Letters of Serbian Consuls from Kosovo and Metohija
XIX and XX century

Consul Branislav Nusic
Pristina, November 20, 1894

We are presenting here three letters written by Branislav Nusic, the Consul at the Consulate of the Kingdom of Serbia in Pristina in 1894-1895. Those were the last years of the Ottoman rule on the territory of today's Kosovo and Metohija and the letters of Mr. Nusic give a very clear picture what was the position and life of the Orthodox Serb population. Several years later, in 1913, after the Balkan Wars, Old Serbia, comprising today's Province of Kosovo and the FYROM, were liberated from Ottoman rule, after almost 5 centuries of occupation and opression. These ancestral lands after a long period thus became the integral part of the Serbian Kingdom.



Consul Branislav Nusic
Pristina, November 20, 1894

Consulate of the Kingdom of Serbia in Pristina
Confidential, no. 127
November 20, 1894
Pristina

Mr. M. Bogicevic, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade

Respected Minister,

The violence in Kosovo grows worse and worse with each passing day and is increasingly unbearable. The displacement of the Serb population is steadily gaining momentum. At this time even the residents of the towns are leaving.

Four days ago an incident occurred in Gilan [Gnjilane] that amazes by its impudence and at the same time attests to the extent of the authorities' indifference toward all forms of violence.

Arnaut [Albanian] Sali caus abducted the wife of a Serb man and dragged her into the mountains, coercing her by force to become Turkish [i.e., to become a Moslem]. In accordance with the law he had to bring her to Gilan before the ucumat [Turkish court] to declare before a kajmak [Turkish vice vizier] and an [Orthodox] priest that she desires to become Turkish. Her father Stanko from the village of Vitina and her mother also came. She declared that she did not wish to become Turkish and that is when Salim caus drew a rifle in the middle of the ucumat, which was full of people and zaptije [Turkish sentries], and shot first the father and then the mother of the woman. Then he calmly descended from the second floor of the ucumat, mounted his horse and left. No one touched him and he has not been caught to this day. This degree of impudence by an outlaw and the indifference of the authorities, which allows such an outlaw to simply leave, has caused great distress among the population and a strong trend to move away can be discerned at this time.

It is expected that perhaps tomorrow the valija [vali, Turkish governor of a vilayet] himself will come here because the general situation in Pristina and the Sandjak [Sandzak] is very disorderly and every day some sort of major incident is expected, which the authorities already appear to be foreseeing.

It will be my honor to report to you on whatever occurs. Respected Minister, please accept assurances of my excellent regards.

Consul Branislav Nusic

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text in Serbian


Consul Branislav Nusic
Pristina, March 30, 1895

Consulate of the Kingdom of Serbia in Pristina
Confidential, no. 33
March 30, 1895
Pristina

Mr. M. Bogicevic, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade

Respected Minister,

In addition to the many Arnauti perpetrators of violence and ajduks [haiduk, anti-Turkish highwayman] under whom our people in the Gilan srez [Turkish administrative district] are suffering, there is also an outlaw from Serbia, haiduk Manasije Dinovic, who has formed a partnership with Ertem Vrabi, Suljo Zekin and Ajriz of Lab, and commits acts of robbery and blackmails Serbs just like the worst of the Arnauti haiduks. Manasije is originally from the village of Negosavlje, srez of Jablanica, district of Toplica, where his father still lives with the money which his haiduk son sends him.Great are the evils that have been committed so far in the srez of Gilan by Manasije and his band of six accomplices. However, what is tragic is that Manasije, when chased by the Turkish authorities, flees back into Serbia and is protected there by our border guards, who hide him and Suljo, Etem and Ajriz in the watchtowers. This is especially true of the buljubase [military commanders in the Turkish army] at Svirce and other watchtowers throughout the srez of Jablanica.

Since Manasije fled Serbia due to certain crimes, it would be a good opportunity to lure him to the Svirce watchtower and some other and arrest him there so that he can be tried and, at the same time, removed from this region.

It is my honor to request urgent confidential orders toward this end. Respected Minister, please accept assurances of my excellent regards.

Consul Branislav Nusic

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Text in Serbian



Consul Branislav Nusic
November 20, 1895

Consulate of the Kingdom of Serbia in Pristina
Confidential, no. 104
November 20, 1895
Pristina

Mr. Stojan Novakovic, President of the Council of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs, etc. in Belgrade

Respected Minister,

Feverish excitement reigns among the local Arnauti in the nahija [Turkish administrative region] and in the town. What rumors are coming to them from Constantinople or Salonica I do not know. They are extremely concerned and constantly holding meetings in the mosques. After such meetings some, who have Serbs among their friends and acquaintances, offer them friendly advise to exercise caution. At one such meeting there was discussion how I myself, the local [Orthodox] priest here and seven or eight others should be killed. Individuals have already warned me to exercise caution. One affair that occurred recently best demonstrates the fear of the Turks. Two or three weeks ago I was walking along the street with my wife when suddenly a hodza [khoja, Moslem priest] appeared in the middle of the street and obstructed my path. He was flushed, with bloodshot eyes and in a state of nervous excitement. He shouted at me: "We will begin to slaughter with you!" It was as if the carsija [business district] expected something to happen right away because all the shops were closed immediately. I believe that if I had not been with my wife that something would have happened right then. Of course, the following day, the Turks, as they are wont to do, declared that that particular hodza was mad. This explanation was accepted by the authorities, who detained him and then released him after four days. Recently he again accosted me in the middle of the street; however, I have since learned that he has been instructed to act thus in an effort to provoke some sort of scandal.

In general the Turks are behaving in such a fashion towards the Serbs that we should fear very unfavorable developments in the near future. Recently they took an oath in the mosque here to sever all ties with Serbs and consider him who so much as speaks with a Serb to be a traitor and a djaur [non-Moslem infidel]. After this oath no one dares to come to the Consulate and even the Mutesarif's [Turkish governor's] terdzuman [interpreter], who had some business here, had to hide and cover his tracks before entering the Consulate. None of the Turks stops in the Serb store nor exchanges a word with the owner in passing. Because the Pasha's terdzuman teaches the Turkish language in the Serb school, he is called a djaur and was recently stoned by children from the Turkish schools.

In general the situation is such that I count each day which passes as a day I have been granted and I have resolved to send my own family to safety in [central] Serbia.

This situation has been made even worse by reports of the Turkish consul in Nis that Bilal-aga, whom you know, is bringing weapons from Serbia for the local Serbs and now the excitement here has reached its peak. I do not know what has kept the peace and the heads of Christians upon their shoulders even this long. It is my honor to request of you, respected Minister, to be so kind as to make the appropriate authorities aware of this situation so that they can prevent in timely fashion what will be most difficult to stop later on.

Respected Minister, please accept assurances of my excellent regards.

Consul Branislav Nusic

Translated by S. Lazovic (Sep. 3, 2001)

From the book:

KOSOVO 1389-1989
The Land of the Living
serbian original

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BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Branislav Nusic (1864-1938), one of the greatest playwrights of the Serbian theater, was also a noted novelist, story writer and essayist. Nusic left his mark on the entire twentieth century, dominating the repertoire of Serbian theatre. Devoting his life to the theatre, not only through his writing but also through his activities in the theatre (as a manager, literary consultant, producer, and as an actor as well in his early years), he would listen carefully to see when the audience would laugh and then used this experience in writing his comedies, which are characterised by the widest possible gamut of procedures and approaches to provoke laughter. Still up-to-date and vital, Nusic's works were fertile ground for several extraordinary performances in modern Serbian theatre (The Bereaved Family, produced by Mata Milosevic, The People's Representative, produced by Dejan Mijac) and truly successful experiments with changes in genre (A Suspicious Person, produced by Sonja Jovanovic, Mister Dollar, produced by Miroslav Belovic, The Masses, produced by Dejan Mijac).

For more information on Nusic, please see Petar Marjanovic's essay on "The Theatre" from the book "The History of Serbian Culture" available on the website of Project Rastko Internet Library of Serb Culture, http://www.rastko.org.yu/isk/pmarjanovic-theater.html


From the old Monastery photo-Album, photo before the WW2
The Icon of the Holy Virgin of Pec was taken from home to home to bless the Serb Orthodox families