Good evening. Thank you for
agreeing to talk to us.
yourself by giving your
name and the date and
place of your birth.
My name is Predrag Lucić. I was
born on February 12, 1964, in Split.
Where do your parents
come from, your family?
My father was born in Pokrovnik, a
village on the way from Drniš to Šibenik.
He was born before
the Second World War
reached this part of
the world, in 1940.
My mother was born in Zenica,
during the war, in 1941.
What did members of your family do?
My father was a barber.
He was trained and worked
as a barber, here in Split.
Later he went to Germany
as a 'gastarbeiter',
mostly working on
Was he married at the time?
Yes, he was married.
And your mother?
My mother worked as an accounting clerk,
at the shipyard in Split. Before that
she had worked as a bank clerk in Doboj.
The two of them met in Doboj.
Is that why she came to Split from Doboj?
Yes. They got married and they
came here. I was born in 1964,
and my brother was born
some time later, in 1978.
Was your family, either
side of it, in any
way affected by the
Second World War?
Yes, both sides were affected.
My grandfather was called
up for army service.
He was a member of the 8th corps.
He fought with the Partisans, he took
part in some of the toughest fighting.
He'd been trained as an
artilleryman before the War, at the
School for Reserve Officers in Sarajevo.
that he acquired during his
military service in the King's Army
was valuable in the battles for Knin,
Mostar, Široki Brijeg... He saw the
end of the war on Sveta Katarina.
When did he join the Partisans?
This is your grandfather
on your mother's side?
No, that's my grandfather
on my father's side.
My grandmother says that the
war changed him completely.
That he had been a different
man before the war.
That he'd even made bread at home,
though this wasn't usual in
a patriarchal society. After
everything that he went through,
mildness wasn't exactly the
dominant streak in his character.
Grandmother would always defend him
when he was a bit nervous. She would say:
"Let him be, my child, that's
what the war has done to him."
He's been through quite
a few nasty battles.
He received two medals for bravery.
never wanted to become
active in the military.
He didn't want to join the Party.
None of that interested him. He
was of a different mind-set; he
actually came from a traditional,
Catholic family. He went to war because
he was called up, not because
of his personal beliefs.
Not because of his personal beliefs.
But he did an honest job.
Now... His own brother
was in the Croatian Home Guard
[armed forces of the Independent
State of Croatia] and his fate
remains unknown to this day.
He disappeared somewhere near Bleiburg.
Many stories have been told in our
family about his possible whereabouts.
In fact, nobody has any proof.
He never made contact
from anywhere, for anybody
to conclude with certainty
that it was really him.
[mobile phone ringing] Excuse me.
[mobile phone ringing] [humming noise]
So, my grandfather's brother
was never back in contact after
the war. Nor did he ever appear.
That remained a sort of family trauma.
I think it still is.
Although, even if he had survived
all of it, today he would have been
at a late stage in life, nearing the end.
I think there are still
some family members who are
hoping that he'll appear from
somewhere, that he'll call.
My grandfather, despite
the medals for
bravery that he received
from the Partisans,
had huge problems after the war.
his brother who had
fought on the other side.
He didn't like to talk about it.
We know about it from the stories
of other family members. Some from
my grandmother, some from the uncles.
Anyway, OZNA (The Department of
National Security) often paid a visit.
They wanted to know if there was
any information about his brother.
Presumably, they resented the fact
that my grandfather didn't want to
become active in the army
after the war, and that he
only wanted to mind his own business.
He wasn't a supporter of
the new regime. Although
he'd risked his life
in the Partisan army.
The war, of course, also
hit the part of the family
from my mother's side, in Bosnia.
They were Serbs living in the area
of the Independent State of Croatia.
They had to flee, and so on.
My grandfather worked in a
Partisan bakery for a while.
He didn't carry a
gun, but he was
a supporter of the movement, so to say.
Somewhere in Srednja Bosna.
During the war they went from Zenica,
then they took the route
from Ilijaš to Breza, and
afterwards to Prnjavor up
there in the north of Bosnia.
Their house was burnt down.
The house where my mother
lived with her grandmother.
I think it was some Circassians who did it.
Along with many other things.
It's a sad story
that my mother has been carrying
as a trauma throughout her life.
My grandmother didn't live to see the
liberation. She died on May 8, 1945,
as a result of typhus and all of
the horrors that she went through.
I was born 19 years after the end
of the Second World War, but,
through stories that I
heard from an early age,
the War seems to me like something that
has determined the lives
of both of the families.
Then after the war, when
the 'clean-up' started
in 1948, following the
my mother's uncle, who had been
in the Partisans and who worked
in today's Banovina building,
in the same office as Branko
Mamula, later Admiral Mamula,
was playing cards in front of
the Hotel Park. He played for
money. That was his passion.
He played against an OZNA officer
and he beat him. He cleared him out.
That card game ruined his life.
Seven years of
Bileća and Goli Otok camps followed.
A family was destroyed. His
wife returned to her family
in Novi Sad. His son,
who was born after he'd
ended up on Goli Otok,
was picked on by other children.
Children, as cruel
as they can be at that age,
always called him the son
of a traitor, a Stalinist, and so on.
You know how
word gets around amongst the kids.
he did his seven years,
he joined his family
in Novi Sad, his wife and child.
Shortly after he came back,
his son died in a fire. That
was yet another story that
started in the Second World War and the
Sometime at the end of
the 1950s it all ended
tragically for him.
Those are some of the stories
from my immediate family
that I remember from childhood.
Let's move on.
What was life like for
your immediate family,
your father, mother,
yourself and your brother,
during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in Split?
My parents were proletarians. When they
got married, they had almost nothing.
They lived as tenants. That was the
reason why my father went to Germany.
Here he had worked as a barber,
in the private sector that existed in
those times. But there was no chance
for him to earn enough money
to buy an apartment. Also,
my mother's earnings in the
shipyard weren't good,
and she wasn't on the
list of those eligible to
get an apartment. He
went to Germany to earn
the money that they needed to
buy an apartment. He would come
home for a couple of months; he
would take a longer holiday.
Later he was coming two or
sometimes three times a year.
Anyway, from when I was five years old,
he was away in Germany.
He died there in 1991.
Shortly before the
war started here.
He worked until then?
Yes. He died aged 51.
How did you live in terms
of material wealth?
Well, what took him to Germany
certainly wasn't prosperity.
When he started working
there, things got better.
We managed to gather the
money for the apartment.
I did have some things that
other children didn't have.
Apart from the other children of
gastarbeiters or sailors. I would get some
toys, jeans, some records
and similar things
that weren't about in
Yugoslavia at that time.
Could you say that there were some
differences in the class sense?
Well, there were class differences in
Yugoslavia, we shouldn't deceive ourselves.
There was a privileged group that,
in the sense of housing and high salaries,
lived much better, in a material
sense, than other people.
Although, that difference was
nothing in comparison to
what this predatory capitalism brought us.
But when we're talking about
Yugoslavia, or Yugoslav society,
I believe we need to tell that
story honestly; that it wasn't an
ideal society, but that some
aspects of social security
were very well provided.
Of course, there were
all of the faults that
the people have in their character,
and that such a system, that was
rigid in some aspects, entails.
It did rely on the
holy trinity: Party-Army-Police.
We shouldn't demonise Yugoslavia,
as has been fashionable
in the past twenty years,
as a land of blackness,
prosecution and inequality.
But at the same time, that
social aspect of the system
shouldn't be idealised.
What was childhood and youth in Split
like in those years? Youth, in particular.
Can you compare it to the present times?
What was it like, in terms
of new books, records,
things that were of
interest to young people?
Well, in that respect Split was a big town.
There were a lot of sailors who
were bringing a lot of things.
Then there were the
gastarbeiters, and the
people who travelled abroad.
I think that we had
all of the things that reached
the biggest Yugoslav cities.
We had even more of certain
things. Heroin, for instance.
But I wasn't a consumer, so that
whole story didn't fascinate me.
Split was an open town,
an open-minded town. I think
people gladly came here.
It had a certain fine Mediterranean spirit.
Of course, not everything here was
fun and games. We shouldn't idealise
Split of that era. It had
its social divisions.
And there were...
Some things were simmering here too.
Things that would explode in the 1990s.
Were the differences between nationalities,
or differences amongst people
noticeable at the time?
I think that those differences,
if you wanted to see them and
if you were paying attention, could
have been seen everywhere in Yugoslavia.
I think it's a notorious lie
when today somebody says:
"We didn't know who
was who and what."
Everybody knew everything.
It was only that some people
paid attention to it.
And some didn't. To some it was really
irrelevant what a certain man was
in terms of nationality or religion.
And then there were others, many
of them members of the Party...
We saw it later, in 1990, when those
supposedly big communists became
hard-core nationalists. Actually,
even earlier, in the 1980s.
So you see...
The question of nationality was, at the
same time, something that was taboo,
and yet in a certain way
was also emphasised.
In fact, socialism
was quite firm
with nationalists, and not
only of one ethnicity,
as they like to say today in
Croatia, or in Serbia, or wherever.
I think it was harsh towards
everybody. There isn't
a nation in this area
whose nationalists, or people
accused of nationalism,
didn't end up in prison, or
weren't on trial, and so on.
So-called nationalistic songs
were forbidden everywhere
in Yugoslavia. And
everywhere you could end up
doing two or three months in prison
for singing something of that kind.
Although, I think that was nonsense.
To prosecute people for verbal delicts.
I also think that nationalism
was in fact cultivated
through the education system, and through
that socialist dogma that always
talked about national liberation.
The War of National Liberation.
The story told that the Partisan victory
also brought national emancipation
to all people and
nationalities in Yugoslavia.
How correct - or not - that
is, is a different story.
There is a national aspect
in reading history... I mean,
there wasn't only a class aspect,
but also a national one.
This template, from which
nationalism later bloomed,
was already in-built. It
was a part of the system.
That is a paradox.
To young people today, that sounds
unreal. But it really was that way.
When did you start university?
In 1984, in Belgrade.
Faculty of Dramatic Arts.
Theatre and Radio Directing.
What was that like?
Well, first of all, I was of course
fascinated with the change of life.
done compulsory military
service before that.
But it was then that I actually
started living on my own.
That happy student life, in
a big city where you can't
decide where to go first, what to see.
Which film, concert, which
bar to go into first.
I felt a certain shadow
over those years; a feeling
of disintegration in the air.
Serbian nationalism was then starting to
manifest itself openly. Both where you
were expecting it, and where you weren't.
It was present in the media, in
everyday life. It appeared mainly
in the form of rage against the Albanians.
Because of what was then called
'the situation in Kosovo'.
A certain anti-Albanian
sentiment was predominant.
But at the time that wasn't
an exclusively Serbian story.
That was present in other
areas of Yugoslavia, too.
Using state propaganda,
happenings in Kosovo were presented
purely as "Great-Albanian
chauvinists are trying to
break our Yugoslavia apart".
What was true, and what wasn't...
In those years it was impossible
to find out, because people
either kept quiet or spoke so
that nobody would hear them.
Naturally, things later
exploded the way they did.
Since you attended the academy,
I suppose you were a part of
a cultural-theatrical milieu. In
what way did nationalistic ideas
manifest themselves in that circle?
There were some
who have to this day remained
citizens of the world, in a way.
that better part of Belgrade,
There were also people who were getting
into the whole nationalistic story.
Naturally, I was annoyed by that.
Not because they were
Serbian nationalists, but
because they were nationalists
in the first place.
That seemed hollow to me.
Is one more annoyed by a talented
nationalist or an untalented one?
Untalented people are always
more annoying, in every respect.
You feel sorry when you see a talented man
who's obsessed with
things that are basically
narrowing his perspective,
shackling his openness.
In the end of the day, I think
that's how one's talent
gets limited too. Quite strong passions are
involved there. When a man is
overcome, it's hard to let go.
We saw many examples - I won't
list them now - of people
whose minds were sapped by their
obsession with nationalism.
How long were you in Belgrade?
When did you finish your studies?
I finished in 1988. I was
there at the time of
the 8th Session of the
League of Communists.
That was quite an interesting experience.
after the 8th Session I
went to an Azra concert.
At the House of Youth. The
first song went "they're
coming, red as blood / sharp
and brutal as sweat."
That could have been applied to daily
politics. The evening before the concert,
there was the 8th Session.
On the way to the
House of Youth, in
front of the Assembly,
there was a Belgrade Television vehicle.
They were covering what was in fact
a sort of putsch in the Serbian Party.
I started to grasp the whole meaning
of it whilst I was in Belgrade.
Through talking to people
who knew more than I did
about contemporary Serbian politics.
time I wasn't particularly
Milošević, Draža Marković,
Stambolić, Buco Pavlović and others.
I'd just read what was in the newspapers.
Some of it was clear to
me, but a lot wasn't.
Some people from Belgrade
who were more liberal
- that is to say those who weren't
into nationalism of any kind -
were actually warning me
that what had happened was
a very serious matter.
And that there could be consequences
for every aspect of the future.
Not only in Belgrade and in Serbia,
but also in the whole of Yugoslavia.
In those circles, the most
popular publication at the time
was Danas, that was printed
in Zagreb. Those newly emerged
Belgrade dissidents -
people who were suddenly
banned from stating their opinion
about Slobodan Milošević,
Stambolić, Buco Pavlović and so on -
in any official media in
Serbia, they published in Danas.
???/////Olako obećano brzini./////???
At that time, Bogdan Bogdanović,
Mirko Kovač and others
gave interviews and wrote
texts mainly for Danas,
which was a respectable
weekly magazine at the time.
Now, about that nationalistic
vein that existed...
I saw it in historical supplements
published in Duga, and so on.
Or through an emerging insistance on the
"old glory of the fatherland", the
glory of the mediaeval kingdom.
The emphasis on the
Orthodox Church and so on.
And of course, that story of
Serbia being a the permanent victim
in Yugoslavia. One that
loses in peace what
it gains in war. Something
along those lines.
How Serbia - in both World Wars -
liberated the Croats, the Slovenes,
the Albanians, the Muslims
and the Macedonians.
And look how those nations
were now repaying her.
Of course, that story had
no connection with reality
and it was also irritating. And
it was becoming ever more loud.
After Milošević got into
power, the nationalists started
Someone looking at Belgrade might have had
a superficial impression that they were
the only ones to be heard. One
could also hear other voices, but
you had to know how to listen.
I went home for the holidays,
it was the 1st of May or perhaps
the 29th of November 29.
I went from Belgrade to Split.
There were people on the Riva
basking in the sunshine.
"The 8th Session? Milošević?
What are you talking about?
Who are those people? Why
would that be important to us?"
Of course, people who then refused
to hear anything about this,
being apolitical or through
for what was more
or less a boring
story, with time became
fanatical about those same
political stories. And then you
couldn't keep them away. When I
became tired of the stories about
Milošević, Tuđman and all that, that
was all that they wanted to talk about.
During that time in Belgrade,
did you feel like a Croat?
Huh, I felt like an Albanian.
I felt like an Albanian every time
I read some nonsense about the Albanians.
Since you're asking about the
theatrical circles; there
really were some great people. In the end,
some of them are today important in
the renewal of cultural cooperation
between Serbia and Croatia. But there
were also some proper chauvinists.
And they were particularly
loud at that time in Belgrade.
They felt like they could be.
There were some
theatre pieces... Of course,
not only in Serbia.
But there were more in
Serbia than anywhere else.
Pieces that glorified the
nation and that played to
the basest nationalistic passions.
Of course, I mostly avoided
those shows. There were so many
better and more interesting things to see.
But I'm not going to pretend
that I didn't notice.
When talking about theatre in those years
one thing was particularly sad.
A show that
had picked up more or
less all of the prizes
in Novi Sad came to
Belgrade: "Derviš i smrt",
performed by the Albanian
Drama Theatre from Priština.
With a fascinating performance
by Istref Begolli
as Ahmed Nurudin. Directed
by Vladimir Milčin.
The show came to Belgrade,
where the theatres
were always full when any
show came from Zagreb,
or from anywhere else. There really
was a certain established curiosity.
It was simply incredible to me
that there were only 40 people
in the Yugoslav Drama
Theatre who came to see
a show that was coming from Sterijada
Festival with such a reputation.
Of course, at that time
that anti-Albanian hysteria
in the Belgrade media became
just that - hysteria.
Why did you leave Belgrade in 1988?
Why did I leave? Because I
was at the end of my studies.
I only had my final thesis to do. I
finished the one for radio directing.
I still had to do a graduating theatre
piece in Split, for theatre directing.
For of certain reasons
that are not relevant
to this story, that didn't happen.
So I did
my show in Tuzla.
That was also an
Tuzla in 1989.
I had sat through all
of the courses I had
to do at university and
I didn't really know
where and what I would do in life,
where I would end up. It
seemed somehow normal to me
to go back to Split for a start.
Besides my family and friends,
there was another thing that drew
me to Split. It was called Feral.
Feral was then published
as a satirical supplement
in Nedjeljna Dalmacija.
As soon as I started
university, I became their associate.
Viktor Ivančić sent me a letter after he
and his colleague
from the paper Fez
- Velimir Marinković - won a prize
called "Seven Secretaries of SKOJ".
Then Nedjeljna Dalmacija
invited them to prepare
one issue of Feral themselves.
Feral had already existed.
At the beginning,
it was edited by
Then there was talk of discontinuing
it, the editors were changed.
Nobody was entirely happy with it.
Then Viktor and Vele started
doing it with full sails,
with the same energy that that student
paper Fez was done, which at the time
collaborated with other youth publications
all over Yugoslavia.
So their pilot issue
of Feral worked out. They accepted
a full time engagement on it.
Viktor was absolutely horrified.
Suddenly they had to fill an entire page
every seven days. That seemed an
incredible amount to us at the time.
He sent me a letter asking -
if I had time and wanted to -
whether I would write something or
suggest something that would be good
for Feral. That's how I started
contributing whilst I was still a student.
That story with Feral grew with time.
It managed to hold on,
despite various pressures
that existed, but that weren't
mentioned in the press.
There were also
some legal actions.
By official duty, the state's attorney
would sue you for offending the
President of the Yugoslav Presidency,
or the Yugoslav National Army,
Brotherhood and Unity, or whatever.
To me, Feral was a really good thing.
Something like a rock
band, or a theatre group.
Something that you
were working on
with a full heart
and sincere belief,
which to many people was incomprehensible.
At the end of the day, I think
that Feral pushed some boundaries
that were well established in that era
of publishing and society in general.
In that era? It's still the same...
Yes. Those were the 1980s.
Viktor and Velimir's Feral started in 1984.
Was that dangerous in a sense, in the SFRJ?
With the risk of legal action and so on?
It was. Viktor had the most problems.
He was there all the time. I
was just an external associate.
Viktor had the most problems.
There were various threats
and pressure applied. At the
end of the day, there were
those legal actions too.
Because of those, he had problems doing
his military service. When they finally
did let him serve, he was
the oldest person in the
military barracks after
the barracks commander.
So, in terms of age, there was the
lieutenant colonel and then him.
That year when he finally
went to serve in the army,
in 1988, Boris Dežulović
and I took over Feral.
By the third issue, we
managed to get it banned.
But... You feel good when you're
24 and your paper gets banned.
Particularly in a certain system
where things like that were unimaginable.
That was in
fact the first time in the
history of Slobodna Dalmacija
that some of its publications were banned.
What was it banned for, specifically?
In Feral, we were making fun of
the Serbian meetings of
support for Milošević.
We transposed that story
onto the relations
in the then 'community
For those who don't know what
that was, Split, Solin and
Kaštela constituted a
'community of municipalities'.
Solin, and Kaštela in particular,
wanted more autonomy.
In our story we made Split
play Serbia, and Solin
and Kaštela were like
Vojvodina and Kosovo.
The district attorney ordered all of the
issues to be confiscated from the kiosks.
There was a trial. We were defended by
Mirko Franceschi, a fantastic
advocate, who made a fantastic
speech before the judge, Branko
Šerić, who is now a notable lawyer.
He ended by referring
to Nušić, the one who
said: "Does one use
a sabre on satire?"
The judge Branko Šerić cleared us of
responsibility. And a lot had been put
on our backs:
insulting the system, insulting
Brotherhood and Unity,
devaluing all efforts that
the broader social community
was investing into resolving
the situation in Kosovo.
The list was sufficient for a
good hundred years of imprisonment.
Of course, nothing came of it. At that time
the system was in its
last throes and in fact
those moves by the district
attorney in Split,
who was particularly
diligent - he even banned
the youth publication
Iskrica a few times -
seemed almost tragicomic.
It was obvious that things
were breaking down. Naturally, one couldn't
sense that it would end
as it did. But people who
travelled a bit more,
who read more and who looked
about themselves a bit more
could sense that it would
be hard to avoid war.
Do you remember the moment when you
thought that the war would happen,
that it was about to start?
Well, I had that feeling
for quite a long time.
I'd had it since the
time I was in the army.
In 1982 to 1983
I was in the engineering unit in Prokuplje.
It was clear to me then that
strong national tensions existed.
With certain people.
And that those were very flammable.
I also saw that the so-called
social community and the
JNA were approaching it in
a completely idiotic way.
They were pretending that
the problem didn't exist.
some soldiers get into a fight. There
are fists flying and there's swearing.
And then the security captain gathers
the entire barracks together
and makes a speech. And
then he explains to us how
we should behave. He says:
"If you're to swear at each other,
don't bring being a Serb,
Croat or Slovene into it."
Basically, the man told
us to swear at each
other, but without
I think that that's one
simple and descriptive example
of the attitude towards that problem.
Just don't mention the question of
nationality. Pretend that it doesn't exist.
Pretend that the national
differences don't exist.
And everything else is OK.
Swear at each other. Do everything
else. Just don't touch that.
In fact, the national question
wasn't sacred at all.
Being silent about
it was sacred.
Have I bored you yet?
No, no. On the contrary.
So that means that from 1982 you had
a feeling that it would end in war?
My mother used to think
that I was crazy when I
would say that. She was
always saying: "Don't.
Don't go against the system."
I was terribly annoyed with
everybody, from Milka Planinc,
Admiral Mamula, and so on.
I was terribly annoyed with all of
that rotten and boring political story.
In comparison to the
rest of your generation,
were you more or less
interested in politics?
I don't know. Perhaps I
was more political. But
what did being political
mean at the time?
It wasn't a matter of talking about
a change of system,
or talking of Branko Mikulić and all
of those politicians at the time.
In fact, it was about rebellion.
At the time after Tito's
death there was a certain
counter-cultural spirit of rebellion
that was present through rock music,
through films and theatre,
somewhat through literature. That
was present in our daily life.
Some people of my generation lived
for the latest record by Azra,
or Pankrti, Lačni Franz or Haustor.
It was almost a question of identity.
You were different.
It was instantly known that
you didn't belong to the
quiet and tame crowd
who were members of the Socialist Youth
League. You could already see that lot
soon taking the places of
those fat-asses on television.
Were they the mainstream?
Yes, they were the mainstream.
existed something else
that was contrary to it.
It existed in Croatia, and it existed in
other parts of Yugoslavia.
And that was the whole conservative story.
What that meant was something even
more conservative than the mainstream.
It was the dominant idea
of religion, nation, and
return to the old values. Of course, in
the early 1980s you didn't hear about
the possible break-up of Yugoslavia.
Only through jokes and allusions.
In particular in Croatia after 1971,
that story wasn't publicly present.
In fact, people who felt that
national tumult were
in a way subversive.
That wasn't pervasive.
But that isn't the story
that seemed most important to me
at that point. Although it was in
fact becoming ever more present.
As the nationalists in Serbia
became ever more loud, the same
was slowly happening in other parts too.
In Slovenia, the nationalists
became emancipated fairly early on.
Those nationalist stories were becoming
ever more common. It wasn't
something that I was driven to join.
But I was interested in why
it remained such a taboo.
Why did some people not
have access to media?
For instance, Miko Tripalo,
Savka Dabčević and the whole team
that was deposed in Croatia in 1971.
In the same way that in Serbia,
the more liberal of the
communists were later removed.
Why were their names always
mentioned in a low voice?
So I started - through
the youth publication
Iskra and through Nedjeljna Dalmacija -
to create a space for some
normal discussion about it all,
to see what really happened in 1971.
And the newspapers had just
started mentioning 1948.
That means that in the 1980s,
they were shyly mentioning 1948. As for
1968... "We'd better not talk about that."
That means, as we were heading
towards the end of the 1980s,
all of those stories
suddenly started opening up.
And instead of a more or less normal
dialog about the subject,
both inside respectable republics and on
a Yugoslav level, what we actually got
was confusion of tongues. We
got howling and shouting.
So after those legendary
17 or 18 years of the
"Croatian Silence" we had
a "Croatian dissonance".
Then you understood that many of those
people didn't in fact have anything to say.
But I still insist on their right
to say their own nothing.
So that after all of the nonsense
that has happened to us here,
there is some progress.
If indeed in this grand
'shopping centre' there is
still a chance of forming
some kind of human society
based on principles other than
national-religious identities or
I still stand behind a man's right
to say his own nothing.
Or something that doesn't
really amount to much.
When it comes to the young people of
the 1980s, the 20 to 30 year olds,
you mentioned a group of
alternatives - let's call them
alternatives - those who
lived for a new Azra record,
and some others who
were mainstream, going
to school and then
university and so on,
and then the more conservative ones...
Were there any
other cultures or counter
cultures that were evident?
I'm asking about sports supporters,
lumpenproletariat... Were they visible?
In Split, for instance? What was
youth culture like in the 1980s?
There were other groups. Supporters
movements have been strong
for as long as I can remember.
From what I read, they
seem to have been strong
throughout the entire
existence of Yugoslavia.
They were a sort of a pressure valve.
They allowed people to let
something out in a group,
that they otherwise
wouldn't have been able to.
Those national and
nationalistic energies were
bursting from the
stands in the stadiums.
Do you remember the moment
when the war started?
When suddenly there was a
war and that was that?
When did the war start?
I don't know... In my professional
biography, aside from my satirical writing
in Feral during the 1980s and later,
I mention that I was not only a war
reporter, but also a pre-war one.
It's more or less the same thing.
simmering here in Dalmatia after the
marking of the Battle
of Kosovo and the
consecration of the
Lazarica Orthodox Church
in Knin. That was when the
national tensions grew.
For the first time, there was
shouting: "This is Serbia!"
I was a young reporter in
Nedjeljna Dalmacija, and I mostly
got to cover that bitter
terrain around Knin.
I was watching how things were
getting worse week by week.
How people were losing
their sense of reason.
And I saw the power of propaganda...
When they are fed something
through television and newspapers,
people take it in and become somebody else.
That was important to me,
and not only so I could write a good story
for my newspaper. Not only for that.
I was interested, as a human: "For
goodness sake, what's with these people?!"
There was a man in
some village around
Knin in 1989, who was
showing me his axe
that he had in his car,
I think it was a Lada,
and telling me that he never went
anywhere without it. I asked: "Why?
Has any trouble started here? Is there any
physical violence? Has it come to
that? Are there fists in the air?"
He said: "No, no. I just don't
feel safe here anymore."
I said: "Well, why? Who are you afraid of?"
They always had a story, they always
turned it into someone else. For instance,
a cousin came from somewhere and he didn't
feel safe. Somebody gave him a wrong look.
That's how those stories slowly start
and it's incredible how
comfortable people can feel
in that anxiety that they've created.
In the end
it becomes the meaning of their lives.
I could talk about that for many hours.
I drag on about it now. I haven't managed
to explain it to myself entirely.
Actually, it was some time before the war
when I figured out that
I'd be on the losing side. I think
that those who lost in this war
are all of those who didn't want
it to happen in the first place.
I think that all of those
people are losers.
I remember one man...
The place is irrelevant, his nationality
and his religion and so on are irrelevant.
He said to me: "Don't you start
trying a reconciliation here!
Do what you came here to do.
Write. And then
go to Split and publish
what we're saying.
Don't ask us too many questions
and don't try to reconcile us.
Don't start with "Why this? Why that?
How did you do this and that
up until today? How come you
suddenly can't do the same now?"
Then it definitely became clear
to me that those people who
up to that day have live more
or less normally together,
or who at least tolerated each other
- they didn't have to love one another,
but they tolerated each other -
those people would very soon
point a gun at one another.
Does the story with Feral
at that moment stop being a
rock band and becomes something
tougher, more serious?
Was there some sort of change?
I think that that certain craziness,
that was the energy that drew Feral along,
was still functioning.
Feral has actually never been
a joke, or ha-ha-ha, plain
humour, three kids making
fun out of this and that.
Feral was also an attitude
towards the world.
Feral's satire has always had
a certain bitter note because I think that
Viktor, Boro and me were all aware
of what was coming.
I think that certain premonitions
of what was coming were
more visible in Feral,
a satirical supplement, than
they were on the so-called
serious pages of our weekly
and daily newspapers.
We never took ourselves too seriously and
I think that that's one of the secrets
of our survival for so many years.
When the war came,
we had the experience of being
pre-war reporters, who got
stuck in journalism due to
the force of our curiosity.
Naturally, since you've been seeing it
all up until then, you asked to be sent
to the most troublesome areas. It was
normal to keep doing the same thing.
To see what was happening
with those people.
Of course, the most hard core nationalists
from that period were the
newly-converted ones, who before that
had been in the Party. Who were
telling us what SUBNOR was,
what SSOJ was,
and what the Mother Party
had to say about it all.
Naturally, they suddenly
started telling us
how we should think from the
perspective of the Mother Nation.
They're always, damned foetuses.
They always need some kind of womb
so they can feel comfortable and secure.
To have warm water around them.
So for us, nothing had changed there.
We went on
with our story. Public
sensitivity became greater.
As the war broke out, there
were a lot of people
who thought that...
When the war broke out in
their heads, not around them,
then they had ideas of what
things should be like.
That meant a "no" to our kind of newspaper.
just wanted to be given orders,
to have them fixed on posts.
Something along the lines of:
"To whom it may concern!"
The whole business of Feral
drove people like that crazy.
At the same time, we had
a certain background
as people who spoke their
mind about Slobodan Milošević
and the Serbian nationalists on time.
When more or less nobody
else in Croatia dared.
So for those people who embraced
the whole nationalism thing,
or who were earlier on
slowly taking it in,
we were - in their own words - some
sort of national heroes at the time.
Because: "You said to Milošević...
You said to the Serbs
what needed to be said."
I mean, we weren't
saying or writing those
things about the Serbs
because they were Serbs.
But because the Serb nationalists,
who at the time were the loudest,
paved the way for all that later
happened. At the same time, for my part,
the survival of Yugoslavia
as it was, in those
circumstances, was not
something that I wanted.
I mean, if they thought that Yugoslavia
would survive, and could only survive
if it followed the scheme: the
Party - the most dominant -
the army - the police, and
if it had comrade Milošević
with his proxies running it all...
That kind of
Yugoslavia, no thank
you, we didn't need it.
In general, the question
of states is not
something that is a field
of interest to me.
I'm just trying to make clear
what things were like.
And, in the end of the
day, how misunderstandings
with some of our readers arose.
Or, with their perception
of how suddenly we
"great fighters against the
Great Serbian nationalism" sold
out to communists, Serbs, masons
and god knows to who not.
When did that change occur?
When do you become
infamous in your
neighbourhood, in your street?
In that sense.
It started with the whole madness...
When the barricades around Knin
appeared, as an intro to the war.
The Croatian response
to Serbian nationalism
was equally loud and equally daft.
Then of course there was our response
to Croatian nationalism, that
people were unable to understand.
They treated it as a national treason.
Of course, they were
encouraged by Dr Franjo Tuđman
and his faithful HDZ members who
used every opportunity to point out
that we were, in fact, enemies of Croatia.
And that we were the followers of
ORJUNA members from Split,
that we were all children of
members of the military (JNA),
officers of KOS, and so on.
Of course, those stories
were so daft that
you didn't feel the
need to refute them.
I mean, Miroslav Tuđman had
to refute that he was a
child of a military man.
[laughter] I didn't have to.
I wasn't hurt by that.
Even if I was, so what.
Are there situations when
it's dangerous to be
a child of a military
man, in adverted commas?
You carry that stigma
of being the national enemy. The enemy of
the nation, of the HDZ, of Croatia.
But we have to be aware of the fact
that Tuđman's story didn't
appeal to everyone here.
As much as what Milošević
offered didn't appeal
to many people in Belgrade and in Serbia.
So they actually never managed
to succeed in their own plan:
to make the whole nation breathe as one.
To unify everyone and to
have us all in alignment.
It then happened that
Feral acquired new readers in
some people who were previously
perhaps annoyed by us.
Who had thought that we were slagging off
the communists too much,
the Serbian communists, that
we were making too much fun of
the Army, of Brotherhood and Unity,
and all of the taboos.
Those people who didn't
flock to the nationalists,
who didn't overnight become nationalist,
suddenly found themselves in
disfavour under the new rules.
Their lives changed drastically
just before the war and during the war.
Some of them who even wrote
indictments against Feral
at the time of Yugoslavia and socialism,
recognised in Feral - particularly when
it became an independent paper in 1993 -
the only place of freedom for them too.
For them who used to hold power,
and who were suddenly disempowered.
The only place where they could recount
what was happening to them and make what
was happening to them seem a priority,
without any malice, without mentioning
who did what to whom before...
Regarding what you asked me
about the additional
work of the Feral time,
it probably existed even before
Feral became an independent paper.
At the time
when Slobodna Dalmacija
was being stigmatised.
That was when we started working
on more than just that satirical
supplement, on top of those
four pages that Feral had.
We wrote stories, interviews, commentaries,
we touched on subjects that we
would later deal with in Feral.
About those early-war happenings,
when someone's human rights were
brutally infringed, when people were
forcefully taken from their
apartments, from their work, and so on.
That was when you could once again
see the curse of this job,
in just the same way as when that man
told me: "Don't you try and reconcile us."
Or when you see a woman who
was born here in Split
- her, her husband, her son -
being chucked out of their own apartment.
One of those people who never placed
any importance on nationality.
She cries and she asks you: "What
did I do wrong? Is it my son's fault
that I'm not of the same
nationality as you?"
By chance, I was of the same
nationality as those who
threw that woman and her
family out of their apartment.
That's when you
start feeling sick.
You feel ashamed in the
name of the whole town.
Of the whole country that's
letting that happen.
At the same time, you were
working for a newspaper
that represented one of
the very few addresses
that those people could turn to.
You must know that
at the time Slobodna Dalmacija
stood like some kind of a
substitute for a parliament.
Anything could have been read in it.
That was where Aralica
published his insane writings.
There were nationalistic, conservative
commentators. OK, let them be.
But there were also texts
in which facts were twisted.
In which the expulsion of people
from their own apartments
in Split was presented as
liberation of those apartments.
In Slobodna Dalmacija?
Yes. There was a meritorious
widow of a Croatian soldier
that some ex-occupants were not
welcoming towards, and then they were
tauntingly called by Serb
names, Uroš and Miloš.
It was in fact me who wrote
an article to counter
what had been published in
Slobodna Dalmacija the day before.
There had been no listening
to the other side.
The side that at the
time was threatened.
That was only possible
in Slobodna Dalmacija.
Not in other newspapers.
Could you have read in
any other Croatian newspaper in 1992 that
someone had been evicted from
their home, that a civilian
had been beaten up, that
he had ended up in Lora,
that he had been killed, and so on?
You could only
have read that in Slobodna
Dalmacija at the time.
Of course, along some other things
that do not speak in
Slobodna Dalmacija's favour.
The publishing of the so-called
list of KOS members.
Haranguing against the imaginary
snipers on the tower blocks.
All that went along with
that war psychosis,
that a part of Slobodna Dalmacija was not
immune to. But there were people inside,
amongst the editors and
amongst the journalists,
who wanted to write fair stories
about what was really going on.
Who didn't want to go along with
state propaganda. That's how
in Slobodna Dalmacija you could
have read the first text
about the abuses in Lora.
The famous text by
Zvone Krstulović about
the case of Đorđe Katić,
that was published in 1992,
in Slobodna Dalmacija.
Those were the first
writings about what was
happening in the town.
About the terror
brought upon civilians, upon the
families of the one-time military members
who had stayed here. Upon civilians of
the wrong nationality. That was eventually
written about on the pages
of Slobodna Dalmacija.
Then HDZ came in, and we
resigned and started Feral.
Naturally, everything that we and some
of our colleagues at Slobodna Dalmacija
had been writing about until
then couldn't be read
anymore in Slobodna Dalmacija
after it was 'liberated'.
It was normal for us to
continue to do it in Feral.
That weight that you've asked me about,
and that I've been talking so much about,
could mostly be felt in 1995,
sometime after Operation Storm.
Then there were again
with some of our readers.
With people who'd been
reading Feral for all
of those years. They
were calling us up.
They couldn't understand
why no joy could be felt
in Feral regarding the
liberation of the country.
Where was all of this writing
coming from and why,
the stories about what was
happening in the villages
around Knin, Drniš and so on,
in Lika, on liberated territory.
At the time - alongside the
Croatian Helsinki Committee
and the International Red Cross
- Feral was the only place
those people could turn to.
The families of the
people in those areas
who'd been mistreated.
A man comes to you
to tell you about his father and
mother who hadn't left for Serbia
after Storm, who had stayed
here, and who were having
the liberators or
somebody in the name
of the liberators
You start feeling terrible. You're
there and you're just a journalist.
Sitting in an office.
And it's terrible that
that man has nobody
else apart from you
that he can tell his story to.
That's something really terrible.
Amongst all that euphoria,
probably not even their neighbours
or their friends wanted to listen to them.
At the beginning, nobody wanted to believe
that there were crimes being
committed, that there was
plundering on a large scale.
Although everybody could see
people who were coming
back loaded with things,
with war and post-war plunder.
Nobody wanted to believe that
there were houses being set on fire.
At the beginning it was
easier for people to believe
that it was all Feral's invention,
that we were looking for problems
because at all cost we wanted
to be different or because
we had even darker intentions concerning
the Republic of Croatia
and the victorious army.
Were you subject to any form of violence?
No. Amazingly, I wasn't. There
were, of course, some comments,
threats, provocations when I
was going around the town, but
it didn't happen that someone attacked me.
Were you a direct
witness of violence, of
infringements of human
rights, or anything similar?
In what way?
Well, of course. As a war
reporter, you see it.
There was one incident...
At the very beginning of the war, in
Slavonia, in Čepin close to Osijek.
It was one of the more horrible sights.
There was a guy in camouflage uniform.
A member of the Croatian Guard.
Although, there were
all sorts of uniforms at the time.
Some were bought in C&A,
some were worn only once for parading,
some were of course serious.
In the middle of the road, he was
kicking a policeman with his feet.
A policeman who was wearing a
Croatian Ministry of Interior uniform.
He was giving him a serious kicking.
Hitting the policeman's head with
his feet. The traffic had stopped.
The drivers were either sitting
in their cars or they got out.
Nobody dared to stop it.
Nobody dared to stop it. This guy
was completely out of control.
Naturally, me and Viktor Ivančić,
who also witnesses it all, and
Željko Maganjić, a photojournalist,
described that episode
in one of our reports from Slavonia.
A few days later I
asked Kramarić, the
mayor of Osijek, if
he knew about it,
and what was it really about?
He said: "I know."
A petty criminal, that this policeman
had ran afoul of officially,
now found an opportunity
to take his revenge.
Of course, to my
question: "How are
you thinking of
there was no real answer. Or
at least there was no answer
that could be used in practice.
What were the bright points
in Split in those war years?
In the 1990s in general,
when we're talking about
that period from 1991 to 1995?
There were things...
You know how in a war some people show
their worst face,
the worst side of their character,
and some show the best of themselves.
When the war broke out in Bosnia
in 1992, refugees started coming.
They were wandering around.
It was the most normal sight
to see other people taking
them into their homes.
"Why would you sleep in that gymnasium?!
Come with me." That was really happening.
As much as there were brutalities
towards the citizens of Split,
the turning of heads away from
what was happening,
there were examples of
quite the opposite.
There were examples
of human solidarity that
weren't just for show.
Life, the master-director, makes sure
not to make the whole story pathetic.
Split was not a town
that was directly involved in the war.
It wasn't on the front line. It was
some sort of a suburb of the war.
Where those from the background
got to have their ball.
And they are always worse
than those on the front lines.
But sometimes there was
also joy in the town in those dark years.
Otherwise, it would have
been impossible to survive.
What helped you to survive the war?
My friends and Stefanel.
Feral and Stefanel. Stefanel that at
the time was run by Miro Bogdanović.
Where people gathered even during the
sirens and during blackout.
People came there and it operated
as a sort of a release valve;
it was a place for hanging out,
joking and drinking. For
everything that the young enjoy.
Could you compare, on
any basis, Split today,
Split in the 1990s and Split in the 1980s.
Is it a more relaxed town,
more tolerant? And in what way?
Of course, it was darkest in the 1990s.
that never became clear to me.
Why some people feel such need
to demonstrate their love
for the country, their patriotism,
through violence, through
humiliation of other people.
And why they feel invited
to behave the way people from
other towns that were really hurt
- people from Vukovar,
Dubrovnik, Zadar and so on -
never behaved. I'm even
inclined to think that,
when all of that happened in 1995,
the burning down of houses, the
mistreatment of the old people in villages,
the plundering... I don't
think those were people who
had had the same thing
happen to them in 1991 when
Krajina was established, and who
were then taking their revenge.
I don't think it was a
question of revenge.
I think that the cases of those
who had had their house burned
down later going out and burning
other people's houses are rare.
I think that on both sides it was
done only by hooligans and pyromaniacs.
When it comes to the 1990s
one mainly remembers Split
by those dark things
that were happening.
Although, of course, there was also
Slobodna Dalmacija and there was Feral,
there was the work of Nikola
Visković, Tonči Majić,
Miro Bogdanović and all of the
other people who remained... Human.
There was resistance. Resistance
to that infective madness.
And in the 1980s, Split was
a town that could hardly imagine
that it would sink so low.
I think that it will take a
long time to recover from it all.
What is stereotypically being
said is not the real problem.
It's not the change of the inhabitants,
not that the wild people have come
and thrown out the tame ones. The savages
didn't come from somewhere else.
They were already here.
Those who went wild,
they went wild here. It didn't come
from Bosnia, or from Herzegovina,
or from the Dalmatian Hinterland,
or from the islands.
And it didn't come from
Australia of New Zealand.
As for Split in the 2000s...
A confused place.
A town that cannot
find its place in
this predatory capitalism.
OK, it's not an exception in that
sense. But I think that some things
are felt more strongly here.
At the end of the day,
the bad city management that
we had throughout these
20 years paved the way
for this caricature of
government that we have today.
Today when you hear the name Split,
I'm afraid that the first association
is not even Hajduk anymore, but Kerum.
In your opinion, when did the war end?
It hasn't ended. I don't
think that it's ended.
People are more or less behaving
as if it's still going on.
It will end, perhaps, one day
when people in Croatia and
people in Bosnia and in Serbia,
everywhere where there was war happening,
decide so. Of course, this doesn't happen
overnight and it doesn't happen easily.
When they finally become capable of
listening to other people and to their
experiences. When they are capable
questioning what was presented to them
as the one and righteous truth.
When they are
capable of looking one another in the eye
and of talking about it all normally.
I think very little has
been done, almost nothing,
in order to make that happen.
All of the states
are playing with those who
were hurt the most in the war.
Everybody's only mentioning their own
nation's sufferings, their own victims.
Everybody's only looking
for their own missing.
We now have the first of the
have been formed
in these systems, who do not remember
anything from before, who do not have
anything to compare this with.
happening at this moment
somewhere abroad. But
those are some completely
different experiences. That
means that they cannot make
this comparison with the
1980s, the 1970s and so on.
They are taught to see everything
through a prism of
and to interpret everything through it.
That way of thinking is very hard
to break, once it takes root.
All in all, I think
that one fair lesson in history,
in all that was happening
from 1991 until the end
of the war, until today - because
the manipulations with war
are not stopping - would only be a start.
Some kind of a start. I'm not sure
to what extent people who went through it
are really interested in it.
Or how tired they are from everything.
It's been 15 years since the war.
Life is now hurting them by other
means. They're impoverished.
They've been humiliated in
all possible ways. So perhaps they don't
even want to deal with that story of war.
How much it will interest
the younger generations,
that remains an open question.
I hope that some,
who are more curious than us, will
appear. Some who are more open than us.
How interested are your
children, for example?
Well, they're interested.
Perhaps because it's
talked about in the
house, it's commented on,
because I write about it.
Because that story
is an integral part of what
I do in the newspapers.
And in the "Melodies of the
Fight and Transition".
They can see it at home, from a
perspective that is not usual.
Other children mostly
don't have that, so my children
are perhaps more interested.
I'm interested only in encouraging
their curiosity and openness.
So that nobody can sell them
their hollow stories and
Thank you for talking to us.
Thank you. Have I bored you?
No. It was good.
You can cut this, shorten it as you like...