It was Sunday, February 2 (March 11, according to the new calendar), 1917. On that day, Tsar Nicholas I was told briefly and unequivocally: “There is anarchy in the capital. The government is paralyzed.”
Turbulent days will follow, which will be remembered in history as the February Revolution and which did not pass without human casualties. Tsar Nikolai Romanov was faced with the ruthless truth that he had to cede the throne to his ten-year-younger brother, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich. However, Grand Duke Mihailo refused to ascend the throne the next day, and one by one, the other members of the centuries-old royal house of Romanov did the same for him.
It is well known how historical changes took place in Russia: in October, ie November according to the Gregorian calendar, a three-year bloody civil war followed and erased tsarist Russia from the world map.
Tsar Mikhail was killed by the Bolsheviks on July 13, 1918 in Perm, and a few days later, on the night between July 16 and 17, on the news that the White Guards were approaching the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk since 1924), the Regional Bolshevik Committee decided to the former Tsar Nicholas I, his son Alexei, members of his immediate family and several close relatives who found themselves there were liquidated. Among those liquidated was the emperor’s uncle’s brother, Grand Duke Ivan Konstantinovic Romanov, son-in-law of King Peter I Karadjordjevic. Ivan’s wife Jelena, the daughter of King Peter I, was fortunately on the other side of Russia at the time, from where, with the help of the Serbian ambassador to St. Petersburg, Dr. Miroslav Spalajkovic, she managed to take refuge with her children in France, where she died in Cannes in 1962.
The RIVER of refugees, which originated after the civil war, seeking salvation from Bolshevik persecution, also reached Serbia. They found a home and refuge here, and they brought the Serbs the image of tsarist Russia, which they loved so much and whose doom they regretted so much. The people gave warm greetings to the Russian refugees in the Serbian regions. Long before the arrival of transport, reception and accommodation were organized. They were taken care of by a special state commission. Civilians taken care of in special Russian colonies had schools in their mother tongue. Among the refugees were members of various social groups, many prominent personalities from culture, science, politics, generals, members of the State Duma …
Academician Matija Bećković spoke about the contribution of Russian emigration: “Their arrival was a great misfortune for them, but as someone said, great happiness for us and our newly created, war-ravaged and devastated country. There was almost no part of the city where a Russian, a doctor or a professor has arrived. “
Nikolai Ivanovich Petrov, a White Army officer from Vladikavkaz, and Irina Ipolitovna Karatayeva, a student of the Smolny school, where girls from noble families of the then Russian capital were educated, were also in the column of exhausted and lost people. Fate united them in 1932 in Subotica. In the meantime, Nikolaj, an officer from the Caucasus, is graduating from the Faculty of Law, and Irina is being hired as a translator. She spoke Russian, German, French, and quickly mastered Serbian.
The STATE commission sends the newly-appointed lawyer to Nis, where his son Aleksandar was born in 1938. A year later, they moved to Belgrade, which would become the starting point for Alexander, a future poet, prose writer, anthologist, literary critic, polemicist, who would mark the turn of two centuries with his rich literary opus.
For more than half a century, this creator, with his erudition, energy, intellectual courage, will give a stamp to the cultural overall life. He has taught as a visiting professor at universities on all continents. And during all that time, he found time to enrich the armature of his works with records of people and events to which the veil of oblivion began to fall. And he wrote about the writers Miloš Crnjanski, Milan Kašanin, Oskar Davić, Vasko Popa, Tasi Mladenović, Dobrica Ćosić … He did not miss the politicians who created our destiny, such as Leka Ranković, Milovan Đilas, Krcun, Milošević, Dolanc …
Testifying about that time is all the more significant because today freedom of speech has been distorted into irresponsible debauchery and has enabled various “freethinkers” to question the real framework of turbulent events, bitter controversies, historical plenums, language declarations, proposals for reflection, constitutional amendments. student demonstrations, national “springs” … everything that happened from the sixties to the multi-party system from the end of the last century.
Petrov NOTED the story of Miloš Crnjanski as he experienced the first morning after arriving in Yugoslavia. He came from London with the then ambassador Srdja Prica and stayed at his house in Opatija.
“They leave me alone in the house, and immediately tomorrow morning someone rings the bell. I open the door, and there is a man standing in front of the door. Nicely dressed, suit, light, summer, hat, tie, kind smile, even before I asked him who he was. and what does he want, he tells me – I’m Ranković! And I to him – already! He laughs! I see, kind, how can he be! He asks – do I need a driver! What do I need a driver! I don’t have a car He continues – both the car and the driver!
I think, then, he came to guide me. You know where! But, like this, all in gloves. Still, I think, he came in person! He did not send others! Well, I kindly ask – what do I need a car and a driver for?
– Well, while you’re here, let’s see these parts for a while. You haven’t been for a long time, remind yourself!
– And who would be my driver or guide? He says – well, that’s why I came!
– You personally?
– With the greatest pleasure! … But, first let the two of us meet! It is an honor for me to be in the company of a great Serbian writer!
– Unbelievable! “
Petrov also wrote about the dangerous echoes of the never-resolved suicide of the poet Branko Miljković.
“Winter, February 12, 1961. In Belgrade, at the Yugoslav Drama Theater, an evening of Croatian literature. It is led by Professor Ivo Frangeš. Suddenly – a break. An unannounced break of about ten minutes. Everyone is wondering what is happening … There is a commotion .. Professor Frangeš appears, begins to speak in a slightly trembling voice, as if preparing to say something too strong! Last night, or in the early morning hours, the great Serbian poet Branko Miljković committed suicide in Zagreb …
And who was the first to suspect suicide? Who first dared to utter the word – murder? Tasa Mladenović … Tasa is too experienced to speak by heart. He personally went to a terrible place and there, he claims, he was convinced that that fatal branch would not withstand the weight of the poet’s body … Only after that, almost in a whisper, other testimonies began to circulate. They saw the poet hanging in an unusual position. His feet touch the ground. And that famous black hat with a wide brim, stuffed on his head …
HALF a century after Branko’s death, in January 2015, the Serbian newspaper in Chicago “Sloboda” writes about that poet’s last night. A lengthy article cites the testimony of a woman. That evening, an acquaintance called her and begged her to try to take the drunken Branko out of a cafe on the outskirts of Zagreb, full of suspicious guys. He comes from the door and sees what is happening, so he does not dare to enter. Sometime in the morning, he finds out that “Mr. Branko was killed.” And where the crime took place. He starts immediately and arrives to see the poet’s body hanging on a branch.
He notices traces of shoes in the snow around the tree. The police do not allow access to the dead poet … Later, that tree also died. Someone cut down all its branches. And a tree. “
The last text of the symbolic title “Vasko Popa, poetic beginning, poetic and end of life” was published in “Književni novinami” the day before his death. At the end, he paraphrases the verses from Popa’s song “Departure”, which read: “I’m not here anymore / I haven’t moved from the place / but I’m not here anymore”. And Sasha says: “I’m not here anymore / I moved from the place / but I’m still there”.
And it is still among us.
CONVERSATIONS BULET AND ANDRIC
CONVERSATIONS with Miodrag Bulatović have always been special experiences. He came to Belgrade to study in a German overcoat.
“When he left – Petrov writes – his mother asked him what he was going to do in Belgrade … I want to be a writer. – A writer! All right, just be careful not to get caught!”
One evening Bula remembers his meetings with Andrić. And how, thanks to Andrić, he became a member of the Association of Writers of Serbia without much waiting. He applied for admission after the first published book of stories “Devils are coming”. At the session of the Management, no one to support him, everyone against. Except for Andrić. “If they don’t let him in the door, he’ll come in through the window!”
Andrić does not seem convincing to him when they talk about women. Bule asks him if he lowers the blinds when he makes love during the day. Does the light come on in the evening? Or does he like to shop in the dark?
Andrić smiles and does not answer questions. He says nothing about himself, but about others as in sayings.
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