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Serbophobia, or Anti-Serb sentiment, is a term used to describe a sentiment of hostility or hatred towards Serbs or Serbia. The term has been used to describe a "new, modern form of Nazi racism" against the Serbs.[1]


Use of the term in history

Austrian pre-WWI caricature showing a hand crushing a Serb. The phrase reads "Serbia must die"

The term was used in the literary and cultural circles since before World War I. Croatian writers Antun Gustav Matoš and Miroslav Krleža had casually described some political and cultural figures as "Serbophobes" (Krleža in the four volume "Talks with Miroslav Krleža", 1985., edited by Enes Čengić), meaning that they perceived an anti-Serbian animus in a person's behavior. Miloš Acin-Kosta in his book Draža Mihailović i Ravna Gora (Draža Mihailović and Ravna Gora) dedicates a section to Serbophobia during World War II. In the 1986 draft Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Serbophobia is mentioned.[2]

Cadik Danon, the then-Chief Rabbi of Yugoslavia et al. in an open letter[3] to the American Jewish Committee in 1995, during the bombing of Republika Srpska by NATO during Bosnian War, wrote of a background of "... unrestrained anti-Serbian propaganda, raging during all this war, following the Nazi model, but much more efficient means and in a much more sophisticated and more expensive way. ... Even American Jews were not able to withstand this propagandistic poison,... they did not recognize the Nazis and racist nature of the Serbophobic dogma. They did not identify Serbophobia as a twin sister of anti-semitism ...".

Instances of Serbophobia

According to those who use the term, Serbophobia can range from individual hatred to institutionalised persecution.

  • An example of Serbophobia is the jingle Alle Serben müssen sterben (All Serbs Must Die), which was popular in Vienna in 1914[4] (also occurring as: Serbien muß sterbien).
  • The use of the term "Vlach", as well as the use of the word "Chetnik" as a derogatory designation for anything connected to Serbs (rather than a paramilitary as in its only accurate meaning) is frequent among Croats and among Bosniaks, during and after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.[5] The word shkije (a variaton of the medevial word 'sclavus' or slave /slav Sclavus) in the Albanian language is a derogatory word for Serbs.[6]
  • During WW2 Serbs throughout Yugoslavia were exterminated on mass in the holocaust. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 1,200,000 Serbs were murdered during the occupation by Nazi forces. Prior to and during the extermination mass propaganda was initiated by the Germans and their Croatian collaborators as to dehumanize and justify the slaughter just as had been done to the Jews previously. [7][8].
  • The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia submitted to the The International Court of Justice[9] in 1997 claims that acts of genocide against Serbs had been incited by anti-Serb sentiment and rhetoric communicated through all forms of the media.
  • Croatian "Patriotic Song" which read as follows: Dear mother, I'm going to plant willows, We'll hang Serbs from them. Dear mother, I'm going to sharpen knives, We'll soon fill pits again.[9]
  • The slogan Srbe na vrbe!, meaning Hang Serbs from the willow trees! is hate speech calling for the extermination of Serbs, as popularized before WWII by Mile Budak, the chief architect of the Ustaše ideology and of genocide against Serbs. The slogan soon became a reality during World War II, with mass hangings becoming notable in terms of symbolism in the Independent State of Croatia, as part of the Holocaust and the Ustaše's persecution of the Serbs. In present-day Croatia, Croatian neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists and people who oppose return of Serbian refugees often use the slogan. Graffiti with the phrase is common, and has appeared as recently as 2004 and 2006.[10][11][12]
  • The publishing in a newspaper of, "Each Muslim must name a Serb and take oath to kill him."[9]
  • The radio broadcast of "public calls for the execution of Serbs".[9]
  • Srbosjek (literally "Serb cutter" in Croatian and Serbian) was a specially designed knife used by the Ustaše during World War II for the speedy killing of prisoners in the concentration camps of the Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia (NDH), most notably the Jasenovac concentration camp. The majority of victims were Serbs as well as significant amounts of Jews and Roma, who were all imprisoned and killed on 'ethnic' grounds.[13]
  • One of the most known manifestations of Serbophobia is the denial of war crimes committed against Serbs in Bosnia (1992-1995) and Croatia (particularly during Operation Storm in 1995).[14]
  • At the same time, Serbophobia is claimed to manifest itself in the behaviour of Western as well as Balkan media, which have supposedly created an illusion that the Serbs started the Yugoslav wars, that they are the aggressors and the only guilty ones.[15][16][17]
  • Serbophobia has been claimed to occur in many Hollywood films including: Behind Enemy Lines and Harrison's Flowers, where the Serbs are constantly portrayed as the "bad guys".[18]
  • Current United States of America Vice President Joe Biden is on record as speaking in an anti-Serb manner. During the 1999 NATO attack on Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia, he appeared on Meet the Press (9 May 1999) and called for "a Japanese-German style occupation of that country, while his son publicly praised the Albanians' resolve in expelling the "degenerate thugs" from Kosovo" [19][20][21][22] Due to these statements, during his official visit to Belgrade in 2009 he was met with heavy criticism branding him rascist from media and public figures alike as well as numerous protests against his visit.[23][24][25]
  • Serbophobia is often claimed to be particularly widespread among Croats, Bosniaks and Kosovo's Albanians as a reaction to alienation of Serbs during the wars with those ethnic groups.[26][27]
  • Current Croatian mayor of the city of Split, Željko Kerum makes a public media outburst claiming “There has never been, nor will there ever be a Serb in my family, that’s how I was raised” to which the Serbian government responded by condemning the statement as rascist and sending a letter of protest to the Croatian embassy.[28][29]
  • In September 2009, a doctor refused to treat a stroke patient because he was a Serb. Upon their arrival the doctor started verbally abusing them and almost physically attacked them at one point. He called them "Chetniks" and "vermin from Vrhovljani", threatening to "take Chetnik badges from both their heads". Once treated at another hospital the patient was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. The doctors only reaction was that he "doesn't care about journalists". The Serb patient who was forced to flee Croatia during the war had just recently returned, but discrimination and human rights violations as evidenced continue in the present which is a major factor keeping the remaining refugees from returning.[30][31]
  • In Melbourne, Australia a restaurant with owners of Croatian descent held a celebration to honor World War II Croatian Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic, whose genocidal policies led to the deaths of an estimated 600,000-1,000,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. The event was an "outrageous affront" both to his victims and to any persons of morality and conscience who oppose racism and genocide, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter and Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff stated. Zuroff also noted this was not the first time that Croatian émigrés in Australia had openly defended Croatian Nazi war criminals.[32]
  • On the 6th October, 2009 the Croatian extreme right-wing NGO (The Croatian Cultural Movement) announced plans to erect a monument in honor of former Croatian Ustasha president Ante Pavelic in Zagreb adjacent to the capitals centre square. The Israeli director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center slammed the proposed monument, saying it "constitutes an outrageous falsification of Croatia's World War II history and is an insult to the memory of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians - Serbs, Jews, Roma. He went on to say that the decision to erect the monument reflected "historical revisionism of the worst sort imaginable and a whitewash of the horrific crimes committed by the NDH-Independent State of Croatia as state policy. It is simply inconceivable that a country on the verge of entry to the European Union would allow such a monument to be erected in its capital city or anywhere else on its territory."[33][34]
  • On the 12th of October 2009, a European Under 21 Championship qualifying match was played in Varaždin, Croatia where Serbia was the visiting side. Several hours prior to the match, Serbian youth squad manager Milovan Đorić was unprovokingly assaulted by a group of "some seven or eight hooligans" while walking around town in his Serbian squad tracksuit. Đorić was subsequently treated for minor facial injuries. The match itself was also marred by racist abuse directed towards the Serbian players from the crowd such as with offensive chants such as "Ubij Srbina" (Kill Serbs) and Srbe na vrbe (Hang Serbs from the willow trees) being heard throughout and the subsequent burning of the Serbian flag.[35][36]
  • In October 2009, Croatia's state TV HRT Director Vanja Sutlić insulted one of his own journalists because she is married to a Serb. Witness reports state that "rough insults" were directed at Ivana Dragičević-Veličković including being called a "chetnik whore". Lela Knežević, an editor with HRT, added that this was not the first similar outburst Sutlić was involved in. After attending a journalist seminar in Belgrade, Sutlić informed her that all business trip expesnes were to be cancelled and may now only be funded through personal means due to his ethnically motivated objection to the business trip which he explained by stating, 'what business do you have being guests on Serb B92'.[37][38][39]
  • Nationalist Croats have been known to shout the slogan "Kill the Serb" frequently during public events, most notable during Marko Perković Thompson's concerts,[40][41] but also frequently during sporting events.[42] During the summer of 2009, as more Serb tourists began arriving to the coastal resorts in Croatia, several of them have seen their cars being vandalized.[43]


Critics associate the use of the term Serbophobia with the politics of Serbian nationalist victimization of late 1980s and 1990s as described, for example, by Christopher Bennett. According to him, Serbian nationalist politicians have made associations to Serbian "martyrdom" in history (from the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 to the genocide during World War II) to justify Serbian politics of the 1980s and 1990s; these associations are allegedly exemplified in Slobodan Milošević's Gazimestan speech at Kosovo Polje in 1989. The reaction to the speech as well as the use of the associated term Serbophobia is a matter of heated debate even today.[44] In late 1988, months before the Revolutions of 1989, Milošević accused critics of his regime and political tactics like the Slovenian leader Milan Kučan of “spreading fear of Serbia”.[45] According to political scientist David Bruce Macdonald, the term was popularised in the 1980s and 1990s during the re-analysis of Serbian history.[46] The term was often likened to anti-Semitism, and expressed itself as a re-analysis of history where every event that had a negative effect on the Serbs was likened to a "tragedy".[46] Often associated with the politics of Serbian victimization of late 1980s and 1990s.[47]

See also


  1. ^ Globalizing the holocaust, David MacDonald, University of Otago
  2. ^ SANU
  3. ^ C. Danon, 'et al.': Open letter asking for help from the American Jewish Committee. 1995.
  4. ^ Trifkovic, Srdja (April 13, 2000). "Why Yugo-Nostalgists are Wrong". Chronicles. Retrieved 2006-04-29. 
  5. ^ 041215IT
  6. ^ Civil Rights Defense Minority Communities, March 2006
  7. ^ "History of the holocaust: Yugoslavia"
  8. ^ Federal Bureau of Statistics in 1964. Published in Newspaper Danas on November 21, 1989
  9. ^ a b c d INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE 17 December 1997 Case Concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishmnent of the Crime of Genocide. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  10. ^ Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church, April 28, 2004
  11. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 - Croatia - January 2006
  12. ^ Newspaper article on the defacing of the Serbian church in Split with the Croatian neo-Nazi graffiti. Dnevnik, Croatia, January 18, 2008
  13. ^ David M. Kennedy, Margaret E. Wagner, Linda Barrett Osborne, Susan Reyburn, The Library of Congress World War II Companion (Simon and Schuster, 2007), pages 640, 646-47, page 683:

    At Jasenovac, a series of camps in Croatia, the ultranationalist, right-wing Ustasha murdered Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, Muslims, and political opponents not by gassing, but with hand tools or the infamous graviso or srbosjek (literally, "Serb cutter") - a long, curved knife attached to a partial glove and designed for rapid, easy killing.

  14. ^ Impunity for Abuses Committed During "Operation Storm" and the Denial of the Right of Refugees to Return to the Krajina, United Nations Human Rights Watch, 1 August 1996]
  15. ^ Serb Demonization as Propaganda Coup, Edward S. Herman, April 6, 2009
  16. ^ Aust ambassador attacks anti Serb racism
  17. ^ It's time to end Serb-bashing, The Guadian
  18. ^ Behind Enemy Lines: Fact or Fiction?
  19. ^ Biden Does the Balkans, May 20, 2009
  20. ^ Biden calls Serbs illiterate degenerates, 19/05/09
  21. ^ Biden recognized as racist in Serbia, 21/05/09
  22. ^ Serbian nationalists bash Joe Biden, August 29, 2008
  23. ^ Biden is on the record as being very belligerent towards Serbia, May 20th, 2009
  24. ^ gets mixed reception in Belgrade, May 20, 2009
  25. ^ ‘Go home Nazi scum,’ Serb hardliners tell Biden, May 20, 2009/
  26. ^ The Serbs and Croats: So Much in Common, Including Hate, May 16, 1991
  27. ^ Croatian hate site, National Post, December 11, 2008
  28. ^ Split mayor in media swipe at Serbs, Sept 21, 2009
  29. ^ Protest to Croatia over Split mayor's comments, Sept 22, 2009
  30. ^ Croatian medic denies Serb, BBC News, Sept 10, 2009
  31. ^ Croatian doctor refuses to help Serb, B92, Sept 7, 2009
  32. ^ Melbourne eatery hails leader of Nazi-allied Croatia, Jerusalem Post, April 16, 2008
  33. ^ Croatian NGO plans monument to Nazi collaborator Ante Pavelic, Jerusalem Post, October 6th, 2009
  34. ^ Croats honour Nazi collaborator, October 9th, 2009
  35. ^ Croat hooligans attack Serbia manager, B92, October 12th, 2009
  36. ^ Football match marred by racist violence, RTS, October 12th, 2009
  37. ^ Croat state TV boss in chauvinist outburst, B92, October 19th, 2009
  38. ^ Croatian TV Director Against "Chetniks", Novosti, October 19th, 2009
  39. ^ HRT Director ethnically insults reporter, Press Online, October 19th, 2009
  40. ^ - Thompson pozdravio Norca, rulja uzvikivala "Ubij Srbina!"
  41. ^ 60 tisuća ljudi po nevremenu dočekalo Thompsona, vikalo se i 'Ubij, ubij Srbina!' -
  42. ^ If you want to kill Serbs, go to the Maksimir stadium, Nov 1st, 2008
  43. ^ Serb tourists targeted in Croatia, July 27, 2009
  44. ^ Comment: Serbia's War With History by C. Bennett, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, April 19, 1999
  45. ^ Communism O Nationalism!, TIME Magazine, October 24, 1988
  46. ^ a b MacDonald, D. B. (2003)
  47. ^ Bennett, C. (1999)
  • Србообија и њени извори, Јеремија Д. Митровић, Издање: Политика и друштво, 1992, ISBN 86-23-03053-2 (Serbian)

Further reading

National Library of Serbia's catalogue lists following books written about serbophobia:

  • Serbophobia and its sources: Mitrović, Jeremija D. (1991). Srbofobija i njeni izvori. Belgrade: Naučna knjiga. ISBN 86-23-03053-2.  (second edition Srbofobija i njeni izvori. Belgrade: Službeni glasnik. 2005. ISBN 86-7549-423-8. )
  • Serbophobia and antisemitism: Ekmedžić, Milorad (2000). Srbofobija i antisemitizam. Šabac: Beli anđeo. 
  • On serbophobia through centuries: Blagojević, Lazar; Ilišković, Rajko; Pavlović, Ilija (2004). O srbofobiji kroz vijekove. Šamac: Prosvjeta. ISBN 99938-687-2-8. 

External links


Use in various languages


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