Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hitler is Always Present in My Father-in-Law's Conversation

At first it was slightly delightful, because after torrents of Srpski, at last one of my husband's parents said a word I could understand. "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Hitler..."

I have never, to my knowledge, heard my own, American father mention Hitler in conversation. Not once. Nor my mother either. They were in their teens during WWII, and keenly aware of it, but it's not remotely the center - or even outer edges - of their thoughts now.

For Serbs of my parents' generation, however, WWII is a frequent point of reference in normal everyday conversation. Hitler slips into sentences like a tiny, silver minnow, and then slips out again. Partly this is because the war hit closer to them. My husband's parents were actively involved in the partisan movement and Hitler's troops and allies killed many of their relatives, not to mention burning the house down.

But, also I think partly because if you watch Balkan TV stations, especially TV in Croatia, WWII isn't limited to an occasional old movie on an inconspicuous cable channel in the mid-afternoon. WWII is still and continually prime time television. It's almost like there's a news vacuum between WWII and now, everyday life. Or just things Serbs and Croats would rather not reminisce about at this time.

I don't mean to get too deep. But you can understand how, when a Serbian friend who is precisely my father-in-law's age came to visit us in the US for a dinner party, Hitler popped into the conversation in less than 30 minutes. Of course he did.


Anonymous said...

unfortunately, there's a 'vacuum state' with many things perceived in Serbia, that is why they are so behind everyone else....and will be for a long time to come...

Danica said...

ah, not surprising. in everyday media, as you probably saw films, series presenting WW1, WW2.
also, not only serbian, but some british (BBC's) series on this (e.g. Black Adder) are very popular among people.
i guess, it's a part of a history, but also it's past, but older people have this *need* to talk about 'good old times" or some advetures.
hopefully, my generation doesn't think/talk that much about those issues, only when is some specific context.

nice to see you in serbia again: )

goldie said...

I hear Iraq coming up more often in conversations I have with in laws in Serbias Especially in comparison to Kosovo.
The places bombed by Americans stand has monuments, to what I don't know.

I still hope its not hypocrisy

Traven said...

Isn't the History Channel often called Hitler Channel? And what was the Godwin's Law about? Perhaps what you are talking isn't so peculiar.

But the above comments have shown a couple of genuine Yugoslav peculiarities: disrespect for the ways of the elderly, and for the veterans.

Ivan, 32