Try not to hate them

/ by Srđan Srdić

150 fascists in the dead centre of Belgrade. They celebrate an anniversary of the suicide of General Milan Nedić, president of a pro-Hitlerian collaborationist government. Secondary school students, football fans, white trash, a few priests. White trash, all in all. A bearded guy with sunglasses, camouflage trousers. His right hand lifted up high. Hitler’s servant. February, the year is 2018, Belgrade. A city in which there were four concentration camps. The dead centre of a dead city.


Teenagers light candles. A slick fascist with a megaphone. Priests light candles. Milan Nedić on the occupied Radio Belgrade: ‘I will preserve the essence of the Serbian people’. At the expense of all other peoples. Schools where it has been taught for decades that Milan Nedić was a fascist. Churches which are founded on the interpretation of the New Testament. Contemporary Christians light candles in remembrance of Milan Nedić. Milan Nedić who wasn’t concerned about people, but peoples. Milan Nedić didn’t understand the New Testament. He didn’t read, he didn’t have the time. He opened concentration camps. Four concentration camps.


Inhabitants of the city in which there were four concentration camps. Only about a hundred of them stand in the way of present-day fascists, self-proclaimed Christians. Not more than a hundred. Organized by the politicians whose courts are in the process of rehabilitating Milan Nedić, protector of the essence of a people. The people whose essence is more valuable than other peoples’ essence. Milan Nedić, Hitler’s servant, and his portrait in the office of one of the preceding Serbian prime ministers. Vojislav Koštunica, the Serbian prime minister closest to the church. Milan Nedić’s admirer. Present-day Christian. Sometime president and prime minister of Serbia. Of all citizens of Serbia. Whatever their essence.


Secondary school students light candles in remembrance of Milan Nedić. Schools where history is taught. A history teacher who says that it’s society’s fault. That individuals aren’t responsible for anything, the collective consciousness of the society is responsible for them. What about those on the other side, which society is responsible for them? Which schools did they attend? 150 fascists march along Belgrade roads, the police secure the rally. Who do the police protect on Belgrade roads? Are the roads in Belgrade unsafe? Why are they so, if they are so? Secondary school students who would peacefully send their peers to concentration camps. Because their essence is different. Who are those children’s parents?


The permit that the fascists possess, they got it in order to organize the rally properly. Who issues such a permit? A fascist comes to the police station and says, ‘Good afternoon, how are you, what are you doing? I’m a fascist. I’d like to organize a little fascist march. Who should I refer to concerning this issue’? An officer answers politely, ‘Good afternoon, of course, permits for fascist gatherings are issued at the third counter on the left. Goodbye’. A secondary school student tells his form tutor, ‘I apologize for those three absences, I couldn’t avoid participating in a little fascist march, you must have seen it on TV’. Or he doesn’t say anything. He simply leaves. Then the form tutor sees him on TV. Is he happy when he sees him? Does he boast to his wife? Does he say, ‘My dear, come and see, these are my kids! Smart children’.


The Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. A list of the names of a hundred notable Serbs. Milan Nedić’s name on it. An anonymous commentator says, ‘It’s better to be a Germans collaborator than a communist’. Editorial boards and administrators of Internet portals on which anonymous commentators make themselves heard. Permission to state anonymous fascists’ anonymous opinions. Who issues such a permit? Anonymous commentators full of understanding for German Nazis. Born in Serbia. Or Yugoslavia.


Municipal authorities in Belgrade. Nobody speaks out about the little procession of peaceful fascists through the dead centre of Belgrade. The police secured the rally. No-one was hurt. No incidents and victims, no material damage. This is important. The Minister of Police doesn’t speak out. Perhaps it’s best this way. Best for all. Fascists, as well as the others. No representatives of the party that has for decades declared to be socialist at the protest against the little procession of peaceful fascists. No media personalities. Perhaps it’s better to stay at home. Perhaps it’s better to mind your own business. Perhaps it’s best this way.


Dragan Maksimović (7 February 1949 – 4 February 2001) was a Serbian actor. It says so. He died after an attack by Nazi skinheads close to the groups Blood and Honour and United Force, who beat him up because his skin was darker. This is what it says. Those involved in the murder haven’t been brought to justice, still. This is what it says. Dragan Maksimović died on 4 February 2001. Belgrade fascists marched peacefully on the seventeenth anniversary of his death. Belgrade police secured their gathering. Belgrade fascists beat Dragan Maksimović on 17 November 2000. Maksimović, a diabetic and asthmatic who had a recent cataract operation, was dying in the hospital for two months. He didn’t resist when he was attacked, no passers-by came to his aid. In hospital he refused to identify the attackers. He said, ‘Don’t arrest those young people’.


There’s no monument to Dragan Maksimović in Belgrade, there’s only a memorial plaque. In the Serbian town of Aranđelovac there’s a street that bears Milan Nedić’s name.


Everybody is silent.


Try not to hate them.

Srđan Srdić

is a novelist, short-story writer, editor, essayist and creative reading/writing teacher. He has published two novels, two short story collections and a book of essays. From 2008 to 2011 he served as the editor of the international short story festival Kikinda Short. He returned to this position in September 2015.