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Serbia Says Letter Absolves It Of WWI Guilt

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BerichtGeplaatst: 11 Jan 2014 19:16    Onderwerp: Serbia Says Letter Absolves It Of WWI Guilt Reageer met quote


On the eve of the First World War centenary, Serbia has produced a letter which it says proves that Austria-Hungary was readying for war back in 1913.

A hundred years on from the start World War One, Serbia is still haunted by the question of whether Gavrilo Princip was a terrorist or a freedom fighter.

The answer to that question determines whether Serbia was largely to blame for the great European catastrophe that followed the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

Now, Serbia has produced a letter, which it says contains fresh evidence that Austria was to blame for the outbreak of war in 1914.

The letter, written by the Austrian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Oskar Potiorek, to the minister of finance of Austria Hungary, dated May 28, 1913, suggests Austria-Hungary was readying for war long before the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The copy of the letter whose original cannot be found was unveiled by the director of the National Archive of Serbia, Miroslav Perisic, at the Visegrad-based Andric Institute in Bosnia on January 5.

According to the document, Austria was preparing for the war more than a year before it started.

In the letter, the governor of Bosnia wrote that Austria should prepare for “an imminent great war, only a few years hence, that will be fought in dire circumstances”.

Besides these preparations, the letter describes ways to keep the Serbian community in Austria-Hungary politically passive.

“We ought to be satisfied if we succeed in keeping the largely passive mass of our Serb rural population in their lethargic state, and if we succeed to divert the Croat and Muslim intelligensia and semi-intelligensia from moving to the Serbian side, i.e. prevent the union of all Southern Slavs in common aspirations, on an anti-dynastic foundation”.

Speaking about school pupils in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he says they should be put in order by removing professors that encourage them to take up politics.

Perisic said the document had kept until now from the public eye as it confronted the “desired, fabricated, unscientific picture of the pre-history of World War I”, which blamed Serbia for the conflict.

Presenting the letter, movie director Emir Kusturica, the founder of Andricgrad, defended the assassination of the Archduke as justified.

Franz Ferdinand was a racist anti-Semite who was killed “in occupied Sarajevo and not in Vienna”, he said, suggesting that it was an act of freedom and not an act of terrorism.

“The Sarajevo assassination has been misused in historical terms, and was used as a screen for the persecution of of Serbian people at the beginning of the Great War,” Kusturica said.

However, Austrian historians have called the letter insignificant. Manfried Rauchensteiner, an expert on the topic of the World War I, said the letter contained “nothing important”.

At the same time, the Vienna-based newspaper Kronen Zeitung wrote that Perisic had only presented a bad translation of the letter.

At the same time, the Neue Zuricher Zeitung said on Tuesday that “Belgrade refuses to accept that the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated the Habsburg Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand, will be remembered as a terrorist like al-Qaeda, or the evidence that Serbia was complicit in the catastrophe of the First World War”.

According to their website, the letter of Potiorek to Bilinski was poorly translated. They also blame the poor interpretation of the letter on propaganda and pressure from Serbia, which still seeks to blame Austria for the war.

Moreover, the authenticity of the letter is under question because Serbian Archives have published only a 1930 copy of the lost original, which was published in 1928 in the Sarajevo daily newspaper, Vecernja posta.
If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied
-Rudyard Kipling-
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