a political asset from external influences.9 In addition, language helped to emphasize the Lithuanians’ differences from Poles and Russians. This defensive ethnolinguistic nationalism glorified the Lithuanian struggle for independence and Lithuanian solidarity, which led to the creation of the Lithuanian state. Moreover, Lithuanians still could not get rid of their fear of invasion, inherited from the past. Lithuania had been defended from Russians and Germans, however Poland remained a threat to Lithuanian independence. After breaking the Suvalkai treaty in 1920, Poland annexed a large part of Lithuanian territory containing the capital Vilnius. As a result, Vilnius and its surrounding areas became a Polish province. This was one of the greatest blows dealt to the Lithuanian nation and language throughout their entire history. Such aggressive acts inevitably violated national feeling. Lithuanians felt different not only from their Eastern neighbours but also from the West. The West — as associated with democracy and capitalism — was seen as contradicting Lithuanian spirituality and Christianity.10 Therefore, one could feel resistance to Western culture as embodying modernity. At the same time, however, it was possible to feel the Lithuanians’ wish to modernize their country. This resulted in a paradox, since political and economic modernization coming from Europe was regarded as good, but Western modernity in the moral (or rather immoral) sense was not acceptable. Among those fighting against the spread of Western ideas was Vytautas Alantas, a journalist and the editor of the main official daily Lietuvos Aidas, ideologue of the Nationalist Party. Lithuanians, according to Alantas, 7 Nationalism and Empire: The Habsburg Monarchy and the Soviet Union, ed. by Richard L. Rudolph and David F. Good (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1992), p. 69. 8 Rudolph and Good, p. 67. 9 George Schöpflin, Dilemmas of Identity; Culture, State, Globalisation (London: Hurst & Co, in press). 10 Donskis, p. 26.


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[were] at the crossroads of the interests of East and West. This vacuum should be filled as fast as possible, in order to prevent one or another of our neighbours with expansionist appetites, and that the others would not be seduced to ‘culturize’ us.11

Alantas voiced a fear of cultural invasion from the West common among many interwar intellectuals. His remedy against this threat was national egoism and national solidarity, which were the basis for the survival of the nation. Hence, Alantas promoted Lithuanian exclusionism: ‘If we want to create an unbreakable Lithuanian nation, we will have to [. . .] turn from the wide humanist and internationalist roads, and steer onto a purely Lithuanian road.’12 Therefore, he opposed international co-operation as damaging culture, and he called for a closed model of nationalism. These dominant isolationist ideas were highly criticized by liberal nationalists such as Stasys Šalkauskis. He was a Lithuanian philosopher who supported the idea of the cultural synthesis of nations, rather than isolation: The highest vocation of the nation is to realize the synthesis of the two worlds in its own culture [. . .]. A conscious implementation of this ideal would provide the Lithuanian nation with a real feeling of its value; show the world its particular face [. . .].13

Šalkauskis was convinced that Lithuania could not create her own original culture from its geopolitical location, rather, it should use the neighbouring cultures — in the right doses — to create a Lithuanian national culture (and avoid being swallowed by the East). In this way, Šalkauskis supported universal principles of human morality and cultural cultivation of each individual in his/her specific national context.14 The liberal ideas of Šalkauskis as well as the Aušra activists were supported only by the minority of the interwar Lithuanians. Liberal intellectuals opposing the anti-Western ideas of conservative Lithuanians were called ‘Westernizers’.15 In his book Identity and Freedom, Leonidas Donskis, a prominent cultural critic and philosopher, explains this radical nationalism in interwar Lithuania as a lack of influence from Anglo-Saxon and French social sciences in Lithuanian thought. All these conservative activists were rather influenced by German and Russian philosophical traditions, but did not analyse works of such classical liberalist thinkers as J. Locke, J. S. Mill or classical sociologists like E. Durkheim or Max Weber.16 Hence, their theoretical background was very limited and did not allow for more liberal interpretation.


Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 79. Ibid. 13 Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 80. 14 Romualdas Neimantas, ‘Šiuolaikineds Lietuvos kultum ros pledtros pagrindined kryptis: keistis, kad išliktum savimi’ [The Main Direction of the Cultural Development in Modern Lithuania: to Change in Order to Remain Ourselves], <> [accessed 28 January 2004]. 15 Rindzevichium ted, p. 78. 16 Donskis, p. 21. 12



Years of Soviet winter (1940–90) In 1940s the era of a sovereign Lithuanian state ended, and Lithuania was incorporated into the Soviet Union, an event that has remained a national trauma. In his article on Estonia and Latvia, which can also be applied to Lithuania, Marko Lehti states that by this act ‘the national dignity was violated in a fundamental manner’.17 The idea of the Soviet Union was that of a ‘giant melting-pot in which the national groups were “freely” abandoning their identities to blend into a homogeneous Soviet people with the coming of communism’.18 In order to speed up this process of homogenization, people were deprived of their land and sent to labour camps in Siberia. Compulsory collectivization was also introduced. All ethno-national identities were supposed to be wiped out in the name of a new, romanticized Soviet identity. To describe the situation of oppressed Baltic people, Tomas Venclova uses the concept of ‘mankurt’ (meaning here a person who is forcibly deprived of memory): In unofficial Lithuanian circles the term “mankurtization” spread, meaning russification, departure from one’s native language and religion, forgetting of national history, the creation of mixed families, and similar processes [. . .].19

Indeed, people were forced to forget their national belonging and national past. Local histories were rewritten, and national consciousness was viewed as ‘reactionary’ and ‘bourgeois’ and was punished.20 New history was supposed to do away with any national symbols and myths, such as national heroes, replacing them with the general communist term ‘people’.21 Thus the construction of the perfect society under Soviet rule in reality meant russification, terror, arrests, and massive deportations to Siberia. National culture was destroyed, and books were burned. This destruction of the Lithuanian language and nation continued for fifty years. The result was a very peculiar type of identity born among oppressed people in the Soviet Union. It was an identity that officially accepted new collective values but simultaneously looked westward and longed for freedom while mythicizing nationhood.22 This state inevitably produced feelings of insecurity and fear. Those numerous intellectuals who emigrated to Germany or the United States during the Second World War were stimulated by their nostalgic feelings towards Lithuania. They produced idealized historical studies where the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was presented as its Golden Age. These intellectuals imagined themselves as ‘the last bastion of Lithuanian identity’.23 17 Marko Lehti, ‘Possessing a Baltic Europe: Retold National Narratives in the European North’, in Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences, ed. by Marko Lehti and David J. Smith (London: Frank Cass, 2003), p. 8. 18 Romuald J. Misiunas and Rein Taagepera, The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940–1990 (London: Hurst and Co., 1983), p. 138. 19 Quoted in John Hiden and Patrick Salmon, The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 20th century (New York: Longman, 1994), p. 142. 20 George Schöpflin, Nation, Identity, Power: The New Politics of Europe (London: Hurst and Co., 2000), p. 151. 21 Schöpflin, Nation, Identity, Power, p. 152. 22 Schöpflin, Nation, Identity, Power, p. 154. 23 Rindzevichium ted, p. 81.


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However, not all émigré communities thought in these terms. Criticism of this idealized nationalist ideology came from such activists as semiotician Algirdas Julius Greimas, sociologist Vytautas Kavolis, and political philosopher Aleksandras Štromas, all regarded as the founders of the liberal approach to Lithuanian nationalism. Greimas opposed the romantic vision of history, that of ‘knights banging their swords on the gates of Moscow’.24 He was also against Lithuanian attachment to a particular political system, as, according to him, ‘even a communist Lithuanian is a real Lithuanian, if he is concerned with the well-being of the society.’25 In this way, he contributed to separating culture from politics, and instead introduced a multi-dimensional approach to history which included not only the golden past and oppression, but also other significant historical elements. Fortunately, even the most extreme measures, such as mass deportation, were unable to erase the national consciousness of Lithuanian people under the Soviet rule, since, as Schöpflin rightly notes, ‘once mobilization into national consciousness had taken place, this could not be reversed.’26 After the Thaw, which allowed certain self-expression, Lithuanian dissent became stronger. Numerous samizdat publications called for national mobilization. Petitions were sent to the authorities of the Soviet government. In December 1971, for example, a mass petition was organized asking the following of the Soviet government: [. . .] Grant us freedom of conscience that is guaranteed by the constitution but which has so far not been secured in practice. We do not want beautiful words in the press or over the radio; we ask for serious governmental efforts to make us, Catholics, feel that we have equal rights as Soviet citizens.27

Several prominent figures in Lithuania even went so far as to express their individual protests against Soviet policy. One of them was Tomas Venclova, son of a prominent communist writer. In 1975 Venclova declared in a letter to the authorities of the Lithuanian Communist Party: The Communist ideology is alien to me, and in my opinion, is largely false. Its absolute reign has brought much misfortune to our land [. . .]. I take a serious view of communist ideology and therefore refuse to repeat its formulas in a mechanical or hypocritical manner.28

This declaration had some unforeseen consequences: after Venclova was allowed to leave for the USA he was deprived of Soviet citizenship. The active Lithuanian nationalists managed to find a gap in the constitution of the Soviet Union, which could be taken advantage of in their liberationist movements. Officially all Soviet republics were considered sovereign members of the Union. At the end of the 1980s — in the atmosphere of perestroika and under the influence of strong popular movements — the conditions of the Baltic Soviet Socialist Republics were amended by the respective Supreme Soviets to give their titular languages the 24 25 26 27 28

Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 81. Ibid. Schöpflin, Nation, Identity, Power, p. 149. Misiunas and Taagepera, p. 255. Quoted in Misiunas and Taagepera, p. 258.



official status of ‘state language’.29 In proclaiming advantages of Soviet rule in Lithuania, spokespersons pointed to the constitution as a proof of these rights under the Soviet system. One of the most heated points of debate was the question of Lithuanian ‘statehood’ and ‘sovereignty’, since the Soviet constitution officially called the Lithuanian SSR a ‘sovereign’ state.30 Using this loophole, official recognition was given to the Lithuanian language, which enabled schools and universities to teach in Lithuanian and enabled communist organizations, such as The Union of Writers of Lithuania, to defend Lithuanian language and identity (although Russian was still used in most institutions and high-level party meetings).31 The limitations of the Soviet regime were becoming increasingly more apparent in contrast with the democratic and free world of the West. Greimas was among the first to introduce a positive European dimension to Lithuanian history. He propagated a vision of Lithuania as equal to, not worse than, other European countries.32 He even pointed out that in the sixteenth century the Grand Duchy of Lithuania joined the economic system of Western Europe and became the main supplier of grain.33 Europe was advocated not only as a model of free cultural development but also as an economic and political model. It may even be plausible that the revolutions of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe were inspired by the West European example of liberal-democratic government, the welfare society, social market economies, and multilateral co-operation.34 The West had all that people in the Soviet Union lacked and longed for. Independent again (1990–2000) In 1990 the Soviet empire finally collapsed. The consequences of communism were blatantly evident. During the first years of the re-established independent Lithuanian state, nationalism was based on the interwar experience; cultural revival of the Lithuanian nation was the main priority. The year 1990 was proclaimed as the ‘Year of Lithuanian Language’.35 As early as 1989 the first legislative acts on Lithuanian language were adopted. These acts established a transition period for switching from Russian to the state language in public life.36 The symbolic side of nationalism was evident as well. These symbols were mainly based on the memory of pre-modernity and the recent past. This was especially reflected in the renaming of street signs. Lithuanians were reclaiming the original historic Lithuanian names, or were renaming Soviet-named streets after ancient 29

Priit Järve, ‘Two Waves of Language Laws in the Baltic States: Changes of Rationale’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 32.1 (2002), 79. 30 Alfred E. Senn, Lithuanian Awakening (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p. 12. 31 Maria Lenn, Nationalism, Democratization and Inter-ethnic Relations in the new Lithuanian State 1988–92 (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of London, 2000), p. 34. 32 Rindzevichium ted, p. 82. 33 Ibid. 34 Adrian Hyde-Price, ‘Patterns of International Politics’, Developments in Central and East European Politics 2, ed. by Stephen White, Judy Batt, and Paul G. Lewis (London: Macmillan Press, 1998), p. 264. 35 Inga Vinogradnaited, ‘The Construction of National and European Identity in Lithuania’, National and European Identities in EU Enlargement. Views from Central and Eastern Europe, ed. by Petr Drulák (Prague: Institute of International Relations, 2001), p. 87. 36 Järve, p. 81.


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Lithuanian heroes. Lenin Prospect, for example, was renamed Gediminas Prospect in 1989 to remind Lithuanians of the fourteenth century Grand Duke, widely regarded as the founder of Vilnius.37 The general attitude was to forget the Soviet past and concentrate on the interwar statehood. This is understandable, bearing in mind that ‘community looks for an historical parallel, a precedent, which will be a “mythic narrative” to satisfy the needs of group coherence’.38 The Soviet historical experience was even interpreted in terms of the Messiah story: the Lithuanian nation died, like Christ, and was resurrected after the collapse of the Soviet empire. This interpretation resulted in viewing the Lithuanian nation as being blessed through suffering and characterized by exceptional dignity. This is evidenced by eyewitness accounts, such as by Jadvyga Bieliauskiened, who was among those guarding the TV station from the Soviet tanks which attacked Vilnius on 13 January 1991: I kneeled by the murdered young man as if he were my son and started to cry [. . .]. I kissed his hands and suddenly realized that all the killed and wounded have united all the Lithuanian people of good will with sacred, unseverable blood ties. The innocent blood of the heroes, scattered as the millions of stars, has enlightened our souls wrapped by the gloomy dusk with a new DAWN OF RESURRECTION [. . .].39

Through suffering the Lithuanian nation is elevated to a more exalted stature than any other European nation. Schöpflin explains this attitude by ascribing a special value to the past which gives moral worth. By proving the exceptional value of the nation, this discourse of victimization might be seen as ‘an instrument of memory used to condense power within an identity group’.40 This rewriting of history and purification of culture was highly criticized by liberal nationalists as an obstacle to democracy. This view is expressed in the words of the poet Justinas Marcinkevichius: ‘life would seem impossible without a star-lit cloth of culture, which hides the wry legs of history.’41 Yet again, however, the majority did not share his opinion. Along with nurturing and purifying the Lithuanian national culture, there was a process of demonization of the West. Firstly, there were political reasons for this, as post-communist nations were disappointed by the passivity of the West during the period of Soviet oppression. But there were also cultural reasons, as writer Jonas Mikelinskas explains: And all this ‘literature,’ the splashing of excrement, the plastering of slop, fucking, sex, served as a dessert after a nutritious dinner or offered by force as obscene toilet graffiti, all this ‘art’ disfigured and laid on the floor, walls and windows; the rock music which resembles heavy bombardment and which moves legs, lacerates


Lenn, p. 163. Schöpflin, Dilemmas of Identity, in press. 39 Quoted in Rasa Balockaited, ‘De Mystifying Social Reality: European Integration Processes in Lithuania 2003’, <>, [accessed 28 January 2004]. 40 Schöpflin, Dilemmas of Identity, in press. 41 Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 83. 38



throats and parasitically evacuates from a person all human thoughts about obligation, responsibility, decency and sacrifice — all this comes from the West, from Dulles, from Hollywood, from the citadel of world democracy.42

Western culture was regarded as decaying and as such was a threat for an ‘immature’ Lithuanian culture. In reality, underlying all these anti-West slogans there was perhaps a fear of too much freedom: Lithuania, as other post-communist countries, sought freedom for a nation, not for an individual. Nevertheless, there were some attempts to bring Lithuania closer to Europe and smooth over the feelings of animosity. This was initially marked by a return to Europe geographically. In February 1990, the centre of Europe was announced by French geographers to be found in Lithuania. This revelation resulted in various lively discussions in the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas; Already in the textbooks of the [. . .] Republic of Lithuania it was written that in Lithuania [. . .] there was a centre of Europe, its heart. This title, it seems is absolutely grounded on the contours of the Republic, which look like a beating human heart.43

Cultural return to Europe in 1990 was primarily related to the common Christian heritage, as expressed in an article in Lietuvos Rytas stating that ‘we [Lithuanians] are coming back to the Christian culture of Europe [. . .]’.44 However, the most difficult thing was to return to Europe in a political and economic sense. Lithuanians as a nation started talking about European citizenship only in 1993 when the Treaty of Maastricht came into being. In this process of ‘coming back to Europe’, Lithuanians had to abandon their idealized, exceptional vision of the Lithuanian past and nation and accept that they were not, in fact, better than other European nations. This process of moving from a special to an average vision of the nation was assisted by the appearance of G. Patackas’ book Songs of Love and Wine in 1993, which deconstructed the earlier myths of a blessed nation, forwarding instead images of the state as cursed. Oral, cultural, and political authorities in Lithuania were questioned by Patackas. Irony and cynicism prevailed as Lithuanians were presented as losers. Even in the media one started hearing jokes such as, ‘Lithuania is the most independent state in the world, because [. . .] nothing really depends on it.’45 The main reason given for the socio-political instability in Lithuania was that Lithuania as a nation was — for a long time — deprived of her ‘traditional’ democratic values, such as tolerance. Individualism and tolerance of cultural and religious diversity were thus slowly introduced into public thought as characteristics of a new Lithuanian nation, which resisted the Soviet regime and now desired to return to its original European values.46 The idea of the democratic Lithuanian nation as part of Europe — in essence going back to democratic Western Europe — meant going back to national roots. For example, ‘The Law on the Basics of National 42 43 44 45 46

Quoted in Balockaited, p. 5. Excerpt from Lietuvos Rytas, 24 March 1990, in Vinogradnaited, p. 99. Excerpt from Lietuvos Rytas, 31 October 1990, in Vinogradnaited, p. 100. Balockaited, p. 9. Rindzevichium ted, p. 83.


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Security’ includes the statement that ‘the Lithuanian state, established many centuries ago and resting on the Christian cultural foundation unifying Europe, is an integral part of the community of European nations’.47 The EU was seen as a vehicle for regaining their lost identity and escaping Slavic influence which was foreign to Lithuanians.48 The paradoxical influence of the Soviet period onto Eastern Europe, as J. F. Brown describes it, was that it made ‘citizens of the region feel more Western than they ever did’.49 Western liberal values started to be promoted in Lithuania in order to distinguish Lithuanians from Soviet Russians. In order to become more Western, Lithuanians needed to distance themselves from the old ‘Other’. This is even expressed in the Constitution of Lithuania through a clause that explicitly forbids the state to enter into any alliances with countries in the post-Soviet space. Lithuanian politicians intentionally refer to Lithuania as being situated on a volcano — meaning her threatening proximity to Russia — which may be escaped only by integrating into ‘Europe’.50 Accepting this reality meant that Lithuanians had to make a decision with regard to their national future. Lying at the crossroads in the junction between Eastern and Western culture, as Juozas Bernatonis, a Member of Parliament, stated in 1996, it was necessary to clearly define a direction for integration, as Lithuania was still far from being European.51 The integration process, however, was quite problematic, not least because sovereignty and freedom were constitutionally stated as the priority of the Lithuanian state: ‘an independent democratic Lithuanian state must ensure a secure existence of the Nation as well as its distinct and free development.’52 Nevertheless, the wish to have economic and political benefits and secure stability in the region was of equal importance. Hence, in February 1997 President Brazauskas addressed the Lithuanian Parliament and expressed Lithuania’s firm desire to ‘integrate into Western defence and security systems while, at the same time, supporting all initiatives which enhance mutual trust, security and stability in Europe’.53 In addition, there was a feeling that co-operation with Poland would help Lithuania enter Western political and economic structures. Hence, the first official trip by Valdas Adamkus, the new Lithuanian president, was to Poland in April 1998. Similarly, a sub-regional Baltic co-operation was viewed as a step leading to broader, strategic, integrative impulses. The Baltic Assembly, which first met in Tallinn in 1989, attempted to become the institution that facilitated Baltic integration. Vytautas Landsbergis, a speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, outlined the goals of the Baltic Assembly as including ‘the creation of a common Baltic market 47

Excerpt from ‘The Law on the Basics of National Security’, in Pavlovaited, p. 202. S. J. Main, ‘Instability in the Baltic Region’, Central and Eastern Europe: Problems and Prospects, 37, ed. by Charles Dick and Anne Aldis (Upavon: The Strategic and Combat Studies Institute, 1998). 49 Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 83. 50 Pavlovaited, pp. 201–02. 51 Quoted in Vinogradnaited, p. 102. 52 Pavlovaited, p. 207. 53 Quoted in Main, p. 182. 48



and of a common Baltic system of mutual economic assistance and credits, the need to abstain from economic confrontation at state level and the need to establish a common Baltic information system’.54 Baltic co-operation was not regarded as an end in itself but as the means of achieving other ends, such as EU membership. Another symbolic act of coming back to Europe was undertaken in January 1998, when the government passed a decision to change the time zone in Lithuania, adopting the system used by most EU countries. This resulted in many comments in the Lithuanian media, such as this statement in the Lithuanian daily Respublika: Lithuania lived in the first time zone till 1940, and it seems there were no complaints [. . .]. If we come back to the same zone that we had for centuries, I think this is a positive thing. Our organisms had adapted to this time zone during centuries.55

Liberal nationalists such as Kavolis and Venclova also did their best to convince their nation of the advantages of coming to Europe. Venclova wrote: I do not want [a] xenophobic, peripheral world full of fear and hysteria [. . .]. This traditional world of Eastern Europe will disappear, as the Berlin Wall — a former borderline between Eastern and Western Europe — disappeared. All we have to do is to get rid of narrow-mindedness, of national and state level egoism, and to learn global ways of thinking, which is much more useful for nations as well as for the state.56

Venclova advocated ‘dialogue-based personalist ethics’.57 He opposed the widely spread view in Lithuania that Russians are not Europeans. He called this misinterpretation of Russia as the Soviet Union.58 Nevertheless, it is very difficult for Lithuanians to forget the past and trust Russia as well as Poland again, since, as Schöpflin explains, ‘once a particular ethnic group had been brought into national awareness, it would defend its existence to the utmost and, given the contorted history and power relationship of the era, would also see that existence as constantly under threat.’59 Kavolis also had a vision of a modern, liberal and Western-oriented Lithuania, ‘searching for new political and cultural discourse’, and ‘capable of contextualizing and articulating Lithuanian liberalism’.60 These activists propagated the idea of the coexistence of a Lithuanian and European identity. A living example of this was Aleksandras Štromas who emphasized his own multiple identities as not only a Jew and a Lithuanian but also someone comfortable with Russian literature and culture, valuing American politics and admiring the United Kingdom. According to Štromas, the only true nationalism stems from combining universal ideals and values (first of all tolerance) with fidelity to your own culture and country. 54 Quoted in Graeme P. Herd, ‘The Baltic States and EU Enlargement’, in Back to Europe: Central and Eastern Europe and the European Union, ed. by Karen Henderson (London: UCL Press, 1999), p. 263. 55 Excerpt from Respublika, 26 January 1998, in Vinogradnaited, p. 104. 56 Quoted in Balockaited, p. 7. 57 Donskis, p. 129. 58 Donskis, p. 149. 59 Schöpflin, Nation, Identity, Power, p. 147. 60 Donskis, p. 59.


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Into the twenty-first century At the beginning of the new millennium, a new attitude to the Soviet past has been expressed — that this past has been a very important part of Lithuanian national history, and it should not be forgotten. An understanding of history should be no longer based on myths or heroes. The act of converting history into memory has been opposed, and thus boundaries around remembering/forgetting the past have been crossed. This is apparent in the new methods by which history is recorded. For example, Juozas Erlickas, in his book History of Lithuania, portrays Basanavich ius — an icon of Lithuanian cultural rebirth in the nineteenth century — in a controversial light: During his young years, Doctor Basanavich ius was [a] spoiled and fun loving guy. Every time he saw a young woman he invited her to some quite hidden place in [a] forest, took out a brochure and started reading Lithuanian to the young female. Very soon lots of patriots and nationalists were born in this region. This was basically a pre-condition for [an] Independent Lithuanian State to arise.61

Myths of post-communism were finally dispelled, and Lithuania started to be seen as an average nation like any other in Europe. On 11 May 2003 a referendum was held in Lithuania on Lithuania’s membership to the EU. Lithuanians accepted the norms of the Western world and agreed to be brought back into Europe. However, at this time — before Lithuania joined the European Community — there was concern about the status of Lithuanian culture in Europe. Two contradicting views were in circulation at the time: one conservative and one liberal. The political philosopher Romualdas Grigas — one of the opponents of cosmopolitan tendencies — saw Europeanization as a result of low national self-esteem. He called for solidarity and communitarianism, which would promote cultural rituals and traditions.62 He believed that the modern striving for American individualism and consumption would lead to existential emptiness. Grigas sees the current Lithuanian nation as being situated between three forces: a persistent Soviet mentality, the hurried desire to catch up with Europe and a post-modern, Western wave of materialism, egoism and other dark forces.63 A similar anti-European attitude was expressed by Gintaras Beresniavich ius, a historian of religion, who thought that European integration was a threat to national identity. Beresniavichius stated: What is waiting for us? Russia will fall apart or will calm down, and for the first time in our history no external force will threaten us. But this well-being will be followed by a loss of national identity. Integration into Europe, which is going to happen after 20 years or half of a generation, will swallow us as it has swallowed Germany. And our history will become historiography.64


Quoted in Balockaited, p. 10. Liudvikas Giedraitis, interview with Romualdas Grigas, <> [accessed 27 January 2004]. 63 Ibid. 64 Quoted in Rindzevichium ted, p. 84. 62



Beresniavich ius believed that Lithuanian national identity prior to the EU accession was threatened not so much by a possible intervention from Russia as by the integration itself. Euro-sceptic attitudes had also been strengthened by general ambiguity regarding the discourse on Lithuania’s place in the EU. For example, statements such as that from president Adamkus in 2002 might have been worrying to those sceptical about the level of integration. Adamkus stated that as ‘part of the process of European integration, the division between domestic and foreign policy is disappearing’.65 Such statements have shown that politicians were concerned with accession issues and had not yet undertaken to clarify and define the role that their country would play as a member of the EU.66 The very idea of Eastern Europe rests on what Larry Wolff calls ‘a paradox of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion, Europe, but not Europe’, defined by the phrases ‘between Europe and Asia, between civilisation and barbarism’.67 This ambiguity is also evident in formulas used, such as a ‘Europe of nation states’ or a ‘Europe without borders’. In this atmosphere of ambiguity, Schöpflin tried to understand the sense of inevitability and fatalism among the intellectuals of Central and Eastern Europe who did not feel free joining the EU anymore, given that there was only one ‘club’ to join.68 These countries were bound to accept the acquis communautaire imposed on them, therefore. The norms that gave structure to relationships between EU countries became equivalent to European norms, and now provide the basis for Europeanness and European identity. However, authors such as Schöpflin raise the concern that rules imposed from above will not be implemented in this spirit and will be ignored and opposed whenever possible.69 The Lithuanian journalist Artum ras Rozhednas agrees that EU institutions attempt to create a European citizen from the top down through enforced regulations, but argues that the inner consciousness of being European is far from present in the consciousness of the Lithuanian people.70 He gives an example of this by providing the results of a survey taken in Lithuania where people were asked whether they felt themselves to be only Lithuanian, only European or both Lithuanian and European. The results show that most respondents felt they were both Lithuanian and European citizens (44%), and almost the same number of Lithuanians felt they were only citizens of their own country (41%). Only a very small percentage of respondents (2%) admitted to feeling solely European. Some people stated that different living standards in the West and in the East have prevented them from feeling European. Hence, being European now seems to be related not only to geographical and cultural categories but also to living standards.71 In light of this, an 65

Quoted in Pavlovaited, p. 209. Martin Brusis, ‘Conclusions: European and National Identities in the Accession Countries — the Role of the European Union’, National and European Identities in EU Enlargement: Views from Central and Eastern Europe, ed. by Petr Drulák (Prague: Institute of International Relations, 2001), p. 198. 67 Quoted in Hyde-Price, p. 275. 68 Schöpflin, Dilemmas of Identity, in press. 69 Ibid. 70 Artum ras Rozh ednas, ‘Šalis, kurianti savo piliechius’ [A Country Creating its Citizens], Veidas, 3 (2004), 35. 71 Ibid. 66


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observation in a Financial Times article is particularly interesting: that most planes from Riga fly to the West, while the majority of trains go the East. This observation is equally applicable to Lithuania; indeed Liudvikas Gadeikis, another Lithuanian journalist, interpreted this story as evidence of the Lithuanian state of mind on the eve of EU accession: the most modern part of society and the economy were already sufficiently connected to Europe, but a general sense of the world was still firmly grounded in the old ‘homeland’.72 Lithuanians had to admit, therefore, that their most urgent need was to overcome economic rupture, and then to attend to spiritual and national needs. It is for precisely these reasons that EU candidate countries have often been regarded as ‘manipulating European identity’, to use Frank Schimmelfennig’s words, since they have little to offer from an economic and security point of view but expect to be given a lot.73 The integration processes were not only about profiting from Europe, however, but also about contributing something. Janis Stradinis, the president of the Academy of Science in Latvia, wrote: ‘we [Baltic Nations] should not just merge with Europe, but we [Baltic Nations] should also introduce fresh spirit into the old Europe.’74 The cultures of small nations are not as prominent as the cultures of big nations, of course, but they are still beautiful and valuable. Lithuania has to recognize and appreciate its cultural heritage and achievements because they help it to be unique, and also help it to survive in the history and culture of the world. Optimistic and open attitudes in Lithuania seemed to prevail among those nationalists who lived in exile or spent some time in the West, like Tomas Venclova, Leonidas Donskis, and Artum ras Tereškinas. Donskis criticized the Lithuanian ‘fear of modernity’ and ‘fear of cosmopolitanism’.75 He called for nationalism based on critical questioning of one’s society and country ‘in terms of universal intellectual and moral criteria’.76 Rather than fearing modernism, Lithuania, like other Baltic states, needed to adopt an active policy within the EU and think of how it could influence Europe and change its own attitude towards Europe from ‘the dreamland of democracy and free markets into a concrete community to which the Balts could also contribute and the future which they could influence’.77 Europe has forgotten that Vilnius was a great European cultural and academic centre before the fall of the Iron Curtain. The Lithuanians have finally re-joined the European cultural community after fifty years of isolation. Only through getting to know other cultures will nations, including Lithuania, be able to survive and stop fearing globalization.78 Thus, accession to the EU was an important, formative moment. A new order was being established after the end of the Cold War. This period has been described by Marko Lehti as ‘a time when the very definition of the meaningful [was] up for 72

Liudvikas Gadeikis, ‘Dviejup greichiup Europa — neišvengiama’ [Two-speed Europe — Unavoidable], Veidas, 4 (2004), 36. 73 Quoted in Drulák, p. 14. 74 Gediminas Zemlickas, interview with Janis Stradinis, Mokslo Lietuva, 17 (285) (2003), <http://> [accessed 27 January 2004]. 75 Donskis, p. 22. 76 Donskis, p. 24. 77 Marko Lehti, ‘“Tiny Tigers will Always Be Tigers”’: Narrating Europe into the Estonian and Latvian National Identities.’ (Unpublished conference material, University of Glasgow, 23 January 2004). 78 Neimantas, p. 3.



grabs’, when old metaphors were destroyed, new identities established and new social practices launched.79 It was not surprising, therefore, that in such a transitional period some people looked forward to creating a new order while others clung to old beliefs; such conflicts of ideas are inevitable. The English philosopher Edmund Burke once wrote that ‘no European can be a deportee in any part of Europe’.80 Since 1 May 2004 Lithuanians have had no need to feel like deportees in any part of the EU as they can now live and work wherever they want. They need to stop excusing their scepticism as the fear of being merged into one nation-less Europe. On the contrary, what has developed is a Europe of diversity, or many ‘Europes’, as it has recently been described. These ‘Europes’ share democratic values, but they are created on the basis of a certain, pre-existing collective identity. Therefore ‘Lithuanian Europe’ and ‘European Lithuania’ have become common phrases in modern academic discourse. How quickly Lithuania extricates itself from provincialism and warms to the fresh ideas of progress and achievement is its own responsibility, bearing in mind that, as Adamkus puts it, ‘the only way to escape the backwardness of the province is to board the fast Europe train.’81 In this line of thinking, Rudolph and Good are correct in stating that a nation is not only about a common past but also about a common future, which must be secured by the nation itself.82 It will be interesting to see how long it will take for Lithuanians to establish a collective European identity comparable to their national identity. Contemporary Lithuanian national identity is a product of many decades of struggle for cultural survival and liberation. After the Lithuanians freed their nation from Tsarist rule in 1918, their primary mission was to purify their national culture of any foreign influences and protect it from potential aggressors by isolating it from the rest of Europe. Indeed, the Lithuanian national values were strengthened so much during this period that they managed to withstand the forthcoming five decades of Soviet rule. Life under Soviet oppression convinced Lithuanians that their nation was too small to secure its existence on its own. Membership in NATO and the EU provides a guarantee for Lithuanians that history will not repeat itself and that Lithuania will be able to develop its national culture without fearing its powerful neighbours. Pro-European politicians and other public figures do their best to convince the Lithuanian nation that alignment with the rest of Europe will have great political, economic and social advantages for Lithuania, and that the Lithuanian nation will stand as an equal alongside other European countries. The fear of again being subsumed by a greater power still lingers, however, and the real developments for the Lithuanian state as a part of the EU have yet to unfold.

79 80 81 82

Lehti, ‘Possessing a Baltic Europe’, p. 13. Rozhednas, p. 35. Quoted in Pavlovaited, p. 212. Rudolph and Good, p. 296.

S¢ovo, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2005

From Popular Front to Political Radicalization: The Croatian Media and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939* Vjeran Pavlakovica University of Washington This article examines the ideological debate over the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) in the Croatian print media, and the impact it had on Yugoslavia’s leading domestic issue, i.e. the ‘Croatian question’. I argue that the Spanish conflict was one of the important international factors that contributed to the radicalization of the Croatian political scene, and triggered the fragmentation of the Croatian national movement, dominated by the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), into left and right extremism. During this period the Communist Party of Yugoslavia attempted, and ultimately failed, to create a Popular (or National) Front in Croatia (and Yugoslavia more generally) modelled on the French and Spanish Popular Fronts. Croatia’s population was divided between fascism and antifascism during the tragedy of World War II and the once powerful HSS became marginalized by both the Ustaša movement and the communists. This division, however, was already evident in the years before the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), when the Spanish Civil War inspired a political discussion much broader and more vigorous than previously seen in Croatia. This is a preliminary examination of newspapers in Croatia that represent the views of the radical left and right political spectrums, as well as that of the leading interwar political force in Croatia, the HSS, on the issue of the Spanish conflict. The war waged by the Catholic Spanish people against domestic anarchists and communists, united with foreigners, does not only have the features of a struggle to save Christian civilization, but it has the pure character of a religious war.1 The recent events in Spain need to awaken not only the proletariat, but the general population and all of the oppressed peoples of Yugoslavia, so that from the struggle of the Spanish people, Spanish democracy, and the legal Spanish government against the fascist insurgents and igniters of war, they draw important lessons for their own struggles.2 * Research for this paper was supported in part by a grant from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States Department of State through the Title VIII Programme and the IREX Scholar Support Fund. None of these organizations is responsible for the views expressed. 1 Author unknown, ‘Karakter španjolskog rata’, Nedjelja, 18 July 1937, p. 5. Nedjelja was one of the leading newspapers published by the Catholic Church in Croatia. 2 Milan Gorkica, ‘What Spain Teaches Us’, Proleter, November 1936, p. 1. Proleter, although published abroad, was the official organ of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ).

© School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


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[. . .] Many of our greatly esteemed and accountable officials believed that the Republican red army would win [. . .] On the other hand, all Croatian nationalists were certain that Franco would be victorious.3 [Our towns and villages] do not want to sacrifice any victims for ideas which have rent apart bloody Spain. We have our worries and our needs, we have our own struggle, in which the entire Croatian nation is participating, and before which all others must be placed in the background.4

Although nearly all political activity in Croatia in the 1930s (then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) revolved around the ‘national question’, international events, such as the Spanish Civil War, captured the attention of the reading public and exerted an influence on political parties across the spectrum, from the leaders of the Croatian national movement, the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS — Hrvatska seljachka stranka), to the illegal Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ — Komunistichka partija Jugoslavije) and the Ustaša movement. Right-wing Croatian nationalists benefited the most from the Spanish Civil War in the short run, since the victory of General Francisco Franco, backed by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, seemed to herald the dawning of a new, fascist Europe. Even though the Ustaše did not get any direct experience in the Spanish conflict, media coverage and propaganda laid the foundation for support of the Ustaša regime when they were installed by the Axis forces in April 1941, particularly among the Church establishment and the right wing of the HSS. The communists, while suffering an initial setback with the loss of the Republic and Popular Front movement, gained considerable experience in the Spanish Civil War, both in terms of military skills and in mobilizing anti-fascist groups in Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, for the HSS, seemingly at the apex of power in 1940, the Spanish Civil War signalled the beginning of its disappearance from the political stage, because Croats and other Yugoslavs turned to increasingly radicalized political options as Europe became engulfed in war. In this period, newspapers were the main source of information about international and local news, and each political party distributed one, if not several, publications that outlined their position on a broad range of topics. After the declaration of the royal dictatorship on 6 January 1929, King Aleksandar banned many papers, along with all political parties, while heavily censoring others. The elections of 5 May 1935 — still rigged by the Yugoslav regime and by no means restoring a true parliamentary democratic system — nonetheless signalled the thawing of Aleksandar’s authoritarian solution to Yugoslavia’s interminable crises. Regent Pavle, who ruled in place of young King Peter after the assassination of his father in Marseilles in 1934, sought a compromise with the Croats and lifted the ban on political parties although some, notably the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP — Hrvatska stranka prava) and the KPJ, remained illegal under the Obznana, a law 3

Mile Budak, ‘Povjesna odgovornost’, Hrvatski narod, 21 April 1939, p. 1. This weekly was the main mouthpiece for the Ustaša movement, whose leaders were mostly still imprisoned in Italy. Mile Budak (1899–1945), a writer and later education minister in the NDH, was one of the few émigrés who returned from exile in 1938. 4 Editorial in Hrvatski dnevnik, 18 April 1937, p. 5, which was the daily newspaper of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).



against anti-state activity dating back to 29 December 1920.5 Since the extreme left and right parties could not function openly, many individuals became active in the Croatian national movement, the broad organization headed by the HSS that was formed during the ban on political parties and continued informally throughout the 1930s. With the return of political activity the number of political publications flourished. Many were directly linked to a specific party, such as Hrvatski dnevnik (the main paper of the HSS), Nova rijech (Independent Democratic Party), and Glasnik (Yugoslav Radical Union), while others were fronts for illegal organizations or groups that were not associated, at least officially, with any political party. The Catholic Church, along with a number of Catholic organizations, also published various newspapers and journals — the most prominent being Hrvatska strazh a, Katolich ki list, and Nedjelja — which addressed a wide range of domestic and international political issues. Papers that were overtly pro-fascist or pro-communist were often shut down after a few issues but would later pop up under a different name with the same content. Despite the restrictions by the regime, the newspapers contained animated debates between (and at times scathing attacks on) political and ideological opponents. The articles written by leading members of political parties and transcriptions of important speeches, are at times the only sources historians have to analyse the positions of certain parties on key events such as the Spanish Civil War, since other evidence simply does not exist.6 Even though the ‘national question’ was the dominant issue of the second half of the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War was the leading international event prominently featured in nearly every Croatian paper, regardless of ideological persuasion. This was true, at least, until the Munich crisis of 1938, when significant international events were transpiring much closer to Yugoslavia’s border. The rising tension between communism and fascism on the European stage captivated not only Croatian politicians and intellectuals, but the ‘common man’ as well, who was bombarded with propaganda from communists seeking to recruit volunteers for the International Brigades, fascists praising the victories of Franco and his allies, clergymen issuing dire warnings about the red menace stretching from Moscow to Madrid and HSS activists advocating the rejection of any foreign ideologies that threatened to turn Croatia into another Spain. Regent Pavle was aware of Yugoslavia’s precarious international position, surrounded by enemy states that considered his country an artificial creation of Versailles and weakened by domestic political strife. This increased his willingness to seek a deal with the Croatian political leaders, knowing that there was danger of pushing the HSS to seek a separatist solution with Yugoslavia’s enemies. Consequently, the Spanish conflict threatened 5 Even though communist historiography typically portrayed the Obznana as being used exclusively against the KPJ, this law was applied against any anti-state political activity. 6 Political parties rarely published their official ‘platforms’, and to my knowledge documentation on party meetings and internal decisions were never made. Police agents who attended political rallies often made reports on the content of speeches, which gives insight into how the politicians were communicating with their constituents. Croatian historians who have done extensive work on the Croatian Peasant Party, such as Ljubo Boban and Fikreta Jelica -Butica, cite party newspapers extensively, followed by diaries, memoirs and personal letters between politicians.


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the stability of Yugoslavia by bolstering the polarization of Croatian political forces at a time when the international situation exerted considerable influence on the country.7 Although most newspapers in Croatia were published in Zagreb, they were by no means read only in the capital city. Newspapers, particularly those associated with a political party such as the HSS, could be found in most Croatian cities, towns and even villages, where a literate peasant could read the articles aloud to his neighbours. Most newspapers featured small advertisements that encouraged people to ‘Read and pass on’ the paper, ensuring a greater distribution than that indicated by the number of copies sold. This was the case especially for illegal publications, some of which had to be smuggled into the country, such as the KPJ’s main organ, Proleter. In the villages, the HSS and SDS (Independent Democratic Party) worked to set up reading rooms and libraries, which naturally carried their party publications, while workers could read about world events in the left wing press that would often be pinned up on bulletin boards in the factories. Activists from both the right and the left distributed their publications directly to the villagers. Their propaganda threatened the HSS grip on the peasantry. The serious implications of this activity are evident in a letter sent out to HSS representatives from Vladko Machek regarding the duties of the party’s paramilitary force, the Croatian Village Defense. ‘You must not let various agitators and other swindlers out of your sight,’ ordered Machek, ‘who for whatever reason come into villages to create mischief or to spread various news, newspapers, flyers, and similar things which are not in accordance with the Croatian peasant movement.’8 The police were also aware of the power of the written word, and the Croatian State Archives are currently overflowing with orders to censor, ban, destroy or look out for newspapers, books, pamphlets, journals and other publications which had overtly pro-communist or pro-fascist positions, especially on an issue such as the war in Spain. Discussion of the Spanish Civil War was not limited exclusively to newspapers, political speeches and journals. It is difficult to evaluate the impact the media had on the broader population, especially in an era without public opinion polls. Nevertheless, letters written to the editors of publications devoted to the peasantry, such as Seljach ki dom (Peasant Home) or Seljach ki svijet (Peasant World), which often contained practical information dealing with rural life, often make references to debates and arguments in village meetings or between neighbours over the Spanish issue. Other newspapers also published letters from their readers responding to articles covering international events, and the editorial columns were filled with polemical debates between various journalists and pundits over the Spanish issue. Due to the spate of anticlerical attacks in the early stages of the war and the characterization of the Republic as being a front for ‘Godless communists’, the Catholic Church in Croatia discussed the war in Spain in its sermons as well as its publications, and Archbishop Alozije Stepinac gave a number of talks directly related to the topic. 7

Ljubo Boban, Sporazum Cvetkovica–Mach ek (Beograd: Institut društvenih nauka, 1965), p. 379. Letter from Vladko Machek (25 January 1937), Croatian State Archive (HDA), fond 145 (SBODZ) box 21, no. 21. 8



Clearly the Spanish Civil War had an impact beyond the Croatian intellectual and political elite, affecting average Croats who likely had only a vague notion of where Spain actually was. The communist movement had been active in Croatia since the end of World War I, and Croatian right wing nationalists had adopted openly fascist tendencies after Ante Pavelica established the Ustaše Croatian Revolutionary Organization in exile in Mussolini’s Italy. However, both were relatively marginal groups in the mid-1930s despite their publicized attacks on the Yugoslav authorities.9 The transformation of the Spanish Civil War into an international conflict changed all of that. According to a monograph on the ideological and political activities of the interwar Croatian intelligentsia, The politicization of society followed the strong politicization of the intelligentsia, and the dramatic world events directly influenced that. The right got a more realistic ally in fascism and national-socialism, and so its ideological and political theories were imposed ever louder, allowing the process to continuously increase.10

To understand the divisions in Croation Society on the eve of World War II one must examine the ideological debate over the Spanish Civil War in the Croatian print media and the impact it had on Yugoslavia’s leading domestic issue, i.e. the ‘Croatian question’. This article argues that the Spanish conflict was an important international factor that contributed to the radicalization of the Croatian political scene, triggering the fragmentation of the Croatian national movement — dominated by the HSS — into left and right extremism. During this period the KPJ attempted, and ultimately failed, to create a Popular Front (which was usually referred to in communist publications as a National Front) in Croatia (and Yugoslavia more generally) modelled on the French and Spanish Popular Fronts. Croatia’s population was divided between fascism and anti-fascism during the tragedy of World War II, and the once powerful HSS became marginalized by both the Ustaša movement and the communists. This division, however, was already evident in the years before the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), when the Spanish Civil War inspired a political discussion much broader and more vigorous than previously seen in Croatia. Despite Croatia’s progress towards integration into the European Union since 2000, these historical divisions continue to characterize contemporary political debates and the rhetoric used in the press. Reacting to the raising of a monument in honour of NDH minister Mile Budak in his birthplace of Sveti Rok on 21 August 2004, the spokesman of the governing HDZ party lamented that ‘for too long, over fifty years, Croatia has been

9 For example, the so-called Lika Uprising in September 1932, subsequently mythologized by Pavelica’s followers, was in reality a bungled attack on one gendarme guard post by a few Ustaše and misguided locals, while the KPJ’s premature call for armed revolution resulted in the decimation of many of its cadres and the flight of its central committee out of the country. See Ivica Abramovica, ‘Istina o tkz. Lichkom ustanku 1932 godine u Brušanima’, Ch asopis za suvremenu povijest, 22.1–2 (1990), pp. 194–96; and Povijest Savez komunista Jugoslavije, ed. by Ljubiša Vujoševica (Belgrade: Izdavachki centar komunist, 1985), pp. 112–14. 10 Zorica Stipetica, Komunistich ki pokret i inteligencija: Istrazh ivanja ideološkog i politich kog djelovanja inteligencije u Hrvatskoj, 1918–1945 (Zagreb: Centar za kulturnu djelatnost, 1980), p. 222.


S·OVO, 17.1, SPRING 2005 11

the hostage of the ghosts of certain past ideologies’. Although the government dismantled the controversial monument a week later, the debate over Croatia’s fascist and anti-fascist past continues. The Spanish Civil War, considered to be the prelude to World War II, was also instrumental in shaping the ideological schism in Croatian society that can still be felt today. The Popular (National) Front Following the decisions of the Seventh Comintern Congress and the Plenum of the Central Committee of the KPJ in Split in 1935, the communists in Croatia reversed their earlier opposition to cooperating with the other political forces and attempted to create a Popular (Puch ki) or National (Narodni) Front. Although in the early 1930s KPJ publications liberally referred to both the HSS and social democrats as fascists, after 1935 the communists made strong efforts to cooperate with both of these forces on the model of the Popular Fronts in France and Spain. Since 1927, the HSS had been in a coalition with Svetozar Pribicaevica’s SDS (which received most of its support from Croatian Serbs), known as the Peasant-Democratic Coalition (SDK), but the KPJ rejected this as a true Popular Front since the working class was not involved.12 The communists began actively trying to co-opt members of the HSS and influence its left wing. Former HSS members, recruited by the KPJ while in the regime’s prisons (Lepoglava and Sremska Mitrovica became known as communist training schools), infiltrated the HSS and former HSS leader Stjepan Radica was given positive press in communist publications.13 Ivan Supek, active in the Communist Party as a youth in the 1930s, recalls being excited about the declaration of the Popular Front since the communists in Croatia had already established connections with the HSS and the SDS.14 The main publication of the KPJ, Proleter, argued that the KPJ and HSS had similar goals: they both fought for democracy, for the freedom of the Croatian people, and against imperialism and war.15 The article also suggested that Machek should stop attacking the KPJ and instead unite with them against the ‘military–fascist dictatorship and Greater Serbian supremacy’. In August 1935, Ivan Krndelj (representing the KPJ) met with HSS leader Vladko Machek, who privately agreed to work with the KPJ to help make the communist 11

Statement by Ratko Machek, the HDZ’s spokesman, in Tihomir Ponoš, ‘Mještani poruchuju — nitko necae skinuti Budaka’, Vjesnik, 23 August 2004, online version at For coverage of this event in English, see Etgar Lefkovits, ‘Croatia removes memorials to Nazi collaborators,’ in The Jerusalem Post (27 August 2004), online version at 12 Loncharica, ‘U pitanju puchke fronte u Hrvatskoj’, Proleter, July–August 1936, p. 7. 13 Ivan Jelica, Komunistich ka Partija Hrvatske, 1937–1945, Part I (Zagreb: Globus, 1981), p. 178. Both HSS and KPJ publications and articles also frequently made references to Matija Gubec, the sixteenthcentury leader of a peasant revolt in Zagorje, as the predecessor to both of their political movements. The HSS and KPJ interpreted the Gubec narrative in a way to mould him into their own political programmes, and use him as a symbol to mobilize Croatia’s peasantry. The HSS claimed that they inherited Gubec’s struggle to create a ‘peasant democracy.’ The communists, meanwhile, emphasized the peasant revolt of 1573 as a class struggle, which would be won by the KPJ through an alliance of the workers and peasants. See issues of Seljach ki dom and Radnik. Proleter even called on the ‘sons of Matija Gubec to volunteer to fight in the International Brigades’. See Proleter, February 1937, p. 15. 14 Ivan Supek, Krivovjernik na ljevici (Zagreb: Globus, 1992), p. 43. 15 Author unknown, ‘Izjava Dra Macheka’, Proleter, February 1936, p. 6.



party legal but continued to denounce the KPJ in public.16 The KPJ also tried to increase its activities in the countryside, even publishing the newspaper Seljach ka misao (Peasant Ideas, which was not overtly communist), although the strength of the HSS among the Croatian peasantry led to few communist successes. The social democrats, once the brunt of the KPJ’s attacks, became potential allies after 1935. According to Proleter, ‘Democratic people do not have enemies on the Left. That has to be the basis for forming a National Front.’17 However, the social democrats resisted forming any coalition with the communists because they feared losing their leadership position in the leading union, the URSS (Ujedinjeni radnich ki sindikalni savez or Syndicate of United Workers Union) while maintaining the hope of eventually forming their own party.18 The social democrats also proposed forming a ‘third bloc’ of the working class, opposed to both the government bloc (Yugoslav National Party, JNS) and the opposition bloc (the SDK). The KPJ criticized this tactic as only helping the enemy, believing the only successful possible tactic to be the formation of ‘a broad front of the entire nation.’19 Catholic Church organizations, such as Catholic Action and the Krizh ari (Crusaders), as well as the extreme, nationalist Ustaša movement remained opponents of the KPJ, especially since the Popular Front movement was envisioned as an anti-fascist coalition. Even though all of these had influence on the right wing of the HSS, and were actively fighting for Croatian national liberation, they remained outside the boundaries of a Popular Front. During this period it was the other forces of the left, as well as the bourgeois parties, which ceased to be enemies of the KPJ, while the right — especially as the fascist threat became more imminent — became identified not only as an ideological enemy but as a danger to the oppressed peoples of Yugoslavia. The media, the Spanish Civil War, and ideological divides (1936–39) The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 had an immediate impact on both the left and right throughout Europe, and served as the first stage of the conflict that was to engulf the continent in 1939. Despite the unsolved ‘national question’ in Croatia, the polemical debates became more heated in the publications of the various political forces, as the war in Spain increasingly took over the front pages of daily and weekly papers. It can be argued that attacks against political enemies within Croatia exceeded those against the Yugoslav regime as the war in Spain progressed, and it became clear that the war had considerable international significance. The public debate over the war in Spain also became a forum for either supporting or denouncing the attempts to create a Popular Front in Croatia, and both the left and right clearly saw that the conflict in Spain could teach important lessons. Ultimately the Spanish Civil War revealed that the political differences among the leading political forces in Croatia were too vast, despite the common platform of solving the ‘national question’, for the creation of the Popular Front as envisioned by the communists. 16 17 18 19

Jelica, p. 81. Author unknown, ‘Na ljevici nema neprijatelja’, Proleter, January 1937, p. 2. Jelica, p. 48. Mladen Ivekovica, Hrvatska lijeva inteligencija, 1918–1945, Book I (Zagreb: Naprijed, 1970), p. 338.


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For the KPJ, the war in Spain seemed to justify the immediate need to create a Popular Front; ‘the struggle of the Spanish people — that is our struggle.’20 Not only would the Popular (National) Front secure a solution to the Croatian question, it would be a shield against fascism. As the war progressed, the KPJ became very active in organizing aid for the Spanish Republic, sending volunteers to fight in the International Brigades (over 1600 Yugoslavs, many of them émigrés in Western Europe, and nearly half ethnic Croats),21 holding public demonstrations and protests, and helping volunteers return from prison camps in France after Franco’s victory, which became the ‘most important public activity of the Communist Party of Croatia.’22 The communist press, in particular Radnik (Worker) and Proleter devoted a large number of articles to the war in Spain, to counter right wing propaganda as well as mobilize support for the Spanish Republic. However, rarely did these newspapers explicitly mention a communist revolution in Spain, claiming that the conflict was not between ‘the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but a struggle between fascism and democracy’.23 The pro-Republican press also glossed over the constant political struggles being waged within the Popular Front government and the intricacies of the tenuous alliance between Spanish anarchists, socialists, communists, and liberals, factors which greatly undermined the war against Franco.24 Radnik carried articles which used the Spanish example as a positive reason to create a Popular (National) Front in Croatia. In an article on 25 September 1936, Radnik described how the National Front had carried out reforms for the peasantry and the poorest levels of society and that ‘the victory of the National Front was the same as opening the doors of a dungeon for the Spanish people.’25 It was the fact that the workers of Spain were united which allowed for the creation of a broad Popular (National) Front, unlike the divided workers of Croatia. Furthermore, Radnik emphasized that the Popular (National) Front did not antagonize the situation in Spain, but it was the ‘reaction’ which decided to attack since the Popular (National) Front was a deadly danger for fascism.26 Proleter warned that ‘only the formation of a National Front is capable of stopping and preventing the plotting of fascist headcutters [glavoreza].’27 In its publications the KPJ drew many comparisons between Spain and the situation in Croatia and Yugoslavia, stating:


R, ‘U pomoca španjolskom narodu’, Proleter, September 1936, p. 10. The number of Yugoslavs in Spain was initially estimated at between 1200–1300 soldiers (see Naši Španci, ed. by Aleš Bebler (Ljubljana: Španski borci Jugoslavije, 1962)), and then increased to 1664 after access to Comintern archives was granted to Yugoslav researchers; see the five-volume collection edited by Ch edo Kapor, Španija 1936–1939 (Belgrade: Vojnoizdavachki zavod, 1971). 22 Jelica, p. 333. 23 I. Lašchinec, ‘Hrvatski dnevnik i borba u Španiji’, Proleter, June 1936, p. 6. 24 For an in-depth analysis of the political situation of the Republican side during the war, see Helen Graham, The Spanish Republic at War 1936–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 25 Author unknown, ‘Španija’, Radnik, 25 September 1936, p. 1. 26 Milivoj Magdica, ‘Španija danas’, Radnik, 21 August 1936, p. 2. 27 Milan Gorkica, ‘Ch emu nas uchi Španija’, Proleter, November 1936, p. 2. 21



[. . .] the fate of Spain today is the fate of Yugoslavia tomorrow. Yugoslavia should be interested in the victory of the Spanish people since those same attackers want to destroy the supporters of freedom and democracy in Yugoslavia.28

The connections between Spain and Croatia were also made in order to appeal to the unsolved ‘national question’, by portraying the Popular Front in Spain as the defender of the right to autonomy for non-Spaniards in Spain. In the November 1936 issue of Proleter, Milan Gorkica, at the time General Secretary of the KPJ, wrote ‘What Spain Teaches Us’, claiming the following: Today Catalonia is free and equal, because the Catalan national movement, under the leadership of [Luis] Companys, collaborates with the National Front along with the communists and socialists. It is also not a coincidence that the oppressed Basques received, for the first time in centuries, full autonomy, under the initiative of the Madrid government, in which sit socialists and communists along with other National Front parties.29

In a response to Hrvatski dnevnik’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War — which attempted to maintain a neutral position towards the war in Spain, yet was fervently anti-communist — Radnik published an article which asked: Aren’t the sympathies of the Croatian people on the side of the Catalan people, which rose up for the defense of freedom, which it received from the legal Spanish government, and can’t the national question of the Catalans, which remained unsolved for years, be tied in any way to the Croatian question? The Catalan national question was legally solved by precisely that government which Hrvatski dnevnik judges and attacks so furiously.30

Communist publications often carried letters and articles from Yugoslav volunteers who were fighting in Spain on the side of the Republic. In a transcript from a radio address on Radio-Madrid, given by a Croat volunteer in the International Brigades, there is a call for all ‘oppressed minorities and nationalities’ to join the fight in the defence of the Republic. He goes on to describe how ‘Catalans and Basques received autonomy with the help of the united struggle of all working class and democratic forces, after the legal victory of their National Front’.31 The example of the Popular Front in Spain served the KPJ in countering the claims that communists in Croatia were not willing to support the national rights of Croats — as their opponents alleged — but that ‘communist Croats struggle in the first place for the needs of the Croatian people.’32 Proleter also gave information on Croatian communists in Spain, such as Vladimir Ca opica, proclaiming that those who ‘today fight for Madrid also defend [. . .] our white Zagreb’.33


M, ‘Ugrozheni narodi Jugoslavije’, Proleter, December 1936, p. 3. Milan Gorkica, ‘Ch emu nas uchi Španija’, Proleter, November 1936, p. 2. 30 Author unknown, ‘Zašto napada Hrvatski dnevnik?’, Radnik, 4 September 1936, p. 2. 31 Author unknown, ‘Radio-Madrid 20.XII.1936’, Proleter, February 1937, p. 5, transcript of a speech given on Radio-Madrid on 20 December 1936. 32 Author unknown, ‘Španjolska i Hrvatska’, Proleter, January 1937, p. 4. 33 P. Vukovica, ‘Madrid i Zagreb’, Proleter, June 1937, p. 4. 29


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Seljach ki dom resumed publication in October 1936 after being banned for six years. It was a weekly newspaper of the HSS dealing directly with peasant issues, including articles on farming techniques, activities of the HSS in Croatia and historical essays about peasant leaders (the Radica brothers and Matija Gubec, the legendary sixteenth century organizer of a peasant revolt crushed by the Ban’s army, were discussed almost every week). As far as the war in Spain was concerned, Seljach ki dom carried articles mostly lamenting the tragedy of the Spanish peasant and offered Spain as an example of what could happen in Croatia if the Croatian peasantry was to fall under the influence of ‘foreign ideas’. Furthermore, the Spanish Civil War was allegedly not caused by the internal political and historical problems of Spain; rather, it was a battleground between foreign ideologies (communism and fascism), where the peasantry, caught in the middle, suffered the most.34 The Spanish peasant (illiterate and easily manipulated by foreign powers) would in the end be exploited regardless of which side won in the war.35 According to Seljach ki dom: In Spain a bitter war is waged over who will rule the Spanish people, among which the peasantry is most numerous, but which lacks a movement which the Croatian people have. That is why the Spanish lords do what they want.36

In contrast to the Spanish peasant, the Croatian peasant had the good fortune to have a peasant movement such as the HSS, which was against tyranny of either the right or the left and relied on Croatian democracy and humanism.37 One article stated that ‘if only poor Spain had Radica there wouldn’t be so much blood spilled there’.38 The assertion that communism was a foreign idea, and therefore dangerous for the Croatian national movement, was repeated in article after article — including headlines such as ‘Before the Croatian Peasant Movement Foreign Ideas Fall’, ‘The Croatian Peasant Movement and Relations with Foreign Ideas’, and ‘The Croatian Nation Goes Its Own Way’ — with Spain as the example of what happens when a nation turns to foreign ideologies to solve its problems. Had the Spanish peasants organized around the principles of peasantry, they wouldn’t serve foreign interests.39 The HSS, on the other hand, did offer a social programme ‘based on the principles of humanity’ and democracy.40 The editors of Seljach ki dom concluded: Therefore, we don’t need any imported ideas such as communism or fascism, because the Croatian nation has its own ideas, developed in its own Croatian peasant movement, which can meet the needs of not only the peasant, but those of the civil servant, worker, and citizen.41

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Author/article title unknown, Seljach ki dom, 25 December 1936, p. 13; and ibid., 14 January 1937, p. 1. Stjepan Doroda, ‘Hrvatski seljachki pokret je temelj naše slobode’, Seljach ki dom, 8 April 1937, p. 2. Author/article title unknown, Seljach ki dom, 15 April 1937, p. 7. Imbro Štivica, ‘Pravi put Hrvatske seljachke politike’, Seljach ki dom, 25 March 1937, p. 3. Nikola Tusun, ‘Hrvatski seljachki pokret i odnos s tudjim idejama’, Seljach ki dom, 11 March 1937, p. 4. Author/article title unknown, Seljach ki dom, 14 January 1937, p. 1. Author/article title unknown, Seljach ki dom, 8 April 1937, p. 4. Ibid.



To counter the influence of the HSS among the peasantry, the Yugoslav Communist Party published its own journal, Seljach ka misao, which supported the HSS on the surface but offered a different view towards the events in Spain. While Seljach ki dom never mentioned any of the internal political or social developments in Spain, characterizing the war solely as a struggle between foreign ideas and powers, Seljach ka misao argued that it was the desires of the people that were expressed in the election of the Popular Front in 1936, and it was only ‘when the agrarian reforms began in Spain [that] the generals began their uprising’.42 The conflict in Spain was presented as a social struggle: Peasants and workers, republican citizens, and all the nations of Spain will persist until the end in the struggle against hunger, slavery, and terror, which is what the general’s rebels are bringing, and in the defense of their national freedom against foreign occupiers!43

Since Seljach ka misao was not overtly communist, there was no use of the terms Popular or National Front in any of the articles, but the editors did call for the peasants in Croatia to ‘form a strong front with other nations’, and to create a ‘peasant-worker democracy’.44 Contrary to the claim that the communists were against solving the national question, Seljach ka misao argued that ‘[f]ascism is therefore nothing other than rigid centralism, the smotherer of all national ideas, spreader of hatred among nations and organizer of another bloody war.’45 Thus, while this journal was not nearly as comprehensive as Proleter or Radnik in its coverage of Spain, it did attempt to provide an alternative news source for the peasantry about the character of the Spanish Civil War, as well as encourage the Croatian peasants to form a front with the working class. Hrvatski dnevnik, Obzor (Horizon), and Jutarnji list (Morning Paper) were all daily newspapers published in Zagreb, and for the most part they characterized the Spanish Civil War as an attempted revolution by the ‘reds’. News of the conflict in Spain received considerable coverage and relied mainly on Nationalist news sources. Political analysis was not common in any of these papers (unlike Proleter, Seljach ki dom, or Hrvatska strazh a), since they were more concerned with transmitting news, even though much of it was Franco’s propaganda (which Proleter constantly criticized). Nonetheless, the war in Spain did sharpen the political divisions in Croatia, which could be seen in the daily papers. Hrvatski dnevnik quoted Petar Bakovica, the president of the Union of Croatian Private employees, who claimed that ‘Croatian people do not recognize any directives from red Jewish communist Moscow, nor any other internationals, whether Amsterdam or Vienna.’46 Obzor constantly referred to the defenders of Madrid as ‘red militants’ and alleged that the anarchists were ‘ready to set the city on fire and kill all enemies of the Popular Front.’47 42

Author/article title unknown, Seljach ka misao, 3 April 1937, p. 2. Author unknown, ‘Seljaci i radnici u Španiji’, Seljach ka misao, 22 October 1937, p. 2. 44 Author unknown, ‘Hrvati u medjunarodnoj politici’, Seljach ka misao, 16 November 1937, p. 1. 45 Author unknown, ‘Fašizam je kruti neprijaltelj naroda’, Seljach ka misao, 16 March 1937, p. 1. 46 Petar Bakovica,’ Transcript of a speech given to the Croatian Workers Union’, Hrvatski dnevnik, 14 December 1936, p. 1. 47 Author/article title unknown (extracted from international wire services) Obzor, 6 November 1936, p. 1; and ibid., 5 November 1936, p. 2. 43


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While the communists argued that the Popular Front had solved the national question in Spain, by giving Catalans and the Basques considerable autonomy in the Republic, this was not mentioned at all by the daily papers and HSS officials. Obzor, for example, argued that a Popular Front based on the Spanish model would actually ‘bury the Croat question’, since the communists were internationalists.48 The same article claimed that ‘in Spain it began with a Popular Front and it is going to end with anarchism.’49 Thus, the Spanish Civil War helped to elucidate the HSS’s stance towards the Popular Front and the decision to not cooperate with the KPJ at all, despite earlier collaboration between communists and certain left elements of the HSS. In fact, the war in Spain heightened the opposition to the KPJ, since they were seen as the greatest political challenge to the HSS within Croatia, although the influence of the right would also continue to increase in the late 1930s. Unfortunately, in the 1930s the political options in Croatia were limited since those who did not want to ‘become peasants’ by supporting the HSS only had the extreme right or left as alternatives.50 As the conflict in Spain continued, public opinion became more polarized. Since the HSS and the mainstream press took an increasingly pro-Franco stance, any chance for the creation of a Popular Front as envisioned by the left evaporated. The most extreme right wing, nationalist Croatian organization, the Ustaše, did not begin publishing Hrvatski narod (Croatian Nation) in Croatia until 1939, after the Spanish Civil War had ended. Nonetheless, throughout 1939 and 1940 this paper published several articles praising the ‘New Spain’ created after the Nationalist victory, as well as emphasizing the economic successes of fascism in Germany and Italy. Perhaps the most well known publication of the Catholic Church in Croatia, the weekly Hrvatska strazh a (Croatian Sentinel), followed the Spanish Civil War closely and typified the conservative position towards the conflict and its implications for Croatia. Not surprisingly, Hrvatska strazh a had a very negative opinion of the Popular Front and the Republic because of the high number of attacks on the Church in Republic territory. There was not much subtlety in the articles about the events in Spain; headlines such as ‘Bloodthirsty Communists in Spain’,51 ‘Communists are Crucifying People on the Cross’,52 ‘Communism Means War’,53 and ‘Thousands of Women Hostages of the Reds’54 were typical in Hrvatska strazh a. The events in Spain quickly took over the front page every week, and the forces of the Republic were always described as reds, Marxists, communists, or anarchists. Hrvatska strazh a also exposed who was really behind the war in Spain, arguing that ‘the bankrupt Popular Front can’t hide only the reds, but also the main initiators of that political conglomerate — freemasons, who were once again preparing massacres and killings in Europe.’55 48

Author/article title unknown (extracted from international wire services) Obzor, 13 November 1936, p. 3. 49 Ibid. 50 See Supek, Krivovjernik, p. 40. 51 Author unknown, ‘Krvolochni komunisti u Španjolskoj’, Hrvatska strazh a, 2 August 1936, p. 2. 52 Author unknown, ‘Komunisti razapinju na krizh’, Hrvatska strazh a, 23 August 1936, p. 1. 53 Author unknown, ‘Komunizam znachi rat’, Hrvatska strazh a, 18 October 1936, p. 2. 54 Author unknown, ‘Hiljade zhene kao taoci crvenih’, Hrvatska strazh a, 25 October 1936, p. 1. 55 Author unknown, ‘Novi zlochini crvenih’, Hrvatska strazh a, 30 August 1936, p. 3.



Other articles claimed that ‘in Spain the butchery was started by Jews’, who along with communists and freemasons were the greatest enemies of the Church.56 The war in Spain became an argument against the Popular Front in Croatia. In the article ‘Popular Front dangerous for peace’, Hrvatska strazh a alleged that if the elected government won the war, a ‘pure Marxist regime’ would be established in Spain. The implication was that similar things would happen in Croatia.57 Another article declared: Let Spain teach us! Let it be an eternal warning, to not offer the communists one small finger, because they will cut off our entire arm [. . .]. We don’t want communism in any form! Not as Bolshevism, not as Marxism, not as socialism as this or that colour, not as a Popular Front; we don’t want it!58

The same article also concludes that the communists are anti-national and antiChurch, and ‘if they destroy the Croat’s Catholic faith [. . .] they would destroy the entire cultural tradition of the Croatian people.’59 Numerous articles, under headlines such as ‘Horrifying Persecution of Priests in Spain’,60 were also published describing the destruction of churches and the killings of the clergy in Spain, often relying exclusively on Nationalist sources of those atrocities. Photos often accompanied such articles, including one showing nuns being ‘forced’ to smile and raise their fists in the communist salute61 and another depicting female communists aiming rifles at a church.62 In order to avoid a similar fate, Croats would have to remain faithful to the Catholic Church and reject communism at all costs. In the article ‘New Paths for our Croatian Peasant Youth’, Hrvatska strazh a argues that the youth must work in the spirit of Catholic Action, otherwise Croatia would end up like ‘that unfortunate land Spain’.63 The HSS remained the only political choice for Croats, and although the Catholic Church likely differed with the HSS because of its anti-clericalism, Hrvatska strazh a often quoted articles from Hrvatski dnevnik and reported on the political activities of the HSS. However, Hrvatska strazh a did warn that Marxists were trying to infiltrate the HSS, although the HSS and communism ‘are conflicting in their foundation and between them there can be no compromise’.64 Thus the Church stood firmly against the formation of the Popular Front and through its publications painted an exclusively negative picture of the Republican government in Spain. With an overwhelming number of legal publications in Croatia implicitly supporting the Nationalists in Spain — and denouncing the Popular Front — it is not surprising that the attempt of the KPJ to create a Popular 56

Mato Kiš, ‘Zašto smo protiv komunizma’, Hrvatska strazh a, 18 October 1936, p. 2. Author unknown, ‘Puchka fronta opasna za mir’, Hrvatska strazh a, 2 August 1936, p. 3. 58 Ivo Bogdan, ‘U borbi protiv komunizma’, Hrvatska strazh a, 11 October 1936, p. 9. 59 Ibid. 60 Author unknown, ‘Stravichno progonstvo svechenika u Španjolskoj’, Hrvatska strazh a, 6 September 1936, p. 2. 61 Photograph featured in Hrvatska strazh a, 23 August 1936, p. 4. 62 Photograph featured in Hrvatska strazh a, 6 September 1936, p. 1. 63 Author unknown, ‘Novi putevi naše hrvatske seljachke omladine’, Hrvatska strazh a, 6 September 1936, p. 7. 64 Author/Article title unknown, Hrvatska strazh a, 29 November 1936, p. 9. 57


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(National) Front was a complete failure. The war in Spain reaffirmed the HSS leadership’s refusal to compromise with the communists and kept the Croatian left isolated even after the Bloc of National Agreement (October 1937) created a political coalition between the SDK in Croatia and the United Opposition in Serbia. Failure and resurrection of the National Front (1939–45) After 1939, the Comintern ordered the KPJ to cease cooperating with the democratic parties in Croatia even though there had not been much success in any case since the Popular (National) Front tactics had failed. The attempts to collaborate with the democratic opposition had resulted in failure, and after 1939 the KPJ returned to its underground, illegal activities. However, the war in Spain, which contributed to the failure of a Popular (National) Front in Croatia, did give the KPJ considerable organizational experience as well as real combat experience for the cadres that fought in Spain. After the war ended with the Republic’s defeat in 1939, the KPJ, especially in Croatia, focused on giving aid to the volunteers imprisoned in camps in France and getting them back into Yugoslavia. At this time Tito also strengthened his hold on a more disciplined and united communist party dedicated to Yugoslavism.65 The KPJ leadership had been punished for its refusal to field its own candidates (in the legal Party of the Working People) in the 1938 elections, since it had decided to support the HSS and not reveal the political weakness of the communists.66 Even though it seemed that the left had been divided and considerably weakened by the end of the 1930s, the KPJ was sufficiently organized by the outbreak of World War II to survive the purges under the Ustaša regime and build a national liberation movement. It was only after the destruction of Yugoslavia by Axis forces that the communists were successfully able to create a National Front, which mobilized resistance around the KPJ against the fascist occupiers and domestic collaborators. Spanish Civil War veterans, such as Marko Oreškovica Krntija, Franjo Ogulinac Seljo and Maks Bacae were sent by the KPJ to organize the first partisan units in Croatia as well as place spontaneous uprisings of Serbs, who were being systematically persecuted by the Ustaša regime, under the control of the communists. As the Croatian population grew increasingly disappointed with Pavelica’s government, more Croats flocked to the banner of the National Front, which was the only organization offering true resistance against fascism. A key event was a declaration on 12 October 1943 by a number of HSS leaders who had joined the national liberation movement, calling on all HSS members to reject further collaboration with the Ustaše and fight for the liberation of Croatia under the National Front led by the Communist Party of Croatia, which had already established a governing council (ZAVNOH) in June of that year.67 While the failure to form a National Front in the 1930s and the war in Spain seemed to be fatal defeats for the left in Croatia, the experiences of the KPJ during the period of the Spanish Civil War were crucial for the ultimate victory of the communists in 1945. 65

Aleksa Djilas, The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919–1953 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 93. 66 Ivo Banac, With Stalin Against Tito: Cominformist Splits in Yugoslav Communism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), p. 75. 67 Hrvatski drzhavni arhiv.

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Harmony and Discord: Moving Towards a New Europe. Ed. by Elizabeth Skomp and Roman Zh yla. Papers from the conference ‘Between the Bloc and the Hard Place’ at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, SSEES Occasional Papers No 57. London: School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, 2003. xix + 209 pp. £16.00. ISBN 0-903425-68-8. Harmony and Discord is a set of mostly interesting and solid articles on various aspects of politics and society in Eastern Europe in the post-communist and pre-EU-accession period. The authors write from various theoretical perspectives and use different methodologies — from formalized political science (Tim Haughton’s analysis of Vladimir Mehiar’s Premiership); through ethnographic studies based on unstructured interviews (Jane Cowley’s article on Polish students’ political identity); to legal and political document analysis (Ulf Hansson’s on Latvia’s treatment of minorities; Olexander Hryb’s — on Ukraine’s security in the new geopolitical realities, and Christian Boulanger’s — on Slovak and Hungarian legal traditions as manifestations of political culture); and historiography and political discourse analysis (Gusztav Kosztolányi’s chapter on Hungarian ideological discourse, and Daniel Skobla’s on Slovak national identity). The articles most frequently concern Slovakia (4), Hungary (2), Poland (2), and less often the Czech Republic (1), the Balkans (1), Bulgaria (1), Latvia (1), and Ukraine (1), among which one compares Czech and Slovak, the other, Slovak and Hungarian political cultures. There are two clearly visible and at the same time intersecting, thematic groups made by chapters dealing with political culture and political identity. Most articles place the post-communist transformation in the context of the EU enlargement. Kosztolányi’s and Skobla’s do this in the most insightful way. Skobla points out that the nation building process might be dysfunctional to the process of EU accession. ‘The political will of the state to pursue consistent democratic policies [. . .] takes place simultaneously with the desire of the newborn nation-state to consolidate nationally. This (almost neurotic) tension produces some political side effects, which may sometimes conflict with normative expectations posed by the EU’ (p. 197). Obvious once stated, the observation has not been popular in ‘transition’ studies. The paradox which Skobla could have developed, is that the allegedly logical strategy of resigning from nationalism for the sake of EU is not a feasible option, even from the EU point of view. Practically and historically, to be considered a serious EU candidate, a country should be a consolidated, internally peaceful © School of Slavonic & East European Studies, University College London, 2005


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nation-state. Looking at the map of Eastern Europe is enough to realize that the list of ‘new’ countries or those which deal with national minority or identity problems, converges with the list of countries whose EU candidacy has been problematic or impossible: Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Slovenia (not dealt here with) and Latvia are important exceptions. As Hansson’s article shows, Latvia setting Latvian language proficiency as a condition of granting citizenship resulted in 1999 with over 600,000 native minority inhabitants lacking citizenship rights. Despite this the EU has not had serious problems with considering Latvia a qualifying country. The Latvian case, where the 32% Russian minority has not been politically destabilizing so far, seems to indicate that EU standards are set high only where minorities have been politically mobilized as in Slovakia, and especially when they proved to be militant, as in former Yugoslavia. Kosztolányi compares nationalist, communist, and EU accession discourses produced by modern Hungarian political elite. His chapter provides an innovative framework for analysis of political discourses in the post-communist, accession countries. By distinguishing between political ideologies that appeal to organic identity and those that seek legitimacy in economic improvement, he is able to identify the ideological core of anti-EU nationalist rhetoric — constructing a parallel between Communism and the EU. It is the opposition of ‘natural’ nationalist identity and the ‘artificial’ communist or EU one that Eastern European nationalists rest on. I strongly recommend the book. I do so despite its discouraging title — too similar to many others. Between the Bloc and the Hard Place, originally the title of the conference, attempted to joke about where East Central Europe belonged in the past — the (Soviet) Block — and where it aspires to — the Hard Place (EU). In the epoch when Internet searches have become the main tool to find books one needs, the title of this volume should contain ‘Eastern (Central) Europe’. University of Warsaw

Anna Sosnowska

Language and Identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croatian and its Disintegration. By Robert D. Greenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. x + 188 pp. £40.00. ISBN 0-199258-15-5 (hardback). In Language and Identity in the Balkans, Robert Greenberg draws together several years of research on language and ethnicity in the former Yugoslavia, some of which formed the basis of articles the reader may already be familiar with. Nevertheless, this book is more than just a repackaging of old research, providing a broad examination of linguistic development and processes of the last two hundred years in the former Yugoslavia, and the role of language in Yugoslav politics — particularly regarding the more recent ethno-nationalist policies that heralded the dissolution of Yugoslavia. In charting the changes in linguistic policies from the years towards the unification of Yugoslavia through to the dissolution of the country, Greenberg’s research accurately depicts the importance of language to ethnic groups in the formation and securing of their identities.



Greenberg extends the post-Yugoslavia study to include not just the Serbian and Croatian standards, but also Bosnian and Montenegrin. In distinguishing the latter two, Greenberg has moved on from his earlier studies in which he suggested that Serbo-Croatian might ‘still be looked upon as a single language with three different ethnic names — Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian’ (2001). This in itself acknowledges the speed with which language is changing in the former Yugoslavia, and Greenberg’s study is welcome for its documentation of the changes that are occurring, and the different perspectives on them. In focussing on the main issues of language change and differentiation, rather than a complete exposition of all the issues that have arisen, Greenberg has been free to examine articles in popular press, as well as the usual more scholarly works on instruments of codification and articles and blueprints by the region’s linguists. Such an approach is justifiable as it enables deeper analysis of the main issues as they affect the majority of the population, and indeed makes the field accessible to a wider audience who do not have to wade through an overly didactic tome. Additionally, it helps reflect the important difference between literary language and oral communication, and the effect of prescriptive changes on society — citing, for example, the case of Knin Serbs who, in 1991–92, started using the Cyrillic script despite most of them being unable to do so. The historical account of the language(s) in the post-1800, move towards unity, era is concise and clear, particularly in the way it foresees crises that would eventuate in the second half of the twentieth century. However, Greenberg’s approach of presenting in parallel the various influences and processes at work, without passing concluding judgements on their respective importance, does give the Herderian belief, that ‘a nation’s existence was inconceivable without its own language’, rather more prominence in the linguistic nationalism of post-1960s Yugoslavia than the evidence provided supports. More convincing is the comparison of Serbo-Croatian with the Hindi-Urdu situation — where active policy forced the separation of the languages; and the accompanying point that the difference of categorization between language and dialect is often also political, hence the higher level of ‘mutual intelligibility’ between the Norwegian and Swedish ‘languages’ than between different Chinese ‘dialects’, perhaps the greatest indicators of the future of the former Serbo-Croatian language. Greenberg’s examination of the four successor ‘languages’ focuses on the distinctions being highlighted and or forced by linguistic policymakers. While the Croats and Serbs have their nineteenth-century literary bases from which to derive their linguistic independence, Montenegrins and Bosnians have been forced to create new identities using ‘ethnically marked dialectal features.’ Despite these differences being miniscule, some seem as insignificant as the differences between English and American English, and the fact that all four successor languages are of Neo-Štokavian dialect, Greenberg suggests that language divergence is set to continue. The irony, his study demonstrates, is that linguistically, Serbo-Croatian has consistently moved towards uniformity, whereas divergence is being pursued in the ongoing politicization of the language. Providing a comprehensive study of the former unified language, and analysis of its dissolution and successor languages, Language and Identity in the Balkans offers


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an up to date and concise integrated history of the role of language in identity and ethnicity in the former Yugoslavia. More in-depth linguistic analysis is dependant on the continuing development of the successor languages, but this is an extremely useful cross-discipline tool for those interested in language specifically, and its role in the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. School of Slavonic and East European Studies University College London

Neil Griffiths

The Stalin Phenomenon. By Giuseppe Boffa. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1992. 205pp. $39.95 (hardback). ISBN 0-8014-2576-X. Giuseppe Boffa was a progressive Communist politician who, until expulsion, had been L’Unitá’s Moscow correspondent. A Soviet historian since 1959, Boffa thought Stalinism represented a period of ‘deplorable excesses’ and was not an ‘inevitable outgrowth of Marxism and Leninism.’ The Stalin Phenomenon (1992) charts the historiography of Stalinism. For Boffa, the existence of Stalinism is one of the most controversial terms in the social sciences: does it represent personal power, a period in power, or the autocratic means to secure power? Is it a general or unique phenomenon? Stalin presented himself as the heir to Marxism–Leninism rather than a departure from it. Attempts to define Stalinism as a discrete episode were stillborn with Khrushchev but revived under Gorbachev. Stalinism has been used politically as a warning and as a model; history has become enmeshed in these polar opposites. Boffa asserts that two interpretations of Stalin dominated the twentieth century: an Anglo-American one and a 1956 Soviet postanovleniie. The latter praised the ends, if not the means, of Stalinism. It also placed Stalin within structural constraints, de-emphasizing the role of any individual except for Lenin. Western Marxists have also played down the degree to which a ‘cult of personality’ could really have wielded such power without the structure of the system enabling this. The book outlines a number of schools of historiography. The ‘Continuity Theory’ sees Stalin as the culmination of Marxism–Leninism. The NEP is thus treated as a tactical hiatus prior to the ‘inevitability’ of collectivization. Such a view was popular in America, and with émigrés like Solzhenitsyn. Boffa believes that the identification of the pivot between change and continuity is a historian’s hardest task. He argues that, if Stalinism really was the heir to Leninism, then why were the purges of 1936–38 necessary? Boffa contends that the theory above is often extended, placing Stalinism in the context of the themes of statist autocracy running through Russian history. E. H. Carr is one advocate. Solzhenitsyn, however, finds Robert Tucker’s ‘revolution from above’ a national insult: it tars Russian history with the Stalinist brush. Boffa argues that Stalinism needs to be understood as a new and modern phenomenon. The influential ‘totalitarian’ school places the phenomena of Stalinism and Nazism under a shared umbrella. Zbigniew Brzezinski represents this American



tendency. The Cold War encouraged the identification of the USSR with this term, leading to a backlash against such a consensus-lacking, value-laden term. Boffa also identifies the ‘development school’ popularized by decolonization and Soviet space success. Alec Nove views Stalin as a ‘necessary’ response to longstanding economic backwardness. Stalin is heir to Peter the Great and his ilk. As such, Stalinism is thought of as an authoritarian form of ‘industrialization politics’. Some argue that the opportunities created by industrialization offset the harshness of collectivization and helped legitimize his rule. Boffa finds this school helpful but simplistic. The ‘Thermidor school’, pioneered by the original if polemical Trotsky, twinned Stalin with the events of the French Revolution. Stalinism sprang from Bolshevism, although separate from and in opposition to it. Trotsky saw Stalin as the revolution’s Bonaparte. He criticized the emergence of the bureaucratic stratum as a revolutionary betrayal. These ideas have been critically extended by Trotsky’s biographer, Isaac Deutscher. The ‘new class’ identified by Milovan Ðilas can also be connected with this school. Boffa cautions us against the use of Marxist terms to analyse the particularities of Soviet Russia. He also asks how a bureaucracy could be simultaneously so radical and yet such a victim of its ‘own’ radicalism. Another politicized school emerged out of the Soviet–Yugoslav split. Stalinism was accused of being a statist ideology, substituting the bourgeoisie for a hegemonic bureaucracy under dictatorial control. This distortion meant that the true believers had to be annihilated. Yugoslav scholars contrasted this with the looser organization of their country with its economic system of self-management. The ‘Industrial Despotism’ school looks at Marx’s ‘Asiatic mode of production’ in the light of the non-western European social structures that a hybrid Soviet Union contained. This school became more prominent with the spread of communism in Asia. One of its central ideas was the need for industrialization to change the feudal social order. Boffa also celebrates the Soviet historian, Roy Medvedev, who thought that the path to socialism could be achieved using a scientific methodology: Marx and Lenin had made important, if unscientific, strides towards it. He viewed Stalin as a not inevitable deviation from a process that could have achieved more through voluntary enthusiasm. The excellent translation newly charts the emergence of Gorbachev’s glasnost where the debate moved far outside traditional arenas. One important impediment to the continuation of this debate is the slow pace of archival declassification. Boffa shows the debate moving along the channels he identified, if a little more complicatedly and contradictorily. Boffa highlights two important contemporary historians: Dimittrii Volkogonov for his access to unreleased sources and Mikhail Gefter for his originality. Boffa concludes by stating that he attempted to analyse the schools objectively, without ‘[. . .] an arid exposition of their hypotheses. I have tried to point out their origins, development, merits and shortcomings [. . .] to indicate not only the criticisms levelled against them by scholars of various persuasions but also the principal objections . . . I personally believe they invite’ (p. 189). He succeeds admirably well in this. He reasons that none of the schools are sufficient alone, but that all, taken together, are necessary. He denies ‘taking refuge in eclecticism’ — the schools


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should be applied according to which part of Stalinism one is explaining and in what context (p. 190). Boffa situates himself in these rancorous debates by declaring that ‘Stalinism was born in the wake of Marxism and its Leninist evolution, though with considerable alterations [. . .] in the original contours of both’ (p. 12). In summary, Boffa’s command of the historiography is exceptional, lucidly interpreted, eloquent yet approachable. Although Boffa’s death in 1998 has robbed the book of potential for new life, for anyone wishing to view the debates that Stalinism has provoked, this book is indispensable. School of Slavonic and East European Studies University College London

David K. Oldman

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Slovo vol. 17.1